Tag: Food

Study Reveals The Cheese Triggers The Same Part Of The Brain As Drugs

There’s a good reason why you just can’t resist reaching for another slice of Stilton.

Scientists claim that cheese is as addictive as drugs because of a chemical called casein.

This is found in dairy products and can trigger the brain’s opioid receptors, which are responsible for addiction.

The study, by the University of Michigan, took a look at which items act as the “drugs of the food world“.

The researchers discovered pizza was one of the world’s most addictive foods, largely because of its cheesy topping.

Fat seemed to be equally predictive of problematic eating for everyone, regardless of whether they experience symptoms of ‘food addiction,” Erica Schulte, one of the study’s authors, told Mic.




Dr. Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine said that casein ‘breaks apart during digestion to release a whole host of opiates called casomorphins.’

Some scientists believe the influence of cheese is so potent that they refer to it as “dairy crack“.

A number of studies have revealed that casomorphins lock with opioid receptors, which are linked with the control of pain, reward and addiction in the brain.

[Casomorphins] really play with the dopamine receptors and trigger that addictive element,” registered dietitian Cameron Wells told Mic .

Milk contains a tiny amount of casein in milk, but producing a pound of cheese requires about 10 pounds of milk, so the chemical is ingested in high amounts.

According to the University of Illinois Extension Program, caseins makes up 80 per cent of the proteins in cow milk.

The average person is estimated to eat around 35 pounds of cheese – suggesting that it really as addictive as research claims.

The problem is particularly bad when it comes to highly-processed cheese such as ‘plastic cheese’.

Studies in animals have found that highly processed foods, or foods with added fat or refined carbohydrates, may be capable of triggering addictive eating behaviour.

And people with symptoms of food addiction or with higher body mass indexes have reported greater problems with highly processed foods.

This suggests some may be particularly sensitive to the possible “rewarding” properties of these foods, said Erica Schulte, a U-M psychology doctoral student and the study’s lead author.

If properties of some foods are associated with addictive eating for some people, this may impact nutrition guidelines, as well as public policy initiatives such as marketing these foods to children,” Schulte said.

Nicole Avena, assistant professor of pharmacology and systems therapeutics at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and a co-author on the study, explained the significance of the findings.

This is a first step towards identifying specific foods, and properties of foods, which can trigger this addictive response,” she said.

This could help change the way we approach obesity treatment. It may not be a simple matter of ‘cutting back’ on certain foods, but rather, adopting methods used to curtail smoking, drinking and drug use.”

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Impacts Of Genetically Modified Animals On The Ecosystem And Human Activities

The genetic modification of animals to obtain transgenic animals started in 1980. The first transgenic animals were mice, which are still the most frequently used transgenic species.

About 20 transgenic species have been obtained and they are more or less currently used. Various methods are being implemented to transfer foreign genes to the different species.

Transgenic animals are mostly used for basic research to study gene and biological functions. Transgenics may also be the source of organs and cells for humans as well as of medicaments.

The impact of transgenesis to improve animals for food and feed production is still non-existent but is expected to become a reality in the coming months.

Humans domesticated some animal species to obtain food, acquire strength for various activities and as companions.




Breeding likely contributed to revealing to humans the mechanisms of reproduction, including their own.

Long ago, humans probably made a distinction between themselves and animals, while recognizing their resemblance to animals.

More recently, humans have considered combining the biological properties of some animals with their own. They imagined the creation of chimeras from human and bull or goat.

They described and represented these chimeric organisms but could not produce them.

Genetic selection has thus become more efficient but is still totally dependent on natural and spontaneous random mutations.

In order to enlarge the choice of plants and animals for selection, humans started to use mutagenic chemical compounds.

The mutagens were applied to micro-organisms, then to plants and animals. The mutations were then much more frequent, but still totally random and unknown.

A selection makes the emergence of new lines of interest possible. More than 3000 plant varieties have thus been obtained and validated and are being used as food.

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GMO Food To Get Labels Beginning 2020

New guidelines for labeling foods with genetically modified organisms have now been submitted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which essentially would require all foodmakers to use labels that indicate their products contain GMO.

A great number of Americans still debate over the safety of GMO food regardless of scientific studies that say they aren’t health hazards.

Many companies, along with a handful of different establishments including restaurants and coffee shops, now place “non-GMO” labels on their products.

For the uninitiated, GMO refers to plants and animals created via gene alteration in ways that natural breeding can’t achieve. It also refers to products that contain GMO ingredients.

Scientists perform this to make some plants resistant to ill elements and ultimately make agriculture more efficient. For example, one type of papaya contains a gene modification that makes it resistant to a certain virus.

Only a handful of crops like this, according to The New York Times, are grown globally.




What Are GMOs?

The most significant belief among the anti-GMO groups is that GMO foods elevate risk of certain diseases.

A report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in 2016 found “no differences that would implicate a higher risk to human health” from GMO crops.

It found no evidence that GMO foods in North America have contributed to higher risks incidence of cancer, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, autism, celiac disease, or food allergies.

Several other organizations have also expressed that GMOs are safe for consumption.

Department Of Agriculture’s New Guidelines

Even still, the new guidelines will require foodmakers and manufacturers to put GMO labels on their products by 2020, but they’re given more freedom beyond a plain, nondescript “GMO” sticker.

Instead, the guidelines propose labels such as “bioengineered” — or “BE,” for short.

Foodmakers would also be able to choose among three options: say the product contains GMO flat-out, use a standard icon or logo, or place a QR code that will take users to a website containing more information.

However, the labels may not appear on all products that contain GMO.

For example, some crops that undergo genetic engineering might not be required to get such labels because even though their genes are altered, such alterations can still occur via conventional breeding methods.

Another example are foods whose main ingredient is non-GMO meat but otherwise contain GMO ingredients. Both of these don’t have to be labeled.

It’s important to note that the Department of Agriculture’s guidelines are still pending. The public has until July 3 to comment on the proposal.

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Behind The Hype Of ‘Lab-Grown’ Meat

Some folks have big plans for your future. They want you—a burger-eatin’, chicken-finger-dippin’ American—to buy their burgers and nuggets grown from stem cells.

One day, meat eaters and vegans might even share their hypothetical burger. That burger will be delicious, environmentally friendly, and be indistinguishable from a regular burger.

And they assure you the meat will be real meat, just not ground from slaughtered animals.

That future is on the minds of a cadre of Silicon Valley startup founders and at least one nonprofit in the world of cultured meat.

Some are sure it will heal the environmental woes caused by American agriculture while protecting the welfare of farm animals.




But these future foods’ promises are hypothetical, with many claims based on a futurist optimism in line with Silicon Valley’s startup culture.

Cultured meat is still in its research and development phase and must overcome massive hurdles before hitting market.

A consumer-ready product does not yet exist and its progress is heavily shrouded by intellectual property claims and sensationalist press. Today, cultured meat is a lot of hype and no consumer product.

The truth is that only a few successful prototypes have yet been shown to the public, including a NASA-funded goldfish-based protein in the early 2000s, and a steak grown from frog cells in 2003 for an art exhibit.

More have come recently: Mark Post unveiled a $330,000 cultured burger in 2013, startup Memphis Meats has produced cultured meatballs and poultry last and this year, and Hampton Creek plans to have a product reveal dinner by the end of the year.

Because many in the cultured meat industry see this meat as cruelty-free, animal rights groups have become more vocal about cultured meat in its recent past.

For now, we know that the meat is made by growing animal-derived cells in the lab and harvesting the meat after a month or so.

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Cosmic Crisp – A New Apple To Get Your Teeth Into

How do you like them apples? Lead scientist Dr Kate Evans at Washington State University’s Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center. Photograph: Ted S. Warren/AP

Nearly 30 years ago, Dr Bruce Barritt was jeered when he branded the apple industry in Washington state a dinosaur for growing obsolete varieties such as red and golden delicious.

Now, farmers in the state, where 70% of US apples are grown, are ripping up millions of trees and replacing them with a new variety, the cosmic crisp, which Barritt, a horticulturalist, has created in the decades since.

With 12m trees to be planted by 2020, and the first harvest of apples due in the shops in 2019, it is the biggest ever launch of a new apple.

Around 10m 40lb boxes are expected to be produced in the next four years, compared with the usual 3-5m for a new variety. It’s a gamble for growers: replanting costs up to $50,000 per acre, so the cosmic crisp needs to fetch top dollar to make their investment worthwhile.

Barritt began his quest for the perfect apple in the 1980s, after being hired by Washington State University (WSU).




I had two projects,” he says. “The orchards being grown were inefficient – big trees that required ladders, poor fruit quality because of shade in the trees… That was a problem I could tackle.

“But I thought the most important problem was that, at the time in Washington, 90% of the crop was red delicious and golden delicious – they’re not crisp, juicy or flavourful.

“I was giving a talk to 2,000 industry people and I told them these were obsolete. It didn’t go down well. If I asked them why they were still growing these varieties, they’d say ‘Because we grow them better than anybody else.’ That wasn’t good enough, because the consumer wasn’t happy.

Barritt was convinced better varieties had to be developed, and made available to every farmer in the state (new varieties such as jazz and ambrosia are often only licensed to small clubs of growers).

He spent six years lobbying the industry in Washington and the university for money to fund a breeding programme, which began in 1994.

Barritt created thousands of seedlings by cross-pollinating the blossoms of parent trees.

‘Sweet but not too sweet’: proof is in the tasting for the cosmic crisp. Photograph: Ted S Warren/AP

When they come into bearing, we walk the long rows and bite, chew and spit, because you can’t eat a lot of apples at once – your taste buds lose their sensitivity.

“The majority you bite into are terrible, but eventually you come up with ones that are good.”

The cosmic crisp, so named because of its yellow star-like flecks on a burgundy skin, is a cross between the honeycrisp and the enterprise.

Honeycrisp’s claim to fame is its crispness; it also has good sugar and acid and texture. Enterprise is large, full-coloured, stores well and is firm. It’s got good acidity and flavour in general.

Enterprise is also known for its resistance to fire blight.

Around this time, Barritt retired. Dr Kate Evans, a British horticulturalist who had been leading breeding programmes for East Malling Research in Kent, took over.

Testing of the apple continued and it was patented in 2014, with Barritt named as the “inventor”. For the next 10 years, it will only be available to US farmers in Washington, because they helped fund the breeding programme.

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Know The Most Common But Dangerous Allergies

For an ever increasing number of us allergies are an annoying and often unpleasant fact of life.

Come spring and summer it’s time to break out the tissues and medications, or for the even less fortunate the scratching and sneezing might be an all year thing.

However, for a small but significant percentage of the population allergies can be potentially deadly.

The danger is caused by the body’s immune system falsely recognising the allergen (substance causing the allergy) as an invader and massively overreacting.




This is known as anaphylaxis and can lead to death within a matter of minutes in extreme cases.

Not all allergens cause anaphylaxis; I’ve never heard of anyone dying of hay-fever!

There are however several common allergy triggers that are particularly associated with severe allergic responses.

Whilst it seems bizarre that these everyday things can be even remotely harmful, to some individuals they can be lethal.

Latex

Back in the 1970s allergy to natural rubber latex was practically unheard of. Then people got a little more concerned about what they were handling particularly after the emergence of AIDS in the 1980s.

It seemed rubber gloves were a sensible protective measure and their use ballooned (pun intended).

Unfortunately, like many other allergies, exposure to the allergen is a factor. This certainly appears to be the case for the 8% of health workers in the UK who have some degree of latex allergy.

Other industries such as beauty, catering and the motor industry also have a higher incidence of latex allergy; along with those who have a history of hayfever, asthma and eczema.

The most serious (and thankfully rarest) form of latex allergy is type I hypersensitivity. People with this condition can suffer a potentially life-threatening reaction when exposed to only the tiniest amounts of latex.

This can be from eating food that was prepared using rubber gloves or also from particles in the air – latex is often powdered to prevent sticking and these particles can easily become airborne.

Insect Stings

Nobody enjoys being stung by a bee or wasp. At the very best it hurts and is often in just the sort of place you don’t want to be stung.

Lots of people react in some way to various wasp, bee, hornet and ant stings, with symptoms such as local swelling common place.

Things start getting more serious when the reaction becomes system-wide with rashes and swelling appearing some distance from the site of the sting.

Allergy to insect stings affect around 1% of the population, although unlike food allergies the figure tends to increase with age. In fact around 3% of the adult population have some degree of allergy to insect stings.

Medicines

Generally speaking drugs and medicines are there to make us feel better. Whilst there is always the potential to overdose with certain types, responsible, medically supervised use should do more good than harm.

Unfortunately drug allergies are fairly widespread; globally adverse drug reactions may affect up to 10% of the population. This rises to around up to 20% of hospitalized patients making it a very significant risk factor.

What is most concerning about drug allergies though is the severity of reactions that can occur. Figures suggest that in the region of one fifth of fatalities due to anaphylaxis are caused by drugs allergy.

It is only a few classes of medicines which are associated with allergic reactions. These include antibiotics, particularly those related to penicillin and NSAID-type painkillers such as ibuprofen and aspirin.

Whilst the risk of a severe anaphylactic reaction is small (1 in 1,500 for those allergic to painkillers) it is significant. In addition it is possible for a reaction to occur even if you have safely taken them in the past.

Food

Food – can’t live without it, and for an unlucky few, can’t live with it! In the region of 2% of the population of the developed world have some type of food allergy, usually to one of eight foods: nuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, soya (soy) and wheat.

Whilst all of these are capable of provoking a severe allergic reaction, some are more dangerous than others. Wheat and soy products are generally less likely to cause an anaphylactic reaction whilst peanuts are most likely.

In fact, more than half of all food-related anaphylaxis cases are caused by peanuts. What is truly shocking about this figure is that 50 years ago, the only way a peanut could kill you was if you choked on it!

The rise in allergies over the last few decades is still the focus of much research.

However, the evidence is beginning to indicate that much of this is due to our increased hygiene, which has affected the development of our immune systems.

Now, the theory goes, our bodies haven’t experienced the same range of bacteria and dirt so are more likely to over-react to harmless substances.

Whatever the cause allergies are on the rise and so are allergy-related emergencies. Hospital admissions for anaphylaxis are up over 6 times in the last twenty years, and that number is still rising.

Today allergy is the most prevalent chronic illness in the developed world, so expect more of the same.

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Could This Trick Make You Like Your Vegetables More?

Could we learn to like our vegetables more!? It’s a question that many of us may have wondered, as we struggle to get through a plate of broccoli.

Now, an experiment done with a group of UK school children thinks it might have the answer!

The study wanted to see if it was possible to train ourselves to like a food that we didn’t like before.

To find out, a group of young scientists aged 9 to 11 were split down into two groups.




Half of them were asked to eat a piece of the green vegetable kale every day for 15 days, while the other half ate raisins – and there were some very interesting results!

Most of the kids who ate kale every day found that they did like it more by the end of the experiment.

So, by making yourself eat something you may not really like over a period of time, you could learn to not hate it as much!

However, there were still some in the kale group who really didn’t like it – even after the 15 days was up.

It was discovered this was because they had more fungiform papillae on their tongue, which contain our taste buds.

The more fungiform papillae a person has, the more strongly they will taste flavours – especially bitter ones – so these children are known as ‘supertasters‘.

About one in four people could be ‘supertasters‘, which makes them more sensitive to strong foods, like lemons, spices and bitter vegetables, like Brussels sprouts

Therefore, these people may need to eat kale for slightly longer before they learn to love it.

Jackie Blissett, professor in health behaviour and change at Coventry University, said: “It’s been wonderful to work with these young scientists, and they’ve helped shed some light on one of the great mysteries: why some of us might not like our Brussels sprouts!

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Chocolate Production Generates A Lot Of Pollution

For decades, commuters and tourists have delighted in the mouthwatering smells radiating from the Blommer Chocolate Co.’s factory near the Chicago River downtown.

But following a federal agency’s complaint, the aroma will soon disappear.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently cited the family-run business for alleged clean-air violations, and officials are hurrying to install equipment that will reduce emissions — and stop the smell.

It’ll start to go away as we put pollution abatement equipment in place,” the company’s vice president, Rick Blommer, told The Associated Press.




The company that makes chocolate liquor, cocoa butter and other products for bulk sale is trying to resolve allegations that its cocoa-crushing process causes air pollution.

Still, the demise of the rich, brownie smell spilling from the 66-year-old Blommer plant will be a bitter loss, said odor researcher Alan Hirsch, head of the Chicago-based Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation.

Chocolate smells put people in a relaxed state,” said Hirsch, who likened the effect of chocolate vapors on the brain to an antidepressant.

It’s been shown bad odors increase aggression; pleasant ones make people more docile. So you could say the chocolate smell is a real service to Chicago.

Smells are a big deal in this city once closely associated with the stench of slaughtered cows and whose very name etymologists say comes from the American Indian words for skunk or onion.

But a pleasant smell to some is pollution to others.

In citing the company earlier this month, the EPA said inhaling the plant’s emissions in high concentrations can harm children, the elderly and people with heart and lung diseases.

But within smelling range of the factory, it’s nearly impossible to find anyone who doesn’t rave about the chocolate aroma.

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Can Fasting Help You Lose Weight And Live For Longer?

New research suggests that fasting could slow down ageing and extend people’s lives. What fasting diets are there – are are they a good idea?

Intermitent Fasting is in fashion.

There are all sorts of ratios and variants on core idea of dramatically restricting calories for a few days each week while eating normally on other days.

And while this approach seems totally at odds with the traditional health advice we’ve always been given about eating balanced, regular meals, a growing number of scientists are saying IF diets can reduce our chances of developing some chronic diseases and may even add years our lives.




The most recent evidence comes from the University of South California, where researchers found that 34 people on a low-calorie, low-protein diet had a decrease in risk factors associated with chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

This builds on a number of earlier findings that suggest fasting reduces blood pressure, increases cellular repair and metabolic rate, and protects against conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

And while it is not be a step towards eternal life, a 2015 study at the University of Florida revealed that fasting on alternate days increased the gene related to anti-ageing in human cells.

Short periods of starvation effectively mimic the eating habits of our ancestors, who did not have access to grocery stores or food around the clock.

It’s not without its risks and downsides, though. Dieticians warn that skipping meals can cause dizziness, difficulties sleeping, dehydration and headaches.

Others are concerned it reinforces poor eating habits. “These diets can encourage a ‘scrimp and splurge’ approach to eating,” says British nutritionist Julia Harding.

“They don’t necessarily promote a good understanding of food. People need to make sure they’re eating nutritious, balanced meals on their ‘off days’ and think beyond calories.”

As fasting continues to win new fans, the array of variations is about as dizzying as a day on zero calories.

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All By Itself, The Humble Sweet Potato Colonized The World

A chromolithograph of Christopher Columbus arriving at the Caribbean.

Of all the plants that humanity has turned into crops, none is more puzzling than the sweet potato.

Indigenous people of Central and South America grew it on farms for generations, and Europeans discovered it when Christopher Columbus arrived in the Caribbean.

In the 18th century, however, Captain Cook stumbled across sweet potatoes again — over 4,000 miles away, on remote Polynesian islands. European explorers later found them elsewhere in the Pacific, from Hawaii to New Guinea.

The distribution of the plant baffled scientists. How could sweet potatoes arise from a wild ancestor and then wind up scattered across such a wide range?

Was it possible that unknown explorers carried it from South America to countless Pacific islands?

An extensive analysis of sweet potato DNA, published on Thursday in Current Biology, comes to a controversial conclusion: Humans had nothing to do with it.




The bulky sweet potato spread across the globe long before humans could have played a part — it’s a natural traveler.

Some agricultural experts are skeptical.

This paper does not settle the matter,” said Logan J. Kistler, the curator of archaeogenomics and archaeobotany at the Smithsonian Institution.

Alternative explanations remain on the table, because the new study didn’t provide enough evidence for exactly where sweet potatoes were first domesticated and when they arrived in the Pacific.

We still don’t have a smoking gun,” Dr. Kistler said.

The sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas, is one of the most valuable crops in the world, providing more nutrients per farmed acre than any other staple.  It has sustained human communities for centuries.

A sweet potato farmer in in Papua New Guinea. The plant arrived there long before humans, scientists reported.

 

Scientists have offered a number of theories to explain the wide distribution of I. batatas.

Some scholars proposed that all sweet potatoes originated in the Americas, and that after Columbus’s voyage, they were spread by Europeans to colonies such as the Philippines. Pacific Islanders acquired the crops from there.

As it turned out, though, Pacific Islanders had been growing the crop for generations by the time Europeans showed up. On one Polynesian island, archaeologists have found sweet potato remains dating back over 700 years.

A radically different hypothesis emerged: Pacific Islanders, masters of open-ocean navigation, picked up sweet potatoes by voyaging to the Americas, long before Columbus’s arrival there.

The evidence included a suggestive coincidence: In Peru, some indigenous people call the sweet potato cumara. In New Zealand, it’s kumara.

A potential link between South America and the Pacific was the inspiration for Thor Heyerdahl’s famous 1947 voyage aboard the Kon-Tiki. He built a raft, which he then successfully sailed from Peru to the Easter Islands.

Genetic evidence only complicated the picture. Examining the plant’s DNA, some researchers concluded that sweet potatoes arose only once from a wild ancestor, while other studies indicated that it happened at two different points in history.

According to the latter studies, South Americans domesticated sweet potatoes, which were then acquired by Polynesians. Central Americans domesticated a second variety that later was picked up by Europeans.

Hoping to shed light on the mystery, a team of researchers recently undertook a new study — the biggest survey of sweet potato DNA yet. And they came to a very different conclusion.

Their research pointed to only one wild plant as the ancestor of all sweet potatoes. The closest wild relative is a weedy flower called Ipomoea trifida that grows around the Caribbean.

Its pale purple flowers look a lot like those of the sweet potato.

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