Chuckles of the Day


Grey Hair

Angela’s mother was looking in the mirror and plucking out the few grey hairs which she found in her head.

“Mommy, why do you have some grey hair?” inquired Angela.

“Probably because you’re such a naughty girl and cause me so much worry.”

“Oh!” said Angela. “You must have been devil towards grandmother.”

* * * * * * *


Two doctors in the U.S. were talking.

1st doctor: “Why did you perform that operation on Mrs. Weitzman?”

2nd doctor: “Ten thousands dollars.”

1st doctor: “No. Perhaps you did’nt hear me correctly. What did Mrs. Weitzman have?”

2nd doctor: “Ten thousand dollars.”

French Pot-roasted Chicken


10 g dried porcini mushrooms
1/3 cup boiling water
8 French shallots, peeled
2 rashers bacon, rind removed and chopped
8 small Swiss brown mushrooms
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 x 650 g small chickens
1 tablespoon tarragon leaves
1 cup chicken stock


  1. Place the porcini in a bowl, cover with the water and set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, bacon and mushrooms and cook for 4 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Add the oil and chickens and cook for 2 minutes each side or until golden.
  4. Remove the porcini from the water and chop, reserving the porcini liquid. Return the shallot, bacon and mushrooms to the pan with the tarragon, porcini, porcini liquid and stock. Bring to the boil and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
  5. Serve the chickens with creamy mashed potatoes.

Makes 2 servings.

Source: Fast, Fresh, Simple

Coronavirus: A Wake-up Call to Strengthen the Global Food System

Global food production is incredibly efficient, and the world’s farmers produce enough to feed the global population. Despite this abundance, a quarter of the global population do not have regular access to sufficient and nutritious food. A growing and more affluent population will further increase the global demand for food and create stresses on land, for example, through deforestation.

Additionally, climate change is a major threat to agriculture. Increased temperatures have contributed to land degradation and unpredictable rainy seasons can lead to crop failure. While climate extremes impact the ability to produce food, the guarantee of food is more than just agricultural productivity. Today’s globalized food system consists of highly interconnected social, technical, financial, economic, and environmental subsystems. It is characterized by increasingly complex trade networks and an efficient supply chain, with market power located in the hands of few. A shock to the food system can lead to ripple effects in political and social systems. The 2010 droughts in wheat-producing countries such as China, Russia, and Ukraine, led to major crop failures, pushing up food prices on the global markets. This in turn was one of the factors that led to deep civil unrest in Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, as people were facing food shortages, which possibly contributed to the 2011 revolution spreading across the country.

Not all shocks to the global food system are directly linked to agricultural productivity or climatic conditions. The vulnerability of the interconnected food system has become painfully evident in recent months following the appearance of a different type of shock: a global pandemic. Although it started as a health crisis, COVID-19 quickly filtered through the political, social, economic, technological, and financial systems. Business interruptions resulted in a chain reaction that is projected to contribute to food crises in many parts of the world.

“Although harvests have been successful and food reserves are available, global food supply chain interruptions led to food shortages in some places because of lockdown measures,” writes the author of the commentary Franziska Gaupp, an IIASA researcher working jointly with the Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM) and Risk and Resilience (RISK) programs. “Products cannot be moved from farms to markets. Food is rotting in the fields as transport disruptions have made it impossible to move food from the farm to the consumer. At the same time, many people have lost their incomes and food has become unaffordable to them.”

The World Food Program has warned that by the end of 2020, an additional 130 million people could face famine. In the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic, borders have been closed and a lack of local production has led to soaring prices in some countries. In South Sudan, for example, wheat prices have increased 62% since February 2020. Difficult access to food, and related stress could then lead to food riots and collective violence.

According to Gaupp, a systems approach is needed to address the challenges of a globally interconnected, complex food system. Systemic risk and systemic opportunities need to be incorporated into food-related policies. It is important to highlight that the threat to food security is not just a result of potential disruptions of production, but also shocks to distribution as well as shortfalls of the consumers’ income. COVID-19 has shown how interconnected our world is, and how a simultaneous shock – such as a pandemic – also affects our food system. She further points out that the issues are supply chain imbalances. There is enough for everyone, however, some countries are panic buying, and some are banning exports: This is why the whole supply and demand system is experiencing challenges, leading to more difficult access to food, especially in poorer countries.

“There will likely be more shocks hitting our global food system in the future. We need global collaboration and transdisciplinary approaches to ensure that the food chains function even in moments of crises to prevent price spikes and to provide all people with safe access to food,” concludes Gaupp.

Source: EurekAlert!

Disrupted Circadian Rhythms Linked to Later Parkinson’s Diagnosis

Jeff Norris wrote . . . . . . . . .

Older men who have a weak or irregular circadian rhythm guiding their daily cycles of rest and activity are more likely to later develop Parkinson’s disease, according to a new study by scientists at the UC San Francisco Weill Institute for Neurosciences who analyzed 11 years of data for nearly 3,000 independently living older men.

The scientists said their discovery of the link between circadian rhythms and Parkinson’s – a disease characterized by loss of control over movement, balance and other brain functions – suggests these circadian disruptions may reflect neurodegenerative disease processes already affecting the brain’s internal clock well before a Parkinson’s diagnosis, and that they could be considered an early warning sign of the disease.

“The strength of the circadian rhythm activity seems to have a really important effect on health and disease, particularly in aging. In this latest study we found that even small changes in circadian rhythm in older men were associated with a greater likelihood of getting Parkinson’s down the line,” said study senior author Kristine Yaffe, MD, the Roy and Marie Scola Endowed Chair and vice chair of the Department of Psychiatry at UCSF, a professor of psychiatry, neurology, and epidemiology and biostatistics, and a member of the UCSF Memory and Aging Center.

The results – published in JAMA Neurology – merit follow-up, according to the study authors, to investigate whether physiological changes set off by disruptions in circadian rhythms might themselves be a trigger for neurodegeneration, and whether strengthening these rhythms could lower risk for developing Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease. 500,000 individuals in the United States have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and many with the disease are undiagnosed, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Most who have Parkinson’s are diagnosed after age 60. There are no drugs known to prevent the disease, but there are a growing number of treatments to relieve symptoms.

Among older adults, weakened or irregular circadian rhythms of rest and activity are common, according to study lead author Yue Leng, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at UCSF. Other conditions – constipation or deficits in the sense of smell – have also been associated with increased likelihood of developing Parkinson’s later on.

“Parkinson’s is a disease that probably takes decades to develop, and apart from changes in movement, earlier signs might be critical in understanding the disease and its mechanisms,” Leng said. “This is the first large, long-term study to find that disrupted circadian rhythms might be linked to Parkinson’s that emerges years later.”

The study, which enrolled 2,930 men with an average age of 76.3 when the research began, was part of the larger, population-based Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study (MRoS), which began in 2000 and enrolled men at six medical centers nationwide. None of the participants in the subset of the MRoS cohort initially had Parkinson’s, and all were living in community-based settings (i.e. not in nursing homes). Their status for many health-related factors was assessed at the start, and they were monitored through follow-up visits and questionnaires.

As part of the study, researchers monitored circadian rhythms of rest and activity over three separate 24-hour periods by having participants wear an actigraph – a watch-like device that detects and records even slight wrist movements. The data collected from these devices were independently associated with the later development of Parkinson’s.

In a previous study, Leng and Yaffe identified an association between daytime napping and the later development of Parkinson’s. But the link between circadian rhythms and Parkinson’s is not just a matter or disrupted sleep, according to the new study. The association held true even after accounting for indicators of sleep disturbances – including loss of sleep; sleep inefficiency (time spent asleep after turning off the lights); leg movement during sleep; and the chronic, temporary cessation of breathing known as sleep apnea.

In drawing this conclusion, the researchers took into account numerous other variables collected as part of the MRoS study, including regional differences in study sites and participant demographics, education, baseline cognitive performance, chronic diseases, physical activity, symptoms of depression, body mass index, smoking, and use of benzodiazepines, alcohol, and caffeine.

Leng and Yaffe evaluated four parameters of participants’ rest–activity rhythms as measured by actigraph: amplitude, the difference between the period of greatest to least activity; mesor, the average activity; robustness, how well the measured cyclical rest–activity matched a regular curve similar to a cosine wave; and acrophase, a measure of advance or delay in the 24-hour cycle relative to the population average.

During follow-up, 78 of the 2,930 study participants were diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Those who scored lowest in actigraph amplitude, mesor or robustness had triple the risk of developing Parkinson’s compared to those who scored highest. The researchers did not find an association between acrophase and Parkinson’s risk.

Animal models of Parkinson’s have shown that cells controlling the brain’s circadian rhythm pacemaker often begin to degenerate even before cells in the part of the brain that are traditionally associated with Parkinson’s symptoms, suggesting that weakening of circadian rhythm may in some cases represent an early stage of disease.

Leng also does not rule out the possibility that disruptions in circadian rhythm, already known to cause metabolic changes and inflammation, might themselves contribute to neurodegenerative disease. Leng hopes to investigate whether weakened circadian rhythms trigger inflammation or the abnormal accumulation of proteins seen in affected brain tissue in both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

“These neurodegenerative diseases are not reversible,” she said. “But if research points to sleep or circadian problems being risk factors for neurodegeneration prior to traditional symptoms, then we may be able to use that information for early detection and diagnosis, or we might be able to intervene in ways that prevent development of neurodegenerative loss of function.”

Source: University of California San Francisco

Working in the Sun – Heating of the Head May Markedly Affect Safety and Performance

Approximately half of the global population live in regions where heat stress is an issue that affects the ability to live healthy and productive lives. It is well known that working in hot conditions, and the associated hyperthermia (rise in body temperature), may impair the ability to perform physically demanding manual work. However, the effects on cognitively dominated functions, and specifically the influence from sunlight exposure on human brain temperature and function have not been documented.

This new study shows clear negative effects of prolonged exposure of the head to sunlight, implying that we may have underestimated its true effects, as previous studies have traditionally been conducted in the laboratory, without accounting for the marked effect that sun radiation may have – in particular, when the head is exposed for a prolonged period.

“The novelty of the study is that we provide evidence that direct exposure to sunlight – especially to the head – impairs motor and cognitive performance,” says professor Lars Nybo, the project coordinator from Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, UCPH. He continues, “Adding to this, the decline in motor and cognitive performance was observed at 38.5 degrees, which is a 1 degree lower body temperature than previous studies have shown, which is a substantial difference.”

Direct sunlight to the head may affect productivity

Many workers in agriculture, construction and transport are at risk from being affected by exposure to strong sunlight, such as we experience in Europe the summer months. Postdoc Jacob Piil and professor Lars Nybo from UCPH headed this study in collaboration with colleagues from Thessaly University in Greece and they are convinced that the finding have implications not only for the workers’ health, but also for their work performance and safety:

“Health and performance impairments provoked by thermal stress are societal challenges intensifying with global warming and that is a prolonged problem we must try to mitigate. But we must also adapt solution to prevent the current negative effects when e.g. workers are exposed and this study emphasize that it is of great importance that people working or undertaking daily activities outside should protect their head against sunlight. The ability to maintain concentration and avoid attenuation of motor-cognitive performance is certainly of relevance for work and traffic safety as well as for minimizing the risks of making mistakes during other daily tasks,” says associate professor Andreas Flouris from FAME Laboratory in Greece.

Taken together, these results suggest that science may have underestimated the true impact of heat stress, for example during a heat wave, as solar radiation has not been investigated before. Future studies should incorporate sunlight, as this seems to have a selective effect on the head and the brain.

These findings highlight the importance of including the effect of sunlight radiative heating of the head and neck in future scientific evaluations of environmental heat stress impacts, and specific protection of the head to minimize harmful effects.

Facts about the study

Eight healthy, active males, aged 27 – 41, participated in the study. The motor-cognitive test consisted of four different computer math and logical tasks that relied on fine motor precision. Four lamps were positioned to radiate either on the lower-body or on the head (back, sides and top – to avoid blinding of the participants).

The study has been published in the article Direct exposure of the head to solar heat radiation impairs motor cognitive performance in the well esteemed journal ‘Scientific reports’.

Source: University of Copenhagen

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