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June 14, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 14, 2013 PAGE 3R By Sandee Brawarsky New York Jewish Week When Golda Meir first visited Kibbutz Merhavia in 1921, she found the members eating "terrible food" like un- cooked vegetables and olives. She joined the kibbutz, worked in the fields and then later in the kitchen, where she took over and "forced," in her word, her companions to start their day with hot, cooked mush. She hadn't yet heard of the Mediterranean diet. The idea of following a diet based on the traditional culinary habits of those whose lands surround the Mediterranean has been gain- ing favor internationally in recent years. Meals based on straightforward cooking, fea- turing fresh vegetables, sea- sonal fruits, nuts, beans, olive oil, fish rich in omega-3 fats, lemon, herbs, whole grains and wine too, in moderation, are thought to be good for the heart and also helpful in keeping extra pounds off. Studies have suggested that the Mediterranean diet-- which varies slightly between countries--reduces the risk of heart disease and can re- duce the incidence of cancer, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. And now there's more reason to cook in the style of the Greek Isles or Jerusalem alleyways. A recent study found that a Mediterranean- style diet may help preserve memory and thinking abili- ties, as reported in the jour- nal Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. This was the largest study of its kind. "Diet is an important modifiable activity that could help in preserving cognitive functioning in late life," the study's lead author, Dr. Georgiou Tsivgoulis of the University of Alabama at Bir- mingham and the University of Athens, Greece, said in a statement. "However it is only one of several important lifestyle activities that might play a role in late-life mental functioning. Exercise, avoid- ing obesity, not smoking cigarettes and taking medi- cations for conditions like diabetes and hypertension are also important." What's not in the Medi- terranean diet is lots of red meat, convenience and processed foods, sugar-laden pastries, saturated fats and hydrogenated oils (trans fats). The Mediterranean lifestyle also emphasizes the impor- tance of enjoying meals with friends and family. More poetically, the late Israeli poet, novelist and essayist Shulamith Hareven described the food of the Le- vant, in an essay, "On Being a Levantine": "It is a way of life. It is a vegetable in its time and season, a tomato ripened in a great sun, olive oil from the press, seasonedwith basil and thyme from the early morning mountainside. It is the end-of- summer grapes, awaited all year, and it is the fig that has absorbed all the light. It is the fish caught in the bay, eaten without any special purpose or bottom line or haste, washed down with a drink made of anise that grows nearby. It is soul food; it is the basis." But not all contemporary Israeli eating habits are so exemplary. On the one hand, home cooks can find local produce and other products in bountiful open-air mar- kets like Tel Aviv's Carmel Market (founded in 1927) and Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda (founded in 1928), and many restaurants favor Mediterranean-style cooking with recipes developed by a generation of new chefs or passed down from grand- mothers. But then, on the other hand, there's also a growing interest in fast foods, American-style hamburgers and other meats in plentiful portions, as Dan Lenchner, the owner of Manna Catering in New York, explains in an interview. The foods that he grew up with in Israel, in the 1960s, including lots of salads, fish, whole grains, low-fat cheese, pita and hummus, even falafel--now still the core foods of Israeli cuisine--were healthy. But he says, "with affluence comes people want- ing to eat more meat." Lenchner also points out that Israeli cuisine is a "real melting pot in every way," incorporating the foods of people from so many differ- ent lands who now live and cook in Israel. And, because Israelis travel so much, they also enjoy incorporating foreign cuisines. In their excellent new cookbook, "Jerusalem," Yo- tam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi concur that the city's cuisine is a great mix of tradi- tions, with so many cultures and subcultures. One healthy dish that "everybody, absolutely ev- erybody" serves is "chopped cucumber and tomatoes to create an Arab salad, or an Israeli salad, depending on point of view." That salad was probably the mainstay of the kibbutz breakfast Golda Meir frowned upon. But even in the early years, not everyone agreed with Meir. In "The Book of New Israeli Food" (2008), Janna Gur recalls the first Zionist cookbook, published in the 1930s, "How to Cook in Palestine," by Dr. Erna Mayer, published by WIZO (Women's International Zionist Orga- nization). Mayer writes, "We housewives must make an attempt to free our kitchen from European customs which are not appropriate to Palestine. We should whole- heartedly stand in favor of Palestinian cooking." Bonnie-Taub Dix, a dietician and nutrition consultant and author of "Read It Before You Eat It," says in an interview, "You don't have to move to the Mediterranean to eat like some- one from there." She suggests thatAmericans can adjusttheir diets to incorporate what she refers to as the Mediterranean lifestyle (rather than diet) by thinking of fruits, vegetables and grain as the cornerstone of their meal and considering protein as a side dish. And, she says, even the herring that's served at shul kiddishes--and those extensive breakfast buffets served in Israeli hotels--is a healthy choice. Sandee Brawarsky is the book critic for The New York Jewish Week, from which this article was reprinted by permission. ByAbigail Klein Leichman Israel21c As many as 10 million peo- ple worldwide (one million in the United States alone) suffer the tremors, impaired balance and rigidity associ- atedwith Parkinson's disease (PD), a chronic and progres- sive disorder caused by the death of nerve cells in the brain's muscle-movement control areas. The cause is unknown and there is no cure, only medication to manage symptoms. Against that bleak land- scape, Israeli researchers are working hard to better understand, prevent and treat the brain disorder. Here are 10 exciting examples of Israeli ingenuity that could revolutionize options for PD patients. 1. A pill for PD Azilect, a popular drug to treat PD symptoms, was in- novated by Technion-Israel Institute of Technology pro- fessors John Finberg and Moussa Youdim and com- mercialized by Israel's Teva Pharmaceuticals. The drug is prescribed for patients in 56 countries. Youdim, 72, is now co- director of the Technion's Eve Topf and U.S. Nation- al Parkinson Foundation Centers of Excellence for Neurodegenerative Diseases Research. He is one of the Israeli formulators of a next- generation drug, Ladostigil, which is still in clinical trials for both PD and Alzheimer's patients. 2. InSightec's ExAblate Neuro Time magazine designated Israeli company InSightec's magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound as one of the 50 best inventions of 2011. Neurosurgeons and physi- cists at leading research hos- pitals in Switzerland, Korea, Tokyo, Canada and the United States are currently using In- Sightec's ExAblate Neuro ex- perimentally to treat essential tremor, a common movement disorder, through MR-guided focused ultrasound. Technion professor Mous- sa Youdim with Azilect, the drug he helped develop for Parkinson's symptoms. The first Parkinson's pa- tients in a Phase III study are being enrolled this year, with the hope of devising a full treatment protocol to receive FDA approval for InSightec's noninvasive treatment of tremors related to PD. 3. Brainsway A clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Brainsway, a specialized deep TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) therapy, for PD patients concluded last November with promising preliminary results. After the 27 PD patients re- ceived 12 non-invasive treat- ment sessions over the course of 30 days, they showed significant improvement in mobility. Their tremor and rigidity symptoms improved after just the first treatment. In addition to positive stud- ies completed in Israel and in Italy, another trial is still under way. 4. EIMindA The Israeli company El- MindA could revolutionize the diagnosis and man- agement of PD and other brain-related disorders with its trademarked, noninva- sive procedure for mapping network activation points in the brain. This 15- to 30-minute procedure would be a major advance because blood tests and imaging are of limited value for diagnosing brain diseases and documenting the effects of treatment. The EIMindA technology is currently being used for drug development research with leading pharmaceutical com- panies and in research with academic research centers throughout the United States and Europe. Last year, the company began the process of applying for FDA clearance for clinical use. 5. Guided imagery In 2010, neurologist Dr. Ilana Schlesinger did a suc- cessful experiment at Ram- barn Healthcare Campus in Haifa using guided imagery to tame the tremors of PD patients. It was, she said, the first time anyone ever succeeded in completely stopping tremors without medication. The effects lasted for a short while after each session, as reported in the In- ternational Journal of Move- ment Disorders. Schlesinger received inquiries about the technique from the United States, South America and even Afghanistan. 6. NurOwn Researchers at Jerusalem's Hadassah University Medical Center are studying the abil- ity of enhanced autologous stem cells (taken from the patients' own bone marrow) to stop the progression of PD and other neurodegenerative diseases. The specially modified stem cells, called NurOwn, are produced by Petah Tik- vah-based BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics. FormerAmeri- can prizefighter Muhammad Ali's daughter, Rasheda, sits on BrainStorm's advisory board. She's following Nu- rOwn clinical trials closely to see how it might help people with PD, like her dad. 7. Understanding cell death The protein ARTS, cen- tral to the natural process of programmed cell death (apoptosis), is the subject of scrutiny by Dr. Sarit Larisch, head of the Cell Death and Cancer Research Laboratory at the University of Haifa. She leads breakthrough research into why the brain cells that produce the neurotransmit- ter dopamine become dam- aged in PD. She explains that when apoptosis is too sluggish it can result in cancer, while if it goes into overdrive it can result in diseases such as Parkinson's. "By inhibiting the expres- sion of ARTS in stem cells, we can increase their num- bers," Larisch tells Israe121c. "In terms of Parkinson's, we are looking into small molecules that can cross the blood-brain barrier and prevent death of neurons by preventing or blocking the expression of ARTS. This is still at a very preliminary stage." 8. Green tea? The main antioxidant in green tea could be a potent way to prevent PD and other neurodegenerative diseases, according to research done by professor Moussa Youdim and Dr. Silvia Mandel, co- director of the Parkinson Foundation Centers at the Technion. The substance, EGCG, can enter brain cells and keep neurons from dying. Mandel found that even after many neurons have already been damaged, the green tea anti- oxidant is capable of rescuing the remaining healthy ones. If taken in moderation, she suggests, green tea may be part of both a prevention and anti-progression strategy. 9. Protecting brain cells Last July, neurologists at Beilinson Hospital (Petah Tikva) and at Tel Aviv Uni- versity's School of Medicine announced the identification of a protein that protects dopamine-producing brain cells from PD. Mutations of this protein are associated with an increased risk of PD and other brain disorders. The hope is that a drug could be synthesized to mim- ic the action of this natural protein, and prescribed for people in the early stages of the disease. There are three years of research behind this breakthrough and likely many more years of studies and trials ahead. 10. A phone call for di- agnosis Innovative new voice analysis software developed at Israel's eXaudios Tech- nology can decipher your emotional and physical state in real-time--and eventu- ally could help diagnose and evaluate the severity of conditions such as PD and autism through analysis of a phone call. PD is one of several dis- eases that affect intonation. In fact, voice disturbances may be one of the first or early indicators of the disease. 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