Saturday, February 28, 2009

8 Foods to Keep Your Brain Young and Healthy

Senility, Alzheimer's, and age-related memory loss: these conditions of mental decline that come with aging can be delayed or even prevented. Besides engaging in daily activities that work out your brain, a regular and balanced diet rich with essential amino acids, omega oils, minerals and vitamins will ensure a vibrant and sharp memory. Eat these foods to give your brain the nutrition it needs.

1. Fish
Protein, an important component in the making of neurotransmitters, is essential to improve mental performance. Aside from being an excellent source of high quality protein, fish are packed with essential oils, such as Omega-3, which protect the brain and supports its development and functioning. Deep sea fish have the highest amounts of fatty acids, and they include salmon, sea bass, halibut, mackerel, and sardines.

2. Blueberries
These delicious berries are full of powerful antioxidants, which eliminate free-radical damage that causes aging, and they also possess neuroprotective properties that can delay the onset of age-related memory loss by guarding brain cells from damage caused by chemicals, plaque, or trauma. And they combat inflammation, the other factor in aging.

3. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are wonder foods for your brain. Packed with protein and essential fatty acids, nuts and seeds are also chock full of the amino arginine, which stimulates the pituitary gland at the base of the brain to release growth hormone, a substance that declines quickly after age 35; this is a real anti-aging boon to your brain!

Whip up a batch of my "Anti-aging brain mix" to bring with you anywhere and eat a small handful in between meals as a daily snack. It will nourish and support your brain. Pack in sealed container or zip-lock bag to preserve freshness.

* 1 cup walnut
* 1/2 cup pine nuts
* 1/4 cup sesame seeds
* 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
* 1/3 cup of dried goji berries (also known as lycium berry, and easily found in health food stores)
* 1/2 cup dried apricots

4. Cruciferous Vegetables
Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are all rich in choline, an essential nutrient for memory and brain health. Choline is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which contributes to healthy and efficient brain processes. As we age, our body's natural choline output declines, and its neurochemical action weakens. You can eat choline-rich foods to increase your production of acetylcholine, which will improve your brain power.

Other sources of choline include: eggs, soybeans, peanuts, cabbage, black beans, and kidney beans.

5. Oil: Monounsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated fats contain essential fatty acids and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which are crucial for brain development and function, among many other excellent benefits for your health. Olive oil, sesame oil, canola oil, almond oil, flaxseed oil, and fish oil are rich in monounsaturated fats and are good choices for brain health. Population studies show that people with a diet that is high in unsaturated, unhydrogenated fats may have a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease, whereas those with a diet that is higher in saturated fats and trans fats have an increased risk.

6. L-carnitine Foods
Age-related memory problems are many times caused by plaque buildup and diminished blood supply to the brain, compromising the delivery of nutrients and oxygen. L-carnitine, an amino acid manufactured in your liver, increases circulation in the brain — among a myriad of powerful benefits for your health. Also, because it prevents fat oxidation in the brain, L-carnitine shows some promise in preventing Alzheimer's disease. Good sources of L-carnitine include: meats, fish, poultry, wheat, avocado, milk, and fermented soybeans.

7. Microalgae
Microalgaes from the ocean and uncontaminated lakes, including blue-green algae, spirulina, chlorella, seaweed, and kelp are easy-to-digest, high protein and high-energy supplements-and contain over a hundred trace minerals! Available in your health food store, microalgae are simple to incorporate into your diet to ensure a good, strong brain function. Look for powders you dissolve in juice or flakes you can sprinkle on your food.

8. Green Tea
Green tea prevents an enzyme found in Alzheimer's disease and is also rich in polyphenols, antioxidants that help prevent premature brain aging. Drink two cups a day to get the brain benefits. To decaf tea, steep for 45 seconds and pour out the water, add fresh hot water to the leaves or tea bag — 95% of caffeine will be eliminated.

Herbal Boost
There are many Chinese herbs that support healthy brain functions, including ginkgo biloba and gotu kola. For support of healthy brain function I recommend our family formula called Enduring Youth, which contains Chinese herbs such as Chinese yam, goji berry, schisandra berry, Asian cornelian, China root, Cistanches, sweet flag, Chinese senega, dipsacus, anise, and Chinese foxglove. For more information, click here.

I hope you get the brain benefits of these foods. I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

-Dr. Mao

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pucker Up! What Science Is Finding About Why We Kiss

You may be surprised what messages you're sending and receiving when you lock lips.

There's nothing like a good kiss. You lean toward your beloved, close your eyes, hope your breath is okay, and ... fade to black. But a kiss, as we're now learning from scientific research, is hardly just a kiss. Rather, it's a complex act of courtship that may help us pick our mate, perhaps even through unconscious chemical signals, and assess and maintain a relationship. "Kissing is not just lips meeting other lips," says Sarah Woodley, Ph.D., a biologist at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

Many philematologists—those who study kissing—agree that it began as a way for mothers to pass on pre-chewed food to their infants. Obviously it's come a long way since then, but scientists are beginning to tease out exactly what the prototypical long smooch between two adults means. What purpose does it serve?

Differences among the sexes

As with so many other aspects of sexual behavior, the answer may be different for men and women. Gordon Gallup Jr., Ph.D., a psychologist at the State University of New York at Albany who in 2007 examined how kissing was perceived by more than 1,000 undergraduate students, found that the average female sees kissing as essential. Females "wouldn't dream" of having sex with someone without kissing first, and were also much more likely to emphasize kissing during and after sex, says Gallup. It suggests that "females are much more prone to use kissing as a mate-assessment device," he says. And even within an ongoing relationship, they use kissing as a way to update and monitor its status, he says.

Men, by contrast, use kissing as a means to an end—that is, sex. They were far more willing to have sex without kissing, the study found, and while a bad first kiss can be a deal-breaker for both genders, men are more willing to go ahead and have sex with someone whose kiss is unpleasant.

And how is all this assessment and evaluation being conducted? "At the moment of a kiss, there is a very complicated exchange of all kinds of different information," says Gallup. Some of it is in chemical form. Contained in male saliva, for example, are small amounts of testosterone, which is known to boost libido in both genders. It's possible, Gallup says, that repeated and prolonged exposure—that is, many makeout sessions over days and weeks and months—may increase the female's sex drive. (That might explain why men prefer sloppier kisses than women, too—they're trying to get her in the mood.)

There are probably also chemical messages being sent that we've barely begun to identify. While the term "pheromone" has been used to describe chemical messages sensed by special sensory organs in many animals, its use to describe chemicals in humans has been more confusing, since we don't possess the same organs. But nomenclature aside, the idea that humans emit some kind of chemical signals, whether pheromones or something else, that are sensed by and may influence other humans, is pretty well accepted, says Woodley. The mechanism of transmission isn't nailed down; some may be transmitted by taste, while others might be present in saliva, then volatilized and sensed by the nasal cavity. We may able to smell some of these odors, or learn to, but others may be imperceptible, she says.

The role of testosterone

Some of these chemicals might play a role similar to the theorized role of testosterone in saliva, making females less tense and happier (and more prone to have sex). Or, the odors might help in assessing whether a potential mate is of high genetic quality or is genetically compatible, she says. Certain genes govern the "major histocompatibility complex"—proteins involved in the immune system that help identify whether foreign bodies are part of us or not. (The similarity of an organ donor's and recipient's MHC plays a major role in determining whether the organ is accepted or rejected.) "These genes also make people smell different," says Woodley, and how you judge a potential mate's smell may indicate whether his immune system or general genetic makeup is similar to yours.

The evolutionary goal: to mate with someone whose genes are different enough to provide healthy diversity (i.e. not your brother) while still being in the same species. The notion hasn't always been borne out by research—which usually involves women sniffing men's sweaty T-shirts and rating the attractiveness of the odor—but it's still a viable theory, says Woodley. Something similar may be going on with kissing. These chemical signals might join other cues we get from the closeness and intimacy of kissing and combine to give an instant, hard-wired impression of whether this person is the right one with whom to mate. "When you get a highly intelligent, pair-bonding species that requires years to raise a baby, you evolve more and more brain mechanisms to weed out the losers and find out what works for you," says Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University. (Fisher has also looked into the broader question of what fuels romantic attraction.)

Kissing and stress reduction

Kissing may also reinforce pair bonding, helping to maintain relationships. Research by Wendy Hill, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Lafayette College, in Easton, Pa., has shown that kissing reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol. In a study to be presented on Valentine's Day at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Hill and her co-authors report that a second study, also small, found that the longer the relationship between the two parties, the more cortisol levels declined. (So did cortisol levels in the control group of couples who talked softly rather than kissing.) Hill is also studying the role of oxytocin, a social bonding hormone that promotes calm and attachment; previous research has suggested it rises during kissing, at least in men.

Whatever we have yet to learn about the science of kissing, there's no denying that it seems to act as an indicator of how a twosome is doing. "In an established relationship, the frequency of kissing is a good barometer as to its status," says Gallup. "If it's no longer featured prominently or is entirely absent, there's a much higher probability that the relationship is in trouble."

Courtesy of U.S. News & World Report

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ten automotive wonders you'll probably never get to drive in the U.S. — no matter what.

The Unobtainables
Ten automotive wonders you'll probably never get to drive in the U.S. — no matter what.
By Marc Lachapelle of MSN autos

The U.S. car market is the biggest and most competitive on the planet. Still, there are several wild, exciting and unique vehicles that cannot be bought here, no matter how much money you are willing to lay down. Many of these rolling wonders are designed and built by tiny boutique automakers that cannot or simply will not shell out the millions of dollars needed to certify their creations for sale in the New World. Others are so radical in design and purpose that they just wouldn't conform to the various U.S. safety and regulatory standards. And a few more are so exclusive and built in such small numbers that they are all spoken for before even rumors of their possible existence reach American ears. Have we piqued your interest yet? Well, here are 10 of the coolest cars you can't get here in the States. As you'll see, they are sexy, powerful and very desirable. Welcome to the world of the unobtainable.

Ascari KZ1

This supercar is named after famed Italian race driver Alberto Ascari, the first two-time Formula 1 world champion (1952-53). It's built in the United Kingdom by a small company created by Dutch inventor and industrialist Klaas Zwart. The KZ1 first rolled off the assembly line back in 2003. Midmounted in a chassis made of ultralightweight carbon fiber is a 5.0-liter V8 engine that was first used in the BMW Z8 sports car. It has been retuned to produce 500 horsepower, and will propel the Ascari from zero to 60 mph in a scant 3.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 200 mph. The KZ1 sells for about 235,000 pounds (US$344,000), and owners can drive their KZ1s at the Ascari Race Resort in the south of Spain.
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Aston Martin One-77

Aston Martin was recently sold by the Ford Motor Co. to a consortium led by Prodrive owner and racing magnate David Richards. In addition to putting the final touches on its upcoming Rapide grand touring 4-door sedan, the slick British automaker is marketing an extremely exclusive sports car that will be built entirely to order and custom-fit and trimmed to the taste of each buyer. The cost: a mere 1.2 million pounds (US$1.75 million). Only 77 of these cars will be built, hence the One-77 moniker. The low-slung coupe, built on a carbon-fiber monocoque structure with hand-shaped aluminum body panels, will reportedly be powered by a front-mounted 7.3-liter V12 engine that should develop more than 700 horsepower. Even at such a price, the One-77 is already sold out.

Caparo T1

This is the closest you can get to a Formula 1 or GP2 car for the road. It even looks like a formula car, with skimpy fenders and a bubble cockpit over two staggered seats. The Caparo T1 was created by many of the people who designed the fabulous McLaren F1 road car, and they made even fewer compromises — a considerable accomplishment. Thanks to its carbon-fiber and aluminum chassis, composite body and many other parts made from exotic lightweight materials, the T1 weighs only 1,212 pounds. Not exactly exciting news. But when you consider that it's armed with a 575-horsepower, midmounted, all-aluminum, naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V8, you get a warp-level power-to-weight ratio of 1,000 horses per ton. Quick-shifting, the 6-speed sequential gearbox will take you from zero to 60 mph in about 2.5 seconds. Base price: 240,000 pounds (US$355,000).

Covini C6W

At first, the Covini C6W looks awkward and unreal, as if someone had digitally pasted a second pair of front wheels on a classic supercar. But the car with four front wheels and two rear wheels is for real. Italian entrepreneur Ferrucio Covini first worked on a car with four front wheels more than 30 years ago. The claimed benefits of having four smaller, 16-inch front wheels (the rear are 20 inches in diameter) are reduced aerodynamic drag from the smaller frontal area, better braking, a smoother ride and a drastic reduction of understeer and hydroplaning. The downsides are the added weight, bulk and complexity of the front suspension. Regardless, the C6W is powered by an Audi-designed 4.2-liter 435-horsepower V8 driving the rear wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox. The engine is midmounted in a structure that combines steel tubing and carbon fiber. The Covini C6W is still considered a prototype, albeit one that will soon be production-bound, according to Covini Engineering. However, there's no projected price on the maker's Web site.

Discuss: If any of these cars could be brought to U.S. shores, which ones would you want to see — or drive — on a twisty canyon descent, and why?

Koenigsegg CCXR

This tiny Swedish company, founded by an intrepid young designer named Christian von Koenigsegg, has been designing and building world-caliber supercars since 1994, in very small numbers and with amazing results. Its latest creations are the CCX and CCXR. These low-slung, midengine missiles featuring carbon-fiber bodywork were introduced at the 2008 Geneva Auto Show. Both are powered by a supercharged 4.8-liter V8 engine designed by Koenigsegg himself, but the CCXR's can run on eco-friendlier E85 or E100 ethanol as well as regular gasoline. When fed with E85, the CCXR produces a stunning 1,018 horsepower and a monstrous 782 lb-ft of torque. The sticker for a Koenigsegg CCX is 1.3 million euros (US$1.75 million), and a CCXR goes for a paltry 1.5 million euros (US$2 million).

READ MORE here!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Men Confess: How I Knew She Was "The One"

Ever wonder what it is that pushes guys from "maybe" to "yes"? Here, 15 guys spill what it was that drove them to realize that girl was "The One."

Only time will tell
"It was the furthest thing from love at first sight. We worked at the same company for more than a year without ever talking. But fate took over one night when there was an open seat next to me at happy hour. We talked for more than an hour before we noticed that we had matching Winnie-the-Pooh watches — a rare find among professionals in Washington, DC! That was when I knew we were destined to be together."
— Patrick Riccards, 28, Alexandria, VA

Plucky girl
"I met my wife just before I turned 30. Ten minutes into our initial conversation, she asked if I'd seen the latest Rogaine commercial. The question was more than a little impolite, since I had lost most of my hair in my early 20s. I quickly concluded that she had either no clue or remarkable pluck. The latter turned out to be the case. I asked her out, and 10 months later we were married."
— Rob DeRocker, 42, Brooklyn

First came the wedding...
"I was at a wedding, and this beautiful brunette was sitting across the aisle from me with a young girl in her lap. I assumed she was the woman's daughter. At the time, I was single and not looking for a serious relationship, especially with someone who had a child. But I couldn't take my eyes off her. There was something about the way she held the little girl in her arms and the silly way they interacted that captivated me. After the ceremony I lost her in the crowd. By midnight I was about to give up my search when an older woman asked if I had a date. Nervously, I replied no. She asked if she could introduce me to her niece, Mary, who turned out to be my mystery woman — the girl sitting in her lap was her cousin! Mary ended up becoming my wife."
— Steve Rosa, 37, Rumford, RI

Close shave
"I was intimidated by my wife when we started dating because she was older than me and already out of school. One night she cooked a romantic dinner and then surprised me with this aftershave I used to wear in London that I hadn't been able to find in the States. She went out of her way for me. It had to be love. I guess it didn't hurt that I accidentally caught a glimpse of her postshower, dripping wet and in a green silk robe!"
— Keith Stephens, 34, Dallas

Home run
"I knew Hope and I would be together forever when I turned on ESPN's SportsCenter for the first time — and she didn't ask me to change the channel!"
— Jason Brown, 29, Troy, MI

READ MORE here!!