Tuesday, May 26, 2015

On the Healthiness of Corners

I was born in 1952, like Mad Magazine, (that's my Alfred E. Neuman impersonation), in the days when corporal punishment was commonplace. My misbehaviors were often met with a threat, or a deliberate spanking. I'm sure I'm the better for it in some ways.  But the punishment I dreaded more, the punishment I believe was much more effective, for me, was simpler: kneeling in the corner.

"Go kneel in the corner" was a simple punishment, but very effective.  A bit of meditation, time to think about my actions, or in-actions, and their consequences. No one to talk to, all by myself. No chance for misbehavin' in the corner. If I was too energized to kneel in the corner, my father might stand behind me, making sure I didn't run away, giving my body time to settle. "Face into the corner. Think about what you have done."

Talking was no use.  The corner was for silence.  If I tried to talk, the answer was "no talking", or "we can talk about it after your time in the corner". Of course after my time in the corner, I had little interest in talking.

Only the corner to look at. Even if I closed my eyes, I could still see it.  My siblings, in the background behind me - playing, paying no attention. Me, stuck in the corner. I didn't dare move - spanking was the next level of punishment and only temporary a respite, because afterwards it was back in the corner again.

How long in the corner? I never knew.  It felt like forever, but I suspect my entire time in the corner was less than an hour or two. I had to stay in the corner until my mom, or dad, said I could go.  Had they forgotten about me?  Not allowed to talk, I couldn't ask. How long had I been here? Hard to tell... minutes seemed like hours.

What to think about? There was only one thing to think about: how did I get here?  I might place blame on my brother, or my sister, or my parents - but that got me nowhere.  I was the one in the corner.  The corner kept reflecting my focus back to me, giving me time and a reminder to reflect on myself, and my actions. My siblings were free to go, inside the house, outside playing.  And I was here, stuck in the corner.

I don't remember my parents talking to me about what I had done wrong.  Maybe they did, but I don't remember. I don't remember what I did - 50 years ago.  But I remember the corner.

When I got older, I was allowed to stand in the corner, instead of kneeling. Interesting, because I could sway left to right or back and forth.  This let my mind sway as well, considering different actions I might have taken, different choices.

Today, I have a healthy respect for corners.  Corners are everywhere. They exist where one side joins the other side. Edges are inside-out corners. Change happens in the corners, at the edges. One wall is marching along, and it hits the corner and turns. Change can happen when you are stuck in a corner as well. Corners are the end - as far as you can go. Corners are the opposite of freedom. If we want freedom, it is important to understand the opposites, and their logic.

If you've gone too far, you can find yourself cornered, stuck in a corner. Then what? Rushing away can be ineffective, take some time, ask yourself - how did I get here?  How can I avoid getting stuck here in the future?

Next time you are stuck in a corner, use it as an opportunity to reflect, to learn, to health yourself. Ask "how did I get here?"  "have I cornered myself"... My parents never put me in the corner - I did it all by myself.  What?  Me worry?

to your health, tracy
 Tracy is the author of two books about healthicine:

Friday, May 15, 2015

Nutritional Nonsense: from Coffee to Cancer

I recently spotted, this question on Quora: "What are the nutritional benefits of consuming coffee on a daily basis?" And I thought, now there's an interesting challenge for the 'science of nutrition'. So, I took it upon myself to answer with current nutritional science - according to Wiki, and to add some comments about the lack of science.  My answer, by the way, has already been down-voted.

What are the nutritional benefits of coffee? There were, of course, many answers, ranging from antioxidants, to protection against diabetes and dementia, to the nonsensical 'it gives you energy' - coffee has no calories, therefore it cannot give you energy.

What are the nutritional benefits of coffee according to nutritional science? I typed the 'nutrition of coffee' into Google and got the following from Wiki:
Coffee: Nutrition Facts Amount Per 1 fl oz (29.6 g)100 grams 6 fl oz (178 g)1 cup (8 fl oz) (237 g)100 grams   - Calories 0

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0 g 0%
Saturated fat 0 g 0%
Polyunsaturated fat 0 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Trans fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 2 mg 0%
Potassium 49 mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 0 g 0%
Dietary fiber 0 g 0%
Sugar 0 g
Protein 0.1 g 0%
Caffeine 40 mg
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0%
Iron 0%
Vitamin D 0%
Vitamin B-6 0%
Vitamin B-12 0%
Magnesium 0%

* Per cent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
My Notes:
1. Coffee has zero calories.  It is not a source of energy, although it might 'energize' you. Actually, according to the above list, coffee has a small amount of protein, and proteins contain calories.
2. Most of the items on the list of nutrients have zero value, indicating that they are NOT PRESENT in coffee.  This is a telling fact about many nutritional labels, the presence of non-ingredients.
3. The only nutritional contents of coffee, according to the science of nutrition, are sodium, potassium, protein, caffeine.
4. Many ingredients of coffee, are simply ignored by the nutritional analysis, because they are 'not on the list' of nutrients that have been deemed important by nutritional scientists. Studies of the benefits of coffee cite anti-oxidants and other chemicals, but they are 'not on the list'.
5. The listing for "Total Carbohydrate" has an error, even though carbohydrates are not present in coffee. But that's not enough error, The list of ingredients shows a 'Daily Value' of zero percent.  But there is no Daily Value for carbohydrates, so a Daily Value score of zero is nonsense.
6. The nutrient list contains 'Saturated Fats' and 'Monounsaturated Fats' even though coffee contains no saturated fats and no monounsaturated fats. Presumably this is because we used to believe that saturated fats were unhealthy.  Science has recently proven this theory wrong - and also proven that the benefits believed to come from monosaturated fats are illusory. But much of published science has not yet caught up to the latest research.
7. The nutrient list includes 'Trans Fats', even though coffee does not contain any trans fats, and trans fats are not nutrients - they are toxic chemicals.
8. The largest part of coffee is, duh.... water.  But water is not listed as a nutrient, even though the theoretical 'Daily Value' of water is 8 glasses.
9. According to Wiki, if you consume a diet of "2000 calories" of coffee daily, you will receive almost no nutrients.  And... according to Wiki, coffee contains zero calories, so a 2000 calorie diet requires drinking a few million cups a day, for nothing. Or adding milk and sugar.

In short, the nutritional value of coffee given by Google, from Wiki is mostly bunk, error prone nonsense, full of empty non-facts, non-ingredients, missing the most common ingredient - water, and missing any ingredients that are actually studied research into the benefits of coffee. At the same time as it misses most of the healthy ingredients of coffee, it lists many items that are not present at all.

Frankly, much of the current science of nutrition is similar BUNK, and this question and answer provides ample proof.

But this is not the only example.  Let's get more serious about the science of nutrition.

What foods cause cancer, and what foods protect against cancer?

This is a serious, important question. What does science have for an answer?  A recent meta-study produced this informative graphic, from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

It seems clear from the graphic, what everyone already knows.  Everything causes cancer.  And everything protects against cancer. Coffee causes cancer, coffee protects against cancer, and one study says we're not sure. That's the current state of nutritional science.

How can this happen? Why does this happen? There are two main causes.

Studies of Illness

Health is whole, illness - is a hole in your health.  Healthiness and illness are like 'light and darkness'. If someone spends their entire life studying darkness, they will know nothing about colour, saturation, hue, brightness, heat, wavelengths, rainbows, etc.  Their knowledge will be limited to various shades of black and grey, dark and darker. And so it is with health and illness. Many scientists spend their entire lifetimes studying illness, measuring illness, searching for illness and trying to 'kill' illness, or if killing it is not possible, to 'treat' the symptoms of illness.

But we know little about healthiness, there is no science of healthiness.

There are no scientists who study healthiness. There is no science of healthicine. Alice and Zizi provide the classic example.  Alice and Zizi are two women, two friends, neither of whom has any illness.  They are both 'healthy' according to modern medical science. But the question arises:

Who is healthier, Alice - or Zizi?

The more we look into this question, the more we realize that we have no tools, no techniques, no science to measure healthiness.  Alice and Ziz have no illness, no signs and symptoms of illness, so in theory, they are both perfectly healthy.  But we know this is not true. One of them is probably 'healthier' than the other. But which one? A historical analysis might show that Alice gets more colds than the other, for example, and that their colds last longer. Is that a measure of healthiness? And Zizi might be diagnosed with cancer tomorrow.  Such is the nature of cancer diagnosis. But today, we have no tools to answer the question:  "Who is healthier, Alice or Zizi?"

Nutritional studies are based entirely on illness. As a result, we have four scientific studies showing that coffee prevents cancers, one study that shows no harm or benefit, and four studies showing that coffee cause cancer.  Nutritional science in action.  Bunk.


When we attempt to study healthiness by measuring single things in isolation, we get nonsense.

Attempting to measure the benefits of coffee by analysis of the individual contents, and ignoring the contents that are 'not on our list' result in superficial analysis and nonsense.

Attempting to measure the effects of 'coffee' on cancer, in isolation from everything else in the diet, results in nonsense.

And the proof is there for everyone to see.

What is the way out?

Nutritional science finds some truths about nutrition.  Unfortunately, many of the 'truths' that are found are simplistic nonsense, useless to anyone who actually wants to find health.

If studies of illness, and reductionist studies cannot find the truth about nutrition, how can we find the answers?

The answer can only be found in studies of healthiness: healthicine. When we begin to study healthiness in earnest, we will begin to see many truths that are invisible today.  When we turn away from studies of illness, the darkness, we will begin to see the light.  There is a lot to learn.

to your health, tracy

Tracy is the author of two books about healthicine: