Friday, January 14, 2022

12 scientifically proven signs you’re in love

How are the signs you’re in love related to chemistry in the brain?

You may have experienced some signs you’re in love. Can't get someone out of your head? Daydreaming about them when you should be working? Imagining your futures together? These dizzying thoughts are just a few of the telltale signs you're in love.

In fact, scientists have pinned down exactly what it means to "fall in love." Researchers have found that the brain of a person in love looks very different from one experiencing mere lust, and it's also unlike the brain of someone in a long-term, committed relationship. Studies led by Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University and one of the leading experts on the biological basis of love, have revealed that the brain's "in love" phase is a unique and well-defined period of time. Here are 13 telltale signs you're in love.

When you're in love, you begin to think your beloved is unique. The belief is coupled with an inability to feel romantic passion for anyone else. According to a 2017 article in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, this monogamy results from elevated levels of central dopamine — a chemical involved in attention and focus — in your brain.

People who are truly in love tend to focus on the positive qualities of their beloved, while overlooking his or her negative traits. According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, relationships are usually more successful when partners are idealized.

Those who are in love also focus on trivial events and objects that remind them of their loved one, daydreaming about these precious little moments and mementos. According to research published in 2013 in the journal Motivation and Emotion, being in love prevents people from focusing on other information.

This focused attention is also thought to result from elevated levels of central dopamine, as well as a spike in central norepinephrine, a chemical associated with increased memory in the presence of new stimuli.

As is well known, falling in love often leads to emotional and physiological instability. You bounce between exhilaration, euphoria, increased energy, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, trembling, a racing heart and accelerated breathing, as well as anxiety, panic and feelings of despair when your relationship suffers even the smallest setback.

These mood swings parallel the behavior of drug addicts, according to a 2017 article in the journal Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology. And indeed, when in-love people are shown pictures of their loved ones, it fires up the same regions of the brain that activate when a drug addict takes a hit. According to Fisher, being in love is a form of addiction and when this is taken away from someone they can experience "withdrawals and relapse".

Going through some sort of adversity with another person tends to intensify romantic attraction, according to Fisher’s research. Central dopamine may be responsible for this reaction, too, because research shows that when a reward is delayed, dopamine-producing neurons in the mid-brain region become more productive.

People who are in love report that they spend, on average, more than 85 percent of their waking hours musing over their "love object," according to Fisher. Intrusive thinking, as this form of obsessive behavior is called, may result from decreased levels of central serotonin in the brain, a condition that has been associated with obsessive behavior previously. (Obsessive-compulsive disorder is treated with serotonin-reuptake inhibitors.)

According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Psychophysiology, men who are in love have lower serotonin levels than men who are not, while the opposite applies to women. The men and women who were in love were found to be thinking about their loved one for around 65 percent of the time they were awake.

People in love regularly exhibit signs of emotional dependency on their relationship, including possessiveness, jealousy, fear of rejection, and separation anxiety. For instance, Fisher and her colleagues looked at the brains of individuals viewing photos of a rejected loved one, or someone they were still in love with after being rejected by that person.

The functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) showed activation in several brain areas, including forebrain areas like the cingulate gyrus that have been shown to play a role in cocaine cravings. "Activation of areas involved in cocaine addiction may help explain the obsessive behaviors associated with rejection in love," the researchers wrote in 2010 in the Journal of Neurophysiology.

Longing for emotional union with a beloved, seeking out ways to get closer and day-dreaming about a future together are also signs of someone in love. According to an article by Harvard University, when serotonin levels begin to return to normal levels, the hormone oxytocin increases in the body. This neurotransmitter is associated with creating more serious relationships.

Lucy Brown, a neuroscientist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, says this drive to be with another person is sort of like our drive toward water and other things we need to survive.

"Functional MRI studies show that primitive neural systems underlying drive, reward recognition and euphoria are active in almost everyone when they look at the face of their beloved and think loving thoughts. This puts romantic love in the company of survival systems, like those that make us hungry or thirsty," Brown told Live Science.

"I think of romantic love as part of the human reproductive strategy. It helps us form pair-bonds, which help us survive. We were built to experience the magic of love and to be driven toward another"

People who are in love generally feel a powerful sense of empathy toward their beloved, feeling the other person's pain as their own and being willing to sacrifice anything for the other person.

In Fisher’s study, the scientists discovered significant patterns in the brain activity of people who were in love. Their mirror neurons, which are linked to feelings of empathy, were more active in people who were in a long-term, loving relationship.

Falling in love can result in someone reordering their daily priorities to align with those of their beloved. While some people may attempt to be more like a loved one, another of Fisher's studies, presented in 2013 at the "Being Human" conference, found that people are attracted to their opposites, at least their "brain-chemical" opposites.

For instance, her research found that people with so-called testosterone-dominant personalities (highly analytical, competitive and emotionally contained) were often drawn to mates with personalities linked to high estrogen and oxytocin levels — these individuals tended to be "empathetic, nurturing, trusting and prosocial, and introspective, seeking meaning and identity," Fisher said in 2013.

Those who are deeply in love often experience sexual desire for their beloved, but there are strong emotional strings attached: The longing for sex is coupled with a desire for sexual exclusivity, and extreme jealousy when the partner is suspected of infidelity. According to the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, oxytocin is released during sexual activity. This hormone creates social bonds and develops trust.

This attachment is thought to have evolved so that an in-love person will compel his or her partner to spurn other suitors, thereby ensuring that the couple's courtship is not interrupted until conception has occurred. According to Fisher this evolved as a biological need, enabling people in romantic relationships to “focus [their] mating energy on a particular individual”.

While the desire for sexual union is important to people in love, the craving for emotional union takes precedence. Fisher’s 2002 study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior found that 64 percent of people in love (the same percentage for both sexes) disagreed with the statement, "Sex is the most important part of my relationship with [my partner]."

Fisher and her colleagues found that individuals who report being "in love" commonly say their passion is involuntary and uncontrollable.

For her 1979 book "Love and Limerence," the late psychologist Dorothy Tennov asked 400 men and women in Connecticut to respond to 200 statements on romantic love. Many participants expressed feelings of helplessness, saying their obsession was irrational and involuntary.

According to Fisher, one participant, a business executive in his early 50s wrote this about an office crush, "I am advancing toward the thesis that this attraction for Emily is a kind of biological, instinct-like action that is not under voluntary or logical control. ... It directs me. I try desperately to argue with it, to limit its influence, to channel it (into sex, for example), to deny it, to enjoy it, and, yes, dammit, to make her respond! Even though I know that Emily and I have absolutely no chance of making a life together, the thought of her is an obsession," Fisher reported in 2016 online in Nautilus.
Unfortunately, being in love doesn't always last forever and psychologists say that the early euphoric stage lasts no longer than three years, according to Fisher’s blog. It's an impermanent state that either evolves into a long-term, codependent relationship that psychologists call "attachment," or it dissipates, and the relationship dissolves. If there are physical or social barriers inhibiting partners from seeing one another regularly — for example, if the relationship is long-distance — then the "in love" phase generally lasts longer than it would otherwise.

To find out why people crave love and learn more about the research of Helen Fisher, you can watch her TED talk– The brain in love. For further reading about love and the body, the book The Science of Love and Attraction, written by neuroscientist Dr. Guloglu, explores how and why people love.

"Romantic love: An fMRI study of a neural mechanism for mate choice" The Journal of Comparative Neurology (2005).

"Differences in Neural Response to Romantic Stimuli in Monogamous and Non-Monogamous Men". Archives of Sexual Behaviour (2017).

"The benefits of positive illusions: Idealization and the construction of satisfaction in close relationships". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1996).

"Reduced cognitive control in passionate lovers". Leiden, Universiteit (2013).

"Addicted to love: What is love addiction and when should it be treated?". Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology (2017).

"Reward, Addiction, and Emotion Regulation Systems Associated With Rejection in Love". Journal of Neurophysiology (2010).

"Defining the brain systems of lust, romantic attraction, and attachment. Archives of Sexual Behavior (2002).

YSK: Neurofeedback might have clinical potential for patients with non-anxious major depressive disorder

Why YSK:Neurofeedback training might help to improve the effectiveness of certain psychological interventions for patients with depression, according to new research. But the findings indicate that fMRI neurofeedback might not be effective for patients with the anxious distress subtype of depression.

The study, published in Psychological Medicine, examined a neurofeedback intervention targeting self-blaming biases in major depressive disorder

“Excessive self-blame is an important symptom and cause of depression and distinguishes depression from healthy bereavement, as Sigmund Freud pointed out,” said study author Roland Zahn, a professor at King’s College London and honorary consultant psychiatrist at Maudsley Hospital.

“Together with my colleague Jorge Moll from the D’Or Institute for Research and Education in Rio de Janeiro, my research group has started to identify the brain circuits that are important for overgeneralized self-blame in depression (e.g. ‘feeling like a total failure’ or ‘feeling guilty for everything’ or ‘loathing oneself’).”

“We previously used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to show that whilst thinking about self-blame-evoking statements, the communication between two brain regions — the subgenual part of the frontal region and a section of the anterior temporal lobe just beneath our right temple — predicted risk of recurrent depression,” Zahn explained.

“The current study was motivated by two questions: Firstly, can we confirm our hypothesis that the connectivity between these two brain regions plays a causal role in depressive forms of overgeneralized self-blame. If there was a causal relationship then helping people to train their brain connectivity should improve their depression. Secondly, we wanted to see whether we can use this to develop a new non-invasive treatment approach for depression.”

In the study, 35 participants with recurrent major depressive disorder attended three treatment sessions where they were taught cognitive strategies to tackle self-blame. Some of these participants were randomly assigned to receive the treatment alongside additional fMRI neurofeedback training.

The neurofeedback training provided the participants with a visual representation of their brain activity, giving them information about cognitive states that would otherwise be outside of their awareness.

“Jorge Moll and his team have developed a software for our studies which allowed us to measure connectivity between brain regions directly whilst people are in an MRI scanner and update the measure every two seconds,” Zahn explained. “This was inspired by previous breakthroughs from other groups who have worked on fMRI neurofeedback, a specific type of biofeedback where you can use a signal from your brain to learn how to modify it.”

In line with their predictions, the researchers found that fMRI neurofeedback training was associated with in a decrease in functional connectivity between the posterior subgenual cortex and the right superior anterior temporal lobe. But, when it came to treatment response, the researchers found no difference between those who received fMRI neurofeedback training and those who didn’t. Both groups experienced a similar reduction in symptoms, as measured via the Beck Depression Inventory-II.

“We were unable to conclude that the fMRI neurofeedback was better than the control intervention overall,” Zahn told PsyPost. However, “when we explored our data further to see whether different types of depression showed a different pattern of response, we found a very important clue in that people with non-anxious depression benefitted much more from neurofeedback than our solely psychological control intervention, whereas in anxious depression it was the opposite.”

Depression with anxious distress is characterized by feeling tense and restless, having difficulty concentrating because of worry, fearing that something awful might happen, and having a sense that one might lose control.

“We had only a small number of non-anxious depression patients and that we did not plan this analysis, so our result is exploratory and needs to be replicated in an independent larger study before it could be recommended as a treatment in a clinical setting,” Zahn said. “But for us it was a very important step in prompting us to investigate anxious depression further, a relatively new subtype in the latest version of the American Psychiatric Association-based classification. We have learned that we need to identify specific treatment targets in different subtypes of depression and provide more tailored neurofeedback treatments.”

Despite the limitations, the findings suggest that neurofeedback training is a safe approach to managing depressive symptoms that warrants further investigation.

“We think that fMRI neurofeedback has the prospect of becoming a treatment in the next 10 or 20 years and colleagues around the world have been working on different approaches that are promising,” Zahn said. “Much more work is needed though before it can be recommended clinically.”

The study, “Self-blame in major depression: a randomised pilot trial comparing fMRI neurofeedback with self-guided psychological strategies“, was authored by Tanja Jaeckle, Steven C. R. Williams, Gareth J. Barker, Rodrigo Basilio, Ewan Carr, Kimberley Goldsmith4 Alessandro Colasanti, Vincent Giampietro, Anthony Cleare, Allan H. Young, Jorge Moll and Roland Zahn.


Thursday, January 13, 2022

Is the paleo diet safe for your health?

Paleo diet - The popular Paleolithic diet (also known as the paleo, caveman, Stone Age or steak and bacon diet) centers on the idea that eating like our original ancestors is aligned with our genetics and therefore optimal for good health. A paleo dieter’s food choices are limited to what in prehistoric times could be hunted, fished or gathered such as meats, fish and vegetables. The underlying theory is that the rise in chronic diseases in modern society stems from the agricultural revolution, which added grains, legumes and dairy to meals, leading to a host of chronic diseases and conditions — from obesity to allergies.

But is the paleo diet safe? UC Davis Health dietitian Alex Nella discusses the pros and the cons of the food fad.

Can we assume that cave people ate mostly meat?

Not really. People living in the Paleolithic period, or “cave people,” ate whatever their surroundings afforded them. When surrounded by fish or marine animals, that’s what they ate. In tropical habitats, they ate a variety of plant and animal foods. In certain environments, the majority of calories may have come from protein, but the bulk of the diet was still plants. So calling a diet that consists mostly of protein the “paleo diet” isn’t accurate.

Is the paleo diet healthy?

It has the potential to be healthy. The typical paleo diet, however, puts most at risk for deficiencies in calcium and vitamin D, which are critical to bone health. At the same time, saturated fat and protein can be consumed far above recommended levels, increasing the risk of kidney and heart disease and certain cancers.

But shouldn’t we reduce carbohydrates and dairy in our diets?

Not true for complex carbohydrates. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are important fuels for brain and muscle activity. But most of us can and should eat fewer refined carbohydrates, which add unnecessary ingredients and calories but little fiber and protein and few vitamins and minerals to our diets. They also are often fortified just to appear healthy on nutrition labels.

Dairy is an individual choice. But if it’s significantly limited and not replaced with alternative food sources of calcium, supplements of calcium and vitamin D may be necessary. Paleo advocates often say dairy promotes inflammation, but some research shows the opposite: low-fat dairy intake actually decreases inflammatory markers in the blood.

What do you like about the paleo diet?

It is high in fiber, potassium and antioxidants while being low in simple carbohydrates, sodium and sugar. It emphasizes local, sustainable, organic and non-GMO foods and grass-fed meat options. It discourages foods that are processed or have artificial ingredients and colorings. It encourages foods that make the body work hard to obtain calories while providing nutrients that optimize efficient use of those calories. It may kick-start weight loss and, at least in the short-term, improve blood sugar and lipid profiles.

What are the major downsides of the paleo diet?

The paleo isn’t effective for sustained weight loss, as it is very difficult to stay committed to any diet that is too restrictive of one or more food categories. In terms of overall health, it could over time increase lipids like total and LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or “bad”) cholesterol that raise the risk of heart disease. Not getting enough calcium increases the risk of osteoporosis, rickets and bone fractures. Chronically low carbohydrate intake may lead to an overuse of fat for energy, or ketosis. Medical supervision is recommended for those on the paleo diet, especially for anyone with heart, kidney, liver or pancreatic disease or who is interested in maintaining the very low-carbohydrate version of the diet.
What do you tell people who ask about the paleo diet?

I encourage them to use the paleo as the starting point of a healthy diet but to add beans, lentils, nuts, whole grains, and low-fat or nonfat dairy or other calcium sources such as dark leafy greens, tofu, and soy or almond milk. I also recommend that they carefully choose protein sources, emphasizing quality over quantity. Plate balance is the key. Good resources for achieving that balance are the recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) eating plan from the National Institutes of Health, or guidance from a dietitian.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Decoding imagined language to treat people suffering from aphasia

What if it were possible to decode the internal language of individuals deprived of the ability to express themselves? This is the objective of a team of neuroscientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG). After more than four years of research, this team has managed to identify promising neural signals to capture our internal monologues. It was also able to identify the brain areas to be observed in priority to try to decipher them in the future. These results open new perspectives for the development of interfaces for people suffering from aphasia. They can be found in the journal Nature Communications.

When human beings speak, different areas of their brain must be activated. However, the function of these regions can be seriously impaired after damage to the nervous system. For example, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (or Charcot's disease) can completely paralyze the muscles used to speak. In other cases, following a stroke for example, areas of the brain responsible for language can be affected: this is called aphasia. However, in many of those cases, the ability of patients to imagine words and sentences remains partly functional.

Decoding our internal speech is therefore of great interest to neuroscience researchers. But the task is far from easy, as Timothée Proix, scientist in the Department of Basic Neuroscience at the UNIGE Faculty of Medicine, explains: "Several studies have been conducted on the decoding of spoken language, but much less on the decoding of imagined speech. This is because, in the latter case, the associated neural signals are weak and variable compared to explicit speech. They are therefore difficult to decode by learning algorithms." That is, through computer programs.
A well-hidden speech

When a person speaks aloud, he or she produces sounds that are emitted at certain precise moments. Researchers can thus relate these tangible elements to the brain regions involved. In the case of imagined speech, the process is much less easy. Scientists have no obvious information on the sequencing and tempo of the words or sentences formulated internally by the individual. The areas recruited in the brain are also less numerous and less active.

In order to perceive the neural signals of this very particular type of speech, the UNIGE team used a panel of thirteen hospitalized patients, in collaboration with two American hospitals. They collected data through electrodes implanted directly into patients' brains in order to assess their epileptic disorders.

""We asked these people to say words and then to imagine them. Each time, we reviewed several frequency bands of brain activity known to be involved in language. ""

Anne-Lise Giraud, Professor, Department of Basic Neuroscience, UNIGE Faculty of Medicine, and newly appointed director of the Institut de l'Audition in Paris

Tapping into the right frequency

The researchers observed several types of frequencies produced by different brain areas when these patients spoke, either orally or internally. "First of all, the oscillations called theta (4-8Hz), which correspond to the average rhythm of syllable elocution. Then the gamma frequencies (25-35Hz), observed in the areas of the brain where speech sounds are formed. Thirdly, beta waves (12-18Hz) related to the cognitively more efficient regions solicited, for example to anticipate and predict the evolution of a conversation. Finally, the high frequencies (80-150Hz) that are observed when a person speaks out" explains Pierre Mégevand, assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the Faculty of Medicine of the UNIGE and associate physician at the HUG.

Thanks to these observations, the scientists were able to show that the low frequencies and the coupling between certain frequencies (beta and gamma in particular) contain essential information for the decoding of imagined speech. Their research also reveals that the temporal cortex is an important area for the eventual decoding of internal speech. Located in the left lateral part of the brain, this specific cerebral region is involved in the processing of information related to hearing and memory, but it also houses a part of Wernicke's area, responsible for the perception of words and language symbols.

These results are a major advance in the reconstruction of speech from neural activity. "But we are still a long way from being able to decode imagined language", concludes the research team.


Journal reference:

Proix, T., et al. (2022) Imagined speech can be decoded from low- and cross-frequency intracranial EEG features. Nature Communications.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

How Even A Bad Conversationalist Can Have Good Conversations

Some of my clients feel they’re bad at conversation. This composite essentializes it:

First of all, I’m shy to go up to people. And even if they come up to me or we’re already meeting, I don’t know what to say after “hello.” I’m always afraid I have nothing to say that isn’t boring. And then there’s that deadly silence—so awkward. So I tend to avoid talking to anyone I don’t already feel comfortable with. I know that hurts me professionally and personally but I don’t know how to improve.

My clients have found these steps helpful:

1. Prepare a bit. What could you talk and ask about: family, work, current events, a hobby? Starting with small talk is just fine: It’s what helps people settle down.

2. Start with an environmental comment. I’m not talking about climate change but about the immediate environment: the room, the weather, the common reason the two of you are there. For example, “Hi, this is my first time at this meetup (or restaurant, conference, whatever.) You?

3, Ask an easy question, ideally one that finds common ground, as in the previous example. Another example: Let’s say you’re in your workplace’s breakroom, TGIF, or party. You might say, “I’m working on the Version 2.0 rollout. How about you?"

4. Listen carefully. Especially if you’re insecure in conversation, it’s tempting to think ahead to what you’re going to say next. But it’s important to listen well, curiously, and then ask a follow-up question or add something to what the person said, again perhaps finding common ground. For example, “It seemed that your tone got a little darker when you said you had a sister. Maybe I’m projecting because I’m having a hard time with my brother.” Then wait, give the person time to think.

5. Accept discomfort. At some point, you won’t know what to say or feel you said something mundane if not downright stupid. Your conversation needn’t score 100%. In fact, you could score a big, fat goose egg and you’ll survive. But if you can muster the grace to laugh at yourself or at least be quiet and allow the other person to fill in, all will be good or at least good enough.

6. When things get sticky. For example, you’ve put your foot in your mouth, the other person annoyed you, or you have no idea how to respond. It’s beyond this post's scope to address specifics but the generalizable point is: Cut your losses. For example, give a brief answer to a hard question. That’s the opposite of the natural tendency to talk and talk in hopes you'll dig your way out. Then divert attention by asking a question. If you’ve screwed up, it's often wise to laugh and say something brief like “I misspoke” and move on to something safe or ask a question. If you’re unhappy with something the person said, breathe to give yourself a moment so you don’t act reflexively. Then ask yourself, "Is it wise to confront or deflect?"

The takeaway

A conversation’s open-endedness can be scary: Where do you start? How do you continue? What if you get stuck? What if things get awkward? A conversation can be a bit like walking a tightrope. Fortunately, if you fall, you’ll get up, guaranteed. And if you follow at least some of this post’s tips, chances are you’ll not only get to the other side but have enjoyed the walk.

Source of Information on YouTube. +

Smug Neighbor Shames Mom for Using Her Car to Soothe Her Children to Sleep

Driving kids around to soothe them is an age-old parenting trick—but one mom's neighbor dared to send her a note criticizing the impacts of this decision.

If you've ever had a child who struggles with falling or staying asleep, you know the desperation that comes with this particular parenting battle. You'll do anything to help them (and, TBH, yourself) get some more shut-eye. You may even do things you told yourself you'd never do, like co-sleeping or sleep training...or loading your child into the car for a drive to help lull them to sleep.

One mom—who reportedly hasn't had a decent night of sleep in six years (yikes!) does just that. It seems to work: Her son naps for an hour and a half and wakes up immediately when the car is not running.

But the mom's neighbor isn't on board with the mom's method of calming her child. The neighbor wrote her a note—and we're going to say it: This is definitely sancti-mommy behavior.

"I like most of your neighbours walk by your house a couple of times a day and notice that you have your car running constantly...while I understand that you use your car to soothe or put your child to sleep, I am sure you must understand the damage you are doing to the environment," the neighbor writes, according to a snapshot of the note shared on Daily Mail. "'If you truly cared for your children you would care about the environment you are leaving them in the long term and not just your short-term convenience and comfort."

Is the neighbor making a valid point? In some ways, sure. There is an environmental impact of regularly running a car for long stretches of time. But no one has any idea what parents are dealing with in their homes. Dealing with a child who just won't sleep is incredibly hard. And as a parent, you do what you need to do...and you deserve not to be judged or shamed.

Unfortunately, this mom was judged and shamed by the neighbor.

"I have raised three children and have never had to resort to driving or using a vehicle to put my child to sleep," the neighbor adds. Um, good for you? "I understand being a parent isn't easy but taking short cuts that damage our planet is not an acceptable course of action by any standard," the neighbor continues.

The mom posted the note on Facebook, according to Daily Mail, and she reportedly added the caption: "When I find out who this is they are seriously going to regret starting a war with me."

We're going to side with the mom on this one. Being a parent is so tough, and every child responds to something different—and every parent has the right to decide how to soothe their child without this sort of rude, intrusive feedback from an anonymous neighbor.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

New symptoms overtake cough or fever as most common signs of Covid-19


New studies have shown that the most common symptoms of Covid-19 have changed with the Omicron variant

For almost two years, the most common reported signs of Covid were a high temperature and a cough, but it now appears that different symptoms are more common following the outbreak of the Omicron variant.

According to the ZOE Covid study, 51.3 per cent of people experiencing the new cold-like symptoms are likely to have symptomatic Covid, the Mirror reports.

The symptoms include a snotty nose, a sore throat, and headaches.

Despite the huge number of cases, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has opted to not bring in any further restrictions to combat the spread.

It comes amid news that around 1.3 million people in the UK - one in 50 - are likely to be suffering from long Covid, the highest number since estimates began.

This includes more than half a million people who had the first strain of Covid-19, or suspected they had the virus, at least one year ago.

The figures, provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), are based on-self reported long Covid from a representative sample of people in private households.

The responses were collected in the four weeks to December 6 last year - before the recent surge in Covid-19 infections due to the more viral Omicron variant.

The estimate of 1.3 million people with long Covid is up from the 1.2 million estimated at the end of October, as well as the 945,000 estimated at the start of July.

Of the 1.3 million, 892,000 people - 70 per cent - first had, or suspected they had, Covid-19 at least 12 weeks prior, while 40 per cent of the overall figure, 506,000, had the virus at least a year earlier.

Dr Claire Steves, scientist on the ZOE COVID Study app and Reader at King’s College London said:“It’s good news that the number of daily new cases has slowed for now. ZOE COVID Study data shows that this slow down is being driven by cases falling in London and in younger age groups. However, it’s worrying to see cases increasing in the over 75 age group.

"This is the group we need to protect as they are the most likely to be hospitalised as a result of a COVID infection. It’s too early to know if cases have truly peaked in London, as schools are yet to reopen after the holidays.

"We've seen school terms driving infection waves throughout the pandemic. The health and care systems are already under huge pressure, so we all need to take personal responsibility for limiting the spread of COVID.

"This could be in the form of regular testing, wearing masks, staying away from busy crowded places, meeting up outside and getting booster vaccines.”

Sources of information:- + + +

Sunday, January 2, 2022

A mother’s diet during pregnancy can impact child’s health well into teens

Women who don’t watch what they eat during pregnancy can affect their child’s health well into their teenage years. Nutrition during pregnancy plays a pivotal role in determining the child’s body mass index (BMI) even during adolescence, according to a new study.

Children who are overweight, meaning their BMI is above 24.9, have an increased risk of asthma, type 2 diabetes, and orthopedic disorders. In the U.S., almost 15 million children and adolescents are obese. Following a Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and oils, as well as in sources of vitamin D and omega-3 could help remedy this, the study’s authors said.

“To date, studies linking maternal nutrition during pregnancy to offspring growth have focused on the newborn- and early-childhood period, with limited data extending later into childhood,” says study lead author Dr. Carmen Monthé-Drèze, of Harvard University, in a media release. “We wanted to better understand dynamic growth changes that occur from childhood through adolescence as a result of maternal nutrition in pregnancy. We specifically wanted to assess whether there are distinct periods between birth and adolescence when rates of weight gain are more susceptible to the programming effects of nutrition in pregnancy.”

The researchers analyzed data from 1,459 mothers and children, collected by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute. Mothers were asked to complete food questionnaires during their pregnancies so the researchers could evaluate their diets using the Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII), the Mediterranean diet score, and the Alternate Healthy Eating Index for Pregnancy.

These three “dietary indices” are used to determine whether a person is getting the right amount of nutrients from their diet, including those known to reduce the risk of disease. The child’s weight and height were then measured several times between birth and adolescence to calculate their BMI score.

“The results suggest maternal nutrition during pregnancy may have a long-term impact on children’s weight trajectories, and that there are specific developmental periods when nutrition during pregnancy may influence offspring growth,” says Dr. Monthé-Drèze. “For example, we found that a pregnancy diet with higher inflammatory potential was associated with faster BMI growth rates in children between three and ten years of age. We also found that lower adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet during pregnancy was associated with higher BMI trajectories through adolescence.”

Women should be made aware of how important a healthy diet is during pregnancy, the researchers said. “It is important to counsel women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant on the importance of a healthy diet during pregnancy,” adds Dr. Monthé-Drèze. “In particular, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should consider a Mediterranean diet, which may not only benefit their own health, but may also help their child maintain a healthy weight.”

A Mediterranean-style diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, low-mercury fish, and good quality oils such as extra virgin olive oil. These foods provide important sources of vitamin D, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and other nutrients, which have been shown to benefit the baby’s health.

“Research has shown that the foods that we eat during pregnancy may influence the metabolism of the growing child as well as their eating behaviors and food preferences. Additionally, the food choices women make during pregnancy are likely to be similar to food choices they offer their children,” says Dr. Monthé-Drèze. “Therefore, it is conceivable that maternal nutrition during pregnancy may be related to long-term weight issues in the offspring. Additional research is therefore needed to better understand the relationship between maternal diet in pregnancy and child BMI and weight gain patterns.”

Healthcare providers need to be particularly alert to children whose mothers did not follow a healthy diet during pregnancy. A woman’s nutritional needs during pregnancy vary widely, so soon-to-be mothers should consult their doctor to see what diet is best for them.

The findings are published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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