Resveratrol and Calorie RestrictionA recent program on CBS 60 Minutes described experiments on resveratrol which activates the SIRT-1 Longevity/DNA Repair gene. Resveratrol occurs naturally in red wine and has been associated with the relatively good health enjoyed by Frenchmen in spite of their diet of fatty foods like quiche, brie cheese and Foie gras (goose liver pâté).
The TV program mentioned that being hungry has long been known to activate the SIRT-1 gene, and included interviews with members of the Calorie Restriction Society (CRS) whose goal is to extend life by reducing the amount of food consumed. After the program, some members of the Society commented that the broadcast had not focused on the important scientific facts about Calorie Restriction, and instead had called the green-bean paste served for the CRS interview "baby food" and the comment by Morley Safer about "dying of boredom" from this diet was inappropriate.
In all fairness, the report was about resveratrol and the advances in biochemistry that may make it possible to extend life without having to suffer hunger. Dr. Sinclair, one of the developers, estimates that a commercial product may be available in about five years. Will this be the magic pill that solves all the problems of old age? I doubt it.
Have you ever looked at the stomach of a gorilla? Their abdomen is almost twice the circumference of their chest. They are definitely pot-bellied. One of the evolutionary differences between humans and other great apes was the reduction of the length of the intestinal tract. This was achieved through bipedalism and tool use. By hunting and fishing, humans could get nutrient-dense meats and fish instead of being limited to fibrous, hard-to-digest vegetables.
The introduction of fire for cooking 300,000 years ago also influenced the reduction of the length of the human digestive tract. Cooked foods are softer and more digestible than raw foods, and cooking improves longevity by killing pathogenic bacteria and parasites that can cause diseases. The Neanderthals that preceded us had a bulky mid-section that was advantageous because it kept them warmer during the cold weather of the ice ages. The use of fire by hominids for heating and for cooking was well established by the time that modern humans appeared 160,000 years ago.
If we were limited to eating raw fruits and green vegetables, we would need to eat a lot. To get about 2000 calories, it would be necessary to eat 3 apples, 2 oranges, one whole head of lettuce, 4 medium carrots, 5 figs, 4 large tomatoes, 4 bananas, and 1 cup of walnuts. The walnuts contain about one third of the total calories, but all this food only has 39 grams of protein which is about two thirds of what an average human needs. Modern vegetarian diets reduce the amount of food needed by using beans and grains that must be cooked, but are more nutrient-dense than fruits and vegetables that have a lot of water. The inclusion of eggs, milk, meats, and fish further reduce the quantity of food needed in the diet. Some vitamins, such as Vitamin B12, are found primarily in meat, eggs and dairy products. The proper balance of animal products, vegetables, and fruits provides the complete nutrition required for modern humans.
Oprah Winfrey's diet failure
Oprah Winfrey in 1988 and 2008
Oprah Winfrey has a history of yo-yo dieting that has been parodied on Saturday Night Live. In 1988 she lost 67 pounds on a liquid protein diet and appeared on her talk show dressed in size 10 Calvin Klein blue jeans wheeling a wagon loaded with fat representing the weight that she had lost. Recalling the occasion in 2005, she said:
"I had literally starved myself for four months - not a morsel of food. Two hours after that show, I started eating to celebrate. Of course, within two days those jeans no longer fit!"
The talk show hostess now weighs 200 pounds, up from 160 in 2006, according to an article in the January 2009 issue of O magazine. Oprah writes:
"I'm mad at myself. I'm embarrassed. I can't believe that after all these years, all the things I know how to do, I'm still talking about my weight. I look at my thinner self and think, 'How did I let this happen again?' "
Oprah has blamed her weight problems on an out-of-balance thyroid and her fear of working out because of her condition. In 1990, she regained the 67 pounds that she had lost saying:
"I've been dieting since 1977. The reason I failed is that diets don't work. I tell people, if you're underweight, go on a diet and you'll gain everything you lost plus more. Now I'm trying to find a way to live in a world with food without being controlled by it, without being a compulsive eater. That's why I say I will never diet again."
In 1994, she had slimmed down by exercising with the help of a personal trainer and a full-time, in-house chef. She even finished the Marine Corps Marathon. Oprah kept up the fitness regime through 1996, when she posed on the cover of People magazine, in which she described the diet and workout routine that finally worked for her. In 2007, Oprah told viewers that a thyroid disorder had caused her to gain 20 pounds. Oprah feels embarrassed by her current weight of 200 pounds.
The lesson that we can take from Winfrey's experience is that proper nutrition and exercise have to be a way of life. You cannot just say "I am going to lose weight" and stop eating or go on a fad diet. You have to figure out how to meet your nutritional needs for your target weight by eating real foods. You also have to be realistic about your goals. You should not wish to be too thin or too muscular. You have to aim for a normal weight and be happy with that. You also have to limit your consumption, even if you can afford abundance. And you have to be consistent. You have to set your goals and remain steadfast. This requires psychological strength.
Don't be afraid of Sugar
A teaspoon of sugar has 15 Calories
Many people try to lose weight by cutting down on the amount of sweets that they eat. This is a good idea, but it will not be effective unless the total calories in the diet are reduced.
A study compared two diets containing 1100 Calories. The diets had the same percentages of fat (11%), protein (19%) and carbohydrate (71%). The only difference was where the carbohydrates came from. In one group, 43% of the calories came from white sugar (about 118 grams or 30 teaspoons). In the other diet, only 4% came from white sugar (about 11 grams or 3 teaspoons), and the rest was derived from starches and complex carbohydrates. Both groups experienced the same decreases in weight, blood pressure, percentage body fat, and the same changes in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. The fasting blood sugar was reduced to the same extent in both groups. Each group lost about 7 kilograms (almost 15 pounds) over the 6 weeks of the study. The authors concluded that:
"the use of sucrose in a weight-loss regimen is unlikely to cause problems for the average patient, as long as total energy intake is restricted."
Although white sugar will not make you fat, it is a highly refined carbohydrate that does not have any other nutrients. If you want something sweet, it is better to eat oranges, pears, grapes, dates, raisins, and other fruits which have fiber and natural vitamins and minerals. If you want to lose weight, you have to reduce the total calories in your diet, but you don't have to be afraid of sugar in small quantities.
 Surwit RS, et al., Metabolic and behavioral effects of a high-sucrose diet during weight loss, Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Apr; 65(4):908-15. PMID: 9094871
Harry Chittenden said,
2009-01-09 @ 19:37:22
All this really shows is that people lose weight when they cut calories. Maybe the spoonfuls-of-sugar diet is "unlikely to cause a problem" in six weeks, but eating that much sugar all the time certainly will. I stick to the mantra that you've written yourself, Tony. First, eat to fulfill all your nutritional needs. Then cut calories. And when comes calorie-cutting time, what better to cut than sugar and refined flour?
Not only will you lose weight, but you will thrive.
Of course you know all that.
Presidential Inauguration in Washington
There is great excitement in Washington as the United States prepares for the inauguration of Barack Obama. Those of us who supported equality of civil rights for all citizens feel that the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. is closer. In his famous speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial, MLK said:
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
Ever since the days of emancipation, black people and other minorities have struggled for acceptance into American society. Lyndon Johnson signed more education bills into law than any other president, thereby creating a melting pot which forced young people of all races to look at each other closely and find out that they were not that different after all.
Separatists movements like "Black Power" and "Ebonics" failed to get mainstream acceptance, and rather than ending up with a black and white America, we are uniting into a single America. Interracial personal relationships no longer have the stigma that was so prevalent in the 1960s. Barak Obama embodies many of the characteristics and goals of today's America.
When you come to Washington to celebrate, you will have the opportunity to visit many famous landmarks such as The U.S. Capitol, The Library of Congress, and the National Museum of Natural History.
Reduce Your Credit Card Debt
One of the best New Year resolutions that you can make is to reduce your credit card debt. It is not unusual to have to pay 21% interest when you carry a balance on a credit card. In addition, you can be penalized with late fees and lower credit scores if you do not pay by the date your payment is due.
Although credit is convenient when you do not have the money, it places a great burden on your future finances. Suppose that you bought some new furniture for $1000.00 on a credit card. The lender usually will ask you to pay only 5% of the total amount per month, which is around $51.39 Dollars per month. It will take 24 months to pay off the loan at 21% annual interest. At the end of the two years, you will have paid $1,233.26 Dollars, including $233.26 in interest.
You can reduce the interest that you pay and accelerate your payment schedule by increasing your monthly payment. For example, if instead of paying $51.39, you pay $70 Dollars per month ($18.61 Dollars extra), you will pay off the loan in 17 months instead of 24, and you will save $72.34 Dollars in interest.
Diet Coke Plus is not a healthy drink
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned the Coca-Cola company to revise the label of the Diet Coke Plus beverage with Vitamins and Minerals that was introduced in March 2007. The FDA says that the product is misbranded because it bears the nutrient content claim "plus" but does not comply with the regulations governing the use of this claim.
The term "plus" may be used on the label to describe the level of nutrients when the food contains at least 10 percent more of the Reference Daily Intake or Daily Reference Value for the nutrient than an appropriate comparable food. The FDA does not consider it appropriate to fortify snack foods such as carbonated beverages.
The Coca-Cola company will respond to the FDA early in January, but it has no plans to change the label. Scott Williamson, a spokesman for the Coca-Cola company, said:
"We believe the label on Diet Coke Plus complies with FDA's policies and regulations."
Adding vitamins and minerals to soft drinks seems designed to make consumers feel less guilty about consuming junk food, but even though diet soft drinks may not contain sugars that cause dental decay, they may still contain acids that erode tooth enamel.
 The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Warning Letter to the Coca-Cola Company
Surviving the Flood in Bethesda
A 66-inch water main broke in Bethesda today due to several days of sub-freezing weather. The flow of the water was so powerful and so sudden, that it trapped several cars on River Road and the drivers had to be rescued by helicopter. The water company took several hours to determine which valves to turn off to control the flood, but we will be living with the consequences of this rupture for many days. The strong water flow undermined a portion of the road and it will take several days to repair it. There will be terrible traffic jams because River Road is a major commuting artery from Potomac, MD to Washington, D.C.
The water main break happened early in the morning, and many people woke up to find that they could not brush their teeth or take a shower. Shoppers rushed to the grocery stores to stock up on drinking water. Partial water service was restored by noon to some neighborhoods, but the pressure was too low to get to the top of high-rise buildings. On the 19th floor of my building there is no water. The breakfast dishes are piled in the sink. County regulations require office buildings to close when there is no water due to concerns about sanitation. The Bethesda Post Office was closed and the bank across the street was closed. You cannot mail Christmas gifts, and you cannot do banking transactions unless you travel several miles to Rockville, Md. which is unaffected by the water main break.
Incidents like this make you think about strategies for surviving natural disasters. In this modern age, we depend on an infrastructure of utilities that bring water, electricity, and communications to our home. Water is the most important for survival, but electricity is a basic necessity that powers elevators, heating fans, telephones, and computers. It would probably be impractical or impossible to live in a high-rise building without electricity.
Remote Control Chaos
The first TV remote control that I owned was connected by a wire to the television. You could not take it more than twenty feet away from the TV because that was the length of the wire, but it never got lost. Cordless infrared remote controls became popular in the late 1950s, and soon they were being used not only for televisions, but for audio systems and cable television boxes.
Unfortunately, every manufacturer set up their own coding system and a remote control could not be used for two different appliances. Remote controls proliferated because one was needed for the TV, another one for the cable box, and a third one for the DVD player. There are several "universal remote" controls which promise to manage all your devices, but the programming is so hard that the average person prefers to use multiple controls.
This week, I have had calls from two little old ladies. One of them accidentally pressed some button on one of her two remote controls and lost the picture on her TV completely. She tried and tried but could not get the picture back. The other lady subscribed to a cable channel to watch some programs in her native language. She ended up with one cable system for her American programs and another cable system for her foreign programs. Each cable system has its own remote control, but to switch between them or to turn the TV on or off it is necessary to use a third remote control. This is too complicated for her and now she cannot watch her programs because she cannot get past the barrier of complexity.
Technology was so simple half a century ago. Remote controls had wires and telephones were connected to the walls. Today, you have to keep your mind sharp to be able to change the channels on the TV.
Vegan Diets and Recipes
Zenpawn Vegan Blog
I just received the first issue of a one-year subscription to E - The Environmental Magazine. I won this subscription from a raffle among people who contributed vegan recipes to Erin Dame for his vegan cookbooks. Erin has published a book of recipes called Vegan Done Light and he manages the vegan blog www.zenpawn.com/vegblog/
Erin's blog discusses veganism, raw food, calorie restriction, and interesting topics about diet.
Traditional Mexican staples include beans, rice, corn, tomatoes, and hot peppers. The vegan recipes that I submitted were some classic Mexican dishes like guacamole, salsa, and an unusual bean soup with beer. You can find these vegan recipes and many other international dishes here:
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