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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.

Wall Street: Cures Don’t Pay

Column #139

On April 10, 2018 Salveen Richter, a stock analyst with Goldman Sachs, issued a report titled “The Genome Revolution.” In it he questioned the future prospects of biotech companies that develop “one-shot” cures. The question came about because a biotech company, Gilead Sciences (GILD), developed a very effective Hepatitis C therapy that is more than 90% effective. In 2015, the therapy’s introductory year, sales reached $12.5 billion. Since then they have declined with projected 2018 sales being only $4 billion.

That caused Richter to wonder: “Is curing patients a sustainable business model?”

The Big Internet Boys

Column #138

There’s always unscrupulous characters around and the Internet is still a “New Frontier” which means it’s loaded with gotchas. Most people learn vicariously or through experience about how to avoid Internet gotchas. But the complexity of the Internet exposes everyone to a limitless number of hidden scams and gotchas that provide billions of dollars to the Big Boys and two-bit scammers.

The first practical schematics for the Internet were developed in the early 1960s. I first heard about email in the early 1980s. WWW was introduced in 1990 and there was a lot of talk about how useful the Internet was going to be and I was informed that I just had to get dial-up Internet. But Internet use remained subdued for quite a few years and selling stuff with it was a pipe dream. Then on July 5, 1994 Amazon was created. Google was founded in 1998. Facebook launched on February 4, 2004. Now nearly everyone on earth has heard of the Internet and most people use it daily. That in itself is extraordinary.

Information hacks, computer viruses, and the recent Facebook scandal illustrates how millions and maybe billions of Internet users can be impacted without having a clue that something has occurred. For certain everyone involved with the Internet can be targeted in ways they can’t even imagine. There are too many gotchas for a short paper so I’ll limit my discussion to a couple that impact legitimate Internet retail businesses and their customers.

Fish Oil: Hazardous to Health?

Column #137

Fish oil is a popular Omega-3 supplement. Unfortunately most consumers do not understand how much Omega-3 supplement is required to address the deficiency. They assume a capsule or teaspoon a day puts the check in the box and they’re good to go. They have no clue the Omega-3 deficiency is defined by its ratio to Omega-6 in the membranes of cells.

Omega-6 and Omega-3 are two families of essential fatty acids (EFAs). Being essential means bodies do not synthesize them. They are acquired from food. Thousands of peer-reviewed reports indicate that when a body’s ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 exceeds 4:1 chronic diseases such as autoimmune diseases, heart disease, mental and nervous system disorders, and rapid cancer growth become more prevalent. The ideal ratio by weight is thought to be 1:1. Yet Americans, including those taking an Omega-3 supplement, have ratios well above 10:1 because their diets are mostly foods rich in Omega-6 with very little Omega-3. That’s why small doses of Omega-3 can’t change their high ratios.

Those of us who understand EFA science are concerned enough to properly balance our EFAs with diet and fish oil supplements. But unknown to many is that too much fish oil can be hazardous to health!

Are Chronic Diseases Hereditary?

Column #136

It’s common knowledge that children tend to inherit their parents’ health issues. Doctors expect us to get the same diseases as our parents. Insurance forms ask about our parents’ health when making our health risk assessments. Does this mean chronic diseases are hereditary?

Most of us know people whose health issues followed that of their parents. They even seemed to die with the same chronic diseases at about the same age. So this reinforces the idea that chronic diseases and longevity are hereditary.

With the anecdotal evidence and the words of professionals, should we be doubters?

Missing the Boat

Column #135

Forbes.com posted a meaningful quote by Joseph E. Aoun, President of Northeastern University.

“Lifelong learning is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity.”

Throughout recorded history there have been dark ages, wars, natural disasters, and other setbacks, yet man kept gradually advancing his knowledge. That’s until modern inventions came along such as the printing press, the industrial revolution, computerization, and the Internet that greatly accelerated knowledge in all aspects of life.

Oil is Oil is Fat

Column #134

Oils are popular topics. Some are loved, some despised. Some are healthy, some unhealthy, and some are in vogue like fine wines. Even though oil manufacturers rarely make bogus claims about their products there are many myths out there. It’s primarily because of the health food and healthcare industries. They have effectively created most of the oil and fat myths to the point where the myths are entrenched in food lore. The myths are used by marketers when they promote the supposedly “healthy” characteristics of their favorite oils. Of course the bogus claims are aimed at health-conscience consumers and that's why most discussions about oils are based on myths further cementing their acceptance.

A few generations back people knew very little about fat and ate a lot of it. They weren’t very particular about which fats either, yet they had fewer chronic diseases. Is there an association there for why there are more chronic ailments today?

Paralyzing Pain

Column #133

Pain that persists for three months or more is defined as chronic pain. Every day 66 million Americans are dealing with pain. For many it’s so intense they’re literally paralyzed by it. Their chronic pain can be caused by a pinched nerve, an intestinal disorder, or joint inflammation. A surprising number of victims are middle aged. Less surprising is that more than half of all seniors, 65 to 79, have chronic pain. More than two-thirds of seniors over 80 live with constant pain. Many of the very aged are so crippled with pain, all they can do is lay motionless in bed and hope to die.

Can we avoid severe pain and dependance on the painkillers that lose their effectiveness over time? Or is pain an age-related affliction that can’t be avoided?

I keep emphasizing the importance of “quality of life.” Most people associate it with family, good times, good jobs, and nice material possessions. Rarely do they put overall health first on the list. That’s sad because health eventually impacts every single aspect of their lives.

Medical Malpractice

Column #132

Is medical malpractice a common practice? The medical industry rakes in 18% of the GNP which makes for really deep pockets. That’s why attorneys beat the bushes for victims of various drugs and medical procedures. Every so often they strike it rich. Some years ago a team of attorneys in Texas sued the tobacco companies and struck it rich after splitting $3.3 billion. Obviously there’s big money in suing.

I don’t watch a lot of television, but when I do I’m amazed by how many ads promote prescription drugs, medical devices, and various medical procedures. The ads are surprisingly effective in spite of a long list of warnings (including death). Of course, they portray images of really happy people using their drugs. On the same channel, and often during the same program, there are attorney ads asking if you’ve been harmed by this or that drug or medical procedure. What a world!

Sugar = Sugar = Sugar

Column #131

Sugar is essential for all animal life including humans. Glucose, a simple sugar, powers muscles, the brain, and all other body functions. Glucose comes from fruit, starchy foods (grains, beans, and potatoes), and your body creates it when needed.

Since our bodies require sugar, how can it be detrimental to our health? Folks know sugar is addictive. Most know it’s all energy (calories) without any other nutrients and that consuming too much can cause them to put on weight. Tooth decay is caused by acids produced by bacteria as it consumes sugar. And sugar feeds fungi residing in the body causing them to produce damaging mycotoxins. And recently people have been learning that sugar feeds cancerous growths. Yet America’s sweet tooth persists.

Vegan Lunacy

Column #130

Most readers of my column are pretty savvy. Consequently I’m often preaching to a choir that’s fully capable of coming up with important inputs and questions. The most recent example was a response to my column titled “Plant-Based Proteins” from Pat who had the following choice commentary.

If vegetarians, vegans, etc., are so against animal products, why do they try so hard to replicate the taste of animal products? Because they know animals taste good. But their efforts are in vain as far as I can tell. I haven’t found one veggie product purporting to be a faux beef patty, for example, that wasn’t full of a ton of artificial ingredients that I try to avoid at all costs. And the few I’ve tried tasted like watery cardboard.

On another note, I wonder if you’ve ever written a column on the idiocy of people using egg substitutes or egg whites only when cooking or eating out because they fear the cholesterol. If not, I hope you write one soon.

Also, the lunacy of “turkey bacon.”