Thursday, 31 March 2016

Passing cuddles down the generations (and what else besides?)

Did you know, a mother’s love is so strong that the power of her kiss can be felt many generations after it happens? It is true of rat mother love, at least. In 2004 Michael Meaney's group published the results of a study showing that the nurturing behaviour of a mother rat brings about physical changes in her babies that are subsequently transmitted to grandchildren too. It is a fascinating example of an epigenetic effect – a change that is passed across cellular or organismal generations, even though there is no change to any DNA sequence.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Should we prioritise our health or that of the environment?

Wouldn’t it be great if we could get everyone eating more healthily, so that we all enjoy longer, better quality lives and require fewer medical interventions? And wouldn’t it be great if we could get everyone eating more sustainably, so that we could meet the nutritional needs of everyone on the planet without overburdening the natural environment? These goals have long been run together by the health food industry, endorsing natural foodstuffs as being better, both for us as individuals and for our world. ‘Natural’ implies fewer chemicals to clog up our bloodstreams and our waterways, after all.  But what if all of this is free-range baloney… What if there is natural conflict such that what is nutritionally optimal for human beings tends also to be the most environmentally burdensome, and vice versa. Faced with a choice between producing those foods that promote the health of human populations and those that promote the health of the rest of the living world, which should we choose? 

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Toddler food fads


My nearly- three year old has been through some odd food fads. At the moment he is going through a stage where he prefers not to eat food items that are mixed in with each other. He suddenly only eats salads of the 'deconstructed' variety.