Monday, 31 August 2015

Threads begin to mesh in ZOO.

Chloe is a criminal analyst  for the French Defence department who speaks umpteen languages, is an expert in world cultures is is exactly who is needed to get to the bottom of what is happening in the animal kingdom, so she is whisked to Slovenia to see the bodies from the Canine attacks in person. Playing on the freshness of the lion attacks in Botswana in her mind, Gaspard Alves demands she look into it. She proves her worth! Discerning that despite the attacks apparently happening over a sustained period, that the victims had not been missed by anyone and so had to be transient,visitors with no roots in this Slovenian town. This in itself is pretty worrying, how might a pack of dogs ever know how to pick and choose so precisely?  By picking folk who would not be found, she proposes that they are honing their skills for a bigger plan.

Jackson and Abraham are a jolly to Japan to seek out the missing pen drives, but find instead that Jackson's Husband had married again, a Japanese scientist whose plankton research drew her to  Dr   S work. She knew of his theories and realises that they must be coming to bear and so agrees to take them to the remote, highly radioactive island where he kept his final research. En route in a small plane they are besieged by bats in a swarm un naturally high and at comp,Evelyn the wrong time in the day for nocturnal creatures. Forced to make an emergency landing, crashing in the sea and losing the good doctor who would have shown them where the work was hidden.

Their arrival on the island proves unsettling as the horses they happen across are blinded.

Jamie Campbell  wants to take her findings to a Louisiana governor who might be sympathetic to their idea, but Mitch Morgan is less than convinced, he thinks that a tenuous theory is not enough to take on a huge corporation like Reiden Global. He is further discouraged when he realises that Jamie has gone rogue and that none of this has to do with a real paper article. A visit to the cemetery reveals that Jamie's Mother was the first of a cluster to 22 people to die of cancer and Reiden were in her view responsible.

On meeting with the Senator they meet resistance and he totally refuses to help. And suddenly roles reverse, Mitch offers to help but Jamie is just too defeated and just as she bows out, Mitch is approached by the shadowy Gaspard Alves.

Elsewhere Evan Lee Hartley, a prisoner about to be given the death penalty and rather fond of the apocalyptic parts of the Good Book, sees a random wolf standing out in the rain staring at the prison and surprises the warden with the decision to attempt to make amends with those he has wronged.  The victim's wife comes and he revels in telling how he mutilated him and the rest of the hunting party because they were needlessly killing animals. When wolves attack, using the  classic diversion tactic of single attack forcing the opening of the security gates so that the rest of the pack can enter unfettered and  all are killed, all that is for Evan.


Meanwhile in Tokyo, Alves brings together the disparate individuals into one cohesive team who he hopes will get to the bottom of why the animal attacks are occurring, under the overall supervision of Chloe Tousignant.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Ripper Street - Barrels, Beer and Brotherly Love!


Reid is comatose.

Bennett and Rose are continuing their affair.

Captain Homer Jackson is literally drowning his sorrows in whiskey.

Chief inspector Fred Abbeline is in despair!!!

So begins the latest instalment of the grittiest police drama on TV at present.  The first scene of the episode is one of the most violent I have seen this series and that includes Reid dashing a man's brain out against a post two episodes back! The utterly pickled Jackson witnesses a mass beating in the pub where he and his friend Reid the dead Pig have drunk enough a Whiskey to send the average bod to the hospital and he looks clammy, plain God Awful!

Local thugs ransack the pub and the area and the un shepherded boys in blue are nowhere to be seen!  A  night of violence on the streets, the wonderfully named PC Grace finds a very gruesome receptacle leaking blood demand they sort it all out immediately! 

Enter the incandescently annoyed Abelline who brings Jackson and Drake together at short shrift.

The crime this week is rather brilliant, utterly violent and totally totally unnecessary, two brothers played utterly convincingly by Sam Gittens and Billy Cook  fighting for their livelihoods and trade come completely off the rails when a misunderstanding creates a powder keg in a group of youths. 

Beer, the beverage of the masses is being imported  in from Northern Breweries because (as  Jackson discerns whilst doing post mortem) the water is softer creating a tastier brew, the  group of apprentices causing all the furore are putting pressure on publicans to stock London Ales get totally and unnecessarily out of hand, resulting in drownings in the ales in question by way of funnel and tube... The scenes are harrowing to say the least!

 The older brother wants to make good however as his troublesome cough is in actual fact consumption  and he has little time to put his  brother straight on what has occurred . The scene where all becomes clear between the siblings was sad and touching.

Elsewhere things in Bennett Drake's life are starting to unravel somewhat, his goodness as ever is fighting with what will give him happiness, he wants Rose to tell her theatre owner  fiancé the truth and to sling his hook, so a badly timed drinking session with Captain Jackson almost ends in violence, but his better nature is stronger than the demon drink and fisticuffs are avoided.

Fred is still on the search for those pesky Bearer Bonds and their true origin, of course Susan is not telling and seeing as she is the architect of Edmund's current predicament, she yet again exhibits some real front to pretend to be nurse and sanctuary when she is the one who shot him. The villain of the piece, with a beautiful flawless face.

One fly in her ointment... Reid just woke up!!

Friday, 28 August 2015

Global Animal mobilisation, scary times in second episode of ZOO

Cats have never seemed so supercilious and creepy as in the opening moments of this week's episode. The sight of them all running away en masse when animal control was called was both amusing and supremely ominous. If this is what domestic pets evoke, imagine what the real beasties will produce!

At last a global phenomenon that is actually global! Slovenia and a married couple of dubious origin ( very odd accents there chaps!) trying to amuse their prospective adoptive son decide to go to the circus. Bad idea? Methinks so...  The Tigers look about to sup that child on a water cracker. The writers do not go for the obvious here, the Tigers are not the issue. The little boy Andreas, is rather taken by the Jack Russell at the hotel where his prospective parents are staying so when the little tyke absconds with Andreas' hard won and beloved Tiger soft toy, Dad goes off in pursuit. I think it highly likely that little Andreas is semi orphaned before the ink can even dry in the papers...

Reporter Jamie's extensive researching of Reiden of course reveals lots of deeply underhanded shenanigans and naughtiness which is rather conveniently cloned from her computer whilst distracted at her door by the son of her landlady. Personally I would have gone for the soft shell crab if that was the easiest way to solve my rent arrears problem. She knows enough though to go and see her friendly (ish) animal pathologist, who to my mind is feigning  all this wry disinterest, he just does not play too well with the other kids, this is true, but I think he is loving butting heads with the lovely Jamie and he hasn't told her she is a psycho once, even in so many words,unlike her boyfriend at the paper

The affected lions have been conveniently and expeditiously destroyed so the pair hatch a plan to test another living lion for the existence of 2-4D which Jamie thinks is  the chemical compound causing all the trouble. It is thought to be  affecting neurotransmitters in animals and found in the pesticides provided by you, guessed it... Reiden Global . Mitch discerns that Jamie has more than a journalist interest in the shady goings on there and finds that she believes they " Murdered" her home town.  I immediately think class action and Erin  Brockovich at this time and imagine cancerous growths popping up all over main street, but We do not get much of an insight however into Jamie's roots  as events at the Zoo start getting a bit fraught!

The sweet lion cub they decided to do a brain scan on is decidedly difficult to sedate and appears to have higher gamma brain activity. This seems to be setting off a reaction in all the other big cats in the zoo as when they inject the cub with more sedative, all the lions voice their disapproval. It seems this little bub could  be a scientific miracle as Lions do not normally exhibit this kind of brain activity Mitch himself hypothesises that the pride may be communicating telepathically.

Abraham is found up his tree where the has been languishing as part of a Lion meat larder or do it would seem. Medical examination reveals no bite marks, just lacerations and bruising. So how did a massive black man get attacked and pulled into a tree by lions and not get bitten.. It's a mystery alright. Especially as when Abraham is treated ( by Jackson's Mother no less) he says the lions put him in the tree and then just waited and watched from a safe distance.

Jackson  proposes that  his father may have been correct that the lions are mobilising through a mutual goal, unified in one goal to teach us pesky humans a lesson and was giving us as a rac a less than veiled warning. His doctor mother is dubious and hopeful that her son is not veering down the path to delirium that her late husband had trodden, but she is forced to reconsider when she examines the bodies of the dead safari tourists.

Lions quite literally go for the throat, immobilising and killing fast, but these bodies show markedly different reasons for death. The brachial artery is cut so the deaths would have been slow and painful. Unheard of in nature for a species to change their modus operandi, she begins to put credence in her husband's claims and sends Jackson off to complete the set of USB drives that contain all the research material from his father's life long research ,a trip which will take him inexplicably to Japan.

I am really pleased the show is taking such an international take on this premise that through fair means or foul, that Animals are striking back against humanity. I am enjoying the threads of the story and think the animal scenes are truly chilling, clever cinematography  and incidental music combine to make all the four legged characters seem to know far more than we the all knowing viewer. Put it this way , I might never be able to watch silent flick " The Artist"  in the same light as after a very frightening tableau, the little bait dog sits with the little child like butter would not melt in his doggy mouth!

The introduction of shadowy strangers coming to see lion attack victim Chloe , who I am presuming us connected to Reiden somehow is widening the narrative and I cannot wait for next week!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

That Sugar Film - enlightening, shocking and maybe even life changing!!

So we had left Damon looking into the effect  that removing sugary drinks from local stores had made inroads into making the people of Amara in the Northern territories more healthy , as they are severely affected by the effects excess sugar on digestive systems unused to processed food generally, but sugars particularly.

By this point in the experiment, Damon had increased his waist measurement by 7cms. 

Damon decides to go to the obesity capital of the world- The USA .

Here to ward off his jet lag , he buys a giant juice. The size of American soft drinks cups have always astounded me, but this was a veritable bucket. It contained the equivalent juice of Had they remained in their healthy , fibre rich fruit forms there would be 4 peaches, 9 Limes, 30 lemons and 30 Strawberries, but here smoothed up into one fructose glucose cocktail of fun containing 35 teaspoons of sugar Damon now used to the high sugar diet got manic eye from just one slurp.

He first visited Kentucky home to one of the hugest coca cola vs Pepsi skirmishes. Pepsi won out with the introduction of that refreshing brew Mountain Dew  which contains massive quantities of sugar and caffeine. I believe they have changed their formulas this year, but at the time of filming they were still working with the old recipe. Damon was there to meet a mobile dentist, who attends to the damage done by Mountain Dew in rural more Kentucky, he has a number of RVs converted to dental surgeries to treat  youngsters whose teeth have been damaged by fizzy drinks. The telltale brown decay at the gum line of younger  Kentuckian residents has been  called Mountain Dew Mouth. 

Youngsters as little as three are being introduced to the drink, getting energy from the combination of sugar and caffeine in an area of poverty where nutrition advice is severely lacking. We meet a  17 year old whose tooth decay is so severe he will have to have almost all his teeth extracted and dentures given. It is shocking to see his mouth in such a state, but he equates his consumption of Mountain Dew at about 12 cans a day starting with daily consumption St about two or three. He states his aunt gave his cousin a baby bottle with Dew inside and he is up to about six cans already.

The poor lad's mouth is cautionary tale enough, but watching him cling to the arms of the chair in an attempt to assuage the pain of the work was really , really uncomfortable viewing. It see,s that adrenalin and infection is preventing the anaesthetic from working, his painkiller consumption has nullified the efficacy of the novocaine. He goes through agony but the procedure had to be halted as Dr was not willing to submit him to hours of agony. I suspect a barrel of antibiotics is required for this boy who still cannot give up the fizz despite the pain.

The problem is actually compounded by the soft drink industry trying to get optimum custom from as broad demographic as possible. The level at which sugar levels are set in a formulation to maintain maximum attraction  is called the Bliss Point, a term popularised in the Seventies by Howard Muscowitz, who employed by the makers of Dr Pepper  conducted extensive research with 61 levels of sweetness trialled in 3000 taste tests. It was shown that a certain point of sugar saturation, demand tapered off so the formulation at that optimal demand and enjoyment level was called the bliss point. The fast food industry uses it extensively in the formulation of their soft drinks making their drinks marginally sweeter but with more ice in the cup to optimise profit.They  have been known to wash their potatoes in sweetened water prior to frying to combine with salt added afterward to make them almost addictive, you eat them and crave more within half an hour.  

There are even products available from nature that enable anything to taste sweet and Damon takes the claim of the miracle berry tablet to it's extremist point and tries it against , a lemon, a chilli pepper and a sizeable shot glass full of apple cider vinegar. He claims lemon tasted of orange,the vinegar he equated to a lemonade sort of tang and  a chilli pepper lost all heat in his mouth, but it hit full throttle once the masticated pulp hit his oesophagus to quite humourous  effect as his distaste for them was evident in his voice and watering eyes .  

His liver function dropped even further.

Now Damon decided to examine the mental effect a regularly high sugar diet had on the brain. Placing him in a special kind of magnetic scanner, Damon is given a visual cue which triggers the primeval need in Humans to get quickly. This releases dopamine into the bloodstream.  Once we taste the product we are rewarded with opioid release which triggers endorphins into the brain. This high is temporary, so we hit ourselves again. The problem with using sweetness to obtain a good mood is that fructose and glucose have a tangible effect on the brain that is not good, fructose effects impulse control and glucose highs and lows affect mood.

The addictive nature of sweetness serves the sugar industry well, they push the idea that with moderation all will be well,and that people who are overweight got that way through gluttony or poor self control or are too lazy to exercise off the calories, when in actual fact, sugars as a calorie source are a whole different animal to a calorie of protein say.

Damon is eating the same (and sometimes less) than the calories he was eating in his pre experiment food intake and yet, his energy is much lessened overall, he has put on weight as fat and his appetite is rarely satiated. So the weight he has gained is not because of an imbalance in calories eaten against those burnt, as they are comparable and he has kept the same level of of intensity in his work outs.

The food industry will do everything it can to avoid a debate it seems, a symposium on obesity that stays on the beaten track of fat as the culprit and active seeks to disprove the sugar theory for example is sponsored by Coca Cola. The keynote speaker is also funded by monies from the Voke people. They serve their own interests whilst reinforcing the idea that a lazy, greedy populace is at fault for the metabolic health issues in the western world. 

We adapt to our environment or diet, the body does the best it can with what it is given, Damon knows he is not as efficient, he feels generally more fatigued all of the time and has a much shorter temper. Experts in cognitive capacity have proven that those used to a sugary diet are often cloudier of mind than those whose diets are based on other food groups, but we have been fed the idea of sweetness as a part of our lives at times of happiness, it is worth considering that 200 years  ago sweet things would not have been the mainstay of a celebration, but now every holiday seems to require sugary items in abundance, Halloween, Easter and Valentine's day being prime examples..sweet things are equated to communicating love the brain reacts in the same way as live on the brain, but imagine if your paramour gave you a bag of nuts or an avocado for Valentine's Day ? They are heart healthy after all !! 

The sight of a man shovelling a pumpkin pie into his mouth in a eating competition is disturbing on two levels, the need we have to over indulge and using food as sport when obesity is an epidemic in the USA .

The Experiment Ends

In total Damon has added 2360 teaspoons of sugar to his diet. He crams the last 40 spoons into items often found in children's lunch boxes.. 

From being -20 below the safety line for fatty liver from  the amount of ALT  hormones not the blood  to +20 putting him in the worst 10% of men within a month. His liver is fatty and leeching tissue into his blood stream. 

A fatty liver increases the risk of insulin resistance  which leads to type 2 diabetes if not addressed. In Australia , Nine people daily are subject to limb amputation through diabetes complications.

Triglycerides were elevated in his blood o.o8 to 1.5 increasing the likelihood hood ofHis small dense  LDL cholesterol which embed in arteries and form plaques.

His weight had increased by 8.5kg , a 7% rise in body fat and his waist had increased by 10cm.

His diet pyramid had completely reversed, his normal 50% from healthy fats was replaced by sugars. His calories remained stable or lower than on his normal diet. So on a diet of heart approved healthy food, he had gained a myriad of potential health problems just by adding sugars back into his diet.

Sugar is Evil!!  Know your enemy....

RECOVERY.   Giving up sugar again Damon just reverts to his old diet, he does not exercise madly or crash diet.

Week one.


Beyond week two to four.

Desire for sugar goes completely.

Two months.

Vitality returned
Skin brighter
Even moods

He just returned to his diet, out went cereal and low fat flavoured yoghurt  for breakfast in came bacon eggs and avocado

Muesli bars were swapped for nuts and cheese for snacks.

Meat ( with the fat still on) and fish and green vegetables. He lost six kilos with minimal exercise. He felt fuller and did not need to snack.

ALL his blood tests returned to normal.

It took time to adjust to flavours, but he did. He has given up all hidden sugars and reduced carbs. For those of us needing a more practical approach:

Staying within healthy bounds:

9tsps  of sugars for men  or 36g

6tsps for women  or 24g

The film was such an eye opener and I am now looking at everything I eat so carefully, I thought I was pretty good, but my wheat consumption is pretty high... Time to rethink methinks!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Damon Gameau, sugar crusader or complete loon? You decide!

Damon has set himself the rather dubious goal of eating 40 teaspoons of sugar a day for sixty days. All his doctors think he is a complete loon. He discovers that keeping to forty might be the problem. After getting a cup measure to accurately gauge the suggested serving size, he realises that one cup will not be enough to prove an  adequate  breakfast, so two and a half cups of cereal and maybe 1/4 cup of low fat fruit yoghurt and a glass of apple juice takes him up to...

Hmmm this is going to be interesting!

Stephen Fry, darling of the well spoken intelligentsia and best friend to Hugh Laurie of " House" fame recites us a lovely little poem about the sugar family so we can know our enemy. His plummy vowels give a quick breakdown and for those who are unsure, a précis of which follows.

Glucose is the sugar that fuels our brain, it is stored for energy and without it we could not live. It is found in fruits and is produced when we eat grains, bread and pasta or other carbs. A balance in glucose levels will maintain optimal brain and body efficiency.

Lactose is the first sugar any mammal comes across as we are passed it in our mother's milk and we find it in varying amounts in milks cheese and yogurt.  Again perfectly safe and healthy unless you have a tolerance issue. It is this lactose intolerance which causes dairy allergies.

Then there is the stuff which causes all the potential havoc, naughty old Sucrose which is the granulated sugar that we use in beverages, in baking and is the stuff "hidden" in foods that it seems we just cannot avoid in 80% of the food and drink found on our supermarket shelves. The problem is the body breaks it down into two components, lovely friendly glucose and infiltrator fructose that is it seems the real villain of the piece. It is found naturally in fruits, vegetables and honey, maple syrup and new kid on the block, agave nectar.

You see back in our formative years as hunter gatherers, it was a primal instinct to eat sweet things wherever we might find them, so berries, hips and fruits were precious but relatively rare commodities. That see and take mentality has travelled through time with us , hard wired into our brains but now where ancient humanity was able to deal with the small amounts of fructose in their diet, the free access to food with little or no effort to obtain it has skewed our ability to process the fructose elements of our diets.

massive problem in modern nutrition is the prevalence of beverages, from fruit juice, to smoothies, pop and fortified waters, we are consuming massive amounts of sugar, both naturally occurring and artificially added. Many of these beverages are marketed as healthy options, particularly the juices and smoothies.

The doctors were right to be concerned! In twelve days Damon's weight increased to 79.3 kilos a rise of 3.3 kilos ( 1 kilogram is 2.204 pounds) and this it seems is mainly due to variety of different beverages he drinks. Remember  though that he is allowed no fizzy drinks such as cola or the other nasties on which all obesity is blamed.  To remain in compliance with the protocol, his diet has to comprise only the perceived healthy and low fat options available.  

What is more alarming to the doctors lookin after his general well being is the marked way this additional weight has accumulated on the stomach. This visceral fat is what is thought to help cause all the health issues associated with weight, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Damon decides to show his consumption in a more tangible way. 

The sight of him ingesting plain weetabix with no milk and spoon after spoon of granulated sugar and a tub of Greek yoghurt liberally sprinkled in sugar for his frozen yoghurt snack cup was bad enough, but to watch him simulating the sugar content in half a package of teriyaki sauce by sprinkling it on his chicken breast and sprinkling teaspoon after teaspoon into his water for the sports drink he was replacing was just plain revolting.. Watching a man sandwich sugar lumps between two water biscuits, literally took the biscuit.

"I’ve got to say, the chicken  was surprisingly delicious, but the water cracker sandwich was know, those crackers are made for delicate French cheeses; they’re not made for dry sugar cubes. That was probably the most disgusting. I had a moment there [where I thought], What am I doing? Funnily enough, that’s one of the most powerful things to people, especially, because they can really see it. That’s what we’re doing! We’d never [eat this much sugar on a cracker] for real, but we’re quite happy to do it once it’s dressed up and cleverly marketed in a package to us. But it’s no different."

If the film had stopped here I would have been utterly convinced of the error of allowing sugars from cane or beet into my diet at all. Damon however soldiers on.

At eighteen days, his blood results show something very alarming, the level of an enzyme called ALT was found to be present. It should not have been there , the fact that it was was evidence that his liver was damaged and has already become fatty. In eighteen days!

So here Damon showed us just how sugars are dealt with by the body. The food we eat is merrily turned into glucose and fructose. The glucose is needed for energy in the cells and brain do insulin is released, acting like a sabre it slices open the cells to allow the glucose to be absorbed. However the body has no method to deal with fructose as, as we have established ;evolution had no need to process fructose at the rate we ingest it. It is thus straight away turned into fat. And the fat and the glucose travels on towards the liver where fats are digested by bile, but the problem is if there is too much sugar in the bloodstream the insulin in the system prevents proper metabolism of the fats and they are turned into triglycerides which cause fatty deposits and plaque. The more insulin pumped out to deal with excess sugars, the less fats are removed and the more clogged we become internally , resulting in the issues that result in strokes and heart attack and the fatty deposits around vital organs. It is also thought to contribute to  cancer, the rise in the  disease made famous by the Tudor age of excess, Gout  which  often results in painful crystallisation in the extremities and even  is thought to contribute to Alzheimer's rates.

The effect on Damon is also more mental too, he is suffering massive mood swings, sudden clarity on eating something sweet, a manic stage and then forty five minutes or so later a drop in energy acuity and emotional state. Doctors liken this to the similar symptoms of Bi Polar Disorder.

Damon decides to widen the scope of the experiment and examine the effect of high sugar consumption on the indigenous people of the northern territories. Coca Cola estimated that their biggest consumer per capita of Coke was in this area of Australia, two or three generations ago the people of  the aboriginal tribes here would have been hunter gatherers, much akin to our own ancestors. It was estimated that two pieces of candy would equal the full exposure the average person had to sweet things in a year. They lived on a high protein diet supplemented by roots and other plants

This is brilliantly demonstrated by the community of Amata, a dry community  with no alcohol allowed and with a high mortality rate in the Middle Ages within the last forty years. 

Where before they were reliant on bush tucker for their nutrition,with little or no need for " the White Fella's " food, now people live almost entirely on food from the store. The extraordinary rate of liver disease  and diabetes here meant that dialysis is often the only treatment of chronic conditions .Life expectancy for adult men is about 20 years less than for the non-Indigenous population, and between 15 and 17 years for women, which is largely blamed on high rates of chronic illness.

In 2008, the Amata Community Council ordered the local store to stop selling soft drinks and energy drinks with high sugar levels.  Amata population 422, is located on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in the far north-west of South Australia.It's estimated the annual consumption of high-sugar drinks was about $193,000 in sales, or 43,000 litres. That equates to around 4.3 tonnes of sugar.

The move was part of the Mai Wiru (Good Food) Regional Stores Policy, which was designed to help adults achieve a balanced diet, with flow-on effects for foetal and child health development.
It seems they were very successful in halting the advance of sicknesses borne of poor diet, but then in 2013 the Government withdrew a large portion of the funding and people are beginning to slide backwards as there is no nutritionist to advise them.

Join me tomorrow for the resolution to the crazy experiment

If you missed the first instalment discussing the findings in the movie, " That Sugar film" it was posted yesterday.

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