Archive for April, 2009

Pig Flu, Smig Flu. What’s all the hype?

A quick note about the hype surrounding the swine flu pandemic.  Being in Texas, we have a heightened sense of urgency about this thing.  Is it warranted?  Well maybe, the flu can definitely be damaging and it certainly has had some fatalities.  But in the end it is really just a flu with symptoms not very different from other strains of the flu, and an outcome that is most often resolved with minor symptoms and no medical treatment.  What can you do to protect yourself?  This is really just the same as it would be with any other flu outbreak.  Practice good hygiene, especially in public places.  Eat healthy as to keep your body under as little chemical stress as possible, and boost your immune system with plenty of fresh air and sunshine (a few smiles wouldn’t hurt either).  If symptoms do show up, a general anti-viral protocol can be followed in addition to the above recommendations.  At this point, the information we are seeing regarding this virus is that it should be taken seriously, though it most likely will not prove to be the major pandemic that we are seemingly being bombarded with.  Maybe the media is a bit over-the-top, but that is their job – to get your attention.  Now that you’re aware that the swine flu has moved to humans, make good healthy choices to keep yourself safe – as you would with any flu outbreak.


Childhood Obesity for Sale

Childhood obesity for sale in public schools.  Awesome editorial in the NY Times.  Read the article here.

honeybees – why should we care that they are dying?

There is actually terminology for it – CCD Colony Collapse Disorder. Something is killing the honeybees around the world.  In the past, beekeepers annually lost between 5 and 10% of their colonies.  In 2007 that number rose to over 13% and last year to over 35%. Everybody immediately thinks of honey when they think of bees, and of course that is important.  However, the real effect is that honeybees are a major and primary pollinator of many food crops. A few of the crops affected are nuts especially almonds, fruits like apples, and many vegetables a full third of the entire us food supply counts on honeybees. No one is sure exactly what is causing this but many ideas make sense and its probably some combination of them that is actually at fault.

Certainly pesticides could do it and in fact it is well known that nicotine based products have an especially damaging effect. These products, Imidacloprid and Clothianidin (primarily from Bayer) are known to have fatal effects on honeybees and other pollinators. Imidacloprid and Clothianidin are bad chemicals all the way around and have a multitude of damaging effects to our environment. Also, this chemical is sold to farmers and to the general population for home use and Continue reading ‘honeybees – why should we care that they are dying?’

Do You Use A Microwave?

Do you know how a microwave works? It may surprise you that there have been changes proven to be detrimental to health that occur in food that has been microwaved and further degenerative changes in your body from eating that microwaved food.  Yes, what you’ve suspected all along is true.

Microwaves operate at or about 2.45 GHz of radiation .  This radiation, when contacting a polar molecule (food), causes a momentary shift in that substances polarity. That motion causes friction and friction emits heat. Food is cooked by violently shaking the water and other molecules fast enough to heat the food. Problems begin when that friction is happening up to 100 billion times per second and causing major structural damage to the surrounding molecules, tearing them apart and forever changing them. This has a technical term “structural isomerism.” These changed molecules no longer act as they are expected to and our bodies handle them differently.  Many are in fact, changed quite readily to well known carcinogens.

Many warnings have been issued and largely ignored specifically about baby bottles, milk, and formula. The main warning that seems to get press is the danger of burning a baby with liquid that is “surprisingly” hot coming out of the microwave and, of course this is a concern, but it really is the least of our worries.  There is an interesting study by Dr. Lita Lee of Hawaii who reported in the December 9, 1989 Lancet:

“Microwaving baby formulas converted certain trans-amino acids into their synthetic cis-isomers. Synthetic isomers, whether cis-amino acids or trans-fatty acids, are not biologically active. Further, one of the amino acids, L-proline, was converted to its d-isomer, which is known to be neurotoxic (poisonous to the nervous system) and nephrotoxic (poisonous to the kidneys). It’s bad enough that many babies are not nursed, but now they are given fake milk (baby formula) made even more toxic via microwaving.”

Also interesting was the case of the nurse who warmed blood for a transfusion in a microwave and it subsequently killed the patient.  Clearly something changes in whatever is warmed in a microwave and few people are questioning what those changes are. A Swiss study involving vegetables and milk did in fact show substantial changes in some basic blood chemistry of patients receiving microwaved food. These changes included a decrease in hemoglobin, an increase in cholesterol, and maybe most important was a sharp decrease in lymphocytes (immune cells).

In the 1970’s Russian scientists did actual studies on the effects on humans of microwaving food, and the government then banned the use and sale of microwaves. A summary of their findings: Continue reading ‘Do You Use A Microwave?’

The acai berry is a fraud…

The Acai berry is a fraud. Well, not necessarily a fraud, but how in the world could a berry cure you of all ailments?

 What we are really talking about is a case of zeal and misunderstanding about where human health comes from. The recent claims about the Acai berry on unsuspecting consumers and its cure all is greatly exaggerated. Acai is a berry…a fruit.  And fruits especially berries, are and have been widely regarded for their health benefits, namely because of their antioxidant content. This story has or will be played out many times regarding many fruits and berries, both common and exotic.  From Acai, Pomegranate, Resveratrol, Noni Juice, Blueberries to Mangosteen, we are inundated with claims of health, vitality, and miracles of all sorts. What are the actual true benefits? Well, they are great.  Simply put, fruits and berries are very nutritious and packed with a large variety and concentration of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Many of these substances have certain desirable properties that make them antioxidants.  An antioxidant is a substance that stops free radical damage due to oxidation.  This means that they protect us from excessive damage due to the natural or unnatural proliferation of free radicals. They are a sort of protective “force field” from pollutants (pollutants in the air, in our clothes, in the products we put on and in our bodies, etc). 

 Why then all the hype? It’s been well publicized that we need more antioxidants in our diet and also that free radical damage is attributed to everything from age lines to heart disease with a million stops in between. The problem is that our society has a need to find a “miracle cure” in the pill form to cure whatever ails us. The truth is that our lifestyle (activity level, eating habits, lack of nutrition, etc) as a whole is what is ailing us and no cure in a bottle is ever going to fix that. No berry can solve all our problems just because it contains certain antioxidants and those antioxidants stop free radicals and it is the free radicals that contribute to nearly all of our degenerative diseases. See how easy the jump from good fruit to amazing miracle super-food is. Marketing people love this and to a fault so do we the consumer. Acai is great and as a part of a diet rich in whole foods and packed with nutrients, it can lend its very high concentration of antioxidants to help complete the whole picture of our healthy diet. 

Milk – Does a Body Good or Harm?

Should you drink your milk? Everyone from dairy advertisers to doctors and even your mom told you to “drink your milk it’s good for you.”   Is that really sound advice concerning your health?  The answer for most of us is no if our source of milk is the local megamart.

Why?  Milk is a processed food. Ignoring for a moment the methods employed to grow the cows and extract as much milk as possible, let’s focus on the pasteurization that is employed to save us from the “dreaded bacteria.”  Pasteurization can kill most of the detrimental bacteria present in milk but it also kills all the beneficial bacteria that are also there and who protect us from the very organisms that pasteurization is also designed to do. The high heat of pasteurization also denatures the delicate protein structures destroying the enzymes without which milk becomes very hard for us to digest (how many times do you hear “I’m lactose intolerant”). Our pancreas can not always handle the burden of secreting enough enzymes to break down the milk and overtaxing the pancreas to do such work can lead to diseases such as diabetes. Continue reading ‘Milk – Does a Body Good or Harm?’

Fewer ingredients, better food choice?

Even if the ice cream only contains 5 ingredients instead of 10 or more, it is still not the better choice than say, a banana with one ingredient “banana.”