Blender trend: Aronia berries are beyond superfood

Link to National Aronia Council

Native to North America and also known as chokeberries, aronia berries are gaining popularity over acai and goji berries for super high concentrations of anthocyanins – or the dark blue almost black pigment that amps up the fruits antioxidant capability to the point of being medicinal.  We always joke that all the superfoods come from the Andes, so this is great news for American farmers who are cashing in on the Whole Foods revolution.  I promise you will see this superfruit everywhere in the next 5 years because of it’s pest resistance, sustainability, and demand commercially.  Blue-black is the new green and aronia berries are the new kale.

Research at the Department of Preclinical and Clinical Pharmacology and Biochemistry at Medical University in Varna, Bulgaria demonstrates pronounced anti-inflammatory effects, improved liver function, and gastrointestinal protection from aronia fruit juice in lab rats.  Antibiotic and anti-viral properties of aronia juice were also noted by the researchers.  In the presence of aronia juice, Staph aureus and E. coli would not reproduce in the petri dish as well as type A influenza virus.  The authors cite that aronia berries “normalize the carbohydrate metabolism in diabetic patients and in streptozotocin-diabetic rats, have an in vitro antimutagenic activity and exhibit a distinct immunomodulatory activity in human lymphocyte cultures and in patients with breast cancer, suppress the growth of human HT-29 colon cancer cells, inhibit the N-nitrosamine formation in rats and decrease the toxicity and cumulation of cadmium in liver and kidneys.”  

On a lighter note, other research indicates that ingesting aronia juice prior to exercise reduces cell damage (oxidative stress) by boosting the body’s natural antioxidant defenses.  Read more about aronia here and check out this resource for buying freeze-dried organic aronia as well as jelly, syrup, and other aronia berry food items.


Grains of truth: A rebuttal of “grain brain”

Click here to read the Brawn, Brains, and Grains of Truth article

Dr. David Katz, epidemiologist and founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, writes a rebuttal in response to the Medscape Neurology interview given by David Perlmutter, MD on January 21, 2014 about that gluten being linked to dementia.  Dr. Katz is the author of the book, Disease Proof: The remarkable truth about what makes us well and Nutrition in Clinical Practice: A Comprehensive, Evidence-Based Manual for the Practitioner. The third edition of his textbook has 10,000 citations.  Read the rebuttal article here.  James Hamblin writes an exceptional exploration of both ends of the field in his article for the Atlantic magazine where he interviews both authors to get straight answers, read it here.

Crazy about sprouts

How to grow sunflower sprouts link

Sprouts are a fun way to add enzymes and crunch to salads – I really like the mild flavor of sunflower seed sprouts and although soaked almonds may not count as a sprouted, Autumn and I prefer the taste to dry almonds.

The Austin Sustainable Food Center posted on their website: “Ready to start sprouting? You’ll need a mason jar, a screen for the top of the jar, seeds, water and sunlight. Here’s how:

Add 1/4 c seeds to jar (more for a larger jar).
Add 1 c water.
Allow to sit for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Pour water out through screen top, add more water, swish around and pour out again. Set jar on windowsill (setting jar on its side will allow the seeds to spread out). Do this twice a day for 4 days.
After about four days of rinsing, draining and sitting on windowsill, your jar will be filled with gorgeous, tasty, nutritious sprouts!
Eat right away or refrigerate for 1-2 days. Best fresh. Because they are grown in warm conditions, children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts (including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts).”


Facial filler can cause permanent vision loss

The cherry red spot of central retinal artery occlusion.

A study published online March 27 in JAMA Ophthalmology reports that facial filler injections can lead to irreversible and severe vision loss due to various types of blockages in the artery of the eye that nourishes the retina.  Different degrees of occlusions are associated with the kind of filler used and patients who received autologous-fat injections were the likely to have the most severe adverse outcomes.  A report published on March 6 2014 in  JAMA Ophthalmology by Dr. Richard Roe from Retina-Vitreous Associates Medical Group in Los Angeles investigates permanent blindness and vision impairment in patients who had forehead injections with three different types of fillers.  He tells Reuters Health by email that “given the dramatic rise in cosmetic facial filler injections over the past decade it is not surprising that we are seeing more reports of complications,” and that  “these results only reinforce the fact that these cosmetic procedures are not without risk and that blindness, though likely a very small risk, should still be discussed as a possibility during the informed consent process.”


Powered by green smoothies

As seen in Outside online:

“Can a green smoothie transform your life? After watching 56 minutes of Powered by Green Smoothies, I had to say yes. In the new documentary by Sergei Boutenko, ten ultrarunners and CrossFitters kept their typical training and racing regimen unchanged but added a quart of green smoothies—packed with leafy greens and fruit—to their diet every day for six weeks. The result: Those who could follow the program experienced quicker recovery and significantly less soreness… [read more]

~ Rachael Schultz, Outside Magazine

Acupressure massage for eye strain video tutorial

The Academy of Oriental Medicine recently posted about the health benefits of goji berries, including improving age-related eye sight symptoms.  Grace Tan, PhD, MD (China), OMD (China), LAc from the AOMA specializes in eye disease, ENT (ear, nose, and throat), allergies, digestive disorders, female disorders, pain management, stress, insomnia, and cancer wrote this about eye massage:

“I also teach my patients how to do self-massage around the eyes. Eye massage is popular in China to prevent children from becoming near-sighted. For mild eye problems, these simple massage techniques can be of great benefit. In severe cases, eye massage is a useful supplement. Through the guidance of an acupuncturist who has been trained in this therapy, a patient can easily learn eye massage and do it at home for mild eye disease like dry eyes and eye strain.”

Botulinum toxin injections improve depression

Link to Innate Beauty website

At the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) 72nd Annual Meeting, presented March 22, 2014, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern in Austin and Allergan consultant (makers of Botox), Michelle Magid, MD presented research suggesting botox (botulinum toxin) injections improved symptoms of depression, even after the forehead wrinkles returned.  The researchers were encouraged by this particular finding, suggesting that the anti-depressant effect isn’t just related to the cosmetic improvement of erasing wrinkles.  Skeptics point out that although the study is interesting, the results are complicated because the subjects were able to see the cosmetic improvement from the botox injections.

Dr. Magid explained to Medscape Medical News that two possible reasons exist for the improvement in depressive symptoms.  “The first is that the botulinum injections made it difficult for the subjects to frown. If individuals smile more and frown less, they are likely to have better social experiences, which could lift mood. The second possibility, favored by Dr. Magid, is a biologic explanation. MRI studies have shown that when people are unable to make angry facial expressions because of botulinum injections to the glabellar region, there is less activity in the amygdala than expected. Such a connection could be mediated by the trigeminal nerve, which links the glabellar region to the brain stem and amygdala and is the control center of anxiety, trauma, and the heightened fear response. If a person can’t frown, the brain does not register a frown, and the amygdala does not get the trigger that the person is upset”.  It is interesting to note that patients with depression and anxiety were affected more significantly than those with strictly melancholic depression.  Read the entire article written by Jim Kling for Medscape Medical News here.