I know just did a post on how berries may fight cancer, but I seem to have collected a couple more studies with the same theme: sometimes the food we eat can help fight diseases we'd rather not get, or help us with other tiresome medical conditions.
And in addition to the most recent studies, the Google reminded me of some similar research that I'd seen lurking around the web but never got around to mentioning. So what the heck; I'll throw that in here too.
One annoying fact that totally messes with this post's "theme": often these studies used extracts and pills rather than actual food. But, at least what they stuffed into the pills was at one time real food.
So here's a quick quiz: can you match the food item with the particular health study that Crabby randomly landed on when she went to write this post?
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fish Oil (Omega-3)
Hot Flashes and Menopausal Depression
Inflammation leading to Heart Disease and Diabetes
Pencils down? OK, let's see what we got:
Menopausal Depression and Hot Flashes:
And the winner is: Omega-3!
A study of Omega-3 and menopausal symptoms recently published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that Omega-3 helped ease "psychological distress and depressive symptoms." The women were given one gram of EPA in a gel capsule every day for eight weeks. The study also found that hot flashes dropped from 2.8 a day to 1.6; comparable to results obtained with hormone therapy and antidepressants.
Increased Fat-Burning (plus glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity):
This recent study involved green tea, combined with exercise. Scientists found that young healthy men who were given the equivalent of 3.5 cups of tea (well, yeah, again it was actually Green Tea Extract), and then did cycling trials, had higher average fat oxidation rates than the control group who didn't get the green tea extract. Their "fat oxidation to total energy expenditure" was also significantly higher, which sounds like a good thing.
The researchers said "this has potentially positive effects for athletes who want to increase their fat burning capacity or obese and diabetic patients who want to burn fat and lose weight.”
They also found that the green tea had a helpful effect on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Good stuff, that green tea!
Caffeine seems to help ward off multiple sclerosis--at least in animal studies. Mice given caffeine were 75 percent less likely to develop the animal model of MS than those not given it. The dosage was the equivalent of 6 to 8 cups of coffee a day for humans. In the animals given caffeine who did get MS, they had milder cases and less brain pathology.
Inflammation Leading to Heart Disease and Diabetes:
Tart cherries were shown to help reduce inflammation, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. And again, these were just animal studies, so who knows. The antioxidant anthocyanin was believed to be the reason for the cherries' anti-inflammatory powers.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil may help to fight breast cancer! How? Well, beats me, as this was one of the most indecipherable summaries of a research study I've ever read. But for those of you who can translate this, it is apparently good news!
"The study has shown the anti-HER2 effect of fractions of phenolic compounds directly extracted from extra virgin olive oil in breast cancer cell lines. They have used solid-phase extraction methods of semi-preparative liquid chromatography to isolate fractions of commercial oils and, later, separation techniques (capillary electrophoresis and liquid chromatography connected to mass spectrometry) to check the purity and composition of the fractions."
That's nifty, I guess! As someone who likes Extra Virgin Olive Oil but doesn't much like breast cancer, I'm pleased the scientists think it's good news.
Cinnamon helps! Um, unless it doesn't.
So this one is kinda cheating. Several years ago there were some hopeful studies that said cinnamon could help diabetics with glucose levels, but since then, other studies have said: meh, maybe not so much. WebMD reviewed the cinnamon studies and was not impressed.
However, my own mother just reported that she significantly reduced her blood sugar levels by taking cinnamon capsules! She went from borderline pre-diabetic to a nice healthy number. (Her motivation? To stop getting those annoying pamphlets from the doctor telling her to do all the healthy lifestyle stuff she's already been doing for years).
So who are you gonna believe, some smarty-pants researchers with their statistics and fancy laboratories and control groups and whatnot? Or your own mother? If my levels ever creep up, I may give the cinnamon capsules a try. (I suppose yummy frosted cinnamon rolls might be counterproductive for preventing diabetes?)
Sorry, this is kind of a boring post. Anyone have any favorite natural remedies, nutritional research updates, or amusing old wives tales to pass on?