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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.


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.

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.”

Plant-Based Proteins

Column #129

Drum roll pleeeease . . . .

Coming down the red carpet at your local fast food restaurant and even in the meat section of your favorite grocery store is . . . meatless meat!

Yes, in order to save you and the planet, the pied pipers are grooming another round of unsubstantiated gobbledegook to ram down the throats of clueless consumers.

They’re using several marketing angles to sell us on the idea that eating vegetable proteins versus actual meat is a better option. They say their concocted artificial meat provides food that’s healthier than real meat and saves the planet at the same time. Naturally their hardcore pitch starts with: “animals are killed.” Then they claim:

EFA Education--What’s This?

Column #128

Most health conscience consumers have a difficult time separating con artists from legitimate sources. Unfortunately our internet connected world is partly to blame. The internet is a wonderful invention but too often it’s no better than village gossip. It has several drawbacks.

Communicating with emails leaves a lot to be desired versus the telephone or better yet face-to-face discussions. It’s easy for websites to have the trappings of legitimate sources of information on various topics, but behind the scenes they’re simply using common knowledge, schmooze, and scaremongering to power their heavy-handed marketing. On the other hand, more genuinely authoritative sites are relatively boring and far less visited.

The President’s Physician

Column #127

Dr. Ronny Jackson, White House physician to the president, has cared for three presidents since joining the White House medical unit in 2006. In 2013 President Obama formally named him physician to the president.

On January 16, 2018 he presented his findings on President Trump’s health status and mental acuity. His bottom line was that Trump is in excellent health and had a perfect score on a cognitive exam.

What’s most interesting about Jackson’s briefing is his conformity to conventional wisdom. That reminded me of the physicians who treated George Washington during his last hours. An historical account is:

Why Is Red Meat Bad?

Column #126

There’s an unrelenting wave of fear sweeping the nation regarding red meat. Everywhere we turn we’re being told red meat is unhealthy and it should be avoided. Of all the hand-wringing concerns about red meat, only two are blamed for causing chronic diseases. One is red meat has saturated fat and cholesterol. The other is that when red meat is cooked at high temperatures it causes cancer.

Charred meat is definitely carcinogenic. Cooking until well-done, deep-fat frying, and high temperatures that char beef, pork, fish, and poultry produces two cancer-causing substances: heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Both are mutagenic, which means they cause changes in DNA that increase cancer risks with frequent consumption. Reduced cooking times and temperatures lower HCA levels. PAHs result from charring meat, so either not charring the meat or scraping off the burnt bits helps to reduce PAHs.

Designer Foods and Drugs

Column $125

Timothy O’Shea, PharmD says “Each year, an estimated 4.5 million Americans visit a physician’s office or emergency room because of side effects related to their prescription medications.” That’s 12,329 victims per day.

On the Harvard Edmon J. Safra Center for Ethics blog, Donald W. Light wrote that: “Few know that systematic reviews of hospital charts found that even properly prescribed drugs (aside from misprescribing, overdosing, or self-prescribing) cause about 1.9 million hospitalizations a year. Another 840,000 hospitalized patients are given drugs that cause serious adverse reactions for a total of 2.74 million serious adverse drug reactions. About 128,000 people die from drugs prescribed to them. This makes prescription drugs a major health risk, ranking 4th with stroke as a leading cause of death.”