Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Molecular Hydrogen Story and Nature's Perfect Antioxidant

This is a simple recap of what I know today about nature's perfect anti-oxidant, the humble H2 molecule.

The discovery of it for me, in this role, happened very recently, although I was pointed in the direction since 1998. At that time, I had worked for a while with Water Electrolysis Machines, or water ionizers, as they were then commonly known. In 1997 there had been a scientific publication that pointed to the fact that Electrolyzed Reduced Water (ERW) had anti-oxidant properties, which would explain the apparent health benefits people experienced from the water.
The 1997 research by Prof. Sanetaka Shirahata, did look in the wrong direction however. He thought there was stabilized atomic hydrogen in the water, which seemed improbable.

More recently it has been established that the antioxidant properties of ERW are due to H2, and moreover, the typical water ionizer is not the most efficient way to make that. So new generations of machines are now hitting the market, and even more simply, there is one company that markets a tablet to create your own H2 Rich Water (HRW), and it is quite powerful, the company is called Drink HRW. This may be the simplest solution yet.

Besides the tablets, there are a plethora of machines on the market, and you can find a whole section on Amazon on Hydrogen Rich Water with loads of different machines.

The Science of H2 and Health

As to the science of H2, we now have the Molecular Hydrogen Foundation, whose founder, biochemist Tyler LeBaron, has pursued his studies of the topic with a stint at Nagoya University in Japan, which is a center of H2 research. There is copious material on the site, and it can only be highly recommended, since a lot of the commercially available documentation is often still tainted by the nonsense of "alkaline water," which has refused to die out, even though that particular mythological explanation of the health benefits of HRW was seriously undermined starting by the 1997 research paper of Prof. Sanetaka Shirahata, published at the time in BBRC. Prof. Shirahata remained allied with Nihon-Trim a manufacturer of water electrolysis equipment. His line of inquiry, which led him to postulate atomic H as the operative factor in the anti-oxidant properties of ERW, became obsolete when the role of H2 became clear and moreover when it became evident that the existing water electrolysis equipment was inefficient in producing it, leading to the development of dedicated HIMs (Hydrogen Induction Machines).

H2 reduces oxidative stress as a selective antioxidant and by maintaining homeostatic levels of glutathione, superoxide dismutase, catalase, etc. (from the home page of the Molecular Hydrogen Foundation)

Nano-particles of Platinum in ERW

It appears that Shirahata et al. are still pursuing deeper ERW research, and in fact they are starting to legitimize what has been suspected for a long time, namely that nano-particles of platinum from the electrodes in ERW machines are partially responsible for the observed antioxidant effectiveness.
However, this is largely a non-issue, and may even be dubious. Tyler LeBaron made the following comment on the Facebook group on Hydrogen Water:
The study was done by Nihon-Trim who owns about 60% of the market share of ionized water in Japan, followed closely by Panasonic. They are, however, transitioning away from "alkaline" idea and now focus on the H2. They don't talk about microclustering nonsense....

Anyways, the study is very predictable. It is well known that platinum nano particles (PtNps) can be eluted by force-detachment upon electrode degradation. And these platinum nano particles have antioxidant activity all by themselves. This is clearly stated in the article.

It's like adding vitamin C to hydrogen water, and then comparing it directly to hydrogen water only. Of course the one with the hydrogen and the vitamin C will have more antioxidant activity than hydrogen only.

Also the study was only in cell cultures not in animals or humans. There is doubt that when ERW is orally consumed that: 1) we would absorb the platinum, and 2) that the concentration would be high enough , and 3) there is some early human data out of Japan that suggests that drinking water containing platinum nano particles may be toxic to the liver (which is one reason why the Japanese gov. states the water should not exceed pH 10, as the higher pH correlates with greater electrode degradation resulting in more platinum particles).

They also state in the study that the concentration would not likely be high enough for direct antioxidant activity in the body. Anyways, it is a fine study, and as mentioned, very predictable because they are basically adding another ingredient to the water.
(Tyler LeBaron, private correspondence, based on posting in Facebook group on Hydrogen Water) 
and in an additional clarification, Tyler wrote the following to me:
One comment is Shirahata mainly believed in stabilized atomic hydrogen, which he called active hydrogen, not so much hydride. It was a convoluted confusion between his stuff and Patrick Flanagans false info that merged the concepts of the two meaning the same thing.  But Shirahata believed it was atomic hydrogen stable in the water and minerals in the water. See: http://www.molecularhydrogenfoundation.org/core-information/alkaline-ionized-water-characteristics-benefits-and-future/


In short, it is best to leave behind all the confusion about alkaline water and active hydrogen, and focus on the massive body of research about the role of molecular hydrogen as the real actor which explains the healing properties of certain waters that are naturally rich in Molecular Hydrogen (H2), such as Zamzam from Mecca, or the waters from Nordenau (Germany), Lourdes (France), Tiacote (Mexico), or Nadana (India), and now also Taean (South Korea). Now that the real issue has been identified, HRW can now be made either with tablets that are dissolved in water, or with the growing range of HIMs of all sizes and shapes.
To a lesser degree, HRW can also be derived with the various mineral sticks, starting from Dr. Hayashi's mineral stick, which is absurdly expensive. Dr. Hayashi was one of the early proponents of ERW, but switched to HRW and he developed probably the first mineral stick. His stick is over priced. Why pay $70 for something you can get for $5? The problem with all the mineral sticks is not knowing for sure for how long, or even if they produce therapeutic levels of H2 in the water. You want to watch out for the ones that promote alkalinity, there is no known benefit in highly alkaline water - stories galore, but there is no solid research that ever proved it.

The Machines


There is a continuous process machine, called H2FX, you can hook up to your faucet, and there are an endless variety of batch machines with pitchers. I am using the "Lourdes" machine, and the same company offers quite a variety of machines. There is a growing collection of HIMs available on Amazon too.




Clearly this area is exploding, and who knows what other solutions we might see coming along.

H2 is the only selective antioxidant

What makes H2 so desirable is that it is the only selective antioxidant, that targets only cytotoxic processes, and leaves healthy oxidative processes alone. No other antioxidant can do that, and therefore you can always overdose with regular antioxidant supplements. H2 does not have that effect at all, but it is the quickest way to help your immune system get back up to speed and stay healthy as long as you have regular intake, and for that, drinking water is about the easiest solution.
All in all, we should note that a WFPB (Whole Foods Plant-Based) diet makes most supplements superfluous, since you'll get loads of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins the natural way, and usually only some B12 is recommended and depending on circumstances possibly some vitamin D. HRW will easily round out the picture and remove all doubt, so you can leave most of your supplements behind. What we have here is a paradigm shift in the making.

Putting it in practice

I would filter my drinking water anyway, but just to make sure, I filter my drinking water with a resin-exchange filter before it goes into the Lourdes machine. Among other things I don't like, it takes out the fluoride, which is my biggest single concern.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Simple Salad at Neerob/Packsun

This time our planned No-oil vegan supper did not work out, but we made use of the occasion to plan for the future.

Many people said they would come, few of them came.

The party was father David from St. Helena's Parish and myself Father David sampled some of the typical Packsun fare, including a somosa, while Khokon fixed us a simple salad that would pass muster as a no-oil vegan dish, and we planned the next proper No Oil Vegan Supper for July 25th, again the 4th Tuesday of the month - that day in June being the end of Ramadan. The rules are going to be different. The RSVP will be closed the previous day, and Walk-ins will be $12, while it will stay at $10 by RSVP.

As per our commitment to publish the recipes after each supper, here is the salad:

A Simple Salad with Cucumber and Tomato

  • Cucumber, grated/shredded
  • Tomato, diced
  • fresh lemon
  • Salt, Pepper
  • Cilantro
  • Ginger, grated fine.
And that's all. Obviously it was not a full meal, but the combination of Cilantro, Ginger with salt and peper in lemon juice was a perfect improvisation for a quick dressing.

Eating at home you could combine something like this with rice and beans and a vegetable of your choice, spinach, chard, broccoli or anything.

The more you start getting it, no-oil vegan cooking can be done on a budget, just don't be stingy with the vegetables, that's where your nutrients including protein come from. Meat is expensive! Essentially all vegetables have some protein, and the beans are a rich source of protein. The variations with beans are endless, it bears to experiment. The key is to realize that varied intake is the secret, and two or three vegetables at a meal is perfectly OK.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

New Food Realities WFPB - Whole Foods Plant-Based

For most of my life, I thought I knew something about nutrition. As a child I loved to help out in the kitchen, and learn cooking. In our household cooking was a serious affair: my mother ran the place like a hotel, for my father was a psychiatrist and had his practice at home, and meals were a major social occasion, both lunch and dinner. Whether it was us kids bringing friends over, or my father's friends and professional contacts, including other doctors, psychiatrists, and psychologists from all over Western Europe, authors, economists, ministers of state, and clergy. Lunch and dinner were often social events. Proper meals were being served and conversation was usually in three languages, mostly Dutch and German, but sometimes French or English. Ever since we went vegetarian when I was age two-and-a-half, my mother was always preoccupied with meal planning and nutrition. In those days, there seemed to be a lot of preoccupation with: but how do you get your protein? This being Holland, the answer was of course dairy, although there was some awareness of pulses, peas, beans and certain grains as sources of protein. But we definitely thought cheese was a health food, and eggs weren't bad either. Milk was still nature's perfect food. That was then, this is now.

As an adult, during a 20-year marriage, I was the cook. Cooking was my relaxation when I came home from work. In those years I had become omnivore, but still always had a vegetarian-leaning cooking style. I made pasta sauce completely vegetarian, using mushrooms, and my Italian (now ex-) wife within six months admitted my pasta sauce was better than her mother's. For which my mother-in-law never forgave me. During those years however, I also thought an organic filet mignon was health food, and if it wasn't organic I'd eat it too.

The last 20 years, I was slowly drifting back to a more vegetarian lifestyle, until I decided for health reasons that it was necessary to become a bit more rigorous, and after one false try maybe five years ago, I finally and completely shifted to the Esselstyn diet in May of 2015, and the results were dramatic. These days I am off of all medication and back at my fighting weight of age 22.

Vegan or Whole Foods Plant-Based (WFPB)

Vegan means strictly speaking that you're not eating animal protein: no meat, fish, fowl, dairy or eggs. Strictly speaking the term means little else.
Ever since Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn's work gained popularity (which got a big push when Clinton credited him with overcoming his heart disease), a more strict regimen has become more popular, no-oil vegan. No processed oils, and moderation in oily fruit (avocado, coconut), nuts and oil seeds. The biggie for most people is no more cheese. No, cheese is not a healthfood, as Dr. Neal Barnard of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine explains in his tell-all book about cheese, The Cheese Trap. Three months after stopping all dairy, I indulged in cheese at a reception, along with some red wine. The taste still seemed attractive at first, but the after taste was of having eaten window caulking and it felt heavy. Then I read the book and finally it all made sense. No wonder statistically cheese is totally correlated with the American obesity crisis... from 4 lbs per person per year, we are gobbling 33 lbs per person/per year today.

Most people fail to make the transition at first, as did I when I first tried the Esselstyn approach, because the preparation of food became a challenge, but this time around I prepared myself better, got some more vegan cookbooks, and accessed all the information I could find. Meals became fun explorations of new possibilities, and presently, a year and a half later, it feels like I am entering a consolidation phase based on a whole new cooking paradigm and a new ability to improvise with flavors and textures with the excitement of the discovery that everything tastes better and more flavorful if you stop cooking with oil. And your arteries will thank you!

The truth is not in what you don't eat but in what you can and should eat, and that is a very rich and varied plant-based diet, full of veggies, legumes, fruits etc., and it becomes an entirely new journey of discovery, as this blog tries to show. In short, the first time I tried the Esselstyn diet, I made two mistakes. One was to focus on what I could not have and trying to find alternatives, and the other was not to be sufficiently clear on the methods of preparation.

One practical example was about cooking without oil, in the Esselstyn book there is talk about stir-frying with water, but I don't believe it explains it clearly. I am finding that though some pans are more suitable to this than others, in general you can dry-fry onions, garlic and chilis, and then when it starts to brown you can add a half a cup of water, or vegetable broth, or even water from steaming vegetables, and with that base you can cook spinach, or malabar spinach or almost any other vegetable dish, lentils, etc. Once you are handy with this, it is a cinch, and the bottom line is, all vegetables taste endlessly better prepared this way. Oil or butter ruins the taste. Here I was making sautéed spinach all of my life, and I thought I was pretty good at it. I knew nothing until I tried the oil-free method. Spinach prepared this way is heavenly!

And there are tons of resources, such as Forks over Knives, the Engine2 diet, and the 21-day kickstart program from PCRM, and many other places where you can go for support. Here in the Bronx there is the wonderful resource of the Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Hospital, run by Dr. Robert Ostfeld, who offers a half-day course to learn the Whole Foods Plant-Based diet, in the best of the Caldwell Esselstyn tradition, and on a budget. You can even bring your significant other, so that at least you get support at home. I am now registered to go to his next workshop on July 15th. The bottom line is with the growing support options, people who are looking to make the change have an extensive support system at their finger tips. A lot of it is free, and once in a while perhaps you'll buy a book or do a workshop. And the fear that you can't afford it is not well founded, for meat and dairy are expensive both in dollars, and in the toll you pay with your health.

Books

  • Always first: Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure and 

  • T. Colin Caldwell, The China Study: Revised and Expanded Edition: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health 

  • Dr. Neal Barnard, The Cheese Trap: How Breaking a Surprising Addiction Will Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Get Healthy

  • Not strictly no-oil vegan, but a helpful little guide: Amy Cramer and Lisa McComsey, The Vegan Cheat Sheet: Your Take-Everywhere Guide to Plant-based Eating

 A new life-style

Most surprising for some is the experience that you can eat whatever you want whenever you want once you're on this track, as long as you stay within the bounds of no-oil veganism, and use only whole foods. But there is never a sense of dieting. Eat to your heart's content, and your body will adjust, and weight management is no longer an issue.

The potential for no-oil vegan for the restaurant business

This to me is the most exciting realization that has come to me, and I've begun to discuss it with restaurant owners: Not only does no-oil vegan cooking simply taste better, but it is the most universal choice for a restaurant menu. A vegan won't touch a merely vegetarian meal, but a vegetarian will eat no-oil vegan, a vegan will eat no-oil vegan and a no-oil vegan will obviously eat no-oil vegan. So, when a party of 6 enters your restaurant and one is vega-anything, you can always accommodate them with a no-oil vegan dish. You simply cannot go wrong. This new life is getting interesting.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Power Breakfast: Natto over tomatoed brown rice.

Our Chang-Li Supermarket now carries natto. A package of three is $1.99.

Natto at Chang-Li
While Natto is definitely an acquired taste, but, with a little experimenting, I developed a nifty breakfast. Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfasts, but sometimes I have a hankering for something heartier, more tangy and stimulating for breakfast, and with natto you can definitely do it and you can make it as spicy as you like.

First, here are the nutritional credentials of natto, from Nutritiondata. As you will see, it is low in cholesterol and sodium, but it is a good source of protein, Vitamin K, Magnesium and Copper, as well as Iron and Manganese.


It starts with a good brown rice with a tomato. I simply boil the brown rice in the rice cooker with a whole tomato in it and then I stir it up.
Then, at breakfast I chop up an onion, and crush one or two garlic cloves, and I shave some Daikon radish, and, if available, I add some beansprouts. I dry roast that all in a frying pan, adding a small amount of liquid when needed and a trace of Marmite or some Braggs Liquid Aminos.
I serve the tomato rice with the natto, and the supplied soy sauce and mustard over it, and cover it all with my vegetable mix. I top it with some roasted sesame seeds or some gomasio, and I sprinkle a crumpled sheet of nori on top. If you want, you can top it all off with some Kimchi. There's a breakfast that will put hair on your chest. If you wish, you could also include a chili pepper in your breakfast.

Ingredients:
  • Tomatoed brown rice
  • One package of natto
  • An onion, two garlic cloves
  • Some shaved Daikon radish, and some bean sprouts (if available),
  • optionally a chili pepper
  • some veggie bouillon, marmite or Liquid Aminos with water.
  • Roast Sesame seeds.
There's a power breakfast for you if you're into hearty tastes.