Kaizen News

Healthy hummus!

Healthy hummus!

“This is Bruce Cheson from Georgetown University Hospital, the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, for Medscape Hematology. How can we reduce cancer risk in this country? Many things have been tried, and the new one is hummus. Yes, hummus will do it. There I was, peacefully sitting in an airplane last week and, when it was time to start the descent, I had to turn off all my electronic devices. What could I read? I hadn’t brought a book with me. For some reason, however, a newspaper was left in the seat pocket in front of me and I pulled it out. It was the Wall Street Journal,[1] a newspaper that I don’t usually read, but the April 30 edition had an article about hummus.
It seems that the sale of hummus in this country in the past 2 years has gone up 25%. It’s more than a half-billion-dollar-a-year business. How is this relevant? Now some of the major hummus companies are making deals with farmers in states such as Virginia to replace tobacco crops with chickpeas. The sale of tobacco is going down and hummus is going up. It’s a fabulous story. There was a good picture of a tobacco farmer planting chickpeas, saying, “Taste them. They’re not bad. They’re pretty good.”
This very healthy food that is good for you is taking over for this leaf that is very bad for you. The next time you go to the grocery store and see the hummus, whether it’s with olive oil, pine nuts, red pepper — or, my favorite, curry hummus — support your local hummus producer, because an indirect consequence of that will be a reduction in the number of tobacco plants that are being planted and cared for. The outcome of this product is quite different.
So, enjoy your hummus. It’s good for you and it appears that it may help reduce cancer risk in the United States. This is Bruce Cheson, signing off from Medscape Hematology. I am going to go out to get some hummus.”

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Strong enough to lift heavy weights with bioDensity

Strong enough to lift heavy weights with bioDensity

Each of these men is getting ready to lift heavy weights. One of them is about to scream as he lifts the weight into the air, stuggling to hold it up so that it doesn’t fall on him and cause severe bodily harm. He’s the guy wearing red. The other on is getting ready to simulate the lifting of weight into the air. He’s not screaming because he knows that he can lift, push, or pull to his utmost abilitywithout any danger of hurting himself! And every time he gets on the bioDensity machine, his muscle strength in every area can be measured by computer!

Now which way would you prefer to lift weights? If you would prefer not to scream, come and see our bioDensity machine – and give it a try.
Call Kaizen Total Wellness for your free demo appointment: (941)556-7788.

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Using video games for stroke rehab

Using video games for stroke rehab

After suffering a stroke, people often experience temporary or permanent disabilities, such as speech impairment, paralysis and memory loss.  Months of rehabilitation sometimes help patients recover basic functions, but many never recover their full capacities.
Seeking improved efficiency in stroke rehabilitation, occupational therapist Doctor Debbie Rand of Tel Aviv University has turned to common interactive video games as an affordable and effective alternative to traditional therapy. In a recent study, she found that stroke victims who play video games in therapy make more movements overall than those in traditional therapy.
“Interactive game consoles require players to move continuously to interact with the virtual games,” Rand explains. In her study, it was found that not only did players perform double the number of arm movements during each session compared to patients in traditional therapy, but all of their movements were purposeful or “goal-directed” and not simply repetitive exercises.
Using the mind and the body
“When individuals plan their movements and move deliberately in order to accomplish a specific goal, it is likely to have a positive impact on brain plasticity,” Rand notes. Not only do players’ movements require precision and balance, but there is also a cognitive benefit, since video games require planning and strategy. Moreover, because the individuals are motivated and enjoy the activity, it is more likely that they will continue the treatment regime long-term, she believes.
In order to test the effectiveness of interactive video games compared to traditional therapy, individuals who had experienced a stroke one to seven years before the study were arbitrarily assigned to one of two groups of 20 participants each – one group being a traditional therapy group, which completed standard rehabilitation exercises, and the other being a video games group which played video games using Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Wii gaming consoles. Each group received two sessions a week with occupational therapists for a period of three months.
Despite both groups showing improvement in functions such as grip strength of their weaker and stronger hands and gait speed, participants in the video games group continued to show improvement in their grip strength for the following three months, while the traditionally-treated group did not.
It is just fun and games
Rand believes that beyond the physical advantages, another reason for which video games might be an excellent alternative to traditional therapy is that they’re simply more fun. In the video game group, 92 percent of participants said they enjoyed the experience “extremely” or “very much,” as opposed to 72 percent of the traditional group. “If patients enjoy the experience, it’s more likely that they will adhere to the therapy regime long-term, noting that game consoles are now widely available and fairly inexpensive.” says Rand.
The group environment also contributed to the success of the therapy. Often, individuals with stroke are isolated and don’t have a very active social life. This program allowed them to connect with people like themselves, and encourage and support one another’s efforts.
Doctor Rand is an occupational therapist at Tel Aviv University’s Stanley Steyer School of Health Professions at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine. Her research was done in collaboration with a team from Sheba Medical Center and funded by the Marie Curie International Reintegration Grant.
In future studies, she intends to investigate whether these interactive video games will be as effective if they are used independently by patients at home to keep up activity levels – a crucial element of rehabilitation following a stroke.

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Researchers identify mechanism that causes alcoholics to relapse

Researchers identify mechanism that causes alcoholics to relapse

Alcoholics – so far at least rats addicted to the bitter drop – can be saved from relapse following abstinence from drinking by turning off a trigger in the brain. Israeli and US researchers were able to identify and deactivate a brain pathway linked to cravings for alcohol, thus preventing the rodents from seeking alcohol and drinking it.
The researchers – headed by Dr. Segev Barak of Tel Aviv University’s School of Psychological Sciences and the Sagol School of Neuroscience, Profs. Dorit Ron and Patrician Janak of the University of California at San Francisco, on Sunday night published their findings online in Nature Neuroscience. The study was conducted in the University of California, San Francisco, in the lab of Professor Dorit Ron.
Although the research was conducted in lab animals, the authors believe it is quite possible that similar studies will soon test the same treatment strategy in humans, and that the study paves the way for treatment of other addictions, including tobacco.
“One of the main causes of relapse is craving, triggered in the memory by certain cues – like going into a bar, or the smell or taste of alcohol,” said Barak, the lead author. “What we learned is that when rats were exposed to the smell or taste of alcohol there was a small window of opportunity to target the area of the brain that reconsolidates the memory of the craving for alcohol and to weaken or erase the memory – and thus the craving.”
Tracking the memory that reactivates addiction
In the study, researchers trained rats to voluntarily access 20 percent alcohol solution in special chambers by pushing levers, and they drank high amount of alcohol for three months. They were then put through a 10-day period of abstinence from alcohol.
Later the animals were exposed to alcohol either by smell or taste. In the first part of the experiment, rodents were then killed (under anesthesia) and their brains scanned to identify the neural pathway that retrieved and reconsolidated – the memory of the alcohol. They found activation of a molecular pathway called the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (or, mTORC1). This activation was specific to a select region of the amygdala, a structure linked to emotional reactions and withdrawal from alcohol, and cortical regions involved in memory processing.
In the second part, the researchers sought to prevent the reconsolidation of the memory, thus preventing relapse. They found that when the rats were presented with just a small drop of alcohol, the smell and taste activated the mTORC1 pathway. Once mTORC1 was activated, the alcohol-memory stabilized (reconsolidated) and the rats relapsed on the following days, meaning in this case, that they pushed the lever to dispense more alcohol.
However, in rats where the mTORC1 pathway was deactivated using a drug called rapamycin, administered immediately after the exposure to the cue (smell, taste), there was no relapse to alcohol seeking the next day, and drinking remained suppressed for up to 14 days, the end point of the study.
…
“The smell and taste of alcohol were such strong cues that we could target the memory specifically without impacting other memories (like a craving for sugar, for example),” said Barak, who added that he has been doing brain studies for many years and has never seen such a robust and specific activation in the brain.

The study is an “important first step in the research, but more studies are needed to determine whether rapamycin — a drug currently approved as an immunosuppressant for kidney transplant patients — would have the same effect in humans.  In future research, Barak plans to investigate in his TAU lab whether the use of behavioral manipulations, in lieu of pharmaceuticals, could produce similar results.

“One of the main problems in alcoholism is relapse, and there are not many treatments. Even with an efficient treatment, 70% to 80% of the patients will relapse in the first year,” Barak says. “It’s really thrilling that we were able to completely erase the memory and prevent relapse in these animals. This could be a revolution in treatment approaches for addiction, in terms of erasing unwanted memories and thereby manipulating the brain triggers that are so problematic for people with addictions” he said.

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