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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 Smell of Money

Column #124

For some years now the EPA has proposed rules for monitoring and controlling smells from livestock. They say it’s necessary for stopping global warming.

My grandfather had a small farm, typical of the 1930s through early 1960s era. It was in Washington state with a grand view of Mount St. Helens. He had laying hens, pigs, milk cows, a team of draft horses, and raised field crops plus a vegetable garden. By the time I was five years old, I was already well acquainted with farm smells.

Naturally, farm life includes the smells and sights of the great outdoors. Soil, crops, wild flowers, grass, trees, streams, and pure fresh air all have their distinctive aromas and seasonal images. But the animals are the heart of the operation.

Okay, Back to Basics

Column #123

The festive holiday season with its almost daily over indulgences will soon be behind us. It’s also when we ring in the New Year and for many of us, it’s a focused time for self reflection.

As the new year dawns many of us will review the paths we’ve taken regarding our occupations, leisure time, health, lifestyle, family relations, location, finances, and other decisions and events. After some contemplation, many will wish for some changes here and there. Most will just shrug and go on. Some will actually take steps to initiate some changes yet most of them will give up in a few months if not a few weeks. Change is not easy.

The Paris Climate Accord and Beef

Column #122

Mankind’s beliefs often transcend reality. I could spend days just listing popular modern manias and unfounded beliefs that the masses have bought into hook, line, and sinker. One would think that in our internet-connected world the truth would prevail more than ever before. Instead, myths rule maybe more than ever before.

History provides thousands of interesting examples of myths and erroneous beliefs. There was a time people believed the sun orbited the earth and the earth was flat. From 1630 to 1637 Hollanders invested in tulip bulbs and prices soared to unimaginable heights. When the tulip market collapsed to zero it took Holland over 100 years to recover. For nearly 400 years the tulip mania was considered the biggest market mania of all time. In December 2017 the Bitcoin mania exceeded its record climb. But I digress.

One of today’s truly modernistic flipped-out ideas is now coming courtesy of the Paris Climate Accord (PCA). The PCA wants to solve global warming by taxing offending agricultural commodities. The primary agricultural target is: beef! I’m not making this up.

Panic Attacks

Column #121

A panic attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming anxiety and fear that’s triggered without the presence of actual danger. Its symptoms are similar to “fight-or-flight” which is provoked by identifiable dangers. In a panic attack the heart pounds and breathing becomes labored which causes fear of dying. This is the human brain in action.

A panic attack can be a one-time event, but usually there are repeat episodes. The recurrent attacks can be triggered by situations, especially those that have caused prior panic attacks such preparing for a speech or similar high-anxiety events.

Anxiety is slightly heritable and frequently co-occurs with depression to an extent that some psychiatrists think they may be twin disorders. Like depression, panic attacks strike twice as many females as males.

Per normal, medical professionals treat panic attacks with numerous drugs all of which have side effects. The most prescribed are the antidepressants Paxil, Prozac, or Zoloft and the benzodiazepines Ativan, Valium, or Xanax.

Harsh Chemicals

Column #120

Many people are concerned about harsh chemicals and frequently express their concerns for air quality (indoors and outdoors), cleaning products, food contaminants, lawn treatments, and water purity. Marketers advertise the organic, nontoxic nature and purity of their products, and the advantages of buying their cleansing gizmos. Consumers buy into their claims because they fear for their health. Yet rarely do consumers ask if the increased cost of purifying their environment is actually eliminating the harsh chemicals that cause their health issues.

Cystic Fibrosis and Omega-3

Column #119

Animal bodies are marvelous “machines” designed for survival. Yet because there’s genetic diversity within each life form, mutations occur. This results in some individuals being significant outliers to the norm with inherited strengths or flaws. Strengths are good, but flaws can compromise physical abilities, health, and longevity. For instance, there’s a genetic mutation in humans that causes Cystic Fibrosis (CF), the most common recessive life-threatening illness in North America.

CF is considered incurable although modern medical approaches have extended life spans up to 50 years. CF dietary recommendations have assisted but they mostly parrot the USDA’s guidelines with supplements of fat-soluble vitamins and fat. I wonder--could a diet of low glycemic, nutrient dense and diverse foods with 1:1 ratios of Omega-6 to Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) do a better job?

Low-Fat Risks

Column #118

Everyone with an interest in a healthy diet should become familiar with Dr. James DiNicolantonio and his publications. His research focuses on cardiovascular health and disease--specifically, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, lipids, antithrombotics, anticoagulants, as well as nutrition and nutritional supplements. He’s a cardiovascular research scientist at the Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri and has authored or co-authored over 120 medical publications encompassing opinion pieces, review articles, and systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Many of his publications challenge the dietary guidelines recommended by the medical community and USDA. His publication “The Cardiometabolic Consequences of Replacing Saturated Fats with Carbohydrates or Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fats: Do the Dietary Guidelines Have it Wrong?” is an excellent example based on 39 peer-reviewed studies.

Being Thankful is Healthy

Column #117

Thanksgiving is a unique holiday. It’s religious yet it’s not, therefore everyone can participate no matter their faith or lack thereof. This gives everyone an opportunity to give thanks to their creator, benefactors, life in general, or anything they feel good about to bolster their outlook on life.

These columns usually focus on improving health and well-being with diet but Thanksgiving provides an important time to look beyond food and discuss how mental attitudes impact health.

For many people, being thankful and positive doesn’t come naturally. They live in the state of Thanksgiving antonyms such as ingratitude and ungratefulness. These often go hand-in-hand with depression, self deprecation, intolerance, and hate.

No Money In It

Column #116

The law of supply-demand states that shortages coupled with rising demand causes higher prices and vice versa. But it doesn’t always apply on a permanent basis. That’s because increasing prices can inspire an increasing supply which results in lower prices.

Unless commodity producers significantly increase their volume versus fixed costs, more demand for their commodity doesn’t mean earnings increase. Because of a fast response time for changing crops, farmers and ranchers gain little or nothing as people change their food preferences. It’s also why agricultural producers can’t afford to fund aggressive long-term marketing programs. There’s simply no money in it.

To illustrate why there’s no incentive for farmers to advertise foods people should eat as recommended by nutritional and biological scientists, let’s compare agricultural commodity producers with healthcare.

Absolute vs Relative

Column #115

If consumers can’t figure out the differences between absolute and relative they can be victimized by some of the biggest marketing gotchas out there. This is also a media issue that tricks people into reading and often believing stories that are actually irrelevant, especially those discussing foods, supplements, and nutritional studies.

Simply put, references for absolute differences involve subtraction. References for relative differences express ratios. So how do these declarations regarding the same topic lead to so much confusion?

I Googled the world for Omega-3 chicken. I found a source in England from a Daily Mirror article. It is Waitrose Omega 3 Chicken. The Mirror article stated that the chicken is “high in Omega 3.” So I wondered, what is “high”?