Perception, Consciousness and the Physical World

consciousness-1719998_1280

We only observe the physical world because we have senses and a collective perception that projects a model for us to observe and interpret. Our five senses; Sight (ophthalmoception), hearing (audioception), taste (gustaoception), smell (olfacoception or olfacception), and touch (tactioception) are crucial in helping us to navigate and makes sense of the physical world. But what if these senses ceased to exist? Imagine this. You lose your sight and your hearing and you can now only find your way around by touching things (somatosensation). Imagine how you would interpret the physical world. People already do interpret the physical world without these senses. It would change your conception of the world indefinitely as you’re forced to rely on your alternate senses.

But let’s go further. Eventually you lose your sense of touch on your skin and throughout your entire body and you can no longer have the ability to taste objects. You wont suddenly feel hungry because you’re completely disconnected from your body. Now you feel nothing, weightless, not too far off how one might feel in a dark floatation tank except for you can’t get out and you really are just an existing state of consciousness that can conceptualise variations in aromas. You could be walking mindlessly into a field and the only connection you have to the physical world is the nostalgic scent of fresh cut grass as reminder it still exists.

Fractal, Dream, Math, Background, Pink, ImaginationNow let’s remove your final sense so now all you see is what you can visualise in your minds eye. You feel nothing, hear nothing, see nothing, taste nothing and smell nothing, all you have are your thoughts and whatever pictures, patterns or colours your minds eye as a product of cognition. How would you know you are even alive? You could mindlessly and uncoordinatedly manoeuvre into a wall or even in front of a moving car, get hit, but you would not feel the force of the of the car hit you and send you in the air. There is nothing to ground you in the physical world. You suffer a head injury and go into a coma but you will not be able to distinguish from the point of being conscious and going into a coma when you wake because a memory is based on a visual model of the physical world which requires perception. Therefore, likewise when you wake from your coma you will not be able to determine the point at which you woke from your coma either. Like a brain in vat, existing exclusively as a state of consciousness. You can think, you exist, but, you are living in a plane of existence distinct from that of the physical one, one which is based purely in a cognitive and dare I say, spiritual realm. Furthermore, I add again how would we know whether we were alive or dead to begin with?

 

Fractal, Energy, Plasma, Science, MetaphysicalWe exist in a physical world only because we have the capacity to observe it. We know as a matter of fact there are things that exist that we do not have the capacity to observe with our 5 senses; infrared, radio-waves, UV light, antimatter, atoms etc which are all beyond our visual ability. So it’s not inconceivable, light years away or even billions of years in future, there may be organisms with all of our senses including additional senses to view the physical world and each other unimaginable ways. I have grappled with this concept in many abstract forms and have applied it to death and the possibility of an afterlife. We still don’t know what creates consciousness. We don’t know if it is even created by physical matter or if it exists without it. After death the senses, which are derived from physical matter, would cease to work, but consciousness may not. The “afterlife” could well be an eternal experience of many possible states of consciousness. To some this may not be as comforting as the thought of going to heaven, but its no less plausible and we are just as ignorant about the reality of both.

 

Space, Fractal, Energy, Artwork, Metaphysical, Science

 

What Can We Learn From Alien Invasion Films


Human nature to forget

Some things we do as humans that we may even have once opposed, are things that we have come to accept as a normal part of our society by mere repetition of exposure. This eventually had led to an entire industry which now exists only behind closed doors. Our lack of consideration and interest for where our food comes from and how it’s made only reinforces our ignorance. With this in mind it’s easy to understand how emotionally disconnected we’ve now become from the lives of billions of animals who are are the mercy of our superficial pleasures. Many humans go through their whole lives devoid of any regard or thought for the life that was sacrificed for the mere satisfaction of a glass of milk or a burger. Some people are genuinely unaware of the of the shocking reality while others in the know choose to simply choose not to think about it. Either way it doesn’t make it any less wrong or any less disturbing.

Attack of the killer humans

Isn’t it somewhat ironic and rich, that we are so horrified and disturbed when we see films about superior alien species from other planets harvesting us human bodies for their self-serving purposes. Shaken by the thought of being treated like we treat cattle with no remorse or respect for our lives and yet, we have absolutely no emotional attachment to the animals we do the very same thing to every single day on an exponential scale on our very own planet.

We treat cows, pigs and chickens like we imagine alien races treating us. We subject animals to the more lethal aspects of our technology and power for our own trivial needs; food, fashion, sports, harmful and deadly drug experimentation. Even though we are fully aware of the terror it would inflict on us if an alien race were to do the same thing. This seems somewhat of a double standards. Or maybe were just remorseless because we are “superior” and need to be this exploitive and resourceful to thrive to be as successful as we are.

Image result for factor farm chickens

But does that really justify the means? Does that mean our compassion and respect for animals should be abandoned because our desires supersedes their lives? Would that be a justified argument if it were our species being violently exploited by an alien race?
I think not.

 

Being at the top of the food chain with the power to do X doesn’t provide a justified reason to do X. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. We are kind and compassionate to the elderly, children, puppies and kittens, not just because of some societal obligation, but because of an innate desire to protect and defend the defenseless and the vulnerable from the tyrannical and the exploitative. If alien life could see what we do to animals on our planet with currency and mere being our justification, it really would paint a rather violent and barbaric picture of the human race. One which may not work in our best interests should our reasons be turned upon us.

Image result for factor farm cows

 

 

Vitamin A

History of Vitamin A 

Vitamin A was the first vitamin ever discovered so it was named
after the first letter of the alphabet. Elmer V. McCollum and
marguerite Davis discovered vitamin A during 1912–1914. In
1913, Yale researchers, Thomas Osborne and Lafayette Mendel
discovered that butter contained a fat soluble nutrient soon
known as vitamin A. Vitamin A was first synthesized in a
laboratory in 1947 where it could be used in supplement form .

There has been much earlier references to vitamin A dating back to 400 B.C where biblical writing describes how the squeezing of liver juice into the eyes was used as treatment for eye disease. Of course we know now the cause of this eye disease was due to vitamin A deficiency. This deficiency was restored by the high amounts of vitamin A present in liver.

Most people have heard their mum say “eat your carrots they’ll
make you see in the dark!” well there is actually logic behind that
statement, read on to find out why.

What is vitamin A

  • Vitamin A is an essential vitamin that we can not produce
  • It’s fat soluble so needs dietary fat with it to be absorbed
  • It’s divided into 2 forms, preformed vitamin A retinol made of fat soluble retinoids from animal sources and provitamin A carotene made of carotenoids from plant sources (retinol and beta-carotene being the most common)
  • Provitamin A (basically meaning before vitamin A) beta carotene needs to be converted into one of its active forms retinal and retinoic acid before we can use it
  • Preformed vitamin A retinol from animal products is already in a bioactive form and most likely already converted by an animal that once consumed provitamin A 
  • Vitamin A beta carotene is also a powerful antioxidant

Vitamin A along with other fat soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and in the fat cells so providing adequate vitamin A intake is met, reserves can build up and stores can last months so it doesn’t necessarily need to be consumed everyday providing a reasonable amount is eaten at each time.

 

What does vitamin A do?

  • Vitamin A makes our eyes, skin, lining of the nose and immune system healthy and functioning properly.
  • Our eyes need vitamin A retinol to produce pigments in the eyes retina that allow the conversion of light energy into electrical impulses allowing for low light and colour vision (scoptopic vision).
  • Pro vitamin A beta carotene is an antioxidant that stops harmful unpaired electrons known as free radicals causing damage in the body destroying healthy cells.

 

Historical uses for vitamin A

  • Useful in preventing eye disorders prevent cataracts and is used to improve eyesight and night vision
  • Improves recovery from laser eye surgery when combined with vitamin E
  • Reduces complications from serious diseases such as HIV, malaria, measles and diarrhoea in children with vitamin a deficiency
  • May help to fight bronchitis
  • Can reduce the risk of high blood pressure
  • Reduces health issues in malnourished women during and after pregnancy
  • Raises men’s sperm count
  • Useful for skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, cold sores, wounds, burns and sunburn
  • It can also be applied to the skin to reduce wrinkles, improve wound healing and to protect the skin from UV rays
  • Effective at treating gastrointestinal ulcers, Crohn’s disease, gum disease, diabetes, Hurler syndrome, sinus infections, hay fever, and urinary tract infections
  • May help to prevent cancer, protecting the heart and cardiovascular system, slowing the aging process, and boosting the immune system due to its antioxidant properties
  • Vitamin A may also ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms

 

Vitamin A deficiencies

Common deficiency symptoms:

  • Reduced night vision or night blindness
  • Reduced day light/colour vision
  • Dry and/or sore, inflamed eyes
  • Rough and/or dry skin
  • Dry hair
  • Yellow/orange colouring of the skin
  • Reduced appetite
  • Broken/ridged nails

Hypovitaminosis A is a condition caused by vitamin A deficiency. It can lead to mild conditions such as night blindness to more severe problems like cataracts and full on blindness. If your diet is low in a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables then it may lead to health problems over time that may be reflected by some mild symptoms such as inability to see in low light conditions.
Pregnant women tend to be vitamin A deficient and more so during the last trimester as the fetal demand is at its highest.
Between 100 and 140 million children are vitamin A deficient, 250,000-500,000 of these children become blind every year and half of these die within 12 months of losing their sight. This deficiency is leading cause of preventable blindness in children. Unfortunately not every child has access to a healthy diet like we have the privilege of having. Many children in developing countries every day fall victim to hypovitaminosis outside of their control. One more reason to make the most of the healthy foods we have the privilege of having because having vegetables in the diet for some can mean the difference between life and death

There are two types of vitamin A deficiency, primary and secondary:

  • Primary deficiency is caused by a direct prolonged deficiency of vitamin A which is usually the case in developing countries and countries where rice is a staple food, as rice contains no beta carotene or retinol. This type of deficiency in many cases can be alleviated in time by consuming adequate vitamin A through meat, dairy and vegetables.
  • Secondary deficiency is caused by an inability to convert carotene into vitamin A and can be also be attributed to conditions where improper absorption of nutrients are concerned. People suffering with coeliacs, cystic fibrosis, pancreatic and liver disease are all at risk of secondary vitamin A deficiency. Alcoholism is also another cause of secondary deficiency.

 

Vitamin A over dose

Common overdosing symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Peeling skin
  • Hair loss
  • Tiredness
  • Menstrual irregularity
  • Enlarged liver
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Skin discolouration (orange tint)
  • Birth defects
  • Reduced bone density

Hypervitaminosis A, which is toxicity from consuming excessive amounts of vitamin A is more likely to occur from retinol the animal source. Vitamin A retinol from animal sources can become toxic in consistently high doses due to the accumulation of it in the fat and liver stores where it is stored. Therefore excessive doses of retinol long term should not be consumed.

It has been documented that vitamin A retinol toxicity has been responsible for a number of deaths. Certain animal livers will contain such tremendously high amounts of vitamin A that it will kill you if you consumed. For older children and adults, you need more than 100,000 IU per day for months before you start to accumulate any serious toxicity. To give you an example of the scale of this, 200g of beef liver would give you 110,000iu of vitamin A retinol, which if consumed everyday would result in toxic illness and liver problems. Whereas 200g of polar bear liver would give you 4,800,000iu! So literally one bite would be enough to make you seriously ill, very quickly. In 1913 two Antarctic explorers Douglas Mawson and Xavier Mertz were both poisoned (and Mertz died) from eating the livers of their sled dogs. In 1974 a British man called Basil Brown who was a well known scientist and “heath food addict” who consumed 10 gallons of carrot juice which is 10,000 times the amount of RDA in 10 days, unfortunately those were his last 10 ten days as his skin turned bright yellow he died of severe liver damage.

Despite these cases, its very unlikely for anyone to consume that amount (150,000IU) or for anyone here to eat the livers of exotic animals that contain such toxic amounts of vitamin A retinol everyday. Lower but still excessive doses around 4,500IU of daily vitamin A consumption (which is more then 6x the RDA) is likely to leach your bones of minerals reducing bone density putting you at risk for osteoporosis as you age. The key is dont consume any more than couple carrots each week, some sweet potatoes each week, liver once a month and you’ll be healthy.

 

Daily Intake
Measurements are in IU which means international units, mcg which means micrograms and mg for milligrams, different measurements are usually used for different foods and brands so I have included all 3 to make things easier for you)

RNI (Reference Nutrient Intake, gender and age specific nutrient requirements) of vitamin A intake
0 to 12 months: 350mcg/0.35mg day (1166IU)
children 1 to 3 years: 400mcg/0.4mg day (1333IU)
children 4 to 10 years: 500mcg/0.5mg day (1666IU)
children 11 to 14 years: 600mcg/0.6mg day (2000IU)
males 15 years and older: 700mcg/0.7mg day (2333IU)
females 15 years and older: 600mcg/0.6mg day (2000IU)
Pregnant women: 700mcg/0.7mg day (2333IU)
Breastfeeding women: 950mcg/0.95mg day (3166IU)
Over 65 years: 600mcg/0.6mg day (2000IU)

Top sources of vitamin A carotene
Carrots, sweet potato, pumpkins, kale, spinach, collards, turnip greens, winter squash, mango, tomato
Top sources of vitamin A retinol
Liver, salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout, tuna, beef, milk, skimmed milk powder, butter, margarine, cheese, eggs and cod liver oil

Foods that provide around 100% of RNI of vitamin A for adults
150g sweet potato (600mg), 100g carrot (800mcg), 1.5ltr whole milk (690mcg), 10g beef liver (600mcg), 100g mango (694mcg)

http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/

Nutrition Basics


Nutrition

Nutrition consists of the functional components in food that an organism must obtain in order for it to grow and flourish. Nutrition simply put is a collective term for all of the nutrients required by an organism to sustain life and promote health.

“Nutrition is the intake of food, considered in relation to the body’s dietary needs. Good nutrition – an adequate, well balanced diet combined with regular physical activity – is a cornerstone of good health. Poor nutrition can lead to reduced immunity, increased susceptibility to disease, impaired physical and mental development, and reduced productivity.” – (World Health Organisation)

Nutrients
Nutrients are the organic and inorganic substances found in plant and animals material deemed biologically functional to an organism’s physiological demands. Simply put, nutrients support the functioning of an organism on a cellular level. There are two types of nutrients; Essential nutrients, of which the body cannot biosynthesize (or can but in inadequate amounts) which must be obtained from diet and non-essential nutrients, of which the body can biosynthesize in sufficient quantity.

“Food provides a range of different nutrients. Some nutrients provide energy, while others are essential for growth and maintenance of the body. Carbohydrate, protein and fat are macronutrients that we need to eat in relatively large amounts in the diet as they provide our bodies with energy and also the building blocks for growth and maintenance of a healthy body. Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients which are only needed in small amounts, but are essential to keep us healthy. There are also some food components that are not strictly ‘nutrients’ but are important for health, such as water and fibre.” – (British Nutrition Foundation)

Macro/micro-nutrients
There are six main essential nutrients carbohydrates, fats, protein (the macronutrients), vitamins, minerals (the micronutrients) and water which is also considered an essential nutrient.

Macro-nutrients are generally obtained from the diet in amounts ranging anything from tens of grams to hundreds of grams. For example the protein requirements are based on the “RNI” (Reference Nutrient Intake) and for an average UK adult is 0.75g per kg of body weight, which is 53g for a 70kg adult. Compare this to carbohydrate requirements, based on “DRV’s” (Dietary Reference Values), which are 50% of total energy intake which would be 313g on a 2500 kcal diet.

Micronutrients however, are required in far smaller amounts and are measured in milligrams and micrograms. Intakes are based on the RNI’s and are based. The dietary recommendations for intakes of B12 for example are so small the amount needed would fit on the tip of a pin since only 1.5 micrograms is required.

Non-essential nutrients are nutrients which do not need to be directly obtained via the diet since they are indirectly obtained via substrates and can be synthesised endogenously (within the body). Non-essential nutrients mainly consist of the non-essential amino acids, but also nutrients such as inositol (vitamin B8) and certain minerals are also considered non-essential, although this does not undermine the importance of these nutrients for our health.

Phytochemicals
There are of course very important components of foods that do not get official recognition as “essential nutrients” although their exclusion from this category might mislead one to think they’re not as important. They are, and arguably more so when the aim is to optimise health. Phytochemicals are beneficial non-nutritive components of foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, herbs, nuts and seeds. These plant chemicals include phenols, terpenoids, sulfurs compound, pigments and other antioxidants, all of which have shown to promote significant health benefits and may have specific preventative implications for certain disease including cancer and cardiovascular disease.  

Is diet enough to obtain all the nutrition we need?
Absolutely. Most people should be able to get all the nutrients they need by eating a healthy, varied diet, including multiple colours and fruit and vegetables. However, there are a few exceptions where supplementation may be wise or even necessary. For example, if a woman is planning to conceive a child it is recommended they take a folic acid (vitamin B9) supplement to prevent congenital birth defects. Unless of course you can consistently consume at least 300 mcg of dietary folate, supplementation is a sensible option. Spina-bifida can occur in Mothers whose B9 intake is insufficient before conception and particularly during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Vitamin D is another vitamin in which it is difficult to obtain in sufficient amounts all year round from food and sunlight alone. This is even more the case for vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, the elderly, Muslims who veil the skin, those with dark pigmented skin such as Asians and Africans, children and also Caucasians with fair skin. Current research now supports the idea that most people would benefit from vitamin D supplementation as current intakes and levels of UVB exposure are inadequate, especially for building reserves for winter. Moderate to high dose supplementation may also be a necessary requirement for those or are clinically deficient as to consistently raise serum levels from deficiency status into adequate ranges, which even then could take months.

 

Bibliography

Barros, L. and Ferreira, I. (2017). Editorial: Phytochemicals and their Effects on Human Health. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 23(19).

Holick, M., Binkley, N., Bischoff-Ferrari, H., Gordon, C., Hanley, D., Heaney, R., Murad, M. and Weaver, C. (2011). Evaluation, Treatment, and Prevention of Vitamin D Deficiency: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 96(7), pp.1911-1930.

Nutrition.org.uk. (n.d.). What are nutrients? – British Nutrition Foundation. [online] Available at: https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/basics/what-are-nutrients.html [Accessed 20 May 2016].

R, J, BERRY et al. (1999) PREVENTION OF NEURAL-TUBE DEFECTS WITH FOLIC ACID IN CHINA. The new England journal of medicine. [Online] Available from: http://folictrial.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Prevention-of-neural-tube-defects-with-folic-acid-in-China.pdf [Accessed on 7.2.15]

Who.int. (n.d.). WHO | Nutrition. [online] Available at: http://www.who.int/topics/nutrition/en/ [Accessed 20 May 2016].