Coffee and (Carl Sagan) Apple Pie


Coffee, good for some, bad for others

I had a friend who was anti-coffee and would sneer at my ‘essence of death’, as he put it. Well, I have known all along that coffee is good for me. Scientists have waffled back and forth about the benefits and I do what most people do. I listen to the complimentary things researchers say about coffee as well as the negatives and then decide what to do based on how the research results apply to me. In my case (no high blood pressure, not pregnant, non-smoker), rejoice.

Here is an excerpt from the Wall Street Journal, Good News in the Daily Grind, that discusses the latest pros and the cons:

To judge by recent headlines, coffee could be the latest health-food craze, right up there with broccoli and whole-wheat bread.

This month alone, an analysis in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who drink three to four cups of java a day are 25% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who drink fewer than two cups. And a study presented at an American Association for Cancer Research meeting found that men who drink at least six cups a day have a 60% lower risk of developing advanced prostate cancer than those who didn’t drink any.

But don’t think you’ll be healthier graduating from a tall to a venti just yet. While there has been a splash of positive news about coffee lately, there may still be grounds for concern.

Continue reading here for the rest of the article and to check out the nifty ‘cup o’ joe’ graph that illustrates the pros and cons.

With that in mind

Remember when butter was bad and margarine was touted as the healthy choice? Now, years after I ignored the advice that sullied my ears, to eat margarine instead of butter, I am rewarded for my prescient consumption of the real thing as opposed to the artificial substitute by the acknowledgment by scientists that, why yes, butter is better than margarine.

Harvard Health Publications reports, in Butter vs. Margarine:

Today the butter-versus-margarine issue is really a false one. From the standpoint of heart disease, butter is on the list of foods to use sparingly mostly because it is high in saturated fat, which aggressively increases levels of LDL. Margarines, though, aren’t so easy to classify. The older stick margarines that are still widely sold are high in trans fats, and are worse for you than butter. Some of the newer margarines that are low in saturated fat, high in unsaturated fat, and free of trans fats are fine as long as you don’t use too much (they are still rich in calories).

Read the entire article here.

Now if incontrovertible proof were presented that coffee was bad for one’s health, the way that smoking has been proven to undeniably be detrimental to health, well that would be a different story. Until that happens, coffee is my friend.

To go with my coffee, in happy accompaniment, apple pie. Here is, via Neatorama, Carl Sagan’s Apple Pie Recipe:

Coffee:

A beverage as black as ink, useful against numerous illnesses,particularly those of the stomach. Its consumers take it in the morning, quite frankly, in a porcelain cup that is passed around and from which each one drinks a cupful. It is composed of water and the fruit from a bush called bunnu. — German physician and traveler,Leonhard Rauwolf, in 1583

No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee’s frothy goodness.  — Sheik Abd-al-Kadir

A morning without coffee is like sleep. — Author Unknown

The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce. — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.


Related Links:

We Are All Connected, featuring Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Bill Nye
Is Margarine one molecule away from being plastic? Read Snopes.com: The butter truth
Drinking Coffee, Decaf and Tea Regularly Associated With A Reduced Risk Of Diabetes
Coffee Consumption Associated With Reduced Risk of Prostate Cancer
Midlife Coffee And Tea Drinking May Protect Against Late-Life Dementia

The cat who got swine flu: first documented case of a cat getting H1N1

Image Annette Marie Hyder

In case you’ve been worrying about whether your cat can get H1N1 or not — it can.

A thirteen year old cat in Iowa is the first documented case of a feline with the new H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu.

The New York Times reports:

The cat, a 16-pound orange tabby, began acting lethargic and lost his appetite on Oct. 27. He is the only pet in the house and never goes outside. The cat, described as “large framed but not chubby,” stopped eating and drinking and stopped cleaning himself. He also rested by hunching on all four feet, rather than sprawling out on his side as usual, a sign of respiratory discomfort. A few days earlier, two out of three family members in the home had developed flu-like symptoms, with fever and body aches.

Read the entire article here.

Relevant link:

CDC’s (Centers for  Disease Control and Prevention  ) Questions and answers on 2009 H1N1 flu and you.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Check out nbcam.org for news and information about breast cancer awareness month as well as events and how you can help.

In celebration of breasts:

34B
Annette Marie Hyder
From The Consequence of Wings (On Angels and Monsters and Other Winged Things)

Huge mammoth hooters
mine are not.
My cup does not ‘runneth over’.
But they’re full
of personality
really outgoing.

Every time I
bend over low
they peek out at
the doctor’s/salesman’s/UPS guy’s
face
to see him drop his
composure/stance/jaw.

I like to display these
brazen bas-reliefs
on pedestals
like works of art
unveil them slowly
theatrically.

What could be better
than cherries
on top of ice-cream sundaes?

I have brought down
Goliaths
with these small missiles.
And while it’s true
that I have used them,
I’ve always only used them
for good.

A Wonderbra?
That would be like
giving firecrackers
a pep talk
like asking helium
to rise.

Daylight Saving Time

Photo courtesy of zingbeauty

Do you know why we set our clocks ahead an hour in spring, why we “spring forward”?

Daylight Saving Time did not, as many people think, originate with Benjamin Franklin. The letter he published in 1784, suggesting that Parisians economize on candles by rising earlier to use morning sunlight, also included proposals to tax shutters, ration candles, and wake the public by ringing church bells and firing cannons at sunrise The letter was satire and not intended to be taken seriously.


Daylight Saving Time inventor disliked cutting short his golf round at dusk

According to Wikipedia:

The prominent English builder and outdoorsman William Willett conceived DST in 1905 during a pre-breakfast ride, when he observed with dismay how many Londoners slept through a large part of a summer day. An avid golfer, he also disliked cutting short his round at dusk. His solution was to advance the clock during the summer months, a proposal he published two years later. He lobbied unsuccessfully for the proposal until his death in 1915.

Shortly after his death, in 1916, Germany, its World War I allies, and their occupied zones were the first European nations to use
Willett’s invention, starting April 30, 1916. Britain, most of its
allies, and many European neutrals soon followed suit. Russia and a few
other countries waited until the next year; and the United States
adopted it in 1918. Since then, the world has seen many enactments,
adjustments, and repeals.

So, because William Willett wanted to extend his game of golf (and following the lead of World War I Germany), I have to get up an hour earlier? Kvetch and grumble!

If you are groggy this morning because of springing forward, I tilt my coffee mug to you in solidarity, empathize with your forced conformity to extra-early-birdness and direct your attention to the following links that may be of interest:

Daylight Saving Time actually raises utility bills
Daylight Saving Time wastes energy, study says
Daylight Saving Time related health concerns
End Daylight Savings Time

Smarter men have better sperm

Buddy Holly photo courtesy of blogs.smarter.com

A study has found that smarter men = better sperm

That headline makes me smile and picture bespectacled sperm that are thinking Smarty-McSmarty-pants thoughts as they swim along (I’m imagining  thought bubbles over the eyeglass-wearing sperm that say things like “E=mc2” and “Eureka!”)

The study, quoted below, that indicates that smarter men have better sperm also raises questions in my mind (via the movie Idiocracy) about other studies that have shown that the more educated people become, the less children they have, so that evolution would not be selecting for intelligence but reproductive success.

Anyway:

Women tend to like smart men because they’re usually more successful and better providers. But here’s another reason: Their sperm is better, a new study says.

Researchers at King’s College London, the University of Delaware and the University of New Mexico recently compared results from five intelligence tests given to 425 Vietnam War vets in 1985 as part of the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention’s Vietnam Experience Study. These vets, aged 31 to 44, also provided sperm samples, so the researchers analyzed the sperm per milliliter of semen, plus how many of the sperm swam normally, and other measures of sperm health.

The smarter the men were, the more sperm they produced and the better their wee ones swam — and it didn’t matter how old the men were or whether they smoked, drank or were obese.

The researchers speculate that intelligence might be passed down as part of a larger package of good attributes. One gene can influence multiple traits, so the genes involved in smarts may somehow improve sperm quality — and perhaps other characteristics as well.

Full article at Live Science

Men who wear glasses are hot

Studies have shown that people who wear glasses are perceived as more intelligent — and more sexually attractive. I do tend to think guys who wear glasses are hot. I know I’m not the only one. The smarter men/better sperm study could help explain why intelligence can be so sexy. It
could also, says study co-author Geoffrey Miller, a psychologist at the
University of New Mexico, simply be an indicator that a person has a lot of good genes and
traits. Well, duh.

Consuming eggs during pregnancy may prevent breast cancer in offspring

A Good Egg is Hard to Find, Emily Martin. Print available through Etsy.com

Eat your eggs

Another reason to love eggs: consuming eggs during pregnancy may safeguard your offspring against breast cancer.

A stunning discovery based on epigenetics (the inheritance of
propensities acquired in the womb) reveals that consuming choline—a
nutrient found in eggs and other foods—during pregnancy may
significantly affect breast cancer outcomes for a mother’s offspring.

This finding by a team of biologists at Boston University is the
first to link choline consumption during pregnancy to breast cancer. It
also is the first to identify possible choline-related genetic changes
that affect breast cancer survival rates.

“We’ve known for a long time that some agents taken by pregnant
women, such as diethylstibesterol, have adverse consequences for their
daughters,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB
Journal. “But there’s an upside. The emerging science of epigenetics
has yielded a breakthrough. For the first time, we’ve learned that we
might be able to prevent breast cancer as early as a mother’s
pregnancy.”

Science Daily

Could eating an egg a day also help women produce bigger and healthier babies?

That’s
the theory being tested in a new trial at Rutgers University in New
Jersey, where women are having an egg a day from their fourth or fifth
month of pregnancy onwards. Foetal growth will be measured to test the
egg effect.

It’s known that poor nutrition during pregnancy can lay the foundations for the child’s health well into adult life.

Previous
research has confirmed eggs as a good source of nutrition during
pregnancy. During this time women need more protein, omega-3 fatty
acids and vitamins and minerals, including folate, iron and zinc, which
have been linked to improved development and lowering of the risk of
birth defects. Eggs contain all of these.

Mail Online


Eggs, glorious eggs

Eggs are a great source of protein and are packed with numerous vitamins, including vitamin A, potassium and many B vitamins like folic acid, choline and biotin. You can find delicious recipes from breakfast to brunch and all the way through dinner and desserts that have eggs as their base here.


Egg Quotes:

He’d offer you an egg if you promised not to break the shell
. — Irish Proverb

A hen is only an egg’s way of making another egg. — Samuel Butler

Nothing is so beautiful as spring — when weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush; Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring the ear, it strikes like lightning to hear him sing. — Gerard Manley Hopkins

Crack
Annette Marie Hyder
Previously published in An Appalachian Country Rag

You can taste it
in the peppermint burst of flavor you get
when you breathe in an icy breath
of last night’s
last ice storm
of the season.

You can see it in the bird’s
wings flapping
like meaningful tea leaves
floating across
the china cup bowl of the sky.

You feel it colored thickly
on your skin
by the crayon yellow sunshine.

CRACK —
rain running down
the sides of trees
leaves colors in its paths.

Spring has cracked all over you
like an egg
bright yellow
and wet.

Body can produce its own aspirin

Photo courtesy of peoplespharmacy

New Year’s Day headache?

If you, like many others around the world today, have a New Year’s Day headache (and/or a hangover), you’re probably at that fragile state teetering between kill-me-already and let-me-die.
 

Hair of the dog

The bad news: The old remedy of a hair of the dog that bit you will not help your hangover/headache. In fact, it can worsen it after temporarily blunting some of the symptoms. Science Daily reports that there is no reliable evidence that hangover cures work.

The idea of Similia similibus curantur (“like cures like”) dates back at least to the time of Hippocrates and the phrase, hair of the dog, can be traced back to Shakespeare’s time:

The origin of the phrase is literal, and comes from an erroneous method of treatment of a rabid dog bite by placing hair from the dog in the bite wound. The use of the phrase as a metaphor for a hangover treatment dates back to the time of William Shakespeare. Ebenezer Cobham Brewer writes in the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898): “In Scotland it is a popular belief that a few hairs of the dog that bit you applied to the wound will prevent evil consequences. Applied to drinks, it means, if overnight you have indulged too freely, take a glass of the same wine next morning to soothe the nerves. ‘If this dog do you bite, soon as out of your bed, take a hair of the tail in the morning.'”

Wikipedia


Zesty armpits and fried canaries

Despite a lack of scientific evidence, people swear by their cures and
you can find many online sources that tout various cures–from rubbing your armpits with a lemon (allegedly a Puerto Rican cure)  to  fried canaries (ancient Romans). There’s even a patron saint of hangovers, St. Vivian, and a patron saint of headaches, St. Teresa of Avila; you can get your own St. Vivian figurine here.  There’s a brief history of hangover cures for your perusing pleasure at Time.com

Body can produce its own aspirin

Here’s the good news: a study suggests that the human body can produce salicylic acid, the key component that gives aspirin its
anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

Salicylic acid (SA) previously had been found in the blood of people
who had not taken aspirin recently — especially vegetarians. This made
sense because salicylic acid is a natural substance found in fruits and
vegetables.

However, researchers in the United Kingdom who gave study participants benzoic acid, another natural substance in fruits and vegetables that the human body could use to produce salicylic acid, concluded that people can make their own SA based on the subsequent changes in the participants’ SA levels.

Their findings appear in the Dec. 24 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

US News and World Report

So, your body just might be trying to give you some relief right now.
 

Two aspirin
Annette Marie Hyder
Previously published in Aesthetica Magazine

He says
What? You came
all the way to NYC
and you didn’t even call?
We could have had coffee!

How do I tell him?
I really didn’t
feel like seeing you
just now.

I know what an aspirin
time and distance can be
for the headache of love
so I’m taking two
and I will “call you in the morning.”