Friday, January 23, 2015

Why have milk at all?

See below an article on why skimmed milk is a total scam. Actually, when it comes to milk, the story is much more complex than that. 

To start with, any food that is "processed" by the 'food factory' is harmful; milk is not the exception. The solution is not just to have "whole" milk, as this article suggests. It is to have "whole" milk from cows (or buffaloes) who are fed grass, and the milk is delivered to you without going through any pasteurization or homogenization.  

The "factory" approach to milk  starts with collecting milk from all across the countryside. These cows are likely to be routinely fed antibiotics in their feed. Antibiotics at low dosages that seep into our food are a big cause for drug resistance in humans, apart from simply not being healthy of course. Also, oxytocin injections are given to the cows to increase contractions in order to yield more milk. The mad cow disease that originated in Britain was the result of cows, who are by nature vegetarian, being fed the intestines of sheep! Anyone who breeds cows with a factory mindset is not going to bother with what the cow is fed, so long as the milk is produced. The cow's body does turn all that it ingests into milk, but let us be sure that what it ingests is going to affect the quality of its milk!

The milk has to be collected from various places and transported to the factory. The milk is then mixed together - there is really no way to ensure at this stage that the milk is only from healthy cows who have been fed a proper diet. During transportation, to prevent it from spoiling, several preservatives are added to it, which do not get eliminated during further processing.

The milk is then pasteurized. This is touted as a great benefit, since it kills all the "germs". Be sure of this - anything that uses a sledgehammer approach to kill all the germs, is not likely to leave the goodness of milk intact - it will kill a lot of good as well. In fact, pasteurization as a process makes the milk not assimilable by the body, and turns it from something good to something that is harmful.

Apart from pasteurization, you have various things added during the processing like glucose, skimmed milk powder (which is milk that has been further processed to turn it into non-milk), and sundry other stuff. 

To add to the mess, milk usually undergoes another process called "homogenization". It is a very innocuous word; it suggests that the milk is "mixed" and "made same" in some way. 

"Homogenization is actually a mechanical process where milk is forced through tiny holes under pressure of up to 2500 psi. As the average pressure recommended for car tires is 35 to 40 psi, you get an idea of how natural this is! This is not done for the benefit of our health; it is done so that there is no unhealthy looking cream at the top of the milk, i.e. it 'looks nicer'.  Unfortunately our body cells cannot recognize these unnatural molecules. The bile salts can't break down these fats properly. Being so small, the fats can pass through the gut wall without being 'digested' or broken down properly. Once these deformed fat molecules move into our body proper, they are not in a form that our body cells recognize, and even elimination of these molecules becomes difficult.

When we destroy the natural state of the fat molecules, or in the case of skim or low fat milks artificially remove most of the fat, we also remove the natural synergies that allow the proper absorption and assimilation of the fat and other nutrients. Many people drink milk for the calcium. However, by drinking processed varieties where the natural milk fats are damaged or missing, we actually compromise our ability to absorb nutrients such as calcium." (the last two paras within quotes are quoted verbatim from the book "Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health" by Mark Bunn)

And that is what we drink, that is what we give to our children!   

When Ayurveda recommended milk, this "processed" milk is not what it meant. There is another school of thought which most naturopaths adhere to, that milk itself is not required for the human body. The reasoning goes like this: All mammals produce milk for their babies, once the babies are grown, the milk is not required. Further, milk that is produced by the cow, is meant for the baby cow, with the constituents and ingredients suitable for a cow's growth. 

Are you a baby cow? You are not, so you should not have milk, according to this school of reasoning.

Putting both these schools together, if you are able to source milk directly from a dairy where you know that the feed is grass and there are no antibiotics, etc. pumped into the cow; milk that has not undergone further processing like pasteurization, homogenization, etc. then go ahead and have the milk. 

If you are not able to source milk as above, you should avoid having milk altogether. Obviously, it goes without saying that milk products are to be avoided too, since the producer is hardly likely to use unprocessed milk. 

Why not drop milk from the diet altogether? The myth of milk being necessary for humans is one that has been perpetuated by the milk lobby; several cultures across the world, most notably Chinese and other South East Asian cultures have never had milk as part of their diets.

(article attached)


(full disclosure: I do enjoy my coffee and  'chai' made the Indian way, with milk. Not only at home, where we use organic unprocessed milk, but outside as well. )


6 reasons why skim milk is a total scam

Enjoying full fat milk guilt-free. Picture: Thinkstock.


Enjoying full fat milk guilt-free. Picture: Thinkstock. Source: Supplied

WHEN was the last time you poured yourself a tall glass of ice-cold whole milk? If you're like most of us, it's probably been since you were a kid.

Nowadays it's all about skim milk, even for kids. Cartons of whole milk in school cafeterias have been swapped out for skim.

Good luck finding full-fat yoghurt. Everywhere you look, dairy products have gone skinny. And you know what? It's a double tragedy.

Not only is skim less delicious than whole milk, it's not even better for you. In fact, switching from whole to skim can be an unhealthy choice.

I've known this for a long time - I just mentioned it in a post on foods we thought are unhealthy but are actually good for us. But it turns out I didn't even know the half of it.

Study after study, it is slowly dawning on doctors and nutritionists that skim milk may not be the best choice for us after all.

Skim milk: the good vs. bad.

Skim milk: the good vs. bad. Source: News Limited

1. You absorb less of the nutrients without the fat. The nutrients in milk, vitamins D, E, and A, are fat-soluble, which means your body absorbs them better when they're delivered via fat. What's more, the vitamin K found naturally in butterfat gets left behind altogether.

2. Skim and low-fat milk contain powdered milk, which is made with oxidised cholesterol, a carcinogen. Oxidised cholesterol can contribute to the build-up of plaque in your arteries. On the other hand, untreated cholesterol in whole milk is an antioxidant.

3. Milk producers have started adding sugary flavouring to skim and low-fat milk to encourage kids to drink more of it. This means more empty calories in milk that releases fewer nutrients into your body. So that doesn't make a whole lotta sense.

4. Skim can leave you feeling unsatisfied, which leads many people to fill up on less-healthy "non-fat" foods. This is because saturated fats like those found in whole milk trigger the release of the hormone cholecystokinin, which makes you feel full.

5. Skim milk has been linked with "transient" weight loss in studies. This means you may lose some weight from cutting out whole milk at first, but then you're likely to gain back that weight.

6. Fats slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream, reducing the amount that can be stored as fat. This is an argument for letting some "healthy" fats into your daily diet overall, and they don't have to come from milk. They can come from olive oil and nuts, for example.

So as counterintuitive as it sounds, it sounds like skim milk is only going to exacerbate the so-called obesity epidemic.

Zymil, Soy Milk, Skim milk and full cream milk. Picture: News Corp Australia.

Zymil, Soy Milk, Skim milk and full cream milk. Picture: News Corp Australia. Source: News Limited

But you know what? I think we need to stop obsessing over obesity and slimming waistlines. If we would shift that focus from low-fat and fat-free to choosing foods with more nutrients I think we'd be a lot healthier. And that should be the goal anyway, getting healthier, not necessarily getting skinnier.

If there's anything we should care about when it comes to milk, besides its fat content, it's making sure it comes from cows not treated with hormones like rbST. And if you can get milk from cows with a diet rich in grass and hay as opposed to corn, you're going to get even more benefits from it.

This post was originally published on The Stir and has been republished here with the author's permission.

Do you drink whole milk or skim/low-fat milk or none at all? Why?

Continue the conversation via Twitter @newscomauHQ | @AdrianaV

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The symptom is not the cause!

See attached article (link at the end) from yesterday's TOI on the US FDA okaying a device to fight obesity. It is an implant to treat obesity that curbs appetite by electrically stimulating stomach nerves... that targets the nerve pathway between the brain and the stomach that controls feelings of hunger and fullness. The article  mentions that one-third of all US adults are now obese.

This is utter stupidity. The entire medical system is moving more and more away from promoting health to managing illness; illnesses that are a result of wrong advice from the doctors in the first place. And the FDA leads them in their stupidity.

The human body does everything that it does for a reason. All reactions of the body are designed to correct something that is missing, or required to keep the body functioning. Hunger pangs, in spite of eating a lot, means that the body is missing out on nutrition, and is asking to be fed. 

The Standard American Diet (appropriately SAD), is one where essential nutrients have been systematically culled out of the food. This is due to a variety of reasons, starting with growing the food itself, to transportation, to processing of the food, and addition of chemicals and preservatives. It is also due to excess of sugar which is deadly, lots of salt which happens to be the wrong kind of salt (processed, i.e. just pure NaCl), and the wrong kinds of fat; or even worse than that, chemical substitutes for what are considered to be unhealthy in the previous list of chemicals! 

Due to the above diet, the body does not get nutrition, and cries out in hunger. And our response? Invent devices that tinker with the body's signalling systems rather than attack the root cause. 

Why the root cause is not being attacked has a lot to do with the lobbies already established in the system which obviously do whatever is necessary to ensure their own survival. This includes the growers of food, the retailers, the food industry in general, the companies peddling medical devices, and the doctors themselves. It also has to do with the whole premise of medicine as it exists today, i.e. treat the symptoms rather than the causes. 

The so-called doctors and nutritionists are increasingly clueless about what real health means. They are only trained to chase diseases.

It is not as if we in India are immune to this. We are going more and more the US way. The percentage of processed food in our diet is increasing; the salt that we consume is processed salt (with 'added iodine' as if that helps), we are consuming increasing amounts of sugar both directly and indirectly, and we are relying on allopathic 'science' to guide us on how to stay healthy! 

One-third of India will soon be obese; and so will 95 percent of the US population (the 5% who are not obese will be the rich and the sensible; the first lot will pay for good food and good advice, the second lot will provide it).

Time to wake up? The solutions for good health are not hidden or difficult to find. What is needed is the commitment to block out all the noise, and to start looking for answers in the right places.


US okays world's 1st device to fight obesity

PTI | Jan 19, 2015, 01.55AM IST

WASHINGTON: A first-of-its-kind implant to treat obesity that curbs appetite by electrically stimulating stomach ne8rves has been approved in the US. 

The Maestro Rechargeable System is approved to treat patients aged 18 and above who have not been able to lose weight with a weight loss programme, and who have a body mass index of 35 to 45 with at least one other obesity-linked condition, like type-2 diabetes. 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the implant for certain obese adults, the first weight loss treatment device that targets the nerve pathway between the brain and the stomach that controls feelings of hunger and fullness. BMI, which measures body fat based on an individual's weight and height, is used to define obesity categories. 

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of all US adults are obese, and people with obesity are at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes and certain kinds of cancer. 

"Medical devices can help physicians and patients develop comprehensive obesity treatment plans," said William Maisel, deputy director for science and chief scientist at FDA's Centre for Devices and Radiological Health. The system consists of a rechargeable electrical pulse generator, wire leads and electrodes implanted surgically into the abdomen. 

It works by sending intermittent electrical pulses to the trunks in the abdominal va8gus nerve, which is involved in regulating stomach emptying and signalling to the brain that the stomach feels empty or full. Although it is known that the electric stimulation blocks nerve activity between the brain and the stomach, the specific mechanisms for we8ight loss due to use of the %device are unknown. 

External controllers allow the patient to charge the device and allow health care professionals to adjust its settings to provide optimal therapy with minimal side effects. 

The safety and effectiveness of the system were evaluated in a clinical trial that included 233 patients with a BMI of 35 or greater. The weight loss and adverse events of 157 patients who received the active Maestro device (the experimental group) were compared to 76 patients in the control group who received a Maestro electrical pulse generator that was not activated. 

The study found that after 12 months, the experimental group lost 8.5% more of its excess weight than another group which did not receive the active Maestro device, FDA said. About half (52.5 per cent) of the patients in the experimental group lost at least 20 per cent of their excess weight, and 38.3 per cent of patients in the experimental group lost at least 25 per cent of their excess weight.

    Monday, January 12, 2015

    On cubicles and cubicle farms...

    Good article in a recent issue of the Economist (link at the end) on the history of cubicles and how they have reduced our overall quality of office life.

    The fundamental problem in our lives nowadays is lack of movement / lots of sitting / no activity. 

    Ancient health and wellness principles recognize the importance of "prana" or "chi" which is the essential life force that runs through the body. The acupuncture practitioner redirects chi, the karate master breaks the brick by channeling chi, and we all know of people who are extremely alive and active i.e. full of vitality or prana. 

    The essential requirement for cultivating this energy is to keep moving.

    Modern lifestyle is one where we keep sitting. In the car, at office, at meetings, at home while watching TV, and everywhere else. This blocks the prana, and as a consequence energy stagnates and we fall ill. 

    Solution?  - in office, stand up and walk every one hour for five minutes; stand for some time in meetings and maybe while having coffee at the break-out; while driving long distance (or office to home in bangalore :-)) stop every couple of hours for a stretch break; pace up and down rather than sit while talking on the phone; get off from the bus/cab one stop earlier and walk home; walk to the local market; do a few minutes' of stretching every day.... without some level of walking and general movements, going to the gym to hit the weights will be counterproductive!

    Link to the Economist article on cubicles:

    Dinesh Gopalan

    Friday, January 2, 2015

    Living in a Bubble

    The world we are inhabiting increasingly throws our own reflection back to us. 

    We only meet people that are like us, both physically and virtually. At work, we mix with people who are forced into one mold, due to an all-encompassing oppressive cloud that dictates what is acceptable and what is not. At home, we stay in gated communities choosing neighbors who are just like us in every respect, and visit malls and shopping centers where we are insulated from the "other" crowd. We don't allow our children to step out of the confines of the comfortable, and get paranoid if they step out of the gates that we have built around them.

    We leave our data trails everywhere. Big Data tracks us on the cloud. It knows what we do, where we go every moment of the day, what we buy, whom we meet, whom we talk to, when we are scheduled to travel, what we read, and detects a lot of patterns in our own behavior that we are not aware of ourselves. It tracks us online, and notes what kind of articles we read, what kind of friends receive our 'likes', what opinions we have, what prejudices we feed on, and pretty much knows what we think better than we do ourselves. 

    And then the cloud feeds it back to us. It knows what we like, and throws up search results that are in conformance with our views. It shows us posts or feeds that confirm to our biases. 

    The media and online feeds also do another thing. Everything is driven by metrics nowadays and readership and popularity are good metrics to get ad revenues. Since we don't like to pay for what we consume, the ones who do, like the ad agencies, or the ones who want to manipulate us, like the sellers, get to dictate what we consume. They know more about us than we do ourselves and they control the purse strings. So we are in the same position that the two-year old is when her mother is trying to feed her. The mother distracts her with irrelevant nonsense and keeps stuffing her with what she thinks is good for the baby. The baby of course is dumb - mummy knows best.

    The result of all this is that we live in a comforting bubble that is nothing but a reflection of our own biases and a reiteration of all that we like. We are surrounding ourselves in a protective cocoon that is comforting in its feeling of security. We are in an echo chamber where what we hear is only our own voice bouncing back to us. We are not even exposed to those things that are different from us.

    Is this the reality that we want to build for ourselves? Speaking for myself, I don't like the version of myself that I see developing inside this cocoon. Some of the things that we can do to safeguard ourselves are: 

    Use only cash for shopping. Avoid leaving electronic trails.

    Turn location off on our phones.

    Trawl the bazaars and high streets, not only the malls.

    Travel by bus, and sleeper class train. The car is a big insulator against outside influence.

    Eat street food.

    Walk out of our gated communities sometimes.

    Read good magazines. Their content is not customized for us. 

    Join different hobby and interest groups, and not just virtually. Meet people who are different from us.

    That's just a random list, but you get the idea!

    Posted By Dinesh Gopalan to Personal Finance, Investments, and other things at 1/02/2015 08:37:00 AM

    Posted By Dinesh Gopalan to Personal Finance, Investments, and other things at 1/02/2015 08:45:00 AM