Monday, January 24, 2011

Can Eating Carrots Change Your Skin Color?

Yes, high amounts of a pre-cursor to vitamin A called carotene can cause a change in the color of your skin. Before you think of this as a bad thing consider recent research published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour which found that eating foods high in carotenoids — a nutrient found in some fruits, leafy greens and root vegetables — gave them a healthy glow that rivaled a sun tan and made them more attractive in tests.

People with diets high in fruits and vegetables had demonstrably yellower skin, the researchers found. But the scientists weren't sure if the veggie glow would be perceived differently than one achieved by sitting in the sun. So they asked study participants to look at 51 different Caucasian faces and adjust the skin tones to the hues, ranging from those typical of a day in the sun to the glow from a carotenoid-rich diet, that they thought looked healthiest.

Results? The students found yellower faces more attractive and healthy looking.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

I heard staying up later burned more calories than sleeping, is that a good thing?

All of the recent research on sleep can be a little confusing. Scientists found that people getting a full night's sleep were more successful in their weight loss. But recent studies did show that an all nighter burned about 160 calories more than going to sleep. On the surface this looks like a good thing but researchers say it’s no weight-loss miracle: The body tries to make up for the deficit by saving more energy than usual the next day and night, researchers report in the January Journal of Physiology.

Pulling an all nighter continues to cause issues with sleep even when you try to make up for the sleep deprivation. After staying up all night, volunteers burned about 28 fewer calories during eight hours of recovery sleep than they had during a full night of regular sleep. And the energy conservation didn't stop there. In the 24-hour period during which people caught up on missing sleep, they burned about 228 fewer calories than during a comparable period in which they were sleep-deprived. Overall, when people slept normally, they expended 96 more calories than they did on days when they were making up for lost sleep.

This is a great example of looking carefully at research before running off with incomplete conclusions.

Source: Science 1/19/11
C.M. Jung et al. Energy expenditure during sleep, sleep deprivation and sleep following sleep deprivation in adult humans. Journal of Physiology, Vol. 589, January 2011, p. 235 DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2010.197517

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dirty Money?

Dirty money usually is associated with illegal transactions but in this case it is referring to the bacteria living on currency.In a new study, Frank Vriesekoop and other researchers compared the germ populations found on bills of different countries. Vriesekoop is a microbiologist at the University of Ballarat in Australia. He led the study, which compared the germ populations found on money gathered from 10 nations. The scientists studied 1,280 banknotes in total; all came from places where people buy food, like supermarkets, street vendors and cafes, because those businesses often rely on cash.

Overall, the Australian dollars hosted the fewest live bacteria — no more than 10 per square centimeter. A square centimeter is a unit of area that is almost equal to the size of the nail on a child’s index finger. Chinese yuan had the most — about 100 per square centimeter. (Imagine 100 germs on your fingernail!)

Most of the germs on money probably would not cause harm. While six types of currency were germier than the United States dollars, U.S. dollars were the most likely to carry E. coli, a bacterium that usually lives in the intestines of animals (including humans). E. coli is largely responsible for food poisoning: People who eat food contaminated with this germ can get very sick.

Source: 1/19/11

I got the chicken pox vaccine but still got chicken pox, why?

Before 1995, chicken pox was a routine part of growing up. But in that year, scientists introduced a vaccine in the United States. A vaccine is a mixture, usually a liquid, which contains small amounts of a virus or bacterium. Vaccines help prevent dangerous and infectious diseases. The single-shot chicken pox vaccine has shown to prevent the disease in 80 to 85 percent of the children who receive it, according to Science News. Unfortunately, you must have been in the 15-20% of the people where the vaccine did not do it's job.

In 2006, people were advised to start getting two doses of the vaccine to keep chicken pox at bay. This recommendation was made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Source: 1/19/11

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Do People Really Read Menu Nutrition Information?

As a dietitian I had hoped so - the whole purpose of a restaurant nutrition information is to help you make better food choices but...Duke-National University of Singapore (NUS) Graduate Medical School researchers compared the food-purchasing behavior at restaurants within King County, Washington (Seattle) that had mandatory nutrition information posted to those outside of King County, which did not add nutritional labels.

After 13 months, they found no change in the average number of calories per transaction at the restaurants in King County relative to the restaurants outside of King County. It appears that the customer had their mind made-up before they even entered the restaurant and they were not influenced by the on-site nutrition information.


Where are the most bacteria found?

Interesting question! According to a research project funded by Clorox bleach, the highest risk job for coming into contact with a lot of bacteria is a teacher!

Here is the list, going from careers with the most to least germs on workspace surfaces:

4.Radio DJ
6.Television producer
University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba, PhD, and colleagues did the dirty work. The Clorox Company funded the study and reported the results. These findings are part of a large research project by Gerba on "Germs in the Workplace."

Average bacteria per square inch of workspace surfaces ranged from 17,800 for teachers to 900 for lawyers, according to the report, which doesn't specify which bacteria were found.

According to the study, desks and tables in the classroom are breeding grounds for bacteria. Keyboards and "mice" ran a close second for those nasty prokaroytes.

SOurce: WebMD

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Who Takes More Supplements - Boys or Girls?

According to the results of a survey published in the Journal of Nutrition, more women/girls than men/boys were supplement users, with 44 percent of males listed as users, compared with 53 percent of females.

The results from the survey showed that:
* 49 percent of the US population use dietary supplements

* 33 percent of users took a multivitamin-multimineral supplement

* 28-30 percent of users reported taking a supplement that contained the
vitamins A, B-6, B-12, C, and E

* 26-27 percent of users reported taking a supplement that contained zinc and

* 18-19 percent of users reported taking a supplement that contained chromium,
iron, and selenium

* 20 percent of adults use a supplement containing at least one botanical
(plant) ingredient.

Source:Source: Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.3945/jn.110.133025
“Dietary Supplement Use in the United States, 2003–2006”
Authors: R.L. Bailey, J.J. Gahche, C.V. Lentino, J.T. Dwyer, J.S. Engel, P.R. Thomas, J.M. Betz, C.T. Sempos, M.F. Picciano

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Can you safely eat bugs?

Eating bugs sounds like a Fear Factor story line but in fact many cultures regularly consume insects. For example, in Brazil generations of indigenous people treated the ants as a protein substitute for fish and monkeys. Today, residents of Brazil buy the ants and value them not only for their protein, but also as an aphrodisiac and source of natural antibiotics.

Residents of this town 190 miles from São Paulo have kept alive the ancient indigenous tradition by cooking and serving the ants with traditional Brazilian dishes. These are no ordinary ants scampering over sugary leftovers, like the tiny American variety. Içás are big — up to an inch in length — and fat, and they can bite viciously. The ants frequently bit when being caught and it's not unusual to see men whose hands are typically bloodied after a day of catching them.

In the local resturants, the ant delicasy costs about $12 for a large plate of içás fried in pig fat.

Source: New York Times, 1/4/11

Are Food Allergies as Common as Environmental Allergies?

Food allergies are definitely on the rise but probably aren't as common as environmental allergies. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three million school-aged children in the U.S. had a food allergy in 2007, which was up 18 percent from 10 years earlier.

No one is sure why food allergies are being diagnosed more frequently. One theory is that changes in kids' diets are a contributor. Another theory, known as the "hygiene hypothesis," holds that modern cleanliness provides less exposure to germs early in life and may make the immune system more prone to attack normally benign substances, including food proteins.

Source: Reuters Health 12/29/10