Myths on Facebook – Negative Calorie Foods

By Anupum Pant

I have never felt the necessity to pay attention to diet related news/facts till date (now I do).
So, never in my life had I read the phrase “negative calorie foods”, until yesterday, when a friend posted the following “WTF fact” on Facebook:

Celery has negative calories! It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it.

BS! I cried, and like with everything I read on the internet, I was skeptical about this too. Hence, I decided to investigate. Here is what I found out.

Negative Calories in theory

Theoretically, it is indeed possible for edible items to be negative calorie foods. It works this way.

The body takes more calories to process a negative calorie food item than it (the food item) provides to the body. That basically means that you can sit all day, eat celery, fill your tummy and still keep losing weight. Sounds too good to be true. Exactly!

A Myth

It has been proved once and again that the number of calories your body burns while processing food is tiny when compared with the calories in that food item. So, scientists haven’t yet found a truly “negative calorie” food item.
For instance, a stalk of celery provides 6 calories to the body, but the body expends only half of a single calorie digesting it. That is +five and half calories. As expected, It isn’t negative. In fact, none of the foods advertised have been conclusively proved as actually negative calorie foods. Except one, which again, isn’t really food.

Ice cold water is the only known negative calorie thing you can ingest. It needs more amount of calories to get processed in the body than it give the body.  Most of this energy expended by the body goes into warming up the ice-cold water.

Celery is still good

However, that doesn’t mean celery is not a healthy food item. When compared to other greasy things you could ingest, celery of course is a good alternative (if you are looking to eat healthy). In terms of calorie intake, you’ll be doing great by eating a lot of celery to fill your stomach. But, positive calories mean that you’ll not lose weight unless you get moving. No wonder, virtually every dietitian has a load of celery mentioned in his/her diet plan.

Also, note that, while it is a good food, it isn’t something you could survive on. If you are thinking of trying an only-celery diet, you should know that you’ll be depriving your body of several necessary nutrients by trying that. Consult an informed nutritionist before trying a diet plan.

Finding an informed Nutritionist

To confirm if it is a good nutritionist you are talking to, you could probably test them by innocently inquiring if celery is a negative calorie food item or not. If he/she LOLs and tells you that it is a myth, it would be a good idea to go to them for diet plans.

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Ancient Brain Surgery 1000 Years Ago

By Anupum Pant

With specialized equipment and several other complications, we think we’ve come far with brain surgery. Today, brain surgery is supposed to be a modern advancement that enables us to treat obscure anomalies associated with the human brain. Of course we’ve advanced a lot, but there is no way we can reject the advancements in brain surgery attained during ancient times – Ancient brain surgery.

Trepanation: About 1000 years ago, ancient surgeons were already drilling through the human skulls; exposing the brain. Early Peru doctors were practicing a process called trepanation to treat a variety of brain related ailments.

The Story

Just a few days back, a research team led by UC Santa Barbara’s bioarchaeologist Danielle Kurin, excavated 32 skulls which illustrated that some sort of brain surgery was done on these Peruvian individuals back then. According to them, the skulls unearthed, had been drilled to treat swollen brains, or  of a neurological, spiritual or psychosomatic illnesses.

Around 1000 years ago, when a Peruvian empire was collapsing, on various skull, drilling and cutting methods were being employed to deal with challenges like violence, disease and depravation. This trend is seen as somewhat similar to how IED’s are driving exploration of prosthetic technology in the military now.  Exactly as guessed, not all of these ancient brain surgery procedures were successful, some of them did fail. But that is not the point.

According to Daniel Kurin talking about one of these 32 unearthed skull samples:

In one example, each hole is drilled a little deeper than the last. So you can imagine a guy in his prehistoric Peruvian medical school practicing with his hand drill to know how many times he needs to turn it to nimbly and accurately penetrate the thickness of a skull.

As noted by the lead researcher, a great amount of skill and practice was involved in these procedures. It is incredible to note that surgeons back then were using modern medical educational practices – using dead bodies to study physical sicknesses.

It wasn’t torture

Finally, if you’d argue that it could be a way to torture prisoners, scientists have something to disprove that theory too. What they were doing was not a way to torture people. They’ve found solid proofs that the skulls of individuals that were being drilled, were actually sick and were being operated upon by using proper operating procedures – like shaving hair before operating.

Pope John XXI – A Man of God and Science

by Anupum Pant

Pope John XXI was the only pope ever, who had an illustrious medical career alongside his work as a theologian. He was also a fruitful writer, who wrote on subjects like logic, physics, philosophy and medicine. Before being elected as a Pope, he served as personal physician to Pope Gregory.

In medicine, he contributed towards great advances in female reproductive system and wrote about a few remarkably effective methods of birth control, during times when the Catholic Church condemned contraception. He also taught medicine at the University of Siena.

As men with thoughts ahead of their time are always labeled as heretics, John was also called a magician after his death. His death was announced to have been caused by “an act of god”.

The unfortunate accident

His brief papacy [of 8 months, 1276-77] ended with a tragic accident:

As a man of the science, he dabbled in astronomy and had a special room built in the papal palace. He loved spending hours in this special room, where he could observe the stars at night. It was in this room, where he sustained severe injuries, when the roof of his palace collapsed. He died six days later (on May 20, 1277).

Stephen Hawking’s interpretation

In 1277, Pope John XXI’s declared ‘laws of nature’ to be heresy because they conflicted with God’s omnipotence. Several years later, Hawking and Mlodinow, with their book, The Grand Design, caused quite a stir when they wrote – “Pope John was killed by the effects of the law of gravity a few months later when the roof of his palace fell in on him“.

Bonus Death Fact: Jack Daniel, the founder of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey distillery, died in very peculiar manner:

Unable to open the safe in his office, Mr. Jack kicked it in frustration. This blow broke his toe and infection set in, leading to his untimely death in 1911. – [Source]