Children’s flash mob in Paris delights

Take a few minutes to watch it.

The most ludicrous 9/11 conspiracy theory

More about gum additives in food

I consume a lot of almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk and yogurt. These are supposed to be wholesome and nutritious foods but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find brands without gum additives of some sort or another. Recently I noticed that the Blue Diamond almond milk  that I’ve been using names “carrageenan” as an ingredient. That led me to do some additional research. What i found is not good news. Here is an excerpt of what I found on Doctor Andrew Weil’s website:

Over the years Dr. Tobacman has published 18 peer-reviewed studies that address the biological effects of carrageenan and is convinced that it is harmful to human health. In April 2012, she addressed the National Organic Standards Board on this issue and urged reconsideration of the use of carrageenan in organic foods.

In her presentation, Dr. Tobacman said that her research has shown that exposure to carrageenan causes inflammation and that when we consume processed foods containing it, we ingest enough to cause inflammation in our bodies. She explained that all forms of carrageenan are capable of causing inflammation. This is bad news. We know that chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and cancer.

Dr. Tobacman also told the board that in the past, drug investigators actually used carrageenan to cause inflammation in tissues in order to test the anti-inflammatory properties of new drugs. And she reported further that when laboratory mice are exposed to low concentrations of carrageenan for 18 days, they develop “profound” glucose intolerance and impaired insulin action, both of which can lead to diabetes.

She maintains that both types of carrageenan are harmful and notes that “degraded carrageenan inevitably arises from higher molecular weight (food grade) carrageenan.” Research suggests that acid digestion, heating, bacterial action and mechanical processing can all accelerate degradation of food-grade carrageenan.

All told, I recommend avoiding regular consumption of foods containing carrageenan. This is especially important advice for persons with inflammatory bowel disease.

Andrew Weil, M.D.


Got gas? Get the Gum Out!

Gumming up our food. Updated March 1, 2015

I confess, I like ice cream, and I used to indulge quite regularly, but not anymore.

My taste buds prefer to be subtly stimulated rather than blasted with combinations of flavors that leave them confused and reeling with cloying sweetness. Many speak disparagingly of “plain vanilla,” but to me vanilla is one of the most delicious (and natural) flavors ever discovered. What other flavor can better complement the taste of warm homemade apple pie, or luscious berries, or fresh tree-ripened fruits like peaches.

Another feature of ice cream that adds to its delight is its texture. What makes ice cream creamy? Well, uh, could it be cream?

If you are not in the habit of reading the ingredient lists on packaged foods you may not have noticed that within the past couple years every commercial brand of ice cream has added one kind or another of GUM—guar gum, carob bean gum, xanthan gum, tara gum, locust bean gum, cellulose gum—are a few of the various kind of gum you will find in familiar brands, even premium brands like Ben and Jerry’s and Haagen Dazs. Breyers, which I used to count on to avoid artificial ingredients and additives has also slipped.

Sacrilege! I say.

I don’t know what has given impetus to this gummy bandwagon, but I can venture an educated guess. First of all, I would expect that gum is a lot cheaper than cream and thus producers are inclined to use it to simulate the texture of the real thing. Secondly, I suspect that it may have something to do with the anti-fat madness that has for many years been hyped by the media. Women especially seem to have been susceptible to the argument that if they don’t EAT fat they won’t GET fat. Hogwash, I say to that, and to artificial sweeteners, too.

A few months ago, I experienced a sudden onset of severe gastritis that has taken many months and a great deal of effort and expense to resolve. I made some drastic changes to my diet, including avoidance of ice cream, though I still consume large amounts of yogurt and cheese, and I use moderate amounts of butter.

I’ve always been careful about what I eat, avoiding foods containing preservatives and other artificial ingredients, yet my suspicions are that the underlying cause of my problem had to do with something in my diet.

Now, a new study that has just been published has heightened my suspicions. A Los Angeles Times report dated February 25, 2015 says “Consumption of emulsifiers, additives widely used in the production of processed foods, promotes inflammatory bowel disease and a cluster of obesity-related diseases known as metabolic syndrome, and may have contributed to the sharp rise in these conditions over the last three decades, says a new study conducted on rats.”

That study, published in the journal, Nature, reports specifically on the effects of two commonly used emulsifiers, carboxymethylcellulose (also called cellulose gum) and polysorbate-80 (also known as Tween 80). The study using mice showed that these additives “induced low-grade inflammation and obesity/metabolic syndrome in wild-type hosts and promoted robust colitis in mice predisposed to this disorder. Emulsifier-induced metabolic syndrome was associated with microbiota encroachment, altered species composition and increased pro-inflammatory potential.”

The study report goes on to say that, “These results support the emerging concept that perturbed host–microbiota interactions resulting in low-grade inflammation can promote adiposity and its associated metabolic effects. Moreover, they suggest that the broad use of emulsifying agents might be contributing to an increased societal incidence of obesity/metabolic syndrome and other chronic inflammatory diseases.”

That makes me wonder about the other emulsifiers that are commonly used.

Further background on gum additives can be found at the following sites:

Cellulose gum:

Study Finds Common Food Additive Promotes Inflammatory Bowel Disease And Obesity.

Harmful or Harmless: Xanthan Gum.

The Truth About Guar Gum.

In this day of factory farms, mass marketing, and huge supermarkets, I suppose it’s too much to expect to find products that are wholesome, pure, and unadulterated. Even brands that are labeled “organic” cannot always be counted on.

The bottom line:

  • Read the labels.
  • Inform yourself about the health effects of common additives.
  • Try as much as possible to avoid getting your food from the big corporate producers and suppliers.

#     #     #

More about the gums that are added to our foods. (Addendum of March 1, 2015)

One good source of information about the various types of gum that are used as food additives is the website of Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac According to his website, he “is a globally recognized leader in the fields of ancestral health, Paleo nutrition, and functional and integrative medicine. He is the creator of, one of the top 25 natural health sites in the world, and the author of the New York Times best seller, Your Personal Paleo Code (published in paperback in December 2014 as The Paleo Cure).”

Here’s a brief summary of his postings on gum additives:

Xanthan gum is a largely indigestible polysaccharide that is produced by bacteria called Xanthomonas Camestris. (1) Manufacturers place the bacteria in a growth medium that contains sugars and other nutrients, and the resulting product of bacterial fermentation is purified, dried, powdered, and sold as xanthan gum. (Makes you wonder who first thought to put it in food, doesn’t it?)

Based on the available evidence, the worst xanthan gum seems to be capable of (in adults) is causing some digestive distress in those who are susceptible by increasing stool bulk, water content, and sugar content. But as I just mentioned, those with severe allergies should also be careful.

I recommend that people with digestive problems generally avoid xanthan gum, not because there’s evidence that it could damage your gut, but because its structural properties make it likely to produce unpleasant gut symptoms

Unlike xanthan gum, which is a product of bacterial fermentation, guar gum is derived from an actual food: the guar bean, or Indian cluster bean, which grows primarily in India and Pakistan. ….Because the animal studies showed no harm even at very high doses, guar gum is now being studied in humans as a therapeutic tool for reducing blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

….even small amounts could cause unpleasant symptoms in those with sensitive digestive systems, and I’ve had patients with gut issues improve after removing guar gum from their diet. With that in mind, I think it makes sense to avoid guar gum if you have gut issues, like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or IBS, unless you’ve removed it and added it back in without noticing any harmful effects.

Locust bean gum, also known as carob bean gum, is derived from the seeds of the carob tree. During a two-year animal study, rats were given locust bean gum as 5% of their diet, and no carcinogenic or other toxic effects were observed. (12)

I think the same recommendation I gave for guar gum applies here: if you have gut issues, it would probably be best to avoid locust bean gum. Otherwise, I see no indication that it will cause harm.

Based on the available research, gum arabic seems pretty benign, even for those with gut issues. I certainly wouldn’t be concerned about consuming small amounts of it, although as always, be aware of your individual tolerance.

I’m slightly more skeptical of tara gum compared with the other gums because the toxicity results are less conclusive. Also, while all of the other gums have been tested on humans, tara gum has not. That doesn’t mean it’s not safe, because the available evidence indicates it is; it just means we don’t have as much to go on, and it’s always good to be cautious of new food additives.

Gellan gum is similar to xanthan gum in that it is an exopolysaccharide produced by bacterial fermentation. … To test the safety of gellan gum, the diets of ten volunteers were supplemented with gellan gum at approximately 30 times the level of normal dietary exposure for 23 days. (21) Gellan gum acted as a bulking agent similar to xanthan gum, but no adverse effects were reported. However, a rat study with gellan gum supplemented at 5% of the diet for 4 weeks resulted in abnormalities in intestinal microvilli, which is concerning. (22)

I think those with sensitive guts should avoid it just to be on the safe side. For everyone else, I doubt the small amounts found in food will cause a problem, but it might be best to avoid it if possible.

#     #     #

To or Fro(m): Do you know whether you’re coming or going?

I’m sorry, I just can’t let this go.

“How is this different from that? “How is this different to that?”

Which is the correct way to say it?

I can’t remember ever hearing, until recently, anyone say “different to.” It just sounds wrong and I think it is wrong. I’ve been hearing and seeing it more and more lately. Is that what is being taught in schools these days, or is it a vernacular mutation that is going mainstream?

Surprisingly, a web search of “different to” quickly turned up some useful information on the matter.

Here is what Oxford Dictionaries site has to say about it:

 Different from, than, or to?

Is there any difference between the expressions different from, different than, and different to? Is one of the three ‘more correct’ than the others?

In practice, different from is by far the most common of the three, in both British and American English:

We want to demonstrate that this government is different from previous governments. (British English)

This part is totally different from anything else that he’s done. (American English)

Different than is mainly used in American English:

Teenagers certainly want to look different than their parents.

Different to is much more common in British English than American English:

In this respect the Royal Academy is no different to any other major museum.

Some people criticize different than as incorrect but there’s no real justification for this view. There’s little difference in sense between the three expressions, and all of them are used by respected writers.

But Alt-Usage provides some further information and some statistics on actual usage:

“Different from” is the construction that no one will object to.

“Different to” is fairly common informally in the U.K., but rare in the U.S.

“Different than” is sometimes used to avoid the cumbersome “different from that which”, etc. (e.g., “a very different Pamela than I used to leave all company and pleasure for” – Samuel Richardson).

 Some U.S. speakers use “different than” exclusively. Some people have insisted on “different from” on the grounds that “from” is required after “to differ”. But Fowler points out that there are many other adjectives that do not conform to the construction of their parent verbs (e.g., “accords with”, but “according to”; “derogates from”, but “derogatory to”).

The Collins Cobuild Bank of English shows choice of preposition after “different” to be distributed as follows:

                    “from” “to”   “than”
U.K. writing   87.6   10.8       1.5
U.K. speech     68.8   27.3       3.9
U.S. writing  92.7       0.3     7.0
U.S. speech     69.3     0.6     30.1

So it seems it is the Brits who are to blame.

C’mon you blokes, learn to speak proper English!

911-Need we look again?

This video by David Hooper is the best document I have seen about the events that resulted in the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York on 9-11-2001.

Methodically raising the obvious questions, presenting numerous testimonies, and examining plausible explanations, this video will keep you riveted as much as the best mystery thrillers, and probably lead you, as it did me, to consider the unthinkable about what really happened on that fateful day.

ANATOMY OF A GREAT DECEPTION (New and Updated Sept 2014).

God Bless America–a New Year’s Prayer

I espouse the cause of human unity and am inclined to eschew anything that promotes nationalism, sectarian attitudes and class separation. The 1940s America that I grew up in was a place where children were taught that Americans adhered to a higher standard of humanistic values and tolerance than was the global norm. But the America of my adulthood has been greatly disappointing in that regard. Perhaps that is why I sobbed as I read this story and listened once again to Kate Smith sing this song.

My New Year’s prayer is that America will once again find its way–to set for itself a higher standard of peace and fellowship and lead by example, not by force. –t.h.g.

From an anonymous source:

You may or may not know the history of this song…
Frank Sinatra considered Kate Smith the best singer of her time and said that when he  and a million other guys first heard her sing “God Bless America” on the radio, they all pretended to have dust in their eyes as they wiped away a tear or two.
Here are the facts… The link at the bottom will take you to a video showing the  very first public singing of “GOD BLESS AMERICA”. But before you watch it, you should also know the story behind the first public showing of the song.
The  time was 1940. America was still in a terrible economic depression. Hitler was  taking over Europe and Americans were afraid we’d have to go to war. It was a  time of hardship and worry for most Americans.
This was the era just  before TV, when radio shows were HUGE, and American families sat around their radios in the evenings, listening to their favorite entertainers, and no  entertainer of that era was bigger than Kate Smith.
Yes, Kate was also large. A “Plus Size: as we now say and the popular phrase still used today is in deference to her.
Kate Smith might not have made it big in the age of TV, but with her voice coming over the radio, she was the biggest star of her time.
Kate was also patriotic. It hurt her to see  Americans so depressed and afraid of what the next day would bring. She had hope for America and faith in her fellow Americans. She wanted to do something  to cheer them up, so she went to the famous American song-writer, Irving Berlin  (who also wrote “White Christmas”) and asked him to write a song that would make  Americans feel good again about their country. When she described what she was looking for, he said he had just the song for her.
He went to his files and found a song that he had written, but never published, 22 years before – way  back in 1917. He gave it to her and she worked on it with her studio orchestra.  She and Irving Berlin were not sure how the song would be received by the  public, but both agreed they would not take any profits from God Bless America. All profits would go to the Boy Scouts of America. Over the years, the  Boy Scouts have received millions of dollars in royalties from this song.
This video starts out with Kate Smith coming into the radio studio with the orchestra and an audience. She introduces the new song for the very first time and starts singing. After the first couple verses, with her voice in the  background still singing, scenes are shown from the 1940 movie, “You’re In The  Army Now.” At the 4:20 mark of the video you see a young actor in the movie, sitting in an office, reading a paper.  It’s Ronald Reagan.
To this day, God Bless America stirs our patriotic feelings and pride in our country. Back in 1940, when Kate went looking for a song to raise the spirits of her fellow Americans, I doubt whether she realized just how successful the results would be  for her fellow Americans during those years of hardship and worry….. and for  many generations of Americans to follow.
Now that you know the story of the song, I hope you’ll enjoy  and treasure it even more.
Many  people don’t know there’s a lead-in to the song since it usually starts with “God Bless America ….” So here’s the entire song as originally sung: