The Pulse: My Trainer is Morbidly Obese

Rewired Gen-om ...

What if you could reprogram your DNA, and improve your ability to cope with stress, simply by being ‘mindful’ of your thoughts and feelings? A new study on the effect of mindfulness on genes suggests just that. While previous research has shown that mindfulness, a form of secular meditation achieved by focusing on the present moment, can reduce stress and improve health, there’s been no biological explanation as to how. Until now. A new study, published in Psychoneuroendocrinology Journal suggests mindfulness works on a genetic level, almost instantly, by downregulating the genes that express inflammation and upregulating the genes that help to regulate cortisol – the major stress hormone. The study provides powerful evidence that our very thoughts can impact genetic expression.

Limb-Saving Socks

Imagine receiving a text from your socks: The laces on your left sneaker are tied too tightly and there’s a pebble under your right heel. That’s the premise of the SenseGo Smart Socks — a new technology designed for diabetics who lose sensitivity in their legs and feet, and, as a result of not sensing pain or discomfort, may damage them extensively. Developed at Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital, Smart Socks are embedded with dozens of pressure sensors that register foot problems as electrical signals relayed to a smartphone app.

I Heart Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are seriously gnarly critters, but new research suggests the bloodsuckers may, in fact, have life-saving potential. Scientists who mapped the genome of the bed bugs found throughout the New York City subway system say the genetic findings may aid the development of better human blood thinners and stroke prevention. That’s because bed bugs process blood in a way that doesn’t clot. Interestingly, bugs in the north and south of the island have more in common than those dwelling on the east and west (blame the subways; few connect east to west vs north to south), according to researchers who are using the data primarily as a means to develop better insecticides. The research, published in Nature Communications journal, highlights the untapped power of DNA to improve health care.

Bogus BMI

My fitness trainer is morbidly obese — at least according to his body mass index (BMI), a measure of height and weight that many people use as a health gauge. But this old-school measure is entirely imprecise. A new study reveals that using BMI incorrectly labels more than 54 million Americans as "unhealthy," even though they are not. In fact, since muscle weighs more than fat, individuals who are particularly lean and muscular can have BMIs that classify as obese; while slender folks with too little muscle have beautiful BMIs. Weight and height are just two of numerous biomarkers to consider when assessing your health trajectory, but if calculators are your thing, check out A Body Shape Index, or ABSI. The measure can reveal more about your risk for dangerous, life-threatening diseases than your body mass index (BMI), weight or waist size alone.

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