Enjoy your food! Chemicals Are Everything: Chemical-Free Goods Do Not Exist

Hello Reader,

Just a friendly preface to this short ten-point blog post. I am a scientist, or I’m a scientist in training I should say.  I’m currently completing my PhD at Monash University in Parkville. In other words I already have an undergraduate qualification in science (4 years of work), and I did quite well at it… So I know my stuff.  I’ve tried to communicate some of this stuff here for you in simple language… partly to have a whinge, and partly because I’m worried for you, on your behalf. Genuinely.

I am worried because there are a lot of (flagrant) lies being presented as truth on the internet, and without the proper academic background, you’re simply left to trust the ‘experts’ despite all the anti-vaxx, chemical-free, organic penis-heads* preaching contrary views to the medical profession. For the mothers out there, trusting an emotionless doctor over the emotionally skewed arguments everywhere on the internet can be worrying…

So, I’ve decided to actually stop secretly complaining about this stuff and write something about it. I’ve compiled a list of ten points from the pseudoscience (meaning: fake science) gallery to help out with this stuff…

Please note I don’t mean to sound condescending or to come across as if I’m attacking YOU instead of your views. YOU are a good person. A cherished gift to humankind. And an intelligent soul capable of reason and greatness. However that doesn’t mean that YOUR OPINIONS can’t be wrong.  There is a difference between yourself and what you think, and I should probably make clear that it is the latter I am attacking, not the former.  You’re cool.  I like YOU.  And I hope you appreciate my attempt to start to help you out with a few things… there are some views out there that can actually be quite dangerous, even if they’re only just a little embarrassing to espouse most of the time.

First off… chemical names in science… We should probably start by saying that everything is a bunch of chemicals. The air we breathe consists of chemicals, the computer (or phone) you’re reading this from is chemicals… More importantly, chemistry uses a language to name all of these chemicals, which makes a lot of sense if you get the language, but the lack of knowledge can make it a little intimidating if you don’t… My first point…

  1. Just because a chemical sounds scary doesn’t actually make it dangerous.

A while ago (I think it was in the 90s) this prank was circulating around the States of America like wild-fire. People were actually falling for it! Senators across the country were moving to have this banned based on advice from ‘natural health’ groups… And yet…

People who got up to year 8 science (or probably even year 5) would know that the chemical formula for water is H2O. This means, two hydrogens and one water. People who didn’t go into higher science probably wouldn’t have learned that just as the symbol ‘7’ can be written as ‘seven’, the symbol for water, ‘ H2O’ can be written as ‘Dihydrogen Monoxide’… Meaning, two (di) hydrogens, and one (mono) oxygen are in this compound.  So,  Dihydrogen monoxide (DMHO) is just water.  And the brilliant thing about the prank above, and other pieces of misinformation like it, is that everything the prank says about DMHO is literally true, but is presented in such a way as to scare us and gear us toward some hidden agenda.

Case in point, if some prankster alternative quack is trying to sell you ‘mercury free’ water for $100 a litre… don’t let your judgement be based on the initial fear of hearing a chemical name you don’t understand. Do the smart thing. Google the sh*t out of that chemical. Understand that concentrations affect toxicity and that it doesn’t matter if a negligible amount of Hg is in water.  See that I just used a symbol (Hg)…  If you don’t understand it, Google is your friend… Do some independent research… Then decide whether what people say makes sense to you.

I once got my high school chemistry teacher to sign a form aiming to ban DHMO from the school… when she realised her mistake she rushed off to her office to white out her signature on the petition!

One common thing people will do on the internet, especially when they want to believe something but don’t understand the background of it, is present half the scientific story in such a way that it backs up their world view, but is not representative of reality… Don’t fall for it! You’re smarter than that and I have the best faith in humanity… If you see a post online imploring you not to eat table salt, because it’s super-toxic-bad-for-you, then treat it just like these flyers you’ve seen here about water. Don’t believe it til you’ve Googled it to hell and back and actually understand the background behind what they’re saying.

  1. Low carbs” only means anything when there actually are “low carbs”.

Okay so this is actually a little scary…

TL;DR – if you look at this picture, they’re redefining what a carbohydrate is just because they want to use their made up definition to say their product is ‘low carb’… If you used the actual definition of a carbohydrate, there are actually about 18g of sugar in here.

This is frustrating for me because it destroys consumer trust in a product and adds fire to the allegations of many that corporations are putting chemicals into our foods and lying about it.

Also, imagine if some diabetic saw this and thought ‘Only 2g of carbs! I should be sweet…’

And then had to go to hospital that night because they thought they could eat ten of these and be safe…

Or imagine a parent of a diabetic child! Imagine if that happened to her! How would she feel then…?

So yes… there is a lot of pseudo-science in marketing… people will blatantly put stuff on their products that sounds scientific to mislead the consumer into buying their product… And if you’re someone who feels like this is WRONG and needs to change… then you need to stop buying products that use fake-science.

And if acknowledging something as ‘fake-science’ or ‘pseudo-science’ clashes with your belief system, then your beliefs need to change so that you stop getting manipulated with lies coming from businesses who don’t care how they sell their product, as long as they do…

Just trying to help… Which is why I’ve brought up my next point…!

  1. Natural” is not always better, “Organic” anything is just false advertising and “Chemical Free” doesn’t actually mean anything.

 Sodium Chloride Organic

 

 

There is a trend in marketing to attribute the word ‘natural’ to products… and the word natural is meant to imply a minimal amount of processing by man…

There is also this fallacy flying around that ‘natural’ things are better for you… Which is actually rarely true if you think about it. You know what else comes from nature? Bears. And poison ivy. And cyanide. And chemicals. Because everything is a chemical right? Oh and fish that swim up your dick. They’re in nature too. And fucking piranhas. They’ll eat you ALIVE.

Case in point, nature isn’t this warm fuzzy thing that wants to hug and nurture you always… People attribute a lot of positive emotion to nature, which is all well and good when hiking and enjoying a view, but not exactly relevant with everything to do with nature… nature can be terrifying… There is a reason we all tend to avoid living in mud-huts and caves…

And you know what else is scary? The fact that people buy into the whole marketing lie that ‘natural is good’. All the nasty chemicals that can kill you, every single one of them, came from NATURE, before people started finding ways to make these same chemicals themselves… Always remember that… Natural is not always better, only sometimes… Think about it. Is snake venom good for you just because it’s natural?

On another note, whenever the word chemical is used on food packaging, it isn’t meant to mean ‘nasty substance that will hurt you’. That’s another example of marketing inventing their own definitions for words…

The word ‘chemical’ is singular for the word ‘matter’ which means ‘anything that has mass and occupies space’. How many things can you think of that have mass and occupy space? LITERALLY-FUCKING-EVERYTHING. Except some really esoteric sub-atomic particles… So the next time you see the word ‘Chemical Free’ on a product… Don’t buy it… Please just remember reading the comic strip alongside and have a chuckle… Because what they’re saying makes no sense…

Also, the word ‘organic’ refers to chemicals that comprise carbon. So basically anything that uses the marketing label ‘organic’ isn’t actually saying ‘this is made without nasty chemicals that will hurt you’. The word actually means that the food comes from another living organism of some kind… And no, you can’t have ‘organic sodium chloride’ or ‘organic pre-workout’…

Basically this whole marketing gimmick relies on the idea that the consumer is stupid and will buy any product, as long as corporations tell you that all chemicals are bad, when you know that all chemicals are not bad for you…

Food in Australia is tightly regulated by the FDA… If there were chemicals in any of the foods on the market that could hurt you… those foods would simply not be on the market… Don’t let corporations lie and manipulate you out of your money… Stand up!

 

Three Facts About Chemicals

  1. GMOs are not bad for you… stop advocating for the labeling of normal fruit and vegetables.

Scientific Method

Stay with me for a second… While information generated through one person alone can be fallible, information generated through the scientific method is generally always close to true.  And if not, then the method self-corrects when shown to be wrong…

Wouldn’t it be a beautiful world if someone who believed something, when shown the evidence that contradicted their beliefs, went, “You know what? I’m probably wrong.  I’ll change what I think is true now.”

Well you know what…  science does just that!  And here’s the method.  Anyone can follow it.

Following this method is literally what led to the creation of modern medicine, the internet, cars, machines used for industrial processes, aeroplanes (as if a big hunk of metal could fly without science!), and many more things that have saved lives.  Because the scientific method works!  And the best thing is, if an idea is wrong, then an experimental result will eventually prove that idea to be wrong…  And the sensible thing to do is to follow the evidence…

Simple experiments we can do for ourselves include those which test gravity. If you throw a glass at the ground, then 100% of the time, the glass will smash, and from this you can realise that, okay, maybe you shouldn’t jump off a bridge, because wishful thinking and faith won’t make you fly.

In the same way, just thinking that GMOs are unsafe is not enough. To think this and be considered not-crazy at the same time, the evidence has to pan out.  And it doesn’t.  GMOs have unanimously been shown to not be harmful in literally every scientific investigation in the last ten years. Read for yourself below:

 

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/07388551.2013.823595

And as someone with a university qualification in science, I can tell you right away that it makes no sense at all that GMOs would be toxic. Modified DNA in GMOs is treated by the body in exactly the same as ‘normal’ DNA in wild-type products. In other words, both modified and wild-type DNA are broken down into (the same) non-functional, digestible components before going into your blood or cells.  It makes no sense that GMOs would hurt you…

I think it comes down to the idea that people think GMOs are unnatural… but they ingore the fact that the genetic modification that is done in a lab assisted by humans is exactly the same as a more random genetic modifcation that can happen with plants anyway!  Horizontal gene transfer (done by nature) is exactly the same process as genetic modification (done in a lab).   It’s just that people are beginning to genetically modify crops in ways that benefit farmers and produce higher yields…

This is a fact… if you’re refusing to accept it and want to remain thinking whatever you feel like… then please refer to this article:

http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/scientists-earth-endangered-by-new-strain-of-fact-resistant-humans

Thinking whatever you feel like because it’s convenient to you is the reason the Earth is suffering from human-induced climate change (separate topic, but yes there is an abundance of scientific evidence for that too…!)

Change in a positive direction…

Remaining stagnant and believing out-dated, falsified things breeds reptiles of the mind… Dinosaurs went extinct because they could not adapt… We’re more than reptiles and it’s time to prove it…

TruthRequiresChange

  1. Gluten is just wheat protein… if you’re not gluten intolerant then you don’t have to stop eating it.

Seriously if you think a protein is bad for all people just because some people are allergic to that specific sequence of amino acids… Then you probably need to look up what causes allergies and what a protein is… then just Google search the sequence for gluten… the truth is never far away.

 

6. “Isotonic” sports drinks are not necessary.

Isotonic” by definition means, having the same particle concentration as the blood… Your kidneys and lungs both monitor physiological pH, so that means that your H+ and OH- ions in your blood are both being kept in check by your kidneys and lungs! You don’t need to do anything… Likewise, your kidneys and cellular processes help you out internally by monitoring the concentration of every other mineral that you consume. You do not need to drink or eat substances that have the exact same concentration as your blood… Your own body takes control of that stuff! If there’s anything in here you didn’t understand, feel free to run a simple Google search to look for and understand the information yourself!

Don’t let corporations treat you like an idiot. Buy an alternative, cheaper brand and send them a message…

 

7.  You cannot physically alkalise your blood—so stop pretending an ‘alkaline’ diet is evidence based.

 

 

Physiological Ph for dummies

Pretty self explanatory. Your internal, automatic physiological processes monitor your blood pH for you (around 7.40). They will keep your blood at this pH. Likewise, it will keep your gut at pH 2, which is much more acidic. You cannot alkalise your blood. Your kidneys will eliminate excess acid. Your lungs will also play a role in maintaining blood pH. Cellular active transport will establish different pH values in different parts of the body, as needed. This will all happen regardless of what you eat. So don’t bother with alkaline diets – they are not based on evidence or anything that remotely resembles reality… Free yourselves from nonsense…!

 

  1. Coke zero is bad for you, because, “chemicals”.

A lot of people would have seen this picture:

Coke minutes in blood

Or even this one:

Diet Coke

 

The problem with it, is that you can more or less make any picture like this for anything. Remember the Dihydrogen Monoxide prank? Someone used some scientific mumbo jumbo on people, relied on the fact that they probably weren’t going to understand it, relied on telling half-the-story to position people towards a personal agenda, and got politicians rallying to ban water in several American states… Well here’s a similar picture to those above… except this time, the substance being attacked is water…

 

Water_minutes in blood

 

There is a tendency when people don’t understand something, to react to this unknown presented to them with fear… But we are better than that… Next time you see something like this… I challenge you… Stop and think… Breathe calmly. Does this make sense? Yes? No? Why or why not? If it makes sense because you lack information, then Google is your friend. If you think it makes sense because it’s quoting words that sound professional and scientific to make its point, then you are likely to be mislead and taken advantage of by advertising gimmicks…

There is a tendency to fall for the whole naturalistic fallacy… The idea that what’s natural is what’s best, even though that’s not the case always. For people still believing this, I present to you… Kale smoothies!

 

Kale minutes in blood

 

There is also a trend in marketing to say that some kind of food is tocic (like regular table salt) so you should buy this alternative product instead (like himalayan rock salt…) Feel free to Google it. But don’t believe it… They’re lying to you. There’s even people claiming to be medical doctors (on the internet) when I really doubt whether they are, because they either don’t know their sh*t or they’re lying to you.

Here I’ve provided an article arguing the toxic effects of broccoli… in order to illustrate just how easy it is to mislead people with half the story! These people prey on your lack of knowledge, tell you a half truth backed with science that’s out of context, and then then fill in the gaps with lies… Enjoy…🙂

 

Broccoli is bad for you!  Like, really, really toxic bad for you…

 

  1. Vaccines are dangerous because I don’t understand what’s in them” – Translation: you are dangerous because you want to be ignorant of science for no reason.

This person nails it better than I ever could… Please enjoy reading this… I know I did…

anti-vaxxeranti-vaxxer2

 

Also, here are some graphs showing the incidence of disease before and after vaccines for those diseases were introduced… Feel free to browse. Vaccines are sold to you (cheaply I might add) because the world cares for you, not because big pharmaceutical companies are out for blood.

 

Effect of Introduction of Vaccines on Incidence of Viral Diseases.jpg

 

As you can see, in all cases above, when a vaccine against a disease was introduced to the market, the incidence of that disease declined, as did the mortality rate…

For more information on how vaccines cause autism, feel free to follow this link here:

How do vaccines cause autism…

  1. Every opinion is valid and I’m entitled to think whatever I want and be right! I am entitled to my opinion.”

     

    Translated… “I don’t have anything better to say and want to make you look like an asshole for denying me my right to believe in things like the Easter Bunny or Santa.”

    It’s the academic equivalent of a toddler waving their arms around screaming at someone when they don’t get their way.

    The truth is you can think whatever you want. You ARE entitled to an opinion. But if you want to be right… you are not entitled to your opinion. You are only entitled to what you can prove and argue for! If you have evidence or a coherent logical argument to present, feel free! The thing about science is, if you can prove someone else’s views to be wrong, they are forced to change their mind…

    For more information on why the ‘I‘m entitled to my opinion‘ argument is actually a ‘I don’t know what I’m talking about and don’t feel like justifying myself so I’ll try and make you look like a tool for no reason’ argument, feel free to read this article:

    http://www.houstonpress.com/arts/no-it-s-not-your-opinion-you-re-just-wrong-updated-7611752

    Also, if you feel you want to discredit any of the facts provided in this info-piece, feel free to use this as a template… it’s what most other people who’ve wanted to believe whatever they want despite being wrong have done…

 

Science-Denial-Mad-Libs


The Knee: Anatomy and Function Part 3 – Muscles

Here is a short and sweet list of all the muscles that produce movement of the knee joint. Of course their origin and insertion (WARNING: lots of fancy big words), specific function if necessary and easy-to-understand pictures of location are also included🙂

The knee is able to produce three different kinds of movements, these movements being flexion, extension and rotation. Flexion is pulling you leg towards your buttocks, extension is pushing your leg forward, assisting during kicking, and helps lock and unlock the knee joint which  is important for knee stability. If you ever wanted strong, bad-ass knees these are the primary muscles that need to be strengthened and conditioned for whatever physical activity you plan to impose on them.

Muscles that produce extension (all located on the anterior side of the body)

*Quadriceps: Consists of the 4 following muscles:

-Rectus femoris – The prime mover and also a flexor of the hip. Origin: Anterior-inferior iliac spine of ilum. Insertion: Top of patella and patellar ligament.

-Vastus lateralis: Origin: Lateral lip/side of linea aspera. Insertion: Lateral half of upper patella + Patella ligament + Anterior tibial tuberosity

-Vastus medialis: Medial side of the linea aspera + internal condyloid ridge. Insertion: Medial half of upper patella and patellar ligament

-Vastus intermedius (underneath rectus femoris): Origin: Two thirds of the upper anterior surface of femur. Insertion: Upper patella and patellar ligament

Muscle that produce flexion

*The hamstring group consists of 3 different muscles. The semitendinosus and semimembranosus is on the medial side, while the biceps femoris is on the lateral side. They can also assist hip extension.

-Semitendinosus: Origin: Ischial tuberosity. Insertion: Anterior medial tibial surface. Also does internal rotation of knee.

-Semimembranosus: Same origin and insertion as semitendinosus, but lies deeper. Also does internal rotation of the knee.

-Biceps femori – Crosses over medially to laterally on posterior side. Long head origin: Ischial Tuberosity. Short head origin: lower half of linea aspera. Insertion of both: Head of fibula. Also does external rotation of the knee.


*Pes anserinus – The collective name of the muscles:
Sartorius, gracilis and semitendinosus (mate, both Pes and Hammy group? This guy has a lot of friends). The group also for some not fully clear to me has been called the “Goose Foot”, but I am guessing it has something to with the anatomical look when they all inserts at the same place.

-Gracilis – Origin: Pubis crest. Insertion: Antertior medial surface of tibia.

-Sartorius – Origin: Anterior-superior spine of ilium. Insertion. Anterior medial surface of tibia (note that as many as 4 flexor inserts here)

*Popliteus – lies on the back of the knee. Origin: Lateral condyle of femur. Insertion: On proximal third of posterior tibia. Also does internal rotation.

*Gastrocnemius, the “calf” muscle – Origin: Posterior Surface of the medial and lateral femoral condyles. Insertion: The calcaneus (this is at the ankle) through the Achilles tendon.

Flexors that are not commonly included:

*Plantaris – Origin: Lateral supracondylar ridge of femur. Insertion: Calcaneus, medial and deep to gastrocnemius.

*Tensor fascia latae – the muscle itself does not fully cross the knee but it crosses the iliotibial band does can minorly act upon the knee (IT band can become really tight so important to stretch. The muscle is more related to hip function but it is a key to maintain strong knees so I decided to throw it in here.

Quick overview of the muscles which act in rotation, which consist of no new muscles that we have not yet discussed (yey!)

Internal/medial rotation:
Popliteus, Semiteninosus and Semimembranosus

Exertnal/lateral rotation
Biceps femoris and Sartorius

That is it for knee anatomy! Next up for knees is getting into prevention of injuries and strengthening. Finally something that about knees that is going to be an easy read ey?

Free Radicals, Antioxidants, and Oxidative Stress – Good or Evil?

 

Let’s face it.  All this hype and attention on the secrets of aging, what exactly is it and how does it affect everyday people like us?

FreeRadicalSuperHero

Put it simply, free radicals are highly reactive molecules produced as part of a normally functioning human being.  We use energy every day to think, eat, work, sleep and do what we do, and while forming and burning that energy our body also makes waste, with free radicals being one of them.  Left alone, free radicals can destroy cells very quickly by reacting with nearby molecules, causing cells to lose their function and die.  Thankfully our body has clever mechanisms to destroy them before they do the same to us.  Antioxidants are one of those mechanisms.

When we produce more free radicals than we can destroy, scientists call that “oxidative stress”.  Exercise, for example, drives the body into oxidative stress, as well as being overworked, tired, or sick.  It is popular belief that taking antioxidants can help us reduce oxidative stress.  So the theory goes: Oxidative stress causes aging because free radicals kill nearby cells prematurely.  Wait, did I hear you question, does that mean exercise is bad for you?

cell-process

That’s exactly what the scientists thought.  They did some more experiments and found that, in fact, free radicals are good for you!  The worms in the labs are able to survive and reproduce with better conditions if they were exposed to artificial free radicals than if they didn’t (this particular type of worm does not produce its own free radicals).  So now the scientists say, let the free radicals reign!

Still there are others critical of this conclusion.  Maybe the better lives that these worms lived was not directly from the exposure to free radicals, but as a result of their system adapting to being more efficient at removing them.  Those supporting this view think that it is more important to improve the free-radical-destroying mechanisms than it is to be under oxidative stress.

What does all this mean for us?  To be honest, nothing really.  Just keep exercising like you should and relax when needed.  Let science do the work.  For now, keep calm and read our posts!

 

– Freak

 

Sources:

Yee, C., Yang, W., Hekimi, S. (2014). The intrinsic apoptosis pathway mediates the pro-longevity response to mitochondrial ROS in c. elegans. Cell, 157(4), 897-909. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2014.02.055

Hancock, J.T. (2010). Cell Signalling, 3rd Ed. NY: Oxford University Press.

Liochev, S.I. (2013). Reactive oxygen species and the free radical theory of aging. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 60, 1-4.

Lobo, Patil, Phatak & Chandra (2010). Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Pharmacognition Review. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/

How Do We Breath? The Simple Science Behind Breathing

How do we breathe?

The process of breathing in and out 

Breathing in at rest is an active process (costs energy) – the diaphragm contracts (moving it downwards) and the external intercostal muscles help pull the ribs up and outwards. The cerebral cortex (this is some brain stuff for anti-nervous system people) facilitates this process. There is also accessory muscles (helpers) working, being the sternocleidomastoid (just think neck), scalenes group (neck) and pectoralis minor (chest) – these are way more active during heavy breathing.

Breathing out at rest is a almost entirely a passive process. This is due to muscles relaxing (for example the diaphragm, moving it upwards), elastic recoil of the lung alveoli (this is where gas exchange of oxygen, CO2 etc occurs between the lungs and the rest of the body) and stretched elastic tissues in the chest wall that pushes the air out.

Breathing in is basically like throwing a ball downtoward the ground, and it bouncing right back up again.You are controlling the throw, but you cannot control the fact that it wants to bounce up again (physics stuff).

During heavy breathing energy is used during both situations. During active expiration the internal intercostals (except interchondral part) will pull the ribs down and the abdominal muscles will help the diaphragm to be pushed superiorly (reducing the cavity volume and thereby force air out).

A little physics

During inspiration what we call the intrapulmonary pressure (pressure inside the lungs) is reduced by 1 compared t the standard atmospheric pressure at 760 mm Hg, this because of the increase in volume. During expiration the pressure is increased by 1 compared to the standard, because of the decrease of volume. This is explain by Boyle’s Law, which is C1*V1=C2*V2, but we will get more into all the physics stuff later and further explain the pressures inside the lung while doing that as well.

Fun Fact: It is also impossible to commit suicide through trying to stop breathing (please do not attempt this though) as when oxygen levels drops, the CNS will shut down and you will pass out, this is followed by it making you start breathing again automatically which is stimulated by the breathing centers – located in the brain stem.

– Bear

The Knee: Anatomy and Function Part 2 – Ligaments and Joint Capsule

Continuing where we left of in the last post! Hope the pictures are of some help for part 2, this is a tough one! WARNING: Big words ahead!

*Menisci – Fibrocartilaginous structures that has a crescent half moon shape. Their shape has also given them the alternative name of semilunar (halfmoon) cartilages. The functions of the menisci are mainly shock absorption (landing after a jump) and helps accomodate movement of the bones of the joint . You have both a medial and lateral meniscus that both attach at the central intercondylar region together with the ACL (on anterior side) and PCL (on posterior side).  The medial meniscus is attached medially to the tibial/medial collateral ligament and to the capsule of the joint of the knee,  while the lateral meniscus is attached to neither. This causes the lateral meniscus to become more mobile (and sadly more easy to tear).

*Transverse ligaments – Serves to connect the two menisci.

*Medial/tibial collateral ligament – proximal attachment of medial epicondyle of femur, distal attachment medially on tibia – more specifically a little bit above the tendonous insertion attachment points of the following muscles: Sartorius, gracilis and semitendinosus.

*Lateral/fibular collateral ligament – Proximal attachment point at lateral epicondyla of femur, distal attachment point on lateral head of fibula.

*Cruciate Ligaments – Fun fact: called cruciate because they cross over each other. The PCL crosses over the ACL from the medial wall of the intercondylar fossa (of the femur) to attach on the posterior side of the knee and the ACL crosses under the PCL from the lateral wall of the femurs intercondylar fossa to attach more on the anterior side of the knee (both attaches at the intercondylar region of the tibia)

*ACL – Prevents tibia from sliding forward.

*PCL – Prevents tibia from sliding backwards.

*Patella ligament – continuous of the femoris/quadriceps tendon which attaches at the proximal side of the patella, and becomes the tibial tuberosity at its distal side (point that sticks out of the upper anterior side of the tibia). Just behind and a little distal to the ligament we also have a small piece of fat called the infrapatellar fat pad which separates the ligament and the synovial membrane of the joint capsule.

Now that is mostly it for the ligaments and all that stuff, now onto the joint capsule which is a bit more tricky to explain. The joint surfaces (or articulate surfaces to just to make it a bit more fancy) is covered by hyaline cartilage.

*Joint capsule of the knee fibrous membrane medial and anterior support – Fibrous joint capsule of the knee. The fibrous membrane is reinforced by ligaments, namely the MCL (medially), medial meniscus (one of two reasons why it is not very mobile) and the patella ligament (anteriorly) where it blends with the quadriceps muscle fibers of the vastus medialis and vastus lateralis at the margins of the patella. This strengthens the capsule anteriorly.

*Joint capsule of the knee fibrous membrane lateral support – On the lateral side of the knee the fibrous membrane is not reinforced by its respective collateral ligament as it is separated from the joint capsule by the fibular bursa which is located underneath the LCL. However, the capsule is supported laterally by the iliotibial tract which is located more medially towards the patellar ligament and runs downward alongside it.

*Joint capsule of the knee fibrous membrane posterior support – Posteriorly the fibrous capsule is supported by the oblique popliteal ligament, which is an extension from the semimembranosus tendon which attaches onto the tibia.

*Joint capsule synovial membrane – The synovial membrane lines the fibrous membrane which attaches to the margins of the articulate surfaces and the outer aspects of the menisci (the membrane does not enclose the cruciate membrane as they are not actually contained within the articular cavity.

*Synovial membrane bursas – The synovial membrane folds in various places to form bursa (gaps). These are the following: Suprapatella bursa (above patellar ligament behind patellar/quadriceps femoral tendon), Subpopliteal recess (lies between lateral meniscus and popliteus tendon), infrapatellar fat pad (see patellar ligament), deep and superficial infrapatella bursa (inside and outside of the patellar tendon respectivelly) prepatella bursa (subcutaneous at patella, which just means under the skin).

Next up is muscles, saved the best for last! Part 3 here we come!

The Knee: Anatomy and Function Part 1 – Knee Joint Fundamentals

Knees are one the more troublesome joints of the body especially for athletes or elderly whose knee has been subject to a lot of wear and tear. Having personally torn an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and meniscus, the knee is probably my least favorite joint and I catch myself saying ****ing knees a bit too much… However this has also motivated me to learn a lot more about how the knees work, and the reason why this is the first of many musculoskeletal system anatomy articles.

The knee is classified as a hinge joint which are formed between two or more bones and is limited to movement along one axis (flexion or extension). Fun fact: The knee is the largest and most complex synovial joint of the body (hinge is a common synovial joint class). However because of the complexity of the knee joint it may also be referred to as a “modified” hinge, bicondylar as well as biaxial joint. It might a good idea to check with your lecturer if you are at university.

The joint articulates between the femur and the tibia as well as the femur and patella. Flexion of the knee pulls the tibia posteriorly and extension pushes it anteriorly. Now this is where the complexity of the knee comes in, as during flexion the knee may rotate both laterally and medially, and during extension (standing position) the femur will rotate the knee medially to lock the knee into position (you can see this very well if you hyperextend your knee, but no over-hyperextension experiments please as that is painful). To unlock the knee the femur will rotate it laterally.

Now that the basics of the knee joint itself has been covered let us take a closer look at the landmarks of the knee and their functions:

*Femoral condyles at the articulate surfaces (posterior side of knee)- One medial, one lateral. The femoral condyles have an intercondylar fossa that separates them, which is home to the proximal attachment points of the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments (ACL and PCL)

*Epicondyles – upper portion of the femoral condyles. These are home to the proximal attachment of the lateral and medial collateral (NOTE: NOT CRUCIATE) ligaments (LCL and MCL). The MCL (medial) is of course on the medial condyle🙂 These bad boy ligaments are also known as fibular and tibial according which side they are on. The lateral collateral is for example on the same side as the fibula as the fibula is the most lateral of the fibula and tibia (yay, easypiecy).

*Tibial Plateu – Superior proximal surface of the tibia. Has a couple tibial condyles (medial and lateral) at the articulate surfaces. These condyles also has an intercondylar region between them which is where the cartilage of the menisci as well as the ACL and PCL.

*Intercondylar eminence – The point thing that sticks out of the superior surface of the tibia. The point thing also has two other pointy things, which are the lateral and medial intercondylar tubercle.

Continued in Part 2…

Nutrition for special populations: Children and Adolescence

What you see on TV or on the internet talking about what we are supposed to eat, how much of each blablablablablabla, is not always right, as it is mostly directed towards your average bloke down the street (if you live in a regular street of course. If you live in a mansion or luxury villa without neighbors, feel free to switch spots with me). For example the nutrient needs of an adult average bloke is different than that of a child and teenager/adolescent that is still growing, which is the topic of this post.

Defining children and adolescent

It is safe to say that the little troublemakers (children aged 0-12ish ) do not usually know a lot about what  they consume, but are experts on whether they like it or not. This means that it is also safe to say that parental influence is probably the key factor of what a kid eats, for example packing them full of lollies to make them shut the **** up. This influence of course diminishes with age but remains a key factor, as it is the parent that can choose what to stock the fridge with, as well as most of the time choose what a meal will contain.

Once adolescence (13-18/20ish) is reached the  individual starts developing a closer relationship to the food consumed (food literacy), and the connection between diet, exercise and body image starts to form. Hormones fluctuate, stuff just gets crazy.

The importance of developing food literacy

During the growing years as biological maturity is pursued, there is a higher chance of suffering bone fractures. Growth spurts weaken the bones as the bone density will not often have time to catch up. Nutrition can play a key role preventing this. Imagine a newborn kid, the skeleton only holds about 30g of calcium, and by the age of 20, it will hold about 1500 grams. Peak bone mass and density is not achieved until the end of puberty, this is why calcium is extremely important, especially during puberty as calcium plays a superduper major role in bone growth.

Managing energy imbalance issues in young folks is complex. Constant negative energy balance can result in the following: short stature, puberty and menstrual irregularities, and poor bone health. Did you know that the mechanically inefficient movement of children causes them to expend more energy doing it? So yes kids spend a higher percentage of their energy just walking than adults do. This is one of the reasons negative energy imbalance in some children occurs – as some may logically think children will need less food as they are not fully grown yet, but that is of course not true, as ATP is also used in the growth process.

Nutrient Requirements

Now there is not a lot of evidence on the timing recommendations of the different nutrients for young folks so this post will be limited to the RDIs, and a short paragraph for young elite athletes will be included at the end.

Protein (first, cause you know, protein)
The grams per bodyweight (note bodyweight of the kid, not the parent) of protein required for a youngster is actually higher than the average bloke.  Now these requirements are usually reached by just eating healthy, but here is a table for you anyways with RDIs (athletes would of course have a higher need).

Age 1-3 4-8 9-13 14-18
All 1.08g/kg 0.91g/kg
Boys 0.94g/kg 0.99g/kg
Girls 0.87g/kg 0.77g/kg

Carbohydrates
Your average young folk (yes I said young folk mate) will not be competing in events that will deplete muscle glycogen, and this is little evidence that adolescent requirements should differ from adults. It is simply recommended to be adjusted to daily energy demands. Only things that are to worry about is pretty much dental caries, so stay away from the acidic candy kids!

Fats
One interesting thing about fats is that young athletes tend to utilize fats as the major fuel source during exercise, but there are still no RDIs about how much they should consume. However it is likely that that enough is consumed through a normal diet and typically it would not differ that of an adult.

Fluids

Did you know children and adolescence have less effective thermoregulation and lower exercise tolerance? This is because developed sweat glands are not instantly given to you at birth, but you might have noticed them when they started firing during puberty. Two other reasons are the increased energy expenditure from motor movements as previously mentioned, and because higher surface area-to-body mass ratio they will tend to get hotter faster on warm days and lose heat faster on cold ones. So yes water is extremely important, always have water present and keep sipping (not excessive amount of course) across the day. Recent studies have actually shown that given matched fitness levels and hydration status, the capacity to deal with thermal loads and exercise tolerance in the heat are similar in children and adults (Instead of sweating for cooling, peripheral blood redistribution are relied upon to maintain thermal equilibrium). And in the case of the athlete, it is common knowledge that just a slight decrease in hydration will cause significant performance drops.

The key is to drink water before, during and immediately after. The guidelines (assuming that the exercise lasts about 30-70minutes) are: 150-200ml for children, 300-400ml for adolescent 45minutes before exercise. 75-100ml for children and 150-200ml for adolescent during. A liberal good amount as soon as possible after exercise for both.

Vitamins and Minerals

Now this is the most important part of the diet of young folks. There are high requirements for a good amount of specifically calcium, iron and zinc in these individuals diets. Here is why: Calcium – bone growth. Iron – mostly a problem in females (menses, loss of iron in blood), but training may also increase the loss of the mineral. Zinc – a deficiency of zinc may lead to  a delay of sexual maturity and slower bone growth.

Ergogenic aids (for athletes)
The thing about the use of sports supplements in young athletes is that it is mostly not tested and therefore simply not recommended. The athlete however may be vulnerable to the use of supplements because of: Performance pressure, pursuit of physical ideals or body image and impulsive behaviors caused by commercials and the availability of it (caffeinated energy drinks is a big one)

In the case of young elite athletes

Elite performance during a young age will not always coexist with optimal health, something that is more normal in some sports than others, as the athlete sometimes would wish to achieve a low bodyweight and compliment that with lean body mass. The want to achieve this often comes along with inadequate energy intake and building poor eating practices and habits. This often causes a delay in the maturation process. A good example of this is gymnasts and sports requiring a high level muscular endurance, which may end up having growth spurts after they have finished their career (however it unsure if their “if-not” height is reached) . An opposite example might a basketball player, as explosive short bursts and the constant striving for height may in fact support bone growth, but of course it also sets them at a higher risk for bone fractures.

– Bear

7 Study Tips for the Time-Poor Student

As exam times approach and everything else coming to fruition, whether you have kids to take care of, projects to finish, or holidays to plan, this is a busy time of the year and we especially don’t want to drop the ball on our study efforts. So here are some handy tips to get that extra boost you need!

#1 Do not spend too much time planning

For the OCDs and perfectionists out there, I know personally how difficult it is to make sure you cover ALL bases in a systematic manner, but at the end of the day, planning is not studying. You will not be assessed on the three timetables you created, the five lists that you made, or how you separated each notebook for a specific topic. Just get started somewhere, but DO time yourself and see whether you are going through the material fast enough to finish all topics. You may have to then adjust your speed or even make sacrifices. For example, histology is always the first thing I leave out, simply because it takes so much longer to get it right when I can score easier marks elsewhere.

#2 Exercise

It is not frontline science that, for normal people, exercise energises you. This however can slip to the bottom of the list when you’ve got a million things to do in two seconds. Don’t. Remember efficiency is the key and exercise drastically improves it. Do a couple of hill sprints, go to a familiar gym class, or play a social sport — just don’t go run a marathon or train for the Ninja Warrior show.

Can’t find time? See tip #7 on Breaks & Rewards.

#3 Get comfortable, but not too comfortable

We all know a comfy bed makes us go to sleep; it is easy to relax in an extremely comfortable environment and become complacent. As much as I enjoy learning, I want to get it done asap because, well, I am time-poor and I have other responsibilities. Cold has shown to be invigorating, so you want to be slightly cold but not too chilled that you can’t move your fingers. When you have an urge to go to the toilet, use it as motivation to get that section done quickly. I often study in a standing position as well, not only because it helps me stay alert but also creates a certain discomfort reminding me that I need a break (and therefore finish off the section quickly).

Regulating your emotions are also important, as different emotions has different effects on the width of your attention. Being slightly depressed narrows the attention, making you less easily distracted and therefore more likely to focus, which is good for rote learning and repetitions. Being happy widens your attention and thought patterns, helping you come up with new ways to organise materials or find out solutions to those difficult/advanced questions.

#4 Use all senses

Read it. Draw it. Listen to it. Talk to yourself about it. Talk to others about it. Talk around it. Watch a video of it. Make a video out of it. Draw in a notebook. Draw on a piece of butchers paper. Draw on the bathroom mirror. Paint it in a nightclub cubicle. Walk around the room and tell a story on it using sign language. Sing it. Create an act about it. Explain it to your dog. Explain it to a random stranger. Explain it to the telemarketer. Make sand art on it. Rearrange your food on a plate to resemble it. Lick it. Make crop circles on it (that’s a good one, they’ll never find out). Make a meme of it and share with your friends.

Doing things differently activates different parts of the brain, creating more pathways to the same memory and make it easier for retrieval.

#5 Link to something that’s interesting, disgusting or even offensive to you

Studies show that putting emotions into learning materials makes memory lasts much longer, because the adult brain generate new neurons — yes you heard right, new neurons — at the hippocampus, the emotion centre of the brain. This is why acronyms such as OOOTTAFVGVAH can be easily remembered forever as long as we are in our reproductive years. If you are struggling what is of interest for you, look at your fb likes, think of what you’d rather be doing instead of study, or the things you can talk at length about.

#6 Familiarise yourself with the material before going to study groups

You might have an awesome time with friends, but that doesn’t necessarily give you the marks you want/need. Study groups should be about revision and work best when you get a chance to teach and to learn. What you want to learn the majority of the time is HOW to memorise the material, not actually learn the material (that should mostly be done during the semester). For example, Sarah might have a better way of remembering where all the mesenteries are and what they connect to, so you could adopt similar methods in your study.

If you really don’t have a clue or are feeling overwhelmed, pick something you understand, and become really good at it. That way you will have a chance at teaching others HOW you got good at that one thing and build your confidence up for the rest of the topics. It is amazing how a bit of confidence goes a long way.

#7 Breaks & Rewards

Breaks should be about taking your mind and body away from the material, so that you can ‘make room’ for more. Apart from the usual methods (walking around, go to the loo, make & eat food), you can also try incorporating some exercises such as push ups, sit ups, a quick run, etc. Use exercises as rewards, or do something else you love and you’ll start to like studying.

Now go! And enjoy your holidays when it comes.

-Freak

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