Broccoli to the rescue for radiation
- Created on Friday, 18 October 2013 18:52
Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center report a protective benefit for 3,3'-diindolylmethane (DIM), a compound metabolized from indole-3-carbinol which occurs in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, against damage caused by radiation. They are hopeful that this finding could lead to protective therapies for humans undergoing radiation therapy or otherwise exposed to radiation.
"DIM has been studied as a cancer prevention agent for years, but this is the first indication that DIM can also act as a radiation protector," stated coauthor Eliot Rosen, MD, PhD, of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The study involved rats treated with potentially lethal doses of gamma radiation. The animals were divided to receive injections of DIM following periods of up to 24 hours after irradiation. Control groups of rats received injections of an inert substance. "All of the untreated rats died, but well over half of the DIM-treated animals remained alive 30 days after the radiation exposure," reported Dr Rosen, who is a professor of oncology, biochemistry and cell & molecular biology at Georgetown University. "We also showed that DIM enhances the survival time of lethally irradiated mice."
In comparison with untreated animals, mice treated with DIM experienced less of a reduction in red and white blood cells and platelets that normally occurs as a result of radiation therapy. In their introduction to the article, the authors note that low concentrations of the compound have been shown to help protect the cells against oxidative stress.
"DIM could protect normal tissues in patients receiving radiation therapy for cancer, but could also protect individuals from the lethal consequences of a nuclear disaster," Dr Rosen observed.
What I am doing is eating broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables on a regular basis. I anticipate eating a lot of kale this winter because it is growing well and abundantly in my garden, and it is impervious to frost. So, I expect to be harvesting kale regularly from now until April, or at least March.
United pilot has fatal heart attack in flight
- Created on Monday, 07 October 2013 03:07
You may have heard about this. He didn't die immediately. He died on the ground afterwards. Fortunately, the co-pilot was able to land the plane safely. But, they couldn't save him.
My understanding is that he was a very heavy man, like 300 pounds, which is most unusual among pilots from what I have seen.
But, here's what we should think about: He was a commercial pilot, so he was undergoing frequent health checks, including heart checks. I'm sure he had regular blood work and electrocardiogram. And he may have had other heart testing as well.
Apparently, he passed all of it, and they felt he was safe to fly. They were wrong.
What it means is that, despite all the advances, heart disease remains a “hidden disease” in many cases. It is still true that the first sign of having heart disease may be sudden death.
I believe that arteriosclerosis is a natural age-related pathology to which all humans are inclined. I'm saying that everybody gets it – to some extent.
But obviously, if you eat healthily and live healthily, and maintain your weight properly, and do not smoke, and do exercise, you are likely to get much less of it than otherwise.
And I also believe that genetics plays a large role because hundreds of millions of people live conventionally, yet some succumb early to heart disease while others live long in spite of having the same lifestyle and influences.
Obviously, you can't change your genetics, but you can change your diet and your lifestyle, and it's going to do a lot of good no matter what. But, the point I am trying to make is that people have got to stop thinking they are “OK” just because they don't have symptoms. The early stages of heart disease are truly invisible. There is no pain. There is no disability. There may even be excellent athletic performance as the arteries are slowly closing and plaque is building up.
So, don't be dismissive about this. Rather, you should assume that you are doomed to have heart disease to some degree, and you are going to do everything possible to minimize the extent of it.
That means eating an unrefined, plant-based diet, which means whole plant foods as the preponderance of what you eat. I don't say you have to be a strict vegetarian to avoid heart disease, but you damn sure ought to be a near- vegetarian. There is simply no good reason to eat vast amounts of animal food. Whatever animal food you eat should be a small part of your diet. Load up on fruits, vegetables, salad greens, beans, raw nuts, whole grains, and anything of animal nature that you eat should comprise only a small and restricted part of your diet.
Otherwise, exercise regularly- very important! Avoid poison habits. Secure sufficient rest and sleep. And consider taking heart-protective supplements such as high-dose Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, fish oil, turmeric, resveratrol, and more. The prevention of heart disease should be a daily preventative practice for all of us. The nightmare of what happened to that United pilot need never be anything that happens to us. If we're smart, we will tend to that very seriously every day.
New worries about elevated mortality among coffee drinkers
- Created on Friday, 16 August 2013 21:41
There is bad news for heavy coffee drinkers from the realm of medical research, and Americans love their coffee -- 64% are regular coffee drinkers. The average coffee drinker chugs 3.1 cups of java a day. But new research shows that men and women under the age of 55 who drink more than 4 cups of coffee a day had a higher risk of dying than their non-coffee-drinking peers.
Researchers looked at over 43,000 adults from 1971 to 2002, and analyzed their coffee consumption, in addition to dozens of demographic and health factors. They found that people under 55 who drank more than 4 cups of coffee a day had a significantly higher risk of dying than those who didn’t drink coffee -- 56% higher for men and 113% higher for women.
The exact reasons for the higher mortality in heavy coffee drinkers aren’t clear; it could be related to stress, high caffeine intake, lack of sleep, or other associated factors. But for those of us who depend on a cup of java to perk us up in the morning, this is certainly a wake-up call.
This is in contrast to a rash of reports about health benefits from coffee, such as better mood and lower risk of diabetes. The good effects of coffee have been attributed to the high antioxidant content. But, the truth is that the reason why coffee is so high in antioxidants is because coffee is a bean. And if you other beans regularly, you can get the antioxidant benefit without the dangers and drug-like effects of coffee.
Beans are the highest antioxidant food on the planet. The top three antioxidant foods in the American diet, according to the USDA, are beans, with red kidney beans topping the list.
I make a point of eating beans regularly- almost every day. Black beans are my favorite right now, but I also like pintos, and I eat red kidney beans too, especially since I know how good they are for us.
People complain about eating beans; they attribute them to causing digestive discomfort, especially gas. But, there are products you can take to reduce that, such as Beano. We offer one called Digestive Enzymes. It’s perfectly safe and effective, and it’s inexpensive.
If you’re not used to eating beans, perhaps you should start slowly. There is nothing wrong with that. Just start with a little scoop or two on your plat, but do it regularly. Over time, I believe you will adjust to eating beans, and you’ll be able to get away with eating more of them.
I find beans to be very hearty and satisfying. Since I don’t eat meat, I often use beans as a substitute. I find beans to be very filling, and they deliver lasting energy. And they are not the least bit fattening. Beans are NOT a food that the body readily turns into body fat.
So, eat some beans, beans, the musical fruit.
And don’t be afraid of a little toot.
Beans will help the way that you feel
So, eat some beans at some of your meals.
The Kite Runner
- Created on Monday, 15 July 2013 02:59
We’ll take a break from health tonight so that I can tell you about this movie I just saw, The Kite Runner. It affected me greatly, and there aren’t that many movies that affect me greatly.
The story begins in Kabul, Afghanistan in the 1970s, and it involves two boys, Amir and Hassan, who were about 13. They were best friends, but it was an unusual friendship because Hassan and his father were servants to Amir and his father. There were no mothers involved. Hassan and his father were of the Hazara community, considered lower class. Best pals Amir and Hassan were often badgered and threatened by a gang of older boys led by Assef. These boys hated Hassan for being Hazara, and they hated Amir for befriending a Hazara and treating him like a human being. It almost came to blows once until Hassan pulled out his slingshot- with which he was expert- and threatened to take out Assef’s eye. So, the older boys backed off. But another time, they trapped Hassan in an alley alone, and they brutally beat him, and then Assef anally raped him. Hassan didn’t know it, but Amir was there, hiding. He saw the whole thing, but out of cowardice, he did nothing.
Everything changed after that. The friendship between Amir and Hassan collapsed. It wasn’t Hassan’s wish at all, but Amir was stricken with soul-battering guilt. And eventually, Amir took devious and cunning action to have Hassan and his father banished from his father’s house. It worked, although not exactly in the way he planned.
Amir wasn’t fundamentally bad- far from it. His nature was to be kind, respectful, and good, and you see it throughout the movie. It’s just that he was in pain from the guilt, and he thought that making Hassan go away would make his pain go away. Of course, it didn’t work out that way.
But then, the Soviet/Afghan war broke out, and Amir and his father had to escape to Pakistan. On the way, there was an incident in which a Russian soldier tried to force himself on an Afghan woman, and it was Amir’s father who stood in the way. But, witnessing his father’s courage – to defend a perfect stranger- only heightened Amir’s self-loathing for having abandoned his friend.
Then, it jumps ahead to where they have immigrated to America. Amir and his father are living in Fremont, California, where there is, apparently, a large Afghan community. They went from being wealthy Afghans to ordinary, working class Americans- but at least they survived the war. Amir is a fine young man who is very devoted to his father, who is ailing. And he is pursuing his lifelong dream of becoming a writer, a novelist. He has graduated from community college, and he seems rather Americanized – he speaks English perfectly- but, he is still attached to his Afghan roots. He falls in love with a beautiful Afghan woman from a well-respected family, and they have a traditional wedding. His father dies soon afterwards. It’s a good marriage, but they are unable to conceive children. He does succeed as a writer, and Amir has definitely made a life for himself, but there is a perennial sadness about him, and the viewer, of course, knows the reason why. The burden of his guilt over what happened with Hassan he wears like an albatross around his neck, and he has no one in whom to confide.
Some years later, Amir receives a call from his father’s best friend, Rahim, who still lives in Pakistan. This man was like an uncle to Amir growing up. Rahim tells Amir that he is dying, but that he would like to see him before dies, and that he has something very important to tell him. So, Amir travels alone to Pakistan, and Rahim informs him that Hassan is dead- killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. But, Hassan had written a letter to Amir, which he entrusted Rahim to deliver. So, trembling, Amir reads the letter from his childhood friend, and from the letter, and from some other things that Rahm tells him, Amir realizes that there is something that he has to do. It’s for Hassan; it’s for his father; and it’s also for himself- a second chance to do the right thing in the face of grave peril. So, he travels into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan on this mission, and to say that it was harrowing doesn’t begin to do it justice. At this point in the story, you are going to be riveted to your seat. I’m not going to say any more about it because I don’t want to spoil it for you. But, let’s just say it’s a story of rising to the vicissitudes of fate, and a story of redemption.
If you’re wondering about the title, it had to do with the sport of kite fighting, which is very popular in Afghanistan. It’s where two kite flyers are maneuvering their kites so that the string of one cuts the string of the other. And when the loser’s kite floats down, the winner gets to keep it. And there’s a team effort involved, consisting of a main combatant who handles the string and an assistant. And one of the things the assistant does is run to retrieve their opponent’s fallen kite which is now theirs, hence the title: the kite runner. Hassan was Amir’s kite runner.
Acid inhibitors promote heart disease
- Created on Sunday, 14 July 2013 20:21
Drugs that are commonly prescribed- and taken without prescription- to treat acid reflux have been linked to a devestating side effect — cardiovascular disease.
That’s the conclusion of a disturbing new report by researchers from Houston Methodist Hospital, Stanford University and Imperial College London.
The researchers found that these drugs — known as proton pump inhibitors or PPIs — can cause the constriction of blood vessels. And their regular use can lead to hypertension and a weakened heart. Common examples include Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid.
"The surprising effect that PPIs may impair vascular health needs further investigation," said Dr. John Cooke, the study's chief investigator.
"Our work is consistent with previous reports that PPIs may increase the risk of a second heart attack in people that have been hospitalized with an acute coronary syndrome.
"Patients taking PPIs may wish to speak to their doctors about switching to another drug to protect their stomachs, if they are at risk for a heart attack."
About 1 in 12 Americans take proton pump inhibitors.. They are among the pharmaceutical industry's biggest sellers and most profitable moneymakers.
PPI drugs are activated by specialized cells in the stomach and stop the movement of protons into the intestine, lessening acid levels.The researchers used samples of human cells and mouse models in reaching their conclusions.
"PPIs interfere with the ability of blood vessels to relax," lead author Yohannes Ghebramariam said.
"They have this adverse effect by reducing the ability of human blood vessels to generate nitric oxide. Nitric oxide generated by the lining of the vessel is known to relax, and to protect, arteries and veins."
The report is the new issue of the medical journal Circulation, published by the American Heart Association.
If you have a problem with acid reflx, you had better find a better solution. The very princple of destroying stomach acid is wrong. You need your stomach acid. You can' t digest your food properly without, and it helps protect you from infectious diseases. Your stomach is supposed to be acid, so don't be looking to fix an abnormality by creating an abnormality. Two wrongs do not make a right: not in life and not in health. The most important thing is to straighten out your lifestyle: your diet, your weight, your exercise, and your habits (ditching coffee, tobacco, and alcohol). To get relief, try mastic gum, deglycerrated licorice, orange peel extract, or other natural substances. But avoid the phamaceuticals for this. It is not the way to go.
What is the Sodium/Potassium Ratio of your diet?
- Created on Saturday, 06 July 2013 01:19
It better be leaning heavily towards potassium because otherwise, you have a greater risk of dying, according to a new study. It found that people who eat high sodium, low potassium diets have a higher risk of dying from a heart attack or from any cause. The study, which appears in the July 11, 2011 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, adds to the already-substantial evidence that high salt diets have negative effects on health. And it highlights a key dietary change people should make: Eat more fresh vegetables and fruits, which are naturally high in potassium and low in sodium—and eat less bread, cheese, and processed meat, since these and other processed foods are high in sodium and low in potassium.
When it comes to the heart, sodium and potassium have opposite effects. High sodium increases blood pressure, ultimately leading to heart disease, while it also has a directly hardening, stiffening effect on blood vessels. High potassium, on the other hand, helps relax blood vessels which lowers blood pressure. Our bodies need far more potassium each day than sodium, and the latest guidelines say that most Americans should limit their sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams per day, the amount in about two-thirds of a teaspoon of table salt. But the typical US diet— being low in produce and high on processed foods—is just the opposite: Americans average about 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day while only getting about 2,900 milligrams of potassium each day. They’re consuming more sodium than potassium, which is deadly!
The newest study, which is based on diet reports from participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, followed just over 12,000 men and women for an average of 15 years. Sodium intakes averaged about 4,300 milligrams per day in men and 2,900 milligrams a day in women. Potassium intakes averaged a good bit lower (3,400 milligrams and 2,400 milligrams), and substantially lower than the 4,700 milligrams per day that the US government recommends. (7)
People with the highest sodium intakes had a 20 percent higher risk of death from any cause than people with the lowest sodium intakes. People with the highest potassium intakes had a 20 percent lower risk of dying than people with the lowest intakes. But what may be even more important for health is the relationship of sodium to potassium in the diet: People with the highest ratio of sodium to potassium in their diets had double the risk of dying of a heart attack than people with the lowest ratio, and they had a 50 percent higher risk of death from any cause.
The US government and European governments have started working with the food industry to lower sodium levels. Finland and the UK have done the most, and in the US, the Institute of Medicine has recommended that the FDA regulate the amount of salt in commercially prepared food. Some manufacturers have voluntarily agreed to cut back on sodium by 20 percent over the next five years, but Campbell Soup announced in early July 2011 that it was raising sodium levels in some of its soups, blaming its previous salt reduction for sagging sales.
Ultimately, regulatory efforts will be futile because consumers can always add salt to their food. If the soup tastes bland to them, they’ll just add salt at home.
But, what consumers need to realize is that you adjust to a lower salt intake over time, that initially the food tastes bland to you because you’re used to that jolt of salt, but eventually you learn to appreciate the more subtle flavor of the foods without salt or with less salt. Your taste buds can return to a more pristine state of savoring food without salt. It’s worth the effort to do this because high-salt is deadly.
Fiddler on the Roof
- Created on Friday, 07 June 2013 15:40
Fiddler on the Roof is a wonderful musical, and I would like to share a few impressions about it with you- and there is a health angle. Of course, I saw it years and decades ago and more than once. But, I hadn’t seen it in a long time until I saw it recently, and I liked it just as much. I consider it a masterpiece, a spectacle of storytelling and fun, but the thing about it that is absolutely genius is: the music.
The composer, Jerry Bock, is not a household name like Rogers and Hammerstein, nor like Irving Berlin, but he is up there with them. His songs are absolute gems, and I have every expectation that a thousand years from now people will be listening to and singing, Sunrise Sunset, If I Were a Rich Man, To Life, Matchmaker and more.
For me, musical genius is the most intriguing kind of genius, and I am referring to composers. Of course, there have been a lot of great composers, but very few of this caliber. I would say that it is a one-in-a-million talent, except that that isn’t scarce enough. It’s more like one in a hundred million or maybe one in two hundred million people who can compose like this.
And it wasn’t just his songs. Even the instrumental dance numbers were very sophisticated and musically accomplished. It’s breathtaking to realize that one person wrote all that.
The story was supposed to take place in the fictional Jewish village of Anatevka in Russia in 1905, but my impression is that it would have been in modern-day Ukraine, since they kept mentioning Kiev as the big city. But, it was actually filmed in Croatia in 1971, which was part of Yugoslavia, which was part of the Soviet Union. And as you know, Communism was still in force then, as was the Cold War. So, I’m sure it took some haggling to get this Western movie made in a Communist country. And what I notice is that Communism is well represented in the movie. What I mean is that it is not maligned. The bad guys in the story are definitely the tsarists- not the commies. And the young zealot, Perchik, who is infused with socialist idealism, speaks of it as the path to freedom. And when he is arrested by the tsar army, he is sent off to Siberia. Isn’t that where the gulags were that Solzhenitsyn wrote about? How ironic! But here’s what I think: I think the Yugoslav government must have insisted that the impending Communist revolution in Russia be presented in a favorable light; otherwise they would not grant permission to film in that country.
I mentioned there is a health angle. There was a lot in the story about food, and it was mostly animal food. There were a lot of references to slaughtering animals. Five chickens were given as a wedding present- “one for each of the first five Sabbaths of their wedded life.” Slaughtering cows was discussed. You see activity in a butcher shop. Tevye, the leading character, was a milk man. And besides producing the milk and delivering the milk, he also had time to make cheese. I’d say it was an impossible amount of work output for one man and his family. But, I also found it interesting that he was frequently delivering milk to people, but nobody ever paid him. You never saw him collect so much as a ruble. No wonder he complained of poverty!
But, speaking of poverty, I want to point out a glaring contradiction: Tevye kept bemoaning being poor although he never seemed that poor. He had all these animals. He had a big place. He looked well-fed, as did his family. And they were all nicely dressed. Nobody was in rags. And they were eating a high animal food diet.
A high animal food diet is inherently NOT a poor diet. It is a rich diet. That’s because the conversion of plant foods to animal foods involves a great deal of caloric waste. For whatever calories of plant food you feed to animals, you only get back about 15% of it as animal food. So, it takes a vast abundance of plant food to maintain a high animal food diet. So, these people were not as poor as they thought themselves to be.
In the story, you see them cleaning chickens and fish for meal preparation, and you also see them baking bread. But, they didn’t show any vegetables. There was a bowl with some apples at the wedding- but that is as far as it went for fresh produce.
And otherwise in the story, you see some smoking going on, but not by Tevye, and not so much by any of the Jews but rather by the gentiles. But, there is a lot of drinking- by everybody. Following the agreement that Lazar Wolf would marry Tevye’s daughter Zeitel, the two men start drinking heavily. It was probably supposed to be vodka because it was clear as water, and I’m sure it was water. But, they were putting it down in an amount that could have produced acute alcohol intoxication.
Of course, the whole idea of the story is that they lived according to “tradition” but the traditions were being challenged by all the changes going on in the world. Tevye even says at the beginning that: “In Anatevka, we have traditions for everything, how to eat, how to sleep…” etc. You definitely get the impression that it was an agriculturally-rich area with a relatively mild climate: undoubtedly cold in the winter but with a long enough warm season to produce ample crops. So, the practice of eating all that animal food and making it so prominent in the diet was definitely just a tradition; it wasn’t necessary- not there.
And today, because of commerce and technology and distribution, it really isn’t necessary anywhere. Plant foods are abundant everywhere, and plant foods are what people should be primarily eating. I don’t say people have to be strict vegetarians, but they should definitely be MOSTLY vegetarian- if they are going to eat wisely. Loading up on animal foods is an antiquated practice- nutritionally speaking.
But, watch Fiddler on the Roof if you haven’t seen it because it is delightful. I have seen it many times, and I will see it more times because it is a spectacle of genius and talent and accomplishment. It is one of the greatest musicals of all time.
Vitamin C vs. TB
- Created on Tuesday, 28 May 2013 23:19
I found a new report interesting where researchers discovered that Vitamin C can kill multidrug-resistant TB germs (tuberculosis) in the lab. The study authors from Yeshiva University in Israel made the revelation in Nature Communications, and they think the same action may be possible form giving vitamin C to humans. Lead investigator Dr William Jacobs, professor of microbiology and immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, says, "We have only been able to demonstrate this in a test tube, and we don't know if it will work in humans and in animals. This would be a great study to consider because we have strains of tuberculosis that we don't have drugs for, and I know that in the laboratory we can kill those strains with vitamin C. It also helps that we know vitamin C is inexpensive, widely available and very, very safe to use. At the very least, this work shows us a new mechanism that we can exploit to attack TB."
This does sound promising, and I hope they pursue it. For the record, I don’t take megadoses of Vitamin C in my daily life, and I don’t desire to do so, even if this turns into something terrific. And the reason is that I wouldn’t want to condition my body to getting a super-high dose of Vitamin C all the time. If I did it all the time, my body would adapt to it by getting lazy about absorbing Vitamin C; it would accelerate the breakdown and degradation of Vitamin C; and it would do other things to neutralize the effect I was trying to achieve. So, when I’m healthy and fit and doing fine, I want to take a generous but not exorbitant amount of Vitamin C. To my mind, that means taking no more than 1000 mgs of Vitamin C a day in supplement form, and otherwise eating a lot of Vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables. That’s as high as I’m willing to go on a daily basis. But, if I were in a situation where I was fighting an infection or had some other health problem, I would be entirely open to temporarily taking much more Vitamin C, either orally or intravenously, depending on the circumstances. And I mean, perhaps, for several weeks. And so far, thankfully, I haven’t been in that situation so I haven’t had to do it or consider doing it. So, I have never actually done it. But, I would certainly be open to it if my circumstances changed for the worse.
When it comes to therapeutics, my attitude is that when you can do something which may be helpful, and where it is entirely safe and can’t possibly hurt you, which is certainly true of taking Vitamin C, then it pays to do it. And that’s another reason why I don’t want to do it all the time because I suspect it will have greater potential to help if I am conservative with Vitamin C in the day to day.
But, everything is relative. According to the government 90 mgs of Vitamin C is all you need, and they only raised it under pressure. The RDA used to be 60 mgs. But, living in a state of ideal Nature where fresh produce comprised a large percentage of your diet, you would naturally get many hundreds of milligrams of Vitamin C every day, and that is the natural order for a human being. So, I can’t imagine that 60 or 90 mgs is optimal. I definitely want to get close to if not over a gram a day, and I do. But, I’m not willing to enter the Linus Pauling realm of Vitamin C intake. And what’s interesting is that the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, which is devoted to nutritional research, lauds Vitamin C, but they don’t actually recommend the high doses that he took. Word to the wise.