June 22, 2018

Weekend reads: Do your surgeons have a 'limb pit?'

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    The science behind your junkfood cravings. Do you like salty fries? Sugary, greasy doughnuts? Well science may have figured out why: Foods that combine fats and carbs overstimulate the brain's reward mechanism in a way not unlike drug misuse does, according to a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism. For the study, researchers used real-time brain scans to determine the effects of these foods on people's brains and found that "foods containing both fat and carbohydrate are more rewarding … than those containing only fat or only carbohydrate." According to Dana Small, from the Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center at Yale University, this could explain why it's so hard to resist foods that are bad for you, because they "trick those [brain] circuits."

    All that noise at work might be making it hard for you to sleep. Having a noisy workplace during the day could cause stress that can make it difficult for you to sleep, according to a study published in the journal Sleep Medicine. For the study, researchers collected data on 40 hospital cafeteria workers on days when they were assigned a shift in a high-noise area and when they were working in a quieter area. The researchers found that when workers were exposed to high levels of noise during the day, they spent less time in the deepest stage of non-REM sleep as well as less time sleeping in total, compared with when they had less noise exposure during the day.

    Rachel Schulze's reads

    Civil War skeletons. Anthropologists are learning more about Civil War wounds and medical practices, thanks to a 2014 discovery of remains at Manassas National Battlefield. According to the New York Times, the discovery yielded two nearly complete sets of remains and 11 partial limbs—marking the "first-ever discovery of an intact surgeon's 'limb pit,'" the National Park Services said Wednesday. According to the Times, many of the limbs "had clean-cut cross-sections at the thigh," which indicates the soldiers were injured in the shin or foot. Meanwhile, the injuries to the skeletons—one of which had a bullet in the thigh, while the other had injuries in the shoulder, groin, and lower leg—indicate a triaging process, according to Times. Katie Liming, a spokesperson for the National Park Service, said, "These two almost-full sets of remains, buried fairly hastily, tell us that surgeons probably saw these men and said, 'There's nothing we can do.'"

    Wash the veggies, but not the chicken. Writing in NPR's "The Salt," Jill Neimark offers a rundown on which foods to wash—and which not to wash—as part of preparation. Produce should be washed "thoroughly," Neimark says. How thoroughly? She cites research by scientists at Tennessee State University, who found soaking apples, tomatoes, and lettuce in water and then rinsing them under running water reduced the prevalence microorganisms significantly. When it comes to chicken, don't rinse it, Neimark writes, as doing so ups the risk of spreading potential dangerous bacteria around the cooking space. "Any bacteria will be killed during the cooking process," according to Cleveland Clinic dietitian Laura Jeffers. To kill bacteria, chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.  

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