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A life-changing breakfast?

The Watermelon Cooler at Le Pain Quotidien--made with cucumber, lemon and mint--is our new favorite way to hydrate and imbibe phytonutrients. One compound in watermelon promotes circulation; another--lycopene (most commonly associated with tomatoes)--was recently found to reduce stroke risk.

New research shows meditators place a greater value on being calm than non-meditators. However, the shift in values does not necessarily translate to reality.

Might a pill one day improve Alzheimer's in just hours? A new study offers hope.

The American Botanical Council criticizes report linking ginkgo biloba to cancer.

A new study raises questions about the safety of taking gingko biloba.
Watch the trailer for A Place At the Table, chef Tom Colicchio's film about hunger in America.

We love this video from the NRDC explaining the issue of toxic chemicals used in couch manufacture.  It's a gentle video for a scary topic. 

This image from a Brita water filter campaign says more about the benefits of using a water filter than 1,000 words. But as a consumer it's tough to judge which filter to buy. Now the Environmental Working Group Water Filter Buying Guide does the work for you. We give it a huge thumbs up.

Flu+You: Take a look at how much worse this year's flu is than last year's, from The Education Database Online.

Read about Jaimal Yogis, author of Saltwater Buddha, whose new book, The Fear Project, is attracting lots of buzz.

This may be an aggressive red, but RGB Cosmetics has come up with its carcinogen-free formula, which is gentle enough for sensitive souls. Read more about it.

Always on the lookout for hot drinks to sustain us while working on iwellville, Matcha Latte--find one recipe in this month's Bon Appetit--is a winner. We like it without sweetener. Tea fanatics we know like to drink it cold--just make sure to shake well.

Underberg Bitters, made from Gentian, an herb used for centuries in the Alps to stimulate digestive juices after a big meal, were the bestselling item of 2012 at Smallflower (one of our favorite sources of all things herbal.)  We are a big fan of bitters of all sorts, but could their popularity on Smallflower have something to do with this quirky video?

Watch Dean Ornish's definitive TED Talk on the pursuit of happiness and healing through diet.

Mark Lynas, journalist, author and an early anti-GMO activist has changed his mind, saying he "discovered science" and learned that Genetically Modified crops can be a force for good. Check out his NPR interview.

A non-profit initiative to unite, educate and mobilize the yoga community around the issue of sex-trafficing, Yoga Freedom Project (founded in conjunction with the Somaly Mam Foundation) holds its first master class in New York City. 

The Girl Scouts' new Mango Creme cookie contains shitake mushrooms, among other healthful ingredients. And the blogosphere disapproves.

Finally, mothers can outsource their nagging to a smartphone: The LumoBack is a new posture-correcting device that slips around the waist, and signals you (and your smartphone) when you are slouching. Watch how it works.

In a remarkable study, mindfulness meditation reduced sick days from acute respiratory infection (like pneumonia) by a whopping 76%.

We've just discovered the Cold Warrior from Juice Generation. It's a hot drink with green tea, orange juice, ginger, Echinacea, vitamin C and zinc--all good for the immune system. It's like a blankie and a hug in a cup.

A wristband that does more than trumpet a good cause; it might just change your life. The FitBit Flex monitors fitness and quality of sleep, among other things, and saves it all wirelessly to your smartphone.

Watch how this state-of-the-art digital globe brings global warming and other planetary phenomenon to life.

Might this friendly bacteria known as Lactobacillus GG save you from a life-threatening antibiotic side-effect? New research says it can.

A pain doctor who helped fuel the rise in the use of pain drugs changes his mind.

"If I were of child-rearing age now, or the parent of young children, I would make every effort to buy organic food," writes Mark Bittman, in his latest "Opinionator" blog for the New York Times.

Researchers are developing less painful shots, inspired by porcupine quills.

Should you have your genome analyzed? Here's one argument in favor, from an unlikely source.

The Hidden Costs of Soda graphically illustrates the intractable soda obsession of Americans, who drink an average 900 cups of sugary, bubbly syrup a year. 

Do Teavana teas have pesticides?

How refreshing! In "The Antidote" British journalist Oliver Burkeman challenges the notion that having a positive attitude leads to happiness. Watch his video.

A bicycle that churns ice cream from Peddler's Creamery in L.A.

Writer Hannah Brencher is trying to harness the healing power of love letters. Watch her rage against the digital age.

The One World Futbol, an indestructible soccer ball, is saving childhoods, one goal at a time.

In the hopes of unlocking medical mysteries, The Swedish Twins Registry has some 45,000 DNA samples of twins (though probably not from these particular Olsens) in its biobank freezers, collected over the last half century.

This physician says she reversed her MS by eating a diet that includes organ meats (kidneys, tongue gizzards!) and copious fruits and vegetables. Watch her TEDx talk. 

Instagram your every bite? Here's one woman who begs you to stop.

It may come as no shock to women everywhere, but the FDA just figured out these products don't live up to the hype. Read the story.

Lycopene, an antioxidant in the vitamin A family abundant in tomatoes, helps protect against stroke. Read about the study.

The new movie about the mess that is modern medicine. Watch the trailer.

In the latest issue of Bazaar, Rihanna says dieting has jeapordized one of her more valuable assets.

Miniature pigs have their own rescue fund, Lil' Orphan Hammies. 

It's not all in their legs: New study finds soccer players rank as high as brain surgeons in executive function, multi-tasking and creativity.

Stinging Nettle for dinner? In Foraged Foods, a chef and his muse tell us this weed has a deep herbal flavor with hints of celery and mint.

Sharapova: In fine form at the French Open, talks about her workout.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms: Read about Andrew Weil's favorite mushroom guru's adventures with this mushroom and its ability to help the immune system attack cancer.

On viewing the Transit of Venus.
An update on a classic cookbook - warning, not all of the recipes are vegetarian.

Beyonce's return to fighting form.

One secret to Hemsworth's physique.

Andre Agassi, a new gym class hero.

Nature's Art: an extremely thin slice of Kohlrabi root.


Calling all carcinogens: California regulators force Coke, Pepsi and other colas to change the way a common coloring agent is made. 

The garden at Esalen, where organic farming has been sustained for half a Century.

Just five months after surviving a horrifying goring, one of Spain's top bullfighters returns to the ring.

Fitness pays.

Flatworms may hold a secret to immortality.

Alcohol and Xanax, both found in Whitney Houston's hotel room right after she died, inhibit the central nervous system and depend on the same enzyme for bodily clearance. Read more.

A new study says investment bankers have more health risks than others.

Jeremy Lin at the peak of of his game, is lifting others with him.

 Organic famers are mad and they're not going to take it anymore. Read about the revolt against Monsanto.

Here's a breakfast cookie recipe (using almonds, cranberries and quinoa) from Bon Appetit that satisfies morning sweet cravings and provides decent nutrition...even the pickiest in our household loved it. 
Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck is an innovative cookbook for those who are made sick by wheat or who are just plain sick of wheat.


Bed of nails? These plastic discs embedded into a yoga mat are said to stimulate acupressure points and promote relaxation.

Take a tour through Virginia Tech's Lumenhaus, a solar-powered-home that won the 2010 Solar Decathlon Europe.

Did becoming a Vegan--and getting off drugs--soothe this once savage beast?

Vitamin C, viewed through a microscope with a polarizing lens, from Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking (The Cooking Lab, 2011) by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young and Maxime Bilet "This book will change the way we under­stand the kitchen.” — Ferran Adrià

A new map gives a view of the "Diabetes Belt" in the South, suggesting the U.S. contains micro-cultures that promote diabetes.

The best childhood predictor of longevity, according to these authors, is a quality best defined as conscientiousness: "the often complex pattern of persistence, prudence, hard work, close involvement with friends and communities" that produces a well-organized person who is "somewhat obsessive and not at all carefree." Read more...

A rare display of one of Kobe's secret weapons.

Watch the story of Bluefin Tuna; learn about a food choice you can make to help the planet.

Chocolate lovers eagerly anticipate the first bars made from this recently discovered rare cacao variety.


Read about Chess-Boxing, a hot sport in Europe that some social scientists in the U.S. believe may hold exciting potential for the future of aggression management.

Lab Notes: New stem cell strategy cures diabetes in mice.

Secret NFL Play: Acupuncture

 The fat-busting properties of herbs and spices.

The retrovirus that causes chronic fatigue? Scientists want it out of the nation's blood supply. 

In pursuit of artificial flavoring.

Mark Bittman's Butternut Squash Salad: Once the squash has been tamed, it's the easiest, healthy Fall dish you can make. Watch the recipe.

A new cookbook by a French Culinary Institute chef offers sophisticated recipes that don't cause heartburn.

The Runaway Success of the Barefoot Shoe.

Hunting Clones in the Caucuses.

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Tuesday
Mar062012

Ghosts in Your Genome?

The ghosts in your genome may be DDT (sprayed liberally in neighborhoods in the 1950s) or other chemical pollutants encountered by your parents or grandparents; or you may be passing along such ghosts from chemicals you encounter today. In new research at Washington State University the effects of environmental toxins were passed down to offspring, and even to second generation (grand-offspring if you will) of lab rats exposed to chemicals including jet fuel, plastics and the pesticide DEET found commonly in bug sprays applied to skin. The impact of the exposure was greatest in the first phase of pregnancy when gender is determined.

Earlier research from this team showed similar effects from pesticides and fungicides, but this is the first to show generational effects from a variety of environmental toxins. "We didn't expect them all to have transgenerational effects, but all of them did," Michael Skinner, the molecular biologist leading the research, told the technology website Gizmodo.

The study was funded by the U.S. Army to study pollutants that troops might be exposed to. Skinner and his colleagues exposed pregnant female rats to relatively high but non-lethal amounts of compounds widely encountered by the general public, and tracked changes in three generations of offspring. The results were disturbing.

Researchers found distinct epigenetic signatures in the animals' sperm that acted as biomarkers of ancestral exposure to toxins.

Toxins had a powerful effect on reproductive health. The researchers saw female offspring (and second generation offspring) reaching puberty earlier (particularly associated with exposure to plastics), increased rates in the decay and death of male offspring sperm cells and lower numbers of female offspring ovarian follicles that later become eggs. But there were also major implications for what is known as epigenetics, the science of how and why genes are expressed in individuals. The animal's DNA sequence remained unchanged, but the chemical compounds changed the way genes turn on and off, opening new ground in the study of how disease develops.

While toxicologists generally focus on animals exposed to a compound, Skinner’s work further demonstrates that diseases can also stem from older, ancestral exposures that are then mediated through epigenetic changes in sperm. In a fascinating twist, the researchers found distinct epigenetic signatures in the animals' sperm that acted as biomarkers of ancestral exposure. In otherwords, they werere able to identify what specific toxins an animals' ancestors had been exposed to by looking at the genomic features of its sperm. 
The timing of the initial chemical exposure had an effect on its impact. In his paper, Skinner writes, "Gestating women in the first half of pregnancy would be the population most sensitive to exposures of environmentally induced epigenetic transgenerational inheritance." In other words, pregnant women need to be especially vigilant during the first trimester when their babies' reproductive system is under construction.
The authors posit that their study is a signpost toward understanding the early life basis of adult onset disease. Virtually all of our rising chronic diseases--diabetes, obesity, asthma, cardiovascular and inflammatory bowel diseases--are thought to be influenced by epigenetic changes from environmental exposures; knowing such changes can take place in ancestral exposures before a person is even born will surely help lead the way to a healthier future for the planet.

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