A Lesson from the “Limeys”

A Brief History of Vitamin C

The vitamin C deficiency disease, scurvy,  was the scourge of armies, navies, and explorers throughout history. It particularly affected those sailors on long voyages who had little access to fresh fruits and vegetables (high in Vitamin C). Despite some recommendations of transporting these foods on their voyages, 10,000 British sailors died of scurvy in 1594. A Scottish physician, James Lind serving in the British Navy had an idea and developed a “crude”experiment on an upcoming long voyage.

To set the stage for this experiment, a historic account is given us from a 16th century surgeon who describes the scourges of scurvy:

It rotted all my gums, which gave out a black and putrid blood. My thighs and lower legs were black and gangrenous, and I was forced to use my knife each day to cut into the flesh in order to release this black and foul blood. I also used my knife on my gums, which were livid and growing over my teeth…

William Faloon. Misconeptions about Vitamin C, Life Extension: The Science of a Healthier Life, November 2021

James Lind did his clinical trial aboard HMS Salisbury in 1847.  He took 6 groups of two sailors with scurvy and gave the following treatments:

Group 1: A quart of hard cider a day

Group 2: 25 drops of vitriol (sulphuric acid)

Group 3: Six spoonful’s of vinegar

Group 4: Half a pint of seawater

Group 5: Two oranges and a lemon (ran out of fruit in a week) but recovered from scurvy in six days. There were no signs of scurvy prevention in any of the other groups (to my knowledge).

Group 6: Spice blend

(The cure of scurvy should have been obvious but Lind wanted to fit his observation into the prevailing ideas of the model of humors as the basic model of disease (described above).   This idea of humors had been around since the Ancient Greeks and taught that the body contains four fluids (the humors – phlegm, blood, yellow bile, black bile) associated with certain personalities (phlegmatics, sanguine, choleric and melancholy). Lind thought that scurvy was associated with the build up of black bile due to blocked sweat ducts and downplayed the power of his discovery to a paragraph buried in the middle of a long book. Despite this the British Navy progressively eliminated  scurvy over the remainder of the century using lime juice and were called “limeys”. The rest  of the world did not heed the lesson of  the limeys. In the mid—19th century, during the U.S. Civil War, scurvy was rampant.  Science moves very slowly. (SJF)

“In the original timeline (OTL, our world), germ theory wasn’t even on the radar until 1847, when Ignaz Semmelweis made the connection between puerperal fever and doctor hygiene (or lack thereof). This was the first strong proof for germs being the cause of disease, but his theory was ridiculed by the scientific community. It took over ( at least) 30 years before the germ theory was accepted as fact.” Wikipedia.

Go for the Garlic

First cultivated over 5000 years ago, this Central Asia native has a reputation as a culinary and medicinal star in traditional medicine for centuries.  Ancient cultures used garlic to aid the heart and digestion, as well as improved physical strength. And don’t forget its famous ability to ward off vampires and even Dracula himself. (Just kidding). This potent powerhouse enlivens the flavor and nutrition of any dish, leaving a lasting impact on the palate as well as the breath.

It’s a good source of vitamins minerals and anti-antioxidants-  one small bulb packs 7% DV based on 2000 calories per day of heart healthy vitamin B6 and 23% DV and 15% DV respectively of manganese and vitamin C, known to protect against damaging free radicals. That comes with 1 bulb with 42 calories.

“Wild garlic has been widely touted for its heart protection, the research on proven benefits is conflicting. However a recent meta analysis of more than 100 studies provided consistent evidence that garlic powder reduces total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, fasting blood glucose, and blood pressure. Garlic also has been linked to the fight against some cancers. A study in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found that high intake of allium (the active ingredient) vegetables is likely to reduce the risk of cancer, though more research is needed to confirm this effect.”

“When using fresh garlic bulbs choose tight, firm bulbs with dry, unbroken skin. Keep it uncovered in a dark dry place and it will stay fresh for about a month. Chopping, mincing, and smashing activate garlic’s healthful properties. Enjoy fresh raw garlic pureed into creamy hummus or other healthy dips; roasted releases its creamy sweetness;  spread on crackers or mix with steamed vegetables or add minced to salad dressings.”

Source:

Lori Zanteson. Environmental Nutrition, Volume: EN20-DGGENSC

Garlic Bulbs in Bangkok

Where’s the Pork?

” I am not a vegan, but I tend to be aware of the importance of how and what we eat in terms of sustainability, a respect for animal welfare and the impact of food on our environment.” FROM ABOUT THIS BLOG : FOOD, FACTS AND FADS.

Now is the time to “practice what we preach”. It will be interesting to see what happens in California. I am on the side of the animals (pigs, chickens, and veal calves).

CLICK HERE.

What Exactly is Herd Immunity?

This morning after reading the latest from our local paper on Covid stats (Citizen Times, Thursday, July 29, 2021) CitzenTimes.com., an opinion article authored by Eugene Robinson, Columnist was titled “The unvaccinated are testing our luck.” With a background of teaching college level courses in Infectious disease, I was drawn to the article that featured herd immunity, which in my opinion, is not well defined on our media.

Quote from the first paragraph:

“It is hard to know how deadly and disruptive the COVID-19 surge brought on by the delta variant will ultimately prove to be. But one thing is clear: It is completely unnecessary. The vast majority of those who now get sick have only themselves to blame.”

Quote from the last paragraph:

“Any effective investment in getting the nation and the world to herd immunity will ultimately be worthwhile. And it is in everyone’s interest to save anti-vaxxers from their own wrongheaded stubborness.”

Please read for more, Click HERE.

When the Prescription is a Recipe?

“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”  This famous quote is often attributed to Hippocrates. But, as research by Diana Cardenas in 2013 shows, this quote can not be found anywhere in Hippocrates’ writings. Diana Cardenas discovered that the quote started to emerge from 1926 on and really started to get popular in the 1970s.

There are good reasons for the quote to go round, though. Hippocrates considered nutrition one of the main tools that a doctor can use. More than that, dietary measures play a lead part in the original oath of Hippocrates. I

But the original Greek oath, literally translated, says: “I will apply dietetic and lifestyle measures to help the sick to my best ability and judgment; I will protect them from harm and injustice.”

The dietetic and lifestyle measures are just one word in Greek, διαιτήμασί (pronounce as “deaytimasy”). You may recognize the word “diet” in there. It means as much as a lifestyle regime, with a focus on diet. Exercise is also part of it. Sometimes it is just translated as: dietetic measures.

“Recently, some medical doctors and communities have taken this idea literally and have brought the nutrition to the patient. Sprawling across 2,658 square feet, three stories up Boston Medical Center’s rooftop farm produces more than 25 varieties of crops and houses three beehives to aid in pollination. From collards and chard to radishes, carrots, bok choy and more, the farm supplies the hospital with 5,000 to 6,000 pounds of fresh produce during the brief Massachusetts growing season. More than half goes to the Boston Preventive Food Pantry, which now serves more than 22,000 families annually. The rest is used in hospital meals and the on-site teaching kitchen that offers free culinary classes for staff, patients and their families.” Source: Farming at New Heights, by Pooja Makhijani. Eating Well, June, 2021.

The goal of these innovative programs is to get nutritious food to people who maybe cannot afford or have access to them to ultimately help to prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

For more CLICK HERE.

The Med Diet and Inflammation

Believe it or not inflammation starts as a good thing. It happens when your immune system sends white blood cells and compounds like eicosanoids to attack invading viruses, bacteria and toxins. This can result in a classic example of totally normal inflammation:  Pain, heat, redness and swelling around a wound or an injury.

According to Barry Sears, PhD,  creator of the Zone diet, “there’s a separate response called resolution that is the first phase of inflammation that causes cellular destruction and the second phase resolution that begins cellular repair.  As long as those phases are balanced, you stay well. But for more and more of us, balance never happens. That’s because sugar, refined grains and saturated fat can also trigger an inflammatory immune response and the typical US standard diet is packed with them, meaning every time we eat, we are inflaming our bodies over and over. Meanwhile, the average American gets way too little of fruits and non-starchy veggies which are packed with antioxidants that help cool things down as well as fatty fish with omega-3 fats that can reduce the intensity of the initial inflammatory response and can help move your body into the second phase of resolution (cellular repair).

But the plan with the most research behind it is the traditional Mediterranean diet. Several large studies have found that people who follow a Mediterranean pattern of eating have lower levels of the inflammatory markers, C reactive protein and interleukin 6, in their blood compared with those who don’t. “This may be one of the reasons the Mediterranean diet is linked to so many health benefits, from keeping weight down to slashing heart and stroke risks, says Frank Hu, MD , professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

“Air pollution and environmental toxins also trigger your immune system this way but most of the chronic, extra inflammation in our bodies is diet related” says Sears  “in arteries chronic inflammation can lead to heart disease, in the brain it’s linked to anxiety and depression, in your joints, it causes swelling and pain, in the gut inflammation throws off balance of helpful bacteria and causes direct damage to the lining of the intestines.”

“You don’t have to follow any specific anti-inflammatory (AI ) diet to make a big difference; a healthy body is built to handle the occasional onslaught of inflammation;  It’s the regular, consistent consumption and over-consumption of inflammatory foods like sugar and saturated fat that’s linked to serious disease” says Sonya Angelone, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

A 2012 study of nearly 2000 people, for example, found that those who ate the most sweets over two years had significantly higher levels of interleukin-6  (an inflammatory marker) than people who ate more veggies fruits and whole grains.

Follow these guidelines on most days

Limit added sugar and sweet drinks. A small study in 2005, people who were fed a high-sugar diet for 10 weeks compared to controls had significantly elevated blood levels of an inflammatory marker that in high concentrations is associated with diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and obesity.

 Aim for half to 2/3 of your plate to be non-starchy vegetables as they are packed with gut balancing fiber and powerful antioxidants.

  Eat fatty fish (salmon, tuna)  or take omega-3 supplements (at least 1000 milligrams daily).

“Cut out white flour and limit flour-based foods. Focus on whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and bulgur wheat. Even 100% whole grain flour will cause a spike in blood sugar that exacerbates inflammation, especially for people with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, or diabetes,”  Dr. Sears says.

Choose fats carefully. Limit saturated fats like butter and skip vegetable oils that are high in omega-6 fats, such as safflower oil and corn oils. (Read ingredient labels). Go for olive oil, avocado oil, or walnut oil instead.

NOTE: Americans came to consume more than 18 billion pounds of soybean oil by 2001 – more than 80 percent of all oils eaten in the U.S – and most of that soybean oil was partially hydrogenated, containing a hefty load of trans fat (not heart healthy).  It is mainly used in processed foods. Source: Nina Teicholz. “The Big Fat Surprise,” 2014,  page 237-238.

Shopping For Health

THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET SHOPPING LIST – Eating Well Magazine

A great body of evidence shows that this way of eating plant-based foods, healthy fats, lean proteins, whole grains in modern amounts of wine may help you live longer and stave off chronic disease such as heart disease and diabetes. One key component of the Mediterranean diet is the emphasis on foods that may thwart inflammation and oxidative stress which is at the root of many chronic diseases. These foods include omega-3 rich fish, fruits, and vegetables, nuts and seeds and healthy oils. The dietary pattern is particularly rich in monounsaturated fats which can help decrease bad LDL cholesterol and raise good HDL cholesterol – a win win for the cardiovascular system plus, the heightened emphasis on plant-based foods ensures a bounty of fiber and phyto- nutrients.

EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL is at the core of the Med Diet. It is rich in tocopherols (vitamin E), carotenoids (vitamin A), and polyphenols. Alternatives include avocado oil and walnut oil.

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES) (from any source – fresh, frozen, canned). Emphasize kale, beet greens, mustard greens, collard greens, artichokes, beets, broccoli, cucumber, eggplant, mushrooms, onions. Garlic is a mainstay in cooking.

Common fruits include apples, apricots, avocados, berries, citrus, dates, figs, stone fruit and pomegranate. Lemons are often used.

FRESH HERBS AND SPICES are staples. Their use reduces the need to add excess salt plus provide many antioxidants. Most common are parsley basil, oregano coriander, bay leaves.

FRESH AND CANNED SEAFOOD provide necessary protein and healthy fats. Omega-3 rich fish such as tuna, sardines, and salmon as well as mussels, clams and shrimp. Consumption is encouraged about twice a week.

WHOLE GRAINS. Wheat is the most common, but other grains like farro, bulgur, couscous, and barley are also favorites. Look for the term “whole” or “whole grain” that should be the first ingredient listed on the ingredient label.

LEGUMES.  One of the most prevalent pulses in  Mediterranean cuisine is the chickpea, which is often whipped into hummus, formed in falafel and tossed into salads. Lentils are also commonly used in soups and stews.  Other meals can include black Eyed Peas, kidney beans and cannellini beans that often are tossed into salads.

NUTS AND SEEDS are enjoyed as a satisfying snack thanks to their fiber, protein, and fat content. A common condiment on the coastline of the Mediterranean is tahini , which is made from ground sesame seeds . Most famously used in hummus this versatile condiment can be used  in sauces or dressings to spoon over roasted veggies or grain bowls.

OLIVES AND CAPERS are enjoyed as a simple snack and are among the most popular as Kalamata olives often tossed into Greek salads and pasta or into a tapenade. Olives are rich sources of antioxidant polyphenols and heart healthy fats. Brined or dried, capers are praised for their briny bite and the way they effortlessly punch up the flavor of pasta, baked fish and dressings.

CANNED TOMATOES Whole, diced, stewed or concentrated into a paste, both canned and fresh tomatoes are everyday staples in the Mediterranean . Canned tomato products are particularly rich in lycopene due to the heating process which may help protect against certain cancers. A few tomato centric staples in the Mediterranean include stuffed tomatoes, baked fish with tomatoes and of course, marinara sauce.

GREEK YOGURT AND ARTISANAL CHEESES The Mediterranean diet encourages savoring small amounts of full fat dairy, in addition to providing extra protein. Yogurt can provide healthy probiotics for the microbiome. Be sure to watch the labels and avoid those with a lot of added sugars. The Mediterranean regions spotlights traditionally cultured cheeses made from milk and natural cultures as to some of the more processed varieties (Velveeta) commonly available in the US. The French are famous for their love of hard cheeses eaten in moderation (not added to fast foods). They offer cheese with fruit as a dinner course.

Beyond being used in the classic Greek salad, feta cheese often accompanies stews and fish dishes. Halloumi cheese is known for its firm texture, which makes it suitable for grilling and frying. Harder cheeses like Pecorino Romano and Parmegiano Reggiano are often grated into pasta., while manchego can be baked into egg dishes.

RED WINE. Vine is a common accompaniment to Mediterranean meals, but it’s generally consumed in moderation (a five ounce pour is the standard.) Red wine, in particular, contains antioxidant polyphenols and the flavonoid resveratrol , which will help increase HDL cholesterol (good) and decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

Born to Be Fat? An Update.

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Is It In Your Genes?

Have you ever wondered why some people gain weight very easily and others can eat all they want and not gain an ounce?   Please read a previous post entitled “Born to Be Fat?” Click here.

Ethan Sims of the University of Vermont studied prisoners at a nearby state prison who volunteered to gain weight.  They succeeded with great difficulty to increase their weights on average by 20-25% and it took 4-6 months.

Some consumed 10,000 calories/day and once fat, their metabolisms increased by 50% When the study ended, the prisoners had no trouble losing weight. Within months, they were back to normal and kept their weights stable.

These results suggest that there is a reason that overweight people cannot stay thin after they diet and that thin people cannot stay fat when forced to gain weight. The body’s metabolism speeds up or slows down to keep weight within a narrow range.

Recently, some new research adds more insights about how our DNA is involved. Here are some highlights:

Researchers deleted a gene called MRAP2 in mice that acts in the brain and controls how quickly calories are burned.  It turned out that this gene helped another gene known to control appetite. These animals ate the same amount of calories as lean mice, but gained weight.

They also found a mutation in the same gene in a severely obese child and are now searching for other mutations that have the same or similar effects. If the gene that was helped to control appetite was not controlled by the helper gene (MRAP2), then the animals developed tremendous appetites, gained the weight without eating more calories and the weight resulted in fat accumulation.

People are often blamed for their own lack of self-control over eating or that they do not exercise, but in some people this is just not the case.

Researchers based at University College London reported that a specific form of a gene previously linked to obesity, FTO, could increase craving for high-fat foods. This gene makes an appetite hormone named ghrelin that works on the brain’s pleasure center to make high calorie foods more appetizing and desirable.

In this study, the researchers divided a group of 359 healthy men of normal weight by their FTO gene makeup. The majority of the men had low-risk versions of the gene, while 45 of the participants had mutations that have been linked to greater appetite and caloric consumption. They then measured levels of ghrelin both before and after meals that the participants ate. The men with the low-risk form of FTO showed a significant drop in ghrelin levels after the meals that signified that they were full while the men with the mutated form did not show this effect.    

It is thought that about 70% of obesity causes are genetically controlled but that environmental influence on the genes can certainly occur.

The results did not mean that people are completely helpless to control their weight, but it does appear that people who tend to be overweight have a greater battle with their genes if they want to lose weight and maintain that weight loss.

As stated before, body weight is so highly regulated by so many physiological and psychological factors with many body systems involved, especially the brain.  Maybe in the next few years or so, we can begin to figure out what actually causes weight gain and that it’s not just gluttony and lack of self-control. All these studies are valuable pieces of the puzzle.

Is Aging Affected by How We Live?

In order to understand how aging or longevity  can be influenced by our lifestyles one has to have a basic understanding of epigenetics  – still considered a controversial factor in disease and our overall health (morbidity and morality). Even though it is still to be determined, epigenetics is an interesting topic and thought-provoking hypothesis. Simply it is how we treat our bodies and how the resultant “wear and tear” on our health can lead to chronic diseases as well as how long we may live as determined by its affects on our genes. Here is how it works:

CLICK HERE.