Category Archives: Food

Why You Should Soak Beans in a Salt and Baking Soda Brine Before Cooking

Soaking beans in a solution of salt and baking soda yields creamy, cooked beans in less time.

20160707-legumes-red-kidney-beans-vicky-wasik-4.jpg

There’s a whole wide world of beans out there, from broad and flat fava beans to small,  curvaceous pintos. The variation in beans is obvious in both their many shapes and in their many colors, but it’s also apparent in the fact that different kinds of beans require different cooking times and preparation methods. Some beans cook up more quickly, becoming tender and creamy in a relatively short amount of time, whereas others take ages and ages to cook and may benefit from a soak in water beforehand.

In this article, I’m going to focus on questions I’ve long had about soaking beans in a brine before cooking, and how altering that brine can affect the cooking time and quality of the final cooked beans. Specifically, I was interested in how adding baking soda to the brine for beans would affect their cooked texture and cooking time.

Pectin: Or, Why Dried Beans Soften as They Cook

All plant cells contain pectin, which is a crucial part of the lamella, the cement or glue that holds the cells together. Pectin, along with other carbohydrates like cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, helps the plant cells maintain their physical structure, and these indigestible carbohydrates are what we mean when we refer to “dietary fiber.” The firmness that characterizes vegetables like potatoes and African yams is directly related to the presence of large quantities of pectin.

Transforming a hard, dried bean into one that’s tender, creamy, and enjoyable to eat requires first that the bean absorbs water and then, as it’s heated, the bean’s physical structure needs to change. The bean’s seed coat presents an initial obstacle; the water must first penetrate the seed coat before the interior of the bean can begin to absorb water and cook. This is why hulled beans, like urad dal, can be cooked in much less time; I’ve seen reports that removing that seed coat can reduce the cooking time of beans by up to 40%.

Once water is able to penetrate the seed coat and heat is applied, the pectin that sits inside begins to transform. As the pectin heats up it transforms from a hard, insoluble substance that holds the cells together into a soft, water-soluble material. As that pectin sitting between the cells softens and dissolves in water, the cells begin to fall apart, and that loss in structural integrity is what makes cooked beans soft and creamy.

Why Some Beans Are Hard, and Stay Hard

Salt and baking soda being added to dried beans soaking in water in a mixing bowl
Debbie Wee

But everyone’s cooked beans and found some that seemingly refuse to become soft. There are a couple of reasons for this phenomenon. Bean hardness is a hot topic in bean science, specifically the phenomenon of H.T.C. beans. Many bean scientists classify beans as either easy-to-cook (E.T.C.) or hard-to-cook (H.T.C.). H.T.C. beans don’t soften even after cooking because their pectin remains insoluble (although their starches also fail to gelatinize properly). H.T.C. beans are often the result of long storage times and/or storage in conditions of high humidity or temperature. However, if you brine H.T.C. beans before cooking them, they will cook faster and have a better final texture, and, in addition, they will have greater nutrient availability.

The hardening of the bean pectin takes place primarily because of two enzymatic reactions. An enzyme called phytase releases calcium and magnesium ions from the lamella, and these ions quickly encounter and attach to pectin molecules, which ends up strengthening the pectin. A second enzyme, called pectin esterase, will modify the pectin, too, making it even more resistant to being dissolved. The chemistry of pectin is quite complex, but for our purposes, the first enzymatic reaction is the one I want to focus on.

Since calcium and magnesium are partially responsible for hardening the pectin in beans, I reasoned that if there was a way to pop them out, I could destabilize the pectin and thereby the integrity of the bean, making it softer and fully tender with a shorter cooking time. And, of course, the reason why I focused on this element of bean hardness is that there’s a simple way to remove those ions from the pectin.

If you’ve cleaned tarnished silver or copper utensils, you know that you can make them shiny all over again simply by dropping them into a pot of water mixed with salt and baking soda. The way this works is that, over time, silver and copper utensils become oxidized and develop a patina as the metal reacts with chemicals present in the air. When the tarnished utensils are treated with salt and baking soda, the sodium ions present in the solution displaces the silver in the tarnish and restores the metal back to its original state, and the utensil becomes shiny again. This reaction is called a displacement reaction.

The sodium present in salt (sodium chloride) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) will perform a similar displacement reaction with any calcium and magnesium ions present in a bean’s pectin. As soon as they come into contact, the sodium takes the place of calcium and magnesium, and the pectin consequently becomes more soluble.

Therefore, prior to cooking, beans can be soaked in brine made of either salt or baking soda. In addition, depending on the texture desired in a dish, beans can be either boiled in a pot of salted water or water to which a bit of baking soda has been added. The brine provides an environment where the sodium is in excess and helps push this transformation forward.

Testing Brining Solutions for Beans

To test the hypothesis that sodium affects pectin and consequently bean hardness and cooking, I ran a few brining experiments with different types of sodium salts. To see how different beans perform under these different conditions, I restricted myself to black beans and kidney beans. Black beans really don’t need to be brined before cooking, since they have thin skins and cook easily, but I thought they’d offer a useful comparison for the kidney beans and how well they performed in the experiment.

The Experimental Setup

To evaluate the beans, I set up three groups for each type: Water, Salted Water (15g in 1 L), and Baking Soda (5g in 1 L). The amount of salt used in these experiments comes from Kenji’s previous work on Serious Eats and the baking soda from a research paper published in Food Research International. To see how beans performed in a brine with a combination of baking soda and salt, I added one more group to the experiment, a salt and baking soda brine (15g salt with 5g baking soda in 1L of water).

To monitor how the beans performed, I measured the total dry weights of the beans and then both their raw and cooked wet weights after 24 hours. To give each bean a fair chance of starting out under similar conditions, I removed any beans that displayed any cracks or damage to their skins. To avoid any interference from salts that might be present in tap water (hard water contains a lot of calcium and magnesium, although, given the amount of sodium in the brines, the effect should have been negligible), I used filtered water in the brines. The beans were soaked at room temperature.

Both raw and cooked beans were rinsed gently with water and left to sit on dry pieces of absorbent paper towels for one minute before they were weighed to remove any excess water and get a more consistent measure.

The soaked beans were rinsed to remove any traces of the salts and then cooked in plain filtered water until tender. The endpoint for cooking beans was subjective; I determined the bean doneness by pressing them to see if they were tender all the way through.

The Results

Based on the changes in weight in both uncooked and cooked black bean samples, the baking soda brine appeared to do a much better job than the brines without baking soda.

Kidney beans appeared to be affected a bit differently by the brines when compared with the black bean trials, although just like black beans, they seem to brine nicely in baking soda, and a combination of salt and baking soda gives a much better result in terms of weight gain.

The ideal way to determine and compare the cooking time would be to pull out the beans when they reach a certain endpoint determined either by texture or time. However, both are a bit tricky to determine in my home kitchen. I relied instead on my judgment to determine when the beans were tender enough to be easily split by a knife without applying excess pressure.

The salt and baking soda brine gave the best results for both kinds of beans. The average cooking time for the black beans was 30 minutes; the average for the kidney beans was nearly 40 minutes. Of course, since these are subjective measurements and were based on my opinion of what I think is the right cooked texture for beans, take these findings with a grain of salt (no pun intended).

Effect of Sodium Brines on Beans
 Raw Beans  Cooked Beans Cooked Beans 
Black Beans   % Total Weight Increase  % Total Weight Increase  Texture (Degree of Creaminess)
Water 145.20 150.72 +
Salt 137.51 158.05 ++
Baking Soda 142.61 161.72 +++
Salt + Baking Soda 107.72 108.60 ++++
Kidney Beans  % Total Weight Increase  % Total Weight Increase  Texture (Degree of Creaminess)
Water 133.58 127.60 +
Salt 122.52 113.16 ++
Baking Soda 130.17 117.11 +++
Salt + Baking Soda 160.08 117.46 ++++
Weight changes in both the total quantity of beans soaked was measured and compared to the starting dry weight of the beans. Subjective observations on texture were also reported.

Beans soaked in salt or baking soda brines performed much better in comparison to those soaked in just water. Beans brined in baking soda performed even better than those in the salt brine. This was true across the board regardless of the type of the bean. When it came to differences in the cooking time, black beans cooked faster than kidney beans, as expected. When I asked a few folks to report on the differences in texture, the beans brined in salt or baking soda were said to be creamier than those soaked in plain water, and beans that were soaked in baking soda were described as having a smoother, creamier texture than those brined in salted water.

Now, if you take a closer look at the numbers for the kidney beans, you will notice that the percentage of total weight gained seems to be a smaller number after cooking. Compare this same observation to black beans and you’ll now start to see how these beans are so different from each other, black beans increase their weight on cooking.

The explanation for this discrepancy is, I think, relatively straightforward. Dried beans absorb water during brining and, consequently, they gain weight, which you can see in the results. However, as they cook in water, the beans will continue to expand, but they will also start to leach out some of those carbohydrates–starches, pectin, etc.–into the cooking water, so some degree of weight loss is also to be expected. Based on my results, it appears that kidney beans lose weight due to the increased solubilization of these various substances, which would track with other, more formal analyses that confirm how salt solutions solubilize pectin and minerals present inside beans (like this one).

Should You Brine Your Beans?

Pot of pork and creamy beans next to loaf of bread, a serving plate, and a cutting board
Debbie Wee

Clearly, using a brining solution with an excess amount of sodium produce by adding both salt and baking soda produced the best results in texture, and reduced the cooking time significantly for both black and kidney beans. For kidney beans and other hard-to-cook beans, I strongly recommend brining them in a salt and baking soda solution. Would I brine my black beans in the future? My answer honestly depends on time. If I were a better planner and wanted to cook my black beans the next day, I’d probably resort to brining them, but if I wanted to cook them the day of, then I won’t.

One of the quicker ways to cook beans that I haven’t addressed in this article is by applying high pressure using pressure cookers. I grew up in India, where pressure cookers are the workhorse of many kitchens. High pressure and brining both reduce cooking time and improve the texture of the beans. If you decide to brine your beans and pressure cook them, I’d recommend reducing the soaking time or cutting back on the amount of salt and baking soda or they will turn extremely mushy (unless that’s the texture you want).

Still aren’t convinced? Check out my recipe for braised pork and beans, which uses my findings from this experiment to produce fork-tender pork and some of the creamiest beans I’ve ever had.

https://www.seriouseats.com/baking-soda-brine-for-beans-5217841?utm_source=pocket-newtab

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Is Niacin a Missing Piece of the COVID Puzzle?

The Epoch Times,  By Joseph Mercola  January 4, 2022

While vitamins C and D have garnered much attention in the fight against COVID-19, B vitamins can also play an important role, according to two recent papers — niacin (B3) in particular.

The first, “Be Well: A Potential Role for Vitamin B in COVID-19,” was published in the February 2021 issue of the journal Maturitas. The paper is the result of a joint collaboration between researchers at the University of Oxford, United Arab Emirates University and the University of Melbourne, Australia.

While no studies using B vitamins have been performed on COVID-19 patients, the researchers stress that, based on B vitamins’ effects on your immune system, immune-competence and red blood cells (which help fight infection), supplementation may be a useful adjunct to other prevention and treatment strategies. As noted by the authors:

“There is a need to highlight the importance of vitamin B because it plays a pivotal role in cell functioning, energy metabolism, and proper immune function.

Vitamin B assists in proper activation of both the innate and adaptive immune responses, reduces pro-inflammatory cytokine levels, improves respiratory function, maintains endothelial integrity, prevents hypercoagulability and can reduce the length of stay in hospital.

Therefore, vitamin B status should be assessed in COVID-19 patients and vitamin B could be used as a non-pharmaceutical adjunct to current treatments …

Vitamin B not only helps to build and maintain a healthy immune system, but it could potentially prevent or reduce COVID-19 symptoms or treat SARS-CoV-2 infection. Poor nutritional status predisposes people to infections more easily; therefore, a balanced diet is necessary for immuno-competence.”

B Vitamins Play Many Roles in COVID-19 Disease Process

Importantly, B vitamins can influence several COVID-19-specific disease processes, including:

  • Viral replication and invasion
  • Cytokine storm induction
  • Adaptive immunity
  • Hypercoagulability

The paper goes on to detail how each of the B vitamins can help manage various COVID-19 symptoms:

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine) — Thiamine improves immune system function, protects cardiovascular health, inhibits inflammation and aids in healthy antibody responses. Vitamin B1 deficiency can result in an inadequate antibody response, thereby leading to more severe symptoms. There’s also evidence suggesting B1 may limit hypoxia.
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) — Riboflavin in combination with ultraviolet light has been shown to decrease the infectious titer of SARS-CoV-2 below the detectable limit in human blood, plasma and platelet products.
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin/nicotinamide) — Niacin is a building block of NAD and NADP, which are vital when combating inflammation.
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) — Vitamin B5 aids in wound healing and reduces inflammation.
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxal 5′-phosphate/pyridoxine) — Pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (PLP), the active form of vitamin B6, is a cofactor in several inflammatory pathways. Vitamin B6 deficiency is associated with dysregulated immune function. Inflammation increases the need for PLP, which can result in depletion.According to the authors, in COVID-19 patients with high levels of inflammation, B6 deficiency may be a contributing factor. What’s more, B6 may also play an important role in preventing the hypercoagulation seen in some COVID-19 patients.
  • Vitamin B9 (folate/folic acid) — Folate, the natural form of B9 found in food, is required for the synthesis of DNA and protein in your adaptive immune response.Folic acid, the synthetic form typically found in supplements, was recently found to inhibit furin, an enzyme associated with viral infections, thereby preventing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein from binding to and gaining entry into your cells. The research suggests folic acid may therefore be helpful during the early stages of COVID-19.Another recent paper found folic acid has a strong and stable binding affinity against SARS-CoV-2. This too suggests it may be a suitable therapeutic against COVID-19.
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) — B12 is required for healthy synthesis of red blood cells and DNA. A deficiency in B12 increases inflammation and oxidative stress by raising homocysteine levels. Your body can eliminate homocysteine naturally, provided you’re getting enough B9 (folate), B6 and B12.Hyperhomocysteinemia — a condition characterized by abnormally high levels of homocysteine — causes endothelial dysfunction, activates platelet and coagulation cascades and decreases immune responses.B12 deficiency is also associated with certain respiratory disorders. Advancing age can diminish your body’s ability to absorb B12 from food, so the need for supplementation may increase as you get older. According to “Be Well: A Potential Role for Vitamin D in COVID-19”:

    “A recent study showed that methylcobalamin supplements have the potential to reduce COVID-19-related organ damage and symptoms. A clinical study conducted in Singapore showed that COVID-19 patients who were given vitamin B12 supplements (500 μg), vitamin D (1000 IU) and magnesium had reduced COVID-19 symptom severity and supplements significantly reduced the need for oxygen and intensive care support.”

Niacin — A Missing Piece of the COVID-19 Puzzle?

The second paper, “Sufficient Niacin Supply: The Missing Puzzle Piece to COVID-19 and Beyond?” (which is a preprint and has yet to undergo peer review), focuses specifically on niacin (B3), raising the question of whether this vitamin might actually be a crucial player in the COVID-19 disease process. As noted in the abstract:

“Definitive antiviral properties are evidenced for niacin, i.e., nicotinic acid (NA), as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) therapy for both disease recovery and prevention, to the level that reversal or progression of its pathology follows as an intrinsic function of NA supply.

This detailed investigation provides a thorough disentanglement of how the downstream inflammatory propagation of ensuing severe acute respiratory virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection is entirely prohibited or reversed upstream out the body to expeditiously restore health with well-tolerated dynamic supplementation of sufficient NA (i.e., ~1-3 grams per day).”

As noted in this paper, a primary hallmark of COVID-19 pathology is the cytokine storm, which can lead to multiple organ failure and death. Marked elevations in proinflammatory cytokines are to blame for this chain of events, most notable of which are interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1).

If you can decrease and control these damaging cytokines, you stand a good chance of thwarting the cytokine storm and the downstream damage it causes. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) plays an important role in this, and niacin is a building block of NAD. As explained in “Be Well: A Potential Role for Vitamin D in COVID-19”:

“NAD+ is released during the early stages of inflammation and has immunomodulatory properties, known to decrease the pro-inflammatory cytokines, IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α. Recent evidence indicates that targeting IL-6 could help control the inflammatory storm in patients with COVID-19.”

Aside from markedly decreasing proinflammatory cytokines, niacin has also been shown to:

  • Reduce the replication of a number of viruses, including vaccinia virus, human immunodeficiency virus, enteroviruses and hepatitis B virus
  • Reduce neutrophil infiltration
  • Have anti-inflammatory effect in patients with ventilator-induced lung injury

Niacin Modulates the Bradykinin Storm

COVID-19 also triggers bradykinin storms. Bradykinin is a chemical that helps regulate your blood pressure and is controlled by your renin-angiotensin system (RAS). The bradykinin hypothesis provides a model that helps explain some of the more unusual symptoms of COVID-19, including its bizarre effects on your cardiovascular system.

Researchers have discovered SARS-CoV-2 downregulates your body’s ability to degrade or break down bradykinin. The end result is a bradykinin storm, and this appears to be an important factor in many of COVID-19’s lethal effects, perhaps even more so than the cytokine storms associated with the disease. As bradykinin accumulates, the more serious COVID-19 symptoms appear.

Vitamin D has a significant impact on the RAS, and can therefore help prevent a bradykinin storm, but niacin also plays an important role. As noted in “Sufficient Niacin Supply: The Missing Puzzle Piece to COVID-19 and Beyond?”:

“Immediate-release NA [niacin] administration has been reported as highly effective in preventing the lung tissue damage involved in this … pathology. As a matter of fact, authors of a March, 2020, paper in Nature for this very reason conclude with suggestion of niacin supplementation to COVID-19 patients as a ‘wise approach.’”

The paper also expounds on the role of NAD+, and why niacin is a useful strategy for boosting NAD+:

“The major effects of COVID-19 are evidenced to involve tryptophan metabolism and the kynurenine pathway towards depletions of these precursors of NAD+ …

Exclusively sufficient dosage of immediate-release NA — through its processing in the mammalian body to form NAADP [nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate, a calcium mobilizer] — leads to an inverse potential energy pump back upstream, from the core up and ultimately out the body, of the downstream ensuing propagation of such inflammatory disease that spreads into the cells.

This is made possible by the capability of NAADP to be readily formed by sufficient NA supply to induce Ca2+ [calcium] channeling back upstream out the body of built-up or ensuing inflammation, representing kinetic energy … that by electron gradient, moves downstream into the body.

Attempting to restore NAD+ with other NAD+-precursors aside from NA (e.g., nicotinamide, nicotinamide riboside, nicotinamide mononucleotide) only actually temporarily and in a sense, artificially, raises NAD+ levels, until they imminently deplete back down with further ensuing inflammation.

NA is in fact the only compound to readily produce NAADP if needed in acidic environments (as is characteristic to ensuing inflammatory disease pathology), which in turn provides a potential energy/H+ pump-out action of its inverse, downstream kinetic (heat) energy inflammation to ultimately restore NAD+ to normal, pre-inflammatory levels, as well as other inflammatorily-depleted cofactors and biochemical pathways towards a more thermodynamically homeostatic health status …

The ‘niacin red flush’ in fact is this thermodynamic exfoliation of ensuing disease, toxins, and (restoration of) free radical-damaged compounds being H+ (potential energy) pumped out the body.

It represents the anti-inflammatory or thermodynamic (i.e., energy transfer-like) therapy in action that only and exclusively sufficient oral intake of immediate-release NA is capable of (readily) accomplishing with potency.”

Recommended Use

The paper goes deep into the biochemical aspects of how niacin works in your body, so if you’re interested in that, you may want to read through it. In summary, as it pertains to COVID-19, the important thing to understand is that there appears to be a causative link between low niacin status and SARS-CoV-2 infection.

“Nothing outside of sufficiently … supplied niacin is capable of readily leading to the NAADP supply needed … for therapeutic action that counteracts inflammatory disease progression.”

According to the authors, SARS-CoV-2’s ability to invade your body is dependent on whether calcium signaling can properly proceed, which in turn is dependent on the presence of NAADP. And, as explained in the quoted section above, niacin forms NAADP in your body. NAADP-dependent calcium signaling is responsible both for the inhibition of viral entry into cells and driving the virus out of already infected cells.

And, again, the authors stress that “nothing outside of sufficiently, dynamically supplied niacin is capable of readily leading to the NAADP supply needed in these acidic environments for therapeutic action that counteracts inflammatory disease progression.”

They also point out that the flushing you get from niacin is part of how the niacin drives inflammatory free radicals out of the cells. As you continue to take the supplement at a consistent, sufficiently high dose, that flushing will gradually lessen, which is a sign that your body is reaching a healthy homeostasis.

“This represents perhaps the ideal state that should be worked up to and maintained thereafter — in terms of niacin dosing — to respectively reverse out and prevent inflammation,” the authors state.

While the flushing can be uncomfortable, the authors stress that it is “indeed safe,” and actually “should be sought when needed for its anti-inflammatory properties.”

Suggested Dosing

As a “health restorative therapy” for those diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2, they recommend starting with a dose of 500 milligrams of immediate-release niacin, two to three times a day, ideally within the first 48 hours of symptom onset. As your flush response lessens, increase your dose to 1,000 mg, two to three times a day.

“For the subgroup of patients still suffering with high cytokines profiles from deep, remnant damage of previously experienced SARS-CoV-2 infection — termed the ‘long-haulers’ — alleviation from ailment(s) towards complete health restoration to pre-infection state from initiating and maintaining the aforementioned dosage regimen has consistently been reported to assume within two days and to incrementally follow further over the course of weeks.”

Although the authors suggest you can use niacin prophylactically, using that same dose, I disagree. According to the authors:

“By readily providing sufficient NAADP, this same NA dosage regimen is capable of serving as prophylaxis, which can be interpreted as the physical/biochemical inability of sufficient progression of SARS-CoV-2 in order to enter into the body and/or thereafter induce replication, infection onset, or disease progression in a previously uninfected host.”

There may be some value to the high doses in acute COVID-19 infections but I am skeptical. I am a huge fan of NAD+ augmentation and have been using it for years. My research suggests you really only need about 25 mg per day of niacin, which will not cause flushing in nearly anyone. I believe most would benefit from taking 25 mg of niacin daily, preferably in a well-balanced B complex, which would have thiamine (B1) that has also been shown to be useful in COVID-19.

How to Improve Your Vitamin B Status

As a general rule, I recommend getting most if not all of your nutrition from real food. This will work well for most B vitamins, but not if you’re using niacin therapeutically, as described above. For that, you will need to take a supplement.

That said, the list below will show you which foods contain which B vitamins, as well as provide general guidance on dosage if you’re taking a supplement. If you’re trying to improve your vitamin B status, also consider limiting sugar and eating more fermented foods.

The reason for this is because the entire B group vitamin series is produced within your gut, assuming you have healthy gut flora. Eating real food, including plenty of leafy greens and fermented foods, will provide your microbiome with important fiber and beneficial bacteria to help optimize your internal vitamin B production.

Vitamin B1 — Pork, fish, nuts and seeds, beans, green peas, brown rice, squash, asparagus and seafood.

  • The recommended daily allowance for B1 is 1.2 mg/day for men and 1.1 mg/day for women.

Vitamin B2 — Eggs, organ meats, lean meats, green vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli and spinach.

  • The RDA is 1.1 mg for adult women and 1.3 mg for men.
  • Your body cannot absorb more than about 27 mg at a time, and some multivitamins or B-complex supplements may contain unnecessarily high amounts.

Vitamin B3 — Liver, chicken, veal, peanuts, chili powder, bacon and sun-dried tomatoes have some of the highest amounts of niacin per gram.

Other niacin-rich foods include baker’s yeast, paprika, espresso coffee, anchovies, spirulina, duck, shiitake mushrooms and soy sauce.

  • The dietary reference intake established by the Food and Nutrition Board ranges from 14 to 18 mg per day for adults.
  • Higher amounts are recommended depending on your condition. For a list of recommended dosages, see the Mayo Clinic’s website.
  • The dosage recommended as an anti-inflammatory, health-restorative therapy in “Sufficient Niacin Supply: The Missing Puzzle Piece to COVID-19 and Beyond?” is 500 mg two to three times a day, working your way up to 1,000 mg, two to three times a day as the flushing lessens.

Vitamin B5 — Beef, poultry, seafood, organ meats, eggs, milk, mushrooms, avocados, potatoes, broccoli, peanuts, sunflower seeds, chickpeas and brown rice.

  • The RDA is 5 mg for adults over the age of 19.
  • Pantothenic acid in dietary supplements is often in the form of calcium pantothenate or pantethine.

Vitamin B6 — Turkey, beef, chicken, wild-caught salmon, sweet potatoes, potatoes, sunflower seeds, pistachios, avocado, spinach and banana.

  • Nutritional yeast is an excellent source of B vitamins, especially B6.
  • One serving (2 tablespoons) contains nearly 10 mg of vitamin B6.
  • Not to be confused with Brewer’s yeast or other active yeasts, nutritional yeast is made from an organism grown on molasses, which is then harvested and dried to deactivate the yeast.
  • It has a pleasant cheesy flavor and can be added to a number of different dishes.

Vitamin B9 — Fresh, raw, organic leafy green vegetables, especially broccoli, asparagus, spinach and turnip greens, and a wide variety of beans, especially lentils, but also pinto beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, navy and black beans.

  • Folic acid is a synthetic type of B vitamin used in supplements; folate is the natural form found in foods.
  • (Think: Folate comes from foliage, edible leafy plants.)
  • For folic acid to be of use, it must first be activated into its biologically active form (L-5-MTHF).
  • Nearly half the population has difficulty converting folic acid into the bioactive form due to a genetic reduction in enzyme activity.
  • For this reason, if you take a B-vitamin supplement, make sure it contains natural folate rather than synthetic folic acid.
  • Nutritional yeast is an excellent source.
  • Research also shows your dietary fiber intake has an impact on your folate status.
  • For each gram of fiber consumed, folate levels increased by nearly 2%.
  • The researchers hypothesize that this boost in folate level is due to the fact that fiber nourishes bacteria that synthesize folate in your large intestine.

Vitamin B12 — Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal tissues, including foods like beef and beef liver, lamb, snapper, venison, salmon, shrimp, scallops, poultry, eggs and dairy products.

The few plant foods that are sources of B12 are actually B12 analogs that block the uptake of true B12.

  • Nutritional yeast is high in B12, and is highly recommended for vegetarians and vegans.
  • One serving (2 tablespoons) provides nearly 8 mcg of natural vitamin B12.
  • Sublingual (under-the-tongue) fine mist spray or vitamin B12 injections are also effective, as they allow the large B12 molecule to be absorbed directly into your bloodstream.

References

https://www.theepochtimes.com/is-niacin-a-missing-piece-of-the-covid-puzzle_4193414.html?utm_source=News&utm_campaign=Breaking-2022-01-05-2&utm_medium=email

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Fights COVID Like Hydroxychloroquine, yet Easier to Find

Fights COVID Like Hydroxychloroquine, yet Easier to Find

BY Joseph Mercola  TIME  December 27, 2021

The Substack Modern Discontent recently posted an anthology series on the benefits of quercetin, including the finding that it works like hydroxychloroquine, a drug found to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 when used early enough.

Part 1 begins with a brief overview of what quercetin is and its basic mechanisms of action. Quercetin is a flavonoid found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, such as onions and shallots, apples, broccoli, asparagus, green peppers, tomatoes, red leaf lettuce, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, black currants and green tea.

The quercetin content in any given food is largely dependent on light exposure, though, so depending on the country you’re in, different foods will top the list of most quercetin-rich.

Quercetin Against SARS-CoV-2

In Part 2 of the anthology, Modern Discontent reviews the evidence behind the recommendation to use quercetin against COVID-19 specifically. As mentioned, zinc has antiviral activity, and quercetin helps shuttle the zinc into the cell. But quercetin also has other mechanisms of action that make it useful in the fight against COVID-19.

Berries
Quercetin is a flavonoid found in a variety of berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries. (Pexels)

For example, quercetin has been shown to:

  • Inhibit SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to ACE2 receptor docking. Computational modeling studies have shown quercetin can bind to the ACE2 receptor and the spike protein interface, thereby inhibiting the two from binding together. By preventing viral attachment, it helps prevent viral entry into the cell. Commenting on one of these studies, Modern Discontent notes:

“Although [a] computer modeled study, the evidence here suggests that quercetin’s binding activity to ACE2 is comparable to other standard of care drugs used to treat SARS-CoV-2 (eg. Remdesivir, Lopinavir, Ritonavir).”

  • Inhibit lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) production in macrophages. (TNF-α is a cytokine involved in systemic inflammation, secreted by activated macrophages, a type of immune cell that digests foreign substances, microbes and other harmful or damaged components.)
  • Inhibit the release of proinflammatory cytokines and histamine by modulating calcium influx into the cell.
  • Stabilize mast cells and regulate the basic functional properties of immune cells, thereby allowing it to inhibit “a huge panoply of molecular targets in the micromolar concentration range, either by down-regulating or suppressing many inflammatory pathways and functions.”
  • Act as a zinc ionophore, i.e., a compound that shuttles zinc into your cells. This is one of the mechanisms that can account for the effectiveness seen with hydroxychloroquine, which is also a zinc ionophore.
  • Boost interferon response to viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, by inhibiting the expression of casein kinase II (CK2) — CK2 is an enzyme that is fundamental to controlling homeostasis at the cellular level. There is evidence that it down-regulates the ability a cell has to generate Type 1 interferon when attacked by a virus. However, the interferon does not function by attacking the virus. Instead, it tells the infected cell and the cells that surround the infected cell to make proteins that stop viral replication. In a nutshell, quercetin stops CK2 from interfering with the action of Type 1 interferon so cells receive the signal to stop viral replication.
  • Modulate NLRP3 inflammasome, an immune system component involved in the uncontrolled release of proinflammatory cytokines that occurs during a cytokine storm.
  • Exert a direct antiviral activity against SARS-CoV — Quercetin’s general antiviral capacity has been attributed to three primary mechanisms of action:
  1. Binding to the spike protein, thereby inhibiting its ability to infect host cells
  2. Inhibiting replication of already infected cells
  3. Reducing infected cells’ resistance to treatment with antiviral medication
  • Inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 main protease.

Quercetin in COVID-19 Medical Literature

In Part 3, Modern Discontent reviews some of the clinical trials that have taken place. One COVID-19-specific study found that people who took zinc and two zinc ionophores — quinine drops and quercetin — had lower incidence of COVID-19 than the control group. Over the course of the study (20 weeks), only two of the 53 test subjects became symptomatic, compared to 12 of the 60 controls. As noted by Modern Discontent:

“Although this didn’t test quercetin in isolation, the study does suggest that over-the-counter, easily accessible compounds may be extremely beneficial in fighting against COVID, especially when taken as a prophylactic.”

In another trial, 76 outpatients who tested positive but had only mild symptoms were given 1,000 mg of Quercetin Phytosome® (quercetin in sunflower phospholipids that increase oral absorption 20-fold) per day for 30 days, in addition to standard care (analgesics, oral steroids and antibiotics). Another 76 patients were given standard of care only.

In the quercetin group, only 9.2% of participants went on to require hospitalization, compared to 28.9% of patients who received standard of care only. According to the authors:

“The results revealed a reduction in frequency and length of hospitalization, in need of non-invasive oxygen therapy, in progression to intensive care units and in number of deaths.

The results also confirmed the very high safety profile of quercetin and suggested possible anti-fatigue and pro-appetite properties. QP [Quercetin Phytosome®] is a safe agent and in combination with standard care, when used in early stage of viral infection, could aid in improving the early symptoms and help in preventing the severity of COVID-19 disease.”

Quercetin was also featured in two scientific reviews published in 2020. The first, published in in the Integrative Medicine journal in May 2020,32 highlighted quercetin’s promotion of SIRT2, which inhibits NLRP3 inflammasome.

The second review article, published in the June 19, 2020, issue of Frontiers in Immunology, highlighted quercetin’s usefulness as a COVID-19 treatment when used in conjunction with vitamin C. The vitamin C recycles oxidized quercetin, producing a synergistic effect. It also enhances quercetin’s antiviral capacity.

Food as Medicine

With the advent of processed foods, many important nutrients have been lost or minimized in the average person’s diet. Quercetin, being found in fresh fruits, vegetables and berries is one of them. Unfortunately, while essential vitamins and minerals are generally recognized for their importance, antioxidants such as quercetin are often overlooked, and sometimes labeled as “pseudoscience” or “fad” supplements. As noted by Modern Discontent:

“The great number of benefits that these compounds contribute to humans cannot be overstated … An argument can be made that not only could quercetin prove beneficial to our health, but an absence of it may prove detrimental in the long term.”

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s the importance of basic health and a healthy immune function. In this regard, a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables can go a long way. Nutritional supplements also have their place, especially in situations like a pandemic.

Summary

In conclusion, Modern Discontent provides the following summary of findings:

“There’s evidence that quercetin may work similarly to hydroxychloroquine — It seems that quercetin may operate as both an immunomodulator and a zinc ionophore. Its use as an over-the-counter anti-allergic supplement as well as its use for asthma indicates an ability to affect the production of histamine and cytokines …

Quercetin has plenty of other benefits — … Antioxidants … are some of the most well studied compounds, with possible anti-cancer, pro-heart and pro-organ benefits. Add on possible antimicrobial properties and it becomes hard to argue that this is nothing more than a possible fad supplement.

Although limited, there is some evidence that quercetin may be effective against SARS-CoV2 — Computer models and in vitro studies suggest that ACE2 receptors and the main protease of SARS-CoV2 may be good target candidates for quercetin … the limited number of studies suggest quercetin may be effective, especially if used early on or as a prophylactic.

Dietary quercetin is the main source of quercetin, and its deficiency in modern diets may be contributing to our health problems — Quercetin is primarily sourced from colorful fruits, vegetables, teas … all foods that many of our ancestors would have consumed on a regular basis … Modern ‘enriched’ foods tend to supplement with additional vitamins and minerals, but may miss out on other plant-derived compounds that have played a substantial role in our diet.

Similar to reduced sunlight exposure and the need for increased vitamin D supplementation, we may need to look at possible supplementation of overlooked compounds such as polyphenols. Sourcing these compounds from real foods would prove the most beneficial, but in groups of people who may not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, quercetin and polyphenol supplementation may be useful.

This would include people with alternative diets such as keto, who may avoid high carb fruits, and thus may be missing a key nutrient in their diets.

Quercetin has plenty of benefits, and for those who may be missing out on it in their diet they may want to look into sourcing it with supplementation. Don’t take this as a prescription or recommendation, but an argument to examine your own health and see what you may be lacking …”

Sources and References

https://www.theepochtimes.com/fights-covid-like-hydroxychloroquine-yet-easier-to-find_4179040.html?utm_source=News&utm_campaign=Breaking-2021-12-29-2&utm_medium=email

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Merry Christmas 2021

So this year I will try a Christmas Card ‘blog post’. (I do have this ‘blog’ that tracks some of what I think.) 20 and 21 – who would have thunk it?! Well, at least in 2021 covid (or perhaps the authorities?) began losing its grip on us and life was not nearly as restricted as 2020.

After my retirement in 2020, my bread baking shifted, not into high, but let’s say into 2nd gear. But who is there to eat it all??

Bread
Martin took up bread baking soon after he retired

My cousin, Pete, hauled his float-boat from Seattle to the Maumee River and three float trips followed. Lots of fun. We even left the souvenir of an anchor at the Jerome Rd rapids that first trip down! The Maumee River got just a little low on that last float; not what Pete is used to in the PNW.

Pete and Martin with float boat
Pete and Martin (both Rossol) did three float tips on the Maumee spring 2021
White Bass
Couple of days the white bass were really hitting.

And returning from a Kiawah Island Memorial Day weekend- with our Mark and Klaudia -allowed for a long planned stop at Jefferson’s Monticello: What a treat!

Monticello
Memorial Day trip to Kiawah Island SC allowed for visit to Monticello!

I do like to get out on my cycle. Its flat as a pancake in NW Ohio, but there are some great roads and Rails-to-Trails for cycling, and why not take advantage? And that bread seems to disappear a bit faster when I’m riding!

Martin cycling
Martin is out on his cycle about any day the weather permits.

We were able to do some traveling- in the US – and visited children in Kansas City and Salt Lake City.

Come on, this pose is a ‘must’ at any National Park!
SLC
Dinner out with Evie and Josh in Salt Lake City
Old Faithful: Just ain’t what he used to be…
You don’t want to meet this guy outside the car.
YellowStone – what a gift of God to America!
Traveling east out of Durango CO, what a beautiful valley!
Elevators and grain piles. This scene kept repeating.
Mad Tree Brewing Co. in Cincinnati.

Jennifer’s brother John [Johnny] died August 22 after a short injury-related illness. He was 66, like me, and this was unexpected. He was so loved by friends and acquaintances in Cincinnati, where he was involved in music, pottery and the arts. As Jennifer continues to work through his estate and trust, his friends have really blessed us.

We cherished a dinner on Johnny’s porch after his death

My mother(92) and father (95) still live in the house they bought in 1956. We were able to make more visits to see them in 2021 than in 2020, for sure.

Getting to see Martin’s parents as often as we could. (Herbert 95, Nelda 92)

And so, from Jennifer and Martin to you: We wish you a Very Merry Christmas season and pray that you grow closer to Jesus in 2022!

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