Chemicals in the water are turning male fish into females… is same thing happening in humans?


Chemicals in the water are turning male fish into females… is same thing happening in humans? – NaturalNews.com
https://www.naturalnews.com/052832_atrazine_endocrine-disrupting_chemicals_sex_changes.html

How Probiotics Can Help Your Gut Microbiome


How Probiotics Can Help Your Gut Microbiome
https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/01/03/gut-microbiome-probiotics.aspx?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=twittermercola_ranart&utm_campaign=20180329_gut-microbiome-probiotics

UK man has world-first case of super-strength gonorrhoea.


UK man has world-first case of super-strength gonorrhoea | Society | The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/mar/28/uk-man-super-strength-gonorrhoea?CMP=fb_gu

What Is Super Gonorrhea? U.K. Man’s STI Is World’s Worst Case of Super-Resistant Gonorrhea


What Is Super Gonorrhea? U.K. Man’s STI Is World’s Worst Case of Super-Resistant Gonorrhea
https://www.menshealth.com/health/a19630754/what-is-super-gonorrhea-a-guy-in-england-has-the-worlds-worst-case-of-it/?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=Social&utm_term=1445468821&utm_campaign=Men%27s%20Health

15 Signs You Are Settling for Less than You Deserve


15 Signs You Are Settling for Less than You Deserve

Settling for way less than you deserve is a trap in which we can all fall. It’s normal. But what isn’t normal is to continue to live our lives from that dreadful and unhappy place.

This list is not intended to scare you in any way nor is it meant to make you panic but rather to bring awareness to your life and make you see which areas of your life are in need of change.

15 Signs You Are Settling for Less than You Deserve

1. You have lost confidence

If you have lost confidence in your ability to live in alignment with your purpose and your inner sparkle is now gone, that is a clear sign you are settling for less than you deserve.

2. Money control your life

If the decisions you make, or don’t make are controlled by money – how little you have, how much it will cost, how hard it will be to make more once you spend it etc., then you are surely settling for way less than you deserve.

3. You work doesn’t excite you

If your work doesn’t bring you any joy and your paycheck is the only thing that excites you, then that is another clear sign you are settling.

4. Facts are more important than your faith

If facts, and what’s in front of you are always more important than your faith in yourself and your dreams, then you are settling.

5. Other people’s opinions are more important than your own

If the decisions you make, or don’t make are influenced by other people’s thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and expectations, then you are most definitely asking for way less than you deserve.

6. You are not excited to get up in the morning

If you’re not happy to get up in the morning and you have to drag yourself out of bed to start a new day, then you are settling.

7. You have lowered your standards

If you have lowered your standards just so you could fit certain people in your life – a romantic partner, a friend, co-worker, family member – that is a clear sign you are settling.

8. You waste time on the wrong people

If you don’t feel happy, vibrant, and alive around those you spend most of your time with, but rather drain you of your vital life force energy, that is a clear sign you are in need of a healthy change.

9. You don’t know how to have fun anymore

If laughter is no longer part of your life and fun seems like a foreign concept to you, you are settling.

10. You only see the dark side of things

If you can no longer see the beauty in things and darkness seems to be everywhere you look, you are settling.

11. You feel all alone

If you feel like you’re all alone in this world and nobody is there for you – to love, help, and support you, you are settling.

12. You live life on autopilot

If you’re mindlessly going through the motions and living each day on autopilot, you are settling.

13. You are rigid and stiff

If you think you know everything about everything and that nobody can teach you anything new, you are settling.

14. You’ve stopped caring

If you’ve stopped caring about yourself – about what you put into your body, how you look and feel, the people you surround yourself with, ., and the way things are, you are settling

15. You have lost touch with your Self

If you have little or no connection with your own Heart and Soul and your rational mind is the only one in charge of your life, you ar most definitely in need of a good change. 

Unearthed Correspondence Reveals How Sugar Industry Manipulated Nutritional Science for Decades


Story at-a-glance

  • Decades’ worth of research convincingly shows excess sugar damages your health, yet the sugar industry managed bury the evidence and cover it up with faux science that supports sugar as an important food
  • A historical analysis provides substantial evidence that the sugar industry has spent decades manipulating, molding and guiding nutritional research to exonerate sugar and shift the blame to saturated fat instead
  • Most studies giving sugar a free pass have obvious conflicted industry funding behind them. For example, one recent paper came to the unlikely conclusion that eating candy may help prevent weight gain

By Dr. Mercola

For years, we’ve been warned about the dangers of eating too much fat or salt, but health authorities and media have been relatively silent about sugar, despite rising obesity rates and failing health in just about every area that has adopted a Western processed food diet.

The sad truth is, there’s copious amounts of research, spanning many decades, showing that excess sugar damages your health in many ways, yet the sugar industry managed to bury the evidence and cover it up with faux science that supports its own claims, which is that sugar has little or nothing to do with weight gain and ill health.

To this day, they want you to continue believing the outdated myth that saturated fat is to blame instead of sugar, and the calories-in, calories-out myth. Fortunately, the truth is finally starting to see the light of day, and many brave souls have stepped up to the plate to expose and dismantle the orchestrated deception.

Sugar Deceptions Exposed

One of them is science journalist and author Gary Taubes, who in 2012 partnered with Dr. Cristin Kearns, a dentist and fellow at the University of California, San Francisco, to write “Big Sugar’s Sweet Little Lies.” In their exposé, featured in Mother Jones, they wrote:1

“For 40 years, the sugar industry’s priority has been to shed doubt on studies suggesting its product makes people sick. On federal panels, industry-funded scientists cited industry-funded studies to dismiss sugar as a culprit.”

His latest book, which will be released this fall, is “The Case Against Sugar.” I have read this book and will be interviewing Taubes shortly. If you ever had any doubt about how corrupted and influential the sugar industry is, then you simply must read this book.

Taubes delves into the systematic cover-up of science showing sugar indeed causes disease, and is the most likely culprit in our current health crises of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Gary’s book goes into far more detail than this or the featured New York Times article. 2

Dozens of scientists at three American universities have also banded together to create an educational website called SugarScience.org,3 aimed at making independent sugar research available to the public.

Kearns — interviewed by NPR above — is also making headlines with a new paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine,4 which details the sugar industry’s influence on dietary recommendations.5,6,7,8,9,10

Historical Analysis Shows Sugar Industry Manipulated Nutritional Science

Kearns’ historical analysis provides substantial proof that the sugar industry has spent decades manipulating, molding and guiding nutritional research to exonerate sugar and shift the blame to saturated fat instead. As reported by The New York Times:11

“The documents show that a trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation, known today as the Sugar Association, paid three Harvard scientists the equivalent of about $50,000 in today’s dollars to publish a 1967 review of research on sugar, fat and heart disease.

The studies used in the review were handpicked by the sugar group, and the article,12 which was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine [NEJM], minimized the link between sugar and heart health and cast aspersions on the role of saturated fat.

Even though the influence-peddling revealed in the documents dates back nearly 50 years, more recent reports show that the food industry has continued to influence nutrition science.”

Obnoxious Research That Should Raise Your Suspicions

Some of the studies giving sugar a free pass has industry fingerprints clearly visible all over it. For example, one recent paper13 came to the unbelievable and highly unlikely conclusion that eating candy may help prevent weight gain, as children who eat candy tend to weigh less than those who don’t.

The source of the funding reveals the basis for such a bizarre conclusion: The National Confectioners Association (NCA), which represents candy makers like Butterfingers, Hershey and Skittles.

Last year, Coca-Cola Co. was exposed funneling millions of dollars to an anti-obesity front group, paid to downplay the links between soda and obesity14 — a link that has been firmly established by many previous studies.

Evidence has also emerged showing how the sugar industry influenced the scientific agenda of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, which back in 1971 created a national caries program — again downplaying any links between sugar consumption and dental caries.15

The role of sugar in the diet of diabetics is even downplayed, despite its obvious risks. As noted by Kearns in the NPR interview above, diabetic literature often doesn’t even mention the need for restricting sugar.

Tragically, while type 2 diabetes can be successfully reversed with a proper low-sugar diet, the focus is placed on simply managing the condition through the use of insulin instead — a strategy that typically makes the condition worse.

Diabetics are also urged to use artificial sweeteners, even though studies have clearly shown that artificial sweeteners promote weight gain and worsen insulin sensitivity to a greater degree than sugar.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi-backed research, on the other hand, came to the disturbing and highly irresponsible conclusion that drinking diet soda was more helpful for weight loss than pure water.16

US Dietary Guidelines Were Tainted From the Start

According to Kearns’ historical analysis, one of the Harvard scientists paid to produce research for the sugar industry back in 1967 was Mark Hegsted, Ph.D., a nutrition researcher who passed away in 2009.

In 1977, while heading up the nutrition department at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Hegsted helped draft an early document that eventually became the U.S. dietary guidelines.

In the decades since, U.S. health officials have urged Americans to adopt a low-fat diet to prevent heart disease, and as a result, people switched to processed low-fat, high-sugar foods instead.

This, it turns out, is the REAL recipe for heart disease, yet by taking control of and shaping the scientific discussion, the sugar and processed food industries managed to keep these facts under wraps all these years. The end result is clearly visible in the health statistics of today.

In an accompanying editorial,17 Marion Nestle, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, writes:

“From a deep dive into archival documents from the 1950s and 1960s, they have produced compelling evidence that a sugar trade association not only paid for but also initiated and influenced research expressly to exonerate sugar as a major risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD).”

Shaping Public Opinion Through Research and Legislative Programs

The records, which number around 1,500, include hundreds of pages of letters and correspondence between scientists, nutritionists and sugar executives. The documents were found in the archives of now-defunct sugar companies, as well as in the library records of deceased university researchers who played key roles in the industry’s strategy.

The records reveal that as far back as 1964 — a time when researchers had begun suspecting a relationship between high-sugar diets and heart disease — John Hickson, a sugar industry executive, introduced a plan for how the sugar industry could influence public opinion “through our research and information and legislative programs.”

As reported in the featured article:18 “Hickson proposed countering the alarming findings on sugar with industry-funded research. ‘Then we can publish the data and refute our detractors,’ he wrote.”

This idea is what led to the hiring of Hegsted and two other Harvard scientists to review and debunk the studies linking sugary diets with heart disease. “I think it’s appalling,” Nestle told The New York Times.19 “You just never see examples that are this blatant.”

Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, also noted that the documents are a potent reminder of “why research should be supported by public funding rather than depending on industry funding.” Unfortunately, it will take a lot to make such a shift. Even clamping down on conflicts of interest is turning out to be difficult. As Nestle told Bloomberg:20

“I, for example, have been told repeatedly that since I wrote ‘Food Politics,’ I am ineligible to serve on federal advisory committees because I am too biased. What this tells me is that people who on principle refuse to take food industry funding are excluded from the candidate pool. But people who do take industry funding are considered acceptable as long as they disclose their financial ties appropriately which, unfortunately, many do not.”

Sugar Industry Responds

Meanwhile, the Sugar Association remains steadfast in its course, responding to Kearns’ paper by saying:21 “We question this author’s continued attempts to reframe historical occurrences to conveniently align with the currently trending anti-sugar narrative, particularly when the last several decades of research have concluded that sugar does not have a unique role in heart disease.”

It’s interesting to note that the sugar industry’s primary defense is to lean on a “scientific foundation” of research tainted by their own conclusions! Take their response to British nutritionist John Yudkin’s work for example. In 1972, Yudkin published the book, “Pure White and Deadly,” in which he presented decades of research pointing at dietary sugar — rather than fat — as the underlying factor in obesity and diabetes.

In response, the Sugar Association secretly funded a white paper called “Sugar in the Diet of Man,” which claimed sugar was not only safe and healthy, but an important “energy” food. “Scientists Dispel Sugar Fears,” reads the headline of the Sugar Association’s press release.22 And, while they funded the paper in question, they made it appear to be an independent study.

The Sugar Association’s biggest apologist was Ancel Keys, Ph.D., who, with industry funding, helped destroy Yudkin’s reputation by discrediting him and labeling him a quack. The smear campaign was a huge success, bringing sugar research to a screeching halt. Like the tobacco and chemical industries, those who profit from sugar have become very adept at crushing dissenting voices, including those in the halls of science.

By silencing sugar critics, the sugar industry was able to continue the promotion of saturated fat as the dietary villain, despite its lack of scientific support. The 21st century brought super-sized sodas along with super-sized health problems, and the food industry continues to look the other way — hoping you won’t catch on to the truth.

Just as Big Tobacco angled to place the blame for cancer elsewhere, Big Sugar has scrambled for cover, borrowing Big Tobacco tactics such as undermining science, intimidating scientists and subverting public health policy.

How Much Sugar Is Too Much?

According to a 2014 study,23 more than 7 out of 10 American adults get at least 10 percent of their daily calories from added sugar; 1 in 10 get 25 percent or more of their daily calories from added sugars. It also found that:

  • People who consumed 21 percent or more of their daily calories in the form of sugar were twice as likely to die from heart disease compared to those who got 7 percent or less of their daily calories from added sugar
  • The risk nearly tripled among those who got 25 percent or more of their calories from sugar

More recent research shows that high-sugar diets are also a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease in children — and pose a significant risk even far below current levels of consumption. As noted in the latest scientific statement on children’s sugar consumption from the American Heart Association (AHA):24

“Strong evidence supports the association of added sugars with increased cardiovascular disease risk in children through increased energy intake, increased adiposity, and dyslipidemia … [I]t is reasonable to recommend that children consume ≤25 g[rams] (100 cal[ories] or ≈ 6 teaspoons) of added sugars per day and to avoid added sugars for children <2 years of age.”

According to the AHA, kids eat on average 19 teaspoons of added sugar a day — about three times more than recommended, and the evidence clearly indicates that this dietary trend goes hand-in-hand with our current epidemics of obesity and chronic disease. A single can of soda or fruit punch can contain about 40 grams of sugar, making sweetened drinks particularly risky for young children.

Breakfast cereals, cereal bars, bagels and pastries also tend to contain high amounts of added sugars. For the longest time, there was no real cutoff recommendation for sugar, aside from recommendations to eat sugar “in moderation” — something that is virtually impossible to do if you’re eating processed foods. Thankfully, this is finally changing. The AHA now recommends limiting daily addedsugar intake to:25,26,27,28,29,30,31

  • 9 teaspoons (38 grams) for men
  • 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for women
  • 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for toddlers and teens between the ages of 2 and 18
  • Zero added sugars for kids under the age of 2

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has also issued sugar recommendations, suggesting kids between the ages of 4 and 8 limit their added sugar to a maximum of 3 teaspoons a day (12 grams), and children age 9 and older stay below 8 teaspoons. While I agree with the 25 gram max as a general recommendation for healthy people, in my view, virtually everyone would benefit from the under age 2 recommendation.

Tips for Reducing Your Added Sugar Intake

One of the easiest and most rapid ways to dramatically cut down on your added sugar and fructose consumption is to simply eat real food, as most of the added sugar you end up with comes from processed foods. Other ways to cut down on the sugar in your diet includes:

  • Cutting down, with the aim of eliminating, sugar you personally add to your food and drink or consume in the form of processed foods and sweetened beverages
  • Using Stevia or Luo Han instead of sugar and/or artificial sweeteners. You can learn more about the best and worst of sugar substitutes in my previous article, “Sugar Substitutes — What’s Safe and What’s Not
  • Using fresh fruit in lieu of canned fruit or sugar for meals or recipes calling for a bit of sweetness
  • Using spices instead of sugar to add flavor to your meal

Light pollution is altering plant and animal behaviour


Light pollution can be problematic for animals like the Cory’s shearwater. Image credit – Airam Rodríguez (Estación Biológica de Doñana CSIC), licensed under CC BY 4.0

You could call it fatal attraction. Drawn by artificial lights in our brightening night-time world, animals find their lives in peril.

Fledgling birds disorientated by lights can collide with human structures on the ground and then get hit by cars, or become more vulnerable to predation, starvation or dehydration. Or newly hatched turtles may set out in the opposite direction to the sea, exposing themselves to similar dangers.

And our skies are getting brighter. A recent study found that our planet’s artificially lit outdoor area grew by about 2% each year between 2012 and 2016, while already lit areas brightened at the same rate.

‘Global growth in lighting at that kind of level is quite profound,’ said Kevin Gaston, a professor of biodiversity and conservation at the University of Exeter, UK. ‘We know that lighting is getting steadily worse.’

Researchers say one big problem has been a lack of awareness about light pollution. That is growing, but in the meantime, certain factors are potentially heightening its impact.

For example, white light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have been swiftly replacing traditional outdoor lighting such as yellow sodium street lights because of their higher energy efficiency. But because they emit light across a broad part of the visible spectrum, LEDs can affect a wider range of photosensitive cells in different organisms.

‘The negative consequences of light pollution are as unknown by the population as those of smoking in the 80s.’

Professor Oscar Corcho, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain

In a project called ECOLIGHTS FOR SEABIRDS, which ran from 2014 to the end of 2016, researchers found that the threat to fledgling shearwaters of being grounded on Phillip Island in south-eastern Australia was higher from broader-spectra metal halide and LED lights than from sodium lights. This suggests that using certain types of lights in different areas could be used to limit the effects on these birds.

Grounded

Separate studies on the Spanish island of Tenerife found that half of the Cory’s shearwater fledglings grounded around lights were within 3 kilometres of their nest sites and tended to be from inland colonies.

Dr Airam Rodríguez, a postdoctoral researcher at Doñana Biological Station in Seville, Spain, who worked on the project, said that knowing such information makes it easier to do things such as arrange safe corridors between breeding colonies and the ocean.

Many effects of light pollution on such seabirds have been poorly understood before, because of factors such as their breeding in remote locations and the fact they need to be tracked at night. Advances in technology are helping though, with the team using miniature GPS trackers and nocturnal high-resolution satellite imagery to follow the birds’ routes.

Dr Rodríguez said his team is now using GPS to look in more detail at what happens to birds rescued after being grounded by lights during their first days out on the ocean. He would also like to look more into the physiology of their eyes to find out which wavelengths the birds are more sensitive to.

Another little-known facet has been how much artificial lighting affects whole communities of organisms rather than just individual species, but recent research shows the effects can be significant.

As part of a project called ECOLIGHT, which finished last year, researchers set up 54 outdoor experimental environments, known as mesocosms, at the University of Exeter. These took the form of mesh-covered containers that held different combinations of plants, invertebrates and types of lighting, or were unlit. From this, they discovered that lighting seemed to suppress the flowering of the trefoil Lotus pedunculatus, and, in turn, the pea aphid population that feeds on them.

The team found similar effects in an experiment with bean plants and aphids.

Container-based experiments at the University of Exeter showed that lighting seemed to suppress the flowering of pea and bean plants and affected the aphid population that feeds on them. Image credit - James Duffy

Container-based experiments at the University of Exeter showed that lighting seemed to suppress the flowering of pea and bean plants and affected the aphid population that feeds on them. Image credit – James Duffy

Pervasive

Prof. Gaston, who was principal investigator on ECOLIGHT and also used field experiments to investigate the impact of light pollution, said: ‘This leads to the conclusion that lighting is having pretty pervasive ecological impacts. The effects are exceedingly widespread and are shaping the way that communities are structured – which was something that people hadn’t observed before.’

He also pointed to other research showing that bud burst in trees can happen a week earlier in the brightest compared with the darkest areas. ‘When we’ve discovered these kinds of things for climate change and they’ve shifted by about a week, we’ve said that’s profoundly worrying,’ he said.

His team is now looking more into the impacts of different intensities and colours of lights to build a more detailed picture.

In addition, they are scouring through images of Earth photographed by astronauts on the International Space Station so they can map how the colours of lights are changing as cities introduce more white LEDs.

Prof. Gaston explained that satellites are effectively colour-blind to the shift to white light, so using the pictures that astronauts take is a good way to track this, with about half a million pictures taken at night between 2003 and 2015.

This work complements the Cities at Night project, a citizen science initiative that gets help from volunteers to classify, locate and georeference these pictures.

A composite image of the Earth at night shows changes in light intensity between 2012 and 2016 including, for example, rapid electrification in India. Image credit - NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

A composite image of the Earth at night shows changes in light intensity between 2012 and 2016 including, for example, rapid electrification in India. Image credit – NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Also involved in Cities at Night is the STARS4ALL project, coordinated by Oscar Corcho, a professor at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid in Spain, which acts as a platform to raise awareness of the issues involved in light pollution and inspire further research and better planning in lighting programmes. It seeks to engage people through methods such as games, broadcasting of astronomical events and a citizen-sensor network of low-cost photometers for people to measure light pollution in their area.

‘The negative consequences of light pollution are as unknown by the population as those of smoking in the (19)80s,’ said Prof. Corcho. ‘It’s still a very difficult problem to understand. Light pollution does not have the same immediate effects over animals as other forms of pollution.’

Regulation

Prof. Corcho said that one of STARS4ALL’s main aims this year is to run a petition on its website to ask for more overarching regulation to avoid light pollution at an EU level. STARS4ALL will collect signatures from citizens and hopes to present the petition in Brussels by the end of the year.

He says the good news is that there are easy fixes. ‘There are good technology options. For instance, there are types of lamps that could be used that are both respectful to the environment in terms of light pollution and at the same time as energy-efficient as white LEDs.’ He cites PC amber LEDs, for example.

If we move to solve these issues, there might well be an added bonus for us all. ‘As an indirect result… our recommendations for public lighting may result in having more populated places where we can see more and more stars in our sky,’ said Prof. Corcho.

Genetic profiling could improve IVF success


There are three sources of variability in fertility – genetics, the family environment and the individual environment.

Genetic profiling could help determine whether an embryo created through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) is likely to successfully transfer to the womb, increasing the success rate of the procedure.

It’s part of a field of work looking at the role of genetics in fertility.

‘Understanding why some people do not have children, and developing treatments for them is extremely important,’ said Joris Vermeesch, professor of molecular cytogenetics and genome research at KU Leuven in Belgium. ‘People sometimes spend years of their life trying to get pregnant, and it doesn’t work.’

Despite advances in IVF, its success for each cycle – counted via the so-called baby take-home rate – is only 30%. But a project called SARM, led by Prof. Vermeesch, aimed to improve that figure by looking at ways to identify which embryos were unlikely to survive in the womb.

Already, in 2009, scientists at KU Leuven had discovered that most early IVF embryos were unstable — at high risk of having the wrong number of chromosomes or loss or gain of chromosomal fragments. This made them much less likely to develop properly, leading to failed embryo transfers — and frustration for prospective parents.

Prof. Vermeesch led that initial research. As part of SARM he and his team wanted to find a better a way to detect those imbalances, a method they could apply in IVF to boost its chances of success.

Experiments in human fertility are constrained by ethical boundaries. The scientists worked with cow embryos because bovine reproductive systems mirror those of humans at this stage of embryonic development.

Haplotyping

Using a technique called haplotyping, which determines which gene sets come from which parents, the researchers succeeded in analysing the genetic make-up of an embryo’s cells. This new technique allowed them to determine which embryos are chromosomally unstable and which are more likely to thrive.

The same technology can identify whether an embryo is affected by genetic disease. To reduce the risk of transmission, clinics can simply decide not to transfer those embryos.

‘If we can do these tests on all IVF embryos it’s possible and likely that the success rate of IVF will increase,’ Prof. Vermeesch said. ‘You eliminate those embryos with chromosomal abnormalities and you only transfer those with fewer or no abnormalities.’

Infertility affects 10% of couples in the world, a growing demographic challenge with a human cost. Embarking on having a family later in life is one clear cause, poor lifestyles another, but reproductive health isn’t just about age or wellbeing — some of it is also in our genes.

Scientists exploring the role of genetics in these trends have found that heritability plays a significant part, which is not yet well understood.

‘If we can do these tests on all IVF embryos it’s possible and likely that the success rate of IVF will increase.’

Joris Vermeesch, KU Leuven, Belgium

If there are few environmental constraints and a population cohort follows certain social norms — taking the pill and living through the era of sexual liberation, or postponing childbearing because of pressures in the job or housing market — then genetic factors become more of a factor in the differences in reproductive fertility.

Some problems, like endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome or premature menopause, are highly genetic, says Dr Nicola Barban from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, UK.

Dr Barban is a scientific collaborator on Sociogenome, a project run by Professor Melinda Mills at the University of Oxford, UK, that looks at how infertility is influenced by genetics and environment. It’s the first study to look at these two factors together.

‘What we know is that some women can conceive when they’re in their 40s or late 40s, and some women have problems much earlier in time,’ he explained. ‘We are (investigating) the end of the reproductive window where there’s more variability due to genetics.’

One strand of the project looked at the role of genetics compared with environment and individual choice and studied differences between identical twins, who share 100% of their genome, and fraternal twins, who share 50% of their genomes. The research found that genes make up 15-45% of the factors that determine the number of children a person ends up having, depending on the sample.

Dr Barban stresses that the methods could not be used to predict when an individual might have children because other factors are also involved. ‘Think of three possible sources of variability,’ he said. ‘Genetics, the family environment, the individual environment.’

In 2010, around 48.5 million couple worldwide were unable to have a baby after five years of trying. Image credit - Horizon

Data pool

Next, the Sociogenome researchers wanted to analyse the genome itself. To create their bank of data, the team persuaded 250 other scientists to share their records and formed a massive data pool — roughly 251,000 participants of European ancestry for age at first birth and 343,000 for number of children ever born.

They focused on demographic traits that both men and women share. While fertility research has traditionally focused on the female patient, researchers on Sociogenome wanted to look at both men and women.

‘Much of the research on infertility is on women only but we think that both men and women should be studied,’ Dr Barban said.

This strand of the project probed which parts of individual genes affect child-bearing. It identified 12 genetic loci, or parts of the gene, that can explain around 1% of variation in the age at which a person has their first baby — which may not seem like a lot. But although the results don’t say much about individual fertility at a population level they’re significant, Dr Barban says, because understanding 1% of the genetic predisposition of thousands of people builds a picture of a population’s fertility.

The next phase, with 800,000 participants, aims to show which parts of the gene are expressed in hormones, brain activity and other biological processes — shedding further light on why some people are more fertile than others.

All this doesn’t yet answer the tricky questions of why a particular individual is infertile but it lays the ground for a more sophisticated understanding of the causes of infertility.

‘I think finding the genes that are connected with some of these biological mechanisms could be a very first step towards drug development,’ Dr Barban said.

What Are Sugar Alcohols?


Sugar alcohols are sweeteners that have about half the calories of regular sugar. They occur naturally in certain fruits and vegetables, but some are man-made and are added to processed foods.

Many foods labeled “sugar free” or “no sugar added” have sugar alcohols in them. You might see these names on the ingredient list:

  • Erythritol
  • Maltitol
  • Mannitol
  • Sorbitol
  • Xylitol
  • Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH)
  • Isomalt

Food companies often combine sugar alcohols with artificial sweeteners to make foods taste sweeter. If you’re trying to lose weight, you might benefit from swapping sugar alcohols for sugar and other higher-calorie sweeteners.

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Besides being lower in calories, sugar alcohols don’t cause cavities, which is why they’re used in sugar-free gum and mouthwash. Sugar alcohols also create a cooling sensation when used in large amounts, which works well with mint flavors.

You may see sugar alcohols as ingredients in many lower-calorie and sugar-free foods like energy bars, ice cream, pudding, frosting, cakes, cookies, candies, and jams. And in spite of their name, sugar alcohols aren’t alcoholic.

How They Work

Your small intestine doesn’t absorb sugar alcohols well, so fewer calories get into your body. But because sugar alcohols aren’t completely absorbed, if you eat too many you might get gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Foods that have mannitol or sorbitol in them include a warning on the package that eating a lot of these foods could make them act like a laxative.

Check the Label

To find out if a food or beverage contains sugar alcohols, check the Nutrition Facts Label on the packaging. It shows the amount in grams (g) of total carbs and sugars under Total Carbohydrate and the Percent Daily Value (%DV) of total carbs per serving.

Food manufacturers sometimes include grams of sugar alcohols per serving on the label, but they don’t have to. The specific name may be listed, such as xylitol, or the general term “sugar alcohol” may be used. But if the packaging includes a statement about the health effects of sugar alcohols, manufacturers have to list the amount per serving.

If You Have Diabetes

Sugar alcohols can be part of a healthy eating plan when you need to manage diabetes. Unlike artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols are a kind of carb and can raise blood sugar levels, though not as much as sugar.

You’ll need to count carbs and calories from sugar alcohols in your overall meal plan. Foods labeled “sugar free” or “no sugar added” might seem like “free” foods you can eat as much of as you like, but overeating them can make your blood sugar levels very high.

If you’re counting carbs and the food has more than 5 grams of sugar alcohols, subtract half of the sugar alcohol grams from total carb grams. For example, if the label lists “Total Carbohydrate 25 g” and “Sugar Alcohol 10 g,” do this math:

  • Divide sugar alcohol grams in half = 5 g
  • Subtract 5 g from Total Carbohydrate: 25 g – 5 g = 20 g
  • Count 20 g of carbs in your meal plan

One exception: If erythritol is the only sugar alcohol listed, subtract all of the grams of sugar alcohol from Total Carbohydrate.

If you need help creating a meal plan or managing carbs, ask your doctor or dietitian for guidance.

To Floss or Not to Floss?


Your dentist has probably been telling you to floss for years. If you’ve resisted that advice, you’ve got a lot of company: 36% of Americans would rather do something unpleasant, like clean the toilet, than wedge waxed string between their teeth.

That’s why many cheered at a news report that flossing might not be necessary. The Associated Press reviewed 25 studies and concluded that flossing didn’t have proven health benefits.

Adding to the anti-flossing evidence, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) have removed it from their guidelines for good oral health.

Should You Toss Your Floss?

Not so fast. Many dental experts aren’t on board.

“While the research on [the connection between] flossing and cavities is hazy, the research on flossing’s role in preventing gum disease is much clearer,” says Leena Palomo DDS, an associate professor of periodontics at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. “That’s why dentists, hygienists, and periodontists continue to recommend flossing.”

One review of 12 studies found that people who brushed and flossed regularly were less likely to have bleeding gums. They had lower levels of gum inflammation (called gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease), too.

“Food that’s left between teeth causes gum inflammation andtooth decay. Flossing is the only way to remove it. A toothbrush just can’t get between teeth,” says dentistry professor Sivan Finkel, DMD, of New York University College of Dentistry.

The Flossing-Health Connection

About half of all Americans have gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. That’s a chronic inflammatory disease that shows up when bacteria in plaque (a sticky film that forms on your teeth) below the gum line cause swelling and irritation. Left untreated, it can lead to receding gums and tooth loss.

Gum disease is also linked to heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, premature birth, and many other health conditions. “Your mouth is a mirror for the rest of your body,” Palomo says.

The connection between gum disease and health isn’t entirely clear. Some scientists think more bacteria left in your mouth end up in your bloodstream, where they may contribute to inflammation in other areas, like your heart. What experts do know is that people who don’t have gum disease are less likely to have health problems like heart disease.

“Flossing removes debris that contains bacteria that cause gum disease,” Palomo says.

Nothing to Lose

The American Academy of Periodontology and the American Dental Association recommend flossing. “It makes sense to get dental advice from these dental organizations,” Palomo says.

In fact, many dentists and periodontists say the reason they recommend flossing isn’t because of research. Instead, it’s because of what they see in their patients.

“In my practice, it’s clear that people who floss daily have healthier gums and keep their teeth longer,” Finkel says. “In fact, patients who have early-stage cavities often reverse that decay by flossing daily as well as brushing and maintaining good oral hygiene.”

When his patients question whether it’s worth it, Finkel says he tells them this: “It takes less than a minute, and there’s literally no downside to doing it. But if you skip it, sooner or later you — and your dentist — will notice a difference.”