Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesday health trilogy

  • On Boing Boing, travel writer Bob Harris talks about his feet being given a "pedicure" by doctor fish during a visit to Singapore.  The tiny fish eat dead skin (and only dead skin, thankfully) off the feet, making them a useful treatment for people with psoriasis or eczema.  When salons in a few different places in the states have tried to offer this service, they have been swiftly prohibited by health departments concerned about the potential for infection-- though there don't appear to have actually been any cases of people getting infected.  It's currently legal in the UK, but might not be for much longer considering that the same fear has taken hold there, again without any actual instances of infection.  I'd be curious to try it, but it might not be the best idea for a ticklish person.  And anyway, Wikipedia says that it won't work for doctor fish which are kept in an aquarium as pets.  Bummer. 

  • At The Fat Nutritionist, Michelle explains why poor people tend to eat...well, poorly.  It's not because they don't know about nutrition, she says, but because they're obeying the hierarchy of food needs (based on Maslow's hierarchy of needs in general) and prioritizing quantity of calories first.  Being able to eat healthily and thoughtfully really is something you can only do once you have enough money to eat, period, so we should focus on making sure that everyone fits that description first rather than lecturing them out of a Michael Pollan book.  There's also some really interesting discussion in the comments about the extent to which class affects diet.  
  • And in the UK, breast milk ice cream first goes on sale for a very steep £14 per scoop, then is seized and removed from the counters due to complaints from the public and concerns of the Health Protection Agency and the Food Standards Agency.  It is possible to transmit viruses such as hepatitis through breast milk, but I'm guessing the "ew" factor was the primary motivator there, considering that it's also possible to transmit viruses through cow's milk and the solution to preventing transmission of such in both cases is pasteurization.  You wouldn't catch me eating it should it become legal in the states, however, mainly because of that $20 price tag.

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