Whey beneficially affects diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk factors in obese adults Eat cheese!

Gervais, cheese, wine

New evidence shores up findings that whey protein, which is found in milk and cheese, could have health benefits for people who are obese and do not yet have diabetes. The study, which appears in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research, examined how different protein sources affect metabolism.

Lars O. Dragsted, Kjeld Hermansen and colleagues point out that obesity continues to be a major public health problem worldwide. In the U.S. alone, about 35 percent of adults and about 17 percent of children are obese, a condition that can lead to a number of health issues, including cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. One risk factor for cardiovascular disease in people who are obese is high levels of fat in their blood after meals. But recent research has found that these levels partly depend on the kind of protein included in the meal. Studies have suggested that whey protein can lower the amount of fat and increase insulin, which clears glucose in the blood, keeping sugar levels where they’re supposed to be. But the details on whey’s effects were still vague, so the team took a closer look.

They gave volunteers who were obese and non-diabetic the same meal of soup and bread plus one kind of protein, either from whey, gluten, casein (another milk protein) or cod. The scientists found that the meal supplemented with whey caused the subjects’ stomachs to empty slower than the others’. These subjects also had lower levels of fatty acids in their blood after meals but higher amounts of the specific types of amino acids that boost insulin levels.

No doubt there will be both more specific – and broader – schemes of research following on from this work. If anything, this speaks directly to the Mediterranean Diet once again. I would especially recommend boiled milk cheeses like mozzarella, scamorze and ricotta.

But, those are just my Italian genes speaking. 🙂

Big Dairy + Nanomaterials = Microscopic pieces of stuff in your food

The rapid emergence of nanotechnology suggests that size does, indeed, matter. It turns out that if you break common substances like silver and nickel into really, really tiny particles—measured in nanometers, which are billionths of a meter—they behave in radically different ways. For example, regular silver, the stuff of fancy tableware, doesn’t have any obvious place in sock production. But nano-size silver particles apparently do. According to boosters, when embedded in the fabric of socks, microscopic silver particles are “strongly antibacterial to a wide range of pathogens, absorb sweat, and by killing bacteria help eliminate unpleasant foot odor…”

According to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies—a joint venture of Virginia Tech and the Wilson Center—there are more than 1,600 nanotechnology-based consumer products on the market today. If SmartSilver Anti-Odor Nanotechnology Underwear sounds like a rather intimate application for this novel technology, consider that the PEN database lists 96 food items currently on US grocery shelves that contain unlabeled nano ingredients. Examples include Dannon Greek Plain Yogurt, Silk Original Soy Milk, Rice Dream Rice Drink, Hershey’s Bliss Dark Chocolate, and Kraft’s iconic American Cheese Singles, all of which now contain nano-size titanium dioxide. As recently as 2008, only eight US food products were known to contain nanoparticles, according to a recent analysis from Friends of the Earth—a more than tenfold increase in just six years.

All of which raises the question of safety. Radically miniaturized particles are attractive to the food and textile industries for their novel properties. Nano-size titanium dioxide, for example, is used as a color enhancer—it makes white foods like yogurt and soy milk whiter, and brightens dark products like chocolate. But what unintended effects might it have?

…Remarkably, the US Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the safety of the food supply, both 1) acknowledges that nanoparticles pose risks that are substantially different from those of their regular-sized counterparts, and 2) has done nothing to slow down their rapid move into the food supply.

So what’s the remedy? Rather than require rigorous safety studies before companies can lace food with nanoparticles, the FDA’s policy draft proposes “nonbinding recommendations” for such research. Even that rather porous safety net doesn’t yet exist—the agency still hasn’t implemented the draft proposal it released more than two years ago.

No one can say with scientific conviction that nanomaterials are positive or negative in their effect on the processed foods we delight in. Still, choices mostly made for cosmetic reasons shouldn’t be devoid of regulation and standards.

Next time you feel like hollering at the FDA [almost daily in my household] give ’em a nudge about this one.

Thanks, Mike

Yes – weird science can be interesting


This one is simply titled “Belly button cheese”

We’re no strangers to unusual food here at Gizmag, but this latest culinary masterpiece is probably the most unappealing treat we’ve yet come across. Dubbed Selfmade, the cheese in question is made from human bacteria which derives from samples taken from people’s armpits, toes, and noses.

The Selfmade cheese is the work of scientist Christina Agapakis and scent expert Sissel Tolaas, and is being exhibited as part of the Grow Your Own … Life After Nature exhibit, at Trinity College Dublin’s Science Gallery. The exhibit also features other projects which blur the line between art and science, such as I Wanna Deliver a Dolphin: a project proposing that future humans give birth to dolphins.

Each Selfmade cheese is created from cultures taken from the skin of a different person, and the process involves a strange combination of food preparation and microbiological techniques. This results in signature cheeses which are unique to each person – such as a “Christina” cheese, and “Ben” cheese, for example.

However, if the image of human bacteria-based cheese is making you salivate, be aware that the human cheese isn’t actually available for human consumption, but is rather intended as a means of promoting discourse on microbiology.

Our readers in Eire can wander by Trinity College Dublin’s Science Gallery. The signature cheeses will be on display until January 19, 2014.

No one’s offered any recipes using the self-made fermentations, yet. No doubt one or another of the purportedly avant-garde element in posh urbane restaurants will want to give it a try.

Here comes spring!

The video shows cows being released from winter confinement to graze outdoors on the Beemster polder for the first time in spring.

Beemster Graskaas is a rare, extra smooth cheese made in April from the first milking of the cows as they leave the barn for the first time after the cold, windy winter. The milk taken during the first weeks of Spring is the creamiest and is used to create a special edition cheese to be released at the Spring Cheese Festival.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Cheese-making older than thought – 7,000 years old and counting

Scientists have reportedly discovered pottery fragments that suggest cheese-making is a much older process than previously thought. The pottery pieces, which have small holes throughout, are thought to be more than 7,000 years old and may have been used to separate curds from whey…

According to an article in the journal Nature, the pottery fragments were discovered along a river in Poland and have been determined to be the oldest piece of evidence of cheese-making ever found. The pieces are expected to help researchers further understand the development of dairy in the ancient world, which had a big impact on human history and culture.

Peter Bogucki, an archaeologist at Princeton University, said the development of dairy, especially cheese, helped the people of Neolithic age get valuable nutrients. Most adults at the time could not eat large amounts of cheese due to lactose intolerance. However, being able to separate the curds from the why solved this problem as most of the lactose remained in the uneaten whey…

A research team led by University of Bristol professor Richard P. Evershed have studied the pottery fragments and determined that they contain milk and fat residues, lending evidence to the cheese theory. Evershed’s team focused on the chemical analysis of ancient pottery to determine what people were eating at the time and how they processed the food.

Previously Evershed’s lab has found milk fats in pottery pieces from Turkey that are more than 8,000 years old. However, this study did not conclusively mean cheese was being made, it could have been butter, yogurt, or another milk product. The new study in Poland is the first to strongly suggest cheese was being made due to the strainer-like appearance of the pots.

Whatever the state of lactose tolerance of the time, it is now certain that ancient people as far back as 7,000 years ago were able to make and sustain on cheese.

Cheese, I love cheese. Delicious, portable, easy to store. And most of the time, the older it gets the better it tastes. 🙂

WWSPE?

Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, probably ate fare similar to today’s pricey health foods such as cereal, fish and seaweed, according to a researcher who has studied the country’s 5th century diet.

Food historian Regina Sexton said records kept by monks showed that Patrick, who is credited with ridding Ireland of snakes and spreading the Christian message, most likely drew his sustenance from cereals and dairy produce such as sour milk, flavored curd mixtures and a variety of soft and hard cheeses.

It is safe to say that obesity was not a problem in those days, and that the fare was seasonal, wholesome and modest by today’s standards,” said Sexton of University College Cork.

A corresponding factor in reduced obesity had to be the hard work. Field hands back then often ate 2 lbs. of cheese per day. But, they used up more than four thousand calories at work.

Having arrived in Ireland as a slave after what was probably a cold and hungry journey from Britain, the future saint most likely snacked on wet preparations like porridge, gruel and meal pastes.

Other culinary delights he could choose from included hen and goose eggs, honey, curds, seaweeds and apples, which he could garnish with a dash of wild garlic or watercress.

Fish like salmon, trout and eel or meats like hand-cured pork were also on 5th century Irish menus, while flat breads made from oats, barley, a little rye and some of the altogether more exclusive wheat, added some bulk.

“Ironically, much of the food available then is what we call ‘health food’ now, which comes of course, at a premium price,” Sexton said.

I’ll forgive him converting Ireland to Christianity.

As for the “health food” comparison – a great deal of what the article discusses is Ireland’s answer to a Mediterannean Diet. The only goodies that get expensive are some of the seafood if you live in the Southern Rockies as I do. Otherwise, I grew up with most of the same foodstuffs in New England. Maybe a bit more white bread and beef – my family back in the Outer Hebrides were cattle drovers for centuries. No doubt they got a bit of beef, once in a while.

Never say no to a panda

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Go ahead and click them. You know you want to.

Space company’s rocket test flight had secret cargo

Call it one small step for a cheese, one giant leap fromage-kind.

A wheel of Le Brouere cheese was the secret cargo aboard the SpaceX Dragon, the first commercial spacecraft to be recovered from Earth orbit, the company revealed Thursday. SpaceX co-founder Elon Musk hinted at the cargo after the capsule’s successful splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday afternoon, suggesting it had something to do with the British comedy troupe Monty Python.

The block of fermented curd was a nod to one of the group’s best-known sketches, “Cheese Shop.” The wheel, described only as “very big,” was being towed back to California aboard a barge along with the spacecraft and “basking in the glow of being the first cheese to travel to orbit on a commercial spacecraft,” company spokeswoman Kirstin Brost told CNN…

The Dragon was launched into low-Earth orbit on Wednesday from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center and splashed down about 500 miles off the coast of Southern California about three hours later. It was the first flight under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, which aims to develop commercial supply services to the international space station.

Bravo! For the flight and the cheese both.

Grayheads should eat more cheese!

Scientists in Finland have discovered that cheese can help preserve and enhance the immune system of the elderly by acting as a carrier for probiotic bacteria. The research, published in FEMS Immunology & Medical Microbiology, reveals that daily consumption of probiotic cheese helps to tackle age-related changes in the immune system.

“The increase in the proportion of aged individuals in modern society makes finding innovative ways to thwart the deterioration of the immune system a priority,” said lead author Dr Fandi Ibrahim… “The intake of probiotic bacteria has been reported to enhance the immune response through other products and now we have discovered that cheese can be a carrier of the same bacteria.”

Dr Ibrahim’s team believe that the daily intake of probiotic cheese can tackle the age-related deterioration of the immune system known as immunosenescene. This deterioration means the body is unable to kill tumour cells and reduces the immune response to vaccinations and infections. Infectious diseases, chronic inflammation disorders and cancer are hallmarks of immunosenescene…

The results revealed a clear enhancement of natural and acquired immunity

I’m really going to piss off my wife with yet another justification for keeping a slab of nice stinky Morbier in the fridge.