Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ageism In The US: 42% Of All COVID-19 Deaths Have Taken Place In Nursing Homes

I just posted on the falsehood being perpetuated that older adults (they were referred to as “the elderly” which is a demeaning and ageist term) have the highest risk for vitamin D deficiency when the truth is that they have the lowest risk. It is just a small example of the prejudice older adults face. But a larger example? Prejudice, discrimination, marginalization, and apathy towards older adults in this country have led to disproportionately higher death rates from COVID-19 in long-term care homes.

No one should refer to COVID-19 as the Chinese flu or the Wuhan virus; however, it may be fitting to call it the Nursing Home Virus, at least in the US.

The Most Important Coronavirus Statistic: 42% Of U.S. Deaths Are From 0.6% Of The Population, Forbes, 26 May 2020

2.1 million Americans, representing 0.62% of the U.S. population, reside in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

As of May 22, in the 43 states that currently report such figures, an astounding 42% of all COVID-19 deaths have taken place in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

And 42% could be an undercount. States like New York exclude from their nursing home death tallies those who die in a hospital, even if they were originally infected in a long-term care facility. Outside of New York, more than half of all deaths from COVID-19 are of residents in long-term care facilities.

As you can see from the map, care homes account for:

81% of COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota
70% of COVID-19 deaths in Ohio
69% of COVID-19 deaths in Pennsylvania

This doesn’t have to happen. In Japan, where there is widespread respect for older adults and a sense of obligation to care for them, less than 10%, or “about 60 of Japan’s 624 coronavirus-related deaths as of May 10 were in care homes.”

Study: Older Adults Are Less At Risk For Vitamin D Deficiency Than 20-To-40-Year-Olds

Vitamin D Status In The United States, 2011–2014, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 10 May 2019

First, the Vitamin D situation is not getting worse, it’s getting better:

This report provides the most recent estimates for the US population of the prevalence of at risk of deficiency or inadequacy of vitamin D.

The prevalence of at risk of vitamin D deficiency in the United States remained stable from 2003 to 2014; at risk of inadequacy declined.

And older adults (aged 60yrs or older) have a LOWER risk of Vitamin D deficiency (2.9%) and inadequacy (12.3%) than younger adults. Everyone older than 11 years (aged 12 to 59) have a HIGHER risk. Those aged 20-39 have the highest risk for deficiency (7.6%) and inadequacy (23.8%).

But…

Researchers at Northwestern University are saying that Vitamin D deficiency is more prevalent in “elderly populations.”
NU Researchers Discover Strong Correlation Between Vitamin D Deficiency And Covid-19 Mortality Rates

The abstract for their study says that Vitamin D insufficiency is greater with “advanced age.”
Vitamin D Insufficiency Is Prevalent In Severe COVID-19, 28 April 2020

If it is true that Vitamin D deficiency or inadequacy increases the risk for dying of COVID-19, you would expect people aged 20 to 39 years to be more affected, since they have the highest prevalence of deficiency and inadequacy. But…

These researchers are perpetuating the myth that people’s health (in this case, Vitamin D status) declines based merely upon age. Discrimination against people based upon their age is ageism. Just as societies should not tolerate racism, they should not tolerate ageism.

Another McDougall Success Story

Dr. McDougall, whose diet I think is one of the best out there, just shared another success story:

Star McDougaller Vance (written by Vance):

At 53 years-old, I was on a downward spiral: gaining weight, chest pains increasing daily, high blood pressure, chronic gout arthritis I had suffered from since birth, bad bursitis, and constant blood in my stool. A new symptom seemed to appear every day. I knew, at the very least, I was close to a heart attack or worse. In a moment of clarity I Googled, “can heart disease be reserved?” Dr. McDougall came up and I started to watch and read everything I could get my hands on – driving the family nuts! Well, I thought, “what do I have to lose (pun intended)?” I dove in with 100% compliance so I could rip it apart when it didn’t work. Just to make sure it really didn’t work, I stopped my gym workouts one week in. Everything Dr. McDougall claimed, to my surprise, was true!

I was very surprised when I received my lab tests back from 6 weeks of eating the McDougall way. Although I was still obese, my cholesterol dropped by 120 points (from 230 to 110) and triglycerides from 340 to 135! Ridiculous! During my fitness days, when I only had 10% body fat, my cholesterol never dropped below 160. My blood pressure was now perfect too, and I never put the saltshaker down! I knew right then and there that I had made the right decision to change the way I ate.

Four months later I was down 92 pounds! Even my testosterone went up from 170 to 600! [normal: ~200-900 -Bix] Not to mention a long list of benefits that I didn’t see coming!! Bowel movements are so comfortable and easy I almost look forward to them! Being completely off all gout medications and moving around as if I haven’t aged is a blessing. I feel better than I remember feeling as a young man. Even after all the years of basketball and the toll it took on my knees, I no longer have pain! I also do not experience any inflammation in my calves anymore (a symptom “Hoopers” are all too familiar with – walking down the stairs sideways to take the pressure off those patellar tendons). I stopped needing my CPAP machine as well. Sleep is much more comfortable. I also no longer binge on food and can easily go long periods of time without eating without losing any energy. The best part of feeling healthy is showing up to my son’s basketball practices and playing with him! At my age it’s a blessing to be active with my son again, and he is very happy too! This made our close relationship even better! Not only do I move better on the court, I am able to run around doing roof inspections for the remodeling company I own. Who knew this would improve my business? My confidence with potential customers improved and I am relaxed during sale presentations.

Never have I felt better! I had been looking all my life for an eating lifestyle plan that allows you to eat as much as you want, love the food and not gain weight! The McDougall diet is the best thing that could have happened to this know it all! I am eternally grateful to Dr. McDougall! It definitely is “The Food!”

Vance

Some thoughts:

I believe him. I’ve never seen this diet not work.

There’s a lot of enthusiasm in Vance’s testimony. Why not? Lots of good things. However, it looks like he’s been eating this way for less than a year. And he presumably made drastic changes. Small changes over a long period of time seem to work better than big changes over a short period of time. I wonder how he will be in several years.

The McDougall diet is a challenge, at least at the beginning; it’s near impossible on the road. I would get flack from McDougall followers for saying that. I’m being realistic. Americans are served animal food and fat everywhere … at restaurants, fast food outlets, even grocery stores. We’ve been raised on it, have developed a taste for it, and have come to expect it. It takes quite a bit of planning, perseverance, and personal resources to eat this way. You have to overcome your food environment, marketing, culture, pressure from friends and family, and cost – the cheapest food is often the least healthiest. We have to address these external forces if we want to improve Americans’ health. We have to make the default food the healthiest food.

Related:
What To Eat On A Plant-Based Diet (McDougall Starch Version)

“Strolling The Biltmore” by Jeff Hanson

Click to enlarge.

Jeffrey Owen Hanson is an award-winning, philanthropic artist on a mission to change the world through art. Visually impaired since childhood from neurofibromatosis, Jeff’s acrylic-on-canvas works employ bold color and heavily sculptured texture to create an unmistakable signature style. Self-taught as an artist, Jeff first began painting while undergoing chemotherapy at age 12. Despite his limited vision, he continues to create brilliant artwork—a sight for sore eyes, he calls it.
jeffhansonart.com

Taking Antacids Increases Risk For Dementia, Mechanism Discovered

Omeprazole, brand name Prilosec, should not be taken for longer than 2 weeks. Yet most retailers sell a three-pack, good for 6 weeks. And no-one is shutting this down. It’s like candy.

Have Heartburn? Taking an antacid? –> Proton pump inhibitors like Nexium and Prilosec can increase the risk for dementia by reducing synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

Newly Discovered Mechanism Can Explain Increased Risk Of Dementia, Eurekalert, 8 May 2020

As a neurotransmitter, acetylcholine is needed for passing signals among nerve cells, but this only works if enough of the substance is produced. The simulations showed that all the tested drugs were able to bind with the enzyme.

The researchers then analysed the effect of this binding. They found that all the drugs inhibited the enzyme, resulting in a reduced production of acetylcholine, where the stronger the binding, the stronger the inhibitory effect. Drugs based on the active substances omeprazole [Prilosec], esomeprazole [Nexium], tenatoprazole and rabeprazole [AcipHex] had the greatest affinity and were therefore the strongest inhibitors of the enzyme.

Study:

Proton pump inhibitors act with unprecedented potencies as inhibitors of the acetylcholine biosynthesizing enzyme—A plausible missing link for their association with incidence of dementia, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, 8 May 2020

Several pharmacoepidemiological studies indicate that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) significantly increase the risk of dementia. Yet, the underlying mechanism is not known. Here, we report the discovery of an unprecedented mode of action of PPIs that explains how PPIs may increase the risk of dementia.

Given that accumulating evidence points at cholinergic dysfunction as a driving force of major dementia disorders, our findings mechanistically explain how prolonged use of PPIs may increase incidence of dementia.

Now, see, this is a big deal. And it’s not the first study to show the link (see below). But the pharmaceutical industry has been shutting it down (I saw a meta-analysis yesterday to that effect, their product is doubt) because they make a lot of money on the sale of antacids. And mainstream media isn’t picking it up either because they are supported through advertising by drug companies.

The big reason, to me at least, why people won’t care is that there is such a lag time between taking antacids and being diagnosed with dementia. (Although people show memory loss in as little as 10 days, see below.) People will say, “Oh, that’s hogwash. I feel fine.” But, you know what? It’s a big deal.

Chronic heartburn can be effectively treated with a change in diet.

________________
Related:

A large population study in JAMA Neurology showed that people who use PPIs also ran a higher risk of dementia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26882076

A study in Alzheimers Research & Therapy showed that healthy young individuals who took PPIs for ten days performed worse on memory tests than previously, compared with a placebo group. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26714488

According to a study published in PLOS ONE the use of PPIs in the population more than doubled from 4 to 9.2 percent between 2002 and 2009. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23418510

Repost: “Hunger” Is Big Business

Below is a repost from 6 May 2017, almost 3 years ago to the day. Not much has changed. People still support food banks and pantries and charities not realizing that the only reason they exist is because we don’t pay people a living wage, we don’t provide adequate health insurance not tied to a job, we don’t provide enough affordable housing for people who work low-wage “essential” jobs, and higher education in this country has become a luxury many can’t afford. In the words of Alan Jennings:

Emergency food assistance is charity. Charity is what society does when there is no justice. Charity is food assistance. Justice is a job that pays the bills. Charity is a homeless shelter. Justice is an affordable apartment that is safe.

___________
First, let me draw your attention to this slick and expensive website: Feeding America

It has a ton of sponsors. Here are just a few: Monsanto, PepsiCo, Nestle, Walmart, Morgan Stanley, ConAgra, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Del Monte, Dean Foods, Cargill, Tyson, Unilever, Smithfield, Proctor & Gamble, Dannon … and on and on.

These companies are not involved in “feeding America” out of altruism. They get something back, something that feeds their bottom line. It is in their financial interest to maintain a hunger market in this country. I’m not kidding.

Here’s a screen shot from Feeding America:

You know why “hunger” touches every community in the US? Because big corporations have a stake in making it so. And they use photographs like these to keep the argument emotional. It’s despicable.

Also … People who are truly involved in feeding the hungry have grown dependent on these corporations. In a way, they’re dependent upon each other:

Big Hunger: The Unholy Alliance Between Corporate America And Anti-Hunger Groups, Andrew Fisher

Reliant on corporate donations of food and money, anti-hunger organizations have failed to hold business accountable for offshoring jobs, cutting benefits, exploiting workers and rural communities, and resisting wage increases. They have become part of a “hunger industrial complex” that seems as self-perpetuating as the more famous military-industrial complex.

Civil Eats interviewed the book’s author, Andrew Fisher:

To Solve Hunger, First Solve Poverty A new book about the business of hunger argues that food charities’ reliance on corporate donations makes solving hunger impossible.

And Fisher said this, which blew me away:

Steve Holt wrote a two-part series criticizing food banks for being in bed with corporations for Takepart.com extensively quoting me. [Here that is: Are Food Banks Selling Out to Corporate America?]. When the second part of the series didn’t run, I discovered that Feeding America went “ballistic” after reading the first article. They admitted that the critiques were true, but convinced the website to censor the second article.

So, that slick corporate-run website at the top of my post, “Feeding America” censored Holt’s and Fisher’s claims that corporations – like Walmart and Monsanto and Pepsi – are in bed with food pantries.

This next part gets me angry, because almost every time I go to the grocery store anymore, the check-out person asks me if I want to donate to some food bank or other anti-hunger charity. (This has become a thing!) Now, if I do, I’ll be thinking I’m contributing to low wages and worker exploitation:

By failing to organize around wages and jobs, and perpetuating dependency on free food and food stamps, the anti-hunger community contributes to economic insecurity.

Finally, I have to repost this comment that was under the Civil Eats article. It’s by a man, Alan Jennings, who has spent his life tackling inequality:

It is great to see someone shake up the charitable approach to fighting hunger in this wealthy nation of ours. It would be a lengthy piece for me to write a comprehensive response to the points made here in. But I am up to my eyeballs in fighting the battles that need to be fought to effectively address poverty in our midst and can’t spare as much time as would be needed. Unfortunately, when we have limited time we tend to be more strident. So, I’ve run the risk of offending some people and, while some need to be offended, the risk is to lose support for what we do. So, I will apologize up front for any hard feelings I might cause. Here goes.

First, the word “hunger” is an inappropriate term. The reality is that, while far too many people struggle to pay their bills, the incidence of “hunger” is pretty limited in America. By “hunger” I mean the pangs and the bloated belly that come with them.

What we do have is millions of people who, even when they work, simply cannot possibly pay the bills. What those of us who run food banks do is enable people to save money on food, thereby freeing up very limited dollars to pay their rent and other unavoidable expenses.

Hunger is a very charged word, and we need to be more careful with its use.

Second, emergency food assistance is charity. Charity is what society does when there is no justice. Charity is food assistance. Justice is a job that pays the bills. Charity is a homeless shelter. Justice is an affordable apartment that is safe.

Third, many well-meaning people support food pantries and food banks because those programs reinforce the notion that the failure of our marketplace is episodic, temporary and, all too often, the fault of the individual for not keeping their nose to the grindstone. They don’t want to believe that the marketplace doesn’t work as most of us would surmise by the fact that tens of millions of people can’t find shelter from the storm of a marketplace that seems to be getting meaner by the day.

I am grateful to each and every person who reaches out to serve others, regardless of their political views or situation in life. My preference would be helping each and every one of our donors to understand the deeper challenges of our society, its marketplace and the political environment that would have even a single American turning his or her back on their neighbors in need.

We should be working on raising the minimum wage to at least $12 an hour. We should be reducing the only housing subsidy entitlement in America (the mortgage interest deduction) and shift that lost revenue to real housing subsidies for those unable to work and those whose skills have so little value in our marketplace. We should join the rest of the civilized world by establishing a single-payer, universal health insurance entitlement. We should stop educational apartied that locks inequity into our system in favor of ensuring that every kid in America gets access to quality early childhood education and decent K-12 public education.

That, my friends, would enable us to shut down much of the anti-poverty and anti-hunger “industry.” That would be real success.

The organization I run, called the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley in Eastern Pennsylvania, could redirect the funding we use to sustain our Second Harvest Food Bank and our homeless shelter in favor of other programs we operate like those that help people start their own business, buy their own home or accumulate other kinds of critical household resources.

I have tried my best to avoid being publicly critical of some key organizations that do anti-hunger work, including one with which we are closely affiliated. I’m not dumb enough to offend the – pun intended – hand that feeds us. Too many people get paid to keep the system and its inequity in place. That aspect of the status quo should be upended.

Alan L. Jennings, Executive Director
Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley
Bethlehem PA

Here’s some background on Alan Jennings: After Decades Of Fighting For The Poor, Alan Jennings Now In A Fight For Himself. That article was written around June 2015. It included a short video which I’m having trouble embedding, but you can click his photo here and it will take you to it. It’s people like Alan Jennings that restores my faith in humanity.

Republicans Are Trying To Whitewash The Trump Presidency

The Republican Party, to which Bush belongs, nominated Trump because he represents their values. Bush and his party supported Trump during the years of his Presidency, during the racism, the advancement of inequality, the polluting of the environment, the denying climate change.

How can Bush say we need to “take care of each other” when he and his Party are right now in the courts trying to strip Americans of their healthcare?

How can he say “officials at every level are setting out requirements of public health” when those same officials dismantled the pandemic preparedness team and underfunded the CDC and other offices of public health for years?

How can he speak of empathy and compassion when he failed the people of Louisiana post-Katrina?

He says we are “equally vulnerable”. Not true. Some of us are more vulnerable than others. He even says: “the elderly, the ill, the unemployed.” He left out people of color who are experiencing a higher death rate from COVID-19.

He speaks of “this period of service and sacrifice.” Shared sacrifice? According to former labor secretary Robert Reich:

America’s billionaires grew their wealth by $282,000,000,000 in just 23 days during the lockdown. That’s $12,300,000,000 a day. Meanwhile, millions of Americans are out of work and struggling to pay the bills. This is a tale of two pandemics.

Why don’t America’s elite tell low-income essential workers to shelter in place, at home, without fear of loss of income or healthcare? Because then they would have to sacrifice too.

Whoever wrote this speech is trying to salvage the reputation of the Republican party. Bush says “in the final analysis we are not partisan combatants.” But this speech IS partisan. It’s political. It’s disingenuous. To use the words in this speech without sincerity is despicable.