Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Conspiracy Theorists forward!

I wasn't sure - as this is diabetes related - as to whether to post it here or on Diabetes Daily. I decided to post it here and link from DD as being the easiest option.

Someone posted - in jest - that Diabetes was unheard of before 1947.  Actually there is documentary evidence that the early Egyptian civilisation had recognised the symptoms; they just didn't know what it was and what caused it.

That aside, the gist of the thread was whether members believed there was a conspiracy going on that was preventing a cure for the disease. The concensus was that there was no knowledgeable one, which goes to prove one thing that I maintain: there's no such thing as a conspiracy, just blatant stupidity. I'd like to invent a word here to sum it up:
Stupiracy: Stupidity that appears to be a conspiracy, but borne out of ignorance.
Yes, there is a blatant stupiracy going on here and it's all down to that wonderful ideal:- profit. Obviously a lot of this comes from pure greed, but some of it - as I've intimated - is just pure ignorance.

The nub of the matter is that the governments of the world have a serious healthcare problem building due to the increase in the incidence of diabetes, especially what they term "type 2". They are all seriously worried as to how they are going to pay for this. My simple suggestion is:
tax the convenience food manufacturer's additives, especially high fructose corn syrup
Now here's why I say this.

Let's start with the root of the problem. The actual incidence of what is erroneously called by a lot of clinicians "type 2" has escalated quite alarmingly since WWII, and it cannot be put down purely to the improvement in diagnosis of the disease: the statistics far out way this as being the only factor. So what has changed since the late 1940's?


Now some of this rise can be blamed on the lifestyle changes that our modern world has given us: we are more sedentary, the degree of manual labour has decreased, cheap powered personal travel is extensively avbailable. But you cannot put it all down to this. The price of food has dropped overall, but not in terms of the healthier alternative, and don't get me wrong, I'm not going to go all the way out the other side and blame it all on what we call "fast food". What I'm blaming is the content of fast food / junk food / convenience food call it what you will, it comes preprepared and you just stick in the microwave for five minutes..

I cannot prove this personally: I'm not a research chemist, but it cannot be coincidental that instances of diabetes have increased with the increases of cheaper additives and ingredients being put into pre-prepared food. How do I come to this unscientific conclusion?   My wife has been allergic to apples since she was a child: they give her severe abdominal discomfort and at first it was thought that it was the high level of fructose within them that caused this. We could live with this, just buy pears and other hard fruit and we'll be OK. Then I did some more research. Pears and bananas actually have (weight for weight) more fructose in them so this obviously couldn't be the entire story.

Now comes the scary part. We started to notice that certain favourite "packet" and pre- prepared foods were starting to produce the same problem as apples and at first we couldn't work it out: we read the ingredients list looking for things like apples and cider and they just weren't there. Then we noticed that one particular item (a favourite biscuit) started to produce the problem that hadn't the week before and by chance we hadn't thrown away the old empty packaging. Comparing the ingredients list we instantly noticed the difference:
"high fructose-glucose syrup".
The older version of the product contained just "glucose syrup". We checked other products: they were the same.

More digging around the inter-web revealed what might be the problem: the ratio between fructose and glucose within the food! There are three main "versions" in common use within the food industry, all different "strengths" of the same thing: They are called HFCS42, HFCS55 and HFCS90. Now the name should give you a clue.

HFCS42 has actually got more glucose than fructose in it. a ration of about 1:1.1
HFCS55 is 55% fructose and 45% glucose: a ratio of about 1.2:1
Pears are about  66% fructose and 34% glucose: a ratio of about 1.5:1
Apples are about  70% fructose and about 30% glucose: a ratio of about 2:1
HFCS90 - the most common is 90% fructose to 10% glucose : an enormous ratio of 9:1!!!

Why do they use HFCS90? Well it's a simple calculation, the sweeter something is the less you have to put in, so the less you have to spend.

How this "ratio" causes the problem is someone else's research grant - I don't have the training. All I know is that as the number of products containing HFCS has increased so the number of these products in our shopping basket has decreased!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Deja Vu or Deja Moo?

In the news today, Toyota are having engine management problems: the car's brakes don't seem to want to work sometimes. It seems I've heard this all before somewhere... way back around 1998 with the Ford Explorer and Ranger models here in the UK having cruise controls that suddenly set themselves to some ridiculously high speed and wouldn't let go of the throttle.

This is not the most worrying aspect of this "occurrence" as far as I'm concerned. What I find more worrying is the initial response from both manufacturers was exactly the same when the problems first became apparent:
"Problem? What problem? There's no problem!"
In the case of Ford, it had to take a couple of severe accidents that couldn't be attributed to either mechanical defect or "pilot error" for them to even begin to admit there was a problem, and to show how widespread that problem actually was, the recall is well over 4.5 million vehicles worldwide as of the end of 2009.

At least Toyota were willing to entertain the possibility of a problem existing or though why the customer facing parts of Toyota in both the US and UK say they knew nothing until very recently says a lot about the "never admit blame, even if it's true" culture in both countries. Come on guys, what's better; admit that you may have got it wrong or have the stigma of at least one very large lawsuit hanging over the company's profit forecast for a number of years.

As my wife often says to Customer Service departments: "Better safe than sued!"

Oh, the definition of Deja Moo: "having heard that bullshit somewhere before."

Monday, 1 February 2010

Breaking the life timer.

In the same week that one woman is cleared of murdering her daugher and another sentenced to nine years for helping to end her son's life, Sir Terry Pratchett has entered the debate over Euthanasia. For those of you who aren't familiar with Pterry's situation, he has a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer's disease which affects his communications skills: not something a talented author like him would wish for. He has called for the creation of tribunals to hear the pro's and con's for each case so that the relatives are not put in the same situation as the two women who are subjects of the news items linked to above. I will agree that there were slightly differing situations, but I cannot agree that Frances Inglis' case was wildly different from Kay Gilderdale's.

This is not the first time I have blogged on this subject: I made mention of it in September. when the case of Debbie Purdy a sufferer of MS (very similar to my own condition) came into the news.

What ever your own views, I say this: I am in agreement with the majority of people who think that this situation where someone has made the concious choice to end their lives risks putting their relatives in jail for helping them do it. In Frances Inglis' trial, the prosecution appears to have made her actions to appear malicious. I disagree the only malice shown here is by the system wishing to legally prolong the agony of a terminally ill person's life for no other reason than out-dated laws and the institutionalised mistrust of people's motives!

We do not permit the suffering of a seriously ill animal to be prolonged, why should we permit this cruelty to be exacted on our fellow humans?

Being in a somewhat similar position as Sir Terry; it may not be Alzheimer's, but it is still an incurable, degenerative disease which will eventually cripple me, I offer him,  Frances, Kay and their families my wholehearted emotional support.