Oats for breakfast may not be so healthy


Oatmeal and other cereals containing oats are good for your heart. But scientists are warning that oat-based products might need closer monitoring for potential mould contamination. A report, published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, says that some oat-based breakfast cereals in the US contain a mould-related toxin called ochratoxin A (OTA) that’s been linked to kidney cancer in animal studies.

Previous studies have found the toxin in samples of pork, dried fruits, wine, coffee and other products. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, classifies it as a possible human carcinogen. In fact, the European Union has set maximum limits for OTA in food.

Daydreaming boosts brain power


Long condemned to be a waste of time, daydreaming may actually be a good practice. Researchers have found that a wandering mind can boost your brain power. According to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a wandering mind can impart a distinct cognitive advantage.

When we daydream – or have spontaneous, self-directed thoughts and associations – the brain is freed up to process tasks more effectively and hence daydreaming ‘offers a positive, simultaneous effect on task performance’. Scientists have shown that – unlike the localised neural activity associated with specific tasks – mind wandering involves many parts of the brain. This cross-brain involvement may also be involved in behavioural outcomes such as creativity and mood.

Lack of sunshine increases diabetes risk MORE than obesity


We’ve long been told that the main risk factor for type 2 diabetes is obesity. Now, however, scientists have discovered a lack of sunshine increases the risk of diabetes more than weight. This is because there was a direct link between low vitamin D levels and how the body metabolises glucose.

The study, published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, has warned people who have low levels of vitamin D that they are more likely to have pre-diabetes (a condition which can develop into type 2 diabetes within a decade) and metabolic syndrome (a medical term for a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity). Vitamin D is formed under the skin in a reaction to sunlight, but small amounts are also found in foods like eggs and oily fish.

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