June 9, 2017

Weekend reads: The fake science that saved Victorian Londoners

Daily Briefing

Ben Palmer's reads

Sourdough vs. white bread–which is better? While sourdough bread, which has a lower glycemic index than white bread, has traditionally been thought to be the better option for anyone watching his or her blood glucose levels, new research suggests the healthiest option might vary from person to person. For the study, researchers asked volunteers to eat white or sourdough bread for week-long stints while undergoing a series of blood tests. "To our great shock and surprise," said Eran Segal, one of the researchers, "we found no significant differences between the two breads on any of the parameters that we collected." In fact, while some people's blood sugar levels spiked more substantially after eating white bread than sourdough, others' blood sugar levels did the opposite. "We're realizing that our nutrition needs to be personalized," said Segal.

Victorian London: When fake science saved lives. Thanks to a misguided belief that bad smells posed a health risk, Victorians dedicated substantial resources to cleaning up the sewage-filled streets and yards in England—an initiative credited with sparking the very real—and medically beneficial—field of "sanitary science." According to Gizmodo's Starre Vartan, 19th-century Englanders believed that "miasma"—essentially, a foul smell—could cause disease. And at the time, that smell was everywhere, Vartan writes: Men frequently urinated in the streets; families would pile their garbage in side streets; bodies were poorly buried in graveyards; and backyards more often than not were full of human excrement, particularly among low-income families who could not afford to have it cleaned up. Worried about the mythical miasma, public officials in London did everything they could to clean the streets, through sewer systems, cemeteries, public restrooms, washhouses, and they piped in water rather than dug wells. Despite doing it for the wrong reasons, this lead to a decrease in disease throughout the city—and to this day, Victorians are credited as the inventors of sanitary science.

Rachel Schulze's reads

I thought the yoga pose was downward "dog." A growing number of yoga studios are drawing a new kind of classmate: cats. Amy Apgar, one of two yoga instructors at Meow Parlour, a cat shelter and cafe in Lower Manhattan, said that "yoga is all about being in the moment," and cats are in the moment all the time." According to the New York Times' Jennifer Kingson, some yoga classes are bringing in other animals—such as dogs, rabbits, and even goats—though cat yoga "has gained a small but cultish following."

Want a free burrito? Nurses can receive one free entrée at Chipotle on June 14 with purchase of another meal of greater or equal price. The promotion is open to all nurses, including RNs, NPs, CRNAs, CNS's, LVNs, CNAs, and local equivalents, according to Chipotle. To take advantage of the offer, nurses will need to present professional ID.  

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