Articles on brain

65 Interesting Facts About Human Brain!

Dr. Pranav Ghodgaonkar, Neurosurgeon
The human brain weighs on average three pounds or 1.5 kg.Dimensions of the human brain are mind scratching.Average brain width = 140 mm Average brain length = 167 mm Average brain height = 93 mmThe cerebrum is the largest part of the brain and makes up 85% of the brain’s weight.Human skin weighs twice as much as the brain.The brain is made up of about 75% water.The human brain is composed of about 100 billion neurons plus a trillion glial cells.The human brain is the fattest organ in the body and may consist of at least 60% fat.Neurons develop at the rate of 250,000 neurons per minute during early pregnancy.Human brain has more brain cells as a newborn baby than it will ever have again. At birth, the brain has almost the same size as an adult brain.A newborn baby’s brain grows about three times its size in the first year.Studies say human brain keeps developing until your 40s. Humans continue to make new neurons throughout life in response to mental activity.It’s a myth; there is NO Left/ Right Brain Divide. They work together.Human brain uses 20% of the oxygen as well as 20 % of total body blood Volume.One becomes unconscious when brain loses blood for 8 to 10 seconds.Lack of oxygen in the brain for 5 to 10 minutes results in permanent brain damage. Male brains on average have a total volume that is between 8 % and13% larger than that of females.It’s a myth that humans only use 10% of the brain, we use all of our brains.There are no pain receptors in the brain, so the brain can feel no pain.A baby's brain can use up to 50% of the total glucose supply.At rest, brain uses one-fifth of a calorie per minute.There are virtually no differences in brain anatomy between people with autism and those without.Human Brain has about 70,000 thoughts a day.Half of human brains can be removed by surgery with no apparent effect on personality or memory. Human brains are 10% smaller than they were 20,000 years ago.Information can be processed as slowly as 0.5 meters/sec or as fast as 120 meters/sec (about 268 miles/hr).While awake, the brain generates between 10 and 23 watts of power–or enough energy to power a light bulb. Excessive stress has shown to "alter brain cells, brain structure, and brain function."Scientists have discovered that men and women’s brains react differently to pain, which explains why they may perceive or discuss pain differently.Every time one recalls a memory or have a new thought, one is creating a new connection in your brain.While one sleep at night, it's the best time for the brain to consolidate all memories from the day.Lack of sleep may actually hurt the ability to create new memories.Studies show that brain waves are more active while dreaming than when one is awake.Human brain generates nearly 25 watts of power while you're awake,which is enough to light up a light bulb.There’s a virus that attacks human DNA making people less intelligent, impairing brain activity, learning & memory.Humans have taste receptors in the stomach, intestines, pancreas,lungs , anus, testicles and the brain.The smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves, which triggers relaxation.Juggling has shown to change the brain in as little as seven days. The study indicates that learning new things helps the brain to change very quickly.Alcohol doesn't make forget anything. It only takes 6 minutes for brain cells to react to alcohol. When one get blackout drunk, the brain temporarily loses the ability to create memories.It is thought that Long Term mobile phone use significantly increases the risk of brain tumors however it has not been proved in any scientific study.According to scientists the brain treats rejection like physical pain.Laughing at a joke is no simple task as it requires activity in five different areas of the brain.When one learn something new, the structure of brain changes.In 2015, the 4th most powerful supercomputer in the world took 40 minutes to simulate just one second of human brain activity.Research on naps, meditation & nature walks reveals that mental breaks increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories & encourage creativity.Humans have as many brain cells in their stomachs as cats have in their brains.A study Found brain age decreases by 0.95 years for each year of education, and by 0.58 years for every daily flight of stairs climbed.The human brain has enough memory to hold three million hours of television.Humans spend 13% of their lives not focusing on anything in particular.Music lessons have shown to considerably boost brain organization and ability in both children and adults.Those who are left-handed or ambidextrous have a corpus callosum (the part of the brain that bridges the two halves) that is about 11%larger than those who are right-handed.Albert Einstein’s brain was similar in size to other humans except in the region that is responsible for math and spatial perception. In that region, his brain was 35% wider than average.While an elephant’s brain is physically larger than a human brain, the human brain is 2% of total body weight (compared to 0.15% of an elephant's brain) meaning humans have the largest brain to  body size.Reading aloud and talking often to a young child promotes brain development.The capacity for such emotions as joy, happiness, fear, and shyness are already developed at birth. The specific type of nurturing a child receives shapes how these emotions are developed.The first sense to develop while in utero (in the womb) is the sense of touch. The lips and cheeks can experience touch at about 8 weeks and  the rest of the body, at around 12 weeks.Children who learn two languages before the age of five alters the brain structure and adults have a much denser gray matter.Studies have shown that child abuse can inhibit the development of the brain and can permanently affect brain development.The brain has a processing capacity of 0.1 quadrillion instructions per second. The fastest supercomputer in the world, called Road runner is capable of handling 1.026 quadrillion calculations per second.Alcohol interferes with brain processes by weakening connections between neurons.Every time you have a new thought, or recall a memory, a new brain connection is made between two or more brain cells.A living brain is so soft you could cut it with a table knife.The left side of your brain (left hemisphere) controls the right side of your body; and, the right side of your brain (right hemisphere)controls the left side of your body.Differences in brain weight and size do not equal differences in mental ability.

This Is What Happens When Your Brain Is on Drugs

Ms. Rajeshwari Luther
It is a commonly known fact- supported by years of scientific research- that the use and abuse of any illicit drug or alcohol cause drastic deterioration in the way one thinks, feels, and behaves. Before we talk about this deterioration, let us look at the role our brain plays in our thinking, feeling, and behaving. Every thought, emotion, or action we experience involves our nervous system- our brain, spinal cord, and the nerves that extend throughout our body. The neurons are the millions of cells that are responsible for the functioning of our nervous system. They use positive and negative charges and chemicals (called neurotransmitters) to send messages to and from all the glands and organs to the brain, which in turn evokes responses. Dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) are the four main neurotransmitters involved in substance dependence. We all know that drugs and alcohol change our mood- they either make us feel extremely happy or depressingly sad or any other emotion that can be encompassed in the spectrum between these two. The question is how do they do it? The simple answer is that the change the actions of the neurotransmitters. Drugs and alcohol could either change the way neurotransmitters are produced, released or sent. OR they could imitate, block or enhance the effect of a neurotransmitter. The result is a change in one’s mood. Thus, thoughts like “I feel good” or “I feel bad” change into “I need a drink” or “I’ve got to have a hit.” An individual gets addicted to a mood-altering substance because it changes the way neurotransmitters work, which leads to intense feelings of pleasure. Scientists believe that people with low levels of dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and GABA in the “pleasure center” (medial forebrain bundle) of the brain experience a lower level of pleasure. Hence, they seek drugs and alcohol- that work on neurotransmitters- to experience feelings of pleasure. Besides altering the way neurotransmitters work, repeated substance use can change the pathway of dopamine (the “feel good” chemical) through the “pleasure center” of the brain. In simpler terms, it could cause one to either like a drug because it makes them feel happy, want a drug to fulfil their craving, or to absolutely need a drug at a primal level. Once a need pathway is formed, the individual continues to use the substance, despite it not really making them happy or crave it. This makes them believe that they need the drug or alcohol to survive, taking all sense of control away from them. Thus, addicts usually talk about how once they start drinking or using, they cannot stop any more than they can stop breathing. In sum, addiction is not only a disorder or the brain, but also a disease of the body and a sickness of the soul.

Brain Development In Kids And The Importance Of Monitoring It!

Dr. Vykunta Raju K. N, Neurologist
What is Child Neurology?Child Neurology focuses on the issues concerning the development and maturation of the nervous system(brain and spinal cord) and disease affecting the nervous system in children upto 18 years of age.What is the need and scope for monitoring the development of children?There is a normal variation in achieving milestones in different children who are otherwise normal. Hence there is a need to detect the “abnormal from the normal” early so that appropriate investigations can be done for detecting cause and institute early treatment or interventions.What is developmental screening?Developmental screening is a procedure designed to identify children who should receive more intensive assessment for detecting potential delays.What is developmental surveillance?Child development is a dynamic process and difficult to quantitate by a one-time assessment. During surveillance repeated observations on development are made by a skilled caregiver over time to see the rate and pattern of development.What are birth defects?Birth defects are abnormalities of structure, function or metabolism (body chemistry) present at birth (congenital) that results in physical or mental disability.What causes birth defects?Birth defects can be caused by defective gene function, pregnancy related problems like intra uterine infections, uncontrolled diabetes and exposure to certain drugs, alcohol,chemicals or toxins during pregnancy.What are the consequences of these birth defects?Birth defects can cause either physical defects or developmental disabilities.What are neural tube defects?Neural tube defects are birth defects related to the growth and development of the brain and spinal cord. It includes conditions like spina bifida, in which the membranes around the spinal cord don’t close properly and a part of the spinal cord comes out through the defect (myelomeningocoele). People with spina bifida may have problems with walking and controlling urination and passing stools. What are the developmental disabilities caused by the birth defects?Developmental disabilities caused by birth defects are those that cause lifelong problems with how a body part or system works. They affect the brain, spinal cord and nervous system functioning causing mental retardation, learning and behavioral disorders and certain degenerative disorders like Rett syndrome and Adrenoleucodystrophy. Some of them might become apparent only when children are grown older.How are children with developmental disabilities managed?The management of children with developmental disabilities revolves around screening and early detection of the disability, finding the cause of the disability by appropriate imaging, metabolic genetic and neuro-electro physiological tests as required.Is there a cure for these developmental disabilities?Though a majority of the developmental disabilities have no cure, it is possible to prevent the progression and limit the disabilities by appropriate treatment strategies.Physical, speech and occupational therapy, special education classes and psychological counseling can also help.What are the causes for fits in children?In majority of cases,the cause is not clear, the so called idiopathic epilepsies. These are more common in childhood and adolescence and some of them may run in families.Injury to the brain during birth and development derangements of brain are two important known causes for fits in children. Febrile fits is special situation in children between 6 months and 6 years of age, where children gets fits during episodes of fever.What is the treatment of fits?In case an under lying cause of seizures is detected, appropriate treatment for the cause is initiated. In majority of cases, anti epileptic medications can control the seizures effectively. A small proportion of children continue to have uncontrolled seizures despite the best medical treatment, in whom surgical treatment may be tried.What is Cerebral Palsy (CP)?Cerebral Palsy is primarily a disorder affecting the movements and actions performed by various muscles of the body (motor disorder). Though described as non progressive the disability (due to the damage sustained at a time during early childhood) can progress.How is CP managed?The management of CP revolves around the management of associated conditions (like seizures, mental sub-normality, visual and hearing loss) prevent the progression of disability and rehabilitation.Who does the CP management team consist of?The CP management team consists of a pediatric neurologist, developmental pediatrician,physiotherapist, a child psychologist, orthopedic surgeon, speech therapist,occupational therapist and a social worker. The neurologist coordinates the functioning of the tam and is primarily involved in diagnosis, assessing development and disability. Control of fits if any and determining the need for any interventions-medicines, surgery or otherwise.What are the other causes of motor disability in children?The muscle diseases like myopathies and muscular dystrophies constitute a major cause for motor disability in children. The aim of management of these children is towards diagnosis, reducing disability, rehabilitation and in some cases genetic counseling.How can a child with a muscle disease diagnosed and managed?The diagnosis of the muscle disease is based on the careful assessment of the child,electro physiological investigations like NCS, EMG, blood enzyme analysis,muscle biopsy and genetic studies. The parents of such a child need to be counseled at the possibility of having another child with a similar illness and how to prevent the same (genetic counseling).Finally why child neurology?Children are not miniature adults. They are growing and maturing. The physiology and hence the way they react to disease processes is different from adults. Hence children with neurological problems need attention by child neurologist.

Strain on the Brain

Dr. Amitabha Mukerji, Psychiatrist
The development of Alzheimer’s disease, as we know, has been linked to certain genetic markers. However, as scientists have come to learn more and more about the brain, they have been of the opinion that genetics alone rarely dictates the course of an illness. Rather, the interaction that occurs between a person’s genes and his environment is responsible for determining the nature and course of a disease. In this regard, a set of recent studies has discovered that stress is an important environmental correlate for Alzheimer’s disease.Stress is already known to negatively impact a person’s psychological condition, which involves effects such as depression and anxiety. The finding that stressful conditions might be associated with neurodegenerative diseases, however, is relatively new.Research on environmental factors involved in the development of the Alzheimer’s disease began when researchers noted that some twins did not develop the disease when they were expected to. Twin studies showed that when one twin had developed the disease, the other twin developed the disease only 40 percent of the time. Thus it was concluded that there must be other factors involved, too, since, if genes alone led to the development of the disease, then every twin must share the disease when the other twin had developed it. But clearly this was not the case.Studies suggested that although stress alone does not degrade memory, it does seem to push animals at risk over the edge, making them less able to learn and remember new things. Stress may also hasten the onset of Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by motor difficulties, namely impaired motor coordination, tremor and rigidity. Parkinson’s symptoms result due to loss of brain cells that produces dopamine, which is a neuro transmitter essential for voluntary movement. In an experiment, a team of researchers found that a group of rats, which had been given corticosterone shots in brain areas comprising dopaminergic neurons elevating their stress hormones and then further exposed to experimentally produced stress, showed poor performance on motor tasks. They concluded that stress hinders the ability of dopamine cells to function normally which might either triggering or aggravating Parkinson’s symptoms.This article is based upon the Scientific American publication, MIND.

Train Your Brain for Weight Loss

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Most of us live in a world, where we are eating more food than we actually need for existence. Our portions are distorted and we are eating much more than we were previously. That's why we are facing increasing problems of weight management, obesity and other lifestyle disorders, and thus an increasing need for weight management plans.Can we train our brain to respond to the feeling of fullness by simple tricks? Is there a way our bodies be satisfied with less food? The answer is yes. Training the brain requires some effort & discipline to cultivate a habit of eating less, but there are tricks to slowly train your brain and your stomach to be satisfied eating less food. Let’s have a look how:Buy smaller plates: Your mind is conditioned to expect a plate full of food. So buy smaller plates and fill them with food, and you'll be reducing the calories you eat.Go individual: Buy a one-person pack and not a family size one. If you buy the bigger ones, you'll naturally eat moreEat slowly: this gives your brain and stomach time to recognise when you are full. Chew each mouthful 20 times. Put your cutlery down while you chew and then pick it up again for the next bite.Drink water before meals: 20 minutes or so before you eat, drink a pint of water, as cold as possible. This kick-starts your metabolism to put you straight into weight loss mode, and makes you feel full as your body will be absorbing the water.Satisfying foods:  Higher the fibre content, protein, and water content of a food, the more likely it is to be satisfying in your stomach. Avoid processed food such as potato chips, candy bars, and white bread.Consume foods with a ‘low glycemic index’: A high glycemic index food will cause a sudden change in blood sugar level. A ‘Low glycemic index’ food causes the blood sugar level to rise in a controlled fashion, providing a consistent source of energy for a long period. This method helps control food cravings, resulting in decreased appetite.Eating small frequent meals: The idea of slower energy release remains the same. One large meal quickly rises the energy level, which is trailed by a steeper drop soon enough, resulting in feeling more hungry. This can result in ‘eating between the meals’. However, small meals on contrary will result in a slow release of energy and a controlled one as well. Resulting in reducing ‘eating between meals’, and cravings for food.Apply these simple tricks to slowly condition your brain. Once you have the capacity to control your mind there is nothing on this earth you can’t achieve.

Is Your Brain Addicted to Food?

Dr. Richa Garg, Ayurveda
Is Your Brain Addicted To Food?Given the current statistics on obesity and addiction in general, there is rising research about the potential link between the foods we consume and food addiction. There appears to be differences in individuals’ types of responses to environmental cues that influence the reward patterns in the brain.Many people persistently overeat despite considerable efforts to not do so! Experts are currently suggesting that our “obesogenic” food environment exposes people to high concentrations of addictive food substances – refined sweeteners, refined carbohydrates, fat, salt and caffeine, thus creating an environment in which they lose control over the ability to regulate intake.Food Addiction                                                          While there is no official definition for food addiction, some addiction researchers have defined it as:-Eating too much despite consequences, even those dire to health- Being preoccupied with food, food preparation and meals- Trying and failing to regulate food intake- Feeling guilty about eating and overeatingPeople with food addiction tend to display many of the same characteristics of those with  other substance addictions – they tend to have common brain chemistries and similar experiences of mood altering effects from  the consumption of certain foods. In fact the cage tool used for diagnosing alcoholism can be applied to food addiction:Feeling the need to Cut down on the behaviour - Feeling Annoyed with others’ comments and criticisms- Feeling Guilty about eating- Feeling a need for the food first thing upon awakening – an Eye-openerwhat can be done to treat and prevent food addiction? The    first thing to remember is that each person’s brain responds differently and it is very important to recognize individual variability, as  well as to look honestly at the potential for food addiction based on family history and personal history.From a food perspective, try the following:- Increase protein*  – 1 gram per kilo body weight- Increase fiber* – 3 grams or more per serving of grain food- Decrease sugar and all sweeteners, even sugar-free – 6 grams sugar or less per serving- Increase monounsaturated fats (olive and canola oils, avocado and nuts) and omega three fats (fish,  Decrease saturated and trans fats**)* Grehlin is a gut hormone that increases appetite.  Both protein and fiber inhibit grehlin.* *Leptin is a gut hormone that decreases appetite.  A high fat diet, especially one high in saturated and trans fats, will inhibit leptin.What about Super   Supplements?Supplements are usually a second tier of treatment when it comes to food addiction, but are nonetheless, very important in assisting in the process of creating balance biochemically. A few of the top supplements to consider include:1. Omega 3 fatty acids - assist in neurotransmitter communication and protection of the nerves in the brain.2. B complex vitamins - with folic acid ideally in the methyl tetrahydrofolate form for the bioavailable form of folate. B complex vitamins have a variety of functions including the assistance of positive mood and release of energy from food.3. 5-HTP (Hydroxytryptophan)* - an amino acid that is the precursor to serotonin, the “feel good” neurotransmitter, also known for appetite control.4. Amino Acids- including dl-Phenylalanine, L-Tyrosine, L-Glutamine* – assist with energy, mood and suppression of cravings.5. Chromium - a mineral that assists in glucose/insulin regulation. Helps with maintaining stable energy and blood sugar.Note: Caution must be used for people on psychoactive medications. As with any supplement, always discuss with your health care provider to cross-reference supplements and medications for interactions.While this may seem depressing to some, it actually is good news. Science is in a time of discovery about some of the reasons “why” people have such difficulty managing what should be simple – nourishment of our bodies with food. Food need not be the battle-field that it has become, but making changes toward a healthier diet is indeed a process – a process that need not be judged, but treated with compassion, understanding and a commitment to learn and listen to the language of the brain.

Brain Tumor - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Dr. Apoorva Kumar, Spine Surgeon
There is no trustworthy evidence regarding what causes brain tumours, but there are a few risk factors that have been substantiated through research. Children and young people who receive radiation around the head are susceptible to developing tumours in the brain once they grow up. Also, people with a certain kind of rare genetic condition like neurofibromatosis may develop a brain tumour though such cases are very few in number. Age is also an important factor as people aged over 65 years are diagnosed with brain tumours at quadruple times higher than children and younger people.Microscope Assisted Brain tumor surgeryTypes of Brain Tumours-A primary brain tumor originates in the brain, and they may or may not be cancerous. Some tumors can be benign, which do not spread in the surrounding tissues and are not very malicious. However, that does not signify that they will not cause any harm over time. Sometimes these tumors can be severe and cause a threat to the life of the sufferer. The National Cancer Institute reports that approximately there were 23, 380 fresh cases of brain tumors in 2014.Identifying the Symptoms of Brain TumorsThe symptoms of the brain tumor are dependent on various factors such as the size, type as well as the exact location of the tumor. These symptoms are triggered when any tumor is pressed or clashed against a nerve or disturbs a part of the brain. Symptoms are also felt when any tumor particle blocks the fluid flowing around the brain or when there is a swelling in the brain owing to the build-up of fluid.Common symptoms include- headaches that get worse in the morning, nausea along with vomiting, an alteration in the speech, hearing and imbalances in walking and movement, mood swings, change in personality and ability to concentrate or remember things and seizures or convulsions.Treatment for Brain Tumor-Surgery is normally the most usual treatment for brain tumors, and the patient is given anaesthesia, and the scalp is shaved before the surgery. Then, craniotomy is performed to open the skull, and the surgeon removes a bone piece out of the skull. Then the tumor is removed as much as possible. The bone is then restored back, and the incision on the scalp is closed. Sometimes surgery is not viable in case the tumor has developed in the brain stem or some other complex parts.Neurosurgeons can surgically remove some tumors completely (called resection or complete removal). If the tumor is near sensitive areas of the brain, neurosurgeons will only be able to remove part of it (called partial removal). Even partial removals can relieve symptoms and facilitate or increase the effectiveness of other treatments.The role of surgery in treating brain tumorsSurgery can provide:-The complete removal of some brain tumors- A sample to enable doctors to diagnosis the tumor and recommend the most appropriate treatment- Better quality of life:- Reduced symptoms and improved ability to function (e.g., to think, speak or see better)- Less pressure within the skull from the tumor- A longer lifeIn case you or any of your near ones is affected with brain tumor, you should visit the doctor to know the possible treatments other than surgery and other important questions related to brain tumor.

'Brain Attack' and 'Heart Attack': How Are They Different?

Dr. sudheerambekar
It is a common notion among people that 'brain attack' or 'stroke' and 'heart attack' are one and the same. There is also a profound lack of knowledge of common risk factors and symptoms of stroke. The inability of bystanders to recognise the common symptoms of stroke is a major hurdle in the appropriate management of patients with stroke as the golden hour is lost, especially in India where the pre-hospital services are not well organised. Treatment within the first 8 hours of onset of symptoms is most effective and prevents long-term morbidity and mortality. It is estimated that one person dies of a stroke every 36 seconds in India. In a study conducted among the rural population in Maharashtra in 2012, only 51% of the 373 respondents were able to correctly identify 'stroke' as a disorder of the brain, while 19% associated it with a heart attack! Also, one-third of the respondents (34%) did not know at least one risk factor for stroke. This phenomenon is seen in both developing and developed countries, although the proportions are lower in developed countries. What are the similarities and differences between 'stroke' and 'heart attack'?A heart attack refers to damage to the muscle of the heart, usually from a lack of blood flow. Most of the time, a blood clot forms in one of the arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood, blocking the flow of blood. As the heart muscle starves, it begins to die, causing chest pain and other symptoms of heart attack.A Stroke is a similar blockage in an artery in the brain or neck that supplies blood to the brain. When a clot forms in one of those arteries and stops blood flow, a section of the brain begins to die. When those cells die, the person loses whatever function those brain cells controlled. There is another category called the 'hemorrhagic stroke' in which a blood vessel bursts and bleeds in the brain.While the common symptoms of a heart attack are chest pain, tightness and shoulder pain, the symptoms of stroke are completely different and may range from nothing to a headache, paralysis of an arm or leg, unconsciousness, coma and death. Another type of stroke is a transient ischemic attack (TIA), essentially a “mini-stroke” caused by a temporary clot. TIA symptoms are identical to those of other kinds of strokes, but because they occur quickly and usually last less than five minutes, this brain attack often goes unnoticed.While a TIA doesn’t usually cause permanent injury to the brain, it serves as a warning for patients and gives them time to seek further medical treatment in preventing ischemic or hemorrhagic strokes.Because specific areas of the brain control certain functions, one can predict the effects of a stroke based on the location of the blockage. If the blockage occurs near the front of the brain, it can affect such things as organisation skills, memory, communication, and problem-solving. If it occurs lower down, near the brainstem, it can cause unconsciousness and an inability to breathe, swallow, or control elimination.if it occurs to one side near the temple, speech may be affected. In addition, which side (hemisphere) of the brain the stroke occurs on determines its side effects and which body functions are affected. The right side generally controls a person's emotions, creativity and abstract thinking. If the blockage occurs anywhere on the right side of the brain, it can cause the following symptoms: Paralysis or weakness on the left side of the bodyDisorientationExcessive talkingAn inability to perform routine tasks such as brushing the teeth, buttoning a shirt or tying shoelaceThe left side controls more of speech, logic, perception and organisation. If the stroke occurs anywhere on the left side of the brain, it can cause the following symptoms:Paralysis or weakness on the right side of the bodyDepressionAn inability to understand languageTrouble speakingMemory problemsDecreased attention span Heart attack and Stroke have many risk factors in common. They may be modifiable or non-modifiable. Some of the modifiable risk factors include High Blood PressureHeart DiseaseDiabetes MellitusCigarette smokingHistory of transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs)High blood CholesterolLack of exercise, physical inactivityObesityExcessive alcohol useDrug abuse  Some of the non-modifiable risk factors include- Age > 55 yearsMale genderRace (Asians and African-Americans have a greater risk than Caucasians)History of prior strokeFamily history of stroke

Your Brain Knows the Difference Between Real Sugar & Sugar Free Food

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
In today’s lifestyle, it has become a fad to substitute regular food with zero or low-caloric food products just to save a few calories. The most common is the use of sugar-free or artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. It seems logical to replace a sugar-loaded or based food item with a low calorie version of it, and which should automatically lead to weight loss. But according to many researchers, it’s been shown that such sugar-free foods are actually making you fat as compared to real sugar. Let’s see how artificial sweeteners make you fat.Sugar and sweeteners don’t chemically resemble each other; they belong to different classes of substances. Sugars are simple carbohydrates or glucose and are easily metabolized to energy. But sweeteners are prepared by synthetic procedure and act as a food additive for the sweetening effect. They are calorie-free or low-calorie but are up to 450 times sweeter than real sugar because they are made up of sweet-tasting compounds.When sugar is metabolized by the body cells, levels of dopamine hormone (a neuro-transmitter) rise, which leads to the feeling of satisfaction and satiety value. It sends a signal to the brain that the body’s energy needs are met. But when artificial sweetener is consumed, the brain keeps on waiting for the calories to come; it causes a drop in blood sugar which triggers hunger and cravings for more food. People are not metabolically satisfied after consuming them. Artificial sweeteners are also know to rapidly stimulate the release of insulin and Leptin hormones that are involved with satiety and fat storage, and may therefore lead to weight gain.So, next time think twice before reaching for your artificial sweetener. Instead eat the real thing but keep a check on the quantity. Instead of having two teaspoons of sugar in your tea, try one. Or you can switch to more natural sources like fruits to satisfy your sugar cravings without compromising on your health.