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Dr Karl's Brain Food

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki

Cat's can't taste sugar, even though the rest of their taste buds are very similar to other animals. Mammals need 2 genes to make taste receptor for sugar, but in all cats, one of the genes no longer works.

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Madonna claimed that she once lived entirely on popcorn. But doesn't contain (usable) niacin, Vit B3. So unless she was taking vitamin supplements, she would have got pellagra within a few weeks.

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We are 10% human and 90% microbes. If an alien looked at us they might see "you" as just a carrier for all these other life forms. There are at least 1000 different species of microbes (mostly bacteria), and 1200 species of viruses in our stomach. Most of the viruses are bacteriophages which eat bacteria.

In any one person there are more than half a million microbial genes and only about 23,000 human genes. Genetically we are 95% microbes and only 5% human. Without these microbes we couldn't digest food.

Vegetarians have a long gut or multiple stomachs to process their food. The Giant Panda is a bear, and thus a carnivore, and it has the gut and microbes of a meat eater. Yet its diet is 95% vegetarian. It doesn't have genes to make enzymes which would break down the bamboo cellulose it eats, nor does it have the microbes to digest cellulose. So it eats 25kg of bamboo a day, most of which passes through gut undigested, and produces about 40 or so defecations a day. It loves a little goat meat, (and that's how you lure them into a trap) and produces all the enzymes needed to digest meat. But if you try to steer it to a high energy diet of meat, it languishes.

Michael Pollan's advice: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." And food is something your grandmother would recognize, not the highly processed stuff with a list of unfamiliar ingredients. Despite the use of fertilizers, farms depleted in nutrients, and today's foods down on vitamins by 15 - 20% from 1950's. Also because plants engineered to grow faster, so less time to take up nutrients.

We kill the bacteria in meat by cooking it, but problem is that we often use same utensils or chopping board for raw meat as do for salads or breads that don't get cooked.

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At least a quarter of all American pigs carry a strain of MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Stap) which kills more Americans (18,000) than AIDs.

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Sweet onions actually contain less sugar than other onions. They taste sweeter bc they have fewer of the bitter, sulphorous chemicals.

Our appreciation of chips based on sound - the crunch noise affects how we judge taste.

The food industry produces hyper-stimulating foods. Incorporate as much fat, sugar and salt as possible into the core ingredients. Then layer more of them in a coating. So your chicken nuggets are deep fried before freezing, then deep fried again at the restaurant, and served with a sweet and salty dipping sauce. That's called layering.

Only some people can generate smelly asparagus urine, and only some people (not necessarily the same people) can smell it.

Ice cream is delicious bc it's basically fat and sugar - mushy sugar water crystals held together by fat globules.

If you boil water for a long time you drive off most of the oxygen, which you need to react with the tea and bring out the delicate flavours. Tea connoisseurs don't quite boil their water.

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