Sugar functions like ‘brain crack’ – addicts need it to suppress stress signals

A new experiment from the University of California, Davis, brings new understanding to how comfort foods work and how sugar functions like “brain crack,” ultimately addicting comfort eaters. In the study, sugar was found to be a stress suppressant, limiting the stress hormone cortisol. Like a drug, the refined sugar quelled stress signals in participants’ brains, convincing them to eat more sugar in times of stress. This can create a cycle of addiction as demonstrated in the two-week experiment.

During the two weeks studied, 19 women were given three beverages to drink each day that were sweetened with sugar, aspartame, or a substitute. After conducting magnetic resonance imaging brain scans on the participants, the researchers found that sugar affects a specific area in the brain responsible for reacting to stress. The artificial sweeteners didn’t have the same action on the brain, but the study did not focus on these chemical sweeteners, which have their own set of cons.

Sugar limits cortisol levels in the brain, addicting users to the feeling of eating something sweet

Instead, the MRI results focused on how sugar interrupts the brain’s normal response to stress. The researchers noticed the changes in the hippocampus region of the brain, pointing out that lower amounts of the stress hormone cortisol were being produced in the presence of sugar.

By limiting stress hormones in the brain, sugar acts like a drug, suppressing stress levels and addicting users.

Nutrition researcher and study author Kevin Laugero wrote in an email, “The findings suggest an explanation of how, mechanistically, sugar may positively reinforce its habitual consumption in people experiencing chronic stress.”

Before the MRIs, the female participants were instructed to complete a set of difficult math problems in their heads. These usually push cortisol levels up as the brain is stressed out; however, the cortisol levels went down for women who drank the sugary beverages. The cortisol levels were higher in the women who drank the artificially sweetened beverages. It appears that the sugar helped the women cope, but in the long run, thisstress signal suppression can lead to addiction.

Writing in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, the researchers said that acute stress usually blocks activity in the hippocampus. The sugar changed all that. Nevertheless, the researchers recommend that larger studies be conducted testing both male and female brains to better understand how sugar consumption lowers stress levels and creates a cycle of addiction.

David Benton, a psychology professor at Swansea University in the U.K., suggested in an email that stressed out people might not crave actual sugar during times of stress, but they might feel the need to experience eating something sweet. The study shows that comfort eating is an addiction that happens in the brain, whereas people crave the experience of eating something sweet to block out the pressures of the day.

“The idea of being attracted to palatable foods in moments of stress is well described, for example chocolate, but this reflects the temperature at which it melts, the flavor of cocoa, mouth feel and a mixture of fat and sugar,” said Benton.

Julie Rish, a psychologist with the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, pointed out that natural fruit and vegetable sugars aren’t addicting in the same way as refined sugar. “People don’t crave carrots or celery, they crave chocolate or ice cream,” said Rish.

“Keeping a positive environment makes it harder to make an unhealthy choice and it also helps you to delay a response to the craving,” Rish said. “Those cravings peak over 15 to 20 minutes and if you can just delay them and distract yourself for that long the cravings start to come down on their own.”

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Mediterranean Diet Boosts Brain Power, Clinical Study Finds

The popular diet, supplemented with olive oil or nuts, helped stave off cognitive decline.

A new study finds that supplementing the Mediterranean diet with more olive oil or more nuts helps diminish age-related decline in cognitive function. .

The Mediterranean diet, supplemented with a handful of nuts or a few tablespoons of olive oil a day, can counteract the effects of aging on the brain’s ability to function, a new clinical study suggests.

The study, published online Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, was unusual in that it employed rigorous scientific practices to test the effect of the diet on health. Most previous evidence showing benefits from the Mediterranean diet was gathered through observational studies, a less conclusive research technique.

“This was the first clinical, randomized study using a dietary pattern for good health,” said Emilio Ros, who led the study at Hospital Clinic, part of the University of Barcelona in Spain. Data gathered from previous observational studies suggested that adhering to a Mediterranean-type diet related to better cognitive function and a reduced risk of dementia, but observational studies have limitations, he said. “This clinical trial removes the bias and provides first-level evidence,” said Dr. Ros, director of the lipid clinic at Hospital Clinic’s endocrinology department.

The Mediterranean diet, which has also shown benefits in cardiovascular health, emphasizes vegetables and fruits, unrefined grains and beans. It also includes fish and wine and minimal consumption of meat and full-fat dairy products.

The study involved 447 cognitively healthy participants, 55 to 80 years of age, who were divided into three groups. Two groups followed the Mediterranean diet and added either 30 grams of mixed nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds) a day, or five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day. The third group, acting as a control, was advised to follow a low-fat diet. The subjects were followed for a median of just over four years.

The results showed that, compared with the control group, memory function remained stronger in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts group, while frontal (attention and executive function) and global cognition benefited in the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil group.

The diminished decline in cognitive function likely stems from the abundance of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents found in the supplemental foods, Dr. Ros said. Olive oil and nuts are rich in phenolic compounds that might counteract oxidative processes in the brain, leading to neurodegeneration, the study said. “If you can delay your age-related cognitive decline, you can process tasks with higher speed,” said Dr. Ros.

Jane Cerhan, a clinical neuropsychologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who wasn’t involved in the research, said clinical studies of age-related cognitive decline are needed in regard to diet, “which is why this study is an extra good one, because of its size and randomized design.” However, she said: “The changes observed in cognition were very small and didn’t actually show that those diets improved cognition, they just showed less decline.” Based on the research, she said, people shouldn’t rush out to buy lots of olive oil and nut, but she encourages they follow a balanced diet that includes healthy foods such as these.

The research was a substudy of a larger investigation, designed by Dr. Ros, that found the Mediterranean diet, supplemented with additional olive oil or nuts, reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events among people at high cardiovascular risk. That study, which involved nearly 7,500 participants and known by the acronym Predimed, was published in 2013.

In the latest study, Dr. Ros said participants were given 1 liter of olive oil per week, but that amount was intended for their entire household. He recommends that, to decrease age-related cognitive delay, people should add 5 tablespoons of olive oil as well as a handful of nuts per day into their diet.

“I like walnuts, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids,” he said. In general, he would like to see everyone improve their diets “by eating more fish, less meat, and improving your legume intake.” He also suggested adding the Spanish “sofrito” sauce of slowly simmering tomatoes, onions, and garlic in olive oil and garlic to dress rice and pasta dishes in weekly menus. “We believe this is an antioxidant cocktail.”

The study was funded by the Spanish government. Dr. Ros has previously received research funding from the California Walnut Commission and is a nonpaid member of the group’s scientific advisory committee, the study said.

A Medical Lab In A Music Box

Musical Medical Test

Photo by George Korir

2015 Invention Award Winner Category: Health
Inventors: Manu Prakash and George Korir
Company: Stanford University
Invention: Punchcard Programmable Microfluidics
Development Cost To Date: $50,000
Maturity: 4/5

One night in 2011, as Manu Prakash turned the handle on a music box, he realized the simple mechanism–a crank rotating gears–could also run a programmable chemistry set. Most “lab-on-a-chip” devices require computers, technicians, and expensive laboratories to pump precise amounts of liquid through a microfluidic chip. But a hand-cranked mechanism could eliminate all that; Prakash’s idea wouldn’t even need power. “What we’re doing here is steampunk chemistry,” he says.

Prakash, who heads a Stanford University research lab, recruited graduate student George Korir to help create a sophisticated scientific device that works like a music box. First, the duo had to figure out how paper punched with patterns of holes–each keyed to a different chemical reaction–could activate tiny mechanical pumps and valves to generate nanoliter droplets. Twenty-some prototypes later, they’re preparing their apple-size invention, Punchcard Programmable Microfluidics, for mass production. While conventional microfluidic pumps can cost $1,500 each, Prakash says this device, which contains 15 pumps, will run $5.

Relatively simple to use, the instrument will enable anyone with a chip and a hole punch to perform a complex chemical reaction, such as diagnosing disease from a blood sample. Even lightly trained medical providers in rural areas and developing countries could identify, and thus control, fatal illnesses. “I grew up in Kenya and saw a lot of preventable suffering,” Korir says, “so I’m passionate about getting the right tools to the people who stand between life and death.”

How It Works

  1. After adding a sample, such as blood, the user selects a punch card for a given reaction and cranks it past gears with teeth.
  2. As one tooth slides into a punched hole, another squeezes a fluid channel to pump a chemical through a removable microfluidic chip.
  3. Punched holes can also trigger the release of a single droplet, for precise volume control.
  4. Up to 15 different chemicals react with one another as they travel along channels etched on the chip.
  5. The user examines the results via embedded lenses that magnify images hundreds of times.

How to Start the Mediterranean Diet .

How to eat like a Greek

At this point, you probably already know that the Mediterranean diet is good for your health. Research proves over and over again that people who put an emphasis on produce, fish, whole grains, and healthy fats not only weigh less, but also have a decreased risk for heart disease, depression, and dementia. So what are you waiting for? Here are the basics: Shop the market perimeter, eat seasonally, and break (whole-grain) bread with people who make you smile. Now for the nitty-gritty.,,20793870,00.html

Amritsar woman gives birth to a plastic baby

Ever heard about a “plastic baby” who looks like a rubber doll and sheds skin like that of reptile scales.

A plastic baby born in Amritsar has become the centre of attraction in the region as birth of such babies is rare and occurs once among six lakh newborns. The plastic newborns are scientifically known as collodion babies.

Collodion baby: A collodion baby is found in one among every six lakh babies.

The mother of the baby hails from the Rajasansi area of Amritsar district in Punjab, which is located some 240 km from here. Doctors of Guru Nanak Dev Medical College and Hospital in Amritsar had examined the baby on Friday.

“The baby starts crying when someone touches her. She looks like a rubber doll and her face appears to be similar to that of a fish. Her eyes and lips are red hot. She is also not able to take feed from her mother,” a doctor who attended to the plastic baby, said.

Confirming the birth of a plastic baby, Dr M.S. Pannu, Head, Department of Paediatrics, Guru Nanak Dev Medical College and Hospital said that a collodion baby was brought to the hospital for treatment on Friday.

“This is a kind of genetic disorder. It is due to mutation of certain genes and is usually an autosomal recessive, congenital ichthyosis (scaly skin condition).

However 10 per cent of collodion babies have normal underlying skin – a mild presentation known as ‘self-healing’ collodion baby. The skin of this baby, like others born with this deformity, is very thick,” Pannu said.

He said that plastic babies develop cracks in their skin after birth and baby’s membrane gets peeled off automatically within a period of 15 to 30 days. In some cases, the plastic coating-like skin makes the life of the child miserable. The baby remains under constant threat of infection when the body sheds skin. This threat remains all life.

Collodion babies, who are often premature, are also known as plastic babies. They are born encased in a skin that resembles a yellow, tight and shiny film or dried collodion (sausage skin). The collodion membrane undergoes desquamation or peeling, which is very painful.

“This is a very rare disease and is found in one among every six lakh babies. This is a kind of wax and shining skin which is also tight. At times the plastic babies report hypothermia and dehydration besides other problems. I treated one such baby a decade ago. The skin at times sheds itself within two to three weeks but the period is very painful for the baby which cannot close its eyelids,” Chandigarh-based child specialist and Director, Bedi Hospitals, Dr R.S. Bedi told Mail Today.

This is the second such baby born in Amritsar. Earlier in 2014 too, a plastic baby was born in the civil hospital but it died within three days of birth.

Porn and video game addicts risk ‘masculinity crisis,’ says Stanford professor — RT News

Men who play video games “in excess” and watch online porn are facing what has been called a masculinity crisis, according to a leading US psychologist.

Reuters/Robert Galbraith

For those who think online video games and porn are passive online activities that have no real consequences in the real world, take heed.

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo interviewed 20,000 young people in the United States, 75 percent of them male, and found that excessive, solitary playing of video games and watching porn is seriously damaging the social development of young men.

“Our focus is on young men who play video games to excess, and do it in social isolation – they are alone in their room,” Zimbardo, who just released a book on the subject, entitled“Man (Dis)Connected,” told the BBC in an interview.

“Now, with freely available pornography – which is unique in history – they are combining playing video games, and as a break, watching on average, two hours of pornography a week.”

Zimbardo says “excessive” use of video games and pornography is not necessarily a matter of specific time, but rather the psychological change in mindset that such isolated activities produce, where the individual begins to feel he’d rather be doing that particular activity than anything else.

Phillip Zimbardo, 82, is a psychologist and a professor emeritus at Stanford University. He is perhaps best known for his 1971 experiment in which students were asked to play the roles of ‘guards’ and ‘prisoners’ in a mock prison. Intended to continue for two weeks, the experiment was aborted in less than a week as the initially normal ‘guards’ eventually became sadistic and the ‘prisoners’ became submissive and depressed. Zimbardo has also written introductory psychology books, textbooks for college students, and other notable works, including The Lucifer Effect and the The Time Cure. Zimbardo is the founder and president of the Heroic Imagination Project.

“When I’m in class, I’ll wish I was playing World of Warcraft. When I’m with a girl, I’ll wish I was watching pornography, because I’ll never get rejected,” he explained. The brains of young men are actually becoming “digitally rewired” by these new pastimes.

Zimbardo says that one of the consequences is the so-called“porn-induced erectile dysfunction,” or PIED, where young men who should be sexually active are “having a problem getting an erection.”

“You have this paradox – they’re watching exciting videos that should be turning them on, and they can’t get turned on.”

While playing video games and watching pornography are not necessarily bad activities, they can begin to have a negative effect on the social development of individuals if used in excess, the psychologist said.

He believes that parents need to take more control of the situation by taking simple steps, like keeping a journal for tracking how much time is being set aside for a variety of different activities, like doing homework, reading and writing.
At the same time, schools need to rethink their sexual education requirements, and instead of placing excessive emphasis on the physical side of relations, talk more about communication and expressing emotions, he said.

“We need to set standards of excellence, and be aware that there is a problem in the first place,”Zimbardo said.

Amount of carbon dioxide in air keeps rising, hits milestone .

Global levels of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent heat-trapping gas, have passed a daunting milestone, federal scientists say.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says in March, the global monthly average for carbon dioxide hit 400.83 parts per million. That is the first month in modern records that the entire globe broke 400 ppm, reaching levels that haven’t been seen in about 2 million years.

“It’s both disturbing and daunting,” said NOAA chief greenhouse gas scientist Pieter Tans. “Daunting from the standpoint on how hard it is to slow this down.”

He said it is disturbing because it is happening at a pace so fast that it seems like an explosion compared to Earth’s slow-moving natural changes.

Carbon dioxide isn’t just higher, it is increasing at a record pace, 100 times faster than natural rises in the past, Tans said.

Pushed by the burning of coal, oil and gas, global carbon dioxide is 18 percent higher than it was in 1980, when NOAA first calculated a worldwide average. In 35 years, carbon dioxide levels rose 61 parts per million. In pre-human times, it took about 6,000 years for carbon dioxide to rise about 80 parts per million, Tans said.

Monthly levels fluctuate with the season, peaking in May and then decreasing as plants absorb carbon dioxide. But they are increasing on a year-to-year basis.

Levels are also higher in the Northern Hemisphere because that’s where carbon dioxide is being spewed by power plants and vehicles, Tans said.

The first time levels passed the 400 ppm milestone was for just a few weeks in the Arctic in 2012. Last year the monthly Northern Hemisphere average measured in Hawaii exceeded 400 and now the global average has as well, said James Butler, head of NOAA’s global monitoring division.

Would you have Hypokalemia when you have Bipolar disorder .

Hypokalemia is found among people with Bipolar disorder, especially people who are female, 40-49 old, also have Bipolar i disorder, and take medication Seroquel. We study 106 people who have Hypokalemia and Bipolar disorder from FDA and social media. Find out below who they are, other conditions they have and drugs they take.


Hypokalemia (low potassium) has been reported by people with high blood pressure, osteoporosis, pain, depression, multiple myeloma. (latest reports from 24,885 Hypokalemia patients)

On May, 10, 2015: 106 people who have bipolar disorder and Hypokalemia are studied.

Trend of Hypokalemia in bipolar disorder reports

Gender of people who have bipolar disorder and experienced Hypokalemia * :

Female Male
Hypokalemia 78.72% 21.28%

Age of people who have bipolar disorder and experienced Hypokalemia * :

0-1 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+
Hypokalemia 1.43% 0.00% 5.71% 8.57% 17.14% 23.57% 25.00% 18.57%

Severity of the symptom * :

least moderate severe most severe
Hypokalemia 0.00% 0.00% 100.00% 0.00%

Top co-existing conditions for these people * :

  1. Bipolar i disorder (21 people, 19.81%)
  2. Depression (18 people, 16.98%)
  3. Anxiety (17 people, 16.04%)
  4. Osteoporosis (15 people, 14.15%)
  5. Pain (13 people, 12.26%)
  6. Insomnia (10 people, 9.43%)
  7. Sleep disorder (9 people, 8.49%)
  8. Hypertension (9 people, 8.49%)
  9. Dyspepsia (7 people, 6.60%)
  10. Agitation (7 people, 6.60%)

Most common drugs used by these people * :

  1. Seroquel (56 people, 52.83%)
  2. Zyprexa (38 people, 35.85%)
  3. Lamictal (36 people, 33.96%)
  4. Abilify (35 people, 33.02%)
  5. Lithium carbonate (30 people, 28.30%)
  6. Ambien (25 people, 23.58%)
  7. Zoloft (22 people, 20.75%)
  8. Neurontin (18 people, 16.98%)
  9. Lexapro (18 people, 16.98%)
  10. Zocor (16 people, 15.09%)

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WARNING: Please DO NOT STOP MEDICATIONS without first consulting a physician since doing so could be hazardous to your health.

Awango by Total, Solar Solutions to Improve Access to Energy

In Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, in regions where access to power cannot be taken for granted, Awango by Total lamps can make the day brighter for longer. Whether people want to do homework or domestic chores, work on craft businesses or get around after dark, life can go on, safely, after the sun has set. The well-made, affordable lamps allow families to avoid the recurring costs associated with traditional energies. The purchase pays for itself in just a few months.

The lamps are available both at Total service stations and via the Group’s networks. They are thus distributed by approved retailers or local associations, making it possible to supply the most remote regions. This way, we can reach the greatest number of households.

At the end of 2014, Total had already sold 880,000 solar lamps, providing energy for more than 4.4 million people. Target for 2015: 1 million Awango by Total lamps sold, so that 5 million people have access to a durable and safe source of energy.

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