Healthy How-To Event: Spring Cleaning

 

According to an Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) investigation of more than 2,000 cleaning supplies sold in the US,  found that many contain substances linked to serious health problems. EWG concludes that:

  • Fumes from some cleaning products may induce asthma in otherwise healthy individuals. A large and growing body of evidence links frequent use of many ordinary cleaning supplies at home or on the job with development of asthma and other respiratory problems. It is already known that cleaning product fumes may trigger attacks in persons previously diagnosed with asthma.
  • Common cleaning ingredients can be laced with the carcinogenic impurity 1,4-dioxane. Independent tests have detected the presence of 1,4-dioxane in numerous name-brand cleaning supplies. Other products contain preservatives that release low levels of cancer-causing formaldehyde.
  • Children born to women who held cleaning jobs while pregnant have an elevated risk of birth defects, according to a 2010 study by the New York State Department of Health.
  • Some cleaners can cause chemical burns and poisonings as well as less severe irritations and allergies. A severe physical reactions signal that consumers should take care anytime they use these products.
  • Despite these health concerns, cleaning product labels often do not give consumers enough information about their ingredients to allow people to make informed decisions on which ones are safer and which ones might harm their health.

Government agencies and independent research institutions have not adequately evaluated the safety of numerous substances found in cleaning products. Although government scientific and regulatory agencies have focused considerable attention on chemicals suspected of causing cancer, they have devoted far fewer resources to evaluating substances that may be toxic to the brain and nervous system, the hormone system and other organs. Investigating the full range of risks of cleaning products to public health and the environment should be an urgent priority. Yet the problem remains largely hidden from the view of the American consumer.

Inadequate assessment of the long-term health consequences of chronic exposure to potent chemicals in cleaning products stems in large part from the absence of federal regulations requiring safety tests and setting legally-binding upper limits on toxic ingredients and impurities. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is nominally responsible for overseeing dangerous cleaning products, but has focused on child-safe packaging and other measures to prevent accidents.

Sound chemical policy is critical to identifying and removing from commerce harmful chemicals in everyday products like cleaning supplies. In the meantime, the EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning can be a valuable tool in helping consumers to reduce their exposures to products known to contain harmful ingredients.

Learn more about cleaners and:

Dangers of laundry pods to children: http://snip.ly/mPX4

Friday during the Healthy How-to Spring Cleaning webinar, I will share my all natural cleaning options, better for your health & SAFER for your kids! Register today!

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LA Market Selling Whole Raccoons Under Investigation

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LA Market Selling Whole Raccoons as Food Under Investigation

Los Angeles County Health Department inspectors uncovered whole raccoons being sold as meat at the Metro Supermarket in the Temple City neighborhood.

This isn’t a case of accidental contamination like the horsemeat scandal that plagued Europe last year; these were entire raccoons, frozen and bagged and selling for $9.99 a pound.

According to CBS2, which broke the story, a customer, Christina Dow, was shopping in the market and noticed the frozen raccoons. She took video of them on her mobile phone and shared it on social media, alerting the Health Department.

“The way it’s packaged in the store, it’s so real, and it’s so fresh, and you don’t see chickens with their feathers and blood all over them, and their expression, with their tongue hanging out,” Dow said to CBS.

LAist took a slightly different approach to the story: “The latest in cultural panic comes to us this week from Temple City, where a supermarket has pulled frozen raccoons from their shelves after a complaint from a customer who’s not used to seeing meat with the head still on.”

Eating raccoon meat, like eating dogs, is a common delicacy in China. But whether or not it’s illegal in LA county is still unclear. According to CBS2, a number of local health agencies, and the LA County District Attorney’s office could not confirm whether “selling raccoons as food was legal or not.”

Employees of Metro Supermarket told CBS that the store has been selling raccoon meat “for years” without any issue.

The LAist writer points the finger at Dow for the investigation, criticizing her for a lack of exposure to world culture, “Christina Dow freaked out because it was her first time in an ethnic supermarket. Next time go to Ralphs, lady.”

An ethnic food or not, though, source is an issue for a number of reasons, including the safety of the raccoon “meat.” Animal products are inspected by the USDA in the U.S. for safety and humane treatment. Raccoons imported illegally, or worse, trapped here on the streets of LA, could put consumers’ health at risk.

Raccoons, like dogs and pigs, are incredibly smart animals, capable of crafty problem-solving and mischief.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Live Well: Weekend Organic, Homemade Brunch

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Do This: Make an Organic, Homemade Brunch this Weekend

I love going out to brunch, but who doesn’t, really? Brunch menus typically include a Bloody Mary or Mimosa choice, as well as breakfast potatoes. That’s all I need to kick off my weekend on a positive note. Brunch prices, though, can be a bit steep. Also: Do you really want to fight for a table with the hungry crowds this weekend? I think not.

So, we’ve rounded up a few recipes you can whip up quickly and without exerting too much energy. Seriously: A homemade brunch is easier to make than you would think.

Start off with a beverage. Whether you dig on a bit of booze in the morning, or a coffee jolt, (or both), you can make either one of these mid-morning treats easily.

A Bloody Mary is all about the garnishes. If you stick to a simple recipe, and really dedicate time to arranging your cocktail’s garnishes, everyone will be impressed. Some great garnishes include celery sticks, olives, and my favorite – pepperoncinis. This is a homemade brunch staple.

But if you can’t do booze in the morning, no worries. You can easily make a special hot drink to satiate your thirst. For example, make any one of these coffee recipes. (We’ve got recipes for Mexican Coffee, Spiced Honey Coffee, and Coconut Cream Coffee.) All are remarkably simple to make and full of heartwarming spices.

Brunch isn’t all about specialty drinks. It’s also about hearty meals.

As I alluded to earlier, I really love breakfast potatoes. If you want to make a killer potato recipe that’s a bit unique, give this Zaatar Roasted Potatoes recipe a spin.

Now, you don’t want your meal to be carb-heavy (you’re not looking to nap right after you eat), add a protein-packed main dish to your spread. Now, I’m vegan, so I love this scrambled tofu recipe. But if you dig on eggs and meat, give the following brunch recipes a try:

Breakfast Sausage Recipe with Maple and Fennel

Organic Scrambled Eggs With Black Truffle Oil & Avocado

If you’re looking for a sweet side, you can never go wrong with sliced, seasonal, fresh fruit.

Do you regularly make a homemade brunch?

Related on Organic Authority

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Breakfast Pizza Recipe: G’Mornin to You

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Vegan Apple Cake Recipe with Cardamom

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apple cake

This vegan apple cake recipe  with cardamom is reminiscent of apple pie, only without the excess sugar, butter and labor inherent in the traditional recipe.

Instead, this version is a light cake with a sweet, floral touch of cardamom. Better yet, it’s entirely vegan and something for which you don’t have to feel guilty going in for seconds.

Enjoy the benefits of seasonal apples and the nutritional aspects of the spicy cardamom pod, which is revered in India for its many health benefits.

Vegan Apple Cake with Cardamom

Serves 10-15

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sweet, crisp red apples, cut into small cubes
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flax seeds mixed into 6 tablespoons water)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper or generously grease the pan with coconut oil or vegan butter. Place the cubed apples in a bowl and cover with water and the juice of one lemon. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine the whole-wheat pastry flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom and ½ cup turbinado sugar. In another bowl, whisk together the flax eggs, coconut milk and coconut oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold lightly. Drain the soaking apples and fold the cubes into the mixture. Fold until evenly combined.

Pour the batter into the lined pan and spread. Evenly sprinkle 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar atop the cake surface. Pop into the oven for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from the center and the top is golden brown.

Related on Organic Authority

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New research finds autism genes activate during fetal development

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Mutations that cause autism in children are connected to a pathway that regulates brain development, scientists have found. The researchers studied a set of well-known autism mutations called copy number variants or CNVs. They investigated when and where the genes were expressed during brain development.

Autism mutations may influence brain size through RhoA pathway during fetal brain development. Credit: UC San Diego School of Medicine

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have found that mutations that cause autism in children are connected to a pathway that regulates brain development. The research, led by Lilia Iakoucheva, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry, is published in the February 18 issue of Neuron.

The researchers studied a set of well-known autism mutations called copy number variants or CNVs. They investigated when and where the genes were expressed during brain development. “One surprising thing that we immediately observed was that different CNVs seemed to be turned on in different developmental periods,” said Iakoucheva.

Specifically, the scientists noted that one CNV located in a region of the genome known as 16p11.2, contained genes active during the late mid-fetal period. Ultimately, they identified a network of genes that showed a similar pattern of activation including KCTD13 within 16p11.2 and CUL3, a gene from a different chromosome that is also mutated in children with autism.

“The most exciting moment for us was when we realized that the proteins encoded by these genes form a complex that regulates the levels of a third protein, RhoA,” said Iakoucheva. Rho proteins play critical roles in neuronal migration and brain morphogenesis at early stages of brain development. “Suddenly, everything came together and made sense.”

Further experiments confirmed that CUL3 mutations disrupt interaction with KCTD13, suggesting that 16p11.2 CNV and CUL3 may act via the same RhoA pathway. RhoA levels influence head and body size in zebrafish, a model organism used by geneticists to investigate gene functions. Children with 16p11.2 CNV also have enlarged or decreased head sizes and suffer from obesity or are underweight. “Our model fits perfectly with what we observe in the patients,” said Guan Ning Lin, PhD, a fellow in Iakoucheva’s laboratory and co-first author with Roser Corominas, PhD.

Interestingly, the RhoA pathway has recently been implicated in a rare form of autism called Timothy syndrome, which is caused by the mutation in a completely different gene. “The fact that three different types of mutations may act via the same pathway is remarkable,” said Iakoucheva. “My hope is that we would be able to target it therapeutically.”

Iakoucheva and colleagues are planning to test RhoA pathway inhibitors using a stem cell model of autism. “If we can discover the precise mechanism and develop targeted treatments for a handful of children, or even for a single child with autism, I would be happy,” she said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California – San Diego. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Guan Ning Lin, Roser Corominas, Irma Lemmens, Xinping Yang, Jan Tavernier, David E. Hill, Marc Vidal, Jonathan Sebat, Lilia M. Iakoucheva. Spatiotemporal 16p11.2 Protein Network Implicates Cortical Late Mid-Fetal Brain Development and KCTD13-Cul3-RhoA Pathway in Psychiatric Diseases.Neuron, 2015; 85 (4): 742 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.01.010

Cite This Page:

University of California – San Diego. “Autism genes activate during fetal brain development.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 February 2015.

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Introduction to essential oils: Safety, Efficacy & Application

The Basics of essential oil therapy including safety, efficacy and various application methods.
The PDF that accompanies this presentation can be viewed at http://1drv.ms/1DqJuyJ

Or you can view the office mix version, click here

Don’t miss the Fabulous February Promotion:

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To learn more, please click here for complete details!

Be Well!

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Fabulous February dōTERRA Promotion: Free Essential Oils

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Having access to the pure, potent gifts of dōTERRA has been such a blessing to my family. And I would LOVE to share that gift with YOU!

If you would like to live a more natural lifestyle, there is no better time to enroll in a wholesale dōTERRA account than RIGHT NOW! My team is offering some exciting, exclusive promotions that are only available until the end of February.

For new wholesale account enrollments:

Spend 100PV get  50PV free
Spend 100PV in February + 100PV LRP order  in March = 150PV FREE oils
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Send me your referrals and I will give you a 35PV bonus!

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The big business of deception

Worldwide, counterfeiting accounts for more than half a trillion dollars, or 5% to 7%, of world trade each year. Counterfeiters are involved in the illegal production of knock-offs in virtually every conceivable area – food, clothes,…

The big business of deception

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Subscribe for the latest in Holistic Health from Enlightened Lotus Wellness Founder, Ellice Campbell, Arapahoe County Holistic Health Examiner @examinercom

8 Companies That Use BPA-Free Lining In Canned Foods

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Companies That Use Bisphenol A Free Lining In Their Canned Foods

 

Looking for BPA-free canned goods? You should be, and for good reason.

The amount of bisphenol A (BPA) found in the lining of canned foods varies, but overall levels are small. Even still, scientists aren’t sure whether low exposure is dangerous. The chemical has been linked to all sorts of health conditions including heart disease, cancers, and developmental problems. Studies have even found that bisphenol A can lower sperm counts in men.

BPA is a main ingredient in epoxy resins which extend the shelf life of canned foods. Canned foods have been found to contain the highest amounts of the chemical, though smaller amounts also show up in plastic containers as well.

“Even if the levels are considered low, there are multiple sources of BPA and you don’t just eat one thing in a day,” said John Meeker, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor, reported on Discovery News. “There are a number of animal studies suggesting that there are health effects at lower levels than those thought to be acceptable. That’s consistent with a number of new human studies related to health outcomes.”

Choosing more fresh foods is one way to avoid BPA, but in a pinch, we all choose canned foods once in a while. I’m likely not going to make my own coconut milk and in the winter, canned tomatoes are a must. Cutting back is certainly an option, but sometimes the can comes in handy.

“To the best of our knowledge, there is no government agency that does regular screening of our food for toxic chemicals,” Meeker said. “If these were to be done, we might detect patterns which would help us to decrease the numbers and levels of toxic chemicals in American food.”

But some companies have taken steps to appeal to consumers who are wary of even trace amounts of toxic chemicals in their foods. When you’re at the grocery store, choose canned foods from these food companies that use BPA-free lining, according to MNN:

  1. Amy’s
  2. Bionaturae
  3. Crown Prince Seafood
  4. Eden Foods (Eden foods still uses BPA in highly acidic foods like canned tomatoes.)
  5. Farmer’s Market
  6. Muir Glen
  7. Westbrae Natural
  8. Wild Planet Foods

It may not say it on the label, so have this list with you at the grocery store. You can also avoid BPA by turning down thermal cash register receipts, which can also contain the chemical. Use glass, wood, and ceramic materials to cook on and store foods. And avoid plastic cutting boards. Use stainless steel or glass water bottles rather than plastic water bottles.

When you’re choosing foods, looking for additives and nutritional facts just isn’t enough. The savvy health nut must also look at food packaging when possible to avoid dangerous chemicals like BPA. Don’t panic, just take steps to reduce your exposure for both your health and the health of your family. And thanks to these progressive food companies, the task is made just a little bit easier.

Related on Organic Authority

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Terrible at remembering names? Blame it on the music, not the memory

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A study challenged younger and older people to look at faces and names while either listening to non-lyrical music or nothing at all. The college-aged participants had no problems — the music didn’t affect their performance. But the older adults remembered 10 percent fewer names when listening to background music or musical rain (as compared to silence).

A sample of faces and names for participants. Participants were first asked if the name looked like the face. They were later asked if the face-name combinations were the same. Credit: Image courtesy of Georgia Institute of Technology

 

Music may help some people relax when they’re trying to concentrate. But it doesn’t help them remember what they’re focusing on, especially as they get older.

That’s the finding in a new Georgia Institute of Technology study that challenged younger and older adults to listen to music while trying to remember names. College-aged participants had no problems — the music didn’t affect their performance. But the older adults remembered 10 percent fewer names when listening to background music or musical rain as compared to silence. The findings could have implications for senior living centers and people who prefer to hold meetings away from the office.

The Georgia Tech researchers wanted to replicate everyday life because music and background noise are everywhere. Their study tested the effects on associative memory, which includes the ability to put a face with a name and remember it.

Study participants looked at a series of faces and names and were asked if the person “looked like” the assigned name. The faces were shown again a few minutes later. Participants had to determine whether the name and face combinations were the same as before. Sometimes people did the test in silence. Other times they listened to musical rain or non-lyrical rock music, including lesser-known songs from Eric Clapton, Jefferson Airplane and Rush.

“Both age groups agreed that the music was distracting,” said Sarah Reaves, the Georgia Tech psychology graduate student who led the study. “But only the older adults struggled while it was playing in the background.”

Reaves and her advisor, School of Psychology Assistant Professor Audrey Duarte, linked the results with the well-known cocktail party effect, a phenomenon that allows people to solely focus their attention on one conversation even while surrounded by multiple conversations or loud music.

“Older adults have trouble ignoring irrelevant noises and concentrating,” says Duarte, who oversees Georgia Tech’s Memory and Aging Lab. “Associative memory also declines with age. As we get older, it’s harder to remember what name went with a face or where a conversation took place.”

Reaves notes that the study could help workers in assisted living centers as they plan activities.

“They should be mindful of their surroundings. Maybe employees should turn off music during learning activities or hold them in a quiet room,” she said. “Similarly, older adults who struggle to concentrate while meeting with co-workers at a coffee shop, for example, should schedule meetings in quieter locations. When people get lost while driving, it’s probably best to turn off the radio.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgia Institute of Technology.Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Reaves, B. Graham, J. Grahn, P. Rabannifard, A. Duarte. Turn Off the Music! Music Impairs Visual Associative Memory Performance in Older Adults. The Gerontologist, 2015; DOI: 10.1093/geront/gnu113

Cite This Page:

Georgia Institute of Technology. “Terrible at remembering names? Blame it on the music, not the memory.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 February 2015.

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Eating Organic Food Lowers Pesticide Exposure (Comprehensive Study Confirms What Organic Foodies Already Know)

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Eating Organic Food Lowers Pesticide Exposure

If you question spending a little more on organic food at the farmers market or supermarket, you might not want to give it a second thought – in fact, you might want to rearrange your budget to make that spending possible.

That’s because a new study, published in the recent journal Environmental Health Perspectives, confirms that organic food—which by definition cannot contain pesticides—is in fact a healthy way to avoid exposure to the agricultural chemicals linked with negative health and environmental effects.

University of Washington researchers reviewed data collected on more than 4,400 adult participants along with other data on pesticides and food. In a nutshell, the researchers noticed a striking correlation between the people who said they regularly consume organic fruits and vegetables and decreased levels of organophosphate pesticides in the subjects’ urine samples. Organophosphates are among the most common chemicals applied to non-organic crops.

For the subjects who said they “often” or even “always” consume organic fruits and vegetables, the level of organophosphates were 65 percent lower than in the subjects who did not consume organic food.

According to the researchers, the results of this study “do not suggest unacceptable risk” from exposure to organophosphate pesticides in conventionally grown produce, “even for people with the highest exposure levels,” the researchers wrote in the study.

Of course, not all fruits and vegetables are grown the same, and many conventionally raised crops are lower in pesticide use than others. The Environmental Working Group releases its annual “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists of produce with the highest and lowest amounts of pesticide residue based on U.S. government data.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Math Error? Common Pesticides 1,000 Times More Toxic Than Advertised

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New therapeutic principle for Parkinsonian dyskinesia shows clinical effect

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Involuntary dyskinetic movements induced by treatment with levodopa are a common problem for people with Parkinson’s disease. Now, however, researchers seem to be close to a novel therapy to this distressing side effect.

Involuntary dyskinetic movements induced by treatment with levodopa (L-dopa) are a common problem for people with Parkinson’s disease. Now, however, researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Lund University in Sweden seem to be close to a novel therapy to this distressing side effect. A treatment study published in the scientific periodical Brain shows that a drug that stimulates certain serotonin receptors in the brain counteracts the dyskinesia causing effects of L-dopa.

The substance tested by the team, eltoprazine, is a so-called serotonin receptor agonist that targets receptor types 5-HT1A and 5-HT1B. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of many biological phenomena, such as satiation, sleep and mental wellbeing, as well as movement. Earlier research on animal models for Parkinson’s conducted by Anders Bjorklund, professor of histology at Lund University, and Per Svenningsson, professor of neurology at Karolinska Institutet, showed promising results using serotonin receptor agonists against L-dopa-induced hyperkinesia, and have prompted the researchers to examine if the principle also operates in humans.

“Eltoprazine has been tested on patients in the psychiatric field, but this is the first time a study has been done with Parkinson’s disease,” says professor Svenningsson, who led the clinical study with Hakan Widner, professor of neurology, from Lund University. “What’s particularly exciting is that we’ve managed to translate laboratory findings into clinical application.”

The study included 22 patients with protracted and complicated Parkinson’s disease and L-dopa-induced dyskinesia. In the four-way crossover study, patients were given a single tablet of placebo and eltoprazine 2.5, 5 and 7.5 mg, alongside a challenge dose of levodopa that was 1.5 times that of their usual L-dopa dose.

It was found that a 5 mg and 7.5 mg dose of eltoprazine both significantly reduced the patients’ dyskinesia. At the same time, the preparation had no adverse impact on the anti-Parkinsonian effects of the L-dopa treatment. Other than a few patients having some transient episodes of nausea, dizziness and other minor symptoms the treatment was well tolerated.

“The treatment seems to be tolerated well by most Parkinson’s patients and counteracts L-dopa-induced dyskinesia via a new mechanism of action,” says Professor Svenningsson. “If our initial findings can be confirmed, this type of therapeutic principle can be of immense clinical benefit to a particularly vulnerable patient group.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Karolinska Institutet. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. P. Svenningsson, C. Rosenblad, K. af Edholm Arvidsson, K. Wictorin, C. Keywood, B. Shankar, D. A. Lowe, A. Bjorklund, H. Widner. Eltoprazine counteracts L-DOPA-induced dyskinesias in Parkinson’s disease: a dose-finding study. Brain, 2015; DOI: 10.1093/brain/awu409

Cite This Page:

Karolinska Institutet. “New therapeutic principle for Parkinsonian dyskinesia shows clinical effect.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 February 2015. >.

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The Best Chocolatiers for an Organic Valentine

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chocolate assortment

No matter how many things change, how much we try to add novelty to traditions, there are some that we hold onto – and a box of chocolates at Valentine’s Day is one of them. I give little boxes of chocolates not only to my significant other, but also to my best friends and my sisters. I think it’s a lovely way to show love on a special day… and it’s only better when you’re giving an organic Valentine.

Now, I’m not talking about organic chocolate bars, though those are delicious as well. I’m talking about a little sampler, a box of chocolates that would make Forrest Gump’s Mamma – and your organic, Fair Trade sensibilities – happy.

Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates – For Your Vegan Valentine

Dutch Jacques and American Pam Sjaak are the husband-and-wife team behind this vegan chocolatier in Northern California. Every one of their products is completely vegan, devoid of milk, butter, eggs and gelatin. Even their sugar is non-bone char! Their vegan chocolate box assortments are rich and delicious. We love their dairy-free caramels, flavored with vanilla, chocolate, macadamia and pecan and topped with exotic salts for a sweet-and-savory touch. They also have a selection of flavored truffles that are somehow perfectly creamy and sweet without any cream at all.

Chocolat Dardenne – For Gluten-Free Certainty

When you’re buying commercially made chocolates, it can be hard to know for sure if they’re safe for your gluten-free friends. That’s why the organic Belgian chocolates from Dardenne are such a great choice. Because they make all of their chocolates from scratch, they have total visibility on all of their products and can assure gluten-free eaters that there is absolutely no gluten anywhere on the chain of production. Which means that you can enjoy the assortment of dark and milk rochers or a larger assortment including coconut and white chocolate worry-free.

Nature-Cacao – To Keep GMOs at Bay

If you want to make sure that soy stays out of your chocolates, trust Nature-Cacao. They use 100% pure organic cocoa butter to make sure that all chocolates are GMO free. The mixed assortment is a better version of the chocolate assortments of your youth, with many different chocolates and fillings to choose from, and the melt-in-your-mouth 70% dark chocolate truffles will have your one true love falling head-over-heels all over again.

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Sensual DIY Valentines projects

I love you not only for what you are,
but for what I am when I am with you.
I love you not only for what you have made of yourself,
but for what you are making of me.
I love you for the part of me that you bring out.
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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Get in the mood for love!

Shower your valentine with these simple, sensual DIY projects:

Organic Massage Oil & Organic Personal Lubricant

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Settling for ‘Mr. Right Now’ better than waiting for ‘Mr. Right’

Original content comes to us from Living Well News — ScienceDaily http://ift.tt/1xBl796

Evolutionary researchers have determined that settling for ‘Mr. Okay’ is a better evolutionary strategy than waiting for ‘Mr. Perfect.’

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Evolutionary researchers have determined that settling for “Mr. Okay” is a better evolutionary strategy than waiting for “Mr. Perfect.”

When studying the evolution of risk aversion, Michigan State University researchers found that it is in our nature — traced back to the earliest humans — to take the safe bet when stakes are high, such as whether or not we will mate.

“Primitive humans were likely forced to bet on whether or not they could find a better mate,” said Chris Adami, MSU professor of microbiology and molecular genetics and co-author of the paper.

“They could either choose to mate with the first, potentially inferior, companion and risk inferior offspring, or they could wait for Mr. or Ms. Perfect to come around,” he said. “If they chose to wait, they risk never mating.”

Adami and his co-author Arend Hintze, MSU research associate, used a computational model to trace risk-taking behaviors through thousands of generations of evolution with digital organisms. These organisms were programmed to make bets in high-payoff gambles, which reflect the life-altering decisions that natural organisms must make, as for example choosing a mate.

“An individual might hold out to find the perfect mate but run the risk of coming up empty and leaving no progeny,” Adami said. “Settling early for the sure bet gives you an evolutionary advantage, if living in a small group.”

Adami and his team tested many variables that influence risk-taking behavior and concluded that certain conditions influence our decision-making process. The decision must be a rare, once-in-a-lifetime event and also have a high payoff for the individual’s future — such as the odds of producing offspring.

How risk averse we are correlates to the size of the group in which we were raised. If reared in a small group — fewer than 150 people — we tend to be much more risk averse than those who were part of a larger community.

It turns out that primitive humans lived in smaller groups, about 150 individuals. Because resources tend to be scarcer in smaller communities, this environment helps promote risk aversion.

“We found that it is really the group size, not the total population size, which matters in the evolution of risk aversion,” Hintze said.

However, not everyone develops the same level of aversion to risk. The study also found that evolution doesn’t prefer one single, optimal way of dealing with risk, but instead allows for a range of less, and sometimes more-risky, behaviors to evolve.

“We do not all evolve to be the same,” Adami said. “Evolution creates a diversity in our acceptance of risk, so you see some people who are more likely to take bigger risks than others. We see the same phenomenon in our simulations.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Arend Hintze, Randal S. Olson, Christoph Adami, Ralph Hertwig. Risk sensitivity as an evolutionary adaptation. Scientific Reports, 2015; 5: 8242 DOI:10.1038/srep08242

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. “Settling for ‘Mr. Right Now’ better than waiting for ‘Mr. Right’, shows model of digital organisms.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2015.

 

Vía Living Well News — ScienceDaily http://ift.tt/1xBl796

Stress reduces ability to withstand physical pain

Original content comes to us from Stress News — ScienceDaily http://ift.tt/1C0m7Gu

A new study finds that acute psychosocial stress has a dramatically deleterious effect on the body’s ability to modulate pain. The researchers found that although pain thresholds and pain tolerance seemed unaffected by stress, there was a significant increase in pain intensification and a decrease in pain inhibition capabilities.

Stress makes it hurt more, according to new research.

Traffic slows to a crawl, then a stop. You are trapped in a bottleneck nightmare, and late for a meeting. The stress takes a toll on you psychologically — but your body is at risk as well, according to a Tel Aviv University researcher.

A new study by Prof. Ruth Defrin of the Department of Physical Therapy at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine published in the journal PAIN finds that acute psychosocial stress has a dramatically deleterious effect on the body’s ability to modulate pain. Prof. Defrin, together with TAU doctoral student Nirit Geva and Prof. Jens Pruessner of McGill University, applied acute stress tests on a large group of healthy young male adults to evaluate the behavior of the body’s pain modulation mechanisms prior to and after the induction of stress.

The researchers found that although pain thresholds and pain tolerance seemed unaffected by stress, there was a significant increase in pain intensification and a decrease in pain inhibition capabilities.

Doing the math

For the purpose of the study, 29 healthy men underwent several commonly accepted pain tests to measure their heat-pain thresholds and pain inhibition, among other factors. In one test, for example, subjects were asked to signal the moment a gradually increasing heat stimulus became painful to identify their respective pain thresholds. They underwent a series of pain tests before and immediately after exposure to the Montreal Imaging Stress Task (MIST), a computer program of timed arithmetic exercises, designed to induce acute psychosocial stress.

In a way, the stress test is a psychological trick. MIST provides live feedback on submitted responses, registering only 20-45% of the responses as correct, whether or not a submitted response is the right answer. Because the subject has been previously informed that the average participant tends to score 80%-90%, he is reminded of his “poor performance” but has no way of improving his score, despite his best efforts. This provides the “stress” element of the experiment.

“To further test the effect of stress on pain, we divided the group according to stress levels,” said Prof. Defrin. “We found that not only does psychosocial stress reduce the ability to modulate pain, the changes were significantly more robust among subjects with stronger reaction to stress (‘high responders’). The higher the perceived stress, the more dysfunctional the pain modulation capabilities became. In other words, the type of stress and magnitude of its appraisal determine its interaction with the pain system.

“We know from our previous studies and studies of others that chronic stress is far more damaging than acute stress, associated not only with dysfunctional pain modulation capabilities but also with chronic pain and systemic illnesses,” said Prof. Defrin.

Defining stress

“Stress is defined as a sense of uncontrollability and unpredictability, precisely like being stuck in traffic where you are helpless and have no control over the situation,” said Prof. Defrin. “Stress can have positive repercussions in a challenging work environment, for example, but overall it has primarily negative effects.”

The results were also somewhat surprising. “We were sure we would see an increased ability to modulate pain, because you hear anecdotes about people who are injured during fighting or sports having greater pain modulation,” said Prof. Defrin. “But we were surprised to find quite the opposite. While there was no visible effect of acute stress on the subject’s pain threshold or tolerance, pain modulation decreased in a very dramatic way.

“Modern life exposes individuals to many, recurrent stressful situations,” Prof. Defrin observes. “While there is no way to predict the type of stress we will feel under different circumstances, it is advisable to do everything in our power — adopt relaxation and stress reduction techniques as well as therapy — to reduce the amount of stress in our lives.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Friends of Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nirit Geva, Jens Pruessner, Ruth Defrin. Acute psychosocial stress reduces pain modulation capabilities in healthy men. Pain, 2014; 155 (11): 2418 DOI:10.1016/j.pain.2014.09.023

Cite This Page:

American Friends of Tel Aviv University. “Acute psychological stress reduces ability to withstand physical pain.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2015. >.

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A Whole Grain Rich Diet Might Help You Live Longer and Have a Healthier Heart

Original content comes to us from OrganicAuthority  http://ift.tt/14tM8Ew

A Whole Grain Rich Diet Might Help You Live Longer and Have a Healthier Heart

Is eliminating or decreasing the amount of grains and gluten you eat part of your New Year’s healthy diet resolution? If heart health is a health focus, reducing whole grain foods from your diet might not be a good idea, according to new research out of Harvard University.

While Paleo and gluten-free diets have been gaining popularity in recent years, the new research notes that eating more whole grain foods can significantly reduce your risk of dying early from heart disease. Regularly consuming that old health food staple, bran, which is the outer layer of a grain that’s removed during the refining process, came with a whopping 20 percent reduction in the risk for developing heart disease.

The Harvard study, which appears in the January issue of the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, looked at data from more than 74,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and more than 43,000 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study over a 25-year period.

What the researchers noted was that the consumption of whole grains was associated with up to a 9 percent lower overall mortality and 15 percent lower risk of a cardiovascular disease (CVD) related death. The improvements were significant: for each single serving of whole grains per day, the overall mortality dropped by 5 percent and 9 percent for CVD.

“Replacing refined grains and red meats with whole grains is also likely to lower mortality,” Harvard said in a statement. “Swapping just one serving of refined grains or red meat per day with one serving of whole grains was linked with lower CVD-related mortality: 8% lower mortality for swapping out refined grains and 20% lower mortality for swapping out red meat.”

“This study further endorses the current dietary guidelines that promote whole grains as one of the major healthful foods for prevention of major chronic disease,” department of nutrition professor Qi Sun, and one of the study’s lead authors, said in a statement.

Giving up grains, and particularly gluten even without a sensitivity or Celiac disease, has been a hot diet trend for weight loss and other health benefits. Another recent study also found that wheat might be beneficial to the health of the planet as well, by returning carbon to the soil.

Today’s supermarkets are loaded with “whole grain” product claims on items that may also contain refined flours. If you’re looking to add more whole grains to your diet, reading labels is necessary to ensure you’re getting whole grains first and foremost, which should be labeled as “whole” like “whole wheat” or “whole grain brown rice.” Another way to determine if the product contains a healthy dose of whole grains: for every ten grams of carbohydrates, there should be at least one gram of dietary fiber (which is usually listed right under the total carbohydrates on the nutrition panel).

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Lucid dreams and metacognition: Awareness of thinking; awareness of dreaming

Original content comes to us from Neuroscience News — ScienceDaily http://ift.tt/1CZSirG

In lucid dreamers, the prefrontal cortex enabling self-reflection is bigger in comparison to other people. Credit: Copyright MPI for Human Development

To control one’s dreams and to live ‘out there’ what is impossible in real life — a truly tempting idea. Some persons — so-called lucid dreamers — can do this. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich have discovered that the brain area which enables self-reflection is larger in lucid dreamers. Thus, lucid dreamers are possibly also more self-reflecting when being awake.

Lucid dreamers are aware of dreaming while dreaming. Sometimes, they can even play an active role in their dreams. Most of them, however, have this experience only several times a year and just very few almost every night. Internet forums and blogs are full of instructions and tips on lucid dreaming. Possibly, lucid dreaming is closely related to the human capability of self-reflection — the so-called metacognition.

Neuroscientists from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry have compared brain structures of frequent lucid dreamers and participants who never or only rarely have lucid dreams. Accordingly, the anterior prefrontal cortex, i.e., the brain area controlling conscious cognitive processes and playing an important role in the capability of self-reflection, is larger in lucid dreamers.

The differences in volumes in the anterior prefrontal cortex between lucid dreamers and non-lucid dreamers suggest that lucid dreaming and metacognition are indeed closely connected. This theory is supported by brain images taken when test persons were solving metacognitive tests while being awake. Those images show that the brain activity in the prefrontal cortex was higher in lucid dreamers. “Our results indicate that self-reflection in everyday life is more pronounced in persons who can easily control their dreams,” states Elisa Filevich, post-doc in the Center for Lifespan Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

The researchers further want to know whether metacognitive skills can be trained. In a follow-up study, they intend to train volunteers in lucid dreaming to examine whether this improves the capability of self-reflection.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Filevich, E., Dresler, M., Brick, T.R., Kühn, S. Metacognitive Mechanisms Underlying Lucid Dreaming. The Journal of Neuroscience, 2015 DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3342-14.201

Cite This Page:

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. “Lucid dreams and metacognition: Awareness of thinking; awareness of dreaming.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2015. >.

Original content comes to us from Neuroscience News — ScienceDaily http://ift.tt/1CZSirG

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