Tag Archives: research

We had it all wrong about the mashed potatoes

mac_and_cheese

In times of distress or upheaval, we turn to the so-called “comfort foods” — the familiar staples that sustain us when everything else is up in the air. Except that we don’t. YAY RESEARCH!!

You’d think in times of uncertainty, people would gravitate toward familiar favorites. But a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research shows that stress and upheaval actually lead people to choose less-familiar foods over “comfort foods.”

“Most of us can name our favorite ‘comfort foods’ and believe that we are most prone to seek them out during times of stress and upheaval,” writes author Stacy Wood (University of South Carolina). “Contrary to this well-engrained belief, this research shows the surprising result that our choices of old favorites happen at the opposite times that we predict.”

Personally I’ve always hated the concept of “comfort foods.” We’re an increasingly obese nation, and we can no longer allow food to fill a psychological void in our sad, fat lives. When I get upset or scared, instead of eating I bury my head in my pillow and count to 100. Mmmmmm, this pillow smells good. Wait a minute — that’s no pillow… that’s a burrito! A YUMMY BURRITO!! It’s delicious!!!

Oh wait that really was a pillow.

Comfort Food Fallacy: Upheaval Leads To Less-familiar Choices [Science Daily]

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Your appendix may actually do something

appendixThe decorous and genteel Mrs. Pax Arcana spent some quality time at Massachusetts General Hospital a few years ago on account of a tummy ache that turned out to be appendicitis. To correct the issue, doctors called in a rag-tag team of deep sea drillers to bore holes in her abdomen and extract the offending organ. They were then sent into outer space to blow up an asteroid.

For years we’ve been taught that the appendix was a vestigial organ left over from cavemen times, but recent research suggests otherwise. According to LiveScience, the appendix is actually a useful storage shed for bacteria. Because sometimes we need that. Like after a bad bout of the mud butt:

“Everybody likely knows at least one person who had to get their appendix taken out — slightly more than 1 in 20 people do — and they see there are no ill effects, and this suggests that you don’t need it,” Parker said.

However, Parker and his colleagues recently suggested that the appendix still served as a vital safehouse where good bacteria could lie in wait until they were needed to repopulate the gut after a nasty case of diarrhea. Past studies had also found the appendix can help make, direct and train white blood cells.

Other research has shown that the appendix has survived multiple stages of evolution in many different animals, which suggests that it is in fact a useful piece of internal architecture. Scientists also say that appendicitis is actually the result of the industrial revolution, because modern sanitation means less work for our good bacteria, which then gets bored and turns against the appendix.

I think this research is great. It’s high time we stopped looking down our noses at supposed “vestigial” body parts like the appendix and my foot thumbs. You think your kidneys are so great? Let’s see you hang upside down from a tree branch with them, tough guy.

The Appendix: Useful and in Fact Promising [LiveScience]

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