Monthly Archives: June 2009

Phosphorus: The Under-appreciated Limit to Life

Phosphorus: The Under-appreciated Limit to Life

Competency # 16 Minerals

Reference: Resource:  Scientific American  June 2009

10-10-10.  I’m looking for fertilizer for my houseplants and my garden.  I want to be self-sufficient and have my own garden.  I need some chemicals to make my garden grow.  Do you know what the numbers stand for?  We all know the first one, that’s nitrogen.  Nitrogen is easy to make.  Earth’s atmosphere is 80% nitrogen, so that’s easy.  The second number is Potassium, which is relatively abundant.  Phosphorus, the third number, is not plentiful.

Phosphorus is relatively rare in nature.  Our green revolution in agriculture has allowed us to feed ourselves as the population of the world increases.  In fact, the rate of rise of the population is now more rapid than at any time in history.  We have all learned to be skeptical of bubbles.  When the tech boom bubble burst in the early decade, the rise of tech stocks presaged a dramatic collapse.  Then, there was the housing bubble where our houses escalated in price and then collapsed, much to our collective peril.  Now, our population is growing with the same type of curve of rapidly rising populations, demanding more and more resources.  The most basic resource is food.  And for food, we are now dependent on fertilizer.

Phosphorus is the limiting quantity.  Normally phosphorus is highly conserved by nature.  Before humans, a phosphate molecule would be recycled some 45-50 times before it went from the breakdown of rocks to the sea.  It is part of the backbone of our DNA and of ATP, our cellular energy molecule.  Life cannot exist without phosphate.  With modern agriculture, we are recycling phosphate with just 4-5 turnovers before it’s washout out to sea, where it makes algae bloom and dead zones in the ocean after the burst in growth followed by oxygen starvation.

With our mining of phosphate reserves we are exhausting our earth’s phosphate supply.  Unlike oil that is located all over the world, phosphate is mined in only a few places.  Most of America’s supply is in one huge mine in Florida that will be exhausted in about 40 years.  Morocco has 40% of the world’s supply all by itself.  Many countries have none.  The entire supply will run out in about 100 years.  W we will have none in easily retrievable form. That’s a problem.

If we are to have a sustainable planet on which life can flourish, we cannot continue to have an endless accelerating growth model.  Our natural instinct to do whatever we like and want is the basis for our current economic system.  That can lead to us being overweight and chronically ill with our eating.  But our eating also is dependent on the use of our precious limiting resources.

WWW.  We need to know this.  Life on our planet will continue only if we develop a language and consciousness about preserving it.  And phosphate, dull as it sounds, is one of the limiting features.  So, I’m resolved.  No more artificial fertilizer for me.  I’m doing Milorganite only.  Recycle what’s already been around once.  Make it go around twice, three times, four times…   My grass, not so green.  That’s okay.

Sugar and Your Arteries: Stiff and Tight!

Sugar and Your Arteries: Stiff and Tight!

Competency # 10 Glycemic Index and #11 Sugar

Reference: Lavi et al Jr of the Am Card Assoc 2009;53:2283

This is a very important study and extremely important for us to understand.  A group from Tel Aviv conducted a brilliant, clean and simple study looking at what happens to your arteries after eating a “high glycemic” food versus a “low glycemic” food.  They used water as a placebo, pure glucose as a standard, corn flakes as a high glycemic food and a high fiber, whole grain cereal as a low glycemic meal.  As we have stated before, most boxed cereals that have been made from a grain that is ground up into flour, made into paste, baked into flakes and then put in a box have a glycemic index of 70-85 or so.  That means they put glucose into your blood at 70-85% of the speed of pure glucose.  The same grain, not ground up but served with its fiber coat still intact will often have a glycemic index in the 38-45 range.  That means whole grains, with a glycemic index of 35 can be significantly changed by grinding them up and displacing the fiber.  Their GI rises from 35 to 80.  Is that a problem?  Emphatically yes, says this study.

What was discovered in the study was that “flow mediated dilation” (FMD) and percent endothelial independent nitroglycerin-mediated dilation (%NTG) were directly and statistically significantly affected by the glycemic index.  (Whew, try those terms with crackers in your mouth.)  These calculations are scientifically valid ways of measuring how your artery stretches in response to a pulse of blood.  If your artery is nice and stretchy, the pulse passes by without much effort or damage.  If the artery is stiff, you get a much higher peak of pressure, a little hammer blow, if you will.   Pure glucose and cornflakes made for a 5% worse change in flow stretchiness.  That’s called endothelial dysfunction.  That means the lining of your arteries don’t work as well as you would want them to.  High glycemic foods damage your arteries.

Does this cause a problem?  Not in the short term (hours or days).  In fact, the effect lasts just 1-2 hours, and then it’s gone.  But the habit and pattern of eating processed high glycemic foods with snacks and sugared sodas all day long means that 4-5 times a day we give our blood sugar a boost, and our arteries a hit.  That’s how it begins.  We damage our arteries, then we flood our blood with fats, and plaque starts to build.  It’s the life long habit and pattern.  It’s our culture.

The good news is right there in front of us.  The effect lasts two hours.  You can make it go away in two hours.  Start eating differently and you can change your FMD and %NTG in one meal.  Ha!

WWW: What will work for me.  I’m getting better at avoiding sugar.  I’ve looked at many snack bars and found more than three types of sugar listed in the ingredients.  As a consequence, I’ve chosen to eat other foods instead.  And I remember Miss Brennaman in third grade pounding into my stubborn little head the difference between “of” and “from”.  Made “OF” whole grains means you can see the chunks.  Made “FROM” means it’s been ground up and no good.  I’m going for the “MADE OF”.   Imagine your nice stretchy arteries!

D-Mannose: Natural Cure for Bladder Infections

D-Mannose: Natural Cure for Bladder Infections

Competency # 11 Sugar

Reference: Berry et al, Infect Immun. 2009 May 18,  Suzanne Sommers, Breakthrough, 2008

Did you know that most bladder infections are caused by the bacteria E. coli?  Yes, the same kind that occasionally makes nasty epidemics through contaminated beef.  But we all have E. coli in our intestines and we have it growing on our skin in our groin area.   Those E. coli aren’t the dangerous strains but they are the cause of most bladder infections.  About half of women get a bladder infection sometime in their lives, and many get lots and lots of them.

We’ve learned quite a lot about this bacteria recently.  Turns out they all have tiny little tips called “pili” that have protein receptors on the end.  Those receptors bind to a mannose molecule your bladder cell has on its surface.  When that happens, the E coli can hang on for dear life and doesn’t get flushed out when you empty your bladder.   Dr. Berry and his group have shown that the E coli make a biofilm across the bladder that protects them from being damaged by your immune system.  In fact, the E. coli can make clumps inside the bladder wall cells, and survive there quite nicely, out of reach of your immune cells, antibiotics or even the simple flushing of emptying your bladder.  Isn’t that unique?  So that’s how bladder infections keep coming back over and over.  The E. coli can hide inside the cell.

Guess what happens when you take mannose orally as a supplement? You trick the E. coli.  It attaches to the mannose molecule which is free floating rather than one attached to the bladder cell wall.  When it is free floating, it can’t form a biofilm, and can’t get inside the bladder cell walls.  It gets flushed out.

Did you get that?  Instead of taking antibiotics, you may be able to cure your bladder infection naturally by taking a natural sugar molecule and just tricking the E. coli.  D-Mannose is the name of a sugar that is somewhat rare in nature, but not unheard of.  What is rare is how well it works in bladder infections.  Suzanne Somers detailed it in one of the stories in her book, Breakthrough.  She relates how Dr. Jonathon Wright has been using it for years with folks who have recurrent bladder infections.

The era of the flippant use of antibiotics for every infection needs to come to an end.  Certainly, for mild symptoms, we may have an alternative.

WWW.  What will work for me.  You can buy D-mannose over the counter at health food stores.  Perhaps it should become part of standard therapy, even when you get an antibiotic.  It’s certainly worth a try if all you have are preliminary symptoms of mild frequency.   I would like to see a bit more about it…

If You Eat Food…You Have to See This One

If You Eat Food…You Have to See This One

Competency # 19  Food Safety

Reference: Reference:  Movie titled, “Food, Inc”

Do you have the fantasy that your chicken comes from a lovely little family farm down the road?  Do you see the picture on your yogurt and think that your milk comes from a nice little dairy with 10 happy cows that spend most of their day in clover.  Oh dear, you missed the movie.  The world changed and you weren’t watching. Neither was I, until I saw this movie.

Please go see this movie.  Our world is changing at breakneck speed in regards to industrial food production.  And it’s all happening in secret, behind closed doors.  If we are to be responsible for the welfare of ourselves, our families and our communities, much less this planet, we must become aware of the implications of our decisions about how we eat.

For example, when we always demand the very cheapest food we can get (ostensibly a good thing), we force the natural process of competitive capitalism to move as it will naturally move.  But without supervision and regulation, which has been not just lacking, but aggressively withdrawn in the last 10 years, our food companies have to keep diving for the very lowest denominator, and, thereby, the cheapest form of production.  Without regulation, safety goes out the door.

Have you noticed how many E. coli epidemics we have had in just the last few years?  That’s not by chance.  It is inevitable, and will get worse.  Have you heard of Kevin’s Law?  The law would have been formally known as the Meat and Poultry Pathogen Reduction and Enforcement Act of 2003. It’s a law designed to mandate proper supervision and regulation so that people and small children, like Kevin, can stop dying from E coli?  The law would have given the U.S. Department of Agriculture the power to close down plants that produce contaminated meat. The bill never became law.  Where is the public outcry for safe food?

Chicken farms raise chickens in totally inhumane conditions. The huge demand for white meat has resulted in genetic selection for unnaturally fast growth.  In this scenario, muscle outpaces bone development during the early life of chickens. They feed them until they are too oversized to be able to walk.  These same companies harvest the chickens at night with labor they sneak in from Mexico to keep the public unaware of these deplorable conditions.

Did you know that one company owns the patent on a gene in soybeans that makes them resistant to Roundup?  Ninelty percent of US farmers now use those seeds?  However, the farmers don’t own those seeds and can’t save them for next year because they don’t own the patent.  This means that each year they have to buy them again and again.   Did you know that the patent company has a team of 75 investigators out scouring America to make sure no farmer uses their seeds without being paid?

These are all seemingly sensible decisions, when made from the business’s point of view. But do they make sense for a society?  Haven’t we just seen what happens when unintended consequences happen to big companies if they become too big to fail?

WWW. What will work for me.  Does this sound paranoid?  I’m not sure.  I’m a bit shaken and am letting it all sink in.  I think we need to all become informed food consumers and lobby for Kevin’s Law.  We should buy locally grown food.   I’m watering my garden tonight.  Would it be ironic if the most dangerous weapon of mass destruction turned out to be our forks?  Write a letter to your congressman.  Kevin’s Law.

Fifty Ways to Meet Your Lover – Names for Sugar

Fifty Ways to Meet Your Lover

Competency # 11 Sugar

Reference: Google: “Names for Sugar”

Sugar.  We love sugar.  Our tongues have  receptors for sugar.  Our brain puts out endorphins when we eat sugar.  Throughout our evolution, sweet meant valuable nutrition that was safe to gorge on.  Now, in the twenty first century, sweet is our downfall.  We are all addicted to it.  When we get it, we gorge on it.  We all know that sugar is a problem.  Our food manufacturers know that we are watching.

Here is where it gets tricky.  Law requires that processed foods have a label on them that list their ingredients in order of content.  If sugar is the most abundant ingredient, it must be listed first.   Then, you, the savvy shopper, would not buy it.  Let’s pull off some sleight of hand.  Let’s fool you, knowing that you really want to be fooled anyways.  Let’s put sugar into many different forms, and list each of the forms separately.   They are all still sugar, glucose and fructose combined together.  It gets to be kind of fun.  Here are the 56 names I’ve found so far for sugar.  Fifty ways…

  1. 1.Barley malt

2.Barbados sugar

3.Beet sugar

4.Brown sugar

5.Buttered syrup

6.Cane juice

7.Cane sugar

8.Caramel

9.Corn syrup

10.Corn syrup solids

11.Confectioner’s sugar

12.Carob syrup

13.Castor sugar

14.Date sugar

15.Dehydrated cane juice

16.Demerara sugar

17.Dextran

18.Dextrose

19.Diastatic malt

20.Diatase

21.Ethyl maltol

22.Free Flowing Brown Sugars

23.Fructose

24.Fruit juice

25.Fruit juice concentrate

26.Galactose

27.Glucose

28.Glucose solids

29.Golden sugar

30.Golden syrup

31.Grape sugar

32.HCFS

33.Honey

34.Icing sugar

35.Invert sugar

36.Lactose

37.Malt

38.Maltodextrin

39.Maltose

40.Malt syrup

41.Mannitol

42.Maple syrup

43.Molasses

44.Muscovado

45.Panocha

46.Powdered Sugar

47.Raw sugar

48.Refiner’s syrup

49.Rice syrup

50.Sorbitol

51.Sorghum syrup

52.Sucrose

53.Sugar (granulated)

54.Treacle

55.Turbinado sugar

56.Yellow sugar

There are more!

WWW:  What Will Work for Me?  Alarm, alarm!  You are being lied to.  Give me a break.  Turn it around and have some fun.  Look at your next “Fiber Bar” and see how many forms of sugar you can find.  If there are more than three, DON’T eat it.  It’s mostly sugar.  And your lover is lying to you.  Toss it.  Have an apple. Eve may be a fallen angel, but she offered you a sweet apple, and it is better for you.