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The Bitter Side of Diet Soda: Strokes !

Drinking diet soda is associated with a 50-percent increase in stroke risk, according to a study presented earlier this month at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles.

Not surprisingly, reaction to the news among dieters has been disparaging and defensive, as each person cycles through the Kubler-Ross five stages of grief, from denial and anger to bargaining, depression and acceptance.

"Now the health police tell us we can't drink Diet Coke," captures the tone on many of the diet blogs.

If it's any consolation for diet-soda fans, the results presented at the meeting — based on preliminary analysis from a 2,500-person subset of the ongoing Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS) — are far from definitive. There's no way to tell yet, for example, what ingredient would be associated with strokes or whether lifestyle choices among drinkers are the real cause.

That said, is drinking diet soda safe? Of course not, especially when it is the main source of liquid refreshment every day. You're drinking copious amounts of phosphoric acid, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and some laboratory-crafted chemical that tricks your brain into perceiving the sensation of sweet.

Diet soda is an alternative to regular soda, but neither is healthy. You are merely trading calories from sugar for chemicals of questionable nature.

Hooked on sugar

The proliferation of diet soda cuts to the core of what's wrong with the Western diet. The Western approach is to remove the most obvious dangers from an unhealthy habit — in this case, removing the 12 teaspoons of sugar per can of fizzy water laced with acids, colors and flavors of uncertain origin — so that we can continue that habit in denial of other dangers.

The underlying problem is that we are addicted to sugar; beverages without a sweetener now seem bland. For the first million years or so of pre-human and human existence, water was adequate to quench our thirst. But apparently no longer.

Hold the sugar and corn syrup and pass the aspartame. Some doctors actually encourage dieters to drink diet soda to cut calories instead of recommending zero-calorie water or tea.

We see this "short-cut" diet phenomenon also among some people who want to be vegetarian. They eat vegetarian hot dogs and other faux-meat dishes made from heavily processed soy and vegetable meal loaded with salt, sugar and fat. This is likely unhealthier than the meat they are shunning.

So, similarly, at issue is that we are so addicted to meat that meals without it no longer seem satiating. To do vegetarianism right, you'd have to learn how to cook lentils, beans, grains and other staples of a vegetarian diet, and that's too consuming for many people.

Writing on the wall

Studies on diet soda have been flawed, because researchers have discounted one important fact: Those drinking diet soda likely drink it not because they are health nuts but because they have a certain health condition. They are either overweight or diabetic. Thus, they are at risk for strokes, heart attacks and cancer regardless of the type of beverage they prefer.

One of the more impressive aspects of the NOMAS project is that researchers can control for weight and other health conditions. It's inevitable that NOMAS and similar studies will tease out the dangers of drinking too much soda in general, either diet or regular.

It is a shame the United States cannot adopt Asia's tradition of unsweetened teas, ubiquitous in shops and vending machines. But even otherwise healthy green tea in the United States is tainted with sugar or artificial sweetener — yet another example of corrupting a healthy alternative.

The bottom line is that dieters need to cycle through those Kubler-Ross stages to reach acceptance: Diet soda is no healthy alternative, and nothing beats water.



Some facts about Human Body

It takes your food seven seconds to get from your motuh to your stomach.

One human hair can support 6.6 pounds.

Human thigh bones are stronger than concrete.

A womans' heart beats faster than a mans.'

There are about one trillion bacteria on each of your feet.

Women blink twice as often as men.

The average persons' skin weighs twice as much as the brain.

Your body uses 300 muscles to balance itself when you are standing still.

If saliva cannot dissolve something, you cannot taste it.

Top 5 Asia Deadliest Foods / A brief look at Asia’s peculiar attraction to freaky foodstuffs

Cobra heart, Vietnam

cobra heart Top 5 Asia Deadliest Foods

It’s been made into TV shows, reported on, blogged about. The badass rep is hardly surprising: when it comes to freakish experiences in Asia, gulping down a live cobra’s heart in Vietnam is hard to beat.

In Vietnam, so-fresh-they’re-still-beating cobra’s hearts are dished up in a couple of ways: some, like Anthony Bourdain, eat the heart raw, followed by a cobra blood chaser. Others, like the Guardian’s Howard Marks, slurp it down with a glass of rice wine.

Cobra hearts are believed to enhance male virility in Vietnam, gastroenterologist Harry Teicher says. He reckons the taste is “like an interesting oyster.”

Balut, Phillippines

balut Top 5 Asia Deadliest Foods
Balut, or half-fertilized duck or chicken egg, eaten in Asia with a pinch of salt — literally. Boiled and lightly seasoned balut can be found all over street food markets in the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, where it’s traditionally seen as an aphrodisiac (though whether the sight of a dead, curled bird fetus can really amp up our libidos remains highly debatable).

Balut is prized among the brave-hearted for its balance of texture and flavors: first there’s sipping the embryo broth, then there’s the shell-peeling, and the chomping down

Fried tarantulas, Cambodia

Fried tarantulas Top 5 Asia Deadliest Foods
The story goes that Cambodians, starving and desperate under the Khmer Rouge rule in the 1970s, started eating fried tarantulas in to stave off their hunger. The practice stuck, and now the fried tarantula, or a-ping, is seen by locals as a mouth-watering delicacy, with beautifying effects to boot.

The market town of Skuon is Cambodia’s veritable Spiderville, thanks to a network of tarantula burrows nearby. The spiders are usually fried with sugar, salt and garlic, and is a mouthful of complex textures, starting from the ‘moreish,’ cod-like head and body , to the disturbingly gooey abdomen. Travel website World Hum advises eaters to go for the brittler ones, with less squishy abdomens.

Blood Clams, Shanghai

BloodClamB Top 5 Asia Deadliest Foods
China’s blood clams single-handedly infected some 310,000 people with hepatitis A in Shanghai in 1988, causing the state to ban the crustacean.

So it may seem like madness that there are still reports of sneaky foodies flouting the ban in the city’s restaurants and black markets.

Eaten immediately after it’s been dipped in hot water, Shanghai’s blood clams reportedly have a raw, briny taste that stands out in a food culture that is all about freshness and mouth feel.

The fact that it’s barely cooked also means it’s a time-bomb of viruses including hepatitis, typhoid and dysentery, thanks to the polluted waterways near Shanghai that the shellfish live in.

Fugu, Japan

fugu1 Top 5 Asia Deadliest Foods
By far the most notorious on Japan’s “been there, done that” circuit, fugu, or puffer fish, contain lethal doses of the poison tetrodotoxin in its organs, to which there is no known anecdote. If not prepared correctly, the dish is known to kill the unfortunate epicure in a slow and terrifying way: the toxin paralyzes the body’s muscles while the victim is fully conscious, and slowly he or she dies from asphyxiation.

When prepared correctly, however, it’s known to leave a thrillingly tingly taste on the tongue. Chefs around Japan have to pass a round of stringent tests to be licensed to serve the fish, but that doesn’t wipe out freak accidents of fugu poisoning, like the death of kabuki actor Bando Mitsugoro after an overkill of four fugu livers in 1975.

Those itching to play Japanese roulette may want to head to Shimonoseki, home to Japan’s largest fugu wholesale market.

by rappin


The world's most expensive handbags (one costs $3.8 million!)

The "1001 Nights Diamond Purse" by House of Mouawad is covered in diamonds. Cost? $3.8 million

Since the fashion industry is constantly recycling past styles and struggling to come up with new concepts, often "in the know" stylish types attempt to get noticed by creating or wearing the most expensive or most extravagant item possible (ahem, Lady Gaga). Until now the big status get was the $20,000 Hermes Birkin bag (made famous by Samantha on "Sex and the City"), but it's nothing compared to House of Mouawad's new "1001 Nights Diamond Purse," which clocks in at a whopping $3.8 million.
Encrusted with over 381 carats of diamonds, this heart-shaped bag has been named the world's most expensive handbag by the Guinness Book of World Records. In it, 4,517 diamonds were used—105 yellow, 56 pink and 4,356 colorless—and it took 10 artisans 1,100 hours to complete. They dedicated four months to the project.
“The Mouawad 1001 Nights Diamond Purse is designed to mesmerize with its lavish attention to detail and elaborate workmanship incorporating thousands of diamonds,” Pascal Mouawad, co-guardian of the House of Mouawad, told the Today Show. The purse was on display at the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition this past weekend, and it is not yet known if there was a buyer.
Crafting luxury items is not new territory for the Dubai-based jewelry company. The House of Mouawad is responsible for creating several of the annual holiday Fantasy Bras for Victoria’s Secret, as worn by Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, Karolina Kurkova, and Selita Ebanks. Their value is estimated at up to $11 million each.
But diamonds are not the only way to make things expensive in fashion these days. Last year a fancy sweatpants craze swept the nation, and designers like Alexander Wang, Thakoon, Bottega Veneta, and Michael Kors offered expensive sweats from $250 up to $1,000. Louis Vuitton had a line of purses that literally resembled trash bags selling for $2,000. United Bamboo introduced $500 outfits for your cat, while Rodarte presented $500 socks. And last, but certainly not least, a brand called Pistol Panties created a $3,000 bedazzled bikini you can't even swim in.
While it's fun to look at (and perhaps make fun of) such lavish fashion items, we're astonished that there are some people out there who actually buy these things! We've rounded up a dozen of the most expensive bags we could find ever in existence. Take a look and let us know if you think they're worth their hefty price tags.

by Joanna Douglas, Shine Staff,