debunking detox

I have been reading up more on the whole idea of doing “detoxes” and “cleanses” after reading Bad Science by Ben Goldacre and here is a good resource that summarizes what a bunch of bologna it all is.

At the end of the day eating well, getting rest, exercising, and other healthy lifestyle choices will always beat out fad diets and products, which, at best, probably won’t help you at all but, at worst, could potentially do damage!

I write all of this somewhat begrudgingly because I was sold the detox agenda for a long time and completely gobbled it up.  However, I am also happy that I now know better and can make more informed decisions.

I just want to be clear, I am not saying that all forms of giving your body a break from eating heavy or hard to digest foods is bad (we all tend to eat a little more salad after Christmas holidays I think), but making drastic changes to your diet with the intention of “flushing out toxins” is probably not the way to go.  At least, it is not necessary.

The pamphlet: Detox Leaflet (SenseAboutScience.org)

the more you know

claire basler may just live in my dream home

From My Modern Met:

Claire Basler is a French floral painter who lives and works in a former schoolhouse in Les Ormes, right outside of Paris. On a daily basis, she creates huge floral arrangements and puts them around her house, using them as sources of inspiration for her paintings. “In her garden, she witnesses nature’s fight for life against the wind, the rain, and the sun,” according to theTelegraph. “This is what Claire Basler portrays in her paintings: the strength and frailty of a flower, the reassuring nature of a tree, the metamorphosis of a simple poppy.

Just have a look at this amazing space.  Major swoon!

0920 home of artist Claire Basler clairebasler06 claire-basler-6 clairebasler09 clairebasler10 clairebasler12 clairebasler022 clairebasler024 studio

 

2014

Happy New Year!

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As is always somewhat inevitable, over the past few weeks some time has been spent pondering resolutions.  And yes, there are things I would like to change and achieve in 2014 but since my (and everyone else’s) track record for keeping these promises hasn’t been the greatest I won’t be sharing what I wish out of the year on here.

Well one thing I will share is that I would like to read more books in 2014 and related to that get better at tracking them through Goodreads.  My account tells me that in 2013 I read 13 books, which I know is much lower than the actual number, but I can’t remember a lot of the other books I read.

Oh and I would like to keep up with my newly rekindled love of baking and really expand into fancy breads.

Wishing you and yours the very best for 2014!

 

 

freedom in reading

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The most salient characteristic of being a reader is freedom, and this freedom is part of the political nature of the novel. Even when you are twelve years old and required by means of rewards and punishments to read Oliver Twist, you may stop. More than that, you may question and resist. How ridiculous is it that Oliver can’t get a second helping of porridge? You decide. In fact, you must decide. You can decide that Oliver has suffered an injustice, you can decide that Oliver deserves his fate, you can decide that this can’t possibly be true, you can decide that you do not care one way or the other, but whatever decision you are making, you are free to make it – there is no group disapproval, as there might be in a theatre should you boo or get up and leave. The entire time you are reading any novel, you are experiencing freedom and autonomy, and this is a political experience. You are also experiencing either agreement with the author or disagreement, and this is a political experience, too. He or she is luring you with plot-twists, character development, pathos, wit, exotic scenes, but you decide whether to go along or resist. And there are resisters to even the most universally admired novels. A reviewer on Amazon writes of War and Peace, ‘The fact is that WP just isn’t great, and we’ve been sold a bill of goods to make us feel guilty about falling asleep over it.’ After cataloging inconsistencies in the text, he concludes: ‘I agree with Tolstoy – it’s a “monstrosity”.’

— from an excellent essay by Jane Smiley

jane eyre

Well I can say that this is a book now crossed off my “Classics That I should Read Sometime” list, but I don’t think it will be getting added to my “Favorite Books of All Time” list.  I didn’t hate it but I did find it quite drawn out in parts with a very very long dialogues, however I found it tedious in parts to keep going.  However, I think this speaks more to the writing style of the time as opposed to Bronte’s failings in any way as an author.  In all honesty, the book pulled me along because I was curious to see what was going to happen to Jane, however once the I hit the last hundred pages or so, and especially when I got to the last twenty, I won’t lie, I was skimming.  There is enough mystery and suspense throughout the majority of the book that kept me interested, but once the end was pretty obvious I lost the patience to read with my full attention.

I will also add that I think if I read this book in school and really did the deep analysis of the characters, themes, the book’s place in history, etc I would have probably appreciated it much more.  And although there is nothing stopping me from doing this on my own, I am just not sure that realistically I will spend the time.  However, this Thug Notes clip was somewhat informative.

Warning: contains MAJOR spoilers!

-The Postliminary-

I really held off on looking up any film or TV adaptations of the novel prior to having finished reading it because I didn’t want any of the actors or scenes to influence how I imagined the people and places to look.  However, I did some digging around on Sunday night and it seems that fans of this book quite like the 2006 Masterpiece Theatre four-part series TV adaptation as well as the 2011 film version directed by Cary Fukunaga and staring gasp! Michael Fassbender as Edward Rochester.  I am quite keen on watching both of these adaptations and seeing how closely they align to how I pictured the events and people of the novel.

Update

I have watched both the 2006 series and the 2011 film and I think that the series wins hands down as being the better adaptation.  I believed the chemistry between Jane and Edward much more and it was more true to the book.  Although I am a big fan of Michael Fassbender I thought that his matching with Mia Wasikowska didn’t quite pan out in the film and I definitely didn’t feel as connected to them as their equivalent pair in the series.  I will also add that compared to the book which is quite lengthy and often goes into great descriptions and dialogues, both the series and the film just flies through the narrative in comparison.  So much so that I am not sure I would have appreciated either as much had I not read the book first and knew the full back story.

bad science

I just finished reading Bad Science by Ben Goldacre and I feel kind of duped.  Well no, I actually just feel silly for not thinking about the many points he brings up that have to do with nutritional and pharmacological research, or lack thereof, how information is presented in the media, and the far-reaching consequences of not thinking critically about the statistics, numbers, and arguments presented to us on a regular basis.

I will say right away, if, like me, you have ever been interested in alternative medicine, this book may make you initially a little angry.  Mainly because it challenges many of the assumptions and arguments used in alternative health fields (especially nutrition) to justify the forms of “treatment” they prescribe.  If you are a believer of homeopathy, I dare you to read this book with an open mind and tell me that you are still a believer once done.  Or at the very least, that your fundamental beliefs in the practice have not been shaken.

The field of nutrition is another area Goldacre focuses on, and with good reason.  I am sure we are all aware that over the past few years there seems to have been a very fast increase in the amount of “stuff” we hear about what we should eat and what we should avoid.  This herb is good for this condition.  We should be eating antioxidants until we can’t eat any more.  This berry, when added to your diet, will change your life.  And so on.  It is a lot of information, which often contradicts other information.  As someone who has looked at the potential benefits of diet on rheumatoid arthritis, I can be the first to say that there is a lot of information out there and it is easy to feel overwhelmed.  In all seriousness I have often thought, “just how can I possibly get all of this “healing” food into my body every day unless I am eating and drinking juices around the clock?”

Reading this book made me realize that I often accepted a lot of what I read because it seemed to make sense on some intuitive level (bad science right there!) or because it just seemed, well, why wouldn’t it be true?  The problem, as Goldacre describes, is that theories in this modern popular nutrition field are often assumptions, extrapolations, and sometimes pure nonsense based often, but not always, on existing sound scientific/biological information.  The bottom line is that very few of these newer theories have been scientifically tested, and those that have, more often than not, do not show the amazing positive health benefits that we have been told to expect.  As he states, the bottom overarching slogan for this book could be “I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that.”

Here is an example that hit close to home.  I read somewhere about a year ago that a compound found in the spice turmeric, called curcumin, is highly effective for decreasing inflammation.  As someone with RA, anything that claims to help with inflammation is something I would like to know more about.  I did some more “research” on the Internet and sure enough, there are blogs out there that say turmeric is great for dealing with inflammation. I have since seen this “theory” espoused in many popular nutrition books.  And so, without really thinking about it, I accepted this as fact and started making homemade chai out of turmeric, buying capsules of the spice, and for a period of time sprinkling it on a lot of my food.  I should add that I have also done similar things with ginger, cayenne pepper, and who knows what else.

Here is an excerpt from the book,

And what about turmeric, which we were talking about before I tried to show you the entire world of theoretical research in this tiny grain of spice?  Well, yes, there is some evidence that curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, is highly biologically active, in all kinds of different ways, on all kinds of different systems (there are also theoretical grounds for believing that it may be carcinogenic, mind you).  It’s certainly a valid target for research.

But for the claim that we should ear more curry in order to get more of it, that “recent research” has shown it is “highly protective against many forms of cancer, especially those of the prostate,” you might want to step back and put the theoretical claims in the context of your body.  Very little of the curcumin you eat is absorbed.  You have to eat a few grams of it to reach significant detectable levels, but to get a few grams of curcumin, you’d have to eat one hundred grams of turmeric, and good luck with that.  Between research and recipe, there’s a lot more to think about that the nutritionists might tell you.

Hmmmmm…well when you say it like that…

I want to be clear on Goldacre’s behalf.  He is not arguing that all alternative medicine is bogus, that nutritionists are a bunch of liars (well he may actually be saying something close to that), that big pharma is innocent of any errors of deliberate “fudging” of data.  No, what he is arguing for is good science, responsible reporting by the media (one only needs to read his chapter on the ridiculous circus of the completely unreal supposed link between the MMR vaccine and autism to see the far reaching consequences of irresponsible media reporting), and a critical mind in the consumer of this information.  As he states, people are not stupid.  When they are presented with clear information, in a sensible way, most people can figure out what it means and what, if anything, they need to do about it, but until (if ever), we get to the point of the mainstream media thinking before they publish and not relying on at best exaggerated, at worst untrue, claims about the “latest research” I think we, as consumers of this information, need to put on our thinking caps a bit more often and really question where the numbers and findings are coming from.  A good place to start to see the difference between good and bad science is this book.

source: badscience.net

Links

Author’s site

TED talk by Ben Goldacre

gastronomic evening

Two films I saw last Tuesday night while lazying around on my couch.  Both related to food – surprise!

Three Stars is a documentary that takes a look at the restaurants that have been awarded Michelin stars all over the world.  It was a bit slow and I did not think it really delved into what truly makes a restaurant be considered worthy of even one Michelin star.  The doc does touch on the mystery of the whole thing, especially the progression from two to three stars, but it all sort of skimmed the surface.  I thought that Jiro Dreams of Sushi (while focusing on only one Michelin three star restaurant) was a much better look at what defines a great chef and a great kitchen.

The Trip was next on the list.

Basically Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are the reasons to see this film.  They are great, the chemistry between them is great, there’s lots of laughs, but the actual movie itself was sort of dull and seemed dragged out in parts.  If you are a fan of the two actors, who are pretty much the only two faces you see for 90% of the movie, this is worth a watch. Otherwise, meh.

extra ingredients

Look at what I found/read/saw/ate/listened to this week

source: tumblr.com

source: tumblr.com

Kind of love this table.

Generating Utopia out of real-time Foursquare data.  Very cool project.

New Canadian flag?

Bought a spaghetti squash, this is what it’s going to be.

Free MIT course materials.

How well do you eat an apple?

The dog owners in the crowd should find this quite interesting!

Banksy’s month in NYC mapped out.

History of coffee-making and the machines used.  Huzzah!

I am not normally a huge fan of Rickard’s beer but this one was yuuuuuuummy!

matthew good!

I am going to see Matthew Good tonight at Massey Hall (love this venue) as part of his Arrows of Desire album tour.  The last time I saw him was during the Hospital Music tour (which came out in 2007) so it has been entirely too long since I have seen this man perform live.

I have always enjoyed his shows because aside from his musical talent he is a great entertainer. I remember at one show him doing a Stewie Griffin impression that made me cry from laughing so hard.  I don’t remember what exactly he was saying but it was based on this bit.  Another time he pointed out that if Al Gore is really worried about energy waste and global warming, why did he use a cherry picker in An Inconvenient Truth when a ladder would have worked just fine?  He does have a point.

Anyway, it is a sold out show in a city that has a large fan base so I think it will be a great way to spend a Friday night!

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This show almost didn’t happen as Matthew Good had to cancel his show in London, ON due to illness.

matt good londonBut luckily, last night…

matt good massey