Start fighting obesity tomorrow with this simple, easy step: Drink only water with your meals

Losing weight can be an arduous process, yet there’s one simple habit that can make it easier. Instead of accompanying your meals with shakes and juices, opt for plain water.

This is what helped over 1,200 elementary and middle school students in New York City shed some unwanted pounds over the course of a five-year pilot program. The placement of water dispensers in the cafeterias not only led to tripled water intake during lunchtime, but also helped the students lose small but significant amounts of weight.

“The nutrition profile doesn’t change much when people increase their plain-water intake, but we do see a significant drop in their saturated fat and sugar intake,” said University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Ruopeng An, who conducted a cost-benefit analysis of the program. Though the children consumed less milk, An stated that this wouldn’t pose any major nutritional hazards. (Related: Don’t Become Your Own Worst Enemy During Your Weight Loss Journey.)

“While there might potentially be some problems if children consume less whole milk, I would say those are probably minor in comparison with the costs associated with the skyrocketing rates of childhood overweight and obesity in the U.S.,” An explained.

And far from only benefiting children, drinking solely water with your meals is good for adults too. An himself performed a previous study on the effects of greater water intake among adults, and found that there was little evidence of any adverse nutritional side effects,.

Really though, it’s not at all that surprising that the students under the program lost weight. Water has been proven to aid in weight loss efforts in a number of ways, and according to, these are some of them:

To enjoy these amazing health benefits, make it a point follow the recommended intake of four to eight glasses, or one to two liters, of water a day. This is a general guideline, however. You may need more water than other people, or you could be one of those people who can do with a little less. Just be sure to drink water whenever you feel thirsty, as ignoring this urge can cause you to become dehydrated. Even mild dehydration can cause you to reach for food or experience a headache, neither of which are good for you. The same can’t be said of water, which is definitely something you should have everyday.

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Company maps cannabis genome to protect marijuana from Monsanto

There is an urban legend that has been floating around on the Internet for several years now, that Monsanto either has obtained or is working towards obtaining a patent for a genetically modified strain of cannabis. Monsanto’s own website vehemently denies this, stating categorically, “Monsanto has not and is not working on GMO marijuana. This allegation is an Internet rumor.” While the naïve among us might choose to take them at their word, those who are more familiar with Monsanto’s tactics know not to believe a thing they say. Just think about how vehemently they deny any link between cancer and glyphosate, the main ingredient in their Roundup weed killer. Even a damning report by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, declaring glyphosate to be “probably carcinogenic to humans,” has not made them change their tune.

With 26 states and the District of Columbia having legalized medical marijuana, and seven states legally allowing even recreational use, it is not surprising that many companies and individuals have been eager to jump on the marijuana bandwagon. And for those who dig a little deeper, there are definite links between Monsanto and the burgeoning cannabis market. Mint Press News reports that Scotts Miracle-Gro Co., the exclusive marketer of Roundup in North America, has expressed serious interest in the distribution of the green stuff.

“I want to target the pot market,” said Jim Hagedorn, Scotts Miracle-Grow’s CEO. “There’s no good reason we haven’t.”

Monsanto has spent billions on the development of new agricultural technologies, including $1 billion on the purchase of an agri-tech startup called Climate Corp. It stands to reason, then, that they would be keen to get in on the marijuana market, where even small time operators have been making an absolute fortune.

It’s such an obvious money-spinner, that even Snoop Dogg is getting in on the action by launching a fund for the development of marijuana startup companies.

Fortunately for those who are aware of the myriad health benefits of marijuana, and are desperate to see it remain out of the clutches of Big Agri companies like Monsanto and Syngenta, an Oregon-based research and diagnostic company called Phylos Bioscience has made it their business to sequence the DNA of cannabis. [RELATED: Could marijuana be the cure for cancer?]

The company, which operates out of the federally-funded Oregon Health and Science University, and therefore only handles DNA samples rather than the plant itself, has spent the last two years collecting samples from around the world. This has allowed them to sequence the plant’s DNA and to develop 3-D software and an interactive guide called Galaxy to make the data come alive.

“Sample collection was a huge part of this process,” said Carolyn White, sales and marketing manager at Phylos. “One side was a collaboration with growers, dispensaries and labs to collect modern samples, and the other a process of hunting down ancient landrace strains from all over the world.”

The company offers far more than just simple identification or cataloging of marijuana strains, and is the only entity to offer actual DNA sequencing. Dr. Mowgli Holmes, Chief Scientific Officer at Phylos, compares this sequencing to a “bar code in terms of identification and evolutionary relationship relative to other samples.”

Using this information, Galaxy allows users to follow the lines that connect each strain of marijuana back to its genetic parent.

This is all good news for those who have invested heavily in the distribution of marijuana, as it should help protect their intellectual property rights from agri-giants like Monsanto – if the company ever caves in and admits it’s actually interested in developing a genetically modified version of marijuana, that is.

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Americans don’t dream anymore: Expert claims lack of sleep is affecting our physical and mental health

It’s not just kids who need a decent amount of sleep each night. To be able to function well at school or work, adults need to sleep deep enough to dream, according to an article from the Daily Mail.

Each night, we go through the fours stages of sleep. This occurs several times, and the bulk of our dreaming occurs during the “rapid-eye movement” (REM) phase. REM is the fourth stage, and missing out on enough sleep could spell the difference between getting enough rest and being tired and cranky the next day. (Related: Effects of Sleep Deprivation.)

Studies show that the physical and mental health of the average American is suffering due to a lack of sleep and dreams. The results of the study from the University of Arizona have identified several concerns that often go unnoticed since dreaming-sleep is nestled between psychology and sleep-science.

The REM cycle, which is the stage of sleep when our most active dream lives occur, was initially believed to be “the most deeply restful phase of sleep.” However, findings from contemporary research say that non-REM sleep, the stage before REM sleep, is the most restful phase.

Dr. Rubin Naiman, a sleep and dream psychologist from the university, claims that we need both. Since sleep and dreaming are analogous to our basic needs, it’s no use asking which is more important because, like food and water, we need both REM and non-REM sleep.

Dr. Naiman said, “We can actually go without food for weeks and weeks, but without water for only a few days. The brain prioritizes deep sleep over REM sleep, and if someone is sleep deprived they will dive into deep sleep to catch up.” He added that we need both to stay healthy.

It’s not just the lack of sleep that can cause health concerns like “greater risks of inflammation, pain sensitivity, obesity and memory problems” such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Without REM sleep, one’s physical and mental health can suffer greatly. Studies have revealed the link between Alzheimer’s and REM sleep, which can be seen in individuals who have difficulty entering the dreaming phase of sleep. This means that they have a bigger chance of developing Alzheimer’s.

If sleep is regularly interrupted, the chemical called soluble beta-amyloid might build up. This chemical can interfere with cognition and worse, kill brain cells. Soluble beta-amyloid in the brain is one of the first warning signs for the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Naiman is concerned because his colleagues don’t believe that dreams are important. He also shared that REM sleep is where memory consolidation takes place and that dreams could be a part of this process. For years, there has been a strong correlation between damaged dreaming and memory loss, shared Dr. Naiman. He stated, “when we don’t dream well, we don’t remember well.”

The link between depression and dreamless sleep has also been documented. In REM sleep, the brain’s paralimbic system, which deals with emotional information processing and other functions, is more active and suppresses the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex that deals with executive functions. The pattern only occurs in REM sleep, and research proves that the brain also processes the consolidation of negative emotional memories.

Drinking alcohol and taking marijuana and sleeping pills also disrupt sleep and dreams. Dr. Naiman advises that one glass of wine after dinner is preferable to binge-drinking at night.

He adds that while some people take marijuana to sleep better, the drug can even cause a “disruptive rush.” To combat interrupted sleep and dreams, Dr. Naiman suggests “effective combinations of exercise, morning light and nutrients with vitamin D” to eliminate the need for sleep disruptions like alcohol, alarm clocks, and drugs.

But what do you do if Dr. Naiman’s suggestions don’t work for you? Here are additional healthy sleep habits you can practice to ensure that you get enough Zs at night:

Read more news about Alzheimer’s and helpful health practices at

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Cleaner water with nanoparticles: Toxic metals such as cadmium can be removed from freshwater safely with this innovative application

Nanotechnology has a multitude of environmental uses, and researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara have discovered another one. They found that sulfurized nano-zero-valent iron (FeSSi) could be used to remove cadmium toxicity from freshwater.

According to, the researchers came to this conclusion after simulating a rain event that washed toxic soil materials into a waterway. Specifically, they dosed Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a type of single-celled freshwater alga, with cadmium-infused FeSSi. They then took measurements after waiting for an hour.

The researchers noted that the FeSSi particles removed well over 80 percent of the water-based cadmium within the hour. Although effective, the FeSSi particles turned out to be several times more toxic after exposure to cadmium. Fortunately, the freshwater alga provided the assistance that the FeSSi articles required.

The researchers found that organic material produced by the alga following photosynthesis greatly diminished the toxicity of the FeSSi particles. Moreover, the organic material supported the nanoparticles’ remediating action on cadmium by up to four times more than when alga-derived organic material is absent.

“The organic material makes the FeSSi particle less toxic, which allows a greater zone of remediation and increases the cadmium concentrations that can be used,” said lead author and postdoctoral scholar Louise Stevenson. “That’s interesting because every natural system contains some organic material.

“Along with the toxic effect of the nanoparticles just on cell viability, we identified an important feedback between organic materials produced by the algae itself decreasing toxicity, which decreases toxicity to the algae.” (Related: Antibacterial book made from nanoparticles of silver and copper cleans water in Third World.)

Their findings, which have been published in ACS Nano, come as a welcome advancement. Cadmium, a naturally occurring heavy metal primarily used for metal plating and coating, is a highly dangerous toxic chemical with various negative health and environmental effects.

Short-term exposure to cadmium can result in such digestive issues as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The liver and kidneys can be affected as well, as cadmium in drinking water has been linked to liver injury and renal failure. Meanwhile, lifetime exposure to cadmium has the potential to cause severe damage to the kidneys, liver, bones, and blood.

These effects have been noted in organisms from both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Cadmium has a tendency to bioaccumulate, as constant exposure to this heavy metal has led to it building up in the kidneys and livers of birds and mammals. Algae and plant life aren’t safe from the effects of cadmium either, as they can store cadmium as well and poison the animals that rely on them for food.

And though cadmium may not be the only heavy metal that could seep into water, the work done by Stevenson and her colleagues is nothing short of encouraging. The impact of nanotechnology on the environment is context specific, making it all the more vital to test the potential of nanotechnology under a wide spectrum of conditions.

As Stevenson explained it: “We’re developing new technology faster than we can predict its environmental impact. That makes it very important to design experiments that are ecologically and environmentally relevant but also get at dynamics that can be extrapolated to other systems.”

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How you deal with your mistakes may determine the difference between making excuses and learning a lesson

“That was a colossal mistake, but I meant well and tried my best, so I’m not going to beat myself up about it.” Sound familiar? We all do it. After all, excusing our mistakes makes us feel better and helps us to cope with the failure. However, an interesting new study conducted by a collaboration of scientists from Kansas, Stanford and Ohio State Universities, has found that while making us feel better temporarily, excusing our mistakes does not have the best long-term outcome. The study was published online in the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making.

The U.K.’s Daily Mail recently reported:

We’re often told [to] avoid dwelling on past mistakes if we want to move forward. But one group of scientists say the opposite may be true. They claim feeling the pain of failure leads to more effort to correct your mistake and perform better in the future. Researchers found that people who just thought about a failure tended to make excuses for why they were unsuccessful. This meant they didn’t try harder when faced with a similar situation.

The research team reached their conclusions after conducting several experiments, one of which involved asking 98 college students to search online for the price of a blender with specific technical specifications. The student who discovered the cheapest blender would win a cash prize.

While they were waiting to find out who had won, the students were divided into two groups. One group was asked to focus on their emotional response to winning or losing, while the other group was told to focus on thinking about how they had done. Each person was told that they would need to write about their responses after the competition.

The experiment was rigged, of course, so that nobody found the lowest priced item – essentially, everybody failed.

The goal of the experiment was to determine how the two groups would handle another task in the future, so the participants were then given an additional task. Some were asked to search for a low-priced book as a gift for a friend (a similar task to the previous one), while the rest were asked to search for a gift book that was simply the best choice for a friend (a non-similar task).

The Times explained the results of the experiments:

Emotionally motivated participants spent nearly 25 percent more time searching for a low-priced book than did participants who had only thought about —rather than dwelled on the pain of — their earlier failure.

There was no significant difference in effort made by participants when the second task wasn’t like the first.

Essentially, the researchers found that people who made mistakes and then allowed themselves to focus on how bad those mistakes made them feel, were more likely to try harder the next time they dealt with a similar situation to avoid experiencing those emotions again. (Related: To learn more about human emotions and how to cope with them visit

“All the advice tells you not to dwell on your mistakes, to not feel bad,” said Selin Malkoc, co-author of the study. “But we found the opposite. When faced with a failure, it is better to focus on one’s emotions — when people concentrate on how bad they feel and how they don’t want to experience these feelings again, they are more likely to try harder the next time.”

Unfortunately, most of us try to protect ourselves from the effects of our mistakes, and protecting our egos often comes first. This emotional distancing makes us less likely to learn from those mistakes and avoid them in the future. (Related: Finnish researchers map how emotions are expressed physically in human bodies.)

So, next time you really mess something up – as all of us do from time to time – try to focus on how bad you feel about it, rather than excusing the error. If the results of the experiment are to be believed, this will set you up for a greater chance of success the next time you deal with a similar situation.

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