Cooling Inflammation: Contagious Health

Several interesting ideas are presented in this blog post. I have heard of each individually, but they are brought together and related here.

In this sense, hygiene is unhealthy, because an individual is isolated from new sources of bacteria that could replace those lost by limited diets, antibiotics, etc.  Otherwise, health is contagious, since gut bacteria from healthy individuals can spread among the population.  Washing hands and food is unnatural and unhealthy.

via Cooling Inflammation: Contagious Health.

The origins of agriculture

At first, patches of wild cereals were protected and harvested. Later, land was cleared and seeds were planted and tended, to increase quantity and reliability of supply. Exorphins attracted people to settle around cereal patches, abandoning their nomadic lifestyle, and allowed them to display tolerance instead of aggression as population densities rose in these new conditions.

via The origins of agriculture.

Wrong about obesity

So what happened? By the late 1950s, the University of Minnesota nutritionist Ancel Keys was arguing that fat caused heart disease, with little to no real data to back it up. But the American Heart Association quickly threw its weight behind the idea, the health reporters of the era followed, and even Congress got on board. The evidence never came around to support the idea—as the Women’s Health Initiative also demonstrated (PDF)—but with the AHA behind it, the low-fat-is-good-health dogma has dominated nutritional advice to this day. And because a low-fat diet is, by definition, high in carbohydrates, the latter stopped being perceived as inherently fattening and became known instead as “heart-healthy” diet foods.

via Why existing efforts to combat childhood obesity are bound to fail. By Gary Taubes – Time to Trim – Slate Hive.

Why Is Average IQ Higher in Some Places?

Another indication of the importance of the debate on childhood vaccinations. A lot is at stake.

So far, the evidence suggests that infectious disease is a primary cause of the global variation in human intelligence. Since this is a developmental cause, rather than a genetic one, it’s good news for anyone who is interested in reducing global inequality associated with IQ. If the primary factors were genetic, as some have suggested, IQ would be very difficult to change.

via Why Is Average IQ Higher in Some Places?: Scientific American.

Medical science

The problem is that physicians don’t know what they’re doing. That is how David Eddy, MD, PhD, a healthcare economist and senior advisor for health policy and management for Kaiser Permanente, put the problem in a Business Week cover story about how much of healthcare delivery is not based on science. Plenty of proof backs up Eddy’s glib-sounding remark.

via Health Care Myth Busters: Is There a High Degree of Scientific Certainty in Modern Medicine?: Scientific American.

How some brain cells hook up surprises researchers

The research helps move microglia up into the pantheon of brain cells known to affect brain signaling. Years ago, brain signaling was thought to be the exclusive domain of neurons. During the last two decades, scientists have found that astrocytes also have vast signaling networks. Now, microglia also seem to be an important player in the brain’s ability to adapt immediately and constantly to the environment and to shift its resources accordingly.

via How some brain cells hook up surprises researchers: The untold secret life of the humble microglia.

Neurons: Faster than thought and able to multiply

Not only does this theory explain why nerve cells process information much faster than previously thought. It also became clear that neurons do more than just add up pulses: In the decisive moments, they actually multiply. The availability of this mathematical operation, write the scientists, finally explains how the brain is able to execute complex computations. These insights in the basic processes of the brain will in turn inspire more powerful processor architectures in the future.

via Neurons: Faster than thought and able to multiply.