Archive for the ‘health’ Category


As a child, the 19th-century the English poet, John Clare, desired to walk to the edge of the horizon to find new worlds beyond. He wanted, he said, to walk all the way out of his knowledge.

But in the last two decades, neuroscience has begun to catch up with the idea of our ancients : a sound mind flourishes in a healthy body. Thales and Juvenal are not something consigned to the shelves for dust to gather but are relevant to us even this day. Their ideas are not gathered from musty halls of an ivory tower but in the midst of a jostling crowd now it could be a Marathon Run. That reminds me the mathematical genius Alan Turing was the Marathon man who could run in 2.4 hours. There is a strong link between exercise and intelligence. While the studies unite in telling us that running will makes us smarter, it is only partly true. The process is more complicated and reveals more about the wonderful complexities of both the human body and its evolution. Although the science might be helping us to understand how the mechanisms work, an important question remains: why does running make us smarter?

Two studies, one published in Cell Metabolism by Finnish researchers in Feb. and June, have expanded our understanding of the mechanisms involved in running and the ways that it enhances memory and cognition. Before these, it was understood that exercise induced a process called neurogenesis (where new brain cells are created) in a part of the brain involved in memory formation and spatial navigation, known as the hippocampus.

While intense exercise will create brain cells, they are basically stem cells waiting to be put to use. Exercise doesn’t create new knowledge; rather, it gives you the mental equivalent of a sharpened pencil and clean sheet of paper. It prepares you for learning, but you have to actively do some learning yourself, too. Integrating exercise into your working or studying day would seem like a sensible option, if this particular benefit is of interest to you.

I think that what these discoveries about running and improving cognitive abilities tell us is that the hunter-gatherers of prehistory had to have the ability to outrun theirs.

We are slow in a sprint compared to that of a cheetah but we can chase down almost any animal on the planet to the point of exhaustion over longer distances. It is due to persistence hunting as persistent as Captain Ahab in Melville classic Moby Dick. Hunting was a risky activity because it required hunters to leave behind the places they knew in the determined pursuit of prey. With no map-making technologies, the navigational skills of the brain had to step up and do all the work. So those people who adapted this brain cell growth response to distance running were more likely to find their way back to their tribe, and consequently, to survive.

The growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus and the enhancement of spatial memory that is brought on by endurance running is basically an evolutionary safety net for when you have outrun your knowledge, when you have run so far that you no longer know where you are and you need to learn, fast. It is a mechanism that makes information uptake easiest when historically you might have been tired, lost, and at your most vulnerable.

I know what I have written with some hardship what with convalescing from a bout of pneumonia and other assorted evils of old age, is sound but I do not intend to practice what I preach. Out running and expanding your limits of knowledge works well to young bucks but not for me.

(ack: the Conversation-28 Feb.,2016/

Author of ‘Footnotes: How Running Makes us Human’)


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Some personality traits appear to be linked with the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, a new study suggests.
The tendency to avoid taking risks appears to be a stable personality trait across a patient’s lifetime — as far back as 30 years before symptoms began, those with Parkinson’s disease said they did not often engage in risky or exhilarating activities, such as riding roller coasters or speeding, the study found.
The findings add to a growing body of research suggesting Parkinson’s is more likely to afflict people with rigid, cautious personalities.
It’s possible that what we consider to be aspects of someone’s personality may in fact be very early manifestations of Parkinson’s, said study researcher Kelly Sullivan, of the University of South Florida’s department of neurology. However, much more research is needed to confirm this hypothesis, Sullivan said.(May 1,2012-LiveScience)
One notable exception to the rule is Hitler. He never was cautious or stable.He had opinions, prejudices and his steps into the centre stage of German politics was a gambler’s approach. His bluff was not seriously challenged and never for once he stopped upping the stakes ever higher. History is clear that he was suffering from the disease.
There are those who have Parkinson’s personality and there are those who have not(for example-Hitler); and yet circumstances add up, genetic partly and extraneous conditions also play their part.
Allow me to indulge in my humor: If all the cautious, stable people suffered from Parkinson’s the entire world would have to be shut up. Day to day matters that keep the world run will stop. Do you think it can be left with unstable personalities the kind of fellows who were running Investment banking? The world would go in the way of Baring Bank( now defunct) if Goldman Sachs could get hold of it. Not as yet.

The primary fault in Parkinson’s Disease is the insufficient formation of dopamine. When dopamine fails to form properly the highly damaging superoxide anion is formed instead. This can cause further deterioration in Parkinson’s Disease. Although cell damage is widely claimed to cause Parkinson’s Disease when there is a certain lack of the Parkin gene and it can hasten or aggravate the rate of cell damage. (Journal of Cell Biology [2008] Nov 24.

15th November 2008 – History
The Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, was known to have Parkinson’s Disease from 1933 until his suicide in 1945 At the end of the Second World War he was largely confined to his bunker in Berlin. In his final days in the bunker, he shuffled around his room, mumbling to himself. His shaking was related to emotional upsets. Physically, he had quickly deteriorated and developed the appearance of an old man. The Nazi hierarchy had throughout tried to conceal his Parkinson’s Disease by all means.(ack: http://viartis.net/parkinsons.disease/news)

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Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960)
Is he still relevant? I think so. Especially when in America medicare is still an explosive issue.
The collective principle asserts that… no society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means.
—Aneurin Bevan, In Place of Fear, p100
On the “appointed day”, 5 July 1948, having overcome political opposition from both the Conservative Party and from within his own party, and after a dramatic showdown with the British Medical Association, which had threatened to derail the National Health Service scheme before it had even begun, as medical practitioners continued to withhold their support just months before the launch of the service, Bevan’s National Health Service Act of 1946 came into force. After 18 months of ongoing dispute between the Ministry of Health and the BMA, Bevan finally managed to win over the support of the vast majority of the medical profession by offering a couple of minor concessions, but without compromising on the fundamental principles of his NHS proposals. Bevan later gave the famous quote that, in order to broker the deal, he had “stuffed their mouths with gold”. Some 2,688 voluntary and municipal hospitals in England and Wales were nationalised and came under Bevan’s supervisory control as Health Minister.
When he was Britain’s minister of Health, he returned home each night with cabinet papers and retreated to a small top bed room with them. Once he called late in the night for his second brief case as bulging with sheaves of papers as before.
At this his wife remonstrated, ‘No’ said she, ‘One you may take. But taking two to bed is positively immoral.’

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The United States is one of the few Western democratic countries that permit independent militias.

Their rapid growth coincides with a sharp rise in partisan rhetoric as the November U.S. congressional elections draw nearer. Depending on your perspective, they are either patriots or paranoid. Experts in law enforcement and academia are divided as to how big an actual threat they may pose. But they all agree on one thing: the groups are very well armed.

“Most (militia groups) are merely in the rhetorical and defensive stage,” said Brian Levin, professor of criminal justice at California State University and an expert on militias and domestic terrorism. “But we don’t know which groups are going to be benign and which are going to be small incubators for radicalism.”

This reminds me of an uncle of mine who imagined himself a human guinea pig. He had no scientific background or backing from the government to conduct the kind of tests he carried out on himself. When the swine flue scare was at its height he tested on himself if the whole panic was the creation of some multinational company or not. So he injected some benign and some flue virus on himself.

When his family cried that he would be knocked out by flu he laughed it off saying,’ My rational mind says the benign virus will neutralise the harmful. My body will be left unaffected’.

Everything went according to his calculations. Only that he sneezed once and it was so hard that his whole inside( all squashed up by the struggle between the good and bad germs)came out. There was nothing worth salvaging in it.

There is a thin line between democracy and democrazy. It all depends how you safeguard liberty.


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‘AUSTIN, Texas – Texas has ordered a recall of all products ever shipped from a now-closed Peanut Corp. of America plant in Plainview amid a nationwide salmonella outbreak. The order came Thursday evening from the Department of State Health Services. The agency says “dead rodents, rodent excrement and bird feathers” were discovered Wednesday in a crawl space above a production area. A state inspection also found that the unit’s air handling system was pulling debris from the infested crawl space into production areas. The plant began operating in March 2005 but was shut down earlier this week.’(Associated Press) Did I hear from certain quarters who had insisted on a clause in the proposed stimulus bill ‘Buy American’?


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I just came across an item titled ‘Billing the Doctor for Your Time’. First let me quote: ‘Over at the Economix blog, Princeton economics professor Alan B. Krueger applies economic theory to the doctor’s waiting room. He writes about the “opportunity cost” of being a patient. Any student of Econ 101 knows that economists measure costs by opportunity costs, meaning everything that is given up to get something else. Time spent interacting with the medical system could be used for other activities, such as work and leisure. Moreover, spending time getting medical care is not fun. This time should be counted as part of the cost of health care’.(Tara Parker-Pope on health-Feb 9,’09) Who needs healing: You or your physician?


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