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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.

Mitochondria Made Easy

Column #164

One treads on shaky ground when trying to make the complex simple because simplification leaves out details. For that reason experts need to give those of us who attempt simplification a little latitude as we try to explain mitochondria to the general public.

Everyone with a keen interest in health has heard about the mitochondria. Yet most folks can’t explain what they are, where they’re located, their function, or how they impact health. So what are mitochondria?

A cell is the smallest structural and functional unit of an organism. Its four primary parts are: membrane, cytoplasm, organelle, and nucleus.

Just the Facts EBN EBM

Column #163

I’m a stickler for getting “evidence-based” information no matter the topic. It’s one reason why I provide reference material at the end of my columns. Unfortunately, reading in-depth scientific literature is not the most entertaining thing to do. That’s why in most cases, when it comes to nutrition, videos, media articles, and product brochures are usually very limited in scope, provide selective science, and are crafted to be engaging and emotionally stirring. As a result, most people rarely have in-depth knowledge which tends to make them react spontaneously to labels and supposed gurus without examination and, consequently, without understanding.

Grass-Fed vs Grain-Fed

Column #162

There are many more differences between grass-fed and grain-fed beef than just their balances of Omega-6 (n6) to Omega-3 (n3) essential fatty acids (EFAs). In 2010, Cynthia A. Daley and her team of researchers examined some of the differences in a review study based on 30 years of research. It’s titled: “A Review of Fatty Acid Profiles and Antioxidant Content in Grass-Fed and Grain-Fed Beef.”

The goals of the review were to investigate the nutrient claims for grass-fed beef and discuss the effects these specific nutrients have on human health.

A medley of quotes from their report tells the story.

Lab-Grown Meat

Column #161

The earth is home to over seven billion people. A good number of them, more than ever before, are thinking about building better mousetraps. Consequently you’ve got to figure some better ones will come along. As they do each advancement is called new technology and new industries are created. That’s why it’s so amazing what’s being done these days and more amazing about what’s coming.

Recently we’ve been hearing a lot about veggie burgers. But are they being shoved aside by lab-grown or cultured meat? The science for cultured meat is an outgrowth of biotechnology’s tissue engineering field. It does not involve genetic engineering. It’s simply adding a collagen matrix (taken from either living or deceased animals) to adult muscle stem cells from a live animal and bathing them in a culture media of primarily photosynthetic algae and cyanobacteria.

Now if you think that growing meat in a petri dish is pretty far fetched, think again. Even Tyson, the huge Arkansas-based meat company that processes chicken, beef, and pork, recently bought out two fledgling cultured meat companies. Not to be left behind, Cargill recently announced an investment in Memphis Meats which has the proven technology and potential to commercialize cultured meat protein.

Changing the Conversation

Column #160

Food is always a hot topic of conversation. People love to tell you about their latest find and how yummy good it was. In that regard discussions involving food are always fun until the moment nutrition and health are mentioned. Then the topic becomes more toxic than religion and politics.

It’s amazing that most people rate the quality of their food by how much pleasure there is in eating it. They consume food and drink with their only thought being that it must be emotionally satisfying. The concept of matching their body’s chemical needs with the chemistry of the foods they ingest is something they don’t consider in the slightest.

John Myers told me about a little trick he uses if a conversation turns to food. You see, John is fully aware of food chemistry and our bodies’ basic chemical needs. So you know he just won’t jump up and down with joy over the latest deep fat fried thing or sugary desert that everyone is rejoicing over. That’s why when the conversation turns to food, in order to help people understand where his thoughts are, he pulls out a note he always carries. He has found that it often changes the conversation in very dramatic ways. Here’s his note:

 

Sprouts Doesn’t Get It

Column #159

Remember my “Phony Grass-Fed” article reviewing a so-called “100% Grass-Fed” steak from Sprouts Farmers Market? After the article hit several readers forwarded it to Sprouts. The responses they got dovetail with my experiences in dealing with many of the larger grocers.

Back in 2000 I tried to sell grass-fed beef to several grocery chains. Their professional meat buyers thought it was just another wacky idea. Ironically one of the rudest receptions came from Whole Foods. Most others had never even heard of it and had absolutely no interest.

I wrote to beef publications about grass-fed beef and, except for some small progressive ones, most mainstream editors were more than rude. They openly mocked me and called me nuts. The “really professional” cattlemen, at that time and still to this day, are either quite hostile to the idea of grass-fed beef or they just nod and go on. The main reason for that response is that they literally raise an inferior product and do not like the grass-fed comparison.

Stories and Your Reptilian Brain

Column #158

We all have a brain. What many people do not realize is that it’s three brains in one. The three parts are called the reptilian, limbic, and neocortex brains. They have many interconnecting pathways which mean they cannot operate separately. Yet one section can influence the others.

Politicians and marketers know how your brain works and they use that knowledge to their own advantage. Therefore, don’t you think it’s important for you to also understand how your brain functions so you have a better understanding of how their tactics work on you?

Carbohydrates Increase Longevity?

Column #157

A recently released, NIH-sponsored nutrition study made headlines all across the nation. Most of the headlines were like this one:

“Moderate Carbohydrate Intake Optimal for Health, Longevity”

Most reviews ran with this quote: “These data also provide further evidence that animal-based low carbohydrate diets should be discouraged. Alternatively, when restricting carbohydrate intake, replacement of carbohydrates with predominantly plant-based fats and proteins could be considered as a long-term approach to promote healthy aging.”

The conclusion most people gain from this summary is that the best diet is one that restricts meats and animal fats. But is that true? After carefully reading the study, I agree with its conclusion--based on the data--but it is also misleading. Is this another case of blind men describing an elephant?

Salt Water

Column #156

Water is essential for life. It’s critical for regulating body temperature, preventing constipation, flushing out waste and toxins, and performing all major bodily functions. As with all essential inputs, there is such as a thing as too little or too much. Interestingly, water and sodium go hand in hand. Our bodies require both in a proper balance. Like water, sodium is essential which means it must be consumed to have it. Sodium is an electrolyte that helps regulate the amount of water that’s in and around cells

Even though sodium is in meat and vegetables, our primary source for it is salt. Salt is a chemical compound composed of two minerals paired together--sodium and chloride (NaCl). Salt is called an ionic compound which means the ions are held together by electrostatic forces termed ionic bonding. Sodium atoms weigh less than chloride atoms therefore 100 grams (g) of NaCl contain 39.34 g Na and 60.66 g Cl.

When we consume salt, we are ingesting two elements. Did you know that chloride is also essential for life? We’ll get back to chloride momentarily. But first there’s more we need to know about water and sodium.

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.