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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.

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,, 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.

Fish Oil: Hazardous to Health?

Column #137

Fish oil is a popular Omega-3 supplement. Unfortunately most consumers do not understand how much Omega-3 supplement is required to address the deficiency. They assume a capsule or teaspoon a day puts the check in the box and they’re good to go. They have no clue the Omega-3 deficiency is defined by its ratio to Omega-6 in the membranes of cells.

Omega-6 and Omega-3 are two families of essential fatty acids (EFAs). Being essential means bodies do not synthesize them. They are acquired from food. Thousands of peer-reviewed reports indicate that when a body’s ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 exceeds 4:1 chronic diseases such as autoimmune diseases, heart disease, mental and nervous system disorders, and rapid cancer growth become more prevalent. The ideal ratio by weight is thought to be 1:1. Yet Americans, including those taking an Omega-3 supplement, have ratios well above 10:1 because their diets are mostly foods rich in Omega-6 with very little Omega-3. That’s why small doses of Omega-3 can’t change their high ratios.

Those of us who understand EFA science are concerned enough to properly balance our EFAs with diet and fish oil supplements. But unknown to many is that too much fish oil can be hazardous to health!

Are Chronic Diseases Hereditary?

Column #136

It’s common knowledge that children tend to inherit their parents’ health issues. Doctors expect us to get the same diseases as our parents. Insurance forms ask about our parents’ health when making our health risk assessments. Does this mean chronic diseases are hereditary?

Most of us know people whose health issues followed that of their parents. They even seemed to die with the same chronic diseases at about the same age. So this reinforces the idea that chronic diseases and longevity are hereditary.

With the anecdotal evidence and the words of professionals, should we be doubters?

Missing the Boat

Column #135 posted a meaningful quote by Joseph E. Aoun, President of Northeastern University.

“Lifelong learning is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity.”

Throughout recorded history there have been dark ages, wars, natural disasters, and other setbacks, yet man kept gradually advancing his knowledge. That’s until modern inventions came along such as the printing press, the industrial revolution, computerization, and the Internet that greatly accelerated knowledge in all aspects of life.

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!