Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Irritable? You may only just lack sleep.

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You might have guessed it, but now researchers have real proof: Sleep deprivation causes our emotions to go haywire.

That's according to the first neurological probe into the emotional brain without sleep. It was carried out by researchers at the University of California-Berkeley and Harvard Medical School.

"Most people think that when you're sleep-deprived, what happens to the brain is that it becomes sleepy and less active," says Matthew Walker, assistant professor of psychology at Berkeley and a former Harvard sleep researcher. But Walker says the imaging study published in today's issue of Current Biology found that the brain's emotional centers become "60% more reactive."

The study also suggests that lack of sleep elevates activity in the emotional centers of the brain most closely associated with psychiatric disorders such as depression.

I find this amusing because I really do get irritable if I lack sleep. I guess now I can justify scientifically my occasional irritability!

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Dark Meat vs White Meat: What's the Difference?

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Misinformation, half truths, and misleading data abound both online, off-line, and sadly often from experts' mouths.

I always thought white verses dark or red meat was sort of a strange beast, and one where a few ivory-tower experts were able to confuse a nation.

The primary reason dark meat has been labeled bad - besides a large contingency of political agenda - is saturated fat content. Unfortunately, the general public was considered too dumb to understand the difference between saturated verses other fats. I cannot accept that.

A very informative blog discussing the difference between dark and white meat (including why they are colored as such.)

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Garlic's heart benefits pinpointed

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The chemical compounds behind garlic's breath-tainting properties may also be the source of its heart benefits, according to new research from the US.

Metabolism of garlic's active ingredient allicin produces hydrogen sulphide, which signals blood vessels to relax, increase blood flow and boost heart health, wrote the researchers in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research could lead to a method to standardise dietary garlic supplements, said lead researcher Gloria Benavides from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, by simply measuring the production of hydrogen sulphide in red blood cells.

This could be the first step towards creating supplements that are standardized to produce the desired results. Let's hope that more and more studies are forthcoming on this fantastic plant. In the meantime, you can still enjoy garlic in a variety of ways in a variety of foods. Just freshen your mouth afterwards. =)

Monday, 15 October 2007

Eating Healthy and Organic on $7 a Day

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Detailing the Dollars: Eating Healthy and Organic on $7 a Day

Day 1:

Breakfast: Tofu (47 cents), veggies ($1), brown rice (20 cents)

Lunch: Eggs (39 cents) and potatoes (30 cents)

Snack: Two dates (60 cents), 12 almonds (22 cents)

Dinner: Fryer chicken ($1), veggies ($1), brown rice (20 cents)

Click on the link for more details. Very helpful for those who want to eat healthy on a tight budget.

Coalition splits over fish guideline for pregnant women

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A controversial recommendation by a child-health coalition that pregnant women eat lots of fish and not worry about mercury contamination was not endorsed by many of the group's members, who are now distancing themselves from that position.

The recommendations, announced last week by the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, are that pregnant, breast-feeding and postpartum women should eat at least 12 ounces of seafood a week, if not more, for the nutritional benefits. The coalition is an Alexandria, Va.-based non-profit group with nearly 150 member organizations.

The controversy surrounds the coalition's silence about the four high-mercury fish the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency say women and young children should avoid: swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish.

Controversies such as this do not aid anyone in determining what is good for their health.

But it's also worth noting that it's not only mercury that is commonly found in fish. Human-raised fish are fed with feeds that may contain harmful substances. Fish in the ocean may acquire toxins other than mercury.

Until a definitive study on fish safety -- not just mercury levels -- the confusion will continue.

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BioScanner in CNBC