Food Packaging that’s Good Enough to Eat

These days, many people are concerned about plastic waste; however, the convenience, mechanical properties and cost of plastic food packaging are hard to beat. But now, a growing number of innovators and entrepreneurs are trying to make edible packaging and tableware from foods like seaweed, milk proteins and potato starch, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, produced in collaboration with ACS Central Science.

Edible films, wrappers and straws have already found a specialty market and are starting to attract attention from larger food and beverage companies, according to freelance contributor Prachi Patel. At the 2019 London Marathon, the start-up company Notpla handed out sports drink pods, packaged in seaweed-based capsules, to thirsty runners. Although the packaging is safe to swallow, runners can choose to spit out the film. In that case, it biodegrades in only 4-6 weeks. The New York-based company Loliware is making seaweed- and algae-based straws that feel like plastic for 24 hours after getting wet. Once used, they can be eaten, or they will degrade in the environment within 2 months. Marriott Hotels and alcoholic-beverage firm Pernod Ricard have already started using the straws.

Although edible packaging is gaining ground, challenges remain. Some worry about the hygiene of eating packaging that has been touched or exposed to germs during transport or while sitting on the shelf. Experts agree that edible packaging will require an outer layer, but these materials could also be made from compostable or sustainable materials, such as paper. Another obstacle is public acceptance: will people eat something that is usually thrown away? Consumers could perhaps be convinced if the packaging includes nutrients, such as vitamins or proteins, or just tastes good. And finally, improvements in heat and moisture stability need to be made before edible packaging can enjoy widespread use.

Source: American Chemical Society

Scrambled Egg with Shredded Pork and Fungus

Ingredients

3 eggs
2 tbsps shredded pork
1/8 oz dried day lily flowers
1/8 oz cloud ear fungus
1 tbsp chopped spring onion

Seasoning

1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
3/4 tbsp light soy sauce
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt

Method

  1. Beat eggs. Soak dried day lily flowers and cloud ear fungus until softened. Rinse and set aside.
  2. Mix pork with 1/4 tsp light soy sauce and 1/2 tsp cornstarch.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok, stir-fry pork briefly. Remove and set aside.
  4. Clean wok and heat 2 tbsps oil. Stir-fry eggs until done and break it down into pieces with a spatula.
  5. Add dried day lily flowers, fungus, pork and seasoning. Cook until the sauce reduces. Mix in spring onion. Remove and serve hot.

Source: Simple Treats

In Pictures: Food of Jade Dragon 譽瓏軒 in Macau, China

Innovative and Traditional Regional Chinese Cuisine

The 3 Michelin Stars Restaurant

New Study Supports Lowering Age of First Colonoscopy

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . . . . .

The rate of colon cancer among Americans spikes sharply between the ages of 49 and 50, a new study finds — supporting the case for earlier screening for the disease.

Researchers say the uptick between those two ages does not reflect an actual increase in the occurrence of colon cancer but the fact that screening for the disease has traditionally begun at age 50. So “latent” cancers that had been present for some time are caught at that age.

Experts said the findings could have implications for colon cancer screening recommendations, which at the moment are conflicting.

For years, guidelines from various groups said that people at average risk of colon cancer should begin screening at age 50. Earlier screening was reserved for people at increased risk.

But in 2018, the American Cancer Society lowered its recommended threshold to age 45, largely due to a rising incidence of colon cancer among younger Americans.

But the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force — which sets federal screening standards — still recommends a starting age of 50 for people at average risk.

Given the debate, Dr. Jordan Karlitz said his team wanted to take a closer look at how Americans’ colon cancer rates change by yearly increments in age. Past studies, he explained, have looked at age blocks, like 45 to 49 and 50 to 54.

A year-by-year look, Karlitz said, could give a clearer picture of what’s going on among people in their 40s. It has long been suspected that incidence of colon cancer in that age range is higher than statistics show, because most people in their 40s are not screened.

The researchers expected to see an increase in colon cancer between age 49 and 50. What they found was a 46% rise.

“It was a steep uptick,” said Karlitz, an associate clinical professor at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. “We expected we’d see something, but not to that extent.”

The pattern probably reflects cancers that started before age 50 — even years before — but weren’t caught until screening started, according to Dr. Umut Sarpel.

Sarpel, who was not involved in the study, is an associate professor of surgical oncology at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York City.

“The results of this study support efforts to lower the screening age to less than 50 years,” Sarpel said.

The findings, published online in JAMA Network Open, are based on government cancer data for 2000 through 2015. Karlitz’s team focused on colon and rectal cancer rates among 30- to 60-year-olds.

During that period, the rate among 49-year-old Americans was just under 35 cases per 100,000 people. That jumped to 51 cases per 100,000 among 50-year-olds, the investigators found.

The vast majority of cases caught at age 50 — nearly 93% — were invasive, which means they would probably require more extensive treatment and had likely been there for some time.

Statistics show that most colon cancers are diagnosed after age 50. However, the rate among younger Americans has been on the rise, for reasons that remain unclear.

An American Cancer Society study found that since the mid-1990s, colon cancer rates among Americans aged 20 to 54 have been steadily inching up — by between 0.5% and 2% each year. Rectal cancer has risen faster, by 2% to 3% per year.

“It has been known for approximately 15 years that rates of colon and rectal cancers are rising among young patients,” said Dr. Joshua Meyer, a radiation oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. “This appears to be true both under age 40 and between age 40 and 50.”

What has been unclear, Meyer said, is how long colon tumors may be growing when they are finally caught through screening.

“This study makes it clear that these have been growing for a number of years,” said Meyer, who was not involved in the research.

The increase between ages 49 and 50 was seen not only for cancers confined to the colon and rectum, but also for regional cancers — meaning the disease has spread into nearby lymph nodes. There was also a small increase (just under 16%) in the most-advanced cancers — those that have spread to distant sites in the body.

Meyer said it’s concerning to see a rise in more-advanced cancers. The findings support “consideration of lowering of the screening age for colorectal cancer,” he said.

Researcher Karlitz said he hopes the results “shed light” on the fact that colon cancer is more common among people in their 40s than the statistics suggest.

For now, he said that people should discuss the best screening strategy, including starting age, with their doctor. And everyone — no matter how young they are — should act on potential cancer symptoms, Karlitz stressed.

Some potential red flags include a persistent change in bowel habits; abdominal pain or cramping; stool that is dark or has visible blood; and unintended weight loss.

Source: HealthDay

High-tempo Music May Make Exercise Easier and More Beneficial

With the start of the new year, gyms are at their busiest and many people are trying to establish a workout routine to improve their health. Getting an edge by making exercise easier and more effective could be the difference between success and guiltily returning to the warm embrace of the couch. What if doing something as simple as listening to a particular type of music could give you that edge?

A new study in Frontiers in Psychology is the first to show that listening to music at a higher tempo reduces the perceived effort involved in exercise and increases its benefits. These effects were greater for endurance exercises, such as walking, than for high-intensity exercises, such as weightlifting. The researchers hope that the findings could help people to increase and improve their exercise habits.

Many people listen to music while exercising and previous studies have documented some of the benefits. For instance, music can distract from fatigue and discomfort and increase participation in exercise. However, “how” we experience music is highly subjective, with cultural factors and personal preferences influencing its effects on individuals. Music is multifaceted with various aspects such as rhythm, lyrics and melody contributing to the experience.

Until now, researchers did not understand the specific properties of music that affect us during exercise, including which types of music are best suited to enhancing certain types of exercise. Understanding these specifics could help to unlock the full potential of music as an exercise enhancer.

The researchers set out to investigate the effect of the tempo of a piece of music on female volunteers performing either an endurance exercise (walking on a treadmill) or a high-intensity exercise (using a leg press).

The volunteers completed exercise sessions in silence, or while listening to pop music at different tempos. The researchers recorded a variety of parameters, including the volunteers’ opinions about the effort required to complete the exercises and their heart rate while exercising, as a higher heart rate would mean that the exercise was more beneficial for physical fitness.

“We found that listening to high-tempo music while exercising resulted in the highest heart rate and lowest perceived exertion compared with not listening to music,” explained Professor Luca P. Ardigò of the University of Verona in Italy. “This means that the exercise seemed like less effort, but it was more beneficial in terms of enhancing physical fitness.”

These effects were more noticeable in volunteers completing the endurance exercise sessions, compared with those performing high-intensity exercises, suggesting that people performing endurance activities such as walking or running may receive the greatest benefit from listening to high-tempo music.

The researchers hope that these results will provide a simple way to improve levels of physical activity. While the current study involved a small group of volunteer subjects, larger studies in the future will be needed to continue exploring the nuances of how music affects our training.

“In the current study, we investigated the effect of music tempo in exercise, but in the future we would also like to study the effects of other music features such as genre, melody, or lyrics, on endurance and high intensity exercise,” said Ardigò.

So, you could try playing fast-tempo music next time you hit the gym for a turbo-charged workout. Otherwise, it might at least get your foot tapping while you sit on the couch and eat chocolate.

Source: EurekAlert!


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