Saturday, October 30, 2010

In What Organs Are Enzymes Found That Break Down Food?

This title was requested and the article was rejected. Boo.

The digestive system is one of seven bodily systems requiring complex pathways and hormonal signaling.

The digestive system is one of the seven bodily systems and is a beautifully orchestrated, complex collaboration of organs producing appropriate enzymes in response to a stimulus, eating! Digestive enzymes are produced throughout the body and have the ultimate purpose of making glucose available for every cellular process in the body.


The process of digestion is catabolic. You are probably familiar with anabolic steroids, which aid in the process of building muscle. Catabolism is the opposite process, a breaking down of complex food structures into smaller, usable molecules, such as glucose. You may remember from high school science class that sugars usually end in the suffix, –ose, e.g. lactose. The enzyme, usually ending in –ase, is associated with catabolizing the nutrient. In the case of lactose, lactase catabolizes lactose into glucose and galactose, making a larger molecule into two, simpler and smaller molecules.

Digestion is initiated in the mouth, which produces amylase.

The semi-permeable mucous membrane in the mouth makes saliva, which contains amylase, the first enzyme required to digest food. The semi-permeability of mucous membranes allows for secretion of amylase and absorption of some substances, glucose included, in the mouth. A science experiment you can try at home: put a saltine cracker in your mouth. Do not chew it; simply begin to let it dissolve. At first, the cracker tastes salty, but soon seems to melt into smaller particles. Because of amylase in your mouth, after a few seconds, the cracker now tastes sweet.

Mechanical Digestion in the Stomach

The stomach produces the enzyme, pepsin, and signals the gall bladder and pancreas for bile and insulin, respectively.

The enzyme produced by the stomach is pepsin, which begins to catabolize proteins, e.g. meat. Signaled by the stomach being filled with food, the gall bladder produces bile, which is secreted into the stomach. Thirdly, the pancreas is signaled by the stomach to produce insulin, a complex molecule composed of several enzymes. Insulin is employed in every cellular process of the body to bring glucose into the cell. Insulin is also absorbed into muscle, liver, and brain tissue for the utilization of glucose. While the stomach is often regarded as where digestion occurs, the primary function of the stomach is to mechanically digest food by using the muscles and digestive acids to begin to ready food to pass into the small intestine.

Where the Real Work is Done

The small intestine is the primary organ of nutrient absorption and contains, lactase, disaccharides, and several peptidase enzymes. Insulin and bile used in the stomach also pass into the small intestine. Most of the nutritional value of food, the carbohydrate, fat, and protein components, as well as vitamins and minerals are absorbed into the bloodstream by the small intestine. The remaining fluid and waste products pass into the large intestine, and needed water is absorbed there. Intestine trivia for you: From the beginning of the small intestine from the pyloric valve at the emptying end the stomach to the end of the large intestine is about 13 feet in an adult. If you would like to know more of the gory details about the cellular processes involved in constructing the enzymes, hormonal regulation, and interactions of feedback and feedforward mechanisms between bodily systems, Dee Silverthorn, Ph.D. is a prominent human physiologist and has written several, excellent and thorough textbooks.

From the Top to the Bottom

This ordered list sums digestive organs and their enzymes:
Gall Bladder-bile
Small Intestine-lactase, disaccharides, peptidases

  • Sugar and Enzymes
  • Digestive Organs
  • Digestive Enzymes
  • Glucose and Insulin
  • Cellular Processes

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nutritional Snacks for ADHD Children (Rejected Article)

Nutritional Snacks for ADHD Children

Credit: Dimitri Vervitsiotis/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Keeping your child's energy level constant facilitates learning.

While behavioral and pharmaceutical therapy may be at the center of your child’s Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder treatment, providing nutritious snacks may also be beneficial. According to the National Institute on Mental Health, eating large amounts of sugar does not cause ADHD, but an appropriate diet should focus on foods and snacks with a low glycemic index, foods that do not results in a dramatic rise and fall in blood glucose.

Foods with Low Glycemic Indeces

Children with ADHD lack the ability to focus, which may result from a lack of stimulation. Low glycemic index foods, particularly for school and as after-school snacks, prevent the spike in blood glucose that would promote hyperactivity, and the following drop in blood glucose, making attention wane. Foods low in glycemic index are usually high in fiber, and/or also contain protein or fat. For example, white bread has a higher glycemic index than does whole grain bread. The fiber and protein from the whole grains slow the rate at which the stomach empties into the small intestine and therefore slows the increase in blood glucose following the meal or snack. The following are examples of low-glycemic index foods: all legumes, all leafy greens, all dried beans, most fruits (dried fruits are higher in glycemic index), whole grain breads, pasta, brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes (twice baked with a little butter and cinnamon are a special treat, ice cream, and nuts.

Credit: Peanut Butter01 image by Platinum Pictures from

Adding protein to carbohydrate lowers the glycemic index of the carbohydrate. A traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich can be much healthier with a few changes. Use whole grain bread, jelly or jam with no added sugar, just pureed fruit, and natural peanut butter with no sugar added for the lowest glycemic index sandwich.

Add Fat

Credit: cheese image by carol lynch from
Cheese contains protein and fat, both lowering the glycemic index.

Adding fat, preferably mono- or poly-unsaturated fat lowers the glycemic index. Regular or reduced calorie cheese on top of the legumes and beans or in addition to the fruit make the fruits and vegetables more filling and more appealing. For example, black beans with brown rice, cheese, tomatoes, and avocado, is a very filling and tasty snack. Homemade pizza on whole wheat crust with no sugar added pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pineapple, lean meat, and vegetables is also filling, tasty, and has a low glycemic index.

Eat Whole Foods

Credit: abstract, fresh beet . food ,vegetable image by L. Shat from

Although they are high in convenience, most processed foods tend to be higher in glycemic index the further they differ from the form in which they are grown. For example, apple juice is much higher in glycemic index than is an apple. Chips and crackers are higher in glycemic index than are brown rice and whole grain bread. The American Dietetic Association has a website with tasty, low glycemic index recipes ( The American Diabetes Association has useful information about glycemic index and creative ideas for alternatives to traditional foods. A desirable diet for a diabetic does not differ much from a desirable diet for someone with ADHD.

Explaining Performance Foods

Credit: mother and daughter conversation image by Allen Penton from

Sometimes children understand more than we give them credit for. If you are making a radical change in the snacks you prepare, tell your child why. He/she is already aware that there is an attention problem, and is likely frustrated. Explain in an age-appropriate manner that low glycemic index foods keep his/her blood sugar more constant, are not a punishment, but a performance enhancement, and are designed to make him/her the best kid he/she can be.

  • Low Glycemic Index
  • Whole Grain Carbohydrate
  • Performance Foods
  • Brain Food
  • Blood Glucose Regulation
  • ADHD Diet
This title was solicited by but didn't meet the ephemeral and confounding editorial requirements from It's exasperating to write for them, but if they accept it, it pays decently for someone who is under-employed...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar walking offstage

Bill O'Reilly on The View
Bill O'Reilly said, "Muslims killed us on 9/11," among other incendiary and misleading statements in the conversation. When corrected, that it was not people practicing Islam, but terrorists who misappropriated Islam, who committed a horrific crime against humanity, he would not concede. I think it was absolutely appropriate for Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar to walk off stage. Barbara Walters said something along the lines of, 'if you invite someone into your home and they offend you, you don't walk away.' I think, instead, you would politely ask the person to leave.
I suppose having BO'R as a guest on the View is simply a way to demonstrate some "fairness" in airing differing views or more likely an easy way to create drama, which creates viewership on national television. I think if I were JB or WG, I would plan to be off the day BO'R was going to be a guest. He so completely out of touch with reality, while being a master at antagonizing and incendiary statements, I would have a hard time engaging in a conversation with him. I could, however, have a conversation with someone who was ignorant and bigoted, but open to suggestion regarding Islam and Islamism.
It's always a challenge to converse with someone on an emotional topic with whom you disagree. But, as Barbara Walters said, it should be, and must be done. I do not think BO'R is the person with whom any rational person could begin that dialogue.

Juan Williams fired from NPR

Juan Williams fired from NPR
I don't think Juan Williams was asserting that his fear of people dressed in Muslim garb on airplanes was reasonable or founded in reality or something he was proud of. I think he was admitting his own ignorance regarding Muslims. JW knows that Muslims, categorically, are not terrorists. He knows that the misappropriation of Islam by a few Islamists should not reflect on the majority of Muslims. However, because of imagery often reinforced by news media, he had this irrational fear.
I think his fear is similar to being afraid of someone who looks like a "thug." Some thugs are black. Some are white. Some are Latino. I think their common thread is some visual indication of poverty and/or criminal behavior. I think white people might tend to be less fearful of another white person who looked thuggy, and similarly for black people. Whereas interracial interactions between thug and pedestrian would be more fearful. I don't think any white person is proud that he/she afraid of someone from another race simply based on the way he/she looks/is dressed. However, to say that there are never any visual commonalities among criminals is ignoring reality. I don't know how the 9/11 hijackers were dressed. They may not even have been wearing "Muslim garb" the day they committed a horrific crime against humanity that has nothing to do with the religion of Islam. Nonetheless, middle America, of which I am a member, has little contact with Muslims and remains largely ignorant about the religion as a whole. I'm sure Juan Williams, considering his expertise on the Civil Rights movement in this country in the 1960's, realizes ignorance and bigotry are congruous. He does not wish to be bigoted. Admitting that you have an ignorant, irrational thought does not make you bigoted, it makes you human.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Go, Rangers!

Not much of a baseball fan, but I am rooting for the Rangers. I think I don't like the Yankees in the same way some folks don't like the Longhorns. But it's also just neat to see the Rangers having a good team, especially under Nolan Ryan.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Things to say/not to say to a pregnant lady

Not to say:
You look bigger than last week. (My thought: You look uglier than last week).
How ARE you? (Great, how ARE you?)
Are you glad it's a [boy or girl]? (Nope, sex change, right out of the chute).
How are you FEELING? (Great, how are you FEELING? I feel pregnant. Duh!)
Are you/How long are you going to nurse? (Until the child can ask for it and unbutton my shirt).
How much l0nger are you going to work? (I'm thinking I'll stop, now!)
You're drinking/eating [that]?! (Did you want a bite?)
Is your husband excited? (No, he's upset the baby is the milkman's child).

To say:
You look radiant/beautiful/healthy. (My thought: thank you. I feel fat, but I am glad my skin isn't pimply).
Your boobs look awesome. (I know, right!)
Hi. (Hi!)
Congratulations! (Thank you!)