Turmeric as a Healing Spice, from the Okinawa Program

This 2001 book, The Okinawa Program by Bradley J. Willcox, M.D., D. Craig Willcox, Ph. D., and Makoto Suzuki, M.D., is based upon the 25-year-long Okinawa Centenarian Study. It is one of my favorite diet and health books.

Turmeric has recently garnered respect and much publicity as a medicinal plant from the ginger family. The qualities of turmeric are not news to the famously long-living people of Okinawa, as related on page 149:

Excerpt:

Ucchin, or Turmeric M-J’s pronunciation note: TER-mer-ick

(Curcuma longa, Jiang Huang, Curcuma, Indian saffron, Ukon, Valerian)

Ucchin, commonly known in North America as turmeric,  is one of the Okinawans’ favorite herbs (as it is in India), and claims a multitude of health benefits. It’s known as ukon to the Japanese….

Folkloric Claims

Turmeric is from the ginger family. The stalk of the plant is the part most commonly used in both herbal and traditional medicine, and is the part that provides the distinctive yellow-orange powder that adds flavor and color to curry. It was probably brought to Okinawa centuries ago from India, which had active trade relations with the Ryukyu Kingdom (as Okinawa was formerly known). In Ayurvedic medicine…turmeric is thought to strengthen the immune system, relieve inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, improve digestion, relieve gas, killl parasites and worms, alleviate menstrual problems, dissolve gallstones, and relieve other ailments. The Okinawans are in full accord with these claims, and highly prize their turmeric.

Excerpt, page 150

Turmeric possesses significant antioxidant properties, comparable to that of vitamins E or C, which is probably why it proves powerful against cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research has reported some degree of inhibition for cancers of the GI tract, including oral, esophageal, stomach, and colon cancers. And, there is further evidence for its effectiveness against breast and skin cancers.

Health-Enhancing Blueberries

M-J de Mesterton Still Life with Fruit Smoothie, Copyright 2009
M-J de Mesterton: Still Life with Fruit Smoothie, Copyright 2008

Blueberries contain vitamins A and C, zinc, potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium, are high in fiber and low in calories. The USDA Human Nutrition Center (HNRCA) has ranked blueberries at the very top of antioxidant activity within a range of forty-one fruits and vegetables.

Blueberries contain natural health-enhancers, including vitamin C,  vitamin A, zinc, potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium. They also have many antioxidant properties, and help in the prevention of:

  • Urinary-tract infections
  • Cancer
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Age-related brain disorders
  • Brain-damage from ischemia and strokes

Blueberries have recently acquired a reputation for enhancing one’s cardiovascular health, and their antioxidants naturally help in the prevention of cancer. Recent research has added to the blueberry’s list of powerful properties.

Metabolic syndrome, or pre-diabetes, is exhibited in those with a particular combination of health anomalies,  including larger-than-normal  amounts of abdominal fat, elevated blood-sugar, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides. Together, those conditions are likely to cause diabetes, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

Laboratory-rats that for 90 days consumed blueberry-enriched powder as two percent of their diet had less abdominal fat, lower triglycerides, lower cholesterol, and improved fasting glucose and insulin sensitivity than the control-group, who had no blueberry component in their diets.

Blueberry ingestion was determined to have a positive affect on specific genes related to fat-burning and fat-storage.  Where muscle tissue is concerned,  alterations in genes related to glucose-uptake were discovered to have been caused by the intake of blueberries.

Research also indicated that “metabolic syndrome” is  caused not only by abdominal fat, as previously believed by the medical industry, but by insulin resistance in one’s skeletal muscle system, an anomaly which alters energy-storage and causes metabolic syndrome.

Eating blueberries can help to prevent insulin-resistance, lower the related belly-fat, reduce cholesterol levels, and its numerous antioxidants can help to stave-off age-related brain disorders.

Blueberries  contain an antioxidant compound called pterostilbene, a compound similar to resveratrol, which has been found to reduce cholesterol as well as dangerous prescription drugs.

Just as dried cherries do, blueberries, when added to ground beef before cooking, help reduce the formation of  cancer-causing heterocyclic amines (HCA).

In Europe, the bilberry has most of the same properties as the blueberry. One of the many things they have in common is anthocyanin, the substance that makes them blue, which is beneficial to the cardiovascular system and is believed to lower blood-pressure. Bilberries have been used to enhance eyesight since World War 11, when pilots who ate bilberry jam attributed their improved night-vision to the tiny fruit. Bilberries are also said to aid in relief of varicose veins and gum-disease as they promote healthy circulation. Caution must be taken with bilberries by those who are taking blood-thinnning drugs, as they are a natural blood-thinner.

Blueberries can be added to a morning smoothie that you make with yogurt in a blender, together with whatever other fruits you have in stock. Frozen blueberries can be much less expensive than fresh ones, easier to store, and retain most of their antioxidant properties. When used in a smoothie, frozen blueberries make it ice-cold. This preparation makes a health-promoting breakfast, and is delicious as well. Staying well is the best thing you can do in this ailing world.

~~M-J

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