Why are we drawn to different colored foods? Does red velvet cake have a special taste because it is red or does it just look more luscious? Do green cupcakes on St. Patrick’s day or orange cupcakes on Halloween make that day more festive? Food that has been colored has now become a part of our way of eating. Food Dyes have been classified as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) and now are offered as powders, gels and liquids. The origins of food dyes can be traced as far back as ancient Egypt when their sources were mainly vegetable or mineral and their use was purely cosmetic. However, we use food coloring now as a visual to give the impression of quality by making an item appear richer and appeal to what a consumer might expect. Early pieces of legislation in France both in 1396 and in 1574 made it illegal to add color to both butter and pastries. In 1531 Germany went as far as calling for the death by burning of anyone who used saffron as a coloring agent. As we entered the Industrial Age around 1820 there is documentation of mercury, lead, copper and sulfates being used to color candy, cheese, pickles, lozenges and certain teas. Not only was this misleading the consumer by disguising poor quality but more importantly, it proved to be poisonous and sometimes deadly. This practice continued until the middle of the 19th century when synthetic coloring was by accident discovered while making an anti-malaria drug. This led to a whole range of synthetic colors that proved to be cheaper and more stable than their predecessors. In turn, it opened the door for use in the textile as well as the food industry. By the turn of the 20th century restrictions on the use of color additives had become totally unregulated and were now being used in all of the popular foods throughout Europe and the United States. This became common practice in ketchup, jellies, mustard and even wine. It wasn’t until 1906 that the government passed the Pure Food and Drug Act and the 80 colors in use were reduced to 7 which were considered less harmful. However, laws were loosely enforced and the number crept back up to 16 causing serious illnesses and adverse reactions. Although at present the number of artificial food dyes is under 10, there is also now in use more natural and safe substitutes. Everything from beets to carrots, grapes to paprika even insects are being used to add color. This is the result of the public demand for a greater say in what is being used in our food supply. In the future we can look forward to having a purple cupcake, a piece of green candy, a bowl of orange rice and most importantly red velvet cake without having to think about chemicals.
Moringa is a vegetable popular in Africa and Asia. It grows freely and easily in climates that are extremely hot and dry. Every part of the plant is used. Seeds are crushed and the oil is used for cooking and on the skin as a healing aid. The crushed seeds are used for water purification because they can lower bacterial content. Its roots are used for tea. The leaves contain a high amount of vitamins especially vitamin A which is necessary for eye health. It has one of the highest amounts of protein of any leafy green vegetable. Moringa also contains all of the 9 essential amino acids. The protein in Moringa is easy to digest which makes it non-allergenic.
Most of us are familiar with the word antihistamine and its ability to block the release of histamine from certain cells. Taking an antihistamine can be life-saving to a person who is having a severe reaction to an overproduction of histamines in the body. What exactly are histamines? Do they serve any purpose? Histamines play a role in starting our digestive process, controlling appetite, regulating metabolism and keeping our immune system awake by helping white blood cells fight infections in infected tissues. A certain cell type, mast cell, produces histamine and are numerous in the nose, mouth and blood vessels where they can defend the body against invading pathogens. While a histamine reaction can have a devastating effect on certain people, avoiding certain foods may have a good deal to do with preventing the over production of histamines in the body. However, the list of foods that contain different levels of histamines is quite long. It includes certain alcoholic beverages, seafood, fermented foods, seeds, nuts, teas, coffee, fruits and a whole range of baked goods that are made with yeast. Is it beneficial to cut out high histamine producing foods while so many of them are of high nutritional value? Since it is almost impossible to avoid ingesting histamine producing foods, researchers are exploring whether blocking histamine production is as important as why the body is overproducing it. They are looking into the possibility of how our gut is handling the influx of histamines once they are within the small intestine where most of our digestion takes place. If a person’s digestive tract is not operating correctly certain bacteria can convert histidine, an amino acid found in food, to histamine which is one possibility for overproduction. A second possibility is the lack of the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO). This particular enzyme is responsible for the breakdown of histamine before it is allowed to enter the bloodstream. Certain teas such as green and black as well as energy drinks and medications have been connected with suppressing this important enzyme. In reality very few people are actually histamine intolerant. Healthy individuals can metabolize histamine without any problem. Check with your doctor and explore carefully the condition of your gut. You can do this by keeping a careful diary of reactions to certain foods and environmental allergens.
- Avoid eating straight from the package. You will not be able to know how much you have eaten.
- Choose a recipe that also provides nutritional information as well as the amount of calories.
- For foods like cereal and nuts, keep a measuring cup handy so you are able to determine what is a proper portion size.
Data was collected on 2,745 children by Canadian researchers. The children selected were between ages 1 to 5 and a main factor was their height and weight. They collected blood samples and information on whether the children drank 1%, 2% or whole milk. The conclusion of the experiment was that the children who drank whole milk had a higher Vitamin D level and that the body mass index (B.M.I.) of these children was lower. The results were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Although the reason is not yet clear, it has been suggested that Vitamin D is better absorbed with a higher content of fat which is found in whole milk. On the other hand, low-fat may leave a child hungrier for other foods that are much more calorie dense.
The Journals of Applied Materials and Interfaces and eLife published reports on using algae and fish mucus as a sunscreen to protect against UV radiation. Although the idea may be repulsive to some, it is now being explored as an alternative to traditional products. It seems that many animals such as the Zebrafish, sea urchin, reptiles and birds have the ability to produce their own sunscreen protection. The compounds these animals produce are called mycosporine-like amino acids and scientists are concentrating on reproducing this so it may in the future be added to cosmetics. Most of the mucus in humans is produced to protect our inner linings and transport nutrients but with fish it is exterior and can significantly reduce damage produced by the sun’s rays. In the future is may be produced in the form of a gel or cream.
Ocean breeze will now be generating renewable offshore energy. It is a first for America and will be supplying a small island community of Rhode island. Block Island previously relied on diesel-fueled generators as a power source. The wind turbines were made possible by the combined efforts of a company called Deepwater Wind and environmentally conscious political leadership. The project is small, only 5 wind turbines, but they are capable of supplying electricity to 17,000 homes and will supply 90% of the island’s needs. At present the cost is extremely high at $300 million, it will in turn reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 40,000 tons per year. Because of the constant, strong winds blowing off the water, the Department of Energy has stated that if these turbines were placed along all our strategic waterways we could supply the country with twice the amount of energy the country needs. This would greatly reduce and possibly eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels in the future.
Studies at the University of Alabama worked with men and women in their 60s and 70s. Under supervised weight training programs they developed muscles that had a mass and strength of people 20 to 30 years younger. Unlike younger men and women who can build new muscle fibers, with age a portion of the muscle fibers in older people dies. The remainder of the muscle fibers suffer from shrinkage do to underuse. However these remaining fibers do respond and will grow with proper and consistent training. Progressive weight training until the muscle are exhausted seems to be the way to go.
According to a new statement released by the American Heart Association, aerobic fitness should be considered as a vital sign. In other words it should be given the same attention and importance as body temperature, blood pressure, pulse and breathing rates. It is now felt that aerobic fitness is a better indicator of heart disease more so than smoking, obesity and high blood pressure. Cardio-respiratory fitness, another name for aerobic fitness, is an indication of how well the body can deliver oxygen to all the tissues of the body especially the heart. However, most doctors are still reluctant to give aerobic fitness the attention it deserves. Some are unaware that a treadmill is not necessary. There are now simple equations and calculations that can give accurate levels of aerobic fitness. It is advised by the heart association to request a test for aerobic fitness the next time you go for an examination.