sábado, 9 de fevereiro de 2013

Electronic Sites of Botany, Plant Biology and Plant Science Journals

These are links to journals in which articles concerning plant biology are published. The sites will almost always have a Tables of Contents available free and may frequently have selected articles, or the entire text online. Some sites are free; others require registration or paid subscriptions. Many journals have free "trial" periods, or bundle online with print subscriptions, so check the site to test availability. All journals are not created equal; the web site provides links but makes no claims as to the quality or suitability of the sites listed.

Digital Nature Archive Of Singapore

January 20, 2013 | Author najib
This website is created by the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR) at the National University of Singapore, to provide a searchable digital database of Singapore’s natural heritage, i.e., its flora, fauna and natural habitats. The initial funding for creating the digital nature archive (DNA) is sponsored by the Care-For-Nature Trust Fund of Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. RMBR maintains and update the database, with supports from the National Parks Board.

Our objectives:

To provide a free online searchable digital database on natural history, for use by students, educators, general public, conservationists and scientists
To sort, catalogue and systematically archive the vast treasury of wildlife images, nature places and people from Singapore through
  • slides and print images
  • digital images
  • historical photographs (e.g. from retired university professors, natural historians, experienced photographers, old local books, etc.)
  • video clips and sound clips
Provide information on species status, habitats and general biology
Permit student to student transfer of knowledge and information through their involvement in collecting more digital images, thereby ensuring the continued building of the database resource.
Make Singapore a centre for nature education using IT.

Data: 20.02.2013

TRY-Plant Trait Database

Plant traits – morphological, anatomical, biochemical, physiological or phenological features of individuals or their component organs or tissues – are a key to understanding and predicting the adaptation of ecosystems in the face of biodiversity loss and global change. To improve the empirical data basis for such projections, in 2007 the TRY project was initiated, aimed at bringing together the different plant trait databases worldwide. In this context TRY is not an acronym, rather a statement of sentiment. Since 2007 the TRY database has accomplished an unprecedented coverage. It contains 3 million trait records for 750 traits of 1 million individual plants, representing 69,000 plant species. About halve of the data are geo-referenced, providing a global coverage of more than 8000 measurement sites.Data sharing in the context of the TRY initiative is organized by commonly agreed intellectual property guidelines. Based on these guidelines the TRY initiative has integrated about 120 datasets, including original datasets of unpublished and published data, but also collective databases like LEDA,GlopNet, BiolFlor, SID, EcoFlora and many others, which have already combined several original datasets.

In the context of the TRY database the trait values are standardized, quality checked and made available for scientific projects upon request. As the TRY database contains published and unpublished data and because the database contains a large range of additional information for each individual trait value, only a minor part of the data can be provided for direct download. However, so far we have received more than 100 proposals requesting data from the TRY database and first articles are being published. Five years after initiation it now looks like TRY is becoming more than ‘just a try’.

Data: 04.02.2013

Pesquisa recente sobre Aloe vera no tratamento do câncer

Abstract- Medicinal plants are part and parcel of human society to combat diseases, from the dawn of civilization. There exists a plethora of knowledge, information and benefits of herbal drugs in our ancient literature of Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani and Chinese medicine. Aloe vera (L.) is commonly used plant for burn, cosmetic etc.. It belongs to the family Liliaceae. The present study reports antitumour activity of this plant in two stage skin carcinogenesis tumour model and antimutagenic activity using chromosomal aberration assay in the experimental animals. In present investigation, the comparative antitumour effect of Aloe vera extract has been undertaken by topical/oral application of 7, 12-dimethyabenz (a) anthracene followed by 1% croton oil till the end of the experiment (16 weeks). GSH level were also measured during carcinogenicity studies. In another set of experiment the antimutagenicity activity was performed using chromosomal aberration assay in bone marrow cells of Swiss albino mice. The results have indicated that there was a delayed in the first appearance of tumour and significant reduction in incidence and cumulative numbers of papillomas which were observed in the Aloe vera extract treated groups (by topical and oral route) as compared to control. The GSH levels were restored in Aloe vera extracts along with DMBA + croton oil treated groups whereas DMBA + croton oil treated group depleted the GSH levels.

R. C. Agrawal, Sonam Pandey. Evaluation of Anticarcinogenic Activity of herbal Medicinal Plant Aloe vera in Swiss albino mice. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, Volume 3, Issue 2, February 2013

Link para o artigo:

Charting Progress in Debate Over Medical Research With Animals

Feb. 7, 2013 — The scientific and ethical debate over the use of animals in medical research has raged for years, but perspectives are shifting, viewpoints are becoming more nuanced, and new initiatives are seeking alternatives to animal testing, according to a special report by The Hastings Center, "Animal Research Ethics: Evolving Views and Practices."

The report is available on animalresearch­.thehastingscenter­.org, a hub of educational information on the changing landscape of scientific, ethical, and policy issues on animal research.

These resources are the outcome of a project on the ethics of medical research with animals, which brought together people with different points of view and areas of expertise to share their knowledge and exchange ideas and insights. Participants included veterinarians, a neuroscientist studying Parkinson's disease, a legal scholar, bioethicists, and animal welfare advocates.

"Our goal was to produce educational resources for a wide audience, including biomedical researchers, scholars, students, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees, policymakers, and journalists who follow animal research issues," says Gregory Kaebnick, a Hastings Center research scholar and one of the leaders of the project. In addition to Kaebnick, the project was led by Susan Gilbert, public affairs and communications manager, and Thomas Murray, senior research scholar and President Emeritus. It was supported with a grant from The Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund.

The special report, published with the Hastings Center Report, contains commentaries from the participants that cite examples of changes under way that are improving the welfare of animals in research and in some cases replacing them with alternative models. Examples include recent restrictions on the use of chimpanzees in federally-funded research and a "paradigm shift" in toxicology testing that aims to replace animals with a process that uses human cells to study a chemical's "pathway of toxicity."

Other commentaries suggest opportunities for change, including ways that laws that govern animal experimentation can be amended to reduce unnecessary animal suffering and actions that researchers can take to reduce the number of animals needed for proposed experiments.

Additional resources can be found on the Hastings animal research Web site, including statistics on the use of different animal species, alternative research models, links to other significant reports on animal research issues, animal studies programs, a selected and updated bibliography, and an interactive glossary of terms used in debates about using animals in research that can have multiple meanings -- including the word "alternative." In the interest of fostering clear and civil discussion of the ethical controversies, The Hastings Center invites visitors to offer suggestions on the further development of the glossary terms and definitions.

Authors of the special report are: Larry Carbone, a veterinarian specializing in the care of laboratory animals; Kathleen M. Conlee, vice president for animal research issues with The Humane Society of the United States; Jeffrey Kahn,the Robert Henry Levi and Ryda Hecht Levi Professor of Bioethics and Public Policy in the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics; Susan Kopp, a veterinarian and professor of health sciences in the veterinary technology program at LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York, and a scholar at the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics; Stephen R. Latham, direct orof the Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics at Yale University; Joel Marks, professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of New Haven and co-director of the animal ethics study group at Yale; D. Eugene Redmond, Jr., professor of psychiatry and neurosurgery at the Yale University School of Medicine; Bernard E. Rollin, university distinguished professor, professor of philosophy, animal sciences, and biomedical sciences, and university bioethicist at Colorado State University; Andrew N. Rowan, chief scientific officer at The Humane Society of the United States and chief executive officer of The Humane Society International; and Joanne Zurlo, senior scientist in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and director of science strategy for the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


Fruits and Vegetables May Help Protect the Kidneys

Feb. 7, 2013 — Adding fruits and vegetables to the diet may help protect the kidneys of patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) with too much acid build-up, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN).

Western diets that are based in animal and grain products are highly acidic and can lead to metabolic acidosis, when too much acid builds up in the body. This is particularly common in patients with CKD because the kidneys are responsible for removing acid through the urine. Metabolic acidosis can cause rapid breathing, confusion, and lethargy. Severe cases can lead to shock or death.

Alkali supplementation therapy such as bicarbonate is used to treat CKD patients with severe metabolic acidosis, but simply adding more fruits and vegetables -- which contain alkali -- to the diet might also help.

Nimrit Goraya, MD, Donald Wesson, MD (Texas A&M College of Medicine) and their colleagues tested this by randomizing 71 patients with hypertensive stage 4 CKD to receive added fruits and vegetables or an oral alkaline medication for one year. The treatments were dosed to decrease dietary acid by half.

Among the major findings:

• Kidney function was similar between the two groups after one year.

• One-year plasma total carbon dioxide (PTCO2) increased in both groups, which is consistent with a lessening of metabolic acidosis. PTCO2 was higher in patients receiving bicarbonate than in those receiving added fruits and vegetables.

• Urine measurements of kidney injury were lower after one year in both groups.

• Although fruits and vegetables are rich in potassium and might raise blood potassium to dangerous levels, levels did not increase in either group.

"We showed that by addition of alkali such as bicarbonate or alkali-inducing fruits and vegetables, patients had a favorable response by reduction of urinary kidney injury markers," said Dr. Wesson. "Our study suggests that these interventions will help maintain kidney health in those with kidney disease," added Dr. Goraya.

In an accompanying editorial, Muhammad Yaqoob, MD (Bartshealth NHS Trust and William Harvey Research Institute, in London) noted that the study is likely to have a limited impact on clinical practice. "A small group of highly motivated patients wishing to reduce their pill burden through dietary modification may benefit from the results of this study. However, many patients find it difficult to follow a diet high in fruits and vegetables and might therefore be more adherent to a supplement," he wrote. He added that a large multicenter randomized controlled trial examining the impact of supplemental bicarbonate, with and without dietary intervention, in patients with chronic kidney disease is urgently needed.

Study co-authors include Jan Simoni, PhD and Chan-Hee Jo, PhD.

Journal Reference:
N. Goraya, J. Simoni, C.-H. Jo, D. E. Wesson. A Comparison of Treating Metabolic Acidosis in CKD Stage 4 Hypertensive Kidney Disease with Fruits and Vegetables or Sodium Bicarbonate. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 2013; DOI:10.2215/CJN.02430312


Synthetic Marijuana Dangerous for Kidneys

Feb. 8, 2013 — University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) nephrologists have reported for the first time in medical literature cases of acute kidney injury directly linked with synthetic marijuana use. The case studies are reported online in theClinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology and will appear in the March 2013 print edition of the journal.

The authors report that nephrotoxicity -- the poisonous effect of a substance on the kidneys -- from designer drugs such as SPICE or K2, which mimic the effects of marijuana but are human-made and cannot be detected in routine drug tests, should be considered when a patient presents with acute kidney injury and no other evident cause. This is especially true for young adults with negative urine drug screens, said the paper's senior author Denyse Thornley-Brown, M.D., associate professor in the UAB Division of Nephrology.

Thornley-Brown said the use of relatively cheap synthetic marijuana preparations has increased significantly over the past few years, mostly among young adults who have a desire to experiment with a substance that is difficult to detect. The relatively low cost, about $20 per gram, is another reason for its popularity.

In the journal, Thornley-Brown and colleagues outlined four different cases of previously healthy young men whose acute kidney injury was linked to ingestion of synthetic marijuana. All the patients were residents of the same northeastern Alabama community and presented to UAB or a community hospital within a nine-week period showing symptoms of nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain after using synthetic marijuana.

"Cases of acute coronary syndrome associated with synthetic marijuana use have been reported, but our publication is the first to associate use with acute kidney injury," said study co-author Gaurav Jain, M.D., assistant professor in the Division of Nephrology. "Tachycardia and seizures have also been reported with synthetic cannabinoids."

Three of the patients had acute kidney injury marked by the excretion of an abnormally small volume of urine, known asoliguric acute kidney injury, and the fourth had a decrease in effective blood flow to the kidney, known as prerenal acute kidney injury. Three of the patients underwent a kidney biopsy that showed acute tubular necrosis, which is the death of cells that form the minute canals in the kidney that secrete, reabsorb, collect and transport urine. Left untreated, this can cause the kidneys to shut down. In these four cases, the patients recovered kidney function, and none required dialysis.

Thornley-Brown said the patients' common history of synthetic marijuana ingestion suggests a possible pathogenic role of its preparation in these patients' acute kidney injury. The time of occurrence and geographic clustering of the cases is consistent with a common toxic exposure. However, due to the small number of patients, the inability to obtain a sample of the synthetic marijuana involved and the patients' serum and urine samples being discarded by the time of the investigation, the researchers found it difficult to argue for a causative role of the preparations in acute kidney injury.

But, Jain added, given that synthetic marijuana preparations involve using several additives, the causative agent of the acute kidney injury in these cases may have been an additive rather than the cannabinoid itself.

"There is very little information regarding the ingredients in synthetic cannabinoids that are sold on the streets, although it is known that additional compounds are added to the preparations," Jain added. "It is very likely that a possible nephrotoxin adulterated the preparation used by our patients."

The authors recommend that physicians inquire about the use of designer drugs when evaluating patients with acute kidney injury -- especially in cases where the etiology is unknown and the urine drug screen is negative. For young people, the take-home message should be that these drugs may have unanticipated and potentially life threatening side effects,and they should be avoided.

"If they don't get to a physician in time, the damage to their kidneys could be permanent, and they could end up on dialysis," Jain added.

Gautam Kantilal Bhanushali, Huma Fatima and Leah J. Leisch, all from UAB, were co-authors on the study.

Journal Reference:
G. K. Bhanushali, G. Jain, H. Fatima, L. J. Leisch, D. Thornley-Brown. AKI Associated with Synthetic Cannabinoids: A Case Series. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 2012; DOI:10.2215/CJN.05690612


sexta-feira, 8 de fevereiro de 2013

Hot scale of peppers: infográfico

The scale was created in 1912 by U.S. pharmacist Wilbur Scoville. The pharmacist measured the degree of piquancy of peppers by the amount of sugar water added until the "heat" is no longer detectable. The results of the measurements were fixed using the Scoville Scale.


Indian Food Infographic (ver no link original)

Indian Food

Chili peppers


Infográfico: Health benefits of tea tree oil

Why is Tea Tree Oil Used for Acne?

Tea tree oil contains a constituent called terpinen-4-ol (which is thought to be responsible for most of tea tree oil’s antimicrobial activity).

Because tea tree oil can kill bacteria, applying topical tea tree oil to acne lesions has been thought to destroy Propionibacterium acnes (skin-dwelling bacteria that is involved in the development of acne).

Clinical Studies on Tea Tree Oil and Acne

A single-blind, randomized study by the Department of Dermatology at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia compared the effectiveness and tolerance of 5 percent tea tree oil gel with 5 percent benzoyl peroxide lotion in 124 people with mild to moderate acne. People in both groups had a significant reduction in inflamed and non-inflamed acne lesions (open and closed comedones) over the three month period. Although the tea tree oil took longer to work initially, there were fewer side effects with tea tree oil. In the benzoyl peroxide group, 79 percent of people had side effects including itching, stinging, burning, and dryness. Researchers noted that there were far fewer side effects in the tea tree oil group.

A smaller study published in 2007 involved 60 people with mild to moderate acne who were treated with either a gel containing 5 percent tea tree oil or a placebo for 45 days. Researchers found that the tea tree oil worked better than the placebo in reducing the severity and number of acne lesions.

How to use Tea Tree Oil

-make sure to dilute it (either with water or another oil such as olive oil) pure tea tree oil is very powerful and may cause some skin irritation when used topically for acne.

-use a Q-tip or cotton swab (to attack problem areas more effectively dip a cotton Q-tip in some water (or oil) and then dip it into Tea Tree Oil. Apply Q-tip to breakout spots and acne) using your fingers will cause bacteria to get into the oil and on your face. Also using a Q-tip allows you to dilute the oil.

-best before bed or during a day in (Tea tree oil has a distinct smell and looks oily on the face) using tea tree oil under makeup or before going out will stifle its ability to heal your acne.


-this is an alternative to the spot treatment products in stores so it takes some time and patience! (works best on mild acne, but it always varies from person to person)

-if you are struggling with severe acne its best to go to your local dermatologist so they can help you out!


Sistema de plantio direto Agroecológico (Embrapa Amazônia Oriental)

A Permacultura- um conceito de vida saudável

Estudante de Agronomia cria projeto de horta em áreas urbanas

Repórter Eco - 02/09/2012 - Ana Primavesi

Agroforestry Offers Solutions to World Hunger

Kim Lewis
Last updated on: February 07, 2013 10:08 AM

The Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, recently released new guidelines to promote agroforestry. It says this often neglected sector of agriculture, that combines forestry with agriculture, is crucial to the livelihoods and food security of millions of people. The FAO says agroforestry is a significant source of local commodities, such as timber and fruit, and fodder for livestock. With proper development, it says, agroforestry could help solve poverty, hunger and land degradation. 

Gerard Buttoud, professor of forest policy and governance at Tuscia University in Viterbo, Italy and a key consultant to the FAO on developing the guidelines, explained how agroforestry is a good system for improving production at the local level.

“Because it looks to optimizing the agricultural production and the environmental benefits through the combination of annual crops and perennial plants. It maximizes the production on the long run because it produces food under the trees. The trees are used as a means to sustain the land and thus to sustain the production on the long run. Also, agroforestry is a very good system to both mitigate and adapt to climate change because as a complex system it minimizes the risk.” 

Buttoud said it is important to have a framework in which to promote agroforestry properly.

“There are many barriers to the development of agroforestry. Such as for instance, the fact that there is a general emphasis on industrial agriculture. Basically when we speak about agricultural policy, we think about mono-specific policy, market oriented, using a lot of fertilizers and so on. This is not the way that agroforestry may be defined. Then there is an ignorance of the advantages of agroforestry because over the last although some had fought during the last 30 years, the success stories are not well known. Then there is an unclear status of land and tree resources, because sometimes, especially in developing countries, the status of the land is not clarified.” 

Buttoud explained these success stories take different forms and the benefits of agroforestry depend on the land of a particular area. “You have two big categories of agroforestry systems. The first is a natural one. It is what we call the parklands. For instance, all of the area in the southern part of the Sahara, in Africa, from west to east, is conserved by this agroforestry system we call parklands. It’s a natural forest that’s been cleared progressively but used for agriculture also. So there is a selection of the tree spaces, and a selection of the crops which are carried out, also in association with grazing, and these parklands are remarkably stable, even in the process of desertification, for instance. It is one of the barriers of desertification.” 

Buttoud also provided insight into another use of agroforestry. “Opposite to this you have artificial plantations. Introduction of trees into farms, which were developed especially in the regions which were more close to the tropics, I would say, where the water is available. It consists of plantations on lines so that the trees may be able to maintain the soil and also produce food and other services. So you have many different categories of agroforestry and the success stories are all over the world, I would say.” 

Buttoud gave an example of a success story in Africa. “For instance, the Arabic gum in Sudan for the first category of parklands was developed through strong demand from the market to have this kind of product. This resulted into a development of agroforestry which was really productive even in terms of money in this part of Africa. Then if you look at the situation in some countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Cameroon, there are a lot of agroforestry systems which were developed recently which introduced trees into the farm.” 

For the farmer, Buttoud said the benefit comes from maintaining the soil so it can continuously produce crops for a long period of time.


Cancer breakthrough: Grape seed extract kills colorectal cancer cells

February 05, 2013 by: Sherry Baker

(NaturalNews) Cancer researchers are working to find chemotherapies that destroy cancer cells but are harmless to normal cells. It turns out, a natural substance already exists that does just that. University of Colorado Cancer Center scientists have just published a study in the journal Cancer Letters that shows grape seed extract (GSE) is a powerful weapon against colorectal cancer. It halts the growth and survival of colorectal cancer cells and kills them in large numbers, too, while leaving healthy cells completely alone.

And the news about GSE gets better: the more advanced the colorectal cancer cells, the more GSE shuts down the malignant cells' growth and survival. The scientists think that GSE targets colorectal cancer by causing oxidative stress that leads to the programmed cell death known as apoptosis.

"We've known for quite a while that the bioactive compounds in grape seed extract selectively target many types of cancer cells. This study shows that many of the same mutations that allow colorectal cancer cells to metastasize and survive traditional therapies make them especially sensitive to treatment with GSE," Molly Derry, doctoral candidate in the lab of Rajesh Agarwal, PhD, investigator at the CU Cancer Center and professor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, said in a press statement.

Derry pointed out that the GSE findings are especially important due to the increasing rates of colorectal cancer. Unfortunately, 60 percent of patients diagnosed with this form of cancer have already reached the advanced stage of the disease.

As the research team performed their experiments on colorectal cancer cell lines representing all stages of the disease, they came up with another startling finding. Although it usually takes much more chemotherapy to kill a stage IV cancer cell than a stage II cancer cell, the exact opposite was true when it came to grape seed extract.

"It required less than half the concentration of GSE to suppress cell growth and kill 50 percent of stage IV cells than it did to achieve similar results in the stage II cells," Derry revealed in a media statement.

"A colorectal cancer cell can have upwards of 11,000 genetic mutations -- differences from the DNA in healthy cells. Traditional chemotherapies may only target a specific mutation and as cancer progresses more mutations occur. These changes can result in cancer that is resistance to chemotherapy. In contrast, the many bioactive compounds of GSE are able to target multiple mutations. The more mutations a cancer presents, the more effective GSE is in targeting them," Derry added.

The Agarwal Lab studies the effectiveness and action of dietary compounds against cancer and is encouraging further exploration of their findings in clinical settings with patients. "Finding a way to selectively target advanced colorectal cancer cells could have major clinical importance," Derry stated.

As NaturalNews previously reported, researchers from the University of Kentucky have also conducted groundbreaking research into the anti-cancer properties of grape seed extract. They found the natural substance triggered the death of 76 percent of leukemia cells exposed to the extract in a laboratory experiment. Their study, published Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, showed that grape seed extract triggered the destruction of leukemia cells by apparently "turning on" a protein known as JNK that regulates the cancer cell killing pathway.


About the author:
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA's "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine's "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic's "Men's Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.

Learn more: 

Resveratrol could cure blindness

February 07, 2013 by: Ethan A. Huff

(NaturalNews) The cure for age-related macular degeneration and blindness could be as simple as taking a natural supplement extract derived from common grape skins. A recent review that the medical establishment refuses to publish has revealed that a unique and proprietary nutraceutical extract containing resveratrol could hold the key to literally curing age-related blindness, as hundreds of patients with macular degeneration have already experienced substantial and even full healing in recent months as a result of taking it.

The formula is officially known as Longevinex, and patients everywhere with macular degeneration are scrambling to give it a try following the recent release of news reports highlighting what appears to be the supplement's miraculous ability to reverse and heal blindness. One Las Vegas woman says she regained her eyesight in just five days as a result of taking Longevinex, according to 8 News Now, and many others have experienced similar results in a relatively short period of time taking the supplement.

"It's anti-inflammatory, it's an anti-depressant, it's anti-virus, anti-fungal and antibacterial in one pill. How many drugs would this molecule replace?" asks Bill Sardi, owner of Resveratrol Partners, LLC, the company that produces Longevinex. Sardi admits he is enthused about his product's ability to offer real results for patients in need, but laments the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continue to muzzle him and other supplement manufacturers from telling their customers and the public about how these types of products can improve health without causing harmful side effects.

"We can't say that vitamin C cures scurvy. We can't say vitamin D cures rickets. The FDA has a muzzle over what's obvious," he added.

Longevinex provides healing for 16 out of 17 patients at VA hospital

So how well does Longevinex actually perform in a clinical setting? According to Dr. Stuart Richer, a physician who treats aging military veterans at a Veteran's Affairs hospital in Chicago, the natural product has been successful in treating and reversing vision loss in more than 94 percent of his patients who have tried it. But because his hospital is reluctant to support the product, and the current regulatory climate still hostile to natural healing treatments, Dr. Richer typically has to recommend Longevinex to his patients outside the typical prescription process.

"We found unexpected improvement of the vision, short-term improvement that was sometimes dramatic," explained Dr. Richer to the media about the demonstrable benefits of resveratrol. "The majority of the time, two-thirds, we see an improvement of the vision function. Sometimes we see dramatic restoration of the architecture of the retina."

Dr. Richer conducted his own review on the successes of Longevinex, and he has tried on numerous occasions to get it published. But according to reports, he has thus far been unable to find a medical journal willing to print it. However, those interested in learning more about Longevinex and how it might be able to benefit them and their loved ones can check out the company's website to learn more: http://www.longevinex.com/

Sources for this article include:

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How to beat recurring UTIs without prescription drugs

February 08, 2013 by: Ethan A. Huff

(NaturalNews) Conventional medicine has little to offer in the way of treating chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs) other than to prescribe heavy doses of antibiotic drugs and perhaps recommend that patients get more rest. But oftentimes these commonplace methods are not enough to provide lasting relief, and in the case of antibiotics; may actually make the problem worse. For many UTI patients, a combination of dietary changes and supplementation, not more drugs, is what is actually needed to achieve real relief from this persistent and oftentimes painful condition.

Here are seven alternative ways to fight back against recurring UTIs without the need for even more prescription drugs:

1) Get plenty of vitamin D. There is no shortage of health conditions that can be remedied by increased vitamin D, and UTIs are no exception. A 2011 study published in the journal PLoS One found that vitamin D helps increase production of special antimicrobial peptides in the body that ward off bacteria, fungi, and viruses, including those implicated in triggering UTIs. Researchers from Sweden found that boosting vitamin D levels, which can be achieved through supplementation with vitamin D3 or regular exposure to natural sunlight or ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from tanning bed bulbs, is an effective way to both prevent and treat chronic UTIs. (http://www.naturalnews.com)

2) Take cranberry. Numerous studies over the years have found that eating cranberries or drinking cranberry juice regularly can help prevent the bacteria and other pathogens responsible for causing UTIs from taking hold inside the body. One of the more recent studies to come to this conclusion, which was published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine back in 2012, revealed that UTI patients who regularly drink cranberry juice are nearly 40 percent less likely than those who do not drink it to develop UTIs such as cystitis. (http://www.npr.org)

3) Supplement with D-mannose. A naturally-occurring, healthy sugar compound found in cranberries, D-mannose is another powerful weapon in the fight against UTIs. Believed to be the primary active ingredient in cranberries, isolated D-mannose is up to 50 times stronger than cranberries at targeting UTIs, which means it may even be a preferred treatment method over just cranberries alone. D-mannose not only helps prevent harmful bacteria from accumulating in your urinary tract, but it also nourishes the beneficial bacteria in your intestinal tract, which further deters UTI-causing pathogens from forming. (http://www.integrativehealthreview.com)

4) Avoid excess carbohydrate intake. If you are serious about ending the reign of UTI terror in your life, you may need to cut back on your carbohydrate intake. White bread, pasta, cookies, crackers, and other common snack and "comfort" foods are typically high in simple carbohydrates and refined sugar, both of which fuel the bacteria and fungi responsible for causing UTIs. The common yeast overgrowth Candida albicans, for instance, which can lead to outbreaks of thrush, thrives in high-sugar environments, and many other UTI infections feed off sugar and carbohydrates.

5) Drink baking soda mixed with water. One thing in particular that these bacteria and fungi do not like; however, is a high-alkaline environment. And drinking baking soda, or bicarbonate of soda, mixed with water at the first sign of a UTI attack can quickly neutralize your urine and kill any bacteria living in it. Mixing as little as one tablespoon of baking soda into water and drinking it several times throughout the day can treat minor UTIs and prevent them from spreading. Drinking this same solution can also help with general health maintenance and disease prevention, as its alkalizing properties create conditions inside the body that are unfit for the survival of viruses, bacteria, and fungi. (http://www.naturalnews.com)

6) Take herbal antiseptics like uva ursi and dandelion leaf. A common treatment option employed by naturopaths and herbalists, herbal antiseptics like uva ursi and dandelion leaf are another effective way to treat and prevent UTIs. Uva ursi, an herb also known as bearberry, has been extensively studied and shown to promote renal circulation, stimulate tubular function, and ultimately maintain a healthy urinary tract, particularly in conjunction with alkaline-forming foods. Similarly, dandelion leaf has been shown to increase urine flow and help cleanse the urinary tract, particularly when taken in conjunction with uva ursi. (http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21411)

7) Supplement with probiotics. The Langone Medical Center at New York University (NYU) recommends supplementing with living probiotics to help prevent UTIs, and particularly those originating in the bladder. Based on the results of a double-blind trial involving 453 women who experienced regular and recurring bladder infections, probiotic blends containing a unique and harmless strain of Escherichia Coli (E. coli) were found to be especially effective at treating and curing UTIs, with a reported success rate of about 34 percent.

Sources for this article include:

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Best foods to halt chronic arthritis pain

February 08, 2013 by: PF Louis

(NaturalNews) Using pharmaceutical drugs, whether prescribed or over-the-counter (OTC), for reducing chronic arthritic pain may seem like the only solution at first. But over time, health damaging side effects accrue even if unnoticed at first.

There are foods that reduce inflammatory pain in addition to a plethora of natural herbal remedies.

Turmeric: Turmeric has been clinically tested for its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties extensively over the past couple of decades. It has even earned kudos from within the medical establishment. It matches or surpasses OTC and prescribed medications for handling arthritic inflammation.

This herb is used mostly as a spice with food. But the best way to consume turmeric easily on a daily basis and get the most bio-available form of its active ingredient, curcumin, is mixing it with fats and heating. It's also the most economical approach.

One prescribed method for maximizing the bio-availability of turmeric's active ingredient curcumin, is a teaspoon of turmeric and a teaspoon of coconut oil heated in a small amount of milk with black pepper. (http://www.naturalnews.com/028556_turmeric_anti-inflammatory.html)

Raw apple cider vinegar (ACV): Raw means unpasteurized. It should also be unfiltered, retaining its "mother" as sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Bragg's raw, unfiltered ACV is a popular brand common to all health food stores.

Raw ACV's acidity is, like lemons and limes, alkaline producing as it's processed in the body's pH balancing buffer system. Always shake the bottle to mix in the "mother" and pour out a tablespoon or two into four to eight ounces of purified water.

Simply drink it alone two to three times daily as an anti-inflammatory for ACV's malic acid to rinse away the uric acid crystals within your inflamed joints. (http://www.naturalnews.com).

Ironically, consuming it before each meal boosts the level of stomach acid to improve digestion. Then it produces blood alkalinity as the pH buffer synthesizes it.

Cherries: A half dozen a day helps keep the inflammation and pain away. Here's what Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, has to say about cherries. (http://www.naturalnews.com/026091_cherries_gout.html)

Pineapple: This delicious fruit contains a lot of anti-inflammatory bromelain, mostly in the pineapple's core. You may not consider the core edible, but it can be juiced easily. Avoid GMO pineapples. It seems Hawaii is inundated with GMO pineapples now.

Mexican pineapples are not GMO contaminated. You can manage with non-organic pineapples. They are not part of the "dirty dozen" of most heavily sprayed produce; pineapples are among the "clean 15." (http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/)

Omega-3 foods: The outrageously imbalanced ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids in the standard American diet (SAD) accounts for much of America's inflammatory disease problems.

Consider cutting back on processed hydrogenated Omega-6 oils that dominate junk and processed foods. Use only cold pressed non-hydrogenated oils for salad dressings and cooking. Then raise your Omega-3 oil consumption.

Animal based Omega-3 are considered the most directly bio-available. This includes fish or krill oils and eggs from free grazing pasture hens. It's also available with meats from humanely treated grass fed cattle.

Plant based Omega-3 has to go through a conversion process that dwindles a bit as we get older. But they can still be used in conjunction with animal Omega-3 sources to ensure we're not Omega-3 deficient.

They are avocado, flax seeds (ground and immediately consumed), chia seeds and hemp seeds, which don't need to be ground into powders. Flax seed and hemp seed oils are costly and can easily go rancid - be picky with those.

Ginger: This root tonic herb is also a terrific anti-inflammatory agent. Much more about it here: http://www.naturalnews.com/033562_ginger_health_remedy.html

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Biocontrol Research On Brazilian Peppertree in Florida Discovers New Cryptic Species

Feb. 6, 2013 — Dr Michael Pogue, a Research Entomologist in the ARS Systematic Entomology Laboratory, at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, was sent a series of moth specimens from Bahia, Brazil, for identification. The insects were under consideration as a possible biocontrol agent for the invasive Brazilian peppertree in Florida.

'The species was initially identified as a common species, but when comparisons were made, it became evident that there were multiple species involved' said Dr. Pogue. Using characters from the moths' male and female genitalia, Dr. Pogue determined that the so-called 'common' species actually consisted of six new species, plus two described species.

Brazilian peppertree is one of the most damaging invasive species in Florida. Originally introduced as an ornamental plant into Florida at least three times in the mid- to late 1800's, it has since invaded a number of habitats throughout southern and central Florida. In addition to this new biocontrol species, two other species (one new) native to Florida also feed on Brazilian peppertree. The potential biocontrol species had been described previously, but the remaining five new species were described in the present study inZooKeys.

'What was interesting about this identification was the discovery of so many new species', said Dr Pogue. 'The wing pattern was similar among these species, but their reproductive systems were quite different'. 'It became obvious that multiple cryptic species were involved only when these dissections were made.'

Cryptic species complexes can be confusing and require proper careful assessment of morphological or molecular characters in order to allow for identifications.
This picture shows the newly discovered Paectes longiformis species, male (top) and female (bottom). (Credit: Dr. Michael Pogue)

Journal Reference:
Michael Pogue. A review of the Paectes arcigera species complex (Guenée) (Lepidoptera, Euteliidae).ZooKeys, 2013; 264 (0): 126 DOI:10.3897/zookeys.264.3274


Pest Uses Plant Hairs for Protection: Trichomes Save Insect from Beetle Predation

Feb. 5, 2013 — Everyone needs to eat. But it's a dog-eat-dog world, and with the exception of the top predators, everyone also gets eaten. To cope with this vicious reality, a tiny insect that eats plants has learned to employ the plant's hairs for physical protection from its beetle predator.

The pest is called the cycad aulacaspis scale, and its invasion into numerous countries in recent years has caused immeasurable loss of biodiversity. Cycads belong to an ancient lineage of plants that date to the dinosaur era, and the pest requires a cycad plant for food. The insect's recent invasion to the island of Guam has endangered the island's endemic cycad species. Local biologists introduced a voracious beetle predator to the island to eat the scale insects, but the plant damage by the pest has persisted.

"We began looking into the reasons that the beetle was failing to control the pest, and discovered that the pest could crawl between the plant's trichomes to reach its feeding sites," said UOG Professor Thomas Marler. Trichomes are what biologists call the hairs that can be found on many plant leaves and stems. Unfortunately, the much larger beetle predator could not make the same journey through the trichomes to feed on the scale insects that were feeding on the plant beneath the trichomes.

Plant hairs serve several functions, and one of those functions is to protect the plant from insects. "The glitch in this situation was that the insect that was excluded by the plant hairs was our beneficial insect that eats the scale pest, and the insect that could just walk straight through the hairs was the very pest we wished to control," said Marler.

Insects that eat plants have adopted numerous strategies to avoid getting eaten. One of those strategies is to co-opt one of the tactics that plants effectively use to avoid getting eaten. For example, plants produce a plethora of chemicals that taste bad or serve as a poison to herbivores. These chemicals are effective in deterring the feeding of most general insect herbivores. A well-studied practice by some specialist insects is their predilection to consume these plant poisons, sequester those poisons into parts of their body, then exploit the poisons for their own protection.

"Here we find another example of how an herbivore insect can be confronted with a plant's behavior that helps reduce the likelihood of being eaten, then take advantage of that behavior by using it for the same purpose," said Marler. This particular plant-pest-predator relationship has drawn the attention of biologists in the Western Pacific Tropical Research Center at the University of Guam because this pest is threatening cycad populations in other countries. Lessons learned on Guam may benefit cycad conservationists in those other countries. Marler's research appears in the November issue of the journalPlant Signaling and Behavior.
The numerous tan-colored plant hairs produced by this cycad plant protect the cycad aulacaspis scale insect from being eaten by a beetle predator. (Credit: University of Guam file photograph.)

Journal Reference:
Thomas E. Marler. Boomeranging in structural defense: Phytophagous insect uses cycad trichomes to defend against entomophagy. Plant Signaling & Behavior, 2012; 7 (11): 1484 DOI: 10.4161/psb.22013


Biodiversity Helps Protect Nature Against Human Impacts

Feb. 6, 2013 — "You don't know what you've got 'til it's collapsed." That's how University of Guelph integrative biologists might recast a line from an iconic folk tune for their new research paper warning about the perils of ecosystem breakdown.

Their research, published February 6 as the cover story in Nature, suggests farmers and resource managers should not rely on seemingly stable but vulnerable single-crop monocultures. Instead they should encourage more kinds of plants in fields and woods as a buffer against sudden ecosystem disturbance.

Based on a 10-year study, their paper also lends scientific weight to esthetic and moral arguments for maintaining species biodiversity.

The study was written by Profs. Andrew MacDougall and Kevin McCann, graduate student Gabriel Gellner and Roy Turkington, a botany professor and member of the Biodiversity Research Centre at the University of British Columbia.

Their research confirms that having lots of species in an area helps ecosystems avoid irreversible collapse after human disturbances such as climate change or pest invasion.

"Species are more important than we think," said MacDougall. "We need to protect biodiversity."

Unlike other scientists usually relying on short-term, artificial study plots, the researchers studied long-standing pasture grasslands on southern Vancouver Island for 10 years. The 10-hectare site owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada consists of oak savannah where fires have been suppressed for about 150 years.

The team selectively burned plots to compare areas of mostly grasses with areas of mixed grasses and diverse native plants.

They found that seemingly stable grassland plots collapsed in one growing season and were subsequently invaded by trees. More diverse sites resisted woody plant invasion.

Diversity also affected fire itself. More diverse areas had less persistent ground litter, making high-intensity fires less likely to recur than in single-species grasslands with more litter serving as fuel.

MacDougall said the study supports resource management strategies that increase biodiversity on land and in aquatic ecosystems. A monoculture stand of trees or crops might appear stable and productive, for example -- but it's an ecosystem that is more vulnerable to collapse, he said, adding that this study helps explain why species diversity matters.

McCann, who studies food webs and ecosystem stability, said many ecosystems are at a "tipping point," including grasslands that may easily become either woodlands or deserts.

"They're a really productive ecosystem that produces year in and year out and seems stable and then suddenly a major perturbation happens, and all of that biodiversity that was lost earlier is important now," said McCann.

MacDougall has studied the Vancouver Island site since 2000. European settlers planted grasslands there in the mid-1800s.
Single-crop monoculture of corn. "You don't know what you've got 'til it's collapsed." That's how integrative biologists might recast a line from an iconic folk tune for their new research paper warning about the perils of ecosystem breakdown. Their research suggests farmers and resource managers should not rely on seemingly stable but vulnerable single-crop monocultures. Instead they should encourage more kinds of plants in fields and woods as a buffer against sudden ecosystem disturbance. (Credit: © rsooll / Fotolia)

Journal Reference:
A. S. MacDougall, K. S. McCann, G. Gellner, R. Turkington. Diversity loss with persistent human disturbance increases vulnerability to ecosystem collapse. Nature, 2013; 494 (7435): 86 DOI:10.1038/nature11869


Zinc Helps Against Infection by Tapping Brakes in Immune Response

Feb. 7, 2013 — New research suggests that zinc helps control infections by gently tapping the brakes on the immune response in a way that prevents out-of-control inflammation that can be damaging and even deadly.

Scientists determined in human cell culture and animal studies that a protein lures zinc into key cells that are first-responders against infection. The zinc then interacts with a process that is vital to the fight against infection and by doing so helps balance the immune response.

This study revealed for the first time that zinc homes in on this pathway and helps shut it down, effectively ensuring that the immune response does not spiral out of control. The team led by Ohio State University researchers also found that if there is not enough zinc available at the time of infection, the consequences include excessive inflammation.

In this research, zinc's activity was studied in the context of sepsis, a devastating systemic response to infection that is a common cause of death in intensive-care unit patients. But scientists say these findings might also help explain why taking zinc tablets at the start of a common cold appears to help stem the effects of the illness.

"We do believe that to some extent, these findings are going to be applicable to other important areas of disease beyond sepsis," said Daren Knoell, senior author of the study and a professor of pharmacy and internal medicine at Ohio State. "Without zinc on board to begin with, it could increase vulnerability to infection. But our work is focused on what happens once you get an infection -- if you are deficient in zinc you are at a disadvantage because your defense system is amplified, and inappropriately so.

"The benefit to health is explicit: Zinc is beneficial because it stops the action of a protein, ultimately preventing excess inflammation."

While this study and previous work linking zinc deficiency to inflammation might suggest that supplementation could help very sick ICU patients, it's still too early to make that leap.

"I think the question is whom to give zinc to, if anybody at all. We predict that not everybody in the ICU with sepsis needs zinc, but I anticipate that a proportion of them would," Knoell said. "Zinc is a critical element that we get from our diet, but we do not think we can give zinc and fix everything. Usually, if there is zinc deficiency, we would expect to see other nutrient deficiencies, too."

Zinc deficiency affects about 2 billion people worldwide, including an estimated 40 percent of the elderly in the United States -- who are also among the most likely Americans to end up in an ICU.

The research is published in the journal Cell Reports.

Knoell's lab previously showed that zinc-deficient mice developed overwhelming inflammation in response to sepsis compared to mice on a normal diet. Zinc supplementation improved outcomes in the zinc-deficient mice.

Until now, the beneficial effects of zinc in combating infection have not been fully understood at the molecular level. This is because zinc has numerous complex jobs in the body and interacts with thousands of proteins to sustain human life. Of all the zinc contained in our bodies, only about 10 percent of it is readily accessible to help fight off an infection, said Knoell, also an investigator in Ohio State's Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute.

"We believe that our findings help to narrow an important gap that has existed in our understanding of how this relatively simple metal helps us defend ourselves from infection," he said.

In this work, Knoell and colleagues sought to zero in on zinc's role in preventing the inflammation that had led to such poor outcomes in the zinc-deficient mice.

In experiments using human monocytes -- cells involved in the first line of defense against an invading pathogen -- the researchers examined what happens when the immune response is launched.

When a pathogen is recognized, a series of molecules wake up from dormancy to create a process that activates the innate immune response. A major part of this process involves the NF-κB pathway, named for a highly active protein that is known to play an important role in the immune response to infection. Once NF-κB is activated and enters the nucleus, a gene is expressed that produces a zinc transporter called ZIP8. The transporter then rapidly mobilizes to the cell's wall, where it can then shuttle zinc from the bloodstream into the cell.

After cell entry, zinc is then directed to and binds to a different protein in the NF-κB pathway. When this happens, it halts any further activity in that process. The cumulative impact of this feedback loop is that it prevents excessive inflammation, which can be damaging to cells and the body.

"The immune system has to work under very strict balance, and this is a classic example of where more is not always better," Knoell said. "We want a robust inflammatory response, which is part of our natural programming to defend us against a bug. But if that is unchecked, and there is too much inflammation, then it not only attacks the pathogen but can also cause much more collateral damage."

The researchers knew from previously published experiments that if ZIP8 activation was prevented, zinc couldn't come into the cell and the cells died. In the current study, collaborators who specialize in computational modeling of protein interactions helped identify the likely target of zinc once it enters the cell: specific binding sites on a protein called IKKB. When researchers allowed this protein to function unchecked in mice with zinc deficiency, the animals developed excessive inflammation in response to sepsis -- confirmation that IKKB was zinc's target to turn off the inflammatory pathway.

"There are certainly other zinc targets in the cell, but we found evidence that zinc is brought in by ZIP8 to turn the pathway off by interacting with this protein at a specific region," Knoell said.

The recommended daily allowance for zinc ranges from 8 to 11 milligrams for most adults. Red meat and poultry provide the majority of zinc in the American diet, according to the National Institutes of Health. Other food sources include beans, nuts, some shellfish, whole grains, fortified cereals and dairy products. The nutrient is also available in supplement form. Knoell said it is possible but relatively uncommon to take in too much zinc to reach toxic levels.

His lab is continuing to study the NF-κB pathway, inflammation and zinc deficiency in other disease processes. And though zinc would be inexpensive and easy to take as a supplement, Knoell said many questions remain about whether zinc should be considered as an intervention for specific disorders.

"There might be therapeutic implications about giving supplemental zinc in a strategic manner to help improve some people with certain conditions. But also, could we learn from this so someday we can be more diagnostic about who it is that needs zinc? And if so, what dose and for how long?" he said.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Lifeline of Ohio Tissue Procurement Agency.

Co-authors include Ming-Jie Liu, Shengying Bao, Charlie Pyle, Andrew Rudawsky and Mark Wewers of the Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute; Marina Gálvez-Peralta and Daniel Nebert of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center; Ryan Pavlovicz and Chenglong Li of Ohio State's Biophysics Program (Li is also in the College of Pharmacy); and David Killilea of Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute.


Nutricionista analisa a produção agroecológica e orgânica no Brasil

Autora do livro “Alimentos Orgânicos”, um dos mais completos sobre o tema no Brasil e que acabou de ser reeditado, a nutricionista Elaine Azevedo explica as questões que envolvem uma alimentação saudável. Em entrevista à Articulação Nacional de Agroecologia (ANA) ela aborda, não só do ponto de vista nutricional, a diferença dos alimentos produzidos com insumos químicos para os produzidos em bases ecológicas.

Segundo a estudiosa, é preciso analisar toda a rede de produção, levando em consideração as questões de saúde e econômicas, dentre outras, para entender o que é mais interessante para o consumo humano de alimentos. Nada pode ser desconsiderado, como o meio ambiente, e é com essa visão que ela defende a produção orgânica e agroecológica. Para ela, é muito importante, inclusive do ponto de vista econômico, a valorização da alimentação local e das feiras da agricultura familiar.
Como surgiu a ideia de realizar a pesquisa do livro Alimentos Orgânicos, e quais são as principais teses levantadas por ele?

O livro é produto de minha atuação como professora e nutricionista interessada em orgânicos, e começou a ser escrito no início do ano 2000. É a terceira edição, lançada agora por uma editora com maior inserção e visibilidade no mercado nacional. Além de abordar a relação entre saúde, alimentos e agricultura e a polêmica questão da qualidade dos orgânicos e do papel do consumidor nesse circuito comercial (e político) – primeira ideia do livro – foram introduzidas discussões, resultado das minhas pesquisas de mestrado e doutorado na Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC). No mestrado em Agroecossistemas abordei a relação entre qualidade de vida e agricultura familiar orgânica, a partir de um estudo que se debruçou sobre agricultores familiares no interior de Santa Catarina que optaram pela proposta da Agricultura Orgânica. O estudo de caso ajudou a elucidar a complexidade das relações das pesquisas sobre qualidade de vida no meio rural, ao mesmo tempo em que evidenciou a prática da Agricultura Familiar Orgânica como uma estratégia eficaz na promoção de qualidade de vida e de valores sociais nesse meio. O doutorado na Sociologia Política teve como objetivo central analisar as controvérsias sobre riscos e benefícios envolvidos no processo de construção social do conceito de alimento saudável com dois focos inseparáveis: os riscos e os benefícios à saúde e ao meio ambiente. 

Qual o cenário dos orgânicos no Brasil, levando em consideração notícias que informam o crescimento do agronegócio no país?

Primeiro é bom enfatizar que essa dicotomia (agronegócio e agricultura orgânica) é muito frágil. O agronegócio não está preocupado em PRODUZIR OS ALIMENTOS PARA O CONSUMO DOS BRASILEIROS ou em promover segurança alimentar e nutricional, mas é uma dinâmica de caráter econômico que objetiva a concentração de capital pelas oligarquias transnacionais que predominam no setor. A agricultura orgânica - especialmente aquela vinculada a agricultura familiar - é quem assume essas preocupações, junto com a agricultura familiar "convencional". O interesse nos orgânicos continua a crescer em todo o Brasil, a consciência do consumidor aumenta e cada vez mais a população busca esse tipo de alimentos em feiras e lojas especializadas, tendência que aparece em vários países do mundo. 

Recentemente foram divulgadas notícias afirmando que os orgânicos não são mais nutritivos que os alimentos convencionais e, portanto, não possuem grandes vantagens. É verdade?

A pergunta primeira é verdade – os orgânicos não têm MAIOR valor nutricional que os convencionais; têm MELHOR valor nutricional devido ao equilíbrio na quantidade de nutrientes esperada para cada espécie. A segunda resposta vai depender do que se considera vantagem. Qual a real vantagem de um alimento com alto valor nutricional contaminado com agrotóxicos, fertilizantes químicos, aditivos sintéticos, drogas veterinárias, sementes transgênicas e produtos radiolíticos cuja produção contamina o nosso ar, a nossa água, o nosso solo, destrói nossas florestas? E ainda desequilibra o clima, e expulsa do meio rural os poucos agricultores que ainda se mantém na árdua tarefa de produzir comida para o meio urbano nesse país. Resumindo: o conceito de valor nutricional é muito reducionista para definir o que é um alimento realmente saudável para nós e para o meio ambiente.

Quais são as principais diferenças, do ponto de vista nutricional, entre alimentos produzidos no sistema agroquímico e os produzidos seguindo o enfoque agroecológico e as técnicas da agricultura orgânica? Há benefícios para a saúde relacionados ao consumo de alimentos orgânicos e agroecológicos?

Os alimentos orgânicos e ecológicos têm maior teor de minerais, pois provêm de um solo equilibrado, e maior teor de fotoquímicos, além de um equilíbrio nos outros nutrientes. Na verdade os orgânicos têm a quantidade de minerais esperada para cada cultura; quem tem de menos são os convencionais.

Há muitos estudos que relacionam os contaminantes acima mencionados com diversos tipos de doenças (alguns tipos de câncer, Parkinson; dermatoses, alergias, esterilidade em adultos; doenças neurológicas e respiratórias, etc). Então espera-se que se NÃO ingerimos esses contaminantes podemos prevenir algumas dessas disfunções. Precisamos de estudos de longo prazo que relacionem consumo de orgânicos e saúde dentro de um contexto de vida saudável, pois não é só a dieta que promove saúde e qualidade de vida.

Como os nutricionistas enxergam os agrotóxicos e os transgênicos na produção de alimentos?

De forma geral, os Conselhos Federal e Estaduais de Nutrição estimulam o consumo de orgânicos e são favoráveis a rotulagem e a pesquisa mais aprofundada dos transgênicos. Os nutricionistas da área de Saúde Pública estão mais conscientes da importância de controlar o consumo dos agrotóxicos e dos transgênicos devido às recentes discussões das Políticas de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional e da Política Nacional de Alimentação Escolar, que promovem os alimentos orgânicos e ecológicos de origem familiar. Os nutricionistas funcionais também estão atentos a essa abordagem. A área clínica ainda me parece a mais distante dessa discussão, uma vez que os cursos de Nutrição nas universidades ainda carecem de professores capacitados para abordar esses conteúdos.
Em vários estados do país há frutas, legumes, cereais e outros alimentos tipicamente locais, que não estão nas grandes redes de supermercado. Qual sua opinião sobre essa padronização nutricional?

Para falar disso transcrevo aqui um texto que foi publicado recentemente no Portal Orgânico. Os alimentos orgânicos podem - e devem - ser discutidos na perspectiva de outro importante conceito: o de alimento local. Isso porque esses alimentos se relacionam com a noção de territorialidade dos hábitos alimentares, ou seja, levam em conta o contexto cultural de produção de alimentos regionais que fazem com que uma determinada região seja identificada culturalmente pelo tipo de comida ali produzida. Exemplos? Milhões! Uva? Sul do Brasil... Açaí e tapioca? Pará! Cupuaçu? Amazonas; Queijo e goiabada cascão? Minas; Pequi, mangaba, araticum, buriti ou curriola? O cerrado brasileiro. Esses alimentos ajudam na construção da identidade local, além de promover o desenvolvimento sustentável e manter muitas famílias no campo.

Isso só ajuda o desenvolvimento e fortalece a identidade dos lugares. Gilberto Freire já falava que os alimentos locais/ regionais ajudaram a construir a identidade alimentar do povo brasileiro. Um povo que perde essa identidade é muito mais fácil de ser manipulado politicamente. A padronização nutricional é uma forma de desqualificar a nossa própria identidade cultural e uma maneira de valorizar dietas moldadas sob a ótica da predominância econômica, tecnológica e cultural de determinados países.

Além disso, o alimento local é ajustado ao ecossistema e é produzido com menor custo energético e menor uso de insumos. Pensando nos gastos energéticos para produzir alimentos, o jornalista Michael Pollan fala no seu livro "O Dilema do Onívoro" que 7 a 10 calorias de combustíveis fósseis são usados para produzir UMA caloria de energia alimentícia. E somente 1/5 dessas calorias vai para a produção dos alimentos propriamente dita. O restante é destinado para beneficiamento e transporte desses alimentos. Ou seja, gastamos MUITO petróleo e poluímos o ambiente para transportar alimentos produzidos num local para beneficiar outros consumidores longe dali. E mais, um estudo importante da New Economics Foundation, em Londres, mostra que para cada real gasto localmente, gera-se duas vezes mais renda para a economia do lugar; ou seja, comprando de agricultores locais ou de pequenas lojas e mercados da região em vez de grandes redes varejistas e importadoras; a economia desse local se fortalece. Essa é uma ação política da compra de alimentos produzidos perto do consumidor. Então além de ser orgânico, o alimento deve ser produzido perto do mercado consumidor.

Pense: se é ambientalmente sustentável comprar um suco de frutas vermelhas orgânicas produzido na África do Sul que gasta 12.000 km de energia petrolífera para chegar à sua mesa?

As principais críticas feitas aos orgânicos são o preço elevado e a impossibilidade de produção em grande escala. São mitos, ou realmente questões incontornáveis?

Há certa verdade nisso, mas são questões contornáveis. Na produção animal é realmente difícil conseguir a produtividade que as granjas de porcos e galinhas e o confinamento de bovinos conseguem à custa do sofrimento animal e da qualidade das carnes, ovos e leites. Ai entraria outra discussão relacionada à necessidade de diminuir a ingestão de proteína animal para o ser humano contemporâneo. Já na produção vegetal, é possível equiparar a produtividade e há muitos estudos e casos sobre isso em revistas especializadas da Agroecologia e Agricultura Orgânica.

Com relação ao preço, este valor mais caro é algo relativo, já que os orgânicos efetivamente proporcionam maior benefício à saúde. Não só à saúde humana, mas também à saúde do meio ambiente, que, por tabela, também acaba refletindo na saúde humana. Então esse adicional de preço justo – que deve ser justo, e não 100% a mais, ou um preço especulativo – relaciona-se a um alimento de melhor qualidade. Todo e qualquer produto melhor custa mais. A própria lei do mercado está implícita no alimento também. O produto orgânico é mais caro porque tem melhor qualidade. Mas, repito, não pode ser um preço abusivo que torne o alimento elitizado. Como todo produto no mercado, o orgânico vai baratear se houver maior procura. E comprando em feiras e cestas direto do agricultor é possível conseguir preços de alimentos in natura bem próximos dos convencionais. Pra terminar fica uma provocação a essa pergunta: no caso dos alimentos convencionais, que são mais “baratos”: qual o real valor de um alimento barato que promove exclusão social do agricultor familiar, causa doenças e ainda degrada o meio ambiente? É preciso pensar de forma sustentável a médio e longo prazos. Pensando na sua saúde, o que você economiza no seu prato, gasta na farmácia e no hospital.

Que dicas você daria para os consumidores que estão interessados em melhorar a qualidade nutricional das suas dietas?

Comprem orgânicos, carnes frescas, ovos "caipira" e alimentos da época provenientes de agricultores da sua região. Busquem feiras "direto do agricultor", compras solidárias, cooperativas de agricultores ecológicos na sua cidade. Comam mais alimentos frescos, integrais, regionais e pouco processados. Instigue a compra desses alimentos em escolas, restaurantes e mercados. Procurem dedicar mais tempo para preparar iogurtes a partir de leites pasteurizados e não esterilizados que serão adicionados de frutas frescas e cereais integrais; procurem comprar ou fazer pães e bolos caseiros, manteiga em vez de margarinas, compotas caseiras e sucos de frutas com açúcar integral.... Preocupem-se com a origem dos seus alimentos, leiam rótulos, questionem a procedência do que vocês compram. E o mais importante: dediquem TEMPO para esse ato de prazer cotidiano que pode se tornar-se um ato político e socioambiental.

(*) Veja o mapa de feiras orgânicas do Instituto Brasileiro de Defesa do Consumidor (IDEC).