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Class Times and Locations

“The forms can be taught,
but the essential principle of continuous practice,
has to be mastered by one’s self.”

Tuesday: 6:30 — 7:30 PM
~Granola Culture
(At the corner of Loudon Ave. and Limestone St.)
A FREE Class as it is Graciously Sponsored
by Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall
Wednesday: 5:00 – 6:30 PM
~Centered 309 N Ashland Ave.
Various Multiple Class Packages or Walk in
Thursday: 6:15 — 7:00 PM
~Urban Ninja Project
(Hi-Acres Shopping Mall – 1532 Bryan Station Rd.)
ONLY $5 for this 45 Minute Introductory Class

 

 

 

(859)339-4516

NEW Students
are welcome anytime in any class!

PRIVATE CLASSES are available at $20/hr. Please inquire for available times, if that arrangement is more to your liking. It can often be best, in the beginning of study, to have sufficient one on one discussion of principles and elucidations of posture and mechanics, before entering into the immersion of the Long Form class, but immersion does work well for those willing to try to move along with us.

To each their own gifts, skills
and learning curve.
 

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New students are welcome to begin learning this marvelous form and changing their health and future at any time, in any of the classes at any of the locations that partner with the Neoclassical Long Form T’ai-chi Association. We support a wholistic approach to health maintenance and encourage participation in any of the many other healthful arts available through our partners.

PRIVATE CLASSES are available for those who wish to focus more closely or for those who would appreciate some one on one before beginning to study with a group. Simply contact us for available times.

WORKSHOPS

Upcoming workshops in the Neoclassical form will be structured in six sessions with some time in between to sharpen skills before advancing through the next form choreography. These workshops will provide a thorough enough understanding of the form and its applications that after completing the course, the new practitioners should be able to effectively practice and properly improve their skills for the rest of their lives. Teacher certifications are also available for those who wish to pursue their interests further than their own personal well being and become transmitters of this most valuable and life enhancing art form. Please contact us via our email at TaoistDragon@gmail.com or call me directly at 859-339-4516. The Neoclassical Long Form T’ai-chi Ch’uan Association is available for workshops in your area, for your business or organization’s wellness program.

Elypsis . . .

Elypsis . . . logo

This gateway is for exchanges between interested visitors or adepts who have questions I may not have addressed in the essays section or new ideas you or I wish to put before our astute perceptions for peer review and discussion. Additionally it will serve as an interactive web log for expressions, opinions and discussions about the many varied, aspects of Tai-chi Chuan and its simple yet subtle, and therefore often esoteric principles.

In the hope of providing at time slot to accommodate anyone interested in accessing the marvelously enjoyable benefits of Tai-chi, Lexington T’ai-chi Ch’uan is currently holding classes at several Lexington locations. Class times are available at Centered on North Ashland, at Mecca Dance Studio and twice a week at Griffin VanMeter’s Kentucky For Kentucky Fun Mall at Loudon and Bryan Avenues. In the Summer we hold classes at the UK Arboretum. This gives you many chances to come to a class and find out why you chose so well for yourself. We also offer private classes to provide an opportunity to those whose schedules still do not coincide with the available classes.  Classes are always open to beginners. Everyone has a different way of learning and we address each students needs accordingly when they arrive. Classes are low stress, with light bending and lots of fun as we learn to move through the long form set. Great benefits are available to anyone who practices with diligence.  Dedicating a little time each day for the restoration of your self, is not a selfish activity. I like to call the process of moving through the forms, “Temple Maintenance”, “Polishing Your Armor” or “Restoring the Steward”. This marvelously simple art form can truly restore and maintain your being by actualizing T’ai-chi set after T’ai-chi set, continuously climbing the stairs through the Great Garden of the Fountain of Youth, employing the ancient Chinese secret of ‘repetition’.  This is a beautiful process of continuously refining ourselves, and the beneficial consequence is attainment of higher and higher states of integration, and perception of the surrounding forces and roaming figures that constitute our dynamic world.

Master Fong Ha said that, “no one really knows why they come to a T’ai-chi class”. Explaining further he stated, “neither I nor he knew where T’ai-chi would take us in another year”, but don’t let that stop any of you from coming to class, you simply cannot know a territory before you go there. As long as the practice we do in the moment is correct, the benefits are the same whether or not we know where we are going . . .

So as we wrestle with schedules and time allotment in our workday world, it is important to realize how much modern mundane culture steals of our valuable personal time, and that it is our birthright duty to ourselves as well as to natural life on Earth, to spend some of these precious living moments that pass through us each day, on cleaning the temple of the body, polishing our sentient mental armor, and maintaining and sustaining ourselves into a brighter, healthier, more vital and functional future. I know this to be possible. I physically realize that fact daily in my being, as a result of T’ai-chi Ch’uan. I feel like my core strength extends to my fingertips. My agility, while still improving daily, amazes and pleases me when I am needing to bend and move around close to the ground. My balance and strength are at a lifetime high, and I was a strong athlete who participated in seven sports in high school. I turned sixty on June second of this year, and it certainly does not feel like what I ever thought sixty would feel like. I often feel as though I’m a time traveler, because I retain all these distant memories, yet I feel very strong and youthful. I practice T’ai-chi, do Fountain of Youth Rites, run on my toes, ride bike, hula-hoop, dance and play, love and live, and so much of the enjoyment of it all seems to be that my body does not in any way encumber my ability to express or perform the activity or event.
So come and join us as we retreat from Father Time’s incessant ticking and restore youthful vigor and vitality. Youthfulness is a personal choice. Choose to take back some time to take back some time. Goethe said, “Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!” Be bold. Be magical and come dance the dance of youthfulness with us as often as you can.

Is Tai Chi A Real Martial Art?

 

In a recent post on a Yang Style Tai-Chi Group forum where martial ability from T’ai-chi was being tabled in a search for authenticity of application amid the multiplicity of T’ai-chi forms. It had been said that teachers varied in their abilities so much that some who believed they knew what they were doing, could be considered as selling “snake oil” due to what they did not know. There is a non-zero probability that this is true. I will not point fingers at any who are trying to open T’ai-chi’s mysterious doorway, but it is elusive because many of its tenets run contrary to the common thinking of culture. I had posted my take on a comment about teachers who did not learn from appropriate masters or only books and live in fantasy about their true knowledge and abilities regarding T’ai-chi. Then I responded again to a comment from an herbalist that said, in gest, I imagine, “What is wrong with snake oil? Gene Golden and I exchanged a couple of interesting letters, then Gene wrote an impeccably worded answer to an all too commonly heard question, “If T’ai-chi can be used for self-defense, then why aren’t the T’ai-chi masters throwing MMA fighters out of the rings?” This short, excerpted exchange is one of the clearest delineations I’ve ever heard regarding that question. I included some of our earlier comments as well, because they set the stage for Gene’s answer and are integral to the holistic understanding imparted in his last message. I post Gene’s comments on here with his permission, and I encourage you to look him up at Golden Dragon Tai Chi in Rancho Santa Margarita or South Orange County, CA or his web site at www.goldenstaichi.com . I hope you enjoy the following discussion and are able to comprehend the subtle point we are so rigorously dancing around and pointing at in this forum.

 

David Arnold wrote:
Interesting discussion though a bit course. Here are some comments I wrote down while reading this forum. Thanks to Laurent for translating the French side so, we can enjoy their input, as many good points were made.

Books alone will not suffice, one must also summon the great Tao to emerge from one’s own being, by whichever means might possibly carry them down that path, and THEN one CAN get it by themselves. Is this not how it emerged into being in the first place?

You can emulate a form master [If their form is correct], while listening to the Tao of yourself, and get everywhere!

Even if you are taught incorrectly, if you are listening to the natural tao, you have the ability to step beyond the teacher’s knowledge. If this were not so, culture and forms would not advance.

Focus is more important than time. The more focus in the moment, on correct posture and effortless movement, the shorter the time required for the body to rewire and reprogram itself into synergistic motion.

The task of learning T’ai-chi is endless, but it takes only three to four years of correct, truly focused daily practice to bring on marvelous results. I do stress the correct part of this. In a fifteen minute set, if you were only vertical and relaxed for one minute, then you only gained one minute toward true knowledge and 14 minutes on non-beneficial movement pathways.
If the form being viewed and copied is correct, then the copier of that form can achieve mastery on their own. The correct way of the great Tao is ever so seductive, and if you get close to its edge, it will surely pull you on in. I know, if I pass on from this world and all that is left of the form I do is a video, then whomever closely mimics those movements will fall inexorably into the Tao of T’ai-chi Ch’uan, whether or not they ever ask a question of anyone who says they might have an answer. Did not our great form come from a man who looked over a wall? If you follow the finger pointing at the Moon, you will eventually see the real Moon.

Ah,Thomas, you want pugilistic proof. The old, tired quest. Why was ‘The Supreme Ultimate Fist’ taught exclusively to the the royal guard for three generations? Was it because it was ineffective? Do the gentle masters of today need to enter into unnecessary pugilistic contests, so you can believe what the imperial palace realized back then? T’ai-chi is foremost a means to enlighten the being. The martial aspects are as much of an adjunct of integral motion and internal harmony in the being, as are the health aspects. Simply put, T’ai-chi teaches one to move in profoundly beneficial ways that are applied in every action endeavored every day, even defending oneself, if necessary.

The great instructor is inside yourself.

Come on folks! We ARE that great sentient creature capable of scaling the heights of mathematics, music and philosophy. Have we not crossed the oceans of water and space? Have we not fought and won the perilous battle for continuous existence? Teachers help! Writings can be wonderful guidelines. Seeing someone do a form like T’ai-chi even once, is like having a dream or internal vision of something that can be. We, highly creative and intelligent creatures can find out anything on our own! In fact, that is the only way anything new, has ever happened. Why take up such self-limiting stances as, you cannot learn from books or without a teacher, when that is clearly not the case? I have had great teachers, for which I am indebtibly thankful, but ultimately it was up to me to see and apply their teachings, and to find my own path through the mystery. Yes, it is undoubtedly more difficult to uncover those truths without a teacher or writings, but it is certainly not impossible, for we have T’ai-chi today and there was a time when we didn’t.

It is the students who know whether their teachers are masters or not, as it will be the students who believe in the summoning of their own inner master, as well.

 

Gene Golden wrote:
Okay Thomas, for what its worth here is a video of my form and some basically fairly non-exertive push hands practice. Maybe you can see what I’m doing or not.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_SXPFW9unY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LE5aO-UG6ts&feature=em-upload_owner
I am not of the generation that grew up with computers so I apologize for my lack of video footage, it is sadly not my milieu.
As far as fights, you make me laugh. I don’t have any videos as they happened on the streets of New York and elsewhere. I fight when I have to with my life being the risk, not for personal glory or aggrandizement and the luxury of a referee who can stop the fight, as in tournaments. Actually most of the time I have avoided fights. Three times I was surrounded by groups of individuals attempting to rob me and in each case they thought better of it and left. I was once confronted by a group of 4 individuals who intended to try and rape my girlfriend, they left without confrontation when I didn’t bother to turn around and even acknowledge their presence, I was simply waiting for their attack, they didn’t. I had 2 individuals attempt to break into my apartment in New York who were armed with a .38 pistol, they lost that fight before they could comprehend what had just happened. There were others as well but I will not waste your time enumerating them. Look, different people do T’ai Chi for different reasons and in different ways. I don’t criticize others nor do I appreciate them criticizing me. My point is I have nothing to defend as I do not defend my position, I do however defend my body. If you really want to know my fighting skill I invite you to come to Southern California and just try and attack me, then we will find out. I’m sorry if I seem confrontative, but you and I are obviously on different paths in T’ai Chi which is fine for each individual should seek their own path, but the only way for you to know my path is for you to feel it.
Hopefully you can accept my points, if you do not understand them once again, I will simply opt out of this conversation.

 

David Arnold
Sparring and MMA ‘fighting’ are simply methods of testing a hypothesis, but they are by no means a standard. Correctly practiced T’ai Chi Ch’uan is a health art, a martial art as well as a means of awakening the human being. Why in the world would an accomplished, high-level T’ai Chi Ch’uan master, submit themselves to the rigorous aggression of a ring fight? What could such a great, balanced and peaceful being like Fong Ha possible wish to prove, and to who? These contests of the kind of proof you wish to find, only happen spontaneously, under dire circumstances, when the true skills of these masterful martial artists are called on for the sake of stewardship or self-preservation. It is not that T’ai Chi Ch’uan did not properly prepare them to defend themselves (“fight” is you wish), it is just that it also makes them/us really good, calm, peaceful and perceptive people who try to avoid violence. Gerry Marr said to me four days ago, that “The object of T’ai Chi as self-defense is to make them [the attacker] feel silly”, so they stop trying. T’ai Chi is the art of following and yielding. So the question is, will one artist be better at yielding, than the other is at aggressing? AND can that be proven outside of a ‘real’ conflictual interaction?

[The concept of Wuji Standing was introduced into the forum at this point, as an essential practice that was taught by Sam Tam and his student Kee Jee in order to achieve truly successful martial ability.]

 

David Arnold
I’m pretty sure it was Fong Ha who originally brought Sam Tam to teach in his Integral Ch’uan classes in Berkeley, along with Han Xingyuan and Cai Song-fang. Jan Diepersloot is a student of Fong’s as well. Fong Ha took the Yang Style form and practiced it like it was Wuji Standing. This was what brought the 108 form back to life for Fong. Before this he had left Yang Sau-Chung’s school, because it essentially was not delivering what he was reading about, and he had discovered that Master Han could effect him before he touched him, and was adept at reading his intentions before he moved.
This restoration of function is Fong Ha’s contribution to T’ai Chi Ch’uan. This is the form I learned 33 yrs ago in Santa Barbara from Fong’s student Gerry Marr.

 

David Arnold
I agree with you about there being fantasy teachers as well as fantastic teachers.

I believe you and I, as well as Lee Chang agree on what true teaching is, but the art form itself in its purest expression by its most skillfull practitioners, is not one conducive to picking fights or egotistical proving of ability by unnecessarily producing a situation that might possibly bring harm to another person. If Fong Ha encountered another great martial artist, he would likely go have coffee with them. The old Yang texts are replete with information stating that this art form is about following and yielding, and the historic record from China long ago determined T’ai-chi Ch’uan’s effectiveness and placed it in the imperial palace. To me, those who believe T’ai-chi is about yielding, followed by the big punch, do not understand the profound benefits of I Ch’uan or Wuji Standing that Fong Ha, Sam Tam and Han Xingyueh were teaching. Fong made the statement that these type of practices are the reason for success in all martial arts. Proof of this must come from anecdotes of unplanned, real life interactions, not from contrived sparring matches, and they do come to us in that way. There are many stories of these past events which were recorded because of their unusual nature, but there is a current group who wish to see proof of this in a cage fight. Their attempts to dispel their own disbelief, does not in any way effect the true nature and prowess of T’ai-chi as a phenomenal art of self-defense.

 

Gene Golden
David, I agree with you, what do we have to prove? Of course, to some, that means we must be entirely without self-defense skills as we seem so loathe to prove it. If that is how some feel it is entirely their right to go and fight whomever they please and gain whatever insights that might provide them with. My teacher is one of the top fighters in T’ai Chi Ch’uan, William C.C. Chen, who took the silver medal in the full contact All Asian Martial Arts Tournament of 1958. The true test of his T’ai Chi was a famed incident when he was attacked by a kung fu master in Chinatown. He literally destroyed the master, as each time he was attacked, Master Chen deflected and struck, breaking his bones until Aaron Banks the founder of the Oriental World of Self-Defense who happened to be a witness the encounter, intervened and wrestled the kung fu master to the ground before he could have further damage done to him due to his continuous attacks. I, in time became one of the top fighters in the school having to take on a variety of harder style fighters who came to the school wanting to find out how good his style of fighting really was. Master Chen always wanted me to enter tournaments and I always refused because I learned T’ai Chi to develop an impenetrable sense of peace, not to assert my fighting prowess. I have had real occasion to use my skills to defend my life since and let me assure you it is nothing like tournament fighting, what with the exclusion of deadly techniques such as to the throat, groin and eyes not to mention the security provided by a referee who will stop the fight before too great a damage can be done. I grew up in New York City and had been mugged multiple times at knife point before undertaking T’ai Chi, but never successfully mugged or attacked since. To me fighting is fighting and tournaments are controlled fighting designed to entertain a paying audience, I am not an entertainer nor do I try to eke a living out of beating others. Don Miller, a National Push Hands champion, once said to me that the likelihood of him ever punching someone in the face in a fight, is next to zero. I agree fully, however that is primarily what occurs in tournament fighting. I don’t train to take multiple hits to the face, I train to deflect the first one and drop the person immediately so he has no further opportunity to repeat the attempt. I also rely on my interpretive ability to know what that will take so, as to not do any more damage than is absolutely required. So far it has taken very little of my energy to accomplish the end of a fight with a single technique, that was far short of doing damage to the person other than a large bruise to his ego. A real top level fighter is a different story and it is possible that one of us may not survive the encounter or be the same person again after it, that is not a joke or a fun thing to contemplate and is why I have no reason to go around testing myself. My interest is peace and searching for development of my spirituality and my connection to and communication with the universe. T’ai Chi is not the same thing to any two people, but is for each to explore and understand for themselves. This defines and broadens the art as a whole, it is a gestalt where the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts. When people begin to try and assert their standards on others I can only wonder when they will come to understand that the true meaning of T’ai Chi Ch’uan is the ever growing diversity achieved by individuals exploring their meaning of T’ai Chi, for the art is an aggregate of all the individuals learning it. People, please stop trying to tell others what they should be doing and using words to demean their efforts and busy yourselves on the path you are on and show the world through your own development what T’ai Chi Ch’uan is.

 

David Arnold
Snake oil may be beneficial for an herbalist, but incorrect T’ai Chi is not beneficial in the ways it can be Beneficial.

The dust of the historical narrative of the ownership of the origins has not yet settled and likely may never settle, due to the scarcity of legitimate historical documents in China [Although Douglas Wile’s book, T’ai Chi’s Ancestors ‘The Making of an Internal Martial Art’, likely aims the understanding of that quest in the correct direction]. Thirteen postures boxing though; the 5 foundational postures, plus the 4 cardinal moves and the 4 diagonal moves, are known to be martial distillations of the battles of the Western and Eastern Zhou Dynasties that forged China into China ending around 221 BC. Exactly how long 13 postures boxing has been married to the art forms of stillness will also be up for debate from now until the end of history, but its value was proven long ago. And yes, the expression of T’ai-chi forms is multifaceted, but the principle is singular? There is a way to do T’ai-chi Ch’uan and there is a way to waste your time trying to do T’ai-chi Ch’uan. Many forms, one method. What is that method? The other questions are: Why is T’ai-chi effective as a martial art? Is it effective for the same reason as other martial arts are effective or is there an inherent difference in its application that sets it apart? What is that difference?

 

Gene Golden
David, as far as your question, “What is the inherent difference that sets T’ai Chi apart from other martial arts” and what is the method we use to accomplish this?
Other martial arts tend to be about doing something, those who can do more than others are better at it, whether that be more aggression, more power, better techniques, whatever. T’ai Chi is to me, about emptiness and doing less. When one is empty and doing nothing one can then be listening and with listening it becomes apparent the moment that something needs to be done. That is my power, non-action and emptiness enables acting at a precise timing that every situation has, where an almost effortless movement seems to create an almost insurmountable power. It is the cause for much humor in my life when I have used this ability and it is all that I am trying to grow in my practice.
But I’d like to address a broader issue than T’ai Chi fighting, for it is not the goal as some of this conversation seems to suggest but simply the tool that can be used to develop different capabilities.
The thing I see is that T’ai chi is evolving in a special way right now, it is truly no longer just about T’ai Chi, it has now become about the planet. T’ai Chi has the capacity to awaken those who are listening, enabling us with the sensitivity to begin to hear the planet and the universe and find what our path can be. Planetary healing is my own direction in T’ai Chi and yes, I still love to fight, because fighting makes one strong and gives one the power to face the challenges that face us in overcoming the forces of negativity that seem to be amassed with the singular goal of attacking our environment, as if it were something that needs to be wiped out. Good old people, you gotta’ love them.
Isn’t universal chi such a critical aspect of T’ai Chi, that even eclipses the powers of personal chi? Only by knowing it are we able to access its limitless creative power.
It is here we are invited to be one with the universe talking to itself. The gift that T’ai Chi can awaken within us, is to be part of that sacred conversation. We are the universe and the universe is us, that is the hidden secret.
Many besides us are doing this, Eckhart Tolle has said, “The T’ai Chi people are getting it and are part of the solution” Coming from a person who does not even do T’ai Chi, that statement exhibits a high level of awareness. It is time we add our voices to the great outcry to defend our land, water, air and species and to accept our birthright, which has been made available to us through our consciousness and awareness. We can learn to embrace all things and take our rightful position as warriors to protect our wonderful gift of life.

************************

The truth is like a Lion.

You don’t have to defend it.

Let it loose.

It will defend itself.

St. Augustine

 

Reaching Back for Roots

An Investigation into the Tao of T’ai-chi Ch’uan

 

This form developed out of a deep investigation of the Tao of T’ai-chi Ch’üan and as such, contains an amalgam of information from many different sources.  Primarily from Master Fong Ha, one of his great students Gerry Marr and Master Ha’s teachers, Yang Sau Chung and Tung Ying Chieh.  The study also included many of their sons, daughters and students, such as the profound Tung Hu Ling, the venerable Chen Man Cheng and his marvelous gentlemanly student T. T. Liang (Ma Yueh).  All of these beings and many others not mentioned by name, participated in visual transmissions of the ancient teaching, many as well contributed in written words only, some only in calligraphy.  It mattered not what form it took, because the tao of it seeks us, if we relax and listen to our body’s desired movements and flow.

Sometime in the mid 1600’s in China (Huang Tsung-hsi 1610-95)[LTTCxvi], there was a developmental discovery into the nature of martial movement, involving the concept of yielding, which reversed the principles of the Shaolin Temple Style.  In this approach, the being as a whole, is integrated into the situation, via a refined energetic awareness and softness, that is as balanced and fluid as the air which surrounds it.  This understanding eventually led to a teaching and a sequence of forms was generated for various reasons, such as practicing the most important principles many times, inside a sequence of other martially beneficial postures, that all easily transform from one to another or several others and back and on and on, in what was known as Long Boxing.  The art of stringing together martial maneuvers or postures into a continuously transforming sequence that enabled one to flow effortlessly like a river rolling to the sea. Practicing T’ai-chi as a daily discipline turns it into an endless dance designed to imbue infinitesimal sensitivity in a creature naturally capable of such limitless inward growth.

A very masterful form was the likely result of those early ventures into what we today call T’ai-chi Ch’uan and it most surely generated many incredibly accomplished masters, who did most likely move like ghosts and appeared to have miraculous powers by throwing opponents great distances, over walls or into nets around an arena.  Some apparently fantastic stories, no doubt slightly propped up by the bent of historians and nationalists to glorify events, but still interpretations based upon real experiences, and onlookers attempts to record what they saw.

The discovery was real, the teachings are real, living in the present is real and full of surprises and changes that go along with the ebb and flow of discoveries and interactions with information we encounter all day long, through all of our days.  One of those great pieces of information is the reality of the true nature of T’ai-chi Ch’uan.  Doing these coordinated, synchronous, and balanced movements changes our beings in ways that cause words to recede into almost useless metaphors when called to describe, compared to the real feelings that arises when you call your body into alert, focused action, and every part rises at once, ready, aware and confident with vitality, capability and impeccability!

 

Those teachings can drift and change over time and still hold on to the efficacy of the art form, that the principles of yielding imply, but the actual form would likely and did evidently, take on several variations, even inside each of the major styles that developed; Yang, Hao, Chen, Wudang, Sun and Wu.  My specific quest was to look back through the forms of the great artists of today and find that naturally endowed, thirteen postures boxing path in the 29 postures, that interweave during the actualization of the 108 long form that I had been taught.  It had an origin, and a plan and layout at that time, consisting of the twenty-nine postures that Yang  had learned from Ch’en Ch’ang-hsing (1771-1853)[LTCCxv], and I wanted to do that form, that sequence, in the full flower of the Tao of it, as it was at its inception.  With deepest respect to all of my teachers and the enchanted path they unknowingly put me on, I dared to ask questions about each move. I asked lots of questions about the structure and application of each posture and each path of transformation to the next posture.  When I found something that was not quite clear enough for my satisfaction or one that violated a principle, a rule, or a martial intent, I would search through the T’ai-chi Classics or watch videos of Fong Ha, or Tung Ying Chieh or Yang Sau Chung and others, to see if, what they were doing, answered my inquiry. If that did not help and even if it did, I would look through the photographs of the great Yang Cheng Fu in his book on T’ai-chi to see if they would hold the answer I was searching for.  If I found an image or movie or text that indicated a path to clarity on the issue, I adopted it into the set, but only if it also felt mechanistically appropriate to my body.  Sometimes, possibly often, it took trying it out long enough to understand the mechanism of the new move, to get it fluid and sometimes that took weeks.  The surprises came when after revisiting adjacent postures in the sequence, the truth of the transforms between them, would come to be clearly understood.  It was one of the most intriguing adventures of my life and it primarily took place on a hilltop, east of a small town in central Kentucky.

It seemed like an unlikely spot for an event of this nature and specter to be occurring, yet I am as certain that it did, as I am that what was found in my impassioned search, is the Tao of the long form of that fine art.  There are those that disagree for this or that reason, but the Tao of T’ai-chi is freely available and its deep instruction permeates all beings.  Douglas Wile, wisely stated that, “A unbroken master-disciple transmission might not in fact be necessary if we consider that soft-style theory is permanently embedded in the culture and perennially available to any art, or that it is a universal kinesthetic possibility that can be rediscovered at any time through praxis.”

The initial discovery was without doubt a convoluted exercise in martial archeology blended with philosophy, poetry and cultural anthropology, but my journey back to that original pattern was guided by the giants who originally danced it and left it deep in the archetypal memory for me to find.  Asking questions is the sister of listening.  The set kept unfolding before me as a series of inspired inquisitions.  The Tao of T’ai-chi was evolving me into itself.  I pressed on by doing set after set and watching the changes integrate, enfold and unfold, calling me into line with their intentions.

I owe a great debt to all of those practitioners of T’ai-chi that lent me a Song, a kick nuance, a foot or hand position or the ever so beneficial movement in a video.  It was all there to be reassessed into the original, and I was fortunate enough to really need to do that, at that time in my life.  T’ai-chi and I did each other favors and changed each other forever.

What is left behind in the form I now teach is a distillation of all of the resources I could bring to bear to elucidate that marvelous art form, that left behind such intriguing stories of men who were obviously even more impressive in person.  They found it and brought it into existence within their bodies, by love of living and dedication to self-discipline. It is all ours for the simple price of dancing through their marvelous sequence each day of our lives, and furthering ourselves into the future.

 

 

Stayin’ Alive Diet

 

Eggs, Broccoli, Shitake and Mozzerella

Eggs scrambled in Coconut oil with Broccoli, Shitake mushroom and Mozzarella cheese.

The 20 Things Longevity Menu  ->Recipes

 This is a brief introduction to a way of eating that is, at its heart, simplified for practicality, as well as health and longevity. Though it says, 20 Things, the things are actually categories, so less is really more, yet still simple. Mainly this is just making Common Sense Choices About Food, which is detailed further in the essay that link takes you to, if you wish to pursue more information on that topic.  If I’m pressed to define it, this is an ovolacto-vegetarian, ketogenic, anti-angiogenic diet that has a bit of a  paleo-logical slant to it, but it is really just eating clean, nutrient dense, non-processed foods, without pesticides and preservatives, when at all possible. Sonya and I are vegetarian, but using non-hormonally treated meat as your protein source is an acceptable choice you can make for yourself. Whatever name we use, The Stayin’ Alive Diet or The Why Do I Feel So Good Diet, sure seems to be controlling our weight. Brain function also seems elevated and we seem to be truly sustaining ourselves in the long dance with aging. This is a very powerful and satisfying way to eat and stay healthy. Cooking meals for just two months using only foods from this list, will have a profound effect on most people’s health, which should stabilize and then constantly improve for as long as they continue on the diet.
So first off we will look at the rough cut 20 Things List, then get down to the reasons to eat them, other than how good they taste, and then we’ll cover the mixing and matching with some of our favorite recipes.

To your health!   David & Sonya

 THE 20 THINGS LIST       (view The Stayin’ Alive Breakfast Poster)

– Broccoli [Lots & lots]* (this is Brassica, or Wild Cabbage flower)
– Cauliflower (this is Brassica, or Wild Cabbage sterile flower)
– Brussels sprouts (this is Brassica, or Wild Cabbage sport)
– Cabbage [Savoy, Red, Napa] (this is a Brassica, or Wild Cabbage)
– Endive
– Asparagus
– Mushrooms – mainly Shitake,  Portobello, Maitake*
– Rutabaga (this is a Brassica or Wild Cabbage tuber) (for hash browns)
– Parsley [Lots] (one of the strongest Anti-angiogenic foods)*
– Parsnip – for anti-inflammatory acetylenes* (helps sweeten hash browns)
– Turnip – similar to parsnip, but not as sweet (typically not used in breakfast)
– Turmeric – (Lots of it, powdered and fresh root, for curcumins)*
– Onions – Green, White, Purple, Shallots, Leeks
– Celery Root [this very powerful food does many beneficial things](for hash browns)
– Black radish [Best anti-inflammatory!]* (Can be used in breakfast hashbrowns)
– Radish [Daikon & Red] (typically too strong for hashbrowns, great for lunch)
– White Yams [preferred] or Sweet Potatoes (a yin food that oils your joints)
– Kale, Collard, Spinach (this is Brassica, or Wild Cabbage)
– Beans [organic, if possible] – All varieties (alternative protein source)
– Eggs with high Omega-3 values
– Cheeses and yogurts (are the best dairy products, because the live cultures in them kill the viruses that typically reside in milk. Only use non-GMO and non-growth hormone treated Whole Milk dairy products)*
– Olives – All varieties
– Eat soft nuts and chew thoroughly
– Drink Blue Diamond Coconut-Almond Milk – Unsweetened

NOTES:
ALWAYS cook with Coconut oil, as well as Red palm oil (if possible) 
though you can also add in lesser amounts of sesame, grapeseed oil and/or olive oil into the diet as well. too much Olive oil or other omega-6 oils can interfere with the breakdown of omega-3 oil’s, as both occupy the same bond sites on the cell. Too much omega-6 oil in ratio to the omega-3’s, can leave too few bond sites for the omega-3’s to intercalate into and be broken down, causing a deficiency in EPA and DHA that is needed for clear thinking and body maintenance.

AVOID ALL HYDROGENATED OILS!

CHOCOLATE – Though not to be eaten with high fat meals, high percentage Chocolate in the 85% to 90% range can be quite beneficial. Green & Black makes a great (the best really) 85%, Lindt makes a tolerable 90%, Dagoba makes a fine 87% and Endangered Species makes a good 88%. The higher the percent chocolate the lower the percentage of sugar. Good chocolate is a marvelous anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory as well as a mood enhancer (Theobromine) and generally enjoyable. Which is another point to make about this diet, I am thoroughly enjoying eating all of these fat rich foods. This is not a diet of starvation and hunger. At 6:45 AM, I eat that delicious egg, veggie and cheese breakfast, with those fats and oils, and I do not get hungry until noon, when I maw down a tasty oily, cheesy bowl of beans and broccoli or any other combination of the above list.

 AVOID Peanuts and Gluten as completely as possible on general principles!
(These two items either effect a large percentage of the people or have an extremely adverse effect on the people who react to them, so I suggest they be avoided as much as possible.)

ADDITIONAL OILS!
– 
Take Vitamin D3 along with Vit. K2
– Take Krill Oil – ‘Power of Krill’ by Life-flo for essential oils EPA & DHA
– Take GSE – Grapefruit Seed Extract – Begin by taking 30 drops in 7 oz of pure water, first thing in the morning, every morning for two weeks. Do not wash down the bad taste with more water, as this will dilute the concentration you are trying to achieve in your digestive tract. Try to wait at least a half an hour before eating. Even though the GSE is bitter it should not cause your stomach to cramp or react negatively. This will clear out any hitch-hiking parasites that are hindering your healing. Do this three or four times a year.

IMPORTANT!! You will have more positive results if you go online and review the positive health benefits of these foods. Research what they do chemically in the body, so you can envision it and get it rolling in your body. Doctors know what people look like when they’re sick, and they’ve watched them get better, but no doctor can tell you why your biology triumphed over an imbalance they claimed would take you down. You just have to empower yourself and turn the corner they don’t know exists. If you feed your body as above indicated and do some energy balancing exercises, there is no reason you cannot reclaim your territory from the invaders, who silently seek to destroy your living processes.

So, what to eat?  Breakfast usually consists of 3 eggs, lots of shredded broccoli tops, some onion, turmeric, shitake, a ladle of coconut and Red Palm oils – sometimes we fry some white yams, and parsnips on the side, but often we cut them into small cubes and cook the into the eggs, or beans if its lunch. The asterisked* foods in the list above are in pretty much every meal. The variations between broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are as your inclination to change allows and desires. They are all cultured sports of the same species of wild cabbage, so they are chemically similar, with only the ratios of different compounds changing from rutabaga to broccoli. Personally I just simplify and have pretty much the same meals each day, but the seasoning and change out variations lend to quite different meals that are all about the same level of healthy. Try to keep your daily carb intake to under 50 grams, though 100 grams is tolerable if a large percentage of your oil is coconut. No Sugar, No fruit, berries or anything labeled, glucose, lactose, sucrose, dextrose, NO OSE’s! There will be an adjustment period for your body to acclimate to the fat burning mode, but that will kick in in about three days and be in full swing by two weeks. You might experience some headaches during this period, which means to drink more water and eat more green leafy vegetables when that is occurring. After the adjustment period you can have a piece of fruit or a few berries from time to time, but eat them separately and allow time for the sugars to clear your blood streem before eating fats or oils. This is most important, as the sugars will cause the fats to become sticky and adhere to the walls of arteries.

You may wish too, to get a vital greens powder from the health food store to add a full and complex phyto-nutrient assault on your situation. Many of these blends have phyto-nutrients from 20 or 30 different green foods.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

 You would likely benefit from seeing this TED talk on anti-angiogenesis http://www.ted.com/talks/william_li.html and understand how this applies to sustaining our health.
[here is the blog as well:  http://blog.ted.com/2010/02/10/dr_william_lis/ ]

Many of the foods I show in my list are anti-angiogenic (cancer suppressing) foods. Maitake mushroom may be better at suppressing angiogenesis than Shitake, so if you are actively fighting a cancer and need to aggressively respond anti-angiogenically, one mushroom might be more important than the other. Read and research for yourself.

This list of mine will get you to 93% of what you need to regain your health, the other 7% is your interest, attitude and intention. Research, fine tune and use strict discipline regarding what goes down your throat.

Last, but in no way least, stand and meditate for significant periods of time. Standing vertically relaxed around your center, not slumping, but enclosing the solar-plexus with roundness, is the most ideal healing posture for a human being. The Chinese call it, I Ch’uan, or Intention Practice. It teaches your body to increase its awareness of deep balance in the body, which translates to deep balance in the biophysical being, which enables the body to marshal its collective forces via internal harmony and balance, and use such a unified force to expel the uninvited guest from your domain.

To your health!!  ~From the team at Elypsis . . . 

Sliced King Oyster Mushroom crown & White Onions cooking in Coconut and Red Palm oils.

Here is some additional information that I have collected from the Internet, regarding the nutritional chemistry and consequent health benefits that can be acquired through the ingestion of these remarkable plants.

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From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brassica 

Almost all parts of some species or other of Brassica have been developed for food, including the root (rutabagaturnips), stems (kohlrabi), leaves (cabbagecollard greens), flowers (cauliflowerbroccoli), buds (Brussels sproutscabbage), and seeds (many, including mustard seed, and oil-producing rapeseed). Some forms with white or purple foliage or flowerheads are also sometimes grown for ornament.

Brassica Plant Group Nutrition

Brassica vegetables are highly regarded for their nutritional value. They provide high amounts of vitamin C and soluble fiber and contain multiple nutrients with potent anticancer properties: 3,3′-diindolylmethanesulforaphane and selenium.[3][4] Boiling reduces the level of anticancer compounds, but steamingmicrowaving, and stir frying do not result in significant loss.[5] Steaming the vegetable for three to four minutes is recommended to maximize sulforaphane.[6]

Brassica vegetables are rich in indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells in vitro and appears to block the growth of cancer cells in vitro.[7][8] They are also a good source of carotenoids, with broccoli having especially high levels.[9] Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have recently discovered that 3,3′-diindolylmethane in Brassica vegetables is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system with potent antiviral, antibacterial and anticancer activity;[10] however, it also is an antiandrogen.[11]

These vegetables also contain goitrogens, which suppress thyroid function. This can induce hypothyroidism and goiter.[12]

Species

There is some disagreement among botanists on the classification and status of Brassica species and subspecies.[citation needed] The following is an abbreviated list, with an emphasis on economically important species.

Other species formerly placed in Brassica[edit]

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From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi has been created by artificial selection for lateral meristem growth (a swollen, nearly spherical shape); its origin in nature is the same as that of cabbagebroccolicauliflowerkalecollard greens, and Brussels sprouts: they are all bred from, and are the same species as the wild cabbage plant (Brassica oleracea).

The taste and texture of kohlrabi are similar to those of a broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder and sweeter, with a higher ratio of flesh to skin. The young stem in particular can be as crisp and juicy as an apple, although much less sweet.

Except for the Gigante cultivar, spring-grown kohlrabi much over 5 cm in size tend to be woody, as do full-grown kohlrabi much over perhaps 10 cm in size; the Gigante cultivar can achieve great size while remaining of good eating quality. The plant matures in 55–60 days after sowing. Approximate weight is 150 g and has good standing ability for up to 30 days after maturity.

There are several varieties commonly available, including White Vienna, Purple Vienna, Grand Duke, Gigante (also known as “Superschmelz”), Purple Danube, and White Danube. Coloration of the purple types is superficial: the edible parts are all pale yellow. The leafy greens can also be eaten.

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Molecules 201116(1), 251-280; doi:10.3390/molecules16010251

Review

Phenolic Compounds in Brassica Vegetables

María Elena Cartea * Marta FranciscoPilar Soengas and Pablo Velasco

Misión Biológica de Galicia, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Apartado 28, 36080 Pontevedra, Spain

* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received: 19 October 2010; in revised form: 6 December 2010 / Accepted: 28 December 2010 / Published: 30 December 2010

(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenolics and Polyphenolics)

 Download PDF Full-Text [313 KB, uploaded 30 December 2010 14:43 CET]

Abstract: Phenolic compounds are a large group of phytochemicals widespread in the plant kingdom. Depending on their structure they can be classified into simple phenols, phenolic acids, hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives and flavonoids. Phenolic compounds have received considerable attention for being potentially protective factors against cancer and heart diseases, in part because of their potent antioxidative properties and their ubiquity in a wide range of commonly consumed foods of plant origin. The Brassicaceae family includes a wide range of horticultural crops, some of them with economic significance and extensively used in the diet throughout the world. The phenolic composition of Brassica vegetables has been recently investigated and, nowadays, the profile of differentBrassica species is well established. Here, we review the significance of phenolic compounds as a source of beneficial compounds for human health and the influence of environmental conditions and processing mechanisms on the phenolic composition of Brassica vegetables.

Keywords: anthocyanins; antioxidant activity; biological activity; brassica; flavonoids; health; hydroxycinnamic acids; polyphenols

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This information is from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University

http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/foods/cruciferous/

Cruciferous Vegetables

Summary

  • Cruciferous vegetables are unique in that they are rich sources of sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates. (More Information)
  • Chopping or chewing cruciferous vegetables results in the formation of bioactive glucosinolate hydrolysis products, such as isothiocyanates and indole-3-carbinol. (More Information)
  • High intakes of cruciferous vegetables have been associated with lower risk of lung and colorectal cancer in some epidemiological studies, but there is evidence that genetic differences may influence the effect of cruciferous vegetables on human cancer risk. (More Information)
  • Although glucosinolate hydrolysis products may alter the metabolism or activity of sex hormones in ways that could inhibit the development of hormone-sensitive cancers, evidence of an inverse association between cruciferous vegetable intake and breast or prostate cancer in humans is limited and inconsistent. (More Information)
  • Many organizations, including the National Cancer Institute, recommend eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily; the recommended serving number depends on age, sex, and physical activity level. However, separate recommendations for cruciferous vegetables have not been established. (More Information)

Introduction

Cruciferous or Brassica vegetables are so named because they come from plants in the family known to botanists as Cruciferae or alternately, Brassicaceae. Many commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables come from the Brassica genus, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, bok choy, and Chinese cabbage (1). Arugula, horse radish, radish, wasabi, and watercress are also cruciferous vegetables.

Cruciferous vegetables are unique in that they are rich sources of glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds that impart a pungent aroma and spicy (some say bitter) taste (2). The hydrolysis (breakdown) of glucosinolates by a class of plant enzymes called myrosinase results in the formation of biologically active compounds, such as indoles and isothiocyanates (3). Myrosinase is physically separated from glucosinolates in intact plant cells. However, when cruciferous vegetables are chopped or chewed, myrosinase comes in contact with glucosinolates and catalyzes their hydrolysis. Scientists are currently interested in the potential for high intakes of cruciferous vegetables as well as several glucosinolate hydrolysis products to prevent cancer (see Indole-3-Carbinol and Isothiocyanates).

Disease Prevention

Cancer

Like most other vegetables, cruciferous vegetables are good sources of a variety of nutrients and phytochemicals that may work synergistically to help prevent cancer (4). One challenge in studying the relationships between cruciferous vegetable intake and cancer risk in humans is separating the benefits of diets that are generally rich in vegetables from those that are specifically rich in cruciferous vegetables (5). One characteristic that sets cruciferous vegetables apart from other vegetables is their high glucosinolate content (6). Glucosinolate hydrolysis products could help prevent cancer by enhancing the elimination of carcinogens before they can damage DNA, or by altering cell-signaling pathways in ways that help prevent normal cells from being transformed into cancerous cells (7). Some glucosinolate hydrolysis products may alter the metabolism or activity of hormones like estrogen in ways that inhibit the development of hormone-sensitive cancers (8).

An extensive review of epidemiological studies published prior to 1996 reported that the majority (67%) of 87 case-control studies found an inverse association between some type of cruciferous vegetable intake and cancer risk (9). At that time, the inverse association appeared to be most consistent for cancers of the lung and digestive tract. The results of retrospective case-control studies are more likely to be distorted by bias in the selection of participants (cases and controls) and dietary recall than prospective cohort studies, which collect dietary information from participants before they are diagnosed with cancer (10). In the past decade, results of prospective cohort studies and studies taking into account individual genetic variation suggest that the relationship between cruciferous vegetable intake and the risk of several types of cancer is more complex than previously thought.

Lung Cancer

When evaluating the effect of cruciferous vegetable consumption on lung cancer risk, it is important to remember that the benefit of increasing cruciferous vegetable intake is likely to be small compared to the benefit of smoking cessation (11, 12). Although a number of case-control studies found that people diagnosed with lung cancer had significantly lower intakes of cruciferous vegetables than people in cancer-free control groups (9), the findings of more recent prospective cohort studies have been mixed. Prospective studies of Dutch men and women (13), U.S. women (14), and Finnish men (15) found that higher intakes of cruciferous vegetables (more than three weekly servings) were associated with significant reductions in lung cancer risk, but prospective studies of U.S. men (14) and European men and women (11) found no inverse association. The results of several studies suggest that genetic factors affecting the metabolism of glucosinolate hydrolysis products may influence the effects of cruciferous vegetable consumption on lung cancer risk (16-21) (see Genetic Influences below).

Colorectal Cancer

A small clinical trial found that the consumption of 250 g/day (9 oz/day) of broccoli and 250 g/day of Brussels sprouts significantly increased the urinary excretion of a potential carcinogen found in well-done meat, suggesting that high cruciferous vegetable intakes might decrease colorectal cancer risk by enhancing the elimination of some dietary carcinogens (22). Although a number of case-control studies conducted prior to 1990 found that people diagnosed with colorectal cancer were more likely to have lower intakes of various cruciferous vegetables than people without colorectal cancer (23-26), most prospective cohort studies have not found significant inverse associations between cruciferous vegetable intake and the risk of developing colorectal cancer over time (27-32). One exception was a prospective study of Dutch adults, which found that men and women with the highest intakes of cruciferous vegetables (averaging 58 g/day) were significantly less likely to develop colon cancer than those with the lowest intakes (averaging 11 g/day) (33). Surprisingly, higher intakes of cruciferous vegetables were associated with increased risk of rectal cancer in women in that study. As in lung cancer, the relationship between cruciferous vegetable consumption and colorectal cancer risk may be complicated by genetic factors. The results of several recent epidemiological studies suggest that the protective effects of cruciferous vegetable consumption may be influenced by inherited differences in the capacity of individuals to metabolize and eliminate glucosinolate hydrolysis products (34-37) (see Genetic Influences below).

Breast Cancer

The endogenous estrogen 17beta-estradiol can be irreversibly metabolized to 16alpha-hydroxyestrone (16aOHE1) or 2-hydroxyestrone (2OHE1). In contrast to 2OHE1, 16aOHE1 is highly estrogenic and has been found to enhance the proliferation of estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells in culture(38, 39). It has been hypothesized that shifting the metabolism of 17beta-estradiol toward 2OHE1, and away from 16aOHE1, could decrease the risk of estrogen-sensitive cancers like breast cancer (40). In a small clinical trial, increasing cruciferous vegetable intake of healthy postmenopausal women for four weeks increased urinary 2OHE1:16aOHE1 ratios, suggesting that high intakes of cruciferous vegetables can shift estrogen metabolism. However, the relationship between urinary 2OHE1:16aOHE1 ratios and breast cancer risk is not clear. Several small case-control studies found that women with breast cancer had lower urinary ratios of 2OHE1:16aOHE1 (41-43), but larger case-control and prospective cohort studies did not find significant associations between urinary 2OHE1:16aOHE1 ratios and breast cancer risk (44-46). The results of epidemiological studies of cruciferous vegetable intake and breast cancer risk are also inconsistent. Several case-control studies in the U.S., Sweden, and China found that measures of cruciferous vegetable intake were significantly lower in women diagnosed with breast cancer than in women in the cancer-free control groups (47-49), but cruciferous vegetable intake was not associated with breast cancer risk in a pooled analysis of seven large prospective cohort studies (50). In a prospective study in 285,526 women, total vegetable consumption was not related to risk of breast cancer; individual subcategories of vegetable type, including cabbages, root vegetables, and leafy vegetables, were not individually associated with breast cancer in this cohort (51).

Prostate Cancer

Although glucosinolate hydrolysis products have been found to inhibit growth and promote programmed death (apoptosis) of cultured prostate cancer cells(52, 53), the results of epidemiological studies of cruciferous vegetable intake and prostate cancer risk are inconsistent. Four out of eight case-controlstudies published since 1990 found that some measure of cruciferous vegetable intake was significantly lower in men diagnosed with prostate cancer than men in a cancer-free control group (54-57). Of the fiveprospective cohort studies that have examined associations between cruciferous vegetable intake and the risk of prostate cancer, none found statistically significant inverse associations overall (58-62). However, the prospective study that included the longest follow-up period and the most cases of prostate cancer found a significant inverse association between cruciferous vegetable intake and the risk of prostate cancer when the analysis was limited to men who had a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test(58). Since men who have PSA screening are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, limiting the analysis in this way is one way to reduce detection bias (63). Additionally, the most recent prospective study found that intake of cruciferous vegetables was inversely associated with metastatic prostate cancer—cancer that has spread beyond the prostate (i.e., late-stage prostate cancer) (62). Presently, epidemiological studies provide only modest support for the hypothesis that high intakes of cruciferous vegetables reduce prostate cancer risk (1).

Genetic Influences

There is increasing evidence that genetic differences in humans may influence the effects of cruciferous vegetable intake on cancer risk (64). Isothiocyanates are glucosinolate hydrolysis products, which are thought to play a role in the cancer-preventive effects associated with cruciferous vegetable consumption. Glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) are a family ofenzymes that metabolize a variety of compounds, including isothiocyanates, in a way that promotes their elimination from the body. Genetic variations (polymorphisms) that affect the activity of GST enzymes have been identified in humans. Null variants of the GSTM1 gene and GSTT1 gene contain large deletions, and individuals who inherit two copies of the GSTM1-null or GSTT1-null gene cannot produce the corresponding GST enzyme (65). Lower GST activity in such individuals could result in slower elimination and longer exposure to isothiocyanates after cruciferous vegetable consumption (66). In support of this idea, several epidemiological studies have found that inverse associations between isothiocyanate intake from cruciferous vegetables and risk of lung cancer (16-19) or colon cancer (34-36) were more pronounced inGSTM1-null and/or GSTT1-null individuals. These findings suggest that the protective effects of high intakes of cruciferous vegetables may be enhanced in individuals who more slowly eliminate potentially protective compounds like isothiocyanates. Alternatively, these same GSTs play a major role in detoxication of carcinogens and individuals with the null gene would be expected to be more susceptible to cancer; thus, the cruciferous vegetables may exhibit significant protection in this population if their protective effect is increasingly important at high carcinogen levels (67).

Nutrient Interactions

Iodine and Thyroid Function

Very high intakes of cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage and turnips, have been found to cause hypothyroidism (insufficient thyroid hormone) in animals (68). There has been one case report of an 88-year-old woman developing severe hypothyroidism and coma following consumption of an estimated 1.0 to 1.5 kg/day of raw bok choy for several months (69). Two mechanisms have been identified to explain this effect. The hydrolysis of some glucosinolates found in cruciferous vegetables (e.g., progoitrin) may yield a compound known as goitrin, which has been found to interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis. The hydrolysis of another class of glucosinolates, known as indole glucosinolates, results in the release of thiocyanate ions, which can compete with iodine for uptake by the thyroid gland. Increased exposure to thiocyanate ions from cruciferous vegetable consumption or, more commonly, from cigarette smoking, does not appear to increase the risk of hypothyroidism unless accompanied by iodine deficiency. One study in humans found that the consumption of 150 g/day (5 oz/day) of cooked Brussels sprouts for four weeks had no adverse effects on thyroid function(70).

Intake Recommendations

Although many organizations, including the National Cancer Institute, recommend eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily (serving number depends on age, sex, and activity level; see (71)), separate recommendations for cruciferous vegetables have not been established. Much remains to be learned regarding cruciferous vegetable consumption and cancer prevention, but the results of some epidemiological studies suggest that adults should aim for at least five weekly servings of cruciferous vegetables (145871).

Some Potentially Beneficial Compounds in Cruciferous (Brassica) Vegetables

Vitamins

Minerals

Phytochemicals

Folate Potassium Carotenoids
Vitamin C Selenium Chlorophyll
Fiber
Flavonoids 
Indole-3-Carbinol
Isothiocyanates
Lignans
Phytosterols

References

Written in July 2005 by:
Jane Higdon, Ph.D.
Linus Pauling Institute
Oregon State University

Updated in December 2008 by:
Victoria J. Drake, Ph.D.
Linus Pauling Institute
Oregon State University

Reviewed in December 2008 by:
David E. Williams, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator, Linus Pauling Institute
Professor, Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology
Oregon State University

Last updated 5/19/10  Copyright 2005-2014  Linus Pauling Institute

Disclaimer

The Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center provides scientific information on the health aspects of dietary factors and supplements, foods, and beverages for the general public. The information is made available with the understanding that the author and publisher are not providing medical, psychological, or nutritional counseling services on this site. The information should not be used in place of a consultation with a competent health care or nutrition professional.

The information on dietary factors and supplements, foods, and beverages contained on this Web site does not cover all possible uses, actions, precautions, side effects, and interactions. It is not intended as nutritional or medical advice for individual problems. Liability for individual actions or omissions based upon the contents of this site is expressly disclaimed.

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This information is from the web site

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/diet/cruciferous-vegetables

  1. What are cruciferous vegetables?

Cruciferous vegetables are part of the Brassica genus of plants. They include the following vegetables, among others:

o    Arugulao    Bok choyo    Broccolio    Brussels sproutso    Cabbageo    Cauliflowero    Collard greens o    Horseradisho    Kaleo    Radisheso    Rutabagao    Turnipso    Watercresso    Wasabi
  1. Why are cancer researchers studying cruciferous vegetables?

Cruciferous vegetables are rich in nutrients, including several carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin); vitamins C, E, and K; folate; and minerals. They also are a good fiber source.

In addition, cruciferous vegetables contain a group of substances known as glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing chemicals. These chemicals are responsible for the pungent aroma and bitter flavor of cruciferous vegetables.

During food preparation, chewing, and digestion, the glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables are broken down to form biologically active compounds such as indoles, nitriles, thiocyanates, and isothiocyanates (1). Indole-3-carbinol (an indole) and sulforaphane (an isothiocyanate) have been most frequently examined for their anticancer effects.

Indoles and isothiocyanates have been found to inhibit the development of cancer in several organs in rats and mice, including the bladder, breast, colon, liver, lung, and stomach (23). Studies in animals and experiments with cells grown in the laboratory have identified several potential ways in which these compounds may help prevent cancer:

o    They help protect cells from DNA damage.

o    They help inactivate carcinogens.

o    They have antiviral and antibacterial effects.

o    They have anti-inflammatory effects.

o    They induce cell death (apoptosis).

o    They inhibit tumor blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) and tumor cell migration (needed for metastasis).

Studies in humans, however, have shown mixed results, as described in Question 3.

  1. Is there evidence that cruciferous vegetables can help reduce cancer risk in people?

Researchers have investigated possible associations between intake of cruciferous vegetables and the risk of cancer. The evidence has been reviewed by various experts. Key studies regarding four common forms of cancer are described briefly below.

o    Prostate cancer: Cohort studies in the Netherlands (4), United States (5), and Europe (6) have examined a wide range of daily cruciferous vegetable intakes and found little or no association with prostate cancer risk. However, some case-control studies have found that people who ate greater amounts of cruciferous vegetables had a lower risk of prostate cancer (78).

o    Colorectal cancer: Cohort studies in the United States and the Netherlands have generally found no association between cruciferous vegetable intake and colorectal cancer risk (9-11). The exception is one study in the Netherlands—the Netherlands Cohort Study on Diet and Cancer—in which women (but not men) who had a high intake of cruciferous vegetables had a reduced risk of colon (but not rectal) cancer (12).

o    Lung cancer: Cohort studies in Europe, the Netherlands, and the United States have had varying results (13-15). Most studies have reported little association, but one U.S. analysis—using data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study—showed that women who ate more than 5 servings of cruciferous vegetables per week had a lower risk of lung cancer (16).

o    Breast cancer: One case-control study found that women who ate greater amounts of cruciferous vegetables had a lower risk of breast cancer (17). A meta-analysis of studies conducted in the United States, Canada, Sweden, and the Netherlands found no association between cruciferous vegetable intake and breast cancer risk (18). An additional cohort study of women in the United States similarly showed only a weak association with breast cancer risk (19).

A few studies have shown that the bioactive components of cruciferous vegetables can have beneficial effects on biomarkers of cancer-related processes in people. For example, one study found that indole-3-carbinol was more effective than placebo in reducing the growth of abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix (20).

In addition, several case-control studies have shown that specific forms of the gene that encodes glutathione S-transferase, which is the enzyme that metabolizes and helps eliminate isothiocyanates from the body, may influence the association between cruciferous vegetable intake and human lung and colorectal cancer risk (21-23).

  1. Are cruciferous vegetables part of a healthy diet?

The federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommend consuming a variety of vegetables each day. Different vegetables are rich in different nutrients.

Vegetables are categorized into five subgroups: dark-green, red and orange, beans and peas (legumes), starchy, and other vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables fall into the “dark-green vegetables” category and the “other vegetables” category. More information about vegetables and diet, including how much of these foods should be eaten daily or weekly, is available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture website Choose My Plate.

Higher consumption of vegetables in general may protect against some diseases, including some types of cancer. However, when researchers try to distinguish cruciferous vegetables from other foods in the diet, it can be challenging to get clear results because study participants may have trouble remembering precisely what they ate. Also, people who eat cruciferous vegetables may be more likely than people who don’t to have other healthy behaviors that reduce disease risk. It is also possible that some people, because of their genetic background, metabolize dietary isothiocyanates differently. However, research has not yet revealed a specific group of people who, because of their genetics, benefit more than other people from eating cruciferous vegetables.

Selected References
  1. Hayes JD, Kelleher MO, Eggleston IM. The cancer chemopreventive actions of phytochemicals derived from glucosinolates. European Journal of Nutrition 2008;47 Suppl 2:73-88.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Hecht SS. Inhibition of carcinogenesis by isothiocyanates. Drug Metabolism Reviews 2000;32(3-4):395-411.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Murillo G, Mehta RG. Cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention. Nutrition and Cancer2001;41(1-2):17-28.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Schuurman AG, Goldbohm RA, Dorant E, van den Brandt PA. Vegetable and fruit consumption and prostate cancer risk: a cohort study in The Netherlands. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 1998;7(8):673-680.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Giovannucci E, Rimm EB, Liu Y, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. A prospective study of cruciferous vegetables and prostate cancer. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention2003;12(12):1403-1409.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Key TJ, Allen N, Appleby P, et al. Fruits and vegetables and prostate cancer: no association among 1104 cases in a prospective study of 130544 men in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). International Journal of Cancer 2004;109(1):119-124.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Kolonel LN, Hankin JH, Whittemore AS, et al. Vegetables, fruits, legumes and prostate cancer: a multiethnic case-control study. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 2000;9(8):795-804.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Jain MG, Hislop GT, Howe GR, Ghadirian P. Plant foods, antioxidants, and prostate cancer risk: findings from case-control studies in Canada. Nutrition and Cancer 1999;34(2):173-184.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. McCullough ML, Robertson AS, Chao A, et al. A prospective study of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and colon cancer risk. Cancer Causes & Control 2003;14(10):959-970.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Flood A, Velie EM, Chaterjee N, et al. Fruit and vegetable intakes and the risk of colorectal cancer in the Breast Cancer Detection Demonstration Project follow-up cohort. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2002;75(5):936-943.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Michels KB, Edward Giovannucci, Joshipura KJ, et al. Prospective study of fruit and vegetable consumption and incidence of colon and rectal cancers. Journal of the National Cancer Institute2000;92(21):1740-1752.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Voorrips LE, Goldbohm RA, van Poppel G, et al. Vegetable and fruit consumption and risks of colon and rectal cancer in a prospective cohort study: The Netherlands Cohort Study on Diet and Cancer. American Journal of Epidemiology 2000;152(11):1081-1092.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Neuhouser ML, Patterson RE, Thornquist MD, et al. Fruits and vegetables are associated with lower lung cancer risk only in the placebo arm of the beta-carotene and retinol efficacy trial (CARET). Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 2003;12(4):350-358.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Voorrips LE, Goldbohm RA, Verhoeven DT, et al. Vegetable and fruit consumption and lung cancer risk in the Netherlands Cohort Study on diet and cancer. Cancer Causes and Control2000;11(2):101-115.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Chow WH, Schuman LM, McLaughlin JK, et al. A cohort study of tobacco use, diet, occupation, and lung cancer mortality. Cancer Causes and Control 1992;3(3):247-254.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Feskanich D, Ziegler RG, Michaud DS, et al. Prospective study of fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of lung cancer among men and women. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2000;92(22):1812-1823.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Terry P, Wolk A, Persson I, Magnusson C. Brassica vegetables and breast cancer risk. JAMA2001;285(23):2975-2977.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Smith-Warner SA, Spiegelman D, Yaun SS, et al. Intake of fruits and vegetables and risk of breast cancer: a pooled analysis of cohort studies. JAMA 2001;285(6):769-776.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Zhang S, Hunter DJ, Forman MR, et al. Dietary carotenoids and vitamins A, C, and E and risk of breast cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 1999;91(6):547-556.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Bell MC, Crowley-Nowick P, Bradlow HL, et al. Placebo-controlled trial of indole-3-carbinol in the treatment of CIN. Gynecologic Oncology 2000;78(2):123-129.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Epplein M, Wilkens LR, Tiirikainen M, et al. Urinary isothiocyanates; glutathione S-transferase M1, T1, and P1 polymorphisms; and risk of colorectal cancer: the Multiethnic Cohort Study.Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 2009;18(1):314-320.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. London SJ, Yuan JM, Chung FL, et al. Isothiocyanates, glutathione S-transferase M1 and T1 polymorphisms, and lung-cancer risk: a prospective study of men in Shanghai, China. Lancet2000;356(9231):724-729.

[PubMed Abstract]

  1. Yang G, Gao YT, Shu XO, et al. Isothiocyanate exposure, glutathione S-transferase polymorphisms, and colorectal cancer risk. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition2010;91(3):704-711.

[PubMed Abstract]

 

From the web site

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/72/6/1424.full

Bitter taste, phytonutrients, and the consumer: a review1,2,3

  1. Adam Drewnowski and 
  2. Carmen Gomez-Carneros

+Author Affiliations

1.       1From the Nutritional Sciences Program, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle.

 

Abstract

Dietary phytonutrients found in vegetables and fruit appear to lower the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Studies on the mechanisms of chemoprotection have focused on the biological activity of plant-based phenols and polyphenols, flavonoids, isoflavones, terpenes, and glucosinolates. Enhancing the phytonutrient content of plant foods through selective breeding or genetic improvement is a potent dietary option for disease prevention. However, most, if not all, of these bioactive compounds are bitter, acrid, or astringent and therefore aversive to the consumer. Some have long been viewed as plant-based toxins. As a result, the food industry routinely removes these compounds from plant foods through selective breeding and a variety of debittering processes. This poses a dilemma for the designers of functional foods because increasing the content of bitter phytonutrients for health may be wholly incompatible with consumer acceptance. Studies on phytonutrients and health ought to take sensory factors and food preferences into account.

INTRODUCTION

Diets rich in vegetables and fruit have been linked with lower rates of cancer and coronary heart disease (15). Plant-based phenols, flavonoids, isoflavones, terpenes, glucosinolates, and other compounds that are present in the everyday diet are reported to have antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties and a wide spectrum of tumor-blocking activities (1467). The search for the mechanisms of chemoprotection has focused on the biological activity of compounds found in cruciferous and green leafy vegetables, soybeans, citrus fruit, green tea, and red wine (36811). These compounds, known as phytochemicals or phytonutrients (2), hold major promise in the creation of designer foods for the dietary prevention of chronic disease (1213).

Many people do not like to eat vegetables—and the feeling is mutual. Plants protect themselves against being eaten by secreting natural pesticides and other toxins (1416). Plant-based phenols, flavonoids, isoflavones, terpenes, and glucosinolates are almost always bitter, acrid, or astringent (1721). In addition to their bactericidal or biological activity (22), these substances may provide a defense against predators by making the plant unpalatable (17). Although potentially beneficial to human health in small doses, many such compounds are, in fact, toxic (14).

Sensitized to the bitter taste of plant alkaloids and other poisons, humans reject foods that are perceived to be excessively bitter (2023). This instinctive rejection of bitter taste may be immutable because it has long been crucial to survival (24,25). The food industry routinely removes phenols and flavonoids, isoflavones, terpenes, and glucosinolates from plant foods through selective breeding and a variety of debittering processes (18202627). Many of the bioactive phytonutrients currently studied in the laboratory (22829) have long been treated by industry and consumers alike as disposable bitter waste (20).

Consumer and marketing studies invariably showed that taste, as opposed to perceived nutrition or health value, is the key influence on food selection (3031). Yet, with some exceptions (172732), studies on phytonutrients and health rarely considered the bitter taste of vegetables and other plant foods. Cancer researchers even proposed that heightened bitterness might be a positive feature, allowing consumers to select broccoli sprouts with the highest glucosinolate content (2933). This view contrasts with the food industry practice of measuring glucosinolate content merely as a way of predicting excessive bitterness of Brussels sprouts, a more pressing consumer concern (27). Whereas some scientists propose enhancing glucosinolates in broccoli sprouts for better health (29), the standard industry practice has been to remove glucosinolates from Brussels sprouts for better taste (27). When it comes to bitter phytonutrients, the demands of good taste and good health may be wholly incompatible.

Engineering plant foods with enhanced concentrations of chemopreventive phytonutrients is a promising new strategy for health promotion (1213). However, any meaningful discussion of phytonutrients and health ought to consider the bitter taste of these substances (2834). Although present in very small amounts, antioxidant phytochemicals impart a perceptible bitter taste to foods. As documented below, some of these compounds are so aversive to the consumer (303536) that they are selectively bred out of plants and routinely removed from processed foods (2026). Indeed, the low amounts of bitter plant compounds in the current diet largely reflect the achievements of the agricultural and food industries (26). The debittering of plant foods has long been a major sensory concern for food science (27).

 

BITTER TASTE AND FOOD REJECTION

Abnormal bitterness tends to be equated with dietary danger, and rightly so. Rancid fats, hydrolyzed proteins, plant-derived alkaloids, and other toxins generally have an unpleasant bitter taste (37). Microbial fermentation also results in bitter-tasting compounds (37). Bitterness has been reported in such diverse plant foods as potatoes and yams, beans and peas, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchini and other squashes, lettuce, spinach, and kale (20). Given the wide distribution of plant-based bitter toxins, past efforts to develop less bitter cultivars of common plant foods may have been driven not so much by taste as by safety concerns (20).

Detection thresholds for bitter taste are extremely low (2538). Bitter compounds, including extremely toxic bitter poisons, are detected by humans in micromolar amounts. Although no direct relation between toxicity and bitter taste thresholds was observed (24), bitter quinine was detected at 25-μmol/L concentrations and bitter toxins were detected at even lower concentrations. In contrast, detection threshold for sucrose was on the order of 10000 μmol/L (25). The bitter taste sensation was also more prolonged than were sweet, salty, or sour sensations (38).

The biology of bitter-taste perception is poorly understood. The long-term challenge has been to explain how so many structurally unrelated compounds can give rise to a uniform bitter taste. Among bitter-tasting compounds are amino acids and peptides, sulfimides (saccharin), ureas and thioureas [6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) and phenylthiocarbamide (PTC)], esters and lactones, terpenoids, and phenols and polyphenols (39). The diverse chemical structures of these compounds has long suggested the existence of multiple bitter-taste receptors. McBurney (38) proposed that ≥3 different bitter-taste receptors exist, sensitive to quinine, urea, and to PTC or PROP, a related compound. Other studies (4041) suggested a common mechanism in the perception of sweet and bitter tastes, possibly linked to G proteins, given that small changes in chemical structure can alter the taste of a given substance from bitter to very sweet.

A very recent discovery of a novel family of bitter-taste receptors placed the number of gustducin-linked bitter taste receptors in humans as high as 40–80 (4243). These candidate taste receptors (T2Rs) are organized in the genome in clusters and are genetically linked to loci that influence bitter perception in humans and mice (42). T2Rs were expressed in all taste buds of circumvallate and foliate papillae and in the palate (43). Although T2Rs were rarely expressed in fungiform papillae, those fungiform taste buds that did express T2Rs usually had a full repertoire of different receptors, suggesting that each cell may be capable of recognizing multiple bitter tastants. This is consistent with the observation that humans are capable of recognizing diverse bitter substances but not always distinguishing among them (39). A complementary study (43) showed that a human bitter-taste receptor (hT2R-4) responded only to denatonium and PROP, whereas a mouse receptor MT2R-5 responded only to bitter cycloheximide.

Genetic linkage studies in humans linked the ability to taste PROP with a locus at 5p15 (44). The ability to taste PTC and PROP, once thought to be transmitted as a dominant taster gene (45), may involve more than one locus. Genetic linkage studies suggested that PROP tasting may involve both a specific sensitivity to PROP and a more general bitter taste responsiveness (46). The early studies segregated PTC and PROP tasters from nontasters on the basis of their tasting of PTC or PROP crystals or the bimodal distribution of detection thresholds for PROP solutions (47). The wide variability of the tasters’ responses led Bartoshuk (41) to propose the existence of PROP “supertasters.” PROP supertasters, most of them women, were identified by the high ratio of perceived bitterness intensity of PROP to the perceived saltiness of sodium chloride solutions. On average, supertaster women had more fungiform papillae and a higher density of taste buds per papilla than did either medium tasters or nontasters of PROP (47).

Anthropologists have long thought that the protective value of this genetic polymorphism was to identify and reject bitter poisons (48). In sensory studies, PROP tasting was linked to a greater dislike of bitter PROP solutions (4950) and with reduced acceptance of some bitter foods (51). PROP tasters tended to dislike bitter caffeine and naringin solutions and bitter infusions of Japanese green tea (4951). PROP tasters also gave lower acceptance ratings to coffee and grapefruit juice, cruciferous vegetables, and some salad greens (49). As a general rule, heightened perception of bitterness was the principal reason for food rejection.

 

BITTER PHENOLS AND TANNINS

Phenolic compounds are responsible for the bitterness and astringency of many foods and beverages (1752). There are ≥15 different classes of dietary phenolic compounds, ranging from simple phenolic molecules to polymers of high molecular weight. Flavonoids, the most important group, can be subdivided into 13 classes; >5000 compounds were described by 1990 (17). The flavonoid group includes flavanones, flavonols, flavones, isoflavones, flavans (catechins), and anthocyanins. High-molecular-weight (>500) polyphenols are also known as plant tannins (17). Whereas lower-molecular-weight phenolic compounds tend to be bitter, higher-molecular-weight polymers are more likely to be astringent (53). Astringency, defined as a drying or puckering mouth feel detectable throughout the oral cavity, may be due to a complexing reaction between dietary polyphenols and proteins of the mouth and saliva (5354).

Some bitter tasting phenolic compounds are shown in Table 1. Phenolic compounds act as natural pesticides (76), providing plants with resistance to pathogens, parasites, and predators (1477). Amounts of phenolic compounds in plant foods and the level of bitterness are influenced by genetic factors and by environmental conditions (8). The type of cultivar, germination, degree of ripeness, and processing and storage conditions can all influence the content of plant phenolics (1778). Bitter phenolics, such as quercetin, are the most common bitter compounds in immature apples and other fruit (17). Generally, higher concentrations of phenolic compounds are found in sprouts and seedlings than in the mature plant, consistent with the notion that plant phenolics provide a degree of protection against predation (59).

View this table:

TABLE 1

Some bitter phytonutrients in common plant foods1

High-molecular-weight polyphenols or tannins have long been regarded as antinutrients because they interfere with protein absorption or reduce iron availability (17). Tannins are widely distributed in grains such as sorghum, millet and barley, peas, carobs, dry beans and legumes, fruit, tea, wine, and a variety of forage plants (8). Tannins complex with proteins, starches, and digestive enzymes and are thought to reduce the nutritional value of foods (8).

 

BITTER FLAVONOIDS IN CITRUS FRUIT

Flavonoids in citrus fruit include flavanones (naringin), flavones (nobiletin), and flavonols (quercetin). Polymethoxylated flavones (tangeretin and nobiletin) are concentrated in the skin of unripe fruit and are the constituents of bitter citrus oils (79). Bitter flavonoids may act through bactericidal activity or by making the plant unpalatable (17). Some flavonoids are very bitter whereas others are not, depending on the type of the glycoside chain. Naringin, a flavanone neohesperidoside, and neohesperidin are very bitter, whereas hesperidin is tasteless. On the other hand, neohesperidin dihydrochalcone is intensely sweet. Naringin concentrations are highest in young leaves and in the pulp (albedo) of immature fruit (59). Although typical concentrations of naringin in grapefruit juice are ≈400 mg/L , problems with early-season grapefruit juice can raise naringin concentrations to a less acceptable 1200 mg/L (80). Blending of juices means that bitterness affects even more of the crop.

Limonin, a triterpene, is responsible for the so-called delayed bitterness of citrus juices. A tasteless limonin precursor, released when fruit tissue is damaged, is gradually converted to limonin, resulting in bitterness. Bitterness due to flavonoids and limonoids poses a major problem for the citrus industry. As described below, a wide variety of patented techniques have been developed to remove or adsorb excess naringin and limonin from citrus juices (5681).

 

BITTER PHENOLIC COMPOUNDS IN TEA AND CHOCOLATE

Phenolic compounds, including catechin and epicatechin (pentahydroxylated flavans), also occur in tea (6582). A typical green tea polyphenol is epigallocatechin gallate (32). Epicatechin is generally more bitter than is catechin (66). Japanese green tea has higher concentrations of catechins and epigallocatechin than do either fermented black or semifermented oolong tea and is also the most bitter. Bitterness of tea is generally ascribed to the combination of catechins, saponin, caffeine, and amino acids (82). Depending on molecular weight, catechins can be bitter or astringent, whereas saponins are often described as acrid (32).

Recent studies suggested that the bitter taste of chocolate may also be due to catechins, present in higher amounts in bitter than in milk chocolate (83). Fermented cocoa contains epicatechin, polyphenols, and anthocyanins (84). Anthocyanins are glycoside forms of anthocyanidins, with a sugar moiety attached. Catechins in cocoa have been described variously as bitter with a sweet aftertaste or as bitter and astringent (85). Fermentation of cocoa beans leads to polymerization of catechins and to complexing with proteins. Optimal sensory response to fermented cocoa (85) was associated with limited amounts of polyphenols (maximum of 58 mg/g), tannins (31 mg/g), and epicatechin (3 mg/g). The presence of catechins in chocolate advances our understanding of its bitter taste, which was thought previously to be caused by caffeine, theobromine, and the interaction of theobromine (a methylxanthine) and diketopiperazines during roasting (20). Whereas the taste of theobromine is described as bitter and metallic, diketopiperazines are associated with the flavor of roasted malt.

 

BITTER PHENOLIC COMPOUNDS IN RED WINE

Phenolic compounds in wine range from low-molecular-weight catechins to high-molecular-weight tannins (8688). As shown in Figure 1, perceived bitterness and astringency increased as a linear function of concentration for catechin and for grape-seed tannin (89). Flavonoid monomers such as catechin and epicatechin were rated as more bitter than astringent (90). At higher molecular weights, catechin polymers became progessively more astringent. Thus, wine polyphenols with molecular weights >500, such as grape-seed tannin, were more astringent than bitter (91). As is often the case, sensory studies used 5-point category scales and were based on a limited number of respondents (90).

FIGURE 1.

Mean intensity ratings for bitterness (•) and astringency (▴) as a function of concentration. Adapted from reference 89, with permission.

A sensory study of catechins in red wine and in a model system similar in composition to a dry table wine (66) showed that epicatechin was significantly more bitter and astringent than was catechin. Ratings of bitterness and astringency were associated with perceived mouth drying and with mouth roughening, especially at higher concentrations (66).

The concentrations of catechins used were within the range found in wine. The usual amount of grape phenolics is ≈2–4 mg/g grape. However, phenols in wine are largely derived not from juice but from grape skins (30%) and seeds (70%). Skins and seeds remain in contact with fermenting grape juice from 24 to 36 h for rosé wines and from 4 to 21 d for red wines. Phenolic content of red wines can thus reach 1000–3.500 mg/L, depending on processing conditions (435486). The bitterness of phenolics is reduced by sucrose and is substantially enhanced by ethanol (5354)

 

BITTER ISOFLAVONES IN SOYBEANS

Genistin, a bitter and astringent isoflavone glucoside (92), is thought to be responsible for the objectionable taste of soy protein (7093). Isoflavones are associated with the protein fraction in soybeans (69), soy isolates, and texturized soy protein (9495). Hexane-defatted soy flours, soy concentrates, and isolates all have an undesirable bitter taste and an undesirable flavor—”beaniness” (9293,96). L-Phenylalanine and phenolic acids (syringic) in soy products have also been described as phenol-like, bitter, astringent, or sour. Enzyme or acid-based hydrolysis of soy proteins produces additional bitter soy peptides and bitter hydroxy fatty acids. Soy flours are reported to have an astringent aftertaste and a chalky mouth feel (97).

Bitter isoflavone glucosides, genistin and daidzin, are hydrolyzed during fermentation to bitter isoflavone aglycones, genistein and daidzein. Genistein and daidzein are said to be responsible for the objectionable taste of soy milk. Their concentrations increase during soaking of soybeans, the first step of soy milk manufacturing. They also impart the characteristic taste to the secondary products miso, soybean paste, and soy sauce (69). As shown in Figure 2, the objectionable aftertaste of soy milk was linked to its genistein and dadzein contents (35).

FIGURE 2.

Relation between the objectionable aftertaste (on a scale of 0–4) and the amount of dadzein (•) and genistein (▴) present in soy milk. Data from reference 35.

 

BITTER GLUCOSINOLATES IN CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES

Organosulfur compounds are another plant defense against predation. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, turnips, collards, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kohlrabi, rutabaga, Chinese cabbage, and bok choy) contain stable glucosinolates in the amounts of 0.5–1 g/g (18192772). Glucosinolates are natural pesticides, being toxic to insects (2776). The major glucosinolates in cabbage and Brussels sprouts—sinigrin, progoitrin, and glucobrassicin—are toxic to rats (27). Their goitrogenic activity and instances of kale poisoning in cattle are well described in the literature (27). Excessive glucosinolate concentrations in animal feed have been associated with signs of disease in dairy cattle (98) and with thyroid, liver, and kidney toxicity in animal models (99). Crambe meal in broiler chick diets has toxic effects and is not recommended for long-term feeding (100). As with citrus flavonoids, concentrations of bioactive compounds are generally higher in young sprouts than in mature plants (75). Three-day-old broccoli sprouts contained higher concentrations of sulforaphane than did the mature plant (33).

Brassica glucosinolates, otherwise known as mustard oil glycosides, tend to be bitter. Studies showed that these compounds are responsible for the unpleasant taste of cruciferous vegetables, raw or cooked. Because the enzyme myrosinase is inactivated by cooking, food scientists took the position that sinigrin, as opposed to its metabolites, was responsible for the bitter taste of Brussels sprouts (27). Most taste panelists (71% and 79%) rated sinigrin and gluconapin, respectively, as bitter. In contrast, glucobrassicin and progoitrin were rated as bitter by fewer panelists (21% and 9%, respectively) (27). There was a 0.90 multiple correlation between the content of the 4 glucosinolates in Brussels sprouts and the overall perceived bitter taste (1819).

The correlation between the sinigrin content of fresh Brussels sprouts and the resulting bitterness of the cooked product was 0.74 (1819). Again, taste panelists were extremely sensitive to very low concentrations of Brassicaglucosinolates. Concentrations of sinigrin that were detected by the consumers were ≈106 mg/L. Concentrations of vinyloxazolidine that were detected by 50% of the respondents were as low as 12 mg/L (27).

Recent studies showed that the sum of sinigrin and progoitrin concentrations (g/kg) in 16 Brussels sprouts cultivars was linked directly to perceived bitterness of the cooked product (36101). These data are shown in Figure 3. Higher bitterness ratings were associated, in turn, with a higher proportion of consumers who rated the product as “too bitter” and as having “poor taste” (Figure 4). Higher concentrations of sinigrin and progoitrin were associated with a sharply reduced number of consumers who remarked that the product had “good taste” (Figure 5). These data strengthen earlier reports that glucosinolate concentrations in cruciferous vegetables are the principal barrier against consumer acceptance (27).

FIGURE 3.

Mean bitterness intensity ratings (on a scale of 0–100) for 16 cultivars of Brussels sprouts as a function of combined progoitrin and sinigrin content (g/kg). Data from reference 36.

FIGURE 4.

Relation between bitterness intensity (on a scale of 0–100) and the proportion of consumers who remarked that the product was “too bitter” or had “poor taste.” Data from reference 36.

FIGURE 5.

Relation between progoitrin and sinigrin content of Brussels sprouts and the proportion of consumers who remarked that the product had “good taste.” Data from reference 36.

 

ACRID AND PUNGENT ISOTHIOCYANATES

Enzyme myrosinase (β-thioglucoside glucohydrolase), liberated when plant cells are damaged, promotes hydrolysis of glucosinolates to pungent and highly reactive isothiocyanates, hydrogen sulfate, and glucose (33). Isothiocyanates, otherwise known as mustard oils, are the key phase 2 enzyme inducers. Although inducer potency can vary by cultivar, maturation, handling, and storage, it is directly linked to the glucosinolate content of the original plant.

Volatile isothiocyanates, or mustard oils, have been described as pungent, acrid, corrosive, and lachrymatory or tear-inducing. Some are described as garlic-like or watercress-like and are said to provoke a tingling sensation (102). The aversive pungent odor of phenylethyl isothiocyanate can be detected at 6 ppb, whereas the cabbage-like smell of 2-propenyl isothiocyanate is used in repellant aerosols (27). Bitter goitrin, 5-vinyloxazolidine-2-thione, is the chief breakdown product of progoitrin (27). Taste responsiveness to 5-vinyloxazolidine-2-thione, a breakdown product of progoitrin, may be genetically mediated because it shows the same bimodal characteristics as do PTC and PROP (1819). Whatever their putative health effects, these compounds contribute little to eating pleasure.

 

BITTER AND TOXIC PHYTOCHEMICALS

Some dietary phytochemicals are bitter, toxic, and lethal. Plants in the cucurbitaceae family can be so bitter as to be inedible. Cultivated species, selected for low bitterness and low toxicity, include cucumbers, gherkins, zucchini, squash, pumpkins, and melons. Cucurbitacins, or oxygenated tetracyclic triterpenes, are toxic and their consumption has been linked to illness and death. Bitter zucchini, containing 50–600 ppm cucurbitacins, has toxic effects in humans in doses of 3 g (27). Cucumbers are often rejected by the consumer because of excessive bitterness.

Kidney, haricot and navy beans, black-eyed peas, and lima beans contain cyanogenetic glycosides. Black lima bean is most bitter and most toxic—its importation is restricted to varieties yielding <200 ppm hydrogen cyanide. (27). Bitter cyanogentic glycosides are contained in kernels of almonds, lemons, limes, apples, pears, cherries, apricots, prunes, and plums. Some of these compounds are purported to have a use in chemoprevention.

 

THE DEBITTERING OF PLANT FOODS

Bitterness in plant foods has been described as a sensory defect with a major economic effect (2036). The degree of bitterness depends on the cultivar, strain, ripening, and storage conditions. Industry efforts have focused on the formation of bitter compounds, their role during the transition from raw to ripened product, and their breakdown in food or juice. Responding to taste-driven consumer demand, the food industry generally removes phenolic compounds, flavonoids, isoflavones, terpenes, and tannins from foods destined for human consumption. Because of such efforts, the current food supply is less bitter than it might otherwise be (20).

Potential approaches to removing bitter phytochemicals include selective breeding of new and less bitter cultivars (181973103104). For example, high concentrations of sinigrin and progoitrin in Brussels sprouts are generally regarded not as a health benefit but as a major sensory defect (27). Apart from unpleasant taste, high concentrations of progoitrin can cause contact dermatitis. Food scientists have argued that progoitrin should be bred out of Brassica crops that are intended for human consumption (104).

The undesirable characteristics of glucosinolates in Brassica vegetables have long been known to the food industry. Removal of progoitrin and reduction in sinigrin was thought to reduce bitterness and increase consumer acceptance (104). In vitro assays of bitter compounds were used to detect, screen, and remove the most bitter varieties. Bitter taste had been identified as the main reason for avoidance of vegetables and was reported as being the least well tolerated forBrassica vegetables, spinach, squash, and onions (3073103). The current health-oriented push toward selective breeding of phytonutrient-rich and therefore more bitter varieties runs counter to the published studies on vegetables and consumer acceptance (3073103).

Creation of new and less bitter cultivars has also occurred with other crops. A wholesale reduction of glucosinolates in such oilseed crops as rapeseed and Crambe abyssinica was carried out successfully worldwide (105). The development of a transgenic citrus fruit, free of limonin, was also described in the literature (106).

Some scientists have argued that these modifications may have had unintended consequences. Many bitter phytochemicals are associated with resistance of the developing and mature plant to microbial, insect, or pest attack. It has been suggested (79) that plant varieties that have been selected for palatability by humans are usually more susceptible to disease, leading to increased reliance on synthetic pesticides.

Bitter compounds are also removed from processed foods. Some of the common debittering processes are summarized in Table 2. In many cases, these methods are patented and their details are guarded commercial secrets of a particular food company (56).

TABLE 2

Summary of industrial debittering processes to remove bitter phytonutrients from foods

Phytonutrient class Typical compound Food Debittering process Reference
Flavanones Naringin Grapefruit juice Adsorption to polymers 74, 107, 108
Naringenin Orange juice Passage through resins 56, 109, 110
Flavones Tangeretin Passage through enzyme matrix 111, 112
Nobiletin Passage through microbial mass 113–116
Sinensetin Accelerated ripening with ethylene 116
Triterpenes Limonin Use of cyclodextrin polymers 117, 118
Genetic engineering: transgenic citrus trees 106
Flavans Catechin, epicatechin Tea Fermentation 65, 82
Chocolate Removal of chocolate liquor 84
Catechin polymers Wine Precipitation with proteins: egg white, casein, gelatin, isinglass 53, 54
Epicatechin polymers: procyanins Adsorption to polyvinyl polypyrrolidone 53, 54
Polyphenols (tannins) Aging to precipitate tannins 87
Residual sugar 53, 54
Isoflavones Genistein and daidzein Soy products Selective breeding 27
Genistin and daidzin Use of solvents (hexane) 119, 120
Use of microorganisms 121
Adsorption to resins 121
Membrane ultrafiltration
Precipitation (cyclodextrin)
Glucosinolates Sinigrin Brassica vegetables Selective breeding 27
Progoitrin Nonbitter cultivars 36, 105
Glucobrassicin Altered growth conditions 73, 103
Isothiocyanates

TABLE 2

Summary of industrial debittering processes to remove bitter phytonutrients from foods

Beany flavor, bitter taste, and flatus factors pose a major barrier to the inclusion of more soy products in the Western diet (122). Solvents, precipitation, filters, and microorganisms have all been used to produce nonbitter and bland soy. Most debittering processes were designed to remove oxidized soy lipids and bitter peptides (121). However, isoflavones are probably removed as well. Early attempts to supplement foods with soy protein met with limited success, again because of taste factors (97). Although hydrolyzed soy proteins are added to soups to enhance flavor, their bitterness is often minimized by the addition of gelatin or maltodextrins (37).

Bitter phenolic compounds are routinely adsorbed to resins, trapped on polymers, precipitated, extracted with solvents, or converted to nonbitter compounds. Phenolic compounds and tannins are removed from wine by a variety of procedures (88). Protein “fining” of wine uses egg white, casein, gelatin, or isinglass to remove phenols and thereby lower astringency and bitterness of the wine. Wine tannins are also adsorbed with the use of polyvinyl polypyrrolidone matrixes (54). Aging of wine reduces both bitterness and astringency because phenols continue to polymerize and eventually precipitate. Young red wines sold without being aged sometimes have high residual sugar concentrations (1–3%) to reduce bitterness and astringency. Sugar has also been added to wines to reduce bitter taste (54).

Bitterness can be masked. Cyclodextrin, a common commercial product, dissolves flavonoids and masks the bitter taste of citrus juice. Because flavonoids are still present in the juice, their bioactive potential is unchanged. Other effective ways of reducing bitterness of plant foods involve cooking or the addition of fat, sugar, or salt. The time-honored techniques of sautéing, caramelizing, braising, or pickling of vegetables improve palatability by masking bitter taste of raw plant foods.

 

PHYTONUTRIENTS IN DISEASE PREVENTION

Diets high in vegetables and fruit have been associated with reduced cancer risk (5); many studies focused on the chemoprotective role of phytochemicals. Chemoprotective agents generally belong in 1 of 3 categories: those that block metabolic activation of carcinogens, those that prevent the formation of carcinogens from precursors, and those that suppress neoplasia in cells previously exposed to carcinogens (123124). Phytonutrients and their metabolites elicit a variety of biological activities, acting as antioxidants, phytoestrogens, or enzyme inducers (125). Among the most promising compounds under study are bitter phenols and polyphenols, flavonoids, isoflavones, and glucosinolates.

Phenolic acids, catechins, flavonols, and polymeric anthocyanins in wine were reported to have antioxidant activity (126127). Although the bioavailability of phenols and polyphenols is a matter for further research, only small amounts of food polyphenols estimated at ≤30 mg/d are absorbed (17). However, even such low amounts may have a potent antioxidant effect in vivo (17). Even at very dilute concentrations (10 μmol/L) in vitro, phenolic compounds had antioxidant effects (128).

Plant flavonoids may protect against LDL oxidation through a reduction of free radicals, chelation of metal ions, or protection or regeneration of α-tocopherol (9,17123). Studies of their anticarcinogenic action focused on the activation of enzymes involved in the metabolism of xenobiotics (phase 2 enzymes). Naringin, the bitter flavonoid component of grapefruit juice, or its metabolites, are reported to inhibit the activity of cytochrome P-450 (49).

Glucosinolates and isothiocyanates are also regarded as dietary protectors against cancer (7). Isothiocyanates inhibit the activation of carcinogens by cytochrome P-450 (phase 1) enzymes and promote detoxification of activator carcinogens by inducing phase 2 enzymes. Phase 2 enzymes inactivate carcinogens by neutralizing their toxic properties and speeding their elimination from the body (33). Some phase 2 enzymes function as inhibitors of cytochrome P-450 (7). The results of early studies (1819) and more recent data suggest that one of the most potent inducers is sulforaphane, or 4-methylsulfinylbutyl isothiocyanate (33), which is derived from glucoraphanin. Inducer potency has been linked to concentrations of bitter sinigrin, progoitrin, glucobrassicin, gluconapin, and glucoraphanin. As a result, several clinical studies attempted to feed patients large amounts of Brassica vegetables daily. In some cases, respondents were fed 300 g Brussels sprouts/d for 3 wk or 500 g broccoli/d for 12 d (11). Other studies used a mix of Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower in the amount of 400 g/d (11).

Epidemiologic outcomes of diets high in vegetables and fruit were summarized in a recent report (4). Research has focused on vegetables rather than fruit, with special emphasis on green leafy and Brassica vegetables, citrus fruit, soybeans, and red wine. Population-based studies (9129) showed that the risk of coronary heart disease was reduced at higher estimated intakes of flavonoids (apigenin, kaempferol, luteolin, myricetin, and quercetin). Data on diet and colon cancer (64) also show a significant decline in risk with higher consumption of vegetables, green leafy vegetables, and cabbage. There is a general consensus that a diet higher in plant foods than is the current norm is associated with improved health and reduced disease risk. However, the most potent plant products are also likely to be the most bitter and therefore the most aversive to the consumer.

 

THE DILEMMA OF THE FOOD INDUSTRY

The competing demands of taste and health pose a dilemma for the food industry. The major determinant of food selection is taste. Foods that are bitter, acrid, or astringent tend to be rejected by the consumer—and generally for the right reasons. The instinctive rejection of bitter taste may not be modifiable because it is a key mechanism for survival.

Bitter taste is the main reason for the rejection of diverse food products (2330). Bitterness of cruciferous vegetables has been linked repeatedly to their low acceptance (3048). Focus groups conducted by the National Cancer Institute before the 5-A-Day project found that dislike of certain vegetables was a major barrier to vegetable consumption (130). In other studies, bitter Brassicavegetables were thought to taste good only if sauces were added, that is, after the addition of fat, sugar, or salt (131). Excessive bitterness lowers the acceptablity of citrus juices (81). The taste of soy proteins and some soy products is generally described as objectionable (35). Bitterness of wine is reduced by aging and the removal of phenols and polyphenols (5354). The food industry has engaged in these practices for years in response to consumer demand.

Not all bitterness is rejected automatically (132). In selected foods and beverages, a certain degree of bitterness is expected. In coffee, beer, and wine, bitterness is paired with a desirable attribute: caffeine or alcohol (132134). Although liking for some degree of bitterness can be acquired in adult life, excessive bitter taste in citrus juices, coffee, or beer is usually objectionable. The threshold for what is or is not acceptable may vary from one person to another because individual taste response to bitter varies enormously. Inherited taste factors, compounded by sex and age, add an extra layer of complexity to the acceptance of bitter plant foods by the consumer. Food scientists acknowledge that it is difficult to blend concentrations so that bitterness levels are optimal for everyone (20).

Consumer food choices are driven primarily by the demands of taste, cost, and convenience (31). Recent suggestions (33) that people ought to select broccoli by inducer potency and then eat it raw run counter to consumer research. Suggestions that “cooking should be performed, if at all, by steaming, microwaving, stir frying or rapid boiling” (33) run counter to the basic principles of gastronomy. Standard methods of cooking vegetables, developed over hundreds of years (135), that make liberal use of fat, sugar, and salt (135) are unlikely to be abandoned. However, the recent identification of human bitter-taste receptors (4243) is bound to have an industry-wide effect given that the debittering of foods remains a very common problem.

 

PHYTONUTRIENTS AND FUNCTIONAL FOODS

Genetic modification of foods to optimize health represents one of the newest frontiers in nutrition science. So-called functional foods can be tailored to contain increased concentrations of phytonutrients with chemopreventive characteristics. Although the definition of functional foods is still evolving, functional ingredients are commonly defined as safe dietary substances that beneficially affect specific targets in the body beyond providing adequate nutrition (136). A related definition of foods for specific health use, adopted by the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare, refers to “processed foods containing ingredients that aid specific bodily function in addition of nutrition” (137). Much research and media interest has focused on phytonutrients found in soy products,Brassica vegetables, citrus fruit, cranberries, green tea, grapes, and wine. Processed foods that incorporate new functional ingredients or enhance the concentrations of existing ones are being developed.

Food and nutrition scientists regard phytonutrients as the third functional component of food, after nutrients and taste components (137). Although the primary function of food is to provide nutrients, its secondary function concerns sensory attributes such as taste and flavor. The tertiary function, said to be independent of the previous 2, is to prevent disease at the molecular level (137). However, it now appears that the secondary and tertiary functions are linked, if not at odds with each other. For the most part, plant-based phytochemicals are bitter and therefore aversive to the consumer. The discovery of a family of ≥50 different bitter-taste receptors only confirms how important sensitivity to bitter taste was to evolution and survival. Research on plant-based functional foods presents several challenging opportunities for cancer biology and nutrition science. However, issues of taste and behavioral nutrition ought to be considered as well.

 

Footnotes

  • 2 Supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (1 RO1 CA 61680).
  • 3 Reprints not available. Address correspondence to A Drewnowski, 305 Raitt Hall, Box 353410, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195. E mail:adamdrew@u.washington.edu.
  • Received April 12, 2000.
  • Accepted July 21, 2000.

 

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Found on the web at http://www.alive.com/articles/view/16701/brassica_family

Brassica Family

The brassica family of vegetables, which includes broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower and brussels sprouts, is one of your most powerful weapons in warding off many common diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension.

All fruits and vegetables are valuable sources of nutrients that fight disease. They are naturally low in fat, cholesterol, calories and sodium; but rich in potassium, fibre, folic acid, beta-carotene and vitamins C and K. In fact, it is estimated that cancer rates would drop 20 per cent if Canadians ate five to 10 servings of vegetables and fruit each day. And it is the brassica family that contains the highest level of disease-fighting substances per serving. 

Phytochemicals In Food

In addition to being loaded with vitamins and minerals, the brassicas contain high levels of phytochemicals, or non-nutritive substances in plants, that possess protective health benefits.

Some of these phytochemicals protect our arteries. Others act as powerful antioxidants to reduce the activity of cell-damaging free radicals and protect against cancer or diabetes. Brassica vegetable components, such as indoles, isothiocyanates and dithiolthiones block various hormone actions and metabolic pathways that are associated with the development of cancer. Other substances, such as indole-3-carbinol, also in the brassicas, are powerful inducers of enzymes known to prevent estrogen action and thereby reduce the risk of breast or uterine cancer.

The most powerful phytochemical is sulforaphane, found in broccoli. Broccoli contains different substances that break down into sulforaphane when it is cut, chopped and/or chewed. Bacteria in your intestines can also act on broccoli to produce sulforaphane. This phytochemical is so interesting that scientists are looking into it as a potential treatment for cancer.

According to a recent study of 48,000 male health-care professionals, men with the highest intake of broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and other brassica vegetables were found to have half the risk of bladder cancer of those who consumed one serving or less per week.

The flavonoids in vegetables extend the activity of vitamin C. They also act as antioxidants and protect the low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol–or bad cholesterol–from oxidation. Flavonoids prevent platelet aggregation and have anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor action. All these help to prevent both heart disease and cancer. Kale and broccoli are rich sources of one of these flavonoids: quercetin.

Research at the US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University has quantified the antioxidant value of certain foods. Phytochemicals with a high antioxidant potential are said to boost the antioxidant power of human blood substantially. The carotenoids and flavonoids that give fruits and vegetables their colors are also protective against heart disease and cancer. The brassica vegetables are particularly high in such pigments.

Health With Brassicas

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people who ate at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day had a 30 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke. Each daily serving reduced the risk by six per cent. The most protective choices included the brassica vegetables. The protective elements noted in these foods were folic acid, potassium, vitamin C and the flavonoid pigments mentioned above.

Given the large amount of calcium-containing plant foods on the market these days, milk is no longer the golden standard for calcium. Dark green leafy vegetables are high in calcium and iron. The bioavailability of calcium is actually higher in kale and other dark green leafy vegetables (like broccoli) than in milk. The trick is, you have to eat a large variety of calcium-containing plant foods to ensure you are getting enough, especially if you don’t consume dairy products.

The bioavailability of iron in brassica vegetables is improved by consuming vitamin C with them. This is not difficult considering almost all fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamin C. A small dash of lemon juice over lightly steamed kale is a favorite with our family.

In addition to calcium, the vitamin K found in leafy greens can also improve your bones. In a recent study of 72,000 middle-aged nurses, those who consumed moderate or high amounts of vitamin K had a 30 percent lower risk of hip fractures than those who did not.

Only plant foods contain fibre and the brassica vegetables are excellent sources–with brussels sprouts leading the pack at over four grams per serving. North Americans rarely consume even half of the 25-35 grams of fibre recommended per day. Insoluble fibre helps to prevent constipation and reduce colorectal cancer risk. Soluble fibre helps to reduce blood cholesterol and blood sugar, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Most phytochemical compounds found in the brassicas are heat stable and not lost by cooking. In some instances, their bioavailability may even increase during cooking. Cooking or processing breaks down certain chemical bonds in the vegetables and releases some phyto- chemicals, such as the indoles in broccoli. However, water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C are significantly lost with extended cooking.

If you must cook your vegetables, I recommend lightly steaming them in a small amount of water. Since many of the brassicas can cause gas, steaming increases their tolerance in some people. Save the cooking water for use in a soup, sauce or other recipe. Certainly, eating cooked vegetables is better than not eating them at all. For children, cut-up broccoli stalks and florets with a herbed, quark flax oil dip are a great after-school snack.

 

****************

15796588

PLUS, a web page I found on the benefits of polyacetylenes acquired by eating parsnips, celery root, parsley and other similar plants. In short polyacetylenes have been tested and found to be specific for a certain type of leukemia.

 

J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Apr 6;53(7):2518-23.

Polyacetylenes from the Apiaceae vegetables carrot, celery, fennel, parsley, and parsnip and their cytotoxic activities.

Zidorn CJöhrer KGanzera MSchubert BSigmund EMMader JGreil REllmerer EPStuppner H.

Author information

Abstract

A dichloromethane extract of root celery yielded falcarinol, falcarindiol, panaxydiol, and the new polyacetylene 8-O-methylfalcarindiol. The structure of the new compound was established by one- and two-dimensional (1D and 2D) NMR, mass spectrometry, and optical rotation data. Nonpolar extracts of roots and bulbs of carrots, celery, fennel, parsley, and parsnip were investigated for their content of polyacetylenes by high-performance liquid chromatography with diode array detection (HPLC-DAD). All five species contained polyacetylenes, although carrots and fennel only in minor amounts. Additionally, the cytotoxicity of the four polyacetylenes against five different cell lines was evaluated by the annexin V-PI assay. Falcarinol proved to be the most active compound with a pronounced toxicity against acute lymphoblastic leukemia cell line CEM-C7H2, with an IC(50) of 3.5 micromol/L. The possible chemopreventive impact of the presented findings is discussed briefly.

PMID:

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15796588

 

[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

This good information is found at

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=122&tname=foodspice

What’s New and Beneficial about Shiitake Mushrooms

  • Although immune system support has often received much of the spotlight in shiitake mushroom research, recent study results involving support of the cardiovascular system have caught the attention of many researchers. In particular, recent studies have shown the ability of shiitake mushrooms to help protect us against cardiovascular diseases (including atherosclerosis) by preventing too much immune cell binding to the lining of our blood vessels. In order for immune cells and other materials to bind onto our blood vessel linings, certain protein molecules—called adhesion molecules—must be produced and sent into action. By helping to block the adhesion molecule production process, substances in shiitake mushrooms can help protect our blood vessels. (The adhesion molecule production that is partially blocked by shiitake mushroom components includes the adhesion molecules ICAM-1, VCAM-1, and E-selectin.)
  • Shiitake mushrooms have long been recognized as a very good, non-animal food source of iron. But a recent preliminary study has determined that the bioavailability of iron from shiitake mushrooms may be even better than we thought. Although conducted on laboratory animals (female rats) rather than humans, this study found the iron in dried shiitake mushroom to be equally as bioavailable as supplemental iron in the form of ferrous gluconate. (Ferrous gluconate is a very commonly used low-dose iron supplement.) While we don’t usually spotlight research on laboratory animals, we found this result to be especially promising for individuals who consume little or no animal products and are often looking for foods that can supply valuable amounts of bioavailable iron.
  • Shiitake mushrooms can be one of the most sustainable foods in your diet! While the majority of shiitake mushrooms produced worldwide have been grown on sawdust block in a non-natural setting, it is fully possible for shiitake mushrooms to be produced on natural hardwood logs in a forest setting. This approach to shiitake mushroom production is called “forest farming” and it has become an especially popular way of growing shiitake mushrooms in the U.S, where there are now more than 200 shiitake mushroom growers. Unfortunately, forest farming is not a requirement for organic certification of shiitake mushrooms. However, all of the plant crop standards in the National Organics Program regulations apply to shiitake mushroom production, and so the combination of these two features—certified organic shiitake mushrooms that have also been forest farmed—can make a great food choice in terms of sustainable agriculture. Just look for the USDA’s organic logo on your shiitake mushrooms to determine if they are certified organic. Then check for information about forest farming on the packaging. If no information is provided, there is a good chance that your shiitake mushrooms were not forest farmed. For this reason, we encourage you to ask your store staff or contact the product manufacturer to determine if your shiitake mushrooms were grown on hardwood logs in a natural forest environment.

WHFoods Recommendations

People do not usually consider including mushrooms as part of their meals for their nutritional content. However, shiitake mushrooms are rich in B vitamins—they are an excellent of pantothenic acid, a very good source of vitamin B2, and a good source of vitamin B6, niacin, choline, and folate. Additionally, they are concentrated in minerals, being an excellent source of selenium and copper, a very good source of zinc, and a good source of manganese. They are also a good source of vitamin D (in the D2 form) and dietary fiber. They also provide a wide variety of unique phytonutrients. To maximize their flavor and the retention of their nutrients it is important to not to overcook them. That’s why we recommend Healthy Sauteeing shiitake mushrooms for just 7 minutes to bring out their best flavor while maximizing their nutrient retention. For more on our Healthiest Way of Cooking shiitake mushrooms see the How to Enjoy section below.

Mushrooms, Shiitake, cooked
0.50 cup
(72.50 grams)

Calories: 41
GI: 
not available


What’s New and Beneficial about Shiitake Mushrooms

  • Although immune system support has often received much of the spotlight in shiitake mushroom research, recent study results involving support of the cardiovascular system have caught the attention of many researchers. In particular, recent studies have shown the ability of shiitake mushrooms to help protect us against cardiovascular diseases (including atherosclerosis) by preventing too much immune cell binding to the lining of our blood vessels. In order for immune cells and other materials to bind onto our blood vessel linings, certain protein molecules—called adhesion molecules—must be produced and sent into action. By helping to block the adhesion molecule production process, substances in shiitake mushrooms can help protect our blood vessels. (The adhesion molecule production that is partially blocked by shiitake mushroom components includes the adhesion molecules ICAM-1, VCAM-1, and E-selectin.)
  • Shiitake mushrooms have long been recognized as a very good, non-animal food source of iron. But a recent preliminary study has determined that the bioavailability of iron from shiitake mushrooms may be even better than we thought. Although conducted on laboratory animals (female rats) rather than humans, this study found the iron in dried shiitake mushroom to be equally as bioavailable as supplemental iron in the form of ferrous gluconate. (Ferrous gluconate is a very commonly used low-dose iron supplement.) While we don’t usually spotlight research on laboratory animals, we found this result to be especially promising for individuals who consume little or no animal products and are often looking for foods that can supply valuable amounts of bioavailable iron.
  • Shiitake mushrooms can be one of the most sustainable foods in your diet! While the majority of shiitake mushrooms produced worldwide have been grown on sawdust block in a non-natural setting, it is fully possible for shiitake mushrooms to be produced on natural hardwood logs in a forest setting. This approach to shiitake mushroom production is called “forest farming” and it has become an especially popular way of growing shiitake mushrooms in the U.S, where there are now more than 200 shiitake mushroom growers. Unfortunately, forest farming is not a requirement for organic certification of shiitake mushrooms. However, all of the plant crop standards in the National Organics Program regulations apply to shiitake mushroom production, and so the combination of these two features—certified organic shiitake mushrooms that have also been forest farmed—can make a great food choice in terms of sustainable agriculture. Just look for the USDA’s organic logo on your shiitake mushrooms to determine if they are certified organic. Then check for information about forest farming on the packaging. If no information is provided, there is a good chance that your shiitake mushrooms were not forest farmed. For this reason, we encourage you to ask your store staff or contact the product manufacturer to determine if your shiitake mushrooms were grown on hardwood logs in a natural forest environment.

WHFoods Recommendations

People do not usually consider including mushrooms as part of their meals for their nutritional content. However, shiitake mushrooms are rich in B vitamins—they are an excellent of pantothenic acid, a very good source of vitamin B2, and a good source of vitamin B6, niacin, choline, and folate. Additionally, they are concentrated in minerals, being an excellent source of selenium and copper, a very good source of zinc, and a good source of manganese. They are also a good source of vitamin D (in the D2 form) and dietary fiber. They also provide a wide variety of unique phytonutrients. To maximize their flavor and the retention of their nutrients it is important to not to overcook them. That’s why we recommend Healthy Sauteeing shiitake mushrooms for just 7 minutes to bring out their best flavor while maximizing their nutrient retention. For more on our Healthiest Way of Cooking shiitake mushrooms see the How to Enjoy section below.

 

Mushrooms, Shiitake, cooked
0.50 cup
(72.50 grams)

Calories: 41
GI: 
not available

 

 

NutrientDRI/DV

 

 

 copper72.2%

 pantothenic acid52.2%

 selenium32.6%

 

 

 vitamin B29.2%

 

 

 zinc8.7%

 

 

 manganese7.5%

 

 

 vitamin B67%

 

 

 vitamin B36.8%

 

 

 choline6.2%

 

 

 fiber6%

 

 

 vitamin D5%

 

 

 folate3.8%

 

 


This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Mushrooms, shiitake provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Mushrooms, shiitake can be found in the 
Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Mushrooms, shiitake, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

Health Benefits

Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms are widely referred to as “medicinal mushrooms” due to their long history of medical use, particularly in oriental medicine traditions. It’s important to distinguish, however, between extracts and medicinal preparations made from these mushrooms and their appearance as whole foods in an everyday diet. Most of the medicinal research on shiitake mushrooms has been conducted on laboratory animals or on individual cells studied in a laboratory setting. There are hundreds of lab and animal studies that clearly document the medicinal properties of shiitake mushroom extracts. As important as these studies are in a medical context, they are still very different from studies that examine shiitake mushroom as a common and beloved food.

In contrast to the wealth of medicinal research on shiitake mushrooms, there are very few studies on shiitake mushrooms in the human diet. Among the human dietary studies that do exist, however, there is a clear message about shiitake mushrooms: they can provide us with some fantastic health benefits. Below are areas of health support that make the top of our list for shiitake mushrooms when enjoyed as a whole food.

Immune Support

No health benefit is better documented for shiitake mushroom than immune support. In fact, the immune support track record for this mushroom is fascinating. On the one hand, numerous studies have shown the ability of whole shiitake mushrooms to help prevent excessive immune system activity. On the other hand, an equal number of studies have shown the ability of shiitake mushrooms to help stimulate immune system responses under certain circumstances. In other words, from a dietary perspective, shiitake mushrooms appear able to enhance immune function in both directions, giving it a boost when needed, and cutting back on its activity when needed. It’s important to note that dietary shiitake mushroom intake—unlike intake of medicinal shiitake extracts—has not been shown to be strongly suppressive of the immune system or strongly activating. From our perspective, this finding makes sense. We wouldn’t want our everyday foods to strongly suppress or strongly activate any body system. What we would want from our foods is support of body systems under a variety of circumstances—and that is exactly what we get from shiitake mushrooms with respect to our immune system.

One especially interesting area of immune system support involves the impact of shiitake mushrooms on immune cells called macrophages. Among their many important activities, macrophage cells are responsible for identifying and clearing potentially cancerous cells from the body. In order to carry out this task, they need to be “activated” in a particular way. (In more scientific terms, their activated phenotype needs to reflect a higher level of interleukin 1-beta and tumor necrosis factor alpha, and a lower level of interleukin 10.) Shiitake mushrooms are able to help macrophage cells achieve this activated profile so that they can do a better job clearing potentially cancerous cells. Researchers refer to this result as an “anti-cancer immunity” that is enhanced by shiitake mushroom intake.

The most famous immune-supportive components in shiitake mushrooms are its polysaccharides. (Polysaccharides are large-sized carbohydrate molecules composed of many different sugars arranged in chains and branches.) Although many fungi are well-known for their polysaccharides, no single fungus has been more carefully studied than the shiitake mushroom. We know that this fungus is unique in its variety of polysaccharides, and especially its polysaccharide glucans. (Glucans are polysaccharides in which all of the sugar components involve the simple sugar glucose.) Among the glucans contained in shiitake mushroom are alpha-1,6 glucan, alpha-1,4 glucan, beta-1,3 glucan, beta-1,6 glucan, 1,4-D-glucans, 1,6-D-glucans, glucan phosphate, laminarin, and lentinan. Shiitake mushrooms also contain some important non-glucan polysaccharides, including fucoidans and galactomannins. The immune-related effects of polysaccharides in shiitake mushrooms have been studied on laboratory animals under a wide variety of circumstances, including exercise stress, exposure to inflammation-producing toxins, radiation exposure, and immunodeficiency. Under all of these circumstances, the polysaccharides in shiitake mushrooms have been shown to lessen problems. There is also some evidence that shiitake mushrooms’ polysaccharides can help lower total cholesterol levels.

Cardiovascular Benefits

The cardiovascular benefits of shiitake mushrooms have been documented in three basic areas of research. The first of these areas is cholesterol reduction. d-Eritadenine (also called lentinacin, or lentsine, and sometimes abbreviated as DEA) is one of the most unusual naturally occurring nutrients in shiitake mushrooms that has repeatedly been shown to help lower total blood cholesterol. This nutrient is actually derived from adenine—one of the building blocks (nucleotides) in the mushroom’s genetic material (DNA). The beta-glucans in shiitake mushrooms are also very likely to contribute to its cholesterol-lowering impact.

Another basic area of cardiovascular support involves the interaction between our cardiovascular system and our immune system. Recent studies have shown that shiitake mushrooms can help protect us against cardiovascular diseases (including atherosclerosis) by preventing too much immune cell binding to the lining of our blood vessels. In order for immune cells and other materials to bind onto our blood vessel linings, certain protein molecules—called adhesion molecules—must be produced and sent into action. By helping to block the adhesion molecule production process, substances in shiitake mushrooms can help protect our blood vessels. (The adhesion molecule production which is partially blocked by shiitake mushroom components includes the adhesion molecules ICAM-1, VCAM-1, and E-selectin.)

A final basic area of cardiovascular benefits involves antioxidant support. Chronic oxidative stress in our cardiovascular system (ongoing, oxygen-based damage to our blood vessel linings) is a critical factor in the development of clogged arteries (atherosclerosis) and other blood vessel problems. One of the best ways for us to reduce our risk of chronic oxidative stress is consumption of a diet rich in antioxidant nutrients. Shiitake mushrooms are a very good source of three key antioxidant minerals: manganese, selenium, and zinc. They also contain some unusual phytonutrient antioxidants. One of the best studied is ergothioneine (ET). This unique antioxidant is derived from the amino acid histidine, although it’s unusual since it contains a sulfur group of molecules that are not present in histidine itself. In studies on ET and our cells’ oxidative stress levels, one fascinating finding has been the special benefits of ET for cell components called mitochondria. Mitochondria use oxygen to produce energy for the cell. Heart cells have greater concentrations of mitochondria than most any other cell type in the body. For this reason, researchers believe that ET may be one of the key nutrients from shiitake mushrooms that provide us with cardiovascular support.

Anti-Cancer Benefits

Most of the research on shiitake mushrooms and cancer has been conducted on laboratory animals or on individual cells in a laboratory setting and has involved mushroom extracts rather than whole mushrooms in food form. For this reason, our understanding of the anti-cancer benefits of shiitake mushrooms as a whole, natural food is still preliminary. But based on research to date, we believe that adding shiitake mushrooms to your diet is likely to offer you anti-cancer benefits, especially with respect to prevention of prostate cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer.

Medicinal extracts from shiitake mushrooms have been studied much more extensively than the whole food itself. In cell and laboratory animal experiments, numerous components of shiitake mushrooms have been show to help block tumor growth, sometimes by triggering programmed cell death (apoptosis) in the cancer cells. These components have been collectively referred to as “anti-tumor mycochemicals” provided by shiitake mushrooms. Researchers have speculated that more than 100 different types of compounds in shiitake mushrooms may work together to accomplish these anti-tumor results. While the unique polysaccharides in shiitake mushrooms were first thought to be its primary anti-cancer compounds, scientists are now convinced that shiitake provides many non-polysaccharide substances that have anti-tumor effects.

Other Benefits

The special combination of antioxidants found in shiitake mushrooms together with their highly flexible support for immune system function make them a natural candidate for providing us with protection from a variety of problems involving oxidative stress and immune function. This includes rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an area that has begun to interest shiitake mushroom researchers. Although research in this area is preliminary, we expect to see large-scale human studies confirming the benefits of shiitake mushrooms for prevention of RA.

Medicinal extracts from shiitake mushrooms have well-documented effects on a variety of micro-organisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses (including human immunodeficiency virus-1, or HIV-1). While we have yet to see large-scale human studies on whole food intake of shiitake mushrooms and decreased susceptibility to colds, flu or other problems related to unwanted activity of micro-organisms, this is a very likely area for future food research and discovery of health benefits.
This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Mushrooms, shiitake provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Mushrooms, shiitake can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Mushrooms, shiitake, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

Health Benefits

Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms are widely referred to as “medicinal mushrooms” due to their long history of medical use, particularly in oriental medicine traditions. It’s important to distinguish, however, between extracts and medicinal preparations made from these mushrooms and their appearance as whole foods in an everyday diet. Most of the medicinal research on shiitake mushrooms has been conducted on laboratory animals or on individual cells studied in a laboratory setting. There are hundreds of lab and animal studies that clearly document the medicinal properties of shiitake mushroom extracts. As important as these studies are in a medical context, they are still very different from studies that examine shiitake mushroom as a common and beloved food.

In contrast to the wealth of medicinal research on shiitake mushrooms, there are very few studies on shiitake mushrooms in the human diet. Among the human dietary studies that do exist, however, there is a clear message about shiitake mushrooms: they can provide us with some fantastic health benefits. Below are areas of health support that make the top of our list for shiitake mushrooms when enjoyed as a whole food.

Immune Support

No health benefit is better documented for shiitake mushroom than immune support. In fact, the immune support track record for this mushroom is fascinating. On the one hand, numerous studies have shown the ability of whole shiitake mushrooms to help prevent excessive immune system activity. On the other hand, an equal number of studies have shown the ability of shiitake mushrooms to help stimulate immune system responses under certain circumstances. In other words, from a dietary perspective, shiitake mushrooms appear able to enhance immune function in both directions, giving it a boost when needed, and cutting back on its activity when needed. It’s important to note that dietary shiitake mushroom intake—unlike intake of medicinal shiitake extracts—has not been shown to be strongly suppressive of the immune system or strongly activating. From our perspective, this finding makes sense. We wouldn’t want our everyday foods to strongly suppress or strongly activate any body system. What we would want from our foods is support of body systems under a variety of circumstances—and that is exactly what we get from shiitake mushrooms with respect to our immune system.

One especially interesting area of immune system support involves the impact of shiitake mushrooms on immune cells called macrophages. Among their many important activities, macrophage cells are responsible for identifying and clearing potentially cancerous cells from the body. In order to carry out this task, they need to be “activated” in a particular way. (In more scientific terms, their activated phenotype needs to reflect a higher level of interleukin 1-beta and tumor necrosis factor alpha, and a lower level of interleukin 10.) Shiitake mushrooms are able to help macrophage cells achieve this activated profile so that they can do a better job clearing potentially cancerous cells. Researchers refer to this result as an “anti-cancer immunity” that is enhanced by shiitake mushroom intake.

The most famous immune-supportive components in shiitake mushrooms are its polysaccharides. (Polysaccharides are large-sized carbohydrate molecules composed of many different sugars arranged in chains and branches.) Although many fungi are well-known for their polysaccharides, no single fungus has been more carefully studied than the shiitake mushroom. We know that this fungus is unique in its variety of polysaccharides, and especially its polysaccharide glucans. (Glucans are polysaccharides in which all of the sugar components involve the simple sugar glucose.) Among the glucans contained in shiitake mushroom are alpha-1,6 glucan, alpha-1,4 glucan, beta-1,3 glucan, beta-1,6 glucan, 1,4-D-glucans, 1,6-D-glucans, glucan phosphate, laminarin, and lentinan. Shiitake mushrooms also contain some important non-glucan polysaccharides, including fucoidans and galactomannins. The immune-related effects of polysaccharides in shiitake mushrooms have been studied on laboratory animals under a wide variety of circumstances, including exercise stress, exposure to inflammation-producing toxins, radiation exposure, and immunodeficiency. Under all of these circumstances, the polysaccharides in shiitake mushrooms have been shown to lessen problems. There is also some evidence that shiitake mushrooms’ polysaccharides can help lower total cholesterol levels.

Cardiovascular Benefits

The cardiovascular benefits of shiitake mushrooms have been documented in three basic areas of research. The first of these areas is cholesterol reduction. d-Eritadenine (also called lentinacin, or lentsine, and sometimes abbreviated as DEA) is one of the most unusual naturally occurring nutrients in shiitake mushrooms that has repeatedly been shown to help lower total blood cholesterol. This nutrient is actually derived from adenine—one of the building blocks (nucleotides) in the mushroom’s genetic material (DNA). The beta-glucans in shiitake mushrooms are also very likely to contribute to its cholesterol-lowering impact.

Another basic area of cardiovascular support involves the interaction between our cardiovascular system and our immune system. Recent studies have shown that shiitake mushrooms can help protect us against cardiovascular diseases (including atherosclerosis) by preventing too much immune cell binding to the lining of our blood vessels. In order for immune cells and other materials to bind onto our blood vessel linings, certain protein molecules—called adhesion molecules—must be produced and sent into action. By helping to block the adhesion molecule production process, substances in shiitake mushrooms can help protect our blood vessels. (The adhesion molecule production which is partially blocked by shiitake mushroom components includes the adhesion molecules ICAM-1, VCAM-1, and E-selectin.)

A final basic area of cardiovascular benefits involves antioxidant support. Chronic oxidative stress in our cardiovascular system (ongoing, oxygen-based damage to our blood vessel linings) is a critical factor in the development of clogged arteries (atherosclerosis) and other blood vessel problems. One of the best ways for us to reduce our risk of chronic oxidative stress is consumption of a diet rich in antioxidant nutrients. Shiitake mushrooms are a very good source of three key antioxidant minerals: manganese, selenium, and zinc. They also contain some unusual phytonutrient antioxidants. One of the best studied is ergothioneine (ET). This unique antioxidant is derived from the amino acid histidine, although it’s unusual since it contains a sulfur group of molecules that are not present in histidine itself. In studies on ET and our cells’ oxidative stress levels, one fascinating finding has been the special benefits of ET for cell components called mitochondria. Mitochondria use oxygen to produce energy for the cell. Heart cells have greater concentrations of mitochondria than most any other cell type in the body. For this reason, researchers believe that ET may be one of the key nutrients from shiitake mushrooms that provide us with cardiovascular support.

Anti-Cancer Benefits

Most of the research on shiitake mushrooms and cancer has been conducted on laboratory animals or on individual cells in a laboratory setting and has involved mushroom extracts rather than whole mushrooms in food form. For this reason, our understanding of the anti-cancer benefits of shiitake mushrooms as a whole, natural food is still preliminary. But based on research to date, we believe that adding shiitake mushrooms to your diet is likely to offer you anti-cancer benefits, especially with respect to prevention of prostate cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer.

Medicinal extracts from shiitake mushrooms have been studied much more extensively than the whole food itself. In cell and laboratory animal experiments, numerous components of shiitake mushrooms have been show to help block tumor growth, sometimes by triggering programmed cell death (apoptosis) in the cancer cells. These components have been collectively referred to as “anti-tumor mycochemicals” provided by shiitake mushrooms. Researchers have speculated that more than 100 different types of compounds in shiitake mushrooms may work together to accomplish these anti-tumor results. While the unique polysaccharides in shiitake mushrooms were first thought to be its primary anti-cancer compounds, scientists are now convinced that shiitake provides many non-polysaccharide substances that have anti-tumor effects.

Other Benefits

The special combination of antioxidants found in shiitake mushrooms together with their highly flexible support for immune system function make them a natural candidate for providing us with protection from a variety of problems involving oxidative stress and immune function. This includes rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an area that has begun to interest shiitake mushroom researchers. Although research in this area is preliminary, we expect to see large-scale human studies confirming the benefits of shiitake mushrooms for prevention of RA.

Medicinal extracts from shiitake mushrooms have well-documented effects on a variety of micro-organisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses (including human immunodeficiency virus-1, or HIV-1). While we have yet to see large-scale human studies on whole food intake of shiitake mushrooms and decreased susceptibility to colds, flu or other problems related to unwanted activity of micro-organisms, this is a very likely area for future food research and discovery of health benefits.

This information on Turmeric and Curcuminoids was found at http://www.naturalnews.com/043054_curcumin_antioxidant_cancer_treatment.html

(NaturalNews) The orange Asian herb turmeric has been traditionally used for centuries by Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Curcumin is the most powerful active anti-inflammatory compound within turmeric. Curcumin has been shown to be a powerful suppressor of chronic inflammation-mediated disease processes.

Many Asian cultures use turmeric in nearly every meal. They rave of its anti-aging and medicinal benefits. Western medicine has just begun to research its components at a very deep level to better understand turmeric’s remarkable health properties. Over 240 studies have appeared in the mainstream literature demonstrating curcumin’s cancer-preventive effects.

Curcumin and blood sugar stability:

Curcuminoid polyphenols are the primary antioxidant in turmeric root. Curcumin is the principle curcuminoid, and it is responsible for the majority of health benefits attributed to turmeric. The other curcuminoids include desmethoxycurcumin and bis-desmethoxycurcumin.

Blood sugar imbalances and insulin resistance are huge factors that promote inflammatory conditions in the body. Elevated blood sugar creates hazardous glucose cross-links with proteins, causing Advanced Glycolytic Enzymes (AGEs) to form. These AGEs damage cell membranes, vital enzyme systems and perpetuate inflammatory conditions throughout the body.

Curcumin modulates blood sugar and improves insulin receptor function by improving its binding capacity to sugar. Curcumin activates PPAR (peroxisome proliferator-activator receptor), which is a group of key nuclear proteins that regulate gene expression and modulate sugar uptake and utilization in the bloodstream.

Curcumin also reduces the activity of specific liver enzymes that release sugar into the bloodstream while activating enzymes that store sugar as glycogen. Research on diabetic rats resulted in blood glucose stabilization and lowered triglyceride levels in the group that consumed curcumin.

Curcumin as an antioxidant:

Turmeric is the fourth most antioxidant-rich herb with an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of 159,277. The curcuminoids boost levels of the body’s most potent antioxidants including glutathione, superoxide dismutase and catalase. These molecules are critical for the body to limit oxidative stress-related damage to the vital organ systems.

Curcumin has been shown to reduce inflammation-mediating prostaglandins, cytokines and other molecules such as interleukin 6, nuclear factor-kappa beta (NF-kb) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). With a high enough dosage, this has the ability to pull the body out of a strong inflammatory cascade and reset anti-inflammatory behavior at the cellular level.

Curcumin and cancer:

Research done by the Life Extension Foundation found that curcuminoids target ten factors involved in cancer development. This includes chronic inflammation, DNA damage and disruption of cell signaling pathways. Curcumin supplementation was shown to destroy cancer cell mitochondria, disrupt the cancer cell cycle and arrest stem cell development that facilitates further cancer cell formation.

There are hundreds of other studies that have shown that curcumin turns on natural apoptotic (cell suicide) switches in cancer cells. They also reduce inflammatory prostaglandins that promote cancer cell growth. A study out of China showed that curcumin was able to induce apoptosis within triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells. TNBC is a type of cancer that defies conventional chemotherapy and radiation.

Best dosages of curcumin:

For optimal curcumin absorption, it is necessary to combine the turmeric with good fats such as coconut oil, milk or olive oil. You will also want to add a dash of black pepper for the piperine molecule that enhances curcumin uptake. You can also find fermented turmeric in an organic acid base which has an extraordinarily high absorption rate.

For individuals with chronic inflammatory diseases such as cancer, it is recommended to supplement with high-dose curcumin. Find one that is made with piperine in an enteric coating that protects the nutrient from stomach acid for optimal absorption.

An official dosage has not yet been established by the scientific literature. However, studies involving human patients with cancer found that curcumin doses of 3.6 grams or more daily had the best effect.

Curcumin regulates tumor suppressor pathways and triggers mitochondria-mediated death in the cancer tissue. Curcumin is anti-angiogenic, which means that it shuts down the ability of cancer cells to form new blood vessels for blood supply and fuel. This effect makes cancer cells more vulnerable to pharmacological treatments such as chemotherapy and other cancer-control drugs.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://science.naturalnews.com

http://science.naturalnews.com

Al-Hujaily EM, Mohamed AG, Al-Sharif I, et al. PAC, a novel curcumin analogue, has anti-breast cancer properties with higher efficiency on ER-negative cells. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2010 Aug 1.

Rowe DL, Ozbay T, O’Regan RM, Nahta R. Modulation of the BRCA1 protein and induction of apoptosis in triple negative breast cancer cell lines by the polyphenolic compound curcumin. Breast Cancer. 2009 Sep 2;3:61-75.

About the author:

Dr. David Jockers owns and operates Exodus Health Center in Kennesaw, Ga. He is a Maximized Living doctor. His expertise is in weight loss, customized nutrition & exercise, & structural corrective chiropractic care. For more information go to www.drjockers.com To find a Maximized Living doctor near you go to www.maximizedliving.com Dr. Jockers is also available for long distance phone consultations to help you beat disease and reach your health goals

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/043054_curcumin_antioxidant_cancer_treatment.html##ixzz2tzLIYfV6

We appreciate the information presented on these other sites, and recommend you follow the provided links to further investigate the marvelous health benefits to be obtained by eating these foods.

T’ai Chi’s Benefits to Sports


The Tao of the Zone

            I am here to present something we have likely all heard of, but few really understand. So I am attempting to break through a veil of misunderstanding, to usher us into a more realistic perspective of the many cross-over sports benefits to be realized through the practice of T’ai-chi Ch’üan. Every aspect of human life is benefited by this practice and certainly any sport activity will realize enhanced performance by adopting the slowly executed, accurately balanced movements of T’ai-chi Ch’üan, into their sports program. There are many physiological reasons for the muscular control and stamina that is a natural outgrowth of this practice, but possibly the most important aspect is the way slow repetition of these postures, stabilizes the mental attitude and exerts a profoundly positive influence on the abilities of the athlete to impeccably express the skills they’ve developed in their sport of expertise.

Typically called The Zone, it is a prize sought after by athletes and coaches across the spectrum of sports, and it is the neurophysiological realm that T’ai-Chi is asking its practitioners to reside in during actualization of the sequence. The Ancient Taoists called it The Mysterious Pass and explained it by saying, “When the mysterious pass is open, the strings of the great marionette can cleanly actuate the animations of our bodies, so as to appropriately and completely align our actions with the needs of the task at hand.”  This is a body that is no longer inhibited by the constraints and fears of the individual ego, but is instead freed up into the impeccable performance of that selfless realm. When a person has spent several hours in this place of balance between mind and body, the mysterious zone becomes more accessible to them and gradually becomes the normal mode they perform in during play in their sport, facilitating in them an ability to stay calm, focused and balanced, so that the body, as a whole, can relax and become, innately reflexive and accurate in its rapid responses to external stimulus.

Acquisition of these T’ai-Chi skills will be an adventure into the realm of pure movement, via the principles and postures of this refined martial art form and even though martial abilities are a natural byproduct of these basic postures, the focus and result of our effort is harmony, health, peace of being and impeccable reflexes.  It is these flowing, perceptive and impeccable reflexes which makes T’ai-Chi Ch’üan a martial arts marvel, and it is these same abilities that enhance sport performance. Ultimately, T’ai-Chi Ch’üan is seeking to free the practitioner from the form itself, into the formless realm of free expression of abilities, understanding that the body knows how to perform the action perfectly, that only the doubting mind can miss the shot and that the unaimed arrow never misses its mark. The essence of pure movement is balance, the essence of balance is relaxation, and relaxation cannot be achieved without true balance. Together they restore confidence in one’s abilities. This is why even just working on balance and chi flow as in, I Ch’üan, standing meditation, increases these abilities. So when I Ch’üan is coupled to the martial foundation of thirteen postures boxing forms with the balance and athletics required to properly actualize those movements, as in a discipline like T’ai-Chi, you move further and further into a body that responds naturally to the chaotic reverberations of the world, with grace, balance, flow and excellence.

The Sport Form is a pure adaptation of the moves of the Yang Style 108 Long Form, but it emphasizes the foundation postures and principle moves, along with the more technically advanced transforms, and it leaves out the complicated and difficult to learn kick sequence and the multiple reinforcement repetitions of the foundational postures, that can be achieved by simply repeating the Sport Form up to five times to equal the same amount of meditative T’ai-Chi as would be experienced in one long form sequence.

Your weight should be completely on your right leg and a much lesser amount, on the ball of your left foot capable of gently lifting off the ground.  You must reach this point of balance over the right leg, before you initiate lifting the other leg.  This is true of either leg, in all transformations, between all postures.  Everything must be considered to be a transformation between any of the infinitesimal positions we move through during a sequential actualization. This is what you are trying to learn and where poor balance is most obvious.  Typically, your body may shake with correction twitches, when you try to slowly lift one foot, while balancing on the other.  This is your body learning to correct its balance.  Your awareness of balance may likely be, very macro at your current point in this practice, which is designed to eventually develop a micro-sensitive awareness of center and how to balance on it, so that the body, as a whole, can relax and become, innately reflexive and accurate in its responses to external stimulus.

We will be working on the fundamentals of posture and balance that allow grace and flow into movements, as well as learning the first moves in the sport sequence, Lotus Blooms in the Fire and Grasp the Sparrow’s Tail. This class will be an adventure into the realm of pure movement, via the postures of this refined martial art, but the focus and result are harmony, health and peace of being. I hope to see you there.

Elypsis Online Education

Success in Tai Chi is, all, always and only, a matter of personal motivation.

M A P

Mimic – Ask – Practice

We at Elypsis decided to provide free access to all of our educational videos regarding the Neoclassical Long Form of T’ai-chi Ch’üan (aka The Logical Form). We feel this original form of T’ai-chi is simply so important to the health and functioning of everyone, that it is inappropriate to not make it freely available to anyone who is willing to summon the diligence and determination necessary to work their way into the form. We have captured many videos, from several different viewing angles and provided them online for free viewing. Being founded on the fundamentals of Thirteen Postures Boxing the Neoclassical Long Form or Logical Form is thoroughly grounded on the bedrock of the “natural endowment” of foundational moves that our bipedal mammalian bodies are most easily capable of doing. This means that by simply watching and mimicking the movements in these videos at whatever level your ability affords, you will easily lead yourself down into the groove of natural, frugal functioning, and up the stairway to true achievement in T’ai-chi. You can be your own guide through this extraordinary kingdom, but we will also be here to answer any questions you might have concerning the marvels of T’ai-chi, The Stayin’ Alive Diet, The Fountain of Youth Rites, spiritual philosophy, longevity, gravity and levity. So please ask about anything that seems unclear, as your questions are truly appreciated by us, because they will likely help illuminate some area of darkness, or lack of clarity that someone else is possibly experiencing as well. Questions encountered and posed by new adventurers into an unknown land are always different and come from a different perspective than those old hands who grew up calling the place home. So it is with the acquisition of the knowledge of movements. So, please ask the questions, to all the answers I’ve forgotten to include.

It will help for you to also read the essays presented online in our Essays & Assays section, because much of the things you will discover through mimicry, are also outlined and explained in these essays aimed at elucidating the true nature of T’ai-chi Ch’üan and why we all might wish to improve ourselves by learning its subtle mechanisms.

In addition to this initial approach of simply mimicking this complex set of movements, our MAP education gives you the ability to ask questions regarding any aspect of the form, and get answers both through our collected FAQ responses or an email to Elypsis. If we do not have a sufficient way to explain or answer your inquiry with words, we will make a video to resolve the issue and send you a link to that.

So those are the first two steps in this straight-forward education program, the M and the A or Mimic and Ask. The P stands for the ancient Chinese secret of Practice. Repetition is your best friend and ally in your quest to climb the stairway through the Garden of the Fountain of Youth. If you can combine self-summoned, initial motivation with diligence, determination and perseverance you will climb step by step, day by day, higher and higher into the garden of yourself. There is no disappointment if you but continue. Success is attained in each day’s practicing, and is only determined by one’s attitude towards intention to achieve. These qualities are not to be taken lightly for they are the core reason for success. This form will move anyone’s being into a much higher level of functioning. To say it differently, it would be impossible to mimic and or practice this form with determined diligence and not reap the many marvelous benefits awaiting anyone who scales its heights. The journey is as long as the rest of your lives, which is typically a lot longer for the T’ai-chi practitioner who maintains their health through strength and harmony, by getting more in tune and settling deeper into the matrix of the world that surrounds us all. Endless practicing allows you to discover, what you do not yet know.

We do understand that the 108 move long form set is quite a meal to digest, but if you truly begin by taking one bite at a time and working out the first few steps, it will soon gather speed in direct proportion to your ability to understand the movements. Many short sequences inside the main sequence, are repeated several times, so when they appear again in the main sequence, you can just splice them in and move ahead. This accelerates your progress through the form and flattens the learning curve. All of the movements are martial maneuvers actualized very slowly, but the true purpose of doing these defensive transforms so slowly and accurately, is to force you to focus on your vertical spinal alignment and its relationship with your own natural posture, foundation, balance and abilities, thereby improving your posture, foundation, balance, capabilities along with, the ability to focus on the control of your body. These are invaluable lessons.

Will is to grace as the horse is to the rider.”
St. Augustine

 

Beyond MAP

In the event that you find the MAP approach too difficult to learn from, we do offer seminars, playshops and classes here in Lexington, Kentucky where you can come at any point in your learning process and get a good boost of information and resolved questions to propel you more rapidly into the realm of achievement.

The 10 week workshop curriculum, descriptions, dates and locations will be posted here soon. But are available if you call me at (859) 339-4516

  • Prepare for anything. Expect nothing. Accept everything.