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Beet Juice and Your Brain

Drinking beet juice can increase blood flow to the brain, which may help reduce the risk of age-related dementia. This finding comes from a small study at Wake Forest University where researchers found that drinking 16 ounces of beet juice, which is high in nitrates, plus some high nitrate meals, led to increased blood flow to areas of the brain often associated with changes that lead to dementia. With age, these areas can become poorly perfused (blood doesn’t flow there as freely as it does in younger people), the researchers said. Other high nitrate foods that could increase blood flow to these key brain areas include celery, cabbage and other leafy green vegetables such as spinach and some lettuce. When you eat these foods, bacteria in the mouth turn nitrate into nitrites, which can help relax the muscular walls of blood vessels and increase blood flow. Only 14 adults age 70 and older participated in the study. After consuming high nitrate breakfasts the participants underwent MRIs, which showed increased blood flow to the white matter of the frontal lobes. The study results were published online in Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry, the peer-reviewed journal of the Nitric Oxide Society.

Here's a delicious recipe using nitrate-rich leafy greens.


My New Home (Photo Slideshow)

I recently moved from my ranch just outside of Tucson, Ariz. to a smaller home in the city. There's still a lot to do around the house, but in the meantime, I'm cooking, working, and spending time with my dogs, Asha & Ajax. Take a look:


Breast Cancer Prevention - 6 Lifestyle Tips

According to the American Cancer Society, every three minutes, on average, another woman learns she has breast cancer. The good news is that there are several strategies that can help reduce risk. Try incorporating the following lifestyle changes into your daily routine:

  1. Get active. Regular physical activity (at least 30 minutes on most days) has been shown to be protective against breast cancer.
  2. Maintain your health care. Early detection is key: in addition to monthly self examinations, women between ages 20 and 39 should have a clinical breast exam performed by a health care professional at least every three years; women 40 years of age or older should have annual breast exams and talk with their doctor about mammograms.
  3. Supplement wisely. Folic acid, vitamin D and antioxidants all may help decrease risk.
  4. Reduce exposure to xenoestrogens. These chemicals with estrogen-like activity are found in common pesticides and industrial pollutants and as hormone residues in meat, poultry and dairy products.
  5. Avoid exposure to radiation. Limiting the number of chest X-rays you receive, especially at a young age, may decrease the risk of breast cancer.
  6. Talk with your doctor. If you have close relatives with breast cancer, your personal risk is increased. Let your doctor know your family history, and discuss other ways you can help to prevent breast cancer.

More details on lowering breast cancer risk.


Dr. Weil in Pummelvision (Video)

Using Pummelvision, I've transformed my photo collections on Flickr into this fun, fast-paced video. Enjoy!

Make your own at


Feeling Dizzy?

If you often feel dizzy or faint after standing up, consider having your blood pressure checked. Low blood pressure (hypotension) is often due to dehydration, but can also be the result of sodium loss, abnormal heart rhythms, neurological disorders or overly aggressive drug treatment for high blood pressure. Low blood pressure can result in dizziness, lightheadedness or even fainting.

To help address dizziness, you may want to stand or sit up more slowly, and have a person or piece of furniture nearby for support when you do. Any qualified healthcare provider, or even the staff at a local fire station, can perform a simple blood pressure check in minutes.

Learn more about the symptoms, causes and treatment of low blood pressure.


Stress Relief: Flower Remedies

Stress can negatively impact your physical health, mood and social interactions. One way to help address the symptoms of stress is with passion flower (Passiflora incarnata). The dried above-ground parts of the plant can be found in tincture and extract form - look for standardized whole-plant extracts or capsules containing no less than 0.8 percent flavonoids or isovitexin. You can use passion flower for stress reduction, calming without sedation and relief from insomnia (when combined with other sedative herbs). One dropperful of the tincture in a little warm water, or two capsules of extract, up to four times a day as needed is the adult dosage; children should take half that amount. Use caution if you’re also taking MAO-inhibiting antidepressant drugs, and do not take passion flower when pregnant - active compounds may be uterine stimulants.

More ways to reduce stress.


How Do You Cook Your Veggies? (Poll)

Here is a Q&A on the pros and cons of microwaving. I use a microwave only for the defrosting or rapid reheating of leftovers.

What's your preference?


Yoga Practice: To Prop or Not?

Even the ancient arts - including yoga - are not immune from evolution. While original yogis did not use props such as sticky mats (foam mats with non-skid backing), foam blocks (pillow-like aids to cushion joints), or D rings (straps with D-shaped metal adjustment rings, used to help achieve or hold difficult poses), some modern practitioners find that props help them to ease into new moves, master more difficult poses or deepen their experience.

When deciding about props, consider the following:

  • Why are you using them?
  • Can your body do without them?
  • Are you willing to let them go at some point?

If you're a stickler for tradition, you can still benefit from age-old methods of stabilizing your body such as using a wall or the assistance of another person, to enrich your yoga experience.

To learn more about yoga props, click here.