Why Some Diets Work Better for Some People than Others

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Ever notice some people seem to eat anything they want and never gain a pound, while others seem to gain weight just by looking at fattening foods? You may be seeing things correctly after all. According to research this may have a biological cause. Using fruit flies, researchers have found that genes interacting with diet, rather than diet alone, are the main cause of variation in metabolic traits, such as body weight. This helps explain why some diets work better for some people than ot…hers, and suggests that future diets should be tailored to an individual’s genes rather than to physical appearance.

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“There is no one-size-fits all solution to the diseases of obesity and type-2 diabetes,” said Laura K. Reed, the lead investigator in the work. “Each person has a unique set of genetic and environmental factors contributing to his or her metabolic health, and as a society, we should stop looking for a panacea and start accepting that this is a complex problem that may have a different solution for each individual.”

To make this discovery, the scientists studied 146 different genetic lines of fruit flies that were fed four different diets (nutritionally balanced, low calorie, high sugar, and high fat). Researchers then measured a variety of metabolic traits, including body weight, in each group. Flies in some of the genetic lines were highly sensitive to their diets, as reflected by changes in body weight, while flies of other lines showed no change in weight across diets. The scientists were able to ascertain what portion of the total variation in the metabolic traits was determined by genetics alone, by diet alone, or by the interaction between genotype and diet. Results showed that diet alone made a small contribution to the total variation, while genotype and genotype interactions with diet made very large contributions. This study strongly suggests that some individuals can achieve benefits from altering their dietary habits, while the same changes for others will have virtually no effect.

“The summer beach season often serves as a ‘gut check’ for many in terms of their weight,” said Mark Johnston, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Genetics. “This research explains why the one-size-fits-all approach offered by many diet programs can have dramatically different effects for people who try them.”

: Elements4Health



Why We Never Forget How to Ride a Bicycle

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Ever wondered why we don’t forget how to ride a bike? Well, researchers from the University of Aberdeen claim to have found an answer to the  question.
Lead researcher Dr Peer Wulff has discovered a key nerve cell in the cerebellum section of the brain that controls skills such as riding a bicycle, skiing, or even eating with chopsticks, reports the Daily Express.

This nerve cell monitors electrical signals that leave the cerebellum and transform them for storage in other parts of the brain.

The “gatekeeper” cell helps brain to remember newly learnt coordination skills.

The researchers hope that the new discovery could pave way for creating artificial devices to mimic normal brain functions and benefit those who have suffered brain disorders.

Source: The Times Of India


Why Painkillers Relieve Men Faster

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Does popping a painkiller provide faster relief to you than your wife?

Thank the middle section of your brain.

Scientists at Georgia State Universitys Neuroscience Institute and Center for Behavioral Neuroscience have for the first time identified the most likely reason why analgesic drug treatment is usually less potent in females than males.

“Opioid-based narcotics such as morphine are the most widely prescribed therapeutic agents for the alleviation of persistent pain. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that morphine is significantly less potent in women compared with men. Until now, the mechanism driving the phenomenon was unknown,” said Anne Murphy, who conducted the research with Dayna Loyd.

Scientists through animal studies have shown that the previously reported differences in morphine’s ability to block pain in male versus female rats are most likely due to sex differences in mu-opioid receptor expression in a region of the brain called the periaqueductal gray area (PAG).

Located in the midbrain area, the PAG plays a major role in the modulation of pain by housing a large population of mu-opioid receptor expressing neurons. Morphine and similar drugs bind to these mu-opioid receptors and ultimately tell the brain to stop responding to pain signals to the nerve cells resulting in the reduced sensation of pain.

The findings have been reported in the December issue of `The Journal of Neuroscience‘.

Scientists say the discovery is a major step toward finding more effective treatments for females suffering from persistent pain.

Reacting to the study, Dr Madhuri Bihari, head of department of neurology at AIIMS said: “There is a difference in reaction of analgesic drugs on male and female bodies even though it is slight. Pain reduces slightly more in men than women after popping a painkiller.”

“It was believed that it’s because of the faster metabolic rate among women. This study is, therefore, significant. How much it will help clinically is yet to be understood,” Dr Bihari said.

Using a series of anatomical and behavioural tests, Murphy and Loyd were able to determine that male rats have a significantly higher level of mu-opioid receptors in the PAG region of the brain compared with females.

This higher level of receptors is what makes morphine more potent in males because less drug is required to activate enough receptors to reduce the experience of pain.

Interestingly, when they used a plant-derived toxin to remove the mu-opioid receptor from the PAG, morphine no longer worked, suggesting that this brain region is required for opiate-mediated pain relief.

Additional tests also found females reacted differently to morphine depending on the stage of their estrous cycle.

Analgesic drug market in India has swelled over the years. Painkiller drug Voveran had emerged as the top brand in the domestic pharmaceutical market with the largest sales for the first seven months of 2007

Sources: The Times Of India

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Why Do Ants Work 24/7?

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You think they are working 24 hours a day because you see them working at every wakeful hour. And all the workers look the same. But no one knows whether ants “sleep”. They don’t have eyelids, so they can’t close their eyes. But they do have periods of rest, where the brain and biological functions slow down and they stop moving. Though not well documented and possibly varying from species to species, it is generally accepted that most ants have periods of dormancy akin to sleep.

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As workers, ants have to respond to the colony needs. Ants seen foraging for food work from sunrise to sunset. Others inside the colony do other chores like tending to the queen and raising the larvae. The whole colony does not ‘sleep’ at the same time. They have “shifts” — one ant takes up the responsibilities, relieving another which can then tend to its own needs like sleep and feeding itself. Once inside for the night, ants reduce their activities. They fall in a sleep-like idleness with reduced biological functions. Each ant rests (a way of preserving resources) when necessary and “wakes up” when the colony needs it again, but the ants need time to get to normal functioning, resulting in a sluggish movement.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Why Large Amounts of Fruit May Not Be Healthy

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The editorial linked below appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It traces the rise in fructose consumption, and the rise in chronic diseases that have come in its wake.Fructose is a simple sugar found in honey, fruit, table sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Because of the increase in the consumption of these sweeteners, fructose intake worldwide has quadrupled since the early 1900s.


Over the past three decades, there has been an even greater acceleration in consumption, in part because of the introduction of HFCS. The increase in fructose consumption parallels the rise in obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease.

Studies in animals have shown that fructose can induce insulin resistance, elevated triglycerides, abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, inflammation, oxidative stress, endothelial dysfunction, microvascular disease, hyperuricemia, glomerular hypertension and renal injury, and fatty liver. The consumption of large amounts of dietary fructose also can rapidly induce insulin resistance.