Category Archives: Science

Is your blood better tasting to mosquitos than others?

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Horror movies, books and fan-fics are always trying to claim that vampires gravitate towards a specific flavor of blood- that they can sense it even before one crimson drop hits their tongue.

Some of it’s milky, some sweet.

Even the fake blood used on set has a specific taste. In a Vanity Fair interviewTrue Blood’s Kristin Bauer admitted the prop is “really sweet, like sugar water.”

“I turned the bottle around once and read the ingredients,” she said. “It’s corn syrup, red dye, and gelatin. It’s amazing some of the things the special-effects people on True Blood can cook up.”

But the lore associated with vampire’s taste buds might not be too far off from the truth.

Mosquitos are attracted to a certain type of blood also.

Metabolism and body chemistry play a huge roll in the aroma and flavors of your blood.

Yahoo! Health explores some more interesting factors in what distinguishes your blood as a top shelf beverage or a stale leftover dish.

You’re their type

Mosquitoes are nearly twice as likely to land on people with type 0 blood than those with type A, according to a Japanese study. Most people secrete substances that allow mosquitoes to identify blood type before they bite.

Drunk on you

According to a study published in Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, beer also increases your likeliness of being biten. The researchers reported that, “Mosquito landing on volunteers significantly increased after beer ingestion compared with before ingestion.”

It must be the moon

The tiny bloodsuckers are 500 times more active when the moon is full, reports the American Mosquito Control Association. Overall, the highest risk times for mosquito bites are dusk and dawn, with the females of some species migrating up to 40 miles in pursuit of a meal. Male mosquitoes don’t bite.

Stinky feet

Scientist Bart Knols used his own body as a guinea pig to see which parts mosquitos bite most. Sitting in his underwear, he found that 75 percent of the bugs homed in on his feet. But after he washed them with deodorant soap, the mosquitos bit randomly. His team also reported that stinky cheeses, such as Limburger—which has the same odoriferous compound responsible for foot odor—also draws mosquitoes.

Of mosquitos and mothers

Expectant mothers get bitten about twice as often as women who aren’t pregnant, increasing their risk for bug-borne diseases, according to a study conducted in Gambia. The researchers hypothesized that since women in the later stages of pregnancy exhale 21 percent more volume, mosquitos were drawn in by the moisture and carbon dioxide in their breath. They also found that pregnant women’s abdomens are nearly 1 degree warmer, which may cause more volatile substances—released in sweat and attractive to mosquitos—to be present on their skin.

You can run, but you can’t hide

Both the carbon dioxide we exhale and substances in sweat, such as lactic acid, help mosquitoes home in on their prey. As a result, Dr. Koehler reports. “You’re more likely to be bitten if you’re running or exercising than when you’re at rest, since you’re breathing harder and sweating more.” In fact, physical activity ups risk for bites by as much as 50 percent, according to AMCA.

Dark and devious

Many insects, like bees, are attracted to bright colors resembling a flower. Not mosquitos. Dark-colored clothing can increase your risk of being bitten, compared to lighter-colored garments. In one study comparing the appeal of various hues to mosquitoes, the researchers reported  the following results:  black (most attractive); red (very attractive); grey and blue (neutral); khaki, green, light khaki, and yellow (less attractive).

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U.S. no longer world’s fattest developed country

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A new report for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization pinpoints Mexico as the world’s fattest developed nation.

32.8% of Mexican adults are considered obese. This counts people aged 20 and older whose body mass index is 30 and above. The United States sits at 31.8 percent of American adults are considered obese.

“Household surveys from Bangladesh, Egypt, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Mozambique and the Philippines [] find that dietary diversity is strongly associated with household consumption expenditure,” according to the report.

When income correlates with nutrition, it causes a greater chance for malnutrition.

The report focuses largely on malnutrition in the world.

“26% of all children under the age of five are stunted and 31% suffer from vitamin A deficiency, while an estimated  1.4 billion people are overweight, of whom 500 million are obese,” according to the report.

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Vegan perspective: Medication could contain animal by product

When Allison Parks first became a vegan it took her ten minutes to read one food label while shopping. 
 
“It used to be a hassle to read labels [] when I first became a vegan because I had no idea what I was looking for,” the Flagler College junior said. “But now that I know what to look out for it’s actually quite fun. Vegans find humor in the oddest things.”
 
It’s been over four years since Parks has made the switch from meat eater to eating animal free products. This means not eating any fish, honey, milk, or eggs in addition to meats.

But it’s not just food that Parks has to check the labels on. Many medications have animal products in them, namely gelatin. Gelatin is used as an excipient, or coating agent, in medicines and for making medication thicker. In other words, it’s what encapsulates the capsule or forms the pill into a solid as opposed to a powder. Gelatin comes from the bones and skins in animals.

“I don’t think there should be any animal products in medication. Especially in today’s culture there are cheaper, more ethical options for everything,” Parks said. “There is absolutely no need to use and exploit animals the way we do.”

Parks says she is aware that there are animal products in medicine and always checks every label. But in a new study published in the BMJ Postgraduate Medical Journal, less than a quarter of its 500 participants with dietary restrictions such as veganism specifically asked the doctor or pharmacist about the composition of a pill they were prescribed.

This is a stark contrast to the 43.2% of the study population that “would prefer not to take animal product-containing medication, even if no alternative were available.”

So is it the doctor’s responsibility to inform patients of the ingredients of a medication or the patient’s responsibility to check the label?

“I think the doctor should let the patient know because a lot of the time, like in my case, I would have never guessed that there would be animal products in medication. I only found out when someone told me, I wasn’t actively seeking the information. The doctor should always keep their patients informed about what exactly they’re putting in their bodies,” Parks said.

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Is juice really that good for you?

You might want to think again next time you offer juice to your child to go with dinner. Juice has always been thought  to be a healthy option and good for you. But is juice really that good for you? In today’s market, it can be confusing when deciding what kind of juice to buy; cocktail, concentrate, 100 percent. What are the differences?

Juice and Adults

Say you’re trying to lose weight fast. An all liquid diet of vegetable juice and fruit juice sounds like a tempting choice. It seems filling and you think you’re getting the same health benefits as you would be from whole veggies and fruits. But are you really?

The problem with juice is that is exits our stomachs quicker than solid fruits and veggies, according to self.com’s  dietician, Willow Jarosh. This means that you won’t feel as full for as long.

“Not only do whole fruits and veggies keep you fuller…they do it on fewer calories. For instance you could eat 1 cup of cubed papaya for 55 calories, but 1 cup of most fruit juices contains twice the calories (110),” Jarosh said.

You do still get the nutrients and minerals in juice as you get from the solid food, however, you don’t get any fiber.

Types of Juices

There are so many different types of juices to choose from at the store from flavors to labels that aren’t so clear such as pasteurized, from concentrate, 100 percent and cocktail. So what do all these cryptic messages mean?

100 percent

Juice labeled 100 percent juice is juice that is only obtained from the liquids of the fruit or veggie. Fruit or vegetable juice can only count toward your daily intake if it is 100 percent juice. There are no added sugars in 100 percent juice. But there are still natural sugars found from the whole fruit, which can be a lot. In fact, “fruit juice contains about the same amount of sugar as the same amount of soft drink,” according to Dave Hall, who runs hookedonjuice.com.

Many juice brands who claim to be 100 percent juice have a little secret. It’s called a flavor pack. Huffington Post reported on these flavor packs using Gizmodo’s explanation of the process of making juice:

Once the juice is squeezed and stored in gigantic vats, they start removing oxygen. Why? Because removing oxygen from the juice allows the liquid to keep for up to a year without spoiling. But! Removing that oxygen also removes the natural flavors of oranges. Yeah, it’s all backwards. So in order to have OJ actually taste like oranges, drink companies hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that make perfumes for Dior, to create these “flavor packs” to make juice taste like, well, juice again.

“The food industry follows its own logic because of the economies of scale. What works for you in your kitchen when making a glass or two of juice simply won’t work when trying to process thousands upon thousands of gallons of the stuff,” according to Food Renegade.

These flavor packs are made from orange by-product, but the catch is that they take certain chemicals from, say the orange peel, such as ethyl butyrate and overuse it, therefore, chemically altering the natural combination of chemicals found in oranges.

Concentrate

Juice from concentrate contains less water than 100 percent juice. This is because it receives a heat treatment that evaporates nearly all of the water from the naturally squeezed mixture. Once the water gets depleted from the liquid, only the flavorful contents remain behind. Companies do this to extend the life of juice which saves money. Juice concentrates can contain additives that work to maintain color, flavor and nutritional content within the juice. Consumer Reports experts say no notable nutritional differences exist between original and concentrate. Either of these two may be a blend of juices not apparent unless you read the label.

Drinks, cocktails

Juices with labels such as “fruit drink,” “cocktail” or “juice drink” may only contain 5 to 10 percent juice. They are also filled with water, sugar and artificial colors and flavorings, according to the WIC Nutrition Program. Basically, not really juice.

Pasteurized

According to the Center for Disease Control:

“pasteurized juice is heated to a high temperature for a short time before it is sold. By pasteurizing juice, pathogens (germs) which may be present in the liquid are killed. Most juice concentrate sold in grocery stores has been heat treated as part of the concentration process and this is equivalent to pasteurization. About 98% of all juices sold in the United States are pasteurized (1) . Pasteurized juice can be found as frozen concentrate, displayed at room temperature or in the refrigerated section of your supermarket. Pasteurized juice products may say “Pasteurized” on their labels. Besides pasteurization, some juices are treated with other processes.”

Juice and kids

Because juice, even if it is 100 percent natural, is high in sugar, it must be carefully rationed when given to children. Juice can cause an array of dental problems, especially if drank out of a sippy cup or bottle. Juice consumption can also be associated with diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal distention. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers some helpful guidelines for parents in its report, The Use and Misuse of Juice in Pediatrics.

  • Juice should not be introduced into the diet of infants before 6 months of age.

  • Infants should not be given juice from bottles or easily transportable covered cups that allow them to consume juice easily throughout the day. Infants should not be given juice at bedtime.

  • Intake of fruit juice should be limited to 4 to 6 oz/d for children 1 to 6 years old. For children 7 to 18 years old, juice intake should be limited to 8 to 12 oz or 2 servings per day.

  • Children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits to meet their recommended daily fruit intake.

  • Infants, children, and adolescents should not consume unpasteurized juice.

The report also says that juice should not be used in the treatment of dehydration or management of diarrhea and that excessive juice consumption may be associated with malnutrition (overnutrition and undernutrition).

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Preschoolers with 10 cavities are nothing to smile about

Earlier this month, a New York Times article brought to light a study by the Center for Disease Control which found that there was an increase in the number of preschoolers with cavities.

Even worse, “dentists nationwide say they are seeing more preschoolers at all income levels with 6 to 10 cavities or more. The level of decay, they added, is so severe that they often recommend anesthesia” for the children because they cannot sit for such a long procedure, according to the article.

So what is causing this scary trend? Bar parenting? Processed foods? Maybe it’s a little of both.

Endless Snacking – Our eating habits have changed. In the past, families sat down to three meals a day. Now, with busy lifestyles, the mobility that comes with cars and public transportation and fast easy food, such as microwavable snacks and packaged foods stuffed with preservatives to last, children and adults are snacking all day long which leads to an unlimited supply of food for the oral bacteria that cause cavities.

Bottled Water – Advertisers have done it again. They have found a way to sell ice to a polar bear. Or in this case, found a way to sell water to us when we already have it coming out of the faucet. More families are drinking bottled water rather than fluoridated water from the tap. Fluoridated water is a proven cavity fighter.

Lack of Knowledge – As a parent of young children, chances are you’re probably dodging the toddler toys on the floor while running around trying to cook, clean and keep track of your little one. Brushing teeth at night or taking a child to the dentist may be the last thing on your mind. Maybe you are unsure about when to start using fluoride toothpaste or when you should take your child to visit the dentist. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has a simple FAQ that can answer all your questions.

So step up parents, and do a little parenting before your kids teeth rot right out of their mouths.

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Why we just can’t get it right-Is the new food pyramid really more accuarate?

Why did we have a  food  pyramid to begin with? A plate makes much more sense; That’s all according to the supporters of the new model.  

“It’s such a recognizable image. “Everybody has seen a plate, used a plate. It’s much easier to visualize when it’s something we use on a daily basis,” Toby Smithson, R.D., a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, said in an article on the Huffington Post.

Plus, “it’s easy for non-readers to understand,” she says.

First off, how is it “easy for non-readers to understand?” There are no pictures on the plate at all! Just colorful blocks with big white letters superimposed over each.

At least the first two food pyramid actually had pictures.

I have a beef with all three food pyramids, however. I’m not just picking at the new plate.

Each model has grains as the largest segment. As a paleo eater, grains might as well be the devil.

Furthermore, protein is the smallest section. Some say grains will fill you up. But a meal rich with protein will leave you feeling satisfied for longer.

Eating lean meats like turkey, chicken and fish is a far better option then having a quarter of your plate filled up with bread or rice, things are stomachs can’t digest properly.

According to the USDA, this model was designed to also help Americans understand portion control.

“They should eat off an eight or nine-inch plate, like people did in the old days, before we had such an obesity problem,” Smithson said.

What kind of plates are people eating off of now days?! My plates are 9 inches and under. Sometimes I even eat out of small bowls.

Portion control is important, but you can’t go and snack on chips and claim that it was a small portion, therefore, it’s healthy. Even “healthy” snacks like granola bars and whole wheat cereals in small portions are still not good for you.

It’s better to snack on healthy things all day with bigger portions, then to have three big meals with little portions.

Instead of spending so much time reorganizing the information that was already available onto a plate, the government should be doing something about the way our food is processed, quit giving subsidies to farmers, stop pushing  Got Milk ads on kids, and give incentives to Americans to buy fresh vegetables, fruits and meats.

They should be teaching us about sodium and hidden sugars. Women consumer 25 percent of their daily caloric intake in hidden sugars-empty calories we don’t even know we’re consuming.

And wake up people! The government can’t even balance our budget. And advertisers are lying to our faces with buzzwords like “No sugar added” and “Whole wheat.”

It’s up to you to take responsibility for your own health and your kids’ well being. Do a little research. Eat a vegetable. If you haven’t had one in a while, they don’t taste as bad as their reputation says they do.

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Do you have an aphrodisiac in your cupboards?

Today we have Viagra and Cialis. But throughout history, our ancestors turned to the mystical workings of nature. From fruit to spices, there were food remedies to cure any problems of one of humans’ most basic instinct, sex.

Photo Credit: hemantchourasia.blogspot.com

These traditions have carried on to modern times. Some foods, such as raw oysters, have a notorious reputation for turning you on. But others are less known. Do you have an aphrodisiac in your cupboard?

Avocados
The Aztecs called the avocado tree “ahuacatl,” or “testicle tree,” according to an askmen article. Avocados “contain high levels of folic acid, which helps metabolize proteins, giving you more energy. They also contain vitamin B6 (a nutrient that increases male hormone production) and potassium (which helps regulate a woman’s thyroid gland), two elements that help increase libido in both men and women.”Cinnamon

A pinch of cinnamon in your coffee or tea everyday could result in better sex. The spice lowers high blood sugar which can restrict the flow of blood to the vagina and penis.
 
Pumpkin Seeds
You might never look at carving pumpkins again. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, which has a reputation for increasing fertility and sex drive. Also high in zinc; Shellfish. Shellfish includes not only oysters, but shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops and lobster among others.
 
Arugula
Who knew a salad could be so sexy. Arugula greens have been rumored to be an aphrodisiac since the 1st century. It was often combined with other ingredients such as pine nuts, also an aphrodisiac.
 
Honey
Love can be as sweet as honey. “Many medicines in Egyptian times were based on honey including cures for sterility and impotence. Medieval seducers plied their partners with Mead, a fermented drink made from honey. Lovers on their “Honeymoon” drank mead and it was thought to “sweeten” the marriage,” according to gourmetsleuth.com.
 
But not everyone believes in aphrodisiacs. Dr. Ruth Westheimer says, “researchers discovered that a man must consume nearly 50 oysters to feel their sexually intensifying effects. As for the wine, more than one glass can cause your blood vessels to constrict and put a damper on your arousal.”
 
So what are some other cures for sexual problems? Livescience.com says respect and getting in shape are better for your sex life.
 
Photo Credit: androxa.wordpress.com

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