Unmasking protective mask types to prevent coronavirus and more

You can bitch, moan, or debate about PPP and PPE. Wearing a protective mask and pair of gloves during a horrible disease pandemic is a necessary prophylactic, both courteous and wise. What were once used as options in factories, medical and science offices are now more essential wearables in a world where tiny microbes coexist with us through an invisible masks.

People tend to shy from using prophylactics such as a protective mask. Another form of prophylactic is use of a condom. The global rate of unintended pregnancy was estimated at 44% of all pregnancies between 2010 and 2014, corresponding to approximately 62 unintended pregnancies per 1000 women between the ages of 15–44 years old. One in two sexually active persons will contract an STI by age 25. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 20 million new STIs occur every year in this country, half of those among young people aged 15–24. Yet the use of condoms as a prophylactic measure remains constant.

We take our breathing and our respiratory health for granted, but the lung is a vital organ that is vulnerable to airborne infection and injury. Respiratory diseases are leading causes of death and disability in the world. Coronavirus-19 barely comes close to those numbers but ranks high among infectious, contagious diseases. Virus based colds are varied. Flu is a common, common cold. Discovery and use of flu vaccines help make incidence less common. Each year new viruses develop and attack unprotected immune systems. According to CDC, about 400,000 patents were hospitalized with a viral infection, each year, over the past decade. Many of those patients died because of respiratory issues that occured prior to flu.

Wearing a protective mask and gloves, especially in dense populations, may prevent these “colds” from spreading to others. Or prevent their colds spreading to you. Sneezes and coughs spread droplets of microbes and some are infectious. Using a hand or sleeve to cover a sneeze is no sure way of filtering spread to others or to items they carry. Viruses are tiny microbes. They are about 1/3 of 1 micron in size. If you lined them on a ruler, there might be over 100,000 to an inch. A protective mask helps filter viruses from entering nose and mouth. What was optional in the 20th century seems more reasonable in the 21st. Microscopes that discovered tiny microbes (electron microscopes) were more accessible to labs in the 1960’s. Perhaps there’s a lesson we should learn during this pandemic. A protective mask, gloves, and some proportionate social distancing may help humans survive better into the 22nd century. Scientists have only been glimpsing into sub-micron sized particles for the past 50 years and their behaviors.

There are many protective masks. Let’s explore a few. There are basics: homemade cloth face mask, surgical mask {procedure and respirator), N95/N98/N99?N100 respirator.Many are made of paper and are disposable. Some are plastic and N100 is notably metallic. On those masks there are filters (often carbon) that are replaceable.

A surgical/procedure mask is a 3-layer to 5-layers protective sheet, rectangular, with ear loops or head-straps. The are usually common and affordable. Most masks worn during routine medical exams are also found in nail salons. This mask is a loose-fitting disposable mask that protects the wearer’s nose and mouth from contact with droplets, splashes and sprays that may contain germs. A surgical mask also filters out large particles in the air. Surgical masks may protect others by reducing exposure to the saliva and respiratory secretions of the mask wearer. These generally do not have FDA approval for surgical use. They are fine for l;leisure walking, short periods, with social distancing. Protection might be 70 to 90% and are comfortable.

There are fabric masks, usually handmade or fashionable, that function like procedure masks. They tend to protect from colder weather. They are seen as bandanas and scarves as well. Fabrics must be very tightly woven to offer protective mask protection. Mesh won’t do. So inappropriate for summer wear.

Cloth masks may be custom designed and laundered. Cloth masks are cheap and simple to make. Must be tightly stitched as microns get through. CDC offers designs for no-sew that may provide very near to N95 efficiency.

More appropriate for surgery, N95 mask offers more protection than a surgical mask does because it can filter out both large and small particles. The name indicates that the mask is designed to block 95% of very small particles. Like surgical masks, N95 masks are intended to be disposable. However, researchers are testing ways to disinfect N95 masks so they can be reused. These are costlier than procedure masks. Essential oil sprays (tea tree, oregano, eucalyptus) may be antiviral for longer durability but studies are thin. I’dd feel better if surgeon disposes of old masks. For tightest protection, the N95 protective mask manufacturers advise head-straps over ear-loops, clean-shaven instead of beards.

You may have heard of N98, N99, and N100 as a protective mask label. Often respirators with added filters, these may be used by doctors but are more common for use in areas of extreme toxic chemicals. The difference between N95, N99 and N100 masks is simply the filter’s efficiency level. N95 filters 95% of particulates and N99 filters 99% of particulates on the air. The higher the efficiency, the more particulates respirator will filter out. That means microns are virtually filtered.

N100 masks are designed to protect the wearer from inhaling non-oil-based particulates, and according to OSHA standards, they must prevent 99.97 percent of those particulates from getting in when properly worn. The larger, bulky N100 protective mask is designed to block dangerous hazards like lead, cadmium, arsenic and methylenedianiline, commonly referred to as MDA. All the N100 masks usually are NIOSH-approved.

There are also P100 respirator protective mask types. P100 respirators are effective at blocking 99.97 percent of oil-based particulates when properly worn. They can protect wearers from exposure to dust, fumes and hazardous mists. P100 masks are ideal for construction environments, food processing plants, agricultural applications and pharmaceutical manufacturing. They also provide complete protection against non-oil-based particulates, like lead, arsenic and cadmium. P100 respirators are often used during welding, as well.

A protective mask may be created anywhere. Many are manufactured in Asia. The ways to help a consumer find the best protective mask is by regulating standards. You’ve probably heard of OSHA before, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. NIOSH and OSHA are two sides of the same coin; they are different organizations, but they were both founded with the same act, and they work together to tackle the problem of workplace hazards. Yet, it’s likely that most of the masks used during the Coronavirus-19 pandemic were not manufactured to these standards.

NIOSH is a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC. They tend to work more on the research and health side of things. That’s why they’re relevant for masks and respirators; they care about things like air pollution and environmental hazards and safety. So, expect NIOSHA to be recommended by the CDC.

So…many of the disposable procedure and N95 masks may NOT be as efficient as claimed. It’s possible they were designed for cosmetic applications and food preparation instead of medical use. Theoretically, use of a protective mask and a pair of gloves, along with reasonable social distance may help keep some infectious flu microns away.

There are man points and counterpoints about how to live in a world with coronavirus. Habitually wearing a protective mask and pair of gloves when outdoors is your first shield against microbial infections. During a pandemic, epidemic, or “cold” seasons these are prophylactic measures to improve wellness. Yes, you can gamble your health with many things other than microbes. I think wearing a suitable protective mask is a safety net with degrees of assurance.

Coronavirus-19 means there were previous coronaviral sources of the flu. Vaccines contain protection from those. The current microbe is a recmutation. It may not be in every breath you take or in any breath you take or anything you touch but can be encountered, especially among crowds of people. Some, only few have flu-like symptoms and, of those, may be unaware that they are carriers. Using a protective mask and gloves might help reduce the spread of infection.

I think that beyond wearing masks and gloves routinely, social distancing and quarantines may not be necessary. People need liberty to socialize and go places. In cold seasons, I’d advise wearing masks and gloves as a health and fashion ethic. Yet, we see that people don’t use condoms, don’t diet, don’t exercise. Mutual reciprocity in relationships must proximally overcome social barriers. A protective mask needs to become an ethical part of your wardrobe. You are not over-reacting if you use a protective mask within a vetting process. It is mutual protection of the other. Wearing a protective mask and gloves are not punishments. They help prevent disease spread for you and for others.

Respiratory illnesses cost the U.S. economy roughly $40 billion a year — substantially more than other conditions like asthma, heart failure, and emphysema. There are larger numbers when you add non-viral and viral expenses and sick days. Yet group dynamics prove that people don’t follow rules or ethics. You shouldn’t be forced to wear a protective mask if you’re willing to sin against harming others and/or self. Infectious diseases are humanity’s bane. A protective mask and responsible distancing help keep societies and businesses in balance. Let debaters continue to debate with or without masks. Viruses will mutate further. Left futures decide and predict whether these masks may be more necessary than now.

Artificial Sweeteners Raise Your Blood Sugar

Carbohydrates are not as bad as you think, if you are responsible. Artificial sweeteners raise your blood sugar levels and corrupt digestive processes. Research studies cite evidence “that the gastrointestinal tract and the pancreas are capable of detecting sweet foods and drinks and respond by releasing hormones, such as insulin, and add other alien microorganisms to digestion.

Carbohydrates may be better for you than artificial sweeteners like Equal, NutraSweet, and Splenda. Possibly natural sweeteners may also do more harm than good. These sweet subs may alter your digestive system, interfere with immune system, and raise triglycerides (part of your heart bloods serum panel) toward a diabetic diagnosis.

According to scientific research at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, artificial sweeteners may induce artificial diabetes type-2 symptoms from those that habitually use them. While high weight might be a factor, the intent to reduce carbohydrates through artificial sweeteners in food and beverages touted as “sugar-free” or “diet” or “0 calories” may make you sicker.

The US Food and Drug Administration approves artificial sweeteners. As food additives, six high-intensity artificial sweeteners are FDA-approved as food additives in the United States: saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), sucralose, and less popular neotame, and advantame.

Stevia is considered a natural leaf and is not an artificial sweetener. It is natural and added to juice beverages such as Tropicana 50. As of May 2016, the FDA has not approved Stevia as an additive. Among some concerns noted by the FDA include possible effects including the control of blood sugar and effects on the reproductive, cardiovascular, and renal systems.

Marketing may be blamed for this. Products once touted Nutrasweet (aspartame) and Splenda (sucralose) under cooperated branding arrangements. Then there is a less common additive artificial sweetener that shows up in many products. Acesulfame potassium is a calorie-free sweetener that has been used in foods and beverages around the world for 15 years. The ingredient, which is 200 times sweeter than sugar, has been used in numerous foods in the United States since 1988. All these are artificial sweeteners, now often masked in ingredient lists of our foods.

Chemically, all these artificial sweeteners begin with carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. These 3 element components create carbohydrates as sugars:

Carbohydrates (also called saccharides) are molecular compounds made from just three elements: carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Monosaccharides (e.g. glucose) and disaccharides (e.g. sucrose) are relatively small molecules. They are often called sugars. Carbohydrates are natural energy sources, compounds found in fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Artificial sweetener, Sucralose is somewhat similar to a carbohydrate molecule but it adds chlorine to the formula as C12H19Cl3O8. The addition of chlorine no longer classifies Sucralose as a carbohydrate under food nutrition panels.

Nutrasweet, another artificial sweetener is the chemical Aspartame, also begins as a carbohydrate type molecule but adds Nitrogen to create C14H18N2O5 that also can not be classed as a carbohydrate.

Aspartame’s three components are phenylalanine (50 percent), aspartic acid (40 percent), and methanol (10 percent). When aspartame is exposed to heat or prolonged storage, it breaks down into metabolites. One of these breakdown products is Diketopiperazine (DKP), a toxic metabolite that is not usually found in our diet. The effects of these different metabolites are unknown.

Ever popular artificial sweetener, acesulfame potassium, really messes with the original carbohydrate molecule by inserting both nitrogen and potassium, along with Sulphur, into the formula C4H4KNO4S. Added to “flavored waters” and some “naturally flavored sodas”, this artificial sweetener is touted as 200-times more sweet than carbohydrates.

Sucralose is made with chlorine. Nutrasweet uses Nitrogen. Sulfame potassium uses Nitrogen, Potassiun and Sulphur. These molecules, unlike carbohydrates, do not naturally occur or balance as part of your natural digestive processes.

In a New York Times editorial review, the authors cited that early animal experiments of 20 years ago reported dangers of artificial sweeteners over carbohydrates. Recent studies that, indeed, too much dietary carbohydrates seem to result in higher diabetes incidents in a population. New York Times article seems to give artificial sweeteners a sweeter outlook.

The Mayo Clinic also places artificial sweeteners on a positive level:

“One of the most appealing aspects of artificial sweeteners is that they are non-nutritive — they have virtually no calories. In contrast, each gram of regular table sugar contains 4 calories. A teaspoon of sugar is about 4 grams.”

What they seem to ignore are the nutrition panels found om most food packaging. New FDA regulations in 2016 revised nutrition panels to offer information on added carbohydrate sugars. Nothing has been added to indicate artificial sweeteners nor their content within the food product. Artificial sweeteners are non-nutritive even though they are present.

American Diabetes Association suggests artificial sweeteners for use to suppress urges for sweetness. Per Israeli study, some artificial sweeteners may actually elevate blood sugar levels.

Fundamentally, the attempt to control calories and satisfy a sweet tooth seems simple with artificial sweeteners but chronic dependence and use result in some some very nasty side effects. As far as body weight loss is concerned, there is virtually contradictory evidence that artificial sweeteners help weight loss over time.

Carbohydrates are natural and simple. They have been part of our main food groups for thousands of years. Our bodies thrive on them for energy. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for minimum carbohydrate intake, as set by the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board, is 130 grams per day. 200 grams is satisfactory if you are marginally active and up to 500 grams per day if you are very active. Problem is that many people eat 500 grams or more carbohydrates each day. The excess carbohydrate calories metabolize into fat.

When you mix carbohydrates with fats from healthy oils or from unhealthy sources, you are layering it on. Even excesses of lean proteins metabolize into fat when unused by you and your body.

Using natural carbohydrates requires work and daily responsibility.

There are also different carbohydrates – simplex and complex – including fiber, starches, and sugars that provide energy:

Simple carbohydrates are sugars. All simple carbohydrates are made of just one or two sugar molecules. They are the quickest source of energy, as they are very rapidly digested.
Some food sources of simple carbohydrates:
Table sugar
Brown sugar
Corn syrup
Honey
Maple syrup
Molasses
Jams, jellies
Fruit drinks
Soft drinks
Sweetened coffee beverages
Processed breads, rolls, bagels
Donuts
Danishes
Cake
Candy

Complex carbohydrates may be referred to as dietary starch and are made of sugar molecules strung together like a necklace or branched like a coil. As these are complex, they metabolize slower, providing longer, more steady energy. They are often rich in fiber, thus satisfying and health promoting. Complex carbohydrates are commonly found in whole plant foods and, therefore, are also often contain sources of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. These whole plant foods are great sources of complex carbohydrates:

Green vegetables
Whole grains and foods made from them, such as oatmeal, pasta, and whole-grain breads
Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and pumpkin
Beans, lentils, and peas
Nuts (carbs and fats)

American Diabetes Association suggests that 25-30 grams of daily intake should be fiber. Fiber is subtracted from sugar carbohydrates to calculate net carbohydrates. To calculate net carbs, first subtract all of the insoluble fiber (if listed) from the total carbs and total fiber. If more than 5 grams of total fiber remain, you can also subtract half of the remaining fiber from total carbs.

Managing a carbohydrate diet requires sticking to servings and serving sizes. There are carbohydrate calculators that help you maintain stable weights, according to activity. Use also helps you plan slow, gradual, weight loss.

Because carbohydrates are nutritive, they are associated with dietary calories. Calories come from two energy sources: carbohydrates and fats. It takes about a 3200 calorie loss to lose 1-pound of weight.

Our history has consisted of nutrients from carbohydrate, fats, and proteins. They tasted good to us. With reduced activities, especially at night, managing the foods we eat help us stay healthy. For example, nuts and meats have fats but no carbohydrates and dietary servings of these may help manage weight.

Artificial sweeteners help take most of our food choice possibilities away. They are complicated compounds that might develop strange body reactions, Artificial sweeteners are marketed short-cuts leading to believe that we are reducing calories and carbohydrates. We really aren’t. They are not countable.

Healthy weight management is a responsibility. Habits help make people fat and weight loss require habits that are difficult to adapt. Carbs and fats are addictive. A concerted effort is necessary.

Proper food management from natural energy sources – carbohydrates in the morning and proteins at night – (as needed) are what the body mechanisms require. They require small servings – generally a handful.

There are nutritional supplements, particularly chromium and cinnamon that help interfere with carbohydrate metabolism. They are called carb blockers. These supplements may be available with or without prescription.They are called Amylase Inhibitors. Their role is to prevent starches from being absorbed by the body. When amylase is blocked, those carbs pass through the body undigested, so you don’t absorb the calories.

The research on efficacy of these is limited. I view carb blockers as cheating, unless you are edging towards Diabetes 2 or pre-diabetes. People do need calories and carbohydrates. Is it a route to help manage carbohydrate intake? I don’t know.

Artificial sweeteners are totally un-natural means and can potentially be harmful.

Healthy weight and energy management, without artificial sweeteners or radical short-term gimmicks, often requires visits with a registered or certified nutritionist to help personalize your needs and goals. Many may accept your health insurance coverage.

There are few short-cuts that offer long-term benefits. Use of artificial sweeteners is not one of them. For information about using carbohydrate blockers, speak with a nutritionist.