Sunday YW Personal Progress Journal Update

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In going along with the apple science experiment (which is progressing quite nicely, btw), I happily found a personal progress value experience that coincides with the second part of our experiment, which is that the children and I spend 30 seconds each day saying positive things to each other. It’s a good way to end the experiment on a happy note every morning and a boost of confidence before Goober heads off to school for the day.

Individual Worth #3: “Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:10 and 121:45. Do all you can to build others and make them feel of worth. Every day for two weeks notice the worthwhile qualities and attributes of others. Acknowledge them verbally or in writing. In your journal write what you have learned about the worth of individuals and how your own confidence grows when you build others.”

In another week and some, I shall report back on what I have learned “about the worth of individuals and how [my] own confidence grows when [I] build others” and then I shall have completed my first value experience!

An update on the progress of Choice and Accountability #2:  Read the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth. List in your journal each standard of righteous behavior the pamphlet outlines, and record why it is important to choose to live those standards. Practice living righteous standards by choosing three standards in which you need to improve. You might choose to be more selective about television, music, books, or other media, or you might improve your modesty, language, or honesty. After three weeks share your progress with your family, your class, or a leader.

1) We were late for church but hey, we made it! Excuses, excuses but I needed to throw five ingredients for a side dish into the crockpot for a potluck to be held after church and then Stormageddon (codename for our newest addition to the family) didn’t want to wait any longer to nurse (half hour drive can be torture on little tummies).

2) Each night before bed, I have been reading one or two talks from General Conference on my tablet so as to help with increasing my spiritual knowledge.

3) The apple experiment has been helping to remind me to speak more kind words to my children so as to build a stronger relationship with my family. It’s also been helpful in getting us started on the right foot each morning.

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In which produce can hear and have feelings thus affecting the decomposition process?

Question: Will positive/negative words alter how an apple decomposes?

Hypothesis: While countless psychological studies can and do support the beliefs that words of affirmation affect fellow humans, I do not suspect it will alter the decomposition of fruit. I do not suspect speaking mean or angry words will speed up the decomposition process nor happy or positive words to slow it down.

Research: apples decompose as oxygen converts into carbon dioxide and starch into sugar.

Design: I have taken one ordinary apple, rinsed it under running water, and sliced it into 8 pieces with an apple slicer. Each apple slice has been randomly placed into it’s own labeled ziploc bag and arranged on a cookie sheet in the kitchen. Two slices will be included in each group (replicates).

Group #1 – upon opening the bag (across the room from the other groups), the apple will have good/happy words spoken to it for 30 seconds, timed.

Group #2 – upon opening the bag (across the room away from the other groups), the apple will have bad/mean words spoken to it for 30 seconds.

Group #3 – the apples will have their bags opened for 30 seconds but no words spoken to them.

Group #4 – the bag will not be opened or disturbed but left on the cookie sheet all week.

Analysis: To be continued…

Conclusion: To be continued…

In which this blog is pretty much a journal, right?

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I have been in the Young Women’s Presidency (I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/ I know who I am/ I know God’s plan/ I’ll follow Him in Faith… pardon me, I digress into song occasionally) for a few months now and yet I haven’t fully completed a personal progress value experience. It has been a personal challenge, as well as a way to be a good example to the girls, to attempt to complete the program as a leader since I never did when I was a wee teenager. Many of the value experiences require writing in one’s journal and well, this blog really is my journal (full of randomness). So here goes!

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Choice and Accountability #2

I have read “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet, cover to cover, and now I shall list each standard outlined here and why they are important.

Agency and Accountability – we are free to choose how to live our life. However, we are not free to choose the consequences those choices have upon us and others. May we be responsible with this gift of life and make good choices.

Dating – Virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth light.

Dress and Appearance – our body is a temple that we should respect by dressing and caring for it appropriately and modestly. As a mom, I should strive to get dressed each morning, rather than wandering the house in my pajamas.

Education – I love this section because I am a nerd. I love to learn! What we fill our minds with, will rise with us, so invest and fill it well.

Entertainment and Media – what we choose to watch, read, listen to, etc. has an effect on us. We must choose well so as to not drive away the spirit.

Family – strong families require effort. I need to be a righteous example to my children and be sensitive to others’ needs.

Friends – choose friends that have a good influence on you as well as be a good influence upon others. Do not compromise your standards to fit in, rather, stand out as you are a disciple of Christ.

Gratitude – we need to express gratitude for all the blessings we receive daily, big or small.

Honesty and Integrity – do what is right and live high standards, even when no one may be watching.

Language – clean and intelligent language is evidence of a bright and wholesome mind.

Music and Dancing – the spirit speaks with a still, small voice so choose music that is uplifting and enriching.

Physical and Emotional Health – as my body is a temple, I must care for it by practicing balance and moderation, avoiding extremes that can cause further harm. Seek healthy solutions to problems and safeguard both physical and emotional health.

Repentance – is a change of mind and heart, turning from sin towards God for forgiveness and seeking a desire to do better so that I may worthy to return to live with my family in heaven.

Sabbath Day Observance – prepare for the sabbath day throughout the week, show respect for the Lord by keeping the sabbath day holy. Be on time and attend all church meetings.

Service – “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”

Sexual Purity – intimacy is to be kept sacred between a husband and wife.

Tithes and Offerings – is showing gratitude for all that God has given me by returning a portion of what I have received.

Work and Self-Reliance – do not be idle, live within one’s means.

For the next three weeks, I am working on increasing my spiritual education daily, keeping the sabbath day holy by striving to be on time to church (a real challenge with three children and a half hour drive to church), and strengthening my family by continuing to strive to speak more words of affirmation to my children.

For more information: https://www.lds.org/young-women/personal-progress?cid=YS-M-personalprogress&lang=eng

In which I let my mouth fly open to share some unpopular but science-based medically pertinent opinions/information…

pizza and opinionsSorry if you might be expecting pizza. This post does not contain pizza.

I like science. Y’all know that. I read up on science-y things in my spare time… in my room… it’s for fun. So a couple of the latest dirty words that could get a bar of soap in your mouth if uttered in my household in a serious manner are “detox” and “all-natural”. Load of hippy dippy bologna, if you ask me (which nobody ever does… it’s like my name is Patrice). I’ve tried to ignore and just scroll past some posts showing up in my facebook feeds  from a growing number of friends in the past several months but it has been building up to a point where I just can’t sit with my mouth shut and my hands under my butt anymore. This being my little sanctuary of randomness, I shall let it fly open here.

Why do I dislike hearing the word “detox”? Because, unless you’ve been hitting up some street drugs and alcohol pretty heavy and landed your sorry butt in the ER, you don’t need to put your body through such a thing as a “detox”. That cheeseburger and onion rings splurge will work it’s way out just fine on its own in a few days. Want to detox? Eat some fruits and veggies. Drink some water. Go for a walk/run/dance dance revolution. Don’t waste your money on detoxing juices, wraps, supplements, and whatnot. The only thing being detoxed is your wallet.

Here are a few articles further explaining the uselessness, as well as possible harm, of unnecessary detoxing rather than me regurgitating it for you like a baby bird –

Science-Based Medicine is one of my favorite blogs to follow – http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/detox-what-they-dont-want-you-to-know/

http://lifehacker.com/what-happens-in-your-body-during-a-cleanse-or-detox-1669540259/+laceydonohue

http://www.foodinsight.org/should-you-cleanse-detox-diet

Many people are easily drawn towards quick and easy fixes like a moth to the flame, especially when the words “all natural” are included. But these things don’t come cheap and they’re only temporary (if they even work for those lucky few). One of those quick and easy fixes happens to come from a rather popular MLM company that likely is doing some bang up business around this time of year even after all the leftovers have finally been cleaned out of the fridge (I confess, I found a small container of cranberry sauce just last week). My BS detectors go off with this company that especially targets and preys upon stay at home moms. And sure, I could just shut up and let people do what they want but I actually have some serious concerns about these “natural” “detoxing” “miracle” products. I really do care, guys. So just hear me out, please?

pussFirst, those wrap thingys? Sure, they might soften the skin, tighten, or tone but it’s only temporary. What you are mainly loosing is water weight. Not fat, not cellulite, no toxins, just water from your cells. Oh and money. Want some honest reviews? Amazon is the place to go where the 1 star reviews heavily outweigh the 4/5 stars. It’s like the only safe haven for honest customer reviews one can find on the internet.

And in this day and age of digital cameras and Photoshop technology, those “proof is in the picture” posts don’t work on me. Camera angles, lighting, flash on/off, macro/micro, whatever those fancy camera terms are, can all be adjusted to get just the right look. Flex like this, breath in, out, tilt, etc. You’re going to tell me all I have to do is wrap my flabby appendages and I can look like a Victoria’s Secret model within a month without even having to leave the couch or give up oreos?

yeah-im-pretty-sure-its-photoshopped_o_2061181Second, the supplements. Natural does not always equate safe. Cyanide, arsenic, hemlock tea, dihydrogen monoxide… all natural, all deadly in varying amounts. I spent an afternoon going through the rather long ingredient list of one of the vitamin supplements from this company. (What can I say? I’m a nerd. Use me for my skillz anytime.) Of course, due to being a proprietary blend, exact amounts are unknown. As Paracelsus said, “the dose is what makes the poison” but how can we know if the amounts in these vitamins are at a safe enough limit for those that could possibly be affected by them? Especially children and pregnant or nursing mothers? That’s probably why this company has a CYA (cover your arse) alongside their required “has not been evaluated by the FDA to treat or cure blah blah” disclaimer by suggesting pregnant/nursing moms as well as children probably shouldn’t take them… This should include products even externally applied to the skin as they can absorbed and processed by the body.

Here are the ones that should be cause for concern:

Spirulina pacifica – this naturally occurring type of this blue-green algae (likely the stuff this company uses because they claim to use only the most natural of substances) can contain bacteria, heavy metals, and contaminants (called mycrocystins) that can damage the liver and affect children even worse than adults. It is not good for those with auto-immune diseases or PKU. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-923-blue-green%20algae.aspx?activeingredientid=923&activeingredientname=blue-green%20algae)

Eleuthero root extract – also known as Siberian ginseng, is not safe for children, those with high blood pressure, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, heart disease, bipolar/manic disorders, pregnant/nursing mothers, or those with autoimmune diseases; not to be used by those taking anticoagulants (aspirin, warfarin, etc.), corticosteroids, diabetes medications, lithium, immunosuppressant medications, or sedatives. (Source: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/siberian-ginseng)

Royal jelly – not safe for those allergic to bee products, may lower blood pressure.

Chlorella – not safe for those with autoimmune diseases, can cause extra sensitive skin when in the sun, may cause allergic reactions in those with asthma. (http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-907-chlorella.aspx?activeingredientid=907&activeingredientname=chlorella)

Milk thistle seed – slows/impairs the liver’s ability to do it’s job in breaking down some medications such as ibuprofen, warfarin, etc and thereby increases their effects as well as side effects of these medications that may be necessary to those taking them. (http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-138-milk%20thistle.aspx?activeingredientid=138&activeingredientname=milk%20thistle)

Astragalus root extract – mutagenic, not safe for pregnant/nursing women or those with autoimmune diseases.

Green tea leaf extract – contains caffeine; can interact negatively with many medications, see source. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-960-green%20tea.aspx?activeingredientid=960&activeingredientname=green%20tea)

Ginkgo biloba leaf extract – may increase risk of bleeding if taken with blood thinners, stop taking at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Bilberry extract – interacts with blood thinners.

Aloe vera gel – unsafe to ingest during pregnancy, may cause birth defects or miscarriage; unsafe for children under 12; may lower blood sugar. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-607-aloe.aspx?activeingredientid=607&activeingredientname=aloe)

Black walnut leaf powder – may not be safe for those with nut allergies; avoid during pregnancy/nursing, mutagenic. (Source: http://www.drugs.com/npp/black-walnut.html)

Corn silk stylus – safe at normal food levels but larger amounts may cause miscarriage. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-140-corn%20silk.aspx?activeingredientid=140&activeingredientname=corn%20silk)

Dandelion leaf – may interact negatively with some medications. (Source : http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-706-dandelion.aspx?activeingredientid=706&activeingredientname=dandelion)

Goldenseal herb (aereil parts) – not safe during pregnancy/nursing as contains a chemical that can cross the placenta as well as be found in breastmilk which can then cause kernicterus (brain damage) in infants. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-943-goldenseal.aspx?activeingredientid=943&activeingredientname=goldenseal)

Lemongrass – may cause miscarriage. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-719-lemongrass.aspx?activeingredientid=719&activeingredientname=lemongrass)

Marshmallow roots – may affect blood sugar levels.

Meadowsweet herb (aerial parts) – unsafe during pregnancy as it may cause miscarriage; contains chemicals similar to aspirin therefore not safe for those allergic to aspirin. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-108-meadowsweet.aspx?activeingredientid=108&activeingredientname=meadowsweet)

Papaya leaf – chemicals may cause birth defects, interacts with blood thinners.

Pau d’arco  bark – unsafe during pregnancy, may delay blood clotting.

Plantain leaf – causes uterine contractions as well as laxative effects. (Sources: http://www.drugs.com/npc/plantain.html)

Rose hips – rugosin E may slow blood clotting.

Rosemary leaf – may stimulate the uterus; contains salicylate, a chemical similar to aspirin; may increase risk of bleeding and bruising; may increase seizures. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-154-rosemary.aspx?activeingredientid=154&activeingredientname=rosemary)

White willow bark – this is what aspirin is derived from and therefore not safe for children under 16, pregnant/nursing women, or those already on blood-thinning medications. (Source: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/willow-bark)

So there you have it. A majority of the ingredients broken down using fairly trustworthy as well as easily accessible sources to anyone via Google. I’m not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV) but I would avoid if pregnant or nursing, on anticoagulants or immunosuppresants, etc. I would strongly advise not giving to children due to the aspirin-like similarities of some items. In fact, I’d save my money and go spend it in the produce aisle as well as use the extra on a new pair of shoes this spring. I think I’ll go eat an apple now; full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. And cheaper. Any other products you’d like me to examine, just ask and I’ll willingly do the finger work for you. I even have a medical scientist sitting next to me every evening. He has access to even more information than I do.

And one last PSA, always tell your doctor any additional vitamins/herbal supplements you are taking, even if it might just be a basic over-the-counter tablet of Vitamin C. You may not realize it but even herbal supplements can interact negatively with medications or cause complications you may not even realize.

Date Night: Nerd Edition

Mr. Genius and I went on a date this week and I took notes! I suspect you’re wondering why I took notes on a date… Well, Mr. Genius asked me if I wanted to come hear a lecture titled “Facts and Fiction about GMOs in Food” for his Genetics Retreat and I decided, “why not?! I need to get out of the house for a couple of hours and be with my man.” Dates are few and far between outside of this household sadly due to time constraints and budget but I like to help out the local teenager babysitters when I can as family isn’t nearby to extort as easily. 😛

And, I don’t mean to brag, but I might’ve known just a little more than Mr. Genius on this topic. (I introduced him to The Genetic Literacy Project and Biofortified  afterwards.) I was expecting a more genetically-minded lecture but the speaker, Ruth MacDonald, is chair and professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the rival ISU, not Genetics. But whatevs. She still knows her stuff and is listed as an expert on the Best Food Facts and GMO Answers websites.

Yes, I’ve joined the dark side, they have cookies. And yes, I took some notes to share.

We came in a little late when Prof. MacDonald was talking about a few advances in fortified GMO foods such as golden rice and a type of banana developed to be high in Vitamin A. In some parts of the world, vitamin A deficiency is still a huge problem, causing permanent blindness and even death in children as well as adults. These two crops were developed to help provide more vitamin A to the local populations who grow them rather than shipping in food (which might not be possible in politically war-torn countries). But instead, there are many roadblocks because of the fear and misinformation of GMOs. Not only is scientific literacy a problem, but also politics. Greenpeace, a once useful group even destroys crops meant for testing.

90% of soybean crops, 80% of corn, canola, and sugar beets are GMO crops. These crops are used in the making of food such as breads, cereals, and sweeteners, as well as a high amount of corn and alfalfa going to animal feed. (A good portion, not mentioned by Prof. MacDonald, of Iowa corn goes to the production of ethanol.)

Papayas have been a GMO crop since 1980 when a ringspot virus was infecting crops. GE technology saved papayas in Hawaii, you’re welcome. Some squash is also GMO. GMO tomatoes failed on the market. Most sweet corn is NOT GMO, though I did read of a farmer in Iowa with a roadside stand that sold a few types of GMO corn for human consumption that did pretty well as earcorn bugs aren’t very appetizing and tend to waste a good portion of crops.

Corn is fractionated and therefore contains no DNA or proteins in human food though there is a trace amount in the germ of animal feed. A 30 year study on animal feed was recently published in The Journal of Animal Science. evaluated GM animal feed as safe.

“Numerous experimental studies have consistently revealed that the performance and health of GE-fed animals are comparable with those fed isogenic non-GE crop lines. United States animal agriculture produces over 9 billion food-producing animals annually, and more than 95% of these animals consume feed containing GE ingredients. Data on livestock productivity and health were collated from publicly available sources from 1983, before the introduction of GE crops in 1996, and subsequently through 2011, a period with high levels of predominately GE animal feed. These field data sets, representing over 100 billion animals following the introduction of GE crops, did not reveal unfavorable or perturbed trends in livestock health and productivity. No study has revealed any differences in the nutritional profile of animal products derived from GE-fed animals. Because DNA and protein are normal components of the diet that are digested, there are no detectable or reliably quantifiable traces of GE components in milk, meat, and eggs following consumption of GE feed.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25184846

Humans consume plant food (not just of the gmo variety) containing DNA and proteins which the body turns into useful nucleotides and amino acids.

It takes at least 10 years of testing from lab to market for a GM food product to be considered safe to consume by human or animals. To say GMOs are just thrown onto the market willy nilly and that there is no research is complete bull shiz (see Biofortified’s Genera project – a non-profit collecting project full of independent as well as company funded research on GMOs). The few research papers stating otherwise, often are flawed, unable to be replicated, and therefore promptly held in low esteem by the majority of the scientific community. Remember kids, good science is replicated.

The FDA, USDA, and EPA regulate the majority of GE technology:

  • FDA regulates food,
  • USDA protects animal and plant health from pests and disease as well as assess risks,
  • EPA determines the safety of pesticides and herbicides.

The safety testing includes:

  • comparing nutrient and chemistry to be the same as non-gmo counterparts
  • proves it contains no allergens
  • the breakdown of traits
  • environmental safety

Credible science is important. The majority of scientists and organizations have declared GMOs to be safe. Celebrities are often touting misinformation and fear mongering in order to increase viewership and profits. (Dr. Oz and negative bias.)

So what about labeling? It would be regulated by the FDA (conspiracy websites distrust the FDA and yet they would be the ones in control of labeling…ironic, eh?). Current labeling requires the identification of what the product is (i.e. Cheerios label is ‘toasted whole grain cereal’ under the brand name), a nutrition panel, ingredients listed by their scientific name (rather than vitamin C, it has to be listed as ascorbic acid), and recognized allergens (such as the major milk, gluten, soy, nut allergies). These have been the regulations since 1992. Any further labels are up to the company, such as GMO-free or certified organic, as long as they are true.

Further labeling would require extra monitoring:

  • laws would need to be passed to track and define products
  • tracking would increase food costs
  • require sensitive methods of detection (more money needed)
  • more inspections (more money needed)

All of this will require more money by raising food costs and more funding for the FDA to do such labeling would increase taxes. Is it really worth it? Companies can already choose to label their product organic. Then consumers can choose organic if they wish. Personally, our budget is tight enough right now. I don’t need food costs going up any more. People suspicious of corporations want more independent studies on GMOs and organic foods? This will require people willing to pay for it.

Farming is basic to civilization. Biotechnology is a part of farming. Plant modification is as old as agriculture. DNA technology has only helped to control and specify to get what we want most rather than years of trial and error waiting for nature (which doesn’t always produce safe outcomes either, i.e. killer bees).

Rather than a battle between organic vs conventional farming, shouldn’t we be working together? Few want to, it seems, thinking it should only be one way or the highway when they should work together.

The genetic genie is out of the bottle. Use it wisely.

Throughout audience questions, public education and scientific literacy came up as a very important role in all this as well as educating political leaders on such matters. Politics play a huge roll around the world when it comes to GE technology and laws are not always passed based on scientific results but more for who’s the louder voice or who has the bigger pocket book. Europe may look like they know what they’re doing banning GMOs but if you look closely, it’s all political.

Further resource suggestions by Prof. MacDonald:

Pet Peeves

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Don’t worry, Mr. Genius isn’t becoming a surgeon. Today, I decide to unload about some of the pet peeves of mine upon starting this long road trip to MD/PhD town. I’m still learning to not take things personally when I hear people on the internets bashing modern medicine and doctors but that doesn’t mean I’m just going to stay silent about it. So here goes – a random rant from your average ma in the kitchen.

Myth: Doctors learn nothing about nutrition in med school.

FALSE.

I can’t speak for all medical schools but Mr. Genius had a few lectures on nutrition at his. Sure, they cram a crap ton of information into the first two years of classes and constant testing before throwing them into the pool of clinical rotations and residency where they really learn to sink or swim, but nutrition is seriously NOT neglected. I’ll see if I can get a hold of those lecture notes as proof (he saved a forest and took notes on his computer).

How things are at our house: Thanks to one of his lectures Mr. Genius shared with me back in the beginning, I began sticking to the habit of serving two sides of of fruits and/or vegetables with dinner rather than just one. We aren’t always perfect but fruits and vegetables are a big deal in our house, be they fresh or frozen, home grown (still learning there) or from the grocery store. I’ll support my local farmer’s market when the budget allows but you won’t catch me paying 50 cents extra for an organic bag of carrots at Aldi. Fruit juice is a treat or for sick days as, though the label may say 100% juice and/or no sugar added, there’s still a lot of sugar and you’re missing out on the dietary fiber from the fruit skin. Just like the online nutrition class said, there is no one “superfood”. A balanced approach to nutrition is key.

Mr. Genius also had lectures on self care as medical school is no easy, breezy, beautiful stroll through the park. After one of these lectures, he came home with two marbles. These were to be a physical representation of two things he would refuse to give up during his schooling. One was his family and the other was computer games. As long as the kids and I come first, I’m game with that. They really do try to take care of students at this medical school and hopefully, once the students become doctors, the patients benefit as well.

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Myth: Doctors are all about treating diseases rather than preventative care and don’t talk about nutrition or exercise with their patients.

FALSE.

I’m going to pin accountability on the patient with this one, not blame doctors completely. I’m going to make an assumption (dangerous, I know) and suspect most people likely don’t go to a doctor unless they are feeling unwell. Notice I say MOST as yes, there are those who are good and get checkups well past their childhood wellness checks. I suspect those people are also good at getting their car/furnace/etc tuned up on a regular basis. Man, I wish I could be that organized. But seriously, how many go to a doctor when they’re feeling fine? I think I need a poll because Google has failed to bring up any numbers for me on this. In the comments, let me know if you see a doctor for a wellness check up and, if you do, how often is it? I doubt I’ll get enough results but if so, we’ll see if I need to eat my hat…  (P.S. I’m not counting dentist visits.)

As for me? I drag my resistant kids in for their checkups but not so much me unless Mr. Genius is worried I might have Lupus or a brain tumor/aneurysm because he’s learned about all these awful diseases (it’s called “medical student syndrome” and is similar to when the average layperson googles their symptoms). And because of that, I have seen a doctor or two who have talked with me about keeping up good nutrition, low impact exercises, and the most important piece of the puzzle I have the most trouble grasping – good sleep hygiene – to keep, not Lupus, but Fibromyalgia at bay.

Myth: Doctors make lots of money off vaccines.

FALSE.

I just had to throw in a #3 to make a nice odd number but seriously, think about it. Doctors and hospitals would make a crap ton more money off treating the diseases these vaccines help reduce and even prevent. Morbidly thinking, mortuaries would also benefit greatly. That’s all I’m going to say on the matter for now, if necessary.

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CHEM 181x Notes Week 2: Micronutrients –Vitamins

Oooh, vitamins! Do we need vitamin supplements? What are vitamins? This is the post for you.

Vitamins are nutrients needed in small amount to prevent deficiency diseases. A balanced diet contains all the vitamins in the required amounts. Measurements are usually in international units (iu because I’m too lazy to figure out how to make the fancy u with a front tail.)

13 Vitamins: Fat soluble – A, D, E, and K. Water soluble – B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, C.

Vitamins are often labeled by their chemical names on nutrition labels. It’s funny yet sad to see people freak out when, in fact, it’s just an essential vitamin. “Oh noes! It has ascorbic acid in it!” [Insert facepalm]

History of Vitamins

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) – In the 15-17th centuries, sailors developed scurvy while on long voyages. Jacques Cartier learned from the natives of New France to brew pine needle (a rich source of vitamin C). On long trips, cabbage or sauerkraut was often packed. James Lind, 1753, developed prevention of scurvy through proper food nutrition via a clinical trial of potion vs food administered to different groups of sailors. Lime was at first believed helped due to the acidity so sailors took diluted sulfuric acid but that didn’t seem to help. A preparation of lime juice was mixed with alcohol or covering the lime juice barrel with oil to prevent oxidation. One ounce of lime juice was prescribed on long voyages per day. Sailor nickname – limey. In 1927, Albert Szent-Gyorgyi isolated the active ingredient in lime juice – vitamin C and received a Nobel Prize in medicine.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – Beri-beri, translating to “I can’t, I can’” is a neurological disorder of the limbs. Christian Eijkman, 1880’s, noticed a common link between chickens with Beri-beri and people was the dietary changes from brown rice to white rice. A substance in the husk of brown rice proved essential in prevention of Beri-beri, even though brown rice doesn’t store as long as white rice. Eijkman received a Nobel Prize in 1929 and the active ingredient was isolated to be Vitamin B1 – thiamine, later in the 1930’s.

Vitamin D – With the Industrial Revolution of the 1850’s and movement from rural to urban areas for factory work, one saw the onset of Rickets in youth, caused by a lack of Vitamin D, which is produced from the influence of the sun on cholesterol in the skin surface. Also present in fish/cod oil.

Vitamin B3 (niacin) – Pellagra (rough skin) is a four D disease – dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia, death. In the 1920’s, Joseph Goldberger, connected the diet of mental institution patients, who were fed a poor diet of starchy foods, vs the staff, with better foods such as meats a vegetables, and the development of pellagra due to the poor diet. His clinical trial on inmates of a penitentiary – one group was fed foods high in protein, while the other was fed one low in protein. He also took puss from patients with pellagra and infected himself to show it was not contagious.

Vitamin B3 – niacin was later isolated to determine its benefits to prevent pellagra.

Vitamins are micronutrients because the quantities needed are measured in milligrams (mg) and micrograms. In the 1940’s, RDA developed as the recommended daily allowances to prevent deficiency diseases, usually in milligrams or micrograms. In terms of nutrients in food, grams are usually used. Most vitamins are amines, and thus the name vital amines became vitamins. Most vitamins can be gotten from a well-balanced diet.

“If you are taking a multivitamin supplement, there is no reason to stop, but if you are not taking one, there is no reason to start…” – Paul Coats, National Institute of Health.

A few vitamin supplements thought to be helpful/unhelpful:

Niacin (B3) – at high levels up to 1000mg, MAY help lower cholesterol but should only be taken under the close direction of a doctor. Some can have negative reactions to high amounts.

Folic Acid (B9) – 800 iu, is known to help prevent spina bifida, neural tube defect, in the first months of pregnancy. Flour has been fortified with folic acid to make sure women are getting enough even before they know they are pregnant because that is the most important time of all.

B Vitamins for Alzheimer’s? – The School Sisters of Notre Dame have given their brains to science after death to determine if a diet rich in folic acid is essential in prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease. Heart Disease and B6 and B12, studies show little difference. Same with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Antioxidant vitamins are C, A, E, and beta carotene. Oooh, that magical word – antioxidants.

Free radicals – reactive species with a single electron. Electrons like to be in pairs and so scavenge around to pick up an extra. Antioxidants help by donating an electron to a free radical to make a less reactive free radical and, therefore, less likely to cause damage. Free radicals can cause damage to our cells. Where to get antioxidants? Our food diet is best.

Vitamin C – Linus Pauling believed large orthomecular amounts (10,000+ mg) of vitamin C could cure and prevent cancer as well as the common cold – a contagious upper respiratory tract infection caused by over 200 different viruses, one being the rhinovirus. It may help alleviate symptoms but no, it is not a cure or preventative measure. Viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics because those are for bacterial infections. There is no causative relationship between cold weather and colds. They are more prevalent in winter because we spend more time indoors and in closer contact with other people. Cold remedies, including vitamin C, only make the cold more bearable, not curable. “If treated, it will last seven days. If left alone, it will last one week.”

Vitamin C might be of benefit as an antioxidant against oxidized LDL cholesterol (the ugly kind) as the body converts nitrates into carcinogenic nitrosamines and antioxidants help to block that, but orthomecular amounts would not be needed in this case. Sodium ascorbate (scientific name for vitamin C, did I catch you?) is occasionally used in hot dogs to counteract the nitrate preservatives.

Vitamin C has been proven beneficial in the prevention of bed sores as it forms collagen.

Oranges contain ~60 mg of ascorbic acid, whereas a green pepper contains 120 mg. (But who wants to drink green pepper juice when sick? Ew! Pass the OJ, please!)

Side effects may include diarrhea when taken in large amounts (as it is water soluble, which, one reason why North American’s pee is so expensive is that’s where the body sends the excess supplement it doesn’t need). It can also increase the absorption of iron (meaning those with hemochromatosis/iron overload should not take vitamin C supplements) and decrease the absorption of copper. It can also give false negatives for occult blood in the stool when testing for colon cancer.

Vitamin C is and can be used as a preservative, as it prevents the oxidization of foods, so any advertisements of a vitamin C supplement being preservative-free really are misleading. The only difference between natural and synthetic sources is price.

Vitamin A – essential for vision; retinoids; is fat-soluble, meaning it can accumulate in the liver; precursor is beta-carotene. A study with 18,000 subjects to determine if beta-carotene and vitamin A vs a placebo could be used as an antioxidant cancer preventative showed it increased the risk of cancer by 28%. This was confirmed with a second study of 29,000 subjects where lung cancer increased by 18%. There is a possibility that “beta-carotene may offer benefits only when consumed with other phytochemicals present in the diet.” So eat your carrots and spinach instead?

Vitamin A and the effects of aging on the skin – the sun causes premature aging by breaking down the collagen in the dermis layer. UVB is the burning rays of the sun that will give you sunburn and UVA is the tanning rays that break down the collagen in the skin. Both UVA and UVB cause burning, aging, and skin cancer. Retin-A compound may help wrinkles as it acts as an exfoliant and may even help treat acne. Accutane, isotretinoin, is also an acne treatment but can cause severe birth defects in utero.

Vitamin D – Rickets may be making a comeback because of 1) milk substitutes (esp. soy) without vitamin D, and 2) parental concern about sun exposure. Adults also need vitamin D for bone function. Infants need up to 400 iu, adults 600 iu, and aged 70 and up 800iu.

Vitamin D and (you guessed it) cancer – meta analysis and blind study may help prevent cancer, but still needs further confirmation so take with a grain of salt. Vitamin D might interfere with the multiplication of cancer cells. High amounts can lead to hypercalcemia, too much calcium deposit in the bone, but that is in amounts higher than 1,000 iu. Vitamin D may help reduce risk of multiple sclerosis, the hypothesis is because those living closer to the equator have a lower risk of MS as they are exposed to more sun and, therefore, their skin makes more vitamin D from cholesterol.

Vitamin E – a readily available vitamin, hardly ever deficient in it. Nicknamed the love vitamin as tocopherol translates to oil of fertility. In mice, a restriction of vitamin E made male mice impotent and female mice abort.

Vitamin E deficiency in premature babies is called hemolytic anemia.

In a study comparing vitamin E to a placebo, there was no difference with cardiovascular problems. In the next study comparing placebo to a heart medication, the heart medicine won out. However, a randomized study of 35,000 people showed an increase in prostate cancer when taking vitamin E.

Vitamins and questionable marketing approaches –

Biotin (B7) has been advertised for hair growth but humans are definitely not deficit in biotin and adding extra has no effect on hair growth.

Vitamin B17 (NOT a vitamin) –laetrile, a compound extracted from almond pits (I think he meant apricot pits) were touted to be a cancer cure but was banned due to being of no benefit. It was remarketed as vitamin B17, though it’s not even a vitamin. Steve McQueen, a heavy smoker and suffering from lung cancer, tried to treat himself with laetrile unsuccessfully.

Hair analysis – scam because there are no vitamins in hair and, though there are minerals, it is not an indication of the body being deficient in any. The professor sent in a student’s sample of hair and the results came back saying she was suffering from depression, endocrine disorder, hypoglycemia, osteoporosis, hypercalcemia, cancer, and impotence… So then they sent in a dog hair sample and received the same results. The vitamin suggestions also were insane amounts past the RDA.

I wish they would’ve covered blood microscopy as well. (Perhaps I’ll venture to the discussion board.) It’s where alternative practitioners look at your blood under a microscope to determine what diseases (esp. cancer) you have or what nutrients you lack in order to sell you supplements. It’s fraudulent as there is no scientific evidence backing it.

The best place to get all the vitamins you need comes from a well-balanced diet. You’ll get the added nutrients and they taste better than supplements.

Just after this lesson, I came across an interesting blog post – http://www.bestfoodfacts.org/food-for-thought/fortified-foods-. It asks, as so much of our food is fortified with vitamins, is it possible to overdose on fortified food? If taking supplements, yes, it could be possible, but just with fortified food? Highly unlikely. So really, if you are eating a well-balanced diet, supplementing is not necessary unless a doctor has highly suggests it.

Caution: Verbal diarrhea in progress, unorderly random nonsense ahead

I like to occasionally do what I call “verbal diarrhea”. Sounds gross but it’s quite cathartic. It’s where I just plop almost everything in my brain out for others to wade through, should they so choose. You should try it sometime. It’s less messy and you don’t have to light a candle afterwards… 😛

It’s as if there’s this unwritten rule that, if you believe in God, you mustn’t believe in science, and vice versa. Probably not completely true and sure, others like me exist but perhaps I’m just being oblivious today. I’m testing the waters in being vocal about my belief and trust in a higher being as well as enjoying swimming in the waters of science and sharing what I find on the entire beach. I can have my cake and eat it, too, ya know?

Science is ever changing and full of theories and speculations that are proved or disproved over time by multiple brains being put together. But in my own humble opinion, science can neither prove nor disprove there is proof of a higher being. (Besides, the dude is smarter than us earthly humans, duh! He’s the master of hide and seek, putting clues out there to those who are paying attention and keep following along.) My faith is like a personal hypothesis. (Yes, Buddy the dinosaur, who, when the series wraps up, it will be because you ate your entire family because YOU’RE A T-REX and, by the way, is the Dinosaur Train a TARDIS? But I digress humorously,yes, an idea you can test). I test it daily and it’s still around, even after my floating around in science and medicine blogs and facebook groups.

There are times and places to keep the two separate. This blog is my territory so the two will likely mix occasionally along the road. I’m just warning you ahead of time. This is me. This is my blog. This is my turf. My only rule? Don’t come here to fling poo. I won’t clean it up. I’ll leave it for everyone to see you’re a stinky poo flinger.

Though I often wish to fit in somewhere and be accepted by others, I also am one to not always follow the crowd.  If the crowd isn’t going where I want to go, I’ll drift off in my own direction till I get lonely and hopefully find another group of people. And the cycle continues. I am coming to terms, finally after thirty years, that I like my individuality.

Why am I occasionally suspicious of large groups? Mr. Genius and I enjoy quoting Agent K of the movie Men in Black, “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.” It’s the mob mentality. Not that I’m saying all groups of people are bad (groups can get things done, two heads can be better than one, etc.) but one must be careful what groups you follow and make sure you’re not giving up your own individuality. There sure are some crazy trains out there. Watch which ones you jump on and ride. Heck, this blog might even be one of those crazy trains! I don’t know where it’s going but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Edited to add – estimated time of arrival of next Chem181x lessons will be as soon as I finish a couple more videos in between cleaning the bathrooms. I will warn you, though, it’s a foggy and rainy Monday.

Lesson 3: Scientific Research and Publishing

Lesson 3: Scientific Research and Publishing

Fact: facts change as our surroundings change. (The Half-Life of Facts by Samuel Arbesman)
1. Language of science has gone from Latin to German to English.
2. In 100 years, the planet has gone from 2 billion to now 7 billion.
3. In less than 50 years we have gone from earthbound to walking on the moon.

Urban legend – Popeye ate spinach for the high iron content. FALSE. The cartoons never mention Iron, but once mentions the importance of spinach for the vitamin A. “Spinach, Iron, and Popeye: Ironic lessons from biochemistry and history on the importance of healthy eating, healthy skepticism and adequate citation.” — Dr. Mike Sutton

As for Iron, a German chemist calculated iron content at 3.5 mg in a 100 gram serving. In reporting, a decimal went missing and it became 35 mg of Iron. Oops! What spinach is actually high in is vitamin A at 70%, though technically vitamin A is created by the body by converting a large amount of beta carotene (its color masked by chlorophyll) when spinach is processed by the body.

“Communal reinforcement is the process by which a claim becomes a strong belief, through repeated assertion by members of a community. The process is independent of whether the claim has been properly researched, or is supported by empirical data significant enough to warrant belief by reasonable people.” – Dr. Ben Goldacre. In other words, things get repeated over and over and spread even though they may not be completely true. Good ol’ gossip!

How do we get our information? Beware of “I heard that…” Sources of information include, in order of usefulness: TV, Radio, Internet, Texting, Magazines, Newspapers, Magazines, Lectures, Journals.

“Where do the “facts” in our texts come from?” The Nature of Scientific Research:
1. Simultaneous discovery happens
2. Credit/patent issues –
3. Ego issues – who was first?

Simultaneous discoveries happen but don’t always get equal credit. Two examples:

1) We all know about the Wright brothers and their manned flights in 1903. Samuel Langley was also an early pioneer in flight, with steam but no one aboard; Otto Lillienthal, in Germany with gliders; and Whitehead, who was undocumented except for eyewitness reports.

2) The discovery of the structure of DNA – more than just Watson and Crick were involved. Frederick Miescher, late 1800’s, pulled it out of pus wounds but due to some higher-ups, it was considered unimportant. Oswald Avery, 1944, expanded upon Miescher with noting the replicating capacity. His paper triggered further interest in the structure of DNA. Linus Pauling (quite a scientific giant in chemistry) published a paper but came out incorrect. Watson and Crick (young scientific nobodies) came along and got the structure right and beat Pauling to the punch. Rosalind Franklin’s contribution with x-ray crystallographic data showed Watson and Crick’s idea of the helical structure to be correct but did not receive credit until much later, and she could not be included on the Nobel Prize as she died at age 37 before it was awarded.

Scientific Peer-Reviewed Journals and the beginning Peer Review process details – Researcher submits a paper to a journal. Editor reads and sends it to two or three referees to judge the paper for appropriate credit given, typographical errors, facts leading to the correct conclusion, etc. and sends comments to the editor who passes on any suggestions back to the researcher, who rebuts or corrects the paper. After a few back and forth volleys, the editor will decided ultimately the good or bad fate of the paper. If rejected, the researcher may try another journal next until successful. (Mr. Genius knows all about this process and it will forever be a part of his career.)

Personal notes: Once the paper is published it is open for full peer review from fellow researchers who will try and replicate its findings, thereby proving or disproving the original paper. 1.8-1.9 million articles were published in 2012. i.e. a crap ton is published. Not all journals are created equal. There are good journals and bad journals. To determine the quality of a Journal, it is given an impact factor. Those with higher impact factors are deemed better than those with lower. These factors can be found online when wondering if an article you’ve found comes from a quality source.

The vast majority of scientific papers that are published are honest efforts to report the facts. “There is no sin in science more grievous than falsifying data. There is no accusation that can be made that is more serious than to be guilty of a sin.” Sadly, fraud makes the front page of the media when retractions are made. Retractions are not an everyday occurrence though two come easily to my own mind – Wakefield and Autism, and Seralini and GMO fed rats – but don’t get me started on those two doofuses!

Scientific papers in the area of food science – the media has a tendency of complicating, over-hyping, or misrepresenting situations when it comes to reporting research. (Frankly I’ve seen this too much and tend to be skeptical now of what I read and search after the actual paper or scientists who have begun blogging so as to help stop the spread of misinformation. One of my favorites (I have quite a few) to follow is the Science-Based Medicine blog (www.sciencebasedmedicine.org) which is made up of several contributing authors in their respective medical fields. Not everything they blog about, though, I completely will agree with but they’re still very knowledgeable at what they do.)

Dr. Ariel Fenster on research studies–

A) Observational (Epidemiological) Studies: Studies where the assignment of subjects is not controlled by the investigator.
1) Case control studies: Compare people with a specific condition (case) to   other people who are otherwise similar except for that condition (control). Retrospective (recall information from the past). (ex. 1950 study associating smoking with lung cancer.)
2) Cohort Study: Study of a group of people over a long period of time to determine which factors may be associated with the appearance of a specific condition. Prospective (follow and take notes from the start). (ex. EPIC (European Perspective Investigation into Cancer) Study – Involving 520,000 people in 10 European countries suggests that increased intake of fruits and vegetables has a minimal effect on overall cancer rates. Other studies, however, strongly show diets rich in fruits and vegetables have benefits in terms of heart disease.)

Correlation vs Causation: correlation means there is an association/link but does not prove causation. (Big example of correlation but NOT causation – Autism and vaccines. But that link just won’t DIEEEEEEE!)

B) Interventional Study: assignment of subjects is controlled by the investigator. Can be double blind, randomized, placebo controlled studies. (I participated in one once!)

Daniel 11-15, first interventional study! Daniel asked for the king to feed his servants nothing but vegetables and water and compare the servants to the young men eating royal food after several days.

Vitamin D and calcium supplementation with a randomized clinical trial (rct), double blinded with placebo (the gold standard of experiments) showed a 60% reduction in cancer incidents. The placebo response is a very real and important response. Double blind prevents the researcher from having any influence on one group over another.

C) Meta analysis: study of all published studies pooled together. (ex. Vitamin D meta analysis also showed a protective relationship between vitamin D and a lower risk of cancer (colon, breast, prostate, ovarian).

Overall: It’s important where we get our information. The internet is a vast sea of information and yet much is not even drinkable. I, personally, prefer mine to be science-based, evidence-based, and peer-reviewed when I can get it that way.

CHEM 181x Lesson Two: Perspectives – Health, History, Science, and Society

Dr. Harpp focuses on the history of food, its early scientific research, problems, and reforms. He first begins with representing the population of the world (~7 billion) down into 100 people. Out of these 100 humans, 17 would be illiterate, 16 would be malnourished, 21 obese, and 7 with a university education.

Orthorexia Nervosa: an UNHEALTHY OBSESSION in eating only the right foods. It is not in the DSM-V but I wouldn’t be surprised if it shows up in the next edition. (more info here – https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/orthorexia-nervosa)

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. The main components of food are a handful of elements from the periodic table – carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and a few others. The emphasis throughout the course is to formulate a good and balanced diet, some things in more moderation than others, for weight control.

The “good old days” 100 years ago where not as idyllic as some young folk may think these days. Life expectancy was under 50, whereas it’s now reaching over 80. There was still dumpster diving for food, lack of varied nutrients in diets of the lower classes, and still the ever-present snake oil salesmen, etc. (Don’t forget it was also the era before the invention of vaccines to prevent such diseases as Polio, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Whopping Cough, etc.) Salt became iodized in the early 1900’s to treat goiters (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/goiter/basics/definition/con-20021266).

Plumpy Nut is a peanut-based, fat-based, protein-based paste food developed and given to children in third-world countries with not enough food supply to assist in malnourishment.

Functional foods: foods with added benefits such as vitamin D added to milk or omega-3 fatty acids added to milk. Some are more important than others.

Cultural food movements in North America – freeganism, rawesome food movement (mainly among Hollywood celebrities), insects as a food source (considered a source of protein to those not of a squeamish nature), vegetarian, veganism, omnivore, etc.

Short note on Google – it can be either your friend or foe. If a website is selling something on the side of providing information, oftentimes that is what is called a conflict of interest. (Doctors aren’t allowed to do that in their own office.) Look for references and check sources against other more reputable sources. Just reading one article or blog post does not equate a full understanding of the topic.
Food reforms: Plaster of Paris was once added to make bread heavier, thereby increasing the price. Along came the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 to help change such malpractices of food production from occurring and preventing public harm.

Food problems: it spoils, cannot always be distributed most effectively, and then there’s the destruction of pests to always contend with. Food may be plentiful but is it nutritious?

The comparison of two societies and the difference in what foods are consumed (determined by cultural as well as economic factors): The US eats more wheat, milk, and meat products, whereas India surpasses the US in the consumption of rice, corn, and legumes.

An Apple contains –

1. Flavors. To name just a few – acetone (nail polish remover), formaldehyde (embalming fluid), methanol (wood alcohol), 2-propenol (rubbing alcohol), and other volatile materials. We are always consuming chemicals; just many are not harmful due to the miniscule concentrations involved. (The dose makes the poison – Paracelsus.) These chemicals (as seen in the picture I googled around for) combine and interact in such a complex manner as to make the apple taste distinctly like an apple. (As the 9th doctor would say, Facinating!)

2. Sugar – about 18 grams in one apple.

3. Water – when put through a vacuum desiccator, about 120 mL, or 85% of the apple is water. Watermelon, touted as having the most water, has 96% BUT radishes beat them by containing 98% water.

4. Fiber

Macronutrients – fat, protein, complex carbs, sugar. Fats are more easily stored by the body than carbohydrates.

Micronutrients – vitamins and minerals (to be presented later by Dr. Fenster).