Filed under: Brave New World, Connections, Government, Health, Marketing, Politics, Predictions, Science, Society | Tags: CDC, health, jim downey, politics, predictions, salt, science
<sarcasm> Gee, I’m stunned </sarcasm>:
In a report that undercuts years of public health warnings, a prestigious group convened by the government says there is no good reason based on health outcomes for many Americans to drive their sodium consumption down to the very low levels recommended in national dietary guidelines.
Not only did they determine that there was little benefit in pushing for such low levels of overall salt intake, there might actually be health risks associated with such low levels. From the same article:
One 2008 study the committee examined, for example, randomly assigned 232 Italian patients with aggressively treated moderate to severe congestive heart failure to consume either 2,760 or 1,840 milligrams of sodium a day, but otherwise to consume the same diet. Those consuming the lower level of sodium had more than three times the number of hospital readmissions — 30 as compared with 9 in the higher-salt group — and more than twice as many deaths — 15 as compared with 6 in the higher-salt group.
Another study, published in 2011, followed 28,800 subjects with high blood pressure ages 55 and older for 4.7 years and analyzed their sodium consumption by urinalysis. The researchers reported that the risks of heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure and death from heart disease increased significantly for those consuming more than 7,000 milligrams of sodium a day and for those consuming fewer than 3,000 milligrams of sodium a day.
OK, current CDC guidelines, dating back to 2005 (though based on research going back into the 1980s):
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), 2010 recommend reducing sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day. The DGA’s also recommend you should further reduce sodium to 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day if:
- You are 51 years of age or older.
- You are African American.
- You have high blood pressure.
- You have diabetes.
- You have chronic kidney disease.
The 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population overall and the majority of adults. Nearly everyone benefits from reduced sodium consumption. Eating less sodium can help prevent, or control, high blood pressure.
How does this compare to what people actually consume? Well, sodium consumption from salt around the world is about 3,400 mg per person per day. This amount is pretty consistent across cultures, and has remained pretty stable over decades. In other words, the current governmental recommendations say you should be ingesting half to two-thirds of what people have been consistently ingesting. And there have been efforts by governments to impose increasingly strict limitations on salt consumption, usually through limitations on salt use in prepared foods.
There are two problems with that: one, there really isn’t good science to back up the limitations (as noted above). And two, limiting salt in prepared foods changes not only the flavor of the foods, but also the “mouthfeel“. And one of the easiest/most common ways to correct this is with the increased use of lipids (usually fats of one sort or another), since they have a similar effect to salt in creating food density. Meaning that people are probably ingesting more calories in response to prepared foods which has less salt in it. And since obesity is increasingly problematic …
Talk about your unintended consequences. Such is the danger of social engineering of just about every sort.
I started this post with the <sarcasm> </sarcasm> cues because I’ve long been skeptical of the science behind strict salt limitations. As I have noted previously, the evidence backing up strict limitations has been very mixed for decades. And there has been indication that for at least a substantial segment of the population, salt sensitivity wasn’t a problem at all. Now seeing that there is little evidence that lowering salt levels is beneficial for the general population, and that indeed there may be real risks in doing so?
Pass the salt, please.
Filed under: Astronomy, Augmented Reality, Brave New World, ISS, Man Conquers Space, Music, NASA, Science, Science Fiction, Space, tech, YouTube | Tags: Chris Hadfield, David Bowie, ISS, music, NASA, science, Science Fiction, space, video, www youtube
How cool is this?
How cool is Chris Hadfield?
Filed under: Art, Astronomy, Fireworks, Music, NASA, NPR, Science, Space, YouTube | Tags: art, fireworks, Jerry Lee Lewis, jim downey, music, NASA, NPR, science, Solar Dynamics Observatory, space, www youtube
Via NPR, this gorgeous, stunning vid:
And while I think the music they use is wonderful, I think they missed an obvious choice …
Filed under: Astronomy, Brave New World, Jupiter, NASA, NPR, Predictions, Saturn, Science, Science Fiction, SETI, Space, tech | Tags: blogging, David Charbonneau, exogenesis, exoplanets, Goldilocks, jim downey, Jupiter, Kepler mission, NASA, NPR, predictions, Saturn, science, Science Fiction
As something of a follow-up to yesterday’s post, news today of the discovery (thanks to the Kepler mission) of three exoplanets which are very good candidates for harboring life. First, their size is within an order of magnitude of Earth’s — and, specifically, less than twice the size of Earth — meaning that they’re not gas giants such as Saturn or Jupiter. Secondly, and at least as importantly, they fall within the “habitable zone” in their star system. That’s the so-called “Goldilocks Zone” where liquid water can exist (it’s not too cold and not too hot).
This is exciting! As it is put in the article:
Two of the three detailed in the new findings in the journal Science are of particular interest: Kepler-62-e and Kepler-62-f. William Borucki, the chief scientist for NASA’s Kepler telescope, says the planets are slightly wider than Earth, but not too big. Kepler-62-e is a bit toasty, like a Hawaiian world and Kepler-62-f is a bit nippy, more Alaskan, Borucki tells the AP.
“This is the first one where I’m thinking, ‘Huh, Kepler-62-f really might have life on it,’ ” said study co-author David Charbonneau of Harvard. “This is a very important barrier that’s been crossed. Why wouldn’t it have life?”
Filed under: Astronomy, Brave New World, Connections, movies, Music, NASA, New Horizons, NPR, Predictions, Science, Science Fiction, SETI, Society, Space, tech, YouTube | Tags: 13.7 Blog, blogging, Communion of Dreams, Drake Equation, exoplanets, jim downey, Kepler mission, Marcelo Gleiser, music, NASA, NPR, Pink Floyd, predictions, science, Science Fiction, SETI, space, technology, TESS, The Wall, www youtube
From the opening pages of Communion of Dreams:
Jon sat there for a moment, trying to digest what Seth said. According to what pretty much everyone thought, it wasn’t possible. SETI, OSETI, META and BETA had pretty much settled that question for most scientists decades ago, and twenty years of settlement efforts throughout the solar system hadn’t changed anyone’s mind. Even with the Advanced Survey Array out at Titan Prime searching nearby systems for good settlement prospects, there had never been an indication that there was an intelligent, technologically advanced race anywhere within earshot.
It’s one of the very basic questions of space science: are we (sentient beings) unique? Rare? Common? There are a lot of ways to think about it, and here’s a nice piece on NPR discussing some of the relevant parts of the question and what we’re doing about it. An excerpt:
So, to address the first part of the question we must find out how unique the Earth is. We then should figure out how unique life, and humans, are. Fortunately, thanks to NASA’s Kepler mission, we are making huge progress in the first part of the answer. A key finding is that the majority of stars (around 70 percent) have at least one planet orbiting around them. Based on the data so far (2,740 planet candidates and 115 confirmations), Kepler scientists estimate that some 17 percent of these are Earth-size, meaning with similar mass and rocky composition as the Earth, and possibly close enough to their parent star that water, if present, could be in its liquid state.
More good news arrived on this front earlier this month as NASA authorized the construction of Kepler’s successor, TESS (for Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite). With launch scheduled for 2017, TESS will survey a much wider area of the sky than Kepler, while focusing mostly on stars that are closer. This way, it will use spectroscopy to resolve at least part of the atmospheric composition of the exoplanets. The goal is to find telling signs of life-related compounds such as ozone, water, carbon dioxide and, if we’re really lucky, even chlorophyll. Successful detection would be very exciting, as it’d point to what optimists expect, a few fairly close Earth-like planets with metabolizing beings.
I hope I live long enough that science is able to make a definitive affirmation of life, then intelligent life, outside our own planet.
Until then, well, there’s science fiction.
Filed under: Connections, DARPA, Government, movies, Predictions, Science, Science Fiction, Society, tech | Tags: Boston Dynamics, jim downey, movies, predictions, robotics, science, Science Fiction, technology, video, www youtube
I know how it ends.
Filed under: Book Conservation, Carl Zimmer, Connections, Faith healing, Health, National Geographic, Predictions, Psychic abilities, Science, Science Fiction, Society, Writing stuff | Tags: blogging, book conservation, bookbinding, Carl Zimmer, civilization, Communion of Dreams, dental hygiene, diet, Ed Yong, evolution, faith healing, genetics, health, jim downey, National Geographic, predictions, psychic abilities, science, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, writing
I’ve been entirely preoccupied with a big book conservation project which landed in my lap unexpectedly and needed attention right away (and trying to keep work going on St. Cybi’s Well), but a news item I saw the other day has been kicking around in my head. Er, so to speak. It’s the notion that the quality of dental hygiene & health in the modern era is *much* worse than it was before the advent of civilization. Here’s a good passage from one of the better articles which sums this up:
Our mouths are now a gentrified shadow of their former selves. And as Carl Zimmer described earlier this week, ecosystems with an impoverished web of species are more vulnerable to parasites. He was writing about frogs and lakes, but the same is true of bacteria and mouths. The narrow range of microbes in industrialised gobs are more vulnerable to invasions by species that cause disease, cavities, and other dental problems. “As an ecosystem, it has lost resilience,” says Cooper. “It basically became a permanent disease state.”
Of course, current thinking is that this is due to a fairly radical change in diet between the two time periods, with our reliance now on domesticated grain crops.
But I know the real reason:
“He had a nutty theory that early man had been shortlived, but impervious to disease. Something about being able to trace back mutation clues to some proto-genes that suggested a powerful ability to heal.” Jackie frowned.
Yeah, that’s from almost the end of Communion of Dreams. And is a topic we’ll revisit in the prequel.