Sunday Image: The glorious Orion Nebula

Orion Nebula, M42, NGC 1976. Image credit: The Advanced Camera for Surveys, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope

Orion Nebula, M42, NGC 1976. Image credit: The Advanced Camera for Surveys, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope

In my early teens, the Orion Nebula was the first nebula I saw using my small backyard refractor telescope. I recall faint swirls of color that were different than anything else I had seen in the heavens. 

Over the years, and especially since 1994 when Corrective Optics were applied to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, images of our cosmos have markedly improved.

In 2004 and 2005, using the Advanced Camera for Surveys, Hubble was able peer further into Orion Nebula and see the “cavern of roiling dust and gas where thousands of stars are forming.”  According to Hubble Site, "Astronomers used 520 Hubble images, taken in five colors, to make this picture. They also added ground-based photos to fill out the nebula."

And what we now see is a gorgeous mix of over 3,000 stars, protoplanetary disks (birthing solar systems just at the edge of resolution in this mosaic image), and even, at upper left, a nebula within a nebula, what astronomers describe a “miniature Orion Nebula because only one star is sculpting the landscape.”

Through this remarkable image, we again meet the Orion Nebula, the closest birthplace of stars and planets. At the speed of light, we would travel 1,500 light-years before arriving.

John Oró, MD


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Sunday Image: “Fantasy-like landscape” of the Carina Nebula

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope peers into the central region of the Carina Nebula where birthing stars create overlapping bubbles of hot gas. This 50-light-year-wide view is among the largest panoramic images taken by Hubble. As described on HubbleSite:

“The fantasy-like landscape of the nebula is sculpted by the action of outflowing winds and scorching ultraviolet radiation from the monster stars that inhabit this inferno.”

Andromeda: New image of our beautiful neighbor


Astrophotographer André van der Hoeven has captured a spectacular image of our beautiful neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy. A 9.6-hour exposure and post-processing reveal Andromeda’s luster and enchantment. How would our own galaxy, the Milky Way, look from there? Most likely we would be a stellar sight, proudly shimmering throughout our galactic center, central bar, and spiral arms.

Can it be that Andromeda and the Milky Way will merge in 4 billion years? That a gap of 2.5 million light-years will be closed? During the slow cosmic tug, how will Andromeda appear in 1, 2 or 3 billion years? How much of Earth’s sky will it cover?

As a teenager, my first naked-eye sighting of the small fuzzy disk of Andromeda in the night sky was truly arresting. Not another star, but a galaxy far away from our own. Far from all the stars we see, far through deep dark space was another island of stars.

John Oró

SUNDAY PALEO / April 22, 2012


Everyday should be Earth day. Patagonia.


Backwoods Workouts With the World’s Fittest Man

"Erwan Le Corre doesn’t care for treadmills or pumping iron. He gave up karate long ago and lost interest in playing soccer. Nor does yoga, yin to the yang of the weight room, hold much appeal for the 40-year-old Frenchman. Yet Le Corre is built like a track star and can climb a tree as quickly as cat. He is also is adept at carrying logs, tossing rocks, scaling cliffs, slogging through mud pits and wrestling." -


Daily Soda Consumption Increases Stroke Risk

"In the study, men and women who consumed one or more sugar-sweetened sodas per day were 16 percent more likely to have a stroke over a 20- to 30-year period, compared with those who drank no soda." - MyHealthNewsDaily Staff 

Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Mechanisms and Clinical: n-3 PUFAs; The Potential for Atherosclerotic Plaque Stability

"The n-3 PUFAs have been shown to exert a range of anti-inflammatory actions, he said, which include decreased production of arachidonic acid-derived prostaglandins and leukotrienes, decreased production of inflammatory cytokines, decreased expression of adhesion molecules and decreased expression of degrading proteinases that can erode plaque caps." - Medscape


Eat Like A Caveman: Nutrition Lessons From The Paleolithic Era

"Paleo diet–approved foods are high in soluble fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals, omega-3 and monounsaturated fats and low-glycemic carbohydrates—the kind of nutrients that allowed our ancestors to have strong, lean and active bodies." - Wellness Times

Teach Kids to Read “High Fructose Corn Syrup” in Ingredient Lists

"So off to the candy aisle we went. We walked out of the store with a bottle of Mellow Yellow because it was cheap and the print was bigger. In case you don’t know what that is – I certainly didn’t – it’s a lemon soda that contains nothing but poisonous substances. If you try this experiment at home, whatever you do, don’t open that bottle!" - The Primal Parent



In the market for an electric car? Check out the new Ford Focus here and here. Or, maybe you want to wait for the Sora electric motorcycle by Lito Green Motion; video here.


Urban farming is reaching a new level. Not only are communities, such as Boise, increasingly embracing the concept, its benefits beyond food, such as in Green Gotham, are also increasingly being recognized. Now Michigan is proposing a “100-acre, $100-million urban-farming research center in Detroit” and Colorado State University is hiring its “first urban agriculture extension agent.”

Find a brief survey of urban farming in cities throughout the world here. Some people are even being salaried for their efforts.



SUNDAY PALEO / April 15, 2011


Review: In Search of the Perfect Human Diet

On Memorial day 1978, I dropped dead.

Thus starts the new documentary, In Search of the Perfect Human Diet, by producer CJ Hunt. At 24 years of age, Hunt had suffered a heart attack while running track. On discharge following a 10-day hospitalization, he was given the following advice: “Don’t walk up stairs. Don’t go anywhere without someone that knows CPR. You have over a 50% chance of dying in the next two years.”

Deeply shaken, CJ began a “personal quest for optimal health.” Over the subsequent years, in pursuit of the best possible health, he “experimented with a wide variety of eating methods, cleansing fasts, and dietary philosophies.” A cardiac defibrillator, implanted at the age of 46 to restart his heart should it stop working, became a constant reminder of his mortality and triggered “a 10 years journey to find the perfect human diet.”

At the beginning of his quest, Hunt recalled his parent’s advice (advice we could all use at various times in life):

  1. “Do your homework.”
  2. “Be willing to look past conventional wisdom.”
  3. “Don’t be afraid to go back and start at the beginning and see where it leads you.”

With bags packed, Hunt set out to interview nutritional experts throughout the world, many who are “flying below the radar of conventional dietary thinking.”

In an interview of Professor Karen Oday, Hunt learns of a small, yet classic, study with 10 Australian aborigines who, as young adults, had moved into towns and eventually developed type 2 diabetes. Each was asked each if they would consider living in the bush for 7 weeks and forage for their own food. All agreed. After just 7 weeks, their insulin and glucose metabolism returned to normal! Furthermore, an assessment of their activity level, surprisingly, was found to have been somewhat less in the bush. (This finding supports the concept that hunter-gatherers had more leisure time than people in modern cultures.)

Jay Wortman, MD discusses the nutritional insights gained while helping the First Nations people of Canada reclaim their health by returning to their traditional diet. Michael R. Eades, MD emphasizes the importance of protein in the human diet.

Science journalist Garry Taubes, author of Why We Get Fat, provides a historical perspective on missteps that have led the current increase in obesity and chronic diseases. He explains how the demonization of dietary fats led to a marked increased in the consumption of refined carbohydrates, an underlying factor in many modern preventable diseases. Andrew Weil, MD, founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, reinforces this point:

Fat does not make us fat. What is driving the obesity epidemic in this country is the very high glycemic load carbohydrate foods which have been technically manipulated.

Adele Hite, MPH, MAT, Executive Director of the Healthy Nation Coalition, discusses the origin of the USDA food pyramid:

From the start, our dietary recommendations have been based as much on politics as on science.

Hunt then travels to Colorado State University to interview Professor Loren Cordain, “America’s leading expert on evolutionary nutrition.” Cordain relates how he developed an interest in Paleolithic nutrition after a reading the “classic article” by Dr. S. Boyd Eaton, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1985.

Dr. Cordain then takes Hunt on the CSU football field to provide “a sense of scale” to human dietary evolution. Beginning on one end of the field (viewed as 2 million years ago), both slowly walk down the field as Cordain points out the time periods of various dietary changes and finally reaches the development of processed foods beginning around 1900 to the present.  This final period represents a miniscule portion of the entire evolutionary timeframe: “the last 1/5 of the last inch” of the hundred-yard field. Frankly, an astoundingly small period of time; so brief, it exposes the typical modern diet as an experiment, one whose outcome we are now beginning to comprehend.

This is a good place to pause the video. Get up and walk around. Get a Paleo snack and come back soon for the rest of the story.

SUNDAY PALEO / April 1, 2012


First EV Charging Station in Barcelona. Image: RudolfSimon


Thinking about your next car, even if it's 5 or more years away? Well, you should. Your next car may not accommodate hydrocarbons and run solely on electricity; although some of the electricity used to charge the batteries may be derived hydrocarbon, at least initially.

Worried about the range of electric cars? Advanced car design will extend the vehicles range per charge and new charging networks, such as Oregon's  "Electric Highway," will allow you to travel even further. In California, NRG Energy is investing $100 million to will “build a 200 charging station network."

The fee-based charging network will add 50 miles of range for an EV in less than 15 minutes of charging.
 NRG will also wire a minimum of 10,000 individual parking spaces at homes, offices, multifamily communities, schools and hospitals.

Among the cars that will use "electric highways" is the Nissan Leaf EV. By the end of the year, the Leaf will be upgraded with a “much, much more efficient” heating system that will increase the cars 73 miles per charge range by 20 to 25 miles. And Nissan is not stopping there. At the upcoming New York Auto Show, the company will announce a new Infinity EV model (seen in illustrations here) using the powertrain of the Nissan Leaf EV.


An innovative and sustainable skyscraper will be world’s second tallest when completed in 2014. The Shanghai Tower, currently under construction in Shanghai, China, is decribed by as an “elegant structure" that "spirals up to the sky.” The skyscraper will “include a rainwater recycling system and a series of wind turbines able to generate up to 350,000 kWh of electricity per year.” continues:

The tower will take the form of nine cylindrical buildings stacked atop each other, enclosed by layers of glass, and hosting public space for visitors including atriums, gardens, cafes, restaurants, retail space, a hotel, and 360-degree views of the city.

(Striking images of the structure are included.)

Electric bicycle sales are on the rise. Clean Technica reports that annual sales "are expected to go over 30 million in 2012 and over 47 million by 2018.” While most of the growth occurring in China, sales of electric bicycles in the North America are expected grow by 22%. Maybe they will look like this prototype by Ford.


Reviewing a recent study published in International Journal of Epidemiology, MyHealthNewsDaily reports:

A short, intense exercise session may be healthier than a longer, more moderate session that burns the same number of calories …

… people who engaged in the most vigorous exercise reduced their risk of developing metabolic syndrome by two-thirds …”


Olive oil

Mark Sisson, in one of his previous posts, has a great defense of olive oil. Just in case you have set olive oil aside, consider Mark’s take on the subject:

Olive oil's reputation has been besmirched. It isn’t the magic life elixir fueling the teeming hordes of Mediterranean-dieting, crusty bread-eating, moderate wine-drinking centenarians, but it doesn’t deserve to be tossed in the trash heap with soybean, grapeseed, corn, and canola oils.


Possible good news for the chocolate eaters. According to USA Today, a new study published in Archives of Internal Medicine, found that people eating  “moderate amounts” of chocolate where “thinner than those who eat chocolate less often.”

The new research involved 1,018 healthy men and women, who exercised on average 3.6 times a week and had a balanced, nutritious diet. The body mass index of those who ate chocolate five times a week was 1 point lower than people who did not eat it regularly. Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.

Although lead investigator Beatrice Golomb described the 1 point increase in BMI as “not insignificant”, if your BMI is more than a few points above normal, just adding chocolate without making other dietary changes will not do the job. Also keep in mind a major limitation of the study: it was observational in nature and dependent on self reports on how much chocolate was eaten.

SUNDAY PALEO / March 25, 2012


Hungry for a bowl of white rice? Instead, switch from white rice (one of the lowest quality foods) to blueberries (one of the highest).

This Sunday we look at some recent nutritional wins and losses. 

Wins: The Paleo diet

On March 16, Reuters reported

Eating more blueberries, apples and pears may be linked to lower risk of diabetes, according to a new U.S. study.

The study revealed, “blueberry-lovers had a 23 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with those who ate no blueberries.” Consuming apples and pears was also associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Medical professor Dr. Loren Greene, not part of the study, noted:

While fruit sugar raises blood glucose levels rapidly, other substances in fruit such as fibers and pectin may have diabetes-related benefits.

The study abstract is located here

Take care of your health: Add some blueberries, apples, and pears to your diet in place of processed foods or the lowest quality foods you think you consume.

Losses: The typical modern diet

According to an article in the March 16 MyHealthNewsDaily, Harvard School of Public Health researchers in Boston reviewed “four previous studies examining the link between eating white rice and the risk of Type 2 diabetes.” The results suggest:

Eating white rice regularly may raise your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The researchers found “the more white rice eaten, the higher the risk of Type 2 diabetes.” The risk of developing diabetes increased by “11 percent with each increased daily serving of white rice." 

Professor Bruce Neal of the University of Sydney in Australia, not part of the study, cautions that the findings do not prove cause-and-effect between white rice and diabetes. The study reveals an association between the two. While Neal notes, “more work is needed to substantiate the idea that white rice increases the chances of getting Type 2 diabetes,” he also adds:

... diet-related ill health is now widely believed to be the leading cause of chronic diseases around the world.

If future studies reveal a cause-and-effect relation between consumption of white rice and Type 2 diabetes, what could be the mechanism?

The researchers said that rice has a high glycemic index, which means the body rapidly converts the carbohydrates in rice into glucose. The glycemic index of white rice is about 64, on a 100-point scale. (From comparison, ice cream has a glycemic index of 61, and orange juice rates a 50, according to data from Harvard.)

The study's conclusion:

Higher consumption of white rice is associated with a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes, especially in Asian (Chinese and Japanese) populations.

Take home advice: Switch the lowest quality foods in your diet with the highest. Ditch the white rice and add blueberries, apples and pears, or any of the many healthful foods from the original human diet. Try some of the recipes below.

Paleo diet recipes

Living Paleo

SUNDAY PALEO / March 18, 2012

Hidden sugar in children's diet

It’s should be no surprise that the typical diet consumed by American children contains hidden sugar and soda is suspected to be the major culprit. Now evidence shows that most of the sugar our kids eat is in processed foods, although soda is not far behind:

The data from the National Center for Health Statistics, released Wednesday, show 59% of added-sugar calories come from foods and 41% from beverages. But soft drinks are still the biggest single source of added sugars in children's diets.

Let’s jump to a study on Alzheimer’s disease published last year - another in the growing list of studies showing that Paleo nutrition beats typical nutrition hands down:

In this paper, we highlight how an excess of dietary carbohydrates, particularly fructose, alongside a relative deficiency in dietary fats and cholesterol, may lead to the development of Alzheimer's disease.

If soda is still a part of your or your children’s diet, take a look at 5 additional reasons to ditch soda published by NMSBC.


Red meat consumption in the news

It been a big news week for red meat. Researchers of a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found an association between red meat consumption and “total, CVD (cerebrovascular disease), and cancer mortality.” In a guest post on Mark’s Daily Apple, “study-dismantler” Denise Minger provides a detailed critique of the study and finds it to be:

… garden-variety observational study, not an actual experiment where people change something specific they’re doing and thus make it possible to determine cause and effect.

Notice that one of the foods listed under “unprocessed red meat”—and likely a major contributor to that category—is hamburger, the stuff fast-food dreams are made of. Although this study tracked whole grain intake, it didn’t track refined grain intake, so we know right away we can’t totally account for the white-flour buns wrapped around those burgers (or many of the other barely-qualifying-as-food components of a McDonald’s meal). And unless these cohorts were chock full of folks who deliberately sought out decent organic meat, it’s also worth noting that the unprocessed ground beef they were eating probably contained that delightful ammonia-treated pink slime that’s had conventional meat consumers in an uproar lately.

Now, here's the real surprise and disappointment of the study. Minger points out that  “… all of the diet data came from a series of food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) that the study participants filled out once every four years.” Yes, you read it correctly: every four years! Minger observes: “most folks can barely remember what they ate yesterday, much less what they’ve eaten over the past month or even the past year.” Minger continues:

…researchers found that a single daily serving of unprocessed red meat was associated with a 13% increased risk of death from all causes, while a single serving of processed red meat—the equivalent of one hotdog—was associated with a 20% increased risk.

Let’s put this into prespective. Someone you know is overweight, most likely from eating plenty of refined carbohydrates and processed foods. They are now going to forgo an occasional steak and will likely stick with refined carbs. Let’s look at the risks of this approach.

In a study of 8,534 identical and fraternal twins, those overweight in middle-age were 70% more likely to have Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia. According to the study:

...just being overweight—with a BMI of 25 or above—in middle age might also significantly increase the odds that a person develops dementia later in life.

We are not talking 13%. We’re talking 70%.


Introduction to Paleo nutrition

Jack Challem, author and personal nutrition coach, has written a concise and sensible review on the basics of Paleo nutrition. Here is the introduction to his article:

The idea that modern-day people might benefit from ancient eating habits has been debated for decades. But it wasn’t until 1985 that the potential benefits of the Paleolithic diet gained scientific legitimacy with an article in the New England Journal of Medicine. The lead author, S. Boyd Eaton, M.D., of Emory University, made the argument that human genes coevolved with their nutritional milieu over many thousands of years, with our genes and biochemistry becoming dependent on the nutrients in fresh, whole foods. Loren Cordain, Ph.D., of Colorado State University, has also popularized the ancient diet with his book, The Paleo Diet, and numerous scientific articles.


Georgia Pellegrini hunts for food

Already on a modern approximation of the Paleolithic diet and ready to hunt for your own food? Grist has an interview with Georgia Pellegrini, the author of Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time. Among Georgia’s responses:

People tell me, “I don’t think I could do it.” The good news is that you don’t have to. But if you want to feel what it is to be human again, you should hunt, even if just once. Because that understanding, I believe, will propel a shift in how we view and interact with this world we eat in. And the kind of food we demand, as omnivores, will never be the same.

[Since I started hunting], I decided that if I was going to be a meat eater, I really wanted to internalize what it means to be an omnivore. And I really do, it’s emotional, spiritual, intense. And I’ve become a more conscious eater, a more awake human being.


Grass-fed beef

Most of us are not ready, or inclined, to hunt for our own food.  (Can you imagine if we all tried!)  However, we do want greater access to grass-fed beef.  Frank Stronach is pursuing the goal of “turning grass-fed beef back into a mass-market product.” According to the recent article in Grist:

Stronach is buying up land outside of Ocala, Fla., at a furious pace — 70,000 acres and counting. His plan: to create a massive ranch with “30,000 cattle, a 61,000-sq.-foot abattoir that would slaughter up to 300 cows a day, and a biomass power plant that would extract methane from manure.

In addition to selling beef from his Adena Springs ranch to grocery stores in Florida, “Stronach hopes to expand the business across the United States and Canada.” Grist observes:

Grass-fed is promoted as a more humane way of raising beef because it’s centered in pastures, not in feedlots. It also offers more protein than corn-fed beef, although its environmental benefits are still up for debate.


Beacon Food Forest in Seattle

If you live in a community with farmers markets or urban gardens, you can easily find locally grown food. Seattle is taking things a step further and developing a “food forest.” In Seattle's Beacon Hill neighborhood, on “seven sloping acres of hillside in Jefferson Park,” developers are planning “the nation's largest free and open edible landscape.” Among its features, Beacon Food Forest will include:

… an entire acre will feature large chestnuts and walnuts in the overstory, full-sized fruit trees like big apples and mulberries in the understory, and berry shrubs, climbing vines, herbaceous plants, and vegetables closer to the ground.

… an edible arboretum full of exotic looking persimmons, mulberries, Asian pears, and Chinese haws will surround a sheltered classroom for community workshops.


Making better selections at the grocery store

Of course, most of us still purchase much of our food in stores. Sarah Fragoso of Everyday Paleo provides advice on Recommended Food Suppliers and Brands:

I get quite a few emails and Facebook questions regarding things like, “Where do I find grass fed meat in my area?” or, “What brand of coconut oil or coconut milk do you recommend?” To save me some time answering each question individually, hopefully this post will answer a bunch of your questions all at once and fill in some gaps for a few of you new to this whole paleo thing.


Ready to cook?

You’ve procured your food - whether hunted, or from a ranch, urban farm, food forest, or nearby store - and are ready to cook. You’re in luck. Hayley Mason and Bill Staley, authors of the blog The Food Lovers Primal Palate, have just launched a new Paleo recipe site – The Food Lovers Kitchen.

This website is one big step towards providing you with a highly functional and interactive Paleo website. We’ve built some great features into this website to make it more useful and functional for day to day use.

We’ve built The Food Lovers Kitchen to incorporate all the features you’ve come to love about The Food Lovers Primal Palate over the last two years. We’ll still be blogging here on the new site, with new recipes each week.


SUNDAY PALEO / March 11, 2012


View of the Anthropocene. In this case, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Image: NASA Earth Observatory


One year ago, I posted on how the proposal for a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, got its start:

Paul Crutzen coined the term “anthropocene” while attending a scientific conference. When the chairman kept using the term Holocene to describe the current epoch, Crutzen exclaimed “'Let's stop it, we are no longer in the Holocene. We are in the Anthropocene.'" 

Although the epoch has not been formally approved, it is catching attention. Time magazine has just named it one of their 10 Ideas That Are Changing Your Life. I picked up an issue, flipped to the article and was nonplussed to read the title: Nature is Over. What led the author, Bryan Walsh, to take this disturbing view?

Human activity now shapes the earth more than any other independent geologic or climatic factor.

True. This essentially is the definition of the Anthropocene, also known as the Age of Man or the Age of Humankind. Walsh quotes Crutzen:

Human dominance of biological, chemical, and geological processes on Earth is already an undeniable reality. It is no longer us against 'Nature.' Instead, it's we who decide what nature is and what it will be."

Walsh continues:

Humans have been changing the planet ever since the dawn of agriculture 10,000 years ago, when Homo sapiens began altering the land - and the plants and animals growing on it - rather than simply living on it as hunter and gatherers. 

Is Walsh's conclusion, "There's no getting back to the Garden," correct? Should we even try? What is the role for nature in the relentless Anthropocene? Is environmentalist Stewart Brand correct: "We are as gods. And we have to get good at it?" Write and send your impressions.


As noted in a previous SUNDAY PALEO, Berlin, Germany was the first to have a Paleo restaurant.  Soon, ‘Palæo’, a "24-hour takeaway," will be opening in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Danish menu is posted here. According to founder Thomas Rode Andersen:

"It's all about going back to something original, going back to what we are designed to eat and the way our bodies are designed to work..."

CBS Miami recently ran video segment titled Paleolithic Diet Gaining Modern Followers:


Although gluten-free is just one step toward Paleo, it is important to be informed on gluten allergy and gluten sensitivity. These disorders allows us to understand at least one of the mechanisms underlying the impact of grains on health. While gluten allergy is a verified medical disorder, there is still some debate on gluten sensitivity. However, the "evidence is mounting" as noted in the recently posted Wall Street Journal article New Guide to Who Really Shouldn't Eat Gluten:

Evidence is mounting that gluten sensitivity does exist. ... And in a study published last year, researchers in Australia showed in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that subjects with suspected gluten sensitivity had substantially fewer symptoms on a gluten-free diet than control subjects who unknowingly ingested gluten.


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