Scientists have discovered that fish can become depressed and may be the key to developing antidepressants. According to the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences of Troy University in Alabama the neurochemistry between fish and humans is very similar. Fish are tested in what is called a “novel tank test’. A Zebrafish is dropped into the tank. If it sinks to the bottom it is a sign of depression as opposed to if it swims to the top and begins to explore. Severity is measured by how much time it spends in either location. It is by these observations that the researchers have determined that this is a form of depression. If depressed a fish usually loses interest in both food and exploration. Given a mild antidepressant the fish will eventually swim to the top of the tank a sign that it has overcome the depression. Not only do fish show the capability of using tools but they are also able to recognize faces. If a tank has an adequate amount of space and vegetation a fish will explore and be in constant motion, a sign that a fish is happy in its environment.
In Tanzania the people of the Hadza community have a diet that consists of the animals they kill, honey, berries and whatever grows wild. They eat what may be considered a true hunter-gatherer diet. In studying this group scientists have discovered that their gut bacteria undergoes different annual changes. Some of their microbes completely disappear only to return at another time of the year along with the change in diet. The study was conducted by the Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Stool samples were compared with Italians from Bologna. The Hadza hosted much more abundant and rarer forms of gut microbial species. This led researchers to collect samples four times a year to see if the composition varied. There were extreme differences in the samples taken during the wet season as opposed to the dry season. This discovery is new for any human microbiome. The seasonal change in their diet lead to a predictable change in their gut bacteria. The composition is more similar to traditional older societies than to modernized industrial diets. Since industrialized nations eat the same foods year round, a clue to the rise in disease because of the loss of certain strains of bacteria may be the reason. This can be of significant value in possibly decreasing the causes of inflammation in the body, a source of chronic illnesses in our society. This would encourage us to explore more deeply the suggestion of a rotation of diet.
After an injury, not only athletes but also physically active people have one thing on their mind. How can I get back in the game. This kind of thinking can backfire and short circuit recovery. Post-traumatic osteoarthritis can exhibit itself decades later if adequate attention is not given to rehabilitation. Previously thought of as a disease which affects senior citizens it is now becoming prevalent in younger people as well. The odds of developing osteoarthritis after not treating an injury properly are six to one. According to research done by a team at the University of Iowa, it is the protective cartilage at the ends of the bones that is often damaged. These tissues are what cushion and stabilize bone and need sufficient time and care to heal properly. Osteoarthritis can be prevented or even seriously curtailed. Physical therapy which includes a program of strength and flexibility to all the supporting muscle groups can produce positive effects. For example, if a knee is injured attention should be given to strengthening the quads, hamstrings and hip muscles. Moderate activity is encouraged as long as it does not stress the particular joint in question.
In a study recorded in the Annals of Internal Medicine, yoga works as well as physical therapy in relieving back pain. There were 320 participants whose ages ranged from 18 to 64. Everyone had persistent back pain either moderate or severe. Subjects were divided into 3 groups and the experiment lasted 12 weeks. Group 1 was assigned weekly sessions of yoga. Group 2 was given 15 physical therapy sessions over that period and the last group was basically given educational material about back pain problems. At the end of the study both the yoga and physical therapy groups had similar outcomes. Half were relieved of their problems and half reduced all pain medication. The educational group had only about 20% that said they had reduced their pain level. Consistency remained higher in the yoga group which more of the participants found to be much more enjoyable. It allowed them to either do it in the privacy of their own home or be in a social situation when they felt they needed more support.
According to new research, heat may be much more beneficial for muscle recovery then ice. Researches at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden invited fit men and women to be tested on arm-peddling machines. The exercise was designed to exhaust arm muscles with periods of slow and intense intervals. Once the glycogen (carbohydrate fuel source) storage was depleted in the muscles they no longer had any strength. After which they slipped cuffs on their arms that were pre-heated to 100 degrees F or chilled to 5 degrees F by the coils within them. It turned out that the muscles recovered quicker with heat but only if it was accompanied with a resupply of glycogen. Because of this experiment researchers feel that after a long marathon it may be best to sit in a relaxing warm bath while eating a chocolate bar.
Researchers studied about 600 patients by following their recovery from open heart surgery for 17 months after their operations. Afternoon surgery produced fewer major complications such as acute heart failure. In a follow up study patients were divided into 2 groups. Some to receive morning, others to receive afternoon surgery. They discovered that the level of troponin, a measure of heart muscle damage, was significantly different in the afternoon group. Conclusion is that the genetic mechanism that protects tissue under stress functions differently in the afternoon and may prove to be more beneficial for the patient.
Healthy fat is so important for the absorption of nutrients from food. Being overly conscious of eliminating fat can result in vitamin deficiencies and retention of weight because of improper digestion. A good supply of daily fat such as those found in nuts, avocados, fish and seeds as well as from organic meats can slow digestion and put off cravings for hours. Think of every snack as a little meal in which a small amount of the above is included.
Mushrooms are a rich source of plant protein. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and polyphenols. Spanish researchers tested different cooking styles of white button, shiitake, oyster and king oyster mushrooms and found that grilling was the best way to preserve the nutrient content of all the mushrooms. It actually increased their nutritional value. Frying and boiling reduced protein and antioxidant content. Results were published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.
According to a study done by Swedish researchers, having a dog as part of the family was linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. In Sweden all dogs are tagged and registered. The study lasted 12 years and included 3.4 million Swedes ages 40 to 80. Owning a dog proved to have a 20 to 23% decrease in death by cardiovascular disease. The results proved to be higher with owners of larger, active breeds since these dogs encouraged the owner to get out more to exercise their pets. Lap dogs just kept the person warm.
Fat is important for protecting our organs and lubricating our joints. Critical for nerve function, brain and eye operation. It supports hormone production as well as absorption of nutrients. It is not the elimination of fat from the diet but ingesting the right fats that is now what health professionals consider more important. But what about how fat is stored by the body. Why does the body store some as visceral and some as subcutaneous. What exactly is “brown” as opposed to “white” fat. Are we able to control how the body stores these fats or is it in our genes? It is important to understand how all these fats serve a positive purpose in the body and how maintenance and not complete elimination of any one of them should be the goal. Visceral fat is important in so far as it lies deep within the body and lines and protects our organs. By wrapping itself around our organs it protects the body in case of impact. However, when there is an excess it can result in abdominal weight that can result in a host of health problems. Subcutaneous fat is that which lies directly under the skin. It is home to blood vessels that supply the skin and nerves with oxygen. It lies loosely under the skin protecting the skin from trauma. Subcutaneous is that fat which is most easily reduced by exercising because it contains the energy storeage of the body. Which brings us to brown and white fat. Brown fat usually accumulates around the back of the neck and upper back. Its purpose is to burn calories and generate heat. It is usually derived from muscle tissue and especially high in hibernating animals and new born babies. As we age it is harder to maintain a good supply of this fat unless we maintain a healthy weight and exercise (especially outdoors) to allow the body to generate heat. It is rich with blood vessels which helps to give it the brown color. White fat is more abundant in the body. It is the largest store of potential energy in the body. White fat contains the receptors for insulin, growth and stress hormones. Of course the amount of each fat differs with all body types but it is important to realize that they all have a purpose in a healthy body.