Dietribes: Milk It for All It's Worth

"¢ Milk must do a body good since it's the first thing any of us drink! But let's learn more about this dairy delight by which we also get cream, butter, yogurt, kefir, ice cream, and most especially, cheese.

"¢ Milk's history mixes with alcohol on more than one occasion. Louis Pasteur was helping students attempt to ferment beetroot when he discovered the process that would become known as "pasteurizing," or sterilizing substances.

"¢ But why choose between milk and beer when you can have both as Bilk or in a White Russian, a la The Big Lebowski?

"¢Â Milk can also be used as a substitute for alcohol such as in celebration - just ask nay NASCAR fan! Winners of the Indy 500 have a tradition of drinking milk after their victory, a practice that has gone on since 1956.

Sports Illustrated even ranked milk #1 as the sports world coolest and healthiest prize.

"¢ Got Milk? The slogan started in 1993 and marketers began featuring celebrities in the print campaign. Boasting 90% awareness in the United States, the pithy trademark has been licensed out to dolls and toys and been the brunt of many a well-recognized parody.

"¢ When the price of glass went up, paper milk cartons were in high demand. John Van Wormer, a toy manufacturer, applied for a milk carton patent in 1915, but the familiar tetrahedral shape was developed in the 1940s. The idea was to use the least amount of packaging possible, and lead to the ubiquitous brick-shaped carton of today with the gabled tops.

"¢ I don't know about you guys, but at my grade school we had a lunch card and ... a milk card! Milk is certainly no stranger to the school cafeteria - President Truman signed the National School Lunch into law in 1946, which included a half pint of milk as a required staple.

"¢ In recent years, efforts have been made to replace the original whole milk requirements with 1% or skim. It wasn't until 1988 that low fat and skim milk exceeded the sales of whole milk.

Etan Patz was the first missing child featured on a milk carton, a practice which has since mostly been discontinued as such and updated to more tech-saavy modes of display.

"¢ Cow's milk, sheep's milk, goat milk yes, but rat milk? Dog milk? And even more extreme examples, no thank you!

"¢ Don't like milk, or suffering from lactose intolerance? Try (my favorite alternative) soy milk! Made from a stable emulsion of oil, water, and protein, it is produced by soaking dry soybeans and grinding them with water. Soy milk contains about the same proportion of protein as cow's milk and most include a calcium boost.

How do you Flossers take your milk? With a bit of chocolate or with your tea? What about as a substitute for other liquids?

Hungry for more? Venture into the Dietribes archive.

"˜Dietribes' appears every other Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach. You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.

New Patient Test Could Suggest Whether Therapy or Meds Will Work Better for Anxiety

Like many psychological disorders, there's no one-size-fits-all treatment for patients with anxiety. Some might benefit from taking antidepressants, which boost mood-affecting brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Others might respond better to therapy, and particularly a form called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT.

Figuring out which form of treatment works best often requires months of trial and error. But experts may have developed a quick clinical test to expedite this process, suggests a new study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have noted that patients with higher levels of anxiety exhibit more electrical activity in their brains when they make a mistake. They call this phenomenon error-related negativity, or ERN, and measure it using electroencephalography (EEG), a test that records the brain's electric signals.

“People with anxiety disorders tend to show an exaggerated neural response to their own mistakes,” the paper’s lead author, UIC psychiatrist Stephanie Gorka, said in a news release. “This is a biological internal alarm that tells you that you've made a mistake and that you should modify your behavior to prevent making the same mistake again. It is useful in helping people adapt, but for those with anxiety, this alarm is much, much louder.”

Gorka and her colleagues wanted to know whether individual differences in ERN could predict treatment outcomes, so they recruited 60 adult volunteers with various types of anxiety disorders. Also involved was a control group of 26 participants with no history of psychological disorders.

Psychiatrists gauged subjects’ baseline ERN levels by having them wear an EEG cap while performing tricky computer tasks. Ultimately, they all made mistakes thanks to the game's challenging nature. Then, randomized subjects with anxiety disorders were instructed to take an SSRI antidepressant every day for three months, or receive weekly cognitive behavioral therapy for the same duration. (Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of evidence-based talk therapy that forces patients to challenge maladaptive thoughts and develop coping mechanisms to modify their emotions and behavior.)

After three months, the study's patients took the same computer test while wearing EEG caps. Researchers found that those who'd exhibited higher ERN levels at the study's beginning had reduced anxiety levels if they'd been treated with CBT compared to those treated with medication. This might be because the structured form of therapy is all about changing behavior: Those with enhanced ERN might be more receptive to CBT than other patients, as they're already preoccupied with the way they act.

EEG equipment sounds high-tech, but it's relatively cheap and easy to access. Thanks to its availability, UIC psychiatrists think their anxiety test could easily be used in doctors’ offices to measure ERN before determining a course of treatment.

A Pitless Avocado Wants to Keep You Safe From the Dreaded 'Avocado Hand'

The humble avocado is a deceptively dangerous fruit. Some emergency room doctors have recently reported an uptick in a certain kind of injury—“avocado hand,” a knife injury caused by clumsily trying to get the pit out of an avocado with a knife. There are ways to safely pit an avocado (including the ones likely taught in your local knife skills class, or simply using a spoon), but there’s also another option. You could just buy one that doesn’t have a pit at all, as The Telegraph reports.

British retailer Marks & Spencer has started selling cocktail avocados, a skinny, almost zucchini-like type of avocado that doesn’t have a seed inside. Grown in Spain, they’re hard to find in stores (Marks & Spencer seems to be the only place in the UK to have them), and are only available during the month of December.

The avocados aren’t genetically modified, according to The Independent. They grow naturally from an unpollinated avocado blossom, and their growth is stunted by the lack of seed. Though you may not be able to find them in your local grocery, these “avocaditos” can grow wherever regular-sized Fuerte avocados grow, including Mexico and California, and some specialty producers already sell them in the U.S. Despite the elongated shape, they taste pretty much like any other avocado. But you don’t really need a knife to eat them, since the skin is edible, too.

If you insist on taking your life in your hand and pitting your own full-sized avocado, click here to let us guide you through the process. No one wants to go to the ER over a salad topping, no matter how delicious. Safety first!

[h/t The Telegraph]


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