Sunday, November 25, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Ate Too Much? Tight Pants May Be the Smallest Worry
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By TARA PARKER-POPE
Published: November 20, 2007
This week marks the beginning of the gluttony season, the time when even the most health-conscious diner succumbs to the temptations of the holiday buffet.
But is pigging out during the holidays a harmless indulgence or a real health worry? Indigestion, flatulence and the need to unbutton tight pants are the most common symptoms triggered by the Thanksgiving Day binge. But vast helpings of turkey, stuffing and candied sweet potatoes can take a more serious toll. Big meals can raise the risk for heart attack, gallbladder pain and dangerous drowsiness on the drive home.
Every bite of food, whether it’s part of a huge Thanksgiving meal or a weekday lunch, travels on its own fantastic journey through the body, touching off a simultaneous release of hormones, chemicals and digestive fluids. The average meal takes 1 to 3 hours to leave the stomach. But a large meal can take 8 to 12 hours, depending on the quantity and fat content.
The average American consumes about 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat throughout Thanksgiving Day, according to the Calorie Control Council, which represents makers of low-calorie foods. “It’s like a tsunami of fat coming into the body,” said Dr. Pamela Peeke, assistant clinical professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Average stomach capacity is about 8 cups, although it can range from 4 to 12, said Dr. Edward Saltzman, an assistant professor of medicine at Tufts University. A stretched stomach prompts the release of chemicals that tell the brain it’s full. But some holiday diners, faced with a sumptuous buffet of mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie, keep eating.
Experts say the ability to ignore satiety signals is an evolutionary adaptation that helped build fat stores during times of plenty. Even so, the body eventually puts a stop to the binge. After about 1,500 calories in one sitting, the gut releases a hormone that causes nausea, says Susan B. Roberts, director of the energy metabolism laboratory at Tufts.
Although your stomach may feel as if it will burst, gastric rupture is extremely rare, notes Dr. William Goldberg, a New York emergency room physician whose book “Why Do Men Have Nipples?” explores the issue. The problem is usually limited to people with major eating disorders; in a study of people who had died with Prader-Willi syndrome, which causes excessive overeating, about 3 percent of the deaths were due to stomach rupture, said Dr. David Stevenson, an assistant professor at the University of Utah.
But while your stomach won’t burst after a big Thanksgiving meal, overeating will make your body work harder. The extra digestive workload demanded by a food binge requires the heart to pump more blood to the stomach and intestines. Heavy consumption of fatty foods can also lead to changes that cause blood to clot more easily, said Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
As a result, heart attack risk appears to surge. Dr. Lopez-Jimenez led one study of 2,000 people that showed a fourfold increase in heart attack risk in the two hours after eating a big meal. Israeli researchers reported a sevenfold risk. “Someone who eats three times the normal calories of a regular meal will have an extra workload for the stomach and intestines and therefore the heart,” Dr. Lopez-Jimenez said.
Dr. Goldberg says the digestive workout may also explain the “food coma” many people experience after a big meal. Although popular wisdom holds that Thanksgiving drowsiness is caused by tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey, Dr. Goldberg notes that the amount isn’t significant enough to affect most people.
For most people, food fatigue just brings on the need for a nap, but for travelers it is also a safety risk. “A lot of families as soon as they are done eating say, ‘Let’s get back on the road,’” said Dr. Carol Ash, the medical director of Sleep for Life, a sleep disorders program in Hillsborough, N.J. Dr. Ash notes that food fatigue, along with holiday alcohol consumption, the monotony of driving and a natural circadian dip late in the day all make for a lethal combination behind the wheel.
As the stomach releases food into the intestines, the gallbladder begins to squeeze out bile to help with fat digestion. Like the rest of the body, it has to work harder after a big meal — a frequent cause of gallstone attacks, which occur when clusters of solid material get stuck in the narrow duct that connects the organ to the intestine. These attacks are seldom fatal, but the pain mimics a heart attack and can be excruciating. Many people don’t know they have gallstones until an attack occurs.
Large meals increase the risk for flatulence, because bits of undigested food slip into the colon and begin to ferment. And people with existing health problems that require special diets have to be careful about their intake of salt, fat and calories at Thanksgiving.
Simple strategies can help minimize the gluttony. Keep the serving dishes in the kitchen, so you won’t take extra helpings mindlessly. Use smaller serving spoons and plates. In one study, Brian Wansink, a researcher at Cornell University, found that the bigger the bowl and serving spoon, the more ice cream people tended to eat.
Stick to foods that require utensils — we eat finger foods faster than those that require a fork.
Finally, contribute to the dinnertime conversation. The more you talk, the less you’ll eat.
Monday, November 19, 2007
I found this fascinating. From: http://www.henryinstitute.org/commentary_read.php?cid=412
An Anthill on Which to Die: What a Colony of Insects Could Teach Us About the Church
Sunday, November 18, 2007
A Princeton biologist has found Jesus in an anthill. No, he didn't discover a Last Supper scene made of bread crumbs. And, no, he wasn't the victim of a new coercive form of evangelism. In fact, I don't know if he's ever thought about Jesus at all. But he's found a laboratory-based, grant-funded way to say something quite old: "Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways and be wise" (Prov 6:5).
According to the International Herald Tribune, Princeton University mathematical biologist Iain Couzin is constructing a computer model to detail how army ants are able to move from colony to colony without "a mad, disorganized scramble." Couzin expresses awe that these tiny, relatively simple, organisms can build intricate highways and food-delivery systems without ever experiencing gridlock. Humans can learn a thing or two here, he suggests.
Now, at first glance, nothing seems further from the spiritual life of most Christians or from the mission of most churches than an Ivy League entomology study. But, what if our listening to this researcher will astound us even further about the wisdom of our Christ in the same way the Hubble telescope photographs cause us to gasp anew at the old truth that the heavens declare the glory of God?
Most Christians are familiar with Solomon's admonition to look to the ant (Prov 6:6-11). Our children sing songs about it. Our leadership manuals teach us to plan for retirement based on it. Most of us, however, tend to see this as helpful, homespun advice about good hard work. It makes sense to us, but it hits us with all the spiritual gravity of "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise." But there's much more here.
Solomon tells us that there is wisdom to be gained from looking at a mound of ants. And, for Solomon, as for Jesus and his apostles, wisdom isn't data. Wisdom is a way one walks, a voice one hears, a Person one knows. The way the Proverbs tell us about, the structure of the universe, the Scripture tells us is a Logos, through whom God made everything that was made. Jesus of Nazareth is, Paul tells us, "the wisdom of God and the power of God" (1 Cor 1:24).
This is why, as I've argued elsewhere, laziness, right along with discord, gluttony, gossip, lack of self-control and every other form of folly mentioned in Scripture is not just a character flaw. Our foolishness tells us whether or not we are walking in wisdom. Since we know the Wisdom of which Solomon spoke (Matt 12:42), our laziness or ineffectiveness or lack of foresight tells us much about how we are following Christ.
The ants show us a design God has placed in the structure of the cosmos, a grain we'll either work with or against, as we follow Jesus in assuming our stewardship of our callings in the world. Solomon's counsel to look to the ant is itself an indictment of a humanity in rebellion against its Creator. After all, God commanded Adam and Eve in the beginning to "work and keep" the Garden, and to exercise dominion over "every creeping thing that creeps on the earth" (Gen 1:26).
Now, a fallen humanity, turned away from their Creator, must be told to learn from the dominion exercised by one of the tiniest of all "creeping things": the ant. Solomon points to the foresight and effectiveness of the ant in storing food for winter (Prov 6:8). He admires the fact that the ant labors without coercion, or even direction from any chief officer or ruler (Prov 6:7).
Because we are future kings and queens of the universe in Christ, the Scripture has much to say about how we work in this time between the times. This is why so much of the Scripture is spent counseling Christians against idleness or insubordination. But, in this present age, the reign of Christ is seen in the church (Eph 1:20-22), a rule that is seen in His working through the Holy Spirit through gifts for the purpose of upbuilding the Kingdom community (Eph 4:1-16).
And that's where the ant research gets really interesting.
Couzin argues that the secret of ant effectiveness is the use of swarms. The insects are able, he says, to travel through any type of terrain without problem because they use their living bodies as bridges. "They build them up if they're required, and they dissolve if they're not being used," he concludes. But how do millions of ants know how to do this, without running all over each other?
While Couzin hasn't completely solved this one, he argues that chemical markers set forth "rules" that the ants follow, rules that wouldn't make sense for any individual ant, only for the swarm as a whole. "These rules allow thousands of relatively simple animals to form a collective brain able to make decisions and move as if they were a single organism," the Herald Tribune reports.
I stopped in mid-sentence when I read that line, and felt the hair on my arms stand on end.
Thousands of years ago, Solomon told us to look to the ants and be wise. It wasn't just, as we often suppose, that the ants work hard. It was that they are able to work effectively despite the very mystery this study seeks to unravel: they have no chief officer or ruler. The way they're able to do it, this study tells us, is through one body with many members, all keeping in step with a common instinct. In so doing, they become, though legion, one organism with a collective mind.
Paul warned the church at Corinth that the mission of the congregation was jeopardized by a wisdom of this world that was, in fact, folly. The foolishness was a discord in the church, over leadership and spiritual gifts, that threatened to signal that Christ himself was divided (1 Cor 10-13). Paul, like Solomon points them to a hidden wisdom that is found not in the philosophers' writings but in the "low and despised" things of the universe (1 Cor 1:28).
The congregation shouldn't splinter apart into quarreling because, he tells us, "we have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16). There shouldn't be rivalry or jockeying for position because "you are the body of Christ and individually members in it," all various parts led by a central nervous system with a name, a birth date, and a manger he previously called home.
I wonder how often our ineffectiveness at our mission as congregations has less to do with a commitment to "excellence," and more to do with a refusal to see ourselves first ecclesially and only second personally. Perhaps our churches are so immature precisely because we see ourselves first in terms of our personal ambitions, our personal careers, our personal lives.
I wonder how much of the deadness and silliness in our churches has less to do with a laziness that refuses to toss aside individual glory for the unity of the church, a laziness that refuses to set aside one's preferences to discern the mind of Christ. I wonder if we really get that we are all individually tiny components of a vast, multinational organism, one that spans the globe and the centuries?
Maybe the first step to wisdom is to recognize that the church itself, even with all of our flaws and foibles and fallibilities, reveals the "manifold wisdom of God" (Eph 3:10), a wisdom so awesome that our Maker designed an entire universe embedded with likenesses of it?
Yes, our highways are gridlocked, but our churches are often more so. Maybe what we need isn't to sit through one more corporate leadership seminar. Maybe what we need is to stop the Wednesday business meeting and walk outside to turn over an anthill.
And maybe, just maybe, if we have eyes to see, we'll find Jesus there.
All Scripture references are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Monday, November 05, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Friday, November 02, 2007
"Suppose, I said, a couple of you students, Jason and Sarah, were walking to McDonald’s after dark. And suppose a man with a knife jumped out of the bushes and threatened you. And suppose Jason knows that Sarah has a black belt in karate and could probably disarm the assailant better than he could. Should he step back and tell her to do it? No. He should step in front of her and be ready to lay down his life to protect her, irrespective of competency. It is written on his soul. That is what manhood does.
And collectively that is what society does—unless the men have all been emasculated by the suicidal songs of egalitarian folly. "
- John Piper, writing on Co-ed Combat and Cultural Cowardice (http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2007/2475_Coed_Combat_and_Cultural_Cowardice/)