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Sweet potato leaves a good source of vitamins
Study confirms leaves of sweet potato plants contain significant levels of vitamin B6, other water-soluble vitamins
Louisiana State University, January 15, 2023
Sweetpotato is known to be a good source of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and certain B vitamins that are considered essential to human health. Besides the commonly consumed root of the plant, certain tissues in sweetpotato are also edible and high in nutritional value. Although studies have confirmed that water-soluble vitamins exist in sweetpotato roots and leaves, there has been limited information about how these vitamins are actually distributed in the plants. Wilmer Barrera and David Picha from Louisiana State University Agricultural Center published a research study in HortScience that shows that mature and young leaves of sweetpotato can provide significant amounts of vitamin B6 and other essential vitamins.
“The objective of the study was to determine the ascorbic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin B6 content in a wide range of edible tissues of ‘Beauregard’ and ‘LA 07-146’ sweetpotatoes. The scientists analyzed a variety of sweetpotato tissue types (mature leaves, young leaves, young petioles, buds, vine sections, and root tissue) from a sweetpotato plot at Louisiana State University in late October and again the following September. They conducted a third experiment to study water-soluble vitamin content among different sweetpotato root tissues.
Analyses revealed differences in total ascorbic acid (AA) content among tissue types. Young leaves contained the highest AA content, followed by mature leaves and buds. Buds also contained significantly higher AA content than sweetpotato roots, vines, and petiole tissues. “These results confirm previous studies that sweetpotato foliar tissues are a good source of ascorbic acid, and that young leaves have the highest foliar AA content,” the scientists noted. The experiments showed no presence of thiamin in foliar tissues, a finding the authors say differs from previous studies. “The lack of thiamin in our results might be explained by cultivar differences,” they explained.
Results also showed that riboflavin content differed with sweetpotato tissue type, but was consistently higher in the leaves; mature leaves contained higher amounts of riboflavin than young leaves and other plant tissues, including roots. “Leaf tissue also contained higher total vitamin B6 content compared with other tissues. Mature leaves contained 3.4 times higher vitamin B6 than roots, whereas mature petioles contained 2.3 times more than roots,” the authors said. “Bud tissue and young leaves also contained higher B6 levels than roots, whereas the vine and young petiole tissue contents were lower than roots.”
Barrera and Picha concluded that ascorbic acid, riboflavin, and vitamin B6 contents were higher in leaf tissue than in other tissue types. “Our results indicate that mature and young leaves of sweetpotato could provide significant amounts of vitamin B6 to the human diet,” they said. They noted that the vitamin B6 content in sweetpotato leaves compares well with fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, avocados, carrots, bananas, and cauliflower.
Strawberries and blueberries may cut heart attack risk in women
University of East Anglia (UK), January 14, 2023
Eating three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries per week may help women reduce their risk of a heart attack by one-third – according to research from the University of East Anglia in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health. These berries contain high levels of powerful bioactive compounds called anthocyanins, which are a sub-group of dietary flavonoids.
Research published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association shows that these anthocyanins may help dilate arteries, counter the build-up of plaque and provide other cardiovascular benefits. Scientists from UEA’s Norwich Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health (US) studied 93,600 women aged between 25 and 42 who were registered with the Nurses’ Health Study II. The women completed questionnaires about their diet every four years for 18 years. During the study, 405 heart attacks occurred. Women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries had a 32 per cent reduction in their risk of having a heart attack compared to women who ate the berries once a month or less – even in women who otherwise ate a diet rich in other fruits and vegetables.
The study was lead by Prof Aedín Cassidy – head of the Department of Nutrition at UEA. She said: “We have shown that even at an early age, eating more of these fruits may reduce risk of a heart attack later in life. This is the first study to look at the impact of diet in younger and middle-aged women.
“Blueberries and strawberries contain high levels of compounds that have cardiovascular benefits, and our study shows that women who ate at least three servings per week had fewer heart attacks. “
Senior author and associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard, Eric Rimm, added: “Blueberries and strawberries can easily be incorporated into what women eat every week. This simple dietary change could have a significant impact on prevention efforts.”
Mother’s health, diet during pregnancy may impact child’s later neurodevelopment
University of Turku (Finland), January 20, 2023
Maternal gestational diabetes mellitus may have unfavorable effects on the neurodevelopment of 2-year-old children. On the other hand, a mother’s healthy, comprehensive diet supports the child’s neurodevelopment, reveals a new study conducted at the University of Turku.
Mother’s health and lifestyle during pregnancy are important regulators of the child’s neurodevelopment. The mother-child study conducted at the University of Turku and Turku University Hospital in Finland examined how maternal gestational diabetes, obesity and diet during pregnancy affect the neurodevelopment of 2-year-old children.
The research project examined the development of children’s cognitive, language and motor skills. Maternal adiposity was determined by air displacement plethysmography, and gestational diabetes with an oral glucose tolerance test. Dietary intake during pregnancy was assessed with diet quality index and fish consumption questionnaires.
“On average, child neurodevelopment in our data was in the normal range. Our research results showed that 2-year-old children whose mothers had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes had poorer language skills than children whose mothers had not been diagnosed with gestational diabetes,” says Doctoral Researcher Lotta Saros from the Institute of Biomedicine at the University of Turku.
In addition, the study discovered that higher maternal body fat percentage was associated with weaker cognitive, language and motor skills in children.
Gestational diabetes and obesity, high body fat mass in particular, have unfavorable effects on the mother’s metabolism and increase inflammation in the body. In fact, these are the likely mechanisms through which the detrimental factors impact the child’s neurodevelopment.
The study also revealed that better dietary quality of the mother’s diet was associated with better language development of the child. A similar finding was also discovered between mother’s fish consumption and child’s neurodevelopment.
The results indicate towards the same conclusion that a good-quality diet contains unsaturated fatty acids that are found, for example, in fish. Soft, unsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, promote the neurodevelopment of children.
Midlife moderate and vigorous physical activity levels associated with brain power
University College London, January 23, 2023
The amount of time spent in moderate and vigorous physical activity every day is linked to midlife brain power, indicates research published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
This intensity level seems to be the best for working memory and mental processes, such as planning and organization, and replacing it with just 6-7 minutes of light intensity activity or sedentary behavior every day is associated with poorer cognitive performance, the findings indicate.
Previously published studies link daily moderate and vigorous physical activity(MVPA) to health, but few have included time spent asleep, which makes up the largest component of any 24 hour period, say the researchers. They therefore adopted a compositional approach to discern whether MVPA relative to all other daily movement behaviors might be best for midlife cognitive performance.
Analysis of the activity tracker data showed that participants clocked up an average of 51 minutes of MVPA, 5 hours 42 minutes of light intensity physical activity, 9 hours 16 minutes of sedentary behaviors, and 8 hours 11 minutes of sleep over a 24 hour period.
Time spent in MVPA relative to other types of behavior was positively associated with cognitive performance after adjusting for educational attainment and workplace physical activity. But additional adjustment for health issues weakened these associations.
Sedentary behavior relative to sleep and light physical intensity activity was also positively associated with cognitive performance, a trend that likely reflects greater engagement in cognitively stimulating activities such as reading or working rather than any apparent benefit from watching TV, note the researchers.
The associations were stronger for executive function than they were for memory.
Individuals’ cognition showed a 1.31% improvement in cognition ranking compared to the sample average improvement after as little as 9 minutes of sedentary activities with more vigorous activities—a positive trend that became far more substantive with much greater reductions in sedentary activities.
Similarly, there was a 1.27% improvement from replacing gentle activities or 1.2% from replacing 7 minutes of sleep. Such improvements showed further improvement with greater exchanges of time.
Sedentary behavior was also favorable for cognition score, but only after substituting it for 37 minutes of light intensity physical activity or 56 minutes of sleep.
Participants began theoretically declining in their cognition ranking within the study sample by 1-2% after just 8 minutes of more vigorous activity was replaced by sedentary activities. Ranking continued to decline with greater declines in MVPA.
Similarly, replacing vigorous activities with 6 minutes of light intensity physical activity or 7 minutes of sleep was linked with similar falls of 1-2% in cognition ranking, again worsening for greater losses of MVPA.
“MVPA is typically the smallest proportion of the day in real terms, and the most difficult intensity to acquire. Perhaps partly for this reason, loss of any MVPA time whatsoever appeared detrimental, even within this relatively active cohort,” they explain.
Study Suggests That Spirituality Is Key To Kids’ Happiness
University of British Columbia, January 13, 2023
A professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and his colleagues have conducted a study which suggests that spirituality is key to children’s happiness. Over the past few years, scientists have been able to measure the effect of positive emotions and feelings of joy within our biology, so it is key to find out what best produces these feelings within us.
Just to be clear, they define spirituality as internal characteristics; an inner belief system that a person relies on for strength and comfort. Understanding happiness has been subjected to large amounts of research for a number of years. This particular one suggests that the processes that influence happiness are not guided by external factors, but by internal characteristics and qualities.
320 children aged 8-12 were assessed to examine the relationship between spirituality and happiness, from both public and private schools. The study concluded that children’s spirituality, not their religious practices (e.g., attending church, praying, and meditating), was strongly linked to their happiness. The results parallel studies of adult happiness and suggest strategies to enhance happiness in children.
The authors found that the children who said they were more spiritual were happier. In particular, the personal (i.e. meaning and value in one’s own life) and communal (i.e. quality and depth of inter-personal relationships) aspects of spirituality were strong predictors of children’s happiness. Spirituality explained up to 27 percent of the differences in happiness levels among children.
Researchers have identified many ways in which spirituality enhances and promotes subjective well-being. One of these ways of enhancing well-being is to increase personal meaning in one’s life. Spirituality may produce a sense of meaning that is worth living or dying for.
If spirituality enhances happiness by increasing personal meaning, this may suggest strategies to enhance happiness. For example, strategies aimed at enhancing personal meaning in children’s lives may promote happiness. Future studies could have children engage in activities that might promote personal meaning. For example, children might volunteer to help others or record their contributions to the community in a journal. Then changes in happiness and personal meaning before and after these activities could be compared. If personal meaning is critical to happiness, one might see that these activities particularly enhances happiness for those children who showed increases in personal meaning.
Again, spirituality is not just another ‘thing’ to latch on to, in the context of this article it refers to an inner belief system that a person relies on for strength and comfort.
It’s a process of great transformation, awakening and realization. It’s a path towards true fulfillment. It forces one to look within themselves for a feeling they could once only receive temporarily, from ‘things’ outside of themselves. It also forces one to create a new experience, one that can provide a better experience, one that resonates more with our internal being.
Constantly looking for happiness and fulfillment outside of ourselves, or having a certain external criteria for achieving a state of happiness keeps us in a cycle of depression and sadness because these things can never provide us with real feelings of fulfillment and joy. We are always feeling that something is lacking, and that we need to acquire something to make it better. Sure, they may provide something temporary, but in order to vibe in the energetic frequency of joy more often you will have to find it within yourself, something many of us continue to do, and something that is not easy.
Vitamin D Deficiency Is Associated With Endothelial Dysfunction
National Institutes of Health, January 12, 2023
Researchers from National Institutes of Health Report Findings in Vitamin D Deficiency (Vitamin D Deficiency Is Associated With Endothelial Dysfunction and Increases Type I Interferon Gene Expression in a Murine Model of Systemic Lupus …)
A new study on Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases and Conditions – Vitamin D Deficiency is now available. According to news reporting research stated, “Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and impaired endothelial repair. Although vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased CVD risk in the general population, a causal relationship has not been demonstrated.”
Our news editors obtained a quote from the research from the National Institutes of Health, “We aimed to determine whether vitamin D deficiency directly modulates endothelial dysfunction and immune responses in a murine model of SLE. Vitamin D deficiency was induced in lupus-prone MRL/lpr mice by dietary restriction for 6 weeks. Endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation was quantified using aortic ring myography, and endothelial repair mechanisms were assessed by evaluating the phenotype and function of bone marrow endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) and with the use of an in vivo Matrigel plug model. Lupus disease activity was determined by evaluating expression of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) in splenic tissue, positivity for serum autoantibodies, and renal histology. To validate the findings, expression of ISGs was also measured in whole blood from vitamin D-deficient and vitamin D-sufficient patients with SLE. Vitamin D deficiency resulted in impaired endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation and decreases in neoangiogenesis without a change in the total number of EPCs. There were no differences in anti-double-stranded DNA titers, proteinuria, or glomerulonephritis (activity or chronicity) between vitamin D-deficient or sufficient mice. Vitamin D deficiency was associated with a trend toward increased ISG expression both in mice and in patients with SLE.”
According to the news editors, the research concluded: “These findings indicate that vitamin D deficiency is associated with hampered vascular repair and reduced endothelial function, and may modulate type I interferon responses.”