The Tao of Politics

One of my main concerns is: how can I make a difference? There are thousands of political blogs out there. It’s easy to get lost in that ocean. So I may blog about politics on occasion, or I may blog about health issues, depending on where my interests lead me, and where I feel I can contribute something of significance.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Health Notes

Here is what we are discussing today (with links) at The Tao of Health:

This study says one in three children will develop type 2 diabetes. That’s pretty grim isn’t it? What’s wrong? Have we suddenly been hit with the diabetes virus that is causing a diabetes pandemic? Nope, I don’t think so. I think it has a lot to do with our lifestyle in this country. Anyway, the study I mention above goes on to say that exercise is crucial in fighting diabetes.

For more information about diabetes: the CDC has lots of information. There are a lot of links, including something on physical activity and health. Here is something on exercise and diabetes. Here is something on groups affected by diabetes. Here are diabetes FAQs. Here is something on preventing diabetes. Here is an overview of diabetes in children and adolescents. The section on statistics is particularly revealing. Apparently the proportion of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has increased from about 5 percent before 1994 to between 30 and 50 percent now? Good Lord! This is an epidemic that we need to stop.

I knew we weren’t through talking about eating disorders. Recent discussions have tried to blame families for anorexia, bulimia, etc, while other discussions have said that’s all wrong. This article reports on research that suggests that fathers may somehow influence their daughters to become bulimic. So the discussion continues. Stay tuned for further developments because we’re still not through talking about eating disorders.

This article says that you don’t need to drink eight glasses of water per day. Read the article for further discussion. A lot of the water you need is in the food you eat. I agree. You can really upset your daily routine by adopting a new routine like drinking a lot of water. For example, I decided a few months ago that I needed to drink a lot of water. I found that I couldn’t venture far from a bathroom because I needed to go very often. When I stopped drinking all that water, a lot of my problems went away. Besides, I eat a lot of soups and vegetables, which contain a lot of water. I’m glad this person agrees: eight glasses of water is too much.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Health Notes

Here is what we are discussing today (with links) at The Tao of Health:

There seems to be a lot of interest in the new diet drug Excalia. Here is a recent article about Excalia and another new diet called Contrave. Excalia contains bupropion and zonisamide. Contrave contains bupropion and naltrexone. And let us not forget Qnexa which contains topiramate and phentermine. You know, if I had a serious weight problem I suppose I would consider taking something like this. So far I’ve been lucky, though. Usually I’ve been able to lose weight by eating less and exercising more.

I guess I’ve known for some time that particulate matter in air pollution can contribute to heart disease. I remember being in New York City one day a few years ago and I didn’t want to get out of my car because it was hot and hazy outside, and I didn’t want to breathe that obviously polluted air. Now there is a new study apparently linking heart disease with small particle air pollution. Shouldn’t somebody do something about this? I mean it’s pretty hard to live the American Dream when you can’t breathe.

How much of what you believe about heart disease is true, and how much of it is false? This article explains the truth about some heart disease myths.

According to this article there are a lot of good reasons to eat sunflower seeds. I’m not a big fan of sunflower seeds. I don’t claim there’s anything wrong with them. I do think you have to watch what the seeds are cooked in or roast them yourself. We already get too much omega-6 fatty acids in our diet, and sunflower seeds contain some I suppose, especially if they are cooked in sunflower oil. Plus, some that I bought awhile ago contain like 18g of fat per serving, so you can’t really eat a lot of them. Rather, I prefer foods like nuts and pumpkin seeds. Pistachios contain a lot of monounsaturated fats. I cook the pumpkin seeds myself in the microwave with some organic soy sauce. I love them.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Health Notes

Here is what we are discussing today (with links) at The Tao of Health:


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a really bad condition, but now there is a new diagnostic model that may make it easier to predict who may develop the disease and who may not. On a similar subject, why does this article say that people with rheumatoid arthritis should avoid food with high water content? Also, this article says green tea might help with RA. And I hate to say it, but this article says alcohol might help too.

Here is an article about passive smoke, the workplace, and lung cancer. Can we please ban smoking in public now?

This article says, “Acupressure may be able to calm the aggressive behavior that often results from dementia.” It goes on to say, “the simple act of human contact . . . might explain the benefit.” Why am I reminded of the touches between a mother and her child? Of course human contact is important, for the very young and for the very old; for human beings whenever they are locked inside their bodies, frustrated and unable to communicate. I do wonder, however, if we will see more acupressure applied in this country to those with dementia.

Don’t believe in global warming? Not worried about its consequences? This is a pretty grim assessment for the year 2050. Of course I’ll be dead by then, but they’re making predictions about conditions that will impact our children and grandchildren. Can’t we be responsible adults, look ahead, and do something for them? Stop global contributing to global warming before it’s too late?

In New Zealand they are still using a pesticide, endosulfan, that has been linked with breast cancer, as well as neurological and immune system damage. It has even shown up in human breast milk. Can you imagine anything any worse than that: feeding your baby, and your breast milk may contain poison? I’m sorry, I just can’t think about it. Oh, and in case you thought endosulfan is solely a problem in New Zealand, I think it is still being used in the United States. (If I’m wrong, please tell me.) I try to wash all my fruits and vegetables. And I eat organic as much as possible.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Health Notes

Here is what we are discussing today (with links) at The Tao of Health:

Would one of our major multinational corporations engage in subliminal advertising? Of course not, right?

I guess we’ve mentioned conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) before. In some cases I think it has been used as a weight loss/fat loss supplement. But now there are some questions regarding its safety, and here is another article. See, if I wanted to lose weight or fat I’d just do it the old fashioned way, by exercising and eating less. But hey, that’s just me, I guess.

Hmmm. Interesting thing about functional foods: they may not always be the healthiest things I could eat. Note to self: don’t be deceived or unduly influenced by the addition of functional foods to your grocery items.

Interesterified fat may be replacing trans fat in some cases. Is it really all that great a substitute? Would we be better off using interesterified fat? Thanks, but I’ll pass.

This is good news: a safer prenatal test for Down Syndrome.

Here is an article about grape seed extract as it may relate to the health of your skin. I don’t know, I think I’m a little skeptical about this. Besides, there are a lot of things attacking our skin from without, things like sun, wind, cold, pollution. I think I’d concentrate on protecting myself from those. But hey, I doubt taking grape seed extract would hurt. And who knows, it might have some positive health benefits?

Here is an article about how a mother’s diet may impact the health of her baby, even into adulthood. I don’t know if I believe all this. Read the article and see what you think.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Health Notes

Here is what we are discussing today (with links) at The Tao of Health:

Binge drinking may lead to osteoporosis. High doses of vitamin D, or drugs like Boniva, may prevent some alcohol-related bone loss. Read the article for fuller discussion.

I thought this was interesting: there is a new website called sharpbrains.com. It is said to be like joining a physical fitness gym where you engage in a series of exercises, but it’s all online, and it’s for your brain fitness. Interesting concept.

This article attempts to explain why some people have a difficult time sticking to New Year’s Resolutions. The gist of the article, to my best understanding, is that we all have something like two minds. One mind is emotional, doesn’t deal well with uncomfortable challenges, and tends to give up. The other is something like the Executive mind which helps a person do a task anyway, even if it is uncomfortable for awhile. People with better Executive control are better at sticking to their resolutions, quitting smoking, etc. They talk a lot about the Stroop Test, which you can try for yourself here.

According to this article, “The rapidly climbing obesity rates in the United States have created a higher risk of esophageal cancer linked to reflux disease.” Apparently there has been a 350 percent increase of adenocarcinoma in the past thirty years, which seems to be closely related to an increase in gastroesophageal reflux and Barrett's esophagus, which, as they say, may be related to increased obesity in this country. It seems to me that it would be a good idea for us maintain a healthy weight and to not overeat if we want to avoid conditions like these.

Oligo fructose, a natural fiber found in some foods, may someday help prevent obesity. There seems to be more information here at Wikipedia. And of course you can always search Google for other articles. (There seems to be some disagreement about the spelling of this term. Google spells it all one word, Oligofructose.)

I walk an hour per day. It has helped me lose weight, and I think it is just good for me otherwise. This article seems to agree. It extols the virtues of walking over aerobics, or gym workouts. I’m all for a good bargain. Walking seems to me to be the best bargain around.




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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Health Notes

Here is what we are discussing today (with links) at The Tao of Health:

This article says that older people who eat whole grain foods may reduce their risk of developing metabolic syndrome, i.e. diabetes and heart disease. I think it is a matter not only of eating food that is good for you, like whole grains, but also of not eating food that is bad for you, such as some refined food. This is just another reason to eat whole grain.

Brown algae polyphenols may have reduced the number of skin tumors in mice by up to sixty percent, according to results of Ohio State University research published in International Journal of Cancer.

This article has some really good ideas about the importance of fiber, and how to get more of it in your diet. Just the fact that they are discussing all this is great. I would like to take a moment to extol the virtues of pistachio nuts. I eat at least a handful of them at night while watching TV, plus a bunch of roasted pumpkin seeds, among other healthy things, and I think they are very good for me in the fiber department.

There really is a connection between food, health, and politics. This article touches on them all. For example, during World War II, when meat and dairy products were scarce, rates of heart disease declined in the country? I’m not surprised.

Too much folate can be bad for some older people? I think the key is that when you take folate, you need to be sure you get enough vitamin B12. Otherwise you might have anemia and some cognitive impairment. Please read the article for a full understanding of what they’re getting at. Before I leave this, though, let me say a word or two about “intrinsic factor,” a concept that was mentioned in this article and which I had never heard of before. Intrinsic factor is a substance that helps people absorb vitamin B12 in the intestines. If it’s not present, then it won’t happen. There are other ways of getting B12 though. I’m a vegetarian, and I take a liquid supplement that has

To further complicate this discussion, however, this article says that taking folate supplements may improve cognitive function as well as lower homocysteine levels. If you’re thinking about taking any supplements, please talk to your doctor. Also, please do your own research and inform yourself. The more information you have, the better decisions you will be able to make.

Three quarters of the people (in Canada) who are taking statin drugs “don’t have evidence of occlusive vascular disease?” That’s interesting, although I suppose some people take them to lower their cholesterol, not necessarily to treat a heart condition. But statins can be dangerous, possibly leading to muscle breakdown, kidney damage, or peripheral neuropathy, and this study says these drugs do not reduce deaths in women, so the risks might outweigh the potential benefit in some cases. Furthermore, it seems to me that the article questions whether statins should be given to women at all. Read the article for a fuller discussion and understanding.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Health Notes

Here is what we are discussing today at The Tao of Health:


What does everyone think about the new food pyramid? In some ways I don’t like it at all. When I plug in my age, sex, etc, it comes back and tells me I should drink three cups of milk a day, and eat 6.5 ounces of meat and beans. I’m fine with the beans, but I’m a vegetarian, and there’s no way I’m going to eat the meat. And there’s no way I’m going to drink three cups of milk either. I would really gain weight if I did that. It does have some good things, though. For example it makes suggestions about how much and what kinds of vegetables to eat per week, so that’s good. The new food pyramid is ok, I guess, if it gets people to eat a healthier diet. But they should really do a version for vegetarians, or even vegans.

Has anyone ever heard of Modified Fruit Pectin (MCP)? I don’t think I had until today. According to this article pectin “is generally not absorbed by the bloodstream.” That’s why it has been “modified,” so it can be absorbed. Scientists are using MCP supplements in an attempt to treat prostate cancer. They say that “MCP may block an important substance that enables cancer to grow and spread.” Of course it would be great if it did that. Read this article. It is very interesting.

Can chronic inflammation promote cancer? According to this article, there is plenty of evidence that says yes, although the relationship between the two is not understood. In any event, I don’t think inflammation in the body is good, and I try to reduce it or eliminate it whenever I can.

This article has tips on how to have a healthy heart. For adults the suggestions include: Don’t smoke, exercise, maintain a healthy weight, maintain a healthy cholesterol level, maintain normal blood pressure, take omega-3 fatty acids, get regular check-ups, and take any medications as recommended by your doctor. For children: Limit watching TV to one hour per day, get outside for physical activity at least 30 minutes per day, eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, avoid fast food and fried food, don’t smoke, report any unusual physical feelings to an adult, and see your pediatrician regularly.

There may not be much difference in the effectiveness of different antidepressants, but the side effects, which could include constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, insomnia and vomiting, can be rather varied. This often causes patients to try more than one medication before finding one that works for them.

Could Chinese herbs be effective in treating AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, etc? This is an interesting article on using computers and data mining to compile a database of herbs and their chemical makeup.