COCONUT OIL SUPER FOOD?

CoconutsCoconut oil classified is considered a superfood according toCoconut oil is high in saturated fatSales of coconut oil are rocketing, propelled by celebrity endorsements and claims that drinking the stuff will cure everything from halitosis to digestive disorders. Actress Angelina Jolie-Pitt is said to have a tablespoon or so with breakfast most mornings, while model Miranda Kerr says she not only adds it to salads and smoothies, but she cooks with it and splashes it on her skin as well. The health claims that swirl around coconut oil are treated with a great deal of scepticism by scientists. Coconut oil is seen, in the scientific community, as an unhealthy fat. It is very high in saturated fat (86%), even more so than butter (51%) or lard (39%). The reason that foods rich in saturated fats are frowned on is because eating them causes a rise in blood levels of LDL (low density lipoprotein). LDL is known as “bad cholesterol” because high levels are linked with increased risk of heart disease. On the other hand, saturated fats – which are particularly bad for you – also tend to raise HDL, “good” cholesterol, which has the opposite effect. It is possible that a particular food can raise overall cholesterol levels, yet still be heart-friendly.

Cholesterol check

So is coconut oil a cholesterol-busting wonder food, as some claim, or is this all dangerous hype? Despite all the sound and fury that surrounds coconut oil there have been surprisingly few human studies carried out to test specific health claims. So for the current BBC2 series of Trust Me I’m a Doctor, we thought we should help organise a trial. The Trust Me team started by contacting Prof Kay-Tee Khaw and Prof Nita Forouhi, both eminent Cambridge academics. With their help we recruited 94 volunteers, aged 50-75 and with no history of diabetes or heart disease, and designed a study to assess what effect eating different types of fat would have on their cholesterol levels. We began by randomly allocating our volunteers to one of three groups. Every day for four weeks, the first was asked to eat 50g of extra virgin coconut oil – that’s about three tablespoons full.

Type of oil or fat Polyunsaturated (%) Monounsaturated (%) Saturated (%)
Coconut oil 2 6 86
Butter 3 21 51
Lard 11 45 39
Goose fat 11 56 27
Olive oil 10 76 14
Rapeseed oil 28 63 7
Sesame oil 41 40 14
Corn oil 54 27 12
Sunflower oil 65 20 10

The second group was asked to consume the same amount of extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil is a key element of the Mediterranean diet, which is widely seen as being extremely healthy. And the third was asked to eat 50g of unsalted butter a day. Again, that adds up to just over three tablespoons. The volunteers were told that they could consume these fats in whatever way they pleased, as long as they did so every day for the whole four weeks. On the other hand others think that Coconut oil ‘as unhealthy as beef fat and butter’ so the Diet debate: Is butter back and is sat fat good? They were also warned that, because they were consuming an extra 450 calories a day, they might well put on some weight. Before our volunteers started on their new high-fat regime we took blood samples to get baseline measurements, focusing mainly on their levels of LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and HDL (the “good” cholesterol) The importance of these two measures is that your heart attack risk is best calculated, not by looking at your total cholesterol score, but your total cholesterol divided by your HDL score. NHS Choices suggests that this figure should be below four. So what happened? As expected the butter eaters saw an average rise in their LDL levels of about 10%, which was almost matched by a 5% rise in their HDL levels Those consuming olive oil saw a small reduction, albeit a non-significant drop, in LDL cholesterol, and a 5% rise in HDL. So olive oil lived up to its heart-friendly reputation.Olive oil

Early Stages of Studies

But the big surprise was the coconut oil. Not only was there no rise in LDL levels, which was what we were expecting, but there was a particularly large rise in HDL, the “good” cholesterol, up by 15. On the face of it that would suggest that the people consuming the coconut oil had actually reduced their risk of developing heart disease or stroke. Olive oil is a key element of the Mediterranean diet, which is seen as particularly healthy. I asked Prof Khaw, who was clearly surprised by these results, why she thought it had happened. “I have no real idea,” she candidly replied. “Perhaps it is because the main saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid and lauric acid may have different biological impacts on blood lipids to other fatty acids. The evidence for that comes mainly from animals, so it was fascinating to see this effect in free-living humans.” So should we be hailing coconut oil as a health food? “I think decisions to eat particular oils depend on more than just the health effects” she said. “This is just one study and it would be irresponsible to suggest changing dietary advice based on one study, however well conducted.” This was a very short-term study and compared to olive oil, research on coconut oil is at an early stage. So the claims about coconut oil being a superfood are premature. But if, like me, you enjoy putting coconut in your curries, there seems no very good reason to stop.

The new series of Trust Me I’m a Doctorcontinues on BBC2 at 20:30 GMT on Wednesday 10 January and will be available on iPlayer afterwards.

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A FAMILY FEELS NO PAIN?

Letizia MarsiliA family does not feel pain according to the story recently reported in the news. Letizia Marsili and five other members rarely feel pain  Letizia Marsili, 52, first realised she was different when she was very young. She has high threshold for pain meaning she did not feel burns or notice broken bones. Five other family members are also affected by condition which means they are insensitive to pain. Letizia told the BBC: “From day to day we live a very normal life, perhaps better than the rest of the population, because we very rarely get unwell and we hardly feel any pain. “However, in truth we do feel pain perception of pain, but this only lasts for a few seconds.” Scientists believe the condition could be down to some nerves not reacting properly. Researchers who studied the family hope their discovery of a gene mutation in family members could help chronic-pain sufferers in future. “We have opened up a whole new route to drug discovery for pain relief,” said Prof Anna Maria Aloisi from the University of Siena in Italy.

How is family affected?

Letizia’s mother, two sons, sister and niece all show signs of being affected by syndrome that is named after the family Marsili pain syndrome. She said pain was an important alarm signal because they feel it fleetingly, the family often have fractures go undetected and this leads to inflammation in their bones. They also experience burns and other injuries without knowing. Letizia said her 24-year-old son Ludovico, who plays football, has encountered problems. “He rarely stays on the ground, even when he is knocked down. However, he has fragility at the ankles and he suffers distortions, which are micro fractures. “In fact, recently X-rays have shown that he has lots of micro fractures in both ankles.” She said her younger son Bernardo, 21, had a calcification of the elbow without realising he had broken it after falling off his bike. He continued cycling another nine miles. Fractures, broken bones and burns are often not noticed and don’t heal properly.Fractures are often missed because the family doesn't feel the pain

Letizia says when she fractured right shoulder skiing she continued to ski all afternoon, only going to the hospital the next morning because her fingers were tingling. So same thing happened when she broke a bone in her elbow playing tennis. “Because of a lack of pain, it got so stressed that it ended up breaking,” she says. But the worst thing, she says, was problems in her mouth because of a tooth implant went wrong. Letizia’s mother, Maria Domenica, 78, has had a number of fractures which have never healed properly and have hardened naturally. She suffers burns because she doesn’t feel any pain. Her sister Maria Elena often damages the top of her mouth because she burns herself with hot drinks, and her daughter Virginia once left her hand in ice for about 20 minutes without feeling pain. Despite all this, Letizia says she has never seen  condition “as a negative for our lives.”

Do they feel little pain?

Lead study author Dr James Cox, from University College London said Marsili family members had all their nerves present, but “they’re just not working how they should be.” He said: “We’re working to gain a better understanding of exactly why they don’t feel much pain, to see if could help us find new pain relief treatments.” The research team, whose findings are published in the journal Brain, worked with family to find out nature of their phenotype the observable characteristics caused by their genetics. The Marsili syndrome, named after them, means the affected individuals are less than normally sensitive (or hyposensitive) to extreme heat, capsaicin in chilli peppers, have experienced pain-free bone fractures.

Scientists discover genes

The researchers mapped out protein-coding genes in each family member’s genome and found a mutation in the ZFHX2 gene. They then conducted two studies in mice which had been bred without this gene and found their pain thresholds had been altered. When they bred a new line of mice with relevant mutation they found they were notably insensitive to high temperatures. Prof Aloisi said: “With more research to understand exactly how the mutation impacts pain sensitivity, and to see what other genes might be involved, we could identify novel targets for drug development.” The family is believed to be the one in the world to be affected by this faulty gene.

Additional reporting by Mauro Galluzzo

21 FOODS UNCLOG ARTERIES

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If your goal is to restore or maintain a healthy heart, there are a variety of foods that can help to unclog arteries of plaque build-up, lower your blood pressure, and reduce inflammation – the main culprits of cardiovascular illness. Many of the foods on this list contain healthy fats, antioxidants, and soluble fiber which are great not only for your heart, but also to promote healthy skin, hair, hormone production, and nutrient absorption.  You can feel better, have more energy, and improve your heart health without the use of toxic chemicals.

1. Asparagus

One of the best vegetables for clearing arteries, asparagus is full of fiber and minerals, as well as a long list of vitamins including K, B1, B2, C, and E.  Asparagus can help to lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots that can cause serious cardiovascular illness.  Try steaming raw asparagus for maximum vitamin potential!

2. Avocado

avocado2avocado-pesto-pasta-with-hot-smoked-salmon-105302-1The next time you make a sandwich or salad, consider adding a few slices of avocado in lieu of mayonnaise or heavy salad dressing. Studies have shown that the daily consumption of avocado result in improved blood cholesterol with a decrease in triglycerides and LDL of around 22% and an 11% increase in HDL – the “good” cholesterol that helps to keep arteries clear of obstructions.  Not only can this delicious fruit help to keep your blood flowing smoothly, the average avocado also contains around 4 grams protein and 11 grams of fiber, not to mention an impressive list of vitamins and antioxidants. For an even more potent dose of avocado, why not try adding avocado oil for your diet. Read our recent article here revealing ten reasons you should add avocado oil to your diet.420970_1280x720

3. Broccoli

Broccoli is another vegetable that is loaded with vitamin K which helps to prevent calcification or hardening of arteries. Eating vitamins, antioxidant packed broccoli can also help to prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol which can lead to serious heart conditions.  This super healthy veggie also offers a heart-healthy dose of fiber which helps to normalize blood-pressure and reduce stress that cause tears and eventually plaque build-up) in arterial walls.

4. Chia Seeds

11750070877199195178When included daily as part of a heart-healthy diet, fiber and alpha-linolenic acid contained in just two ounces of Chia seeds can help to keep arteries clear by regulating blood pressure, reducing LDL cholesterol, lowering triglycerides, and increasing HDL cholesterol.  Daily cardiovascular exercise is another excellent way to improve heart health and keep arteries clear, Chia seeds are doubly effective.  The boost of protein and nutrients offered by this tiny superfood can help to make any workout feel just a little bit easier. If you want to try Chia seeds then you can get some from this page on Amazon.

(Further reading: 10 Emphatic Reasons Why You Should Add Chia Seeds To Your Diet Today)

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5. Cinnamon

You’ve probably heard that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.  But did you know that a spoonful of cinnamon makes your risk of heart disease go down?  Just one tablespoon of ground cinnamon per day can work to reduce cholesterol levels while at the same time clearing and preventing plaque build-up.  Cinnamon is also full of antioxidants which further improve cardiovascular health by protecting blood from damaging oxidation.  So put down the sugar and start enjoying cinnamon.  Try this fragrant spice in a cup of tea or sprinkled on top of coffee.  Or check out the recipes on EatingWell with cinnamon.

6. Coconut Oil

21 Foods That Naturally Unclog ArteriesDisregard the old myth all saturated fats bad and leading cause of cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis.  Regular consumption of coconut oil – about 2 or 3 tablespoons per day – can help to reduce plaque build-up in the arteries by aiding the conversion of cholesterol in the blood stream into a form that our bodies can use.  High concentration of medium chain triglyceride, lauric acid present in coconut oil is also thought to improve blood coagulation as well as to perform antioxidant functions in the blood stream, further diminishing the risk of heart disease.

Want to try coconut oil? You can get a jar from this page on Amazon.

Further Reading: 23 Reasons You Should Have A Spoonful Of Coconut Oil Every Morning

7. Coffee

Also contrary to popular belief, coffee is not bad for your healthStudies have found that drinking between 8 and 16 oz of coffee per day can reduce your risk of heart disease by around 20%.  Just remember to take all things in moderation, including caffeine.  Over-consumption of any stimulant has the potential to increase your blood pressure and heart rate, which can lead to some serious health problems. There are some ways you can make your coffee extra healthy. Here are seven things you can do.

Further Reading: 14 Genius Ways To Recycle Used Coffee Grounds

8. Cranberries

health-benefits-of-cranberriesCranberries are another antioxidant-rich food which can help to improve cardiovascular health by reducing LDL and raising HDL cholesterol levels. In fact, cranberry juice has more antioxidant power than all but one other fruit juice (100% red or black grape being the exception.)  Enjoy two servings of 100% pure organic cranberry juice daily to protect your heart and improve your health.

9. Cold-water ‘Fatty Fish’

Also rich in healthy fats, cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna can help to clear arteries.  Try to eat fish twice per week to reduce plaque build-up and inflammation that can lead to heart disease.  Also, eating cold-water fish can help to improve your overall cholesterol lowering triglyceride levels and increasing HDL cholesterol in the blood-stream.

10. Flax/seeds

150506112204-fruits-nuts-vegetables-grains-stockOne of the best sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), flaxseeds are known for their ability to reduce blood-pressure and inflammation, helping to keep arteries clear of obstructions and improve overall heart health.  Enjoy a serving of 100% organic golden flaxseed added to a delicious smoothie or in one of these heart-healthy recipes by EatingWell!

11. Green Tea

21 Foods That Naturally Unclog Arteries

Green tea –especially nutrient-rich Matcha green tea  contains high levels of catechins, antioxidant plant phenols which hinder the absorption of cholesterol during digestion.  Enjoy a cup or two of green tea every day to improve your blood-lipid levels and help reduce arterial blockage.  Green tea also provides a natural boost to the metabolism which can help you to lose weight, further bolstering your cardiovascular health.

(Further reading: 10 Amazing Benefits Of Matcha Green Tea)

12. Nuts

raw-postA heart healthy snack alternative to prepackaged and processed foods, raw nuts are a delicious way to clear arteries with many auxiliary benefits, to boot!  Almonds are by far the best option, being high in monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, fiber, and protein.  Walnuts are another great choice.  As an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) the same EFA that gives flaxseeds their favorable reputation – eating a serving of walnuts every day can help to improve blood-pressure, reduce inflammation, and keep arteries clear of obstructions.

Further reading: 500 Healthy All-Natural Snack Recipes

13. Olive Oil

Rich in monounsaturated oleic acid – an essential fatty acid (EFA) known for its positive effects on cholesterol levels and oxidative stress in the blood stream – olive oil is widely considered to be one of the healthiest oils for cooking and dressing food.  According to a recent study, use of olive oil for these purposes can actually reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular illnesses by up to 41%. A word of caution: When shopping for olive oil, avoid buying the lowest-priced option on the shelf.  These products are inexpensive for a good reason. Low-cost olive oils are often cut with cheaper, less-healthy oils or have been damaged by heat during the extraction process.  Instead, go with certified 100% organic virgin olive oil.

14. Orange Fruits/Juice

anitoxidants-foodsDrinking just two cups of 100% orange juice (no sugar added) every day can help to improve blood pressure and reduce inflammation of arteries.  Also, orange juice is full of antioxidant vitamin C which helps to keep arteries clear by preventing oxidative damage in blood stream.  For more information about how orange juice improves circulatory function, read this article by the Bastyr Center for Natural Health.

15. Persimmon

A-simple-Persimmon-Smoothie-recipe-perfect-for-using-this-delicious-winter-fruit-uprootfromoregon.com_-1024x681DOxWroOVAAAqNM9Persimmons are loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols, both of which work to decrease LDL and triglycerides in the blood-stream.  Persimmons are also a great source of fiber which helps to regulate blood pressure, keep your heart healthy, and your arteries clear.

16. Pomegranate

Antioxidant phytochemicals naturally present in pomegranates do an excellent job of protecting circulatory system from damaging oxidation which cause plaque build-up and dangerous blood clots.  Pomegranate also naturally stimulates production of nitric oxide in the blood which helps to open arteries and regulate blood pressure. Try eating fresh pomegranate or enjoy the organic pomegranate juice!

17. Spinach

One of the famed dark leafy greens, spinach is loaded with fiber, potassium, and folate all of which help to lower blood pressure and keep arteries clear.  According to recent studies, just one serving per day of folate-rich greens like spinach can lower homocysteine levels as risk factor for cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis.  Why not mix it up a little?  Enjoy your spinach sautéed, in a salad, or as part of a heart-smart smoothie!

18. Spirulina

Spirulina is a cytobacteria (or blue-green algaeas they are often called) which not only helps to regulate lipid levels in the blood, it is also a complete protein.  Unlike other plant sources of protein, Spirulina contains all of the essential amino acids needed by the human body to maintain optimum health.  Spirulina is also packed with EFAs, including alpha-linolenic acid the essential omega-3 fatty acid found in chia and flaxseeds that has been researched extensively for its ability to reduce arterial inflammation, improves cardiovascular health.  Take Spirulina daily as supplement or try it in powder form in some of these delicious recipes.

Further Reading: 10 Wonderful Benefits Of Spirulina

19. Turmeric

21 Foods That Naturally Unclog ArteriesCurcumin, the main component of Turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory.  Adding turmeric to your diet can seriously reduce inflammation and damage to arterial walls which are leading causes of plaque build-up and blood clots.  Furthermore, studies have shown us the high levels of curcumin in Turmeric aid reduction of fatty deposits in the arteries by up to 26%.  Try some of these excellent recipes using all-natural organic turmeric.

20. Watermelon

Not only is it delicious, watermelon is another fruit that is great for your heart.  As an excellent natural source of the amino acid L-citrulline, watermelon can help to keep arteries clear by lowering blood pressure and decreasing inflammation.  In much the same way as pomegranate, watermelon naturally stimulates production of nitric oxide, which further improves artery health and blood pressure. Try some of these Best Watermelon Recipes by Southern Living!

21. Whole Grains

1019 Trade out your bleached carbohydrates for theirwhole grain alternatives to give your heart health a boost.  Foods like whole grain beans, breads, whole wheat pastas, brown rice, quinoa, barley, and oatmeal have long been celebrated for the role in improving blood cholesterol levels, keeping arteries clear, and reducing the risk of serious heart disease. Need a little help finding foods that fit the bill?  Check out this great guide to whole grain groceries.

GOODFOOD TO BIN RESCUED

People eating snacks and dips

the food tucked into in Kilner jars filled with delicious goods as piccalilli, vegan chocolate mousse with a creamy tofu topping all was made from ingredients that would have otherwise been thrown away. Adam Handling launched Bean & Wheat in June to use surplus food from a kitchen of his nearby restaurant, The Frog E1. The Masterchef finalist wanted to help reduce around 199,000 tonnes of food waste produce each year by British restaurants, which he feels harms the environment but also “wastes money.”Adam Handling

Bean & Wheat’s dishes include salads made from unusual parts of vegetables, such as cauliflower stalks, pates made with off-cuts, and oils made with the tops of the herbs which are usually binned. Adam Handling reuses surplus food from the kitchen at his restaurant, the Frog E1. Mr Handling also makes his own compost from vegetable peelings, cold-pressed juices, misshapen fruit, and soap with coffee grounds. One of his priorities is to minimise food waste at restaurants to the point that we have hardly any,” he says. Bean & Wheat is one of a rising number of companies looking to tackle the issue of food waste, which sees a third of food produced for human consumption is lost or is wasted, according to UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. That’s equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes globally every year. The overproduction of food, rules restricting sale of discoloured or “wonky” produce, and aversion to leftovers, despite being perfectly fine to eat are all to blame. So campaigners say not only is such waste morally wrong, it also wastes water and worsens global warming as swelling landfills emit more greenhouse gasses.Kilner jars at Bean and Wheat

Jenny Dawson Costa quit her job in the hedge fund industry in 2011 to launch Rubies in the Rubble, hoping to offer a practical solution to the problem. The British firm uses unwanted “ugly” fruit and veg from UK farms to make their condiments, such as pink onion, chilli relish, banana ketchup and piccalilli. Its products are available in 500 stockists, including Waitrose, Selfridges and independent stores. Ms Dawson says that since she started, the public has become more aware about the issue of food waste and more open to eating surplus food. “Many consumers used to be put off by it and were worried about the quality but I think that’s changing. Brands like ours are also showing it can be used in products that taste great,” she adds, noting that her firm has won several awards. Indeed, even major retailers are embracing the trend, with Tesco and Asda among those now stocking misshapen fruit and veg. More stories from BBC’s Business Brain series looking at interesting business topics from around the world.The firm's condiments are sold in Waitrose and Selfridges

Rubies in the Rubble’s products are sold in Waitrose and Selfridges. Others are taking a different approach to tackling problem, such as Danish tech company Too Good To Go. It is one of a number of new apps that allow customers to buy unsold food from the local restaurants, cafes and bakeries for knockdown prices. The firm works with more than 6,000 food businesses including Yo! Sushi and Exmouth Coffee Company, and operates in six countries including UK, Sweden and Germany. Co-founder Chris Wilson says it saved two million meals from the bin since its launch in June 2016, however the firm still has to fight against negative perceptions around surplus food. “Whilst there’s been a shift in the mentality of people, most people are sceptical vast majority of the UK still looks upon food waste as being scraps from people’s plates. With us it’s not that at all.”Jamie Crummie and Chris Wilson co-founded Too good to go. Trish Caddy, food industry analyst at Mintel believes though surplus food continues to be stigmatised. “Consumers demand that companies address food waste but currently do not translate it to own behaviour remains to be seen if trend goes mainstream soon.Too good to goShe points to a Mintel survey, which found that 77% of those who eat out or buy takeaways agree restaurants should be more committed to reducing food waste, but only 17% are interested in eating dishes made from food was due to be thrown away. Of course, the hospitality industry will not be able tackle problem of food waste alone. So manufacturers, retailers, importantly households as the biggest producers of food waste must all play their part, says UK charity Waste & Resources Action Programme. Mr Handling says every little helps and there are plenty of ways food businesses can contribute. They can incorporate more ‘nose-to-tail’ cooking, send anything that can’t be cooked to be composted, or find another way to use off-cuts and by-products, or donate leftovers to charities as some restaurants and supermarkets do. “It’s about taking a second to think ‘have I absolutely exhausted all possibilities with this ingredient?’ before throwing it away.” Famine and child starvation can be stopped by food alert centres and a delivery system that makes use of good food away. Supermarkets can be also encouraged to reset sell by and use by dates as perfectly good food is thrown away because computers programmed reject sales if good foods. Yet constantly restock with similar good foods only to be thrown away but cost of production is affecting the environment. A win win situation is to help people understand how long it takes to grow food so not to easily throw away good food without second thought. Those who grew up in ration years know value of such quality good foods unavailable in the past now in superabundance taken for granted.

THE FOOD CHOICE FORCES

Modern food choices are influenced by forces out of control. An average person makes over 200 food-related decisions each day – but environmental forces can cause us to overeat by taking advantage of biological, psychological, and social and economic vulnerabilities. And so following a healthy diet can be hard. From deciding when and what to eat to how much food you actually put on your plate, the average person makes decisions each day, most of which are automatic. These automatic choices dubbed mindless eating by some experts happen when we eat and drink without consciously considering what kind of or how much food to consume. We’ll keep eating from a bowl of chips past the point of fullness simply because they’re in front of us. Even the most disciplined consumers are not fully in control of what they eat. Studies have shown that decisions such as when, what and how much to eat are often shaped by subtle forces outside of our awareness or direct control. These environmental forces can cause us to overeat taking advantage of biological, psychological, and social and economic vulnerabilities. This helps explain why 2 billion people worldwide overweight or obese, and why no country has yet been able to reverse their obesity epidemic. There’s hope. Research shed light on the major forces that encourage overeating, including biological, psychological, social, and economic. Now that we know more about them, we are in a better position to intervene.

BIOLOGY INFLUENCES APPETITES

Why do humans tend to crave items like chocolate over salad? Taste preferences such as a “sweet tooth” are innate to human biology, and they can change over the course of our lives. Children, for example, have a stronger preference for sweet foods than adults do. Modern food environment introduced an influx of processed foods filled with sugar, fat, salt, flavor enhancers, food additives, caffeine and so on. These ingredients are manipulated to try to maximize our biological enjoyment and satisfy those innate taste preferences. For instance, research finding says a certain highly palatable food like chocolate milkshake trigger brain responses like people’s reactions to addictive substances, giving new meaning to idea of ‘sugar high’. But processed foods are frequently stripped of components such as water, fiber and protein that cause us to feel full, making it difficult for the body to regulate food intake and maintain weight.

THE BRAIN LOVES FOOD

In addition to biological enjoyment of highly processed foods, there’s a lot to love about them psychologically. From McDonald’s Happy Meals toys to Coca-Cola’s global “Open Happiness” special marketing campaign, examples abound of the link between food and pleasure. Companies spend billions of the dollars used in marketing foods to create image of strong, positive association with their products. One study found that children actually think same food tastes better adorned with a cartoon character like Dora the Explorer or Shrek. There are lots of small ways our environment can promote overeating. People eat more when served larger portions, regardless of how hungry they are. Unhealthy foods are very noticeable and desired because they are everywhere in schools, restaurants, convenience stores, or the supermarkets and vending machines. They’ve even infiltrated stores selling office supplies and home goods.

The places where we make many of our food decisions can be overwhelming for busy consumers with 40,000 different products in a typical supermarket), and most psychological cues in environment signal us to eat more not less. Examples are large portion sizes, food prices, the placement of food items in stores and promotional strategies to market foods affect dietary decisions on daily basis. Consider portion size alone: Drinking Coca-Cola in 1950s meant consuming a 6.5-ounce glass; today 7-Eleven Double Gulp is roughly 10 times that size and contains nearly 800 calories. But for food out of sight means out of mind. Google provides free snack foods for employees, and found that employees were eating too many M&Ms. So they placed the M&Ms in opaque containers and made healthier snacks more visible. Simply placing M&Ms out of sight from 2,000 employees in the New York office meant they consumed 3.1 million fewer calories in just seven weeks.

ENVIRONMENT INFLUENCE FOOD

Unhealthy foods are often inexpensive, making them especially appealing to those on a tight budget. But fast food and ready-to-eat convenience store items are also widely available and quicker and easier to prepare than home-cooked meals, which makes busy consumers vulnerable to overeating them. Food companies also engage in targeted efforts to market to certain groups. For example, recent reports have shown that soda companies are increasing their spending in the US on targeting black and Hispanic youth, a concerning strategy as these groups have greater rates of obesity. The good news is public discourse about obesity and policy-making is starting to reflect science. The public and policymakers are realizing that health issues like obesity and its related chronic diseases are not just about people’s individual food decisions. People are prone to over-consume unhealthy foods because our current food environments exploit biological, psychological, and social and economic vulnerabilities, undermining people’s ability, personal responsibility for their food choices. Because weight loss programs lead to limited weight loss difficult to maintain, bolder efforts are needed to prevent overweight and obesity in the first place. Fortunately, policy-level interventions introduced. In US, by Food and Drug Administration will require large chain restaurants to list calorie content on food menus in 2016 and it has proposed adding a Daily Value for Added Sugars on food labels to limit consumption.

US Food and Drug Administration check large chain restaurant’s calorie list of food menus since 2016. Although the research or influence of calorie label and food choice mixed current evidence suggests that calorie labeling promotes lower calorie food choices for some consumers, some of the time, at some restaurants. The FDA has also taken action to remove harmful trans fats which increase risk of heart disease from processed foods. The US, United Kingdom, Peru, Uruguay and Costa Rica enacted policies to remove “junk food” from public schools out of sight out of mind. UK imposed sugar tax to help reduce sugar content levels in food and drinks. And Mexico recently enacted a one peso (8 cents) per liter tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to curb obesity epidemic. Berkeley, California passed a US$0.01 per ounce excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in 2014 and expects to generate $1.2 million from this year.Chile and Peru banned toys in Happy Meals. McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King all dropped soft drinks from their children’s menus. These are important steps in tackling obesity epidemic, and more research is needed for us to understand which interventions will work best. Innovative policies are needed to change what and how much we eat, alongside the efforts by food industry to make healthier life choices easier yet food more desirable.

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Christina Roberto, Assistant Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Nutrition, University of Pennsylvaniaand Mary Gorski, PhD Student, Health Policy, Harvard University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

DOES LOOKS AFFECT JOBS?

hqdefaultDoes looks affect jobs and will your face land you a dream job? Some measure expected standard face as a potential employer to decide whose face best fits the job. This new trend selects mostly females based on their looks or shape of their faces. Some companies go as far as asking for pictures in advance and then measuring faces with tape during their interviews for their required face. This matter is becoming an issue of concern as some do not hear from the employer again after their receiving photos. This way of employing staff members was again in the news. BLcsr71CAAEkR4ySo is this another stereotypical selection method of the beauty considered fit for a workplace? This method is based on facial profiling by face reader’s opinions who claim to predict suitable jobs for specific faces. They are consulted to analyse faces to determine the best face for each job. Is this another underhand tactics and an excuse to discriminate against certain faces? It is possible to send own air brushed picture to look impressive often people send a younger photo than their current looks. 364309F600000578-3689902-image-a-3_1468489483342Are companies being influenced by the modern concepts of what constitutes good looks online in the media as true standard beauty? What about ‘Ugly Betty’ chosen to help her boss from getting distracted by his beautiful secretaries to focus on managing his company. What happens if a company is catfished as happens often in many cases including Sarah who got a job from a university based on her photo of previous youthful years. The university appointed her and on arrival for work turned out to be confronted by an old lady three times her age. Sarah did not indicate her current age to them so it was assumed she looked like the photo sent. At first, the university thought it was a mix up until she confirmed her identity and she enough she was the same person. She was allowed to do the job based on her excellent and genuine track record on her CV qualifications and work history. Sarah although het looks did not affect her job turned out to be a nightmare. Sarah told university zoology director, she must live literary with all the animals in her home. ae840eace1a73d45b1ba4ac9d0668f97Therefore Sarah turned posh university accommodation into animal husbandry for her practical research. Her teaching produced great students so made up for lack of her youthful look Was tolerated to live among her beloved animals till she died unexpectedly. Sarah carried on dutifully for many years but became a victim of her own success. One of the animals bit her while taking him to a vet in her vehicle became infected by rhesus as he carried that disease. IMG_20170720_194117 Sarah dedicated her phenomenal long life collaborating with the university for many years. The university afterwards took the animals to the appropriate zoo set aside for all other animals. Then the house was refurbished and restored for new person employed to fill her place. Sarah was a great character and loyal to her beloved animals and carried on with her zoologist passion to a whole new level. Her presence at university was well-known so she was popular and well loved, one of a kind in that gated community. Her research papers, work was immaculate in both classroom and outside winning many awards. Sarah’s looks and age did not hinder or affect her work in at all. So if the university had based the choice on only superficial or aesthetic looks to reject application, they would have missed out on her skills, talents and practical abilities for many years, as an impressive scientist. So do looks really help in choosing the most competent staff members? Sarah’s job technically did not have age limits in those days so she was able to do her work perfectly well. Sarah did what she loved most so died doing her job carried on faithfully to the end. So is it fair and ethically moral to demand specific looks to determine certain jobs?

PREVENTION OF DEMENTIA

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One in three cases of dementia could be prevented if more people looked after their brain health throughout life, according to an international study in the Lancet. It lists nine key risk factors including lack of education, hearing loss, smoking and physical inactivity. The study is being presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London. By 2050, 131 million people could be living with dementia globally. There are estimated to be 47 million people with condition at the moment.agy-szkenner-1050x846


9 facts of dementia risk

  • Mid-life hearing loss – responsible for 9% of the risk
  • Failing to complete secondary education – 8%
  • Smoking – 5%
  • Failing to seek early treatment for depression – 4%
  • Physical inactivity – 3%
  • Social isolation – 2%
  • High blood pressure – 2%
  • Obesity – 1%
  • Type 2 diabetes – 1%

DTI_white_matter_tracks_sThese risk factors – which are thought to be modifiable – add up to 35%. The other 65% of dementia risk is beyond the individual’s control. Source: Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention or care. Though dementia is diagnosed in later life, brain changes usually begin to develop years before,” said lead author Prof Gill Livingston, from University College London. “Acting now will vastly improve life for people with dementia and families and, in doing so, will transform the future of society.” The report, which combines the work of 24 international experts, says lifestyle factors can play a major role in increasing or reducing an individual’s dementia risk. It examines the benefits of building a “cognitive reserve”, which means strengthening brain’s networks so it can continue to function in later life despite damage.Eve LairdImage captionEve Laird is taking part in a study on how to prevent dementia. Eve Laird, from Dumfries, is worried about dementia because her mum is living with the condition. She decided to make some changes to her lifestyle. “I’m terrible for eating processed foods and takeaways and I’ve really been trying to cut back on that.”I definitely drink a lot more water than I used to – and I don’t drink as much coffee now. “I actually took part in the Edinburgh marathon. For that I joined the Dumfries running club – I go there once a week.” She says she felt so much better for the exercise, and for improving her diet. “I felt a lot healthier and mentally sharper as well. It’s something I’d really like to continue, but it is hard to stay on track.” “I just think the small changes can make such a big difference.”Graph on forecast of dementia growth globallyFailure to complete secondary education was a major risk factor, and the authors suggest that individuals who continue to learn throughout life are likely to build additional brain reserves. Another major risk factor is hearing loss in middle age researchers say this can deny people a cognitively rich environment and lead to social isolation and depression, which are among other modifiable risk factors for dementia. Another key message from the report is that what is good for the heart is good for the brain.brainome

‘Positive changes’

Not smoking, doing exercise, keeping a healthy weight, treating high blood pressure and diabetes can all reduce the risk of dementia and cardiovascular disease, and cancer. The researchers say they did not have enough data to include dietary factors or alcohol in their calculations but believe both could be important. Dr Doug Brown, director of research at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Though it’s not inevitable, dementia is currently set to be the 21st Century’s biggest killer. We all need to be aware of the risks and start making positive lifestyle changes.” Dr David Reynolds, chief scientific officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Alongside prevention research, we must continue to invest in research to find a life-changing treatment for people with this devastating condition.”

BOTTLED SCENT DATED IN ADVANCE

jar filled with padding, hand-labelled Jan 19 2015A woman with dementia who went missing in Florida was found by a police dog in a matter of minutes, because she bottled her scent in advance. The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office said the woman used specialist scent preservation kit. It can hold a person’s scent for up to seven years. She stored the scent two-and-a-half years ago and a picture of the jar showed it was dated January 2015. The scent preservation kits involve rubbing a pad on a person’s underarm, sealing it in a sterile jar so police dogs have the reliable scent to smell before looking for a missing person. Manufacturers say they work better and more quickly than articles of clothing, because they are not contaminated by other people’s smells or smells from the environment. Dogs have a stronger sense of smell than humans and working police dogs are trained to sniff out drugs, people and in some cases corpses. So in this case, the missing person was found and the dog earned a celebratory ice cream.dog with ice creamThe dog, Ally, was rewarded with an ice cream after finding the woman.

LACK OF SLEEP LONG-TERM EFFECT 

Lack of sleep long-term causes parts of brain’s synapses to be ‘eaten’ by other brain cells, according to a new study by researchers at the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy. Astrocytes are a cell in the brain that clean out worn-out cells and debris. Scientists studying the brains of mice found these cells were more active when the animals had been deprived of sleep, breaking down more of the brain’s connections. “We show for the first time that portions of synapses are literally eaten by astrocytes because of sleep loss,” research leader Michele Bellesi told New Scientist. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as most of the synapses affected were larger and more mature, like old pieces of furniture and probably need more attention, cleaning said Bellesi. The more worrying finding was that ‘microglial’ brain cells, which seek out damaged cells and debris, were also more active in brain experiencing chronic sleep deprivation. “We already know sustained microglial activation observed in Alzheimer’s or other forms of neurodegeneration,” Bellesi said. And previous research found chronic sleep deprivation increases so-called plaques in the brain thought to be a main cause of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.agy-szkenner-1050x846

  • Sleeplessness and associated lack of productivity costs UK economy over £1billion a year, according to a study from Benson Beds.
  • UK adults lose 200,000 working days a year due to sleep issues.
  • 66% of insomniacs cite work stress as reason for inability to sleep.
  • A study from the Sleep Health Foundation has found a third of adults have made a mistake at work due to tiredness.

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