Nutrition & Pregnancy: Two Common Ailments, Two Things That Help

NOTE: I am not a Doctor and do not claim to be one. I’m just really good at searching for information on the web. I cannot be held responsible for any bad things which happen to you if you follow my advice – you have been warned. Please consult your Doctor before following any of my advice, ever. If you don’t, you’re an idiot.

There are two really annoying things about being pregnant that are pretty easy to fix with a couple of simple vitamins & minerals.

What I’m talking about are constipation and headaches while pregnant, and things tasting odd while pregnant. (I’ve already covered morning sickness on this blog).

Headaches and Constipation during Pregnancy

This one’s a really easy one, so I’m surprised that more doctors don’t know about the cure.

Signs of a magnesium deficiency include:

  • Migraines
  • Headaches
  • Constipation

Hey, that sounds familiar. So what happens if you take Magnesium supplements when you’re pregnant and have any of these?

They go away. (Although if you take most Magnesium supplements, you may find that you get diarrhea. So you’ll need to get the enteric coated, slow release ones like Slo-Mag).

Why is this? My guess is that as the baby is growing, it’s strip-mining the mother’s body for calcium. Magnesium is needed by the body to process more calcium, and as a result, your magnesium stores get very quickly depleted.

So if you’re getting headaches while pregnant, give it a shot. (Be sure to consult your doctor first though).

Taste Disorders During Pregnancy

Similarly, things just taste damn odd while you’re pregnant. What else causes taste disorders?

Zinc deficiencies.

Your body needs a lot of zinc while you’re pregnant. Some studies show that it actually has a protective effect on the fetus (allowing it – along with folic acid - to undo damage from environmental factors, such as drinking before you knew you were pregnant).

Needless to say, your body is probably going to get strip-mined for Zinc as well. So try to find a slow-release zinc supplement, and give that a shot. You might just find that it’ll help. It may also help with any cramping you’re feeling.

NOTE: I am not a Doctor and do not claim to be one. I’m just really good at searching for information on the web. I cannot be held responsible for any bad things which happen to you if you follow my advice – you have been warned. Please consult your Doctor before following any of my advice, ever. If you don’t, you’re an idiot.

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#Health, #pregnancy, #morning sickness, #headaches
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Getting Interested In Language Design... C++ 2.0 anyone?

One of the things I’ve noticed while programming is the number of times when I’ve found really annoying edge cases in the C++ language that I wish I could fix.

One example – its complete lack of support for tables.

I’d love to be able to define a list of things, with columns of a given type. Under the hood, the compiler would generate arrays for me from the rows of each of the columns.

Why?

Quite simply, the advantage is that there’s a bunch of coherency there that can be exploited. If you create several separate arrays, it’s hard to make sure that they’re all synched up. If the data is all in a single row, you have a hope of keeping it together. Not doing so is just asking for bugs.

Similarly, I’d like the ability to define a struct or class and be able to direct the compiler to split it up into several pieces. The “hot” data would end up in one chunk, the rest in another. Nice for cache coherency. Support for “banding” of structs would also be awesome. (Kind of like based-pointers from the old MSVC extension days).

Along the same lines, built in support for auto-generated serialization code would be freakin’ awesome. Especially if it could handle endianness, and also figure out for inherited classes the most efficient way to serialize the whole kit & caboodle wholesale.

These are all problems for which solutions exist today. Except they’re hacky, hokey and all-round pretty lame.

I may have to just settle for a code-gen solution on the front-end.

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Conduction, Convection and Radiation...

... and the most important of these is Conduction...

So I’m watching Mission to Mars right now, and like Sunshine, it gets the whole idea of being exposed to outer space somewhat… wrong.

Heat’s a finicky thing. What you experience as “heat” is actually a relative measurement for the most part – it’s how hot you are compared to other things.

Heat also only flows from hot things to cold things. To do that, it needs a way to spread the love, and that is where the holy trinity of Conduction, Convection and Radiation come in.

(Why does heat only flow in one direction? Well… think of it this way. Heat doesn’t really flow, per se. It just averages out. So if something cold touches something hot, the heat between the two will slowly average out, making the cold thing warmer, and the hot thing colder. If you think of the hot thing having more energy, logically, the heat will flow into the cold part. But really, it’s just mixing everything up. Now, if you want to do engineering with it, using the concept of heat moving to cold makes everything much easier).

Now, Conduction works best. Molecules vibrate against one another, and those vibrations move really well when those molecules are close together. So for the biggest bang for your buck, you want solid connection.

Convection doesn’t work anywhere near as well – because the molecules are really far apart. Think of Conduction as a Newton’s Cradle, or making the break on a pool table. Convection is the pool game while it’s in play – you can shoot the cue ball anywhere you want, and you might hit one or two, but you’re not going to hit all of the balls. It just doesn’t work anywhere near as well.

Radiation is the last one… and it’s the weakest. Photons don’t carry anywhere near as much energy as smacking little molecules against each other. (The Sun is an exception here, because the Sun outputs an astronomical number of them all the time).

Being in Deep Space

So, here’s the deal right… Space is a vacuum. It’s not cold. In fact, one of the biggest difficulties that satellites have is getting rid of heat, not keeping them warm! (The reason why pictures of satellites usually show them covered in gold foil is because gold is one of the best reflectors of infra-red radiation we have – it’s shielding them from the heat). You won’t lose much body heat to space. You certainly won’t freeze.

According to Nasa, you might get the bends (if you survive without oxygen for 30 minutes… which is unlikely). You won’t explode. You may get a full body hickey. And you may rupture your lungs if you try to hold your breath. Your saliva might boil away, but let’s face it – skin is pretty hardy stuff.

But freeze? No way. No conduction. No convection. All you’ve got is radiation – and believe me, that won’t make that much of a difference to you.

Keeping your House Cool

This also has some applications to keeping your house cool. You can’t do anything about Conduction, so forget about it. During the day, keep your windows and doors closed to prevent convective heat transfer. And cover your windows in aluminum foil to prevent radiative heat transfer.

Then, during the night, set up a fan at the top of your house, blowing air out. And another on the ground floor, pumping air in. Hey presto – it’s the best way to keep your place cool other than buying an AC unit.

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#science fiction, #science fact, #explosive decompression, #vacuum, #no space suit
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Niacin Adventures: Part 2 – Why Raw Food Diets Might Work For Some People

Previous article in series: Niacin Adventures: Part 1 – Nature’s Prozac

A growing number of people believe that raw food diets are good for their mental and physical health.

Now, personally, I’m not a huge believer in this – our teeth, stomachs and brains have evolved to expect a mixture of protein and vegetable matter, and to unlock the vitamins and nutrients in them requires at least some form of cooking.

But, say we go with it… why might it work?

Well, here’s a couple of papers from 1942 that – if my Nicotinic acid theory is correct – might go a long way towards explaining why it helps:

http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/reprint/25/3/275.pdf (The Nicotinic Acid Content of Common Fruits and Vegetables, as Prepared for Human Consumption; W.C. Russell, M.W. Taylor, J.F. Beuck, October 21 1942, The Journal of Nutrition)

http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/reprint/24/2/153.pdf (The Nicotinic Acid Content of Meat, W.J. Dann, P.J. Handler, April 16 1942, The Journal of Nutrition)

The first paper discusses how typical cooking methods cause nicotinic acid to be lost in the process when cooking fresh and canned fruits and vegetables. This can be – especially if you don’t use the cooking water elsewhere in your cooking – anywhere up to 41% of the amount of Vitamin B3 in the food – and we’re talking about typical portions of about 3.5oz here, which typically contain only about .5mg to begin with. (Although if you want a boost, go for peas and asparagus).

The second paper discusses how cooking meat affects the same thing; the result here is that while a lot of meats have more nicotinic acid in them than veggies, they typically lose over half of it during cooking. That, and the best sources for your are chicken breast, chicken liver and other kinds of liver. But, of course, you still lose up to 50% of the nicotinic acid in the food by cooking it. (Not that you’d actually want to eat raw meat, unless it’s carpacchio).

So does this explain the success of raw foods? Maybe in part. It’s only one vitamin; others would need to be studied first. My bet though, is on eating more chicken. And more peas.

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#Health, #cooking, #niacin, #vitamin supplements
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