Household Dust Harbors Thousands of Microbial Species

Geography, pets and gender of housemates make a difference in types of bacteria, fungi found.

You’ve got a lot of unsuspected roommates: A new study finds that ordinary house dust contains thousands of species of bacteria and fungi.

The researchers analyzed dust from about 1,200 homes across the continental United States, and found that the dust in each home contained an average of more than 5,000 species of bacteria and about 2,000 species of fungi.

“Every day, we’re surrounded by a vast array of organisms in our homes, most of which we can’t see,” study co-author Noah Fierer, associate professor in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said in a university news release.

“We live in a microbial zoo, and this study was an attempt to catalog that diversity,” he added.

“Geography is the best predictor of fungi in your home,” Fierer said. “The reason is that most fungi blow in from outdoors via soil and leaves.”

For example, a home in the upper Midwest has different fungi than one in the Southeast.

By analyzing the dust samples, the researchers could predict which homes had pets such as cats and dogs, and even the gender ratio of the people who lived there. For example, homes with only males have a different bacterial population than homes with both males and females.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“One of the key takeaways is that if you want to change what you breathe inside your house, you would either have to move very far away or change the people and the pets you live with,” lead author Albert Barbaran, a graduate researcher at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology, said in the news release.

The study findings may prove useful in allergy research and forensic investigations, according to the researchers.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Today’s Comic

My Recipe

Chicken with Mix Flavours


18 oz boneless skinless chicken thigh
10 oz long English cucumber
4 oz carrot
5 oz celery
2 Tbsp toasted white sesame seed
2 Tbsp sliced chili, optional for garnish

Chicken Marinade:

3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cooking wine


2 tsp garlic (minced)
2 tsp ginger (minced)
1 Tbsp green onion (finely chopped)
3 Tbsp light soy sauce
1-1/2 Tbsp chili oil
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp Chinkiang vinegar
1-1/2 Tbsp sesame butter or paste or tahini
3-3/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp chicken broth mix
3/4 tsp Szechuan ground pepper


  1. Put chicken on a heatproof plate. Add marinade and set aside for at least 1 hour.
  2. Cut off ends from cucumber. Cut into 1-1/2 inch sections and lengthwise into 2 halves. Scoop out seeds and cut each half into matchstick strips.
  3. Cut carrot and celery into 1-1/2 inch long matchstick strips.
  4. Steam chicken on medium high heat for about 20 minutes. Remove and cool. Tear into thick strips.
  5. Mix sauce ingredients.
  6. Arrange vegetables on a serving platter and mix well. Top with chicken, sauce and sesame seed. Garnish with sliced chili if desired. Mix before serving.

Nutrition value for 1/6 portion of recipe:

Calorie 227, Fat 12.7 g, Carbohydrate 9 g, Fibre 2 g, Sugar 4 g, Cholesterol 71 mg, Sodium 825 mg, Protein 19 g.

New Automated Healthy Fast Food Restaurant in San Francisco

The restaurant, Eatsa, offers bowls of food with Quinoa as the main ingredients. The followings show the steps on how foods are ordered and served.

Ordering through a touch-screen tablet

Payment confirmed

Waiting for food

Food is served

Food ready to be eaten

Read more . . . . .

Shift Focus from Calorie Counting to Nutritional Value for Heart Health, Say Experts

Clinicians have failed to act for far too long, but human and economic toll make this unaffordable, they argue

It’s time to stop counting the calories, and instead start promoting the nutritional value of foods if we are to rapidly cut illness and death from cardiovascular disease and curb the rising tide of obesity, say experts in an editorial published in the online journal Open Heart.

Drawing on published evidence, Drs Aseem Malhotra and James DiNicolantonio and Professor Simon Capewell argue that rather like stopping smoking, simple dietary changes can rapidly improve health outcomes at the population level.

For example, boosting omega 3 fatty acid (from fatty fish), olive oil, and nut intake have all been associated with reductions in deaths from all causes and from cardiovascular disease, within months, they say.

But clinicians have failed to act for far too long, amid an excessive focus on the calorific content of food by the food and weight loss industries, despite mounting evidence that it’s the nutritional content that matters, they suggest.

Daily consumption of a sugary drink (150 calories) is associated with a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes whereas daily consumption of a handful of nuts (30 g of walnuts, 15 g of almonds and 15 g hazelnuts) or four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (around 500 calories) is associated with a significantly reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.

It has been estimated that increasing nut consumption by two servings a week could stave off 90,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease in the US alone.

And the Action for Health in Diabetes trial shows that a low calorie diet on top of increased physical activity in patients with type 2 diabetes was not associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular death despite significant weight loss and a monitoring period of 13.5 years, they point out.

“Shifting the focus away from calories and emphasising a dietary pattern that focuses on food quality rather than quantity will help to rapidly reduce obesity, related diseases, and cardiovascular risk,” they insist.

“Primary and secondary care clinicians have a duty to their individual patients and also to their local populations. Our collective failure to act is an option we cannot afford,” they write, citing the human and economic toll this is taking.

Obesity costs the NHS over £5 billion a year, while the costs of type 2 diabetes add up to more than £20 billion and are predicted to double over the next 20 years. Similarly, the cost of diabetes has risen 40% in the past five years in the US, adding up to $245 billion in 2012, they say.

The evidence shows that poor diet is consistently responsible for more disease and death than physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol put together, they say, calling for sugary drinks to be taxed; government subsidies to make fruit, vegetables, and nuts more affordable; and tighter controls on the marketing of junk food.

“Applying these population wide policies might achieve rapid reductions in disease and hospital admissions visible even within the electoral terms of most politicians,” they suggest.

“It is time to stop counting calories, and time to instead promote good nutrition and dietary changes that can rapidly and substantially reduce cardiovascular mortality. The evidence indeed supports the mantra that ‘food can be the most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison’,” they write.

“Recommending a high fat Mediterranean type diet and lifestyle to our patients, friends and families, might be a good place to start,” they conclude.

Source: EurekAlert!

A Bottle of Water Before Each Meal Could Help in Weight Reduction

Researchers from the University of Birmingham have shown that drinking 500ml of water at half an hour before eating main meals may help obese adults to lose weight. They believe that the simple intervention could be hugely beneficial, and be easily promoted by healthcare professionals and through public health campaigns.

Obese adult participants were recruited from general practices and monitored over a 12 week period.

Each of the participants, all adults with obesity, were given a weight management consultation, where they were advised on how to adapt their lifestyle and improve their diet and levels of physical activity. 41 of those recruited were asked to preload with water, and 43 were advised to imagine that they had a full stomach before eating.

Those in the group who were instructed to ‘preload’ with water lost, on average, 1.3kg (2.87lbs) more than those in the control group.

Those who reported preloading before all three main meals in the day reported a loss of 4.3kg (9.48lbs) over the 12 weeks, whereas those who only preloaded once, or not at all, only lost an average of 0.8kg (1.76lbs).

Dr Helen Parretti, NIHR Clinical Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, explained, “The beauty of these findings is in the simplicity. Just drinking a pint of water, three times a day, before your main meals may help reduce your weight.”

“When combined with brief instructions on how to increase your amount of physical activity and on a healthy diet, this seems to help people to achieve some extra weight loss – at a moderate and healthy rate. It’s something that doesn’t take much work to integrate into our busy everyday lives.”

Participants were encouraged to drink tap water. Sparkling water, sodas or sweetened drinks were not allowed as part of the study.

The study, published in the journal Obesity, showed encouraging initial results for the trial, and the team hope that the findings will inform further research into the benefits of water preloading before meals. They hope to receive backing for a trial with a larger number of participants and over a longer period of time in order to confirm the findings.

Dr Parretti added, “Losing a few extra pounds over the course of a year can be significant to an individual, and this could be an easy way to help with that weight loss. It’s a simple message that has the potential to make a real contribution to public health.”

Source: University of Birmingham

Today’s Comic

Healthy Breakfast Is Essential for Kids

Expert shares tips for morning meals they can’t pass up.

Kids who skip breakfast will be nutritionally short-changed all day, an expert says.

“Growing bodies and developing brains need regular, healthy meals,” Carole Adler, a dietitian at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said in an agency news release.

The morning meal doesn’t have to include traditional breakfast foods. Give children foods they like, as long as you maintain a healthy balance, she said. For example, they might like leftovers from last night’s dinner or a turkey sandwich to start their day.

If your child loves sugary cereals, she suggested mixing a bit of that with a whole-grain, nutrient-rich healthier type of cereal.

“Nothing has to be off the table altogether, and sometimes just a taste of something your kids like is enough to keep them happy,” Adler said.

Try to provide a breakfast that includes protein, fat and carbohydrates to keep children feeling full and able to focus until lunch. Protein choices include an egg, some nuts, a slice of deli meat or cheese, or a container of yogurt.

Don’t let children skip breakfast, even if they have to eat it on the run, she added. For example, they can head out the door with a piece of fruit, a bag of nut-and-fruit trail mix, a whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter or almond butter, and a carton of milk.

“A fruit-filled shake with milk or yogurt takes only a couple of minutes to drink,” Adler said.

If you’re pressed for time in the morning, Adler recommended taking 10 minutes each night to prepare for breakfast the next day. You can chop up fruit to add to yogurt or cereal, cut up vegetables for an omelet, or mix muffin or whole-grain waffle batter and put it in the fridge.

Other preparations may include getting out a pan for pancakes or a blender for smoothies, and placing a bowl of nut-and-fruit trail mix on the table for your children to dip into before they walk out the door, Adler suggested.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Eating Protein-packed Breakfast May Prevent Body Fat Gain

A study published in Obesity shows that consuming a high-protein breakfast (containing 35 g of protein) may prevent body fat gain, reduce daily food intake and feelings of hunger, and stabilize glucose levels among overweight teens who would normally skip breakfast.

The researchers fed two groups of overweight teens who reported skipping breakfast between five and seven times a week either normal-protein breakfast meals or high-protein breakfast meals. A third group of teens continued to skip breakfast for 12 weeks. The normal-protein breakfast meal was milk and cereal and contained 13 g of protein. The high-protein breakfast meals included eggs, dairy, and lean pork that contained 35 g of protein.

Participants in the groups were instructed to report feelings of hunger and their daily intakes of food and beverages. Their body weight and body composition were measured at the beginning and end of the 12-week period. In addition, the participants wore a device that assessed minute-to-minute glucose levels throughout the day.

The researchers found that the group of teens who ate high-protein breakfasts reduced their daily food intake by 400 calories and lost body fat mass, while the groups who ate normal-protein breakfast or continued to skip breakfast gained additional body fat. When individuals ate a high-protein breakfast, they voluntarily consumed less food the rest of the day. In addition, teens who ate high-protein breakfast had more stable glucose levels than the other groups.

Source: Institute of Food Technologists