Can the Difference between Heavy and Thin Come Down to a few letters?

According to a recent article in the New York Times, our brains respond to sweet things but not always in the same way.  A research study by the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation and the Yale Diabetes Research Center, explains that there are two types of sweet chemical combinations: sucrose and glucose.  When injected into the brains of mice, the two energy sources produce very different results: “glucose blunts hunger signals, whereas fructose stimulates them.”
Then the researchers behind this study set out to try this on humans.  Here’s what they found:
“Blood flow and activity in brain areas controlling appetite, emotion and reward decreased after consuming a drink with glucose, and participants reported greater feelings of fullness. In contrast, after drinking fructose, the brain appetite and reward areas continued to stay active, and participants did not report feeling full.”
Well, well, well.  For a sweet-tooth like me.  I got all excited.  Now I can satisfy those sweet cravings with something that’s actually good for me: glucose!
Not so fast.  You see most sweet stuff is a combination of the two, and fructose dominates.
And this is where the research ends.  There’s nothing we can do about this at this inequality at this point except be more educated about it.
Or perhaps one of you trailblazers out there can convince the food and bev industry to make glucose-only products?
I would totally jump on the band wagon!

More to Love: Additions to the Reading List

Came across some great beauty-in-culture reading this week.  Have a read:

  • Beauty is serious business, especially where science is concerned

  • So many actresses are focused on for their beauty or love lives.  But most of them are hard-working mothers who serve as role models on the screen and in real life.  Why can’t we start focusing on that side of actresses more? Here’s one good example: Sharon Leal 

  • Bobbi Brown comes out with another book.  But this time it focuses on the power of women and how make-up can help fuel that

  • Tech equipment companies go…beauty?  Yep, check out the latest from Panasonic

Any more stories to add? Comment or tweet us @Beautyskew

More to Love: Additions to the Reading List

  • What are the defining aesthetic categories of our age?

  • What do Cleopatra and modern women have in common?

  • Science says beautiful people are more concerned with conformity & self-promotion than tolerance & independence … one person’s response

  • Voluptuous women are entering the elite spaces of skinny chicks: Vogue

Any more stories to add?  Tweet or comment @Beautyskew

Why We Are Attracted to Art From a Neuroscience POV

From a scientific and evolutionary point of view, we are attracted to art.  But why?  The beauty of the person I can understand.  According to most theories out there we are attracted to bodies that appear healthy and reproductive.

But art? Huh?

Among the many theories I’ve shared in this blog, here’s one that I find particularly fascinating.  I’m basing my summary of this theory on an excerpt I read in the NY Times.  I have to admit, it was one of these articles that took me five times of careful reading to understand, and I probably only understood 20% of it.  BUT, I think I “got” the most important 20%.

According to the author, Eric Kandel, and based off of numerous neurological experiments, it’s been proven that our brains are wired to respond to the beauty of art.   But why have our brains formed that way? We are attracted to art because we want to understand and share in the thinking of the artist.  It’s an inherent desire.  As Kandel writes: “our response to art stems from an irrepressible urge to recreate in our own brains the creative process – cognitive, emotional, and emphatic – through which the artist produced the work.”  In other words, through art appreciation we aren’t only just observing a beautiful creation, but actually getting into the brains of the artists and learning how they think.

My question is whether we’re conscious of this in any way.  So much of beauty is visceral, no?  Though, after reading this theory I can sort of see it in my own behavior; I just never thought of it that way.

I guess the next time I see a beautiful piece of art, I’ll have to see if I recognize this myself.

Stop the Discrimination!

Amanda Knox

In my continual quest to dig deeply into our complex relationship with beauty (beautiful things and beautiful people), I found another story about the disadvantages of being beautiful.   Sure, there are a TON of advantages to being good-looking, and they’re even proven by science.
But we human beings just don’t like it when people have unfair advantages.  And so we tend to negatively discriminate against them in order to level the playing field.
I get it in a way.  But such bias can really be detrimental.
In the December 2011 issue of Allure magazine, Rebecca Mead illustrates in “Hating the Beautiful” not only how biased against beautiful people we can be, but how influential that bias can be.  We’re not talking about just nasty talk around the water cooler or in the ladies bathroom.
Beautiful people are negatively discriminated against in the court room.  Amanda Knox anyone?   Beautiful people fare less well on job interviews if the interview is conducted by someone of the same-sex (unless the interviewer is attractive herself, then the bias isn’t evident).  Beautiful people can get unfair treatment in the office too.  Remember Deborahlee Lorenzana who was fired, she claims, for being too sexy?
In a world full of strife, must we ALSO be jealous of and mean to others who may have some advantages over us?  Also, who’s to say these beautiful people we discriminate against actually have it so good anyway?  Maybe if all embraced our sexuality and own beautiful assets fully, we wouldn’t be so jealous of others.
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Stop the nastiness already, Biology doesn’t have to dictate our emotions

The Ugliness of Jealousy

If any of you have taken a basic evolutionary biology course at some point in your lives, you know what’s at the heart of so much “female-on-female” jealousy.  While women are hardwired to want to mate with fewer but greater providers, men are wired to want to mate with as many women as possible.  And the sexier these women are the better!
These prehistoric tendencies are clearly still alive and well as evidenced by a study conducted among women in Canada.  Women were asked to look at images of women dressed provocatively and respond (“Women Aggressive Toward ‘Sexy’ peers“).  Guess what?  97% of the subjects made bitchy comments.  In another study, women were asked to look at the same provocatively dressed gal and then were asked if they would let their boyfriends hang out with her.  No sh@#$t, most of them said “no way”.  When the pic of the sex gal was altered to make her look fatter, of course, the subjects were less worried about their men hanging with her.
OK, I get it.  Men can be horn dogs and can get attracted to a hot girl besides ourselves.  But times have changed.  Sure, we may still have age-old instincts but we don’t have to succumb to them.  Most men don’t boink every hot girl they see so why can’t we control our emotions a bit?
If the overpowering desire to demean a sexy girl comes upon us, let’s all take a deep breath and remind ourselves that we’re not Neanderthals anymore.  Maybe just maybe, we’ll make a new friend or at least, add some more positivity to our lives.
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