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Health

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Formal Dining: A History

For many centuries, a dining table at home spelled class and dignity. Ancient Greeks called it an andron, a place to eat and have discussions, even get entertained by performing artists.

The dining table constructed a power dynamic that happens when people of different class, race or gender relations sit and eat together, something that was replicated across centuries and in all advanced civilizations of the past.

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  • The modern American dining table is modelled after the 1800s Victorian England, where it was a display of social status.
  • Fine dining furniture with beautiful tablescapes was an art in itself. There were different dining sets used to serve food, like fine china for special occasions.
  • It was a lavish sight with beautiful linen and chairs. The etiquette of eating food was part of the dining ritual.
  • Different serving apparatus and utensils for specific foods conveyed that one is cultured, refined and classy.

The 1920s saw the kitchen become the living room of the house. People installed new appliances and invited friends and relatives for dinner just to show off. This gave rise to the concept of eat-in kitchens and resulted in the kitchen eating up the dining table. Americans also started working more and ate together infrequently.

The rise of television in the 50s made frozen TV Dinners a popular concept, even though it was cheap, horrible food. The eat-in kitchen became the living room where kids did their homework and ate casual meals right after it was prepared by their moms.

Now we do not usually indulge in formal theatrics of hosting dinner parties on a dining table and are comfortable sitting on the floor if needed. We are not stressed up about eating etiquettes or dress codes, focusing on the quality of the company rather than their furniture.

Modern, heavily populated cities don’t have the bandwidth for expansive wooden dining tables, as rents are high and the furniture, dinner sets and cabinets would serve no real purpose. Those who can afford it go for installing a theatre or movie hall with a giant LED screen.

  • Cooking has undergone a major change in the last 20 years. Grubhub, DoorDash and UberEats bring all kinds of food to our doorstep, helping us avoid making dinner. Looking at the billion-dollar revenues of these apps, it is safe to say this is how people would prefer in the near future.
  • We go dining in fine restaurants to enjoy exotic food, posting pics on social media, engaging actively in food culture.
  • We enjoy random meals and snacks throughout the day, in the bedroom, near the fridge or in the kitchen itself, decreasing our reliance on well-cooked home meals, promoting processed snacks or food cooked in commercial kitchens.

Post-modernist trends lean towards comfort and freeform styles, with the formal dining table not compatible with the lifestyle of the current generation. People are increasingly lonely, giving rise to the loneliness epidemic despite being hyper-connected virtually.

The near future seems isolated and the return towards a special, sacred place to dine together does not look likely.

Neurons have multiple tasks

It is a myth that specific parts of the human brain have specific psychological jobs. The myth claims that the brain has separate parts, each with a dedicated mental function - one part for vision, another for memory, etc.

Today, we know the brain is a massive network of neurons with multiple jobs, not a single psychological purpose. Not all neurons can do everything, but most neurons do more than one thing.

This myth is the idea that the human brain evolved in three layers.

  • The deepest layer is known as the lizard brain and said to house our instincts.
  • The middle layer - the limbic system - allegedly contains emotions inherited from ancient mammals.
  • The topmost layer, named the neocortex, is uniquely human and supposedly lets us regulate our brutish emotions and instincts.

Modern research has revealed that the brain doesn't evolve in layers but is built from a manufacturing plan using the same neurons.

The idea that your brain reacts to events in the world is a myth. The idea supposes that you go through your day with parts of your brain in the off position, but when something happens around you, those parts become active and light up with activity.

But the brain doesn't work by stimulus and response. All your neurons are firing all the time at various rates. Your brain uses all its available information to predict what will happen next and make corrections outside of your awareness.

This myth states that there's a clear dividing line between the disease of the body, such as cardiovascular disease, and the disease of the mind, such as depression. Philosopher René Descartes popularized the idea that body and mind are separate.

But neuroscientists have found that the same brain networks responsible for controlling your body are involved in creating your mind. Every mental experience has physical causes, and physical changes in your body often have mental consequences.

Cheek Dimples

Found on both sides of the mouth for some of us, cheek dimples are considered attractive and ‘genetically dominant’. Around 37 percent of the population are having cheek dimples (in a study of 2300 people).

Cheek dimples are caused by a change in a particular facial muscle called zygomaticus major. Genetics too play an important part for a face to have dimples, which can develop over a lifetime and also disappear.

Cheek dimples are associated with beauty and some cultures consider it a sign of good luck. They also help us communicate better and recognize the intensity of facial gestures in a person.

Some people also opt for surgery to get these cheek bends, something called dimpleplasty.

Fruit juice vs fizzy drinks

The amount of sugar that can be found in fruit juice is significantly higher than in fizzy drinks. Studies suggest that too much sugar can put us at risk for health problems such as obesity, diabetes, or tooth decay.

However, pure fruit juice does contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that cannot be found in fizzy drinks. Generally, fruit juices are better for you in terms of warding off infection or inflammation and boosting your immune system.

  • The NHS recommends no more than 150 ml of fruit juice in a day. They strongly suggest to drink it with meals in order to reduce tooth damage.
  • When fruit is juiced, the 'free sugars' of the fruit is released and most of the fibre is removed.
  • It's better to eat a whole fruit instead, or you can dilute your juices to reduce the sugar proportion which can make them last longer.
The Circadian Rhythm
  • The circadian rhythm is what we call our body's masterclock. It is the timekeeper of the body which keeps the cells in our body running smoothly, helps fights against chronic diseases and assists us into having a peaceful night of sleep.
  • Our circadian rhythm is dependent on our daily routines and diet that keeps us mindful of our health.
  • Our masterclock can be found in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) in the hypothalamus. It is what controls the functioning of each bodily process.

Healthy circadian rhythms rely on regularity and stability— for the timing of light, the timing of exercise, and the timing of meals.

Our bodies are accustomed to the exposure of light and darkness on a regular basis. The circadian rhythm is reset on a daily basis and it is the one that determines the healthiness of our cellular health and sleeping patterns.

  • We slowly deteriorate our health whenever we disrupt the natural cycle of our circadian rhythm. It becomes disrupted with every late nights, irregular meal times, and using our phones in the middle of the night.
  • Extreme circadian instability is what happens when we do not take care of our internal clock. It often leads to a bunch of chronic health problems such as impaired immune function, obesity, and some forms of cancer.
  • The key to reduce the risk of health problems, stability is needed.

When you lack sleep, not only does your circadian rhythm go out of sync but it also further exacerbates difficulties with attention span, mood swings, and changes in memory.

Here are some things you can do to reduce your circadian instability:

  1. Minimize the number of your night shifts
  2. Have the same sleep-wake schedule whether you're at home or during the workdays
  3. Get some sunlight after waking up to cue in your biological clock and raise alertness levels.
  • It is essentially hard to keep track of a routine during times like these; screen time has risen more than usual, meals are often late, and a lot of midnights snacking.
  • By practicing mindfulness it's easier to keep track of day-to-day habits. Mindfulness helps us by guiding us into making a choice on taking better care of ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally.
  • Practice mindfulness through breathing exercises or meditation. Recognize your thoughts and listen to what your body says.

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