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May 18

The Experimental Herbalist: Diet and My Pursuit of Personal Energy

Living a life with Deborah equates to plenty of exciting culinary exploration, and this has now been my delight for nearly a decade! The “healthful hedonism” of consuming whole foods, with whole ingredients, prepared by someone with experience and a talent for creating flavor integration is not only welcomed by my palate and body, but the psychological transformation I’ve now embraced is responsible for crushing any cravings for the contrary. For me, long-gone are the days of consuming hot dogs, fast food, soft drinks, processed snacks, commercial meats, hard alcohol or even the occasional cigarette. In fact, it can be said that there are only two real toxins that regularly and voluntarily enter my body. One is my glaucoma medication. The other is alcohol via organically-grown wine, the health benefits of which arguably outweigh the hazards, provided the appropriate moderation stays in place.

The task of unpacking and decoding all of the information available these days about what we ought or ought not to be ingesting must be augmented by the personal responsibility of finding a balance in light of all the possibilities. A fine-tuned BS detector comes in handy, and it is in this department that I can declare myself “ahead of the curve”. For instance, I can proudly count myself out of the equation when it comes to the pseudoscientific endeavors that 95% of people subscribe to and engage in every day of their lives, new-age or otherwise. This sidestepping not only saves me valuable time and energy (which I can devote to the body’s undisputed favorite healthy activity….exercise), but it spares me the adherence to the odd diets and dietary supplements that are designed more so to serve their promoters than my body. There is one school of metabolic thought, however, that has piqued my curiosity in recent months, despite the controversy it provokes. Let’s refer to it as the “soft science” of herbs and spices, and the personal energy to be sought from them.

An Open Mind Can Equal A Healthy Body

As is the case with the medication paradigm in this country, folks tend to focus on the cure instead of the prevention. As Deborah often puts it, “People are more inclined to take the Advil than to take the vitamins”. This is why I feel that the potential health benefits of common herbs become buried in a discussion about homeopathy. Perhaps it isn’t about what herbs might magically “cure” in our bodies, but what healthy trends they may be capable of promoting, in addition to what ailments and other unsatisfactory biological hiccups they might prevent. When looked at from the latter perspective, can we not admit that it’s well-worth investigating the effects that herbs and their properties could have on our health, longevity and personal energy? It’s certainly worth experimenting with, since overdosing is virtually out of the question and side effects other than allergies are unlikely. And let’s not forget how fascinating the flavors can be, especially if incorporated skillfully into cuisine.

A Place To Start

If cultivated organically, and not processed into supplements, certain herbs and spices (and the ingestion thereof) are decidedly neutral at worst, and potentially advantageous to the body over time. The impetus of my herbal exploration relates to some of the studies which suggest just that, combined with reports of the inexplicable longevity of populations in specific pockets of the world. For instance, turmeric, a subtly-bitter spice that comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant in East Asia, is loaded with antioxidants and is shown to be a powerful anti-inflammatory, promoting intestinal and prostate health while staving off cancer. Additionally, turmeric lowers bad cholesterol and is likely to protect liver and cardiovascular function. While many doctors have a hard time categorizing this as hard science, it doesn’t hurt to scoop a quarter-teaspoon of turmeric into my vegetable juice each morning, supplemented with a dash of cayenne pepper as an anti-allergen and digestive aid. And even if the intended metabolic effects are undetectable, they may certainly account for my recent increase in personal energy.

And About That Longevity

A recent NPR segment spotlighted the tiny, obscure Mediterranean village of Acciaroli in southern Italy. It seems that their population of 900 has the highest number of folks over 100 years of age….1 in 3! Of those centenarians, 20% have passed the age of 110. This wildly disproportional longevity model couldn’t be explained using the normal avenues. In fact, Acciaroli is a place where no one exercises and everybody smokes. One theory relates to the stress-free lifestyle, but the same is likely true for countless other European villages. Another theory mentioned the consumption of local wine, but again, fails to distinguish this population from others throughout Italy. Then the researchers had a look at the local diet and discovered the potentially magic ingredient that is used in Acciaroli in a vastly higher abundance than anywhere else in the world: Rosemary. After hearing this report, can you guess what now finds its way into my daily diet in copious quantities?

These new additions to my diet, aside from their flavor, amount essentially to a long-term experiment. If you want to know how well my health turns out as a result, I promise to report back in 3 to 5 decades. For now, I’m on the prowl for some Holy Basil seeds, the leaves and stems of which promise to stave off diabetes, to defend against mosquito bites, and to promote longevity. Sounds delicious. I’m energized just considering it!

To learn more, consider participating in this Friday’s DRIVEN virtual workshop, Energy Management: A Shift In Energy. You might gain a renewed sense of your own energy, herbs or no herbs! Sign up HERE.

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