The newest volume of my Latest in Clinical Nutrition DVD series is now out. Order on my website or through Amazon (all proceeds go to the 501c3 nonprofit charity that keeps NutritionFacts.org thriving). It can also be ordered as a video download.
The current batch of videos from volume 17 on NutritionFacts.org just ran out, so starting this month and running through June, I’ll be rolling out the videos from this new DVD, volume 18. The DVDs give folks the opportunity to sneak-preview videos months ahead of time, watch them all straight through, and share them as gifts, but there is nothing on the DVDs that won’t eventually end up free online at NutritionFacts.org. If you’d like the works–40 hours of video–I have a special on my complete DVD collection.
Here’s the list of chapters from the new volume 18 DVD — a preview of what’s to come over the next few months on NutritionFacts.org:
1. Blood Type Diet Debunked
2. Why Do We Age?
3. Caloric Restriction vs. Animal Protein Restriction
4. California Children Are Contaminated
5. How Many Cancers Have Been Caused by Arsenic-Laced Chicken?
6. Taxpayer Subsidies for Unhealthy Foods
7. Preventing Asthma With Fruits and Vegetables
8. Treating Asthma With Fruits and Vegetables
9. Treating Asthma With Plants vs. Supplements?
10. Treating Asthma and Eczema With Plant-Based Diets
11. Cholesterol Feeds Breast Cancer Cells
12. Statin Cholesterol Drugs and Invasive Breast Cancer
13. Cancer Risk from French Fries
14. Fish and Diabetes
15. Diabetes and Dioxins
16. Pollutants in Salmon and Our Own Fat
17. Walnuts and Artery Function
18. Debunking Egg Industry Myths
19. Eggs and Arterial Function
20. Alpha Gal and the Lone Star Tick
21. Tick Bites, Meat Allergies, and Chronic Urticaria
22. Appropriating Plant Defenses
23. Xenohormesis - What Doesn't Kill Plants May Make Us Stronger
24. Plants as Intellectual Property - Patently Wrong?
25. Magic Bullets vs. Promiscuous Plants
26. Fruits, Veggies, and Longevity - How Many Minutes Per Mouthful?
All the proceeds from DVD, download, and book sales go to the 501c3 nonprofit charity that keeps NutritionFacts.org alive and kicking.
If you were a regular supporter, you could be watching the new DVD right now! I come out with brand new DVDs every nine weeks. If you’d like to automatically receive them before they’re available to the public, please consider becoming a monthly donor.
Anyone signing up on the donation page to become a $15 monthly contributor will receive the next three DVDs for free (as physical DVDs, downloads, or both–your choice), and anyone signing up as a $25 monthly contributor will get a whole year’s worth of new DVDs. If you’re already signed up and didn’t receive your volume 18 yet, please email Tommasina at Tommasina@NutritionFacts.org and she’ll make everything all better.
After running more than 500 applicants through a gauntlet of tests and trials, we now have three new full-time staff on board, Tommasina Miller on social media, Katie Schloer overseeing logistics, and Elizabeth Tov as Keynote specialist, along with six new part-time researchers! Please join me in welcoming everyone to the NutritionFacts.org dream team.
This does put us over our projected budget for the year, but with so much new talent on board I’m hoping we’ll be able to grow the audience sufficient to make up the difference. NutritionFacts.org now exists solely on donations from viewers like you. Everything on the website is and always will be free for all, for all time. We refuse to accept ad revenue or corporate sponsorships to retain our independence. If you value the public service NutritionFacts.org provides and would like to do your share and chip in, you can make a tax-deductible donation using a credit card, through Paypal, or by sending a check made out to “NutritionFacts.org” to me at 700 Professional Dr., Gaithersburg, MD 20879.
New Way to Support
Online retail giant Amazon.com has a new program called AmazonSmile, in which they donate a small percent of purchases to a charitable organization of your choice. If you click on http://smile.amazon.com/ch/05-0559626 you can direct their donations to NutritionFacts.org. If you do shop through Amazon, please consider having them support our work by clicking on that link every time you shop.
As you can see on my list of speaking dates, I’ve cut my travel schedule in half this year so I can concentrate on research. I can’t wait to share my findings, but alas it will be more online than in person this year. In 2015, though, I’m presenting on two wellness cruises–how fun! One with Victoria Moran and Dr. Will Tuttle leaving from New York City in February and one with Drs. T. Colin Campbell and Neal Barnard leaving from Miami in March. I hope you can join me at sea!
May your springtime be a season of renewal and farmer’s market deliciousness,
-Michael Greger, M.D.
We know that inadequate sleeping is associated with changes in diet—people tend to eat worse—but what about the opposite question: Can food affect sleep? In a study on kiwifruit, this seemed possible (see Kiwifruit For Insomnia), but the mechanism the researchers suggested for the effect—the serotonin levels in kiwifruit—doesn’t make any sense, since serotonin can’t cross the blood-brain barrier. We can eat all the serotonin we want and it shouldn’t affect our brain chemistry. A different brain chemical, though, melatonin, can get from our gut to our brain.
Melatonin is a hormone secreted at night by the pineal gland in the center of our brain to help regulate our circadian rhythm. Supplements of the stuff are used to prevent and reduce jet lag, and about 20 years ago MIT got the patent to use melatonin to help people sleep. But melatonin “is not only produced in the pineal gland—it is also naturally present in edible plants.”
That might explain the results of a study, “Effects of a Tart Cherry Juice Beverage on the Sleep of Older Adults with Insomnia” (See Tart Cherries for Insomnia). The research group had been doing an earlier study on tart cherry juice as a sports recovery drink. There’s a phytonutrient in cherries with anti-inflammatory effects on par with drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen, so the researchers were trying to see whether tart cherry juice could reduce muscle soreness after exercise. During the study, some of the participants anecdotally noted that they were sleeping better on the cherries. That was unexpected, but the researchers realized that cherries were a source of melatonin so they put them to the test.
The reason they chose older subjects is that melatonin production tends to drop as we age, which may be one reason why there’s a higher insomnia rates among the elderly. So, they took a group of older men and women suffering from chronic insomnia and put half on cherries and half on placebo. They couldn’t use whole cherries for the study—how could you fool people with a placebo cherry? So they used cherry juice versus cherry Kool-Aid.
They found that participants did in fact sleep a little better on the cherry juice. The effect was modest, but significant. Some, for example, fell to sleep a few minutes faster and had 17 fewer minutes of waking after sleep onset (waking up in the middle of the night). It was no insomnia cure, but it helped—without side effects.
How do we know it was the melatonin, though? They repeated the study, this time measuring the melatonin levels, and indeed saw a boost in circulating melatonin levels after the cherry juice, but not after the Kool-Aid. Similar results were found in people eating the actual cherries—seven different varieties boosted melatonin levels and actual sleep times. The effects of all the other phytonutrients in cherries can’t be precluded—maybe they helped too—but if it is the melatonin, there are more potent sources than cherries.
Orange bell peppers have a lot, as do walnuts—and a tablespoon of flaxseeds has about as much as a tomato. See the chart in my video Tart Cherries for Insomnia. The melatonin content of tomatoes was suggested as one of the reasons traditional Mediterranean diets were so healthy. They have less melatonin than the tart cherries, but people may eat a lot more tomatoes than cherries. Sweet cherries have 50 times less melatonin than tart ones; dried cherries appear to have none.
A few spices are pretty potent: just a teaspoon of fenugreek or mustard seeds has as much as a few tomatoes. The bronze and silver go to almonds and raspberries, though. And the gold goes to gojis. Goji berries were just off the charts.
Aren’t goji berries really expensive, though? Not if you buy them as lycium berries. Check out my video Are Goji Berries Good for You?
I’ve previously explored Human Neurotransmitters in Plants in the context of boosting serotonin levels in the brain to improve mood. See:
Melatonin may also play a role in cancer prevention. See Melatonin & Breast Cancer.
-Michael Greger, M.D.
Image thanks to: Elizabeth / Flickr