Thursday, March 4, 2010

Garlic, Vitamin C & Potential Cancer Protection

How do you assess your risk for cancer? How do you assess the protective anti-cancer compounds in your body? What if you could assess some basic markers without drawing blood? That's just what new research is promising.

According to an Ohio State press release on research published in Analytical Biochemistry:

“'What we were after was developing a method where we could measure in urine two different compounds, one related to the risk for cancer, and the other, which indicates the extent of consumption of garlic,' said Earl Harrison, Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Human Nutrition at Ohio State, an investigator in Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, and senior author of the study.'Our results showed that those were inversely related to one another – meaning that the more we had the marker for garlic consumption, the less there was of the marker for the risk of cancer.'”

The study showed that while 5 grams of garlic had the best results, vitamin C produced a similar level of protective compounds in urine samples that were tested. So, if you like garlic, live it up, eat as much as you want (or as much as your partner will let you get away with eating). If you don't like garlic, stick to vitamin C.

Rosemary Improves Memory & Reduces Carcinogens in Grilled Meat

Rosemary grows easily in California and also in Spain, where I spent time as a Russian linguist in the Navy in the mid-1980s. Alas, I'm dating myself again.

A member of the mint family, rosemary is fragrant, robust, evergreen, has lovely blue flowers when in bloom, and is easy to grow for the beginning gardener--what more could you want from an also flavorful herb?! I love the smell and like to pinch off a sprig, roll fresh rosemary, and sniff the eucalyptus-like smell on my hands for hours. In the kitchen, I have always liked rosemary, along with lots of garlic, on lamb, and I often sprinkle rosemary liberally on oven-roasted potatoes, yams, and beets.

Rosemary traditionally was used to improve memory and also as a symbol for remembrance (i.e., weddings, funerals, and war commemorations). Modern research has shown folk wisdom to be grounded, specifically finding that rosemary's carnosic acid actively protects the brain from free radical damage.

In another study, rosemary and lavender essential oils were evaluated for their effect on working memory. Interestingly:
  • The scent of lavender significantly decreased working memory (thus lavender as a relaxing choice for aromatherapy)
  • The scent of rosemary significantly increased working memory (thus rosemary as a stimulant for aromatherapy sessions)
  • The scents of lavender and rosemary both improved subjective feelings of contentment (the control group wasn't nearly as content as the groups exposed to nature's scents)
Pretty cool. A case for aromatherapy as well as nutritional supplementation.

Meanwhile, new research shows that rosemary extracts can counter the potentially carcinogenic effects of meats cooked at high temperatures (grilled, fried, broiled or barbecued). Muscle meats cooked this way form toxic heterocyclic amines or HCAs, which have been associated with increased risk of some cancers.

Researchers from Kansas State University decided to investigate compounds that could reduce the amount of HCAs in meats cooked at high temperatures. Five different concentrations of rosemary extracts were tested on hamburger patties being grilled at 375 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

The results were published in the Journal of Food Science and included the finding that: all concentrations of rosemary extract significantly decreased levels of dangerous HCAs in meats cooked at high temperatures. Interestingly, rosemary extracted at lower ethanol concentrations were most effective in reducing the carcinogens in the meats tested.

That the research on making grilled meats safer came out of Kansas is not surprising. After all, Kansas is the 7th largest state in the U.S. in terms of total agricultural production and cattle produces about 60% of the agricultural revenue for Kansas.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Emotions Affect Us at the DNA Level

Gregg Braden has a pleasant voice, sports longish gray hair and a neat graying beard, and has enjoyed a big career spanning the petroleum and defense industries to helping create modern Internet infrastructure. But Braden's passion for over two decades has been discovering and explaining ancient wisdom--including the vast interconnections around us--just like a favorite science teacher from high school would do.

Tess and I were introduced to Gregg Braden (through a YouTube video in which Braden talks about The Science of Miracles ) by our friend, Christy Svanamyr. In the video, Braden talks about a very interesting military experiment on how DNA responds to emotions.

Turns out living DNA, separated from its donor, stays in tune with its human donor, whether that donor is in a separate room in the same building or separated by hundreds of miles. When a human volunteer is exposed to emotional stimuli, DNA being monitored in a separate location registers identical responses, at the exact same time, as does the human volunteer. How cool is that?!

Check out Gregg Braden's video to appreciate the points, which include:
  1. We communicate to our DNA through our emotions
  2. The communication is "non local" meaning the communication is instantaneous, regardless of time and space considerations
  3. Positive emotions such as love, joy, appreciation, compassion, and forgiveness all tremendously relax the DNA--and thus strengthen the immune system response
  4. Negative emotions such as anger, rage, and hate contract the DNA and thus disrupt immune system responses
  5. Human emotions change the shape of DNA, and those changes determine how well our DNA regulates health and well-being
  6. We can boost our immune systems by encouraging positive emotions that relax our DNA enough to do what comes naturally
While some readers may be skeptical, research keeps making the same case, namely that: (1) humor heals, (2) positive relationships with positive emotions heal, (3) touch that feels good heals, and (4) mindfulness--or moving from resistance to acceptance of what is--heals.

This research strikes me as incredibly important. Pass the video link along if you do too!