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Volume 37, No. 4

November 2015 Edition

NIH to retire all research chimpanzees

Two years after retiring most of its research chimpanzees, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) is ceasing its chimp programme altogether, Nature has learned.

In a 16 November e-mail to the agency's administrators, NIH director Francis Collins announced that the 50 NIH-owned animals that remain available for research will be sent to sanctuaries. The agency will also develop a plan for phasing out NIH support for the remaining chimps that are supported by, but not owned by, the NIH.

Sleep and Dementia Link

Mom was right. Getting a good night's sleep may prove even more important to long-term health than our parents advised.

Scientists already have documented connections between sleep loss and memory problems, which explains why many schools are starting classes later. But a growing body of research is exploring links among sleep deprivation, sleep disturbance and Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia.

Date labels on food are less about safety than about quality

With the holidays around the corner, you’re probably making your shopping list for the big feast. While checking your cupboards for supplies, you find a bag of stuffing mix with a “best by” date of Nov. 1, 2015. Is it still safe to use on Thanksgiving?

Surprisingly, yes. In most cases, eating food that has been on the shelf — or even in the fridge — past the date on the package won’t put you at high risk for food-borne illness, says Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist and associate professor at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

Food Reactions: We're All Different

Do we all respond to a tomato in the same way? Or any food for that matter?

Scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, suspected that we don't, so they set out to explore the issue.

They decided to look at blood sugar levels after people ate, called postprandial blood glucose levels, to see if they varied from one individual to another after eating the same meals. Elevated blood glucose levels are a major risk factor for diabetes and obesity, which are epidemic.

They found a wide variance in how the same foods affected different people.


Prep & Cook time: 
8-24 hours
Ingredients & Amounts: 

Special Equipment:  

  • Quart/liter jar
  • Insulated Cooler or Yogurt Maker

     Ingredients: (enough to make 1 quart):

  • 1 quart or liter of whole milk* 
  • 1 tbsp/15 ml fresh live-culture plain yogurt.  You can buy yogurt or use some from your last batch.

*You can use 2% or skim, goat milk, or canned coconut milk. Fresh or raw milk from a reputable source makes a delicious and even more healthful yogurt. 



  1. Preheat the jar and insulated cooler with hot water so that they will not drain heat from the yogurt and it can stay warm to ferment.
  2. Heat the milk until bubbles begin to form. If you use a thermometer, heat milk to 180 F (82 C).  Use gentle heat, and stir frequently to avoid burning the milk. The heating is not absolutely necessary, but it results in a thicker yogurt.  
  3. Cool the milk to 110 F (43 C), or the point where it feels hot, but it is not hard to keep your (clean!) finger in it. You can speed the cooling process by setting the pot with the hot milk into a bowl or pot of cold water. Don’t let the milk get too cool; the yogurt cultures are most active in the above-body-temperature range.
  4. Mix starter yogurt into the milk. Use just 1 Tbsp (15 ml.) per quart. I used to use more starter, assuming that more is better, until I consulted my number one kitchen book, The Joy of Cooking (1964 Edition), known affectionately as “Joy” in our kitchen. “You may wonder why so little starter is used and think that a little more will produce a better result. It won’t. The bacillus, if crowded, gives a sour, watery product. But if the culture has sufficient Lebensraum (German for “room to live”), it will be rich, mild, and creamy.”Mix the starter thoroughly into the milk, and pour the mixture into the preheated jar. 
  5. Cap the jar and place it in the pre-heated insulated cooler. If much space remains in the cooler, fill it with bottles of hot water (not too hot to touch) and/or towels. Close the cooler.  Place the cooler in a warm spot where it will not be disturbed.“Yogurt has the added idiosyncrasy that it doesn’t care to be jostled while growing,” note Joy.
  6. Check the yogurt after 8-12 hours. It should have a tangy flavor and some thickness. If it isn’t thick (hasn’t “yoged”), warm it up by filling the insulated cooler with hot water around the jar of yogurt, adding more starter, and leaving it 4 to 8 more hours. You can leave it to ferment longer if you wish. It will become more sour as more of the milk’s lactose is converted into lactic acid. A longer fermentation period can often make yogurt digestible even for lactose-intolerant individuals.
  7. Yogurt can store in the refrigerator for weeks, though its flavor will become more sour over time.  Save some of the yogurt to use as a starter for the next batch. 

Recipe used with permission from:Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2003, p. 

Food Category: 
Dietary Restrictions (check all that apply): 
High Protein
Low Sugar
Peanut Free

"Natural" Food Definition Needed

The Food and Drug Administration is seeking your input to answer a question: How should the agency define "natural" on food labels?

Disagreement over what "all natural" or "100 percent natural" means has spawned dozens of lawsuits. Consumers have challenged the naturalness of all kinds of food products.

For instance, can a product that contains high fructose corn syrup be labeled as natural? What about products that contain genetically modified ingredients?

Obesity Rates Still Rising

Obesity rates continue to rise despite a major push to raise awareness about healthy eating, according to a new survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Obesity rates rose to approximately 37.7 percent for adults in the U.S., up from 34.9 percent in 2011 to 2012, according to a CDC survey published this week.

The information was taken from about 5,000 participants who were surveyed by the CDC.

Women are more likely to be obese, with 38.3 percent of women facing obesity vs. 34.3 percent of men, according to the survey.

The Surprising Factor That Affects Your Future Baby’s Health

Trying to get pregnant? Then you’re probably popping prenatal vitamins, laying off the sushi and extra-large lattes, and generally watching what you eat in the name of fertility and healthy babies.

But, according to new OB-GYN guidelines from the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, or FIGO, it’s not just what you eat once you’re “trying” that affects your fertility and future baby’s health. It turns out, what you eat as a child also influences your chances of getting pregnant – and of having a healthy pregnancy and baby – decades later. 

Workers' Health Care Costs Rising

The runaway train of rising health-care costs has slowed, but you're forgiven if you haven't noticed: New research shows that employees are contributing a record amount toward their coverage, a trend that experts say is likely to continue as high-deductible plans and stingier benefits become more commonplace.

The Future of Medicine is Food

In between anatomy and biochemistry, medical students in the US are learning how to sauté, simmer and season healthy, homemade meals.

Since 2012, first and second year students at Tulane University School of Medicine in Louisiana have been learning how to cook. Since the program launched, Tulane has built the country’s first med school-affiliated teaching kitchen and become the first medical school to count a chef as a full-time instructor.

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