Is Success Money? Happiness? Survival? Promoting Change?

The definition of success varies for different people. As a public health educator I always felt successful when I heard ideas I had recommended being recommended to me – smile and nod and say What a great idea, do you mind if I share that with others?

Survival with health issues or other types of crisis often means making changes to old ways of doing things. Learning what works for some people in some situations can help others in similar situations or may be the idea that leads to their own adaptation of the idea to better suit their needs. I’ve had health problems all of my life, not too severe but often effecting my daily ability to breathe or think or move comfortably. I’ve had to make many changes and recognize when something is better for me to avoid than to try. Reading about the experiences or research of others has helped me improve my own health.

Many people can have similar great ideas, thinking and trying things is free. Sharing great ideas can help increase the number of people or places benefiting from the information.

My goal for success is survival of the planet and as many of its species as possible. Tragedy is occurring too often. Wildfires are part of the natural cycle of forest growth but become more dangerous when more people live in the area. The risk of wildfires occurring in Southern California and elsewhere in the dry areas of the southwest are expected to double by 2050 with the changes occurring in climate patterns. “The risk of devastating fires in Southern California will double by 2050. Southeastern states will also see more wildfires in the coming years.”  See: 13 Dire Impacts Outlined in the New Climate Report, politicalchange.org.

  • Building or rebuilding with more disaster or wildfire resistant construction and landscaping (including a perimeter of no vegetation around the building) is a topic with more information available, some links available here: Peace is privacy and shelter from weather.  Learning from a children’s story – don’t build with straw or wood, build with brick if you want durable construction. Buildings are made with fire alarms and sprinkler systems to reduce risk of fire spreading. Watch towers are placed intermittently throughout forests with a person to watch for signs of fire. In the days of early settlers townpeople or individuals would make fire breaks around settled areas to reduce the risk of wildfires spreading into the settled area. Sod construction was messy but less of a risk for fire except for the thatched roof. (Sod House/Wikipedia) Building in floodzones risks frequent flooding, more people in those areas are building on stilts or building floating houses, or the areas are being rezoned for other construction or are being restored as wetlands which help protect nearby areas from flooding. Adapting to the changing times in advance saves money and trauma later. (Knightsen Wetland Restoration and Flood Protection Project, Balance Hydrologics)
  • Links regarding trauma and recovery here: Peace is recovering from trauma.
  • This month’s tragedy was also a previous year’s tragedy and the goal is to have better plans in place for the future as the risks increase with warmer drier weather patterns. Information about volunteering or donating money to help with the current wildfire crisis in California can be found here: (California Volunteers).
  • Ideas about improving the early warning system for wildfire risk is discussed in this article: Response to California Fires: A New Warning System?, Guy on Climate.
  • How climate change can affect wildfire risk on the west coast of the U.S. and severe snowstorm risk on the east coast at the same time is discussed in the article: Consequences of the November Dipole, Guy on Climate. It isn’t discussed in detail in that article but the air mass over the west coast is likely increasing drought (Causes of Extreme Ridges That Induce California Droughts, Journal of Climateit is complicated).

The human impact on the planet and its species is undeniable. Just how fast or how severe and whether the rate matches predictions or not is splitting hairs. The fact is extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and severity and the ocean is becoming warmer and more acidic and pollution is showing up basically everywhere on the planet that has been monitored.

Currently the air quality is not very safe for breathing in many areas of California where wildfires occurred. For my personal health it wasn’t that good to begin with in some areas. I was congested within six hours visiting the Los Angeles area – I later spent a lot of time thinking and then writing down some ideas of my own and others regarding large air purification systems: Imagining Windmills – Solar Sail Revolving Ones. I can’t think well when I don’t have clean air, let alone breathe well, or do any other activities. My favorite places to visit in California included some national forests and a shady countryside walk along a creek.  I cannot survive well in a polluted area or where it is too hot, dry and sunny. Heat adds to inflammation for people with autoimmune problems. People are unlikely to enjoy themselves if they are overheated or disoriented from bad air conditions.

Some points from previous posts about health and air quality:

  • Information about smog: (Causes and Effects of Smogconserve-energy-future.com)
  • Having adequate B vitamins which are important for all aspects of metabolism and energy production in the body may help reduce the harmful health effects of breathing smog-laden air: (Could a Daily Vitamin Curb Smog’s Health Effects? webMD.com)
  • Banning indoor smoking helps a lot. Some states have banned indoor smoking in all public places but some still allow. I’m updating this post in a location that allows it in a section of the building and the odor is obvious to me throughout the main area of the building. It is a health risk that may be worse for people who have deficiencies or metabolic differences in B vitamins such as folate and B 12 which are discussed in more detail later. Other tips for reducing formaldehyde are discussed in this post: formaldehyde-health-risks-and-environmental-and-dietary-sources/
  • Formaldehyde is a common chemical in polluted or smoky air and folate is needed to help the body detoxify and excrete formaldehyde. It may be an underlying factor in risk for autism development as housing with poor air circulation and/or some types of new vinyl flooring is associated with a greater risk for autism in the family. Other pollutants that may effect children are included in this post: environmental-toxins-and-neurodevelopmental-disorders-in-children/
  • Genetic screening might be helpful for people living in smog areas -methylation differences can leave people unable to use the common supplemental type of folate called folic acid or vitamin B12. Methylated forms of both are available or both can be found in some typically used foods but if you did have a genetic difference in ability to methylate then it is better to avoid using the supplemental folic acid or un-methylated B12. It is like filling the body with puzzle pieces that fill the receptor spots that are open but which then can’t connect properly to other pieces. The unusable forms compete with any methylated vitamin that was available from dietary sources of B12 or folate that had been eaten that day. (Selfpay, for research purposes onlygenetic screening panel that I have used – meaning it isn’t approved as a diagnostic tool that you could get your health insurance to cover or doctor to prescribe.) We need to try new strategies if we hope to get different results.

People value different things, and that is valuable and looking at different ways to do things can help us adapt to a changing world.

Experience nothing – Visit Padasjoki, Finland. (Padasjoki.fi/fi)

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

Coffee is a methyl donor, yippee for my DNA

Proper methylation of DNA regulates which sections of DNA are active and will be used to direct metabolic activities in the body and which sections are turned off. Some people have metabolic defects in their ability to methylate normally. Problems in the normal methylation cycle may be more common for people on the autism spectrum and in some other genetic conditions like Down’s Syndrome.

The following website has a book available to read online that includes information about metabolic differences that have been found to be more common for people on the autism spectrum. Methylation differences in metabolism are discussed in Chapter 2 of the book Autism: Pathways to Recovery, by Dr. Amy Yasko. In the chapter coffee and Ritalin are described as methyl donors, and it is suggested that they might be helpful for some people for that reason.  Defects in the normal ability to methylate DNA is impaired in some people which may leave their immune systems over active with autoimmune symptoms or underactive and more susceptible to actual threats. [dramyyasko.com/resources/autism-pathways-to-recovery/chapter-2/]

A book available online, thanks to the author Dr. Amy Yasko. She mentions in the opening paragraph of Chapter 1 that the U.S. population grew by 13% in the 1990s and the number of people with autism grew by 172% in the same time frame. Read more: [dramyyasko.com/resources/autism-pathways-to-recovery/chapter-1/] *She is a Ph.D. professor in genetics rather than an M.D. Medical Doctor.

In 1975 the rate of autism was 1 in 5000.  Approximately one child of every 88 born in the year 2000 were found to have autism and the rate was 1 in 68 – one infant out of every 68 children born in 2002 were found to have autism. [aplus.com/a/scientist-claims-half-of-children-will-have-autism-by-2025]

There may not be a ‘cure’ for autism but there are nutritional strategies that help manage some of the more common metabolic differences if parents and health professionals are allowed to acknowledge the existence of the differences.

/Disclosure: I am not recommending coffee for children or infants.  This information is provided for educational purposes and is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

B vitamin methyl donors may help protect against risks from BPA

     Research in the field of epigenetics by a team led by Dr. Randy Jirtle, an oncologist at Duke University, found physical changes in the experimental groups to be preventable if the experimental BPA diet was also supplemented with the B vitamins, folic acid and B12.
     Mice who were fed BPA prenatally had significantly more babies develop a characteristic hair color and they were at increased risk for gaining excess weight compared to the control group of prenatal mice that did not receive any BPA. However when the mice were fed a diet with extra B vitamins prenatally along with the BPA there were fewer babies with the change in hair color and associated health risks. The addition of the soy bean phytochemical, genistein, also helped reduce the number of baby mice who developed the change in hair color pigmentation. [1,2]
    Bisphenyl A acts similarly to the hormone estrogen. Genistein is a phytoestrogen that may help block harmful effects of estrogen mimetics. The B vitamins used in the study were chosen because they can donate a methyl group which is necessary for allowing genes to remain unactivated, to stay in an off position. A gene that has few methyl groups may be more easily activated than normally.

      Two other methyl donors, choline and betaine, were used in addition to the folic acid and vitamin B12. Choline is also a water soluble essential nutrient that is frequently grouped with the rest of the B vitamins. Choline is found throughout the body but is particularly important within the brain. Betaine is a metabolite of choline. Spinach and beets are rich in betaine. Good sources of choline include egg yolks, soy beans, beef, poultry, seafood, green leafy vegetables and cauliflower. [3]

Betaine is also being marketed as a medication for helping to reduce blood levels of homocysteine in the inherited condition, homocystinuria. (Reducing elevated levels of homocysteine may also reduce the risk of developing heart disease.) [4]

A prenatal diet providing a low intake of the methyl donors folate and B12 has been associated with cardiomyopathy in the infants. [5] Infants born to mothers with a low intake of the methyl donors folate, B12 and choline were also more at risk for cardiomyopathy later in life. [6] Not taking prenatal vitamins during the three months prior to conceiving or during the first month of pregnancy has been associated with an increased risk for autism in the infants especially for women who have a genetic variation in their methylation metabolism, (MTHFR 677 TT, CBSrs234715 GT + TT). [9] People with problems in the methylation pathways may need to take a methylated form of B12 and folate rather than the more commonly available form of folic acid. [10]

A link between BPA intake and an increased risk for heart disease has been discovered. [7] The physiologic reason is not known. Tips from the article for people hoping to reduce exposure to BPA include:

  1. avoid use of foods and beverages from cans,
  2. avoid re-using plastic bottles for beverages,
  3. limit handling of store receipts or placing them in store bags with unwrapped foods. Some register receipts have a BPA coating
  4. and wash your hands after handling register receipts. [7]

Adequate B vitamin intake is essential for reducing elevated levels of homocysteine. An increased blood level of homocysteine has been associated with increased heart disease risk. The amount of calcification within coronary arteries has also been shown to be predictive of heart disease risk. [8]

It has not been conclusively proven that a diet with adequate supplies of methyl donors protects DNA from changes that may be caused by BPA but a diet providing plenty of B vitamins is also unlikely to cause harm. B vitamins are water soluble and quite safe except in such large doses that would be difficult to obtain from food sources alone. The B vitamins work together in metabolic pathways that are essential for burning and using energy sources. The B vitamins might be described as being similar to matchsticks for accessing  the stored energy and so they are important for daily energy levels and for a good mood.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
  1. Synopsis of the BPA prenatal mouse study, by Pete Myers, PhD, “Bisphenol A alters epigenetic programming in fetal mice, and the effect can be reversed by genistein, (about the BPA mouse study) (July 30, 2007): [environmentalhealthnews.org/] *link i no longer working. Excerpt: “The new findings focus on BPA’s ability to remove ‘protective molecules’ that normally prevent genes from being turned on at the wrong time or in the wrong tissue.”
  2. The full research article: by Dana C Dolinoy, Dale Huang, Randy L. Jirtle, Maternal nutrient supplementation counteracts bisphenol A-induced DNA hypomethylation in early development, PNAS, August 7, 2007, vol 104, No. 32, 13056-13061 [pnas.org] *The mice in the experimental groups were being fed a diet including 50 mg BPA/kg which was considered to be less than the known toxic dose for mice but it represents a greater amount than is assumed to be found in the average human’s daily diet.
  3. Choline” on whfoods.com: [whfoods.com]
  4. Betaine,” (Feb. 11, 2012) PubMed Health: [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/]  *link not working, part of the information is available here: [med.nyu.edu]
  5. Garcia MM et al, “Methyl donor deficiency induces cardiomyopathy through altered methylation/acetylation of PGC-1α by PRMT1 and SIRT1.” J Pathol. 2011 Nov;225(3):324-35. doi: 10.1002/path.2881. Epub 2011 Jun 1. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  6. Joseph J, “Fattening by deprivation: methyl balance and perinatal cardiomyopathy.”   J Pathol. 2011 Nov;225(3):315-7. doi: 10.1002/path.2942. Epub 2011 Jul 7. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  7. Kathleen Doheny, “Higher BPA Levels, More Heart Disease? Researchers Find Higher BPA Levels Linked With Narrower Arteries; Industry Says Study Proves Nothing” (Aug. 15, 2012) WebMD: [webmd.com]
  8. Michael O’Riordan, “Coronary artery calcium bests other risk markers for CVD risk assessment” (Aug. 22, 2012) theheart.org: [theheart.org/article] *subscription service
  9. Rebecca J. Schmidt, et. al. , “Prenatal vitamins, one-carbon metabolism gene variants, and risk for autism,” Epidemiology. 2011 Jul; 22(4): 476–485. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  10. Folate is essential and Folic Acid is commonly available,” Aug. 21, 2013 [transcendingsquare.com]
  11. MTHFR C677T Mutation: Basic Protocol,” 

Other references regarding B vitamins:

    1. Article by Kate Geagan, MS, RD, End Your Energy Crisis With B12, (Jan. 10, 2012), The Doctor Oz Show website: [doctoroz.com/]
    2. Mood Disorders – Depression, The Vitamin Update website: [vitamin-update.com] Includes information about mental health symptoms and functions of several B vitamins and a few trace minerals.
    3. Author: Vladimir Hegyi, Dermatologic Manifestations of Pellegra, (May 15, 2012) emedicine.Medscape: [emedicine.medscape.com] (deficiency of Niacin or B3)
    4. Author: Dieu-Thu Nguyen-Khoa, BeriBeri (Thiamin Deficiency), (Dec. 13, 2011) emedicine Medscape: [emedicine.medscape.com] (B1)
    5. Author: Richard E. Frye, Pyridoxine Deficiency, (May 26, 2010) emedicine Medscape: [emedicine.medscape.com] (B6)
    6. Author: Angela Gentili, Folic Acid Deficiency, (Dec 1, 2011) emedicine Medscape: [emedicine.medscape.com]
/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes and is not intended to provide individual health care. Please see a health professional for individualized health care./