Study: Some Tea Bags Leach Microplastics in Hot Water

A McGill University professor says tea lovers may be swallowing billions of tiny plastic particles along with their favourite brew.

Nathalie Tufenkji published a study Wednesday in the U.S. journal Environmental Science & Technology that examined the amount of microplastics and nanoplastics released when four unnamed brands of tea bags were steeped in hot water.

Researchers at the Montreal university focused their analysis on premium brands that come in voluminous, silklike bags, instead of the more common paper variety.

“We were expecting to see some particles — obviously, just naturally from putting this material in hot water — but we were shocked when we saw that it’s actually releasing billions of particles from a single tea bag,” Tufenkji said Wednesday.

After emptying the bags of their tea leaves, researchers submerged the bags in “ultra pure” water heated to 95 C for five minutes. When they analysed a sample of the water, they found that a single plastic tea bag released approximately 11.6 billion microplastics and 3.1 billion nanoplastics into one cup. Tufenkji said that’s far higher than what other studies have found in other foods — for instance table salt, a kitchen staple that’s been reported to contain plastic. While 16 micrograms of microplastic was recorded in one cup of tea, table salt has been found to contain 0.005 micrograms per gram.

The health risk of ingesting microplastics and nanoplastics is unknown, Tufenkji said, and her study only measured how much plastic was released by plastic tea bags.

She said a “very preliminary” toxicity study exposed water fleas to the steeping water, and researchers noted the tiny invertebrates behaved differently and appeared to have an altered body shape.

But she stressed that there is no evidence of toxicity for humans.

“We don’t know if it is dangerous,” she said. “There’s actually almost no studies on the toxicity of ingesting microplastics or nanoplastics, so that’s something to be determined. But we do know (some tea bags are) releasing a lot of plastic into the actual tea.”

Researcher and chemical engineering student Laura Hernandez agreed, cautioning anyone from reading too much into the tea study.

“There’s really much more research needed before I can state anything, but I don’t really think one cup of tea will kill you. No. We’ve been drinking this tea for a while now,” said Hernandez, a fourth-year PhD student.

“This is more a call for tea producers to stop using plastic in their packaging because they have so many other options. There’s really no need for it.”

As for the reason why the McGill team found such high plastic levels, Hernandez suggested one factor was that they looked for smaller particles than most studies — microparticles and nanoparticles, which are a thousand times smaller than microparticles.

“Our numbers are very high in comparison to other studies, but we’re also looking at smaller particles,” Hernandez said.

“Most other studies are looking at particles above 100 micrometres…. The numbers they’re getting, for instance in bottled water, is reported to be 10.1 microparticles per bottle of water, whereas we’re getting billions of particles.”

The study also found that far fewer particles were released when the tea bag was steeped at room temperature for five minutes.

But that’s not the norm when brewing tea, the study acknowledges, adding that tea drinkers often heat water above the measured temperature of 95 C and that even “food-grade” plastics may degrade or leach toxic substances when heated above 40 C.

Tufenkji said she now avoids tea bags containing plastics, but largely because of her aversion to single-use plastics.

“I do drink loose-leaf tea or tea in a paper tea bag,” Tufenkji said.

“I still continue to enjoy tea, that’s for sure.”

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

Balti Beef

Ingredients

2 tbsp ghee or vegetable or peanut oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 large red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 lb 5 oz/600 g sirloin steak, thinly sliced
fresh cilantro sprigs, to garnish

Balti Sauce

2 tbsp ghee or vegetable or peanut oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 tbsp Garlic and Ginger Paste
14 oz/400 g canned tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp ground paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper

Method

  1. To make the Balti Sauce, melt the ghee in a karahi, wok, or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and Garlic and Ginger Paste and stir-fry for 5 minutes until the onions are golden brown.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices, then add the paprika, turmeric, cumin, coriander, chili powder, cardamom, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Let the sauce cool slightly, then remove the bay leaf and pour the mixture into a food processor or blender. Whiz to a smooth sauce.
  4. Wipe out the karahi, wok, or skillet and return it to medium-high heat. Add the ghee and melt. Add the onion and garlic and stir-fry for 5-8 minutes until golden brown.
  5. Add the red bell peppers and continue stir-frying for 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in the beef and continue stir frying for 2 minutes until it starts to turn brown.
  7. Add the Balti Sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sauce slightly reduces again and the bell pepper is tender.
  8. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary, and garnish with cilantro sprigs. Serve in a karahi, if liked.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: Curries

In Pictures: Burgers of Restaurants in London, U.K.

Evidence Builds That Optimism Might Lengthen Your Life

Alan Mozes wrote . . . . . . . . .

A sunny outlook on life may do more than make you smile: New research suggests it could also guard against heart attacks, strokes and early death.

In the review of 15 studies that collectively involved almost 230,000 men and women, the findings were remarkably consistent, the study authors added.

“We found that optimists had a 35% lower risk for the most serious complications due to heart disease, compared to pessimists,” said lead author Dr. Alan Rozanski, a professor of cardiology at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City.

That mind-body connection held up across all age groups, said investigators, ranging from teenagers to those in their 90s. That “suggests that optimism may be an asset, regardless of age,” Rozanski noted.

The studies also found the more positive one’s outlook, the less one’s risk for heart trouble or death.

Ten of the studies specifically looked at positivity’s impact on heart health, while nine looked at how a person’s outlook affected their risk of dying from a wide range of illnesses.

Many of the investigations asked basic questions touching on expectations of the future. In response, some participants indicated that they generally felt upbeat despite the uncertainty of what’s to come. Others said they never assume that things will pan out well down the road.

Over time, those who held more positive viewpoints were more likely to remain heart-healthy.

Yet, despite suggesting that “the magnitude of this association is substantial,” Rozanski and his colleagues stressed that the review can’t prove that optimism directly protects against heart disease and premature death.

Still, the team pointed to a whole host of potential reasons why positivity — directly or indirectly — may help stave off illness.

Some of the studies in the review indicated that optimistic people are more adept at problem-solving, better at developing coping mechanisms, and more apt to realize goals. And those are the kind of skills that could drive someone to take a more active interest in monitoring and maintaining their health, the researchers said.

“Consistent study has shown that optimists have better health habits,” Rozanski noted. “They are more likely to have good diets and exercise,” and they may be less likely to smoke.

“Increasing data also suggests that optimism may have direct biological benefits, whereas pessimism may be health-damaging,” he added. “This biological connection has already been shown for some other psychological risk factors, such as depression.”

Positivity may also work its magic by lowering inflammation and improving metabolism, the authors suggested.

This is not the first study to find such a link. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in August found an upbeat view of life boosted the odds of living to a ripe old age.

Looking ahead, Rozanski’s team pointed to the potential for developing new mind-body treatments, likely in the realm of behavioral therapy, designed to cut down on pessimism and boost optimism.

“However, further research will need to assess whether optimism that is enhanced or induced through directed prevention or intervention strategies has similar health benefits versus optimism that is naturally occurring,” the report cautioned.

The findings were published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Dr. Jeff Huffman, director of cardiac psychiatry research at Massachusetts General Hospital, cowrote an editorial that accompanied the study.

The review provides “yet more evidence that optimism seems to be an independent predictor of superior cardiac health,” he said.

As to why that is, Huffman agreed that optimism is “associated with more physical activity, healthier diet, and a range of other healthy lifestyle behaviors, and it is likely this association that explains a lot of the benefit.”

But optimism also impacts biological processes, he added. And ultimately, “the mechanism by which optimism leads to better health is likely a combination of biology and behavior.”

Source: HealthDay

Study: Gluten-Free Diet Gives Zero Health Benefits

Darwin Malicdem wrote . . . . . . . . .

Gluten-free diet may not be effective at all and your wallet is the only thing losing weight. A new study debunked claims that the approach could help improve the health of people without celiac disease.

The study, published in the journal Gastroenterology, suggests healthy people should continue eating gluten-containing foods. Researchers found that going gluten-free offers little to zero health benefits.

“It was myth-busting,” David Sanders, study author and a professor of gastroenterology at the University of Sheffield in England, told the New York Post. “There are no negative effects of gluten if you don’t have any symptoms of celiac.”

Celiac disease is a condition that causes damage in the small intestine due to ingestion of gluten. Estimates show it affects one in 100 people worldwide.

Rebecca Ditkoff, a registered dietitian from Manhattan, said it is also not necessary for healthy people to avoid gluten when trying to lose weight. She noted gluten-free food is “is actually less healthy” because they are more processed, lower in fiber and higher in fat and sugar.

Researchers said their study is the first to use a double-randomized controlled trial to analyze the health benefits of the gluten-free diet. The findings come amid the growing number of people trying the approach despite being free of celiac disease or other gluten sensitive conditions.

In 2018, the market for gluten-free products in the U.S. reached $2.7 billion, according to a recent report by Research and Markets. There were also best-selling books that claimed grains are “silent killers” because of gluten.

But the Sheffield study states gluten-free diet is just an expensive diet fad. Researchers said foods recommended by the approach cost 139 percent more than mass-market wheat-based products.

Take Matt Hopper, for example, who is one of the people that decided to ditch gluten-free diet recently. He started to eat pasta and bread again after not noticing any improvement in his stomach problems while on the diet.

“I didn’t feel any better in terms of energy or the way my GI system was reacting to food,” Hopper said.

He also felt the financial burden of being gluten-free. The 32-year-old spent an extra $100 or more on groceries for “flourless chocolate cakes.”

Source: msn


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