The psychology of Soylent and the prison of first-world food choices
People are born with neither the ability to cook nor compile; both are taught, and chastising even an adult for not knowing how to cook a healthy meal makes about as much sense as chastising an adult for not knowing how to code or how to compile an application from source. Each of those two different ridicules demonstrates an identical lack of empathy and an accompanying equally stunning sense of privilege that you should probably check immediately.
The bad news? Inflammatory dietary pattern is linked to depression among women. The good news: Drinking two-four cups of caffeinated coffee a day reduces the risk of suicide for adults by about half.
Nutrition experts contend that all we need is what's typically found in a routine diet. Industry representatives, backed by a fascinating history, argue that foods don't contain enough, and we need supplements. Fortunately, many excellent studies have now resolved the issue.(SLAtlantic)
"Don't forget to take your vitamins!" Or not. Some say it could kill you. Will there ever be any definitive answers when it comes to nutrition?
An in-depth talk at Google that sums up the scientific research on living a healthy life with lots of practical advice.
An exceptionally informative, nicely designed and useful nutrition database, where you can easily look up the glycemic load, inflammation factor, vitamins, proteins, nutrients, calories etc. It is a practical source of information if you wish to either shed excess poundage or put some on. There is a glycemic index info page and lots more. The site was created by Self magazine.
"I’m bigger than most people, let alone most nutritionists — but I’m a pretty normal person. And a damn good nutritionist." The Fat Nutritionist wants to help you eat normally again. [more inside]
The known knowns, known unknowns, and perhaps even the unknown unknowns of why a calorie is not a calorie.
Nichelle Gainer (whose Vintage Black Glamour blog was seen previously on MeFi) responds insightfully to a NY Times editorial by author Alice Randall called "Why Black Women Are Fat."
The USDA has ended the pyramid scheme. For the first time, the USDA advises Americans to "eat less." The previous design abomination (previously) is archived for comparison.
Why Wal-Mart Is Making Our Health Its Problem - "So what's behind the [healthier-eating] initiative? In a word: scale. In a recent article in HBR, Chris Meyer and I argued that we'll see companies taking more and more ownership of externalities they could ignore because of changing sensibilities and better sensors (meaning detection and reporting of impacts by third parties). But we also identified a third driver: the scale of modern business. Whereas in the past, a single grocer could not have much impact on society, in today's highly consolidated market, Wal-Mart touches a significant percentage of the nation's food intake. Once you reach a scale where your decisions have ramifications for millions, it is hard to pretend that the impacts, even as distant ripples, are not your problem."
A dude eats nothing but Christmas candy for a week.
From the journal Nutrition, a paper(pdf) criticizing the new American dietary guidelines. [more inside]
Is Vitamin C worth taking or not? Does Echinacea kill colds? Am I missing out not drinking litres of Goji juice, wheatgrass extract and flaxseed oil every day? A generative data-visualisation of all the scientific evidence for popular health supplements by David McCandless and Andy Perkins. (Still Image) (data) [via] [more inside]
Obesity and the Farm Bill. Michael Pollan continues his series of articles on the state of the American food supply by looking at the connection between the obesity epidemic and the federal farm bill (NYT, reg. required, blah blah blah). Previously.
Ascaris lumbricoides. According to estimates, about 1.5 billion people--about a quarter of the earth's population--are hosts to the Ascaris lumbricoides parasitic worm. Ascaris worms can grow to be 18 inches in length, and use their host's windpipe and esophagus to migrate between the small intestine and the lungs. A single human host may support dozen of large worms, which can be contracted by contact with fecal matter, animals, or undercooked pork. Under some circumstances (the worms dislike anesthesia, for example) one or more worms may exit from the mouth (a horrifying image), or the anus (one of the most disgusting images I have ever seen, and not safe for work, obviously). Here, the removal of a worm is caught on video (Realplayer). Too disgusting to post? Almost. But 1.5 billion people have got these in their bodies right now. That's what's grosser than gross.
Feeding Minds - the impact of food on mental health
Supersized in the NFL Analyzing data from the 2003-2004 season, researchers say "more than a quarter of NFL players had a body mass index that qualified them as class 2 obesity" -- equivalent to a 6-foot man weighing between 260 and 300 pounds. Even those players weren't the biggest ones: the study counted more than 60 players -- 3 percent -- with body mass indexes placing them into class 3 obesity, with individual weights approaching 400 pounds. "I don't know what's going on in the minds of coaches", said lead researcher Dr. Joyce Harp, an assistant professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Players' growing girth "is a major concern," said Dr. Arthur Roberts, a former NFL quarterback and retired heart surgeon (.pdf file) whose Living Heart Foundation works with the players' union to evaluate heart-related health risks faced by current and retired players. More inside.
NutritionData.com is a free and very useful website for detailed nutrition information, including the in-vogue Glycemic Index; their own Fullness Factor, a measure of how filling foods are per calorie; and others. Their Better Choices Diet makes use of the Fullness Factor to make consuming less energy than you use easier to do without going hungry. Previously mentioned in response to this AskMe question.
Portion Distortion Quiz. Just in time for T-day, our helpful friends at NIH have updated last year's quiz with Portion Distortion II. Caution: pictures of food are bigger today than they were 20 years ago.
The food pyramid has been updated again, apparently. According to Frito-Lay, your major food groups now consist of fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, and Doritos. (via Calpundit)
Yesterday the World Health Organization launched a report on diet and nutrition, saying that sugar should be restricted to 10% of caloric intake. Predictably, the sugar industry (press releases) threw fits and called on their cronies in Congress to cut off WHO funding. Apparently they're fighting and clawing even more than the tobacco industry in similar circusmtances, and WHO fears that lobbyists have more power with the Bush administration. The SA believes that inactivity, not our increased sugar consumption, is the primary cause of the obesity epidemic. Are we in for another few years of declarations of junk science and endless gov't investigations into what seems obvious, a la most environmental and health concerns?
Keys of Nutrition You may not be familiar with Ancel Keys, but his discoveries about nutrition and health are behind much of the dietary advice people now receive. Have you ever wondered who proved that the amount of cholesterol in food did not influence the amount of cholesterol in the blood? Do you know what causes high cholesterol? Do you like olive oil but need a good rationalization to keep using it? (hint: there is one) What dietary advice has most fascinated you, or helped you the most?