Dry Water could help prevent global warning

This is one of the cooler (and seemingly safer) chemical discoveries I’ve heard proposed in recent times:  Dry Water.  95% H20 bonded with silica so it stays a powder.

The powdery substance could also, they say, be a greener, more energy-efficient way of jumpstarting the chemical reactions  used to make hundreds of consumer products. It could also provide a safer way to store and transport potentially harmful industrial materials.

“There’s nothing else quite like it,” said researcher Ben Carter of the University of Liverpool. “Hopefully, we may see ‘dry water’ making waves in the future.”

The substance became known as ‘dry water’ because it’s 95 percent water and yet is a dry powder. Each particle contains a water droplet surrounded by modified silica. The silica coating prevents the water droplets from combining and turning back into a liquid.

The result is a fine powder that can slurp up gases, which chemically combine with the water molecules to form a hydrate.

See more about Dry Water here


Hair Follicles Track our Body Clocks

An interesting discovery that cells in our hair follicles track our body clocks:


Salmon Baby Food Affords More DHA

This is actually a great idea and I hope becomes mainstream.  Otherwise, I might have to beat her to it.  Almost all Americans need more EPA & DHA in their diets (hence the popularity of fish oil supplements), but actually ground salmon flesh, bones and roe, that’s a very complete nutritional package.  I hope though that they’ll find a source of salmon that isn’t contaminated with PCB’s and mercury since feeding that to kids would be far more deleterious than adults:

Has your toddler eaten fish today? A University of Illinois food science professor has two important reasons for including seafood in your young child’s diet, reasons that have motivated her work in helping to develop a tasty, nutritious salmon baby food for toddlers.

“First, babies need a lot of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish for brain, nerve, and eye development, and when they switch from breast milk or formula to solid food, most of them don’t get nearly enough,” said Susan Brewer, also a registered dietitian.

“Second, children’s food preferences are largely developed by the time they’re five, so I urge parents to help their kids develop a taste for seafood early,” she said.

Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, have huge health benefits and help to prevent coronary artery disease, but most adults don’t eat fish twice weekly as experts recommend. In predisposing children toward liking fish, parents are doing their kids a big favor, she said.


Vitamin D Affects 200+ genes

Multiple studies have come out showing how many genes Vitamin D (midday sunlight) positively affects.  If you think you shouldn’t get any sun every day, think again, it’s probably the best thing you could do for your health.

Now, in a study whose funders include the Medical Research Council (MRC), the MS Society, the Wellcome Trust and the MS Society of Canada, researchers at the University of Oxford have shown the extent to which vitamin D interacts with our DNA. They used new DNA sequencing technology to create a map of vitamin D receptor binding across the genome. The vitamin D receptor is a protein activated by vitamin D, which attaches itself to DNA and thus influences what proteins are made from our genetic code.

The researchers found 2,776 binding sites for the vitamin D receptor along the length of the genome. These were unusually concentrated near a number of genes associated with susceptibility to autoimmune conditions such as MS, Crohn’s disease, systemic lupus erythematosus (or ‘lupus’) and rheumatoid arthritis, and to cancers such as chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and colorectal cancer.

They also showed that vitamin D had a significant effect on the activity of 229 genes including IRF8, previously associated with MS, and PTPN2, associated with Crohn’s disease and type 1 diabetes.

“Our study shows quite dramatically the wide-ranging influence that vitamin D exerts over our health,” says Dr Andreas Heger from the MRC Functional Genomics Unit at Oxford, one of the lead authors of the study.


Seven Hours of Sleep for Optimal Health

In the latest study published in the journal Sleep, your risk of heart disease and stroke are also significantly increased if you sleep more, or fewer, than seven hours per day:

  • Less than 5 hrs/night doubles your risk of angina, coronary heart disease, heart attack or stroke
  • More than 7 hrs/night increases your risk of cardiovascular disease
  • More than 9 hrs/night increases your risk of cardiovascular disease by 50 percent

Although the researchers were unable to determine the direct causative relationship between certain amounts of sleep and cardiovascular disease, they believe it is related to your endocrine and metabolic functions.

As mentioned earlier, sleep deprivation can impair your glucose tolerance, reduce your insulin sensitivity and raise your blood pressure, all of which are associated with hardening of your arteries.

One thing to keep mind though is that 7.5 hours may actually be the optimal amount of sleep and the reason I say that is due to the fact that a sleep cycle is 90 minutes.  So if 6 hours is too little, then the middle of the range would be 7.5 hours, or exactly 5 sleep cycles.  In addition, this would seem to fit a bit better with the fact that most people naturally sleep about 8 hours, but if you think about it, it’s probably more like 7.5 because people take 15-20 minutes to fall asleep often, but then calculate their sleeping time from when they last looked at the clock before going to bed.

Just listen to your body and do what you think is best.  You should feel good throughout the day, if not, something could be wrong.


Cinnammon Lowers Blood Sugar

This is one of those tips that’s been around for a long time and is just yet another fact about why things in nature are so great for us.

This article from New Scientist, which states:

Just half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day significantly reduces blood sugar levels in diabetics, a new study has found. The effect, which can be produced even by soaking a cinnamon stick your tea, could also benefit millions of non-diabetics who have blood sugar problem but are unaware of it.

The discovery was initially made by accident, by Richard Anderson at the US Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland.

. . . Sugars and starches in food are broken down into glucose, which then circulates in the blood. The hormone insulin makes cells take in the glucose, to be used for energy or made into fat.

But people with Type 1 diabetes do not produce enough insulin. Those with Type 2 diabetes produce it, but have lost sensitivity to it. Even apparently healthy people, especially if they are overweight, sedentary or over 25, lose sensitivity to insulin. Having too much glucose in the blood can cause serious long-term damage to eyes, kidneys, nerves and other organs.

. . . The active ingredient in cinnamon turned out to be a water-soluble polyphenol compound called MHCP. In test tube experiments, MHCP mimics insulin, activates its receptor, and works synergistically with insulin in cells.

To see if it would work in people, Alam Khan, who was a postdoctoral fellow in Anderson’s lab, organised a study in Pakistan. Volunteers with Type 2 diabetes were given one, three or six grams of cinnamon powder a day, in capsules after meals.

All responded within weeks, with blood sugar levels that were on average 20 per cent lower than a control group. Some even achieved normal blood sugar levels. Tellingly, blood sugar started creeping up again after the diabetics stopped taking cinnamon.

The cinnamon has additional benefits. In the volunteers, it lowered blood levels of fats and “bad” cholesterol, which are also partly controlled by insulin. And in test tube experiments it neutralised free radicals, damaging chemicals which are elevated in diabetics.

One thing to be aware of, but there is a toxic component to cinnamon and you really shouldn’t be eating more than a teaspoon a day.  Use that as a rule of thumb when you’re putting it on things like sweet potatoes, protein shakes and other sweet things you enjoy.

Try melting some 90% chocolate pieces with coconut oil, brown rice syrup, cinnamon and a very small hint of clove.  Pour it on some cool blueberries and you’ll have one of the healthiest snacks around!


Dark Chocolate Reduces Chance of Heart Failure

They’re so stupid sometimes, why do they always talk about people eating chocolate in an unhealthy way?  It annoys me.  What I want to know is if I eat one piece of 85% dark chocolate every day (50 calories, almost no sugar), will I be 30% or 50% or maybe 80% less likely to have a risk of heart failure?

Sorry, these things irk me because they talk about it only in the context of people eating crappy chocolate, but most people who know about the health benefits of chocolate will actually eat a decent piece.  I understand most of the world eats the low cocoa (and thus low polyphenol) mass produced chocolates, but I’m sure with a bit more education, people could learn to eat a piece a day of the really good stuff, then we’ll see what the results of a study like this are.

Here are the products I’m a fan of:

Green & Blacks, 85% Dark Chocolate (Organic)

Dagoba Eclipse 87% Dark Chocolate (Organic)

Lindt 85% Dark Chocolate (Not Organic)


Are slower heart rates better?

The topic of heart rate has come up several times in the context of life expectancy.  Do we have a fixed number of heart beats?  If so, will exercising so we have a stronger heart (and thus a lower pulse) extend our life?

This thought pattern has actually turned into what people call the Rate of Living Theory.  However, science has determined there is not a significant amount of evidence for it, and that a more plausible theory looks at our rate of oxygen processing.

People have said before that with every breath, you age a little.  This is in fact true, because the molecules we need to survive, such as oxygen, are the same ones that cause deterioration of our bodies over time.

This might make you wonder then, why is exercise good for us since that increases our respiration and thus our oxygen consumption?  Adaptation is once again the answer.  Our bodies release chemicals that protect us from being ravaged by the increase in oxygen consumption & processing.  In addition, it makes us stronger, whether cardiovascularly or muscularly, so that the next time we do that same amount of effort, it takes less of a toll on our bodies to complete the same activity.

Overall, as with most things in life, don’t overdo it!


Fructose Feeds Cancer Cells

Here’s a headline that caught some eyes in most diet communities (I hope):  “Cancer cells slurp up fructose

In case you’re not aware, fructose is one of the main sugars in fruit and raw cane sugar.  The percentage of fructose varies from 20% to 90% in some fruits, while being at about 50% in raw cane sugar and 55% in high fructose corn syrup (which is a slightly different molecule since it’s processed and not the same as the fructose in fruits which has many co-factors attached when consumed whole).  Agave is one of the worst offender at around 70%-85%, and people think that is a healthy sweetener.

Now that you have one paragraph of knowledge about fructose, see below.

“Pancreatic tumor cells use fructose to divide and proliferate, U.S. researchers said on Monday in a study that challenges the common wisdom that all sugars are the same.

Tumor cells fed both glucose and fructose used the two sugars in two different ways, the team at the University of California Los Angeles found.

They said their finding, published in the journal Cancer Research, may help explain other studies that have linked fructose intake with pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest cancer types.

“These findings show that cancer cells can readily metabolize fructose to increase proliferation,” Dr. Anthony Heaney of UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center and colleagues wrote.

“They have major significance for cancer patients given dietary refined fructose consumption, and indicate that efforts to reduce refined fructose intake or inhibit fructose-mediated actions may disrupt cancer growth.

Tumor cells thrive on sugar but they used the fructose to proliferate. “Importantly, fructose and glucose metabolism are quite different,” Heaney’s team wrote.”

It is definitely amazing to finally see a study pronounce that so clearly.  Many cancers thrive on sugar and one of the best ways to beat them is to consume a very low sugar diet, however, this clearly would indicate fructose, so you would have to carefully watch your fruit consumption.

Here’s a table of some of the various fructose percentages in fruits (sorry about the formatting):

Fruit   |   Serving Size   |   Grams of Fructose
Limes     1 medium     0
Lemons     1 medium     0.6
Cranberries     1 cup     0.7
Passion fruit     1 medium     0.9
Prune     1 medium     1.2
Apricot     1 medium     1.3
Guava     2 medium     2.2
Date (Deglet Noor style)     1 medium     2.6
Cantaloupe     1/8 of med. melon     2.8
Raspberries     1 cup     3.0
Clementine     1 medium     3.4
Kiwifruit     1 medium     3.4
Blackberries     1 cup     3.5
Star fruit     1 medium     3.6
Cherries, sweet     10     3.8
Strawberries     1 cup     3.8
Cherries, sour     1 cup     4.0
Pineapple     1 slice
(3.5″ x .75″)     4.0
Grapefruit, pink or red     1/2 medium     4.3
Boysenberries     1 cup     4.6
Tangerine/mandarin orange     1 medium     4.8
Nectarine     1 medium     5.4
Peach     1 medium     5.9
Orange (navel)     1 medium     6.1
Papaya     1/2 medium     6.3
Honeydew     1/8 of med. melon     6.7
Banana     1 medium     7.1
Blueberries     1 cup     7.4
Date (Medjool)     1 medium     7.7
Apple (composite)     1 medium     9.5
Persimmon     1 medium     10.6
Watermelon     1/16 med. melon     11.3
Pear     1 medium     11.8
Raisins     1/4 cup     12.3
Grapes, seedless (green or red)     1 cup     12.4
Mango     1/2 medium     16.2
Apricots, dried     1 cup     16.4
Figs, dried     1 cup     23.0

You can see that prunes, berries and dates are great sources of carbs without too much fructose (for those times you need some carbs).  They’re also quite high in antioxidants compared to lighter color fruits.   More on this topic to come, but happy to see the focus on how bad sugar is for us.


Paleo Diet better than carb based diet

There was a great post today comparing the nutrient values from small samples of different food by category.  Here’s the summary of what was determined and it speaks loads to the quality of a Paleo type diet:

Calorie for calorie Summary:

– Fibrous vegetables provide more fiber and protein than sugar, grains, starchy vegetables and even beans.

– Much higher quantities of fibrous vegetables can be eaten without piling on the calories (as opposed to sugar and grains). This helps in satiety when on a diet especially.

– Fruits (especially berries) provide crazy amounts of fiber and vitamin C compared to grains and sugars.

– Starchy vegetables offer a high carb load with minimal fiber and moderate vitamins which make it an awesome candidate for post-workout meals.

– Fibrous vegetables offer insane amount of vitamins compared to any other food source that exists.

– Sugars have zero nutrition. Period. Honey is no better than sugar.

– I haven’t even discussed the gluten issue. You can read here about the havoc they wreck.

– If this is not enough information and analysis for you to base the bulk of your diet around vegetables and fruits… then you’re just an idiot (and will be a fat idiot  soon and will most probably be a fat diabetic idiot soon after.)

Once again… you don’t have to change your diet to eating just fruit and vegetables and nuts and lean meats all the time. Base the bulk of your diet on these things and have the occasional dessert or grain based meal.

Click through to see the bar charts he produced making this all quite apparent: (Source)