Friday, March 25, 2016

There's more to it than just "drink more water."

In all likelihood, the single most important thing about the water you drink, beside removing any harmful chemicals or heavy metals, such as chloride, fluoride (fluorosilicic acid), and lead, while keeping the healthy minerals, because our body does need the electrolytes (don't drink Distilled-, or Reverse Osmosis-, or even ZeroWater Water without adding the needed minerals such as Concentrace Trace Minerals or Trace Minerals 40,000 Volts), is the presence of H- which makes the water into the most powerful anti-oxidant you could ever find.

Research on this issue has been profoundly confused, and apparently back when someone in Japan filed for a license to manufacture and sell electrolyzed water machines, a.k.a. ionizers, in ca 1962 no one had an explanation for the apparent health benefits, but the most readily observable feature of ERW (Electrolyzed Reduced Water), was its elevated pH, and hence the alkalinity of the water was mistaken for the explanation for its apparent health benefits. Except... that explanation made no sense. For more information see the website of the Molecular Hydrogen Foundation, and their page on Water Ionizers.

Looking a bit deeper, the Alkaline water from electrolysis also seemed to have anti-oxidant properties, and for a while the industry became obsessed with the ORP as a presumed indicator of the anti-oxidant properties of the water, but that was not the answer either. It would not be till 1997, when research published by Prof. Sanetaka Shirahata of Kyoto University finally put the world on the right track. The key to it all was the presence of H- ions (Hydride) in ERW, some thing that had previously been considered impossible, as it was thought H- could not persist but for a few nano seconds.

The ERW vs Alkalinity confusion

Apparently, the first "approvals" of  water electrolysis machines in Japan, where the technology originated, goes back to 1954 or thereabouts, and at the time the alkalinity of the water was thought to be its distinguishing feature, and the explanation for the reported health benefits. The "approval" however apparently was not more meaningful than is a UL-listing here: it attests that the machine is safe to use, and not that the claims associated with it are true. But the descriptor of alkaline water stuck, and became the basis of an industry mythology of dubious claims that persists to this day. At various other times there also was a claim that the electrolysis caused "micro clusters" of water molecules, and made hydration easier, again without convincing scientific basis, although it does seem that the presence of Hydride in the water comes in clusters. Gradually however, it became clear that the issue was that by electrolysis water with low ORP (Oxidation Reduction Potential) was produced on the cathodic side of the electrolysis process, and that seemed to relate to the effectiveness of the water in respect of health.

In the end it turns out that neither the high pH, nor the low ORP are the issue, merely corollaries to what is going on, which is the formation of H- ions, a.k.a. active hydrogen, the negative hydrogen ion, more usually called Hydride. Ionizers may produce alkaline water, but that has nothing to do with the price of beans. What they are is water electrolysis machines, that is at least an accurate description of what they do. Electrolyzed water machine is a workable nomenclature, since otherwise it is such a mouthful. They produce two outputs from ordinary tap water, one alkaline and the other acidic, one good for drinking and the other for cleaning/disinfection. However, the only satisfactory explanation for the health benefits were documented in the above referenced article in BBRC (Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications), in 1997. The principal author was Prof. Sanetaka Shirahata, of  Kyushu University. To all intents and purposes this is the seminal article on the health benefits of drinking ERW.

The machines are still widely marketed as 'ionizers' or 'alkaline water' machines, Electrolyzed Water Machines, and many other names. As noted, alkalinity of the water is a mere side effect. If the alkalinity were of the essence, you could add minerals to your water for pennies per gallon, and you would not need another pricey piece of household equipment. 

The Seminal Research of Prof. Shirahata
Back in 1997, when Prof. Sanetaka Shirahata published his paper demonstrating the effectiveness of ERW (Electrolyzed Reduced Water) as an anti-oxidant, it was somewhat controversial that he ascribed that effect to the persistence of H-, the negative hydrogen ion, or hydride in water, presumably for as much as 30 days.
Here is the reference to the article:
“Electrolyzed-Reduced Water Scavenges Active Oxygen Species and Protects DNA from Oxidative Damage”
Sanetaka Shirahata, Shirgeru Kabayama, Mariko Nakano, Takumi Miura, Kenichi Kusumoto, Miho Gotoh, Hidemitsu Hayashi, Kazumichi Otsubo, Shinkatsu Morisawa, and Yoshinori Katakura
Published in: Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol. 234, No.1, May 8, 1997
I was in Japan in 1999 and met with Nihon-Trim, the manufacturer of ERW machines, who was also one of the sponsors of Prof. Shirahata's work. I also met with Dr. Hidemitso Hayashi, a cardiologist who was a participant in that study, and a big actor in the ERW industry. In 1996 he had published a book in Japanese: "Active Hydrogen Liberates Mankind from Disease," (Japanese, ISBN 4-8454-1133-4). Dr. Hayashi parted ways with the manufacturers of "water ionizers" because he claimed to have found a cheaper, better way to produce H- in water, with a mineral-based stick to stir the water. The ERW people thought he was crazy, because theoretically it should take energy to produce the H- ion. Hayashi persisted, and you can find his information a.o. here: and his Amazon page, here (mostly Japanese only).

Hydride Rich Water

It may now be time for a new acronym: HRW, Hydrogen Rich Water. Note that the Japanese, with Dr. Hayashi leading the parade, have a habit of speaking of Hydrogen Rich water, but the proper word in English of the H- ionic form is Hydride, as was pointed out to me by an old friend, Prof. Edward Dratz, of the Biochemistry Dept. of Montana State University. However, a valid reason to stick to the term Hydrogen Rich Water may be the fact that the rH (relative Hydrogen score), actually measures all simple forms of H, inclucing H2, H-, as Vinny Pinto points out in his article on the issue. Stick to the abbreviation HRW, which is the same in either case.

On the same site you can also find extensive documentation of both the theory and the research of Hydrogen rich water.

And there are more and more reports about this issue. An interesting collection of material can be found on a website by one Vinny Pinto, where extensive documentation is shown of the fact that Hydride can and does persist in water, and how this fact is getting increasing recognition in water treatment, beer brewing, and advanced aquarium keeping:
All in all, the first test is simple, you can actually taste the difference. Hydrogen rich water has a smoother sensation than regular water, and many people who don't like to drink water find themselves suddenly able to drink water. It will be very interesting to see what kind of research we are going to see about the health effects of hydrogen rich water. Here is one article:
The conclusion of this study seems pretty significant to me, and they used a Hydrogen stick that is on the market as DHW, Docter's Hydrogen Water in the test:
In conclusion, consumption of hydrogen rich water generated via a magnesium stick demonstrated improvement in the levels of oxidative stress markers associated with metabolic syndrome and boosted the body’s antioxidant activity. Hydrogen rich water represents a potentially novel therapeutic and preventive strategy for the treatment of metabolic syndrome. This method of delivery was advantageous as magnesium sticks are portable and proved to be an easy and safe administration of hydrogen rich water for daily consumption.
You can find the same Hydrogen stick that was apparently used in this study online, on Ebay, as Docter's Hydrogen Water here.

Meanwhile I also notice that there are now a growing number of products available that claim to achieve the same results , under names like Alkaline Water Stick, Power Ionic Health Ion Water Purifier Stick (I did not make that up), Portable Water Ionizer Alkaline Water Stick, Second Stage Hydro Pen and Third Stage Hydro Pen, and a Santevia Alkaline Water Stick. I have no idea how good they all are.

In short, there is a whole array of new solutions emerging, and it may be worthwhile to try them out for yourself. The sensory experience of Hydrogen rich water is different, and in many cases people who don't like drinking water do like this type of water, and, needless to say, it is very good for them. The hard part is not to get confused by the pseudo-scientific gobbledygook and stick to the worthwhile research, but clearly there is now a growing body of such research. Enough to warrant taking this seriously and finding out for yourself, for a potent anti-oxidant drinking water is nothing to be sneezed at! Not to mention it should help large numbers of people get rid of any allergy problems which are after all simply a function of a weakened immune system, and possibly many more serious health issues.

The Relative Hydrogen Score, rH

Some of the claims are bound to be bogus, especially if they focus on alkalinity. You can always use an ORP meter, and you should be seeing a negative value, probably in the -150 to -200 range. But ORP alone is not an absolute indicator of anti-oxidant value. You need to compute the rH, relative Hydrogen score, which is a truer indication of the anti-oxidant properties of the water, to find out. The formula is discussed here:

  • Simply put, rH = ((ORP + 205) / 29.58 + (2 x pH))
  • The scale runs from zero to 42, and below 28 the water is reducing, and above 28 it is oxidizing. 
Just drinking water may not be enough, but drinking HRW may make a significant difference...

Monday, March 14, 2016

Of Cauliflower and Curry Sauce, Black Rice and Roasted Mushrooms

Cauliflower is plentiful just now, and with the many Bangladeshi markets in my area, good curry is not hard to find... not to mention one nearby building is nicknamed (among Bangladeshis) the curry palace, because it has such an overwhelmingly Bangladeshi community. Steamed cauliflower with curry sauce is an old favorite, that I had not made for many years, but with the new vegan regime, I suddenly got interested again.

Black Rice is great stuff, it tastes terrific, and it has high nutritional value. It also makes for an interesting contrast with the white of the cauliflower, and I like this particular combination better than cauliflower with brown rice (white rice of course is a no, no). I cook it in my trusty old Zojirushi rice cooker like brown rice, on the GABA Brown Rice cycle. Black Rice is easy to find in my area. The Chang-Li supermarket usually stocks at least two varieties, a Chinese one, and my favorite from a company named Heartland:

Heartland Products at Chang-Li in the Indian section

From the same company comes also a lovely black quinoa, which I love also. 

According to the Wikipedia article cited above, black rice contains iron, vitamin E, and more antioxidants than Blueberries. What more do you want? But the Wikipedia article continues: Black rice contains essential amino acid like lysine, Tryptophan; vitamins such as vitamin B1, vitamin B2, folic acid; and is a good source of minerals including iron, zinc, calcium and phosphorus. And, like I mentioned above it creates an interesting picture on your plate with the cauliflower.

The Recipe

If you don't have a steamer, Chang-Li has classic bamboo steamers. So, steaming the cauliflower is easy. Rice I usually make ahead for a few days, then comes the critical piece, the curry sauce, based on a recipe from Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn's book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-based Cure (page 163). Esselstyn's book is the Bible of the "plant perfect," a.k.a. "no-oil vegan,"  diet. My principal difference with the Esselstyn recipe is that I don't want to be too stingy on the curry, so for his 1-2 teaspoons, I substituted 1-2 tablespoons, and I use heaping tablespoons to boot, but the amount will vary with the type of curry you are using.


  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1-2 tablespoons white miso
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1-2 heaping tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon of arrowroot, dissolved in water. (Added last)


  1. Blend the rice and water together in a blender, food processor, Nutribullet, Vitamix, etc. to liquify the rice.
  2. Add the nutritional yeast, white miso, garlic powder and curry powder, blend together.
  3. Bring to a boil over low flame, stirring continuously.
  4. Turn off the heat and add the dissolved arrowroot to thicken.
This is the best curry sauce recipe I have ever found, and it makes a nice, thick sauce if you get the arrowroot right.
It could not be easier: pour a liberal helping of this curry sauce on your cauliflower on the plates. Serve with roasted mushrooms (with rosemary), or a Seitan or Kao-Fu stew, or some bean dish to complement the proteins in the rice.
For the record, Arrowroot can always be found at Chang-Li too in the West Indian section, and they also have some excellent organic miso, both white and red.
Around here the nutritional yeast can be found at Good n Natural, at 2173 White Plains Road.

The more I get into this, the more fun I have with all the new recipes.