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Issue 137 (Sep - Oct 2020)

Issue 137 (Sep - Oct 2020) 2020

Editorial (Issue 137): Maintaining Our Health

For many of us, health is one of those gifts that is often taken for granted until it is too late. We become used to the ease at which we can complete simple tasks such as writing a letter, eating an apple, or walking up a staircase. Our health also consists of other facets as well, including our mental and spiritual health. Life changes dramatically when even the slightest altercations to our health, in regard to any of these dimensions, becomes noticed. It is important for us to do what we can to strengthen our health, and to be grateful for it while we have it.

Editorial

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Facing Oneself - 5

The Example of the First Circle Around the Prophet and Those Who Followed Them

Uways al-Qarani – an illustrious personage so assiduous at faith and at his relationship with God; one near to Him as possibly as one can be. He was a contemporary of the “age of light” – the time of the Prophet. He saw what needed to be seen and was able to attend the circles of the blessed light. He was a person of the most fortunate kind who had the honor of being among the first generation of believers (ashab) despite himself being born in the next generation (tabi’un). His connection with the Almighty and His Messenger was thorough. With respect to his heaven-bound spiritual progress, he was in line with those in the “blessed circle.” He was held back by his mother’s demand, but he truly was a person imbued with the hue of that circle and a brilliant personage of his own kind [1]. Although he had heard the call, he could not be a Companion (sahaba) to the Prophet, by meeting him physically. Thanks to his perseverance and speed to let his heart and spirit flourish, he became a saintly personage recognized by all; he received much esteem from the early caliphs, and he enjoyed a spiritual position on a par with the Companions.

Lead Article, Highlights

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A Miraculous Fruit – 2: Dates as Nutrition and Medication

In our previous issue we briefly mentioned that the date fruit facilitates delivery and can be eaten to help prevent infertility. This article will continue to examine their manyfold health benefits with a specific focus on their protective features against many diseases.

All essential amino acids

Dates contain 18 of the 20 amino acids found in living creatures. We may sort the quantity of amino acids found in dates from highest to lowest as: Glutamic acid, Aspartic acid, Leucine, Proline, Arginine, Phenylalanine, Valine, Alanine, Serine, Glycine, Iso-leucine (800 times more than an apple), Lisin (2000 times more than an apple and banana), Threonine, Histidine, Tyrosine, Methionine, Cysteine and Tryptophan.

Dates contain all of the 8 essential amino acids that should never be neglected in nutrition and are not made in the body. Additionally, the fact that dates offer 10 non-essential substances that can be made in the body means that all the necessary materials for the synthesis of these proteins, which serve as the basic building blocks of the human body, are present in dates. In this sense, date is a very unique fruit, and this is why a human being could survive on only dates and water for years. V. H. W. Dowson, one of the renowned experts on this subject, says that a date and a glass of milk will be enough to meet a person's daily nutritional needs.

Other fruits are generally poor in protein while dates provide protection of the body against diseases and infections by providing amino acids, proteins, a renewal of cells, and a balance of body fluid. Meat is also useful for the body, but it may not be as useful as dates, especially during pregnancy. As a matter of fact, excessive consumption of meat in such a period may cause poisoning in the body. A diet consisting of light vegetables and fruits, such as dates, is more suitable.

A store of elements and amino acids

Dates contain more than 10 elements that are vital for keeping the human body healthy and fit. A hundred grams of dates contains 65 mg calcium, 521 mg potassium, 20 mg magnesium, 72 mg phosphorus, 2.69 mg iron, 0.06 mg sodium, 0.05 mg copper, 0.06 mg zinc, 0.07 mg manganese, sulfur, chlorine, and selenium as well as other elements that are very important for metabolic processes in the human body. Some studies have reported that the amount of minerals found in dates is three to five times higher than those found in apples, bananas, oranges, and grapes. Sodium and chlorine are effective in the activity of the muscular and nervous systems, in adjusting appetite, and protecting the body from gaining weight. They also take part in regulating the pH level in our blood and the water in the body. Sulfur is part of the amino acids cystine and methionine and is involved in the synthesis of many proteins.

In addition, potassium helps transport oxygen to the brain as a result of which we have clarity of thought. Moreover, it provides alkaline (basic) features that are suitable for body fluids. It stimulates the kidneys to remove toxic body waste, and additionally helps to lower high blood pressure and ensure the formation of healthy skin. Calcium and phosphate are essential minerals for muscles and healthy bone development, whereas magnesium is required for the kidneys and energy metabolism. Iron is necessary for the production of hemoglobin in the red blood cells. A person can meet the need for magnesium by eating 2-3 dates a day, and iron by eating 15 dates a day. These amounts will also prevent anemia.

Having been wisely created as a host of so many substances, dates surely have healing features. Numerous studies have been carried out on its feature of terminating harmful “free radical” molecules as well as its antioxidant, antimutagenic, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, antihyperlipidemic (anti-greasing) effects. Many studies have been done on the protective immune stimulating effects of dates against the stomach, liver, kidney diseases, and cancer. There are also other studies on the benefits of the seeds, pollen, leaves, and syrups of dates.

Antioxidant activity

In studies of its antioxidant effects, the date fruit has been shown to reduce oxidative stress that damages cells. The protective effect of high levels of vitamin C, A, E, and phenolic substances acts as a powerful antioxidant by accelerating the activity of enzymes such as catalase, glutathione reductase and glutathione S-transferase [1].

Anticancer effect

The components of a date have been found to initiate an antitumor activity. Research found that date juice stops the melanoma cell that causes epithelial colorectal adenocarcinoma, which is a type of intestinal cancer and a type of skin cancer [2].

Effects on diabetes, raising of glucose and fat in blood

The glycemic indices of the sugars in dates are as follows: Maltose (105), Glucose (100), Sucrose (68), Lactose (46), and Fructose (23). Their absorption rate by the body is also different. Glucose is absorbed fastest while fructose is absorbed later. These absorption and glycemic index differences show that dates do not raise blood sugar fast and provide an increased feeling of fullness and are a food that can be used easily for diabetics. They do not raise blood sugar rapidly thanks to the fact that the total glycemic index of a date is 39. This may be due to its minerals, phenolic, and phytoestrogen components. Magnesium plays an important role in regulating and secreting the effect of insulin. Zinc, on the other hand, stimulates the production and release of insulin while strengthening the effect of chromium insulin. Selenium has also been shown to promote glucose uptake.

Phenolic compounds delay the absorption of carbohydrates, preventing the rapid rise of sugar in blood. In scientific literature, the antidiabetic effect of dates have been proven. Lab studies have shown that a-glucosidase and a-amylase were suppressed, thereby delaying digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and normalizing glucose levels in plasma. The effect of date leaves, hydro-alcoholic extract and aqueous solution of seeds are also shown. In another study,[3] scientists treated diabetic rats by giving each rat 10 ml of reconstituted date seed powder per day. It was then observed that the serum glucose, cholesterol and triacylglycerol levels of rats returned to normal values.

Anti-inflammatory activity

There is a great deal of research on the anti-inflammatory effects of dates, expediting wound healing processes, and protecting the heart. Al-Qarawi et al. found that the juice obtained from dates is effective in improving the severity of gastric ulceration and reducing histamine and gastrin concentrations. According to the authors, the anti-inflammatory properties of date extract can be explained by its antioxidant effect [4]. In another study conducted on dates grown in Algeria, it was shown that the extract given orally produced a significant reduction in wound edema in Swiss albino mice. Presumably, this effect is due to the suppression of inflammatory cytokine enzymes that can interfere with prostaglandin synthesis of some active substances in date sap.

Antimicrobial activity

There are a lot of studies about cold pressed date juice. A study found that the juice decreased the reproduction of Streptococcus causing febrile disease by 88.5%. Another study found that sap extracts dissolved in water and ethanol have a strong antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica, Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella abec and Enterococ. This germicidal effect is thought to be caused by tannic acid, gallic acid, itaconic acid and ferulic acids that are present in dates [5]. In another study, different degrees of influence were observed between different types of dates. It has been reported to be more efficient against Gram-negative bacteria due to the presence of an outer membrane in Gram-positive bacteria. This effect against microbes is due to phenolic compounds that enable the production of hydrogen peroxide, which stops the growth of bacteria.

Antitoxic activities

There are many studies about the protective effects of dates on the liver, kidney, and nervous system in neutralizing the oxidative stress and poisonous compounds that are obtained from food. It has been shown that p-Sitosterol, a bioactive compound often found in dates, is beneficial for liver injury when date seed powder is added to drinking water [6]. Another study showed the anti-damage effect of the succulent extract of dates on damaged liver cells related to oxidative stress [7].

Kidney-protective role

It is known that toxic substances that enter our body from the environment in various ways can cause great damage to us, especially to our kidneys. An extract prepared from date seeds has been shown to provide significant protection in the kidneys and remove harmful free radicals. This is thought to be due to the proanthocyanidin it contains. Another study showed improvements in mice with impaired renal function.

Scientists concluded that dates show significant improvements in the damage done to the kidneys by aflatoxin, a dangerous fungus that reproduces in foods, which can also be attributed to its antioxidant properties. Scientists believe that the effect here is due to the common effect of melatonin, vitamin E, and ascorbic acid in the extract [8].

Its influence against nerve poisoning

Free radicals have been extensively proven to cause aging and a multitude of age-associated diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and dementia due to circulatory system failure [9]. Antioxidants obtained from plants have long been used to help prevent neurons from weakening and dying [10]. Studies are concentrated on the effectiveness of joint protection by polyphenolic compounds (resembling flavonoids and plant sterols) and the ascorbic acid that is found in date extract.

Its effect on the cardiovascular system

Dates have been used against high blood pressure for centuries. In one study, an enzyme in dates has been shown to suppress a specific blood pressure hormone called angiotensin [11]. High sodium and low potassium intakes increase blood pressure, whereas dates help maintain electrolyte balances and keep blood pressure in control. Magnesium and calcium in dates play a key role in this control [12]. It has been reported that cholesterol absorption and metabolism can be regulated by the suppression of cholesterol production in the liver due to the fermentation of phytoestrogens in dates [13].

In another study, a Pakistani date variety has been shown to be very effective in lowering compounds such as preprandial blood sugar, cholesterol, triacylglycerol, LDL, and VLDL. In another study, some chemical components such as P-sitosterol, proanthocyanidin, catechin, quercetin, anthocyanins, and selenium have been shown to both protect the heart and lower blood fats [14].

Each and every day, scientific studies are teaching us more about dates and how they have been equipped with more features than any other fruit as we strive to unveil the wisdom and mercy among the bounties offered to us in the shape of food.

References

  1. Biglari, F., Al Karkhi A.F.M., Easa, A.M. (2008): Antioxidant activity and phenolic content of various date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) fruits from Iran. Food Chem 2008; 107(4): 1636-41.
  2. Eid, N., Enani, S., Walton G., Corona G., Costabile, A., Gibson, G., Rowland, I., Spencer, J.P.E. (2014): The impact of date palm fruits and their component polyphenols, on gut microbial ecology, bacterial metabolites and colon cancer cell proliferation. J Nutr Sci 3: e46.
  3. Hasan, M., Mohieldein, A. (2016): In Vivo Evaluation of anti-diabetic, hypolipidemic, antioxidative activities of saudi date seed extract on streptozotocin induced diabetic rats. J. Clin. Diagn Res. 10(3): FF06-12.
  4. Al-Qarawi A.A., Abdel-Rahman H., Ali B.H., Mousa H.M., El-Mougy S.A. (2005): The ameliorative effect of dates (Phoenix dactylifera L.) on ethanol-induced gastric ulcer in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 98(3): 313-7.
  5. El Sohaimy S., Abdelwahab A., Brennan C., Aboul-enein A. (2015): Phenolic content, antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of Egyptian date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) fruits. Aust. J. Basic Appl. Sci. 9(1): 141-7.T
  6. Al-Qarawi A.A., Mousa H.M., Ali B.H., Abdel-Rahman H., El-Mougy S.A.(2004): Protective effect of extracts from dates (Phoenix dactylifera L.) on carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatotoxicity in rats. Int. J. Appl. Res. Vet. Med. 2(3): 176-80.
  7. Saafi E.B., Louedi M., Elfeki A., Zakhama A., Najjar M.F., Hammami M., Achour L. (2011): Protective effect of date palm fruit extract (Phoenix dactylifera L.) on dimethoate induced-oxidative stress in rat liver. Exp. Toxicol. Pathol. 63(5): 433-41.
  8. Al-Qarawi A.A., Abdel-Rahman H., Mousa H.M., Ali B.H., El-Mougy S.A.(2008): Nephroprotective Action of Phoenix dactylifera. in Gentamicin-Induced Nephrotoxicity. Pharm. Biol. 46(4): 22730.
  9. Uttara, B.; Singh, A.; Zamboni, P.; Mahajan, R.(2009): Oxidative Stress and Neurodegenerative Diseases: A Review of Upstream and Downstream Antioxidant Therapeutic Options. Curr. Neuropharmacol. 7(1): 65-74.
  10. Pujari R.R., Vyawahare N.S., Kagathara V.G. (2011): Evaluation of antioxidant and neuroprotective effect of date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) against bilateral common carotid artery occlusion in rats. Indian J. Exp. Biol. 49(8): 627-33.
  11. Braga F.C., Serra C.P., Junior N.S.V., Oliveira A.B., Cortes S.F., Lombardi J.A.(2007): Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition by Brazilian plants. Fitoterapia 78(5): 353-8.
  12. Tang Z-X, Shi L-E, Aleid S.M. (2013): Date fruit: chemical composition, nutritional and medicinal values, products. J. Sci. Food Agric. 93(10): 2351-61.
  13. Alsaif M.A., Khan L.K., Alhamdan A.A.H., Alorf S.M., Harfi S.H., Al- Othman A.M., Arif Z.(2007): Effect of dates and gahwa (Arabian coffee) supplementation on lipids in hypercholesterolemic hamsters. Int. J. Pharmacol. 3(2): 123-9.
  14. Auger C., Teissedre P.-L,. Gerain P., Lequeux N., Bornet A., Serisier S., Besancon P., Caporiccio B., Cristol J.-P., Rouanet J.-M.(2005): Dietary wine phenolics catechin, quercetin, and resveratrol efficiently protect hypercholesterolemic hamsters against aortic fatty streak accumulation. J. Agric. Food Chem. 53(6): 2015-21.

Botany

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The Removal of Cares

 

The Removal of Cares is a work comprising forty-five discourses written in the 12th century by Shaikh Abd al-Qadir al Jilani. It is said that God had bestowed upon the Shaikh an opening to his soul.

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Hirudotherapy: An Opportunity for Healing

lllness is a part of our lives; but thankfully we are not left without remedy as long as we know how to search for it. As a matter of fact, the search for remedies for the troubles we’ve had has been going on since the day we were created, and the accumulated knowledge has emerged under different treatment methods. There are many applications known as traditional medicine, alternative medicine or complementary medicine and used in the prevention and treatment of some diseases. Acupuncture, hypnosis, cupping therapy, larval therapy, reflexology, ozone therapy, phytotherapy and hirudotherapy (leech therapy) can be considered in this category.

Health

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The Sci-fi-like Fish That Hibernates Underground

An exceptional oddity occurs in Africa, Australia, and South America during dry seasons: an oval-shaped, cocoon-like structure that is found under the ground which when gently broken open produces a long and curled live fish like something out of a sci-fi movie! One can continue to dig the surrounding area and find hundreds more of these fish peacefully resting under the ground.

Zoology

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The Fruits of Our Labor

The last six months of my melancholy life were spent operating a machine. I was responsible for making sure the reactors were working smoothly, so most of my time at work was spent slowly noticing the horrid conditions of the room that escaped my immediate glances. Thick, black smoke covered its pipes and reactors while a pungent scent of sweat and gasoline permeated the dark facility. I could sometimes not tell the difference between a wall and the standing silhouette of a worker on break.

Perspectives

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Understanding and Defeating Depression

Depression can have a profound impact on a person’s psyche as their mind slowly cascades down a slippery slope towards irrationality. It can cause them to lose all sense of hope, enjoyment, and excitement in life. Activities that usually bring joy and vitality begin to feel unappealing and pointless. Family members and loved ones that normally bring happiness may instead be seen as a burden due to the corrupt lens that they are being viewed from. Life, as it is known, changes dramatically.

Psychology

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Finding and Existence (Wujud) - 2

(Continuing from the previous issue)

The All-Holy Unity (Wahidiya) has an inward and outer aspect. We can call the former the All-Holy Divinity (Uluhiya), and the latter the All-Holy Lordship (Rububiya). Although these two aspects are two faces or aspects of a single truth, there is a slight difference between them which initiates can discern, according to their personal experiences during the journey. For this reason, initiates of varying states, perceptions, and pleasures can experience and interpret certain truths differently. For example, some initiates tend to do away with their carnal souls and egotism, freeing themselves from the considerations of their relative, self-existence, which they regard as an obstacle to feeling the All-Holy Existence with all their hearts. They are rooted in annihilation in God and absorbed in subsistence by God, sipping peace and contentment from the pure water of His company. Others have melted away in the face of the rays that come from the All-Holy Existence to the extent that they are unaware of their own relative existence and their surroundings. More than this, wholly absorbed in the Absolute Existence each according to his or her capacity, they regard experiencing the Absolute Existence and the relative one differently and discriminating one from the other as a dream and the attribution of existence to others than Him as covert polytheism.

Belief, Islamic Sufism, Sufism, Emerald Hills of the Heart

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Homeless

I packed up the car with as many of our belongings as possible, mostly blankets and clothes. I grabbed my Bible and flashlight and quickly put them into the glove box of my rundown car. I told my six children to get in the car and turned for one last look at the place we called home. I believe that people take a home, a place to belong to, for granted. After all, everyone has a house to live in unless you have been evicted and made homeless overnight. I got in the car and must have sat there for an hour before I started the car and drove off. The problem was that I had no place to go. If you want to know fear that cripples you quickly and without mercy then try being homeless, and you will realize that you belong nowhere. 

A Moment for Reflection

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The Sun: How Much Do We Know About Our Heavenly Lamp?

“Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and steadily we reflect upon them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.”
Immanuel Kant

Since the very beginning, humankind has been probing the universe and standing in awe as we learned more and more about it, thus increasing our curiosity even more. Each discovery has revealed how little we collectively knew and has helped to showcase the marvelous creation of the universe.

Highlights, Astronomy

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Separation and Hopes

Again, I remembered the days of separation,
Years mixed with tears passed by.
I shuddered and froze in my place;
Friends had become reconciled with enemies.


While the people swam in deep sleep,
Values were lost one after another...

There is blood and sweat on the brow of the past
Iron fetters on its feet,      
A bitter smile on its lips.
What a red spirit it clashed with...

There is still occasional darkness on the horizon;
However, day follows the night...

Autumn fell in and all the orchards decayed.
Leaves turned yellow and flowers faded.
The hero died, and his steed was tired;
What a huge malicious demon he had fought with.

Now even if it seems impossible for him to return, 
We're waiting for him at romantic dawns...

The crowns that once shone,
The slopes that opened their bosoms to the crowned.
Emerald trees on golden slopes,
Reached the caravan of separation and left.

There's a spark from that frightful extinction
There are messages in the spark from the return.

Poem

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The Kidney – Our Underrated Organ

I had graduated from medical school, passed the specialization exam in medicine, and had been placed in the medical internship I long dreamed of. I was on cloud nine and was dizzy with joy, but it didn't take long for my feet to touch the ground. I soon started to complain about the spells of long surgeries and 12 shifts once a month that sometimes lasted up to 32 hours a “day.” It was not rare when we could not leave for dinner due to consecutive shifts.

Biology

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The Papaya and Its Healing Properties

The Papaya is an exotic and delicious fruit that has recently been making its way into some doctor prescriptions due to its abundance of nutrients and medicinal components. It is a sweet and musk-scented fruit with a shape that resembles a large pear. When ripened, it has a soft texture and a yellowish-orange color. The fleshy part of a Papaya is consumed by peeling off the outer skin and slicing it to pieces, similar to that of a mango. It is more delicious if it is cooled a little after this cutting process. It may taste a little different at first since it is not as sweet as some other fruits are, but one can often get used to its unique taste in time.

Botany

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The Weight of Our Assumptions About Others - 1

Question: While sayings of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, counsel against condemning believers to shame, despising them, and disclosing their faults, they also enjoin not remaining silent and unresponsive before oppression and evil. How is a believer supposed to achieve this balance?

Answer: In such a saying mentioned in the work of Tirmidhi, the Messenger of God states, “Whoever shames his brother for a sin will not die until he commits it also” (Tirmidhi, Sifatu’l Qiyamah, 53). Thus, he forbade shaming others and rebuking them and he pointed out what kind of a consequence awaits those who commit such a sin.

Belief, Questions & Answers

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Science Square (Issue 137)

Cell-based therapy may be used to treat obesity and diabetes

Wang CH et al. CRISPR-engineered human brown-like adipocytes prevent diet-induced obesity and ameliorate metabolic syndrome in mice. Science Translational Medicine, August 2020.

Obesity is the main cause of type 2 diabetes and related chronic diseases that will be the cause of death for more people across the globe this year than Covid-19. Scientists recently have developed a proof of concept for a novel cell-based therapy against obesity. The potential therapy for obesity would transplant HUMBLE (human brown-like) fat cells, or human white fat cells that have been genetically modified to become similar to heat-generating brown fat cells.

Brown fat cells burn energy, instead of storing energy, as white fat cells do. In this process, brown fat can lower excessive levels of glucose and lipids in the blood that are linked to metabolic diseases such as diabetes. However, people who are overweight or obese tend to have less of this beneficial brown fat. The transformed HUMBLE cells are expected to overcome this problem.

The research team first generated HUMBLE cells from white preadipocytes and then used a variant of the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing system to stimulate the expression of a gene called UCP1, which can transform white preadipocytes into fat brown cells. When these HUMBLE cells were transplanted into mice, they then remarkably functioned as the mice’s own brown fat cells. On a high-fat diet, the mice that received HUMBLE cells showed a much higher sensitivity to insulin and the ability to eliminate glucose from the blood than the mice in the control group. They also gained less weight. These results from animal studies are very encouraging for researchers. The hope is to generate HUMBLE brown cells for individual patients soon. Such a procedure would involve taking a small number of white preadipocytes from a patient, isolating the precursor cells, modifying these cells to stimulate UCP1 expression, and then re-transplanting the resulting HUMBLE cells to the patient. However, one foreseeable challenge is that this individualized approach can be very complicated and costly. An alternative solution could be to use unadapted cells, which would then be encapsulated with biomaterials that protect the cells from being rejected by the patient’s immune system.

The other option would be to apply gene therapy approaches that directly express the UCP1 gene in white fat progenitor cells in the body so that those cells acquire HUMBLE-like properties. Employing cell-based, or gene, therapies to treat obesity or diabetes used to be science fiction. Now scientific advances, such as CRISPR gene-editing technologies, will help us to improve the metabolism, body weight, quality of life and overall health of people with obesity and diabetes.

Even fake smiling can trick the brain to be positive

Ramos FM et al. Your Face and Moves Seem Happier When I Smile. Experimental Psychology, May 2020

Can a smile truly make everything better? Is there a scientific backing to this claim? A new study shows that even if you do not feel like smiling, faking one can have positive impacts. These findings could not be more timely with the world in crisis amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which is causing disturbing spikes in anxiety and depression cases globally. The study examined participants that held a pen between their teeth, forcing their faces to use the same muscles as a smile. The results showed that facial muscular activity not only alters the recognition of facial expressions but also bodily expressions, with both generating more positive emotions. Forcefully practicing smiling stimulates the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain, which releases neurotransmitters to encourage an emotionally positive state. For mental health, this study has interesting implications. If we can trick our brains into perceiving stimuli as “happy,” then we can potentially use this mechanism to help boost our mental health. These findings suggest that there is a strong link between action and perception. Perceptual and motor systems work together when we emotionally process stimuli. A “fake it 'til you make it” approach could be more realistic than people think.

FOMO impacts people of all ages

Barry CT et al. Fear of missing out (FoMO): A generational phenomenon or an individual difference? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, August 2020.

In the last few years, the phenomenon of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), has afflicted many of us at one point or another. In the age of social media, we may find ourselves making comparisons to our friends, family, or even celebrities. What others have, or what they are doing that we are not, may make us feel negatively about ourselves. This can lead to anxiety, sadness, jealousy, or anger. A new study showed that FOMO, once thought to be a teenager or young adult problem, can actually have an impact on anyone irrespective of their age.

Scientists conducted a survey of more than 400 people across the United States from ages 14 to 47 and asked a range of questions related to self-perception, life satisfaction, and social media use. Experts were expecting FOMO to be higher among younger groups since teens experience so much social development in such a short space of time, but the results showed a more uniform distribution across all ages. Moreover, they suspected social media to play a large factor in FOMO but quickly found that it was not a good predictor of the condition. For instance, two people with the same social media engagement may be affected quite differently: one might feel bad seeing their friend’s activities while the other might find it upsetting. Instead, social media was found to amplify those anxieties in people that already felt as though they were missing out. Finally, it was neither their age nor social media usage but rather self-perception that shaped to what degree FOMO affected the participants Researchers say that loneliness, low self-esteem, and low self-compassion may substantially contribute to feelings of anxiety. The study concludes that one major solution to FOMO-driven anxiety would be limiting your social media usage or even cutting it off for a time. Additionally, reaching out to professionals to get support to address negative self-perceptions, perhaps by contextualizing “faults” or “flaws” as challenges to overcome.

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