Category Archives: Uncategorized

Vegans May Benefit From Complementing Proteins

Are we back to complementing proteins?

Bioavailable Methionine Assessed Using the Indicator Amino Acid Oxidation Method Is Greater When Cooked Chickpeas and Steamed Rice Are Combined in Healthy Young Men, The Journal of Nutrition, 9 April 2020

When chickpeas are the main protein source in the diet of young adult men, the combination of rice and chickpeas in a 3:1 ratio is recommended to improve dietary protein quality.

The idea of combining foods that contain complementary amino acids was promulgated by Frances Moore Lappé in her 1971 book, Diet for a Small Planet. It has since been challenged. Lappé herself retracts the notion in her later editions.

But …

While it’s true that all the essential amino acids exist in plant foods – you don’t need to eat animal foods to get them* – that doesn’t take into account absorption. This study took that into account.

If you’re going to eat rice and you’re going to eat beans it would not be a bad idea to get them into your stomach around the same time.

* You do need to eat sufficient calories, keeping in mind that fruit is a poor source of protein.

Truth Void 2

Which one of these people is telling the truth?

President Trump on 26 February:
“I mean, view this the same as the flu…You treat this like a flu.”

Vice President Pence on 9 April:
“We’ve known from the beginning that this at least three times more contagious than the flu. And, I believe that fact alone has informed our projections and the modeling.”

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus-response coordinator on 27 March:
“[Trump is] so attentive to the scientific literature and the details and the data. I think his ability to analyze and integrate data that comes out of his long history in business has really been a real benefit.”

US Surgeon General: “No Place In The World Is Better Prepared To Handle This Challenge.” Really?

He was either being ignorant or dishonest. I’m inclined to think it’s the latter.

Many places were better prepared to handle an inevitable pandemic. Noam Chomsky said here that the US, given it’s gradual outsourcing of public health functions to the private sector, was at the bottom of the preparedness barrel:

China itself seems to have controlled it, at least for now. The same is true of the countries in China’s periphery where the early warnings were heeded, including democracies no less vibrant than those of the West. Europe mostly temporized, but some European countries acted. Germany appears to hold the global record in low death rates, thanks to spare health facilities and diagnostic capacity, and rapid response. The same seems to be true in Norway. Boris Johnson’s reaction in the U.K. was shameful. Trump’s U.S. brought up the rear.
Chomsky: Ventilator Shortage Exposes the Cruelty of Neoliberal Capitalism

In the US, it’s about making money, not protecting the public’s health. Chomsky cited this excerpt from a New York Times article:

“The stalled efforts to create a new class of cheap, easy-to-use ventilators highlight the perils of outsourcing projects with critical public-health implications to private companies; their focus on maximizing profits is not always consistent with the government’s goal of preparing for a future crisis.”

These are pure numbers but even when you consider as a percent of population, e.g. China has 57 cases per 1 million population. The US has 1,315 cases per 1 million population.
Source: Worldometer

Public health and maximizing profit don’t mix.

The Trust Void

Six days after our @Surgeon_General said this, our schools and non-essential businesses were closed and I was living under a stay-at-home order, for what he said was no worse than flu (actually he implied flu was worse).

He also said:

Americans should take comfort in knowing that we have the best team in the world to protect them from COVID-19. … No place in the world is better prepared to handle this challenge.

These are nonsensical platitudes. I can think of several places in the world that were better prepared to handle this challenge. Taiwan, for instance: Taiwan’s coronavirus response is among the best globally, CNN, 5 April 2020

Part of my job as surgeon general is to communicate the best available science to the American people — and that includes how we as a country, as communities and individuals, should act to stay healthy.

How should we act to stay healthy? By thinking of COVID-19 as no worse than the seasonal flu and by not wearing a mask in public (advice which he changed literally overnight because, I guess, a bunch of science was conducted and peer-reviewed in a matter of hours).

The problem with me realizing that our institutions are not “communicating the best available science” is that I no longer trust them. And it leaves me with a trust void. And it bleeds into and mixes with and reinforces lack-of-trust in all these other areas of life. I don’t trust studies, unless I investigate the authors and sponsors, a task that has become too arduous and time-consuming. I don’t trust Google and Microsoft and Amazon and other tech companies when they say they are doing something for my benefit. I don’t trust Big Pharma, health insurance companies, and just about every institution associated with the health and medical field. I don’t even trust photos anymore (photoshop).

COVID-19: How Sick You Get Depends Upon What Your Immune System Does And If You Have Underlying Disease

From: Coronavirus: How Sick Will You Get?, Mercury News, 1 April 2020

Age may be more a marker of underlying disease than age itself:

This reference to “cytokine storm” was notable. It’s thought to be why so many young, healthy people died during the Spanish flu.*

Doctors are discovering that nine or 10 days into the illness, there’s a fork in the road. In most people, the immune system launches a carefully calibrated and effective response, so they recover. But in others, the immune response is too aggressive, triggering massive inflammation in what’s called a “cytokine storm.” Immune cells are overproduced and flood into the lungs, making it hard to breathe and leading to often fatal Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Those people develop sepsis, then acute kidney and heart damage. By day 20, they may be dead.

Why does the immune system misbehave? One reason may be age. As we get older, our immune response grows less accurate. It doesn’t respond as effectively, and it is not as well regulated. Genetics may also play a role.

* Spanish flu, from Wikipedia:

The Spanish flu was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic. Lasting from January 1918 to December 1920, it infected 500 million people – about a quarter of the world’s population at the time. The death toll is estimated to have been anywhere from 17 million to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in human history.

Most influenza outbreaks disproportionately kill the very young and the very old, with a higher survival rate for those in between, but the Spanish flu pandemic resulted in a higher than expected mortality rate for young adults. Some analyses have shown the virus to be particularly deadly because it triggers a cytokine storm, which ravages the stronger immune system of young adults.

Both a strong immune response and a weak response can be deadly.

Slow Loris

A photo of a slow loris that was released into a protected forest in Sumatra after undergoing medical care. (Photograph: Reza Septian/International Animal Rescue)

Source: The Guardian

Slow lorises are nocturnal primates. They “have a toxic bite, a trait rare among mammals and unique to primates. The toxin is obtained by licking a sexual gland on their arm, and the secretion is activated by mixing with saliva.”

The toxin can cause death by anaphylactic shock in some people.

According to Smithsonian:

That bite, combined with a hiss-like vocalization, sinuous movements, and a distinctive defensive posture in which the loris raises its arms above its head, make the primate look remarkably like a spectacled cobra ready to strike. Which raises the question: Did the loris evolve to mimic poisonous snakes? Yes, [they argued].