Want to lose weight? Stay clear of meals rich in saturated fat such as lard and butter as consuming such food affects a part of the brain which helps control hunger, a new study has found.

The fat causes inflammation that impedes the brain to control the food intake. In other words, people struggle to control how much they eat, when to stop and what type of food to eat - symptoms seen in obesity, researchers from University of Naples Federico II in Italy said.

The study found, through tests in rats, that a meal rich in saturated fat reduces a person's cognitive function that make it more difficult to control eating habits.

Consuming fatty foods affects a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which helps regulate hunger, researchers said.

"These days, great attention is dedicated to the influence of the diet on people's wellbeing. Although the effects of high fat diet on metabolism have been widely studied, little is known about the effects on the brain," said Maria Pina Mollica and Marianna Crispino from University of Naples.

A diet rich in fat can take different forms and in fact, there are different types of fats. Saturated fats are found in lard, butter or fried food. Unsaturated fats are rich in food such as fish, avocado or olive oil, researchers said.

Consuming fish oil instead of lard makes a significant difference. The study shows that brain function remains normal and manages to restrain from eating more than necessary, they said.

"The difference was very clear and we were amazed to establish the impact of a fatty diet onto the brain. Our results suggest that being more aware about the type of fat consumed with the diet may reduce the risk of obesity and prevent several metabolic diseases," said Crispino. The findings were published in the journal Frontiers In Cellular Neuroscience.

Courtesy – Deccan Herald

 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016 06:07

Zapping the brain during sleep may strengthen memory

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In a first, scientists including one of Indian origin, have discovered that stimulating the brain during sleep may strengthen memory, a finding that may lead to a non-invasive method to help people with conditions such as autism and Alzheimer's disease.

Scientists at University of North Carolina (UNC) in the US used transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) to target a specific kind of brain activity during sleep and strengthen memory in healthy people.

For years, researchers have recorded electrical brain activity that oscillates or alternates during sleep; they present as waves on an electroencephalogram (EEG).

These waves are called sleep spindles, and scientists have suspected their involvement in cataloging and storing memories as we sleep.

"Our study shows that the spindles are crucial for the process of creating memories we need for every-day life. And we can target them to enhance memory," said senior author Flavio Frohlich, assistant professor at UNC.

This marks the first time a research group has reported selectively targeting sleep spindles without also increasing other natural electrical brain activity during sleep.

This has never been accomplished with tDCS - transcranial direct current stimulation - in which a constant stream of weak electrical current is applied to the scalp.

For the study, 16 male participants underwent a screening night of sleep before completing two nights of sleep.

Before going to sleep each night, all participants performed two common memory exercises - associative word-pairing tests and motor sequence tapping tasks, which involved repeatedly finger-tapping a specific sequence.

On both nights, each participant had electrodes placed at specific spots on their scalps. One of the nights, each person received tACS - an alternating current of weak electricity synchronised with the brain's natural sleep spindles. During the other night, each person received sham stimulation as placebo.

Each morning participants performed standard memory tests. Researchers, including Sankaraleengam Alagapan, found no improvement in test scores for associative word-pairing but a significant improvement in the motor tasks when comparing the results between the stimulation and placebo night.

"This demonstrated a direct causal link between the electric activity pattern of sleep spindles and the process of motor memory consolidation," Frohlich said.

"We know sleep spindles, along with memory formation, are impaired in a number of disorders, such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer's," said Caroline Lustenberger, postdoctoral fellow at Frohlich lab.

"We hope that targeting these sleep spindles could be a new type of treatment for memory impairment and cognitive deficits," she said. The study was published in the journal Current Biology.

Courtesy – Deccan Herald

 

British scientists say they have developed a pioneering new treatment to prevent bacterial skin infections, which could also be used in the battle against 'superbugs' such as MRSA.

The new treatment, developed by researchers at the University of Sheffield and funded by Age UK is a new way to prevent skin wounds, such as bed-sores and ulcers, becoming infected.

This treatment has been proven to work on antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which is currently one of the biggest threats to global healthcare and medicine.

Bacterial skin infections are a major problem for older people and people with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes.

Infected wounds heal more slowly, causing pain and distress for the patient, and are a significant cost to the NHS in the UK.

To launch an infection, bacteria attach tightly to skin cells and have learned to hijack 'sticky patches' on human cells to achieve this.

Using proteins called tetraspanins, from human cells, the Sheffield scientists have made these patches much less sticky, allowing bacteria to be harmlessly washed away.

The research has shown that these proteins prevent bacterial infections in a model of human skin, which the scientists say give a clear indication that this treatment is both safe and effective.

This treatment was trialled on a model of 3D tissue engineered skin (TEskin) developed by engineers at the University.

The engineered skin, pioneered by Professor Sheila MacNeil from the University's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, can model infected wounds in human skin and mimics the tissue structure of normal adult skin.

It can be used to analyse the penetration of peptides and bacteria.

Pete Monk from the University's Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Science, who led the study, said: "This development is a huge breakthrough in the fight against antibiotic-resistance. Skin infections, such as bed-sores and ulcers, can be incredibly troubling for patients who may already be dealing with other debilitating conditions. They are also a significant problem for modern healthcare".

"We hope that this new therapy can be used to help relieve the burden of skin infections on both patients and health services while also providing a new insight into how we might defeat the threat of antimicrobial drug resistance".

"The therapy could be administered to patients using a gel or cream and could work well as a dressing. We're hoping it can reach clinical trials stage in the next three to five years," Monk said.

Courtesy – Deccan Herald

 

Both high and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol - commonly called 'good cholesterol' for helping reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack - may increase a person's risk of premature death, a new study has claimed.

Conversely, intermediate HDL cholesterol levels may increase longevity, researchers said.
"The findings surprised us. Previously it was thought that raised levels of the good cholesterol were beneficial," said Ziyad Al-Aly, professor at Washington University in the US.

"The relationship between increased levels of HDL cholesterol and early death is unexpected and not fully clear yet. This will require further study," said Al-aly.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in blood that can narrow and block heart vessels, causing cardiovascular disease and stroke. For years, HDL cholesterol has been credited with helping to remove plaque-building "bad cholesterol" from arteries, researchers said.
They studied kidney function and HDL cholesterol levels in more than 1.7 million male veterans from October 2003 to September 2004. Researchers then followed participants till September 2013.

Patients with kidney disease frequently have lower levels of HDL cholesterol, which might explain their increased risk of early death; however, the association between elevated HDL cholesterol levels and premature death in these patients has been unclear, researchers said.

In this study, researchers showed that both high and low HDL cholesterol levels were associated with an increased risk of dying among study participants with all levels of kidney function.

"The findings may explain why clinical trials aimed at increasing HDL cholesterol levels failed to show improved outcomes," said Al-Aly.

Research data showed a relationship between HDL cholesterol levels and mortality as a U-shaped curve with the risk of death increased at both ends of the spectrum.

"Too low and too high are both associated with higher risk of death," said Al-Aly.
The findings were published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology

Courtesy – Deccan Herald

 

Daytime light exposure may be a promising means to combat sleep disturbances associated with evening use of electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets, a new study has claimed.

The use of smartphones and tablet computers during evening hours has previously been associated with sleep disturbances in humans.

The use of blue light emitting devices during evening hours has been shown to interfere with sleep in humans.

In the new study from Uppsala University in Sweden involving 14 young females and males, researchers sought to investigate the effects of evening reading on a tablet computer on sleep following daytime bright light exposure.

"Our main finding was that following daytime bright light exposure, evening use of a self-luminous tablet for two hours did not affect sleep in young healthy students," said Frida Rangtell, PhD student at the Department of Neuroscience at Uppsala University.

"Our results could suggest that light exposure during the day, eg by means of outdoor activities or light interventions in offices, may help combat sleep disturbances associated with evening blue light stimulation," said Christian Benedict, associate professor at the Department of Neuroscience.

"Even if not examined in our study, it must however be kept in mind that utilising electronic devices for the sake of checking your work e-mails or social network accounts before snoozing may lead to sleep disturbances as a result of emotional arousal," said Benedict.The findings were published in the journal Sleep Medicine.

Courtesy – Deccan Herald

Building a rapport with someone on a first date may be as simple as eating the same food as them, suggests a new study that found that similar food consumption facilitates a sense of closeness and trust between adults.

Researchers from the University of Chicago in the US launched a series of experiments.
In their first study, each participant was partnered with a stranger when playing an investment game designed to measure trust.

The participants received money that they could give to the stranger, who would invest the money - with a guarantee that the investment would double in value.

The strangers, or "fund managers," could decide how much - if any - of the invested money to give back to their partners.

Some pairs were assigned to eat the same candy before the exercise, while others ate different candy. The researchers discovered that the participants gave more money to the strangers when they had eaten the same type of candy.

The researchers further tested the influence of food in a second study in which pairs were assigned to opposing sides of a labour negotiation.

Some pairs ate similar foods during the negotiations while others ate different foods. The pairs that had eaten similar foods reached an agreement almost twice as quickly as the groups that ate dissimilar foods, researchers said.

"People tend to think that they use logic to make decisions, and they are largely unaware that food preferences can influence their thinking," said Ayelet Fishbach, a professor at the University of Chicago.

"On a very basic level, food can be used strategically to help people work together and build trust," Fishbach said.

At large group meetings, for example, organisers could limit the number of food options in order to encourage similar food consumption, which could lead to increased trust and collaboration, the researchers said.

When ordering food during lunch with a colleague or dinner on a blind date, selecting a similar type of food could build rapport, they said.

They also discovered that these findings applied to marketing products. Participants trusted information from advertisers when consumers ate the same type of food as advertisers giving a testimonial about the product.

Although similar food preferences promoted trust and cooperation, the researchers were eager to discover whether other types of similarities had a same effect.

They tested whether outside observers thought individuals wearing shirts of the same color trusted each other more than individuals wearing different colored shirts.

The results showed that similarity in shirt color did not have the same influence as food on perceived trust.

The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

Courtesy – Deccan Herald

 

NASA is launching an airborne mission that will map the contours of the Earth's atmosphere to discover how much pollution exists in the most remote corners of the planet and assess how the environment has changed as a result.

Pollutants emitted to the atmosphere - soot, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides - are dispersed over the whole globe, but remote regions are cleaner, by factors of 1000 or more, than areas near the continents, researchers said.

The Atmospheric Tomography (ATom) mission is the first to survey the atmosphere over the oceans. Scientists aboard NASA's DC-8 flying laboratory will journey from the North Pole south over the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand and then across to the tip of South America and north up the Atlantic Ocean to Greenland.

"We've had many airborne measurements of the atmosphere over land, where most pollutants are emitted, but land is only a small fraction of the planet," said Michael Prather, an atmospheric scientist and ATom's deputy project scientist at University of California Irvine.

"The oceans are where a lot of chemical reactions take place, and some of the least well understood parts are hard to get to because they are so remote," Prather said.
"With ATom we're going to measure a wide range of chemically distinct parts of the atmosphere over the most remote areas of the ocean that have not been measured before," he said.

While the majority of the flight path takes the DC-8 over the ocean, the science team expects to see influence from human pollution that originates on land.

"Humans produce a lot of pollution, and it doesn't just disappear when it's blown off the continents. It goes somewhere," said atmospheric scientist Steve Wofsy, ATom principal investigator at Harvard University.

"We know it gets diluted in the atmosphere, it gets washed out by rain, but we want to understand the processes that do that and where and how long they take," Wofsy said.

The suite of 20 instruments aboard the DC-8 will measure airborne particles called aerosols and more than 200 gases in each sampled air patch, documenting their locations and allowing scientists to determine interactions.

The team will use ATom's collected data on the air's chemical signatures to understand where pollutants originate, and where and how quickly these climate gases react chemically and eventually disappear from the atmosphere.

ATom is particularly interested in methane, ozone and airborne particles called black carbon, which have strong effects on climate and which all have both human and natural origins.

ATom's first flight is planned for July 28, a round trip over the tropics between Palmdale, California and the equator.

On July 31, the mission begins its around-the-world trip lasting 26 days. It is the first of four deployments that will take place over the next three years in different seasons.

Courtesy – Deccan Herald

 

 

People who often eat food prepared at home are less likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes than those who consume such meals less frequently, new research has claimed.

There is an increasing tendency for people to eat out, and this could involve consumption of fast food, for example, researchers said.

Concerns have been raised that such people have a diet that is rich in energy but relatively poor in nutrients - this could lead to weight gain which is, in turn, associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, said Qi Sun, from the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Heath in the US.

There has been little authoritative research investigating the role that preparing meals at home may play in altering the long term risks of developing diabetes and/or obesity.

Sun and colleagues employed large prospective datasets in which US health professionals - both men and women - were followed-up for long periods, with rigorous collection of data on health indicators, including self-reported information on eating habits and occurrence of diabetes.

The results were corrected for various known factors that could affect dining habits, including marital status. The study analysed 2.1 million years of follow-up data.

The findings indicate that people who reported consuming 5-7 evening meals prepared at home during a week had a 15 per cent lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those who consumed 2 such meals or fewer in a week.

A smaller, but still statistically significant, reduction was apparent for those who reported consuming more midday meals prepared at home, researchers said.

Other analyses suggest that less weight gain could partially explain the reported reduction in occurrence of type 2 diabetes in those often eating meals prepared at home.

Well-established diabetes prevention strategies include behavioural interventions aimed at increasing exercise and improving dietary habits.

The findings suggest that the nutritional and lifestyle benefits of consuming meals prepared at home could contribute to these diabetes prevention efforts. The research was published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Courtesy – Deccan Herald

 

Scratching the lining of the womb before conceiving a baby may double the chances of a successful birth, a new study has claimed.

There is a much disputed claim that "injury" to the lining of the uterus - whether inadvertent or deliberate - increases the chance of embryo implantation and thus the chance of pregnancy in certain groups of women having In vitro fertilisation (IVF), researchers said.

 The "injury" has usually been performed as a biopsy from the womb lining (endometrium), whose action is believed to cause a favourable inflammation ("scratch") within the endometrium thereby making it more receptive to an implanting embryo. Indeed, the success of more complex uterine surgery in some studies has even been attributed to the scratch and not to the surgery itself. Now, researchers have reviewed randomised controlled trials evaluating endometrial scratching in women planning to have intrauterine insemination (IUI) or attempting to conceive spontaneously (with or without ovulation induction).

It suggests that endometrial scratching may well be beneficial in couples trying to conceive naturally or with IUI, although "the quality of the available evidence is low," said Sarah Lensen from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Eight eligible trials with a total of 1,180 women were included in the review, in which endometrial scratching was compared to no intervention or a mock intervention.

The primary outcomes were live birth/ongoing pregnancy and pain from the intervention.

Following analysis, endometrial scratching appeared to increase the chance of clinical pregnancy and live birth compared to no procedure or a placebo procedure.

The difference in outcome was statistically significant and appeared to roughly double the chance of live birth compared to no intervention (relative risk 2.22).

Lensen explained that endometrial scratching would increase the normal chance of a live birth or ongoing pregnancy from 9 per cent over a set period of time to somewhere between 14 and 28 per cent.

However, "the results must be treated with caution," said Lensen.

There was no evidence that endometrial scratching has any effect on miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or multiple pregnancy.

Lensen described endometrial scratching as "a cheap and simple procedure" which can be conducted without analgesia during a short clinic visit; it does, however, require an internal examination which is associated with pain and discomfort.

Courtesy – Deccan Herald

 

Scratching the lining of the womb before conceiving a baby may double the chances of a successful birth, a new study has claimed.

There is a much disputed claim that "injury" to the lining of the uterus - whether inadvertent or deliberate - increases the chance of embryo implantation and thus the chance of pregnancy in certain groups of women having In vitro fertilisation (IVF), researchers said.

 The "injury" has usually been performed as a biopsy from the womb lining (endometrium), whose action is believed to cause a favourable inflammation ("scratch") within the endometrium thereby making it more receptive to an implanting embryo. Indeed, the success of more complex uterine surgery in some studies has even been attributed to the scratch and not to the surgery itself. Now, researchers have reviewed randomised controlled trials evaluating endometrial scratching in women planning to have intrauterine insemination (IUI) or attempting to conceive spontaneously (with or without ovulation induction).

It suggests that endometrial scratching may well be beneficial in couples trying to conceive naturally or with IUI, although "the quality of the available evidence is low," said Sarah Lensen from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Eight eligible trials with a total of 1,180 women were included in the review, in which endometrial scratching was compared to no intervention or a mock intervention.

The primary outcomes were live birth/ongoing pregnancy and pain from the intervention.

Following analysis, endometrial scratching appeared to increase the chance of clinical pregnancy and live birth compared to no procedure or a placebo procedure.

The difference in outcome was statistically significant and appeared to roughly double the chance of live birth compared to no intervention (relative risk 2.22).

Lensen explained that endometrial scratching would increase the normal chance of a live birth or ongoing pregnancy from 9 per cent over a set period of time to somewhere between 14 and 28 per cent.

However, "the results must be treated with caution," said Lensen.

There was no evidence that endometrial scratching has any effect on miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or multiple pregnancy.

Lensen described endometrial scratching as "a cheap and simple procedure" which can be conducted without analgesia during a short clinic visit; it does, however, require an internal examination which is associated with pain and discomfort.

Courtesy – Deccan Herald

 

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