Scientists can 3D print working mouse ovaries. What else can they do?


Ovaries

Northwestern University scientists announced at the Endocrine Society’s national meeting early this month they had 3D-printed prosthetic ovaries that enabled mice — whose natural ovaries had been surgically removed — to ovulate, give birth and nurse.

Researchers hope the advancement will help women who lost fertility or hormone function after cancer treatments or who were born with reduced ovarian function.

The past few years have seen numerous advancements in the realm of 3D-printed body parts. Blue Sky took a look at a few.

Weird Things Happen When You Stare Into Someone’s Eyes For 10 Minutes.


Staring into a loved one’s eyes can often be romantic, entrancing and in my personal opinion, deeply connecting. However, 10 minutes is an awfully long time. I’m not sure I could stare into my other half’s eyes for longer than 30 seconds without desperately wanting to kiss, laugh or do something more physical to break the intense tension that’s built.

In light of this, the idea of staring into a strangers eyes for 10 minutes without a change in facial expression or even the hint of a smile is completely foreign to me but I had no idea the effect it could actually have on people.

Italian psychologist, Giovanni Caputo, recruited 20 young adults, 15 of which were women, to form pairs. Each pairs sat opposite each other, one meter apart, in a large and dimly lit room. I say ‘dimly lit’, as with all things experiment, it was actually a very precise lighting of 0.8lx which was selected to allow detailed perception of the fine face traits but attenuated color perception.

From here, the task for the participants was fairly simple: stare in each other’s eyes for 10 minutes, maintaining a neutral facial expression whilst you do. Sounds simple enough right, what could possibly happen from something as simple as this?

In the next room, 20 further participants, the ‘control group’, were asked to stare for 10 minutes but instead of staring at another person, they were asked to face their chair to the wall.

When the ten minutes were up, both groups were required to fill out questionnaires: the first being an 18 item test of dissociative states and the other asked questions about their experience of the other person’s face, or their own face/the wall if they were in the control group.

Interestingly, the participants in the eye-staring group claimed they’d had a compelling experience, unlike anything they’d ever felt before. Also, scoring higher on all questionnaires in comparison to the control group. The eye-staring group test results showed reduced color intensity, sounds seeming quieter or louder than expected, being spaced out and time seemingly dragging on.

In addition, 90% of the group agreed they’d seen deformed facial traits, with 75% claiming they’d seen a monster and 50% claiming they’d seen aspects of their own face in their partner’s. I wonder if the monster/own face claim saw any crossovers? No, I’m sure they were all lovely.

Caputo, the brain behind the experiment, thinks the facial hallucinations are a kind of rebound effect, as the participants in the eye-staring group returned to “reality” after dissociating. Of course, this is largely speculation and although the eye-staring group scored higher in the disassociative tests, on average, no items on the scale scored higher than a 2.45 which is relatively low when you consider the scale is 0-5, with 5 being the highest.

Still, comparing the questionnaire scores in the current study with those reported in his past research, Caputo says that what he calls “interpersonal gazing” has a more powerful dissociative effect than staring into a mirror.

 

Scientists capture image of brain on LSD, here’s how it is to be on acid.


“This is to neuroscience, what the Higgs Boson was to particle physics”

Almost 78 years after Lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD or ‘acid’ was first synthesized, the profound impact of the psychedelic substance on the brain has been captured with the help of brain scans.

The experiment which was conducted with the help of volunteers, who agreed to be injected with a small dose of the substance, gave scientists a new insight into the effects of the drug on the brain.

Here’s an image.

 

The Guardian reported that:

The brain scans revealed that trippers experienced images through information drawn from many parts of their brains, and not just the visual cortex at the back of the head that normally processes visual information. Under the drug, regions once segregated spoke to one another.

David Nutt, a former drugs advisor, and senior researcher on the study, told the newspaper that “This is to neuroscience what the Higgs boson was to particle physics. We didn’t know how these profound effects were produced. It was too difficult to do. Scientists were either scared or couldn’t be bothered to overcome the enormous hurdles to get this done.”

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, was quoted as saying:

“We observed brain changes under LSD that suggested our volunteers were ‘seeing with their eyes shut’ — albeit they were seeing things from their imagination rather than from the outside world. We saw that many more areas of the brain than normal were contributing to visual processing under LSD — even though the volunteers’ eyes were closed. Furthermore, the size of this effect correlated with volunteers’ ratings of complex, dreamlike visions.”

 

Stephen Hawking wants to use lasers to propel a tiny spaceship to Alpha Centauri


Yuri Milner, chief executive officer of Digital Sky Technologies, speaks at a summit in 2010. Yuri Milner, chief executive officer of Digital Sky Technologies, speaks at a summit in 2010.When famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tech tycoon Yuri Milnerannounced a $100 million hunt for alien life last year, they pledged to inject a whole lot of funding and brain power into the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. At a news conference Tuesday, the duo announced another $100 million moonshot — or more accurately a starshot.

It’s the latest project of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, a Silicon Valley-funded group that currently gives the biggest prizes of any scientific award. The 2015 initiative (which is still ongoing) focused on the detection of Earth-like planets and alien signals. Breakthrough Starshot will fund the development of a light-propelled nanocraft — a spaceship just a few grams in size that would fly through space like ships in the sea, with sails pushed by the physical force of light particles instead of by wind. Its destination will be Alpha Centauri, our closest neighboring star system. Once there, it could try to sense habitable conditions — or even life — on the planets.

“There’s one underlying big theme, which is looking for other life in the universe,” Milner told The Post. “But this initiative also has a theme of pure exploration behind it.”

For now, the most distant human spacecraft is Voyager 1. The spacecraft is technically in interstellar space — beyond the edge of our own solar system — but it’s not destined for stardom. It will take 40,000 years for Voyager 1 to make its closest pass of another star, and even that brush will only bring it within 1.6 light-years of the alien sun. And even if humans are still kicking around by then, Voyager 1 will be tens of thousands of years past its expiration date. It isn’t equipped to go sniffing for life in a foreign star system in any case, so the spacecraft will only help us find alien life if it pretty much crashes into their back yard and inspires them to come looking for us.

Milner feels that light-propelled spacecraft might be the key. He’s not the only one showing a new interest in the whimsical technology, which had a big fan in Carl Sagan back in the day. Bill Nye (the science guy) and the Planetary Society recently funded a prototype called LightSail, and they hope to follow up with full missions reliant on the tiny, light-powered satellites within the next few years.

But to get to the binary stars in Alpha Centauri within one generation of launch, which is the goal of Milner and Hawking, their spacecraft would have to travel 100 million miles per hour. Today’s fastest spacecraft max out in the tens of thousands of mph.

This artist's impression shows a planet orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B, a member of the triple star system that is the closest to Earth.© Reuters/ESO/L. Calcada/N. Risinger This artist’s impression shows a planet orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B, a member of the triple star system that is the closest to Earth.

Even with $100 million in funding funneled to the best and brightest — a group that Milner says will be selected on a rolling basis — scaling up to that kind of speed is quite the long shot. But Milner hopes that Moore’s Law — the idea that computer-processing power will continue to double every two years — will continue to hold true. In theory, that means scientists with enough funding could create gram-scale computers and sensors for the spacecraft within the next decade.

It’s worth noting, however, that many experts say the days of this rapid computing growth are over. It’s quite possible that scaling down the size of these components will take decades, if not more.

The new project relies on a couple other Moore’s-Law-adjacent moonshots as well. The team hopes that the rapid advancement of nanotechnology will allow engineers to create incredibly light solar sails to carry the craft, for example.

And there’s one more thing: Even if Milner’s funding can create a spaceship tiny enough to hurtle through space with unprecedented efficiency, there’s no way the power of sunlight will push it to the speeds he wants to obtain.

“The sun is definitely not going to work for us here,” Milner told The Post. “What you need is a much more focused beam.”

His solution? “A very, very light sail and a very, very big laser,” Milner said. He hopes the researchers he funds can figure out how to produce laser arrays powerful enough to give the spacecraft enough of a starting shove.

In theory, this is all possible. In practice, it’s a long shot in the extreme. Even Milner, who insists that this “is not a crazy idea” admits there are “about a dozen problems that need to be solved.” They’re big problems, too.

But at least now, scientists and engineers who are interested in developing this technology will have a clear (and potentially lucrative) goal.

“The message that Stephen Hawking and I want to send is that for the first time ever, this is an achievable goal,” Milner said. “We can stand up and talk about it. Fifteen years ago, it wouldn’t have made sense to make this investment. Now we’ve looked at the numbers, and it does.”

At Tuesday’s announcement, Hawking spoke of humanity’s need for exploration as a driving force behind the project.

“I believe what makes us unique is transcending our limits,” he said. “Gravity pins us to the ground, but I just flew to America.”

“Today we commit to this next great leap into the cosmos because we are human and our nature is to fly,” he said.

There are certainly worse things than funding smaller, faster computers and thinner, more resilient nano-materials. But at the end of the day, Milner, whose net worth hovers around $3 billion, seems to be motivated most by boyish enthusiasm.

“I just think it would be cool to make it happen,” he said.

Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell show the power of a simple white-tee in new breast cancer campaign


Kate Moss in the Fashion Targets Cancer
Kate Moss in the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign

Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell have paired up to recreate a campaign that they originally starred in 20 years ago. The supermodels, and close friends, are once again supporting Fashion Targets Breast Cancer, wearing simple white tees with jeans in the latest campaign photographed by the legendary Mario Testino.

The initiative was originally created by American fashion designer Ralph Lauren after he lost his close friend, Washington Post fashion editor Nina Hyde to cancer. This year a number of labels, including Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, Topshop, Laura Ashley, Simply Be and Blow Ltd, are taking part by creating exclusive products and collections with a minimum 30% donation going towards Breast Cancer Now’s research.

Naomi Campbell in the Fashion Targets Cancer
Naomi Campbell in the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign

“I never could have expected back in 1996 that I would go on to experience first-hand the harrowing effect this disease can have on individuals, families and loved ones,” Naomi Campbell said of the campaign. “For the last twenty years Fashion Targets Breast Cancer has united us all – scientists, models, designers, mothers, photographers, retailers – as a powerful force against the disease.”

Kate Moss, added: “It’s great to be returning to support Fashion Targets Breast Cancer on this very special anniversary year. Since its UK launch in 1996, when I first appeared in the campaign poster, Fashion Targets Breast Cancer has gone on to impact so many lives by funding vital research into this devastating disease.’’

Naomi Campbell in the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign in 1996
Naomi Campbell in the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign in 1996 

In its 20 years the initiative has already raised over £14 million to fund breast cancer research, and has received support from a number of high profile fashion stars, including Claudia Schiffer, Elle Macpherson, Georgia May Jagger, Sienna Miller and Lily Donaldson.

38 Different Ways Apple Cider Vinegar Can Save Your Life.


The list of apple cider vinegar benefits seems to grow almost every day. With so many different lists around it gets hard to keep track. That’s why we’ve collected a sampling of some of the best lists around all in one place! Enjoy! 

First off a list from FoodMatters.tv of 8 scientifically proven benefits:

Raw, organic, unfiltered and unpasteurized, apple cider vinegar is so much more than a salad dressing! Here are 8 proven benefits of apple cider vinegar that you may have never realised!

1. Apple Cider Vinegar is Rich in Acetic Acid

Results of a research study in Japan suggest that acetic acid may help control blood pressure and fat accumulation. Investigators in Europe looked at the influence of sodium acetate and acetic acid on blood glucose and other biological responses to a mixed meal in healthy subjects.

But acetic acid is not vinegar, it is a bacteria found in vinegar that is a byproduct of the fermentation process and as you go along this article, you’ll find out that this bacteria is responsible for the other benefits below.

During the fermentation process, the acetic acid bacteria grow inside the liquid and as the fermentation process goes along it slowly grows to become a nontoxic slime. People call it the “mother”.

There are vinegar manufacturers that remove the “mother” using a filtration process but if you’re thinking of consuming this or adding it to a juice recipe, avoid using distilled vinegar but opt for the raw, unfiltered variety that contains the mother. This ingredient is responsible for the tart flavor and the biting odor of vinegar. Acetic acid content in vinegar varies between 4 to 7% in distilled vinegar and 5 to 6% in wine vinegar. Bragg unfiltered ACV (one of the more popular brands) contains 5.14% of acetic acid.

Tip: The FDA says that diluted acetic acid is not vinegar and should not be added into any food product that is expected to contain vinegar.

2. Has Cancer-Fighting Properties

Cancer is a silent killer in that the symptoms don’t manifest itself until it is in a stage where there is little that you can do to cure it. In 2014 over 1.6 million people in the United States tested positive for cancer and there were over half a million deaths (it is the 4th common cause of death in the USA). Research has shown that vinegar can at least shrink and kill some types of cancer cells.

One study was done in China, where they discovered that vegetable and vinegar consumption reduced the risk of oesophageal cancer. However in a separate study done in Serbia, results showed that vinegar consumption increased bladder cancer 4.4 times. Based on these studies, vinegar is found to have anti-tumor properties thanks to the acetic acid bacteria but may provide various effects depending on the type of cancer.

3. It is a Proven Disinfectant and Bacteria Killer

Before any scientific study was done, Hippocrates has been using vinegar to treat woundsover 2,000 years ago and modern research has proven that vinegar can kill some types of bacteria like E. coli and S. aureus. It isn’t as effective as commercial products like Clorox, but it does not have chemicals in it so it is safe to use in washing produce and is also known as a natural food preservative.

4. Lowers Bad Cholesterol and Prevent Cardiovascular Disease

One of the biggest risk factors of having high cholesterol is it can lead to various heart ailments. Once bad cholesterol clogs the arteries, there is a huge risk of cardiac arrest.

Apple cider vinegar can help lower because it contains chlorogenic acids that help lower LDL or bad cholesterol, preventing it from accumulating and crystalizing in the bloodstream. Take note that the research done was only done to rats which may or may not translate to same results on humans. One study was done on over 70,000 women showed that an increased intake of oil and vinegar salad dressing reduced the risk of ischemic heart disease.

5. Prevents the onset of Diabetes by lowering Postprandial Glycemia

For those who don’t know postprandial glycemia simply refers to the elevated blood sugar levels that occur after a meal – this is a big factor why pre-diabetics progress to type 2 diabetics.The term pre-diabetes means that an individual has elevated blood glucose levels but not high enough to be considered as type-2 diabetes. If left undiagnosed it can lead to type 2 diabetes in 10 years or less. Researchers from Arizona University found out that drinking vinegar juice that included 20 grams of apple cider vinegar, 49 grams of water and 1 teaspoon of saccharine after a meal (bagel and orange juice) resulted in a 35% decrease.

Another way to lower down postprandial glycemia is walking around for 15 minutes after a meal instead of sitting down like most of us do.

6. Reduces Bacterial Infections on Teeth

In a test done on 100 teeth that were exposed to the E. faecalis, bacteria had shown that apple cider vinegar was able to reduce bacterial count but not completely remove it. The test was done on teeth extracted through a root canal and not live teeth inside the mouth.

7. Research Says That Apple Cider Vinegar Can Help Type-2 Diabetics Improve Insulin Sensitivity

In a study done by the American Diabetes Association in 2004, 3 groups of people were given a concoction of 20 grams apple cider vinegar, 40 grams of water and a teaspoon of saccharine and after 2 minutes were given a meal that consisted of a white bagel, orange juice and butter.

These 3 groups include people with type 2 diabetes and non-diabetic individuals who are either insulin sensitive (these are control subjects) or insulin resistant. 29 people in all participated in the study.

The study revealed that apple cider vinegar increased insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant individuals by 34% and type 2 diabetics by 19% [20]. Dr. Mercola who also cited the study said that the type 2 diabetics who participated in the study improved blood glucose levels by 25% while pre-diabetics had lower blood glucose compared to healthy individuals (control subjects) who participated.

8. Vinegar Can Help in Losing Weight

There has been a new study done by Japanese researchers that acetic acid found in vinegar could prevent the accumulation of body fat. One test was done with mice, the other with people.

The test  was done on mice (the latest study): In their study laboratory, scientists fed two groups of mice with a high-fat diet. Afterwards, one group was given acetic acid and one group was not. The mice that were given acetic acid developed less body fat (up to 10%) compared to mice that were not given acetic acid.

Test done on people: 175 obese but healthy people were divided into two groups. Both groups had a similar diet but one group had plain water and the other had some vinegar. At the end of 12 weeks the people who had the vinegar lost an average of 1 to 2 pounds. But whilst vinegar may have properties that can break down fats, nothing beats exercise and eating the right food to really shift any excess weight!

Then there is this great list of 23 benefits from Healthy Holistic Living. Some highlights include: 

6. Detoxifying

In a world filled with so many toxins, we should all be taking precautionary measures by incorporating protective foods into our diets. We’ve discussed many of the sources of toxins in previous articles so we won’t be overly redundant in this article.

The unique acids in ACV bind to toxins and allow us to release them more effectively.

You can also utilize the medicine of ACV by adding a cup to a hot bath with some epsom salts, to kickstart your lymphatic system into releasing toxins (6).

8. Candida

If you aren’t familiar with candida overgrowth, consider yourself lucky. Candida is a parasitic bacteria which cause yeast overgrowth leading to low energy, poor digestion, yeast infections, canker sores and other uncomfortable symptoms.

Candida overgrowth occurs often when a person has a poor diet, high in refined sugar and carbohydrates, and it can take over when the gut flora compromised by antibiotic use or birth control.

ACV is an effective tool in the kit of someone trying to rid themselves of draining candida. You can also look at lemon water as a possible solution when treating Candida.

It works by helping promote better digestion and an acid/alkaline balance more aligned with promoting healthy bacteria to once again thrive in the gut (8).

Vinegar has been used since time eternal as a cure for foot fungus and is great for killing molds.

Since yeast is a fungus it makes sense that ACV would help in keeping the parasite at bay, even though to date there hasn’t been any specific analysis of ACV directly as a candida killer.

14. Prevents Muscle Fatigue After Exercise

Muscle fatigue can often be a symptom of mineral and electrolyte depletion. To make sure the body has ample electrolyte stores take a Tbs of ACV with water before a workout. The natural pH of our bodies when it’s in balance create an environment where elimination of excess lactic acid in the muscles easily occurs, this stasis also plays a crucial role in oxygenating our bodies during exercise (18).

And finally this list of 7 from Fitness Republic. Some new ones include: 

Reduce Sunburns and Insect Stings

If you feel sunburn or bug bite, Apple cider vinegar can help treat this problem. If sunburn occurs, use Apple Cider Vinegar and water in equal proportions and apply to the skin with a cotton fabric to reduce burn. Also, you can relax in shower with moderately hot water and a cup of Apple Cider Vinegar. For pest stings, apply Apple Cider Vinegar straight to the infected area.

Cures Dandruff

Apple Cider Vinegar is very efficient at fighting fight dandruff. Blend it with equivalent proportions of water and put on your scalp with a cloth or a spraying bottle. Keep on for 60-120 minutes with a bathing cap and then rinse. To achieve maximum results, this should be done at least once or twice a week.

Lab-Grown Shrimp Are Here to Save the World


Shrink
Not the New Wave variety.  
A San Francisco biotech company is about eight months away from unleashing lab-grown popcorn shrimp into the marketplace with the modest goal of ending slavery and saving the planet, the Atlantic reports. According to Popular Science, Americans eat 4 billion pounds of seafood annually; a full quarter of that is shrimp. And while shrimp are nutritious and delicious, farmed shrimp that hail from cleared Southeast Asian mangrove forests come with a carbon footprint 10 times larger than that of beef, Tech Insider reports, citing a2012 study. Not to mention the fact that the AP recently found shrimp sold everywhere from Whole Foods to Red Lobster to Walmart had been peeled by migrant slaves kept in warehouses in Thailand and prevented from leaving. That’s where marine conservationist Dominique Barnes and materials scientist Michelle Wolf of New Wave Foods come in.

The fake shrimp being grown in the New Wave labs are no mere Tofurky. “We analyzed shrimp on a molecular level to figure out the components,” Barnes tells Tech Insider. They broke down red algae—the algae that shrimp eat that give them their flavor and color—and combined that with protein powder from plants. Barnes tells the Atlantic the process is “similar to baking a loaf of bread.” Tech Insider’s Ariel Schwartz, an avowed shrimp-lover, tasted New Wave’s breaded variety in February and found it “had that springiness and mixture of crunch and chew that you’d expect from the real thing.” It also has a similar nutritional value. Google has already ordered 200 pounds of New Wave’s fake shrimp for its cafeterias, and a kosher sushi company is interested.

Scientific Links Between Processed Foods and Depression.


Research shows that the food you eat can have a profound effect on your mental health. So, regardless of your mental health problems, the importance of addressing your diet simply cannot be overstated.

Scientific Links Between Processed Foods and Depression Getting Stronger

In a very real sense, you have two brains — one in your head, and one in your gut. Both are created from the same tissue during fetal development, and they’re connected via your vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem to your abdomen.

It is now well established that the vagus nerve is the primary route your gut bacteria use to transmit information to your brain, which helps explain why mental health appears to be so intricately connected to your gut microbiome 1 — the bacteria and other microbes living in your gut.

For example, researchers recently found that fermented foodshelped curb social anxiety disorder in young adults.2,3 Another study4 found that mice engaged in obsessive-compulsive repetitive behaviors were pacified when given a strain of the bacteriumBacteroides fragilis.

Gut bacteria also produce mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin is found in your intestines, not your brain.

At the end of the day, if you’re trying to address your mental state, optimizing your gut health should be toward the very top of your list.

The Strong Link Between Sugar and Depression

A number of food ingredients can cause or aggravate depression, but the number one culprit is refined sugar and processed fructose, which feed pathogens in your gut, allowing them to overtake more beneficial bacteria.

Sugar also suppresses the activity of a key growth hormone in your brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF levels are critically low in both depression and schizophrenia.

Diets high in sugar also triggers a cascade of chemical reactions in your body that promote chronic inflammation, which over the long term disrupts the normal functioning of your immune system and wreaks havoc on your brain.

Last but not least, refined sugar and processed fructose and grains are key contributors to insulin and leptin resistance, which also plays a significant role in your mental health.

One recent study5,6 found that high-glycemic foods (including those high in refined grains and added sugar) were associated with higher odds of depression.

Added sugar in particular was strongly associated with depression, reconfirming what William Dufty said in his classic best-selling book, Sugar Blues, first published in 1975. Sometimes it takes a while for science to catch up — in this case 40 years!

Other Processed Food Ingredients That Promote Depression

Other processed food ingredients that can contribute to depression and/or other mental health problems include:

  • Genetically engineered (GE) ingredients can significantly alter your gut flora, thereby promoting pathogens while decimating the beneficial microbes necessary for optimal mental and physical health.
  • Glyphosate the most widely used herbicide on food crops in the world with nearly 1 BILLION pounds applied every year — has been shown to cause nutritional deficiencies, especially minerals, which are critical for brain function and mood control. It also causes systemic toxicity, and was recently declared a Class 2A probable human carcinogen. Roundup, in which glyphosate is the active ingredient, has also been shown to increase the antibiotic-resistance of E. coli and Salmonella.
  • Artificial food additives, especially the artificial sweetener aspartame, can wreak havoc with your brain function. Both depression and panic attacks are known potential side effects of aspartame consumption. Other additives, such as artificial colorings, are also known to impact mood.
  • Gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley, may negatively impact mood and brain health.In fact, a number of studies indicate that wheat can have a detrimental effect on mood, promoting depression and even more serious mental health problems such as schizophrenia. Most non-organic wheat is also treated with glyphosate in a pre-harvest processed called desiccation, which adds to its problematic effects (see glyphosate above).

To Heal Depression, Heal Your Gut

As noted by The Epoch Times:7

“In the last 20 years or so, scientists have developed a new respect for bacteria, and the paradigm is turning from a strategy of war, to one of co-existence. Science now considers a robust, diverse bacterial colony to be essential to good health.”

Indeed, the bacteria residing on and in your body outnumber your cells 10 to 1, and viruses in turn outnumber bacteria 10 to 1. In many respects, you are your microbiome.

As Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, told The New York Times:8

“We are, at least from the standpoint of DNA, more microbial than human. That’s a phenomenal insight and one that we have to take seriously when we think about human development.’’

Rapidly mounting research reveals that many of these little microbes have very specific functions, and as a whole play a profound role in your biological processes and overall health — including your brain health.

“According to Dr. Raphael Kellman, a New York City-based physician who specializes in treating the microbiome…the microbiome not only influences our mood, but it also has a lot to do with how the brain functions and develops over time,” The Epoch Times9 notes.

‘By improving the microbiome we can actually see positive changes in mood, cognitive function, and executive function,’ Kellman said…

‘The microbiome communicates with the brain through a number of mechanisms… These pathways include direct neurotransmitters that the microbiome produces.

It communicates with the brain via the vagus nerve, and also via the endocrine system in the stress pathway the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal axis.’

Current treatment for neurological disorders focus on direct changes to brain chemistry, tweaking levels of neurotransmitter chemicals in hopes of tuning in the right balance. But the future of mental health treatment may focus much more on the gut than the brain, and more on food than drugs.”

The fact that improving your microbiome can affect your cognitive function means it’s also important to nourish your gut to stand a better chance against neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s. Interestingly, researchers have also found that recurring depression is associated with shrinkage of the hippocampus, the area of your brain associated with memory formation,10 and depression itself appears to be a risk factor for dementia.

Here, it’s important to take your vitamin D levels into account, as both depression and Alzheimer’s disease are associated with vitamin D deficiency.

The Birth Of A More Holistic Model For Mental Health

Depression and anxiety are typically treated with antidepressants, despite the fact studies have shown them to only be on par with placebos in terms of effectiveness. They’re also associated with a slew of side effects, including the progression into more severe and/or chronic mental health problems. Recent research may in part explain why antidepressants can worsen the situation rather than making it better.

The ‘chemical imbalance’ theory states that depression and anxiety disorders are due to low serotonin levels. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) work by making more serotonin available for use in your brain, which is thought to improve your mood. Alas, recent research reveals that people with social anxiety do not have low serotonin; they havehigher than normal levels. So further boosting serotonin with an SSRI will only make the anxiety worse…

The new focus on gut health is a welcome departure from the synthetic drug model. As discussed in The New York Times,11 researchers are listing and investigating psychoactive compounds found in feces, and are experimenting with fecal transplants in animals to assess its effect on neurodevelopment:

“Anxiety, depression, and several pediatric disorders, including autism and hyperactivity, have been linked with gastrointestinal abnormalities. Microbial transplants were not invasive brain surgery, and that was the point: Changing a patient’s bacteria might be difficult but it still seemed more straightforward than altering his genes. When Lyte began his work on the link between microbes and the brain three decades ago, it was dismissed as a curiosity.

By contrast, last September, the National Institute of Mental Health awarded four grants worth up to $1 million each to spur new research on the gut microbiome’s role in mental disorders, affirming the legitimacy of a field that had long struggled to attract serious scientific credibility… It seems plausible, if not yet proved, that we might one day use microbes to diagnose neurodevelopmental disorders, treat mental illnesses and perhaps even fix them in the brain.”

Abnormal Gut Flora Fosters Abnormal Brain Development

Researchers have also begun experimenting with fecal transplants in autistic children,12 and while such investigations are still in its infancy, there’s plenty of cause for optimism. There does in fact appear to be a close connection between abnormal gut flora in infancy and abnormal brain development — a condition Dr. Campbell-McBride calls Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS). GAPS is the result of poorly developed or imbalanced gut flora and may manifest as a conglomerate of symptoms that can fit the diagnosis of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD) without hyperactivity, dyslexia, dyspraxia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, just to name a few possibilities.

How to beat stress at work before it damages your health.


When you woke up this morning and registered (about halfway through your first cup of coffee) that you were heading into work today, what thoughts flashed through your mind?

If you’re one of the lucky ones, you may have felt an eager sense of anticipation.

You know your employer values your efforts. You work with people you respect, who welcome input and push you out of your comfort zone (by just the right amount). Also, you get paid a decent amount of money and are reasonably confident that your job will not be done by robots in 10 years’ time.

Knowing that you are about to embark on another week of unrealistic deadlines, conflict with your boss, poor communication about expectations or job uncertainty is enough to send you diving back under the covers.

The feeling that aspects of our work are out of our control, or beyond our capabilities or resources, is one that most of us have had at some time or another.

But prolonged periods of these feelings can make going to work seem like a nightmare.

What are the signs of a stressful work life?

There are many triggers for stress in the workplace and occupational physician Professor Niki Ellis included the following on her list:

  • Excessive job demands: Having a workload that’s unreasonable. So you might find yourself working overtime or long hours, you also might not be getting the breaks you need throughout the day.
  • Not having enough control over your work: “Somebody who’s working in a more junior capacity may be asked to do things in a certain way, in a certain time — every day. Whereas more senior personnel, for example, will be able to determine when they are going to do their work and how they are going to do their work,” Professor Ellis said.
  • Lack of clarity: Not having a clear sense of what exactly is expected and what your measures of success are. “If people have a lack of clarity around what their role is in an organisation, they don’t quite know what it is they are meant to be doing and how their contribution contributes to the outputs of the organisation as a whole,” Professor Ellis said.
  • Job insecurity: Working in an organisation or small business where job cuts are on the cards is known to be incredibly stressful, and we are living with more organisational change than we have had to in the past.
  • Difficult relationships: These can make going to work a nightmare. Obviously having a bad relationship with your supervisor is something we all dread, but problematic relationships with co-workers and even clients can also make your work life pretty awful. “If there is conflict between their role and the role of other people, that can be very stressful,” Professor Ellis said.
  • Bullying or discrimination: These are toxic for our health and for productivity. And sadly, people often respond by leaving their job rather than lodging a complaint.

Whose responsibility is workplace stress?

While your employer can certainly help when it comes to defining your role and having realistic expectations, Professor Ellis did not let employees off the hook.

“The model where we say ‘this is the responsibility of the employer’ is proving to be a little simplistic, and we need to move into a slightly different world where we have more of a shared responsibility,” she said.

“Sometimes a worker brings a mental health problem into the workplace and other times we have to recognise that work can have an impact on mental health. So poorly designed work can actually contribute to mental health problems.”

“We need to be more conscious about our ownership of our own labour and of our own health and safety,” he said.

Mr Jones said he often encountered diligent and motivated workers who were undermining their own health in the workplace.

“I once did an assessment of a pasta making factory and the sheets of lasagne were being packed at the end of a line into plastic trays … The folding of the lasagne sheets was manually done by two lovely ladies at the end of the line. One day I was assessing the workplace and they were saying ‘we are getting back issues and sore wrists’ from this activity,” he said.

“Those same ladies were asked if they could do overtime, and they agreed.”

Mr Jones said it was certainly their right to take the overtime.

“But what they were also doing was saying ‘well we are getting ill, sore and uncomfortable from this activity, but we’re willing to put up with it or make it worse for the potential of the overtime pay’,” he said.

Take time out, improve communication

Mr Jones had one simple piece of advice, likely to appeal to many of us, on how to maintain your health at work.

“What you have is a legislative obligation not to put yourself at risk at work, or to create risk and ill health in others,” Mr Jones said.

“So if you go to work and you are grumpy, tired or angry, you might increase the risk of your workers and colleagues being injured.”

Mr Jones said when — within reason — people chose to take themselves out of that environment, they were doing their colleagues a favour.

“[If] you choose ‘I’m not going to go in today because I am not fit for work’, you are actually reducing the hazard that you might be presenting,” he said.

So take the odd sickie when you need it, ensure you get a lunch break, leave work on time and don’t forget to use your annual leave. It sounds like simple advice, but how often do we neglect these circuit breakers, putting work before our wellbeing?

Professor Ellis said employees — especially middle managers — also need to get better at talking to each other.

“One of the bits of feedback that I have got time and time again from people in lots of different sectors is that middle managers don’t know how to have the difficult conversation,” she said.

In her experience, she has found most of us want feedback from our boss or supervisor as long as they approach us in the right way.

“People actually like getting performance feedback. What they want is lots of informal feedback, as well as formal feedback,” she said.

“So if you have created that as the norm, it would be quite easy to sit down with you and say ‘look I have noticed that you’ve been late in a few times’ or ‘you have been late hitting your targets, is there something up?’ So you can couch it in the context of work but also asking the question and then taking it carefully after that.”

Train Your Brain To Let Go Of Habits – 10 Methods For Creating New Neural Pathways


train-your-brain-to-let-go-of-habits-10-steps-to-create-new-neural-pathways2

When you understand how neural pathways are created in the brain, you get a front row seat for truly comprehending how to let go of habits. Neural pathways are like superhighways of nerve cells that transmit messages. You travel over the superhighway many times, and the pathway becomes more and more solid. You may go to a specific food or cigarettes for comfort over and over, and that forms a brain pathway. The hopeful fact, however, is that the brain is always changing and you can forge new pathways and create new habits. That’s called the neuroplasticity of the brain.

I used to drive with one foot on the brake and the other on the accelerator, and I wanted to train myself to drive with one foot only. It took some time, as I had a strong neural pathway for two-footed driving. But because I had the will to do it, I built a new pathway, and I rewired or reprogrammed my brain. You can remove a behavior or thought or addictions directly from the brain.

Because of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ever-changing potentials, anything is possible. People who’ve had strokes can retrain their brains to function again by building new pathways. Smokers and overeaters and many others can learn new behaviors and attitudes and can transform their lives.

Whether you work with others on their habits or you work with your own (or both), you can apply these understandings to boost your success.

Some Powerful Ways to Retrain the Brain

1. Identity the habit you’d like to transform and set the intention.

You may remember the punch line “The light bulb has to want to change.”  You have to have a high intention to change as well. If there is this high intention, then creating new pathways in your brain is bound to happen.

2. Observe what the old habit or pathway is doing in your life.

Look at feelings, thoughts, and how the body is responding to the habit, and see what results you’re creating in your life. Be the witness, and  be aware.

3. Shift your focus.

This is very important. To create a new neural pathway, you take the focus off the old habit, and then that old habit eventually falls away. Don’t pay attention to the donuts and cakes. Take your awareness and focus it on good, wholesome, healthy delicious foods.

4. Use your imagination.

You can build new neural pathways not only with new behaviors, but through the imagination. Just imagine the new behaviors over and over and over. Keep repeating that in your mind so you build new pathways. Focus your mind and retrain your brain.

5. Interrupt your thoughts and patterns when they arise.

Say “no” or “cancel” when an old thought or impulse comes in, and say, “I don’t have to do that anymore.” Then turn toward the new neural pathway you’re building and keep on going in the right direction.

6. Use aversion therapy.

This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s an optional path. I like to call it “the maggots on the chocolate cake technique.” I used to love candies and sweets, and when I stopped eating them, I still had to pass by them when I walked by the candy store in town. I used aversion to train my brain to walk on by: “That’s junk,” I said to myself. “It’s made in factories, sickeningly sweet, makes me feel bad. The company makes it so sweet just to addict buyers. I don’t want any of that.” So I talk myself out of it. I’ve use it with many clients (only those who say they want it) on smoking, junk food, cocaine and many other behaviors.

7.  Create a specific plan and choose what to do instead.

When you get specific, it’s easier to build new neural pathways. You “make it official.”  Decide if you want to exercise instead of overeating or if you want to eat fruit instead of candy. Just keep focused on the new choice.  You may want to create affirmations and anchors to reinforce your choices. This can be “I’m free or “I’m in control.” Reinforce this with energy therapies like EFT or other techniques.

8. Transform the obstacles.

Look at what’s in the way. Look at secondary gain – what you’ve been getting out of the old habits or pathways. Look at the stress in your life and how you can handle it differently. Get your mind in the place of possibility. Handle the emotions and thoughts and get on a new superhighway in your mind.

9. Connect with your Higher Source for inspiration and support.

Listen to our guidance. Know you have the Force within you, and therefore you have great power. Meditation creates new pathways and brain changes. Actual studies have been done on the brains of monks to show meditation’s effect on neural circuits of the brain.

10. Transform and make the shift.

Know that transformation is always possible and that you can create new brain pathways whenever you’re ready to make the shift. When you keep your mind in the “I can do it!” space, you get a clear sense that you’re done with the old and on a new beam now.

Some people feel we’re being rewired spiritually for anew era. There’s great upheaval now in our world. And there’s a process of transformation happening on earth in which huge changes are taking place for all of humanity. You have to be present in the moment, overcome your fears, and get to know the Infinite source so you can be a vehicle for the light to predominate on the earth.

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