Lack of sleep can cause brain damage
A good night of sleep may do more than make you feel rested. According to new research published in the journal SLEEP, sleep deprivation increases blood concentrations of brain molecules to levels often seen in cases of brain damage.
The researchers, from Uppsala University in Sweden, looked at 15 healthy young men who spent two nights in a sleep laboratory. One night, the men were deprived of sleep; the second night they slept a normal eight hours. Before and after each night the men provided blood samples so researchers could measure the blood levels of two brain molecules; neuron-specific enolase (NSE) and S100 calcium binding protein B (S-100B).
Results showed that total sleep deprivation increased the levels of NSE and S-100B by around 20 percent compared to the normal night of sleep. Higher levels of these molecules in the blood is usually a sign of damaged brain tissue, or that something is wrong with the blood-brain barrier, or both.
Researchers conclude that more research needs to be done, but said that it provides more evidence that a good night of sleep may be critical to brain health.
NEXT: Scientists look to “turn off” aging genes
Sourced from: Medical News Today, Good night’s sleep good for brain health
Changing diet may reduce asthma symptoms
People with asthma may be able to improve their symptoms by changing their diet, according to a new study.
Previous evidence has shown that gut bacteria have a significant impact on the immune system. In a new study from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, researchers examined how changes in diet affected the bacteria living in the guts of mice. Their findings showed that a high-fiber diet allowed gut bacteria to produce certain fatty acids which led to more resistance to lung irritation, a symptom of asthma. When the mice were fed a low-fiber diet, they showed less resistance to lung irritation.
If a high-fiber diet has similar effects in humans, people with asthma may benefit from eating high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, scientists said. However, it is unknown how much fiber and what specific sources would improve asthma symptoms in humans.
The researchers said additional studies are being conducted to investigate the role of diet in reducing lung inflammation.
NEXT: Smoking tied to cancer: Jan. 11, 1964
Sourced from: BBC, Asthma: Altering diet may ease symptoms
Scientists look to "turn off" aging genes
One of the few proven ways to combat aging is calorie restriction, which has been shown to prolong the lifespan in yeast, worms, flies, monkeys, and in some cases, humans. But, researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed a computer algorithm that they say can predict which genes can be “turned off” for the same anti-aging effect.
The study, published in Nature Communications, is part of a growing field called genome-scale metabolic modeling (GSMMs). It works by using mathematical equations and computers to describe the metabolism of living cells. Once built, the models serve as a digital laboratory, which turns labor-intensive tests into the click of a mouse. This particular algorithm can take information about any two metabolic states and predict the environment or genetic changes necessary to go from one state to the other.
Gene expression can be turned off to prevent them from being expressed in a cell. For this study, researchers used the custom-designed algorithm to predict genes that can turned off to make the gene expression of old yeast to look like that of young yeast. Yeast is used because much of its DNA is preserved in humans.
Results showed two new yeast genes, GRE3 and ADH2, can be turned off in non-digital yeast to extend the lifespan. They also found that turning off these genes creates oxidative stress, which could be similar to that produced by calorie restriction.
The next step is to test whether turning off these genes will prolong the lifespan of genetically engineered mice. The research suggests that in the future, drugs could be developed that can target genes in humans and help extend lifespans.
NEXT: Smoking tied to cancer: Jan. 11, 1964
Sourced from: ScienceDaily, Turning Off ‘Aging Genes’
Teenagers most at risk of distracted driving crashes
Teenagers with relatively new driver’s licenses are most at-risk for getting into a distraction-related car accident, according to a new study.
Research published in The New England Journal of Medicine focused on driving-related distractions among both teenagers and adults. Scientists analyzed 52 teenagers with new driver’s licenses from the age of 16. Then they analyzed more than 100 adults with an average age of 20 and few years’ experience driving.
The findings showed that engaging in distracting behaviors increased risk for car accidents more among teenagers than among the adults. Distracting activity included the following: talking on the phone, texting, looking at a roadside object, eating and reaching for an object. Using a method involving cameras, sensors and a computer, researchers found that beginning teen drivers were almost four times more likely than adults to get into an accident when texting and almost eight times more likely when reaching for a phone or other object.
Researchers said that people of all ages, but especially new drivers, should be mindful to not be distracted by people, technology or other behaviors when behind the wheel. They recommend that parents model safe driving practice to reinforce those behaviors in teenagers.
NEXT: (Infographic) Can fast food make you depressed?
Sourced from: Medical News Today, Detailed analysis reveals real-life dangers of driver distraction
Brutal cold, short days raise risk of depression
An increasing number of people may be at risk for depression in the upcoming months, due to a forecast of brutal cold weather.
According to scientists specializing in depression, brutally cold weather places environmental stress on people who are already vulnerable, including people with post-holiday stress of seasonal affective disorder (SAD)—a type of depression triggered by shorter periods of daylight.
Winter months can be particularly challenging due to less exposure to light, which has been shown to be related to depression-causing chemical imbalances. Since bright light can serve as an anti-depressant, scientists recommend that people at risk for depression should spend more time outside during daylight hours, but to protect themselves from the cold. They also recommend opening drapes and blinds to let natural light into their homes.
NEXT: Changing diet may reduce asthma symptoms
Sourced from: Science Daily, Blue Monday: Brutal Cold, Short Days, Post-Holiday Letdown Raise Risk of Depression
Can fast food make you depressed?
Some research suggests that too much fast food can lead to moodiness and depression. Here’s what you should know.