Thought for Food Blog

Gut Feelings: The gut-brain axis and mental health

Posted by Chris Cattini

01-Sep-2017 12:12:02

Our second brain

We have a second brain in our guts. Known as the enteric nervous system, it consists of a mesh-like network of around 100 million neurons lining the entire gastrointestinal tract. These neurons include a range of cell types operating via a complex system of circuitry largely independent of the central nervous system.

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Topics: zinc, sleep, fish, cereals, seafood, bacteria, fruit, vegetables, eggs, fibre, soy, meat, dairy, immune system, amino acids, neuroscience, fatty acids, nuts, tryptophan, gut health, cognitive function, mental health, central nervous system, fermented foods, supplements

Are Seed Vaults the Key to Food Security?

Posted by Tom Payne

17-Nov-2015 12:00:00

The Doomsday Seed Vaults

The idea of an impending Doomsday has existed in our collective conscious for centuries.

Whether approached from a religious or cultural bent (for example, 2012’s misunderstood Mayan calendar) or a more ‘worldly’ perspective (for instance, concerns over biotechnologies or nuclear warfare), the notion is by no means uncommon.

While the possibility of a global catastrophic event today appears distant, climate change and food insecurity – both imminent causes for concern – already have contingency plans in place. For over a decade, agricultural and food scientists worldwide have been establishing what many call the Doomsday Seed Vaults.

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Topics: genetic modification (GM), food security, cereals, protein, wheat, agriculture, food production, environment and sustainability

Taking the Fat Out of Processed Foods

Posted by Chris Cattini

14-Jan-2015 15:37:00

Since the discovery that dietary saturated fats increase plasma cholesterol levels, low fat foods have been an important area of research, mainly because a link was assumed between plasma cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease risk.

Recent studies have suggested that the connection between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular health is more tenuous than was previously thought. Despite this, advisory bodies, such as the British Heart Foundation, still recommend that people should avoid saturated fats as much as possible and eat small amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats.

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Topics: acrylamide, processed food, saturated fat, cereals, sensory perception, cholesterol, fibre, dairy, cardiovascular health, additives, fatty acids, sugar and substitutes, consumer behaviour

Heavy Metals in the Food Chain: Could They Be Harming Your Health?

Posted by Naomi McGrath

14-Nov-2014 15:59:00

Heavy metals are natural components of the earth’s crust; however, certain activities of mankind, such as mining and smelting, have led to them becoming concentrated in the environment, in some areas reaching potentially harmful levels. Other sources such as vehicle emissions, industrial waste and fertilizers also contribute to the accumulation of heavy metals in the soil, atmosphere and surface water.

Heavy metals can be severely detrimental to the human body, having toxic and carcinogenic effects and causing the oxidative deterioration of biological macromolecules. The various metals have been implicated in the development of many diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and several forms of cancer.

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Topics: omega-3, rice, fish, copper, cancer, arsenic, cereals, seafood, diabetes, vegetables, pregnancy, agriculture, toxins, regulations and guidance, contaminants, water, cognitive function, central nervous system

How Does Food Affect Sleep?

Posted by Naomi McGrath

01-Sep-2014 15:50:00

Sometimes, we all have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. Stress, noise disturbances and too much stimulation before bedtime can all contribute to us having difficulty drifting off. Sleep is essential for maintaining mood, memory and cognitive functions, and as well as having a negative impact on these factors, a lack of sleep can also have serious consequences for our health. Not only is it crucial for normal functioning of the endocrine and immune systems, a lack of sleep has also been linked with obesity, diabetes, hypertension and depression. Some dietary components have long been known to have a disruptive effect on sleep, but evidence is emerging of other interesting foods that may help us on the way to the land of nod.

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Topics: zinc, milk and milk substitutes, sleep, fish, caffeine, cereals, protein, diabetes, fruit, vegetables, eggs, coffee, obesity, alcohol, meat, magnesium, dairy, immune system, amino acids, tryptophan, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates, hormones, cognitive function, mental health

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