As one of the primary food staples for millions, if not billions, of people around the world, the impact of rice on human civilization and population growth cannot be understated. However, rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere is undermining its nutritional value.
The starchy grain is nutritiously unassuming, but it is a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, selenium, iron, folic acid, thiamine, niacin, Vitamin B and, in the case of brown rice, fiber.
An international research team that analyzed rice samples from field experiments started by a University of Tokyo professor found that increased CO2 in the atmosphere will reduce the nutritional value of rice. Specifically, iron, zinc, protein, and vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B9 were reduced in rice that were grown under higher carbon dioxide concentrations (568 to 590 parts per million) expected to prevail in the second half of the century.
Published in Science Advances, the results challenge a common argument floated among many climate change deniers that rising CO2 concentrations are a net positive for global vegetation, including crops, and should be of serious consideration for populations that depend heavily on rice for sustenance.
Professor Kazuhiko Kobayashi of the University of Tokyo, co-author of the study and an expert in effects of air pollution on agriculture, said he started using the technique in 1998, stated:
“Rice is not just a major source of calories, but also proteins and vitamins for many people in developing countries and for poorer communities within developed countries.”
The researchers grew the rice at research sites in China and Japan using an open-field method that included 17-meter-wide (56-foot-wide) plastic pipe octagons elevated about 30 centimeters (1 foot) above the tops of plants within standard rice fields.
A network of sensors and monitors measured wind speed and direction to determine how much carbon dioxide is released out of the pipes, allowing the concentration of the gas to be raised to desired experimental level.
The technique is known as Free-Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment (FACE). Kobayashi said he started using the technique in 1998, adding:
“We knew that plants raised in a plastic or glass house do not grow the same as plants in normal, open field conditions. This technique allows us to test the effects of higher carbon dioxide concentrations on plants growing in the same conditions that farmers really will grow them some decades later in this century.”
Local wildlife sometimes poses additional challenge to the research. At their fist field site, Kobayashi’s team had to keep all of the pipes and tubes above the ground because raccoons kept chewing through everything, jeopardized the experiment.
A total of 18 different varieties of rice were analysed for protein, iron, and zinc levels. Nine varieties of rice grown in China were used for thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), pantothenic acid (B5), and folate (B9).
Populations in countries with both the highest rice consumption and lowest gross domestic product may be the ones to experience the most malnutrition from the decline in the nutritional value of low-cost staple foods like rice.
For instance, approximately six hundred million people primarily in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Madagascar get at least 50 percent of their daily energy and/or protein directly from rice. This was also the case in Japan during the 1960s, but the average Japanese today receives only about 20 percent of their daily dietary energy from rice.
Fortunately, not all varieties of rice responded in the same way. Future research may examine the possibility of finding varieties of rice that can remain nutritious despite atmospheric changes.
Do Vitamins Have Calories? Will They Make You Fat?
Calories aside, a healthy serving of vitamins is essential for your health, so don’t skimp.
Taking vitamins supplements, as opposed to preferably getting them from wholesome foods, can help round out your diet and ensure that your daily requirements are met. As for the question of whether vitamins have calories, it’s just one of several important variables you must consider.
Purpose Of Vitamins
No, vitamins do not contain calories, nor do they provide your body with energy. This means you don’t have to worry about gaining weight, getting fat or even disrupting your intermittent fasting from taking too much of them.
After vitamins from supplements or food are absorbed, your body uses them for various health-enhancing processes , such as:
- Absorbing and metabolizing other nutrients.
- Energy production for your daily activities.
- Promoting normal cell function
- Encouraging normal growth and development
- Keeping you immune system in tip-top condition to prevent disease
It goes without saying that vitamins add to your overall well-being. Vitamin D, for instance, helps your body absorb calcium and promote bone growth, and too little of it results in soft bones in children (rickets) and fragile, misshapen bones in adults (osteomalacia).
Vitamin D deficiency is a global epidemic that has also been linked to breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, depression, weight gain, and other maladies. In fact, studies have shown that people with higher levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of disease.
Melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure, so if you are dark-skinned and live in a country without a lot of sunlight, especially during the winter months, or a home-body who doesn’t go out a lot, there is good chance you might be vitamin D deficient. It’s time you probably considered taking vitamin D supplements on a regular basis.
Types Of Vitamins
Life would be so much simpler if we had a single vitamin that served all of our bodily needs and can be taken whenever and wherever, but that’s not the world we live in, at least not yet. In other words, when it comes to getting the right vitamins and in the right quantities, eating a balanced diet with a variety of foods is paramount to good health.
As noted by Carol Byrd-Bredbenner in her book “Perspectives in Nutrition,” Vitamins come in two types — water-soluble and fat-soluble — which partly explains why our bodies don’t always absorb the majority of vitamin supplements we consume.
Fat-soluble vitamins are those that are transported by fats and include vitamins A, D, E and K. To get the most out of fat-soluble vitamins, it’s best to take them with meals containing some fat.
Water-soluble vitamins are those that dissolve in water and are readily absorbed into tissues for immediate use. They include the B vitamins and vitamin C.
I like to take all my vitamins during my meals, which usually include a healthy serving of avocados, eggs and sometimes fish and/or meat.
Myths About Vitamins
There is persisting misconception that if taking a little of a certain vitamin helps to improve symptoms of a condition, then taking more will result in greater improvement. Unfortunately, that’s not the case when it comes to taking vitamins.
According to “Krause’s Food and Nutrition Therapy,” the most respected nutrition text for over 50 years, the body can only absorb and use a certain amount of the vitamins we consume. Moreover, it cannot absorb man-made vitamin supplements as easily as vitamins in foods. These are other key reasons why you should not use vitamin supplements as a replacement for food.
Vitamin C is often touted as a natural cold remedy, with Nobel laureate Dr. Linus Pauling famously claiming that taking large doses of vitamin C helps thwart a cold. However, research has shown that vitamin C is only marginally beneficial when it comes to the common cold.
A 2017 study pooling the results of 29 different studies that looked at the effect of vitamin C on colds found that taking 200 milligrams of vitamin C every single day rather than just on days when you’re sick could make cold symptoms go away about one day sooner. But that’s where the benefits end.
Benefits Of Vitamins Supplements
Vitamins are a must for a properly-functioning body, but some people have more need for certain vitamins than other. Because vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, vegans, for example, are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency and, therefore, can benefit from B-12 supplements.
On the same hand, parents concerned about the picky eaters in the family can give their children vitamin supplements to round out their diet.
Ideally, you should be getting all your vitamins from food because that’s what our bodies are accustomed to working with. It can’t be stressed enough that you should not use vitamin supplements as a replacement for food.
Be Careful With Vitamins
Gorging on vitamin supplements won’t make you fat or even gain weight, but that doesn’t mean you should. Taking excessively large doses of vitamins can result in adverse health effects.
Fat soluble vitamins, in particular, are stored in the body’s tissues and tend to remain there. They can build up in your system overtime if you consume too much, resulting in a potentially dangerous condition called hypervitaminosis.
Moreover, some water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C, can cause diarrhea if taken in excess.
You should, however, report any vitamins you are taking to your doctor if you are on medication. Vitamins can interact and interfere with medicine, which can cause the prescription to be ineffective or cause other adverse effects.
Here’s What The Future Of Food Could Look Like
Devices like tooth sensors that measure sugar and alcohol intake, as well as monitor other health qualities, could revolutionize the food industry as we know it.
From new technologies detecting specific ingredients and allergens in food to the expansion of cell-cultured meat, the list of emerging technologies that help consumers understand what they are eating grows by the day.
According Max Elder, a researcher at the Institute for the Future’s Food Futures Lab, “the future is already here, and it’s about time the food industry faced it head first.
Elder believes that for Consumer packaged goods companies to prepare for new challenges, they will need to “work backwards” to come up with strategies for creating the industry they want.
The Future Of Food Technology
Too many of today’s packaged foods are filled with empty calories, and people are no longer able to rely on their five senses to get accurate information about what they’re eating. Products labels have traditionally been relied upon to provide said information, but they could be misleading and are often difficult to understand.
In fact, a 2018 study by the Center for Food Integrity also found that only 33% of survey respondents “strongly agree” that they are confident in the safety of the food they consume. Such a high level of distrust has prompted the development of a new suite of technologies that help consumers make better-informed decisions about their food, “radical” technologies that Elder says will likely be widespread over the next decade.
Examples of such devices include an ingestible sensor being by Carnegie Mellon University that monitors gastrointestinal health and a tiny tooth sensor from Tufts University that can measure glucose, sugar and alcohol intake.
But before sensors in guts or on teeth become ubiquitous, Elder said they will likely be situated outside the body. Chinese search engine company Baidu, for instance, has developed smart chopsticks that can detect the freshness of cooking oil.
Those suffering from celiac disease will find Nima especially useful. Nima is a small portable machine that uses a sensor to test for trace amounts of gluten when crumbs are placed into it, and the namesake company behind its creation is developing variants of the technology for other allergens, including peanuts and shellfish.
While the food knowledge consumer can gain from such new technology could pose a challenge to food companies, but it is also an opportunity for brands to get more information on what eaters want and tailor their products, services and communication accordingly.
More Sustainable, Humane Meat
We can’t talk about the future of food without mention of the lab-grown meat industry, which has the potential to expand despite regulatory setbacks.
There has been a rapidly growing movement towards and major investment in exploring more cellular food systems, and while it’s too early to know if cultured meat is as healthy or nutritious as conventionally-produced meat, the segment could potentially be a major part of the food of the future.
According to Paul Shapiro Author of Clean Meat and former vice president for The Humane Society of the United States, clean meat is better for the environment than raising and slaughtering animals, whether conventional, grass-fed or free-range. Instead pouring tons of resources into raising an entire animal that won’t be eaten in its entirety — horns, eyeballs, hooves, brains, etc. all go to waste — growing meat in a lab only results in the parts and calories consumers need.
The lab-grown meat industry is still in its infancy and the market is small, meaning cell-cultured meat commands a price premium over conventional meat. However, if the industry can eventually achieve price parity, the only issue it will have to contend with is how comfortable consumers are with eating meat produced in a lab.
Meeting Environmental Values
There has been a growing demand for transparency in the food industry, and many consumers desire to know what is in their food and actively look for ecolabels that align to their values (Fair Trade, Non-GMO, etc.). An increasing number of individuals are also reading the label to look for names they recognize and trust before they make a purchase.
That’s to say companies will have to cater to consumer’s environmental values more so than ever but must do so with caution. Not fully understanding the environmental impact of new types of food production could lead to some companies making claims they may not be able to hold up.
Like everything in life, the food industry is undergoing a transformation, and most certainly for the better. The future looks promising for the health- and environmentally-conscious consumer.
Over 4 In 10 Americans Open To Trying Cannabis-Enhanced Foods
More than 40 percent of North American consumers are willing to try foods made with cannabis recreationally if available.
A survey of 1,000 Americans and 1,000 Canadians carried out by global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney highlights the growing interest in cannabis-infused food and drinks.
In the survey, participants were asked which cannabis-containing products they or someone they know have tried in areas including food, smoking, vaping and beverages. Approximately 58% said yes for food, 12% for alcohol and 10% for nonalcoholic drinks such as juice, water, tea or coffee.
The results were echoed by an earlier study by Dalhousie University, which found that 46 per cent of Canadians said they would try cannabis-infused food products if they became available on the market. A 2017 Gallup poll showed that 64 per cent of Americans support legalization.
Over 85 percent of those surveyed said they would have an improved or neutral perception of their favorite brand if it were to launch a product containing cannabis, indicating that companies introducing products with cannabis ingredients would see an improvement in public perception.
Randy Burt, a partner in A.T. Kearney’s consumer and retail practice, stated:
“The survey clearly demonstrates the viability of the market for cannabis across multiple consumer segments – CPGs and retailers focused on health and wellness, snacking, functional food and beverage, and beverage alcohol need to have a perspective on how they will approach the cannabis opportunity.”
Interestingly, consumers expressed more willingness to try candy, chocolate snacks and packaged foods than non-alcoholic or alcoholic drinks; yet, it’s the beverage sector, especially beer, that has been the most aggressive in investing and preparing for a cannabis future.
Concerns over more consumers turning to marijuana instead alcohol for relaxation is perhaps the driving force behind the push.
Canada legalized marijuana on October 17, 2018, while ten U.S. states have legalized the psychoactive drug for recreational use.
Judging by current trends, America might be at the tipping point on legalizing cannabis at the federal level, which could open up additional markets for marijuana-related products.
Like it or not, the future looks bright for the cannabis industry.