Tag Archives: health

Busted lip

1 Mar

I’ve had the super obnoxious problem of a painfully chapped and split bottom lip for the past several weeks. I can’t sneeze, laugh or even floss without my lip splitting open—and what kind of life is that? I thought I was doing everything in my power to fix it, but it turns out I wasn’t.

Since I am a person who generally doesn’t drink enough water throughout the day, I figured it was dehydration. However, with few exceptions during the past two weeks, I’ve been going out of my way to drink more and more often. No luck.

Another possible culprit is the cold weather we’ve had recently, but it hasn’t been particularly dry, and this weekend the clouds opened up and dumped rain down on us, so I don’t think that’s the problem either.

I didn’t realize that cracked lips can be caused by a vitamin deficiency. A deficiency in vitamins A, B2, or C could all be the troublemaker: vitamin A keeps skin from being flaky and dry, B2 helps prevent mouth lesions, and C helps produce our collagen.

I think I’m probably good on the B2 front since I have fortified cereal most mornings and get the rest of what I need from all the dairy I’m eating. As for vitamin C, well, it’s blood orange season in Italy and that’s practically the only fruit in our basket right now. I guess that means I need to seek out more vitamin A. Of course all things related to liver are high in vitamin A, but so are all those pretty red and orange vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Time for a trip to the market!

Just to be sure, I think I’ll pay more attention to my intake of both vitamins A and B2 and see if there’s any improvement to my sorry state.

A newish fight against cancer

16 Jan

When we were in Taiwan, Colin and I watched TED Talks multiple times a week. They’re often quite fascinating, and the site has a neat search option that not only lets you search by topic, but also allows you to narrow results to only the funny ones, or only those that many viewers found inspiring, or those which are the most informative.

A contact of Colin’s recently forwarded a TED Talk by William Li, the head of the Angiogenesis Foundation, titled “Can We Eat to Starve Cancer?” The first half of the talk explains angiogenesis, which is the growth of blood vessels, and how it can affect different diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, and cancer.

Dr. Li explains that we’re born with pretty much all the blood vessels we’re going to need throughout life. There are exceptions to that, though. Our body knows when we’ve been wounded and need to re-grow damaged vessels; women grow new blood vessels every month in their uterus; and sometimes a cancerous tumor can trick our body into thinking new blood vessels need to be grown, turning a harmless, ballpoint-pen-tip-sized tumor into something to really worry about.

There are several different anti-angiogenesis drugs on the market that inhibit the growth of new blood vessels, slowing or stopping the growth of the tumors. Dr. Li has a chart about midway through the presentation that compares those drugs with a couple dozen foods, oils, and spices that are also anti-angiogenesis. The foods do surprisingly well. He suggests, with some Harvard research to back him up, that by incorporating these foods into our diets, we can better fight against cancer by stopping blood from getting to the tumors, essentially starving the cancer.

My goal is to incorporate more of the foods on this list into our diet more often than I do now. Some of them are easy: olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, red wine—check, check, check, and check. We really got our fill of ginger, bok choy, and green tea last year in Taiwan, but it wouldn’t hurt to pick up a bag of ginger chews to keep in the pantry. I’ve got an artichoke in the fridge (is that where I’m supposed to keep that?) and a bag full of tumeric on the spice shelf (I’ll explain later…), and I will seek out, try, and post about any recipes that use one or more of these ingredients.

Have any dishes I should start with? Any shortcuts like the ginger chews?