Scanning the brains of 20 male medical students preparing for their board exams,an American research team has found that stress disrupts human thinking.
Bruce S McEwen,head of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology at The Rockefeller University,revealed that the stressed students had a harder time shifting their attention from one task to another than other healthy young men who were not under the gun.
The researcher,who worked on the project with colleagues at Weill Cornell Medical College,says that the current study builds on a previous one that showed that stressed rats foraging for food had similar impairments,and that those problems resulted from stress-induced changes in their brain anatomy.
Writing about their work in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,the researchers revealed that they used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the stressed students? brains.
They said that their study was a robust example of how basic research in an animal model could lead to high-tech investigations of the human brain.
?It?s a great translational story. The research in the rats led to the imaging work on people,and the results matched up remarkably well,? says McEwen.
The study also revealed that the stressed brain recuperates quickly. It showed that less than a month after the stress goes away,the brains were back to normal.
?The message is that healthy brains are remarkably resilient and plastic,? McEwen said.
During the study,the researchers scanned the brains of volunteers,some stressed and others relatively relaxed,performing two subtly different kinds of mental tasks,either an attention-shift or a response-reversal.
Lying inside the scanner,the subjects looked at two discs: one red and one green,with one moving up and the other down.
While undergoing a series of trials,the subjects were prompted to choose a disc according to motion or colour.
By ordering when the subjects did which tasks,they challenged their volunteers? brains to either switch focus from colour to motion,or to suddenly reverse their choice of a disc in the same category.
A previous collaborative study on rats has already shown that repeated stress on the animals shrivelled nerve cells of the medial prefrontal cortex,and that a shrunken prefrontal cortex is linked to slower performance on attention-shifting tasks.
Liston,working with BJ Casey at the Sackler Institute at Weill Cornell,has revealed that male med students who said they were stressed out one month before they were to take their boards fared much worse on attention-shifting tasks than similar healthy adults who claimed to be taking it easy.
Finally,when Liston scanned the students again one month after the test,he discovered that their attention-shifting performance had returned to normal along with their brains.
Expressing surprise at the uncanny similarities,Liston said: ?I certainly don?t want to say that rat brains are just like human brains. But it does show that you can use research in animal models to help interpret human neuroimaging results.?
Liston next plans to investigate how stress impacts the rest of the brain,and whether or not there are differences in how the brains of men and women respond to stress.
?Stress is doing a whole lot of things in your brain that we don?t understand yet,but we know that it is intimately involved in a wide range of neuropsychiatric disorders,? Liston says.
A mechanistic understanding of stress could lead to insights into associated psychiatric problems,he says.
These Nutritious Breakfasts Can Give A Kick Start To Your Day: Do Try Them!
Breakfast is undoubtedly the most important meal of the day. It is the meal which kick-starts your metabolism and helps you burn calories throughout the day. Not only is it important for people who are trying to lose weight, it is simply important for a person to stay fit and healthy. Breakfast is the one meal which can give you the energy to do things and focus at your work and school. WebMD says that including breakfast in your diet can have positive effects on your memory and concentration.
Following are some breakfast options suggested by Delhi-based nutritionist Pooja Malhotra, which can give a boost your energy and also keep you warm during the chilly winter months.
Try these healthy breakfast options right now!
1. Stuffed rotis
Winter is the time when a variety of vegetables are in season. Stuffed rotis or paranthas made from methi (fenugreek), mooli (radish), gobi (cauliflower), matar (peas) or gajar (carrots) can all make for a delicious and wholesome winter breakfast. You can cook them with ghee (make sure you use it in the right quantity) and eat them with pickle and curd. Stuffed rotis are essentially the traditional Indian breakfast which people have been having for years. Prepare them as your grandmother used to prepare and enjoy them throughout winter.
2. Palak or beetroot roti with mint raita
Palak or spinach is a leafy geen veggie with more health benefits than you can count in your fingers. Similar is the case with beetroot, which is a root vegetable which is incredibly low in calories and is a great source of essential nutrients like fibre, folate and Vitamin C. Beetroot also contains nitrates and pigments which can help in controlling your blood pressure and may improve your overall athletic performance.
3. Egg parantha or scrambled eggs with chapati
Now that is a protein-rich breakfast which can help you keep full for longer. Prepare egg paranthas or eat scrambled eggs with roti for the perfect blend of protein, fat and carbs in your breakfast. Also, do not separate the yolk from egg white. A whole egg will provide you with all essential nutrients.
4. Bajra roti with beetroot raita/bajra khichdi
Bajra is a healthy grain which can be included a weight loss diet as well. You can either make a dough of bajra flour or prepare bajra khichdi as a healthy breakfast option. Bajra or millets has properties that can help in stabilising cholesterol levels in the body. Being rich in fibre, the grain is great for digestion and makes for a healthy breakfast option during winter.
(Pooja Malhotra is a nutritionist based in Delhi)
5 Super Healthy And Warm Drinks To Keep You Hydrated During Winter
Are the teas and coffees failing to keep you warm during the chilly winter? Then need not worry as we are right here with multiple options for warm and comforting drinks during winter. Warm drinking options are important to keep you hydrated during winter. Staying hydrated during summer seems to be way easier as cold and healthy drinks are aplenty. The easiest way to stay hydrated during summer is to simply gulp down a bottle of water. But in winter, the body is usually in need of something which keeps us warm and on-the-go. Keep reading if you want some alternative warm drinks instead of sipping on a third our fourth cup of coffee.
Drinks to keep you warm and hydrated during winter
Well, this is nothing but our very own haldi doodh. It is the traditional drink which is taken when a person is suffering from cold or fever. It is a healing drink which can naturally detox your body and even strengthen your bones.
Ginger, honey, lemon tea:
Yes, this is another traditional drink which can be taken in warm form as well. You can create a tea concoction by adding ginger, honey and lemon to water and bring to a boil. It can make for a refreshing and warming drink during the chilly winter months.
Hot mulled cider:
All you need to do is add cardamom, peppercorns, star anise, ginger, lemon and cloves to apple cider vinegar. Add a tinge of all these ingredients in a cup of ACV and heat it in low flame. The drink is going to make for a flavourful companion to you and your favourite book by the fireplace.
Vegetable/chicken/bone broth or soup:
Soups or broths are filling and extremely warming during the cold winter months. You can either prepare steaming hot vegetable soup or broth or chicken soup or bone breath. Broths and soups are fluids which can help you hydrated during winter while also boosting your immunity and protecting your from catching a cold or infection. Just make sure that their preparation is light and healthy.
Now this is a toasty treat you all have been craving! All you need is some warm milk, cinnamon, vanilla and some almonds. This velvety winter drink is going to be your all time favourite! What’s more is that you can prepare it beforehand and have it when you’re ready for a warm treat for yourself.
Fasting can improve overall health, study suggests
Fasting influences the circadian clock and fasting-driven cellular responses, which together work to achieve fasting-specific temporal gene regulation.
Fasting can lead to improved health and provide protection against ageing-associated diseases, a recent study suggests.
According to the research, fasting affects circadian clocks in the liver and skeletal muscle, causing them to rewire their metabolism, which can ultimately lead to improved health and protection against ageing-associated diseases. The study was published recently in Cell Reports.
The circadian clock operates within the body and its organs as intrinsic time-keeping machinery to preserve homeostasis in response to the changing environment. And, while food is known to influence clocks in peripheral tissues, it was unclear, until now, how the lack of food influences clock function and ultimately affects the body.
“We discovered fasting influences the circadian clock and fasting-driven cellular responses, which together work to achieve fasting-specific temporal gene regulation,” said lead author Paolo Sassone-Corsi.
“Skeletal muscle, for example, appears to be twice as responsive to fasting as the liver,” Paolo asserted.
According to the researchers, fasting is able to essentially reprogram a variety of cellular responses. Therefore, optimal fasting in a timed manner would be strategic to positively affect cellular functions and ultimately benefiting health and protecting against ageing-associated diseases.