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Lorton meteorite ownership is disputed

On January 18, 2010 a small stony meteorite weighing 308 grams punched a hole in the roof of a doctor's office in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Lorton, Virginia. There was some damage to the office, but nobody was hurt. The doctors, Marc Gallini and Franc Ciampi who were in the adjacent room, thought the noise was caused by a falling bookshelf.

The doctors donated the meteorite to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian officials planned to give them $5,000 dollars in compensation. The Smithsonian planned to display the meteorite, and the doctors wanted to use the money for the earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.

The owners of the building objected, and said that they were the rightful owners of the meteorite. The landlords informed the museum officials that they were going to take possession of the meteorite with the objective of selling it to pay for the damage to the building. The doctors got a lawyer to bar the museum from releasing the stone until ownership is determined. In the past, U.S. courts have ruled that a meteorite becomes part of the land where it arrives through natural causes, and therefore is the property of the landowner. The Smithsonian is keeping the meteorite until the dispute is settled.

Recent Meteorite Impacts on the Earth

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Yoga inversions may cause inner ear problems

The Upward Bow pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana) and other yoga poses that require the head to be inverted may disturb the inner ear and cause vertigo and dizziness. The inner ear has a vestibular system formed by three canals that are approximately at right angles to each other and which are responsible for the sense of balance and spatial orientation. The inner ear has chambers filled with a viscous fluid and small particles (otoliths) containing calcium carbonate. The movement of these particles over small hair cells in the inner ear sends signals to the brain that are interpreted as motion and acceleration. Inversion of the head can cause some of the otoliths to shift position or slip into one of the semicircular canals and induce vertigo and instability, often accompanied by nausea.

The disorientation resulting from changes in position of the head is often diagnosed as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), and is treated by trying to reposition displaced otoliths back to their original position by turning the head in specific ways. The Epley Maneuver, developed by Dr. John Epley in 1980, is often performed by a doctor or a physical therapist and requires holding the head at specific angles, and then turning the head 90 degrees to the other side for specific periods of time to allow the otoliths to settle.

Vertigo is very debilitating because it makes it impossible to perform ordinary activities. The irony of developing vertigo through yoga is that yoga is supposed to help the body and the mind. Many people practice the yoga positions that require inversions without any problems, but unfortunately, it is not possible to predict who will be affected adversely by inverted yoga poses.

The purpose of yoga, and all other exercises, is to improve the body. You have to use discretion in establishing the limits of stress to which you will subject your body in any physical activity. Going beyond your comfort zone may improve your confidence, but it also has the potential of causing temporary or permanent damage.

Learn how to have a safe workout

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Maltodextrin, Soluble Corn Fiber and Resistant Starch


Glucose is a simple sugar that is a constituent of many different types of complex carbohydrates in its ring structural form. Polymers of glucose, like cellulose, are completely insoluble and indigestible. Other polymers, such as starch, are broken down by the enzyme amylase in saliva, and the glucose can then be burned for energy by the body. There are other polymers of glucose, classified as soluble fiber, that are indigestible, but can be broken down by intestinal bacteria to produce short-chain fatty acids.[1]

Insoluble fiber just provides bulk, whereas soluble fiber serves important nutritional functions, such as lowering cholesterol by binding to bile secretions and facilitating their excretion in the feces. Soluble fiber also promotes growth of intestinal probiotic bacteria that produce some vitamins and help to maintain regularity. Insoluble fiber has no calories, and soluble fiber has about half of the calories of simple carbohydrates because it is not completely digested by colonic bacteria.[2]

Many food fillers are derivatives of starch. Maltodextrin is a partially hydrolyzed starch frequently used as a bulking agent in sugar substitutes, but it is metabolized like a sugar. Manufacturers have started using resistant starch and soluble fiber derived from corn as filling agents in an attempt to produce lower calorie products. Resistant starch is starch that is not digested in the small intestine and is considered a different type of dietary fiber, as it can deliver some of the bulking benefits of insoluble fiber and some of the benefits of soluble fiber.

Learn more about carbohydrates

[1] Brighenti, Furio et al. "Colonic fermentation of indigestible carbohydrates contributes to the second-meal effect." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 83.4 (2006): 817-822.
[2] Englyst, Klaus and Englyst, Hans. "Carbohydrate Bioavailability." British Journal of Nutrition 94 (2005): 1-11.

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Cherry Juice Sampler Package

CherryPharm Juice Sampler Package

Tart cherries are known to be a good source of antioxidants and phytonutrients with a multitude of health benefits. I recently got a sampler package with three varieties of CherryPharm cherry juices: Natural Light, Natural Health, and Natural Recovery. Unlike many products in the market, the ingredients of the CherryPharm juices are really natural. All three varieties of these cherry juices retain the tartness of freshly picked cherries. The taste reminded me of the sour cherries that I collected when I went to a local farm to gather blueberries.

The ingredients of Natural Light cherry juice are: tart cherry juice, water, and natural stevia extract used as a sweetener. An 8 fl. oz. serving has 90 calories, and the product is labeled as 65% juice which is the juice of 40 cherries.

The Natural Recovery cherry juice has 160 calories per 8 fl. oz. serving and the juice of 50 cherries. The ingredients are: Tart cherries, whey protein (8 grams), water, apple juice concentrate, and vitamins like niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamin, folic acid, biotin, vitamin b12, and maltodextrin.

The Natural Health cherry juice has 130 calories per 8 fl. oz. serving and the juice of 50 cherries. The ingredients are: whole tart cherries, water, and apple juice concentrate. This is the label of the Natural Health cherry juice.

An 8 fl. oz. portion of cherry juice is the equivalent of two servings of fruit. CherryPharm products can be obtained from www.CherryPharm.com, and at some Wegmans and Whole Foods stores.

Comments »

Scott said,
2010-04-17 @ 06:17:25

This looks good. Thanks. I've ordered a sample package too.

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Striped ravioli and multicolored pasta

Striped ravioli and multi-colored pasta

Striped pasta has the same taste as regular pasta, but it is more pleasing to the eye. Multicolored pasta is more celebratory than regular pasta. To show off the colors, it is necessary to serve this pasta with a white sauce, such as Alfredo sauce.

I compared two methods of making striped pasta. In one method, strips of pasta of different colors are arranged side-by-side and then pressed to fuse them into a pasta sheet. In the second method, colored strips of pasta are arranged on top of a sheet of white pasta, and then pressed together. The adjacent strip method produces sheets of pasta where the colors go all the way through the sheet, whereas the overlay method produces pasta with a white side and a striped side.

The picture above shows ravioli made by the overlay strip method. The overlay method is better because the underlying white pasta sheet has a uniform consistency. Variations in the humidity of the colored doughs make it difficult to have sheets with uniform texture using the adjacent strip method. Typically, one color will have more water than the other causing the sheet to stretch unevenly when the sheets are being filled, and this can cause the sheets to tear.

Learn how to make striped ravioli

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Ginkgo Biloba does not improve brain function

Ginkgo biloba

The leaf of the maidenhair tree, Ginkgo biloba, has been used as herbal medicine in China since the fifteenth century. The leaves were traditionally used for benefiting the brain and for treatment of lung disorders. In modern times, Ginkgo biloba is a popular supplement that is widely used for its potential effects on memory and cognition. A standardized extract is widely prescribed for the treatment of a range of conditions including memory and concentration problems, confusion, depression, anxiety, dizziness, tinnitus and headache.

The mechanism of action of Ginkgo is supposed to be due to components that increase blood supply by dilating blood vessels, reducing blood viscosity, and reducing free radicals, but recent studies show that the purported benefits of ginkgo for the brain are exaggerated and cannot be demonstrated scientifically. One study concludes that Ginkgo biloba appears to be safe in use with no excess side effects compared with placebo, but the evidence that Ginkgo has predictable and clinically significant benefit for people with dementia or cognitive impairment is inconsistent and unconvincing.[1] A second study shows that Ginkgo biloba taken at a dose of 120 mg twice a day was not effective in reducing either the overall incidence rate of dementia or Alzheimer disease incidence in elderly individuals with normal cognition or those with mild cognitive impairment.[2]

The good news is that Ginkgo is not harmful. The bad news is that many people have been wasting their money on an ineffective supplement.

The leaves of Ginkgo biloba trees turn bright yellow in the autumn. The trees are popular ornamental trees which are survivors from the days of the dinosaurs.

Here are some puzzles to exercise your mind

[1] Birks J, Grimley Evans J., Ginkgo biloba for cognitive impairment and dementia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Apr 18;(2):CD003120.

[2] DeKosky ST, Williamson JD, Fitzpatrick AL, et al., Ginkgo biloba for prevention of dementia: a randomized controlled trial, JAMA. 2008 Nov 19;300(19):2253-62.

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Body Fat Calculator

Diet Calculator
Diet Calculator

Did you eat too much for the holidays? If you are thinking about going on a diet, you need the right tools to measure your progress. Some people give up when they have a small setback, but to be successful you have to keep your objective in mind.

The Diet Calculator tells you how much weight you need to lose to be within the normal range. In addition, the calculator will estimate the percentage of body fat and the Body Mass Index (BMI). By weighing yourself regularly and using the calculator, you can track your progress toward your goal.

The best strategy for losing weight is to reduce the amount of food that you eat and increase your activity level by exercising regularly. In particular, cut out sweet drinks and desserts because they don't provide nutrition, but they are high in calories. Eat only two-thirds of your normal portions to keep your normal eating schedule and reduce your daily calories by one third. Within a week you will see your weight start to drop.

Learn what to eat to lose weight

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How to Age Gracefully

Antonio Zamora - Age 67

A large percentage of people who are retired or close to retirement take medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, digestive problems, and other chronic conditions that have developed over their lifetime. If you listen to the drug commercials during the national evening news, this is normal, but it should not be. Many of the diseases that we associate with old age are the result of bad diet, exposure to harmful chemicals, and lack of exercise.

Optimum Nutrition
Your diet should include enough protein and essential fatty acids to maintain a normal weight. The large number of overweight people all around us distorts our notion of what is a normal weight. Use this Body Mass Index (BMI) Calculator to determine whether your weight is in the normal range.

BMI Calculator

Learn about Optimum Nutrition

You should engage in 30 minutes of vigorous exercise at least three to four times per week. Exercise improves your coordination and your muscle strength. Exercise also keeps you lungs and circulatory system in good working condition. But be careful. Avoid getting injured from strenuous or high-impact exercises.

Keep Active Socially and Mentally
As you age, you will need to maintain a good social network. Many people who live to a ripe old age become depressed when they feel isolated as their friends and relatives start dying. You can keep engaged by volunteering to teach young people, or by participating in social organizations that make you feel useful.

Try to stay healthy
The two most common causes of death are heart disease and cancer. If you can avoid these two dangers, you have a good chance of living a long life. Many cardiovascular diseases can be avoided by maintaining a normal weight and exercising regularly. The risk of cancer can be reduced by avoiding substances that damage your cellular DNA and cause tumors, such as the chemicals in tobacco.

Learn how to reduce cancer risks through diet and lifestyle changes

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Protein Restriction or High Protein for Longevity?

Studies have consistently shown that dietary restriction (also called calorie restriction) reduces oxidative damage to mitochondrial DNA and increases maximum longevity. Only protein restriction is responsible for the decrease in oxidative damage; the restriction of carbohydrates or lipids does not reduce oxidative stress or increase maximum longevity. Some studies have looked at the amino acid components of protein and have found that reduced intake of the amino acid methionine plays a major role in the decrease in mitochondrial damage and increase in longevity.

Some researchers conclude that the intake of proteins (and thus methionine) of Western human populations is much higher than needed, and that decreasing the levels could reduce tissue oxidative stress and increase healthy life span in humans.[4] While this recommendation seems to make sense theoretically, it also is in direct conflict with the statistical findings of nutritional surveys.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein, established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the United States National Academy of Science, is 0.8 g protein/kg body weight/day for adults, regardless of age. The 1994-96 Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals[1] found that protein intake was significantly below recommended levels. The following table has the percentages of white males and females below 75% of the RDA and below 100% of the RDA. The percentages of deficient black Americans were even higher.
Protein Below 75% Below 100%
60 and over10.429.6
60 and over15.835.9

The statistics show that the deficiencies increased with age. A large proportion of senior citizens are seriously deficient in meeting their minimum essential protein requirements and suffer health problems and complications like:

Inadequate protein intake results in loss of body cell mass, decreased muscle function, and lower immune response. On the other hand, supplementing the diets of patients with hip fractures with 20 grams of protein decreased time in a rehabilitation hospital and reduced the rate of loss of bone mineral density. Higher protein intakes were associated with decreased risk for hip fracture in postmenopausal women. A study of 2066 men and women aged 70–79 years found that participants in the highest quintile of protein intake lost approximately 40% less lean mass than did those in the lowest quintile of protein intake. The study concluded that dietary protein may be a modifiable risk factor for sarcopenia in older adults.[3]

Concerns about potential detrimental effects of increased protein intake on bone health, renal function, neurological function and cardiovascular function are generally unfounded. In fact, many of these factors are improved in elderly ingesting elevated quantities of protein. An intake of 1.5 g protein/kg/day, or about 15-20% of total caloric intake, is a reasonable target for elderly individuals wishing to optimize protein intake in terms of health and function.[2]

There are some practitioners of Calorie Restriction with Optimum Nutrition (CRON) who are experimenting with various approaches for reducing protein. Besides lowering the proportion of protein in their diet, they may also select vegetable sources of protein which are generally lower in methionine than animal proteins. The consequences of misjudging the minimum protein requirements with advancing age can result in shorter life rather than longevity. Thus far, the evidence for greater health in old age seems to be on the side of higher protein levels, and let us not forget that methionine is considered an "essential" amino acid.

Learn more about Amino Acids and Proteins

[1] 1994-96 Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals

[2] Wolfe RR, Miller SL, Miller KB, Optimal protein intake in the elderly,
Clin Nutr. 2008 Oct;27(5):675-84. Epub 2008 Sep 25, PMID: 18819733

[3] Houston DK, Nicklas BJ, Ding J, Harris TB, Tylavsky FA, Newman AB, et al, Dietary protein intake is associated with lean mass change in older, community-dwelling adults: the Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 87, No. 1, 150-155, January 2008

[4] López-Torres M, Barja G, Lowered methionine ingestion as responsible for the decrease in rodent mitochondrial oxidative stress in protein and dietary restriction possible implications for humans, Biochim Biophys Acta. 2008 Nov;1780(11):1337-47. Epub 2008 Jan 18., PMID: 18252204

Comments »

BBGG said,
2009-12-21 @ 17:02:36

The most important benefit of calorie restriction may be the induction of autophagy. If we consume excess essential amino acids we will not trigger autophagy and perhaps will not achieve lifespan extension?

Perhaps we should combine CRON with a form of protein cycling: not eating protein some days, and compensating in the following days, so autophagy is triggered but we provide our cells with the necessary protein in the short term?

Eric said,
2011-03-20 @ 22:50:20

Take a new look at autophagy and protein. For humans over 60 the evidence for increased health and lifespan seem evident from yeast, fly, and animal studies.

Wolfe RR has a slim (at best) body of work that speaks for itself. Very small studies on 10 or 12 people who are young for very short time periods with known results that protein increases water retention in muscle is JUNK science in my opinion.





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Homeopathic medicine is profitable quackery

Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine that treats patients with drug or herbal preparations that are so diluted that the final solution may not contain detectable amounts of the drugs or herbs. In fact, homeopathic remedies may be so diluted that they are just water. Clearly, any benefit obtained from such medicines would likely be due to the placebo effect, which is the belief by the patient that he or she will get better. This belief sometimes has a therapeutic effect. Homeopathic remedies may be just water, but they can cause harm by preventing a sick person from seeking competent medical advice and being cured by verified conventional treatments.

Homeopathic remedies are a big business. The market for homeopathic medicines is estimated to be 300 million euros in France, 200 million euros in Germany, over 26 billion Rupees in India, and $200 million Dollars in the United States.

Homeopathic products do not need to be tested for safety or effectiveness, but they must be labeled with a list of ingredients and the conditions for which they are used. A 1938 law allows drugs listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States to be sold without the validation that governs standard medications. In essence, homeopathic products are manufactured and distributed without FDA approval.

Some homeopathic products may actually contain harmful substances. In June 16, 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers to stop using and discard three zinc-containing Zicam intranasal products because the products may cause a permanent loss of sense of smell.[1] The manufacturer of Zicam, Matrixx Initiatives, agreed to pay $12 million dollars in 2006 to settle 340 law suits by consumers who claimed that Zicam had ruined or destroyed their sense of smell. FDA Inspectors are also investigating other homeopathic products that have caused allergic reactions from impurities introduced during manufacturing.

Just because a product is popular or heavily marketed, it does not mean that it is safe and effective. Claims for herbal medicines are a big gray area. There are many herbal medicines whose ingredients have been proven effective. The antibacterial properties of garlic and the pain relief from chewing leaves of willow, which contain aspirin, have been known for thousands of years. However, the claims made for many herbal medicines are not likely to be confirmed through research by pharmaceutical companies because there are no profits to be made from natural products that cannot be patented. A successful economic model for new drugs requires identifying the active compounds in a natural product and then creating synthetic analogues that can be patented.

[1] FDA Warnings on Three Zicam Intranasal Zinc Products [link]

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