You are what you eat & drink

Health

Palpitations, hypertension, vomiting, convulsions and heart failure

Energy drinks could cause public health problems, says WHO study

Researchers argue for cap on caffeine levels, citing health risks, particularly when the drinks are consumed with alcohol

A European study found that over 70% of 18- 29-year olds drink energy drinks like Red Bull with alcohol. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

Energy drinks will become a significant public health problem if their use among young people is not addressed through a cap on caffeine levels and restrictions on their sale and marketing, United Nations researchers have warned.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) study said the primary risk was from high caffeine levels, which can cause problems such as palpitations, hypertension, vomiting, convulsions and in extreme cases heart failure leading to death. The paper, published in Frontiers in Public Health on Tuesday, will add to concerns about the harmful effects of excessive energy-drink consumption.

João Breda, from WHO’s Regional Office for Europe, and colleaguesThe researchers wrote that caffeine has a proven negative effect on children.

They said: “The full impact of the rise in popularity of energy drinks has not yet been quantified, but the aggressive marketing of energy drinks targeted at young people, combined with limited and varied regulation have created an environment where energy drinks could pose a significant threat to public health.”

Source: TheGuardian Read more

Advertisements

Chewsday

Quinoa protein savoury balls

These are minty high protein, low fat bite sized balls. Peppers and onions add crunchiness in the bites and sauces makes it retain the moisture.

Health Benefits:

Quinoa is gluten free with a good balance of all eight essential amino acids; it is a good choice for vegetarians.

Quinoa is also high in fibre and has a low-GI, beneficial for keeping blood sugar levels stable; it is also an ideal grain for diabetics. It is one of the most nutrient rich grains being a good source of iron, Vitamin B & E. It is a “super food” and an amazing winter energizer.

So try this veggie quinoa minty balls with salad/rolls or pasta.

Source: Chitra’s Healthy Kitchen Oh, you want the recipe, well go and have a look.


The Bingers

Stay sober? No thanks – I’m British

There’s understandable panic over binge-drinking culture, but our history, weather and the effects of British reserve mean we’ll probably carry on regardless

‘No law is a match for the centuries-old need for a few hours of joyful, rebellious oblivion.’ Photograph: Alamy

Mine is shaping up to be a varied and illustrious binge-drinking career. From the first time I got drunk, at 14 – having boldly decided that a two-litre bottle of White Lightning cider was the best way to get over a breakup (and land me in hospital) – to guzzling beer through a funnel while at university, to present-day bouts of getting hammered in the kitchen, it’s been a bumpy, sick-making ride. And, despite the fact my hangovers have begun to transmogrify from tolerable annoyances into day-long periods of apocalyptic torture, I’m still doing it. Like many others, I ignore the health risks and the horror stories, because, in all honesty, I love drinking.

It hardly needs stating that the UK and Ireland have a binge-drinking problem with the potential for fatal consequences. A 19-year-old, Jonny Byrne, died on Saturday, after downing a pint and jumping into a river as part of a game called NekNomination. The game, from what I can gather, is imported from Australia, another country that struggles with moderation (this week a young woman there inexplicably swallowed a goldfish while playing the same game). And police suspect that Megan Roberts, a teenager who went missing in York in late January, may have fallen into the river Ouse after a night of drinking.

Understandably, tragic stories such as these tend to provoke moral panic. While ministers have dropped minimum alcohol pricing proposals, the Home Office is still intending to use existing licensing regulations in order to prevent supermarkets selling alcohol at below cost. Not only are these measures likely to have an impact only on a mere 1.3% of sales, they also ignore several underlying factors. Alcohol is dirt cheap elsewhere in Europe, but in countries such as France and Italy – where alcohol is consumed regularly but in a leisurely, aperitif fashion, often while smoking and looking out on to a piazza – there is no “binge-drinking epidemic”. France (a nation that, according to World Health Organisation statistics, actually drinks more than us) points and laughs at le binge drinking across the Channel. We have an issue with so-called drinking urgency that extending pub opening times hasn’t tackled.

I have a theory about Britain’s bingeing but it is, admittedly, one that I came up with in the pub. I’ve come to believe that our small island has a unique combination of factors that results in our seemingly indefatigable urge to get wasted. It has roots in our class system, which has seen the rich stockpile wealth and the poor go from the medieval alehouses that flourished in the wake of the Black Death to Wetherspoons, via Hogarth’s Beer Street and Gin Lane.

The industrial revolution gave birth to the modern pattern of alternating monotonous, silent work with noisy, drunken piss-ups. Now we work more hours than any other country in Europe. By contrast, many French people still take two hours at lunch.

It’s the crappy weather, too, the atavistic lure of a roaring fire and the warmth of the pub on dark winter afternoons. Historically pubs gave the overcrowded, urban poor a surrogate home away from the slums, which is perhaps why so many of them still feel like someone’s living room. We’re losing some of that now, but the need for a short, sharp burst of comfort remains, and can be seen echoed in modern, competitive drinking games.

It’s also, I think, a nationwide lack of confidence, an emotional reserve. This is a cliche, but one that’s undeniable in the face of all those boozed-up first kisses and late-night street rows between red-faced people rattling with repressed anger, like pressure cookers. Combine that with the lure of the taboo created by a society that tells parents not to let their children see them drink, and you end up with a country of bloated drunkards (myself included) whose habits are impossible to legislate away.

No law is a match for the centuries-old need for a few hours of joyful, rebellious oblivion. How a government could ever go about sobering us up effectively is anyone’s guess, but I do know one thing: we’ll drink whatever the cost.

000theGuardianLogo

 


Image

Fast Food

fast food smoking


The Truth about Cackleberries

freerange-batteryeggs

Guess which is which


Image

Top Five

Top5Cancerfoods


The Fifth Dimension in the Kitchen

Umami: why the fifth taste is so important

The strong savoury flavour that makes everything from spag bol to Marmite so hard to resist may serve a vital evolutionary purpose. We could even use it to fight malnutrition. Pass the parmesan

‘Parmesan is probably the most umami ingredient in western cookery.’ Photograph: Lara Belova/Getty Images

I am often flabbergasted when I think about how humans came to develop such complex culinary skills. Granted, 1.8m years have passed since our ancestor, homo erectus, began to cook. But still, leavened bread! That was one hell of a happy accident.

Our predilection for umami – the only recently recognised (by western scientists) “fifth taste”, after salt, sweet, sour and bitter – is a fascinating piece in the jigsaw of our gastronomic evolution. Since studies confirmed just a few years ago that our mouths contain taste receptors for this moreish savoury taste (the other four “basic tastes” had been widely accepted for, ooh, a few thousand years), so much in the history of recipes suddenly makes sense. Umami is why the Romans loved liquamen, the fermented anchovy sauce that they sloshed as liberally as we do ketchup today. It is key to the bone-warming joy of gravy made from good stock, meat juices and caramelised meat and veg. It is why Marmite is my mate.

Escoffier, the legendary 19th-century French chef who invented veal stock, felt sure that a savoury fifth taste was the secret of his success, but everyone was too busy gorging on his food to take much notice of his theories. Fast forward to the 21st century and many cooks are delighted to finally see proof of what they had instinctively known. Massimo Bottura, whose restaurant in Modena is ranked fifth best in the world, served the first incarnation of his dish five ages of parmigiano reggiano in different textures and temperatures in 1995. More recently, however, Bottura says that the discovery that parmesan is probably the most umami ingredient in western cookery has enhanced his appreciation and understanding of the dish. “Five textures, five temperatures and five levels of umami,” is how he now views it.

Putting a name to a taste

Cheese and cured meats have umami in spades. Photograph: Axiom Photographic/Design Pics/Corbis

Umami has been variously translated from Japanese as yummy, deliciousness or a pleasant savoury taste, and was coined in 1908 by a chemist at Tokyo University called Kikunae Ikeda. He had noticed this particular taste in asparagus, tomatoes, cheese and meat, but it was strongest in dashi – that rich stock made from kombu (kelp) which is widely used as a flavour base in Japanese cooking. So he homed in on kombu, eventually pinpointing glutamate, an amino acid, as the source of savoury wonder. He then learned how to produce it in industrial quantities and patented the notorious flavour enhancer MSG.

What gives good glutamate?

 

Wild mushrooms, rich in glutamate. Photograph: Jeremy Sutton Hibbert / Rex Features

A quintessential example of something umami-tasting, says Paul Breslin of Monell University, who was among the first scientists to prove the existence of umami taste receptors, is a broth or a soup: “Something that has been slow-cooked for a long time.” Raw meat, he points out, isn’t that umami. You need to release the amino acids by cooking, or “hanging it until it is a little desiccated, maybe even moulded slightly, like a very good, expensive steak”. Fermentation also frees the umami – soy sauce, cheese, cured meats have it in spades. In the vegetable kingdom, mushrooms are high in glutamate, along with those favoured by children such as petit pois, sweetcorn and sweet cherry tomatoes. Interestingly, human milk is one of the highest MSG-containing mammalian milks.

Magical flavour-bomb maths

 

Double cheeseburger with all the trimmings: ménage à trois. Photograph: Jess Koppel/Getty

So why is bolognese sauce with cheese on top, or a cheeseburger with ketchup so finger-licking good? Because, says Laura Santtini, creator of the umami condiment Taste No 5 Umami Paste, when it comes to savoury, “1+1=8”. In the simplest terms, umami actually comes from glutamates and a group of chemicals called ribonucleotides, which also occur naturally in many foods. When you combine ingredients containing these different umami-giving compounds, they enhance one another so the dish packs more flavour points than the sum of its parts. This is why the cooked beef, tomato and cheese in the above examples form a ménage à trois made in heaven. And why ham and peas is a gastronomic no-brainer. And, oh dear, why it’s hard to stop popping Smoky Bacon Pringles.

Why we love umami

Sushi – with the all-important soy sauce. Photograph: Howard Shooter/Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley RF

Just as humans evolved to crave sweetness for sugars and, therefore, calories and energy, and loathe bitter to help avoid toxins, umami is a marker of protein (which is made up of amino acids, which are essential for life). This begs two interesting questions. First, why is our innate penchant for umami best served by cooked or aged foods? Breslin’s answer is that cooking or preserving our main protein sources detoxifies them. “”Part of the great digestion formula,” he says, “is not only the ability to procure nutrients, but it’s to protect yourself from getting sick while you do that. If you don’t get proper nutrition you can live to see another day, but if you’re poisoned, it can end it for you right there.” Second, why are some fruits and vegetables that are low in protein, high in glutamate? Some cases, such as mushrooms, says Breslin, we cannot explain. However, for others, such as tomatoes, it could be the same reason why fruit is so sweet. “The sugar is there so you grab the fruit and spread the seeds around. It could be that the mixture of sugar and glutamate in some of these foods is there to make them extra attractive.”

A force for good?

Spaghetti bolognese with cheese: umami triumvirate. Photograph: Christian Teubner/Getty Images/StockFood

Lacing cheap, fattening, non-nutritious foods with MSG to make them irresistible is clearly not responsible, but some argue that glutamate can be used responsibly to good effect. Breslin says one of his key motivations is finding ways through taste research to feed malnourished people. “What you want,” he says “are things that are very tasty that kids will eat, that will go down easy and will help them.” Meanwhile, Professor Margot Gosney, who chairs the Academic and Research Committee of the British Geriatrics Society is “looking into increasing the umami content in hospital food,” to make it more appealing to older people, without overdoing the salt.

When I first learned about the fifth taste, I became obsessed, seeking it out in ingredients and experimenting. However, not everyone is convinced that umami should even be classified as a basic taste. Professor Barry Smith of London University’s Centre for the Study of the Senses queries why “we need neuroscience and the Japanese” to alert us to it, when tastes such as salt and sweet are clear as day. “If you think of what has umami,” he says, “it’s not obvious that there’s something in common with all these things,” and in lab tests, westerners struggle to consciously detect it.”

Do you savour the umami in foods, or is the concept meaningless to you? And where do you stand on the MSG food additive debate?

000theGuardianLogo

 

 

 


One of the Great Mysteries

Marmite or Vegemite, which came first, the chicken or the egg.

In New Zealand I grew up with Marmite, but across the ditch (Tasman Sea) Vegemite reigned supreme. To me Vegemite tasted funny.

The slow spread of Vegemite

Vegemite started as a wartime substitute for Marmite, but it’s now as symbolic of Australia as Sydney Harbour Bridge and the koala. How did this salty spread become so popular?

What’s the link between German U-boats, the beer industry, processed cheese and the Men At Work’s 1983 hit, Down Under?

The answer is, they all played a part in turning Vegemite from a humble yeast spread into an Australian icon. Stop any Aussie on any street, anywhere in the world, and they will have a view on Vegemite – for, or against.

Now, on the eve of its 90th birthday, the first official history has just been published. The Man Who Invented Vegemite is written by Jamie Callister, grandson of the man who created it.

“My grandfather Cyril created something that all Australians associate with their childhood. It never leaves you,” he says.

Vegemite’s inventor Cyril Callister

The story really begins in the late 19th Century, when an edible by-product was first extracted from the yeast used by brewers to make beer. In 1902, Britain’s Marmite Extract Food Company came into being, taking its name from the French word “marmite”, for large pot.

Marmite was sent around the world, including to Australia. But during World War I, those exports were badly interrupted by German U-boats attacking merchant ships.

“Supplies of Marmite all but dried up, leaving Australians desperate for the spread that many had come to love,” says Callister. “They needed to find an alternative.”

That’s where Cyril Callister comes in.

Born in 1893 in rural Victoria, he was a clever child who went to college and became a chemist. He lived an exciting, unorthodox, life, travelling the world and ending up as a scientist at a munitions factory in Scotland.

After an explosion at the factory, Callister returned to Australia, where he met an entrepreneur called Fred Walker, who was trying to develop a Marmite substitute.

Walker had already seen one local brewer try to come up with its own version of Marmite, called Cubex. But this thick, bitter sludge was a culinary and financial disaster.

Walker put Callister on the case in 1923, and by the end of the year, the pair were confident they had a finished product. Walker decided to launch a competition so the public could name it and claim a £50 prize. Hundreds entered and it was Walker’s daughter Sheila who pulled the word Vegemite out of a hat.

Like the product itself, the name stuck. But sales were sluggish.

Walker had heard about an ingenious Canadian called James Kraft, who had perfected what came to be known as processed cheese. It was a sensation, as it allowed people who couldn’t afford fridges to store cheese for much longer periods.

In 1924, Walker met Kraft in Chicago. The two men got on well and Walker persuaded Kraft to grant him rights to sell his cheeses in Australia.

In a stroke of marketing genius, he offered Vegemite alongside the cheese. By the mid 1930s, Vegemite was, if not quite a runaway success, certainly a moderately well-established family staple. But it took a professor of human physiology to transform its fortunes.

Read more


Image

Simple Diet


Liquid Nitrogen Cocktails

Smoky Cocktail – The Sun

Looks great, until hit perforates the stomach.

These new fads can be dangerous. An 18 year old Lancashire girl had to have her stomach removed after drink two Nitro-Jagermeisters.

“Alcohol itself is a very dangerous thing if improperly handled and liquid nitrogen is a toxic chemical. It destroys human tissue.”BBC News

First there were flaming cocktails, burning mouths, clothes, hair and even setting whole bars on fire. Now the other extreme, all in the name of a new fad.