How does our brain work?

How do we think? How do we form memories? And how does our brain control the rest of our body?

Our brain contains billions of neurons, which are no more than specialized cells. We all have a large network of neurons in our brain. And these neurons possess an extremely important feature: they communicate with each other, they have great "conversations" with each other, so to speak. They do not communicate through words, but through electrical impulses.

Neurons have many ramifications, in resemblance to a tree. They have many "branches", called dendrites (similar to the branches of a tree), which are responsible for receiving information, and contain spines (like the leaves of a tree). The spines work as a kind of ears, because they are the ones that receive the incoming information from neighboring neurons. Neurons also have a "branch" called the axon (similar to the root of the metaphorical tree) that doesn’t have any spines, and is responsible for transmitting information.

When we think, what happens in our brain is that neurons communicate with each other. When we remember something, ie when we recall a memory, that also happens.

So what about the rest of our body?

For example, if you wave at someone, who instructed your arm to make that movement? Your neurons did. Because apart from having neurons in our brains, we also have networks of neurons that start from our brain, go along the spinal cord to the other parts of our body. So in order to move your arm, the neurons responsible for that do a kind of “pass the message”. So the first neuron, in the brain, “tells” his neighbour: “Tell the arm to move”, and the second neuron passes on the message, etc, until the message reaches the arm. Although the reality is a little more complex, this is the essence of what happens.

Unfortunately, it can happen that one or more of these neurons malfunction, degenerate, become "ill" and start losing their spines (the metaphorical leaves), for example. And in that case the “pass the message” becomes more of a Chinese whispers game. In this game, people form a circle, someone says a sentence in his neighbour’s ear, his neighbour passes it one to the next person, etc. Naturally, once the message reaches the end of the circle, the inicial sentence is completely altered, because if but one person misunderstands, the sentence starts changing. In case of our arm, it may not receive the correct message. It is something similar that happens, for example, in Parkinson’s Disease. That is why the patients start, among other symptoms, to lose motor control.




Processed meats and cancer

Ah, so you thought any legally sold food product was safe...?


BBC News recently reported that many studies have linked processed meat to increased bowel cancer risk. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8204638.stm

They say the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) would have us avoid these products altogether. In 2007 the WCRF released a report where they extensively review the links between lifestyle and cancer (World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. Washington DC: AICR, 2007), which states that there is convincing evidence linking the consumption of processed meats to bowel cancer.

Why?
There is no certainty yet. One possibility is the addition of preservatives such as sodium nitrite (on packaging often referred to as E-250) to nearly all processed meats, such as bacon, ham, salami, sausages, etc, etc.
Nitrites can give rise to nitrosamines or nitrosamides during meat curing and/or in the body. Some of these compounds  are known human or animal carcinogens (World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. Washington DC: AICR, 2007).

Although the addition of sodium nitrite to products is regulated in most countries, no-one can control how much of a product every consumer ingests...







Carnes processadas e cancro

Ah, pensava que todos os produtos alimentares legalmente vendidos eram seguros...?

A BBC News reportou recentemente que muitos estudos ligaram carnes processadas a um aumento no risco de cancro colorretal. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8204638.stm
Dizem que a World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) quer que estes produtos sejam evitados inteiramente. Em 2007 a WCRF lançou um relatório em que fizeram uma extensiva revisão das ligações entre estilo de vida e cancro  (World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. Washington DC: AICR, 2007), que diz haver evidências convincentes que ligam o consumo de carnes processadas ao cancro colorretal.
Porquê?
Ainda não há certezas. Uma possibilidade é a adição de conservantes como o nitrito de sódio (nas embalagens frequentemente referido como E-250) a praticamente todas as carnes processadas, como bacon, fiambre, salame, salsichas, etc, etc.
Os nitritos podem originar nitrosaminas ou nitrosamidas durante a cura da carne e/ou no corpo. Alguns destes compostos são carcinogéneos humanos ou animais conhecidos (World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. Washington DC: AICR, 2007).

Apesar da adição destes compostos ser regulada na maioria dos países, ninguém pode controlar que quantidades de um produto cada consumidor ingere...




Vleeswaren en kanker

Ah, dus u dacht dat alle legaal verkochte etenswaren veilig waren...?

BBC News heeft recent gemeld dat vele onderzoeken vleeswaren met een verhoogt risico op darmkanker hebben verbonden. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8204638.stm

Ze zeggen dat het Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds (WCRF) wil dat deze producten geheel vermijd worden. In 2007 bracht de WCRF een rapport uit waarin ze uitgebreid de links tussen levensstijl en kanker herzien (World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. Washington DC: AICR, 2007), en waarin staat dat er overtuigend bewijs is dat de consumptie van vleeswaren met darmkanker koppelt.
Waarom?

Daar is nog geen zekerheid over. Éen mogelijkheid is het toevoegen van conserveringsmiddelen zoals natriumnitriet (op verpakkingen vaak vermeld als E-250) aan bijna alle vleeswaren, zoals bacon, ham, salami, worstjes, enz, enz.
Nitrieten kunnen nitrosamines of nitrosamides doen ontstaan gedurende het behandelen van de vleeswaren of in het lichaam. Sommige van deze stoffen zijn bekende mens- of dier carcinogenen (World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. Washington DC: AICR, 2007).

Al is de toevoeging van natriumnitriet aan producten in de meeste landen gereguleerd, kan niemand controleren welke hoeveelheden van een product elke consument inneemt...