Better Living Through Well Being
When I was in grade school, a popular civics class topic was how to continue to sustain the Earth’s population when it reached 6 billion. In spite of efforts to limit population by some major countries, the Earth’s population is projected to bypass 9 billion by the year 2050. Given that less than 3 percent of the Earth’s water is usable fresh water and far less than that is even accessible, scarcity of fresh water will become an increasingly dire situation. In fact, if current water use trends continue, scientists predict by 2025 1.8 billion people will be living with absolute water scarcity and two-thirds of the global population may be living under water stress conditions.
FutureFood 2050 is a multi-year program highlighting efforts leading to a healthier, safer and better nourished planet capable of feeding those 9 billion-plus people by 2050. Sustainable water is one of the leading topics of this publishing initiative from the Institute of Food Technologists (ITF). The latest FutureFood 2050 interview series focuses on new strategies for smart water management that will help increase the world’s food supply. Since 70 percent of all water use comes from agriculture, scientists and policy makers are seeking ways to reduce the “water footprint,” a measurement of fresh water consumption. They state, “Making efficient use of the global water supply will be essential to feeding the world’s growing population in the years ahead. Climate change is already a factor in more unpredictable water supplies for agriculture and in the increasing acidity of the oceans, potentially affecting harvests of seafood and fish.“
Here is a short infographic video on the salient facts concerning the future of water and food production. Early next year, FutureFood 2050 will debut a documentary film exploring how the science of food will contribute solutions to feeding the world.
A new report released by The Organic Center, “The Role of Organic in Supporting Pollinator Health,” outlines pollinator-friendly techniques used by organic farmers that can also be incorporated into conventional farming. This is timely information given that one of our most important pollinators, bees, have been declining at an alarming rate over the past decade, which represents a threat to global food security. Organic farming, because of the practices it follows, has been demonstrated by a number of studies to support more pollinators than conventional farming.
Benefits of organic farming for pollinators include diversity of habitat in which on average organic farms have more diverse landscapes than conventional farms, providing favorable habitat for pollinators. Pollinators have less exposure to toxic chemicals on organic farms. Organic farming standards largely prohibit organic farmers from using synthetic pesticides and require them to use integrated pest management (IPM) techniques instead of relying solely on pesticides. Organic farms have more food for pollinators because they tend to use techniques such as crop rotations and cover crops, which provide a wide array of nutritious plants from which to collect pollen and nectar. The combination of increased pollinator habitat and food sources with reduced pesticide exposure creates a synergistic effect, resulting in farms that have a large-scale beneficial impact on pollinator health.
What will happen to the world’s economy when the “carbon bubble” bursts? The term refers to the 20 percent of the Earth’s known fossil-fuel reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas that may be exploited in order to meet the targets reaffirmed at the G7 Summit. The remaining 80 percent of fossil fuels cannot be used and are therefore worthless in speculative balance sheets. This question was attempted to be answered recently by 150 delegates to the first ever Berlin Investment Forum in Germany. All shared the common concern that when the carbon bubble bursts, it will negatively impact the global financial system and the world economy.
The financial experts focused on the need for an energy transition, claiming, “Renewable energies are increasingly competitive even without subsidies. They also drastically reduce demand for fossil fuels. It is therefore truly essential that investors make these risks transparent, adjust their balance sheets, and divest themselves of fossil fuels if at all possible.”
Renewable energies already satisfy 75 percent of Germany’s demand in the summer. It is hoped that by 2020, Germany could rely exclusively on electricity generated via renewable sources of energy: Using batteries in electric cars to store energy, increasing the share of solar power from 5 percent to 25 percent, establishing a capacity market for gas-fired power plants, relying on block-type thermal power stations, and retrofitting existing wind turbines with larger rotors for higher base loads. The proponents of this plan say, “Once Germany transitions from fossil fuels to renewable energies, it will be home to the world’s most competitive economy. We can then export our know-how worldwide.”
Other articles of interest in this Summer 2015 TMIS eNewsletter:
* Free service for physicians helps them provide end-of-life care that patients want.
* A recent survey from Reader’s Digest and the Alzheimer’s Association shines new light on the way people think about their brain health and lifestyle choices.
* Data from a survey that reveals the public’s misconceptions regarding heart failure will be used to inform ongoing efforts and outreach to understand and manage this life-threatening condition and major public health issue.
* Latest genetic studies show promise for clinical ways to curb chronic pain without narcotic side effects.
* New survey demonstrates need to clarify conflicting and confusing information about nutrition.
* Two studies presented at the International Symposium on Nutritional Aspects of Osteoporosis highlight the positive effects of prunes.
* Echinacea preparation is shown to be as effective as Tamiflu in early flu cases in large clinical trial.
I am grateful to be in a collaborative business with many talented and skilled professionals. Additional feedback and recommendations for our products and services at TM Information Services are always welcome.
- Mary Michele McLaughlin
From the Front Page of TMIS News
Click on links below to view Full Stories.
How Sustainable Water Use Can Boost Food Security Worldwide
Amid growing public awareness that water is not an unlimited resource, scientists and policy makers alike are working to reduce the water footprint of food production and ensure a safe ocean habitat for future supplies of fish and seafood.
Less than 3 percent of the Earth's water is fresh, and its distribution is far from even throughout the world. In fact, nine countries harbor 60 percent of the available fresh water, reports the World Business Council for Sustainable Development: Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Indonesia, Russia and the United States. As climate change and expanding populations put more stress on local water supplies, it will become even more crucial to maximize available water resources for agriculture, which accounts for 70 percent of all water use, according to the latest series of interviews from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) FutureFood 2050 publishing initiative. FutureFood 2050 explores how increasingly sophisticated science and technology will help feed the world's projected 9 billion-plus people in 2050.
"I think we are in a very early stage of the water scarcity debate. We still really need to do something because the water footprint is increasing," says Water Footprint Network founder Arjen Hoekstra, who coined the term "water footprint" in 2002 as a way of describing and comparing how much water consumers use. "The fact that food and beverage companies are talking about it is positive,but in the end, you have to recognize that talking doesn't change the world," he adds.
Organic is bee-friendly, shows new report
An important and timely report just released by The Organic Center shows that organic farming practices are effective in maintaining the health and population of important crop pollinators, predominantly bees, which have been declining at an alarming rate in the past decade and threatening global food security.
Titled "The Role of Organic in Supporting Pollinator Health," the report reviewed 71 studies detailing current threats to our pollinators and the impact of organic practices. It found that organic methods not only reduce risks to bees, but actively support the growth and health of populations of bees and other pollinators. The paper outlines pollinator-friendly techniques used by organic farmers that can also be incorporated into conventional farming systems.
"Our paper takes an in-depth look at the challenges faced by honey bees and other pollinators, and we look at organic as a model for supporting pollinator populations," said Dr. Jessica Shade, Director of Science Programs for The Organic Center. "We hope this report acts as a tool to educate policymakers, growers and consumers. Bee-friendly practices being used by organic farmers can be adopted by all producers to foster healthy pollinators."
Seventy-five percent of all crops grown for food rely on pollinators, mostly honey bees, for a successful harvest. But over the past decade, the bee population has plummeted. Since 2006, beekeepers have lost over a third of their bee hives. More than $16 billion worth of crops in the United States alone benefit from pollination every year. Without pollination from honey bees, many favorite fruits and vegetables such as apples, berries, carrots and onions would not be on our grocery shelves.
Risks and Opportunities for the World's Economy When 'Carbon Bubble' Bursts
A week after the G7 Summit and in advance of COP21 (the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in late 2015), renowned experts met at the first-ever Berlin Investment Forum. Organized by Der Tagesspiegel newspaper and Wermuth Asset Management around the theme of "Climate Change and Global Asset Allocation ", 150 delegates discussed the impacts of climate change as well as financial opportunities and risks posed by the worldwide energy transition.
Speakers included leading scientists Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber and Prof. Klaus Topfer as well as Rainer Baake, Undersecretary at the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The global investor community was represented by impact investors from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Willows Investments and Wermuth Asset Management, among others. Partners include the European Climate Foundation, ResponsAbility and Germanwatch.
"When the carbon bubble bursts, it will negatively impact the global financial system and the world economy," said Jochen Wermuth, founder and CIO of Wermuth Asset Management, a family office. The term 'carbon bubble' means that only about 20 percent of the world's known fossil-fuel reserves such as coal, oil, and natural gas (and as reported in balance sheets) may be exploited in order to meet the climate-policy targets reaffirmed at the G7 Summit. The remaining 80 percent of fossil fuels cannot be used and are thus worthless in the balance sheets of oil, natural-gas, and coal companies. Even if no agreement is reached at COP21 in Paris, tremendous adjustments in value will be necessary.
The Cancer List Keeps Growing Among Athletes on Synthetic Turf Environment and Human Health, Inc. Releases Its Study Conducted at Yale on Carcinogens in Synthetic Turf
North Haven, Connecticutt
Cancer cases among athletes who have played on synthetic turf fields are being gathered in a ever lengthening list, reports Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI), an organization of physicians and public health professionals.
Because there is still no government agency collecting data on the cancer cases among athletes who have played for a number of years on synthetic turf fields, the collecting of the cancer data has been left to Amy Griffin, Associate Head Soccer Coach at the University of Washington.
There are now 153 cancer cases reported, and of those, 124 are soccer players with 85 being soccer goalies. Many of them are student athletes. One would expect the soccer goalies to be the first to be affected because they are the ones who are always diving into the fields and therefore are the most exposed to the carcinogens in the crumb rubber.
The crumb rubber infill is loose and flies up in the faces, eyes and ears of the goalies as they dive for balls. There are 40,000 ground-up rubber tires in each field. Although there is no conclusive proof that the crumb rubber infill is causing the athletes to get cancer, there is new circumstantial evidence that must be taken seriously.
"Doc2Doc" Consultation Service to Combat Unwanted Medical Treatment Crisis Free
Responding to reports that millions of older Americans receive unwanted medical treatment, Compassion & Choices today launched a new, free "Doc2Doc" consultation service to ensure patients receive the end-of-life care they want. According to a 2014 poll conducted by Purple Insights, nearly one out of four Americans (24%) aged 50 or older, the equivalent of about 25 million people, say that either they or a family member have experienced excessive or unwanted medical treatment.
Better and more frequent doctor-patient communication could help prevent this excessive and unwanted medical treatment, according to a 2014 report by the Institute of Medicine, Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life.
To improve doctor-patient communication, Doc2Doc is specifically tailored to offer practicing physicians a free, confidential and readily available telephone consultation from a seasoned medical director with decades of experience in end-of-life medical care.
Americans Believe They Have The Power To Reduce Their Risk Of Cognitive Decline But Don't Know How To Make It Happen
Is your brain important to you? Do you know how to keep it healthy? According to a recent survey conducted by Reader's Digest in partnership with the Alzheimer's Association, 91 percent of people believe they can reduce their risk of cognitive decline, but they have misconceptions about ways to keep their brains healthy.
Reader's Digest and the Alzheimer's Association partnered to survey approximately 1,600 people in May 2015 about their brain health and their knowledge of how lifestyle habits affect cognitive decline and dementia. While the brain is the command center of the body and deserves as much attention as the heart and other vital organs, only 33 percent of people surveyed see their brain as important to them from a health perspective. Further, only 21 percent of people rank their brain as the area of health they focus on when making healthy lifestyle choices.
"It's time to reset the way we think about our brain health, as it is essential for overall body health," said Angela Geiger, Chief Strategy Officer, Alzheimer's Association. "The evidence that everyday lifestyle choices can make a positive impact on brain health is something that cannot be ignored."
When it comes to nutrition, only five percent of people surveyed consider their brain when trying to eat healthy, even though a healthy and balanced diet that is lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruit can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Only 62 percent of people realize that smoking affects their risk of cognitive decline. While studies show that smoking increases risk of cognitive decline, quitting reduces risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.
American Heart Association survey reveals Americans have potentially dangerous misconceptions about heart failure
Nearly six million Americans currently live with heart failure, yet a recent national survey found potentially dangerous misconceptions and knowledge gaps about the disease. In fact, nearly half of those surveyed got fundamental facts about heart failure wrong and two-thirds of respondents confused signs of heart failure with signs of a heart attack.
The American Heart Association, with support from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, commissioned the survey of more than 1,600 people as the first in an annual review of heart failure knowledge and attitudes in America. Survey respondents included the general public, as well as people living with heart failure and those who care for them.
While most general population respondents (70 percent) said they were aware of heart failure, survey results showed many people, including patients and caregivers, have misunderstandings about the condition and its causes and symptoms. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed mistook heart failure as a natural cause of death that occurs when the heart stops beating. Additionally, nearly half (46 percent) of respondents incorrectly said heart failure is a silent killer with no symptoms.
In reality, heart failure occurs when the heart can't pump blood efficiently enough to meet the body's needs. Heart failure results from the added stress of health conditions that either damage the heart or make it work too hard. There are important symptoms to recognize, including difficulty breathing, fatigue, weight gain of three or more pounds in a day and swelling of the feet, ankles and legs. There is no cure for heart failure, but there are ways to help manage the condition.
Potent approach shows promise for chronic pain inhibitor discovered through genetic studies that curbs pain without narcotic side effects
Non-narcotic treatments for chronic pain that work well in people, not just mice, are sorely needed. Drawing from human pain genetics, an international team led by Boston Children's Hospital demonstrates a way to break the cycle of pain hypersensitivity without the development of addiction, tolerance or side effects.
Their findings, reported June 17 in the journal Neuron, could lead to treatments for chronic pain conditions caused by nerve damage, such as diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) and post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), as well as chronic inflammation, like rheumatoid arthritis. Current treatments provide meaningful pain relief in only about 15 percent of patients.
"Most pain medications that have been tested in the past decade have failed in phase II human trials despite performing well in animal models," notes Clifford Woolf, MD, PhD, director of Boston Children's F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center and a co-senior investigator on the study with Michael Costigan, PhD. "Here, we used human genetic findings to guide our search from the beginning."
In 2006, Costigan, Woolf and colleagues showed in Nature Medicine that people with variants of the gene for GTP cyclohydrolase (GCH1), about 2 percent of the population, are at markedly lower risk for chronic pain. GCH1 is needed to synthesize the protein tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), and people with GCH1 variants produce less BH4 after nerve injury. This suggested that BH4 regulates pain sensitivity.
Disconnect between perception and reality in Americans' understanding of personal health and nutrition
New York, New York
When it comes to personal health, there is a gap between our nutritional needs and how well we're meeting them. A new survey of more than 3,000 American consumers by DSM Nutritional Products, the leading provider of nutritional solutions, shows that consumers are overly confident about their diet and essential nutrient intake. However, the reality of their personal health tells a different story.
More than half of Americans want to improve their overall nutrition and wellness, but don't know where to start. The same number (51 percent) are confused about the science behind nutrition recommendations. And while research shows only 10 percent of Americans get the recommended amount of essential nutrients, 57 percent believe they do.
And at a time when policymakers are finalizing the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a majority do not feel that these recommendations accurately reflect their nutritional needs.
"Our results will help consumers be their brightest selves. Our mission is to raise awareness about the nutrition gap of essential nutrients, and resolve conflicting and confusing information about the keys to better nutrition to help fill that gap," said Will Black, DSM Vice President of Marketing for Human Nutrition & Health, North America. "This survey identifies barriers to better nutrition and information."
Research Suggests A Link Between Dried Plums And Healthy Bones
The International Symposium on Nutritional Aspects of Osteoporosis (ISNAO) brings together the best scientific minds in bone health research and nutrition. Two studies of current research presented at the 2015 Ninth ISNAO has added to the increasing body of evidence that suggests dried plums (prunes) help to support healthy bones and may even promote attainment of peak bone mass.
"I'm thrilled to learn more about the research involving dried plums and how they help support healthy bones. The more effective strategies for preventing bone loss we can share with the public, the better," said ISNAO Symposium Director Connie Weaver, PhD, distinguished professor and nutrition sciences department head at Purdue University.
Osteoporosis continues to be a growing health concern, and according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF):
* 54 million Americans have low bone density or osteoporosis. This can increase their risk for broken bones, causing an estimated two million breaks a year.
* One in two women and up to one in four men over age 50 will break a bone in their lifetime due to osteoporosis.
* Osteoporosis-related bone breaks cost patients, their families and the U.S. healthcare system $19 billion annually.
* Experts forecast that by 2025, osteoporosis will be responsible for three million fractures resulting in $25.3 billion in costs.
Prunes are on the NOF's "Good for Your Bones Foods" list.
Echinacea Preparation as Effective as Tamiflu in Early Flu Cases in Large Clinical Trial
New clinical research suggests that an herbal medicinal product containing a proprietary combination of a concentrated echinacea herb and root extract is as effective as the conventional antiviral medicine oseltamivir (Tamiflu) in the early treatment of influenza. The results of the randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical trial were published online in April in the open-access journal Current Therapeutic Research.
For the study, researchers recruited 473 patients who had exhibited flu symptoms for less than 48 hours from 29 primary care practices in the Czech Republic. The patients were randomly assigned to take Echinaforce Hotdrink syrup, a beverage containing an alcoholic extract prepared from freshly harvested echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) herb and root (95% herb; 5% root) supplemented with European elderberry (Sambucus nigra), for 10 days, or oseltamivir for five days followed by placebo for five days. (Echinaforce Hotdrink is produced and marketed by A. Vogel Bioforce AG of Roggwil, Switzerland. It is not currently sold in the United States.)
The primary endpoint of the clinical trial was the percentage of patients with mild or no symptoms after one, five, and 10 days of treatment. At each time point, the researchers found that a similar number of patients had recovered in both groups. After day one, 1.5% of patients in the Echinaforce Hotdrink group and 4.1% of those in the oseltamivir group exhibited mild or no symptoms; recovery rates for days five and 10 were 50.2% and 48.8%, and 90.1% and 84.8%, respectively.
Statistical analyses revealed that the two treatments were, in fact, non-inferior to each other; that is, they were approximately equal in their therapeutic effects. When the researchers looked at a subgroup of patients with laboratory-confirmed influenza (as opposed to those with a clinical flu diagnosis), recovery rates still did not vary between the two actives. Finally, there was a trend towards a higher proportion of recovered patients after 10 days of treatment with Echinaforce Hotdrink.
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