Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for July 1st, 2022

Protein from animals vs. Protein from plants

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Now there are studies that show not only that plant-based protein is better (i.e., better for health) but also why.

Written by Leisureguy

1 July 2022 at 5:29 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen are used to treat chronic pain. What if they cause it?

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Ross Pomeroy has a very interesting article in Big Think. The article is introduced by a helpful list of the key takeaways:

  • Chronic pain affects as many as 50 million Americans, and it is commonly thought to be exacerbated by inflammation.
  • However, a new study study suggests that excessively fighting inflammation can actually hinder bodily healing, causing pain to stick around longer.
  • If confirmed in a randomized clinical trial, the finding implicates non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications like ibuprofen and aspirin in causing chronic pain.

The article proper begins:

In treating a sprained ankle, a strained muscle, or various other injuries, doctors regularly prescribe, and patients often reach for, anti-inflammatory painkillers like ibuprofen, aspirin, or dexamethasone. But a provocative new paper published to Science Translational Medicine suggests that reducing inflammation in the short-term could actually stifle healing, resulting in chronic pain over the long-term.

“What we’re saying here is pretty radical,” Jeffrey Mogil, a neuroscientist at McGill University and a senior author on the paper, told Stat. Mogil and his nineteen co-authors, hailing from institutions around the world, backed their assertion with three fairly convincing lines of evidence.

The case against anti-inflammatory drugs

They first collected blood samples from 98 patients in Italy seeking treatment for acute lower back pain, tracking any changes in gene expression over three months. Some of the patients went on to develop chronic lower back pain, while others did not. The researchers found that patients whose pain resolved showed increased activation in genes involved in inflammation. Their immune cells ratcheted up the fundamental immune process then quickly pared it down. Those same inflammatory genes remained relatively inert in patients who went on to develop chronic pain. To the researchers, this suggested that a vigorous, short-term inflammatory response speeds healing and resolves pain.

Mogil and his co-authors subsequently tested this hypothesis in injured mice, giving one group an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug, one group the anti-inflammatory steroid dexamethasone, and another group saline (salt water) as a placebo over the course of a few days. While the mice that received the anti-inflammatory and the steroid experienced greater pain relief in the short term, their pain took far longer to resolve overall compared to the mice that received saline — on the order of months instead of weeks.

Lastly, the researchers pored through the UK Biobank, a large-scale biomedical database containing in-depth genetic and health information from half a million UK participants, searching for records of patients with acute lower back pain who treated their symptoms with various painkillers. They found that patients who used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin were 76% more likely to develop chronic back pain compared to patients who used other painkillers that didn’t reduce inflammation.

Taken together, these lines of evidence present a strong case against fighting early inflammation.

However, the researchers only looked at lower back pain. Moreover, findings in mice studies regularly fail to replicate in humans. And finally, the UK Biobank study is subject to confounding variables. Perhaps patients who took NSAIDs had far worse back pain and inflammation than patients who didn’t take NSAIDs, and it was because their back injuries were more troublesome that they went on to develop chronic pain.

A clinical trial is coming

While the researchers’ finding would be paradigm-changing if confirmed — suggesting that clinicians should be more willing to allow early inflammation to run its course, and that pain sufferers at home might want to consider reaching for acetaminophen rather than ibuprofen — the study did not come out of nowhere. In the past few years, scientists have been starting to realize that acute inflammation (perhaps from an injury) and chronic inflammation (say, from obesity) are quite different. The former is good and the latter bad.

The redness, swelling, and pain from acute inflammation are signs that blood is flowing to the area, bringing along rampaging immune cells (that clear the area of contaminants and damaged cells) as well as chemicals that stimulate healing. You don’t want the immune cells to stick around too long, risking “friendly fire,” but you also don’t want to force the healing compounds out too early. Right now,

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

1 July 2022 at 5:16 pm

The craftsmanship route to recovery and rehabilitation

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In an earlier post I discussed how art therapy and music therapy can help with reconstruction and realignment of identity to facilitate recovery not only from addiction but also from thought and behavior patterns that affect one negatively. However, there are many paths one can take, just as there are many ways to achieve flow — and in fact, the path described in Laura Fisher’s article in Craftsmanship strikes me as using flow as a way to satisfy constructively needs previously addressed by using drugs. She writes:

Unlike most rehab methods, SanPa doesn’t rely on therapists, substitute drug treatment, 12-step programs, or religion. Instead, it treats addiction as a community problem, where an individual’s destructive tendencies can be changed by becoming a member of a big family, Italian-style, participating in work and education for the common good.

In the hills above Rimini, Italy, is a restaurant renowned across the region for its pizza. The terrace, surrounded by flowering trees, overlooks vineyards that roll down to the distant Adriatic Sea. In the center of the restaurant, called SP.accio, tattooed men knead, shape, and twirl dough in a gleaming, open kitchen. The cooks follow the standard routine of any good pizzaiolo—they sprinkle on herbs and cheese, and slip the pies into a fiercely hot, wood-burning oven—but they cook with unusual focus and passion, as if their very lives depended on the perfection of these pizzas.

“The dough teaches you,” says Massimo Bertoglia, the head chef, as he shapes a piece into a round. “You have to have constancy, and you have to have care.” He pauses to survey his results and seems pleased. “If you don’t care for it, it will die.”

Bertoglia’s pizza philosophy is far more than a metaphor. Learning to become a pizzaiolo actually did help to save his life. A former drug addict, Bertoglia is one of some 26,000 people since 1978 who have come to San Patrignano, the addiction recovery community that runs this restaurant, as a last-ditch effort to pull himself out of a life centered on doing anything necessary to get his next fix. Everyone who works at SP.accio, from Chef Bertoglia to the waiters, busboys, and the woman who sells gifts in the boutique (spaccio means “store” in Italian) is either a current resident or a graduate of the rehab program. Some of the best chefs in Italy come here to train the pizzaioli, who are highly sought-after in Italy after graduation.

It’s easy to see why. All the ingredients at the restaurant, Bertoglia explains, are kilometro zero—produced within view of the terrace tables, from the tomatoes and basil to the wine, mozzarella cheese, prosciutto, and delicate date cookies served with espresso at the end of their meals. The pizza crust—a crucial and elusive art in the pizza world—achieves an unusual quality here because it’s part whole-wheat, and it’s made with natural yeast, with a “mother” dough that has to be refreshed three times a day. The resulting pizza, Bertoglia says as he thumps the dough, is more easily digestible than a pizza made with commercial yeasts. It’s a bit like a Napoletana pizza—large, chewy, with a big border—but not quite as soft.

On my way out of the restaurant, I pass a sumptuous deli and gift boutique that tells the story of a community that makes much more than pizza. Cheeses, cured meats, wine, pastries, olive oil, and other quality foods are all made at San Patrignano (SanPa), a campus covering 642 acres that includes farms and vineyards, and where some 1500 residents and 300 staff currently reside. Another room in the boutique features high-quality leather goods and finely spun shawls and scarves, all with the SanPa logo: a tree of life. SanPa is also renowned for breeding horses and dogs, as well as fine woodwork, graphic arts, and other sophisticated crafts. The income from the residents’ efforts covers about 60 percent of the community’s operating budget of 27 million euros (roughly $30 million dollars U.S., at the time of this writing). The rest is made up by donations to the private nonprofit organization, some of which come from billionaire Italian patrons.

SanPa is unlike other rehab centers in the world for a variety of reasons. First is the length of stay, which is three-and-a-half years. By contrast, the average stay in a rehb center in the United States, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, is 28 days. Second, unlike most rehab methods, SanPa doesn’t rely on therapists, substitute drug treatments, 12-step programs, or religion. Instead, it treats addiction less as a medical problem than a community problem, where an individual’s lack of self-esteem and destructive tendencies can be changed by becoming a members of a big family, Italian-style, and by participating in work and education for the common good. [For a more intimate sense of this culture, see our documentary short film, “The Philosophy of Bello,” found in the sidebar of this story.] . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

1 July 2022 at 4:02 pm

How To Get Into The Flow State

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Flow is a state of consciousness — a type of trance — in which we are both highly productive and very happy. It can come about by accident, as we gradually lose ourself as we focus our attention on a pleasurable task that demands around 85% to 90% of our capability (less, and we become bored; more and we become anxious). Of course, as we repeat the task, we learn by experience and our capabilities increase, so as our abilities increase, we are drawn to more difficult challenges in order to maintain the (pleasurable) state/trance of flow. I

I wrote about this in a new final section I appended to an earlier post. I write there of how rituals can be an on-ramp to the state of flow. Habits, rightly selected and formed, can also be a way to regain routinely the state of flow. There are many routes up that particular mountain. Rudyard Kipling’s poem “In the Neolithic Age” concludes:

Here’s my wisdom for your use, as I learned it when the moose
And the reindeer roared where Paris roars to-night: —
There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays,
And — every — single — one — of — them — is — right!

In the 37-minute video below, Steve Kotler describes flow and discusses ways to enter that state.

A shorter video by Kotler on the same topic:

Written by Leisureguy

1 July 2022 at 2:29 pm

31 Comedians Share Their Favorite Joke-Joke

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In Vulture Jesse David Fox and Jason P. Frank have collected jokes comedians tell, not as part of their routines, but as one-off jokes. As they explain:

Jokes like grandpa tells or the ones from joke books you give your kid have no place onstage — at least anymore. A century ago, comics might’ve told “street jokes,” but slowly the practice grew hack. Eventually, as comedians grew increasingly observational, personal, and political, the idea of doing a stock one-liner became absurd. Comedians tell jokes, but they don’t tell jokes. Again, that is onstage. Offstage, it’s a different story. Some comedians love telling street jokes in green rooms, and some carry one around with them in case of a radio appearance or bothersome person sitting next to them on a plane. As a result, if you need a joke in a pinch, a comedian is not a terrible person to ask.

Luckily, Vulture’s comedy podcast Good One has done the work for you, asking comedian guests the question: “What’s your favorite joke-joke?” And now, we’ve compiled a collection of their answers here. That’s right: This is a list with no observational humor, no prop comedy, and no “comedic songs.” Just pure, unadulterated joke-jokes that you can steal for your next icebreaker.

Continue reading for the jokes. Here’s one:

“I was walking down the street once, and I bumped into a man who had an orange for a head. I said to the man, ‘Why is your head an orange?’ And he said, ‘Once, I found a dusty old lamp, and I rubbed it and a genie came out, and he said ‘I’ll grant you three wishes.’ I said, ‘What did you wish for first?’ The man said, ‘For all the money in the world. I ended up a multibillionaire, so much money, and I spent it on all my wildest dreams.’ I said, ‘What was your second wish?’ He said ‘I wished for a beautiful wife, someone who gets me to my soul, understands me the way I’ve never been understood before, and who I understand better than I’ve ever understood any person.’ I said, ‘Okay, what was your third wish?’ And he said, ‘I wished for my head to be turned into an orange.’” —James Acaster

Written by Leisureguy

1 July 2022 at 9:50 am

Posted in Daily life, Humor

Lavanille and the King C. Gillette DE razor, only with a good handle

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A very fine shave. My Sabini brush with ebony hand (which has always had a slight crack — see photo) made a very nice lather from Barrister & Mann’s Lavanille shaving soap, and this morning I finally tuned in to the fragrance and like it a lot. Odd how previously I perceived it only as so-so, but this morning I finally got it, and the scales fell from my eyes, as it were (the plugs fell from my nostrils?). Extremely nice.

My razor is the King C. Gillette I got on Amazon, except that I replaced the original handle with a good handle — the stainless-steel UFO from Italian Barber. Three passes produce a perfect result (since Gillette wisely decided to use a Chinese knockoff of a good head design, the Mühle/Edwin Jagger).

A splash of Lavanille with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel finished the shave in fine style.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s No. 10: “Gunpowder and Jasmine greens and Keemun and Ceylon black teas.”

Today has the usual first of month tasks (bringing forward budget plan and summaries to reflect a new month, reading the FutureMe email from a year ago that was delivered this morning, and writing a new email to be delivered a year from now), plus rotating the mattress. It’s all satisfying in a “well, that’s done” sort of way.

Written by Leisureguy

1 July 2022 at 9:33 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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