Category: Guru Kate

May 1, 2013 Kate Lindsley

Media has been buzzing in the past year about America’s “sitting disease.” These articles cite studies that claim our society stays seated for far too long, and this is to blame for America’s national health decline and increasing obesity rates.

It is more than plausible to infer prolonged periods of inactivity can lead to increased weight and decreased energy. Many people solve this problem by buying a gym membership, and committing to make it most days of the week.

Hitting the gym for six to seven hours a week is certainly commendable. It fits within the government’s recommendations for exercise and helps burn calories.

However, if you can’t afford or make time for a gym membership, keeping an active lifestyle has been touted by recent studies to be more effective at staving off the grim reaper.

Here are some tips ranging from the mild to the most ambitious:
• Park a half-mile away from your office. Walking this extra mile can burn nearly 100 calories for most people.

• Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. Make this a habit wherever you are so it becomes an everyday occurrence.

• Keep your lunch in your car. You’ll have to walk to get it at lunch and benefit from the stroll. If you go out for lunch, pick an eatery within walking distance and bring a friend.

• Ask if your company has an onsite gym or a offsite gym membership discount. Many corporate offices have deals that may not be well advertised.

• When you need to take a break from work, instead of checking the news (or Facebook), walk up and down a few flights of stairs. The increased heart rate and blood flow can get rid of the “2:30 feeling” without any energy drinks.

• Start an inter-office sports league. Choosing a low-impact sport is most likely to get everyone involved, like badminton, and having coworkers to support you in your active choices can help sustain motivation.

• Walk or bike to work.

• Build a standing desk and install a backwards-facing treadmill. Constantly walk at a slow pace while you work. Try not to distract any coworkers with your buff calves.

Even after all of these tips, you still may say to yourself that there is simply no time during the workday to add in exercise. If this is the case, try implementing a small change here and there. The easiest tip to incorporate is to take the stairs whenever and wherever you can. If in the first few times you feel embarrassingly out of breath, don’t worry about other people seeing you. Everyone has been there, and they’ll commend your wise choice.

April 24, 2013 Kate Lindsley

Proper dental hygiene is both necessary for your social career and very necessary for the health of your teeth. Regardless of your stance in the fluorinated versus unfluorinated argument, the physical act of brushing teeth removes plaque and can help break down tartar.

Dental plaque is the secretion left by pesky bacteria festering inside the human mouth. Try not to think about that for too long, because you will always have bacteria inside your mouth no matter how much you swish with mouthwash.

In fact, some bacteria in your mouth belong there and are competitively helpful to charge out the bad bacteria. However, no method of dental hygiene can truly differentiate between these, so when you brush, you aim to eliminate both kinds of bacteria equally — and that’s OK.

Multiple studies have shown that those who brushed, flossed and had more consistent dental hygiene had lower C-reactive protein levels and lower levels of other inflammation biomarkers (signals for biological processes). Basically, those who reported higher levels of hygiene had fewer signs of inflammation.

While this link needs to be further explored in the science world, there are more concrete connections. For example, many factors play a role in the development of cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.

One of those factors is dental hygiene.

As mentioned before, dental hygiene primarily targets bacteria. Left to their own devices, bacteria wriggle in and around teeth and can make their way to the bloodstream. These bacteria can lead to atherogenesis.

For once, this word is actually as scary as it sounds. It’s the deterioration of the walls of arteries, and deposits of fatty material, which creates plaque in the arteries. These are two big factors that play into heart disease.

The link is neither definitive nor causal, but recent studies unanimously suggest a strong correlation.

Taking two minutes out of your morning and night routine to polish those pearly whites can’t hurt. Some side effects may include: a brighter smile, more positive dental visits, better breath and less pain. If you don’t already brush your teeth morning and night, consider switching for more than just your social status.

Studies have linked it to less whole-body pain (via lower levels of cycling inflammation biomarkers) and lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. It’s pretty incredible that something as small as brushing your teeth daily can help stave off this heart-wrenching disease.

April 9, 2013 Kate Lindsley

The digestive system is truly magnificent. It is self con­taining, self regulating, and ensures that all nutrients get to where they need to go. In a perfect world, it is like a city’s traffic system. This intricate system enthralls gastroentero­lists with the true majesty that is the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine.

March 27, 2013 Kate Lindsley

200380515-001Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury. Noticing that something is awry in the complex system, the wound sends out messengers from the immune system to check the problem out and patch things up.

Unfortunately, this buildup of do-gooders results in a traffic jam at the site of injury, which builds up pressure and triggers more pain receptors. This buildup of pressure is called “inflammation.”

Sometimes, inflammation can occur with the smallest injuries, such as muscle tearing from working out too hard.

However, for many people, it occurs in chronic disease states like diabetes or coronary heart disease, with no pain present. Greater levels of inflammation can be a signal of general illness.

Certain foods can increase the chemicals of inflammation, like cytokines, and some foods can increase the chemicals that combat inflammation, like prostaglandins.

But what you’d really like to know is what foods give you inflammation and are associated with chronic disease, and which ones can help heal inflammation and prevent those nasty disease states.

Eating too much fat is not only harmful to your waistline but also for your inflammation levels.

This isn’t to say that fat should be avoided (it is a necessary part of a balanced diet), but only use as much olive oil as necessary and avoid having that third or fourth piece of bacon.

In addition, Swedish researcher Stig Bengmark said most of these pro-inflammatory compounds come from refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup, because of their increased concentrations of carbohydrates. Other common sources include dairy products, bread and meat. Even fruit can contribute to inflammation because of its high levels of fructose.

If you think that the only foods Bengmark left out are vegetables and some grains, you’d be right. Considering that a diet like that would be lacking in many key nutrients (not to mention flavor and fun), Bengmark’s research suggests restricting caloric intake, increasing vitamin and antioxidant consumption and consuming more foods with pre- and pro-biotics in mind, like asparagus or miso soup.

To a normal American, these changes can be made by reducing overall sugar (fewer donuts and more vegetables than fruits) while being frugal with your caloric intake.

Also, increase foods like broccoli, sweet potatoes, kale, banana peppers, hazelnuts, because they have anti-inflammatory properties.

Decrease foods like chicken, beef or pork,  because they are typically the most inflammatory foods.

Lastly, don’t take these tips to the extreme.

The suggestions are merely for consideration in tweaking your lifestyle.

If you’re interested in decreasing chronic inflammation, try one or two anti-inflammatory focused meals per week.

If they work out for you and your family without much fuss, continue the pattern while meeting all nutritional needs, such as calcium and protein intake.

Eat with attentiveness and the rest will fall into place.

March 6, 2013 Kate Lindsley

You’ve heard correctly! Women go through life stages and hormonal changes resulting in the need for more nutrients, namely iron and calcium. All the while, women need anywhere from 200-300 fewer calories per day than men of the same body weight, height and age. This means that women have the added task of eating more nutritionally dense food than their male counterparts eat.

February 21, 2013 Kate Lindsley

Coconut oil for alternative therapyCoconut oil is a unique fat. It’s solid at room temperature, like butter, but has purported health benefits, like olive oil. Many doctors used to warn against consuming coconut oil because it looks like butter at face value.

However, recent evidence suggests that coconut oil, although it is a saturated fat, contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). These types of fats are less likely than butter to wreak havoc on cholesterol levels and can actually lead to less fat accumulation.

Now that it has a nutritional go-ahead, which situations are appropriate for coconut oil? And what kind of flavor does it impart on dishes?

It can be used as a one-to-one ratio substitution for butter. This is most fitting for a stir-fry, because coconut oil has a high smoke point and a minimal amount should be used to prevent veggie burning. Try adding only a couple of teaspoons of coconut oil. If more oil than that is needed, add olive oil from that point on.

Beware of the coconutty taste, because the strong flavor can run rampant in a dish. It would be fitting for an Indian dish, but if you’re cooking brownies for a bake sale, keep in mind that people may not appreciate the taste in the same way you do. For these situations, substituting olive oil or canola oil for butter may be more appropriate.

Another reason to choose olive or canola over coconut oil is the age of data on coconut oil. It is less than 10 years old and therefore fairly weakly established. While it is young, the evidence is compelling enough to change some doctors’ minds. In an article by Kevin Lomagino, editor of Clincial Nutrition Insight, internist Dr. Tim Harland said he would label coconut oil as “not a bad choice,” but he “wouldn’t say it’s a good choice.”

Because the substance is still rampant with unhealthy saturated fats (around 34 percent of its composition), coconut oil is still primarily a saturated fat. Therefore, it is still not as healthy as a poly- or monounsaturated fat.

This puts it into the category of a “limited consumption food,” not a miracle fat as some natural-health advocates tout it to be. It is still a fat and therefore contains nine calories per gram of oil. Although there are some reasonable health effects, it should be eaten in moderation.

February 6, 2013 Kate Lindsley

Vitamin supplements are a nice way of covering all of your nutritional bases. You pop a pill every day, and regardless of what you eat, you figure that you can’t have deficiencies. However, not all multivitamins are created equal.

January 22, 2013 Kate Lindsley

Many naturopathic practitioners have supported the alternative remedy of garlic and onion supplementation. Some suggest that merely leaving sliced onion on the counter will keep sickness at bay.

Even the Moldovan army bolstered its soldiers with rations of garlic and onion during the H1N1 flu outbreak of 2009, due to beliefs that the foods had a direct impact on the soldiers’ health.

In an essay published in the Journal of the National Medical Association, Dr. Tariq Abdullah calls for supplementation of Echinacea (an herb shown to have anti-germ properties) and garlic to the typical regimen of flu vaccinations and hand-washing to prevent the next major flu epidemic.

Species in the genus Allium— which include garlic and onion, which are related—are credited for this successful alternative therapy. Also within the Allium genus is elephant garlic, shallot and chives.

According to Kyu Hang Kyung of Sejong University in the Republic of Korea, members of the Allium genus possess the biochemical ability to inhibit the growth and proliferation of most bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. These plants can even work against antimicrobial-resistant strains of bacteria and can work with standard antimicrobials, such as penicillin, to increase germ-fighting power. That is some serious scientific evidence to back up this naturopathic remedy.

After establishing the viability of this alternative therapy, there remains the question of how to put it into use. Many people don’t like the taste of raw onions and eating pure cloves of garlic leaves you stinky for a week.

One option is to make a soup. Stew five white onions in a pot with a clove of garlic and simmer down with your choice of broth. Dash in choice herbs and spices (my favorites are oregano and sage) and serve while warm.

There is one indirect effect of eating garlic and onions. Their lingering odors keep people from getting too close to you, and proximity to your peers is directly related to the contagion of sickness.

If you can keep people from being constantly cozied up to you, then the chance of avoiding the common cold or flu are significantly raised

Now back to that old wives’ tale of leaving a cut onion in the house to prevent the flu, mentioned in the beginning of the article.

The story goes that if you cut an onion and leave it on your counter, it’ll absorb the bad air and germs to prevent you from breathing them in. Proponents of this notion say that when the onion turns brown or black, it is from absorbing all of the bacteria and fungus.

This is totally false. The brown and black colorations are a sign of the natural decay process, which can occur without human-hosted germs. The myth originates from the age of the Bubonic plague, and if an onion could have stopped that from spreading, history would be quite different.

Not only will leaving cut onions on your counter not trap viruses or bacteria, but it’ll stink up your kitchen and no one will come visit you.

However, if you roast a clove of garlic and put it on a pizza, you’ll have people come and wait hours to eat your food. Just ask Moose’s Tooth.

December 3, 2012 Kate Lindsley

In the past 100 years, the primary method of measuring calories has not changed course. The Atwater method uses classical knowledge about how food is metabolized via fats, protein and carbohydrates.

November 12, 2012 Kate Lindsley

Boiling this question down to the molecules, ethanol itself does not carry any benefits. Ethanol is the “active” ingredient in vodka, gin, wine, rum and other alcohols. It requires special detoxification by the liver when ingested so it doesn’t poison the drinker. In people without the detoxifying protein called “alcohol dehydrogenase,” drinking any amount of ethanol can cause a massive reaction including gut-wrenching pain, because ethanol is a biological toxin.

November 5, 2012 Kate Lindsley

The word “Paleo” in the term “Paleo diets” is short for “Paleolithic,” or the early part of the Stone Age when primitive stone tools were used. Proponents of the Paleo diet say that our gut evolved to eat red meats high in saturated fats. Biochemically, it is akin to the Atkin’s diet: fat and protein with very limited carbs.

In Paleo diets, there are rules about how raw the meat should be, where it is sourced from, how often you eat it and what to cook it with. Some folks follow Paleo books like a bible while others take a few key points and incorporate it into their diet.

To support moderation, I choose the second group as the healthier one. There are some great takeaway points from the Paleo camp.

For one, the Paleo diet prohibits consumption of packaged or processed foods. Packaged foods often have high levels of preservatives and sugar, and processed foods can have awful amounts of salt. Overconsumption of sugars has been linked to Type 2 diabetes and overconsumption of salt can lead to heart disease. Eating Paleo avoids these harmful additives and improve overall health.

In addition, Paleo followers tend to pay stringent attention to the sources of their food. This is a great tool for anyone looking to increase overall wellbeing. Grass-fed beef has more unsaturated fat than its corn-fed siblings, more antioxidant vitamins and is lower in overall calories.

Some proponents of Paleo say it goes beyond a diet to a full-fledged lifestyle. These modern-day cavemen and cavewomen attribute their weight loss and healthy demeanor to eliminating all sources of external stress (no alarm clocks) and increasing natural exercise (barefoot running).

However, eating unlimited amounts of saturated fats goes against everything I’ve learned in my Dietetics courses. For that matter, eating unlimited amounts of anything is not great advice — but especially saturated fat.

Although some saturated fat is necessary in our diet, consuming spoonfuls upon spoonfuls of coconut oil is not the way to go. Increased saturated fat consumption has been linked to three of the biggest health problems in our nation: heart disease, diabetes and cancer. This is simply one aspect of the Paleo diet I cannot support, at least until vast research has been done on the subject.

And cutting out all cereal grains and legumes? Not a great plan. There are some cereal grains that are perfectly healthy, and there is anthropological evidence that our ancestors ate them. Consider the “ancient” grain of amaranth. It’s high protein, high fiber and has twice the calcium of milk. Cutting out legumes is a bad idea for the good bacteria in your gut and your wallet. Beans are cheap, easy and help keep that good bacteria thrivingg.

With these details in mind, it is important to note that every gut is different. Every body is different and therefore requires different ratios of nutrients. For some people, Paleo is the way to go. For the rest of us, we can maintain our current lifestyle while channeling our inner Flintstone.

October 29, 2012 Kate Lindsley

Non-stick cooking spray takes advantage of the bio-molecular properties of food. Oil is a non-polar substance, which means that it won’t bind to polar substances, like water or your stainless steel cooking pan!

To wrap your head around non-polar and polar interactions, think of the non-polar molecules as people without Facebook accounts and the polar molecules as people with Facebook accounts. Within Facebook, the non-Facebookians cannot interact with the Facebookians.

This works the same way with the biomolecules — polar molecules can interact and have a great time, while non-polar molecules are left in the dust to interact amongst themselves. In the case of the baking dish and the non-stick spray, the baking dish is polar and the non-stick spray is non-polar.

Most non-stick sprays are made of essentially the same ingredients: oil, water, propellant and an emulsifier to force those non-polar and polar dudes together. In our Facebook example, an emulsifier would be old-school social activities, like a game night or a walk in the park — a common denominator that everyone can get on board with, no matter if they had a Facebook account.

Some brands, like PAM, add dimethyl silicone, an anti-foaming agent. Because I’ve never seen a non-stick spray foam, I can’t attest to why this is necessary. The chemical’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS, which defines the safety standards in chemistry labs) notes that it has little chance of harming you.

Taking all that into consideration, non-stick spray is safe. Moreover, it’s a smart choice in comparison to spreading olive oil or canola oil on your pan.

Although non-stick sprays are made with canola oil, the amount that is dispersed per spray is so small that it contributes a negligible amount of calories. For a one-second spray, that’s about seven calories — less than a gram of fat.

However, if you pour a half-teaspoon of canola oil into the dish and spread it around, that’s 60 calories. Not to mention that oil is rarely measured with preciseness when you’re pouring it from the jar, and oftentimes the amount poured exceeds the necessary amount.

If you cut 50 calories per meal per day for a year by using non-stick spray instead of pouring oil, that’s 54,750 calories cut out in total. That equates to around 15 pounds lost. Even if you just substitute the cooking spray for one of your meals per day, that’s still 5 pounds gone in a year.

If you’re still hesitant about buying the non-stick spray because of the propellant or because your great aunt’s hairdresser told you that it causes cancer, there is a happy medium.

At most quality cooking stores, you can purchase an oil spritzer. Fill it with your favorite oil (healthy ones include grape seed, canola and flaxseed), pump a couple times to build pressure and spritz your pans.

October 15, 2012 Kate Lindsley

Midterms! Well, the stress that they produce anyway. This stress leads to oxidative stress, the primary cause of graying hair. Hair without oxidative stress or artificial dyes is colored by concentrations of melanin, the pigmented compound in your skin that protects it from UV light. The type and amount of melanin determines if you have blond, red or brown hair.

October 11, 2012 Kate Lindsley

The term “food additives” is so broad that if it were a tarp, it could protect all of Anchorage from the winter’s snowfall. It covers wood pulp cereal, orange juice concentrate packets, nitrates in lunch meat, chemical preservatives and anti-caking agents found in spices.

Just to be clear, not all of these spell bad news. Of course, the closer the food is to nature, the better it will be for you. However, some people get so carried away by this fact that they insist on eating the grapes off the vine that they growing on, or cuddling in the garden with their baby bok choy.

For those of us without a garden to roll around in, additives are inevitable in pre-packaged foods. And sometimes, that’s ok. Wood pulp is in fast-food cheese, bagels, ice cream and essentially everything processed. Why? To add texture and heft.

Wood pulp is essentially indigestible fiber from wood shavings. Which is totally natural and safe, provided the wood shavings weren’t put through chemical havoc. Heck, fiber can prevent two of America’s biggest killers: heart disease and cancer (specifically, colon). If anything, consumers should be upset because adding wood pulp decreases the overall ratio of real food to fake food, and therefore the shopper gets less bang for the their buck. But health wise, wood pulp is nothing to be freaked out by.

On the flipside, some additives spell straight-up bad news. Like sodium nitrite, added to deli meats to prevent botulism. Preventing botulism sounds pretty stellar, until you find out that sodium nitrite is a possible carcinogen, according to its Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). In addition, it can cross the placental barrier.

The upside to nitrites is that, for the most part, they’re disclosed on meat packages in the ingredients label. This, too, goes for anti-caking agents. As a little survey experiment, I chose six packaged foods and spices from my kitchen that I suspected would contain anti-caking agents (spices and breadcrumbs, mostly).

I looked for a number of known anti-caking agents, including sodium bicarbonate, powdered cellulose, silicon dioxide, calcium silicate, calcium aluminosilicate, and tricalcium phosphate. There are at least twice as many anti-caking ingredients listed on various websites, so check those out if you’d like some more guidelines.

To my chagrin, only the Johnny’s Garlic Spread & Seasoning had an anti-caking agent and it was clearly identified in the ingredients list. For the most part, anti-caking agents are safe as small ingredients in food.

Take a look around your kitchen for these ingredients. The public has spoken on what they will buy with food additives and food companies responded. Better disclosure on food additives and more brands bragging banning additives are great examples of how consumers drive food production and marketing. Keep speaking up about what you want changed in food and watch it become the future.

October 2, 2012 Kate Lindsley

I’m impressed you can even find the use-by date. More often than not, I find myself turning canned corn over and over, only to find a few faint numbers printed between the rungs of the tin can. But, if you are lucky enough to find a use-by date, it doesn’t mean much.

That ruling actually comes to us from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Safety Inspection Service. The USDA website states, “‘use-by’ dates usually refer to the best quality and are not safety issues.” The line to be drawn between “quality” and “safety” is a bit hazy.

For example, if you leave milk on the counter, you can bet it’ll lose quality. Chunky milk is not quality milk. But is it unsafe to drink it on a dare? Not particularly. Milk chunks are the precursor to cheese and yogurt. It’s just nasty to eat milk chunks before they get to the yummy stage.

The chunky milk debacle brings me to another topic in food safety: shelf-stable foods versus foods that require refrigeration. Certain foods, like raw meat, carry the fairly large consequence of potential food poisoning if you don’t treat their “use-by” or “sell-by” date with respect. Bacterial growth is also possible if you leave the raw meat on the counter for too long.

On the other hand, shelf-stable foods can be safe for 2-5 years sitting in a pantry. They’re more likely to be fine a few months after their “use-by” date, as long as the cans don’t have dents and the cartons of shelf-stable milk haven’t been opened or broken in any way.

In fact, labeling a “use-by” or “sell-by” date isn’t even a federal law, except on infant formula. It’s required by 20 states, but besides that there is a lot of variation in food labeling.

This piece of advice should go for all Guru Kate articles, and particularly when it comes to food safety: use your best judgment.

If the Italian salad dressing no longer looks or smells like it should, don’t use it. If the can of chili from the back of the pantry has so much dust on it that you can barely read the label, maybe it’s time to throw it out. If the orange juice starts to smell like it belongs in a flask, put it in a flask — just kidding!

When in doubt, toss it out.

September 24, 2012 Kate Lindsley

Both dry scalp and dandruff make can result in snowy shoulders. However, their sources are fairly opposite.

Dandruff comes from over-production of sebum (oil) in your scalp, which feeds a nasty fungus known as Malassezia. This fungus mixes with dead cells, which then slough off and make a mess.

Dry scalp, on the other hand, comes from under-production of sebum. This makes the skin cells around the hair follicles fall away from each other and sprinkle all over.

It is important to differentiate color between flakes. Flakes from dandruff can be light yellow to orange. These colors come from the fungus. However, dry scalp flakes are simply white.

Cold, wintry weather can exacerbate both dry scalp and dandruff, so it’s important to keep good hygiene as freezing temperatures approach. Washing your hair frequently can prevent your own personal case of termination dust. Shampooing your hair can help keep dandruff fungus from accumulating, and conditioning your scalp will help moisturize the skin cells to prevent dry scalp.

When regular shampoo and conditioner doesn’t work, it is likely dandruff is a more serious problem that can’t be addressed by this guru. Seeking advice from a dermatologist is the next best step.

The dermatologist will possibly prescribe a shampoo with an active ingredient like zinc pyrithione. This anti-fungal will block a membrane transporter in the fungus, which disables its ability to utilize energy.

If the dermatologist would prescribe zinc pyrithione, why don’t I just use it to prevent dandruff before it happens?

Zinc pyrithione is old science. It was discovered in the 1940s.

Recent studies point to the notion that the mere presence of fungi on the scalp is not bad. In fact, there is an entire group of fungi (in the Ascomycota phylum) which cause no problems and are naturally found in the scalp.

When shampooing with an anti-fungal shampoo, the zinc pyrithione can’t differentiate between the fungi that is harmful and the fungi that is just hanging out.

Lastly, even if you have these fungi on your scalp, you may not be at risk for dandruff. Keep in mind that the fungus needs the sebum to feast on, so if you don’t have an oily scalp, you’re likely in the clear.

September 17, 2012 Kate Lindsley

Some soaps contain an antibacterial agent called triclosan. The organic compound has been rumored to make free radicals (tissue-damaging atoms) in your body’s cells, which causes cancer.

The ironic part about triclosan and soap is that the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for triclosan says that when it comes in contact with skin, wash it off with soap and warm water. It’s fairly assured that if you’re already washing your hands, that step is taken care of. Safe!

Well, except that triclosan’s a banned Occupational Safety and Health Administration substance, because it can cause liver disease. However, humans are essentially unaffected by small doses of triclosan, at least when it’s applied to the skin.

Oh, and if you eat it, you need to seek medical attention.

We aren’t talking about washing your mouth with soap here — some toothpastes have triclosan in them as an active ingredient, because it can prevent gum disease.

Rest assured, though. The MSDS notes that low exposure in humans rarely causes liver disease, and the Food and Drug Administration allows for minimal human consumption.

Human consumption. This is quite different from fish consumption, which is inevitable when you deal with watersheds, rinsing of antibacterial soap and leaching triclosan into local streams and rivers.

Triclosan is not biodegradable and is “very toxic to aquatic organisms.” Overall, the bottom line of antibacterial soap is that it is not harmful to humans or their livers, but there is a potential for it to hurt our fishy friends.

Besides, there isn’t any assurance that antibacterial soap is any better than regular hand wash that utilizes sodium laureth sulfate, a common detergent.

In an article by Jane Zhang, Wall Street Journal reporter, the FDA found no link between using antibacterial soap and a decrease in infectious disease.

In fact, some experts consider antibacterial soap an indirect concern for humans. This is because they kill off the susceptible bacteria but leave the strong ones behind, and only the strong ones survive to give rise to a new series of antibacterial-resistant strains. Yikes!

When it comes down to it, using regular old soap (sans triclosan or other antibacterial agents) will do the job just fine.

September 11, 2012 Kate Lindsley

What’s with people bashing potatoes lately? I thought they were vegetables!

First of all, potatoes can be a healthy side dish if prepared correctly. This means that you must eat them with the skin on and without butter, sour cream, cheese, salt or bacon.

September 4, 2012 Kate Lindsley

Although switching to your niece or nephew’s silverware can cause a dent in your dignity, there are a few reasons why switching to smaller utensils works for permanent weight loss.

Eating with smaller utensils — and a smaller place setting altogether, actually — makes you more mindful of the food you eat. Using a petite spoon and fork requires a bit more concentration of the task at hand.

This level of concentration helps with feeling fuller, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011. In this study, when participants were distracted while eating (likely with their big-kid utensils), they were not aware when they were full and therefore ate more food.

The awareness of being full is linked to the speed at which we eat. It takes the brain a full 20 minutes to process that the stomach is full. This is due to the slow nature of the satiation-signaling hormone leptin.

But most people eat their share of a meal in less than 20 minutes, especially if they’re in a rush. The connection between putting less food in your mouth with each bite and eating slower is indisputable; if you need to take two or three small bites to equal one normal bite, you’ve slowed your eating time down.

Also, the amount of bites you take increases the amount of pancreatic juices secreted. This can be the most complicated part of the whole explanation, so stay with me.

Even before you’ve put food in your mouth, your intestines are at work. Say you’ve just smelled some awesome kettle corn (fair time, anyone?). Your stomach knows food is on the way and it gets ready to digest the snack.

When you start chewing, even more digestive chemicals are released by the pancreas to help move things along. Once you swallow and your stomach starts churning up the popcorn, the rest of the juices squirt into the the upper part of the small intestine known as the duodenum.

All of these reactions take time. Therefore, the more bites you take, the more gastric juices are secreted, and the better digestion goes overall.

Well, at least as good as digestion can go with a stomach full of kettle corn.

The mindfulness of eating, the time it takes to eat a meal with pint-sized flatware and the proper activity of your digestive tract are all part of the trick designed to fool your body into losing some permanent weight.

August 15, 2012 Kate Lindsley

Homesickness is an ailment known throughout the centuries. It was first characterized by Johannes Hofer of Switzerland in the 17th century.

Hofer, a psychology student at the time, called it, “the quite continuous vibration of animal spirits through those fibers of the middle brain in which impressed traces of ideas of the Fatherland still cling.”

Science has lost that poetic prose, but what science lost in flowery writing, it has gained in quantifiable research. Nowadays, psychologists say there are telltale signs of the home-bound blues.

The Journal of American College Health (JACH) says homesickness is characterized by, “depression and anxiety, withdrawn behavior, and difficulty focusing on topics unrelated to home”.

If you recognize yourself slipping into this dangerous territory, don’t worry; the JACH has your back. According to the journal, here are four simple ways to pull yourself out of it.

1) Go exercise! If you go to the Wells Fargo Sports Complex, see if a new “dorm mate” wants to go with you. This bonding experience will help you make new friends and release stress.

If hitting the gym isn’t your idea of a good time, take your new friend on a walk around campus. Acquainting yourself with your surroundings will make you more comfortable and can prevent getting lost during the first weeks of classes.

2) Keep everything in perspective — a college semester can be divided into three main sections.

First, getting to know your professors and schedules. Second, learning the material. Then, dreadfully, studying for finals.

Usually, once you get to know your professors and schedules, college life will be in full swing and homesickness will seem like a thing of the past. Standing idly by while life happens around you is not a psychiatry, journal approved treatment for homesickness.

July 25, 2012 Mariya Proskuryakova

Don’t you feel that you need to major in chemistry to shop at the grocery store nowadays? Most of the products there have a long ingredient list, and half of the words are almost impossible to pronounce. Then you also hear stories about food preservatives and artificial additions that are extremely hazardous to your health….

July 10, 2012 Mariya Proskuryakova

I discovered acupuncture about 4 years ago. A friend of mine, who is a big supporter of traditional medicine, asked me to accompany him to a small Chinese clinic for some sort of treatment. Out of curiosity, I decided to relieve post-exam stress with needles while I waited for him. I haven’t have acupuncture treatment…

June 27, 2012 Mariya Proskuryakova

When I moved to U.S., I promised myself to travel to every state. Now I am definitely having some doubts about Florida. I am sure most of you heard about the recent gruesome face-eating accident in Miami. If you didn’t, I will make the story short and just say that a young man was shot…

June 6, 2012 Mariya Proskuryakova

While our regular Guru is taking break from writing this summer, I decided to put my research skills at use and try to provide you with some helpful material. Last night I read an anti-sun tanning article, one that makes you think that a brief exposure to the sun will inevitably result in melanoma, which…