bite my words

Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

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Follow Friday: @americangut


I’m just finishing up a short course on the human microbiome on coursera. While we’re only just beginning to scrape the surface of our understanding of how microbes affect our health it’s a fascinating subject. Did you know that bacteria that are beneficial in your gut may be harmful if they’re found in another part of your body? Obviously your diet can transform your gut microbiome but what effect does it have on your health? It seems that exercise also affects the composition of your gut microbiome. In turn, your microbiome may impact your hormones and neurotransmitters.

You can get in on the ground floor of human microbiome research by supporting the American Gut Project. By pledging your support you can get a kit to send them samples of your microbes. In turn, you’ll receive an analysis of your microbes and see how they compare to others in the study. Despite the name, citizens of countries other than American are welcomed to participate as this can help to provide a larger picture of the human microbiome. The analysis is not intended to diagnose any medical conditions, it simply shows you the prevalence and variety of microbes in your gut at a given moment in time (and other areas of your body depending how much you pledge). However, you’re contributing to some really exciting research that will hopefully lead to greater insight into what your microbiome may mean for your health and well being.

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Follow Friday: The great tomato refrigeration debate

Image by Skånska Matupplevelser used under a Creative Commons licence from Flickr.

Image by Skånska Matupplevelser used under a Creative Commons licence from Flickr.

This blog post on Serious Eats was all over the internets a few weeks ago. According to the author’s self-proclaimed unscientific post, refrigerated tomatoes are perfectly palatable. In fact, the refrigerated tomatoes were actually found to be preferable to unrefrigerated tomatoes by the tasters.

In this “study” tomatoes were either refrigerated overnight, or left at room temperature, and then brought back to room temperature before tasting.

When i read the post, I couldn’t help but wonder if the results would have been any different if the tomatoes had been refrigerated for a longer period of time. After all, the rationale for not refrigerating tomatoes is that refrigeration may affect both the flavour and texture of tomatoes. Surely this would take more than one night to occur, and if you’re going to eat your tomatoes the following day, what’s the sense in refrigerating anyway? The only reason to refrigerate is to prolong the life span of produce. One night is not likely to be long enough to cause the complete degradation of your tomatoes.

The other thing is, the refrigerated tomatoes were brought back up to room temperature before consumption. Quite likely, the results would not have been the same if the tomatoes had been served cold.

Conclusion? Refrigerating tomatoes may extend their life span but it may also negatively affect them in some other way depending on how long you refrigerate them and if you take the time to bring them back to room temperature before you eat them.