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Showing posts from November, 2013

B-vitamins, brain shrinkage and Alzheimer's disease

Globally, we are approaching a diagnostic rate for Alzheimer’s disease of about I confirmed case per second. This will quadruple by 2040 and by then 70% of all cases will be living in developing and emerging economies. These are average values and although a 100% increase can be expected on average by 2040, this will be as high as 300% in China and India. At present, the costs of Alzheimer’s disease to society in the EU is €160 billion and that would suggest, by extrapolation, a global cost in 2040, of € 1.6 trillion. This, in today’s terms is equivalent to the combined GDP of Ireland, New Zealand, Israel, Singapore, Sweden and Nigeria. That’s a lot of dosh and suffering by any measure.
For many years, researchers in nutrition have been interested in studying the link between Alzheimer’s disease and dietary patters and the two classes of nutrients of interest have been fats, specifically a protective role for omega-3 fats and B-vitamins, specifically a protective role for folic acid an…

Food allergy ~ a fiscal and factual view

According to a very recent paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Pediatrics)[1], food allergy costs a staggering $25 billion annually. This estimate was based on a survey of 1643 caregivers of children with food allergies. These costs are, by any measure, breath-taking. For example, in the case of obesity, for which we have very accurate data of the true prevalence, it is estimated that by 2030, the annual costs to the US will range somewhere between $ 48 and $66 billion[2].How on earth can childhood food allergy cost as much as obesity? The authors break the costs down as 17% due to the direct costs of clinical care and 83% due to hidden costs such as time off work by parents in looking after sick children. However, the key figure in calculating the true national cost to the US is the prevalence of food allergy, which the authors cite as 8%. That figure was generated by the authors in an earlier study of US children and is based on a large survey involvi…

The new crop revolution: its red and blue, not green

Red is the colour of socialism representing the blood of the proletariat in their struggle against capitalism. Blue is the colour of conservatism after the concept of the blue ribbon, which signified high quality. When the ecological movement started as a political group in Germany in the late sixties, the obvious colour was green – the green of nature’s plains, forests and pastures. The reality is that plants are green because that is the fraction of white light (sunlight) that plants don’t want. They reflect back this unwanted light and that is the green of natural vegetation. In fact, plants only use the red and blue fractions of sunlight and thus are politically fully balanced! So, what would happen if instead of offering sunlight with an option to reflect green light, plants were given what they want, red and blue light? That is one of the pillars upon which a Dutch biotech company, Plantlab[1], is built. A second is their vision for plant agriculture in the future based on how g…