Videos on Understanding the Digestive System

I found a few new video clips on YouTube, in 3-D that give you a good idea how the digestive system functions. These clips are updates to the prior post on The Digestive System from 2008.

The first on the Digestive System traces a bite of food from the mouth until it is eliminated. (Click on the link to go to the YouTube site, if the video doesn’t display below).

Digestive System

Other interactive online animation:

  • Digestive System from the National Geographic has an interactive way of looking at the digestive sytem. You can click to view certain parts of the system.
  • A normal, healthy digestive system this 2-dimensional one is from a constipation advice company in the U.K.
  • The Digestive Machine from Discovery Health. May appeal more to younger children, but it is kind of fun.

Food Inc. Takes a Look at Food in the U.S.

According to their official website:

In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA.

If possible this film may be replacing Super Size Me this semester as the thinking about nutrition film and I show my Nutrition Students.

You can find out more about the film at their website, Official Food Inc, Movie Site.

Not only is this film designed to get you to think, but it may get you to change some of your eating habits and eating choices in the process.

Getting a Gulp of Bacteria in that Soda Fountain Drink?

Restaurant Soda

Is Fountain Soda Safe?

A new study published in the January issue of the International Journal of Microbiology is giving people cause to be concerned about what else they may be getting in their soda fountain drinks.

Coliform bacteria, the bacteria used to determine the quality of foods and beverages, were detected in 48% of the beverages analyzed in a 2009 study.

The study, conducted by researchers at Hollins University and Virginia Western Community College, found that “soda fountain machines may harbor persistent communities of potentially pathogenic microorganisms.”

In addition, the concern is that these microorganisms in the soda  “may contribute to episodic gastric distress in the general population and could pose a more significant health risk to immunocompromised individuals.”

The Study

For this study ninety beverages of three types (sugar sodas, diet sodas and water) were obtained from 20 self-service and 10 personnel-dispensed soda fountains and evaluated according to with U.S. drinking water regulations.

After evaluating the soda samples they discovered:

  • More than 11% of the beverages analyzed contained Escherichia coli
  • Over 17% contained Chryseobacterium meningosepticum.
  • Other opportunistic pathogenic microorganisms included: Klebsiella, Staphylococcus, Stenotrophomonas, Candida, and Serratia.

Most of the identified bacteria showed resistance to one or more of the 11 antibiotics tested. This finding may be a significant health risk to those who are immunocompromised.

Additionally, their analyses revealed no difference between the beverage type or between the type of soda fountain dispenser (self-serve or personnel-dispensed) in the levels of bacteria contamination.

Ice samples taken (looking for possible water contamination of all of the beverages), did not demonstrate bacteria at a level that exceeds the U.S. drinking water standards.

Coca Cola Responds

The news report by includes a statement from the Coca-Cola Company. They are unaware of any illnesses related to its fountain-dispensed beverages, and that it “has been serving fountain beverages for more than 120 years.”

Bottom line?

Since both types of fountain drinks, self-serve or personnel-dispensed, could potentially have bacterial contamination until some additional guidelines are put into place to keep the public safe or additional studies prove fountain drinks are safe in different parts of the country, ditch the soda dispensed in fountain drinks and drink bottled or canned (remembering to recycle your bottles and cans). In restaurants, you may want to stick with the water, coffee or tea.


White A. Godard R. Belling C. Kasza V. Beach R. Beverages obtained from soda fountain machines in the U.S. contain microorganisms, including coliform bacteria.  International Journal of Food Microbiology. Volume 137, Issue 1, 31 January 2010, Pages 61-66.

Cox L. January 8, 2010. Soda Fountains Squirt Fecal Bacteria, Study Finds. ABC

Black R. January 8, 2010. Soda fountain machines harbor fecal bacteria, study finds. NY Daily News.

Image:  Scott Snyder. Enjoy a Coke. Royalty Free Use.

Movie Popcorn Gets Rotten Tomatoes and Two Thumbs Down from CSPI

Think you are getting a “healthy” popcorn snack when you visit the Movie theater? Think again.

A new study released by the Center for Science in the Public Interest is giving a big two thumbs down on Movie Popcorn and snacks. According to their findings:

A medium combo at Regal has 1,610 calories and 60 grams of saturated fat. That’s roughly the saturated fat of a stick of butter and the calories of two sticks of butter.

The medium combo is equivalent to eating three McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with 12 pats of butter. For many people, that combo has all of the calories that they need for an entire day.

In the Video Clip below, Dr. Jennifer Ashton of CBS News shows Maggie Rodriguez and Harry Smith just how much saturated fat movie popcorn and soda can have.

You can read more about the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s scary findings in the article, “‘Two Thumbs Down’ for Movie Theater Popcorn” on their website.

Popcorn, particularly air popped popcorn can be a healthy snack, just not when it is fixed the way the Movie theater’s currently do.

CSPI recommends no snack in their version of the article in their monthly newsletter. Dr. Jennifer Ashton is recommending dissociating watching movies and eating popcorn.

The last time we were at the movie I had to move away from the person eating popcorn. The smell of the butter turned my stomach and would have made for a very unpleasant movie experience.


November 2009. ‘Two Thumbs Down’ for Movie Theater Popcorn. Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Tips for Succeeding in an Online Course

Working on a Computer in the GrassSome new articles with Tips for Succeeding on any Online Course written for the Education & Career, Distance Education section of Suite 101:

These two articles should help you in being a successful online student, managing distance education courses, staying organized in distance education courses and managing weekly materials in online courses.

For specific tips on succeeding in Dr. Dyer’s Bio50 course, read the links below:


Dyer KA. 2008. Tips for Success in this Course. Nutrition & Wellness Edublog.

Dyer KA. 2008. Suggestions for Success in this Course.  Nutrition & Wellness Edublog.

Dyer KA. 2008. Tips for Online Success. Nutrition & Wellness Edublog.

Steve Woods. Surfing 2. Royalty Free Use.

National Distance Learning Week (NDLW) November 9-13, 2009

[Distance] learning programs are invaluable because they provide a segment of our population with critical literacy and job-related skills as well as the means to take their careers to the next level

Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA)
Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee

National Distance Learning Week (NDLW) will be held the week of November 9-13, 2009. The week-long event is set “to promote and celebrate the tremendous growth and accomplishments occurring today in distance learning programs offered by schools, businesses, and governmental departments.” NDLW is sponsored by the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA).

National Distance Learning Week LogoDuring National Distance Learning Week (NDLW), schools, colleges, and other organizations will be showcasing their programs for current and prospective students.

In addition, the USDLA (United States Distance Learning Association) will be conducting a series of free webinars during the week of November 9-13 to showcase various types of distance learning providers.

For more information see the NDLW website.

Settlement in Wee for a Wii Water Intoxication (Hyponatremia) Death

Water Intoxication or Hyponatremia tends to be an uncommon disorder, unless as I’ve mentioned in class, you happen to live in Northern California.

In the nearly 5 years that I have been teaching Nutrition there have been two high profile deaths from Water Intoxication. The first was a 21-year-old Chico State College Student, Matthew Carrington who died in 2005 after fraternity hazing.

The most recent one occured just two years later in 2007 when Jennifer Strange, a 28-year-old mother participating in a Radio Station contest to”Hold Your Wee for a Wii.” Both occurred in Northern California.

It is interesting how serendipity works at time. While I was lecturing on these unfortunate cases of Water Intoxication, a settlement was being reached in the lawsuit filed against the radio station. I am posting the latest correct information about the Wee for a Wii Water Intoxication (Hyponatremia) Death from 2007.

The Wee for a Wii Case

Jennifer Strange of Rancho Cordova entered the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest sponsored by KDND-FM (107.9) “The End” to try and win a Nintendo Wii video game system for her three children. In the contest contestants were challenged to drink water (16 ounces of water every 10 minutes). She came in second, dropping out once she started feeling ill. Ultimately Strange ended up succumbing to the excessive water consumption from the contest.

On October 29, a Sacramento jury awarded $16 million to her family.Entercom Sacramento, which operates KDND-FM (107.9) “The End,” was found negligent of ignoring several warnings that a morning show contest could have fatal consequences. During the course of the contest, one on-air host mentioned the 2005 death of a college student during a hazing ritual in Chico and a listener also called in to advise against the stunt.

Info on Water Intoxication or Hyponatremia

Water intoxication is generally not a common problem. Researchers published a clinical case of a 64 year old woman who began compulsively drinking water in the Journal of Clinical Pathology in 2003. They included the mechanism behind water intoxication:

Water intoxication provokes disturbances in electrolyte balance, resulting in a rapid decrease in serum sodium concentration and eventual death. The development of acute dilutional hyponatraemia causes neurological symptoms because of the movement of water into the brain cells, in response to the fall in extracellular osmolality.

Too much water in the body causes water to move into the cells, particularly the brain cells. As the sodium concentration falls in the blood (because of too much water) symptoms progress from confusion to drowsiness and eventually coma. The rate at which the water is consumed plays an important factor in the lethality of water intoxication. Large volumes of water consumed in a short period of time can produce a rapid drop in serum sodium levels which may be fatal.

Hopefully with these two high-profile cases, the word will get out and people will know not to drink too much water too fast.


October 2009. Radio Station Found Liable in Water Intoxication Death Suit.
Grab S. October 2009. Jury awards $16 million to family in fatal radio prank. LA Times Blog.
Farrell DJ. Bower L. 2003. Fatal Water Intoxication. J Clin Pathol. October; 56(10): 803–804.
Korry E. 2005. A Fraternity Hazing Gone Wrong.

Image: Richard Dudley. Glass of Water. Royalty Free Use.

Understanding the Differences Between Science and Humanities Papers

In order to help students better understand the differences between writing a paper for an English or humanities class and writing a paper for a science course, I have finished up a series of articles in the Academic Writing section on Suite 101.

The series takes a look at the differences between science and humanities papers read “Science and Humanities Papers the Differences.”

It also offers students help on writing scientific papers in “How to Write a Scientific Research Paper” as well as explaining the different required sections in “Identifying Parts of a Scientific Research Paper.” Finally the different types of styles used in formatting science and humanities papers are reviewed in  MLA, APA or URM? Different Research Paper Styles. All of the articles are listed in the right sidebar of the blog under “Science vs. English Papers.”

Image Source:  Anders Sandberg. Research. Creative Commons License.

Understanding the Class of 2013

For professors and instructors who grew up in the era prior to the Internet and Digital Technology, the Digital Immigrants often have difficulty understanding the Digital natives, our students who have always had access to computers, Internet, mobile phones, iPods and DVD’s.

MSNBC takes a look at some of what is considered a normal part of their lives for the new class of college freshmen.

These findings are based on the Beloit College’s Mindset list,  a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college. You can read the full list for the Class of 2013 at the Beloit College’s website.

The list is the creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and Emeritus Public Affairs Director Ron Nief. They have been publishing a list since 1998.

Twin Study offers Some Tips on Aging

Interesting studies of twins published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery shows how environment, lifestyle choices and stress can affect the aging process in identical twins.

The first study, “Factor Contributing to the Facial Aging of Identical Twins” published in final form in the April 2009 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, suggests that despite genetic make-up, certain environmental factors can add years to a person’s perceived age. In this study, divorce and antidepressant use associated with a significantly older appearance. Interestingly in twins who were less than 40 years old, the heavier twin was perceived as being older, while in those groups over 40 years old, the heavier twin appeared younger.

Watch the video clip (after the ad) from the LA Station about this new study, factors such as smoking, sun exposure, stress and dieting play a role in the aging process.

Factors affecting Aging:

  • Divorce
  • Stress
  • Sun Exposure
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Weight Gain – varies depending on the age

You can watch another report from ABC news at their website.


Salamone G. October 2009. Study of identical twins reveals how habits like smoking and tanning can dramatically age skin. NY Daily News.
Cloud J. February 2009. Twins and Aging: How Not to Look Old.
Press Release. February 2009. Divorce, Antidepressants, or Weight Gain/Loss Can Add Years to Your Face: ASPS Twins Study Finds Environmental Factors Trump Genetics in Facial Aging. Press Release. American Society of Plastic Surgeons.