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How Fibre Lowers Cholesterol

On The Shivering Butterfly

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like a lot of products out right now claim to use some special 'only we have this' fibre to help lower your cholesterol. But what they don't want you to know is that regardless of whether the fibre comes from a highly marketed cereal, has some fancy made up sounding name, or comes for your fruits etc, it all works the same way, by removing bile.

Bile is made in the liver, and is used to breakdown fat droplets in the small intestine, much like soap does with grease in water. Bile is made up of bile acids, which are synthesized from cholesterol. Normally, bile is released in to the duodenum (the first bit of the small intestine), it breaks down the fat soluble food component so that they can be absorbed, and then the bile itself is reabsorbed into the gut and taken back up into the liver and stored in the gallbladder to be used again. However, when bile comes into contact with soluble fibre, it binds to it making it so that the bile salts and fibre can't be absorbed into the gut cells. The bile and fibre then travel through the rest of the digestive system and are eventually excreted. Now instead of the bile being efficiently recycled, the body needs to pull cholesterol from the blood (or other sources) to make more bile. Thereby reducing your cholesterol levels.

Soluble fibre can be found to some degree in all plants. Blueberries, apples, strawberries, celery, nuts, and flax seeds are just a few examples. It is different in function from insoluble fibre, which provides bulk and speeds the passage of food through the digestive system. Insoluble fibre is what you probably typically think of when you think of fibre and digestion. Both types of fibre are important parts of any diet.

Consequences of the Rise of Design

On Tynan

I was walking through the mall a couple days ago. My path took me past a bunch of stores and kiosks, including the Nike Store. I walked past it and looked at their window display. They had a really nicely photographed poster and some cool looking shoes in a bunch of different colors. The store was beautiful and looked like a fun place to be. At the same time, their shoes aren't particularly great, they aren't actually innovative, and they're made of cheap materials. There are many shoe companies that are way lower quality than Nike, but I don't know if there are any with such a disparity between their presentation and the actual product.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this isn't just nike or most of the clothes in the mall-- it's how our culture works now. Back in the day, if you wanted a pair of shoes you'd go to a cobbler. He would design a pair for you, or use one of his existing designs, pick out some nice leather, and make you a pair of shoes. His design work, his execution, and his materials could all be leveraged about equally, so I'd guess that you'd tend to have either poorly designed shoes that are poorly executed and made of poor materials, or well designed shoes that were well executed and used good materials.

These days, things have changed. Design can be leveraged almost infinitely, which has changed the whole equation. Mass manufacturing ensures decent execution, but supplying top quality materials is difficult. A cobbler who makes a hundred pairs of shoes a year can take the time to pick out the best hides to get the best leather. That doesn't scale to making thousands of shoes a day, so material quality drops. Execution has become more consistent, but the benefits of cutting corners is magnified. Saving a penny on making a pair of shoes didn't matter to the cobblers, but it matters to Nike.

So these days, most of what people buy is well designed, decently and consistently executed, and uses relatively poor quality materials. In the mall I walked past a kiosk of phone cases. There were some that were blinged out. Pretty good design in that they fit perfectly on the phone the're meant for, the rows of fake diamonds are all uniform, etc.. Each one looks the same and is okay quality. But the materials are crap-- cheap plastic painted to look like metal covered in lackluster plastic "gems".

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