Last updated August 31, 2017 at 9:07 am
The Check Up is a weekly feature highlighting some of the best, most fascinating, most important, or simply unmissable health, medical, and human stories from around the web.
Go peanuts for peanuts!
Let’s begin with some incredibly exciting news from this week; peanut allergies may soon be a thing of the past! Australian researchers have developed a treatment that not only defeated peanut allergy, but sustained the results for over four years. For children suffering from peanut allergies life can be complicated and full of worry – from sleepovers to school lunches, but this simple probiotic treatment appears to encourage the immune system to develop a protective response when it encounters peanut antigens. To those who suffer from peanut allergies, welcome to the world of peanut butter, you now face a huge decision – crunchy or smooth?
Switch on the burners!
Still on the topic of food, researchers from Monash University have uncovered a switch in the brain that controls weight gain. Normally your brain responds to the insulin produced when you eat by ‘browning’ your fat – turning white fat cells into brown fat cells that expend energy. When you fast the lack of insulin triggers the fat cells to turn white again – conserving energy. Obesity can occur when this switch is broken, if it’s left on all the time then energy expenditure is decreased, causing you to gain weight. The sad news is this discovery is so new that we are still a while away from being able to use it to help with weight loss, so I guess it’s back to the gym for me.
Ever had a panic attack? I don’t recommend it, but thanks to my amygdala I can’t travel in a plane without experiencing one. But soon I may be able to spread my wings, as new research from The University of Queensland Brain Institute has discovered new brain cells being formed in the amygdala of mice. Disruptions in this part of the brain are linked to anxiety disorders, phobias and PTSD, so this discovery has huge and exciting implications for the treatment of certain mental health issues. Personally, I can’t wait to see what comes out of this research, holding up planes with the power of my mind is frankly exhausting!!
Ants with superhero powers
Ever see the Marvel movie Ant-man? Part of his powers is the ability to communicate with ants, and whilst that part is a little bit iffy (scientifically speaking) the abilities of the ants themselves are anything but. Fire ants can move as a group to form structures, rafts that float on water or towers to reach plants far above them. This article explains how, with perhaps my favourite part being how a lab accident led to a fascinating discovery!
Astronaut hair tips
As someone with very fine hair I find I need to wash it every other day. Luckily, I live down here on planet Earth, but what about the astronauts up in space? This video is a fascinating look at how they keep their hair squeaky clean even when floating around the space station!