Scientific Social


Why Do We Cook?

We differ from animals in a lot of ways, but what is it about us that got us to where we are? Most might say it is the utilization of tools, but a lot of animals use tools. So what is it then?

It’s our brains. This may be unsurprising, but how did our brains grow to be much bigger than our closest relatives? According to Richard Wrangham, a primatologist, it was cooking our food!

Cooking our food granted us access to a greater amount of energy than raw food would. This freed up more time for other activities such as language development, social interaction/cooperation, and tool making.

Watch Richard Wrangham’s lecture on this topic below

Read more at the Smithsonian – Fire makes us human.

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Honey is Better For You Than Other Sweeteners… Right? Well, Not So Fast.

Nutrition research is complicated. One study doesn’t overturn all previous studies. Most studies concerning nutrition have small sample sizes so their conclusions should be taken with a grain of salt.

That isn’t to say that making scientific statements about nutrition is impossible! It’s just that grandiose, click-baity headlines like “Honey is Better for You Than Other Sweeteners” (pot, meet kettle?) are probably misrepresenting or overstating the actual findings of the research and don’t consider how robust (large enough sample size, proper and meaningful statistics, etc.) the study is.

Aaron Carroll explains the pitfalls and difficulties of nutritional research in the above video!

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Five Chemicals That Are In Just About Everything You Eat

Ever wonder what you’re eating when you eat processed food? What exactly ARE these additives such as red dyes, xanthan gum, carrageenan, citric acid, and sodium benzoate?

SciShow takes us through five common chemical additives while also discussing topics like what it means to be classified as GRAS by the FDA.

CNN Health has compiled a table that includes many different food additives and their use, purpose, and possible side effects.

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You Probably Don’t Need to be On a Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten has been a hot topic lately. But what is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein that is found in grain products such as wheat, barely and rye. Approximately one percent of Americans suffer from Celiac disease, a condition in which gluten triggers an allergic reaction in the small intestine, interfering with the absorption of food. This is a serious disease which can, if left untreated, lead to serious illness and even death. It’s a good thing it’s relatively easy to treat, especially now that gluten-free diets are the new fad.

Though, as the title suggests, most (non-Celiac) people don’t need to be on a gluten-free diet; even those who claim to have a “gluten sensitivity.” Those people are most likely responding negatively to FODMAPS, rather than gluten. Diets low in FODMAPS have been shown to help treat the symptoms of irritable bowl syndrome, which may be confused with symptoms of Celiac disease.

Doctor Aaron Carroll explains!

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Sitting To Death: The Dangers of a Sedentary Lifestyle

In the next segment of our health and fitness series, we again look to Dr. Aaron Carroll of Healthcare Triage to find out how we can use science to our advantage to easily improve our health, adding years to our lives.

We’ve seen it in the news for a while that spending the majority of your time sitting could negatively impact your health. Is it it worse than smoking cigarettes? Can a well balanced diet and solid regiment of exercise negate the effects of a sedentary lifestyle?

Cutting To The Chase – What Can We Do?

The University of Missouri Health recently reported that “…blood flow in the popliteal — an artery in the lower leg — was greatly reduced after sitting at a desk for six hours. Researchers then had the participants take a short walk, and found that 10 minutes of self-paced walking could restore the impaired vascular function and improve blood flow.” The article went on stating ““When you have decreased blood flow, the friction of the flowing blood on the artery wall, called shear stress, is also reduced. […] Moderate levels of shear stress are good for arterial health, whereas low levels of shear stress appear to be detrimental and reduce the ability of the artery to dilate. Dilation is a sign of vascular health. The more the artery can dilate and respond to stimuli, the healthier it is.” So what are we to do?

Become more active and move !

Even if your job requires you to be at a desk for eight hours a day, there is so much you can do to help off-set the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Below you’ll find some ideas to help get you started on becoming more active without dramatically changing your routine:

  • During work (if possible) get up every hour or two and walk around for a few minutes.
  • Park towards the back of parking lots.
  • Go for a walk instead of watching TV.
  • When possible, take public transportation, ride a bike, or walk to your destinations.
  • If talking on the phone, walk around instead of sitting.

Have a recommendation? Let us know in the comments below!

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Excercise is NOT The Key To Weight Loss

Exercise is great as it helps strengthen muscles, promotes positive posture, and can help alleviate a wide variety of common issues and ailments common among many adults. But if weight loss is the ultimate goal, exercise alone won’t do the trick!

Continuing our health and fitness series, we look another video by Dr. Aaron Carroll of Healthcare Triage to find out how making some simple changes to our diet and lifestyle can easily allow us to reach our weight loss goals.

The Secret To Weight Loss

Well, it’s not really a secret. The following has been known by scientists for a very long time. Unfortunately, many of us are fixated on quick fixes and the next new thing. Time and time again, it’s proven there is no such thing as a quick fix. So, how do you reach your weight loss goals? Consider the following:

“…anytime one consumes fewer Calories than one burns, there will be weight loss.” (Brooks, Fahey, & Baldwin, 2005, p. 22)

When we eat more calories than needed, our bodies store this excess for later, usually as fat. If you continue this trend, you’ll start to notice you have a whole lot of stored energy! By simply consuming fewer calories than you burn, your body will start to use its stored energy to make up for the deficit.

Not sure how many calories you’re consuming? Unsure of how many calories you need? We found using calorie counting/weight loss apps such as Lose It! or, if you have an android, S-Health can give you great insight into your daily habits and reveal areas of opportunity. These apps will tell you how many calories you should be consuming based on gender, age, and current weight loss goals.

For Sustained Health, Don’t Go On A Diet

Generally, diets do not work because they fail to deal with the underlying issues of being overweight nor do they teach better life long eating habits. Most people are looking for quick, easy solutions to their problems. While some diets may work initially, old habits quickly take over again.

Even the ever popular low-carbohydrate diets, while producing quick weight-loss results, are not sustainable in the long term and can lead to serious health issues. Perhaps best stated by the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine:

Low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets are very popular, but the recommendations of many of these diets are diametrically opposed to those put forth by the US Department of Agriculture, the American Heart Association, and other national organizations. Their focus on foods high in protein, fat, and cholesterol has potentially serious health implications.

So what should you be eating? Below is an incomplete list to get you started on the right path of eating better, losing weight, and maintaining overall health for the long term:

  • Proteins: Turkey, white meat chicken, ground beef (90%+ lean), round steak, top loin, top sirloin, pork tenderloin, lamb tenderloin, eggs, tuna, salmon, bean/lentils, almonds, walnuts
  • Fats: Olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, flaxseed, walnuts, butternuts, sunflower seeds, olives, whole grain wheat, avocados, salmon, tuna, mackerel
  • Carbs: Strawberries, apples, sweet potato, rye bread, chickpeas, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, parsnips , seven-grain (Ezekiel) bread, rolled oats.


Why Diets Fail — Expert Diet Advice as a Cause of Diet Failure

Exercise Physiology: Human Bioenergetics and Its Applications, McGraw-Hill Education; 4 edition

Physician’s Guide to Popular Low-Carbohydrate Weight-Loss Diets

United States Department of Agriculture

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Exercise Is Really Good For You. Like, REALLY Good For You.

This may not come as a surprise, but… HOW good for you is it?  As it turns out… well, spoilers in the title – REALLY good.

Dr. Aaron Carroll explains!

“My issue with the way we sell exercise, is that sometimes it feels too much like the way we sell organic food. The people who are doing way more than they need to are panicked that they’re not doing enough when there are far too many people out there who are doing none at all.”

What Exercises Are The Most Effective?

Now you know how beneficial exercising is to your health and how often you should exercise. But what exercises should you do?

To be as effective as possible, you’ll want to preform exercises that work multiple parts of your body and mimic movements you make on a daily basis. Not only is this an efficient use of time, but it will help make day-to-day tasks easier to accomplish. Below, you’ll find several exercises that you can do anytime, any where!


One of our favorite exercises!  Squats work almost every muscle in your lower body and core, making daily tasks like climbing stairs to picking up heavy furniture much easier. Unfortunately, this fundamental exercise is preformed incorrectly majority of the time due to a lack of understanding of body mechanics. Below, Rachel Vaziralli from Howcast demonstrates how to do the perfect squat:


While squats primarily focus on the lower body, the push-up focuses on the upper body targeting the back, arms, chest, and core. As with the squat, the push-up works several muscles at once and can help improve posture. The video below demonstrates how to do both the standard push-up as well as a modified version for beginners:


Burpees are a fantastic multi-joint, multi-plane exercise that combines squats, push-ups, and cardio into one exercise. Burpees are a pretty intensive; be sure not to over do it! By adding in this anaerobic exercise into your routine, you’ll see improvements in both heart and lung health. Check out the video below to get a step-by-step guide on how to execute the perfect burpee:

Those of you who want to read more can go here.



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Why Are Honeybees Dying?

There isn’t a simple, one word answer to this question.  As the video explains, there are several factors negatively affecting bee populations.

However, not among those factors is electromagnetic radiation (EM) from cell phones as there has been no established link between Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and EM radiation.  Another notable absence is genetically modified crops (a.k.a., GMOs).  A meta-analysis (basically, a study of studies) of 25 different studies that looked at how GM crops affect honey bees was unable to find “any direct negative effects.”

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Coffee: Is it Good For You or Bad For You??

It seems like every other week there’s a new study that says coffee is good for us, but then another study comes out that says it’s bad for us.  So which is it?

Well, it turns out the media doesn’t always tell us the whole story (who knew!).  Drinking coffee (in reasonable amounts) is actually good for you!  But what about the studies that say it’s bad for you?

Doctor Aaron Carol explains the evidence.

To The Research!

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What Should You Be Eating?

Dr. Aaron Carroll does a lot of debunking of medical myths over on Healthcare Triage, fad diets being among them. In this video he explains what you should be eating, or more accurately, what he eats and why you should too! The aim of this advice is to make you more conscience of what you eat and how you eat it. Don’t try to demonize a particular food group as the evidence for doing so is often controversial at best.

This advice won’t work for everyone, however.  If you have certain conditions that limit the foods available to you, follow those restrictions.

Everyone is different. Listen to your bodies. You should experiment and find what works for you!

Here is a handy infographic his team produced!

Graphic summarizing Aaron's recommended diet for healthy people

Graphic summarizing Aaron’s recommended diet for healthy people.

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