Dietribes: Raspberries

• First thing's first: a raspberry is a bramble, or any plant belonging to the fierce-sounding genus Rubus. Raspberries are cousins with other bramble fruits, including blackberries. Also part of the diverse family Rosaceae are roses, strawberries, apples, pears, apricots and peaches.

• Raspberries and blackberries are classified as fruit, but are of a slightly different variety known as aggregate fruit (clusters of individual sections called druplelets, each containing one seed). Over 200 different known species of raspberries, though only two species are grown on a large scale.

• The discovery of raspberries is tied to Greek legend. According to myth, raspberries were discovered while the Olympian gods were searching for berries on Mount Ida. (The Latin name Rubus idaeus means “bramble bush (of) Ida").

• The first writings of raspberry cultivation appear around 4 AD, but the people of Troy (modern day Turkey), were the first to note an appreciation of the raspberry fruit, though the plant itself was more important for medicinal uses long before it became a snack item.

• The raspberry in "Blowing a raspberry," comes from the Cockney rhyming slang "raspberry tart" and ... well, you can figure it out. The act may be vulgar ... unless you turn it into science (like this video of a man blowing raspberry in slow motion).

• The disapproving act of blowing a raspberry also has a connection to the infamous Golden Raspberry (Razzie) Awards, which parody the Oscars by giving awards to the worst films.

• If you like the taste of raspberries, you're in good company: so does the cosmos. According to scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, the Milky Way could taste like raspberries.

• Like many of the foods featured on Dietribes, raspberries have plenty of medicinal benefits on the side. The berries contain minerals like iron, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium which help enrich the blood by carrying iron to and from parts of the body. From English herbalists to Native Americans, there's also a belief that drinking raspberry juice or tea helps relieve nausea, particularly in relation to pregnancy. Gargling with raspberry juice may also relieve a sore throat while rubbing joints with the canes of the fruit might help pain (if you've tried it, let us know!)

• Black raspberries, native to North America, contain an extremely dark pigment that makes them a useful coloring agent. In fact, the USDA stamp on meat was made with black raspberry dye for many years.

• The height of raspberry season may have passed us by (the middle of July, which is when the Minneapolis Raspberry Festival is held), but there's always time to enjoy this tasty fruit. How do you Flossers take your razzies?

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.

Can You Really Lose Weight by Pooping? It Depends on What You Eat

If you’re obsessed with either your scale or your bowel movements, you’ve probably wondered: How much of my weight is just poop? A teenage cousin of mine once spent an entire restaurant dinner arguing that he could lose up to 3 pounds if you just gave him a few minutes to sit on the toilet. As you might imagine, he was wrong. But not by that much, according to Thrillist, a site that’s been truly dominating the poop science beat lately.

You can indeed see the effects of a truly satisfying bowel movement reflected on your bathroom scale. (Wash your hands first, please.) But how much your feces weigh depends heavily on your diet. The more fiber you eat, the heavier your poop. Unfortunately, even the most impressive fecal achievement won't tip the scales much.

In 1992, researchers studying the effect of fiber intake on colon cancer risk wrote that the daily movements of poopers across the world could vary anywhere from 2.5 ounces to 1 pound. In their sample of 220 Brits, the median daily poop weighed around 3.7 ounces. A dietary intake of around 18 grams of dietary fiber a day typically resulted in a 5.3-ounce turd, which the researchers say is enough to lower the risk of bowel cancer.

A Western diet probably isn’t going to help you achieve your poop potential, mass-wise. According to one estimate, industrialized populations only eat about 15 grams of fiber per day thanks to processed foods. (Aside from ruining your bragging rights for biggest poop, this also wreaks havoc on your microbiome.) That's why those British poops observed in the study didn't even come close to 1 pound.

Poop isn’t the only thing passing through your digestive tract that has some volume to it. Surprisingly, your fabulous flatulence can be quantified, too, and it doesn’t even take a crazy-sensitive machine to do so. In a 1991 study, volunteers plied with baked beans were hooked up to plastic fart-capturing bags using rectal catheters. The researchers found that the average person farts around 24 ounces of gas a day. The average fart involved around 3 ounces of gas.

This doesn’t mean that either pooping or farting is a solid weight-loss strategy. If you’re hoping to slim down, losing a pound of poop won’t improve the way your jeans fit. Certainly your 24 ounces of gas won't. But to satisfy pure scientific curiosity, sure, break out that scale before and after you do your business. At least you'll be able to see if your fiber intake is up to snuff.

[h/t Thrillist]

Why You Get Diarrhea When You're Hungover

If your hangover mornings involve a lot of time sitting on the toilet, you're not alone. In addition to making you puke your guts out, drinking too much can also give you massive diarrhea the next day. Why? Thrillist talked to a gastroenterologist about the hangover poops, and found that it's a pretty common phenomenon, one caused by a combination of unusually fast-moving digestion.

When you drink, Urvish Shah told the site, alcohol increases what's called gut motility, the contractions that move food along your gastrointestinal tract. Combine this with the fact that booze inhibits vasopressin—the hormone that regulates water retention and prevents your kidneys from immediately dumping whatever liquid you drink into your bladder—and suddenly your guts have become a full-blown water slide.

All those cocktails take a fast-paced thrill ride down to your colon, where your gut bacteria throw a feast. The result is a bunch of gas and diarrhea you don't usually get when food and water are passing through your system a little more slowly. And because it's all rushing through you so fast, the colon isn't absorbing as much liquid as usual, giving you even more watery poops. If you haven't eaten, the extra acidity in your stomach from the booze can also irritate your stomach lining, causing—you guessed it—more diarrhea.

The more concentrated form of alcohol you drink, the worse it's going to be. If you really want to stay out of the bathroom the morning after that party, go ahead and take it easy on the shots. Because beer is so high in carbohydrates, though, Thrillist warns that that will cause gas and poop problems too as the bacteria in your gut start going to town on the undigested carbs that make it to your colon.

All in all, the only way to avoid a post-alcohol poop is to just stop drinking quite as much. Sorry, folks. If you want to rule Saturday night, you'll have to deal with the Sunday morning runs.

[h/t Thrillist]


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