Fat Country: A General Guide for Different Fats

Food and nutrition can be confusing.  One such way is with fats.  There are so many types out there, and debate about if they are healthy or not.  Thanks to its poorly-moderated nature, the internet has all sorts of misinformation out there.  Today I am going to be making a short-hand guide to hopefully help you be a better educated consumer!

 

FAT:  This is a general term for boring biochemical stuff.  It comes in one of three forms in foods (I know there’s a lot of different ways this stuff can end up before or after being eaten, but this is a general short guide for any of you science people out there who want to criticize me for overly simplifying this!).  It can be found in saturated, unsaturated and trans-fat varieties for cooking.  Other forms are used in the body for various functions

SATURATED FAT:  This is the kind that doctors call “unhealthy fat.”  It plays a role in increasing blood cholesterol, which can cause damage to the blood vessels and heart.  It’s found in foods like butter and other animal products.  Typically, this is found in a solid form at room temperature.

UNSATURATED FAT:  This is the kind that doctors call the “good fats.”  It can help lower bad cholesterol in the body.  These are found in liquid form at room temperature.  Foods like nuts and avocados are high in saturated fat.

TRANS-FAT:  These are most commonly found as synthetically made fats (they can actually exist in nature, but they are pretty rare).  Essentially some food chemist does their mumbojumbo science stuff to some unsaturated fats, and it becomes solid at room temperature.  They are also more shelf stable than other kinds of oils.  However, they also increase the risk of developing heart and vessel issues.  In fact, the FDA removed it from the “generally regarded as safe” list!  This means that foods with trans-fats in them must undergo reviews to ensure consumer safety.

TROPICAL OILS:  These are things like palm oil and coconut oil.  Many people think coconut oil is a healthier option when compared to butter.  Unfortunately, this type of oil has A LOT of saturated fat.  More so than butter!  Some websites proclaim this as a healthy oil, but so far my research does not indicate that.

 

Any comments, questions, or anything else you would like to say?  Leave them below!

Stay Bullet: Why I Don’t Believe in Silver Bullet Miracle Foods

Why I don’t believe the media hype involving certain foods.

Recently, Time magazine posted an article about how the spice turmeric might not be a “miracle spice” after all.  A recent research article reported that there has not been a well-designed research trial done on the spice yet.  So, what gives?  Why is this even a big issue with food?  Can’t people just enjoy their food in peace without some asshole on the internet blogging about it?

To answer the lattermost question:  No, I blog about food, it’s what I do.  Secondly, the term “miracle food” or any derivative gets thrown out there like it’s no big deal.  Anything that might have some semblance of increasing metabolism or being incredibly rich in vitamins and minerals causes media to latch on and blow up its properties to hell.  Even Googling “miracle food” turns up results that things like chocolate are a miracle food.

The issue with proclaiming foods have mystical properties can have a variety of effects.  In the best situation, some foods can be found to be beneficial, in worst cases, it can have harmful effects.  For example, news media lists several health benefits of drinking beer.  A Huffington Post article lists some of these benefits as being high in some micronutrients, such as vitamin B, and healthier aging in women because it might play a role in improving blood circulation.

Now, I love me my local brews.  Being an Oregonian, I have access to several craft beers.  Not a hipster, though, as much as I can sound like one.  However, alcohol does have several downsides.  Alcohol can be addictive, which can lead to alcoholism.  Alcohol can also cause issues with the liver, which for those of you not familiar with human anatomy, the liver is a detoxifying organ.  Alcohol also inhibits a hormone in the body that helps regulate hydration, which means over consumption of this “healthy” beverage is detrimental.

I also hate the term “miracle food” or “silver bullet to combat _____.”  Might be because I am a hypercritical douche, but that’s beside the point.  To me, the terms imply that the food is a be-all-end-all to becoming healthy.  Imagine, a world in which all you need to do is eat turmeric (a spice in curry powder) and drink beer, and suddenly you become the pinnacle of human health!

What do you guys reading this think?  Am I off base here, or is “miracle food” an overused term that overemphasizes the benefits and downplays the negatives of certain foods?

Happy Thanksgiving!

College student explains the Thanksgiving sleepiness.

Here’s wishing my  readers that celebrate it a happy thanksgiving.  I know I for one am thankful for the break; these past few weeks have been punching my dick into oblivion with all the classwork.  For everyone else readers, well, happy Thursday to you.

One thing people believe about their upcoming meal of turkey and all the other foods out there is that the turkey meat knocks you into a coma.  It makes sense.  When do a lot of people eat turkey meat?  Thanksgiving.  But, what if I was to say that this thought process is wrong, and it seems to be more the meat is at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The theory on the Post-Thanksgiving Meal Coma is that turkey is high in the amino acid, L-Tryptophan.  Tryptophan (in biochemical terms, the “L” simply means if it is facing one way or another) is a precursor to serotonin and melanin.  Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that helps regulate things like appetite, sleeping, and mood.  Melanin is the neurotransmitter responsible for sleep cycle regulation.  So here is where the misconception is.  Everyone knows turkey is high in tryptophan, which means that eating it causes your body to produce more sleepy-time chemicals.  Case solved, let’s go get hella wasted.  But not so fast, Capt. Drunko, there is more to this case than association.

Foods high in tryptophan include red meat and cheese.  Basically foods that are in almost every single meal in America.  Which is odd, because by that logic, people who eat a cheeseburger should be passing out once they eat their meal.  Huh, interesting.  So after all that biochemical bullshit using words I learned in my biochemistry class, that was NOT the reason why people get sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner?

Well, there is actually a very simple reason that might have been overlooked.  We really need to get to the heart of this.  Or actually, more like the cardiac sphincter.  As in the stomach.  You see, digestion requires energy.  The stomach and intestines actually have muscles that need blood.  When you consume a lot of food, there is a lot of blood needed in this area, and not in others, like your skeletal muscles.  What is a good way to make sure more blood goes to the gut, and not anywhere else?  Immobilize the person.  So essentially, the reason you get tired is because you ate too much.  Kinda interesting to think about, right?

Change in the House of Food: The Upcoming Changes to the Nutrition Panel

A brief run-down of what changes to the food label the FDA is implementing soon.

There are some changes happening with the nutrition panel.  You know, that thing on the back of foods that you might or might not look at, depending on how much you care (or how much you want to scare yourself with some foods).  These changes come from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), citing things like updated research, better links between food and chronic disease, and easier readability.

Some of the changes include bolding the amount of Calories per serving, and removing the Calories from Fat information.  Labels still need to put fat content on the label, but research shows the type of fat matters more than the amount of Calories from eating it.  Instead of being required to list vitamins A and C on food labels, manufacturers are now required to put vitamin D and potassium on the label.  The amount of added sugars is also being listed, as it has been found that excess sugar consumption can make it difficult to reach nutrient goals.  Below is a picture highlighting the relevant information:

difference.png

© US Food and Drug Administration 2016

The label is also changing the serving size of many foods.  The serving size is now being based off of what people actually eat, rather than what manufacturers think people should eat.  This means some packages that are typically eaten in one sitting are now listed as one serving.  Other packages might have multiple columns; one showing per reference serving, and one showing per package.  To make sense of this, the serving size of soda is going up from 8 oz. to 12 oz.  A 20 oz. bottle would be labeled as one serving, because it is less than two servings.  A 24 oz. bottle would be dual columned, one for the 12 oz. serving, and one for the whole bottle, since people often consume this in one sitting.  Again, below is a picture from the FDA detailing the changes:

serving-sizes

© US Food and Drug Administration 2016

So, when can people expect this change to happen?  In July 26th, 2018, food manufacturers that make more than 10 million in sales are required to update to the new label, whereas those who make less than 10 million have until 2019 to comply.

So what do you guys think?  Is this change a beneficial one, a negative one, or something in between?

For more information check out the FDA website here.

What the F**k is Wrong with You?: The problem with Self-Diagnosing

How Googling symptoms can lead to unexpected problems

A lot of people often use online sources to find out what their problems are.  Hell, even I have done web searches to find out some illnesses I’ve had.  The problem with doing this is that you probably are not a doctor (unless you actually are a doctor of medicine, in which I shall shut the fuck up and let you do your job).  Using the symptom checkers can often lead to conclusions that are not quite logical for the situation.

For example, let’s say you ate a whole can of beans for some reason.  Hours later, you have a belly ache.  There is some pain in your abdomen, so you look up the symptoms.  It’s a sharp, moderately severe pain with a feeling of fullness.  Using the symptom checker, this person can have issues that are relatively severe, including diverticulitis (sacks that develop in the colon which then get filled with bacteria and poo), dermatomyositis (rare disease which causes muscle pain, weakness, and blotchy patches), or, quite simply, gas pains.

While it is important to monitor your health, sometimes a doctor is not needed.  If you are just farting a lot due to eating a whole lot of beans, there probably is not much a doctor can recommend, save for some anti-gas medications that you can get over the counter.  In more severe cases, like if you wound up having some blotchy patches in addition to the pain, then yeah, maybe see a doctor.

Looking up symptoms can also lead to hypochondriasis like conditions, and I know I have fallen into such trap.   An example is thinking the slight discomfort from eating the beans is a sign of severe gastrointestinal cancer.  Thinking the most severe situation after a short duration of time can lead to unnecessary doctor visits, which can add up financially when insurance gets involved.

Now, I am not saying to forgo going to the doctor for ailments, I am simply saying to be smart with it.  If the pain came from eating a whole can of beans, or if you have a sore, runny nose and it’s cold season, then it probably is not a severe gastrointestinal issue, or even nasal polyps.

So what do you guys think?  Has online symptom checkers helped find diseases you never knew you had, or did it lead to a trip to the doctor that was not needed?

 

Liar: How Pseudoscience Cause Problems

How can some misinformation cause problems?

You cannot go too far on the internet without finding some sort of ad or article on something that promises some sort of benefit by doing or eating some sort of thing.  You might see them on a website as an ad, particularly the ones promising extreme weight loss during a short period of time, or your crazy aunt or grandma or whoever posts an article from some website saying that GMO crops cause children to spontaneously combust or some other shit like that.

While some of these can be amusing to see, there is actually a downside.  People actually are believing everything someone posts without verifying facts.  It’s easier to read an article on popular news sites about “Bullshitexoticplant Cures Cancer!!” or diets that are “doctor approved” and promise fast weight loss, or even things like vaccines causing autism.

The problem with this is that harm CAN come from this.  Buying an ineffective supplement is one thing; the only loss is money.  However, harm CAN come from buying supplements that do not have accurate labels.  I already wrote about supplements here, so I won’t give more details.  With regards to diets, most fad diets that promise weight loss can actually cause harm.  Some cause water loss, which can dehydrate the person eating them.  Others can cause damage to the kidneys if done long-term.  Recently, the gluten-free diet has taken off, but it really only benefits those with Celiac disease, and can actually cause nutrient deficiencies in those without Celiac disease due to not eating nutritious foods, as many foods containing gluten also contain a lot of vitamins and minerals.  And my final point with the anti vaccination movement, there is virtually NO evidence showing vaccines cause autism.  Vaccines, for the most part, are safe, and are only dangerous in people with weak immune systems, or contaminations.  The main article that found vaccinations causing autism has been since retracted, as there were large amounts of data manipulation.  As for why autism is diagnosed around the time children receive their vaccinations?  That’s correlation, not causation.  When they get vaccinated is about the time children start to have diagnosable symptoms.  Vaccines are a good way to keep everyone healthy, as they boost herd immunity, which is basically how sick or well everyone in a community is.

Now, as a reminder, this is not medical advice.  I spent the whole post talking about not listening to everything you read online, and this blog is no exception.  In no way should my opinions on things be taken as medical advice.  Ask a real doctor, not some dipshit nutrition student in college.

So what are your takes on this topic?  Any interesting ads promising outrageous things you have seen lately?