March 25, 2013

Taste: Are you a superataster?

All tongues are not created equal. Certain individuals are blessed (or cursed, as we’ll discover) with what is colloquially called ‘supertasting.’ As the name implies, it means that these individuals have the ability to taste in a range that extends beyond the average person.

This discovery was made in the 1960’s when a researcher discovered a compound, phenylthiocarbamide (PTC), that was tasteless to most of the population, but bitter to a few. Several subsequent studies were done over the following decades that confirmed the discovery: it is in some individuals genetics to be ‘supertasters.’

Top 6 Ways You Know You’re a Supertaster

1. Vegetables – Studies show that supertasters are particularly sensitive to the bitterness of vegetables, especially Brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli. According to studies, the avoidance of (certain) vegetables by supertasters exists to such a degree, that they show a higher incidence of colon cancers than non-supertasters due to their lack of vegetable intake. So don’t let your kids get off that easy in the event they learned about this before you. The bad taste says nothing about the nutritional content, which stays unaltered.

2. High Fat Foods – Supertasters are generally lighter than their counterparts due to the fact that they find high fat content somewhat unappealing. Conversely, people with normal taste tend to absolutely love the taste of fat. It is interesting that such a difference in taste intensity constitutes a qualitative change, but it seems to do so.

3. Wine – The degree to which you find (mostly red) wine bitter and acidic will correlate to your taster status. Supertasters favor flavors that are not overflowing with a tart essence. Since wine (and alcohol in general) is one of the most acidic substancesyou can consume, supertasters, on average, consume less liquor due to this propensity.

4. The Tongue – Fungiform papillae are the structures on the tongue responsible for tasting. While they are visible with the naked eye, dying one’s tongue blue will expose the fungiform papillae for easy visibility. In other words, count ’em up and compare them to your friend’s. Have more? You might just be a supertaster.

5. Candy – If the thought of dropping a blue jawbreaker in your mouth to test the theory above sends your tongue into unpleasant knots, then you may be a supertaster anyways. More commonly seen in children, an aversion to sweets is a common sign that indicates that a tongue is equipped with extra buds.

6. The Test – Testing in the scientific arena eventually moved away from the more toxic PTC to a far healthier compound which displays the same taste mechanics (so as to allow the same type of testing), Propylthyracil (PROC.) The latter compound is commonly used to treat thyroid cancer symptoms, but is also the definitive solution to ascertain a proclivity for supertasting. If you would like to get to the bottom of your taste potential you can grab a package of Propylthyracil 50mg and see for certain. (And then save the rest for a potential thyroid issue!)

About 25% of the population is classified as supertasters. Are you one? Let us know!

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November 15, 2012

Mold Allergy Symptoms: What to Watch For

Filed under: food,mold allergy — Tags: , , — drwatson @ 9:20 am

Molds are everywhere. They are fungi that spread and reproduce by spores.

Most of us are constantly exposed to some type of mold without even being aware of it, and with no problems. But, molds are among the most powerful allergens and can cause severe allergic reaction to some people.

Mold allergies are common, but have to be treated seriously. An untreated mold allergy can cause more serious health issues such as anaphylactic shock, sinus problems or frequent earache.


A Little Background On Mold Allergies

Allergies are an over-reaction of our immune system to some substance that is normally harmless. Once the immune system is alerted, inflammation usually results.

The inflammatory response can be a little uncomfortable (a skin rash), or it might be life-threatening (anaphylactic shock).

Allergies to mold are no different from allergies to other thing. Mold allergies differ in intensity from person to person. It has to be treated just like any other allergy.

People who are allergic to other environmental allergens such as smog or dust are more likely to be allergic to mold. Mold allergies can be particularly dangerous for people with asthma or some other respiratory ailment.


Mold Allergy Symptoms

In most cases, the allergic reaction to mold is immediate. The most common mold allergy symptoms are:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Tearing and red eyes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nose and throat itching
  • Skin rash
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sinus pressure

If the allergic symptoms are not treated and mold is not eliminated from an allergic person’s environment, an unpleasant allergic reaction could turn into a life-threatening anaphylactic shock.  Every year more than 1,000 people die in the US from anaphylactic shock.

It is very difficult to separate mold allergy symptoms from common cold symptoms. And often, it’s even more difficult to find out what is actually causing the reaction. If the symptoms keep coming back, try to figure out what might be causing it. Or, consult your doctor, who can conduct allergy tests.


Where Mold Lives

Some molds are capable of living just about anywhere. Most kinds of mold, however, prefer warm, moist, dark spaces where they feed on decomposing organic matter. You can find molds in libraries, attics, laundry rooms or closets. And they are happily living in our gardens and sun rooms.

We do not need to know which of the hundreds of thousands of types of mold we have in our environment. If anyone in our household is sensitive to them and has mold allergy, we need to get rid of as much mold as possible, limiting their exposure.


Preventing Mold Allergies by Eliminating the Mold

Make a general inspection of your home to look for telltale signs of mold. Look for dark spots.

These mold spots are most commonly found in humid spaces like bathrooms, showers and basements. There are a few common, but very effective actions you can do without much trouble:

  • Make sure all rooms are dry and well ventilated. In typically humid rooms such as bathrooms and laundry rooms, use a dehumidifier.
  • Check your closet. If clothes do not have space to breathe, they can get moldy, especially during damp and rainy weather. Install fan or dehumidifier if needed.
  • Throw away moldy carpets, clothes, or books. They’re not worth keeping around if they can make people feel ill.
  • Try using synthetic fabrics for clothing and household furnishings whenever possible.
  • Make sure bathrooms are regularly cleaned and disinfected.
  • If anyone in your family is asthmatic, he or she should not sleep in the basement. Humidity tends to accumulate here, creating the perfect environment for mold.


Mold Allergies from Food

Some foods contain molds on purpose. People pay good money for blue cheese, after all.

If you are suffering from a mold allergy, you should stay away from foods that might contain mold:

  • Cheese
  • Sour cream and butter milk
  • Mushrooms
  • Vinegar and pickled foods
  • Meat or fish older than 24 hours
  • Breads and anything else made with yeast
  • Sauerkraut
  • Smoked meat and sausages
  • Dried fruits
  • Soy sauce

Unfortunately, not much can be done to cure a mold allergy. All we can do is stay away from foods that might contain mold, eliminate mold from our environment, and carry an EPI-pen if anaphylactic shock is a danger.

January 27, 2011

Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits

Filed under: food — Tags: , , , , , — drwatson @ 12:07 am

Apple cider vinegar is commonly referred to as a cure for just about any ailment you can think of. Could that be physically possible though? Vinegar is used for a lot of things, but there is no concrete evidence found in research to show that any form of vinegar can be used for good health.

Apple cider vinegar is made through the process of fermentation. Yeast and bacteria are added to juices that are crushed and squeezed out of apples; the sugars are then turned into alcohol. The alcohol is then converted to vinegar by an acid forming bacteria known as acetobacter. The acid in vinegar is what gives it such a sour taste.

Some health magazines claim that vinegar will do great and different things for an individual’s health. It is claimed to treat diseases, health conditions, and even some annoyances. It is said that vinegar will kill head lice, ease digestion, reverse aging, and wash toxins from the body. All of these claims have been made with little to no research.

Although many claims are made with no research, there are some medical uses that show promise:

High cholesterol – A study on rats done in 2006 showed that vinegar does have the potential to lower cholesterol. While this study looks promising there is still no concrete proof to show it is possible.

Diabetes – Vinegar affects blood sugar levels in very positive ways. Several studies show that vinegar may also help glucose levels.

Weight Loss – Vinegar has been used as a tool for weight loss for a very long time, the reason being that it helps people feel full. A recent study had people eat bread with and without vinegar which showed that those who had vinegar felt fuller after they ate.

While this looks promising, negative effects of vinegar have also been found. Apple cider vinegar and a lot of other vinegars are very acidic; this has a lot of negative health effects on its own. The acidity can harm tooth enamel, and tissue in your mouth and throat. Long term use of apple cider vinegar could lower potassium levels and reduce bone density. It can also affect people with diabetes; vinegar contains chromium which has potential to alter insulin levels.

It is unclear whether or not using apple cider vinegar is a good idea due to lack of research. Using very small amounts from time to time shows very low risk, however using it in large doses is not recommended. Using apple cider vinegar shows both negative and positive results whether or not it’s a good idea or not is up to you!

August 25, 2009

Eat With a Heavier Friend and Lose Weight

Well a recent study has shown; if you want to eat less bring a bigger friend along with you. Researchers tested students to see how much they would eat. When the researcher was a size zero, but ate a lot, the test subject ate more.

However, when the researcher put on a fat suit and became a size sixteen, the test subjects tended to eat significantly less. My theory behind this is if the test subject wanted to stay or become skinny and saw a heavier person eating a lot they would eat less because they see what could happen if they binge on food. Yet, when they see a skinnier person eating a lot their mind tells them that it’s okay to eat a lot sometimes, if this person is skinny and eats a lot, then I can do the same.

When the researcher appeared thin she had a significant boost in control over the test subjects eating habits. However, the test subjects almost always ate less than the researcher regardless of the weight.

So if you really want to lose some weight and eat less food, maybe you should bring one of your heavier friends with you. Now you don’t need those dieting strategies, most of them are unhealthy anyway. You no longer need a personal cook, or to really control yourself as much. You just need a friend that’s a little bit bigger than you.

June 30, 2009

3 Reasons Why Chewing Slowly Is Better For You

Many Americans these days are cooking less often and instead, going out to get fast food. Why so many Americans eat at places like McDonalds isn’t known to me, but I would assume it is either due to a lack of cooking skill, or simply because it is convenient. Whatever the case may be, fast food has changed the way we eat quite significantly.

Many of us tend to eat our food while barely tasting it. This does not only take away from the enjoyment from eating the food, but it also has some negative health outcomes. Here are three reasons why chewing your food slowly is better for you.

Improves Digestion- Chewing slowly helps break down the food in your mouth, where digestion actually starts. The more the food is chewed the easier it is for your stomach to further breakdown the food. Also, taking that additional time to eat your food means that you’re not eating an entire meal in about 5 minutes and your stomach is able to handle the food now that there is not as much of it at one time.

You’ll enjoy your food– Many brand name foods are actually engineered to only taste good after a few bites. After about 3 bites the food begins to taste bland, leaving you wanting more. However, natural foods will continue to be appealing to your taste buds because they are not necessarily engineered. Additionally, you will begin to appreciate the food for not only the taste, but things like the texture of the food.

Lose Weight– That’s right, chewing slowly actually helps you lose weight. Why? Well when you eat food it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to send a message to tell you that you are full. By eating slowly it gives you time to register that you’ve eaten enough and should stop. This prevents you from over-eating and actually makes you eat less food, but you feel even fuller than if you would have stuffed yourself in 5 minutes. Also, you end up feeling full for longer.

Information provided on this website is for general purposes only. It is not intended to take the place of advice from your practitioner.

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