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Italy Travel Ideas

Friday, 18 March 2016

There's More to Pumpkin Seeds than You Ever Thought


I love pumpkin seeds for their taste, and recently I started snacking on them in the late evening before going to bed.

After a while I noticed that I was falling asleep much more easily than had been the case for some time. A persistent cold and cough I had been suffering from had also disappeared.

The causes can be manifold, of course, but I noticed the strange coincidences and I decided to look up the health benefits of pumpkin seeds, if any existed: I wasn't even aware that they possessed them, for if you like the taste of a particular food you're not inclined to dwell too much on the question of whether it's good for you. Just in case you find out that it isn't.

From my research it turned out that the improvements I had discovered in myself could likely have been the result of consuming this great food, which, according to Nutrition Research Reviews, has indeed many medicinal properties.

The report of a study published in Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences and entitled "The effects of methanolic, chloroform, and ethylacetate extracts of the Cucurbita pepo L. on the delay type hypersensitivity and antibody production" starts in this way:
Pumpkin, as a dietary plant, has been used in traditional medicine around the world. In addition, during the last decade, antidiabetic, antihypertensive, antitumor, intestinal antiparasitic, antibacterial, anti hypercholesterolemia, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and analgic effects of pumpkin has been reported.
The study in itself is performed on mice therefore, as is well known, the application to humans is extremely unsafe. But the essay's introduction indicates the scientific recognition of this plant's health benefits.

Pumpkin seeds contain the vegetable compounds phytosterols, as well as free-radical scavenging antioxidants, also useful.

The 2015 study "Evaluation of the potential of squash pumpkin by-products (seeds and shell) as sources of antioxidant and bioactive compounds" concludes:
This work shows that the residues produced from agro-food industries, like pumpkin shells and seeds are potentially good sources of antioxidant compounds like polyphenols, beneficial for human health. Therefore it is of high interest to develop low cost/effective methods of processing to transform them in added value co-products.
Pumpkin seeds and their oil have benefits for postmenopausal women.

For men's health as well, pumpkin seeds have long been known to be important. Their high zinc content is beneficial for the prostate. Studies have shown that their oil can be used in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, namely enlarged prostate gland.

Research results published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology show that pumpkin contains appreciable amounts of important nutrients, including calcium, iron, zinc, total dietary fibre and β-carotene.

Zinc, of which pumpkin seeds are rich, has many crucial functions, including sleep, insulin regulation, mood, eye and skin health, and particularly it supports the immune system. Zinc deficiency is common in our societies, and that leads to increased incidence of colds and flu, as well as depression and chronic fatigue. The boost to my immune system from pumpkin seeds could explain my better resistance to cold and cough.

And what about my own experience of falling asleep more easily? That link with pumpkin seeds too has found confirmation in scientific literature.

Pumpkin seeds are rich in the amino acid tryptophan (proteins are complex molecules made of amino acids), that the body converts into the highly precious neurotransmitter serotonin which in turn is converted into melatonin, called the "sleep hormone". Research has found that protein source tryptophan is comparable to pharmaceutical grade tryptophan for the treatment of insomnia.

In addition, pumpkin seeds are cheap, easy to eat, easy to carry, don't require cooking, etc etc.

In case you are thinking that I have invested in pumpkin seed companies' shares or otherwise have vested interests in them, I haven't. But now I may be starting giving it a thought.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Redefining Marriage in Italy Is Not so Easy

Rome Family Day protest, 30 January 2016

Published on Catholic World Report

By Enza Ferreri

Recently Catholic World Report published an article by Italian journalist Alessandra Nucci on how “Italy is the last remaining nation in Western Europe to hold out against the recognition of civil partnerships” and how the Church hierarchy, in particular the Italian Bishops’ Conference, has not always been as straightforward as desired on this theme.

It was followed a few days later by a piece on the website of the Culture of Life Foundation entitled Italy Debates The Definition Of “Family”…A Half-Century Too Late, by Steve Soukup.

First the facts. Is Italy the last stronghold of the Catholic family in Western Europe? We’ll have to wait until the result of the vote on new prospective legislation currently under discussion, but there are signs that in Italy the LGBT and similar lobbies are having a more difficult time than elsewhere.

There are two major innovative elements in the Cirinnà proposed law (named after the senator Monica Cirinnà who drafted it) that is now going through the Italian Parliament. One is granting official status to both heterosexual and homosexual civil partnerships, making them legally equal to marriages. The other is giving the civil partners in all these unions the right to adopt each other’s offspring, thus opening the door to same-sex couples’ adoption rights.

While the various parties in Parliament are negotiating and fighting over innumerable amendments and counter-amendments to the bill, the latest opinion polls have found that a small majority of Italians (between 50% and 60%, depending on the poll) favor the former but a strong majority (3 out of 4) oppose the latter.

Breakdown by political affiliation shows that the majority of Right-wing respondents oppose official status for civil partnerships as well, although individual Catholic members of Parliament across a broad spectrum of parties from the Right to the Left are also totally against this bill.

It’s interesting to see how in Italy, like in the United States, a public opinion that showed initial resistance to legal recognition of civil unions (or, in the case of the US, to same-sex marriage) has gradually changed over recent years, considering that in 2000 only 42% of Italians accepted it. The effect of mainstream media’s propaganda and the general feeling of fighting a lost battle (being “on the wrong side of history”) combine with changing demographics, as the 78% of supporters among the under-35s clearly indicates.

Italy is still the only country in Western Europe that does not have a law on civil partnerships.

Does this mean that Italy is lagging behind, and that countries like the UK and France are more advanced? This is what I used to think. If I was asked such a question years ago, my answer would have been “yes”.

But now I have different views and I wonder: advanced towards what? Our concept of "progress" entirely depends on the final destination we choose.

I now believe that the nations which introduced laws to give equal status to non-married couples and legalised same-sex marriage have advanced on the road to perdition, the road leading to Hell. Not to mention human unhappiness in this world as well.

Steve Soukup’s argument in the article mentioned above is that, since Italians are condemned (far from uniquely in the Western world) to demographic extinction, it’s pointless for them to worry about granting official status to civil partnerships, same-sex and non, stepchild adoption and similar matters.

This argument has a very strange logic. For it’s exactly by reaffirming the value of the true marriage and family, and therefore by opposing those who wish to equate marriage with other forms of union while at the same time by explaining the need for Christian ethics and natural law, that we can hope for society’s recovery, including demographically.

Furthermore, to say (or imply) that Italy is lagging behind (by expressions like “a half-century too late”), despite its having one of the lowest birth rates, a sure indicator of a “developed” society, just because the country doesn’t easily accept to be dominated and subjected to homophile and sexual relativist ideas, is tantamount to neglecting an objective sociological indicator and paying attention only to a subjective ideological preference of the commentator.

What is very lively in Italy, although largely ignored or vilified by the media, is the large grassroots movement of opinion against the Cirinnà bill and what it represents.

An example of the tactics used by the media to attack this movement is the coverage of the Standing Sentinels. All over Italy, in hundreds of towns and cities, silent protests are being held by the Sentinelle in Piedi to protect the natural family founded on the union between man and woman.

They stand in a square or other public place they have been authorized to use, usually reading.

These peaceful people generally attract the attention of various Left-wing, anarchist, LGBT and other groups, who stage unauthorized counter-demonstrations around them, harassing them with shouts, insults, spits, pushes and all sorts of violence, verbal and physical, to which the Standing Sentinels don’t respond.

The media reports, not unlike those talking about “sectarian violence” between Christians and Muslims in Islamic countries where the former are persecuted, tortured and slaughtered by the latter, describe “conflicts between opposing groups”, one of which, for good measure, is defined as “ultra-Catholic” (whatever that means).

The Family Day is another spontaneous movement of laity that has organised protests. On January 30th a huge pro-family demonstration, dubbed “Family Day”, was held in the Circus Maximus, one of the largest open spaces in Rome, estimated to have been attended by over a million people and said to have been the biggest demo of all time, in a country long used to big demos.

I conclude with what the Family Day spokesman Massimo Gandolfini, a neurosurgeon and psychiatrist, declared:
On these issues I have specialist knowledge. The entire world literature, from Freud to today's studies, says that the harmonious growth of the individual requires the essential presence of the so-called "parental triad" (child, mom and dad). There is no dissenting voice, except some theories from the ‘80s supported by the gay lobby, like the studies of the homosexual researcher Patterson, who recounted the development of some children of same-sex couples through their self-reports. In reality they are not really scientific investigations but opinion surveys carried out by her. There is no scientifically valid study favorable to the adoption of children by gay couples.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

A Tale of Inequality: Sex, Rape, Alcohol, Anonymity

In the UK there is a two-lane system of law: one for women and one for men. And guess which is the faster, broader, more comfortable lane to travel in.

Last August an unnamed (to protect privacy of those involved, all names are withdrawn here) middle-aged top woman lawyer had a business lunch with a male colleague, a senior City lawyer, suggested by her, followed by a "long boozy afternoon" together.

The pair were then seen outside the very busy Waterloo Station, in London, during rush hour, engaged in indecent and intimate behaviour.

They were arrested and spent the night in a cell in a South London police station.

The following morning, the man denied any wrongdoing and was charged with outraging public decency by engaging in a sexual act during broad daylight. The woman, a QC (Queen's Counsel, namely an especially eminent lawyer) and high-profile barrister, accepted a police caution for the same offence as the man.

Six weeks later the QC changed her story, and said that she should never have accepted the caution because she had, in reality, been the victim of a sexual assault. That claim guaranteed her anonymity for life, while the man, as the defendant, has had his name splashed all over the papers.

Media reports say that six weeks later, after returning to the same police officer who gave her the caution, the woman said she was intending to make an application to have the caution quashed, claiming she was unwell at the time of the incident.

Instead of asking her why she didn’t say all this before accepting the caution, the police officer took her statement and contacted the man, who was told he would be arrested if he didn’t go for a voluntary interview about it.

So, after getting totally drunk and having sex, she claimed she had been sexually assaulted so that, as a "victim", her identity would not be disclosed, her reputation would not be trashed and she would not risk jeopardising her brilliant career. A man cannot have that "opportunity" open to him to protect his name.

We have here another of the many absurdities of the victimhood ideology and culture: women, as pre-labelled "victims", have the privilege of getting plastered and claiming they were raped, men don't. But these women can decide to become unconscious through stratospheric alcohol consumption, and they were conscious when they made that decision. Also: why can't the same thing be said of a man? That a woman sexually assaulted him because he was too drunk to be able to give consent?

Why should a man not be allowed to sue a woman because she had sex with him when he was too drunk to give consent? Reflexes are not a sign of voluntary reaction.

Violence is not claimed to have occurred in these cases of alleged "rape" when the woman was under the influence, because obviously violence was not necessary. So, if there was no resistance, the disparity in physical strength between the sexes - which is anyway general but not universal, true in most cases but not in all - cannot be adduced as an excuse for such unequal treatment of men and women.

To prevent these travesties of justice from happening, the law should be changed so that either both accuser and defendant in sexual crime cases are protected by anonymity or neither is.

Similarly, either both men and women can use being drunk while having sex as grounds for a rape claim or neither can.