Cranberry Sauce

As a child I was addicted to cranberry sauce, the jellied kind that came in a can and you had to open both ends and give it a good shake before it slithered out onto the plate, a perfect cylinder with can ridges intact. I’d cut off a little red disc and eat it from my hands like a peppermint patty which I was also addicted to. Just the thought of that is making me trip all over my words so without further ado…

  1. Pour about 2 cups of frozen cranberries into a 1.5 quart saucepan.
  2. Add about 1 cup orange juice.
  3. Add enough water to cover cranberries, or until they float. I end up using about half orange juice, half water. Don’t use all orange juice.
  4. Bring to a boil and simmer until it cooks down to a thick sauce. You’ll have to watch this because it can foam over, especially in the beginning, or stick to the pan, especially in the end. It will take about 10 or 15 minutes depending on how much fluid you added. Maybe 20. After years of making it I just wing it.
  5. Pour (or spoon) into a heat-resistant container that accepts a hand blender. I stir in a sprinkle of cinnamon and a teaspoon or two of sugar before it cools.
  6. When cool, blend on high with a hand blender. Because it’s thick you’ll have to stop once or twice to scrape off the sauce that sticks to the outside of the wand. I don’t strain away any skins and blending doesn’t get rid of all of them but it’s good enough for me.

We add this to berries and oatmeal or baked apples. Mostly I just spoon it out of the jar when I pass the refrigerator.

Pomegranates And Berries Contain Compounds That Work With Gut Bacteria To Strengthen Colon Lining, Reduce Inflammation

The title is a synopsis of this post. The key phrase there is “gut bacteria” which you can read about further down.

Press release: Metabolite Produced By Gut Microbiota From Pomegranates Reduces Inflammatory Bowel Disease, EurekAlert, 9 January 2019

Scientists at the University of Louisville have shown that a microbial metabolite, Urolithin A, derived from a compound found in berries and pomegranates, can reduce and protect against inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Millions of people worldwide suffer from IBD in the form of either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

Actual study: Enhancement Of The Gut Barrier Integrity By A Microbial Metabolite Through The Nrf2 Pathway, Nature Communications, 9 January 2019

We demonstrate that UroA and UAS03 exert their barrier functions through activation of … pathways to upregulate epithelial tight junction proteins. Importantly, treatment with these compounds attenuated colitis in pre-clinical models by remedying barrier dysfunction in addition to anti-inflammatory activities. Cumulatively, the results highlight how microbial metabolites provide two-pronged beneficial activities at gut epithelium by enhancing barrier functions and reducing inflammation to protect from colonic diseases.

The mechanism:

1. Eat food that contains ellagitannins (ETs) or ellagic acid (EA). Pomegranate and berries, especially raspberries, are high in EA. Chestnuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds, rose hips, grapes, cranberries, cherries, strawberries, and peaches also contain EA. More here: Phenol-Explorer and here.

2. Bacteria (certain bacteria, see below*) that live in the large intestine consume ellagic acid and give off urolithins.

3. Among urolithins, Urolithin A (UroA) was found to tighten junctions between cells that line the intestine. (Note the needle-and-thread in the graphic above.) Tight junctions prevent leaks into our body of microbes and chemicals that can cause inflammation, both locally in the intestines and systemically.

* There’s a sticking point. Only some bacteria produce UroA from ellagic acid:

The microbe Bifidobacterium pseudocatenulatum INIA P815 strain in the gut has the ability to generate UroA from ellagic acid (EA), a compound found in berries and pomegranates. Variations in UroA levels, despite consumption of foods containing EA, may be the result of varied populations of bacteria responsible for the production of UroA from one individual to another, and some individuals may not have the bacteria at all.

One researcher said that, for this to work, it “requires that we protect and harbor the appropriate gut microbiota and consume a healthy diet.” So, it’s not just about eating berries, it’s about promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, specifically Bifidobacteria strains. Looking around I see that peas, beans, legumes, members of the onion family (onions, leeks, garlic), asparagus, chicory, artichoke, wheat, oats, barley, bananas, and low-fat diets can all increase this strain. But high-fat diets, especially saturated fat/animal fat, and animal protein can decrease it.

In the end, before you can benefit from ellegic acid, you have to establish good gut bacteria. Eating a low-fat, plant-based diet can do that.

I should say … The workaround for not having enough Bifidobacteria is to take UroA (or the synthetic UAS03) directly by mouth, which they found “significantly mitigated systemic inflammation and colitis suggesting potential therapeutic applications for the treatment of IBD.” But then you’re talking about drugs, and pharmaceutical profit.

Millennials Are Burned Out?

First, a chart from Pew Research. If you were 22 to 37 years old last year, you’re a Millennial:

The author of this article says Millennials are burned out:

How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation, Anne Helen Petersen, BuzzFeedNews, 5 January 2019

“I tried to register for the 2016 election, but it was beyond the deadline by the time I tried to do it,” a man named Tim, age 27, explained to New York magazine last fall. “I hate mailing stuff; it gives me anxiety.” Tim was outlining the reasons why he, like 11 other millennials interviewed by the magazine, probably wouldn’t vote in the 2018 midterm election. “The amount of work logically isn’t that much,” he continued. “Fill out a form, mail it, go to the specific place on a specific day. But those kind of tasks can be hard for me to do if I’m not enthusiastic about it.”

Tim is burned out. The author, also a millennial, also feels burned out. She can’t get her tasks done:

None of these tasks were that hard: getting knives sharpened, taking boots to the cobbler, registering my dog for a new license, sending someone a signed copy of my book, scheduling an appointment with the dermatologist, donating books to the library, vacuuming my car. A handful of emails — one from a dear friend, one from a former student asking how my life was going — festered in my personal inbox.”

The author’s partner is also burned out:

My partner was so stymied by the multistep, incredibly (and purposefully) confusing process of submitting insurance reimbursement forms for every single week of therapy that for months he just didn’t send them — and ate over $1,000.

People the woman knows are burned out:

Another woman told me she had a package sitting unmailed in the corner of her room for over a year. A friend admitted he’s absorbed hundreds of dollars in clothes that don’t fit because he couldn’t manage to return them.

The reason tasks don’t get done?

The vast majority of these tasks shares a common denominator: Their primary beneficiary is me, but not in a way that would actually drastically improve my life. They are seemingly high-effort, low-reward tasks, and they paralyze me — not unlike the way registering to vote paralyzed millennial Tim.

The end result is that everything, from wedding celebrations to registering to vote, becomes tinged with resentment and anxiety and avoidance. Maybe my inability to get the knives sharpened is less about being lazy and more about being too good, for too long, at being a millennial.

Millennials are burned out because they are too good at being Millennials?

So, Millennials are too burned out to vote. Well, I hope Millennials vote. We need all the votes we can muster next year. Voting is not a “low-reward” task whose primary beneficiary is the person voting. Voting has profound impact on the entire population. It is because of how we vote, including how Millennials voted, that we have the President we have, the Congress we have, the courts and laws we have, the economy, regulations, healthcare, environment, on and on.

The simple acts of registering to vote and going to the polling station can be tinged, not with resentment and anxiety and avoidance, but with joy and hope.

CityLab: Your Fitness Resolution Might Be Easier If You’re Rich

Your Fitness Resolution Might Be Easier If You’re Rich, CityLab, 8 January 2019

America’s fitness-center availability tracks closely with key markers of socioeconomic class: income, education, and occupation.

Our very ability to work out and stay fit depends on our class position and where we live. The availability of fitness venues is yet another dimension of America’s great divide along class and geographic lines.

This is why Public Health matters. We want to make sure that people have access to a place to exercise regardless of their class or where they live. “Access” as I often say means more than just physical location. It means financial access, time access, ability access. The former Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, before he was unceremoniously fired by Trump, was actively promoting development of safe walking paths.

Dr. Murthy believed in Public Health. Here are a few more things he believed, from his outgoing statement:

  • Kindness is more than a virtue. It is a source of strength. If we teach our children to be kind and remind each other of the same, we can live from a place of strength, not fear.
  • We will only be successful in addressing addiction – and other illnesses – when we recognize the humanity within each of us. People are more than their disease. All of us are more than our worst mistakes.
  • Healing happens when we are able to truly talk to and connect with each other. That means listening and understanding. It means assuming good, not the worst. It means pausing before we judge.
  • The world is locked in a struggle between love and fear. Choose love. Always. It is the world’s oldest medicine.

Why would you let go of a person like this?

The Holidays Are A Risk Factor For Death

The American Heart Association says that the Holidays are a risk factor for death.

Cardiac Mortality Is Higher Around Christmas and New Year’s Than at Any Other Time, The Holidays as a Risk Factor for Death, Circulation, December 2004

Our findings suggest that the Christmas/New Year’s holidays are a risk factor for cardiac and noncardiac mortality. … The excess in holiday mortality is growing proportionately larger over time, both for cardiac and noncardiac mortality.

More cardiac deaths occur on December 25 than on any other day of the year; the second largest number of cardiac deaths occurs on December 26, and the third largest number occurs on January 1.

Figure 2. Daily US cardiac deaths, 1979 –2001, for [dead on arrival / emergency department /outpatients] . Solid line indicates the observed number of deaths for each day of the year, summed over the study period. Dotted regression line indicates the expected number of deaths for each day, given seasonal fluctuations and the null hypothesis that mortality is unaffected by the holidays.

The epidemiological data used in this article are appropriate for examining a large (>53 million), nationwide, multiyear dataset and for demonstrating the existence of a previously unknown double spike in cardiac and noncardiac mortality; however, our data are not appropriate for definitively identifying the detailed causes of this double spike.

Why do you think more people die on December 25th, December 26th, and January 1st?

New Study Says Food Allergies Are More Common And Severe Than Thought, Nearly Half Starting In Adulthood

What’s unique about this study is that it was looking at adults. Studies before now primarily looked at children.

Prevalence and Severity of Food Allergies Among US Adults, JAMA Network, 4 January 2019

Conclusions: These data suggest that at least 10.8% (>26 million) of US adults are food allergic, whereas nearly 19% of adults believe that they have a food allergy.

Nearly half of food-allergic adults had at least 1 adult-onset food allergy, and 38% reported at least 1 food allergy–related emergency department visit in their lifetime.

So, over 10 million adults may have acquired their allergy later in life.

These were the most common food allergens among US adults:

  • Shellfish (affecting an estimated 7.2 million adults)
  • Milk (4.7 million adults)
  • Peanut (4.5 million)
  • Tree nut (3.0 million)
  • Fin fish (2.2 million)
  • Egg (2.0 million)
  • Wheat (2.0 million)
  • Soy (1.5 million)
  • Sesame (0.5 million)

That shellfish allergy, the most common, actually begins more often in adulthood.

Here’s the thing … millions of adults are fine, living their lives, no problem, then one day they eat a shrimp or an almond or some peonut butter and have a reaction so bad they need epinephrine to survive.* What’s going on? Why is there an increase in these allergies? (“Studies suggest that rates of food allergy–related emergency department visits may be increasing among children and young adults.”)

* “All patients diagnosed with a food allergy should be prescribed epinephrine because of the inability to accurately and reliably estimate the severity of future allergic reactions.”

A food intolerance, like lactose intolerance, is not a food allergy:

Pysical reactions to certain foods are common, but most are caused by a food intolerance rather than a food allergy. A food intolerance can cause some of the same signs and symptoms as a food allergy, so people often confuse the two.

A true food allergy causes an immune system reaction that affects numerous organs in the body. It can cause a range of symptoms. In some cases, an allergic food reaction can be severe or life-threatening. In contrast, food intolerance symptoms are generally less serious and often limited to digestive problems.

We really need to figure out why so many people, young and old, are developing food allergies. But, remember this?

Generic drugmaker Mylan obtained the rights to sell EpiPen in 2007. Since then, Mylan has increased the list price from $94 to $609, researchers report in JAMA Internal Medicine.

If I was a drug company, I would sure salivate over 26 million Americans needing my drug, at least yearly, for the rest of their lives. (What’s 26 million times $609?)

Here’s a brief news summary of the study:
One In 10 Adults In US Has Food Allergy, But Nearly 1 In 5 Think They Do

Cancer Cells Are Addicted To Methionine, An Amino Acid Found Abundantly In Animal Food

There really are no shortage of studies that link eating animal food to cancer, either its development or its progression. Here’s another:

Essential Amino Acid In Humans, Methionine, Controls Cell Growth Programs, Eurekalert, 4 January, 2019

Our findings on how cells perceive methionine as a growth cue are illustrated in the simple cartoon (below). When methionine is limited, cells do not grow. When methionine is abundant, it acts as a growth signal and triggers a cascade of biochemical events, ultimately leading to cell growth.

This study provides a much-awaited explanation on the role of methionine in sustaining cell growth, and it might clarify why cancer cells are addicted to methionine for their growth.

Methionine Coordinates A Hierarchically Organized Anabolic Program Enabling Proliferation, Molecular Biology of the Cell, 2018

I wrote about this in 2015: When You Starve Cancer Cells Of Methionine, They Die.

Dr. Greger’s video, Starving Cancer with Methionine Restriction, includes this graph that shows fish, chicken, red meat, eggs, and milk contain higher amounts of methionine, while fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains, and beans contain lower amounts:

You can get enough methionine from a plant-based diet. Here are 14 elite vegan athletes. You probably get too much methionine on a diet that includes animal food every day.