Natural benefits

"Massachusetts General Hospital has just teamed up with the Appalachian Mountain Club in Boston to prescribe nature as a way to improve wellness. And in Washington D.C., the new Park Rx initiative is designed to help people access nature. "National parks have always been loved for their symbolism and scenery, but we want to increase the awareness of their role in preventative medicine and therapy," said National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis."

Learn more:  Nature - Just What the Doctor Ordered

Toyota Introduces I-Road Pod Car

Source: Green Car Reports

Source: Green Car Reports

Toyota’s three-wheeled I-Road is now under limited testing in Japan. The I-Road is designed to be far more mobile in the city (it’s just 33 inches wide) and can park almost anywhere. It’s all electric - using two 2kW motors - which provides only 5 horsepower but enough to push the I-Road around. It’s active suspension system leans into turns, giving the feeling of a motorcycle, but with the safety and reliability of a car. It’s just fun to drive. According to Christopher DeMorro writing for CleanTechnica:

The best part though is that it returns a sense of “driving” to the car experience, as you’re not insulated from the road by a massive machine. Instead, you lean with the i-Road, and you have more control on the overall experience than you’d find in almost any other production car.

"Climate change affects military readiness"

Climate change affects military readiness, strains base resilience, creates missions in new regions of the world and increases the likelihood that our armed forces will be deployed for humanitarian missions. In many cases it also threatens our infrastructure and affects our economy. And our continued reliance on the fossil fuels whose consumption leads to climate change ties our nation’s hands on the world stage and tethers us to nations that do not always have our best interests at heart.
— Rear Adm. David Titley (Ret.)



The end of night

Columbian Exposition in Chicago, 1893 - the dawn of the age of light. Image:

Columbian Exposition in Chicago, 1893 - the dawn of the age of light. Image:

Over 60 million Americans have problems sleeping. While insomnia has many causes, one is the use of electric lighting.  Our circadian rhythms developed from the 24-hour rotation of the Earth. Toward the end of the day, the slowly fading sunlight allowed the brains of our hominid ancestors to prepare for sleep. Around 1 million years ago, hominids began to use fire and congregate around campfires for warmth and safety. Socialization increased. Eventually cooking developed and led to further brain evolution.

The first lamps - made from moss or other plant material and animal fat placed in a natural stone recesses - are tens of thousands of years old. Portable lamps fueled by animal fat, and later oil, were carried by Cro-Magnon into the deep recesses of the Lascaux and Altamira caves where they painted remarkable images of ice age fauna 13,000-18,000 years ago.

First used around 400 AD, candles were an important form of lighting for 1,500 years until the development of gas lighting at the end of the eighteenth century. Candles could be linked together to create a spectacle:

"In 1761, at the coronation of George III, groups of 3000 candles were connected together with threads of gun cotton, and lit in half a minute. Those clustered below were showered with hot wax and burning thread."

Campfires, oil lamps, candles and gas lamps cast a dim light and nighttime activity remained limited. However, at some point, night was effectively overcome. An important landmark was Edison’s invention of the long-lasting incandescent lamp in 1879. The first lasting 13.5 hours.

My pick for the year heralding the end of night is 1893, the year Nikoli Tesla lit up the night at Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Following a prolonged rivalry with Edison on the most effective current for delivering electricity – direct current vs. alternating current, Tesla used long-lasting bulbs (by Westinghouse) and alternating current to create "the most spectacular display the world had ever seen.”

The dawn of electric lighting was the Internet of its age: it changed everything. By using electricity, “daytime” could last all day long. We could work day, night, or both.

Let’s return to the sleep problem. Imagine you are heading to bed and the light in the bedroom is bright. When ready for sleep, you turn off the current to the incandescent bulb(s) and fall into immediate darkness. With no time to prepare, your brain whispers: “What, you expect me to release this stuff immediately? Can you at least warn me?”

Normally, as light fades, melatonin is released (dis-inhibited) and, working in concert with a build-up of adenosine, brings on sleep. While some fall into a deep sleep quickly even with the lights on, many of us need a slow transition from light to dark to be adequately prepared for restful sleep. In the modern world, electrons heat the bulb's filament causing it to glow and shower photons on our retinas (even through closed lids) keeping us awake. Today, we control the onset of “night” and need to be a little wiser to get the sleep we need.

John Oró

Learn more: A History of Light and Lighting

Initially published November 22, 2010. Revised July 8, 2014.

100-calorie pack of Oreos vs. 100 calories of avocado

100 Calori Pack of Oreo (Image: Nabisco) vs. ½ of an avocado (Image: PaleoTerran)

100 Calori Pack of Oreo (Image: Nabisco) vs. ½ of an avocado (Image: PaleoTerran)

For years we have been taught the calorie myth - a calorie is a calorie no matter where it comes from. While in terms of energy a calorie is a calorie, the type of food the calories come from can make a huge difference on physiological impact.  Thus the concept of the calorie myth: a calorie may not be a calorie nutritionally. In a recent JAMA commentary, Dr. David Ludwig, head of the Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, compares the impact of two very different foods: 

The longstanding low-fat diet dogma and the concomitant calorie myth has caused many frustrated people to blame overeating and sloth for their inability to lose weight, and this is wrong, said Ludwig.

Eating refined carbs, such as a 100-calorie pack of Oreos, produces a huge surge of insulin that signals your fat cells to store calories. In contrast, eating 100 calories of avocado won’t produce the same insulin charge. You’ll also feel fuller, longer, after eating the avocado, while the Oreos will make your blood sugar spike and rapidly crash, causing you to feel ravenous in short order.

According to Dr. Bill Lagakos, author of The poor, misunderstood calorie:

The calories in food are not the same as those expended by the body. Carb-rich foods are easily over-eaten, producing a positive energy balance. The accompanying elevations in insulin cause net fat storage. Maybe all calories are calories, but not all calories are equally obesogenic.

Fasting: Switch on your "state of self-renewal"

According to a new study in Cell, when you fast your body saves energy by recycling your immune cells, especially those that are damaged. Arjun Walia writing for Collective Evolution:

"A number of ancient health practices are proving to be effective in multiple ways. We recently posted an article about meditation, and how neuroscience can now explain what happens to the brain when we meditate. Now, scientists have discovered the first evidence of a natural intervention triggering stem cell-based regeneration of an organ or system. The study was published in the June 5 issue of Cell by researchers from the University of Southern California. The research shows that cycles of prolonged fasting protect against immune system damage and induce immune system regeneration. They concluded that fasting shifts stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal."

Learn more: Scientists Discover That Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration & Fights Cancer

Does chronic stress lead to stroke or heart attack?

New research suggests chronic stress can cause arterial blockage and lead to stroke or heart attack. According to Science:

"Epidemiological studies have shown that people who face many stressors—from those who survive natural disasters to those who work long hours—are more likely to develop atherosclerosis, the accumulation of fatty plaques inside blood vessels. In addition to fats and cholesterols, the plaques contain monocytes and neutrophils, immune cells that cause inflammation in the walls of blood vessels. And when the plaques break loose from the walls where they’re lodged, they can cause more extreme blockages elsewhere—leading to a stroke or heart attack."
"Studying the effect of stressful intensive care unit (ICU) shifts on medical residents, biologist Matthias Nahrendorf of Harvard Medical School in Boston recently found that blood samples taken when the doctors were most stressed out had the highest levels of neutrophils and monocytes. To probe whether these white blood cells, or leukocytes, are the missing link between stress and atherosclerosis, he and his colleagues turned to experiments on mice."

Learn more: How stress can clog your arteries

Solution: Turning plastic bottles into thatched roofs



The previous post, “The ghosts of our consumption,” illustrates the scourge of plastic on sea life. Could plastic thatch roofs be a solution?

Betsy Teutsch writing in The Atlantic:

“David Saiia, a professor of strategic management and sustainability at Duquesne University, has come up with a brilliant alternative: plastic thatch from the huge amount of discarded plastic.”
“Saiia specializes in developing business solutions that will help people out of poverty while preserving habitats. On one of his many trips taking university students to the Ecuadoran nature preserve, Maqui Picuna, he challenged them to think of something useful to do with all the plastic bottles littering this scenic Andes cloud forest. Saiia’s sculpture, painting, and drawing skills kicked in; shortly a proverbial back-of-the-envelope drawing launched his business transforming bottles into thatch strips. The tops and bottoms are sliced off; the remaining body of the bottle is flattened and then cut into strips. (Saiia and Carnegie Mellon’s Engineers without Borders are now tweaking a human-powered machine to do this work.) Next, the strips are adhered to a cross-strip using ultrasonic sealing machines provided by Dukane. If you’ve ever sliced yourself wrestling with a device encased in clam-shell plastic, you know how effective ultrasonic sealing is.”

Replacing traditional thatch roofs with corrugated tin roofs creates homes trap heat and produce deafening noise when it rains. Plastic thatch roofs are a quieter, longer lasting solution.


“The ghosts of our consumption”

Image: Chris Jordan 

Image: Chris Jordan 

“Albatross chicks eat what their parents feed them, plastic included.” Unfortunately, the ocean is now littered with plastics “including pieces of shotgun shells, paintbrushes, pump spray nozzles, toothpaste tube caps, clothespins, buckles, toys - just to name a few.” Their parents “mistake the trash for food as they forage the vast, polluted Pacific Ocean.”

Source: Gyre: The Plastic Ocean exhibit, Anchorage Museum, Alaska

Book: Gyre: The Plastic Ocean



Success Stories: Jack Osbourne on the Paleo diet

Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Michael Buckner/Getty Images

"Jack, 28, has also credited the Paleo diet for his stunning 70-pound weight loss. The 5-foot-10 Jack, who has struggled with weight his entire life, slimmed down from 260 pounds to 190 pounds following the gluten-free eating plan. He said the Paleo diet helps him stay thin without experiencing chronic hunger and pro-inflammatory blood sugar spikes."

Jack Osbourne does Paleo to manage MS: Ketogenic diet aided Sharon's weight loss

Related posts

80 Paleo recipes with ground beef from Rubies & Radishes

"Ground beef is a great way to include grass-fed beef in your diet. It’s nutritious and affordable. Grass-fed beef is higher in Omega-3s than it’s grain-fed counterparts. It is also one of the best dietary sources of Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is thought to protect against heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Plus, it tastes amazing! You can read more about the benefits of grass-fed beef here. – "

See more at Rubies & Radishes

Mouse model suggest possible benefit of probiotic therapy in autism

In a research study published in Cell in December 2013, investigators evaluated the effect of correcting abnormal gut permeability on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in mice.

Using a maternal immune activation mouse model, mice treated with Bacteroides fragilis showed correction of their gut permeability defect and improvement in autism-like behaviors including “communicative, stereotypic, anxiety-like and sensorimotor behaviors.”

The findings support the concept that gut bacteria can impact behavior and suggest that probiotics may be beneficial in ASD. The author’s conclusion:

“Taken together, these findings support a gut-microbiome-brain connection in a mouse model of ASD and identify a potential probiotic therapy for GI and particular behavioral symptoms in human neurodevelopmental disorders.”


Microbiota Modulate Behavioral and Physiological Abnormalities Associated with Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Damnation: "Nasty questions" about dam removal

"This powerful film odyssey across America explores the sea change in our national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of our rivers. Dam removal has moved beyond the fictional Monkey Wrench Gang to go mainstream. Where obsolete dams come down, rivers bound back to life, giving salmon and other wild fish the right of return to primeval spawning grounds, after decades without access. DamNation’s majestic cinematography and unexpected discoveries move through rivers and landscapes altered by dams, but also through a metamorphosis in values, from conquest of the natural world to knowing ourselves as part of nature."


BMW i8 plug-in hybrid "supercar"

BMW continues it's electric vehicle push with the i8 plug-in hybrid rocket ship.

"The BMW i8 is ready to revolutionise its vehicle class. As the first sports car with the consumption and emission values of a compact car. The strength of the plug-in hybrid lies, among other factors, in the perfect synchronisation of electric motor and combustion engine, which makes itself apparent in maximum efficiency and dynamics on the road. The first sports car that even accelerates the zeitgeist."

Learn more: BMW’s New Hybrid Supercar Is Thrilling—And Somehow Practical

Is "deep reading" better on paper?

Has reading changed in the digital age? Are we as absorbed when reading on our screens as this young boy reading in the 1940's?  Brandon Keim opens his article in Wired magazine on "deep reading" with the following observation:

"Paper books were supposed to be dead by now. For years, information theorists, marketers, and early adopters have told us their demise was imminent. Ikea even redesigned a bookshelf to hold something other than books. Yet in a world of screen ubiquity, many people still prefer to do their serious reading on paper."

When searching for a good book, I find myself returning to physical books instead of digital ones.  While the evidence is not definitive, paper may provide something not delivered by a screen. Keim quotes literacy professor Anne Mangen of Norway’s University of Stavenger: 

“Reading is human-technology interaction. Perhaps the tactility and physical permanence of paper yields a different cognitive and emotional experience.”

Read more (on the screen!?) at Why the Smart Reading Device of the Future May Be … Paper

Caveman Cafeteria: Home-delivered Paleo meals

Want Paleo meals delivered right to your home? Want to arrange a Paleo catered wedding or event? Try the new Caveman Cafeteria:

"Colorado clients can subscribe for the 6-meal weekly plan or the full 10-meal per week monthly plan, which is delivered twice weekly. Monthly clients may choose from our Denver Metro Area free pickup locations from Boulder to Littleton to save the shipping costs. See map below for a list of locations and pickup times."
"Out of state clients can enjoy our 6-meal weekly service, which is delivered fresh (NEVER frozen) each Wednesday to cure your Crockpot Fatigue! We also have three portion size options to choose from. Medium works for most women, large for most men & XL plans are available for those with a big appetite. You can always change the portion size later if needed."