The new paradigm we are waiting

The new paradigm we are waiting

New technologies bring important changes in all sense of humanity life. Specifically, artificial intelligence (AI) is going to change the very meaning of the concept of ‘human being’ and even the concept of work, which has always been so closely linked to us.

The ‘Episteme’ is a term reformulated by Michel Focault in the 20th Century and consists of knowledge linked to a temporary ‘truth’, imposed by the power of the time in which it is generated. Therefore, people who are outside this time frame of knowledge will have serious difficulties to understand or conceive it.

The concept of humanity, held in the theocentric view of the world during much of the Middles Ages, in which everything revolved around God, was totally different from the anthropocentrism that emerged from the Renaissance humanism of the 15th Century. In the first case, man is a tool for the glory of God, who is measure of everything in the universe. But, from humanism, man will be the centre of everything and from him it will be from which you are going to classify, measure and evaluate the universe. Since then, all the phenomena and elements that appear and stop appearing are related to us.

Let’s put ourselves in the position of the existence of an alien race. If this race had manifested itself before us in the Middle Ages, we would have related their existence to some divine design, we would have included them in the category of angels or demons. Currently, the same fact would be interpreted by and for us. What benefits would be arrival of these stellar neighbours bring to earth? What threat would it pose to us? Would they look like us? Could we take advantage of them or establish peaceful relations? As we are the top of the intellectual pyramid, will they repeat our behaviour and subdue us if they have superior technology?

Something similar happens with the concept of ‘work’. The work has gone from being ‘God’s punishment of man for original sign’ to ‘a way of honouring God’, and currently, the work is theoretically linked to terms such as ‘passion’ or ‘vocation’.

Currently, considering many paid human legal activities as work is difficult, such as Content Creator on Youtube, Social Media Manager, Influencer, etc. And not to mention the ethical and moral debates about clones as human being or not. The episteme is changing, but, as it has happened throughout history, we are resisting the evidence, two concepts that for us have been fundamental for last centuries, and that are beginning their decline. Humanity is no longer just superior intelligence, four limbs and a brain, a clone can also have four limbs, and intelligence, as we currently measure it, is far surpassed by a computer.

With work is the same story, not only must it be in tune with people’s values, but there must also be continuous motivation, with incentives that go far beyond mere economic retribution, everything points to the new concept of ‘work’ will not be linked to a specific place, but rather to objectives to be met. Until now, the challenge of the world of work consists on that people, through several training steps (school, degrees, courses, masters, etc.) try to adapt to what the labour market offers, but what if in the future, people train for themselves through their natural talents generates wealth? Who knows? It won’t be many years before we see the new episteme of work.

Ideas change according to the time of the people who develop the, so it is worth wondering if we are going to participate in those changes that will eventually end up being imposed, or if, on the contrary, we will be watching as mere spectators watching the world continue its course while we cling to nostalgia for the past, for when humanity and work defined us as people.

The passage of time

The passage of time

It is curious how, at the moment we find ourselves, our sense of time has been so disrupted due to the confinement to which the entire population is subjected.

Humanity has developed all kinds of tools that allow us to feel we have everything under control. That is why the most common way to corroborate the passage of time is the use of the clock. But right now, is the clock really that reliable? And, if so, Why does time seem to pass so slowly? What if the clock is just another of the illusions invented by humanity to appear to control something as intangible as time?

Time is much more than a number, time must be lived and felt in order to experience its passage. Our perception of time is very subjective and maintains a close relationship with the emotional situation that we now endure. Most of us have noticed at some point in our lives how the speed of time is a variable factor linked to our emotions. In comfortable situations the time flies by, when we do some pleasant or new activity, when we are motivated or when we are at the top of tasks. The opposite happens when we are having a bad time, when we are impatient or in any uncomfortable situation, such as being in danger or when we are bored. Also, special mention to the slowness of the time when we are paying attention to it, that is, when we keep an eye on the passage of the minutes, for example, when doing sports or going to the gym.

The previous observations lead us to understand the importance of how the subjective assessment we make of the perception of time influences this in our lives. Ramón Bayés (El reloj emocional; Barcelona: Alienta Ed. 2007), encourages us to examine the elements that influence this perception, as it is important for our mental health, ‘managing internal time, that is, the time we subjectively appreciate, it is very important to achieve well-being’. We are in constant war with time, sometimes wishing it would go faster and sometimes slower. What we have to ask ourselves in these cases is what subjective factors motivate us to have an expectation about how time should pass. That is, asking ourselves what emotions lead us to think that time is passing very slowly or very fast, and once identified, focus on these because it is what we have, time will never be in our hands. In this way we also help control the emotional alarms of the brain that can generate a state of stress that can seriously harm our health. Remember that stress releases hormones such as cortisol and one of the consequences of this is the depression of the immune system, a system that today more than ever is convenient for us to keep it as healthy as possible.

On World Health Day, #stayhome but do it in a healthy and active way

On World Health Day, #stayhome but do it in a healthy and active way

April 7 is World Health Day. It is paradoxical that this year we will celebrate it confined due to a global pandemic. However, although #Istayhome, life goes on and we cannot let our guard down when it comes to health.

Each of us associates the fact of being at home with different habits: some to tranquillity and rest, others to domestic tasks, others to family. Whatever your situation, there are no excuses to do it in a healthy and active way.

Let’s put ourselves in situation with some data from the 2019 health profile in Spain published by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development):

  • Spain is the EU country with the highest life expectancy: 83.4 years in 2017, which is 2.5 years above the EU average. Spaniards today can expect to live an additional 21.5 years after reaching the age of 65, 1.5 years more than the EU average. This increase in life expectancy was mainly caused by a considerable reduction in mortality rates from cardiovascular diseases, although mortality from Alzheimer’s disease increased as a consequence of the increase in life expectancy.
  • Spain has some of the lowest mortality rates from preventable and treatable causes, indicating that public health and healthcare interventions are, in some cases, effective. However, much remains to be done as estimates suggest that more than a third of deaths in Spain can be attributed to risk factors associated with behavioural habits, including tobacco use, poor diet, alcohol consumption and sedentary lifestyle (see figure).
Figure: Percentages of deaths in Spain and in the EU attributed to behavioural risk factors. Source: IHME (2018), Global Health Data Exchange (estimates correspond to 2017)
  • In the case of smoking, an anti-smoking law was adopted in 2005 and was strengthened in 2010. The 2010 law strengthened the rules on the retail and advertising of tobacco products; increased protection for minors and non-smokers by expanding smoke-free zones to all public places; and promoted the application of smoking cessation programs, especially in primary care. At the same time, taxes on cigarettes were increased, by 3% per pack of cigarettes in 2013 and by 2.5% more in 2017, along with a 6.8% increase in taxes on rolling tobacco. All these measures have contributed to the fact that smoking rates have decreased in the last fifteen years. However, more than one in five Spanish adults (22%) continued to smoke daily in 2017, representing a higher proportion than the EU average (19%).
  • Regarding overweight and obesity, the data is even more alarming. In 2005, the NAOS Strategy, managed by the Spanish Agency for Consumption, Food Safety and Nutrition, aimed to curb the increase in obesity in the Spanish population. This was reinforced by the Food Safety and Nutrition Law adopted in 2011, also with the aim of reducing overweight and obesity in children, prohibiting foods and beverages with a high content of saturated fatty acids, salt and sugar in schools and, more broadly, tightening the regulations on children’s menus. Recently, work has been carried out to establish a set of indicators that allow evaluating progress in their application and for the execution of health promotion activities in the area of nutrition, physical activity and obesity prevention (AECOSAN, 2019). In 2018, the Ministry of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare announced new measures to reinforce the NAOS Strategy and, among them, an initiative on a new labelling on the front of packages using the Nutriscore model. Using an easy-to-understand colour code (based on a “traffic light” approach), this initiative aims to provide citizens with more accurate information on the nutritional quality of food, although this measure has not yet been applied. In early 2019, the Ministry also signed an agreement with almost four hundred food companies that committed to reducing the content of saturated fatty acids, salt and added sugars in their products. However, the effects so far seem modest. In fact, the obesity rate has increased among adults, which may hinder progress in reducing cardiovascular mortality and other related causes of death: one in six Spaniards suffered from obesity in 2017 (17%), a increase compared to the figure of one in eight in 2001, also above the EU average (15%). This increase is related to poor physical activity among adults, as well as unhealthy nutritional habits: only about 35% of adults reported eating at least one vegetable a day. The same situation is found in the child-youth population. According to the PASOS study (2019), 14.2% of the child-youth population is overweight and obese as measured by BMI and 24.5% have abdominal obesity. The prevalence of childhood obesity has grown in the last two decades: 1.6% according to BMI and 8.3% according to abdominal obesity.

We cannot ignore the data. A healthy and active lifestyle contributes to our quality of life expectancy. Some basic recommendations:

  1. Move, live an active life: go up the stairs, go to work on foot or by bike whenever possible, choose games that involve movement to do with your children, dance, etc.
  2. Eat calmly: follow your feeling of satiety and not your emotions (avoid eating due to boredom, anxiety, etc.). Limit ultra-processed food (you can read further in the post: Realfood, fad or is it here to stay?). Include fruits and vegetables in all your intakes. Give priority to whole carbohydrates over refined ones. Vary the food every day. Eat quietly and if possible, in company.
  3. Hydrate yourself regularly throughout the day.
  4. Exercise daily: dedicate at least 30 minutes a day to the physical activity that you like the most and vary it.
  5. Rest and sleep between 6 and 8 hours a day.
  6. Spend time on activities you like: reading, walking, writing, dancing, painting, photography, movies, meditating, talking to someone who inspires you, etc.

Maintaining healthy lifestyle habits should be an ever-present motto in our lives, but it becomes essential in difficult situations like the one we are experiencing. It is at these times when initiatives like #AlimentActivos from FIAB (Federation of Food and Beverage Industries) take on special relevance. It is a website where they give us tricks and ideas, pose challenges for us and provide us with scientific data and information to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.

Do not forget that, through social networks, you can follow a multitude of profiles that inspire us in matters of healthy eating and cooking, physical exercise at home, how to maintain good mental health, as well as stay positive and relaxed.

At CARTIF, #westayathome exercising #health.

October 16th, World Food Day: #ZeroHunger

October 16th, World Food Day: #ZeroHunger

#ZeroHunger is the motto for the World Food Day that is celebrated on October 16 leaded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) worldwide. #ZeroHunger is also part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Achieving #ZeroHunger is not only about feeding hungry people, but also about doing it in a healthy and sustainable way. Food safety in our times is not only a matter of quantity, but also of quality. Unhealthy diets have become the first risk factor for disease and death worldwide and that is why we need to reach the entire population a sufficient variety of safe, nutritious and affordable foods, while caring for the health of the planet on which we all depend. World Food Day asks us to take action in all sectors to reach #ZeroHunger, 100% nutrition.

But what is a healthy and sustainable diet? FAO itself determines that a healthy diet is one that provides nutritional needs to maintain an active life and reduce the risk of contracting diseases through the consumption of safe, nutritious and diverse foods. And a sustainable diet supports entrenched solutions to food production with a low level of greenhouse gas emissions and a moderate use of natural resources such as soil and water, while increasing food diversity for the future.

What is the current situation?

The high consumption of dishes rich in sugars, refined starches, fats and salt have become the basis of food for developed countries, limiting the consumption of traditional dishes made with vegetables, legumes, whole grains, etc. We cook less, move less and consume more prepared dishes. The result is that we are malnourished. Do you find it alarming? Don’t you think it’s for so much? Let’s see some figures:

  • Currently, there are already more people with obesity and overweight in the world than those who are hungry: almost 800 million people (672 adults and 124 children) in the world suffer from obesity and another 40 million children are overweight. However, it is estimated that there are about 820 million people who suffer from hunger (approximately one in nine).
  • Unhealthy diets along with sedentary lifestyles have overcome smoking as the main risk factor for disability and death in the world.
  • Approximately 2 billion euros are spent each year to treat health problems related to obesity.

These are some of the conclusions reached by FAO related to hunger and malnutrition but they are not the only ones. Our way of feeding ourselves is also having environmental consequences:

  • The environmental damage caused by the food system could increase from 50 to 90%, due to the higher consumption of processed foods, meat and other products of animal origin in low and middle income countries.
  • Of some 6,000 species of plants grown for food throughout the history of mankind, today only three species (wheat, corn and rice) supply almost 50 percent of our daily calories. We need to consume a wide variety of nutritious foods.
  • Climate change threatens to reduce both the quality and quantity of crops, reducing crops. Rising temperatures are also exacerbating water scarcity, changing the relationship between pests, plants and pathogens, and reducing marine resources.
  • The current food system – which includes farming, animal husbandry, processing, packaging and transportation – is responsible for 37% of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated annually, and losses and food waste also collaborates with 8-10% of the total sum. Belén Blanco tells us in more detail in the post “Tell me what you eat… and I’ll tell you if it’s good for the planet”.

For all this, because they are realities, all together we must raise awareness of the problem of hunger, malnutrition, food waste, climate change, etc. FAO calls on all people to get involved in implementing some measure to achieve the #ZeroHunger.

Who are the actors involved in this change taking place? The answer is all. Modify the way of producing, supplying and consuming food. The involvement of the industry in limiting saturated and trans fats, added sugars and salt. Eliminate advertising and promotion in unhealthy foods and especially those aimed at children and adolescents. Implement educational programs on nutrition and health. Actions from all levels are necessary.

And I, as a consumer, what can I do? As a consumer, as a citizen, as a human being on this planet, you can. Think about how you consume, how you eat and act on your own, individual level and with the people around you. Here are a series of measures that can guide you:

World Food Day is not the only forum in which it strives to improve food security, but FAO also participates with WHO and other agencies in the implementation of the United Nations Decade of Nutrition Action (2016-2025). It aims to strengthen joint action to reduce hunger and improve nutrition worldwide and assist all countries in their specific commitments. The SOFI report is published annually to provide information on the progress made to eradicate hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition. The last one was published on July 15, 2019.

On World Food Day, FAO launches a strong message: we can end hunger and all forms of malnutrition to become the #ZeroHunger generation. But this will entail the joint action of all, from the commitment of each one of us in the change in the way we feed ourselves, to the cooperation between countries for an efficient transfer of technology, for example, through the correct decision-making of governments or by the involvement of private companies and the media.

Trump, Google and Huawei, commercial war or technological war?

Trump, Google and Huawei, commercial war or technological war?

The end of Game of Thrones has left many of us an existential vacuum and an unprecedented duel. Precisely when we entered the acceptance phase, a new series of creators of “The Wall”, “Tension with North Korea” and “The crisis of Venezuela” comes to our screens: ‘Game of Trump’.

The recent veto of the Trump administration, the immediate suspension imposed on the Huawei company and the reactions of the companies Google (USA), ARM (UK), Vodafone (UK) Panasonic (Japan) and Toshiba (Japan), generate many doubts about what is happening in the world of technology due to the geopolitical dimension that this field is acquiring. And now, we ask ourselves: how can it affect us in the short and medium term as Spanish citizens and members of the European Union?

In this sense, from the CARTIF Health and Welfare Area we try to reflect and assess the scope of this new edition of the Game of Trump series and analyse the implications that these technologies can have on the socio – sanitary services and the effects of this new war on our quality of life.

Season I: Huawei and Google mobile phones

When we think about improving the quality of life of people with some new technological development, we always keep in mind that people seek to receive services on site, without the need to go physically to a specific place. That is why we believe that it is indisputable that the present and the future of the technological services that we receive go through mobility. In this respect, Huawei is one of the most important actors, being the second manufacturer of phones in the world in terms of sales and popularity among a public that praises especially the duration of their batteries and the quality of their cameras.

The owners of the company’s mobile phones, which number in the millions, are bewildered by the news that Google has broken relations with Huawei, ceasing to provide its software to the Chinese company, which uses Google’s Android operating system. As a result, Google’s decision deprives Huawei of the user interface and widely used applications such as Google Play, Google Maps and Google Mail.

Season II: The supremacy for the domain of 5G

At this point, analysts indicate that the mobile battle, although it is very important from the economic and commercial points of view, is not the most significant point of the confrontation. What is at stake is the supremacy in 5G technology and in this respect Europe has something to say. Since, although the leader in 5G is Huawei, there are two companies belonging to member countries of the European community which are in second and fourth place for their contributions to 5G technology, Ericcson and Nokia, while the first company in the US is in fifth place. This seems to be the reason for the apparent tantrum that everyone thinks will end up resolving with a negotiation, because the future is unstoppable. The Trump administration seems to prefer to slow the deployment of 5G to be dependent on Chinese and European technologies. Meanwhile, those who believe in conspiracies think that they are only pressing to access the keys and thus be able to spy on us.

It is estimated that Huawei will possess in the future up to 30-35% of the global standards of 5G and behind these standards we find the international specifications designed to boost the interoperability of the technology. But what is this about 5G and interoperability? And, above all, what applications can this have in the health field? ‘What are you gay? What are you running?’

Season III: What is 5G and how does it affect us?

The future of the social-health field is “promised” to us in pink thanks to the relationship between 5G and interoperability. For this reason, we have to talk about several lines of technological development in which we are working in CARTIF. An example is the ‘internet of things’ (IoT), which is nothing more than a network of physical objects, machines, people and other devices that allow connectivity and communications to exchange data for smart applications and services. These devices are made up of smartphones, tablets, consumer electronics, vehicles, social robots, companion robots and sensors that allow them to be controlled remotely through the existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for direct integration between the physical and digital worlds, which improves efficiency, accuracy and economic benefits.

5G technology is the one designed to optimize and improve internet connection speeds, considerably reducing the response time of the network and, therefore, capable of generating a range of opportunities in all digital sectors.

Technologies such as mobile, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will enable IoT communications through use cases and the 5G is the network that will connect these things. The IoT devices will have different capacities and data demands and 5G network will be necessary to be able to support all of them. With the ‘internet of things’, we will see services that only need a small amount of data and a long battery life, as well as devices that require high speeds and reliable connectivity. (1) (2)

Similarly, from our scientific skepticism regarding technology, it is necessary to note that, as is common in our lives, not everything is in pink and we are aware that there are going to be aspects to take into account to develop a technology humanized designed only to significantly improve the quality of life of people. For example, the increase in speed and volume of information imply higher powers at higher frequencies, and the consequences of the bio-compatibility of these new electromagnetic emissions is a field of study really important. On the other hand, there is the aspect, not less important, of the privacy of the data. Currently, thanks to Big Data and AI there are many companies that have more information about the determinants of our health than the socio-health systems to which we attend (and we all know that the scope of the data ‘is dark and full of terrors’). Some think that this is the true Iron Throne, and there are interests so that, as some cluster us as potential consumers. They want to cluster us to manipulate us.

Final season IV: Making virtue of necessity

The socio-health system is in a critical state from the point of view of sustainability, given the aging of the population and the cuts in budgets. To make the system sustainable as a whole, it is necessary to optimize the connection between necessary resources and available services. We really believe that this can only be solved by an adequate, intelligent and person-centered use of technology.

At the international level, the aging of the population is affecting all the regions and countries of the world that have reached a certain level of development. There is no doubt that the extension of life is one of the main achievements of our society, although it is true that this achievement also poses important challenges and opportunities for our economy, health system and social protection.

In Spain, demographic aging is very marked and this is especially evident in the larger regions, characterized by a rural population whose young people tend to migrate to cities. In these areas, providing social and health services is more expensive and difficult due to the lack of resources. The social commitment has allowed to transform this unfavorable situation into a virtue. Therefore, the social-health system of Spain is considered as one of the best in the world, due to the good results it presents, combining high levels of efficiency and quality with a comparatively lower cost.

In this respect, Castilla y León, according to the State Observatory for Dependency carried out by the National Association of Directors and Managers of Social Services corresponding to the management of the year 2018, is recognized again (twelfth consecutive year) as the autonomous community that manage better the Dependency in Spain. The corresponding mark of Castilla y León is 9.3 out of 10. The average score of the Spanish communities stands at 5.04 points. Therefore, we are talking about an unprecedented success.

The ecosystem of our region, embodied in the SIVI and BIOTECYL Clusters, formed by a large number of organizations, both public and private: health systems, public social agencies, patient associations, groups that provide services, service companies, geriatric, Universities and Technology Centers, structures the development and provide the services so that we can develop our lives and those of our loved ones in a comfortable way taking into account parameters of quality, efficiency and independence.

For all this, we have to be aware of our responsibility and, from this privileged vision, take advantage of new opportunities to carry out scientific research and humanized technological development with the sole aim of improving the quality of life of people. In CARTIF we believe that this is the meeting point and there we will be contributing our experience.

Alejandro Cuadrado & Pablo Viñas

Acrylamide has a special ‘COLOR’

Acrylamide has a special ‘COLOR’

From the creators of “What doesn´t kill you makes you fatter or is a sin and “You don´t know what to eat” appears “Take care if you like overcooking!” and “Nightmare in the kitchen, there is acrylamide in your food“.

For years it was known that acrylamide was a toxic substance present in tobacco smoke and in industrial processes such as paper manufacturing, metal extraction, textile industry, colorants and other processes such as cosmetic additives or in water treatment. What nobody could imagine was that it also appears naturally when we are cooking foods such as potato crisps, French fries, biscuits and coffee.

It was first detected in foods in 2002 in Sweden when this chemical was found in starchy foods. According to experts, acrylamide is converted in the body into a chemical compound called glycidamide, which causes mutations and DNA damage that could initiate a cancerous process. The main chemical process that causes this is known as the Maillard Reaction; between sugars and amino acids (mainly one called asparagine) that are naturally present in many foods. It is the same reaction that ‘browns’ food (consequence of some pigments called melanoidins) and affects its taste and smell (due to substances such as furans). For this reason, the color could be a very practical guide for detecting acrylamide in foods.

Following, there is a summary of the evolution of the acrylamide topic according to the opinion of experts and different authorities in food safety:

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC): classifies it as probable carcinogens in humans (group 2A). This designation is applied when there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans as well as sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. For this reason, the authorities recommend that exposure to acrylamide should be as minimal as possible.

World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO/WHO): admits that there are many doubts about the mechanism of action of acrylamide and also about the estimation of the maximum recommended intakes or how the data obtained in animals have been extrapolated to humans. They insist especially on the need for more research on topics such as the associated risks in humans, quantification of acrylamide in diets other than European ones and identify the speed of the human body to neutralize acrylamide. In 2009 FAO/WHO published a code of practice for the reduction of acrylamide in food. A large amount of information on acrylamide is located on the FAO/WHO portal ‘Acrylamide Information Network’.

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA): it is still not clear whether the consumption of this component has an effect on the risk of developing cancer in humans. In the following link you can find all the information published by the EFSA related to acrylamide since 2002. Industry (Food and Drink Europe) has developed a document called ‘toolbox’ containing measures that can be applied by the different sectors of food industry to bring its levels down.

European Commission: in November 20th, 2017 the Reglament (UE) 2017/2158 is published containing mitigation measures and benchmark levels for the reduction of the presence of acrylamide in food. The Regulation establishes mandatory mitigation measures for food companies (industry, catering and restoration). At the moment, there are only levels of reference but everything indicates that in the future they will become maximum limits.

Spanish Agency of consumption, food security and nutrition (AECOSAN): is in full campaign of information to diminish the exhibition of acrylamide among consumers and to sensitize the population on the health risks of it. The motto of the campaign: ‘Choose dorado, choose health’. In the following video and link you can find simple recommendations to control the formation of acrylamide when cooking at home.

Undoubtedly, the issue of acrylamide will continue to give much to talk about over the next few years. In CARTIF we have just launched the COLOR Project: “Acrylamide reduction in processed foods” approved in the FEDER INTERCONECTA 2018 call. In this Project, the companies GALLETAS GULLÓN, CYL IBERSNACKS and COOPERATIVA AGRÍCOLA SANTA MARTA will join efforts to achieve the following objectives:

  • To reduce acrylamide in biscuit products and chips.
  • To obtain olive oils capable of counteracting the formation of acrylamide in processed foods.
  • To develop an indirect analytical method to quantify acrylamide more quickly, easily and economically than conventional analytical methods by measuring the COLOR of foods. In the Project we have the collaboration of the Institute of Science and Technology of Food and Nutrition (ICTAN-CSIC) and the Research Group, Food Quality and Microbiology (GRUPO CAMIALI) of the University of Extremadura.