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Death in Malaysia

Penyakit jantung punca utama kematian lelaki dan kedua untuk perempuan di Malaysia.

Berhentilah merokok dan praktikkan gaya hidup sihat. Cegah penyakit.

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10 tips bina kehidupan positif

10 TIPS BINA KEHIDUPAN POSITIF : FB NORIZAN SHARIF

1. Sebaik bangun pagi, gunakan ayat-ayat positif. Elakkan “hoi-hoi” dan marah-marah.

2. Gunakan perkataan baik-baik pada pagi hari untuk bina persekitaran positif. Gunakan panggilan yang suami/isteri, ibubapa, anak-anak, kawan-kawan dan jiran-jiran suka dengar.

3. Berikan senyuman kepada 10 orang pertama yang kita temui sejak bangun tidur. Insya-Allah, senyuman itu akan membawa sampai ke petang.

4. Elakkan manusia toksid. Manusia toksid ialah manusia yang rasa dia seorang betul, semua orang lain salah. Cara dia berfikir ialah semua tak kena. Lari jauh-jauh dari manusia sebegini.

5. Unfriend manusia toksid dari Facebook. Keluar dari WhatsApp group mereka. Berhentikan sesi teh tarik dengan mereka. Nyahkan mereka dari hidup kita.

6. Bayangkan penghujung yang indah untuk hadapi cabaran sementara. Usah biarkan fikiran negatif “tak boleh” tenggelamkan usaha baik.

7. Sentiasa fikir “semua benda boleh ubah” kecuali mati. Sekiranya anda tak suka sesuatu, ubah. Berhenti merungut.

8. Usah benchmark kebahagian kita dengan posting kawan-kawan di Facebook. Bukan semua orang yang kita lihat bahagia di Facebook itu bahagia.

9. Sewaktu dalam kesedihan, ingatlah bahawa langit tak selamanya mendung. Sampai waktu, ia kembali cerah.

10. Sentiasa yakin bahawa Allah swt berikan rezeki dan Allah swt berikan rezeki pada masa yang betul. Bukan semua yang kita mahukan sekarang baik untuk kita. Mulakan hidup seharian dengan berfikiran positif kepada Allah. Insya-Allah nanti mudah kita berfikir positif mengenai diri kita dan orang lain.

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The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage

A great Ted Talk by Susan David (Harvard Medical School psychologist who studies emotional agility) which focuses on society’s “tyranny of positivity” wich demands that cancer patients stay upbeat, that women never show anger and that boys never cry. Which according to Susan David, a dangerous denial of the value and complexity of human emotion.

Main Take-Aways

  • Many people judge themselves for having emotions like anger, grief or sadness. This “new form of moral correctness” denies many human emotions and dictates positivity.
  • Suppressing or denying emotions makes them stronger. Instead, embrace unpleasant emotions as part of your “contract with life.” Only the dead are free of such discomfort.
  • Practice emotional agility, a “lifelong correspondence with your own heart.” Be curious and compassionate about your emotions, and courageously act on your values.
  • Acknowledge and accept all your emotions, and understand what they reveal about your values. Label them precisely to identify their cause and to trigger your brain to act.
  • Workplaces that permit diverse emotional truths see higher engagement and innovation among employees.

Summary of the talk

When psychologist Susan David was 15, she dealt with her father’s death by becoming “the master of being OK.” However, a perceptive teacher handed her a blank notebook and urged her to write honestly about her feelings. The gift taught David to correspond with her emotions. People’s inner landscapes define how they “love, live, parent” and “lead.” Yet, a survey of more than 70,000 people found that one-third judged themselves for feeling so-called bad emotions, like anger or grief, or tried to deny those feelings. Despite life’s complexity, society classifies some emotions as legitimate and others as shameful. Such “rigidity in the face of complexity is toxic” and feeds a culture of tyrannical positivity. Moreover, people often force this “new form of moral correctness” on loved ones by shaming their difficult emotions or leaping into solution mode.

Bottling or denying emotions strengthens them. Indeed, “internal pain always comes out.” Only the dead are free from discomfort, disappointment, stress, and other unpleasant feelings. View these emotions as part of your “contract with life.” Embrace emotional agility, a “lifelong correspondence with your own heart” that starts with accepting tender, messy emotions. Stop thinking about what you should feel, and discover what you do feel. Acceptance will lead you to resilience and happiness. Precisely label your emotions: Are you truly feeling stressed, or are you disappointed? Naming your emotion helps reveal its cause and triggers your brain to take steps that are right for you. Your emotions are data about what you value, and they enable you to act according to your values. However, emotions shouldn’t dictate your behavior. Acknowledge and learn from them without letting them take charge.

For instance, avoid framing any emotion with an “I am” statement – for example, “I’m frustrated.” This conflates your identity with your emotion. Instead, say, “I’m noticing that I’m feeling frustrated.” Emotional agility means being curious and compassionate about your emotions and having the courage to act on your values.

“When we push aside normal emotions to embrace false positivity, we lose our capacity to develop skills to deal with the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.”

Normalizing human emotion in the workplace frees individuals to ask themselves vital questions:

“What is my emotion telling me?”

“Which action will bring me toward my values?”

“Which will take me away from my values?”

This “individualized consideration” propels people toward their best selves, making them more engaged and innovative. Thus, organizations thrive when they nurture emotional truth. The world remains an uncertain place, but emotional agility boosts resilience amid life’s vicissitudes.

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A love letter to realism in a time of grief

A Ted Talk By Mark Pollock and Simone George.

A awesome and mind-blowing perspective and experience on relationship, love and hope.

When faced with life’s toughest circumstances, how should we respond: as an optimist, a realist or something else? In an unforgettable talk, explorer Mark Pollock and human rights lawyer Simone George explore the tension between acceptance and hope in times of grief — and share the groundbreaking work they’re undertaking to cure paralysis.

Remark : Simone George (SG) , Mark Pollock (MP)

Simone George: I met Mark when he was just blind. I had returned home to live in Dublin after the odyssey that was my 20s, educating my interest in human rights and equality in university, traveling the world, like my nomad grandmother. And during a two-year stint working in Madrid, dancing many nights till morning in salsa clubs. When I met Mark, he asked me to teach him to dance. And I did.

They were wonderful times, long nights talking, becoming friends and eventually falling for each other. Mark had lost his sight when he was 22, and the man that I met eight years later was rebuilding his identity, the cornerstone of which was this incredible spirit that had taken him to the Gobi Desert, where he ran six marathons in seven days. And to marathons at the North Pole, and from Everest Base Camp.

When I asked him what had led to this high-octane life, he quoted Nietzsche: “He, who has a Why to live, can bear with almost any How.” He had come across the quote in a really beautiful book called “Man’s Search for Meaning,” by Viktor Frankl, a neurologist and psychiatrist who survived years in a Nazi concentration camp. Frankl used this Nietzsche quote to explain to us that when we can no longer change our circumstances, we are challenged to change ourselves.

Mark Pollock: Eventually, I did rebuild my identity, and the Why for me was about competing again, because pursuing success and risking failure was simply how I felt normal. And I finished the rebuild on the 10th anniversary of losing my sight. I took part in a 43-day expedition race in the coldest, most remote, most challenging place on earth. It was the first race to the South Pole since Shackleton, Scott and Amundsen set foot in Antarctica, 100 years before. And putting the demons of blindness behind me with every step towards the pole, it offered me a long-lasting sense of contentment.

As it turned out, I would need that in reserve, because one year after my return, in, arguably, the safest place on earth, a bedroom at a friend’s house, I fell from a third-story window onto the concrete below. I don’t know how it happened. I think I must have got up to go to the bathroom. And because I’m blind, I used to run my hand along the wall to find my way. That night, my hand found an open space where the closed window should have been. And I cartwheeled out. My friends who found me thought I was dead. When I got to hospital, the doctors thought I was going to die, and when I realized what was happening to me, I thought that dying might have been …might have been the best outcome. And lying in intensive care, facing the prospect of being blind and paralyzed, high on morphine, I was trying to make sense of what was going on.

And one night, lying flat on my back, I felt for my phone to write a blog, trying to explain how I should respond. It was called “Optimist, Realist or Something Else?” and it drew on the experiences of Admiral Stockdale, who was a POW in the Vietnam war. He was incarcerated, tortured, for over seven years. His circumstances were bleak, but he survived. The ones who didn’t survive were the optimists. They said, “We’ll be out by Christmas,” and Christmas would come and Christmas would go, and then it would be Christmas again, and when they didn’t get out, they became disappointed, demoralized and many of them died in their cells. Stockdale was a realist. He was inspired by the stoic philosophers, and he confronted the brutal facts of his circumstances while maintaining a faith that he would prevail in the end. And in that blog, I was trying to apply his thinking as a realist to my increasingly bleak circumstances.

During the many months of heart infections and kidney infections after my fall, at the very edge of survival, Simone and I faced the fundamental question: How do you resolve the tension between acceptance and hope? And it’s that that we want to explore with you now.

SG: After I got the call, I caught the first flight to England and arrived into the brightly lit intensive care ward, where Mark was lying naked, just under a sheet, connected to machines that were monitoring if he would live. I said, “I’m here, Mark.” And he cried tears he seemed to have saved just for me. I wanted to gather him in my arms, but I couldn’t move him, and so I kissed him the way you kiss a newborn baby, terrified of their fragility. Later that afternoon, when the bad news had been laid out for us — fractured skull, bleeds on his brain, a possible torn aorta and a spine broken in two places, no movement or feeling below his waist — Mark said to me, “Come here.You need to get yourself as far away from this as possible.” As I tried to process what he was saying, I was thinking, “What the hell is wrong with you?”

“We can’t do this now.” So I asked him, “Are you breaking up with me?”

And he said, “Look, you signed up for the blindness, but not this.” And I answered, “We don’t even know what this is, but what I do know is what I can’t handle right now is a breakup while someone I love is in intensive care.”

So I called on my negotiation skills and suggested we make a deal. I said, “I will stay with you as long as you need me, as long as your back needs me. And when you no longer need me, then we talk about our relationship.” Like a contract with the possibility to renew in six months.

He agreed and I stayed. In fact, I refused to go home even to pack a bag, I slept by his bed, when he could eat, I made all his food, and we cried, one or other or both of us together, every day. I made all the complicated decisions with the doctors, I climbed right into that raging river over rapids that was sweeping Mark along. And at the first bend in that river, Mark’s surgeon told us what movement and feeling he doesn’t get back in the first 12 weeks, he’s unlikely to get back at all.

So, sitting by his bed, I began to research why, after this period they call spinal shock, there’s no recovery, there’s no therapy, there’s no cure, there’s no hope. And the internet became this portal to a magical other world. I emailed scientists, and they broke through paywalls and sent me their medical journal and science journal articles directly. I read everything that “Superman” actor Christopher Reeve had achieved, after a fall from a horse left him paralyzed from the neck down and ventilated. Christopher had broken this 12-week spell; he had regained some movement and feeling years after his accident. He dreamed of a world of empty wheelchairs. And Christopher and the scientists he worked with fueled us with hope.

MP: You see, spinal cord injury strikes at the very heart of what it means to be human. And it had turned me from my upright, standing, running form, into a seated compromise of myself. And it’s not just the lack of feeling and movement. Paralysis also interferes with the body’s internal systems, which are designed to keep us alive. Multiple infections, nerve pain, spasms, shortened life spans are common. And these are the things that exhaust even the most determined of the 60 million people around the world who are paralyzed.

Over 16 months in hospital, Simone and I were presented with the expert view that hoping for a cure had proven to be psychologically damaging. It was like the formal medical system was canceling hope in favor of acceptance alone. But canceling hope ran contrary to everything that we believed in. Yes, up to this point in history, it had proven to be impossible to find a cure for paralysis, but history is filled with the kinds of the impossible made possible through human endeavor. The kind of human endeavor that took explorers to the South Pole at the start of the last century. And the kind of human endeavor that will take adventurers to Mars in the early part of this century. So we started asking, “Why can’t that same human endeavor cure paralysis in our lifetime?”

SG: Well, we really believed that it can. My research taught us that we needed to remind Mark’s damaged and dormant spinal cord of its upright, standing, running form, and we found San Francisco-based engineers at Ekso Bionics, who created this robotic exoskeleton that would allow Mark to stand and walk in the lab that we started to build in Dublin. Mark became the first person to personally own an exo, and since then, he and the robot have walked over one million steps.

It was bit of an early celebration, because actually it wasn’t enough, the robot was doing all of the work, so we needed to plug Mark in.So we connected the San Francisco engineers with a true visionary in UCLA, Dr. Reggie Edgerton, the most beautiful man and his team’s life work had resulted in a scientific breakthrough. Using electrical stimulation of the spinal cord, a number of subjects have been able to stand, and because of that, regain some movement and feeling and most importantly, to regain some of the body’s internal functions that are designed to keep us alive and to make that life a pleasure. Electrical stimulation of the spinal cord, we think, is the first meaningful therapy ever for paralyzed people.

Now, of course, the San Francisco engineers and the scientists in UCLA knew about each other, knew about each other’s work. But as so often happens when we’re busy creating groundbreaking scientific research, they hadn’t quite yet got together. That seemed to be our job now. So we created our first collaboration, and the moment when we combined the electrical stimulation of Mark’s spinal cord,as he walked in his robotic exoskeleton, was like that moment when Iron Man plugs the mini arc reactor into his chest and suddenly he and his suit become something else altogether.

MP: Simone, my robot and I moved into the lab at UCLA for three months. And every day, Reggie and his team put electrodes onto the skin on my lower back, pushed electricity into my spinal cord to excite my nervous system, as I walked in my exo. And for the first time since I was paralyzed, I could feel my legs underneath me. Not normally —

It wasn’t a normal feeling, but with the stimulator turned on, upright in my exo, my legs felt substantial. I could feel the meat of my muscles on the bones of my legs, and as I walked, because of the stimulation, I was able to voluntarily move my paralyzed legs. And as I did more, the robot intelligently did less. My heart rate got a normal running, training zone of 140 to 160 beats per minute, and my muscles, which had almost entirely disappeared, started to come back. And during some standard testing throughout the process, flat on my back, twelve weeks, six months and three whole years after I fell out that window and became paralyzed, the scientists turned the stimulator on and I pulled my knee to my chest.

SG: Yeah, yeah, go on, Mark, go on, go, go, go, go, go, wow!

SG: Well done!

MP: Do you know, this week, I’ve been saying to Simone, if we could forget about the paralysis, you know, the last few years have been incredibly exciting.

Now, the problem is, we can’t quite forget about the paralysis just yet. And clearly, we’re not finished, because when we left that pilot study and went back to Dublin, I rolled home in my wheelchair and I’m still paralyzed and I’m still blind and we’re primarily focusing on the paralysis at the moment, but being at this conference, we’re kind of interested if anyone does have a cure for blindness, we’ll take that as well.

But if you remember the blog that I mentioned, it posed a question of how we should respond, optimist, realist or something else? And I think we have come to understand that the optimists rely on hope alone and they risk being disappointed and demoralized. The realists, on the other hand, they accept the brutal facts and they keep hope alive, as well. The realists have managed to resolve the tension between acceptance and hope by running them in parallel. And that’s what Simone and I have been trying to do over the last number of years.

Look, I accept the wheelchair — I mean, it’s almost impossible not to. And we’re sad, sometimes, for what we’ve lost. I accept that I, and other wheelchair users, can and do live fulfilling lives, despite the nerve pain and the spasms and the infections and the shortened life spans. And I accept that it is way more difficult for people who are paralyzed from the neck down. For those who rely on ventilators to breathe, and for those who don’t have access to adequate, free health care. So, that is why we also hope for another life. A life where we have created a cure through collaboration. A cure that we are actively working to release from university labs around the world and share with everyone who needs it.

SG: I met Mark when he was just blind. He asked me to teach him to dance, and I did. One night, after dance classes, I turned to say goodnight to him at his front door, and to his gorgeous guide dog, Larry. I realized, that in switching all the lights off in the apartmentbefore I left, that I was leaving him in the dark. I burst into uncontrollable tears and tried to hide it, but he knew. And he hugged me and said, “Ah, poor Simone. You’re back in 1998, when I went blind. Don’t worry, it turns out OK in the end.”

Acceptance is knowing that grief is a raging river. And you have to get into it. Because when you do, it carries you to the next place. It eventually takes you to open land, somewhere where it will turn out OK in the end.

And it truly has been a love story, an expansive, abundant, deeply satisfying kind of love for our fellow humans and everyone in this act of creation. Science is love. Everyone we’ve met in this field just wants to get their work from the bench and into people’s lives. And it’s our job to help them to do that. Because when we do, we and everyone with us in this act of creation will be able to say, “We did it. And then we danced.”

SG: Thank you.

MP: Thank you.

Thank you.

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Best Back Exercises With Dumbbells

Whether you’re working out with dumbbells by choice or for lack of a barbell, you’ll be glad to hear that dumbbells can actually provide an expedited route to muscle growth—and a broader, more muscular back.

Working out with dumbbells requires a greater amount of stabilization, activating more muscle fibers and increasing muscle activity, says Daniel Giordano, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., co-founder of Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy and Fitness.

“They are also easier on your joints,” he says. “You have the advantage of fine-tuning the position of the weights, as opposed to being locked in place with a barbell.”

Below are eight back-building exercises—assembled by Dr. Giordano to cover your entire back, and light up your arms in the process—that require nothing more than a pair of dumbbells to perform. You don’t even need a bench.

Exercise: Reverse Fly

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Target: Posterior deltoids, posterior rotator cuff, upper back muscles

Set your feet shoulder width apart, then hinge at your hips until your torso is almost parallel with the floor. The dumbbells shall hang straight down from your shoulders, with your elbows slightly bent (not fully straight) and palms facing each other.

Keeping your core tight and back flat, pull your shoulder blades down and back (depress and retract), then raise your arms out to the side until your elbows are at shoulder height. Pause, then slowly return to the starting position.

Exercise: Ys

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Target: Lower trapezius, postural muscles

Set your feet shoulder width apart, then hinge at your hips until your torso is almost parallel with the floor. The dumbbells shall hang straight down from your shoulders, with your elbows slightly bent (not fully straight) and palms facing each other.

Keeping your core tight and back flat, pull your shoulder blades down and back (depress and retract), then raise your arms in front of you, thumbs pointed towards sky, until your elbows reach shoulder height. Your torso and arms should resemble a Y. Pause, then slowly return to the starting position.

Exercise: Upright Row

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Target: Upper trapezius, deltoids

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, dumbbells hanging in front of  your body with your elbows slightly bent (not fully straight) and palms facing you.

Pull your shoulder blades down and back, flex your elbows, and pull the dumbbells up towards your chin until the dumbbells cross your lower chest and your elbows are at shoulder height.

Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.

Exercise: Shrug

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Target: Upper and middle trapezius, levator scapulae

Set feet shoulder width apart. Allow the dumbbells to hang at your sides, palms facing each other, with your elbows slightly bent (not fully straight).

Pull your shoulder blades down and back. While maintaining this position, shrug your shoulders up towards your ears. Pause, then lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.

Exercise: Narrow Row

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Target: Latissimus dorsi, rear deltoids, rhomboid, trapezius

Grab the desired dumbbells.

Set your feet shoulder width apart, then hinge at your hips until your torso is almost parallel with the floor. The dumbbells shall hang straight down from your shoulders, with your elbows slightly bent (not fully straight) and palms facing each other.

Keeping your core tight and back flat, draw your shoulder blades down and back (depress and retract), pulling them together, and then row the dumbbells up until your elbows are in line with your ribcage. Pause then slowly return to the starting position.

Exercise: Wide Row

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Target: Rear deltoids, rhomboids, trapezius

Set your feet shoulder width apart, then hinge at your hips until your torso is almost parallel with the floor. The dumbbells shall hang straight down from your shoulders, with your elbows slightly bent (not fully straight) and palms facing you.

Keeping your core tight and back flat, draw your shoulder blades down and back (depress and retract), pulling them together. As you row the dumbbells up, point your elbows outwards, perpendicular to your torso. Pause once your upper arms are parallel with the floor, then slowly return to the starting position.

Exercise: Romanian Deadlift

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Target: Erector spinae, iliocastalis, longissimus, spinalis, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings

Set your feet shoulder width apart. Hold the dumbbells in front of your thighs with palms facing you.

Maintaining a tight core and flat back, hinge at the hips to push your butt back. With control, lower your torso until the dumbbells pass your knees or you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.

Thrust your hips forward, standing tall into the starting position.

Exercise: Lat Pullover

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Target: Latissimus dorsi, triceps, rhomboids, rear deltoids

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart.

Grab the desired dumbbells and press them over your chest with your palms facing each other. Allow for a slight bend in your elbows. Maintaining a flat back, lower the weights toward the floor behind your head until your arms are in line with your torso. This is your starting position.

Engage your lats and, maintaining only a slight bend in your elbows, raise the weight until it is above your chest. Pause, then return to the starting position.

Source: Askmen.com

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Mamak jadi kawasan larangan merokok?

Restoran Terbuka Akan Jadi Kawasan Larangan Merokok!

KUALA LUMPUR 5 Sept. – Mulai Disember tahun ini, semua restoran terbuka akan diisytiharkan sebagai kawasan larangan merokok.

Timbalan Menteri Kesihatan, Dr. Lee Boon Chye berkata, pihaknya masih dalam peringkat perbincangan dengan beberapa pihak berkepentingan berhubung cadangan berkenaan.

Katanya, langkah ini merupakan inisiatif kementerian bagi memperluaskan lagi kawasan larangan merokok di bawah Peraturan-Peraturan Kawalan Hasil Tembakau (Pindaan) 2017.

“Pewartaan ini adalah komitmen Malaysia sebagai negara anggota kepada Konvensyen Rangka Kerja Kawalan Tembakau dan mematuhi panduan di bawah Artikel 8, Pertubuhan Kesihatan Sedunia (WHO). Ia juga merupakan salah satu inisiatif kementerian untuk melindungi orang awam dari bahaya asap rokok.

“Saya memohon sokongan anda semua. Jika peraturan ini tidak dipatuhi, boleh dikenakan denda RM10,000 dan penjara tidak lebih dua tahun,” katanya sewaktu menggulung perbahasan usul menjunjung kasih titah ucapan Yang di-Pertuan Agong bagi Kementerian Kesihatan dalam sidang Dewan Negara di sini hari ini.

Tambah Boon Chye, selain restoran terbuka, pihaknya turut mencadangkan bilik merokok di Parlimen ditutup mulai Oktober ini bagi menjadikan keseluruhan kawasan berkenaan sebagai bebas merokok. -UTUSAN ONLINE

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How data is helping us unravel the mysteries of the brain

Geneticist Steve McCarroll wants to make an atlas of all the cells in the human body so that we can understand in precise detail how specific genes work, especially in the brain. In this fascinating talk, he shares his team’s progress — including their invention of “Drop-seq,” a technology that allows scientists to analyze individual cells at a scale that was never before possible — and describes how this research could lead to new ways of treating mental illnesses like schizophrenia.

The talk transcript:

Nine years ago, my sister discovered lumps in her neck and arm and was diagnosed with cancer. From that day, she started to benefitfrom the understanding that science has of cancer. Every time she went to the doctor, they measured specific molecules that gave them information about how she was doing and what to do next. New medical options became available every few years. Everyone recognized that she was struggling heroically with a biological illness. This spring, she received an innovative new medical treatment in a clinical trial. It dramatically knocked back her cancer. Guess who I’m going to spend this Thanksgiving with? My vivacious sister, who gets more exercise than I do, and who, like perhaps many people in this room, increasingly talks about a lethal illness in the past tense.Science can, in our lifetimes — even in a decade — transform what it means to have a specific illness.

But not for all illnesses. My friend Robert and I were classmates in graduate school. Robert was smart, but with each passing month,his thinking seemed to become more disorganized. He dropped out of school, got a job in a store … But that, too, became too complicated. Robert became fearful and withdrawn. A year and a half later, he started hearing voices and believing that people were following him. Doctors diagnosed him with schizophrenia, and they gave him the best drug they could. That drug makes the voices somewhat quieter, but it didn’t restore his bright mind or his social connectedness. Robert struggled to remain connected to the worlds of school and work and friends. He drifted away, and today I don’t know where to find him. If he watches this, I hope he’ll find me.

Why does medicine have so much to offer my sister, and so much less to offer millions of people like Robert? The need is there. The World Health Organization estimates that brain illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression are the world’s largest cause of lost years of life and work. That’s in part because these illnesses often strike early in life, in many ways, in the prime of life, just as people are finishing their educations, starting careers, forming relationships and families. These illnesses can result in suicide; they often compromise one’s ability to work at one’s full potential; and they’re the cause of so many tragedies harder to measure: lost relationships and connections, missed opportunities to pursue dreams and ideas. These illnesses limit human possibilities in ways we simply cannot measure.

We live in an era in which there’s profound medical progress on so many other fronts. My sister’s cancer story is a great example, and we could say the same of heart disease. Drugs like statins will prevent millions of heart attacks and strokes. When you look at these areas of profound medical progress in our lifetimes, they have a narrative in common: scientists discovered molecules that matter to an illness, they developed ways to detect and measure those molecules in the body, and they developed ways to interfere with those molecules using other molecules — medicines. It’s a strategy that has worked again and again and again. But when it comes to the brain, that strategy has been limited, because today, we don’t know nearly enough, yet, about how the brain works. We need to learn which of our cells matter to each illness, and which molecules in those cells matter to each illness. And that’s the mission I want to tell you about today.

My lab develops technologies with which we try to turn the brain into a big-data problem. You see, before I became a biologist, I worked in computers and math, and I learned this lesson: wherever you can collect vast amounts of the right kinds of data about the functioning of a system, you can use computers in powerful new ways to make sense of that system and learn how it works. Today, big-data approaches are transforming ever-larger sectors of our economy, and they could do the same in biology and medicine, too. But you have to have the right kinds of data. You have to have data about the right things. And that often requires new technologies and ideas.And that is the mission that animates the scientists in my lab.

Today, I want to tell you two short stories from our work. One fundamental obstacle we face in trying to turn the brain into a big-data problem is that our brains are composed of and built from billions of cells. And our cells are not generalists; they’re specialists. Like humans at work, they specialize into thousands of different cellular careers, or cell types.

In fact, each of the cell types in our body could probably give a lively TED Talk about what it does at work. But as scientists, we don’t even know today how many cell types there are, and we don’t know what the titles of most of those talks would be. Now, we know many important things about cell types. They can differ dramatically in size and shape. One will respond to a molecule that the other doesn’t respond to, they’ll make different molecules. But science has largely been reaching these insights in an ad hoc way, one cell type at a time, one molecule at a time. We wanted to make it possible to learn all of this quickly and systematically.

Now, until recently, it was the case that if you wanted to inventory all of the molecules in a part of the brain or any organ, you had to first grind it up into a kind of cellular smoothie. But that’s a problem. As soon as you’ve ground up the cells, you can only study the contents of the average cell — not the individual cells. Imagine if you were trying to understand how a big city like New York works, but you could only do so by reviewing some statistics about the average resident of New York. Of course, you wouldn’t learn very much, because everything that’s interesting and important and exciting is in all the diversity and the specializations. And the same thing is true of our cells. And we wanted to make it possible to study the brain not as a cellular smoothie but as a cellular fruit salad, in which one could generate data about and learn from each individual piece of fruit.

So we developed a technology for doing that. You’re about to see a movie of it. Here we’re packaging tens of thousands of individual cells, each into its own tiny water droplet for its own molecular analysis. When a cell lands in a droplet, it’s greeted by a tiny bead, and that bead delivers millions of DNA bar code molecules. And each bead delivers a different bar code sequence to a different cell. We incorporate the DNA bar codes into each cell’s RNA molecules. Those are the molecular transcripts it’s making of the specific genes that it’s using to do its job. And then we sequence billions of these combined molecules and use the sequences to tell us which cell and which gene every molecule came from.

We call this approach “Drop-seq,” because we use droplets to separate the cells for analysis, and we use DNA sequences to tag and inventory and keep track of everything. And now, whenever we do an experiment, we analyze tens of thousands of individual cells. And today in this area of science, the challenge is increasingly how to learn as much as we can as quickly as we can from these vast data sets.

When we were developing Drop-seq, people used to tell us, “Oh, this is going to make you guys the go-to for every major brain project.”That’s not how we saw it. Science is best when everyone is generating lots of exciting data. So we wrote a 25-page instruction book,with which any scientist could build their own Drop-seq system from scratch. And that instruction book has been downloaded from our lab website 50,000 times in the past two years. We wrote software that any scientist could use to analyze the data from Drop-seq experiments, and that software is also free, and it’s been downloaded from our website 30,000 times in the past two years. And hundreds of labs have written us about discoveries that they’ve made using this approach. Today, this technology is being used to make a human cell atlas. It will be an atlas of all of the cell types in the human body and the specific genes that each cell type uses to do its job.

Now I want to tell you about a second challenge that we face in trying to turn the brain into a big data problem. And that challenge is that we’d like to learn from the brains of hundreds of thousands of living people. But our brains are not physically accessible while we’re living. But how can we discover molecular factors if we can’t hold the molecules? An answer comes from the fact that the most informative molecules, proteins, are encoded in our DNA, which has the recipes our cells follow to make all of our proteins. And these recipes vary from person to person to person in ways that cause the proteins to vary from person to person in their precise sequenceand in how much each cell type makes of each protein. It’s all encoded in our DNA, and it’s all genetics, but it’s not the genetics that we learned about in school.

Do you remember big B, little b? If you inherit big B, you get brown eyes? It’s simple. Very few traits are that simple. Even eye color is shaped by much more than a single pigment molecule. And something as complex as the function of our brains is shaped by the interaction of thousands of genes. And each of these genes varies meaningfully from person to person to person, and each of us is a unique combination of that variation. It’s a big data opportunity. And today, it’s increasingly possible to make progress on a scale that was never possible before. People are contributing to genetic studies in record numbers, and scientists around the world are sharing the data with one another to speed progress.

I want to tell you a short story about a discovery we recently made about the genetics of schizophrenia. It was made possible by 50,000 people from 30 countries, who contributed their DNA to genetic research on schizophrenia. It had been known for several years that the human genome’s largest influence on risk of schizophrenia comes from a part of the genome that encodes many of the molecules in our immune system. But it wasn’t clear which gene was responsible. A scientist in my lab developed a new way to analyze DNA with computers, and he discovered something very surprising. He found that a gene called “complement component 4” — it’s called “C4” for short — comes in dozens of different forms in different people’s genomes, and these different forms make different amounts of C4 protein in our brains. And he found that the more C4 protein our genes make, the greater our risk for schizophrenia.

Now, C4 is still just one risk factor in a complex system. This isn’t big B, but it’s an insight about a molecule that matters. Complement proteins like C4 were known for a long time for their roles in the immune system, where they act as a kind of molecular Post-it note that says, “Eat me.” And that Post-it note gets put on lots of debris and dead cells in our bodies and invites immune cells to eliminate them.But two colleagues of mine found that the C4 Post-it note also gets put on synapses in the brain and prompts their elimination. Now, the creation and elimination of synapses is a normal part of human development and learning. Our brains create and eliminate synapses all the time. But our genetic results suggest that in schizophrenia, the elimination process may go into overdrive.

Scientists at many drug companies tell me they’re excited about this discovery, because they’ve been working on complement proteins for years in the immune system, and they’ve learned a lot about how they work. They’ve even developed molecules that interfere with complement proteins, and they’re starting to test them in the brain as well as the immune system. It’s potentially a path toward a drug that might address a root cause rather than an individual symptom, and we hope very much that this work by many scientists over many years will be successful.

But C4 is just one example of the potential for data-driven scientific approaches to open new fronts on medical problems that are centuries old. There are hundreds of places in our genomes that shape risk for brain illnesses, and any one of them could lead us to the next molecular insight about a molecule that matters. And there are hundreds of cell types that use these genes in different combinations. As we and other scientists work to generate the rest of the data that’s needed and to learn all that we can from that data,we hope to open many more new fronts. Genetics and single-cell analysis are just two ways of trying to turn the brain into a big data problem.

There is so much more we can do. Scientists in my lab are creating a technology for quickly mapping the synaptic connections in the brain to tell which neurons are talking to which other neurons and how that conversation changes throughout life and during illness. And we’re developing a way to test in a single tube how cells with hundreds of different people’s genomes respond differently to the same stimulus. These projects bring together people with diverse backgrounds and training and interests — biology, computers, chemistry, math, statistics, engineering. But the scientific possibilities rally people with diverse interests into working intensely together.

What’s the future that we could hope to create? Consider cancer. We’ve moved from an era of ignorance about what causes cancer, in which cancer was commonly ascribed to personal psychological characteristics, to a modern molecular understanding of the true biological causes of cancer. That understanding today leads to innovative medicine after innovative medicine, and although there’s still so much work to do, we’re already surrounded by people who have been cured of cancers that were considered untreatable a generation ago. And millions of cancer survivors like my sister find themselves with years of life that they didn’t take for granted and new opportunities for work and joy and human connection. That is the future that we are determined to create around mental illness –one of real understanding and empathy and limitless possibility.

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Is Intermittent Fasting Really Helpful For Weight Loss?

Proponents of intermittent fasting say it can help regulate hormones and aid with fast, sustained weight loss.

But will it work for you?

Here, we explore some of the idea behind intermittent fasting and whether it’s an effective weight loss strategy.

WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?

Intermittent fasting is more about when you eat rather than what you eat. A typical plan puts you on a scheduled fasting phase followed by a non-fasting phase. The former is where you may skip meals or eat significantly fewer calories to generate the energy deficit needed for weight loss.

This allows more food flexibility and higher calorie goals in the latter phase.

A typical, calorie-restriction weight loss plan encourages a small daily restriction of 250–1,000 calories depending on how much weight you have to lose and how fast you want to lose it. While this may seem like a lot, it’s small compared to the thousands of calories slashed during the fasting phase of an intermittent fasting plan.

IS INTERMITTENT FASTING EFFECTIVE FOR WEIGHT LOSS?

Intermittent fasting can be effective for weight loss although it’s not necessarily better than other methods, according to a 2015 review of 12 clinical trials. More recently, a 2017 randomized controlled trial of 100 healthy but obese adults found that after one year, weight loss was comparable between intermittent fasting and daily calorie restriction.

Choosing intermittent fasting over more traditional calorie restriction comes down to individual preference and biology. We are culturally conditioned to eat three square meals with snacks in between, but that doesn’t mean everyone thrives on this schedule. One person may claim skipping a meal gives them more energy while another goes hangry if they miss just one snack. Some people do better on daily calorie restriction because they like an incremental change and regular meals. Others may find daily restriction wears away their willpower, and they prefer intermittent fasting so they can front load their calorie restriction to just a few days.

HOW TO PRACTICE INTERMITTENT FASTING SAFELY

Intermittent fasting can be a safe choice for weight loss, but it all depends on how you approach it and how your body responds. Some would suggest that fasting is not for everyone and you shouldn’t try intermittent fasting if you are pregnant, diabetic or healing from a traumatic event such as surgery. Critics of intermittent fasting also point out that all this emphasis on restriction can backfire and encourage binge and other disordered eating behaviors. Our physical and mental health histories are all different, so if you have trouble deciding whether intermittent fasting is for you, consult a healthcare professional. Generally speaking, though, there’s little evidence to say intermittent fasting isn’t safe for healthy adults who have a bit of weight to lose.

The human body is designed to deal with fasting. It did not evolve to have food every hour of the day. Fasting triggers hormonal changes that are beneficial for your body. When you fast, insulin levels drop, allowing your cells to release stored fat and use it more effectively. Fasting also stimulates a housekeeping process called “autophagy.” With no food around to process, your cells can use that spare time to remove damaged or misfolded proteins. It doesn’t matter if you choose intermittent fasting or daily calorie restriction, fasting for a few hours enables your body to fulfill this important task.

“Autophagy is the natural, regulated mechanism of the cell that disassembles unnecessary or dysfunctional components. Autophagy allows the orderly degradation and recycling of cellular components.”

It’s important to note that fasting is not the same as starvation. Going for days without eating or eating a very low-calorie diet indefinitely is not safe.

3 TYPES OF INTERMITTENT FASTING

Daily calorie restriction may be easier since it’s the default setting and it’s no less effective than intermittent fasting. For those interested in giving intermittent fasting a try, here are three popular plans:

1 ALTERNATE-DAY FASTING

Also known as “eat stop eat,”  this plan involves fasting on 3–4 non-consecutive days per week. A 24-hour fasting phase is followed by a non-fasting day where you can eat as much as you’d like.

2 MODIFIED FASTING

A 5:2 fasting plan means fasting on two non-consecutive days per week where you eat between 20–25% of your daily calorie needs. On non-fasting days you can eat normally.

3 TIME-RESTRICTED EATING

With the Lean Gains and the Warrior Diet, you fast anywhere from 8–20 hours per day. You can eat freely during your non-fasting hours. Scheduling fasting hours overnight can make this plan easier.

THE VERDICT

There’s no one-size-fits-all diet for weight loss. Intermittent fasting can be helpful, but first consider whether it fits into the lifestyle you want to lead. If you try fasting and it’s not for you, cutting calories the old-fashioned way can still help you lose weight. Listen to your body, and pick the plan that works for you. Regardless, don’t forget calorie quality matters, too. As you’re losing pounds, nourish your body with nutrient-dense foods including fruits, veggies, grains, lean proteins and healthy fats.