One of my strong beliefs is that “food is medicine”, has been for thousands of years, and now more and more scientific research is re-enforcing that belief. Findings released at the American Academy of Neurology’s 63rd annual meeting indicate that regular consumption of flavonoids, especially anthocyanins found mainly in apples and berries, seem to have a protective effect against Parkinson’s disease (PD). I am currently seeing a patient with PD, and anything I can do to help protect myself is most welcome in my life, especially if they taste good. Recommendations are for two to three cups of berries or/and three to four apples per week.

On the website, the special compounds that are found in red, yellow, and orange produce, called flavonoids, can give your complexion a warm, healthy ‘glow’, akin to a summer tan, but without the damaging radiation. Besides sprucing up your complexion, flavonoids also enhance immune system function, eye, and reproductive health. So, eat your squash, bell peppers, oranges, carrots, etc., because food really is good medicine.

Also on the same website, legumes are loaded with folate, which has been shown to decrease depression, common in the northern states in the winter (except Wisconsin this year because the Packers won the Super Bowl). I cook lentils both as a side dish and also in soups.

I read an article the other day about men who begin balding in their 20’s are at greater risk for prostate cancer later in life. I don’t have to worry about that, but another study reported at the Neurology meeting I spoke of earlier said that those persons with cognitive problems may have a greater risk of stroke. Within the past year, my memory ain’t what it used to be, but I’m doing all I can to prevent stroke. I currently see three people recovering from stroke, and I know I don’t want one. Exercise, diet, blood pressure management, and other good habits like no tobacco and moderate alcohol consumption, are the best ammunition I can think of.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), is a horribly debilitating disease, and the old treatment of rest and don’t do much hasn’t been working. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Exercise and behavior therapy help best, and in some cases can actually reverse the symptoms. Somehow, I knew that was the better approach.

I like a cheeseburger as much as the next person, but our Western diet seems to cause a lot of health problems. The latest has our typical diet here in the US associated with the development of microalbuminuria (excretion of small amounts of albumin to the urine) and rapid decrease in kidney function, according to a study published in the February issue of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases. The study compared three diets: a Western diet high in red and processed meats, saturated fats, and sweets; a prudent diet high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, poultry, and whole grains; and a DASH-style diet (to lower blood pressure), consisting of low-fat foods, low sodium, non-fat dairy ¬†products, rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Not surprisingly, the Western diet had a nine times higher incidence of kidney problems than the other two diets. I love cheeseburgers and pizza, but tonight, I’m going to have fish and vegetables (with capers).

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.