In Pictures: Turning A Chopstick Sleeve into An Origami Chopstick Stand

Kill some time while waiting for the food

Tiger Globefish Oshi Sushi

The Sushi

Tiger Globefish (虎河豚)

Active Thyroid May Raise Risk of Depression in Older Individuals

When older individuals’ thyroid glands are more active than average, it may be a risk factor for depression, according to new research accepted for publication in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Beyond its role in regulating the body’s metabolism, the thyroid gland also can influence mental health. Past research has found links between an increased risk of depression and both over- and underactive thyroid glands. This study is the first to find an association between depression and thyroid activity variations within the normal range.

To determine how active the thyroid gland was, researchers measured levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is the body’s signal to the thyroid gland to release more hormones. When TSH levels are low, this suggests the thyroid gland is active and producing plenty of thyroid hormones. Researchers also measured levels of the actual thyroid hormones at a later point in time and confirmed these subjects had increased thyroid activity.

“We found that older individuals with thyroid activity at the high end of the normal range had a substantially increased risk of developing depression over the course of an eight-year period compared to individuals who had less thyroid activity within the normal range,” said one of the study’s authors, Marco Medici, MD, of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. “This suggests that people with even minor changes in thyroid function may experience similar mental health effects as those with overt thyroid disorders, including hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.”

The population-based cohort study analyzed data from a group of 1,503 people with an average age of 70. At the outset of the study, researchers measured participants’ TSH levels and gauged their depression symptoms using a questionnaire. Participants included in the study displayed no depression symptoms at the first visit. During follow-up visits over the course of eight years, on average, researchers assessed participants for the development of depression symptoms.

The study divided participants into three groups based on their TSH levels. Study participants with TSH levels at the low end of the normal range – signaling they had more active thyroid glands – were more likely to have depression symptoms emerge during the course of the study.

“These results provide insight into the powerful effects thyroid activity can have on emotions and mental health,” Medici said. “This information could influence the process of diagnosing and treating depression, as well as treatments for individuals with thyroid conditions.”

Source: Endocrine Society

Japanese-style Fried Ground Chicken with Lotus Root

Ingredients

200 g lotus root, peeled and cut into 16 slices
300 g ground chicken
3 tbsp miso
1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
1/2 tbsp potato starch
5 stalks green onions, chopped
1 piece nori (roasted seaweed), cut into 8 pieces of equal sizes

Method

  1. Combine chicken, miso, honey, sesame seeds, starch and green onion in a bowl. Mix well. Shape into 8 patties of sizes similar to the lotus root slices.
  2. Put each patty between two slices of lotus root and wrap up with a piece of cut nori.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan. Pan fry the wraps over medium low heat, covered, for about 5 minutes per side until the chicken is cooked through.

Makes 8 hasami-yaki.

Source: Japanese magazine


Today’s Comic

U.S. FDA Proposes Updates to Nutrition Facts Label on Food Packages

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today proposed to update the Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods to reflect the latest scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The proposed label also would replace out-of-date serving sizes to better align with how much people really eat, and it would feature a fresh design to highlight key parts of the label such as calories and serving sizes.

“Our guiding principle here is very simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.”

“For 20 years consumers have come to rely on the iconic nutrition label to help them make healthier food choices,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “To remain relevant, the FDA’s newly proposed Nutrition Facts label incorporates the latest in nutrition science as more has been learned about the connection between what we eat and the development of serious chronic diseases impacting millions of Americans.”

Some of the changes to the label the FDA proposed today would:

  • Require information about the amount of “added sugars” in a food product. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that intake of added sugar is too high in the U.S. population and should be reduced. The FDA proposes to include “added sugars” on the label to help consumers know how much sugar has been added to the product.
  • Update serving size requirements to reflect the amounts people currently eat. What and how much people eat and drink has changed since the serving sizes were first put in place in 1994. By law, serving sizes must be based on what people actually eat, not on what people “should” be eating. Present calorie and nutrition information for the whole package of certain food products that could be consumed in one sitting.
  • Present “dual column” labels to indicate both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information for larger packages that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings.
  • Require the declaration of potassium and vitamin D, nutrients that some in the U.S. population are not getting enough of, which puts them at higher risk for chronic disease. Vitamin D is important for its role in bone health. Potassium is beneficial in lowering blood pressure. Vitamins A and C would no longer be required on the label, though manufacturers could declare them voluntarily.
  • Revise the Daily Values for a variety of nutrients such as sodium, dietary fiber and Vitamin D. Daily Values are used to calculate the Percent Daily Value on the label, which helps consumers understand the nutrition information in the context of a total daily diet.
  • While continuing to require “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” on the label, “Calories from Fat” would be removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.
  • Refresh the format to emphasize certain elements, such as calories, serving sizes and Percent Daily Value, which are important in addressing current public health problems like obesity and heart disease.

The proposed updates reflect new dietary recommendations, consensus reports, and national survey data, such as the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, nutrient intake recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, and intake data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The FDA also considered extensive input and comments from a wide range of stakeholders.

“By revamping the Nutrition Facts label, FDA wants to make it easier than ever for consumers to make better informed food choices that will support a healthy diet.” said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. “To help address obesity, one of the most important public health problems facing our country, the proposed label would drive attention to calories and serving sizes.”

The Nutrition Facts label has been required on food packages for 20 years, helping consumers better understand the nutritional value of foods so they can make healthy choices for themselves and their families. The label has not changed significantly since 2006 when information on trans fat had to be declared on the label, prompting manufacturers to reduce partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fat, in many of their products.

The changes proposed today affect all packaged foods except certain meat, poultry and processed egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The FDA is also proposing to make corresponding updates to the Supplement Facts label on dietary supplements where applicable.

The agency is accepting public comment on the proposed changes for 90 days.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration