Today’s Headlines: Emulsifiers, Sleep and Eyelashes

Common food ingredient could be contributing to chronic diseases. Emulsifiers are found in many of the processed foods we eat. They act as a kind of bridge between fats and water-based components to keep them from separating out the way oil separates in salad dressing. But new research has found that these chemicals may be having a serious effect on your health. “Researchers fed mice emulsifiers through water or food. The experiment used polysorbate 80 (common in ice cream) and carboxymethylcellulose, and found that it altered microbiota in a way that caused chronic inflammation. They tested the emulsifiers at levels below those approved for use in food and also at levels modeled to mirror what a person would eat if they eat a lot of processed food. Mice with abnormal immune systems fed emulsifiers developed chronic colitis. Those with normal immune systems developed mild intestinal inflammation and a metabolic disorder that caused them to eat more, and become obese, hyperglycemic, and insulin resistant. The inflammatory response prompted by eating emulsifiers appears to interfere with ‘satiety’–the term scientists use for behaving like you’ve eaten enough–and can lead to overeating. Mice experiencing this inflammation therefore developed more fat.” The findings may help explain some of the rise in these diseases in recent decades. (TIME)

Getting too much sleep could raise your stroke risk. While most recent research has focused on the negative consequences of not getting enough sleep, new research is finding that getting too much may also reflect poor health. “Adults who sleep more than eight hours a night may face a higher risk of stroke. These so-called ‘long sleepers’ were 46 percent more likely to have a stroke than those who got only six to eight hours of sleep a night. However, the researchers don’t know if the long sleep is a cause, consequence or early warning sign of declining brain health. After reviewing previous research on the possible link between sleep and stroke risk, they said they only found an association that they can’t explain.” The team emphasizes that those getting more than 8 hours shouldn’t cut their sleep short. “The researchers suspect long sleeping time is a warning signal and emphasize that the change in sleeping patterns is more the concern. Long sleepers would be wise to monitor their lifestyle, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Adults over the age of 60 or 65 who notice they are sleeping more should make sure their cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol are under control.” (CBS)

Optimum eyelash length determined by researchers. Most women strive to make their eyelashes appear longer, but researchers say the current length has been carefully determined by evolution to maximize eye health. “After measuring the dimensions of nearly two dozen mammal eyes, performing a series of wind tunnel experiments and engaging in some complex fluid dynamic modeling, researchers determined that most mammal eyelashes are one-third the length of their eyes–just the right length to minimize the flow of air over the eyeball. This reduction of airflow is important because less moving air across the eye keeps evaporation at bay and stops irritating dust from getting deposited on the eye surface. Other experiments revealed that thick eyelashes are more effective at blocking airflow from moving across the eye, but they also limit access to light. This may explain why animals like giraffes and kangaroos that live in bright dusty environments have several rows of eyelashes while other mammals do not.” Interestingly, experiments found that the curviness of lashes didn’t affect their function. (LA Times)