By MacLean Fitzgerald | Neuroscience asks, have you ever wondered why scratching an itch can make it feel MORE itchy, not less? A group of researchers has been looking into this phenomenon, and has recently found that a brain feedback loop may be partly responsible for it.
The scientists, from Washington University in St. Louis, found that when you scratch an itch your brain releases a bit of serotonin to control the pain. But the serotonin can move from the brain to the spinal cord, where it intensifies the itchy sensations instead of controlling the pain.
Lead author Zhou-Feng Chen summed the finding up by saying, “We always have wondered why this vicious itch-pain cycle occurs. Our findings suggest that the events happen in this order. First, you scratch, and that causes a sensation of pain. Then you make more serotonin to control the pain. But serotonin does more than only inhibit pain. Our new finding shows that it also makes itch worse by activating GRPR neurons through 5HT1A receptors.”
To learn more, you can read this in-depth article.
By Roberto A. Ferdman from the Washing Post :
The kids are not all right. But they think they are.
A team of researchers at Georgia Southern University found an alarming rise in the lack of self awareness among children and teenagers in the United States. Specifically, way more overweight adolescents are oblivious today to the fact that they ought to lose weight than were in decades past—and it’s a big problem.
“The trend is very dangerous,” said Dr. Jian Zhang, who describes the phenomenon as a vicious cycle.
It’s also very complicated. Teenagers suffer through a lot of things, including an acute pressure of appearance. As a result, this is a worry that stems from health concerns, but requires a difficult balance in educating young people without causing or furthering anxiety about body image.
The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, an in-depth study of the nutritional status of adults and children in the United States, which tracked, among other things, the health of nearly 2,000 teenagers between the ages of 12 and 16 in the early 1990s and over 2,500 teenagers in the same age range between 2007 and 2012. As part of the study, participants’ body mass index—which is a fairly reliable measure of obesity among children, though less so among adults—was collected, along with the response to this rather straightforward question: “Do you consider yourself to be overweight, underweight, or just about the right weight?”
Our Third Hot Spot is on Tuesday, August 4th during National Night Out.
Healthy Lombard is participating in this cohesive effort to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
Healthy Lombard will be hosting
Twin Fitness Challenge at
Lombard Park District’s Paradise Bay Water Park.
Kids can participate anytime between 5 – 8 PM.
For detailed information, click on the Flat Apple 2015 Page in the main menu.
Come by, have fun, earn raffle tickets!
By Chad Hayes Special to The Washington Post All right, parents, it’s time for a change. Childhood obesity is a very real problem, and I’ve seen plenty of examples among my patients: a 4-year-old weighing 75 pounds, an 8-year-old heavier than me, a teenager weighing in just north of 350 (and climbing). It’s truly disturbing.
The fight against childhood obesity has gained an incredible amount of attention in the world of public health. Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign has a great website about nutrition, exercise and healthful lifestyles. The American Academy of Pediatrics has launched an educational site for parents about similar topics. The Department of Agriculture has developed Choose My Plate, another resource with nearly limitless information about healthful eating. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled several pages of statistics regarding childhood obesity.
Schools around the country have taken steps to improve the quality of their meals and to remove unhealthful drinks and snacks from vending machines. But those efforts alone can’t solve the problem: It’s up to you to control what your kids eat.
I know, this is a touchy subject. It’s never easy for me to look parents in the eye and tell them that their child is obese, and it’s even more difficult when the child is in the room. I always emphasize that I’m not bringing these issues up because I disapprove of the young person’s appearance. That’s not the issue.
LAURAN NEERGAARD, ASSOCIATED PRESS writes:
Exercise may do more than keep a healthy brain fit: New research suggests working up a good sweat may also offer some help once memory starts to slide— and even improve life for people with Alzheimer’s.
The effects were modest, but a series of studies reported Thursday found vigorous workouts by people with mild memory impairment decreased levels of a warped protein linked to risk of later Alzheimer’s — and improved quality of life for people who already were in early stages of the disease.
“Regular aerobic exercise could be a fountain of youth for the brain,” said cognitive neuroscientist Laura Baker of Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina, who reported some of the research at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.
Doctors have long advised that people keep active as they get older. Exercise is good for the heart, which in turn is good for the brain. Lots of research shows physical activity can improve cognition in healthy older people, potentially lowering their risk of developing dementia.
The advertising industry is incredibly adept when it comes to grabbing our attention for the few seconds it takes to create a lasting impression. And this is never more true than when we’re talking about alcohol advertising. Designed to capture attention with images of alcohol and drinking that look fun, exciting, and sophisticated, it’s a kind of advertising that sells an identity just as much as it sells products. Alcohol may be ostensibly marketed towards legal drinkers, but advertisers, by design, aren’t only targeting adults. In an effort to turn today’s youth into tomorrow’s adult drinkers, alcohol advertising is increasingly targeting young people; but what effect is it having?
Alcohol Marketing that Targets Young People
There’s no doubt that binge drinking—and drinking for the sole purposes of being intoxicated—has become normalized in Western culture, and one way in which this is happening is through the media and advertising. Combined with the fact that young people tend to be more susceptible to marketing and advertising than adults, and it seems a foregone conclusion that alcohol companies would focus their efforts on this particular age group. Through a variety of different means, these advertisers are finding ways to appeal specifically to the youth market.
Researcher Shawn Achor says to those who think of happiness as a “nice to have” luxury or something that comes after a lifetime of sacrifice, happiness researcher Shawn Achor, head of Goodthink and author of “The Happiness Advantage,” is on a mission to change minds, hearts and lives.
His research has found that choosing simple happiness habits that take no longer than brushing your teeth can boost your mood, make you happier and, as a result, healthier, more productive and creative at work and closer to those you love at home.
Here he talks about his theories:
Q: So what can readers do to create more happiness in their own lives?
A: I’ve been looking at five habits that are akin to brushing your teeth. Very short habits that if you do them every day, will improve your health, but also improve your levels of happiness.
1. Three Acts of Gratitude. Spend two minutes a day scanning the world for three new things you’re grateful for. And do that for 21 days.
The reason why that’s powerful is you’re training your brain to scan the world in a new pattern, you’re scanning for positives, instead of scanning for threats. It’s the fastest way of teaching optimism.
Start with one small change. You probably won’t be able to taste the difference. Slowly try making other changes, one at a time.
1. Reduce fat.
- Choose low-fat or nonfat versions of mayonnaise and dairy products like milk, cheese, sour cream, and yogurt.
- Use canola oil in place of half the butter when you bake. For instance, if your recipe calls for ½ cup butter, use ¼ cup each butter and oil. Or, if the recipe calls for the butter to be melted, try using canola oil in place of all of the butter.
- When pan-cooking, spray the skillet with non-stick cooking spray instead of coating with butter or oil.
- Bake, broil, or grill instead of frying.
- Choose full-flavored cheeses, such as sharp cheddar, Parmesan, and blue cheese, instead of mild ones. The stronger taste means you can use less and still get big flavor.
- Toast nuts before adding to a recipe. The bolder flavor means you can use fewer nuts.
2. Cut calories.
- Use half the amount of ingredients used to decorate or top a recipe, such as frosting, coconut, grated cheese, breadcrumbs, or nuts. Or, don’t use it at all.
- Reduce the amount of sugar called for by one-third. Chances are you won’t miss it.
- Use half the amount of “add-in” ingredients when baking, such as nuts, chocolate chips or dried fruit.
- Always measure your oil. Do not pour it straight from the bottle. Using an extra tablespoon adds 120 calories to your dish.