Study says reading on tablets can affect your memory and creativity

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

Using digital platforms such as tablets and laptops for reading may make you more inclined to focus on concrete details rather than interpreting information more abstractly – a factor that can affect your problem-solving ability and creative thinking. Considered as the most complex stage in the development of cognitive thinking, abstract thinking helps us conceptualise, draw conclusions, or interpret complex ideas. Impaired abstract thinking is frequently associated with reduced foresight, judgment, insight, reasoning, creativity, problem solving, and mental flexibility, according to LEARNet, a programme of the Brain Injury Association of New York State. ‘There has been a great deal of research on how digital platforms might be affecting attention, distractibility and mindfulness, and these studies build on this work, by focusing on a relatively understudied construct,’ said lead researcher Geoff Kaufman, assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, US.

In order to study the basic question of whether processing the same information on one platform or the other would trigger a different baseline ‘interpretive lens’ or mindset, the research tried to hold as many factors as possible constant between the digital and non-digital platforms. A total of more than 300 participants, aged 20 to 24 years, took part in the four studies that the researchers conducted. In one of the studies, participants were asked to read a short story by author David Sedaris on either a physical printout (non-digital) or in a PDF on laptop (digital), and were then asked to take a pop-quiz, paper-and-pencil comprehension test. For the abstract questions, on average, participants using the non-digital platform scored higher on inference questions with 66 percent correct, as compared to those using the digital platform, who had 48 percent correct.

On the concrete questions, participants using the digital platform scored better with 73 percent correct, as compared to those using the non-digital platform, who had 58 percent correct. In a second study, participants were asked to read a table of information about four, fictitious Japanese car models on either a laptop screen or paper print-out, and were then asked to select which car model is superior. Sixty-six percent of the participants using the non-digital platform (printed materials) reported the correct answer, as compared to 43 percent of those using the digital platform. Triggering a more abstract mindset prior to an information processing task on a digital platform, however, appeared to help facilitate a better performance on tasks that require abstract thinking, the study found. The study was published in the proceedings of Association for Computing Machinery’s ongoing conference on human factors in computing (CHI) in San Jose, California.

Source: IANS

Keep diabetes, obesity and heart disease away with oranges and grapes

Blog By: Suryakant Tripathi

You can keep obesity, diabetes and heart disease at bay by consuming a mixture of red grapes and oranges, suggests a new study. The University of Warwick researchers found that a combination of two compounds found in red grapes and oranges could be used to improve the health of people with diabetes, and reduce cases of obesity and heart disease. Paul Thornalley, who led the research, said that this is an incredibly exciting development and could have a massive impact on their ability to treat these diseases. As well as helping to treat diabetes and heart disease it could defuse the obesity time bomb.
The team studied two compounds found in fruits but not usually found together. The compounds are trans-resveratrol (tRES), found in red grapes, and hesperetin (HESP), found in oranges. When given jointly at pharmaceutical doses the compounds acted in tandem to decrease blood glucose, improve the action of insulin and improve the health of arteries.
The compounds act by increasing a protein called glyoxalase 1 (Glo1) in the body which neutralises a damaging sugar-derived compound called methylglyoxal (MG). Thirty-two overweight and obese people within the 18-80 age range, who had a BMI between 25 – 40, took part in the trial. He noted, ‘As exciting as our breakthrough is it is important to stress that physical activity, diet, other lifestyle factors and current treatments should be adhered to.’ Thornalley and his team are now hoping manufacturers will want to explore the use of the compound as pharmaceutical products. The study appears in the journal Diabetes.

Source: ANI

Expert-recommended Indian diet plan for weight loss

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

If you’ve tried and been unsuccessful in your weight loss efforts, it is probably because you did not follow the right diet or were unable to continue it due to the bland taste. We Indians are used to a certain flavour in our food and cannot really give up eating rotis and rice. But did you know you can lose weight on a desi diet too?

Here we List down some rules for people looking to lose weight by eating Indian diet.

Eat every two hours: Don’t wait till you get hungry. It is important to consciously eat at the right time for your body’s metabolism to work optimally.

Control your portion size: Get your portion size right by charting it out depending on your weight loss goals, etc. Here are some common measures: One serving of fruit equals to a tennis ball sized fruit (you can include more than one fruit if they are smaller in size). One serving of rice is one-third cup cooked rice.

Avoid anything that has saturated fats: Switch to things which are low-fat. Say no to buffalo milk which is full fat. Have only 2 tsp of oil/ghee per day.

Shun sugar: They just add empty calories to your body. One can get enough natural sugar from seasonal fruits and dry fruits. If you want to sweeten something, add stevia as it a natural sweetener. Though honey and jaggery have other good properties, if you are on a weight loss diet, you should stay away from them as they too add empty calories. Read stevia as it a natural sweetener. Though honey and jaggery have other good properties, if you are on a weight loss diet, you should stay away from them as they too add empty calories.

Drink enough water: Keep yourself hydrated by drinking enough water every day. A simple way to find this out is by checking the colour of your urine. It should be pale yellow in colour. If it is lighter or darker than that, it may indicate that you are not drinking enough water.

Taking painkillers could reduce your ability to feel empathy

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

A painkiller can have many more benefits than you can think. Commonly used to treat headaches, muscle aches, arthritis, backache, colds and fevers can relive pain, it is said to be likely to decrease empathy for both the physical and social aches that other people experience, a new study suggests. ‘Acetaminophen can serve as a painkiller as well as reduce empathy,’ said one of the researchers Dominik Mischkowski from Ohio State University. The results showed that when participants who took acetaminophen — the main ingredient in the painkiller Tylenol — learned about the misfortunes of others, they thought these individuals experienced less pain and suffering, when compared to those who took no painkiller.

‘The findings suggest other people’s pain doesn’t seem as big of a deal to you when you’ve taken acetaminophen,’ Mischkowski added in the paper appeared in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. ‘Empathy is important. If you are having an argument with your spouse and you just took acetaminophen, this research suggests you might be less understanding of what you did to hurt your spouse’s feelings,’ Mischkowski stated. Previous studies showed that acetaminophen also blunts positive emotions like joy. Taken together, the two studies suggest there’s a lot we need to learn about one of the most popular over-the-counter drugs, the researchers said adding that the reason for these effects are still unclear.

In the study, the team conducted experiment involving 80 college students. Half the students drank a liquid containing 1,000 mg of acetaminophen, while the other half drank a placebo solution that contained no drug. The students didn’t know which group they were in. After waiting one hour for the drug to take effect, the participants read eight short scenarios in which someone suffered some sort of pain. The participants who took acetaminophen rated the pain of the people in the scenarios to be less severe than did those who took the placebo.

Sourc: IANS

How to gain weight in 10 simple steps

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

Looking to bulk up? You can now add muscle and put on some weight easily with the help of these 10 simple tips.

1. Eat 5 to 6 meals a day
In order to gain weight, you need to start eating 5-6 meals a day. However, it is important that you break these meals into parts, as eating a lot at once may result in indigestion and your body may not be able to absorb all the nutrients. It may be possible that you won’t find yourself hungry 3 hours after eating lunch, but eat anyway and notice how your appetite increases from day to day.

2. Weight train at least 3 times a week
When you train with weights, your muscles grow. Also, it is important that you gradually keep increasing the weight with which you train. As you train, your strength will increase. For instance, if you are doing lateral pulldowns with 30 kilos of weight, try and increase it to 35 kilos the next time. Read more to find out how you can do weight training at home. Also read about strength training exercises for women.

3. Consume 300-500 calories more
Eating 300-500 calories more than your normal intake may not be easy, but you must do it if you want to stop being skinny. Make sure you don’t do it just by overeating at once, but instead do it gradually over the whole day.

4. Work out your entire body
There are some muscles you can clearly see and admire in the mirror and some muscles you cannot. A lot of gym goers usually train only the muscles on their arms, chest and shoulders and this is a grave error. Firstly, it will give you a disproportionate body that not many people like. Also, it will make you prone to injuries. Therefore, make sure you workout for entire body for a complete look.

5. Load up on protein
As informed earlier, you have to consume 300-500 more calories than your normal intake every day. You can do this by eating protein-rich foods like cheese, meat, eggs, etc.

6. Drink your calories
It may be tough to meet your calorie requirements by just eating. Drinking milk, milkshakes or protein shakes with little or no sugar can be a great way to load up on the required calories.

7. Try and eat fast (but don’t choke on it)
People who are trying to lose weight are advised exactly the opposite but for the same reason. Your body takes some time to give signals of satiety which is why eating fast can help you eat more.

8. Focus on recovery after each workout
Stretching exercises, showers, foods rich in carbohydrates can help recover your body significantly. Try the wheat germ recipe after a nice workout for instant energy. Also, you should aim for 8 hours of sleep as inadequate sleep can cause several problems.

9. Be patient with yourself
Hoping to gain weight quickly in a healthy manner is unrealistic. Even if you follow all the advice that is there, you may end up gaining just 1-2 kilos in a month. Every body is different, and just because you are not seeing results in terms of weight gain, you shouldn’t feel discouraged. Living healthy by eating the right diet will make you feel better and more positive about life and increase your strength.

10. Believe in yourself
Following your regimen may seem incredibly difficult if you don’t believe that you will one day be able to transform your body. If you are not seeing any gains even after working so hard, work harder. Eat more, lift more and stay inspired.

Stay away from your smartphones! They can make your hyperactive

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

Are you getting bored easily when trying to focus, or having difficulty doing quiet tasks and activities? If yes, the pervasive use of a smartphone could be the reason behind these attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)-like symptoms, new research suggests. Recent polls have shown that as many as 95 percent of smartphone users have used their phones during social gatherings; that seven in 10 people used their phones while working; and one in 10 admitted to checking their phones during sex. Smartphone owners spend nearly two hours per day using their phones, said lead researcher Kostadin Kushlev from University of Virginia in the US.

‘We found the first experimental evidence that smartphone interruptions can cause greater inattention and hyperactivity – symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – even in people drawn from a nonclinical population,’ Kushlev said. During the study, 221 students at University of British Columbia in Canada drawn from the general student population were assigned for one week to maximise phone interruptions by keeping notification alerts on, and their phones within easy reach. During another week participants were assigned to minimise phone interruptions by keeping alerts off and their phones away. At the end of each week, participants completed questionnaires assessing inattention and hyperactivity.

The results showed that the participants experienced significantly higher levels of inattention and hyperactivity when alerts were turned on. The results suggest that even people who have not been diagnosed with ADHD may experience some of the disorder’s symptoms, including distraction, difficulty focusing and getting bored easily when trying to focus, fidgeting, having trouble sitting still, difficulty doing quiet tasks and activities, and restlessness. ‘Smartphones may contribute to these symptoms by serving as a quick and easy source of distraction,’ Kushlev said. The silver lining is that the problem can be turned off. The findings were presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s the human-computer interaction conference in San Jose, California.

Source: IANS

Starting ART for HIV patients on the day of diagnosis can be better for their health

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

Initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV patients on the day of diagnosis leads to improved health outcomes, results of a clinical trial in South Africa show. The World Health Organisation recommends that people with HIV should start treatment soon after diagnosis. Despite those guidelines, most people with HIV in South Africa, which has world’s largest HIV treatment programme, start ART later than they should, said lead author of the study Sydney Rosen, research professor of global health at Boston University School of Public Health in the US. Once they get to a clinic, the treatment initiation process is long and complicated, Rosen said, with a first visit for an HIV test, a second visit to determine treatment eligibility, and several more visits for a physical exam, adherence education and counseling.

The researchers hypothesised that offering patients a chance to start treatment on the same day as their first clinic visit would improve the proportion of patients who made it through all the steps and were successfully established on ART. The study randomly assigned 377 adult patients at two public clinics in Johannesburg to two groups — one that was offered the chance to start treatment on the same day, using rapid lab tests and accelerated counseling and a physical exam, and the other assigned to standard treatment procedures, usually requiring three to five more clinic visits over a two- to four-week period.

The researchers found that the same-day initiation of antiretroviral therapy led to a higher proportion of people starting treatment and to better health outcomes. The study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, found that 97 percent of patients in the rapid-initiation group (dubbed the RapIT intervention) had started ART within 90 days, compared to 72 percent receiving standard care. And by 10 months after enrollment, 64 percent of patients in the rapid group had good outcomes, in terms of viral suppression, compared to 51 percent in the standard arm. ‘The RapIT intervention showed clinically meaningful improvements in ART uptake and viral suppression, providing proof of principle that a single-visit treatment approach can have benefits,’ Rosen said.

Source: IANS

10 reasons why eating ragi is a great idea

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

Even though India is the highest producer of finger millet (ragi or nachni), contributing to about 58% of its global production, very few Indians know about its health benefits and nutritional value. If you’re among those who are unaware about the benefits of including nachni in your diet, we give you 10 reasons why you should.

1# Rich in calcium: No other cereal comes close to ragi when it comes to calcium content. Calcium is a significant factor when it comes to bone development and prevention of osteoporosis. Replacing calcium pills with a ragi kanji or porridge and including it in the diet of growing children is a good way to reap its benefits. You may also like to know the 9 reasons you should eat calcium rich foods.

2# Helps in weight loss: The natural fat content in ragi is lower than all other cereals. Also, this fat is in its unsaturated form. Thus, substituting it for wheat and rice is a good choice for people trying to lose weight. It also contains an amino acid called tryptophan which reduces appetite.

3# High fibre content: As compared to white rice, ragi contains higher amounts of dietary fibre. Due to this, ragi aids digestion, prevents over-eating and makes you feel full for a longer span of time. The amino acids lecithin and methionine help in decreasing the cholesterol levels of your body by getting rid of the excess fat in the liver. On the other hand, threonine hinders the formation of fat in the liver and provides overall reduction of body cholesterol.

4# Regulates blood sugar levels: The high polyphenol and fibre content has another perk. Diabetic patients can trust ragi to create a restrained build in glucose level. Diets that regularly include ragi have been known to have lower glycemic response. This is mostly down to the inclusion of bran in ragi as the grain is too small to be polished and milled. Know about how whole grains can prevent type 2 diabetes.

5# Battles anemia: Ragi is an excellent source of natural iron. Patients of anaemia and low haemoglobin levels can begin to include ragi in their diets as a domestic remedy. Vitamin C is known to aid the absorption of iron. Once ragi is allowed to sprout, the vitamin C levels increase and lead to further absorption of iron into the bloodstream. Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of anemia.

6# Natural relaxant: The ample amount of amino acids and antioxidants in ragi help the body relax naturally. Common ailments like anxiety, insomnia, headaches and depression can be battled with ragi. The amino acid called Tryptophan is a major contributor to the relaxing effects of ragi.

7# Reduces the risk of stroke: In its early stages of growth, that is, when it is still green, ragi can help prevent high blood pressure. The cholesterol levels in blood can be regulated too, leading to less plaque formation and blockage of vessels. As a result the risk for hypertension and stroke goes down significantly. You make like to read about the 6 lifestyle tips to prevent stroke.

8# Gluten-free: People with celiac disease or followers of the gluten-free diet can incorporate ragi into their daily consumption as it is completely free of gluten. Not many cereals can boast of this property since gluten is a major nutrient in all cereals.

9# Excellent baby food: In Southern India, where ragi is widely consumed, babies as old as 28 days are fed ragi porridge at their christening. It is believed that ragi promotes better digestion. The high calcium and iron content is useful for the bone growth and overall development of the infant. Specially-processed ragi powders for infants are available widely to be used during weaning.

10# Boosts lactation: Lactating mothers are urged to include ragi, especially when it is green as it enhances milk handling and imbibes the milk with the essential amino acids, iron and calcium required for the nutrition of the mother as well as the child. The production of milk is also affected positively. Ragi is prescribed to the mothers that wish to increase the quantity of milk produced for their baby.

Junk food addiction can increase your blood sugar levels and make diabetes worse!

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

Junk food has been the culprit for many lifestyle related diseases and long suffering ailments and not to mention diabetes tops the list among the conditions that junk food leads too. A new study just found that junk food diet can cause as much damage to the kidney as diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is often associated with obesity and the numbers of cases are rising worldwide at an alarming rate. In type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t react to it. This causes an accumulation of sugar in the blood, which can have severe long-term consequences for organs, including the kidneys, where it can lead to diabetic kidney disease.

Hence, finding a way to block glucose reabsorption in the kidneys could offer a potential treatment for lowering blood sugar levels. In the study, researchers used animal models of diabetes and models of diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance to see how insulin resistance and too much sugar or fat affect glucose transporters in the kidney.

They found that certain types of glucose transporters (GLUT and SGLT) as well as their regulatory proteins were present in a higher number in type 2 diabetic rats. But a high fat diet and junk food diet caused a similar increase in those receptors. Dr Havovi Chichger said that the Western diet contains more and more processed junk food and fat and there is a well-established link between excessive consumption of this type of food and recent increases in the prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

She added that in their study, type 1 and type 2 diabetes both induce changes in glucose transport in the kidney, but junk food or a diet high in fat causes changes that are very similar to those found in type 2 diabetes. Chichger said a new treatment for diabetic patients constitutes blocking the glucose transporter in the kidney to reduce blood glucose levels. Understanding how diet can affect sugar handling in the kidneys and whether the inhibitors can reverse these changes could help to protect the kidneys from further damage.
The study appears in the journal Experimental Physiology.

Source: ANI