Can Scientists Really Get Rid of Your Sweet Tooth?

cake-pops-693645_960_720If you have a sweet tooth – there might be hope yet. A new study from the University of Iowa has shown that a hormone produced by the liver can actually suppress our desire for sugar. The hormone is called fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) and is produced in the liver when there are high carbohydrate levels there. It will then enter the bloodstream and send a signal to the brain to suppress sugar cravings.

As the study co-author Dr Matthew Potthoff said, “This is the first liver-derived hormone we know that regulates sugar intake specifically.” As the co-author Lucas BonDurant said, “We’ve known for a while that FGF21 can enhance insulin sensitivity. Now, there’s this dimension where FGF21 can help people who may not be able to sense when they’ve had enough sugar, which may contribute to diabetes.”

Certainly, the scientists said that they need further research to identify the neural pathways that regulate FGF21’s ability to manage macronutrient preference.

As Dr Potthoff explained, “In addition to identifying these neural pathways, we would like to see if additional hormones exist to regulate appetite for specific macronutrients like fat and protein, comparable to the effects of FGF21 on carbohydrate intake. If so, how do those signals intertwine to regulate the neural sensing of different macronutrients?”

Get more details about the study here.

Deck The Halls with…Sugar?

coffee-770272__180You’re doing your holiday shopping or you’re just out enjoying, and you decide to treat yourself to a coffee. Sounds healthy enough, right? But you might not be able to believe just how much sugar is hidden in many of these coffee drinks today. A recent video from Denplan shows the shocking amount of sugar in many of these drinks.

A caramel fudge hot chocolate has 24 teaspoons of sugar and an eggnog latte has 17 teaspoons. A sticky toffee latte has 18 teaspoons of sugar.

As Henry Clover, Deputy Chief Dental Officer at Denplan said: “While most people will probably be aware that their festive drink contains some levels of sugar, they might not be aware of the sheer quantity. Many of the festive coffees, lattes and hot chocolates that we looked at…on average, around 12 to 18 teaspoons of sugar in their largest portion sizes. One caramel fudge hot chocolate from a popular coffee chain even contained a shocking 24 teaspoons of sugar – that’s the equivalent to around two and a half cans of cola.”

For healthier options select tea (without sugar) over coffee, get a plain coffee, or ask for a latte with sugar-free syrup.

This chart shows you the shocking numbers in black and white.

Amazon Says Goodbye Blue Light

ipad-632512_960_720Apparently, many hand-held devices emit blue light that can ruin your internal inner clock. This is true with television screens, laptops and smartphones. Amazon has gotten smart and has just started to roll out a feature called “blue shade” on its Kindle Fire tablets. This feature limits the amount of blue light that gets to the eye and can be turned on and off with a tap.
The Blue Shade will be available for Amazon’s company’s Fire HD 10, Fire HD 8 and Fire tablets as part of a free software update.

The way that it works is as the sun sets and the evening comes, the apps replace the blue overlay with red. As Andy Bett’s indepth report at makeusof.com explains, “Even if you’re skeptical about it improving your sleep, you will immediately notice a reduction in eye strain when using your phone in a dimly lit room.”

Interestingly, scientists at both Penn State and Harvard have found that people who regularly use e-readers before going to bed sleep less hours than do others. They take ten minutes longer than other people to fall asleep after using their devices and their sleep is worse.

The Neuroscientist Dr Anne-Marie Chang, whose research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said that the use of screens has an “extremely powerful effect” on the body’s natural sleep pattern.

Some are skeptical, however, of the power of color on the screen. Vincent Gualino, a French ophthalmologist, for instance, warns that the real problem is how much time we spend on our screens – not what color we are using.

Best Travel Destinations for 2015

cuba-201357_960_720Skyscanner, the global travel search engine, has released its predictions of the destinations to watch for this coming year. The data included the analysis of millions of Skyscanner flight searches for the last three years in the UK, looking at the locations that had increased in interest the most dramatically.

The winner is Ponta Delgada in Portugal where the interest has increased 63% in recent years. Havana was the second one with a 33% increase in interest, while Tokyo came in number three with a 25% increase. Copenhagen was the fourth with a 21% increase and Cape Verde was number five with a 14% increase.

Cat McGloin, the Skyscanner travel editor, said “With 50 million searches to the site every month from all over the world, our search data gives us some really robust insight in to these trends. It’s interesting to see how people’s travel interests are changing and what these destinations are offering to become even more appealing.”