Pop quiz! What does your pineal gland do? Most people know it as a little blob in your brain that makes melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that's made when it gets dark outside. Your eye has really cool photoreceptor cells that sense light, so it can tell the brain (and pineal gland) that it's time to start making melatonin. Melatonin makes you sleepy and lowers your body's temperature. Have you ever taken a trip to a different time zone? Even a change of one hour can be annoying, right? It's because your body already has an established "sleep/wake cycle." That means you will still get sleepy at the same time, but the daylight (or darkness) outside will not agree with you! Your body is used to making melatonin at similar times every day, so even if you fly halfway across the globe (a 12 hour difference), you will have jetlag: aka a hard time staying awake during a bright, sunny day! There's more. Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants keep cells from being damaged by free radicals. Read more about antioxidants and free radicals here!
Recently, I heard about someone with breast cancer who starved their body to avoid chemotherapy. Ever since, the guts and I have been wondering: Can you starve cancer by following a certain diet? Or is it only a preventative measure? Because not eating seems.. hard. So we starting researching and came across this July 2013 Ted Talk by William Li about diet and cancer prevention. That's 200% awesome if you don't have cancer. But what if you already have it? Researchers already knew, in 1923, that cancer cells use a ton of glucose (the nutrient we get from digesting carbohydrates) - more than regular cells. This is because they grow much faster than normal cells, so they need the extra energy. If you starve your body, even for a few hours, your cells can switch to using fat or protein. But do cancer cells do the same thing? Research from MIT says yes. Lucky for us, then, in July 2013 some great people at the University of Southampton have found something that cancer cells need for survival that normal cells don't need. More research from July 2013, thanks to the Thomas Jefferson University, resulted in this study about starving cancer cells through manipulating diet. Have you tried a diet approach to overcoming cancer, or know someone who has? Or do you think it's all a bunch of bunk?