Hemoglobin A1C: Reason for the Test and the Science Behind It

Chemistry, Health
[caption id="attachment_28695" align="alignright" width="480"] Red blood cells or erythrocytes.[/caption]The term HbA1C and its more common abbreviation A1C, is a familiar term to the diabetic or pre-diabetic patient. A1C refers to blood hemoglobin that has bonded to sugar molecules. It is easy to detect, and since it is stable over time, the A1C blood test is an excellent indicator of "blood sugar" level. Article Contents We here present artwork and a brief text, coupled with a most helpful Khan Academy video, so that, hopefully, the pre-diabetic or diabetic patient, who has a measure of technical background, can understand what the A1C test is all about. Hemoglobin Image Our second image illustrates hemoglobin's 3-D branch structure using red for its two alpha (α) chains and blue for its two beta (β) chains.…
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Is Much of the Nutrition Just Under the Potato Skin?

Food, Health
The part of the potato just below the outer skin is the cortex. Just below the cortex is the vascular system. People claim just under the potato skin is its most nutritious part. Yet, the average consumer discards the skin and part of the cortex when he or she prepares the starchy tubers. To counter this, some choose not to peel their potatoes, but to wash and eat the entire potato. Anatomy of a Potato A naive viewpoint would assume the potato is simply a brown skin covering an ellipsoid of uniform, white starchy material. The potato has a number of distinguishable anatomical features, in fact. First there is the skin of a potato. It is called the periderm. Moving into the interior, we next encounter the cortex. Next is…
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Poke Salad: Popular, Free and Tasty: Is It Good for You?

Food, Health
[caption id="attachment_26999" align="alignright" width="480"] Phytolacca americana berry cluster. - Image Courtesy Kyle Hamar.[/caption]In the U.S., especially in the southern states, a popular "soul food" is poke salad (also called poke sallet). Perhaps you are unfamiliar with it. What is poke salad? It is a cooked preparation of the leaves of the common Pokeweed, or Phytolacca americana. How to Pinch Your Poke Ask most anyone and they'll tell you to collect only very small leaves. It is traditional to return to the spots where it's been seen growing before. The leaves are washed, and sometimes cooked in a skillet with some onion. It may then be eaten with scrambled eggs or used in an omelet. Did I say traditional? Why there's even a song about poke salad – Poke Salad Annie...…
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Spanish Flu Developed for Germ Warfare? By the Allies?

Health, History
[caption id="attachment_26871" align="alignright" width="480"] Death certificate - Warren Larue Torbert[/caption] Worrisome influenza pandemics of the 20th Century included the Spanish Flu (1918), the Asian Flu (1957), and the Hong Kong Flu (1968). There was also an anticipated pandemic that never really reached that status, the Swine Flu. Of these, the Spanish Influenza Pandemic was in a ballpark by itself. It is estimated the Spanish Flu sent half-a-billion people to bed and killed perhaps half-a-million of them. Burials in mass graves were part of the times. To many of us, the names of these viral illnesses seem to suggest their point of origin, the place of the first occurrence of illness. However, this is not the case for the Spanish Flu. So where did it first appear? [caption id="attachment_26874" align="alignright" width="400"]…
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Iodized Table Salt – How Is Iodizing Salt Beneficial?

Food, Health
[caption id="attachment_26701" align="alignright" width="480"] "Is tasteless food eaten without salt?" - Job 6:6a[/caption]Iodized table salt, for me, it is a pleasant memory... When I was a youngster, we'd all sit together at the dinner table to enjoy a home-cooked meal. Oddly, we salted the food before tasting it to see if it was salty enough already. In those days, the word "salt" referred to Morton salt just as the word "tissue" always meant a Kleenex tissue. Morton salt came in a midnight-blue cylindrical cardboard box. There was a little girl in a short yellow dress walking in the rain with a somewhat oversized umbrella, spilling the salt as she walked. The motto beneath was "When it rains, it pours." I always wondered as a kid why the girl was carrying…
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The 1793 Terror: The Yellow Fever Epidemic

Health, History
[caption id="attachment_26643" align="alignright" width="480"] Yellow fever virus[/caption]Have you ever heard of Yellow Fever? Different diseases affect human society to differing degrees. In the in the United States, one now seldom-mentioned illness severely threatened the existence of a major city with a populace approaching 50,000 (a sizeable number at the time). The famous Dr. Benjamin Rush called it Bilious Remitting Yellow Fever. Nearly 10% of the city died. In fact, the Federal government itself, including George Washington, had to quickly relocate! Some cities refused to accept refugees. The Time, The Place, The Cause The time was approximately August of 1793, and for a while thereafter. The place was Philadelphia. The vector seems to have been the female Aedes aegypti mosquito. The infection originated possibly from Santo Domingo, as a result of…
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What is a Cubeb? The Author of Tarzan Knew – Do You?

Health, History
Cubebs? I'm one of those rare guys who likes to watch musicals. One of my favorites is "The Music Man" starring Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, and that features Buddy Hackett and Pert Kelton. "Professor" Harold Hill (Preston) attempts to con the town of River City, Iowa into buying musical instruments. Upon arrival of the instruments, he offers to institute the 1st River City boy's band. They are an unexcitable people, however, so he warns the people their children are threatened by the arrival of a pool table. Such a vice, he advises, will lead into such bad practices as smoking cubeb cigarettes. "Ya Got Trouble" Since it is a musical, the music man sings of the danger in this song... What is a Cubeb Cigarette? A cubeb is a cigarette…
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Garlic Dietary “Spokesperson” Allicin Speaks Out

Food, Health
[caption id="attachment_26504" align="alignright" width="480"] Basket of Garlic Bulbs[/caption]Garlic is considered by the majority as a healthful food. By nearly every person, it is recognized for its pungent, odor. Most will humbly admit the odor is disagreeable. Garlic Question Since the odor of a clove of garlic is pretty nearly non-existent, it must be wondered: Why does garlic produce so noticeable an odor when it is crushed? It is because the odor is produced by a chemical reaction, the combining of two substances within the garlic. The Two Substances The two substances are alliin and alliinase. Whenever the suffix part of a compound name ends in -ase, suspect an enzyme. Perhaps you've heard of laundry detergents that are said to be "enzyme cleaners". What is an enzyme? An enzyme is a…
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The Chemical Structure of the Anti-Fungal Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate

Chemistry, Health
Ever purchased wipes or some other product that was labeled hypoallergenic? Why did the label say that? Hypoallergenic is defined as: relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. So all the ingredients in such a product must have a well-established safety record. Even if a few individuals experience difficulty, it would be mild, perhaps superficial. There is a compound that, despite being hypoallergenic, fights mold successfully. Its name? Iodopropynyl butylcarbamate. The achieved objective requires only a very slight amount of IPBC. Effective at minimal concentrations and water-soluble, IPBC is a cost-effective anti-fungal preservative. A Closer Look at IPBC Notice the chemical structure of iodopropynyl butylcarbamate in the illustration. The portion of the molecule encircled by green is the carbamate portion of the molecule. It is a derivative of carbamic acid…
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Perfluorooctanesulfonates – Beneficial, Yet Pervasive, Problematic

Health, Technology
Perflurooctanesulfonates or PFOs are simple compounds, not found in nature. They are derivatives of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid. Their chemical structure includes atoms of carbon, fluorine, sulfur, and oxygen. Various ways of writing the acid's formula are seen in the illustration, top to bottom – the simplest to the most complex, followed by a ball-and-stick model. Commercial Sales Search for the acid online, and you will find it. It can be purchased as the free acid. However, it is also sold in compound form, such as the tetramethylammonium or tetraethylammonium salts. Useful? There's no question these substances are useful. Consider this... The structure of this acid is not unlike the chemical structure of Teflon®. Teflon is slippery stuff. Teflon, however, is a solid. What if a similar, only soluble, substance could be…
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