Food Myths: The Truth Behind Diet Soda

Let’s begin with this quote. “I don’t believe in ‘diet’ sodas. Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke are still sodas. If you’re on a diet, why are you drinking soda?” I am going to go out on a limb and say that most Americans are not nutrition experts. So, when we hear of a new fad, trend, or see a label proclaiming ‘DIET’ on the front, we tend to automatically assume that product is the better choice. It is no surprise that when someone decides to tackle a diet, they switch from normal soda to diet soda, thinking it will be the healthier option. However, like the above quote states, soda is soda. Not only is diet soda not the “healthier” option of the two, but the effects can also be worse.

The main reason people switch over to diet soda is because of the calorie count. The less calories the better, right? Why waste 140 calories on a can of soda when you could still have a soda with 0 calories and put that 140 towards something more nutritious? The problem is, to have zero calories, real sugars are replaced with artificial sweeteners like aspartame.

Studies show that these artificial sweeteners tend to have the same effect on our bodies as real sugar. In a study done by RD Brooke Alpert, she found that “Artificial sweeteners trigger insulin, which sends your body into fat storage mode and leads to weight gain.” There was also a study done by the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. They compared diet soda users to non-users and discovered a 70% increases in waist circumference in those who drank the soda. Even more shocking, there was a 500% increase in those who had 2 or more a day. The average waistline increase was 3 inches in 4 years. While you may not be taking in any calories, you’re not drinking something that benefits your body in a good way either. If you want a non-caloric beverage, try sticking with water.

Not only does diet soda cause weight gain, but it is also extremely acidic. It is even more acidic than just a regular soda. We know that too much acid in our system can disrupt the balance of our intestines and destroy important gut flora. This leads to some not so fun side effects such as acid reflux.

Finally, is metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association did a study over diet soda consumption and the results should leave everyone hesitant when making the final decision on whether to drink one. Results of the study showed daily consumption of diet soda was associated with a 36% greater relative risk of incident metabolic syndrome and a 67% greater relative risk of incident type 2 diabetes compared with non-consumption (HR 1.36 [95% CI 1.11–1.66] for metabolic syndrome and 1.67 [1.27–2.20] for type 2 diabetes). This shows that caution needs to be taken when consuming these beverages. Metabolic syndrome can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. It can also lead to increased belly fat, which we already know is an effect of diet soda, and high cholesterol.

If you are trying to make the decision between diet or non-diet, you can now clearly see that just a regular soda is the way to go. Diet soda causes weight gain, high acid levels, and increases your risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.  However, if you are serious about trying to have a healthier lifestyle or lose weight, no soda is a good option too. Remember, there is nothing “diet” about diet soda.

Demon-Haunted PechaKuchas

 

Dr. Rebecca Martindale gave a PechaKucha presentation at the end to give her interpretation of the book.

On Friday December 1, Dr. Rebecca Martindale, Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology, had her students present their PechaKucha presentations over the book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan.

 

“When we first started these presentations, I kind of did it in the middle of the semester and Caleigh started at the beginning. She’s going to do her presentation of The Demon-Haunted World the way most students and faculty would present when they use PowerPoint Presentation,” said Dr. Martindale.

The event began with Caleigh Bailon’s traditional presentation summarizing chapter 1 of the book. She discussed the key points of the chapter and her slides were text-heavy, which is common in many traditional presentations.

“After learning the new method of presentation, it’s kind of gruesome to go back and look at something like this,” Bailon said.

Next, Philip Dorouen explained what a PechaKucha was and how they worked. PechaKuchas are presentations that follow a specific format. 20 images are shown for 20 seconds each and they advance automatically.

“They are a great creative way for students to express themselves,” he said.

The benefit to this presentation style is that it can prevent the speaker from spending too much of their time talking about one part of the presentation. They have to keep speaking to keep up with the presentation and it can shorten a lengthy topic to highlight the main points. You can visit the PechaKucha website for more information and to watch other presentations. He also played the following video for the audience to give them a visual of how this presentation method worked.

“One of the things they do is have PechaKucha nights. It was originally designed by a couple of architects who basically had this philosophy where if you give an architect a microphone, they’ll talk for hours and hours. People all around the world get together in lots of different venues and have PechaKucha nights to talk about whatever they want with this particular format,” said Dr. Martindale.

Abram Garza presented his PechaKucha to summarize chapter 3 of the book.

Abram Garza presented the first PechaKucha of the event to summarize chapter 3: The Man in the Moon and the Face on Mars. This chapter was about pseudo-science and how people tend to believe tales without proof of their validity. He used note cards to aid his presentation because this format relies on images without text. Roslyn Swofford was the last student to present and she summarized chapter 21 of the book.

Dr. Martindale ended the event with her own PechaKucha presenting her interpretation of the book. This particular method made it easier to stay engaged during the presentations. The absence of text put more focus on the presenter and what they were saying, while also providing an interesting visual. Next time you have a presentation for class, try using this method to make your presentations more fun, engaging, and interesting.

“Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence”

On Nov. 9, 2017, NASA space engineer B. Gentry Lee visited our campus. A luncheon was served of McAlister’s tea, sandwiches, and soup. Mr. Lee ate and spoke with students. Towards the end of the luncheon, he spoke briefly and answered questions.

Later that night during his PLACE lecture, Mr. Lee spoke about the development of the universe and extinctions throughout history. He also mentioned Carl Sagan (which ironically would have been his birthday that day), calling him one of the great science writers of the 20th century.

The next topic he discussed was life on other planets and how some people believe they were abducted by aliens. He noted how there is not one piece of evidence that aliens visit us regularly. He stated “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” which is what he believes we should be taught. “Anytime someone makes an outrageous claim, you should ask them, “What is your evidence?” Ironically, he was invited to an alien abduction convention and he was unsurprisingly met with boos. After hearing stories of people who had been abducted, he responded by asking why that, of all the people who have been abducted over and over, none of them brought back a single piece of evidence.

Despite his disbelief in aliens visiting Earth, he does believe that there is a possibility there is life on another planet. He visited our school because he liked our theme this year and encourages people to question what they know.

‘Ethics in Science’

November 14th, 2017 – After an hour of frank discussion, the low lighting in UC 217 did well to capture the mood of the audience as Dr. Walter Casey’s PowerPoint ended on a slide with the phrase ‘I AM BECOME DEATH, DESTROYER OF WORLDS’. They, myself included, had just reached the end of an open lecture on Ethics in Science as part of the Science and Technology theme of this year’s PLACE lectures/events. Where the ethics of the subject lay, none could say.

The two main elements of the lecture – Ethics and Science – got covered in sequence. Ethics, the enforcement of a moral standard or system, are something we know a lot about, even if we don’t think of them as such. You can think of them – broadly – as actions taken because they serve a greater purpose – they are what’s ‘right’. This isn’t to say that this line of logic is wrong – only that Ethics and the morals they stand for are muddy at times. Is a bribe, for example, always unethical to accept?

It’s even muddier in the realm of Science. More specifically, Engineering. Consider whether or not a building code is enforced, or safety rules are met at a chemical plant. Do you think it’s unethical not to keep things up to code? There are those that don’t – catastrophe after catastrophe can me attributed to a lack of ethical standard. Just look into the Bhopal Disaster, for example.

Dr. Casey argues we’re guilty of this in our own lives, too, even if we’re not given great and obvious responsibilities like the upkeep of a chemical plant. We worship technology as a people and give it far more power than we realize. Ethics can quickly turn into a matter of security and we are not safe. As Dr. Casey says, “Read your End User License Agreement.”

Meet NASA Engineer Gentry Lee

As a part of this year’s PLACE lectures theme of ‘Science and Technology,’ keynote speaker, NASA Engineer, and science fiction writer B. Gentry Lee will be visiting our campus this week. On November 9th, 2017 (Thursday), Lee will be attending an informal luncheon at 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m. on the UC 3rd floor Tri-Stare Iron & Metal Atrium. Students are welcome to attend this event to welcome Mr. Lee.

Later that evening, Lee will be presenting his lecture “A Passion for Knowledge,” at 7:00 p.m. at Eagle Hall in the University Center. This lecture is open to the public. We are fortunate to have such a great guest visit our campus, so be sure not to miss this great opportunity!

To find out more go to:

http://tamut.edu/news/2017/11/PLACE-to-Present-Space-Engineer-and-Author-B-Gentry-Lee-on-Thursday.php

Colonizing Mars

Before humans can touch the ground on Mars, NASA has a three threshold plan using robotics and starting with the Earth Reliant, an “orbiting microgravity laboratory serving as a world-class test bed for technologies and communications systems needed for human missions.”  The earth reliant is helping develop deep space systems like human health and life support while astronauts are now “learning about what it takes to live and work in space for long periods of time, increasing our understand of how the body changes in space and how to protect astronaut health.

The second threshold has a series of missions near the moon. This robotic phase called the Proving Ground will test and decide what we will need to work and live on Mars. The Proving Ground phase will take effect in 2018 until 2030.  Astronauts are now hours away from earth yet days away from the proving ground area, and sometime in 2020, NASA will send several astronauts for a year-long mission into this area to test our readiness for Mars. Another part of this phase is the Asteroid Redirect Mission which will capture asteroid boulders and move it into a safe orbit around the moon. Being able to successfully do this will prove crucial when we send cargo as part of human missions to Mars.

In the last phase, Earth Independent, beginning in 2030, NASA will test the entry, descent, and landing techniques into low-level Mars. From there, NASA what is needed to thrive and survive off the land. NASA is already studying exploration zones, and the next land rover is due on Mars in 2020. “There are challenges to pioneering Mars, but we know they are solvable. We are well on our way to getting there, landing there, and living there.

Danger: Chemical Agriculture!

Allison Hall

A problem facing modern society remains the use of chemicals in agriculture. While they provide some benefits, the negative aspects far outweigh the positive. Chemically modified agriculture poses a threat to humanity by contaminating livestock, poisoning plant life and contributing to the international phenomenon of global warming.

Modernly, farmers and livestock owners use growth hormones and other chemicals to rapidly grow animals to disperse the meat in bulk and quickly. These methods are used not only to help the animal to grow but also to bump up the speed to which they grow to profit both farmers and corporations. These chemicals pose not only a threat to the animals but also possibly to the people ingesting it. If the thought of humans ingesting excess growth hormone does not terrify you, then the idea that factories use substances such as ammonia to sterilize meats should. The real points are the idea that these animals do not get the proper treatment and care that they deserve and the ingestion of this meat could result in dangers. Most chickens raised for their meat lack the ability to walk or see by the time they are slaughtered for profit. These steroids have the capabilities of working on humans the way that it works on any other mammal. It is impossible to tell whether the hormones in the meats eaten are natural or not. According to Renu Ghandi and Suzanne M. Snedeker, authors of “Consumer Concerns about Hormones in Food”, “… it is not possible to differentiate between the hormones produced naturally by the animal and those used to treat the animal. This makes it “difficult to determine exactly how much of the hormone used for treatment remains in the meat or the milk.” This obviously raises questions, such as whether these added hormones are contributing to ailments such as cancers or obesity.

In relation to the contamination to meats, plants are suffering as well. Genetic engineering, pesticides and weed killers are being used to kill insects and weeds and enhance plant growth; however, it is being done in excess and at times not even hitting the intended target. Instead, it partakes in run-off which adds to the contamination of both water outlets and, yet again, animals. These chemicals travel from the plants to other location via rain and normal hydration methods. Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring says, “… chemicals sprayed on crop lands or forests or gardens lie long in soil, entering into living organisms, passing from one to another in a chain of poisoning and death.” Not only does this harm animals, but it harms animals that, once again, humans consume. This is not the only draw back to chemicals in farming. As far as chemically modifying plants, it would have the same effect as modifying animals. These growth hormones and chemicals are present in food consumed by man. The effects may not be drastic immediately, but a slow build up is sure to be a problem.

It is no secret that the earth’s atmosphere has been altered in ways that could be both artificial as well as naturally produced. In fact, Carson wrote “The most alarming of all man’s assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous lethal materials.”  These chemical contaminating, pesticides in particular, contribute to global warming. They increase the carbon levels in the atmosphere which plays a hand in the rising heat levels. Carbon creates this sort of blanket that traps in heat. With no escape the rays from the sun bounce around in the earth’s atmosphere and cause rising heat levels. Yes, other things have become a problem in this regard, but in trying to fix the issue, chemical agriculture should be looked at.

In conclusion, using chemicals in our agriculture lessens the health accountability for both our animals and plants while also playing part in the demotion of atmospheric stability. It may, at this point, not be a possibility to completely outlaw the use of chemicals, but alternatives could be found and in the mean time the use of these chemicals can be lessened.