Category Archives: HEALTH


How the Body Uses Energy

RunnersThose of us who are involved in sports – athletes, coaches and those who work with athletes – understand the importance of fueling the body to maximize energy and performance. It also helps to understand how the body converts energy so that healthy strategies can be used to improve athletic performance.

The fundamental law of energy

The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created, but must be transferred or converted from one form to another. Like an automobile only runs on gasoline, the human body runs on only one kind of energy: chemical energy. More specifically, the body can use only one specific form of chemical energy, or fuel, to do biological work – adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

ATP – the gas in the tank

So, how does the human body make ATP, the only fuel it can convert to energy? Our bodies have three different chemical systems that convert energy. Most everyone knows that we use proteins, carbohydrates and fats for energy. Calories are measurement of a unit of heat or food energy. For example, we can achieve four calories per gram of proteins and carbohydrates, and nine calories per gram from fats.

But how do we convert these potential energy substances into ATP?  This is where three energy systems come into play.

Energy System 1: Ready fuel for immediate energy

The Immediate Energy system, or ATP-PC, is the system the body uses to generate immediate energy. The energy source, phosphocreatine (PC), is stored within the tissues of the body. When exercise is done and energy is expended, PC is used to replenish ATP. Basically, the PC functions like a reserve to help rebuild ATP in an almost instantaneous manner.

So, in the quadriceps and hamstring muscle groups of an average athlete, a specific quantity of ATP and PC stored within the muscle. These stored substrates are ready and waiting to be chemically transformed to fuel biological work process – such as contracting a muscle. This system gives athletes a readily available store of energy which can be accessed without delay.

What’s the downside?

The average athlete will have approximately 285 grams of stored ATP in his or her entire body. That amount of ATP will be consumed in a just few seconds of work. At any time, athletes have only about 10 seconds worth of ATP-PC.

A supplement called creatine monohydrate that can increase the amount of PC stored in the muscles. It is one of the most researched ergogenic aids available and it does work. However, it can cause muscle cramps and it is not recommended for use during hot weather.

Energy System 2: Glucose-fueled quick energy

The glycolytic system, sometimes called anaerobic glycolysis, is a series of ten enzyme-controlled reactions that utilize carbohydrates to produce ATP and pyruvate as end products.

Glycolysis is the breakdown of glucose. Technically, glycolysis can use glucose or glycogen in its chemical reactions. The glucose must enter the cell membrane to begin the process. Upon entering the cell, the glucose will begin a transformation that will produce a net of two ATP and two pyruvate molecules. These 10 reactions occur very rapidly. Glycolysis is the preferred energy system by the human body when any sort of exercise work is required. The process is fast, there is generally plenty of glucose available and the reactions can occur anywhere within the cell’s sarcoplasm.

What’s the downside?

Two problems exist with glycolysis. First, only two ATP molecules are produced for each molecule of glucose used in the process. Glucose starts out with six carbons in its structure. In chemical energy, carbons are potential energy – in other words, potential ATP.  In chemical terms, that is a waste of potential energy.

Second, the two pyruvate molecules created in the very last reaction have two possible pathways. They can be converted into lactate (lactic acid), or they can be carried into the third energy system and continue to produce ATP.

Aerobic fitness reduces lactate production in glycolysis

What actually happens to the pyruvate depends upon several factors – primarily how “aerobically” fit is the athlete, and the degree of work intensity. The lower the relative work intensity and the higher the athlete’s aerobic fitness, the less lactate that will be produced.

Conversely, the more the body uses glycolysis to produce ATP, the more lactate will be produced with it. As most athletes know, a high level of blood lactate does not help sports performance.

How to use glycolysis

Generally, glycolysis takes a few seconds to start running and can be utilized for up to approximately two minutes. A classic example is one lap around a 400-meter track. The average athlete will start out super fast, cruise the middle 200, and then crawl across the finish line.

From an energy system perspective, Energy System 1 fuels the athlete’s first three or four steps, and then glycolysis takes control to produce ATP. By the time the 400 meters is finished, so is glycolysis.

Energy System 3: Long-lasting aerobic energy

The Aerobic System resides within a specific organelle of the body’s cells. This specific organelle is the mitochondria – the “power house of the cell.” That is precisely true.  The bulk of the ATP produced by the human body comes from the mitochondria. Therefore, the bulk of the ATP produced is via “aerobic” processes.

The first two energy systems are anaerobic, meaning they do not require oxygen. The aerobic energy system must have oxygen or the entire process will slow down and potentially stop completely. The oxygen needed by this system is provided by the cardiovascular and respiratory systems via blood flow to the tissues.

Where the rubber meets the road

The aerobic energy system is where we utilize all three of our fuel sources. It is within this system that carbohydrates, fats and proteins may be processed in order to produce ATP. Carbohydrates come through the glycolytic system, producing pyruvate that proceeds into the aerobic system.

The use of proteins and fats is a little more complicated. Proteins must go through a process whereby the nitrogen components are removed. Basically, the protein is changed into its separate amino acids, and the “amino” part is stripped or changed. What is left is simply a carbon molecule that can be processed in either the glycolytic or aerobic systems.

Fats travel around the body in the form of a triglyceride in the blood. Before a fat can be used in the aerobic system, the triglyceride must be broken into its respective pieces, glycerol and fatty acids. Both of these contain carbon molecules that can be used to produce ATP. Glycerol enters through the glycolysis pathways. Fatty acids enter the mitochondria and go through a process called Beta-oxidation. This process requires many chemical reactions, time, and oxygen. Yes, oxygen is needed at two different stages of Beta-oxidation.

Optimal cardiovascular condition

So, an athlete needs a very well developed cardiovascular system to provide the oxygen for all of this to occur. The aerobic system takes anywhere from one to three minutes to get up and fully running when we begin to exercise. The speed and efficiency of the aerobic system is directly related to the athlete’s aerobic conditioning. This system is capable of providing ATP for extended periods of time. If the intensity is not too high, an athlete may use this system for hours and hours of work, as in a marathon or IRONMAN triathlon.

Energy replenishment and recovery

The aerobic system helps to replenish and recover the first two energy systems. It is this system that helps to clear out the lactate produced from glycolysis and to rebuild the stored ATP and PC needed for the Immediate Energy system.  Most team sports are anaerobic in nature.  However, all team sport athletes need at least a moderate amount of aerobic conditioning so their aerobic system can provide recovery for the anaerobic systems.  It is usually fairly easy to see which team sport athletes do not have the best aerobic conditioning!  They will be the ones bent over with their hands on their knees between each play on the football field!

Training the body’s energy systems for optimal performance

The three energy systems can be improved by training. What that means is vastly different for each system, but each energy system is just as trainable as your quadriceps and hamstrings by doing squats.

When athletes train, we do basically three things:Energy Graph

  1. Develop muscles to provide more force and/or more efficient use of force
  2. Train motor and muscle skill patterns to more effectively execute a sports skill
  3. Train energy systems to be more effective and efficient at producing ATP

Each of our energy systems provides ATP in a very specific time and intensity range.  In order to train these systems, you need to work within these time and intensity ranges.

Immediate energy system

For example, a training session with the goal of improving the Immediate Energy System would utilize short explosive movements or exercises. A series of repeated maximal vertical jumps or short sprints would be an excellent way to “stress” the first energy system.

Short-term energy system

Likewise, a training session with a goal to train the Glycolytic System would require a longer session of work but still at a very high intensity level. The 400 meter sprint is a good example.  Running intervals on the track or football field is a great way to tax the Glycolytic System.

Long-term energy system

To train the Aerobic System, an athlete needs to do steady-state work for a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes. Generally, aerobic work occurs in the range of 65 – 85 percent of VO2max. Perform this aerobic work at least four days per week for optimal benefits.

This has been a look at the body’s energy systems, through the eyes of an exercise physiologist. I would argue that when sports performance is at stake, training your energy systems is just as important as how much weight you can bench press or how high you can vertical jump.


Fat for Fuel: Why Dietary Fat, Not Glucose, Is the Preferred Body Fuel

August 10, 2012 | 412,395 views

Foods with Fructose

Story at-a-glance

  • Contrary to popular belief, glucose is NOT the preferred fuel of human metabolism; the fact is that burning dietary fat for fuel may actually be the key to optimal health
  • Carbohydrate intake is the primary factor that determines your body’s fat ratio, and processed grains and sugars (particularly fructose) are the primary culprits behind our skyrocketing obesity and diabetes rates
  • According to experts, carbs should make up only 20 percent of your diet, while 50-70 percent of your diet should be healthy fats. Fat is far more satiating than carbs, so if you have cut down on carbs and feel ravenous, this is a sign that you need more healthy fat to burn for fuel

By Dr. Mercola

While we may consider ourselves to be at the pinnacle of human development, our modern food manufacturing processes have utterly failed at improving health and increasing longevity.

During the Paleolithic period, many thousands of years ago, our ancestors ate primarily vegetables, fruit, nuts, roots and meat—and a wide variety of it. This diet was high in fats and protein, and low in grain- and sugar-derived carbohydrates.

The average person’s diet today, on the other hand, is the complete opposite, and the average person’s health is a testament of what happens when you adhere to a faulty diet. Humans today suffer more chronic and debilitating diseases than ever before.

And there can be little doubt that our food choices play a major role in this development. Quite simply, you were not designed to eat large amounts of refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cereal, bread, potatoes and pasteurized milk products.

As Mark Sisson states in the featured article:1

“If you want to live a better life and eat the best foods nature provided for health and fitness, then it’s time to ditch the old paradigms and climb on to the primal approach to eating better.”

Why Is Fat for Fuel Preferred?

The notion that glucose is the preferred fuel for your body is a pervasive one. Everyone from diabetics to top athletes are advised to make sure they eat “enough” carbs to keep their systems from crashing. This is unfortunate, as this misguided advice is at the very heart of many of our current health failures.

As Mark so succinctly spells out in his article, fat for fuel is actually preferred for human metabolism, and this can be traced back to our evolutionary roots.

Historically speaking, carbohydrate intake has always been quite low. Likewise, the diseases we now know are associated with insulin resistance—which is primarily caused by excess consumption of refined carbs—have been quite rare.

The evidence is both clear and overwhelming: Carbohydrate intake is the primary factor that determines your body’s fat ratio, and processed grains and sugars (particularly fructose) are the primary culprits behind our skyrocketing obesity and diabetes rates.

“It follows logically that if you can limit carb intake to a range of which is absolutely necessary… and make the difference up with tasty fats and protein, you can literally reprogram your genes back to the evolutionary-based factory setting you had at birth – the setting that offered you the opportunity to start life as a truly efficient fat-burning organism and to continue to do so for the rest of your life as long as you send the right signals to your genes,” Mark writes.

Why the Low-Carb/High-Fat Diet Works for Weight Loss

Switching from a carb-based diet to a fat- and protein-based diet will help rebalance your body’s chemistry, and a natural side effect of this is weight loss, and/or improved weight management once you’re at an ideal weight.

One explanation for this is that you don’t really get fat from eating too much and exercising too little. Nor do you get fat from eating fat. One researcher that has clearly established this is Dr. Richard Johnson, whose latest book, The Fat Switch, dispels many of the most pervasive myths relating to diet and obesity.

Dr. Johnson discovered the method that animals use to gain fat prior to times of food scarcity, which turned out to be a powerful adaptive benefit. His research showed that fructose activates a key enzyme, fructokinase, which in turn activates another enzyme that causes cells to accumulate fat.

When this enzyme is blocked, fat cannot be stored in the cell. Interestingly, this is the exact same “switch” animals use to fatten up in the fall and to burn fat during the winter. Fructose is the dietary ingredient that turns on this “switch,” causing cells to accumulate fat, both in animals and in humans.

In essence, overeating and excess weight could be viewed as a symptom of an improper diet. It’s not necessarily the result of eating too many calories, per se, but rather getting your calories from the wrong sources.

In simple terms, when you consume too many sugars and carbs, you set off a cascade of chemical reactions in your body that makes you hungry and craving for sweets:

1.First, fructose is metabolized differently from glucose, with the majority being turned directly into fat because fructose stimulates a powerful “fat switch.”

2.This rapidly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity (“beer belly”), decreased HDL, increased LDL, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure—i.e., classic metabolic syndrome.

3.Dietary carbohydrates, especially fructose, are also the primary source of a substance called glycerol-3-phosphate (g-3-p), which causes fat to become fixed in fat tissue.

4.At the same time, high carb intake raises your insulin levels, which prevents fat from being released.

5.Fructose further tricks your body into gaining weight by turning off your body’s appetite-control system. Fructose does not suppress ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”) and doesn’t stimulate leptin (the “satiety hormone”), which together result in feeling hungry all the time, even though you’ve eaten.

As a result, you overeat and develop insulin resistance, which is not only an underlying factor of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and a long list of other chronic diseases.

The resulting equation is simple: fructose and dietary carbohydrates (grains, which break down into sugar) lead to excess body fat, obesity and related health issues.

Furthermore, no amount of exercise can compensate for this damage because if you eat excessive  fructose and grains—the primary ingredients NOT found in our ancestral diet—it will activate programming to cause your body to become, and remain, fat.

Burning Fat for Fuel May Also Be Key to Successful Cancer Treatment

In 1931, German physician Dr. Otto Warburg discovered that cancer cells have a fundamentally different energy metabolism compared to healthy cells – a discovery that won him the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Warburg discovered cancer cells are primarily fueled by the burning of sugar anaerobically, and that most cancer cells do not have the metabolic flexibility to survive without sugar. A New York Times article notes:2

“[T]he Warburg effect is estimated to occur in up to 80 percent of cancers. [A] positron emission tomography (PET) scan, which has emerged as an important tool in the staging and diagnosis of cancer works simply by revealing the places in the body where cells are consuming extra glucose.

In many cases, the more glucose a tumor consumes, the worse a patient’s prognosis.”

Glucose also generates far more reactive oxygen species (ROS), compared to when you’re burning fat. This means that when you switch to primarily burning fat for fuel, cancer cells essentially have to struggle to stay alive. Their mitochondria become dysfunctional and cannot use oxygen to burn fuel.

In addition, when you burn fat for fuel, you’re reducing oxidative damage and optimizing mitochondrial function at the same time. So, in summary: using fat for fuel allows healthy cells to thrive and cancer cells to “starve” into oblivion.

How Much Glucose or Carbs Do You Really Need?

The debate about whether or not you really need glucose, and if so, how much, is by no means settled. Earlier this year, I ran a series of articles featuring the back-and-forth discussion between two well-researched experts on this topic, Dr. Jaminet and Dr. Rosedale.

Dr. Jaminet is a proponent of so-called “safe starches,” and is of the conviction that depleting your glycogen store can stress other systems to provide the glucose your body requires to perform.

Dr. Rosedale, on the other hand, points out that because glucose consumption will undoubtedly spike blood glucose levels and increase insulin and leptin, promoting resistance, glucose consumption is always associated with some incremental degree of damage and/or increased risk of mortality. His diet is subsequently extremely carb-restrictive.

Yet another diet similar to Drs. Jaminet and Rosedale’s is the GAPS diet, created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, which is specifically designed to help “heal and seal” your gut. As such, it primarily consists of easily digestible, lightly cooked foods that are high in protein, fats, and fermented foods, and low in fiber and carbs.

Mark Sisson also adds valuable insight to this discussion:3

“At any one time, the total amount of glucose dissolved in the bloodstream of a healthy non-diabetic is equivalent to only a teaspoon (maybe 5 grams). Much more than that is toxic; much less than that and you pass out. That’s not much range for a so-called ‘preferred’ fuel, is it?

Several studies have shown that under normal low MET conditions (at rest or low-to mid- levels of activity such as walking and easy work) the body only needs about 5 grams of glucose an hour. And that’s for people who aren’t yet fat-adapted or keto-adapted. The brain is the major consumer of glucose, needing maybe 120 grams a day in people who aren’t yet on a low carb eating program.

Low carb eating reduces the brain’s glucose requirements considerably, and those who are very low carb (VLC) and keto-adapted may only require about 30 grams of glucose per day to fuel the brain… Twenty of those grams can come from glycerol (a byproduct of fat metabolism) and the balance from gluconeogenesis in the liver (which can actually make up to a whopping 150 grams a day if you haven’t metabolically damaged it with NAFLD through fructose overdosing).

Bottom line, unless you are a physical laborer or are training (exercising) hard on a daily basis, once you become fat-adapted, you probably don’t ever need to consume more than 150 grams of dietary carbs – and you can probably thrive on far less. Many Pbers [Mark’s diet, Primal Blueprint] do very well (including working out) on 30-70 grams a day.”[Emphasis mine]

Key Point: Replace Carbs with Healthful Fats

As I see it, this is really a non-issue for most people as few people anywhere near Dr. Jaminet’s recommendation of cutting carbs from the standard 50 percent down to 20-30 percent of total calories. However, if you’ve already begun to seriously address your carb intake then you may want to experiment with various amounts of “safe carbs” like rice and potatoes.

As Mark describes, the actual amount of carbs could vary anywhere from 30 to 150 grams a day, depending on whether your body has adapted to burning ketones and your level of exercise.

Keep in mind that when we’re talking about harmful carbs, we’re only referring to grains and sugars, NOT vegetable carbs.

When you cut grain/sugar carbs you actually need to radically increase the amount of vegetables you eat since, by volume, the grains you need to trade out are denser than vegetables. You also need to dramatically increase healthful fats such as avocados, coconut oil, egg yolks, raw grass fed organic butter, olives and nuts.

You would not want to use highly processed and genetically engineered omega-6 oils like corn, canola and soy as they will upset your omega 6/3 ratio. Of course you want to avoid all trans fats, but contrary to popular advice, saturated fats are a key component of a healthy diet that will promote weight loss.

A reasonable goal will be to have as much as 50-70 percent of your diet as healthy fat, which will radically reduce your carbohydrate intake. It can be helpful to remember that fat is far more satiating than carbs, so if you have cut down on carbs and  feel ravenous, this is a sign that you have not replaced them with sufficient amounts of healthy fat. Sources of healthy fats that you’ll want to add to your diet include:

Olives and olive oil (for cold dishes) Coconuts, and coconut oil (for all types of cooking and baking) Butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk
Raw nuts, such as almonds or pecans Organic pastured egg yolks Avocados
Pasture finished meats Palm oil Unheated organic nut oils

Most people will likely notice massive improvement in their health by following this approach as they are presently consuming FAR more grain and bean carbohydrates in their diet, and any reduction will be a step in the right direction. To help you get started on the right track, review my Nutritional Plan, which guides you through these dietary changes one step at a time.

Recent Research Confirms Benefits of Low-Carb/High-Fat Diet

Conventional advice has focused on low-fat diets for weight loss and heart disease prevention, but again and again, studies demonstrate that this advice is diametrically opposed to reality… In one such study, researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Heart and Vascular Institute compared the effects of two diets on vascular health; one low in fat, the other low in carbs.

The study in question was presented at this year’s meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Denver, on June 3.4

The study included a total of 46 men and women weighing on average 218 pounds. The six-month long weight loss program consisted of moderate aerobic exercise and strength training, and one of two diets, either:

Low-carb, high-fat: Less than 30 percent of calories from carbs (pastas, breads and sugary fruits), and up to 40 percent from fats (meat, dairy products, and nuts)

Low-fat, high-carb diet: Less than 30 percent of calories from fat, and 55 percent from carbs

The low-carb group on average shed 10 pounds in 45 days, while the low-fat group took 70 days to lose the same amount of weight. In terms of vascular health, the low-carb, high-fat dieters showed no harmful vascular changes, which is the primary reason for why so many are afraid of high-fat diets.

According to the lead investigator, professor of medicine and director of clinical and research exercise physiology, Kerry Stewart, Ed.D:

“Our study should help allay the concerns that many people who need to lose weight have about choosing a low-carb diet instead of a low-fat one, and provide re-assurance that both types of diet are effective at weight loss and that a low-carb approach does not seem to pose any immediate risk to vascular health. More people should be considering a low-carb diet as a good option.”

Stewart also believes that the emphasis on low-fat diets has likely contributed to the obesity epidemic in the US by promoting overconsumption of sugars and grains. I couldn’t agree more. The simple reason for this is that grains and sugars raise your insulin levels, which causes insulin resistance and, ultimately, weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.

Listen to Your Body

The evidence is quite clear that chronically raising your blood glucose through consumption of grains and sugars will increase your insulin resistance, which in turn will increase insulin and leptin resistance. And avoiding insulin and leptin resistance is perhaps the single most important factors if you seek optimal health and longevity.

That said, the degree to which you choose to reduce carbs however is, ultimately, up to you. And certain individual biochemical differences can make one diet more beneficial for you than others. The key point is to be aware that consuming sugar, grains and starches will promote insulin resistance to some degree or other, depending on the amount you consume.

As always, remember to listen to your body as it will give you feedback if what you are doing is right for your unique biochemistry and genetics. So listen to that feedback and adjust your program accordingly.


Court Dismisses Charges Against Pro-Life Activists, For Now

David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt now face only 1 of original 15 felony charges in California related to undercover videos about fetal tissue procurement.

6:02 PM, JUN 23, 2017 | By CHARLOTTE ALLEN

Even in famously abortion-friendly California there is justice for abortion foes. On June 21, the San Francisco County Superior Court threw out 14 of the 15 felony counts that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra had brought against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, the anti-abortion activists who had made widely circulated undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials haggling and joking over the compensation they expected to receive for supplying the organs of fetuses aborted at Planned Parenthood clinics to for-profit “tissue-procurement” companies.

I wrote about the case for THE WEEKLY STANDARD shortly after Becerra lodged the felony charges on March 28, and it seemed to me more persecution than prosecution. California law forbids the recording of conversations without the consent of all parties involved, so Becerra, a former Democratic congressman from Los Angeles, assigned a separate criminal count to each of 14 secretly recorded conversations that Deleiden and Merritt, posing as tissue-procurers themselves, had had with high-level Planned Parenthood employees at restaurants, abortion conventions, and other venues during 2013 and 2014, and also with the CEO of StemExpress, a Placerville, California, tissue supply firm, that had partnered at the time with some of Planned Parenthood’s Northern California clinics to retrieve fetal body parts onsite. For the statute in question, California Penal Code Section 632, prosecutorial discretion allows charges to be brought as either felonies or misdemeanors. Becerra went the felony route. His aim seemed to be to put Daleiden and Merritt behind bars for as long as legally possible; each separate felony conviction for violating Section 632 could entail a year in state prison plus a hefty fine.

There were always legal issues that could have stood in the way of automatic Section 632 convictions for the pair: How much expectation of privacy—an essential element of a violation of the anti-recording law—did the alleged victims really have in the public places where the conversations occurred, for example. But what really killed the greater part of Becerra’s case, at least for now, was his office’s insistence on keeping secret such key information as the names of the alleged Planned Parenthood victims. Superior Court Judge Christopher Hite ruled that those 14 charges were simply legally insufficient. “The complaint did not provide Merritt with the minimum notice required by the Constitution and California law as to what she supposedly did wrong, so that she can mount a proper and vigorous defense,” her lawyer, Mat Staver of LibertyCounsel said.. “The complaint was also vague and full of inconsistencies.”

Hite gave Becerra’s office until mid-July to file a revised and more detailed complaint, and it will be interesting to see whether the attorney general’s obvious solicitude for the delicate feelings of Planned Parenthood officials will outweigh his obvious desire to throw the book at Daleiden and Merritt. There is also that 15th count: a conspiracy charge against the pair stemming from their use of a former StemExpress employee’s password to log into StemExpress’s email account so as to learn the ins and out of fetal organ procurement.

Daleiden and Merritt had set up a fake corporation they called BioMax Procurement Services, complete with its own website, and they had obtained driver’s licenses for themselves under fictitious names—all so they could set up a vendor’s booth at a National Abortion Federation convention in San Francisco in 2014 and gain the confidence of the Planned Parenthood.


Maine woman attacked by raccoon drowns rabid animal in puddle

HOPE, Maine — While jogging on a familiar, overgrown, wooded trail near her home on a recent warm afternoon, Rachel Borch thought to herself. “What a beautiful day.”

Little did she know she was about to be attacked by a rabid raccoon that she would end up killing with her bare hands.

In the midst of appreciating the weather and scenery, she looked ahead of her and noticed a raccoon obstructing the narrow foot path, baring its tiny teeth.

Suddenly, it began “bounding” toward her, Borch recalled Wednesday afternoon during an interview at her home on Hatchet Mountain Road in Hope.

“I knew instantly it had to be rabid,” said Borch, who remembers ripping out her headphones and dropping her phone on the ground.

What felt like a split second later, the furry animal was at her feet. Borch recalled “dancing around it,” trying to figure out what to do.

“Imagine the Tasmanian devil,” she said. “It was terrifying.”

The path was too narrow for Borch to run past the raccoon, which had begun lunging at her. With adrenaline pumping, Borch suspended her disbelief.

“I knew it was going to bite me,” she said.

Figuring that she would have the greatest ability to defend herself if she used her hands to hold it down, she decided that would probably be the best place for the aggressive animal to latch onto.

The raccoon sank its teeth into Borch’s thumb and “wouldn’t let go.” Its paws were scratching her arms and legs wildly as Borch screamed and cried.

In a matter of seconds, Borch, who could not unhinge the raccoon’s jaw to shake it off her hand, noticed that when she had dropped her phone, it had fallen into a puddle in the path and was fully submerged.

“I didn’t think I could strangle [the raccoon] with my bare hands,” she remembers thinking, but holding it under the water might do the trick.

Connecting the dots quickly, Borch, then on her knees, dragged the still biting raccoon, which was now scratching frantically at her hand and arms, into the puddle.

“With my thumb in its mouth, I just pushed its head down into the muck,” Borch said.

With the animal belly-up, she held its head under water. “It was still struggling and clawing at my arms, [and] it wouldn’t let go of my thumb,” she said.

Borch said she held it there for what felt like an eternity until finally it stopped struggling, and “its arms sort of of fell to the side, its chest still heaving really slowly.”

Hyperventilating and in hysterics, she pulled her thumb out of the raccoon’s mouth, “and then I just bolted as fast as I could through the underbrush,” she said.

Borch remembers looking back once to see if the raccoon had started chasing her again.

“It felt like [Stephen King’s] ‘Pet Sematary,’” she said.

Kicking her shoes off because they were soaked, Borch ran the three-quarters of a mile home to her house.

Borch, who was screaming and unsure of how rabies affects humans, remembers thinking, “Oh, God, what if I just start foaming at the mouth and can’t find my way back?”

She met her mother, Elizabeth, at home, and together they drove immediately to Pen Bay Medical Center.

The dead raccoon was retrieved by Borch’s dad, who packed it into a Taste of the Wild dog food bag and handed it over to the Maine Warden Service.

Hope Animal Control Officer Heidi Blood confirmed Wednesday that the dead raccoon later tested positive for rabies by the Maine Center for Disease Control.

“Not to scare people,” Blood said, but “when there’s one [infected], there’s typically another.”

It’s important to “let folks know that just because there’s one [infected] and it’s gone now, doesn’t mean the risk still isn’t there,” she said.

Infected animals typically start showing signs within two weeks, Blood said. While humans can start exhibiting symptoms within a few weeks, she said, often it takes a few months.

“It’s scary stuff,” Blood said. “The number one thing we try to remind people of is that it’s 100 percent fatal [if it goes untreated].”

Borch has received six shots so far, including the rabies vaccine, and immunoglobulin and tetanus injections. She is slated to receive her last injection this weekend.

“If there hadn’t been water on the ground, I don’t know what I would have done,” Borch said of drowning the animal. “It really was just dumb luck. I’ve never killed an animal with my bare hands. I’m a vegetarian. It was self-defense.”

Her advice for others who find themselves facing a rabid animal? Borch said she has none.

“I always thought of raccoons as this cute, cuddly forest animal, she said. “I just will never look at them the same way.”

Borch is not the only person to have been attacked by a rabid animal so far this season.

Earlier this week, a Wiscassset man was bitten on both hands in Topsham by what was believed to be a rabid fox.

As of June 7, according to the Maine CDC, there have been 20 raccoons, red foxes and skunks that have tested positive for rabies in 2017.

In 2016, 64 animals in Maine tested positive for rabies, according to CDC data.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated that the Borch family turned the raccoon over to Hope Animal Control Officer Heidi Blood.

An earlier version of this story misidentified who collected the raccoon.


Too much exercise is bad for your gut – and the other dangers of over training

There are a whole range of health risks associated with excessive exercise.
Studies released today show that, despite good intentions, those who regularly exercise for two hours or more could be doing more harm to their bodies than good.

The research, which comes from Australian sports journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, shows that intense physiological stress on the body can trigger Leaky Gut Syndrome – a condition in which the gut lining weakens, resulting in the passage of germs and toxins into the bloodstream.

It’s believed that the resultant leakage of toxic waste is a primary cause of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Chronic Fatigue, and has a role to play in many other illnesses. With no immediate cure – though a gluten-free diet wouldn’t go amiss – those putting in the hours at the gym might be better off putting aside some time on the sofa.

But it’s not just your gut that could suffer from hard graft. There are a whole range of health risks associated with excessive exercise that the health and fitness industry would rather you didn’t know.

Whilst the gym claims to hold the key to a happier, healthier you, science seems to be saying that there really can be too much of a good thing.

Abnormal heart rhythms

A long but gentle session on the treadmill can’t hurt, right? Wrong. Those who regularly engage in endurance sports are at risk of causing permanent structural changes to heart muscles which scientists describe as ‘cardiotoxic’.

Such changes are believed to predispose athletes to arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythms), making them more prone to sudden cardiac death. For years, a handful of clean-living sports nuts have sat smug in the knowledge that tobacco, caffeine and recreational drugs are the main causes of an irregular heart beat. But studies released by the European Heart Journal in 2013 suggest that – especially for those with a family history of irregular heartbeats – overdoing the fat-burning workout can also contribute to poor cardio health.

The study, which measured the heart rhythms of over 52,000 cross-country skiiers during a ten year period, found that the risk of arrhythmia is increased with every race completed, and was up to 30pc higher for those who competed year-on-year for a period of five years. Exercise intensity also affected results: those who finished fastest were at higher risk for arrhythmia.

A shaky immune system

Cortisol – a hormone emitted by the adrenal gland during periods of physical stress – stimulates gluconeogenesis (the production of new glucose) in the liver and increases protein breakdown in the muscles.

It’s essentially good. Keen to benefit from its inflammatory effects, professional athletes have been injecting their wearied muscles with the stuff for years (as have office workers who suffer from persistent RSI). But scientists recently came to the conclusion that the negative effects of cortisol can outweigh the benefits.

Whilst cortisol can decrease the swelling and reddening prompted by serious injuries, its immunosuppressive effects mean that those who endure high and consistent cortisol levels are at more risk of falling ill.

One way of understanding this is in terms of the ‘fight-or-flight’ instinct. Levels of cortisol increase dramatically during moments of intense stress – but these moments tend to be very fleeting. You fight, or take flight, and then the body’s self-limiting response system returns to normal.

However, that doesn’t happen so quickly when you over train. Essentially, your body doesn’t have time to recover, so it stays in (or close to) fight-or-flight mode. Your immune system pays the price.

Weakened bones

Not only are those who over-exercise more at risk of illness but they’re doubly as likely to end up bed-bound thanks to cortisol’s interference with bone-building. When cortisol is in the bloodstream, more bone tissue is broken down than is deposited. This means that exercise addicts, whose bodies remains in a chronic state of stress, put themselves at higher risk of fractures and breakage.

The resultant loss in bone density can lead to serious conditions such as osteoporosis and arthritis, which can haunt excessive exercisers in later life.

Mental ill-health

Pumping iron on a daily basis might be a fast-track to the baywatch body you’ve always craved – but relentlessly hitting the weights has proven detrimental impacts on mental health.

Studies into what is known as ‘Overtraining Syndrome’ show that those who over train portray the same biochemical markers as those with clinical depression – which is to say that the emission of serotonin and tryptophan are altered by both disorders. Behaviourally too, the clinically depressed and the over trained were perceived to share lowered motivation, insomnia and irritability.

Last year the Technical University of Munich found that young athletes who don’t leave enough time to recover from stress and injury are 20pc more likely to suffer from depression.

Struggling to find the motivation to lug your unwilling body to the gym? It might be time to ease off the weights.

How to tell if you’re over training

By Scott Laidler, personal trainer
Symptoms range from individual to individual and the presentation of one symptom alone does not necessarily indicate that you are over trained. As a result, the list below is not exhaustive. Nevertheless, any combination of the following may suggest that you are over trained, or in the very least in need of some recovery time.

Poor sleep (despite being tired)
Aching muscles
Poor workout performance
Inability to complete workouts
Loss of appetite
Loss of libido
Poor co-ordination
Swelling of lymph glands
Abnormal heart rate

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, the most important thing to do is stop training. Your body needs time to recuperate. Listen to it. Symptoms could take days, weeks, or months to subside.

Once you do feel better, it’s wise to reintroduce yourself to the workout world slowly. Begin by concentrating on general activities like jogging or cycling that can be completed at a gentle intensity, before really getting back into the heavy stuff.


Journalists drink too much, are bad at managing emotions, and operate at a lower level than average, according to a new study
Journalists also are apparently good at managing the stresses that come with their jobs. UNClimateChange / Flickr

Journalists’ brains show a lower-than-average level of executive functioning, according to a new study, which means they have a below-average ability to regulate their emotions, suppress biases, solve complex problems, switch between tasks, and show creative and flexible thinking.

The study, led by Tara Swart, a neuroscientist and leadership coach, analysed 40 journalists from newspapers, magazines, broadcast, and online platforms over seven months. The participants took part in tests related to their lifestyle, health, and behaviour.

It was launched in association with the London Press Club, and the objective was to determine how journalists can thrive under stress.

Each subject completed a blood test, wore a heart-rate monitor for three days, kept a food and drink diary for a week, and completed a brain profile questionnaire.

The results showed that journalists’ brains were operating at a lower level than the average population, particularly because of dehydration and the tendency of journalists to self-medicate with alcohol, caffeine, and high-sugar foods.

Forty-one percent of the subjects said they drank 18 or more units of alcohol a week, which is four units above the recommended weekly allowance. Less than 5% drank the recommended amount of water.

However, in interviews conducted in conjunction with the brain profile results, the participants indicated they felt their jobs had a lot of meaning and purpose, and they showed high mental resilience. Swart suggested this gave them an advantage over people in other professions in dealing with the work pressure of tight deadlines.

Journalists scored pretty high on:

Abstraction, the ability to deal with ideas rather than events. It’s related to the part of the brain where the most sophisticated problem-solving takes place. In other words, it highlights the ability to think outside the box and make connections where others might not see them.
Value tagging, the ability to assign values to different sensory cues, such as whether something is a priority or has meaning. Scoring highly in this area indicates a good ability to sift through information and pick out what’s important.
Journalists scored lower on:

Executive function. As well as the traits mentioned above, low scores for executive function also suggest poor sleep, nutrition, exercise, and mindfulness. Many participants reported they had no time for breaks while working.
Silencing the mind, which is related to the ability to have thoughts without getting distracted by them, or a powerful ability to focus. Low scores indicate the opposite, suggesting journalists have a hard time preventing themselves from worrying about the future or regretting the past.
Compared with bankers, traders, or salespeople, journalists showed that they were more able to cope with pressure. Traits that make journalism a stressful profession are deadlines, accountability to the public, unpredictable and heavy workloads, public scrutiny, repercussions on social media, and lower pay.

The results, however, showed that the journalists were on average no more physically stressed than the average person. The blood tests showed that their levels of cortisol — known as the stress hormone — were mostly normal.

“The headline conclusion reached is that journalists are undoubtedly subject to a range of pressures at work and home, but the meaning and purpose they attribute to their work contributes to helping them remain mentally resilient despite this,” the study says. “Nevertheless, there are areas for improvement, including drinking more water and reducing alcohol and caffeine consumption to increase executive functioning and improve recovery during sleep.”

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Here’s what you DON’T know about the Obamacare repeal: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Yesterday House Republicans gave an Obamacare repeal a second try following their failure in March. In March the “American Health Care Act” (AHCA) was dead on arrival, without as much as a vote being held. This time around, the revised AHCA (previously branded “Obamacare-lite”) passed in the House 217/213, with 217 Republicans voting in favor, 20 against (and 1 abstaining), while all 193 Democrats voted against the bill.

Outside of some fear-mongering over people losing coverage, there hasn’t been much discussion about what the contents of the bill actually are. As you’d guess from how the vote was split, there was nothing of redeeming value for Democrats – and even some Republicans wouldn’t back the bill (you can find a list and their explanations for doing so here).

As for the details, here’s a key summary, courtesy of Unbiased America.

Parts of Obamacare repealed:

The employer mandate and penalties for not insuring employees who work more than 30 hours a week at companies with more than 50 employees are repealed.
• The individual mandate and penalties for not having insurance are repealed.
Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid will effectively be reversed in 2020 when the federal government stops funding it. States that have not already expanded would not be allowed to do so, starting immediately.
Obamacare’s income-based subsidies are ended.
• The 3.8 percent tax on investment income is repealed, as is the 0.9 percent tax on higher income Americans.
• The tax on medical devices is eliminated, as are the taxes on prescription medications, health insurance premiums, flexible spending accounts, tanning salons, and retiree prescription drug coverage.
• The tax deduction on expenses exceeding 7.5 percent of a family’s income is reinstated (Obamacare had increased the threshold to 10 percent).
• Obamacare’s prohibition on using Flexible Spending Account and Health Savings Account (HSA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines is repealed.
• The tax penalty on withdrawing money from Health Savings Account for non-qualified medical expenses is repealed.
• State Medicaid plans will no longer have to cover some Obamacare-mandated essential health benefits.
Planned Parenthood funding is eliminated.

Parts of Obamacare kept:

People with preexisting conditions cannot be denied coverage. The measure would provide states with federal funds to help set up high-risk pools to provide insurance to the sickest patients and to help those with pre-existing conditions pay for insurance.
Dependents can still stay on their parent’s health insurance plan until age 26.
Insurers are still prohibited from setting annual and lifetime limits on individual coverage.
• The “Cadillac tax” on generous healthcare plans will remain, but be postponed from 2020 to 2025.
• Current Medicaid enrollees will be grandfathered in when the federal government stops providing the extra federal funds that allow for expansion in 2020.

Parts of Obamacare replaced:

• Obamacare’s income-based subsidies are replaced by age-based tax credits of $2,000 to $4,000 per person per year, increasing with someone’s age. The credits would start to phase out for individuals earning $75,000 and households earning $150,000, and would be unavailable for individuals who earn more than $215,000.
• Although the annual penalty for not having insurance is repealed, people who wait until they become sick or let their coverage lapse for more than 63 days can be charged a 30 percent surcharge on premiums for one year when they do finally sign up.
The amount people and employers can contribute to tax-free health savings accounts will double.
• Private plans are still required to offer ten essential health benefits, but states can now opt out of the requirement.
• States will now be able to opt out of Obamacare’s mandate that insurers charge the same rates to sick and healthy people.
• Under Obamacare, insurers could only charge seniors up to 3 times more than they charged young people. The new law changes that restriction to 5 times more.In summary, the heart of Obamacare, the individual mandate, is torn out, as are the major taxes funding the law. The main argument against the repeal, that those with preexisting conditions will lose care is bogus, as the ACHA actually does more to insure those with preexisting conditions.

Will it be viable? The Senate is waiting until the CBO scores the bill (calculates the cost) before voting on it. Senate Republicans currently hold a slight 52-48 majority, but are eyeing special rules to pass a version of the ACHA with only a simple majority.

[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]



 Comment – This may explain why common wheat products seem to affect people negatively.

Couple deplores heartbreaking scene at Durham VA

It’s not hard to find stories of headaches — and heartache — when it comes to the VA. What makes this one different is it has pictures to go with it.Marine veteran Stephen McMenamin and his wife, Hanna, moved to Raleigh from their home in Milwaukee a few months ago and already have amassed an armload of personal stories about long wait times at the Durham VA hospital — both to get appointments in the first place and in the waiting room once at the hospital. But they said it was what they saw Friday that moved them to take pictures and post them to Facebook.”It was very upsetting,” Stephen McMenamin said. He and his wife said they saw a handful of older veterans mistreated and ignored during the seven hours they were at the hospital, including an aged-veteran in a wheelchair.Stay on top of breaking news stories with the ABC11 News App”He had been sitting there for quite some time groaning and convulsing in pain,” McMenamin said. “Almost to the point of where he was falling out of his wheelchair.””He was visibly in pain,” said Hanna. “And I think the thing with that that disturbed me so much was that there were people just sitting there acting like nothing was happening and he was sitting right in front of them and they were not even acknowledging that it was happening.”McMenamin says he and other patients asked if there was anything staff at the hospital could do to make the man more comfortable and were repeatedly told no.After several hours, McMenamin says he offered the man a wheelchair he had been given. “He sat in it for probably 15 minutes until the head nurse came around and kicked him out and said he can’t do that, he can’t be in that area. She was very rough with him and just completely insensitive,” he said.Share news tips with the ABC11 News AppMcMenamin and his wife say another veteran that caught their attention was an older man who looked deathly ill coming in but also was made to wait. After multiple times trying to get comfortable and being told he could not, McMenamin says he just lay on the emergency room floor.”He just kind of laid down and said, ‘I can’t get up, I won’t get up. Please get me a blanket until you can see me.’ ” McMenamin says security guards helped the man up after about five minutes and he was taken out of the waiting room.”It’s just horrible sitting in a room like that with people who could have been my grandfather,” Hanna added, “in that much pain and having people not even react, it seemed like.”The majority of the people working there were very nice to us. They were great,” she added. “It’s just that you have these people that don’t care it seems like, and from what I’ve read from the comments, this is happening all over the place. You get people that just don’t care for what they’re doing and they feel like they can’t be fired, so they just kind of get away with it. I just think it’s unacceptable.” The Director of the VA Hospital in Durham, DeAnne Seekins agreed that anything short of respectfully giving top-notch care to veterans is unacceptable but wouldn’t say that’s what happened Friday.Seekins said she called two of the three veterans the McMenamin’s believed to be mistreated and told the I-Team that both thought they got great care at the hospital.She said they hadn’t been able to track down the third. But the I-Team did and the veteran, who didn’t want to be identified to the hospital, said he felt like he got terrible care.Regardless, Seekins released a statement saying in part, ‘We take seriously any allegation of poor service. I was made aware of a regrettable incident that occurred in our Emergency Department over the weekend and am thankful someone cared enough to share the incident with us. Our mission is to provide the highest level of health care to Veterans, so upon learning of the incident, I took swift action. The employee was immediately removed from patient care pending the results of an internal review. We truly regret how this Veteran was treated.’Seekins sat down with the I-Team regarding this story after it ran and had this message for veterans:


California’s 12,209,605 Medicaid/CHIP Enrollees Outnumber Populations of 44 States

( – The number of people enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in California alone exceeds the total populations of 44 of the other states of the union, according to data published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Census Bureau.

As of Jan. 1, 2014, state’s joining Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion could enroll people in the federal-state program under new, relaxed eligibility requirements. California was one of those states.

In the fall of 2013, the Obamacare exchanges opened to enroll people in health insurance plans for 2014.

The average number of Medicaid/CHIP enrollees in California in July-September 2013—the last quarter before the Obamacare exchanges opened–was 7,755,381, according to CMS.

By November 2016, the latest month for which CMS numbers are available, the number of Medicaid/CHIP enrollees in California was 12,209,605.

That is a three-year increase of 4,454,224—or 57.43 percent.

No state has nearly as many Medicaid/CHIP enrollees as California, and no state has added nearly as many to its rolls since the Obamacare exchanges opened, according to CMS.

The 12,209,605 people on Medicaid and CHIP in California as of November 2016 equaled 31.1 percent of the state’s total 2016 population of 39,250,017, as estimated by the Census Bureau.

New York, according to CMS, has the second largest number of people enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP—with 6,411,789.

That is up 733,363—or 12.9 percent—from the average of 5,678,417 people enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP in New York in July-September 2013.

In addition to California itself, the five other states that had total populations in 2016 that outnumbered California’s 12,209,605 Medicaid/CHIP enrollees were: Texas (27,862,596); Florida (20,612,439), New York (19,745,289), Pennsylvania (12,802,503) and Illinois (12,801,539).

All other states had total populations that were smaller than the number of people on Medicaid or CHIP in California.

Ohio, the nation’s seventh most populous state, had 11,614,373 people in 2016, according to the Census Bureau. That fell 595,232 short of the 12,209,605 people on Medicaid or CHIP in California.

California’s 4,454,224 increase in the number of people enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP since July-September 2013 is more than the population of half the states.

It is 17,250 more than the 4,436,974 people who lived in Kentucky, the nation’s 26th most populous state.

Nationwide, 74,407,191 people were enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP as of November, according to CMS. The 12,209,605 enrolled in California equaled 16.4 percent of the total national Medicaid/CHIP enrollment.

Meanwhile, California’s total 2016 population of 39,250,017 was 12.15 percent of the nation’s total population of 323,127,513.

“Medicaid is a mean-tested entitlement program that finances the delivery of primary and acute care services, as well as long-term services and supports,” says the Congressional Research Service. “It is a federal-state program, and participation in Medicaid is voluntary for states, though all states and the District of Columbia choose to participate. In order to participate in Medicaid, the federal government requires states to cover certain mandatory populations and benefits, but the federal government also allows states to cover optional populations and services. Due to its flexibility, there is substantial variation among the states in terms of the factors such as Medicaid eligibility, covered benefits, and provider payment rates.”

“The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP),” says CMS, “was established in 1997 to provide new coverage opportunities for children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but who cannot afford private coverage.”

The business and economic reporting of is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.

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