STAYING FIT AND HEALTHY DURING THE HOLIDAYS

With the holidays coming up, the highlight for many people during this season is gathering with family and friends and enjoying favorite holiday treats. Here are some tips that will help you enjoy your holidays to the fullest while not increasing your waistline.

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MAKING AND KEEPING NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

Only 8 percent of individuals achieved their resolutions in 2016, according to Statistic Brain. This is likely due to most people having unrealistic expectations about the speed, ease and consequences of the resolutions they make. People attempting self-change rarely succeed the first time; most need five or six attempts, according to a paper published in American Psychologist by Janet Polivy and Peter Herman. The authors suggest false hope syndrome is the cause for failure.

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HEALTHY HOLIDAY OPTIONS

The holidays are a wonderful time to gather with family and friends to celebrate. These celebrations often consist of many delicious treats and hardy meals. You can still maintain a healthy diet with a little thought and planning in advance. Research from a recent Web-based survey found 18 percent of people feel they cannot eat healthily during the holidays because they don’t want to miss out on their favorite foods. You can still eat the foods you enjoy this season, just in moderation.

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Yeast has already given us bread, wine and beer, but in the very near future it may be a new painkiller.

 

Researchers at Stanford University have genetically engineered baker’s yeast to act on sugar so that in three to five days the sugar is converted to hydrocodone. In the same general way yeast can work on sugar and turn it into alcohol, the engineered yeast can take sugar, break it down and reassemble it into an opioid drug, according to the researchers.


Hydrocodone is an opioid class drug whose chemical cousins, oxycodone and morphine, can take more than a year to produce from poppies grown on licensed farms around the world. The poppies must be harvested, processed and shipped to pharmaceutical factories around the world. Speeding up the process would be valuable, as would removing the need for poppies.


In this new process, DNA is introduced into yeast cells that instruct it to create a chemical assembly line. Genes from plants, bacteria and rats are included in the genetic engineering.


“When we started work a decade ago, many experts thought it would be impossible to engineer yeast to replace the entire farm-to-factory process,” said senior study author Christina Smolke, a Stanford

YEAST TRANSFORMS QUICKLY INTO HYDROCODONE

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

more articles by Angela s. hoover

associate professor of bioengineering. The experiment yields thus far have been too small for practical application as yet; it takes a whopping 4,400 gallons of bioengineered yeast to produce just a single dose of hydrocodone. The success is the proof of concept: It can be done. It just needs to produce more.


Smolke says there’s no possibility this technique, as it currently stands, could be used to produce illicit drugs such as heroin. “It’s definitely the case that no one could take these strains now and use them for commercial production or abuse them for nefarious purposes,” Smolke says. “You could get more of these compounds from eating a poppy seed bagel.”


While confirming genetically engineered yeast can produce hydrocodone and thus eliminate the use of poppies and the farm-to-factory process, there is still much more work needed to begin employing these methods. “This is only the beginning,” Smolke said. “The techniques we developed and demonstrate for opioid pain relievers can be adapted to produce many plant-derived compounds to fight cancers, infectious diseases and chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and arthritis.”