Archives

Category Archive for: ‘Nutrition’
Tryptophan – the sleepy turkey drug?

Eat Turkey, take a nap, right?  Blame it on the tryptophan in the turkey and stick your hand in your pants and fall asleep in front of the TV while the wife cleans the house and does the dishes.  No problem, except she ate the turkey too, didn’t she?

What is Tryptophan?

Trp or W is one of the 20 essential amino acids in the human diet.  That means by definition tryptophan can not be synthesized by the body and must be obtained as part of the diet.  Amino acids are the building blocks of protein biosynthesis.  Most protein based foods contain Trp and Turkey is about the same as most other poultry.

Other Sources

If you really like Trp, you can get it in pill form at your local health food store.  People use this supplement to treat low serotonin levels, depression and as a sleep aid.  But, isn’t there always a BUT.  Read this from Wikipedia

A metabolite of tryptophan, 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), has been suggested as a treatment for epilepsy and depression, although clinical trials are regarded inconclusive and lacking. Since 5-HTP readily crosses the blood-brain barrier and in addition is rapidly decarboxylated to serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT).  However, serotonin has a relatively short half-life since it is rapidly metabolized by monoamine oxidase.

Due to the conversion of 5-HTP into serotonin by the liver, there may be a significant risk of heart valve disease from serotonin’s effect on the heart.

There was a large tryptophan-related outbreak of eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) in 1989, which caused 1,500 cases of permanent disability and at least thirty-seven deaths. Some epidemiological studies traced the outbreak to L-tryptophan supplied by a Japanese manufacturer, Showa Denko KK.  It was further hypothesized that one or more trace impurities produced during the manufacture of tryptophan may have been responsible for the EMS outbreak.  The fact that the Showa Denko facility used genetically engineered bacteria to produce L-tryptophan gave rise to speculation that genetic engineering was responsible for such impurities. However, the methodology used in the initial epidemiological studies has been criticized.  An alternative explanation for the 1989 EMS outbreak is that large doses of tryptophan produce metabolites that inhibit the normal degradation of histamine, and excess histamine in turn has been proposed to cause EMS

Turkey and drowsiness

Long story short, your drowsiness after a big Turkey meal is more likely a result of eating too many carbohydrates and not the turkey.  The consumption of large amounts of carbs that are high on the Glycemic index cause the bodies blood sugar to elevate and then the pancreas kicks in to off set the amount of sugar in the blood by producing insulin.  Insulin then stimulates the uptake of the large branch-chain amino acids, but not tryptophan into the muscles.  That increases the ratio of tryptophan to Branched-chain amino acids in the blood stream.  That increased ratio makes it possible for the tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier and then to be converted to serotonin.  Serotonin is later converted to melatonin by the pineal gland which then causes drowsiness.  The same thing happens when you drink or eat a lot of sweets in the morning then later “crash”.

Conclusions

Now that we understand that it is simple carbs and sugar that cause our sleepiness after a big meal, we need to fess up to the fact that either our wives don’t eat the same meal as we do or we are just a touch lazy.  Just my opinion, your results may vary.  – jughandle

 

Cross Shrimp Off Your Party List

I just read a disturbing report titled “5 Reasons To Never Eat Shrimp Again” From Prevention Mag’s blog.

Shrimping has changed

Mostly gone are the days of Bubba Gump’s shimp boats with nets.  Now, picture huge nets in the ocean supported by colorful plastic boxes, or even more commonly, dozens of rice paddy like ponds filled with shrimp.  Easy catch, easily processed by hundreds of underpaid, government subsidized workers.

shrimp-farm  Shrimp farm aerial original.jpg  shrimpfarms608

This process is known as shrimp farming.  Farming shrimp began in the 1970 and has grown rapidly mostly in Asian countries such as Thailand.  Here in lies the problem.  The majority of shrimp purchased in the US has been imported from these overseas farms.  Because the shrimp are “farmed” in foreign countries, the US has little or no control over the conditions the shrimp are raised in and ultimately the quality and safety of the shrimp.

Chemicals

In order to increase the profitability of the farms, shrimp are packed into shallow ponds while ingesting their own waste materials.  Complete “crops” of shrimp can be lost to disease or parasites.  To prevent these expensive loses farmers dose the ponds with high levels of antibiotics and pesticides.  These chemicals, many times, are ones currently banned for use in the United States.  If you are counting on the FDA to protect you, think again.  According to a 2011 report, only 1% of imported seafood is tested for these chemicals.

Feed Lots

Do these methods of growing protein sound familiar?  They do to me.  It is exactly like cattle fed lots and fowl houses.  Animals are packed into small areas where they graze, walk and even feed on their own waste.  When conditions cause disease, no problem, just dose them with antibiotics and when the feces attract flies, tics, fleas, lice, mites and other disease carrying pests, again, no problem, just spray them all with pesticides.

cattle-feedlot-002 cattle-feedlot-spray Chicken-farm-11-29-111 Chicken spraying

Global Warming

You may wonder, as I did, how shrimp farming can contribute to global warming.  It seems that since the 1970’s shrimp farming has proven so profitable that the major farming countries, Thailand, Ecuador, Indonesia, China, Mexico and Vietnam have been cutting down their mangrove forests to make room for more ponds.  Mangrove forests absorb more carbon dioxide than any other ecosystem in the world, including the rain forests.  Not only that, but mangroves are breeding grounds for all types of sea creatures and their extensive root system prevents erosion during storms.

The Wild-caught Alternative

So, I will just eat wild-caught shrimp, just as I only eat wild-caught salmon.  Not so fast.  Wild-caught shrimping is extremely wasteful.  For every pound of shrimp caught, there can be as much as 5 pounds of by-catch, which are other species caught in the nets.  Much is written about the endangered turtles being killed by these nets so I won’t go on.  Looks like I will be giving up shrimp all together.  Crayfish are almost the same thing and can be farmed in the US.  Crayfish are bottom feeders and live in fresh water.

We Need To Stop Eating Sea Food

My job is to point out to you the problems I find.  Your job is to prove me right or wrong or ask me enough questions to more deeply explore the problem.  I have pointed out that the problem is little or no regulation on imported sea food of all kinds to this country.  I’m telling you to stop eating all imported and wild caught sea food.  Your turn. – jughandle

Do your own research, prove me wrong, please prove me wrong, because I’m seeing this as a serious problem!

 

 

The Elephant In The Room
Big boy in the room

The elephant in the room

The elephant.  Ever been in a room full of people and everyone there knows they have a “big” something to talk about but no one wants to be “that guy” who first mentions “the Elephant in the Room”?

I have come to the point where I am both “that guy” and I am also “the Elephant in the Room”, quite literally.

Recent Past

I have been posting this blog for over 3 years.  My posts have been health and quality of life related for the most part.  I have tried not to be preachy, choosing to take the high road and “suggest” that we as a group or generation, or even society, are slowly killing ourselves with our food choices and dietary habits.  I’ve tried to locate alternative choices and explore diets ranging from vegan to the South Beach diet.  I have never asked you to do anything that I haven’t tried first.  I have dug deeply into any possible side effects or physical changes that might result from maintaining any type of diet.  I have shed light on food additives such as HFCS, flavor enhancers and color additives.  I told you that if you avoid these things you could not only live a healthier life but enjoy your remaining time on earth more.   Now it is time for me to pay the piper.

hospital photo

Condition

I am not going to labor on my various physical factors that may or may not have gotten me to the point of being the Elephant.  Doesn’t matter.  I am the result of what I have eaten and have not burned off over a period of years.  Yes I, as most people in the world, have challenges that make my path to a leaner me more difficult, but that only makes my choices more interesting.

human with head in sand ostrich with head in sand

Ostrich Inflicted People Stop Here

If you have the ostrich syndrome and have your head buried in the sand or even live on the Egyptian river De-Nile, Stop reading now.  BUT before you do, take off your clothes and stand in front of a mirror and ask your self  “self, is this the way I want to look for the rest of my life?

Elephant-Friend-1920x1080

Note To Friends and Family

If you are still reading then there might be hope for us yet.

I have to say that as I have been getting larger not a single person has given me grief about my weight.  Honestly, I don’t remember a single negative remark, which tells me three things.

  1.  Either I am such a mean SOB that people are afraid to make suggestions to me of that nature
  2. My friends and family don’t care about me.  (I know for a fact this one is not true, in fact I feel that they love me very much)
  3. My friends and family see a broken, fat, old, once at the top of his game, man and feel sorry for him.

Personally I’m pretty sure it is a combination of #1 and 3.

Not a single person in the world (correct me if I am wrong) looks in the mirror and can see the real image being projected.  I’m not sure why that is, but we all tend to see ourselves as we would like us to be, with a little fudge factor thrown in.

Please don’t read into this that I am blaming my friends and family for not telling me I was getting fat.  I don’t.  In fact I totally believe in taking full responsibility for, not only our own actions, but the results of our inaction.

The Piper To Pay

My piper weighed 308 lbs as of December 11, 2013.  Yep, that is one hell of a piper and he now has his hand out and wants to be paid!

elephand eating

Method

As a result of my 3 years of blogging about diets ranging from no meat, no carbs, no protein, no soda, no starches to all soup, all protein, all carbs, all water, and many variations in between, I have become completely convinced  that the diet that will work best for all of us is a balanced diet, mostly vegetables, avoiding additives, processed food and drinking lots of water.  Ever heard that before?  One thing I feel is very important to our digestive tract is to vary our diet.  This is important because our system can adjust to almost anything and in order to flush the toxins we take in we need to surprise our system with different food on a regular basis, lol.

poop

Keeping Track

So, all of that said, I will be eating any food I would like but in balanced amounts.  I will regulate and lose weight by limiting my intake to between 1890 and 2240 calories per day.  Of those calories, 50-60 percent will be carbohydrates, mostly complex carbs.  12-20 percent will be protein and 30 percent will be fat, mostly unsaturated fats.

I will use a free on line program to track my food, water and exercises called www.sparkpeople.com

elephant-painting-itself1

Goal – Stage 1

Sparkpeople has calculated, that for me to lose down to 250 lbs, my stage 1 goal by July 1, 2014, I need an in-take of between 1890 and 2240 calories per day.  That shouldn’t be hard.  If I crave things, I will eat them, but only under my limits.

Elephant-with ball

Join Me – or Not

This is for me.  Join me, I’d love it.  Tell me your problems, challenges, successes.  Or Not.  You can blow this off as another lame jughandle blog.  (then why are you reading this)

If you see me, make fun of me, congratulate me or ignore me.  Your choice.  A ride is always more fun with a companion.

I will post pictures and stories about things I discover.  It will be another adventure!

herd of elephants

Day 1 Results

Calories – 1097

Carbs – 146 g

Fat – 38 g

Protein – 41 g

8 oz glasses of water – 5

Weight gain or loss – Lost 3 #

Current weight of Piper – 305#

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kidney Stones

Some of you are aware that I have been suffering from kidney stones for the last 2 years.  I also have a birth defect where I only have one functioning kidney.  When I get a stone that achieves sufficient size to become lodged in my ureter, or urethra, I am in serious trouble.  Different pain for each location, but the result is always the same – 4 to 12 hours of intense back and stomach pain followed by a rush to the hospital ER almost always at night and/or on the weekend.  Then CT scan (I’ve had 38 in my life) followed by a visit by the attending only to tell me the stone size and location and that a nurse will give me pain meds until my doctor can perform a scope procedure in the morning some time.  By the time I get to the OR the next day I’m willing to do anything.  The pain meds don’t do crap.  Don’t let anyone fool you.  Even morphine only lasts minutes at best.  Really the only relief I get is to induce vomiting, I don’t know why.  This has happened 6 times in the last 2 years.  4 times this year alone.  Oh yeah, I’m self insured, which is another story for another day.  Don’t let this happen to you.

Oh by the way.  If you do happen to have two functioning kidneys, chances are the ER will just send you home until you pass the stone if it isn’t too big to pass.

hospital photo   scope

The Procedure


My urology group has 12 doctors practicing, all of which I would trust with my life (I’ve used 6 of them).  They range in age from just out of school, I’m guessing 30-32 to about to retire, 60-65.  I mention their age because interestingly enough the younger doctors are usually better at this video game like procedure than the older ones.  They have to be able to remotely search for  any problem and grab the stone(s) with the tong and either remove the stone or use a laser to break the stone up into more manageable sizes.  All of this has to be done quickly, because the activity causes the ureter to swell around the tool.  Finally, prior to exit, because of the swelling, a stint, roughly 20 inch long is placed in the kidney to extend down the ureter into the bladder to keep the ureter open while it heals.

Now if you are following me and are quick, you might be thinking how the heck are they going to get that stint out?  Ah yes, turns out there are two ways.  One way which I have experienced 5 times, is to have a string attached to the stint that continues from the bladder out the urethra and is taped to my privates.  After 3 or 4 days I go back to the doctors office and the PA (physicians assistant), un-tapes the string and pulls like crazy to remove it.  Believe me it is a rush and not in a good way.  The second way, which I recently experienced, is to have no string but to be scoped again with another device in an outpatient procedure, while NOT under sedation, to grab and remove by pulling everything out.  I had the stint in my kidney for 5 months.  I couldn’t do anything but lay flat on my back and stare at the ceiling.  The pain of the removal was short comparably.

I usually awaken to the smiling face of the recovery nurse telling me to take deep breaths.  The anesthesia doesn’t make me as sick as it used to.  I’m close with a first rate anesthetist.

I am writing this blog not to complain about my pitiful plight, but to tell you about the cure that my doctor and I discovered, at least for me.

The Cause

There are at least 5 different types of kidney stones that form in different sizes and shapes.  No one really can put a finger on what happens to the body to trigger this situation other than the body chemistry changes.  In my case, we have found that I had been screwing around with my diet to try and improve my health and did just the opposite.  I made my blood and urine pH (potential hydrogen), which is the measure of acid or alkalinity, to become very acidic (pH of 5)to the point of acidosis .  This condition caused the balance of oxilate, calcium and uric acid to be completely thrown off in my blood and urine.  Instead of combining with the calcium in my body to be removed in my stool, the extra uric acid, in my case, formed stones in my joints and kidney.  In extreme cases stones can also form in your brain.  In the joints its called Gout.  In the kidney it causes back pain (that’s were the kidneys are) and radiating stomach pain.  It’s when the stones break loose that the real trouble starts.

phtestigenstripsph - ion

The Solution

During my last procedure 5 months ago, the doctor broke up 2 large stones which he couldn’t remove because of their size and location.  He thought the stones looked like uric acid stones.  That was the good news.  Uric acid stones can some times be dissolved if the urine pH can be consistently maintained at 7 pH or above.  I took potassium citrate pills for 5 months and eventually a CT showed that the stones had indeed dissolved.

water from the tap

Long Term and Prevention

I know much of what I post falls on deaf ears.  This will never happen to you, will it?  I continue to post for the same reason that I would yell a warning at some one who was in the path of an approaching bus.

  • Drink lots of neutral clean water (I drink a gallon a day)
  • Eat mostly green vegetables or other alkaline foods (limes and lemons are surprisingly processed in the body as alkaline)
  • When you eat protein eat a little dairy with it, but limit proteins to 3 or 4 meals per week.
  • Test your urine with pH test strips weekly to avoid problems.
  • Learn about how to maintain a body and diet that is above 6.5 pH
  • Don’t eat sugar, sugar and anything else results in an acidic pH
  • most of all don’t believe me – do the research yourself

 

Neutral pH is the sum of all things Healthy

Neutral pH

I’ve been exploring the healthy life style for several years now.  Until now I’ve mostly learned what NOT to do.  You know, the same things that religion teaches.  Don’t do these 10 things and have faith.  Unfortunately I was raised to question authority and find the answers myself.  That one lesson makes my life much more difficult, but also more interesting.

Don’t eat too much protein, don’t drink too much alcohol, don’t eat too much starchy food, drink lots of water, etc. etc.  but WHY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

During the last 2 years I have had 6 operations to remove kidney stones from my 1 good kidney.  I’m not enjoying this procedure which requires cameras and tubes being forced into tiny orifices of my body leaving behind pain and damage.  I will do almost anything to stop the process.  I’ve been tested, probed, questioned, stuck and drained.   I’ve changed my diet 4 times.  I drink more water than an aquarium fish.  Still, doctors can’t tell me why or what to do, just a lot of “try this, try that, have you done that.”  Not good enough!

I have drilled down to what I believe is the lowest common denominator for our health. Neutral pH.  Simple as that.

operation

What the Heck are you saying Jug?

What? You may ask.  Good, at least you are asking questions.  To explain Neutral pH, or pH at all, with out boring you I’ll keep it simple.  pH, or Potential Hydrogen,  is a logarithmic measure of hydrogen ion concentration.  The pH scale measures how acidic or basic (alkaline) a substance is and ranges from 0 to 14.  With 7 being neutral and 0 very acidic.  Most life on this planet lives in the middle around 7.  Of course, even with in our own body pH can and does vary from a low of 1.5 to a high of 8.5.  All of that is part of the process of digestion and healing.

Short and Sweet

I’m going to stop right here.  I truly believe that this is the most important thing I’ve ever posted and I want to keep your attention.  Remember this for next time.  Protein foods metabolize as acidic in our bodies and our body can only heal itself in an alkaline environment.  Our kidney(s) eliminate acidic waste from our body, trying to reach a neutral pH. Acid in = acid out.

 

Bee Deaths Affect Our Crops

Our Bees are dying at an alarming rate.  Actually dying is the wrong word to use.  The Bees are vanishing, like something out of a science fiction movie.  If you haven’t heard about this problem yet, please let me bring you up to date.

Colony Collapse Disorder

DEAD_BEES_0930_rdax_676x456

The phenomena is known as “Colony Collapse Disorder”.  Bees have vanished in huge numbers to the point that crops such as almonds, avocados, blueberries, pears, plums and apple crops may fail THIS YEAR, as a result of nothing more than not being pollinated.  That’s right, no blight, pests or weather problems, just a lack of Bees.  The photo above is an unusual occurrence of a colony of dead bees.  Most of the time the colony just disappears.  It seems that bees are so smart that if they know or sense something is wrong with them they will basically commit suicide so not to infect the colony.

 

Experts Don’t Have A Clue

Oh sure, there are people who have good educated guesses at what might be causing the problem, but nobody knows for sure.  Could be pesticides, GMOs, a bacteria or a virus or a combination of all of those things.

 

Bee Keepers

truck of bees

bee trucks

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you think of bee keepers, most people envision a person in a funny white outfit harvesting honey from hives.  Bee keeping has made it to the “big business” scale.  There are bee keepers who travel the country in multiple tractor trailer rigs full of bees.  They hire out to large farmers for specific periods of time to let their bees loose on the farm to pollinate the crops at just the right time.

Crops

avocado tree

Hass avocados ripening

Almond tree in bloom

Almond Tree in Bloom

blueberry2 (1)

Blueberry Bush

 

Imagine no more blueberries, almonds or avocados this year

 

So, how can we save the bees?

The following is from an article in the Food Renegad written by KristenM

1. We should err on the side of the environment, rather than on the side of economic profits for the pesticide industry, and immediately ban neonicotinoids.

2. We should encourage and support local beekeepers feeding their bees honey rather than HFCS. Heck, why not start keeping your own bees?

3. We should plant bee-friendly flowers and allow the pollinators free reign in our lawns and gardens instead of immediately trying to kill any nearby hives.

4. We can encourage and support the work of researchers trying to breed sturdier bees.

The report recommends stepping up efforts to identify genetic traits in particular bees that make them resistant to suspected causes of CCD. Some honey bees, it turns out, take “suicidal risks” when infected with disease to prevent spreading the contagion to the colony.

The report also suggests importing Russian honey bees and other “Old World” bees to diversify bee breeding stock and build up CCD resistance. Scientists already have begun to stockpile bee semen and germplasm in case the worst comes to pass.
(source)

All of this together may not be enough. There are still too many unknown variables — like GMO crops where the plant itself is registered as an insecticide with the EPA.

Who can say what the long-term effect of these crops is on the honey bee population? Perhaps they are like neonicotinoids — initially appearing safe, but ultimately weakening the bees across generations.

Conclusion

As always let logic be your guide.  If you’ve never gotten behind a “cause” before, this might just bee the one to start with.  Call your local and state representatives and tell them you are worried.  They all have phone numbers with answering machines to record your concerns.  Heck, sometimes a real person will answer.  Call your extension service and ask what you can do to help.  Write me and tell me you are concerned and I’ll pass it along – jughandle

Healthy Drinks

As a rebuttal to yesterday’s post about how bad Soda is for us, I promised to post some good news.  Well, its good news, bad news.   Good news is there are good, healthy drinks to be had, but the bad news is they might be a little hard to find.

From another story by Rodale, the following are 8 healthy sodas recommended by Emily Main

What make them healthy?

In order for these 8 to make the list they had to be free of GMO (genetically modified ingredients), phosphates, preservatives and caramel coloring.  Can’t come in a can that might be coated in bisphenol-A and can’t have artificial sweeteners if they are sweetened at all.

Steaz Sparkling Green Tea

SGT_Zero_Bottle_Orange

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reed’s Light Extra Ginger Brew

brews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virgil’s Root Beer

healthy-soda-virgils

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bionade

healthy-soda-bionade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oogave

healthy-soda-oogave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kombucha

healthy-soda-kombucha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Lips Soda

healthy-soda-hotlips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fizzy Lizzy

healthy-soda-fizzylizzy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

Try new stuff, it’s fun.  If you can find any of these drinks, let me know.  Click the link to their home page where you can either find a location near you or order on line.  Be healthy.  FYI, you can always make your own from fresh ingredients.  – jughandle