What’s for Lunch?

Japanese Tomato Basil Chicken Set Lunch

The Menu

  • Baked Chicken Thigh and Eggplant in Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce
  • Salad
  • Miso Soup
  • Rice

Can Chicken Soup Really Cure Body and Soul?

Juliane Schlag wrote . . . . .

Chicken noodle soup is regarded as a therapeutic dish in several cultures, including Jewish-American and Chinese communities where traditional medicine is practised.

Although researchers have not been able to determine the cause of the alleged positive effects of chicken soup, several studies have confirmed that it helps to unblock congested noses and throats.

Chinese chicken noodle

Archaeological evidence shows that people started using poultry to make soups soon after they discovered how to boil water. The earliest recorded evidence of chicken soup being used as a therapeutic dish dates back to Chinese antiquity. In the second century BC, the Chinese medical text, Huangdi Neijing, declared that chicken soup is a “yang food” – a warming dish – to which different therapeutic herbs can be added to cure various diseases.

In China, chicken soup is given to women after pregnancy and to elderly people. Both groups are considered to be in the need of energy-giving yang food, which is believed to transport “energy” around the body and have an invigorating effect.

One of the earliest recipes for Chinese noodles, “lamian”, dates back to the second century AD. In Chinese culture noodles represent a long life. Traditionally they were combined with chicken soup to emphasise the well-being of the family. During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), noodle shops became widespread and chicken noodle soup was a popular dish. Recipes for chicken noodle soup were also exchanged with other parts of Asia.

The Jewish tradition

The Jewish folklore about chicken soup is closely tied to the central European medical history of chicken soup. The Greek physician Galen, in the second century AD, recommended chicken soup as a cure for migraine, leprosy, constipation and fever.

A few centuries later, in the Babylonian Talmud, a story refers to the chicken of Rabbi Abba (175–247) which, when cooked, served him as a general remedy.

Towards the end of the Middle Ages, the Jewish philosopher and physician, Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), recommended chicken soup for the weak and the sick. But chicken soup remained an infrequently eaten dish until the 15th century. It was only then that a revival of raising chickens started to compensate for other meat shortages and people began to eat chicken soup regularly.

Similar to traditional Chinese practice, among Sephardic Jews the custom prevailed to give “caldo de gayina vieja” – old hen chicken broth – to women who had given birth and ill people. Sephardic Jews also developed the practice of serving chicken soup with rice – “soupa de kippur”.

After the 15th century, chicken soup slowly became a traditional dish within Jewish Ashkenazic culture, having spread from the Sephardic Jews to Eastern Europe. In Ashkenazic culture it became known for its colour as the “goldene yoykh”, “gilderne” or “goldzup” – golden soup. At special anniversaries and celebrations the floating fat bubbles are interpreted as signs for future happiness.

After World War II, Jewish emigrants popularised it in America, leading to its nickname “the Jewish penicillin”.

The scientific evidence

While there is a cultural belief that chicken soup has therapeutic properties, researchers cannot determine exactly why chicken soup, or which content of it, has a curative effect. Who knows, a turkey broth might be a fitting substitute. And, after Christmas, most people could do with a little pick-me-up.

Here is what we do know about chicken soup’s curative properties.

Marvin Sackner, in 1978, conducted a study showing that drinking chicken soup was significantly better at clearing up congestion in the nose compared with drinking hot or cold water.

In 1980, Irwin Ziment showed that chicken broth helps to thin mucous in the lungs with a higher effect being achieved when the broth was spiced. His study was followed up by Stephen Rennard in 2000 who argued that chicken soup, by reducing mucous in the lungs, supported the white blood cells in fighting a cold.

Generally, it can be observed that the calcium content of the soup increases with the duration of cooking and, depending on the composition, can have a mild anti-inflammatory effect.

Chicken soup is also said to have a calming effect, which has led some to claim that it can also heal the soul.

Source: The Conversation

Anxiety Raises Risk for Dementia

Many studies have focused on a link between depression and dementia, but the USC-led study of Swedish twins data indicates that anxiety may be much more significant factor in memory loss.

People who experienced high anxiety any time in their lives had a 48 percent higher risk of developing dementia compared to those who had not, according to a new study led by USC researchers.

The findings were based on an examination of 28 years of data from the Swedish Adoption Twin Study of Aging, overseen by the Karolinska Institutet of Sweden. The study sample involved 1,082 participants – twins, fraternal and identical – who completed in-person tests every three years, answered several questionnaires and were screened for dementia throughout the study.

Many other studies have explored the link between dementia and psychological variables such as depression and neuroticism. However, this study established that the anxiety-dementia link was independent of the role of depression as a risk factor.

“Anxiety, especially in older adults, has been relatively understudied compared to depression,” said Andrew Petkus, the study’s lead author and postdoctoral research associate of psychology in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “Depression seems more evident in adulthood, but it’s usually episodic. Anxiety, though, tends to be a chronic lifelong problem, and that’s why people tend to write off anxiety as part of someone’s personality.”

A final draft of the study was made available online last week in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The researchers noted that the subjects had self-reported various levels of anxiety, which may or may not meet the clinical diagnostic threshold of a psychiatric anxiety disorder. Even so, the twin who developed dementia had a history of higher levels of anxiety compared to the twin who did not develop dementia.

How anxious?

The subjects with anxiety who later developed dementia “are people that experience more than usual symptoms of anxiety,” said study co-author Margaret Gatz, a professor of psychology in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, who holds joint appointments in the USC Davis School of Gerontology and the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

“They are people who you would say operate at a ‘high level of anxiety,’” said Gatz, also a foreign adjunct professor for the Karolinska Insitutet. She said they are fidgety. “They are frantic, frazzled people.”

To determine whether anxiety levels correlated to dementia risk, researchers compared those who reported high anxiety with those who reported lower anxiety levels. “Those in the high anxiety group were about 1.5 times more likely to develop dementia,” Petkus said.

Possible explanation

Petkus said people who have high levels of anxiety tend to have higher levels of stress hormones, including cortisol. Evidence shows that chronically high levels of cortisol damage parts of the brain such as the hippocampus, which stores memory, and the frontal cortex, which is responsible for high-level thinking.

The researchers also found that the anxiety-dementia relationship was stronger among fraternal twins whom had only one develop dementia than among identical twins. The researchers said this finding indicates that there may be genetic factors shared by anxiety and dementia that account for the anxiety-dementia risk.

The USC team also hopes to determine whether individuals who have been treated for anxiety earlier in their lives show lower risk of dementia compared with those whose anxiety was not treated.

Source: University of Southern California

Today’s Comic

The True English Breakfast

Rose Spinks wrote . . . . .

Sometime in the last decade, brunch got complicated. Coffee became artisan, reservations became competitive, and the likelihood that one or more of your dining companions no longer eats gluten or animal products increased.

Enter the classic English fry-up. It is everything brunch is not: unphotogenic, unhealthy, avocado-free. It is a plate of dietary restrictions that arrives ten minutes after you order it and renders you incapable of thinking about food for ten hours afterward. It is glorious.

But don’t let the simplicity of this dish fool you. The English—devotees of rules, ritual, and tradition for about a millennium—are fastidious about their fry-ups. Eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, and fried bread or buttered toast—all served with coffee or tea—are nonnegotiable components. Baked beans, black pudding, and potatoes can be added—but not without controversy.

The Fry-Up Inspector, an award-winning blogger on the subject who has reviewed 219 fry-ups and counting, decodes the controversy.

“There’s a big debate about whether or not baked beans should be on the full English or not,” the Inspector explains. “Some people really don’t like the beans touching the eggs, so they try to create a barrier with the sausage to stop the two touching. Me, I don’t mind at all—I eat the eggs and beans together.”

Beans or not, the fry-up’s origins lie with England’s land-owning gentry, who treated their frequent guests to extravagant breakfasts as a way to show off the bounty of their country estates. The second half of the 1800s saw the decline of the gentry and the rise of the perpetually social-climbing Victorians, who brought the idea of a leisurely breakfast into the urban mainstream, even in the absence of grand homes in the country.

“The Victorians did it properly and popularized the notion of spending three hours on breakfast with the Sunday papers or the broadsheets of the day. The idea that they had enough time to do that was a sign of status,” says Guise Bule, founder of the English Breakfast Society. “The tradition itself has those upper-class origins, but it has very much became a working-class thing.”

These days, according to the Fry-Up Inspector’s equation, a decent English breakfast should fall within a very specific price range: anywhere under £5 and you’re looking at frozen sausages, anywhere over £10 and you’re basically being fleeced. That price range, combined with the fact that an establishment serves breakfast all day and is independently owned, are good signs that you’re in the right place.

A family-owned and much-loved greasy spoon in London’s East End is one of those “just right” places. At £6, E. Pellicci’s full English falls just within range. The sausages are sourced locally—“the same ones they do in the fancy hotels up the West End,” says Anna Sereno, one of the proprietors—and the tomatoes are oven-baked then grilled. The chips, should you choose to add them, are twice cooked. Your food is served with a side of friendly yelling, as Anna and her brother, Nevio, switch between their East End patois, when speaking to customers, and Italian, which they use when speaking to their mother, Maria, who runs the kitchen. There are no cheap, frozen, “economy” sausages here, and the eggs are cooked correctly. “That kind of snotty bit on top of the egg yolk,” Anna says,”I can’t stand that.”

Technically, E. Pellicci would be called a greasy spoon, and what they serve would be considered “a builder’s breakfast”: essentially a greasier, more down-to-earth version of a full English. It’s a distinction of the you-know-it-when-you-see-it variety, but generally means a slightly greasier finish (though not necessarily with sub-par ingredients), with more things cooked on the griddle rather than in the oven. According to the Fry-Up Inspector, a dead giveaway that you’re eating one is if there are builders eating a plate at the next table.

But if you ask esteemed E. Pellicci regular “Jukebox Jimmy,” who has sat in the establishment five days a week for fifty years, the only people who use that phrase are the posh folk. For him, it’s just a place to eat breakfast.

“What people do is they call this a greasy spoon—but I don’t call it that. To me, it’s just a caff. Simple as that.”


To Help Your Kids Get Better Grades, Feed Them Breakfast: Study

A new study provides more evidence that a good breakfast helps kids do better in school.

Researchers looked at 5,000 students in Great Britain between the ages of 9 and 11. They found that those who ate a healthy breakfast were up to two times more likely to achieve at least average grades than those who did not eat breakfast.

The Cardiff University study was published recently in the journal Public Health Nutrition.

“While breakfast consumption has been consistently associated with general health outcomes and acute measures of concentration and cognitive function, evidence regarding links to concrete educational outcomes has until now been unclear,” lead author Hannah Littlecott said in a university news release.

“This study therefore offers the strongest evidence yet of links between aspects of what pupils eat and how well they do at school, which has significant implications for education and public health policy,” she added.

She said schools sometimes regard the dedication of resources to improving child health as an unwelcome distraction from their mission of educating children.

“But this resistance to delivery of health improvement interventions overlooks the clear synergy between health and education,” she said. “Clearly, embedding health improvements into the core business of the school might also deliver educational improvements as well.”

Chris Bonell, a professor of sociology and social policy at the University College London Institute of Education, said this study adds to “a growing body of international evidence indicating that investing resources in effective interventions to improve young people’s health is also likely to improve their educational performance.”

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