I hope you enjoyed last week’s issue at least as much as I did writing it.
I’m once again starting with COVID-19. There’s a vast amount of misinformation regarding the new coronavirus out there. Nature published a view on their spread. If you want to follow the developments choose official and reliable platforms. Many medical journals such as Nature Medicine and The Lancet chose to make coronavirus research free. This is also the case with some paid media. A great website with tons of infographics and reliable resources is also this one.
Another thing I’d like to point you to is a recent podcast featuring Peter Hotez, MD, PhD. It’s mainly based on the developments in the USA, but it’s still a useful listen.
I decided not to contribute to the wide-spread reporting of the COVID-19. Instead, I only advocate against following mainstream media and choose more reliable sources. The ones mentioned above are accurate. Additionally, follow WHO and your country’s public health organisations.
More and more schools are moving their lectures online. This is one of the ways of keeping up with the study plan. Some universities are doing that in Slovenia, we’ll see what ours will do about it. I dream about the time when I’ll be able to wake up, sit behind a video lecture and listen to it while drinking my first coffee. Schools in Slovenia started using GoToMeeting for this purpose. Thinking about it, this solves so many problems:
- Students that commute save a lot of time and they get to organise time as they wish.
- It would enhance learning. Research shows that having a short quiz after learning something new greatly enhances memorisation. The easiest way to do this is online.
- There are no excuses for professors and students. Professors would have more time to prepare the lectures and make them more focused. Students, on the other hand, have no excuses when it comes to following the curriculum. Plus, anyone can rewind and rewatch anytime they want to.
- There’s more time left for extending practicals over a longer period. If the majority of lectures are online, more time is left for scheduling practical lessons. This, in turn, means smaller groups and more focused teaching and learning.
- Everything combined makes up a more pleasant learning environment for everyone.
I’m sure there are some more benefits. Have some experience? Some ideas? I’d like to hear them. Hit reply and send me an email!
Metabolism & Nutrition
Salt is many times considered one of the causes of high blood pressure. However, this is not true if you look at salt from a concentration standpoint. If you “dilute” the salt you eat by previously drinking some fluids, it will not affect your blood pressure. The interesting part is that fructose induces high blood pressure. When the concentration of salt in the blood serum increases, this drives an enzyme (an isomerase) that converts glucose into fructose. Fructose is then associated with the initial rise in blood pressure.
Speaking of fructose, there are some interesting facts to it. A long time ago, a mutation happened that allowed us to convert fructose into fat. This was important when humans got “out of Africa”. It allowed us to eat ripe fruit and store energy for the journey. The problem today is that this mutation is still present. And because of it, the developed world has lots of problems when it comes to obesity and diabetes. Sugar tastes good for an evolutionary reason, but it’s devastating for us today.
To go in-depth in both of these topics, listen to this podcast.
There’s a common misconception that alcohol causes better sleep. On the one hand, it “unplugs” our prefrontal cortex, which causes us to be more social and lively. On the other hand, alcohol is one of the most potent REM sleep suppressors we know of. We may have the notion that it improves sleep. In reality, it fragments it and we don’t even know it. We wake up more often during the night without being aware of it. I highly recommend reading “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker.
A great hashtag I came across on Twitter is #AlertNotAnxious, which sums it up perfectly. The world doesn’t need to panic and be anxious. But we sure do need alertness - washing hands, staying away from closed spaces with a lot of people, social distancing etc.
Be alert, not anxious.