Tag Archives | Health

In the Beginning there were Simple Chemicals – New Evidence on the Origins of Life

Via Phys.org:

In the beginning, there were simple chemicals. And they produced amino acids that eventually became the proteins necessary to create single cells. And the single cells became plants and animals. Recent research is revealing how the primordial soup created the amino acid building blocks, and there is widespread scientific consensus on the evolution from the first cell into plants and animals. But it’s still a mystery how the building blocks were first assembled into the proteins that formed the machinery of all cells. Now, two long-time University of North Carolina scientists – Richard Wolfenden, PhD, and Charles Carter, PhD – have shed new light on the transition from building blocks into life some 4 billion years ago.

“Our work shows that the close linkage between the of amino acids, the , and protein folding was likely essential from the beginning, long before large, sophisticated molecules arrived on the scene,” said Carter, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the UNC School of Medicine.

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Fructose contributes to weight gain, physical inactivity, and body fat, researchers find

Tony Alter (CC BY 2.0)

Tony Alter (CC BY 2.0)

Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology via Science Daily:

In the last 40 years, fructose, a simple carbohydrate derived from fruit and vegetables, has been on the increase in American diets. Because of the addition of high-fructose corn syrup to many soft drinks and processed baked goods, fructose currently accounts for 10 percent of caloric intake for U.S. citizens. Male adolescents are the top fructose consumers, deriving between 15 to 23 percent of their calories from fructose–three to four times more than the maximum levels recommended by the American Heart Association.

A recent study at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois found that, matched calorie for calorie with the simple sugar glucose, fructose causes significant weight gain, physical inactivity, and body fat deposition.

The paper, “Fructose decreases physical activity and increases body fat without affecting hippocampal neurogenesis and learning relative to an isocaloric glucose diet,” was published in Scientific Reports.

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Magic mushrooms ‘less harmful than thought’ and should be reclassified, says leading psychiatrist

RuthArt (CC BY 2.0)

RuthArt (CC BY 2.0)

Charlie Cooper via The Independent:

Psychedelic drugs including LSD and magic mushrooms are much less harmful than has been claimed, and should be reclassified to make it easier for scientists to research their potential benefits, a leading psychiatrist has said.

Promising medical research into psychedelics ground to a halt as long ago as 1967, when they were made illegal amid widespread concern about their psychological and social harms.

However, writing in the BMJ, psychiatrist Dr James Rucker, said that no evidence had ever shown the drugs to be habit-forming. There is also little evidence of harm when used in controlled settings, and a wealth of studies indicating that they have uses in the treatment of common psychiatric disorders, he said.

Researchers are beginning to look again at how LSD and psilocybin – the active compound in magic mushrooms – might be of benefit in the treatment of addiction, for obsessive compulsive disorder and even, according to one small Swiss study, to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety in terminally ill patients.

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Can Transhumanism Overcome a Widespread Deathist Culture?

Mort

Zoltan Istvan via IEET:

The rapidly growing field of transhumanism—an international social movement whose highest immediate priority is overcoming human death via science and technology—is facing a colossal challenge. About 85 percent of the world’s population believes in life after death, and much of that population is perfectly okay with dying because it gives them an afterlife with their perceived deity or deities—something transhumanists often refer to as “deathist” culture.

In fact, four billion people on Earth—mostly Muslims and Christians—see the overcoming of death through science as potentially blasphemous, a sin involving humans striving to be godlike. Some holy texts say blasphemy is unforgivable and will end in eternal punishment.

So what are transhumanists to do in a world where science and technology are quickly improving and will almost certainly overcome human mortality in the next 30 years? Will there be a great civil rights debate and clash around the world?

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Cause of regression in individuals with Down syndrome identified

Ellen van Deelen (CC BY 2.0)

Ellen van Deelen (CC BY 2.0)

University of Missouri-Columbia via EurekAlert:

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Down syndrome, the most common chromosomal disorder in America, can be complicated by significant deterioration in movement, speech and functioning in some adolescents and young adults. Physicians previously attributed this regression to depression or early-onset Alzheimer’s, and it has not responded to treatments. Now, a researcher at the University of Missouri has found that Catatonia, a treatable disorder, may cause regression in patients with Down syndrome. Individuals with regressive Down syndrome who were treated for Catatonia showed improvement, the researcher found.

“Our findings are important for young people with Down syndrome, autism and probably other neurodevelopmental disorders,” said Judith Miles, professor emerita in the MU School of Medicine and researcher with the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. “Until recently, Catatonia was felt to be just a complication of schizophrenia; however, it now is known that Catatonia is a common neuropsychiatric disorder that complicates many types of brain disorders.

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Music As Medicine

“Biometric trackers are helping scientists tap into the body’s response to songs and sound,” suggesting there is a way to measure whether or not music can function as medicine, reports the Atlantic:

“Because you listened to Drake, how about Future next?”

Sinnliche Töne [Explored]

Photo: Tekke (CC)

 

Pandora, Spotify, and other music-streaming services try to predict what users might like to listen to, based on their tastes and what’s popular with people near them. People make playlists for certain moods and activities—going to the gym, going to bed. But imagine if those apps could predict exactly which song would be best to help you focus, or to slow your heart rate after a run. (“You seem stressed. How about Sigur Ros?”) And if technology could predict how music affects the body, could it suggest music to treat symptoms of a disease?

That idea is the basis of The Sync Project, a new company based in Boston.

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The Cult Of Healthy Eating Is More Religion Than Science

Horace Fletcher 1.jpg

Horace Fletcher, the “Great Masticator”

I confess, I’m kind of paranoid about processed foods, GMOs, red meat and all the other current bogeymen of the food world. I should probably relax a bit: Alan LevinovitzAssistant professor of philosophy and religion, James Madison University, claims at ​​Quartz that the whole cult of healthy eating is more religion than science:

…Time and time again, scientifically “proven” diets have proved false and foolish. At the turn of the 20th century, health guru Horace Fletcher popularized his theory of mastication, which argued that good health depended on a low-protein diet, chewed hundreds of times before swallowing. Obese at age forty, “the Great Masticator” told a compelling story of his own dramatic weight loss by means of mastication.

In addition to slimming down, he also became incredibly fit. To prove it, Fletcher submitted himself to tests of strength at Yale University, in which the 50-year-old supposedly bested college athletes.

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How Americans’ Views of McDonald’s Changed Over the Years

Mike Mozart (CC BY 2.0)

Mike Mozart (CC BY 2.0)

Francie Diep explores the ever-evolving public perception of McDonald’s at The Pacific Standard.

via The Pacific Standard:

One morning, you wake up, turn to your partner, and it’s like you don’t even know how they feel about you anymore.

After decades of enormous growth, McDonald’s has been on the decline recently, with same-store sales falling over the past five years, as the New York Times reported recently. America’s tastes have changed, a fact pointed out by many retail journalists. People are more concerned about wholesome, quality ingredients, and are therefore more likely to visit healthier-seeming chains, such as Chipotle.

As a look at the academic literature shows, this change has been a long time coming. Researchers have been bringing up worries about the influence of McDonald’s on business, culture, and health for at least 20 years. But it wasn’t until the last decade or so that the critiques really began to hit home, paving the way for Americans’ rejection of the Golden Arches.

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Nam’s Mission

137

Monday

4:15am:
I awake groggy from the weekend. And I want to call in sick. (ZzZzzzzzZZzzz.)

4:20am:
Ugh! I should work! (ZzzZZZzzz.)

4:25am:
Besides, the road might be a good distraction from my mental state. (ZZzzZZzzz.)

4:30am:
Okay! Okay! I’ll get up!

5:05am:
It’s a (now) rare foggy day in ‘ol San Francisco. I’m slogging up through the Citizen’s Cab lot and headed towards the office.

As I near, Sammy – the new office guy who’s taken over Kojak’s morning shift, passes me. He’s leaving the office with some new West African driver. They’re heading out to the lot … with a jump starter.

Note: Kojak has been moved to the afternoon office shift for some unknown reason. (Unknown to me, anyway.) This is how the cab biz works. Drivers, office workers; one day ya see ‘em. And the next, they’re gone.

Anyway, hmm.

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