Saturday, September 23, 2006


Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.
Hippocrates, 400 BC

What is a tonic?

A tonic is something that improves your well being. It helps restore balance to the body, and it nourishes. Rather than rectifying a specific problem, as a remedy does, a tonic supports health. It doesn't make you feel bad in the process.

I suppose that there are many definitions of a tonic. In traditional Chinese medicine, a tonic enhances immunity and supports normal functioning, as opposed to a remedy designed to attack the root cause of a specific illness or medical problem.

In European traditional medicine, tonics are generally bitter substances that improve digestion (think Swedish bitters). Thus they too generally improve one's energy and sense of well being.

For me, I tend to go with the definition of foods / drinks that support health and nourish our cells. Because of summer's abondance of fresh fruits, at this time of year, my favorite is the "fruit smoothie."

When making one of these smoothies, I usually just go with what I they are never the same, but always delicious. Today I've included fresh peaches (the last of the season), concord grapes, frozen blackberries and raspberries, soymilk, and a little flax oil for my daily EFA's. Blend together and you have happiness in a glass.

For any of you interested in some of the benefits of some of the ingredients included in todays smoothie, here you have it:

Grape. Rich in antioxidant compounds. Red grapes (but not white or green grapes) are high in the antioxidant quercetin. Grape skins contain resveratrol, shown to inhibit blood-platelet clumping (and consequently, blood clot formation) and boost good-type HDL cholesterol. Red grapes are antibacterial and antiviral in test tubes. Grape seed oil also raises good-type cholesterol.

Raspberry. Anti-viral, anti-cancer activity. High in natural aspirin

Soybean. Rich in hormones, it boosts estrogen levels in post-menopausal women. Has anti-cancer activity and is thought to be especially antagonistic to breast cancer, possibly one reason rates of breast and prostate cancers are low among the Japanese. Soybeans are the richest source of potent protease inhibitors which are anti-cancer, anti-viral agents. Soybeans lower blood cholesterol substantially. In animals, soybeans seem to deter and help dissolve kidney stones.

Flax seeds and oil. Used for constipation, cases of gastritis, colitis or other inflammations of the digestive tract. Lowers blood fat levels often associated with heart attacks and strokes. Reduces harmful blood cholesterol levels with its soluble fibers. Prevents colon and breast cancer through its rich source of lignins, a documented anti-cancer agent. Improves moods, diminishes allergies and produces healthier skin.

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