Thursday, March 31, 2005

Lurking In Your Yogurt: Live Cultures That May Boost Immunity

Chicago Tribune

March 28, 2005

Bacteria in your food are a bad thing, usually: Think of E. coli or other harmful bugs. But a whole other world of "friendly" bacteria lurks out there. Called "probiotics" and found in such products as yogurt and yogurt drinks, they provide health benefits beyond the regular live cultures found in those foods.

Probiotics are among the fastest-growing category of functional foods, according to the market research firm Mintel, which cites a 140 percent increase last year in the launch of new probiotic-fortified products.

So far, the strongest evidence on probiotics has focused on digestive- tract problems such as lactose intolerance and diarrhea-including infectious diarrhea among children and the type that develops after a person has taken antiobiotics (which wipe out both good and bad bacteria in their path, altering the natural balance of the digestive tract).

Additional studies suggest probiotics may help decrease the risk of colon cancer and ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and the more serious inflammatory bowel disease, which includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Researchers also are beginning to see signs that probiotics may help lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.

Europeans have long embraced the concept of probiotics (which is derived from the Greek word meaning "for life"), but Americans haven't fully warmed up to the idea of downing a drink swimming with billions of live microorganisms.

"We've done a good job in this country of scaring people to death of microbes," said Mary Ellen Sanders, president of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, a non-profit scientific organization. "People don't understand the important role microbes can play in our health."

Unlike antibiotics, which kill harmful microbes in the body, probiotics simply take up temporary residence and neutralize the negative effects of the "bad" bacteria living there. Some of the benefits of probiotics appear to be their feisty aggression toward these nasty bugs in our bodies, Sanders said.


Some of the most exciting research on probiotics involves its potential to boost immunity, according to Allan Walker, a professor of nutrition and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, who is studying how exposure to good bacteria could help children decrease their susceptibility to infections and allergies.

Probiotics appear to communicate with the cells in our intestines to turn on antibodies to fight infections, Walker said. This "cross-talk" helps rev up our immune response so we're better prepared to deal with invading bacteria and viruses that could make us sick, he said.

Though research is preliminary, scientists are revealing some promising immune function benefits, particularly among children:

-Finnish researchers cut in half a baby's risk of developing allergies early in life by giving probiotics to expectant mothers and their newborns who were predisposed to asthma, hay fever and eczema.

-A recent study published in Pediatrics found that infants fed formula containing probiotics had less diarrhea and fever, and fewer clinic visits and absences from child care centers, compared to those who consumed a formula without probiotics.

-A seven-month study of more than 570 children in day care centers found that intake of a probiotic milk reduced the number and severity of respiratory infections and the need for antibiotics.


Some foods may be made with microbes-everything from sourdough bread to pickles, sauerkraut, kim chi, miso and fermented meats like salami. But it doesn't mean all the "good bugs" survived the processing or that the strains used provide actual health benefits, which is required before it would qualify as a probiotic, Sanders said.

You also can't assume that all yogurts contain probiotics (although not all experts agree on where you draw the line). Though many of the national brands contain "live active cultures," the typical strains used to make yogurt don't make it the full ride through our digestive tract.

These starter bacteria produce lactic acid and are used to give yogurt its tart flavor, but they don't seem to have the same types of health benefits as probiotics, which do survive the digestive tract, Sanders said (although they still might help folks with lactose intolerance).

If you want a yogurt with the gut-healthy, friendly bugs, you need to scour the label to see if the manufacturer supplemented the standard strains with probiotic bacteria. The two most common are Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria (or bifidus). You won't necessarily see the word "probiotics" on the label.

These bacteria (and their probiotic cousins L. casei, L. reuteri and others) also are being added to fermented milks like acidophilus milk, kefir and soy beverages.

New to the market is Dannon's DanActive, a probiotic dairy drink that contains 10 billion live cultures per serving-or 10 times more cultures than yogurt, according to the label. DanActive also appears to be the first product to use the immunity claim to try and sell Americans on the benefits of live microorganisms. The label touts its ability to "naturally strengthen your body's defense system."

Companies are exploring adding the cultures to a wide range of non-dairy products, including breakfast cereal, energy bars, juices and other beverages, and even candy. Capsules of probiotics also are available in health food stores, but experts believe there may be additional benefits of getting your bacteria in a food form, especially through dairy products.

To take care of the "good" bacteria you buy, don't let your probiotic products linger at room temperature, and don't heat them or you'll kill the live cultures. Also, it's best to consume probiotics before the use-by date on the label (or within the week following the sell-by date). Otherwise, the live cultures begin to die off.

To reap the full benefits, you need to consume probiotics on a regular basis. The friendly bacteria only persist in your gut as long as there's a steady supply. So if you don't eat any foods or supplements containing probiotics, after about a month they will be gone.


Now that you've gotten to know the term "probiotics," there's something else you should add to your lexicon: prebiotics.

These are types of dietary fiber, such as inulin and oligosaccharides, that help nourish the growth of good bacteria. Companies are beginning to introduce new products that contain a combination of probiotics and prebiotics.

Consuming foods that naturally contain prebiotics-garlic, onions, artichokes, bananas and whole grains-also can help stimulate the good bugs that naturally reside in your digestive tract.

(c) 2005, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Mondays With Martha by Wendi Friesen

Comments: Here's a story from one of the newsletters I get. This will really make you question if the right thing is being done in the Terri Schiavo case.

Mondays With Martha

A few years ago I had the opportunity to spend my Mondays with Martha.

Martha had been unresponsive for 3 years, the cause was unknown. She seemed to be unable to respond, move, or interact in any way. Her hands were stiff and unable to open or relax. Her legs were locked in a bent position.

If she was unable to respond and had been this way for 3 years, surely there was nothing I could do. To make things worse, I had to drive over an hour to her house where her 2 daughters cared for her.. I certainly didn't see why I needed to try to help when no one else had been able to.

What at first seemed like an impossible task, became a journey of great joy.

Martha's most immediate need seemed to be to communicate and get her hands and legs to relax. Her fingers were curled and stiff as wood. Her face was unresponsive. Her legs were stiff and unbendable. She had a feeding tube and her daughters fed her through this and cared for her with dedication and love. In their dedication they chose to continue to try to heal the condition that robbed their mother of life.

In the first session, I sat close to Martha and stroked her face, her arm, her hand. I had no idea where to start or what I could do, as a Hypnotherapist that the doctors were unable to do.

We played beautiful music, I put my head close to her and I took her on an imaginary walk down a beautiful path. My plan was to re-establish her connection with her senses and create movement in her hands and legs. I described a cold stream that had crystal clear water from the new, fresh, melting snow, and asked her to put her toes in the water and feel the icy coolness. We went to a sunny meadow and found little flowers and sat in the warmth of the sun and imagined making daisy chains out of the tiny flowers. I talked about two little girls who saw what she was doing and come over to learn the daisy chains. Together we felt the grasses, and the warmth of the sun, the breeze as it blew her hair. I described in great detail how her nimble fingers slid the flower into the stem of the other.

As I talked, I stroked her hands and fingers, saying relax and let go- your fingers open and relax, and I continued to describe the sensations in her body.
Her two daughters were in the room and after our session they told me that the stream and meadow and daisy chains were an actual memory from their childhood with their mother. The details I described on the journey were just as they remembered.

In the next sessions I asked her inner mind to create a connection with her fingers and to create an ideo-motor response (an involuntary movement of a finger) that indicates yes, and another finger to move to indicate no. And as I asked, her fingers would move. We could communicate! Her hands became relaxed and soft, her legs could bend.

In the weeks that followed she began to have _expression when I came in the room. She would raise her eyebrows when she heard my voice, and yes, she smiled. Her progress was remarkable. We didn't expect much, and every little bit of progress was so very rewarding.

One day, I decided to sing. I asked her to sing with me and remember the music of her soul, her voice carrying the wonderful sounds that her soul has been longing share. No sounds were made at first and it just seemed that we could feel how much she wanted to sing. Soon she began to make sounds, soft, beautiful sounds - the aaaahs and oooohs that her willing mind learned to express as she healed. Amazing.

I am sure there were many that wanted to give up on her, pull her feeding tube, let her die since there was no hope.

But now, here in her room, after just a few months, Martha communicated. Her face had _expression. She made sounds. Her muscle unfurled and her hands could move. The joy she brought to her daughters was beautiful.

Martha's daughters- at this time in their adult life, were dedicated to their mother. Their life had meaning, joy, and reward because they could care for Martha and love her.

I can remember my drive home every Monday after seeing Martha. It was a long drive, over an hour that I spent reflecting on how much Martha taught me and how deeply she touched me. Some days I cried because I was so touched to be a part of such beautiful devotion of family.

Martha taught me, touched me, and will always be with me. I reached her because I didn't know how not to. I did it because I could.

I am saddened that the courts can take away a Mother and Fathers right to care for their daughter. Terry Schiavo brings joy, meaning, purpose and love to that family, regardless of how unresponsive she seems. This situation has turned up our country's awareness of what is real, what is right, and where we place our priorities. If Terry wanted to die she would have left long ago.

If a court had ordered the feeding tube to be removed from Martha her daughters memories of her would be filled with anger and helplessness.
I remember Martha for what she taught me, and the purpose she brought to the lives of those who loved her.
Thank you Martha.
Bless you.

And to the parents and family of Terry, my heart goes with you.

Peace on Earth,

Wendi Friesen

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Beyond Ordinary Forum

Announcement: I just put up a new forum at

It's a place where you can relax and get together and discuss the things, people, and places you think are Beyond Ordinary.

Stop in - sign up and be one of the first to contribute and help this forum evolve into something Beyond Ordinary.
Beyond Ordinary Forum
Beyond Ordinary Blog

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Don't Kick It - Terri Schiavo Editorial by Peggy Noonan

Comment: I was going to say something about Terri Schiavo. I ran across this editorial that pretty much sums up my feelings.

'Don't Kick It'
If Terri Schiavo is killed, Republicans will pay a political price.

Friday, March 18, 2005 1:37 p.m. EST

It appears we've reached the pivotal moment in the Terri Schiavo case, and it also appears our politicians, our senators and congressmen, might benefit from some observations.

In America today all big stories have three dimensions: a legal angle, a public-relations angle and a political angle. In the Schiavo case some of our politicians seem not to be fully appreciating the second and third. This is odd.

Here's both a political and a public-relations reality: The Republican Party controls the Senate, the House and the White House. The Republicans are in charge. They have the power. If they can't save this woman's life, they will face a reckoning from a sizable portion of their own base. And they will of course deserve it.

This should concentrate their minds.

So should this: America is watching. As the deadline for removal of Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube approaches, the story has broken through as never before in the media.

There is a passionate, highly motivated and sincere group of voters and activists who care deeply about whether Terri Schiavo is allowed to live. Their reasoning, ultimately, is this: Be on the side of life. They remind me of what Winston Churchill said once when he became home secretary in charge of England's prisons. He was seated at dinner with a jabbery lady who said that if she were ever given a life sentence she'd rather die than serve it. He reared back. No, he said, always choose life! "Death's the only thing you can't get out of!"
Just so. Life is full of surprise and lightning-like lurches. The person in a coma today wakes up tomorrow and says, "Is that you, mom?" Life is unknowable. Always give it a chance to shake your soul and upend reality.

The supporters of Terri Schiavo's right to continue living have fought for her heroically, through the courts and through the legislatures. They're still fighting. They really mean it. And they have memories.

On the other side of this debate, one would assume there is an equally well organized and passionate group of organizations deeply committed to removing Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. But that's not true. There's just about no one on the other side. Or rather there is one person, a disaffected husband who insists Terri once told him she didn't want to be kept alive by extraordinary measures.

He has fought the battle to kill her with a determination that at this point seems not single-minded or passionate but strange. His former wife's parents and family are eager to care for her and do care for her, every day. He doesn't have to do a thing. His wife is not kept alive by extraordinary measures--she breathes on her own, is not on a respirator. All she needs to continue existing--and to continue being alive so that life can produce whatever miracle it may produce--is a feeding tube.

It doesn't seem a lot.

So politically this is a struggle between many serious people who really mean it and one, just one, strange-o. And the few bearded and depressed-looking academics he's drawn to his side.

It is not at all in the political interests of senators and congressmen to earn the wrath of the pro-Schiavo group and the gratitude of the anti-Schiavo husband, by doing nothing.

So let me write a sentence I never thought I'd write: Politicians, please, think of yourselves! Move to help Terri Schiavo, and no one will be mad at you, and you'll keep a human being alive. Do nothing and you reap bitterness and help someone die.

This isn't hard, is it?

At the heart of the case at this point is a question: Is Terri Schiavo brain-dead? That is, is remedy, healing, physiologically impossible?
No. Oddly enough anyone who sees the film and tape of her can see that her brain tells her lungs to breathe, that she can open her eyes, that she seems to respond at times and to some degree to her family. She can laugh. (I heard it this morning on the news. It's a childlike chuckle.) In the language of computers she appears not to be a broken hard drive but a computer in deep hibernation. She looks like one of those coma cases that wind up in the news because the patient, for no clear reason, snaps to and returns to life and says, "Is it 1983? Is there still McDonald's? Can I have a burger?"

Again, life is mysterious. Medicine is full of happenings and events that leave brilliant doctors scratching their heads.

But in the end, it comes down to this: Why kill her? What is gained? What is good about it? Ronald Reagan used to say, in the early days of the abortion debate, when people would argue that the fetus may not really be a person, he'd say, "Well, if you come across a paper bag in the gutter and it seems something's in it and you don't know if it's alive, you don't kick it, do you?" No, you don't.

So Congress: don't kick it. Let her live. Hard cases make bad law, but let her live. Precedents can begin to cascade, special pleas can become a flood, but let her live. Because she's human, and you're human.

A final note to the Republican leadership in the House and Senate: You have to pull out all the stops. You have to run over your chairmen if they're being obstructionist for this niggling reason and that. Run over their egos, run past their fatigue. You have to win on this. If you don't, you can't imagine how much you're going to lose. And from people who have faith in you.
Bill Frist and Tom DeLay and Jim Sensenbrenner and Denny Hastert and all the rest would be better off risking looking ridiculous and flying down to Florida, standing outside Terri Schiavo's room and physically restraining the poor harassed staff who may be told soon to remove her feeding tube, than standing by in Washington, helpless and tied in legislative knots, and doing nothing.

Issue whatever subpoena, call whatever witnesses, pass whatever emergency bill, but don't let this woman die.

Peggy Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "A Heart, a Cross, and a Flag" (Wall Street Journal Books/Simon & Schuster), a collection of post-Sept. 11 columns, which you can buy from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Thursdays.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Yahoo! News - Are magic mushrooms food?

Yahoo! News - Are magic mushrooms food?

Comments: This is what happens when the government thinks they actually know what's best for us.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Article from the Glass Marbles Blog: Margarine vs. Butter

Borrowed from Gary's GlassMarbles Blog

Margarine vs. Butter
For Nutrition month

This is interesting . . .
Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys; when it killed the turkeys the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back. It was a white substance with no food appeal so they added the yellow coloring and sold it to people to use inplace of butter. How do you like it? They have come out with some clever new flavorings.

the difference between margarine and butter?

Both have the same amount of calories. Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams compared to 5 grams. Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent Harvard Medical Study.

Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods. Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few only because they are added!

Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavors of other foods.

Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years.

And now, for Margarine...Very high in trans fatty acids. Triple risk of coronary heart disease. Increases total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) Lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol) Increases the risk of cancers by up to five fold. Lowers quality of breast milk. Decreases immune response. Decreases insulin response. And here is the most disturbing fact....Margarine is ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC...

This fact alone was enough to have me avoiding margarine for life and anything else that is hydrogenated (this means hydrogen is added, changingthe molecular structure of the substance).

You can try this yourself: Purchase a tub of margarine and leave it in your garage or shaded area. Within a couple of days you will note a couple of things:

* no flies, noteven those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something)

* it does not rot or smell differently because it has nonutritional value, nothing will grow on it even those teeny weenie microorganisms will not a find a home to grow.

Because it is nearly plastic. Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?

Another butter vs margine article from Cornell"

Saturday, March 05, 2005

This Month's Movies on the Spiritual Cinema DVD

In a mythical time in a mythical town, a boy, lured by a bright red bicycle, enters a mysterious barber's web, unclear as to the magic that awaits him. What develops is a relationship that fulfills both their destinies. A sweet film about courage, perseverance and the caring of a community. Written by Christopher Dodd. Directed by Michael Greenspan. [20 minutes, in English]

In this beautifully animated story, a little girl and her dog brave a long, blustery night alone in her room in their house on a hill. As the storm rages outside, she begins to look within and asks questions about life, death and everything in between. These youthful queries are the same questions we continue to seek answers to as adults - questions that seem to come to us most clearly when we are alone, waiting out the storms of life. Written & Directed by Michèle Lemieux. [10 minutes, in English]

The death of a close mutual friend threatens the sanctity of the one place on earth where J.T. and Hollis, in their 70's, feel most secure: their favorite fishing hole. A stark confession tests the boundaries of true friendship and a realization sparks the light of hope as they face the consequences of the choices they've made in life. Written by Matthew Porter. Directed by Joe O'Brien & Matthew Porter. [19 minutes, in English]

This feature length documentary is a special Circle presentation in tribute to the people most affected by the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia in December 2004. Join Buddhist nun Mai Chee Sansanee, the spiritual leader of Thailand, as we discover her amazing background, her philosophy, her spirit and her belief in the ever-blooming potential of each human on the planet. As part of The Circle community, your membership supports her tsunami relief efforts, which focus on the long-term rehabilitation of survivors and the education and nurturing of Thailand's orphaned children. Directed by Victoria Holt. [72 minutes, in English with some subtitles] INCLUDES AN EXCLUSIVE IN-STUDIO INTERVIEW WITH MAI CHEE SANSANEE, ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL SPIRITUAL LEADERS IN THE WORLD TODAY, AND FILMMAKER VICTORIA HOLT . [19 minutes]

In the first segment of this ongoing video diary, explore the origins of The Circle's premiere original production, Conversations With God. With author Neale Donald Walsch, producer/director Stephen Simon, screenwriter Eric de la Barre, creative consultant Viki King, and cinematographer Joao Fernandes. [7 minutes, in English]

The Spiritual Cinema Circle

More Spiritual Cinema Circle

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Top Ten Phrases in the Blog World This Week is march 1st
2.juvenile death penalty
3.commonly confused words test
4.supreme court ruled tuesday that the constitution forbids the execution
5.age group: o 100% had lower beginner scores
6.advanced level questions correct is a snow day hour delay mars volta
10.monty python's meaning of life

Source: Blog Pulse

Top Ten People in the Blog World This Week

1.Harry Potter
2.Johnny Depp
3.Chris Rock
4.Michael Jackson
5.Jamie Foxx
6.Tom Jones
7.Sherlock Holmes
8.Anne Frank
9.George Orwell
10.Oliver Twist

Source:Blog Pulse

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Some things never change.

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.
- Mark Twain