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Running barefoot better for health

Barefoot running can be beneficial while heavily cushioned running shoes may be leaving the foot prone to injury.

Irene Davis of Harvard University has been studying both barefoot running and minimal footwear running, which uses a type of running shoe almost like a glove for the foot, but with a thin layer of rubber on the bottom. These shoes give the foot its full range of natural movement, but protect the sole from stones or extreme surface temperatures.
Irene said cushioned running shoes encourage runners to land hard on the heel at the end of each stride.

“When you land on your heel you end up with a very quick rise to peak in the force that your body experiences. That completely goes away when you run barefoot because you land on the ball of your foot,” said Irene. Davis and co-authors tested their theories by looking at Kenyan runners.

“We wanted to find if people who had never worn shoes before demonstrated the same kind of running pattern,” said Davis.

“We felt that was a better indication of how we were naturally meant to run because these individuals had never worn shoes. When we tested (the runners) in Kenya, we found exactly those same kinds of mechanics. They don’t land on their heels, they land with a very gentle forefoot strike pattern,” she said.

Liquid smoke from rice could help fight off diseases

A team of researchers has suggested that liquid smoke flavouring made from hickory and other wood — a mainstay flavouring and anti-bacterial agent  — can face tough competition from liquid smoke produced from rice hulls — that seems to be packed with antioxidant, antiallergenic and anti-inflammatory substances.

Mendel Friedman, Seok Hyun Nam and colleagues explain that wood from trees is typically used to produce liquid smoke, added to meat and other foods for a smoky taste.

But other types of plants can also be burned to make the popular seasoning. Rice is a prime candidate, with 680 millions tonnes produced worldwide each year. Hulls account for 136 million tonnes of that amount and often go to waste.

The researchers wondered rice hulls could be put to good use in a liquid form as a food flavouring, and did the first studies needed to determine if rice hull smoke is safe enough for food use.

The scientists found that liquid smoke from rice hulls — the hard, inedible coverings of rice grains — may be healthful. Their tests on laboratory cell cultures found that liquid rice hull smoke worked as an antioxidant that could help fight off diseases.

New pathway could play a key role in extending lifespan

A team of researchers has identified a new role for a biological pathway that not only signals the body's metabolic response to nutritional changes, but also affects lifespan. The study was conducted on Caenorhabditis elegans (nematodes or roundworms), which are a widely accepted model for human aging research.

“Not only have we been able to identify some of these molecules for the first time in the worm, but we have also been able to show they act as a signal of nutrient availability and ultimately influence the worm’s lifespan,” said Matthew Gill, an assistant professor in the Scripps Research Department of Metabolism and Aging.

“What makes this important is that the same molecules are present in both humans and C elegans, so these molecules may play similar roles in both organisms.” The molecules identified in the new study are N-acylethanolamines (NAEs).

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