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1. Finding Audrey, by Sophie Kinsella | Book Review

Sophie Kinsella is the bestselling author of The Shopaholic Series. Her hilarious style of writing will entrance readers of any age.

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2. Green Tea

green tea photo                                                                                                       Green Tea

फैशन ग़्रीन टी का है तो भई हम पीछे कैसे रह सकते हैं.. हमने भी खरीदी( हालाकि महंगी थी पर सेहत के बारे में कोई समझौता नही)  खरीदी  और सुबह सुबह पीनी शुरु कर दी. वैसे कुछ भी कहिए इसकी पैंकिग बहुत ही स्टाईलिश सी  होती है वाकई में ऐसा महसूस होता है कि हम कुछ शानदार पी रहे हैं

कुछ सहेलियों से बातचीत हो रही तो पता चला कि खाली पेट नही पीनी चाहिए नुकसान होता है एक सहेली ने बताया कि वो दिन में पांच बार पीती है और उसे अपना वजन कम लग रहा है.हालाकि ये बात उस ने बेहद गम्भीरता से की थी पर हम सभी के चेहरे पर स्माईल आ गई. बात तो उस समय हंसी मजाक मे उड गई पर मेरे मन में बैठ गई कि हरी चाय क्या है इसके बारे मे नेट पर ही सर्च करुगी …

हरी चाय यानि   ग्रीन टी एक प्रकार की चाय होती है, जो कैमेलिया साइनेन्सिस नामक पौधे की पत्तियों से बनायी जाती है। इसके बनाने की प्रक्रिया में ऑक्सीकरण न्यूनतम होता है। इसका उद्गम करीब ५००० वर्ष पूर्व चीन में हुआ था और आगे चलकर एशिया में जापान से मध्य-पूर्व की कई संस्कृतियों से संबंधित रही. चीन देश में ग्रीन टी की शुरुआत हुई थी|कहते हैं कि चाय के कोमल पत्ते को यदि पीया जाए तो इससे काफी लाभ होता है| ग्रीन टी भी इन्ही पत्तों से बनाई जाती है|

भारत हो या ऑस्ट्रेलिया दोनों देशों में चाय के कई शौकीन लोग देखने को मिलते हैं और वे इन दिनों सेहतमंद चाय की तरफ कदम बढाते नजर आ रहे हैं| पश्चिम ऑस्ट्रेलिया स्थित स्कूल ऑफ पब्लिक हेल्थ अध्यापक कोलिन बिन्स का कहना है कि ग्रीन टी की मांग पहले से काफी अधिक हो गई है| साथ ही यह सेहत की समस्याओं को काफी हद तक घटा देता है| इसकी मदद से स्टोक जैसी समस्याओं से छुटकारा पाने में मदद मिलती है|

प्रायः लोग ग्रीन टी के बारे में जानते हैं लेकिन इसकी उचित मात्र न ले पाने की वजह से उन्हें उनका पूरा लाभ नहीं मिल पाता है।

हरी चाय का फ्लेवर ताज़गी से भरपूर और हल्का होता है तथा स्वाद सामान्य चाय से अलग होता है। इसकी कुछ किस्में हल्की मिठास लिए होती है, जिसे पसंद के अनुसार दूध और शक्कर के साथ बनाया जा सकता है।[2] ग्रीन टी बनाने के लिए एक प्याले में २-४ ग्राम चाय पड़ती है। पानी को पूरी तरह उबलने के बाद २-३ मिनट के लिए छोड़ देते हैं। प्याले में रखी चाय पर गर्म पानी डालकर फिर तीन मिनट छोड़ दें। इसे कुछ देर और ठंडा होने पर सेवन करते हैं। विभिन्न ब्रांड के अनुसार एक दिन में दो से तीन कप ग्रीन टी लाभदायक होती है। इसका अर्थ है कि एक दिन में ३००-४०० मिलीग्राम ग्रीन टी पर्याप्त होती है।

Green Tea Can Also Be Harmful |

ज्यादातर लोग ग्रीन टी को सेहत के लिहाज से काफी फायदेमंद मानते हैं। इसलिए वे दिन भर में कई बार ग्रीन टी की चुस्कियां लेते रहते हैं। लेकिन क्या आप जानते हैं ग्रीन टी का ज्यादा सेवन सेहत के लिए नुकसानदेह हो सकता है। कई बार अच्छी चीजों को ज्यादा सेवन सेहत बिगाड़ सकता है। दिन भर में पांच से छह कप ग्रीन टी का सेवन परेशानियों को कारण बन सकता है। ग्रीन टी में कैफीन होता है इसलिए इसे ज्यादा पीने से स्लीपींग डिस्आडर्र की समस्या हो सकती है। ग्रीन टी वजन कम करने में सहायक मानी जाती है इसलिए लोगों को लगता है कि ग्रीन टी के ज्यादा पीने से उनका वजन जल्द से जल्द कम हो जाएगा जो कि पूरी तरह से गलत है। ग्रीन टी के ज्यादा सेवन से शरीर पर होने वाले दुष्प्रभावों के बारे में जानें।

ग्रीन टी में मौजूद कैफीन इससे होने वाले दुष्प्रभावों का कारण हो सकती है। हालांकि ग्रीन टी में ज्यादा मात्रा में कैफीन नहीं होता है लेकिन एक दिन में ज्यादा ग्रीन टी पीने से बैचेनी, हृदय गति में अनियमितता, अनिद्रा की समस्या, चिंता, चिड़चिड़ापन जैसे लक्षण देखेने को मिल सकते हैं। वे लोग जो कैफीन की ज्यादा मात्रा के आदी नहीं होते हैं उनमें ये लक्षण जल्दी देखे जा सकते हैं। ग्रीन टी की मात्रा कम करके आप इन लक्षणों से बच सकते हैं।

जब ग्रीन टी को ठीक तरह से गर्म पानी के साथ नहीं मिल पाती है तो पेट की समस्या हो सकती गै। ग्रीन टी बनाते समय यह ध्यान रखना चाहिए कि ग्रीन टी पानी बिल्कुल उबला हुआ नहीं होना चाहिए नहीं तो जब आप उस गर्म पानी में चाय डालते हैं तो इससे एसिडिटी हो सकती है जो कि पेट की गड़बड़ी व सीने में जलन का कारण बन सकती है।

ग्रीन टी आयरन को अवशोषित करता है जिससे शरीर में आयरन की कमी हो सकती है। इसलिए जो लोग एनिमीया के शिकार हैं उन्हें ग्रीन टी पीते समय सावधानी बरतनी चाहिए। इस प्रभाव से बचने के लिए आप चाहें तो खाने के बीच में ग्रीन टी ले सकते हैं या उसमें नींबू मिलाकर भी पी सकते हैं।

कुछ लोगों में ग्रीन टी ज्यादा पीने के कारण कुछ एलर्जी के लक्षण देखे जा सकते हैं। ये लक्षण कुछ इस प्रकार के हो सकते हैं जैसे सांस लेने में तलीफ, चेहरे, होंठ व जीभ में सूजन आना।

ग्रीन टी में कैफीन व टैनिक एसिड पाया जाता है जो गर्भावस्था में नुकसानदेह हो सकता है । इसलिए गर्भावस्था के शुरुआती दिनों में महिलाओं को ग्रीन टी पीने से बचना चाहिए क्योंकि इसे होने वाले शिशु को न्यूरल ट्यूब( मस्तिष्क व रीढ की हड्डी में) जन्म दोष होने की संभावना रहती है।

ग्रीन टी में ऑक्सेलिक एसिड प्रचुर मात्रा में पाया जाता है जो गुर्दे में पथरी का कारण हो सकता है। कैल्शियम, यूरिक एसिड व एमिनो एसिड काइस्टीन के साथ फॉस्फेट व ऑक्सेलिक एसिड के साथ संयोजन से गुर्दे की पथरी की समस्या होती है। See more…

Health Benefits of Green Tea In Hindi |

ग्रीन टी के लाभ के बारे में हम सब जानते हैं। एक शोध के मुताबिक रोजाना आठ कप ग्रीन टी हृदय रोग होने की आशंकाओं को कम करती है। इसके साथ ही यह कोलेस्ट्रॉल के स्‍तर को भी कम करती है। साथ ही ग्रीन टी शरीर पर जमा अतिरिक्‍त वसा को भी दूर करने में मदद करती है।

ग्रीन टी में विटामिन सी, पालीफिनोल्स के अलावा अन्य एंटीआक्सीडेंट मौजूद होते हैं, जो शरीर के फ्री रेडीकल्स को नष्ट कर इम्‍यून सिस्‍टम को मजबूत बनाते हैं। इससे शरीर में बीमारियां होने का खतरा कम होता है और शरीर रोग-मुक्‍त होता है।

ग्रीन टी पीने से मेटाबॉलिज्‍म का स्‍तर बढ़ता है। जिसके कारण शरीर में कोलेस्ट्राल की मात्रा संतुलित रहती है। कोलेस्‍ट्रॉल की मात्रा संतुलित रहने से रक्त चाप सामान्य रहता है। जिससे हार्ट अटैक आशंका बहुत कम रहती है।

ग्रीन टी मुंह के लिए बहुत फायदेमंद है। ग्रीन टी में ऑक्‍सीकरण रोधी पॉलीफिनॉल पाया जाता है जो मुंह में उन तत्‍वों को खत्‍म कर देता है जो सांस संबंधी परेशानियों के लिए जिम्‍मेदार होते हैं। See more…

सिग्रेट लत से भी छुटकारा दिलाए   ग्रीन टी

सिगरेट पीने की लत से छुटकारा चाहते हैं तो ग्रीन टी पीजिए। एक वैज्ञानिक शोध के अनुसार ग्रीन टी में मौजूद तत्व निकोटीन की लत छुड़ाने में मदद करते हैं। चीन की पत्रिका साइंस चाइना लाइफ में ए रेवोल्यूशनरी अप्रोज फॉर दे सिसेशन ऑफ स्मोकिंग शीर्षक से प्रकाशित रिपोर्ट के अनुसार वैज्ञानिकों ने निकोटीन की तलब को शांत करने के लिए ग्रीन टी के तत्वों को मिलाकर एक सिगरेट का निर्माण किया। मालाबार कैंसर इंस्टीट्यूट के अध्यापक फिंस फिलीप ने कहा कि धूम्रपान की लत छुड़ाने के लिए निकोटीन रिप्लेसमेंट थिरेपी कारगर पाई गई है।

उन्होंने बताया, बहुसंख्यक लोग धूम्रपान आराम पाने के लिए करते हैं। ग्रीन टी में मौजूद अमीनो एसिड एल-थिएनिन तनाव रोधी असर के लिए जाना जाता है। चीन में किए गए अध्ययन के अनुसार ग्रीन टी सिगरेट की लत छुड़ाने का विकल्प हो सकती है। केरल में 21.9 फीसदी लोग धूम्रपान करते हैं।

कोच्चि लेकशोर हास्पिटल एंड रिसर्च सेंटर के थामस वर्गीज ने कहा कि सिगरेट छोड़ने के बाद ग्रीन टी का सेवन जारी रखने से फेफड़े के कैंसर की सम्भावना कम हो जाती है। उन्होंने कहा, ग्रीन टी के सेवन से शरीर की प्रतिरोधक क्षमता मजबूत होती है। इसका सेवन जारी रखने से धूम्रपान से हुई क्षति का दुष्प्रभाव कम होता है। See more…

 

Green Tea Has Side Effects Too | | – Hindi Boldsky

ग्रीन टी यानी की हरी चाय के अनेक प्रकार के स्‍वास्‍थ्‍य वर्धक गुण हैं। जब आप ग्रीन टी पीते हैं तो आपको पता होता है कि यह आपका वजन कम करेगी, त्‍वचा को सुंदर बनाएगी, बालों का झड़ना रोकेगी और शरीर से गंदगी को बाहर निकालेगी। लेकिन ग्रीन टी का ज्‍यादा सेवन स्‍वास्‍थ्‍य के लिये खराब हो सकता है। जानते हैं कैसे? हरी चाय कब्ज, दस्त, उल्टी, चक्कर और यहां तक ​​कि सिर दर्द पैदा कर सकती है। हरी चाय में कैफीन होती है जो कि अनिद्रा पैदा कर सकती है। तो अगर आप हरी चाय पी कर वजन कम करना चाहते हैं, तो नीचे दिये गए इन चरणों का पालन करें और स्वस्‍थ्‍य तरीके से इस ग्रीन टी को अपने जीवन में शामिल करें।

ग्रीन टी यानी की हरी चाय के अनेक प्रकार के स्‍वास्‍थ्‍य वर्धक गुण हैं। जब आप ग्रीन टी पीते हैं तो आपको पता होता है कि यह आपका वजन कम करेगी, त्‍वचा को सुंदर बनाएगी, बालों का झड़ना रोकेगी और शरीर से गंदगी को बाहर निकालेगी। लेकिन ग्रीन टी का ज्‍यादा सेवन स्‍वास्‍थ्‍य के लिये खराब हो सकता है। जानते हैं कैसे? हरी चाय कब्ज, दस्त, उल्टी, चक्कर और यहां तक ​​कि सिर दर्द पैदा कर सकती है। हरी चाय में कैफीन होती है जो कि अनिद्रा पैदा कर सकती है। तो अगर आप हरी चाय पी कर वजन कम करना चाहते हैं, तो नीचे दिये गए इन चरणों का पालन करें और स्वस्‍थ्‍य तरीके से इस ग्रीन टी को अपने जीवन में शामिल करें।

इसे ताजा पिएं: फ्रेश तैयार हरी चाय शरीर के लिए अच्छी और स्‍वस्‍थ्‍य वर्धक होती है। आप इसे या तो गर्म या ठंडा कर के पी सकते हैं, लेकिन इस बात का यकीन हो कि चाय एक घंटे से अधिक समय की पुरानी ना हो। ज्‍यादा खौलती गर्म चाय गले के कैंसर को न्‍यौता दे सकती है, तो बेहद गर्म चाय भी ना पिएं। यदि आप चाय को लंबे समय के लिए स्‍टोर कर के रखेंगे तो, यह अपने विटामिन और एंटी-ऑक्‍सीडेंट खो देगी। इसके अलावा, इसमें मौजूद जीवाणुरोधी गुण भी समय के साथ कम हो जाते हैं। वास्तव में, अगर चाय ज्‍यादा देर के लिये रखी रही तो यह बैक्टीरिया को शरण देना शुरू कर देगी। इसलिये हमेशा ताजी ग्रीन टी ही पिएं।

भोजन से 1 घंटा पहले पिएं: ग्रीन टी को भोजन से एक घंटा पहले पीने से वजन कम होता है। इसे पीने से भूख देर से लगती है क्‍योंकि यह हमारी भूख को कंट्रोल करती है। ग्रीन टी को सुबह-सुबह खाली पेट बिल्‍कुल भी नहीं पीनी चाहिये।

ज्‍यादा स्ट्रॉंग ना हो: ज्‍यादा स्‍ट्रॉग ग्रीन टी में कैफीन और पोलीफिनॉल की मात्रा बहुत ज्‍यादा होती है। ग्रीन टी में इन सब सामग्री से शरीर पर खराब प्रभाव पड़ता है। तेज और कड़वी ग्रीन टी पीने से पेट की खराबी, अनिद्रा और चक्‍कर आने जैसी समस्‍या पैदा हो सकती है।

केवल 2-3 कप: पहले भी बोला जा चुका है कि अत्‍यधिक चाय नुक्‍सानदायक हो सकती है। इसी तरह से अगर आप रोजाना 2-3 कप से ज्‍यादा ग्रीन टी पिएंगे तो यह नुक्‍सान करेगी। क्‍योंकि इसमें कैफीन होती है इसलिये तीन कप से ज्‍यादा चाय ना पिएं। Read more…

– LiveHindustan.com

ग्रीन टी हमारी सेहत के लिए फायदेमंद तो है, लेकिन कई बार यह नुकसानदेह भी साबित होती है। इसलिए खासकर इसकी मात्रा और बनाने के तरीके पर विशेष ध्यान देना चाहिए। इसके बारे में बता रही हैं ए. त्रिपाठी

ग्रीन टी को वजन कम करने में मददगार माना जाता है। इसलिए कई लोग इस गलतफहमी का शिकार हो जाते हैं कि अधिक ग्रीन टी पीने का अर्थ है जल्द वजन कम होना। लेकिन यह अवधारणा पूरी तरह से सही नहीं है। ग्रीन टी सेहत के लिए फायदेमंद है, यह तो हम सभी जानते हैं, लेकिन जरूरत से ज्यादा ग्रीन टी सेहत को फायदा कम और नुकसान अधिक पहुंचा सकती है। यह आंखों से नींद चुरा सकती है, शरीर में आयरन की कमी पैदा कर सकती है।

कैफीन हालांकि ग्रीन टी में ज्यादा मात्रा में कैफीन नहीं होता, लेकिन ज्यादा ग्रीन टी पीने से बेचैनी, हृदय गति में अनियमितता, अनिद्रा की समस्या, चिंता, चिड़चिड़ापन जैसे लक्षण देखने को मिल सकते हैं। जानकारों का कहना है कि दिन में चार से पांच कप तक ही ग्रीन टी पीनी चाहिए। इससे ज्यादा ग्रीन टी पीने से उन लोगों में परेशानियां जल्दी दिखने लगती हैं, जो कैफीन की ज्यादा मात्रा के आदी नहीं होते।

पेट की गड़बड़ी अगर ग्रीन टी को सही तापमान के पानी के साथ न पिया जाए तो यह पेट की समस्या का कारण बन सकती है। ग्रीन टी बनाते समय यह ध्यान रखना चाहिए कि इसका पानी बिल्कुल उबला हुआ न हो। उबला हुआ होने पर जब आप उसमें चाय डालते हैं तो एसिडिटी हो सकती है। See more…

तो ये तो थी नेट के अनुसार कुछ जानकारी पर अपना खुद का अनुभव भी बहुत मायने रखता है … अगर आपके पास भी कोई अच्छी जानकारी हो हरियाली चाय ओह मेरा मतलब ग्रीन टी के बारे में तो जरुर सांझा कीजिगा  :)

The post Green Tea appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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3. The Rootlets: Super Rootabilities, An Interview with Vicki Marquez

Interview sponsored by Vicki Marquez The Children’s Book Review | June 22, 2015 The Children’s Book Review: The Rootlets: Super Rootabilities is the first book in your healthy eating series for kids. Before we talk about the book, can you tell us about your background as a certified health coach, wellness expert, and plant-based chef? And when […]

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4. The Rootlets: Super Rootabilities, by Vicki Marquez | Dedicated Review

The Rootlets: Super Rootabilities is the first book in a healthy-eating-meets-superhero-action early reader series. The series is written by certified health coach, wellness expert, and plant-based chef Vicki Marquez.

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5. Papa's Suns Coming Soon!

I'm thrilled to announce that my latest picture book, Papa's Suns is scheduled to be released shortly.  Below is the official blurb for this book which should be coming out at the end of the month.

Jacob and his grandfather like to spend time drawing pictures together. But after
Papa has a stroke, Jacob is afraid that his Papa will be different. Although Papa’s
body is healing, Jacob discovers that the love between him and his grandfather will
never change.

This book is close to my heart because it based on the relationship between my father-in-law and my daughter. Here is a sneak peek at the cover.  The illustrations are beautifully done by Samantha Bell.

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6. Five ways nature can improve our health

How does nature benefit our health? Many of us intuitively know that we simply feel better after ‘stepping out for some fresh air.’ Now over 30 years of research has begun to reveal exactly what health benefits we get from nature. Here are five reasons why we need to make space and time for nature in our lives.

The post Five ways nature can improve our health appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. Physical Literacy 12 Steps Pledge Ambassadorship: I Dance for Physical Literacy | Dedicated Review

Author Steven C. McCartney has created a 12-step healthy lifestyle plan for all ages and fitness levels.

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8. 9 Things to Make Your Life a Little Better…

Happy Spring everyone! Since this season is all about new growth, renewal, and fertility it’s only fitting that I share a post that reflects the promise of better (and brighter) days ahead. The following is taken from a Hallmark® birthday card I received from my mom this year. Trust me it’s worth the read, and guaranteed to put a smile on your face…

Trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t…fun, tempting…maybe, but not right.

Remember your manners. It doesn’t cost you anything, but speaks volumes about who you are. Having CLASS starts with this.

Never let possessions “own” you. It’s just STUFF! The most valuable things in life—friends, respect, love, knowledge—don’t cost money… Hokey, but true.

Nurture your friendships. The investment you make in true friends will pay huge dividends all your life—remember, you can’t make an old friend.

Keep your hands clean. This is meant both literally and figuratively… It will save you a lot of regrets later…

Believe in yourself. Another hokey one, but you DO happen to be the only YOU in existence, and you’re also the only person in the world who can TRULY hold you back in life…

Be grateful. Don’t waste all your todays in anticipation of some grand tomorrow. NOW is all we’ve got. Live in it!

Treat others the way you want to be treated. Just because you’re smarter or richer or prettier than someone else doesn’t mean you’re BETTER. It just means you’ve been more blessed.

Always keep playing. Who says adults have to give up toys? Keep the little kid inside you alive… it keeps your imagination primed. Silly is good. 

I’m kind of partial to the last one! Thanks a heap for reading my blog. If you have time, please leave a comment and share some of the things that have made your life a little better. Cheers and have a great week!

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9. Guest Post: Top 10 Foods to Improve Your Memory by Sara Daniel...

Most of us are probably not going to end up with amnesia so severe our memory of the past ten months is completely wiped out as happened to my heroine Gwen in Loving the Amnesia Bride. However, if you’re anything like me, you walk into a room intending to do something, which had to be important since you went there with a purpose. But now you’re standing inside the doorway with no earthly idea what you walked all the way across the house to do.

Or you’re all ready to run some errands…if you could just find where you left your darn car keys. Really, how far away could they have disappeared in the two hours since you last drove the car??? Clearly, it’s time to address the problem. And the problem is not the keys.

Below are ten foods which have been scientifically proven to deliver health benefits to your brain—improving memory, focus and concentration. So, let’s start eating!

1. Blueberries – All berries are good options, but blueberries are the superhero food choice! Blueberries protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and premature aging.

2. Salmon – Salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain function.

3. Broccoli – Broccoli has nutrients for healthy blood flow, protection against free radicals, and removes heavy metals that can damage the brain.

4. Beans/Legumes – These excellent sources of complex carbs and fiber provide a steady supply of glucose for the brain without the risks of sugar spikes. They are also packed with folate, a B vitamin critical to brain function.

5. Avocados – Although high in fat, the avocado is a monounsaturated fat, which promotes healthy blood flow to the brain. Their antioxidants protect the brain from free radical damage. They also contain potassium and vitamin K, which protect the brain from the risk of stroke.

6. Pomegranates – Either the seeds or the juice will do, protecting the brain from free radicals with their strong antioxidants.

7. Sunflower Seeds – These, along with other seeds, are packed with protein, omega fatty acids, B vitamins, and tryptophan, which the brain uses to boost mood and combat depression.

8. Whole grains – If you’ve ever bought whole grain bread, the advertising on the package probably shouted that whole grains reduce the risk of heart disease. And if your heart’s healthy, that’s good news for your brain.

9. Almonds and other nuts – Nuts are extremely good for the brain and nervous system. High levels of vitamin E protect against dementia and cognitive decline by protecting the brain against free radicals and improving brain power.

10. Chocolate – Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, has strong antioxidants and can improve concentration and focus. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, putting you in a good mood. 

Now, excuse me while I munch on some chocolate-covered almonds and look for my car keys!

  Sara Daniel writes what she loves to read—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She battles a serious NASCAR addiction and was once a landlord of two uninvited squirrels. She lives her own happily-ever-after romance with her hero husband, and she gets amnesia at least three times a day because she can never remember where she left her keys!

Learn more about Sara on her website and blog. Subscribe to Sara’s newsletter. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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10. The third parent

The news that Britain is set to become the first country to authorize IVF using genetic material from three people—the so-called ‘three-parent baby’—has given rise to (very predictable) divisions of opinion. On the one hand are those who celebrate a national ‘first’, just as happened when Louise Brown, the first ever ‘test-tube baby’, was born in Oldham in 1978. Just as with IVF more broadly, the possibility for people who otherwise couldn’t to be come parents of healthy children is something to be welcomed.

The post The third parent appeared first on OUPblog.

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11. 5 Art Activity Books for Kids that are Meditative, Innovative, and Inspiring

Art activity books can serve as a wonderful meditative tool to help reduce stress, refocus and recharge the brain, and spark inspiration.

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12. Trains of thought: Sarah

Four people with radically different outlooks on the world meet on a train and start talking about what they believe. Their conversation varies from cool logical reasoning to heated personal confrontation. Each starts off convinced that he or she is right, but then doubts creep in. During February, we will be posting a series of extracts that cover the viewpoints of all four characters in Tetralogue. What follows is an extract exploring Sarah's perspective.

The post Trains of thought: Sarah appeared first on OUPblog.

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13. Dental Assistant Business Card Sculpture

1220_dental_assistant_jan2015

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14. Time for a Bath, by Phillis Gershator | Book Review

Time for a Bath is a great way for kids to get excited about taking a bath!

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15. Nest, by Esther Ehrlich | Book Review

Esther Ehrlich’s debut novel, Nest, is an arresting story of an eleven-year-old girl named Chirp Orenstein, whose life becomes acutely sharp and complicated as her mother’s illness overtakes the family

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16. Cancer for Christmas

My wife sat at her laptop furiously compiling the lists for our four girls. She checked it once, then again while travelling to website after website scouring the internet for the best price and delivery. Items were added to baskets and carts checked out at such a frantic pace that I literally felt a warmth emanate from the credit card in my back pocket. Shopping at a fever pitch – Christmas delivered in two days or less. Not like most years, where she disappears for hours on end to find the perfect gift at the mall. She doesn’t have time for that this year because we got cancer for Christmas.

We dlistidn’t ask for it. It wasn’t circled in the wishbook or written in red crayon. No one sat on Santa’s lap and begged for it. No, cancer just showed up unannounced and took our year away.

So rather than spending quality time with each of the girls to weigh their enormous wants against our limited budget as in years past, she spent Saturday morning hunting and pecking under great duress. Do they have the right size? Will it be delivered on time? Is that really something she will use or should we just give her cash?

At some point during the madness, I asked her what she wanted for Christmas. She paused to consider. Her eyes got red and her mouth failed her. She didn’t answer, but I knew. I knew what she wanted the second I asked the question and Amazon.com can’t deliver it, even though we are Prime members. It is the only thing either of us want.

 

We want our baby to stop hurting.

We want her to stop having to face treatments that make her sick and waste away.

We want her legs to work.

We want her to be able to go to school… to run, skip and play like every normal 12 year-old girl should.

We want her to stop coughing.

We want her hair to grow back so people don’t stare at her.

We want normal family time – not garbled, anxiety-laden, jumbled hodge-podge comings and goings where one is sick or two are missing for yet another appointment.

We want to relax and not worry.

We want to give cancer back.

 

I’ll take one of those please, Santa. Any size will do. No need to wrap it up because if you deliver it, the paper won’t last long. Oh, and you can ditch the receipt, I won’t be returning that gift.

I know many people are dealing with heartbreak and struggles. While Christmas is a season of love and giving, it also seems to magnify pain and loss. We don’t have the market cornered on hurt. I realize that.

It’s just that my wife loves Christmas so much. She loves everything about it, from finding the perfect, fattest tree to decorating every square inch of the house in some form of red and green. She loves the sound of the carols (save Feliz Navidad) and the smell of the baking, even though she is the one wearing an apron. She loves that, for the briefest of moments, the world focuses on the birth of our Savior. She loves taking a drive to see lights on houses and staying home with hot chocolate around a fire. She loves spending time with family, watching It’s a Wonderful Life, reading the nativity story, and candlelight Christmas Eve services. She loves the mad dash on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought… the joy and wonder on our children’s faces. She loves it all.

 

 

IMG_1267

How do we do it this year?

Should we skip it?

Or should we cherish every moment together as the babe in the manger intended us to? Maybe, instead of focusing on what we’ve lost, we should hold on to the fragile remains of what we have – love, family, friends, and a newfound respect for the precious thing that is life. We should cling to our little girl, who, though frail, is fighting hard and encouraging others to do the same.

We aren’t alone. During the year, we’ve been welcomed into the country club no one wants to join – the childhood cancer community. While we are bound together by common tragedy, it is the warmest, most caring and wonderfully supportive group imaginable. It is the fraternity I wish I’d never pledged. Many of our new brothers and sisters are dealing with such incredible loss, and this time of year must certainly be crippling.

 

 

When referring to the promised coming of the child in the manger, Isaiah said, “…and a little child shall lead them.”

What if we took a cue from our little child?

 

Although she is the one feeling the pain, nausea, and side effects of cancer, she is also the one most excited about Christmas. Even though she only had the strength to stand long enough to put a single ornament on the tree, she admires the finished product and loves to be in the den where she can see it. She is the one who insisted on taking decorations out of town with her while she has to be gone for treatment. She is the one snuggling her elves, dreaming about Christmas morning, and soaking up every minute of the nearness of family and Christ at this time of year. She holds a compress on an aching jaw with one hand and draws up surprises for those most dear with the other. In a year of typically rapid growth for a child her age, she weighs 75% of what she did last Christmas, yet she samples whatever treats her nervous stomach will allow. While we fret over diagnosis and treatment, she savors joy, plucks smiles from pain, and builds a resume of contentment that few on this earth have ever seen. Perhaps she has it right and we have it all wrong.

 

Kylie hanging her favorite ornament

Kylie hanging her favorite ornament

Instead of looking to health and prosperity for our happiness, what if, just for a moment, we set aside our problems – however overwhelming, and looked to the manger, toward a child – with gratitude for his coming and a longing for his return? What if we laughed in the face of the enemy, knowing that we are wonderfully cared for and uniquely loved? What if we hoped, even when victory was uncertain? What if we dreamed of a better tomorrow regardless of what it may hold?

What if we smiled more…

This joyous Christmas, our family holds on to hope. Together, we look to the manger, to Jesus Christ our Lord for strength and healing. We dream of the day when there is a cure – for our child & every child. We pray that next year, not a single family will have to unwrap cancer for Christmas.


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17. Relax, inhale, and think of Horace Wells

Many students, when asked by a teacher or professor to volunteer in front of the class, shy away, avoid eye contact, and try to seem as plain and unremarkable as possible. The same is true in dental school – unless it comes to laughing gas.

As a fourth year dental student, I’ve had times where I’ve tried to avoid professors’ questions about anatomical variants of nerves, or the correct way to drill a cavity, or what type of tooth infection has symptoms of hot and cold sensitivity. There are other times where you cannot escape having to volunteer. These include being the first “patient” to receive an injection from one of your classmate’s unsteady and tentative hands. Or having an impression taken with too much alginate so that all of your teeth (along with your uvula and tonsils) are poured up in a stone model.

But volunteering in the nitrous oxide lab … that’s a different story. The lab day is about putting ourselves in our patients’ shoes, to be able to empathize with them when they need to be sedated. For me, the nitrous oxide lab might have been the most enjoyable 5 minutes of my entire dental education.

In today’s dental practice, nitrous oxide is a readily available, well-researched, incredibly safe method of reducing patient anxiety with little to no undesired side effects. But this was not always the case.

The Oxford Textbook of Anaesthesia for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery argues that “with increasingly refined diets [in the mid-nineteenth century] and the use of copious amounts of sugar, tooth decay, and so dentistry, were on the increase.” Prior to the modern day local anesthesia armamentarium, extractions and dental procedures were completed with no anesthesia. Patients self-medicated with alcohol or other drugs, but there was no predictable or controllable way to prevent patients from experiencing excruciating pain.

That is until Horace Wells, a dentist from Hartford, Connecticut started taking an interest in nitrous oxide as a method of numbing patients to pain.

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Dr Horace Wells, by Laird W. Nevius. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Wells became convinced of the analgesic properties of nitrous oxide on December 11, 1844 after observing a public display in Hartford of a man inhaling the gas and subsequently hitting his shin on a bench. After the gas wore off, the man miraculously felt no pain. With inspiration from this demonstration and a strong belief in the analgesic (and possibly the amnestic) qualities of nitrous oxide, on December 12, Wells proceeded to inhale a bag of the nitrous oxide and have his associate John Riggs extract one of his own teeth. It was risky—and a huge success. With this realization that dental work could be pain free, Wells proceeded to test his new anesthesia method on over a dozen patients in the following weeks. He was proud of his achievement, but he chose not to patent his method because he felt pain relief should be “as free as the air.”

This discovery brought Wells to the Ether Dome at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Before an audience of Harvard Medical School faculty and students, Wells convinced a volunteer from the audience to have their tooth extracted after inhaling nitrous oxide. Wells’ success came to an abrupt halt when this volunteer screamed out in pain during the extraction. Looking back on this event, it is very likely that the volunteer did not inhale enough of the gas to achieve the appropriate anesthetic effect. But the reason didn’t matter—Wells was horrified by his volunteer’s reaction, his own apparent failure, and was laughed out of the Ether Dome as a fraud.

The following year, William Morton successfully demonstrated the use of ether as an anesthetic for dental and medical surgery. He patented the discovery of ether as a dental anesthetic and sold the rights to it. To this day, most credit the success of dental anesthesia to Morton, not Wells.

After giving up dentistry, Horace Wells worked unsuccessfully as a salesman and traveled to Paris to see a presentation on updated anesthesia techniques. But his ego had been broken. After returning the U.S, he developed a dangerous addiction to chloroform (perhaps another risky experiment for patient sedation, gone awry) that left him mentally unstable. In 1848, he assaulted a streetwalker under the influence. He was sent to prison and in the end, took his own life.

This is the sad story of a man whose discovery revolutionized dentists’ ability to effectively care for patients while keeping them calm and out of pain. As a student at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, it is a point of pride knowing that Dr. Wells made this discovery just a few miles from where I have learned about the incredible effects of nitrous oxide. My education has taught me to use it effectively for patients who are nervous about a procedure and to improve the safety of care for patients with high blood pressure. This is a day we can remember a brave man who risked his own livelihood in the name of patient care.

Featured image credit: Laughing gas, by Rumford Davy. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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18. Does workplace stress play a role in retirement drinking?

Alcohol misuse among the retired population is a phenomenon that has been long recognized by scholars and practitioners. The retirement process is complex, and researchers posit that the pre-retirement workplace can either protect against—or contribute to—alcohol misuse among retirees.

The prevalence of alcohol misuse among older workers is staggering. In the United States, the rate of heavy drinking (i.e., more than seven drinks per week or two drinks on any one occasion) among those aged 65 and older is calculated to be at 10% for men and 2.5% for women, with some studies estimating the frequency of alcohol misuse among older (i.e., age 50 and older) as 16% or higher. Yet another study makes the case that 10% of all alcoholics are over 60. As a point of reference, the incidence of frequent heavy drinking in the workforce (US) is 9.2% and rate of alcohol abuse is 5.4%.

Estimates of future problem drinking and predictions of how prevalence rates may rise may be underestimated, not only because of the aging of the population, but also because of shifting societal and cultural norms. There is evidence that individuals follow relative stable drinking patterns as they age. If this is the case, the Baby Boomer generation may show a higher prevalence of alcohol problems as they enter later life than their parents and grandparents. Moreover, some research suggests that the frequency and severity of alcohol misuse may increase in aging populations, especially among individuals with a history of drinking problems.

Recent research has suggested that retirement drinking may be influenced by workplace factors.

Richman, Zlatoper, Zackula, Ehmke, and Rospenda (2006) investigated the role of aversive workplace conditions that could influence drinking behavior among retirees: sexual harassment, generalized workplace abuse, and psychological workload. The analysis of a longitudinal study of employees at a Midwestern university shows that retirees who had experienced high levels of stress drank more than their counterparts who were still employed (and who were still experiencing a stressful workplace). This pattern held even in relation to a comparison between stressed and non-stressed workers. The study suggests that for those still employed, workplace norms and regulations may inhibit the use of alcohol as a means of self-medication in response to highly stressful experiences, retirement removes the social controls that curtailed drinking while the individual was in the workforce.

retirementpostpic
Retirement of Porter Ted Humphreys, 1968. Public domain via LSE Library.

Bacharach, Bamberger, Biron, & Horowitz-Rozen (2008) examined the role that positive work conditions might have on the retirement-drinking relationship, positing that pre-retirement job satisfaction might interact with retirement agency to affect retirees’ drinking behavior. Using data from a NIH-funded ten-year study of retirement-eligible and retired workers, the research team found a positive association between “push” perceptions and both the quantity and frequency of drinking (though not drinking problems), and an inverse association between “pull” perceptions and both drinking frequency and drinking problems (though not quantity). The study also found that greater job satisfaction amplified the positive association between “push” perceptions and alcohol consumption, and attenuated the inverse association between “pull” perceptions and unhealthy or problematic drinking. This moderating effect of pre-retirement job valence suggests that people who are most satisfied with their jobs are likely to fare worst in response to the stress of a retirement that is unplanned or undesired. Even when retirement is the result of personal volition, it may still be associated with a sense of loss and negative emotions for which alcohol may serve as a coping mechanism.

Bacharach, Bamberger, Doveh and Cohen (2007) examined how the social availability of alcohol in and around the workplace prior to retirement may have divergent effects on older adult drinking behavior. Bacharach et al. found that problem drinkers—after retiring from a workplace with permissive drinking norms—drank less over the first two years of retirement. This population not only left the workplace, but they also dropped their regular association with coworkers who supported and encouraged drinking behavior. The findings suggest that for those with a history of problem drinking, retirement may be linked to a net decline in the severity of drinking problems.

To assess the degree to which this decline in problem drinking may be attributed to separating from a permissive workplace drinking culture, the team examined shifts in the extent of the problem-drinking cohort’s social support networks during the study period. Findings suggest that the decline in problem drinking severity was apparent among those whose social networks became smaller in retirement. Conversely, for the small number whose social networks expanded in retirement, problem drinking severity increased. The nature of the retirement-problem drinking relationship, at least for baseline problem drinkers, may be contingent upon the social availability of alcohol in the work environment from which they disengage.

While there is a lack of research demonstrating the role of strain as a mediator linking these stressors to shifts in older adults’ drinking behavior, a substantial body of evidence examining the role of stress in the origin and intensification of alcohol use and misuse suggests that strain is likely to serve as the intermediary mechanism. To the extent that strain plays such a mediating role, the same network factors are likely to also operate as vulnerability or protective moderating factors in this second stage of the mediation. As suggested by Bacharach et al. (2007), the impact of disengagement-related strain on older adults’ drinking behavior is likely to vary depending upon whether they exit into a non-work social network with more or less permissive drinking norms than those associated with their workplace or occupation.

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19. Jay Asher Discusses Thirteen Reasons Why | 50 States Against Bullying

A conversation between Jay Asher and Trudy Ludwig the 50 States Against Bullying tour, bullying, teen suicide and how to create kinder and more caring communities.

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20. Death at a Distance

I saw someone’s Facebook status today:

 

a

And I was immediately struck with anger.

At first, I wasn’t sure quite why. I get what they meant. It seems like Ebola’s everywhere! It’s constantly on the news, all over the internet, and everyone’s talking about it. It makes sense to be sick of hearing about it.  We’re bound to get sick of hearing about anything that much!

But still, I couldn’t shake the discomfort that rung in my head over that status. Ebola seems far away, after all, it’s only been diagnosed four times in the US. It’s easy to tuck it away in your mind as something distant that doesn’t affect you and forget why it’s a big deal.

It’s even become a hot topic for jokes on social media:

b c

de

 

Because so many see this very real disease as a far away concept, we find safety in our distance and it’s easy to make light of it.

But guys….

f

 

4,877 deaths. 9,935 sufferers. That’s not funny. That’s not something to ask to “omg shut up.”

The idea of disease never really hit home for me until my little sister was diagnosed with cancer. Yes, Ebola and cancer are two very different things. But I know what it’s like to watch someone I love very dearly suffer. I know what it’s like to hold my sister’s hand while she cries because she can’t escape the pain or the fear that comes with her disease. I know what it’s like to cry myself to sleep begging God to take her illness away. And I can’t help but imagine a sister somewhere in Africa in a situation very similar to my own, watching her loved one suffer, hearing her cries, and begging for it to all be over- but without the blessings of medicine and technology that my sister has access to.

We are quick to throw on our pink gear for breast cancer awareness and dump ice on our head for ALS because that kind of awareness is fun and easy. I’m not trying to diminish those causes- they are great causes that deserve promotion. But I mean to make note of the fact that when another very real disease with very real consequences is brought to light and gains awareness, people groan that it’s in the news again and make jokes about it on the internet. Because Ebola doesn’t have the fun and cute promotional package, we complain and make light of it and its need for awareness and a solution.

People are suffering and dying from Ebola. Just because that suffering seems far away, doesn’t make it any less significant.

 

This is a guest post from my oldest daughter, Meredith. I begged her to let me post it. 


Filed under: Don't Blog Angry

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21. A taxonomy of kisses

Where kissing is concerned, there is an entire categorization of this most human of impulses that necessitates taking into account setting, relationship health and the emotional context in which the kiss occurs. A relationship’s condition might be predicted and its trajectory timeline plotted by observing and understanding how the couple kiss. For instance, viewed through the lens of a couple’s dynamic, a peck on the cheek can convey cold, hard rejection or simply signify that a loving couple are pressed for time.

A kiss communicates a myriad of meanings, its reception and perception can alter dramatically depending on the couple’s state of mind. A wife suffering from depression may interpret her husband’s kiss entirely differently should her symptoms be alleviated. Similarly, a jealous, insecure lover may receive his girlfriend’s kiss of greeting utterly at odds to how she intends it to be perceived.

So if the mind can translate the meaning of a kiss to fit with its reading of the world, what can a kiss between a couple tell us? Does this intimate act mark out territory and ownership, a hands-off-he’s-mine nod to those around? Perhaps an unspoken negotiation of power between a couple that covers a whole range of feelings and intentions; how does a kiss-and-make-up kiss differ from a flirtatious kiss or an apologetic one? What of a furtive kiss; an adulterous kiss; a hungry kiss; a brutal kiss? How does a first kiss distinguish itself from a final kiss? When the husband complains to his wife that after 15 years of marriage, “we don’t kiss like we used to”, is he yearning for the adolescent ‘snog’ of his youth?

Engulfed by techno culture, where every text message ends with a ‘X’, couples must carve out space in their busy schedules to merely glimpse one another over the edge of their laptops. There isn’t psychic space for such an old-fashioned concept as a simple kiss. In a time-impoverished, stress-burdened world, we need our kisses to communicate more. Kisses should be able to multi-task. It would be an extravagance in the 21st-century for a kiss not to mean anything.

And there’s the cultural context of kissing to consider. Do you go French, Latin or Eskimo? Add to this each family’s own customs, classifications and codes around how to kiss. For a couple, these differences necessitate accepting the way that your parents embraced may strike your new partner as odd, even perverse. For the northern lass whose family offer to ‘brew up’ instead of a warm embrace, the European preamble of two or three kisses at the breakfast table between her southern softie of a husband and his family, can seem baffling.

The context of a kiss between a couple correlates to the store of positive feeling they have between them; the amount of love in the bank of their relationship. Take 1: a kiss on the way out in the morning can be a reminder of the intimacy that has just been. Take 2: in an acrimonious coupling, this same gesture perhaps signposts a dash for freedom, a “thank God I don’t have to see you for 11 hours”. The kiss on the way back in through the front door can be a chance to reconnect after a day spent operating in different spheres or, less benignly, to assuage and disguise feelings of guilt at not wanting to be back at all.

Couple, by Oleh Slobodeniuk. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.
Couple, by Oleh Slobodeniuk. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

While on the subject of lip-to-lip contact, the place where a kiss lands expresses meaning. The peck on the forehead may herald a relationship where one partner distances themselves as a parental figure. A forensic ritualized pattern of kisses destined for the cheeks carries a different message to the gentle nip on the earlobe. Lips, cheek, neck, it seems all receptors convey significance to both kisser and ‘kissee’ and could indicate relationship dynamics such as a conservative-rebellious pairing or a babes-in-the-wood coupling.

Like Emperor Tiberius, who banned kissing because he thought it helped spread  fungal disease, Bert Bacarach asks, ‘What do you get when you kiss a guy? You get enough germs to catch pneumonia…’ Conceivably the nature of kissing and the unhygienic potential it carries is the ultimate symbol of trust between two lovers and raises the question of whether kissing is a prelude or an end in itself, ergo the long-suffering wife who doesn’t like kissing anymore “because I know what it’ll lead to…”

The twenty-first century has witnessed the proliferation of orthodontistry with its penchant for full mental braces. Modern mouths are habitually adorned with lip and tongue piercings as fetish wear or armour. Is this straying away from what a kiss means or a consideration of how modern mores can begin to create a new language around this oldest of greetings? There is an entire generation maturing whose first kiss was accompanied by the clashing of metal, casting a distinct shadow over their ideas around later couple intimacy.

Throughout history, from Judas to Marilyn Monroe, a kiss has communicated submission, domination, status, sexual desire, affection, friendship, betrayal, sealed a pact of peace or the giving of life. There is public kissing and private kissing. Kissing signposts good or bad manners. It is both a conscious and unconscious coded communication and can betray the instigator’s character; from the inhibited introvert to the narcissistic exhibitionist. The 16th-century theologian Erasmus described kissing as ‘a most attractive custom’. Rodin immortalized doomed, illicit lovers in his marble sculpture, and Chekhov wrote of the transformative power of a mistaken kiss. The history and meaning of the kiss evolves and shifts and yet remains steadfastly the same: a distinctly human, intimate and complex gesture, instantly recognizable despite its infinite variety of uses. I’ve a feeling Sam’s ‘You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss’ may never sound quite the same again.

Headline image credit: Conquered with a kiss, by .craig. CC-BY-NC-2.0 via Flickr.

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22. 11 Kids’ Books on Dealing with Loss, Grief, Illness and Trauma

Here is a list of 11 books that address a wide range and variety of emotions that young readers may experience when faced with serious illness, loss, grief or trauma.

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23. Stem cell therapy for diabetes

This month, it was reported that scientists at Harvard University have successfully made insulin-secreting beta cells from human pluripotent stem cells. This is an important milestone towards a “stem cell therapy” for diabetes, which will have huge effects on human medicine.

Diabetes is a group of diseases in which the blood glucose is too high. In type 1 diabetes, the patients have an autoimmune disease that causes destruction of their insulin-producing cells (the beta cells of the pancreas). Insulin is the hormone that enables glucose to enter the cells of the tissues and in its absence the glucose remains in the blood and cannot be used. In type 2 diabetes the beta cells are usually somewhat defective and cannot adapt to the increased demand often associated with age and/or obesity. Despite the availability of insulin for treating diabetes since the 1920s, the disease is still a huge problem. If the level of blood glucose is not perfectly controlled it will cause damage to blood vessels and this eventually leads to various unpleasant complications including heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and gangrene of limbs. Apart from the considerable suffering of the affected patients, the costs of dealing with diabetes is a huge financial burden for all health services. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes in particular is rising in most parts of the world and the number of patients is now counted in the hundreds of millions.

To get perfect control of blood glucose, insulin injections will never be quite good enough. The beta cells of the pancreas are specialised to secrete exactly the correct amount of insulin depending on the level of glucose they detect in the blood. At present the only sources of beta cells for transplantation are the pancreases taken from deceased organ donors. However this has enabled a clinical procedure to the introduced called “islet transplantation”. Here, the pancreatic islets (which contain the beta cells) are isolated from one or more donor pancreases and are infused into the liver of the diabetic patient. The liver has a similar blood supply to the pancreas and the procedure to infuse the cells is surgically very simple. The experience of islet transplants has shown that the technique can cure diabetes, at least in the short term. But there are three problems. Firstly the grafts tend to lose activity over a few years and eventually the patients are back on injected insulin. Secondly the grafts require permanent immunosuppression with drugs to avoid rejection by the host, and this can lead to problems. Thirdly, and most importantly, the supply of donor pancreases is very limited and only a tiny fraction of what is really needed.

Syringe, by Blausen.com staff. “Blausen gallery 2014″. CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

This background may explain why the production of human beta cells has been a principal objective of stem cell research for many years. If unlimited numbers of beta cells could be produced from somewhere then at least the problem of supply would be solved and transplants could be made available for many more people. Although there are other potential sources, most effort has gone into making beta cells from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC). These resemble cells of the early embryo: they can be grown without limit in culture, and they can differentiate into most of the cell types found in the body. hPSC comprise embryonic stem cells, made by culturing cells directly from early human embryos; and also “induced pluripotent stem cells” (iPSC), made by introducing selected genes into other cell types to reprogram them to an embryonic state. The procedures for making hPSC into beta cells have been designed based on the knowledge obtained by developmental biologists about how the pancreas and the beta cells arise during normal development of the embryo. This has shown that there are several stages of cell commitment, each controlled by different extracellular signal substances. Mimicking this series of events in culture should, theoretically, yield beta cells in the dish. In reality some art as well as science is required to create useful differentiation protocols. Many labs have been involved in this work but until now the best protocols could only generate immature beta cells, which have a low insulin content and do not secrete insulin when exposed to glucose. The new study has developed a protocol yielding fully functional mature beta cells which have the same insulin content as normal beta cells and which secrete insulin in response to glucose in the same way. These are the critical properties that have so far eluded researchers in this area and are essential for the cells to be useful for transplantation. Also, unlike most previous procedures, the new Harvard method grows the cells as clumps in suspension, which means that it is capable of producing the large number of cells required for human transplants.

These cells can cure diabetes in diabetic mice, but when will they be tried in humans? This will depend on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the USA. The FDA has so far been very cautious about stem cell therapies because they do not want to see cells implanted that will grow without control and become cancerous. One thing they will insist on is extremely good evidence that there are absolutely none of the original pluripotent cells left in the transplant, as they would probably develop into tumours. This highlights the fact that the treatment is not really “stem cell therapy” at all, it is actually “differentiated cell therapy” where the transplanted cells are made from stem cells instead of coming from organ donors. The FDA will also much prefer a delivery method which will enable the cells to be removed, something which is not the case with current islet transplants. One much discussed possibility is “encapsulation” whereby the cells are enclosed in a semipermeable membrane that can let nutrients in and insulin out but will not allow cells to escape. This might also enable the use of immunosuppressive drugs to be avoided, as encapsulation is also intended to provide a barrier against the immune cells of the host.

Stem cell therapy has been hyped for years but with the exception of the long established bone marrow transplant it has not yet delivered. An effective implant which is easy to insert and easy to replace would certainly revolutionize the treatment of diabetes, and given the importance of diabetes worldwide, this in itself can be expected to revolutionize healthcare.

Featured image credit: A colony of embryonic stem cell. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

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24. FOUR TITLES FROM OWLKIDS BOOKS

OwlKids Books promotes awareness of our world to encourage young readers to become more astute observers of how their choices can affect the natural world. OwlKids Books appeal to readers who enjoy bold graphics with quick facts using minimal text. Why We Live Where We Live Written by Kira Vermond; Illustrated by Julie McLaughlin ISBN: 9781771470117 Grades 4-6 Vermond takes readers on a

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25. On World Diabetes Day, a guide to managing diabetes during the holidays

The International Diabetes Foundation has marked 14 November as World Diabetes Day, commemorating the date that Frederick Banting and his team first discovered insulin, and the link between it and diabetic symptoms.

As we approach the festive season, a time of year when indulgence and comfort are positively encouraged, keeping track of, or even thinking about blood glucose levels can become a difficult and annoying task. If good diabetic practice relies on building routines suited to the way your blood sugar levels change throughout the day, then the holidays can prove a big disruption to the task of keeping diabetes firmly in the background. With this in mind, take a look at this list of tips, facts, and advice taken from Diabetes by David Matthews, Niki Meston, Pam Dyson, Jenny Shaw, Laurie King, and Aparna Pal to help you stay in control and happy throughout the festive months:

  • Eat regularly. When big occasions cause your portion sizes to increase alarmingly, it’s tempting to skip or put off other meals. But eating large amounts at irregular intervals can cause blood glucose levels to rise significantly. For many, it’s better to snack throughout the day, including some starchy rather than sugary carbohydrates, promoting slow glucose release into the bloodstream.
  • Alternate drinks. Big dinners, big nights, and family days are likely to mean you consume more alcohol than normal. Alternating alcoholic drinks with diet drinks, soda, or mineral water can minimize their effect on blood glucose levels, so you can stay out, and keep up, without worrying.
  • Help your liver. Alcohol is metabolized by the liver, an organ that also helps release glucose into the bloodstream when levels start to drop. After drinking, the liver is busy processing alcohol, so cannot release glucose as effectively. This increases the risk of hypoglycaemia, especially in people who take insulin or sulphonylurea tablets. To combat this risk, try to avoid drinking on an empty stomach, or eat starchy foods when drinking. You may also need to snack before bed if you’re drinking in the evening.
  • Eat more, exercise more. Regular activity can have major benefits on your diabetes, making the insulin you produce or inject work more efficiently. Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise will have positive effects, and are excellent ways of giving you a mental boost (though blood glucose levels should be monitored). Many symptoms of hypos are similar to those of exercise, such as hotness, sweating or an increased heart rate. Check blood glucose levels regularly and make necessary adjustments; fruit contains natural sugar and is a healthy way of quickly raising levels.
  • Go for your New Year’s resolution. Losing five to ten percent of your starting weight can have a positive impact on your diabetes, not to mention your overall health. Although exercise and eating well are of course promoted by all as the best way to lose weight, there is no medical consensus on one ideal way to achieve weight loss. The key lies in finding an effective approach that you can maintain. Remember that insulin can slow down weight loss, and if you are trying to lose weight, but find you’re having hypos, you’ll need to adjust your medication. Discuss this with your healthcare team.
  • Check Labels. Sodium isn’t synonymous with salt, but many food manufacturers often list sodium rather than salt content on food packaging. To convert a sodium figure into salt, you need to multiply the amount of sodium by 2.5. (For example: A large 12 inch cheese and tomato pizza provides 3.6 g of sodium. 3.6 multiplied by 2.5 is 9, so, the pizza contains approximately 9g of salt; one and a half times the recommended maximum of 6g.)
  • Don’t worry! Although a good routine is important, occasional lapses shouldn’t have a drastic effect on blood glucose levels (though this varies from person to person). Pick up a healthy routine in the New Year, when you’ll feel most motivated, and stick to it. The World Health Organization estimates over 200 million people will have type 2 diabetes by the year 2015, but (according to the international diabetes foundation) over 70% of cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented by adopting healthier lifestyles. Healthy living is not just a supplement, but part of the treatment of diabetes.

Heading image: Christmas Eve by Carl Larsson. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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