Think you’ve tried everything to battle obesity? This new discovery is for you

The research adds weight to the evidence that eating is a surprisingly complex biological behaviour.

If you are tired of trying every means to fight obesity, then this new discovery might help you to rethink. Cells in the brain that may help control the hunger impulse have been discovered in a development, which could lead to new treatments for obesity, reports the Independent.

The research adds weight to the evidence that eating is a surprisingly complex biological behaviour. According to Alexander Nectow, who published a paper about the study in the journal Cell, two new populations of cells have been identified in the brain that potently regulates appetite.

The area of the brainstem under scrutiny is the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN), where the two types of cells are located. It is thought new drugs to treat obesity by controlling hunger messages that prompt people to seek out and consume of food could be targeted at those cells.

Dr Nectow, an associate research scholar at Princeton University, found that the DRN section of the brain becomes activated in hungry mice. This was discovered when images were taken using a pioneering technique called iDisco. Imaging other mice that were given more than their normal amount of food showed a different pattern of DRN activity. This showed that neurons in this part of the brain clearly had a function in feeding behaviour.

It is thought new drugs to treat obesity by controlling hunger messages that prompt people to seek out and consume of food could be targeted at those cells. (Shutterstock )

Further research is needed to ascertain which types of neurons that make up the DRN are involved in the process. “There are two possibilities when you see something like that,” Dr Nectow said. “One is that the cells are just along for the ride – they are getting activated by hunger but they’re not actually driving the food intake process,” he continued.

How we believe meat is raised may influence its taste: Study

meat taste beliefs, factory farm meat taste unpleasant, beliefs influence taste, humane farm meat taste

Our beliefs about how animals are raised – whether on ‘factory farms’ or in more humane conditions – can shape our meat eating experience and influence its taste, a new study has found.

Researchers from Northeastern University in the US paired identical meat samples with different descriptions and then reported on participants’ eating experiences.

They found that meat samples paired with descriptions of animals raised on factory farms looked, smelled and tasted less pleasant to study participants than meat samples paired with descriptions of animals raised on humane farms.

Participants’ beliefs also influenced their perceived flavour of the meat and the amount of meat they consumed, suggesting that beliefs can actually influence eating behaviour.

The findings align with an emerging body of research that shows that our beliefs can influence how we evaluate food.

Wine, for instance, tastes better if we think it is expensive – even if the fine vintage we have been told we are drinking is really a cheap knock-off from a corner store, researchers said.

“We show that what you feel very directly influences not only how you interpret what you see but also very literally what you see,” said Lisa Feldman Barrett from Northeastern University.

“We call this ‘affective realism’ – the tendency of your feelings to influence the actual content of your perceptual experience,” said Barrett.

The findings suggest that anyone interested in creating things, from a chef to a filmmaker to a designer should consider how beliefs influence the user experience.

In the first experiment, study participants were asked to consume two identical samples of organic beef jerky, each of which was paired with a different label describing a different kind of farm on which cattle were raised.

Researchers found that study participants ranked the factory farmed meat sample as less pleasant along all measured consumption categories, including appearance, smell, taste and overall enjoyment.

In the second experiment, each study participant sampled only one of four identical roast beef samples, each of which was paired with a newly created description.

The third experiment tested whether beliefs about how animals are raised can influence basic sensory properties of flavor, including perceived saltiness and sweetness.

Researchers found that the descriptions influenced the flavour ratings of the ham sample.

Participants reported that factory farmed ham tasted saltier, greasier, and less fresh than humanely raised ham.

“Beliefs are really powerful. Words are really powerful.They influence what you do, often in surprising ways,” said Barrett.

The findings were published in the journal PLoS ONE.

This Dragon Chop Suey recipe is perfect to beat after office hunger pangs

In the words of food historian Alan Davidson, Chop Suey is “a prime example of culinary mythology”. There is a long list of conflicting stories about its origin and one account claims that it was invented in the 19th century by Chinese American cooks working on the transcontinental railroad. But anthropologist E N Anderson believes that the popular dish finds it roots in Taishan, a county in Guangdong province in China, a home to Chinese immigrants to the United States.

Whatever be its origin, we are glad that someone actually came up with this dish. It’s hearty and delicious and a perfect way to beat the after office hunger pangs. This recipe from is a good way to start your experiments in the kitchen.

20g – Carrot, sliced and blanched
30g – Baby corn, cut into diamond shape and blanched
5g – Red pepper, cut into triangles
10g – Green pepper, cut into triangles
5g – Yellow pepper, cut into triangles
30g – Bok choy, cut into diamond shape
10g – Fresh spinach, sliced
20g – Button mushroom (halves)
10g – Chinese cabbage, cut into triangles
10g – Beans, cut into diamond shape
20g – Broccoli florents (blanched)
150g – Boiled noodles
10g – Corn flour
1g – Salt
1g – Pepper
1g – Aromat seasoning
15g – Chilli paste
150g – Vegetable stock
3g – Light soya
2g – Chilli oil
5g – Chopped garlic
3g – Chopped ginger
1g – Star anise
10g – Tomato ketchup
3g – Cashew nut
3g – Rice wine vinegar
5g – Diluted corn flour
1g – Chopped spring onion
1g – Chopped red chilli
3g – Honey

* Add cornflour, salt, pepper and aromat seasoning to the noodles. Deep fry it till it’s crispy.

* Sautee garlic, and then add chopped ginger and chilli paste to it and stir. Now, add rice wine vinegar, light soya, chilli oil, tomato ketchup, honey, tossed vegetables and stock to it.

* Adjust the seasoning and then add the fried cashews.

* Add diluted cornflour to make the sauce. It should be red in colour and should taste sour and spicy.

* Garnish it with chopped spring onions.

Airlift: This Lucknow company is planning to deliver food using drones

drone, food deliver, drone food delivery,  food drone delivery, online kaka, lucknow drone food delivery, food news, lifestyle news, indian express

When hunger beckons, is fast food home delivery your only hope? While you might be waiting impatiently at home for the food to arrive, the ones delivering it, on most occasions are busy dodging traffic snarls. Sometimes, doing it within the prescribed time becomes a major hurdle. Keeping this in mind, one Lucknow-based food delivery website has come up with a solution — drones!

Yes, Online Kaka, “aiming to bring the delicacies of old and modern Lucknow” to its people, “within the comfort” of their homes have come up with this innovative fix. The company understands the high-paced life and value of home delivery and aims to make it as hassle free as possible.

Talking to the, Ahad Arshad, co-founder of the company revealed their plans and ways and how it’s all going to change the delivery experience reducing time by at least one-third. “It was due to the delay in order delivery that we were forced to think of delivering food in other ways. The traffic has gone from bad to worse due to the metro construction, although it will be helpful in future, currently there are a lot of traffic issues,” Arshad said in an email interview.

Arshad along with his co-partner Mohd Bilal, procured two drones from China to start their project. However, they met with a few challenges. “We did a few trial runs on our location but it was not successful in the beginning, so we made a few modifications, like increasing the lifting capacity of the drones and much more,” he revealed. “A few days back we attached a box (with eatables) with the help of a pulley under the drone, as soon as the box will touch the ground, the box will detach from the drone, leaving it for the person ordering the food.”

The ambitious project will be operational only after it receives a nod from the government of India. They had already written a letter to the District Magistrate of Lucknow to allow them to run some trials with the drone. “The Civil Aviation Ministry is also in favour of drone delivery but it is also waiting for a nod from the GOI,” Arshad stated.

If approved, Online Kaka will be the first delivery service in North India using drones. A Mumbai-based company Francesco’s Pizzeria tried doing the same in 2014, but could not go ahead after police intervened. Dominio’s UK also had tried the aerial route way back in 2013.



The delivery chain which has four hubs spread across Lucknow said, “The drone will pick up the food from the restaurant and drop it off at the nearest hub of the customer. From there, our delivery agent will take the order and deliver it to the customer’s doorstep.” Stating that it would be difficult to fly drones above streets where there are plenty of trees, it might be difficult to directly deliver food at customer’s doorstep, rather roof now. But they are still working on it. As of now, it’s going to be a two-step procedure where with the help of Google Maps API, they will deliver food directly.

The Lucknow-based start-up was started by the trio — Ahad Arshad, Mohd Bilal and Mohd Salman in 2016.

When asked if customers need to pay extra for the airborne service, he said, “Yes, the charges for drone delivery will be higher than the normal delivery charge, as the delivery time will be one-third of the average delivery time, which is 45 minutes.”

The company founded by three members Ahad Arshad, Mohd Bilal and Mohd Salman, is currently operating only in Lucknow. But with time, the trio wishes to expand in other parts of Uttar Pradesh.

Is life getting to you? Here are 5 effective ways to de-stress and let it go

Meditating for just 10 minutes every day can help you de-stress and prevent the mind from wandering.

Stress is an inescapable part of daily life. Yet, if you are persistently stressed over a period of time, it can increase risk of cardiovascular disease. But don’t get worked up just yet. Research also shows that how we deal with stress is more important than the level of stresswe face. To put it simply, irrespective of how many or how few stressful events a person faces, it is how they think of the event that matters. Those who experienced a greater spike in negative emotions had lower heart rate variability and may be at a higher risk for heart disease.

So, if you are keen to deal more effectively with stress (no, hitting the bottle is not a good idea), here are some things that you can do:

1) Meditation: It is for a reason that meditation is suggested as an effective tool to de-stress. It can help you identify and consequently avoid negative thoughts, as well as improve concentration. It can also help the mind to stop wandering. And the best part: it can be practised anywhere. You can try sitting cross-legged and focus on your breathing or visualise a happy scene or chant.

Meeting friends can offer you new perspective on your problems. (Shutterstock)
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2) Socialise: Misery enjoys company, and so does stress. Meeting and talking to friends and family about your life might offer a new perspective to your problems, and make them seem not so insurmountable. Several studies have shown that people with fewer family and close friends have shorter life expectancy, with loners experiencing the stress of loneliness equivalent to a lifetime of smoking.

Leafy vegetables and nuts are stress-busting foods. (Shutterstock)

3) Eat well: You can’t beat stress on an empty stomach. Instead, why not load up with stress busting foods such as leafy vegetables, oatmeal, yoghurt, nuts, chocolate and blueberries.

Sleep can help us manage difficult experiences. (Shutterstock)

4) Sleep it off: When you sleep, your mind works in putting things in perspective. Previous research by UC Berkeley suggested that sleep helps us manage difficult experiences and dreams help sort events.

Music can lower levels of stress hormones. (Shutterstock)

5) Listen to music: Change the soundtrack in your head by listening to music that you like. It can relax your mind and lower the levels of stress hormones. There are also meditation sound apps that play calming sounds that help you centre yourself.

Does your child grind her teeth in sleep? It’s a sign she is being bullied at school

Teeth-grinding in teenagers during sleep could be a sign that they are being bullied at school, a study suggests.

The study by an oral health charity in the UK found that adolescents who suffer from bullying are far more likely to grind their teeth in their sleep, a sign which could help parents identify victimised children sooner.

The research, published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation, found that teenagers who were subjected to verbal bullying in school were almost four times as likely to suffer from sleep bruxism (65%) compared to those who were not (17%).

Sleep bruxism is when you grind your teeth in your sleep and over time can lead to major oral health problems, including migraines, sensitive and worn teeth, chipped or cracked teeth, loosing of teeth and severe oral pain. It may lead to irreparable damage.

Over time, sleep bruxism can lead to major oral health problems, including migraines, sensitive and worn teeth, chipped or cracked teeth, loosening of teeth and severe oral pain. (Shutterstock)

The researchers urge parents, carers and schools to be alert to students complaining of oral health problems and symptoms related to bruxism as a signifier of them being bullied so that they can help tackle the issue.

“Bullying of any form is absolutely abhorrent and can have both a physical and psychological impact, and when experienced in childhood, can lead to trauma that might last throughout adulthood,” said Nigel Carter, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, which carried the study.

The researchers urge parents, carers and schools to be alert to students complaining of oral health problems and symptoms related to bruxism as a signifier of them being bullied.

“Grinding teeth may not sound like priority within the wider picture but it could prove to give a vital insight into a child’s state of mind and could be an important sign for us to identify bullying at an earlier stage,” said Carter.

“Both children and adults tend to grind their teeth when suffering from stress, and bullying is a significant contributor here,” he said.

Weight no bar: This Mumbai woman is defying body stereotypes through yoga

Dolly Singh, 34, has gained something of a fan following online for promoting body positivity by showing that size is no barrier to mastering complex yoga moves.

“To say ‘You can’t do this because you have so much weight,’ I don’t believe that,” Singh says, completing her morning stretch in a Mumbai park.

Dolly Singh, 34, doing yoga at a park in Mumbai.

Four years ago a doctor advised her to lose weight following an ankle sprain. Singh, who is 4 feet 11 inches (150 cm), weighed almost 90 kilograms (198 pounds) at the time. She got a trainer and embraced the “whole frenzy of losing weight” but grew bored of running so she signed up for something she’d never done before — yoga.

“The first class I was thinking ‘Can I really do this because I have a big body?’ After two or three class I realised people were looking at me and thinking ‘Oh my god she can do this’. My body had a certain kind of stamina, of flexibility.”

Singh, who works for a TV channel in Mumbai, soon realised there were limitations to group classes and sought the instruction she needed from videos online.

“We all have different bodies and if my teacher doesn’t have a belly, how will they know what the problems are of having a big belly,” she explains, laughing. “I’m a big busted person and if the teacher isn’t how are they going to understand that when I’m doing a Halasana (plough pose) I’m almost choking to death!”

Singh started filming herself to monitor her progress and then began posting clips of her yoga poses on Instagram.

Online trolls

Soon she was inundated with messages, mainly from foreigners at first but then from Indian women saying that Singh was an inspiration to them. “I’ve been overwhelmed by some people saying they would feel alienated in a room full of perfect yoga bodies, how they would feel that everyone is watching them. There’s an idea of not showing your body if you’re big bodied. You’re supposed to hide everything because its not appealing or it’s not something people like to see but that’s just something that’s been sold to us,” she insists.

Singh says in response to her videos, she has received messages from women across the world who told her that she was an inspiration to them. (AFP)

The response hasn’t all been positive though. Singh says she has been the victim of body shaming online.

“Indian men have not been encouraging at all. There are a lot of people who write very nasty comments. They would say something like ‘You’re just a fat blob, you look just like an elephant or bear, or you’re unfit or it’s because you’re eating so much food.

“I completely ignore these things. You can’t fight internet trolls. I don’t know these people so why should it bother me?”

Singh, who currently weighs 73 kg, says she will continue trying to sell “a more positive body image” and “challenge notions of fitness and beauty”.

“I’m not aiming to have this thin figure but I am aiming to have a beautiful flow and make my body strong through yoga,” she beams.

Running on sand is good for your heart and legs. Here’s how to do it right

As a seasonal alternative to pounding pavements or gym treadmills, running on sandy seashores is a good way to train while on vacation while also boosting motivation with a change of scenery. Here’s a look at some of the advantages of running on the beach and how to get ready to hit the sand.

What are the benefits?
Running on sand is an excellent way of diversifying your running experience or workout regime while keeping injury risk and impact to a minimum. Unlike concrete and hard surfaces, sand cushions the foot’s impact on the ground, creating fewer shockwaves that can damage the body’s musculoskeletal structure. It’s therefore easier on joints in the knee and foot, as well as tendons, making them less vulnerable to injury or tendonitis.

Wet or dry sand also creates an unstable surface, which helps to naturally strengthen the muscles that support and stabilise ankles. The muscles will have to work harder to help you gain speed, using more energy.

For beginners, it is better to run on wet sand, which is more compact and requires less intense effort than running on soft, dry sand. (Shutterstock)

Running barefoot on the beach or in the sea – up to mid-calf depth – also helps improve the flow of blood back to the heart, as well as blood circulation, and reduces feelings of heavy legs.

Running up dunes or hills is an excellent way of making muscles and ligaments work harder while also increasing cardiovascular intensity. Just be careful not to strain knees and ankles.

How to prepare

Stick to the same warm-up you use all year round when running in the park, in town or the woods, for example. Build up progressively, starting with gentle sessions on flat terrain and increasing the intensity and the distance little by little.

Running barefoot is perfectly possible and pleasant, so long as the beach is clean and doesn’t have too many pebbles or shells. You can also alternate sessions, with some runs barefoot in water or along the shore, and others wearing running shoes.

Unlike concrete and hard surfaces, sand cushions the foot’s impact on the ground, creating fewer shockwaves that can damage the body’s musculoskeletal structure.

For beginners, it is better to run on wet sand, which is more compact and requires less intense effort than running on soft, dry sand. Note that running on sand is quite different to running in a city or park. Don’t expect to keep the same pace. Steps feel harder and become more tiring more quickly on sand. Make sure you stretch after each session too.

Watch out for high temperatures and the lack of shade when running on the beach. Make sure you stay hydrated, drinking enough water to avoid heatstroke. Protect your skin with a suitable sunscreen and head out wearing a t-shirt, a hat and sunglasses. It’s better to run in the morning or at sunset when it’s less hot and the beach is quieter.

Heaven On Your Plate: From kebabs to biryani, food is serious business in Lucknow

Lucknow’s famous poet Ghulam Hamadan Mushafi (1747-1824) is not the only one to use a kebab simile to describe the anguish and fire in a lover’s heart. So engrained has the kebab been in the lives of the people of Awadh, that it is difficult to think of Lucknow without it.

However, Awadh wasn’t just kebabs. It was about refined tastes, tehzeeb o adaab or etiquette, hospitality and its syncretic culture. From the setting of the dastarkhwan which would have duas for blessing the food and house printed on it, the laying of rakabis, as plates were called in our childhood, with qalai katoras for drinking water cooled in surahis, the waiting for the eldest in the house to take his/her place at the head of the dastarkhwan and start the meal with a prayer; to us, youngsters, saying “adaab” if some elder passed on a dish to us and being blessed with a “khush raho” — the meal was a way of life which has all but vanished.

I grew up in Lucknow, imbibed this culture and try my best to keep it intact. Now, we eat on dining tables and not dastarkhwans, but we have tried to maintain many of the other customs in our home. We wait for the eldest to say “Bismillah kijiye” (start in the name of God), do adaab every time someone passes on a dish and wait for the khush raho. We keep an open house on both Eids and our friends come over to join in our celebration. I love to cook and even though I prefer vegetarian food, I am better at cooking meat dishes.

(Source: Rana Safvi)

Our friends look forward to murgh musallam, raan musallam, korma, pulao, biryani, shami and galawat ke kebabs alongwith qiwam ki siwai and phirni on Eid in our house, just as much as I look forward to all the delicious sweets and delicacies on Diwali and Holi in their homes. In fact, so fond am I of gujiya made on Holi, that the year I got married and moved to Jamshedpur, Singh Aunty, my mother’s friend, sent me loads of gujiyas, saying, “You may not get it there.”

Awadh is the land of sangam, where the rivers Ganga and Jamuna meet. It’s also here that many cultural streams met and got the unique “Ganga-Jamuni” identity. The cuisine reflects a melange of Persian influences that came with the Nawabs of Iran, the influx of people who came from Delhi after the attacks of Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali, which mixed with the existing culture of this rich Indo-Gangetic plain. For instance, the kebab was eaten with a parantha — inspired by fried puris, an intrinsic part of Hindu cuisine. Even today, if you visit the narrow galis of old Lucknow, you will find puri-kebab and puri-aloo ki sabzi being sold, along with samosa and jalebi.

When I was studying in Lucknow, I remember exchanging my tiffin box packed with kebabs and rotis for my best friend Neena’s tiffin, with parantha-sabzi in it. She still loves kebabs and I still love parantha-sabzi. I share so many similar memories with my septuagenarian friend, Anil Chandra, who grew up in Lucknow, too.

(Source: Thinkstock Images)

Mr Chandra lived in a joint family and they didn’t eat meat regularly, but he says, “non-vegetarian food was preferred on the table of a large number of Hindu families across cultural lines. Among Kayastha and Thakurs, a fair number of ladies ate meat too, possibly due to Westernised education and frequent inter-cultural interaction.” Mr Chandra’s mutton curry, which he perfected as a stress buster much later in life, is to die for. I perfected the galawat ke kababs which are much sought after, though I use only six spices. In my family, that’s the most popular kebab variant, made with raw qeema, tenderised with raw papaya paste and spices. However, the most famous galawat ke kebabs from Lucknow were the Tunday kebabs, which used 160 spices. It is the secret recipe of Haji Murad Ali, who had one hand (it earned him the nickname of Tunday).

As a child, I remember passing by his small shop in Lucknow’s chowk, but in those days, ladies from genteel families didn’t eat on the roadside. So, my first taste of those heavenly kebabs was when I was much older and such etiquettes were no longer a part of society.

Seekh kebab was refined in India from the shish kebab of the nomadic Mongols, who carried marinated meat in their saddle bags and cooked them on shish or skewers at night, and introduced it to India during their invasions. The shami kebab is said to have been invented for a Nawab sahib of Awadh by a Syrian cook, as the toothless Nawab sahib found it difficult to chew meat. Kakori kebab’s creator, most likely, was the rakabdar of the Nawab of Kakori, Syed Mohammed Haider Kazmi — the story goes that a British officer, a guest at his table, criticised the rough texture of the seekh kabab. His cooks came up with a softer version of the seekh kabab by taking the meat from the raan ki machhli — a cut from the leg of mutton — and then adding khoya to it.

(Source: Rana Safvi)

Cooks were veritable artists who rose to the occasion and came up with various innovations to please their patrons. One cook made khichri using pistachio nuts and almonds, shaped as the dal and rice — it looked exactly like khichri but the taste obviously was very different and difficult to forget! Another invented a pulao that resembled pomegranate seeds by colouring half the rice grain ruby red and left the other half white.

Pulao was the more favoured preparation over biryani in Lucknow. Though that name is used indiscriminately today, there was a fine difference back then. Pulao was meat cooked with rice, and with very delicate spice flavours. Biryani was usually layered rice with meat, and used far more spices for the delicate Awadhi palate. There were many famous pulao variations born in Lucknow, as the prolific Lucknowi historian Abdul Halim Sharar mentions: gulzar, nur, chameli, koku and moti. The method of preparing the “pearls” for the moti pulao was laborious. Two hundred grams of warq or silver foil, and 20 grams of gold foil were beaten into the white of an egg. This mixture was then stuffed in a chicken gullet, tied with a fine thread at short intervals, and heated slightly. When this was opened, shiny well-formed pearls would emerge, which were cooked with the meat of the pulao and used for garnish. Some chefs made these pearls with cottage cheese and covered them with foil. That’s the method I use by covering tiny meatballs for non-vegetarians and paneer balls for the vegetarians with silver foil.

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On another note, King Ghaziuddin Haider’s chef, as the story goes, made six paranthas for him daily, in 30 sers of ghee. One day, the king’s wazir decided to check exactly how it was made. He saw that the chef put in five sers of ghee in the pan to cook one parantha and threw away the rest. He admonished him and instructed him to use only one ser of ghee to avoid wastage. The result? Paranthas with diminished taste and an enquiry from a displeased king on the deteriorating quality. On being told about the strictures, he ordered the wazir to stop practising economy. Food is serious business for someone from Lucknow, irrespective of religion.

Dosa is India’s favourite breakfast, says survey

When you think of breakfast, which is the dish that comes to mind? One would imagine that it would differ depending on which part of the country you’re in. But it seems like the rather healthy option of the south Indian dish Dosa is a pan India favourite, as it recently emerged as the most preferred breakfast for Indians in metro cities across India.

According to reports quoting a recent survey by food ordering app Swiggy, dosa is listed as the top 3 most ordered breakfast dish across the metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Pune. The survey is apparently based on online breakfast orders in more than 12,000 restaurants across eight cities, according to a TOI report.

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The study also found that most Indian households still prefer traditional Indian breakfasts such as poha and parathas instead of their global counterparts.

According to reports based on the survey, Delhiites also liked chhole bhature and parathas, with dosa coming in at No. 3, Mumbaikars liked bun maska along with their masala and plain dosas, and Punekars chose the healthy sabudana khichdi and poha. Bengaluru, with the highest number of breakfast orders, clocked in masala dosa, idli-vada and poha as the top 3 most ordered dishes for morning meal.

The one city to buck the trend was Hyderabad, which registered bread lukmi, Spanish omlette and chicken sandwich as the three most ordered breakfast option.

The survey also found that breakfast orders peaked during weekends by aorund 30 per cent, while Monday and Tuesday saw the most orders during the working weekdays.