Trees

‘let food be your medicine’

By Dr. Orna Izakson


beans and oregano.

beans and oregano.

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (460-377 BCE) famously said “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.”


Gardeners know the best way to get your veggies is fresh and organic, ideally straight from the farm or garden. But beyond simple nourishment, scientists are finding some foods specifically help prevent or reverse certain diseases. Published research from the past few months alone has shown fruits and veggies protect your heart, brain and eyes, and help fight asthma, cancer, swine flu, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.


Much of the research looks at isolated constituents in the foods, although of course there’s more to fresh fruits and veggies than the isolated “active ingredients” scientists have identified so far. All the components in the plant work synergistically, and do more than just one thing.


Here’s a short list to get you started. (more…)

placebo blues

Filed under: depression,mood cures,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Orna @ 10:56 pm

There’s big money in medications for depression, and drugs such as Prozac and Wellbutrin help many people who take them. But a growing body of research finds people getting sugar pills instead of meds also feel better —making some researchers wonder if the drugs are “nothing more than expensive Tic Tacs.” That was the conclusion of a January 2010 study (“Listening to Prozac but Hearing Placebo”) published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association. The findings raise a moral dillemma: If patients feel better because they believe in the medications, is it right to tell them the improvement is all in their heads? Another question is whether drugs should be the starting point for depression, or a last resort if natural therapies like exercise, probiotics, fish oil and others don’t quite lift the dark clouds.

brain food

Photo by Oktaviani Marvikasari.

Photo by Oktaviani Marvikasari.

You’ve always heard that fish is brain food. Now, a growing body of research is supporting that contention.

 

One study published in the February edition of the Archives of General Psychiatry found that fish-oil supplements high in omega-3 fatty acids warded off psychosis in high-risk teens. Study participants received either fish oil or a placebo for 12 weeks. One year later, more of the fish-oil teens were still psychosis free. Researchers say the results are as good as those seen with antipsychotic medications, with benefits lasting longer than any other intervention. And, unlike typical pharmaceutical prescriptions that cause problems including weight gain and libido loss, fish oils seem to have no major negative side effects.

 

Other studies are finding that omega-3 oils can help the mind stay young and sharp. Earlier reports found that DHA, one specific form of omega-3, helped slow dementia but didn’t help folks with Alzheimer’s disease. A February report in the Journal of Neurochemistry suggests that EPA, another omega-3, may do the trick. The report’s authors believe EPA helps slow the natural decline of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, helping keep the brain young and boost memory and learning. Both DHA and EPA are typically found in fish-oil supplements in varying ratios.

 

A version of this post originally appeared on Wellwire.com.

six great reasons to start gardening

wide purple basil

My favorite seed catalog came in today’s mail.

What’s new for 2010: organic Floriani red flint corn, green meat radish, Bolivian rainbow pepper, purple pac choy, ruby streaks mustard.

This is why I started gardening – I was awed by the incredible diversity of life I could sustain on my little corner of earth.

There were other reasons too. After my urban upbringing, I longed for the pastoral and bucolic ideal of self sufficiency and thriftiness. And certainly there were the political reasons: getting off the corporate food trough while promoting biological diversity and personal health.

But what really pushed me past reading and into action was a full-color catalog that arrived one Winter’s day. I saw purple carrots, speckled lettuces, striped snappy string beans, and a bright orange tomato that turned out to be an eggplant! If your vegetable education came largely from mainstream supermarkets as mine once did, you’ll understand my shock. Who knew there were purple potatoes, or that we could grow Thomas Jefferson’s beans or the Anasazi’s corn?

These days I’m a passionate gardener and my garden supports over 100 species. Here’s why you should tend a garden, even if it’s just a couple of plants: (more…)

holiday in blue

December 18, 2009

Photo by Nihan Aydin.

It’s the “most wonderful time of the year” — and depression is rampant. Between the darkness (if you live in the northern hemisphere), family drama and financial stresses, it’s a time when many people find their mood going in an unhappy direction. Here are some tangible tips for feeling better. (more…)

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