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Pop a pill to hit the gym

(World Wise) / 14 July 2012

GETTING YOURSELF to hit the gym everyday to shed those extra pounds could be as easy as popping a pill, sometime in the future. Researchers from the University of Zurich in Switzerland have recently discovered that increasing the amount of hormone erythropoietin (or Epo) in the brain in mice caused them to run faster.

Now, the researchers are working on figuring out that the same results could be possible in human beings. Epo, they say, can motivate human beings to exercise faster in that the hormone has that effect without elevating red blood cells simultaneously.

With obesity and other life style diseases now on the rise and a lot of people not motivated enough to take charge of the situation by working out, the pill could well be the answer to laziness or lethargy. The potential treatment could help people with conditions from obesity to Alzheimer’s disease, where increased physical activity is known to improve symptoms, they insist.

“Here we show that Epo increases the motivation to exercise. Most probably, Epo has a general effect on a person’s mood and might be used in patients suffering from depression and related diseases,” lead study researcher Max Gassmann said recently. We are hoping the earlier the magic pill comes into the market, the better.

Spice up your food!

THE BRITISH JOURNAL of Nutrition recently carried a report that shedding the extra flab might be as easy as kicking up the sizzle factor in your food with extra spice. Red chilies battle flab in multiple ways according to food scientist Stephen Whiting, who says they burn fat,  keep hunger pangs under control and step up the body’s metabolism resulting in calories being burnt at a fast rate  due to the presence of a key chemical component - capsaicin.

Capsaicin provides red chilies the required heat to trigger an adrenalin rush which in turn orders the brain specifically to burn fat cells and tests found fat around the belly was burned most rapidly, according to Whiting who is based in the Manchester Metropolitan University. It is a well known fact that belly fat is the most dangerous type of obesity since it increases the probability of heart disease, especially in mature women.

“If you eat chilies consistently for a good period of time, it will help you lose weight,” Whiting said.

This is because capsaicin, the chemical that gives chilies and other spices such as cayenne and paprika their characteristic pungency, stimulates a process whereby some of the food we eat at each meal is converted immediately to heat. This process, termed diet-induced thermo genesis, uses up carbohydrates the study said showing that we produce more heat after a high-carbohydrate meal of pasta or rice rather than a fatty meal.

According to the studies reported in the British Journal of Nutrition when men and women eat chili-spiked food, they feel less hungry and eat significantly less at subsequent meals. The studies also point out that it could actually be in our interests to eat delicious meals because that is directly proportionate to level of thermogenesis. So what are you waiting for? Grab your shopping bag, buy up a stock of red chilies and toss up a delicious meal. You have nothing to lose but your flab!

Marriage woes and
chasing brides

CHINA’S INCREASING population of young men and the fact that a skewed population growth has left more men in the country than women, has set off a brisk growth in dating sites and mass match-making events for its singletons. Enterprising businessmen now organise events where potential brides and grooms can check each other out and decided if they want to walk up the aisle and live in wedded bliss.

While traditional practices such as a marriage arranged by parents were prevalent decades ago, it was banned in 1950, after which men and women have depended on matches fixed by well–meaning friends to find their significant other. But with more women leaving the country to find their future elsewhere and more men on the look-out for a bride, things have changed in the marriage market. It literally has been transformed into a market now. Just a couple of months ago some 40,000 young people converged at Shanghai City’s Matchmaking Expo where they tried out a variety of ways to find themselves a partner. For some it was the speed-dating events. Others signed up for dating agencies for singles while yet others did not mind brazening it out by taking to the stage to show off their various skills including singing. Small price if that could get them a spouse, seemed to be the prevailing spirit.

The country’s skewed birth ratio (118 boys to every 100 girls) is set to create a huge mismatch of expectations and brides- in fact, in the next 8 years there will be a surplus of about 24m bachelors desperately searching for a bride, in a scenario where women, emboldened by their own financial independence, are taking their own time to choose their partners.

There is no such thing as too much of a good thing in China…..literally. — sudhamenon2006@gmail.com

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