India: New wild ginger discovered in forest of Western Ghats Intensive botanical explorations for taxonomic studies on the members of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) in India by V.P. Thomas and M. Sabu of the University of Calicut, have resulted in the discovery of an interesting species of Amomum (Cardamom) from Silent Valley National Park on the Western Ghats of Kerala. The ginger family consists of 53 genera and over 1,200 species, many of which are widely used as spices, for medical purposes, or simply for decoration. Amomum Roxb. is the second largest genus within the Zingiberaceae, comprising about 150-180 species, including several types of cardamom. Widely distributed in Southeast Asia, the genus is represented by 23 species in India, mostly restricted to North-East India, South India and the Andaman-Nicobar Islands.
In the new species, the authors show some similarities with A. masticatorium, although the two are clearly distinct. The new plant's name refers to its locality, i.e. Nilgiri hills, a part of Western Ghats and one of the hotspots of the Indian subcontinent. The most notable feature of the plant is the presence of long ligules that reach up to 9 cm long and small flowers with a long corolla tube. Almost all parts of the plant are hairy. It is a high altitude species (found above 1,200 m), and attempts to conserve it outside its natural locality were unsuccessful. The conservation status evaluation revealed that it falls under the critically endangered category of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, 2001. Conservation measures are to be carried out very urgently to recover the plant from extinction.
Nuts, especially walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, combined with the potent polyphenol resveratrol team, together improve mood and protect the aging brain, thus helping to maintain memory and cognition. Researchers reporting in the New England Journal of Medicine have found that nuts consumed over a period of years not only help with weight management issues, but also can reduce systemic inflammation to improve spirits and prevent cognitive decline. Resveratrol has long been associated with brain health. The Journal of Pineal Research reports that resveratrol demonstrates anti-aging properties in the brain necessary for energy production and optimal brain function. Combining these two natural agents together as part of your healthy diet can improve mood, help retain memories and preserve youthful thought patterns.
Researchers determined to validate the health-promoting capacity of nuts provided test participants with a diet of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts for a period of 12 weeks. The volunteers for this study were sex and age-matched individuals given a control diet, and were compared to a group not receiving the nut mixture. All participants exhibited symptoms of metabolic syndrome, increasing risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, mood disorders and loss of cognition. Individuals receiving the nuts had increased levels of serotonin, which will help a person feel better and potentially more satisfied and less likely to suffer from depression and poor mood. Additionally, the nut control group demonstrated reduced inflammatory markers from the high polyphenol content of the nuts. This is an important finding, as individuals exhibiting the signs of metabolic syndrome experience the effects of systemic inflammation leading to accelerated brain aging and cognitive decline.
Mitochondria are the tiny metabolic engines that are responsible for powering each of our trillion or so cells throughout the body. Over time, mitochondria begin to experience loss of function, and cellular decline and aging of the cell begin. Mitochondrial regulation is controlled in large part by the ’longevity’ gene known as Sirt1. Calorie restriction and potent natural nutrients such as resveratrol are known to alter expression of the Sirt1 gene. Researchers have demonstrated that resveratrol is able to restore neural mitochondria function by reviving Sirt1 gene expression; resveratrol provides "a potent anti-aging effect within the brain."
The human brain is a highly metabolic organ, demanding 20% of the total oxygen supply for the body. As such, it is also susceptible to the effects of oxidative stress and free radical damage that cause brain inflammation and advanced signs of aging. Natural nutrients such as resveratrol (25 - 50 mg per day) that cross the blood-brain barrier and foundation monounsaturated fats supplied by most nuts (1 to 2 ounces each day) and seeds protect the brain from damage and dramatically lower the risk of memory loss and cognitive decline.
US: Ark. firm agrees to $1.5M migrant worker pay pact
A federal judge in Arkansas is on the verge of giving final approval to a settlement of a class-action lawsuit that would pay about 1,500 migrant workers a total of $1.5 million to make up for unpaid wages and expenses. The lawsuit was brought in 2007 by the Montgomery, Ala.-based Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of workers who packed tomatoes for Candy Brand LLC in Bradley County. Several other defendants were also named. Settlement documents filed in U.S. District Court in El Dorado show the workers would travel to southern Arkansas to pack tomatoes during the eight-week summer harvest. The proposed settlement says they weren't paid federally-mandated minimum wages or paid proper overtime.
Also, the workers weren't reimbursed for their travel, temporary work visa fees and other costs and they weren't paid at the halfway point of their contracts, according to the proposed settlement that was signed by both sides. The suit, which alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, covers work done from 2003 through 2007, when the court action was filed. The settlement stipulates that it applies to workers who were legally and illegally in the U.S. Final approval of the settlement is pending a March 27 hearing, which Southern Poverty Law Center attorney Michelle Lapointe said is largely a formality to allow members of the class to either opt out of the settlement and pursue their own lawsuit or to object to the deal's terms.
Defense lawyers Hani W. Hashem of Monticello and F. Mattison Thomas III of El Dorado didn't return messages seeking comment. The settlement says the money will be placed in trust accounts and a settlement administrator will be in charge of making payments to the workers. Lapointe said the transient nature of the workers "makes it a little bit more challenging to get in touch with everyone," but she said the money can reach the workers. "We've administered other settlements in cases involving migrant workers on temporary visas, many of whom have gone back to Mexico or Central America, and we've been able to track down a number of people and get the word out about the settlement funds that are available," Lapointe said.