Five Days of Overeating Negatively Affect Body

The Gilmer Free Press

You might think that you can get away with eating fatty foods for a few days without it making any significant changes to your body. Think again.

After just five days of eating a high-fat diet, the way in which the body’s muscle processes nutrients changes, which could lead to long-term problems such as weight gain, obesity, and other health issues, a new study has found, Medical Xpress said.

“Most people think they can indulge in high-fat foods for a few days and get away with it,“ said Matt Hulver, an associate professor of human nutrition, foods, and exercise in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “But all it takes is five days for your body’s muscle to start to protest.“

Hulver and other Virginia Tech researchers found that the manner in which muscle metabolizes nutrients is changed in just five days of high-fat feeding. This is the first study to prove that the change happens so quickly.

“This shows that our bodies are can respond dramatically to changes in diet in a shorter time frame than we have previously thought,“ said Hulver, who is the head of the department. “If you think about it, five days is a very short time. There are plenty of times when we all eat fatty foods for a few days, be it the holidays, vacations, or other celebrations. But this research shows that those high-fat diets can change a person’s normal metabolism in a very short timeframe.“

When food is eaten, the level of glucose in the blood rises. The body’s muscle is a major clearinghouse for this glucose. It may break it down for energy, or it can store it for later use. Since muscle makes up about 30 percent of our body weight and it is such an important site for glucose metabolism, if normal metabolism is altered, it can have dire consequences on the rest of the body and can lead to health issues.

Hulver and his colleagues found that muscles’ ability to oxidize glucose after a meal is disrupted after five days of eating a high-fat diet, which could lead to the body’s inability to respond to insulin, a risk factor for the development of diabetes and other diseases.


The Gilmer Free Press


Servings: 4

1½ pounds asparagus (about 1½ bunches)
1¾ cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1¾ cups water
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup thinly sliced yellow onion
1 small Yukon Gold potato (about 6 ounces), peeled and thinly sliced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Ground black pepper
Chopped fresh tarragon, to serve
Croutons, to serve


Cut off the bottom woody ends of the asparagus, rinsing them if they are dirty and reserve them. Cut off the tips of the asparagus and set them aside. Chop the stems into 1-inch lengths.

In a medium saucepan bring the broth and water to a boil. Add the asparagus tips and simmer until they are crisp tender, 1 to 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a bowl. Set aside.

Add the reserved woody ends to the liquid, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a second medium saucepan over medium, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Pour the asparagus stock through a strainer into the saucepan with the onion, pressing on the asparagus ends to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the ends.

Add the potatoes and salt to the saucepan and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chopped asparagus stalks, then bring the stock to a boil and simmer until the stems are barely blanched, 1 minute for thin stalks, 2 minutes for medium stalks and 3 minutes for thick stalks.

Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a blender and carefully blend until smooth, transferring the soup as it is pureed to the empty saucepan. Stir in reserved asparagus tips and the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, then continue cooking just until heated through. Divide between serving bowls and top each portion with tarragon and croutons.

Rising Radon Readings Linked To Fracking

The Gilmer Free Press

BALTIMORE, MD—The odorless radioactive gas known as radon is on the rise in Pennsylvania, and researchers suggest fracking is to blame. Since 2004, the year hydraulic fracturing activity kicked into high gear, radon readings in homes have been spiking.

A new study, conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, found that 42% of radon readings in the state registered above what the federal government defines as safe. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.

The researchers also found that radon readings are higher on average in counties with considerable fracking activity when compared to places where little to no fracking occurs. There were no significant county discrepancies prior to 2004, the study points out.

“One plausible explanation for elevated radon levels in people’s homes is the development of thousands of unconventional natural gas wells in Pennsylvania over the past 10 years,“ researcher Brian S. Schwartz, a professor of environmental health sciences at the Bloomberg School, said in a press release. “These findings worry us.“

The researchers drew the connection between radon and fracking after analyzing trends in more than two decades of radon levels—including 860,000 indoor radon readings from 1989 to 2013. Levels are recorded by the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection when homes are bought and sold. Researchers say their analysis controls for mitigating factors and ulterior explanations for heightened radon concentrations—whether they be geology, water source, season, weather or community type.

While the exact mechanism causing radon’s increasing presence isn’t clear, the common denominator seems to be fracking. Researchers say it’s possible radon is escaping via the wastewater pumped at high pressure deep into underground shale rock to release natural gas. It’s also possible, scientists say, that it’s seeping into the air through holes in the gas wells. Shale-derived gas may also simply contain more radon than other types.

“By drilling 7,000 holes in the ground, the fracking industry may have changed the geology and created new pathways for radon to rise to the surface,“ said lead study author Joan A. Casey, a Bloomberg grad and now a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. “Now there are a lot of potential ways that fracking may be distributing and spreading radon.“

Environment officials in Pennsylvania recently conducted an air sample study near gas wells and found no evidence of higher concentrations of radioactive gas. But researchers say measuring levels in homes of a broader range is a more accurate way to measure and understand trends. Their findings, they say, suggests officials should revisit the issue.

The study was published this week in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Asparagus: Freshness, Not Thickness, Matters When Buying

The Gilmer Free Press

When shopping for asparagus, people often focus on the wrong thing – how thick the stalks are. They think thinner is better.

Truth is, asparagus can be delicious regardless of how thick it is. More important is how fresh the asparagus is. That’s where the flavor is. Freshly-harvested asparagus boasts a smooth, firm stalk and a tight tip. When asparagus is past its prime, the stalk starts to wrinkle and the tip begins spreading out like a feather.

But vigilance for freshness doesn’t stop at the store. Once you get it home, you need to keep it fresh. The best way to store asparagus is to place the stalks with the ends down in a bit of water in the refrigerator. If you lack that kind of room, at least wrap the bottoms of the stalks in wet paper towels. They should last three or four days this way.

Regardless of how you plan to cook the asparagus, the first step in prepping it is to get rid of the woody part of the stem at the bottom of the stalks, either by breaking or cutting it. But don’t toss them out. For a soup you can add them to the broth to help infuse it with flavor, then discard them.

If you are working with asparagus that is more than a 1/3-inch thick, you usually peel the stems to ensure even cooking from the tip to the bottom of the stalk. But when making soup, which means you are going to puree the asparagus, so there’s no need to peel. In fact, we want those peels. They help to give the soup a bright green color.

Speaking of color, it also helps to barely cook the asparagus before pureeing it, and to reheat it only briefly after it is pureed. In general, the longer a green vegetable cooks, the grayer it becomes.

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