A pleasure to burn: Why do people like spicy foods?

Spicy foods are enjoyed the world over, but scientists don't know why people partake in culinary masochism.

Image source: Pixabay
  • Humans are the only animals known to willingly eat foods that cause irritation, discomfort, and even pain.
  • Theories for why range from thrill-seeking behavior to an evolutionary adaptation for seeking foods that reduce pathogens.
  • Taste results from an interplay of genes, culture, memory, and personality, a complex design that scientists are only now beginning to understand.
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Culture & Religion

Every step you take, you're likely walking on a world of unseen and undescribed microbial diversity. And you don't need to head out into nature to find these usually unnoticed microscopic organisms.

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Surprising Science

Schizophrenia's surprising link to the gut

What's in your tummy might affect what's in your head.

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  • For decades, researchers have tried in vain to answer the question: What causes schizophrenia?
  • At the same time, we've developed a growing understanding of how intimately linked the bacteria in our gut and our brains are.
  • New research shows that schizophrenics have vastly different microbiomes, potentially uncovering a cause of — and maybe a future cure to — schizophrenia.
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Surprising Science

IBM says to expect 5 big changes in the next 5 years

Food is about to change.

(Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock/Big Think)
  • IBM's 2019 5 in 5 predicts major changes on the horizon.
  • Food chain technology, from farmers' financing to desktop pathogen sensors, is about to explode.
  • IBM and others have big ideas about reducing famine and food-borne illness.
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Technology & Innovation

How antibiotics used in factory farming destroy our microbiomes

Good bacteria are our friends. We need to protect them.

  • More and more research nowadays links good gut flora to several health benefits, such as the inhibition of Alzheimer's to a fast metabolism.
  • Since we're over prescribed antibiotics, and because much of the meat we consume comes from animals that were fed antibiotics, we are destroying much of the good bacteria, and often at the risk — because of our diets — of replenishing them.
  • A well-rounded diet that's light in animal protein, high in macronutrients, and supplemented with a good intake of prebiotics can ensure we're keeping probiotics flourishing.
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