Thursday, August 30, 2012

A New Perspective on Obesity

I was listening to an interview show on the radio one morning, where several medical professionals  condescendingly advised type II diabetics and people with obesity-related ailments to lose weight.  Hog swaggle!  The reason America is facing an obesity epidemic is because our medical paradigm is proving itself unable to grapple with the most serious health problem of our times.  The medical establishment weasles its way out of taking responsibility for the obesity problem  by humiliating its victims for lacking sufficient "will power."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Home Remedy for Diabetes


Who would win and who would lose if cheap apple cider  vinegar really does cure diabetes II (click here) and (here) and (here)?   Of course, sufferers of the disorder would be ecstatic, especially since medical doctors continue to insist that diabetes II is incurable.  Someone like me would find this news of a cure bitter sweet, having lost a father to complications from a disease that might have had a simple remedy.  The pharmaceutical companies that make diabetic medications would probably go bankrupt.  As for medical researchers who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in diabetes research over the years ( paid for by our tax dollars),  I would place their arrogant refusal even to test simple home remedies such as this as hovering close to criminal negligence.

 Living in Asia taught me something of profound importance as regards normal human eating behavior.  In the U.S., the medical profession manipulates the expectation of patients by saying, "well. . . vinegar might work, but only if you also lose weight and exercise."  It is as if overeating and couchpotato-ing causes diabetes rather than being consequences of the disorder itself.  When a person's blood sugar is out of kilter, cravings occur and thus the individual overeats and eschews exercise because the inevitable weight gain makes physical movement strenuous and uncomfortable.  If this vinegar cure really works, what's meant is that it re-regulates blood sugar levels so that food cravings and compulsive eating disappear and thus one loses weight as a consequence of the cure.  But why did I have to go all the way to Asia to see the proper cause-effect relationship?  Few people in that part of the world are obese. Those of normal weight, the great majority,  don't have 150 times more willpower than overweight Americans.  Nor do they spend their days battling the cookie monster.  The reason is that  craving excess sugar and carbohydrates are integral parts of the diabetic cycle.  If a person is not diabetic or pre-diabetic, the  body does not manufacture the off-kilter biochemical impulses that strips one of control over whether healthy or unhealthy food is put in the mouth.

Rather than wait for an enterprising medical outfit to write a grant proposal, get $10 million funding and then test the efficacy of vinegar as a home remedy for high blood sugar and diabetes II, I have a better idea.  Two friends of mine, who suffer with this disorder to some degree,  have decided to try the vinegar cure.  They will take two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with water (and maybe mix in a sweetener as well) each morning and evening. This is not a scientific study.  They will continue to take their physician prescribed medications until told by a doctor that they are no longer needed.   I will report back each month on this blog  as to whether the apple cider vinegar helped them or not.  I wish them luck.

7 Month Results
March 21, 2013      

GOAL:  Two friends decided that they would try the so-called apple cider vinegar "cure."  


Friend #1 is pre-diabetic with an A1C* count of 6.1 in August of 2012.
After six months, Friend #1's A1C count had dropped from 6.1. to 5.6.
But she also acknowledged that she had cut certain foods out of her diet, because these foods triggered cravings, which she believed were associated with blood sugar spikes.  The foods she stopped eating were dairy products, all forms of gluten (substituting gluten-free bread, etc.) and pork.   However, Friend #1  did not lose any weight during this period, explaining that she "was not on a diet diet." She also did not increase the amount of exercise she was receiving because of an arthritic hip.

Friend #2 is diabetic with A1C count of 7.1
After four days on the diet, Friend #2 stopped because he said the vinegar burned the inside of his mouth.  He did however suggest that stevia might be preferable to honey, because it is just as sweet but has little if any effect on blood sugar.  

*According to the Mayo Clinic: "When the A1C test is used to diagnose diabetes, an A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates you have diabetes. A result between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is considered prediabetes, which indicates a high risk of developing diabetes."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mass Shootings, the NRA and the Samurai Code of Honor

Aurora Shooter James Holmes
Lunatics who engage in mass shootings  are not as "looney" as most of us might think.  Their damaged brains feed off the messages society sends to everyone.  Only, the directives become distorted and inflated in such grotesque ways that the rest of us cannot possibly see ourselves in the shattered mirror shards of the perpetrators' minds. 

Let's,  for instance, look at the term  "honor."  When did America switch its definition of the word from "the courage to do what is right" to the cowardice to haul around a semi-automatic weapon?  What code of honor is the National Rifle Association (NRA) protecting when it so beats down politicians of both parties, that even the Democratic president of the United States cowers in its shadow.

To be manly is not to metaphorically extend the length of one's phallic organ by brandishing a rifle.  It is rather something quite different, which I find encapsulated in the word "bushido," meaning the "way of the warrior" in Japanese. It originates from the samurai moral code and stresses self-discipline, loyalty , physical bravery and the use of violence tempered by wisdom and serenity. 

Maybe I've been watching too many of my ten year old son's kung fu movies.  Or maybe the NRA has not been watching enough of them.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Will Autism Study Devastate "Trophy Wife" Industry?

A lively discussion on the new autism study in Nature, linking the disorder to older fathers erupted in the comments section of the Wall Street Journal. The level of skepticism among responders puzzled me at first. But then I remembered a devilish little concept called "trophy wives." You know, the young and attractive women that older men marry as a status symbol after walking out on the exhausted wife from the first marriage who sacrificed to put him through Business School. And bytheway, in breaking up the marriage, this  guy is also abandoning physically healthy children who are now emotionally bruised by divorce.  

No wonder some readers found this research distasteful, in asserting that the sperm of older men have a greater number of mutations, which lead to autism and other brain disorders.   What’s the point of having a trophy wife, and a young new familly if she and you both have to spend your yacht-time catering to the special needs of an autistic child.

The researchers' genetic findings appear far more sound than previous theories that blamed the problem on childhood vaccinations. The misunderstanding may have arisen because a child's autistic symptoms begin to express themselves at the same age as certain vaccinations that are recommended for kids.

My Questions

But I must admit to having a few of my own questions about the study. If working on autism is such a priority in this United States, why do researchers have to go all the way to Iceland and study a population that is genetically remote from most Americans?

There's something else about this study that I find down right annoying. How much would it have cost for these or another group of autism reseachers to, for verification purposes, have put together a list of autistic children in the U.S. alongside information about each father's age at the time the child was conceived? Those findings supported by the recently published genetic study would give us a clear-cut answer to the etiology of this disorder.

Or maybe that's the problem. If finding the answer to a serious medical question costs $1500 rather than $15 million, laboratories and research facilities have no incentive to conduct the study. Of course I could devote a weekend or two to gathering the information myself. But being a historian rather than a medical researcher, my findings would not get published in any peer-reviewed medical journals. In short, no one would see the results of the study except you loyal few who read this blog.  However. . . at the prodding of one of my students,  I'll get to work on this little project anyway and report back to you with the findings in several weeks.

If anyone has an answer to these  questions, please help me out here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Do American Athletes Have Secret Advantage over Chinese Counterparts?

China has a population of  1.3 billion  compared to the United States’s 311 million.   As the standard of living rises throughout China, their athletes will perform at higher and higher levels.  But America has a unique, historical advantage that no other society can beat, despite the overwhelming population that a country like China enjoys.   It is the genetic benefits that nature bestows on admixed, that is, multi-racial populations.    

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why America Will Continue to Beat China in Olympic Gold

 Gabby Douglas Hugs her Chinese Coach
The US team bagged 104 medals compared to China’s 88. The Chinese government press, disappointed that their athletes had not achieved a first-ever blowout for China, blamed their second place finish on the differences in physique between Chinese and Americans. The Chinese People’s Daily newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party grumbled:

The Chinese shouldn’t compete with the United States because Westerners have bigger chests and heads.

 I  was about to dismiss this comment as pure sore-grapes-silliness, when something else occurred to me.  The Chinese may indeed be right, but not in the way they think. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Whoever Instigated Criticism of Gabby Douglas's Hair Should be Held Responsible

The social media not only magnifies cattiness. It does so with the resolution of an electron microscope.  I assume  whoever started this business criticizing  American gymnast, Gabby Douglas's hair is gloating now that the gymnast, who made history for winning two gold medals in gymnastics, finished dead last in the uneven bars final.  Gabby was heartbroken by the hair criticism.  Her mother Natalie Hawkins commented: 
“How ignorant is it of people to comment on her hair and she still has more competitions to go. Are you trying to ruin her self confidence? . . .She has to go out there and feel good about herself, and if she feels good about herself on that floor, who are you to criticize her? What have you done to help contribute to her dream, that you felt it necessary to put it out there so that she could see it.” 
 Having humiliated this beautiful girl with trash,  I think it's time for us to do the same with whomever started this rumor.  In fact, we should plop the rumor-monger onto a balance beam and videotape her hopeless flopping around on the thing.  The cameras should zero in on her mussed-up hair as she unceremoniously crawls off the gym floor.  Now that would be a performance worthy of twittering around the world. And if this business started with a black woman, as I suspect it does, it may be time for all of us sisters to have what might turn out to be the most painful conversation of our lives -- about hair.   As for me, nothing will ever mar my elation at witnessing the moments of perfection that earned Gabby gold medals in both the individual and team gymnastics.  The performances lasted mere seconds.  But they will be etched in my soul forever.    Of course I would have to admit some chauvinistic pride in the fact that she is an African-American,the first woman of color in Olympic history to become the individual all-around champion, and the first American gymnast of any race to win gold in both the individual and all-around and team competitions at the same Olympic games.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Intellectualizing the Aurora Shooter

Aurora Shooter James Holmes
Yummy. . . yum.  The American public is about to be entertained with the fencing and parrying of lawyers in the case of a young man, who shot 70 people, killing 12 of them in a Colorado movie theater. According to an article in the New York Times:
The prosecution of James E. Holmes for the slaughter in a Colorado movie theater last month differs from most criminal proceedings because there is so little doubt that he is the perpetrator. But that will not make it easier.   Participants in the case, likely to be a drawn-out one, will wrestle with some of the most contested concepts in American law — sanity, an impartial jury and the political pressures for punishment in a deeply wounded community.
But why not forego the buttered popcorn and all that salivating over the legal intricacies of a case in which everyone knows the man is guilty, and focus instead on getting falsely-accused minorities out of jail.   The very notion that legal experts could draw intellectual stimulation  from the so-called complexities of the Aurora case makes me want to vomit.  What if instead they turned their agile  legal minds to equalizing the criminal justice system so that 90% of all prison inmates were not minorities or poor whites?  

Or maybe I'm missing the point.  What is the best way for American society to convince itself that it has a functioning criminal justice system, when the opposite is the case?  It might be to intellectualize the most visible cases, while continuing to do what it does best -- incarcerate shamefully disproportionate numbers of blacks, Hispanics and poor whites.