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The Japanese practice that will change your eating habits
Sometimes less is more.
Centuries from now, when A.I. is growing its own flesh and constantly tweaking its code for more longevity, it will study the strange practices of Homo sapiens. Among the many fascinating and strange relics it will stumble upon will be the all-you-can-eat buffet. The notion that an animal would purposefully gorge itself, and then keep going, and going, will certainly make A.I. shake its head in disbelief.
Today, however, we're living in a time when portion sizes have increased dramatically; 54 percent of Americans eat until their plate is clean, regardless of whether or not they’re hungry. To some, leaving food on your plate is a sign of disrespect, but that’s a mindset that needs to change. Sometimes you’re just not that hungry, and there's no reason to continue.
Eating until you’re “busting at the seams” becomes a habit. You become desensitized to your body’s natural production of leptin, a hormone that inhibits hunger. Meanwhile, the hormone ghrelin goes to town, tricking yourself into thinking you need that extra serving. The result is obesity and all the diseases that follow.
Three words can help: hara hachi bu.
While the constant winner in terms of diets always seems to be Mediterranean, there’s also the way you eat. One practice to consider is hara hachi bu, a teaching attributed to Confucius that instructs you to stop eating when your belly is 80 percent full—roughly 1,800 to 1,900 calories a day. (American buffet fans will be displeased to learn we’re number one in the world in caloric intake, at 2,200 to a whopping 3,300.) This principle is practiced on the island of Okinawa, which has the longest life expectancy in the world. Interestingly, geographic data, whether intentionally or coincidentally, shows they follow this principle to a tee:
For adults, total protein and lipid intakes were about the same, but energy intake was 20% less than the Japanese national average. The rates of death due to cerebral vascular disease, malignancy, and heart disease on Okinawa were only 59%, 69%, and 59%, respectively, of those for the rest of Japan.
While the exact origins of this principle are tough to pin down, Book 7 of Analects of Confucius instructs:
When the Master was eating by the side of a mourner, he never ate to the full.
While in Book 10:
He would not eat in excess, even when presented with refined grain or finely minced meat.
In his book, The Three Pillars of Zen, Philip Kapleau cites a 14th-century text, Zazen Yojinki, which further instructs:
Eight parts of a full stomach sustain the man; the other two sustain the doctor.
Regardless of exact origins, calorie restriction has proven to be an effective method for weight loss, overall health, and longevity. It has recently been shown to reduce age-related risks of diseases of dementia, cancer, and diabetes. Though extreme instances of caloric restriction (50 percent or more of your regular intake) might have its own problems, 20 percent is certainly a goal many would find beneficial.
Easier said than done. By design, our stomachs hold 48 ounces at full capacity. Though overeating doesn’t exactly stretch our stomachs, it does change the amount of food it can hold:
Think of it more as "increasing stomach elasticity" than "permanently stretching your stomach." The scientific term for this is "distensibility"—defined as "the ability of something to become stretched."
It takes several weeks for you to change your stomach’s distensibility; the occasional binge won’t change its structure. But regularly overeating will. If you become accustomed to 2,500 calories per day, you’ll likely feel famished at 2,000, or 80 percent. Yet a few weeks at 2,000 will again change your satiety levels. The bar then becomes 1,600, if that is enough to subsist. It depends on where you start and how you've gotten to where you are.
While we’re all creatures of habit, our emotional connection to food makes caloric restriction particularly challenging. Calorie counting creates its own neurosis, though at the beginning that might prove an effective method. Basic principles to apply include not allowing yourself to get hungry, as you’ll likely increase your chances of overeating; eat slowly, which greatly aids the digestion process; eat plenty of vegetables, especially if you’re accustomed to eating lots of complex carbs and protein; and choose smaller plates—sorry buffet fans.
Whether or not Confucius created the 80 percent rule, his message was moderation in everything. Given our cultural struggle with obesity and diseases of affluence, it’s a lesson we can certainly institute 2,500 years later a half-world away.
Northwell Health is using insights from website traffic to forecast COVID-19 hospitalizations two weeks in the future.
- The machine-learning algorithm works by analyzing the online behavior of visitors to the Northwell Health website and comparing that data to future COVID-19 hospitalizations.
- The tool, which uses anonymized data, has so far predicted hospitalizations with an accuracy rate of 80 percent.
- Machine-learning tools are helping health-care professionals worldwide better constrain and treat COVID-19.
The value of forecasting<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTA0Njk2OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMzM2NDQzOH0.rid9regiDaKczCCKBsu7wrHkNQ64Vz_XcOEZIzAhzgM/img.jpg?width=980" id="2bb93" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="31345afbdf2bd408fd3e9f31520c445a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1546" data-height="1056" />
Northwell emergency departments use the dashboard to monitor in real time.
Credit: Northwell Health<p>One unique benefit of forecasting COVID-19 hospitalizations is that it allows health systems to better prepare, manage and allocate resources. For example, if the tool forecasted a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations in two weeks, Northwell Health could begin:</p><ul><li>Making space for an influx of patients</li><li>Moving personal protective equipment to where it's most needed</li><li>Strategically allocating staff during the predicted surge</li><li>Increasing the number of tests offered to asymptomatic patients</li></ul><p>The health-care field is increasingly using machine learning. It's already helping doctors develop <a href="https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2020/06/09/dc19-1870" target="_blank">personalized care plans for diabetes patients</a>, improving cancer screening techniques, and enabling mental health professionals to better predict which patients are at <a href="https://healthitanalytics.com/news/ehr-data-fuels-accurate-predictive-analytics-for-suicide-risk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elevated risk of suicide</a>, to name a few applications.</p><p>Health systems around the world have already begun exploring how <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7315944/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">machine learning can help battle the pandemic</a>, including better COVID-19 screening, diagnosis, contact tracing, and drug and vaccine development.</p><p>Cruzen said these kinds of tools represent a shift in how health systems can tackle a wide variety of problems.</p><p>"Health care has always used the past to predict the future, but not in this mathematical way," Cruzen said. "I think [Northwell Health's new predictive tool] really is a great first example of how we should be attacking a lot of things as we go forward."</p>
Making machine-learning tools openly accessible<p>Northwell Health has made its predictive tool <a href="https://github.com/northwell-health/covid-web-data-predictor" target="_blank">available for free</a> to any health system that wishes to utilize it.</p><p>"COVID is everybody's problem, and I think developing tools that can be used to help others is sort of why people go into health care," Dr. Cruzen said. "It was really consistent with our mission."</p><p>Open collaboration is something the world's governments and health systems should be striving for during the pandemic, said Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's president and CEO.</p><p>"Whenever you develop anything and somebody else gets it, they improve it and they continue to make it better," Dowling said. "As a country, we lack data. I believe very, very strongly that we should have been and should be now working with other countries, including China, including the European Union, including England and others to figure out how to develop a health surveillance system so you can anticipate way in advance when these things are going to occur."</p><p>In all, Northwell Health has treated more than 112,000 COVID patients. During the pandemic, Dowling said he's seen an outpouring of goodwill, collaboration, and sacrifice from the community and the tens of thousands of staff who work across Northwell.</p><p>"COVID has changed our perspective on everything—and not just those of us in health care, because it has disrupted everybody's life," Dowling said. "It has demonstrated the value of community, how we help one another."</p>
"You dream about these kinds of moments when you're a kid," said lead paleontologist David Schmidt.
- The triceratops skull was first discovered in 2019, but was excavated over the summer of 2020.
- It was discovered in the South Dakota Badlands, an area where the Triceratops roamed some 66 million years ago.
- Studying dinosaurs helps scientists better understand the evolution of all life on Earth.
Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We had to be really careful," Schmidt told St. Louis Public Radio. "We couldn't disturb anything at all, because at that point, it was under law enforcement investigation. They were telling us, 'Don't even make footprints,' and I was thinking, 'How are we supposed to do that?'"</p><p>Another difficulty was the mammoth size of the skull: about 7 feet long and more than 3,000 pounds. (For context, the largest triceratops skull ever unearthed was about <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02724634.2010.483632" target="_blank">8.2 feet long</a>.) The skull of Schmidt's dinosaur was likely a <em>Triceratops prorsus, </em>one of two species of triceratops that roamed what's now North America about 66 million years ago.</p>
Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College<p>The triceratops was an herbivore, but it was also a favorite meal of the T<em>yrannosaurus rex</em>. That probably explains why the Dakotas contain many scattered triceratops bone fragments, and, less commonly, complete bones and skulls. In summer 2019, for example, a separate team on a dig in North Dakota made <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/science/triceratops-skull-65-million-years-old.html" target="_blank">headlines</a> after unearthing a complete triceratops skull that measured five feet in length.</p><p>Michael Kjelland, a biology professor who participated in that excavation, said digging up the dinosaur was like completing a "multi-piece, 3-D jigsaw puzzle" that required "engineering that rivaled SpaceX," he jokingly told the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/science/triceratops-skull-65-million-years-old.html" target="_blank">New York Times</a>.</p>
Morrison Formation in Colorado
James St. John via Flickr
|Credit: Nobu Tamura/Wikimedia Commons|
Archaeologists discover a cave painting of a wild pig that is now the world's oldest dated work of representational art.
- Archaeologists find a cave painting of a wild pig that is at least 45,500 years old.
- The painting is the earliest known work of representational art.
- The discovery was made in a remote valley on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
Oldest Cave Art Found in Sulawesi<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a9734e306f0914bfdcbe79a1e317a7f0"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/b-wAYtBxn7E?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Persian polymath and philosopher of the Islamic Golden Age teaches us about self-awareness.