Category Archives: Biology

Taste “map” of your tongue is a myth!

tngeFor years I have been teaching that there are various areas of your tongue that are sensitive to specific tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, sour ( and most recently umami which senses MSG).  As I was researching to once again teach the unit, I stumbled across numerous articles that basically said that everyone for years has accepted this theory of a “tongue map” without questioning the science behind it.  It turns out that research from as long ago as 1974  debunked the myth, but it continues to be taught and displayed in textbooks!

So, to those of you who could never quite understand why your taste buds didn’t fit the “test” with different solutions, you are vindicated!  Everyone IS ABLE to taste all types of tastes everywhere on the tongue, though some areas may have more receptors for specific types of tastes.  Then there is the whole issue of taste buds and whether or not you are a “super taster,” but that we will save for another time.

Here is an article from LiveScience magazine that cites some research, and is an easy read.

Keep on tasting!

 

 

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A Heart Surgeon Speaks Out

Despite decades of telling people that eating a low fat diet and substituting polyunsaturated oils (such as corn or safflower oil) for saturated fats (like butter) so that their risk of heart disease will be less, doctors have seen a rise in heart disease instead of a drop.  “Statistics from the American Heart Association show that 75 million Americans currently suffer from heart disease, 20 million have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. These disorders are affecting younger and younger people in greater numbers every year. ” (see article link)

Dr. Dwight Lundell has left his surgery practice to focus on nutrition treatment for heart disease based on  “The discovery a few years ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how heart disease and other chronic ailments will be treated.”  The inflammation is actually being caused by the low fat diet that we have been encouraged to embrace over the last 50 years.

This very interesting (and easily understood) article can be found here.  Food for thought.

 

Don’t blame the turkey!

Have you been blaming the TURKEY for making you sooooo sleepy after eating every Thanksgiving?   It is true that there is a sleep inducing chemical in turkey, but there is actually no more (tryptophan) in turkey than any other meat (or tofu for that matter!).  So what’s the deal?  Why do we all fall into a heap on the couch and miss half the game because we can’t keep our eyes open?

The answer is CARBS, not turkey.  Look at the rest of table… mashed potatoes, stuffing, marshmellow-topped sugary yams, pumpkin pie,… the list goes on.  When you put all those carbs in your body, insulin is released to manage the sugar high you just imposed.  When that happens, the amino acids that were blocking the tryptophan from getting to your brain are off fighting the sugar battle, allowing tryptophan to get into your brain and get turned into seratonin.  Presto! you get mellowed out and fade away to dreamland.

So do yourself a favor.  Load up on turkey and go light on the carbs.  Better yet, get the family out for a walk afterwards, instead of sitting in front of the screen.  Your body will thank you.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!  We have so much to be thankful for.

PS – Here’s the link to the article in Wired Science where I got my info.

Bacteria: Good or Bad?

When you hear about bacteria, isn’t your first reaction to think “Yuck!  Bacteria bad, anti-bacterials good!”

Well, one of the newest fields in biological research today (only 10 years old) is focused on the importance of good bacteria that we are exposed to throughout our lives.  Recent research has shown that the more we try to avoid bacteria, the worse off we are in regards to our immune systems.  It turns out that the more bacteria we are exposed to early childhood, the stronger our immune systems will be as we grow older.

Here are two articles that I think you might find interesting.  The first is how bacteria and allergies are related.  The second is an episode from NPR’s Science Friday about the interaction of the bacteria in your body and its affect on your brain and your behavior.  Download the podcast and have fun learning!

 

 

 

Fetal cells live on in their mothers…..

This post goes out to my Biology students in particular, as we are currently studying about how cells are regulated in the body.  This article in Scientific American talks about a new study currently going on, in which cells were found in women that were distinctly not their own, but were in fact cells from their children!

“We all consider our bodies to be our own unique being, so the notion that we may harbor cells from other people in our bodies seems strange.”  Because these are embryonic cells, they are also stem cells, possessing the ability to differentiate into other cells in the body.

Read the rest of the article from Scientific American here.