Author Archives: Julie Ramioulle

How Healthy’s The Protein In Protein Bars?

Protein bars are truly on the rise.  They’re without a doubt found in any grocery store, gas station, café, you name it.  So, there’s that more of a chance that you’ll see or know of someone who’s had one.  I mean, you might even find yourself eating one!  Maybe it’s just me, but if I have one as a meal or without having worked out, I almost feel guilty?  Sometimes that first bite makes me wonder whether or not they’re nothing more than candy bars wrapped in protein skin?  Really, how healthy is the protein in protein bars?  This blog post allows me the opportunity to research the science behind it all.

Now, from my basic knowledge, these carb-,fat-,sugar, protein-loaded processed foods are all labeled with terms “organic” and “low-fat” to grab those “health-conscious” shoppers.  Frankly, many people, including myself, don’t even know what makes it healthy?  So, let’s take a look inside.

Unlike your the average granola/snack bars, protein bars are largely concentrations of protein.  Shocker right?  The countless choices to chose from leads one bar from another using a different kind of protein.  Since protein is such a dense ingredient, you’ll notice that the hardness of bars varies as well.  I’m guessing that “Used best by…” label isn’t there for nothing,  so the texture of these bars do change over storage time.  In 2010, a study over the span of 50 days shows “whey protein isolate” to have remained softer than the firm texture of “calcium caseinate”.  Their results confirm that the hardening of protein bars isn’t caused by differences proteins.  Rather the process driven by the separation of that specific protein from water.  Two years later, another texture analysis study found the hardness development controlled by differences in water moisture as well.

That same year, a similar replicated study tested “modified dairy proteins” to the control variable, whey protein.  Successfully, their use of statistical correlations from sensory evaluations and texture measurements determined ratios of both whey and dairy proteins achieves the ideal and healthy protein bar blend.



Now besides how healthy it is inside, I wanted to see how healthy those insides impact our body? According to “The (New) Science Behind Protein Intake” by Food Network, protein is used to build muscle, which burns fat.

I found Nutrition Journal‘s 2004 article providing a direct comparison of impact on the body during exercise between two of the most common protein bars out there, soy and whey.  Over nine-week period, treatment groups of 33g of either soy or whey protein and low workout intensity class of nine students were compared to a control group of nine students doing the same workout intensity class without any protein bar.

Both protein bars (soy and whey) workout group, showed an increase in the students’ “lean body mass”.  The whey-only protein bar workout group resulted in damaging post-workout effects.  Lastly, the control group didn’t show any beneficial nor harmful effects.  From this study, I can conclude that both, soy and whey protein bars, have healthy effects towards increasing lean body mass with exercise training.  Without the training I believe you wouldn’t be getting the same kind of body mass gain you’d be hoping for.  Basically, it’d be that same candy bar again.  Doesn’t sound to me like that’s making you so lean anymore?

For this being such a big food choice in today’s society, most of these studies’ evidence for this topic is whether or not you’re making it healthy for you.  What I mean by these protein bars, primarily sold to athletes, is that they’re becoming more and more popular across dieters, bodybuilders, runners, or simply as a convenient meal replacement.  They’re becoming so popular as a healthy alternative to full meals it’s nearly overdosing on sugar and lacking in nutritional value.  In my opinion based off my research, it’s dead food.  Although, many of us don’t have any idea what these protein bars entail.  Hence, the reason why I wanted to research this topic.  If you’re still not getting the basics, watch this a little video from The New York Times’ article:

Overall, the protein in protein bars is healthy, especially after a workout.  They’re even OK as an occasional snack.  Though, if you find yourself not consuming them moderately, I’d rethink your consideration of them still being healthy… Wouldn’t blame you if you mistaken it for a candy bar.

Are Cell Phones Hazardous To Hospitals?

Cell phones have become the staple of our modern society, with kids from as young as elementary school to senior citizens owning at least one.  Therefore, there’s very few cases that cell phone use isn’t “okay”, such as the movies, while driving, etc .  However, I remember when I was younger, during the time my grandfather was in the hospital, my parents were reminded the use of cell phones wasn’t permitted as we’d walk into his room to visit.  Little me being skeptical thought that doctors just didn’t want the extra noise of people talking.  Now I’ve noticed hospitals’ posted signs saying that cellphones are prohibited because it interferes with their equipment?  I guess that’d make sense… but how?  Is there any evidence?  Are cell phones an interference hazard to medical devices in hospitals?  

First, I want to fill in the gaps on what cell phone interference is defined as.  According to an article from BBC on May 14, 2013, it depends on three thing: “the intensity of the signal, frequency of the signal, and degree to which equipment is shielded”.  When we turn our phones on it automatically transmits signals, electromagnetic waves, aimed to make contact with a link in order to send or receive, texts, calls, emails, or other data.  In reality, any wire in a piece of medical could serve as the link between these electric currents and the disruption of the medical device.  On a positive note, our technologically advanced day and age enables the latest of medical devices’ internal wires to be shorter to avoid such hazards.  Small risks like this truly do have an overall empowering effect on public health.

Now if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, how’s this particular interference raised concern throughout so many years?  According to recent anecdotal reports of hospital staff about the electromagnetic interference to medical equipment caused by cell phones.  In particular, the United States Food and Drug Administration received more than 100 cases dealing with this suspicion.  In due time, Wall Street Journal June 15, 1994’s[1] front page article cited a series of the most “extreme (and sensational)” case stories.  Of which three years later, similar ancedotes from the United Kingdom[2] reported “43% of these interference incidents would have had a direct impact on patent care and were rated as serious”.

The above research I found demonstrates ancedotally if cell phones are an interference hazard to medical devices in hospital.  Which isn’t reliable to find a justifiable conclusion.  This is where I began to find studies that specifically concerned the risks of electromagnetic waves to medical devices in hospitals.  An article in Health Physics from January 2002, tested 33 medical devices using general communication signal emissions, of which only 4 were functionally disrupted.  While this wasn’t a comprehensive analysis where multiple environments and and devices performed, they concluded “most medical devices in the hospital to be immune to cell phone emissions“.   This provides means of reliable basis for future studies, such as in a Critical Care Medicine article from April 2004.  Here, in a controlled laboratory study setting, 14 medical devices’ operations and malfunctions were evaluated in close proximity (specifically, three feet) from cell phones instead.  As a similar replication of Health Physics‘s study, Critical Care Medicine‘s resulted in cell phones placed three feet or less to medical devices “can cause malfunction of these devices“.

While the studies I found show both rejecting the null hypothesis and accepting the alternative (cell phones do interfere with medical devices in hospitals) and accepting the null hypothesis and rejecting the alternative (cell phones don’t interfere with medical devices in hospitals).  However, I come to fail to reject the null hypothesis because the data isn’t sufficiently persuasive enough for us declare such a conclusion, yet.  There may be many other reasons as too why or how cell phones became to be undesirable in hospitals?  For example, as a hygiene issue?  A study on Southern India’s healthcare workers found that “95% of their phones were contaminated with bacteria”.  Multiple other studies found hospitals and patient’s homes in Barbados and Turkey showed “contamination rates of 40%”.  It’s important to realize that some of the bacteria could be immune to differing antibiotics.

Without a doubt, hospitals are one of the most stressful environments.  Cell phone use, for all we know, has the potential to fray the nerves and many lives at stake.  Though rare, cell phone interference still appears to be a real threat.  Therefore, in my opinion, until there’s been more reliable (control randomized) experiments and we’re no relying so heavily on information from anecdotal evidence, it’s safe to say that cell phones’ electromagnetic waves aren’t as big of a hazard towards medical devices in hospitals.  Whether it be for sake of health or etiquette, turn of your cell phone in hospitals regardless.  Better to be safe than sorry.

Works Cited:

[1]  Clutter on airwaves can block workings of medical electronicsWall Street Journal. June 15 1994.

[2]  Medical Devices Agency. Electromagnetic compatibility of medical devices with mobile communications. Medical Devices Agency DB9702; March 1997.

Can Bilingualism Help Our Aging Brain?

“I took French and Spanish in High School, but I don’t remember any of it,” is often a statement I get as soon as I share that I speak French fluently.  Growing up in a bilingual family, it is common to speak at least two other languages.  While the motivation to learn another language is largely based of the close proximities and cultural influences from other European countries and immigrants from all over the world.  By intuition and adaptation to society we find a satisfying way of becoming self-determined and well-balanced individuals.  Being bilingual has the same effect.  In fact it is one of the strongest influences on exercising and making the brain strong.  Though, I’ve always wondered how cognitively strong? And how the impacts of bilingualism aid than just cognitive ability? Recent evidence from an article in the Annals of Neurology helped me find the answer to a similar question of theirs, does bilingualism influence cognitive aging?

The scientists behind Annals of Neurology study formed off a variety of confounds that I found tackled what these studies couldn’t.  First, being both Neuropsychoelogia January 2007’s and Neurology November 2010‘s evidence towards bilingualism delaying the onset of dementia.  Their main limitation was that their putative causal variable (x variable) wasn’t manipulated.  Therefore, this gives reason to worry about third variables, such as ethnic/environmental background differences, immigration, education, etc.  At this same time of Neurology‘s, another study from Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders June 2010’s went ahead and replicated Neuropsycholegia‘s, differing in setting and larger sample size.  Another battle (argument) of the scientists had begun, surely no surprise.  They were able to counter argue bilingualism’s cognitive aging influence once at diagnosis or symptom onset of Alzheimers is of “no significant benefit”.  While, the mirroring results were of bilingualism delaying the “diagnosis of Alzheimer disease be almost 5 years.”  However, these were only in the immigrant group, still confounding.

Few years past and Neurology November 2013‘s study replicates their previous one, now more in depth into another confound; reverse causality.  By examining the number of languages spoken, education, occupation, and other potentially influential variables that would lead this to being reversibly causal. Overall, through reproduction of their previous tests that were now larger and more reliable, made their conclusion of delayed onset of dementia in bilinguals a trend of the same effect.  Plus, being the first to find that “bilingual advantage in those who are illiterate” shows that education isn’t a sufficient reason to whether or not being a bilingual is an advantage.  Another gateway to overcoming these confounds came from the follow-up cohort designed study, Lothian Birth Cohort 1936.  It’s important to realize that this finally gave the ability to examine bilingualism’s influences on cognitive aging between childhood (age 11) and old age (age 70).  The Cohort profile discusses their “rich data” (a.k.a. data that’s been improved) and follow-ups to concluding social and biological factors are strong determinants of cognitive aging.

While, Annals of Neurology really proves to be the master of peer review in many of these scientists’ arguments, they had their own faults.  As a questionnaire study of few bilingual participants before the age of 11, there’s reason to apply this realistically, no?  There are many people who aren’t bilinguals, or learn a second language, till later in life through school, work, moving, marriage, etc.  Note that many simply can never have “native-like perfection”.  I have to admit that study after study researched only raised more questions, like whether actively speaking, understanding, or writing as a bilingual has the most positive effect on cognitive aging?

The principle this research claims that there is an influence on cognitive aging due to bilingualism, “the ability to speak two languages”.  I see many of these findings to be useful and meaningful towards future studies bilingualism causal of cognitive decline prevention.

Changes With The Seasons Change Our Color Perception?

As we can all already tell, the shift of seasons is slowly, but surely, coming upon us.  From the warm (sometimes humid) summer daze to the rapidly approaching snow white (or gray) winter air, there’s no surprise I’ve already heard people complain about these few chilly rainy days.  While this shift of seasons seems to alter the way people feel about their surroundings, you could say it’s also causal to how our eyes adjust to the way we perceive the world.  While pondering this thought for quite some time, I’ve finally went on to investigate.  How do our visual systems adapt to changing environments and hues of particular seasons?  Can changes between the seasons change the human color perception?  First, I started with a study that experimented the eyes’ adaption to light and dark color intensity.

Our eyes naturally perceive and adapt to different lights from season to season.  According R. Hunt’s article in the Journal of the Optical Society of America, he investigated the saturations of color change with light and dark adaptions.  His results used “binocular matches” on eight different colors when the left eye was adapting to seven different intensity levels.  While the right eye was kept adapted to one constant level (as the control), it may not appear to be nearly as great if “ordinary color matches” were made.  Although, I believe it goes to show the natural changes in color perception occasioned by changes in adaption.   The experiment’s fairly large sample size results summarized into four well-known color phenomenas:  1. While light intensity lowers at dusk, then colors gradually desaturate 2. While in an illuminated area at night, then the color white looks a pale, yellow, whereas lamps look a very saturated yellow  3. While most saturated red, orange, and greens are seen in fairly low reflectance under bright illumination 4. While fluorescent lights are dimmed, physically color stays the same, the effect is an unpleasant bluish or cold.

Now we know the changes in saturation of colors due to changing the intensity of the adapting light impacts the way we perceive colors.  However, how does this associate with displays of color in our external environment changes? Recently, researchers from the United Kingdom’s University of York are the first to claim that “between seasons our vision adapts to changes in environment”.  Simply, we associate summer with larger amounts of lush, green foliage than we do for winter because visually we account for the fact that the seasons are changing.  They hypothesized that an increase in greens would occur in summer due to shorter, rich wavelengths reflected from foliage.  Particularly, the color known as “unique yellow” interested these scientists as it’s stable across worldwide populations.  The common agreement on this color, despite the fact that everyone’s eyes are different, made this color the putative variable.  

Thinking it would depend on the biology of the eye, instead turns out it’s on the color of the natural world.  The University of York’s scientists came to accept their null hypothesis, that changes between the seasons affects the human color perception.  This means it influences the human color perception, it doesn’t change it.

So is their conclusion reasonable?  While this experiment doesn’t prove to as reliable, just yet, because the lack of a controlled double blind placebo experiment.  it’s quite normal in these early stages of science research.  In fact, it’s guaranteed that a plethora of scientists jumped at this very opportunity to fault-finding, criticize, and peer review.  Such as this article published in the IEEE Xplore Digital Library, peer reviewing similar instances of color perception by analyzing specifically the composition of daylight in any given outdoor scene.  Plus, a variety of mechanisms were demonstrated, which if combined with the University or York’s experiment could be one step closer to reassuring science’s fundamental bind.  If you don’t remember (which you all should) is as Andrew explained, “easy to disprove a hypothesis, really hard to prove one; data supporting hypothesis can also be consistent with another hypothesis,” one that maybe scientists haven’t thought of yet.

The overall findings of these studies all point towards, PhD student and lead author of University of York’s research, Lauren Welbourne statement, “This is the first time natural changes in the environment have been shown to affect our perception of color“.  Hence again, the claim as an “affect” or influence, not a change of color perception.  From this and the studies’ accuracy show that our vision of color does compensate for those grey, dull winters to the summer greenery everywhere.  The more we learn about how vision and color are specifically processed, the better we can understand how we perceive the ever-changing world.  Possibly even supporting leads to ways of diagnosing and treating visual disorders?  Guess we’ll have to wait and see.


Do Hand Gestures Help Us Think?

I’ve noticed that people use gestures when they talk, even more frequently than they’re aware.  Anywhere from day to day conversations, to candidates’ speeches,  to a teacher giving a lecture, to working out a math problem, etc. these gestures all express information.  Even add information that accompanying words lack.  So this natural representation of thought when communicating always leads me to wonder why we use our hand gestures really do help us think?  First, I looked into studies, such as Raedy Ping and Susan Goldin-Meadow‘s, that claimed hand gestures aided communicative situations.

Communicative situation #1:  One of the most frequent circumstance in which hand gestures are used is between parents and children.  Such as recent research on “nonverbal pointing behaviors” playing a role in children from three- to five-years-old stages of word learning.  Between two observational experiments they demonstrated that children better understood videotapes of a mother making nonverbal pointing behaviors (gestures).  Another mechanism with the children participating rather than just observing proved the “findings to naturalistic, face-to-face interactions” of gestures.  In the end, these results are pretty broad, so further analysis beyond just a verbal message may be needed.

Communicative situation #2:  Another common instance in which hand gestures are used is between students and teachers.  Students on a daily basis learn from information conveyed in gestures.  For example, math.  160 third and forth graders determined so by being taught a problem-solving strategy with no gestures, gestures explaining the strategy, or non-relating gestures to the strategy.  Basically, the data showed that the strategies using gestures had an “active hand in learning”.  Communicative situation #3:  Lastly, in 1996, Kirsh’s study guided multiple others to show that a “hands condition” confirmed to be more efficient and accurate of adding the value of coins scattered across a surface opposed to a “look only” condition.  Until Kirsch’s repeated experiment in 2007, the benefits and costs of direct gestures, such as pointing, increased both accuracy and speed with a micro genetic analysis of their problem solving strategies.

In fact, another one of Kirsh’s studies found significant data and strategies demonstrating that hand gestures do aid us think.  In a section of Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, he defines a complementary strategy as simply the use of our hands to “reduce cognitive load”.  So this could be your typical pen or pencil, hands or fingers, or any other measuring device.  Which we all tend to use to write things down, arranging in a certain position, as a pointing tool.  It’s simply a way we use our gestures to help “perception, memory, and attention”.  And in general, to think.

How can these particular studies’ positive results explain the say so link?  They all provide experimental evidence that gestures do help us to think, cognitively.  Potential confounding variables, like gender, education level, home environment, etc. and small sample size influenced across all results.  However, since the varying situations never varied in results, encourages comparison between many learning situations and environments.  As a matter of fact, even a cross-cultural study used gestures as a successful comparison tool between analogs in the U.S., Japan, and Hong Kong middle schools.

It’s safe to say that all those years of learning how to count with your fingers actually ended up helping us more than we thought.  Now it’s almost impossible to go a day without doing some sort of gesture to aid your mind’s busy thinking.  No matter the hand gesture, even if it’s still using your fingers to count… at least it helps you think!

What Does Doodling Do To You?

Recently in class we’ve discussed the possible learning consequences of multi-tasking from reliable studies conclusions’.  For instance, that “texting in class costs you a grade”.  Or even the use of computers in class to take notes (which is evidently a big no no in this class).  I took a look across the class, not too many unnecessary phones out, not one computer…  Everyone is just writing away.  Besides the person sitting next to me, doodling instead.  Either this person is bored out of their mind, or they’re still somehow attentively listening?  What does the multitasking effect of doodling have on our cognitive performance?

Many of us don’t assume doodling to be anything more than mindless drawing done to pass by time, lectures, meetings, phone calls, you name it.  However, those who do it come no where close to wondering if it impairs or aids their concentration.  Their too busy doodling, right?  Wrong.  According to Jackie Andrade’s first experimental test’s study, she accepted her null hypothesis that “doodling aids concentration”.  Despite the fact that the participants weren’t randomly chosen, they were randomly assigned to their respective control or doodling group where they were all asked to recall information from a telephone message.  Therefore, multiple confounding variables appeared to be effective.  The form of the doodling task itself was restricted to “shape-shading” which would’ve taken away some “degree of abstent-mindness” from actually doodling.  In some cases it would seem unclear to assume doodling effected their ability to notice “target names” or memorize and process directly the message as a whole.  Future mechanisms of doodling on concentration could  be “help keeping people awake or reducing the high levels of autonomic arousal often associated with boredom”.  Even further questioning its effectiveness on daydreaming as another confounding variable considered in this study.

Given that practically every K-12 student has doodled sometime during school, a further done study aimed to find its similar impact is Vick Faye’s.  He used “qualitative and quantitative methods” from “two hundred and eighty one students and eighteen teachers” who, like many others, viewed doodling as a distraction and discouragement.  Nonetheless, the results of “the academic and artistic learning of K-12 students” came to conclude “it can increase focus and memory retention”.  While it’s important to note that these are only K-12 students, it could very much apply to our cognitive habits as we grow older.  Those same positive outcomes in a classroom could correlate to those drawn out lectures, meetings, phone calls, etc.



The very well known, Sigmund Freud, believed that “the scribbles were a window into the subconscious”.  The on going thought that doodles could actually be “read” has little scientific evidence to back it up, yet still a mind-blowing idea.  What if all those doodles were actually telling your preoccupied mind’s story?  I guess it’s just something to think about, but it’d certainly make an interesting find for future studies.

Now, according to these studies (and many future to come), we can see what doodling does.  We shouldn’t be “too quick to label it as frivolous” when to many it’s second nature.  Whether it prevents the mind from wandering, ease memorization, or aid concentration, it’s all worthwhile.  Long story short, keep on doodling!


Does Your Music Taste Reflect The Way You Think?

Everyone at some point has heard somebody’s music blaring through their headphones or the walls’ off of speakers, in the form of, “What the heck are they listening to?!”  With each our own pristine taste in music, I’ve always wondered why people like the music that they listen to?  Then, you physically see the person and you have an epiphany one of two ways: 1. “Oh yeah that totally makes sense.” or 2. “Wow, I would’ve never thought…”.  Sadly, we do have the tendency to judge off looks, even with music.  But when has taste in music have anything to do with appearance?  Never.  Therefore, this seems to all change when you personally know someone and their thinking style.  Now this was something worth questioning, does your music taste reflect the way you think?

Music is probably one of the most important aspects of our everyday life.  Constantly, seconds are taken out of our day deciding on whether or not to click the skip, repeat, or download button.  However, those few decisions makeup our music taste’s masterpiece.  First to “research over the past decades”, The American Psychological Association, showed “that personality, age, and values are linked to musical preferences”.  There findings proved to be a. “consistent”, b. “small effect sizes”, and c. considered 3rd/confounding variables.  But they failed to reassure were multiple manipulations to see casual connections among all links.  No “additional psychological mechanisms”, no clear reason why.  Therefore, David Greenberg happened to be worthy enough to explain why.

This new two-part study on “over 4,000 participants” reliably addressed how musical tastes relate to cognition by examining the “empathy and systemizing theory”.  Study #1: Among four questionnaire samples, “preferential reactions to musical stimuli” showed volunteers’ empathy levels to reliably correlate with musical preferences.

The “largest of correlation coefficients” were between “mellow and intense music-preference dimensions”.  These “patterns” even proved to be present throughout a combination of music genres recovered.  The 3rd/confounding variable of “sex differences” was “revealed that these links are independent of sex”.  Which settled the previous concerns argued at the American Psychological Association.  All in all, this study projected empathy’s critical role such that systemizing was due for investigation.

Study #2:  As an extension, “scores on both empathy and systemizing measures, observations about brain type were made.”  Given the measures of the survey, “Brain type E, type B, and type S”, or different types of thinking styles, were examined for differences in “broad” music preferences.  Then, those differences were examined even closer for “psychological and sonic attributes featured in music”.  I see this explaining why the mellowness or intensity of music fluctuates depending on peoples’ state of mind at the moment.  For example, their prediction of “systemizers would prefer music from the intense dimensions” proved to explain people that I see use music to stay on top and in control of things or tasks they need to complete.  Whereas, I noticed the “empathizers would prefer music from the mellow dimension” being those who may seek music as an escape route from reality to destress or collect thoughts and emotions.

Furthermore, I extended Greenberg’s research by analyzing how it could lead to numerous other possibilities to consider.  Given that other researches have “found that group music-making can increase empathy” and “prosocial behavior“, it makes sense that relation to music connects emotions when exploring composition.  However, how would this theory still stay true with people who have grown up culturally elsewhere?  The researches’ downfall is the minor discussion about cultural context.  In addition, the likelihood of none of the types of thinking styles linking to your music taste could very well be the odds of chance.  At least these well-rounded, balanced, and maybe even indecisive people get to enjoy all the types of music!

The underlying message to take from all these investigations is the “links between musical behavior and systemizing” supports that music taste is a reflection of your thinking style.  The differences between musical preferences by “cognitive brain types” even provide the outline for many extended versions of this research for the future.

Water’s Part 3: Coconut Water vs. Sports Drink vs. Water?

In my past two entries, I explored the health of water and how it compares to sports drinks during exercise.  As I was writing part 2, it made me think of this girl from track club I used to practice with never had sports drinks before or after practice, whatsoever.  As I later learned she was a vegan, she’d substitute it for coconut water instead.  Is it simply because it’s considered a natural alternative to manufactured sports drinks?  Why didn’t she just stick to regular water?  Why does this murky water from a coconut compare to sports drink and water to rehydrate your body?

As I’ve once stated, athletes always need to know how to best fuel their bodies.  Especially since, in general  hydration is vital for keeping everything working and moving properly.  Plain water can’t ever be beat in that category.  On the other hand, when it comes to intense exercising, coconut water was given this circumstance and studied by four authors from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.   Following their comparison of coconut water, “sports drinks, and plain water on measures of hydration and physical performance in exercise-trained men noted little difference between any of them”.  So in fact they’re all capable of promoting the same rehydration.  Which means similar benefits, but what are the odds? With a test only on men, specific brands of fluids chosen, I’m glad to at least remark that it was a cross-over study done in a random single-blinded manner.  But is that enough for their claim?

That being said, my concern to any of these fluids are people’s tolerance if consumed in such high volumes.  As I see athletes chug down their gatorade or ice cold water after a vigorous race or match, would that feeling compare with coconut water? This isn’t made clear.  Even it was, “coconut water is supposed to have less sodium and significantly more potassium”. So that’s a good thing, right?

Just when I thought that question was the end of it, I stumbled across an additional cross-over study by the Journal of Physiological Anthropology and Applied Human Science assessing the same three fluids on eight healthy male volunteers hydration.  Now I know right at the glance of “volunteers” this will be an unreliable study, but their results were still interesting.  In the end, “the coconut water caused less nausea, fullness, no stomach upset, and easier to consume in large amounts”.  So sure, this may give a little insight that “guzzling it down won’t mean it’s not functioning properly”.  You’ll be full of “natural-electrolytes”, unlike “manufactured electrolytes”.

The verdict is, again, these fluids compare to not be any better than the other.  Each with their own benefits and anyone’s common sense in moderation.  I will agree that there’s no such thing as a “miracle product”.  Even multiple studies could claim the same.  Although, any of these would surely help your body rehydrate during long workouts.  As the hype about coconut water grows each day, it could very well be studied more accurately to ensure reliable studies similar to those measuring sports drinks and water.  It’s definitely not the “end-all-be-all to attaining hydration”, but another option is always nice.



Water’s Part 2: How Does It Compare To Sports Drinks During Exercise?

This is my second entry having to do with water, “viable to the mechanics of the human”.  If you happened to have missed my first entry about how healthy water really is, you can read it here.  Afterwards, one of the studies without suffice evidence to declare water the vital source of hydration/rehydration got me thinking, once again.  If this isn’t even true for water, then how can sports drink companies claim that they’re the more effective hydration fluid to improve exercising performance ?  In these health terms, how does water actually compare to sports drinks?

Clear evidence is available that drinking during exercise can improve performance, that’s a known first explanation.  But even when that’s taken into account, Mr. Shirreffs, at the School of Sport, Exercise, and Health Sciences at Loughborough University, still claimed that “sports drinks and water mean different things to different people”.  A sports drink can “contain a variety of nutrients and other substances”, unlike water.  However, I noticed that “consuming a sports drink will provide a large amount of water in addition to other components which would otherwise be obtained from food”.  Looking closer, it isn’t about which fluid does a better job of hydration, but rather which of their nutrients significantly improve performance.  Another research written in the Nutrition and Enhanced Sports Performance book, demonstrates under “intense sweating, electrolyte loss, and glycogen depletion, ingestion of solutions containing a proper combination of electrolytes and carbohydrate (sports drinks) may be advantageous compared to plain water”.  So as water doesn’t consistent of these nutrients, a product plus multiple vitamins, electrolytes, and carbohydrates could be the superior to water alone?  This too should be noted.

Since hydration is a tricky variable to measure, “recovery and subsequent performance studied could be the key to the ultimate comparison between water and sports drinks”.  The first study conducted by four authors from the Department of Healthy and Performance Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology obtained the pre- and post-execerise blood glucose was significantly higher and improved performance with the carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drink.  Versus Sports Medicine Australia’s three authors, who described the “relative rate ingested fluids absorbed by the body lacked the least bit of difference in performance comparing the water to sports drinks”.  In realizing both produced decently accurate and similar tests, their results varied drastically.

I considered the not entirely randomized controlled trials and confounding/3rd variables to have both effected the rate of ingested fluids absorbed by the body in each study differently.  However, since all of these can be manipulated by the ingestion of fluids, it’s difficult to distinguish the correlation in causation to these studies.  Rather a correlation between both fluids instead?  Because the ideal amount of fluid may depend on individual circumstances.  There could be no clear reason as to whether water compares to sports drinks at all.  If water doesn’t aid during exercise, and compelling evidence that sports drinks increase the amount of fuel available, it will tend to decorate the rate at which water can be made available?  How could that ever be a bonus?

Gathering together all of these explanations,  water and sports drinks do not compare in the slightest.  Better yet, they could go perfectly hand-in-hand.  The composition of a drink should “be influenced by the relative need to supply both fuel and water, which in turn depends on the intensity/duration of exercise, environment, or the individual athlete themselves”.  Hydrating fluids has a valuable role to play in the diet of many athletes, so a good “compromised formulation” to fit any needs in any different situation should always stay in retrospect.



The 8 x 8 Water “Rule”?

As a retired high school track and field athlete, it was physically impossible to go a day without drinking water.  Let alone all 64 ounces, eight 8-ounces (8 x 8) of it.  One coach after another would entail the same basic instruction in their pre-race speeches, “Remember drink half of your body weight in ounces.”  All this time it wasn’t because I was an athlete that I needed to drink this much water.  Rather a worldwide rule.

To this day, I still find myself drinking practically just as much water as I have been for the last 4 years, minus the competitive sport participation. It made me think.  Everyone’s actually supposed to drink this much?  Is the eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day recommendation somehow mean that water, in general, is good/healthy for you?

First and most commonly known fact is that more than half of the human adult body is water.  This goes to say that water will remain the most recommend beverage to consume, but it doesn’t have to mean it’s the only source of hydration.  BMJ’s authors, Aaron E. Carroll and Rachel C. Vreeman, of two paperbacks on medical myths wrote about the statement that people should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.  The myth busters went to seek the science contradicting correlation to causation of water to our human body.

They claimed that many people have been following this recommendation from the 1945 Food and Nutrition Board.  However, easily ignored what read, “Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.”  In fact, Frederick Stare, a nutritionist, referred to the same 8×8 recommendation of water by pin pointing it “in the form of coffee, tea, milk, soft drinks, beer”, fruits, vegetables, etc.  Besides, contrary of many stories told, drinking extra water doesn’t mean extra health benefits.  A number of failed studies concluded that “drinking more water doesn’t keep skin hydrated, healthy, or wrinkle free”.  But hey, if you still have that mentally engraved into your healthy lifestyle at least there’s one clear benefit of water: it’s calorie-free.

To make sure this wasn’t an outlier study merely made off two authors’ book, I searched through a bit more and found two studies.  In one of Heinz Valtin’s articles from his American Journal of Physiology, cited professional journals even state “by the time a person is thirsty that person is already dehydrated”.  Having regretfully experienced this time after time, wishing I would’ve drank more water as it made the scorching sun feel more painful than those countless laps around the track.

However, the data above consists of “normal aging, illness-associated of dehydration in elderly, and diagnostic/therapeutic interventions”.  It’s important to consider “the amount of water differs considering what people eat, where they live, how big they are, and what they’re doing”.  This graph furthers that point, as “the threshold for release of vasopressin (promote kidney’s retention of water and increase blood pressure) is lower than thirst and constant needs for water balance are met by changes in plasma vasopressin and changes in creatinine flow”.  Disappointedly, as “evolutionarily” developed as we are, we’re intaking fluid to “compensate for a chronic water deficit we don’t even have”.  Within a prospective study on daily fluid intake, a longitudinal analysis in kidney function and long-term mortality measured 3858 men and women aged 49 years and older residing in Australia through a food frequency questionnaire.  “In about 13 years, 1127 deaths, 580 of which cardiovascular deaths, occurred and repeated creatinine measurements from fluid intake to never have been correlated with the all-cause or cardiovascular mortality”.   Both studies’ results demonstrate again that there is no formal recommendation of water for more benefits.  Not only that, but the recommendation could be harmful, both in dangerous low sodium levels, exposure to pollutants, and simply making many feel guilty for not drinking enough.

Therefore, there are some randomized controlled trial studies to find benefits as well,  accepting a few specific cases.  For instance, in a 10-year study of 48,000 men, Michaud and his coworkers concluded “the incidence of urinary bladder cancer was significantly reduced by high fluid intake”.  The authors calculated within the range to conclude “the risk of bladder cancer decreased by 7% for every additional 240 ml of fluid”.  Similar correlations have been reported for “colorectal cancer“, many known “risk factors for tumors”, and preventing the recurrence of “some kinds of kidney stones“.

In evaluation, here’s another part to consider: possible effects driven by confounding variables would mean that not all of these studies were randomized trials.  Either those who drink water, opposed to those who don’t, or not even be due to water at all.  Keeping in mind the studies that found these effects, “the threshold was significantly below eight 8-ounces of water”.

About now is when the wondering begins again: If there’s any evidence at all, that more or less water is better, given that there doesn’t seem to be any downside to or not to hydrate?  Back in Arizona, every summer we’re swamped with news media reports warning that dehydration is dangerous and also worldwide.  Attaching these claims under scrutiny leads to the evidence that obsessing about reaching some water goal to be healthy every day is unproductive.  As long as the people in this country live longer than ever before, with arguably “more access to beverages than any other time in history”, it’s hard to say that all this water is customarily good for you.

Initial Blog Post

Hey everybody! My name is Julie Ramioulle and I am from Scottsdale, Arizona. Yeah I know, it’s a lot further than where you’re all coming from, but it’s made me just that much more excited and anxious to finally be here at Penn State. Although, the thought of all these changes in environment, community, and responsibilities left me clueless in what to expect from it all. For these reasons, many have asked me how I chose Penn State? But now I know the real question is how could I have not picked Penn State?
As a Computer Science major in the College of Engineering, I am required to fulfill a Natural Science GenEd because we’re the lucky (in my case) engineering major that doesn’t need to take a chemistry course. Fortunately enough, SC 200 came to be the only science course available that looked the least bit interesting because of all the critical thinking involved. I’m not planning to be a Science major because I realized the  designing, programming, and formula side comes easier to me.  Although, for a while I did hesitate about studying Forensic Science because I’ve always been interested in the forensic side of the law and government.  Ended up finding another way to still try to pursue that, without taking the science major route, by aiming to be a Computer Forensic Analyst.

Here’s a post from my Instagram ( follow me if you’d like) of what it’s like back in AZ, and me hugging my dog to death so she’d take a picture with me!