PROBIOTICS MAY LESSEN THE SEVERITY OF UPPER RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS IN COLLEGE STUDENTS

probiotics

 

Certain probiotic strains are known to influence immune function and may help improve health-related quality of life (HRQL) during upper respiratory infections.

Recent research published in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that supplementing with the probiotic strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG® and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis BB-12® may help improve health-related quality of life during upper respiratory infections.
The study participants included 231 normally healthy college students living on campus in residence halls at the Framingham State University. The students were randomized to receive either a placebo or a probiotic powder containing a minimum of 1 billion colony forming units each of Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG® and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis BB-12®. The students completed The Wisconsin Upper Respiratory Symptom Survey-21 to assess HRQL during URI. Reporting of HRQL outcomes included self-reported duration, symptom severity and functional impairment of URI.
When compared to the placebo group, the average duration of URI was significantly shorter by 2 days in the probiotic group. The group on the probiotics also reported a 34% lower average severity score compared to placebo. The probiotics group also missed significantly fewer school days, although there was no difference in number of missed work days.
Although more research is needed to determine specific mechanisms involved and the possible cost-benefit of preventive supplementation, the combination of probiotic strains LGG® and BB-12® may be valuable tool in improving the health-related quality of life during exposure to upper respiratory infections.

Smith TJ, Rigassio-radler D, Denmark R, Haley T, Touger-decker R. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG® and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis BB-12® on health-related quality of life in college students affected by upper respiratory infections. Br J Nutr. 2013;109(11):1999-2007.

 

from : Ask the Scientists

 

Crazy Effects of Caffeine To Your Body

coffee

It’s said that America runs on oil, but if that’s true, then it walks on caffeine. Americans drink 400 million cups of coffee a day, and who knows how much tea, energy drinks, and other caffeine sources on top of that. Caffeine is actually a psychoactive drug—the most widely used in the world—and millions of people depend on it every day to wake up and get going…or simply just to be civil. People have gotten so used to the idea of coffee and tea as a casual pick-me-up when we start to slow down that no one really thinks about what’s actually going on when we slurp down that pint of java three times a day. As it turns out, caffeine can do some pretty crazy stuff to your fragile, puny body.

awake
Awake
Your brain produces a molecule called adenosine, which binds to receptors in your brain and slows down neural activity: it’s a natural process that’s thought to help you get to sleep at night but often makes you drowsy during the day. When you knock back that cup of joe in the morning, the caffeine is quickly absorbed into the blood and makes its way to the brain. There, it makes like a bad house guest and plops itself down in adenosine’s favorite armchair. But where adenosine makes you tired, caffeine doesn’t, and so every brain receptor that binds with caffeine is one that can’t make you tired. In other words, caffeine doesn’t have an agenda, and it called shotgun.

poop-effect

Poop
Caffeine has long been known to affect muscles, increasing activity and speeding contractions. And while that’s useful in an athletic sense, it’s useful in a more sedentary sense when applied to the intestines. Another theory is that caffeine increases the production of a hormone that stimulates the colon, which in turn stimulates the reading of newspapers in a locked room. But since researchers have reproduced the effect using decaffeinated coffee, that’s one theory that could probably use more fiber.

energy
Increased energy
Increased energy is one of many parallel side effects that caffeine has on the body. When adenosine is blocked from making connections in the brain, it just sort of wanders off and tricks the brain into a mild fight or flight response. This inevitably leads to adrenaline being released, which makes your heart beat faster and harder and causes sugar to be released into your bloodstream. A similar effect can be achieved by standing next to a dangerous wild animal, but it’s not quite as convenient.

lower-exertion
Stamina
The next useful side effect of caffeine consumption is achieved as a result of the increased blood flow. As the heart beats faster, more blood moves through your body and through your lungs, leading to increased oxygenation, which is of crucial importance during sustained exertion and allows the muscles to operate more efficiently and with less effort. Caffeine also stimulates the metabolism, which means you’re burning more calories when you’re doing nothing. Don’t get your hopes up for a weight loss shortcut though, because potential caffeine-based weight loss programs are a shaky proposition.

concentrate
Concentrate
As well as stealing adenosine’s seat, caffeine is something of an enabler to serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters that help the brain talk to itself. Norepinephrine is another neurotransmitter that’s produced in various parts of the body, and is especially good at speeding up brain function and improving concentration and memory retrieval. It also improves muscle function and efficiency. All very useful if you’re running from a sabre toothed tiger, as well as for getting that report finished by the deadline.

relieves-headache
No headache
Caffeine is a bit of a wonder drug, and it wears many hats. One of those hats has the word “vasoconstrictor” written on it (no relation to the boa constrictor). Often when a person is experiencing a headache, the blood vessels in their brain dilate. Caffeine directly counters this by causing blood vessels to constrict, helping to reduce the pain. Caffeine is often added to migraine medication since the combination of caffeine with aspirin and acetaminophen can improve pain relief by up to 40 percent—and increase drug prices by 140 percent.

addiction

Addiction
Unfortunately, for all the positive effects of caffeine on your body, there are a few negatives as well. As with many drugs, dosage is key. Almost anything, even water, can do you harm if taken to extremes, and that goes for caffeine as well. Most of the time, though, it’s not the excessive consumption that causes problems (at least not in the short term), but a sudden drop in consumption.

When someone consistently consumes high doses of caffeine, the brain adapts by creating more receptors for adenosine to bind to, creating a new normal. This effectively produces a kind of addiction (although not true addiction) since that person then becomes more susceptible to withdrawal symptoms if they cut back, including headaches, irritability, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating, to name a few of the more pleasant ones. Raise your hand if that sounds like a your morning before you get your first cup of coffee. Then put your hand down and make a cup of coffee.

belly

Bulging tummy
Drinking too much coffee doesn’t just leave a bad taste in your mouth, it can also have a negative effect on your guts. Caffeine increases acid production in your stomach as well as stimulating the muscles in your bowel. This usually happens when caffeine is ingested on an empty stomach and can lead to rushed bathroom visits—though this seems to be an actual goal for some people, who pay for a coffee enema to achieve the same effective result.

insomia
Insomia
Although it can take as little as 15 minutes for caffeine to get to work after entering your body, it can take as long as six hours for your body to remove it again. And for all that time, you’re under its influence. That’s great if you take it at the beginning of a long shift, but not so good if you’re planning sleep any time soon. Because with all those extra hormones and neurotransmitters floating around your system, you’re unlikely to keep your eyes closed, and when you do finally fall asleep, it messes with your sleep patterns—resulting in less time spent in REM sleep. All this adds up to more fatigue, which equals more coffee, and the whole thing starts again. Caffeine sure picked an effective marketing strategy.

osteoporosis
Osteoporosis
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to spend a year on the international space station, caffeine holds the answer…at least to one of the less pleasant side effects of space travel. That’s because one of the things shared by astronauts and people who consume large quantities of caffeine is a loss of bone density. The people most at risk of this are the elderly of course, but it’s definitely a possibility for someone looking to be extra authentic for their astronaut cosplay

Tonight Is A Record-Breaking Supermoon – The Biggest In 68 Years

A supermoon rises behind Glastonbury Tor, Somerset in 2015. (Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

There will be an amazing spectacle tonight as the first supermoon in almost 70 years appears in the night sky. In fact, if you’re younger than 68 you have never witnessed this record-breaking supermoon in your lifetime.

Tomorrow morning, November 14th, the moon will be the closest it has been to Earth since 1948. It will appear 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than the average monthly full moon. Of course that’s dependent on hopefully viewing the supermoon without the obstruction of a cloudy night. Thankfully it appears most of the United States will remain mostly clear for tonight’s supermoon.

If you happen to miss the moon tonight, you’ll have to wait until November 25, 2034 so take some time to go outside tonight and witness the impressive moon.

What Is A Supermoon?

A supermoon typically refers to the concurrence of two phenomena. One is when the moon is within 90% of its closest position to Earth in its orbit. Since the moon’s orbit is elliptical the moon during perigee is about 30,000 miles closer to the Earth than the apogee. The other phenomenon is syzygy, which is when the Earth, sun and moon all line up as the moon orbits Earth. When both a perigee and syzygy occur and the moon is located on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun we get a supermoon.

A supermoon sets behind the Statue of Liberty, New York in 2015. (Credit: Gary Hershorn/Corbis)

SOURCE

Using Digital Devices Around Bedtime Can Disrupt Kids’ Sleep

kids-sleep

 

A new study discovers use of devices such as smartphones and tablets at bedtime more than doubles the risk of poor sleep in children.
Previous research suggests that 72 percent of children and 89 percent of adolescents have at least one device in their bedrooms and most are used near bedtime.
The speed at which these devices have developed — and their growing popularity among families — has outpaced research in this area, meaning that the impact on sleep is not well understood.
Researchers from Kings College, London reviewed 20 existing studies from four continents, involving more than 125,000 children aged six to 19 (with an average age of 15).
Their findings appear in JAMA Pediatrics.
Investigators discovered bedtime use of media devices was associated with an increased likelihood of inadequate sleep quantity, poor sleep quality, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

in bed.jpg
Bedtime use was classified as engagement with a device within 90 minutes of going to sleep.
They also found that the presence of a media device in the bedroom, even without use, was associated with an increased likelihood of poor sleep.
One potential reason for this is that the “always on” nature of social media and instant messaging means children are continuously engaged with devices in their environment, even when they are not actively using them.
It is thought that screen-based media devices adversely affect sleep through a variety of ways, including delaying or interrupting sleep time; psychologically stimulating the brain; and affecting sleep cycles, physiology, and alertness.
Sleep disturbance in childhood is known to have adverse effects on health, including poor diet, obesity, sedative behavior, reduced immune function, and stunted growth, as well as links with mental health issues.
Dr. Ben Carter from King’s College London, said, “Our study provides further proof of the detrimental effect of media devices on both sleep duration and quality.
“Sleep is an often undervalued but important part of children’s development, with a regular lack of sleep causing a variety of health problems. With the ever-growing popularity of portable media devices and their use in schools as a replacement for textbooks, the problem of poor sleep amongst children is likely to get worse.
“Our findings suggest that an integrated approach involving parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals is necessary to reduce access to these devices and encourage good sleeping habits near bedtime.”

 

Source

Diwali Festival

greetings-1

Diwali is the most significant religious festival among Hindus. Diwali, which is also known as Deepavali, is also known as the festival of lights. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil and hope over despair. At most places Diwali is celebrated for five days.

Diwali Origin and Significance
Diwali is historically a Hindu religion festival having its origin in the Era of Lord Rama or probably even before that at the time of churning of milky ocean when Goddess Lakshmi came out as the boon to the Gods and whole humanity.

Hinduism, being the oldest religion whose history goes back to thousands of years, it is not surprising that numerous legends are associated with Diwali. However all of them signify the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil and hope over despair.

Etymology 

Diwali (English pronunciation: /dᵻˈwɑːliː/)[4] or Sanskrit dīpāvali means “series of lights”,[23] and is derived from दीप dīpa “light, lamp”[24][25] and आवलि āvali “series, line, row”.[26] Diwali is also known as दीपोत्सव dīpotsava “festival of lights”.

The holiday is known as dīpavaḷi in Kannada: ದೀಪಾವಳಿ, Malayalam: ദീപാവലി, and Telugu: దీపావళి, dipawoli in Assamese: দীপাৱলী, dipaboli or dipali in Bengali: দীপাবলি/দীপালি, dipābali in Odia: ଦିପାବଳୀ, divālī in Hindi: दिवाली, dīvālī in Punjabi: ਦੀਵਾਲੀ, divāḷi in Gujarati: દિવાળી, Marathi: दिवाळी, and Konkani: दिवाळी, diyārī in Sindhi: दियारी‎, tīpāvaḷi in Tamil: தீபாவளி, Galungan in Balinese and Swanti in Nepali: स्वन्ति or tihar in Nepali: तिहार.

Diwali Deity(s)
Various deities are worshipped and appeased during five days Diwali festivity. However Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesha, Lord Kuber are the most prominent names which come to the mind when Diwali Puja is mentioned.

Lord Yamraj, God Dhanvantari, God Hanuman, Goddess Kali, Goddess Saraswati, Lord Krishna and Demon King Bali are other prominent deities who are worshipped during Diwali.

Diwali Date and Time
As per Amanta Hindu Calendar, five days Diwali festivity spans over two months.
Diwali begins – Krishna Paksha Trayodashi (28th day) of Ashwin (7th month)
Diwali ends – Shukla Paksha Dwitiya (2nd day) of Kartik (8th month)

As per Purnimanta Calendar
Diwali begins – Krishna Paksha Trayodashi (13th day) of Kartik (8th month)
Diwali ends – Shukla Paksha Dwitiya (17th day) of Kartik (8th month)

Diwali is celebrated as per luni-solar based Hindu calendar, its date(s) varies on Gregorian calendar and usually falls in mid-October and mid-November. Diwali Calendar lists all five days of Diwali festivities for 1000 years.

Diwali Festivals List
Day 1 – Dhantrayodashi
Day 2 – Narak Chaturdashi
Day 3 – Lakshmi Puja
Day 4 – Govardhan Puja
Day 5 – Bhaiya Dooj

frame-2
The third day of Lakshmi Puja is the most important day of five days festivities and most of the times this day is referred as Diwali Puja itself. Apart from above five festivals, the most famous festivals for which Diwali is known, Diwali Calendar lists several other festivals which are celebrated during 5 days Diwali festivities.

Diwali Observance
Numerous rituals are followed during Diwali. These rituals vary from state to state and within a state region to region. However,
cleaning and decorating homes usually by giving new whitewash or fresh paints,
buying new clothes and jewelry,
buying new household items either big or small,
preparing traditional home-made sweets,
worshipping numerous deities,
lighting Diya(s) and decorating home with blinking electric lamps,
bursting firecrackers,
trying Diwali remedies to gain wealth,
visiting relatives and family friends,
distributing sweets, dry-fruits and gifts,
calling distant family members, relatives and friends to exchange Diwali wishes are the most common activities during Diwali.
Diwali Regional Variance
Diwali celebrations are more extravagant in north Indian states. In South India like Holi, Diwali is a not as spectacular as that of North India. If one wants to enjoy spectacular fire-work at night then Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai are the most suitable metros to be in during Diwali.

Diwali celebrations are moderate in Chennai and Kolkata. In Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Narak Chaturdashi is more significant than Lakshmi Puja and in Kolkata, West Bengal, devotees worship Goddess Kali rather than Goddess Lakshmi on the third day of Diwali.

Diwali Public Life
Most of the public places function as normal during Diwali. On the eve of Diwali most restaurants, pubs, metro trains, buses, taxies, cinema halls and shops, emergency and critical services at hospitals function as normal. However, at most commercial places more than half of the staff would be on leave.

As most businessmen perform Chopda Puja and Lakshmi Puja on the day of Diwali, most shops and private offices are open due to this reason. Stock Exchanges in India, although being closed due to Diwali holiday, are opened only for an hour for Muhurat trading in the evening. Muhurat trading is a symbolic ritual which is considered auspicious among traders and getting performed for years now.

For most big and small businesses Diwali, like Christmas in western countries, is the peak season when maximum sales are record. Many Bollywood blockbusters are planned and released during Diwali.

However Diwali, being marked as Gazette Holidays, all government offices and closed. Most schools and colleges are closed during Diwali.

In recently years, in most metros, time limit has been imposed for displaying and bursting the firework to curtail the noise pollution and for those who want to sleep peacefully on the night of Diwali. At most places either 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. time limit is imposed for bursting the firework.

Diwali in other Religions
Diwali is historically a Hindu religion festival having its origin in the Era of Lord Rama or probably even before that. However, Diwali is also celebrated in Sikhism and Jainism but for separate reasons. Sikh celebrates Diwali as Bandi Chhor Divas and Jain celebrates it as a day to commemorate Mahavir.

Source 1

Source 2

 

Difference Between Eagle and Hawk

versus
Difference Between Eagle and Hawk
It’s hard to admit it but many are really confused about the real difference between an eagle and a hawk. People around the world just identify any huge flying bird to what they are accustomed in calling them. Nevertheless, if there is a popularity contest, the eagle will surely win by a landslide as more people know about the term eagle compared to the hawk. But little did these individuals know that there really are some differences between the two, it’s just difficult to pinpoint the disparity by just taking a glimpse of these birds at a far distance.

Eagles and hawks are raptors (birds of prey) that belong to the family Accipitridae. There are around 60 species of eagles and more than 250 species of hawks that can be found on all continents except on the Antarctica. Eagles and hawks inhabit forests, grasslands, alpine meadows, tundra, deserts, sea coasts, suburban and urban areas. Both eagles and hawks are diurnal birds (active during the day). They hunt and eat different types of animals. Despite many common features, eagles and hawks can be differentiated from each other by:

quick-difference

 

definitions-of-hawk-n-eagle

 

Body Size and Morphology
Eagles are usually larger that hawks. Typical eagle weighs 18 pounds, while large species of hawks rarely exceed weight of 8 pounds. Red-tailed hawk is an exception. It is much bigger than the Australian little eagle (species of small eagle). Eagles are generally stronger. They have heavily-built, muscular body, hooked beak, curved talons and very strong legs. Their hind talon is especially strong and well-developed to facilitate gripping and transport of heavy prey. Hawks have curved beak and very sharp talons. Legs of both eagles and hawks are at least partially covered with feathers.
Wingspan
Eagles have a wingspan of 8 feet, while most hawks have a wingspan of less than 5 feet. Hawks can soar for long period of time thanks to their long, broad wings and wide tail.
Color of the Body and Beak
Eagles are usually covered with golden, blackish-gray and brown feathers and have yellowish or light-colored beak. Hawks often have grey or reddish-brown plumage on the back and white feathers on the chest and belly. Their beak is dark-colored.
Hunting Technique
Both eagles and hawks have keen eyesight which facilitates detection of food. Eagles fly and hunt their prey in the air and carry it in the claws to the nearest perch where they will tear it apart and eat. Hawks often hide in the trees until potential prey appears. Once the prey is detected, hawks rapidly leave their perches and attack by using the element of surprise.
Diet
Eagles hunt larger prey such as snakes, medium-sized vertebrates and mammals and other birds. Sea eagles hunt fish and marine creatures. Hawks hunt and eat rats, mice, gophers, rabbits and large insects. They do not consume fish.
Sound
Eagles produce subtle screams, while hawks produce high-pitched screeching noise.
Eggs
Most species of eagles lay 2 eggs in the nest located in the tall trees or on the cliffs. Older chick often kills its sibling to ensure more food for itself. Hawks lay 2 to 7 eggs in the nest on the cliffs, hills, trees or occasionally on the ground. Both parents take care and provide food for their chicks.

Source 1
Source 2

If You Are A Nail Biter You Probably Have This Personality Trait

If You Are A Nail Biter You Probably Have This Personality Trait

Ever wondered exactly why we bite our nails and why it is so darn hard to make it STAHPPP?

Well, researchers from the University of Montreal now have the answers as to why and apparently it’s related to our personalities.

The experiment, which sampled 48 nail biting obsessed peeps revealed that nail biting is more likely to occur in ordinary situations rather than stressful ones. Who would have known…

Dr. Kieron O’Connor, the main author of the study stated, “We believe that individuals with these repetitive behaviours may be perfectionistic, meaning that they are unable to relax and to perform task at a ‘normal’ pace.”

Sounds about right don’t it? No wonder why we bite them so much whilst at work! Just trying to be perfect and all.

5 Little-Known Risks to Biting Your Nails

Nail biting may actually be harmful to you beyond the emotional effects. For instance…

1. Disease-Causing Bacteria

Your nails are an ideal location for bacteria to thrive, and that includes potentially pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli (which would love to call the underside of your nail tips home).

As you bite your nails, those bacteria easily transfer into your mouth and the rest of your body, where they may lead to infections. Your fingernails may actually be twice as dirty as your fingers,2 considering they’re difficult to keep clean, making this a prime point of transfer for infectious organisms.

Although I’m not aware of any research on this, it’s often suggested (anecdotally) that people who bite their nails have stronger immune systems, and therefore get sick less often, than those who do not.

One potential explanation for this is that nail biting may help introduce pathogens from your environment to your immune system, helping it to learn and build defenses, similar to what occurs when people eat their boogers.

2. Nail Infections

Nail biters are susceptible to paronychia, a skin infection that occurs around your nails. As you chew your nails, bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms can enter through tiny tears or abrasions, leading to swelling, redness, and pus around your nail.

This painful condition may have to be drained surgically. Bacterial infections caused by nail biting are actually one of the most common nail problems, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).3

3. Warts Due to HPV Infections

Warts on your fingers caused by human papillomavirus, or HPV, are common among chronic nail biters. (Here I’m referring to the types of HPV that cause warts on your hands, as opposed to those that lead to genital warts and, rarely, cervical cancer.) These warts can easily spread to your mouth and lips as you bite your nails.

4. Dental Problems

Nail biting can interfere with proper dental occlusion, or the manner in which your upper and lower teeth come together when you close your mouth.

Your teeth may shift out of their proper position, become misshapen, wear down prematurely, and become weakened if you bite your nails over time. The Academy of General Dentistry estimates that frequent nail biters may rack up $4,000 in additional dental bills over the course of their lifetime.4

5. Impaired Quality of Life

A study published this year found that people who chronically bite their nails report significantly higher quality of life impairment than those who do not.5

The level of impairment rises with time spent on nail biting, the number of involved fingernails and those who report visible nail abnormalities. Tension when trying to resist nail biting, suffering due to nail biting or nail-eating behavior also negatively influenced quality of life.

Is Nail Biting a Mental Disorder?

In 2012, the American Psychiatric Association decided to re-classify nail biting as a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), along with other forms of “pathological grooming.”

If nail biting is taken to the extreme that it is significantly interfering with your life and causing you extreme emotional and physical pain, you could, perhaps, make a case for a psychiatric-disorder connection, but in the majority of cases this appears to be another case of disease mongering to sell more psychiatric drugs.

As reported in the journal Behavior Research and Therapy, most cases of nail biting in young adults does not appear to be the result of a psychiatric disorder but rather simple boredom or stress:

“Nail biting in young adults occurs as a result of boredom or working on difficult problems, which may reflect a particular emotional state. It occurs least often when people are engaged in social interaction or when they are reprimanded for the behavior.”

tips-biting

Credit: Womens health.com and Dr Mercola articles