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Discovered: Milk's magical diet ingredient, this is your brain right before sex, our planet used to have a giant bug problem and American kids may be fat, but their blood pressure is fine

  • An ingredient found in milk made mice skinny. It's always fun when science tells us something we put all up in our coffee and cereal has health benefits. Today, we get milk. Nicotinamide riboside, an ingredient found in milk, boost metabolism and longevity -- at least in mice. When science's favorite test subjects took that ingredient in "fairly high doses" they burned more fat and were protected from obesity. Sadly, we probably wouldn't see those benefits from our normal milk consumption, say the science-brains. But they say it would work as some sort of pill supplement, which is probably how we'll do all our eating in the future anyway. [Cell Metabolism]
  • This is your brain right before sex. Looking at the way humans responded to sensual touch, researchers discovered that subjects' brains respond differently when they think the touch comes from a woman -- even if it doesn't. Researchers had a woman touch a subject's leg a bunch of different times, lying about the gender during the experiment. The primary somatosensory cortex responded more to the 'female' touch than to the 'male' touch condition, even while subjects were only viewing a video showing a person approach their leg," explains researcher Ralph Adolphs, even though it was really a lady doing the touching the entire time! Trick tricky. It has something to do with how we contextualize the touch. "We see responses in a part of the brain thought to process only basic touch that were elicited entirely by the emotional significance of social touch prior to the touch itself, simply in anticipation of the caress that our participants would receive," he continues. [California Institute of Technology]
  • Thank birds for ridding the earth of giant bugs. About 150 million years ago, big bugs were everywhere. If you dislike those extra-large mosquitoes, imagine how nasty life was like back then. In fact, if it weren't for the evolution of birds, science found, we would probably have some gnarly bugs to deal with. "Right around the end of the Jurassic and beginning of the Cretaceous period, about 150 million years ago, all of a sudden oxygen goes up but insect size goes down. And this coincides really strikingly with the evolution of birds," explains researcher Matthew Clapham. Thank you, evolution. [UC Santa Cruz]
  • American kids are still fat, but their blood pressure is down. We had heard that being fat isn't always bad for heart health, and now we have some data to support that. Looking at almost 11,500 children and teens assessed over a 20 year period, the rate of obesity rose from 6 percent to 17 percent. But, at the same time, blood pressure stayed stable. And, in fact, the rate of high blood pressure was lower than expected. "I think the take-home from this study is that we should not necessarily assume that increases in childhood obesity will be associated with changes in every risk factor," explains researcher David Freedman. But, he warns, these obese kids often turn to fat adults, and with that come even more risk factors. So, again, science is not encouraging obesity. [Reuters]

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