Sleep ‘boosts brain cell numbers’

Boy sleeping

Scientists are only just unravelling the precise mysteries of why we sleep

Scientists believe they have discovered a new reason why we need to sleep – it replenishes a type of brain cell.

Sleep ramps up the production of cells that go on to make an insulating material known as myelin which protects our brain’s circuitry. The findings, so far in mice, could lead to insights about sleep’s role in brain repair and growth as well as the disease MS, says the Wisconsin team.

The work is in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Dr Chiara Cirelli and colleagues from the University of Wisconsin found that the production rate of the myelin making cells, immature oligodendrocytes, doubled as mice slept. The increase was most marked during the type of sleep that is associated with dreaming – REM or rapid eye movement sleep – and was driven by genes.

In contrast, the genes involved in cell death and stress responses were turned on when the mice were forced to stay awake.

Precisely why we need to sleep has baffled scientists for centuries. It’s obvious that we need to sleep to feel rested and for our mind to function well – but the biological processes that go on as we slumber have only started to be uncovered relatively recently.

Growth and repair

Dr Cirelli said: “For a long time, sleep researchers focused on how the activity of nerve cells differs when animals are awake versus when they are asleep.

“Now it is clear that the way other supporting cells in the nervous system operate also changes significantly depending on whether the animal is asleep or awake.”

The researchers say their findings suggest that sleep loss might aggravate some symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that damages myelin.

Scientists are only just unravelling the precise mysteries of why we sleep

Nerve cells wrapped in myelin

Myelin ensheaths nerves to protect them and speed up their signalling

In MS, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the myelin coating of nerves in the brain and spinal cord.

Future studies could look at whether or not sleep affects the symptoms of MS, says Dr Cirelli.

Her team is also interested in testing whether lack of sleep, especially during adolescence, may have long-term consequences for the brain.

Sleep appears necessary for our nervous systems to work properly, says the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Deep sleep coincides with the release of growth hormone in children and young adults. Many of the body’s cells also show increased production and reduced breakdown of proteins during deep sleep.

Since proteins are the building blocks needed for cell growth and for repair of damage from factors like stress and ultraviolet rays, deep sleep may truly be “beauty sleep”, says NINDS.


5 reasons why we may outlive our kids

These are the five reasons why our youth may not be as lucky as the generation ahead of them.One has to wonder, based on recent statistics, whether the evolution of mankind might be reversing itself. These are the five reasons why our youth may not be as lucky as the generation ahead of them.

1. Cars are still a leading killer. 
For people ages 5 to 34, motor vehicle accidents are still the leading cause of death, claiming over 18,000 lives per year. When you superimpose the effects of alcohol on driving, the statistics get even worse.

While safety standards have become more stringent every year, especially for younger drivers, the risk of using a phone or texting while driving is a major hazard for our youth that didn’t exist 10 years ago.

While many car manufacturers, such as General Motors, have now implemented solutions such as vocal Facebook for your car, the number of distractions that teens and other young people have while driving has only increased. With the onslaught of new “super gadgets,” the distractions will get even worse.

2. Drowning in alcohol and drugs 
According to a recent survey funded by the US Department of Education, 81 percent of students used alcohol in the previous year. Furthermore, 62 percent of underage students consumed alcohol in the previous 30 days. The even more startling statistic is that 44 percent of students reported binge drinking during the previous 2 weeks.

The implications of alcohol among high school and college students is further worsening the mortality risk of these individuals by not only putting them in jeopardy for accidents, but also other health conditions related to depression and other risky behavior.

Colleges across the country are challenged by the enormous rise in alcohol consumption, which is impacting the well-being of the youth, often outside the purview of any supervising adult.

The use of drugs, in addition to alcohol, is another compounding factor for morbidity. The 30-day prevalence of amphetamines was as much as 5 percent and for marijuana as much as 16 percent. In an environment where stress and anxiety are rampant, and over 40 percent of college students are on some kind of medication, the number of students using alcohol and drugs is worrisome. The same survey respondents revealed that 82 percent of them viewed drinking as the central focus of their social life.

3. Battling the bulge
Rising rates of obesity are reaching epidemic levels. September, in fact, has been dedicated to building awareness for childhood obesity.

Over the past several decades, more than 23 million children and teenagers have become obese or overweight, which is about one in three kids. These children are at risk for developing heart disease, diabetes and stroke – in addition to suffering the social consequences of being overweight.

The social environment in which many children are raised is impacting the nutrition and habits of our youth. Undoubtedly, the demands and stresses of the current environment have made it more convenient for children to consume food that is high in calories and poor in nutritional content.

The movement among schools to improve the nutritional value of food and beverages  available to children is a positive step in the right direction, but the rate at which the obesity epidemic is growing requires a much more aggressive push by parents, schools, colleges, manufacturers and many others to ensure that we break this trend quickly.

4. Kids need a heart
A recent report by the CBC revealed that while fewer people in the US are succumbing to cardiovascular disease most of the improvement was in the elderly population as opposed to the youth. The fact that the rates of decline were lower for older adults than younger ones is truly worrisome.

A major risk factor for heart disease is smoking. Recent reports suggest that 21 to 25 percent of younger adults smoke, in comparison with 10 percent of the elderly.

Some suggest that the reason for this increase in the prevalence of heart disease is because young adults who lack insurance have not obtained the necessary screening or treatment. It will be interesting to study the impact of recent changes resulting from ObamaCare, to see if this trend reverses as younger people are encouraged to purchase insurance.

Again, the impact of obesity and diet as contributing factors to the development of hypertension and diabetes will require a more aggressive approach to ensure that the rate of heart disease improves over the next few decades.

5. Down in the Dumps
The impact of mental health issues on adolescents has significant undertones to all of the previous four issues. The number of children who experience some sort of anxiety or depression is rising, as well, at a staggering rate.

The reason for this rise may be because we are better at diagnosing the condition or because there are truly more environmental and circumstantial factors that push our kids over the edge.

An interesting analysis of parents who discipline their teenagers with hostile screaming and cursing revealed that many of these children go on to develop significant behavior issues, some violent, later in life.

Many of the unfortunate tragedies and mass killings that have occurred recently have a common theme: an individual who has been suffering from some form of mental illness goes on a rampage to take innocent lives. While homicide and suicide remain at the top of the list of causes of death among the young, one has to really wonder the impact of mental health issues in contributing to these statistics.

The influence of social media on the pressures of current youth cannot be underestimated either. There have been many reports that question  whether Facebook is doing more harm than good, and whether it has undermined the ability for adolescents to adequately communicate with each other.

Twenty years ago, the incidents of obesity, alcohol, drugs, depression were not as prevalent. As a society, the future of our youth is truly at risk and many of these issues are interrelated. How we address them will determine whether our kids will really live longer than their parents
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Scientists find possible new way of fighting high blood pressure

Researchers at Britain’s Bristol University removed nerve links between the brain and the carotid body blood pressure fell and remained low.

Scientists experimenting with rats have found that de-activating certain nerves in the neck can effectively treat high blood pressure – a discovery that could be an advance in tackling one of the world’s biggest silent killers.

Researchers at Britain’s Bristol University found that in rats with high blood pressure, when they removed nerve links between the brain and the carotid body – a nodule about the size of a grain of rice on the side of each carotid artery – the animals’ blood pressure fell and remained low.

The researcher’s results, published in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday, have already led the team on to conduct a small human trial of the technique, with results expected at the end of this year.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is referred to by the World Health Organization as one of the world’s biggest silent killers because most people who have it can’t feel or see it.

It affects around one in three people worldwide and can cause stroke, heart attacks and kidney failure.

After diagnosis, treatment of high blood pressure needs to lifelong and many patients are able to manage their condition with anti-hypertension drugs. But experts say that for around 1 in 50 of them, medication does not help.

Julian Paton, who led this latest study at Bristol’s school of physiology and pharmacology, said while scientists already knew of a link between the carotid organs and hypertension, until now them “had absolutely no idea that they contributed so massively to the generation of high blood pressure.”

Tim Chico, as consultant cardiologist at the University of Sheffield who was not directly involved in the research, described the technique as “exciting and innovative” but cautioned that more work was needed to assess its effectiveness and safety before it could be considered for use in patients.

Normally, Paton explained, the carotid body acts to regulate the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.

It is stimulated when oxygen levels fall in the blood – such as when someone is holding their breath. This then causes a dramatic increase in breathing and blood pressure until blood oxygen levels are restored.

Having established that this response comes about through a nerve connection between the carotid body and the brain, Paton’s team decided to block the nerve endings in the neck and found that it swiftly brought their blood pressure down.

Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded this latest research, said all eyes are now on the human trial aiming to find out whether the treatment might work in people with high blood pressure who don’t get better with current drugs.

Tony Heagerty, a professor of medicine at Manchester University who was not involved in the study, said it was an interesting development which could “potentially avoid the use of drugs which have to be taken on a daily basis for many years.”
Read more: Fox News


Top 10: homemade remedies to cure acidity


Do you have unpleasant burning sensation in your stomach? Don’t worry; we bring you simple and effective home remedies that can help you to reduce the intensity of acidity




If you are suffering from gastritis, then clove acts as the wonder drug to relieve from this sensation. Just take about two cloves and slightly bite them so that juices keep oozing out. Soon, the problem will vanish.


Cumin Seeds

Cumin seeds

Take a teaspoon of cumin seeds, roast, and crush them in such a manner that they don’t become powder. Then add a glass of water and have it with every meal. It does wonders.






Jaggery can help a lot in treating heartburn and acidity.

Consume a small lump and allow it to get dissolved in your mouth to get relief from acidity. But, this remedy should not be tried by people who have diabetes.







Raita prepared with curd added with grated cucumber and coriander will surely aid in digestion and eliminate acidity.





Basil leaves


Basil leaves are popular for their medicinal properties. Chewing around 5-6 basil leaves relieves acidity. One can also make a blend of crushed basil leaves and dried leaves which can be consumed with water or tea or simply be swallowed.

Simple and most easy homemade remedy to treat acidity is consuming butter-milk mixed with a ¼ teaspoon of black pepper powder. 






mint juice or chew raw mint leaves after meals everyday to keep acidity and indigestion away from you.






Ginger is considered as a cure-all herb as it helps in treating so many different kinds of conditions. Consume the right amount of ginger about half an hour before each meal and feel the difference.
Milk contains large amount of calcium which helps in preventing build-up of stomach acid. So, drink a glass of milk after your meal to soothe your stomach after having a spicy meal.




Vanilla ice cream 

A cup of vanilla ice cream not just savors your tooth but also helps gastritis. This is an easy home remedy to fight acidity.