Multitasking’s Effect on Brain Health, & Other News of Note
Posted on Monday, April 25th, 2011
All Those Tweets, Apps, Updates May Drain Brain (SF Chronicle)
Human minds evolved to constantly scan for novelty, lest we miss any sign of food, danger or, on a good day, mating opportunities.
But the modern world bombards us with stimuli, a nonstop stream of e-mails, chats, texts, tweets, status updates and video links to piano playing cats.
There’s growing concern among scientists that indulging in these ceaseless disruptions isn’t good for our brains, in much the way that excessive sugar or fat – other things we evolved to crave when they were in shorter supply – isn’t good for our bodies…More…
Pregnant women can safely be treated for gum infections without having to worry about their baby’s health, according to a new study.
The concern among dentists had been that treating the problem could cause bacteria to get into the mothers’ bloodstream, where they could harm babies’ development.
* * *
But those fears are baseless, the new study shows.
“Women can be confident that it’s not going to have clinically meaningful effects on their child’s development,” said Dr. Bryan Michalowicz, whose findings are published in the journal Pediatrics…More…
How Inflammation Can Lead to Cancer (ScienceDaily)
A new study shows how inflammation can help cause cancer. Chronic inflammation due to infection or to conditions such as chronic inflammatory bowel disease is associated with up to 25 percent of all cancers.
This study by researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) found that inflammation stimulates a rise in levels of a molecule called microRNA-155 (miR-155).
This, in turn, causes a drop in levels of proteins involved in DNA repair, resulting in a higher rate of spontaneous gene mutations, which can lead to cancer…More…
Drug-Resistant Bacteria Common in Meat (Consumer Reports)
Antibiotic-resistant strains of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus are common in meat and poultry sold in U.S. grocery stores, suggests a recent study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute. The infections can cause illnesses from minor skin infections to life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia or sepsis, among others.
Almost half of the 136 samples were contaminated, and more than half of those were resistant to at least three classes of common antibiotics. The government tests meat and poultry for four types of drug-resistant bacteria, but Staphylococcus aureus is not one of them. Proper cooking can kill it in meat, but improper food handling and cross-contamination can leave people at risk, especially vulnearble…More…
The researchers fed people two meals with the exact same number of calories; the only difference was how much the food was processed. Group A was treated to sandwiches made with real cheese on whole-grain bread; Group B made do with processed cheese on fiber-stripped white bread. The results, published in Food & Nutrition Research, found that the processed meal decreased the rate of diet-induced thermogenesis—the number of calories you burn when eating and digesting—by nearly 50% compared to the meal made with whole foods.
The calories burned from a single sandwich may be small, but this rise in metabolism caused by whole foods (known as the thermic effect) might account for about 10% of a typical person’s daily calorie expenditure. Although more research is needed, early indicators show that whole foods may offer a real metabolic advantage for calorie counters. Whole foods aren’t just better for you because they’re more nutritious, but they also may be, essentially, lower-calorie…More…
Hopeful Perspective Aids Healthy Diet (PsychCentral)
An interesting new research study finds a positive attitude about the future transcends into a healthier diet, while being happy right now may result in more inches around the belly.
Hopeful people were compared to happy people with the latter group preferring to eat candy bars, while the hopeful group preferred fruit.
* * *
In the new study, a temporal concept or view of time appears to make a difference in choice of diet, as researchers discovered “positive emotions focusing on the future decrease unhealthy food consumption in the present.”
Still, the question remained as to why an individual who feels positive would be more likely to eat a candy bar rather than a piece of fruit. According to the authors, the difference is that positive feelings come from that thinking about the past or the present (pride and happiness) while hope is a projection to the future…More…
People in greener settings tend to become more generous than others, with more mutual trust and willingness to help others, U.S. researchers said.
Frances “Ming” Kuo of the University of Illinois studied the effect of green space on humans in a number of settings….
“In less green environments, we find higher rates of aggression, violence, violent crime and property crime — even after controlling for income and other differences,” Kuo said in a statement. “We also find more evidence of loneliness and more individuals reporting inadequate social support”…More…