Eat Real Food and Live Longer

The headline would seem to be a no-brainer. Eat real food instead of “junk food” and you’ll likely live longer, or at least have a better quality of life as you age. These days, however, eating real food (i.e.: unprocessed foods) may not be as easy as you think. Additionally, including ultra-processed foods in our modern diets has increased dramatically over the past several decades.

An ultra-processed food is generally defined as a food item that contains multiple chemical ingredients and which is manufactured from a variety of industrial processes.

Some would say the age of processed foods began with the introduction of the “TV Dinner Age” and that may well be true. The switch to convenience or packaged foods from store shelves, fast foods from drive-thru outlets, and eating at restaurants that simply microwave foods that are pre-made offsite are all included in this category of ultra-processed foods.

Recent studies indicate that increased consumption of ultra-processed foods result in a higher risk of an early death. These foods contribute to a shorter lifespan in a number of ways that include heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Eating “clean” is generally defined as eating real foods that do not contain chemical ingredients. Ultra-processed foods are on the other side of the spectrum, with ingredients that include a list of chemicals with too many syllables to pronounce or even define. In general, previous studies have shown a link between high consumption of processed foods and an increased risk of obesity and the chronic diseases mentioned above.

A recent study shows that about 30% of the calories in a modern diet comes from foods that are in the ultra-processed category. The study also indicated that, for each 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods in a participant’s diet, there was a corresponding 14% higher risk of death over the study period of seven years.

Ultra-processed foods are higher in sodium, have a greater sugar content, and are low in fiber. They also generally contain chemicals that may be harmful or at least produce harmful chemicals in the manufacturing process. An example that has been studied extensively is the nitrite chemicals added to processed meats like bacon and hot dogs.

I have decided to “eat clean” for a number of reasons. I’m an older adult and want to remain active and healthy for a great many more years. I also have arthritis in some of my joints, particularly my hands and shoulders, and I have started a regimen of eating less inflammatory foods. The short story on my journey to eating clean from an inflammatory standpoint is to eat less processed foods, but also less refined carbohydrates. So, my diet is now richer in unprocessed fruits, vegetables, proteins and good fats with less reliance on commercial carbohydrates to fill me up.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Maybe I’ll even drop a couple of those nasty excess pounds in the process.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d like to hear them!

Posted in About James J. Murray, Added Sugar Content on Food Labels, Blog Writers, Blogging, Chemicals in Our Foods, Cleaning Up The Modern Diet, Deadly Food, Designer Diets, Eating Clean, Fat Content on Labels of Foods, Food Trends, Foods For Health, Foods That Kill, Foods to Prevent Aging, How To Change Bad Habits, James J. Murray Blog, Life-Altering Goals, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog, New Life Goals, New Research Technology, Prescription For Murder Blog, Skills to Create a Better Life, Ultra-Process Foods and Health, Ultra-Processed Foods and Chronic Diseases, Ultra-Processed Foods and Early Death, Ultra-Processed Foods in Modern Diets | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Quantifying Pain Effectively

There are a multitude of methods to measure a patient’s pain level. Most use a sliding scale to quantify one’s pain from 0 (no pain) to 10 (the worse imaginable pain).

Top ten types of pain scales:

  • 1 – 10 pain scales
  • Faces pain scales, typically the Wong-Baker FACES® pain rating scale
  • Global pain scale
  • Visual analog pain scale
  • McGill pain scale
  • Mankoski pain scale
  • Color scales for pain
  • Pediatric pain scales
  • CPOT pain scale
  • Patient-created personalized pain scales

Of the above-mentioned pain scales, the most often used include a visual of facial expressions (such as, the Wong-Baker FACES) in which patients point to a face that depicts their degree of discomfort.

Although these pain scales are relatively effective, they are subjective in that they rely on a patient’s perception of pain, with the resulting built-in flaws. In other words, one person’s pain level of “5” is different from another person’s perception of what a pain level of “5” may be.

Researchers are now working on a prototype for a blood test that could measure the severity of pain without the subjective nature of patient self-reporting or physicians relying on clinical observations of the pain a patient may be experiencing.

New research indicates that there are identifiable biomarkers in a patient’s blood to objectively determine how severe a person’s pain level is. A biomarker is basically a measurable substance in an organism that indicates a specific phenomenon. The biomarkers in this case help researchers identify compounds in blood to quantify pain intensity. Thus, a more accurate and effective pain treatment regimen could be initiated.

Much of the present opioid epidemic/crisis has been contributed to the over-prescribing of addictive medications, without the close monitoring of when to discontinue pain meds in a timely manner. As a patient begins to experience less pain, less addictive pain medication options could be substituted with equal pain-relief effectiveness. Biomarkers could identify when that appropriate time is.

Study experts are discovering also that biomarkers in blood can objectively direct researchers to match a patient’s current pain experience with specific analgesic drugs to control pain.

Treating pain more effectively without using strong, addictive medications or decreasing the use of addictive drugs when pain is beginning to recede will be a medical breakthrough. Treating pain intelligently with the right medication at the right time could provide a much-needed change from the current overuse of opioid medications and lessen the potential of drug addiction.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, Alternative to Botanicals for Painkiller Drug Manufacturing, Alternatives to Opiate Painkillers, Blog Writers, Blogging, Controlling Drug Costs, Death From Prescription Painkillers, Drug Abuse, Effective Pain Control, Epidemic of Narcotic Overdoses, James J. Murray Blog, Medical Technology Advances, Medication Abuses, Medication Non-Compliance, Medication Safety Issues, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog, New Drug Research, New Research Technology, Non-Addictive Pain Treatments, Opiate Epidemic, Opioid Crisis, Opioid Crisis Management, Opioid Therapy Alternatives, Pain Biomarkers, Patient Therapy Outcomes, Pharmacy/Pharmaceuticals, Prescription Drug Safety, Prescription Drugs Become Street Drugs, Prescription For Murder Blog, Prescription Narcotic Overdoses, Prescription Painkiller Overdose, Prescription Prescribing Practices, The Opioid Epidemic, The Pharmacy Profession, The Practice of Pharmacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A New Cardiac Pacemaker and Murder

Heart stimulators, commonly called pacemakers, are small devices implanted in patients to control abnormal heart rhythms. Such cardiac abnormalities are commonly referred to as heart arrhythmias, and pacemakers emit electrical pulses to prompt the heart to beat at a normal pace to prevent those irregular heartbeats.

The number of these life-saving devices that are implanted each year extends into the millions worldwide. One of the overwhelming issues to overcome with such technology, however, is the limited lifespan of the batteries which power these pacemakers.

Many older implanted devices have batteries that last about seven years. These battery packs, with wire leads connected to the pacemaker nearer to the heart, are implanted and secured in surgical pockets either in a chest, abdomen or some other fleshy area of the body. Repeated surgeries to replace worn out battery packs expose patients to infections and excessive bleeding during the periodic procedures.

Newer devices that are placed directly inside the heart are called leadless devices. These pacemakers send an electrical impulse to the heart whenever it senses that the heartbeat is too slow. These pacemakers do not require insulated wires connected to battery packs placed in the chest or abdomen. They are very small devices, about the size of a pill, and have internal batteries that can last for about 12 years.

These small devices are certainly a technological advance, but they present new issues regarding the dangers of retrieving these devices implanted directly into the heart when the batteries wear out.

For that reason, doctors often leave an old device in the heart muscle while inserting a new device, usually delivered via a catheter threaded through a large vein in the leg up to the heart. The depleted pacemakers, therefore, pile up inside the heart. Due to the small size of these pacemakers, however, the “device trash” is not believed to pose any appreciable danger to the patient.

Despite these tremendous advances in pacemaker technology, however, the bottom line is that pacemakers are limited by the life of their batteries, and patients must be subjected to periodic replacements either of a battery pack or the entire pacemaker that may have an internal battery.

Cutting edge pacemaker technology bypasses the entire dead battery issue with the development of pacemakers that contain no batteries at all. These devices are implanted into the heart like leadless pacemakers, but they contain no internal power source!

So the question is, how do these devices work without an energy source—and more importantly—what does all this have to do with murder?

Let me answer that first question about the technology of these supposedly powerless pacemakers. They are called piezoelectric pacemakers and contain high-performance nanogenerators (ah, a power source). The nanoparticles in these pacemakers create electrical impulses generated from motion in the near vicinity of these devices—a high tech motion detector, if you will.

In most cases, the motion of the last heartbeat of the cardiac muscle stimulates a piezoelectric pacemaker to generate the electric impulse to stimulate the next heartbeat, and so on and so forth. It’s like a good vicious cycle of cause and effect.

Some types of piezoelectric pacemakers even harvest energy from blood pressure variations in the heart’s pump cycle to assure continued regular heartbeats. These “good vibrations” pacemakers basically use the same technology that reproduces sounds picked up by a microphone and sent to a loudspeaker. A simplistic analogy, but basically that’s the idea.

Although these piezoelectric, nanoparticle pacemakers are about ten years away from common use, the technology works flawlessly in animal studies, even those that involve pigs and cows—which are about the size of a human and a human heart.

I was fascinated with these studies when I came across them a couple of years ago in an article I read. That was about the time I needed a specific method to stop the heart of a victim in my Almost Dead murder mystery. Yet, I needed that victim to walk out of the funeral home before anyone realized what was happening.

The real mystery here is not if this technology works as promised. Research shows that it has real potential for becoming common practice within a decade. The real mystery here is how my Detective Rosie Young character figures out how the device stopped working and what caused it to suddenly start up again on a perfectly still “corpse.”

So, these motion-activated pacemakers have everything to do with murder in my murder mystery novel. If you’d like to see just how Detective Rosie Young and her partner Detective Vince Mendez solved the case, check out my murder mystery Almost Dead.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!


A Murder Mystery with 5-Star Reviews!

Available at:

Amazon   Smashwords    iTunes    Kobo

Posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A How To Blog on Murder Weapons, A Murder Mystery Novel, A Mystery Novel, About James J. Murray, About Murder, Advances in Cardiac Medicine, Advances in Pacemaker Technology, Almost Dead-The Novel, Better Fiction Writing, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Cardiac Pacemaker Technology, Connecting With Your Reader, Designing Murder Plots, Developing Story Plots, Developing Storyline Ideas, Dramatic Murder Weapons, Energy Source of Pacemakers, Fiction Based on Facts, Fiction Based on Real Life, Fiction Writing - A Believable Lie, Heart Stimulators, Heart-Saving Technology, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Interesting Murder Weapons, Internal Pacemaker Batteries, James J. Murray Blog, James J. Murray's ALMOST DEAD, Killing With Lethal Nanoparticles, Methods of Murder, Motion-Activated Cardiac Pacemakers, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Murder Weapons Discussed, Nanogenerators in Pacemakers, Nanoparticle Technology in Medicine, Nanoparticles To Cure And Kill, Nanotechnology Used For Murder, New Blog, New Methods of Murder, New Methods To Kill Characters in Your Novel, Piezoelectric Pacemaker Technology, Plot Ideas and Where They Come From, Plotting Interesting Murder Scenes, Plotting Murder Scenes, Prescription For Murder Blog, Story Development, The Art of Storytelling, The Art of Writing, The Science of Murder, Tools of Murder, Unique Murder Plots, Unique Murder Weapons, Ways To Kill, Ways to Murder | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Teaching a Patient to Accept New Organs

My wife and I are avid fans of TV medical dramas—the list has been endless over the years of the various series that captured our interests. One of the reasons we enjoy medical shows so much is that it gives insight into cutting edge medical technology, and that was our business in our previous professional world.

In these TV shows, one of the more common medical issues that crop up is that a patient urgently requires an organ transplant, and the hunt for an appropriate donor evolves into the central crisis to be resolved. The simple big problem to solve is to find the best match that will elicit the least rejection by the recipient.

Acute rejection of a transplanted organ occurs to some degree in all transplants, except between identical twins. This results from antigen genetic markers and there are up to 8,000 known antigens carried by white blood cells (leukocytes) that cause a recipient patient to reject a transplanted organ, just as a patient’s body would reject and fight against a bacterial or viral infection. Often, close family relatives are better possible organ donors, but sometimes a total stranger will have compatible genetic markers.

Before the discovery of anti-rejection drugs, organ transplants were impossible—dooming the patient to a predictable death within a predictable time period. With anti-rejection drugs, which tap down the body’s immune system response to foreign tissue, organ donations and transplants are common practice.

The drugs that prevent organ rejection, however, are problematic in that by definition they suppress the patient’s immune system. This effect increases the risks of infection, cancer, increases cholesterol levels to sometimes dangerous levels, and increases the chance of diabetes and kidney failure. They also doom a transplant recipient to a life of taking up to 40 pills a day to prevent infections while tamping down the body’s natural immune system to accept the new organ.

In 1953, Dr. Peter Medawar and his British colleagues won a Nobel Prize for their research into training the immune systems of young mice to NOT reject tissue from unrelated mice by injecting the mice with white blood cells (the body’s primary immune response system) from unrelated mice.

This suggested that the body of a patient needing an organ transplant might be trained to accept an organ from someone considered not a near perfect medical match, and therefore the organ recipient would not need to receive a lifelong regimen of anti-rejection drugs and experience the dangerous side effects that are common with these drugs.

That research of fooling the immune system seemed to work in baby mice whose immune systems were still learning what was foreign and what was not, but that did not translate well to the already developed immune systems of adult mice when injecting the recipient mice with white blood cells from donors.

Present day medical science, however, has discovered that the immune response in humans are more precise than merely white blood cells. There are more specialized white blood cells in the human body, called regulatory T-lymphocytes (T cells), that regulate the body’s immune system to attack foreign tissue (as in a bacterial or viral infection, or a transplanted organ) but to prevent attacks on the body’s own tissue.

When T cells from an organ donor are harvested along with those of the organ recipient patient and grown together, they produce a modified T cell that can be injected into the recipient patient. These new T cells teach the immune system of the patient receiving a new organ to accept it as part of the patient’s body, rather than rejecting it, and thus requiring less anti-rejection drug therapy.

There is additional interesting research happening now that even drills down to more specific white blood cells, called regulatory dendritic cells, that help the body distinguish its own tissue and organs from transplanted ones. The advantage of dendritic cells is that these can be isolated from donor and recipient patients and modified to grow in one week, as opposed to several weeks for modified T cells, and still allow transplants without rejection.

This process has proved to be successful in a human trial in Pittsburgh with a patient receiving a liver transplant from an acceptable, yet not perfect, match. The recipient’s body learned to accept the new organ over time and the patient has now tapered down to only one anti-rejection drug. The patient’s doctors hope to even wean him from that one drug regimen in time.

Although this success involves only one patient, the medical team working with this process plan to do the procedure on 12 more patients. If successful, the doctors plan to expand the study with additional transplant patients at multiple test sites.

My takeaway from this research is that it promises a new hope to expand the science of organ transplantation—to remove some of the current barriers to organ transplantation in patients who remain further down on current transplant lists.

The current backlog of candidates on various transplant lists include (approximately) 95,000 for kidney, 13,000 for liver, 3,800 for heart, and 1,400 for lungs. In 2017, there were about 114,000 patients on various transplant waiting lists. Of those, less than 35,000 transplants were performed.

How wonderful it would be to be able to offer a future to more of those patients still remaining on those transplant lists.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, Advancement in Organ Transplant Procedures, Anti-Rejection Drugs, Blog Writers, Blogging, James J. Murray Blog, Medical Technology Advances, New Blog, Organ Transplants, Patient Therapy Outcomes, T Cell Modification for Organ Transplant | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chasing Old Man Winter in the New Year!

January, this first month of the new year, always starts off with great hope and promise. Often, however, those feelings of optimism and expectation sour as the weather turns colder and the sun remains behind dark clouds for weeks on end.

The winter months can quickly become times of isolation and our realities devolve into gloominess. It certainly can affect our outlook on life in general. Scientists call it Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD), and we casually refer to this mindset as the Winter Blues. Even the reality of facing the difficulty of sticking to (or already failing at) our new year’s resolutions can give a negative spin to our mood.

Sadly (pun intended), many people become victims to the Winter Blues and it can happen so gradually that people sometimes don’t realize what’s happening in their personal world until life seems suddenly “all wrong.”

The good news is that there are simple fixes to transform you back into a happy, productive individual. You might try one or two, or several, of these simple mood elevators to get you back on track with your life. All are helpful in one way or another, and to use an old pharmacy term, “Apply as needed.”

Lighten Up!

Experience more natural light. This time of the year, we tend to stay indoors where it’s warm, but that isolates us and keeps us more in the dark. Put on a coat and take a walk. Get out of the house for a short stroll in your neighborhood or in a park. Even lightening up your home by opening the window coverings for an hour a day can help.

Scientists tell us that we can revitalize our outlook on life by simply changing the background on our computers to a beach photo or some other happy, expansive scene.

Take Action!

Taking a moment to better organize our lives helps brighten the moods of many. It defines expectations and creates a better focus on free time. Clean out some clutter around the house or do some other task that you’ve been putting off. You’ll love the feeling of accomplishment every time you finish one of those nagging chores.

Feel the Burn!

Stay active! You might start a new exercise regimen (even if you start with just a few minutes a day), or even increase your current exercise program. The physical and psychological lift will amaze you.

Fuel Your Mood!

Increase your intake of seasonal produce. Studies show that the more fruits and vegetables people consume, the happier they become. Eat a cup of Greek yogurt. Probiotic foods are shown to lift your mood.

Eat some dark chocolate. Scientists indicate that even one ounce can make you feel calmer and more content. Consider chamomile tea to not only warm your tummy but also to warm your mood. A University of Pennsylvania study found that chamomile significantly eased symptoms of anxiety.

Become a Groupie!

Socialize more and surround yourself with friends and family. Seeking out human interaction is a natural mood elevator and minimizes the negative components in your life. Surround yourself with positive, energetic people.

Give Back!

Help others by doing some volunteer work. Philanthropic work is a well-documented mood enhancer.

Write a thank you note to someone who has been nice to you or has done you a favor. It will have a double impact by making you feel good about yourself as well as brighten the mood of the person on the receiving end of your appreciation.

Get Professional Help!

When all else fails, seek professional help. For more serious depression, there may be an underlying cause that requires professional guidance. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your life may depend on it.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in A New Year's Greeting, A New Year's Wish, A World of Possibility, About James J. Murray, Achieving Perfection, Being Thankful, Being Thankful Every Day, Being Thankful For Your Life, Blog Writers, Blogging, Categories of Harmful Substances for Humans, Change in the New Year, Changing Your Life in The New Year, Creating Change in the New Year, Creating New Habits in The New Year, Developing Better Life Skills, Failed New Year’s Resolutions, Forging a Better Life, How To Be A Happier Person, How To Become More Optimistic, How To Change Bad Habits, How to Create a Better Life, How to Create a More Enjoyable Life, How to Create a More Productive Life, How to Create a More Satisfying Life, How To Have A Better Winter, How to Implement New Year's Resolutions, Ideas for Creating Permanent Change, James J. Murray Blog, Life Skills, Life-Altering Goals, Making Change Permanent, Meaningful Change in The New Year, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog, New Life Goals, New Year's Resolutions, Prescription For Murder Blog, SAD, Seasonal Affected Disorder, Skills to Create a Better Life, The Writings of James J. Murray, Winter Blues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments



May peace break into your home;

May thieves steal your debts;

May the pockets of your jeans

Become magnets for $100 bills.

May love stick to you like glue;

May laughter assault your lips.

May happiness spread across your face;

May your tears be that of joy;

May the problems you had this past year forget your address.

In short . . .

May 2019 be the BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE!To You and Yours!!


Posted in A Holiday Wish, A New Year's Greeting, A New Year's Poem, A New Year's Wish, About James J. Murray, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Wishing You a Joyous Winter Holiday

Happy Holidays


May You and Yours Be Filled

With Joy and Peace

During This Holiday Season

Posted in A Christmas Greeting, A Holiday Wish, About James J. Murray, Happy Holidays, Happy Winter Holiday, James J. Murray Blog, Merry Christmas, My Holiday Wish | 4 Comments