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Keeping you abreast of healthy lifestyle Cuisine, Medicine and Cutting Edge Discoveries.

The Pentagon Wants to Make an Army of Virus-Spreading Insects. Scientists Are Concerned.

Insect_Spreading_Viruses

Source-Live Science - By Brandon Specktor, Senior Writer

Can a task force of insects carrying genetically modified viruses save America's farms — or are they an uncontrollable bioweapon in the making?

This is the debate swirling around a controversial new Pentagon research project called "Insect Allies." Funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the project involves using gene-editing techniques like CRISPR to infect insects with modified viruses that could help make America's crops more resilient. If a cornfield were hit by an unexpected drought or suddenly exposed to a pathogen, for example, Insect Allies might deploy an army of aphids carrying a genetically modified virus to slow the corn plant's growth rate.

According to the DARPA website, these "targeted therapies" could take effect in a single growing season, potentially protecting the American crop system from food security threats like disease, flooding, frost and even "threats introduced by state or non-state actors." [Biomimicry: 7 Clever Technologies Inspired by Nature]

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Southern Diet Blamed For High Rates Of Hypertension Among Black Americans

Southern-Diet

Barbecued pork or fried chicken served with a heaping side of mac and cheese or creamy potato salad, sweet tea and peach cobbler — these Southern classics, loaded with as much history as flavor, have become comfort foods for Americans from all over.

But a study published Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Associationsuggests that Southern cuisine isn't serving African-Americans, whose ancestors imagined and perfected it, very well. The Southern diet may be at the center of a tangled web of reasons why black people in America are more prone to hypertension than white people.

Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham crunched data collected from nearly 7,000 men and women older than 45 living across the U.S. — not just in the South — over the course of a decade. Their goal: to figure out why black Americans are at greater risk for high blood pressure.

Over the course of the study, 46 percent of black participants and 33 percent of white participants developed hypertension — and diet seemed to explain much of the disparity.

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1 big thing: How hospitals protect high prices

medical-bill

Large hospital systems don’t command high prices just because patients like them, or just because they have strong market share. There's also another big reason: their contracts with insurance companies actively prohibit the sort of competitive pressures a free market is supposed to support.

“The free market has been distorted in an unhealthy way,” health care consultant Stuart Piltch told the Wall Street Journal’s Anna Wilde Mathews for this deep dive into hospitals’ pricing practices.

How it works: Hospital systems are consolidating rapidly and buying up physicians’ practices (which charge higher prices once they’re part of a hospital).

On top of that, per WSJ: Hospitals’ deals with insurance companies “use an array of secret contract terms to protect their turf and block efforts to curb health-care costs.”

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Are millennials killing mayonnaise?

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50 Less Sugar
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Authentic Roots
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Source - CPG Insights

If so, good for us. (Note: opinions here vary.)But it's likely a broader trend, as US mayonnaise sales have fallen 6.7% over the past 5 years, and more natural, spicier, plant-based sauces have grabbed market share. Mayonnaise is still the top-selling condiment in America. But it's under threat from:

Declining brand loyalty, which is hitting condiments particularly hardNew flavor preferences and the rise of dairy-free, paleo, and other dietary trendsIncumbents' slow pace of innovation (see: mayochup)

Condiment makers can strike back by focusing on:

Wellness-focused branding. Consumers today tend to favor products that promise added benefits, rather than those that highlight what's left out (e.g. "added probiotics" vs. "fat-free"). Similarly, condiment brands could target shoppers by adding more than just flavor. New olive oil startup Brightland, for example, focuses on health and beauty benefits. It emphasizes outcomes, not just ingredients, as we've discussed in more depth here. 

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To Help The Body Fight Chronic Disease, Scientists Learn To Decode Brain Signals

Brain

Source: Futurism

Even when you’re asleep, your brain is on. It’s constantly communicating with every part of your body, sending electrical impulses and specific chemicals throughout your muscles and organs to keep everything running smoothly. We know some of the basics of how this works, but to be honest, most of it is still pretty mysterious.

Now researchers have taken a big step towards understanding the “language” of the brain — they identified how two types of compounds called cytokines interact with the nervous system, according to a study published Monday in the journal PNAS.

Cytokines are critical to our immune systems — they are the signals that the body when to attack a potential threat, and when to back off. These two cytokines in particular, IL-1β and TNF, specifically tell the brain to trigger inflammation. The researchers experimented on the vagus nerves of mice, which connect their brains to many of their bodies’ vital organs including the heart, lungs, and gastrointestinal tracts. They hope that down the road, findings like these can help hijack the brain’s natural tools to treat chronic disease.

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Cleaning product toxins found in crops

Pepper Jalapeno peppers: rich in flavour, heat, colour and, um, endocrine disrupting remnants of personal care products. CASARSA GURU / GETTY IMAGES

Source: Cosmos Magazine - ANDREW MASTERSON is news editor of Cosmos.

It’s all a matter of language, in the end. Take toiletries: what the manufacturers might term “personal care products”, scientists such as Khang Huynh of the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at Michigan State University, US, could call “emerging organic contaminants”.

At issue for Huynh, who with colleagues has written a paper in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, is the use of antibacterials in household cleaning and home hygiene products.

In particular, the team has looked at an antimicrobial compound known as triclocarban (TCC). The compound was recently banned in the US an ingredient in soaps, but remains widely used in other care products. TCC has been shown to be present in hefty quantities in treated wastewater, much of which is used to irrigate crops.

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Young, hive-bound bees befuddled by common chemicals

Bee_Hive Young worker bees exposed to neonicotinoids and glyphosate suffered an impaired sense of taste and damage to their memories. Credit -JESUS INES / EYEEM

Source: Cosmos Magazine

Even bees that never leave the hive can be exposed to insecticides and herbicides that affect their sense of taste and reduce their ability to learn.                                                                      Tanya Loos reports.

Hive-bound young honey bees (Apis mellifera) are being poisoned by insecticide and weed killer gathered by their foraging hive mates, according to new research published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. The chemicals cause brain damage in young worker bees, affecting both their ability to taste and to learn, placing the future of the colony at risk.

Recent research in Europe and the USA has demonstrated that insecticides known as neonicotinoids have a substantial impact on honey bee health. Glyphosate, a commonly used herbicide, has also been shown to have effects on non-target species such as bees. In agricultural landscapes it is expected that honey bees would be exposed to both of these agrochemicals.

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How Medical Marijuana Could Help Curb the Opioid Epidemic

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Source: Live Science

Rates of opioid prescriptions went down in states that implemented laws allowing access to medical marijuana, according to two studies published today (April 2) in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The findings suggest that access to medical marijuana may have cut patients' need for opioids to manage their pain, the researchers said.

"There has been substantive evidence that marijuana can relieve pain at a lower risk of addiction than opioids and with virtually no risk of overdose," said lead study author Hefei Wen, an assistant professor of health management and policy at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health in Lexington, Kentucky. "The potential for marijuana policies to reduce the use of addictive opioids deserves consideration, especially in states that have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic." [25 Odd Facts About Marijuana]

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MIT Just Cut Ties with Nectome, the '100-Percent-Fatal' Brain-Preserving Company

Brain_MIT

Source: Live Science

MIT announced today (April 2) that it has severed a subcontract with Nectome, a company that says it will preserve the brains of dying people in order to revive them in the future.

MIT's announcement stated that it is cutting off a subcontract that involved the university in Nectome's grant-funded research through MIT neuroscientist Ed Boyden's lab. Nectome has received more than $915,000 in grant funding from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Live Science reported on the company's "100-percent-fatal" brain-preserving service in March. Neuroscientists Live Science interviewed at the time were deeply skeptical, saying that there is no reason to believe the deadly service would actually make it possible to revive a person in the future. [Top 10 Weird Ways We Deal with the Dead]

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Herbalife Nutrition Clubs

nutrition-club

This is how people find support in their communities to help them achieve their goals.

Herbalife Nutrition Clubs are at the heart of how Herbalife helps people change their lives and their communities. They provide customers with the best nutrition and weight-management products in the world to help them pursue a healthy, active life.

Herbalife Nutrition Clubs are also a supportive community of caring people who will encourage you along your health journey and support your weight and fitness goals.

In this video, you’ll see frequent customers of Herbalife Nutrition Clubs talk about their experiences. Herbalife Nutrition Clubs aren’t retail stores, cafes, or shake shops; they’re actual clubs — social gathering spaces that people come to after being invited by a Herbalife member or customer.

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Citi predicts a big rally for Herbalife now that risk of Ackman bashing is over

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Source: Tae Kim | @firstadopter - CNBC

Citi Research raises its rating to buy from neutral for Herbalife shares, citing the company's attractive valuation versus the market.We "expect Ackman's exit may mean that some investors give Herbalife a new look as headline risk has dissipated, we contend that Herbalife should trade at a 10% premium to the market," the firm says in a note.Pershing Square's Bill Ackman told CNBC on Feb. 28 he exited his losing bet against Herbalife, five years after his on-air verbal brawl with Carl Icahn over the company.

Herbalife shares will rise because investors can now focus on the nutritional supplement maker's growth prospects rather than on negative headlines, according to one Wall Street firm.

Pershing Square's Bill Ackman told CNBC on Feb. 28 he exited his losing bet against Herbalife, five years after his on-air verbal brawl with Carl Icahn over the company. Icahn said the following day he made a billion dollar paper profit on his investment in the company.

Citi Research raised its rating to buy from neutral for Herbalife shares, citing the company's attractive valuation versus the market.

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Herbalife Family Foundation Raises $1.8 Million to Support the Nutrition Needs of Underserved Children Around the World.

HFF_LegacyGift

With a mission to positively impact the lives of children through nutrition and education, along with Herbalife’s purpose to making the world healthier and happier, the Herbalife Family Foundation (HFF) recently announced it raised $1.8 million at its annual Gala fundraiser to support more than 130 nonprofit partners in 50 countries around the world.

Through its “Casa Herbalife” program, HFF commits ongoing support to its charity partners, which include orphanages, community centers and hospitals, to help them improve children’s lives by providing healthy nutrition.

“Thanks to the generosity of Herbalife’s independent distributors and employees, the Herbalife Family Foundation will provide vital nutrition and support services to children who need it the most around the world,” said HFF President Alan Hoffman.

The Casa Herbalife Program, established in 2005, currently serves more than 100,000 children at over 130 organizations in more than 50 countries, helping provide healthy and nutritious meals to children in orphanages, after school centers, and other nonprofit facilities around the world. HFF’s work continues to expand in 2018, with the addition of three new Casa Herbalife partners located in Austria, Switzerland and Ghana.

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23 health benefits of marijuana

Jordan Michelle vapes a CBD oil made from hemp at the Cannabis World Congress Conference. Spencer Platt/Getty

Source: Business Insider

States around the country — 29 of them, plus Washington DC — have legalized medical marijuana.

The American public largely supports the legalization of medical marijuana. At least 84% of the public believes the drug should be legal for medical uses, and recreational pot usage is less controversial than ever, with at least 61% of Americans in support.

Even though some medical benefits of smoking pot may be overstated by advocates of marijuana legalization, recent research has demonstrated that there are legitimate medical uses for marijuana and strong reasons to continue studying the drug's medicinal uses.

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EAT LESS - LIVE LONGER, LIVE BETTER

East-Less

By - Dr. Tony Vendryes

A major function of food is to provide us with energy. The energy we get from the food we eat is expressed in units called calories and different foods have different caloric values. While proteins and carbohydrates supply 4 calories per gm, fats provide over twice that amount, 9 calories per gm. So, the number of calories you consume depends not only on how much food, but also on the type of food that you consume.  Although not a food, alcohol provides an impressive 7 calories per gram.

The common custom of overconsumption of food and calories has dire consequences to health even among those who seem healthy. Simply eating and drinking too much can damage or even kill you. Medical research shows that it results in a much greater risk of developing common disorders like diabetes, hypertension, lipid (cholesterol and triglycerides) disorders, heart disease and strokes.

Calorie Restriction (CR)

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The Quorn revolution: the rise of ultra-processed fake meat

Quorn-mince

Source: The Guardian Newspaper

It was reported last week that Quorn is on course to become a billion-dollar business. It is part of a booming industry of meat alternatives – but many of these products are a far cry from the idea of a natural, plant-based diet

What exactly is Quorn? I have been asked that question regularly for more than 30 years. This may be a reflection of the general population’s scientific illiteracy, but most people remain hazy about the composition of Quorn – even those who eat it regularly. However, many of us are prepared to accept this understanding gap because Quorn seems to be on the right side of the prevailing food paradigm, which holds that eating meat, fish, dairy and eggs is a redneck habit that has had its day, one that amounts to propagating cruelty and environmental ruin and will lead to dire consequences for human health. On the other hand, “plant food” – an appealing neologism for vegetarian and vegan that owes its intellectual heft to US food writer Michael Pollan’s maxim “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” – is riding high on a wave of moral purity and an extravagant “feed the world and save the planet” promise.

The short explanation is that Quorn is a “mycoprotein” fermented in vats from a fungus found in soil. A fuller – but still heavily truncated – one is that it is made from a strain of the soil mould Fusarium venenatum by fermenting it, then adding glucose, fixed nitrogen, vitamins and minerals and heat-treating it to remove excess levels of ribonucleic acid. (In other words, it is a long way from what the phrase “plant food” may seem to denote.)

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The Apple Watch can detect diabetes with an 85% accuracy, Cardiogram study says

apple-watch-newsletter

According to Cardiogram founder Brandon Ballinger’s latest clinical study, the Apple Watch can detect diabetes in those previously diagnosed with the disease with an 85 percent accuracy.

The study is part of the larger DeepHeart study with Cardiogram and UCSF. This particular study used data from 14,000 Apple Watch users and was able to detect that 462 of them had diabetes by using the Watch’s heart rate sensor, the same type of sensor other fitness bands using Android Wear also integrate into their systems.

In 2015, the Framingham Heart Study showed that resting heart rate and heart rate variability significantly predicted incident diabetes and hypertension. This led to the impetus to use the Watch’s heart rate sensor to see if it could accurately detect a diabetic patient.

Previously, Ballinger and his colleagues were able to use Apple’s Watch to detect an abnormal heart rhythm with up to a 97 percent accuracy, sleep apnea with a 90 percent accuracy and hypertension with an 82 percent accuracy when paired with Cardiogram’s AI-based algorithm. Most of these discoveries have been published in clinical journals or abstracts and Ballinger intends to publish the latest findings shortly after presenting at the AAAI 2018 conference this week.

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THE FUTURE OF WEED SCIENCE IS A VAN IN COLORADO

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Source: Wired

YOU ENTER THE University of Colorado Boulder's newest research laboratory through the side entrance. The door—which is heavy and white, with a black, jug-style handle—slides open from right to left. Crammed inside are a plain wooden dresser, two chairs, and a small desk, above which someone has taped a mediocre landscape-print (mountains, trees, clouds, etc.). A kaleidoscopic purple tapestry hangs from the far wall. The ceiling slings so low that it forces some visitors to duck, and the flooring is made of wood. Well, wood laminate.

The modest setup occupies just a few dozen square feet of space—a tight but necessary fit, given that CU Boulder's newest research laboratory is located not in a building on the university's campus, but the back of a Ram ProMaster cargo van.

The lab is mobile because it has to be. Researchers at CU Boulder’s Change Lab built it to study marijuana’s effects on human test subjects. But even in states like Colorado, where recreational marijuana has been legal since 2014, federal law prohibits scientists from experimenting with anything but government-grown pot.

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30 years after Prozac arrived, we still buy the lie that chemical imbalances cause depression

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WRITTEN BY: Olivia Goldhill - QZ.Com 

Some 2,000 years ago, the Ancient Greek scholar Hippocrates argued that all ailments, including mental illnesses such as melancholia, could be explained by imbalances in the four bodily fluids, or “humors.” Today, most of us like to think we know better: Depression—our term for melancholia—is caused by an imbalance, sure, but a chemical imbalance, in the brain.

This explanation, widely cited as empirical truth, is false. It was once a tentatively-posed hypothesis in the sciences, but no evidence for it has been found, and so it has been discarded by physicians and researchers. Yet the idea of chemical imbalances has remained stubbornly embedded in the public understanding of depression.

Prozac, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration 30 years ago today, on Dec. 29, 1987, marked the first in a wave of widely prescribed antidepressants that built on and capitalized off this theory. No wonder: Taking a drug to tweak the biological chemical imbalances in the brain makes intuitive sense. But depression isn’t caused by a chemical imbalance, we don’t know how Prozac works, and we don’t even know for sure if it’s an effective treatment for the majority of people with depression.

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Pesto sauces - More salt than McDonald's burger

pestojar

Source: BBC

The salt content in some pesto sauces has increased despite a push to reduce levels, a campaign group has found.

Consensus Action on Salt and Health said Sacla's Italia Organic Vegetarian Pesto No 5 Basil and Italia Pesto No 1 Classic Basil now contain more salt per serving than a McDonald's hamburger.

It said none of the sauces it checked, including some made by Sainsbury's and Tesco, could be described as healthy.

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Cinnamon: Pantry staple -- and medical powerhouse?

herbs-and-spices

By Sandee LaMotte, CNN

cinnamon is one of the world's most popular spices, sprinkled on lattes, boiled with ciders and enjoyed in numerous dishes. Without it, Thanksgiving and Christmas meals might well become tasteless and definitely less fragrant.

Harvested from the inner bark of a tropical evergreen plant, cinnamon has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat respiratory and digestive problems for centuries. Ancient Egyptians used cinnamon as a perfume during the embalming process, while Romans used it in funeral pyres to mask the stench of burning flesh.

The Bible mentions cinnamon several times, most commonly as a way to perfume bedding, clothes and anointing oil. The essential oil form is made from the bark, leaves or twigs of the plant.

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