Braised Red Cabbage

Braised Red Cabbage INGREDIENTS 1 large yellow onion, finely sliced 1 large red cabbage, cored, quartered and thinly sliced ½ cup red wine ¼ teaspoon cloves salt and pepper ½ cup water or chicken broth 2-3 tart apples such as Granny Smith or pink lady, cored and peeled 2 tablespoon olive oil 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped 1 bay leaf DIRECTIONS In a pot add olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for a few minutes until tender and golden. Add apples, cabbage, bay leaf and chicken broth and bring to boil over medium heat. Add red wine and season with salt, pepper, cloves and thyme. Stir and reduce heat to medium low and cover. Cook and stir often until cabbage is tender (~ 30-40 minutes). Remove bay leaf & serve!

Does the Gut Microbiome Play a Role in the Individual Response to the COVID-19 Virus?

Does the Gut Microbiome Play a Role in the Individual Response to the COVID-19 Virus? By Emeran A. Mayer, MD with Juliette Frank While the wave of COVID-19 infections is spreading rapidly around the world and taking its devastating human and economic toll, many questions are being asked about the nature of this pandemic. What are its root causes, when and how will it end, and most importantly, why does the impact on infected people range from a barely noticed infection to failure of the respiratory system and death in a small percentage of patients. We already know that there are high risk populations, such as the elderly and those with underlying conditions, in particular the metabolic syndrome - including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease, all diseases which are influenced to a large amount by the diet affected patients eat. Because of the greater prevalence of these chronic, metabolic disorders in African Americans and Latinos, there has been a dramatically higher impact of the COVID-19 infection on these segments of the US population. We also know that several mechanisms in the gut are altered in many of these chronic diseases, including changes in the gut microbiome, in intestinal permeability and in low grade activation of the gut associated immune activation. Two important factors play a role in these alterations in the gut: The North American diet and chronic stress. Could it be that these changes in gut health play a role in the vulnerability to the COVID-19 virus, explaining the greater toll that this virus takes on populations with such changes? Even though we probably won’t know all the answers to vulnerability question for a while, one can speculate about the possible role of the gut microbiome and its interactions with the gut associated immune system in determining the trajectory of the disease, once somebody is exposed to the virus. In order to understand this speculation, here is a short primer of the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is made up of vast ecosystem composed of trillions of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi. These microorganisms work together to protect our gut and its immune system from invading pathogens, e.g. viruses and bacteria which can cause great harm to our health. However, far from being a peaceful world of coexistence, there is a constant struggle between these micro organisms using antibiotic molecules suppress each other and…

The Health Benefits of Green Tea

The Health Benefits of Green Tea1,2 By E. Dylan Mayer and Emeran Mayer, MD People have been drinking tea for thousands of years, with the earliest evidence dating back to the 2nd century BC in China. Drinking tea is not only an enjoyable social activity with both relaxing and invigorating effects, but it has also been associated with many health benefits, including mental health. Two of the most popular types of tea are black and green tea. Both come from the same leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, but the process of making black tea involves extensive oxidization of the leaves, while green tea remains largely unoxidized. This difference is important, as the oxidation process significantly reduces the polyphenol content in black tea, reducing its potential health benefits. Various health benefits of green tea are well known to tea aficionados and have been observed in a significant number of epidemiological studies, in which prevalence of diseases are compared between a tea drinking group of individuals with another one without such habit. For example, a meta-analysis of observational studies found that women who drank the most green tea had a 20-30% lower risk of developing breast cancer.3 Even greater benefits were reported for male green tea drinkers with regard to preventing development of both prostate and colorectal cancers4,5 and there is some evidence for a beneficial effect in inflammatory bowel disorders.6 One of the most extensive epidemiological study about the possible antidepressant effect of has recently been published in BMC Geriatrics.7 The researchers analyzed the data from 13,000 individuals who took part in the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey between 2005 and 2014. Their analysis showed that consistent and frequent tea drinking was associated with significantly reduced depressive symptoms, an effect that was only significant for older men, and which was also partially influenced by other factors, such as social interactions. The results were similar to those from a study in healthy Korean people, which showed that those habitually drinking green tea, were 21% less likely to develop depression over a lifetime, than those who were non-drinkers.8 Many studies in cells and animal models have resulted in claims about the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular diseases9,10,11,12 along with anti-inflammatory14,18 antiangiogenic, antioxidative, neuroprotective, cholesterol-lowering13 and antibacterial and antiviral effects. Such claims, which have never been proven in well-designed clinical trials in human subjects have spawned not only a progressive increase in green…

Do the Benefits of Organic Food Justify the Increased Cost?

Do the Benefits of Organic Food Justify the Increased Cost? By Emeran Mayer, MD and E. Dylan Mayer A key component of industrial agriculture has been the increasing use of chemicals to maximize the output of inexpensive food products. No matter if the goal is to increase the yield of vegetables for human consumption, or the feed for cows and pigs, it comes down to the extensive use of chemical fertilizers and increasing amounts of pesticides and herbicides in order to increase the yield and to fight the diseases and pests that these conventionally grown plants are more prone to. Even though this approach is often heralded as a key to the successful feeding of a rapidly growing world population, the collateral damage on the health of the soil, on the plants growing on this soil and ultimately on our health has generally been minimized or ignored. Organic farming has long been promoted as a healthier alternative. Rather than breaking the natural cycle that exists between the soil, its microbes, plant health and pest resistance, organic farming aims to nurture and enhance these interactions. According to the USDA: “In organic production, overall system health is emphasized, and the interaction of management practices is the primary concern. Organic producers implement a wide range of strategies to develop and maintain biological diversity and replenish soil fertility” (USDA, 2007).1 Despite the theoretical and intuitive superiority of the organic approach, not only for our health, but for the health of farmworkers, the soil and the environment, there has been a long-standing debate on whether organic foods are healthier or more nutritious compared to conventional foods. A controversial 2012 publication2 from Stanford University reporting results of an analysis of more than 200 existing studies (a so called meta analysis) reported found “little evidence of health benefits from organic foods”. The heavily criticized (New York Times, Los Angeles Times) study reported that there are no consistent differences in vitamin content between organic and conventional food, along with no differences in protein or fat content between organic and conventional milk. The issue with the Stanford study is that it very narrowly defined “nutritious” as containing more vitamins. It failed to mention differences in the levels of other nutrients and beneficial molecules like polyphenols, as well as pesticide contamination. It is worth noting that Cargill, the largest privately owned company in the US trading in agricultural commodities provided…