Wednesday, December 30, 2009

More About Coffee

Interesting article on how coffee can irritate the intestinal tract.
  • All coffee beans, decaf included, contain an enzyme that irritates the entire digestive tract.
  • Drinking coffee first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, offers absolutely no buffer for the acid, irritant, and stimulant effects of the beverage.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Coffee - It's not just Caffeine

An article from the McDougall Newsletter that summarizes some of the problems with coffee: Coffee Pleasure and Pain.
"Coffee contains several hundred different substances (in addition to well-known caffeine) and many of these have powerful pharmacological effects on the human body. Two cholesterol-raising substances – cafestol and kahweol – are found in coffee beans. Not only do they raise total cholesterol, but also “bad” LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, too."
Fortunately, using a paper filter will save your cholesterol levels from this effect.
"Both regular and decaffeinated coffees cause indigestion by reducing the function of the lower esophageal sphincter – a valve that prevents the stomach acid from refluxing up into and burning the esophagus.4-6 Regular coffee and decaffeinated coffee both stimulate acid production in the stomach by similar amounts."
Read Coffee Pleasure and Pain. Author John A. McDougall, MD has been writing about the effects of nutrition on disease for over 30 years.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Is there a NEW link between vaccines and autism?

Many parents have claimed that their child's symptoms of autism showed up after receiving vaccinations. A theory was developed that mercury in vaccines causes autism. But researchers could not prove it, although mercury is a known neurological poison.

Now some researchers have another theory: that hydrolyzed gelatin in the MMR vaccine may bring on autism. Read this report to find out about this research on autism.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Natural Sweeteners? Probably Not Erythritol...

I came across a post about fructose in Vitamin Water that also had some interesting facts about erythritol, which is sometimes sold as a "natural" sweetener. Here are quotes from patents and scientific papers:
The present method of producing erythritol by fed-batch and repeated fermentation of sugars by microorganisms which produce erythritol.
By fed-batch fermentation is meant a fermentation in which microorganisms are fed by the successive addition of substrates, and in which the product and the co-products of the fermentation remain in the medium until the end of fermentation.
By sugars is meant in the present invention all the carbonaceous sources which may be directly assimilated by the microorganisms which produce erythritol. Such sugars are chosen for example from the group consisting of glucose, saccharose, fructose, maltose, xylulose and maltulose, on their own or in a mixture. By extension, sugars also means certain sugar alcohols (or polyols) such as mannitol or sorbitol which, being assimilated by said microorganisms, will also lead to the production of erythritol.
As the writer at the Golden Spiral says, "I’m sorry… does that sound natural?"

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cause of Road Rage

This report is from Cairo: Gas fumes cause aggressive behavior in rats.

After forced exposure to gasoline, "the rats were put into a cage and exhibited a variety of aggressive behavior, including gnashing of teeth and biting."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

You Can Catch this from Your Pet

I saw a poster in the veterinarian's office about toxocara. It is one of the terms for a roundworm infection commonly found in dogs and cats. The poster pointed out that it is more common in humans than sometimes believed.

So if you own a pet or are around animals (or their feces), be aware of this condition, which can cause eye infections, respiratory symptoms, and sometimes life-threatening disease. See Toxocariasis article in Wikipedia.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Lupus and other Autoimmune Diseases Linked to Insecticide Use

Lupus Linked to Insecticide Use

Beyond Pesticides reports that a "study, which looked at more than 75,000 women, shows that those who spray insecticides at least six times per year have almost two and a half times the risk of developing lupus and rheumatoid arthritis versus those who do not use insecticides. The risk doubles if insecticides were used in the home for 20 years or more."

"Hiring a gardener or commercial company to apply insecticides also resulted in a doubling of risk, but only if they were used long-term."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nuclear Power and Cancer

I heard an interview on NPR's Living on Earth about radiation and health. The worrisome part was that living near a nuclear power plant carries a significant risk of cancer for children. The speaker was Joseph Mangano, MPH, MBA, the Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project.

Even more information is at the (Radiation and Public Health) website.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fructose and "FODMAPS" Can Be Digestive Demons

I'm benefitting from a low-fructose diet but it's hard to follow. Here's an article (in PDF) on Malabsorption of Fructose and "FODMAPS" that has good science to explain why some carbs cause digestive problems and how they interact with bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine.

FODMAPS stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides And Polyols. Authors Jacqueline S. Barrett and Peter R. GIbson are in Australia, but it is reproduced by the UVA Health System.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Killing Germs: Your Battle with Biofilm

Biofilm is formed by colonies of similar bacteria, usually on damp surfaces such as your sink. The germs cooperate to build and maintain a barrier that keeps even strong disinfectants such as bleach and iodine at bay.

Yes, they can resist bleach and iodine! Read this: Killing Germs: Are You Winning the Battle with Biofilm? -

Scientific American Magazine reports that bacteria communicate to build "microcolonies within a sophisticated architecture" that protects the organisms in a kind of walled — if somewhat slimy — city.
According to Science News Magazine, scientists report that, "Pseudomonas [the bacterium that causes cystic fibrosis pneumonia] … [in a biofilm can] survive in bottled iodine solution for up to 15 months." Based on another study, Scientific American reported that harmful microbes suspended in a biofilm were still alive and well after 60 minutes exposure to bleach.
Stanford University researchers reported that the germ that causes cholera (Vibrio cholerae) forms a biofilm that enables it to survive in the presence of chlorine in concentrations 1000 to 2000% higher than that found in chlorinated drinking water. Washington DC’s water supply was compromised by biofilms in 1996 for this very reason.
Posted using ShareThis

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Some Notes on Fructose

You've probably read that high-fructose corn syrup is supposedly not healthy. I just learned that some people can't handle regular fructose either. In the book, Why Doesn't My Doctor Know This? David Dahlman writes that for some of us, fructose contributes to irritable bowel syndrome.

I'm going to stay off fructose for a week or so to see if that helps. I looked up fructose in Wikipedia to get more information. Here are my notes from that detailed article and from a linked page on Fructose Malabsorption.
  • The primary food sources of fructose are fruits, vegetables, and honey.
  • Apple and pear juices [have] the high concentrations of free fructose, and these juices can cause diarrhea in children.
  • Studies indicate that fructose is not completely absorbed in the small intestine... it is transported into the large intestine, where it is fermented by the colonic flora... The presence of gases and organic acids in the large intestine causes gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, flatulence, and gastrointestial pain. Exercise can exacerbate these symptoms by decreasing transit time in the small intestine, resulting in a greater amount of fructose being emptied into the large intestine.
  • It is suspected that eating large amounts of fructose increases the likelihood of weight gain.
  • Excessive fructose consumption is also believed to contribute to the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Even in healthy people, only about 25-50 g of fructose per sitting can be absorbed.
  • Foods with a high glucose content actually help sufferers absorb fructose.
  • Fructose malabsorption is common in patients with symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. A small proportion of patients with both fructose malabsorption and lactose intolerance also suffer from celiac disease.
  • Patients with fructose malabsorption may need to avoid inulin, FOS, sorbitol, and xylitol.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Columnists - reports that "Oral Allergic Syndrome (OAS), also called pollen-food allergy, is an allergic reaction to fruits (usually fresh), nuts and vegetables. OAS typically develops in hay fever sufferers. In adults, up to 60 percent of all food allergic reactions are due to cross-reactions between foods and inhalant allergens. Well-cooked, canned, pasteurized or frozen food usually causes little or no reaction because of the breakdown of cross-reacting proteins during processing."

Read the article.

Posted using ShareThis

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Don't cut out healthy fats!

Omega-3 deficiency causes 96,000 US deaths per year, say researchers. Consuming too little of Omega-3 oils is more deadly than excess trans fat intake, according to a Harvard University study.

Read the article here.

"Tobacco smoking ranked as the highest risk factor with 436,000 to 500,000 attributed preventable deaths, followed by high blood pressure (372,000 to 414,000), obesity (188,000 to 237,000), physical inactivity (164,000 to 222,000), high blood glucose (163,000 to 217,000), high LDL cholesterol (94,000 to 124,000) and high salt intake (97,000 to 107,000)."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Colonel's secret ingredient for KFC grilled chicken? Beef

Interesting article here: Colonel's secret ingredient for KFC grilled chicken? Beef
(Shared via AddThis)

The list of ingredients for the Colonel's grilled chicken not only includes beef fat, but also MSG, maltodextrin, bleached wheat flower, partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil, soy sauce, autolyzed yeast, and more. Since I don't tolerate wheat, yeast, or soy, I certainly won't try this grilled chicken!

I don't like KFC's fried chicken either; it tastes like oil and stale pepper. Yuck!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Are there hazards from Gypsy Moth Spraying has published a series of articles on concerns about spraying for gypsy moths and links to spray schedules for mid-Atlantic states. An item of current concern is a study linking Bt to a dangerous worsening of flu.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sleep Study Not Helpful

Well, my husband spent a night in the hospital to have his sleep problems diagnosed. Unfortunately, the test was incomplete because he did not sleep long enough for them to make a diagnosis. He kept waking up and had trouble going back to sleep.

At about 4 a.m., the technician came in and sent him home because there was no way they could get sufficient data to diagnose sleep apnea, even though he might well have it. He just wasn't sleeping.

He's supposed to see if the doctor will order another test.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rejecting a Healthy Supplement

I decided to try Ultraclear Sustain to see if it would help a  stubborn digestive problem. I used the product before but it was over a decade ago. It was helpful at the time. I had forgotten why I stopped taking it but figured the cost had something to do with it.

I started with just a teaspoon in liquid and gradually increased to a tablespoon. Then I started coughing every time I drank the stuff. Oh yeah... now I remember why I stopped taking it! That darn cough.

There have been other supplements that made me cough, things that were supposed to be healthful:
  • Flax seed oil
  • Psyllium
  • Coconut oil
  • Green tea
  • Rooibos tea
I don't know whether the cough is from an allergy or something else. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fumes from Self-Cleaning Ovens

I already knew that heated Teflon was hazardous to birds, but self-cleaning ovens? Turns out that Petco and other pet resources are warning people to not use self-cleaning cycle when birds are in the house.

Here's what I wonder: if Teflon and self-cleaning ovens produce fumes that kill birds, aren't they a teensy bit harmful to people too? And what about other pets?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Parasomnia, Moving During Sleep

Imagine waking up from a deep sleep because your spouse is hitting you in HIS sleep! This happened to me and after trying unsuccessfully to go back to sleep, I went to the computer and found that he may have parasomnia or RBD.

Definition from MedicineNet:
REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD)

People with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder act out dramatic and/or violent dreams during REM sleep. REM sleep usually involves a state of sleep paralysis (atonia), but people with this condition move the body or limbs while dreaming. Usually, RBD occurs in men aged 60 and older, but the disorder also can occur in women and in younger people. In the diagnosis and treatment of RBD, potentially serious neurological disorders must be ruled out. Polysomnography (sleep tests) and drug treatments also can be involved in the diagnosis and treatment of this disorder.

Follow this link for an indepth article from National Sleep Foundation:
REM Behavior Disorder and Sleep

(Posted using ShareThis)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Zinc Helps Against Diarrhea

I saw this mentioned on and searched (using Goodsearch) for more information on how zinc supplements can help fight diarrhea. I found summaries of various studies about zinc on, the Rehydration Project.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Can You Trust the Media on a Weight Loss Study? Not Really.

I'm annoyed with a report from the Associated Press that lured me in with a false headline: "Low-fat, low-carb or high-protein? The kind of diet doesn't matter." It purports to summarize a New England Journal of Medicine study.

Yet as I read the report, it was obvious that it did not really compare low-fat, low-carb or high-protein diets, at least not what most of us believe those terms mean. Anyone who has tried the Atkins diet knows what low-carb really involves and it does not allow the "healthful grains" that all participants in the study ate daily.

So don't believe the AP headline, it is just hype! Read the actual report if you want, or just save time and read the NEJM Editorial. It points out that
  • The dietary goals were only partly achieved.
  • After 12 months, subjects started to regain weight.
  • Although the participants were highly motivated and intelligent AND were coached by expert professionals, they did not achieve the weight losses needed to reverse the obesity epidemic.
  • We do not need another diet trial; we need a change of paradigm; ie, ways to encourage exercise.
Sounds like what the study really shows is that it's hard to keep weight off by dieting!

For those that believe that "different" diets were used, read this from the NEJM report: The four diets also allowed for a dose–response test of carbohydrate intake that ranged from 35 to 65% of energy. Other goals for all groups were that the diets should include 8% or less of saturated fat, at least 20 g of dietary fiber per day, and 150 mg or less of cholesterol per 1000 kcal. Carbohydrate-rich foods with a low glycemic index were recommended in each diet.

You can download a PDF of the actual plan. Actual meal plans are included. NONE OF THEM CLAIMS TO BE LOW-CARB, although two are High Protein. All four diets include bagel, egg, and milk for breakfast, but with different serving sizes. DUH! It's basically the same diet, just varying whether you can eat half a bagel or a full one, etc.

I don't blame the medical guys for the false headline, it is the fault of AP reporter Alice Chang or her editor. Unfortunately she continues the misinformation throughout the report .

Never trust the media on science or medical reports; always go to the source or look it up on Google Scholar or Unbound Medicine.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Another Bra that Fits

A few months back I wrote about bras that don't fit and how difficult it is to find a size 42 that does not have huge cups. I found another one: the Eezee Arthritis Bra . The cups stretch to fit B through DD cups, including a "true" B like I wear, not the oversized B that I usually find in sizes over 40. It's latex-free and contains cotton and spandex.

It caught my eye in the National catalog because I needed a front-closing model that was easy to put on, having injured my shoulder.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Supplements Causing Burning Urine?

My dog was acting irritable and sometimes aggressive. I read that you can give tryptophan or 5-HTP to dogs to make them calmer, so I tried it.

Then he started having "accidents" - needing to urinate more often and, if we didn't rush him outside immediately, piddling on the carpet. On the second day as I was cleaning up after him, I realized that the 5-HTP might be causing the problem. I stopped adding it to his food and he immediately stopped having accidents.

I could relate to his problem because some supplements make my urine burn. I've wasted a good bit of money on supplements that were supposed to be good for you but then gave me symptoms similar to a urinary tract infection. The last one that did that was HCA. Since then I have avoided most supplements that have "acid" in their name.

Moral: When taking supplements, watch for changes that indicate possible side-effects.

Articles: 5-HTP Toxicosis in Dogs
Effect of Tryptophan on Canine Aggression (PDF)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chest Pain after Drinking Decaf - Encore

I wrote about unpleasant reactions to decaf coffee before. I switched to organic brands at home, or sometimes Folger's, which did not bother me. I also started brewing through an unbleached filter instead of using the French Press, just in case the oils were a problem. I did okay with decaf for a while, except for a couple of less-than-pleasant cups when eating out. (Some I didn't drink; it was too bitter. I like strong but not bitter.)

Then yesterday I tried a Seattle's Best Decaf for the first time. (It was at least "fair trade.") I bought it at a store which did not have an organic brand.

Big mistake. First of all, the coffee was bitter. Although it was not labeled French Roast, it had that burnt taste. And a few hours later, I started having chest pain. At first I did not relate the pain to the coffee. I didn't even remember that I had just opened a new kind of coffee yesterday evening until I woke up this morning and thought about fixing coffee.

"Oh, no. All I have is that bitter stuff," I thought. Then I made a connection. The chest pain was like I have had before, usually after drinking flavored coffee or some restaurant coffee.

And last night I lay in bed in with my chest hurting. Then the pain moved into my left side, inflaming an area from my rib cage to my waist. In order to relax in hopes of going to sleep, I entertained myself with trying to imagine what color the sore area was, and then changing the color. Eventually I slept.

In the morning, I still felt some pain but it disappeared after I got up and moved around. I still don't know why some coffee gives me chest pain.

Articles that may have clues:
Today I read that Seattle's Best is one of the brands that still contains caffeine even though it is labeled decaf.
Read about Decaffeination methods at Go Ask Alice or Wikipedia.
A 1985 article says that General Foods used methylene chloride to remove caffeine from its Sanka, Brim, Maxwell House and Yuban brands; Procter & Gamble used ethyl acetate to decaffeinate its brands: Instant High Point, Decaffeinated Folgers Crystals and Decaffeinated Vacuum Folgers. This may have changed.
Another article: Decaffeinated not Decapitated.
FDA says furan and acrylamide are found in many foods including coffee.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


SIBO stands for small intestine bacterial overgrowth. Sometimes the condition is called intestinal dysbiosis. Anyway, I had a 3-hour test called the H2 Breath Test and it shows I have this condition.

The doctor sent my a prescription for an antibiotic, but unfortunately it's one I'm allergic to so I've got to get a different prescription. (Obviously this gastroenterologist does not read the forms I filled out in his office. Either he's stupid or not very caring... I suspect the latter.) Meanwhile, I looked up natural treatments to consider as extra help since the prescription treatments are pretty inconsistent in their results. I've been through treatment for SIBO before, taking Flagyl, which only helped for a while.

Here's a list of some supplements that are said to help. I'll try them along with the new prescription. I started taking garlic capsules already.
  • Grapefruit seed extract
  • Garlic
  • Oregon grape root
  • Probiotics
  • Dioxychlor

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Web tribes

I read about webtribes in an article. The site features online support groups for depression, anxiety, and more. Might be worth checking out.