Eating Too Much Protein Makes Pee a Problem Pollutant In The U.S.

In the U.S., people eat more protein than they need to. And though it might not be bad for human health, this excess does pose a problem for the country’s waterways. The nation’s wastewater is laden with the leftovers from protein digestion: nitrogen compounds that can feed toxic algal blooms and pollute the air and drinking water. This source of nitrogen pollution even rivals that from fertilizers washed off of fields growing food crops, new research suggests.

When we overconsume protein—whether it comes from lentils, supplements or steak—our body breaks the excess down into urea, a nitrogen-containing compound that exits the body via urine and ultimately ends up in sewage. Maya Almaraz, a biogeochemist at the University of California, Davis, and her colleagues wanted to see how much of this nitrogen is being flushed into the U.S. sewage system because of a protein-heavy diet.

The researchers combined population data and previous work on how much excess protein the average American eats and found that the majority of nitrogen pollution present in wastewater—some 67 to 100 percent—is a by-product of what people consume. “We think a lot about sewage nitrogen. We know that’s an issue,” Almaraz says. “But I didn’t know how much of that is actually affected by the choices we’re making way upstream—when we go the grocery store, when we cook a meal and what we end up putting in our bodies.”

Once it enters the environment, the nitrogen in urea can trigger a spectrum of ecological impacts known as the “nitrogen cascade.” Under certain chemical conditions, and in the presence of particular microbes, urea can break down to form gases of oxidized nitrogen. These gases reach the atmosphere, where nitrous oxide (N2O) can contribute to warming via the greenhouse effect and nitrogen oxides (NOx) can cause acid rain.

Other times, algae and cyanobacteria, photosynthetic bacteria also called blue-green algae, feed on urea directly. The nitrogen helps them grow much faster than they would normally, clogging vital water supplies with blooms that can produce toxins that are harmful to humans, other animals and plants. And when the algae eventually die, the problem is not over. Microorganisms that feast on dead algae use up oxygen in the water, leading to “dead zones,” where many aquatic species simply cannot survive, in rivers, lakes and oceans. Blooms from Puget Sound to Tampa, Fla., have caused large fish die-offs.

Although it is possible to treat algal blooms, many of the current methods—such as spraying clay particles or chemicals over the surface of a bloom to kill and sink the algae—are not always effective at eliminating all of the harmful growth. Some of these methods can even lead to additional pollution. So the best strategy for dealing with the effects of nitrogen pollution is prevention, says Patricia Glibert, an oceanographer at the University of Maryland, who was not involved with the new study.

One option for preventing nitrogen from getting into the environment is improving wastewater treatment plants. The technology exists to remove 90 percent of nitrogen from wastewater, but only 1 percent of all U.S. sewage is currently treated this way, partly because the technology is so expensive. Equipping plants in China to remove nitrogen from three quarters of the country’s urban sewage cost more than $20 billion. Almaraz and her team suggest, however, that curbing nitrogen pollution could be approached more quickly with a change in eating habits that could save billions of dollars in the long term.

Their new study, published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, broke down protein requirements by age (adults 50 to 70 years old need the most) for the current U.S. population and projected future populations out to 2055. By midcentury, the country’s population is expected to be larger overall and to have a greater percentage of older people. The researchers calculated the amount of nitrogen that would enter the environment if people ate today’s average American diet and if they instead reduced their protein intake to only what is nutritionally needed.

This shift in diet alone could reduce the amount of nitrogen reaching aquatic ecosystems by 12 percent today and by nearly 30 percent in the future, according to the study’s results. Such a change could also help reduce damaging nitrogen pollution while wastewater infrastructure catches up. “Many people think that we need to all switch to becoming vegetarians. Obviously, that’s not practical. That’s not something that is really ever going to happen,” Glibert says.

Rather than cutting out any foods entirely, she suggests consumers could switch to a “demitarian” diet—an approach that focuses on reducing the consumption of meat and dairy, which currently make up about two thirds of the protein eaten in the U.S. “Enjoy your steak, enjoy your burger but go modest on your meat consumption in your following meal,” she says.

“One cool area that opens up here is how human behavior can influence our environment,” Almaraz says. “I think it can be really empowering to people to understand that, ‘hey, my choices—once those add up with other people making similar choices—can actually have a positive impact.’”

Source: Eating Too Much Protein Makes Pee a Problem Pollutant in the U.S. – Scientific American

Critics by  

Protein buildup in the kidneys creates a much more acidic environment in the kidneys, causing you to have to pee all the time. Increased acid production can also cause problems in the bones and liver. Side effects start with mild dehydration but can lead to the development of kidney stones, which are intensely painful. One interesting note-researchers found that plant and dairy proteins had a much lower negative effect on renal function than nondairy animal protein (meat) did.

high-protein diet might have helped you tone up for summer or get closer to your goal weight, but could it also be contributing to your blue mood? Maybe. Especially if your protein-to-carb ratio is way off base. Carbs run the show in your brain, telling it what to do and how to do it. Carbohydrates are specifically responsible for releasing serotonin-your body’s “feel good” hormone. One study from the American Medical Association on the psychological effects of low-fat and low-carb diets found that people who adhered to a high-protein, high-fat and low-carb diet for a year experienced more anxiety, depression and other negative feelings than those on a low-fat, high-carb, moderate-protein diet.

High-protein diets are often low in fiber-especially when your main protein sources are from animal products-which can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Fiber helps move everything along through your intestines, and it can only be found in plant foods. Simply mixing up your protein intake with foods that deliver both fiber and protein, like whole grains, beans or tempeh, can make a huge impact. Also, try ramping up your fruit and vegetable intake to get way more health benefits than just getting regular again.

Think protecting your body from chronic diseases and weight gain, and keeping your gut healthy, just to name a few. High-protein diets are often praised for helping people drop a dress size or two in as short as a week-but the long-term effects aren’t as desirable. Following a high-protein diet often means eating very few carbs, which isn’t sustainable for most of us in the long run. This can lead to food cravings and less energy to get your morning workout in, and can make you regain the weight you worked so hard to lose.

Sandra Aamodt, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist who has spent years studying the brain-weight link. She told EatingWell, “Don’t do anything to lose weight you’re not willing to do forever.” This is because your brain can certainly adjust its behaviors once you lose the weight, but it needs you to continue your efforts in order to maintain it. Opting for restrictive diets-like keto-may not be your best bet for long-term health after all.

Even if you’re someone who gets those coveted eight hours of sleep every night, eating too much protein can still leave your body tired for several reasons. First, we now know that overconsumption can put a strain on your kidneys, liver and bones-causing them to work overtime. Also, eating too few carbs can really affect our brains-preventing us from being sharp, focused and energized each day.

Since carbs are your brain’s main source of energy, you probably want to increase your intake of healthy ones, like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, to get you back to your best. Not only can this help you get your energy back, but you’ll be getting more of the vitamins, minerals and fiber that your body needs to be healthy and happy overall.

If you or someone you know has tried the keto diet, you’ve likely head of the term “keto breath.” This happens when you’re focused more on consuming protein and fat instead of healthy carbs: your body has to adjust and produces ketones that smell awful, like acetone (yes, the ingredient in nail polish remover!).

Trying to find a more balanced approach when it comes to macronutrient consumption will help your body get up and running on carbs again and get your breath nice and fresh once more. Simply swapping out several sources of animal protein for plant versions-like whole grains and beans-each week will still keep your protein intake at the high end of your daily needs, while increasing your intake of healthy carbs.

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How To Host The Perfect Plastic Free Picnic

Wood and plastic do not belong in our mouths. Period. Metal utensils – whether spoon, fork, or chopstick – are the only objects I’m happy to eat with. For this reason, I was never the one bringing pasta salads to picnics. And let’s not get started on disposable plates. They too have no place in our world. Apart from the toll they take on the environment, they also simply make the world uglier. But despite these self-imposed restrictions, I still very much love picnics.

And at the heart of any good picnic is the perfect picnic food: the sandwich. The sandwich is the most democratic food on earth; it is the universal equaliser.  I once read a recipe for “rose petal sandwiches” in a book titled The Gentle Art of Cookery by Mrs CF Leyel and Olga Hartley from 1921. The recipe is made using “bright-pink Damask or old-fashioned roses” layered in bread with unsalted butter. Although I’ve never made a rose sandwich, the idea of it sounds very romantic.

What I have eaten a lot of are stewed bean sandwiches. Known as “ful” sandwiches in Egypt, where I come from, they are served in pitta bread with a thick, stewed broad-bean filling. Ful sandwiches are most common for breakfast, but also eaten throughout the day. The idea of carbs-on-carbs may sound odd to some, but I will always reach for a bean sandwich or a potato sandwich when presented with the luxury.

Possibly even more important than what goes in the sandwich is the bread. Which brings me to the first (and arguably) most important principle of sandwich making. Good bread makes a good sandwich. Bad bread… should be used for something other than sandwiches. The bread is a vehicle for the filling, and if your vehicle is old and unpleasant, the ride won’t be as good. And the simpler the sandwich, the more important the bread.

Use any kind of bread that you see suitable, as long as it is good. The same is to be said about most cooking. Instead of being dead set on cooking a particular food before going to the market, make the trip, and then decide what actually looks good. The uncertainty may sound stressful to some, but the more you do this the more you’ll get comfortable, and ultimately the better cook you will become.

Five fresh sandwiches :

Courgette/mozzarella/focaccia

Shave courgette into ribbons using a mandolin or a vegetable peeler. Salt the courgette. Slice open focaccia and layer the ribbons of courgette with a slice of mozzarella. Add olive oil and a little more salt.

Tuna/tomato/mayo/rice bread

Tuna and tomato were made for each other. Combine a tablespoon of mayo (preferably homemade, but store-bought will also do) with a few fillets of good-quality canned tuna in olive oil. Flake with a fork. Slice the tomato thin, add salt and layer tomato, then tuna, on top. Slice on the bias and you have a Venetian tramezzino.

Jambon beurre/baguette

A classic, and likely my favourite sandwich of all time. Good-quality butter, flaky salt, a few slices of jambon de Paris and that’s it.

Mortadella/focaccia

I love mortadella flecked with little bits of pistachio. Slice the focaccia, add a few slices of mortadella, and finish with olive oil and salt.

Wild Card Sandwich: beans/pitta

Take yesterday’s leftover beans and cook further until soft and thick. Add cumin to the beans then spoon into a pitta and, you guessed it, add salt and olive oil.

Once you’ve decided on what bread to use, either butter or add olive oil and then add the filling. I often find sandwiches to be overstuffed. Too much filling jammed in between two pieces of bread that can hardly hold it together. Keep things light and don’t overfill. Rule number four of sandwich making is to salt the sandwich. A little coarse salt before closing up the sandwich goes a long way.

To me, a sandwich that is not salted feels incomplete. Finally, avoid sogginess by adding any wet ingredients, and the salt, at the very last minute. I also like to bring boiled eggs as they’re the perfect portable snack. I wrap them in Gohar World egg lace dresses.

Once my picnic food is sorted, I spend time thinking about the setting and ambience. This may sound obvious, but pick a spot in your local park with a view. I live half a block from Central Park in New York and have a favourite area that overlooks a lake. As far as picnic blankets go, I use any piece of fabric large enough to accommodate the guests. This can be a tablecloth, a canvas drop cloth from the art supply shop, or even just a large piece of fabric from the fabric shop. I also like to pack linen napkins.

Recommended How To Host It Laila Gohar shells out on a fava party Yes, you’ll have to do a little washing at the end, but I think it adds a nice touch. In keeping with the plastic-free picnic theme, I pack drinks served in glass bottles. I also like to pick up a bunch of flowers. Why bring flowers when you’re sitting in a park, you ask? Well, because it feels a little fabulous to have flowers not only surrounding you, but also as a part of the picnic itself. Don’t call me over the top. At least I’m not suggesting that you pick Damask roses for a sandwich.

By:

Source: How to host the perfect plastic-free picnic | Financial Times

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A New Generation of Weight Loss Drugs Makes Bold Promises, But Who Really Wins

In the months after having her second child, Sarah found herself fed up. The 40-year-old Seattle resident was cutting carbs and sugar, and exercising regularly, but couldn’t seem to shed the pounds she had put on during pregnancy. So when an email newsletter mentioned a new weight-loss drug called Wegovy, Sarah decided to give it a try. Eight months later, she is out more than $10,000—and down more than 60 lbs.

“Wegovy made losing weight almost effortless,” Sarah, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, told Quartz. “I’m not hungry often anymore and it doesn’t take any willpower to eat less. I simply don’t have any desire to overeat.”

Sarah is one of 125,000 US-based patients now taking Wegovy (whose generic name is semaglutide), a member of a new class of weight-loss drugs. These drugs work differently than the appetite suppressants popular among previous generations of dieters. They are also hitting the market at a different moment: one in which people are more eager than ever for realistic, science-based methods for addressing excess weight, even as a growing faction of activists and doctors voice skepticism of weight as an accurate measure of health.

A new class of weight-loss drug

In the mid-1990s, experiments on Gila monster venom found it contained hormones that could help lower blood sugar. That led to the diabetes drug Ozempic, which ultimately went on the market in 2018. People on that drug discovered a funny side effect: They lost weight.

In 2021, that same compound was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the name Wegovy for the express purpose of weight loss. Drugs like Wegovy work in more complex ways than simply suppressing appetite, and promise fewer (though not zero) side effects.

Like Wegovy, many of these drugs were originally approved for other conditions; liraglutide (brand name Saxenda for weight loss) was also originally approved as a diabetes drug (Victoza). In fact, semaglutide and liraglutide work similarly in the body: They’re known as GLP-1 receptor agonists because they activate receptors for the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) hormone, reducing appetite by slowing digestion and the rate at which the body takes up glucose.

Perhaps most important, the new drug promise significant weight loss. “The previous weight loss drugs were just modestly effective,” says John Buse, an endocrinologist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. The average patient would lose 5% of their body weight, in some cases up to 8%. But with semaglutide, he says, “we’ve gotten the kind of weight loss that makes people pay attention: 10-15% of body weight. That’s the average weight loss—half of people are losing more than that. It’s a gamechanger in the conversation…now that we have medicines for which a substantial proportion of patients can expect to lose 30 to 50 lbs.”

In one 68-week pre-approval clinical trial, patients on Wegovy did indeed lose 14.9% of their body weight on average, compared with 2.4% for people on a placebo. (Although, as several writers and scholars have pointed out, the study was funded by Novo Nordisk, which makes Wegovy.) Given the average weight of trial participants—100 kg, or 220 lbs.—that meant weight loss of about 15 kg, or 33 lbs. Other drugs in development have had similar results. In a recent trial for one called tirzepatide from Eli Lilly, more than half of patients lost at least 20% of their body weight—50 lbs. in many cases.

What it takes to lose weight

This new class of drugs is entering a market that at first glance seems ripe for breakthrough. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 42% of Americans—70 million people—meet the criteria for obesity (having a BMI of 30 or more). At one point or another, most of those people will try a diet and exercise regimen to lose weight.

But a growing body of research shows that diets are not an effective way to lose weight and keep it off. “Obesity is a complex disease… ​for most people, lifestyle modifications, diet, and exercise are just not enough,” says Katherine Saunders, a doctor at the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and co-founder of Intellihealth, an app-based platform that brings evidence-based obesity treatment to patients.

In part because of that complexity, bariatric surgery has since 2009 been considered the standard of care for patients looking to lose a substantial amount of weight. But these procedures can be invasive and expensive, and can come with significant and long-lasting complications.

The dearth of other options leaves some patients and doctors excited about this new generation of drugs. “Right now, the field is really looking for more efficacy, number one. People will do almost anything to lose weight,” says Buse. “We have more than just surgery now for promoting substantial weight loss. The most exciting thing is that obesity is on the ropes.”

A complicated picture

While hopes are high, the realities of taking these drugs can be more complicated for patients. There are often side effects—the most common for semaglutide and liraglutide are diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. On Wegovy, Sarah says she’s experienced diarrhea so severe that a few times she had to delay her next dose.

Physicians can sometimes gloss over or downplay those effects. But a visit to dedicated Reddit pages for these drugs shows whole communities of patients struggling to adhere to the regimen when they’re feeling sick, and seeking support from a community to understand whether what seems like a severe reaction is normal. (Novo Nordisk did not respond to a request for comment.)

How well a patient can tolerate a drug “is something we think about quite a lot,” Saunders says. “We always start with lower doses and increase gradually as tolerated. Everyone is different. We keep in close touch with the patient and monitor them closely.”

And while these new drugs are relatively well-studied, there are still unknowns. They seem to help patients keep weight off more reliably than diet and exercise alone, but those benefits fade after people stop taking the drugs, and patients do often regain weight. There are also questions about long-term effects. In 1997, weight loss drug fenfluramine/phentermine (fen-phen) was pulled off the market after it was found to cause heart problems. More recently, Belviq (lorcaserin), which the FDA approved for weight loss in 2012, was pulled from the US market in 2020 because long-term use was found to increase the incidence of various types of cancers.

Even if a patient does want to go on one of these drugs, she might not be able to. Many patients keen to try Wegovy can’t access it at the moment, due to a supply chain issue that its manufacturer doesn’t expect to resolve until later this year. Even then, most US health insurers, including Medicare, do not cover drugs like Wegovy, and paying out of pocket can cost thousands of dollars per month. After Sarah’s doctor told her she doesn’t prescribe Wegovy, Sarah secured a prescription through an online health provider; she pays for it out of pocket.

The lack of insurance coverage is in spite of the fact that the American Medical Association declared obesity to be a disease in 2013. “The conversation around insurance coverage needs to be had with insurance companies, but also with employers,” says Kimberly Gudzune, the medical director for the American Board of Obesity Medicine. “It needs to be seen as an investment in your workforce.” The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, which would expand Medicare to include obesity treatments, has been introduced to US Congress every year since 2012, but has never passed.

America’s love/hate relationship with weight

Though excess body fat was once considered a sign of wealth or fertility, over the past century a stigma has developed against larger bodies. Today doctors associate excess weight with medical conditions like heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and depression. Studies also show that life is harder when you move through the world in a larger body. Fat people are less likely to be hired for a job, are paid less, are less likely to get married, and are less likely to be happy (though not if they’re living around other fat people). One 2006 study found that 46% of respondents would rather give up one year of life than be obese; 5% said they’d rather lose a limb.

The current state of research makes it impossible to unravel the full complexity of weight and health, but the conversation is starting to accommodate more nuance. Ubiquitous metrics such as body mass index are increasingly understood to be unreliable indicators (though doctors often still use them), and even the language around larger bodies is under review. Many physicians use “obese” to describe people who have excess weight or a BMI over 30, but activists are shying away from the word. “The reason…we are reluctant to use the words ‘overweight’ and ‘obesity’ is that they are made up, they can change,” says Tigress Osborn, a fat activist and chair of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.

In fact, some research suggests that fat may have a protective effect on the body. “The body’s weight-regulating mechanism is about survival. It’s a system with more moving parts than we understand,” says Marilyn Wann, a fat activist and author of the book Fat!So? “Trying to remove weight from an individual or from the population is like trying to take a sledgehammer to the weather—we don’t know the unintended negative consequences we’re going to create.”

There are signs that in the future physicians may be more accepting of bodies of different sizes. But as weight loss drugs get more effective and more available, those cultural gains for body positivity (or body neutrality, or fat acceptance) may also be called into question.

A new relationship between doctors and patients

Overweight patients who come to see Shelly Crane might have an experience they’ve never had before. “I don’t initiate a weight-loss conversation with a patient,” says Crane, a family physician at Advocate Aurora Health in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Most weight-loss programs come with more risk of harm than good, she says, and there’s not enough evidence that people who do lose weight are healthier in the end.

Crane doesn’t regularly prescribe new drugs for weight loss, though she says more patients are coming in and asking for them lately. Instead, she prefers to keep conversations focused on goals of care. “Patients say, ‘I know I need to lose weight,’ and I say, ‘Why do you think you need to lose weight? What would change in your life if your weight was lower?’” That gives her an opening to talk about health more broadly—how is the patient’s sleep? Their diet? Their mobility? “I try to stay in my sphere of what I’m able to do as a family doctor and really address the root of the health issue as much as I can.”

Crane was drawn to this approach by listening to her patients talk about experiencing size discrimination, and by following the work of fat activists such as Ragen Chastain and Aubrey Gordon. Though she’s been trained in a more integrative style of medicine, her approach toward body acceptance was also shaped by her discovery of intuitive eating during medical school. Since then, she’s been working on deprogramming herself and her colleagues from anti-fat bias.

Crane is part of a burgeoning movement among doctors to improve the treatment of larger patients. For some, that means skipping the dreaded weigh-in, a practice that is somewhat controversial within medicine. Medical organizations like the Association of American Medical Colleges also offer guidelines to reduce anti-fat bias among clinicians.

For doctors, the updated approach at least engenders trust, which can in turn get patients to seek medical care more frequently and improve their overall health. At most, it broadens the definition of what “healthy” means, and looks like.

Some fat activists see this shift as an important step. “The thing we hear most often from the public is, ‘I thought I had this thing, but all the doctor wanted to talk to me about is weight loss, and now the thing is worse,’” Osborn says. “It’s progress to have people in the medical establishment recognizing that there are other healthcare concerns besides weight, if weight is a healthcare concern.”

The hope is that this evolution continues. Activists want more people, in the medical profession and outside of it, to respect their autonomy. That becomes even more pressing in a possible future filled with weight-loss drugs—a future where a person can simply take a drug and stop being fat. “The ease with which I could become smaller—why should I? That should be up to me. Just like, if you believe it’s a medical disorder, the treatment I choose should be up to me,” Osborn says. “Like with anything else, if you believe fat is a disorder, we should let people decide whether people will get treated or not.”

“Fatness isn’t a problem to be solved in and of itself. It is not the root cause of all ills, as much as [medicine] would like to think it is,” Crane says. “We can help people live full, rich lives when we focus on goals of care and not on weight.”

By Alexandra Ossola

Source: A new generation of weight loss drugs makes bold promises, but who really wins? — Quartz

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Green Growth 50: Learning From Companies Boosting Profits While Cutting Emissions

EBay at its very core pioneered the circular economy — of finding new homes for treasures that might otherwise have ended up at the dump. “Avoiding items going into a landfill is very important to our customers,” says Steve Priest, CFO of eBay. “Driving the circular economy is part of everything we do.” But finding new shelves for Beanie Babies is just a small component in eBay’s sustainability efforts, which prioritize slashing greenhouse gas emissions.

In eBay’s case, these are mostly tied to electricity used to power vast data centers. Since 2017 eBay has cut its carbon emissions by 29% to 88,000 tons per year. The e-commerce giant became carbon neutral this year, and is aiming to achieve a 100% renewable electricity supply for all its offices and data centers by 2025.

This goal might actually be attainable in the next few years as eBay’s biggest clean energy projects yet come online. The White Mesa Wind Project in Texas (a joint venture with Apple, Sprint and Samsung) began operating this year, producing 75 peak megawatts for the four companies, enough to power 20,000 homes.

Meanwhile the Ventress Solar Project in Louisiana, a virtual purchase power agreement between eBay, McDonalds and BP’s Lightsource division, will generate 345 MW. “We collaborate with our tech peers when some sustainability issues come up, where banding together makes more sense,” says eBay’s chief sustainability officer Renee Morin.

Such efforts have earned eBay the no. 11 spot on our inaugural Forbes Green Growth 50 list. Using emissions data from Sustainalytics and financial data from FactSet Research Systems, we honed in on U.S. companies with market caps greater than $5 billion, that started with more than 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions in 2017, and have since successfully reduced their emissions while simultaneously growing profitability (as measured by an absolute increase in net income or operating income from 2017-2020).

Going in, we figured these criteria would produce a list of more than 100 companies. But green growth is harder than it looks — both Weyerhaeuser and Edison International, ranking no. 21 and no. 10 on our list, grew earnings less than 2% since 2017.

Is there a connection between cutting carbon emissions and boosting earnings? eBay’s Priest thinks we’ve reached the point where companies that don’t care about green will find it nearly impossible to deliver growth. “Customers want to be associated with corporations that take their environmental responsibilities very seriously. Those that do will continue to drive loyalty from their customer base.”

This is a strategic emphasis echoed by Stephan Tanda, CEO of Aptar, which took the no. 1 spot on the Green Growth 50. Aptar makes myriad drug delivery systems and dispensing products for consumer goods, especially foods and cosmetics. “We look at everything we do through a sustainability lens.” Most of Aptar’s facilities in Europe are already certified landfill free. By the end of the year Aptar is looking to achieve “80% disposal avoidance.”

It’s a business that involves reconciling contradictions — most of their products are plastic, which he says actually has a pretty low carbon footprint relative to alternative containers. A new Aptar product is a “monomaterial” lotion pump with no metal parts, entirely recyclable.

Consumer demand for such new products is arguably more impactful than the kind of government policy circus on display at the recent COP26 meetings in Glasgow, Scotland.

“Governments don’t impact what we do that much. Consumers and patients and customers demand what we do,” says Tanda. They will pay for the carbon transition because it is what they want. Listening to the consumers is how Tanda aims to “future proof our business.”

That approach has worked for electricity giant AES, which landed no. 15 on the Green Growth 50 list after reducing emissions by 22%, replacing coal-fired power plants with wind, solar and batteries — “a winning combination that can decarbonize 90% of the grid,” says Chris Shelton, president of AES Next. Because the costs of renewables kept going down, they were able to shift customers over under a “green, blend and extend” program.

AES also operates a kind of inhouse venture capital operation. Its Fluence utility-scale battery joint venture with Siemens recently went public and now sports a $6 billion market cap — the company behind some of the biggest battery installations in the world. 

There used to be a large group of companies “in denial” about mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. “That group is vanishing fast,” with companies moving over to the “bargaining” group, where they want to know the minimum they have to do to get by and keep activists off their back — that’s the insight of Chris Romer, cofounder of Project Canary, which installs laser-based sensors at industrial sites to monitor methane leakages.

The landmark ESG moment, he says, was last year’s ExxonMobil annual meeting, where shareholders voted in more green-friendly board members.  There’s no going back. Romer says manufacturers can already earn multiples of their monitoring and certification costs by selling “green” products at a premium.

Even on the Green Growth 50, some companies are less enthusiastic than others. Nicotine giant Altria for example, positioned at no. 35 on our list, seems to be doing just enough, having cut emissions by 10% in the studied time period. But according to its most recent sustainability report, Altria’s renewable energy use is just 2.3% of its total, a surprisingly meager ratio.

Altria also demonstrates how hard it can be to stick to a well intentioned program. The company was making great strides toward reducing the amount of waste it was sending to the landfill. In 2018 it nearly hit its 21 million pounds goal. But 2019 wrecked the trend, when Altria delivered 87 million tons to landfill — mostly rubble from a headquarters renovation. Their next challenge: reducing litter from cigarette butts.

Stronger performers included Eli Lilly, which ranked eighth on our list after the pharmaceutical company swapped out old light bulbs for LEDs at three plants, saving 330 mwh per year. And Bristol Myers Squibb, which heats its Munich, Germany office building with 100% geothermal energy, found itself at no. 13. Church & Dwight, parent company of Arm & Hammer, has meanwhile placed third on the list, having achieved its goals of no more PVC in packaging, and offsets carbon emissions by planting millions of trees in the Mississippi River Valley.

I’m an assistant editor based in New York covering money and markets for Forbes. In the past, I covered minority communities for the Boston Business Journal

Christopher Helman

Tracking energy innovators from Houston, Texas. Forbes reporter since 1999.

Source: Green Growth 50: Learning From Companies Boosting Profits While Cutting Emissions

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New Study Shows Folate Foods Help Prevent Alzheimer’s

Many people don’t think about integrating folate or folic acid into their diet until they’re trying to get pregnant, which is an unfortunate oversight. In fact, a new scientific study just further affirmed the fact that folate is an important nutrient and key to maintaining optimal health at all phases of life. Here’s what you should know about the importance of eating folate-rich foods daily.

What is folate, and what is the difference between folate vs. folic acid?

Before we jump into the new research, let’s define what folate is and clear up a common misconception: that folate and folic acid are the same thing. Folate is a B-vitamin (vitamin B9 to be exact) that is naturally found in food. It’s needed to make DNA and other genetic material and is key for helping cells divide.

It also helps a baby’s brain, skull, and spinal cord develop properly, which is why folate is so closely associated with the conception and pregnancy periods. On the other hand, folic acid is the synthetic version found in supplements and fortified foods. It’s important to note that folate is not made by the body, which makes it an essential nutrient that we must get from outside sources, meaning foods rich in folate

Whether you’re consuming folate or folic acid, in order to reap these benefits, the nutrient will need to be converted into an active form. This process is far more likely to happen when you are getting the vitamin naturally from folate foods versus folic acid supplements. “This is because folate is converted into its active form in the digestive system before entering the bloodstream.

With folic acid, however, not all of it is converted in the digestive system,” explains Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT, The Nutrition Twins and founders of 21-Day Body Reboot. “Instead, some needs to be converted in the liver and in other tissues, which is not an efficient process. Unmetabolized folic acid can sit in the bloodstream for a long time and it can’t be utilized, which has been associated with a number of health problems.”

The new research findings on folate deficiency

Now, there is one more key reason to zone in on folate. A new study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience—a systematic review and meta-analysis of the association between folate and Alzheimer’s Disease—found that there is evidence to show that the vitamin plays an important role in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. This is critical because Alzheimer’s is, today, the most common type of neurodegenerative disease leading to dementia in the elderly.

Around 60 publications were included in the review, each of which had a sample size ranging from 24 to 965, to comprehensively evaluate the associations between Alzheimer’s and folate levels. The results showed that the folate level of Alzheimer’s patients was lower compared with that of the healthy controls. Therefore, researchers concluded that there’s plausible reason to think that a deficiency of folate increases the risk for Alzheimer’s and, arguably more importantly, sufficient daily intake of folate could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

“From the information in this study and considering the other known benefits of folate for our body and brain, it is encouraged to have sufficient daily intake of folate to reduce risk of Alzheimer’s,” says Lauren Hubert, MS, RD.

Amy Cameron O’Rourke, MPH, CMC, an advocate for senior care in the U.S. and the author of The Fragile Years echoes this. “I have been a long time believer in a deficient diet being a risk factor for many medical diagnoses and Alzheimer’s is no exception. Folate aids in the growth of healthy cells, so it isn’t difficult to make the leap to see proper folate as a protective factor for Alzheimer’s.” O’Rourke goes on to say that exercise, along with being socially engaged and following an anti-inflammatory diet (or a diet with less processed food), are some other effective ways to prevent Alzheimer’s.

The recommended daily amount of folate for adults is 400 micrograms (mcg). For those who are pregnant, it is about 600 -1000 mcg. “If a person is eating a balanced diet, they are likely getting enough folate,” says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian for Zhou Nutrition.

She goes on to advise that women of childbearing age consider taking a supplement and eating fortified foods to make sure they’re reducing the risk of developing certain birth defects should they become pregnant. In general, however, she affirms that supplements are a supplement to a healthy diet.

“It’s also important to note that like anything in life, you can consume too much folate and that can have other impacts on the body,” says Hubert. “For most people, you don’t need folic acid supplementation and should instead focus on getting folate through natural food sources in your diet.” Luckily there are many non-processed, anti-inflammatory foods that contain folate. Here’s a look at five of the best, according to The Nutrition Twins.

The top 5 folate foods

1. Edamame

“One-half cup cooked edamame has 241 mcg folate, or 60 percent of the daily requirement. It makes a delicious snack or appetizer that provides a prolonged energy boost thanks to the combination of fiber and protein, which help to keep blood sugar stable. You can toss edamame beans on salads, too.”

2. Lentils

“One-half cup of cooked lentils has 179 mcg of folate—almost half of the daily requirement. Lentils are a great source of protein and fiber and are a super satisfying source of plant protein. They’re wonderful to add to the diet as their fiber helps to keep you regular and improve gut health. They’re also a great source of iron, which is particularly good for vegetarians who often struggle to get enough. They make a great substitution for meat in tacos, salads, and soups.”

3. Asparagus

“One-half cup asparagus has 164 mcg, or 40 percent of the daily requirement. It’s also rich in fiber, and is a great source of anthocyanins—these antioxidants help protect the body from the damage caused by free radicals, which can lead to chronic disease. Another fun reason to add it to the diet: asparagus contain the amino acid asparagine, which acts as a natural diuretic, helping to flush excess fluid and salt from your body.”

4. Spinach

“A half cup of steamed spinach provides 131 mcg of folate, which is around one third of the daily 400 mcg requirement. It promotes immune and skin health since it’s rich in vitamin C. Spinach is also great for vegetarians and vegans since it’s a rich source of iron and calcium, two nutrients that most people associate with animal products.”

5. Black Beans

“One half cup serving of black beans contains 128 mcg of folate, roughly a third of the daily requirement. Add beans to your salad, make bean soup, chili, burrito, bean salsa, or a casserole and you’ll also get a hefty dose of fiber, antioxidants, plus protein.”

By: Sharon Feiereisen

Source: New Study Shows Folate Foods Help Prevent Alzheimer’s | Well+Good

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