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I continuously wanted to write on my site something like that. Likewise, the dish sikbaj, one of the most esteemed of the Middle Ages, looks pedestrian on the page: Served hot, it can be repellently sour, but when allowed to cool, it turns out that the sauce becomes a jelly—that magical texture which was one of the glories of European haute cuisine until the late nineteenth century, when packaged gelatin rendered it commonplace.

The French translation of Fudalat al-Khiwan by M. The late Rudolf Grewe produced an excellent translation of the Manuscrito Anónimo before his death, and this should be published at some point; at the moment it languishes in a modern sort of limbo—Grewe wrote it using a word processing program that has fallen out of use. Turkish scholars such as Turgut and Günay Kut, M. The books show late-medieval Turkic influences such as the Central Asian pancake chalpak and the earliest recipes for the modern Middle Eastern staples baklava and dolma stuffed vegetables.

These studies will be able to speculate about local tastes and traditions, but they will have to proceed cautiously—the traditional way of writing a cookbook is what we would call plagiarism and most of the recipes in these books are drawn from various sources.

Other natural subjects include what these books reveal about cooks in their time. Kitab al-Tabikh and Kitab al-Wusla mention some household cooks by name, mostly women. An important subject is the mutual influence of Persian, Arabic and in the thirteenth century and later Turkic cuisines, particularly in the technology of grain foods and dairy products. There were also regional foreign elements, such as Berber and Spanish influences on medieval Moorish cuisine and traces of the Copts of Egypt and Aramaic-speaking Christians of the Fertile Crescent in the east.

Kitab al-Tabikh connects certain dishes with the provincial Persian aristocracy dihqan and Anónimo gives dishes of the saqaliba, a class of European slaves in Moorish Spain.

Maqamat Badi al-Zaman al-Hamadhani Beirut: Dar al-Mashriq, , Prospect Books, , Seuran Toimituksia, , English translation by Charles Perry. The English translation of this important book by Nawal Nasrallah is generally reliable and equipped with extensive glossaries but is somewhat marred by naïve linguistic speculation.

Baghdad seems to have been the first place where cooks experimented with the higher densities of sugar syrup, making possible candies, taffies, and nougat-like sweetmeats. The recipes for them in medieval books are rather uniform, perhaps because of the nature of sugar work but perhaps also reflecting the traditional secretiveness of Middle Eastern confectioners—these might be the only recipes that escaped their freemasonry.

Some years ago the author of this chapter agreed as a favor to a historical recreationist group to vet their translation of the Spanish. In the end he produced virtually a complete new translation directly from the Arabic, serviceable but lacking scholarly apparatus.

He elected to allow the Society for Creative Anachronism to publish it themselves online. Because of the relative abundance of texts from the east, writings about Arab food history have paid less attention to Moorish cuisine. A Concise History with Recipes, trans. University of California, However, Lucie Boelens, La Cuisine andalouse, un art de vivre: Albin Michel, , must be approached with caution, because Boelens relies largely on the notoriously error-ridden Spanish translation of Anónimo and is rather credulous toward certain food myths, such as the idea that the word qahwa already referred to coffee in sixth-century Damascus.

Contrary to the widespread belief that the Turkish peoples ate nothing but yogurt and shish kebab when they were nomads in Central Asia, their staff of life had been the grain they obtained by trade with settled people. Turkish grain cookery later influenced the cuisines of many settled peoples, particularly in the case of certain noodle products and the layered bread yufka which led in Ottoman times to the development of baklava.

Paul Buell and Eugene Anderson Leiden: Barbara Inskip, in Medieval Arab Cookery. Medieval Arab Cookery Totnes, Devon: Routledge Curzon, , Manuela Marin and David Waines, eds. Franz Steiner Verlag, Adapted and illustrated to be posted by Leopoldo Costa. The Aztecs had a complex and diversified pantheon which means ensemble of gods.

Scholars studying the Aztec religion have identified no fewer than gods and goddesses, divided into three groups, with each group supervising one aspect of the universe such as the heaven or the sky; the rain, fertility and agriculture; and finally the war and sacrifice.

Often the Aztec gods were based on older Mesoamerican religions, or shared by other societies of the day. During the great migration from their legendary home of Aztalan, Huitzilopochtli told the Aztecs where they should establish their capital city of Tenochtitlan and urged them on their way. His shrine, on top of the pyramid of the Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan, was decorated with skulls and painted red to represent blood. Tlaloc is associated with fertility and agriculture, and his origins can be traced back to Teotihuacan, the Olmec and the Maya civilizations.

Tlaloc's main shrine was the second shrine after Huitzilopochtli's, located on top of the Templo Mayor, the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan. His shrine was decorated with blue bands representing rain and water. The Aztec believed that the cries and tears of newborn children were sacred to the god, and, therefore, many ceremonies for Tlaloc involved the sacrifice of children.

Tonatiuh Tonatiuh pronounced Toh-nah-tee-uh was the Aztec sun god. He was a nourishing god who provided warmth and fertility to the people. In order to do so, he needed sacrificial blood. Tonatiuh was also the patron of warriors. In Aztec mythology, Tonatiuh governed the era under which the Aztec believed to live, the era of the Fifth Sun; and it is Tonatiuh's face in the center of the Aztec sun stone.

Tezcatlipoca was the patron of the night, of the north, and in many aspects represented the opposite of his brother, Quetzalcoatl. His image has black stripes on his face and he carries an obsidian mirror. Chalchiuhtlicue Chalchiuhtlicue pronounced Tchal-chee-uh-tlee-ku-eh was the goddess of running water and all aquatic elements.

Centeotl Centeotl pronounced Cen-teh-otl was the god of maize, and as such he was based on a pan-Mesoamerican god shared by Olmec and Maya religions. He was closely related to Tlaloc and is usually represented as a young man with a maize cob sprouting from his headdress. He represented the positive counterpart of Tezcatlipoca. He was the patron of knowledge and learning and also a creative god.

Quetzalcoatl is also linked to the idea that the last Aztec emperor, Moctezuma, believed that the arrival of the Spanish conquistador Cortes was the fulfilling of a prophecy about the return of the god. However, many scholars now consider this myth as a creation of the Franciscan friars during the post-Conquest period. Xipe Totec was the god of agricultural fertility, the east and the goldsmiths. He is usually portrayed wearing a flayed human skin representing the death of the old and the growth of the new vegetation.

Mayahuel, The Aztec Goddess of Maguey Mayahuel pronounced My-ya-whale is the Aztec goddess of the maguey plant, the sweet sap of which, aguamiel, was considered her blood. Her name means "The one who give and devours life" and she required many human sacrifices to sustain her. Tlaltechutli represents the surface of the earth, who angrily devours the sun every evening to give it back the next day.

We are constantly being bombarded with health advice, but not all of it is based on rigorous evidence. No one really knows where the eight-glasses idea comes from. Some blame the bottled water industry but plenty of doctors and health organisations have also promoted it over the decades.

The source might be a recommendation by the US National Research Council NRC that adults should consume 1 millilitre of water for each calorie of food, which adds up to about 2. Foods contain water and are broken down chemically into carbon dioxide and more water. So if you are not sweating buckets you need only about a litre a day — and 1. But any talk of glasses is misleading because there is no need to drink pure water. The fluids that people drink anyway, including tea and coffee, can provide all the water we need, says Heinz Valtin, a kidney specialist at Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, New Hampshire, who has reviewed the evidence Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology, vol , p R A comparison of healthy adults in found no difference in hydration whether they got their water from caffeinated drinks or not Journal of the American College of Nutrition, vol 19, p Even one or two mildly alcoholic drinks will hydrate you rather than dehydrating you.

Hydrophilics respond by saying that pure water is better than other drinks. Even this claim is arguable, but the crucial point is that if you are a healthy individual already drinking enough tea, milk, juice or whatever, there is no evidence that swigging down water as well will achieve anything other than making you go to the bathroom all the time. The final aspect of this myth is that we need to force ourselves to drink because by the time we are thirsty we are already seriously dehydrated.

Rolls showed nearly 30 years ago that we get thirsty long before there is any significant loss of bodily fluids. So relax and trust your body. Sugar makes children hyperactive Every parent has seen it happen: But although many parents will find it hard to believe, sugar does not cause hyperactivity. A review of 12 blinded studies, where no one at the time knew which kids had received sugar and which a placebo, found no evidence to support this notion.

The parents of one group were told their children had been given a large dose of sugar, while the others believed their kids were in the placebo group. In reality, all the children had been given sugar-free food. But when the parents watched their offspring at play afterwards, those who thought their kids were in the sugar group were more likely to rate their behaviour as hyperactive Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, vol 22, p In one study, David Benton, a psychologist at Swansea University in the UK, found that in the half-an-hour or so after having a glucose drink, 9 to year-old schoolchildren were better able to concentrate on tasks and scored higher in memory tests Biological Psychology, vol 78, p Non-sugary meals that help the body maintain a constant supply of glucose to the brain are better.

Our bodies can and should be detoxed We live in a toxic world. Your next meal will contain everything from natural poisons to pesticides and pollutants. As a result, the human body is a veritable cesspit of suspect chemicals. The last US National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals found potentially concerning levels of dozens of undesirable substances, including heavy metals, dioxins, PCBs and phthalate plasticisers, in the blood and urine of Americans.

The question is, what can we do about it? But do any of these detox plans actually work? And is detoxing really good for us? For a start, we are already doing it all the time, with the help of our livers, kidneys and digestive systems.

Most of the toxic chemicals we consume are broken down or excreted, or both, within hours. However, it can take weeks, months or even years to get rid of some substances, especially fat-soluble chemicals such as dioxins and PCBs.

If we take these in faster than our bodies can get rid of them, levels build up in our bodies. Many detox programmes promote a period of consuming only fluids and no solid food, but this will make virtually no difference to levels of chemicals that have built up over years.

One study found the level of organochlorines and pesticides in blood shot up by 25 to 50 per cent after people lost a lot of weight quickly Obesity Surgery, vol 16, p Animal studies show that this increases the level of compounds in tissues like the muscles and brain, where they can do more harm than in fat.

This sudden flood of chemicals could even cause the kind of problems detoxers are trying to avoid, says Margaret Sears, an environmental health researcher at the CHEO Research Institute in Ottawa, Canada. With chemicals that the body does eliminate rapidly, such as phthalates, a short fast will lower levels. As soon as you start eating again, says Kortenkamp, levels go back to where they were.

That said, you can greatly reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals like nicotine and alcohol. There is also one way of speeding up the removal of many fat-soluble toxic chemicals that is supported by scientific evidence — producing milk Lipids, vol 36, p While it is possible for women to induce lactation without giving birth — and even for men to lactate — the milk-yourself detox method is probably unlikely to catch on. Antioxidant pills help you live longer It seems blindingly obvious.

As our cells metabolise the food we eat, they produce rogue molecules called free radicals that wreak havoc. Over a lifetime, the damage they do slowly builds up and may cause all kinds of degenerative diseases. Luckily, though, many chemicals can act as antioxidants that mop up free radicals.

Plus, eating vegetables rich in antioxidants seems to reduce the risk of degenerative diseases. So popping pills packed with antioxidants must surely help stave off these diseases too? The Nobel prizewinning chemist Linus Pauling enthusiastically promoted high doses of vitamins without waiting for the evidence, the public lapped it up and a whole new industry sprang up to meet demand.

Then, in the s, the results of rigorous trials of some of the most popular supplements, including beta carotene, vitamin E and vitamin C, started to come in. Study after study has found that while these substances do work as antioxidants in the test tube, popping the pills does not provide any benefit. On the contrary, some studies suggest that they are harmful. A review of nearly 70 trials involving , people concluded that not only do antioxidant supplements not increase lifespan, but that supplements of beta carotene and vitamins A and E actually seem to increase mortality Journal of the American Medical Association, vol , p Perhaps because high levels of free radicals tell cells to ramp up their own built-in antioxidant defences, says Barry Halliwell, a biochemist at the National University of Singapore.

He thinks these internal defences are far more effective than the antioxidants we get from food. So by taking supplements we may be deactivating a first-rate defence mechanism and replacing it with a poorer one Nutrition Reviews, vol 70, p If this is right, the benefits of vegetables may have nothing to do with antioxidants.

One suggestion is that vegetables are beneficial because they are mildly poisonous — a little poison may activate protective mechanisms that ward off disease. In the meantime, the antioxidant juggernaut rolls on. No one seems keen to abandon the idea that antioxidant supplements are good for you. A body mass index of over 40 increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers and increases the risk of dying from any cause by up to 29 per cent.

This is not a health myth. But carrying just a few extra pounds, far from being a one-way ticket to an early grave, seems to deter the grim reaper, according to a recent review of nearly a hundred studies involving nearly 3 million people.

Perhaps carrying a few extra pounds in reserve helps the body fight off illness or infection. Perhaps overweight people are more likely to receive medical attention.

Whatever the reason, Flegal says her finding is not a green light to eat all the pies. Overweight people might be more likely to develop diseases that affect the quality of life, for instance.

Even so, it seems that a little bit of flab may not be the crime against health it has always been made out to be. They evolved for running around hunting game and gathering fruit and vegetables. This, they argued, is the reason why diabetes, heart disease and cancers are rife. It involves eating game, fish, fruit, vegetables and nuts, and avoiding grains, dairy, legumes, oils, refined sugars and salt. Some aspects, such as exercising more and eating less highly processed grains and sugars, agree with the latest evidence.

But others, such as ditching grains, legumes and dairy, do not. And the underlying rationale is flawed. Our ancestors were not perfectly adapted to their lifestyles, and we have adapted to our agricultural diet. For instance, many people have extra copies of genes for digesting the starch found in grains. The ability to digest milk as an adult — lactose tolerance — has also evolved independently in several populations.

The original proponents of the discordance hypothesis still stand by their idea, but they have revised it in light of the latest evidence. Eaton and Konner now include low-fat dairy products and whole grains in their recommended foods Nutrition in Clinical Practice, vol 25, p By Caroline Williams in "New Scientist",vol.

Adapted and illustrated do be posted by Leopoldo Costa. New technologies will make it easier to manipulate animal genomes, but food products from genetically engineered animals face a long road to market.

Phytase, an enzyme that breaks down phosphorus-containing phytate in plants, is produced by the gut bacteria of cows and other ruminants, but it is not made by pigs. The researchers screened the animals for levels of phytase production in the salivary glands, narrowing the field to the four most promising.

The Enviropig, as it came to be known, produced manure with lower levels of phosphorus, notorious for leaching into groundwater beneath pig farms and fueling algal growth in local streams and lakes.

The transgene would also eliminate the high cost of adding mineral phosphorus or commercially produced phytase to feed to ensure that the pigs get the nutritional phosphorus they need. Forsberg and his colleagues submitted the Enviropig for regulatory review by the US government in , and to Canadian agencies two years later, and the assessments, while slow and still preliminary, had been positive, Forsberg says.

But like most plants or animals whose genomes have been engineered, commonly called genetically modified GM organisms, the pigs were not so well received by the public.

The following May, the researchers euthanized their herd and withdrew their applications from regulatory review. The Enviropig was dead. In the past 30 years, dozens of GM animals have been developed, none managing to get a foothold in a market that is wary of genetically engineered food products in general, and GM meat in particular.

I made my first transgenic sheep in We were all making [GM] mice before that, with an eye toward agriculture. Of course, even if the GM salmon, developed by Massachusetts- based AquaBounty Technologies, is approved for human consumption, a GM-resistant public does not make for a fertile market. Such resistance has stunted funding, limiting the amount and scale of research into developing GM food animals.

Some projects have moved to other countries in search of a more welcoming climate; others, like Enviropig, have discontinued work altogether.

The field may be at a turning point, however. The product closest to approval is the AquAdvantage salmon, created by Garth Fletcher and colleagues at Memorial University of Newfoundland in with the insertion of a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon and a promoter from the eel-like ocean pout into fertilized Atlantic salmon eggs.

The only difference is that the GM fish grow nearly twice as fast while consuming 25 percent less food. To prevent escape and interbreeding with wild fish, the AquAdvantage salmon are all female and triploid like many farm-raised fish , making them sterile, and they are kept in inland, indoor enclosures with multiple physical barriers between them and the outside world.

Thanks to these measures, a environmental impact assessment found that breeding these salmon will likely not harm wild fish.

In fact, for a brief period about 10 years ago, the agency even included language in its calls for proposals essentially stating that researchers hoping to develop GM animals for agricultural purposes need not apply. And much of the research on genetically altered livestock rests in the hands of academics who depend on such public funds, as the field lacks big industrial backers. But how—and when—will the government rule? A similar international meeting in Argentina in drew researchers and regulators from more than 30 countries.

Why fight the GM battle? Despite the regulatory, financial, and social uncertainties that accompany the development of GM livestock, some researchers are forging ahead to design animals that could serve as founders for future human food products. Advocates of the approach argue that GM technologies stand to improve animal welfare, reduce disease both animal and human , and expedite production, as well as create enriched animal products that could help feed a growing populace and prevent nutritional deficiencies.

Many have focused on the antibacterial proteins lysozyme and lactoferrin, which are found in extremely high abundance in human breast milk, but are absent from most animal milks. Scientists are also trying to create cows that produce low-lactose or allergen-free milk. Other researchers are hoping to develop animals that grow faster or produce more-nutritious meat. Genetic engineers have also sought to protect food animals from lethal pathogens.

In , molecular virologist Laurence Tiley of the University of Cambridge and colleagues published their work on GM chickens that express an RNA decoy that distracts the avian influenza virus from replication.

The birds were partially resistant to the disease, and the researchers are now working to improve the efficacy of the molecular deception. The expression of bits of viral RNA blocks the activity of the transcripts involved in viral replication.

Researchers around the world are using this approach to develop transgenic fish that are resistant to viral hemorrhagic septicemia VHS , a deadly fish disease that affects more than 50 types of fish, including many commercially relevant species. The important step now is to demonstrate how these animals can have a positive impact on agriculture, researchers agree.

Precisely natural Something that might go a long way toward winning over a GM resistant public is the advent of new, precision genome editors. Because the tools are more exact, researchers are able to mimic naturally occurring genomic alterations, by tweaking a gene to match an allele found in related populations. So far, the researchers have successfully used the editors to develop cell lines with the desired genotype,6 and they hope to soon use these cells to create GM dairy cows that, hopefully, will lack horns.

Dehorning dairy cows is a labor-intensive, dangerous, and costly process that dairy farmers would be happy to avoid. Last fall he and colleagues announced the generation of five founder pigs7 carrying mutations in the RELA gene 8 of the NF-k signaling cascade, a key regulator of the immune responses that drive symptoms of African swine fever.

The mutations rendered the genes only partially functional, just like those of wild African pigs, which are remarkably resistant to the deadly virus. I just cannot see any risk attached to it whatsoever. Perhaps something more than precision genome editing will be necessary to win over a wary public. Les mêmes coutumes, les mêmes moeurs.

Ils avaient les mêmes croyances et priaient les mêmes dieux. Enfin, les objets de leur vie quotidienne et leur façon de vivre étaient semblables. Le tout était clos et parfois protégé par des palissades.

Celles-ci se partageaient les silos et les greniers et exploitaient les terres alentour. Le véritable bouleversement du IIe siècle avant J. Certaines de ces enceintes pouvaient atteindre des dimensions considérables. Son enceinte de 7 kilomètres de long a dû nécessiter 60 tonnes de métal pour produire les tiges de fer qui reliaient les piquets de la palissade entre eux.

Situées souvent à proximité des sources de matières premières, ces villes servaient probablement de centre de production pour un vaste arrière-pays.

Des légumes tels que les carottes, le chou ou le navet complétaient ce régime. On retrouve sur les sites des habitats des preuves de consommation de boeuf, de mouton ou de porc, mais aussi de cheval et de chien.

On sait aussi, grâce au témoignage du géographe grec Strabon au Ier siècle avant notre ère, que les Celtes étaient de grands consommateurs de lait et de fromage. Le banquet était prétexte à affirmer son rang. A la fin du IIe siècle avant J. Le découpage de la viande et la part attribuée à chacun était aussi fonction de son rang. Le don répondait à un rituel bien établi et déterminait le statut: Grassement rétribués, des louangeurs professionnels étaient présents pour vanter les mérites de leur protecteur et dénigrer leurs rivaux.

Ils témoignent des échanges de produits de prestige entre les aristocraties des mondes celtes et méditerranéens. Sur 1 sites fouillés, amphores liées à la consommation du vin ont été retrouvées.

Le territoire était constitué de puissantes confédérations de peuples, elles-mêmes unies par des institutions communes, les civitates. Le reste de la tribu se plaçait sous la protection et la dépendance de ces hommes puissants.

En revanche, la littérature celtique irlandaise du début de notre ère décrit une organisation clanique plus archaïque. Les clans, fondés sur des liens familiaux, étaient organisés en petites tribus qui se partageaient un territoire et étaient gouvernées par un roi. On comptait environ de ces petites royautés en Irlande. La femme celte ne semble effectivement pas être économiquement soumise à son époux. Dans La Guerre des Gaules, on apprend ainsi que lors du mariage les deux époux mettent leurs biens en commun et que le survivant hérite du capital.

Les femmes guerrières sont très présentes dans la tradition irlandaise. On en trouve le souvenir dans la mythologie celtique où le héros Cuchulainn est initié aux secrets des arts de la guerre par des femmes. Celles-ci pouvaient aussi accéder à la royauté, comme Boudicca, reine des Icènes et chef de guerre qui combattit envahisseur romain ou encore de Cartimandua, reine des Brigantes, qui divorça de son époux pour épouser son écuyer.

Sur le continent, on trouve également des sépultures féminines, probablement héritières de lignées royales, dont le mobilier prestigieux rivalise de luxe avec les grandes tombes des princes. Venait ensuite Beltane, passage de la saison sombre à la saison claire, fêtée le 1er mai. Suivait, le 1er août, Lugnasad, la fête des grandes assemblées.

Elle était la plus dangereuse aussi, car les frontières avec le monde des morts se trouvaient abolies et les esprits pouvaient alors errer parmi les vivants. En dehors de ces grandes fêtes annuelles, les Celtes procédaient à un découpage très précis du temps. Des calendriers gaulois ont été retrouvés. Les corps étaient ensevelis habillés et revêtus de parures qui reflétaient leur statut: Mais à partir du IIe siècle avant J.

On y trouve des objets en or, des amphores, de la vaisselle. Le tout disposé selon une logique qui échappe encore aux chercheurs. Le géographe romain Pompolius Mela en témoigne autour de 43 après J. Adapté pour être posté par Leopoldo Costa. Procurarsi il cibo è un bisogno primario. Perché la metà degli abitanti degli Stati Uniti è sovrappeso mentre i giapponesi sono il popolo più magro e longevo? Perché la statura media negli ultimi secoli è aumentata in molti paesi del mondo?

Le risposte vanno cercate nei loro piatti. I primi uomini comparsi sulla Terra avevano probabilmente una dieta non molto diversa da quella di altre scimmie antropomorfe gorilla e scimpanzé: Più, forse, carcasse di animali cacciati dai grandi predatori. E occasionalmente qualche piccolo roditore catturato. Il risultato fu un eccezionale sviluppo del sistema nervoso e un aumento del volume del cervello.

Questi cambiamenti furono accompagnati da un mutamento climatico nel continente africano, dove quasi certamente nacque la specie umana: Le prime comunità di cacciatori-raccoglitori erano necessariamente nomadi perché dovevano spostarsi ogni volta che si esaurivano le risorse del territorio che avevano occupato fino a quel momento. Bisognava cominciare a produrlo da sé, il pane quotidiano.

A queste seguirono fave, piselli, lenticchie e lino. Alcune piante di questa varietà erano portatrici di una mutazione che indeboliva fino a farla scomparire la gluma, cioè il rivestimento dei chicchi. La storia della diffusione della patata, per esempio, è stata ricostruita solo con difficoltà. Curioso anche il caso dello zucchero. Non solo le piante furono addomesticate: Dopo il cane, fu la volta della capra, tra 9mila e 10mila anni fa, alla quale seguirono pecore, mucche e maiali da cui ricavare latte, carni e pellami.

Nel caso di bovini e suini si selezionarono anche gli individui più docili, più facili da gestire e nel caso delle mucche da usare per il lavoro nei campi. I resti più antichi di bovini addomesticati risalgono al a. Il bufalo indiano fu addomesticato alcuni millenni più tardi intorno al a.

Asino e cavallo hanno invece una storia a parte. Il cavallo, invece, forniva sia latte il latte di puledra fermentato è ancora oggi molto popolare in Asia sia carne si stima che ancora oggi in tutto il mondo si mangi mezzo milione di tonnellate di carne di cavallo. In Giappone, circondato da uno dei mari più ricchi del pianeta, fu invece il pesce crudo a finire nei piatti nazionali.

E a garantire longevità ai suoi abitanti. B, C, D e acido folico. E tutte causate da una dieta particolarmente limitata, priva di componenti essenziali: E se oggi il cibo risponde ancora al bisogno di sfamarsi in molti Paesi poveri, nel mondo industrializzato si lotta, forse per la prima volta, con il problema opposto: Responsabili sono la facile disponibilità di cibi ricchi di grassi e zuccheri e gli stili di vita.

Per capire se questo sia stato o no un vantaggio evolutivo serviranno forse altre migliaia di anni. Due esempi che hanno avuto entrambe le cause, scelti tra i periodi più recenti, sono il terribile inverno del nei Paesi Bassi e la carestia di un secolo prima in Irlanda. Questo è stato un importante vantaggio evolutivo che ha permesso ai nostri antenati di includere nella loro dieta i carboidrati, invece che limitarsi ai frutti ancora oggi dieta-base delle scimmie. Due novità favorirono quella svolta.

La prima fu la ferrovia: Destinazione finale delle vacche era Chicago, la capitale dei macelli dove erano nate le prime catene di lavorazione alimentare industriale. Compilati e adattati per essere postato per Leopoldo Costa. The ancient region of Mesopotamia has fascinated, enthralled and perplexed historians and scientists for thousands of years. Unlike the ancient empire of Greece, or even Egypt, it was not a united nation. Made up of a vast collection of varied cultures, city-states and beliefs, Mesopotamia was a land of multiple empires and diverse civilisations.

It is perhaps thanks to this variety that Mesopotamia gave birth to what we recognise as civilisation today. The list of Mesopotamian innovations is endless, and it is difficult to contemplate how modern life would be without them. Mesopotamia was home to the first ever cities, writing took form there and the oldest wheeled vehicles in the world were found in Mesopotamian ruins.

Animals were domesticated, humanity came on leaps and bounds in agriculture, innovative new tools were crafted, weapons were swung and wine was drunk. Mesopotamians were the first people to study the night sky, track the Moon and declare that there were 60 minutes in an hour, and 60 seconds in a minute.

Mesopotamia was driven by religion, and it was one of the few things that united the lands that made up the region. From this religion sprang customs, moral codes and social hierarchy. In many ways the Mesopotamians were ahead of their time, as women were regarded as individuals in their own right, free to own land, file for divorce and run businesses.

The Mesopotamian version of the Creation story declared that the world was formed when the gods achieved victory over the forces of chaos, and the same could be said in the creation of Mesopotamia itself. Mesopotamia lay between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which today flow through modern day Turkey, Iraq and Syria. All the regions of Mesopotamia experienced different geography, which led to variation in how people there lived.

These floods went hand in hand with periods of drought. However, the swelling rivers helped to create very fertile soil that supported plants even with minimal rainfall, and allowed boats to be used as a quick means of transportation. Mesopotamians became skilled farmers and traded their crops for resources they were lacking, such as building materials like wood, metal and stone.

The people took advantage of the ready supply of water by building canals to support the trade network and were able to flourish in spite of the lack of natural resources in some areas. The rise of civilisation Three of the major cultures that arose in Mesopotamia a The rise of civilisation nd influenced society: The southernmost region of Mesopotamia, Sumer comprised modern day southern Iraq and Kuwait.

Sumer was first inhabited in approximately BCE, or possibly even earlier. It is in Sumer that the first cities in the world were established, starting with Uruk. Its earliest days are a mystery lost to rising sea levels, but from BCE the famous king Hammurabi came into power and the city of Babylon — built upon the Euphrates river — became the beating heart of Mesopotamia.

It drove technological, scientific and warfare developments in Mesopotamia. The Assyrian empire gradually expanded to unite most of the Middle East, increasing their power and wealth to become a formidable force. Mesopotamia was home to some of the very first cities in existence, leading many to link it to the birth of true civilisation.

The origin of these cities is still unknown today, although many theories exist. One suggestion is that the development and building of temples created a place where people would gather, and thus served as points of contact between different groups of people. Others believe that people sought sanctuary from natural disasters. As the Mesopotamians were able to develop technology to help them control the nearby rivers, such as levees, they could ensure a good crop.

They had no need to be nomadic, and were able to settle in one place comfortably. It is for this reason that all the early cities were built along the two major rivers. From the moment the Sumerians began to form these cities, it forever altered human history. People went from being ruled by nature, to attempting to control it and make it work for them. By BCE the first recorded city rose in the form of Uruk. However, the only urban structure at this point was the temple, which regulated all economic and social matters.

The central purpose of these early cities was to help regulate trade, as southern Mesopotamia was reliant on outside resources. This need encouraged the spread of urbanisation. However, communication between the cities was difficult, so each city developed into an individual city-state. This led to territorial disputes and, inevitably, war. In order to keep their cities protected, the Mesopotamians built fortifications, and walled cities rose.

Migration to these cities increased, and more buildings were erected. Cities gradually expanded and rulers were proclaimed, who then began looking outwards for trade and conquest.

Towering temples Ziggurats were temples built on high, stepped platforms. The stepped towers were mainly constructed from sun-dried bricks layered between reeds. It is believed that many ziggurats featured a shrine at the top, but no examples of this remain. Although their exact purpose cannot be verified, it is known that ziggurats were linked to religion, and each ziggurat was connected to large temple complexes.

There was a belief in Mesopotamia that the gods resided in the Eastern mountains; therefore building high temples would more closely connect the people with god, linking heaven with Earth. A practical purpose of the high platforms was to escape any rising floodwater that rushed into the lowlands. The structure of the ziggurat, which was accessible only by three stairways, also ensured that the rituals conducted within remained secret and sacred. But what exactly does this mean? Is civilisation simply people living together, or does it involve more?

Agriculture had emerged by BCE, and art was produced for thousands of years before Mesopotamia rose. However, Mesopotamia took these aspects of human culture and transformed them into civilisation as we know it today.

Brought together by a common goal — to find food — the Mesopotamians developed some of the earliest writing known to man, borne out of necessity to record accounts and crop yields. However, it later developed to represent more abstract ideas. As people were gathered together, spiritual practices were also refined, and the population began to share a common belief system. With this established, the priests, who claimed to be able to communicate with the gods, took their place at the top of the social hierarchy, and slowly a class system developed.

This emphasis on religion inspired moral codes, which led to formal rules and, in turn, punishment for those who disobeyed. A steady food supply meant the Mesopotamians could pursue other aspects of life, such as technology and science.

They made ground-breaking advancements in the areas of mathematics and medicine. However, this social structure also revealed the darker aspects of humanity, such as war, slavery and expansion, and with so many people gathered together, diseases spread rapidly.

As the civilisation developed, it inevitably had an influence on other cultures. It is believed that Babylonian astronomy influenced Greece, India and even China. The early Mesopotamian codes of laws also had a profound effect on lawmaking in the Near East, and the introduction of taxes and a standing army influenced countries worldwide. In fact, historians are still exploring the huge impact that Mesopotamia had on the ancient world, and the world we live in today.

The creation of writing Writing began in Mesopotamia towards the end of the 4th millennium BCE as a way to record crucial information about crops and taxes in pictorial form.

These early tablets developed into a script, which bears close resemblance to writing today. This system of writing is commonly known as cuneiform and comprised of wedge shaped marks in clay.

Gradually the number of characters used in cuneiform decreased from 1, to around , which ensured more clarity in the script. By BCE cuneiform was advanced enough to portray emotions such as fear and hope. Health care Medicine in Mesopotamia involved a combination of religious rituals and physical treatments. Mesopotamia had specific doctors with their own offices, beds and equipment and generally fell into two categories — the ashipu, who practised religious medicine, and the asu, who used herbal remedies.

Generally these two doctors would work together to treat an ailment. The ingredients used in the various treatments ranged from turtle shell and snakeskin to figs and seeds. Mesopotamian doctors recorded their methods of treatment and diagnosis in medical texts like the Treatise of Medical Diagnosis and Prognosis. Thou shalt obey Law codes as we know them were first seen in Mesopotamia.

One of the earliest is the Code of Hammurabi, which features laws dealing with a huge variety of issues in great detail, from marriage to theft. For example, if a man rents a boat to a sailor and it is wrecked, the sailor has to give the man a new boat. Although it is the most well-known, the Code of Hammurabi was pre-dated by other law codes, such as the code of Lipit-Ishtar and those written by the Sumerian king Ur-Nammu, who described the purpose of his laws as protecting the weak from the mighty.

Only the strong shall lead Mesopotamia was made up of several city-states which each had their own leaders and government, with kings ruling over individual regions. This led to a lot of internal fighting between different kings for land and resources. The first kings were the leaders of armies, who then went on to continue to lead during peacetime.

Some of these kings, such as Sargon, sought to unite many of the city-states under one leader and capital. Mesopotamian money Mesopotamians used silver rings thousands of years before the first coins were made. Prior to this, clay tokens in a variety of sizes and shapes were used for trade and barter.

A wheely late invention The wheel was actually invented at a surprisingly late point of human history, with the oldest example from Mesopotamia dating to BCE, in the Bronze Age.

It is likely that the wheel was developed individually by different cultures around the same time. Evidence shows that Mesopotamians used this invention for pottery first, before adapting the design for transport with chariots. Wheels did offer advantages to transportation, but they took a great deal of time to make as smooth as possible, so sledges were still commonly used alongside the wheel. The basis of time The Mesopotamians were trailblazers in their concept of time. They were the first in recorded history to use a base 60 numerical system that led to our second minutes and minute hours.

Many believe that this helped the Babylonians make such impressive advances in mathematics, as 60 has many divisors. They also used a lunar calendar, which comprised 12 lunar months, at an average of This left the Mesopotamians short by around 11 days a year, so they added seven months in each year period to keep the seasons aligned. Are any of them actually worth eating? Such are the promises of so-called superfoods, an ever-expanding category of nutrient-rich foods credited with allmanner of miraculous health-giving properties — and often priced to match.

We are certainly swallowing the hype. In a recent survey of more than UK adults, 61 per cent admitted to buying a food because they considered it a superfood. Are we being ripped off? On the following four pages, we consider the claims of individual superfoods, from goji berries to beetroot juice and powdered baobab. But before we do, some context. In , the European Union banned the word on packaging unless it refers to a specific claim based on convincing research from an approved list.

There are no such regulations in the US, but the Food and Drug Administration can take action if they find any claims to be false or misleading. Even where claims are not directly misleading, scratch the surface of the scientific jargon designed to attract health conscious consumers and things quickly get murky. Sure, studies often show that concentrated extracts or isolated compounds found in abundance in certain foods have particular effects in a Petri dish or a mouse.

But that does not mean they work in the same way when people eat them. Reliable, long-term studies to support most claims are thin on the ground. For the average punter doing the weekly shop, it can all get a bit confusing.

Are the things we call superfoods any better for us than ordinary, every day fruit and veg? Read on to find out.

But Chinese medicine also prizes ground-up rhino horn — and there is precious little research identifying the supposedly unique active ingredients in goji berries, never mind measuring their health benefits.

According to a recent review of in vitro and mouse research, they can stop tumour growth, regulate blood sugar, protect eye and liver cells from free-radical damage and improve sperm motility. There are reasons to be sceptical. First, few studies definewhat LBPs are. Polysaccharides are long-chain carbohydrate molecules, but in the goji berry literature, LBPs appear to include carbohydrate chains linked to proteins — collections that are not typically considered polysaccharides.

So even if the studies of LBP extracts turn out to be reliable, their relevance to you is far from clear.

The other big claim is that goji berries contain high levels of zeaxanthin, a compoundlinked to the prevention of age-related degeneration in eye cells. And although goji berries do contain more vitamin C than blueberries, you get roughly the same amount from strawberries or lemons. KALE Blended in smoothies, baked into crisps, blanched or raw in salads: Its main selling point is a family of sulphur-containing plant chemicals called glucosinolates that give all dark-green vegetables their characteristic bitter taste.

Glucosinolates are broken downin the gut to release glucose and isothiocyanates, which have been shown to stimulate enzymeswhosejob it is to eliminate cancer-causing chemicals. This much has been shown in animal research and it is supported by studies linking higher consumption of glucosinolate-rich brassicas to a lowered risk of cancer in humans, particularly that of the gut and lungs.

Given that all brassicas contain similar stuff in similar amounts, however, kale is no better than white cabbage or Brussels sprouts. One analysis revealed that several varieties of cabbage contain as many glucosinolates as kale. Super, but no more than other types of cabbage. QUINOA A handful of human studies have shown that replacing cereals with quinoa, a seed that is cooked like a grain, can reduce blood cholesterol and help people lose weight.

But the sample sizes are so small that it is difficult to draw firm conclusions. According to one recent review, such benefits are typically attributed to chemicals called saponins, thought to work by altering the permeability of the gut. It may also be because they produce a bitter taste that puts people off eating too much. Either way, washing your quinoa before eating it, as many people do, removes the saponins and thus the benefits they might bestow.

So although quinoa is a good addition to your diet, there is no compelling health reason to favour it over staples like rice or wheat. Eat if you like it, not for health benefits. A study of 93, women, for instance, showed that participants who ate three or more portions of blueberries and strawberries a week had a 32 per cent lower risk of a heart attack than those who chomped berries once a month or less. Such benefits are typically attributed to a compound called anthocyanin, part of a family of plant chemicals called flavonoids, found in particularly high levels in blueberries and red berries such as strawberries and raspberries.

These get into the bloodstreamin far higher quantities than the original compounds, says McDougall. There could be other explanations. Maybe some other component stimulates your own free-radical defences. Or perhaps anthocyanins act as benevolent gardeners for your colon microbiome, nudging it towards a healthier mix. Super, though no better than many other berries. The most commonly heard health claims centre on chemicals called flavanols, found in cocoa beans.

Studies with cell cultures and rats have shown that cocoa flavanols increase production of nitric acid, a precursor to nitric oxides, which are known to relax blood vessels and regulate blood pressure.

Human studies, on the other hand, have produced conflicting results. A solid-looking review concluded that flavanol-rich chocolate, meaning the dark and bitter stuff, may slightly reduce blood pressure — at least in the short term. But long-term trials are needed to see if the effects last. Duane Mellor, a nutrition scientist at the University of Canberra in Australia, who has spent years researching the health benefits of cocoa flavanols, is cautious.

Fine occasionally, but no health reason to gorge. Its particular mix of calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C is supposed to make it a potent elixir for energy release and immune function. Hence you can now buy baobab powder to add to your drinks. The trouble is, there is no indication as to why this particular blend would be so beneficial. If there are any particular benefits to be had from powdered baobab, they might lie in its ability to slow down the release of sugars from other foods.

A recent human study showed that adding baobab powder to white bread significantly reduced sugar release for up to an hour after eating it as part of a meal.

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