U.S. Climate Alliance; must be non-binding or may be un-Constitutional

A little matter will move a party, but it must be something great that moves a nation. – Thomas Paine

The agreement made in June 2017 between several states and other municipalities to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement even though the Trump administration withdrew from it, may be against a clause of the Constitution that prohibits interstate agreements that are made without approval of Congress. If the agreement is cooperative in nature rather than being a ‘legally binding” contract then it would be more likely to be considered legal.


According to Thomas Paine, “A little matter will move a party, but it must be something great that moves a nation.” He was right. The planet is something great, and it has already moved many people to join together in support of protecting it and working together towards more sustainable development:

  • An alliance of health professionals has been in existence in the U.S., working to increase awareness of the risk climate change has for human health: “The US Climate and Health Alliance is a national network of health and public health practitioners dedicated to addressing the threats of climate change to health.” Read more:  usclimateandhealthalliance.org/
  • Another group also exists in the U.S. with more than 160 member organizations in their network : usclimatenetwork.org/who-we-are
  • “Make Our Planet Great Again,” is a global initiative to help reduce climate change sponsored by President Macron of  France:  makeourplanetgreatagain.fr/home

Moving to France may not be possible for many people, but that’s okay because we all can help protect the planet wherever we happen to be.

  • Here are a few easy ideas from the United Nations Sustainable Development 17 Goals initiative for helping reduce your impact on the environment no matter where you are. The ideas are in lists of things you could do from your couch, or around your home, or in your community: The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World

There are many wonderful organizations working towards protecting our planet and its many species. Finding an organization that is working on issues that interest you and is located near you is easy with the help of services like:

Why do so many people care?  — because worse case scenario predictions are being surpassed — reality is turning out even worse than predicted. We need to act together now rather than continue to deny that humans’ use of resources and production of waste is depleting the planet’s ability to recover.


How soon will our planet be too hot for life? Likely sooner than previous worse case scenarios have suggested. A long read article discusses aspects of climate change in addition to temperature that may put human and other species at risk in the future:

  • The Uninhabitable Earth: When will climate change make the Earth too hot for humans? nymag.com

The short answer: “Actually, we’re about there already. Since 1980, the planet has experienced a 50-fold increase in the number of places experiencing dangerous or extreme heat; a bigger increase is to come.”

Technological advances have been made but we have to put them in place instead of continuing to protect and expand fossil fuel industries and products that depend on them. And we have to each make the small daily changes or annual changes in reducing our use of non-renewable resources.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

“Sharpen the saw” or grab a shovel?

Former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln has been quoted saying many things on the internet that he didn’t actually say or write.

Sharpen the saw,” is one of the seven habits discussed by Stephen Covey in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. [1] It may have been based on one of the quotes that has been falsely attributed to Abraham Lincoln:

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” [2]

A blogger on the history of Abraham Lincoln states that the quote is not Lincoln’s words [3] and provides a link to a search engine of all of Lincoln’s known works. [6]

I’m relieved actually. It is important to have the right tool for a job and to have it in well maintained order, however anyone who has sharpened an axe or seen it done would know that the job doesn’t take four hours. And more to the point, you might need to stop several times throughout the longer project in order to resharpen the axe – for a few minutes – maintenance is an ongoing need not only something to consider only during preparation for a job.

Returning to the topic of a recent post of mine “ask a lazy person to do a job and they will find the easy way” [4] – I had a small tree to cut down recently and I grabbed a shovel and small handsaw to do the job.

Dig up a tree? that is taller than myself? and the roots go down as far as the branches go up? what am I crazy?

No, an observant person studies the job before deciding on the strategy or tools that may be best for the particular situation. Some trees will re-sprout from the tree trunk and may sprout many small trunks from the root-stock. Sawing that type of tree down will just leave you with another crop of saplings sprouting from the stump that you will have to cut down again every year or so.

Getting at the root of the problem is the lazy person’s secret. Study the problem and choose the best tool and strategy for both the long term and the short term.

I grabbed a shovel and dug around the stump enough to expose the few main roots and then grabbed the handsaw. Roots are moist when the soil is moist and sawing through them was more like sawing wet spaghetti than having to saw through a tree trunk. Several main roots had to be found and cut and then the tree was down, in just a few minutes. The remaining parts of the roots that are deeper in the ground may re-sprout but without the stump joining them together maybe they won’t. Time will tell.

The slogan “Sharpen the saw,” is alliterative which helps make it memorable, however for the average saw owner sharpening all those serrated points is not as easy or as possible as sharpening the straight blade of an axe. It is better to oil the saw and protect it from moisture to prevent it from ever getting rusty and dull in the first place. The slogan by Stephen Covey is not really about saws however, it is about preparing oneself as well as one’s tools. Adequate sleep and nutrients, adequate training and mentors, are all important tools for success in addition to the sharpened saw.

Stephen Covey’s books and time management tools have been useful for helping me improve my skills. The Eighth Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness [5] was published more recently as a addition or follow up to the first book in the series, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The Sharpen the Saw habit and the others are described in more detail on his website: [1]

I told you that story to get to a different point — I stopped “spring cleaning” [7] on this site because I’ve been “uprooting” the notes here and reorganizing them on a website with a non-blog format.

Blogs are great because they have a built-in search engine that makes it easier to find things in notes that have collected over many years. However, when my “notes” turn out to be nine pages on a word processor, then clearly, for me, a blog may not be that user friendly either. Unlike a daily blog, it is better for the new site to be complete before making it public, I’m closer to the finish line now.

I do like having the blog though too, for notes and use of its search engine, there is room for a variety of tools in one’s toolkit — but to keep them all well oiled and sharpened at the same time becomes a time management issue challenging enough for the laziest person.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

  1. https://www.stephencovey.com/7habits/7habits-habit7.php
  2. https://www.dumblittleman.com/7-must-read-life-lessons-from-abraham/
  3. http://abrahamlincolnblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/lincoln-never-said-these-life-lessons.html
  4. http://transcendingsquare.com/2017/07/11/hot-air-or-great-idea/
  5. https://www.stephencovey.com/8thHabit/8thhabit.php
  6. http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/
  7. http://transcendingsquare.com/2017/04/13/spring-cleaning-pardon-the-dust/


Prenatal ultrasounds are a great idea, but for baby too?

I told you the last story to tell you a different one. My father is not a computer scientist but as a mechanical engineer and he liked to build things in his spare time in a home workshop with many tools with which he could custom make hand engineered parts built to fit whatever the project required.

As a professional mechanical engineer he worked on national defense projects for a company who contracted with the U.S. government.  He didn’t own the patents on any of his work as a employee; all rights to his inventions and collaborations remained the property of the company. Feeling proud to work in defense of your country is a reward in itself.

One of the projects he worked on in collaboration with two other engineers is still in active production. Underwater detection of submarines is performed with sound-waves, somewhat like whale’s communicating with songs that travel across oceans, or like bat’s sending out clicks and listening for the rebound in echo location. Fascinating and not my area to try to explain in more detail. The Sonar detecting equipment that my father helped invent is still in production for the defense of the nation and I am very proud of him and his work.

Since the initial invention of the sound-wave technology the same “ultrasound” technology was adapted for use to make black and white images of the interior of the body that are formed of soft tissue and can’t be viewed with an X-Ray in the way that hard bone tissue can be viewed. The ultrasound technology can be used to view organs or look for tumors and it is now regularly used to view and make images of a fetus during it’s prenatal development.

The use of ultrasound imaging for viewing babies has become almost standard as an early proof of pregnancy even though it is not necessary as lab tests checking hormonal changes are also performed.

The use of ultrasound imaging during pregnancies has become standard in the United States, however women in China may not receive an ultrasound during their pregnancies.

To skip back to the whale song momentarily — try to visualize the sound-waves of a deep long note or tone that is strong enough to travel across an ocean and now the bat clicking. The deep long note travels across the ocean from one whale to another and is heard as communication.  Or the clicks of a dolphin or a bat are sent out in long deep or shorter more rapid notes that bounces off an object and returns to be interpreted as a map or echo location. Now try to visualize the ultrasound technician holding an ultrasound device that sends long deep notes through the abdomen into the watery environment surrounding or making up the body of the baby. Sound travels well through liquid and it would be loud.

Research studies on the effects of ultrasound imaging on the expected fetus took place in China with a group of women who were requesting abortions. Other studies with animal subjects have replicated part of the results which showed that ultrasound could cause fetal cells to move out of place within the developing infant. Ultrasound waves when held in one place for a longer time and at a closer distance were found to cause actual movement of fetal cells out of their normal positions.  [The animal-based research study.]

Other risks were also noted in the research performed in China, most significantly when the imaging wand was used for ten minutes instead of three and when it was used in an internal, vaginal position instead of using a larger external sweeping motion across the expanse of the abdomen. [pubmed/11776185 ]

The other risks to the infant included increased heat especially within the bony cavity of the skull which has been studied elsewhere without any babies. A container of water was found to consistently have an increase in temperature occur after just one minute of ultrasound exposure. Specific types of ultrasound devices vary somewhat and the recommendations and cautions regarding ultrasound use in pregnancy are available in this research article: [PMC4547707 ] Avoiding use of ultrasounds during the first trimester is recommended in the article and using the lowest settings possible for patients who have a medical need for ultrasound imaging is recommended for prenatal patients in later stages of pregnancy.

Gastroschisis is a rare medical condition in a developing fetus that might require an ultrasound for diagnosis around 18-20 weeks/gestation as surgery would be needed shortly after the baby’s birth as the condition would likely be deadly otherwise. An opening in the infant’s abdomen near the umbilical cord allows some of the intestine and/or liver to be outside of the body. [cincinnatichildrens.org/gastroschisis]

Protecting the developing brain of the fetus is important throughout the pregnancy but  the greatest risk to the fetus from ultrasounds may occur during the first trimester according to a research study that took place elsewhere than China.

  • A book, 50 Human Studies, in Utero, Conducted in Modern China, Indicate Extreme Risk for Prenatal Ultrasound: A New Bibliography by Jim West, a non-Chinese scientist, is available in which the findings from the Chinese studies are summarized for English readers and a Japanese translation is now also available. The book is mentioned on the following site along with a variety of links to research on the topic of the use of ultrasounds prenatally and a potential increased risk for autism developing in the infant later in life: ultrasound-autism.org
  • A lengthy review of the book and the history of how it came to be written by Jim West is available here: whale.to/50 Human Studies.
  • An excerpt summarizes the recommendation regarding ultrasound use prenatally based on findings by a project that ultimately involved approximately 100 scientists in China and 2,700 maternal-fetal pairs, between 1988-2011 :

“From these human studies, Professor Ruo Feng, of the Acoustic Institute at Nanjing University, published guidelines in 2000:

“Commercial or educational fetal ultrasound imaging should be strictly eliminated. Ultrasound for the identification of fetal sex and fetal entertainment imaging should be strictly eliminated. For the best early pregnancy, avoid ultrasound.”

Ruo Feng, who reviewed many of the studies, stipulated that routine ultrasound be avoided. Only if there were exceptional medical indications should ultrasound be allowed, and at minimum intensity. Sessions should be very brief, no more than 3 minutes, 5 minutes at most. Multiple sessions should be avoided because hazards are cumulative. Human studies had found sensitive organs damaged at 1 minute exposure.

The Chinese studies echo and confirm the earlier, ignored and rejected, 1984 “Consensus Statement”, published by the National Institute of Health and signed by the preeminent American scientists of that era. 2″  – whale.to/50 Human Studies

  • I learned of this research on the potential risks of ultrasound when researching other topics on possible causes of autism. Many factors may be involved in the risk of autism developing, which, in combination, can lead to changes occurring in the developing fetus that aren’t obvious in the infant but which may flair up into an autoimmune-like reaction during toddler-hood if there are enough negative factors and not enough or an adequate variety of nutrients and other positive factors in the child’s home life. Genetic susceptibilities are also involved but none identified thus far have been found to lead to autism without there being additional environmental toxins or nutrient deficiencies involved.
  • Autism can be caused by the use of thalidomide prenatally. That wouldn’t be recommended as the medication can also cause physical birth defects when used during a pregnancy, however it is a medication used for some non-pregnancy related conditions and there might be an occasional unplanned pregnancy. The point is not only that planning pregnancies is recommended so that prenatal vitamins can be started months in advance (ideally a year prior to conception for least risk of autism in one study); and so that potentially toxic medications can be gradually stopped before trying to conceive; but that if autism can be caused by a medication then how could it also be a natural variation?
  • Family studies suggest that personality traits slightly similar to autistic characteristics can be more common in the family members of patients with autism. Protecting the developing fetus from ultrasounds that are too intense, or go on for too long a time causing over-heating can be a simple way to help protect the child’s true genetic potential. Higher functioning people with Asperger’s like symptoms and skills may represent the more natural variation end of the autism spectrum while patients at the least functioning end of the spectrum have likely been exposed to more variety of toxins and possibly with less nutrients available or less genetic detoxification ability available to excrete the toxins.
  • The use of ultrasounds in addition to other factors may all be adding up to increased rate of autism that has been seen in our modern culture.
  • Using equipment that was originally designed to  detect submarines to take pictures of a developing infant is a practice to use cautiously rather than allowing it to become typical for all pregnancies or to be available for non-medical reasons, possibly performed by non-medical staff who may not follow safe procedures in the pursuit of a better image. In some areas the technology has been used for photo-booth type purposes, “Have you noticed ultrasound boutiques popping up in strip malls?”. Read more: birthrelaxationkit.com/ Ultrasound Concerns for Baby’s Development.
  • If the damage can accumulate with repeated exposure as suggested by the statement by Dr. Ruo Feng then each additional ultrasound may be adding to the risk of a neurological conditions such as autism.

Ultrasound technology is currently being used medically in other ways then prenatal or soft tissue imaging. It may be used specifically as a heat treatment on sore or cramped muscles during a physical therapy session.  And still in the research phases, high frequency ultrasound waves are being used at more intense strengths to actually kill cancer cells. That would be a safer technique for the health of the surrounding tissue than using radiation on cancerous tumors. X-ray type radiation is directed at the tumor in a rotating manner so that surrounding tissue gets less rays while the tumor gets a maximum dose in order to kill the cancerous cells.

So killing cancer cells with high frequency soundwaves sounds like a great idea compared to being rotated on a table while an X-ray is directed at a tumor. Eating healthy and not getting a tumor also sounds good.

  • Having an ultrasound during the first trimester of a pregnancy doesn’t sound good to me. Disclosure – I declined any ultrasounds for both of my pregnancies. I had listened to my dad play whale songs for too many hours of my youth to want my babies to have a sound wave ray gun directed at them. My thought at the time, which research suggests was an accurate concern, was, “I don’t want to risk scrambling my baby’s brain just to see what sex it is. I’d prefer to wait and see anyway.”
  • At the time of my pregnancies, ultrasounds were still a fairly “new-fangled” invention or service which was offered as a choice rather than being expected with every single “I’m expecting a baby” announcement. Send a photo of the urine test stick instead or the results from the official lab test. Once you’ve seen one black and white fuzzy image of a blob, you’ve seen them all – you can trust me on that. Ultrasound images have become so standard they are used as proof of pregnancy for agencies that offer free services to women who are pregnant and I admired a lot of little adorable blobs — women can be very protective of their babies, no matter what they look like.

So protecting your newly conceived baby’s brain seems worth considering , not just the fuzzy image for a birth announcement.

In high risk pregnancies there may be an increased number of ultrasounds recommended, possibly just to be cautious. It is okay as a patient to ask questions about medical necessity and what is truly necessary and what is possibly being recommended to look thorough in case of a potential malpractice suit. If the ultrasound tests themselves may be increasing risk to the infant though, then how cautious is it to use them more often just because a woman’s pregnancy has some high risk factor?

It’s okay to ask questions. It’s your baby, your body, and your baby’s brain and future at risk.

  • A whale song combined with music by a musician I listened to as a child can be heard online; Whale Lullaby, with music by Paul Winter: Youtube.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.


Hot air or great idea?

What seems like “hot air,” an idea with no substance, to one person may seem like a great idea to another person that simply needs more time to be developed or to catch on with enough other people.

“Invention requires a long’term willingness to be misunderstood.” – Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, an internet based mail order company, has said that “Invention requires a long-term willingness to be misunderstood.” The mail order company started by offering a large variety of books available to be ordered and shipped to individual purchasers, and it has since expanded into offering products in many categories of retail sales. Over the years other book stores have lost business while Amazon has expanded.

When I was young, my father, who is a mechanical engineer rather than a computer scientist, built his first computer in the early 1970’s as a hobby, from bits of wire and metal and other “stuff.” I was young. He used a sturdy brief case as the framework to contain the smaller components but the case could still be closed and looked just like a small suit case. It was cool but didn’t seem that impressive at the time, other kids were playing colorful games on their TV screens with the earliest gaming systems. He had one text based find-your-way-through-a-maze game on it that was fun to play and a paddle based game similar to “Pong.” At the time he predicted that one day people would be able to order their groceries on their own computer and have it all delivered to their home instead of their having to go to the store –> skeptical silence and the thought, “Sure dad, one day.” He had a lot of ideas, were they all hot air?

Well the day has already arrived for many people  and laptop computers look a lot like small suitcases that you can close and carry around with you.

Sometimes ideas just take forty years.

Something else from my childhood helped me to better appreciate my father’s eccentricities. The biographyCheaper by the Dozen” was written by two children,  Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, who grew up with ten other siblings and their efficiency expert parents. Both the children’s father and mother became well known as job efficiency experts in the early era of industrialization when factories made a transition to assembly line type work. Their father and mother became consultants and speakers on the topic of job efficiency and the use of time and motion studies for improving speed and effectiveness of workers.

My father also filmed home movies and studied the efficiency of motion and how to do a job in the simplest way.

Small improvements in tools or how a job was performed could significantly improve a worker’s speed and reduce the physical demands on their body. A less tired worker can work longer and more easily sustain a steady pace with fewer errors.

Frank Gilbreth, Sr. the father of the two children who wrote Cheaper by the Dozen, is suggested to be the original speaker who coined the concept underlying the quote: “Choose a Lazy Person To Do a Hard Job Because That Person Will Find an Easy Way To Do It.” The quote has also been attributed to Bill Gates and Clarence Bleicher, and Walter Chrysler.  The article on  QuoteInvestigator.com makes the point that many different industry experts would have heard Frank Gilbreth, Sr. speaking on the topic but that his words were less compact, less of a repeatable soundbite than the variation by Clarence Bleicher that is more similar to the words quoted here which is the version attributed to Bill Gates and Walter Chrysler. QuoteInvestigator.com

As my own level of chronic pain and chronic fatigue have increased and decreased over the years I can better understand how a “lazy” person might simply “need” to find a more efficient, stream-lined way to do things because their body simply might not be able to work at a faster or more strenuous pace.

As a guide for parenting I would not recommend the book Cheaper by the Dozen, eccentric is a kind word, but as a fascinating account of the genius of two people, Frank Bunker Gilbreth and Lillian Moller Gilbreth, who helped shape the assembly lines of our modern world, I would recommend that you make haste to your nearest used book store or Amazon or other favorite website page and buy a copy. As a parenting guide it could also be helpful for providing creative ideas to modify for modern times. The children include their parent’s courtship in the book and describe how the family coped with twelve children in an efficient and orderly way. Unusual vacations and hobbies are also described in a delightful way that make the 1920’s and 30’s seem like the family road-trip that we just took yesterday in the new Model T.

And if you don’t have time for a book or trip to Amazon then here’s an article with tips for improving the learning environment of your place of business or other organization: Here’s Why You’re Failing to Create a Learning Culture, towardsmaturity.org (2017/06/30).

The tips for promoting a learning culture at a business suggest:

  • trusting staff to guide their own learning;
  • giving staff autonomy to contribute ideas;
  • make learning resources easily accessible to staff;
  • make learning part of the every day work style rather than making it seem like an activity that only occurs at occasional seminars;
  • reward learning by recognizing staff achievements or contributions or by other ways that show learning and creative ideas are encouraged and shared with the team rather than thought of as a waste of time or a nuisance.

-Read more: towardsmaturity.org .

Hot air, who would have ever believed we really could use it to fly? And yet people figured out how to make it work anyway.

Pong was a simple looking game introduced in 1972/1975. It had black and white images, with one moving white ball and a pair of  moving white straight lines that were used as the paddles in ping-pong style game. A player had to slide the paddle in place in time for the ball to collide with it and be volleyed back to the other side rather than disappearing into the edge of the screen. The arrow keys on the computer were the controls. Wikipedia.

Gaming and shopping has changed. Now your groceries may be able to be delivered by a drone, that is powered by a remote control system, that may have been developed in some part from the many hours of gaming time that eventually developed from the intial up and down arrow keys on the keyboard.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Happy Independence Day! “Let freedom ring!”

Let freedom ring! – Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us in his I Have a Dream speech to sing out for each other’s freedom.

Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us in his I Have a Dream speech to sing out for each other’s freedom. His words still ring true today.

“I have a dream today”

  • August 28, 1963 – ‘We have come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now’
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.
“And if America is to be a great nation this must become true.

So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

-An excerpt from Martin Luther King, Jr’s I Have a Dream speech was included in a commemorative article in The Guardian Aug 28, 2008, which was published on the 45th anniversary of the speech.

-The line “Let freedom ring” is from the song “My Country, Tis of Thee,” also known as “America,” which was written by Samuel Francis Smith, Wikipedia.

-The lyrics to the “old Negro spiritual” referred to in the speech are thought to be from a song called “Free at Last” according to a reeply on a public Q/A forum. The lyrics are included along with the full text of Martin Luther King Jr’s speech on the forum.quoteland.com webpage.


“Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Such a beautiful reminder to value each other and our freedom on this Independence Day, two hundred and forty one years since the first fourth of July celebration.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. 

Pre-eclampsia, oxidative stress, and Celiac sprue

Pre-eclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy which can become life threatening to the mother and baby. High blood pressure and severe swelling of the lower legs and face are symptoms of pre-eclampsia. If the condition worsens it is called eclampsia and seizures may be the life threatening risk. The swelling can become severe enough that toxin removal by the kidneys is reduced.

What causes pre-eclampsia is not yet well understood. Providing IV solutions of magnesium sulfate just prior to delivery helps reduce risk of seizures and usually delivery of the baby causes the rest of the symptoms to resolve. However people who’ve experienced IVs of magnesium sulfate shared with me that it feels like fire running through their veins. Background information — magnesium is an electrically active mineral that during normal health is kept in a very narrow range within the blood and is largely found within the interior of cells and within the bones. Calcium is also electrically active and it is in higher concentration within the blood than within the interior of cells.

Skipping ahead, oxidative stress prenatally has been shown to be involved in pre-eclampsia and it causes an increase in calcium flow in the placenta. [1]

While looking for more information about pre-eclampsia I found a Celiac Sprue forum [2] that included questions and comments about whether anyone else with celiac gluten intolerance had also experienced pre-eclampsia or HELLP complications of pregnancy and if so any ideas why they might co-occur. HELLP is a blood coagulation problem which I didn’t look into but Celiac sprue and pre-eclampsia may be likely to co-occur because both involve oxidative stress:

Hi, I’m a dietitian with an autoimmune condition and previous work experience with prenatal health. I’ve been researching why the advice I gave when I was working helped so many women at the time worked – but isn’t in the mainstream medical treatment yet. Increasing magnesium rich foods such as beans, nuts, and seeds helped women that had a history of preeclampsia or high blood pressure to have a normal pregnancy.

In a nut shell – oxidative stress causes the placenta to increase flow of calcium. Too much calcium can cause other cellular reactions and fluid changes. And oxidative stress can be caused by gluten exposure when there is an underlying celiac autoimmune condition or probably other autoimmune conditions.

Re oxidative stress, and calcium channels in the placenta: Reactive Oxygen Species Inhibit Polycystin-2 (TRPP2) Cation Channel Activity In Term Human Syncytiotrophoblast [1]

Re Celiac Sprue and oxidative stress, “long chain omega 3 fatty acids, plant flavonoids and carotenoids” were suggested as antioxidants that may help reduce the “oxidative stress, gene expression & production of inflammatory mediators”:  Celiac disease, inflammation and oxidative damage: a nutrigenetic approach.   Carotenoids include beta-carotene from carrots. Orange, red and dark green fruits and vegetables are generally good sources of carotenoids and plant flavonoids are also found in a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish oil supplements or salmon, tuna, sardines – limit as a mercury source however during pregnancy or child bearing years. Vegetarian sources of a precursor omega 3 fat include flax seed meal (ground is digestible, whole flax seeds aren’t really), walnuts, and hemp seed kernels.

Sesame seeds, or tahini, sesame paste, has been shown in sports research to help reduce oxidative stress. The trial subjects ate 2 tablespoons per day of the seeds. Effects of Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) Supplementation on Creatine Kinase, Lactate Dehydrogenase, Oxidative Stress Markers, and Aerobic Capacity in Semi-Professional Soccer Players.

Dark chocolate has also been shown to be beneficial antioxidant source.

Best wishes to any Celiac sufferers – I avoid gluten due to intolerance, initially for fibromyalgia like symptoms, and later autoimmune thyroid  antibodies were found but not antibodies for Celiac Sprue.

A dietitian can help work out more balanced diets when major food items have to be excluded for health purposes. A professional organization offers a search feature for helping to find a Registered Dietitian eatright.org/find-an-expert


One more link that didn’t make it into the comment, magnesium deficiency in combination with elevated calcium levels may be involved in increasing oxidative stress: Magnesium deficiency and oxidative stress: an update, 2016,  [3]

Who am I? What is my purpose? I am a sick person, with professional health experience, who reads and writes about sickness for my own health and for other sick people — they are the ones who realize just how valuable health is and who may appreciate information whether it has a large price tag & an expensive office — or is shared freely out of love and concern. Pain hurts.

One more link because they’re so informative, the inflammatory system seems to be connected to both pain receptors and other nerve receptors so inflammation, (which leads to oxidative stress) activates pain receptors (nociceptors) – /speculation/ which could be part of the reason fibromyalgia and other inflammatory conditions cause pain – they may simply be causing pain receptors to be over-active due to inflammation: Neurogenic Inflammation – The Peripheral Nervous System’s Role in Host Defense and Immunopathology [4]

The inflammatory process causes oxidative stress: Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress as a major cause of age-related diseases and cancer. [5]

Adequate oxygen intake and flow to all the cells throughout the body is also necessary to prevent oxidative stress. Obesity can make it more difficult for oxygenated blood to reach all cells. [6]

Moderate exercise and deep breathing relaxation exercises may be helpful for improving oxygen intake and blood flow.

A previous article I wrote regarding magnesium and pre-eclampsia also includes information from a research hypothesis suggesting that intrauterine pressure itself may also be a trigger for worsening pre-eclampsia symptoms. [7] Not included in the hypothesis was why — which is likely to be due to the fact that physical (osmotic) pressure can cause TRP ion channels to open. TRP channels are a large group of specialized proteins which control flow of minerals such as calcium into the interior of cells. TRP channels include the ones that were shown to be dysregulated by oxidative stess in the placenta which allowed an increase of calcium to enter, which is described in the research article: Reactive Oxygen Species Inhibit Polycystin-2 (TRPP2) Cation Channel Activity In Term Human Syncytiotrophoblast [1]

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

  1.  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5435874_Reactive_Oxygen_Species_Inhibit_Polycystin-2_TRPP2_Cation_Channel_Activity_In_Term_Human_Syncytiotrophoblast
  2. https://www.celiac.com/gluten-free/topic/55927-pre-eclampsia-celiac/
  3. A.A. Zheltova, et al., Magnesium deficiency and oxidative stress: an update, Biomedicine (Taipei). 2016 Dec; 6(4): 20.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5112180/
  4. Isaac M. Chiu, et al., Neurogenic Inflammation – The Peripheral Nervous System’s Role in Host Defense and Immunopathology,  Nat Neurosci. 2012 Jul 26; 15(8): 1063–1067.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3520068/
  5. Khansari N, Shakiba Y, Mahmoudi M., Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress as a major cause of age-related diseases and cancer. Recent Pat Inflamm Allergy Drug Discov. 2009 Jan;3(1):73-80. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19149749
  6. N. Netzer, Hypoxia, Oxidative Stress and Fat., Biomolecules. 2015 Jun; 5(2): 1143–1150.
  7. http://transcendingsquare.com/2011/02/19/preeclampsia-magnesium-deficiency-or-grass-staggers/

GPI anchors are cell membrane glycoproteins

Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins are long and firmly embed within the membrane and leave an extension out over the surface of the membrane. One end of the protein stays embedded firmly within the cell membrane and the other end can attach to a variety of important molecules such as enzymes and antigens. The enzyme or antigen is held above the cell membrane in a position that makes it available to be activated on the cell surface.

The phosphatidylinositol end is lipid (oil or fat) based and dissolves well in the fatty acid rich environment found within the membrane. The glyco- or sugar part of the molecule is able to dissolve in water or form bonds with other proteins or carbohydrates and is found on the end of the molecule that sticks out over the surface of the membrane.

GPI anchor proteins are essential for life. Mice that were experimentally made to lack the gene thought to encode for GPI anchor proteins did not survive. Experimental “knockout” mice are usually observed to see what types of function the knocked out gene might have performed. The experiment showed that GPI anchors were necessary for basic survival of baby mice. (Ref. 1, Brooks, Dwek, Schumacher, 2002, p 225) When a protein is found to be so essential that a “knockout” mouse doesn’t survive than more minor differences are attempted to be made in order to try to find out what types of functions are changed or are missing from the more slightly modified “knockout” mice.

Background information: GPI anchors are found in some types of G-protein couple receptors and may have importance within the cannabinoid receptor system which has been found to play early and essential roles in implantation of the newly fertilized egg within the mother’s uterus.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

  1. Brooks SA, Dwek MV, Schumacher U., Functional and Molecular Glycobiology, (Bios, 2002, Oxford, UK)
  2. Landry Y, Niederhoffer N, Sick E, Gies JP., Heptahelical and other G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) signaling., Curr Med Chem. 2006;13(1):51-63. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16457639]
  3. Maccarrone M, Bernardi G, […], and Centonze D., Cannabinoid receptor signalling in neurodegenerative diseases: a potential role for membrane fluidity disturbance., Br J Pharmacol. 2011 August; 163(7): 1379-1390 [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165948/]

Additional note on GPI anchors:

  1. Fujita M, Kinoshita T. “GPI-anchor remodeling: potential functions of GPI-anchors in intracellular trafficking and membrane dynamics.” Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Aug;1821(8):1050-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2012.01.004. Epub 2012 Jan 11.  Abstract: [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22265715] “and discuss how GPI-anchors regulate protein sorting, trafficking, and dynamics.”

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Sugars give energy and structure to life

Carbohydrates are molecules of various size and shape which are formed from atoms of carbon (chemical symbol “C”) and water molecules (chemical symbol “H2O”).  An atom is the single smallest chemical unit of an element. A molecule is the single smallest unnit of a more complex chemical made up of atoms of other elemental chemicals or small groups of atoms that typically stay together in chemical reactions. The name carbohydrate means ‘hydrate of carbon.’

As single molecules carbohydrates are commonly known as sugars and  the single molecules  of  a sugar may be found in nature in a ring form or in a straight chain of carbon atoms that have hydrogen (H) and hydroxyl groups (OH) from the water molecules connected to the string of carbon atoms. As a visual, imagine a diamond ring where the gold band is made up of five to nine atoms of carbon and the diamond is an OH group that kind of points outward.

Individual carbohydrate molecules are called simple sugars or monosaccharides. They are commonly found in the diet as disaccharides, pairs of two monosaccharides, and as long chain polysaccharides in the form of the energy rich starches and the indigestible fiber found in cell walls of plants.

In a fluid environment such as a glass of fruit juice, the individual monosaccharides may be found as a straight chain of linked carbon atoms or as closed rings. The ring form is more stable chemically. A glass of sugar water made with pure glucose would only have ~0.0026% of the glucose molecules in the straight chain formation, the rest would be in some variation of the the ring form.

The juice of the sugar cane gives us sucrose or table sugar, which is made up of two 6 carbon monosaccharides, one molecule of glucose and one of fructose. The disaccharide lactose is better known as milk sugar and is made up of one molecule of galactose and one of glucose.

Mannose and fucose are monosaccharides that are less common in unprocessed foods but are very useful as food additives in mixtures such as ice cream or pudding.

  • Fucose is commonly found in brown seaweeds. About forty percent of the dry weight of brown seaweeds is the commercially useful alginate polysaccharides. Alginates are used as food additives to help stabilize mixtures and act as emulsifiers which help keep the mixture well mixed even while the food mixture remains still when sitting for weeks or months in a package on the grocery shelf or kitchen cupboard.
  • Mannans are the polysaccharide of mannose. Mannans are found in red algae which is useful for its agar and carrageenan content. They are used as food additives for their gelatinous properties and as thickeners.
  •  Carrageenan may be a health risk and has been shown to cause inflammation, impaired glucose tolerance and increased insulin resistance in lab animals at levels that might be found in comparable amounts in an average day’s food for a person. An update suggests that in larger quantities or more daily use that carrageenan may be linked to gastrointestinal symptoms or glucose intolerance. [12]
  • Mannans are also the main type of energy storage starch in the seeds of the oil palm trees.
  • One variety of the tree species, the ivory nut tree, is also known as ‘vegetable ivory.’ The mannan within the ivory like seeds resembles the overlapping long polysaccharide chains of cellulose, which is the type of fiber more commonly found in plant cell walls.

Other uses of the oil palm:  There are two types of oil produced from the seed of oil palm trees. Palm kernel oil is paler in color than the reddish color, beta-carotene rich, palm oil. Palm kernel oil contains a higher percentage of saturated fat than palm oil. It may increase the risk of high blood cholesterol but is an inexpensive cooking oil. Palm kernel oil is also frequently used in the production of soap because some of the saturated fatty acids produce good lather, even in salty sea water. Fibrous seed pulp that is left after oil production is used as animal feed.

  • The monosaccharide mannose may be the active factor that gives cranberries a reputation for helping prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). The monsaccharide mannose is thought to help make the lining of the bladder more resistant to infectious bacteria. More research is needed though to prove health benefits from cranberries or from more concentrated supplemental doses of D-Mannose.
  • Update – clinical research with patients with UTI symptoms were found to benefit from the use of D-mannose supplements. Two grams of D-mannose in powder form was given dissolved in a glass of water each day as a preventative. Patients in the D-mannose group were found to have fewer Urinary Tract Infections than the group who received daily low dose antibiotics. The control group of patients who recieved neither D-mannose or antibiotics had the most UTIs during the study (six months). The role mannose has to play in helping protect against UTI causing bacteria is discussed in further detail in the following article: D-Mannose for UTI Prevention Validated in Clinical Trial. [10] Capsules of cranberry concentrate or extract were found effective for preventing UTIs compared to drinking cranberry juice. [11]

Glyconutrients are essential for helping protect cell surfaces from infectious agents – so fans of cranberries are probably onto a good thing for more than one reason. Cranberries provide other healthy nutrients such as vitamin C so enjoying them provides the body a variety of helpful nutrients. [11]

The complex branching that is possible when monosaccharides and disaccharides join together in long chains is an essential part of our immune system defense. The surface of cells and bacteria and other microbes all have identifying molecules of complex sugar containing molecules which are used to tell friend from foe – like having a Welcome mat out on the front door or a Please Don’t Disturb sign hanging on the doorknob.

These longer types of molecules and the types of structures they form are discussed in more detail in the post: To Termites, Trees are like giant Sugar Cubes .

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

First posted (July 16, 2013), revised 4/18/2017.


  1. S.A. Brooks, M. V. Dwek, U. Schumacher, Functional and Molecular Glycobiology, (BIOS Scientific Publishers, Ltd., 2002), Amazon.
  2. Out of One Many, or How to Use Agar Agar,” (Dec. 17, 2008) by chocolatecoveredKatie.com.
  3. Palm Kernel,” Wikipedia (Warning: this Wikipedia entry contains an old war propaganda poster about harvesting palm seeds which may offend some people and for that very reason should never be forgotten.)
  4. Palm Kernel Oil,” Wikipedia.
  5. Palm Oil,” Wikipedia.
  6. D-Mannose Offers Great Protection Against Urinary Tract Infections,”  SmartPublications.com.
  7. Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of a health claim related to a Uroval® and urinary tract infection pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation,” (EC) No 1924/20061, EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy
    pdf: efsa.europa.eu.
  8. L. Johnston, “Natural Urinary Tract Health: The D-Mannose Solution,” healingtherapies.info.
  9. A Weil, “Is Carrageenan Safe?” (Oct. 1, 2012), drweil.com.
  10. D-Mannose for UTI Prevention Validated in Clinical Trialhttp://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/04/28/d-mannose-uti-prevention.aspx
  11. Cranberries, Health Benefits, Facts, Researchhttp://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269142.php
  12. What is Carrageenan? https://wellnessmama.com/2925/what-is-carrageenan/

To termites, trees are like giant sugar cubes

Sugar cubes contain the disaccharide known as sucrose which is made up of one molecule of the monosaccharide most common in fruit called fructose in addition to one molecule of the monosaccharide called glucose which is essential for energy production within the body and brain.

The cellulose portion of trees is made of long fairly straight chains of glucose with no fructose, so trees and sugar cubes aren’t really alike. The bonds between table sugar and tree fiber are at slightly different angles which means a hungry person or animal would require different enzymes in order to be able to break them down during digestion into smaller molecules and atoms for further use as an energy source.

The straighter angle between the simple sugars of plant fiber allow the linked chains of glucose to line up with each other.  When lined up the fibers then can form layers, which might seem a little like sheets of paper stacked on top of each other in a book, except it would be a round cylinder doughnut shaped book. Cellulose is one type of plant fiber, it and other types of plant fiber are found in the cell walls throughout the plant in the leaves, stems and roots.

Chitin is similar strong chain of the simple sugar N-acetylglucosamine. The simple sugars in chitin and cellulose both have the slightly straighter beta angle than the bonds found in energy storage starches or polysaccharides. Termites [3] and the bacteria found in the stomach of grazing animals are able to digest the stronger beta bonds of cellulose.

Humans and most other animals can’t digest the strong beta bonds of cellulose because a specific enzyme is needed. The termites and bacteria in the stomach of grazing animals can make the enzyme from other chemicals but humans and the grazing animals themselves can’t make it.

Energy rich plant starches have alpha type bonds between the simple sugars. Alpha bonds connect at an angle that might twist into a spiral chain similar to the double helix spiral of DNA.

The angled alpha bonds are also found in branching shapes of storage starches like glycogen or amylose. The sugar molecule at the end of each ‘branch’ is available for rapid digestion. Glycogen is the energy storage polysaccharide of glucose in animals and humans and amylose is the form of glucose storage used in plants. Glycogen is slightly more branched than amylose.

Tree bark and tree sap both contain glucose but the bark contains cellulose and the sap would have amylose or a similar alpha bonded energy storage starch. A shiny insect shell or seashells also are a type of sugar but not glucose. Shells contain N-acetyl-glucosamine in the form of chitin.

Supplements of glucosamine may be helpful for reducing joint pain. Clinical research studies with patients have found 1500 mg/day may be beneficial. [2]

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.


  1. S.A. Brooks, M. V. Dwek, U. Schumacher, Functional and Molecular Glycobiology, (BIOS Scientific Publishers, Ltd., 2002), Amazon.
  2. “Questions and Answers: NIH Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial Primary Study,” National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine [nccam.nih.gov]
  3. Nakashima K, Watanabe H, Saitoh H, Tokuda G, Azuma JI.,”Dual cellulose-digesting system of the wood-feeding termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki.” Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2002 Jul;32(7):777-84. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]

Spring cleaning, pardon the dust

I’ve been working on updating some of my older posts and have closed a lot of things in the mean time. I plan to work towards publishing in more typical peer reviewed formats.

Cheerful springtime blooms brighten up a sunny day, snow crocus minus the snow.
Cheerful springtime blooms                             brighten up a sunny day,
snow crocus minus the snow.

Summertime sunshine,
lighting bright wildflowers and ferns growing on a riverside.

/July 11, 2017: it’s summer time, spring cleaning took too long and it is easier to close a short list of open posts then it is to sort through and edit a very long list of closed posts. I ended up spending more time working on other writing projects and completed a course that will help towards publishing academically in a peer review journal which remains a goal. Spring cleaning, — next year — maybe.