Tag Archives: food

How much do you know about what you eat?

 The New York’s American Museum of Natural History has recently opened up an exhibit named “Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture” This exhibit explores different foods and the nutrition, entertainment, rituals that are tied behind it.

This exhibit also includes sample meals of famous people such as Michael Phelps and Jane Austen. After visiting the exhibit Clara Moskowitz, the LiveSchience senior writer expresses the 10 most interesting facts she learned.

1.     Moskowitz explains that the world provides enough food to feed the entire human body but the problem is not production but distribution.  One U.S family of four wastes 1,656 pounds of food every year, so think about that next time you want to throw away your food.

2.     The second point Moskowitz shared caught my attention because it demonstrates signs of animal cruelty. The exhibit explains that wild chickens normally lay about 15 eggs a year but now, farmers have enhanced the chickens to lay up to 200-300 eggs a year.

3.     Up until 500 years ago the people in the Americas where the only ones to have ever tasted chili peppers, chocolate, and tomatoes.  But now these items have become essential in cooking meals around the world.

4.     Did you ever think you could change the shape of a watermelon? Well Japan has done it.

Japan grows their watermelons in glass cubes, causing them to grow in a square form. It is said that this is done to make it easier to store the watermelons in refrigerators. The square watermelon also sells for a significantly larger amount then regularly shaped watermelons.

5.     If you wondered why birds could easily eat spicy peppers and their seeds with out it bothering them, here is the answer. Birds are unable to taste capsaicin, which is the chemical that produces the spice flavor in chili peppers.

6.     If you lived before the 1800s you where still using yours hands to eat your food because Americans did not start using forks until the mid 1800s.  Moskowitz also explains that in China the use of chopsticks over knives demonstrates the importance of scholars over warriors.

7.     40% of the world’s ice-free land is used by humans to grow crops and livestock. This number shocked me because I was not aware of how much land is being used to produce food.

8.     Boiling food requires airtight containers; therefore the technique to simmering food didn’t develop until 10,000 years ago.

9.     How do you explain a person being both overweight and malnourished? A person who eats too many fatty foods that are short of the vitamins and minerals the body needs.  I connected this conclusion to the ongoing problem in America of overweight people that only consume fast foods and foods extremely high in calories.

10.   Last, Moskowitz explained a point that fascinated me. I lived in Thailand for 4 months and the food there was extremely spicy, nothing like anything in America. I was always intrigued in how it was possible that the Thai people could eat such spicy food with out becoming hot and bothered.  Now Moskowitz had answered my question.  When a woman is pregnant and constantly eats spicy food, they can pass along toleration for spicy food through breast-feeding.  This is why the people in Thailand can eat much Spicer foods then most people around the world.


 

Why do Japanese people live for so long?

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I have lived abroad in Asia for six years and something I hear a lot is the long lifespans of Japanese people. I always thought this to be bizarre because they also have one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Japanese men have an average lifespan of 79 years old, and women, a little of 86 years old. This makes them the country with the oldest life expectancy in the world. It got me thinking, what makes them live long? Is it genetic? Is it something they eat or drink? Is it their lifestyle?

Turns out, it has nothing to do with genetics (the Japanese had one of the lowest life expectancies after World War II due to the atomic bomb). So it’s their diet and lifestyle that keeps them living to ripe old age.


Not Your Typical Sushi…
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I am not a food or health expert, but just by looking at the diet of a Japanese person to the diet of an American, it is obvious that the Japanese eat a lot healthier. Japan, being the strip of islands that it is, causes the Japanese to have a diet that is heavy in seafood and less in red meats. Red meat has higher cholesterol levels than fish. High cholesterol levels can lead to an increase risk in heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes in the future. In Japan, fish is their “meat” or their main source of protein. This allows them to keep their cholesterol at a healthy level and consume fish oil, which has multiple health benefits, such as improved immunity and depression and anxiety relief. The only “genetic” part of the long lifespan of the Japanese is probably the fact that they are more prone to be lactose intolerant. Japanese people haven’t been dependent on dairy to keep reproductive success, therefore lactose (milk) has never been a heavy part of the Japanese diet, and that’s when the tolerance forms. Despite milk’s many health benefits, it also contains excess cholesterol which a Japanese won’t consume into their bodies. Japanese people also eat rice, which is low fat and high in nutrients, soy, which is contained in tofu and bean sprouts, which is also rich in protein and helps reduce high blood pressure and heart disease (which is killing a lot of Americans.), seaweed, which contains iodine and can help fight against cancers.
According to to the US National Academy on an Aging Society, Japanese people consume a third of the calories Americans eat.

Stand and Squat
I have been to Japan and have seen it with my own eyes: people walk in fast paces, people stand in lines, and there are a lot less cars. A large portion of Japanese people walk, bike, or take the train (walking to the train station). This means they’re standing for longer periods of the day. Researchers at the Louisiana University have proved that 27 percent of all deaths in America are partly caused by adults spending too much time spending down. Hence it can be concluded that since Japanese people tend to walk around more, they can have a longer lifespan. There are also studies that have shown that squatting while pooping is healthier than sitting. I don’t want to go into details because they’re quite vivid explanations, but it can be read about here. To put it in a nutshell, the position in which you are pooping can be either good or bad for you. Sitting is an unnatural posture to poop in while squatting is not.
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The Japanese lifestyle is evidently healthy and is the reason for the long. So how do we live that same healthy lifestyle in the US? It’s not like we can drastically change how we live our daily lives, but we can take smaller steps. We can always choose to cut down the unhealthy foods in our diet. Many Americans do a great job in exercising, I believe if they can keep that up with a healthy diet, the average lifespan can also increase. What do you think?

Works cited:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2004/jun/10/thisweekssciencequestions1
http://www.tofugu.com/2010/10/06/why-do-japanese-people-live-so-long/

Your Brain is a drug addict, and that drug is food!

Most humans know eating is a vital part of daily life. In order to grow the body properly, it needs to go through chemical and biological processes involving the digestion and discharge of food. But, how can those particular foods overall affect the brain?

 

            By medical definition, a drug is something your brain requires in order to function and food is something your body needs in order to function. But, is there really a difference?

 

            The author of this article explains the composition of food and juxtaposes that idea in relation to the human brain’s neurotransmission behavior, “The foods we eat, and many of our most popular psychoactive drugs, come from plants or animals. The ingredients in these plant and animal products are very similar if not identical to the neurotransmitters our brains and bodies use to function normally.” Here, the author is explaining how the majority of regular food humans eat can all technically be considered a “drug” because of the biological and chemical structure of those foods.  So, in essence, whatever food someone chooses to eat, whether it is a piece of broccoli or sushi, the chemicals within the food will determine how they affect the neurons in the brain and how the individual feels or thinks; food is a mood stimulant.

 

            So, what foods are good for the brains? Various vegetables such as tomatoes and eggplants contain beneficial chemicals that help increase memory and function.  Also, beans contain a chemical which helps to stimulate brain performance as well. But, in general terms, the effects on the neurons rely solely on the amount of the particular food the consumer chooses and also the person’s physique. A skinny person would probably require less amounts of a particular food to feel a greater effect on the person’s mood while an obese person would need more amounts of that particular item.

 

            On this same token, certain household spices contain special psychoactive properties such as nutmeg. When nutmeg is freshly grounded, it contains psychoactive effects for the users who consume large doses at one time. Furthermore, myristicin, an active chemical within nutmeg, creates the properties to affect the brain.  The nutmeg has been used by users to experience a different type of “high”.

 

            All of these foods have been studied and shown to stimulate the feelings of humans and moods. For further studies, scientists could possibly institute clinical trials for adults and teenagers to specific diets and see their brain functions after the trials. The two group’s comparison could provide further detail on the neurological effects of food on the brain.  


Website URL: http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/this_is_your_brain_on_food/ 

Image URL: http://blog.acorn-is.com/wp-content/uploads/apple-full2.jpg 

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Late Night Eating

Since returning from Thanksgiving break I’ve been curious whether or not my eating patterns should be changed.  I tend to eat breakfast and lunch at normal times of the day, but I always find myself eating dinner after 8 o’clock at night.  For years I’ve been told in health class and by family members that eating after 8 o’clock is bad for your health and can cause you to gain weight.  I never really believed in the statement because I’ve always been practically nocturnal in my sleep schedule, but I’m starting to think about it now.  After looking through a few online articles, a particular one caught my interest.

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On the John Alvino website an article was written by Alvino about his interest in the same topic.  For years he’d listened to other people and kept himself from eating after 7 o’clock at night in fear of gaining weight.  He eventually came to notice that his hunger was more intense later in the evening, so he decided to try out eating his dinner at a later time.  After trying this for 12 weeks he saw unbelievable results.  He’d lost body fat!  He’s not a doctor so he can’t declare that this will actually work for everyone, but I’d like to take his word for it.  He does close with suggesting that people stop eating at least 90 minutes before bed time.
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What do you guys think?  Is late night eating or snacking a good or bad idea to you?

The Unknown Migraine

migraine.jpg    Migraines are never truly understood.  Ever experience a migraine?  I have.  For me, the migraine starts as me seeing stars, such as when you take a picture and the flash hurts your eyes.  Then, I get a headache that does not seem to go away until I go to sleep.  Then sometimes the headache can lead to me becoming nauseous and sometimes throwing up.  I was always told by my parents I get these migraines from lack of sleep or my blood sugar being low from not eating for a long period of time.   

  The definition of a migraine, according to the Mayo clinic staff, is intense throbbing and pulsing in one area of the head and commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. 
  Although I think I know why I get my migraines, nobody knows the true cause of them; however, scientists do have an idea.  Migraines can be caused by changes in the brainstem and it’s interactions with the trigeminal nerve.  This nerve is a large pain pathway.  Also, an imbalance in the brain chemicals such as serotonin may also contribute to migraines.  Serotonin  helps regulate pain throughout your nervous system.  Serotonin levels tend to drop when a person has a migraine.  Migraines trigger your trigeminal system to release substances called neuropeptides.  These travel into your brain’s outer covering called meninges, resulting in a headache.  
   Other things that may trigger migraines are hormonal changes in women, certain foods, commonly alcohol, cheese, chocolate, overdose of caffeine, salty foods, Asian foods and processed food. Also, skipping meals or fasting can make a migraine come about.  I am not saying to not eat these things, however, having too much of some of these things can trigger the brain to have a migraine. But please because I said this do not be scared to eat them!! A few other causes of migraines are stress, sensory stimuli such as bright lights and loud sounds, changes in sleeping patterns, physical factors such as physical exhaustion, changes in environment such as weather, and certain medications. 
   There are many tests one can take to determine if they have a migraine.  One is called the Computerized tomography (CT).  This uses X-ray pictures to show a cross-sectional view of your brain. This also helps doctors diagnose tumors, infections and other medical problems that can possibly cause headaches.  Another test is Magnetic Response Imaging also known as an MRI.  MRI’s use radio waves and a magnet to create a detailed view of the cross-sectional picture of your brain.  This helps doctors diagnose strokes, tumors, aneurysms, neurological diseases, blood vessels that supply the brain and other abnormal activities in the brain.  The last test is the spinal tap also known as the lumbar puncture.  If the doctor think something more serious is going on such as meningitis, which is inflammation of the membranes (mininges) and cerebrospinal fluid circulating the brain and spinal cord.  
  I was looking for any experiments done on migraines; however, I could not find any.  I think the information the researchers have come up with about migraines is correct.  From personal experience I can say their symptoms and causes are identical to what I feel when I get them.  
  Do you ever get migraines?  If you do why do you feel you get them?  I had a teacher in high school who said she gets migraines when it rains.  I think I get them from lack of sleep and food.  What about you? 
  This link links you to a video by Mayo clinic about migraines with aura.  Auras are usually visual but could also be sensory, motor, or verbal disturbances. This is a good visual about migraines. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/migraine-aura/MM00659 
article used: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/migraine-headache/DS00120

Quantity and Quality

Joseph Redden, of the Univeristy of Minnesota and Kelly Haws, of Texas A&M University say that dieters cannot rely entirely on strong willpower to control their eating. Despite the common belief that self-control is a battle between willpower and desire, these two professors are reluctant to accept this.

In a series of studies, researchers found that people who control their diets with success eat fewer unhealthy foods because they are satisfied sooner. These studies also found that people with less self-control established greater control when they paid attention to the quantity of unhealthy foods that they consumed. Simply paying attention to the amount of unhealthy food that these people were eating made them feel satisfied more quickly. 

In a study done, consumers who had poor self-control were asked to count the amount of times that they swallowed while eating an unhealthy snack. These people experienced better self-control because counting the times they swallowed made them satisfied quicker than if they did not count the amount of times that they swallowed while eating. 

Redden and Haws conclude that dieters should focus on the quantity of unhealthy foods that they are eating. On the other hand however, dieters should not pay too much attention to the quantity of healthy foods that they eat. Monitoring the quantity of healthy food eaten can actually be counterproductive when trying to maintain a healthier diet. The secret to success is knowing when to monitor your eating.

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Quantity and Quality

Joseph Redden, of the Univeristy of Minnesota and Kelly Haws, of Texas A&M University say that dieters cannot rely entirely on strong willpower to control their eating. Despite the common belief that self-control is a battle between willpower and desire, these two professors are reluctant to accept this.

In a series of studies, researchers found that people who control their diets with success eat fewer unhealthy foods because they are satisfied sooner. These studies also found that people with less self-control established greater control when they paid attention to the quantity of unhealthy foods that they consumed. Simply paying attention to the amount of unhealthy food that these people were eating made them feel satisfied more quickly. 

In a study done, consumers who had poor self-control were asked to count the amount of times that they swallowed while eating an unhealthy snack. These people experienced better self-control because counting the times they swallowed made them satisfied quicker than if they did not count the amount of times that they swallowed while eating. 

Redden and Haws conclude that dieters should focus on the quantity of unhealthy foods that they are eating. On the other hand however, dieters should not pay too much attention to the quantity of healthy foods that they eat. Monitoring the quantity of healthy food eaten can actually be counterproductive when trying to maintain a healthier diet. The secret to success is knowing when to monitor your eating.

lens19321161_17ee9a25322eea77b3b2346eb3b5828f.jpg

Is Organic Food Actually Better For You?

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My mom is obsessed with organic food. Whenever we go grocery shopping, I can’t even think about getting non-organic anything without risking getting a lecture about how bad it is for you. Even on my college girl budget, she expects me to buy organic produce. I’m convinced that it’s all a load of crap, so I did some poking around the internet to see what the experts had to say.
Why Would Non-Organic Be Dangerous?
The worries that come along with non-organic foods have to do with the pesticides, chemicals and hormones that the food comes in contact with while it’s being raised. Non-organic meat is heavily treated with hormones, including estrogen and growth hormones, to fatten up the animals. Non-organic fruits and vegetables are treated with pesticides and other chemicals to keep bugs and diseases at bay. The worry is that humans are ingesting these hormones and chemicals and they are negatively affecting the human body.
So is Organic Actually Better?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a report stating that they found no evidence that organic food is healthier. They did admit that organic food exposes consumers to fewer pesticides than non-organic food, and organic farming promotes better environmental practices. However, they found that “current evidence does not support any meaningful nutritional benefits or deficits from eating organic compared with conventionally grown foods, and there are no well-powered human studies that directly demonstrate health benefits or disease protection as a result of consuming an organic diet.” 
Bottom Line?
The reports bottom line was that the main focus should be a healthy, balanced diet, organic or not. Inability to avoid organic produce or animal products should not stop a family from eating all their fruits and veggies. So, if you can’t afford the organic tomatoes, don’t let that stop you! Buy the regular ones, and just give them an extra wash. It’s not exactly organic, but a few pesticides are better than avoiding fruits and veggies all together.

Midnight Snacks Good or Bad?

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   Have you ever come home late and all you crave is food?  I know this happens to me all the time.  I always love to get midnight snacks, for some reason the later I stay up the hungrier I get.  Unfortunately, this eating late may be an explanation for why I consider myself nocturnal.  According to this linked article, eating late may be the cause for you losing a night’s sleep.  

   The Professor is Dean Drew Dawson.  He says, “It depends on what is in the meal and what time you eat that meal before you go to sleep”.  An experiment that was done at the Centre for Sleep Research at the University of South Australia. 
   The Experiment: 
   Four people were chosen to be analyzed in the experiment.  Two people got their dinner at a normal time about three hours before going to bed for the night.  The other two people got the same exact meal but had to wait until right before they went to bed to eat it.  All four people were hooked up to a machine.  They all had an electrode on the right middle of the head.  This is what will read the signals of the brain activity.  
   The Next Morning: 
   The early eaters slept well.  However, the late eaters said they tossed and turned all night and it took them a little while to fall asleep even though they typically fall asleep quickly and deeply at night.  
   Five Stages Of Sleeping:
   1. drowsiness
   2. light sleep
   3&4. deep sleep
   5. REM (rapid eye movement)
  Deep sleep is the part of sleeping that rests and repairs the body that gets you ready for the next day.  The late eaters skipped the deep part of their sleep.  
  The scientist who evaluated their entire nights sleep, Sarah Biggs said, “They had a lot more awakenings and a lot more movement than the early eaters so they didn’t actually get a lot of the deep sleep that is normally associated with the early hours of the night”. 
   Dr. Clare Collins, a lecturer in nutrition at the University of Newcastle said it was very common to get reflux if eating before sleeping.  You have your digestion system fully working at a time it should be relaxed.  
 Conclusion:
  Eat a light meal before going to sleep so you are not too hungry and not too full. Nothing with caffeine or alcohol.  
  Some suggested foods by Health Central are bananas, small bowl of oatmeal or cereal, small yogurt with granola, half a bagel, crackers with peanut butter, sliced apple, a scrambled egg with toast and tea.  Most of these foods have magnesium, calcium and carbohydrates.  All of these nutrients relax the body and help your brain be at ease before falling asleep. 
   What do you eat before you go to sleep?  Do you usually eat a big meal before going to sleep or a light snack?  I know many people like to fall asleep on an empty stomach while others find it impossible to like I do.  However, now I know I can not fall asleep on a completely full stomach either.  I have to find the happy medium with little snacks like the ones I named.  Did this make you want to evaluate how you fall asleep?   
articles used: http://www.healthcentral.com/sleep-disorders/cf/slideshows/7-snacks-to-eat-before-bed-for-better-sleep/banana-with-a-small-glass-of-milk/?ic=obnetwork&ic=obnetwork 
http://health.ninemsn.com.au/whatsgoodforyou/theshow/694624/eating-just-before-sleeping-151-will-it-affect-your-sleep

Bread and cookies

I was looking for an idea for this blog post when I saw the picture of cookies from one of my fellow classmate’s blog post. I for some reason then thought of the idea that we can add a piece of bread to stale/hard cookies in order to make the once hard cookies soft again. In case you never tried this, this is how you make your stale cookies soft again. 


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  1.    Put a stale or a batch of stale cookies into a close-able container (like a Tupperware container)

  2.    Throw in a piece of bread

  3.    Close the lid on the container

  4.    Let the closed container sit for a night

5.    In the morning open the container and enjoy your now soft cookies.

We know that the bread makes the cookies soft but like I asked earlier, how does this happen. What causes the cookies to suddenly become softer? In order to answer this question I decided to check out the TLC Network’s website to see if they had any answers. The website states that the moisture from the bread is absorbed into the sugar from the cookies. This means that the cookies must have a high amount of sugar in them or at least enough sugar in them to make the moisture be able to get absorbed into them.

          Still wondering why this happens I decided to dig deeper and try to find out what was actually happening. I next turned to a website called Science Shorts with Dr. David Humphreys. The website explains that the cookies are denser and contain more sugar then the bread does. The cookies contain fine sugar that is known as hydroscopic, or soaks moisture from the atmosphere. Unlike the bread the cookies have a dense texture, which holds in the water.

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         So what essentially happens is that the bread cannot hold in the water that it has inside of it because it does not have the dense structure it needs to hold in the water. So the water is then released into the sealed container that the cookies and bread are in. The cookie’s sugar then absorbs the water that is in the atmosphere and holds it in making the cookies soft again.