Upcoming presentations

Saturday, October 5th, 10.00 a.m. at the Coronado Library, The new shingles vaccine and other immunizations for adults. What you learn may save your life.

Tuesday, October 8, 1:00, OASIS Center, Grossmont Center. Avoid the annoyances of aging. Sponsored by OASIS. To register see their web site at http://www.oasisnet.org. What you think is part of the aging process may be a sign of underlying disease.

Wednesday, October 16th, 10:30 a.m. Escondido Senior Center. Body fat: all that jiggles is not the same. Sponsored by OASIS. To register see their web site at http://www.oasisnet.org

Monday, October 28th 9:30 a.m. Cal State San Marcos campus, Rm. ELB 372, Avoid the annoyances of aging. Sponsored by Osher Lifelong Learning Center. To register see their web site at http://www.csusm.edu/el/olli or call 800-500-9377.

Wednesday, October 30th, 10:00 a.m., OASIS Center, Grossmont Center. Hidden Crises, creative Cures. What is happening to the healthcare system and how we can improve it. Sponsored by OASIS. To register see their web site at http://www.oasisnet.org

In the news

Burgers – the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger. Are they ready for prime time?

Meat substitutes have been around for decades but they have never taken hold with the public, perhaps because they really don’t taste like real meat. That may be changing with the arrival of The Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger. Are they safe? Are they nutritious? Are they better than real beef? That last question might depend on how you feel about the beef industry and GMOs (which are included in the Impossible Burger but not the Beyond Burger).

They are both OK with vegans, so how do they ooze that beef-like juice? In the Impossible Burger it comes from heme that is produced in genetically modified yeast; Beyond Burger’s juice comes from beet extract. No problem with either. In spite of stuff you’ll find in the Internet, GMO foods are entirely safe.

Differences between their nutrient content and beef is not a big issue even though the Beyond Burger has no vitamins – at least at the moment. Both faux meats have more sodium and calcium than beef patties but the former is not excessive and we can get the latter from a variety of sources. Each has about 20 grams of protein in a 4-ounce patty, a little less than beef.

Expect lots of new developments in this area, including meat that is grown in the laboratory. New products are already creeping into the market and the two discussed here are likely to be modified as the market matures.

Red meat is associated with some forms of heart disease and cancer while chicken and fish are not. The angst over energy resources, pollution and cow farts has already led to a decline in the demand for beef. If someone comes up with a really tasty and nutritious burger from something other than a cow you may see a real change in the coming decade.

But will we still call it a hamburger?


Me? A Neanderthal??!!

           I got quite a surprise the other day when 23andMe reported that I have Neanderthal genes.  Not just a trace, which is not uncommon among persons of European ancestry.  It turns out that I have more Neanderthal “variants” than 96 percent of 23andMe customers! Considering that I am tall, thin and have almost no body hair that didn’t seem quite right until I read a little further: those “variants” account for less than 4 percent of my overall DNA.

The Neanderthals disappeared from the planet about 35,000 years ago and anthropologists can’t entirely agree on why. Homo sapiens (that’s the other 96 percent of me) appeared to have better tools and communication skills than the Neanderthals. Some of them probably had enough communication skills to sire offspring whose DNA can still be identified in a cheek swab.

Neanderthals were not the brutes that anthropologists of a century ago described and that you probably recognize if you still remember the comic strip character, Alley Oop. It’s clear from fossil studies that they cared for their crippled and their dead. Even their brains were bigger than ours, although probably not as complex.

I took the title of The Stone Age Doc about 25 years ago when I began writing and lecturing about how far we have drifted from our pre-Agricultural Revolution lifestyle. Little did I know where that interest came from – those genetic “variants.”











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