Happy Pi Day

Thought I would join in the Pi Day fun with this info-graphic. Since this is a special day seems a shame not to cerebrate.

I hope you enjoy a Byte or two.

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If you insist on getting serious about it, check out Steven Strogatz’s Why Pi Matters in this back issue of The New Yorker. Here is just a snippet- “So it’s fair to ask: Why do mathematicians care so much about pi? Is it some kind of weird circle fixation? Hardly. The beauty of pi, in part, is that it puts infinity within reach. Even young children get this. The digits of pi never end and never show a pattern. They go on forever, seemingly at random—except that they can’t possibly be random, because they embody the order inherent in a perfect circle. This tension between order and randomness is one of the most tantalizing aspects of pi….”

Tony

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A Covid-19 Share

I didn’t write the following, nor am I a doctor, but in the plethora of information on the Covid-19 virus circulating right now, I thought it seemed exceedingly straightforward and helpful. I hope you do, too.

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Tony

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How about some good luck foods for Friday the 13th?

Feeling blue on Friday the 13th? Perhaps you are triscadecaphobic, which is to say, fearful of Friday the 13th.

The publication Environmental Nutrition offers the following 5 foods that are super nutritious and might bring you good luck at least in terms of your general health.

Amazing avocados, is their first offering. “Ounce for ounce, they contain more blood-pressure lowering potassium than bananas. Avocados are rich in good-for-you monounsaturated fats, and cholesterole-lowering beta-sitosterol and cancer-protective glutathione, along with Vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6 and fiber.”

Brain-boosting blueberries come in second. “These little blue marvels are the antioxidant leaders, plump and nearly 4 grams of fiber per cup and a good dose of vitamin C. They also have cancer-protective ellagic acid, and may boost your brain health and vision.”

Anti-cancer Brazil nuts come in third. “This hearty tree nut is a ‘trigger food’ that may cause cancer cells to self-destruct. It’s a super source of selenium, a promising anti-cancer trace mineral that also promotes DNA repair and boosts immunity. Just two medium nuts contain enough selenium to perhaps reduce the incidence of prostate, colon and lung cancers.”

Good old Broccoli is number four. “Here’s an easy way to get two cancer-blockers that modify natural estrogens into less damaging forms and increase the activity of enzymes that fight carcinogens. Aim for three servings a week of broccoli or its cruciferous cousins.”

Number five is Butternut Squash. “This tasty fruit (yes, fruit) is an exceptional source of beta-carotene, the antiooxidant tyour body converts to vitamin A. But it’s also an overlooked source of bone-building calcium.”

So, look on the bright side and focus on the great nutritional benefits you can derive from these five super foods and forget about the fact that today is Friday the 13th. Just don’t walk under any ladders.

Tony

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Weekend funnies …

Must confess that one of my favorite things about Friday is Weekend Funnies. I appreciate that you may have your own ideas on that.

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Have a great weekend!

Tony

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Viewership soars for misleading tobacco videos on YouTube

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In an article published in the Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review, APPC researchers found that from 2013 to 2019, different kinds of popular tobacco-themed YouTube videos saw “dramatic increases in views per day, especially for tutorials about vaping products.”

The research follows up on a 2013 content analysis done by APPC which identified five major categories of pro-tobacco videos on YouTube. For example, among instructional or “how-to” videos, the highest-performing video in 2013 was on how to use a pipe, with just over 62,000 total views or 47 views per day. But in 2019, the most-viewed instructional video was on “the art of vape,” which had logged over 40 million total views or over 68,000 per day.

Another category is managing risk, in which videos claim that the risks of tobacco use can be managed by various fixes, without offering scientific evidence. In this category, the top-performing 2013 video concerned cigarette smoking, with 85,000 total views or 63 views per day. In 2019, the top-viewed video in this category was on vaping, which had over 3.5 million views or over 1,600 per day.

“The easy access of such material suggests that YouTube is a fertile environment for the promotion of tobacco products despite its banning of tobacco advertising,” the researchers said.

YouTube, tobacco videos, and adolescents

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How our brain gets ‘washed’ during sleep

I have an entire Page of articles relating to the importance of a good night’s sleep. which you can check at your leisure. Following is yet another aspect of benefits available from sleeping.

For the first time, a new study has observed that cerebrospinal fluid washes in and out of the brain in waves during sleep, helping clear out waste.

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Recently, Medical News Today reported on a study that found that specialized immune cells are more active in the brain during sleep, busy performing maintenance work.

Researchers know that sleep is important — not just in terms of allowing the brain to re-actualize, but also for “making space” for “cleaning” processes to take place. Continue reading

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Individual response to COVID-19 seen ‘as important’ as government action

With the world waiting to see the next government action to deal with the worldwide spread of COVID-19, the University of Oxford among others how individuals respond can be as important as the steps taken by governments.

How individuals respond to government advice on preventing the spread of COVID-19 will be at least as important, if not more important, than government action, according to a new commentary from researchers at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London in the UK, and Utrecht University and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands.

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As the UK moves into the “delay” phase of dealing with a possible COVID-19 epidemic, a new commentary, published in The Lancet, looks at what we know so far about the new virus. The researchers, led by Professor Sir Roy Anderson at Imperial College and Professor Deirdre Hollingsworth at the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute, also suggest what can be done to minimize its spread and its impact. Continue reading

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Prolong your life with plant-based protein? – Harvard

Eat less; move more; live longer. Words to live by.

Harvard Medical School recently noted that eating plant-based protein may help you to live longer, according to a new study.

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The study included 70,000 Japanese men and women ages 45 to 74 with no history of cancer, heart disease, or stroke. They filled out detailed diet questionnaires at the start of the study and again every five years.

After an average of 18 years, researchers found no clear association between animal protein intake and longevity. (Of note, most of the animal protein in the typical Japanese diet comes from fish, not red meat.) But participants who ate the most plant-based protein — mainly from grains, soy products, and vegetables — had a lower rate of death compared with those who ate the lowest amounts.

In addition, substituting plant protein for animal protein (mainly red or processed meat) was linked to a lower risk of dying from heart disease or cancer. The study was published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

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Your clock springs forward today

At 2:00 o’clock this morning you needed to set your clock one hour ahead – spring forward – to participate in Daylight Savings Time. Some explanations for this practice include to help the harvest for farmers by providing more daylight working hours.

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But, what does it mean to the rest of us non-agrarian folks?

Well, this morning if you are on a schedule, like catching an airplane or something, you lost an hour of sleep, so you may be somewhat sleep-deprived the rest of the day. This being Sunday, maybe you just slept in. If that is the case, you will start your day an hour later, but otherwise, no harm, no foul.

Later, however, we all will experience the magic of moving an hour of daylight from the morning to the afternoon – Daylight Savings. If you want to enjoy the outdoors, you now have an extra hour of daylight to do so in the afternoon.

As a health-oriented person, I welcome this daylight saving because I can now ride my bike later without having to deal with the dangers of darkness and street lights and reduced visibility.

If you are on the fence about what Daylight Savings Time means to you, let me suggest that you can now get out and enjoy a walk in the neighborhood or to the park and drink in some of nature’s wonders.

In January I posted an infographic listing six benefits of exercising in nature, they included: Fresh air has more oxygen; Greenscapes raise serotonin levels; Triggers primal regions of our brain and psyche; More sensory stimulation; Increases feelings of well-being and lowers depression and, finally, Sun exposure increases Vitamin D levels and helps optimize hormones.

Lastly, Gretchen Reynolds, writing in the New York Times said, “In a number of recent studies, volunteers have been asked to go for two walks for the same time or distance — one inside, usually on a treadmill or around a track, the other outdoors. In virtually all of the studies, the volunteers reported enjoying the outside activity more and, on subsequent psychological tests, scored significantly higher on measures of vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure and self-esteem and lower on tension, depression and fatigue after they walked outside.”

So smile, things are looking up. You will have a brighter day today. I guarantee it (an extra hour of sunlight). At the very least, get out and go for a walk.

Tony

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How Sleep Is Affected by Time Changes – WebMD

We are all going to be springing forward Sunday morning as we set our clocks ahead one hour. But, is that an innocent action as far as our body is concerned? WebMd has some useful tips on the temporal alteration.

The daylight-saving time change will force most of us to spring forward and advance our clocks one hour. This effectively moves an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening, giving us those long summer nights. But waking up Monday morning may not be so easy, having lost an hour of precious sleep and perhaps driving to work in the dark with an extra jolt of java. How time changes actually affect you depends on your own personal health, sleep habits, and lifestyle.

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Moving our clocks in either direction changes the principal time cue — light — for setting and resetting our 24-hour natural cycle, or circadian rhythm. In doing so, our internal clock becomes out of sync or mismatched with our current day-night cycle. How well we adapt to this depends on several things.

In general, “losing” an hour in the spring is more difficult to adjust to than “gaining” an hour in the fall. It is similar to airplane travel; traveling east we lose time. An “earlier” bedtime may cause difficulty falling asleep and increased wakefulness during the early part of the night. Going west, we fall asleep easily but may have a difficult time waking.

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Weekend funnies

2020 keeps marching along doesn’t it? I can’t believe two months have already gone by. I am enjoying the extra hours of daylight though. How about you?

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Tony

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App, AI work together to provide rapid at-home assessment of coronavirus risk

A coronavirus app coupled with machine intelligence will soon enable an individual to get an at-home risk assessment based on how they feel and where they’ve been in about a minute, and direct those deemed at risk to the nearest definitive testing facility, investigators say.

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A coronavirus app coupled with machine intelligence will soon enable an individual to get an at-home risk assessment based on how they feel and where they’ve been in about a minute, and direct those deemed at risk to the nearest definitive testing facility, investigators say.

It will also help provide local and public health officials with real time information on emerging demographics of those most at risk for coronavirus so they can better target prevention and treatment initiatives, the Medical College of Georgia investigators report in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

“We wanted to help identify people who are at high risk for coronavirus, help expedite their access to screening and to medical care and reduce spread of this infectious disease,” says Dr. Arni S.R. Srinivasa Rao, director of the Laboratory for Theory and Mathematical Modeling in the MCG Division of Infectious Diseases at Augusta University and the study’s corresponding author. Continue reading

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Early Exercise Habits May Lead to Better Adult Physical Fitness, BMI Performance

How many times do we have to say it? Eat less; move more; live longer. Here, it is supported by a new study presented at the Association of Academic Physiatrists Annual Meeting in Orlando.

Good exercise habits formed in adolescence correlate positively with exercise habits in adults, and adults with good exercise habits have better physical performance and appropriate body-mass index scores for their age, according to the study.

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Regular exercise habits can lead to better physical fitness and mental health in people of all ages. However, research shows that people in the United States and Canada tend to exercise less as their age increases, and the most significant drop-offs in exercise habits take place during the teenage and early adult years. For this retrospective study, researchers in Taiwan wanted to know if exercise habits formed in adolescence could affect physical fitness in later adulthood, and to assess the relationship between adolescent and adult exercise habits and its influence on later physical fitness. Continue reading

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Wake Forest scientists create sophisticated lab model of the human body

Scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) have developed the world’s most sophisticated laboratory model of the human body, creating a system of miniaturized organs that can be used to detect harmful and adverse effects of drugs before they are prescribed to patients. Using such a system in screening potential pharmaceuticals could have a significant impact on speeding new drugs to market, lowering the cost of clinical trials, and reducing or eliminating animal testing.

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The system, developed from funding provided by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), is built from many human cell types that are combined into human tissues representing a majority of the organs in the human body such as the heart, liver and lungs. Each of these miniature organs are tiny 3D tissue-like structures about one millionth the size of an adult human organ. The system can be used to mimic tissues/organs and can be used as a testing and predicting platform. Continue reading

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Preventing Heart Disease – Harvard

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. One person dies every 37 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. About 647,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.

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The following is from the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard.

When heart experts talk about prevention, they usually refer to one of three types: secondary, primary and primordial prevention. [1] All three have similar elements, but different starting times and different effects.

Despite the power of individual behavior change, it must be noted that unfavorable eating patterns are driven by a variety of biological, social, economic, and psychological factors. This is acknowledged in a 2018 review paper, which recommends that “governments should focus on cardiovascular disease as a global threat and enact policies that will reach all levels of society and create a food environment wherein healthy foods are accessible, affordable, and desirable.” [22] The central illustration of the paper (below) highlights several policy strategies that may help boost healthy eating, such as improving nutrition labels, regulating food marketing, and promoting healthy school and work environments. Continue reading

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Does smoking increase your risk for dementia and cognitive decline?

Regular readers know that I have written repeatedly about the dangers of smoking as well as vaping. To read more check out my Page – How many ways does smoking harm you?

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Scientists from the Uniformed Services University (USU), Emory University and the University of Vermont have found that cigarette smoking is linked to increased lesions in the brain’s white matter, called white matter hyperintensities.  White matter hyperintensities, detected by MRI scan, are associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. These findings may help explain the link between smoking and increased rates of dementia and other forms of cognitive decline.

The study, “Associations of cigarette smoking with gray and white matter in the UK Biobank” was published online in the journal, Neuropsychopharmacology.
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