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

Pantothenic Acid – vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 is typically referred to by its chemical name Pantothenic Acid. Why some of the B Vitamins are called a name and some by the number may have to do with the variety of the forms commonly found in the body or in the food supply. Vitamin B6 has several important chemical forms as do vitamin D and vitamin E. Getting a variety of foods within the diet on a regular, daily, weekly or even monthly basis can help to provide some of the various forms. Vitamin E in a supplement might only provide one of the bioactive forms of the group of nutrients while eating nuts and seeds would be providing some of all of the group in addition to B vitamins and other minerals.

Pantothenic Acid – vitamin B5. Food Sources and Symptoms of Deficiency.

Pantothenic Acid is a water soluble B vitamin that is essential in metabolic pathways in all forms of life, plants, animals and microbes. It is a precursor chemical for coenzyme A which is involved in many reactions that help sustain life and is needed for other proteins that are needed for making fatty acids – fats of different lengths and types. It does have other active chemical forms but is not typically referred to by their names, pantothenol – may help with healing skin wounds, research is in early stages; and pantethine – may help lower cholesterol and lipid (fat) levels in the blood. (1)

Dietary deficiency of Pantothenic Acid is very rare as the vitamin is found in most animal and plant food products. There have been no known cases of overdose/toxicity so no Upper Limit for safety has been set. Deficiency is so rare it has only been documented in prisoners of war (POWs) and the symptoms relieved by supplementation of Pantothenic Acid were reported by the POWs to be “numbness and painful burning and tingling in their feet.” (1)

Pantothenic Acid is involved in converting the B vitamin folate into an active form so a deficiency in Pantothenic Acid might result in folate deficiency symptoms, (1) (megaloblastic anemia with fatigue and normal levels of iron but with fewer red blood cells that are immature, too large (macrocytic) and nonfunctional (2). Vitamin B12 deficiency can also be a cause with similar lab values but supplements or injections of that B vitamin wouldn’t help if deficiency of the active form of folate was the cause. Supplements of folic acid, the inactive form most commonly used in multi-vitamins or fortified foods, wouldn’t help either. Beans, peas and asparagus are good food sources of folate, more information about that B vitamin is available here: (Folate is essential and Folic Acid is commonly available)

Genetic differences may affect some individual’s ability to phosphorylate (add atoms of the mineral Phosphorus) to the molecule of Pantothenic Acid for the transformation of the vitamin precursor into the bioactive coenzyme A. The enzyme is needed for transporting fatty acids (lipids/fats) into the mitochondria for use for energy production. Someone with a genetic difference might not be able to use fats for energy as well as someone with typical ability to phosphorylate the Pantothenic Acid molecules in the production of Coenzyme A. One known gene that could inhibit the production of Coenzyme A is Pantothenic acid kinase II (PANK2) . Symptoms of people with a double gene difference in PANK2 may include changes in movement control (dystonia), and impaired vision, intelligence, speech, and behavior, and personality disorders (15). (1)

Symptoms of deficiency of Coenzyme A might include gaining weight more easily than average and more readily getting tired when exercising for longer amounts of time. That is my interpretation though.

I have a different genetic difference that affects phosphorylation so I may also have trouble producing Coenzyme A. Betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase (BHMTis a gene involved in protein metabolism that could cause reduced Dimethylglycine and methionine.  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has been associated with a lack of Dimethylglycine (the amino acid – glycine). The metabolic pathways are very complex chemistry and it looks like this gene is more involved in the chemistry of the B vitamins choline and betaine. The phosphorylation problem is more specifically with phospholipids and  glycerophospholipids – both essential parts of membranes and cannabinoids. (Glycerophospholipid biosynthesis) (Phospholipid metabolism)

I will discuss betaine and choline in additional posts. An overview about phospholipids and food sources is available in the post Macro & micro-nutrients, an overview & food sources.

Symptoms of Pantothenic Acid deficiency in lab animals or other groups of animals found to have deficiency of vitamin B5 in their food supply included skin irritations, graying of fur or feather abnormalities, anemia due to reduced heme production,  nerve problems involving reduced myelin sheath, low blood glucose, rapid breathing and heart rate, and damaged adrenal glands. (1)

So it is good that Pantothenic Acid is readily available in many foods because clearly it is very important to our health. However supplements of Pantothenic Acid or rubbing it directly on the scalp or gray hair did not restore hair color in humans with gray hair. (1)

Food Sources for Pantothenic Acid (vitamin B5):

Organ meats (liver and kidney), Meats, Fish and Shellfish, Salmon, Egg yolk, MIlk, Yogurt, Cheese, Avocado, Broccoli Sweet Potato, Carrot, Celery, Mushrooms, Pomegranate Seeds, Sesame Seeds/Tahini, Beans, Nuts, Seeds, Almonds, Walnuts, Whole Grains, Brown Rice, Enriched Flour Products depending on the source – Canadian guidelines require it while the U.S guidelines do not.  (4, 5) “Processing and refining grains may result in a 35 to 75% loss. Freezing and canning of foods result in similar losses (16).” (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.

References:

  1. Pantothenic Acid, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/pantothenic-acid
  2. Anemia of Folate Deficiency, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/hematology_and_blood_disorders/anemia_of_folate_deficiency_85,P00089
  3. Foods used in the 30% Calories from Carbohydrates Menu Plans, https://effectiveselfcare.info/2018/05/19/healthy-hair-is-the-proof-of-a-healing-diet/
  4. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Use of Dietary Reference Intakes in Nutrition Labeling. Dietary Reference Intakes: Guiding Principles for Nutrition Labeling and Fortification. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2003. 3, Overview of Food Fortification in the United States and Canada. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK208880/
  5. Guidance Document Repository (GDR), Prohibition against the sale of unenriched white flour and products containing unenriched flour. Canadian Food Fortification Guidelines; Grain and Bakery Products,  Canadian Food Inspection Agency, http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/labelling/food-labelling-for-industry/grain-and-bakery-products/unenriched-flour/eng/1415915977878/1415915979471

15. Kurian MA, Hayflick SJ. Pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN) and PLA2G6-associated neurodegeneration (PLAN): review of two major neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation (NBIA) phenotypes. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2013;110:49-71.  (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24209433)

16. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Pantothenic acid. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press; 1998:357-373. National Academy Press,  (https://www.nap.edu/read/6015/chapter/12)

Luck is about being grateful for what you have

I’m not superstitious, I believe good luck is in part simply being grateful for what you have or what you receive. Having a positive attitude in itself may be more physiologically healthy than a negative attitude, so being grateful for what you have may help health by promoting a more positive mood.

Respecting tradition, or participating in tradition, is also something I appreciate. Having black-eyed peas for New Year’s Day wasn’t a family tradition while I was growing up. I first tried black-eyed peas  and tried cooking them after learning of their significant nutritional benefits. The southern tradition may have started out of a negative situation – no other food to eat, but the people left hungry got lucky in the food that was available.

Black -eyed peas are a very good source of folate, a B vitamin that is important for the immune system and for a good energy level by promoting healthy fully mature red blood cells. Without adequate folate a type of anemia with immature, non-functional or poorly functioning red blood cells can occur even when adequate iron is available in the diet. Black-eyed peas can help prevent anemia risk with the folate content and their iron content is also quite good at 2.2 milligrams per 1/2 cup serving. (Black-eyed Peas Health Benefits Including Anemia Prevention, Health Tips)

Per 100 grams of the food (about 4 ounces or 1/2 cup), black-eyed peas have 208 micrograms of folate while sugar has 1 microgram of folate. Green peas have 65 micrograms of folate per 100 grams. (Google: black eyed peas and folate)

So was it lucky to be left with very little food during the Civil War – no. Was it lucky to be hungry enough to try the legumes that were meant to feed farm animals – no. Was it sensible to cook them and see how they tasted – yes. Sometimes we make our own luck by working hard and accepting what is available as a positive rather than having a negative attitude and giving up. Black- eyed peas do have a slightly stronger flavor than many other beans and peas but sometimes strong flavor is a sign of more nutrients. Trying things because you learn they are good for you may be an unfamiliar habit but if you try something a few times or more the taste can become familiar and may even become something you enjoy.

With young children it is recommended to not force foods to be tried or eaten in large quantities if they are new but to offer a taste or two regularly. It can take thirty tries of a new food for a toddler to become used to the new food as something familiar and enjoyable. If force and negativity is involved however they may instead develop an aversion, a negative feeling about the food. I use the word toddler because that is the best time to accustom children to a wide range of foods. If caregivers give in too regularly to “I don’t like it” attitudes then that habit may become more fixed for the child and trying to change it later may be more difficult. Children also copy what they see adults doing so having a wide variety of healthy foods on the table and sharing a few tastes of what you are having can also be a good way to start toddlers and children with a taste for variety of flavors and foods. (Getting Kids to Try New and Healthy Foods, pbs.org)

If allergies are a problem then that should be taken into account but there are still many nutritious foods that are not regularly used and are not common allergens that could be added to a menu plan. Avoid this list of eight foods that cause up to 90% of allergies and you’ll be avoiding the most common food allergens, (unfortunately some of the ingredients are in practically most commonly used mixed dishes – so that isn’t easy to do):

  • Milk (mostly in children)
  • Eggs.
  • Peanuts.
  • Tree nuts, like walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, brazil nuts, and pecans.
  • Soy.
  • Wheat and other grains with gluten, including barley, rye, and oats.
  • Fish (mostly in adults)
  • Shellfish (mostly in adults) (this group may include shrimp as well as crab and lobster) (WebMD)

I am avoiding everything on the list except tree nuts so most of the recipes on this website do not use those foods. The almond meal in the recently posted Chocolate Cookie recipe that was included in the post with the Black-eyed Pea Soup recipe (New Year, new recipes) could be substituted with more brown rice flour or buckwheat flour is used in the original Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. A discussion of modifying recipes is included with that recipe: (G8. Chocolate Chip Cookies)

Herbs and spices that aren’t too hot with hot pepper or horseradish are also a good way to add flavor and nutrients to simpler foods. A child’s tastebuds don’t need too much hot pepper but a small amount of spicy things may be enjoyed and tolerated well. A child’s tastebuds may be more sensitive than an adult’s so they may prefer simpler things because they simply need less flavor to activate their tastebuds. A child’s sense of smell may also be more acute than an adult’s and aroma adds significantly to the apparent “flavor” of food. The tastebuds don’t notice as much difference as our sense of smell can appreciate and differentiate. (Do children have more sensitive taste buds than adults? Ella, age 7: blastscience.co.uk)

Luck and superstition are two different topics and I believe luck is one part hard work and two parts good attitude, throw in a dash of common sense and who knows what might be possible. And superstition may include some common sense, someone may have had an accident occur when they walked under a ladder and the superstition that it is unlucky may have grown out of the common sense habit to not walk under things when you don’t know what is above – it may have grown out of an ancient instinctual knowledge that predators leap down from hiding places.

I try to do the best I can to be careful and simply clean up salt that is spilled, tossing more over my shoulder seems silly rather than respecting a holiday tradition such as having black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. However in more ancient times when salt was difficult to find and was treated as a rare and expensive commodity it may have been a worse catastrophe – very bad luck – to spill some. Throwing a tiny pinch of what was spilled over shoulder to ward off more bad luck may have occurred at that time. During the Middle Ages there was a saying regarding table placement – to be seated above the salt meant you were important and would get served sooner from the shared dish of salt or other more expensive and sparse entrees. To be seated below the salt meant you were of less noble lineage in medieval times. (wisegeek.com) Salt is an important nutrient and more is needed in situations where it is hot and more sodium is lost in sweat from working or just from the hot environment.

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.