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Research, recipes, news and tips for better, healthier living—created and curated by your friends at Pacific Science Center’s Wellbody Academy.


The Evolution Of Oral Hygiene

The Evolution Of Oral Hygiene

By Bryana Allen | Nov 18, 2015

Dental History

Throughout history, humans have always searched for ways to care for their teeth. The records reveal as we grow and evolve, so does our understanding of oral hygiene and disease.

Here’s a timeline of highlights from the evolution of oral hygiene:

5,000-3,000 BCE—Ancient texts show that people believed cavities were caused by worms. This belief persisted for nearly 7,000 years. Egyptian tombs reveal people used the frayed ends of twigs and toothpicks to clean their teeth.

500 BCE—The first recipes for toothpastes are written in China and India. Many included herbs and spices like mint and ginseng.

410 CE—By the fall of their Empire, the Romans had mastered restorative dental care. They used gold to make crowns and wires to fix bridges. Read more about the ways Romans cared for their smiles.

1000 CE—Archeological records show little evidence of oral disease among Vikings. Good hygiene was important to them and they used toothpicks to clean their teeth. However, the lack of cavities is mostly due to their diet which consisted mostly of fruits, vegetables, meat and whole grains. The Vikings ate very little refined grains or sugar.

1530 CE—”The Little Medicinal Book for all Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth” is published. It was the first book entirely devoted to dentistry.

1840-90 CE—Dentistry becomes an official field of medicine when the first dental school, Baltimore College School of Dentistry, opened. Also, “modern” toothpaste was born. It was first sold in glass jars. It wasn’t sold in tubes until 1890.

1944-59 CE—Researchers discover that fluoridated water, at low levels, prevents tooth decay.

1960 CE—Water fluoridation becomes a common public health practice. Today, nearly 75% of the US population on community water sources receive fluoridated water.

Fluoridated water and better oral hygiene routines (think daily brushing and flossing) are the reason many of us can expect to keep our teeth for our entire lives! We’re the first generations of humans to make that claim. Help your smile age gracefully by brushing twice a day, flossing before bed and staying on top of your dental check-ups.

Visit Wellbody Academy’s Germnasium for a hands-on, modern oral health experience.

Experience Galapagos 3D: Nature’s Wonderland in our PACCAR IMAX Theater to learn more about evolution.


Anderson, T. Dental Treatment in Medieval England. British Dental Journal 197, 419-425 (2004).
Lanfranco, L and Eggers, S. Caries through Time: An anthropological Overview. Laboratório de Antropologia Biológica (2012).

Thankful For Delicious Cranberry Sauce: Sugar-free, Fat-free, Dairy-free, Gluten-free

Tangy gems of the holiday season, cranberries are outranked only by blueberries in protective antioxidants. High in vitamin C and fiber and low in calories, these tart red treats can add a festive and healthy zest to your diet.

Trouble is, cranberries are often paired with unhealthy amounts of sugar. Traditional cranberry bread and cranberry sauce recipes call for almost as much sugar as they do cranberries, and in the past couple years, scientific research has found that even a few extra teaspoons of daily added sugar can be toxic to our bodies. (This study found that relatively modest amounts of sugar negatively impacted the life spans and sex lives of mice.)

That’s why we’re thrilled to share this recipe for an insanely delicious and refreshing sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free cranberry sauce from Kathy Abascal, the Vashon Island biochemist and herbalist who developed an anti-inflammatory diet to quiet the immune system (TQI).

Abascal’s research, along with that of countless other scientists and doctors, points to sugar as a top inflammatory trigger that erodes health. When sugar or other triggers (gluten, dairy and chemical additives are common culprits) flare the immune system, people can suffer all kinds of inflammation-related health woes: weight gain, frozen shoulder, arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol, sinus congestion, poor sleep, acne, eczema and rashes.

Eliminate the triggers — and pounds and problems can melt away. Why not replace sugar and other inflammatory foods with nutritious fruits and vegetables high in vitamins. fiber and antioxidants? The USDA recommends half your plate be filled with fruits and vegetables; Abascal suggests fruits and veggies comprise 2/3 of each meal and snack.

But what about holiday desserts?  Not to worry, you can still enjoy delicious treats!

Whip up a batch of this cranberry sauce, spoon into small bowls and indulge with toppings: pomegranate seeds (whack-y de-seeding trick), orange zest, coconut flakes , chopped nuts, shaved dark chocolate. Think of it as an Antioxidant Sundae — Happy Holidays!


(Makes about 3 cups)

7 1/2 ounces fresh, organic cranberries
2 organic apples
1 cup organic red grapes
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, to taste
1 teaspoon good-quality balsamic vinegar
1 organic orange

Core the apples, but leave peels on, then chop or grate. Cut grapes in half.

Combine cranberries, chopped apples, and grapes in a saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons water, cover, and heat gently until cranberries have popped and apple is soft, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Add the cinnamon and balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Grate the zest from the orange (a microplane grater does a fantastic job with this), making sure to only remove the colored part. Add to bowl.

Peel the orange, remove any seeds, and finely chop. Add, along with any juice that accumulates, to the cranberry mixture and stir to combine. Nice warm, even better chilled until cold. Also delicious added to a tossed salad.

Tips For Coping With “Fall Back” Time Change

Tips For Coping With “Fall Back” Time Change

Drat. The movement to abolish daylight saving time hasn’t yet gained enough steam to stop the twice yearly changing of the clocks.

Research shows that messing with our circadian rhythms during the semi-annual back-and-forth results in more heart attacks, traffic accidents, suicides and cyberloafing. Plus, energy studies show daylight saving time actually wastes energy, contrary to its original intent.

The good news is that the autumn time change, when we “fall back” and gain an hour of sleep, offers a chance to tune-up sleep habits. Keep reading for links to research–and tips on how to start preparing your body for disrupted sleep come Nov. 2.

First, figure out how much sleep is enough.

Most adults: 7 – 9 hours a night
Adolescents: 9 – 10 hours
Elementary school children: 10 hours
Preschoolers: 11 – 12 hours
Newborns: 16 – 18 hours

If you’re not getting enough sleep, you risk damaging memory, learning, creativity, productivity, emotional stability and physical health. You’re also more vulnerable to cancer, diabetes, weight gain, colds and flu and car accidents!

Even one hour matters when it comes to shortchanging sleep. In the three days following the spring-forward time change, researchers found a five percent greater risk of heart attacks. After the fall-back time change, there’s an increase in traffic accidents as well as sharply increased suicide rates.

One study of mining injuries found a spike on the Monday following the shift to daylight savings time; days of work lost to injuries increased by 67 percent just because of that one day. A fascinating follow-up study of desk jobbers found that workers tend to “cyberloaf” more on the Monday following the shift to daylight savings time. In a sleep lab, participants cyberloafed off-task 20 percent of the time for every hour of lost sleep. Researchers extrapolate that this costs the American economy an estimated $434 million annually. (And workers don’t regain productivity after gaining an hour sleep during the fall!)

This year, mitigate the negative symptoms of the clock-change.

Create A Fake Sunset
Dim the lights and avoid screen time at least an hour before your new bedtime.

Early in the day, preferably in bright light to rev up serotonin, which help regulation circadian rhythms.

Create A Fake Sunrise
Put a timer on a bright light near your bed. Set it to turn the light on 30 minutes before you want to wake up in the morning.

Give Yourself A Bonus Hour
If you’re already chronically sleep-deprived, add an extra hour to your sleep schedule starting now. Tonight, go to bed an hour earlier, but don’t wake up an hour earlier tomorrow morning.

Visit Wellbody Academy’s Slumbertorium for sleep tips, fun facts and to learn more about working with your body’s natural circadian rhythms. (You’ll love the Rube Goldberg-like Sleep Machine!)

Healthy No-Sugar Halloween Treats

Healthy No-Sugar Halloween Treats

Spooky! Sugar may actually shrink your brain, according to research published in Neurology that links chronically high levels of blood glucose to a smaller hippocampus.

Horrifying! The average child’s trick-or-treat bag bulges with 4,800 calories, 3 cups of sugar and 1 ½ cups of fat.

So how ’bout scaring up some non-sugary alternative treats this Halloween?

Pass them out to the trick-or-treaters who come to your door. And encourage your own kids to exchange the candy they’ll inevitably collect for the healthy treats below or perhaps another coveted non-sugar treat (book, game, clothing, etc.) you’ve procured in advance.

Keep reading for a list of fun trick-or-treat alternatives…

Healthy Halloween Treats

  • Stickers
  • Fake fangs
  • Fang whistles
  • Halloween-themed pencils, pens, rulers
  • Fancy erasers
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Glow sticks and necklaces
  • Sugar-free gum
  • Spider and bat rings
  • Glow-in-the-dark insects
  • Fake eye balls
  • Slime
  • Play Dough
  • Bubbles
  • Wrapped granola bars
  • Mini-boxes of craisins and raisins
  • Glittery gel pens
  • Mini-pumpkins
  • Colorful toothbrushes
  • Fake mustaches
  • Halloween costume jewelry
  • Cheese and cracker packets
  • Wax lips
  • Bubble rings
  • Fancy Asian folding fans
  • Flavored lip balms

Visit Wellbody Academy’s Cafédium where you can ride the Sugarburners bike and turn a hand-powered crank to experience how much you’ll need to exercise to burn off sugar.

Sugar Swaps:  Healthy Alternatives To Foods We Crave

Sugar Swaps: Healthy Alternatives To Foods We Crave

Sugar Swaps: Healthy Alternatives To Foods We Crave

By Bryana Allen | Oct 14, 2015

An Apple

Sugar, you’ve got America wanting you. We’re addicted. As soon as your sinful sweetness hits our taste buds, the reward center in our brains lights up like a fireworks display. It makes us crave you.

And we give into those cravings. A lot. The USDA reports the average American eats 150-170 pounds of refined sugar each year. It averages to 30-60 teaspoons a day—well over the American Heart Association’s recommended amount of 6-9 teaspoons a day.

All of that added, refined sugar is affecting our health. Multiple studies have linked our sugar habit to obesity, high blood pressure, depression, diabetes and an unhealthy smile.

One of the reasons refined sugar has such bad effects on our health is because it doesn’t have any nutritional value. It adds calories but nothing else. Another reason is the way our bodies process refined sugar. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to break down which causes our insulin and blood sugar levels to skyrocket, known as a “sugar rush.” It also doesn’t fill us up and leaves us hungry, wanting more as soon as we “crash.” So, we eat more. Add that to the reward reaction in our brains and you get an unhealthy cycle—an addiction.

Fortunately, there’s a way to break free. Swap naturally sweet foods for their unhealthy counterparts.

Naturally sweet foods, like fruit, contain nutritious fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in addition to the sugar they contain. These added nutrients are essential to our health. Plus, it takes more work for our bodies to break down natural sugars which means we don’t get a sugar rush and crash.

Here are some of our favorite swaps:

Sweet and chewy

Have a medjool date instead of caramel. Medjool dates have a toffee like taste and chewy texture. One medjool date has 2 tsp of sugar + fiber, vitamins and minerals. Two caramels have 3.3 tsp of sugar and no nutritional value.

Sweet and creamy

Try ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese with ½ cup sliced strawberries and 1 tsp raw honey instead of 1 cup low-fat strawberry yogurt. This simple swap cuts out 7 tsp of added sugar.

Sweet and crispy

Have an apple instead of a chocolate covered wafer candy bar. It has nearly the same amount of sugar but half of the calories. Plus, apples contain fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Sweet and crunchy

Try ½ cup of frozen blueberries instead of a hard candy. They contain the same amount of sugar, but blueberries also have nutritious fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.


Enjoy some dark chocolate! That’s right. Dark chocolate has less sugar than milk chocolate and contains antioxidants. It  also melts quickly and doesn’t stick to teeth, making it a good choice for your smile.

You don’t have to give up sugar to be healthy. You just have to eat the right kinds of sugar. The next time you have a craving, eat some fruit instead. Your body and smile will thank you.

All About Recess

School-time playground play hit headlines recently when the Seattle teachers’ union negotiated a guaranteed minimum 30-minute daily recess for elementary-school students. “Any teacher or parent can tell you it’s important to have time to play and socialize and to get outside of the classroom,” a union official said.

On Mercer Island, district officials banned tag on the playground. Then unbanned it. Here’s one mother’s take on the safety issues that led to the moratorium on playground touching and a thoughtful discussion on unstructured play.

Here’s a powerful Pediatrics article on Why Kids Should Play.

Playworks Organizes Recess

Meanwhile, a nonprofit called Playworks uses “Recess Rock Stars” (coaches who get in the game) and a library of hundreds of games (search or download more than 250 free games) to revive recess in low-income communities through inclusive, cooperative, safe, organized play. Jump ropes, hula hoops, traffic cones, balls—and conflict resolution skills—are standard equipment.

“Playworks’ vision is that one day every child in America will get to play – every day. We create a place for every kid on the playground, a place where every kid belongs, has fun and is part of the game. We offer an essential opportunity for children to explore their imaginations, to connect with other kids and to stretch and grow physically, emotionally and socially.

“Our experience is that diminishing opportunities for unsupervised play in our society have left kids with a very thin understanding of how to manage their own play and that it is important to have grown-ups introduce some basic rules to make play work.”

In a nationwide survey of nearly 4,400 principals and teachers in schools that partnered with Playworks in the 2012-13 school year, respondents reported they reclaimed an average of 20 hours of teaching time because there are fewer behavioral problems on the playground and in the classroom.

Read about Playworks.

What are your thoughts about recess, risk and play? What works? What doesn’t? Comment below or email discover@pacsci.org.

Visit Wellbody Academy’s Playdium to rev up your heart and laugh rate by chasing “bugs” on our ExerGames dance floor. Don’t forget to bounce on the butt-bouncers in Loft-a-Palooza to launch balls into the stratosphere (actually a netted enclosure). Fun for the whole family!

4 Tips To Perfect Picture Day Smiles

4 Tips to Perfect Picture Day Smiles

by Bryana Allen

School is finally back in session. Soon those new haircuts, new clothes, and cute grins will be gearing up for picture day.

Many a school photo features closed eyes, a forced smile, and a squinty face. But these familiar photography faux pas are preventable. With a little coaching and a pinch of parental prep, your child’s “say cheese” can be accident-free.

Help your kiddos put on their best smile with these tips:

Keep outfits simple.
Picture day ensembles should be comfy, simple, and of course — something they love so they can be themselves. Remember, light colors favor darker complexions while dark colors favor lighter complexions and try to keep patterns to a minimum. Also, remember to pack an extra outfit in case of (clothing) emergency.

Pack “safe” lunches.
Picture day shoots can be unpredictable. Time slots may fall after lunchtime, so pack a meal that’s healthy, smile-friendly and mess-free. Think: turkey and Swiss on whole grain bread with carrot sticks and apple slices. Not: PB & J with cheese puffs and chocolate sandwich cookies.

Prep, don’t pose!
It’s difficult to smile on command, especially for kiddos. Take some practice snapshots at home. Help them relax so they don’t force stiff, unnatural poses. Give kids posture freedom and their smile will be picture-perfect.

Embrace the imperfections.
Whether it’s a toothless grin or a mouth full of metal, encourage your kids to embrace their smile style. After all, it’s what makes them unique!

Now that your family is picture day-prepared, get ready to pick those perfect proofs. Tell those frames filled with stock photos to move over — it’s time for school snapshots to shine!

Visit Wellbody Academy’s Germnasium for the science behind oral health and tips on keeping children’s beautiful smiles healthy!

Surgeon General Says: Walk 22 Minutes A Day

Would you walk 22 minutes a day for the U.S.A.?

Walking and walkable communities should be a national priority, says U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who just launched a landmark “Step It Up” campaign to encourage Americans to walk more and to make all communities safer and easier for walking.

Some say the call to walk is as important to national health as the Surgeon General’s anti-smoking campaign in 1964.

Consider: One out of every two American adults is living with chronic illness such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes. Increasing physical activity by 150 minutes a week – or 22 minutes a day – lowers risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression, colon and breast cancer. It improves cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular fitness and bone health. And it can be fun.

Why walk? The country’s top doc chose walking as a powerful public health strategy because it doesn’t require special skills, facilities, or expensive equipment and it’s an easy physical activity to begin and maintain as part of a physically active lifestyle.

Most people are able to walk, and many people with disabilities are able to walk or move with assistive devices, such as wheelchairs or walkers. Walking has a lower risk of injury than vigorous-intensity activities. Walking is a good way to help people who are inactive become physically active because walking can be easily adapted to fit time, needs, and abilities.

But  if you’d prefer to move your body and raise your heart rate another way, go for it!

Visit Wellbody Hall in Wellbody Academy and use the Optimizer, Planner and Barrier Feud activities to create S.M.A.R.T. personal fitness goals. Could one of your goals be 22 minutes of walking (or other brisk activity) a day? Also in Wellbody Hall, get inspired by short videos showcasing local people who improved their neighborhood’s fitness level through a “walking school bus” and community walking programs.

Here’s a good summary of the Surgeon General’s 22-Minutes-A-Day Campaign.

Perfect Back-To-School Snack: PB & J Parfait

Perfect Back-To-School Snack: PB & J Parfait

Creamy yogurt, luscious jam and rich peanut butter are at the heart of this tongue-swirling snack that’s good news for your taste buds, tummy and wallet.

Sure, you could purchase individual 6-ounce cups of fruity yogurt for snacks and breakfast on the go. But at .80 – $2.50 each (for the fancy flavors with mix-ins) it gets pricey. Plus, store-bought yogurt snacks often contain excess sugars and additives it would be better to stay away from.

Why not make your own? You’ll save money, avoid excess plastic packaging and have the satisfaction of creating a deluxe snack with a healthy balance of fat, protein and carbohydrates that’s better tasting and better for you.

Here’s a five-minute recipe, easy enough for small children to handle with minimal supervision if you set out the ingredients and containers for them.

PB & J Parfaits

  • 1 32-ounce container plain yogurt
  • 6 T peanut butter (preferably with no added sugar). Or use almond or sunflower butter.
  • 6 T fruit jam (preferably low-sugar)
  • 6 leak-proof containers that hold one cup of liquid each. Half-pint mason jars work really well, don’t leak and are reusable. Or wash and re-use the containers and lids from previously purchased commercial yogurt. Or use small Rubbermaid-type containers with snap-on lids.
  • Toppings (optional): Granola, berries, sliced mango, frozen cherries, shredded coconut, nuts, chia seed, mint leaves.


Spoon five to six ounces of plain yogurt into each container. Top with one tablespoon of peanut butter and one tablespoon of jam. Sprinkle on optional toppings. Close the containers, store in refrigerator (or freezer). Grab, go and enjoy!

Makes six servings.

5 Ear-Perking Facts About Dog Smiles

5 Ear-Perking Facts About Dog Smiles

By Bryana Allen, Delta Dental WA

Though National Dog Day (August 24) has come and gone, it’s always a perfect time to celebrate our furry, faithful, tail-wagging best friends. Since dogs are the givers of so many smiles, we thought we’d take a closer look at their smiles.

Here’s what we’ve learned:

Puppies “teethe” just like babies – Puppies are born with their teeth just below the gums like people. Their needle-sharp puppy teeth “erupt” between 2 and 3 weeks. And, just like babies, puppies “teethe.” They’ll chew on anything and everything to help those puppy teeth come through.

Puppies lose their puppy teeth – Buddy’s puppy, or deciduous, teeth will fall out to make room for her larger, permanent teeth. Puppies have 28 teeth while dogs have 42 teeth. That’s more teeth than humans! Human babies only have 20 teeth while adults have 32.

Dog teeth need brushing, too – Roughly 85% of dogs over 4, or 35 in human years, have some form of gum disease. Gum disease is an infection of the gums that causes pain and discomfort. And, just like in people, gum disease can lead to tooth loss.  That’s why it’s extremely important to care for your dog’s teeth. Feed them dry food and give them tartar-control treats. Brush their teeth once a week with a dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste found at your local pet store. Take them to the vet if you notice their gums are bleeding because they may need professional cleaning and care.

Dogs DON’T have cleaner mouths than humans – Buster’s tongue picks up all the germs and bacteria our hands do throughout the day. He uses his mouth to carry everything from his favorite toy to the ‘cow chip’ he found exploring the pasture near grandma’s house. It’s just one more reason to brush his teeth. Just like us, brushing Buster’s teeth also helps remove bacteria from his mouth.

Dog licks are like kisses – Dogs lick each other and you for a lot of reasons. Mostly, it’s a sign of affection and respect—just like a human kiss. Don’t worry if Fido gives you a big, wet kiss. His licks can be a safer bet than kissing another person because most cavity-causing bacteria are species specific.

To learn more about your dog’s smile and keeping it healthy, talk to your veterinarian.

Visit the Germnasium in Wellbody Academy to learn more about keeping your own smile healthy.