HEADLINES / TRENDS l STATS l RESEARCH l MEDIA l PEOPLE

January 2010

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Back to a healthy
future with the Amish

Most Americans lived on farms until the post-Civil War industrial boom led people to chase opportunity into the cities. But as the modern world became more hectic, some urbanites fled to the country for the simpler lives that their great-grandfathers had known.

Some people, like the Amish, never left the simple life behind. Many people see the old-fashioned clothes and horse-drawn buggies as charming relics. But the Amish—who value manual labor, close-knit communities and deep faith—may provide clues to a healthier lifestyle for the stressed-out, disease-prone society that surrounds them.

“Our lifestyle is more geared towards being there for the community and being there to help each other,” says Johnny Miller, 43, owner of OakBridge Timber Framing in Howard, Ohio. OakBridge, which builds traditionally raised and joined frame homes, embodies that ideal: Miller’s father, son, daughter, two brothers and first cousin all work there. “Being in an enjoyable, positive work environment is a key to staying healthy,” he says.

Lack of worry, including worry about health itself, is another aspect of Amish life. Take their famously rich diet, for example. “We do think about what we should eat, healthwise,” says Miller. “But if I’m fretting about eating the piece of terrific pie my wife made, that in my opinion is worse
for my health than actually eating the pie.” It helps that the pie isn’t full of preservatives, that the produce and chickens are home-grown—and that all the work involves muscular effort. Those differences are reflected in studies that have found the Amish suffer from lower rates of obesity and cancer, two scourges of American society at large.

Like everyone the Amish have issues to resolve, including how to engage with the outside world; OakBridge now has a website run by non-Amish friends. “It’s a challenge to keep our lifestyle, which we think of as a great heritage, and still be able to function,” says Miller. And it is that lifestyle which may be the Amish’s most valuable gift to the rest of us.

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Make Your Fruit Super

Loading your plate with produce is always a good idea, but some plant foods are better for you than others. Case in point: the superfruits. A diverse group that includes such popular exotics as açai and goji, their deep hues signal a wealth of nutrients paired with bright flavors.

In Superfruits (McGraw-Hill), berry expert Paul Gross profiles 20 of these nutritional all-stars, including research supporting their benefits and how to incorporate them into your diet. To place this information in context, Gross discusses the specific nutrients found in these fruits as well as the science that explains the health-promoting power behind all those pretty colors. The book closes with 75 recipes that showcase superfruits in desserts, smoothies and salads.

Eating healthier means getting the most nutrition out of every meal. Superfruits can help make that job a little easier.

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Tea Time, In 4/4 Rhythm

In Jorma Kaukonen’s latest album, River of Time (Red House Records), the guitar virtuoso’s honeyed singing reflects the wisdom of worldly experience and the ease of someone who has found peace. Something else may also be at work in the soothing vocal stylings of the Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna co-founder: tea.

“Jorma’s Rhythm Tonic Tea” is a tasty blend of caffeine-free, antioxidant-rich rooibus, hibiscus, rosemary, cinnamon and star anise. The tea was blended by the Herbal Sage Tea Co. for Kaukonen’s Ohio-based Fur Peace Ranch guitar camp.

Kaukonen, whom Rolling Stone named one of the 100 greatest guitarists (see ET’s 10/08 music issue for more on Kaukonen), isn’t just a solo player. His Hot Tuna bandmates have their own blends: Lifelong friend and bass wiz Jack Casady’s “True Religion Pure Green Tea” and mandolin ace Barry Mitterhoff’s “Fret No More” herbal blend.

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Kicking the Sugar Habit

In the world of substance abuse sugar would appear to be a fluffy lightweight, especially when compared with the street drugs that keep worried parents awake at night. But looks can be deceiving, says nutritionist and self-labeled “recovering sugarholic” Nancy Appleton. In Suicide by Sugar (SquareOne), she explains how the sweet white stuff represents one of our biggest dietary hazards.

According to Appleton and co-writer G.N. Jacobs, high sugar intake—fostered by consumption of soft drinks and the sugar added to processed foods—throws off the body’s chemical balance, known as homeostasis. She says this leaves the body vulnerable to a host of disorders, from poor blood sugar regulation and obesity to dementia and cancer. Appleton saves her good news
for a final chapter in which she presents a strategy for slipping free of sugar’s grasp, including food plans and recipes.

Sugar is, as Appleton puts it, “so available, so acceptable in our society, so tasty and so addictive.” If you want to resist the call of this sweet but deadly siren, Suicide by Sugar is a good place to start.


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Numbers

Obesity-Fueled Illness

1 in 3
US adults who are at a healthy weight
for their height
2X
The risk that an obese man will develop diabetes,
compared with a man of normal weight
44
Weight gain in pounds from age 18 that doubles
a woman’s stroke risk
20
Weight gain that doubles breast cancer risk
Source: Susan Burke March, CDE, author of Making Weight
Control Second Nature (Mansion Grove House)

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Pomegranates May Ease
Menopausal Discomfort

Among menopause’s most distressing effects are the dryness and irritation associated with vaginal atrophy, which may affect up to 60% of all postmenopausal women. But natural relief may lie in the pomegranate.

Scientists at the University of Arizona College of Medicine gave 90 women a topical pomegranate
ointment; another 100 women used an estrogen-based cream. Women in both groups experienced comparable symptom reduction.


Malta Polyphenols conference 10/09

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Noni Fights Tobacco Toxins

One way cigarette smoke harms health is by producing cell-damaging oxidants. Now
evidence suggests thatnoni, a South Pacific fruit, contains compounds that can fight these substances.

A research team lead by scientists from the UIC College of Medicine in Rockford, Illinois divided 285 heavy smokers into three groups; two received either 29.5 or 118 milliliters of juice a day; the others received a placebo. After 30 days, levels of two antioxdiant markers known as SAR and LOOH fell significantly in the noni juice groups, but not in the placebo group.

Chemistry Central Journal 10/09

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