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Archive for August 4th, 2019

Stop Freaking Out About How Much Protein You’re Getting

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Maddie Oatman writes in Mother Jones:

Stroll through the aisles of your supermarket and you’ll see advertisements left and right for snacks packed with the new magical nutrient: protein. Wheyhey ice cream—”20 grams of protein per pot”—promises to help you with “losing weight” and “skin anti aging,” while P28 high protein sliced bread wants to be “part of your journey to a healthy lifestyle.” Lenny & Larry’s protein-packed cookies supposedlyhelp “chase away hunger.” Artisanal bison jerky bars line the Whole Foods’ checkout aisle, and everyone at work is on a paleo diet.

Do we really need this much protein? To maintain normal health, the average sedentary adult woman needs a daily dose of 60 grams and a man needs around 70. Yet data shows that Americans may consume around 120 grams daily. That means we’re consuming twice as much as what’s needed, likely without even trying. “If you have enough calories in your diet, not getting enough protein would be very, very hard,” journalist and author Marta Zaraska told me in an interview for our latest episode of Bite“Zebra Meat and Vegan Butchers.”

In her new book Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession With Meat, Zaraska digs deep into the reasons behind this protein hunger. According to Zaraska’s research, the craze goes much further back than the rise of the paleo diet and other protein-focused diets. In fact, one of the myths fueling this protein fixation has roots in a shaky finding from the 1800s. That’s when German scientist Carl von Voit determined how much protein soldiers and hard laborers consumed each day, and then extrapolated that the average body required 150 grams a day. “The problem with his methodology is obvious,” writes Zaraska: “It’s a bit like observing children stuffing themselves with cookies and concluding that young humans require tons of sugar to grow.” By 1944, the US Department of Agriculture had halved that recommendation, but the idea that we need lots of protein to be healthy lived on.

Most of the protein we consume comes from animals: Americans eat roughly 270 pounds of meat a year. For years, many people thought that without animal flesh, our bodies don’t get all of the essential amino acids they need. (Meat is considered a “complete” protein because it contains all of the acids.) Zaraska traces some of this misunderstanding back to, ironically, Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet. In her seminal 1971 manual for embracing a low-impact life, Lappé suggested that vegetarians should chart the amino acids in their plant foods and eat the foods together at the right times to make sure they could “complete” their plant-based proteins through the right combinations of amino acids from different sources, a task that required laborious planning and analysis.

True, plant foods can lack enough essential amino acids; beans, for instance, are low in methionine. (Grains are high in methionine, hence the advice to enjoy rice and beans together.) But since the 1970s, we’ve learned that the body actually completes proteins—fills in the missing elements—on its own. “Now we know that the liver can store amino acids so we don’t have to combine [the acids] in one meal,” states the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In the 20th-anniversary edition of her book, Lappé acknowledged that when it came to amino acids, she had “reinforced another myth.” Not only does the body complete proteins; there are several plant foods that have all of the essential amino acids that a person needs, writes Zaraska, such as buckwheat, quinoa, soy, and potatoes.

The consensus among many doctors and dietitians these days seems to be that if you are eating a diverse array of foods, you don’t need to stress about protein. The Institute of Medicine’s recommended daily allowance of protein is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight (adjusted slightly if you’re active, ill, or pregnant). I’d need about 42 grams to meet my requirement; when I added up everything I ate earlier this week, I was startled to discover that I had eaten 66 grams without thinking twice—and I don’t eat meat. . .

Continue reading.

The micronutrient-requirements calculator she links to is pretty nifty.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 August 2019 at 4:24 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

Irritating Compounds Can Show Up In ‘Vape Juice’

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It doesn’t seem in the least surprising that vaping is not good for the lungs. Susie Neilson reports at NPR:

Scientists don’t know much yet about the long-term effects of “vape juice,” the liquid used in e-cigarettes and vaporizers. But researchers analyzing the liquid and the vapor produced when it’s heated say some kinds of e-liquids are reacting to form irritating chemicals called acetals while they’re sitting on shelves.

More than 3 million young people in middle school and high school, in addition to many adults, use e-cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of them could be inhaling these compounds regularly. And that could be irritating or even damaging to their lungs, Yale and Duke university researchers suggest.

The study published Tuesday looked specifically at eight flavors of Juul e-liquids, which contain a different mixture of solvents than many other brands of e-liquid. These new findings build on similar work the research group published in October 2018 on other brands of e-liquids.

Acetals are formed from alcohol and aldehydes, chemicals used to flavor and perfume foods and other commercial products. While some aldehydes are considered harmful, many are generally recognized as safe to eat and touch, says Hanno Erythropel, the study’s lead author and an associate research scientist at Yale’s chemical and environmental engineering department.

Still, little is known about the effects of aldehydes and acetals when inhaled this way, Erythropel adds, although some research has shown that the acetals can irritate airways more strongly than the aldehydes from which they were formed. And that irritation can prompt an inflammatory response in the respiratory system.

Unlike small amounts of acetals you get through food, Erythropel says, with vaping, “you are breathing this in. We didn’t imagine people would be inhaling flavor compounds at the level they are now. We have very little information.”

At this point, the FDA does not require e-liquid manufacturers to list all the ingredients in their products. So the Yale chemists had to “reverse-engineer” the e-liquids by separating and quantifying their chemical ingredients.

Via this process, the researchers detected the presence of acetals in one of the eight Juul flavors they tested: crème brûlée. This flavor, which uses vanillin for a vanilla-like smell, contains relatively high levels of vanillin acetals, the scientists say. Other flavors might also contain acetals and aldehydes, they say, but they didn’t test in this study for all the possible aldehydes.

Julie Zimmerman, the study’s principal investigator and a professor in the chemical and environmental engineering department at Yale, stresses that  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 August 2019 at 8:41 am

What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? The number of guns per capita.

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Max Fisher and Josh Keller report in the NY Times:

When the world looks at the United States, it sees a land of exceptions: a time-tested if noisy democracy, a crusader in foreign policy, an exporter of beloved music and film.

But there is one quirk that consistently puzzles America’s fans and critics alike. Why, they ask, does it experience so many mass shootings?

Perhaps, some speculate, it is because American society is unusually violent. Or its racial divisions have frayed the bonds of society. Or its citizens lack proper mental care under a health care system that draws frequent derision abroad.

These explanations share one thing in common: Though seemingly sensible, all have been debunked by research on shootings elsewhere in the world. Instead, an ever-growing body of research consistently reaches the same conclusion.

The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.

The top-line numbers suggest a correlation that, on further investigation, grows only clearer.

Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the global population but own 42 percent of the world’s guns. From 1966 to 2012, 31 percent of the gunmen in mass shootings worldwide were American, according to a 2015 study by Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama.

Adjusted for population, only Yemen has a higher rate of mass shootings among countries with more than 10 million people — a distinction Mr. Lankford urged to avoid outliers. Yemen has the world’s second-highest rate of gun ownership after the United States.

Worldwide, Mr. Lankford found, a country’s rate of gun ownership correlated with the odds it would experience a mass shooting. This relationship held even when he excluded the United States, indicating that it could not be explained by some other factor particular to his home country. And it held when he controlled for homicide rates, suggesting that mass shootings were better explained by a society’s access to guns than by its baseline level of violence.

If mental health made the difference, then data would show that Americans have more mental health problems than do people in other countries with fewer mass shootings. But the mental health care spending rate in the United States, the number of mental health professionals per capita and the rate of severe mental disorders are all in line with those of other wealthy countries.

A 2015 study estimated that only 4 percent of American gun deaths could be attributed to mental health issues. And Mr. Lankford, in an email, said countries with high suicide rates tended to have low rates of mass shootings — the opposite of what you would expect if mental health problems correlated with mass shootings.

Whether a population plays more or fewer video games also appears to have no impact. Americans are no more likely to play video games than people in any other developed country.

Racial diversity or other factors associated with social cohesion also show little correlation with gun deaths. Among European countries, there is little association between immigration or other diversity metrics and the rates of gun murders or mass shootings.

America’s gun homicide rate was 33 per million people in 2009, far exceeding the average among developed countries. In Canada and Britain, it was 5 per million and 0.7 per million, respectively, which also corresponds with differences in gun ownership.

Americans sometimes see this as an expression of deeper problems with crime, a notion ingrained, in part, by a series of films portraying urban gang violence in the early 1990s. But the United States is not actually more prone to crime than other developed countries, according to a landmark 1999 study by Franklin E. Zimring and Gordon Hawkins of the University of California, Berkeley.

Rather, they found, in data that has since been repeatedly confirmed, that American crime is simply more lethal. A New Yorker is just as likely to be robbed as a Londoner, for instance, but the New Yorker is 54 times more likely to be killed in the process.

They concluded that the discrepancy, like so many other anomalies of American violence, came down to guns.

More gun ownership corresponds with more gun murders across virtually every axis: among developed countries, among American states, among American towns and cities and when controlling for crime rates. And gun control legislation tends to reduce gun murders, according to a recent analysis of 130 studies from 10 countries.

This suggests that the guns themselves cause the violence. . .

Continue reading. Charts at the link. And there’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 August 2019 at 7:25 am

Posted in Daily life, Guns, Law, Science

Another fatality of the “best healthcare system in the world”

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The headline: “He lost his insurance and turned to a cheaper form of insulin. It was a fatal decision.”

The Washington Post report by Antonio Olivo begins:

Josh Wilkerson was alone, in sleeping quarters above the Northern Virginia dog kennel where he worked, when he suffered a series of strokes that would prove fatal.

He had aged out of his stepfather’s health insurance plan on his 26th birthday and eventually switched to over-the-counter insulin. Like many other diabetics his age, he could not afford the prescription brand he needed.

A few hours after taking another dose of the lower-grade medication that June day in Leesburg, Wilkerson was in the throes of a diabetic coma — his blood sugar level 17 times higher than what is considered normal.

His death at age 27 illustrates the worst-case scenario for thousands of lower-income people living with diabetes in the United States who depend on over-the-counter insulin that — for $25 a vial at Walmart — sells for one-tenth of what the more effective version costs.

“It’s very hard,” said his fiancee, Rose Walters, 27, who, like Wilkerson, was born with a congenital form of the disease known as Type 1 diabetes. “How many more young Type 1 diabetes patients have to die before something finally changes?”

The skyrocketing price of insulin — which emulates the hormone secreted by the pancreas to regulate glucose in the blood — has stirred widespread outrage in the United States, amid reports of people dying after rationing the medication, begging online for help with costs or venturing out of the country in search of better deals.

In Congress, a bipartisan panel has called for legislation aimed at reducing insulin costs for the 7.5 million Americans who rely on the medication, prompting drug manufacturers to offer discounts. Some states are pursuing their own laws.

Last week, the Trump administration announced steps to allow states to import lower-priced medication from Canada — a plan that could include insulin, officials said. A few days earlier, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) joined a group of people with Type 1 diabetes on a bus from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, where they found insulin sold for a tiny fraction of what it costs in the United States.

“People are dying,” said Desralynn Cole, 36, who joined the Democratic presidential hopeful on the trip. “Everyone should be concerned about this.”

The more affordable form of the medication — sold by Walmart since 2000 under its ReliOn brand — is known as “human insulin.” It predates the genetically altered “analogue” insulin doctors routinely prescribe.

While human insulin can require as many as four hours to take effect, with varying levels of success, analogue insulin is more precise and takes as little as 20 minutes to regulate blood sugar levels, patient advocates say.

But with analogue insulin prices nearly tripling since 2002, doctors have begun recommending the cheaper version as a stopgap — a strategy endorsed for “some patients” by the American Diabetes Association in a white paper published last year.

Allison Bailey, U.S. advocacy manager for T1International, a nonprofit organization for people with Type 1 diabetes, said human insulin may work better for people who have Type 2 diabetes, the form of the disease that develops more often in people who are overweight or obese and that is more manageable with diet and exercise. . .

Continue reading.

The GOP is trying to abolish the Affordable Care Act entirely, which would throw millions of people off their healthcare programs. The GOP really doesn’t care about these deaths. They seem to want more.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 August 2019 at 7:18 am

‘Shoot them!’: Trump laughs off a supporter’s demand for violence against migrants

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Antonia Noori Farzan reports in the Washington Post:

A roar rose from the crowd of thousands of Trump supporters in Panama City Beach on Wednesday night, as President Trump noted yet again that Border Patrol agents can’t use weapons to deter migrants. “How do you stop these people?” he asked.

“Shoot them!” someone yelled from the crowd, according to reporters on the scene and attendees.

The audience cheered. Supporters seated behind Trump and clad in white baseball caps bearing the letters “USA” laughed and applauded.

“That’s only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement,” Trump replied, smiling and shaking his head. “Only in the Panhandle.”

Though Trump didn’t explicitly endorse the suggestion to shoot migrants, his joking response raised concerns that he was tacitly encouraging extrajudicial killings and brutality against asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants. The president has long been accused of endorsing acts of violence through his incendiary rhetoric and allusions to the potential for violence at his rallies, a charge that members of his administration deny.

Reached for comment by The Washington Post on Trump’s reaction at the Florida rally, Matt Wolking, deputy communications director for the Trump campaign, pointed to a response he had given to many critics on Twitter. The president, he noted in his tweet, had specifically said that Border Patrol wouldn’t use firearms to stop migrants from entering the country.

The incendiary remark from the crowd came as Trump, standing before about 7,000 people who had gathered at an outdoor amphitheater in the hurricane-damaged Gulf Coast town, railed against what he described as an “invasion” of migrants attempting to enter the United States. Often, he claimed, “two or three” border agents will contend with the arrival of “hundreds and hundreds of people.”

“And don’t forget, we don’t let them and we can’t let them use weapons,” Trump said of the border agents. “We can’t. Other countries do. We can’t. I would never do that. But how do you stop these people?”

The fans seated directly behind Trump wore serious, perturbed frowns, which were quickly replaced by broad grins after the shouted suggestion that the solution involved firearms. Uproarious laughter rippled across the room as audience members whistled and offered a round of applause

To critics, Trump’s failure to outright condemn the idea of shooting migrants amounted to a “tacit endorsement” of the sentiment. Many pointed out that such rhetoric was especially concerning in light of the fact that an armed militia group, the United Constitutional Patriots, had been searching the borderlands for undocumented migrants and detaining them against their will.

Last month, after the group’s leader, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, was arrested on charges of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, the FBI said that the 69-year-old claimed militia members were training to assassinate former president Barack Obama, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and prominent Democratic donor George Soros.

One member of that militia had also questioned why the group wasn’t killing migrants, according to a police report first obtained by left-leaning news outlet The Young Turks.

“Why are we just apprehending them and not lining them up and shooting them?” Armando Delgado Gonzalez allegedly asked another member during a patrol in April. “We have to go back to Hitler days and put them all in a gas chamber.”

Gonzalez denied making those comments in an interview with BuzzFeed News, though a third member of the group confirmed that the exchange had taken place and told BuzzFeed that the militia had filed a police report because the remarks were a “red flag.” . . .

Continue reading.

And this report includes the video.

This is beyond “disturbing.” This is frightening, especially in the immediate aftermath of the El Paso mass shooting with 20 killed from an anti-immigrant zealot (and now 9 killed in an Ohio mass shooting).

Written by LeisureGuy

4 August 2019 at 6:59 am

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