Beans produce gas

Why do foods like beans and broccoli make you feel gassy?

Beans and broccoli contain sugars that the body cannot break down. These sugars are called

Brocolli_(4701218202)“flatulence factors” to fart-researchers (yes they exist). One of these sugars are ‘raffinose’. So when you eat foods like beans or brocolli, these sugars cannot be broken down in your stomach and gets pushed through to your intestines.

There are millions of bacteria in your intestine (these are good bacteria), and they feed off these sugars which results of them producing a lot of gassy by-products. There is only one way out for this gas- you guessed it!

So, why can’t humans digest sugars like raffinose?

It’s another case of ‘lack of enzyme’ to break the sugars down

(it’s similar with people who are lactose in-tolerant or glucose in-tolerant). Your body just doesn’t have the right enzymes to break these sugars down in your stomach, so it gets moved onto your intestines and this is where they interact with your good old bacteria producing that smelly gas!

Here is a really cool youtube video talking about how sprouts can make you fart!

http://www.jeffssite.net/Fart%20facks.htm

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Carrots and night vision

Can carrots really help you to see in the dark? Or are we children of tricksters who only wanted us to eat our vegetables?

eyes(Thanks to my class mates for this little goodie).

Carrots have always been associated with vision for many of us. Particularly night vision. I stumbled upon this site (1) who spoke about where this association came from.

During World War II. There was a skilled fighter pilot named John Cunningham (nicknamed “Cat’s Eyes”-for his wicked vision). Apparently, a group of British pilots claimed their carrot-rich diet was the reason for their super ability to accurately see in the dark. This story went so big in Britain, people started to grow and eat more carrots, so they could see during the common blackouts that occurred during that time. All of this was a result of propaganda, to cover up the us of artificial intelligence (radars) to locate enemies.

First off, carrots contain beta-carotene, which the body can convert into vitamin A, an essential vitamin for healthy vision.

Apparently, its found in fish oil (yay another reason why you should eat sushi maybe?- refer to previous blog) and in fortified dairy products- so from animal products BUT if you don’t eat meat, you should be eating plenty of fruit and veges (like carrots) because they contain beta-carotene. Those bright yellow and orange fruits and veges are the ones to eat! (2)

Vitamin A helps protect the surface of your eye (cornea), and eye-drops that contain Vitamin A are really good at treating dry eyes (more effective than expensive prescription eye drops). The first sign of Vitamin A deficiency is night vision blindness.Most severe cases include cornea ulcers and complete vision loss. It is rare to see this in developed countries BUT very common among the poor. With poor diets, you miss out on important nutrients, beta-carotene and Vitamin A being some of them.

So, were our parents wrong to tell us that by eating carrots we’d see better in the dark?

Half yes and half no.

So eating carrots are not completely useless for our vision, it’s important to include it in your diet BUT it won’t treat blindness and will not better your visual acuity. If you really desperately want to better your night vision, I suggest you purchase a pair of these:

night vision

(1) http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/human-biology/carrots-eyesight.htm

(2) http://www.naturalnews.com/020364_vitamin_A_vision_problems.html#ixzz2Omb2tFmT

Other brain foods

So this is only an extension of my last post- which talks about the brain food fish (in sushi) and what part of the fish makes it good for us.

Other foods I found that people claim can BOOST YOUR BRAIN POWER. (I still haven’t discovered my secret brain power), include the following:

Chocolate: According to an article (1), where they cited a study from Italy that looked at the connection between high cognitive ability and chocolate consumption, according to this study- there is a connection- Interesting, however they go on to say that consuming chocolate WHEN you’re on a calorie-controlled and nutrition-balanced diet, chocolate has the ability to improve cognitive function. Yeah I’m not really buying it, but maybe if you want to read more, check this link out (see below (1)).

-Tomatoes: Yeah, look I’m not even going to go there (see my second post titled “I hate tomatoes”)

-Nuts and seeds:  They provide you with a good source of Vitamin E which has been correlated with less cognitive decline in old people (2), which I actually think is pretty good. I eat the stuff all the time when I’m studying hard for exams. So I rate nuts. (Yay go nuts)

Others include popcorn (which I’m still unsure HOW), avocado and whole-grain foods.

Overall, I think that including a bit of everything in your diet is KEY- there isn’t the one food type that’s going to help you solve that algebra problem faster or make you work on that essay efficiently. I think the message here is “all in moderation”.

AND again, like my mum says DRINK PLENTY OF FLUID- but even too much water consumption can lead to over-hydration. Right, I’ll stop.

Happy eating in moderation everyone

-Ma

(1) http://www.naturalnews.com/037897_brain_food_chocolate_cacao.html#ixzz2OEn2ueux

(2) http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/eat-smart-healthier-brain

Sushi= High IQ

According to a completely random website I found (I am not endorsing it in any way), it claims that the top five global regions with the highest average IQ are Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore (IQ 107 to 103). I have also heard through the virtual grapevine, the reason why Japan has a high average IQ is because they eat a lot of suhi, what’s in sushi? Fish, and what’s in fish? Omega-3.

This led me on another quest to explore how fish consumption may lead to a high IQ.

Sushi_bento

Before I get into it, I would like to state that I personally think IQ tests are the worst way to measure a persons intelligence, but I won’t go on too much about that.

Back to the story, so, if I ate sushi nearly every day for the rest of my life, my ability to solve problems in a logical way will get better?  Something smells fishy here…

Firstly, before I slam these poor evidence-based statistics and stereotypes, I wanted to discuss what makes fish consumption so good for us.

Ever noticed the ads on television recommending you eat fish oil capsules?

They usually say”Get your essential daily dose of Omega-3″

It is common knowledge that Omega-3 is good for you. Ever wanted to know why?

Well you are reading the right blog my dear friend. Being the self-proclaimed neuroscientist and average Anatomist student that I am, I always like to know how factors may affect brain and body function ,especially when it’s something as accessible as food (well in the first world that is).

What is Omega-3 you ask?

In the simplest of terms, it is a fat. A good fat. A polyunsaturated fat (PUF).

They are are those really good fats that you should be consuming. The two main PUF’s are Omega-6 and Omega-3. 

So great its a good fat, what about it? how is it so good companies produce television advertisements to sell the stuff to me?

The reason why these fats are good for you, is because EVERY single cell in your body needs them. These fats assist in maintaining the structure of your cells. Also, these fats are needed to make the all important blood clotting factors- you know when you cut yourself? and the wound stops bleeding because of these clotting factors.

BUT your not-always-clever body can’t actually produce these PUFs, that’s why it depends on what you eat! So eat fish, but try not to overdose on

Okay, what happens if I stopped eating PUFs?

It would be really really hard to become deficient in polyunsaturated fats, unless you are in a state of starvation and your body has no energy, it begins to use your natural good fats to make energy- NOT GOOD. If you ever get to this point, it’s hard for your body to bounce back from it, so I suggest next time you go tramping in the wild- have some fishing skills handy, or take a pack of sushi (please don’t take this seriously).

Right, so still not connecting sushi/fish with brain function or intelligence?

Neither, but I’ll take a shot.

Sesos_de_Cordero

First things first, neurons are just cells, nerve cells to be exact. There are millions of them that make up the cerebral cortex better known as your brain, and are constantly working night and day.

These cells rely on a number of substances in the body to keep them healthy, and one of them is our good old friend Omega-3. Again, like every other cell in the body, they need them to maintain their structure, and when these cells are being developed (brain development) it needs these “good fats” to build their structure (2).

HOWEVER, your brain cells and body cells need other factors too, there is no point in relying on just these PUFS if you’re neglecting water, fiber, antioxidants and everything else. It’s a combination of factors, and yes you should include these Omega-3 rich foods (e.g. eating a tonne of salmond)  in your diet, but having more Omega-3 than your cousin doesn’t necessarily mean you have more neurons than them.

Having more neurons definitely doesn’t mean your brain works “faster” or “better” than anybody else’s brain. You need a bit of everything to keep your body going.

So back to this bold statement that Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore have a higher average IQ than the rest of the world. Okay, yes these countries are among the highest fish-consumers in the world, and sushi did originate from Japan.However, to me, most of these regions have superb education systems and are rich in culture.

So, I wouldn’t necessarily say your ability to logically solve problems  relies on your fish consumption or Omega-3 rich diet BUT this is good for you. Just don’t expect any intellectual or brain functional changes. So please don’t change the way you eat because of this. Be nice to your body.

Like my mother would say- drink plenty of fluids, eat plenty of good food, get your daily dose of Vitamin D, A, B and Omega 3 but in moderation and stay away from tomatoes.

-yes mum.

Side note:

IQ measurements are so outdated, just to prove how ridiculous this is, I thought I would put myself to the test (see link below). I got 120, I found another probably-not-even-worth doing IQ quiz and got about 130.

you can too- just click this link: www.free-iqtest.net/

1. http://www.statisticbrain.com/countries-with-the-highest-lowest-average-iq/

2. http://www.memory-improvement-tips.com/brain-foods.html

Image 1: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sushi_bento.jpg

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I hate tomatoes

Tomato Tamater- either way, I hate tomatoes.

I have no time for them. They are evil, and should not be allowed on my plate ever- EVER.

That may be a little over board, but  I did, however, come across a page dedicated to ‘Tomato haters’- check it out

http://www.tomatoesareevil.com/

So, why have some of us come to the point of hating foods like tomatoes? Is it psychological? biological?

I wanted to know more about it, because I have tomato issues.

I don’t like them whole, sliced, diced, cooked or anything that makes it still look like a tomato. However, I LOVE tomato sauce, tomato pasta sauce, tomato paste… That may be due to the added preservatives, but again- I have toma

20130314_184539evil

to issues.

So when did this happen? Was it a food allergy/intolerance?

My mother did say I use to break out into hives whenever I ate tomatoes (yeah I was that kid). I have read that some people feel a bit gassy, bloated or even worse get DIARRHEA (eww). So this led me on my quest to finding out more about the How? and Why?

One particular article I found (1), mentions that food intolerances are actually more common than food allergies (really didn’t know the distinct difference).Food intolerances apparently

result from a defect in your digestive system. So a gland organ near your stomach called the ‘pancreas’ produces a tonne of enzymes that break down the food in your intestine. The enzymes break down proteins, starches, carbohydrates and sugars.

So really, people who are ‘tomato intolerant’ (if that is the right term) don’t produce enough of these enzymes to breakdown the tomatoes leaving you with well, a whole lot of tomato juice and mush in your intestine. That ‘gassy’ feeling some people get is from the interaction of these unbreakable tomato bits with the natural bacterium in your intestine lining. The Bacteria form gassy by-products making you feel somewhat below par. So if anything (or anyone) ever makes you feel THAT BAD, of course you’re not going to like them.

This still doesn’t explain why I use to get hives as a child. Maybe an allergic reaction?

So I figured I may have the enzymes that break the tomatoes down in my stomach BUT my body just doesn’t agree with it. I did find a site (2) explaining how our usually amazing immune systems, sometimes, don’t always get it right, and in my case- a very hypersensitive immune system which will attack ANY ‘foreign’ substance entering my body, like they do to fight off viruses/diseases. In this case, tomatoes are considered ‘foreign’ and ‘harmful’ to my body, so my own body’s army attacks it and reacts like it has a damn disease (thanks body), which means I end up looking like a bright red tomato (Ha! See what I did there?).

Fortunately, I grew out of that (guessing my immune system took a walk on the wild side and toughened up a little) BUT I think my brain likes to remind me of what I went through as a child. Sort of like ‘classical condition’ in a mice lab, when you associate something mundane like a tapping sound with a  horrible stimulus (electric shock), the mice eventually learn that every time that tapping sound occurs, they will be shocked. In my case, every time I see tomatoes, my brain associates it with the bad reaction I use to get as a child. Hmm maybe.

So right now, my tomato issue is probably psychological. So any tomato in its natural form I cannot stand, but please if you’re cooking Italian food with tomato pasta sauce, I’ll have it all!

I hope one day, I can tolerate a little tomato in my salad or sandwich. I have taken the first step, and purchased my first tomato last month. Well, it wasn’t for me.

One day.

20130314_184522dead tomato

(1) http://www.livestrong.com/article/546076-tomato-intolerance-and-digestive-symptoms/

(2) http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/human-biology/allergy.htm

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A thought for food

Finally!

It has taken me a wee while to come up with something to write about, and like any other scientist, I have been trained to be objective in my writing. That needs to end now. So I will try my hardest to be more opinionated and let you know what I think and feel whilst blogging.

I want to write about things I know and I am familiar with, and even just things I want to know while connecting it to a bit of science, hopefully, making it understandable for everyone. Since I have a background in anatomy and I enjoy eating, what better thing to write about than these two?

I’ll yarn about the good,bad and ugly foods and how they may affect your body, from cravings to allergies to intolerances to cultural differences in food and really anything that’s interesting in this area! It is also an excuse for me to rant about the foods I LOVE and dislike. No this isn’t a dieting blog, I have never been on a diet, so I am the worst person to talk about any of that.

I do hope you enjoy and I am as chilled as your fridge and would love to know what’s in your fridge and in your head.

Cheers