Why we shouldn’t like coffee, but we do 0

Why do we like the bitter taste of coffee? Bitterness evolved as a natural warning system to protect the body from harmful substances. By evolutionary logic, we should want to spit it out.

But, it turns out, the more sensitive people are to the bitter taste of caffeine, the more coffee they drink, reports a new study from Northwestern Medicine and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia. The sensitivity is caused by a genetic variant.

“You’d expect that people who are particularly sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine would drink less coffee,” said Marilyn Cornelis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “The opposite results of our study suggest coffee consumers acquire a taste or an ability to detect caffeine due to the learned positive reinforcement (i.e. stimulation) elicited by caffeine.”

In other words, people who have a heightened ability to taste coffee’s bitterness — and particularly the distinct bitter flavor of caffeine — learn to associate “good things with it,” Cornelis said.

Thus, a bigger tab at Starbucks.

The study will be published Nov. 15 in Scientific Reports.

In this study population, people who were more sensitive to caffeine and were drinking a lot of coffee consumed low amounts of tea. But that could just be because they were too busy drinking coffee, Cornelis noted.

The study also found people sensitive to the bitter flavors of quinine and of PROP, a synthetic taste related to the compounds in cruciferous vegetables, avoided coffee. For alcohol, a higher sensitivity to the bitterness of PROP resulted in lower alcohol consumption, particularly of red wine.

“The findings suggest our perception of bitter tastes, informed by our genetics, contributes to the preference for coffee, tea and alcohol,” Cornelis said.

For the study, scientists applied Mendelian randomization, a technique commonly used in disease epidemiology, to test the causal relationship between bitter taste and beverage consumption in more than 400,000 men and women in the United Kingdom. The genetic variants linked to caffeine, quinine and PROP perception were previously identified through genome-wide analysis of solution taste-ratings collected from Australian twins. These genetic variants were then tested for associations with self-reported consumption of coffee, tea and alcohol in the current study.

“Taste has been studied for a long time, but we don’t know the full mechanics of it,” Cornelis said. “Taste is one of the senses. We want to understand it from a biological standpoint.”

 

Sciencedaily.com

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Radio drama improves people’s attitude to health 0

A radio drama project to promote child nutrition, agriculture and maternal/child health issues has shown an improved attitude of listeners to such issues.

According to the project implemented for six months at Saboba and Savelugu Assemblies in the Northern Region in 2018, those, who listened to the radio dramas on child nutrition, agriculture and maternal/child health issues, improved in terms of their attitude towards those issues compared to those, who did not listen.

The project, whose findings were released at a workshop in Tamale on Friday, used radio dramas to propagate messages on good nutrition, health and agricultural practices to listeners to assess if listening to such messages would have any impact on their lives.

It was implemented by the Texas A&M University School of Public Health in the United States, University for Development Studies (UDS), Ghana Health Service (GHS), Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and Community Health Nurses Training College, Tamale.

Dr Mahama Saaka, Senior Lecturer, Department of Nutritional Sciences of UDS, who presented the findings at a forum in Tamale, said even though the attitude of listeners improved, it did not result in a change in their health conditions as malnutrition was still high at the area.

Dr Saaka suggested that Ghana Health Service scale up the project to reach a large number of the population to help change their attitudes to help improve the country’s health indicators.

Professor Lisako McKyer, Associate Dean for Climate and Diversity, Health Promotion and Community Health Science at Texas A&M University was hopeful that the project marked the beginning of a productive partnership amongst the implementers saying “Together, we can and we will positively impact the lives of all.”

Hajia Azara Amadu, Northern Regional Nutrition Officer lauded the project saying it was in line with the behavioural change campaigns of the GHS to promote improved health practices amongst the people.

Source: GNA

Teen Dies of Tapeworm infection after eating under-cooked Pork 0

A man died after eating under-cooked pork caused parasitic larvae to invade his brain.

The 18-year-old, who has not been named but is known to be from India, was rushed to a hospital after he lost consciousness following a seizure.

An MRI brain scan revealed the patient had cysts throughout his brain, with the damage being consistent with the life-threatening condition neurocysticercosis.

Neurocysticercosis occurs when parasitic larvae found in under-cooked pork build-up in the body until they invade the central nervous system, triggering seizures.

Despite doctors’ best efforts to save him, the man died two weeks later.

Results of an MRI scan revealed the man had numerous cysts in his cerebral cortex (pictured as white dots)
Lesions were also found in his brain stem and cerebellum (seen as white dots)

Results of an MRI scan revealed the man had numerous cysts in his cerebral cortex (pictured left as white dots). Lesions were also found in his brain stem and cerebellum (seen right)

The case report was written up in The New England Journal of Medicine by Dr Nishanth Dev, of ESIC Medical College, Faridabad, in the north Indian state of Haryana. Dr Dev treated the patient.

The man was rushed to ESIC Medical College after he endured tonic-clonic seizures.

These occur when an electrical discharge affects the entire brain and cause a patient to lose consciousness immediately.

Tonic-clonic seizures usually last one-to-three minutes.

If they continue for more than five minutes or in quick succession, the patient may require life-saving treatment.

Once at hospital, doctors noted the man seemed confused.

This is common of tonic-clonic seizures, with most patients feeling tired and disorientated for up to several days or even weeks after.

The man’s parents reported he had been complaining of pain in his groin for the past week.

A physical examination also revealed he had swelling in his right eye, as well as tenderness in his right testicle.

An MRI scan showed the patient had numerous cysts in his cerebral cortex – the outermost layer of the brain, which is responsible for thinking and processing information collected via our five senses.

Lesions were also in his brain stem, which is at the base of the vital organ, and sends messages between the brain and the rest of the body.

And cysts were found in his cerebellum – the area at the back of the brain that coordinates voluntary movements, like posture, speech and coordination.

Doctors noted the extent of the man’s brain damage was consistent with that of neurocysticercosis.

Neurocysticercosis occurs when the parasitic larvae Taenia solium invades bodily tissue from the intestine, and build ups in the central nervous system, muscles, skin and eyes.

Serum tests confirmed the man was infected with T. solium.

Doctors decided against treating him with antiparasitic drugs due to them typically worsening inflammation in those who have cysts in their brain.

These medications can also cause cerebral edema – excessive accumulation of water in the brain – and vision loss.

The man was therefore treated with the anti-inflammatory steroid dexamethasone, which is more commonly used to relieve conditions like allergies, arthritis and psoriasis.

He was also given anti-epilepsy drugs.

Sadly, however, it was not enough to save him.

WHAT IS NEUROCYSTICERCOSIS?

Neurocysticercosis is a parasitic infestation caused by larval cysts of the pork tapeworm Taenia solium.

These cysts can enter the brain, leading to life-threatening seizures.

People develop the condition by eating undercooked pork.

They may also swallow microscopic eggs passed in the faeces of a person with an intestinal tapeworm if they do not properly wash their hands after going to the toilet and contaminate surfaces or uncooked food.

The World Health Organization recognises neurocysticercosis as a leading cause of adult epilepsy worldwide.

Neurocysticercosis can be prevented through proper handwashing.

Treatment often involves medication to reduce swelling in the brain and kill tapeworms.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

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