Monday, December 06, 2004

Income Distribution and Wealth Creation
Income distribution is who makes how much money. It usually refers to the population of a whole country, and to the total of all salaries or wages. In 1990 in the US, the richest 20% made 44% of all income, the poorest 20% made only 4.6% of all income. How does this compare to Brazil? In 1996 the richest 20% of Brazilians made 63% of all income, while the poorest 20% made only 3% of all income.

When there is a big middle class, more people can go to college and make use of their talents. The whole country benefits. If the poor become the biggest group, then the talents of these people--potentially high IQs, batting averages, etc.--are wasted. The country as a whole looses out. But if the rich create jobs and wealth, why shouldn't they be encouraged? CEOs don't create wealth, they only redistribute it. Any one executive could (and would!) be easily replaced by another. Only a company with a real innovation is irreplaceable. Only inventors and entrepreneurs really create wealth.

Flat Tax is Not a Fair Tax

Graduated tax system with no exemptions/deductions-- Everyone contributes to financing the government. The poor would not face a jump from paying no tax to paying 17% tax. This would encourage the poor to stay poor. Most exemptions/deductions come as favors to industry or wealthy people. The middle class are unable to take advantage of exemptions and deduction which serve as a barrier between the middle class and the rich.

Flat Tax-- a flat tax system would have everybody pays the same rate. This system seems fair on the surface. If the tax rate were 10%, a poor person who makes $10,ooo/yr would pay $1,000 in taxes while a rich person who makes $1,000,000/yr would pay $100,000 in taxes. You make more, you pay more.

Graduated Tax-- However, another dollar added to a rich person's income means less than another dollar to a poor person. In other words, when poor people get another dollar, they might use it to eat better. When rich people get another dollar, they will only increase their level of luxury.

National Sales Tax-- This benifits the rich. The poor spend a larger porportion of thier income in stores than the rich.

Graduated tax system with no exemptions/deductions-- Everyone contributes to financing the government. The poor would not face a jump from paying no tax to paying 17% tax. This would encourage the poor to stay poor. Most exemptions/deductions come as favors to industry or wealthy people. The middle class are unable to take advantage of exemptions and deduction which serve as a barrier between the middle class and the rich.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

ER-- Safety Net of US Health Care

ERs operate as the safety net for our health care system. COBRA/EMTALA legislation mandate that ERs see and treat any and all patients. However, with increases in the numbers of uninsured and decreases in federal and private reimbursement, ERs are losing money while treating more patients than ever before. Currently, 80% of ERs in the US are running at capacity. The following list discribes health care populations who fall into the ER safety net: 1. EMS ground/air 2. Uninsured 3. Patient dumping (other hospitals) 4. After hours 5. Nursing homes 6. Disaster response 7. Prisons/Jails 8. Clinic overflow 9. Homeless 10. Psych Crisis

Uninsured in America Aurthur Kellermann, Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine and Director of the Center for Injury Control, Rollins School of Public Health testified before the US Congress and dispelled 4 commonly held beliefs about the 45 million uninsured in America. Myth: “People without health insurance get the medical care they need.” Myth: “Most people without health insurance are young, healthy adults who decline coverage offered in the workplace because they feel they don’t need it.” Myth: “Most of the uninsured don’t work, or live in families where no one works.” Myth: “Recent immigration has been a major source of the increase in the uninsured population."

Aurthur Kellermann, Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine and Director of the Center for Injury Control, Rollins School of Public Health testified before the US Congress and dispelled 4 commonly held beliefs about the 45 million uninsured in America.

Myth: “People without health insurance get the medical care they need.” Reality: In any given year, the uninsured are much more likely to lack needed medical care. They are less likely to see a doctor, receive fewer preventive services such as blood pressure checks, mammograms and screening for colorectal cancer, and are less likely to have a regular source of medical care particularly for those with chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Myth: “Most people without health insurance are young, healthy adults who decline coverage offered in the workplace because they feel they don’t need it.” Reality: Young adults are more likely than persons of other ages to be uninsured largely because they are ineligible for workplace health insurance – many are too new in their jobs, or they work for a business that does not provide health insurance coverage to its employees. Only 4 percent of all workers ages 18 – 44, or about 3 million people, are uninsured because they declined available workplace health insurance. Many of these do so because they can’t afford their share of the premium. Nearly four times as many workers in the same age group, approximately 11 million people, are uninsured because their employer does not offer health insurance, and they cannot afford to purchase insurance elsewhere.

Myth: “Most of the uninsured don’t work, or live in families where no one works.” Reality: More than eighty percent of uninsured children and adults under the age of 65 live in working families. While working improves the chances that both the worker and his or her family will be insured, it is not a guarantee. Even members of families with two full-time wage earners have almost a one-in-ten chance of being uninsured.

Myth: “Recent immigration has been a major source of the increase in the uninsured population.” Reality: Between 1994 and 1998, over 80 percent of the growth in the size of the uninsured population consisted of U.S. citizens. Recent immigrants (those who have resided in the U.S. for fewer than 6 years) are about three times as likely as members of the general population to be uninsured, but they comprise only about 6 percent of the
uninsured population.

Non-hispanic whites comprise 50% of the uninsured. African Americans are twice as likely to be uninsured as non-hispanic whites. Hispanic whites are three times as likely to be uninsured as non-hispanic whites. Foreign-born U.S. residents are three times as likely to be uninsured as people born in this country. Among the foreign born, non-citizens are more than twice as likely to lack coverage as naturalized citizens.

The risk of being uninsured varies regionally. Roughly a quarter of the populations of Florida, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California are uninsured.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

US health care- the "room to room" system

Marc E Babitz, MD, department of family and preventive medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, discusses the weaknesses of US heath care. He describes the US health care system as the “room to room to room” system. Physicians see patients in clinic exam rooms, emergency rooms, and operating rooms. To improve health care in the US, we need to focus on caring for the patient who is not in the room.

The US spends more than any other country on health care: over $1.2 trillion/year (2001), 14% of GDP, or 4,000/individual/yr is spent on
health care costs.

However, the US is last among industrialized nations in health care quality: Infant Mortality: ranking from 18th – 22nd in the world, Life Expectancy: ranking from 16th –24th in the world, Overall Health Care: 37th in the world (WHO Report 2000).

Barriers to Health Care:
Financial— 42.5 million working uninsured, 20+ million on Medicaid.
Geographical— rural, urban, transportation.
Availability— US physicians 30% primary care, 70% subspecialty, 9a-5p hours of operation, full clinic schedules (busy but inefficient).
Culture and Language.

Steps to a Solution:
1. Identify population: geographic boundaries, economic boundaries, ethnicity, children, elderly, pregnant, homeless, uninsured.
2. Assess needs: qualitative/subjective data—interviews, focus groups, surveys. Talk to everyone who has an interest in your population (e.g. government officials, parents, teachers, physicians, social workers, public health department). No one person will have “all the answers.” Quantitative/objective data—obtain epidemiological data from health department, community emergency departments.
3. Design Intervention—prioritize population needs. Interventions must satisfy the following considerations: Accessible, Acceptable, Accountable, Comprehensive, Coordinated, Continuing.
4. Assess Efficacy—measure whether intervention is making a difference. Cease intervention if no, celebrate if yes.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

More than Heaven and Hell

Many interpret the Bible to say that one must confess Jesus is the Christ to qualify for salvation. The Bible also states that at some future date "all knees shall bow and all tongues shall confess that Jesus is the Christ." Does this mean that everyone despite our comportment in this life will be saved and go to heaven. Well, yes and no. This issue comes down to our understanding of salvation and heaven.

Paul discussed the redemption of the the body at the time of the resurrection by describing differing states of quickening, "there are bodies Celestial... Terestrial... and Telestial." These states are likened unto the differing glories of the sun, moon and stars in magnitude respectively. So, according to Paul all men will be resurrected, saved from hell, and redeemed to some level of glory by the grace of God. But, only those who are raised to Celestial glory not only receive salvation from hell but also exaltation.

What is the Mormon concept of heaven, salvation, and exaltation? Mormons believe that one who qualifies for the highest degree of Celestial glory will, together with their spouse to whom they have been married for time and eternity, live with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. They will receive perfect glorified bodies, will be able to progress in intelligence, power, and have eternal increase until they have become like God. They will have Eternal families and enjoy the same sociality enjoyed in this life. Some consider this concept of heaven and salvation as heresy, sacrilege, and blasphemy.

I desire an eternal family and eternal progression in the next life and these are things that other faiths have no concept of. Mormon missionaries are not telling people that they are going to hell if they don't become Mormons but that there is more to the next life than just heaven and hell. Ask yourself. What does you’re religion teach about the what heaven in like? What have you always felt it will be like? Do you want to just be saved from hell, or do you want an Eternal family and Eternal progression?

Friday, September 10, 2004

Proof of God’s Existence

It is impossible for man to prove God’s existence. It is like-wise impossible for man to disprove God’s existence.

It is impossible for man to prove God’s existence. It is like-wise impossible for man to disprove God’s existence. Man acceptance of God is based on faith, hope, and imperfect knowledge because if he were to have a perfect knowledge of God, he would be god. “Eternal life is to know God” Eternal life equals life as god. Also, rejection of God is also based on faith and imperfect knowledge. And, just as Dr. Lund argues, an Atheist would have to be a god to prove that God does not exist.

Gerald Lund states about an antangonistic and agnostic character in the Book of Mormon: "Korihor will consider only evidence that can be gathered through the senses. In such a system, it is much easier to prove there is a God than to prove there is not a God. To prove there is a God, all it takes is for one person to see, hear, or otherwise have an experience with God, and thereafter the existence of God cannot be disproved. But here is what it would take to prove there is no God: Since God is not confined to this earth, we would have to search throughout the universe for him. We assume God is able to move about, so it would not be enough to start at point A in the universe and search through to point Z. What if after we leave point A, God moves there and stays there fore the rest of the search? In other words, for Korihor to say that there is no God, based on the very criteria he himself has established, he would have to perceive every cubic meter of the universe simultaneously. This creates a paradox: In order for Korihor to prove there is no God, he would have to be a god himself! Therefore, in declaring there is no God, he is acting on "faith," the very thing for which he so sharply derides the religious leaders!

Gerald Lund's "Countering Korihor's Philosophies." (Ensign, July 1992)

Not believing in God is too risky.

Theist, Atheist, Agnostic. Lets weight the risks and benefits.

What do you get if you believe in God and God does not exist? A good, happy life. A few restrictions. However, I do not regret never smoking, drinking, lying, cheating, stealing, killing, fornicating, idoliterating or adulterating. Oh, and I have to pay 10% tithing. But church has been a nice social club and is worth the money. Believing in God helps me and inspires me through the hard times.

So what do you get if you believe in God and God exists? All of the above and a chance at Eternal rewards.

What do you get if you do not believe in God or don’t know and God does not exist? I get to do what I want but have to learn from my own mistakes. I risk suffering adversity alone. I make up my own rules. I risk hurting others and risk have regrets. But when I die, I die and its over. There may hope in reincarnation.

What do you get if you do not believe in God or don’t know and God does exist? All of the above and the risk of Eternal punishment.

Hey, I am a theist because of what I get out of it. If there is an after-life and if there is a God, I want to be ready to meet Him and be judged by Him; my actions, thoughts, and desires. What do I loose? Well, so far I have everything I have ever wanted. And even when bad things happen in my life, some lose, some adversity, my faith in God strengthens me, and gives me hope. What hope? That If I do what I believe God wills me to do in this life that the things that matter most: family, friends and ability to love will go with me into the next life. Rabbi Kushner a renowed Jewish Rabbi in a BYU talk of the year in 1995 said that believing in God gave him value as an individual and self worth to think that the supreme intelligence, being, and power of the universe cared about what he ate for breakfast, who he slept with, what clothes he wore, and what he did on Sunday.

Agnostics declare ignorance or the reality of God's existance. They, in many cases, honestly conclude that they do not have enough circumstancial evidence one way or another to convince them of God's existence. Well, this is also a risky position.

See, an agnostic is making a big assumption. He is counting on that his ignorance of God’s existence justifies him from any penalties. But, if God does exist, it’s God who makes the rules and not man. There is a chance that ignorance will not be an acceptable excuse for violating God’s rules. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” (Isa. 55:8)

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Irritable Bowel, Chronic Fatigue, and Fibromyalgia

A clinical review in JAMA discusses a new theory into the misunderstood diseases of Irritable Bowel, Chronic Fatigue, and Fibromyalgia. It also suggests how these three disorders may be connected. Irritable bowel disease can present with many different symptoms. However, bloating after eating a meal is the most common symptom. Researchers discovered that the increased gas had less to do with an intolerance to any particular kind of food and more to do with bacterial overgrown in the small intestine. Bacteria do serve a critical role in the colon or large intestine. However, the small intestine between the stomach and the colon in healthy people is a mostly sterile environment. This is achieved by the acidity of the stomach which kills most bacteria which enters in the upper GI tract. On the other end a special valve at the insertion of the small intestine to the large intestine called the iliocecal valve prevents bacteria in the colon from ascending up and overgrown in the small intestine. Well, in the case of irritable bowel that is just what happens. The symptoms of bloating come from certain disaccharide like sorbitol, lactose, lactulose, and fructose found in certain foods which are not absorbed entirely in the upper small intestine, reach the bacteria in the lower small intestine and cause the bacteria to grow and produce gas. The small bowel gets distended due to the gas causing pain and bloating. The iliocecal valve keeps the gas bottled up in small intestine from being released into the colon and then expelled as flatus. Glucose and sucrose are easily absorbed in the upper small bowel and do not cause bacterial overgrown, gas production, bloating, and abdominal pain.

So, what about the constipation, diarrhea, or a combination of the two which are common symptoms in irritable bowel. Well, these symptoms are due to what kinds of bacteria are growing in the small intestine and what gases they produce. Methane gas causes decreased paristalsis and constipation. Other gases include hydrogen, and hydrogen sulfide. Diarrhea is related to toxins released by certain bacterias which stimulate the small intestine to secrete water. In the colon, a variety of bacteria are found that all compete with one another so no one kind overgrows the others. In the small intestine it is common for one or two specific bacterial species to overgrow and cause the symptoms of irritable bowel.

So, what about fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. It's no revelation that these mysterious disorders seem to run together. Well, researchers have discovered that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue may be caused by the same small intestine bacterial overgrown as irritable bowel. Turns out there is a great new test to diagnose irritable bowel. Symptomatic patients can be given a dose of oral lactulose and then a breathalizer test can be taken measuring for increased methane, hydrogen, and hydrogen sulfide production. Well, it turns out that patients with irritable bowel symptoms have higher gas production than healthy individual. What was even a greater surprise was that almost 100% of individuals suffering from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue symptoms also had positive lactulose challenge, breathalizer tests. This means that having fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue could be linked to bacterial overgrown and irritable bowel (chronic fatigue can be associated with post mononucleosis as well as other potential chronic infectious, genetic, and environmental diseases and exposures).

However, not all individuals with irritable bowel have fibromyalgia. This is due to the kind of bacteria that is overgrown in the small bowel and the individual's immune reponse to the specific bacterial strain. According to the article, bacteria as well as signs of inflammation where found in neighboring lymph nodes adjacent to the small intestine in suffers of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. The subsequent inflammatory reaction to the bacteria results in the characteristic body aches, pains, malaise, and fatigue.

So, what to do about it. Well no official studies have been perfomed. But the review article suggests several ideas. While symptoms persist, an irritable bowel sufferer should temporarily avoid foods that contain complex disaccharide such as lactose (dairy products), sorbitol (apple juice), and even fructose (fruit) in some cases. Suffers will need to learn which foods cause bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Temporarily eliminating these from the diet will stop feeding the bacteria in the lower small intestine and prevent the bacterial overgrown and gas production.

Another idea it to replace bad bacteria with good bacteria. Since, bacterial overgrown is believed to be due to one or two offending stains of bacteria, adding good bacteria to the mix could help control bacterial overgrown by increasing the competition for food between good and bad bacteria. Yogurt and Cranberry juice have not been shown effective in helping to alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel due to active yogurt culture and antibiotic properties in the later. This is probably because these also contain lactose and fructose which exacerbate the condition. Several prescription and nonprescription products which contain milk bacteria (Lactobacillis acidophilis) or other mixed strains of bacteria (probiotics) may be helpful (Culturel, Bifidobacterium bifidus, fecal probiotics). Probiotic therapies have proven successful in the treatment of inflammatory bowel (Crohns disease, Ulcerative colitis, Clostridium difficile colitis, recurrent diarrhea, rota virus?).

Finally, 14 day treatment with the antibiotic Flagyl (metronitazole) is also effective at treating irritable bowel. However, doctors feel uneasy about relying on antibiotic treatment due to possible emergence of resistant basteria strains.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Personal Statement Howto

FIRST STEP: The Variables
While working on a project last year, I found myself reading through a series of personal statements for applications to law, business, and medical school. To my astonishment, the letters were completely identical in structure to each other. What's more, they were indistinguishable to the personal statement I had written for medical school three years prior. And here I was thinking I had come up with some wholly unique document. Well, turns out there exists a formula to the personal statement which I will attempt to describe as well as giving some advice on how to personalize a entirely generic essay.

Writing the personal statement can be the toughest part of the application. The challenges are in being original and illustrating character without bragging. The first step is knowing yourself and seeing what makes you unique. Diversity is a hot commodity so, make sure your personal statement showcases your individuality and diverse life experience. Too often, we go through life not realizing or appreciating the people who have influenced us or experiences that shape us. So, before you begin writing your statement, think and write about these influences. What did you learn from each experience, from the people you served, and from those you worked with?

FIRST STEP: The Variable
What were the 5 experiences that helped you realize your chosen medical specialty is right for you?
Where were you?
What happened, what did you accomplish?
Who did you serve, who did you work with?
How did you feel, what did you realize?
How did the experience change you?
Who are the 5 people in your life that had the biggest influence on you?
Who is the person, what did they do?
How did you come to know them?
What is it about them that influenced you?
How did you feel, and how did they change you?

Paint a portrait of yourself using these specific examples. Hopefully, you'll have many experiences through your extracurricular activities to draw upon when writing your personal statement. Remember, its these experiences, influences and your feelings about them that will make your personal statement unique.

SECOND STEP: The Formula
The second step in creating your statement involves understanding the framework of your future masterpiece. Personal statements follow a rigid 5-7 paragraph format. Since it is recommended that your statement not exceed one page, 5-7 short paragraphs is all you'll have room for. The first paragraph contains the "catchy opening sentence" as well as the thesis statement. Most people consider the opening sentence the most difficult part of the personal statement. The goal is to highjack the readers attention. Despite what you learned in Freshman English, starting with a quote is NOT interesting. Rather, you end up communicating that you are so unimaginative you needed someone else write your opening sentence for you. If you think there is a quote that sums up your existence, consider using it in the body of your statement. The way to capture the attention of the reader is to make them FEEL an emotion. This is most appropriately done through humor, or surprise. Since the rest of your personal statement, most likely, will be trying to be warm and touching; a humorous, surprising, or odd intro will provide contrast (e.g. comic relief).

One way to accomplish this task as well as communicate how one-of-a-kind you are it to think about something you have done, seen, experienced, or know about what no one else on the planet has done, seen, experienced, or knows about; or at least no other residency applicants. Maybe you have a unique hobby or interest? Lead into your statement using an anecdote, quote, question, or engaging description based on your unique theme. Then tie your theme into your thesis. For example, I am into Amateur (HAM) radio. My callsign is KB7BXP. So, I started my personal statement with: "CQ, CQ, CQ. This is KB7BXP, calling CQ, CQ, CQ." The next step is to tie your "intro" into being a doctor, or why you want to be a [whatever]. For example, I told about the time I contacted someone from the still communist Russia and like radio, medicine allows me to "connect" with others in a unique way. Then comes the thesis statement. This is something stating that your interest in [your specialty] is rooted in or stems from several unique experiences which impacted you and several people who influenced you. Then you will go on to share a few anecdotes from your life which will illustrate who you are and why your so convinced [your specialty] is meant for you. The next 3-5 paragraphs will be the anecdotes derived from the list of events, people, etc. that you made in the FIRST STEP.

A great way to talk about your accomplishments with out bragging about them is to focus your paragraph on someone you met while you were running into burning buildings to save hundreds of helpless children. You could focus on the bravery of firefighter Joe who went into the burning building with you. Then by inference, the reader will know you must have been in the burning building as well.Finally, your concluding paragraph should make reference to your initial theme and restate your thesis. I accomplished this by writing: "The ability to communicate and connect with people all over the world makes amateur radio a rewarding hobby. As a physician, I will connect with others by . . ." I then restated my thesis by summing up again the theme of my personal statement.

SECOND STEP: The Formula
Paragraph 1: catchy intro, thesis
Paragraph 2: person/place/thing/experience 1,
Paragraph 3: person/place/thing/experience 2,
Paragraph 4: person/place/thing/ experience 3,
Paragraph 5: person/place/thing/ experience 4,
Paragraph 6: refer to intro, restate thesis.

THIRD STEP: Plug and Chug
The third and final step is to put it all together. Come up with several interesting introductions, thesis statements, and personal anecdotes. Your personal statement should be longer than a single page at this point with the goal to select the intro, and 3-5 personal anecdotes that will work the best. Solicit the advice of friends, fellow students, spouses, parents, teachers, doctors in helping you rework, develop, edit and select the best material to keep in your personal statement.Lastly, you must work on flow and continuity between paragraphs. This can be a challenge as each of your paragraphs will be talking about completely different things. One way to connect paragraphs is to briefly allude to your thesis statement to make the transition. Then don't forget to edit for spelling and grammar. Remember everything your Freshman English teacher told you about using parallel construction (not only, but also), and avoiding passive speech.

THIRD STEP: Plug and Chug
Write several interesting, odd, humorous intros
Compile 7-10 personal anecdotes
Solicit others to edit, develop, rework and weed out anecdotes
Work on flow and continuity between paragraphs
Edit for spelling and grammar

Remember, I said that most personal statements will follow this format. So, by mindlessly following the suggestions here you'll likely get a drab, boring statement. These suggestion are intended as a place to start but hopefully by the end it shouldn't be obvious that your statement is following any generic formula. Also, if you have an experience or "ah-hah" moment that is particularly profound, you should consider devoting 2-3 paragraphs or even the entire statement to it. Your statement should be in a light conversational tone. Do not include specific names as that wil be interpreted as name dropping. And finally, your statement should reflect a little of your personality. Getting a sense of your personality is the major purpose applicants are required to write personal statements in the first place. In the end, If your statement reflects who you are, it will be as unique as you are.

Infant Formula and Omega-3-Fatty Acids

Enfamil and Simulac have developed new infant formulas that include important omega-3-fatty acids. These essential fatty acids cannot be made by our bodies are are impotant constituents of cell membranes as well as the meylin sheath of neurons in the brain. They also naturally occur in mother's breast milk. It is amazing how erogant we can be that either by divine design or evolution, mammals have the ability to provide the perfect food for their offspring and we think we can simply replace it with some synthetic substitute.

Hundreds of studies show the benifits of breast milk versus the deficiencies of formula. Some of formula's deficiencies include an average IQ lose of 5 points, as well as increased illness, greater severity of illness, and greater incidence of allergy problems. Research is showing us that omega-3-fatty acids play an important role as anti-inflammatory agents, immune modulators and decrease the risk of many autoimmune dieases as well as decreasing the incidence of eczema and asthma. They also play an important role in nerve meylination which could have significant effects in emotional and physical development, future mental health and coordination. Many infant formulas have had omega-3-fatty acids from the beginning and only emphasize it now because it is "en vogue".

Fruititarian Fallacy

Fruititarianism believes that all food should be eaten raw, organic, and all natural as God intended it. The claim being that many nutrients are lost though the cooking and preparation process. Well, there is a shred of truth to this aurgument. It is clear that the extensive food processing that is done today strips many essential vitamins and minerals from food. We would all do better by avoiding processed foods that have become such a mainstay of the American diet. However, new research presents an interesting aurgument to the "raw is right" stance.

Lycopene is a molecule found in tomatos which has been shown to decrease a man's risk of developing prostate cancer. Well, it turns out that a fresh garden tomato is NOT the best sourse of lycopene. The best source just so happens to be good old American Ketchup. This aurgument seems to be a case of extreme pendulum swinging.

The truth is that certain vitamins and minerals are made more or less bioavailable by how the food is prepared. Nutrients in raw foods have a different bioavailibility than those in food which are steamed, boiled, fried, stewed, baked, or microwaved. The truth with regard to good health is to maintain a variety. Additionally, not only did God give us fruit to eat but he also gave us fire to cook it.

Trans-fatty acids and Alzheimer's

Together with a genetic suceptibility, those seniors who consumed more trans-fats in their diets had a 2.5 times greater correlation of Alzheimer's disease.

In the 1950's researchers discovered a link between saturated fat (animal fat) and heart disease. So, the food industry switched from using lard to using vegetable oil. However, vegetable oil is a liquid at room temperature and food makers needed a solid. So, scientists at Proctor & Gamble discovered the process of hydrogenation which removes some of the double bonds (kinks) in the long chain fatty acids. The resulting substance is a thick, greasy substance known as Crisco. However, some of the remaining double bonds get switched form the native cis- form to the abnormal trans- form.
What this means is that the body doesn't know what to do with the trans- form.

The body is picky about what molecules. The idea of chirality (handedness) is very important principle. Aminoacids, sugars, fats, and drugs all must be in the right configuration to be recignized and used by the body. Controlling the chirality of drugs is a $90 billion dollar industry (e.g. albuterol/levalbuterol, celexa/lexapro, claritin/clarinex).

Several things determine if a carbon chain is a gas, liguid(oil), or solid(wax) at room temperature. 1. length (e.g. propane[3C] = gas; octane[8C]= liquid; palmitate[16C]= wax). 2. functional groups (i.e. ethanol[2C+OH]= liguid). 3. double bonds (i.e. polyunsaturated fat[16C]= liquid). So, overal chain length helps the molecules stick together better at room temperture. Thus, long carbon chains are solid and short carbon chains are gases. However, functional groups like an alcohol can make chains stick together better. For example, ethanol[2C+OH] is a liquid at room temperature instead of a gas like propane[3C] and methane[1C]. An alcohol[OH] group is related to water[H2O] which is very cohesive. Double bonds on the other hand make long carbon chains not stick together as well at room temperature. A double bond makes a kink in the carbon chain which prevents them from stacking well together. This is what makes vegetable oil[14C] a liquid instead of wax at room temperature. Vegetable oil is polyunsaturated (multiple double bonds).

A study was reported in the annals of neurology which followed a cohort of elderly people in the Chicago area. They had these seniors record a few times a year what they ate during the day. It so happened that certain seniors in the study went on to develop Alzheimer's disease. Then with the help of a new USDA data base the researchers were able to make correlations between diet and risk of developing the disease. Well, there was only one very strong corellation and it was trans-fats. So, together with a genetic suceptibility, those seniors who consumed more trans-fats in their diets had a 2.5 times greater correlation of Alzheimer's disease.

Proctor & Gamble is currently selling off and devesting itself of all its food processing and production business.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Atkins vs. South Beach?

A conference was held this year bringing together representatives from several current Fad diets including: Atkin's, South Beach, the Zone, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, etc. It seems new diet crazes are popping up all the time. It's hard to know what to eat any more. Fruitatarians encourage a diet exclusively of raw organic foods while Vegans discourage the consumption of any animal products. On the other hand, Atkin's suggests a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet is best. If one were to follow all these guidelines the only thing left to eat would be DIRT. The purpose of the conference was to determine what dietary and nutrition guidelines could all these groups agree on. Well, the conference turned out to be a great success and the nutrition guidelines that were agreed to make up a balanced, common-sense diet we all can live.

1. Stay away from trans-fats. This is the stuff in the ingredients labeled "partially hydrogenenated vegetable oil." This is Crisco shortening. It is commonly found in margarine, artificial whipping cream, snack cakes, packaged cookies, bread and many other processed foods. So, butter is better than margarine. Trans-fats have reciently been linked to Alzheimer's Disease, type II diabetes, and heart disease. Trans-fats will be listed on all product labels beginning 2005.

2. Eat more Omega-3-fatty acids. This is the stuff in fish oil. It is a polyunsaturated fat, which is considered an essential fatty acid. This means our bodies can not make it. It is an essential vitamin just like A, C, E, B12 without which we would become diseased and die. Other sourses of Omega-3-fatty acid include venison, buffalo, canola oil, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts, almonds, and wheat germ. Supplementing can reduce risk and treat an array of conditions including: heart disease, hypertension, Alzheimer's, type II diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, other autoimmune dieases, and depression.

3. Exercise. Research was done in the 1950's looking at several groups of peoples around the world who had an extremely long lifespans. Researchers noted one group in Russia ate a peculiar food unkown at that time to the rest of the world; called Yogurt. Well, you know the rest of that story. Other fad foods have been introduced into our diets through similar studies without the desired health benifits. It turns out the one thing all these healthy, long-lived groups have in common is a lot of hard work and exercise. So, get off the couch, go out and get your pedometer, and walk your 10,000 steps a day.

4. Pay more for food. The American diet is killing us. Too much of the food we eat is processed and stripped of essential nutrients. We buy processed foods to save us time and money. However, we fail to appreciate how much time and money we're going to loose 20-30 years down the road when we've developed some terrible chronic disease.

5. Eat whole grains. Even Atkin's agrees that not all carbs are bad. The difference between some wheat bread and white bread is a little carmel coloring to turn it brown. Some wheat bread is made with varying amounts of the bran but very few wheat breads include the germ. Wheat germ contains fat and unless it is removed, flour will spoil and turn rancid within a few days (grandmother kept freshly ground flour in the freezer). Instead, to increase shelf life, the wheat germ is removed, sold to shampoo and cosmetic companies and the bread is then enriched with a few vitamins. Unfortunately, flour enrichment isn't able to put back everything that is taken out. Other fantastic grains include barley, sesame, oats, brown rice, rye, triticale, and corn.

6. Watch out for oxidants. Iron is the #1 oxidant consumed in our diet. Iron an essential mineral for blood cells and many other biochemical processes. Babies, children and menstrating females usually don't get enough iron because iron is poorly absorbed, they usually fail to eat enough red meat, and women loose iron by each month due to the bleeding associated with their period. However, post-menopausal women and adult men are suffering the results of too much iron. Research proves that iron oxidized bad cholesterol (LDL) which is directly related to the formation of the atherosclerotic plaque which causes heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. It has been shown that men who give blood twice a year can reduce their risk of heart disease. Additionally, it is important to note that white grape juice and orange juice facilitate iron absorption while purple grape juice inhibits absorption. So, the French and Italians had it right all along, "Red wine with Red meat." It's not the alcohol, its the flavinoid and polyphenol antioxidants.

7. More Fruits, Vegetables, and Fiber. Some of the best sourses of fiber are fresh and cooked fruits and vegetables. The "king of fiber" award however goes to the bean. Whether its navy, kidney, pinto, or black just a half cup of cooked bean equals 12 grams of fiber and close to half of your daily requirement. Not enough fiber in the diet is related to increased risk of colon cancer. Fruit juices are not much better than soda pop. Apple juice for instance is so processed that it is almost devoid of nutrients except for some added vitamin C not to mention the sorbitol in it being hard for many babies to digest. Real apple juice is cloudy and the apple peal contains fiber, and antioxidant flavinoids. "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," but apple juice is keeping him busy.

8. Reduce sugar but do not substitute. The first part is common sense but the later advice comes from a recient study involving lab mice fed either a treat with real sugar or artificial sweetener. Both mice ate the same amount of sweet snack but the mice who had the artificial sweetener went on to eat three times as much regular food afterwards than did the mice who had the snack with the natural sugar in it.

9. Loose weight the healthy way. When it comes time to decide on a weight lose method, make life-style modifications that will improve you're overall health. There are many ways to loose weight using powerful stimulant and diuretic drugs. Some of these drugs can be habit forming or can result in severe electrolyte abnormalities. On the other hand, healthy changes will be easier to stick with for a life-time and the excess weight will therefore more likely stay off.

10. Don't supersize. Eat smaller portions. A serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. A serving of carbohydrates (e.g. rice, beans, potato, pasta) is about the size of your fist.

11. Take your time. Eating too fast fails to provide sufficient time for your distended stomach to signal to the brain that your full. Concequently, you eat more calories than you need or would want to if you had eaten more slowly.

12. Drink water not soda or juice. Some adults drink up to 1000 calories a day in softdrinks such as soda, juice, and koolaid. Many could loose weight simply by eliminating these extra calories. Certain sodas carry an added risk. The phosphoric acid in many dark sodas such as Coke, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper bind calcium and can lead to osteoporosis, especially in females.