Nutrition and Lifestyle

One of the potentially most valuable products of genetic engineering — public health-wise — was Golden Rice. This is rice which has genes added to it which allow the plant to make beta-carotene in its grain. What makes this rice so valuable is that Beta-carotene is the precursor to vitamin A — and vitamin A is lacking in the diets of millions around the world. An insufficient supply of vitamin A, especially in children, can lead to blindness and death, as well as increased susceptibility to and death from diseases such as measles.

A new report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition assesses the possible impact of...

For various reasons, fruits and vegetables grown out-of-season don't taste as good as ones grown in-season. Food aficionados are known especially to turn their nose up at greenhouse tomatoes. 

A team of researchers led by Michael Dzakovich from Purdue University wanted to determine if it was possible to enhance the flavor of these tomatoes. Because of less sunlight and the UV-blocking properties of glass, they hypothesized that tomatoes grown out-of-season in greenhouses did not receive adequate ultraviolet light. UV light (specifically UV-B radiation), which stresses plants, triggers metabolic reactions that may alter the flavor and nutritional value of fruit.

To test their hypothesis, the authors grew tomatoes in a greenhouse with or without UV light supplementation. (...

Organic Consumers Association, the notable militant trade rep group famous for creating anti-science Deniers For Hire like U.S. Right To Know and funding many others, has now laid its cards on the table, saying it wants every competitor of their clients gone.

The pro-science side always knew that but it is still odd to see it spelled out. Writing at the progressive political website Truth-Out, Martha Rosenberg, a former advertising copywriter and current freelance blogger and supporter of OCA, and Ronnie Cummins, their national director, put it in plain language; they are no longer interested in just being anti-biology or anti-...

A recent paper took brain scans and noted changes in response to beer flavor, namely increased activity in the right ventral striatum, which has been linked in other functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) papers to behavior and reward. The authors used 28 male beer drinkers from a previous positron emission tomography (PET) scan imaging paper (49 men then) linking beer to dopamine release, and those men underwent fMRI scans during beer and Gatorade tastings.

Beer caused the scans in the ventral striatum to light up more, which the authors believe signaled a desire for more beer, while Gatorade didn't increase beer desire at all.

No women were included in either small study, and...

OK, so we already know that if you get emails from WebMD (also known as WebBM) on two consecutive days, and there is nothing related to fecal matter in the headline, it's nothing short of miraculous. Someone over there has apparently not gotten through Freud's anal stage of psychosexual development, because it's "Howdy Doodie Time" all the time.  

Perhaps these guys need more fiber in their diets since something seems to be cramping their style (sorry) lately. As a result, they recently plopped (sorry again) something completely different into their daily email—fast food scares.

They really should have stuck to what they know best...

People with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which the complex protein gluten stimulates the production of antibodies that damage the small intestine, must avoid gluten-containing grains (wheat, barley, and rye) and their products. It is a real life-long lifestyle change because the intestinal damage can be severe, resulting in malabsorption of many nutrients and growth retardation in children. (1)

For those people, the gluten-free fad has been a real boon. What was once a mail-order existence with few choices is now common on grocery store shelves, a $5 billion industry with lots of options. But there is a trade-off. Replacing that sticky protein means, among other things, extra sugar, extra fat, hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose and xanthan gum, hardly a health benefit...

It's World Organic Month. It's also Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and Sepsis Awareness Month. (1) You'll be forgiven if you don't know all that. With only 12 months in a year and an infinite number of causes there is going to be some crowding. But suicide, cancer and sepsis are all real things, and that is where they are distinguished from organic food, which attributes any number of otherworldly powers to food grown and manufactured using their particular process.

One supernatural belief is that organic food will "detoxify" you. I was intrigued by the recent claims of Geeta Sidhu-Robb, who bills herself an inspirational mother of three (as opposed to you other non-inspirational mothers of three, and certainly not you...

Children's nutrition is, of course, important for healthy growth and development, thus the concern about what they're eating at home, at school, virtually everywhere. One common assumption is that what kids bring from home is going to be better than or as good as, for example, what they eat in school lunch programs. A recent story in the British press suggests that isn't always (maybe often?) correct. 

The article cites a survey from Leeds University that examined the contents of several hundred home-packed lunches found that only 2 percent of them met all the British nutrition standards. For example, fewer than 20 percent met the standards for energy, vitamin A or...

Hard-boiled eggs (Credit: Shutterstock)

Boiling an egg is useful. It kills bacteria, such as Salmonella, which may be on or even inside the egg. Heat treatment also triggers chemical reactions (specifically, protein crosslinking) that convert the egg into a gel, which makes it tastier and far easier to eat.

However, these same chemical reactions can also cause heated eggs to smell like farts. (This is particularly true of hard-boiled eggs.) A major protein inside the egg, called ovalbumin, possesses the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine. When heated, these sulfur atoms are converted to hydrogen sulfide, the nasty gas associated with rotten eggs and bodily functions. It doesn't take much to wrinkle our noses....

We here at the council enjoy debunking health fads. We especially enjoy debunking — in both print and video — weight loss fads. In fact, just last week I debunked one of the hottest trends in weight loss: body wraps. I don't know why this is, but something about selling unrealistic goals to vulnerable consumers for financial gain that only benefits the person at the top of the pyramid scheme really irks me. 

Enter hypnosis for weight loss. While driving to work the other day, a radio commercial came on about an upcoming seminar for hypnotism to help you lose weight. "Hypnosis helped me shed the pounds and keep them off," exclaimed one testimonial. "The seminars work! I didn't even have to...