Fatal Fungi

This lethal lineup of mushrooms contains amatoxins, which include alpha, beta, and gamma amanitin. Amatoxin poisoning accounts for more than 90 percent of all deaths resulting from mushroom poisoning worldwide. Part of what makes them so deadly is that they can easily be confused with other, completely edible mushrooms. Death caps, for instance, can look much like straw and Gypsy mushrooms. The various destroying angels can be mistaken for button, meadow, and horse mushrooms. In Cleveland, Gholam recently treated a patient who had eaten a deadly Amanita mushroom he found in his yard after a plant identification app on his phone identified the mushroom as an edible variety. It almost killed him.

The mushrooms’ amatoxins are easily absorbed through the gastrointestinal tracts once they’ve been eaten. From there, the toxins head to the kidneys and, in particular, the liver, which is one of the most important organs in the body for making proteins. Amatoxins work by blocking a key enzyme involved in making new proteins, called RNA polymerase type II. In the liver, blocking this enzyme causes a cascade of trouble that results in cell death and tissue necrosis. While some of the toxin ultimately gets flushed in urine, some gets transported out of the liver with bile acids, where they end up back in the intestines for the process to begin again—in what’s called an enterohepatic cycle.

After ingestion, symptoms only appear six to 24 hours later, once significant damage has accumulated. Then the poisoning proceeds through three distinct phases. First, there’s gastrointestinal distress—marked by excruciating abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and blood in the urine—and can sometimes be accompanied by rapid heartbeat, low blood sugar, and dehydration. All that can last for 12 to 36 hours. Then, there’s the second, “latent” phase, when symptoms quiet down as liver and kidney damage set in at about 72 hours. In this phase, a person may be lulled into thinking they’re in the clear, potentially causing them to decline emergency medical care that could save their life.

In the three-to-five days after ingestion, things go downhill, with abrupt liver and multi-organ failure. Some patients end up needing liver transplants. Fatality rates vary but sometimes range between 10 and 20 percent, though some studies have found higher rates.

There are no specific treatments for amatoxin poisoning.

Ohio foragers are accidentally poisoning themselves with lethal mushrooms — https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/10/ohio-foragers-are-accidentally-poisoning-themselves-with-lethal-mushrooms/

“…a plant identification app on his phone identified the mushroom as an edible variety.”

Go ahead and search for the phrase “mushroom identification app” in your favorite search engine.

Foraging for wild mushrooms is a perfect example of you don’t know what you don’t know even if an app on your phone leads to believe you know.

Unhealthful Eating – Pandemic Style

Mindless eating and snacking;

Increased food consumption;

Generalized decrease in appetite or dietary intake;

Eating to cope;

Pandemic-related reductions in dietary intake;

And, a re-emergence or marked increase in eating disorder symptoms.

Approximately 8% of those studied reported extreme unhealthy weight control behaviors, 53% had less extreme unhealthy weight control behaviors and 14% reported binge eating. The study revealed that these outcomes were significantly associated with poorer stress management, greater depressive symptoms and moderate or extreme financial difficulties.

University of Minnesota Medical School. “COVID-19 pandemic has been linked with six unhealthy eating behaviors: Study shows a slight increase in eating disorders, one of the deadliest psychiatric health concerns.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210412114740.htm (accessed May 1, 2021).

Pandemic or no pandemic at times I am guilty of number one on the list. I found the absolute best pita crackers, crispy and salty, and…

Factors associated with food choice among long-term weight loss maintainers

Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics Notes

My Editor’s Pick for October 2022 is this paper by Jacob Young, Suzanne Phelan, Noemi Alarcon, James Roake, Chad Rethorst and Gary Foster.

One of the biggest problems associated with weight loss protocols for individuals living with obesity is the difficulty of maintaining the lost weight loss. Weight regain is frequently observed following weight loss assisted by pharmacological agents, or dietary change alone. Among individuals who successfully maintain weight loss, success appears to be associated with consistency of intake across all days of the week and a strong ability to consciously control overeating.

In this study the authors accessed weight stable individuals living with obesity following a commercial weight loss programme, and weight loss maintainers (WLM) via the WW Success Registry. The WLM group had all reported a weight loss that was greater than or equal to 9.1 kg for more than a year. 8047 individuals were approached to complete…

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Trends in Consumption of Ultraprocessed Foods (not good news)

The calories that children and adolescents consumed from ultraprocessed foods jumped from 61% to 67% of total caloric intake from 1999 to 2018, according to a new study from researchers at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University. Published August 10, 2021, in JAMA, the study analyzed dietary intake from 33,795 children and adolescents nationwide.

Tufts University. “Ultraprocessed foods now comprise 2/3 of calories in children and teen diets.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/08/210810110955.htm (accessed August 10, 2021).

The largest spike in calories came from such ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat dishes as takeout and frozen pizza and burgers: from 2.2% to 11.2% of calories. The second largest spike in calories came from packaged sweet snacks and desserts, the consumption of which grew from 10.6% to 12.9%.

Frozen pizza and burgers? Is this a problem?

Findings  In this serial cross-sectional study of nationally representative data from 33 795 US youths aged 2-19 years, the estimated percentage of total energy consumed from ultraprocessed foods increased from 61.4% to 67.0%, whereas the percentage of total energy consumed from unprocessed or minimally processed foods decreased from 28.8% to 23.5%.


We are doomed.

E. coli Outbreak with Unknown Food Source – CDC

As of February 1, 2021, a total of 16 people infected with the outbreak strain have been reported from 5 states. This map shows where sick people live.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from December 23, 2020, to January 7, 2021. This chart shows when people got sick. Recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 2 to 4 weeks to link illnesses to an outbreak.

Sick people range in age from 10 to 95 years, with a median age of 31, and 88% are female. Of 12 people with information available, 9 have been hospitalized. Of 11 people with information, 3 developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). One death has been reported from Washington.

Investigation Details — https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2021/o157h7-02-21/details.html

“Unknown food source” bothers me.

Meanwhile From Iran… more Covid-19 Research!

In recent months, nearly all countries tried to decrease human-to-human contact as the principal mode of transmission of SARS-CoV-2. However, other modes of transmission also need to be clarified in more depth, especially, the foodborne transmission. We assessed the effect of animal origin foods consumption on the pandemic of COVID-19. For this purpose, we studied the relationship among 20 food supply as independent variables, and the parameter of Total Cases as dependent variable. Here we show a relationship between a group of animal origin foods and total cases. Regression, Bayes, and Lasso results showed that eggs and fresh water fish have positive coefficient. So, among the transmission ways of COVID_19, the role of foodborne transmission should be more significant than previously thought. The possibility of animal origin foodborne transmission should be taken into more consideration. The perspective is to expand the surveillance of SARS-Cov-2 during the food production chain. In conclusion, the results of the present study indicate that one important vehicle for SARS-Cov2 may be some of animal origin foods. It is recommended that virologists examine the possibility of freshwater fish and chickens eggs being as excellent vehicles/preservatives for SARS-Cov2.

Keen relationship between COVID_19 and food supply suggest some animal origin foods as excellent vehicle of SARS-Cov-2 — https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.16.20132464 This article is a preprint and has not been certified by peer reviewhttps://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.06.16.20132464v5

Seriously people I don’t want you to get the idea I sit around on a Sunday afternoon reading research studies on the preprint server.

OK, maybe this Sunday…


If we want to store virus, we freeze it. So if virus is packed with frozen product then it would survive. We normally talk about less than a week, but we know that the colder it is, the longer it will last

Can frozen or chilled food spread coronavirus? — https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-china-food-factbox/factbox-can-frozen-or-chilled-food-spread-coronavirus-idUSKBN23N1JL


The first person in the cluster to test positive was a woman in her 50s who had been symptomatic for five days. Of the woman’s six family contacts, three also tested positive Tuesday: a baby boy, a woman in her 20s, and her husband, who is thought to be the first to become infected and developed symptoms approximately July 31, according to the The New Zealand Herald. One of the family members works at the lending company Finance Now, and the man works at a facility operated by Americold, an Atlanta, Georgia-based company that transports and stores goods at controlled temperatures. Americold operates in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Argentina, as well as New Zealand.

The infected Americold employee’s job involved handling frozen foods destined for grocery stores and food service companies. He had been on sick leave for nine days at the time that he tested positive, according to Americold NZ Managing Director Richard Winnall, who spoke to the Herald.

New Zealand baffled by new COVID-19 cases, eyes frozen-food packaging — https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/08/new-zealand-baffled-by-new-covid-19-cases-eyes-frozen-food-packaging/

I don’t know why I love connecting the dots so much.

Nearly 39,000 Meat Packers Have COVID-19

As of Sept. 18, there have been at least 39,000 reported positive cases tied to meatpacking facilities in at least 419 plants in 40 states, and at least 185 reported worker deaths in at least 51 plants in 27 states.

Tracking Covid-19’s impact on meatpacking workers and industry — https://investigatemidwest.org/2020/04/16/tracking-covid-19s-impact-on-meatpacking-workers-and-industry/

And in case you missed this interesting hypothesis…

Our laboratory work has shown that SARS-CoV-2 can survive the time and temperatures associated with transportation and storage conditions associated with international food trade. When adding SARS-CoV-2 to chicken, salmon and pork pieces there was no decline in infectious virus after 21 days at 4°C (standard refrigeration) and –20°C (standard freezing).

Seeding of outbreaks of COVID-19 by contaminated fresh and frozen food — https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.08.17.255166 (This article is a preprint and has not been certified by peer review) — https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.08.17.255166v1.full#disqus_thread

I will keep an eye open for other studies that either confirm or dismiss the findings of this study.

Nutrition and Obesity in Covid-19



A healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables and low in sugar and calorie-dense processed foods, is essential to health. The ability to eat a healthy diet is largely determined by one’s access to affordable, healthy foods — a consequence of the conditions and environment in which one lives. In the United States, poor diet is the leading underlying cause of death, having surpassed tobacco use in related mortality.2 A study of dietary trends among U.S. adults between 1999 and 2012 showed overall improvement in the American diet, with the proportion of people who reported having a poor-quality diet decreasing from 55.9% to 45.6%; additional analyses, however, revealed persistent or worsening disparities in nutrition based on race or ethnicity, education, and income level.3

Covid-19 and Disparities in Nutrition and Obesity

Screenshot_2020-07-19 Covid-19 and Disparities in Nutrition and Obesity NEJM


Global efforts to develop treatments for covid-19 have focused on drug repurposing, immunotherapies including convalescent plasma and monoclonal antibodies, and vaccines. Despite obesity prevalence rates of 40% in the United States, 29% in England, and 13% globally, to our knowledge none of the several thousand clinical studies of covid-19 in international clinical trial registries proactively recruit participants with obesity. On the contrary, several studies consider overweight or obesity as exclusion criteria. We call for proportional representation of people with obesity in clinical trials of drugs and vaccines, including dose finding studies.

Obesity and covid-19: the unseen risks

More from The BMJ

Covid-19: What we eat matters all the more now

our food systems are making us ill.11 The covid-19 outbreaks at meat packing plants have focused minds on the meat industry as a driver for acute and chronic disease.12 Last month Monique Tan and colleagues wrote that the food industry should be held partly accountable “not only for the obesity pandemic but also for the severity of covid-19 disease and its devastating consequences.”13 The government must do more to hold the industry to account.

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2840

Lose weight.  Make better food choices.  Wear a mask.




I live with “the world’s most dangerous” eating disorder

I have been struggling with diabulimia on and off since my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in 2011, at age 30. I had just started a PhD and spent the first semester walking around campus with all the classic symptoms of type 1 diabetes: famished, dehydrated, constantly needing to urinate, and experiencing rapid weight loss. After my diabetes diagnosis, when I started injecting insulin, I gained the weight back—and then some. It didn’t take long to figure out that omitting insulin was not only an effective weight loss tool, compared with vomiting, it was a much less violent way to purge. Having a history of bulimia nervosa, I thought I had found the holy grail. I could eat what I wanted, not use insulin, and not gain weight.

And I thought Orthorexia Nervosa was bad.

Nearly 47,000 Meat Packers Have COVID-19 – updated Jan. 2021

As of Jan. 22, there have been at least 45,000 reported positive cases tied to meat and poultry processing facilities from at least 482 outbreaks in 38 states, and at least 240 reported worker deaths in at least 62 plants in 27 states.

MidWest Center for Investigative Reporting

Meanwhile in Oklahoma a few weeks ago…

116 COVID-19 infections found in pork processing plant in Guymon

and in Houston…

Screenshot_2020-06-27 2019 Novel Coronavirus

On June 26th, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo raised the Current Level of Risk for Harris County from Level 2 to Level 1.

Level 1 signifies a severe and uncontrolled level of COVID-19 in Harris County, meaning outbreaks are present and worsening and that testing and contact tracing capacity is strained or exceeded. At this level, residents take action to minimize contacts with others wherever possible and avoid leaving home except for the most essential needs like going to the grocery store for food and medicine.

Regardless of current level indicated, all residents should continue the use of social distancing, frequent hand washing, and the use of face coverings until there is a vaccine or a treatment for the virus. Additionally, residents exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days regardless of level indicated.

My vegetarian cookbook collection is growing.  Grocery trips will include more shelf stable items so that I’ll be able to fix more meat-free meals in the near future.

The acquisition of more cookbooks is a rational strategy.  I’ll need more sources besides the same recipe that shows up multiple times on multiple websites as the best (fill in the blank) for inspiration in the kitchen when the POTUS issues an Executive Order rationing animal proteins.