All-nighters, Caffeine and Better Colons?


For all you busy finance geeks, and entrepreneurs working 80+ hour weeks buzzing on caffeine from your last quad-americano from Starbucks, there’s a little bit of good news for you!

A recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that brewed coffee contains soluble fiber which aids in digestion, helps the body absorb nutrients, and fight cholesterol. An article from Scientific American gives some interesting statistics and insight:

According to the National Coffee Association, 82 percent of adults in the U.S. drink an average of 3.2 cups of java every day. A traditional eight-ounce (237-milliliter) cup of coffee could contain as much as 1.5 grams of fiber and 3.2 cups nearly five grams of fiber. But, of course, a “cup” is relative these days. A “grande” (medium size) cup at Starbucks, for instance, is 473 milliliters (or 16 ounces) and could pack as much as three grams of fiber, about the same as a raw apple and 20 percent or more of the average American’s daily intake.

But that does not mean you should drink coffee in lieu of veggies and whole grains to up your fiber intake, says ADA spokesperson Katherine Tallmadge. “There are so many other sources of fiber [that are healthier]. Should you drink tons of coffee to get those benefits? No,” she says, noting that coffee also contains caffeine—around 100 milligrams per cup. It is far better, she says, to get fiber from a variety of foods that do not contain caffeine and are also packed with other healthy compounds, such as protein and vitamins. “It’s the whole diet that’s important,” Tallmadge says, adding that she would not recommend more than two cups of coffee a day.

So there you have it. You can have your coffee and digest better too.

Nanotech Blood Pressure Monitor


Coming soon to your body: A real-time blood pressure monitor.

As discussed in the article Nanowires in the blood could feel the pressure, reseachers at the Georgia Institute of Technology used the piezoelectric effect in zinc oxide semiconducting nanowires to generate a current proportional to the amount the nanowire is bent. When implanted in the body, a change in blood pressure could easily be monitored by a device using this sensitive technology (detection of forces at the piconewton scale: 10^-12 N). Zinc oxide is also biocompatible, so it is very unlikely to be attacked and rejected by the immune system.

Get ready for a variety of devices that could interact with this sensor, as it could relay information through a simple wireless signal. Just think of the number of other biological applications this could have. Brain pressure sensing in concussion patients? Researchers are constantly developing new nanoscale, biocompatible sensors, generators, switches and transmitting systems. This nanowire pressure sensing device will surely be added to the biosensing and reporting toolkit.

Some nano toolkit links:

Vitamin Cocoa?


Kids have vitamins that taste like candy, might we soon see vitamins tasting like chocolate? Cocoa butter? Maybe!

Recommendations have been made by Dr. Norman Hollenberg, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Marina Murphy from Chemistry & Industry magazine that the benefits of epicatechin (a compound found in cocoa) are so important that it should be considered a vitamin and rival penicillin in terms of importance. As reported on ScienceDaily, Cocoa ‘Vitamin’ Health Benefits Could Outshine Penicillin, Dr. Hollenberg found that benefits of cocoa drinking in Panama reduced the risk to less than 10% for 4 of the top 5 killer diseases which include cancer, diabetes, stroke and heart failure. Want a chance of living a few extra years? Consider changing your drinking habits: the Kuna people drink approximately 40 cups of cocoa per week. Watch-out Starbucks, you may be usurped by cocoa!

If these theories are correct, we are going to see a revolution in nutraceuticals, health foods, specialty drinks, and a staggering increase in price of cocoa futures! Hopefully these trends will be complemented by a decline in the number of deaths due to these diseases.

So indulge yourself. Have a piece of chocolate, and a glass of wine (some varieties of each contain epicatechin)!

Stealth Gonorrhoea


If you’re a Canadian or an American, you’re in luck … mostly. In many countries internationally, namely Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland and Denmark, many sexually transmitted infection (STI) tests came up with false negatives! Why? Because at some point, one strain of the bacteria underwent a series of mutations that has changed its expression profile for the enzyme prolyliminopeptidase (PIP) … which was the protein tested for by doctors to determine if you had an infection. If you have, or thought you got rid of your case of gonorrhoea, you might want to go back to the clinic and ask for 2 tests that check for different proteins/enzymes to ensure you got rid of your infection. For the full article see: ‘Stealth’ gonorrhoea on the rise.

To get some more information about STIs, there are many books out there that can help get you informed whether you are an average Joe, or a scientist. For the average Joe, please check out Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Colour Guide and for the scientist in you, order Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

“And remember … don’t be a fool, wrap your tool.” – Van Wilder

Is Your Memory Erased While You Sleep?


“The authors speculate that memories are stored in both the neocortex and the hippocampus. Then, during sleep, the hippocampus, acting as a temporary storage system, is cleared for another day of learning, while the memories are retained in the neocortex, which provides permanent storage much like a computer hard disk.” See full article at SciAm.com.

So, I finally gave into the Web 2.0 era of interactive content and user-generated communities. Also, I’ve had it was emailing out interesting articles to my friends everytime I come across something else on the web that is newsworthy, or at the very least noteworthy! Thus, here it is, post #1. Thought provoking, huh? Well, go to sleep, it might be erased! Come back tomorrow and be provoked yet again…