What’s for Dinner?

Home-cooked Japanese Dinner for Two

Pacific Saury Sashimi

Salt-grilled Pacific Saury

Baked Cod with Tomatoes and Olives

Ingredients

1 pound cod fillets (about 4 fillets), cut into 2-inch pieces
salt and black pepper
1 (14 ounces) can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped pitted black olives
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Spray 13 X 9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange cod fillets in dish. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Combine tomatoes, olives and garlic in medium bowl. Spoon over fish.
  3. Bake 20 minutes or until fish just begins to flake when tested with fork. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Irish Cooking Bible

Seafood Study Finds Plastic in All Samples

A study of five different seafoods has found traces of plastic in every sample tested.

Researchers bought oysters, prawns, squid, crabs and sardines from a market in Australia and analysed them using a newly developed method that identifies and measures five different plastic types simultaneously.

The study – by the University of Exeter and the University of Queensland – found plastic levels of 0.04 milligrams (mg) per gram of tissue in squid, 0.07mg in prawns, 0.1mg in oysters, 0.3mg in crabs and 2.9mg in sardines.

“Considering an average serving, a seafood eater could be exposed to approximately 0.7mg of plastic when ingesting an average serving of oysters or squid, and up to 30mg of plastic when eating sardines, respectively,” said lead author Francisca Ribeiro, a QUEX Institute PhD student.

“For comparison, 30mg is the average weight of a grain of rice.

“Our findings show that the amount of plastics present varies greatly among species, and differs between individuals of the same species.

“From the seafood species tested, sardines had the highest plastic content, which was a surprising result.”

Co-author Professor Tamara Galloway, of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute, said: “We do not fully understand the risks to human health of ingesting plastic, but this new method will make it easier for us to find out.”

The researchers bought raw seafood – five wild blue crabs, ten oysters, ten farmed tiger prawns, ten wild squid and ten wild sardines.

They then analysed them for the five different kinds of plastics that can be identified by the new method.

All of the plastics are commonly used in plastic packaging and synthetic textiles and are frequently found in marine litter: polystyrene, polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, polypropylene and poly(methyl methacrylate).

In the new method, edible tissues are treated with chemicals to dissolve the plastics present in the samples. The resulting solution is analysed using a highly sensitive technique called Pyrolysis Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry which can identify the different kinds of plastic in the sample at the same time.

Polyvinyl chloride was found in all samples, while the plastic found in highest concentrations was polyethylene.

Microplastics are very small pieces of plastic that pollute much of the planet, including the sea where they are eaten by marine creatures of all types, from small larvae and planktonic organisms to large mammals.

Studies to date show that microplastics not only enter our diet from seafood, but also from bottled water, sea salt, beer and honey, as well the dust that settles on our meals.

The new testing method is a step towards defining what microplastic levels can be considered harmful and assessing the possible risks of ingesting microplastics in food.

Source: EurekAlert!

People Who Feel Dizzy When They Stand Up May Have Higher Risk of Dementia

Why do some people stay sharp into their 90s, even if they have the amyloid plaques in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease? And why do others reach their 90s without ever developing any plaques? These questions are explored in a new study published in the online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study found the link with dementia only in people who have a drop in their systolic blood pressure, not in people with only a drop in their diastolic blood pressure or their blood pressure overall. Systolic is the first, or top, number in a blood pressure reading and systolic orthostatic hypotension was defined as a drop of at least 15 mm Hg after standing from a sitting position.

“People’s blood pressure when they move from sitting to standing should be monitored,” said study author Laure Rouch, Pharm.D., Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco. “It’s possible that controlling these blood pressure drops could be a promising way to help preserve people’s thinking and memory skills as they age.”

The study involved 2,131 people who were an average age of 73 and did not have dementia. Their blood pressure readings were taken at the start of the study and then one, three and five years later. A total of 15% had orthostatic hypotension, 9% had systolic orthostatic hypotension and 6% had diastolic orthostatic hypotension.

Over the next 12 years, the participants were evaluated to see if anyone developed dementia. A total of 462 people, or 22%, did develop the disease.

The people with systolic orthostatic hypotension were nearly 40% more likely to develop dementia than those who did not have the condition. Fifty of the 192 with systolic orthostatic hypotension, or 26%, developed dementia, compared to 412 of the 1,939 people without it, or 21%. When researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect dementia risk, such as diabetes, smoking and alcohol use, those with systolic orthostatic hypotension were 37% more likely to develop dementia.

The researchers also found that people whose sitting-to-standing systolic blood pressure readings changed the most from visit to visit were more likely to develop dementia years later than people whose readings were more stable.

The people were divided into three groups based on how much their readings changed over time. A total of 24% of people in the group with the most fluctuation in systolic readings later developed dementia, compared to 19% of the people in the group with the least fluctuation. When researchers adjusted for other factors affecting dementia risk, those in the highest group were 35% more likely to develop dementia than those in the lowest group.

Rouch noted that the study is observational and does not show cause and effect. It only shows an association between the blood pressure readings and the development of dementia. Another limitation of the study was that the diagnosis of dementia was made without distinction between Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Brain Waves Can be Used to Predict Future Pain Sensitivity

Rhythms produced by the brain can reliably be used to predict how sensitive we are to pain, new research shows.

The living brain is constantly producing regular rhythmic patterns of activity, which can be compared to musical notes. Scientists at the University of Birmingham in the UK, and the University of Maryland School of Dentistry in the US, have successfully demonstrated that one particularly prevalent pattern of brain activity, called alpha waves, strongly relates to the body’s susceptibility or resilience to pain.

Alpha waves oscillate between 8-14 Hz, with the peak frequency varying across individuals. The researchers demonstrated how a measurement of an individual’s alpha wave frequency can be used as a reliable pain indicator.

The study, led by graduate student Andrew Furman and published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, suggests that these alpha waves could be used to help clinicians understand how susceptible a patient to experience severe pain post-surgery.

Dr David Seminowicz, of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, is co-author of the study. He explains: “Understanding a patient’s pain sensitivity could be really important in, for example, deciding whether an elective procedure is the best option or planning post-surgery rehabilitation. Pain management drugs or techniques such as mindfulness meditation can also be used before surgery to help minimise pain.”

Dr Ali Mazaheri, from the University of Birmingham’s School of Psychology and Centre for Human Brain Health and also co-author of the study, adds: “Severe pain following surgery is often also a good indicator of whether or not a patient is likely to go on to develop chronic pain. Understanding whether or not a person is at high risk of developing these symptoms will help patients and clinicians make better informed choices about the best course of treatment.”

Alpha waves are just one type of electrical activity going on continually in our brains. They’re thought to be most present when a person is awake, but maybe idle. In our sensory systems, their presence signals that a particular part of the system has ‘closed down’ for processing. When the waves are reduced, that system is ready to start working again.

For most people these oscillations occur continuously in the brain at frequencies of between 8-14Hz. Previous research carried out by the group showed that people with alpha waves occurring at the higher end of this scale were more resilient to pain, while those at the lower end were more susceptible.

In this experiment, the team wanted to find out whether, by taking an initial measurement of the subject’s alpha waves, it was possible to predict their reaction to pain.

The researchers tested 61 healthy participants, both men and women, aged between 21 and 42. Alpha waves were measured in each participant using electroencephalography (EEG) and then participants were each exposed to two different pain episodes. In the first of these a cream containing capsaicin – the active ingredient in chilli peppers – was applied to produce sensitised skin; in the second participants underwent repeated applications of heat. After eight weeks, the subjects returned to repeat the experiment.

The results showed that measuring alpha waves did give a reliable indication of a person’s susceptibility or resilience to pain. These results were reliable both in the initial assessment and in the eight-week follow up.

In Birmingham, these principles are already being tested in partnership with clinicians at the Heartlands and Queen Elizabeth Hospitals. Dr Mazaheri is leading a study investigating the use of alpha waves and the pain experience of lung cancer patients undergoing lung biopsies.

“We know that lung surgery is a particularly painful procedure, with between 40 and 60 per cent of patients going on to develop debilitating pain after surgery,” explains Dr Mazaheri. “By predicting which patients are likely to develop this pain, we can start to explore other options, such as radiotherapy, or make sure that intensive rehabilitation programmes are in place to support those patients through recovery.”

Source: University of Birmingham