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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.

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!

Drug Use in America

Column #198

Everyone knows a lot of people take prescription drugs. But the actual number of Americans taking prescription drugs is absolutely staggering. You won’t believe the data.

What’s also amazing is that seemingly there’s no price resistance for prescription drugs. Normally, when prices for things increase relative to all other things, demand for them can suffer. That’s basic Economics 101. But when it comes to prescription drugs, that hasn’t been the case.

Eric Topol, MD, of Scripps Research in La Jolla, California, and colleagues in JAMA Network Open, studied the pricing of 49 common top-selling brand name drugs. Twenty-one of them doubled or more in price from January 2012 through December 2017. Among the drugs available since the beginning of that period, 39 saw a rise in out-of-pocket and insurer costs of over 50%.

Humane Slaughter

Column #197

This is one of the hottest of hot buttons for all consumers. If I were to take a poll, I’d bet that over 90% of all American food buyers would agree that livestock raised for food are not treated nor slaughtered humanly.

When the universal assumption is that nearly all livestock are abused, how does one go about answering the many loaded questions regarding humane treatment and slaughter? I’m asked about it all the time and it’s just like being asked, “Have you stopped beating your wife?”

This humane slaughter issue is why Terrence O’Keefe, editor of Egg Industry and content director at WATT Global Media, was so disappointed with “The Onion” when it published an article titled: “Tyson Holds Contest To Let Fans Submit New Ideas For Torturing Chicken To Death.”

Too Scientific?

Column #196

Can discussions and recommendations surrounding nutrition and diets be too scientific? A recent article posted online by Precision Nutrition (PN) addressed that very topic. PN is a Personal Coaching, Professional Education service that coaches people in their desire to overcome health issues. They are very scientific, but they are also well aware of the many additional and varied steps that are required by individuals in the practical application of nutritional science.

I’m more of a commentator and reporter than a scientist in the trenches or a health coach. In that capacity my focus is based on food chemistry, what bodies require, how bodies react, how the best foods are raised, and how we can protect agriculture and food processors from ridiculous laws and myths. Only marginally do I comment on sleep, exercise, stress management, and the myriad of personal differences that saddle us all. My narrow nutritional focus is heavily based on science. I also have considerable ranching experience which is why I comment on misguided beliefs we are all subjected to these days. Therefore all too often my comments are not politically correct and readers outside the center of the bell curve can get upset.

We Need Inflammation, but . . .

Column #195

Inflammation is both a cure and a curse. All of us have experienced it at one time or another. As part of our body’s immune response, it’s necessary for healing and that literally makes it essential for survival. But lingering inflammation is something else and it is the most significant cause of death in the world.

The clinical names for inflammation are either “acute” or “chronic.” Acute refers to responses to bacterial infections, viruses, injuries, and medical operations. Chronic inflammation is a persistent autoimmune disease that plays a central role in rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, allergies, and even Alzheimer’s.

Symptoms of acute inflammation progress quickly and, in a short period of time, can become severe. In addition to the symptoms from an infection or injury, such as having a runny nose or a bleeding cut, one will also feel pain and/or some irritation as damaged areas turn red, swollen, and become warmer. The pain or discomfort associated with noticeable inflammation occurs when the body’s arteries expand in order to supply more blood to the damaged region. Also fluid and proteins are increased in the infected areas as the body releases a type of white blood cell called a neutrophil.

OneNYC 2050 . . . What?????

Column #194

In honor of Earth Day, April 22, 2019, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City has its own Green New Deal which he calls “OneNYC 2050.” His office described it as “a bold and audacious plan to attack global warming on all fronts.”

Of course OneNYC 2050 will not impact climate change on a global scale. It’s more focused on changing lifestyles and infrastructures in the City with an objective of reducing emissions 30% by the year 2030. And that’s not its only goal. NYC’s Green New Deal is “structured” to solve income inequality, generate tens of thousands of good-paying jobs, retrofit buildings, provide better healthcare, and increase the usage of renewable energy.

Now I’m not opposed to progress and I’ve spent decades striving to be a better steward of the environment. Most ranchers and farmers are like that too because they want to be more sustainable with each generation. And, of course, what the people in the City do is their own business. But I see some aspects of NYC’s plan that will not benefit the health of its citizens--especially underprivileged children. In that regard its “plan” becomes everyone’s business.

Meet the Carnivores

Column #193

In a 2017 column titled “Science or Belief” I stated that “Man cannot only survive but thrive eating a diet of only meat.” That statement was based on the nutritional characteristics of grass-fed meats and the knowledge that the green leaf is the foundation food for all animal life. Of course, in this day and age nearly everyone (especially medical personnel) thinks the idea is preposterous. But is it?

I’m only aware of one controlled study where subjects ate meat and nothing but meat for a year. The results were published in 1930 in a report titled “Prolonged Meat Diets with a Study of Kidney Function and Ketosis.” Dr. Vilhjalmur Stefansson, one of the two participants in the study, had spent more than 11 years in arctic exploration. For nine years he said he had lived almost exclusively on meat. But like today, back then there were doubters.

In spite of the today’s widespread belief that eating just a little meat is detrimental to one’s health, there’s actually a growing number of people who call themselves “carnivores.” They are dedicated “health nuts” who eat nothing but meat in order to improve their health. Let me introduce four of them.

Microwave Nutrition Quiz

Column #192

Which cooking method is best for retaining nutrients in broccoli?
1. Boiling broccoli in a pot of water on a stove?
2. Heating broccoli in covered glass bowl in a microwave?

What’s best for your health?
1. Frying bacon in a steel skillet?
2. Cooking bacon in a microwave?

Which method is more energy efficient?
1. Heating up leftovers in a covered container in the oven?
2. Heating up leftovers in a covered glass bowl in the microwave?