Posts by Bart Janssen

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  • Polity: Is being a tax haven worth it?,

    Will no one think of the lawyers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4064 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Talking past each other:…, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    but who pays? the offender or the victim?

    And that's very much the core of a number of folks objection to a tax.

    The answer is yes the consumer pays but it has also had a huge impact on the producers. Tobacco companies have shrunk hugely over the last two decades, those that remain have shifted their markets to countries without tobacco taxes and diversified.

    So both ends of the chain were affected.

    It would be nice if there was a way of only affecting the producer but I haven't seen a method that works anywhere with any product. The only thing I've seen work consistently across multiple products and multiple markets is taxation/duty/excise with a large dose of marketing control (ie limit advertising).

    It isn't perfect, it affects some groups more than others and in some cases it's really hard to balance that, not impossible but hard.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4064 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Talking past each other:…, in reply to Rebecca Gray,

    You know I’d say that “experimenting with your diet to see what makes you feel better” is one instance in which it’s perfectly valid to make calls based on a n=1 sample.

    I don't disagree that you should be free to experiment with yourself. I just wish they'd do the reverse test as well. So if removing X from the diet is associated with feeling Y going away then if later on you add X back then Y should come back as well.

    That said it's really easy to fool yourself when examining data from an experiment where n is nice and big and everything else is controlled in the lab (observer bias). The potential for fooling yourself where n = 1 and you are both the observer and the data is significant :).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4064 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Talking past each other:…, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Not sure what to make of this talk about mental health and nutrition.
    But I’m pretty sure I’ve read about sugar having a big effect on gut microbiome.

    Me neither. There are some pretty strong but very specific examples of foods (not drugs) affecting mental state. But beyond that there seems to be a general mumbled consensus that it's possible and plausible but we just don't know.

    We are starting to learn that our gut has senses, there is good evidence for a direct satiety sense in the upper intestine that seems to have a direct line to the brain. How that interacts with the gut microbiome and how that can be affected by general diet doesn't seem to be clear.

    To return to the original subject of sugar there does seems to be some pretty deep suspicion in that field that sugars, specifically fructose (which is half of white sugar and most of high-fructose corn syrup) causes some big changes in gut biome diversity and loss of diversity. But the field is just too new to be able to say "this bacteria should be 2% or you will get X".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4064 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Talking past each other:…, in reply to Hebe,

    Peeled (no green to alert him) zucchini

    Also mixed into meatballs. Not so much to sneak veges in but because they add flavour and moisture.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4064 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Talking past each other:…, in reply to steven crawford,

    ‘My food bags’

    They also give you new ideas. Sometime the hardest part of sorting out dinner is coming up with an idea.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4064 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Talking past each other:…, in reply to Russell Brown,

    There seem to be gut-related issues with autism and it is rare to find a person on the spectrum, and even close family members, who do not have some long-standing digestive issues. The MindsforMinds group at Auckland University has been doing some work on this.

    It would good to know some non-bogus stuff about this. My older son has uncomfortable – and sometimes socially inappropriate – belching problems.

    A question for both of you. Do people on the spectrum tend to want have more diverse or less diverse diets?

    I would have guessed they'd prefer more predictable (less diverse) eating habits. If that's true you might predict they'd have less diverse gut biomes. I guess my feeling from what I've read thus far is I'd probably be inclined to treat gut problems now by adding to the diet rather than subtracting - that is very much a personal guess though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4064 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Talking past each other:…, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Informed consent?

    Hmmm yeah kinda. Informed usually means some good understand of all the risks and expected outcomes. I somehow doubt everyone who experiments on themselves is as informed as an ethics committee would normally require if they were subjects in a scientific study.

    But yeah it's their body to do with as they wish.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4064 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Talking past each other:…, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    you’d have been speaking as one of the grass guys

    heh the plant side of that idea is much closer to my specialty but even then it isn't an area where I'd be comfortable writing a grant today but I would have the background to read the literature and understand it well enough to probably write a decent grant after a month or so of heavy reading. I'd almost certainly try and get a collaborator who is a real grass expert though.

    This http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369526613001672 is my real focus.

    The animal side of that is far enough outside my expertise that I'd never try and write a grant to do that work but I'd be comfortable that I'd understand any seminar on the subject.

    It really is a problem with any scientific expertise nowadays. We are all very specialised, we can usually read and understand (and potentially explain) much wider. But the trap in some fields is you may not know the sometimes very technical weaknesses in any given research.

    While I do describe myself now as a plant developmental biologist - I trained as a molecular biologist (gene jockey) which means I'm comfortable with most things about DNA and RNA but often less comfortable with the organism the DNA came from :).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4064 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Talking past each other:…, in reply to Rebecca Gray,

    but I will say the home-fermented pickles are really tasty so, hell, why not

    This is one reason why I'm comfortable suggesting these things. None of the suggestions is inconsistent with generally "good eating" and many are damn tasty.

    Moz

    via an exclusion diet

    a couple of comments, apparently as we get older we tend to lose some ability to process lactose - not a complete loss though. So often folks find reducing but not eliminating works well.

    The other comment is I get the feeling a lot of folks try eliminating parts of their diet to deal with some problem or another. And if they feel better they never reintroduce that part of their diet. If the change in diet and feeling better was a coincidence that means they lost some diversity in their diet. While it may not be fun to check I'd personally want to see if reintroducing the food caused the problem again.

    I also wonder about some folks (not specifically you Moz) who progressively exclude elements of their diet and end up with a very narrow diet which would probably lead to a less diverse gut microbiome which is generally thought to be less ideal. And yes I am aware some folks have to restrict their diet for real reasons.

    It also fascinates me that people are so happy to experiment on themselves. These are really experiments with a sample of one and huge observer bias. I get why people do it but then often those same people are very concerned about scientists or big pharma/business experimenting on them - it's ... odd.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4064 posts Report Reply

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