Good ideas and essential ideas – a comparison

Good ideas are those that might be useful in some situations or with some fine-tuning to make them work well or to fit a particular situation.

Essential ideas are those that would be useful in all situations because they address basic facts about nature. Essential ideas would be helpful with fine tuning to particular situations or not – they pertain to physics and physiology. Gravity works basically the same in all situations on earth but would be different on different planets. Physiology – the physics of the human body and other life forms also works basically the same throughout all humans and for many types of species. Some fine tuning for slight differences across species or for different groups of humans might be needed for best results but the underlying physics of physiology works roughly the same for much of life. Nature loves a good design and repeats it from single celled organisms through much of the plant and animal world.

I keep sharing information in the hope that it can be useful for creating a more sustainable society. Our current trajectory is heading towards extinction for the human race and many other species because we are polluting the environment in ways that reduce health and fertility for our own species and across the plant and animal world and for single-celled organisms. We are also polluting the air and water and soil in ways that are affecting weather and climate and ocean physics/physiology. Ocean water is somewhat alive in that it is the host for many microorganisms and is somewhat like blood plasma for the planet. Between the rain and ground water and ocean water there is a cycle that can clean toxins but only within a range of acidity and then the chemistry is tipped towards less oxygen and less support of the life-forms that we are similar to and accustomed to living with. Much of geological history during the early years of Earth the type of life that predominated was sulfur-loving bacteria – humans would not have been able to survive in that environment.

Ignoring physiology and physics is not a good idea. Sustainability and respect for nature is an essential idea.

Examples from a few recent posts – the solar windmill air cleaning ideas are examples of good ideas that might be implausible as I wrote them but with some fine-tuning by mechanical and chemical engineers might become plausible and helpful ideas. (Imagining solar windmills)

The information about phospholipids and fertility and nutrition are essential ideas that will always be important for humans and in the care of the environment for supporting many other species that we value – more than we value or could survive if sulfur loving bacteria become the predominate type of microorganisms living on the planet again. (Phospholipid and infant formula) (Phospholipid and fertility)

The chemical invented by humans initially as an antibiotic and mineral chelator that is now being used in large quantities as an agricultural herbicide (glyphosate) may also be inhibiting the function of CYP enzymes which are needed for many important functions in metabolism for humans and plants and animals and single celled organisms – 195000 search results: (CYP enzymes and phosphorylation) Farmers are now being recommended to rotate fields where the herbicide Roundup/glyphosate containing herbicides are in use because it has been found to build up in the soil and can affect crop yield due to inhibition/destruction of the actively growing root tips.

Phospholipids can be made in average healthy humans but the process does require phosphorylation – the question to ask yourself is: What percentage of infertility and birth defects will be too much? When will we stop polluting our environment and our food supply with chemicals that cause infertility, birth defects and other types of chronic illness and cancer? Agricultural workers and people living near agricultural fields are the ones most prone to cancer and some other rare diseases. Is that what we want from our food supply?

Coastal areas near agricultural areas (ocean dead zones map) and some regions of the Pacific Ocean (Pacific coastal dead zones) are now without oxygen – sulfur-loving bacteria can survive without oxygen. Far more information on sulfur-loving bacteria than the average person probably knew existed, is available online, in free full text, thanks for sharing: (Biochemistry and molecular biology of lithotrophic sulfur oxidation by taxonomically and ecologically diverse bacteria and archaea)

Some of the types of sulfur-loving microbes are how life exists in extreme climates such as thermal heat vents in deep ocean areas. A few have evolved as symbiotic species living within larger organisms and which provide energy in low oxygen or oxygen free areas of the ocean for species of mussels and tubeworms. Sulfate sources allows growth in environments that lack oxygen and light. Even they need to be able to metabolize phosphorus – it is used in enzymes to metabolize energy. Sulfur loving bacteria may need to make the enzymes: “adenosine 5′‐phosphosulfate (APS) reductase” and “ATP sulfurylase” Other types of bacteria can grow in environments that lack oxygen but have light. Extremely acidic briny marshes and highly saline salty marshes also can support life for some of the group of anoxygenic (don’t need oxygen) photolithotrophic (can make energy from light) bacteria:

 “However, diverse groups of optimally adapted anoxygenic photolithotrophic bacteria thrive in moderately extreme temperature, pH or salinity conditions, and act as primary producers in such unusual habitats (Madigan, 2003).” – (Biochemistry and molecular biology of lithotrophic sulfur oxidation by taxonomically and ecologically diverse bacteria and archaea)

Even arsenic-loving bacteria able to grow in extreme environments  need phosphorus. Six nutrients are essential to all life forms, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulphur. there was some controversy over a new type of bacteria that was discovered because it can substitute arsenic for phosphorus in some of its chemical composition but further study showed that it also needs some phosphorus. (Arsenic-loving bacteria needs phosphorus after all)

Why care about phosphorus? Because we all need it and the Earth’s supply of bioactive phosphorus is in limited supply. Estimates suggest that at the rate it is currently being used in agriculture (wastefully, without being recycled back into the growing cycle) that we have about forty years supply left for the planet. That is two generations of people – what are we going to tell our great grandchildren? Sorry kids we enjoyed life but you have to figure out something else – or enjoy extinction.

More traditional farming methods used recycled fertilizers such as composted manure or compost made from other vegetative material such as last year’s leaves and lawn clippings. The current chemical fertilizer is more wasteful in that it gets washed off into ground water and eventually ends up in coastal waters where algae overfeed on the excess nutrients, using up available oxygen in the process and then dying off leaving dead zones with no oxygen and no more excess phosphorus in the coastal region. So returning to more traditional agricultural methods that conserve phosphorus and cause less runoff into coastal regions leading to less dead zones in those areas of the ocean seems like an essential idea for our great great grandchildren and like a good idea for us to tackle right now, this generation.

Recognizing that phosphorylation is an essential part of health and fertility and that some people, such as infants, need an external source in their diet seems like an essential idea for this generation if we hope to have a healthy generation of grandchildren or great great grandchildren.

Disclosure: This information is being 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 care guidance. Please seek an individual health care provider for individualized health care guidance.

Sumac tea was a lemony drink used by Native Americans

Sumac is  a shrubby tree that grows easily in many areas of the U.S. and other countries. Types with reddish berries/seed clusters are safe for tea or use as a ground spice while a type with whitish berries is not safe. As a plant it is considered an invasive species because it grows so easily it can be difficult to remove from an area. It grows wild in patches along highways in some areas such as Iowa for example:

Sumac growing wild along U.S. Highway I-80 in Iowa during the winter season. when no leaves are present but last years seed clusters can still be observed on the top branches

Why care about Sumac? I bought a jar at a Middle Eastern grocery store of the plant prepared as a ground dried spice to sprinkle on foods during cooking or at the table. The jar I bought was imported from Lebanon. I paid $3.99 for a little less than a half pound size container so it isn’t a high profit margin spice but on the other hand I would be happy to by Sumac that was harvested in Iowa or Oklahoma or Michigan – all places where it grows wild.

One species that is safe for use is known to grow in all 48 contiguous states. Early in the spring the newly sprouted shoots can be eaten as a salad like vegetable. the lemony flavored tea can also be made into a jelly or candy: (

Research performed with the plant in other nations regarding its medicinal benefits have found the spice or extracts to have a wide range of benefits.  More information about medicinal benefits are in an earlier post on the topic and are also listed with summertime images of the red seed clusters in an article Sumac: Nutritional Properties: and one about Sumac Tea:

The spice or tea can have significant diuretic properties similar to drinking coffee or alcoholic beverages so having smaller amounts earlier in the day along with plenty of water throughout the day can help the body cleanse toxins early in the day without waking you in the middle of the night. Overly acidic urine may cause an extreme urge to urinate but then produce only a small amount – which means the body is working hard to remove acidity without adequate water to dilute it – so drink plenty of water and acidity and toxins will be readily removed in the more dilute urine. Diuretic medications are often given to patients who are retaining excess water with a goal to help the body remove the excess water and salt from edematous areas between organs and outside of blood vessels.  They are different but similar in effect to a diuretic beverage such as coffee or alcoholic beverages.

The acidic and antimicrobial properties of sumac have also been studied in food preparation of raw chicken to reduce the risk of salmonella and other food pathogens: The Effect of Water Extract of Sumac (Rhus coriariaL.) and Lactic Acid on Decontamination and Shelf Life of Raw Broiler Wings,

Gallotannins are one of the phytonutrients in sumac with medicinal benefits and is concentrated enough that the plant can be a source for extracting the substance, gallotannins and sumac. While the active phytonutrients in pomegranate peel extract and sumac extract are slightly different they both exhibit antifungal properties that may be beneficial for commercial, agricultural use: Chemical Characterization of Different Sumac and Pomegranate Extracts Effective against Botrytis cinerea Rots

To connect the dots for those who don’t see the bigger picture in the same way that I do – one easy to grow crop that grows across the nation could be used to flavor anything lemon flavored for possibly less cost that lemons cost.  The lemon flavor is from the terpene content, it contains the same type as lemon and limes: limonene. Sumac could be used for a variety of products for direct use by humans and might also be useful as a medication for humans or for animals. It also might have industrial and agricultural uses for its antimicrobial and antifungal properties. One negative side effect that has become more apparent in agriculture is that pathogenic fungal strains seem more prevalent in soil that has had a buildup of Roundup/glyphosate. Hard to treat fungal illnesses in humans may also becoming more common. A lemony drink or food that treats hard to treat diseases in humans or farm animals and which can be grown very inexpensively could be useful if it was recognized as useful instead of simply an invasive weed.

The seed clusters left over from last fall could likely be harvested now, before spring growth occurs, and used for agricultural experiments this season, instead of waiting for the next new crop of seed clusters that would be ripe at the end of next summer, approximately in August.

The pomegranate peel leftover from making pomegranate juice is currently also being wasted when it might be useful as a medicine or food substance or even as an agricultural antifungal treatment.

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.

Glyphosate from Roundup causing soil problems in No-Till agriculture

In a recent article published for the agricultural No-Till system specialists were recommended to reduce use of the GM crops that are designed to use the herbicide Round-Up which contains glyphosate by rotating non Round-Up crops with the GM Round-Up ready crops. Research findings suggest the chemical glyphosate is remaining in the soil longer than expected, over years of time, and collecting to levels that seem to support increased fungal pathogens. Some types of healthy strains of bacteria that would typically help protect the soil environment from the harmful strains of fungi are being negatively affected by the glyphosate. Some crops are also beginning to be affected by the increased saturation of glyphosate within the soil.

See “Glyphosate & GM Crops are Harming No-Till Soils,”, Jan. 10, 2018, for more detail.

The fungi that may be promoted by increased concentrations of glyphosate may include Fusarium strains which can affect large percentages of a crop causing a large financial loss to the farmer. The effect has been noted in Canadian research: Monsanto’s Roundup Spreading Fusarium Fungus,

Some of the fungal strains may be a risk to farm workers exposed to dusty air that contains the fungal spores and protective masks were recommended. Symptoms might result in a persistent cough and testing and a diagnosis of fungal growth in the lungs is not typical. Beneficial types of fungus in the soil that also help prevent growth of the harmful strains may also be negatively effected by glyphosate. People consuming foods with glyphosate residue would not be at risk to dust in a farm field in the same way that a farm worker is at risk however increased health complaints in farm workers and people living near by may be a concern in areas with increased agricultural use of glyphosate/Roundup.

“Few cases of Aspergillus lung infections resulting in death have been recorded, but possibly only because pneumonia, asthma or viral infections are assumed to be the cause of death when respiratory failure occurs. A fungus growing in the lungs has not been considered as a cause of death by most physicians. Nor does death always occur, as the Aspergillus niger mold growing in the lungs might just cause a persistent cough and respiratory discomfort.”

– Read more: Dust Study is There More to the Story on GMO’s?, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance,

What would be less easy to determine is if eating a diet that contains a greater concentration of glyphosate is increasing the internal percentage of pathogenic strains of fungi over more benign bacteria and fungi. Our intestines and bodies benefit from a healthy balance of bacteria as they create some important nutrients and more digestible forms of some types of carbohydrate starches from less digestible types of plant fiber.

There has been an increase in asthma (7% in 2001 to 8% in 2009, and an increase in deaths due to respiratory problems in the U.S. between 1980 and 2014:

“From 1980 through 2014, more than 4.6 million Americans died from a range of chronic respiratory illnesses, the researchers reported. While the risk was pegged at 41 deaths for every 100,000 people back in 1980, it rose to nearly 53 out of every 100,000 by 2014, representing a nearly 31 percent spike over 35 years.”

Read more: Respiratory  Disease Death Rates Have Soared, Sept. 29, 2017,

More information about respiratory and other types of illnesses associated with Aspergillus fungi and current treatment options is available here: .

The tips for avoiding glyphosate residue in food is not something anyone is likely going to be happy about – eat organically grown foods. Animal products from animals fed crops that were grown with RoundUp may also have glyphosate residue as chemically it may be similar enough to an amino acid that is incorporated into proteins throughout the body.

A summary of the main GM crops grown with glyphosate and a timeline for when use was significantly increased in the U.S.:

Avoid processed foods, as most contain ingredients made from crops on which Roundup was used as an herbicide or as a drying agent. Foods made from ‘organic’ ingredients may also contain residue of glyphosate or Roundup; but screening of food samples has found less glyphosate in organic samples than in commercially grown samples; and individuals who have switched to a diet containing only organically grown food were found to have a drop in the level of glyphosate measured in their specimen samples (blood or urine) that were taken before and after switching to the organic diet for several weeks (posts with more info: glyphosate levels in test samples and subjectsGlyphosate, a consensus statementSome tips for reducing dietary exposure to glyphosate or to replace nutrients it effects negatively; and an update on the post with dietary tips).

Soy, corn and cottonseed oil all may be sources of increased amounts of glyphosate residue since use of the chemical increased in the late 1990’s with the introduction of crops genetically modified to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup which contains glyphosate also has other ingredients which in combination seem to be even more of a health risk than safety tests suggest glyphosate is on its own as a single chemical hazard.

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.