COVID-19 Strategy - Your Microwave!

References:CDC, Galvaston News, Consumer Reports, Post and Courier, Quora, JAMA,BioRxiv

Can I get carryout? Can I help keep our restaurants alive? Is it safe to order from all the places that say they are hands free?

We don't know for sure. We can't be certain that the chain of humans from cooks, to packaging, to delivery to you are perfectly clean and virus free. We do know that the virus can last on surfaces for 48 hours at least. We don't know if the food source has its employees wearing masks or being tested for safety because we have no testing yet at the site of food preparation. It is likely aerosolized in microparticles leading WHO to "thinking" of making airborne precautions - which ramps up dramatically the risk for health workers and increases the demand from PPEs (personal protective equipment). Airborne would explain the rapid spread in dense cities. Just imagine a New York subway and one sneeze or cough. Six feet encompasses 12 people. Considering that the early mathematical models from China suggested each case passed it on to 2.2 people, we now see how it spreads. But what about food that is put into a sterile container while hot and then given into a transport bag that has no human contact that is then delivered to you?

Searching around

The CDC claims that we have very little evidence that the virus is spread by items imported into your home. Carryout! How can you make sure it's safe? Well, the CDC says anything above 167 kills viruses. Boiling is 212 and Pizza ovens are 450 or higher. Can you use that knowledge to make your food safe? Sure you can. You can reheat your purchased food items to get them back up to almost boiling. That won't work with salads and cold items, but it sure will with hot food. God forbid I endorse pizza but it is cooked at a very high temperature, making it sterile, at least when it comes out of the oven. Can you make sure you get it hot again, and then don't burn the top of your mouth?

We do know that the microwave will likely not be good for your newspaper. There are studies showing that you may burn it up, with cash also being at risk.

WWW: What Will Work for Me? We haven't ordered carryout from all the restaurants crying for our business. I plan to. If we don't help our businesses that are affected by this terrible pandemic, we won't have them when it is over, a year from now when the vaccine is available. I wash my hands after anything brought into our home. I try not to touch my face, rub my eye, sneeze or cough without cover. But for me, one restaurant meal a week, with a tip, and wash my hands, wash my hands, wash my hands. Don't get closer than 6 feet except for the 3 seconds it takes to pass off the meal.

Pop Quiz

  1. COVID-19 is spread primarily through what? Answer: Respiratory droplets that get on surfaces or are breathed in by people close to the source. Patients with COVID-19 have had viable virus found on their airvents (at least the RNA, not by viral culture) that could have been 48 hours old.
  2. Items brought into your home can carry the virus. T or F. Answer: True but not the common or main source by far. The virus lasts on surfaces for up to 48 hours, but it then has to get to your face and its mucous membranes. It does not burrow through intact skin. Spend more time washing your hands, less time washing your counters. (Still clean your counters, just wash your hands more)
  3. What temperature destroys the virus? Answer: 167 degrees.
  4. Will your microwave clean your money? Answer: Possibly but it may also destroy it and maybe catch fire. Dry surfaces aren't likely good for the virus.
  5. Can a microwave help you in this epidemic? Answer: Yes, it can heat food you order from a restaurant back up to 170 or higher and thereby sterilize it.
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Wash your hands. The COVID virus lasts for 17 days on surfaces. The Princess Cruise ship proved that. Washing your hands and not touching your face might be more important than every.

Novel Ideas to Combat COVID-19: Potassium, Melatonin and the Alkaline Diet

Novel Ideas to Combat COVID-19: Potassium, Melatonin and the Alkaline Diet

References: MedRxIVArchives of VirologyJr Envir Public HeatlhJr of Bone and Mineral Research,

Want an idea that you can do to keep yourself healthy and prepared for when COVI-19 gets to you? Yes, you have self-isolated. No, you haven't gone to the grocery store and have started getting pick up instead. You only saw 4 people yesterday and didn't shake any hands. You washed your hands 4 times yesterday to boot. And you didn't touch your face at the average rate of 19 times an hour. 
What else? Yes, you are taking 5,000 IU a day of Vitamin D and 25 mg of zinc. Yes, you are at home practicing guitar and watching Netflix. No, I don't want to hear you playing John Davidson songs.

So, this study from China about potassium caught my eye. Almost every patient with COVID in China was noted to be hypokalemic, low on potassium. The thought is that COVID-19 attacks the cells in your kidneys that excrete potassium, and you can reverse that with ACD-inhibitors. Hmmmm.

Let's just review what has happened with potassium in America in the last 200 years. We used to eat more potassium, much more. The ratio of potassium to sodium used to be 8 to 1. Now it's one to three or four. That's a 24 fold shift and reversal of the ratio. But due to the ions that travel with potassium and sodium, it's also a reversal of pH. When you are potassium dominant, for complex metabolic reasons, your urinary pH will be 8, alkaline. When you are sodium dominant, your urinary pH will be 5.5, acid. Did you know that some viruses multiple as much as 1,000 fold faster in acid pH? Is that all viruses? It hasn't been studied and we have no clinical proof whatsoever. All we have is the observation that COVID patients are low in potassium. Does replacing potassium ahead of time help? We don't know. Is there any harm to doing it? None. What happens if you eat an alkaline diet? We know for a fact that potassium citrate alkalizes your urine, increases your intake of potassium and improves calcium balance, thus protecting your bones. We know that if you eat nothing but vegetables, your urine will be naturally alkaline. Will increasing your potassium balance make you ready for COVID-19? It has no harm unless you are on drugs that block potassium excretion, like ace-inhibitors. 
How about melatonin? Well, here again, we have to get to how viruses become deadly. If your immune system has never seen a particular viral antigen, it ramps up to fight it. Your innate immune system has a ramping up, and a calming down process. If you don't have prior exposure and no immune memory, your ramping up spirals out of control into a "cytokine storm". Here is the fascinating nugget. Melatonin acts as a brake on cytokine storms. You make lots of melatonin when you are young. By age 40 your melatonin production starts to degrade badly. By 60 and 70 you are making virtually none. One-year-olds have a melatonin of 325 pg/ml. Seventy-year-olds peak at 25 pg. Who is getting sick and dying with COVID? Melatonin turns off that cytokine storm. Pregnant women in their third trimester of pregnancy triple their blood level of melatonin. Do you find it interesting that there have been no victims of COVID-19 who are pregnant? Hmmm. Want some melatonin? Again, it's harmless. Dose? Start with 1 mg. Ramp up to 3, or 5, or 10. At bedtime.

WWW: What will work for me. These are simple things you can do to prepare your body for the assault of COVID. Eat lots of vegetables that are steamed so they still have their potassium and magnesium. Consider taking some potassium citrate to alkalize yourself. The OTC potassium citrate is 1 meq per pill so you have to take a lot of them. You can buy it in bulk and make your own capsules. A 00 capsule will hold 10 meq. A great little machine can be purchased at Swanson. (The research on bones was with 60 meq per day, which is what I'm taking myself and have had no increase in blood potassium levels. But prolonged potassium in folks with renal failure or some meds may accumulate and should be monitored.). Take melatonin at bedtime. Some folks get drowsy at 1 mg a day, or 3, or 5 or 10. I personally take 10. If I'm in the hospital, I want Holly to smuggle in melatonin. But we are all in this together. Don't forget to wash your hands and stay 6 feet away. Cut your boxes up and dispose of your grocery bags immediately on bringing home, then wash your hands before you touch your face.

Pop Quiz

  1.  An observational study showing that those who die of COVID in China, all have low potassium, means supplementing with potassium will prevent death from COVID-19. T or F. Answer: No proof at all. Loose, tangential association. But may be true. No time to study right now and no harm in trying, unless you are on potassium-sparing drugs or have renal failure.
  2. Do we eat enough potassium compared to historical records? T or F. Answer: Pants on fire false. Our intake of potassium has plummeted. Every membrane in your body depends on sufficient potassium.
  3. Viruses multiple better in an acid medium? T or F. Answer: Only one study on it from 40 years ago but an intriguing idea. Our diet has also become acidic because we eat many more animal products.
  4. Melatonin is naturally what? Answer: Discovered as your "sleep" hormone, it is also a very potent anti-cancer drug, and a very potent modulator of the "cytokine storm" tornado your immune system makes in those viral infections that kill people quickly with multi-organ failure and respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). That's what all the ventilator talk is about.
  5. A seventy-year-old makes just as much melatonin as a 1-year-old. T or F. Answer: Pants on fire false. Ratio of 25 to 350, less than 10%. Good news, you can take it orally and it's cheap. Do it!
COVID-19 Virus Action List: What You Should Do, When

References: CNN HealthSTAT NewsCDC Pandemic PlanNew York TimesOurWorldInData,

Ok, here is the best data we have now. And a list of what you should do when. Yes, COVID-19 is a big deal. The 1919 Influenza killed 2.5 people per 100, resulting in 675,000 American deaths. The regular seasonal flu kills about 1 in 1,000, for reference. Regular flu kills by setting off pneumonia or heart attacks. COVID-19 causes a cytokine storm and ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome, requiring a ventilator). So, it is about 10-20 times more dangerous. Stop the silly argument, "30,000 people a year die of regular flu." We are going to get there, and much more if we don't act. 
So, what are your risks? Actually, it all depends on your age and gender. Young kids, no big deal. Very low attack rate in children. Up till age 50, your risk is probably less than 1%. In China, the CDC found that only 0.9% of cases were under age 9 and even fewer deaths. In your 60s. you are likely in the 4-6 % range. Seventies are 8%. But over age 80, it's 14.8%. By contrast, the fatality rate was 1.3% in 50-somethings, 0.4% in 40-somethings, and 0.2% in people 10 to 39. Gender has bias too! It's only 1.7% death rate overall for women and 2.8% for men, China CDC reported. 
So: it's bad and it's going to get worse. It is being spread by asymptomatic people so avoiding sick folks wont do it. We have to do a higher level of battle, and that depends on testing. Short of that, consider these steps: 
1. Practice washing your hands: soap and water, 3 times a day and every time you come in from outside. Just start doing it.

2. Don't touch your face or pick your nose. Don't rub your eye. Get a tissue. Rubbing your eye is a particularly good way to introduce viruses into your tears, and then into your nose. 
3. Avoid crowded places with people from far away. Planes, sports venues, malls, movie theaters. Social Distance: At least 3 feet, 6 is better. Elbow bumps are cool.

4. Wipe and Clean. Get a package of alcohol wipes and carry it in your car. Wipe the gas pump before you use it. Wipe your home doorknob before you use it.

5. Shop for food at 8 am Sunday morning, Monday morning. Check yourself out. Wipe yourself down.

6. Get creative about your work. Consider working from home. 
7. Limit your excursions out of your home. This is going to last a year until we get a vaccine. The thought that we will have it over in a month is probably unrealistic. 
8. "Snow Days" when everyone stays in on lockdown - works if you go for 2 cycles. 10 days. Hard to maintain.

9. You need to hang on to your will power and your soul. This is a terribly frightening journey into darkness. We need to do battle with your darkness. Keep in touch with loved ones. Skype. Talk. Visit (a little) folks you know who are safe.. 

10. Support the organizations you love. Your church, your theatre group, your zoo, your sports team. Stay connected and give them support. They are more desperate than you.

THEN (Maybe soon - we are rising quickly still.) 
11. Shutdown. Do you have three months of food? Soap. Toilet paper.

WWW: What will work for me. I'm reading everything I can get hold of. I welcome your suggestions. I intend to add to this list and would welcome any thought you may have. I've subscribed to a newsletter you may like. The by Ryan Hagan - academic epidemiologist who studies pandemic diseases. I'm buying Thymosin A for myself for home injections. I'm walking every day and eating tons of vegetables.

Pop Quiz

  1. Ok, if you read Ryan Hagan's newsletter you would see that mortality reports doubling every __?__ days. Answer: 3
  2. And in that same newsletter, how many Americans will die according to a leaked report to the American Hosptial Association? Answer: Over 400,000
  3. The 1918 flu virus killed how many per 100? Answer: 2.5. The annual regular flu in America kills about 0.1%, so roughly 1/20th as bad. Today: 14 % for 80-year-olds.
  4. If you are over 80, what is your risk of death if you get it? Answer: 14.8%. 8% if you are in your 70s. 6% in your 60s.
  5. This virus is going to calm down over the summer. T or F. Answer: We don't know for sure but Australia is in summer and they are getting it. Singapore got it.
Do I Need to be Tested for the MTHFR Gene?

References: Translational PsychiatryCleveland ClinicCell Science SystemsJr of Alzheimer's DiseaseAging85% SolutionScience Based Medicine,

Want a really good Halloween Buggyman? Dress up as the MTHFR Gene and pretend to cause autism, depression, and just about everything else modern civilization has to offer as wicked diseases. With the advent of the human genome project, we now can measure many many genetic variations in gene activity and function. The question arises, do those variations correlate with meaningful clinical outcomes? I have people coming to me on a weekly basis asking that question. What is the rational science behind this and what should you do? 
It is possible to measure two genes, C677T and A1298T, that are present in some 30-50% of various populations. You get two of each, one from each parent so having a "defective" one means you don't regenerate methyl-folate from folic acid as effectively as some folks. If you have two crummy copies, you regenerate even less. The net effect is that your ability to pass on methyl groups to various chemical processes is reduced. Methyl groups are used to tag DNA as a marker for genetic expression. They are also used to help get rid of cellular garbage by making it water-soluble so you can pee it out. Most notably, you get rid of neurotransmitters more efficiently, ostensibly. Does it matter? 
These type of findings have led to a raft of "associations" between the genetic markers and various psychiatric conditions, from autism to schizophrenia and depression. Depending on how you lean, you can find review articles that support the premise that this is truth orthis is bogus. The problem is is that associations aren't proof, particularly when the "defective" gene is so common that 40% of the population has it. 
Is there reality to any of this? Well yes! If you have really low genetic function of MTHFR genes you can have very high homocysteine levels in your blood. Homocysteine is the carrier of methyl groups that passes the methyl group on to glutathione. There is a strong connection between Alzheimer's and homocysteine. An international consensus statement wasissued in this regardBredesen considers the management of homocysteine as one of the keys to Alzheimer's prevention, in part because it is so easy to take extra B12 and methyl-folate and homocysteine is so easy to lower. His goal is to get your homocysteine down to 7. The average American is roughly around 12 or so, so that is a clear marker. 
But does it cause other diseases? Based on all sorts of anecdotal stories, there are advocates for the MTHFR genes causing all sorts of problems. Dan Purser in his book the85% Solution goes into great detail on the topic. He claims half of America is sick with it and if you just follow his program, you will be much improved.

The voice of modern, traditional medicine isn't there yet. Virtually every standard health site like the Cleveland Clinic and Science Based Medicine put the kabash on MTHFR testing and suggest you settle for taking some extra B vitamins and using homocysteine as your marker of success.

WWW: What will work for me. Goodness. I've read every MTHFR book, listened to on-line leactures, gone to conferences, made up talks about MTHRF and measured it for about 10 years. I've come to the conclusion that we just aren't there yet. I believe it's real with Alzheimer's and heart disease but it is just not worth the anxiety and stress of getting the genetic testing. I tend to reduce the supplement bills of a lot of my clients who have come from other doctors who have plied them them with boxes full of expensive cure-alls. Just measure your homocysteine. If you are above 9, you definitely need to do something. Homocysteine Resist is one of the least expensive, most effective supplments that will do a dandy job of lowering your homocysteine. And I need to get rid of my double helix Halloween outfit. It's just not scary enough.

Pop Quiz

  1. What is MTHFR? Answer: Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductate
  2. Aside from being a spelling-bee question, what is it for? Answer: it is a protein that regenerates methyl folate, a useful "methyl" donor, from simple folic acid. There are two common genetic variants of it that some 30-40% of the population has that result in slower regneration of methyl folate. 
  3. What do you use methyl-folate for? Answer: to pass on methyl groups so that you can tag DNA, ged rid of neurotransmitters that have been used and get rid of gunk, must notably heavy metals.
  4. Are these MTHFR mutations a cause of disease? Answer: Ah, there is the rub. Lots of controversy. Probably likely connected to Alzheimer's and heart disease but just not proven for others. Claimed to be much more important by some authors, but those authors tend to be high on the "quack" lists of watchdog groups.
  5. What can you do? Answer: Simple. Measure your homocysteine. It is a marker of effective production of methylation. Take Homocysteine Resist, a product from Life Extension that has extra methyl-B12 and methyl-folate that both help rev up MTHFR and lower homocysteine. Make it easy. But do take it for the rest of your life. But don't get the MTHFR gene test. Just don't.  Run if someone offers.
Want to Avoid Corona Virus? Strategize Now

References: WHO AdviceNPRConsumer ReportsFrontiers in AgingLive ScienceJr Clinical Exp Pharm,

Lots of chatter out there about how to prevent your risk of COVID-19! Don't travel to Wuhan, or China for that matter. As of right now, (Feb 17, 2020) it appears to be slowing a bit, albeit having reached a higher death total than SARS. Keep your fingers crossed that this is the beginning of good news and public health measures are working. Or not! Time will tell. 
So, what does WHO tell us to do? Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer like crazy if you can't get to a sink. That's it. Ok, I can do that. Is that it? Can't we all just wear body suits and respirators? 
Let's give you some more practical ideas. Item #1 is Zinc. Lowly little zinc. NPR did a story just this week about Dr. Prasad who conducted a randomized placebo-controlled trial on zinc and found it reduced colds by some two days. There has been some back and forth about it but a meta-analysis of zinc and colds (combing all high-quality research) came out with a net plus. Consumer Reports suggests zinc may be overrated because of its risk of side effects. Similar controversy exists around zinc and Alzheimer's which leads to the conclusion that it should be measured and monitored, and most of the time replaced. How much zinc? We think some 80-90 mg at the beginning of a cold is the magic number. But there is huge variability in people's zinc blood levels that hasn't been taken into account in the studies I've seen. One or two days of that won't hurt. We all likely should be on some extra zinc regardless for brain health, and be monitored (30-50 mg a day). Bill and Melinda Gates have been high on my hero's list for creating an international awareness and treatment of childhood diarrheas caused by rotavirus: part of which involves a 5 mg dose of zinc for babies. 
But let's get a little more innovative. Did you see the recent research on COVID-19 that it doesn't appear to affect children much? Now that's interesting. Kids are usually the town cesspool for viruses. They get everything. Why are they not showing themselves to be ill from COVID-19? Let me conjecture. Their immune systems are working well. They have boatloads of their natural virus-fighting hormones or peptides, notable Thymosin A1 (T-1). I want my immune system up to shape if COVID-19 comes to town. We all stop making the stuff (T-1) around age 40 and those of us over 40 will tell you we are sicker longer and deeper with viruses than we were when we were young. Now, T-1 is approved to help reverse chronic Hepatitis B in some 40 countries, so it is a known virus fighter.

If I get exposed to COVID-19, will T-1 help me? I bet it will. It may be the secret weapon we can use to keep ourselves well. You used to make it when you were a kid. And when you got to 40, you were pushed out into the pond without a paddle. Good luck!

WWW: What will work for me. I take zinc and monitor its levels. I wash my hands obsessively. I've also been taking T-1 before I travel and have yet to get a cold over the last year of travel. I've given it to some folks with colds and the response I've had so far is mixed. Some get better quickly and some have little effect. There are no RCTs on common colds but good research is out there with other viruses. It would make perfect sense.

Pop Quiz

1. What is the most effective way to avoid getting Coronavirus? Answer: According to WHO - Don't expose yourself to it by travel to China, if you can avoid it, and wash your hands with great sedulousness.

2. Zinc has been proven to help with two viral diseases. Which? Answer: Rotavirus in children and common colds in older adults. 
3. How much zinc? Answer: For adults, probably at least 50 mg extra a day early in a cold. Rotavirus: 5 mg.

4. What is Thymosin-a1(T-1)? Answer: The natural peptide you make when you are a young person that balances your immune system and boosts its ability to fight viruses. 
5. How do you administer T-1? Answer: Right now it's only available as a shot with a teeny insulin syringe. If you are really interested and want to know more, I'm doing it for myself so come on by.

Want to Lose Weight? Don't Drink Your Calories

References: NBC NewsSCPINetEur Jr Clin NutritionResearchgate,

This is a familiar theme, from a new angle. The calories you drink are known to cause weight gain. Why? (And the "new angle" is: white refined carbs are just as evil at raising your blood glucose, your insulin and your wasteline.) 
It all comes down to the speed with which glucose gets into your blood, which is the determining factor for how much insulin you secrete. Insulin is your storage hormone, not your glucose control hormone. Emphatically, NOT your glucose control hormone. Glucose control is too simplistic and superficial. The faster blood glucose rises, the more insulin you make and the more calories you store. That is called weight gain. Never in human history did we have liquid calories like fruit juice and juicers. (Until just 3-4,000 years ago, at least). We humans are designed to eat the whole food, not the extract. Fruit ripens once a year, usually just before the starvation season (winter) so it was to our decided advantage to gain weight to give us a margin of calories to make it through the lean times.

When I was a child, we got apples for about 2-3 months a year. Now I can buy apples any time I want. When I was a child, Coca Cola was a rare treat in glass bottles. Now I can buy 12 packs when I shop for groceries, which the man ahead of me in the grocery story did. (Full sugar, no less! Guess what his waist size looked like? You bet: size 52) 
And you can see what happens when you compare apple juice to whole apple. First of all, calorie for calorie the juice has more pure sugar. But the process of eating the whole fruit, chewing it, taking more time to eat it, and less sugar to boot results in less insulin, results in fewer LDLs being made in the liver.

As a brief segue, our apples today are decidedly different than what nature provided for us. Malus sylvestris, the world's original apple from Central Asia, had much less sugar and many more polyphenols than today's apples: like 7,000 to 10. Today's apples are basically skins full of sugar, which we prefer. 
But the calories you drink aren't the only foods that cause a rapid rise in blood glucose. Refined grains have the same impact. A whole grain still has fiber in place protecting the carbohydrate (glucose). When it is ground up and pounded into flour, the fiber is dislocated from its protective effect and the carbohydrate is exposed to stomach enzymes. The glycemic index of a whole grain can be as low as 25. Ground up flour will have a glycemic index of 90. (Pure glucose is 100). You put out insulin in relation to the glycemic index. This puts a whole now meaning for the value of fiber. It's not just your gut bacteria that benefit from the fiber on whole grains. It's the delay in glucose rise caused by the inability of your digestive enzymes to penetrate the fiber's protective coat on the grain kernel. That means bread, made from "whole grains", is still ground up into talcum powder and has the fiber removed from its protective, delaying position. (See this image and note how the fiber around the whole grain covers the carbohydrate of the grain, allowing the seed to survive passage through an animal's gut and come out the other end with some fertilizer._. To get the "protective effect" of whole grains, you need to eat food made OF, not FROM whole grains. You need the bran in place to prevent rapid digestion. 
That's the purpose of this column. Refined flours are just as bad for you as the calories you drink. They both raise your blood sugar rapidly, as they both have high glycemic indexes. And that makes you put out insulin. White flour, in any form, is just like apple juice, just like Coca-Cola, just like Gatorade. Start thinking of white flour, in any form, like sugared sodas, or juices. Stop drinking/eating any high glycemic calories, if you want to lose weight. 
Strategy #1 for weight loss. Stop drinking any calories. Any. There is no such think as healthy sports drinks, healthy apple or orange juice, healthy sodas. None of them are good for you. All of them will make you store calories. Bye, bye orange juice! 
Stategy #2 for weight loss. Consider flour of any kind just like liquid calories. Stop eating any form of refined, high glycemic calories. Bye bye all flours. All flours.

WWW: What will work for me. Wow, this is strict. The realization that the glycemic index of white bread, brown bread and all grain based products is what drives up insulin, which makes you start to manufacture and store fats leads you to the awful truth of why these foods are so bad for us. Bummer. I had an avocado for breakfast, feeling sorry for myself as across the table was a piece of toast.

Pop Quiz

  1. The glycemic index is the measure of what? Answer: how fast your blood glucose rises relative to pure glucose (as determined by 25 people after an all night fast eating 50 grams of carbohydrates from various sources and measuring the rise of their blood glucose.
  2. Sugared drinks like orange juice are part of a healthy breakfast? T or F. Answer: wow, if you answered true you are a marketer's dream, or a child of American advertising. Didn't we all grow up believing that? Actually table sugar is half fructose, which doesn't raise your blood glucose that fast but has much bigger problems in creating fatty liver and driving metabolic syndrome.
  3. The role of bran in whole grains is what? Answer: Yes, partially to feed your gut bacteria and partially to give you vitamins and minerals but emphatically, most importantly, to slow down the rise of blood glucose and lower the glycemic index, lower the insulin response. It's fascinating to me how the Kellogg Institute, on its page on whole grains, doesn't mention this role one teeny little bit.
  4. Should I consider white bread just as bad as orange juice? Answer: Yup
  5. So what I'm saying is that the archetypical American breakfast of orange juice, egg and toast, is toast? Answer: Yup. (That's a joke, remember: "rye" humor, if I may - whole grain only.)
Drink a glass of water before meals, lose weight!

References: George Mason UJCEMEur Jr of NutritionJ of Amer Diet Assoc
Doesn't this idea ring true with you? Drink a glass of water, lose weight! The research is pretty simple and pretty elegant. (And pretty small group). Sixteen young adults (6 men, 10 women, average age 29) drank 250 or 500 mls of water and then were tested over the following 90 minutes for resting metabolic rate. They had a statistically significant increase in resting metabolic rate, burning an EXTRA 50 calories, which was mostly fat calories. 500 ml did more than 250. 
That's not a lot of calories, but that can add up. If you do it every day, you've lost 5 pounds over a year. That's about what most of us gain every year. 
This study joins others on the same topic that have come to the same conclusion. This study from Canada and Germany concluded that water drinking had a 30% increased basal metabolic rate and would result in about 5.5 pounds a year of weight change. In men the water drinking increased fat mobilization through stimulation of beta-adrenoreceptors, but not in women. Women appeared to mobilize carb stores. 
Why does this happen? The authors conjecture that the measured increase in the sympathetic system might have something to do with the temperature of the water, and the metabolic cost of heating it up to body temperature. But after all their calculations, that would only account for 30% of the effect. Not enough. They did measure a change in blood concentration (osmolality). It got lower, as you would expect.

I suspect there are a variety of other things that happen. With lower blood concentration and a larger volume of blood, for 45 minutes, your blood can flow a little easier so cells can wake up and start a new day. You got dehydrated overnight and everything is a little "sludgy" and slower. Or, you make cortisol in the morning and your cells get more of it with more blood flow and burn a teeny amount more energy. Heating up the water takes some of it. Your kidneys get to work a little more, your liver works a little more, your brain works a little more. Voila, more energy spent.

Now, add this effect to water's impact on appetite and water turns out to be a pretty good drug. A study in the European Journal of Nutrition shows that folks who drink two glasses of water before a meal eat less. Again, these would young, normal-weight college men, but the effect was reproducible and real. Another study in obese folks found the same effect.

The total cost of drinking a glass of water each morning? Free! Do it! Drinking a glass before every meal? Well, must be three times as expensive - three times zero is......

WWW; What will work for me. I love this idea. So simple and so elegant. I don't want to have to get up at night and don't like the idea of drinking more water in the evening. But an extra big glass first thing in the morning? Not bad. Couple times a day? I can do this.

Pop Quiz

  1. What happens when you drink a glass of water before breakfast?   Answer: your REE, Resting Energy Expenditure, goes up for 90 minutes.
  2. How much energy do you burn?   Answer:  About 50 calories.
  3. What does that result in over a year:   Answer:  Five pounds
  4. 4. What about appetite and water before meals?   Answer:  Separate effect, but that too goes down.  
  5. What's the cost of drinking that water?  Answer: If you have to think too long on this one, go back to Home and start again.  
Building Resiliency: Generosity and Kindness

References: Hanson's "Resilient"Dr Oz and Dr RoizenThe Widow's Mite,

Building "resilience" is much more powerful than treating injury, in physical as well as emotional or spiritual terms. If you want to build a core of unshakable calm, strength, and happiness, you want to learn how to be resilient. Generosity is one of Rick Hanson's 12 psychological "muscles" or strengths to develop. But you can argue it is also one of Jesus's core "spiritual virtues". In fact, the overlap of the core tenants of Judaism's social justice, Hinduism's alms, Islam's generosity all circles back to these same issues. Our religious traditions all recognize its value for society, and for you, the individual. It's now mid-winter and we are all feeling a bit cooped up and impatient for spring. Settle in and think for a minute how to build your resilience with generosity. 
Start thinking about all the little things you "help" someone with. How do you give generously of your time and resources? Is there someone you would like to give a small "gift" to that you have held back on? Can you sit down and write a handwritten thankyou note. Can you give a bigger tip to the waitress who served you at the restaurant on a Saturday evening when she could have been home with her kids? Those little reminders every day help you be aware of how much you yourself find it important to be kind, and how good you feel when you do it. 
Now, ramp it up. A higher order of kindness is forgiveness. You have been hurt by someone. Have you forgiven them? Rick Hansen gently details beautifully how to start the process with conditional forgiveness perhaps before you get to the whole unconditional forgiveness. And why? Once again, who benefits? You. When you practice forgiveness to others, you also forgive yourself. In that space you let go of guilt and move onto a wider world of self-acceptance. 
Ready for the next step? We are hard-wired to define ourselves by our tribe, our "people", our club. It's not far from that hard wiring to be suspicious of those who are different. Once again, when you accept those outside your familiar circle, when you forgive those historical "wrongs", the world widens and the opportunities for love and connection multiply. The world benefits, and you benefit. 
But all those big global steps start with the little small actions of everyday kindness, everyday generosity.

In this historical moment of tribal animosity in America, can you find a Democrat, or a Republican (someone opposite your "tribe") and just do something kind to them. Make America be what it has always been, a place for all of us.

WWW: What will work for me. My mother used to say something to the effect of, "You get more with sugar than with vinegar" as a truism along these lines. Yes, I get it. Even management experts tell you you get more out of your employees when you pursue kindness. But most of all, every day, I feel better about myself when I express gratitude to the grocery clerk for working late evenings when I can shop, or thank the Amazon delivery guy for running up your driveway to bring you your toothpaste. (Admit it: you get two deliveries a day from the Amazon guy too - so be grateful and thank her/him). We left bigger tips this year for all those people who make life possible for us and get little recognition: the garbage guy, the mailwoman - and now they stop and talk to us. My world got richer.

Pop Quiz

  1. Building resiliency is a multifaceted journey that psychologists have just figured out. T or F. Answer: profoundly false - every religion in history is based on these principles when you peel away the layers. We humans need this stuff. (For those of you in the Christian/Jewish tradition: read Micah:6:8 "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice and love kindness and walk humbly....."
  2. Ok, so what has modern research uncovered? Answer: We live longer, happier lives when we practice the art of generosity, as one component of building resiliency.
  3. What's the best way to do it? Answer: do it in little steps every day, and notice it. It's the noticing and savoring it that builds the "brain muscles". Neurons that fire together, wire together. You build up those circuits in your brain with repeated thinking and practicing it.
  4. Do I have to do grand gestures for it to succeed? Answer: Heck no. Again to quote the Ancients: Jesus calls out the widow who gives 2 copper coins. It is her benefit that is the highest reward. My childhood congregation in India had a "Muthi Dhan" offering where every family brought a fistful of rice to give and share with those who had less. The poorest of the poor benefit, just like the richest of the rich. Generosity is a gift for all of us.
Cure Your Osteoporosis for 15 Cents a Day

References: Building Bone VitalityOsteoporosis InternationalJ Zoo Wild MedNatureAZCentralJehle J Clin Endo MetaMoseley J Bone Min Res.,

The unspoken scourge of advanced western civilization is osteoporosis. It leads to broken bones and broken lives. Break a hip and you are not going to escape a nursing home over 30% of the time. But this is new to modern civilization. Skeletons from before civilization don't have osteoporosis. At age 65 the number one risk of premature morbidity and mortality is a broken bone. Women in America break their bones at 10-100 times the rate of women in poorer countries. One in 8 Caucasian women in America will break a hip. Men do 1 in 20. Horrible! And that doesn't count wrists, shoulders, backs, ankles..... 
There is a huge industry trying to fix this with expensive, sometimes toxic drugs. Is all that necessary? Well, no! 
Fixing osteoporosis isn’t all that hard if you put your mind to it. You have to understand simple chemistry that I can explain in 500 words. Here goes. 
All animals that eat plants get tons and tons of potassium and magnesium salts and digest it out with alkaline urines. The biological ash of vegetables is alkali. Gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos (our biological cousins) have alkaline urine. pH 8.5 is mildly alkaline. Hunter-gatherers, who eat the majority of their calories from plants have alkaline urine. If you eat nothing but plants (no cheese, no milk, no yogurt, no fish) you can get your urine to be alkaline too. And if you read the wonderful review of all 550+ studies done to date in Building Bone Vitality by Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D. you will come to the conclusion that eating an alkaline diet, aka plant-based, leads to stronger bones, the more alkali you eat. 
How does that relate to osteoporosis? Humans started getting a bigger brain about 5 million years ago and started standing up, hunting animals and eating more animal foods. The energy density of animal is higher than plant, so we were able to thrive and develop an even a bigger brain. Over the past five million years, we even evolved the umami taste preference on our tongues that guides us to really like animal protein and seek it. That has served us well, as long as we die before age 45, the end of our reproductive years. Nature isn’t much interested in you if you live past 45, and before 1900, we didn’t. In just the last 100 years, we have started living much longer. We have gotten much wealthier and the industrial revolution has provided us with much more animal foods. We get over 50% of our calories today from animal. 
Here is the rub. Animal protein has many more amino acids with sulfur in them. That sulfur turns into sulfuric acid type compounds, that ends up acidifying you and being excreted in your urine. You digest food in your stomach, but really break it down in your liver and then have acid compounds that are excreted in your urine. The result of that is that in America today, just about everyone has a urinary pH of 5.5, modestly acidic. That is because we get over 50% of our calories from animal, which is strongly acid. 
To get to your urine, these compounds have to pass through your blood. The problem with that is that you can’t change your blood pH because our breathing depends on it. But we have an elaborate system of buffers in our blood that soften the change of that extra acid by shifting their ratios, mostly of CO2 and HCO3 (bicarbonate). Your bones understand those buffers and can see the ratio. They want to help out because they are sitting on the body's reservoir of carbonate. “You processing some acid? We can help out and help neutralize that. Have some carbonate and get those ratios back in sync.” Your bones give up some carbonate and calcium comes along with it. 

It’s that simple. Eat animal protein, lose carbonate from your bone. For every gram of animal protein you eat, you lose 1 mg of calcium. The more milk you drink, the worse your bones. Did you get that? Those ads with a lip covered with white milk is not brought to you by science. It’s an ad paid for by the milk board. Taking calcium doesn’t work either because it doesn’t change the engine driving the change. 
Ok, now read this. You are not at all powerless. You can alkalize yourself and stop the leaching out of calcium. You can become a pure vegan, get alkaline urine to prove your purity. That will work. Or, more intriguing and much more fun, you can cheat a little and alkalize yourself pretty easily.

Potassium citrate is an alkalizing agent. The citrate part of it is basically three bicarbs hooked together. Take 2 grams of potassium citrate, about 20 meq of bicarb results and in one hour your urine will be upped from pH 5.5 (because you had eggs for breakfast) to 8.0. Each 1 gram potassium citrate capsule is the equivalent of 3 servings of vegetables. Its effect lasts about 8 hours. 

What happens if you take 6 a day, two with each meal. Your urine stays alkaline all day long. Your blood is ever so slightly alkaline, enough to shift your buffers back to their natural state, building bone. You should still eat more vegetables. If you are good enough at eating vegetables, you. may not need 6 grams a day, you may. only need 2, or 4. But you can have some cheese or pate with all its attendant acid and have a life. You get to keep your friends.

Is there published literature to support it? You bet! Read Jehle's article from 2013. Or Moseley
I've been pushing this for several years now and I've had multiple people come back with DEXA scans showing improvement. 
Another problem. The drug potassium citrate as a prescription costs about $ 2.60 a pill and you need 4-9 a day to get the full effect. But!!! You can make them yourself for 3 cents each. If you eat 6 a day it will cost you 15 cents a day and your urinary pH will be 8 and you have turned off the engine that is driving your osteoporosis. Where do you get the potassium citrate and pills from? I have them in my office or can look them up on Amazon. Swanson has the best capsule maker and it's not on Amazon.

WWW: What will work for me. This idea of alkali has me intrigued. That is our natural, human state. It's only been a couple of hundred years that we have swerved our natural food towards much more acid. Our clever pharmaceutical industry has discovered all sorts of expensive and potentially toxic drugs to soothe your osteoporosis (and have your jaw rot, your femur snap and your wallet empty). Much, much better is stop the calcium, cut down on cheese, meat, eggs, milk, and yogurt and eat more asparagus and broccoli. And take potassium citrate capsules you make yourself.

Pop Quiz

  1. Why do you get osteoporosis? Answer: Easy. Your bones are trying to be helpful by sharing some of their carbonate to neutralize all the acid you eat. Eat an alkaline diet, no osteoporosis.
  2. Where does the acid come from? Answer: All animal-sourced foods may be great for protein but terrible for too many sulfur-containing amino acids that get processed into sulfuric acid. No problem as long as you die by age 45.
  3. Is there a formula I can use to understand the acid to alkali ratio of food? Answer: You bet. One 3 oz serving of meat equals 3 servings of vegetables. One 1 ounce of cheese equals 6 servings of vegetables. One slice of bread takes one serving of vegetables. Do the math. One Big Mac takes 21 servings of vegetables to neutralize its acid.
  4. Will my doctor prescribe potassium citrate for me? Answer: no. Potassium citrate is approved by the FDA to dissolve kidney stones only.
  5. What is the value of my doing it myself? Answer: With some practice, you can make 1000 capsules in one football game, paying yourself 900 dollars an hour for so doing. It may take longer if your team fumbles 3 times and you upset your table and have to vacuum the carpet.