Tag Archives: cured meats

NFL17 Pre-Play: Cannabis, Chronic Player Pain and a National Conundrum

6 Jul

Mention marijuana (cannabis) to most NFL players and you’re likely to get a positive response, no pun intended.

Classified a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act, based largely on marijuana’s psychoactive cannabinoid, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) (One of over 100 canabinoids, including the non-mood-altering cannabidiol (CBD) (Got your fill of biology yet?)) and the Act’s belief in that property’s serious risk for abuse, pot’s possession, sale and / or use are still prosecuted as a criminal offense in twenty-three states, nineteen more (42) if it is possessed outside of prescribed, medicinal usage.

Even so, as an agent for pain-management and escapism, cannabis, whether obtained legally or otherwise, appears to be the drug of choice amongst enough of the NFLPA membership to have spurred Dallas Cowboys’ owner and sport celebrity Jerry Jones to advocate for its allowance while speaking at the owner’s meeting in Phoenix last March.

Currently only eight states have decriminalized ganja for market sale, one of those being Cali-for-ni-a (‘99), the most recent, Nevada, and another twenty-one by prescription only. And don’t expect the former number to grow much beyond the single-digit state (no pun) anytime soon.

Even so, gone forever are the days where tokers took their only solace-in-smoke (or weed-eating, i.e., brownies) by way of High Times and the NORMAL newsletter. Business is booming for Hemp, Incorporated.

Yet, here-to-stay is marijuana’s well-earned status as a gateway drug, not just leading to stronger, more addictive varieties like narcotics, opiods, peer poisons in alcohol and cigarettes, but when engaged in youth can quickly open the door to a whole new lifestyle and not necessarily a better one. It’s one that is non-conforming to a fault while draining enthusiasm or ambition to a low level found in your forlorn basset hound. Been there, done it, woof, woof.

That status was bolstered somewhat on recent release by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s broadest study as yet conducted on cannabis – cannabinoids and their health effects on humanoids.

In January (1.17) the NA released its 468 page report* compiled from human subject studies for findings on the “health effects of recreational and therapeutic cannabis use” and that of its elemental cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc.).

With a focus in this write on health issues most pertinent to NFL players and their employers stemming (no pun) from the marijuana issue, there was both good news and bad news to be gleaned from the lengthy report.

The good news is that “there is substantial evidence (p.90)” cannibas can be a beneficial agent in treating chronic pain, a malady concomitant with those who engage athletics over an extended period of years.

The bad news: 1) Marijuana is still a gateway drug; 2) pot can be addictive (“problem cannabis use (333)”), especially as a teen and 3) regular use of cannabis is associated with risks of schizophrenia (“substantial (295)”), bipolar disorder (“moderate (307)”), suicide (“moderate (314)”), memory loss (“moderate evidence of…association between acute cannabis use and impairment in the cognitive domains of learning, memory and attention (275)”), anxiety (“moderate evidence daily cannabis use is associated with increased anxiety (119 / 318)”) and social phobia disorder (“heavy use (120)).”

It’s a mixed bag. The bottom-line: If in chemotherapy (nausea) or afflicted with multiple sclerosis (spasticity), the “conclusive” findings (94 / 103) tilt your risk-benefit balance in favor of marijuana’s use (“oral cannabinoids”) to alleviate suffering, assuming you’ve had your prof’l consult and sorted through the national hodge-podge of legalese. In those more serious, harder to treat medical conditions, cannabis is a proven therapy for relief, and that alone is reason for re-examination of its rather draconian federal categorizing.

But where paid athletes seeking a marijuana solution for chronic pain are subject, a state so common in their bruising professions, whether by smoke or extracts (oral), the risks posed appear too great in the benefit balance, risks arising from uneven permissibility (legality) and, more importantly, from the potential for memory decline, that very same malady central to the ongoing concussion debate that plagues hard-hitting sports like football, hockey and boxing. That’s an irony that hits like Bobby Wagner: Ouch!

And when there exists effective alternatives readily available to pain-sufferers in nutrition supplements (tart cherry & noni juice, magnesium, Co-Q10, curcumin, polyphenolic-antioxidents, Bs, D3, alpha lipoic), diet adjustments ((-) gluten, sugar, cured meats) and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, naproxen)), the so-called marijuana answer to pain management, not without its merits, proves too risky to fire-up or wash-down.

Even as the mental health and cognitive findings on pot’s use and “sustained abstinence (275)” were not based on “conclusive” or “substantial” evidentiary finding (Box S-3, “Weight-of-Evidence” standards (p.7)), it’s doubtful additional NA compilations on the polarizing weed, even with gold standard double-blind placebo controlled structures sought, will reveal the opposite to be true, that memory or bipolar – anxiety disorders are improved with its habitual use.

And keep in mind that whenever federal and state governments are at odds over a national issue of legislation, leading to a broad non-uniformity, that status will trigger Commerce and Supremacy clause inquiries and then eventually end up on the Supreme Court’s docket. So don’t vest too heavily yet.

Marijuana is here to stay, legal or illegal, medicinal or diversionary. And like it or not, Charles Barkley, pro athletes are role models to the nation’s youth. Fire up the bong and make it a public issue with lifestyle or league violations and that segment of the population least able to manage the drug properly will have their lives changed forever in health risks and bad habits.

In 2015 the League (Goodell) and NFLPA (Smith) went all namby-pamby in raising, under their collectively bargained drug policy, the level of marijuana required in test to trigger a violation, essentially telling players and the public that using what is still fairly characterized as an illicit drug is A-okay with them, because lots of the using players want it that way, even as its continued use is also fairly characterized as detrimental to their health. So there’s that.

— — —

This writer is not medically-trained (I was, as George Segal’s character “Mr. Kovacs” termed it in The Cable Guy (96), “on the pot” in my late teens, alcohol and smokes included, of course) and did not read the entire 468 page report, instead focusing on those sections most relevant to NFL player concerns. But I wrote with honesty and thoroughness befitting an 1100 word blog. For the lay-person the report is readable, somewhat unclear in spots but overall helpful by informing on a very broad and still yet under-researched subject.

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: marijuana-joint, wc.cca, T.Hansen, 2.23.08; marijuana-costume, SCCE, 10.16.16, wc, G.Skidmore; marijuana-plant, J.Martin, wc, 7.14.15; marijuana-neon, wc, SanFernando-Valley, LA-CA, L.Avocado; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 7.6.17 @ 1:03p EST, edit 7.7; Copyright © 2017
*References: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine: http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/reports/2017/health-effects-of-cannabis-and-cannabinoids.aspx

McDonald’s: Sorry French Fries, Love’s Not Enough

21 May

Caesarian appetite

All roads lead to our gut, esophageal and metaphysical both.

Our stomach is the coliseum of calories, the place where sugar, fat, carbs and protein all do battle but ultimately succumb to those rippling, duty-bound digestive enzymes to give our body & mind all it needs and more, much more.

El Gastro Gestalt is capital city of our conscious and unconscious minds both.

It’s been that way ever since the Allies crushed the Axis and victors re-directed all that industrious, inventive spirit in armament assembly into the peacetime production of food stuffs on a mass scale the world had never before seen.

While opposite economic ideologies (capitalism v communism) became basis for continued conflict in bullets, A-bomb building & bivouacs (Korea, Indochina, Cuba), the war on hunger became the 2d theater of battle, fighting for the freedom to eat, eat more and then eat again.

.......McDonalds.Arch.thm.3.22.6.R.Sinn.wc.TorontoAfter 70 years of bridge building, base construction and salvos of savory & sweet treats fired off by McDonald’s, Nestlé, ADM, Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo and Yum!, those who write the history of the Hunger War will record that hearts & minds were won over, completely, like the slurp sound found at the bottom of a small shake.

Mission accomplished: The world is addicted to eating.

(Regarding that Axis thing, a small cell was brought back to life in some demonic deed at, of all places, Disney (ESPN), in some joker’s idea to work a motif on, of all things, camera angle. Even the colors have a Third Reichian feel. Gadgetry goofs. Ugh. Walt’s gotta’ be spinning in his grave: ‘I just wanted to make a place for fun (and a little loot to boot)!’ We know, Walt, we know.)

From sun-up to sundown the gobble & guzzle direct much of our day.

A line in a Roger Corman flick, of all mediums, summed up well the power of the emerging super salivary state (X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes (‘63)):

Dr. Xavier (Ray Milland): “Is that what you think (that I’m a fraud)?”
Carnie Mom: “I don’t think, I just eat!”

Or these nuggets from the gold-mine that was The King of Queens:

Carrie: “Doug, you once told me you only play poker because it adds excitement to your eating!” Doug: “Well excuse me for embracing life!”

Carrie: “Look, there’s a special on mahi-mahi, you’d like it, tastes just like steak.” Doug (“Sir-Eats-Alot”): I’ll get excited when there’s fish that tastes like Doritos.”

.......McDonalds.QP.wc.9.19.6.F.Saalfeld.thmSometimes it’s the salty urge that draws us in (moi). Others it’s sweet. Nearly always it’s pre-packaged by something or someone else hundreds of miles away who add in only god or a chemist knows what.

Eating is of course a basic need for life, going back to Adam & Eve, the Leakey sloth or Ancient Aliens experiment #1, depending in which school-of-thought you matriculate.

After out-foxing toothier beasts, then fashioning shelter from the elements, eating has been our #1 worry for 99.99999% of our time on this “spinning world.” But while that effort consumed much of the day’s time, the haul was generally compatible and nurturing to our physical and emotional well-being.

Fibrous fruits & vegetables, nuts & seeds, formerly diet mainstays, grown or gathered near home or bought locally for soon-day consumption are still favorites but for only a comparative handful: 1000 to 1.

Seek and you shall find

‘We are what we eat (Brillat-Savarin).’ In 2016 we’re just a bunch of trans-fatties, filled-to-the-gills with triglycerides, traces of barnyard hormones & antibiotics, quarts of high fructose corn syrup, shakers of salt and enough genetically-modified organisms (GMO (corn)), hot (aldehydes) & hydrogenated oils and gluten (wheat) in a year’s consumption to fill a Honda Civic, sans a CD-player.

.......McDonalds.Tokyo.JPN.wc.9.21.4.thm.A.FucitoUnless a maker clearly states on their product it’s organic or gluten-free (See; USDA labeling standards), you can assume you’re getting the whole toxic treatment.

I’ve singled-out McDonald’s but could just as easily have listed Burger King, Kellogg’s, Olive Garden, Taco Bell, Appleby’s, Frito Lay, Cracker Barrel, Hillshire Brands, General Mills, Smithfield, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Mars or any other major player in production or delivery of processed / prepared food stuffs, confectionaries or beverages. Mickey D’s just happens to be the first, the biggest and most recognized of the drive-in joints, a cultural icon in eatery consumerism. The Oak Brook, Illinois-based restaurant also happens to be my favorite when indulging the desire for a fast fill-up.

Ray Kroc’s burger baby was my first family fast-food experience.

Choices were limited in the 60s but we didn’t complain. Returning from a trip or to give Mom a break, we’d pack the Ford station wagon, all eight of us, Dad took the orders, walked inside (no seating then) and returned with cardboard holders in drinks and eats. No Big Macs, Quarter-Pounders, salads, chicken things, McMuffins, just the basics: Single-patty burger, chocolate or vanilla shakes, Coke and fries in one size so small you could’ve fit it in your shirt pocket.

.....McDonalds.Bangkok.5.9.6.E.Molina.thm.wcAnd in that last fun fact (fries) lay Big Issue #2, after the uh-oh ingredients (See; Above), serving size. We eat too much in 2016 by portioning too big.

Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 documentary Super Size Me put the quantity issue right under our noses, tabbing McDonald’s as the fast-food format-doormat.

It’s not easy guarding the gate to our mouth. Our needs must do battle daily, and nightly, with desires that are shaped by marvelous marketing, tantalizing, permanently impressionable tastes and professional placement of product line in grocery aisle and on highway signage.

Insatiable appetite

Our bodies and brains have no natural inclination towards sugar and carbohydrates. But the palate-pleasers developed by food chemists post-World War 2, indoctrinating us from the time we exit the womb, make our mouths sing for “♫ more, more, mooooore (ATC (‘76)) ♫.” One taste and you’re hooked, or, in the nomenclature, it’s love at first bite.

......McDonalds.brd.wc.thm.Kici.2.4.7.JapanKey players in the fixation: Hydrogenated trans-fats that came onto market in the 1950s, followed by high fructose corn syrup (Clinton Corn Processing and Japan‘s AIST (Takasaki)), first in drinks (70s), now in pretty much in anything that’s processed & packaged.

If you don’t think food is addictive like cigarettes or alcohol, try going off the sweet, savory and wheat-based staples for a week and see how you fare. You’ll be climbing the walls and kicking the family pet if you’re not careful.

We’re not helpless creatures. Will power, lack thereof, plays a role in our oral fixations and face-stuffing routines. But science & psychology play their part.

Food stuffs are packaged with artful, eye-catching flair, labeled in accordance w/USDA but free to finesse (One of the FDA’s sorry-standards: If a food item has trans-fat < 0.4 gram it need not be listed on said label. “Tanks fur nuttin (“Maggie (Caddyshack (‘80)”)!’”). Once the goods hit the grocery or restaurant chain, the strategy-in-placement, whether on shelf & aisle or street location will take command and push a Pavlovian response if you’re hungry or just think so.

......McDonalds.Israel.wc.2.7.7.Ingsoc.thm.AshqelonWriting as one of those dutiful dogs in dining I can say it’s been alot of fun. Many a tasty, convenient and filling meals have passed these lips. I wouldn’t say inexpensive fun but then convenience does exact a price.

But now some of us are making discoveries about the food and beverages we consume, deciding to break the cycle of addiction. It’s not easy. Making a life change never is.

Spurlock & Co. did a public service, for profit, with their documentary, focusing on the most conspicuous health harm associated with a steady diet in processed – prepared food (weight gain), and a subject most easily solicitous of chuckles.

But there are many potential serious health risks associated with a daily diet in prepared-food that are not directly associated with the scale, i.e., obesity.

Ingesting a mere 1 gram of trans fat, easy to do with federal labeling loophole (< 0.4 gram), found in most pre-packaged, processed food items, can take days to process out of the body. That hidden harm can then potentially be the build-up and tipping point for the bad event: Myocardial infarction, i.e., heart attack.

......McDonalds.kiosk.10.28.5.Shizhao.Shanghai.thmAnd don’t expect government to push the food court to find healthier means to feed the world. Understanding that legislators and agency folk work on a quid pro quo basis and are generally captured in 2016 by those they’re entrusted to regulate, the task of getting lots o’ food to the masses, as laden with undesirables as it would seem, has become the only political mandate on the eat-issue.

And it is that same mentality that drove the message behind Soylent Green (Stan Greenberg & Harry Harrison (‘73)): When the sea is farmed-out, the people keep multiplying fruitfully, terra firma loses that precious top soil and pollutants take their toll, you find protein wherever you can. Eek.

♫ Breaking Up Is Hard to Do ♫

Here then are the interlopers in processed food stuffs, those unseemly sorts who were given a key to the place and drove a wedge between health-wise consumers and their former steady (McDonald‘s, etc.), leading the jilted to bid adieu.

......Coke.bubbles.Spiff.wc.thmSugar-based beverages (high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and sucrose (table sugar) – dextrose mixture)

Flavoring soda pop and other heavily sweetened drinks, sugars regular consumption can lead to insulin resistence, glucose intolerance and metabolic syndrome (diabetes). The neuro-degenerative disorder Alzheimer’s disease is now sometimes being referred to as diabetes of the brain.

Gluten-based bread and emulsifiers

Wheat-protein containing a difficult to digest amino acid is in the bread that houses those hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwiches. Like trans-fat, it will turn to add-on weight, i.e., love handles, and celiac disease in more serious cases.

Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs)

The research is ongoing about these engineered foods and the human health risks, short and long-term, are largely unknown which means the safety picture on such altered foods remains blurred. No labeling required in the USA.

Cured or adulterated meats

Taking the form of bacon, sausage, jerky and the like, they are believed to have a possible casual connection to heart disease and some cancers.

......McDonalds.fries.Kici.Japan.10.14.06.thmReheated cooking oils

Burgers are boss at McDonald’s but the fries are its calling card. Best in the biz. The cooking oil can be harmful beyond the unhealthy fats. If reheated enough it will create toxic chemicals called aldehydes that collect in the brain and are being linked to neurodegenerative disorders (dementia / Alzheimer’s) and advanced glycation end-products (free radicals) associated with diabetes. Crazy love.

Chemically treated salad greens, vegetables and wheat – corn products

Unless plant parts are identified as organically grown it’s a strong chance they’ve been prepared with any number of chemicals that rinsing will not entirely wash clean. These man-made molecules kill the pests but do no good inside the body.

Antibiotics and hormones in livestock and feed

The livestock that account for most of the processed meals will often receive growth-hormone and drug treatments to fight illness, some that can add considerable bulk to the beast. Humans don’t need animal pharmacology.

Trans-fats and hydrogenated oils

Safflower and cottonseed oil (omega-6) are some of the bad boys that find their way into most processed foods because they emulsify and make it taste good. But these bad fats (good fats include omega-3 (fish oil) and omega-9s (olive oils) are key contributors to heart disease.

We wouldn’t let “Joe Camel” sell cigarettes to kids, why would we let Kellogg’s, KFC, PepsiCo and Kraft sell them on a possible pathway to increased risk for diabetes, heart disease (inflammation & oxidation) and maybe even some cancers as well (immunity deficiency)? Ask your friendly neighborhood legislator, soon.

......McDonalds.Sydney.Sardaka.11.5.12.wc.thmWhen Russ Westbrook (Mt-Dew), LeBron James, Bryce Harper and Cam Newton (Gatorade) pitch for PepsiCo and their sugar-based drinks, whether HFCS or the sucrose – dextrose mix, is selling the sweet drinks much different than when John Wayne, Joe DiMaggio and dozens of other stars shilled for the tobacco companies throughout a good part of the prior century? Government’s “strange inconsistency” in regulation may be explained in that there is no 2d-hand heart disease and diabetes can sometimes be manageable (ugh). But cancer is cancer, folks, in all of its deadly forms.

The food conglomerates’ have a good defense: ‘We feed the world,’ a planet with its ever-growing population, no longer checked by world war or global plagues. And with a world-wide energy crisis looming as oil reserves continue to dwindle and alternatives not yet a reality, healthiest foods may become a moot point.

Truth be told, because organic and gluten-free choices are not always available in stores & restaurants, because old habits die hard and one must treat themselves to the emulsified flavors that please the palate so well, my wife and I do continue to purchase some processed foods & beverages for home consumption and travel especially, with digestive supplement (Tolerase®) and handy.

Ultimately, responsibility will rest on the shoulders of every person, parent – guardian where children and dependents are concerned (It‘s never too late to start a healthier lifestyle) and their medical professional to better educate themselves on choices in diet and related habits like exercise, cessations (big portions / excess drink / smoking), stress reduction and supplementation.

Go to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed and read for yourself what experts are publishing about their findings on the food we eat and who we really are.

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
MacroSport
Photo credits: BigMac, 2.4.7, Kici, Japan, wc.cca; McDonalds-Arch, 3.22.6, wc.cca, Toronto, R.Sinn; QuarterPounder, wc.cca, Saalfeld, 8.19.6; McDonald’s-Tokyo, wc.cca, JPN, 9.21.4, A.Fucito; McDonalds-Bangkok, wc.cca, 5.9.6, E.Molina; McDonalds-burger, Kici, 2.4.7, wc.cca, Japan; McDonald’s-Israel, wc.cca, Ingsoc, 2.7.7, Ashqelon; McDonalds-Kiosk, 10.28.5, Shanghai, Shizhao; Coke, bubbles, Spiff, wc; McDonalds-fries, Kici, 10.14.6, Japan; McDonalds-Sydney, Sardaka, wc.cca, 11.5.12; macroecono-lamcasinoroyal, 2011, wc.cca.
Posted: 5.21.16 @ 2:43pm, edit 11:59 EST; Copyright © 2016
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