Monday, 26 September 2016

some thoughts on learning

Last week, I had the chance (and the duty as a father of a 12y old boy) to attend two open nights in two High Schools in Limerick (Ardscoil Ris -ASR- on Monday and St Munchins College - SMC), as part of the selection process to choose a High School for next year.

As a father and a teacher, I went to these two open nights with high expectations and mixed feelings. My main worry was: "will they talk to us about the feeling in the classroom?".

There was a huge difference between the two schools.

The first open night was a mere reference to the achievements of the school, without any information on the learning aspects of the school. There were marvelous slides, pretty pics of trophies, excellent bar charts on student performances comparing ASR to Irish average in a very long - and some times tiring - presentation. After more than an hour long presentation..., I walked around the school with my wife and our boy without guidance...I left the school with my question above completely unanswered....

The second open night was a joy to attend. We had also with us our younger boy (10y old). When we arrived, both boys were collected by SMC students and were guided around the school for all the time that SMC staff presented the school. All presentations have been uploaded on the school's website. Transparency at its greatest.
All talks were short, concise and most informative.
The one that touched my heart was the talk of Donal Madden who talked to us about the balance of joy and teaching, participation, the jersey, the fun and why he became a Teacher.
At the end of the talks, we met our boys who guided us around SMC and they described to us all the experiments in the labs!

Going back to my initial worry...
"will they talk to us about the feeling in the classroom?"
In SMC, they did and their students did guiding our boys around the school before our boys guided us.
A night to remember!

P.S. In Academia, where learning is more important than teaching, sometimes (or most of the times?) learning is ignored...or is second-ranked to teaching.
Passing information is the boring part in the Universities...we need to blend it with other techniques, e.g. Problem based Learning.
Making our students happy in the lecture theater should be the top priority! Is it, though?
Yannis Zabetakis

Friday, 23 September 2016

obesity and how to change habits and...policies

"Obesity is a ticking time bomb which has already to some extent exploded as 60% of adults and 1-in-4 children in Ireland are either overweight or obese" according to Minister for Health Simon Harris.

Let's go directly to the point.

How can we tackle this problem?
Obesity is a multi-factorial equation, a multidimensional problem involving families, diets, style of living, cooking habits, eating habits, food composition, junk food consumption, soft drinks overuse or actually abuse and so on.

In my view, the only way to tackle unhealthy eating patterns and lack of exercise is through school. What I really like in my boys' school is that the teachers are also trainers at sports. I am sure that this is the case in most schools in Ireland.
So, the key thing here is to pass the messages to the kids through his teachers and trainers.
They are people that our kids value and respect! Whatever they say, the kids just absorb and follow!

Why not collaborate with the teachers and pass information / good examples etc to primary and high schools on the Mediterranean diet, exercise, junk food, soft drinks, sugars, lipids, etc ?
This could be a clear cut initiative: to amalgamate latest information on good and bad food, latest scientific data on specific food components to the ways our kids live, to their lifestyle but also to the lifestyle of their parents...
The interaction of Universities and Schools needs to be encouraged through specific schemes all around the country.
All the rest, is just blah blah and ways for politicians to gain some publicity...

Yannis Zabetakis

Friday, 16 September 2016

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Fight inflammation by ...running

Ancient Greek used to say
"νοῦς ὑγιής ἐν σώματι ὑγιεῖ"
i.e. healthy mind in a healthy body.

So, here are some motives to keep our body healthy...

Week 3: Health and Well-being
Fancy getting fit in your first seven week?  Well it’s worth the trouble.  All of the evidence is that fitness increases happiness and well-being  as well as concentration and cognitive performance.  Regular exercise can also be a great way to meet people, make new friends and have some fun.   There are lots of different 5k and 10k walks and runs on campus in the coming year such as the Plassey 10k, and the Rowing Club Run Series.  There is a free timed 5k walk or run every week at the UL boathouse- known as parkrun 

During the first seven weeks and starting in week 3, we are providing FREE walking/running coaching programme for students and staff interested in participating in a 5k  or 10k mini marathon.   We will train during the first seven weeks for the Cooke Medical mini-marathon in  UL on the 30th October . There is an entry fee (currently €17.50) associated with this race. The event on October 30th is the women’s mini marathon.   We welcome those of all genders and none to the coaching sessions.  And on race day, with due attention to fashion, all are welcome.

We hope to raise some money with our efforts for Rape Crisis Mid-West- if each participant in the race can raise €10 that would be a big donation to this important local charity. UL students have a great track record of supporting charities so this would be a great kick start to our year.  We hope to raise the funds by selling our own home baked high carb foods before and after each our walks/runs at the first seven weeks hub.   If you have better ideas for raising money- do let us know!

First session will be week 3 (starting on Monday 19th Sept)

watch this space :-)

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

time to rethink statins...

from : NutraIngredients

By Lynda Searby, 07-Sep-2016

Strategies to tackle cardiovascular disease (CVD) need to move away from statins and cholesterol reduction and focus on reducing inflammation and increasing HDL cholesterol through dietary intervention, urges a leading food lipids academic.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

New article on International Aquafeeds

The July/August issue of International Aquafeeds magazine is out.

You can read my article "Dietary Interventions vs Statins" here.

Yours comments are always welcome

week 1 @ UL

The semester has started!
The fascinating voyage (towards Ithaca) has begun.
Here it is a very helpful site for all new students.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you're destined for...
Remember that the first stop on our way to Ithaka is ...your BSc degree. 

Enjoy the voyage!

Monday, 5 September 2016

How to make a health claim

Several things are needed.
1. well founded work on a specific feature of the product.
2. study the regulations
3. create valid claims linking scientific data to EFSA guidelines.

The following info is helpful, based on this paper.
Health claims on foods must be scientifically substantiated under EU Regulation 1924/2006.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has evaluated around 3000 health claims.
Ca 250 health claims were found to be sufficiently substantiated.
EFSA has published guidelines and guidance documents for health claims.
All claims that are not authorised or on hold/under consideration are prohibited.


success rate 250/3000...