Alcohol-Free Beer, Wine, and Whiskey

Alcohol-Free Beer, Wine, and Whiskey

An alternative to alcohol consumption that many people are not aware of is alcohol-free beer, wine, and whiskey. This is not going to be acceptable for someone who is drinking for the drug effect of alcohol. However, for those who drink for social or taste reasons, alcohol-free drinks are becoming a big plus. According to market analysis groups, global consumption of no alcohol beverages is growing two to three times faster than alcohol consumption.

Alcohol-free bars have opened around the world. For example, in Austin, Texas, Sans Bar has live music and various alcohol-free drinks. The founder is a former addiction counselor who has been sober for 14 years. New and old businesses are manufacturing alcohol-free beverages. Anheuser-Busch has introduced an alcohol-free Budweiser Zero beer. Small companies like Spiritless and Ritual Zero Proof have opened and are producing no-alcohol whiskey, gin, and tequila.

Drinking may not be an issue for most Christians. But for people struggling with health issues due to alcohol, athletes, and pregnant women, the social pressure to drink may be counteracted by alcohol-free beer, wine, and whiskey. Christians should be reminded of Paul’s admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 to “Abstain from all appearances of evil.” We hope that non-alcoholic drinks could be viewed as a tool to address problems, not as a social lubricant.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Associated Press article by Dee-Ann Durbin

Healthy Microbiome Design

Healthy Microbiome Design

The colonies of microbes living on and in our bodies make up what is called our microbiome. The bacteria outnumber our own body cells by a ratio of ten to one. Your body is host to 100 trillion bacteria of at least 10,000 different species. Before you start to worry about that, most of the bacteria will not hurt you. More than that, you couldn’t live without a healthy microbiome.

Some bacteria are essential to make our immune system work to prevent infection. Others make it possible for us to digest the food we eat. Bacteria are on our skin, in our lungs, in our mouths, especially in our gut. Your digestive system needs a good balance of bacteria for proper digestion. Some medical experts think that an imbalance of gut flora (bacteria) leads to irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.

There has been a boom in sales of probiotics in pills, liquids, and yogurts in recent years. These contain bacteria that may help your digestive system, but the amounts and types of bacteria may not necessarily be the ones needed for your system. Everyone has a somewhat different microbiome, and, as we recently posted, it all starts in our mother’s womb. Breastfeeding further adds beneficial bacteria to the baby’s flora.

When we take antibiotics, we can kill some beneficial bacteria resulting in digestive and other health problems. Science is trying to determine what is required for a healthy microbiome so that doctors can treat various issues that many times come from our poor choices regarding our health and diet. God designed a system that works, and we are just beginning to recognize that and learn how to take care of it.

— Roland Earnst © 2021

Chemicals in Cosmetics – What Price Beauty?

Chemicals in Cosmetics – What Price Beauty?

A large percentage of the problems we have in life are our own doing. One of the places where this is becoming increasingly apparent is in the chemicals used in cosmetics.

The list of human problems is multiplying as more chemicals are used in beauty aids. Toluene is a solvent used in nail polishes and has been linked to miscarriages and some cancers. Foundations and eye shadows contain parabens, which disrupt hormones causing allergies and have been linked to miscarriages, cancer, and ADHD. Lipsticks and other cosmetics contain formaldehyde which causes cancer. Shampoos and conditioners contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which can cause liver damage, thyroid disease, and developmental issues. Many perfumes and deodorants contain phthalates which contribute to asthma, diabetes, and ADHD.

In their winter edition of Solutions magazine, the Environmental Defense Fund published stories of women working in beauty salons who have had miscarriages. The list of diseases they link to beauty products includes many soaps and lotions.

We cannot blame God when we use chemicals in cosmetics that cause serious diseases or organ failure. The real issue here is that most of us don’t know what will harm us and what will not. We urge our readers to look at the product labels to see the chemicals in cosmetics and lotions to ensure that what we use to improve our looks doesn’t cause serious health issues.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Potential Health Problems of Space Travel

Potential Health Problems of Space Travel

More and more data shows that leaving Earth and venturing into outer space away from Earth’s constant gravity and the protection of our atmosphere and magnetosphere is much more destructive than anyone imagined. One of our regular readers sent us a quote from NBC News about the potential health problems of space travel. Here is what it says:

“The number of deaths due to heart disease among the Apollo lunar astronauts is almost five times greater than that in non-flight astronauts, or astronauts who never flew missions in space, researchers from Florida State University found. Compared to astronauts who flew only in low Earth orbit (LEO), the heart risk among Apollo astronauts is four times higher. There were no differences between LEO and non-flight astronauts.”

We recently reported on the astronaut twin study, which showed physical changes even in low Earth orbit. We don’t yet know what potential health problems of space travel may become evident in the long-term.

Micro-gravity and exposure to radiation seem to combine to cause bodily harm. Earth’s magnetic field is more protective than science has understood. Working in the International Space Station is less of an issue because the LEO means that some of Earth’s protections still function. Going to Mars may be impossible with the present spaceship design.

We will be interested in future data on travel to the Moon and prolonged existence in outer space. We know that God’s design of planet Earth makes it suitable for life, but we are not fully aware of the potential health problems of space travel. You can read the full NBC report from HERE.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Good Soils Are Vital for Survival

Good Soils Are Vital for Survival

Many years ago in Alaska, I had a discussion with a biologist who was studying the Alaskan soils. His study revolved around the fact that Alaska has very little soil and what it does have is developing. The lack of soil in Alaska has limited plant growth and made the ecology dependent on migrating salmon. Soils are complex mixtures of organic matter, minerals, water, air, and billions of organisms that form over hundreds of years. Good soils are vital for survival. President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself.”

Research has shown that plants are designed to “call” for nutrients from the soil. A plant will release molecules called flavonoids, which cause bacteria in the soil to migrate into the plant and form nitrogen nodules on the roots. The nitrogen nodules generate food for the plant. If ample nitrogen is already available for the plant, it will not release the flavonoids.

This “hunger” by plants is vital to understand because many natural and human-caused processes can deplete the soil. Forest and brush fires, hurricanes, pollution, and climate change can deplete soils’ nitrogen content and kill plants. Studies of the giant sequoias in California have shown that the soil under them has twice as many bacteria as the soil under nearby sugar pines. We all know that bacteria influence human health, but bacteria also affect plant health and growth.

As our population increases and world climates change, it will become increasingly important to understand how soil allows us to feed our growing population. God’s design of the Earth includes providing the soils necessary to produce food. Good soils are vital for survival.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Reference: The National Science Foundation post on October 14, 2020.

Homeopathy Lawsuit Was Dismissed

Homeopathy Lawsuit Was Dismissed

One of the problems we all face is knowing whether the healthcare products we see advertised and on the store shelves actually work. The fact is that many of the advertised items are totally useless. In October of 2019, the Center for Inquiry sued Walmart for putting useless homeopathic products on shelves beside valid medicines. On May 20, 2020, the homeopathy lawsuit was dismissed by the District of Columbia Superior Court.

The Center for Inquiry said their concern is that consumers wouldn’t know what was useful and what was not. A good example is that just about every drug store and department store like Walmart sells products claiming to protect us from memory loss. Research has shown that most of them are useless. The Center for Inquiry will appeal the court’s decision. They have also filed a similar lawsuit against CVS, the country’s largest pharmacy chain.

Many of the products promoted as homeopathic cures have religious claims and are marketed by religious figures. We have had a personal interest in this with a family member using a homeopathic treatment for cancer to the exclusion of established medical treatment. That error ultimately resulted in the death of our loved one.

There is a biblical example of this in Acts 8:9-24 where a man called Simon “used sorcery and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest saying that this man is the great power of God; and to him they had regard, because that for a long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.” (Verses 9-11) There have always been scams and con artists who take people’s money for things that simply don’t work.

So how do we protect ourselves? The fact that the homeopathy lawsuit was dismissed should not prevent us from being skeptical of health claims made by anyone, including religious leaders or celebrities. Ask your doctor about anything you put into or on your body. There is a website called Quackwatch, which has links to health claims and products.

Taking care of our bodies is taking care of the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). We need to realize that doing that requires some effort on our part.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Reference: Skeptical Inquirer, September/October 2020, page 7.

Animal Viruses and Human Illness

Animal Viruses and Human Illness

The COVID-19 virus has been too lethal to ignore. This pandemic makes us realize that there are many viruses out there, and the current one is just the tip of the iceberg of what is possible. As early as AD 165 to 180, pandemics killed massive numbers of people. Smallpox killed 5 million, and bubonic plague killed 25 million on four different occasions starting in 541. Researchers today are attempting to catalog links between animal viruses and human illness. They estimate that there are probably 1.6 million animal viruses yet to be discovered in mammal and bird populations and that 827,000 of them could cause disease in humans.

Viruses are part of the natural world in which we live. They serve useful purposes in aiding animal digestion, reproduction, and elimination of wastes. The problem is that each animal has its own set of viruses suited for that animal’s diet and living conditions. If an animal’s virus jumps into another species with a different diet and living conditions, the results can be destructive. That is the connection between animal viruses and human illness. Most of the viruses we know about came into the human population from rodents, including rats, bats, birds, chimps, and mosquitos. Some have jumped through several animals such as bats giving the virus to cattle and camels, which gave it to humans.

The Old Testament laws had health restrictions, which made virus transmission less of a problem. People were also not in such proximity to one another or to animals that had destructive viruses. Living in very arid conditions reduced disease transmission, and the dietary laws worked against most virus transmission. When you read through Deuteronomy and Leviticus, you see elaborate precautions that we now understand had hygienic benefits to minimize viral transmission.

In the New Testament, many of these rules were continued. There was a prohibition against drinking blood, and the increased use of baking and boiling foods contributed to a low virus transmission rate. Moral rules that reduced the spread of disease included the elimination of polygamy and polyandry and the strong condemnation of prostitution. In time, the keeping of exotic pets and the acceptance of foods previously forbidden to Israel tended to thwart human attempts to fight disease.

God has given us the capacity to understand viruses and the connection between animal viruses and human illness. God has also given us the tools to control these virus issues. He has also given us hope for something better. Will we use the tools and techniques God gave us to stop the pandemics, or will we open our culture to more viral events in the future? Time will tell.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Data from “The Virus Hunters,” Smithsonian magazine, July/August 2020, and THIS STORY on virus hunters from 2018.

Is God’s Design of Our Bodies Faulty?

Is God's Design of Our Bodies Faulty?

One question repeatedly arises from skeptics, atheists, and people struggling with health issues. They want to know why we have all of the diseases, syndromes, and disabilities that afflict people. Is God’s design of our bodies faulty? Is the bad stuff that comes into our lives punishment for some transgression of God’s laws?

It seems that we have more things that can go wrong with us today than ever before, and a large percentage of our modern afflictions are genetic or congenital. It isn’t just that we have more names for current problems, but the problems themselves seem to be more abundant.

The Bible tells us that God is never the author of our problems. James 1:13 makes it clear that God never brings bad things upon us. The passage goes on to say, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights in whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning.”

A part of the answer to the source of these afflictions is our development of plastics. In 1922, the first synthetic plastic was sold by the Bakelite Corporation. In 2018, 400 million tons of new plastics were created. We all cringe when we see pictures of whales or sea turtles or albatrosses dying because of ingesting plastic, but we don’t realize that we too are consuming plastic. The average American consumes more than 74,000 microplastic particles every year. These particles contain bisphenol A and phthalates, which in turn attract polychlorinated biphenyls. These chemicals have been shown to affect brain and organ development in children, and they are linked to infertility, hormonal problems, and cardiovascular problems in adults.

There are efforts to control plastics production, and science is researching ways to remove dangerous chemicals from the plastics we use. Our point is that this is another case where blaming God for a problem that humans have created is not logical or reasonable. Is God’s design of our bodies faulty? As David wrote, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14). Much of what goes wrong with our bodies is due to our ignorant use of things that damage them.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Data from Consumer Reports, June 2020.

What Christians Can Eat

What Christians Can Eat

The COVID-19 virus has raised many new issues for Christians. There seems to be no question that the virus came to humans from animals. Specifically, it appears that bats are the primary source of many of the viruses that have plagued humans. So there is a question of what Christians can eat.

The Old Testament dietary laws did not allow the Israelites to eat certain foods. Genesis 9:2-4 says not to eat meat that “has its lifeblood in it.” Leviticus 11:1-47 and Deuteronomy 14 spell out a wide range of dietary restrictions. Today we know why those restrictions were put in place because the animals the Israelites were forbidden to eat were carriers of viruses infectious to humans.

In the New Testament, the picture changes. The early Church leaders met to determine what actions they should abstain from and what Christians can eat (Acts 15:28-29). They decided that Christ’s followers should avoid all trappings of idolatry, including licentiousness, drunkenness, and fornication. They should also avoid eating blood; specifically, animals strangled so that the lifeblood was still in the meat.

Colossians 2:14-16 tells us that Jesus nailed the legalistic rules of the Old Testament to His cross. The passage is clear that Paul is talking about “religious festivals, New Moon celebrations, and Sabbath Days.” Jesus did not do away with the lifestyle choices referred to in Acts 15, but with the Old Law’s legalistic demands that were difficult for the people to keep.

The other passage that deals with what we can eat is Acts 10:9-16. God gave Peter a vision in which he saw a sheet full of animals lowered to him, and a voice told him to kill and eat. What we tend to miss is that Peter identifies two kinds of foods he had never eaten. Verse 14 quotes Peter as saying, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten that which is COMMON (Greek word koinoo) or UNCLEAN (Greek word akathartos).”

The word “common” means ordinary, like everyone else. The word “unclean” means defiled, impure. God’s response to Peter was, “What God has cleansed don’t you call COMMON.” “Defiled” would mean what is referred to in Genesis 9:2-4 – having its lifeblood in it. “Common” would mean the things the Gentiles ate that were not defiled. Peter is about to convert a Gentile, a major change in his life. God makes it clear that he can participate in Gentile foods, but this passage does not approve drinking blood or any other impure foods.

What Christians can eat is virtually anything, but they need to avoid those foods that are dangerous for human consumption. By their diet, early Christians could be protected from diseases that were common in the pagan world around them.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Your Skin Holds Everything Together

Your Skin Holds Everything Together, but that's not all

You can go online and get all the factual information you want on every part of the human body. Put in the word “skin,” and you will be amazed at how much information there is about human skin. One comic said, “Your skin holds everything together.” In truth, it does much more than that.

We tend to classify humans based on their skin color, but our skin color is related to the needs of the body. Black objects radiate heat more efficiently than white objects. Take two identical cans and paint one black and the other white. Heat them to the same temperature and then let them sit in an insulated environment. The black can will cool off faster than the white can. Dark skin color is due to a biological pigment called melanin. Melanin absorbs ultraviolet light and thus protects the body. People living in tropical areas where they are exposed to more heat and ultraviolet light have more melanin than people living in cooler regions. There is, therefore, a latitude effect on skin color.

The more you study the design of your skin, the more amazing it is. One square inch of human skin contains nearly 20 million cells and 625 sweat glands. That square inch of skin can also have as many as 65 hairs, 19 feet (5.8 meters) of blood vessels, and 19,000 sensory cells. To limit bleeding, blood vessels in your skin temporarily shrink instantly if the skin is cut or if pressure is applied. Your body sheds skin cells when they die and replaces them with new ones. Three-quarters of the dust floating around your house is made up of dead skin cells.

So, if you think your skin holds everything together, and that’s all, you would be wrong. Your skin, the largest organ in your body, does a wide range of things that help you to stay alive and comfortable. When David wrote, “I will praise you, God, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14), he was not aware of many things about our bodies that we know today. As we look at ourselves with tools such as microscopes, we see design in the construction of our bodies that David could not have imagined.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

There is a wonderful book published in 1989 and now out of print that gives many other examples of the incredible designs we see in our bodies. The title is The Compass in Your Nose and Other Astonishing Facts About Humans by Marc McCutcheon and published by Jeremy Tarcher, Inc.