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October 2005 after the first frost and summer grasses had turned brown.  The growth of winter grasses was delayed by the drought.

Columns

This is the Home Page for our quick-read nutritional health column for regional newspapers. If you have a local publication that might want to carry it, let us know or pass the link onto them.

Concerned About Heart Health?

Column #208

If you’re concerned about your heart, you’re not alone. The incidence rate for heart disease has remained the same for decades with heart disease consistently being the leading cause of death.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
●    About 610,000 Americans die of heart disease every year–that’s one in every four deaths.
●    Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women with over half of the deaths being men.
●    Coronary heart disease is most common, killing more than 370,000 people annually or 1,000 daily.
●    About 735,000 Americans a year have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are first time events and 210,000 occur in people who have had one before.

There’s no question that with a healthy heart your life span and overall quality of life increases. So, it’s important to learn how to avoid heart health issues.

Are You Thinking About Your Brain?

Column #207

Are you forgetful and worried about dementia? Are you always on edge? Are you depressed? Is problem solving more difficult? What about the children and grandchildren? Will they all go nuts? Is craziness the new normal?

The mental problems many Americans are dealing with are staggering. They range from suicides, broken homes, addiction, uncontrollable anger, anxiety, problem children, low self esteem, Alzheimer’s, bipolar disorder, depression, and more.

I sifted through my research library looking for answers and pulled out the ones that dealt with mental function. I’ve footnoted them in this column for additional reading. From each one I selected a pertinent point and put them in quotes preceded by the lead author’s name. It’s no secret, brains are diet dependent plus they must be maintained properly. These reports underscore that knowledge. Let’s step through them and I’ll conclude below.

Did Jesus Eat Meat?

Column #206

This is not about religion. It’s a review of what people ate in biblical times. Just the same though, I wonder, are there as many religions as there are diets? Everyone believes in something even if they believe there is nothing to believe in.

Scholars say the Bible’s 66 books were written between 1500 BC and 45 AD. (AD stands for “anno Domini” which is Latin for “in the year of the Lord.” There is no zero year.) This period is the focus of this column.

Computer searches using “King James Bible Online” provide the number of times a keyword is mentioned in the Bible. Of course, sometimes a word is mentioned more than once in a sentence. The searches below indicate to me that domesticated animals played a significant role in the lives of people living in the biblical period.

Biting and Chewing

Column #205

Is it fair to say there’s a grassroots movement to convince all Americans that humans are vegetarians and shouldn’t eat meat? Some believers are so convinced meat is not a proper food that they feed their cat vegetables and grain. Yet cats are true obligate carnivores. They must eat meat for their nutritional needs. Plant-based foods cannot sufficiently provide cats certain key nutrients such as Omega-3 DHA, taurine, Omega-6 arachidonic acid, vitamin A, and vitamin B12. Without these key nutrients cats can suffer from liver and heart problems, skin irritation, and hearing loss.

Of course, humans aren’t cats.

What The Health

Column #204

A few months ago I received a question about the credibility of a Netflix documentary titled “What the Health” (WTH). Supposedly this 2017 film “exposes the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions of healthcare dollars, and keeping us sick.”

It doesn’t fulfill its hype. Instead, it’s a vegan promo co-directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn--the creators of another Netflix documentary, “Cowspiracy.” Typical of films like WTH, this one used straw man arguments to influence the viewer to opt in for the director’s vegan diet. In so doing Kip exposed his own corruption.

For example, WTH pummeled animal products of all kinds for being bad for your health starting with them being dangerous sources of dioxins. But it failed to mention a couple facts. Fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes (along with animal products) are sources of dioxins. In addition, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences recently announced that: “Strict regulatory controls on major industrial sources of dioxin have reduced emissions into the air by 90 percent, compared to levels in 1987. Today, the hazards posed by dioxins have faded from public view. And, in fact, the extent of the hazard has diminished in the U.S., as environmental controls significantly reduced the introduction of new industrial sources of dioxin.”

Originally Discovered in Jellyfish

Column #203

Probably every American over the age of five has seen and/or heard the advertisement that proclaims: “. . . Prevagen helps your brain and actually improves memory. The secret is an ingredient originally discovered in jellyfish. In clinical trials Prevagen has been shown to improve short-term memory . . .”

The American population is aging and with dementia being like an epidemic, brain health is a concern for most seniors. Supplement makers and prescription drug companies know this and have created numerous products to address mental health. Because of that, a few years ago the FTC made it a priority to investigate supplements and products targeting age-related memory decline.

So, what’s the latest news regarding the FTC’s war on brain supplements?

Is it Actually Different?

Column #202

Does the biochemistry of grass-fed beef actually differ from grain-fed beef? Many consumers assume the grass-fed claims are just a bunch of hokum like most marketing health food claims. Of course, most consumers, even those keen on health, don’t seek out the science. They mostly go with the emotional flow which is often motivated by scaremongering and marketing tactics. Even most of the diehard grass-fed fans don’t know the science.

Animal science professionals in academia, the government, and the meat industry have been analyzing the differences for at least two centuries. But up through the ages and even into the 1960s, rather than focus on nutrients the comparative research looked at aroma, flavor, tenderness, color, and intramuscular fat. Of course the research at that time supported the anecdotal evidence. Grain-fed beef was not gamey flavored, was more tender, was juicer with more intramuscular fat, the fat was white, the meat wasn’t dark colored, the cattle finished faster, and consumers preferred it.

Protecting Immunity

Column #201

Our immune systems can save us, maim us, or kill us. Very few understand it and most neglect it.

From the beginning of life through death, our immune system is playing a critical role every single day in preventing or limiting infection. It does it by determining the difference between normal, healthy cells and unhealthy cells. Unhealthy cells can be compromised by infectious agents or damaged by injuries or even cancer. The immune system also recognizes viruses and bacteria by the signals they put out.

When alerted the immune system responds to the problem. If an immune response is not activated by a need, problems arise such as infections. And then there are times when an immune response is activated without a real threat or is not turned off once a danger has passed. Allergic reactions and autoimmune diseases are symptoms of that event.

Understanding your immune system is critically important if you want to strengthen it and keep it from running amuck.

Is it a Fad?

Column #200

A fad is “an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived and without basis in the object’s qualities; a craze.” Fads are relatively common. I’m sure you remember these: car tailfins, barbie dolls, coonskin caps, pet rocks, boom boxes, beanie babies, llamas, and ostriches.

The food business has many fads. It seems a different diet is in vogue every year. Food labels have had their days in the limelight too. They include terms such as low fat, gluten free, low salt, cholesterol free, natural, hormone free, organic, antioxidants, Omega-3, and free range. Food and drink hot buttons include TV dinners, bacon, margarine, gelatin, bottled water, energy drinks, fondue, cereals, oat bran, etc.

So what’s today’s biggest food fad and is it with or without basis?

Counteracting Health Misinformation

Column #199

Every person is an individual with a different background of life experiences. Even twins, from their individual perspectives, do not have identical experiences from the first moments of life. By the time they start school their lizard brains are well conditioned. In grade school they gain additional experiences and they continue throughout life. I wrote about this in “Stories and Your Reptilian Brain.” There I explained how our lizard minds can be exploited by politicians, marketers, and others to influence our decisions. Yes, that has something to do with inciting mob rule.

How everyone views medical journals also differs. Just like viewing a painting, ask five people and they report seeing something differently. Ten witnesses of an accident can swear they saw the whole event, but each one of their stories may differ. The same thing happens, but worse, when laymen read nutritional scientific literature. All too often at best they only skim the small print to find solace in statements they prefer.

Worst of all for confounding individual realities are today’s Internet stories which, when proven exciting, are often parroted by the media because doing so draws more followers. All that attention tends to validate the stories no matter their credibility. Dr. Brittany Seymour, an assistant professor of oral health policy and epidemiology at Harvard University, says that when faced with information overload “objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

So herein lies the problem. Objective facts are less influential!