Is it time to make yourself available to science? And I don’t mean donating your dead body (although we’re big supporters of organ donation too) or giving blood (another good thing to do), but taking part in a living, breathing research project.
Over the last four years of blogging, we’ve become increasingly aware of the critical importance of top quality research. Yes, studies of mice and fruit flies are a great start. But it’s only from studies of people that scientists can draw genuinely valid conclusions (occasionally).
And for the results to be (occasionally) statistically significant, researchers need large numbers of people. And those people must commit to donating time and energy (and sometimes their bodies too), often over a long period of time.
I say occasionally because many projects don’t produce useful results, either because of how the cohort was selected, how they engaged, how the study was designed – or a myriad other reasons.
We know all this from poring over hundreds of studies. But now I know it from the other side. That is, from the side of being a study participant.
The study I’ve signed up to is comprehensive, large-scale (at least 5000 people) and will run for ten years. These are exactly the longitudinal studies Susan and I rely on for credible data. But more importantly, scientists rely on them as they try to improve quality of life for us all.
I know first-hand how comprehensive this study is because I’ve spent several hours doing cognition tests and on-line surveys and I’ve been warned that DNA samples will be requested. Not only that, but Mr K&C has also had to complete two surveys on the state of my brain (although I think he quite enjoyed that!).
This particular study is, we think, important. It’ll explore the changing ageing brain and the impact of lifestyle on cognition. There’s no Big Pharma behind it, although the findings may point a way to that ever-elusive cure for dementia. And with a duration of ten years it’s unlikely to be about enhancing the ego of its authors (although that may come too, of course).
Finally, the study’s being run by one of the top 25 universities in the world, with a track record of producing high quality research.
So if you’re interested in giving something back to science, now, while you can, please take a look. The study is still recruiting (over 50s only) and you can find out all about it at http://protectstudy.org.uk/
Now is the time to get out foraging. We love nettles! One of the most chlorophyll-rich plants, nettles are rich in Vitamins C and K, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium. One of our earlier posts featured nettle soup but this weekend I made something even simpler with my garden nettles tops, which we wolfed for Sunday lunch, leaving nothing to photograph. Normally I’d have cooked a second batch to photograph but we’re too busy interviewing, cooking and writing for our Age-Well book, so you’ll have to make do without a picture… But here’s the recipe:
SPICED NETTLES WITH GREEN OLIVES (serves 2)
- 1 carrier bag of nettle tops, blanched for 3 minutes in boiling water (use garden or rubber gloves to pick)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- Handful green olives, chopped
- Olive oil, seasoning, lemon juice
Saute the chopped onion in 1 tbsp olive oil for 5 mins.
Add the cumin, coriander and garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
Drain the nettles and squeeze out surplus water. Add to the pan with the chopped olives, and season well.
Heat through, drizzle with extra olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and some sea salt.
It’s been so cold here that the nettles are still too small to pick! Try and find a healthy recipe for wild garlic, it’s easy to identify, smells lovely and is part of the onion family.
Very good blog with interesting facts and a good sense of humour.
Annabel Abbs says
Thank you, Charles. You’re right about the wild garlic which is out now in the south. I love a wild garlic pesto. In fact I’ve just posted the most basic ‘recipe’ ever (but still very good and I am determined to get everyone eating wild greens!) for wild greens on toast for tomorrow, that includes wild garlic snipped in at the end. Hope your nettles ‘ripen’ soon!
Charlotte Holtam says
I have signed up for the study and completed the questionnaires. Am very upset and shocked that they ask about what supplements you take but not what food you eat. What a missed opportunity and how stupid.
Annabel Abbs says
You’re right, Charlotte. I noticed that too but assumed (perhaps wrongly) that diet would come in later questions when they request DNA etc. Or was it in the voluntary section?? Worryingly, am struggling to remember! They’re still ‘collecting’ people, so let’s hope it’s coming. I might mention it to them anyway as we’re in touch… Thanks for signing up. The more of us the better!