It would be hard to miss the newsflash the other day that Kirin Holdings and Meiji University have done it once again. In another new technological breakthrough, they have produced some slightly shocking results. The same Japanese partnership that brought us Taste the TV – the first “lick-able” TV screen to accurately mimic food flavours in real time – have come up with something even better. They have created a ‘chopstick device’ that can boost the taste of salt in foods while you eat them. The chopsticks are essentially connected by a wire to a mini-computer that is worn on a wristband and creates electrical stimulation waveform that works its magic to make lower-sodium foods taste saltier when eaten. In fact, the device is able to supercharge the perceived saltiness of foods by 1.5 times without changing the actual salt content of each bite.
Although the thought of voluntarily putting a pair of electrically charged chopsticks attached to a lead into your mouth might sound like a badly thought out dare, the charge is said to be too weak to affect the human body. Yet it is just strong enough to affect the perception of taste. Which means that it could be a useful tool to help people eat a diet that is lower in salt and healthier without missing any salty flavour. This joint project is part of an overall aim of Kirin Holdings to support lifestyle disease prevention and addressing the very high salt consumption rates in Japan is a good place to start. Because the evidence is crystal clear. High salt consumption is a real killer.
You may have noticed the recent outcry in the media about the new government regulations that have come into force requiring calorie information to be displayed on menus in England. You would be hard pressed to find many in favour of this initiative, at least publicly, as it feels like there has been a complete dogpile on any dissenting opinions. To recap, critics of this new law say that simply shifting the responsibility onto customers by giving them the calorie counts of meals and then expecting them to make healthy choices is hardly going make a dent in the obesity crisis. Displaying calories on menus may also cause anxiety and stress to those who are vulnerable or who are already suffering from eating disorders. As a Registered Nutritionist, I cannot disagree with either of these criticisms. But I am going to have to also stick my neck out to say that I am think cafes, restaurants and takeaways should display the calorie information of non-prepacked food and soft drink items that are prepared for customers. In fact, I would argue that the more readily available information we have about our food and drink, the better.
As I sat down to work the other week on an ordinary Tuesday morning, the small print in my diary announced that it was International Women’s Day. This year’s theme was #BreakTheBias which focuses on not just acknowledging gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping but advocates actively calling it out every time we see it. I couldn’t help thinking that this year’s theme couldn’t be more apt as it is simply not enough to only think about these issues on a dedicated day. In fact, after reading the results of a recent survey by the charity, Women in Sport, it left me in no doubt that our girls and young women need our support to excel every day.
With the recent back-to-back storms of Dudley, Eunice and Franklin battering the UK with increasing force as they tried to outdo each other in what must be the ultimate battle of sibling rivalry, there haven’t been many opportunities to exercise safely outside. It’s all very well to be told by some hardened Scandinavian veteran that ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes’ but how exactly do you dress for 80mph winds without losing an item or two? I fear for the owners of small dogs who must struggle to grip their leashes while praying that they don’t fly away as the tail of a dog-shaped kite. I thought the gym would be the obvious workout solution to escape the wintery elements. But the extreme gym air con set to ice age temperatures and incoming draught of polar winds from outdoors only gave me a bad cold. A rest day was definitely in order. Although, as I hunkered down indoors and tried to catch up on some culinary reading I was only more distracted by the sound of the wind whipping the windows. As the wind circled the garden and violently toppled over every piece of heavily anchored piece of furniture almost as an afterthought, my thoughts quickly turned to comfort. After all, it was getting close to dinnertime…
For many people, the commencement of another New Year doesn’t just remind them that time is passing by far quicker than they thought and confirms the obvious, that they really are getting old. It also marks a time of the year when the masses devote themselves to having another go at making a big change all wrapped up in some fat resolutions. The majority of these resolutions always seem to relate to diet and exercise but it’s hardly surprising when they more than often resemble the same good intentions from the previous year. Nonetheless, every January the number of people who sign up to Dry January, Veganuary, start a new diet or weight-loss programme, join a gym or commit to running an extremely a long race seems to only grow.
It may only be November but with the onslaught of newly launched tv ads, the countdown to Christmas has begun, in earnest. Although with the leaves still clinging on tightly to the trees, it barely looks autumnal outside and seems a bit early to be thinking about mince pies and cosy log fires. Nonetheless, pre-orders for Christmas foods and delivery slots have reportedly sold out at several leading supermarkets leading many people to panic buy for a meal more than a month away. Whether this mad rush to be ready in time for the holidays has been influenced by last year’s largely cancelled Covid Christmas or by today’s unrelenting shipping delays that now also threaten late presents as Brexit takes back control, there is no avoiding the chaos. But at least while you try to source the last remaining turkey in the UK you can enjoy the unveiling of festive cheer between two slices with the commencement of Christmas sandwich season.
Food waste has always been a real bugbear of mine but like most people, I hold a particular bias. Although no one likes to discover some long forgotten food item in their kitchen that has clearly aged well beyond its use-by-date, I absolutely despair when something that was perfectly edible and especially tasty is needlessly wasted. Therefore, for purely selfish – or perhaps, more accurately – greedy reasons, it really pains me when the discarded foodstuff in question is something that I like to eat. Which is why when I read in the media about the recent arrest of a couple of spies for espionage-related charges I shuddered with horror. Not because they had been trying to sell secrets about nuclear powered US submarines in an eerie Vigil-like copycat. But that the spies had concealed an SD card containing highly classified information with a message wrapped in plastic inside half of a peanut butter sandwich. It was used in a ‘dead-drop’ in an outrageous abuse of peanut butter!
With life comes risks and that is never so true as when it comes to running. Because being a runner means that you have to accept the risk that one day, you may injure yourself. But all runners know that the benefits of running far outweigh any risk of injury. Otherwise they’d never lace up. However, that does not mean that being injured is any easier. In fact, as someone who has been forced to take a break from running due to a badly injured knee I feel like a grizzly with a sore paw. Impossible to reason with while equally despondent and impatient by not recovering soon enough. Who wants to RICE all the time when they feel in every bone in their body (apart from their sore paw) that they really should be running? Not this grizzly!