Category Archives: Food

Nutrition #Churnalism Part 1

Source: Nutrition #Churnalism Part 1

Before we begin to cover current articles, we’re going to dive into some of the topics that are particularly rich veins for the churnalist.

Each year scientific and medical journals publish nearly 2 million new articles.  These articles include reports of clinical findings that change the practice of medicine and scientific discoveries that advance our understanding of biomedicine. They also report research that is flawed, misinterpreted, or of little importance.

The many and varied news outlets that comprise our health news ecosystem report on a tiny subset of these articles. The articles that are covered in the “lay press” are not a random sample but a carefully chosen, curated selection. They are the articles that news outlets know will interest readers, listeners, and viewers. These are the articles that will attract eyes, ears, clicks, and advertising dollars. This is where churnalism begins. Researchers publish all forms of investigation. Some of it is important now and some might be important in a decade or more and is intended to inform their colleagues working in their field. Some of it is flawed or unimportant, and published in poorly edited journals. Churnalists sensationalize the earliest, preliminary research and cast an uncritical spotlight on the poorly done or meaningless research that deserves only to be ignored.

Some topics routinely get more coverage than others. The news media is in love with nutrition science. This is not surprising. We all need to eat and what we eat has the  potential to affect our health. The media’s love, however, is not indiscriminate. Red wine, dark chocolate, berries, nuts, coffee are the catnip of health news. Other foodstuffs get short shrift. No one seems interested in studying sherry, bay leaves, pretzels, pumpkin seeds, or peppermint tea. What gets reported is based less on science than what is popularly believed to be healthy. More people think that coffee is healthful than think pumpkin seeds are.

Not only do a handful of topics get the most attention but the articles that do get covered, tend to be low quality, sensational, and poorly reproducible. A few years ago, we compared 75 articles that were covered by major newspapers to 75 articles that appeared at the same time in top medical journals. Articles in top journals were more likely to be randomized trials, inarguably the most reliable study design, than articles covered in the newspapers. Articles in top journals had larger sample sizes than those in the news, again a marker that the results of the studies suggested truth rather than a chance finding. Now, certainly, newspapers are not choosing articles to report on based on their poor design. What this investigation showed is that when newspapers choose what to cover they are valuing something other than the quality of the science.          .

So here are a few examples of the coverage of nutritional science. We start with nutritional science because, more than any other topic, these are the stories that frustrate us and our colleagues and most frequently mislead our friends and our patients. Because one of us takes pride in his Sicilian heritage, we will begin with meatballs in tomato sauce.

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs 

You are poking around the internet one afternoon and you come upon an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) with the headline “Meatballs could ruin anti-cancer benefits of tomato sauce, study says.” How could you possibly not click on this article. This would be especially true if you just spent the afternoon making a pot of spaghetti and combining it with home-made tomato sauce, some Parmigiano, and four perfect meatballs.

The article’s message is perfectly stated in its first four sentences:

“Tomato sauce and meatballs make a tasty dish, but the combination could have an unusual effect on your health. Tomatoes contain some anti-cancer benefits thanks to a compound called lycopene. Not only does it protect against cell damage, but it also gives tomatoes their color. But the lycopene could disappear when eaten with foods that have lots of iron.”

In order to make sense of this study, we have to review a few basics. For years antioxidants have been a source of hope. The theory goes that when the body digests food, or is exposed to dangerous substances like cigarette smoke or radiation, free radicals are formed. A free radical is a highly reactive, short-lived molecule, which might play a role in heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants are substances that might protect cells against free radicals.

How does this all relate to tomato sauce and meatballs. Tomatoes are the largest dietary source of lycopene, a potent anti-oxidant. Therefore, if antioxidants prevent cancer and strokes, and if tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant, then eating tomatoes should prevent cancer and strokes. From what you have read so far you are getting the idea that the benefit of tomatoes is far from certain. Free radicals might be bad for you. If they are, antioxidants might help. If they do, tomatoes might also help because they contain antioxidants.

Unfortunately, all the evidence linking lycopene and health outcomes comes from observational studies. Observational studies are not experiments. They are studies in which researchers just observe people who do or do not take a pill, adhere to a diet, or have a procedure and compare the outcomes of the two groups over time. An observational study of antioxidant and prostate cancer would compare people who consume lots of antioxidants with those who consume small amounts and compare their rates of cancer.  Most observational studies demonstrate correlation, not causation. They cannot tell you whether healthy people, as part of broader patterns of behavior, eat more tomatoes and also have less cancer and fewer strokes or whether these people have less cancer and strokes because they eat tomatoes. Of course, it is the latter that we really care about. We want to know whether we should eat tomatoes and whether doctors should be recommending them to their patients.

This is such an important point that we consider it the 1st deadly sin of churnalism: ignoring that correlation does not imply causation. When a journalist commits this sin he assumes that because tomato intake is associated with less cancer, then tomatoes must be that cause, and thus people would eat more tomatoes. To help you remember this, we will reproduce one of our favorite cartoons of all time: by the ridiculously creative and talented Randall Munroe

Ok, back to the article from AJC. In the fall of 2019, researchers found that, “lycopene could disappear when eaten with foods that have lots of iron.” That was the key finding when seven healthy male volunteers were given lycopene with an iron supplement.7 Iron supplements reduced absorption of lycopene.

So, are you seeing the connection to meatballs? Making that leap took us a moment too. The logic goes that because meatballs contain iron, eating them with lycopene-rich food (like tomato sauce) will lower the body’s absorption of lycopene and hence reduce the anti-cancer properties of the tomato-based sauce.

If that sounds like a stretch, it is. There are a litany of problems with such logic. First, whether lycopene actually lowers cancer risk is unclear. We only have observational studies on the topic. These studies tell us that higher levels of lycopene intake are associated with, but do not necessarily cause, lower risk. We do not have a single well-done randomized trial that proves more lycopene, let alone more tomato sauce, lowers cancer risk. Second, taking an iron supplement is not the same as eating foods that contain iron. This study does not provide evidence that foods containing iron impair lycopene absorption. Third, the effect of iron supplementation on the absorption of lycopene in seven men says nothing about how a larger, more diverse population would be affected by this intervention.

In this one article the author managed to commit the first and also the second of the seven deadly sins. First, the moment the finding became “eating tomatoes lowers cancer risk”, we had correlation equals causation. Second, there was extrapolation and generalization. A basic science finding, that iron decreases lycopene absorption, is extrapolated to meatballs preventing the lycopene in tomato sauce from being absorbed. The findings in seven men are generalized to an entire population.  What this study means for real people eating a plate of spaghetti and meatballs is absolutely unknown.

We think it is important to note that the reported experiment was fine to do. It is “hypothesis generating.” You can imagine a second researcher reading it and thinking, “hmm, that’s interesting, I wonder if that is true. I think I will design a study in which I measure lycopene in 100 people after eating tomato sauce and compare those levels to the levels in 100 people who ate tomato sauce with meatballs.” If that study showed a difference, then a researcher might go on to run a larger, longer, more expensive study in which she followed subjects for years to see if they had different rates of cancer or strokes. The ultimate study, one that would be worthy of coverage, would be a trial in which people were randomized to eat spaghetti with tomato sauce each week or spaghetti with tomato sauce and meatballs.

In this case, the issue is not that the research was flawed, but that the results should never have made the news. The results of the actual research are interesting to very (very) few people, so they were aggressively extrapolated and sold as something altogether different.

A spicy finding

In the fall of 2019, researchers from Italy published something astonishing, staggering, simply amazing: a research article “showing that” eating chili peppers four times a week cut the risk of dying from a heart attack by 40%. Multiple news outlets reported on the research. CNN ran the headline, “Eating chilies cuts risk of death from heart attack and stroke, study says.”

Before telling you anything about the research or the article that reported on it, it is worth putting into context just how impressive the results are. The cholesterol lowering statin medications are the most effective medications ever developed for treating cardiovascular disease. These drugs, marketed under names like Lipitor, Zocor, and Crestor, have revolutionized the care of patients with cardiovascular disease. The most impressive results we have for these drugs show that, in high-risk patients, statins decrease the risk of death from heart attack and stroke by 34%. If the chili pepper study were to be true, eating four chilies a week would be more effective than the best drugs for cardiovascular disease that have ever been developed. Moreover, this research contends that chili peppers appear not only to decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes, but everything else as well. Chilies appear to be a long-lost wonder drug, hiding in plain sight, capable of improving all of human health.

Not surprisingly, when you analyze the research study, you find clues that chilies, although maybe delicious, are not a panacea. The demographics of the people included in the study who eat chilies are strikingly different from those of the people who do not. The demographic table lists 16 different characteristics and chili pepper eaters and non-chili pepper eaters differ in all of them. People who eat chilies are more likely to be men, more likely to be managers, more likely to take statins, less likely to have cancer, and more likely to eat garlic. Realize that these 16 characteristics are only the ones that were measured or reported. One could probably hypothesize that chili pepper eaters also have higher net worth and annual income. They probably also differ in the cars they drive, the restaurants they visit, the amount they drink, and how much they exercise.

In statistics speak, this is called confounding. Confounding occurs when you think there is a causative relationship between two variables, an exposure and an outcome, but the relationship is actually due to other variables lurking in the background. This happens all the time when you compare two groups that are different. You think it is the chili peppers that are saving lives, but in fact it is the dozen other things that chili-philes do that chili-phobes do not. One of our favorite examples of confounding is the relationships between matchbooks and lung cancer. Many people who habitually carry matchbooks (or cigarette lighters) get lung cancer while almost nobody who does not carry these implements gets sick. Looking at these data with no more knowledge, you could conclude that matchbooks caused lung cancer. Of course, the lurking, confounding, causative variable is the smoking of cigarettes.


Researchers can use statistical methods to remove (adjust for) the effect of confounders, but only insofar as they measure them. The fact that chili-philes and chili-phobes are so strikingly different in the factors the researchers did measure suggests that even after adjusting for these factors there will still be many confounders remaining. This is called residual confounding.

Confounding underlies our first deadly sin of churnalism, failing to recognize that correlation does not imply causation. It is because observational studies are compromised by confounding that they cannot prove causation. We treat the failure to recognize confounding as a sin all its own, our 3rd sin, because, from a journalistic perspective, ignoring confounding often means ignoring the most interesting aspect of a study.

When you recognize that chilies cannot possibly be as effective as stated, and that the apparent benefit of chilies is therefore attributable to the enormous differences between people who eat chilies frequently and those who do not, the results of this study become interesting, but not for the reasons pitched by the CNN article or any of the other articles that covered it. Chili pepper eating is a marker of healthy people. Why is this? We do not know but we can certainly hypothesize. People do not eat chilies for two reasons, they either do not like them or they cannot eat them. Older people may prefer, or need to, eat blander diets. Neither of us considers ourselves old, but we admit we can no longer tolerate spicy food like we used to. This is a type of confounding called healthy-user bias and it certainly played a role in this study.

The iron and lycopene article was a reasonable study that should not have been reported. The chili pepper study was bad research. It was a flawed study that did not control for confounding variables. The authors of the study and the journal who published it are at fault here. The CNN journalists who covered it practiced churnalism. They took the study at face value and did not question the results. They committed not only the 3rd sin,  failure to recognize confounding, but the 4th and 5th as well.

Our 4th deadly sin of churnalism is ignoring biologic plausibility. There is no plausible explanation as to how matches cause lung cancer or how eating four chilies a week are better than our best medications. Now, they may be, but you have to admit that it seems implausible and if it seems implausible, you had better have some overwhelming evidence to support your claims.

The 5th sin is one that shows up in almost every article we cover, the disclaim and pivot maneuver. Journalists commit this sin because they really do know what they are doing. They see the flaws in their reporting. The CNN article points out that the study shows an association between chili peppers and better health but does not prove causation. But as in so much churnalism, the headline and the bulk of the article overwhelm the cautionary sentence or two — the sentence or two that should have been the message of the whole article.

If you aren’t eating organic, you might as well eat poison

Let’s cover one more nutrition article. In the fall of 2018 headlines rang out “You can cut your cancer risk by eating organic, a new study says” and “People who eat organic 25 per cent less likely to get cancer.”

We instantly exchanged emails:

Whole Food shoppers less likely to develop cancer than Target shoppers

Truffle eaters less likely to develop cancer than mushroom eaters

Americans who eat croissants less likely to develop cancer

Americans who pronounce croissant “crescent” more likely to develop cancer

The email chain reveals that the authors of this book have a lot of free time, think that they are very clever, and that it is pretty obvious that people who eat organic food are likely quite different from those who do not. Organic food eaters are probably more health conscious and have the means to afford organic foods. Once again, this seems like a classic case of confounding.

Taking a closer look at the underlying research, there are even more problems. The questionnaire the authors used to gauge how much organic food people actually ate had not been validated. In other words, we don’t know if the questionnaire actually measures how much organic food people eat. The questionnaire might just measure how often people think they eat organic food, or how likely they are to say they eat organic food when given a questionnaire. Validation is hugely important. It is the difference between asking someone how much they smoke and actually counting the cigarettes they consume. The numbers are often very different.

Next, as expected, the demographics of the people who reported eating organic food and those that did not were markedly different. People who reported eating organic had higher monthly income, more education, were more likely to be women, were less likely to be smokers, drank less alcohol, were thinner, and ate less red or processed meat. Now, of course, the researchers used statistical methods, in this case logistic regression, to adjust for many of these characteristics. This means they essentially removed the effect of the confounding variables leaving behind only the relationship between organic food and cancer risk. In practice, however, these adjustments are less powerful and more complicated than you might imagine.

First, as you read in the discussion of the chile pepper article, a researcher can only adjust for the characteristics she considers and measures. Second, you need to have enough people in your study to adequately adjust for confounders. A rough rule of thumb is that you need at least 10 people in your study for every confounder for which you adjust. Third, even if a researcher has considered and measured the confounding variables and has a lot of people in the study, she must consider if she has measured the confounders precisely enough. Consider the measurement of income: a researcher could adjust for household income, but she might only have a general sense of it. Maybe income groupings are <50k, 50-100,000, and > 100,000.  In many places in America, there is an ocean of difference between 51,000 and 99,000, and in others, a huge difference between 101,000, and 1,000,000.  Yet, in both cases, these people would be lumped in the same category.

What this study does show is that the type of people who say they eat a lot of organic food are less likely to develop cancer than those who say they do not—about that there is no room for argument. What is entirely uncertain is whether eating more organic food has anything to do with their cancer risk. However, given what the coverage of this research was, we expect that most people came away thinking that organic food prevents cancer. Some of these people probably increased the amount of money they spend on organic food. This is an opportunity cost. People are spending money on one thing, thus not spending money on something else, and, probably, not getting what they expect for their money.

That’s three good examples. Next week, we’ll present one more example of nutritional churnalism but with that one, we will shift the blame from journalists to researchers.


C&C. Hunter biolabs. jab forever. kill the goose.

Source: Coffee & Covid ☙ Wednesday, July 6, 2022 ☙ NEVER EVER


Uh-oh! The cat is rapidly clawing its way out of the biolabs censorship sack. Yesterday, top government media mouthpiece Bloomberg ran an article headlined, “US Ambassador Urges China to Stop Spreading Russian ‘Lies’.”

The article not only finally reported that Russia is accusing the U.S. of running bioweapons labs in Ukraine, but also that China apparently believes it, too. In a Chinese government-sponsored “World Peace Forum” on Monday, US Ambassador to China Nicolas Burns said this:

“I would hope that Chinese foreign ministry spokespersons would stop accusing NATO of starting this war. That’s Russian propaganda. I hope Foreign Ministry spokespersons would also stop telling lies about American bioweapons labs, which do not exist in Ukraine. These all came from Russia. Unfortunately, this has been picked up by the Chinese.”

Unfortunate, indeed.

Bloomberg reported that top Chinese officials and its state media have repeatedly blamed the U.S. for provoking Russia through NATO expansion. And Chinese diplomats have officially “amplified” Russian-backed “conspiracy theories” that the U.S. produced biological weapons in Ukraine.

The paper then uncritically reported that the U.S. government denies the claims and argues that China is spreading Russian misinformation. What Bloomberg didn’t mention is that there are now TWO members of the UN Security Council — the two largest players apart from the U.S. — that are now accusing us of running illegal bioweapons labs in the beleaguered country.

Bioweapons are considered weapons of mass destruction, just like nuclear warheads. Just saying.

Having been forced to admit that there were U.S.-linked biological RESEARCH labs in Ukraine, the U.S. seems to be trying to thread the needle by making the childish distinction that the gain-of-function research on deadly pathogens is not a “weapon” because it was for purely defensive purposes. Sure, the bugs COULD BE used by unethical actors, like Russians, as weapons. But you can trust US. We would NEVER do that, or accidentally release a devastating global pandemic.

Here’s Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland carefully explaining to Senator Marco Rubio that, while there ARE dangerous biolabs in Ukraine, they aren’t WEAPONS labs, no, never:

Once again, this story is not about what our diplomat said. The news is that Bloomberg reported that the bioweapons accusations exist. This kind of embargo-breaking usually signals some kind of pending narrative pivot. I can’t wait.

🔥 The disputed labs in Ukraine have been clearly linked with an American company called MetaBiota. MetaBiota was also the only American company allowed to work at the Wuhan lab in China. MetaBiota’s start-up capital came from Rosemont Seneca — Hunter Biden’s company.

Here’s a 2014 email to Hunter Biden, recovered from his laptop, from MetaBiota VP Mary Guttieri, offering Hunter a helpful memorandum about how “we can potentially leverage our team, networks, and concepts to assert Ukraine’s cultural and economic independence from Russia[.]”

So many questions. First, what was Hunter doing dabbling in Ukraine’s independence from Russia? Why was he so interested in THAT? Why was an American biotechnology company involved in Ukraine’s independence from Russia? What does that Ukrainian independence from Russia have to do with biotech?

But the question that really gets me is, when Russia inevitably became aware of these efforts, when Russian prostitute-loving Hunter inevitably spilled the beans, how were the Russians SUPPOSED to respond? Especially after Hunter’s dad, the “Big Guy,” then infested the office of the Presidency in 2020 under — let’s be honest — somewhat sketchy circumstances?

One suspects the Russians could feel rather gloomy about Hunter Biden and MetaBiota now being fueled by the entire apparatus of the United States government.

And, to place another layer on the slime cake, here’s a photo of Nathan Wolfe, WEF young global leader and CEO of MetaBiota, posing with Epstein’s top procurer and daughter of CIA pet billionaire Robert Maxwell, notorious pedophile and madame Ghislaine Maxwell:

You REALLY can’t make this stuff up. Nobody would believe it.

🔥 British bankster and WEF bootlicker Sajid Javid, the UK’s top Covid Minister, resigned suddenly yesterday, and he did it right, publishing a fiery bridge-burning letter he sent to Boris Johnson, saying he’d lost confidence in the prime minister. “It has been an enormous privilege to serve in this role, but I regret that I can no longer continue in good conscience,” the UK’s head health minister told his boss.

Javid is just the latest rat scampering off Boris Johnson’s sinking political ship. After a no-confidence vote last month, a slew of ministers with unpronounceable names have resigned so far: Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid, Bim Afolami, Saqib Bhatti, Jonathan Gullis, and Andrew Murrison all rage-quit, presumably getting out before the political contagion spreads any further.

Johnson, who pinned the British people down under an endless series of useless lockdowns while he threw gala parties at HQ for two years, now finds himself in political quarantine. It’s a darned shame.

🦸‍♂️ Back on this side of the pond, yesterday Governor DeSantis signed the “No Patients Left Alone Act,” which increases patient protections, makes hospital visitation by relatives a fundamental right, forbids limiting physical contact with patients, and bans hospitals from requiring visitors to prove covid vaccination status.

DeSantis is a pleasant contrast to Boris Johnson’s imploding administration.

💉 Meanwhile, north of the border, the Toronto Sun ran an article Monday headlined, “’TWO DOSES ARE NO LONGER ENOUGH’: Canadians Required to Get COVID Shot Every Nine Months.” Ha! Boosted!

Canada’s Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said that the previous definition of “fully vaccinated” makes no sense, explaining that it’s more important that shots are “up to date” and whether or not a person has “received a vaccination in the last nine months.” Haha, suckers. You believed it was just two little pricks and you’d be done.

Duclos didn’t specifically comment on the fact that the jabs were designed for the original strain of the virus and clearly aren’t working on the new variants, except that he admitted, “We will never be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”

Never ever ever.

“Like the virus, our immunity also evolves. Two doses are no longer enough,” the health minister explained. Apparently, INFINITE doses are also no longer enough.

Most Canadian jab mandates have been lifted, but when asked, Duclos wouldn’t rule out the return of mandated shots. He would only say, “We want to be prepared for next fall and that requires an up-to-date vaccination which is based on the nine months.”

Every nine months. Weird. That’s the exact same timeframe as the human gestation cycle. Just saying. Don’t cancel me.

🔥 Today, a new European Union law requires all new cars and trucks to include “black boxes” that record activity and performance information, including whether or not seat belts are in use. In this initial incarnation, only law enforcement can access the data, which actually seems a lot more sinister to me than privacy advocates’ worries that insurance companies will eventually use the data to set individual prices.

Since the black boxes are integrated with vehicles’ computer systems, critics’ other concerns include whether officials would use real-time access to enforce speed limits, remotely shut cars down to wait for police to arrive, or even disable vehicles completely because the owner tweeted something mean about people who wear face masks in the shower, or wrote on Facebook that President Xi of China is impotent and bears a striking resemblance with Winnie the Pooh, which he is and he does.

🥕 Farmers’ protests continued in the Netherlands this weekend and yesterday. Food producers are upset over a 2019 ‘green law’ called the Habitats Directive, which requires automatic reductions in farming if proportions of native plant species change from increased nitrogen in the soil or for any other reason.

Well, now the species are changing or something. Dutch growers claim the law’s automatic limits will require mass slaughter of food animals and the shuttering of up to a third of the country’s farms — right when global famine is blipping onto the apocalypse radar.

Haha! Stupid farmers! They think it’s just a coincidence caused by morons minting loopy environmental regulations. “At the time, politicians having always been as stupid as they are now, nobody was thinking ahead and wondering, look, what might this mean in the future?” Dutch representative Thierry Baudet said.

The Dutch farmers are protesting by withholding veggie shipments, using their trucks and tractors as rolling road blocks, and getting up to all sorts of other creative ways to communicate their dissatisfaction, like using manure spreaders to deliver pungent products to the front steps of government buildings.

For some reason, the protesting farmers seem a little, well, untrusting of the government’s intentions. In widespread social media chatter, the farmers have been warning each other about “Romeos” — undercover government agent provocateurs — who are inciting violence or even committing violent acts themselves to blame on the farmers. Some circulating videos appear to show men dressed as farmers vandalizing a government building and then all climbing into a police van a couple blocks away.

Dumb cops. Never use the official police van! Not when you are committing crimes, planting evidence, and otherwise secretly trying to get innocent citizens in trouble.

Anyway, it sounds like the Netherlands’ deep state has been getting pro tips from the January 6th Commission. I’ve been tracking this story for several days and have yet to see any official response from the Dutch government addressing the main issues, like whether it is TOTALLY FLIPPING INSANE to slaughter Bessie the Milk Cow and shutter Alpine Acres right when a global famine is kicking off.

The Dutch seem intent on live-action role playing a childhood fairy tale. Here’s a hint: what does “killing the golden goose” mean?

📈 Haha, stupid Dutch people. You voted for those dummies, so you deserve what… um, hold on a sec. Maybe I spoke too soon. A Saturday UPI article was headlined, “Biden Proposes to Block Offshore Drilling in Atlantic, Pacific Oceans, Allow Some In Gulf of Mexico.”

Oops. I guess we did it, too. Thanks a lot, 81 million alleged Biden voters.

That’s right! Just like the leaders in the Netherlands, our leaders have concocted the awesome, totally-green idea to shutter production in the midst of a shortage; in our case, cutting oil production in the middle of a worldwide fuel crisis. Brilliant!

What does “self-inflicted injury” mean?

Released on Friday, Biden’s proposal would cap new oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico at only ten, allow one possible lease sale in northern Alaska, and ZERO lease sales for the entire Atlantic and Pacific drilling areas — through 2028.

Joe’s draft plan will be published in the federal register later this month allowing a 90-day public comment period. I can’t wait to see the comments. It should be epic.

Just in case you were wondering, Joe didn’t come up with this insane idea completely on his own. This terrific brainstorm is being provided to you by the most reckless, self-destructive political party in history. The UPI explained, “During a legislative session earlier this year, Democrats urged [former vice-president] Joe Biden to do more to stop offshore drilling.”

On the other hand, 14 Republican states sued the Biden Administration for banning new oil and gas drilling on federal lands, baffling Democrats by arguing that bans drive up energy costs. Imagine that. Shady environmental groups are outraged by the proposal to allow even ten leases in the Gulf over the next five years. “The Biden administration had an opportunity to meet the moment on climate and end new offshore oil leasing in Interior’s five-year program,” said Drew Caputo, vice president of litigation at Earthjustice.

Let’s drill down a little. EarthJustice’s website brags that it employs 180 lawyers in 15 regional offices and has an astounding 650 current lawsuits. SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY. Just lawyers’ salaries alone would be well over $40 million annually. The website says they raise $150 million every year from ‘individual donations and foundations.” FOUNDATIONS being the key word. Think Gates, Soros.

They’re busy little beavers down at the EarthJustice center. In fact, just yesterday the legal group reversed a Trump-era modification to the Endangered Species Act:

I often wonder whether shadily-financed groups like this are really the most dangerous threat we face, rather than corrupt politicians, cartel drug dealers, Russian oligarchs, covid deniers, or soccer moms.

🔥 In the latest “outbreak” reminiscent of the Abbott lab shutdown, the CDC says it thinks Big Olaf Creamery, an ice cream brand only sold in Florida, may be to blame for a small listeria outbreak. Between January and June, 14 out of the 17 people interviewed by the CDC reported eating Big Olaf ice cream before symptoms started.

Although it is cooperating with a recall, Big Olaf is not so sure. “Our brand has not been confirmed to be linked to these cases,” said their official statement. “Nothing has been proven,” and “it is only speculation” that their ice cream is to blame.

Listeria, a type of bacterial food poisoning usually treated with antibiotics, can be serious for people with weak or underdeveloped immune systems. Either way, the symptoms are on the messier, less pleasant side.

I’ve never tried Big Olaf ice cream, never even heard of it. Is it weird that I want to try some now?

💉 80’s heavy-metal band Guns N’ Roses canceled its Glasgow concert yesterday, vaguely citing sudden and unexpected “medical concerns.”

💉 It’s been a tough week for 80’s bands. Last Friday, the Red Hot Chili Peppers also had to cancel their concert, also in Glasgow, due to a sudden illness.

Maybe they ate some delicious Big Olaf ice cream? If so, it was probably the Whitehouse Cherry flavor. Gross. Oh wait, it’s sold only in Florida. So it must be something else? The band isn’t saying.

While researching Guns N’ Roses and the Chili Peppers, without even trying, I found at least half dozen other performances and musical venues that suddenly canceled on short notice within the last week due to “illness,” including the St. Edward’s Orchestra Soloists Concert, the Atomic Stop, Garbage, Imogen Creedy & Hilary Suckling, Rénovations and Mezcal, the Quay Art’s Acoustic Originals concert, a performance of Hamilton, and ten Aer Lingus flights in one day:

Quick! Apply more boosters!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, and enjoy your sudden and unexpected week of Coffee & Covid! I’ll see you tomorrow.


If you can, help me get the truth out and spread optimism and hope:

Twitter: @jchilders98
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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.


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.


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.