Hey there and welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast – the weekly English show where we speak about everything under the sun. The major goal of this show is to help you improve your English and of course learn something new. My name’s Katya, I’m your host, and today with me…
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And let us know what you think! So rate and review our podcast, give us stars, leave comments, questions. Feel free to send your ideas about our next episodes. It won’t take much time or effort, right, but it will help us a lot. So and now, Barbara, Ben, I haven’t seen you for a long time, what’s up?
It’s been a few weeks. Or a couple of weeks, yeah, two weeks I guess.
I think it’s been even more than that.
Long time! And Barbara! I haven’t seen you for so long!
Yes, I think since September.
I think so. And Benjamin I just met for the first time two days ago.
Oh my goodness really? So what have you been up to?
Well I’ve been in my apartment a lot. I’ve been talking walks a lot. So, nothing much.
So where do you like to walk the most?
Oh, well, I really like Lenina street, that area is wonderful. And then of course we’ve got some kind of tinkier areas where I get my hair cut. It’s kinda of like shabbied out there. But yeah, I like to walk around the theater and Lenina.
Now that you’re walking, do you notice any different in the air? You know, compared with winter.
I do not know about you, but I very often am unable to take off my mask outside, even if, you know, there’s no one around, because there’s just so dusty. So, that’s why I don’t like spring here in Novosibirsk much.
Yeah I guess cause all the dust has been trapped underneath all the snow and all of a sudden it’s been released.
Yeah. But at least now we have the sunshine. And some warmth! And Benjamin what about you? What’s new?
What’s new, what’s new… So before the show we talked about my visit to the zoo.
It was a wonderful visit. It was… Well, it was still when the zoo was covered in snow. And I saw some wolves, saw some polar bears, saw some crocodiles, monkeys. It was quite the visit.
Have you seen the penguins?
Did I see the penguins? I don’t think I saw any penguins.
There are 10 of them. 10 or 15 of them. I think about 10 of them. They’re adorable!
Because I know that the zoo has the дельфинарий, the dolphinarium or whatever it’s called. There are different sections.
Yeah penguins are in the zoo zoo, so you don’t have to pay any kind of a separate fee to go see them. They’re in the same buildings with the monkeys. I think.
I didn’t see them. I saw ostriches. I saw some ostriches, well I said I saw some monkeys. Yeah, ostriches.
You have to go and… Yeah, you have to go again and see the penguins, they’re adorable. You have to go in the summer though.
And what about space? Do they have enough space?
I think so. I mean they have.. There are two sections that are kinda divided by some kind of tunnels for them. And I know that the zoo has spent so much money to create, you know, the conditions that they would usually be in.
Which means very hot sand, well, like, you know, some warm sand and very cold water at the same time. So and they managed to do that, so… Well, that’s what I like about our zoo is that the conditions there are said to be fantastic.
You know, animals have space, good food, love and care. Oh that’s so great. So, any other places you’ve been to over here in Novosibirsk?
I’ve been walking around, I went around the набережная, so Речной вокзал. So I had a good walks thee. Yeah, I’ve had a good time, I’ve been exploring the town a lot.
That’s great, that’s great. Alright. So and I… Well I guess I haven’t seen Barbara for so long. I’ve got so much…
Right? It’s so crazy. I guess I don’t have much news, I celebrated my birthday.
Oh you do have some news, do you? Your wisdom tooth.
You’ve said goodbyes to your tooth.
I’ve mentioned it in one of the previous episodes, yeah. So I had a serious dental surgery, so I had my wisdom tooth removed and then at the same time one more tooth, I got it pulled out and then I got an implant at the same day.
And then I had more than a week of suffering when I couldn’t eat anything but purees. You know, and soups. That’s why yesterday I actually had a little bit of a gastro tour around Novosibirsk so I could eat so much. And right after the podcast I’m going to my favorite bakery to get some desserts. Yum.
Oh I don’t know this one.
Oh it’s amazing. It’s literally the best bakery, well, not a bakery, but… Well it is a bakery, a little bakery.
Oh so it’s called a пекарня, so that’s a bakery isn’t it?
Yeah but this one is more like кондитерская. So they don’t make bread but they do make cheesecakes, cakes, you know, all these things. And today and tomorrow they have a cheese fest which means that they make desserts with cheese and not just, you know, some simple cheese. But, let’s say, 28 months old parmigiano.
Oh so aged mature cheeses.
Can we get cheeses? We can’t import cheeses into Russia can we?
I believe so. But, I mean, there are many good Russian cheesemakers.
Well, sometimes you can import some types of cheeses and from some countries, but not that many, yeah. So and speaking of, you know, food and everything, why don’t we talk about it? That’s what we’re here for. So can you tell me about your diet a little bit?
Cause we know that there are so many different types of diet, you know, like, pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan and I remember Ben one you mentioned the guy who only eats meat?
Oh yeah, so yeah, carnivore diet and fruitarian diets, which are two complete opposite extremes.
So what about you? What is your diet like?
Oh well I had a wonderful diet when I was in the United States. My best diet, my best meal would be this wonderful baked salmon with the fat scraped off. And this beautiful salad of spinach and then cranberry sauce.
Oh I love cranberry sauce.
And the tartness of the cranberry sauce like kinda cuts through the oil of the fish and then I would usually have maybe dark chocolate soy ice cream or almond ice cream. And I had that nearly every day. It’s my usual diet.
So Barbara are you a vegetarian?
Well I was a vegetarian since I was 15 actually.
And then when I got older my chiropractor said oh your bone are degenerating, you gotta have some protein and fish. So I started eating salmon. And then since I’ve been here I haven’t really been eating, I can’t find good fish.
And then I feel sorry for the fish that are in the tank, so I’m upset about going to the market and getting fresh fish. I just can’t deal with that so I’ve started to get some legumes or some like what we call chickpeas or they’re also called garbanzo beans. And those are good.
Have you tried any of the smoked fishes that you see at the, yeah, that you see at the shops here?
Yeah I’ve tried the packaged fish and I was eating that for a few months and I’m just done with it, I can’t do that.
I’ve recently tried the fish called кета. I was looking for the English translation, I couldn’t find like a normal translation for it. I think it’s called dog salmon and I tried this recently and it was actually really good.
I think if I saw the name in English I wouldn’t try it. Dog salmon.
Yeah so maybe it’s half-dog, half-salmon. You don’t know. It was pretty good.
So wait, Barbara, so you’ve been a vegetarian for a very long time, then you switched to pescatarian diet and now you’re back to being a vegetarian?
Well, see, my daughter got me into being more vegan because she was upset about the dairy products and how animals are treated with that. And so I’ve started to cut out cheeses and I haven’t been eating eggs since I’ve been here.
I’ve had to eat cheese because there was nothing else I could buy. But now I’ve not had cheese for several months and it’s oh, I got really into my salads now, I have found some good salads. These huge salads with olive oil and garlic. So I’m eating that a lot.
So now you have a vegan diet then?
Yes, I’m really trying to stay away from any kind of animal products.
That’s good that you’re here now and now 5 years ago for example. 5 years ago it was impossible to find soy milk or almond milk, cause when I became lactose intolerant, there was a period when I couldn’t eat anything dairy.
So I tried to find soy milk and it was such a quest, such a challenge. But now it’s so much easier and we have so more shops where you are able to find, let’s say, chickpea cutlets or something like that. Or, you know, some dumplings with mushrooms inside so they’re absolutely vegan.
It is easy because I actually found some almond milk. So I’m pouring that on some granola, so I have a little side dish that I can eat.
Okay. Ben, what about your diet? What is it like?
I have fluctuated between many different types of diet. Recently I’ve been enjoying the pelmeni quite a lot.
And recently being since you came here.
Since I came here, I’d been a bit pelmeni crazy. Previously I have experimented with the vegan diet. With vegetarian diets.
It was… personally I love fruit, I love vegetables. It’s not difficult for me to do. It’s just I felt, I was always really hungry afterwards. And the pelmeni is you can’t really…
Oh Ben and his love for pelmeni! It’s just adorable. Match made in heaven.
I’m not against any vegan diets, so I just… Everyone has their own personal needs and I’m still trying to find out what this perfect diet is. I still haven’t come to a conclusion.
But I think it changes but if you’re exercising a lot like when I was in the United States, I needed that salmon, I really needed some good food. When you don’t exercise that much, then you can kinda get out of tune with your body, you’re not sure. Maybe you start eating other things that you shouldn’t be eating. And as you get older, your needs do change.
I also know that with age your ability, well the enzymes that kinda… What do they do? Not produce lactose, but… What does our body do with lactose? Kinda breaks it into some other components.
Like process. So and I know that with age our ability to process lactose is getting worse, because you know technically a human being does not have any need to process lactose. Well, technically, you know. That’s why babies, you know, they need milk, that’s why they have no problem with lactose and dairy. But the older we get, the more lactose intolerant we tend to become.
Well I guess because dairy products have growth hormones inside them, so then babies or, yeah, animals can grow. And I guess perhaps after a certain age you don’t need those hormones as much anymore.
There are some hormones, they actually inject which is not good for children. There have been studies where they’ve seen cheeses and milk being injected. I guess because the poor little animals are injected with hormones so they can mass produce. And this gets into the milk and the cheeses and makes children maybe bigger. We don’t need those kind of hormones.
Yeah we definitely don’t, no. But I was talking more about natural growth hormones rather than, yeah, artificial hormones. Cause of course we don’t want artificial hormones in our food, that’s not good.
So and what other diets exist? So we have vegetarian, vegan, fruitarian you mentioned. So does that mean that people only eat fruit and vegetables?
Yeah, strictly fruit and vegetables.
Well I think a fruitarian means someone who just eats fruit, only.
And have you ever heard of like an airian or something? It’s someone who only lives on air.
How long do they do that if I may ask?
Well I read these things for yogis and mountainous areas and there are some kind of spiritual lift and they only exist on air. Never heard of that?
No. I think they only exist on air for relatively short amount of time.
Maybe they have a little bit of grass on the side.
Then they pass to another world. I think this is more of an extreme.
Yes, definitely an extreme.
And then there is, Ben, can you help me with this one again? Carnivorous diet?
Yeah, carnivorous diet. Carnivore diet.
Carnivore diet. So it’s only meat.
Yeah, strictly meats, yeah, strictly meats.
Now herbivore would be both. Or everything, yeah. Everything.
Omnivore is like everything.
Herbivore is a plant based diet. Okay.
So that would include both vegetables and fruit.
Then we also have flexitarians. So it’s people who generally don’t eat meat or, you know, try to cut down on it but then occasionally they can have a little bit of it. So they have flexible diet then. But they tend to lean to the plant-based food at least.
So and what about your diet? Would you say and do you think that your diet has all the nutrients that you need, that your body needs? So what do you think?
Well sometimes I feel a little tired in the day so perhaps maybe not… Maybe I need more carbs. A lot of people advise against carbs but you need carbs to stay awake.
I would advise you, since now you live in Mother Russia, in Siberia, to check your vitamin D levels. So this is one big problem that a lot of people who live here have. Well because we don’t get the sunshine, usually our diet does not provide us with enough vitamin D, so a lot of people have, you know, a shortage of it.
A lack of Vitamin D. Alright. Barbara, what about you? Do you think that your diet provides with all the…
Well with my sedentary lifestyle now I think I’m getting all the nutrients that I need, yeah.
I’m not really concerned about eating too much. So I will go a long time about eating or just have some water and then I’ll have something and then oh no, look at the clock, and not eat any more for a while.
What are your views on fasting? Cause fasting’s quite popular trend.
Yeah that was… We were always put on fasts when we were in ballet training as teenagers, so it was part of our crazy diets. But they do say that if you fast you can kinda clean out your system. But the important thing is how you break your fast, what you eat. Cause it can be dangerous if you eat something.
Yeah you have to slowly reintroduce…
I know than now there’s this thing which is quite popular which is interval fasting I think. So you know, basically you have… Depending on your lifestyle, age, habits and everything, you have a schedule of when you fast, so let’s say 18 hours of no food, than withing 6 hours you’re allowed to eat, so and it’s kind of like waves of time when you can or cannot eat.
So and some people that it helps them, you know, to lose weight, to become healthier. But of course it’s all personal.
That sounds like sticking to some kind of eating schedule. I now don’t really have a schedule, I eat when I can or eat when I have to, so I don’t really have it. Like I said, it should be scheduled to regulate your body.
You know, while preparing for this podcast and while, you know, thinking about diets and writing information about nutrients and everything, I have realized how horrible my current diet is. Like, it’s so bad. I try to make it better, because the thing is that when I don’t think and I don’t plan ahead, I tend to snack a lot, I tend to eat a lot of sweets, I have a sweet tooth.
Thus, I have to visit my dentist pretty often. So then when I actually put some thinking into it, when I plan ahead, I start to, you know, include vegetables, fruit, chickpeas, you know. But then again, I get too busy and then I realize that I again eat too much, you know, processed food and everything.
But I don’t think that my diet provides with all the needed nutrients. I mean, have you herd this saying that we need about five portions of fruit per day, fruit and vegetables. So and I have realized that I only have my 2 or 3 portions per day.
But I don’t think that food pyramid is going to suit everybody, just like you say different ages, different cycles of your life.
Just some kind of guide, maybe for the ones who are growing, the children. But, you know, fruit is acidic, it’s sugary, it can affect your teeth as well, they bloat your stomach.
That’s why the say that you also need to think when, at what time of the day and with what food you eat fruit and veggies. So you combine them.
Now when I was a teenager we were not allowed to combine nuts with fruit. It has something to do with, they just don’t mix well and they don’t digest well. So you want to avoid eating nuts with liquid, drinking, or with fruit and vegetables.
Yeah, neither did I. I’m interested. I eat a lot of fruit and nuts, I need to..
But see, now I don’t really… I don’t really heed to that anymore, but as a teenager I did.
Okay. And so how much sugar is in your diet?
Oh, I cannot say, 90%? I don’t know. A lot.
Well the fruit. And then, of course, the M&M’s every day.
Every day. But I’ve cut down, because my teeth… I have had a nice visit to the dentist maybe 5 or 6 times, so yeah, I have to be really careful. But it’s that sugar, that addiction. If you believe that, it’s addictive. I do.
Well, actually, since we’re talking about sugar today, well, sugar, salt and fat, so let’s talk about this addiction. Do you think and, well, why is sugar addictive? Do you know anything about that?
Yeah, it’s supposed to stimulate the euphoria part of your brain and makes you feel ecstatic and fulfilled and satisfied and happy. And that’s what we all want to be, happy, so we take those M&M’s.
Yeah. Well you know, what’s the hormone of happiness? Dopamine. So when we eat sugar, it produces dopamine in our brain so it is released by neurons in the system as… You know, the same way that… Well, the same type of happiness we get when we perform something well, you know, some kind of a reward.
And it’s interesting that it has the same reaction to the body as some of the drugs. So let’s say cocaine or you know, some other, you know, nicotine. You know, they activate the same systems in our brain to produce this dopamine as sugar.
And some people say that’s why, you know, sugar activates reward system in the brain, that’s why it’s so addictive. So we want to feel this happiness even if it’s short-term when we eat those M&M’s.
But then if we eat… If our body gets accustomed to a certain level, then you need to eat more and more and more and then you don’t even… It doesn’t even affect you.
Yeah, we build up a tolerance.
A tolerance. And that goes with alcohol and drugs, that tolerance. So that’s the danger of it.
So before we move on to talking, you know, in more detail about sugar and its effects on everything, do you know about the history of sugar?
Well the triangular trade during the industrial revolution. This happened between 15th century and the 18th century. London became a center of the industrial revolution, they were capable of manufacturing things. But they need raw material.
So of course our new land, before the United States was the whole mecca of raw materials, sugar, rice, the land that you can grow sugar and rice, precious metals, iron, gold, lumber, trees. So and of course who are we going to get those things cultivated and procured?
Of course African slaves. So this industrial revolution in London, the capabilities of making weapons that would go down to the west coast of Africa, trade human beings for these weapons and then send them across the Atlantic which is called the middle passage. And so this is how it started and our addiction for sugar has never really ended.
So that is more of a recent history of sugar I would say, you know, the commonly known processed sugar, you know, refined sugar. But initially sugar is believed to have appeared in the year 2000BC.
So and they say that well, it was in the form of extraction of the juice from the sugar cane and it all started in Polynesia. So it started in New Guinea. So in New Guinea and in Taiwan and Southern China, but those were two different types of cane.
So and then from New Guinea and those parts of Taiwan and China it all went through the world. So somehow it got into the Arab word, from that to Portugal. Then from Portugal it got to Brazil. From Brazil to the United States, well, to those area and to the Caribbean.
Okay so you’re talking about the trade routes around the Mediterranean, that’s how it get around there. The Silk Road to and from Asia and then of course our era of discovery where we have ships going across the water.
So yeah, we can see the history of transport basically with the sugar.
And it really represents money because people will buy it, especially the elite because they could afford it.
Well speaking of transport and sugar. In Brazil many cars are powered by the sugar cane. I’m not sure if you know about this.
I didn’t know about that.
Yeah, there’s this alternative… It’s been going on for many years. I think it’s called alcogas in Portuguese which is like alcohol gas. Yeah, a lot of the cities smell like sugar because of the cars are powered by, yeah, by sugar cane.
Is it a more eco-friendly way to power cars? Or cheaper?
I guess so. Yeah, but I don’t know all the science behind it.
You still have to consider the people who are cultivating it. These are probably people who are very low-paid in very poor conditions. So we often think of alternative ways that will be beneficial to the world. But then again how is it really procured? How is it really coming in to being?
And then it’s interesting… Yeah, you said, you mentioned the elite and that’s interesting that at the beginning, you know, sugar was only for the elite. It was so expensive, only the richest of the rich could actually buy it.
And I tried, when I tried to find some information as to, you know, where it appeared and how it spread around the world, it was interesting for me to read that there are some kind of, you know, there is information that sugar was even existing in ancient Greece.
But at that time it was seen as medication, so it was not, you know, used as food, it was not added to food, to sweeten it, but it was used solely as medication. So they said that it was good for your intestines, good for your health.
So apparently in ancient Greece they would, you know, mix it with water and then later, you know, people thought of it as sweet salt and they said oh it’s good for your mood and for everything. Well, little did they know about dental problems that come with it.
Oh they didn’t know because when it was sent to England, the elite would have these kinda sugar parties and display these beautiful little sugar coins so to speak. And they knew by the way that it gave them good mood.
And they did not have, they made no connection to their bad teeth. And once it happens with your teeth, you get these toxins in your body and it affects your heart, your organs and they actually die. You can actually die of too much sugar.
Yeah. And I was reading about the history of sugar in Russia. So because I thought wait, where does Russia stand in all that, you know. And it turned out that the first time that sugar was, you know, imported into Russia was in the 11th-12th century.
And then only in the 19th, not in the 19th, in the 18th century Peter the Great, you know, started to import the sugar, so you know, make it more common and widespread. And then in 1809 they started the production of sugar in Russia, you know, they stopped importing. Well, not that they stopped importing…
Where was this? Around the Black sea or?
Well, Saint Petersburg, you know, that area. Not in the Siberian parts. So yeah, and the production of sugar was… Well they started to produce the sugar from beetroot. And that’s actually interesting because I have been thinking about the fact that when I was in the US for example,
to me a lot of sweets, even the same sweets that I know, that I used to eat in Russia, you know, they seemed to be sweeter than the ones in Russia. And I was thinking – is it because, you know, different companies in different countries use different types of sugar?
So or maybe that’s because of the corn syrup. Because, you know, sugar can be produced out of cane, corn. In Russia it’s mostly beetroot. So we don’t have that much cane sugar or, you know, corn syrup.
Have you heard of grape sugar? You can get sugar out of grapes.
Yes, grape sugar. So I’m thinking, since we’ve listed those two things, there must be other fruits or products that you can get sugar from.
Well anything you can make alcohol out of I guess.
Interesting. I expect, you know, grape sugar to be way more expensive than the usual one.
I just remember eating it in the 1970s, you go to a special health food store from California. Of course we were leaders in the health food industry.
Still are! Wow. I know about the popularity of coconut sugar nowadays, because they say that it’s, you know, less harmful, it’s healthier. Which kinda brings the question – so do you think there are some substitutes for sugar that are healthier?
No, nothing like Sweet’n Low, all those really chemically made things.
Yeah, I’m scared of those things.
Have you heard about stevia?
I have heard of it but I don’t know anything about it.
So because, you know, if you go to places that have healthy food, you know, all that, you will see, you know, phrases like oh we don’t use sugar, we use stevia which is a natural sweetener. So and it’s extracted from the leaves of a shrub, of some kind of a shrub. And they say that it’s healthier because it has a lower, what is it? Gly…
Glycemic index or something like, glucose index. But I’m not sure, it’s still…
Okay. So what you’re talking about then is not necessarily where the sugar comes from, but how it’s produced. Because white sugar, if it’s produced and they take out all the nutrients, then it’s not gonna be as beneficial to us. It’s the way they produce it.
Oh you mean that refined sugars.
Right. Exactly, that’s refined, they’ve taken out the nutrients. But as long as they keep the nutrients in, it’s supposed to be good. But it’s sugar, sugar’s still going to affect your teeth.
Oh yeah, oh yeah, no matter what kind of form it takes, what kind of a sweetener that is, yes. Because sugar, I mean, what is it? It’s still sucrose, it can… It consists of fructose and glucose. So no matter what kind of a sweetener that is, whether that’s natural or artificial sweetener, it’s still going to be divided into glucose and fructose.
It’s just fructose is… So glucose is basically what is harmful for us, so and let’s say fruit and other, you know, natural things like vegetables, they have a higher level of fructose which makes them less damaging to the body.
Whereas refined sugars and processed sugar, the end result let’s say, this is what has the higher level of glucose, which is actually more harmful to the body than fructose.
Well it’s harmful for children to be raised on sugar because there have been studies where it’ll affect their mood and they won’t concentrate. And when I was thinking about this topic, I was thinking about being a child and literally being raised on sugar. I ate for breakfast the sugar pops, Lucky Charms.
Lucky Charms, yeah, I remember it.
And maybe even put sugar on it. After school I’d come home and have a sugar sandwich. Two pieces of white bread, you put sugar on one and then put the other one on top and slap it together as a sandwich.
You know, that’s so true. It doesn’t matter where you grew and what year you grew up, you know, you were growing up, every child’s diet is so full of sugar.
And have you ever heard of Tang? Tang came out as an orange powder and as a replacement for orange juice and you add water to it. And it was marketed as the drink of choice for the astronauts, our big space race between the USSR and the United States. And our astronauts took up Tang into their capsule and so, we felt patriotic I guess to have our Tang.
You know, I recently heard that in those Lucky Charms and different cereals one single, you know, Lucky Charm or one single piece of cereal can contain up to 1 teaspoon of sugar in it. You know, when I was a kid, one of my favorite things was to take a teaspoon of sugar and just heat it up, you know, above open fire. Well, above gas. So it would melt into….
Yes. Yes. And then you know, just eat it like a lollipop. Yeah.
My teeth hurt just thinking about that.
You know, and I wanted to say that there’s one thing that I absolutely love about the US and that Russia needs to do. In the US on every single thing you buy in a supermarket you can see the nutrition information – how much sugar it has, how much sodium it has. Because in Russia you can only see fat, carbs and protein amount. But nothing about sugar.
This is regulated by law, by law they have to have that.
Because you know, very often I had this urge to have some orange juice or something like that. I was craving some orange juice. But I took a bottle which was like, what, 10 ounces bottle, and I saw sugar 55 grams. And I was just thinking wait, it’s 10 ounces, it’s like 300ml, how come that in this little bottle there are 60 grams of sugar?
That’s unbelievable. And once I started to look at that, you know, this iced tea Nestea, so you know like flavored iced tea, I used to love it. Then I found out that one bottle has 75 grams of sugar. 75! How come? A little can of coca cola – 33 grams of sugar.
Well with coca cola have you heard that you can clean a car carburetor with the can of coke? You can clean stuff cause it’s so, what, acidic or… Strong.
Yeah, so carbonated and so sugary.
I saw some videos of people cleaning toilets with that.
I don’t drink fizzy drinks or soft drink anymore, they’re so bad for you. I mean a good rule of thumb is if you would pour it on your skin and you can’t really wash it off, you shouldn’t be consuming it. Because if you think what your intestines are gonna look like, it’s… So if you pour some cola on your arm, on a hot sunny day, you’re gonna need to wash it off with some water.
And probably some soap as well cause it’s so sticky.
Well it is sticky. Sometimes we would use coke on ballet floors if the floor was too slippery.
You take a little bit of Coca Cola or Pepsi if you’re form the West Coast and put it on the floor and you won’t slip.
Oh I didn’t know Pepsi was a west coast thing.
So I’m from California so it was Pepsi all the way and then when I moved to the south, it’s coke. Coca Cola, cause we have a big…
Barbara, you have just explained so much.
Because when I’ve been… When I was going out with somebody in Massachusetts, you know, we would go to a place and you know, for example, my friend would order some coke and she was told once that we don’t have coke, we have Pepsi, she’s like no.
She’s like oh no thank you. I’m like wait, what’s the… What’s the difference between?
Oh my goodness, that’s why she was all about, no, thank you.
I know for instance that California has In-N-Out burgers which don’t exist… Well I think there is one in Texas but that’s just a one off thing.
Yeah there are some chains like Carl’s Jr, you can find a few there and just more on the west coast.
Oh it’s like Dunkin Donuts is nowhere to be found, you know, in the west. I remember only finding one in DC. In Massachusetts there are several thousand of them. Like, Mass people are crazy about Dunkin.
I’m so surprised to see a Carl’s Jr by what is it? Первомайская площаль. Or сквер, sorry.
And speaking of tea and the west coast and the south. In California I didn’t really drink tea much. But going into the south, they drink sweet tea and it is so sweet. The first time I had it, I drank it I went oh what’s in this tea?
And I knew I was really southern, cause I stayed there for 29 years when I went up on a trip to a northern state Ohio, stopped at a Denny’s and I said oh, I ordered a sweet tea. And they really looked down their long nose at me and said we don’t have sweet tea up here. Oh I’m southern, I drink sweet tea.
But you would’ve thought that… Cause Denny’s is a chain everywhere, you would’ve thought that…
Yeah, but it’s very regional, very regional. And it must be, it must be because of our sugar economy, you know, based on the slavery days, the days of slavery. In South Carolina, in Florida, there were the sugar cane fields, and so I guess we’re proud of the sugar in the south. But it’s a big deal in south.
Wow. I did not know that. I remember you mentioning sweet tea in one of the episodes when we were talking about something.
And have you ever heard about such a thing as bliss point?
So bliss point basically is when it comes to ingredients like sugar or salt. So it’s the maximum amount of sugar that you know still makes the product, the food desirable and tasty. And once you, you know, overstep this boundary, you know, you reach the level and you exceed it, it becomes, you know, disgustingly sweet.
So and it’s interesting cause I read about it in one of the books that I was reading about food, and I thought and I still think that this bliss point would be different then for different nations and different countries and maybe even different regions.
Cause I have noticed that, again, the same thing, let’s say, you know, KitKat bars or something like that, would have a totally different taste in Russia and in the US. And I have generally noticed that in the US a lot of cookies, chocolate and other things are sweeter, way sweeter than in Russia. So my teeth would hurt after even one bite.
It’s true, because we have the Coca Cola in Atlanta, Georgia, established there, and you can go on a tour. And you’ll have this big machine that produces the coca cola from each country. And one time I did take a little taste of Russian coca cola, and it was just like oh my goodness, what are they drinking out there.
And so from every country it tastes differently. You can get these little sample cups, oh, from India, oh, that’s different.
Yeah we Americans have different taste.
So this bliss point would be different for different countries, which is why even the same brand would have a totally different taste in different parts of the world.
I wonder what the different between British cola and America cola.
I mean, I don’t drink it anymore but I wonder.
We should, you know, conduct an experiment.
Yeah you’d have to get some real English tea or real English coke and I get some American coke or American tea. And then we’ll have a taste test.
That could be a good idea for a podcast in the future actually, have a…
You know we had an episode about snacks where two people tried Russian snacks on air, that was so fun. So that would be, you know, cool to do something like that. The only problem is that nobody’s coming from Britain any time soon. We have Stephen and John stuck there.
Well they can do that via satellite or something and we can conduct it.
Nice idea. But wait, they would have to have some kind of Russian thing, or American food.
Right. Of course we’d have some courier to message it.
Well there are Russian shops in London, this little one…
I’m wondering still. I guess if it’s pure Russian. But don’t they adapt or change, alter their recipe for English eaters or American eaters?
It’s like you know when we talk about food and people say I like Chinese food, but I like American Chinese food. Or as they say like white Chinese food. So the things that have been adapted.
I mean there’s not many Russian restaurants in London. I mean, import shops. So for instance you would see pelmeni, and, Alyona bars.
So I think these things are imported, yeah. Okay. And why is sugar bad? So what kind of negative consequences can it have on our health?
Well obviously you have to… Well I’m not an expert, I’m not a nutritionist, but I believe you have to separate refined sugar from naturally occurring sugars.
Let’s talk about refined sugars, yes.
I mean, yeah, because it’s usually packed with other ingredient or additives which are terrible. I mean I’m not so sure that natural sugars, I mean, of course they can cause problems. But animals like gorillas and bears they go crazy for sugar and they seem to be okay. Whereas refined sugars can cause problems because of additives.
Well, for instance, teeth and perhaps digestion problem perhaps. Yeah like I was saying previously if you spill cola on your arm, surely something is going to affect your digestive tract.
Okay so what about these so-called energy drinks? They filled with sugar, like Redbull, what is that thing that makes people want to drink these energy drinks?
Sugar. It all comes down to sugar.
And studies have shown that it gives heart attacks, I mean, I saw one my neighbor, she was in her 70s and she was drinking a Redbull. Betty don’t drink that Redbull, it’s gonna give you a heart attack!
You know what? I’ve recently seen a bottle, well, a can rather in a supermarket, which was a combination of an energy drink, I think it was Redbull, and espresso. So it was coffee and an energy drink.
That sounds like a heart attack to me.
Yeah, that’s a suicide pack.
Or the other day I was taking a walk and I was standing on a corner and I saw this girl junior-high age, maybe 12 or 13 and she was drinking one of those Redbulls or things, something similar. And I thought oh my god, this young thing, where your body is getting regulated by this foreign entity and you’re getting used to it. How does it affect your learning and your brain, your development?
They wasted to pass a law to only sell those to people of 16 and older, but I’m not sure they did. Maybe they did, I don’t know. I think so. Okay, so obviously there are so many negative consequences, or, you know, effects that sugar can have on our health. So dental cavities, problems with heart, mood sometimes.
Oh, well, your blood pressure and your face will get hot and you’ve shake if you’ve got your sugar, sugar high.
Your kidneys as well probably.
Kidneys. And they even say that there is a connection between overconsumption of sugar and diabetes, type 2 diabetes.
Of course, of course there are many other factors, including your overall diet, your lifestyle, genetics, stress level that affect that and, you know, make you get diabetes or not get diabetes type 2. But yes. You know, actually I have an example of my own.
So in 2014 when I started… I just graduated from university, I started to work at a school, at a secondary school which was horrible. It was very stressful time, a lot of kids, a lot of problems. Really, I hated my job, at the same time I was getting another degree, so and I started to eat so much sugar. Like, do you know the Cinnabon rolls?
So I would eat like 3 per day, I would drink like 4 cups of coffee per day with several shots of syrup in it. That was bad. I think I gained like 17 kilos at that time within a year. So and after that, after one year I decided that I’d had enough, I quit my job.
I went to a doctor to check my health and she said do you know you are in pre-diabetes state? Like, you have to stop eating, you know, all this sugar, you have to start exercising. You know, get rid of the stress, try to. So and I was…
I think I kinda woke up at that moment and realized how much sugar I had been eating all this year. How many, you know, Cinnabon rolls, chocolate, drinks, sugary drinks and coffee. Which, let’s be fair, did not even taste like coffee cause it had so much syrup in it.
Your body was very tolerant of this because I know from my own experience in ballet I could not have any chocolate because it would make me shake. And a little bit that I had which was a teeny tiny little square. Now I can shove it in, eat the whole pack, it doesn’t affect me one bit.
And that’s the danger part because that’s on the other flipside of where you have to control your life and how you cannot allow your life to be so, make you so stressed that you go to the sugar.
And actually, you know, speaking of tolerance, last summer I was a little bit ashamed of it, but last summer we had a day when we ate, my friend and I we just ate so many things, you know. We went for drinks which were also quite sugary, because alcohol has a lot of sugar in it.
Then we went to the bakery, ate something else. By the nighttime I just felt so terrible, I just had to spend the night with the bucket in my arms. You know, I was hugging the bucket and puking all night.
Cause I had way too much sugar. So and now if I eat, you know, too many sweet things, I feel so bad. So that’s why I have to, you know, control myself.
Well that’s good because when your body is telling you to stop.
Yes, yes. So that’s why now I know that for example I can’t drink champagne much because it’s way too sweet. So when I want, you know, have a glass of something, that would be dry wine and not, you know, these oversweet drinks.
And in general, you know, I try to cut down on sugar, you know. To choose more quality maybe, you know, over the quantity. So I would rather go to this good bakery and have a little piece of a cake which would be more filling than the chocolate bars. Cause I have noticed that I can eat a lot of chocolate bars and I don’t feel full. I’ll just be eating eating eating eating.
I mean… Do you like fruit much or?
I do, but you know, every time I think oh I have apples in my fridge, btu I have to go, wash them, cut them. It’s so much easier to grab a chocolate bar.
I guess, yeah. You should treat the… You should treat the fruit like methadone to heroine.
I thought you would say you should tret your body as a temple.
As a temple. So you understand what I mean. So methadone and to heroine are fruits to your sugar addiction.
I remember when we were talking about snacks in one of the podcast episodes, we were talking about all these chocolate bars and chips and we discussed that it’s just easier to grab a chocolate bar if you’re going somewhere, cause you don’t need to wash it and cut it and whatever.
So sometimes, you know, it’s the availability and the easiness of getting, you now, the sweet things.
Okay so that’s marketing too.
It’s a huge thing. Cause you think of it’s easier, it’s convenient, throw it in the kids lunchboxes and it’s just… Like those little fruit boxes with the straws and all these little packaged things for kids lunches.
Actually, so I was… I would like to tell a little bit more about the book that I was reading that is called “Salt, Sugar, and Fat” and that’s where I got the idea for the episode actually. So it’s the book by Michael Moss and it was recently translated into Russian, like several years ago.
Whereas it came out in the US at the beginning of 2000s. And this was one of the points there. So he described the lunch boxes, Lunchables I think they’re called. And he described what was inside, how it’s all processed. And I was horrified like oh my goodness, do you really get that for children as a lunch?
But then I remember my school years hen my mom would give me money, you know, to get something for lunch, and I would just buy candies, chocolate, everything. Which is why now at the age of 28 I have to get an implant. Yeah. Don’t be like me, take care of your teeth!
Really. Not like you, but like me as well. I’m guilty of all that.
So do you believe in such a thing as sugar withdrawal?
Oh yes, I think so. Have you ever sugar withdrawal?
I don’t think I have ever had just because I have never been, you know, long enough without sugar. Only once I had to go one month without any kind of sugar, so and that was the moment when I realized how much sugar is in everything – bread, sauces, ketchup – every single thing we eat has sugar. Cause I had a terrible food poisoning, like, it was really bad and…
You mean food poisoning from eating too much sugar or from bad food?
From bad food. So I ate something spoiled or something like that. And after that I could not eat anything sugary and that was the moment when I became lactose intolerant, so I couldn’t eat anything.
So for me it was, you know, everything was plain, without salt. Something like that. But I did not have any kind of sugar withdrawals symptoms, but maybe that’s because, you know, I was generally going through a hard time in terms of…
I think it would depend on what you’re going through. If you’ve already made your decision that you’re going to stop eating sugar and you’re filling your life with all the positive things in your life, then it’s not so bad. But if you’re going through stress and you’re relying on sugar to dig through this stress and then you say I’m going to stop eating sugar, you know…
I think it also depends on whether you have to restrict yourself, you know, yourself, or whether it’s, you know, some consequences, conditions maybe, you know, when you have some kind of a health problem or something like that. Cause if you say starting with tomorrow, I’m eating no sugar. Then you are more likely to fail.
But on the other hand you may realize how good you feel without all that sugar so I’ve gone through that as well. Oh wow I feel so much better, how I could have done that to myself.
You know what I noticed when I went one month without sugar? That everything started to taste differently, brighter maybe. So I have realized that usual things were so, you know, so much tastier than they used to be, because sugar is kinda…
I think it affects our taste buds as well, so and that’s why after that when I ate something sweet, it got… I had a feeling that it was way too sweet, too much sugar in it. Then I came back to what I had been before.
That’s what we do, we revert back.
Aw, that’s sad. So, and what about salt? So we’ve talked about sugar, but what about salt? How much salt is in your diet?
Well I guess everyone needs a certain level of salt because obviously we’re made up… We need salt because there are electrolytes in salt. I’m not a nutritionist, but yeah, we do need a certain level of salt. But then again you have to be careful how much you can consume.
Can it be as addictive as sugar?
Well I think it’ not as addictive as sugar, but at the same time, you know, it still makes food more desirable maybe. But you said that we have to be careful with salt – why? What can the overconsumption of salt lead to?
Well I guess dehydration.
High blood pressure. The shakes. Cause I had that.
Kidney stones I think. So huge, because, you know, the saltier the food, the more stress it is, the more work it is for the kidneys, so thus if you eat three packs of chips per day every day, your kidneys are not going to handle that well most likely.
I don’t buy any sugar, any salt, so I don’t have a package of salt and I don’t put any salt on my food. But I’ll use the garlic. And the garlic is such a great flavoring.
You know, and I was, so you know that there’s this kind of a limit. So the scientists say that the level of sodium, well, salt-sodium that we should have per day, well, maximum should be 2500mg. So which is like the healthy norm. If you eat less than that - perfect.
But that’s the max you should have per day. And it turns out that 90% of Americans, 90%, just think about it, averagely consume 4000mg of sodium per day. And you know, again, when I was reading this book and after reading this book I started to pay attention, I became really, you know, attentive to this nutrition information.
And again, what I like the US is that they put the sodium amount and I thought okay, can I actually do that with 2500mg of sodium? I could not because I realized that…
I got one thing, even like, you know, chicken broth, and I saw the amount of sodium and I thought okay, that’s basically it, that’s the only thing I can have today if I want to limit my sodium level to 2500mg per day. So, it’s horrifying how much sodium there is in everything.
That’s why I don’t feel like I need to put any salt on anything, there’s probably some salt in there. If you’re eating something packaged, like a can of something.
And you know, again, I read about the consequences of overconsumption of salt and we’ve mentioned the dehydration, the kidney diseases and it turned out that too much sodium can also increase the risk of stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer even.
But of course we’re talking about overconsumption of it, so when we eat too much salt, so too many salty things. And do you know anything about types of salt? Have you seen the, you know, the variety of salt in the spice aisle?
Yeah, but I think… Yeah, there’s this Himalayan salts.
Yeah the pink Himalayan salt.
Well I guess rock salt. Is that sea salt?
Yeah, kosher, yeah, Jewish salt, yeah.
Do you know any difference between them? Do you think it’s just marketing?
I have some information for you then, cause I did a little research on that because I thought… That’s what I actually always think when I have to buy salt. And I think – is there really any difference? Cause Himalayan salt is so expensive. It’s like 10 times more expensive than the table salt. So there has to be some kind of a difference, right.
Although every time it makes me funny when I see something like this Himalayan salt was taken from the caves that’s more than 2000 years old. And then lower you see expiration date, like, January 2022. Like, right, so it’s been okay for 2000 years but it expires on… come on.
But yeah, it turns out that different types of salt differ in taste, in texture, in mineral, in sodium content, so and sea salt for example. So depending on the source and what kind of a sea it was taken from, so it usually contains various trace minerals, like potassium, iron, and zinc. But and I remember Barbara, you and I and Alyona talked about it in our ecofriendliness podcast.
That nowadays we, the humanity, faces the huge problem of plastic in the ocean. And that’s why sea salt contains microplastic. Cause it’s taken from the sea, sea now contains microplastic, thus people say that it’s better to avoid using sea salt. So then Himalayan salt, so it comes from the salt mine in Pakistan, so the second largest salt mine in the world.
So and it contains iron oxide, so basically it’s rust which is exactly what makes it pink. So, it’s just like any other salt, it just has a little bit of rust in it. And usually they say that it has a smaller amount of calcium, potassium, which is… which makes it slightly lower in sodium than regular table salt. But then again – rust. I don’t know about you, but it makes me a little bit…
Okay well that reminds me of what’s on a package of salt – ionized salt, that’s really important for us to have ion, what is it called? Ionized?
Yeah, we’re supposed to have that in our bodies. So now that I don’t put any salt on my food, maybe I’m lacking in iodine or something.
Well that’s why a lot of people, they take iodine in pills or something like that. Yeah. It’s so difficult…
I need to look up at the iodine, to see if I have any.
Then we have kosher salt which has larger, you know, flakes sizes. So and they say it’s preferable, well, that’s why…. Because it’s larger, more chefs use it because it’s easier to pick up with your fingers, you know, and spread over food and sprinkle over food.
But it has a little bit of different texture, so and it tends to be less salty than regular table salt. So that’s why if you want to, you know, replace it, you shouldn’t do it with 1:1 ratio, but you should put a little bit of more of kosher salt if you want to, you know, switch to it.
So yeah. Apparently it’s not that simple. And honestly before that I used to think that it’s nothing but marketing. It turns out that no.
It’s just rust and microplastic. Like wow. What’s your diet like? Well, you know, microplastic, rust, things like that.
Okay, they just found plastic, snowing plastic in Siberia. So whatever it’s landing on, we’re taking that into.
In Tomsk the scientists were discovering it and looking at it.
Oyoyoy. It’s bad. Really bad. Alright, and salt, sugar, and there’s the third element that you know, powers the earth, which is fat. So and remember I told you about the book Salt, sugar and fat? Really, I advise everyone to read it, it’s eye-opening, and reread it probably.
Cause when I read it the first time I tried to change my diet and I did for some time, now I’m back to eating horribly. So maybe I should reread it. But I remember that what was shocking is that, so this book has chapters, each devoted to each element, so salt, sugar and fat.
We’ve talked about salt, we’ve talked about sugar and what surprised and shocked me about fat is that we have in our body the limit for sugar, right. If we eat too much, we feel bad. We have a limit for salt. If we eat too much, we’re gonna feel bad. But our bodies do not have a built-in limit for fat.
So which means that we have taste buds for salt and sugar, but our taste buds do not react to fat. We can eat… Nothing stops us basically from eating too much fat, and that’s what we do. And averagely everyone eats 50% more fat than we should per day, every single day, because we don’t feel it.
So and if you think about any kind of food you like, you know, usually we like the texture, we like the feeling that is, and it’s all because of, well, fat. And one more thing that this book kinda says is that none of this is food industry’s fault.
It’s all our fault because, you know, we are responsible that all these aisles in the supermarkets are filled with this kind of crappy products full of sodium and sugar, because we like it. I mean, let’s be fair, we all do.
And I remember reading about one of the experiments, what’s the company? I think it was Kraft. So the company that produces the chicken broths…
Philadelphia cheese, yeah.
The Philadelphia cheese. Yes. It’s actually like a huge conglomerate of different companies.
01:04:59 B2: Yeah Kraft is huge yeah.
I think it’s like nearly everything that is sold in the US supermarkets.
Campbell I think is also theirs. So anyway, so and they at some point decided to be responsible and lower the level of sodium in their soups. And the result? The consumers started complaining and they said your soups are not as tasty as they used to be.
Because people are not used to low sodium amounts. So and basically, you know, the demand and supply rule, so we want lower sodium but at the same time we don’t want lower sodium. We want less sugar but at the same time we don’t want less sugar, cause then it’s all bland.
The problem, the problem. So and I have a question – if I asked you, what would be your main takeaway from our today’s talk? Do you think you are going to change something about your diet? About how much salt or sugar or fat you consume?
I guess the takeaway is move to Japan or move to Italy and eat Italian or Japanese food.
Oh wait a minute, that soy sauce has a lot of salt in it.
I guess it does. The Japanese do have…
And what about the oil? The Korean food is so oily.
Yeah I’m gonna look up iodine, see if I have some kind of deficiency.
So which country lives the longest? Or have the highest life expectancy? I guess Japan.
Don’t you remember what we talked about?
I’m afraid if we look at the countries and the regions that have the highest amount of centenarians, it’s Okinawa in Japan. Not the whole of Japan, but Okinawa which is an island. Greece.
Mediterranean diet. You know, it actually has a lot of fruit and vegetables but not much salt. Nothing, you know, extra fat.
Well just like I said – olive oil with the garlic. Then you don’t need anything else on there.
So what else? Some parts of Puerto Rico that are said to have the highest amount of centenarians. So yeah. Maybe not… Well Italy would be good, you know, still Mediterranean diet.
Yeah. I mean they have a lot of fat in their food.
Ah, yes, damn it! Way too much fat actually. There’s no place it seems. So we’re responsible for our diet no matter where we are then. Barbara, what would be your takeaway you said?
I’m gonna look up iodine. I’m gonna still maybe cut the M&M’s, about a half. And then I’m gonna continue with my olive oil and garlic. I think that’s what really saves my life, I think that’s really healthy.
You can’t, you know, mess anything up with garlic. I wonder what my takeaway would be. I think the main one is that I definitely need to do something about my diet, but on the other hand – do I want to? Yeah, I gotta think about it. But I definitely should reread this book so it’s Salt, Sugar and Fat by Michael Moss.
Make sure to read it, it’s fantastic. I also remember by the way how shocked I was about cheese production in the US when I was reading about it in the book. It turned out that there’s overproduction of cheese, so very often it’s just stored in warehouses and the country doesn’t know what to do with it cause they produce way too much.
Cause they have to do something with all the fat they get from the milk as most people now prefer low-fat milk and non-fat milk. So and they make cheese with the fat, with the extra fat, and then they have too much cheese. This concludes today’s edition of weird facts you didn’t need to know but here we are. Yeah.
I think there’s an expression for it. Mountains of cheese, rivers of milk. I heard that somewhere. I think it’s probably in reference to the situation in America, I’m not sure.
Oh I’ve never heard about this phrase.
Alright. Well dear listeners that was the BigAppleSchool podcast and today Barbara, Ben and I discussed salt, sugar, a little bit about fat. And we talked about our diets and what diet, well, let’s say, the features of each diet.
So thank you for listening and remember, if you struggle to understand our conversation, you are always welcome to our website which is BigAppleSchool.com/podcast. So you can find full scripts of each episode there and you can read while listening. Cool, right?
Also if you want to get more content which will help you learn English, you can follow us on the social media such as Instagram, Vk, Youtube, Telegram and so on. Just search our name which is, again, BigAppleSchool. And the information on each of the social, you know, media is different, so you won’t be reading the same stuff everywhere. So that was Katya and my guests for today were…
Stay tuned and we’ll see you around.