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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.

The Law of the Instrument

Column #155

There’s an old saying that “if the only tool you have is a hammer, you’ll tend to treat everything as if it were a nail.” I’ve been accused of having a one tool approach to health and disease due to my seemingly myopic fix on the essential fatty acid (EFA) ratio. Without reservation I claim that the totality of the food we eat has a larger than life impact on the body’s ability to function optimally. And when I say that, I’m referring to chronic diseases which MedicineNet defines as inflictions that “cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured by medication, nor do they just disappear.”

Since I’m so adamant about the impact of diet on health, few recognize that I also pound the table for sleep, exercise, stress management, mold eradication, and other physical and mental approaches to improving our health and well being. I also state that modern medicine has done wonders in areas of injuries, bacterial and viral infections, poisonings, some birth defects, and communicable diseases. On the other hand, modern medicine doesn’t cure chronic diseases nor does it give diet its due.

Football, Brains, and Omega-3

#154

The average college football player has the same Omega-3 essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiency as most Americans. Unfortunately, that’s a dangerous situation. After years of research a team of scientists at Texas Christian University (TCU) concluded that the Omega-3 deficiency restricts the healing of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI).

Very few people understand how the Omega-3 deficiency is determined even though scientists have been explaining it for more than 40 years. It’s really simple. It’s based on the balance of EFAs. The Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are in the membranes of the cells of the human body. For optimal health the EFAs must be balanced approximately 1:1 by weight. When the balance exceeds 4:1 (more Omega-6) the Omega-3 deficiency is fully apparent and chronic diseases start occurring.

Science Does Not . . .

Column #153

I read a lot of peer-reviewed reports involving nutrition and its impact on a wide variety of chronic diseases. The reports are written by accredited scientists in biology, nutrition, medicine, pharmacology, and more. Over the many years I’ve noticed two significant points in the vast majority of reports regarding the diet’s impact on health.

The first point is that nutritional science has not changed very much in the past 50 years. Scientists keep testing theories and the studies performed by others and they tend to come to the same conclusions over and over again. Naturally there have been many refinements and sometimes new breakthroughs. But the bottom line hasn’t shifted very much.

Battling the Establishment

Column #152

In 1999 I was encouraging local ranchers to raise grass-fed cattle to improve their cash flow and raise a healthier product for the American consumer. I believed it would be a slam dunk for ranchers. The feed stores in the area were not very enthusiastic about the message even though they sell hay and alfalfa pellets as well as grain. Some were downright uncivil. Feedlot owners were hostile. It wasn’t long before Slanker was persona non grata with many cattlemen in the area because the establishment claimed that the grass-fed science was quackery. Only a handful of independent thinkers ended up comprehending the science and embracing the grass-fed story. To date the situation hasn’t changed much.

People get entrenched in their ways and nearly all levels of government are controlled by powerful monied interests with political clout. The establishment uses various media platforms as advertising to get the masses lined up behind their particular views. Activist journalism is one of their best mediums for focusing mob rule. In the end the mob ends up playing into their hands as they follow corrupt politicians and a manipulative media. If you think that kind of stuff is old fashioned silent movie stuff, think again. It’s never been more intense than it is today.

Phony Grass-Fed

Column #151

Just like the “Natural” label, the meaning of the “Grass-Fed” label is now questionable. If your goal is to eat healthy foods, you’re in need of some tips on how to avoid being conned. When it comes to grass-fed meats, it’s buyer beware.

The slippery slope got underway with gusto in January 2016 when the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service revoked its approval process for use of its “grass-fed” beef marketing label. Since all beef cattle spend part of their life on pasture, many retailers just assume that being grass-fed at one time means grass-fed forever. Let me explain the consequences of that with a real life example of a grass-fed steak purchased from a large trusted retailer.

Buying Local Pros and Cons

Column #150

I’ve always been a big fan of buying local. When dealing with local merchants you’re building the local community which is a win/win for all.

But . . . of all the many reasons given that is the only reason for why buying local food is the proper thing to do. Unfortunately the rest of the nice sounding PC reasons for buying local have few pros and lots of cons.

Is Home Cooking Impractical?

Column #149

What if I said home cooking wasn’t economical, wasn’t practical, was too complicated, required too much time, and wasn’t fun? Most Americans would agree!

American eating habits have changed quite a bit in the past 60 years. In many homes family members eat in shifts rather than together. Grazing is replacing more formal sit-down meals. Instant and microwave meals are replacing prepared meals.

It’s reported that anywhere from 10% to as many as 40% of all school-aged children and adults literally skip breakfast because they do not have time for it. Yet breakfast may be the most important meal of the day because skipping it is associated with slightly higher inflammation and heart issues. In 2017 the American Heart Association reported that breakfast-eaters tend to have slightly lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

In addition to desiring convenience a growing number of adults also want to dine in exciting sports bars, exotic settings with magnificent views, and in the relaxed ambience of private clubs. They’ve developed a mind set that eating at home is boring. The urge to eat out is so strong today that Americans now spend slightly more than half of their food budget eating away from home.

Interpreting Omega-3 Blood Tests

Column #148

Lipid Technologies (LT) is my favorite testing lab for analyzing essential fatty acid (EFA) profiles. I use them frequently to analyze meats and other food products. What’s most exciting for the consuming public is their simple, self-testing, mail-in blood test. The results along with the interpretations are available in a couple of weeks by mail or email.

LT provides a brochure targeted to physicians to assist them in interpreting the test results. But unless one has been studying EFA science for awhile, the wording and tables can be confusing. Unfortunately even most doctors don’t understand it so I’m going to condense and simplify LT’s brochure to hopefully provide a layman’s interpretation. The tables are from the brochure.

Why Should We Care About Our EFA Profile?

Food Prices and Spending

Column #147

Most Americans wouldn’t believe it if I told them their food cost as a percent of income is the lowest in the world. But the stats don’t lie. On food that’s consumed at home, American households spend just 6.4% of their household income! At 56.4% of their household incomes Nigerians spend the most with Kenya second highest at 46.7%.

Statistics comparing household expenditures for food to household incomes always show that citizens of more advanced nations pay less for food. People can only eat so much food yet their incomes are not limited. It’s the same inside a country too. During the past 25 years America’s top 20% wealthiest households spent 6.5% to 9.2% of their income while the poorest 20% of households spent between 28.8% and 42.6% on food.

Actual amounts spent on food that’s consumed at home are also skewed by household wealth as noted above. On a per capita basis Americans spend $2,392 per year, Nigerians spend $1,132, and Kenyans spend only $543. Can you imagine, Kenyans only spend $1.50 per person per day!

Atrial Fibrillation: Its Cause Is Elusive

Column #146

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) is one of the more common of all heart conditions. It’s essentially a quivering or fluttering heartbeat caused by the abnormal firing of electrical impulses that cause the atria (the top chambers in the heart) to quiver (or fibrillate). The “Rotterdam Study” by Jan Heeringa, et al. states that AFib is “associated with substantial mortality and morbidity from thrombo-embolism, heart failure, and impaired cognitive function.”

The study also indicates that as a general population gets older, AFib will become a greater financial health burden. That’s because the incidence rate increases from 0.7% in the 55–59 age group to 17.8% for those 85 and older. At 55 years of age the lifetime risk to develop AFib is 23.8% in men and 22.2% in women.

The causes of AFib span the whole gamut of possibilities and the list of natural solutions is meager at best. Even Omega-3 supplement studies show little promise in subduing AFib. With virtually no one solution fitting everyone, that in itself indicates AFib may require a very broad-based approach.