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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.

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.

Cancer Risks Higher for Vegetarians

Column #145

When reading the “news,” most often the anti-meat story is told and retold. So we meat eaters always enjoy a little negative vegan news now and then. It came recently when London’s “The Telegraph,” an award-winning, multimedia news brand, published an article titled: “Long term vegetarian diet changes human DNA raising risk of cancer and heart disease” by Sarah Knapton.

Ms. Knapton’s article was based on a report by Kumar S. D. Kothapalli, et al., at Cornell University published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. The long-winded title is: “Positive Selection on a Regulatory Insertion–Deletion Polymorphism in FADS2 Influences Apparent Endogenous Synthesis of Arachidonic Acid.”

Unsurprisingly, with a title that makes your eyes roll back into your head, it’s no wonder the 2016 report took a couple of years to surface in a mainstream publication. So what does it say in layman’s terms about cancer risks and the vegan way?

How Fast Can the EFA Ratio Change?

Column #144

People frequently ask me about how long it takes to lower a high Omega-6 (n-6) to Omega-3 (n-3) essential fatty acid (EFA) ratio. Of course it all depends on an individual’s commitment, but a recent study provides a clue as to how fast it can change.

A couple of years ago Slanker Grass-Fed Meat, along with other Omega-3 food producers, assisted the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Military by providing food for a study. The published study was titled “Blood Fatty Acid Changes in Healthy Young Americans” by Andrew J. Young, et. al., and it analyzed how far and how fast a good diet changes the EFA ratio.

True Cost of Eating Meat

Column #143

A reader sent this comment: “I wanted you to be aware of this article and perhaps you can send them some truth about what you are doing. Their article does not even talk about the great grass-fed options and is a total slam against what you do. Healthy grass-fed meats will continue to be a part of our diet.” TF

The article, “What is the true cost of eating meat?” was written by Bibi van der Zee and published in “The Guardian” on May 7, 2018.

My knee-jerk response, based on a brief scan of the article, was: “This is a typical article written by someone with an agenda using imaginary ‘facts.’ Trying to tell folks like that anything is a total waste of time and energy. They have beliefs which can’t be changed even with facts.” Then I did more research and came up with some surprising facts.

Obese Pets and Children

Column #142

Most pet foods are nutritionally deficient. Sure there are some really good ones out there, but most are not. Why most? Because people want cheap and convenient and are easily swayed with politically correct keywords. The alternative, getting the nutrition right, requires study and gumption to move beyond conventional wisdom.

Because of the kind of food they’re fed, nearly all dogs and cats are overweight these days. Pet owners don’t even view their obese pets as having a problem. In fact, they associate “meat on the ribs” as good health and only the grossly obese pets are considered overweight. A similar issue exists with children where fully one third are overweight. More on that below.

Opioid’s Dark Side: More Pain

Column #141

Once again the medical community loses another round in the opioid crisis. Two and a half years ago I wrote about this in “Can Food Compete with Pills?” You may recall this line, “Fully 25% of Oregon’s four million residents take prescription opioids.” Since then the problem has gotten worse.

Some people believe the opioid epidemic was caused in part because in the 1990s the pharmaceutical industry assured the government that prescription opioids were safe. Now it’s estimated that in 2017 there were more than 66,000 overdose deaths. And wouldn’t you know it, paradoxically, with all these pain killers people may be living with even more pain than ever.

Treating COPD with Omega-3

Column #140

“COPD, the fifth-leading cause of death worldwide, is characterized by chronic inflammation” according to the opening statement by Wataru Matsuyama, MD, PhD, et.al., in 2005.

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and asthma are similar although the inflammation markers differ. Asthma often starts during childhood and the symptoms typically increase with exposure to allergens and triggers such as pollen, animal dander, and dust mites. Sometimes asthma disappears with age.

COPD primarily hits adults over the age of 40. The classic case is an older current or ex-smoker with progressive shortness of breath and decreasing physical activity (often assumed to be a sign of old age). COPD is usually associated with a long history of smoking or exposure to air pollution while asthma impacts both smokers and non-smokers.

By 2020, COPD is expected to be the world’s third leading cause of death. It’s also considered incurable by the medical community and associations for COPD and lung disease. To no one’s surprise, those groups do not recommend diet as a critically important lifestyle change for addressing COPD. But it could be the most important change and here’s why.

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.