27 October, 2007

No Nurse! I Said - Prick His - Oh Never Mind!

For readers of the Body Friendly Zen Cookbook, you'll already know that despite the stress the diet places on unprocessed foods, tomato paste is the best form of tomato because the boiling process releases the lycopene better than other forms of cooking. Now we know that the same is true of peanuts.

"Lloyd Walker, chair of Alabama A&M University's Department of Food and Animal Sciences who co-authored the study, said these phytochemicals have antioxidant qualities that protect cells against the risk of degenerative diseases, including cancers, diabetes and heart disease."

Apparently, boiling doesn't destroy these phytochemicals as much as roasting does. And raw peanuts don't release the chemicals as easily as cooked peanuts do.

Similarly, the tomato lycopene is released by the boiling process and becomes more available to the body than raw tomato or other forms of it.

And we shouldn't forget that teas started as a way to infuse the healing properties of herbs into water and make them more effective. There's another important lesson here - some delicate properties of teas and herbs are destroyed in anything hotter than boiling water.

17 October, 2007

Roundup Of Recent Interesting Bits


Biofuels may become more attractive if this membrane that filters out methane and CO2 becomes widespread in use.
As I say, the wheel of life keeps rolling along, yes we have species extinctions but there are a lot of new species being discovered too.
Cloned animal (meat) products may be in your diet already.
But eating cloned meat may be okay of you use potato starch compostable cutlery.
And it all doesn't matter, because the Matrix is closer than you think, and Microsoft is going to be spearheading the changes. Apparently. Get set to be rebooting your brain several times a day... %)

11 October, 2007

New Psoriasis Drug.

New Psoriasis Drug - this should be good. I have a mild form of psoriasis and it was the first time in my life anyone had told me I had "an incurable disease" which was both upsetting and also rocked my faith in the medical profession.

But this is a 3 month injection and it apparently shifts the plaque form of psoriasis - inform your doctor if you have a need, you might find it is good for you.

10 October, 2007

Plasma, LCD, Energy Stars, And How To Pick 'Em

If you're in the market for a new TV, bear in mind that all plasmas and some LCDs will not pass energy star compliances, apparently.

That little finding is no news to me, as plasma TVs have always struck me as a pretty inefficient way to light one's home. (I mean, as in the amount of energy they consume for each candela of output, so that if you put the picture on a white screen, you'd use a light meter a standard distance away versus a power meter measuring consumption. Not that you'd use it for lighting, but this is the fairest test I can think of.)

The other day I was taking someone through the plasma/LCD jungle that electronics showrooms have become, and I hit on the best way to explain how to select the TV that's best:

I urged them to select the picture quality they'd be prepared to accept, then walk among those TVs and test the temperature of the screen with the back of their hand. Coolest display wins.

And that's as simple as it gets. Whether plasma or LCD, the amount of heat given off by the screen is a measure of the energy that this particular TV wastes. Heat is wasted energy, and also it prematurely ages the electronics and the actual screen elements, be they plasma dots or LCD domains. NOTE this does NOT apply to rear projection TVs or TV projectors, although the heat test is a reasonable guide to projector efficiency.

So that's the simplest thing you can do right now when buying, to ensure that the TV you buy os the most energy efficient. And you don't even need a Government dude with a pocketful of energy star labels to show you how it's done...

05 October, 2007

Fats and Meat Don't Increase Prostate Cancer Risk

Beef-eaters rejoice, your gonads are not at risk from fats and meats alone! They are under threat though, if you over-consume and thereby make yourself obese - that will definitely up the risk, and add the risks of Type 2 diabetes and a lovely selection of cardiac and respiratory illnesses.

As I point out in The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook, meat has formed part of our diet for a really long time, and our bodies depend on it. An abundance of meat, not so. Meats and animal fats are our natural food and in order to have a sensible effective diet you need some meat, and it's about time scientists produced this result.

SOURCE: International Journal of Cancer, September 15, 2007.

Change To Prostate Cancer Biopsy Procedures

This is still the least acceptable outcome in my mind. As some of you may know, I began developing prostate cancer at age 48/49 and I checked into the treatments available to me. Not good news, the most common intervention, being a surgical procedure, results in impotence and incontinence for the vast majority of men, and chemical methods and radiotherapy having figures not all that different.

I developed The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook diet because this option has no side effects, unless you count a slow 1Kg/mth weight loss as a side effect. Being a bit of a scaredy-cat, I used nothing else but the diet for seven months, and at the end of that seven months, my PSA had reduced from 4.8 to 0.8, and my urologist said there was no need to take a second biopsy set of samples because a PSA that low meant there was no more cancer.

The first biopsy? That showed over 60% of cells with high grade PIN, which is cells turning cancerous. I'm confident, two years later, that this percentage will be hovering somewhere between zero and naff-all.

I developed the diet from some food hints my urologist gave me, and seven months intensive research on the Internet, ultimately testing each combination on myself. And "combination" is a carefully chosen word here, because one of the things I as a generalist found and which most specialists would miss, is that some foods harmonise together extremely well.

For example, tomato is good. Tomato sauce is better, and tomato paste is best, at supplying several antioxidant groups to fight the cancerous cells.

But tomato paste and grape seed oil together are up to TEN TIMES more effective than tomato paste alone, meaning you can use a lesser quantity to cook with and still get a huge benefit from the combination.

So if your prostate cancer is still in the low stages, try the diet. It's now worked for several people to lower PSA, has helped a woman get over cancer of the womb, and (because certain causes are similar) a Type 2 diabetes sufferer reduce her cholesterol and blood sugar.

Moronic Statements are Oxymoronic

If I read this right, then we'll actually be unaffected on the whole. But a bit warmer...

Look, I'm all for bringing attention to bear on the fate of the world, and I'm all for everyone getting on that bandwagon and making people more aware of what's going on. What really shits me is when otherwise trustworthy, respected, and august bodies start dribbling crap and confusing people.

I don't care WHERE you live, drought and flooding are mutually exclusive. Sorry.

Australia may experience flooding in some regions and drought in others, that I can accept. We're a big country, with room for wide variation. But none of that is made clear by that article, it's just badly written and doesn't convey what may happen.

Temperatures rising means more energy in the weather systems. And there's no use saying Australia will be affected as though only Australia will be affected, the entire world is a system that constantly tries to balance itself out, and adding more energy to the system means everywhere will experience wilder weather and more extremes.

It's just that the whole article sounds like an exercise in panic-mongering, which is not as good as an exercise in gradual and coherent education would be.

Folks, batten down the hatches, because there is definitely going to be an interesting ride weatherwise in the next few years. But please don't go running around the streets bellowing "Fire! Flood! Drought! Famine! Doom and gloom!" because that will not help.

03 October, 2007

Bottler Of A Footprint

One last thought, this time about bottled water. I mentioned the sensationalist thing about using the most water per household (in indirect ways) of any country in the world, yesterday. Today, quite coincidentally, on TV was something that really DOES deserve headlines - bottled water.

They mentioned another footprint, the "carbon footprint" and I'll add two more, the "rubbish footprint" and the "greenhouse footprint." I'll readily admit, I made those two up on the spot, but they should all be forming part of our ecological awareness.

Do you know how much water/energy/material goes into making the bottles, filtering the water, and filling those bottles? Distributing them by the truckload? Displaying them in outlets and keeping them cold for you? And then, do you recycle the bottle or throw it in with the general rubbish? Are you aware how much water/energy/pollution is needed to recycle the plastic? Or that some so-called recycling plants actually just throw them into the landfill anyway?

I'll set you a thought challenge - it's not a very responsible challenge, but it should point out something to you. Collect all your rubbish for a week - including the fine plastic garbage bags - and pile it up on a fireproof surface in or around your home. Now seriously consider setting fire to it. Would you like that amount of smoke and smell and toxic fumes in your place?

I'm betting you wouldn't - yet oxidising and breaking down that rubbish in a landfill or waste disposal plant will release exactly the same amount of pollution to the ecosystem. Not only that, but between five and twenty times that much toxicity has already been released by the manufacture of those goods - that the rubbish is now the sad remnant of.

Think about that the next time you buy plastic bottles of milk, tins of foods laced with preservatives, and your week's worth of loaves of bread from a factory outlet in plastic sleeves, and carry it all proudly home in six plastic shopping bags driving your six cylinder 3.8 litre touring class vehicle. THAT'S where you'll start to make a difference!

Got Booze and Brains, Now Just Gimme Good Looks.

Always good to have a "bad habit" legitimised by research. God bless the Kiwis sometimes...

Depending on your body type, ethnicity, and habits, between one and four drinks a day increases "cognition." It makes you smarter. In one way, I knew that. We all know that, in some deep atavistic fashion. See? We're smart about alcohol!

Okay. According to my research for The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook, it was already known that a glass of red wine a day confers a health benefit for most people, and especially for my target audience, prostate cancer sufferers. I also unearthed that other alcoholic drinks confer benefits, provided they are used in moderation. If you're European, in fact, you have a gene that confers some immunity from some effects of alcohol.

And there are certain forms of alcohol that are better than others for you, especially if they are made in the time-honoured ways without commercial chemicals. I'll just say this - I like cider, I like beer, I like red wine, I like mead. Now that I have a reason to imbibe one or two a day, life is distinctly looking up again...

02 October, 2007

Water Wail

We're bad at water conservation, if this study is anything to go by. I've had this article on the back burner for a while, until inspiration should hit me - and it finally has.

The thing here is, the hidden water costs are in things like making the fertiliser to produce the grapes or the feed for the beef, in processing those products, and then delivering them to us. But these things recycle. Eventually, all that water circulates back.

The trick for us is not to take it out faster than it can trickle back into the system. That, and the fact that a good percentage of that water that fell on the grapes or the feed for the stock, would have fallen anyway, and produced no benefit to us at all, had we not fortuitiously had a farm underneath it...

Once you realise that, the water footprint becomes a bit less of a scandal and a bit more of a "what can we do to reduce it?"

It's another example of blowing something up out of proportion. Yes a decent steak may have cost 100 litres of water to produce - but if you didn't create the demand for it by eating it, I estimate that 75 litres of that water would still have gone around the cycle anyway. So whoopee.

Those people who have a smaller water footprint are also invariably living in poverty and squalor. Don't forget that. They have no choice but to forego that steak. And if you counted how much water per person went through the aquifers and the hydrological cycle, I'm sure you'd find that this figure depends on the rainfall and water flows for the region, not the profligate lifestyles of the population.

I wonder how much of a headline that would make? "Australia has a lower population density than almost anywhere else in the world" sounds a lot less exciting that saying "AUSTRALIANS ARE THE WORST WATER WASTERS IN THE WOOOOOOOORLD!"

Sensationalising something doesn't make you an environmental crusader, just a tosser.

The Psychology of Food and Eating

Some good points on the psychology of food and eating here - chances are you have known this, subliminally, all along.

Just a few observations - if you present a big meal on a huge plate, it will look smaller and you'll tend to eat more to compensate. Better to sneak a smaller meal onto a small plate, your brain will make the "plate 90% full = huge meal" connection even when it *knows* the plate is smaller.

Eating while using a computer is a nasty habit anyway - and you do tend to munch more when distractedly reading your RSS feeds, so don't do it. Have snacks between meals, by all means. Just not while at the computer. And if you have snacks, try and skip a meal. Have a good breakfast, snack during the day, and skip lunch.

Are you the cook? Get a smaller set of saucepans, and when you read a recipe, mentally cut the fat in half and use body friendlier fats. Trust me, all these things work. Smaller serving sizes are great, but smaller serving vessels are even better. If there's less to go around, most people instinctively take a smaller serving on their plate. And if the plate is smaller too, they may end up eating a meal only two thirds of what they'd serve themselves if the serving vessel was huge.

Your brain is finely-honed and superbly tuned, just not for instances like this where old survival traits (like stuffing yourself at mealtimes) meet modern social requirements. (Like not becoming overweight, not taking the last serving, not appearing to be the "greedy" one.)

Unfortunately, when it has instances like this, your mind hands over to the old atavistic brain and that's why we need to fool it. So even if it sounds like utter crap to you, give it a go and be surprised.

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