Health Benefits of Gaming

by Marcus Clarke

Apparently it was the Buddha who first said ‘health is the greatest gift’. He was certainly right. However, he probably never imagined that one of the ways we can receive this ‘greatest gift’ is video games, as much research is now showing that gaming can be extremely good for your health, in a bewildering number of ways.

For example, gaming can increase the strength and size of the brain areas associated with a number of key skills, such as motor skills and spatial awareness. So gaming can actually increase the size of your brain! As well as this, gaming can reduce sensations of pain. Studies on soldiers who had been injured in battle, in which half were asked to play on a virtual reality game and half acted as a control group, found that those who played video games were less likely to need pain meds. Amazing! There’s more! Gaming can slow down cognitive decline in the elderly and those that are suffering from degenerative neurological disorders. As such, gaming in this sense has many public health applications.

Have you recently suffered from some sort of trauma? Fear not. Gaming may be the answer, and research has shown that gaming can minimize the effects of trauma. One study showed, for example, that those who had recently undergone surgery and played video games were likely to recover more quickly. Likewise, those who had undergone traumatic events were likely to have fewer flashbacks and after effects if they played video games.

So, gaming is not just about fun, and vegging out on a weekend after a hard week at work. It can actually have really positive effects, particularly on your cognitive health. Likewise, modern games are increasingly good for your cardio health, as games become more active, and your body becomes the controller.

To find out more about how gaming can be good for your, see the infographic below from Computer Planet.

Continue reading Health Benefits of Gaming

7 Health Benefits of Chocolate — Backed by Science!

If you like chocolate, you’ll be happy to know that in moderation, this tasty snack is actually good for you. No, this isn’t us just trying to find a way to justify our chocolate habit — there’s some actual science here! Whether you like the occasional Snickers bar or just can’t get enough of dark chocolate, here are some of the science-backed health benefits of cocoa.

First, a Disclaimer

Don’t rush out to the grocery store just yet. It’s important to know what type of chocolate to look for. Some types of chocolate have different health benefits, while others might not have any benefit at all.

First, make sure your chocolate is real instead of what is known in the industry as compound chocolate, which uses cocoa powder for chocolate flavoring but has no cocoa butter in the product. It’s easier for some manufactures — cocoa butter can be difficult to work with in large batches — but it isn’t good chocolate. If your ingredients show other forms of fat, like vegetable oil or soybean oil instead of cocoa butter, skip the candy bar.

Now, on with the show!

1. Chocolate Helps Your Heart

Chocolate can be a great tool to help you mend a broken heart, but it can also help keep your ticker healthy. One study, completed over nine years by Swedish scientists, found that one to two servings of dark chocolate every week helped to reduce the risk of heart failure in adults.

It wasn’t Hershey bars these individuals were eating, though — milk chocolate is so heavily processed that it doesn’t contain the kind of beneficial components dark chocolate does. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which help to protect the heart when eaten in moderation. These are the same antioxidants that are found in things like red wine, onions and tea.

2. High-Quality Tasty Nutrition

Believe it or not, a bar of high-quality dark chocolate can help you get a good portion of your daily recommended value for minerals like iron, magnesium, copper and manganese. A 100-gram portion also contains 11 grams of fiber.

Now, you don’t want to eat 100 grams regularly — that equals about 3.5 ounces, or 600 calories worth of chocolate — but even a small portion offers a host of nutritional benefits.

3. Candy Helps You Lose Weight

This might sound like we’re making stuff up, but it’s true: Dark chocolate in moderation can help aid weight loss. This is due to the fact that it is more filling than milk chocolate — due in part to that higher fiber content we mentioned a moment ago — and it also helps to lessen your craving for other sweet, fatty or salty foods that could make it harder to stick to your diet.

4. Keep That Cholesterol in Check

One of the main components in chocolate, cocoa butter, is a fat — and we’ve been told for years to avoid fat because it can be detrimental to our cholesterol levels. As it turns out, though, dark chocolate can help to both raise HDL — the good cholesterol — and lower total LDL in men with already elevated cholesterol.

The flavanoids in dark chocolate also help to prevent LDL from oxidizing. When bad cholesterol reacts with free radicals, it becomes oxidized and starts damaging tissues.

5. Pack It With Your Sunscreen

This is a benefit that only appears after you eat chocolate for a while — 12 weeks, minimum, according to researchers — but eating dark chocolate regularly can help to protect your skin from sun damage. This is no replacement for sunscreen, but regular chocolate consumption can more than double your minimal erythema dose or MED. This is just a fancy term for the amount of sun exposure it takes before you start to get sunburned.

The flavanoids in dark chocolate help to improve blood flow to the skin. They can also help increase skin density and overall hydration. Don’t skip your sunscreen, though — this might be an added level of protection, but it won’t keep you from getting sunburned during a day at the beach.

6. Not Just Good For The Body

In addition to helping with skin and heart health and cholesterol, chocolate has also shown signs of being good for your brain. Studies have shown that chocolate can help improve blood flow to the brain, which can help improve brain function. This benefit has been primarily studied in young adults. It has also been shown to help improve cognitive function in elderly patients who suffer from cognitive impairments.

7. Candy to Prevent Diabetes — Not as Crazy as It Sounds

People with diabetes are generally told to avoid candy and other sugars, but dark chocolate could actually be the key to help diabetic patients regulate their symptoms or prevent diabetes from developing at all. A small study out of Italy found that patients who ate dark chocolate every day for 15 days displayed reduced insulin sensitivity.

The amount of chocolate that was consumed during the trial equaled about 480 calories, so it’s important to consider the amount of chocolate you’re eating. However, if it can help reduce insulin sensitivity, it might be worth it to add a square or two of dark chocolate to your diet.

Chocolate isn’t as bad for you as your dentist or doctor might be telling you — eating high-quality dark chocolate in moderation can be a great way to improve your health over time. Just make sure you’re eating your chocolate in addition to a healthy diet.

Determining methods of Automated Nucleic Acid Extraction

By Lorenzo Gutierrez

Scientific exploration- Determining methods of Automated
Nucleic Acid Extraction

The human body is a complex structure made up of various cells and genes. The central system of genetic identification for humans is focused on one’s DNA, that is deoxyribonucleic acid. It is present in nearly all living organisms as it defined as the main constituent of chromosomes. With the introduction of a variety of communicable diseases, it is pertinent to researches to be able to extract DNA. They do this to run various tests to see how best the world’s population can extend its life cycle through science.

What is Automated Nucleic Acid Extraction?
This speaks to the removal of DNA by mechanical/ automated means. Extraction by this mean is deemed to be more accurate and more beneficial to science as it lessens the margin of error, or so it is alleged. “Automated nucleic acid extraction systems can improve workflow and decrease variability in the clinical laboratory.”[1]There are various methods that can be accessed. As science evolves so does technology and technological research is by extension advanced.

Methods of Automated Nucleic Acid Extraction
There are various methods of extraction and various machinery used by researchers on a day to day basis in efforts to attain much needed samples of DNA. This is done as the fight towards cures for many communicable diseases is a rather tedious process. Let us face the fact that technology is put in place to lighten the work load of many and aid in movements towards more accurate results. Many companies have delved into the creation of different extractors that each operate at varied levels. Some of which were created to be work horses, thereby being able to complete massive amounts of work while others are able to only produce an average turn out. Laboratories vary by size and as such, they would be able to best choose an extractor of their liking to perform their work functions.

There is the manual means of extractions, you can refer to this as good old reliable. Researchers are incredibly consumed by work when they have to utilize manual extraction methodologies as it is incredibly hands on. Of course, there is the usage of some level of technology however, the researcher would need to be present to adjust variables and incorporate other items as the need arises.
Automated Extractors allow researchers the ability to set their research in the machines and be able to leave to complete other tasks. Researchers aren’t needed at every step during automated extractions as technology does most of the work once it is that the samples are prepared and placed therein. It must be noted that with the presence of great technology, companies also incur a greater cost. Where a manual extraction could be performed at approximately $5, the work of an automated extractor could range anywhere from $7.60 to $12.95 per sample.
You may find that, true to human nature, researchers will gravitate towards a more established extractor as it had been around longer and there had been numerous reports done on it. However, it is important to still venture out and try new machinery as prior to the one that is most renowned became that way it was merely extractor X for argument sake, an unknown machine with the potential to create an ease of workload.

Research of two methods [2] For the purposes of this article we will look at a particular research performed by a group of research scientists, their information will be provided below. After comparing the three methods of extraction, It could be determined that the first extractor; X was reasonably efficient as it varied from 86% to 107% of manual. The second extractor Y’s recovery efficiency in comparison to the manual method varied from 83%-107%. Though the results varied marginally the true variation of extraction came by way of cost. As the extractor X was the most costly means at $12.95 per sample, whilst the Y costed $7.60. There is also a key difference in operational actions as the X doesn’t allow for the researcher to walk away, leaving the machine to perform its extraction. The X also needs a higher volume of samples to perform its task. Automated Nucleic Extraction is a field of science that is beneficial to researchers as it yields greater results than manual extraction. It is however a more costly approach.

[1] Dundas N., Leos N.K., Mitui M., Revell P., Rogers B.B. (2008 June 13) Comparison of automated
nucleic acid extraction methods with manual extraction.

Retrieved August 3, 2017