Do forgive me for bringing up the rain again in my opening paragraph but for obvious reasons it is rather relevant to our farming operation these days. I’m just thrilled to say that this time I can report good news as we had 36mm of rain recently. So were the fundis who said we should not expect decent rains in the Eastern Cape until February, totally misguided? Not necessarily, because if we don’t get follow-up rains soon then we cannot say the drought has broken. But amazing things happen in tough times such as these, an example being the two enormous truckloads of mielies that arrived in our town the other day to be distributed to farmers in our area to feed our livestock. This a donation from empathetic farmers in the North West province! Wow! What a show of human kindness and compassion. Speaking of mielies, my not-so-good news is that a bull got tired of waiting for the grass next to my veggie garden to grow, so he jumped the fence to chomp up many of young mielie plants! Before he was discovered and hushed out, his huge hooves left gigantic craters in the soft soil. Although it’s not too late to plant more seeds, this does not exonerate the errant bull, who certainly won’t be offered any of my organic mielie kernels once they’ve grown! I love to grow our own supply of mielies, yellow and white, as I have this wonderful little electric stonemill that grinds the kernels up in minutes so that we can enjoy fresh organic mielie meal porridge or polenta. But I digress (not unusual).
Topics this month:
GABA – a Godsend
Kids and soft drinks
Junk food as addictive as drugs
Swine Flu for the very last time!
PROSTATE HEALTH(This one is not only for the men but also for the women who love and care for them.)
Many men don’t even know where their prostate is, let alone how to spell it! I’m sure we’ve all heard it being referred to as a “prostrate”. Call it what you like but all men have this small gland, about the size of a walnut, that sits under the bladder by the urethra (the urine duct). If it gets swollen it can act like a clamp, making it harder to urinate. This is very common in men later in life, especially those over the age of 60. It’s either caused by inflammation of the prostate or, more commonly, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It’s comforting to know that there is no clear link between BPH and prostatic cancer, other than difficulty urinating.
The most commonly used screening test for prostate health is a blood test measuring PSA (prostate-specific antigen). High levels of PSA may be an early indicator of prostate cancer. However, it also gives many false positives and can be raised in BPH, so a high level doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem. Men with PSA levels above a certain threshold are usually referred for biopsies to determine if cancer is present or not. However there is an increasingly prevalent belief that regular prostate screenings may lead to more harm than good for older men. Because prostate cancers are slow growing, many older men might never experience any symptoms of the disease before dying of other causes. Yet prostate cancer treatments can carry severe side effects, including impotence or incontinence.
When it comes to prostatic cancer, prevention is key. So how can you keep your prostate healthy? Just like the rest of your body, the health of your prostate depends mostly on what you eat. Numerous studies have shown that the strongest dietary risk factor for prostate cancer is dairy consumption. Switzerland, for example, has the highest dairy intake and the highest numbers of deaths from prostate cancer and this has been attributed to a hormone in milk called Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF). So a good place for men to start would be to limit milk intake.
Secondly, eat more fruit and vegetables because the higher your consumption the lower your risk. Particularly beneficial are tomatoes, rich in lycopene, and kale, cabbage, broccoli, tenderstem and cauliflower. These are profoundly cancer protective. For more information on how broccoli fights cancer, scroll down to my Spring 2008 newsletter.
Finally, fish oils may be protective against prostate cancer. A study published in the Lancet followed more than 6,000 Swedish men age 55 for up to 30 years. Its conclusion: eating fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, could reduce the risk of prostate cancer by a third. Supplementing with Omega-3 from purified omega-3 fish oils (EPA and DHA) would be a good idea if you’re suffering from BPH or prostatitis or even as a cancer preventative measure. Look for the Life Support or See Yourself Well brands, which have both been awarded the International Fish Oil Standards 5 Star rating. You can’t get better than that! Flaxseed oil, on the other hand, cannot be recommended for men, and should, in fact, be avoided. A study on 47 000 men monitored over 14 years found the ALA Omega-3 fats in flaxseed oil can stimulate the growth of prostate tumours in men.
There is now sufficient evidence to recommend that any man over 50 should supplement their diets with Saw Palmetto, which has been proven to help inhibit cancer growth and to reduce inflammation. This makes it the perfect herb for both BPH, prostatitis and prostate cancer. Studies have shown reduction in enlargement of the prostate with daily supplementation. It also inhibits an enzyme, called 5-alpha reductase, which turns testosterone into DHT, which is the form of testosterone that promotes prostate cancer. Another supplement which does this is pumpkin seed extract.Then there is zinc which also inhibits 5-alpha-reductase as well as the secretion of some estrogens (also linked to prostate issues). Clinical evidence indicates that cancerous prostate cells contain less zinc than healthy prostate cells. Lycopene, a carotenoid, may hinder the growth of prostate cancer cells. Harvard University conducted a six-year study of 50,000 men and concluded that those who ate foods containing high amounts of lycopene were up to 45 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer. As an antioxidant, lycopene helps neutralize free radicals that can contribute to prostate cancer and other cancers. An excellent supplement that contains all of the above ingredients is AIM Reassure SP. See order form.
According to a study, men with higher levels of vitamin D (typically obtained through sunshine exposure) in their blood were half as likely to develop aggressive forms of prostate cancer than those with lower amounts. And the best news of all - 15 minutes a day in the sun costs you nothing!
GABA – A Godsend to the anxious and sleep-deprived
Doctors don’t seem to know about this probably because it’s natural and can’t be patented so the pharmaceutical companies don’t want them to know about it. GABA is the acronym for gamma-aminobutyric acid, a simple amino acid that functions in the body as a neurotransmitter with nerve-relaxing properties. It’s a simple and very effective remedy for anxiety, insomnia and panic attacks. It’s also proven to help mood control in bipolar patients, even in some taking heavy anti-epileptic drugs for this reason. It certainly helps men and women who are experiencing sleeping difficulties, to sleep like a baby again (silly expression that when you think babies wake up every few hours!). Best of all it is safe to use and non-addictive. I’m so impressed with the success stories I have heard that I have added GABA to my product range. Worth a try if it’s tranquil rest you’re after.
COKE – THE BEVERAGE OF BONEHEADS
I can call it this without offending any of my readers, because I know smart people don’t drink Coke! You all already know there's really no question that soft drink consumption directly promotes a variety of chronic diseases. There is clear evidence that it:
multiplies a person's risk of diabetes and obesity
causes loss of bone density and can lead to osteoporosis
increases blood acidosis
causes kidney stress
suppresses the immune system
is implicated in ADHD and even dramatic mood swings
And you also know that by allowing your children to drink soft drinks you are doing them a huge injustice. Soft drink consumption in children not only poses a significant risk factor for impaired calcification of growing bones but consumption of the high fructose corn syrup used to sweeten soft drinks is a direct cause of obesity in children. Obese children are at huge risk of being obese adults. Do you want this for your child? Give your children pure fruit juices diluted 50/50 with water or bring them up on pure water.
JUNK FOOD AS ADDICTIVE AS DRUGS
According to research, the brains of youngsters who eat a lot of junk food will be programmed to crave more unhealthy food. Dr Paul Kenny at Florida's Scripps Research Institute, divided rats into three groups for the study which will be published in the US soon. One group got normal amounts of healthy food to eat, while another was given limited amounts of junk food and the third group was given unlimited amounts of cheesecake, fatty meat products, and chocolate snacks. Rats which ate as much junk food as they wanted quickly became very fat and started bingeing, but there were no adverse effects on the first two groups. The researchers believe it is one of the first studies to suggest brains may react in the same way to junk food as they do to drugs. "This is the most complete evidence to date that suggests obesity and drug addiction have common neuro-biological foundations," said Paul Johnson, Dr Kenny's colleague. Last month, a new report by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council outlined how authorities needed to put a tax on junk food and soft drinks in order to curb the obesity epidemic in the US.
SWINE FLU FINALE
While the vaccine makers continue to suffer from "production failures" (causing a short supply of the vaccines), there's increasing evidence that the swine flu is already fizzling out. I wonder if the vaccines are not going to be pushed anyway. How else are they going to get rid of them?
I’d really like to suggest that from now on we ignore all stories headlined H1N1 and rather focus on things that matter most in our lives, things that bring us fulfilment and happiness. I firmly believe that the majority of government and health care workers who are promoting the H1N1 vaccine are misguided. And I also believe that getting caught up in all the panic and hype surrounding H1N1 is a good way to get sick. Lets put this virus to bed shall we, and I hope never to mention it again.
Bye for nowIt’s been great chatting to you again and I look forward to our final chat of 2009 next month. I hope that you will not be one of those people who has to deal with an almighty rush as the year screams towards an end. Try to remain calm, taking one day at a time and one task at a time, and enjoy the approach to the coming festive season. And need I mention - good health always!