If you’ve ever walked into a room and couldn’t remember why you were there; misplaced your keys (or even your car in a parking lot); or forgotten the name of an acquaintance, you might have momentarily wondered if you were losing your mind. If you’re over the age of 50, you might even be seriously concerned about the possibility of Alzheimer’s.
It’s a valid concern. According to the 2008 Alzheimer’s Association figures, more than five million Americans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, approximately 500,000 Americans under the age of 65 suffer from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Although a decline in memory and brain function is generally regarded as an inevitable part of growing older, in reality, brain aging is caused by poor cerebral circulation, mitochondrial dysfunction, inflammation, oxidative damage, and decreased levels of anabolic-repair hormones, including DHEA and testosterone. All of these factors contribute to changes in the brain that lead to neuronal degeneration and cognitive impairment.
Continue reading “Herbs and Nutrients to Keep Your Memory Sharp”
This is one of my favorite tempeh recipes. I created it several years ago, and enjoy it at least a couple of times a month. Toasted sesame oil adds a rich, nutty flavor; coconut oil is equally good and adds an Indonesian flavor to the dish. I like to serve this over steamed brown basmati rice. Serves 4.
1 12-ounce package tempeh
2 freshly squeezed lemons
2 tbsp. toasted sesame seed oil (or melted coconut oil)
2 tbsp. untoasted sesame seed oil
3 medium zucchini, sliced
2 cups shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 red pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large sliced onion
2 tbsp. tamari
Dash of ground pepper (black and/or crushed red pepper for some extra spice)
Continue reading “Recipe: Lemon Broiled Tempeh”
Over the past few years, soy seems to have gone from the best food one can eat to the worst. According to soy opponents, tofu causes everything from birth defects to pancreatic cancer. It’s no wonder that people are concerned and confused.
In my opinion, there is a great deal of fear-mongering as well as inaccurate (and one-sided) interpretation of studies. Hundreds of reports in leading peer-reviewed journals worldwide provide compelling research that soy helps to protect against cancer, most notably breast cancer. For example, researchers at Japan’s National Cancer Center followed the eating habits of more than 20,000 women for a decade, and found that those who consumed at least three bowls of miso soup daily reduced their risk of breast cancer by about 40 percent. Miso (a concentrated fermented soybean paste) and all soy foods (as well as many other legumes) are rich in isoflavones, natural compounds that appear to impede the growth of some tumors.
Continue reading “Should You Eat Soy Foods?”
As a musician, I’m attuned to the transformative power of music. My father was a musician, and I grew up listening to classical and jazz compositions. I was intrigued by the complex rhythms and melodies of jazz, and was inspired to begin playing the bass guitar in my early teens. In my early twenties, I added another dimension of music to my life when I entered a Franciscan monastery and experienced the meditative chants of the monks. I always felt that I both lost and found myself in music, whether it was classical, jazz, or Gregorian chants.
As a researcher, I’m interested in understanding exactly how music affects the body. From the beginning of recorded history, sound and music have played a significant role in healing. Whether through the hypnotic drum rhythms of an African tribe or the sonorous chants of Tibetan monks, music pierces the soul and accesses the power of healing in a way unlike any other.
In the West, there’s a growing interest in music therapy. Studies show that music helps to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression; eases pain and muscle tension; lowers blood pressure; and improves immune function. People with cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia, anxiety, and depression have all been shown to benefit from music therapy. For example, researchers at the November 2008 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions meeting in New Orleans presented a study showing that emotions aroused by joyful music have a beneficial effect on blood vessel function. Laughter and relaxation are also helpful, but music seems to be the strongest of “medicines” for the heart.
Continue reading “How Music Heals”
When people ask me to name the most powerful medicine I know, many are surprised when I respond, “Love.” In my two-and-a-half decades as a healer, I have observed that love is the greatest of all medicines and is the true essence of all healing.
My work brings me into close relationship with people facing life-threatening illness. It’s not uncommon that upon diagnosis of a serious illness, such as cancer, that people are often struck, as for the first time, with a deep understanding of the preciousness of life. It’s as though the thought of life being taken away is what sparks renewed life. Suddenly, our goals in life change—often radically—and we reevaluate who we are and where we are going. With great clarity, we become certain about who and what is important in our lives, and we know how we want to live out the rest of our days.
Continue reading “Love As Medicine”
I’m intrigued by research on the Blue Zones, which are essentially hot spots of longevity. In these areas of the world, it’s not uncommon for people to still be living active, healthy lives beyond the age of one hundred. So far, researchers have identified five Blue Zones:
- Sardinia, Italy
- Okinawa, Japan
- Loma Linda, California
- Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
- Ikaria, Greece
These areas are diverse geographically, culturally, and spiritually. But what they have in common is a lifestyle that naturally supports all of the facets of good health: physical, emotional, and spiritual. People fortunate enough to be born in Blue Zones eat healthfully (a plant based diet, accented with small amounts of animal protein). Continue reading “Secrets of the Blue Zones: The World’s Hot Spots of Longevity”