Why We Love the Pain of Spicy Food - WSJ

Dec. 31, 2014 2:10 p.m. ET58 COMMENTSAs winter settles in and temperatures plunge, people turn to food and drink to provide a little warmth and comfort. In recent years, an unconventional type of warmth has elbowed its way onto more menus: the bite of chili peppers, whether from the red jalapeños of Sriracha sauce, dolloped on tacos or Vietnamese noodles, or from the dried ancho or cayenne peppers that give a bracing kick to Mayan hot chocolate.

But the chili sensation isn’t just warm: It hurts! It is a form of pain and irritation. There’s no obvious biological reason why humans should tolerate it, let alone seek it out and enjoy it. For centuries, humans have eagerly consumed capsaicin—the molecule that generates the heat sensation—even though nature seems to have created it to repel us.

This was an interesting read. Continue via Why We Love the Pain of Spicy Food - WSJ.

It’s Plastic Foam Packaging, Not the Food, That’s to Go Under a New York Rule - NYTimes.com

The proposed mayoral ban — swift, decisive, stirring in the moment — does not always take.

New Yorkers can still get cozy with an outsize soda, the carbonated nemesis that former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg failed to fell.

Horse carriages, which Mayor Bill de Blasio once pledged to expel on “Day 1” of his administration, continue to rumble through Central Park.

But now, it seems, City Hall’s two most recent occupants have successfully combined to vanquish a common foe: plastic foam.

via It’s Plastic Foam Packaging, Not the Food, That’s to Go Under a New York Rule - NYTimes.com.

Magnesium, an invisible deficiency that could be harming your health - CNN.com

(Caveat they didn't mention: supplementing too much = diarrhea) Between making sure to get enough fiber in your diet and trying not skimp on iron, monitoring your magnesium intake can easily fall through the cracks. "Studies have shown that only about 25% of U.S. adults are at or above the recommended daily amount of 310 to 320 milligrams for women and 400 to 420 for men," says Fruge.

In fact, the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) revealed that at least half of the U.S. population had inadequate intakes of magnesium.Here's how to figure out whether or not you're getting enough of this super nutrient — and how to fix it if you're deficient.

via Magnesium, an invisible deficiency that could be harming your health - CNN.com.

Why Americans Eat An Insane Amount Of Food - Business Insider

The average American eats a ton of food each year. Literally — it's a shade under 2,000 pounds.

Social scientists have provided many explanations for all that eating, including our increasing dependency on restaurant meals and an ongoing love affair with meat.

But one of the most foundational reasons for all that eating is one of the most controllable.

It's called completion compulsion. -click to read more..

via Why Americans Eat An Insane Amount Of Food - Business Insider.

Here Is What A Juice Cleanse Does To Your Body

This sums it up in bullet form. I wish people would stop going on just juice cleanses (or telling me they are proudly.) You'll lose muscle, which will lead to more weight gain after you start to eat again.

Buzzfeed: People have a LOT of opinions about juice cleanses. Some people get righteously indignant about how juice cleanses are actually dangerous woo-woo nonsense. Other people use words like detox and toxins and purify and cleanse and swear by the stuff. And other people say things like “that’s not how your body works” or “that’s what your fucking liver is for.”

And all of these people will insist that they are right.But… what’s the truth? What exactly does a juice cleanse do to your body?

BuzzFeed Life reached out to some experts for some answers. And here’s what they had to say.First things first: Is juicing going to detoxify your impurities, or nah?1. There’s not any real evidence that juicing is some magical cure-all.

Click through for pretty pictures and ridicule: via Here Is What A Juice Cleanse Does To Your Body.

Gut Microbiota Influences Blood Brain Barrier Permeability | Neuroscience News Research Articles | Neuroscience Social Network

The more I read about the microbiome..Amazing stuff. A new study in mice, conducted by researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet together with colleagues in Singapore and the United States, shows that our natural gut-residing microbes can influence the integrity of the blood-brain barrier, which protects the brain from harmful substances in the blood. According to the authors, the findings provide experimental evidence that our indigenous microbes contribute to the mechanism that closes the blood-brain barrier before birth. The results also support previous observations that gut microbiota can impact brain development and function.

The blood-brain barrier is a highly selective barrier that prevents unwanted molecules and cells from entering the brain from the bloodstream. In the current study, being published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the international interdisciplinary research team demonstrates that the transport of molecules across the blood-brain barrier can be modulated by gut microbes – which therefore play an important role in the protection of the brain.

via Gut Microbiota Influences Blood Brain Barrier Permeability | Neuroscience News Research Articles | Neuroscience Social Network.

What 200 Calories of Every Food Looks Like - The Atlantic

Because I cover health, sometimes people ask me if I'm especially healthy. The answer is no, of course. I'm just better at deluding myself than most people are. For example, I know that Chipotle burritos are extremely caloric, but I've managed to convince myself that the burrito bowl—all the cheese, guac, and juicy beef, but without the tortilla wrapping—is practically a health food.

No need to work out today, I walked up the Metro escalator! And sure, eight drinks a week is technically "heavy drinking" for women, but I'm Russian.

Unfortunately, the other day I learned about the app Calorific. It's basically a giant truth bomb that pours its radioactive reality down on all the food lies we tell ourselves. With simple, pastel images, the app tells you how much of virtually any food item adds up to 200 calories.I'll get the two most heartbreaking ones out of the way first:It is less than one donut.

It is half an avocado.

Here are a few others, if you dare look: What 200 Calories of Every Food Looks Like - The Atlantic.

How Bacteria In The Gut Help Fight Off Viruses : Goats and Soda : NPR

So what is this magic antiviral bullet?

It's those hairlike threads that dangle off some bacteria and help them swim. Yup, that's right, the flagella.

When Gewirtz and his team injected pieces of the flagella under the mice's skin, a part of the immune system kicked into action and stopped the rotavirus infection dead in its tracks.But these bacteria — and their flagella — are in our gut. Would they still be able to talk to the immune system? Hooper thinks so. Here's why.

Just like our hair, flagella are constantly falling off the surfaces of bacteria as they swim around in the gut. "Cool immune cells, called dendritic cells, are constantly surveying what's going on in the body," Hooper says. They can bind to the pieces of flagella in the gut and then mobilize other immune cells to come and fight the viral infection.

via How Bacteria In The Gut Help Fight Off Viruses : Goats and Soda : NPR.

Half of Dr. Oz's health advice is bad, study finds | Fox News

"Misleading at best, total nonsense at worst" is how Julia Belluz describes her gut feeling over the years about the accuracy of Dr. Mehmet Oz's medical advice, she writes at Vox.com.

Now she's got science to back her up, thanks to a study published in the British Medical Journal that analyzed health recommendations from Oz's syndicated TV talk show, as well as nuggets from the popular The Doctors.

The researchers found that about half of the suggestions offered by these shows either contradicted what other scientific studies had found or had no verifiable evidence at all to stand behind them, and that potential conflicts of interest were seldom mentioned.

The study looked at 40 random episodes from each show—instead of simply, as Belluz points out, "cherrypicking the worst offenders"—to get the fairest assessment. In general, each episode offered up about a dozen health recommendations, so the researchers were able to cull 479 health tidbits from Dr.

via Half of Dr. Oz's health advice is bad, study finds | Fox News.

Ask Well: Wild Fish vs. Farmed Fish - NYTimes.com

I know eating farm-raised fish is not as healthy as eating wild-caught fish. But is eating farm-raised fish better than eating no fish at all? Also, how often is it advisable to eat farm-raised fish?

Experts have raised concerns about farm raised fish, which in some cases are raised on unnatural diets and crammed into small enclosures that can breed disease, prompting aquaculture operators to rely heavily on antibiotics.

But farming practices are improving, and consumers have a number of healthy and eco-friendly farmed options, said Tim Fitzgerald, a scientist and sustainable seafood expert at the Environmental Defense Fund. He said some merchants set high standards for the farmed salmon and other fish they sell, including the supermarket chains Wegmans and Whole Foods and the producer Verlasso.

A few of the farmed varieties that are produced responsibly are also relatively high in omega 3 fatty acids, the polyunsaturated fats that promote cardiovascular health. They include arctic char, rainbow trout and oysters, he says.

via Ask Well: Wild Fish vs. Farmed Fish - NYTimes.com.

No, carrots don’t make your eyesight better - The Washington Post

No, carrots don’t make your eyesight better - The Washington Post

A new video from the American Chemical Society gets into the fascinating history of the carrot rumor: It's actually a story of wartime espionage.In World War II, British pilots had a game-changing new tool for finding their enemies at night -- RADAR.

But if the enemy knew about the Allies's new tech, they'd undoubtedly start working on copying it. So the British military started a rumor that their pilots had high-carrot diets to thank for their new-found night vision

via No, carrots don’t make your eyesight better - The Washington Post.

F.D.A. to Require Calorie Count, Even for Popcorn at the Movies - NYTimes.com

This seems like such a simple step. I don't know why it's taking so long..

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration announced sweeping rules on Tuesday that will require chain restaurants, movie theaters and pizza parlors across the country to post calorie counts on their menus. Health experts said the new requirements would help combat the country’s obesity epidemic by showing Americans just how many calories lurk in their favorite foods.


The rules will have broad implications for public health. As much as a third of the calories that Americans consume come from outside the home, and many health experts believe that increasingly large portion sizes and unhealthy ingredients have been significant contributors to obesity in the United States.

“This is one of the most important public health nutrition policies ever to be passed nationally,” said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Right now, you are totally guessing at what you are getting. This rule will change that.”


The rules are far broader than consumer health advocates had expected, covering food in vending machines and amusement parks, as well as certain prepared foods in supermarkets. They apply to food establishments with 20 or more outlets, including fast-food chains like KFC and Subway and sit-down restaurants like Applebee’s and The Cheesecake Factory.

Perhaps the most surprising element of the new rules was the inclusion of alcoholic beverages, which had not been part of an earlier proposal. Beverages served in food establishments that are on menus and menu boards will be included, but a mixed drink at a bar will not, F.D.A. officials said.re Calorie Count, Even for Popcorn at the Movies - NYTimes.com.

USDA ERS - Chart: Americans aren’t eating enough dark green, red, and orange vegetables

Expressing food consumption in terms of density—the amount of food eaten per 1,000 calories—allows a person’s intake to be compared with benchmark densities based on recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Such comparisons can reveal shortfalls and excesses in American diets. Analysis of intake data from the 2007-10 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey NHANES found that Americans under-consume whole grains, fruits, low-fat dairy products, and vegetables. In 2007-10, U.S. adults consumed 0.76 cups of total vegetables per 1,000 calories and 0.25 cups of dark green, red, and orange vegetables, while children consumed 0.49 cups and 0.17 cups, respectively. The Dietary Guidelines recommend 1.25 cups of total vegetables and 0.50 cups of dark green, red, and orange vegetables per 1,000 calories for a 2,000-calorie diet. Lower income individuals consumed a smaller amount of dark green, red, and orange vegetables than those with higher incomes. This chart appears in “Food Consumption and Nutrient Intake Data—Tools for Assessing Americans’ Diets” in the October 2014 issue of ERS’s Amber Waves magazine.

via USDA ERS - Chart: Americans aren’t eating enough dark green, red, and orange vegetables.

Need help kicking your sugar habit? This might help. - The Washington Post

Dragging the American public kicking and screaming away from its favorite sugary treats is not easy. But it is even more difficult to break the news that it isn't just that doughnut that's laden with sugar. A majority of packaged foods of just about every kind come with hidden sugars that most people don't know about.

A new project by a team of 12 scientists and public health professionals at the University of California in San Francisco have taken on this daunting task.

SugarScience.org, the Web site associated with the project, launched Monday promising the "unsweetened truth" about sugar. For the health conscious, the information should come as no surprise. But for a lot of Americans, the harsh truth might be harder to come to terms with.

Take some of the bits on the site's homepage:

"Too much added sugar from soda and sports drinks can overload critical organs over time leading to serious disease."

"Added sugar is hiding in 74 percent of packaged foods."

"Too much fructose, a common form of sugar, can damage your liver, just like too much alcohol."

via Need help kicking your sugar habit? This might help. - The Washington Post.

How Much Caffeine Is Too Much? - WSJ - WSJ

“Caffeine intoxication” became official in the medical community when the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” known as DSM-5, added the diagnosis last year.So do cappuccino lovers need to worry about limiting their consumption?

One expert, Matthew Johnson, associate professor in the department of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, explains how caffeine works in the body and when to cut back.

Caffeine works by blocking adenosine, a neuromodulator in the brain that puts the brakes on excitatory neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. “Caffeine allows these stimulating chemicals to flow, which can have a rousing effect, even at very low doses,” says Dr. Johnson, a psychopharmacologist who studies the influence of drugs on behavior and mood.Some people will get edgy from a weak cup of tea. For others, a double espresso is required to get them into the shower in the morning.

Most coffee drinkers are familiar with at least some symptoms of overindulging—nervousness, excitement, insomnia, rambling thoughts. But a large majority of people who consume caffeine don’t experience severe consequences, Dr. Johnson says.There are some case reports of students experiencing major anxiety after drinking a dozen cups of coffee, Dr. Johnson says. But overdosing would be difficult, “unless folks took multiple caffeine pills or drank many cans of energy drinks” such as Red Bull.

It is possible for a person to die from too much caffeine, “but that would mean about 14,000 milligrams, or around 140 8-ounce cups of coffee in one day,” Dr. Johnson says. Consuming that much would be difficult because of coffee’s self-limiting nature. “One cup makes you feel good and alert, but five cups may make you feel like your stomach is cramping,” he says. “You feel wired and you wouldn’t typically be able to go overboard.”

via How Much Caffeine Is Too Much? - WSJ - WSJ.

Obese Children Show Early Signs of Heart Disease - NYTimes.com

Obese children and teenagers already show hints of future cardiovascular problems, new research has found.

German researchers studied 61 overweight and obese children 8-to 21-years-old, comparing them with 40 non-obese children of the same age. All were free of disease and not taking any medicines. The study is online in JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging.

Compared with children of normal weight, the obese group had significantly higher triglycerides, higher total cholesterol, lower HDL “good cholesterol” and higher LDL “bad” cholesterol. They also had higher blood pressure, higher fasting glucose and higher fasting insulin readings.

Using echocardiograms, the researchers found that in obese children part of the heart muscle — the left ventricle — was thicker on average, which in an adult would be a sign of impending cardiovascular problems.

“We do not know if these changes are reversible with weight loss or how they will impact future cardiovascular disease in these subjects,” said the lead author, Dr. Norman Mangner, a cardiologist at the University of Leipzig.

via Obese Children Show Early Signs of Heart Disease - NYTimes.com.

Cocoa bean compound staves off memory loss | MNN - Mother Nature Network

Cocoa bean compound staves off memory loss | MNN - Mother Nature Network

Compounds found in cocoa beans, which are used to make chocolate, may reverse the normal age-related memory decline seen in healthy older adults, researchers say.

In a new study, people who were randomly assigned to eat a diet high in these compounds, called flavanols, for three months performed significantly better on a memory test than people assigned to eat a diet low in flavanols.

Additionally, brain imaging of the participants who consumed the high amounts of flavanols revealed noticeable improvements in the function of a region called the dentate gyrus, which is thought to be involved in memory.

via Cocoa bean compound staves off memory loss | MNN - Mother Nature Network.

8 foods to help you sleep | Fox News

According to a recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 63 percent of Americans say their sleep needs are not being met during the week. Whether your lack of shut-eye is due to a difficult job, a stressful environment or jet lag, not getting enough quality sleep can lead to serious health problems, including depression and heart disease. But before you reach for that prescription sleep aid, take a look at what you’re eating. Here are eight foods rich in sleep-inducing ingredients that can naturally help you get more z’s.


Fish is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that raises serotonin levels that are needed to make melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that helps to control your sleep and wake cycles. In addition, most fish cod, salmon, halibut, tuna, trout, and snapper provide vitamin B6, which is also needed to make melatonin. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that participants who ate tryptophan-rich foods showed a reduction in sleepiness and sustained alertness early in the morning, most likely due to improved sleep overnight.


There may be something to that old adage that a glass of warm milk will help you sleep. Dairy products like yogurt, milk and cheese are rich in melatonin-boosting calcium, and a number of studies are finding that being calcium-deficient may make it difficult to fall asleep.


Cherries, especially the tart varieties, are one of the few food sources of melatonin, the sleep hormone that regulates your internal clock. In one small study, participants drank eight ounces of tart cherry juice in the morning, and another eight ounces in the evening, for two weeks and reported better sleeping habits.

There's surprising ones if you click through.. Hummus? via 8 foods to help you sleep | Fox News.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Pushes Forward on Soda Ban - WSJ

Mayor Bill de Blasio ’s administration is exploring new ways to regulate the size of large sugary drinks in New York City, holding high-level meetings behind closed doors with health advocates and beverage industry executives.

“Mayor de Blasio has made clear he supports a ban on large sugary drinks,” his spokesman, Phil Walzak, said on Thursday. “The administration is currently considering plans on the best way to reach that goal.”

The administration’s talks with lobbyists could revive an issue championed by Mr. de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg , who oversaw a sugary drink ban in 2012 that was eventually overturned by the courts.

Mr. de Blasio, in a relatively rare display of agreement with Mr. Bloomberg, has vowed to find a way to limit the size of drinks, a move public-health advocates say would help fight obesity.

via New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Pushes Forward on Soda Ban - WSJ.