miércoles, 20 de noviembre de 2013

(06) DOES COFFEE REALLY SOBER YOU UP WHEN DRUNK?

www.bbc.com
Claudia Hammond

It’s an appealing idea that caffeine can cancel out the effects of too much alcohol. Sadly, studies reveal it is not that straightforward.

A few years ago I went to a play at my local theatre with some friends. My husband arrived late and a little jolly, having been to his office Christmas lunch and spent most of the afternoon drinking wine. Luckily it was a comedy, but he laughed so much that even the cast looked surprised at his enthusiasm.

During the interval I bought him a coffee to help sober him up before the second act. By the end of the play he was a bit quieter, but was I right to assume it was the coffee that had done the trick?

The sedative effects of large quantities of alcohol are well-established.
For the first hour-and-a-half or so, when blood-alcohol concentrations are high, people become more alert. From two hours after alcohol consumption to around six hours, objective measures of sleepiness increase .
Caffeine does the opposite, making people more alert, which has led to the appealing idea that a cup of coffee can cancel out the effects of a pint of beer.
Sadly it’s not that straightforward.

Historically, studies of the effect of caffeine on people’s driving abilities when drunk (in the lab, not on the roads) have had contradictory results. Some have found it reverses the slowing of reaction times caused by alcohol, others have found it doesn’t.

More recently, a study published in 2009 was designed to tease out in more detail the effects of combining alcohol and caffeine.
Mice were given alcohol followed by the human equivalent of eight cups of coffee. After the caffeine they seemed more alert, but they were still much worse than sober mice at getting round a maze.
So caffeine can counteract the tiredness induced by alcohol, which might explain why a cup of coffee is popular in many places at the end of a meal. But it can’t remove feelings of drunkenness or some of the cognitive deficits alcohol causes.
The reason is that we have to metabolise the alcohol we drink in order to diminish its effects.
The body processes it in several ways. Mostly it’s broken down in the liver by two enzymes: alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase. After several steps the alcohol is eventually excreted as water and carbon dioxide.

It takes approximately an hour for the body to metabolise one unit of alcohol, although some people do it faster and some slower, depending on their genetic make-up, how much food they’ve eaten and how often they drink.
Caffeine doesn’t speed up the process. However its effects vary according to which function you’re looking at.

One study, for example, found a large dose of caffeine can counteract the negative effects of alcohol on memory, but that feelings of dizziness remain.

There are also suggestions that caffeine can make matters worse.
If you feel tired you are more likely to realise that you must be drunk, but if the caffeine takes away some of that fatigue you might believe you’re sober when you’re not.
This might explain the findings of a study of American college students from 2008. Those who chose drinks containing both alcohol and caffeine, such as vodka and Red Bull, were twice as likely to get hurt in an accident and more than twice as likely to accept a lift with a driver who was over the limit. This effect was independent of the amount of alcohol consumed. This is an early study on the topic in which the students choose their own drinks and reported themselves how much they’d drunk. But it does illustrate how caffeine could fool people into thinking they’re sobering up, and some of the potentially disastrous consequences.

miércoles, 6 de noviembre de 2013

(05) FAST FOOD FOR THE DIGITAL AGE: MEALS ARE 3D-PRINTED

Two new startups could help bring individual customization 
to the mass production of meals with 3D printed food.

6th November 2013 in Food & Beverage, Style & Design.

The 20th century ushered in the age of mass produced food, which — for better or worse — has fed the population with an endless array of new dishes and delicacies. The 21st century food industry may come to be about the individual customization with 3D printed food, however, if two new startups get their way.

Headed by Hod Lipson and Jeffrey Lipton, the Cornell Creative Machines Lab (CCML) is a part of Cornell University researching 3D printing. Having already worked with the International Culinary Center, its prototypes can create scallop nuggets in novelty shapes, cakes with messages printed inside, noodles and hamburger patties. The devices currently take liquid and paste foodstuffs such as melted chocolate, dough and pureed goods, which can be used much like the plastic in typical 3D printers.
 
Barcelona-based Natural Machines (above) is another startup moving the world of catering into 3D printed territory. According to the Wall Street Journal, the startup uses precise piping directed by digital designs to create pastas, breads and food decorations. It is already in the process of developing a printer for market, which it hopes to retail for EUR 1,000. Connected to the web, users will be able to download recipes and designs, as well as tweet their latest creations.

While regular readers of Springwise may remember Japan-based FabCafe‘s 3D-printed Valentine’s Day jelly sweets, both the research by CCML and Natural Machines could bring the production of digitally-designed meals out of science fiction and into reality. Could your business benefit from the convenience of 3D food printing?

Spotted by Murray Orange, written by Springwise