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Early isotopic evidence for maize as a staple grain in the Americas – Science Advances

Posted: June 4, 2020 at 12:47 pm

Abstract

Maize is a cultigen of global economic importance, but when it first became a staple grain in the Americas, was unknown and contested. Here, we report direct isotopic dietary evidence from 52 radiocarbon-dated human skeletons from two remarkably well-preserved rock-shelter contexts in the Maya Mountains of Belize spanning the past 10,000 years. Individuals dating before ~4700 calendar years before present (cal B.P.) show no clear evidence for the consumption of maize. Evidence for substantial maize consumption (~30% of total diet) appears in some individuals between 4700 and 4000 cal B.P. Isotopic evidence after 4000 cal B.P. indicates that maize became a persistently used staple grain comparable in dietary significance to later maize agriculturalists in the region (>70% of total diet). These data provide the earliest definitive evidence for maize as a staple grain in the Americas.

Maize is a staple grain of global dietary importance (1), shaping ecosystems, landscapes, cultures, fire regimes, and biodiversity. However, the early adoption of this crop as a staple (here defined as >25% of total diet) is unknown because of the dearth of archeological sites in the Americas containing early skeletal assemblages needed to directly assess its dietary contribution. Here, we use stable isotope evidence from an unparalleled time series of human skeletal samples, excavated from two rock shelters in Belize spanning the past 10,000 years, to reconstruct the dietary importance of maize through time. We demonstrate that maize became a significant dietary staple for some individuals starting between 4700 and 4000 calendar years before present (cal B.P.) and a persistently used staple grain by 4000 cal B.P. (>70% of total diet). The demographic and environmental impact of this transition had far-reaching consequences for the people of Mesoamerica that have now been amplified on a global scale, particularly in attaining food security in the context of increasingly volatile global climate change.

Maize was domesticated from teosinte (Zea mays spp. parviglumus), a wild grass growing in the lower reaches of the Balsas River Valley of southwestern Mexico (Fig. 1), and molecular clock estimates suggest that it was domesticated in the Early Holocene (~9000 cal B.P.) (2). Microfossils (phytoliths and starch) confirm the use of maize in the Balsas by ~8700 cal B.P. (3). Microfossil data also support widespread dispersal of this important domesticate through the lowland neotropics by at least ~7000 cal B.P. (4). However, the initial dietary significance of maize and the process and timing of its adoption as a staple carbohydrate in the human diet remain unclear. Two rock shelters in Belize are the only known contexts in the Americas containing human skeletal material deposited persistently over the past 10,000 years and during the transition to maize-based food production. Bone preservation in these dry rock shelters provides an unparalleled opportunity to study dietary change associated with the introduction of maize into the region and its subsequent increasing economic and dietary importance across the New World.

Paleoenvironmental sequences are shown as green triangles as follows: (A) San Andres, Tabasco (36); (B) SOC05-2 (19); (C) Lake Puerto Arturo (11); (D) Peten Lakes region (57); (E) Cob Swamp (38); (F) Pulltrowser Swamp (38); and (G) Lake Yojoa (58). Archeological sites with early maize are shown as red dots: (1) Ocampo Caves (59), (2) Xihuatoxtla (3), (3) El Riego (60), (4) San Marcos (60), (5) Coxcatln (60), (6) Guil Naquitz (5), and (7) Caye Coco (25). Map was produced in ArcGIS 10.4, with all subsequent layout and design performed in Photoshop CC 14.2.

Early maize cobs (~6250 cal B.P.) from Guil Naquitz in the Mexican highlands are small and have only two seed rows (5). Ancient DNA data from the earliest Tehuacn Valley cobs (53004950 cal B.P.) indicate a mixture of modern maize-type alleles, controlling stalk and inflorescence architecture, and ancestral teosinte alleles, controlling ear shattering and starch biosynthesis (6, 7). In addition, paleoethnobotanical, paleoecological, and paleogenomic data from South America suggest that maize was dispersed by foraging populations, possibly in a semidomesticated state, as early as ~7000 cal B.P. (8). These observations have led some to speculate that domesticated maize was initially of little dietary importance but instead spread because of the sugar content of stalk juice, enhancing its social significance as a fermented beverage (9). Selection for larger, multirow cobs by ~4300 cal B.P. (10), along with paleoecological studies indicating increased burning, forest clearance, and erosion associated with maize pollen (11), suggests the increasing importance of maize as a staple crop, but even its dietary significance at that time remains elusive.

Stable isotopes from radiocarbon (14C)dated archeological bone collagen (13Ccollagen and 15Ncollagen) combined with bone apatite (13Capatite) provide a powerful measure of the dietary significance of maize in the Americas. 13Ccollagen is a proxy for the primary sources of protein in an individuals diet. Variation results primarily from the isotopic composition of animals and the plants they consume and how the primary producer plants metabolize carbon during photosynthesis. The lowland tropics of Mesoamerica are dominated by plants using the C3 (Calvin-Benson) photosynthetic pathway with distinctively negative 13C values [~26.5 per mil ()] (12). Maize was the primary plant domesticated in the lowland neotropics, and it uses the C4 (Hatch-Slack) photosynthetic pathway with distinctively more positive isotopic values (~9.3) (13). Isotopically, the increasing dietary importance of this domesticate should be evident with more positive 13C ratios. The consumption of marine resources can complicate the interpretation of 13C data by mimicking the consumption of C4 plants if they are not evaluated in conjunction with nitrogen isotope data. Differences in nitrogen isotope values (15N) are sensitive to the trophic position of plants and animals consumed and are used to distinguish between terrestrial and aquatic food consumption (14). Herbivores are enriched by 3 to 7 relative to the plants eaten, and carnivores are enriched by 3 to 5 compared to the animals eaten. Marine mammals and fish are generally enriched by 5 to 10 relative to the terrestrial mammals. However, fish from coral reef ecosystems have high 13Ccollagen and low 15Ncollagen values that overlap isotopically with maize (15). In addition, 13Ccollagen is strongly biased to the protein component of the diet, but 13Capatite generally reflects the whole diet (carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins) (16). Maize kernels contain 8 to 11% protein and 73% carbohydrate, but maize stalk juice is largely composed of carbohydrates and sugar. Therefore, the consumption of fermented beverages from carbohydrate-rich and protein-poor sugary stalk juice (e.g., maize beer or chicha) would be more likely to be visible in 13Capatite and not in 13Ccollagen (17).

Human skeletal material in the Americas is relatively rare before ~3000 cal B.P., and the decomposition or contamination of bone collagen and apatite in the humid lowland neotropics has largely limited stable carbon and nitrogen isotope studies of skeletal material dating before this time. Until our work, the handful of samples available in the lowland neotropics were too poorly preserved to yield reliable results or were from earlier studies that analyzed unpurified collagen that was not directly radiocarbon-dated to verify age (18). One of these studies on the Pacific coast of southern Mexico provides a potentially important time series of samples spanning the last 4500 years (17). The two earliest samples in that study (from contexts thought to be 4500 and 4000 years old) have 13Ccollagen and 15Ncollagen, consistent with significant maize consumption, a result compatible with evidence for the intensification of maize farming in the region during this time (19). However, individuals from contexts thought to date to between 3400 and 2900 cal B.P. showed less dietary reliance on maize. In addition, resources from an adjacent estuary (e.g., shrimp and crabs) were shown to overlap isotopically with maize and confounded interpretation of these data (17). The absence of a clear maize signature in individuals dating between 3400 and 2900 cal B.P. led Blake and colleagues (9) to hypothesize that maize was being consumed as a beverage fermented from stalk juice, but this has not been tested directly with 13Capatite measurements. Overall, chronological and interpretive difficulties in the dataset obscure the dietary importance of maize through time, and the earliest skeletal samples in this time series do not predate the introduction of maize to the region (~6500 cal B.P.) (19).

Stable isotope dietary studies in the Mesoamerican neotropics are most extensive in the Maya lowlands, where emphasis has been placed on variability during the Preclassic (30001700 cal B.P.) (20) and Classic (17001000 cal B.P.) (21, 22) Periods. These studies show strong and increasing reliance on maize after 3000 cal B.P. (23), age- and sex-dependent differences in maize consumption (24), greater access to meat and maize in elite populations (24), and regional variability in the access to maize and marine foods (22). All of the skeletal materials analyzed in these studies postdate the introduction of maize to the region by ~6500 cal B.P. (25) and its intensification after 4300 cal B.P. (10, 11), so dietary variability before and during the transition to maize-based food production is unknown. To evaluate dietary change through time, we obtained a stable isotope dietary data transect from 52 directly radiocarbon-dated human skeletons spanning the past 10,000 years from two remarkably well-preserved rock-shelter sites, Mayahak Cab Pek (MHCP) and Saki Tzul (ST), located in the Maya Mountains of Belize.

MHCP and ST are rock shelters located in an interior valley of the Maya Mountains in the Bladen Nature Reserve (BNR) [162928.98 N, 885437.42 W; 430 m above sea level (masl); Fig. 1), a protected wilderness area where there has been minimal modern human disturbance of archeological sites. The Classic Period Maya settlement of Ek Xux sits in a valley between these two rock shelters, and the much larger Classic Period center of Muklebal Tzul is located only 3 km away. Tikal, Caracol, and 63 other major Classic Period population centers with dated inscriptions occur within 200 km of these rock shelters, 13 with comparative baseline 13Ccollagen, 15Ncollagen, and 13Capatite data from agriculturalists consuming maize (22).

The terrain in the Maya Mountains is rugged (~400 to 1000 masl), and MHCP and ST are positioned above active floodplains at ~430 masl along the Bladen Branch of the Monkey River and the Ek Xux Creek, respectively. Neotropical broadleaf forest predominates in the region and provides a range of edible tree fruits, nuts, and seeds. Palms are sources of fiber, thatch, and food (26), most notably the Cohune (Attalea cohune) palm found in high-density stands that produce a rich source of nuts/oils, fronds used for roofing, and large palm hearts historically used as a famine food (27). Most of the edible plants in this environment use the C3 photosynthetic pathway with the exception of Amaranthaceae, with pollen common in Pleistocene-age sediments (28). Trace amounts of Amaranthaceae pollen has been used as a disturbance indicator in Holocene paleoecological sequences (11). The most notable large prey animals in this region are three deer species (white-tailed, Odocoileus virginianus and brocket deer Mazama americana and Mazama pandora), tapir (Tapirus bairdii), and two peccary species (Tayassu pecari and Pecari tajacu). These animals are largely herbivores and can exploit the interface of the C3 tropical forest and areas of disturbance (29). The Monkey River provides freshwater mollusks (Pachychilus spp.), crabs, and small fish. Overall, protein and carbohydrate availability are dispersed, relatively low density, and seasonally modulated in neotropical forests and would not support concentrated human populations without agriculture (26).

Within this forested environment, MHCP is formed by an east-facing 20-m-high limestone outcrop that creates a 26-m-wide and 6-m-deep rock shelter. Dry sediments and limited root activity inside the dripline (~160 m2) have favored the preservation of bone and carbonized plant materials (30). One 2.5 mby2.5 m excavation trench (figs. S1A and S2) in the center of the rock shelter revealed a ~2.8-m sequence of cultural midden and mortuary deposits. The lowest stratigraphic units (G to K; fig. S2) are organic-rich (silt to silty loam) and contain debris from the limestone cliff outcrop, igneous flaked stone tools of local origin (choppers and hammer stones), large chert bifaces (Lowe points) (30), and animal, riverine shellfish (Pachychilus spp.), and human remains. These deposits do not contain pottery and date between 12,000 and 6000 cal B.P. The upper portion of the sequence (units A to D) is composed of alternating layers of organic-rich rocky sediment and a dense Pachychilus spp. midden. These deposits date after ~3000 cal B.P. and contain pottery fragments, flaked stone chert, and igneous tools and the remains of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Stratigraphic units E and F are transitional between the ceramic and preceramic units and date between 6000 and 3000 cal B.P. and contain Pachychilus midden deposits.

ST formed below another sheer limestone cliff face that is located 1.4 km to the northeast of MHCP across the Bladen River. The shelter sits 70 m above the river, and it is less than 300 m away from the Classic Period Maya center of Ek Xux. It is larger (145 m long and 8 to 15 m wide) than MHCP and has ~1700 m2 of dry sediments inside the dripline. Multiple excavation units (figs. S1B and S3) reveal a parallel sequence to MHCP spanning the past 12,500 years. Artifact density is high in the upper ceramic-bearing strata containing high concentrations of animal bone, burned wood, and disarticulated human remains. Two dense Pachychilus lenses (>70% shell) occur just below these mixed deposits. The preceramic deposits dating to the Middle Holocene are dominated by dark midden sediments and high concentrations of Pachychilus shells and contain stone tools, bone, carbonized plant material, and human skeletal material. The Early Holocene sediments change to a relatively compact light gray silt and contain lower, but consistent, concentrations of Pachychilis shells, stone tools, carbonized plant material, and human burials.

Human remains at both rock shelters reflect similar burial practices and include both primary and secondary burials (section S1). Isolated elements were recovered from many stratigraphic levels, and while some are the result of intrusive disturbance into earlier contexts, others are intentional deposits of individual skeletal elements or multiple elements. Although a wide range of burial practices are reflected in this long mortuary transect, burials in varying degrees of flexure were the most common and are found in all time periods. In total, 63 inhumations have been excavated from both rock shelters, not including isolated remains. Here, we report data for 52 individuals represented by 32 adults, 4 juveniles, 13 infants, and 3 indeterminate age (see dataset S1 and section S1 for details).

We obtained 13Ccollagen, 15Ncollagen, and 13Capatite data and accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) radiocarbon (14C) dates for 30 individuals from MHCP and 22 individuals from ST (Fig. 2 and dataset S2; also see Materials and Methods and section S2 for methodological details and our standards for quality control). Both males (n = 13) and females (n = 12) are represented in the sample of adults; however, the sex for 27 individuals could not be determined because they were incomplete skeletons or too young. Infants under the age of 3 were included in the analysis, but we subtracted 2 from 15Ncollagen values to offset well-documented enrichment associated with nursing (31). 13Ccollagen in infants largely reflects the mothers diet, but some enrichment can occur. However, we did not correct for 13Ccollagen because it is highly variable and less than 1. Juveniles over the age of 3 rarely show 15Ncollagen or 13Ccollagen enrichment associated with nursing (31). The most ancient individuals in this dataset come from the lower cultural strata at MHCP and date to between 9600 and 8600 cal B.P. (dataset S1). Two other individuals date earlier than 6000 cal B.P., and the remainder was persistently buried at these locations until ~1000 cal B.P., with a possible hiatus between 3200 and 2700 cal B.P.

(A) Pre-maize diet (96004700 cal B.P.), (B) transitional maize diet (47004000 cal B.P.), and (C) staple maize diet (40001000 cal B.P.). For more details on the skeletal sample in this study, see section S1 and age model parameters in section S2. The radiocarbon plot produced in OxCal 4.2 with subsequent layout and design was performed in Illustrator CC 17.1.

In this study, we group skeletal remains into three chronological categories based on 13Ccollagen, 13Capatite, and 13Cenamel data that are presented below: pre-maize diet (96004700 cal B.P.), transitional maize diet (47004000 cal B.P.), and staple maize diet (40001000 cal B.P.). Statistical significance between temporal periods was determined using a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Tukeys post hoc test with significant differences observed among 13Ccollagen (n = 47; ANOVA; F2,44 = 290.0, P < 0.001, 2 = 0.929, = 0) and 13Capatite (n = 34; ANOVA; F2,39 = 66.2, P < 0.001, 2 = 0.772, = 0). All post hoc results were corroborated using nonoverlapping bias-corrected and accelerated (BCa) confidence intervals (95% CI) with 1000 bootstrap replicates and verified with permutation test. We evaluated changes in 13C using a linear mixing model to estimate the dietary contribution of maize (%) based on its distinctive C4 photosynthetic pathway (32). We also appraise diet based on a carbon isotope model (33) and a multivariate isotope model (22), both calibrated with controlled feeding studies. We also use a large sample of Classic Period (17501000 cal B.P.) individuals with demonstrated staple maize diets as a comparative baseline to track changes in maize consumption through time (22).

13Ccollagen values (n = 14) in the earliest individuals (older than 4700 cal B.P.) range between 21.6 and 20.3 (mean = 20.8; SD = 0.3) and indicate minimal or no C4 plant consumption (Fig. 3A). When combined with nitrogen isotopes (n = 14; 15Ncollagen, 6.4 to 9.9), these measurements are consistent with a population consuming C3 plants and terrestrial animals from lowland tropical environments. The 15Ncollagen values are, on average, ~3 to 6 higher than published values for herbivores in the region (O. virginianus and M. Americana) (34). Carbon isotope enrichment in these early humans indicates that the consumption of marine foods is not evident. We cannot rule out small dietary contributions of aquatic resources such as small gastropods (Pachychilus spp.), which are abundant throughout the midden sequence and overlap isotopically with C3 plants (34). Other domesticates such as squash (Cucurbita spp.) or manioc (Manihot esculenta) also cannot be ruled out because they also use the C3 photosynthetic pathway and overlap isotopically with wild plant foods found in neotropical forests. 13Ccollagen values may not be sensitive to C4 plant consumption, especially if only carbohydrate-rich portions of the plant were consumed (e.g., sugary stalk juices) (4, 9).

(22) (A) 13Ccollagen versus 15Ncollagen. (B) 13Ccollagen versus 13Capatite plotted against dietary regression lines from experimental feeding studies (33). (C) Function 1 versus function 2 discriminant analysis plotted against data from experimental feeding studies (35). Data analysis in R, with subsequent layout and design performed in Illustrator CC 17.1.

We measured 13Capatite to evaluate total diet (proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates) and to determine whether C4 plants were a substantial part of the total diet. 13Capatite values (n = 15) range between 15.4 and 11.9 (mean = 13.6; SD = 1.0), and comparable results were found in four paired 13Cenamel samples (dataset S1). A simple linear mixing model (32) of 13Capatite indicates a C4 contribution to total diet between 0 and 21% (average = 10.5%; SD = 6.1). Therefore, we cannot rule out minimal consumption of C4 plants (e.g., Amaranthaceae or maize), particularly in the case of three individuals (MHCP.14.1.6 and MHCP.17.1.8, and ST.18.11.9) with values between 16 and 21% C4 dietary contribution coming from C4 carbohydrate-rich source(s). However, 13Capatite and 13Ccollagen plotted against C3 and C4 protein regression lines and calibrated with published archeological and experimental data (33) show that these individuals still cluster on the C3 protein line, indicating a close to pure C3 diet (combined protein and carbohydrates; Fig. 3B), but with small-scale variations in resource consumption. Discriminant function analysis (F1 and F2) in a multivariate model including 13Capatite, 13Ccollagen, and 15Ncollagen (35) shows clustering of samples within the 100% C3 diet space (Fig. 3C).

Carbon isotopic enrichment consistent with an increase in C4 consumption occurs in some individuals after 4700 cal B.P., but diets are highly varied (n = 10, mean = 18.3; SD = 2.2) for ~700 years. The age profile of this sample (including seven individuals younger than 3 years of age) contributes to this variability, but the nursing signature shows that some mothers were consuming substantial amounts of C4 plants. 13Ccollagen values are significantly different from the pre-maize dietary values, indicating that individuals were consuming a protein-rich C4 plant, like maize (8 to 11% protein by kernel weight), or consuming animals eating C4 plants (P < 0.01). There is no statistical difference between 15Ncollagen isotopes (7.0 to 9.9; P = 0.576), and these values do not suggest a major change in the source of protein (e.g., aquatic foods). Therefore, the enrichment in the 13Ccollagen in some individuals reflects a significant increase in the dietary importance of C4 plants or animals consuming C4 plants.

13Capatite values are consistent with an increase in the dietary importance of C4 plant consumption, most certainly maize, ranging between 14.9 and 6.6 (n = 10; mean = 11.2; SD = 2.3; P = 0.04). This translates to C4 plant consumption averaging 25.8% (SD = 14.1) of total diet based on a simple linear mixing model (32). Bivariate plots of 13Capatite and 13Ccollagen show separation of some individuals in this group from the pre-maize diet along the C3 protein line, indicating an increase in C4 protein and carbohydrate consumption consistent with increased maize consumption (Fig. 3B) (33). Discriminant functions (F1 and F2) in the multivariate model show the majority of transitional farmers in the 30% C4 diet space (65% C3 protein; Fig. 3C). Three individuals dating within this interval have isotopic values that are indistinguishable from pre-maize diets and highlight the variability during this transitional period. Permutation tests show low retest reliability in the mean comparisons; however, the observed difference and simulation absolute-threshold differences suggest that transitional maize diets are more enriched than the simulated baselines (figs. S4 to S6). This largely results from high variability and small sample size of this group.

13Ccollagen values for individuals dating after 4000 cal B.P. (n = 23) range between 13.5 and 8.2 and overlap with values for staple maize diets during the Classic Maya Period (Fig. 3A). Comparisons indicate that these values are significantly different from pre- and transitional maize diets (P < 0.001). 15Ncollagen values (6.1 to 10.2) are comparable to earlier populations. There is no evidence for the consumption of marine fish from pelagic environments (low 15Ncollagen isotope values), but we cannot rule out the possibility of some coral reef fish in the diet obtained via trade (22). However, the bones of these animals are largely absent in associated middens, even though we have used techniques designed to recover small bone samples (e.g., 200-m mesh sieves). Overall, the patterns indicate the consumption of forest-dwelling herbivores and heavy reliance on maize.

13Capatite values range between 11.9 and 4.4 (mean = 6.7; SD = 1.9) and are consistent with 21 to 68% (mean = 53.7%; SD = 11.7) of total dietary carbon coming from a C4 source with significant differences between pre-maize and transitional diets (P < 0.001). Bivariate plots of 13Capatite and 13Ccollagen fall on or near the C4/marine protein line and are consistent with staple maize diets from the southern Maya lowlands (Fig. 3B) (22). Discriminant function analysis shows all of the post4000 cal B.P. samples overlapping with individuals from the southern Maya lowlands in the 70% C4 range and with >50% of dietary protein coming from C4 plants or animals eating C4 plants (Fig. 3C). Permutation results support all post hoc differences tested with staple maize diets (figs. S4 to S6).

MHCP and ST are the only archeological deposits in the Americas that contain human skeletal material deposited persistently over the past 10,000 years and the only sites in the lowland neotropics that span the transition to maize-based food production. Preservation of bone organics in these dry rock shelters provides an unparalleled opportunity to study dietary change associated with the introduction of maize into the region and its subsequent development as a food staple of increasing economic and dietary importance. Edible plants of economic value using the C4 photosynthetic pathway are rare in the neotropical lowlands, and this makes stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic analysis a powerful tool for tracking the dietary importance of maize through time.

Isotopic evidence in individuals dating between 9600 and 4700 cal B.P. is consistent with dietary dependence on plants and animals from a C3-dominated neotropical forest. 13Ccollagen values indicate that minimal C4 plant consumption and 15Ncollagen are consistent with the consumption of forest-dwelling herbivores (e.g., white-tailed and brocket deer). We cannot completely rule out minimal consumption of a carbohydrate-rich C4 plant source (e.g., Amaranthaceae or maize) based on slightly elevated 13Capatite values in some individuals based on a linear mixing model (32). Evidence for maize cultivation in the Maya lowlands first appears at ~6500 cal B.P. (25) at about the same time that it appears along the Pacific Coast of Mexico (SOC05-2) (19) and Mexicos Gulf Coast lowlands (36), and it is possible that after this time, maize was adopted in the region for its sugary stalk. However, when 13Ccollagen, 13Capatite, and 15Ncollagen are considered together and evaluated against data from controlled feeding studies (33, 35), all individuals dating before 4700 cal B.P. are consistent with 100% consumption of C3 plants and animals consuming C3 plants. These data are also consistent with the early dietary importance of neotropical trees, particularly cohune palm (27), and tubers in early foraging economies in the neotropical lowlands. Use of these rock shelters until ~5600 cal B.P. appears to be persistent but episodic, suggesting low-density populations exploiting a resource-poor neotropical forest (26).

The first evidence for a significant dietary contribution of maize as a staple (defined here as >25% of total diet) occurs between 4700 and 4000 cal B.P. During this transitional interval, there is a clear increase in both 13Ccollagen and 13Capatite in most individuals consistent with increased maize consumption. However, three individuals overlap isotopically with pre-maize diets, indicating variable reliance on maize during this period. Higher 13Ccollagen and 13Capatite indicate that by this time, maize protein and carbohydrates (kernels) were being consumed. We cannot rule out the consumption of glucose-rich stalk juice, and it is likely that both stalks and kernels were used in beverage preparations. Our data partially overlap isotopically with an early population from South America (Pacopampa, Peru) (37) with higher 13Capatite values that possibly indicate maize beer consumption, but those 13Ccollagen values are not as 13C-enriched as the MHCP and ST individuals. The isotopic data during this transitional interval are inconsistent with the hypothesis that maize was solely used for its sugary stalk in a beverage (17). Overall, our multivariate model of 15Ncollagen, 13Ccollagen, and 13Capatite indicates that maize provided about 30% of total diet (Fig. 3C). These data are consistent with evidence for increased forest burning and clearing, maize cultivation, and erosion across the Maya lowlands, suggesting a greater commitment to maize farming between 4500 and 4000 cal B.P. (11, 38). Increases in maize productivity may have resulted from the development and/or the introduction of new landraces (10) or technological innovation (e.g., nixtamalization) (39). Increasing dietary dependence on maize as a staple grain in this region also coincides with the widespread adoption of maize throughout Mesoamerica (Fig. 4) and its diffusion into the United States by ~4100 cal B.P. (40).

The earliest radiocarbon dates associated with microbotanical evidence for maize in the Balsas region (Xihuatoxtla) (3), Mexicos Gulf Coast (San Andrs) (36), and the Maya region (SOC05-2, Caye Coco, Lake Yojoa, Cob Swamp, and Lake Puerto Arturo) (9, 10, 12, 13, 16) are also shown. Summed probability distributions and dietary phases produced in OxCal 4.2 with subsequent layout and design were performed in Illustrator CC 17.1.

Individuals in our sample dating after 4000 cal B.P. overlap isotopically with a large dataset from the Classic Period (17501000 cal B.P.) Maya populations (22). In this larger dataset, elites were more enriched isotopically than commoners, and our samples overlap more with the commoner population, indicating equal amounts of C3 and C4 foods and relatively high in C4 protein sources like maize or maize-fed animals. A persistent contribution of reef fish is largely discounted because of the interior position of most sites, and this would certainly be the case for MHCP and ST located at least a 2-day walk from the coast and where marine food residues have not been identified in associated archeofaunal assemblages. These data point to a strong commitment to maize-based food production combined with the continued exploitation of foods from the neotropical forest that may have involved more sophisticated forest management systems (4). The dietary dependence on maize is consistent with greater investments in surplus agricultural production, and the resulting deforestation, soil degradation, and erosion as populations increased in size and aggregation (41).

Our results suggest that maize-based food production and dietary dependency on maize came to form the economic basis for these developments but did not stimulate them immediately. Increasing dietary dependence on maize between 4700 and 4000 cal B.P. precedes archeological evidence for the earliest pottery-making agricultural villages in the Maya region by over 1000 years (ca. 31003000 cal B.P.) (23, 25). It remains unclear whether the transition to maize-based food production and the associated dietary changes resulted from the influx of a new population into the Maya lowlands. Linguistic data suggest that Proto-Maya diversified out of the western Guatemalan Highlands likely around 4200 cal B.P. as Huastecan speakers moved northeastward and then eventually settled along the Gulf Coast of Mexico, followed shortly after by diversification of Yucatec speakers into the Maya lowlands (42). Proto-Mayan contained words for maize planting, harvesting, and processing of maize, minimally indicating some cultivation of the domesticate (43). Given uncertainties associated with glottochronology and its partial reliance on archeological data, it is plausible that increases in the dietary reliance of maize co-occurred with language dispersal and population movements. Before the arrival of Yucatec speakers, the lowlands were inhabited by unknown non-Maya populations who we show were consuming increasing amounts of maize as new people and new varieties of maize were moving into the region. It has been suggested that they may have spoken a language typologically similar to lower Central American Xinkan, Lenkan, or Tol based on limited phonemic evidence (43). The term for maize in Xinkan derives from a very early, possibly Proto-Mayan root, suggesting that Xinkan foragers adopted the word after contact with early Maya farmers in the Guatemalan Highlands (44). The linguistic evidence also hints at the complex demographic history in the region. We now know that the earliest colonists in North and South America were genetically distinct from modern Maya populations (45), but it remains unclear how long these ancestral colonizing populations persisted in the region before being replaced or admixed. Coinciding with the transition to agriculture and the emergence of societal complexity leading to the Classic Period, the dietary shifts evident in our dataset therefore provide tantalizing evidence for the origins of Maya people in the lowland neotropics.

MHCP and ST are highly significant because they are the only archeological sites in the Americas with a relatively continuous diachronic sample of human skeletal material spanning the past 10,000 years. Therefore, the stable isotope analysis of these directly radiocarbon-dated individuals provides an unprecedented view of dietary changes during the transition from foraging to farming in the Americas. In the lowland neotropics, these data complement genetic and paleobotanical evidence for the domestication and spread of maize after ~9000 cal B.P. Paleoecological records in the Maya region suggest that the initial introduction of maize, in its earliest form, occurred between ~6500 and 5500 cal B.P. (25), but maize had little dietary impact as a staple before 4700 cal B.P. Consumption increased after this time, and it became a persistent dietary staple by 4000 cal B.P. Comparable isotopic studies indicate the adoption of maize as a staple elsewhere in Mesoamerica by ~3000 cal B.P. (9), in South America no earlier than 3500 cal B.P. (46), and in North America later than 2500 cal B.P. (47, 48). Ultimately, this transition contributed to the expansion and aggregation of populations, increases in social inequality, and major environmental transformations.

Permits for field research in Belize and permissions to export and conduct direct dating and isotopic analyses of ancient human remains were issued by the Institute of Archaeology, National Institute of Culture and History, Belize, with additional permits to conduct fieldwork in the BNR issued by the Forest Department (FD), Belize. They are the legal entities responsible for permitting research. Research permit applications were also formally reviewed and supported by our local collaborator, the Yaaxch Conservation Trust (Yaaxch), a Belizean conservation nongovernmental organization strongly committed to preservation of environmental diversity and heritage. Yaaxch co-manages the BNR with the Belize FD. Yaaxch is largely staffed and administered by members of local communities, some of whom are park rangers working alongside our archeological team conducting fieldwork with other members of local communities. From 2016 to 2020, the results of our field and laboratory studies were presented to members of local communities through events organized by Yaaxch and as a condition of archeological permits and in mutual support of our ongoing collaboration. The results of both field and laboratory studies have been presented annually (2014 and 20162019) at the Belize Archaeology Symposium, a public conference attended by members of many diverse communities in Belize.

Carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios were measured on extracted and purified bone collagen or the amino acids that comprise bone collagen. Bone collagen was extracted and purified using a modified Longin method with ultrafiltration (49). Samples (200 to 400 mg) were demineralized for 24 to 36 hours in 0.5 N HCl at 5C, followed by a brief (<1 hour) alkali bath in 0.1 N NaOH at room temperature to remove humates. The residue was rinsed to neutrality in multiple changes of H2O (18.2 megohm per cm) and then gelatinized for 12 hours at 60C in 0.01 N HCl. The resulting gelatin was lyophilized and weighed to determine percent yield as a first evaluation of the degree of bone collagen preservation. Rehydrated gelatin solution was pipetted into precleaned Centriprep ultrafilters (retaining >30-kDa molecular weight gelatin) and centrifuged three times for 20 min, diluted with H2O (18.2 megohm per cm), and centrifuged three more times for 20 min to desalt the solution.

In most instances, bone collagen samples were too poorly preserved for ultrafiltration, and amino acids that comprise bone collagen were extracted from bone samples and pretreated using a modified XAD process (50). The sample gelatin was hydrolyzed in 2 ml of 6 N HCl for 24 hours at 110C. Supelco ENVI-Chrom SPE (solid-phase extraction; Sigma-Aldrich) columns with 0.45-m polyvinylidene difluoride filters were equilibrated with 50 ml of 6 N HCl, and the washings were discarded. Two milliliters of collagen hydrolyzed as HCl was pipetted onto the SPE column and driven with an additional 10 ml of 6 N HCl dropwise with a syringe into a 20-mm culture tube. The hydrolyzate was lastly dried into a viscous syrup by passing UHP (ultra-high purity) N2 gas over the sample heated at 50C for ~12 hours. The isotope ratios of extracted amino acids may not be directly comparable to collagen ratios, but the differences are minor (50).

Carbon and nitrogen concentrations and stable isotope ratios of the collagen or amino acid samples were measured at the Yale Analytical and Stable Isotope Center with a Costech elemental analyzer (ECS 4010) and Thermo DELTAPlus analyzer. Sample quality was evaluated by % crude gelatin yield, %C, %N, and C/N ratios. C/N ratios ranging between 3 and 3.5 indicated good collagen or amino acid preservation (49).

Bone collagen or individual amino acids were directly dated at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) AMS radiocarbon dating facility. Samples (Ultrafiltration, ~2.1 mg; XAD, ~3.5 mg) were combusted for 3 hours at 900C in vacuum-sealed quartz tubes with CuO and Ag wires. Sample CO2 was reduced to graphite at 550C using H2 and an Fe catalyst, with reaction water drawn off with Mg(ClO4)2 (49).

Graphite samples were pressed into targets in Al boats and loaded on a target wheel, and 14C measurements were made on a modified National Electronics Corporation (NEC) compact spectrometer with a 0.5-MV accelerator (NEC 1.5SDH-1). The 14C ages were corrected for mass-dependent fractionation, with 13C values measured on the AMS (51) and compared with samples of Pleistocene whale bone (backgrounds, 48,000 14C B.P.), late Holocene bison bone (~1850 14C B.P.), late 1800s CE cow bone, and OX-2 oxalic acid standards for normalization. All calibrated 14C ages, probability distributions, and phase boundaries (section S2 and dataset S2) were computed using OxCal version 4.3 (52) with the IntCal13 northern hemisphere curve (53).

The preparation for carbonate analysis in bone was conducted in the Human Paleoecology and Isotope Geochemistry Laboratory at the PSU using a modified version of procedures outlined in (54). A 2.5 2.5 cm fragment of bone shaft was cleaned using a mechanical drill so that the outer layer of the bone cortex and all trabecular bone were removed from the sample. Using an agate mortar and pestle, bone samples were ground into a fine powder. For each sample, 50 to 100 mg of bone powder were reacted in 2 ml of 2% bleach (NaOCl) for 24 hours at room temperature with vented capped vials and then rinsed three times in H2O (18.2 megohm per cm) or until the sample reached a neutral pH. Following the bleach treatment, samples were reacted in 2 ml of 0.1 M acetic acid (CH3COOH) for 24 hours at room temperature with vented capped vials (55) and then rinsed again to a neutral pH with water (18.2 megohm per cm). The samples were then dried overnight at 60C and subsequently analyzed at the Center for Stable Isotopes, University of New Mexico by continuous-flow isotope ratio mass spectrometry using a GasBench device coupled to a Thermo Fisher Scientific Delta V Plus isotope ratio mass spectrometer. The results are reported using the delta notation measured against VPDB (Vienna Pee Dee Belemnite). Reproducibility was better than 0.1 for both 13C based on repeats of a laboratory standard (Carrara Marble). The laboratory standard is calibrated versus National Institute of Standards and Technology (NBS)-19, for which the 13C is 1.95.

Statistical analyses were performed in SPSS 25.0 (IBM SPSS, Chicago, IL, USA) and R software. The P value threshold for statistical significance was 0.05 for all tests. A priori power analysis (1) and effect size test (2) were performed for the primary computational results. Individual burials were categorized into three groups: pre-maize diets, transitional maize diets, and staple maize diets. Normality was evaluated using the Shapiro-Wilk test, and homogeneity of variance was assessed using Levenes test. A one-way ANOVA was applied to compare differences followed by Tukeys post hoc test and Dunnetts T3 post hoc test in the cases of heterogeneity of variance. Statistical differences were corroborated via nonoverlapping BCa confidence intervals (95% CI) with 1000 bootstrap replicates. We evaluated the post hoc results using permutation tests with 1000 randomized iterations and resampling in R (figs. S4 to S6). Plots were created in R using ggplot2. Descriptive statistics are available in dataset S1.

Analysis of carbonate (CO3) in biogenic hydroxyapatite [Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2] was first tested for diagenetic alteration using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy at the Materials Characterization Laboratory at the PSU using a Bruker Vertex 70v FTIR spectrometer with a DiaMax attenuated total reflection accessory. Each spectrum was the result of 100 scans for mid-range IR (4000 to 400 cm1) with a spectral resolution of 4 cm1. Corrected baselines for the spectra were calculated by adding the heights of the absorptions and then dividing by the height of the minimum between them (56). A new background was created for each sample run. To determine the degree of apatite recrystallization, the crystallinity index or infrared splitting factor was calculated using the height of the absorption bands at 603 and 565 cm1 divided by the height of the valley between them at ~595 cm1. All but two measured sample spectra had a crystallinity index less than 3.8, which indicated a well-preserved biogenic signal, and remained in this study for analysis. While the ratio of the absorption peak height at 1415 cm1 (CO3) and 1035 cm1 (PO4) indicates degraded carbonate material, all sample spectra are consistent with expected C/P ratios observed in archeological bone (56), and none of the spectra indicate CaCO3 contaminant absorption at 710 cm1 (figs. S7 to S10).

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

S. H. Ambrose, L. Norr, in Prehistoric Human Bone: Archaeology at the Molecular Level, J. B. Lambert, G. Grupe, Eds. (Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 1993), pp. 137.

M. Blake, Maize for the Gods: Unearthing the 9,000-Year History of Corn (University of California Press, 2015).

R. H. Tykot, N. J. van der Merwe, N. Hammond, Stable Isotope Analysis of Bone Collagen, Bone Apatite, and Tooth Enamel in the Reconstruction of Human Diet, in Archaeological Chemistry (American Chemical Society, 1996), vol. 625 of ACS Symposium Series, pp. 355365.

D. R. Piperno, D. M. Pearsall, The Origins of Agriculture in the Lowland Neotropics (Academic Press, 1998).

L. E. Wright, Diet, Health, and Status Among the Pasin Maya: A Reappraisal of the Collapse (Vanderbilt Univ. Press, 2006).

R. H. Tykot, R. L. Burger, N. J. van der Merwe, The Importance of Maize in Initial Period and Early Horizon Peru, in Histories of Maize: Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Prehistory, Linguistics, Biogeography, Domestication, and Evolution of Maize, J. Staller, R. Tykot, B. Benz, Eds. (Academic Press, 2006), pp. 187197.

J. Staller, M. Carrasco, Pre-Columbian Foodways (Springer Science, 2010).

L. Campbell, Mayan loan words in Xinca, in The Mayan Languages (Routledge Language Family Series, 2017), pp. 62111.

T. Kaufman, Aspects of the lexicon of proto-Mayan and its earliest descendants, in The Mayan Languages (Routledge Language Family Series, 2017), pp. 62111.

M. A. Katzenberg, Prehistoric Maize in Southern Ontario: Contributions from Stable Isotope Studies, in Histories of Maize: Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Prehistory, Linguistics, Biogeography, Domestication, and Evolution of Maize (Academic Press, 2006), pp. 263270.

Acknowledgments: We thank the Belize Institute of Archaeology (permits) and the staff of Yaaxch Conservation Trust for logistical support. We thank the following members of the Human Paleoecology and Isotope Geochemistry Laboratory for their assistance processing AMS 14C radiocarbon and stable isotope samples: L. Eccles, M. Davis, L. Crouthamel, X. Moreno, and L. Simmins. AMS 14C radiocarbon dates from this project were analyzed at the PSU AMS 14C facility and the W. M. Keck Carbon Cycle Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratory. We thank T. TJ Zimudzi at the PSU Materials Characterization Laboratory for his guidance during the FTIR analysis and N.-V. Atudorei at the UNM Center for Stable Isotopes for the 13C analysis of carbonates. Thanks to H. Neff, L. Kistler, R. Rosenswig, H. Thakar, R. Tykot, D. Piperno, J. Capriles, S. Plog, S. Newsome, J. Kennett, and two anonymous reviewers for guidance and valuable comments that helped improve the manuscript. Funding: The work was funded by the Alphawood Foundation (20142019; K.M.P.) and NSF (SBE1632061, K.M.P.; SBE-1632144, D.J.K. and B.J.C.). General laboratory support at the PSU from NSF Archaeometry program BCS-1460369 to D.J.K. and B.J.C. Author contributions: D.J.K., K.M.P., B.J.C., and M.R. designed research; D.J.K., K.M.P., M.R., W.R.T., R.J.G., B.J.C., G.M.B., E.M., E.J.K., T.K.H., L.O., E.E.R., E.C.H., A.A., C. Merriman, C. Meredith, and H.J.H.E. collected data; D.J.K., K.M.P., R.J.G., B.J.C., J.J.A., S.M.G., and T.K.H. analyzed data; and D.J.K. and K.M.P. wrote the paper, with contributions from all authors. Competing interests: The authors declare that they have no competing interests. Data and materials availability: All data needed to evaluate the conclusions in the paper are present in the paper and/or the Supplementary Materials. Detailed fieldwork reports including excavation forms, photographs, and artifact inventories are permanently stored at the Institute of Archaeology (Belmopan, Belize) and are available from the authors upon request.

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Early isotopic evidence for maize as a staple grain in the Americas - Science Advances

Stuck in a weight loss rut? Here’s how to speed up your metabolism to blast belly fat – T3

Posted: June 4, 2020 at 12:47 pm

Finding out how to lose weight shouldn't be so complicated. Once you start eating more mindfully and do some exercise, you should naturally start to lose belly fat without having to put yourself through the horrors of intermittent fasting or the keto diet although both have a lot of fans, and a certain amount of scientific evidence to support them. One way to help the weight loss process is to speed up your metabolism and to do that, we've collected 3 easy-to-follow tips that you can implement today.

An improved rate of metabolism can help you keep weight off, and generally turn you into a healthier and leaner individual. As usual, there's no instant fix to be had here, but being fit and having a faster metabolism quickly become a virtuous circle.

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According to research cited by Healthline, "proteincauses the largest rise in TEF (thermic effect of food). It increases your metabolic rate by 1530%, compared to 510% for carbs and 03% for fats." As Healthline explains, the "thermic effect of food caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal."

Since digesting protein takes more effort from your body, by eating more of it you will basically work out using your metabolic system (we might be exaggerating here). Protein is also essential for muscle repair and recovery, so if you are actively working out, it is recommended to take between 1.6-2 grams of protein per body kilogram per day.

You should source protein from a variety of food stuff like lean meat, nuts, green veg and eggs. Supplementing protein is also popular among athletes: protein powder shakes are probably the most convenient way to get your protein fix on the go but you can also have protein bars or jerky as well as post workout snack.

(Image credit: Sage)

Caffeine found in coffee and teas can boost metabolism significantly. Not everyone reacts to caffeine the same way and it is also recommended not to drink too many cups of coffee/caffeinated beverages in a day. Green tea has a lower caffeine content so combining coffee and green tea consumption can have better results.

Drinking more water can also improve metabolism: combine increased water consumption with more fibrous food for the best results.

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Stuck in a weight loss rut? Here's how to speed up your metabolism to blast belly fat - T3

Healthcare and Nutrition for Women in Assam Was Already Inadequate. Then Came COVID-19 – The Wire

Posted: June 4, 2020 at 12:47 pm

It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused inconceivable human suffering and will worsen gender-based inequalities.

As economic activity grinds to a standstill, women, who were already disadvantaged when it came to accessing decent work, will suffer the most.

In Assam, the unemployment rate is likely to increase and settle in the range between 14% and 25% from the current level of 8% and poverty ratio is expected to rise to 50.8% for the state in the worst possible scenario with a 15% fall in income. The figure is estimated to be 54% for rural Assam.

Estimates from the National Flood Commission of the Ministry of Water Resources show that 31.60 lakh hectares of area are vulnerable to floods in Assam which amounts to 9.4% of the total flood-prone area in the country and affects one-third of the population in the state. The reproductive healthcare and nutritional security of women and children are therefore severely challenged with the additional burden of a possible escalation in poverty in the wake of the outbreak of the coronavirus and impeding flood during monsoons.

The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) shows that approximately 36% of women in Assam had a Body mass index (BMI) that was below normal and 8% were obese. Anaemia was prevalent in 72% of pregnant women and 69% of women who were not pregnant. In addition, teenage pregnancy (15-19 years age group) was at 61.4% and 13.6% of them were already mothers.

Also read: COVID-19 Has Pushed Indias Already Suffering Tea Plantation Workers into Deeper Crisis

The low BMI and anaemic conditions amongst women in Assam contribute towards reinforcing structural deficiency in child health. There are 36% children in the state with stunted growth (NFHS-4). Furthermore, adequate breastfeeding and supplementary diet for children has decreased to 49% in 2015 (NFHS-4) compared to 60.1% in 20015 (NFHS-3) in the state.

Only 8.9% of children during the first two years of their lives received an adequate diet. It is therefore not difficult to understand why the incidence of infant mortality rate(IMR) and nutritional deficiency continues to be high in Assam. The low nutritional intake during the first two years of early childhood is also likely to lead to cognitive impairments and further impact growth and development.

Tribal women are seen sowing rice crops in an agricultural field in the outskirt of Nagaon Town in Assam. Photo: Flickr/Diganta Talukdar

Womens diet is an important indicator of a childs health. The NFHS-4 data shows that the protein content of diet in Assam is around 7% in rural and 10% in urban areas. The per capita per diem intake of protein in rural Assam is 54.4 gm and for urban areas is 58.8 gm. The average calorie intake per capita per diem in rural Assam is 2120 and 2176 in urban areas and the urban calorie intake per capita is above the recommended calorie intake for poverty level (2100 calorie per day per person) in India but for rural areas, it is below the poverty level (2400 calorie per day per person).

The NSSOs 66th round data indicates that 59% rural and 52% of urban households in Assam face a calorie deficit (<2700 calorie intake per consumer unit per day).

As per the PLFS 2017-18 data, the unemployment rate for females is 13.6% and 7.2% for males in the state. The labour force participation rate (LFPR) for females is 12.7 and the same for males is 80.3% which means a higher proportion of females stay away from active economic work in the state.

The worker population ratio (WPR) is 10.8% for females and 74.1% for males. The average wage for a male worker is Rs 17,375.5 and for a female worker is Rs 12, 891.9 with a male-female wage differential of Rs 4,484. These add to womens household vulnerabilities with access to nutritional sufficiency.

Also read: In Assam, the Healthcare Apparatus for Women Needs a Complete Overhaul

Household vulnerabilities are compounded further given that 75% of the total workers in the state are either self-employed or comprises of casual workers and of the 25% in regular employment, 49% are non-regular.

Therefore access to income and work uncertainty for households is acute during the current pandemic. With a halt to economic activities, poverty and deprivation will escalate. The AHDR, 2014 showed that over the past one and a half-decade, the state lost about one-third of the potential aggregate human development due to the prevailing inequalities underlying achievements in education, health and income dimensions. The loss due to inequality was highest in income dimension (44%) followed by health (32%) and education (9%).

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to affect an estimated 67 lakh peoples livelihood with myriad vulnerabilities and contribute to worsening of household wellbeing with a spillover effect on nutritional deficiency. This is likely to worsen the RCH which may contribute towards reversing the current improvement in MMR and IMR. These will have far reaching consequence on overall human development in the state in years to come. The road map to revamp state economy in fighting Covid-19 cannot ignore this aspect.

Dr Saswati Choudhury is senior faculty at Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development in Guwahati.

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Healthcare and Nutrition for Women in Assam Was Already Inadequate. Then Came COVID-19 - The Wire

As NJ buildings reopen, they need to flush pipes to keep water safe – wobm.com

Posted: June 4, 2020 at 12:47 pm

As many offices and other large buildings begin to reopen following months of being unoccupied during the state's stay-at-home order, New Jersey American Water is reminding building owners, operators and managers to take part in proper flushing procedures to keep its water clean and safe.

Matt Csik, director of water quality and environmental compliance for New Jersey American Water, said when water sits in the internal pipes of a building without use for a long time, lead from those pipes can flake into the water. Sitting water can also allow dangerous bacteria such as legionella to grow and enter the water.

Building managers need to flush the water that's been sitting in those internal pipes so fresher water comes through.

To do that, Csik said they need to run each cold-water tap in the building for at least two minutes. Once someone notices a temperature change or a chlorine smell, that's a good assurance that they're pooling fresh water from the system all the way to the tap.

Csik said if building owners don't properly flush all the pipes, they could expose people to levels of lead that has entered the water from the internal pipes of the building. It also can create a problem where bacteria has grown in the pipes. That can create water droplets that people can inhale and become sick.

Ideally, if a building owner knows the tap that is the furthest from where the water enters the building from the pipes, start with that tap and flush it until the chlorine smell or the temperature change indicates fresh water is flowing through the system. Then work back to where the water enters the building, flushing each and every tap.

He said it's also a good idea to flush showers, letting them run for a few minutes, and to flush toilets at least two times.

Another thing people need to be careful about is ice makers and refrigerators that have water dispensers. Csik said building managers need to make sure they make follow the owners manuals to make sure they are properly flushed before people use them.

Csik said this kind of problem with pipes can happen under any circumstances if a building is sitting for a long period of time without use. But with so many buildings shut for a long time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so many businesses are now reopening months later. It's even more important now that proper flushing protocols be taken.

"We're just really reminding our customers to make sure they're protecting anybody who could consume the water from those buildings," said Csik.

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As NJ buildings reopen, they need to flush pipes to keep water safe - wobm.com

Cabinet accused of wasting more funds on virus countermeasures : The Asahi Shimbun – Asahi Shimbun

Posted: June 4, 2020 at 12:47 pm

Government spending plans to help businesses suffering in the novel coronavirus pandemic have again come under fire over the amounts earmarked for paperwork as well as a lack of transparency over the programs.

The Constitution requires all government expenditures to first gain Diet approval.

However, a reserve fund of 10 trillion yen ($92 billion) planned in the second supplementary budget is recognized as a measure for unforeseen deficiencies in the budget, meaning that it can be spent as the Cabinet wishes without gaining prior approval of the Diet.

Opposition lawmakers said they would not simply stand by and allow that second supplementary budget to pass unchallenged.

It would be an act of suicide for the Diet to give the government carte blanche to spend 10 trillion yen, Jun Azumi, the Diet Affairs Committee chairman of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said.

Diet deliberations on the second supplementary budget will begin next week.

Another target of criticism during June 3 Diet deliberations was the central governments program to encourage consumers to spend more to help businesses that have been particularly hard-hit by stay-home requests to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections.

The Go To Campaign involves various measures, such as issuing coupons that can be used at tourist destinations or restaurants and providing subsidies to local shopping malls to organize events to attract consumers.

The total cost of the Go To Campaign is 1.7 trillion yen. But 309.5 billion yen, or about 18 percent of the total, has been set aside to handle the paperwork and other administrative matters for the measures.

Tourism minister Kazuyoshi Akaba explained that between 13 and 23 percent of the amounts for previous tourism support measures were earmarked for administrative matters.

However, the past tourism support programs were smaller in scale and designed for specific areas, such as prefectures damaged by natural disasters.

The Go To Campaign will cover the entire nation.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has been accepting applications since May 26 from the private sector to handle administrative procedures for the Go To Campaign.

The deadline for submitting applications is June 8, but the ministry remains vague on how the 309.5 billion yen will be used.

Opposition lawmakers said the administrative expenses should be sharply reduced so that more money can reach companies in the tourism sector facing serious difficulties in the coronavirus pandemic.

Satoshi Arai of the CDP suggested that the central government funds be distributed to prefectural governments that would provide the money to local tourism associations and chambers of commerce, which would have a better grasp of where support is most needed.

An economy ministry official explained why such a large amount is needed to handle administrative matters.

The official said reports are required for how the funds are used, call centers must be set up to handle inquiries from businesses and consumers interested in the programs, and publicity is needed for the campaign.

The official also cited personnel expenses and the creation of new computer systems for the program.

However, the ministry has not provided a detailed breakdown for each of those expense areas.

More questions were raised in the Diet about the Service Design Engineering Council, which has been commissioned by the government to handle paperwork for the subsidy program for small businesses.

The council is being paid 76.9 billion yen for the work, but it has turned around and outsourced the job for 74.9 billion yen to advertising giant Dentsu Inc., one of the companies that was involved in establishing the council in 2016.

It now turns out that the council has never released an annual financial statement as is required by law.

Opposition lawmakers who tried to find out what the council actually did said visits to its Tokyo office led to nothing because no one was available to answer questions.

Fueling the criticism from the opposition was the economy ministrys admission that it was considering paying the council about 85 billion yen to handle additional paperwork for measures included in the second supplementary budget.

The 10 trillion-yen reserve fund in the extra budget will come on top of the 1.5 trillion yen set aside for the reserve fund in the first supplementary budget passed in late April.

So far, the largest total for the reserve fund over the course of a year was the approximately 2 trillion yen set aside in fiscal 2011, when the nation was reeling from the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.

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Cabinet accused of wasting more funds on virus countermeasures : The Asahi Shimbun - Asahi Shimbun

Weight loss: Burn belly fat and hundreds of calories by drinking green tea daily – Express

Posted: June 4, 2020 at 12:45 pm

Just a cup a day increases the amount of antioxidants in your bloodstream. The antioxidants in the drink are known as epigallocatechin gallate, a substance that can boost the metabolism.

Some experts suggest drinking the tea in the morning to kickstart your metabolism for the day.

Compounds in the healthy drink increases levels of hormones that tell fat cells to break down fat. This releases fat into your bloodstream and makes it available as energy.

Therefore not only will you be burning more fat, you will also have more energy to use throughout the day.

Dr Beianart added: In fact, green tea may support weight loss in several ways: increasing thermogenesis (calorie burning), increasing fat oxidation (burning of fat for energy), reducing fat absorption, and even reducing appetite!

Green tea could also aid weight loss by reducing appetite.

Therefore this could mean that you consume fewer calories throughout the day and wont be inclined to reach for snacks.

It is a well known fact that in order to lose weight your body needs to be in a calorie deficit.

This means consuming fewer calories than your body is burning. It is recommended to be in a calorie deficit of around 500-1000 calories a day but it is important to note that everybody is different and needs a different amount of calories.

Green tea benefits extend beyond weight loss, it can reduce your risk of major diseases which may lead to a longer and healthier life.

Therefore consuming this drink at any time of the day can be beneficial for you in many different ways.

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Weight loss: Burn belly fat and hundreds of calories by drinking green tea daily - Express

United States Weight Loss Market in 2020: Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic – ResearchAndMarkets.com – Business Wire

Posted: June 4, 2020 at 12:45 pm

DUBLIN--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The "Status Report of The U.S. Weight Loss Market in 2020: Effects of The Pandemic" report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com's offering.

This new report presents a wrap-up of 2019 performance for the U.S. weight loss market, and a forecast for 2020 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The value of the total market is projected to decline by 9% to $71 billion this year as a result of temporary closures of weight loss centers and medical programs in March-May. However, some market segments have actually prospered due to shifting dieter behaviors - frozen dinner entrees, meal replacements, weight loss apps and other virtual services, and multi-level marketing channels.

The report covers discussions of:

2019 market/revenue performance, recent competitor developments (Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Medifast, Noom, others), latest dieter trends, shifting of the diet season in 2020, MLM channels, weight loss & fitness apps.

Individual Status Reports and the probable Effects of the Pandemic on operations and revenues, for ALL major weight loss market segments diet soft drinks, artificial sweeteners, health clubs, commercial weight loss chains, health clubs, OTC meal replacements and diet pills, medical programs (physicians, hospitals/clinic programs, prescription diet drugs, bariatricians, modified fasting programs, weight loss surgeries), and low-calorie dinner entrees.

Key Topics Covered

Introduction, Scope, Methodology

Overview: Weight Loss Market Size & Market Segments

Table:

Effects of COVID-19 on Consumer Dieting Behavior

Commercial Weight Loss Programs

Table:

Company Outlooks, 2019 performance & developments, 2020 Revenue Forecasts:

Retail Meal Replacements & Appetite Suppressants Market

Tables:

Company Outlooks & 2020 Sales Forecasts:

Medical Weight Loss Programs

Hospital & Clinic Chains, MD programs

Table:

Physician-based diet programs:

VLCD/LCD Modified Fasting Programs

The Weight Loss (bariatric) Surgery Market

Tables:

The Diet Drugs Market

The Diet Soft Drinks & Artificial Sweeteners Market

The Diet Soft Drinks Market

Table:

The Artificial Sweeteners Market

Table:

Frozen Diet Dinner Entrees Market

Low-cal Frozen Diet Entrees & Low-cal Foods Market

Health Clubs Industry

Reference Directory of Industry Sources

Companies Mentioned

For more information about this report visit https://www.researchandmarkets.com/r/n6bry1.

Research and Markets also offers Custom Research services providing focused, comprehensive and tailored research.

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United States Weight Loss Market in 2020: Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic - ResearchAndMarkets.com - Business Wire

What Can You Drink While Intermittent Fasting? – Women’s Health

Posted: June 4, 2020 at 12:45 pm

Intermittent fasting (IF), an eating style that's typically paired with high-protein or keto diets, begs a lot of questions, especially if you're new to it. You might be curious what type of fasting schedule you should try, what the legit health benefits are, whether you'll experience any side effects, and what kind of weight-loss results you can expect. Another common question is whether you can have beverages, like coffee and water, during your fasting periods.

The short answer is: It depends on the beverage and the type of IF diet you're following (different types of intermittent fasting, from dry fasting to the Warrior Diet, have different guidelines). But a good rule of thumb is to avoid any drinks that have any calories while you're fasting, says New Jersey-based dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, author of 2 Day Diabetes Diet.

Consuming any carbs, proteins, or fats when you're trying to maintain a fasted state can negate the weight-loss benefits of intermittent fasting, she says. IF diets are also thought to lead to a reduction in insulin resistance and help control blood sugar, both of which can reduce your chances of becoming diabetic. These benefits can be quickly canceled out if you consume too many liquid calories during a period of what should be a fasted state.

Here's what you should know about all some of the most popular drinks you might *want* to consume while doing intermittent fasting, and whether or not they'll take you out of a fasted state.

You can drink it black. Black coffee is calorie-free, so it's fine to enjoy during the fasting phase. But adding in sugar, cream, or milk is best avoided, as it can add calories to the drink that can take you out of a fasted state.

If you do want to flavor your coffee during a fast, experiment with calorie-free flavoring from a spice like cinnamon, says Palinski-Wade. Save the coffee add-ons for your non-fast windows of time."

Additionally, avoid having more than one cup, or switch to decaf, when you're fasting. Excessive caffeine, especially on an empty stomach, may increase those jittery feelings which can often increase appetite and the desire to snack, she says.

Go for it. Just like coffee, tea is naturally calorie-free and fine to have during a fast, so long as its simply brewed tea that comes from tea bags, leaves, or flakes. Bottled ice tea is often heavily sweetened, so if you go that route, make sure youre opting for one that is unsweetened and not loaded with added sugar and calories, says Palinski-Wade. Caloric add-ons such as honey, milk or cream should be reserved for non-fasting times, just like with coffee.

Since tea is naturally lower in caffeine than coffee, you can have a bit more during fasts, however I would still recommend opting for decaf when possible, she says.

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Drink up. Water is naturally calorie-free so there's no need to restrict it, says Palinski-Wade. Water in general is a good idea to sip on during fasting times to ensure hydration but also as a way to fill your stomach and prevent hunger.

If you enjoy flavored water, you can add in fruit wedges or a splash of lemon or lime juice (or a splash of another juice) as long as it is a true "splash" (around one tablespoon per 12 ounces) and doesnt add more than a trivial amount of calories, says Palinski-Wade. Carbonated water/seltzer can be treated in the same way as water, as long as it is naturally flavored and calorie-free.

Skip it. If you're wondering if you can drink soda (or diet soda) while you're doing intermittent fasting, Palinski-Wade recommends staying away from soda in general, even if youre not following a diet like intermittent fasting.

Regular sodas are usually loaded with sugar and calories and offer no nutritional value, she says. There also isnt enough data and research to say whether diet soda is okay to drink during IF, but research suggests that consuming too many artificial sweeteners (as diet sodas tend to have) can increase cravings and appetite, as well as promote weight gain and the storage of fat.

Your best bet is to limit all sodas as much as possible and satisfy carbonation cravings with seltzer or carbonated water, she says.

Pass on it. Alcohol should never be consumed when in a fasting period, as its effects can be intensified when consumed on an empty stomach, says Palinski-Wade. Alcohol is also a source of calories, so drinking it would break your fast while also likely stimulating your appetite and leading to increased hunger and cravings.

This depends on the fasting schedule you're following, and you should discuss any supplements with your doctor before beginning to take them, says Palinski-Wade. If you fast for a set amount of hours each day, take your supplements during the eating hours (unless otherwise instructed by your doctor or dietitian), since most supplements like a multivitamin are better absorbed when taken with food.

If you practice intermittent fasting that involves fasting on specific days, like the 5:2 diet, taking supplements is still recommended to ensure you are meeting your nutrient needs each day. Palinski-Wade recommends taking a high-quality multivitamin daily when following any IF plan.

Generally, the small amount of calories found in a chewable/gummy/liquid vitamin would not offset a fast day, she says. "But do discuss this with your doctor or dietitian first to make sure you can take your supplement on an empty stomach.

The bottom line: At the end of the day, you want to consume close to zero calories during fasting periods. By avoiding sweetened drinks like soda and bottled iced tea, as well as caloric add-ons in your hot beverages, you can ensure you follow your IF plan correctly and successfully.

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What Can You Drink While Intermittent Fasting? - Women's Health

We tried Ring Fit Adventure on Nintendo Switch and it is a REAL workout. Turns out weight loss CAN be fun – T3 (Australia)

Posted: June 4, 2020 at 12:45 pm

We tried Ring Fit Adventure on Nintendo Switch and it is a REAL workout. Turns out weight loss CAN be fun  T3 (Australia)

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We tried Ring Fit Adventure on Nintendo Switch and it is a REAL workout. Turns out weight loss CAN be fun - T3 (Australia)

The Racist Roots of Fighting Obesity – Scientific American

Posted: June 4, 2020 at 12:45 pm

Black people, and black women in particular, face considerable health challenges. Compared with their rates in other racial groups, chronic cardiovascular, inflammatory and metabolic risk factors have been found to be elevated in black women, even after controlling for behaviors such as smoking, physical exercise or dietary variables.

Black women have also been identified as the subgroup with the highest body mass index (BMI) in the U.S., with four out of five classified as either overweight or obese. Many doctors have claimed that black womens excess weight is the main cause of their poor health outcomes, often without fully testing or diagnosing them. While there has been a massive public health campaign urging fat people to eat right, eat less and lose weight, black women have been specifically targeted.

This heightened concern about their weight is not new; it reflects the racist stigmatization of black womens bodies. Nearly three centuries ago scientists studying race argued that African women were especially likely to reach dimensions that the typical European might scorn. The men of Africa were said to like their women robust, and the European press featured tales of cultural events loosely described as festivals intended to fatten African women to the desired, unwieldy size.

In the eyes of many medical practitioners in the late 19th century, black women were destined to die off along with the men of their race because of their presumed inability to control their animal appetiteseating, drinking and fornicating. These presumptions were not backed by scientific data but instead embodied the prevailing racial scientific logic at the time. Later, some doctors wanted to push black men to reform their aesthetic preferences. Valorizing voluptuousness in black women, these physicians claimed, validated their unhealthy diets, behaviors and figures.

Today the idea that weight is the main problem dogging black women builds on these historically racist ideas and ignores how interrelated social factors impact black womens health. It also perpetuates a misinformed and damaging message about weight and health. Indeed, social determinants have been shown to be more consequential to health than BMI or health behaviors.

Doctors often tell fat people that dietary control leading to weight loss is the solution to their health problems. But many studies show that the stigma associated with body weight, rather than the body weight itself, is responsible for some adverse health consequences blamed on obesity, including increased mortality risk. Regardless of income, black women consistently experience weightism in addition to sexism and racism. From workplace discrimination and poor service at restaurants to rude or objectifying commentary online, the stress of these life experiences contributes to higher rates of chronic mental and physical illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, depression and anxiety.

A 2018 opinion piece co-authored by psychologists, sociologists, and behavioral scientists in the journal BMC Medicine argued that bias against fat people is actually a larger driver of the so-called obesity epidemic than adiposity itself. A 2015 study in Psychological Science, among the many studies supporting this argument, found that people who reported experiencing weight discrimination had a 60 percent increased risk of dying, independent of BMI (and therefore regardless of body size). The underlying mechanisms explaining this relationship may reflect the direct and indirect effects of chronic social stress.

Additionally, living in racially segregated, high-poverty areas contributes to disease risk for black women. Low-income black neighborhoods are often disproportionately impacted by a lack of potable water and higher levels of environmental toxins and air pollution. These factors add to the risk for respiratory illnesses such as asthma and lung disease. They also increase the chance of serious complications from the novel coronavirus.

Further, these neighborhoods typically have a surfeit of fast-food chains and a dearth of grocery stores offering more nutritious food choices. Food insecurity, which is defined as the lack of access to safe, affordable and nutritious foods, has a strong association with chronic illness independent of BMI.

Simply blaming black womens health conditions on obesity ignores these critically important sociohistorical factors. It also leads to a prescription long since proved to be ineffective: weight loss. Despite relentless pressure from the public health establishment, a private weight-loss industry estimated at more than $72.7 billion annually in the U.S., and alarmingly high levels of body dissatisfaction, most individuals who attempt to lose weight are unable to maintain the loss over the long term and do not achieve improved health. This weight-focused paradigm fails to produce thinner or healthier bodies but succeeds in fostering weight stigma.

Chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart conditions are mislabeled lifestyle diseases, when behaviors are not the central problem. Difficult life circumstances cause disease. In other words, the predominant reason black women get sick is not because they eat the wrong things but because their lives are often stressful and their neighborhoods are often polluted.

The most effective and ethical approaches for improving health should aim to change the conditions of black womens lives: tackling racism, sexism and weightism and providing opportunity for individuals to thrive.

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The Racist Roots of Fighting Obesity - Scientific American


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