Tuesday, May 27, 2008

JJNN 6 May 27th, 2008

Welcome again to JJNN for Tuesday May 27th, 2008. Today I will be looking at two news stories from Japan about food and nutrition.

The first story is about growing food in outer space. The original story can be found here. The Japanese beer maker Sapporo Beer wanted to see if they could grow barley in a space station. With support from Okayama University and some Russian researchers, barley seeds were brought onto the international space station.

At first the scientists wanted to test whether or not the plants would take root at all in a zero gravity environment. As it turns out, even though the seeds were subject to an environment with a lot of natural radiation, the plants did sprout and grow. The people at the station were surprised that the plants were able to grow as they normally do on earth as long as the amount of light and the heat and humidity the barley was exposed to was controlled. Next, the scientists on the earth will look at barley that has been growing on the international space station for 5 months to see if there are changes on the genetic level. Both the representatives of Sapporo Beer and the Okayama University scientists are very happy about the outcome of their experiment and what it could mean to the future of space exploration.

I guess this is one of the many many steps we have to take to get a foothold into long term space exploration. Barley is an extremely durable plant and it can be use to provide many different types of food, but man (or woman) can not live on just barley alone. We have a long way go before we can even think about anything long term in space.

The next story is about vitamin B6. The original story is given here. A research team from the Osaka University has put out a report that said that people that eat a lot foods rich in vitamin B6 have lower chances of getting a myocardial infarction. B6 is a vitamin which can be found in things like rice and garlic.

The study itself went on from 1990 to 2001 and followed a group of 40000 men and women in their 40s and 50s. The subjects of the study were asked about their eating habits and divided into 5 different groups depending on the amount of B6 and other B vitamins they got. It turns out that the group that received the most B6 were subject to the least number of myocardial infarctions (with just over half the people in that group having one). The study also found that in the people who did not eat foods high in B12 and folic acid the chance of a person having a myocardial infarction actually rose.

I wonder about this study actually. I mean, the number of subjects is high (a high n) and it was done over a long amount of time, but I don't know if that necessarily leads to a good study. For one thing, they separated the subjects into just 5 categories. There has to be more ways to separate people than that. To top that off, I wonder if they moved people around from category to category when they changed their eating habits. It also doesn't seem to me that there is a control group for this experiment. Maybe the article that I read just doesn't mention it, but I wonder. I guess the only thing that I can do is wait and see what other news comes out about this.

Any way it is not time for the word of the day. Today's word is 大麦(おおむぎ). It is pronounced oomugi and means barley. Mmmmm...barley tastes like space

That's it for today. See you next time at JJNN.

1 comment:

  1. Mmm, space food. I've been mulling over the idea on whether or not one can create a semi self-sufficient closed enviroment of just plants. Semi as in bare interaction from the outside. If it can be done, then long space voyages with colonies of people are feasible.