Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

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The Flu : A 100 Year-old Lesson?

A Virus

The influenza season is soon to be over for this year; however, it has been a long and relatively severe one.   Perhaps we can learn a lesson from remembering the 19818 flu pandemic.  We had no flu vaccine 100 years ago and as more of us do not get the flu shot during a given year, we could approach that level of morbidity and mortality again – a frightening thought. Many people do not get a flu shot these days and therefore indirectly and unknowingly contribute to this severity.

Part of the problem involves a phenomenon called “herd immunity” and we’re not talking cattle here.  It implies that if enough people in a population are immunized against certain diseases, then it is very difficult for those diseases to spread. For example, when about 90 percent of the population is vaccinated, the spread of the disease is stopped. In other words, the 10% of the herd is susceptible but there are so many vaccinated people there is less chance that the 10% would be exposed to the disease.

Another example: In 2003, measles outbreaks became more prevalent in the UK. Part of the reason was that many parents were not having their children vaccinated with the MMR vaccine due to its alleged association with autism. Later studies failed to support this association; however due to a lack of herd immunity the increased outbreaks occurred.

So next fall when the next flu vaccine (although not perfect)  becomes available, think about a hundred years ago and get a flu shot for the “herd”.




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Homeopathic Pseudoscience?


Homeopathic medicines have the unique quality of claiming they are formulated by the “idea that “like cures like.” That is, if a substance causes a symptom in a healthy person, giving the person a very small amount of the same substance may cure the illness.”  (WebMD)

However, skeptics doubt that this “memory” occurs and there is little evidence that they have any therapeutic qualities and only rely on the power of the placebo effect. These products as well as dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA and consumers pay billions of dollars every year for these “magical” products.


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Interesting Study About Celiac Disease?

Is celiac disease an infectious disease caused by a viral infection? An interesting study says it’s possible. A reovirus is a family of viruses that cause intestinal diseases. One common one is called a rotavirus. The rotavirus is transmitted by food and water and primarily causes diarrhea. A vaccine could conceivably prevent the disease by vaccination, if this hypothesis holds true. There is along way to go for that conclusion. I’m putting this one in my category of “Weird things” until further research suggests otherwise.

R. Bouziat et al., “Reovirus infection triggers inflammatory responses to dietary antigens and development of celiac disease,” Science, doi:10.1126/science.aah5298, 2017.  


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Chorella Burgers?

A fun article about past predictions on the way we should or could be eating.  Thank goodness, most did not become reality. What would have happened to the crazy idea that eating real foods could be enjoyable?   Bon appétit!