What is the scientific basis of Food Addictions?

Recently we watched six episodes of a Netflix series titled Chef’s table: Pizza where they describe the culinary excellence of six pizzaioli, three Americans, two Italians and one Japanese. Of course, they completely ignored the fabulous pizza makers of both Argentina and Uruguay where millions of Italians flocked from the 1880s to the 1930s, in one of the greatest human migrations of History. We are the proud descendants of those hardy peasants and workers that build those countries up. And being produced by “Americans” (sic), they failed to acknowledge the origin of Pizza.

Pizza is the perfect example of the kind of foodstuff providing us Umami pleasure. For centuries the Western civilizations recognized four types of taste: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Until a Japanese scientist doing research in Leipzig in 1908 unmasked the mystery that Oriental cuisines had treasured for centuries: a fifth taste. Why did Europe and North America take so long to catch up with the Japanese? Because the recalcitrant colonial mentality of Westerners dismissed “what the chinks or japs eat” as disgusting fare based on strange sauces and fermented fish.

Umami is a taste provided to our palate by glutamate, a chemical compound, when it is associated with 5’ribonucleotides like insoate and guanylate. Japanese were more attuned to that delicate taste because they have used dashi for centuries; it is similar to the Western style soup stock but it is produced from dried seaweed kombu. Kikunae Ikeda developed the scientific concept of Umami when he was doing research on glutamate in the laboratory of Wilhem Ostwald in Leipzig, Germany. He stayed there from 1899 to 1901, doing research on basic elements of food like tomato, asparagus, fermented meats, and cheeses, etc., recognizing the taste of dashi. After extensive research efforts, Ikeda could isolate glutamate from kombu and prepared it in the form of salts of sodium, potassium, and calcium. Glutamate had been isolated from wheat in 1866 by Rithausen, who had found it to be insipid in taste. Thus, is how the infamous monosodium glutamate (MSG) came into being.

Note. This reproduction of Kikunae Ikeda was taken from Wikimedia Images.

In 1913 Shintaro Kodama, a disciple of Ikeda, identified 5 inosinates in dried bonito, a key component in the preparation of dashi; he found that the combination of glutamate and 5’nucleotides like inosinate and guasylate enhanced the intensity of Umami in certain foods. This work had been inspired by the earlier writings of Huizu Miyake, the first Japanese scientifically trained medical doctor who wrote that “good taste promotes the digestion foods.” That is a critical observation that paved the way for the industrial use of glutamate additives in the commercial food industry to generate addiction to it. Glutamate, together with other 70 types of Excitocins, arouse a pleasant excitement in humans by commandeering our Dopaminergic system, the neurological basis of Pleasure and Euphoria. (Sex also excites it) That is why we get so addicted to glutamate-laden tomato sauce, parmesan, prosciutto. Moreover, it is present in great quantities in fermented meats and vegetables. Now the sushi we consume in upscale restaurants is hardly made with freshy prepared rice anymore as they prefer to ferment it for at least one week before using it. Don Julio, one of the best grills of Buenos Aires, only serves aged meats and sausages in its menu. Mother Nature endowed our mothers’ milk with plenty of glutamate, basis of our lifelong bonding with the marvelous creatures that granted the Gift of Life to all of us.

Ikeda made the first scientific presentation of his discovery to his peers in the USA meeting of the International Congress of Applied Chemistry in 1912 with a paper titled “On the taste of the salt of glutamic acid.”  But it went largely ignored until a joint meeting of the American Chemical Society and the Chemical Society of Japan in 1979 in Hawaii brought this issue back into its well-deserved public limelight. Julius Maggi, a pioneer of the European food industry, designed appliances in the late nineteenth century to grind peas, beans, lentils, etc., to make nutritious and tasty dehydrated soups so the working women could have a ready meal for their children when they arrived exhausted from their factory jobs. Maggi teamed up with Fridolin Schuler, a physician, to design the first ready-to-made soup based on hydrolysate in the Swiss market in 1886; in 1908 he introduced his still famous soup cubes.

Note. This image of Juius Maggi was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Some studies have indicated that incorporating the Umami taste in low salt food increases its attractiveness, an important feature for the cuisines of nursing homes to entice older people to try their dishes, even though they use little salt. Moreover, these products increase the salivation of these older people, a key stimulant to eat. Blaylock and Weiner in their book titled Excitocins: the taste that kills claimed that there were scientific studies in animals that showed how the over-excitation of their dopaminergic systems produced neurological damage. However, better structured animal studies and later clinical trials in humans, should be designed to clarify it. As many issues in life, there should be an equilibrium with lessened collateral effects.

Our Roman ancestors used Garum, a mixture of fermented fish to put some savor in those Legionnaires’ rations in their extended warring campaigns in Europe and Asia. It is certainly an inherited taste seared in our genes. We can still remember how our wife at the time (the mother of our children) insolently took a rounded piece of Pecorino cheese (we had bought it in an Asti market to ferment it further) out of our hotel room’s fridge and dumped it in the wastebasket. We know that its strong odor was diffusing around, attracting the attention of the cleaning staff, but that did not excuse her brutal sabotage.

Madonna Santa!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Is the Western societies’ Abundance really over?

One of the more lasting consequences of the tragic pandemic we have gone through for almost two years—besides the worst legacy of millions of lost lives, including some dear members of our own family—is the firm certitude that society changed. No longer we have the hopeful belief that tomorrow will be better than our present, with the suspicion that there might be another pandemic in the near future, with unforeseeable social, economic, and human costs to each and every one of us. No exceptions.

The barbaric Russian invasion of Ukraine has compounded all those fears of the inhabitants of the European continent, long accustomed to the economic bonanza and social harmony that the Post-World War II institutional order brought them. The raw images of civilian casualties from a senseless war in Europe has shaken the confidence of the still wealthy Europeans with the fear of worse times to come. One of the most affected countries has been France, with a generalized shutdown of all public lights at 9 PM sharp and the draconian restrictions of energy expenditures.

Note. This reproduction of Camille Pisarro’s Bountiful Harvest was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Kim Willsher recently wrote in a The Guardian article: “Emmanuel Macron has warned the French they are facing sacrifices and what he called ‘the end of abundance’ at his government’s first cabinet meeting after the summer holidays. The president, speaking before ministers at the Elysée, said the country was at  a ‘tipping point’ and faced a difficult winter and a new era of instability caused by climate change and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine…His cautionary and sombre speech, which were immediately criticized as ill-judged and a snub to the country’s out-of-work and poor who had already made sacrifices, came after a summer of extreme temperature, widespread wildfires , droughts and rains.”

In our book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague we predicted that Western societies would make a re-evaluation of the critical role played by Minorities and the poorest members of society—overwhelmingly hired by the service industries to keep our communities functioning in times of extreme duress like a pandemic. The French unions reacted angrily to Macron’s words as they prepared to resist any legislative move to curtail their earned labor, unemployment, and pension benefits. However, the rest of French society tends to grudgingly agree that all the segments must share the sacrifices to affront the upcoming energy shortages next winter. The shortage of fuel and gas will not impede the social manifestations of discontent.

In Germany, the ruling coalition government announced several measures to counter the dire consequences of inflation and high energy prices for consumers. They are:

  1. One-time payment of Euro300 to consumers to cover their energy costs.
  2. A planned price cap for the basic energy consumption of the families.
  3. Retirees will also receive that stipend, but students will receive Euro 200.
  4. The successful 9 Euro ticket implemented last summer to use the public transportation all over the country will be extended with a higher price.

In a Bloomberg News Online article, Julian Lee predicts that rapidly replenishing gas and fuel storage capacities and reducing the amount of energy consumed by the citizenry will not be enough to stem the nefarious effects of Russia’s shortage. At present Germany has replenished 80% of their gas storage but their functionaries believe that they need to quickly find more alternate sources of fuel for the winter. The interrupted gas delivery system from Algeria to Europe, now supplying only the Iberian Peninsula, as it stops at the French frontier, will be eventually completed. However, the national interests still complicate the negotiations as the French insist that it should stop in their country and not proceed along to Germany and others.

These draconian measures will certainly have lasting psychological and physical effects on the inhabitants of Western Europe that we will pointedly discuss in future articles.

Stay distant.. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

Resolutely, Resiliently Working from Home

-“Doctor…Our bosses pretend to put the genie back into the bottle—too late.”

Dianne X. is a successful, qualified professional of the Commercial Real estate industry that has been working in a hybrid form for two years already. Out of the blue she received a memo last week that all personnel should report back to the office in July. She has earned her right to work from home three days per week and only report to the office two days to attend meetings, courses, train the rookies and show properties. She has voiced her opposition to management’s Orwellian demand  to give up her hard-earned privilege and she has received the solidarity of many of her colleagues.

If the myopic honchos, that fill the top-heavy management of Corporate America, harbor the illusion that they can corral all women back into their holding pens, they got a Big Surprise coming their way.

There is a significant difference between the concept of Home Office and Working from Home, which most of us have been practicing even before the pandemic struck. In order to engage in a Home Office set-up you need two elements to play:

  1. Specialized equipment for use at your residence and good connectivity.
  2. Focused strategy to maximize your efficiency while working alone.

What most people did doing the pandemic is much more modest proposition dubbed as Working from Home, which only entailed basic equipment and enthusiasm. But slowly and steadily the “home-stayers” learned daily, with its difficulties, how to work and produce meaningful results for their employers while being at home. Slowly a culture of trust spawned as the employees learned that it was in their best interests to keep the wheels of commerce running to the satisfaction of employers. The traditional bureaucratic arrangements in companies sought to control the employees by always “keeping an eye” on their subjects’ use of time. However, that tight supervision never prevented employees to check their personal emails at work, spending took much time at the water cooler to gossip and to stealthily take time off.

Moreover some people were never comfortable in the office settings to begin with. Minorities and Women may feel “out of place” in an environment still largely run by older white men that have a tough time understanding their very special needs. Individuals with young children at home love the idea of sharing parenting duties. To dispel the widely held belief that people working from home are loafers that use paid time to engage in personal activities and not the business of the corporations, a recent study showed that individuals working at home spend on average 48 more minutes per day on their work duties. Freed from the travails of grooming themselves and enduring large commuting times to their offices, they are much more efficient.

An interesting phenomenon dubbed as Nightshift means that when dinner is ready at your home, you interrupt your work for an hour to share the meal with your family. But oftentimes, the employees do not go with their kindred to watch a Netflix series at the living room and instead eagerly resume their tasks at their working stations.

If any of these so called Masters of the Universe harbor any illusion that they can just crack the whip like in the good old times (before the pandemic) and millions of ladies doing a delicate balancing act by combining work and family needs in a hybrid work environment, will stand up in attention like a meerkat family in the Serengeti plains…well, they are in for the rudest awakening of their lives. Instead of hoarding more mola, you should date more ladies. Or you can make it easier for your limited manly brains and read our new book Emotional  Frustration – the Hushed Plague to gently, slowly imbibe your underdeveloped minds with the secret workings of the feminine psyche.

Wake up, you dummies!!!

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What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Being very young and very lonely in France part II

We are continuing our discussion about Loneliness in the Young French citizenry.

Based on their individual and familiar evolution, the researchers distinguished four basic types of profiles. They are:

I—Inhibited Lonely people

These youngsters have encountered problems during childhood (family or school violence) and suffer of loneliness. Their early isolation has hampered their ability to develop lasting relationships of trust. Defiantly, they only care to have a few friends, and they usually cannot rely on their families. Their primary objective is to access an independent status (employment, lodging, mobility) which is a prerequisite for their social integration.

II—Resigned Lonely people

These youngsters had the same harmful conditioning stimuli than the first group, but their plight extended into early adulthood for which they recoiled into their inner sanctum, i.e. their nuclear families. Safely cocooned there, they seem not to suffer from their isolation, which is of paramount importance for their sense of well-being. They strive to maintain the equilibrium in their family bonding.

III—Assumed Lonely people

These youngsters do not suffer the crippling conditioning in their childhood but when entering their early adult age, they voluntarily decide, for professional, familiar, or geographic reasons, to limit the physical interaction in their friendly network. They feel fine with their arrangements to “have friendship at a distance.”

IV—Wounded Lonely people

These young people were first exposed to loneliness in their early adulthood when they face failure in their studies, work, marriage, etc. They feel “en décalage” vis-à-vis their pairs and believe that they lost friends due to their real or imagined failures. Retreating into the safety of a solid core of vetted friends, they hope to make a comeback after they have resolved their issues and are ready to meet new people.

The terrible worldwide SARS-Cov-2 pandemic, and its associated Social Isolation, for the past two years has significantly compounded the loneliness situation of young people all over the globe, including the more developed societies like France. In an article dated December 7, 2021, Axelle Davezac, General Director of the Fondation de France wrote: “The Public Health crisis has shaken our daily lives, our projects, our relationships with other people. For a year already, another epidemic has stealthily diffused: the loneliness, which hits one person over four. And the youngsters were not spared, as 21% of them have come across a situation of isolation in 2021, and a third of young people claim that they feel alone quite frequently.” Precisely at the very same early age where the cardinal sociability rules and tenets of material independence are cemented, two protracted years of Social Isolation have hit the 15 to 30 years old-age group. She claimed that 21% of young people were in a situation of compromised relationships due to isolation, more than nine points than data from one year before. The quality of their relationships with their entourage had degraded during this period, ushering a feeling of loneliness quite pronounced; one third of the French youngsters said that they usually felt alone, twelve points more than the median for the French population at large.

Note. This reproduction of Toulouse Lautrec’s Une amie de Suzanne Valedon was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

There are two major post-pandemic digital concerns for Very Young People:

I—La peur du décrochage

Many young people in their formative years are experiencing the fear of becoming disconnected, either because access to fast Internet services is often expensive in our societies or they have a tough time to buy the needed software and applications. They feel as if anytime, unexpectedly, a sinister hand could “pull the plug” of their connectivity and leave them totally stranded in the digital pathways of Life.

II—L’angoisse de l’écran

She also had some troubling words for all those that had to endure the attendance of study and college courses through web connections, without any physical interaction with their fellow students and teachers for months on end. She said: “But the anguish has also invaded all those who, alone in front of their screens have experienced growing difficulties to self-motivate, to grasp the content of the courses, to establish contacts with their fellow students and teachers.”

We will continue discussing these critical issues in articles soon to be uploaded.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Being very young and very lonely in France part I

-“Doctor…Scores of great Parisian girls feel miserably alone like me—we need much more gorgeous men like you to rescue us.”

Alina X. is a knockout blonde-blue eyed Slavic young woman who, through her sheer business acumen and manifold efforts, became the owner of a luxury fashion store in the most coveted neighborhood of Paris: le 16th arrondissement, where rich people live and play. We met her last week because she saw our humble profile in a dating app and contacted us for friendship and … je ne sais pas quoi. When we read her personal summary, we could not believe our eyes. When we started chatting, she quickly “spilled the beans” on moi. She told us that her case of romantic loneliness is not an isolated one as there are thousands upon thousands of gorgeous Parisian ladies that cannot find a suitable partner due to men’s proverbial imbecility and sickly obsession with sex. We suggested to her to read our new book  Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague.

Note. This reproduction of Marcel Dega’s L’Absynthe was taken from Wikimedia Images.

By Edgar Degas – Google Art Project: Home – pic Maximum resolution., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20303082

One of the signs that there might be something afoot in La Ville Lumière is the considerable number of beautifully manicured dogs and cats that you see paraded by their young owners. As for lonely individuals (and not couples)  in New York City and other large American cities, it usually comes down to an empirical rule of thumb (similar in its smart crudeness to the one women used for ages inversely linking the cylinder potency of a guy’s car and the size of his penis)

Show me how far you go to prep your doggie and I will guess how empty your Romancing attic is.

By some accounts, almost half of the Parisian population, are now living without a sentimental partner. How can this be? A study by the Fondation de France has shed some light on this issue.

 Commissioned by the above-mentioned foundation, the Centre de Recherche pour l’Étude et l’Observation des Conditions de Vie (CREDOC) conducted in 2017 a survey of French citizens aged 15 to 30 years old to find the causes and incidence of loneliness in this age group. In this humongous survey, 18% of the individuals aged 15 to 30 years were interviewed to ascertain their objective situation regarding their social isolation and vulnerability. They can only count on one social network (12%) or none (6%) These individuals have scant social interactions and very limited ones with their families, friends, neighbors, associated members, professionals, college or schools, etc. They found that 1, 4 million of young Frenchmen and Frenchwomen have only one social network and 700,000 have none at all. There are four levels:

I—Friendship level

It is the very first level of sociability for humans. They found that 77% of individuals aged 15-30 years old (60% of all the French individuals with a similar age) develop this kind of sociability. 65% of individuals aged 15-30 years old develop dense contacts with family members that do not live with them (47% of French individuals of similar age)

II – Neighborly level

Contrary to popular lore that assumes that lonely young people do not talk with their neighbors, they found that 49% of the 15-30 years old do have regularly engaged exchanges with their neighbors.

III – Associative level

They found that a large number (40%) have a high level of participation in social institutions, including political parties, charity organizations, clubs, etc.

IV—Labor and Study level

One in two individuals aged 15 to 30 years old socialize outside their work or college environments with their colleagues. They found that 79% of the students aged 15 to 30 years old have social contact with their fellow students outside the classrooms.

In the 15 to 30 years old there is paradoxically more social isolation for the young adults than for the younger members of the group. There are four reasons:

  1. Absence of family Life and Sentimental Bonding. They found that 39% of young individuals aged 15 to 30 years old live less frequently with family members (against 46% of the greener individuals) and have less romantic bonding (20% against 35% of the greener individuals)
  2. Degraded lodging and transport privileges. They found that only 53% of Isolated young adults in that group are satisfied their lodging arrangements, compared to 63% of the younger members of this group. Only 45% of Isolated young adults are satisfied with their transportation arrangements compared with 53% of the younger members of that age group.
  3. Lower level of studies. They found that 13% of the isolated young adults have a college degree against only 8% of the younger members of their group.
  4. Higher level of unemployment. They found that 22% of the isolated young adults are unemployed compared to 12% of the younger members.
  5. Lower incidence of alcohol and cannabis consumption. They found that 36% of the isolated young adults do not consume alcohol compared to only 23% of the younger members; 85% of the isolated young adults do not consume cannabis against 79% of the younger members.
  6. Addiction to the little screens. They found that there is s higher incidence of this addiction in the younger members, with more than fours per day on average.

Based on this data they divided the isolated French 15 to 30 years-old in four groups, which are extremely relevant for individuals in other modern societies as well. Do not miss Part II of this article. We will discuss these four groups and the different value assigned to their failures.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Are face masks still necessary?

“To wear a face mask. Or not to wear it. That is the question.”

On March 29, 2022, Adeel Hassan wrote an article in The New York Times saying that: “The highly contagious Omicron subvariant known as BA.2 , which led to a surge of coronavirus cases in Europe, is now the dominant version of new US. cases…Last week, the World Health Organization reiterated that BA.2 was the dominant version of Omicron around  the world.”

Despite the humongous pressure exerted in Washington, D.C., by the extremely powerful Transportation and Entertainment lobbies, the Center for Diseases Control (CDC) extended the draconian mask mandates for two more weeks until May 3rd. Even though we are tired of all the pandemic restrictions, we understood the logic of that directive for precaution in the face of an unknown threat still brewing out. New coronavirus cases started to uptick lately, with thousands of people becoming infected.  However, the more widespread coverage of the vaccines and the booster shots has markedly limited the hospital admissions and the morbidity; therein lies the danger that the real impact of the BA.2 variant is being under-counted as many patients consider it “a bad flu” and oftentimes ride it out, without even getting a test.

On April 18. 2022, Florida Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the mask mandate in a 59-page decision arguing that the agency had exceeded its legal authority under the Public Health Act of 1944. As soon as her decision was published officials , the Transportation authorities said that they could not enforce the mask provision in airports, bus and train stations, airplanes under the US jurisdiction, etc. We saw in the newscasts how as soon as flight attendants announced the decision over the airplanes’ loudspeakers, which provoked great joy in the cabins, the passengers started to unmask and swing their masks in the air in sigh of defiance.

Do we still need to wear masks for safety precautions? The answer is Yes and No.

Most Public Health experts agree that for fully vaccinated people that are in open spaces like the street, parks, outdoor cafes, etc., there is no need for them at present. However, the tighter the proximity with other human beings becomes, the greater need for wearing a mask to avoid infection. First of all, customers must respect the guidelines set by the businesses they patronize. A sign at the door that demands to wear a mask, must be respected, especially to avoid violent situations with staff. In an indoor space with great ventilation and tall ceilings, the need is relative. However if there are too many people inside and the physical space is limited, it is advisable to wear a mask. How do we asses if there is enough ventilation? Simple. If your nostril receptors can easily catch the various smells originated in human activities, like smoking, then the ventilation is poor indeed. Better to wear a mask then. Similarly even if there is not a Federal Mandate to wear a mask inside a plane at present, who would be foolish enough to risk a business trip or a family vacation? Sadly from the looks of it, there are plenty of people willing to play that Lottery.

The critical issue of demanding schoolchildren to wear masks is much trickier. First of all, children under 5 years rarely become sick of Covid 19, except for some tragic cases. Forcing students to wear masks inside the classrooms can be a self-defeating proposition as the children pull out their masks in the recesses to play together. Moreover, the USA has been somewhat of an outlier in this issue as most modern nations did not oblige Kindergarten and Primary School students to wear them.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

 

 

Safeguarding our Gut Microbiome after the pandemic

-“Doctor…During that homely seclusion, we ate too much junk—feel intoxicated.”

Claire X. is a smart, well-educated, middle-aged lady that, besides pursuing a successful career in the Finance sector, prides herself in taking loving care of her husband and their three children. She has always made sure that they would all eat  a Mediterranean diet save for occasional permissiveness usually on weekends. However, the brutal Social Isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has imploded so many paradigms of our former lives, also compromised their eating.

What used to be the Saturday Night loaded pizza became bi-weekly. Pourquoi pas ? What used to be the rare All the Works-Burger became a regular. Pour quoi pas? What used to be the fab Strawberry Smoothie became a lunch staple. Pour quoi pas?

The unhealthy cloistering with limited social contact not only brought a retinue of Mental Health disorders ranging from Anxiety/Depression to more serious pathologies, but also  had the collateral effect of compromising the safeguards we have been building for decades to improve our lifestyles. We ate food with too much salt, sugar, ultra-processed items. And way too often.

The microbiome is the sum of the bacterial and viral populations that reside inside our bodies, with mostly beneficial effects and some occasional deleterious ones. They are trillions of microorganisms that coexist peacefully in our Digestive System and in other organs, The majority of these organisms are symbiotic, which means that our bodies and these invited guests collaborate to promote our healthy status. In rare occasions they become pathogenic, which means that they promote diseases. A nice report from the Harvard School of Public Health stated: “Each person has an entirely unique network of microbiota that is originally determined by one’s DNA. A person is first exposed to microorganisms as an infant, during delivery in the birth canal ands through the mother’s breast milk. Exactly which microorganisms the infant is exposed to depends solely on the species found in the mother. Later on, environmental exposures and diet can change one’s microbiome to be either beneficial to health or place one at greater risk for disease.”

In order to ensure that we have the right amount and variety of microbiome, we can use the probiotics, which are foods naturally containing them or live active bacteria. It is a multi-billion industry in the USA, which is largely unregulated because they are considered as “mere food” and not drugs, escaping the regulatory enforcement of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Even thought the scientific data is still inconclusive, they might have a beneficial effect on younger and older patients.

Food with a high content of fiber can only be broken down in the lower segments of the colon, which means that the release of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) from the fermentation process will lower the pH of the gut. As a result dangerous bacteria like Clostridium difficile will not find a proper environment to grow and cause harm. Certain foods contain copious amounts of indigestible carbohydrates and fibers such as garlic, leeks, onions, asparagus, artichokes, bananas, beans, oats, barley. They are dubbed as prebiotic because they provide the raw material for the probiotic elements. Taken in excess, they might cause excessive bloating and flatulence.

Note. This image of the Microbiome was taken from Wikimedia Images and originated in the American Gut Project based on the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.

Keeping our bespoke microbiome system in decent shape is also essential to recover form the deleterious effects of the Covid-19 pandemic as there is a direct ink between the clinical status of our Digestive System and the integrity of our Respiratory System. Dr. Tim Spector, professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College in London, UK, wrote in a review: “recent research has shown that the gut microbiome plays an essential role in the body’s immune response to infection and in maintaining overall health. As well as mounting a response to infectious pathogens like coronavirus, a healthy gut microbiome also helps to prevent potentially dangerous immune over-reactions that damage the lungs and other vital organs.” These interactions are not yet fully understood by scientists, but it has been proven that gut bacteria produce many critically needed chemicals and activate the Vitamin A in our food, which helps to regulate the immune system.”

In order to be effective, a microbiome must be diverse; however as we age, that diversity declines. For that very reason, a good diet becomes of paramount importance in the latter stages of our lives. We should eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains, extra virgin oil, lean meat, and fish. We should restrict our intake of salt, sugar, alcohol , carbonated drinks, and sweets. And of course we should eat naturally resourced food with no additives or artificial sweeteners.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Defensive value of Anxiety

-“Doctor….I feel so anxious all day long—it is destroying me from inside.”

Thelma X. is an outstanding middle-aged lady that has been smartly juggling the demands of a successful criminal lawyer career and a beautiful family, married to another another lawyer who is so, so devoted to their couple that he does not mind rolling up his sleeves to fix dinner or breakfast for their two kids when she is late. She has all the blessings that a modern woman wants for her family but somehow…

Her dedication to her family and career makes her experience almost daily episodes of that most common of human emotions: Anxiety. Prodded by seemingly excessive uncertainty even in the most banal episodes of life, humans experience it when they have unusually intense and excessive emotional reactions to those common, and in certain circumstances exceptional, episodes of their treks through Life’s trails. Why would Mother Nature endow us with a biological response that seems deleterious? It is in fact an alert system that keeps us vigilant. Especially for all the women that are so heroically keeping our societies functioning on a daily basis by exposing themselves in the service and education sectors where there is always close contact with the public, without much ado.

Thank you to our dearest women for, yet again, showing us who has the Real Balls in society.

Note. This reproduction of Edouard Manet’s A Bar Girl at the Folies-Bergères done in 1882, at the height of La Belle Epoque in Paris, was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

In 1908, Robert Means Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson published an article where they claimed that the best task performance occurs at an intermediate level of arousal, with sub-optimal responses at both the lower and higher ends of the Arousal Spectrum. This produces an inverted U curve, which means that the beneficial effects of Anxiety eventually peak and after reaching the top, they begin to progressively diminish. They also found this peak occurs at lower levels for easy tasks compared to the peaks for more difficult ones. The Yerkes – Dodson Law.

Anxiety is a necessary component of our biological shield to function better in our societies, much more critical now that the Post-Pandemic World has changed many paradigms of our daily existences at home, work, public spaces, institutions, etc. What can we do to counterbalance its untoward effect? We must activate another one of our inborn defense mechanisms: the Parasympathetic System. What our mothers and grandmothers intuitively taught us at home is based on sound scientific evidence. First of all, take a deep, deep breath. Then go out to take some fresh air to activate the Serotonin and Dopamine receptors in our brains. Remember them?

A moderate dose of Anxiety will keep us safe in these uncertain, unpredictable post-Pandemic times. Last week, a homeless woman burst into the front door of the Miami medical center where we have been working for the past ten years. She was shouting at the top of her lungs that she felt sick and that she needed immediate attention. The security guard smartly summoned the Manager On duty by radio and try to contain the patient. When the triage nurse told her that she would have to be rigorously evaluated before seeing a physician, she went wild. She dashed to the front desk and with some incredible acrobatics, she jumped across it, to the dismay of the on-duty clerks. She raced across the hallways until she reached an office and blocked the door. One of our assistants was alone preparing for a procedure, unmasked. This woman started to cough in our assistant’s face and, was finally reduced by the summoned police officers after a too long-ten minute-tense standoff. Handcuffed, she was tested with a PCR, which was positive; our assistant has been testing negative so far. Who could have imagined to live such an ordeal when we showed up for work?

One of the worst collateral effects of this prolonged pandemic worldwide has been the massive release of Mental Health patients into our streets because either the caretakers disappeared or kicked them out into the street, or more ominously, the institutions begun to quietly discharge them due to tight budgets. We will address this Public Health issue in an upcoming blog.

We cannot trust anybody with our personal security out there in the street anymore.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

Post-Covid 19 Chronic Anxiety syndrome

-“Doctor….I’m not feeling well. Losing my temper. Can’t sleep…So much anxiety- what’s going on?”

Celia X. is a proficient and dedicated nurse of a major Fort Lauderdale hospital who had consulted us for resilient Migraine Headaches many years ago but then chose another practitioner, closer to her residence in Broward County. As she has been a loyal reader and fan of this web page, she called us a few days ago to congratulate us for the publication of our new book. From the start she started “spilling he beans’ and confessed to us that, even though she has been spared the worst ravages of this terrible pandemic at the personal. labor, financial and social levels, she was still not feeling right. Her live-in migraines and depression worsened with the arrival of a new boarding buddy: Anxiety.

We told her that, in a major or minor degree, it is a common situation for almost all of us and that she should not despair. Slowly but surely we will al come out of this protracted, insufferable, cruel Social Isolation that has wrecked the Mental Health of millions of humans across the World. We counseled her to deal with one little problem at a time and not overburden her daytime with too many objectives at work and home, like she had finely done before the pandemic struck us. We also encouraged her to continue chatting about these issues with family, friends, counsellors, etc., because the mere act of “bringing it out into the open” will bring her some balsamic relief and give her new perspectives by analyzing their input. She told us that after just chatting with us for a few minutes, she was already feeling a little bit better. As the French psychologist Jacques Lacan said:

“Dans tout acte manqué, il y a un discours réussi.”

(In every failed act, there is a successful address)

Note. This reproduction of Claude Monet’s Camille Monet on a park bench was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WLA_metmuseum_Camille_Monet_on_a_Garden_Bench_by_Claude_Monet.jpg

Here is an excerpt of our book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague where we discuss it:

“Once the lockdown is levied, many of the once thriving small businesses that used to predominantly employ women will be gone. And there will be hardly any credit for entrepreneurial initiatives as the banks will be reluctant to lend. Not only did women hold most of the jobs of Education and Health Care —the hardest hit economic sectors—but they were also furloughed in greater numbers than men…

A large proportion of them are single parents of the Latino and Black Minority groups. These disadvantaged single women, lacking adequate social/family support, rely on their children’s school services for their care, instruction, and meals. If they cannot take their kids to school, they will not be able to resume their former duties.

The same chronic anxieties pervading the workplaces may foster a creeping loss of libido and eroticism in many blue collars’ bedrooms. On the other hand, women with a “hot” privileged spot in the upcoming New World Order will be less amenable to passivity, demanding equal rights inside and outside the bedroom. Moreover, after months of this pandemic and its Social Isolation, our nerves are so frayed that we are seeing in our offices a rising number of patients sick with a depression associated with high anxiety—the Post Covid 19 Chronic Anxiety syndrome.

Has my world become dangerous? Will I keep my job? Will I find a partner?

Can I safely touch this person? Did I clean my groceries carefully enough?”

We will address specific issues of this critical clinical condition for different age, ethnic and socio-economic groups in our upcoming Wellness articles and Podcasting . Stay tuned for much more.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

We got the Pfizer-BioNtech booster shot!

Dear readers and fellow bloggers;

Good morning. Yesterday, my son Gian Luca and myself got the third dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine in the brand new Walgreens store located in Calle Ocho and Eight Avenue of Miami. 

In this picture you can see how a lovely technician called Elleny (very beautiful but too shy to allow us to take a simple screenshot of hers) administers the so-called booster shot of that vaccine.

Thank you very much for taking care off us with great diligence and patience for this important step.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.