Why Does Coffee Keep Us Awake?

Do you remember the late nights during exams when the only thing on your mind was crawling into bed? And how a single cup of hot coffee kept you up all night with your books? Let’s find out how.

Coffee’s ability to keep you awake is all thanks to its primary constituent – caffeine. Caffeine works by changing the chemistry of the brain. It blocks the action of a natural brain chemical that is associated with sleep.

How sleep sets in
Drowsiness is caused by the slowing down of nerve cell activity in your brain. A chemical
called adenosine binds itself to the adenosine receptors in our brain. It is this binding of adenosine that causes the slowing down of nerve cell activity. Where does Adenosine come from? It is produced by your daily activity. For example, muscles produce adenosine as one of the byproducts of exercise.

How caffeine prevents drowsiness
Here is the amazing fact about caffeine that makes it so effective against drowsiness: To a
nerve cell, caffeine looks like adenosine!

Therefore the adenosine receptors bind to the Caffeine in your coffee, instead of the actual adenosine. However, it doesn’t slow down the cell’s activity as adenosine would. The cells cannot sense adenosine anymore because caffeine is taking up all the receptors adenosine binds to. So instead of slowing down because of the adenosine level, the cells speed up!

With caffeine blocking the adenosine, you have increased neuron firing in the brain. The pituitary gland sees all of the activity and thinks some sort of emergency must be occurring, so it releases hormones that tell the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline (epinephrine). Adrenaline is, of course, the “fight or flight” hormone and it has a number of effects on your body:

  • Your pupils dilate
  • Your breathing tubes open up
  • Your heart beats faster
  • Blood vessels on the surface constrict to slow blood flow from cuts and also to increase blood flow to muscles
  • Blood flow to the stomach slows
  • The liver releases sugar into the bloodstream for extra energy
  • Muscles tighten up ready for action

In short, it banishes drowsiness and gets you all charged up.

Is It Safe To Eat Chocolate That Has Turned Grey?

Imagine all the different types of delicacies made of chocolate; chocolate bars, chocolate fudge, chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate ice cream, chocolate milk, chocolate cereal, hot chocolate, chocolate sauce… the list is endless. But have you ever seen this wonderful treat turn grey?

The grey effect
There’s nothing quite like opening a much-anticipated box of chocolates only to find that
it is discolored and slightly grey. When chocolate turns grey like that, one of two things could be the reason: sugar bloom or fat bloom.

Sugar bloom is normally caused by surface moisture. The moisture causes the sugar in the chocolate to dissolve. Once the moisture evaporates, sugar crystals remain on the surface. If this process is repeated, the surface can become sticky and even more discolored. Although sugar bloom is most often the result of overly humid storage, it can happen when the chocolate has been stored at a relatively cool temperature and is then moved too quickly into much warmer surroundings. When this happens, the chocolate sweats, producing surface moisture.

Fat bloom is similar to sugar bloom, except that it is fat or cocoa butter that separates from the chocolate and deposits itself on the outside of the candy. As with sugar bloom, the most common causes of fat bloom are quick temperature changes and overly warm storage.

Although it might look a little less appetizing than a lustrous, rich chocolaty-brown piece of candy, it is still okay to eat. You may find the texture of sugar-bloomed chocolate to be a bit grainy on the outside, but it should still taste good.

Tips to preserve it
To prevent chocolate from graying, simply use proper storage methods. Since it can easily
absorb flavours from food or other products situated nearby, it should be tightly wrapped and stored away from pungent odours. The ideal temperature for storage is between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 20 degrees Celsius), with no more than 50 percent to 55 percent relative humidity. If stored properly, you can expect milk chocolate and white chocolate to be good for up to six months. Other types of chocolate can have an even longer shelf life.

So go ahead and gorge on those wonderful goodies to your heart’s content. Just make sure you don’t overeat, because even though grey chocolate is not bad, too much of any chocolate can make you fall sick. Take care and have fun.

The Difference Between Baking Powder and Baking Soda

What is Baking soda and baking powder?
Before knowing what kind of functions baking soda and baking powder perform, let us first know what they are. Baking soda and baking powder are leavening agents. When they are added to food products they release carbon dioxide in order for the food item to rise. They are two different chemicals used for baking. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate.

Baking powder is sodium bicarbonate and potassium bitartrate. Baking powder is not a pure form of sodium bicarbonate. Hence if you are substituting baking soda then you will have to add twice the actual amount suggested as baking powder is a milder version.

The history of baking soda and baking powder
The ancient Egyptians used natural deposits of natron, a natural mixture of sodium carbonate decahydrate, and sodium bicarbonate as soap. In 1791, famous French chemist Nicolas Leblanc produced sodium bicarbonate also called as the soda ash. This discovery was refined by Alfred Bird. He discovered the modern variants baking powder and baking soda in 1843.

Later in 1846, two New York bakers, John Dwight and Austin Church started a factory that developed baking soda from sodium bicarbonate and carbon dioxide.

In later years, it was found that this product can also be used for cleaning utensils, extinguishing fire and many such essential works.

The functions of baking soda and baking powder
In school, you must have done many experiments where you mix sodium bicarbonate which is a base and vinegar which is an acid to get a bubbling reaction. Baking soda and baking powder work on similar basis. When you add water to baking powder or baking soda, the dry acid and the base go into a reaction and start producing carbon dioxide bubbles.

When baking soda or baking powder is combined with a moist substance like a cake mix, it results in a chemical reaction and bubbles of carbon dioxide expand under the oven temperature and the product starts rising.

Remember, although the functions of both baking soda and baking powder are somewhat similar, they still have a difference. Hence recipes that suggest baking powder to be used, it is better to use baking powder and not baking soda. However in recipes where you have to use baking soda, you can substitute it with baking powder as the baking powder is a milder version and will not harm you in any way. But this may not be the case with baking soda.

So, the next time you nibble on a cake or a muffin do not forget the difference between baking soda and baking powder.

How to get rid of garlic’s pungent smell?

Everyone relishes garlic bread but even one bite later you realize that not just your mouth but even your sweat smells funny!  In fact, even our burps emit a foul smell after we consume garlic in our food. Why is it that in spite of using so much of deodorant our body emits a foul smell especially when we consume garlic! Let us find out why this happens…

The cause of foul smell
Garlic is made up of sulphuric compoundsthat render the pungent smell to it. Also, when we put garlic in our mouth, it encourages the growth of certain bacteria that is already present in our mouth. This leads to bad breath.

Garlic contains allyl methyl sulphide, which is the reason for the pungent smell. It passes into our blood stream during the digestion process. Once it is in our body, it gets to the pores of our skin and when we sweat, it gets expelled and causes the sweat to smell. The allyl methyl sulphide also enters our lungs and contaminates the air inside. As we breathe, the air enters our lungs, gets contaminated and comes out as we exhale. This is why our breath smells.

The effect of this chemical lasts for few hours but the bad breath and body odour will continue till it is completely thrown out of our system by way of sweat or excreta.

How to get rid of the smell
Brush your teeth and wash your mouth with a good mouthwash to kill the triggered bacteria that adds to the foul smell.

Have a good shower to wash off the stinky sweat.

Dab your skin with some good smelling powder or deodorant to keep the smell away.
Research has shown that drinking milk helps bring down the effect of garlic in our blood stream and thus reduces the odour from reaching the lungs.

Another way to reduce the effect of garlic is to have parsley and sprigs. This is the reason why parsley and sprigs are combined with garlic in many of the exotic food preparations.

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure, it is always better to stay away from garlic if you do not wish to smell “garlicky”. Or else the next time, you decide to have anything garlicky, be prepared to drink milk to bring down the effect of the same.

The Importance Of Calcium To Teeth

Each one of us has grown up listening to our mother’s telling us about the benefits of milk. When one talks of milk, the first thing it gets associated with is calcium. Milk is considered as an essential source of calcium. But is calcium really important to our body and especially our teeth?

Calcium deficiency does lead to dental and bone problems. Very few of us are aware that teeth are also bones. About one third of our bones and teeth are made of calcium. That is why drinking milk is important because you need the calcium from the milk to grow and maintain your bones and teeth.

Calcium is a vital mineral that our body requires on a daily basis. However, our body cannot produce this nutrient on its own. So, it relies on the food that we eat. Calcium is important for the functioning of the nerves, muscle contractions, which includes our heartbeat, and for cell division. The cells of our body that carry nerve impulses also need this essential nutrient. Calcium also acts as an enzyme activator in our body.

Calcium is important for the entire skeleton including our jawbone. It strengthens our jawbones and makes our gums healthy. Calcium rich body prevents tooth decay and it definitely helps in providing a great smile that can be considered as the biggest asset in our life.

Milk and dairy products are natural and the most concentrated source of calcium. Only during our developmental ages, calcium gets deposited on our bones and teeth. Once the development is done, the deposition stops. Hence it is necessary to get enough calcium through our diet in the early years of our life. If teeth are deprived of calcium they start showing signs of cavities and we end up with dental carries.

So, next time your mother scolds you for not having your routine cup of milk, take her words seriously and ensure that your body gets its usual quota of calcium.

Calcium Hypochlorite: Better than Bleach?

Calcium hypochlorite (also known as hypochlorous acid, calcium salt and chlorinated lime the formula Ca(ClO)2)  is a chemical compound, similar to bleach, that is often used in water treatment processes. Let’s find what are the secrets behind this compound.

As an ionic compound, calcium hypochlorite’s calcium atom has lost the two valence electrons in its outermost shell, while each of the hypochlorite ions has gained an electron. The opposite charges on hypochlorite ions and calcium ions create an attraction between them when they are in the solid form. When the calcium hypochlorite dissolves in water, however, interactions with water molecules take the place of interactions between ions and the ions dissociate or drift apart as the solid dissolves in the water.

Calcium hypochlorite is one of the best chemical disinfectants for water, better than household bleach by far. It destroys a variety of disease causing organisms including bacteria, yeast, fungus, spores, and viruses.

Calcium Hypochlorite is widely available for use as swimming pool chlorine tablets or white powder that is much more stable than chlorine. This is often known as “pool shock”.

Calcium hypochlorite acts as a weak base, meaning that the hypochlorite ions can pick up hydrogen ions from the water to become hypochlorous acid (HClO). Because pH is the negative log of the hydrogen ion concentration in water, the hypochlorite ions decrease the hydrogen ion concentration, thereby increasing the pH. Calcium hypochlorite is similar in this regard to sodium hypochlorite, the active ingredient in chlorine bleach. However, sodium hypochlorite has one hypochlorite ion while calcium hypochlorite has two.

Hypochlorous acid is highly toxic to bacteria, so when chlorinating pools or treating water, it’s generally best to adjust the pH so hypochlorous acid will predominate in the solution rather than the hypochlorite ion. As the pH decreases, more of the hypochlorite ions pick up protons to become hypochlorous acid. However, in an alkaline solution, less hypochlorous acid will be present. If the water becomes too acidic, however, it will be unfit for swimmers, so pool operators generally try to maintain pH at a slightly alkaline level to ensure an optimum concentration of hypochlorous acid without any of the problems associated with acidity.

The Secrets Behind Mercury Toxicity

 With all the news about the danger of mercury emissions, I decided it was time to understand how mercury works in our bodies. Now I know how this element works in body and wahy our young are so vulnerable to it.

Mercury changes forms. It has different costumes. It ducks into phone booths as organic, and comes out as inorganic, and then darts into a dark cell to do its damage leaving someone else’s fingerprints. Mystery. It did take scientists a long time to determine how mercury changes faces so fast. Each form attacks a different aspect of the cell membrane, or your DNA or your enzymes.

Methyl mercury is oxidized into the “ionic” form of mercury. This is a very destructive form of mercury. (Its problem is that it cannot travel very far.) The compound is the most dangerous form due to its ability to travel great distances and enter all cells. It is absorbed by shellfish and fish, through their gills; it is dispersed by their blood through their bodies, and accumulates in their fatty tissue. The contaminated fish is eaten by other fish, and birds and mammals–including humans. The biggest source of mercury exposure in humans comes from eating fish and shellfish.

Once eaten, mercury goes directly into the highest lipid-containing organs in our bodies–including breasts and brains. Breast milk, which is packed with nutrients and high in lipid content, can contain mercury.

Absorption of mercury from the area under your tongue and the insides of your cheeks are the fastest absorption. These areas, of course, are in close proximity to the mercury fillings, so efficiency of absorption is great. From the blood stream, mercury can travel to any cell in the body, where it can either disable or destroy the tissues. Mercury can also travel directly from the fillings into the lungs, into the blood stream and, as before described, every cell in the body becomes a valid target.

All of this travel and destruction is what defines mercury toxicity. It may favor nerve tissue for a destruction target, but the kidney is high up on its list of tissues to destroy. After these two areas, it can wreak havoc in any tissue that might get in its way. For this reason, it is difficult to devise a change in the normal chemistry of the body, called a test, which would “prove” mercury (the CAS number is 7439-97-6)toxicity. It can alter almost anything in the body; therefore, mercury should not be allowed to enter for any reason.

Once in our bodies, mercury stays there for many months, and most people have some amount of mercury in their tissues at all times. Its exposure at high levels can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and immune system of people of all ages.

How to Perm Hair?

Chemically processing hair requires the breakdown and restructuring of the hair into a state different than its natural one. Relaxers permanently straighten the hair using chemicals. Perms (short for “permanent waves”) chemically curl the hair permanently. Sometimes people incorrectly refer to hair relaxers as perms, but these are two different processes that achieve different results.

Perms are a thioglycolate-based chemical product. This means they can only be processed with another thioglycolate-based product. If a perm were to be applied to hair that was previously relaxed using lye or any other non-thioglycolate relaxer, the hair would begin to break off and come out every time it was washed or combed. The two different chemical processes will break down the hair structure so severely that the hair will break off or fall out even with gentle handling. However, if a thioglycolate-based relaxer was previously applied to the hair, a perm can be applied. This should only be done by a licensed hair stylist who is trained in such processes or applications. Be advised that the previously relaxed hair may need to be cut during processing, as it may become dry, brittle and prone to breakage.

Chemical Relaxers
Chemical relaxers come in various chemical formulas, which include sodium hydroxide (lye), guanidine carbonate, calcium hydroxide, ammonium bisulfite and a thioglycolate-based variety. Most relaxers found at mass retail are no-lye formulas using guanidine carbonate, calcium hydroxide or ammonium thioglycolate. If you have previously relaxed your hair with a lye-based, guanidine carbonate or calcium-hydroxide-based relaxer you can alternate formulas when it comes time for your retouch, which is four to six weeks after you last relaxed your hair. However, thioglycolate-based relaxers cannot be used on hair that was previously relaxed with any of these other types of relaxers. Thioglycolate-based relaxers can only be used with another thioglycolate-based product. Ammonium bisulfite (the CAS number is 10192-30-0) relaxers are very common in mass beauty-supply retail stores; however, they are labeled “for salon use only,” meaning they should only be processed by a licensed stylist.

Perming Frequency
If you perm hair that has been previously relaxed with a thioglycolate-based relaxer, the process is only performed once. Any perm touch-ups will be done on the new growth between the scalp and the previously permed hair. If any of the previously relaxed hair remains beneath your perm, it will be cut off, because it now represents damaged ends that will break.

How Does Altabax Work?

Altabax (retapamulin), is an antibacterial ointment used to treat the highly contagious bacterial skin infection impetigo. Manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Altabax is classified as a pleuromutilin antibiotic, and retapamulin was the first of this class to be developed for topical use in humans.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Altabax in 2007 as a topical treatment for impetigo. Altabax is not effective in treating skin infections not caused by bacteria.

Impetigo is most common in children, but adults can also get impetigo. The bacteria usually enter through an insect bite, scrape, or cut. Impetigo can be spread through direct contact with an infected person’s sores, or by coming in contact with clothing or other items used by the person. In young children, blisters may appear on the body. Another type of impetigo forms sores on the legs and feet that can leave scars. Some forms of impetigo are itchy; some are painful. Typically, red sores appear on the face around the mouth and nose. The sores blister. When ruptured, they ooze fluid or pus. A crust then forms around the sore.

The patient should apply a thin layer of Altabax ointment twice daily for five days and may use the medication longer with the doctor’s recommendation. Patients can cover the skin areas with a bandage or gauze. It is not to be used in the nose or eyes or in the vaginal or rectal areas. It has not been determined if Altabax is safe for use during breast-feeding. Wear gloves when applying the Altabax ointment and use the ointment for the prescribed length of time. If necessary, bandage the infected area to prevent bacteria from spreading to other areas.

Retapamulin is intended for use on the outside of the body only and is not to be taken orally.  It is intended for use specifically to treat infections caused by Staphlococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes. Altabax will not be effective if used for other forms of the impetigo infection and can cause the patient to develop a super infection or antibiotic resistance.

Side Effects
Children using Altabax can experience generalized itching and itching at the application site, diarrhea, sore nasal passages and throat, headache, fever and eczema. Side-effects experienced by adults using Altabax are headache, skin irritation at the application site, nausea, diarrhea and sore nasal passages and throat. If you experience a severe reaction or severe irritation at the application site, the ointment should be wiped off immediately and discontinued. Your doctor can prescribe an alternative treatment.

Flomax Used For BPH

As men grow older, the prostate becomes an important aspect of health and check ups. Yearly prostate checks can help detect a host of different potentially lethal disorders that can attack your health and affect your quality of life. Although enlargement of the prostate is a benign condition, it may eventually lead to prostate cancer. So men also need some treaments to improve quality of life. One of these treatment options is Flomax.

Flomax is a prescription medication used to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH. BPH is a common condition in older men; it is also known as prostate enlargement. BPH occurs when large nodules form inside the prostate gland. This enlarges the size of the prostate which can narrow your urethra, causing issues urinating as well as an increased risk of a urinary tract infection.

Morniflumate is reported as an ingredient of Flomax.It works by relaxing the muscles in and around the prostate and urinary tract. Although it is only approved for use in BPH, it is also occasionally prescribed to treat other urinary problems such as certain spinal cord injuries and neurogenic bladder leakage. Flomax does not treat the underlying condition of BPH, but it does improve the symptoms for most men who take it. As the name indicates, Flomax helps with difficulty urinating; this is one of the most common symptoms of BPH.

Once the veins and arteries relax around the affected prostate and bladder neck, regardless of the size of the prostate, there is an increased amount of room in the urinary tract. This allows urine to flow freely out of the bladder and reduces the risk of a urinary tract infection. It also reduces some of the symptoms associated with BPH such as the frequent urge to urinate and some of the pain associated with urinating.

Flomax(Morniflumate) should not be taken by anyone who has shown symptoms of an allergy to this medication or similar medications in the past. It should be used with caution by people who have orthostatic hypotension (feeling dizzy or fainting when standing up). Adequate studies of Flomax during pregnancy and breastfeeding have not been done because the drug is only FDA approved to treat men with BPH.

Like any medication, Flomax may have effects other than improving the condition it treats. The most common side effects are dizziness, headache, weakness, diarrhea, back pain and abnormal ejaculation. In rare cases, Flomax can cause blurry vision, sleepiness or priapism (an erection that lasts too long).