Google+ Followers

Follow by Email

Saturday, September 06, 2014

25 years younger ???

Today I was told that I "look 25 years younger than the calendar says and still have boundless energy."

Well, I do typically get my age estimated to be 12-15 years younger than my age, but not 25. That wasn't (and isn't) always the case.  Staring at a computer, getting inadequate sleep, and drinking tea or coffee can depress the muscles in the eyes and face.  But I think that proper nourishment is important, and merely eating vegan-compliant diets may not do that.  Avoiding the animal-based inputs is important, but ensuring the plant-based inputs is just as important for health.

In the dispute between John McDougall* (vegan diet except for holidays), and Joel Fuhrman (vegan nutritarian all the time) 
(but tolerant of others because they publicly say that their principles apply to everyone, but that meat eaters should not eat much meat or dairy - and McDougall tells them to swear off the dairy first - Fuhrman says that dairy is entirely unnecessary - and shows them how to nourish themselves), 
  • the Fuhrman "nutritarianemphasis is on the nutrient-rich diet and fat-burning (which I strongly advocate - selecting foods for nutrient value, not for taste or satiety.  I think that satiety and satisfaction follow from getting the nutrients in one's daily diet (one MUST exercise** IN ORDER TO build muscle and burn fat - Fuhrman photos show that, despite his foot injury, he hasn't stopped exercising after he left competitive figure skating);
  • the McDougall "starchitarianemphasis seems to be on a "starchitarian" weight loss by "no added fat" - and that means no nuts or oils.
*One of my long-time vegan friends in Boston has FLIPPED his loyalties from the vegan diet of Dr. Joel Fuhrman ("His diet is a good diet") to the vegan diet of Dr. John McDougall on the basis of the emphasis non weight loss (we all have problems with piling on extra weight; Steve lost "mucho" weight when he stopped eating a handful of nuts each day)
** All right - so, to START exercising, one walks around as much as possible; gently move and exercise each of the joints (yoga has ways to do this); in bed before rising, something called "a crunch" is stretching your chest UP toward your abdomen as much as possible - about 8-10 times - that's a set of 'reps' or 'repetitions' - and the goal is to build the muscles one has by exercising each muscle group, including the muscles in the abdomen.  On can also stand up and rotate around the waste, then slowly bend forward, back, sideways, and stretch up and down until one aches.

Everyone can do crunches each day.

The nuance seems to be on the definitions of a 'starch' and a 'carb' or carbohydrate (few of us have the sophistication, but we ought to understand the differences between starches and sugars - particularly simple sugars.  A starch is a carbohydrate; fiber is a carbohydrate.

From Wikipedia:
In food science and in many informal contexts, the term carbohydrate often means any food that is particularly rich in the complex carbohydrate starch (such as cerealsbread, and pasta) or simple carbohydrates, such as sugar (found in candyjams, and desserts).
McDougall likes COMPLEX carbohydrates but not simple carbohydrates; Fuhrman likes the carbohydrates bound in vegetables, beans, and whole fruits, but not those carbs that are ground up into grains and then made into breads.  However, what about whole grain cereals (oatmeal, not instant oatmeal)?
  • As I seem to recall it, McDougall was trying to help us understand how we would educate all of South and Central American about plant-based vegan diets. No one wanted to do that EXCEPT for Victor Forsythe, who inherited the California Vegetarian Association from Blanche Leonardo, then moved to Colorado and joined the Colorado Green Party.  South American root vegetables are SUFFICIENTLY rich in proteins to provide all the human requirements for protein, according to the WHO.  Therefore, one could live entirely on tubers and root vegetables grown in the South American mountains without supplementing with nuts, beans, or soy.  "Protein is not an issue" in a plant-based whole foods diet based on real foods, not prepared and packaged foods.  The indigenous diet is sufficient; in America, the (SAD/MAD) diet isn't mainly whole foods.  When I talk with inquirers, I tell them that many Americans like to "eat out" - eat out of a package, out of a drive-in-window, eat out of a tragically conceived restaurant menu, etc.
  • Fuhrman began as 'a natural hygienist' an told me in person, when we flew together in mid-August 1995 from the 8th International Vegan Festival in San Diego to Boston, that he was 'more vegan' than hygienist - then he said, 'just vegan' with an emphasis on the nutrients in whole fresh vegetables - more vegetables than fruits.
They agree, but they substantially disagree - and they settled on agreeing to the notion that they "agree about 90% of the time..."

From Wikipedia:
Starch is the most common carbohydrate in the human diet and is contained in many staple foods. The major sources of starch intake worldwide are thecereals (ricewheat, and maize) and the root vegetables (potatoes and cassava).[23] Many other starchy foods are grown, some only in specific climates, including acornsarrowrootarracachabananasbarleybreadfruitbuckwheatcannacolacasiakatakurikudzumalangamilletoatsocapolynesian arrowrootsagosorghumsweet potatoesryetarochestnutswater chestnuts and yams, and many kinds of beans, such as favaslentilsmung beans,peas, and chickpeas.
Widely used prepared foods containing starch are breadpancakescerealsnoodlespastaporridge and tortilla.
If we ate fewer starches, might we fart less frequently?

From Wikipedia:
Digestive enzymes have problems digesting crystalline structures. Raw starch will digest poorly in the duodenum and small intestine, while bacterial degradation will take place mainly in the colon
Some of us have celebrated the WIDE VARIETY of available foods of plant origin  Vance Lehmkuhl even sings about it.

I still think that erring on the side of nutrient-density is good, but affordability and refrigeration can be issues.  Therefore, whole vegetables (grow your own, like the Obama family does at the White House); farmers' markets; regular grocery store (shop produce aisle first), etc.  Eat them as you need them (and share the rest).  Further, when talking with students, other singles, and general inquirers, buying vegetables in the grocery is ALWAYS cheaper than dining out.  But college students have overpriced dining hall meal plans.

I need to credit my boss who raised the rhetorical question: "Why do so many Americans NOT want to be thin and attractive?"  Nudging from many sources - my boss, my vegan friends, and my doctor - pushed me to search for how as a vegan I could lose weight on an evidence-based program.

And to credit Michelle Obama, though she and her program are not my specific reason for 'daily motions' throughout my day, every one of us ought to get up and get out there and 'start moving' around...

I'm concerned to live by just principles.  Vegans CAN do that with evidence-based strategies that are built from the growing bodies of knowledge relevant to that project in human history.  Others seem to live, but that may not be justice, simply because they are able to live in health, if they do great damage and harm to other persons - simply because they only ways they know to feed themselves involve the destruction of others.

Maynard S. Clark, MS (Management: Research Administration)

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Pesticides and Produce: What you need to know

Pesticides and Produce: What you need to know

Pesticides and Produce: What You Need to Know

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the majority of pesticides now in use are probable or possible cancer causes. Studies of farm workers who work with pesticides suggest a link between pesticide use and brain cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple myeloma, leukemia, lymphoma, and cancers of the stomach and prostate.1-3Collectively, many studies have established strong links between several different classes of pesticides and non-Hodgkin lymphoma among agricultural workers.4 The question remains, however, does the low level of pesticides remaining on our food present much of a risk?

The large amount of studies performed on the typical pesticide-treated produce have demonstrated that consumption of produce, whether organic or not, is related to lower rates of cancer and increased disease protection. This suggests that the health benefits of eating phytochemical-rich produce greatly outweigh any risk pesticide residues might pose. As such, some scientists argue that the extremely low level of pesticide residue remaining on produce is insignificant and that there are naturally occurring toxins in all natural foods that are more significant. Bruce Ames, Ph.D., director of the Nutrition & Metabolism Center at the University of California-Berkeley, who has spent much of his career to examining this question, believes these minute amounts present pose no risk at all.

He and other scientists in this field support this view because humans and other animals are exposed to small amounts of naturally occurring toxins with every mouthful of organically grown, natural food. The body normally breaks down self-produced metabolic wastes and naturally occurring carcinogens in foods, as well as pesticides, and excretes these harmful substances every minute. Since 99.99 percent of the potential carcinogenic chemicals consumed are naturally present in all food, reducing our exposure to the 0.01 percent that are synthetic will not reduce cancer rates, according to Ames.5,6

These scientists argue that humans ingest thousands of natural chemicals that typically have a greater toxicity and are present at higher doses, compared to the very minute amount of pesticide residue that remains on food. Furthermore, animal studies establishing carcinogenic potential in synthetic chemicals are done at doses a thousand-fold higher than what humans are ingesting in foods. Ames argues a high percentage of all chemicals, natural or not, are potentially toxic in high doses—“the dose makes the poison”—and that there is no evidence of possible cancer hazards from the tiny amounts of chemical residues remaining on produce.5,6

On the other hand, recent studies have documented a link between pesticides ingested from foods and certain diseases. Organophosphate exposure (organophosphate pesticides are used on several crops including corn, apples, pears, grapes, berries, and peaches) during pregnancy or childhood has been associated with low birth weight, ADHD, behavior problems and neurodevelopmental deficits in children.7-10

A number of pesticides may have damaging effects on the brain that contribute to Parkinson’s disease, including paraquat, which is used on a variety of vegetable crops, and organochlorines.11,12 Exposure to organochlorines occurs primarily via fatty foods like meat, dairy, and fish.13 If you are concerned about pesticides and chemicals, keep in mind animal products, such as dairy, fish, and beef, contain the most toxic pesticide residues. Also, glyphosate, which is also linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma in agricultural workers, is present primarily in processed foods.4,14 By centering your diet on unrefined plant foods you will automatically reduce your exposure to the majority of dangerous chemicals.
Certainly, it is better to eat fruits and vegetables grown and harvested using pesticides than to not eat them at all, but it is also wise to minimize our pesticide exposure. The Environmental Working Group provides lists of produce called the “Dirty Dozen Plus” (highest in pesticides) and the “Clean 15” (lowest in pesticides). These are their most recent lists.

Dirty Dozen Plus

Download a printable PDF version
of the Dirty Dozen PLUS™
Clean Fifteen

Download a printable PDF version
of the Clean Fifteen™
It makes sense to peel fruits, if possible and not to eat potato skins, unless you are able to purchase them organic. Remove and discard the outermost leaves of lettuce and cabbage, if not organically grown, and other surfaces that cannot be peeled can be washed with soap and water, or a commercial vegetable wash.

Environmental and nutritional benefits of buying organic
When we buy organic, we minimize our pesticide exposure, and we are also minimizing the amount of these pesticides that our environment is exposed to. Organic farming is clearly the more environmentally-friendly choice. According to the USDA, organic farming integrates cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.15Supporting organic agriculture will increase the demand for organic produce and decrease the percentage of farmland (and farm workers) exposed to potentially harmful agricultural chemicals. This will also benefit insects (such as bees) and worms which are essential for the health of our planet as well.
Several studies have suggested that organically grown produce is richer in antioxidant nutrients, than conventional produce. In fact, a recent meta-analysis of 343 peer-reviewed publications showed significant differences in the concentrations of a range of antioxidants, which were found to be substantially higher in organic crops and organic crop-based foods. For example, concentrations of flavanones, anthocyanins, and flavonols were found to be 69%, 51%, and 50% higher, respectively.16 Organic apples, plums, blueberries, grapes, strawberries, and corn have all been shown to have higher antioxidant capacities than their conventional counterparts. Organic strawberries were even found to have more anti-cancer activity than conventional strawberries!  Scientists have theorized that when the plants are grown without pesticides, they are forced to deal with the stress of insects, which causes them to produce more antioxidant compounds, which are beneficial to humans.17,18 Buying organic is a wise choice—organic foods taste better, have more antioxidants, and organic agriculture protects farmers and our environment.


1. Brown TP, Rumsby PC, Capleton AC, et al: Pesticides and Parkinson's disease--is there a link? Environ Health Perspect 2006,114:156-164.
2. Sanderson WT, Talaska G, Zaebst D, et al: Pesticide prioritization for a brain cancer case-control study. Environ Res 1997,74:133-144.
3. Zahm SH, Blair A: Cancer among migrant and seasonal farmworkers: an epidemiologic review and research agenda. Am J Ind Med 1993, 24:753-766.
4. Schinasi L, Leon ME: Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and occupational exposure to agricultural pesticide chemical groups and active ingredients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2014, 11:4449-4527.
5. Ames BN, Gold LS: Environmental pollution, pesticides, and the prevention of cancer: misconceptions. FASEB J 1997,11:1041-1052.
6. Ames BN, Profet M, Gold LS: Dietary pesticides (99.99% all natural). Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1990, 87:7777-7781.
7. Rauch SA, Braun JM, Barr DB, et al: Associations of prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticide metabolites with gestational age and birth weight. Environ Health Perspect 2012, 120:1055-1060.
8. Zhang Y, Han S, Liang D, et al: Prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides and neurobehavioral development of neonates: a birth cohort study in Shenyang, China. PLoS One 2014, 9:e88491.
9. Bouchard MF, Bellinger DC, Wright RO, et al: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Urinary Metabolites of Organophosphate Pesticides. Pediatrics 2010, 125:e1270-e1277.
10. Bouchard MF, Chevrier J, Harley KG, et al: Prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides and IQ in 7-year-old children.Environ Health Perspect 2011, 119:1189-1195.
11. Dinis-Oliveira RJ, Remiao F, Carmo H, et al: Paraquat exposure as an etiological factor of Parkinson's disease. Neurotoxicology2006, 27:1110-1122.
12Fleming L, Mann JB, Bean J, et al: Parkinson's disease and brain levels of organochlorine pesticides. Ann Neurol 1994, 36:100-103.
13. United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals: Organochlorine Pesticides.; 2009.
14. Bohn T, Cuhra M, Traavik T, et al: Compositional differences in soybeans on the market: glyphosate accumulates in Roundup Ready GM soybeans. Food Chem 2014, 153:207-215.
15. United States Department of Agrigulture: National Organic Program. []
16. Baranski M, Srednicka-Tober D, Volakakis N, et al: Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. Br J Nutr 2014, 112:794-811.
17. Grinder-Pedersen L, Rasmussen SE, Bugel S, et al: Effect of diets based on foods from conventional versus organic production on intake and excretion of flavonoids and markers of antioxidative defense in humans. J Agric Food Chem 2003, 51:5671-5676.
18. Olsson ME, Andersson CS, Oredsson S, et al: Antioxidant levels and inhibition of cancer cell proliferation in vitro by extracts from organically and conventionally cultivated strawberries. J Agric Food Chem 2006, 54:1248-1255.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Don't Get Emotional: You might get treated for 'mental illness'!

Featured Resources -

Updated Resources on


Editors Note: This article appeared in Salvo 27, Winter 2013 edition and is used by permission. 

Winding up a fourteen-year process, the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5), was released earlier this year. Originally billed as rolling out a new psychiatric paradigm, the chaotic and secretive project ended up being rushed to print without field testing.[1] The nondisclosure agreement that contributors were required to sign was publicly criticized by the chair of the DSM-III task force.[2] Though the new manual was welcomed by some as another step in catching people who have been falling through the cracks, the overwhelming response was negative.
The DSM, which classifies hundreds of mental disorders, is the bible of psychiatry. Insurance companies rely on its detailed codes to determine reimbursement, and it influences the way doctors prescribe drugs.
DSM-5 added ten new mental illness diagnoses and loosened the criteria for many others. Allen Frances, M.D., chair of the DSM-IV task force, denounced many of the changes as seeming “clearly unsafe and scientifically unsound,” and asserted that blind adherence to the new criteria would lead to “massive over-diagnosis and harmful over-medication.”[3] Current odds are that, based on the DSM-5, half the population will have a diagnosable disorder in their lifetime.
A few examples illustrate the appropriateness of Dr. Frances’s concerns: Per the DSM-5, recurring overindulgence is now Binge Eating Disorder. Children with temper tantrums suffer from Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. There’s a diagnosis for a specific obsessive-compulsive behavior called Hoarding Disorder, and another (my personal favorite) for Caffeine Withdrawal. Being grumpy in the morning until I sip my Nespresso coffee isn’t a character issue for me anymore; it’s a mental problem. At the other extreme, of course, is Caffeine Intoxication.
This pattern portends two disturbing trends. One is toward the homogenization of the human personality by narrowing the range of what is considered normal. People who are anxious under stress, collapse in a crisis, or get despondent with grief—all common reactions—may now be regarded as abnormal. A diagnosis can lead to judging, labeling, and stigmatizing a person. Or it can lead the diagnosed person to seek personality-altering drugs so he can fit in.
In the “new normal,” what will be lost? Perhaps the spectacular human diversity that builds civilizations and cultures. The great figures of history were not well-behaved schoolchildren. Most great artists were not cheerful, compliant extroverts. And great discoveries were not made by mild-mannered, complacent researchers.
The second trend—toward medicalization—results when more and more aspects of human experience and behavior are seen as problems to be solved by medicine. The emotions elicited by the normal challenges of life, such as grief, sadness, depression, and irritability, are pathologized, treated as a disease to be cured, not a character-forming occasion. The root of the problem is a shift in our understanding of the boundaries of normality, health, and human flourishing.
At its 20th annual conference held earlier this year, the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity addressed “Health and Human Flourishing.” Speakers expressed the concern that medicine and technology have veered from repairing injury and curing disease to expanding human capacities and “correcting” the effects of normal human experience. Dr. Allen Verhey cited our cult of health, where “hospitals and exercise facilities are the temples, and doctors and dieticians are the priests.”
Christians recognize that health is a good thing, but it is not the greatest good. Rather, Dr. Verhey said, it is in responding to God’s grace and goodness with doxological gratitude, in remaining joyfully hopeful about our future, knowing that the Spirit is drawing all things toward God’s good ends, and in loving both God and neighbor, that we realize true human flourishing.

[1] Allen Frances, “DSM-5 Is Guide, Not Bible—Ignore Its Ten Worst Changes,” Psychology Today, December 2, 2012.
[2] Benedict Carey, “Psychiatrists Revise the Book of Human Troubles,” The New York Times, December 7, 2008.
[3] Frances.
- See more at:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Losing Sleep

Losing Sleep | HMS

Losing Sleep
‘Sleep switch’ neurons diminish with age and Alzheimer’s disease
August 20, 2014
As people grow older, they often have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, and tend to awaken too early in the morning. In individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, this common and troubling symptom of aging tends to be especially pronounced, often leading to nighttime confusion and wandering.
Now, a study led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the University of Toronto/Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre helps explain why sleep becomes more fragmented with age. Reported online in the journal Brain, the new findings demonstrate for the first time that a group of inhibitory neurons, whose loss leads to sleep disruption in experimental animals, are substantially diminished among the elderly and individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, and that this, in turn, is accompanied by sleep disruption.
“On average, a person in his 70s has about one hour less sleep per night than a person in his 20s,” explained senior author Clifford Saper, the HMS James Jackson Putnam Professor of Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess. “Sleep loss and sleep fragmentation is associated with a number of health issues, including cognitive dysfunction, increased blood pressure and vascular disease, and a tendency to develop type 2 diabetes. It now appears that loss of these neurons may be contributing to these various disorders as people age.”
Clifford Saper. Image: BIDMC Media ServicesClifford Saper. Image: BIDMC Media ServicesIn 1996, the Saper lab first discovered that the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus, a key cell group of inhibitory neurons, was functioning as a “sleep switch” in rats, turning off the brain’s arousal systems to enable animals to fall asleep. “Our experiments in animals showed that loss of these neurons produced profound insomnia, with animals sleeping only about 50 percent as much as normal and their remaining sleep being fragmented and disrupted,” he explained.
A group of cells in the human brain, the intermediate nucleus, is located in a similar location and has the same inhibitory neurotransmitter, galanin, as the vetrolateral preoptic nucleus in rats. The authors hypothesized that if the intermediate nucleus was important for human sleep and was homologous to the animal’s ventrolateral preoptic nucleus, then it may also similarly regulate humans’ sleep-wake cycles.
In order to test this hypothesis, the investigators analyzed data from theRush Memory and Aging Project, a community-based study of aging and dementia which began in 1997 and has been following a group of almost 1,000 subjects who entered the study as healthy 65-year-olds and are followed until their deaths, at which point their brains are donated for research.
“Since 2005, most of the subjects in the memory and aging project have been undergoing actigraphic recording every two years. This consists of their wearing a small wristwatch-type device on their non-dominant arm for seven to 10 days,” explained first author Andrew S. P. Lim of the University of Toronto and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and a former member of the Saper lab. The actigraphy device, which is waterproof, is worn 24 hours a day and thereby monitors all movements, large and small, divided into 15-second intervals. “Our previous work had determined that these actigraphic recordings are a good measure of the amount and quality of sleep,” he added.
The authors examined the brains of 45 study subjects (median age at death, 89.2), identifying ventrolateral preoptic neurons by staining the brains for the neurotransmitter galanin. They then correlated the actigraphic rest-activity behavior of the 45 individuals in the year prior to their deaths with the number of remaining ventrolateral preoptic neurons at autopsy.
“We found that in the older patients who did not have Alzheimer’s disease, the number of ventrolateral preoptic neurons correlated inversely with the amount of sleep fragmentation,” said Saper. “The fewer the neurons, the more fragmented the sleep became.” The subjects with the most neurons (greater than 6,000) spent 50 percent or more of total rest time in the prolonged periods of non-movement most likely to represent sleep while subjects with the fewest ventrolateral preoptic neurons (fewer than 3,000) spent less than 40 percent of total rest time in extended periods of rest. The results further showed that among Alzheimer’s patients, most sleep impairment seemed to be related to the number of ventrolateral preoptic neurons that had been lost.
“These findings provide the first evidence that the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus in humans probably plays a key role in causing sleep, and functions in a similar way to other species that have been studied,” said Saper. “The loss of these neurons with aging and with Alzheimer’s disease may be an important reason why older individuals often face sleep disruptions. These results may, therefore, lead to new methods to diminish sleep problems in the elderly and prevent sleep-deprivation-related cognitive decline in people with dementia.”
This work was supported by a Dana Foundation Clinical Neuroscience Grant and National Institutes of Health grants P01AG009975, P01HL095491, R01NS072337, R01AG017917, R01AG024480, R01NS078009, R01AG043379 and R01AG042210. Other support came from grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Robert C. Borwell Endowment Fund.
Adapted from a Beth Israel Deaconess news release.