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Showing posts from July, 2012

Juggling Bumps Up Brainpower

Can rhythmically tossing and catching balls in the air help grow the brain? Researchers from the Universit├Ąt Regensburg, in Germany, after studying two dozen people using brain scans, say yes. Half were asked to learn to juggle; the others were given no special instructions. After three months, the brains of the jugglers had grown by 3 to 4 percent in the areas that process visual and motor information; the more skilled the jugglers became, the greater the brain growth. No change occurred in the non-juggling group. The research team says the study proves that new stimuli can alter the brain’s structure, not just its function.
Source: Nature.com

Perfect Pools: Practical Options for Chlorine-Free Swimming

Swimming in an ocean, river or lake dramatically differs from man-made pools in obvious ways, but also one that water lovers may not dwell on. In the typical, chlorine-laced environment of most public and private pools, major emphasis is placed on killing germs quickly and cheaply; possible side effects to skin, hair and lungs from exposure to a toxic chemical are assumed.
Nevertheless, safe and refreshing options are available.
Saltwater pools use sodium chloride in a naturally occurring cycle to keep it clean. Chlorine is present as a byproduct of the off-gassing of the salt, but much less so than in a conventionally chlorinated pool. An ionizer not only keeps water sanitized, it makes the water feel silky smooth to the touch, using copper and sometimes silver ions to maintain cleanliness. No salt and little or no chlorine are used. An oxidation system is a chemical-free way to keep pools disinfected using ultraviolet light or electricity; it requires a generator. Production of ultr…

Rice Syrup Alert

Consider reading labels and avoiding or restricting foods sweetened with rice syrup, at least for now. A recent study by researchers at Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire, found levels of arsenic in foods containing rice syrup that exceeded U.S. standards for bottled water. The sampling of products included cereal bars, energy shots (drinks) and baby formulas sweetened with organic brown rice syrup. Arsenic is toxic and potentially carcinogenic, and the researchers are pushing for regulatory limits in food, like those that protect drinking water.

Storm Clouds: Data Centers Leave Bigfoot Carbon Footprints

Giant data centers, known as “clouds,” that store and transmit data, photos, emails, songs and streaming videos every day, have become one of the fastest-growing consumers of worldwide electricity. Now, a Greenpeace International report details the truth about how much coal is burned to operate and maintain this virtual, online cloud of electronic data transmission worldwide.
Every day, tons of asthma-inducing, climate-destroying coal pollution is emitted into the air just to keep the Internet going. The good news is that tech industry leaders such as Facebook and Google are starting to quit the coal habit; Apple’s new North Carolina data center will run in part on renewable, biogaspowered fuel cells and a large array of solar panels.
A Greenpeace initiative is working to persuade Microsoft, Amazon and others to likewise disassociate their brands from the specter of poisoned air currently damaging the climate.
Take action at Tinyurl.com/dirtycloud.

Cancer Prevention in a Spice

This year, an estimated 52,610 people (38,380 men and 14,230 women) will develop cancer in the head and neck, leading to an estimated 11,500 deaths (or just under 22 percent), according to statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society’s publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2012. New hope may lie in an ancient spice.
A pilot study conducted at the University of California-Los Angeles Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has shown that eating curcumin, the main component in the spice turmeric, works to suppress a cell-signaling pathway that spurs the growth of malignancies in the head and neck. Further, curcumin reduces pro-inflammatory cytokines (naturally occurring regulatory proteins) within saliva.
Turmeric is widely used in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking (curry, for example), and has been long valued for its anti-inflammatory properties. In India, women have used it for centuries as an anti-aging agent rubbed into the skin, as a poultice to promote wound healing and…

The Lowdown on Low Iron

Low levels of iron in the blood not only cause fatigue, but also may be linked to more serious health risks, including dangerous blood clots. Iron deficiency is widespread, and thought to affect at least 1 billion people worldwide, mostly women. Alleviating such deficiencies is a preventive measure.
Source: Imperial College, London