murilo + the_optimist   516

Cancer deaths have fallen drastically over the last 25 years
Cancer is the second-leading cause of death among Americans, behind only heart disease. But there’s good news: the cancer death rate has drastically declined over the past 25 years, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society (ACS).
The_Optimist 
9 days ago by murilo
This device turns sunlight into potable water—even in the desert
Water scarcity is real. This company thinks it has a solution.

Zero Mass Water uses some nifty science to squeeze potable water from the air. Founder Cody Friesen, a materials scientist and associate professor at Arizona State University, spent nearly seven years developing the Source Hydropanel. Using solar power, a single system can produce enough drinking water for two to three people each day--even in desert conditions
The_Optimist 
18 days ago by murilo
Why Bill Gates is betting big on reinventing the toilet
Bill Gates believes that reinventing the toilet can not only save half a million lives, but it can also save $200 billion-plus annually in costs linked to diarrhea and other diseases caused by poor sanitation. Gates is so convinced that his foundation has already spent $200 million over the past seven years to create a novel toilet that can eliminate harmful pathogens and convert bodily waste into clean water, fertilizer, and even energy. Have a look here to see how Gates’ reinvented toilet could save money and lives all around the world
The_Optimist 
18 days ago by murilo
Why Whole-Fat Milk and Yogurt Are Healthier Than You Think
For years, experts have recommended low-fat dairy products over the full-fat versions, which are higher in calories and contain more saturated fat. Recent research, however, indicates that full-fat dairy may actually be healthier than its reputation suggests, and that people who eat full-fat dairy are not more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes than people who consume low-fat dairy. They may even be less likely to gain weight.

The research suggests that eating dairy products of all kinds is associated with a lower risk of premature death, cardiovascular disease and stroke. “About three servings of dairy a day is associated with a lower risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease,” says study co-author Mahshid Dehghan, a nutrition epidemiology researcher at the Population Health Research Institute in Canada. “We are suggesting that dairy is healthy, and people should be encouraged to consume dairy.”

The new research has several limitations. The study participants only completed one diet survey at the beginning of the research period, so the results did not capture changes in eating patterns over time. The follow-up period of nine years was also relatively short, in terms of measuring long-term health outcomes like cardiovascular disease. And observational studies can never prove cause and effect, only point out patterns and associations.

Plus, while patterns were consistent across regions, many of the countries in the PURE study are low- or middle-income. Residents of these nations tend to eat less dairy than people in wealthy countries, which may mean they stand to benefit more from increasing consumption than people in the U.S. and other developed areas. There also was not much data for people eating more than three servings of dairy per day, which means it wasn’t possible to say how very heavy consumption affects health.

Pharmaceutical companies including Boehringer Ingelheim and GlaxoSmithKline also helped fund the research, though they were not involved in the study’s design or production. GlaxoSmithKline makes Horlicks, a milk-based nutritional beverage, while Boehringer Ingelheim’s animal health division makes medications for dairy cows.
The_Optimist  Health 
18 days ago by murilo
These pants will outlive you
A clothing company has manufactured a type of pants that are expected to last as long as 100 years. The pants are made from an innovative, three-layer material, which is resistant to abrasions, fire, and is also water-repellent. If their cost of $645 seems like a fortune for a pair of pants, keep in mind that even your grandchildren might wear them one day.
The_Optimist 
18 days ago by murilo
Richard Branson will give $3 million to whoever reinvents the air conditioner
Global warming and people rising out of poverty are sure to bring about a big surge in the production of air conditioning units, which are massive energy consumers. Richard Branson, having realized the risk this poses in our quest to reach our climate goals, has started a $3 million competition to spur new air conditioning technology. To have any chance at winning, participants must come up with a solution that has five times less climate impact than a standard AC at no more than twice the cost.
The_Optimist 
9 weeks ago by murilo
Solar Foods
Solar Foods to team with the European Space Agency Business Incubation Programme on food production on Mars
The Finnish company Solar Foods, producing proteins using only air and electricity as the main resources, has been selected for the Business Incubation Programme of the European Space Agency (ESA). The goal for Solar Foods is to develop a system for producing proteins for space flights to Mars.

The Solar Foods method requires carbon dioxide, water and electricity, combined with a small amount of trace elements. The bioreactor tank made of steel is a small, lightweight device that makes possible a process for producing food in space. The journey to Mars takes several months, and success requires the ability to produce food during both outbound and inbound flights, as well as on the planet itself. The ESA Business Incubation Centre in Finland has requested Solar Foods submit a proposal for food production in space conditions.

“The conditions in Mars colonies are very different from those on Earth, but they have sunshine, and there are huge amounts of carbon dioxide in the planet’s atmosphere,” says Kimmo Isbjörnssund, Manager, ESA Business Incubation Centre Finland. “The pioneering technology of Solar Foods enables a new way of producing food even in closed spaces. We assume that ingredients available at the Mars base can be used with the new technology.”
The_Optimist 
11 weeks ago by murilo
Electric food – the new sci-fi diet that could save our planet
But could we go beyond even a plant-based diet? Could we go beyond agriculture itself? What if, instead of producing food from soil, we were to produce it from air? What if, instead of basing our nutrition on photosynthesis, we were to use electricity to fuel a process whose conversion of sunlight into food is 10 times more efficient?

This sounds like science fiction, but it is already approaching commercialisation. For the past year, a group of Finnish researchers has been producing food without either animals or plants. Their only ingredients are hydrogen-oxidising bacteria, electricity from solar panels, a small amount of water, carbon dioxide drawn from the air, nitrogen and trace quantities of minerals such as calcium, sodium, potassium and zinc. The food they have produced is 50% to 60% protein; the rest is carbohydrate and fat. They have started a company (Solar Foods) that seeks to open its first factory in 2021. This week it was selected as an incubation project by the European Space Agency.
The_Optimist 
11 weeks ago by murilo
Novel research finds mechanism that induces self-destruction in cancer cells
What was originally a study focused on finding the natural mechanisms that could protect organisms from cancer has led to a stunning finding: the researchers have discovered that inside every cell within the human body is a toxic code designed to trigger self-destruction if it senses a cell is turning cancerous. Now that the researchers have decoded the exact mechanism that can destroy cancer cells, the hope is that it can lead to entirely novel kind of cancer treatment.
Health  The_Optimist 
11 weeks ago by murilo
Forget coffee. These five yoga poses will give you all the energy you need
Downward Facing Dog
Start in a plank pose, then press your hips up and back so your body is in an inverted ‘V.’ Hold this for 10 breaths. Repeat three to five times.

Why you need it in the a.m.: It’s a go-to yoga pose for good reason: “It will activate nearly every muscle group in your body to kick off the day,” Chavez says.
The_Optimist  Yoga 
11 weeks ago by murilo
The European Union will get rid of single-use plastic by 2021
The European parliament has overwhelmingly backed a wide-ranging ban on single-use plastics in an effort to tackle pollution in seas, fields and waterways.

Under the proposed directive, items such as plastic straws, cotton swabs, disposable plastic plates and cutlery would be banned by 2021, and 90% of plastic bottle recycled by 2025.
The_Optimist 
12 weeks ago by murilo
Study: Cannabis oil provides alleviation for patients with Crohn's disease
Scientists have found yet another striking benefit of the cannabis plant. Researchers in Israel discovered that the cannabis oil made from the plant can alleviate the symptoms of Chron’s disease, In the study, 65 percent of patients using the cannabis oil saw full clinical remission in their symptoms after eight weeks of treatment. Although the oil has been found to help sufferers of Chron’s disease, the researchers are still puzzled as to why this happens.
The_Optimist 
12 weeks ago by murilo
Carbon Removal Technologies
It's time to invest and avidly pursue a new wave of technological solutions to this problem - including those that are risky, unproven, even unlikely to work. It's time to take big swings at this. As a start in this direction, we are going to present four categories focused on removing CO2 that we think deserve more research and attention - which YC would be excited to fund. These ideas press on the limit of what's possible, and we're not sure which side of that line they're on. We know there are a lot of ideas out there, and we want to take an expansive approach to this challenge. That's why we're open to funding companies as well as non-profit research.
The_Optimist 
12 weeks ago by murilo
Startup accelerator to fund ambitious efforts to rid our atmosphere of CO2
To have any chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius–the threshold if the world wants to avoid the worst impacts of climate change–a recent report says that we’re going to need not just to cut emissions, but capture CO2 that’s already in the atmosphere. Some of that technology already exists, like machines that suck carbon dioxide directly out of the air.

But a new request for startups from Y Combinator, the Silicon Valley startup accelerator, calls for businesses to take much wilder approaches to capturing carbon.

The request asks for startups to tackle challenges like creating genetically engineered plankton that could live in the open ocean, capturing carbon through photosynthesis and turning the ocean into a much bigger carbon sink than it already is. In a variation on that idea, the desert could be flooded with desalinated water, creating huge pools that could also grow phytoplankton.

The accelerator also wants to fund startups that can accelerate the process of converting CO2 into mineral bicarbonate
The_Optimist 
12 weeks ago by murilo
A compound found in apples can slow down aging
In the recent study, the researchers tested 10 flavonoids, which are naturally occurring compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, in aging mice.

Of all the compounds they looked into, the one that was most effective was fisetin, which naturally occurs in many fruits and vegetables — including apples, strawberries, onions, and cucumbers.

When treating aging mice with fisetin, the team saw that it reduced the levels of senescent cells in the animals, prolonging their lifespan and contributing to better health.
The_Optimist  Health 
12 weeks ago by murilo
Designers created a shipping container that mimics clouds to create clean water
A device that can pull drinking water from the air just won the latest XPrize

The design, from the Skysource/Skywater Alliance, just won $1.5 million in the Water Abundance XPrize. The competition, which launched in 2016, asked designers to build a device that could extract at least 2,000 liters of water a day from the atmosphere (enough for the daily needs of around 100 people), use clean energy, and cost no more than 2¢ a liter.

The new system, called WEDEW (“wood-to-energy deployed water”) was created by combining two existing systems. One is a device called Skywater, a large box that mimics the way clouds are formed: It takes in warm air, which hits cold air and forms droplets of condensation that can be used as pure drinking water. The water is stored in a tank inside the shipping container, which can then be connected to a bottle refill station or a tap.
The_Optimist 
12 weeks ago by murilo
How climate change could be a spark to create a better world
In Britain, 27% of all our emissions come from poor housing stock. Were we to undertake a mass programme of housebuilding, creating homes that were carbon-neutral, while retrofitting existing stock, the impact would be immediate and substantial, and would echo into every area of our lives. There is no longer any serious doubt that more homes are needed: you cannot lock a third of a generation out of owning property and expect that situation to sustain itself indefinitely, the young effectively working in bonded servitude to the old.

In the US, meanwhile, they use 18m barrels of oil a day just in their cars, which they could drastically reduce by making cars lighter, electric and, ultimately, solar-powered. There is no shortage of innovation in this field, no lack of ambition. Nobody, post-Tesla, would argue that a petrol-powered car was preferable to an electric one. The challenge now is to bring the cost down. Nowhere are the interests of the environment and the simple aim of improving lives more closely aligned.

The battle against climate change can do more than render other political divisions trivial: its solutions have long-term ramifications for all the other crises our vexed democracies are throwing up, from the cost-of-living crisis to inequality, from insecurity to conflict. All those ramifications are good: so yes, we should hurry, before it is too late. But more importantly, we should hurry, because what comes next will be better.
The_Optimist 
october 2018 by murilo
Is fasting the fountain of youth?
Fasting factors to consider
One point to consider is that the research on fasting has focused mostly on overweight individuals or those with risk factors for disease. If you are aging at a healthy body weight and are free of disease, and you eat a healthy diet and regularly exercise, periodic fasting may not necessarily offer an added benefit in terms of lengthening your life. "If you are already doing everything right ... then I wouldn't necessarily recommend switching to IF," said Mattson.
The_Optimist  Health 
october 2018 by murilo
This eco-friendly wooden laptop is designed to curb e-waste
The innovators at iameco (“I Am Eco”) have created a new sustainable laptop to accompany their lineup of eco-friendly tech, including a desktop model and computer accessories. The Dublin group took a look at computers on the market and became frustrated with the e-waste, the earth-damaging materials and the toxic chemicals used in mainstream technology. So, the team decided to do something about it by first creating an eco-friendly, touchscreen PC and then a new wooden laptop with the same environmental principles as their original product.
The_Optimist 
october 2018 by murilo
How giving help rather than receiving it can impact your health greatly
A research team from the University of British Columbia gave a group of older participants with high blood pressure money to spend. On three consecutive weeks they were each given $40. Half the participants were instructed to spend the money on themselves; the rest were asked to spend it on someone else — buy a gift for a friend, donate to a charity or otherwise benefit others with the money.

A few weeks afterward the researchers measured the blood pressure of both groups. It turned out the blood pressure (systolic and diastolic) of those participants who had spent money on others had significantly decreased as compared with the subjects who spent the money on themselves. Moreover, the decrease in blood pressure was similar in size to the effect of starting high-frequency exercise or a healthier diet.

And as if longevity and better health would not be enough, providing support for others also tends to make the helper happier.

Of course, even here too much of a good thing can be detrimental. If people only concentrate on the well-being of others, they can ignore their own needs. There are too many tragic stories of people sacrificing their own happiness in order to serve their families or some grand global cause.

So don’t believe the false dichotomy between selfishness and sacrificing oneself for others.
The_Optimist 
september 2018 by murilo
Want to live a longer life? Research says you should do these five things.
The study, which appeared in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation, analyzed data on more than 100,000 people, who were followed for up to 34 years. Researchers looked at life expectancy among those who engaged in five “low-risk lifestyle factors,” such as not smoking. The researchers concluded that, if practiced together, the five low-risk lifestyle factors could increase life span quite significantly, an average of 14 years for women and 12 years for men.

The five low-risk factors are the following:

1. Avoid smoking. Low risk is defined as never smoking.

2. Maintain a healthy weight. Low risk is defined as a Body Mass Index in the range of 18.5 to 24.9. BMI is a ratio of weight to height that, though imperfect, offers a quick and easy assessment of weight status.

3. Exercise regularly. Low risk is defined as moderate- or ­vigorous-intensity exercise for 30 or more minutes a day.

4. Consume moderate amounts of alcohol. Low risk is defined as one-half to one drink per day for women and one-half to two drinks per day for men.

5. Maintain an overall healthy diet. Low risk is defined as a diet with high intakes of vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, polyunsaturated fatty acids and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, and low intakes of red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fat and sodium.

Not only is the research topic compelling because of the large participant sample size and lengthy follow-up — documenting 42,167 deaths over 34 years — but also because it’s specifically focused on the outcome of life span. People make lifestyle choices for many reasons, but focusing on these five components can support someone who wants to increase their life ­expectancy.
The_Optimist  Health 
august 2018 by murilo
Why you should learn how to breathe
Sounds easy enough since we all regularly inhale and exhale without thinking about it. But the trouble is most of us are breathing all wrong — that is, too shallowly — according to experts. And because respiration is such an automatic function, it's easy to keep on ignoring it.
Now scientists are confirming what ancient masters have proclaimed for eons. Breathing right is absolutely essential for nurturing a healthy body and mind. That's because it affects your nervous system, which is in contact with every cell in your body. Which means that how you breathe has a direct impact on all your organs, your immune system, your memory, your digestion, your sleep and even your level of anxiety and stress.

And it's not good for you either. When your lower lungs don't receive enough oxygenated air, it sends signals to your brain that all is not well. You begin feeling anxious and stressed. And according to Headspace.com, it becomes a vicious cycle — life's stresses causes you to breathe shallowly, and the act of breathing shallowly sends signals to the nervous system that you're stressed.

The good news is learning to breathe correctly is easy. Better yet, you don't have to be a yogi or meditation aficionado to enjoy the benefits, and you don't need special equipment or a unique space to practice in. Just a few minutes a day of deep abdominal breathing wherever you happen to be is all you need.

The science of breathing
The latest research shows that good breathing habits offer multiple health payoffs. Here are a few:

It creates a sense of calm. Scientists recently uncovered an actual brain-breathing connection that seems to influence emotions. According to Forbes, researchers in a 2016 study accidentally uncovered a neural circuit in the brain stem that's directly impacted by the pace of breathing. The findings show that slow, controlled breathing diminishes activity in the brain and calms it (promoting feelings peace and well-being), while rapid and erratic breathing ramps up brain activity and feelings of stress.

It boosts immune function. Chronic stress is known to inflict tremendous wear-and-tear on the body if left unchecked. That's why health practitioners have long recommended practices like deep breathing to induce the relaxation response in patients with hypertension, diabetes and other medical conditions. This parasympathetic nervous system reaction dampens the body's "fight or flight" reaction to stress and promotes healing. Now a new study shows that mind/body techniques like deep breathing also fight against disease by triggering beneficial changes in the expression of genes that regulate immune function, energy metabolism and the efficiency of insulin secretion (which improves how the body processes blood sugar).

It alleviates depression. A 2017 study found that several weekly yoga sessions with deep breathing exercises eased depression symptoms in participants after 12 weeks and boosted their levels of an anti-anxiety brain chemical.

The aim is to breathe deeply in and out five times per minute and do it for 10 to 20 minutes a day. You can also split it into two breathing sessions.
The_Optimist  Health 
august 2018 by murilo
France to set penalities on non-recycled plastic next year
France plans to introduce a penalty system that would increase the costs of consumer goods with packaging made of non-recycled plastic, part of a pledge to use only recycled plastic nationwide by 2025, an environment ministry official said Sunday.
The_Optimist 
august 2018 by murilo
You’ve had what we call a cosmic orgasm': the rise of conscious breathing
Now take a big breath, then expel all the air from your lungs and hold it. Relax, you’ll be fine. (As long as you’re not doing this in a swimming pool.) That slight feeling of panic? It’s nothing to worry about. You might be surprised how long you can push it before you have to take a huge gasp.

After three attempts, I managed three minutes 23 seconds of not breathing. The person who formulated this exercise, Dutch endurance specialist and multiple world record holder Wim Hof, 59, has trained himself to go up to six or seven minutes. He claims that by performing this exercise daily (along with a regimen of cold showers and meditation), we can help treat a whole suite of conditions and diseases, from depression to arthritis.

In her 2017 book Breathe, she asks further questions: do you sit in front of a computer all day? Did you experience trauma, fear or anxiety as a child? She thinks 95% of us are breathing in a way that is “biomechanically unsound”, which is to say, we’re breathing “vertically” (short, shallow, stressed-out breaths up in our chests) as opposed to “horizontally” (long, expansive, restful breaths that make full use of our lower lung capacity).

She tells a respiratory version of The Fall; humans used to breathe correctly. When a three-year-old breathes, their tummy goes in and out. Same with animals. But at a certain point we started breathing “vertically”. That’s how we’re designed to breathe when we face genuinely stressful situations – but not, say, when our phone pings 150 times a day. The way she describes it, we have been hit by a “perfect storm”; not only are we much more sedentary, we’re also constantly responding to digital technology, a respiratory disaster. “When you’re looking at these screens, your breathing changes. You’re like an animal in stalking mode. And, if you notice, you’re spending all day taking incredibly small breaths. The only time you’re really breathing is when you take a big, expansive sigh.” Breathing properly, she maintains, is the single most important intervention you can make for your own health. Cheap, too.

The autonomic nervous system! The endocrine system! The lymphatic system! The immune system! The vascular system!” he declaims when I Skype him in Holland. “According to science, humans couldn’t actively influence any of these. But we have shown that you can tap into them.” Just by breathing? “Yes! That’s why we made a T-shirt that says: ‘BREATHE MOTHERFUCKER!’” He bursts out laughing. “It’s so good, because it’s so simple!”

All chronic pain, suffering, and disease are caused by a lack of oxygen at the cell level,” wrote Dr Arthur C Guyton in his Textbook Of Medical Physiology in 1956, one of the world’s most widely used medical primers. “Proper breathing nourishes the cells of the body with oxygen and optimises the functioning of the body on all levels.” Studies have shown that conscious breathing exercises such as the 4-7-8 (breathe in for four, hold for seven, out for eight) are beneficial for a wide variety of conditions. Conscious breathing activates the body’s relaxation response, which in turn reduces blood pressure, which in turn lowers the risk of stroke and improves cardiovascular health. It’s also good for digestion and general immunity, both of which are impaired by stress.
The_Optimist  TM-FREE 
august 2018 by murilo
Your next shirt could be made from fruit and vegetable scraps
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Living Sustainable Fashion
Your next shirt could be made from fruit and vegetable scraps
Katherine Martinko
Katherine Martinko feistyredhair
July 5, 2018
fabric from food waste
© Circular Systems (used with permission)
Circular Systems' innovative technology promises to transform food waste fibers into wearable fabric.

The fashion industry is said to be the second most polluting industry on Earth after oil and gas. It requires enormous quantities of resources, including water, land, and fossil fuels, to make fabric. The production process is often harmful to the environment, relying on harsh chemical dyes and finishes.

Fortunately, more people are becoming aware of these problems, thanks to eye-opening documentaries like "The True Cost," sustainable fashion advocates like actress Emma Watson and activist Livia Firth, and high-profile reports like the one recently published by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Headlines warning of plastic microfibre pollution have helped to push the issue into the spotlight, and there is growing backlash against 'disposable' fast fashion.
The_Optimist 
july 2018 by murilo
Everything You Need To Know About Ashwagandha, The Wellness World's Favorite Adaptogen
1. It can reduce stress.
Ashwagandha can help regulate your body’s stress hormone, cortisol, which can make you feel more calm and potentially soothe adrenal fatigue—a condition that causes extreme fatigue, body aches, and muscle pain—by supporting the brain-adrenal (HPA) axis, too.

4. It may help calm anxiety.
One study showed that people who took just two months of ashwangandha supplementation had reductions in anxiety of up to 44 percent.

5. It enhances brain health.
Ashwagandha was found to have a neuroprotective effect for people with conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It has also been shown to promote the formation of dendrites, which are essential to brain health.

6. It helps regulate blood sugar levels.
In some cases, ashwagandha has been shown to help manage symptoms of diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity as well as lowering blood glucose levels.

7. It's a powerful antioxidant.
A regular dose of ashwagandha can help give you a youthful glow thanks to its next-level antioxidants. It also increases levels of glutathione and superoxide dismutase, which fight off the free radicals that contribute to signs of aging.

8. It may inhibit the spread of cancer.
Ashwagandha has been shown in multiple studies to significantly fight the growth of various types of cancer. Specifically, ashwagandha was able to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells and slow cell division in breast tumors. It was also linked to melanoma cell death in cases of skin cancer. It has also been shown to stimulate the production of immune-supporting white blood cells that are often depleted during chemotherapy.

The side effects of ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha in its recommended dose is generally safe for pretty much everyone, but there are a few side effects to consider.

1. It can cause gut problems.
Yes, there can be too much of a good thing! Large doses of ashwagandha have been shown to cause diarrhea and stomach pain.
The_Optimist  Health 
july 2018 by murilo
Ashwagandha Benefits: Ease Stress and Anxiety by 44 Percent
such as the nervous system and the adrenals.

In the latest cutting-edge ashwagandha study to be published, this tonic fulfilled its time-tested reputation as an effective remedy for stress. Potential ashwagandha benefits were studied in 64 adults with a history of chronic stress in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Researchers gave half the participants a placebo and half 300 mg of ashwagandha extract twice a day for 60 days.

Ashwagandha Uses: Significantly Lowers the Stress Hormone Cortisol
The results, published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine showed that ashwagandha benefits just about every measure of stress. Compared to those who got the placebo, those taking ashwagandha had 28% lower levels of cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone.”

Benefits of Ashwagandha: Improves Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia, and More
The ashwagandha benefits didn’t stop with cortisol. Participants who took ashwagandha extract also scored better on each of three different psychological tests measuring stress, anxiety, and overall well-being. On all three tests, the higher the score, the more stressed-out you are. The ashwagandha benefits included a dramatic 72% drop in scores on two of the tests—the General Health Questionnaire-28 and the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale. And scores for the third test— the Perceived Stress Scale fell significantly by an average of 44% in the group taking the ashwagandha tonic.

Those taking ashwagandha didn’t just feel less stressed. In addition to feeling more relaxed and mentally calm, their test scores also demonstrated significant reductions in depression, anxiety, social dysfunction, physical symptoms, and insomnia. The ashwagandha benefits also included increased productivity. Overall, quality of life improved tremendously compared to those taking the placebo.

Many of the ashwagandha benefits observed in this and other studies are thought to come from the extract’s ability to lower the stress hormone, cortisol.
Health  The_Optimist 
july 2018 by murilo
How Aristotle is the perfect happiness guru
Aristotle approves of food, drink and sex (all in moderation – he’s big on moderation); he believes leisure is more important than work; that we all have innate talents and that we don’t peak until we’re 49. What’s not to like? But by far his most significant claim is that happiness is achievable by almost everyone – you just have to “decide to become happier”. Simple, huh! “Happiness is not a state as far as Aristotle is concerned, it’s an activity,” Hall explains. “You have to do it. It means every encounter and every day of your life and every decision you take, trying to do it in a measured and deliberated way until it becomes habitual.”

Number three? “Think about your death. Look to the end,” Hall says emphatically. “Because it makes you get on with things. It’s about thinking of your life like a biographer while you are doing it, that your life is an art.”
The_Optimist 
june 2018 by murilo
Probiotics, prebiotics, and placebos: which is more effective?
As more studies link a healthy gut with a decreased risk of depression, there's a strong chance that number will grow even higher. But are they effective? Well, yes and no. According to Scientific American, if you're already healthy, they'll do very little. But to many (self-included!) they do seem to help you keep regular and keep you happier. Never thought I'd be admitting that out into the internet ether, but there you go.

In a study by the Tehran University of Medical Sciences, 110 depressed patients were given either a probiotic (Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum), a prebiotic (galactooligosaccharide), or a placebo to take for 8 weeks. Here's what they found:

A total of 81 subjects (aged 36.5 ± 8.03 y; mean (95% CI), 2.27 (1.76-2.93) y of depression duration) completed the trial (28 in the probiotic group, 27 in the prebiotic group, and 26 in the placebo group). From baseline to 8 weeks, probiotic supplementation resulted in a significant decrease in BDI score (17.39-9.1) compared to the placebo (18.18-15.55) and prebiotic (19.72-14.14) supplementation (p = 0.042). Inter-group comparison indicated no significant differences among the groups in terms of serum kynurenine/tryptophan ratio and tryptophan/BCAAs ratio. However, the kynurenine/tryptophan ratio decreased significantly in the probiotic group compared to the placebo group after adjusting for serum isoleucine (p = 0.048). In addition, the tryptophan/isoleucine ratio increased significantly in the probiotic group when compared to the placebo group (p = 0.023).

If you're having trouble deciphering that: researchers found that probiotics actually do work, while prebiotics were only a little more effective than the placebo.

Granted, prebiotics are really supposed to be taken with probiotics, as they enhance their effect. But on their own, they do very little. You could probably save a lot of money by just eating more asparagus, bananas, leeks, or onions, which are loaded with natural prebiotics.
The_Optimist  Health  Bigthink 
june 2018 by murilo
How to break the stress reaction cycle
As hard as it may sound to pull out of this stress reaction cycle, it is possible. The first step in creating any positive change is always raising your awareness of what the cycle is, how you participate in it, and what pains the cycle creates.

Why? Because you can’t change a habit you don’t know you have. And if you don’t recognize the pain the habit is creating, you won’t have the motivation you need to make new choices and break out of the cycle that has become familiar despite the fact that it is destructive.

The practice of mindfulness is an incredibly powerful tool to help you find that awareness. Mindfulness teaches us to pay attention, non-judgmentally, to what is happening in the moment.
Mindfulness not only counteracts stress, but also prevents it from happening in the first place, because when you practice mindfulness you can begin to observe your patterns and make new choices instead of compulsively acting them out over and over. Mindfulness helps you break the cycle. It also sets the stage for your parasympathetic nervous system to take over and to create the conditions your body needs in order to heal itself. Start to check in with yourself when you feel that old familiar feeling of stress creep in and try to observe the thoughts you have and actions you take in response to it.

A foundational piece of mindfulness is to be non-judgmental about the thoughts and feelings you pay attention to.

Another Thing to Become Aware of: Your Inherited Patterns
Whether you realize it or not, you were born into a family with its own unique patterns of maladaptive coping mechanisms. Just as you inherit eye color, height, and talent from your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, you can also inherit an addictive personality, or a tendency to reach for sweets, or a quick temper.

In your attempt to deal with the stresses that life has thrown your way, you have been repeating patterns that began even before you were born. Recognizing what those patterns are and how they have shown up in your own choices is such a relief. It’s empowering to know the truth so that you don’t have to blame yourself and feel shame for obstacles that you inherited

Just as your body has physiological mechanisms that help you respond to stressors, it has an equally powerful system that helps you relax. This is ruled by the parasympathetic nervous system.

Heal the Body with Conscious Relaxation
Now it’s time for a deeper dive into the pool of relaxation. Conscious relaxation is exactly what it sounds like — using your mental awareness to produce a relaxed state that is profound.

Body Scan

Time 20-40 minutes

If you can, practice this three to five days a week for six to eight weeks, as research suggests people reap more benefits from this practice when they keep at it.

How to practice:

A body scan can be performed lying down or sitting. You can close your eyes if that feels comfortable for you.
Once you are comfortable, begin by taking a few deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Start noticing your body, feeling the weight of your body on the chair or on the floor. Notice where your body is in contact with the floor or chair, and where it isn’t.
Now place your attention on your feet. Notice the sensations of your feet touching the floor—the weight, pressure, vibration, and temperature.
Next, notice your legs against the floor — is there pressure, pulsing, heaviness, lightness?
Move on to your back and see what sensations you can feel there.
Now bring your attention into your stomach area. If your stomach is tense or tight, let it go and relax. Take a breath.
Notice your hands. Are they tense or tight? See if you can allow them to let go and relax.
Now pay attention to your arms. Feel any sensations happening there. Let your shoulders drop and let go of tension and tightness.
Notice your neck and throat. Let go of tension and tightness. Relax.
Relax your jaw. Let your face and facial muscles soften. Let go of any tension and tightness that may be there.
Then expand your awareness to take in your whole body, feeling how it feels to be in your body in this moment.
Take a breath.
Be aware of your whole body as best you can. Take a breath.
Bring your hands together rubbing them together to generate heat in your hands and place your hands over your eyes. Slowly open your eyes and come back to the room.
Notice how you feel.
Thank yourself for providing the space to connect to your mind, body, and spirit.
Give yourself a gift of love and dedicate a space to practice this technique regularly.
The_Optimist 
june 2018 by murilo
These foods will help you reset your gut in just 3 days
1. Broccoli and artichoke
The broccoli and artichoke are essential for the gut, and while you can substitute other cruciferous vegetables, these are the ones I recommend often for plant-based fiber. The type of fibers in these foods actually act as food for the good gut bacteria. Keep in mind that people who are not used to large amounts of vegetables will need to start out slowly, eating small amounts at a time spread out over the course of the day. Otherwise, the gut bacteria can get overwhelmed.

2. Healthy fats
Healthy fats like avocado have also been shown to be beneficial for the gut both for their fiber content and fatty acid profile.

3. Fermented foods
Fermented foods are a huge part of this three-day reset, which is why miso, sauerkraut, and pickles are all great foods to include. Study after study has shown that food-based probiotic bacteria is hardy and does not get degraded by the time it gets to the colon. So add as many fermented foods as you can tolerate in those three days.

4. Leafy greens
Leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard, or arugula contain fiber, and they are easily digestible by the gut.

5. Spices
Certain spices like turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and even saffron have been shown to be anti-inflammatory and great for gut health.

Since we're trying to reset the gut and activate autophagy—a process where the cells clean house, getting rid of old and damaged materials in order to look and feel younger—it's a great idea to fast for at least 16 hours one of these three days. Intermittent fasting can give the gut a rest and improve hormone and bacterial balance.

By Amy Shah, M.D.
Integrative Medicine Doctor
The_Optimist  Health 
june 2018 by murilo
A new immunotherapy treatment cured a patient with late-stage breast cancer
Doctors who cared for the woman at the US National Cancer Institute in Maryland said Perkins’s response had been “remarkable”: the therapy wiped out cancer cells so effectively that she has now been free of the disease for two years.
The_Optimist  Health 
june 2018 by murilo
Michelin is reincarnating used tires into new ones
Ever since tires were invented, humans have been looking for good ways of recycling them with little to no avail. But in recent years a technology company, which has been acquired by French tire giant Michelin, has figured out how to reincarnate end-of-life tires into a specialty material called micronized rubber powder (MRP), which can be used to make new tires. The tire industry is still highly wasteful and energy-intensive, but the invention of MRP could help transform the industry into a closed-loop system. Thus far, MRP has been used in more than 500 million new tires.
The_Optimist 
may 2018 by murilo
100 million Americans have chronic pain, very few use this tool to treat it
Chronic pain often has no physical cause. Psychotherapy can reduce the suffering.

Like many patients with chronic pain, Golson never got a concrete diagnosis. For a decade, the 38-year-old Californian went from doctor to doctor, trying all the standard treatments: opioids, hand splints, cortisone injections, epidural injections, exercises, even elective surgery.

Golson’s pain was not caused by anything physically wrong with him. But it wasn’t imagined. It was real.

After weaning himself off the opioid Vicodin and feeling like he had exhausted every medical option, Golson turned to a book that described how pain could be purely psychological in origin. That ultimately took a pain psychologist, a therapist who specializes in pain — not a physician — to treat the true source: his fearful thoughts. Realizing that psychological therapy could help “was one of the most profoundly surprising experiences of my life,” Golson says. No doctor he ever saw “even hinted my pain might be psychogenic,” meaning pain that’s psychological in origin.

It’s not that their pain is “in their heads.” The truth is much more nuanced: All pain can have both physical and psychological components. But the psychological component is often dismissed or never acknowledged.

Pain can be manufactured in your head and in your body
We’re taught, by evolution and by our experience, that the sensation of pain means there’s something physically wrong with our bodies. This is adaptive. But sometimes, a one-time injury or illness — or perhaps nothing at all — triggers years of chronic pain.

Doctors have long known that pain can exist in the absence of any physical harm. There’s a famous case study that describes a construction worker who came into the emergency room with a 6-inch nail in his boot. It was so painful, the report says, that the patient had to be sedated with powerful opioids. When the shoe was removed, it turned out the nail had passed clean between the toes. There was no injury.

Likewise, doctors have known that pain can be suppressed without any real medical intervention. Fake surgeries will often produce the same pain-relieving effects as real surgeries. The placebo effect can account for much of a medicine’s pain-relieving power.

Likewise, doctors have known that pain can be suppressed without any real medical intervention. Fake surgeries will often produce the same pain-relieving effects as real surgeries. The placebo effect can account for much of a medicine’s pain-relieving power.

Our thoughts, personalities, and learned behaviors can also influence whether our pain alarms get tripped. So do our emotions. “If you get an on-the-job injury and you hate your job, you’re much more likely to become disabled by the pain,” says Roger Chou, a professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University who has studied chronic pain.

Physical problems in the body don’t always create pain in our minds, for reasons scientists don’t quite understand. Many people with herniated spinal discs (a common explanation for lower back pain) often have no pain at all. “It’s not that the biological, anatomic reasons are not important, but they’re just one part of the picture,” Chou says. Similarly, around 85 percent of people with lower back pain have nothing diagnosably wrong with them

Overall, the takeaway is that “pain isn’t just something that happens to us,” says Beth Darnall, a professor of anesthesiology at Stanford University. “We are participating with pain by how much attention we give to it, by the contents of our thoughts, and our appraisal. How awful and negative is it? How helpless and hopeless do you feel about it? Do you feel [like] a victim; do you feel at the mercy of your pain?”

Golson had received a therapy called pain reprocessing therapy, which is currently being tested with a clinical trial. It’s a psychological therapy that uses a technique called somatic tracking, where patients just take time to notice the feelings and sensations going on in their body while assessing those sensations and determining whether or not they should fear them. (This exercise is also common in mindfulness meditation.)

“Pain is a danger signal that also can warn of us tissue damage, but sometimes these danger signals can be activated in the absence of real danger,” says Alan Gordon, the director of the Los Angeles Pain Psychology Center, where Golson was treated. “It’s almost like a kinesthetic hallucination. It’s hard to not buy into these messages that your brain and your body are giving you.”
The goal of the therapy is to get the patients to reinterpret the sensations they feel as non-dangerous.

“And when you are able to attend to a sensation without fear, assuming the pain is nonstructural in nature, the pain will decrease,” Gordon says. In a sense, they’re treating pain similarly to how they would treat an anxiety disorder. This idea draws a bit on the approach of the late Dr. John Sarno, who believed most pain was stress-related, but with fewer Freudian overtones and more academic rigor.

You might be thinking: Isn’t this all a placebo response? Well, maybe. But don’t dismiss placebos’ healing power. Even powerful painkillers like morphine are much less effective when people don’t know they’ve taken them.

The best evidence base is for cognitive behavioral therapy
The most common psychological treatment for pain, and the most well-studied, is cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. Overall, it’s one of the most rigorously tested and effective tools psychology has to offer. More typically, it’s used to treat anxiety, phobias, and mood disorders like depression. But it can also help some people manage their pain.
Like the somatic tracking exercises described above, the goal of CBT is to come to a new understanding about pain. That it isn’t something that’s physically harmful and that certain thoughts and behaviors can make pain worse.

Let’s say a patient has trouble sitting in one place for a long time because of their pain. That can make them fearful to go out, spend time on public transportation, or take trips on planes. CBT tries to test the patient’s assumptions about how long they can sit and how dangerous they think their pain is.

“We take the [longest time] they feel they can sit for manageably and then put breaks in between, and gradually get them to sit longer,” says Amanda Williams, the University College London clinical psychologist who completed a huge meta-review on studies of CBT for pain.
CBT “helps people change ways of processing their beliefs and their experiences when they are overly negative,” she says.

Shelley Latin, a 64-year-old lawyer in Oregon, has had debilitating sharp stomach pain since 2011. A year after it began, doctors found she had a bacterial infection. But even after the infection was treated, the pain persisted. Latin was frustrated, caught in the typical cycle of going from doctor to doctor and in so much pain she couldn’t work or watch television. “It stops you,” she says of pain. “That’s what it’s for — it gets all your attention, all your energy.”

A combination of medications, including opioids, helped Latin get back to work, but the pain was still there. No medical professional could find an underlying physical reason why. Latin now understands that her pain is caused by central sensitization, or the “broken pain system.”

After CBT, the pain doesn’t seem to have lessened, “like on a 1-to-10 scale,” she says, “but the amount of suffering that goes along with it is less.” She can work again. She can concentrate on watching The Borgias, her favorite show, on Netflix. Her sense of humor returned. She stopped worrying so much about the future. Though the pain is still there, she pays it less mind.
Health  The_Optimist 
may 2018 by murilo
How to beat anxiety, without the need for medication
Most people experience anxiety at some point, but if anxiety starts interfering with your life, sleep, ability to form relationships, or productivity at work or school, you might have an anxiety disorder. Research shows that if it’s left untreated, anxiety can lead to depression, early death, and suicide.

Anxiety can present as fear, restlessness, an inability to focus at work or school, finding it hard to fall or stay asleep at night, or getting easily irritated. In social situations, it can make it hard to talk to others; you might feel like you’re constantly being judged, or have symptoms such as stuttering, sweating, blushing or an upset stomach.

It can appear out of the blue as a panic attack, when sudden spikes of anxiety make you feel like you’re about to have a heart attack, go mad or lose control. Or it can be present all the time, as in generalised anxiety disorder, when pervasive worry consumes you and you look to the future with dread.

Here are some of the top coping skills that have emerged from our study at the University of Cambridge, which will be presented at the 30th European Congress of Neuropsychopharmacology in Paris, and other scientific research.

This may sound strange, but the writer and poet GK Chesterton said that: “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” And he had a point. The reason this works so well is that it speeds up your decision-making process and catapults you straight into action. Otherwise, you could spend hours deciding how you should do something or what you should do, which can be very time-consuming and stressful.

Using “do it badly” as a motto gives you the courage to try new things, adds a little fun to everything, and stops you worrying too much about the outcome. It’s about doing it badly today and improving as you go. Ultimately, it’s about liberation.

Forgive yourself and ‘wait to worry’
Are you particularly critical of yourself and the blunders you make? Well, imagine if you had a friend who constantly pointed out everything that was wrong with you and your life. You’d probably want to get rid of them right away.

But people with anxiety often do this to themselves so frequently that they don’t even realise it anymore. They’re just not kind to themselves.
So perhaps it’s time to change and start forgiving ourselves for the mistakes we make.

Find purpose in life by helping others
It’s also worth considering how much of your day is spent with someone else in mind? If it’s very little or none at all, then you’re at a high risk of poor mental health. Regardless of how much we work or the amount of money we make, we can’t be truly happy until we know that someone else needs us and depends on our productivity or love.
The_Optimist  Mente 
april 2018 by murilo
Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles
Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident. The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles.

The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug.

The international team then tweaked the enzyme to see how it had evolved, but tests showed they had inadvertently made the molecule even better at breaking down the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic used for soft drink bottles. “What actually turned out was we improved the enzyme, which was a bit of a shock,” said Prof John McGeehan, at the University of Portsmouth, UK, who led the research. “It’s great and a real finding.”

The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process.
The_Optimist 
april 2018 by murilo
Can this four-minute brain hack turn you into an optimist?
Everyone has that friend who’s so cheerful it’s almost annoying. But while some people just happen to be more positive than others, optimism isn’t strictly a personality trait–it’s a learnable skill.

The positive psychologist Martin Seligman coined the term “learned optimism” in the ’90s; it’s the idea that with a little conscious practice, we can strategically tamp down our brains’ “negativity bias

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO THINK POSITIVELY
Shifting some of the brain activity away from your aversion network and toward your approach network starts with just becoming aware of your negativity bias. This quick exercise can help you do that–and it only takes five minutes. Here’s how it works:

For one minute: Identify a negative thought pattern you’re caught in the middle of: “Now I’m worrying” or “I’m going over this same fear in my head all morning.” That’s your brain cue that you may be entering into pessimism mode–and maybe for good reason! Don’t miss potential threats; write them all down to get them out of your head (a quick SWOT analysis can help, where you jot down the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a given situation).

For the next three minutes: Now that you’ve quarantined and catalogued those possibly legitimate risks, it’s time to shift your brain activity toward your approach network (this routine also works before heading into big decisions even when you aren’t caught in a pessimistic mind-set to begin with):

Calm the mind. Close your eyes, and focus on where you feel the air moving into your lungs. When your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breathing.

Tune in. After you’ve focused on your breathing for a minute, take a moment to watch your thoughts. Zero in on any self-defeating or pessimistic beliefs that pop into your head (they’ll likely be the same ones that cued you to start this exercise in the first place). Don’t worry about why those negative thoughts are there–just observe them.

Visualize. Envision the best possible outcome in as great a detail as possible: Where is this scene? Who is present? What emotions are you feeling? What are you saying and doing? What are other people’s responses, right on down to their facial expressions or the actions they take?The more you practice the three-minute routine whenever pessimism strikes, the faster your brain will learn to revert toward optimistic thought patterns–and, hopefully, the better decisions you’ll make.
The_Optimist  Mente 
april 2018 by murilo
How to avoid making poor decisions
In the most comprehensive study to date on expert predictions, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Phillip Tetlock, gathered a large group of experts to analyze their ability to predict future events. [1]

During this study, Tetlock asked the experts to predict the probability of various events occurring i.e. Would the dotcom bubble burst? And then, he would analyze how their thought processes came to these conclusions.

After 20 years of collecting and studying 82,361 forecasts from experts, Tetlock came to a comical conclusion. According to Tetlock, the average expert …

“Is not much better at predicting the future than a dart-throwing chimpanzee.”

Tetlock suggested that most of these experts would have made better predictions if they had made random guesses.

Fortunately, there were a few experts who made good predictions.These experts had a different approach to decision-making, thinking and solving problems.

Instead of falling prey to a ‘know it all’ attitude, they made modest predictions. But, only after analyzing a wide range of external data and information.

They were comfortable with uncertainty and complexity. They were open to reviewing ideas that challenged their beliefs and assumptions.

In contrast, the experts who had the most knowledge in this study were on average, the least reliable. Even after reviewing the results, they struggled to admit they were wrong.

There are several mental errors that affect our decision-making, but by far the most powerful is “confirmation bias.”

Confirmation bias refers to our tendency to look for and favor evidence that confirms our pre-existing beliefs, whilst simultaneously ignoring or devaluing information that contradicts our beliefs.

There’s a reason for this. We experience discomfort whenever we face ideas or information in conflict with our current beliefs.

To relieve this tension and discomfort, we seek to re-confirm our existing beliefs — even if they may still be wrong.

Confirmation bias restricts the information we choose in making our decisions. It leads to a bias in interpreting this information and distorts our memory. This is why smart people make stupid decisions.

The more knowledge you have, the more confirmation bias you will struggle with and the more likely you’ll reject ideas that differ from your own.

Now that we’ve discussed this, how can you best combat your confirmation biases and avoid making bad decisions?

Disprove yourself
“Great doubts, deep wisdom. Small doubts, little wisdom.” — Chinese proverb

Step 1: Practice Self-Awareness.
Step 2: Disprove yourself.

It takes courage to admit you’re wrong after the fact. It takes even more courage to disprove and challenge your own assumptions before the decision.

Next time you’re faced with a problem or challenge, seek out all possible ideas that may contradict your current beliefs.

This will prepare you to make a well-rounded good decision, instead of an irrational bad decision based solely on your beliefs and emotions.

Overconfidence kills
Smart people make stupid decisions because they struggle with the same challenge that we all do — overconfidence.

Next time you feel absolutely certain about a decision, remember that you may be wrong.

Stay open-minded to the possibility that there is a lot more information that you don’t know yet.

After all, the wisest person in a room listens more than the others because they know there’s still more knowledge to learn.
The_Optimist  Mente  Carreira 
april 2018 by murilo
Researchers have developed a treatment that heals cavities without fillings
Everyone who’s been through a session of cavity fillings at the dentist office knows how unbearable it can be. That’s why it’s a relief to hear that researchers have developed a treatment that can help tooth cavities heal without any fillings. The treatment, which is made of peptides, helps remineralize tooth enamel, encouraging it to grow back on its own. The researchers believe their product could be sold as part of a preventative everyday tooth care routine, in the form of a toothpaste or gel, to help reduce the number of expensive trips to the dentist for shallower cavities.
The_Optimist 
april 2018 by murilo
Harvard researchers study how mindfulness changes brain in depressed patients
In 2015, 16.1 million Americans reported experiencing major depression during the previous year, often struggling to function while grappling with crippling darkness and despair.

“Many people don’t respond to the frontline interventions,” said Benjamin Shapero, an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital’s (MGH) Depression Clinical and Research Program. “Individual cognitive behavioral therapy is helpful for many people; antidepressant medications help many people. But it’s also the case that many people don’t benefit from them as well. There’s a great need for alternative approaches.”

Studies have shown benefits against an array of conditions both physical and mental, including irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. But some of those findings have been called into question because studies had small sample sizes or problematic experimental designs. Still, there are a handful of key areas — including depression, chronic pain, and anxiety — in which well-designed, well-run studies have shown benefits for patients engaging in a mindfulness meditation program, with effects similar to other existing treatments.

Desbordes’ research uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which not only takes pictures of the brain, as a regular MRI does, but also records brain activity occurring during the scan. In 2012, she demonstrated that changes in brain activity in subjects who have learned to meditate hold steady even when they’re not meditating. Desbordes took before-and-after scans of subjects who learned to meditate over the course of two months. She scanned them not while they were meditating, but while they were performing everyday tasks. The scans still detected changes in the subjects’ brain activation patterns from the beginning to the end of the study, the first time such a change — in a part of the brain called the amygdala — had been detected.

Functional MRI (left) showing activation in the amygdala when participants were watching images with emotional content before learning meditation. After eight weeks of training in mindful attention meditation (right) note the amygdala is less activated after the meditation training.

Among the challenges researchers face is defining mindfulness itself. The word has come to describe a meditation-based practice whose aim is to increase one’s sense of being in the present, but it has also been used to describe a nonmeditative state in which subjects set aside their mental distractions to pay greater attention to the here and now, as in the work of Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer.

Another challenge involves sorting through the many variations of meditative practice.

Recent scientific exploration has largely focused on the secular practice of mindful meditation, but meditation is also a component of several ancient religious traditions, with variations.
The_Optimist  Health  Mente 
april 2018 by murilo
How to tame your anxious mind
On the continuum, individuals who are anxious are more apt to have “chattier” minds. They tend to be flooded with anticipatory anxiety (before), anxiety in the moment (during) and postpartum anxiety (after). The cycle appears with “____ will happen”, “what ifs” and “I should/could haves.” Ask yourself whether you tend to have a chatty mind and if you are flooded with anxiety before, during or after events?

Don’t believe everything you think. I have a sign with these words on my office door. Be cautious at accepting your thoughts as facts. Observe your thoughts, be curious about them, notice your judgments and ask how else can things or circumstances be considered? If it’s just a thought, try challenging it. If it’s a fact, then notice it, accept it, problem solve through it, while compassionately being with the thoughts and feelings that surface. Ask yourself whether you instantaneously accept thoughts as facts and whether you’re open to assessing and working through them no matter what the circumstances?

We are taught to be happy (“happily ever after”), “fix things that are broken”, “get rid of bad feelings and hold on to only the good ones”, and “what we think or feel is reflective of who we are.” With all of this, it makes it difficult for us to “BE OKAY” because rarely all of this falls into place. Part of our intrinsic humanness is acceptance of all that we are and are presented with, including the more comfortable and less comfortable thoughts and feelings.

We all strive to be accepted and sought after and want to believe that we’re not the cause of someone else’s pain or discomfort. Because of this we are sometimes hypervigilant because of the fear that we are.
The_Optimist  Mente 
april 2018 by murilo
27 businesses you can start up with less than $1,000
1. Tutor: If you have a skill, teach it. The median wage of a tutor is $17.64 per hour, according to PayScale.

2. Dog walker: Love pets and getting some exercise? Dog walking is an easy business to start. Pet business insurance will make up the majority of your expenses, which usually cost $200 to 400 a month, according to one pet business insurance provider. Dog walkers typically make $8 to $20 an hour, with a median wage of $13.23.

5. Translator: Multilingual entrepreneurs, this business is for you. Whether you want to take up projects people post online, approach companies or start-ups that do a lot of international business or check local job postings, there are multiple ways to start building your own translation business. Translators make a median income of $19.88 per hour.
The_Optimist 
april 2018 by murilo
Cognitive Aging and Long-Term Maintenance of Attentional Improvements Following Meditation Training
In a recent and notable study, “Cognitive Aging and Long-Term Maintenance of Attentional Improvements Following Meditation Training” published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, researchers found more evidence to suggest that meditating has the potential to prevent age-related mental decline and increase one’s attention span. The study is the most extensive longitudinal study to date, according to researchers, and examines how meditation increases a person’s ability to focus--especially later in life, so as long as the meditation practice continues. (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41465-018-0068-1)
TM-FREE  The_Optimist 
april 2018 by murilo
Brain never stops growing: elderly have same number of new neurons as teens
For the research, scientists looked at the hippocampus in 28 previously healthy individuals aged between 14 and 79, who had died suddenly. None were cognitively impaired or suffered depression, which can impact brain cell development

Dr Maura Boldrini, associate professor of neurobiology at Columbia University, in New York, said: “We found that older people have similar ability to make thousands of hippocampal new neurons from progenitor cells as younger people do.

“We also found equivalent volumes of the hippocampus, a brain structure used for emotion and cognition across ages.

“Nevertheless, older individuals had less vascularization (blood vessel formation) and maybe less ability of new neurons to make connections.”
The_Optimist 
april 2018 by murilo
New theory suggests that after death consciousness moves to another universe
The theory implies that death of consciousness simply does not exist. It only exists as a thought because people identify themselves with their body. They believe that the body is going to perish, sooner or later, thinking their consciousness will disappear too. If the body generates consciousness, then consciousness dies when the body dies. But if the body receives consciousness in the same way that a cable box receives satellite signals, then of course consciousness does not end at the death of the physical vehicle. In fact, consciousness exists outside of constraints of time and space. It is able to be anywhere: in the human body and outside of it. In other words, it is non-local in the same sense that quantum objects are non-local.

According to Dr. Stuart Hameroff, a near-death experience happens when the quantum information that inhabits the nervous system leaves the body and dissipates into the universe. Contrary to materialistic accounts of consciousness, Dr. Hameroff offers an alternative explanation of consciousness that can perhaps appeal to both the rational scientific mind and personal intuitions.

Consciousness resides, according to Stuart and British physicist Sir Roger Penrose, in the microtubules of the brain cells, which are the primary sites of quantum processing. Upon death, this information is released from your body, meaning that your consciousness goes with it. They have argued that our experience of consciousness is the result of quantum gravity effects in these microtubules, a theory which they dubbed orchestrated objective reduction (Orch-OR).

If the patient is resuscitated, revived, this quantum information can go back into the microtubules and the patient says “I had a near death experience”‘

He adds: “If they’re not revived, and the patient dies, it’s possible that this quantum information can exist outside the body, perhaps indefinitely, as a soul.”

This account of quantum consciousness explains things like near-death experiences, astral projection, out of body experiences, and even reincarnation without needing to appeal to religious ideology. The energy of your consciousness potentially gets recycled back into a different body at some point, and in the mean time it exists outside of the physical body on some other level of reality, and possibly in another universe.
The_Optimist  Mente 
april 2018 by murilo
Bernie Sanders: Let’s wrench power back from the billionaires
Difficult as it is to comprehend, the fact is that the six richest people on Earth now own more wealth than the bottom half of the world’s population – 3.7 billion people.
The Sultan of Brunei owns some 500 Rolls-Royces and lives in one of the world’s largest palaces, a building with 1,788 rooms once valued at $350m. In the Middle East, which boasts five of the world’s 10 richest monarchs, young royals jet-set around the globe while the region suffers from the highest youth unemployment rate in the world, and at least 29 million children are living in poverty without access to decent housing, safe water or nutritious food. Moreover, while hundreds of millions of people live in abysmal conditions, the arms merchants of the world grow increasingly rich as governments spend trillions of dollars on weapons.

In the United States, Jeff Bezos – founder of Amazon, and currently the world’s wealthiest person – has a net worth of more than $100bn. He owns at least four mansions, together worth many tens of millions of dollars. As if that weren’t enough, he is spending $42m on the construction of a clock inside a mountain in Texas that will supposedly run for 10,000 years. But, in Amazon warehouses across the country, his employees often work long, gruelling hours and earn wages so low they rely on Medicaid, food stamps and public housing paid for by US taxpayers.

Here is just one example of what we have to do. Just a few years ago, the Tax Justice Network estimated that the wealthiest people and largest corporations throughout the world have been stashing at least $21tn-$32tn in offshore tax havens in order to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. If we work together to eliminate offshore tax abuse, the new revenue that would be generated could put an end to global hunger, create hundreds of millions of new jobs, and substantially reduce extreme income and wealth inequality. It could be used to move us aggressively toward sustainable agriculture and to accelerate the transformation of our energy system away from fossil fuels and towards renewable sources of power.
The_Optimist 
march 2018 by murilo
Become the CEO of your own brain in six easy steps
STEP 1: LISTEN AND ACKNOWLEDGE
Like all good leaders, you’re going to have to listen to your disgruntled employee, and acknowledge that you’re taking its message seriously. Minds, like people, can relax and let go when they feel heard and understood. Practice gratitude and thank your mind for its contribution. “Thank you, mind, for reminding me that if I don’t succeed in making more sales, I might get fired.” “Thank you for telling me that I may always be alone and never find love and have a family.” “

STEP 2: MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR MIND
You may not like what your mind does or the way it conducts itself. In fact, all that negativity can be downright irritating sometimes. But the fact is, you’re stuck with it and you can’t (or wouldn’t want to) just lobotomize it away.
Accepting that negative thoughts and feelings will be there -that you can’t control them, can allow you to focus on your actions in the present moment, so you can move ahead with your most important goals without getting all fouled up. You don’t necessarily have to like the thoughts or agree with them – you just have to let them be there in the background of your mind, while you go out and get things done.

STEP 3: REALIZE YOUR THOUGHTS ARE JUST THOUGHTS

STEP 4: OBSERVE YOUR OWN MIND
Time spent observing your mind is as important as time spent exercising.
Mindfulness involves not only noticing where your mind goes when it wanders, but also gently bringing it back to the focus on breath, eating, walking, loving, or working. When you do this repeatedly over months or years, you begin to retrain your runaway amygdala.

STEP 5: RETRAIN YOUR MIND TO REWIRE YOUR BRAIN
There is an old and rather wise saying, “We are what we repeatedly do.” To this, I would add “We become what we repeatedly think.” Over long periods, our patterns of thinking become etched into the billions of neurons in our brains, connecting them together in unique, entrenched patterns.

Autopilot is great for driving a car, but no so great for emotional functioning. For example, you may have deep-seated fears of getting close to people because you were mistreated as a child. To learn to love, you need to become aware of the whole negative sequence and how it’s biasing your perceptions, label these reactions as belonging to the past, and refocus your mind on present-moment experience. Over time, you can begin to change the wiring of your brain so your prefrontal cortex (the executive center, responsible for setting goals, planning and executing them), is more able to influence and shut off your rapidly firing, fear-based amygdala (emotion control center). And, this is exactly what brain imaging studies on effects of mindfulness therapy have shown.

STEP 6: PRACTICE SELF-COMPASSION
The_Optimist  Mente 
march 2018 by murilo
Self-compassion is vital to your well-being. Here’s how to cultivate it
For many people, the concept of self-love might conjure images of tree-hugging hippies or cheesy self-help books. But, as many psychology studies attest, self-love and -compassion are key for mental health and well-being, keeping depression and anxiety at bay.
The_Optimist  Mente 
march 2018 by murilo
Sound meditation and the insight of impermanence
One specific method for practicing mindfulness of body sensations is to focus your attention on sounds. Sounds, like everything else, arise and pass away. Just by listening, you can experience the insight of impermanence, an understanding the Buddha taught as crucial for the development of wisdom.

“Deep hearing, then, is not just an auditory sensation, involving the ear, but a matter of the whole . ‘Deep hearing of the Dharma’ means embodying the Buddha Dharma, an experiential awakening of the total self, conscious and unconscious, mind and body.”

—Rev. Taitetsu Unno
The_Optimist  TM-FREE  Tricycle 
march 2018 by murilo
The more we know, the more mystery there is
For example, claims that we understand the big bang, the event that marked the origin of the universe. We most certainly do not, and I go further to claim that we cannot, given the way science depends on a conceptual framework to operate. Science can give at most an incomplete answer to the question of the origin of everything, one that depends on notions such as space, time, energy, laws of nature… Another one is the claim that we “live in a multiverse.” We have no clue if a multiverse exists or not, and, worse, we wouldn’t be able to know either way. Science popularizers often get carried away and present ideas that are grounded on speculation as a done deal.

There is no doubt that there are many reasonable scientific questions that we cannot answer. I gave two examples above; another is knowing how life originated on Earth. Unless we can prove a theorem that there is only one or very few biochemical pathways from nonlife to life, we can’t be certain of what happened here some 4 billion years ago. To appreciate the beauty of science, it is essential to understand how science operates and why it has limits. It is a human creation, after all. We measure natural phenomena with instruments of all sorts, and they all have precision limits and ranges. We can’t see what’s beyond, and even if we improve their precision constantly, there is always a little more to go.

As with the origin of the universe, the nature of human consciousness may be the kind of question that we may not be well-equipped to answer fully through a scientific approach, even if we are able to artificially create some kind of limited consciousness through AI.

Do you believe in God?

Gleiser: I position myself as an agnostic. I don’t see evidence for any kind of supernatural being or intervention, but also understand that we are partially blind to what’s out there and hence should show some humility. I see atheism as being inconsistent with the scientific method, as it is, essentially, belief in nonbelief. It does not offer any proof of nonexistence as that would be literally impossible through science. Atheism elevates belief to a rational argument that is very ill-founded epistemologically. You may not believe in God, but to affirm its nonexistence with certainty is not scientifically consistent. If you are nonbeliever, the only position consistent with science is agnosticism.
(Agnosticism is the view that the existence of God, of the divine or the supernatural is unknown or unknowable.)
The_Optimist 
february 2018 by murilo
You can teach yourself to read an entire book in a single day
Sir Francis Bacon once said, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”

Enjoying books is no different than enjoying a TV show or a movie. If you don’t like a show, you won’t waste your time starting it in the first place. If you want to give it a chance, you will try watching the first episode. If you don’t really like a book, you will stop reading it and start read something else.
The_Optimist 
february 2018 by murilo
This Harvard psychologist is proving that the world is better than ever before
His latest book, Enlightenment Now, doubles down on this argument. Pinker zooms back and examines the “big picture of human progress” since the late 18th century, right around the time the Enlightenment Age kicked off. This is basically the period in which the spirit of science — reason, evidence-based thinking, and the belief that knowledge can be used to improve the human condition — exploded in the Western world.

Human welfare has improved dramatically, and it’s improved by almost any measure you like — longevity, health, prosperity, education, literacy, leisure time, and on and on.
The_Optimist 
february 2018 by murilo
Every crisis is also an opportunity
When you look at successful people, you need to realize that they are the ones who struggled as well. They just struggled better. That’s the perspective I want to change: You can’t be human without struggling. The better your struggle, the more successful you can be.

Recently, I listened to an interview with the mother of our local Olympic ski champion, Ted Ligety. She said that the boys beat Ted in school. The girls beat him, too. Then he became an Olympic gold medalist.

The point is that things go wrong. And then life starts. It’s not what happens to you. It’s what you do with what happens to you. It’s so easy to stop when things go wrong—and many of us do

Imperfection is our reality. The big problem is that we strive for perfection and security and we get disappointed and depressed because it’s impossible to achieve these states permanently. We want to be secure and we want to be successful. We want to grow and not get old. But our lives are not just about pleasure. We cannot avoid the struggle. Struggling is part of who we are. And life becomes easier when you accept that. If you assume that change is going to happen, it becomes much easier to deal with it. And every change helps you to better figure out who you are. There’s nothing to be afraid about that. But you need to continuously remind yourself. I have a little index card on the mirror that says: run towards your fear.

The paradox is that you feel more powerful, more secure when you don’t hide your imperfections anymore and express your vulnerability. I remember my worst moment on Mount Kilimanjaro. I had to ask for help. I had to get lifted and I thought I had failed. But, in reality, it was the finest moment of my life. It allowed me to divest myself from the image of my own perfection where I couldn’t show any weakness.
The_Optimist 
february 2018 by murilo
Listening to this song for 15 seconds will instantly make you more creative
Researchers at Radboud University split subjects into five groups, with each group randomly assigned to listen to one of four pieces of music -- or sit in silence -- before and during creativity tasks.

The music pieces were chosen for their "mood and arousal" levels:

The Swan by Saint-Saens was considered to be positive in mood but low in arousal level; in short, it's "calming."
The Planets: Mars, The Bringer of War by Gustav Holst was considered to be negative and arousing. Think "anxious." (Also consider it "hard to listen to," at least to me.)
Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber was considered to be sad and slow. (Correctly so.)
The Four Seasons: Spring by Vivaldi was considered to be upbeat and happy.

So which group produced the most -- and the best -- answers to the creativity test?

Those who listened to Vivaldi, the upbeat, happy music. It inspired higher levels of "fluency and flexibility," a mindset that lays the perfect foundation for those moments when we need to come up with unique ideas.

Try it. Next time you need to come up with new ideas, listen to this Vivaldi piece for 15 or 20 seconds. Or leave it on in the background.

You may climb right out of that creative rut.
The_Optimist  Mente  TM-FREE 
january 2018 by murilo
Beyond the bitcoin bubble
Many cryptocurrencies are first made available to the public through a process known as an initial coin offering, or I.C.O.
The_Optimist  Cryptocurrency 
january 2018 by murilo
22 Years Ago, Steve Jobs Said 1 Thing Separates People Who Achieve From Those Who Only Dream
Granted, it's often not easy to ask for help. Asking can make you feel insecure. Asking can make you feel vulnerable.

But oddly enough, that's a good thing.

When you ask for help, without adding qualifiers or image enhancers, when you just say, "Can you help me?" several powerful things happen, especially for the other person.

You show respect. Without actually saying it, you've said, "You know more than I do." You've said, "You can do what I can't." You've said, "You have experience [or talents or something] that I don't have." You've said, "I respect you."

You show trust. You show vulnerability, you admit to weakness, and you implicitly show that you trust the other person with that knowledge.

You show you're willing to listen. You've said, "You don't have to tell me what you think I want to hear; tell me what you think I should do."
The_Optimist 
january 2018 by murilo
These are the supplements that scientists use
Supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry.

Turmeric, vitamind, probiotics, prebiotics,omega3
The_Optimist  Health 
january 2018 by murilo
These 9 Beliefs Block Your Path to Inner Peace
3. “Finding Inner Peace Is Difficult.”
This is another myth that gets in the way. Many of us feel that we are far from inner peace, and we idolize those who seem to have found it. Because of this, we unconsciously believe that it’s a long way away from where we are in our lives, and we need to go on a long journey to find it.

Maybe we’ve read books that suggest that fundamental change in how we feel or act takes years of difficult training or some sort of pilgrimage. But often it is letting go of the belief that what we want is so far away, and understanding that when you stop striving so aggressively you will start to see the calm you’re looking for. It is this process of turning your beliefs upside down that becomes the journey in itself.
The_Optimist 
january 2018 by murilo
Love Your Lungs With Tomatoes and Apples
Lead study author Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, an assistant professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s department of international health, noted that a diet rich in fruits can slow the natural aging process of your lungs even if you’ve never smoked, and might even help repair damage caused by smoking. Their research was part of the Ageing Lungs in European Cohorts (ALEC) Study, funded by the European Commission and led by Imperial College London.

In 2002, Garcia-Larsen and her colleagues examined the lung function and diet of more than 650 adults from Britain, Norway and Germany, using questionnaires as well as spirometry to measure forced expiratory volume and forced vital capacity (aka the capacity of the lungs to take in oxygen), then tested the lung function of the same individuals a decade later. According to Vanguard:

“The researchers found a more striking diet-lung-function among former smokers, who had around 80 ml slower decline over the 10-year period because their diets were highly rich in tomatoes and fruits. Such a result suggests that the nutrients in their diets are beneficial to repairing the lung damage done by smoking.”

Plenty of studies show how healthy fruit is for you, and apples are no exception. One study5 noted the peel in particular as capable of benefiting endothelial function, blood pressure and atherosclerosis and reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease.

In the realm of lung function alone, the research shows that the valuable compounds in apples may help prevent and treat lung cancer,6 asthma and respiratory diseases, bronchial hyperactivity and persistent allergic rhinitis, not to mention Type 2 diabetes, asthma7 and several other types of cancer. But while it’s true that apples are a healthy food, moderation is key. As the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)8 notes, the amounts of fruit you should eat per day vary depending on certain factors:

Children under 8 — 1 to 1 1/2 cups per day
Children and teens — 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit per day
Women age 19 to 30 — 2 cups per day, while women older than 30 — 1 1/2 cups per day
Men of any age — 2 cups of fruit per day
What they don’t note, however, is that while fruits offer many vitamins, enzymes and minerals, they should be eaten in moderation due to fructose content, especially if you’re insulin resistant. And please understand that drinking fruit juices does not provide the same benefit as consuming whole fruits.
The_Optimist  Health 
january 2018 by murilo
UK bans microbeads in beauty products in bid to cut plastic in oceans
Microbeads are tiny bits of plastic found in exfoliating body washes and facial scrubs. Since their introduction in 1972, they have made their way into more than 100 personal care products sold by companies such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and L'Oréal.

A UK-wide ban on manufacturers making products containing microbeads has come into force, in an attempt to cut down on plastics in our oceans. The beads are used in hundreds of different cosmetic products such as face washes and shower gels.

They are then ingested by marine life and even end up entering our food chain.

Environment minister Therese Coffey told Sky News that the ban is part of a wider plan to cut down on plastic pollution.

She said: "We know that any plastic in the marine environment is not good and we know that animals consume this.

"They can be ingested directly into the fish and while we're still looking for extra evidence on the impact on human health, the point is that they don't need to be there and that's why we've taken the steps to have this ban."
The_Optimist 
january 2018 by murilo
Study: Artery hardness can be reduced rapidly with high doses of vitamin D
Hardening of the arteries—one of the signs of heart disease—can be improved in just four months by taking high doses of vitamin D, a new study has discovered.

Atherosclerosis happens when the artery walls start to narrow and harden, eventually leading to a heart attack or stroke—and medicine's standard response is cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, or bypass or angioplasty surgery.

But researchers have discovered that very high doses of vitamin D—six times more than the recommended daily allowance—is "significantly and rapidly reducing (arterial) stiffness," says Anas Raed, lead researcher on the project from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

The 4,000 international units (IUs) dose achieved a 10 per cent reduction in arterial hardness in just four months when it was tested on a group of 70 African-Americans aged between 13 and 45, who were also overweight or obese. Vitamin D levels of black people tend to be lower because darker skin absorbs less sunlight, a precursor of vitamin D.

In their experiment, the researchers tested a variety of different doses of the vitamin for 16 weeks before assessing the stiffness of arteries with the pulse wave velocity technique. Some of the volunteers were also given a placebo, or dummy dose of vitamin.
The_Optimist  Health 
january 2018 by murilo
4 delicious ways to add turmeric to your lifestyle
On frosty nights in India, people sip a glass of hot milk into which has been whisked a heaping teaspoon of turmeric. In Ayurvedic medicine, the drink — called haldi doodh — is considered a panacea for everything from the flu to inflammation. Proponents says regular turmeric consumption may also be one reason India has relatively low rates of Alzheimer's and dementia.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center says turmeric has also "demonstrated anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities in lab studies." Those findings along with turmeric's anti-bacterial properties is why Dr. Taz Bhatia, an Atlanta-based physician and author of "Super Woman RX," touts its benefits. There is one downside, she said.

"It is not always the most palatable, so when combined with other spices … it is delicious." (Bhatia's homemade version includes ginger and honey.)

Known more commonly outside India as "golden milk" — the "golden" comes from the rich yellow of the turmeric — the fortifying drink is now increasingly found in alternative formulations such as a breakfast bowl, bottled drink and an easy-to-prep mix.
The_Optimist  Health 
january 2018 by murilo
'The happiest man in the world': you can learn to meditate in 5 minutes at a time
There are many different kinds of meditation, and each is like any other skill in that it takes practice. Still, we asked Ricard for his most fundamental advice for someone interested in the general practice of meditation, before they're ready to learn nuances of various techniques.

Start with compassion meditation, Ricard said. "There's nothing mysterious," he said. "You don't need to be sitting trying to empty your mind with incense around you under the mango tree."

First, sit comfortably with your eyes closed or unfocused and breathe in and exhale slowly, focusing on your breath. As thoughts race through your mind, don't actively try to ignore them, but rather let them float by, without attaching to any particular one. If you find yourself distracted, bring your focus to your breathing.

When you are sufficiently relaxed, think of someone who makes you happy. Focus on your altruistic love for them.

"We all have unconditional love for a child or someone dear," he said. Such moments of love usually "last 10, 15 seconds, one minute, then we'd do something else, we go to about our work. But suppose you take that as a beautiful strong warm feeling and instead of letting it disappear for 15 seconds you cultivate it for five, 10 minutes, by reviving it. Coming back if you are distracted, keeping the clarity, the vividity, the vividness of that."

And that's it. After practicing that simple meditation exercise, you can begin to spread that compassionate feeling to other specific people, or strangers around you, or a particular part of the world.

As the many studies Ricard has participated in have proven, the mind reacts to this type of meditation, and the brain actually develops a stronger capability for emotional control.
The_Optimist  TM-FREE 
january 2018 by murilo
You need to get ready for digital money
There’s something else: The current exponential growth is not just related to one new phenomenon, Bitcoin. The trend involves many different cryptocurrencies. One of them, Ethereum, even challenges the crown of Bitcoin as the early pioneer. That broad development adds credibility to the perspective that we are not just talking about some, one-time, rare new thing but about a major adjustment in the economy.

And it doesn’t end there: bitcoin may be the most famous, or infamous, digital currency, but it’s certainly not the only one. There are Ethereum, Ripple, Auroracoin, Litecoin, BlackCoin, DigiByte, BitBay, BanxShares, Unobtanium, Pangea Poker and hundreds of others. The floodgates are open.
These currencies are experiments. Some will fail; others will succeed. That’s how it goes in the laboratories of innovation. But the successful ones will have an impact. They’ll usher in improvements, new innovations and Bitcoin 2.0. That’s the way change happens.
The_Optimist  Cryptocurrency 
january 2018 by murilo
The gut’s microbiome changes rapidly with diet
You are what you eat, and so are the bacteria that live in your gut.

Microbiologists have known for some time that different diets create different gut flora, but previous research has focused on mice instead of humans, leaving the actual relationship between our food and our stomach bacteria unclear. A new study, published Wednesday in Nature, indicates that these changes can happen incredibly fast in the human gut—within three or four days of a big shift in what you eat. “We found that the bacteria that lives in peoples’ guts is surprisingly responsive to change in diet,” Lawrence David, assistant professor at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy and one of the study’s authors, says. “Within days we saw not just a variation in the abundance of different kinds of bacteria, but in the kinds of genes they were expressing.” (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.)

For modern humans, the rapid shift could be less adaptive. The 10 participants in the study switched to either a plant- or animal-based diet, with the former avoiding animal products and the latter eating milk, cheese and meat. In the subjects eating animal products the researchers saw a significant uptick in Bilophila wadsworthia, a bacteria known to contribute to colitis, a variety of inflammatory bowel disease, in mice. But the link hasn’t been studied in humans, so David does not think that cheese-lovers are necessarily eating themselves sick. “We’re anticipating that people will try to draw conclusions about which diet is better from this,” David says, “and we want to address that it’s very difficult to come to any health-related judgment based on this study.” Without measurements of host health during the study, like inflammation in the gut or immune system responses, David says, such a connection is impossible to make.

Chang, who has worked on the connection between B. wadsworthia and colitis in mice, agrees that the new study does nothing to prove the same for humans. But he thinks there may be something there. “This study shows how sensitive the body is to dietary change,” he says. “For the lay public, it underscores the importance of diet in health and disease. People should pay more attention to what they eat. But it rests on scientists to recognize that dietary discipline has these varied effects, and to understand what each component does so we can design healthier diets.” Dramatic changes in our diet, he says, could very well be the cause of “Western disorders” such as inflammatory bowel disease and obesity. Still, David says, his study was not meant to change the way we eat.
The_Optimist  Health 
january 2018 by murilo
Why breathing is the key to getting a better workout
Twice a week, often between video calls or meetings, Andrew Lowenthal takes a break from work to open an app on his phone that helps him focus on his breathing.

The payoff? Better stress management, clearer thinking at work and — to Mr. Lowenthal’s surprise — more strength and power in the gym. “It’s such a fundamental part of being human but not something that we think about often,” Mr. Lowenthal said about his breathwork.

As the executive director of Out in Tech, a Manhattan-based nonprofit, Mr. Lowenthal, 33, typically spends three to 10 minutes on an app created by Inscape, a New York meditation studio. He inhales, holding and exhaling his breath for various lengths of time according to prompts. Mr. Lowenthal said that he now exercises more regularly and takes care of himself better because of his breathing exercises. “It definitely helps me with my endurance,” he said.

Long a key part of meditation and some kinds of yoga, breathwork is now becoming a discipline in its own right, with proponents offering classes, one-on-one sessions and apps dedicated to the practice. And whereas the focus has predominantly been on the mental and psychological benefits of breathwork, fitness industry professionals are increasingly saying that it can also enhance athletic performance or speed muscular recovery after a workout

It has been long recognized that deep, controlled breathing can calm someone having an anxiety attack or help anyone in need of a little more stress-relief and mental clarity. Hillary Clinton, for example, has talked about using alternate side nostril breathing to help her relax while on the 2016 presidential campaign trail. But what’s new is that scientists have found a physical link between breathing and what they call “emotionality.”

A study published last March in Science showed a direct anatomical link between the parts of the brain that control voluntary breathing and the parts that control emotionality. Altering the activity of this connection changed how aroused, alert or calm mice were. “It’s an important finding because it shows that there is a causality between the two,” said Andrew D. Huberman, a professor of Neurobiology and Ophthalmology at Stanford University.

“Breathwork can be thought of as exercise in that, if done correctly, has immediate benefits — physical, emotional and cognitive — but breathwork also has longer-term benefits if you do it regularly,” Dr. Huberman said. “The idea is that people can alter and strengthen the neural pathways that link breathing with emotion regulation centers in the brain, which can help them feel calmer and more alert, and sleep better, depending on the protocols they use.”

It can also make you a better athlete. Mr. MacKenzie, who is the co-author of three sports-related books including “Unbreakable Runner,” teaches his clients how to use nasal breathing to optimize their athletic performance and be more “metabolically efficient.” Breathing through the nose activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps people remain calm and alert, improves their peripheral vision and encourages them to maintain better posture and mechanics, which results in fewer injuries, Mr. Mackenzie said.

All of these findings are not lost on Equinox, the chain of high-end gyms. Instructors started getting basic training in breathwork about two years ago when the company introduced a class called HeadStrong, which blends a high-intensity workout with so-called mindful movement and concludes with breathing. “I do see breathwork becoming as ubiquitous for recovery as foam rolling or stretching,” said Michael Gervais, Equinox’s senior manager of group fitness talent. He mentioned one study that shows a link between parasympathetic nervous activity, which is activated by breathwork, and recovery status after an intense workout.

Khajak Keledjian, founder and former C.E.O. of Intermix and the founder of Inscape, credits meditation, which he does twice daily, for reducing stress and improving his sleep and energy levels. He’s also noticed that he has an easier time breathing when he goes on challenging hikes. “According to heart-rate standards,” he said, “my endurance and stamina is at the level of an athlete.”

All of these findings are not lost on Equinox, the chain of high-end gyms. Instructors started getting basic training in breathwork about two years ago when the company introduced a class called HeadStrong, which blends a high-intensity workout with so-called mindful movement and concludes with breathing. “I do see breathwork becoming as ubiquitous for recovery as foam rolling or stretching,” said Michael Gervais, Equinox’s senior manager of group fitness talent. He mentioned one study that shows a link between parasympathetic nervous activity, which is activated by breathwork, and recovery status after an intense workout.
The_Optimist  Health  TM-FREE 
january 2018 by murilo
Cell-cultured vegan chicken could be in supermarkets sooner than you think
Cell-cultured “clean” meat is grown by extracting cells from an animal and then growing those cells in a bioreactor filled with a high-tech nutrient-dense liquid. The cells feed on the liquid and proliferate, producing chicken meat that’s molecularly identical to conventional meat without having ever slaughtered an animal. Some early research has shown that, theoretically, clean meat operations could release 98% less greenhouse gas than conventional farming. They would also use 99% less land and 96% less water.

There a lot of benefits that could come if we were to adopt cell-cultured vegan “meat.” Early research has shown that clean meat options could release 98 percent less greenhouse gas than conventional farming, and would use 99 percent less land and 96 percent less water. That's why it was so extraordinary when one of Europe’s largest poultry producers recently decided to team up with an Israeli clean meat company to get cell-cultured chicken to the market within three years. The partnership between the two companies is the latest sign that global meat industry players are willing to step over to cleaner options in the future.
The_Optimist 
january 2018 by murilo
TOP 20 NEUROSCIENCE NEWS STORIES OF 2017
1 – If You Get the Chills From Music, You May Have a Unique Brain

In February, USC researchers released a report that explains why some people experience more intense emotions while listening to music.

The study revealed people who report experiencing a physical response, such as getting the chills, after listening to specific peices of music may have structural differences in the brain. The researchers discovered higher volume of connective fibers between the auditory cortex and areas associated with emotional processing in those who reported physical response to music.

This story received a great deal of attention on Reddit and was subsequently picked up by numerous major news outlets. Currently, the story is number 1 on the Independent’s Indie 100 list.

4 – After 15 Years in a Vegetative State, Nerve Stimulation Restores Consciousness

A groundbreaking study from September revealed researchers used vagus nerve stimulation to help restore consciousness to a 35 year old man who has been in a vegetative state for 15 years.

Researchers reported one month of VNS helped to improve the patient’s movement, attention and brain activity. The treatment allowed the patient to respond to simple orders, such as turning his head on request, which he has been unable to do for almost a decade.

The researchers noted the dramatic outcome challenges the conventional belief that disorders of consciousness that last for longer than 12 months are irreversible

6 – Research Suggests Association Between Gut Bacteria and Emotion

2017 has brought about some major insight into the role gut bacteria plays in psychological and neurological health. In June, we reported UCLA researchers discovered microbiota appears to have a direct effect on behavior and emotion.

Using MRI technology and fecal sampling, researchers discovered women whose gut bacterial composition contained higher levels of bacteriodes had greater gray matter thickness in the frontal cortex, insula and hippocampus; areas of the brain associated with information processing and memory. Those with higher levels of Prevotella had greater connectivity between brain areas associated with emotion and attention, and lower hippocampal volume.

Women with higher Prevotella levels expressed more negative emotions, such as anxiety and distress, when looking at less positive images than the women with greater bacteriod levels

10 – Living Near a Forest Keeps Your Amygdala Healthier

In October, Max Planck Institute researchers reported living close to nature makes people better able to deal with stressful situations.

The researchers conducted a neuroimaging study of city dwellers who lived closer to forests. They discovered this group were more likely to have a healthier amygdala structure than those who lived in more urban areas. This, the researchers concluded, made people better able to deal with stressful situations

12 – New Light on Link Between Gut Bacteria and Anxiety

In August, we reported researchers discovered a possible way in which gut bacteria could influence anxiety and depression.

A study released in the journal Microbiome revealed gut microbes may influence microRNA in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala, two brain areas associated with depression and anxiety disorders.

14 – Eye Contact With Your Baby Helps Synchronize Brainwaves

In November, University of Cambridge researchers released a report on the positive neurodevelopmental implications of making eye contact when interacting with infants.

Using EEG technology, researchers discovered eye contact causes brainwave synchronization between a child and the person communicating with them. The researchers believe the synchronization can help to boost learning and communication skills in infants

15 – Your Mood Depends on the Food You Eat, and What You Should Eat Changes as You Age

Throughout the year, we reported frequently about the impact diet can have on neurological and psychological health.

In December, we revealed Binghampton researchers found new evidence to suggest the foods we eat can affect our mental wellbeing. Additionally, the researchers reported, our dietary needs change as we age to keep us mentally healthy.

Researchers found younger people are more dependent on foods that increase the availability of neurotransmitter precursors and concentrations in the brain, such as meats and other high protein foods. For those of us over 30, we may be more reliant on fruits and other foods that increase the availability of antioxidants
The_Optimist  Health 
january 2018 by murilo
20 “science-based“ reasons to inspire you to stay physically active
1. Got Inflammation? 20 Minutes of Exercise Could Be a Remedy: 20-minute bouts of moderate-intensity physical activity trigger an anti-inflammatory cellular response

2. Physical Fitness Keeps Your Brain in Good Shape: Cardiorespiratory fitness boosts brain activity and improves memory performance.

3. 30 Minutes of Daily Activity May Help Slow Chromosomal Aging: Even if you sit 10 hours a day, 30 minutes of activity can protect your telomeres from premature aging.

5. Low-Intensity Aerobic Exercise Has Surprising Brain Benefits: Light physical activity (such as walking) stimulates the visual cortex and sensitizes human vision.

6. Regular Aerobic Exercise in Midlife Protects the Aging Brain: Aerobic exercise in middle age boosts collateral circulation as the brain ages.

7. Physical Activity May Be a Drug-Free Elixir for Chronic Pain: Staying physically active improves pain modulation in older adults.
The_Optimist  Health 
january 2018 by murilo
From Plato to the Christian mystics: Western philosophy is rooted in psychedelics
Despite the potential benefits, Sjöstedt-H does not believe that everyone should take psychedelics. Nor does he insist, as was common in the ‘60s, that doing so would lead to world peace. When I told Sjöstedt-H that I was too afraid of my own mind to risk exploring its suppressed depths, he agreed that was a valid concern. Bad trips are a serious risk, and more troubling for some than others. Those who are religious (and so would be more profoundly affected by visions of devils, for example), are especially anxious, or have suffered serious traumas, could well find psychedelics to be harmful rather than enlightening.
The_Optimist 
december 2017 by murilo
British supermarkets: return scheme for plastic bottles in bid to cut pollution
A deposit return scheme involves consumers paying a small deposit that is refunded when they return empty plastic bottles and is common in many parts of the world including Denmark, Germany and Australia.

“We hope that other supermarkets will see the way the wind is blowing on this issue ... and follow Iceland and the Co-op in recognising that our oceans should not be our rubbish bin,” said Tisha Brown of Greenpeace UK.

France has banned plastic shopping bags, adding disposable plastic cups and plates from 2020 while Kenya will soon bring in a ban on household and commercial plastic packaging after a successful grassroots social media campaign.

Scotland has already committed to introducing a deposit return scheme.
The_Optimist 
december 2017 by murilo
Scientists have discovered a protein that helps direct our T-cells to fight tumors
Immunotherapy is the new revolution in cancer treatment. As scientists discover new ways to adapt, or amplify, the body's natural defenses it opens the door to the development of better weapons to destroy tumors and kill cancers.

One way scientists are manipulating the body's natural defenses is called adoptive cell transfer, which involves extracting a patient's own T-cells, genetically modifying them to target the specific proteins that mark cancer cells, and then injecting them back into the patient. While this kind of therapy is proving effective against some cancers, it’s not as effective targeting cancers with solid tumors. That could soon change thanks to the discovery of a new protein that helps direct our cancer-fighting T-cells to go attack tumors.
The_Optimist 
december 2017 by murilo
Macron is spending millions to move American scientists to France
In an effort to counter Donald Trump on the climate change front, Emmanuel Macron has awarded millions of euros to 18 American scientists so that they can relocate to France. The “Make Our Planet Great Again” grants are part of the French President’s plan to replace US financing of climate research. The research of the winning recipients will focus on pollution, hurricanes, and clouds.
The_Optimist 
december 2017 by murilo
Study: Poor lifestyle causes half of all cancers
Smoking is by far and away the single major cause of cancer, but being obese, drinking too much alcohol, having a poor diet and being physically inactive combined are the second major cause. Overall, 42 percent of the 659,640 new cancer cases reported in the US every year were directly caused by poor lifestyle, as were half the 265,000 annual cancer deaths, say researchers from the American Cancer Society.
The_Optimist  Health 
december 2017 by murilo
Mitochondria shown to trigger cell ageing
An international team of scientists has for the first time shown that mitochondria, the batteries of the cells, are essential for ageing.
In a study, published today in the EMBO Journal and led by Dr João Passos at Newcastle University, they found that when mitochondria were eliminated from ageing cells they became much more similar to younger cells. This experiment was able for the first time to conclusively prove that mitochondria are major triggers of cell ageing.

This brings scientists a step closer to developing therapies to counteract the ageing of cells, by targeting mitochondria.

The team carried out a series of genetic experiments involving human cells grown in the laboratory and succeeded in eliminating the majority, if not all, the mitochondria from ageing cells. Cells can normally eliminate mitochondria which are faulty by a process called mitophagy. The scientists were able to “trick” the cells into inducing this process in a grand scale, until all the mitochondria within the cells were physically removed.

To their surprise, they observed that the ageing cells, after losing their mitochondria, showed characteristics similar to younger cells, that is they became rejuvenated. The levels of inflammatory molecules, oxygen free radicals and expression of genes which are among the makers of cellular ageing dropped to the level that would be expected in younger cells.
The_Optimist  Health 
november 2017 by murilo
Fasting from time to time can increase your lifespan
A new study from Harvard researchers has now shown how fasting can increase lifespan, slow aging and improve health by altering the activity of mitochondrial networks inside our cells.
"Although previous work has shown how intermittent fasting can slow aging, we are only beginning to understand the underlying biology," says William Mair, senior author on the study.

Mitochondria are a little like tiny power plants inside our cells. Last year a team of researchers led by Newcastle University successfully showed how mitochondria are fundamental to the aging of cells. The new research from Harvard shows how the changing shapes of mitochondrial networks can affect longevity and lifespan, but more importantly the study illustrates how fasting manipulates those mitochondrial networks to keep them in a "youthful" state.
"Although previous work has shown how intermittent fasting can slow aging, we are only beginning to understand the underlying biology," says William Mair, senior author on the study.

Mitochondria are a little like tiny power plants inside our cells. Last year a team of researchers led by Newcastle University successfully showed how mitochondria are fundamental to the aging of cells. The new research from Harvard shows how the changing shapes of mitochondrial networks can affect longevity and lifespan, but more importantly the study illustrates how fasting manipulates those mitochondrial networks to keep them in a "youthful" state.
"Although previous work has shown how intermittent fasting can slow aging, we are only beginning to understand the underlying biology," says William Mair, senior author on the study.

Mitochondria are a little like tiny power plants inside our cells. Last year a team of researchers led by Newcastle University successfully showed how mitochondria are fundamental to the aging of cells. The new research from Harvard shows how the changing shapes of mitochondrial networks can affect longevity and lifespan, but more importantly the study illustrates how fasting manipulates those mitochondrial networks to keep them in a "youthful" state.
Inside cells mitochondrial networks generally alternate between two states: fused and fragmented. Using nematode worms, an organism useful for studying longevity as it only lives for two weeks, the study found that restricted diets promotes homeostasis in mitochondrial networks allowing for a healthy plasticity between these fused and fragmented states.

"Our work shows how crucial the plasticity of mitochondria networks is for the benefits of fasting. If we lock mitochondria in one state, we completely block the effects of fasting or dietary restriction on longevity," says Mair.

The study also found that fasting enhances mitochondrial coordination with peroxisomes, a type of organelle that can increase fatty acid oxidation, a fundamental fat metabolism process. In the study's experiments, the lifespan of the worm was increased by simply preserving mitochondrial network homeostasis through dietary intervention. These results help shed light on how fasting can increase longevity and promote healthy aging.

"Low-energy conditions such as dietary restriction and intermittent fasting have previously been shown to promote healthy aging. Understanding why this is the case is a crucial step toward being able to harness the benefits therapeutically," explains Heather Weir, lead author of the study.

"Our findings open up new avenues in the search for therapeutic strategies that will reduce our likelihood of developing age-related diseases as we get older."
The_Optimist  Health 
november 2017 by murilo
In two years, Scotland will run only on renewable energy
Countries looking to transition to clean energy as quickly as possible should use Scotland as a model nation to follow. Over the past fifteen years, Scotland has gone from garnering 10 percent of its electricity from renewables to 60 percent. Now its on track to supply 100 percent of its electricity using clean sources by 2020.
The_Optimist 
november 2017 by murilo
How to keep your brain sharp, even if you aren’t a ‘super-ager’
Scientists are fascinated by a rare group of people known as super-agers — people over age 80 who retain certain cognitive abilities that are similar to people in their 50s.
Previous research on super-agers found differences in the sizes of certain areas of their brains.
A new study found that super-agers also differ in their social networks.

Several months ago, researchers discovered at least one physical basis for these differences that has to do with the thickness of the outer layer of the super-agers' brains.

But in a small study published in October in the journal PLOS One, researchers took a look at whether there was a social side to these differences as well. Sure enough, after studying 31 super-agers over age 80 as well as 19 cognitively average people of the same age, the scientists found that the super-agers tended to have significantly more satisfying, high-quality relationships than their normal peers.
The_Optimist  Mente  Health 
november 2017 by murilo
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