CALMERme - Cancer Advocacy through Lifestyle Medicine, Empowerment and Research


I've launched a new website called CALMERme - an acronym for 'personalized cancer advocacy through lifestyle medicine, empowerment and research.'

It just got started but we have great plans for the future. I hope you'll take a look.

The goal is to support cancer patients through their diagnosis, treatment, and recovery by empowering them to incorporate lifestyle medicine approaches to help reduce treatment side effects, make the body inhospitable to cancer (for prevention and to prevent recurrence), and make the body AND mind and spirit healthy again.

I'll be putting some of the blog posts here too.

Would love to hear your comments.
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Eating fresh herbs daily

A couple of days ago, my photo for my #100happydays was of some chives growing in our garden. I love my herb garden.  It is right by my kitchen, so it is easy to nip out there and pull off a few leaves of something or other.

I eat fresh herbs daily and so was interested in some reading I was doing for my studies which was comparing different government food recommendations in different countries.  I was looking at the the New Nordic diet NND which is a gastronomically driven, regional, organic and environmentally friendly diet from Denmark.

The NND was developed by a collaboration led by Rene Redzepi from the world-leading Copenhagen restaurant NOMA.  NOMA held the title of "best restaurant in the world" for 3 years. Shortly after opening NOMA, Rene held a conference with other chefs in Denmark and they collaborated with the University of Copenhagen to create a healthy diet, showcased in the local restaurants that could also be easily used for home cooking.



The NND is based on regional foods in season, with a strong emphasis on palatability, healthiness, and sustainability, while staying in tune with regional food culture and dietary habits.


The basis of the diet is comprised of the following food groups:
  • fruit and vegetables - especially berries, cabbages, root vegetables and legumes
  • potatoes
  • fresh herbs
  • plants and mushrooms gathered/foraged from the wild
  • nuts
  • whole grains
  • meats from livestock and game
  • fish and shellfish
  • seaweed
The majority of foods are organically grown and of Nordic origin.

Yes - they include "fresh herbs" as a food group.  I don't believe any other government dietary requirements mentions herbs at all.

Herbs have lots of different effects on the body - with each having their own little "niche" of health benefits, for example oregano has antibacterial and anti fungal effects, thyme and rosemary are both good antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, mint helps with digestion,  and basil helps with pain, reduces cholesterol, etc.  So using a variety of fresh herbs as part of your daily diet brings lots of benefits - never mind the flavors they impart.

The research on NND shows that eating this style of eating leads to great health improvements and weight loss, with people eating the food ad libitum - i.e. freely.  The OPUS project is continuing research on the diet.  More information on OPUS and the NND are in these links, including their research with school children.

I have to confess, there is another reason why the NND piqued my interest!  I am going to Copenhagen in May for my husband's birthday celebration.  A couple of weeks ago, I stayed up one night until nearly 2am, and I managed to get a reservation to eat at NOMA while we are there. I am so excited.  I can't wait to eat at such a creative restaurant. They employ two full time "foragers" who go out and forage for the food every day.  Apparently, if a restaurant in Denmark doesn't employ a forager, its not really a "proper" restaurant!!!!!  I love the idea.


So in the meantime, I will continue to eat my home-foraged (!!) herbs daily, until I go to Copenhagen and eat Rene's amazing creations!  

Do you grow fresh herbs? Its something easy we can all do - even if you don't have a garden.  It not only makes food tasty but is good for your health.

Watch this spaceā€¦.you know you'll be hearing more about NOMA and Rene (who is definitely a Great Dane!) and the NND.
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Food as Medicine - Pomegranates - Part 3

Have you been out and bought your frozen pomegranate seeds yet or your pomegranate juice or dried seeds?  In the past couple of Food as Medicine posts, I've spoken about pomegranate looking hopeful for use with prostate cancer, and also some dental problems.


Studies show that pomegranate can also help to prevent and reverse atherosclerosis.  One study looked at the carotid artery and found that the group of men drinking pomegranate juice for a year had a 30% decrease in arterial plaque, while those not drinking the juice had a 9% increase.

Doctors in UCSF studied patients with heart disease. Nearly half had suffered heart attacks, most had high blood pressure and nearly all had high cholesterol levels. They were all taking several drugs, including statins, blood thinners and blood pressure medications.  For three months, one group drank 8oz pomegranate juice a day, and the others drank a placebo.  After three months, the group drinking pomegranate juice had a 17% increase in blood flow to the heart while the placebo had a 18% DECREASE.

UCSF researchers also found that episodes of angina decreased 50% in the pomegranate juice drinking group, while increasing 38% in the placebo group.

Pomegranate seems to protect cardiovascular health by augmenting nitric oxide, which supports the functions of endothelial cells that line the arterial walls.  Nitric oxide signals vascular smooth muscle to relax, which increases blood flow through arteries and veins.  Nitric oxide also reduces injury to the vessel walls, which helps prevent the development of atherosclerosis.

These studies definitely look interesting - but as always, please remember that not one thing does it all. If you eat a bad diet and just add pomegranate juice to that, you are not going to get healthy.
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Hold my hand

I love reading research studies - it stems back to my days as a research scientist.  I think you'll like reading my review of this one I found last week.  It is a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin demonstrating the power of holding hands.

Holding Hands


The study looked at the effect of holding hands on pain and fear.  Women we given mild electric shocks to induce pain and also cues beforehand to elicit fear and anxiety. Functional MRI measurements were taken of the brain activity to look for changes in pain levels and emotions.

When the women were alone and receiving shocks, they felt fear and pain and the areas of their brains responsible for emotion were particularly active.

When a male member of the research team, whom they didn't know, held their hand during the shock, the women felt less fear.


When the women held their spouses' hands during the shocks, their brain activity calmed markedly at every level.  The act of holding the hand of someone you love reduced pain, and fear and anxiety.  This effect was also directly proportional to the love they felt for their partner - i.e. the marital quality.

So remember this when you are with someone who is anxious, fearful or in pain. Reach out and hold their hand.  Whether they are your partner, friend, a child or a stranger.  That simple act of hand holding can have a powerful effect on them.  And even if they aren't in pain or fearful, still hold their hand!


If you'd like to read the study, here is the link: Lending a hand

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