Author Archives: Colby Kranz

Fear of the F Word… FAT

Keep trying to shed the pounds by eliminating all fatty foods yet STILL no success? As today’s generation is highly centered on weight loss, we are constantly running into many dietary problems across the globe. Whether it be different kinds of diets such as Atkins, Paleo, Vegan, or Weight Watchers, we are eliminating major food groups in which our bodies’ need to survive. Highly concentrated fatty foods have become extremely controversial, even if they are the so-called “good fats”. So, do our bodies actually need fats (good or bad) to lose weight?

            According to Livestrong, the US Department of Agriculture tells that 25-30 percent of calorie intake should be coming from fats in order to lose weight (Bruso). Well, I think there is much more that goes into this and what kinds of fats we are specifically talking about… According to Fitness Magazine, Barbara Roberts (MD director of Women’s Cardiac Center) tells that fats are a must when it comes to losing weight. Roberts discusses the different kinds of fats like mentioned earlier discussing the good fats vs the bad fats. In more scientific terms, saturated vs unsaturated… The best kind of fats to consume are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated; those of which you can seek out from avocados, corn, sesame seeds, peanut butter, almonds, olive oil…etc. To learn more about the health benefits granted through consuming these types of fats, check this out. According to Roberts, only two to three tablespoons of olive oil is recommended per day.

After researching the different types of fats and what is most highly recommended when trying to lose weight, I found an interesting experiment in which two twin brothers set out to test the affect cutting out fat and sugar had on the body. One twin completely cut out all sugar while heavily relying on sources of fat for proper fufillment, while the other cut out all sources of fat (except 2 percent in his daily consumption, still limiting his consumption by a great amount though) while relying on sugar. In order to eliminate possible confounding variables, the two of them did the same amount and type of exercise, and ate the same times and amounts when it came time to eat. After the course of 8 weeks, the brother who had cut out sugar lost a significantly greater amount of weight when compared to the one who only cut out fat.Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 1.20.40 AM

In my opinion, this experiment was not as controlled as it was made out to be. The possible confounding variables are endless—such as the calorie content of the foods they were consuming otherwise, and the types of foods they were consuming (whether they were loaded with fibers or carbs… etc). If they wanted to get the most accurate results, they should have counted calories as calories are the biggest determinant of weight gain/loss, while at the same time cutting out sugar in one group and fat in the other, and then another group in which neither are consumed, but replaced calorie wise (hence: control group). Another thing that I should point out is that their findings were strictly relative; they never gave answers as to how MUCH weight was lost or how what kinds of foods they were relying on. That being said, correlation cannot prove causation, BUT, there is definitely something to be said about the fact that the brother who ate fats lost a significant amount of weight. Obviously, the sample size was small and it’s difficult to make judgements when that is the case, but it is definitely clear that while consuming fat you are more than capable of losing weight. Another possible confounding variable however is that the type (good or bad; unsaturated or saturated) was unmentioned…

If I were to conduct my own experiment to see the effects consumption of foods high in fat had on the body’s overall weight loss, I would have changed a few things, including my sample size and not just stick to two brothers… An ideal experiment in hopes of finding my answer would look like this: 4 groups, both of which eat the same diet outside of fats (carbs, proteins, vegetables, fruits) so that caloric intake is stable amongst all. They are all scheduled to eat the same time, being five small meals a day. Group 1 consumes the good fats. Group 2, does not consume any fats, but to make up for the calories has an extra source of protein that contains the same calorie content as the fat given to group 1. Group 3 consumes the bad fats (saturated). Group 4 does not consume any fats nor do they replace the calories with something else (control). Over the course of 8 weeks, measure the difference in weight between the two groups and see if the group fed good lost more weight (or any) compared to the others.

After having done my research, I think it is clear that fat is a must when trying to lose weight, that is ofcourse when coming from the good fats in recommended amounts. That isn’t to say that correlation equals causation because there are endless confounding variables that affect weight such as exercise, sleep, genes…etc and that you should go crazy on fat consumption, but atleast you are more aware of the good vs bad kinds to choose from. Next time you find yourself in panick and wanting to limit your fat consumption because you “MUST look good for Puerto Vallarta Spring Break 2016”, maybe you will take a step back, take a deep breath, and reach for the healthy, weight-shedding kind 🙂






Nothing But Healthy Foods, Yet Still Can’t Shed The Weight

Some of the healthiest eaters are sometimes some of the most overweight of all. After experimenting with numerous different diets myself, I have began to question the truth behind weight loss. Before I dive in to my findings, I must note that there is a tremendous difference between weight loss and HEALTHY weight loss.

In a recent experiment published in CNN News, Mark Haub, professor at Kansas State of Human Nutrition, eats a diet consisting of twinkies, donuts, and nutty bars only, over the course of 10 weeks. Haub lost a significant amount of weight, 27 lbs, as he cut his calories from 2600 to 1800 daily on this all twinky and donut diet. Wow… Now, how is this possible when you think about all of the sugar, additive’s, and artificial products that are attributing to this? Well, weight loss is strictly a mathematical equation, the less caloric intake, the more weight is shed. Although the weight flew off without a problem, his overall health and cholesterol levels were severely alarming.Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 11.28.40 PM

After taking a look at successful diets such as veganism, and the foods that are consumed when on these intense restrictions, depending on the person the diet most likely consists of not only vegetables and fruits, but also a lot of good fats like nuts, olive oil…etc. Whenever anyone thinks of nuts they assume two things: 1: Stay away! Fattening. And 2: High. In. Calories. Well… According to this study, there were three groups of which each were served high caloric foods, and roughly 40% more than their maintenance requirements. One group had the majority of its calories stemming from sources of protein (high protein). One of which had a normal amount of protein, and the last group was low protein. The group that had lower protein consumption had higher fat consumption to make up for the decline in nutrients, and vice versa. Carbohydrates were kept the same throughout all experiments to avoid possible confounding variables. The results concluded that over the course of ____ weeks, the group that consumed the higher percentage of fats and lower amount of protein gained a third as much weight as the group who was high protein and low fat. Keep in mind: both groups consumed the same amount of calories. The fact that calories were the same, but where they were coming from differed greatly, says a lot about what is needed when trying to lose weight.

            Although this was an experimental study, I think there are many possible confounding variables that were left unnoticed. The experiment did not even mention the types of foods in which the protein or sources of fat were coming from; this could have played a tremendous factor in regards to weight gain. A pile of peanut butter might digest differently than something topped with olive oil, due to its natural complexity and breakdown in the body. Another aspect of the experiment that I thought could have improved was the wide range of participants and their weights to begin. The study mentions that the participants had a BMI of 19-30 and some were overweight while some were considered normal. Well, what is normal? The study mentions that they mathematically calculated by weight how much overeating would be needed to have stable levels throughout all of the groups, BUT those who were overweight to begin with could have thyroid problems, or other genetic disorders in which they gain weight more easily. Aside from that, this experiment was well conducted and did a great job in showing how calorie counting is not the only answer to losing weight.

After having delved right in to both experiments, I must say I am still a little in shock and unsure of what the best answer is. I think that everybody’s bodies are different and while some things may work for some, they may not work for others. That being said, I was extremely shocked by the twinkies diet and how Haub managed to lose 27 pounds… I think that while it is great to lose weight in a healthy way from proper foods and nutrients, it is definitely also possible to do so by strictly cutting calories, even if it means not eating the most healthy options. My best advice is if you are looking to shed weight fast, maybe limit your calories but from a variety of healthy foods, don’t just rely on donuts!





You’re sitting in Science, overly tired from your all-nighter spent studying for your exam and become abnormally hungry. You aren’t sure as to why that is considering you had breakfast only one hour ago. You’ve heard it over and over again but probably haven’t thought much of it; is lack of sleep related to increased levels in appetite?Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 2.20.09 PM

In an experimental study published in the Wall Street Journal, there were two studies in which two groups examined over the course of five nights. One group was females and the other males, both in their mid 30’s. In the first study, both groups slept a total of four hours every night. In the second study, the participants slept a total of seven hours every night. Before both studies took place, blood tests were taken to look at specific hormones related to hunger. For both studies the food intake was controlled on the first four days. The study does not point out what their diets specifically consisted of, so personally I think the possible confounding variables are numerous, such as the change in diet in which they are used to, the amount of food being eaten, what types of foods (whether they be loaded with fiber making them fuller for longer vs less fulfilling meals)…etc. If I were to conduct this study I would have changed their diets a month before to what they would be fed in the experiment, allowing their body’s to adjust to the new diet, and their responses in hunger. Anyways, back to the set up of the experiment, the last two days they let the participants eat whatever they wanted. The two studies were spread out over the course of three weeks, making sure that the previous study in which sleep was lessened did not affect the results of the other study. The results showed that those who had less sleep consumed more calories (300+) than those who had more sleep. In my opinion, the study was very well conducted and proved an accurate representation of the affect loss of sleep has on the human body’s digestive system and response. The study was able to prove causation because of the controlled environment, limiting intake as well as sleep levels, and because of the absence of confounding variables. However, it is important to note that the forced sleep could have been miscalculated, as you cannot exactly force someone to sleep on command, ultimately affecting the outcome.

The overall outcome of the experiment showed levels of the hunger stimulating hormone: gherlin, were higher in men compared to the woman after participating in the 4-hour-sleep study. So, does that mean this hunger affect only impacts males? Not quite, considering levels of GLP-1, a hormone that curves hunger and appetite levels, was lower in females than in males after the shorter period of sleep. On the fifth day of the experiment, when food access was not limited, each participant consumed 300 more calories than what they had during the 7-hour sleep study. (Lukits). So, although the hormones that are affected may differ between males and females, overall the lower the amount of sleep one gets greatly affects their levels in hunger making them hungrier than usual.

Overall, I think this experiment was very well performed. However, although this experiment was controlled, avoiding possible confounding variables, I think it is definitely possible that the placebo effect may have influenced the participants’ appetite. While being tested, they knew why they were being tested and what they were supposed to feel (boosts in hunger). This could have affected their choices, knowing in the back of their mind that they should have felt hungrier. Another possible confounding variable is stress. Stress hormones, like cortisol, can greatly affect appetite and may be one reason why those who consumed more calories did. Stress may also have increased due to the lower levels in sleep, causing the participants to eat more. An ideal study that would have worked better in proving causation would be a similar setting, but allowing the participants to begin a month early on their new diets so that their body’s could adjust. Another factor they should include is the types of food and amount of which the participants were fed.

There are many possible reasons why those who ate more did, as appetite is not such a black and white feeling. Some also eat out of boredom, which can explain the rise in calories as well. Next time you find yourself starving after a two hour night sleep, try to think if you are actually hungry, stressed, or bored. Maybe the answer relies on the person and circumstance more than the scientific evidence that may prove otherwise!


I Thought Reusing is KEY? What Ever Happened To: “Reduce-Reuse-Recycle”

You’ve heard it over and over again but probably never really thought much of it. When caught refilling my plastic Aquafina water bottle at the water fountain, I was asked by my Environmental science teacher if I knew just how damaging this was on my health. Like any other high school student, I was not really in tune with my actions’ effect on the environment or own body for that matter. So, I decided to investigate this problem on my own and research the question of whether or not the reusing of disposable plastic bottles damaging to ones overall health.

One of the biggest dangers of reusing plastic bottles comes down to bacteria. In an article published in the Huffington post, The Canadian Journal of Public Health published a study in which bacteria’s affect on moist, used bottles was examined at a greater look. The experiment looked at 76 samples of water from reused plastic bottles, some of which were not washed. The study found that, “Nearly two-thirds of the samples had bacterial levels that exceeded that of drinking water guidelines, which may have been the result of ‘the effect of bacterial regrowth in bottles that have remained at room temperature for an extended period,’” (Chan 1). The article discusses how the cause of contamination is still unknown, but some factors like lack of hand washing could have accounted for this. In my opinion, this experiment lacked a controlled setting, meaning the condition of each of the bottles differed between each of the groups, ultimately having a great affect on the results. I think the experiment could have been better conducted if the bottles were placed in the same setting, over a period of time and not touched by others to see exactly if it were the bottles’ tight environment that was causing the contamination, or the hands of the children. This experiment had many confounding variables such as the physical setting, germs of the children, and types of plastics, making it hard to determine where the source of contamination was actually coming from. So, can rinsing help?

If I wash my bottles am I good to go? Well, unfortunately you aren’t. According to Scott Belcher, PhD from the University of Cincinatti, “Heating will certainly increase the rate at which chemicals can migrate from the plastic,” (Chan). In another article, published by Belcher himself, he describes the release of BPA, which acts as an endocrine disruptor. BPA has also been linked to breast and uterine cancer. BPA is produced through the heat absorption of these plastic bottles (like when washed or even just in the environment). However, in an experiment performed by Belcher’s team, polycarbonate water bottles were specifically tested. There were two groups, one of which was reused, and one of which were completely new, and unopened. When projected in a natural outdoor environment, over the course of seven days, the amount of BPA released as well as the rate at which it was released were the same within the two groups. However, once washed and exposed to extreme temperatures, the rate of BPA being released increased drastically, by four times as much! While the harm that BPA can cause is not fully identified, it is important to note that it is an endocrine disruptor, which, “alter[s] the function of the endocrine system by mimicking the role of the body’s natural hormones. Hormones are secreted through endocrine glands and serve different functions throughout the body.” (Belcher). In my opinion, this experiment was better conducted and more controlled, and was able to prove causation more clearly than the other one. There is definitely something to be said about the rate of increase in BPA when washed under warm water.

So, what now? Well, in my opinion, reusing plastic bottles every once in a while isn’t a big deal as long as you rinse them out with cold water. It is important to note that correlation does not prove causation, in that, just because you reuse a plastic water bottle, you will develop breast or uterine cancer. Chances may be higher due to BPA production, but still causation cannot be proven. So, I would not make a habit out of this and rather just use it as a last resort every once in a while!


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Greek Yogurt- Good or Bad?

Most people in today’s day in age- that is of course aside from the vegan preachers of the world- believe Greek yogurt to be one of the healthiest and most nutritious forms of protein due to its natural probiotic content as well as the assistance it provides in the digestion track. However, there is much more to greek yogurt than you’d think that makes it not nearly as healthy as it is made out to be…

First off, it totally depends on the brand of yogurt that you are consuming, as well as the flavor and amount. So I am going to focus specifically on Chobani’s No Flavor Greek Yogurt. This article discusses the positives of Chobani’s Greek yogurt, such as the avoidance of using artificial sweeteners, as well as the fact that it has almost double the amount of protein compared to any other brand. Another claim made by Chobani is that, “its ingredients are “all natural,” and while not organic, Chobani also says none of the dairy used comes from cows fed rBST—the controversial growth hormone common in conventional dairy” (Shireen 1). (When a label says rBST Free, it means that antibiotics/genetically modified organisms were not used in the process of it being made). Click here to read about how BPA has been linked to both prostate cancer as well as birth defects in an experiment done with mice. Another benefit of Chobani’s Greek yogurt is that it is only 100 calories per serving- boy they know just how to lure all dieters, calorie counters, and weight conscious customers! It is important to realize that correlation does not equal causation, meaning just because you eat this lower calorie option, does not necessarily mean that you will lose weight. However, it is definitely a lower calorie snack and quite satisfying.  So, if it is so low in calorie content, and it claims to use natural sweeteners, where is the downfall?

G. M. O. ‘s and the yogurt industry have quite a steamy relationship, to say the least . GMO’s are genetically modified organisms that are used for the preservation of foods such as vegetables, dairy products, fruits, meats, etc… Although Chobani’s brand claims that their products are GMO free, they fail to mention the fact that the, “yogurt could be made with milk from cows that were given GMOs in their feed — a disclaimer that isn’t currently listed on its packaging” (The Verge). In fact, grocery stores such as Whole Foods, has stopped selling Chobani’s products due to this hidden information presented to the public. GMO’s long term affects continue to be controversial. Aside from the use of GMO’s in their products, they are also guilty of high, yet hidden sugar content and mislabeling.

“I thought Greek Yogurt helped in digestion…?” You may ask. Well, within that statement lies a bit of exaggeration. A recent experiment done in NPR examined yogurt’s affect on both mice and the human body. Each were examined before being fed the yogurt, specifically their digestive tracks and whether or not the yogurt had an affect on them. After being given yogurt for a period of time, there proved to be no positive affect on their digestive systems, both in mice and the humans. In fact, the amount of microbes and bacteria found in yogurt that are responsible for assisting digestion, are a teeny tiny portion of that of which is found in the stomach. The affect is little to none if anything. That being said, this study did not give a specific time period of how long the mice and humans were fed yogurt for and the type of yogurt is not mentioned; all of which could have affected the outcome of the experiment. Therefore, the evidence could’ve been stronger and more direct.

An experiment that would better prove the affect Chobani has on the body, would be looking closer at digestion in relation to consumption. One group would be fed yogurt 3 times a day, one group only twice a day, and one group only once a day, and lastly a group who does not consume any at all (control). It is important that the two groups maintain the same diet outside of the yogurt to make sure it is not other foods that are responsible for the mutation, like organic fruits and vegetables. Then, over the course of a week, we take a look at the digestive tracks of those who consumed more vs those who did not consume at all. This way, the experiment would be more controlled with a much lesser chance of confounding variables impacting the results.

Another critique of Chobani’s yogurt is that it is not a whole food, it is processed a hundred times over, and although it claims to remove all sugars, it adds plenty of additives in doing so. When you see 0 g of sugar, shouldn’t there actually be 0 g of sugar? Well aScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 10.01.33 PMccording to this article published in the HuffingtonPost, Chobani products use “Evaporated cane juice” which is ultimately the same thing as sugar. However, when reading the nutrition labeling information, they fail to list sugar as one of its ingredients, displaying “0%” instead. Chobani knows just how to avoid dieters biggest concerns through the mislabeling and indirect answers presented to consumers (Spiegel 1). The mislabeling on Chobani products skims over the fact that other sugars are involved in the process of the making, and may be named otherwise.
OK… So now that I know Chobani products may contain genetically modified organisms, as well as artificial sugars, where do I go from here? Well, if you are unwilling to give up yogurt as a whole, maybe just limit consumption to once a day, or 4-5 times a week. Although it may contain GMO’s, any other brand type is guaranteed to also, as well as just about any food not labeled organic will, because that is just the society in which we live in. That being said, there are numerous other ways to get protein such as tofu, tempeh, beans, lentils, meats, etc…Thankfully, yogurt is not your only answer!




Tofu– Good or Bad?

Growing up, I lived off of steak, chicken, turkey, and practically anything that is meat. It wasn’t until high school that my entire diet changed, going from almost everything to a vegetarian lifestyle. Being vegetarian was not difficult because I was able to get my sources of protein from numerous other foods such as yogurt, milk, cheese…etc. However, it wasn’t until recently that I decided to make the switch to veganism, which cut out a tremendous amount of those options except tofu. I have built such a strong reliance on tofu as my main source of protein, but have began to wonder whether or not tofu is actually my best, healthiest option.

First off, when I say healthy, I mean loaded with nutrients, not processed, and not damaging to ones overall well being. Tofu is loaded with protein, in fact one serving offers 9 grams (Times)!… Without a doubt, protein is definitely a must in a healthy, well-balanced diet to ensure a fulfilling and energetic lifestyle. If you don’t believe me, click here and find out more about how much protein your body needs to be healthy! Though I run into problems when I examine where that protein is actually coming from… The main ingredient in tofu is soy, which comes from soybeans (a legume). In a recent interview on the Dr. Oz show, with Christina Patrick, an interested dietician and member of Dr. Oz’s Medical Advisory Board, the soy controversy is laid out. Soy acts as the main resource in which we retrieve our protein when consuming tofu. However, soy contains phytoestrogen, which has isoflavones, (estrogen of a plant) which brings us to the most controversial issue of all: Breast Cancer. Now, some may question Dr. Oz’s findings as he may not deem to be the most reputable source, but there are many studies and articles that closely align to the isoflavones found in soy and how it correlates to cancer development. Specifically, in this article published in the Scientific American, the findings are identical in that with increased consumption of these products containing isoflavones, (like tofu) it may lead to, “…reduce[d] fertility in women, trigger premature puberty and disrupt development of fetuses and children” (Frinka 1). The study then concludes by noting “large amounts”, and that consumption in moderation is okay. This makes me wonder how much “too much” is…

So what are in isoflavones that cause such a damage? In tofu, specifically in soy, there is a type of estrogen called genistein found in isoflavones. In a recent study published in the Scientific American, animals were given doses of genistein, seeing how it affected their bodies. Genistein- right off the bat- has proven to stop reproduction of organisms. Anyways, back to the experiment, female animals were given 25 grams which is the amount of soy that is in a typical high- soy diet. The effects produced delayed reproductive cycles, and even absence of reproduction. When testing males, there were no significant changes except breast growth. After analyzing these results, I have come to my own consensus on the study and tofu as a whole. 1- Because of the fact that tofu contains genistein, I suggest consuming it in moderation. 2- Just because tofu has genistein does not mean that correlation will prove causation; just because you consume tofu does not mean you will develop cancer or increase in breast growth, however risk of such may increase. 3- There could have been a difference in results if the study took place over a longer period of time. The female study was over the course of 4 days, there may still be long term effects that were not proven in this experiment.

Going back to the interview, Christina describes another experiment, in which every women examined had drank 1 cup of soy milk everyday, or 1 serving of tofu, and their risks of developing breast cancer fell by 30%. However, the experiment lacks a control group! The control group of having one group not drink or eat any soy products is a must in order to be able to compare the results and draw conclusions! This is a soft-endpoint that needs further examination, because risk of development is a very hard thing to measure, due to things like chance.

So, now that you know the uncertainty, but positives working in tofu’s favor, now what? Well, it is really important to point out that correlation does not equal causation, meaning just because you eat tofu you will / will not develop cancer, or just because you do not consume tofu, your guaranteed a breast-cancer free life. There are many third variables that could interfere, such as the amount of tofu consumed, the way in which it is cooked (steamed, fried, boiled, etc…), and more variables that could affect the later possibility of developing cancer. The evidence is not conclusive, there could be long term affects that we are unaware of. Also, the claim made about the Asian population is solely observational, so it is impossible to prove if whether or not there lies full certainty in that statement. That being said, I think tofu is a great source of protein and like any other food, when consumed in moderation, it serves as a healthy option and great source of protein.



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Smelly but Quite Healthy…

It is so good for you, but leaves you smelling like a dead animal left on the side of the road. Yup, you guessed it, WE’RE TALKING ABOUT GARLIC! These are my exact thoughts when I come across someone who had a garlic heavy meal from the night before… It’s honestly such a shame because garlic is my go-to additive. Whether it be on my salads, pastas, or broccoli dishes, there is always room for some garlic when it comes time to dine in my household! Tastes aside, according to this article from medical news, garlic is known to be used for, “…a wide range of conditions and illnesses. Hippocrates promoted the use of garlic for treating respiratory problems, parasites, poor digestion and fatigue” (unknown 1). If garlic is so healthy, why does it leave such a distasteful odor after being consumed? And what exactly is it about garlic that makes it so darn healthy?

Garlic is said to be one of the most healthiest and nutritious additives whether it be in wholesome chunks or topped onto pizza in powdered form, the benefits are substantial! What about garlic calls for such a nutrition-densed food? Well, for starters, garlic contains a compound called Allicin. According to this excerpt from Livestrong, “Allicin has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties… Allicin is beneficial to a number of health conditions, but never try to self-treat any condition with garlic” (Moore 1). Allicin is a very strong component in garlic that makes it such a heroe in the health world. However, later in the article, it discusses allicin and “aged garlic”. The more aged the garlic becomes, the stronger the effect it has on humans health. The more fermented the garlic becomes, the less powerful it is. Now, all of that aside, it is extremely important to note that correlation does not prove causation. Just because you eat a ton of garlic, does not promise you a long and health-fulfilled life (if only it did, I would be superwoman). There are many confounding variables that account for this; such as diet aside from garlic consumption, exercise, genes, and form of which the garlic is consumed. According to an article written in the Huffington Post, another benefit that comes with garlic is the antioxidant overload—garlic is packed with antioxidants that in some studies have proven to fight acne! Later the article discusses heart benefits as well as assistance in the human respiratory system, “The research on each condition and how garlic can help is varied, but research into what it can do for atherosclerosis and blood pressure is promising. These benefits may come from the production of hydrogen sulfide gas, which is produced when red blood cells take the sulphuric compounds from garlic. The gas can help expand our blood vessels, which can help keep your blood pressure steady” (Coles 1). Pretty unbelievable that such a simple additive that’s actually super tasty is so beneficial to our body’s system. So… What do you do from here? Well I wouldn’t solely rely on garlic to be your end all answer to a healthy life, but sprinkling chunks of aged garlic on your food definitely won’t hurt (That is ofcourse, if you don’t mind smelling like road kill)! Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 12.48.50 AM

So why does it leave such a distasteful odor behind? All because of ALLICIN. Well, according to an article specifically written about allicin in garlic from Livestrong, “Alliin is a chemical compound derived from the amino acid cysteine. It is odorless, although it contains sulfur. When garlic is cut or crushed, alliin comes in contact with the enzyme allinase, which converts alliin to allicin. Allicin is a main reason for the pungent odor of garlic and appears responsible for many of its health benefits” (Moore 1). SO, as soon as the aliin becomes allicin, is when we run into a disaster! Sulfur is what you smell when passing a pond filled with mill-dew, which makes perfect sense in finding a correlation with the containment of sulfur and bad odor! According to this article from Mental Floss, “The chemicals responsible for the stink aren’t present in whole garlic cloves, but are only formed when the clove is damaged. Chopping or crushing garlic releases an enzyme called allinase, which converts odorless alliin molecules into pungent, sulfurous allicin” (soniak 1). The data found in both articles prove allicin as being the leading cause of such a bashful odor derived from garlic. So, what do I do from here if I am an absolute garlic-holic?! Well, keep doing you. Because luckily for you, although it may be harder to get rid of, you can brush your teeth! You can also eat other foods such as, “kiwi fruit, spinach, lettuce, parsley, basil, mushrooms, milk and rice—can help reduce garlic breath by degrading, trapping and/or deodorizing the sulfur compounds” (Soniak 2). Exercise also helps rid the smell out of your body at a faster rate! So get moving and keep dining on your deliciously, healthy garlic!

So, reading about how much garlic can stink, but how healthy it is in aged form, I have come to my own conclusion… Garlic will still be a food that I cling toward because I know the health benefits are numerous! However, I will not solely rely on garlic to fill me of all of my dietary needs, and I will continue to live a healthy balanced lifestyle in regards to diet, exercise, and sleep! 🙂






Black and Blue or White and Gold???

We all know the phenomenon of the so called black and blue or white and gold dress. In fact this dress probably reached every region of the US within minutes of its release into the social media world via twitter… At first glance, while procrastinating doing my calc homework, I saw the dress to be white and gold. However, later I checked back, and saw black and blue… So, what color is the dress? And, well, more importantly, what is color and how is it perceived in the eye (and then we can get into the nitty gritty of this phenomenon!!!).

When looking at the structure of the eye, we first have the cornea, or a clear membrane that surrounds the surface of the eye. According to John Wede’s lecture 7 on the Visual System, when our eye absorbs an image, it must first come from a source, whether it be direct or indirect, it is launched from the sun, surrounding objects, etc… it is key that the light coming in is focused, and this exactly what the cornea’s job is. In order to be focused, the light is “bent” through a process called refraction. After it passes through the cornea, the light then enters the pupil, which is located inside of the iris. The iris also serves a purpose in focusing the light coming into the eye as it changes the size of the pupil. This occurs when we are exposed to different levels of light, the higher the intensity or amplitude of the light, the brighter it will be, which will make our pupils much smaller, and vice versa. This process is called Visual Accomodation. The final step is the retina, which creates action potentials and allows us to see what is actually being projected! The retina acts as a “receptor to the brain”, which makes it the most important part of the eye allowing us to see (Wede). The retina also contains rods and cones.  According to this article, “Rods are more sensitive to light, but see shapes and not color. Cones are sensitive to color, but less sensitive to light — i.e. in darker conditions, you’re seeing more with rods than cones” (Mills). Basically, people are born with different amounts of rods and cones, which allows us to perceive colors in a different way. Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 10.39.35 PM

So, what about the eye and structure of the eye relates to this dress phenomenon? Well, it’s key to note that “color does not exist in reality, it comes from how our brain interprets it” (Wede)… In fact according to this article written in USA Today, “Individual wavelengths don’t have color, it’s how our brains interpret the wavelengths that create color” (Grisham). Color is such a loosely defined thing, and it lies within the brain to interpret what we see and how we see it. Another point Wede makes in his lecture is that it depends on what an object is surrounded by and the context is lies within. According to this article, third variables play a great roll in why some interpret the dress to be blue over gold, such as lighting, amplitude or intensity of the light, and more, “In the case of this dress, it is photographed so close up that we don’t actually know its surrounding environment, so our brain starts to make interpretations about the light falling on it. If people envisage that it’s located in, say, a room lit by blueish natural daylight, perhaps near a window, they may see it as white and yellow because our brain tries to remove the blue as a possible shadow. Alternatively, some may picture it under artificial lights, like those found in shops, and so they see it as blue, which is indeed the true color of the dress. Still, it’s not entirely clear what it is about the colors of the dress and the lighting that cause it to hit a sweet spot that divides the community so drastically” (Luntz). Luntz makes a very accurate point and definitely does an effective job in pointing out the possible third variables at play. According to another article written in ABCNews, previous experience also plays a tremendous roll in determining how we perceive light, “Colors can appear different depending on what they’re near and the memory and past experiences of the beholder” (Lupkin). Clearly, third variables such as experience, surroundings, and contexts play a huge roll in how we see things.

So, now that I know that the dress is actually blue and black, but at first saw it as white and gold, does that mean I am colorblind? Nope. You are definitely fine (that is ofcourse if not diagnosed otherwise). It is important to note that third variables play a tremendous roll in how our mind reads things and how we view the world around us, as well as the amount of cones and rods in our retina. If there is any other big thing to take away from this post; it’s that color is not real, rather it lies within our brains to interpret and distinguish one from the other.



Go Vegan or Go Home

Entering my freshman year of high school, my mom sat me down and discussed how important it was to maintain a healthier diet and overall healthier lifestyle. With my brother who had just been diagnosed with type one diabetes at the time, my mom felt that having a discussion on diet and exercise was a must. So what exactly did that entail? Well for starters, meat and dairy went from being my go-to, to my “cheat day” treat every once in a while. This ultimately led me into becoming a vegan, but constantly I found myself wondering why exactly veganism was all that healthy in the first place. So, what is it about veganism that makes it one of the most popular, healthiest lifestyles in today’s day in age?

The definition of vegan: a person who does not eat any food that comes from animals and who often also does not use animal products (such as leather). Now, you could only imagine how difficult this must’ve been at the age of 15 to completely shift over from junk, to, well, lets just say clean-eating. Now, take what I just said with as a grain of salt, because just because something may be vegan, does not mean it is the best, most nutritious vegan option out there…

First, let’ start with the biggest component cut out of a vegan diet: meat. So, what about the meat industry is so unhealthy and what exactly does it do to our bodies? Well, for starters, in Kris Carr’s latest book Crazy Sexy Diet, she tells why she specifically made the switch to veganism and why the meat industry is to blame for all types of cancers in today’s world. Carr begins by explaining the process in which animals (non organic) are raised. When animals are getting ready for slaughter, they are maintained in tightly, compacted spaces with little room to move around. On top of the fact that they have almost no wiggle room, their stress levels are extremely high as they know that their next destination is the slaughterhouse. That being said, technically, when we eat meat, we are eating a whole lot of stress hormones, as well as genetically modified organisms that are used when trying to preserve and keep them fresher for longer periods of time. Meat also stays in your body for 4-5 days after being consumed! By cutting out meat, vegans are filled with more energy for longer periods of time!Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 4.38.01 PM

In the meat, comes…. GMO’S! Why are genetically modified organisms so bad for our bodies? Or better yet, what even is a genetically modified organism? Genetically modified organisms are, “…living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, or GE. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.” By altering the genes and DNA of an organism, the overall structure of the cells within it are changed and this process is extremely unnatural and can be a huge threat to our health. Our bodies are not meant to digest other cells, especially those who are chemically altered and unnatural. Later, this article discusses the impact of GMO’s and how they, “…are a direct extension of chemical agriculture, and are developed and sold by the world’s biggest chemical companies.” One of the scariest and biggest threats is the unknown, since most of these impacts and affects haven’t / can’t be proven with experimental data and rather only observational, it’s very difficult to prove what is going to happen in the future. A lot of GMO studies have difficulty proving causation as the affects are not immediate, and they are more long term than anything. Atleast with a vegan diet, you diminish your meat options that are the the most reliant on GMO’s for preservation. It is also very important to note that there are many third variables that can interfere with a vegan diet because although meat is a major GMO feeder, vegetables and fruits are also genetically modified; so be aware and buy organic!

The second biggest component cut out of a vegan diet is Dairy. When it comes to dairy, our body digests and breaks it down in a much more complex manner. Ever since we were able to understand the human language, we grew up hearing the same words; “Drink your milk! You need calcium to grow and be strong like superman!” But within that statement, lies tremendous falsities. In fact According to the Physicians Committee, “Consumption of dairy products has also been linked to higher risk for various cancers, especially to cancers of the reproductive system. Most significantly, dairy product consumption has been linked to increased risk for prostate18-20 and breast cancers”. Later in the article it discusses the insulin growth of IGF-1, which is a key component in dairy. A recent experimental study, done by the physicians committee, took 20,000 males and gave them more than two dairy servings a day. On the other side of the experiment were males given “little or no dairy products”. The study found that those who consumed “had a 34% higher risk of developing prostate cancer”. Now it is important to note that the study was experimental which allows us to prove causation; However, it is also important to acknowledge confounding variables such as the type of dairy, or where exactly it came from. Another confounding variable would be how much the group who had “little or no dairy products” were actually given (if given any). Either way, 34% is a high percentage for such an avoidable area of concern. Another study touched on later in the article found “…that for every 10 grams of lactose consumed (the amount in one glass of milk), ovarian cancer risk increased by 13 percent.” There are so many studies proving the same causation between dairy and cancer. It just isn’t worth it when the data is so persistent.

So how do we know that vegetables, fruits, and grains are the end all answer? Well, vegetables are LOADED with fiber. Fiber aids the digestive track and helps us move food through our bodies. Particular vegetables such as kale are loaded with nutritious benefits that our bodies need to survive, and according to this TIMES article, “It packs in more nutrition than practically any other whole food. A cup and change comes with 14% of your daily calcium, 659% of daily vitamin A and more than 900% of your daily vitamin K!” Pretty unbelievable that just one cup of kale contains that many nutritional benefits. And for all of the beef lovers out there, I am sorry but, “Cooked kale offers more iron per ounce than beef”Fruits on the other hand, contain so many natural sugars that our bodies need to thrive and most importantly; FIBER! In this article by Authority Nutrition, along with vegetables, “Fruits are loaded with fiber, water and have significant chewing resistance.” So why is fiber so important? Well aside from aiding in digestion, fiber expands in your stomach and makes you feel full for longer periods of time. This not only lessens the amount of food you consume, but decreases your chances of developing food-related diseases such as obesity, cancer, and diabetes. However, it is important to realize the correlation does not prove causation, in that eating only fruit will make you healthier because a healthy, vegan lifestyle is about balance between these major food groups.

So, what about the protein? How are vegans supposed to get their recommended daily doses of protein? Well, for starters there is tofu, tempeh, beans, nuts, and a plenty more to choose from. Tempeh comes from soybeans and contains a nutty flavor. According to this article, tempeh, “Reduces cholesterol, increases bone density, reduces menopausal symptoms, provides faster muscle recovery, satisfies hunger, and has the same protein quality as meat”. Wow! All of those bonuses and completely guilt free AND nutritious.

Clearly, cutting out dairy and meat helps our bodies tremendously and there is a clear, legitimate science as to why that is so. Our bodies digest different foods in different ways. It is very important however, to note that becoming vegan does not promise you health, or a lean body. There are many foods that are so called vegan like breads, candies, pop-tarts, etc… that are not healthy when consumed in big amounts, but are considered vegan. That being said, next time you find yourself in the dairy isle or meat section of the grocery store, maybe you’ll reconsider; and next time you’re fruit / vegetable shopping, you’ll pay closer attention to the organic label.


Wait… That Actually Happened??

“How can you NOT remember the time you literally face planted in the first grade dance recital?” My friend always brings up the same story and I always have the same response, “I don’t know, but I guess it’s a good thing that I don’t??” I think all of us can agree that there are always instances where we can be forgetful and unaware of actions or stories from our past. So, why is that? How come I remember riding a horse in my backyard at my 5th birthday, yet have no recollection of wiping out in front of my entire elementary school?

It all begins with the three memory processes; encoding, storage, and retrieval. Encoding is the first step in getting information to either short or long term memory. In Penn State’s Psych 100 class, Professor John Wede defines encoding as the equivalent of “Getting information into our memory system through our senses, similar to the keyboard of a computer”. According to a published article from Memory Institute, encoding involves understanding our external lives and making connections to previous events or experience we’ve had through our senses and, “the meanings we attach, the context in which it was learned, personal relevance, repetition, and concentration.” More specifically, we can encode through visual, acoustic, or semantic experience; like seeing something that particularly catches our eye, or hearing something that grabs our attention the most. Semantic refers to association with meaning, and remembering something because of its relevance, as previously mentioned in the Memory Institute article as well. In order for things to first make it to short term, we need to GRAB it with a term otherwise known as selective attention.

Selective attention is how we get things into working (short term) memory. Selective attention is simply our ability to narrow in on detail, and focus on the most important event that is happening, that is ofcourse, atleast in our eyes. Through selective attention, information can be retained in our working, or short term, memory. Now short term memory can vary depending on person to person, but according to the Memory Institute, typically when we say short term, it means, “on average between 20 to 30 seconds and has a capacity of between 5 to 9 items. Note: if you continue to review the information in your short-term memory it will last as long as the review process continues. Short term memory is why you can dial a phone number and forget it moments later”. Have you every thought about the fact that after memorizing a cell phone number, the information practically dissipates into thin air a few seconds later? Pretty neat.

After encoding comes Storage; “The retention of information, or the disk of a computer.”(Wede). Storage is your mind’s ability to retain information you’re being thrown and later use it to your advantage. A recent article in the Human-Memory net explains the concept of storage best, in that, “Memory sScreen Shot 2015-10-13 at 4.16.30 PMtorage is therefore an ongoing process of reclassification resulting from continuous changes in our neural pathways, and parallel processing of information in our brains.” As learned in Wede’s lecture 10 on Storage and Retreival, our short term memory has a duration of roughly 12-30 seconds, but this can actually be altered through different mechanisms such as Maintanance Rehearsal (otherwise known as ROTE rehearsal). For instance, we can memorize a phone number for a quick instance and completely forget it within the next minute, but, if we keep going over that number however, then there is a better shot of it sticking in the long term.

Last but not least, comes Retreival. Retreival simply means recalling the information learned, and “getting it out, like a monitor screen on a computer” (Wede). As touched upon in Wede’s lecture, everyone has retrieval cues, simply the way in which we learn through our experiences and based on that, we recall information. It is important to note that, “there must be a cue that allows us into webs to retrieve the particular memory”. Specifically, emotions and moods spark these retrieval cues and “almost anything can serve as a retrieval cue” (Wede). An example of this would look at how moods plays an important role in determining what types of memories we recall. Wede uses the example of happiness, and how when we are happy or listening to upbeat music, we are more likely to recall happy memories and vice versa. It interesting to think about how moods can also play a factor in studying; Wede describes the benefits to studying throughout different days because if you are always upset while studying, but then happy when it comes time to take the test, your overall performance may drop by a slight amount. So next time, keep this in mind when you feel yourself beginning to procrastinate!

Clearly, there is a science behind memory and why we remember some things and not others. Although memory can seem to be such a random and unexplainable concept, there is actually more of a black and white answer than you’d think. Next time you find yourself at fault for not remembering what you did in a certain situation, relax, or better yet, blame your selective attention!


Why Him and Not Me?

Every. Single. Day. My brother gives himself four shots in his left arm to respond to his body’s pancreatic secretion of insulin. Why him? How did he become one of the 200,000 (of the younger population) who suffer from Type One diabetes? Ever since my brother was diagnosed, I have always wondered why diabetes develops in the first place and what more there was to it besides levels of secretion of insulin in the pancreas. When I first found out about his diagnosis, I was 10 at the time and never fully understood the science behind it all. This led to me to do research and find out more about his every day routine and what the legitmate science was behind diabetes and how he became one of the victims.

In an article published by The Juvenile Research Diabetes Foundation (JDRF), a very famous organization that works toward finding a cure in type one diabetes, there aren’t many known causes for type one. According to the JDRF website, “…scientists believe that both genetic factors and environmental triggers are involved. Its onset has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. There is nothing you can do to prevent T1D, and—at present—nothing you can do to get rid of it.” I definitely agree with this statement and believe this to be true as I grew up with the same diet my brother had: milk, lots of chicken, broccoli, and chips every now and then. Our diet was actually almost identical as my mom and dad had steak night every Sunday in our house, and we had the exact same whole-wheat sandwich with mustard, aScreen Shot 2015-10-13 at 1.40.50 PMnd turkey packed for lunch. However, after his diagnosis, my mom told me I had to drink less milk, if not cut it out of my diet entirely. I found this to be extremely odd considering the fact that I had grown up on milk and had yet to experience any of the negative side affects. That being said, diet can definitely not prove causation in the development of T1.

After doing more research on T1 Diabetes, I have found many mixed opinions and information on the correlation between milk consumption and diagnosis. In a recent article published in the Free From Harm health and nutrition site, researcher John Mcdougal tells that milk is the leading cause of diabetes (T1). In the article however, Mcdougal does not necessarily elaborate on why this is and HOW the two are related, he kind of just makes it known that he believes milk is bad for you and that humans should cut it out of their diet… To me, this source was not as reliable as others I have come across, as this does not prove direct causation due to the fact that it is purely observational data. Although I agree with the fact that milk may not be the best for humans (as I myself am a vegan), I think that it is important to recognize that this source did not do a good job in explaining why that is and how it definitively relates to the development of diabetes.

You always hear that “genes play a big role” in chronic illnesses, as they do (HYPERLINK!!!). In a recent article written in the EndorcrineWeb, researchers explain the science behind the genes that can play a role in determining this diagnosis. To sum it up, we all have antigens and antibodies in our cells. T cells, are the ones that MAKE antibodies; antibodies are the good guys, they help us fight disease! When a virus enters the body, it containts antigens, these are the cells that the antibodies “attack”. In our pancreas, we have beta cells… This is where the problem occurs. In a virus, some antigens may contain beta cells, and…” The T cells can actually turn against the beta cells. The T cell products (antibodies) can destroy the beta cells, and once all the beta cells in your body have been destroyed, you can’t produce enough insulin”. Although this takes time to develop and destroy the cells, it happens and can be one of the leading causes for fluctuation of insulin in the pancreas, ultimately leading to a dependency on shots for insulin. For more of the nitty gritty detail on this process you can check out the actual link here and read more! HYPERLINK.

Interestingly enough, as I read further into that same article, I found the reason as to why there is such a fuss about milk and its correlation to diabetes, “…some believe that the proteins in cow’s milk are similar to a protein that controls T cell production called glycodelin1. The baby’s body attacks the foreign protein—the cow’s milk protein—but then also attacks glycodelin, leading to an overproduction of T cells. And too many T cells in the body can lead to those T cells destroying the beta cells.” It is important to realize here, that correlation does not prove causation, as this is more so observational data. It is a very interesting concept to give thought to especially because the milk and dairy industry has such a bad rep in todays world.

SO, if none of these are legitmate and provable causes of Type One, what is it? Basically, it is when the “T cells turn against the Beta cells” when we run into problems. Why that is? Well it can be many outside factors, but none of the factors are black and white, meaning it is almost nearly impossible to determine what led to one’s diagnosis when compared to someone else’s. In the meantime, I think your best bet would be to try your best in maintaining a healthier lifestyle and although the correlation cannot prove causation between dairy and diabetes, there is so much evidence and data out there that correlates with these findings. It is definitely worth it to be safe than sorry and try to cut back on consumption.






“She Does It for the Attention!”

One of the biggest, yet controversial mental illnesses in today’s society is eating disorders. While some may argue those who suffer from eating disorders “do it for the attention” or that “eating disorders are not legitimate”, there is indeed a large psychological aspect that plays a role in eating when affected by an eating disorder. The most common types of eating disorders are bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge-eating.

The overarching stem of eating disorders comes from a concept many take for granted in today’s world; control. Before unhealthy eating habits spiral into an eating disorder, there lies reason. With most it boils down to control, and a feeling of lost control in some aspect of their life. Each underlying reason for each disorder differs. In a recent article published by the American Psychological Association, “anorexia tends to develop in those who are perfectionists, while bulimic patients are usually impulsive”. Eating disorders are also more prone to occur in those who struggle with depression, anxiety, and poor body image perception. That is just the basis of eating disorders and why they occur in the first place. There is a much bigger science and chemical reaction that takes place in the brain when looking at those affected.

In the brain, we have dopamine, or the “feel-good” neurotransmitter. The human brain is filled with millions of tiny particles; neurons, that are responsible for transmitting different messages to different areas of the body. In a recent study from the Scientific American, 14 people from each category: those who previously suffered from anorexia, those who suffered from bullemia, and those who did not struggle with eating disorders at all, were selected and examined at a closer look. The study found that those who had struggled with anorexia had less dopamine/ feel good chemicals in their brain, (specifically in the gustatory cortex) released when treated with sugary foods… “The researchers believe these abnormal responses to sugar predispose people to eating disorders, adding to a growing body of work suggesting that genetic and biological risk factors underlie most cases”. Although from this experiment we are able to prove causation, it is important to realize the reverse causation possible as wScreen Shot 2015-09-29 at 11.30.10 AMell. This data was definitely accurate and well conducted as it was experimental AND observational. Eating disorders are not always biological but after damaging the body through repeated abuse, we can change our bodies responses to sugary foods.

A recent article in a reliable post from Futures, Palm Beach post tells, “An individual who suffers from anorexia nervosa has developed very specific habits concerning their eating, exercise routines, and even the thoughts they have about their body and their relationship to the outside world. These thoughts and routines change the brain.” Reverse causation is clearly proven in this article, making social causes AND biological causes a spark in eating disorders.

Although some may think that eating disorders are not real, or are all about getting attention, it’s important to realize that this is 99% of the time not the case. In fact, in today’s society, it is one of the most common mental disorders especially with our increase in technology and reliance on social media for tips / fashion advice. That being said, be more mindful of your surroundings! Don’t just assume.

Although there is are a lot of resources for those who struggle with eating disorders, it still remains one of the most controversial and skeptic mental disorders. However, after seeing the science behind the brain as well as the social aspect of the disorder, it is clear that there is more to an eating disorder than just the food itself.


















Spicy the New Weight Watchers??

In this era of kale, arugula, fruits, and vegetables, there comes Siracha. Wait? Siracha? Yep, you bet. Ever since my Junior year of high school, I’ve been putting hot sauce on my food whether it be my omelet for breakfast, salad at lunch time, or veggie burger around dinner, everything is just a little better with hot sauce. Entering my junior year, I became extremely health conscious and read all of the nutrition facts in the book. One thing that I repeatedly came across was the correlation between consumption of spicy sauces/foods and improved weight loss. There is a science behind this observation and data that can prove this to be true.

Spicy foods speed up your metabolism by 8%, according to a FitDay article. Specifically, in hot peppers, there is capsaicin. Capsaicin is what makes the peppers hot or give us that spicy taste in our mouths while consuming it. A group of researchers at University of Wyoming conducted an experiment in which they used mice to measure the affects of capsaicin consumption. According to a CBS news article, all humans have a bundle of what we call Brown Fat… Brown fat, is different from the fat that our body holds onto, infact the more we build up brown fat, the more calories we burn in an hours time span, as it can “burn up to 300 calories in 24 hours” (Shallow 1). Capsaicin, specifically, increases the conversion of white fat to brown, making our bodies more susceptible to burn more calories (Shallow 2). I think it is clear that next time you are debating on ordering the salad without chili peppers, might as well try it! It is important to note however, that eating chili peppers, along with wings, fries, and milkshakes, will not get you your dream bikini body. This is the reason why we cannot say that correlation proves causation. There are plenty third variables that can interfere with you weight loss, so do not just rely on peppers for success! Although experimental data has been collected to show this causation, in a natural setting, where there is not control over third variables, this may not always be the case, in fact it most likely will not be if other changes aren’t made to ones overall diet. A balanced diet, combined with ritual exercise will help you reach your goals.

While Capsaicin can play a role in weight loss, others argue that spice in general curbs hunger, and keeps us full longer. This can be true as well. In a recent Mercola article, it is noted that, “Spicy foods increase satiety, helping you to feel full while eating less, and hot peppers may even help your body to burn more calories. Capsaicin has actually been used to selectively destroy nerve fibers that transmit information from your gut to your brain” (Mercola 1). In most simple terms, communication from your stomach to your brain is cut off when consuming the right amount of spicy foods. This is the defining mechanism for the reason why our bodies work like this. This ultimately will decrease the amount of food we take in, while lowering our caloric intake for the rest of the day.

In my opinion, spicy foods have had many physical affects on my body. After eating spicy foods, I can go much longer until my next meal. But it is important to realize that spices are not the only answer! If you don’t eat spicy foods or enjoy spicy sauces, relax! It is not a determinant of weight loss. All I am saying is that everything little counts, and that is just another ingredient for the overall success in weight loss.

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You’re at a party and you are in ultimate shock as you see your best friend being so forward, confident, and, lets face it, not herself. After a few moments, you realize why and walk away in disappointment… Is this the reason our generation relies heavily on alcohol when put in social situations? What are the legitimate affects of alcohol and how does it actually affect the human body on both a physical and social level? There is in fact a deeper science behind alcoholic affects on the human body, both physically and socially.

Alcohol over all slows down your body, specifically speaking- your nervous system. Alcohol effects the brain activity and brain waves that occur, making it harder “to think clearly and move with coordination.”(Unknown 1). A Brown University Health Promotion article  does a really great job in explaining the path of alcohol in the body… Basically the article sums up the pathway of alcohol in the following way: Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.55.01 PMwhen first consumed, alcohol is digested through the stomach and small intestine where it then leaves and enters the liver, through the blood stream. Only a small percentage is absorbed in the stomach while a good 80% is absorbed in the small intestine. The alcohol is then metabolized by the liver, whose job is to break it down with its enzymes (Unknown 1). The mechanism in this case would be the small intestine, as it is responsible for 80% of the alcohol and directing it down to digestion. Alcohol takes longer to digest, so the more you drink, the more alcohol builds up in your blood stream and this leads to other affects… (Bwell Health Promotion Mag). It is important to note that these sources are not anecdotal, which calls for very reliable, unbiased information.

Alcohol not only affects your body physically, but socially. Alcohol can affect you in both a positive and negative way when it comes to mood. As alcohol is a depressant, it enhances your feelings the more you drink. According to a Flask Mag article, “Alcohol has a number of neurological effects, including memory loss, drowsiness, slowed reflexes, and other things that aren’t quite as sexy as a confidence boost or lowered inhibitions. The lowered inhibitions are part of the effect, though, as is impaired judgment. The combined result is that people do things while drinking that they might not ordinarily do, including acts of bravery” (Unknown 1). There are many different theories that are made on how confidence is a misperception with alcohol. That being said, in a recent GoLocalProv article, health team researchers say that this is all a misconception, in fact the reason why we believe this or feel this confidence boost relates back to our expectations… Possibly even a placebo affect? (Health Team 1). In my opinion, this claim can be correct due to third variables, such as the amount of alcohol consumed, or the time frames it was consumed in. This is why it is important to note that correlation does not prove causation.

That aside, in our brains we have receptors that allow/block off other cells from entering. In an article published by, it is said that alcohol, “…affects certain receptors in your brain that modulate ‘inhibition’. You brain needs to get excited in order to do things – but it also needs a way to calm down to avoid freaking out in a state of hyperactivity. In general, GABA accomplishes this…Basically, alcohol acts on certain receptors in your brain that “calm” the brain, which results in a generalized reduction in anxiety. This, for many people, tends to result in an increase in confidence.” (Redit 2). It is very interesting to think that half of the social pressures are released from alcohol when the studies are so divided, in that some believe it can cause a placebo affect while others claim there is a science behind it. This data however is the opposite of imaginary, as it is an example of properly designed previous experiments that have allowed us to draw these conclusions. This has allowed us to make strong inferences and good field observations and although some may claim it is a placebo, there actually is a science behind it (third variables aside).

Science and Placebo’s aside, it is important to note that correlation does not prove causation, as many other factors or third variables can manipulate ones experience with alcohol. Remember, alcohol is also a depressant. Alcohol, along with many other variables, such as other drug prescriptions, overall mood before drinking, or other mental disorders can lead to a better confidence as well as mood or attitude change.





Is there a Science Behind Love?

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of the hub drooling over the guy you met last period in your seminar class? How about that long distance college relationship that is so worth staying in even though your more than a three hour plane ride away? So, what is it about love that keeps us hooked? Is love just a thought or is there a proven science behind our emotions while we dive into a new relationship? There actually is a proven science behind love that occurs in the brain while we enter or engage in a meaningful relationship.

In my senior year of high school, it happened. I fell in love for the first time. I did not think it was possible to feel such emotions for another person until I experienced it myself. Yeah, I watched the notebook every now and then, and even read books such as The Fault in Our Stars by author John Green to live vicariously through the main characters love stories, but not once did I even imagine myself on the other side. And this is exactly what made me curious in what love is and how it actually works, but on a more scientific level…

First lets talk nitty gritty: the brain. When we fall in love our brain is in a pool of transition and wave of chemical reactions. We all have a brain, right? In that brain, we have hormones also known as oxytocin. Oxytocin (the feel-good hormone), is released when we find that special match, or experience that love sensation and, “…when {oxytocin is} released in your brain during certain types of human contact, it has the effect of bonding you to the other person involved”(Brain HQ). This ultimately leads to an increase in dopamine which affects mood and behavior… To read more about what happens after these chemical exchanges occur, click HERE if you’re interested! That being said, that is the overall gist of why we fall in love and the actual science that occurs in the brain while we drool over our next guy

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 11.20.34 PMWhile chemicals in the brain play a huge role in determining our love paths, psychology also plays a big part in why we fall in love. According to a WebMD article, The Science Behind Romance, “Our choice of a mate is partly dictated by a “love map,” an unconscious list of traits we want in an ideal partner that we construct during our childhood. We get used to our father’s sense of humor or our mother’s brand of affection and use this to build our list. When we meet a potential partner, we consciously and unconsciously determine if that person is right for us. “We often do this in less than three minutes,” Fisher says” (Zamosky 1). It’s interesting to think that our minds naturally move toward our normalcy as a comfort factor. We as humans have a first instinct to go to cling to what we grew up with and what we are most familiar with. That being said, it is important to point out that correlation DOES NOT prove causation… i.e. I don’t ONLY like a boy because he smells like my dad’s cologne that I grew up smelling. I like him because of his personality, looks, and humor, as well as maybe that familiar scent that I know so well. This is an example of third variables that come into play, and that is the reason why you cannot say that correlation proves causation because that is not the case.

Hopefully now, the science behind love is clear and the psychology is proven. Next time you find yourself in a vulnerable position, maybe you’ll reflect on what you’ve just read. Maybe not. Anyways, it’s a very interesting concept to wrap your head around and give some thought!







You wake up at 3 am in a cold sweat panic because of your everlasting nightmare. Eventually you fall asleep again after you realize it was only just a dream, and wake up the next morning and continue on in your everyday life. But have you ever stopped and wondered if your dream carried further significance? Or whether your dream was trying to communicate that there was a current problem you’ve been putting off for quite some time now? Dreams hold tremendous messages within themselves, and actually carry a much greater meaning than we’d think.

Although most people may not realize, there is indeed a further meaning behind dreams and a lot of psychoanalysis that can be done after digging further in. According to a Times article written by Francine Russo, Roger Harnish, a Psychology professor at Roger Williams University states that,“…many of our dreams appear to be about our unfinished business, particularly our emotionally unfinished business. Knowing what our unfinished business is can allow us to better understand and conduct our lives” (Russo 1). I find this the most intriguing as I look back on lastnight’s dream when I had completed all of my assignments including all blog posts for this weeks agenda. Ha! I wish. But seriously, behind every dream, there lies reason. Human Psyche and Dream Analyst Carl Jung tells “…dreams were more than an expression of repressed wishes. {Jung} suggested that dreams revealed both the personal and collective unconscious and believed that dreams serve to compensate for parts of the psyche that are underdeveloped in waking life” (Dream Interpretation- What do Dreams Mean? 1). To put that in more simple terms, our mind is made of an unconscious… Our unconscious mind “…include{s} thought processes, memory, affect, and motivation” (Wikipedia 1). When we go to sleep, our unconscious mind takes over. Our unconscious is known as “the inner child” within our bodies, who knows us better than we may in fact think we do (Dream Interpretation- The basis of Dream Analysis…Turner 1).

Lets take a closer look. Do you ever find yourself falling in a dream and waking up to the shake of your body only to find out your still under your cozy blankets in bed? Well, there actually is MUCH further meaning and analysis that plays into this and it all comes down to control. According to World of Lucid Dreaming, specifically an article written by dream researcher Rebecca Turner, “Flying dreams usually represent your own personal sense of power over yourself or a situation.The unconscious is taking a concept, and showing it to you masked as a dream symbol. If you are soaring up high and enjoying the landscape below, it is likely that you are in control of your life” (Turner 1). Now on the flip side, those nightmares you have falling off the empire state building or falling from the third floor all the way onto the first in the middle of the hub, communicates the opposite. You may be in a situation in which you lack control or power.

There will always be those who disagree with dream analysis and believe it to be made up, but there actually is scientific reasoning behind the unconscious, sleeping mind. And although there is a high correlation between stress and more violent dreams, it is not ideal to say that this correlation is causing this because there may be many third variables that come into play, such as sleep setting, amount of sleep the night before…etc. However, According to a Huffington Post article, A research team in Japan led by the ATR Computational Neuroscience Lab found “…That brain activity during dreaming is similar to the brain activity associated with processing visual information in a waking state. In simple terms, these results indicate that we “watch” our dreams in a manner similar to the way we perceive things visually while we’re awake. The patterns of neural activity were so similar that researchers were able to look at the brain activity they observed during their volunteers’ dreaming sleep and predict the visual content of their dreams with 75-80 percent accuracy” (Breus 1). Brain activity while sleeping mirrors the awake mind and thoughts that we as humans have. A 75-80 percent accuracy is pretty intimidating considering the amount of nightmares and falling dreams I have had in the past week while adjusting to this crazy college lifestyle!

That being said, next time you find yourself waking up in panick, try to pinpoint what the problem that lies deep under may be… Or better yet, acknowledge that flying dream and appreciate that control you may have while you have it!
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Maybe you should Rethink that Coffee before your 8AM SoulCycle class

Coffee the New Coke?

Do you ever find yourself running on three cups of coffee before it even hits noon? Or better yet getting impulsive head aches when you forget to have it (let’s be real though, you probably couldn’t forget…) Is coffee a legitimate addiction? For those of us who survive on coffee whether it be warm or iced, there is in fact a scientific reason behind our severe reliance.

While some may argue that coffee drinking is “just a habit” or “part of a routine”, it triggers many affects that can make it highly addictive when consumed on a regular basis. According to Smithsonian Magazine, Caffeine has a very similar structure to another molecule in the human brain, known as adenosine. Within the brain are receptors whose job is to take in the adenosine. caffeine, with its similar structure, slides freely through these receptive holes and in doing so blocks off the adenosine that should be in its place. Now keep in mind, the adenosine that would usually be where the caffein molecules are, produce a sensation of tiredness or fatigue. Once the caffeine molecules are present, they stop this fatigue sensation by preventing the adenosine from reaching its home base. As the fatigue sensation is blocked, a sense of urgency is met and gives humans that awake feeling that they must receive in order to take their 8 am Soul Cycle class before there work day takes off (Stromberg 1). Eventually, over time our brains adjust and alter as the physical components within it begin to adapt to the caffeinated molecules it is being fed, “The most notable change is that brain cells grow more adenosine receptors, which is the brain’s attempt to maintain equilibrium in the face of a constant onslaught of caffeine, with its adenosine receptors so regularly plugged (studies indicate that the brain also responds by decreasing the number of receptors for norepinephrine, a stimulant)” (Stromberg 2). This demonstrates a direct correlation, in that the more coffee you consume, the more adenosine receptors are grown. These receptors become more and more powerful as your coffee consumption prolongs.

“Coffee is a diuretic, it must be good for you”, think again… Although some may think that coffee is a natural diuretic, and prevents chronic disease such as diabetes, recent studies have proven the opposite… In a recent article published in Daily Mail’s newspaper, researcher Kate Whighton tells, “Australian researchers suggested a chemical in coffee called chlorogenic acid may increase the risk of diabetes and even lead to the body storing excess fat.

The study, published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, showed that when mice were given high amounts of this compound, the equivalent of drinking five or six cups a day, their bodies struggled to control blood sugar and they developed insulin resistance. They were also less likely to lose weight” (Wighton 1). A quick chlorogenic consumption from coffee could be the reason why you aren’t losing weight from your flywheel, soulcycle, or barrys bootcamp class… Personally, I feel that this is such a small impact and can’t be the only reason why we are less likely to lose weight. There must be other third variables involved that the scientists maybe just did not pick up on.

Now, coming from a coffee lover like myself, I wouldn’t say to rule out coffee for the rest of your life. Because you know what, studies have proven that limited consumption, or better yet “anything in moderation” can’t hurt. Coffee remains one of the most controversial addictions out there and its health benefits and flaws are still to be determined. Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 11.47.45 PM






cover soul cycleHello, my name me is Colby Kranz and I am from Westport, CT. I am taking this course to gain a basic better understanding of the world around me, in a not so complicated manner. I am taking this course to also receive credit! I am not planning on being a science major because in high school I took AP Environmental and absolutely dreaded it. It made me realize how much I disliked science, and didn’t care much about the nitty gritty details behind it. Don’t get me wrong though, I love learning and I appreciate the world I live in tremendously. I can’t let one course ruin my opinion of science. That being said, I am eager and excited to learn more from this course and discover things I was not aware of before! I also worked at soul cycle this summer and gained a lot of experience in PR as I am in the school of communications.

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