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The Impressive Anti-Cancer Power of Berries

The Impressive Anti-Cancer Power of Berries

For disease prevention and health maintenance, berries of all colors have “emerged as champions.” Research has focused mainly on cancer prevention and treatment. Studies show that the anticancer effects of berries are partially mediated through their abilities to counteract, reduce, and also repair damage resulting from oxidative stress and inflammation. Berries may also have many other positive effects, such as boosting detoxifying enzymes.

One of the more remarkable effects is that of blueberries on natural killer cell counts. Natural killer cells are part of our immune system’s rapid response team against cancer cells, eliminating cancer cells through the activation of cancer cell suicide via death receptors. They’re called natural killers because they don’t require activation by prior exposure. We don’t want to wait until our second tumor before our immune system starts fighting.

We have about two billion of these soldiers circulating in our blood stream at any one time, but we may be able to get a troop surge with blueberries. Researchers had athletes eat about a cup and a half of blueberries a day for six weeks to see if that would reduce the oxidative stress of long-distance running. They indeed saw a blunting of the spike in oxidant stress. But that’s not what sets that study apart.

The number of natural killer cells in the blood typically decreases after prolonged endurance exercise, dropping by half to only about one billion—that is, unless we’ve been eating lots of blueberries. If you click on the video on the next page, you can see a graph comparing natural killer cell numbers with and without blueberries.  Those who ate blueberries retained close to the standard two billion cells. This is because six weeks of blueberries had doubled the resting number of natural killer cells up to over four billion. This has never before been demonstrated in humans. There was a study on goji berries, but despite a cup a day for a month, there was no significant change in the number of natural killers.

Another study, though, showed a significant increase in natural killer cell activity thanks to the spice cardamom. (Cardamom and blueberries—I never thought we’d be fighting cancer with blueberry muffins!) When researchers took some lymphoma cells in a petri dish and added cardamom, nothing happened. However, if we add some natural killer cells, about 5% of the cancer cells are wiped out. Add a little more cardamom, and our troops do better still. And then if we add more and more spice, then all of a sudden the natural killer cells are killing cancer like crazy—the same number of natural killer cells, but they’re now able to kill off ten times more cancer cells. While cardamom alone had no effect on cancer cells even at the highest dose, it seemed to enhance our natural killer cells’ killer instincts.

The same thing was found for black pepper: Black pepper alone, nothing, but when combined with natural killer cells, there seemed to be a boosting effect up to around 30 or 40% cancer cell clearance. If cardamom and black pepper are combined, they synergize and their individual effects are doubled. The researchers conclude that “Taken together, these data strongly suggest that black pepper and cardamom have the potential to markedly enhance the anti-cancer activity of natural killer cells.”

Exercise itself can improve immune function in general, but the blueberry finding is so far unique.

It is true that the blueberry study was funded by the North American Blueberry Council and the North Carolina High-bush Blueberry Council. However, just because the study was funded by blueberry councils doesn’t necessarily mean the science is suspect, but we would want to see the study independently verified, especially one so dramatic.

(For a convenient way to enjoy your berries, Leesa recommends you enjoy Chews4Health every day! Chews4Health is made with Goji, Noni, Mangosteen, Acai, Dulse, Kelp, Bladderwack, Nori, Vitamin B-12, Folic Acid, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Resveratrol,  Pomegranate, Blueberry, Cranberry, Raspberry!)

By Michael Greger, M.D.

A founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. Currently Dr. Greger serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States. Hundreds of his nutrition videos are freely available atNutritionFacts.org.

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Leesa A. Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

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Sexual Nutrition

Sexual Nutrition


An aphrodisiac, a substance that puts one in the mood for love, can include food, herbs, good conversation, moonlight and even lingerie! Aphrodisiacs are named after, Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, fruitfulness, and beauty. They may have a direct effect on the erogenous zones. Some may stimulate, irritate or be a diuretic, causing one to experience more sensation.

Aphrodisiacs may affect the mind, cause relaxation and prolong lovemaking. Their shape, texture or smell may be reminiscent of sex; according to an ancient worldwide belief called The Doctrine of Signatures, plants give us hints as to what they are good for, by the way they look, smell, taste, and grow. They may be highly nutritious and by improving health, bring about healthier libido. Both sex and food are closely related by being pleasurable and physical.

Aphrodisiacs can be enjoyed anywhere from half an hour to an hour before making love. Best when they are incorporated into one’s daily life for their health tonifying properties. As good health is essential to sexual vitality, good nutrition is imperative. When we are in poor health, sexual vitality decreases.

Many of the foods mentioned here contain the seeds of life: the design and pattern for creating new life, with the potential to grow into a replica of themselves. For example a pumpkin seed planted, could spread into an awesome vine, bearing several pumpkins, resplendent with nourishing seeds, benefiting the reproductive system. A raw pumpkin seed contains this spark of life, yet a roasted salted one would not grow.

Grains for libido include rice (no wonder it is thrown at weddings), wild rice, barley, buckwheat, corn, millet and oats.

In Asian medicine, it is the Water Element or Kidney that governs sexual vitality. According to this tradition, black (and blue) colored and salty foods such as chia seeds, miso, black olives, sea vegetables, black sesame seeds and blueberries contribute to a healthy sex life.

Vegetables play a part in the food pharmacopoeia of sexuality as well. Some have suggestive shapes like asparagus (a genito-urinary stimulant), which was cultivated by the Arabs and Greeks as an aphrodisiac. English herbalist, Nicholas Culpepper (1616-1654) said that asparagus “stirreth up bodily lust in man and woman.”

Shiitake mushrooms are used in the orient to make women more responsive. In general, roots such as carrots, dandelion and burdock help energize the lower chakras. A Japanese proverb says, “A man who likes carrots, likes women. It would be unwise to serve your beloved wilted carrots.” Okra is stiff and exudes a slimy fluid, not unlike sexual fluids.

Garlic and onions are warming and stimulating. Egyptian priests and devout Hindus were forbidden from consuming them in the belief that they would lose control over their sensual desires.

Arugula was often used in ancient love potions. It is still found growing around phallic statues in Greece and Rome. Celery contains androsterone, which is released in the sweat after being consumed. It attracts women and has traditionally been included in aphrodisiac recipes.

Artichokes are an unopened flower. Paris street vendors of the 1700’s used to cry out “Artichokes! Artichokes! Heats the body and the spirit. Heats the genitals!” It is the one vegetable there is more of, after you eat it.

The French word for beet, betterave, is slang for penis or “man root.” Avocados are called ahuactl in South America, meaning “testicle. ” Sea vegetables, both salty and dark colored are mineral rich and nourish the thyroid gland and entire endocrine system, which when under active, lessen libido. Winter squash and cabbage are warming nutritive sexual tonic foods.

Phosphorus found in chutneys, curries, salsas and hot foods stimulate circulation and the sex organs. The Perfumed Garden says “Green peas boiled with onions together with cinnamon, ginger and cardamoms, all aground, create passion and strength in coitus.”

Fruits entice passion with their sweetness and succulence. Consider their shape, hot colors and juicy nature. Apples, apricots, bananas, cherries, dates (especially Jujube – Chinese red dates), mangoes, mulberries, peaches, persimmons, strawberries, and watermelon (eat the seeds) are all considered sex tonic foods. Suck the fruit out of a perfectly ripe persimmon. Try eating ripe mangoes in a bathtub with your beloved.

Figs and pomegranates, known for their abundance of seeds, are traditional love tonics. Pomegranate means “apple of many seeds” and due to its blood red color has long been a symbol of fertility, birth and sexuality. If you are in the tropics where they grow, soursop and durian, you are in luck! These are considered supreme sexual foods. There is a saying in Malaysia, “When the durians fall, the sarongs rise.” Better to eat a piece of ripe fruit than to over stimulate blood sugar levels with excessive amounts of sweet juices.

Nuts and seeds are foods of love. Being fertile, they contain the reproductive energy of plants. Almonds, chia, hazelnuts, hemp seed, pine nuts, pistachios, poppy, walnuts, pumpkin, sesame (especially black) and sunflower seeds are rich in zinc, an important component of sexual fluids. Halvah, made of sesame seed and honey are food for inability to orgasm and to give courage. Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of nutrients, high in protein and essential fatty acids. Soaking them overnight and rinsing the next morning, removes enzyme inhibitors, softens them and enhances their digestibility as well as “bringing them to life” as many will sprout “tails.” Always avoid rancid nuts and seeds.

Chocolate and rose water contain a chemical called phenylethylamine that is also produced by the brains of people in love and simulates post coital bliss. Chocolate was the love tonic of Montezuma who drank some fifty cups daily, before visiting his harem of six hundred women. During the 1800’s, physicians suggested chocolate to boost libido. When enjoying chocolate, allow it to slowly and sensuously melt in your mouth.

When buying rose water, make sure it says distilled to avoid buying a synthetic product. Add rosewater to desserts such as rice pudding and baklava.

Use lavish amounts of the culinary herbs in your cuisine, many of which are considered aphrodisiac, including anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, curry (a blend of herbs), paprika, pepper and turmeric.

Ideal food for sexuality should be light, moist, sweet and easily digested. Moist foods lend their yin to sexual fluids. Naturally sweet foods, such as fruits and vegetables, provide energy and stamina.

Women and men need clean arteries for optimal arousal. A diet overly rich in animal fats (including pasteurized dairy products) can block nerve sensitivity and cause stagnant chi. As erection is achieved by blood moving into the penis, hardening of the arteries can hamper that essential function. Avoid hydrogenated oils such as margarine, shortening and fried foods. Eating excessive refined sugars and carbohydrates decreases libido. Icy cold foods can cool your passions. It is also best to eat small frequent meals to be emotionally stable. In general, eating less is an excellent way to stay sexually vital. Save some hunger for your beloved! Ice cream before bed cools your jets. Make snacks an opportunity for health by eating nourishing foods. Let nuts, seeds, active yogurt, fruit and vegetables replace candy and ice cream.

By feeding a potential mate, you exhibit your ability to provide food and pleasure. Share meals with your beloved as much as possible. Say a blessing first. Enjoy beautiful, delicious, healthful food. Prepare food with a vibration of love, enjoying music, pretty things to work with and luscious organic ingredients. Food tastes great when eaten outside. Enjoy picnics, even if it’s in your own yard, under a tree.

Enjoy the sensation of eating with your fingers. Inhale the aromas of your food. Taste and savor. Let eating be a sensual pleasure. Remember to avoid any foods topically that you may be allergic to orally.

Sharing of food is simple love magic and has long signified trust and bonding.

Flowers are the sex organs of plants. Decorate your food with organic edible flowers such as violets, rose petals (organic – with the white heel removed), day lilies and hibiscus. See my book, Rawsome! for a list of over 120 edible flowers. Show your beloved that he or she is adored! Make food a healthful, beautiful and flavorful expression of your love.

The best aphrodisiac of all is to be deeply in love!

by Brigitte Mars

Brigitte Mars, a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild, is a nutritional consultant who has been working with Natural Medicine for over forty years. She teaches Herbal Medicine at Naropa University, Boulder College of Massage, and Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts and has a private practice. Brigitte is the author of twelve books, including The Country Almanac of Home Remedies, The Sexual Herbal, The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, Beauty by Nature, Addiction Free Naturally, Healing Herbal Teas, and Rawsome!. Find more healthy living articles, raw food recipes, videos, workshops, books, and more at brigittemars.com. Also check out her international model yogini daughter, Rainbeau at rainbeaumars.com.

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