Making It Scientific

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ISSUE 24 | SPRING 2023



Cover Art by Meera Patel 2




26 ......... FOOD FOR THOUGHT


Letter from the Editor

Hello Scientifica Readers, I hope you are having a wonderful start to this new year! Everyone on staff is incredibly excited to release Issue 24 - Making It Scientific - at the beginning of the Spring 2023 semester. This is the first issue that focuses primarily on food - something all of us here at Scientifica and I’m assuming all of you at home thoroughly enjoy - and its relationship to science. We have a delicious assortment of articles and designs for you to enjoy thanks to our dedicated staff who worked diligently to cook up this issue for each one of you to enjoy. Please excuse the cheesy puns, I just couldn’t help myself :) I learned so much from these fantastic articles and I sincerely hope that you do too, but if not, I hope Issue 24 at least inspires you to look a bit more closely and think a bit more critically about the foods you are putting in your body and where that food comes from. Bon Appétit, Megan Piller

Megan Piller Microbiology & Immunology, Public Health, Class of 2023 Editor-in-Chief, UMiami Scientifica

Letter from the Editorial Advisor

It has been known for quite some time that the food in your diet can have a varying effect on your mental and physical health and overall well-being. Looking at this in a broader sense than the “me,” we soon realize that our diets impact many other aspects of our lives. Ever wonder why cooked food turns brown? Or how is chemistry involved in food preparation? Well, this is the issue for you! Please enjoy our latest creation and keep asking why and how, as this is the only way we learn and innovate in the world around us.

Roger I. Williams Jr., M.S. Ed. Director, Student Activities Advisor, Microbiology & Immunology Editorial Advisor, UMiami Scientifica

Megan Piller Abigail Adera Emily Danzinger Meera N. Patel Isabella M. Lozano Caleb Heathershaw Gaby Torna Avery Boals Ainsley Hilliard Francesca Dostillio Rachel Farinas




SCIENTIFICA STAFF 2023 Board of Advisors Barbara Colonna Ph.D. Senior Lecturer Organic Chemistry Department of Chemistry Richard J. Cote, M.D., FRCPath, FCAP Professor & Joseph R. Coutler Jr. Chair Department of Pathology Professor, Dept. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Chief of Pathology, Jackson Memorial Hospital Director, Dr. Jonn T. Macdonald Foundation Biochemical Nanotechnology Institute University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Michael S. Gaines, Ph.D. Assistant Provost Undergraduate Research and Community Outreach Professor of Biology Mathias G. Lichtenheld, M.D. Associate Professor of Microbiology & Immunology FBS 3 Coordinator University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Charles Mallery, Ph.D. Associate Professor Biology & Cellular and Molecular Biology Associate Dean April Mann Director of the Writing Center Catherine Newell, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Religion Leticia Oropesa, D.A. Coordinator Department of Mathematics *Eckhard R. Podack, M.D., Ph.D. Professor & Chair Department of Microbiology & Immunology University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Adina Sanchez-Garcia Associate Director of English Composition Senior Lecturer Geoff Sutcliffe, Ph.D. Professor of Computer Science Yunqiu (Daniel) Wang, Ph.D. Senior Lecturer Department of Biology *Deceased


Aarohi Talati Yashmitha Yazmin Quevedo Emily Danzinger Aarohi Talati



Chirag Anand Ethan Bentley Caleb Heathershaw Michel Huyghe Sabrina Merola Veronica Richmond Luke Sims Ethan Tieu Giana Vitale John Yudt

Genesis Leiva Cerna Isabella M. Lozano Meera Patel Veronica Richmond Gaby Torna

Copy Editors

Artists Genesis Leiva Cerna Isabella M. Lozano Meera N. Patel Veronia Richmond Gaby Torna

Fatima al-Hanoosh Francesca Dostillio Hanna Ebrahimi Olivia Hennon Kiara Khemani Shirley Pandya Veronica Richmond Elena Thomson Giana Isabella Vitale Justin Yang


Meat and the CO CO2 Catastrophe How Changing Your Diet Could Help Save Millions by John Yudt Illustration & Design: Meera Patel


ake a look around. No, not your dorm room, the world. Places are experiencing droughts like never before, hurricanes are getting worse and worse and the U.S. West Coast is ablaze. What’s causing all this? Meat. OK, OK, before you stop reading, at least give me a chance to explain. It’s well understood that the effects of climate change are destroying communities in our country and around the world. In fact, everything I described above can be directly linked to climate change. Although this is by far the most pressing issue of our generation, many people struggle to understand what they can do to have an impact — besides reducing, reusing and recycling. I was unsure for a long time how I could make a difference until I learned about the meat industry and its CO2 emissions. Whenever you turn on the TV and see climate protests, what are they demanding? I’d be willing to bet that it’s a reduction in fossil fuel consumption. While this is an extremely important issue, there’s an arguably bigger one that almost no one talks about, and it sits inside your refrigerator and kitchen cabinets. It’s all the animal-based products that have become such an unconscious part of our lives. . According to a 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, 21% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from industry, while 24% of emissions come from agriculture. A majority of the agriculture that contributes to these emissions are actually for the crops later fed to animals at meat industries. The amount of land that the demand for the crops yields has also caused deforestation. Additionally, the meat industry itself produces surreal amounts of methane.


So, what’s my point? We need to demand a reduction in fossil fuel consumption from big corporations while simultaneously making waves in the agriculture industry. How do we do that? Completely disrupt the supply and demand chain by shifting our diets from meat-based to plant-based. I’m sure most of you have taken an economics course at some point during your education, which means you’re likely familiar with the supply and demand curve. To relate that to our discussion today, a decrease in the demand for meat and animal products leads to a decrease in the supply. Obviously, a large-scale change like this is easier said than done, but that doesn’t mean we should give up hope. Even small changes in your diet can have a tremendous impact. A recent ScienceNews article explores the extent to which shifting from a meat-based diet to a plantbased diet can reduce an individual’s carbon footprint. The data is mind-blowing. As a baseline, a typical American diet leads to greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 2000 kilograms of CO2 per year, that’s the same as burning approximately 225 gallons of gasoline. Simply going meatless for a day each week brings that number down to 1600 kilograms. No red meat (beef, pork, sheep or goat) brings that number down to 800 kilograms. Going vegan cuts that number down to under 300 kilograms. According to the 2014 documentary “Cowspiracy,” a vegan diet produces onehalf the amount of CO2, uses one-eleventh the amount of fossil fuels, one-thirteenth the amount of water and one-eighteenth the amount of land when compared to a typical American diet. What’s even more astounding are the stats for what a vegan diet saves every single day: 1100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forested land, 20 pounds of CO2 and the life of one animal. These statistics convey an important message — what we choose to eat has a direct effect on the environment around us. You see, your diet does have an impact on the world around you. It’s not necessary for everyone to go fully plantbased, but if we all make changes in our diets, big and small, then the overall impact will be tremendous. So, you may be asking, how do I get started? Where do I even begin? Well, I’m glad you asked. I encourage you to begin your journey by researching the variety of plant-based alternatives that are out there. Start with swapping regular milk out for soy milk, oat milk, or whichever you like best. Learn about tofu, textured vegetable protein, tempeh and

seitan (meat alternatives that are super versatile and interesting). Search for vegan recipes on Instagram and follow a few accounts that interest you. Educating yourself about what’s out there is an extremely important first step in shifting your diet. If you’re looking to get started on exploring what a plant-based diet may look like, the University of Miami offers a plethora of vegetarian and vegan food options in the dining halls and at various restaurants around campus. We have plant-based milk options by the Avoiding Gluten section of the dining hall. You can order falafel with hummus at the Deli or get vegetarian burgers, vegan nuggets (my personal favorite) and fish filets at the Grill if you ask for them. If you haven’t checked out the Plant-Based section of the dining hall yet, I encourage you to try it at least once this week. Aside from the dining hall options, Pollo Tropical, Miami Chicken Co, Panda Express, Tossed and The Corner Deli all have vegetarian and vegan options. If you’re feeling adventurous, grab some lunch from one of these places and give their meat alternatives a try — you won’t regret it. The horrible effects of climate change are being felt around the world, and sometimes it feels like there’s nothing we can do as individuals to make a difference. However, that’s simply not true. You can make a difference. Even small dietary changes can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. The truth is, if we all work together and make a conscious effort to learn about, explore and shift to a more plant-based lifestyle, we can stop climate change from destroying any more than it already has.




ou sit down in a diner and are served two plates of steak. The first one is a bright red slab of meat, the fat still solid white, and it smells faintly metallic. The second steak is a beautifully charred, dark brown color, with a rich and complex aroma. Which one do you choose to eat? According to Harvard primatologist Richard Wrangham, the history of this decision goes back to between 1.8 million and 400,000 years ago, when our ancestors first figured out how to use fire to prepare food. Even without scientific knowledge of how cooking benefited them, the people who ate cooked food found themselves at an evolutionary advantage. First of all, cooked food is softer, making it easier to eat and digest, which saves energy. It is also safer since the high heat used in cooking can kill off harmful bacteria. And most importantly, the chemical reactions that occur during heating activate key nutrients in the food, making them more bioavailable and readily digestible. All of these advantages combined into better survival odds for our ancestors that ate cooked food. Through natural


selection, which favored these early chefs over hundreds of thousands of years, we’ve evolved to prefer, and now fully depend upon, cooked food. But how can we tell what food is cooked? Think back to the two steak plates. You could conclude which one was safe to eat with just a visual and olfactory description – another byproduct of evolution. We are instinctively inclined to enjoy the taste, appearance, and smell of cooked food, while their raw counterparts may repulse us. Our ability to assess whether a food has been cooked prior to eating it keeps us safe. The golden-brown bread crust , the inviting appearance of browned meat, and dark roasted coffee can all cause our mouths to water because their color signals that the food has been properly cooked. We’ve evolved to seek out these characteristics in our food as proof that they aren’t raw, but why does heating food result in this brown coloration? The chemistry of the difference between cooked and uncooked food was first described 110 years ago by Louis Camille Maillard, a French Chemist and professor. He studied how organic molecules react when heated, and then applied it to food. This process, referred

to as the Maillard reaction, is responsible for the browning of heated food. The reactants in this process are proteins and sugars. Proteins are long chains of different amino acids, and every amino acid includes a nitrogen atom bonded to two hydrogens. This portion of each amino acid is conveniently named the amino group. In raw food, positive and negative attractive forces between the amino acids hold the complex protein structure together. However, when proteins are heated, these structures unravel, leaving the amino group end exposed. A sugar molecule in the food, such as glucose, can then bind to that end group, producing a combined molecule called glycosylamine. As the food continues to cook, these organic molecules shift their bonds around and react with each other in increasingly complex ways, producing a wide variety of compounds. These products differ in their chemical composition and size, leading to differences in their taste and aroma. For example, Thiophenes contain sulfur and give off a meaty, roasted flavor, while Furanones, with two oxygen atoms, have a sweet caramel flavor. And since a wide variety of proteins and amino groups are found in foodstuff, there can be hundreds of different flavor complexes in a single bite. This is what generates the complicated, delicious aroma and flavor of cooked food. What is so interesting about the Maillard reaction is that it generates an incredibly wide variety of flavors and aromas, yet produces

the Maillard reaction generates an incredibly wide variety of flavors and aromas, yet produces the same general appearance – namely, brown. the same general appearance – namely, brown. This striking visual consistency lies in the existence of the same molecules that generate different flavors. Even though their chemical makeups are different, all of these aroma-producing compounds are arranged in rings. In fact, the term “aromatic” in chemistry means an organic compound with a ring shape. This ring shape plays a critical role in changing the color of the food, as these collections of rings reflect green and red light, creating a brown hue. Some of these rings will even fuse into multi-ring polymers known as melanoidins, which are very molecularly heavy and have the largest impact on the brown coloration of cooked food. Melanoidins are most commonly found in coffee and bread, two foods that rely heavily on the Maillard reaction for their coloration, texture, and flavor. This reliance is particularly interesting in coffee. Raw coffee beans are a pale green and smell faintly vegetal, but upon being roasted, their sugars and amino groups undergo a more intense variation of the Maillard reaction, producing characteristically bitter-tasting melanoidins and a dense, dark brown color. It is important to note, however, that the Maillard reaction is strongest in dry food that is cooked at high temperatures, which is why coffee beans are roasted, rather than attempting to roast raw liquid coffee. Interestingly, this is also why meat sizzles when cooked, as the level of heat needed to initiate the Maillard reaction will simultaneously evaporate the water in the food, creating a rapid hissing sound. So, the next time you sear a dark steak, bake a golden loaf of sourdough or achieve the perfect toasted marshmallow for your s’more, you can thank the Maillard reaction for chemically producing that delicious brown color.



the use of bacteriophages to combat food borne illness by Ethan Bentley

Illustration & Design: Gaby Torna


s antibiotic resistance grows more and more prevalent, the world has been forced to find new solutions to combat various pathogens. One industry that has been affected by this problem is the food industry which has recently seen a rise in food-borne illness as a result. The Centers for Disease Control has reported that about 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths occur in the United States each year from foodborne illness. These illnesses are caused by pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli, Staph aureus, Listeria, and many more that all affect whether or not your dinner plate is covered in disease. In an attempt to combat this, many have looked into the use of bacteriophages and their role to combat these bacteria now that antibiotics are no longer working. While still a relatively new technology, these phages are being used as the next weapon in the constant fight to ensure safety and quality of food as it is packaged, processed and served on your plate. While many take the abundance and quality of their food for granted, there is a lot of work put into ensuring that food is safe to eat. In Europe and the USA, agriculture accounts for over 75% of antibiotics in use today which are used to promote growth and prevent disease. Largely due to the abuse of these drugs, antibiotic resistance has developed as a major concern and has even led to the emergence of multidrug-resistant bacteria. One of the major food borne pathogens

Listeria monocytogenes


that is on the rise is Listeria monocytogenes which is a resilient bacteria that is ingested from contaminated food, generally meats and dairy. The pathogen has a 25% fatality rate and causes symptoms such as gastroenteritis, meningitis, encephalitis and can even cross the barrier into the brain in severe cases. This bacterium can persist in food processing plants for an extended period of time due to its ability to form biofilms which are large colonies of bacteria stuck to each other that can survive basic cleaning attempts. Another major microbe of concern to the food industry is Salmonella Typhimurium which has had several recent outbreaks in the United States. Salmonella causes diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps and it often results from food or water contamination with feces. Recent outbreaks saw salmonella impact a peanut butter plant which then contaminated several other food products in factories including cookies, ice cream and pet food. These microbes are part of a resurgence in foodborne illness as a result of antibiotic resistance paired with imperfect food production standards. The rise of these bacterium signals the need for a new way to control and inhibit these infections and to protect our food industry. The pressure on the food industry to overcome the rising numbers of food borne disease has led to the investigation of the phage as a viable alternative. Bacteriophages are viruses that are capable of invading bacteria cells and destroying them. This is done in the lytic phase in which the phages disrupt the metabolism

equipment and surfaces. Salmonella phage cocktails have been tested on fruits in vegetables which found that phages were effective at reducing target bacteria on both melons and apples. The final phase of biopreservation involves using the phages to extend shelf life as a natural preservative so that food is safe for the consumer. Enterobacter sakazakii is a fatal pathogen which can form in infant formula milk. Phages have been designed to suppress the growth of this bacteria at 24-37°C and were able to completely eradicate the target organism. As these examples show, phages have started to become an important part of the food industry as antibiotics become less reliable. As with the rest of the healthcare world, the food industry is being forced to evolve as antibiotic resistance becomes more and more prevalent. Bacteriophages have offered a promising alternative and this technology has already started to be used as a method of control. Keeping food from becoming contaminated happens at all levels of food production, so phage technology targets bacteria that infects animals and produce, works to sanitize processed food, cleans equipment and allows food to last longer on shelves.. Despite this progress there are several obstacles in the way of widespread use of bacteriophages as a solution. Regulatory oversight is a barrier that must be overcome, as introducing phages to the food industry means they must pass health regulations and ensure that there are no negative effects on humans. A perhaps more difficult struggle is to deal with consumer opinion as many are wary of the concept of these edible viruses. Consumers have become less trusting of the substances and chemicals being added to their food, so it is crucial to educate the public on the safety and effectiveness of phages. With antibiotics fading out, it seems like the food industry could use these bacteriophages as the main force in the fight to maintain healthy food standards and to keep foodborne illness at bay.


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of its host and forces it to lyse thus killing it. Bacteriophages appear to have several advantages over antibiotics which may make them a better alternative than the weakening system that is currently in place. The first major advantage is their specificity as they have been shown to only attack the targeted bacteria, unlike antibiotics, which tend to damage the normal microflora as well as the pathogen. This does, however, mean that the culprit bacterium must be identified correctly before treatment can begin while antibiotics can prove successful even if the bacterium is not identified. Also, because of the nature of a virus, the bacteriophages will replicate at the site of the infection while antibiotics disseminate across the body and are then removed so the antibiotics don’t concentrate where they are needed the most. As multidrug resistance drives a global demand for food products that do not involve biocides or chemical preservatives, phages have emerged as a natural form of biocontrol. In 2006, the L. monocytogenes agent Listex P100 was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in ready to eat meals and poultry products. The product was found to effectively destroy infection in meat and cheese, while also proving harmless to humans and, as such, was the first FDA approved bacteriophage product. This set the precedent that phages are generally recognized as safe and many different phage related products have been approved for a variety of foodborne illnesses. As the use of them has developed, their ability to combat pathogens at all stages of food production in a concept from “food to fork” has been investigated. This first stage is phage therapy and the goal is to reduce colonization in disease in livestock. One pathogen that has been combated in this stage is E.coli which generally contaminates animal products during milking or slaughtering. A phage treatment called CEV1 was administered both orally and rectally to the livestock and was able to significantly reduce E.coli cell numbers. Phages were also applied to meat in order to avoid pathogen development. The second stage is called bio-sanitation and biocontrol which involves decontaminating carcasses, cleaning including fruits and vegetables, and disinfecting


An Art or A Science Science? ? by Giana Vitale Illustration & Design: Megan Piller


ike all art, the quality of food is highly subjective. But regardless of one’s tastes, all cooking boils down to science. Let’s explore the chemistry and physics behind some of the most popular cooking techniques: Searing, Deglazing, and Braising Searing, deglazing, and braising are three separate cooking techniques that build on each other. Deglazing cannot happen without searing, and braising cannot happen without deglazing. Each step is critically important in developing the flavor of the final dish. Many delicious meals are a product of these techniques, including coq au vin, braised short ribs, birria, and chicken adobo. Searing is simple. Heat a pan to be smoking hot, throw in some fat, and lay down your food of choice (my recommendation: skinon chicken thighs). Then, the magic happens: a beautiful, deep brown crust forms on the exterior of your food. The chemical process that creates that crust is called the Maillard reaction. First, sugars and amino acids released by the breakdown of DNA and protein inside the food combine to form a new molecule called an Amadori or Heyns rearrangement. Soon after its formation, the rearranged molecule breaks down to release a variety of byproducts which may react amongst themselves, react with other amino acids, or react with other sugars. Importantly, the byproducts produce flavors. Different flavor compounds are produced depending on the food being seared. For example, seared meat produces many sulfur-containing flavor compounds. Searing creates a buildup of these flavor compounds on the pan known as fond. Fond is delicious. To ensure all that flavor ends up in our food, not on the pan, we use a technique called deglazing. Adding liquid directly into the hot pan releases all the bits of fond by dissolving them, creating a new sauce with little need for new ingredients. Many recipes stop here, choosing to serve their seared food of choice with this sauce and calling it a day. But many foods, especially tough cuts of meat, benefit immensely from adding one more step: braising. When braising, a cut of meat is slowly cooked over low heat in its own deglazing liquid until it is tender, juicy, and extra flavorful. The prolonged application of heat degrades the collagen, or connective tissue, holding the meat together. This degradation converts collagen into gelatin, which melts out of the meat and into the braising liquid. As a result, the meat becomes more tender and the braising liquid becomes richer. Additionally, large


quantities of amino acids are released when muscle enzymes hydrolyze. These amino acids, like in the Maillard reaction, can produce different flavor compounds. For example, the amino acids that contribute to sweet flavors are glycine, glutamate, valine, and lysine. Nucleotides, specifically 5’ nucleotides, are also released and are responsible for the strong umami flavor of meat. In pork loin, the nucleotide IMP creates its savory flavor. When the braise is finished, the accumulation of gelatin and flavor compounds in the braising liquid create a succulent meal worth the effort and wait. Fermentation Consider a world without bread, pickles, yogurt, cheese, wine, beer, kombucha, or kimchi. It’s a sad one, isn’t it? These foods (some of life’s greatest pleasures) are a product of fermentation. At surface level, the process of fermentation is mysterious: mix food with seasonings and maybe some salt, seal it away for a seemingly random amount of time, and the next time you open the container the food has transformed. We can thank the appetites of microorganisms for this phenomenon. Generally, fermentation is a way for certain microorganisms to “eat” in low oxygen, or anaerobic, environments. Several kinds of microorganisms can obtain energy through fermentation, but there are two primary groups that produce many of the most common fermented foods: yeast

The Chemistry of Cooking Techniques

and lactic acid bacteria (LAB). Yeast undergoes ethanol fermentation, in which the fungus breaks down glucose to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the most widely used form of energy. Ethanol fermentation produces ethanol and carbon dioxide as waste products, a process alcohol producers have taken advantage of for centuries to make wine and beer. LABs produce ATP via lactic acid fermentation. In this process, the waste product is lactic acid. The characteristic sour flavor of fermented foods is a result of such lactic acid buildup. Lactic acid fermentation is also widely used for food preservation, as in the case of pickles and kimchi, because it discourages the growth of pathogenic bacteria, like molds. There are three mechanisms by which LABs prevent pathogenic bacterial growth. First, sugar consumption by LABs reduces the amount of available food for other bacteria. Second, the accumulation of lactic acid acidifies the food environment to pH levels that are intolerable to pathogenic bacteria. Finally, LABs produce a class of antimicrobial peptides and proteins known as bacteriocins that inhibit pathogenic bacterial growth. Rise Everyone can appreciate a tender slice of cake, a fluffy muffin, or a thick slice of sourdough. These baked goods all have a certain airy, light quality that makes them so enjoyable. How is this effect achieved? The answer is simple: leavening agents. One popular and well-known leavening agent is yeast. We have already discussed how ethanol fermentation by yeast is used to produce alcoholic beverages, but the same fermentation process is also used by bakers to create rise in their doughs. During the rising stage of sourdough bread-making, yeast uses ethanol fermentation to eat the sugars found in flour. The carbon dioxide produced by the process is released into the dough and trapped in crosslinked gluten strands, creating air pockets. When the dough is put in the oven, any ethanol evaporates and the pockets of carbon dioxide expand. The final product is a bread with a porous, open crumb, perfect for spreading butter or making a sandwich. Another widely used leavening agent is sodium bicarbonate, more commonly known as baking soda. Sodium bicarbonate is an alkaline salt, meaning it has a high pH. When it interacts with an acid, sodium bicarbonate produces carbon dioxide (think of those baking soda volcanoes). The role of vinegar, buttermilk, yogurt, lemon juice, cocoa, or cream of tartar in baking recipes is to act as the acid in this reaction. Like in yeast-leavened bread, the carbon dioxide trapped in batter expands when heated, causing cakes and other baked goods to rise. Sodium bicarbonate can also produce carbon dioxide in the absence of an acid through thermal decomposition. However, this method is less popular in baking because it produces less carbon dioxide, making the final product denser. Additionally, the decomposition generates sodium carbonate, which has an unpleasant, soapy

flavor and tinges the food a yellow color. Deep Frying If you can name it, it’s been deep fried. All it takes is a trip to the local fair or nearest fast-food joint to prove it; chicken nuggets, french fries, potato chips, Oreos, and even Coca-cola have taken a dunk in hot oil to emerge cloaked in a crispy, golden crust. Deep-fried food is cooked by a complex interplay of heat and pressure. Oil has a high boiling point, much higher than that of water, and is relatively dense, so it can hold lots of thermal energy. When food enters the oil of a deep fryer, massive amounts of heat are transferred from the surrounding oil to the surface of the food. Since water’s boiling point is much lower than oil’s, water trapped within the food begins to vaporize starting at the exterior and moving inward. This vaporization produces steam that escapes to the surface of the oil, creating the popping and fizzing we commonly associate with deep frying. The vaporization of water has several other effects on the cooking process. Friction from steam escaping creates internal pressure that prevents oil from penetrating the interior of the food while it remains submerged. Furthermore, the heat generated by said friction helps increase the internal temperature of food. The primary driver of temperature increase, however, is heat conduction. Water is a strong conductor, and its presence in the fried food facilitates the movement of heat to its center. As more water turns to steam and is removed from the food, the transfer of heat slows. It is at this point in the frying process that the chemical reactions responsible for color darkening like the Maillard reaction - and the degradation of nutritional compounds- intensify, creating the food’s fried crust. When removed from the fryer, the steam-generated internal pressure is lost and the oil on the surface can enter the food’s interior. But, more importantly, you now have a hot, greasy, and delicious snack to enjoy.

The Feud Between Baptists and Tauists by Ethan Tieu Illustration & Design: Isabella M. Lozano


hether you have bickered with a friend about your favorite football team or grilled your roommate about not adhering to bathroom-cleanup schedules, most of us have found ourselves in disputes. Scientists are no exception — especially those brave enough to contribute to the heated study of Alzheimer’s Disease. With no scientific consensus reached about the cause of most cases of this complex neurodegenerative condition throughout its century-long history, it is of no surprise that researchers of Alzheimer’s disease have come to master the covert art of professionally quarreling — even going as far as to split between two competing factions. While the names of these cliques are surprisingly in no way affiliated with a specific religion, a look behind the veil of white lab coats and blue latex gloves reveals how the ongoing feud between these “baptists” and “tauists” is no less significant — and no less fascinating — than a modern-day scientific crusade. While Dr. Alois Alzheimer neither had the condition nor named it himself, you do not need to suffer through four years of medical school to see that Alzheimer’s disease was named after him. As probably the most renowned psychiatrist who never attended any clinical lectures in psychiatry, Dr. Alzheimer is most widely known for his work with Auguste Deter, a patient who, in the early 1900s, reported unusual symptoms of disorientation, hallucinations and — most notably — memory loss. While Dr. Alzheimer struggled to identify the source of this condition that would eventually be called “Alzheimer’s disease,” it was only during the post-mortem autopsy


of Auguste’s brain that he noticed what appeared to be small, dark spots scattered throughout—which he would later call “plaques.” If you would be surprised to hear that these findings were dismissed when Dr. Alzheimer first presented them, then you could only imagine the shock that Dr. Alzheimer experienced when many paid little to no attention to these novel findings in 1906. However, beaming with the senseless optimism that all inevitably beaten-down scientists exhibit, Dr. Alzheimer, with the help of a colleague, soon came to identify three additional cases similar to that of Auguste — characterized by symptoms of memory loss coupled with dark plaques throughout the brain! When these findings were presented three years later, the implications were clear: these plaques clearly had something to do with Alzheimer’s disease. Winding the clock about 80 years forward to the mid-1980s, the mystery of plaques was solved when they were found to be clumps of one specific protein: amyloid beta. Within your healthy neurons, a structure known as amyloid precursor protein plays an important role in allowing your neurons to communicate with each other and fend off microorganisms more effectively. However, amyloid beta may be generated when this protein is broken down incorrectly and misfolded, as it often is in older individuals. To put it bluntly, amyloid beta is a menace to your central nervous system. Being “sticky” complexes, they tend to clump up not only with each other to form amyloid plaques, but also between neurons, blocking neuronal signals and even triggering immune responses that can kill neuronal cells. And if this soothing information about the neuronal nightmare that is amyloid beta was not enough to implicate Alzheimer’s disease, a

paper published in 2006 — which has since become one of the most read and cited publications in the field — demonstrated that injecting rats with a particular form of amyloid beta caused them to develop memory defects similar to that of Alzheimer’s disease, illustrating a causal relationship. So there you have it; Alzheimer’s disease is caused primarily by amyloid beta that forms plaques and disrupts neuronal function, an explanation now known as the “amyloid hypothesis.” This line of reasoning may receive a standing ovation, but only if you were talking to a baptist; this close-knit group of scientists is unfaltering in their adherence to the amyloid hypothesis, largely because many of them have based their academic careers on the study of amyloid beta. Without a doubt, baptists are not only the most established faction in this Alzheimer’s crusade, but also the most popular one. But what if amyloid beta did not play the most significant role in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease? What if the amyloid hypothesis was—dare I say—wrong? While there is no denying that amyloid beta plaques are a genuine threat to the health of neurons, multiple new studies have shown that the realization of this threat may be contingent upon the presence of a different, misfolded protein. What’s more, the misfolding of this specific protein has also been revealed to result in the generation of more amyloid beta, possibly leading to greater neuronal death. So what is this mastermind of Alzheimer’s disease, pulling the strings of amyloid plaques from behind the scenes? Enter tau: an intracellular protein that is responsible for maintaining the internal skeleton and shape of neurons. The consequences of tau misfolding are equally as grotesque as that of amyloid beta, but somehow even more predictable. Being unable to maintain their original shape, neurons with a significant proportion of misfolded tau—which aggregate to form what are called tau “tangles” — collapse in on themselves and die. Even worse, because the synapses of neurons may not be blocked by amyloid plaques when a neuron exhibits misfolded tau proteins, this tau dysfunction can spread to surrounding neurons and cause even more cells to (essentially) implode. With these genuinely unsettling properties of tau protein only coming to light in recent years, it is of no surprise that many “tauist” scientists now believe that tau tangles are the primary cause of Alzheimer’s disease and not amyloid beta plaques. And this, my fellow indulgers of professional controversy, is where the feud and confusion truly begins: Is Alzheimer’s disease more significantly influenced by the extracellular aggregations of amyloid plaques or by the intracellular misfolding of tau tangles? To further complicate already complicated matters, before recent studies demonstrated that tau tangles could upregulate the aggregation of amyloid plaques, earlier studies painted a flipped narrative by contrastingly insisting that the aggregation of amyloid plaques was responsible for the prevalence of tau tangles. While the likely explanation of this apparent discrepancy is that both amyloid beta plaques and tau tangles can influence each other, baptists and tauists have somehow found ways to incessantly argue about why one protein more significantly affects the other and will likely maintain this dispute until an effective therapy for Alzheimer’s disease is developed — which (spoiler alert) has simply not happened. While I may be placed in the crossfire for saying this, I will say it again: as of October 2022, not a single therapy for Alzheimer’s disease has been effective. Not the countless amyloid-targeting therapies that aim to remove plaques, nor the two previous tau-targeting therapies that aim to remove tangles. None. In terms of actually reversing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, it is indisputable that there has not been a single effective therapy to date. And yet, baptists and

tauists — in classic Baptist-Tauist fashion — have still found ways to squint at the data sideways and somehow argue that their favored therapy is less ineffective than that of their adversary. While a minute subsample of patients treated with Biogen’s amyloid-targeting Aducanumab and TauRx’s tau-targeting LMTM (two well-known therapies that previously concluded clinical trials) certainly did exhibit a very promising reduction in the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, the use of such insignificant statistics within the context of a professional argument not only emphasizes the nonsensical lengths that these two factions will go to claim the smallest of victories, but it is also, admittedly, quite humorous. As you have probably come to understand the danger of placing a baptist and tauist together in an unsupervised room through the magnitude and absurdity of their disputes, you may find it impossible to believe that, although rare, instances of agreement between these two groups have existed. One such momentary lapse of peace occurred recently, but not for the reasons you may expect. In late June 2022, figures within a specific scientific paper were found to be doctored. Although such occurrences are more common than you may think, the fraudulent paper at hand was not just any publication: it was the previously mentioned milestone paper of 2006 that demonstrated a causal relationship between amyloid beta and the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. While you may initially assume that tauists would use this opportunity to pounce on the baptists, strategically striking when they were scrambling to fix a hole in their foundation, this was not the case. Of course, many tauists expressed their frustration on how much funding and time may have been wasted on developing “doomed” amyloid-targeting therapies for Alzheimer’s disease, but an even greater proportion of tauists sided with the baptists to jointly condemn this unacceptable falsification of data. Within any field of research, there is a somewhat sacred, good-faith expectation that researchers will only publish truthful data — and for good reason. Not only are the findings of scientific research etched into the halls of knowledge, but fabricated data may also serve to undermine the many future research efforts that they inspired. Because of this unwavering devotion to truth and knowledge across all academic disciplines the baptists and tauists set aside their differences despite their seemingly incessant feuding. When it comes to research, nobody gets anywhere without working with somebody. By reaching out to experts of related fields and building upon the publications of others, researchers from across the globe can collaborate to accomplish in a matter of years what would take a single scientist several lifetimes to explore. It is this mosaic of sustained scholarly collaboration that makes research so beautiful, enjoyable and impactful. While the baptists and tauists bridged their ravines only temporarily, it is this constructive influence between the two groups that should be encouraged. With this age-old feud now revolving around whether the soon-to-be-released clinical data of baptist-endorsed Lecanumab or tauist-endorsed Lucidity will demonstrate that one treatment is superior to the other, it is clear that these two scholarly groups — despite working towards a common goal — are not benefiting from integral constructive influence. Instead, the expertise of baptists and tauists should converge to collectively develop a more comprehensive understanding of how Alzheimer’s disease occurs. While overcoming the fascinating polarity between these factions may be challenging, this Alzheimer’s crusade may finally arrive at the scientific consensus it has been searching for.


SECRET INGREDIENT: WORK WHY DOES FOOD TASTE BETTER WHEN YOU WORK FOR IT? by Luke Sims Illustration & Design: Meera Patel and Megan Piller


ake a look back on some of your favorite meals. Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute. Now you’re probably visualizing a fancy dinner at a nice restaurant where you’re served a perfectly cooked steak or freshly caught seafood; maybe you’re even associating this meal with an important event like a graduation or anniversary. This visualization of a “perfect meal” is completely normal, but it’s not exactly what I thought of when considering my own favorite meal. I want to take you back to November of 2019, I was in my sophomore year of high school playing football in Minnesota. Imagine a game being played in29 degree weather on a field covered in dead grass and mud. It’s sleeting and the sky is dark - otherwise known as perfect November football conditions in Northern Minnesota (not). By the end of the first quarter everyone is battling the stiffness of frozen hands and feet. Black and gold jerseys have turned brown from the mud encompassing every part of the field. Finally, the game is over and everyone is rushing to the team bus to find any form of heat to recover from the biting cold. Legs numb and teeth still chattering, I’m dropped off at home by one of my teammates and as I’m attempting to get my motor functions back, my mom calls out to me that she’s heating up a plate for supper. It’s long past traditional dinner time at this point and I’m famished. The good ole midwestern classic tater tot hot dish is staring back at me as I sit down at the table for dinner. This is my version of a “perfect meal” and it’s single handedly the best meal I’ve ever eaten. Something my mom threw together with frozen vegetables, ground beef, and cream of mushroom soup bought on clearance is better than any expensive, upscale Miami restaurant that I’ve been to. It’s important to note that I’m not


discounting anyone’s vision of their perfect meal or refusing to recognize that some people, particularly those that get paid to review restaurants or create exquisite menus, may see this dish as, well, trash. I’m just saying that I see my mom’s kitchen as the best restaurant on Earth. I’m probably in the minority when it comes to that opinion and many of you are probably asking why. Why is that simple meal my favorite?? Why would my favorite meal be something that only came after I’d worked hard for it? More importantly, why does the food you eat after you exert yourself taste better than the food that you simply order? Some of you reading this may not share in this opinion or may not understand where I’m coming from. Maybe you enjoy the meals that you just sit down and order and I don’t blame you for that - it’s simple, efficient, and often pretty enjoyable. However, in my personal experience the most memorable meals I have eaten have all come after I “worked” for them. Interestingly enough, there has been a lot of research into this exact idea. A study done by Johns Hopkins University stated that “It’s commonly accepted that we appreciate something more if we have to work hard to get it, and a new study bears that out, at least when it comes to food. The study seems to suggest that hard work can even enhance our appreciation for fare we might not favor, such as the low-fat, low calorie variety.” Johns Hopkins also conducted a study on mice in which said mice had a choice to either press a lever once and get rewarded with a small treat or press a lever fifteen times and get rewarded with a more substantial snack. It was concluded that the mice preferred the food that they had to work to get aka the snack they had to press the lever fifteen times for. If you really think about it, we have to work for all

the food we eat in one way or another. You may have to go to work to earn money that will be spent on groceries which you will then have to expend time and energy to prep and cook or you may be paying a chef or restaurant to make the food for you and then serve it to you. Even if you grow your own food you still have to put in the time and effort to work the land, plant the seeds, and maintain the plants as they grow to maturity and eventually produce fruits or vegetables. Preparing a meal for yourself? You have to work for that too. The reward, however, is more of an appreciation or sense of accomplishment. There is also a defined relationship between hunger and activity. If you work hard physically - like completing a workout for example - you’ll work up an appetite. Food is more valuable to you the hungrier you are which would definitely contribute to food tasting better after you have worked. Recent studies have shown that actually working is connected to the senses. The National Library of Medicine concluded that working out makes your taste buds and broader sense of taste more receptive to certain things; it unlocks the true power of your tastebuds and can actually expose you to new flavors or enhance the ones you already enjoy. Nutrition and physical activity are incredibly interconnected and serve as the best explanation as to why some foods may taste better after having worked for them. So, whether it’s my mom’s kitchen, that post-workout smoothie you always enjoy, or even the fast food you grab during your short lunch break, it’s clear that these foods probably taste better after you’ve put in some time or energy before enjoying them.


Would you like dinner served? by Sabrina Merola Illustration & Design: Isabella M. Lozano


ere’s the special on our menu today: When grocery stores such as Publix put out “10 for 10” deals, it persuades the consumer to buy that item in bulk. This is especially true for families that cannot afford to buy high-priced foods, allowing them to get their favorite foods at a discounted price. Not educating the public on the meaning behind “best by” or “best before” is a growing concern, with the USDA not setting strict guidelines for the true “expiration date” of different food items being sold at grocery stores. As the new generation, we must ask ourselves if we can truly accept this. Is the food labeling system telling us the truth? We are consuming different types of food daily; can we confidently say we know the truth behind the tiny labels on our canned foods? Regardless of the socioeconomic situation, food manufacturing companies have used the popularity of “10 for 10” deals to direct attention away from the food potentially reaching its expiration date. Let’s go back in time... employees and managers would see scavengers taking the leftover food that had been thrown out. This led to buzzing around the businessmen on whether the food they had thrown out wasn’t actually spoiled. A group


of researchers were employed to investigate the matter and found that the people who had eaten this food weren’t getting ill. Why was this happening? When you are walking down the aisles of the grocery store and see yogurt listed as “10 for 10,” this truly means that the yogurt is reaching its peak flavor and quality. When this deadline has passed, the product might not taste as good as usual, but will continue to be deemed safe for human consumption. It is an intricate web of business for food corporations to prevent a greater loss of money. In a business aspect, it is more appealing to maximize shelf-life for products in comparison to tossing approximately 133 million tons of food each year— as many grocery stores do. From an environmental perspective, the continued waste of food that is deemed “bad” because it passed the labeled expiration date has led to tons of food being dumped in landfills. As they decompose, they release methane (greenhouse gas), which heavily contributes to the global air pollution crisis. Companies such as Flashfood, aCanadian-based start-up, sell groceries that are approaching their “sell-by” date before they are thrown out. To attract customers, these food items are marked up to a 50% discount to stimulate food demand while also saving them money. This is the same technique grocery stores such as Publix are employing when they release their weekly deals of “10 for 10,” “Buy one get one free,” “Buy two get one free,” etc. The psychological tactics used in grocery stores trick customers into believing they need food products just because they are on sale at that moment. Although consumers always desire to save, they frequently purchase extra food because of the “limited time offer” tactic that makes it seem like a fantastic deal they shouldn’t pass up. Ever wonder why common food items may be found at totally opposite ends of the store? It is as simple as this: the longer a customer moves throughout the store, the more likely it is that they will notice additional products that are on sale and become distracted from their shopping lists. Impoverished individuals are affected more by these deals compared to middle-

class or wealthy individuals who can afford to purchase these products whether on sale or at full-price. Regardless of socioeconomic status, everyone should be made aware of the meaning of stamped dates on our food products, as it guides decision-making and raises awareness on whether or not to buy products that have special deals. The concern lies with the communication of the language used on these food products. To customers, “sell-by,” “best by,” and “best before” all mean to express the date the food will expire, but this is not true. Assumptions must be put to rest and federal agencies must specify the uses of the terms and their meaning. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that these dates don’t serve a safety role, which explains why many U.S. states have varying regulations on the shelf-life of different products. The Food Date Labeling Act of 2021 introduced the terms, “use by” for safety (this signifies to the customer that the food is unsafe to eat after the date posted) and “best if used by” for food quality/freshness (this signifies that the food might not taste as fresh after the date posted, but is still safe to consume). The “sell-by,” “best by,” and “best before” dates are specifically for the awareness of the grocery store, and not made out to be for the customers at all. It allows for the company’s estimate of when the food produced will be at its optimal state. If customers eat the food by this date, the food will taste its best, encouraging customers to purchase the same product again, which in turn increases profit. This system still lacks in informing the public about the terminology being used to describe these dates. The FDA and USDA must consistently engage in efforts to clear any confusion of food date labeling and give the freedom to customers to choose which foods they decide to purchase and

consume for themselves and their family. Our grocery stores and federal agencies assume that their customers are eating this food within days of their purchase, but this is often not the case. It would be reasonable to think that a person wouldn’t consume ten containers of yogurt before they expire (i.e., three days after purchase). It is also important to consider that not all customers will store the foods properly,holding a great impact on how long the food will last. The question and choice are up to us. Whether it’s “10 for 10” or “buy one get one free,” we should be looking at the date to determine the longevity of our food. Is everything on special deals truly special? Grocery stores are at our service and we must become wise shoppers. So, I’m prompted to ask you: What was the discount on dinner?


PROTEIN? I thought only bodybuilders need that stuff! by Chirag Anand Illustration & Design: Gaby Torna


’ve heard about this so-called protein thing, but why should I care? Did you know protein is the most satiating macronutrient? The term satiating refers to how long after eating we still feel “full” and are not hungry. The three primary macronutrients are fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Let’s paint a picture. Have you ever had a good bowl of pasta that filled you up, but then a few hours later, you felt hungry again? This is explained by the fact that simple/processed carbs, such as pasta made from white flour, are digested rapidly by our bodies, making us hungry again very quickly. This doesn’t mean we should demonize other macronutrients like fats and carbohydrates. Instead, it’s a better idea to plan out how we can make a particular meal more satiating with the addition of protein. An example of this is adding some parmesan cheese and grilled chicken to a plate of pasta. The results are an excellent and tasty dish that’ll leave you feeling satiated for a bit longer. So compared to simple carbohydrates, why is protein more satiating? It’s simple, it slows down digestion and is much harder for our body to break down. Proteins are a chain of amino acids that can have many variations. There are 22 different amino acids, of which nine are considered essential. These nine amino acids are considered essential because they must be consumed through food. In contrast, the body can produce the 13 other amino acids deemed nonessential. What are calories, and what does it have to do with protein? Calories are a unit of energy that we get from food. Furthermore, we expend calories via exercise and our basal metabolic rate (BMR). BMR is the amount of energy or calories our body needs to perform basic


life-sustaining activities such as making the heartbeat or breathing. The macronutrients come into play here because each gram has its own associated amount of calories. Fats have nine calories per gram, while carbohydrates and protein have four calories per gram. These differences are interesting; fat is unique in the sense that one gram of fat provides about the same amount of energy as two grams of carbohydrates or protein. Although these macronutrients provide us with these amounts of energy, after digesting them, we are left with less energy (the act of digesting takes up energy). Carbohydrates and fats have a thermic effect of 5-15%, and protein has a thermic effect of 20-35%. The thermic effect describes the amount of energy needed to digest the calories (or energy) you consume. This reveals another secret benefit of protein and why it can aid in weight loss. For example, consuming a gram of protein is supposed to provide you with four calories. Since its thermic effect is about 20-

35%, in the end, it only provides you with about three calories. This can be beneficial for someone with the intention of weight loss— including more protein in their diet allows them to eat more food that leaves them feeling satiated without consuming as many calories. Consuming enough daily protein is crucial and can be attained even with dietary restrictions. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. In other words, this means that you should be, at a minimum, consuming at least 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. It is important to note that amount is the bare minimum, and it’s a great idea to incorporate more to receive higher benefits of protein. Animal proteins are generally complete proteins, as they contain all nine essential amino acids. Plant proteins such as soybeans are also considered to be complete proteins. Plant proteins such as wheat and peanuts are high in total protein, but lack one or more essential amino acids. Therefore, diets lacking animal protein should ensure they incorporate a variety

of plant proteins. Animal-protein and plant-proteinbased diets can both provide you with adequate types of protein. Overall, protein benefits anyone as it keeps you satiated and helps you lose and maintain weight. Being satiated is crucial as it allows you to curb unhealthy cravings that would leave you feeling weaker and tired. For weight loss and maintenance, protein is a good tool as it is not only low in calories, but also increases metabolism because of its thermic effect and how it takes more energy from your body to digest. Furthermore, these benefits are easy for anyone to attain, as a balanced protein intake can be achieved even with different dietary restrictions.




YOU'RE BACON ME CRAZY by Caleb Heathershaw


he word “bacon” comes from the Old High Germanic word “bakko,” which means back-meat or buttock. Bacon is a salt-cured smoked pork product that comes from the belly of a pig. Every single year, 2 billion pounds of bacon are produced in the U.S. A single cooked 8-gram slice of bacon contains 3.3 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein, and 137 mg of sodium. Let’s look at a few more bits about bacon. BACON SEDUCTIVELY STIMULATES ALL OF OUR SENSES. You place a thick slice of bacon in a hot skillet and it begins to sizzle and crackle, alerting your ears that sweet satisfaction is soon to be found. As the bacon is cooking, the Maillard Reaction causes fats in the cell membrane of the pig’s muscle tissue to melt. Sugars and amino acids are released and swirl into a sensuous smorgasbord of organic molecules. Smoky smells emanate as smoldering phenols and caramelly maple lactones waft through the air. You pull the bacon out of the pan and the effervescent shades of pink and brown entice your eyes. When you finally bite into a slice, the chewy crispy crunch contrasts with the smooth fat coating your mouth. Then, the true taste of organic chemistry hits your tongue. Your taste buds are overwhelmed by sweet and nutty furans, meaty pyridines and pyrazines, and roasted toasty thiazoles. The sweet and salty caloric overload triggers your brain to remember this resource as perhaps the single most indulgent food you have ever tasted. EXCESSIVE BACON INCREASES CANCER RISK. A new study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology suggests that consumption of 76 grams of processed red meat per day increases your risk for colorectal cancer. To keep uncooked meat pink for longer and prevent botulinum growth, meat packers often add a preservative called nitrite. At high temperatures, like the temperatures found in a frying pan, nitrites combine with amino acids to form nitrosamine, a known carcinogen. Interestingly, the World Health Organization


Illustration & Design: Meera Patel classifies processed meat as a group 1 carcinogen (the same group containing tobacco smoking, alcohol, and asbestos). The carcinogenic risks of eating bacon increase when consumed daily, but enjoying it occasionally (weekly) will not increase your risk for cancer. So, enjoy your pork in moderation. TWO BACONS TRANSFORMED THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD. Roger Bacon was a Franciscan monk and scholar who introduced the empirical foundations of research to Europe in the 13th century. Following the methods of Alhazen (a Muslim mathematician from the 10th century), he described nature empirically through observation, hypothesis, experimentation. He became one of the premier scholars of the medieval ages, culminating in his patronage to Pope Clement for whom he produced works on astrology, astronomy, and alchemy, and importantly, the Opus Majus which synchronized aristotelian philosophy and empirical inquiry with theology. Unfortunately, Roger Bacon’s contemporaries viewed him as a wizard and malicious magician, so his groundbreaking thoughts would have to wait a few centuries to be appreciated. In the 16th century, Sir Francis Bacon (no relation to Roger Bacon), when not advising Queen Elizabeth I or King James I, would read and write treatises on history and philosophy. Sir Francis Bacon discovered the works of Roger Bacon and began to formulate his own empirical practices of thinking. In his most significant work, Advancement of Learning, he developed a systematic method of learning called eliminative induction, which characterized knowledge through description, classification, and elimination. This Baconian method of thinking became the basis of the Scientific Method we use to expand knowledge to this day. Although Sir Francis Bacon is known as the father of the Scientific Method, both Sir Francis and Roger deserve to share the title. So, when you sit down to eat your next slice of bacon, think about the tremendous chemical tango on your tongue, think about how the food you eat affects your long term health, and finally, think about two thinkers who paved the way for modern science. Then, enjoy your breakfast!



by Michel Huyghe Illustration & Design: Genesis Maria Leiva Cerna


hat if I told you that you could achieve the body of your dreams in mere weeks? You don’t believe me? Good. You shouldn’t. Often, claims like this are used to promote “fad diets.” Common signs that you’ve encountered a fad diet are the promotion of a quick fix, promised rapid weight loss, restriction or elimination of certain food groups and very rigid rules. These claims and protocols are often supported by little to no research. Some recent fad diets that have gained traction over the past couple of years include keto (barring epilepsy treatment), paleo, carnivore diet and even the grapefruit diet (and yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like). It is understandable why claims of rapid weight loss gain traction; the obesity prevalence in the US from 2017 to March 2020 was 41.9%. The CDC also notes that obesity comes with various health risks, including increased mortality, hypertension, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and many others. While the claims proponents of these diets make may seem promising, there are various reasons why fad diets are unsustainable and, in some cases, even harmful. However, as a society, we still seem to fall for these outrageous claims and unsustainable diets. In 2018, Boston Medical Center reported that of the 45 million Americans that go on a diet every year, 50% use a fad diet. That being said, it is essential to look into the psychology behind fad diets, why they fail, potential health risks and healthier,


more sustainable diet alternatives. Why do we fall for fad diets? Even after hearing dubious claims and seeing alarming restrictions, why do we still fall for fad diets? One major factor is body dissatisfaction. Body dissatisfaction occurs when someone has negative thoughts about their physical appearance. Women tend to have higher body dissatisfaction rates, which lines up with the fact that women are more likely to use fad diets. A 2006 study led by Sarah Davy of the University of Nebraska found that in collegiate students, despite being less obese and less overweight than men (16% compared to 46%), women were more likely to feel like they needed to lose weight (57% to 29%) and to try a variety of different diets. However, only 17% of participants said that they were pleased with the diets they tried. On the same note, a 2015 study led by Mi-Hyun Kim reported that in collegians, females were more likely to try to lose weight (78.6% to 52.8%) and were more prone to utilize fad diets than men. The researchers also reported the most frequent side effect of fad dieting was the yo-yo effect, or repeated weight gain and weight loss. All of this, compiled with compelling marketing claims that paint fad diets as a quick fix and solution to all problems, produces a parasitic relationship between these diets and their participants. People turn to them to solve their problems, increasing the diet’s popularity, only to be left in a cycle of yo-yo dieting and continued dissatisfaction. One source that is much to blame for this

dissatisfaction and fad diet phenomenon is social media, as people are constantly fed images of what the “ideal” body type looks like, leading to dissatisfaction with their bodies. Then, conveniently enough, the same people with these ideal bodies market these diets to those who feel dissatisfied, drawing people in with the chance to look like them. It stops becoming about health and more about appearance, which leads to clouded judgment and poor decisionmaking. Even those who are trying to lose weight for health reasons can still fall into the same trap of false marketing and promises that don’t come to fruition, which can be even more severe— highrisk individuals need a diet that works in order to lose weight and become healthier. Why do fad diets fail? But why exactly don’t these diets work? There are multiple reasons why fad diets rarely give sustainable results. First, the toogood-to-be-true claims that fad diet promoters often propagate set people up for failure. People hear promises of fast weight loss, and the scale might even go down quickly for the first couple of weeks. Initial weight loss is usually not fat alone (not even primarily fat) but water and muscle, with the majority being water. After this initial weight-loss phase, a combination of the participant feeling the side effects of the diet and the scale no longer reflecting the marketing claims they bought into can cause discouragement or abandonment of the diet altogether. Another reason these diets tend to fail is due to impracticality. Limitations to specific food groups and elimination of food groups can make adhering to fad diets impractical. There’s not always going to be a high-fat and low-carb option at the office party if you’re following a ketogenic diet. Depending on your financial situation, buying hundreds of dollars in fresh meats and organic produce might not be possible if you’re following a paleo diet. Believe it or not, a day will come when you want to eat something other than meat if you’re following the carnivore diet. There are plenty of other examples of prevalent scenarios where these diets aren’t practical, leading to people giving up and not seeing results. Are fad diets healthy? So fad diets are unsustainable, but they can also have adverse health effects. Some common health effects from fad diets include weakness, fatigue, muscle loss, headaches, nausea and dehydration. Many factors play into these adverse effects. The first and primary offender is the severe calorie deficit these diets often impose on the user. A general rule of thumb for healthy weight loss is eating 500 calories below maintenance calories, or the calories needed to sustain the body’s energy expenditure. This rule stems from the fact that a pound of body fat contains 3500 calories, so at a 500-calorie deficit, one will lose around one pound of body fat per week, which is both effective and healthy for most people. However, many fad diets push far beyond a healthy calorie deficit, some even being considered “crash diets,” which intend to slash calorie intake to the absolute minimum to maximize fat loss in the shortest period. “Detoxes” are guilty of this as well, as they tend to limit the user to only juices that total up to less than 1000 calories per day. For reference, a study led by Leanne Redman found that men’s average daily caloric expenditure is around 2850 and for women, around 2300. The body reacts very negatively to this, as you’re essentially trying to run a car without putting gas in

the tank. Other issues come from the fact that fad diets often include eliminating foods or entire food groups. For example, the keto diet requires the elimination of carbohydrates, the body’s primary source of energy. This can lead to what is known as the “keto flu,” a combination of fatigue, nausea, weakness, heartbeat alterations and a host of other symptoms, as the body struggles to switch entirely to fats as the primary source of fuel. Another example includes the paleo diet, in which the elimination of dairy products has been shown to result in inadequate calcium intake, which can be detrimental to bone health in the long term. Further, the carnivore diet comes with massive micronutrient deficiencies if you don’t supplement due to the complete elimination of fruits and vegetables. Again, these examples are a few of many others. What should we do? So what’s the solution? Where’s the middle ground? How can we achieve effective weight loss that is both effective and sustainable? Balance. No clickbait or buzzwords, just a balanced healthy diet containing all the food groups in their proper quantities (barring foods individuals may choose or have to eliminate for personal reasons). One example of a diet that falls into this category exceptionally well is the Mediterranean diet (just because it has a name doesn’t mean it’s a fad diet!). This diet emphasizes a balance of all food groups, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, seafood, poultry, dairy and healthy fats, while also encouraging participants to avoid highly processed grains, fats and sugars. However, it is important to consult a doctor before hopping on any diet. Primary care physicians are trained in nutritional knowledge and skills to work with patients. They also have insight into patients’ overall health, medical history and goals, allowing them to find the best, most sustainable diet for their individual needs and preferences. For people to consult their doctors, there needs to be a change in how dieting is viewed. We should view dieting as a step towards a long-term healthier life, allowing us to break free from the mentality that fad diet promoters so often take advantage of. Lastly, we need to face the reality that weight loss is not a quick-fix issue. Weight loss and body transformation take time when done correctly, and the results don’t always reveal themselves right away. Healthy dieting is a marathon, not a sprint, but it pays off when the result is a higher quality of life.





by Pavan Gudoor Illustration & Design: Megan Piller

The Food Alert Program was designed by the University of Miami’s Environment and Conservation Organization - otherwise known as ECO Agency - with the purpose of promoting food waste diversion on-campus. Registered students are notified by text when campus events serving food have leftovers, so that they can go and grab something to eat.

If you are interested in signing up for the Food Alert Program, text “@foodalertp” to 81010

If you are a student organization and would like to ensure your event is featured in the program or to learn more about how you can get involved in this initiative, please email


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