Archive for the ‘health’ Category

Food poisoning – damn nature, you’re scary!

21 February, 2012

Food poisoning is – oddly – an excellent topic for a Naturehead because it leads you to discover the ecological quirks of the microbes behind it. Food poisoning is not a single type of ocurrence. The multi-faceted phenomenon entails a wide variety of microbes, each with their own special talents.

Bacillus cereus is a species of bacteria that defies some of the commonest advice that you hear about how to avoid food poisoning. If enough of these Bacillus cereus bacteria grow on your food successfully, cooking won’t save you from harm. You might kill them off after they have aready lacd your food with potent toxins.

“The spores of some species (especially Bacillus cereus and the ‘ Bacillus subtilis ‘ group) survive cooking and can subsequently germinate and grow under favourable conditions, particularly those in warm kitchens.” (from HPA website)

Nursing Schools blog article:

UK NHS… intro: Intro: and causes:


FSA say yes to Folic Acid

20 October, 2009

Folic acid in your bread, whether you like it or not? The Food Standards Agency (FSA) say yes.

The Food Standards Agency, as advised by their Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, has written to Sir Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer, to confirm their view that it should be mandatory for folic acid to be put into British bread.

This mass medication programme would be undertaken to reduce rates of Spina Bifida, a debilitating condition which develops in a baby during its mother’s pregnancy, as a result of shortage of  Folate (vitamin B9) in the diet. Currently the annual incidence is around 1,000 cases in the UK annually, which the FSA reckons could be reduced to 350 cases.

If the Department for Health recommends legislation the UK could soon become the first European nation to follow the example of the USA and Canada. As with the mass fluoridation of water, this move to medicate without choice is controversial.

Because the body cannot store Folic Acid, those who argue in favour of the supplement point out the advantages of having the nutrient continuously available in the staple diet. Folic acid, along with other B-vitamins, is already found in a number of popular breakfast cereals.

However, critics point to the unknown effects of state-imposed Folic Acid over long periods. In a study last year, Prof Young-Im Kim of the University of Toronto highlighted increases in bowel cancer rates in USA and Canada, saying: “Excess folate, especially in the form of folic acid, can fuel lesion growth, accelerating progression into life-threatening cancers, because high levels of the vitamin make it easier for tumour cells to copy themselves.”

Natural sources of Folate include green leafy vegetables, beans and sunflower seeds.

Vote for equality with bees!

15 November, 2008

Georgina Downs’ landmark pesticide case at the High Court shows that when it comes to pesticide protection in the UK – humans are worse off than honeybees!

In his ruling, Mr Justice Collins noted that the 1986 Control of Pesticides Regulations requires that beekeepers must be given 48 hours’ notice if pesticides harmful to bees are to be used.
“It is difficult to see why residents should be in a worse position,” he said.

You’re urged to vote on the Sheepdrove weblog! – should human rights gain equality with those of honeybees?

E.coli – friend and foe!

29 August, 2008

Do you long for a relationship with nature? You’ve got one whether you like it or not. Are you into wildlife or is wildlife into you? Both. In fact you’re full of it!

Your gut is home to many trillions of bacteria, and one species that gets an unfair press is Escherichia coli (or E.coli for short). Every now and again there’s terrible news about E.coli and how it killed people by being present in unsafely prepared food, or caused diarrhoea, or it’s becoming a superbug. > BBC news Small Video Image Farms infected with E-coli. < Recent concern about the over-use of antibiotics in farming highlights a very real problem.

But the truth is, our E.coli population is a vital part of an internal ecosystem keeping us alive. E.coli bacteria produce vitamin k, essential for the biochemistry of blood clotting.

Don’t get freaked out by the idea that you are full of micro-organisms. It’s totally natural. To give you some perspective on their importance: the human body contains a vast amount of living cells – a number roughly 1×1014 (that’s a 1 followed by 14 zeros), but only about 10% of those cells actually belong to us.

Background stuff

E coli was first discovered in the human colon by Theodor Escherich, a German scientist, in 1885. He also showed that some strains of E coli are able to cause diarrhoea and gastroenteritis. Microbiologists would describe E coli as a gram-negative, rod-shaped, and facultatively anaerobic bacterium. It’s in the family Enterobacteriaceae.