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Intermittent fasting stimulates immune system and lowers cancer risk

Intermittent fasting stimulates immune system and lowers cancer risk | Food, Health and Nutrition |

Fasting for three days can regenerate the entire immune system, even in the elderly, scientists have found in a breakthrough described as “remarkable".


Scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) say the discovery could be particularly beneficial for those suffering from damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy. It could also help the elderly whose immune systems become less effective.


Although fasting diets have been criticized by nutritionists, research suggests that starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing more white blood cells, which fight off infection. Prolonged fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose and fat but also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells. During each cycle of fasting, this depletion induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of immune system cells.


In trials, volunteers were asked to fast regularly for between two and four days over a six-month period. Scientists found that prolonged fasting also reduced the enzyme PKA, which is linked to aging and a hormone which increases cancer risk and tumour growth.


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Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

A more sciency article on this topic was also scooped from


@PAT NOVAK also scooped a good infographic on intermittent fasting here:



Zdravko Mauko's comment, July 1, 2014 4:19 PM
Great for autoimmune disorders
Eric Chan Wei Chiang's comment, July 1, 2014 8:10 PM
@Ellen Diane if you scooped a related article of interest, you should post the URL here e.g.
Eric Chan Wei Chiang's comment, July 2, 2014 10:59 AM
@Ellen Diane, be that as it may, you are an excellent curator. How did you get so many views? I really have a lot to learn about content curation.
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A Message From The Curator

A Message From The Curator | Food, Health and Nutrition |

Food, Health and Nutrition covers a range of topics ranging from functional foods, health information and nutritional tips. I have always liked eating good food and most of my research is centered around phytochemistry i.e. the study of plant compounds with biological significance.


The cover photo highlights the following functional foods:
Red Wine


Green Tea


Please follow my topic and share my scoops if you found the curated articles interesting, and check out the popular tags listed in the post above. I also welcome suggested scoops related to this topic and give credit where credit is due.

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

I teach chemistry at UCSI University, Malaysia and most of my research is centered around phytochemistry.


My research interests can be viewed here:


I manage the Facebook and Google+ pages for the Faculty of Applied Sciences, UCSI University. Curated scoops are shared here:

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A purpose in life is linked to a longer lifespan

A purpose in life is linked to a longer lifespan | Food, Health and Nutrition |
Attaching a sense of meaning to your life can certainly make you happier, but a new study suggests that it could also help you to live longer.


We all want to experience a meaningful life sustained by a fulfilling career, strong relationships, and hobbies that make us happy, because by setting ourselves challenges and goals, we fill our lives with a sense of purpose. And now new research has suggested that not only is a meaningful life more satisfying, it’s also longer-lived.


A team of researchers from Princeton University and Stony Brook University in the US and University College London in the UK decided to investigate how a sense of purpose can affect a person's longevity. In doing so, they asked 9,050 English participants with an average age of 65 to fill out a questionnaire, evaluating their levels of ‘eudemonic wellbeing,’ which relates to the meaning and purpose of life. Based on their responses, the participants were divided into four categories ranked from the highest wellbeing to lowest wellbeing. 


After taking into account factors that could influence wellbeing, such as physical activity, depression, alcohol intake, and smoking, the team followed up with the participants eight and a half years later. The results, published in The Lancet, revealed that while 29 percent of the participants from the lowest wellbeing group had died since taking the questionnaire, the participants in the highest wellbeing group fared much better - just 9 percent of them had died since taking the questionnaire.


The results showed that participants in the highest wellbeing group were 30 percent less likely to die over the study period, living two years longer, on average, than those in the lowest wellbeing category.


Read more here:


The associated research article can be read here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

A very similar research article entitled "Purpose in Life as a Predictor of Mortality Across Adulthood" was published in the journal "Psychological Science" earlier this year. Read the scoop here:


More recently, a study found the first evidence to suggest that support groups that encourage meditation and yoga can actually prevent the shortening of telomeres; Telomeres are the caps at the ends of a chromosome that play an important role in cellular aging and diseases such as cancer.

SceneSoleil's curator insight, November 11, 2014 8:28 PM

"Attaching a sense of meaning to your life can certainly make you happier, but a new study suggests that it could also lengthen your life."

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4 Psychological Terms That You're Using Incorrectly

At some point, you’ve probably heard someone use any or all of these four words to describe someone. But there’s a really excellent chance that person had no idea what these terms mean. But SciShow is here to help clear up some of these definitions, and explain why the weather isn’t schizophrenic, and how your ex probably isn’t actually a psychopath.
Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Sherlock is not a sociopath. Overuse of such medical phrases often lead to indifference towards people who actually suffer from such disorders. Such disorders have been shown to decrease life expectancy more than smoking


Likewise, having a strong sense of purpose would add years to your life 

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Study suggests milk doesn't strengthen your bones - it ages you instead

Study suggests milk doesn't strengthen your bones - it ages you instead | Food, Health and Nutrition |
We’ve been brought up to think that drinking milk is good for our bones, but new research suggests that not only is this false, but the sugars in it may actually be accelerating the ageing process.


A research team from Uppsala University in Sweden has found that women who drink more than three glasses of milk per day were more likely to break their bones than women who drank less. 

This finding was part of a study conducted on more than 100,000 people in Sweden, based on how much diary they habitually consumed. The researchers monitored the diets of 61,400 women between 1987 and 1990 and 45,300 men through 1997 by asking them to fill out questionaries on how often they ate common dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yoghurt. The health of the female participants was monitored for 20 years after the questionnaires, and for 11 years afterwards for the males. 


Publishing their results in the BMJ, the team says that in women, high milk intake led to a greater risk of bone fracture, and in both men and women, it was associated with a higher mortality rate.


"Women who drank three or more glasses a day had twice the chance of dying at the end of the study than those who drank less than one glass a day,” lead researcher Karl Michaelsson, a professor in medical epidemiology at Uppsala University, told BBC News. "And those who had a high milk intake also had a 50 percent higher risk of hip fracture."


Interestingly, unlike milk, when the diary product was fermented, like in yoghurt, the results were reversed. The participants who consumed more yoghurt showed a decreased risk of experiencing bone fractures. Michaelsson told BBC News that the difference could be down to the sugars that are found in milk - lactose and galactose. Both have been shown to accelerate ageing processes such as inflammation and oxidative stress in previous research using animals.


Read more here:


The associated BMJ research article can be read here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Yogurt has been shown to be great for maintaining a healthy gut which in turn contributes to weight loss and better glucose tolerance


Read about other food myths here:

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Dementia breakthrough: Experts reveal two key ways to fight disease

Dementia breakthrough: Experts reveal two key ways to fight disease | Food, Health and Nutrition |
KEEPING the brain active and eating a healthy diet are the best ways to protect against dementia in old age, say experts.


Two breakthrough new studies have revealed that being good with words and eating just a handful of walnuts every day can help stave off the ravages of the brain disease. The simple tips mean that millions of people could protect themselves from Alzheimer's in old age by introducing the easy changes to their daily lives.


Proving the old adage "use it or lose it", a new study has shown that being good with words could help stave off ageing conditions including dementia. Experts have discovered that having a rich and varied vocabulary, just like TV personalities Stephen Fry and Will Self, protects against brain decline. As people get older, their brain's intelligence is put under strain. But researchers from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain have studied what factors can help to improve this ability and they conclude that having a higher level of vocabulary is one such factor.


"Cognitive reserve" is the name given to the brain's capacity to compensate for the loss of its functions. Cristina Lojo Seoane, co-author of the study published in the journal Annals of Psychology, said: "We focused on level of vocabulary as it is considered an indicator of crystallised intelligence - the use of previously acquired intellectual skills. he said:


"This led us to the conclusion that a higher level of vocabulary, as a measure of cognitive reserve, can protect against cognitive impairment."


A second study, from experts at New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities (IBR), revealed that eating a diet packed with a handful of walnuts every day can have a major impact on keeping dementia at bay.  The new research, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, found that potent ingredients in the popular nuts can have a beneficial effects in reducing the risk, delaying the onset, slowing the progression of, or preventing Alzheimer's.


Led by Dr Abha Chauhan, the study found significant improvement in learning skills, memory, reducing anxiety, and motor development in mice fed a walnut-enriched diet. The researchers believe that it is the high antioxidant content of walnuts which may protect the brain from the degeneration typically seen in Alzheimer's.


Read more here:


The associated research articles can be read here:


Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Exercise and Green Tea have also been shown to be effective in preventing dementia


Elderly suffering from dementia may not remember events but they do remember feelings


More scoops about Alzheimer's can be read here:


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The Secrets of Sleep

We delve into the secrets of sleep and find out why some people are night owls and others early risers.


Sleep is essential for resting our minds and bodies, and it's controlled by a mysterious phenomenon known as our internal body clock. This 'master clock' is located in the hypothalamus of our brains, and is established during the first months of our lives. It controls the timing of our nightly sleeps through the release of the chemical melatonin.

While most people's body clock runs roughly to a 24-hour cycle, melatonin release can peak anywhere from 9pm to 3am, depending on the individual. It's this difference in chemical release timing that sees some people become night owls, and other early risers.

Once we're asleep, our brains will cycle through different levels of consciousness, from deep sleep to rapid eye movement sleep (REM). REM sleep is the period throughout which we dream, and it's thought to be a crucial part of memory storage, and works like a recharger for the brain. Most people have four or five dreams every night, but we usually don't remember them.

Find out why people who don't get enough sleep are more likely to overeat, and what the longest recorded period without sleep is by watching the latest episode of RiAus's A Week in Science above.


Read more here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Intelligent and creative people are more likely to have problems sleeping because  when they lie quietly with their eyes closed, to relax, the enter a state of mind called "random episodic silent thought"


Research has shown that our brains can make decisions while we're sleeping


Some tips on how to fall asleep quicker at night have been scooped here:

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A capsule containing poo can treat chronic intestinal infections

A capsule containing poo can treat chronic intestinal infections | Food, Health and Nutrition |
Over the past year there’s been a lot of talk about the medical benefits of feacal transplants - and now scientists have found a way to give them orally.


A feacal transplant is a procedure in which poo from a healthy patient is implanted into the colon of an unhealthy patient. Unexpectedly, it's been shown to treat a range of intestinal illnesses and infections, but right now it's too expensive and uncomfortable to be used widely.


Officially known as feacal microbiota transplant (FMT), the poo is currently transplanted into the sick patient using a colonoscopy or by feeding a tube down from the nose to the colon - which, as you can imagine, isn't pleasant.


But now researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital in the US have managed to put frozen feacal matter into capsules that can be taken orally. And small-scale trials show these capsules have a similar 90 percent success rate against the potentially fatal bacteria Clostridium difficile bacteria as traditional poo transplants. 


"The use of capsules simplifies the procedure immensely, potentially making it accessible to a greater population," said Ilan Youngster, a co-author on the paper, in a press release.


C. difficile infection causes 250,000 hospitalisations and 14,000 deaths each year in the U.S. alone, and up to 30 percent of patients infected with it don't respond to antibiotics. Chronic infection can lead to debilitating digestive issues. 


In the past, feacal transplants have been shown to have a more than 90 percent success rate in treating these patients. This is because the poo also carries the gut bacteria from the health donor’s gut, and these microbial communities can fight off C. difficile infections within days.


The results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association

Read more here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Feacal transplants sounds like a quaky alternative therapy but it is accepted by mainstream medicine with proven benefits. The balance of our intestinal microbiota can be disrupted by what we eat potentially leading to glucose intolerance


Scientists have also developed a "spiky capsule" which allows vaccines, hormones and intravenous drugs to be administered orally These substances are broken down in the gastrointestinal tract and would normally have to be administered with an invasive injection.


Other scoops on probiotics can be read here:

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Antioxidant Found In Grapes Can Help Treat Acne

Antioxidant Found In Grapes Can Help Treat Acne | Food, Health and Nutrition |
Got grapes? UCLA researchers have demonstrated how resveratrol, an antioxidant derived from grapes and found in wine, works to inhibit growth of the bacteria that causes acne.


The team also found that combining resveratrol with a common acne medication, benzoyl peroxide, may enhance the drug’s ability to kill the bacteria and could translate into new treatments.


Early lab findings demonstrated that resveratrol and benzoyl peroxide attack the acne bacteria, called Propionibacterium acnes, in different ways.


Resveratrol is the same substance that has prompted some doctors to recommend that adults drink red wine for its heart-health properties. The antioxidant stops the formation of free radicals, which cause cell and tissue damage. Benzoyl peroxide is an oxidant that works by creating free radicals that kill the acne bacteria.


“We initially thought that since actions of the two compounds are opposing, the combination should cancel the other out, but they didn’t,” said Dr. Emma Taylor, the study’s first author and an assistant clinical professor of medicine in the division of dermatology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “This study demonstrates that combining an oxidant and an antioxidant may enhance each other and help sustain bacteria-fighting activity over a longer period of time.”


Read more here:


Their research article published in the journal Dermatology and Therapy can be read here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Studies on how different compound behave synergistically are uncommon. Fairly interesting synergy between two unlikely compounds. 


More functional food scoops here:

Kimboz Zappa Campisano's comment, September 16, 9:40 AM
Interesting! I would be glad to see how resveratrol impacts on grapevine's-inhabiting natural P. acnes populations
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Personality, Homework Behavior and Academic Performance

Personality, Homework Behavior and Academic Performance | Food, Health and Nutrition |

A study to be published in the upcoming issue of the journal Learning and Individual Differences explored the relation between personality and homework behavior. Yes, of course, procrastination is a key variable here, and personality does make a difference in students' homework behavior and academic achievement.


Although cognitive ability is the key predictor of grades and overall academic performance, personality also plays a role. The question that researchers explored in this study was how personality affects academic performance. Their basic hypothesis was that the effects of personality on academic performance are mediated by homework behavior. For example, someone who is not very conscientious in terms of personality (lacking a sense of self-discipline, orderliness and need for achievement) would be less likely to do his or her homework, and this would negatively affect grades. In fact, previous research indicates that the personality trait of conscientiousness is the strongest personality predictor of academic performance (as important as cognitive ability in terms of prediction), and it's also a strong predictor of success in the work place.


Researchers from the Groningen Institute for Educational Research at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands collected data from a large, nationally representative sample of students in the equivalent of U.S. Grade 7 and above (the base-year sample in this longitudinal data set consisted of 19,391 students drawn from 825 classes). In addition to end-of-year grades for language and mathematics, the researchers had data from students' self-reports on homework behavior and personality (Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Emotional Stability and Autonomy


What they found:

Personality predicted homework behavior. Students with different personalities learn in different ways, some of which are rewarded within secondary education and others not, and this partly determines why they perform at different levels. Procrastination was predicted most strongly by Conscientiousness


Read more here:


The associated research article can be read here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

In DISC terms, conscientiousness is the hallmark of those with an "S personality". However, most entrepreneurs and CEOs have a dominant "D personality".


Personality is to a certain extent hereditary. Personality traits and disorders are often shared by close family members


Therefore, our genes determine how well we do in school

Susan Walker-Meere's comment, October 19, 2014 3:36 PM
So, therefore, we can see that different personality types may 'rise to the top' in different situations. Thus, the possibility that the contemporary focus on scholastic success as a predictor of create thought, innovation and general success is misinformed?!
Eric Chan Wei Chiang's comment, October 20, 2014 6:41 AM
Hi @Susan Walker-Meere, I would agree, scholastic success owes quite a fair bit to conscientiousness and agreeableness. However, change agents who make things happen are quite often not conscientious or agreeable. There is no "correct" personality and success is often determined by how well you adapt to your own personality
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How to Deal with Panic Attacks?

How to Deal with Panic Attacks? | Food, Health and Nutrition |

Panic attacks and anxiety, although similar, but are different in some aspects. It’s because of these similarities that people tend to put the both in a single basket; however for a successful treatment it is good to differentiate the two and proceed from that knowledge.


People who suffer from panic attacks know that this intense feeling of fear comes out of nowhere; instead, people who suffer from a kind of anxiety have specific triggers for the tension. For example, people with social anxiety disorders are affected when they are in a social situation.

Panic attacks can leave you emotionally exhausted, thinking there is no way out of the nightmare. The sudden attacks of fear makes you feel helpless. However, thanks to the advancement of medicine and therapy, overcoming panic attacks is something possible.


The two main treatments used for panic attacks are medication and therapy, they are often combined to give the patient a full spectrum of ways to deal with the problem. The medicines used are antidepressants, prescribed and supervised by doctor and have been proved to be highly effective to control panic attacks.


When you start feeling the symptoms of a panic attack, there are a few things you can do. You can for instance do some physical activity like walking while trying to remain calm and relaxed. Doing regular exercise has helped some people reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.

If you think you have panic attacks but are not certain, the best idea is to talk to a professional. Through tests and questions you will be evaluated and the diagnose will be determined for treatment. Remember that both disorders are treatable and there is no need of suffering for a longer time.


Read more here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Some of the tips, such as exercise, keeping calm and relaxed are also useful for people going through a stressful period. Nonetheless, panic attacks are real and suffers should seek help.


People with above average intelligence are more prone to panic attacks as they readily form connections between disparate pieces of information


More scoops on psychology and psychiatry can be read here:

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Junk Food Craving Linked to Brain Lapse

Junk Food Craving Linked to Brain Lapse | Food, Health and Nutrition |
Reduced activity in the area that controls self-restraint can boost high-calorie cravings, study shows


The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex helps people control their own behavior, according to the study. Previous studies have shown that increasing activity in this part of the brain can cut cravings for unhealthy foods, but the new research found that reduced activity has the opposite effect and can lead to overindulgence in junk food.


"It has long been thought that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex helps to keep automatic, or knee-jerk, reactions in check," study senior author Peter Hall, from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, explained in a news release. "We discovered that when you temporarily dampen the operation of this particular part of the brain, strongly ingrained and quite universal preferences for high-calorie foods start to hijack people's thought patterns and even their eating patterns."


Using a form of magnetic stimulation of the brain, the researchers temporarily reduced activity in the left dorsolateral cortex of participants' brains. The study, published recently in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, revealed that the lowered activity caused greater food cravings for calorie-dense foods as well as greater intake of junk food.


"This is the first study to demonstrate that taking the prefrontal cortex temporarily offline results in increased snacking," study author Cassandra Lowe, doctoral student in the university's School of Public Health and Health Systems, said in a news release. The researchers concluded their findings suggest brain health should be an integral part of public health campaigns.


Read more here:


Read the associated research article here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

This study shows the part of the brain controlling food cravings. However, this does not mean that high high-calorie cravings are inevitable. Other study's have shown that it is possible to train our brain to prefer healthier foods; and our food choices can influence brain chemistry and cause depression

Read more scoops on the human brain here:

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Scientists can make your wine better with nanotechnology

Scientists can make your wine better with nanotechnology | Food, Health and Nutrition |
A team of scientists creates a "mini-mouth," a group of nanosensors that not only mimic the sensation of a wine's dryness in the mouth, but can also accurately measure it.


This technology could eventually benefit wine producers by allowing them to test this dryness earlier in the winemaking process. When grapes become wine, producers carefully control what happens to the grapes throughout the process. Something called astringency, or that dry sensation that wine creates in the mouth, is of particular importance to producers because it affects how a wine tastes to a drinker. The wine's tannins, which have a direct impact on the flavor of each individual wine, creates this sensation.


Currently, producers test for astringency much later in their winemaking process, by human tasters. However, the Aarhas University's "mini-mouth" allows for sensors to test for astringency earlier in production, even before the wine is ready for consumption.


"We don't want to replace the wine taster," says Joana Guerreiro, PhD, author of the study. "We just want a tool that is useful in wine production. When you produce wine, you know that the finished product should have a distinct taste with a certain level of astringency."

The mini-mouth not only simulates astringency, but also measures it. Astringency naturally occurs in the mouth when proteins there interact with molecules in the wine. When that happens, the proteins and molecules bind, creating the sensation of dryness that happens when we drink wine.


The sensor consists of gold nanoparticles on a small plate. Scientists add proteins found in saliva to the plate, and then they add wine. They focus a beam of light on the nanoparticles that allows them to see the proteins and the effect the wine has on them.


Read more here:


Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Good wine tasters are hard to come by. This technology would benefit small startup wine producers. 


More scoops on food processing and preparation can be read here:

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Changing global diets is vital to reducing climate change

Changing global diets is vital to reducing climate change | Food, Health and Nutrition |

A new study, published recently in Nature Climate Change, suggests that – if current trends continue – food production alone will reach, if not exceed, the global targets for total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2050.


The study’s authors say we should all think carefully about the food we choose and its environmental impact. A shift to healthier diets across the world is just one of a number of actions that need to be taken to avoid dangerous climate change and ensure there is enough food for all.


“Western diets are increasingly characterised by excessive consumption of food, including that of emission-intensive meat and dairy products. We tested a scenario where all countries were assumed to achieve an average balanced diet - without excessive consumption of sugars, fats, and meat products. This significantly reduced the pressures on the environment even further,” said the team.


As populations rise and global tastes shift towards meat-heavy Western diets, increasing agricultural yields will not meet projected food demands of what is expected to be 9.6 billion people - making it necessary to bring more land into cultivation. This will come at a high price, warn the authors, as the deforestation will increase carbon emissions as well as biodiversity loss, and increased livestock production will raise methane levels. They argue that current food demand trends must change through reducing waste and encouraging balanced diets.


If we maintain ‘business as usual’, say the authors, then by 2050 cropland will have expanded by 42% and fertiliser use increased sharply by 45% over 2009 levels. A further tenth of the world’s pristine tropical forests would disappear over the next 35 years.


The study shows that increased deforestation, fertilizer use and livestock methane emissions are likely to cause GHG from food production to increase by almost 80%. This will put emissions from food production alone roughly equal to the target greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 for the entire global economy.


Read more at:


Research article published in Nature Climate Change can be viewed here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Ensuring a diverse diet is not only healthy and good for the environment, it also ensures food security. Crop diversity is one way of ensuring resilience to climate change. Although changing global diets would be challenging, research has shown that we can train our brains to prefer a healthier range of food


Read more scoops on climate change and food security here:

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Short weight-lifting sessions can improve your memory

Here’s another reason why it’s a good idea to hit the gym: it can improve memory. A new Georgia Institute of Technology study shows that an intense workout of as little as 20 minutes can enhance episodic memory, also known as long-term memory for previous events, by about 10 percent in healthy young adults.


A study led by the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US has found that just one short burst of weight-lifting can enhance the long-term memory of young adults by around 10 percent. Previous research had already established the fact that exercise can improve memory, but many have focussed on regular sessions of aerobic exercise, such as running. 


This new research instead looked at the effect of just one weight-lifting session, two days before a memory test. And in contrast to previous studies, the researchers asked participants to memorise information before they worked out, rather than afterwards. This was in response to recent research in animals that suggests putting the body under stress in the period after learning can help lock in memories.


To learn more about this process in humans, the researchers tested 23 healthy young adults by asking them to monitor a series of 90 random photos, but not memorise them. Afterwards all the volunteers sat on a leg resistance exercise machine - half of them did no exercise, while the rest performed 50 leg presses at the heaviest weight they could lift. The scientists chose the leg press exercise as it's low impact and could be performed by those who are out of shape or unable to run.


Two days later, the participants were shown the original images along with 90 new ones, and those who had performed leg presses after first seeing them could remember 60 percent of the old photos, whereas the control group could only recall 50 percent. Their results are published in the journal Acta Psychologica.


“Our study indicates that people don’t have to dedicate large amounts of time to give their brain a boost,” said Lisa Weinberg, a graduate student and the Georgie Institute of Technology who led the project, in a press release.


Read more here:


The associated research article can be read here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Previously, Canadian scientists studied how regular aerobic exercise changes the brain to improve memory and thinking skills Learning a new language has also been shown to improve brain function


Pumping weights can also reduce the risk of diabetes; and a short 5-minute run per day could add years to your life


Other benefits of exercise can be viewed here:

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World-first evidence suggests that meditation alters cancer survivors’ cells

World-first evidence suggests that meditation alters cancer survivors’ cells | Food, Health and Nutrition |
For the first time, scientists have found clear biological evidence that meditation and support groups can affect us on a cellular level.


We’re often told that being happy, meditating and mindfulness can benefit our health. We all have that one friend of a friend who says they cured their terminal illness by quitting their job and taking up surfing - but until now there’s been very little scientific evidence to back up these claims.


Now researchers in Canada have found the first evidence to suggest that support groups that encourage meditation and yoga can actually alter the cellular activity of cancer survivors.


Their study, which was published in the journal Cancer last week, is one of the first to suggest that a mind-body connection really does exist. The team found that the telomeres - the protein caps at the end of our chromosomes that determine how quickly a cell ages - stayed the same length in cancer survivors who meditated or took part in support groups over a three-month period.


On the other hand, the telomeres of cancer survivors who didn’t participate in these groups shortened during the three-month study.

Scientists still don’t know for sure whether telomeres are involved in regulating disease, but there is early evidence that suggests shortened telomeres are associated with the likelihood of surviving several diseases, including breast cancer, as well as cellular ageing. And longer telomeres are generally thought to help protect us from disease.


"We already know that psychosocial interventions like mindfulness meditation will help you feel better mentally, but now for the first time we have evidence that they can also influence key aspects of your biology," said Linda E. Carlson, a psychosocial research and the lead investigator at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre,in a press release. She conducted the study alongside scientists from the University of Calgary.


Although this is pretty exciting research, it’s still not known whether these benefits will be long-term or what's causing this biological effect. Further research is now needed to find out whether these results are replicable across a larger number of participants, and what they mean for our health long-term.


Read more here:


Read the research article here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Refreshing news for practitioners of yoga and meditation. 


On a related note, two studies have linked lifespan with your overall sense of well being and purpose in life. These can be read here:

and here:


More scoops on regenerative medicine can be read here:

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World's first artificial cow's milk to hit the market next year

World's first artificial cow's milk to hit the market next year | Food, Health and Nutrition |
Bioengineers in the US are developing the world’s first artificial cow's milk made from genetically engineered yeast in an effort to put a more environmentally sustainable option on the market.


Earlier this year, a synthetic dairy start-up called Muufri (pronounced “Moo-free") was founded by two bioengineers in California - Perumal Gandhi and Ryan Pandya. They’re working on perfecting an artificial cow's milk made from a special variety of yeast that has been genetically engineered to produce milk proteins.


The vegan pair Gandhi and Pandya were inspired to invent the milk to reduce the need for overcrowded dairy barns where cows are fed a constant cocktail of growth hormones and antibiotics and have their tails docked and their horns removed. According to the the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, dairy production is responsible for 3 percent of the world’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.


Fortunately for them, synthesising cow's milk is a relatively simple process. It’s got less than 20 components, and consists of about 87 percent water. According to John Anderson at Gizmag, Muufri milk will contain six proteins to help form its structure, and eight different fatty acids to give it its rich flavour.

The milk is made using the same process that pharmaceutical companies use to produce insulin. DNA is extracted from dairy cows and certain sequences are inserted into yeast cells. The yeast culture is then grown in industrial-sized petri dishes at just the right temperature and concentrations, and within a few days, the yeast will have produced enough milk for harvesting.


While initially Muufri milk will be more expensive to buy than regular milk, Gandhi and Pandya hope to eventually make it cheaper as their production is scaled up. But because it won’t contain bacteria like regular milk does, the shelf-life will be much longer. The pair hopes to have their milk on the market by mid-next year.


Read more here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Really intriguing piece of technology similar to vegetarian meat patties developed by Stanford University


Artificial milk could also be a better alternative to cows milk if they formulate it with less sugar. Sugar in milk has been shown to accelerate aging and onset of osteoporosis

Institute for Responsible Nutrition's curator insight, November 3, 2014 10:59 AM

Really? Milk from genetically engineered yeast?

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Weight-Loss Superfood: 6 Tips for a Healthy Gut

Weight-Loss Superfood: 6 Tips for a Healthy Gut | Food, Health and Nutrition |

Over the years, I've noticed that clients who added a certain item to their diet seemed more likely to lose weight. And this happened even when their calorie intake remained the same. What is this superfood? It's nothing weird, and it's not a supplement — just a product that appears to go back to Neolithic times: yogurt. 


For years, I've wondered why this versatile food worked so well, and now, new scientific research is backing my observations. It turns out that the bacterial organisms in the digestive tract — about 100 million of them (10 times the number of human cells), collectively called the microbiome — are akin to a fully functioning organ, and can have a positive or negative effect on human health. 


At a U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) conference entitled "The Human Microbiome: Implications for Nutrition and Clinical Practice," held in March in Bethesda, Md., Cindy Davis of the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health, shared some of the findings. "The microbiome is influenced by several dietary components," she said. One of which is yogurt. 


Why is this? Yogurt contains a class of bacteria called probiotics that "remain alive during processing and shelf life, survive digestion and then cause health benefits," said Jo Ann Hattner, a registered dietitian, consultant at the Stanford University School of Medicine and co-author of "Gut Insight." She added that together with certain foods known as prebiotics, probiotics create a symbiotic relationship that profoundly benefit your microbiome and your health. 


"Prebiotics are nondigestible, fermentable carbohydrates that stimulate and promote activity of beneficial gut bacteria," Hattner co-wrote in a recent issue of San Francisco Medicine, a publication of the San Francisco Medical Society. "Prebiotics are the booster substance for probiotics. As the beneficial gut microbes increase in number, pathogenic bacteria —such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli — decrease.""Ingesting prebiotics is a practical way of manipulating the microbiota, since they support and increase the beneficial bacteria population in the gut," Hattner added. "Together, probiotics and prebiotics are an important duo. In addition, prebiotic fibers are components of the healthiest foods on the planet — natural plant foods."


To achieve maximum benefit, you need both kinds of food: probiotics and prebiotics, and new research is finding the health benefits may be vast. 


6 Tips for a Healthy Microbiome


1. Eat probiotics 

2. Eat prebiotics

3. Use artificial sweeteners with caution

4. Eat less meat

5. Breastfeed 

6. Don't count on probiotic pills or supplements


Read more here:


The associated research article can be read here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

More and more research is linking the gut intentinal microflora with obesity, insulin resistance and even cancer. 


Vanderbilt University researchers are experimenting with biofortified probiotics to help prevent obesity and insulin resistance.


More scoops on probiotics and prebiotics can be read here:

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The more you work, the fatter you get

The more you work, the fatter you get | Food, Health and Nutrition |
What about the effect of working hours on your weight? A new paper, written by Joelle Abramowitz, an economist at the US Census Bureau, has some startling results. She starts out by showing a simple graph. Those who work longer tend to be bigger


That graph is interesting, but doesn’t quite cut the mustard. After all, there may be other factors at play that mean that hardworking people tend to be overweight—one may not cause the other. Workaholic bankers who can afford to entertain clients in Michelin-starred restaurants are prone to pile on the pounds.


So Ms Abramowitz uses regressions, which allows her to control for a variety of other factors, like income. Her results have a few surprises: those with a college degree are likely to be slimmer. Rather depressingly, marriage results in women getting thinner, but men fatter.


She shows that for workers in "non-strenuous" jobs—things like secretarial work and accountancy—ten additional hours spent working per week are associated with an increase in body-mass index of 0.4 for women and 0.2 for men. That translates, on average, into an increase of 2.5 pounds and 1.4 pounds respectively. Unsurprisingly, for those whose jobs require a bit of physical exertion, the effect no longer holds.


So why do long hours result in weight gain? 


Read more and view the statistics here:


The research article can be read here:



Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

A sedentary lifestyle would make you fat and sitting down for long periods in particular has been associated with various health hazards However, short five minutes walks has been shown to reverese the damage done by sitting


Research has also shown that fewer hours may actually improve productivity and that multitasking may actually be bad for your brain and career



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Our brains have an internal calorie counter, research suggests

Our brains have an internal calorie counter, research suggests | Food, Health and Nutrition |
A new neuroimaging study suggests that our brain evaluates food based on caloric density, even when we're not conscious of how many calories something contains, which is perhaps why many of us prefer junk food.


Researchers from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital of McGill University in the US, have discovered that our brain subconsciously makes decisions on what food to eat based on the food’s calorie content. The findings which are published in the journal Psychological Science, could explain why many people choose high calorie foods.


"Earlier studies found that children and adults tend to choose high-calorie food" said Alain Dagher, neurologist and lead author of the study, in a press release. "The easy availability and low cost of high-calorie food has been blamed for the rise in obesity. Their consumption is largely governed by the anticipated effects of these foods, which are likely learned through experience.”


The study involved a group of participants who were asked to rate pictures of familiar foods based on which they would like to consume. They were then asked to estimate the calorie content of each food item. Observations showed that the participants preferred high caloric food, even though they were not able to accurately indicate the calorie content.


The team also performed brain scans on the participants while they were evaluating the food images which supported the observations. The scan results showed that activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex - an area of the brain that is involved in decision making - was correlated with the foods’ caloric content. While the participants were rating the foods, there was increased activity in the insular cortex - a part of the brain that is involved in processing the sensory properties of food.

“Our study sought to determine how people's awareness of caloric content influenced the brain areas known to be implicated in evaluating food options. We found that brain activity tracked the true caloric content of foods,” said Dagher. 

Read more here:

The associated research article can be read here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

The ability of our brains to evaluate the calorific content of food is tied very closely to hunger. Cutting calories would make us hungry and eat more in the long run Therefore, it is important that we choose foods with a decent calorific content but a low glyceamic index so that our bodies do not metabolize all the carbohydrates at one go ;


Similarly, artificial sweeteners throws off our brain's ability to monitor calories and has been linked to glucose intolerance ;


On the plus side, research has shown that it is possible to train our brains to prefer healthy foods Read more scoops on the human brain here:

Elena Ceciu's curator insight, October 23, 2014 5:10 AM

”Un nou studiu neuroimagistic sugereaza ca creierul nostru evalueaza alimentele in functie de densitatea lor calorica, chiar si atunci cand nu suntem constienti de cate calorii contine ceva, si poate de aceea multi dintre noi preferam junk food.”

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This new veggie burger which looks just like meat

This new veggie burger which looks just like meat | Food, Health and Nutrition |
Here’s one for all those vegetarians out there who sometimes just really feel like a good ol’ hamburger - a veggie burger complete with what looks like a perfectly cooked, medium rare beef patty.


The burger is the brainchild of biochemistry professor Patrick Brown from Stanford University in the US, and it’s now being manufactured by his food company, Impossible Foods. The secret ingredient is called heme, or ‘plant blood’, which is an organic molecule found in the protein leghemoglobin - the plant version of haemoglobin.

Which is all very efficient and clever, but what’s particularly relevant to Brown in this scenario is the fact that each heme molecule with the leghemoglobin protein is arranged in a circle, and in the middle of that circle sits an iron atom. This gives the heme molecules oxygen-attracting qualities - just like the haemoglobin in our blood - and when the heme and oxygen molecules bind together, they change colours, becoming noticeably redder. 

Heme also creates flavours not unlike the ones we taste in meat when it's exposed to sugars and amino acids. So what Brown had to do was come up with the perfect formula for his veggie patties using heme and a variety of different plant-based compounds to not only replicate the flavour of meat, but also the textures of animal fat, muscle fibre, and tissue.

Read more here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Looks really tasty. Would be interesting to see how vegans and vegetarians react to this new meat patty. Most vegans would have to get over the "yuck" factor associated with meat. 


Changing global diets is vital to reducing climate change This new burger makes it easier to reduce our meat intake.

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A compound found in turmeric encourages brain repair

A compound found in turmeric encourages brain repair | Food, Health and Nutrition |
Scientists have discovered that a common curry spice encourages the growth of neural stem cells in rats, and could help the brain heal itself.


New research suggests that aromatic-tumerone, a compound found in the spice turmeric, could be used to create future drugs to treat patients with neural impairment, such as sufferers of strokes and Alzheimer’s disease.


Scientists from the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine at the Research Centre Juelich in Germany studied the impact that aromatic-tumerone has on neural cells by injecting the compound into the brains of rats. Scans revealed that, after being injected with the compound, the regions of the brain involved in nerve cell growth were more active. 


The researchers also tested the impact of the compound directly on neural stem cells, which are cells that have the ability to transform into any type of brain cell and, in theory, should be able to repair damage or disease. But in humans and other mammals this process doesn’t seem to work so well.


"In humans and higher developed animals their abilities do not seem to be sufficient to repair the brain but in fish and smaller animals they seem to work well,” Maria Adele Rueger, a neuroscientist who was part of the research team, told Smitha Mundasad from BBC News.


The turmeric compound also sped up the differentiation of the stem cells. The results are published in the journal Stem Cell Research and Therapy


Read more here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

My PhD research was on the bioactive properties of gingers and I find this study rather interesting. I did not work on stem cells and I focused more on the Etlingera genus but turmeric is interesting nonetheless.


Read more scoops on functional foods and regenerative medicine here:


Susan Walker-Meere's curator insight, October 19, 2014 3:32 PM

Using ethnological knowledge, one would think that simmering it in oil like curries are prepared or making it bio-available during a fermentation process like in a kimchi, or adding to a secondary kefir ferment would make it more efficacious.

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Granny Smith apples can help prevent the damage of obesity

Granny Smith apples can help prevent the damage of obesity | Food, Health and Nutrition |
Research has revealed that apples contain compounds that can help prevent disorders associated with obesity, and Granny Smiths are the best for you.


Scientists from Washington State University in the US discovered that non-digestible compounds found in apples can help fight disorders associated with obesity - and that Granny Smiths contain the most.


The research revealed that the sour, green Granny Smith apples promote the growth of good bacteria in the colon, due to their high content of non-digestible compounds, including dietary fibre and polyphenols, and a low amount of available carbohydrates.

This means that, despite being chewed and subjected to stomach enzymes, these compounds are still intact when they reach the colon, where they are fermented by bacteria to benefit the growth of friendly bacteria colonies.


Scientists now understand that many people with obesity have an imbalance in the bacterial communities in their colon, and this can lead to inflammation and trigger disorders such as diabetes. The non-digestible compounds in apples can help to restore this balance and prevent some of the damage of obesity.


This is the first study to show the difference between certain apple varieties, and is published in the journal Food Chemistry:

Read more here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

The gut bacteria which trigger diabetes associated disorders also vary with gender. Read the scoop here:

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Kids' Lunch Boxes Often Fall Short on Nutrition

Kids' Lunch Boxes Often Fall Short on Nutrition | Food, Health and Nutrition |

There are many benefits of packing a lunch for your child. In most cases, you save money and gain the peace of mind of knowing that your kids aren't left to their own devices in the lunch line (french fries and apple pie, anyone?).


But are you giving your kids the best meal they could eat? It turns out that the brown-bag lunches we make may be less nutritious than we think they are, according to a study published last month in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


The study showed that most home-packed lunches flunked when they were graded based on the criteria set by the National School Lunch Program. This organization requires that school lunches contain servings from all five major food groups: fruit, veggies, grains, protein and dairy. But when researchers studied lunches from over 600 third and fourth graders, the results showed that none of the home-packed lunches contained servings from all of the food groups. None.


In fact, only 27% of the lunches contained three or more food groups. The typical lunch contained a sandwich, chips and water. Sugar-sweetened beverages were a close second beverage choice. Milk, an excellent source of calcium, was missing from most lunches. It could be an oversight, personal preference or lactose intolerance that is causing this issue, but milk seems to be an unpopular choice.


Read more here:


The associated research article can be read here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Many parents may be reluctant to trust their kids nutrition to a school cafeteria. However, planning and preparing a nutritious lunch is not an easy task. This is especially true for working parents.


In particular, preference for high calorie foods may prove to be a difficult habit to kick


More scoops on health and nutrition can be read here:

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Bio-reactive food expiry label could cut food waste

Bio-reactive food expiry label could cut food waste | Food, Health and Nutrition |
Researchers have created a use-by-date label that decays as the same rate of food, in order to drastically reduce unnecessary food waste.


Known as the Bump Mark label, this new bio-reactive expiry date is made from gelatine, a protein that reacts to environmental conditions such as temperature and light - and anything else that affects food.


Developed by Sloveiga Pakstaite from Brunel University in London, the label has been named the UK winner of the James Dyson Award for innovatively tackling the global problem of food waste.


Each year the UN estimates that seven MILLION tonnes of food is wasted in the UK alone, often because it’s passed its marked use by date. However, much of this food would still be fine for consumption.


But the Bump Mark, because it contains an edible substance, can actually work out when something is no longer safe to eat. "Gelatine sets solid but it has this property that when it is fully expired it loses its structure,” Pakstaite told the International Business Times UK.


The design works by placing gelatine on top of a textured plastic sheet - and when food goes off, the label will feel bumpy instead of smooth. This means it would also help people who are visually impaired to find out if what they were about to eat had gone off.


Read more here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Recently, scientists have also developed an active packing method which keeps bread mold free

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Artificial sweeteners linked to glucose intolerance

Artificial sweeteners linked to glucose intolerance | Food, Health and Nutrition |

ARTIFICIAL sweeteners can cause glucose intolerance in mice, and perhaps in humans, by altering gut bacteria, a series of experiments suggests. Although artificial sweeteners – among the world's most widely used food additives – are approved by most food regulation agencies as safe for humans, the researchers who led the work suggest that their use should be reassessed. 


"The most shocking result is that the use of sweeteners aimed at preventing diabetes might actually be contributing to and possibly driving the epidemic that it aims to prevent," says Eran Elinav at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, who co-supervised the work with his colleague Eran Segal.

Non-caloric artificial sweeteners are synthetic alternatives to sugar that can taste up to 20,000 times sweeter. They provide no calories because we cannot digest them. They are found in many common foods such as diet sodas, cereals and sugar-free desserts, and often form part of recommended diets for people with type 2 diabetes.

Nevertheless, Segal and Elinav were concerned that some studies have shown a link between the use of sweeteners and a tendency towards weight gain and diabetes. To probe for a causal link, their teams carried out a series of experiments. They began by adding one of three commonly used sweeteners – saccharin, sucralose or aspartame – to the drinking water of healthy young mice. The dose of sweetener was the equivalent to the maximum acceptable daily intake in humans, as set by the FDA. The mice drinking sweeteners – which are made up of 5 per cent active ingredient and the rest glucose – were compared with mice drinking plain water or water supplemented only with glucose.

After 11 weeks, the researchers tested all the rodents' glucose tolerance by giving them a high-glucose drink and taking regular blood samples. Under normal conditions, the blood tests should show an initial spike in glucose, followed by a decline as the body secretes the insulin in response. Insulin instructs cells to use the extra glucose for energy or turn it into fat. Glucose intolerance occurs when this process becomes inefficient, and is strongly associated with type 2 diabetes.

A second test, with saccharin, confirmed this. Wiping out the rodents' gut bacteria using antibiotics abolished all the effects of glucose intolerance in the mice. In other words, no bacteria, no problem regulating glucose levels. Further experiments supported this conclusion. For example, when the researchers transferred the gut bacteria of mice who had consumed saccharin into mice whose guts were bacteria-free, it caused these previously healthy mice to become glucose intolerant. Similar transplants from mice drinking glucose-enriched water had no negative effects on health.

Read more here:

These findings published in Nature along with associated research articles can be read here:

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Our intestinal biota varies according to what we eat. Even gender differences affect the composition of our gut bacteria

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Talent vs Training

Which is more important - genetics or hard work?

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Even with regular workout sessions, I find it difficult to lose weight. Likely, I am considered one of the "low responders" as described in the video. A more humorous take on nature vs nurture scooped here:


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