Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition!
I already did. It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Some wonderful news.
This post was waiting to happen for quite long now, but I think its time finally has come. I think I have attached some very exiting articles on the healthy life, so I urge you to read them (I shortened them a great deal).
Anyway, what impressed me today was the first article in the list - that scientists have detected that the mindfulness meditation provokes changes in the brain's white tissues and myelin, along with improved moods changin in the participants. And the best part is that it happened after only a month of 22 minutes/a day meditation. Just imagine what you could achieve by meditating longer or by varying the type of meditation. What a better reason to start meditating today than this?!
The reason why this is such a great news is that for more people, meditation sounds almost like magic - something mystical, almost mythological, that has nothing to do with science. Well, this IS science. And if science can measure the effect of the meditation in the brain, then clearly, it is a real thing.
Of course, people already meditate (or want to) won't need any convincing, while skeptics would remain skeptic no matter what. But for those of you, who are open for something cool and new, try this meditation for a month. Even if it might be unsuccessful on Day One, or even on Day 15, as long as you honestly try it, everyday, for 15 minutes, by the end of the month, you'll already see the difference it makes. I kind of see it as a hygiene issue. You can meditate for different reasons like spiritual development or relaxation or looking for an escape from the daily routine and stress - it doesn't matter. In the end, the meditation feels like a shower for the mind. You sit patiently, do (or "undo") the thing and when you're done, your mind is fresh and clean and ready for action. So for me, this is just one of the basic skills that everyone must learn. The best part of it is that it requires no religion, no belief, no education. It just requires persistence and action. Everything else just happens.

Anyway, you can read the article below. As for the other news, here's a digest.

  1. Turmeric has been observed to extend lifespan in healthy nematode worms by more than 50 percent and slow the disease process in worms bred to mimic aspects of Alzheimer's.
  2. Tomatoes (half a liter of tomato juice taken daily, or 50 grams of tomato paste) have been associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, including hardened arteries, heart attacks and strokes. Also lowering the blood pressure are both garlic and dark chocolate.
  3. Plants of the mustard family, such as cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts were proved to help defend against bacteria
  4. The traditional Chinese medicinal plant commonly known as thunder god vine, or lei gong teng seems to really block the growth of 60 cancer cell lines.
  5. Triclosan found in soaps and even toothpastes may alter hormone regulation in laboratory animals or cause antibiotic resistance. 
The moral - turmeric, tomatoes, chocolate, garlic, cabbage, broccoli and lei gong teng are good for our health. Triclosan is not. Try to avoid it.

I hope I have been useful with this post. With time, I grow convinced that Nature indeed has provided so many resources for our happy and healthy existence. We just don't know our planet enough to use it. And maybe, we have lost our ability to know it, to discover its miracles without technology. Medicine is something great, we have achieved so much with it. But there is so much more to know, to master, to develop. And we really should not only study the Nature, but also learn from it using the scientific approach. And as we see, remarkable discoveries happen every now and then. Let's hope that sooner rather than later, the aging and age-related diseases (along with many others like cancer and so on and so on) will be conquered and we would finally be able to start thinking BIG.
Have a wonderful day!

Chinese mindfulness meditation prompts double positive punch in brain white matter

June 11, 2012
Scientists studying the Chinese mindfulness meditation known as integrative body-mind training (IBMT) say they've confirmed and expanded their findings on changes in structural efficiency of white matter in the brain that can be related to positive behavioral changes in subjects practicing the technique regularly for a month.
In a paper appearing this week in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists Yi-Yuan Tang and Michael Posner report improved mood changes coincided with increased axonal density -- more brain-signaling connections -- and an expansion of myelin, the protective fatty tissue that surrounds the axons, in the brain's anterior cingulate region.
Deficits in activation of the anterior cingulate cortex have been associated with attention deficit disorder, dementia, depression, schizophrenia and many other disorders.
IBMT was adapted from traditional Chinese medicine in the 1990s in China, where it is practiced by thousands of people. It differs from other forms of meditation because it depends heavily on the inducement of a high degree of awareness and balance of the body, mind and environment. The meditative state is facilitated through training and trainer-group dynamics, harmony and resonance. source

Nature study shows common lab dye is a wonder drug -- for worms

March 30, 2011 
Basic Yellow 1, a dye used in neuroscience laboratories around the world to detect damaged protein in Alzheimer's disease, is a wonder drug for nematode worms. In a study appearing in the March 30, online edition of Nature, the dye, also known as Thioflavin T, (ThT) extended lifespan in healthy nematode worms by more than 50 percent and slowed the disease process in worms bred to mimic aspects of Alzheimer's. The research, conducted at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, could open new ways to intervene in aging and age-related disease.
Alavez said curcumin, the active ingredient in the popular Indian spice turmeric, also had a significant positive impact on both healthy worms and those bred to express a gene associated with Alzheimer's. Curcumin is currently being tested in several human clinical trials for conditions ranging from colon cancer to rheumatoid arthritis to depression.source

Tomatoes may help ward off heart disease

May 18, 2011 
Medical Xpress) -- A University of Adelaide study has shown that tomatoes may be an effective alternative to medication in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, thus preventing cardiovascular disease.
A paper published by Dr. Karin Ried in the international journal Maturitas reveals that a bright red pigment called lycopene found in and to a lesser extent in watermelon, guava, papaya, pink grapefruit and rosehip has antioxidant properties that are vital to good health.
"Our study suggests that if more than 25 milligrams of lycopene is taken daily, it can reduce LDL-cholesterol by up to 10%," Dr. Ried says.
Tomatoes in particular have high levels of lycopene, with half a liter of tomato juice taken daily, or 50 grams of tomato paste, providing protection against heart disease.
Dr. Ried says lycopene is better absorbed in processed and cooked tomatoes or tomato paste rather than fresh tomatoes. As a supplement, lypocene is available in soft gelatine capsules or tablets.
"Research shows that high lycopene consumption has been associated with a decreased , including hardened arteries, heart attacks and strokes."
The study was funded by the Australian Department of Health and Ageing.
Dr. Ried and her colleagues have received international recognition for other clinical studies which show the benefits of both garlic and dark chocolate in helping to lower blood pressure. source

What is good for you is bad for infectious bacteria

March 3, 2011 
Plants are able to protect themselves from most bacteria, but some bacteria are able to breach their defences. In research to be published in Science on Friday, scientists have identified the genes used by some strains of the bacterium Pseudomonas to overwhelm defensive natural products produced by plants of the mustard family, or crucifers.
The scientists have confirmed that the chemicals used by cruciferous plants to defend against bacteria are isothiocyanates, nitrogen and sulphur-containing produced by plants of the mustard family, such as cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. These potent molecules have antioxidant, anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties in humans.
Isothiocyanates are released by the plant when it is challenged or eaten. They had previously been shown to be active against bacteria but this is the first time their essential role has been successfully tested using real plants. Isothiocyanates also provide a chemical barrier to harmful fungi and a toxic defence warning to insects and other herbivores. source

Solving a traditional Chinese medicine mystery

March 3, 2011 
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have discovered that a natural product isolated from a traditional Chinese medicinal plant commonly known as thunder god vine, or lei gong teng, and used for hundreds of years to treat many conditions including rheumatoid arthritis works by blocking gene control machinery in the cell. The report, published as a cover story of the March issue of Nature Chemical Biology, suggests that the natural product could be a starting point for developing new anticancer drugs.
Triptolide, the purified from the plant Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F, has been shown in animal models to be effective against cancer, arthritis and skin graft rejection. In fact, says Liu, triptolide has been shown to block the growth of all 60 U.S. National Cancer Institute cell lines at very low doses, and even causes some of those cell lines to die. Other experiments have suggested that triptolide interferes with proteins known to activate genes, which gives Liu and colleagues an entry point into their research. source
 

Scientists identify protein that improves DNA repair under stress

June 16, 2011 
Cells in the human body are constantly being exposed to stress from environmental chemicals or errors in routine cellular processes. While stress can cause damage, it can also provide the stimulus for undoing the damage. New research by a team of scientists at the University of Rochester has unveiled an important new mechanism that allows cells to recognize when they are under stress and prime the DNA repair machinery to respond to the threat of damage. Their findings are published in the current issue of Science.
The scientists, led by biologists Vera Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov, focused on the most dangerous type of DNA damage – double strand breaks. Unrepaired, this type of damage can lead to premature aging and cancer. They studied how oxidative affects efficiency of . Oxidative stress occurs when the body is unable to neutralize the highly-reactive molecules, which are typically produced during routine cellular activities.
The research team found that human cells undergoing oxidative stress synthesized more of a protein called SIRT6. By increasing SIRT6 levels, cells were able to stimulate their ability to double strand breaks. When the cells were treated with a drug that inactivated SIRT6, DNA repair came to a halt, thus confirming the role of SIRT6 in DNA repair. Gorbunova notes that the SIRT6 protein is structurally related to another protein, SIR2, which has been shown to extend lifespan in multiple model organisms.
The next step for Gorbunova and Seluanov is to identify the chemical activators that increase the activity of SIRT6.  source


Drug Makers’ Feared Enemy Switches Sides, as Their Lawyer - Michael K. Loucks was arguably the nation’s most influential prosecutor of health care fraud. He racked up numerous convictions and mega-settlements in nearly a quarter-century, using whistle-blowers and secret grand juries to pressure major pharmaceutical and health companies into ending illegal practices like kickbacks to doctors and misuse of blockbuster drugs.
But a year and a half ago, Mr. Loucks, a Republican, left the United States attorney’s office in Boston and has startled former allies by emerging in recent months as zealous a corporate defender as he was a prosecutor, complete with proposals seeking more lenient treatment for the medical companies he once vilified.
Antibacterial Chemical Raises Safety Issues
The Food and Drug Administration  is reviewing the safety of the chemical, which was created more than 40 years ago as a surgical scrub for hospitals. Triclosan is now in a range of consumer products, including soaps, kitchen cutting boards and even a best-selling toothpaste, Colgate Total.
Several studies have shown that triclosan may alter hormone regulation in laboratory animals or cause antibiotic resistance, and some consumer groups and members of Congress want it banned in antiseptic products like hand soap. The F.D.A. has already said that soap with triclosan is no more effective than washing with ordinary soap and water, a finding that manufacturers dispute.
The F.D.A. was to announce the results of its review several months ago, but now says the timing is uncertain and unlikely until next year.

Cuba releases world's first lung cancer vaccine  -- As the most common and deadliest form of cancer, lung cancer kills 1.4 million people per year worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. While current treatments may improve the survival rate when the cancer is caught in its early stages, the five-year survival rate for late-stage lung cancer can be less than 1%. Now some patients with advanced lung cancer may have another tool to combat the disease, as Cuban medical authorities announced on Tuesday that they will begin selling the world’s first therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer.
The vaccine, called CimaVax-EGF, is intended for patients with lung cancer in stages three and four who have shown no positive response to other kinds of treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Although the vaccine doesn’t cure the disease, it can minimize the cancer’s growth due to its antibodies that combat the proteins that allow uncontrolled cell growth.

Study of Medical Device Rules Is Attacked, Unseen - Allies of the medical device industry are waging an extraordinary campaign in Washington to discredit a coming report by one of the country’s pre-eminent scientific groups that examines possible new regulations on the industry.
The scientific group, the Institute of Medicine, is scheduled to release a report on Friday that could propose a tougher approval process for a wide range of devices like hip implants, hospital pumps and external heart defibrillators.

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