A Pill A Day Keeps the Racism Away

In an unusual study from Oxford University published in the journal Psychopharmacology, scientists appear to have isolated an unusual side-effect in a common heart disease drug – it minimizes racism.  Volunteers who took the beta-blocker appears, on a standard psychological test, to be less racist than did those who were given the placebo.

Goodbye Racism

The racism the test looked at was racism at an “implicit” level and what the scientists believe they are showing is that much of racism is based on fear and emotional responses.  Beta blockers suppress fear and can also be used to treat anxiety and panic.  Experimental psychologist Dr. Sylvia Terbeck from Oxford University said, “We wanted to study the neurobiology of prejudice. Our results offer new evidence about the processes in the brain that shape implicit racial bias.”

She continued,

“Implicit racial bias can occur even in people with a sincere belief in equality. Given the key role that such implicit attitudes appear to play in discrimination against other ethnic groups, and the widespread use of propranolol for medical purposes, our findings are also of considerable ethical interest.”

During the study, two groups of 18 white participants took a “racial Implicit Association Test” one or two hours after they took either the propranolol or the placebo.

The researchers discovered that it took placebo volunteers longer to associate pictures of black people with positive words than it took to associate white people’s faces with positive words.
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Professor Terbeck explained to the Mail Online that,

“We think this test reveals what a person feels. It looks at the automatic emotional attitude. We found those who took the placebo had a negative racial emotional bias.”

Creating Controversy

The results of the study have definitely stirred up controversy. Co-author Professor Julian Savulescu from the Oxford University’s Faculty of Philosophy said that the results raise the “tantalizing possibility that our unconscious racial attitudes could be modulated using drugs, a possibility that requires careful ethical analysis. However, Dr. Chris Chambers, from the University of Cardiff’s School of Psychology, countered that the results need to be viewed with a great deal of caution.

He said,

“We don’t know whether the drug influenced racial attitudes only or whether it altered implicit brain systems more generally. And we can’t rule out the possibility that the effects were due to the drug incidentally reducing heart rate. So although interesting, in my view these preliminary results are a long way from suggesting that propranolol specifically influences racial attitudes.”

Popchips Are Popping Up Everywhere


Now this might be worth sinking your teeth into or chomping on.  A new type of potato chip called Popchips has hit the market by storm.  Created by co-founder and CEO Keith Belling and co-founder and president Patrick Turpin, this product is transforming the world of potato chips.

As they explain on their website at Popchips.com,

"forget frying (unhealthy). forget baking (undelicious). the two snackers had found a way to pop a chip with all the flavor and a lot less of the stuff that gives snacking a bad name.  keith and pat spent over a year, snacking, popping, and snacking some more, until they came up with popchips, an  all-natural line of popped chips they loved to eat and did not have to hide. now they are doing their best to share the bag with snackers everywhere.”

The crispy creations only have 95 calories a bag – which is actually less calories than a piece of fruit.  They come in an array of flavors including barbeque, original and salt and vinegar.

They’ve been endorsed by the likes of trainers and diet personalities like Jillian Michaels and have received enormous amounts of press.

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As the owners describe their product,

“our all-natural pledge: no fake colors, no fake flavors, no preservatives, no fluorescent orange fingertips, and no wiping your greasy chip hand on your jeans. no, really. we only use ingredients you can feel good about eating. and we leave out the bad stuff, like hydrogenated oils and msg, that give snacking a bad name. because popchips have no preservatives, make sure to get a good chip clip after opening the bag to keep our popped chips fresh. or better yet, just eat them all at once.”

Get popping today and enjoy a refreshing new creation!


Giving Up Gluten?

What is gluten?  According to Dr. Sheila Crowe, Director of Research in the Division of Gastroenterology at the University of California, San Diego, it is a protein that is found in wheat.  Rye and barley have similar types of protein but they are not the same. 

The Rich and Famous Are Doing It

It appears that going off gluten is becoming popular with the stars as well. For example, Gwyneth Paltrow is not eating gluten which means she is avoiding pasta, bread, cookies and more.  It is often surprising to people just how often gluten appears in food – such as a huge variety of condiments. 

While some swear that avoiding this protein is great for your waistline since it is said to cause hormonal imbalances and thus increase cravings, others dismiss the notion.  Besides, cutting gluten out of the diet runs the risk of causing other deficiencies as well.

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Who Should Go Gluten-Free?

For sure if one is diagnosed as a celiac they immediately have to remove all traces of gluten from their diet.  Otherwise it is treated as a toxin and the body goes into attack mode, damaging the small intestine which can cause nausea, vomiting and severe abdominal pain, as well as headaches, neurological problems and skin rashes.  Currently about 1 percent of people are affected by this disease but since statistics show that rates are doubling every 15 years, it is definitely a matter that needs to be understood on a deeper level.  The reason that has been given for this epidemic is the new grains that are being grown in America which are richer in gluten.

Who Should Stay with Gluten?

If your physician has done tests to rule out gluten sensitivity and celiac, you shouldn’t give up gluten as you could miss out – unnecessarily – on vital nutrients like Vitamin B, fiber, iron and zinc. For those who want to lose weight, quitting gluten is not the answer as there has been no scientific evidence to prove that it helps.

17 ½ Hour Old Has Open Heart Surgery

The youngest baby to ever have open heart surgery was a mere 17-and-a-half hours old. The surgery took place a few months ago at Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, UK where parents Jo and James were warned their newborn baby daughter only had a 15 percent chance of survival. Beating the odds however, it now appears baby Jasmine Carr will be home by April 2012.

Baby Jasmine needed the surgery as, at a 20-week scan, it was found that she had hypoplastic left heart syndrome.  This is when one side of the heart doesn’t develop properly, so, at 37 weeks, they induced labor and Jasmine weighed in at 5 lb 13 oz with a heart that was only the size of a walnut.  During the 11-hour surgery, Dr. Asif Hasan re-plumbed the heart so that the right side could do the work of the left.  The day after, Jasmine suffered a cardiac arrest and for three months thereafter, was confined to intensive care.  But then, in mid-December, she moved to a high dependency ward and now doctors are confident she will make a complete recovery.

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She has now undergone further surgery in order to widen an artery.  In the next few months, it is hoped – and expected – she will be able to go home.  Jasmine breaks records since the youngest baby before her to undergo this surgery was 36-hour-old Rudy Maxwell-Jones who was operated on in July 2011.

Coffee and Type 2 Diabetes

Research has found that those who drink a lot of coffee have a reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.  According to a report in the ACS’ Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry compiled by Kun Huang, Ling Zheng et. al, those who drink at least four cups of coffee per day have a 50 percent lower risk of developing this debilitating disease (which accounts for up to 95 percent of cases of diabetes).  Perhaps even more interesting, each additional Cuppa Joe that is consumed per day brings with it a further 7 percent of reduced chance of being afflicted with Type 2 diabetes.

Coffee Composition

So what is it in coffee that is causing this preventive health benefit?  According to the study, it appears that one of the substances in the beverage is a potential hIAPP blocker.  hIAPP – human islet amyloid polypeptide – could be able to be blocked by a substance contained in coffee.  The researchers have identified two categories of compounds contained in coffee that “significantly inhibit hIAPP.”

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So keep the dark brown granules in your cup and throw over that boiling water without any guilt of coffee being bad for you.