Monthly Archives: October 2005

Turmeric The Spice of Long Life

Turmeric The Spice of Long Life

Competency # 14 SUPERFOODS

Reference:   J Biol Chem. 2005 Feb 18;280(7):5892-901.

Turmeric hit the news last week when Time Magazine put Andrew Weil on the cover.  Under his article, Living Better, Longer, Dr. Weil recommends a few ideas that haven’t hit the mainstream.  One of them was: if you aren’t eating curry regularly, take turmeric in a supplement form.

This is what we know:  In India, in age matched populations with the USA, there is less than 1% incidence of Alzheimer’s over age 65.  The absolute ratio of India to America is 1/4.4.  That’s huge.  I would like to reduce my risk of Alzheimer’s by 80%!

How It Works:  Yang: at UCLA published a mouse experiment with Mouse Alzheimer’s, showing that tumeric STOPPED the aggregation of amyloid, the protein that makes the Alzheimer’s.  There is only this one article so far, but it seems to be real and the NIH is starting larger studies.     J Biol Chem. 2005 Feb 18;280(7):5892-901.

In a study published last year in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, scientists gave three groups of mice different amounts of curcumin extract for 15 weeks. Mice fed the most curcumin showed a 40 percent reduction in benign tumors caused by the same gene responsible for most types of colon cancer in humans. Mice fed the lowest amount of curcumin showed no reduction in tumor size.


Recipe of Yummy Cabbage and Potato Curry

Indian food does not need to be spicy hot to be delicious.  What is wonderful about it is that you can use this curry recipe to make dozens of different vegetable combinations that are delicious, low fat, and get you to eat more vegetables with enthusiasm.

Cabbage: one medium head chopped up into moderate pieces

One large onion

5-6 chopped potatos (I like red but any will do.  Lots of potassium in all of them)

1 tbsp chopped garlic

Fry onion and garlic in 1/2 cup veggie oil

1 tbsp chopped garlic along with it,

1 tbsp chopped ginger

2 tsps cumin seeds

2 teaspoons black poppy seeds

1 tablespoon coriander powder (or one bunch fresh chopped)

(red pepper to taste.   None is fine.  I put in about 2 tsps)

Stir and fry to get the spices rendered a little and the onion to brown

Add potatoes and fry for 2-3 minutes stirring

Add the cabbage:  sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of TURMERIC over the cabbage


Salt to taste

1/4 cup water to keep it from burning and steam the finished curry

Add fresh coriander here if you use it.

It’s yummy and takes about 10 minutes to fix.

Other great combinations:  pea and potato,


Living to 100

Living to 100

Competency #20Lifestyles of the Long Lived

Reference:National Geographic October 2005

This is the Nugget from National Geographic this Month

Three Populations around the world are being studied for making healthy 100 year olds.   These three populations are unique in that they have very high rates of longevity and dramatically lower rates of the illnesses that are killing us in our 50s-70s.

1.  Okinawa.   Their secrets:  “Eat only until you are 80% full so that there is enough for everyone.”   It is culturally appropriate to eat a little less.The elderly are considered very wise and valuable.  You touch elderly to get strength from them.  Get together with friends.  Enjoy the sunshine.  (a bone to the Vit D argument).  Abundance of fruit and vegetables.  They eat more food in pounds than we do.  But many less calories.

2.  Sardinia:  Off the coast of Spain.  many time’s the 100 year olds than anywhere else in Europe. They eat lots of omega fatty acids:  their meat is all grass fed.  Their cheese has high omega fatty acids.  They drink daily wine in small amounts.  They never stop working, men and women split the work evenly.  They have a high respect for their elders.  They never dream of putting a family member in a nursing home.  And their elders all still work.

3.  Seventh Day Adventists:   Right Here in America:    They really take a Sabbath once a week on Saturday.  The family is together and they don’t work.  They worship in church (as a trivial point, church attendees live longer lives than non-attendees).  They are vegetarian and eat no meat.  The movement started back in the days when Kellogg was inventing his cereal to find nutritious ways to be vegetarian.  They eat lots of nuts, cheese and peanut butter. They believe in finding your purpose in life.  They have a reason and a goal for living.

These are the secrets to integrated health.  It’s not just the food.  It’s the amount (eat to 80%).  It’s the type  (less meat, more veggies).  It’s the social network and family and friends,  It’s the purpose and roll you play in your life.

Wishing you all purpose, good cheese, family and friends.  Raise a toast.  Once a day!

WWW:  What will work for me.  What I see integrated into each of these is the importance of family, of purpose, of belonging.  Meals are something to share.  Life is an integration of all of the above.  Work is not just where you earn a living but how you feel purpose and belonging.  Here’s a toast to wishing you and yours meaning and belonging, and a lovely meal to share it over.

Vitamin D Part III: SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder

Vitamin D Part III:  SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder

Competency #17 Vitamin D

Reference:  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 69, No. 5, 842-856, May 1999

As winter approaches, we all have a little dread about how the effects of winter.  SAD hits all of us who live in Wisconsin to greater or lesser degrees.  Now, there are some clues as to why.  From submarine studies, we know that the serum Vit D level drops from 50 milliunits/ml to 20 if you provide no supplement at all.  These submariners are under the sea for 3 months at a time and get no sunlight so they make a great study population.  It takes 2000 IU a day to keep their blood levels at a steady state of about 80 units, which is considered the current optimum.  If you want more detail, the American Jr of Clin Nutrition has a wonderful article from 1999 that gives all  that (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 69, No. 5, 842-856, May 1999)  Submariners have also allowed us to learn that the half life of Vit D is about a month.

We have just gotten our last good dose of sunshine in Wisconsin.  The sun is hereafter too low to make any significant Vit D.  It takes 4 half lives to get a drug out of your system.  So, Vit D will halve each month for the next:  Oct, Nov, Dec, JANUARY, we all go nuts.  Our Vit D is used up then too.  No wonder the winter blues hit hard in Jan and Feb.  And, in fact, measurements of most Americans shows blood levels below 40 by Feb.

Now, in the most reputable journal of all, the monthly AARP newsletter, recently published reports from the University of Toronto and the University of Sidney both show that you can raise your brain serotonin, the source of mood enhancement, by taking Vit D.  There is lots of older literature comparing Vit D to artificial sunshine to deal with depression.  Both work, but older literature looked at doses of 400U a day for fear of Vit D toxicity. The Toronto folks suggest you need 2000 IU a day.  This is the highest level someone has used in a clinical trial with no side effects or toxicity.

Vit D Toxicity:  Is it real?  Is it actually a myth!  Vieth, in the above detailed article traced down every single last case of Vit D toxicity since 1939 and found mostly cases of hyperparathyroidism that was being masked by being Vit D deficient.  I found an article on one family of 11 from S. Africa that inadvertently cooked a meal with peanut oil that had 600,000 IU of Vit D per ml.  Each person got 15-20 mls of peanut oil and all 11 got confused, had nausea and vomiting.  And all fully recovered.  Most interesting was the fact that all their blood levels of active Vit D were Normal.   So we know that 12,000,000 IU of Vit D is toxic, but that you recover from it.  We also know that lifeguards and farmers will get blood levels of 240 and not be toxic.  So, 2000 IU a day is so far below anything toxic, its a laugher.  Your kidneys set the pace.

WWW: What Will Work for Me: I find myself a little short in Jan.  I am going to try it this winter.  2000 IU a day and will see if I get by a little easier.  Between the submariners and our recent studies, we know 2000 IU gets your blood level to 32 nanograms.  Optimum health may require a higher baseline, but for now, that appears to be sensible.  I have a very bright UVB grow light in the basement.  Maybe a little indoor gardening will be in the picture too.

Final Tidbits on Battling Winter Blues with Food:  There is evidence that people who eat more oils and less carbs are more cheerful and have higher mood measures.  Same for fish.