Thursday, January 31, 2008

Class #2: A Sphincter Says What?

Okay, so one book came in. Studied at the public library for about two hours tonight, and came home to a lovely dinner. Thank you, Husband! I have about 7 more chapters to go. No worries though. Our first quiz will only be covering notes from class, so I have a few weeks to catch up.

This week's class was cut short. My professor (and it seems like every else in the world--myself included) has a cold and wasn't feeling well. So it seems quite appropriate that we dedicated this week's studies to The Cell and The Digestive System-- both which play an important role in immune function!

The Cell
It's nice to know the cell hasn't really changed much since Mr. Sewell's 8th grade science class. You've still got the cell wall, the cytoplasm, and everyone's favorite, the nucleus. Also still standing the test of time... the basic components of anatomy. Cells still make up tissues, tissues make up organs, and organs make up systems. I actually wrote this in my notes: "Organs are needed to function." Brilliant. Just brilliant.

One factoid I did learn involves cholesterol. We certainly hear an awful lot about the stuff, and most folks worry about their levels of good vs. bad. But did you know what cholesterol's actual function is? Cholesterol works on a cellular level to keep our cell membranes fluid. It provides stability and regulates fluidity, therefore regulating permeability. Which is a fancy way of saying, it allows stuff (like water and food) to pass in and stuff like waste and bacteria to pass out of our cells. Pretty important stuff if we want to survive. And not get sick.

The Digestive System
So, most of us know how this works... you eat, stuff gets absorbed, other stuff makes its way out. But here's some interesting tidbits:
  • The lining of your small intestine has it's very own name-- the lumen!
  • As we age, we lose sharpness in three out of 4 of our taste receptors-- salt, sour and bitter. We keep sweet, which might explain why Grandma always has a candy dish.
  • We have 3-- count 'em-- 3 sphincter muscles in our Digestive System. The one at the end, well, we're all quite familiar with. But we have one at the top of our esophagus, and another at the bottom that connects with the stomach.
  • Do you suffer from acid reflux? It's because your Lower Esophageal Sphincter is weak. Avoid coffee, chocolate, alcohol, smoking, high fat foods and mint. Pregnancy can temporarily weaken your LES as well.
  • Some ulcers are caused by peptic acid eroding the lining of your tummy. But did you know others can be caused by a bacteria called Helicobacter Pylori? And be careful... these ulcers can be contagious!
  • Your long intestine is about 31 feet long... but you can live with a minimum of 6 feet.
  • Did you know your liver can be regenerated? If you match a donor, a piece of your liver can be transplanted, and both you and the recipient will survive.
  • Starvation is unpleasant in many ways, but did you know not eating affects your immune system too? Actively utilizing you gut through digestion keeps you healthier than say, someone on a feeding tube.
  • Digestion can take anywhere from 18-72 hours depending on metabolism and the type of food you eat. That's a long time for that cupcake to hang around.
More postings this weekend. Questions? Thoughts? Drop me a comment!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Waiting Game

Well, still waiting on my texts, Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food and the ever-popular on the NY Times bestseller's list, Structure and Function of the Body. Since they're not here this weekend, I'll review my notes, then get a pedicure. Does a pedicure count as a function of the body?

Things to do this week:
-Set a meeting with Advisor. Mom had some great advice this afternoon, so before I go and meet, I need to gather up my transcripts, old syllabi (syllabuses?) and old course catalogs. That way, I'll be able to make a better case for waiving out of classes. I may have to bash my head into the nearest wall if I am required to YET AGAIN take Economics.
- Call the university pool and get their lap swim hours. My goal is to swim a mile this winter. And Mom, if you're reading this, it ought to be your goal too. I'm also considering joining US Masters, but I need access to a pool more than 3 times a year for that!
- Read. As soon as the books come in, I've got 8 chapters to go over. Hoping they'll be here by Thursday, as the Husband will be doing dinner that night, and the local library is open til 9 PM. Wondering if studying at home will be hard. I didn't have a cat (whose cuteness alone is distracting) the last time I did the grad school thing.

In social news, had a wonderful Mediterranean dinner Friday night. Great food, great company! Tasted duck for the first time in many years. And yes, it still is dark and gamey, and gives me a guilt complex, since much of my Ohio childhood was spent down by the lake feeding said ducks. Oh, Quick-Quack, my rescued pet duck up in heaven... don't be mad. I ate your brother.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Buying Books

Well, I sure hope my books arrive soon. Can't study without them! I decided to do what the other hip college kids are doing, and instead of paying a fortune at the bookstore, I bought my texts online. This makes me a little nervous... what if it takes 5 weeks for them to arrive? What if they're the wrong ones? What if "gently used" really means "mauled by a bear and then run over with my car"? On a positive note, it only cost me about $100 for both books, I have a newfound respect for the importance of ISBN numbers, and I had a good user experience on So far. The verdict is still out.

In daytime cancer crusading news, I was delighted to hear last night that one of my corporate accounts will be sponsoring this year's golf tournament at the $25,000 level. Yay and thanks to all who made this large gift possible! My job is much easier when people say yes.

Last night's dinner was a mild success with Husband. He suggests we begin a rating system for new recipes, ranging from 1-"That's gross (complete with finger pointing)" to 10-"This is as awesome as Chicken Nugget Night!" Last night scored a 5. "It's not gross, but it's a sometimes food."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The First day of Class

So, my MS RD education has begun! Last night was my first night of classes, and while I was nervous at first, I 'm happy to report that I loved it.

There are about 21 other "RD-to-Be"s in my class, varying in ages and background. I'm not the oldest, nor am I the youngest. Many of us work (some in the field and some not). We're a fairly diverse group, all fascinated and passionate about food.

Facts and Tips for this week:
  • Grapefruit contains Lycopene! Eat it to improve eye health.
  • In the last 50 years, the US has shifted its nutrition focus from a country that used to be undernourished (were kids getting enough to eat?) to a country that is now overnourished (we're all eating too much!).
  • While the USA uses the food pyramid, many other counties use different models based on native diets and customs. In Germany, they use a circular "plate". And in China and Korea, folks are taught with the "Food Pagoda" (complete with rice and eel drawings. Yummy!)
  • We remodeled our food pyramid about 10 years ago to reflect the need for personalized diets and 30 minutes of physical activity each day. Do you know how much food you need each day?
Go to to learn more and customize your own diet.