Eating Healthy Not All About Calorie Counting, Knowing Fat Content

Scientists from the Université Laval in Canada, Cornell University in New York and Centre de Recherche de l’Institut Paul Bocuse in Écully, France have found some fascinating information. While American appear to be obsessed with diet and calorie counting, the French are far less aware of nutritional labels. However, French obesity rates are around 12%, while American obesity rates have reached three times that amount.

Scientists interviewed more than 300 French, Quebec and American consumers with a questionnaire that was designed to see what they knew about dietary fats. French respondents said that they didn’t know the answer to 43% of the questions about dietary fats, as compared to just 4% of American respondents.

As Professor Maurice Doyon from Université Laval said when analyzing the data, “The difference among respondents’ knowledge essentially indicates that the French don’t take much of an interest in the nutrients contained in the foods they eat. The information is on the package, but they don’t read it.”

Reporting their findings in a recent edition of The British Food Journal, they found that the correlation between extensive nutritional knowledge and high obesity shows that just by focusing on nutrition does not guarantee healthy eating.

As Dr. Doyon said, “This may lead them to think of food in terms of its fat, carbohydrate, and caloric content and lose sight of the whole picture. It might be better to focus on what constitutes a healthy, complete, and balanced meal.”

Daily Activity Lowers Risk of Alzheimer’s

A recent study of 716 people, with an average age of 82, has revealed that daily exercise may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease significantly.

Study participants wore wrist monitors, called actigraphs, for ten days straight. The devices kept track of all activity in 15-second segments. The volunteers were also given annual memory and thinking tests over the course of four years. 71 of the participants developed Alzheimer’s throughout the trial.

The data showed that people who are less physically active are doubly likely to develop Alzheimer’s, regardless of age. Intensity levels of the exercise have an impact as well; seniors who performed intense workouts were three times less likely to develop the disease. The study monitored daily activity as opposed to long-term habits, which implied that a change in lifestyle even at an older age may help protect a person from the condition.

According to Dr. Aron Buchman of the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, the actigraphs could not differentiate between activities such as a basketball game or a card game. If the movement was recorded for over thirty minutes, he explained, it suggests a more intense exercise.

“The important thing is, since we measured all types of activity, it allowed an interesting perspective that even among older people who may not be able to participate in a formal exercise program, a more active lifestyle- even if it’s just washing the dishes or walking around inside- is better than you sitting,” he said. “Increasing activity level by 10 to 15 percent could be good as well,” he added.

“People who read more, go to church, play Bingo or do crossword puzzles, rather than just sit around and vegetate, will derive some benefit,” Buchman said. “The sum total of all types of activities is not only beneficial for older people, but could also be beneficial for the health care system if they can tailor programs to address the issue of older people who have health issues and may not be able to participate in a formal health care program.”


Danger of Concussions Again in News with Suicide of Ray Easterling

The issue of sports and concussions has just reared its ugly head again, as former football star Ray Easterling took his own life. Suffering from depression for years, the 62 year old went so far as to sue the NFL. In August, he joined with six other players to sue the NFL for failing to properly treat players for concussions and for trying to conceal for decades the links between football and brain injury.Ray Easterling

As far back as twenty years ago, Ray started to show signs of brain damage and to experience depression and insomnia. Just in the last year, the suicides of other famous sportsmen have been linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, caused by repeated blows to the head.  It typically leads to depression and anger, but one of the tricky things about the condition is that it can’t be diagnosed until a post-mortem exam is done.  Chicago Bear star Dave Duerson was found to have this condition after dying in February 2011.

The life-altering and extremely damaging condition is often referred to as “punch drunk syndrome” and it has been seen in boxers, combat veterans, ice-hockey players and other athletes.

Mrs. Easterling said that she plans to continue her suit against the NFL and force them to set up a fund for injured players and to educate them about the risks. As she said, “Half the time the player puts themselves back in the game, and they don’t know what kind of impact it has.”

The impact of concussions has also been widely discussed in high school and college circles, and legislation has been created to curtail these issues. Thirty two states, at this point, have laws that address student-athlete concussions according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Senator Ralph Northam, who is a pediatric neurologist and the primary sponsor of legislation that recently passed in Virginia, said that schools need more consistent guidelines on the evaluation of athletes after a concussion.

Most legislation says that an athlete must leave the competition when a concussion occurs or is suspected and that they can only return to play when a doctor or other medical professional deems them ready.

Unfortunately, it’s too little, too late for athletes like Ray Easterling.  Hopefully, however, tragedies of this sort will help to make the public more aware and to increase the checks and balances systems for athletes and soldiers.

New ExoHand Paves the Way for Automation

Festo, a German engineering company which focuses on automation technology, recently showcased their new ExoHand at the Hanover Trade Fair.

This mechanical exo-skeletal glove uses air pressure to boost the grip of a human hand, which can increase factory worker productivity as well as help rehabilitate patients who recently experienced a stroke.

Festo uses nature as an inspiration for its technological creativity, working on numerous bionic projects as well as energy efficiency, industrial training and education.

Learn more about the ExoHand:


Morrill Hall Launches “Meteorites and Minerals” Exhibit

Amethyst Cathedral Pair

This past weekend, a new “Meteorites and Minerals” exhibit was launched at Morrill Hall on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln City campus.

The event curator, Professor Robert Joeckel of the School of Natural Resources, explained that the exhibit was inspired by Roger Pabian, a geologist of the Conservation and Survey Division of the school.

Pabian, a dedicated rock, gem and fossil collector, passed away two years ago at the age of 75, and the new exhibit was established in part to commemorate him.

Joeckel said: “When Roger passed away, I felt somewhat obligated to take over.” He added that some of the minerals from the collection have a direct relation to everyday life. “The one that is most prevalent is the mineral fillers that make products what they are,” he explained. “Synthetic rubbers and plastics have a lot of mineral material in them.”

Joeckel continued, explaining his hopes that the exhibit would lead people to consider materials and their effect on daily life. “Our national security and our everyday lives depend on a flow of raw materials from the solid earth.”

Some of the minerals, however, are expensive and rare. One of the exhibit’s new purchases is the “Amethyst Cathedral Pair,’ a meteorite containing a big amethyst crystal.

According to University Museum Associate Director Mark Harris, Morrill Hall has never hosted an exhibit as impressive as this. It took over a year to organize, and the items on display were collected through various means. Some were loaned by private collectors, while others were purchased with the help of a Lancaster Country Visitors Improvement Fund grant.

Harris added that he was ecstatic about the new display. “The sheer beauty will blow people’s minds!” he said.


You Light Up My Life…Says Philips with Its New Light Bulb

Yesterday, for Earth Day, Philips unveiled a new light bulb that is lighting up the energy world. The light bulb is supposed to last for as long as 10 years and could save consumers money while helping the environment.  Philips says that the bulb consumes less than 10 watts to create light that is equivalent to a 60 watt incandescent bulb. This would be the equivalent of an 83% savings in energy.

Philips says that the US could actually avoid 20 million metric tons of carbon emissions if they all used the new bulbs instead of their regular 60 watt bulbs.  The downside to the bulb, of course, is price. The full retail price is an astronomical $60, but the AP explains that consumers can get the price down to $10 with online deals, rebates and subsidies.

Time magazine, in their article on the new light bulb, pointed out that the average American home, with 45 light bulbs, would have to spend $2,250 to replace them all and get up to speed. As they so eloquently said, “Yikes.”

Ironically, the bulb was designed as part of the “L Prize,” which is a $10 million contract awarded by Congress in 2007 to any manufacturer who could create a replacement for the regular light bulb. Philips beat out all of the competition, of which there was none, to win the award.