Want To Improve Your Memory? Drink Booze, Study Says


By Cooking Panda

Studying for an exam? Getting ready for a big presentation at work? Capping off your preparation with a drink or two could help you perform better, reports a study by the U.K.’s University of Exeter.

That’s right, researchers found that people who drank after a learning exercise remembered more of what they learned than those who didn’t drink. Maybe a couple of glasses of wine after a long day of learning isn’t such a guilty pleasure, after all.

The study, “Improved memory for information learnt before alcohol use in social drinkers tested in a naturalistic setting,” was published in the Nature research journal Scientific Reports.

Eighty-eight social drinkers were given a “word-learning task” before they were split into two groups: one of which drank an average of four alcoholic beverages and the other of which sipped strictly upon non-alcoholic libations.

Not only did the drinkers perform better on the same task the next day, but those who drank the most performed the best. 

This may make you scratch your head, as you typically associate alcohol with memory loss — or at least fogginess — rather than maintenance. Researchers believe that since your brain doesn’t store as many things you learn while you’re drinking, it has more of a chance to store the information you learn right before you knock back a margarita. 

“The causes of this effect are not fully understood, but the leading explanation is that alcohol blocks the learning of new information and therefore the brain has more resources available to lay down other recently learned information into long-term memory,” said University of Exeter professor Celia Morgan.

“The theory is that the hippocampus — the brain area really important in memory — switches to ‘consolidating’ memories, transferring from short into longer-term memory.”

The same results have been found in previous studies, but this is the first time people drank (or didn’t drink) in their own homes, rather than in a laboratory setting, according to the university. 

Struggling to remember everything you talked about in a boring meeting today? Here are some summer cocktails that just might call everything back to mind.

Source: University of Exeter / Photo credit: Pixabay

Tags: alcohol, drinking, memory, research, Study, university
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There’s A Scientific Reason Why People Love LaCroix


By Cooking Panda

I feel so vindicated right now, I’m beside myself.

When I was younger, I could not understand what my parents loved so much about seltzer water. It was bitter and fizzy, and felt bad sliding down my throat — and, frankly, back then I thought Kool-Aid was the ultimate thirst-quencher. Either that or chocolate milk.

Once I got to college, something changed. My hunch is that I grew a taste for it after accepting one too many vodka clubs at parties, but I graduated as a lover of seltzer water.

I’ve tried foisting it upon friends and family, and all of them claim that seltzer just doesn’t do anything when it comes to quenching their thirst.

But now science is here to back me up, folks, and I couldn’t be happier. A study published Oct. 3 in the Public Library of Science’s journal PLOS ONE basically confirmed that seltzer is the ultimate drink to alleviate thirst.

“We have a decent understanding of what turns thirst on, but need to better understand what turns it off so we can motivate the elderly and other at-risk populations to keep drinking their fluids,” said study senior author Paul A.S. Breslin, PhD, a sensory biologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center.

Researchers studied healthy participants between the ages of 20 and 50, and determined just how effective different beverages actually were at curing thirst by measuring how much water subjects reached for after drinking certain beverages.

“Our results confirmed what people tend to naturally do when they are thirsty: drink a cold and often carbonated beverage to feel a sensation of relief,” said study lead author Catherine Peyrot des Gachons, PhD, also a sensory biologist at Monell.

The factors that determined how hydrated participants felt were the temperature and carbonation level of the beverage, rather than the acidity or sweetness. Basically, you don’t want flat water, lukewarm water or soda when you’re looking for a hangover cure; a nice glass of chilled seltzer should do the trick.

Moving forward, the researchers want to begin exploring which sensory cues actually trigger a desire to drink; they hope to eventually help improve hydration in at-risk populations, including soldiers, athletes and the elderly.

Sources: Science Daily / Photo Credit: LaCroix Sparkling Water/Instagram

Tags: hydration, LaCroix, quenching thirst, research, sparkling water
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Science Says: A Latte A Day Keeps The Heart Attack Away


By Cooking Panda

Oh, go on: Have that extra shot of espresso in your morning coffee today, champ. You’ve earned it.

A York University study tracked 3,721 heart-attack survivors in the U.K. Findings demonstrated that heart-attack patients who drink one to two cups of coffee per day are 20 percent less likely to die prematurely from heart damage than patients who abstain from coffee completely, according to Fox News.

Excuse me while I pour my second cup — for my health.

Once you have a heart attack, you are at much higher risk for another one, or at least for developing heart failure in the future, so practicing heart-healthy habits is crucial for survivors.

Here are ten lifestyle tips for preventing heart attacks and heart disease, courtesy of Web MD:

  1. Eat well. That means lots of fruits, vegetables, grains, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids (think salmon or fresh tuna). Cutting down on salt, saturated fats, excess sugar and red meats doesn’t hurt, either.
  2. Destress. Prioritize your mental health and take active measures to treat yourself gently. Stressful emotions (such as hostility, rage, and prolonged irritation) could lead to heart attack risk.
  3. Quit smoking
  4. Track your blood sugar. Too much sugar could cause damage to your arteries.
  5. And your blood pressure. High blood pressure means a higher risk of heart attack and disease. Diet, exercise and stress management help keep this under control.
  6. Also your cholesterol intake.
  7. Try to stay within a healthy weight range
  8. Ask your doctor if aspirin is right for you. For some people, a daily low-dose aspirin helps reduce the risk of heart attack.
  9. Exercise. Go, go, go!
  10. Communicate. You’re not an island. Research shows people with wide social networks are less prone to heart trouble, so rely on the people around you.

Sources: Fox NewsWeb MD / Photo credit: Zee News


Tags: caffeine, coffee, health, research
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Do Angry Drunks Have A Lower Risk Of Becoming Obese?


By Cooking Panda

According to research, angry drunks may be shielded from conditions associated with obesity.

In previous research, investigators at the University of Helsinki established that a point mutation in a serotonin 2B receptor gene may render an individual prone to reckless behavior, especially while intoxicated.

“The results also indicate that persons with this mutation are more impulsive by nature even when sober, and they are more likely to struggle with self-control or mood disorders,” explained psychiatrist and the study’s lead researcher Dr. Roope Tikkanen, as reported by a University of Helsinki press release.

However, the research team also discovered that the same gene point mutation may protect these individuals from insulin resistance and obesity, conditions associated with type 2 diabetes.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, consisted of 98 Finnish men aged 25 to 50 with antisocial personality disorder diagnoses. Their BMI, insulin sensitivity, and beta cell activity were examined throughout the process.

According to the study’s results, carriers of the serotonin 2B gene point mutation had lower BMIs and higher insulin sensitivity than individuals without the point mutation. Although men with low levels of testosterone are generally more prone to metabolic disorders, this trend was reversed among men with the point mutation, as low levels of testosterone were correlated with an increased level of insulin sensitivity.

“It is fascinating to think that this receptor mutation which has been passed through the chain of evolution would impact both the brain as impulsive behavior and energy metabolism,” said Tikkanen, according to EurekAlert.

Tikkanen theorized that the effect of high levels of testosterone plus the mutation may have been essential for survival during prehistoric times.

“We could speculate that the compound effect the mutation and testosterone have on energy metabolism may have been beneficial in the cool, nutrition-poor environment after the Ice Age, particularly for men with a high physiological level of testosterone — they would have survived with a lower calorie intake,” Tikkanen theorized. “Simultaneously, the aggression associated with high levels of testosterone may have helped them compete for food.”

Although this study did not focus on women, researchers believe female carriers of the mutation would be similarly protected.

“One would assume that the effect would be particularly pronounced in women, who naturally have lower levels of testosterone than men,” Tikkanen said.

Sources: EurekAlert, University of Helsinki / Photo credit: McMenamins

Tags: alcoholic beverages, angry drunk, Finland, gene point mutation, research, serotonin 2B receptor, University of Helsinki
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Amazing News! Eating Chocolate Daily Is Good For You


By Cooking Panda

It appears that eating chocolate every day may be connected to some health benefits after all.

Based on a study conducted in Luxembourg, adults who eat chocolate daily are more likely to exhibit lower liver enzyme levels and insulin resistance, according to Endocrine Today.

Ala’a Al Kerwi, senior researcher in epidemiology and public health at the Luxembourg Institute of Health, and his team analyzed information from over 1,150 adults. Individuals were recruited between 2007 and 2009 to participate in the ORISCAV-LUX study, which was designed to monitor cardiovascular health.

After participants provided samples of hair, blood, and urine, investigators measured the amount of chocolate in grams that participants consumed daily using “a semiquantitative food-frequency questionnaire.” The participants’ blood glucose and insulin levels were analyzed in order to calculate homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). Researchers also examined various hepatic biomarkers during this time.

About 82 percent of the participants stated they ate chocolate. Such individuals were determined as more likely to be younger and physically active, with a higher level of education and socioeconomic status. However, the results of the study held up after adjusting for age, sex, education, lifestyle, and other dietary factors that may prove to confound the data.

“Chocolate consumption may improve hepatic enzyme levels and may protect against insulin resistance, a well-established risk factor for cardiometabolic disorders,” Al Kerwi explained to Endocrine Today. “Future research should focus on intervention trials in order to confirm this cross-sectional relationship.”

In a study published in Appetite, the consumption of chocolate was connected to cognitive performance as well.

About 970 people between the ages of 23 and 98 were analyzed from the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study (MSLS). Within this group, those who consumed chocolate more frequently performed better on various cognitive tests, such as Visual-Spatial Memory and Organization, Working Memory, Scanning and Tracking, Abstract Reasoning, the Mini-Mental State Examination, and the Global Composite score.

However, according to Delish, the study measured the frequency that chocolate was eaten every day, not the exact amount consumed. More research is needed to determine just how much chocolate is optimal to achieve these cognitive and physical benefits. 

Sources: Endocrine Today, Appetite/ScienceDirect, Delish / Photo credit: Mooca Festas

Tags: benefits of chocolate, chocolate, cognitive performance, insulin resistance, liver enzyme levels, research
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Want To Appear More Trustworthy? Try Eating The Same Food


By Cooking Panda

If you order the same meal as a colleague, client, friend, or even a love interest, you might be on the path to building a trusting relationship.

Food can play a role in connecting people and building trust across a variety of situations.

Therefore, researchers at the University of Chicago launched a series of experiments to measure the ways eating the same food could possibly affect developing relationships, according to research published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

In the first experiment, 176 participants who did not know each other were divided into pairs to play an economic game. In each pair, one individual pretended to be an investor while the other acted as a fund manager. Some pairs were given the same type of candy to eat, while others were given different candies.

Those who had eaten the same treats gave more money to their partners, compared to those who had consumed different candies.

“The amount of money the investor gave to the fund manager was basically the degree of trust,” study author Ayelet Fishbach, professor of behavioral science and marketing at the university’s Booth School of Business, told CBS. “And those assigned the same food gave more money.”

For the second experiment, 124 participants were paired in a mock strike negotiation. The pairs, which consisted of a mock union leader and a manager, typically reached an agreement nearly twice as fast when they had eaten similar foods.

“People tend to think that they use logic to make decisions, and they are largely unaware that food preferences can influence their thinking,” Fishbach explained, as reported by the Daily Mail.

In the final experiment, participants were more likely to trust a product testimonial when the person giving the rave reviews was eating the same food.

“People who eat similar foods are trusting each other, even if it really wasn’t intentional, and it’s going to affect the everyday, simple situations in which we are working with somebody else,” Fishbach said.

Researchers had also tested whether other factors, such as wearing shirts that were the same color, had a similar effect on perceived trust. Alas, it appears that the way to our hearts is indeed through our stomachs.

“If you think about it, cultures have done this for a long time,” added Fishbach. “It’s as simple as you and I having the same piece of candy.”

Sources: CBS, Daily Mail / Photo credit: Maple Pizza

Tags: building trust, eating the same food, food and relationships, research, University of Chicago
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Coffee Might Not Actually Keep You Awake


By Cooking Panda

Looks like coffee can only keep us alert and happy for so long.

According to research presented at the SLEEP 2016 Conference, coffee leads to more harm than good if you are constantly sleep-deprived.

Study participants were instructed to sleep for 10 hours a night over a five-day period, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. After which, the 48 individuals were limited to sleeping a mere five hours a night.

Half of the group received 200 milligrams of caffeine twice daily, which is the amount in a cup of strong coffee, while the rest of the participants were given a placebo. Both groups were presented with various tests to measure their mood, cognitive abilities, and wakefulness.

Based on the results, the caffeine was only effective for the first two days of sleep deprivation. After that, it was no more effective than the placebo.

“We were particularly surprised that the performance advantage conferred by two daily 200 mg doses of caffeine was lost after three nights of sleep restriction,” said Dr. Tracy Jill Doty, lead author of the study and research scientist at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

“These results are important, because caffeine is a stimulant widely used to counteract performance decline following periods of restricted sleep,” Doty continued. “The data from this study [suggest] that the same effective daily dose of caffeine is not sufficient to prevent performance decline over multiple days of restricted sleep.”

Furthermore, the participants in the caffeine group also said their mood was greatly affected over the course of the study. In fact, it appears that it’s better not to consume caffeine regularly if happiness is important to you.

“Likewise caffeine effectively increased sleep latencies and improved ratings of happiness only for the first few days of sleep restriction,” Doty explained, as reported by The Telegraph. “In fact over the final days of SR those in the caffeine group rated themselves more annoyed than those in the placebo group.”

As coffee has been forever deemed as possessing energy-boosting powers, more research needs to be done to determine the long-term effects of this reported misconception.

Or maybe, just maybe, we could try to get more sleep. 

Sources: Munchies, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, The Telegraph / Photo credit: The Telegraph

Tags: caffeine, coffee, research, sleep deprivation
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Breakfast Is Not As Important As You May Think


By Cooking Panda

Skipping breakfast may not be so bad after all.

Many of us have heard of the importance of breakfast, and its effect upon everything from our energy levels and weight loss to our ability to concentrate and perform well at school or work. However, Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, has argued that breakfast may not be as important as various articles and studies would lead us to believe.

“As with many other nutritional pieces of advice, our belief in the power of breakfast is based on misinterpreted research and biased studies,” he said.

Carroll stated that many research studies have discovered an alleged link between not eating breakfast and various health problems. However, between the informal language used to describe the outcomes of such studies, misleading ways in which other studies were cited, and the tendency for many studies to demonstrate correlation instead of causation, such studies should be viewed through a critical, skeptical eye.

Apart from methodological issues, many studies demonstrating the importance of breakfast are biased, Carroll explained. Kellogg’s sponsored an article that’s frequently used to demonstrate the association between eating cereal and being thin. The Quaker Oats Center of Excellence funded a study to demonstrate that eating frosted cornflakes or oatmeal can lead to a decrease in weight and cholesterol.

Other studies have focused on the effect of breakfast on children regarding their weight, behavior, and academic performance. However, such research is typically focused on free breakfast for children who are undernourished.

“It’s not hard to imagine that children who are hungry will do better if they are nourished,” Carroll said. “This isn’t the same, though, as testing whether children who are already well nourished and don’t want breakfast should be forced to eat it.”

Therefore, Carroll believes you shouldn’t be too concerned if you’re not hungry first thing in the morning.

“If you’re hungry, eat it,” he concluded. “But don’t feel bad if you’d rather skip it, and don’t listen to those who lecture you. Breakfast has no mystical powers.”

Source: The New York Times / Photo Credit: Scott Bauer, USDA ARS via Wikimedia Commons

Tags: bias, breakfast, overrated, research
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Veggie Burgers Might Not Be So Healthy After All


By Cooking Panda

A recent analysis has demonstrated that vegetarian burgers have a higher rate of food quality issues than their beefy counterparts.

Food analytics organization Clear Labs examined 258 samples of burgers from 79 brands and 22 retailers. While all of the patties were obtained in California, the types of samples were varied and included frozen, fresh, meat, and vegetarian patties as well as samples from fast-food restaurants and higher-end establishments.

Contamination and hygiene issues were “fairly evenly distributed” throughout the patties, regardless of how expensive they were.

“One piece of good news that came out of [the study] was that the rate of serious problems was lower than we anticipated in such a high-risk category,” says Clear Labs co-founder Mahni Ghorashi, according to Eater.

Regarding the more serious issues detected in the samples, 13.6 percent of the meat patties had issues such as missing ingredients, pathogens, product substitutions, and hygiene problems. Furthermore, 23.6 percent of the vegetarian samples demonstrated these severe problems, almost twice that of the meat samples.

“Consumers tend to move to veggie burgers as a safer alternative but in reality there are potentially high risks in that category,” explained Ghorashi. “In that category we found things like [two instances of] beef in veggie burgers, and a black bean burger that had no black beans in it whatsoever.”

In 16 samples, substitutions consisted of ingredients observed that weren’t on the ingredients label, such as rye, beef DNA, and pork DNA. All of the 14 samples that were missing ingredients were vegetarian samples. About 4 percent of the products contained pathogens, including a vegetarian product that tested positive for E. coli. Three samples contained rat DNA, which is “probably not that dangerous for you,” as stated by food safety experts.

“Safe cooking is the one thing that’s in the control of the consumer — as long as you cook it properly, you likely won’t get sick because you’d at least be eating cooked rat DNA,” said Shelley Feist, executive director of Temperature Partnership for Food Safety. “The element might still be in the food, but the bacteria and pathogens will be killed.”

Interestingly enough, the biggest problem observed in the food samples, as stated by the researchers, was nutrition.

“There is a significant delta between the amount of calories, fat, and carbs you thought you were consuming, and the amounts actually in the burgers,” explained Ghorashi.

Sources: Eater, Clear Labs / Photo credit: Recipes Hubs

Tags: hamburgers, pathogens, research, veggie burgers
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Blueberries May Alleviate Symptoms Of PTSD


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According to research, eating blueberries may lessen the distress caused by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Conducted at Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, investigators aimed to analyze the affect of blueberries on PTDS by inducing a form of the disorder in rats, according to News Wise. By concentrating on a gene called SKA2, which is generally expressed at extremely low levels in people who have committed suicide, researchers determined that the PTSD animals had a low level of this gene compared to the control rats.

Ultimately, the study suggests that eating two cups of blueberries a day, which would have been the human equivalent of the amount the rats received, may prove beneficial for people who suffer from PTSD.

“Since these levels increased when we fed them blueberries, the findings suggest that a nonpharmacological agent like blueberries can have an effect on the expression of this important gene,” said Joseph Francis, Ph.D., Professor of Veterinary Medicine at Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and the study’s senior author.

Researchers now want to examine the links between the SKA2 gene and serotonin levels to see if blueberries may lessen depressive and suicidal tendencies through a specific biological pathway.

“There is an urgent need to identify novel targets for treating PTSD,” Francis explained. “Based on our findings, blueberries can not only increase serotonin, but also increase SKA2 levels, thereby potentially protecting against untoward behavior.”

Francis stated that various medications used to treat depression, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have had limited success in patients with PTSD, and his team of investigators aims to close the gap for those with PTSD who had not been successful with conventional medication.

“And in the meantime, it seems safe to say that eating blueberries can’t hurt—and may help—in people with PTSD,” Francis said.

Source: News Wise / Photo Credit: Rediscover Tasmania

Tags: blueberries, PTSD, research
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