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What to believe?

Posted on November 22nd, 2010 by Alf | No Comments | Print | RSS

If you are of a certain age you will remember quite well that, many years ago, milk was considered to be the ultimate- even the super food – rich in protein, plenty of calcium, phosphate and other minerals, and vitamins. Then came the detractors – we were told that milk contained saturated fats and cholesterol and these were bad for you because they caused your blood cholesterol levels to rise and this in turn increased your risk of heart disease. What is more, as Asians drink little milk and their incidence of osteoporosis is lower than in Western countries, further evidence, surely, that milk is bad for us.

 Then along came another view about milk – the saturated fats may be bad for us but so too was the A1 casein, a key protein component of milk, because it may increase the risk of diabetes and other degenerative diseases. And more recently, there are claims that pasteurized milk is not good for us because it contains dead bacteria which are the cause of milk allergies. And we are also told that pasteurization destroys important enzymes that are needed to help the digestion of milk. There is really very little evidence to support any of these claims. Read the rest of this entry »

Get The Lead Out!: Ignore it and it won’t go away

Posted on November 4th, 2010 by Stephen Hardy | No Comments | Print | RSS

Metals built our world.  Historians define the level of sophistication of a human civilization by its use and mastery over metals.  Starting with the Stone Age, we moved through the Copper Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.

In our modern society, the use of metals goes way beyond the purely structural to build a car, bridge or skyscraper for example.  Metals play a vital role in almost every part of our daily lives.  But metals aren’t always our friends.  Even though they have been widely used for centuries, arsenic, mercury and lead for example are three very toxic metals.  We therefore have to balance the special properties of the metals, which makes them so attractive for industry, with their toxicity and capacity for harm.  But realizing they are toxic and knowing where the danger lies can sometimes take a very long time to figure out.  Let’s look at lead as an example.

Over the centuries, lead has been used in everything:  Lead in paint, lead in pewter, lead in crystal, lead in pottery glazes, lead in cosmetics, lead in jewelry, lead in weights and sinkers, lead in musket balls and later bullets, lead in solder, lead in plumbing, lead in children’s toys and crayons, lead on roofs, lead in batteries, lead in gasoline, lead in electrical appliances.  The list goes on.  But while it made our lives easier, lead has a dark side:  It is an insidious and potent poison. Read the rest of this entry »