Protect Your Skin Using the UV Index

Sally Wadyka wrote . . . . . . . .

Chances are you’ve heard of the UV index—and alerts about it may even pop up on your weather app on especially sunny days. But you may be confused as to what those numbers really mean and how understanding them can help you better protect your skin.

“The UV index is a way to convey the risk of sun damage by putting a number on it,” says David J. Leffell, M.D., professor of dermatology and surgery at the Yale School of Medicine. “Its main purpose is to keep sun protection top of mind for people as they plan outdoor activities.”

So if the weather is warming up in your area or you’re heading to the beach or the slopes for spring break, understanding the UV index can help guide you to smarter sun-safety strategies.

How the UV Index Is Calculated

Ultraviolet rays from the sun are a known cause of premature aging of the skin—wrinkles and sagging—and skin cancer. In 1994, the National Weather Service and the Environmental Protection Agency developed the ultraviolet index as a means of helping to quantify how strong the sun’s UV rays are at any given time.

Sunlight intensity (and consequently, the level of the UV index) varies according to time of day, cloud cover, ozone levels, altitude, time of year, ground surface (snow, sand, water, pavement), and amount of cover (such as buildings and trees that provide shade). The calculation is a complex formula that takes into account all these factors. Checking the UV index can help you plan when and how to safely spend time outdoors.

Reading the Numbers

Depending on where you are and what the weather is doing, the UV index can read from 1 (Low) to 11+ (Extreme). The highest readings—regardless of location or time of year—will be at midday when the sun’s UV radiation is at its peak intensity.

You can search for the UV index at any location in the U.S. on the EPA’s website, or download the agency’s UV index app.

A reading of 1 or 2 is Low, 3 to 5 is Moderate, 6 to 7 is High, 8 to 10 is Very High, and 11 or more is Extreme. The idea is that the higher the number forecasted for a given day, the more diligent you need to be about protecting yourself.

At the Extreme end of the UV scale (which you’ll commonly find at midday during the summer in places like South Florida and Arizona), experts warn that the sun’s rays will be so intense that unprotected skin can burn in a matter of minutes. “Those are the days when you may even want to stay indoors or only go out early or late in the day, especially if you have fair skin,” Leffell says.

But don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by lower numbers. “You can still get burned even on a cloudy day when the UV index is only 2 if you don’t protect yourself,” says Darrel Rigel, M.D., clinical professor of dermatology at the NYU School of Medicine. “Cloud cover definitely dials back the intensity of the rays, but it’s not that nothing is getting through.”

The same goes for the colder months. While the UV index will be significantly lower on average in winter than in summer, unprotected skin is still vulnerable to damage when readings are at Low to Moderate levels.

And because snow reflects the sun’s rays, the UV index on a sunny day at a ski area can be as high as—or higher than—it is at the beach (especially when you also factor in the effect of altitude). Snow reflects as much as 80 percent of UV rays (and UV increases by about 2 percent for every 1,000 feet of elevation), compared with 15 percent for sand and 10 percent for water, according to the EPA.

Cover Up Accordingly

Even on days when the UV index is in the Low to Moderate range, the expert recommendation is still to cover any exposed skin with a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.

And as the UV index climbs, you should step up your sun protection—being vigilant about reapplying sunscreen every 2 hours or immediately after swimming or heavy sweating, and adding sun-protective clothing (shirts, pants, rash guards, and wide-brimmed hats) to the mix.

Source: Consumer Reports

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Flavourful Squash Soup

Ingredients

1 butternut squash or 4 cups peeled squash pieces
2 carrots
1 onion
2 tbsp butter
4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 stalks lemon grass or 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup white wine
1 (10-oz) can undiluted chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp Indian curry paste
4 oz fresh or frozen uncooked, peeled large shrimp, about 8
1 cup half-and-half or table cream
1/4 cup plain yogurt
fresh coriander sprigs

Method

  1. For easier peeling, microwave whole squash on high 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Cut squash in half and slice off peel. Scoop out and discard seeds. Cut squash into 1-inch pieces.
  3. Peel carrots, then thinly slice into 1-inch thick rounds.
  4. Coarsely chop onion.
  5. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add carrots and onion. Stir often until onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes.
  6. Mince garlic and finely grate fresh ginger.
  7. Cut off and discard tough upper part of lemon grass. Slice remaining bulb-like base in half. Using bottom of a frying pan, lightly pound lemon grass to bruise and flatten slightly to release flavour.
  8. Once onion is soft, stir in garlic, fresh and ground ginger and lemon grass or juice. Stir often until fragrant, about 5 more minutes.
  9. Stir in wine, broth and water. Add squash. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until carrots and squash are very soft, 50 to 55 minutes.
  10. In a medium-size bowl, stir oil with curry paste. If you are using frozen shrimp, don’t thaw. Instead, place in a sieve and rinse under cold running water until all ice crystals melt. Drain. Pat frozen or fresh shrimp dry with paper towels. Add to curry mixture. Toss to evenly coat. Cover and refrigerate 20 minutes.
  11. When squash and carrots are cooked, remove and discard lemon grass. Puree the vegetables using a hand blender until very smooth. Stir in cream until evenly mixed.
  12. Just before serving, lightly coat a small, non-stick frying pan with oil. Set over medium heat. When hot, add shrimp and stir-fry until coral-coloured, 3 to 5 minutes.
  13. Ladle soup into warm bowls. Spoon a dollop of yogurt in centre, then top with 2 shrimp. Garnish with coriander.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Chatelaine magazine

In Pictures: Foods of Restaurants in London Where Top Chefs Eat Out

How Pop-Ups Took Over America’s Restaurants

Ryan Bradley wrote . . . . . . .

Limited-edition restaurants, elite chef “residencies,” and other one-night-only dining experiences have become the fastest-moving craze in food. Writer Ryan Bradley investigates why.

Why Pop-ups Are Popping Off

Recently I was explaining pop-ups to my 96-year-old grandmother, Bam-Bam. I’d brought her a fried-chicken sandwich from McFly’s All-Natural, a lunch counter run out of a restaurant-bar called Electric Owl in Los Angeles. Bam-Bam was enjoying the sandwich. It had a kick, and she liked the kick—so much that she was hoping I might bring her another sandwich sometime.

Maybe it wouldn’t be there, I warned her. Not the kick, but the restaurant itself. This place—run out of another place—was impermanent, sort of secret. And that was the point. People learned about it through the Internet. On blogs (“What are those?”). Or, you remember that photo thing on the phone (Instagram)? Through that. You follow a chef (in this case Ernesto Uchimura, the guy who invented Ketchup Leather at his L.A. burger chain, Plan Check), or a restaurant, or a food truck, and the chef or the restaurant or the truck posts a photo or sends out a tweet (“A what?”), and you learn about this temporary thing. A pop-up.

In the age of the rock-star chef, pop-ups are their world tours. They even have specially designed posters! And merch! Follow five hot young chefs on Instagram and you’ll start to stumble upon pop-ups the way you do Bonobos ads. You’ll learn that “pop-up restaurant” can accurately describe everything from a parking-lot cookout to a brand activation to a fine-dining experience. The only through line is that it’s temporary—but even then, it might not be. Some pop-ups are sneak previews, market tests of restaurants to come, or offerings from brick-and-mortar spots on another coast. The triumph of modern pop-ups in dining culture, a decade after they first began emerging, post-recession, shows us just how transient our desires are. After a month of eating at pop-ups, I figured out only one conclusive thing about them: They are not so much about the food as they are about all the stuff around the food—how we eat, not what we’re eating.

The Origin of the Species

Before the pop-up boom came the taco-truck boom. In 2008, Roy Choi and his Korean-barbecue taco truck appeared on the streets of L.A. and made a big, meaty splash. Thousands of enterprising thirtysomethings followed, and soon “food-truck rodeos” were a thing—even though food trucks had been around for at least half a century. The new part was social media, a very good way to keep track of something that’s constantly moving around the city.

Choi didn’t invent the food truck, just like no one person invented limited-edition dining experiences; he just knew how to promote them at a crucial point in time. My grandmother doesn’t know what Twitter is, but she’s familiar with the concept of a slightly secret business that offers something extra. Only these days, instead of jazz and booze, it sells ephemerality. As attention spans shortened and experiences became the new status symbols, disappearing restaurants gained more cultural capital than their stodgily static alternatives.

This shift has created entire multimillion- and even billion-dollar real estate interests (malls, mostly) with spaces devoted to pop-up restaurants at New York’s South Street Seaport, Platform in Culver City, and Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, among others. A company based in San Francisco, called Cubert, manufactures purpose-built pop-up stalls. High turnover is now a virtue. Which means the latest food trend isn’t an ingredient or a cuisine; it’s a length of time. The most successful pop-up operations are those that can burn brightly, then quietly (and quickly) disappear to make room for something new.

Chefs have adapted to the churn. Time was, an accomplished chef would rarely up and leave a restaurant for something else. Now it happens all the time. Michelin-starred chef Dan Barber decamped from his idyllic Blue Hill at Stone Barns in the Hudson Valley for an international jaunt making luxury meals out of food waste. Chad Robertson, of San Francisco’s cultishly loved bakery Tartine, has done so many collaborations that his sourdough starter is everywhere from New York to Stockholm, as iconic as a gurgling blob of yeast can be. René Redzepi has taken Noma (and its dedicated fans) on the road from Copenhagen to Sydney, Tokyo, and Tulum. At Lalito in New York, Gerardo Gonzalez hosts regular pop-ups that often turn into dance parties you see on Instagram the next day and wish you’d been at. I recently ate ramen from Oakland’s Ramen Shop without having to leave Los Angeles, which was honestly very convenient. A few years ago, Google hired a whole crew of chefs to run a “world” café pop-up for the tenth anniversary of Google Translate. And last summer, Jessica Koslow, of L.A.’s now iconic breakfast-and-lunch spot Sqirl, started cooking out of the Food Lab, that space in Manhattan’s South Street Seaport built specifically for pop-up restaurants. And eaters, well, we lined up around the block, flew halfway around the world, and paid premium prices just for a chance to say we were there.

The Pop-Up Poster Child

Koslow’s food lab residency was an opportunity to test-drive the menu for Tel, her new restaurant, which will open in L.A. later this year. Sqirl, a studio-apartment-sized subway-tiled spot on an unassuming street corner, has built a name for itself as a counter-service restaurant where you can get grain bowls and turmeric tonic that you’ll enjoy at wobbly sidewalk tables. The new place will have an actual dining room, where you can get not just breakfast and lunch but also dinner. The menu will be more expansive than Sqirl’s, and will include beer and wine. It’s bigger, more expensive. And a risk.

So Koslow needed a place that would temporarily allow such risk and experimentation, a place where diners had “no preconceived notion” of her or of Sqirl. “It felt almost like a safe zone,” she said, “testing out on people who are not the people who will be eating there every day.” And East Coast acolytes of Koslow’s got to eat the stuff—creamed yogurt with shredded pickle, quail shawarma, and sturgeon with a green Yemeni curry called sahawek—before their L.A. counterparts.

This was not Koslow’s first pop-up; she regularly hosts them at Sqirl, with people like Eric Werner and Mya Henry, of Hartwood in Tulum. The events often have an insidery feel, which is part of the draw: These cool chefs, who seem to be friends, are cooking together for you and your friends, and maybe you’re their friend, too? It also forces a kitchen out of its routine. “When Roberta’s came to town, we learned how to shape the pizza and what pH they like the dough at,” Koslow said of the blistered, puffy, crisp-yet-chewy crust that makes Roberta’s pies some of the best in the country. “You learn by doing, and you learn from the best, and there’s real power in that.”

In the Future, All Restaurants Will Be Open for 15 Minutes

In oakland, Chris Kronner runs a restaurant called KronnerBurger. It’s been open for almost three years, and he still does pop-ups all the time: He drops into neighborhoods in New York and L.A. and throughout the Bay Area where he might open a new shop, hoping to learn something about the particular economics of the area. (For instance: “You can sell a burger for $25 in New York and no one fucking bats an eye.”)

Source: GQ

Dietary Fibers Promote Gut Bacteria that Benefit Blood Glucose Control in Type 2 Diabetes

The fight against type 2 diabetes may soon improve thanks to a pioneering high-fiber diet study led by a Rutgers University-New Brunswick professor.

Promotion of a select group of gut bacteria by a diet high in diverse fibers led to better blood glucose control, greater weight loss and better lipid levels in people with type 2 diabetes, according to research published today in Science.

The study, underway for six years, provides evidence that eating more of the right dietary fibers may rebalance the gut microbiota, or the ecosystem of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract that help digest food and are important for overall human health.

“Our study lays the foundation and opens the possibility that fibers targeting this group of gut bacteria could eventually become a major part of your diet and your treatment,” said Liping Zhao, the study’s lead author and a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

Type 2 diabetes, one of the most common debilitating diseases, develops when the pancreas makes too little insulin – a hormone that helps glucose enter cells for use as energy – or the body doesn’t use insulin well.

In the gut, many bacteria break down carbohydrates, such as dietary fibers, and produce short-chain fatty acids that nourish our gut lining cells, reduce inflammation and help control appetite. A shortage of short-chain fatty acids has been associated with type 2 diabetes and other diseases. Many clinical studies also show that increasing dietary fiber intake could alleviate type 2 diabetes, but the effectiveness can vary due to the lack of understanding of the mechanisms, according to Zhao, who works in New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health at Rutgers-New Brunswick.

In research based in China, Zhao and scientists from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Yan Lam, a research assistant professor in Zhao’s lab at Rutgers, randomized patients with type 2 diabetes into two groups. The control group received standard patient education and dietary recommendations. The treatment group was given a large amount of many types of dietary fibers while ingesting a similar diet for energy and major nutrients. Both groups took the drug acarbose to help control blood glucose.

The high-fiber diet included whole grains, traditional Chinese medicinal foods rich in dietary fibers and prebiotics, which promote growth of short-chain fatty acid-producing gut bacteria. After 12 weeks, patients on the high-fiber diet had greater reduction in a three-month average of blood glucose levels. Their fasting blood glucose levels also dropped faster and they lost more weight.

Surprisingly, of the 141 strains of short-chain fatty acid-producing gut bacteria identified by next-generation sequencing, only 15 are promoted by consuming more fibers and thus are likely to be the key drivers of better health. Bolstered by the high-fiber diet, they became the dominant strains in the gut after they boosted levels of the short-chain fatty acids butyrate and acetate. These acids created a mildly acidic gut environment that reduced populations of detrimental bacteria and led to increased insulin production and better blood glucose control.

The study supports establishing a healthy gut microbiota as a new nutritional approach for preventing and managing type 2 diabetes.

Source: The State University of New Jersey


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