There are approximately 43 million households in America that have one or more dogs as part of the family bringing the total up to some 73 million dogs. Some fall into the Service Dog category in which they provide assistance to the blind, disabled veterans and help with mental disabilities such as autism. Programs have even been adopted in prisons where inmates are given the responsibility of training a puppy. But what makes dogs so responsive to our needs? Does it have to do strictly with being devoted to the hand that feeds them or does it go deeper. Dr. Gregory Berns a neuroscientist at the Emory University in Atlanta has been scanning the brains of dogs to find out how exactly they think and what is their motivation. The process of using an M.R.I. was difficult because of the hearing sensitivity. When the process of getting a dog into an M.R.I. scanner was finally mastered some 90 dogs were scanned to see if their brains functioned along the lines of a human. The tests proved that dogs use the corresponding parts of their brain to solve tasks. About 25% of the dogs responded more to praise rather then to food. It was also discovered the dogs have the capability of responding to a photo of someone that they have an extreme devotion to. Could understanding a dog’s brain lead to solving why certain animals tend to be aggressive? If so, would it eventually help us in discovering the key to understanding aggressive behavior in humans?
Millet is one of the earliest cultivated crops. It is often classified as one of the Ancient grains along with Quinoa and Buckwheat. Most people often think of millet as bird food since it is a major part of commercial bird feed. It is extremely high in protein, great for those who are gluten intolerant and can be grown in extremely arid conditions. Millet can also be a substitute for couscous since it is a whole grain. Along with its supply of protein, it contains an abundance of important nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It is slowly gaining popularity in the western diet.
Color is a major part of our lives. It can elevate your mood or evoke a past memory from childhood. Researchers have found that 90% of snap decisions about buying a product are made on the color of the object alone. A French study was conducted in which 48% of participants rated drinking soda in a blue glass as more thirst quenching then in a glass of another color. The color blue was associated with something tasting icy and cold. When consumers see a green label on a product they associate it with being more nutritious. Purple decor in a bedroom has been known to encourage more intimacy whereas grey walls and furniture do just the opposite. White and beige may also have the opposite effect and can inhibit intimacy. Fast food restaurants use orange and yellow as their main colors. They have found that using these colors encourages people to eat quickly and in turn give up their tables for the next client. However, personal preferences, experiences, upbringing, cultural differences and in which context a color is used, may cause it to have a totally different meaning. Brown is often associated with ruggedness. However, attempts are being made by The Global Health Organization to have cigarette packages colored brown. Smokers have voted brown as the color that would most likely deter them from buying a pack. Black is considered sexy and sophisticated in clothing and it is also great to be “in the black” in business. On the other hand, It can also imply an eerie, sinister and mysterious feeling. Red is often used to express love and strong emotion. However, red is used as a warning of danger and is a bad color in business. Colors surround us and nature changes them with every season. It is important to think about what colors we choose to surround us in our environment. Choosing the right color can have a tremendous impact on our mood and our productivity.
Excessive exposure to artificial light can take a toll on your muscles. People who work on computers or hospital workers can spend long hours under these conditions. Researchers at the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands tested rats by placing one group in continuous light. The control group was placed in 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness (normal conditions). The group in continuous artificial light lost muscle strength, showed signs of osteoporosis, gained weight and their immune system suffered. Returning the rats to a normal light schedule however, reversed the symptoms. More testing has to be done but it seems the mind as well as the body need a period of complete darkness to revitalize.
The new rage of kids from Thailand, Indonesia and China is having braces put on their teeth even if it is unnecessary. It has become a sign of prosperity to be able to afford having this form of dental work done. Most of the braces are superficial and are usually administered in beauty salons and can prove to be as complicated a process as putting in real braces. Because the trend has now been banned in Thailand a black market for these phonies has popped up.
Mold on certain foods can be safe to cut away and use the un-moldy portion. For example, hard cheeses are much safer than soft cheeses if mold appears. Soft cheeses make it easier for the mold to penetrate the food whereas in hard cheeses the mold is usually visible and can be cut away. With firm fruits and vegetables simply cut off about 1 inch below the moldy area and the rest of it is safe to eat. Foods such as jams or jellies as well as soft fruits, breads and yogurt should be discarded. When mold is allowed to penetrate it can in some cases become toxic.
Most Americans seem to be deficient in Vitamin D. The cure seems to be easy enough. It is a matter of taking in the suns’ rays for at least 20 minutes a day. Here in the northeast it becomes a little difficult for at least six months out of the year. Rich sources of Vitamin D are egg yolks, salmon and liver. Mushrooms are not often mentioned as a high source of this vitamin. In fact it is one of the few vegetarian sources of Vitamin D. It seems a little strange that a fungus that grows in the dark should be a rich source of the so needed vitamin. Interestingly enough, if you were to let mushrooms lie in the sun for a couple of hours before you use them the potency of Vitamin D will greatly increase. Actually, just 5 minutes in the sun increases their potency to more then the recommended daily requirement of vitamin D.
Olive Oil is still one of the healthiest fats available. Even more so if eaten in its natural state instead of heated. However, the new trend in restaurants is to line up a tasting menu of different olive oils with a basket of bread as you await your order. We are all aware of how easily we can empty a basket of warm bread. Add to this dipping each piece into a bath of olive oil and you may be setting yourself up for unnecessary additional calories, 120 calories a tablespoon to be more precise. Should we avoid this taste bud sensation? Maybe it is better to have both the bread and the oil brought to the table while the meal is being served. Chances are you will consume less then when you are sitting at a table on an empty stomach.
Adding sweeteners is a major concern for people trying to limit sugar consumption and especially for those with medical concerns such as diabetes. Stevia is one option. It is made from a leaf related to popular garden flowers like asters and chrysanthemums and has no effect in raising blood sugar levels. There is however a new option. Since many claim that stevia has a bitter after-taste a new product called “Eversweet” promises to deliver a more pleasant after-taste. “Eversweet” is produced by the fermentation of yeast. When simple sugars are added to Baker’s yeast, the yeast will digest them and in turn will convert them into a calorie free sweetener.
Formally thought of as an aid to the digestive tract, prunes/dried plums have now taken on a more important role in health. Dairy always comes to mind when we think about filling our calcium needs and building strong bones. However, this dried fruit is extremely rich in both boron and selenium, two very important minerals for bone density. The fiber in prunes/dried plums can be of benefit to cholesterol levels and can help diabetics by slowing the digestion of carbohydrates. A great way to enjoy them is by soaking them in orange juice overnight until they return to looking more like plums (My 100 year old Mom’s credo).