Category Archives: Uncategorized

Study: Seafood Consumption Linked To Cognitive Decline

What is the dirtiest food you can eat? I say this once a week. It’s seafood!*

Now, go to Google and type in “brain food.” What food occupies a prominent position in those images? Seafood! Here’s an example:

Salmon or other seafood is not brain food.

How can one of the dirtiest foods you can eat be one of the best foods for your brain? Because it isn’t…

Cognitive Performance In Older Adults Is Inversely Associated With Fish Consumption But Not Erythrocyte Membrane N-3 Fatty Acids, The Journal of Nutrition, March 2014

“Inversely” means that as one variable goes up, the other goes down. In this case, as fish consumption went up, cognitive performance went down. It says it right there in the title. It says it throughout the article too.

Higher current fish consumption predicted worse performance on several cognitive speed constructs.

Greater fish consumption in childhood predicted slower perceptual speed and simple/choice reaction time.

We found no evidence to support the hypothesis that higher proportions of long-chain n–3 fatty acids or fish intake benefits cognitive performance in normal older adults.

These were healthy people eating seafood only about twice a week:

The mean frequency of fish consumption in the group we studied was twice per week. … Our sample consisted of predominantly Caucasian, relatively high-functioning, community-dwelling older adults.

Imagine if they were not healthy or if they ate seafood more often?

* Fish are contaminated with mercury, lead, PCBs, dioxins, pesticides, fire retardants, prescription drugs, and other chemicals that act as endocrine disruptors. Our Paleolithic ancestors ate fish that did not contain these contaminants which is why it’s pretty near impossible to eat a Paleolithic diet today.

But what about omega-3 fatty acids in fish? EPA and DHA? Fish oil! Isn’t that good for the brain? Note that the study above found no benefit from consuming “higher proportions of long-chain n–3 fatty acids.”

Nor does this one:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids And Risk Of Cognitive Impairment And Dementia, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, October 2003

In the prospective analysis, a higher eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA, and omega-3 fatty acid] concentration was found in cognitively impaired cases compared to controls while higher docosahexaenoic acid [DHA, and omega-3 fatty acid], omega-3 and total polyunsaturated fatty acid concentrations were found in dementia cases.

These findings do not support the hypothesis that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids play a protective role in cognitive function and dementia.

Nor does this one:

Omega 3 Fatty Acid For The Prevention Of Cognitive Decline And Dementia, Cochrane Library, June 2012

The available trials showed no benefit of omega‐3 PUFA supplementation on cognitive function in cognitively healthy older people.

Nor does this one:

Intakes Of (N-3) Fatty Acids And Fatty Fish Are Not Associated With Cognitive Performance And 6-year Cognitive Change In Men Participating In The Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study, The Journal of Nutrition, December 2009

Our findings in this sample of aging men do not support the hypothesis that higher fish/(n-3) PUFA intake is associated with better cognitive function or with less cognitive decline on any of the cognitive tests.

This isn’t to say that omega-3s aren’t necessary nutrients or that seafood isn’t a good source for them. It’s that we’ve polluted seafood so much that the harm from contaminants outweighs the benefit from their omega-3s.

The Inuit who consume seafood from some of the most pristine waters surrounding the Arctic:

Inuit natives, whose diets consist largely of fish, have been found with PCB levels of 15.7 ppm in their fat, far higher concentrations than the maximum amount considered to be safe in fish by the EPA (.094 ppm). Nearly all Inuit have PCB levels far above guideline levels that health officials consider safe, and some Inuit have ingested so much contamination from fish that their breast milk and body tissues would be classified as hazardous waste.

I shall end where I started. Seafood is some of the dirtiest food you can eat.

More On Pumpkin Seeds And The Prostate

Here’s more from Dr. Duke’s entry on enlarged prostate from his book The Green Pharmacy:

Pumpkin seeds can contain as much as 8 milligrams of zinc per half-cup serving. … Zinc has been shown to reduce the size of the prostate, presumably by inhibiting the conversion process mentioned earlier. [He’s referring to the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone which stimulates prostate cell proliferation. Pharmaceutical drugs also inhibit this conversion.]

According to NutritionData, 1 ounce (a little less than 1/4 cup) of pumpkin seeds contains about 2 mg zinc, which is pretty good since the RDA for zinc is 8-11 mg.

If you’re thinking of just taking a zinc supplement…

Pumpkin seeds are also high in certain amino acids – alanine, glycine, and glutamic acid. … In a study of 45 men who were given supplements of these amino acids (200 milligrams each) every day, the regimen significantly relieved BPH [benign prostatic hypertrophy] symptoms.

A half-cup serving of pumpkin seeds can have 1,150 to 1,245 milligrams of alanine, 1,800 to 1,930 milligrams of glycine and 4,315 to 4,635 milligrams of glutamic acid. That’s anywhere from 5 to 20 times the doctor’s daily recommendation.

A handful of pumpkin seeds a day? Men in other countries do it:

Pumpkin seeds were the traditional treatment for BPH in Bulgaria, Turkey and the Ukraine. The recommendation was a handful of seeds a day throughout adulthood.

Herbs For Enlarged Prostate, From Dr. Duke
Dr. James A. Duke’s, The Green Pharmacy (With An Example Of Herbs For Asthma)

Herbs For Enlarged Prostate, From Dr. Duke

Here’s another excerpt from Dr. Duke’s, The Green Pharmacy:

I publicly bet my prostate gland that my mixture of saw palmetto, licorice and pumpkin seeds, which I blend into something called Prosnut Butter* would do the same thing that Proscar (finasteride) does. I also declared that it was cheaper and probably safer.

He did this “at a conference in front of dozens of officials from the FDA and the National Institutes of health (NIH)” in the early 1990s shortly after FDA approved Proscar. He was trying to get the FDA to make pharmaceutical companies test their drugs against herbal remedies, instead of placebos. Good luck with that.

Twenty years after Duke published this book, research is still finding that pumpkin seeds and saw palmetto are effective for enlarged prostate, e.g. Study: Pumpkin Seed Oil Relieves Symptoms Of BPH (Enlarged Prostate):

Men who took either pumpkin seed oil or saw palmetto oil had improvements in urination. The size of their prostate declined over time (improving urination even more) and they had better PSA scores. The combination of pumpkin seed and saw palmetto was better than either of them individually because they have separate mechanisms of action.

* Prosnut Butter:

To make the spread, place a half-cup or so of fresh pumpkin seeds in a blender or food processor. Open one saw palmetto capsule and pour in the contents then add a few drops of licorice extract and blend until smooth.

I have tasted saw palmetto. It’s bitter! I think I’d take the saw palmetto pill separately to get it down, then just eat a few tablespoons of pumpkins seeds a day.

Here’s a recipe for making pumpkin seed butter from Nikki at Eating Vibrantly.

Dr. James A. Duke’s, The Green Pharmacy (With An Example Of Herbs For Asthma)

Dr. James A. Duke’s, The Green Pharmacy (With An Example Of Herbs For Asthma)

I’m flipping through an old copy of Dr. Duke’s, The Green Pharmacy.

Who is Dr. Duke? From Wikipedia:

James A. Duke (4 April 1929 – 10 December 2017) was an American botanist. He was the author of numerous publications on botanical medicine, including the CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. He was well known for his 1997 bestseller, The Green Pharmacy. … During the late 1970s he was chief of the Plant Taxonomy Laboratory, Plant Genetics and Germplasm Institute of the Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The sound of his writing reminds me of Dr. Weil’s writing … certain, crisp, and instructive. I like it. The book is 20 years old, but over the years I’ve seen research that continues to support his claims.

The book is structured as an encyclopedia of conditions. It’s easy to flip through and find a topic you’re interested in.

Here’s asthma:

By the way, throughout his discussion of the topic, he says things like:

I’d like to make myself crystal clear. If I were plagued by life-threatening asthma, I’d listen to my physician and take pharmaceuticals, and I’d use natural approaches only as supplemental treatments.

He’s careful. I don’t consider his advice out in left field.

Back to asthma. He says, for example, that coffee, tea, cola drinks, and chocolate all contain chemicals that act as potent bronchodilators:

Actually, coffee, tea, caffeinated cola drinks, cocoa and chocolate have more than caffeine. All reportedly contain two other major natural anti-asthmatic compounds, theobromine and theophylline, which, along with caffeine, belong to a family of chemicals called xanthines. These chemicals help stop bronchospasms and open constricted bronchial passages.

As a counter reference, this is what MedlinePlus says about theophylline:

Theophylline is used to prevent and treat wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness caused by asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and other lung diseases. It relaxes and opens air passages in the lungs, making it easier to breathe.

Duke goes on to discuss other herbs for asthma, including stinging nettle, fennel, and licorice.

Dr. Duke was an authority on medicinal herbs. I’m sorry to see that he passed away just a few months ago.

Coming up … Dr. Duke’s entry for enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)…

Jumping Rope

Jumping rope works both upper and lower body, is great for the heart and bones, develops balance and coordination, and the equipment is minimal. It also exercises the brain because you have to be aware of the placement of your body relative to the rope. Good for posture. Lower impact than jogging. Not time-consuming.

Skip Rope, Not Your Workout, WebMD
Jumping rope is cheap, portable, and burns more calories than you might think

Robert reminded me of this in comments so I’m posting it to have a container for this how-to video:

How to jump rope, in 4 steps:

Common mistakes:

She’s 62 years old. She’s amazing:

Kintsugi: The Aesthetics Of Repair

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

Some examples:

A bit more on the philosophy:

As a philosophy, kintsugi can be seen to have similarities to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, an embracing of the flawed or imperfect. Japanese aesthetics values marks of wear by the use of an object. This can be seen as a rationale for keeping an object around even after it has broken and as a justification of kintsugi itself, highlighting the cracks and repairs as simply an event in the life of an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage.

Kintsugi can relate to the Japanese philosophy of “no mind” (無心 mushin), which encompasses the concepts of non-attachment, acceptance of change and fate as aspects of human life.

“Not only is there no attempt to hide the damage, but the repair is literally illuminated… a kind of physical expression of the spirit of mushin….Mushin is often literally translated as “no mind,” but carries connotations of fully existing within the moment, of non-attachment, of equanimity amid changing conditions. …The vicissitudes of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering to which ceramic ware too is subject. This poignancy or aesthetic of existence has been known in Japan as mono no aware, a compassionate sensitivity, or perhaps identification with, [things] outside oneself.”
— Christy Bartlett, Flickwerk: The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics

Pumpkin Scones – Vegan, Low Fat

This is an adaptation of a great recipe I found here.

I didn’t include the glaze from the original recipe. I thought some plum jam or raspberry preserves would make a better foil.


2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar (this is down from 1/3 cup in original recipe)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup almond milk
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
4 tablespoons rolled oats, soaked in 4 tablespoons water (I added this to make them moister)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, salt, and baking powder.

In a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup mix the almond milk with the lemon juice. Stir in the pumpkin puree and soaked oats.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir to combine. Nudge the dough out onto a floured countertop and pat into a circle about 9 inches in diameter. Cut into 8 wedges. Place each wedge onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Nini Girl hosts a great You Tube site with tutorials of vegan, low-fat cooking. She also made these pumpkin scones:

This is the first time I made these. I can see this recipe would make a great foundation for, say, apple cinnamon scones (applesauce instead of pumpkin) or maybe orange cranberry scones, or maple pecan, or…

Update: I found the hardest part was transferring the wet, floppy wedges onto the baking sheet. For me it was a sticky, stressful mess. I fixed that by nudging the dough out onto a piece of parchment and, after scoring the wedges (see Nini Girl’s video), using scissors to cut out each wedge and place it onto the cooking sheet. It worked great.

Quick And Easy Plum Jam

You can double or triple this recipe. This also works well with apricots.

I don’t use any thickener … to keep it simple and because I’m being a bit of a purist. But don’t let that stop you. Mine only keeps a few days in the fridge before it starts to break down and get thin, but it never lasts more than a few days anyway!