I first posted “The Inefficiency of Humans” in January 2017. It’s about the reasons that our energy metabolism provides only about 20-25% of the energy we consume as food for muscular work. I referred to this as our “inefficiency”, although it isn’t really that. The explanation and conclusions remain largely unchanged, but since then I’ve learned more about how energy metabolism is measured, so I’ve rewritten the post as this 2.0 version. Much of the original is unchanged.… Read the rest “The Inefficiency of Humans”
Laphroiag distillery on Islay. A group of international whisky tourists, an important source of revenue for malt distilleries in Scotland, is being shown around. The pagoda chimney is a common feature.
There is a good deal of science, and art, associated with single malt Scotch whisky (there’s no “e” in whisky in Scotland). Many of us know bits and pieces about it and how it’s made. But there may be readers, who, like me, are fans but also interested to learn more.… Read the rest “Single malt Scotch Whisky 101”
Many people like bacon. More than like milk, or country and western music, or Donald Trump. According to the website Statista, in 2018 more than 80% of Americans said that they eat it, and 18% say they don’t (1.8% aren’t sure; say what?). As an unreconstructed omnivore (I’m trying, vegans, I’m trying) I too eat bacon on occasion. And being analytically compulsive, I’m curious — how many calories does it contain? In particular, “side bacon”, the kind most people eat (even Canadians eat mostly side bacon).… Read the rest “How Many Calories in Bacon?”
This post falls into the category of “Molecular Gastronomy”. That term may be a bit silly, since everything about food is molecular. But when it comes to food there’s usually something to be said for taking a look under the hood. This will be about cooking a hamburger that’s better than what you get at your favourite fast food joint. So if you don’t eat meat, and don’t even want to read about eating meat, exit now.… Read the rest “The Science of Better Burgers”
“I think the notion of ‘calories in vs. calories out’ is ridiculous.” So begins a recent online article about diet. Typically, it cites no external sources of information for this opinion. Actually, the calories in – calories out equation is a truism; thermodynamics doesn’t make exceptions, and one way or another, those input calories have to go somewhere. But the thought underlying the denial of equivalence is usually something different, such as, why does my friend eat anything she likes and stay slim, when I can’t?… Read the rest “Calories in equals calories out?”
The present-day Gila River in the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area in southeast Arizona.
Both nature and nurture affect human obesity. For some people, and for some populations, the genetic tendency to become obese is not fulfilled because of their environment, the circumstances of their lives. But when those circumstances change, the genetic potential may be realised quickly, and lead to the medical issues that follow from obesity. An example that starkly illustrates this comes from the sunbaked desert south of Phoenix, Arizona.… Read the rest “The Gila River People, Victims of Modernity”
There’s a great book about vitamin A, “Brilliance & Confusion: Saving Children’s Vision & Lives With Vitamin A”. Okay, I confess. It’s my own book a couple of years ago. Vitamin A was discovered in 1913, but it has continued to provide surprises since. The most important of these is that it isn’t essential just for vision, which is what most people know about it. Rather, it is needed to maintain many functions necessary for health, and life itself.… Read the rest “A Great New Book”
(Image credit: Wellcome Library, London “A Man Walking”, Image V0048616, Collotype after Eadweard Muybridge, 1887.)
The idea that driving a car is better for the environment than walking sounds like the raving of an antediluvian climate change denier. Of course there is personal benefit in walking, and all of us should walk more, not less. But the sad truth is that producing, processing, and preparing the food needed to power walking consumes almost as much fossil fuel energy as driving the same distance in a car.… Read the rest “Save the Environment — Don’t Walk, Drive a Car”
A surprising link has been uncovered between cheese consumption and deaths of women from lung and bronchial cancer. This link is entirely unexpected: doctors had not previously noticed this association. Cheese contains quite a lot of fat, which does apparently have a link to certain cancers, such as breast and bowel cancers. But there hasn’t previously been an association of cheese consumption and lung cancer.
The correlation between lung cancer and cheese production
The data showing the production of cheese in the USA between 1975 and 1995, and the age-adjusted deaths of women from lung cancer are in the following graph (1):
The correlation is striking.… Read the rest “Unexpected link between cheese consumption and lung cancer”