Some Beach

Attention atheists: since in your view there’s no heaven or afterlife to look forward to, perhaps your goal is to live life to its fullest in order to achieve the closest thing you can to heaven on earth.

Have I got the thing for you.

Go jogging on the ocean beach in your bare feet. Do it close enough to the water so that the surf and foam from the crashing waves rush around your feet and ankles. And go in the early morning before the crowds come.

That’s what I did a couple of times this past Memorial Day weekend, at Bethany Beach in Delaware. And I’ve gotta tell ya, I was wondering if that’s what heaven is like.

If you’re not a jogger, going for a walk along the beach in your bare feet in the early morning, letting the surf rush around your feet and ankles, will give you nearly the same effect.

Eat The Whole Seed

Quick: What is “bran”?

I bet you said a type of breakfast cereal, like raisin bran or bran flakes. That’s what I would have said up until a few days ago. Actually bran is the outer skin of the grain – i.e. a grain of wheat, a grain of rice, grain of corn, or grain of oat. Grain, by the way, is synonymous with “seed”.

And the bran of the seed is something you should be eating. In most grain-based foods, the bran along with the “germ” (the seed’s embryo) is stripped away during the processing, leaving only the endosperm or the seed’s food supply. But when you strip away the bran and the germ, you’re stripping away a lot of the nutrients. Click here for details.

No, stripping away the bran and the germ isn’t some evil plot carried out by the multinational corporations. It’s something that the multinational corporations, along with the mom-and-pop shops before them, do and did because that’s what people have always wanted. After all, wouldn’t you prefer French toast made with white bread rather than whole wheat bread?

Sometimes richer isn’t always better. In the Orient, brown rice has been associated with poverty; it’s simpler to process. The middle and upper classes generally consume white rice because they prefer the taste and texture thereof.  But they’ve been depriving themselves of the beneficial health effects of brown rice, which contains the bran and the germ. A similar situation has held true in the West. In days of old, grist mills refined grains down to flour consisting of just the endosperm because that’s what people wanted. It was a more expensive process, so mainly just the middle and upper-income classes could afford it. Ironically that often resulted in worse health among the upper classes. Captains of ships would come down with health conditions that the sailors avoided, because the sailors were eating foods made from the less-expensive whole grain flour.

Whole grain is just that – all of the grain: the bran, germ and endosperm. Ironically, because our food processing infrastructure is tailored toward non-whole-grain foods, whole grains today are usually (but certainly not always) more expensive.

Whole-grain foods include brown rice, oatmeal, breakfast cereals containing the word “bran” in their names, buckwheat pancakes, and other foods with “whole grain” or “whole wheat” written on their labels.

So avoid the fate of the middle and upper class people of the Orient, and don’t deprive yourself of whole grain foods.

Lactose Intolerant? You’re Normal

A recent page 1 WSJ article reports on China’s efforts to expand its domestic milk production capacity. But the article has a gaping hole. Reportedly, some 95 percent of Asians above the age of five are lactose intolerant (lactose intolerance doesn’t begin until around that age). So that begs the question: Where is all this demand for milk in China coming from?

Is it coming from the 5 percent? The five-and-under crowd? Is the lactose being removed during the production process? Are people drinking milk despite their lactose intolerance, and suffering the consequences? Is it just a myth that 95 percent of Asians are lactose intolerant? Questions like these needed to be answered in the article.

At any rate, the subject of lactose tolerance is most interesting. It’s evolution in action.

To be lactose intolerant isn’t an abnormality or aberration. It’s more of an aberration to be lactose tolerant. Humans weren’t designed to drink milk beyond the toddler years.

Lactose tolerance is said to have arisen in cattle-raising societies: in Europe around 6,000 or 7,000 years ago, and in East Africa around 4,500 years ago.

A gene mutation gave some people the ability to drink cow milk without getting diarrhoea, stomach aches and other symptoms associated with lactose intolerance. Observe the following advantages of milk amid harsh living conditions:

Milk is uncontaminated by parasites, unlike stream water, making it a safer drink. Also, if those that were intolerant of lactose tried to drink the milk, they would develop diarrhoea and vomiting – this could be lethal in difficult living conditions and they could therefore die of dehydration in the most extreme cases. Another suggestion is the benefit of having a continuous supply of milk as opposed to seasonal crops – cows will give milk all year round whereas crops can only thrive at certain times in the year. Also, milk has many nourishing properties – it is high in fat and calcium, amongst other nutrients. All in all, the ability to drink milk gave some early Europeans and East Africans a big survival advantage.

That was in Europe. Some 90 percent of Danes and Swedes are lactose tolerant. The farther south you go in in Europe, the less lactose tolerance. About 50 percent of Spanish and French are said to be lactose tolerant. And according to this same source, in non-pastoral societies such as China only 1 per cent of the population are lactose tolerant.

So if you’re lactose intolerant, don’t sweat it. You’re normal. Some 60 percent of adults fall into that category. If you’re lactose tolerant, you have your cattle-raising ancestors to thank.