Wine, Beer, and Espresso are good for you

Ode to Dionysus
Ode to Dionysus

Dark wine, hoppy beer, and dark roast coffee or espresso – sounds like my typical day’s consumption!

Excerpt from an interview with Jo Robinson on the topic of phytonutrient intake…

Tom Philpott, Mother Jones:  Now that we’re talking about my favorite stuff, we may as well discuss some of my vices. What wine grape varietals are especially high in phytos?

Jo Robinson: Almost invariably, most of them [wine grape varietals] are higher in phytonutrients than the one we eat fresh, table grapes, and the exceptions would be black and red table grapes, some of them approach the ones that we make wine out of.

MJ: Great. But any differences among them—say, cabernet vs. pinot noir?

JR: Of course, red wines are much higher in phytonutrients than white wines. In terms of reds, pinot noir is kind of middle of the road in terms of antioxidant activity, because in a way you can just hold that bottle of red wine up to the light and the darker it is, denser, the more phytonutrients it contains. So the ones that are really high are cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and Sangiovese. Also, oak-aged wines—oak has a lot of phytonutrients in it which gets into the wine.

MJ: Damn it. I like my lighter red wines. Guess I just have to up my intake! Is it true that hops in beer are excellent for you?

JR: Yes. Hops are bitter—and very high in phytonutrients. So the higher the hop content, the better the beer is for you, and the more bitter it tastes. What’s so interesting in this culture is that we’re very bitter-adverse, which means that we select things that are unusually low in phytonutrients. So the best-selling beer in this country, is Bud Light.

MJ: Red wine, check, hoppy beer, check. Let’s go for the triple crown of my vices. Coffee?

JR: Coffee is very high in something called chlorogenic acid, which is a good phytonutrient, and the darker the brew, the better. Espresso is particularly high, because it tends to be darker roasted.

MJ: Darker roasts are better…really?

JR: Roasting introduces another factor—it caramelizes some of the sugars in coffee, and that caramelization process increases the antioxidant activity. Dark-roasted espresso… is favored throughout many European countries.  

(click here to continue reading Cook Your Berries. Drink Dark-Roast Coffee Instead of Light. Let Your Garlic Sit. | Mother Jones.)

Bengali Tiger
Bengali Tiger

A Salute to Crema
A Salute to Crema

Tues Link Dump – May 28th, 2013

Let Me Follow You Down
Let Me Follow You Down

Since I’m unable to actually take the time to write up blog posts for these tidbits, I’ll let you create your own commentary. No gambling.

Flame retardants in furniture and baby products on the way out

Her Teeth were White Lies

Her Teeth were White Lies

Earlier today…

In a move that could affect consumers nationwide, California officials Friday unveiled plans to scrap an obscure 1975 rule that led to the widespread use of toxic flame retardants in upholstered furniture and baby products in American homes. The proposed changes would require upholstery fabric to resist a smoldering cigarette — the biggest cause of furniture fires. California currently requires the foam cushioning underneath to withstand a candlelike flame for 12 seconds, a standard manufacturers meet by adding flame-retardant chemicals. The rule also has been applied to baby products such as diaper-changing pads, highchairs and nursery rockers. If the changes are adopted later this year, scores of new household products might soon be free of flame retardants linked to cancer, developmental problems, lower IQ and impaired fertility. Studies show the chemicals migrate out of products into household dust ingested by people, especially young children who play on the floor…

Flame retardants in furniture and baby products on the way out –

Why 64.8 percent of Americans didn’t get a flu shot

Earlier today…

Why are flu vaccination rates so low? Lori Uscher-Pines, a policy researcher at the RAND Corp., estimates that part of the issue has to do with no consequences for not getting vaccinated (well, except for coming down with the flu). Unlike childhood vaccines, which are generally required to start a school year, employers don’t stop their workers’ from coming to work if they cannot prove flu immunization.
“Children have regular encounters like well child visits where they get vaccinated,” she said. “There’s a constant contact with the health-care system.”
Americans also tend to have negative perceptions about the flu vaccine. A study Uscher-Pines did in 2011 found that about half of those who did not get vaccinated agreed with statements such as “I don’t need it” or “I don’t believe in flu vaccines.”

This year’s flu vaccine is 62 percent effective, meaning that those who receive the vaccination are 62 percent less likely to develop the flu than those who don’t. That does leave space for someone who receives the vaccine to become sick but, as public health officials would argue, gives them better odds than an individual without any protection at all.

Why 64.8 percent of Americans didn’t get a flu shot

Yummy Cadmium-Tainted Rice From China

Rice, Steam and Wine

Well, possibly. I wonder what percentage of U.S. rice is imported from China these days?

Move aside, melamine. Cadmium-tainted rice might be China’s new scare of the season.

In a recent study, researchers from the Nanjing Agricultural University found 10 to 60 percent of the rice sold in markets in six regions contained cadmium, a heavy metal associated with high blood pressure, fluid accumulation in the lungs and a potentially fatal softening of the bones.

In some samples, the cadmium level was found to be equal to five times of the legal maximum, the researchers said.

A China Daily report on the discovery is careful to include caveats.

For one thing, the report says, the pollution is confined to a few, mostly southern, regions. For another, the samples were taken in 2007 and 2008, according to the findings, originally published in Century Weekly magazine.

(click here to continue reading China’s Newest Food Scare? Cadmium-Tainted Rice – China Real Time Report – WSJ.)


Afghanistan and Toxic Sand

Sounds like another reason to leave Afghanistan sooner than later.

Messages from Above

U.S. troops already face plenty of threats in Afghanistan: AK-47–wielding insurgents, improvised bombs, an intransigent and incompetent government. Now add a less familiar challenge to that list of woes: Afghanistan’s toxic sand.

The pulverized turf, it turns out, contains high levels of manganese, silicon, iron, magnesium, aluminum, chromium and other metals that act as neurotoxic agents when ingested. Combine the country’s frequent sandstorms and the kicked-up dust that results from helicopter travel with troops’ nostrils, mouths and pores, and you’ve got an unexpected example of how inhospitable the terrain is for the soon-to-be 98,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines fighting the war.

That’s all according to new research presented this month to a neurotoxicology conference in Oregon by a senior scientist with the Navy Environmental Health Effects Laboratory. That scientist, Palur G. Gunasekar, tells Politics Daily’s Sheila Kaplan that “[a]s the sand extract dose increases at the higher concentration you see cell death.”

(click to continue reading U.S. Troops Face New Threat: Afghanistan’s Toxic Sand | Danger Room |


THC Research continues

Hard to imagine another pharmaceutical that receives so much resistance to even being studied. Perhaps the problem is that cannabis is not patented by Pfizer, anyone can grow their own, in pretty much the entire world. Hard for Big Pharma to realize profits on a medically significant weed.

Forest Of Asparagus

while the medical marijuana movement has been generating political news, some researchers have been quietly moving in new directions — testing cannabis and its derivatives against a host of diseases. The scientific literature now brims with potential uses for cannabis that extend beyond its well-known abilities to fend off nausea and block pain in people with cancer and AIDS. Cannabis derivatives may combat multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory conditions, the new research finds. Cannabis may even kill cancerous tumors.

Many in the scientific community are now keen to see if this potential will be fulfilled, but they haven’t always been. Pharmacologist Roger Pertwee of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland recalls attending scientific conferences 30 years ago, eager to present his latest findings on the therapeutic effects of cannabis. It was a hard sell.

“Our talks would be scheduled at the end of the day, and our posters would be stuck in the corner somewhere,” he says. “That’s all changed.”

(click to continue reading Not Just A High – Science News.)

Let there be (vintage) light

and the mechanism of action:

A bigger revelation came in 1992: Mammals make their own compound that binds to, and switches on, the CB1 receptor. Scientists named the compound anandamide. Researchers soon found its counterpart that binds mainly to the CB2 receptor, calling that one 2AG, for 2-arachidonyl glycerol. The body routinely makes these compounds, called endocannabinoids, and sends them into action as needed.

“At that point, this became a very, very respectable field,” says Mechoulam, now at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who along with Pertwee and others reported the anandamide discovery in Science. “THC just mimics the effects of these compounds in our bodies,” Mechoulam says. Although the receptors are abundant, anandamide and 2AG are short-acting compounds, so their effects are fleeting.

In contrast, when a person consumes cannabis, a flood of THC molecules bind to thousands of CB1 and CB2 receptors, with longer-lasting effects. The binding triggers so many internal changes that, decades after the receptors’ discovery, scientists are still sorting out the effects. From a biological standpoint, smoking pot to get high is like starting up a semitruck just to listen to the radio. There’s a lot more going on.

Though the psychoactive effect of THC has slowed approval for cannabis-based drugs, the high might also have brought on a serendipitous discovery, says neurologist Ethan Russo, senior medical adviser for GW Pharmaceuticals, which is based in Porton Down, England. “How much longer would it have taken us to figure out the endocannabinoid system if cannabis didn’t happen to have these unusual effects on human physiology?”

Bitter Foods and Liver Health

At the risk of over-sharing, I’ll just mention that my doctor1 suggested I add bitter foods to my diet to encourage liver health. Glancing at this list, I notice that most of these items are already part of my diet – meaning I like them – so eating more of these things won’t be a burden.

Arugula Salad

  • bitter melon
  • citrus peel
  • unsweetened chocolate
  • dandelion greens
  • escarole
  • quinine (tonic water)
  • mustard greens
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • turnip
  • Chinese cabbage
  • radish
  • horseradish
  • watercress
  • soy products
  • cheeses (some)
  • miso
  • kale
  • arugula
  • brussel sprouts
  • artichoke
  • grapefruit
  • zucchini
  • radicchio
  • bread
  • asparagus
  • kohlrabi

Unsweetened chocolate is on the list, though that food I’m not planning on eating much of. Also uncured olives are mentioned. You’d have to be pretty damn dedicated to eat one of those: when I was hanging out in Tuscany, the Baccis jokingly gave me a olive fresh off of an olive tree. So astringent that my mouth didn’t recover for hours, took lots and lots of good Chianti before my tongue worked again. They laughed and laughed, and I did too.

Meyer Lemons

Meyer Lemons

Not sure why bitter foods help the liver, I’ll have to look into that, but since I enjoy eating these things anyway, I don’t mind making the effort to eat more.

My blood work will be completed by next week.

  1. Dr. Andrea Rentea []

Hallucinogens Have Doctors Tuning In Again

Not surprising really, the argument against this class of entheogens being made illegal was always fairly weak, and coupled with cultural nonsense, and not scientific reality. In fact, before the rise of Reagan and Nixon and similar finger-waggers, there was a lot of very interesting research being conducted with LSD, with mescaline, with psilocybin. We blogged about this new research in 2006 too.

Shiitake mushrooms from

Scientists are taking a new look at hallucinogens, which became taboo among regulators after enthusiasts like Timothy Leary promoted them in the 1960s with the slogan “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Now, using rigorous protocols and safeguards, scientists have won permission to study once again the drugs’ potential for treating mental problems and illuminating the nature of consciousness.

After taking the hallucinogen, Dr. Martin put on an eye mask and headphones, and lay on a couch listening to classical music as he contemplated the universe.

“All of a sudden, everything familiar started evaporating,” he recalled. “Imagine you fall off a boat out in the open ocean, and you turn around, and the boat is gone. And then the water’s gone. And then you’re gone.”

Today, more than a year later, Dr. Martin credits that six-hour experience with helping him overcome his depression and profoundly transforming his relationships with his daughter and friends. He ranks it among the most meaningful events of his life, which makes him a fairly typical member of a growing club of experimental subjects.

Researchers from around the world are gathering this week in San Jose, Calif., for the largest conference on psychedelic science held in the United States in four decades. They plan to discuss studies of psilocybin and other psychedelics for treating depression in cancer patients, obsessive-compulsive disorder, end-of-life anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction to drugs or alcohol.

[Click to continue reading Hallucinogens Have Doctors Tuning In Again –]

Johnny Depp and some psychoactive mushrooms

Let’s hope the research continues unabated, and uncoupled from the Drug War ridiculousness. If you want to read Dr. Griffiths study, it is available in PDF form at this website.

Since that study, which was published in 2008, Dr. Griffiths and his colleagues have gone on to give psilocybin to people dealing with cancer and depression, like Dr. Martin, the retired psychologist from Vancouver. Dr. Martin’s experience is fairly typical, Dr. Griffiths said: an improved outlook on life after an experience in which the boundaries between the self and others disappear.

In interviews, Dr. Martin and other subjects described their egos and bodies vanishing as they felt part of some larger state of consciousness in which their personal worries and insecurities vanished. They found themselves reviewing past relationships with lovers and relatives with a new sense of empathy.

“It was a whole personality shift for me,” Dr. Martin said. “I wasn’t any longer attached to my performance and trying to control things. I could see that the really good things in life will happen if you just show up and share your natural enthusiasms with people. You have a feeling of attunement with other people.”

The subjects’ reports mirrored so closely the accounts of religious mystical experiences, Dr. Griffiths said, that it seems likely the human brain is wired to undergo these “unitive” experiences, perhaps because of some evolutionary advantage.

“This feeling that we’re all in it together may have benefited communities by encouraging reciprocal generosity,” Dr. Griffiths said. “On the other hand, universal love isn’t always adaptive, either.”

Stupak and the Executive Order

From my reading of the Executive Order (here’s an advance copy of it), doesn’t seem to restrict a woman’s rights any more than they were restricted yesterday1, with the so-called Hyde Amendment. Congressman Stupak either needed political cover to vote for HCR, or hadn’t bothered to read the bill carefully in the first place.

Family Planning protest w 50 foot Giant Virgin Mary

Pro-choice lawmakers greeted with reluctant acceptance news that President Obama (as part of a deal to secure anti-abortion votes for health care) had agreed to sign an executive order upholding the Hyde Amendment as law. Non-government groups who work on defending abortion rights, however, were “incensed.”

Approached in the halls of the Capitol shortly after the deal was announced by pro-life advocate Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), Rep. Jan Schakowski (D-Ill.) said she understood why the executive order had to be made, even though she was not pleased with its message or content.

“This is not something we are rejoicing over in any way because we were reluctant in the first place,” the Illinois Democrat, an abortion rights advocate, told the Huffington Post. “We had language that made sure there were no federal dollars. But right now if this will make the bill pass and it doesn’t further erode women’s reproductive rights we can live with that.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) another abortion rights advocate said: “I have never been a supporter of the Hyde language and I’m not a supporter of the Nelson amendment. From the outset of this debate there were pro choice and pro life Members who believed that abortion should not be litigated on the health care bill. And the goal when the issue was being raised was, ok, what we do is than to maintain current law. And I believe that is what the executive

[Click to continue reading Health Care: Pro-Choice Reps Reluctantly Accept Abortion Deal]

Amanda Marcotte adds on the same topic:

My annoyance at Obama being forced to make some kind of formal declaration of women’s second class citizenship to mollify Bart Stupak and his woman-hating crew is moderated significantly by two major factors:

1) That this is some impressive political jujitsu. Having the President reaffirm what was already the law of the land in order to secure a vote from Bart Stupak, who has clearly never read the bill he’s so fucking concerned about. Did they come up with this brilliant plan after Stupak has made it clear that his contempt for women’s opinions applies even to nuns? Is it possible that Nancy Pelosi called up Obama and said, “Look, I’ve been telling him and Sebelius has been telling him there’s no federal funding for abortion in this bill. He apparently needs to hear it from a man, so can you give us a hand?”

2) That this worked on Stupak means he’s as stupid as he seems. My sense that he’s a useful idiot being played by his Republican friends in the C Street Family has only strengthened. He clearly feels he doesn’t need to know shit about what he’s talking about to take a grand stand on it. Realizing he’s just a stupid tool may not matter that much in the grand scheme of things, but it gave me clarity, which I appreciate.

[Click to continue reading – we are the public option]

Sounds plausible to me

  1. or last week, or last month []

Health Care Reform and November 2010

What will happen in the ensuing months now that Health Care Reform has actually become law of the land, and not a socialist bogeyman? Will the Republican shouters control the message? Or will the issue fade due to the short attention span of the American public?

Last minute lobbying blitz for spring

David Corn writes, in part:

In a column written hours before the House passed the bill, neoconservative David Frum referred to health care reform as the GOP’s “Waterloo.” He noted that “it’s a good bet that conservatives are over-optimistic about November” because “by then the economy will have improved and the immediate goodies in the healthcare bill will be reaching key voting blocs.” Frum’s j’accuse! blamed “conservatives and Republican ourselves” for making a poor strategic decision: “We would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing…We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.” Republican legislators who wanted to cut a deal, he notes, were trapped and pinned down by “conservative talkers on Fox and talk radio.”

Frum speaks for no one but himself. Like the Pope, he has no troops of his own. But if his comments reflect a wider sentiment within Republican circles, it’s possible the GOP could be struck by an internal division over the health care reform fight: Do Republicans move on, or do they act like those fabled Japanese soldiers stranded on deserted islands at the end of World War II who never realized the war was over and that they had lost?

And then there is the other end of the Republican political spectrum: Sarah Palin. The day before the vote, the woman who decried the non-existent “death panels” began tweeting that the health care bill would undercut medical plans for military personnel. Representative Ike Skelton, the Democratic chairman of the House armed services committee, says this is not true and would introduce legislation to guarantee this. But it appeared as if Palin was looking for another killer talking point. Other strategists and leaders on the right will be doing the same.

And think of all the anecdotes-as-ammo to come. Both sides in the months—and probably years—ahead will be trolling for stories that will bolster their positions. A government bureaucrat makes a wrong call about anything related to the health care overhaul, and Republicans and their talk show allies will go to town. Democrats, for their part, will embrace any testimonials from Americans whose lives were saved due to changes brought about by this bill.

[Click to continue reading Health Care Reform: All Over… But the Shouting | Mother Jones]

Too early to tell, but worth paying attention to

Agribusiness Spreading Superbugs

Agribusinesses have all sorts of negative effects on our society (pollution, poor health, corruption); add superbugs to the list.

Long Cycle of Redemption

If ESBL E. coli is frightening, there are even more potent superbugs emerging, like Acinetobacter.

“We are seeing infections caused by Acinetobacter and special bacteria called KPC Klebsiella that are literally resistant to every antibiotic that is F.D.A. approved,” Dr. Spellberg said. “These are untreatable infections. This is the first time since 1936, the year that sulfa hit the market in the U.S., that we have had this problem.”

The Infectious Diseases Society of America, an organization of doctors and scientists, has been bellowing alarms. It fears that we could slip back to a world in which we’re defenseless against bacterial diseases.

There’s broad agreement that doctors themselves overprescribe antibiotics — but also that a big part of the problem is factory farms. They feed low doses of antibiotics to hogs, cattle and poultry to make them grow faster.

A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that in the United States, 70 percent of antibiotics are used to feed healthy livestock, with 14 percent more used to treat sick livestock. Only about 16 percent are used to treat humans and their pets, the study found.

More antibiotics are fed to livestock in North Carolina alone than are given to humans in the entire United States, according to the peer-reviewed Medical Clinics of North America. It concluded that antibiotics in livestock feed were “a major component” in the rise of antibiotic resistance.

Legislation introduced by Louise Slaughter, a New Yorker who is the only microbiologist in the House of Representatives, would curb the routine use of antibiotics in farming. The bill has 104 co-sponsors, but agribusiness interests have blocked it in committee — and the Obama administration and the Senate have dodged the issue.

[Click to continue reading Op-Ed Columnist – The Spread of Superbugs –]

FDA and Washington diddle why people die, sounds like business as usual.

Health Benefits of Exercise

Not telling you anything you don’t already know, but perhaps the Nth+1 article about the correlation between exercise and good mental and physical health will spark a response.

Cirque Shanghai Goldfinger

Regular exercise is the only well-established fountain of youth, and it’s free. What, I’d like to know, will persuade the majority of Americans who remain sedentary to get off their duffs and give their bodies the workout they deserve? My hope is that every new testimonial to the value of exercise will win a few more converts until everyone is doing it.

In a commentary on the new studies, published Jan. 25 in The Archives of Internal Medicine, two geriatricians, Dr. Marco Pahor of the University of Florida and Dr. Jeff Williamson of Winston-Salem, N.C., pointed to “the power of higher levels of physical activity to aid in the prevention of late-life disability owing to either cognitive impairment or physical impairment, separately or together.”

“Physical inactivity,” they wrote, “is one of the strongest predictors of unsuccessful aging for older adults and is perhaps the root cause of many unnecessary and premature admissions to long-term care.”

They noted that it had long been “well established that higher quantities of physical activity have beneficial effects on numerous age-related conditions such as osteoarthritis, falls and hip fracture, cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases, cancer, diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, low fitness and obesity, and decreased functional capacity.”

One of the new studies adds mental deterioration, with exercise producing “a significantly reduced risk of cognitive impairment after two years for participants with moderate or high physical activity” who were older than 55 when the study began.

[Click to continue reading Personal Health – Studies Show Further Health Benefits of Exercise –]

Going to Work

Do I exercise enough? Probably not, especially in the bleak mid-winter. Photo-strolling for an hour or so is the most I do, and I should walk more often. I take the stairs in my building a few times a day, but again, could do better at avoiding the elevator if I pushed myself. My other favorite form of exercise is biking, and I’m too much of a wimp to bike in the cold. Snow is one thing1, but what really is brutal is the bitter wind.

  1. affects braking, for instance []

Food Safety and Tainted Tomatoes

If the Drown-The-Baby-in-the Bathtub Republicans ever get their way1, the federal regulatory infrastructure would get stripped, and there would be a lot more deaths from tainted food. The current system of food inspection is pretty corrupt, but least there is some restraint, and occasionally a corporation will commit such a heinous act that they will get sanctioned. Like SK Foods, and their buddies, Kraft, Safeway, and others:


Robert Watson, a top ingredient buyer for Kraft Foods, needed $20,000 to pay his taxes. So he called a broker for a California tomato processor that for years had been paying him bribes to get its products into Kraft’s plants.

The check would soon be in the mail, the broker promised. “We’ll have to deduct it out of your commissions as we move forward,” he said, using a euphemism for bribes.

Days later, federal agents descended on Kraft’s offices near Chicago and confronted Mr. Watson. He admitted his role in a bribery scheme that has laid bare a startling vein of corruption in the food industry. And because the scheme also involved millions of pounds of tomato products with high levels of mold or other defects, the case has raised serious questions about how well food manufacturers safeguard the quality of their ingredients.

Over the last 14 months, Mr. Watson and three other purchasing managers, at Frito-Lay, Safeway and B&G Foods, have pleaded guilty to taking bribes. Five people connected to one of the nation’s largest tomato processors, SK Foods, have also admitted taking part in the scheme

[Click to continue reading SK Foods at Center of Bribe Scheme to Sell Tainted Tomatoes –]

The Big Tomato

Food corporations claim innocence, but I assume there was a lot of winkin’ and noddin’ going on, just no hard evidence.

  1. Grover Norquist, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and the rest of that group of thugs []

Afternoon Naps Increases Ability to Learn

I’ll go on record as being a huge fan of napping. Even fifteen minutes is enough for me to recharge enough to have a productive afternoon.

Don't disappear in your own life

It turns out that toddlers are not the only ones who do better after an afternoon nap. New research has found that young adults who slept for 90 minutes after lunch raised their learning power, their memory apparently primed to absorb new facts.

Other studies have indicated that sleep helps consolidate memories after cramming, but the new study suggests that sleep can actually restore the ability to learn.

The findings, which have not yet been published, were presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego.

[Click to continue reading Vital Signs – Afternoon Naps Can Increase Ability to Learn, Study Suggests –]

Side note, I’ll also wager this is one of those stories you’ll read/hear about in many outlets. Catnip for the media, in other words.