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Watching food digestion

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Video of the Week #31 February 22nd, 2012

From: What Processed Food Looks Like during Digestion–of Course It’s Not Pretty by Philip Yam at Observations.

Source: Stefani Bardin at Eyebeam

Stefani Bardin, a TEDxManhattan fellow, wants to learn how digestion differs between food chock full of preservatives and food that can actually go bad in a day. To create this video, she and her collaborator swallowed a camera pill along with their meals (which included Gatorade and Gummi bears). The camera—here, called an M2A pill (for “mouth to anus”)—produced a stop-motion video down to the small intestine. Such cameras have limited medical uses, but boy, they sure do create a fun “Fantastic Voyage”-like experience. The video’s actual alimentary angle begins at the two-minute mark.

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  1. 1. David Marjanović 8:12 am 02/23/2012


    Of course digesting whole noodles is going to take a while. I’m not at all surprised they still don’t look chewed after 2 hours.

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  2. 2. Anders 2:42 pm 02/23/2012

    The speaker needs to learn that something isn’t bad, just because it’s derived from petrochemicals.
    Almost all medicine is made that way as well as most vitamins we buy.

    The project is cool. Is there anywhere I can see the findings from pH measurements?
    But: The argument about “derived from petrochemicals” is misguided.

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  3. 3. grbobf 5:27 pm 02/23/2012

    Ms. Stefani Bardin (and the narrator, if different from Ms. Bardin) obviously is NOT OBJECTIVE given her commments regarding the “processed” food “treatment”. First-ever clinical trial to look at the impact of processed food or whole food on the human body? Really???? The “M2A” has a battery with a life of 8 hours (to allow 8 hrs of video recording) and Ms. Bardin says this allows for the creation of “… a stop-motion video from the mouth to the top of the small intestine.” Why not the remainder of the GI tract (at least until the battery “died”)- far from “mouth-2-anus”. We only saw evidence that the person(s) consuming the “processed” ramen noodles DID NOT CHEW them hardly at all – apparently swallowed them “whole”. In this “clinical” trial, 2 subjects each receiving both treatments (“acting as their own control”), there are how many error degrees-of-freedom- any more than 1? Who’s trying to kid who here…. perhaps, its Ms. Bardin who’s kidding herself.

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  4. 4. neilc487 9:02 am 02/24/2012

    Yikes. This could have been really neat but the author’s obvious bias was a big turnoff. And as the other responders have noted, it seems like the subject with the ramen noodles declined to chew. A better test would have been to puree or otherwise finely divide the foods so the only test is of their chemical composition (which seems to be the trait which the author is most concerned about).

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  5. 5. David Marjanović 9:33 am 02/24/2012

    apparently swallowed them “whole”

    In a sense, then, processed food is whole food !!

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  6. 6. moedicum 1:18 pm 02/27/2012

    Agree with @neilc487, grbobf, and Anders. Such a slant betrays an arguably unscientific, rudimentary understanding of biochemistry and physiology.

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