Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Eat mangoes to lower your blood sugar  New Delhi, September 9, 2014 | UPDATED 19:23 IST

By consuming just 10 grams of mangoes daily you can help manage your high blood sugar, particularly in obese people, a new study has found.

Researchers have found that regular consumption of mango by obese adults may lower blood sugar levels and does not negatively impact body weight.

"We are excited about these promising findings for mangoes, which contain many bioactive compounds, including mangiferin, an antioxidant that may contribute to the beneficial effects of mango on blood glucose. In addition, mangoes contain fibre, which can help lower glucose absorption into the blood stream," said Edralin Lucas, associate professor of nutritional sciences at Oklahoma State University and lead study author.

"Our results indicate that daily consumption of 10 grams of freeze-dried mango, which is equivalent to about one-half of a fresh mango (about 100 grams), may help lower blood sugar in obese individuals," said Lucas.

Participants completing the 12-week study included 20 adults (11 males and 9 females) aged 20 to 50 years.

The researchers found that after 12 weeks, participants had reduced blood glucose, and this glucose lowering effect was seen in both males and females.

No changes were observed in overall body weight, hip or waist circumference, waist to hip ratio, percent fat mass, and lean mass, researchers said.

However, hip circumference was significantly lower in males but not females. BMI tended to be higher in females but not males after mango supplementation, although these results were not statistically significant, they said.

"We believe this research suggests that mangoes may give obese individuals a dietary option in helping them maintain or lower their blood sugar," said Lucas.

The study was published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolic Insights.

Source: indiatoday


Saturday, September 06, 2014

A bed of flowers or a pile of cow-dung?

September 7, 2014

Raghu Murtugudde

We occasionally run into some people who are eternally optimistic, flitting across life like a hummingbird darting among flowers and savouring nectar.

And then there are some who seem eternally miserable with nothing positive to say about anything or anybody, evoking the image of a worm writhing inescapably in a life that is like a pile of cow-dung.

What makes some so happy and trusting while some others so melancholic and suspicious despite being surrounded by loving family?

This can be especially painful when someone close to you is not only of the morose disposition but also advancing in years and needs to be looked after.

The western world has made the transition into a societal structure where the old are pretty much expected to check themselves into a retirement home and take care of themselves. But a country like India is still in transition from a generation that expects to be taken care of by their children, to a new middle-aged generation that sees the inevitability of not being able to count on their children during their own impending old age.

This responsibility of caring for aging parents and grandparents comes with a cultural narrative that makes it sinfully disrespectful to say anything negative about elders. Yet, with the nuclearisation of families the practicality of the situation is that many of the elderly end up living on their own.

Why this cultural obsession about not facing the reality that unsavoury persons are not just out there creating instability elsewhere but they could be close relatives as well? We are all human, after all. Would we be better off understanding how trust and respect actually manifest among humans?
The trust molecule

A hormone called oxytocin is shown to be the trust molecule, and it is associated with feelings of mutual trust. It is also known as the cuddle or love hormone, as it spikes during orgasm. It is most active during childbirth and breastfeeding. Experiments done with oxytocin sprays show enhanced levels of trust and cooperation.

Oxytocin release happens for most people with a simple smile from a stranger leading to small conversations and likely friendships or even mutually beneficial transactions.

Trust levels are generally found to be higher in richer countries than in poor countries. Of course, it is known that the poor are subject to higher levels of cognitive constraints or difficulties in making rational decisions since self-control is a limited quantity; one big decision in the morning can make it harder to make more difficult decisions during the rest of the day, leading to a catch-22 situation of being trapped in difficulty with trust.

So how does this relate to pessimistic personalities or even abusive behaviour towards one’s own family members? Many individuals, for example those suffering from autism or with brain damage, can have low oxytocin levels or an inability to assimilate oxytocin like normal people. This can lead to sociopathic behaviour in extreme cases or simply result in an utter inability to form trusting social interactions in the most benign cases.
Sensitivity reset

Research indicates that the lack of a secure family environment or a sense of isolation and insecurity may reset the sensitivity of an individual to oxytocin release. Any feeling of not being trusted is found to cause elevated levels of testosterone release and an aggressive or confrontational behaviour among men with these brain dysfunctions. The nuclearisation of families is possibly causing a sense of isolation and unpredictability among the elderly and must definitely be exacerbating abusive behaviour with old age for those who may already have an oxytocin deficiency.

Most of us know someone — often a close relative who seems to be sociopathic and even oblivious to the suffering of his own child or grandchild — who is aggressive to the extent of being grossly abusive on a daily basis. The cultural norms and expectations place a cruel burden, especially on care-giving woman members of the family, forcing them to tolerate atrocities from the ‘elderly’. It is not sufficient to explain away cruel behaviour as a medical condition. Sadly, it is often not even possible to treat these conditions with anti-depressants or other palliative drugs because of the social stigma of consulting a psychiatrist. It is time for us to accept that life need not become a pile of cow-dung and we need not get stuck till the dung dries and the worm dies. Death is inevitable but it can be a pleasant journey to the destination. It is time to accept the frailties of the human mind and face the reality that even our own relatives can be afflicted with psychological disorders.

Source: The Hindu

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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

శ్రీ కౌముది సెప్టెంబర్ 2014

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Nothing Vedic in ‘Vedic Maths’

Opinion                                                                                                     September 3, 2014

C. K. Raju

Advocating ‘Vedic mathematics’ as a replacement for traditional Indian arithmetic is hardly an act of nationalism; it only shows ignorance of the history of mathematics

Gujarat has made it compulsory for school students to read the texts of Dinanath Batra, endorsed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. According to news reports, Mr. Batra has now proposed a non-governmental education commission which will Indianise education through, for instance, Vedic mathematics. The Minister for Education has also mentioned Vedic mathematics as part of her agenda.

Ignorant of tradition

One appreciates the desire of these people to work for Indian traditions. But where in the Vedas is “Vedic mathematics” to be found? Nowhere. Vedic mathematics has no relation whatsoever to the Vedas. It actually originates from a book misleadingly titled Vedic Mathematics by Bharati Krishna Tirtha. The book admits on its first page that its title is misleading and that the (elementary arithmetic) algorithms expounded in the book have nothing to do with the Vedas. This is repeated on p. xxxv: “Obviously these formulas are not to be found in the present recensions of Atharvaveda.” I have been pointing this out since 1998. Regrettably, the advocates of “Vedic mathematics,” though they claim to champion Indian tradition, are ignorant of the actual tradition in the Vedas. Second, they do not even know what is stated in the book — the real source of “Vedic mathematics.” Third, they are unaware of scholarly writing on the subject. When education policy is decided by such ignorant people, they only end up making a laughing stock of themselves and the Vedas, and thus do a great disservice to the very tradition which they claim to champion.

Everyone learns how to add, subtract, multiply and divide in school. Why should we replace those algorithms with “Vedic mathematics”? Will that Indianise education? No. The standard arithmetic algorithms actually originated in India, where they were known by various names such as patiganita (slate arithmetic). However, the word “algorithm” comes from “algorithmus”: the Latinised name of al Khwarizmi of the 9th century House of Wisdom in Baghdad. He wrote an expository book on Indian arithmetic called Hisab al Hind. Gerbert d’Aurillac (later Pope Sylvester II), the leading European mathematician of the 10th century, imported these arithmetic techniques from the Umayyad Khilafat of Córdoba. He did so because the primitive Greek and Roman system of arithmetic (tied to the abacus), then prevailing in Europe, was no match for Indian arithmetic. However, accustomed to the abacus (on which he wrote a tome), Gerbert was perplexed by algorithms based on the place-value system, and foolishly got a special abacus (apices) constructed for these “Arabic numerals” in 976 CE. Hence the name “Arabic numerals” — because a learned pope amusingly thought there was some magic in the shape of the numerals which made arithmetic efficient.

Later, Florentine merchants realised that efficient Indian arithmetic algorithms conferred a competitive advantage in commerce. Fibonacci, who traded across Islamic Africa, translated al Khwarizmi’s work, as did many others, which is why they came to be known as algorithms. Eventually, after 600 years, Indian algorithms displaced the European abacus and were introduced in the Jesuit syllabus as “practical mathematics” circa 1570 by Christoph Clavius. These algorithms are found in many early Indian texts, such as the Patiganita of Sridhar or the Ganita Sara Sangraha of Mahavira, or the Lilavati of Bhaskara II. So, advocating “Vedic mathematics” as a replacement for traditional Indian arithmetic is hardly an act of nationalism. On the contrary, it only shows ignorance of the history of mathematics. Spreading this ignorance among future generations will weaken the nation, not strengthen it.

The techniques of “Vedic mathematics” are designed for mental arithmetic, traditionally used by lower caste artisans such as carpenters or by people like Shakuntala Devi. There are many other such systems of mental arithmetic today. If that is what we intend to promote, we should first do a systematic comparison. We should also be honest and refrain from using the misleading label “Vedic” which is the main selling point of Bharti Krishna Tirtha’s system, and which attracts gullible people who infer value just from the wrapper.
Suppressing real Mathematics

Promoting the wrongly labelled “Vedic mathematics” suppresses the mathematics that really does exist in the Vedas. For example, Yajurveda 17.2 elaborates on the decimal place value system (the basis of Indian algorithms) and some of those names for numbers are still in use, though terms such as arab (arbudam) have changed meaning. That passage shows that the place value system extends back to Vedic times, and it was a late acquisition only in mathematically backward Europe.

Likewise, the theory of permutations and combinations is built into the Vedic metre (and Indian music in general), as explained in various texts from Pingala’s Chandahsutra to Bhaskar’s Lilavati. The aksa sukta of the Rgveda gives a beautiful account of the game of dice, which is the foundation of the theory of probability. The romantic story of Nala and Damayanti in the Mahabharata further relates dice to sampling theory (to count the number of fruits in a tree).

More details are in my article on “Probability in Ancient India” available online and published in the Elsevier Handbook of the Philosophy of Statistics. However, all these scholarly efforts are jeopardised, for they too are viewed with suspicion.

We need to change the Western and colonial education system, especially with regard to mathematics. Traditional Indian ganita has much to offer in this process, but “Vedic mathematics” is definitely not the right way.

Wrong solutions like “Vedic mathematics” persist because an insecure political dispensation values the politically loyal over the learned who are loyal to the truth. (“Merit” apparently is important only in the context of reservations.) Such political processes are historically known to damage real traditions.

As I wrote over a decade ago in my book The Eleven Pictures of Time, those who attain or retain state power through religion are the worst enemies of that religion, whatever be the religion they claim to represent: Christianity, Islam, or Hinduism.

(C.K. Raju is author of Cultural Foundations of Mathematics. He was professor of mathematics, and Editorial Fellow of the Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture.)

Source: The Hindu