Mild Dehydration Could Mess Up Your Concentration

iStock
iStock

Research has already shown us that enduring a heat wave without air conditioning can impair our mental performance. Now, a new paper reported by NPR shows that not drinking enough water in the summertime can have a similar impact. According to a meta-analysis published in July in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, even mild dehydration can negatively affect cognition.

Mindy Millard-Stafford, director of the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at Georgia Institute of Technology, looked at 33 studies dealing with dehydration. She found that subjects performed worse in a range of areas—including attention, motor coordination, and goal-oriented thinking—when they were slightly dehydrated compared to when they had consumed enough water that day.

She defined mild dehydration as fluid loss equivalent to about 2 percent of body mass. On a hot summer day, reaching this stage can happen surprisingly fast. If you're hiking in the heat, it might take you an hour to become mildly dehydrated, and if you're going on an intense run, it can take just 30 minutes to sweat out 2 percent of your mass.

That level of dehydration isn't too noticeable (you may just start to feel thirsty), but if you have to do something that requires your full attention, it makes a big difference. In one study published last year, female subjects who were 1 percent dehydrated made 12 percent more errors while playing a game that required them to think quickly. (That paper was funded by PepsiCo, which sells bottled-water brands like Aquafina and Propel, but the researchers designed the study independently, according to NPR.)

Luckily, the brain fog that comes with dehydration has a simple antidote: a glass of water. The biggest roadblock keeping you from staying hydrated may be your inability to recognize dehydration in the first place. To see if you're getting enough water, use this easy skin test throughout the day.

[h/t NPR]

Chronic Pain Happens Differently in Men and Women

iStock.com/PeopleImages
iStock.com/PeopleImages

Women often feel colder than men due to physical differences. Now, a new study shows that the two sexes have different biological processes underlying a specific kind of pain, too. As WIRED reports, research published in the journal Brain revealed that different cells and proteins were activated in men and women with neuropathic pain—a condition that is often chronic, with symptoms including a burning or shooting sensation. While scientists say further research is needed, these findings could potentially change the way we treat conditions involving chronic pain.

A team of Texas-based neurologists and neuroscientists looked for RNA expressions in the sensory neurons of spinal tumors that had been removed from eight women and 18 men. Some of the patients had pain as a result of nerve compression, while others had not experienced any chronic pain. While studying the neurons of women with pain, researchers noticed that protein-like molecules called neuropeptides, which modulate neurons, were highly activated. For the men, immune system cells called macrophages were most active.

"This represents the first direct human evidence that pain seems to be as sex-dependent in its underlying biology in humans as we have been suggesting for a while now, based on experiments in mice," Jeffrey Mogil, a professor of pain studies at Montreal's McGill University, who was not involved in the Brain study, tells WIRED.

So what exactly do these new findings mean for sufferers of chronic pain? Considering that clinical trials and drug manufacturers have traditionally failed to distinguish between the sexes when it comes to developing pain medication, the study could potentially form a foundation for sex-specific pain therapies that could prove more effective. This might be especially promising for women, who are more likely to have some condition that cause persistent pain, such as migraines or fibromyalgia.

"I think that 10 years from now, when I look back at how papers I've published have had an impact, this one will stick out," Dr. Ted Price, a neuroscience professor and one of the paper's authors, said in a statement. "I hope by then that we are designing clinical trials better considering sex as a biological variable, and that we understand how chronic pain is driven differently in men and women."

[h/t WIRED]

McDonald’s Is Testing Out Vegan McNuggets in Norway

McDonald's has never been an especially welcoming place for vegans (until 1990, even the fries contained meat). But now, the chain's Norwegian locations are working to change that. As Today reports, McDonald's restaurants in Norway have launched a vegan nugget alternative to the classic chicken McNugget.

The new vegan McNuggets are prepared to look like the menu item customers are familiar with. They're coated with a layer of breadcrumbs and fried until they're golden-brown and crispy. Instead of chicken meat, the nugget is filled with plant-based ingredients, including mashed potatoes, chickpeas, onions, corn, and carrots.

The vegan McNuggets are only available to customers in Norway for now, but if they're popular, they may spread to McDonald's in other parts of the world. Norway's McDonald's locations also include a Vegetarian McFeast burger on its menu.

McDonald's is famous for tailoring its menus to international markets, and vegetarian options are much easier to find in restaurants some parts of the world compared to others. In India, where one fifth of the population is vegetarian, customers can order the McAloo Tikki Burger, made from potatoes and peas, or a McVeggie sandwich.

[h/t Today]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER