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Mon, 23 Jan 2017
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The Axis of Food Evil: Fat, Sugar and Salt

© CBS News
It's hard to stay thin when all around us are fried, sugary, salty treats advertised wherever we turn.
Ex-Surgeon General Says restaurants overload foods with ingredients we crave, but they're just selling what we desire

The next time you come down with a case of the munchies, consider calling on Dr. David Kessler.

He and Altschul recently made a take-out run to some of America's most popular dining spots - the ones whose ads promise total tastebud-overload, like Chili's, Friday's, and Applebee's.

We brought back loads of goodies, but Dr. Kessler provided the real food for thought.

"The fat, the sugar and salt have been layered and loaded into this food," he said. "If I just gave you a package of sugar and say, 'Go have a good time' - "

"I'd pass," said Altschul.

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Scientists Discover Link between Older Dads and Genetic Diseases

Scientists have moved a step closer to understanding why older fathers are more likely to have children with certain genetic diseases.

They have discovered a surprising genetic link between the formation of benign testicular tumours called spermocytic seminomas and several rare growth disorders, which are more common among the children of older fathers.

The abnormal testicular cells that form these rare tumours also produce sperm carrying mutant genes that cause serious inherited diseases, research at the University of Oxford and Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark has shown.

The findings offer important new insights into the origin of several rare genetic disorders, including a cause of dwarfism called achondroplasia, and also promise to illuminate more common conditions such as autism, schizophrenia and breast cancer.

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Why Sleeping On It Helps

© Unknown
We're often told, "You should sleep on it" before you make an important decision. Why is that? How does "sleeping on it" help your decision-making process?

Conventional wisdom suggests that by "sleeping on it," we clear our minds and relieve ourselves of the immediacy (and accompanying stress) of making a decision. Sleep also helps organize our memories, process the information of the day, and solve problems. Such wisdom also suggests that conscious deliberation helps decision making in general. But new research (Dijksterhuis et al., 2009) suggests something else might also be at work - our unconscious.

Previous research suggests that sometimes the more consciously we think about a decision, the worse the decision made. Sometimes what's needed is a period of unconscious thought - equivalent to "sleeping on it" according to the researchers - in order to make better decisions. Here's how they study this phenomenon:
[... In a] typical experiment demonstrating this effect, participants choose between a few objects (e.g., apartments), each described by multiple aspects. The objects differ in desirability, and after reading the descriptions, participants are asked to make their choice following an additional period of conscious thought or unconscious thought. In the original experiments, unconscious thinkers made better decisions than conscious thinkers when the decisions were complex.

Attention

GM food can cause cancer

French scientist Gilles-Eric Séralini unmasked the dangers of genetically modified brinjal, almost approved for commercial production in India. He shared with Savvy Soumya Misra his findings on Bt brinjal and Roundup Ready soybean.

On the data submitted on Bt brinjal by Mahyco for approval from the Indian government

The data submitted to the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of the Union environment ministry is not valid; it has not been signed by the scientist who conducted the tests. What is more scandalous is that the studies on the effects of Bt brinjal were conducted for just three months.

If the product is to be consumed by humans, the tests should have been for a period of at least two years - the lifespan of a rodent.

Worse, Mahyco tried to cover up the side-effects by jumbling data on various types of brinjal in a way that it was hard to compare Bt brinjal with normal brinjal. I am sorry to say people in the GEAC did not carefully assess the data. It is also not clear how the GEAC overlooked the fact that Bt brinjal has a protein that induces resistance to antibiotics. Mahyco has not studied hormonal impacts of Bt brinjal - Bt toxin found in it could lead to reproductive health problems.

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Herbicides and Cholesterol Drugs Interfere with Taste, Could Damage Metabolism

It's not unusual to hear about herbicides having suspected toxic effects or prescription drugs producing side effects. But a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded study just published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry has found another negative and surprising way common herbicides and fibrate drugs (which are used to lower elevated blood lipids) impact the human body: they block a nutrient-sensing taste receptor on the tongue called T1R3.

So what's the big deal about this? It turns out there's emerging evidence these taste receptors are also found in hormone-producing cells in the intestine and pancreas. When working properly, these internal taste receptors in the gut trigger the release of hormones involved in the regulation of normal homeostasis (the ability of the body to maintain internal physiological stability) of glucose as well as energy metabolism. Simply put, screwing up the ability of T1R3 to sense certain nutrients could possibly wreak havoc on the human body in a variety of ways -- from playing a role in unhealthy blood sugar levels to causing people to gain weight .

"Compounds that either activate or block T1R3 receptors could have significant metabolic effects, potentially influencing diseases such as obesity, type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome," said Monell geneticist and study leader Bedrich Mosinger, MD, PhD, in a statement to the media.

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Kava Kava has Many Health Benefits and Uses

Kava is a well-known herb that originated in the Pacific. Also scientifically known as Piper Methysticum, the roots and stem hold the key ingredient that has been used for medicinal purposes both in traditional and modern times.

Traditionally chewed or crushed to form a liquid, Kava can now be commonly found in capsules, teas and liquids aimed at reducing a variety of stress and anxiety related conditions and illnesses.

Scientific research has pinpointed its effectiveness whereby in terms of neurotransmission, feel good vibes are sent to the brain which then aids muscle relaxation, increases concentration, decreases insomnia, lowers inhibitions and can also be suitable for pain such as back aches or hyperactivity in children. Although there is no absolute evidence, it has been suggested that Kava may affect serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters.

Extracts of the Kava root have been processed to provide the population with immediate access to the various associated health benefits. Other health benefits of this herbal remedy include help for asthma, urinary tract infections, depression and menopausal symptoms. Due to its calming and muscle relaxing qualities, it has provided a health improvement to many that would have otherwise still have been suffering.

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Probiotic Found to be Effective Treatment for Colitis In Mice

The probiotic, Bacillus polyfermenticus, can help mice recover from colitis, a new study has found. Mice treated with B. polyfermenticus during the non-inflammatory period of the disease had reduced rectal bleeding, their tissues were less inflamed and they gained more weight than mice that did not receive the treatment.

Colitis is a disease in which the inner tissue of the colon, the mucosa, becomes inflamed and damaged and can result in painful sores. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are the two major types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). It is not yet known what causes the diseases, but both are believed to be the result of altered intestinal immune responses in genetically predisposed individuals.

A probiotic is a live microorganism -- in this case, a bacterium -- that benefits its host. B. polyfermenticus is available in Japan and Korea to treat intestinal disorders such as diarrhea and constipation. The bacterium is quite hardy and can survive the hostile environment of the stomach and intestine.

The study not only provided evidence of B. polyfermenticus' usefulness in treating colitis during the non-inflammatory phase, but also showed that it works by healing intestinal wounds more quickly by encouraging the growth of new blood vessels, a process known as angiogenesis.

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Faulty 'Wiring' in the Brain Triggers Onset of Schizophrenia

A new study by researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP), King's College London has discovered abnormalities in the white matter of the brain that seem to be critical for the timing of schizophrenia. The study, led by Professor Phillip McGuire and Dr Sophia Frangou, has been published in this month's edition of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

The white matter of the brain consists of nerve fibres that connect parts of the brain and help regulate behaviour. The normal brain develops in a back to front fashion, i.e. posterior regions mature first and the frontal lobes last. The research discovered that if there are very severe deficits in the white matter in these posterior (specifically parietal) regions, then schizophrenia develops early in adolescence. As people grow older their deficits "migrate" in a back to front manner and in adulthood, they impact the frontal lobes of the brain quite dramatically.

Schizophrenia is a disabling and emotionally devastating illness that affects about one per cent of the population worldwide. Professor McGuire, from the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and IoP comments: 'Although we can trace the origins of schizophrenia to early brain development we still do not know what triggers the onset of the full blown symptoms. Our study suggests that at least part of the answer lies in problems affecting the "wiring" of key brain areas.'

People

Are Women Getting Sadder? Or Are We All Just Getting a Lot More Gullible?

Feminism made women miserable. This, anyway, seems to be the most popular takeaway from The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness, a recent study by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers which purports to show that women have become steadily unhappier since 1972. Maureen Dowd and Arianna Huffington greeted the news with somber perplexity, but the more common response has been a triumphant: I told you so.

On Slate's DoubleX website, a columnist concluded from the study that "the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s gave us a steady stream of women's complaints disguised as manifestos... and a brand of female sexual power so promiscuous that it celebrates everything from prostitution to nipple piercing as a feminist act -- in other words, whine, womyn, and thongs." Or as Phyllis Schlafly put it, more soberly: "[T]he feminist movement taught women to see themselves as victims of an oppressive patriarchy in which their true worth will never be recognized and any success is beyond their reach... [S]elf-imposed victimhood is not a recipe for happiness."

But it's a little too soon to blame Gloria Steinem for our dependence on SSRIs. For all the high-level head-scratching induced by the Stevenson and Wolfers study, hardly anyone has pointed out (1) that there are some issues with happiness studies in general, (2) that there are some reasons to doubt this study in particular, or (3) that, even if you take this study at face value, it has nothing at all to say about the impact of feminism on anyone's mood.

Syringe

Nurses Sick From the Swine Flu Vaccine in Sweden

Image
© Unknown
190 Adverse Reactions 1 Suspected Death

Yesterday 30 people had been reporting to the authorities in Sweden that they experienced such severe side effects that they felt the need to contact a hospital. Today the number is 140. The Swedish newspaper Expressen is the only one in Sweden reporting on these cases and as usual this is most likely only the tip of a rather large iceberg.

Update: According to Dagens Nyheter, the number of reported side effects are now a few hours later 190. 1 person dies after the injection but "no direct relation with the injection has been established". The biggest medical scandal in the history of Sweden has just started.

Even so, Annika Linde, director of The Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (SMI) manages to spin this into something positive by stating "The vaccine has more side effects than the normal flu vaccine. It is a sign that proves that it gives an effective protection."