Video: McDonald’s ‘Frork’ – a French Fry Utensil

Watch video at You Tube (1:07 minutes) . . . . .

Is Sugar Ruining Our Health?

Amanda Z. Naprawa wrote . . . . . .

More than one-third of American adults are now classified as obese, meaning they have a body mass index of greater than 30—and putting them at increased risk for numerous health problems, including stroke, many types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. Obesity is also a key risk factor for type 2 diabetes, which in turn can lead to vision loss, kidney disease, and heart disease.

What is driving the increase? According to a panel of experts who gathered at UC Berkeley to discuss the issue, there is growing evidence that sugar—specifically the sugar that’s added to packaged and processed foods and beverages—may be a significant culprit in our deteriorating health. This is true not just in the U.S., they suggested, but around the globe, where rates of both obesity and diabetes are mirroring the increases we’re seeing here.

Sugar and sickness

According to speaker Gary Taubes, author of “The Case Against Sugar” and co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative, where he serves as Senior Scientific Advisor, there is “powerful circumstantial evidence” that added sugar is in fact making us sick. In fact, he stated that “sugar is the prime suspect on a worldwide level” when it comes to increased rates of diabetes and obesity. Taubes was joined in his assertion that sugar consumption is dangerous to our health by other nutrition and medical experts, including Ronald Krauss, MD, Senior Scientist and Director of Atherosclerosis Research at Children’s Hospital of Oakland Research Institute (CHORI); Janet King, PhD, Executive Director at CHORI and UC Davis Department of Nutrition faculty member; and Kristine Madsen, MD, Associate Professor at UCB School of Public Health.

These experts have been exploring the fundamental question of which environmental and dietary triggers may be causing the obesity epidemic and related diseases. Dr. Krauss, whose interest lies in heart disease, noted that there is compelling evidence linking the consumption of added sugar to heart disease. There are physiological reasons for this connection, said Dr. Krauss. For one thing, the fructose in refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup targets the liver in a specific way that leads to fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome—a cluster of cardiometabolic risk factors linked to heart disease. Note that this doesn’t apply to the naturally occurring fructose in fruit, which is not considered an added sugar.

Taubes asserted that sugar has a unique influence on health beyond the calories it contributes to the diet, stating that our previous understanding of a “calorie equaling a calorie” is “incomprehensibly naïve” when it comes to understanding the role of what we eat and obesity. According to Taubes, “different foods have fundamentally different effects on the body,” including the different hormones that tell our body to store and process fat. Dr. King further noted that foods high in sugar take the place of healthier foods, and that individuals with high-sugar diets tend to consume less of the recommended intakes for vitamins, minerals, protein, and other important nutrients compared with those whose diets contain less added sugar.

Curbing our consumption of added sugars

The experts pointed to two factors needed to decrease the amount of added sugar being consumed in the U.S. and abroad: increased knowledge and public health initiatives. The panel agreed that upcoming changes to nutrition labels showing the amount of added sugar in a serving will provide some help, though it will be important for public health officials to help the public understand what those labels actually mean. (Companies have until 2020 to implement the new labels, pushed back from the original deadline of 2018.) Dr. Madsen noted that taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (also known as soda taxes) have been successful at reducing soda consumption in some areas where they’ve been implemented, including Berkeley. The effect appears to be particularly strong in low-income communities. A tax on soda, Dr. Madsen said, may be one way of competing against the profit-driven motives of the soft drink industry—which spends billions of dollars every year on advertising and marketing. Soda taxes, she added, are one of the few public health interventions that actually raise money instead of costing money.

The panel recognized that changing our national focus to the health effects of added sugar may be difficult. To the public, nutrition advice often seems to swing like a pendulum, and consumers may mistrust a focus on a “new” dietary villain after decades of hearing mainly about the evils of fat. The panel also pointed to a lack of understanding among the public about what constitutes “good science,” making it easy for industry to exert influence on public opinion. Public health officials and health workers can play a key role in helping communicate nutrition advice and health recommendations to the public, they concluded.

Source: Berkeley Wellness

Egg Tortillas, Salsa and Smoothie


1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 eggs
sea salt and black pepper
2 slices Havarti cheese (or any cheese you prefer)
4 corn tortillas
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced (grab them from your garden if you can)
handful fresh basil leaves

Garden Smoothie

2 cups fresh spinach
1/2 pineapple, skinned, cored, and chopped
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
2 bananas, chopped
2 tablespoons raw agave nectar or honey (optional for a sweeter drink)


  1. To make the smoothie, combine all smoothie ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.
  2. To make the egg tortillas, melt butter in a skillet set over medium heat. Crack each egg into the skillet, but keep separate. Gently crack the yolk, and flip over when the yolk is cooked enough to be sturdy. Season with salt and pepper, and lay a slice of cheese on each egg. When eggs are cooked, remove from skillet and set aside.
  3. Place 1 corn tortilla in skillet, put 1 cooked egg on top with some tomato slices and basil, place an additional corn tortilla on top (think sandwich), and flip.
  4. Flip once or twice until the cheese is fully melted, tomato is softened, and tortillas are browned. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and egg.
  5. Cut in half or in triangles, and serve immediately with fresh salsa.

Makes 3 servings.

Source: The Organic Family Cookbook

In Pictures: Breakfast Toasts

The Role of TAVR in Treating Blocked or Narrowed Aortic Valve of the Heart

Mark Sasse, MD wrote . . . . . .

The aortic valve is the most important valve in the heart. All of the blood circulating in the body gets passed through this valve—it sends oxygen-rich blood to your brain and the rest of your body. That’s why, when this valve is not working properly, treatment is necessary; without a functioning aortic valve, people will get sicker and may die after a short period of time.

When the aortic valve becomes blocked or narrowed, we call that aortic stenosis. Typically, there are three leaflets, or flaps, that open to allow blood to flow through the valve, and then close to prevent blood from flowing backwards. Sometimes these leaflets get damaged, and plaque builds up along them; eventually, the leaflets fuse together, making the valve opening very narrow. Over time, this hole becomes smaller and smaller, so blood can’t pass through easily to the rest of the body. And because the aortic valve is the main heart valve, this problem can lead to serious cardiovascular events or even death.

There are two main causes of aortic stenosis. You can be born with it, which we call congenital aortic stenosis, or you may develop it over time, which we call senile degenerative aortic stenosis. This second type of aortic stenosis is the most common valve disease in people over the age of 65. It’s very common because people are living longer and the aortic valve takes a lot of punishment over time. As we get older, the aortic valve may become more and more damaged until we develop aortic stenosis. And unfortunately, at this point in time, there is no way to prevent aortic stenosis from occurring or delay its progression once it’s found. Once it’s detected and it becomes severe, it’s crucial that we treat aortic stenosis as soon as possible.

Treating Aortic Stenosis

The only treatment option for severe aortic stenosis is to replace the valve altogether. In the past, there was only one way to do this—through open-heart surgery. However, some patients are too sick or have too many other health conditions for open-heart surgery to be a good option—for these patients, open-heart surgery is just too risky. Until recently, patients that weren’t candidates for open-heart surgery would get sicker and sicker, and eventually die. In fact, studies have shown that 50% of patients who don’t treat severe aortic stenosis die within two years. Fortunately, in recent years, surgeons and cardiologists have been using a procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) in these high-risk patients, and the outcomes are excellent. As of August 2016, TAVR is also an option for people at intermediate risk of complications from open-heart surgery.

TAVR is a great option because it’s much less invasive than open-heart surgery–it doesn’t require the patient’s sternum to be cut, and the patient doesn’t need to be placed on the heart bypass machine–which means it’s quicker, less painful, and recovery is easier and shorter. TAVR is performed by a surgeon and cardiologist together. First, they make a small incision and guide a tube, called a sheath, into place. Then, they slide a catheter containing a small, deflated balloon into the sheath and direct the catheter into the heart. The balloon is inflated to widen the narrow opening of the aortic valve, and then the balloon is removed. Next, the surgeon and cardiologist guide a replacement valve, placed around another balloon, through the catheter to the heart. Once the new valve is inside the old valve, the balloon is inflated and the new valve is opened—it immediately pushes the original valve aside and replaces it.

There are three approaches to TAVR as far as where the surgeon and cardiologist make the initial incision. In the preferred approach, called the transfemoral approach, they make an incision in your groin to access your femoral artery. This artery leads up to the heart, so the sheath is inserted and catheter guided all the way through the artery to the heart. The transfemoral approach is ideal because it’s the least invasive, least painful, and has the best outcomes when compared to other approaches and open-heart surgery.

Source : CNN

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