SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

March 31, 2010

Crohn’s Disease and Paleo diet

(Along with most of you, I have enjoyed the weekly newsletter from Cordain’s “The Paleo Diet”.  His books, papers and scientific studies have benefited all adding to our ongoing body of knowledge.  The world is richer because of his efforts, style and generosity.

My understanding of the recent changes to be  only temporary were apparently incorrect and tho we all have profited from the wonderful papers of this last month or so – – I want to suggest that those of you who value Dr Cordain’s writings, go directly to his “blog” which appears to be what he is offering now.  Just go there, sign up – its easy.     All the previous articles we have will remain archived and available to you under the “Paleo Diet”     Jan)

The Paleo Diet and Crohn’s Disease

Q: Can you comment on any reported results in curbing the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease with the Paleo Diet. As I am a sufferer, I would love to know.

Thank you,
Shannon

A: Dear Shannon,

Indeed, inflammatory bowel disease (Ulcerative Colitis & Crohn’s Disease) patients usually do very well with The Paleo Diet, as nutrients are one of the main environmental triggers of this condition. Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease where the immune system mounts an attack against its own tissues – in this case the cells lining the intestine.

For an autoimmune disease to occur we need a genetic predisposition and an environmental trigger. The genetic predisposition depends on genes coding for the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) system. One of the environmental triggers may be nutrition, besides infections, geography (vitamin D deficiency), physical trauma or vaccination.

One of the key points in this process is increased intestinal permeability. This means that the gut barrier allows increased passage of bacterial or food proteins (antigens) into peripheral circulation, skipping a process known as oral tolerance. Once antigens come in contact with the immune system located in the gut associated lymphoid tissue, they may elicit a T-cell mediated immune response against those antigens.

If the molecular structure of the dietary or bacterial antigens is similar to that of the HLA system (part of the immune system representing cellular mechanisms), chances are that a cross reaction between foreign antigens and self antigens (produced by T-cells) occur. This is termed molecular mimicry, and leads to self injury by the adaptive immune system.

Hence, decreasing intestinal permeability is one of the treatment targets. There are several nutrients known to increase intestinal permeability that you may want to avoid, at least until symptoms subside. Here is a list, with the noxious substances in parentheses:

  • Cereal grains (lectins and gliadin)
  • Legumes, including soya and peanuts (lectins and saponins)
  • Tomato (tomato lectin and alpha-tomatin)
  • Potato (lectins and saponins)
  • Chili (capsaicin)
  • Quillaja (foaming substance)
  • Quinoa (saponins)
  • Egg white (lysozyme)
  • Alfalfa sprouts (saponins)
  • Amaranth (saponins)
  • Alcohol

Moreover, some nutrients exert an adjuvant-like activity (they stimulate the immune system), which is something you don’t want to if you are suffering from an autoimmune disease. Nutrients containing adjuvants:

  • Quillaja extract, found in root beer
  • Tomato alpha-tomatine

Dairy products and vegetable oils also have deleterious effects upon your immune system.

I hope this helps.
Maelán

Recipe of the Week: Spicy Tilapia

Spicy Tilapia

As much as I love Salmon, and joke that I could live on this fish, some raw kale and avocado alone, it’s always good to keep the diet balanced and opt for other types of fish.

Tilapia is a great choice- low in calories, total fat, sodium and Mercury, it’s also a great source of Phosphorus, Niacin, Selenium, Vitamin B12 and Potassium.

Their mild flavor imparts them to be prepared in many different ways.  In addition, their delicate, flaky constitution allows them to take a marinade, and cook quite quickly.

Yesterday, I prepared a marinade of lime juice, no-salt-added Cajun spices, fresh cilantro and some fresh garlic and whizzed it in the mini food processor (reminder- this is a must have, at only $30!).  I let the fillets sit in the fridge for just over an hour before allowing them to come to room temp for about 30′ while I prepared my salad and cut up some chard to saute with garlic, shallots & olive oil.  A mere 10 minutes before I wanted to serve dinner, I put the fish under the broiler for 5′ on each side as my chard quickly cooked.  I plated the fish by first serving a bed of the lovely greens, followed by a healthy dose of my signature green salad, and finally two small fillets on each plate and a strip of lime and a sprig of cilantro.

Eating is a multi-sensory experience, and as such, I feel quite strongly about the importance of presentation.

Make it not only taste wonderful, but also let it appear beautiful as well.  Then, have a seat and enjoy your

meal properly!  Even better, share it with your spouse or kids… Enjoy!

March 27, 2010

That last “good bye”

Filed under: Cremation,eco-friendly & cheaper — Jan Turner @ 1:35 am
Tags: ,

Some choices worth thinking about

We are all going to die;  in that there is no choice.  But we do have choices, some decisions we can make to take some of the difficulty out of the ‘details’ we leave behind when we are gone.  Each family is so different and yet we mostly come from a similar place of caring deeply about those we love.   This has crossed my mind quite a few times, but somehow, it isn’t one of the things people talk about too much, . . . don’t want to.

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This morning’s paper had an article on “Cremation.”  I wasn’t too interested in it, but the picture with it caught my attention as it had an unusual quality to it, so I took a few minutes and got to thinking about it.  I am totally familiar with cremation.  My husband and I decided on that long ago.  It is simple and logical, earth friendly and to some eastern philosophy, an advantage to the releasing soul.   I certainly hope this is true because this is the avenue used for my husband, his mother and then finally, my own precious mother and is what I choose for myself when the time comes.

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Being just a few years less than my mother’s age when she died,  I quite naturally thought about all this stuff and in the end, got online to see if there wasn’t more information on the subject – Google, Wikipedia.  I’m trying to sound like I’m being all cerebral about this,  even so, the next few hours were somewhat sobering as I poured thru all that I found.    (On the West Coast, the Neptune Society took care of Marty and his Mom.  But they don’t function here in Ohio and I had to find another provider for Mother in 1995.)  It was enlightening.   Pricing is all over the place from a scant $500 to a few thousand depending on what is wanted.   What I would want is for my son to be able to pick up a phone and tell someone to come and get her, she is gone, and to never have to deal with anything further.  Where there is love, one remains in the heart forever and for most, it takes a bit of time to adjust to this loss – because one always misses loved ones. . . that’s the way it works.

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I found something that may be useful for many in today’s economic climate and so I want to pass it on.   I found two separate companies who accept the gift/donation of one’s body to their Whole Body Donation Program in exchange for free cremation services (providing one qualifies) The Department of Motor Vehicles has already got me signed up for donating my body parts upon death anyway – – it just seemed like the decent thing to do, so this is not too much of a stretch.  The one I found on Google is LifeQuest Anatomical and there was another one on Wikipedia (?).  Apparently they need cadavers for all kinds of research (cancer, alzheimers and so on) in laboratories and schools.  A few weeks later, if the family wants any remains, they can be sent.   Please understand, I’m not wanting to be morbid here, just thought this could be a boon for a few people out there who might need a service like this and find themselves financially strapped as I was when my mother died.  I had to pay it out monthly for quite a time.  Okay, my good deed for the day is done.  Here is the article I mentioned:

Cremations gaining acceptance

Cost, environmental impact also affecting choice versus burial

By Meredith Heagney
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Becky Kading visits her late friend not in a cemetery but a church garden. She feels the presence of Julie Carpenter, whom she loved like a sister, even if there’s no grave or headstone.   The small, attractive space sits outside Lord of Life Lutheran Church on the Northwest Side. The church allows people to scatter their loved ones’ ashes in the garden, and Carpenter’s family put her cremated remains there.
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Kading had known Carpenter since they were preschoolers. They became as close as sisters at Whetstone High School and stayed that way until Sept. 2, 2007, when Carpenter, 55, was struck and killed crossing Polaris Parkway by a vehicle driven by a 16-year-old girl.   Kading said she misses her terribly but feels peace at the garden because “I know part of her is in there.” She sits alone or sometimes with Susan Schwab, another parishioner and a longtime friend of Carpenter’s.
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A church garden for cremated ashes wouldn’t have gotten much use a generation ago. But cremation is surging in popularity, in part because of growing acceptance among religious groups, said John Ross, executive director of the Cremation Association of North America. In 1980, less than 10 percent of U.S. deaths resulted in cremation, according to the association. In 2007, that number was 34 percent. By 2025, it’s estimated to be close to 56 percent.
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Local funeral directors have seen the same trend. At Shaw-Davis Funeral Homes and Cremation Service, which has its own crematory, 60 percent of families opt for cremation, manager Kip Shaw said. Fifteen years ago, 90 percent opted for burial.   His colleagues without crematories also are seeing higher cremation rates, he said.   “More and more faiths have become more accepting of cremation,” he pointed out.
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Religion isn’t the only reason. Families are more mobile and dispersed than in years past, and some people don’t want to be buried where they think no one will visit the grave, Shaw said. Others like that cremation is more environmentally friendly.   Cost is a factor, too. The average cost of cremation and related services such as an urn is about $3,200, Ross said. The cost for embalming, preparation of the body, a funeral ceremony, a casket and a vault averages $7,300, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. That doesn’t include the cemetery plot or the marker.
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That extra money can be used for God’s work, said the Rev. Mark Fuller, pastor of Grove City Church of the Nazarene.
He has told his wife that she should cremate him and “take the money you save and give it to the poor,” he said.
Among the faithful, Buddhists, Hindus and mainline Protestants are most likely to cremate, while some Southern Baptists and other churches that emphasize the resurrection of the body shy away, Ross said. Islam and Orthodox Judaism forbid the practice.    Muslims believe that cremation is “against the human dignity,” said Imam Farooq Aboelzahab of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Perrysburg. When a Muslim dies, the body is ritually washed, then buried as soon as possible, even on the same day.
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In the Jewish faith, “we believe that our bodies are on loan from God and not ours to do as we please with,” said Rabbi Naphtali Weisz of Congregation Beth Jacob on the East Side. “We have to return our bodies to God in the same way he lent them to us.”    For that same reason, Jewish law forbids tattoos.   For Jews, memories of the Holocaust prompt a “visceral, emotional repulsion toward cremation,” Weisz said. Murdered Jews were burned in ovens and cremated, their remains lost to their families forever.    “Some would consider it almost a posthumous victory for Hitler for a Jew to be cremated and not given a proper burial,” he said.
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The Catholic Church historically outlawed cremation because it challenged church teaching about the resurrection of the body, said Monsignor William Cleves, vice rector of the School of Theology at the Pontifical College Josephinum.   Cremation was seen as “a kind of challenge to God, saying, ‘Resurrect this,’” he said.   Since 1963, the church has allowed cremation, recognizing that resurrection after death does not require the physical body to be intact, he said.    Burial is still preferred, he said, because the body is seen as the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Rich Finn manages four cemeteries in central Ohio for the Catholic Diocese of Columbus and said that 18 percent of their burials are cremated remains.    Ideally, the intact body should be present for the funeral Mass, Finn said. The church also requires that ashes be buried.    “The cremated remains should be treated with the same respect that is given to the body,” he said.
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Susan Schwab said she often sits in the Lord of Life garden with positive memories of Julie Carpenter. They grew up together to share weddings, vacations and the births of their children.   “It makes me feel good to sit there and think of her,” Schwab said.    She, too, plans to have her ashes scattered in the garden.   “It’s a comfort to me to know that my ashes will be where I worshipped on Sunday, and the spirit of me will remain there,” she said.   “It just feels right.”
mheagney@dispatch.com
ERIC ALBRECHT DISPATCH
Becky Kading, left, and Susan Schwab sit in the garden at Lord of Life Lutheran Church on the Northwest Side, where the ashes of their friend Julie Carpenter were scattered. Cremation is becoming more popular partly because many denominations have dropped their objections to it.

March 26, 2010

OH Honeybees on the line

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jan Turner @ 12:28 am
Tags: ,

Scary spring

Thinned by unexplained deaths in past years and beset by a hard winter, OHIO HONEYBEES could be facing a make-or-break period in the next couple of weeks

By Misti Crane | THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

KYLE ROBERTSON DISPATCH PHOTOS
Barry Conrad of Canal Winchester shows off bees from one of his 16 hives. Conrad thinks that this winter’s large die-off of bees was worsened by last year’s sparse honey production.

Honeybees continue to struggle for survival in Ohio and throughout the nation, putting in peril the well-being of everything from California almonds to backyard cucumbers.   As the weather has warmed, beekeepers checking into their hives have been finding significant numbers of dead bees, sometimes in the 70 percent range, said Barry Conrad, a Canal Winchester beekeeper.

“It might be the worst in history,” said Conrad, who like other beekeepers has come to expect a 30 percent loss over the winter, up from the 10 percent he used to expect.   Though colder-than-normal weather is being blamed for bee losses in warmer climates, the losses here are more likely being exacerbated by limited honey in the hives over the winter, Conrad said. Snow, in and of itself, isn’t a problem and might even serve as an insulator.

“Bees don’t hibernate. They’re just sitting there watching TV, drinking cheap beer and waiting for the weather to change,” said Jim Tew, a beekeeping expert with the OSU Extension campus in Wooster.   And without enough honey during that time, they starve to death.

It’s too soon to know for sure how severe the losses have been overall in Ohio this winter. The next few weeks of weather could make or break many hives, especially those with broods of developing bees, Tew said.
Bees tending to babies have to generate a lot of heat. The colder it is, the more they have to move, and the more they have to move, the more they have to eat.

Last year was marked by record-low honey production nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Compared with the year before, honey production dropped 12 percent — about 20 million pounds — to 144 million pounds.

Honey production and weather are only part of the story. For several years, beekeepers have been grappling with obstacles including pests, disease and chemicals in pesticides, worrying both bee experts and farmers, who rely on the bees for pollination.   A little-understood problem called “colony collapse disorder” that causes bees to abandon their hives is likely due to a combination of factors, Tew said.

A study published last week in the scientific journal PLOS ONE found that about six in 10 samples of wax and bee pollen contained at least one systemic pesticide, a chemical that can enter the pollen and nectar of a plant.
The researchers wrote that the pesticides’ direct association with colony collapse disorder or declining bee health remains to be determined.

Conrad, who makes several trips a year to Georgia for replacement hives, said he’s hearing daily from beekeepers who’ve suffered significant losses. He’s taking orders for new hives, which cost about $75 each, but many beekeepers can’t afford to replace all that they’ve lost.   Beekeepers are working together to try to boost the population and reduce die-off, said Barbara Bloetscher, state entomologist and head of the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s apiary program.   One program with promise is focusing on breeding queen bees here in Ohio that are better designed for the state’s climate.
mcrane@dispatch.com

The queen in one of Conrad’s hives is seen at center, with the green dot.

March 25, 2010

“UGLY” can change, we can help

Filed under: Chris Reichert — Jan Turner @ 2:47 pm
Tags: ,

‘What I did was shameful’

DORAL CHENOWITH 111   COLUMBUS DISPATCH

At a rally against health-care reform on March 16, Chris Reichert threw dollar bills at aman who has Parkinson’s disease and favors reform.   “I snapped” Reichert said this week.

Man says he snapped during confrontation at rally

By Catherine Candisky
COLUMBUS DISPATCH

The man protesting federal health-care legislation who berated and tossed dollar bills at a supporter with Parkinson’s disease last week says he is remorseful — and scared.   “I snapped, I absolutely snapped, and I can’t explain it any other way,” said Chris Reichert in a Dispatch interview. In his first comments on an incident caught on video that went viral across the Internet and was played repeatedly on cable-television news shows, Reichert said he is sorry about his confrontation with Robert A. Letcher, 60, of Grandview Heights.
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Letcher, a former nuclear engineer who has Parkinson’s, was verbally attacked as he sat before health-care-reform protesters during a rally outside U.S. Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy’s district office.    “He’s got every right to do what he did, and some may say I did, too, but what I did was shameful,” Reichert said. “I haven’t slept since that day.Reichert, a 40-year-old father of two who lives in the Harrison West neighborhood, said he apologizes to Letcher and everyone else at the rally.   “I made a donation (to a local Parkinson’s disease group), and that starts the healing process.”

When approached by a reporter this week, Reichert would not acknowledge that he was involved in the confrontation on March 16 featured in a Dispatch video that drew an emotional response from viewers across the country.   The next day, he contacted The Dispatch and acknowledged his participation.   “I wanted this to go away, but it won’t, and I’m paying the consequences,” Reichert said.

He said he’s fearful for his family after reading caustic comments about his actions on the Internet.   “I’ve been looking at the Web sites,” he said. “People are hunting for me.”
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Letcher said he hopes no harm comes to Reichert, although he’s not sure what to make of his latest remarks.  “I’m touched by his donation to the Parkinson’s Society, but you can’t just buy your way out of this,” he said. Letcher said he still views Reichert as “calculatedly cold and angry.” The confrontation, Letcher said, exemplifies how political debate in America has been reduced to name-calling, with winners often determined by their volume alone, and antics that do little to help resolve complex issues such as health-care reform.
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The demonstration took place just days before the House vote on the health-care legislation, drawing hundreds of supporters and opponents.   When Letcher sat down in front of opponents with a sign that read “Got Parkinson’s? I do. You might,” an unidentified man yelled, “If you’re looking for a handout, you’re on the wrong end of town.”
Reichert then stepped from the crowd, bent down, pointed a finger in Letcher’s face and, as he tossed a dollar bill, shouted, “I’ll pay for this guy. Here you go. Let’s start a pot, I’ll pay for you. I’ll decide when to give you money. Here. Here’s another one.”
Reichert said he did not read Letcher’s sign and did not realize he had Parkinson’s until reading news reports. He said his comments were based on the accusation that Letcher was looking for a handout.  “I perceived him as an agitator,” Reichter said.My reaction to my perception was poor at best.”
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Organizers on both sides of the debate quickly condemned the actions of Reichert and the other man, who has not been identified. Kilroy slammed the confrontation during a speech on the House floor, placing a link to the video in the Congressional Record.
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Now, Ohio Democrats are using the video to make a fundraising appeal, telling prospective donors, “We need your help to stop these types of vicious tactics.”
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Reichert, a registered Republican, said he is not politically active nor is he affiliated with the Tea Party movement or Americans for Prosperity, two conservative groups who organized the rally (although the video shows him carrying one of the latter’s signs). He said he opposed the health-care overhaul because of its cost.
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Reichert said he heard about the rally — actually competing demonstrations by those on both sides of the proposal — on the radio, and a neighbor invited him to attend.   “That was my first time at any political rally, and I’m never going to another one,” Reichert said.   “I will never ever, ever go to another one.”
DORAL CHENOWETH III DISPATCH

It is painfully evident that this outcome was not what anyone wanted – not Mr Reichert, Mr. Letcher,  the health-care reform movement, the Republican or the Democratic parties – no-one!  This is heart-ache for all of us.  And my sympathies go greatly toward Mr. Reichert as I fear that he is having an inordinate amount of blame and guilt for the entire ordeal.
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If one were to take all these pieces and try to weave them into a very short story, it would just be unbelievable.  But, unfortunately, it has the ring of truth in it!  This is what happened and Mr. Reichert MUST  find a way of letting himself off the hook.  Mother Nature’s evil brother must’ve cast murky dust everywhere and did a damned good job of it.  Mr. Reichert said it best when he stated “My reaction to my perception was poor at best” Have we not all been there – at some time in our lives?
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What I want to suggest is that all of us who care and can understand how such things can indeed happen, try a little experiment.   Let us all recognize that anyone with this amount of ‘passion’ has great value and worth.  This is not to be discarded or taken lightly.  But can one heal – become whole again – if one daily berates or flogs himself and can not get over the guilt?  Feels the world staring at him and judging his every move or action.  No, this is unacceptable. Perhaps most of you remember that I am an EFTer, so I plan to tap on myself in a surrogate fashion for Mr. Reichert, very simply stating the occurrence and declaring that I love and accept myself anyway, and I’ll keep doing that until its done.  If many of us could join on this, you know. . . . where two or more are gathered. . . . and if we could just, out of love for another human who has discovered his own feet of clay – let him know that he is fine, it’s Okay, we’re Okay.  Well, you understand – we could change the world.  Seriously.
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In the event some of you don’t have the faintest idea what I’m referring to;  EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique and simply put, is a tapping technique  very similar to acupuncture only without the needles.  Anybody can do it and the simple abc’s are ensconced up in the pages (upper right corner of this blog).  Our emotions can make us well – heal us or conversely, tear us apart and even do us in.  Tapping can clear up these burdens and do it so well.  One can use it on anything and for anything.   One can even tap on your ‘blessings’ because the heart is so grateful and full.     So, Chris Reichert – here’s lookin at you kid – come on in. . . . .  Jan

There IS “light” J-R

Filed under: John-Roger,MSIA — Jan Turner @ 11:52 am
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LOVING EACH DAY
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You never turn completely from the Light into the darkness. You can turn to a lesser degree of Light, a Light expression less than what is possible for you. And when you do that, you might see a lot of shadows and it might be a little dark and murky.

There is Light, however, in all extensions of God in all universes. The mind, the body, the words, the emotions are so very far from perfect it’s sometimes a wonder that we get the body out of bed in the morning and safely back there at night. If that doesn’t require a form of God consciousness, I don’t know what does.

– John-Roger
(From: The Way Out Book, p. 127-128)

Balsamic

VINEGAR

Balsamic known for indulgence

By Carole Kotkin
MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS

Little-known in the United States until about 15 years ago, balsamic vinegar has been warmly embraced by American cooks.   They drizzle it on salads and steamed vegetables, sprinkle it on sautes and marinate strawberries in it.
An array of balsamic vinegars is found in most supermarkets, next to the wine and cider vinegars.

Because the prices in specialty stores top $100 for a small bottle, an understanding of the origin and subtleties of balsamic vinegar is needed.   Unlike most other vinegars, which start with fruit juice or wine, balsamic starts with unfermented Trebbiano grape must (crushed grapes). Cooked in big kettles, it turns to vinegar with the addition of a starter yeast. The color deepens and becomes more opaque, and the flavor grows in complexity, as the vinegar is aged in barrels of different sizes and woods for 12 to 25 years.

Authentic balsamics come from Modena or Reggio Emilia, towns in northern Italy where the traditional style of balsamic vinegar was codified in the 18th century. The highest-quality vinegar is labeled tradizionale and sold in tiny bottles, to be used sparingly because it’s so concentrated. Some chefs keep it in a spray bottle and spritz it on food.

Balsamics that cost $3 to $14 are probably nothing more than ordinary wine vinegar with caramel added for coloring and sugar added to mimic the sweetness of the real thing. Chefs have a trick to improve them, however: They melt a teaspoon of dark brown sugar and stir it into a cup of the lesser vinegar.

For an everyday value, look for bottles labeled Aceto Balsamico di Modena at supermarkets. As an indulgence, seek a small bottle of higher-grade balsamic (marked condimento or tradizionale) from a specialty shop or an Italian market.

Americans are drawn to the rich, luscious flavors of balsamic vinegars, which are priced according to their age and quality.

March 24, 2010

Science behind Supplements

Filed under: Alliance for Natural Health,Science-backed info — Jan Turner @ 6:16 pm
Tags:

Alliance for Natural Health – usa

Finally– Legislation to Protect Your Right to Know About

the Science Behind Supplements!

March 23, 2010

Take Action Today. Help Us Gain Cosponsors for the

Free Speech About Science Act, H.R. 4913!

Consumers are largely kept in the dark about the potential health benefits of foods and supplements. Why? Because current law makes it illegal for food and supplement producers to share this information.

Today Congressmen Jason Chaffetz (R, UT) and Jared Polis (D, CO) have introduced the Free Speech about Science Act (H.R. 4913). This landmark legislation protects basic free speech rights, ends censorship of science, and enables the natural health products community to share peer-reviewed scientific findings about natural health products with the public.

ANH-USA has been working toward the introduction of this bill for several years. Now that it is finally here, we need your help to gain cosponsors and support.

At first sight, this might not appear to be a blockbuster bill. But look closely. If it passes, Free Speech about Science has the potential to transform the health-care field by educating the public about the real science behind natural health. This is a small bill with vast potential leverage.

For this very reason, the bill will have opposition. It will be opposed by the FDA for reasons we will explain. It will be opposed by drug companies fearing competition from natural health approaches based on diet, dietary supplements, and lifestyle. Please do not let these special interests stop this bill. Please contact your representative today. Ask him or her to cosponsor this vital legislation. Take action now.

We all know that consumers are looking for reliable information backed by legitimate scientific research in order to make informed choices about diet and health. Access to this information is essential if we are to know which foods and food supplements really are healthy and contribute to good health.

science_actThe FDA mission statement says that the agency is charged with helping educate the public about health. The Agency mostly ignores this mission and seems intent only on keeping even valid science under wraps.

Drug companies are of course entirely free to flood the airwaves and print media with ads. As has been well established, the FDA does very little monitoring of these ads. In some cases, drug ads are highly misleading. For example, if you listen closely to a drug ad for antacids, you will see that they give an impression the drugs will cure heartburn but do not actually claim to do so (because the drugs do not cure it and may actually make it worse).

In sharp contrast to the treatment of drug companies, current FDA regulations flatly forbid food and supplement manufacturers from mentioning any link between a product and a health condition, even if the link is established by peer reviewed scientific studies coming out of Harvard and other highly respected universities. Any producer that fails to comply with this censorship regime will have its product declared an unapproved drug. Selling an unapproved drug in turn will lead to fines and even jail.

The FDA has issued many warning letters to various food producers to keep them from telling consumers truthfully about the healthful nature of their products. For example, cherry growers have been targeted and enjoined from referencing peer-reviewed scientific articles showing cherries’ health benefits for gout and arthritis.

For years, the FDA barred health claims about the benefits of fish oil for heart, cancer, depression, body pain, and various other conditions until a drug company paid to go through the approval process. Not surprisingly, the FDA approved version of fish oil (the only kind that can be reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid and the VA) costs as much as ten times more than otherwise available, high quality fish oil.

In the FDA’s view, even providing a link on a website to a scientific study converts a healthy fruit or nut into an unapproved drug, a bizarre result that effectively denies Americans scientific information that could alleviate their illnesses or even save their lives.

If the FDA insists that even cherries must be brought through the full drug review process in order to make any health condition claim, why not just go along? The problem is that FDA approval easily costs a billion dollars! Drug companies can only pay these vast sums because they have patent protection and will use that patent protection to create a monopoly on the sale of the product. Result? $100 per pill in some cases.

Natural products cannot usually be patented and therefore cannot usually be brought through such an expensive approval process. The FDA knows this, but ignores it. It willfully excludes most natural substances from medicine.

Who does the FDA expect to pay the billion dollar cost of approval for cherries? The cherry growers? And don’t forget: the cherry growers cannot combine efforts to do this because that would violate anti-trust laws. And would we want to pay ten times as much for cherries if a cherry company was foolish enough to try to do this?

This is what we have called the great Catch 22 of contemporary American medicine. Doctors are afraid to prescribe non-FDA approved medications. They can lose their licenses for doing so. But with very few exceptions, only non-natural and therefore patentable substances can be brought through the FDA approval process.

The result is an FDA enforced monopoly for drug companies. Natural and often much safer and cheaper natural remedies are ignored. Natural medicine based on diet, dietary supplements, and lifestyle, which ought to be at the center of medicine, is shunted off to the sidelines and subjected to legal threats.

There are many things that need to be done about this. For one thing, we should not allow drug companies to pay FDA expenses and salaries. We should not allow drug companies to pay scientists serving on FDA panels or allow a revolving employment door between the drug companies and the FDA. In other words, we need to reform the FDA.

But Free Speech about Science is a major first step. It will go far toward breaking up the drug company monopoly and the drug company choke-hold on the dissemination of scientific information.

Note that the Free Speech about Science Act provides a very carefully targeted change to FDA regulations. It simply says that legitimate, peer reviewed, scientific studies may be referenced by manufacturers and producers without converting a healthy food or dietary supplement into an unapproved drug. The bill amends the appropriate sections of current law to allow the flow of legitimate scientific and educational information while still giving FDA and FTC the right to take action against misleading information and against false and unsubstantiated claims.

Government (and especially allied drug companies) should not be the gatekeeper of scientific information. Consumers have a right to hear about legitimate scientific research.

As soon as the bill is filed in the Senate, we will ask you to contact your senator, but for now we have to concentrate on the House, where a bill of this sort usually originates. Please contact your representative today and ask him or her to cosponsor the Free Speech about Science Act!

C-diff, new threat

Columbus Dispatch , March 21, 2010

C-diff infections surpassing MRSA as hospital threat

Colon bacteria can cause serious intestinal problem

By Mike Stobbe
ASSOCIATED PRESS

ATLANTA — As one superbug seems to be fading as a threat in hospitals, another is on the rise, a new study suggests.

A dangerous, drug-resistant staph infection called MRSA often is seen as the biggest germ threat to patients in hospitals and other health-care facilities. But infections from Clostridium difficileknown as C-diff — are surpassing MRSA infections, the study of 28 hospitals in the Southeast found.

“I think MRSA is almost a household name. Everybody thinks of MRSA as a serious threat,” said Dr. Becky Miller, an infectious diseases specialist at Duke University Medical Center. She presented the research yesterday (20th) in Atlanta, at a medical conference on infection in health-care facilities.   “But C. difficile deserves more attention,” she added.

MRSA, or methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, are bacteria that can’t be treated with common antibiotics. They can be harmless as they ride on the skin but become deadly once they get in the bloodstream. They enter through wounds, intravenous lines and other paths.

C-diff, also resistant to some antibiotics, is found in the colon and can cause diarrhea and a more serious intestinal condition known as colitis. It is spread by spores in feces. The spores are difficult to kill with most conventional household cleaners or alcohol-based hand sanitizers, so some of the disinfection measures against MRSA don’t work on C-diff.

Deaths from C-diff traditionally have been rare, but a more dangerous form has emerged in the past 10 years. Still, MRSA is generally considered a more-lethal threat, causing an estimated 18,000 U.S. deaths annually.   The study looked at infection rates from community hospitals in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia in 2008 and 2009. It found the rate of hospital-acquired C-diff infections was 25 percent higher than MRSA infections. The hospitals counted 847 infections of hospital acquired C-diff and 680 cases of MRSA.

Miller also reported that C-diff has been increasing at the hospitals since 2007, while MRSA has been declining since 2005.

Last year, a government report noted a decline in MRSA infections in a study of 600 hospital intensive-care units. MRSA bloodstream infections connected with intravenous tubes fell almost 50 percent from 1997 to 2007, according to data reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

March 22, 2010

Greenspan – more oversight!

Filed under: Alan Greenspan — Jan Turner @ 5:07 pm
Tags:

(Anyone who witnessed Greenspan’s genius over the decades would or could  ignore his utterances, no matter how casual.   I do however hope that the powers that be in Washington examine his paper presented to the Brookings Institute and give it careful consideration.  I deeply respect treasury secretary Geithner and admire how he has handled our impossible financial mess which was thrust upon him.   But sadly,  measures still have not been taken to reel all this in to insure that it could never happen again.    “Regulation” MUST become a TOP PRIORITY.   Geihtner is one man, it will take lots of muscle,  determination and cooperation to get this job done – but it must be done!       Jan)

Rein in Wall Street, ex-Fed chief urges

Giant financial institutions should be required to hold bigger capital reserves, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan suggested.

Greenspan calls for more bank oversight

By Sewell Chan
THE NEW YORK TIMES

WASHINGTON — Is Alan Greenspan, famous for his libertarian leanings and hands-off approach to Wall Street, having some second thoughts?   After more than six decades as a skeptic of big government, the former Federal Reserve chairman is gingerly suggesting that perhaps regulators should help rein in giant financial institutions by requiring them to hold more capital.

Greenspan, 84, once celebrated as the “maestro” of economic policy, has seen his reputation dim after failing to avert the credit bubble that nearly brought down the financial system. In a 48-page paper that is by turns analytical and apologetic, he is calling for greater banking regulation in several areas.

The report, which he presented Friday to the Brookings Institution, was by no means a mea culpa. But in his customarily sober language, Greenspan, who has long argued that the market is often a more effective regulator than the government, adopted a more expansive view of the proper role of the state.

He argues that regulators should enforce collateral and capital requirements, limit or ban certain kinds of concentrated bank lending, and even compel financial companies to develop “living wills” that specify how they are to be liquidated in an orderly way.

And he acknowledged short-comings in regulation. “For years the Federal Reserve had been concerned about the ever-larger size of our financial institutions,” Greenspan wrote. Fed research has not been able to find economies of scale as banks grow beyond a modest size, he said, and in a 1999 speech, Greenspan warned that “megabanks” formed through mergers created the potential for “unusually large systemic risks” should they fail.
Greenspan added: “Regrettably, we did little to address the problem.”

He also acknowledged that the central bank failed to grasp the magnitude of the housing bubble but argued, as he has before, that its policy of low interest rates was not to blame. He stood by his conviction that little could be done to identify a bubble before it burst, much less to pop it.

The main policy prescription in Greenspan’s paper was higher capital requirements and liquidity ratios, which he argued would be the most effective way to blunt the impact of future crises. And he suggested that discussions under way to designate regulators to detect systemic financial risks would be of limited use.
Greenspan has defended his once-celebrated 18-year tenure previously. But the Brookings paper is his most extensive examination to date of the crisis’ origins.

March 21, 2010

Cork Flooring can surprise you!

Filed under: Cork Flooring — Jan Turner @ 5:34 pm
Tags:

(If I was wanting a new flooring that’s maybe sturdy,  gorgeous – would last and be easy to live with, well this might be it!. . . . . . . . . call it Spring fever, I dunno  Jan)

ASK THE BUILDER

Surprise! Cork flooring can take a beating

Q.: I’m very interested in cork flooring planks and wonder whether it’s really as good as the salesmen tell me.Because money is very tight, I’m looking for a discount cork floor. A carpet store in my town is having a cork flooring sale soon, so now’s the time to make a decision.

Do you have experience with this material? If so, would you install it again in a home you’d build? Is it as durable as they say? How do you protect it, and is it easy to clean?
A: I can understand your doubts about whether cork flooring is really a suitable material to walk on day in and day out. After all, when you hold a cork from a wine bottle in your hand, you can see it’s somewhat friable. Hold a piece of oak in your hands and try to break it apart or chip it, and your hands quickly wave a white flag.
I used to think the same way about this magical flooring material but was convinced shortly after seeing the first cork floor of my life.

About 35 years ago, my father-inlaw took me to visit a business partner of his named Carl Hunsicker. This man lived in a custom-built home that overlooked the Ohio River at the edge of a bluff. When we walked into Hunsicker’s kitchen, I looked down and saw the strangest floor.

He had cork kitchen flooring. It resembled the deck of a ship as the planks were very long and approximately 8 inches wide. It was dropdead gorgeous. When I asked what kept it from disintegrating as you walked on it, Hunsicker chuckled and said, “Son, you don’t have to ever worry about this floor wearing out.”

I later discovered that cork flooring was used in many commercial and institutional buildings that receive heavy foot traffic. The main library in Cincinnati had a cork floor for years that millions of people walked on. You don’t have to worry about durability if you purchase a highquality cork floor.

To give you another example of its extreme toughness: I installed cork plank flooring tiles on the steps that lead to my basement. Many people don’t realize that steps are the best place to test flooring, as your foot typically slides on the tread surface as you climb the steps. There’s much more friction than walking across a normal floor surface.
My basement steps got extremely heavy traffic because our home office was in several rooms downstairs. We also ran a cottage business shipping a cleaning product from the basement. Countless trips up and down the steps were made carrying boxes of products. To add to this misery, the steps were not vacuumed that often, so there was grit on them.

Just yesterday, I cleaned these steps, getting them ready for an open house. They looked like the day I installed them. I owe much of this to the toughness of the cork but also to the fact that I had originally coated the cork with five coats of high-quality urethane. I knew the steps would be abused, so I wanted plenty of urethane between the bottom of the shoes and the cork.

Another thing that helped the cork on my steps was the custom oak nosing I installed. Because I knew that shoes would be sliding onto each tread, I had the top piece of oak milled so that it was 1/64 of an inch thicker than the thickness of the cork planks that were glued to the steps. This prevented shoes from wearing away the front edge of the cork on each tread.

I used clear water-based urethane to protect my cork on the steps and the cork that was on the floor in the entire basement. It was easy to apply and has allowed the cork to maintain its beauty for the past 10 years. Cleaning it is easy. I just use regular liquid dish soap and water to clean up spills.   For regular mopping, I add 8 ounces of white vinegar to 2 gallons of warm mop water.
Tim Carter is a columnist for Tribune Media Services. He can be reached via his Web site, http://www.askthebuilder.com.

TIM CARTER
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