Deepening our understanding of selfish behavior

Is a selfish person just processing the decisions that result in rewards to others differently? Perhaps, suggests a recent RIKEN study. A RIKEN team, led by Hiroyuki Nakahara of the Laboratory for Integrated Theoretical Neuroscience at the RIKEN Center for Brain Science, discovered this when they examined 36 healthy volunteers aged between 20 and 32 years. Their aim was to find out which parts of the brain are activated when considering giving rewards to others.

These volunteers were asked to choose one of two options, each with a baseline reward to themselves. One option then involved an extra financial reward for the participants and the other, a reward to “others”—in this case a series of well-known charities.

The group looked at the what happened when a person is giving an extra reward to one of the charities, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and a computational modeling method called a connectivity analysis. They discovered that there is a three-stage cascade process involved.

In the first stage, the brain detects a perceived benefit to others. The first stage was accompanied by neural activity in the right temporoparietal junction (right TPJ) and the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (left dlPFC)—regions that are well known to play a role in attention and social interaction.

The second stage involves understanding the impact of the offer of value on the outcome. This corresponded to activity in the right anterior insula (right AI), a key node of a brain circuit called the salience network, which has been associated with empathy.

The third stage is the actual decision-making process. Decision-making corresponded to activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), supporting findings from previous studies that have implicated the mPFC in strategic reasoning.

Next, the team explored whether there might be any common patterns in the neural pathways involved in the choice to give to others in individuals who can broadly be described as either generous or selfish. For this, the team used a test established by social psychologist Paul A. M. Van Lange of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the 1990s. The test enables scientists to gauge a person’s preference regarding the allocation of rewards to themselves and others. This social value orientation (SVO) test is widely used in social

psychology and other disciplines, such as economics.

The volunteers took the SVO test in the form of a questionnaire and were subsequently classified as either prosocial (i.e. having a tendency towards generous behavior) or individualistic (having a tendency towards selfish behavior).

One of the most striking findings was that there was a distinct difference in the neural processes involved in giving to others between prosocial and individualistic subjects. This difference existed even when the two groups chose similar things in the original task.

Nakahara considered it particularly intriguing that prosocial subjects used a similar brain process for other-bonus and self-bonus choices, mediated via the left dlPFC–mPFC pathway. Individualist subjects, on the other hand, mediated the process of weighing up giving to others in a different way to the self-reward choice. In the second stage of the process, more ‘selfish’ subjects mediated the choice to give to others by the right AI, which represents where the brain may digest the implications of the benefit-to-others option.

This isn’t all about selfishness and generosity, but rather perceptions of value, emphasize the researchers. Rather than being altruistic, a generous subject may be perceiving more value in social contributions or be subject to predispositions such as inequity aversion and guilt. The team have called the process of deciding to give to others “social value conversion.” In the paper, the team predicted that social value conversion is actually a primitive computation that may be essential for different forms of social behavior.

The team’s findings provide building blocks for investigating more complex forms of social decision-making. Exploring ideas about generosity and selfishness would call into question the role of cultural and religious factors, and variations across countries and regions, for example, in accounting for how we each perceive and take on board consideration

for others.

These multifarious factors “would certainly contribute to shape more complex types of social behaviors,” Nakahara explains. “Through repeated experiences in daily life, they would be built-in as part of the neural circuitry of social behavior and decision-making. The building blocks of the social conversion process would then be modulated and integrated with those processes to produce a final behavior and decision.”

Another promising research direction, albeit one that goes beyond the scope of the present study, would be to look at the possibility that the process involved in giving to others might in some way be different in people with antisocial disorders. Such differences, if identified, may contribute to understanding of the neural correlates of antisocial behavior.

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Team learns how to predict triple negative breast cancer recurrence

Indiana University School of Medicine researchers have discovered how to predict whether triple negative breast cancer will recur, and which women are likely to remain disease-free. They will present their findings on December 13, 2019, at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, the most influential gathering of breast cancer researchers and physicians in the world.

Milan Radovich, Ph.D., and Bryan Schneider, MD, discovered that women whose plasma contained genetic material from a tumor—referred to as circulating tumor DNA—had only a 56 percent chance of being cancer-free two years following chemotherapy and surgery. Patients who did not have circulating tumor DNA, or ctDNA, in their plasma had an 81 percent chance that the cancer would not return after the same amount of time.

Triple negative breast cancer is one of the most aggressive and deadliest types of breast cancer because it lacks common traits used to diagnose and treat most other breast cancers. Developing cures for the disease is a priority of the IU Precision Health Initiative Grand Challenge.

The study also examined the impact of circulating tumor cells, or CTCs, which are live tumor cells that are released from tumors somewhere in the body and float in the blood.

“What we found is that if patients were negative for both ctDNA and CTC, 90 percent of the women with triple negative breast cancer remained cancer-free after two years,” said Radovich, who is lead author of this study and associate professor of surgery and medical and molecular genetics at IU School of Medicine.

Advocates for breast cancer research say they are excited to hear about these results.

“The implications of this discovery will change the lives of thousands of breast cancer patients,” said Nadia E. Miller, who is a breast cancer survivor and president of Pink-4-Ever, which is a breast cancer advocacy group in Indianapolis. “This is a huge leap toward more favorable outcomes and interventions for triple negative breast cancer patients. To provide physicians with more information to improve the lives of so many is encouraging!”

Radovich and Schneider are researchers in the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center and the Vera Bradley Foundation Center for Breast Cancer Research. They lead the Precision Health Initiative’s triple negative breast cancer team.

The researchers, along with colleagues from the Hoosier Cancer Research Network, analyzed plasma samples taken from the blood of 142 women with triple negative breast cancer who had undergone chemotherapy prior to surgery. Utilizing the FoundationOne Liquid Test, circulating tumor DNA was identified in 90 of the women; 52 were negative.

The women were participants in BRE12-158, a clinical study that tested genomically directed therapy versus treatment of the physician’s choice in patients with stage I, II or III triple negative breast cancer.

Detection of circulating tumor DNA was also associated with poor overall survival. Specifically, the study showed that patients with circulating tumor DNA were four times more likely to die from the disease when compared to those who tested negative for it.

The authors say the next step is a new clinical study expected to begin in early 2020, which utilizes this discovery to enroll patients who are at high risk for recurrence and evaluates new treatment options for them.

“Just telling a patient they are at high risk for reoccurrence isn’t overly helpful unless you can act on it,” said Schneider, who is senior author of this study and Vera Bradley Professor of Oncology at IU School of Medicine. “What’s more important is the ability to act on that in a way to improve outcomes.”

Organizers of the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium selected the research to highlight from more than 2,000 scientific submissions.

This study was funded by the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer and the Walther Cancer Foundation. It is part of the Indiana University Precision Health Initiative Grand Challenge. The study was managed by the Hoosier Cancer Research Network and enrolled at 22 clinical sites across the United States.

What they’re saying:

IU School of Medicine Dean Jay L. Hess, MD, Ph.D., MHSA: “While we have made extraordinary progress in treating many types of breast cancer, triple negative disease remains a formidable challenge. We are dedicating substantial expertise and resources to this disease, and this discovery is an important step forward. We will continue to press ahead until we have new therapies to offer women with this most aggressive form of breast cancer.”

IU School of Medicine Executive Associate Dean for Research Anantha Shekhar, MD, Ph.D.: “I could not be more proud of our research team here at IU School of Medicine and the IU Precision Health Initiative Grand Challenge. A few years ago, I gave the teams the challenge to come up with targeted treatments, cures and preventions for triple negative breast cancer, where there had been none. The findings, announced today, show we are well on our way to achieving these bold goals.”

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Research reveals how muscles talk to the brain to regulate feeding behavior

The brain determines when it is time to feed—but how does it know? Findings from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital provide new understanding of how the brain orchestrates this process. Skeletal muscle, like other tissues, communicates with the brain to convey information about nutritional status. The researchers showed that manipulating this mechanism influences food seeking and feeding in fruit flies. This work was published online today in Genes & Development.

Tissues like adipose, intestine and liver signal to the brain through hormones that regulate feeding behavior. Skeletal muscle makes up 40% of the human body and has high energy and nutrient demands. However, until now scientists did not appreciate how skeletal muscle can similarly communicate with the brain through signaling factors called myokines.

“Until now, the brain has been the least-studied target of myokine activity,” said corresponding author Fabio Demontis, Ph.D., of the St. Jude Department of Developmental Neurobiology. “There are many myokines that act on other tissues, but their roles in signaling to the brain have been largely unexplored.”

The molecular key to muscle-brain communication

To better understand how skeletal muscle communicates with the brain regarding feeding behavior, the researchers looked at the myokine Dpp in fruit flies. Dpp is the fruit fly equivalent of the BMP2 and BMP4 signaling factors in humans.

Scientists previously thought that Dpp only transmits signals at short distances. However, the researchers showed that fluorescently tagged Dpp travels long distances from the flight muscles of fruit flies to the brain. Furthermore, the researchers found that reducing Dpp levels promoted feeding and foraging behavior in fruit flies. Conversely, increasing Dpp levels reduced foraging and feeding.

A link between Dpp, dopamine and feeding initiation

The researchers also found that muscle-derived Dpp regulates the levels of brain tyrosine hydroxylase, an enzyme key to the synthesis of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Among a number of other roles, dopamine has previously been linked to feeding behavior.

The researchers found that lowering Dpp levels in muscle led to higher levels of dopamine in the brain and increased feeding. Conversely flies with higher Dpp levels in muscle had lower levels of brain dopamine and were less likely to seek food. The researchers also found that modulation of dopamine synthesis in the brain is key to the regulation of feeding by muscle-derived Dpp.

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What Is A Hanacure Mask And Why Is It Taking The World By Storm?

We are all used to the many beauty products that grace our medicine cabinet as everyday essentials. But have you ever wanted just one product that could replace them all? Well, wait no more, as Hanacure promises to do just that.

This South Korean product is so in demand, it is practically sold out on every shelf. If you want one, there is a month long waiting list. The product claims to be an all-in-one solution to all beauty-related problems, including blemishes, wrinkles due to aging, hyperpigmentation, and something that everyone desires, elasticity. This miracle product even has an Instagram hashtag called #HanacureEffect, and fans are posting testimonials showing the amazing affects this product has had on their skin.

The Product Itself

Lotus Flower

The product is a face mask and has the consistency of a gel. The founders took the inspiration for the product from the lotus, a flower famous in Asia for its rejuvenating properties, and considered a symbol of purity as well as rebirth. It took its makers three years to perfect the product before launching it into the market in January 2017. The product comes with directions: apply the gel on your face once every week as directed. The promise? Age-reversing results after the first four weeks of use.

The Chemistry

It is a leap of faith for people to accept a product that claims to reverse effects of aging with just a 30-minute application of a gel on the face. So, how does it do it? The chemistry behind it is patented, and the two-part system is composed of a serum and a solution made of gel. Both the components are meant to be mixed together right before application, and the resulting solution is called “purifying compound”.

The solution, when applied, is supposed to brighten the skin, moisturize it, and also soothe irritation, thanks to the botanical extracts and peptides that are incorporated within it. During application, the solution brings in carbon dioxide from the air and mixes it in, creating what the company calls “OctoLift” technology. This dries the mask, causing a strict tightening effect on the skin, which is supposed to get toxins and grime out of the pores.

Does it Live Up To The Hype?

Women trying the famous Hanacure Korean face mask

Since its launch, the product has been sold out in all places, with fans gloating over how amazing it is on social media. Many celebrities, such as Drew Barrymore and January Jones, also back the product, putting it on their face and posting selfies on Instagram with the hashtag #HanacureEffect. Drew Barrymore claims that, after using the product, she was left with a face that looked 10 years younger.


Before applying the product on the face, the applier needs to wash and dry the face. Then, the two-step solution is to be mixed. To do that, take the foil peel off the gel bottle and pour in the serum. Cover the solution with the foil peel again and shake the container rigorously for 20 seconds. Then, an even layer needs to be applied on the face, hands, and neck (basically all the visible areas that you want to cover except sensitive skin such as near the eyes or the lips) with the accompanying brush.

After ten minutes, as the instructions foretell, the skin starts to tighten and is pulled together by the gel. Many users said they were shocked by the intensity of the tightening effect, which, according to them, is unprecedented in a home beauty product.

Lady Gaga is known to be a fan of the famous hydrating Korean face mask

Well, love it or hate it, this Korean product has instantly become a hit all over the world, no matter the gender, age or culture. It seems, these last couple of years, Korean beauty has taken the skincare world by storm. Especially with the famous ghost-like hydrating facial that filled all social media platforms with tons of ghost-looking photos of fans.

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Save money at the pharmacy: co-payment exemption request

Who needs to be permanently on medication, under certain circumstances, the co-payment exempt. There is a maximum limit up to which the prescription charge must be made. The country’s chamber of pharmacists, Hessen points. With the payment calculator on you can check whether you can make the payment free.

From the age of 18. The age of need to all by law, a co-payment Insured persons pay their health insurance, if you are in need of medicines, therapeutic AIDS and appliances or travel expenses, hospital treatment or rehabilitation measures may apply. In the case of medicines, co-payments amount to ten percent of the price, but a minimum of five euros and a maximum of ten Euro.

Exemption application at the health insurance Fund set

A request for the exemption of co-payments can provide patients with the health insurance, when you reach the so-called load limit. This is based on the gross income of a family, such as, for example, salary or pension and, thus, is individually. In the case of the chronically ill, the limit is one percent. Information about who is classified as a chronically ill, obtained from the family doctor or the insurance company.

For patients who must regularly make additional payments, over the limit, it is also possible, the corresponding amount in advance – so this month – to pay for the health insurance Fund, in order to get immediately to the beginning of the year, the exemption and to eliminate the need to Collect receipts.

Unterstüup by the pharmacy

If the co-payments have reached the personal load limit, will prove in the case of the health insurance Fund together with the Income and the Receipts for payments co-payments, a request for co-payment exemption for the current year. At the time of receipt creation, it must be observed that it shows always the name of the Insured. The health insurance company, after examining a certificate. When you Collect the co-payment receipts the local pharmacy to assist. "If patients have a master of pharmacy and a customer card and with the storage of your medicines data are in agreement, can erstellen&quot this pharmacy at any time, a collection of co-payments; so Funke.

Between the payment and the payment differ

To distinguish from the co-payment is the so-called Supplements are. The price of a drug is above the fixed amount reimbursed by the health insurance Fund, do not need to be paid by the Patient only the copayment, but also the difference between the fixed price and the actual price. This difference must be of a present co-payment exemption provided, similarly, this also applies in the case of children.

For 2020, the updated payment calculator on you can determine whether you can make the payment free.


An Overview of all the messages you get on current.

World heading for STI ‘epidemic’ over Christmas season unprotected sex binge

The Christmas party period is notorious for being one of the friskiest times of the year.

But while 'tis the season to be naughty, bringing a colleague back to yours after the office do might not be wise.

The festive atmosphere and free-flowing booze means some aren't as strict with contraception as they could be.

This could lead to an "epidemic" of sexually transmitted diseases this December.

According to a study by Patient, a whopping 20% of Brits have had a sexual encounter with a colleague at the office Christmas party.

Those figures also found that 1 in 10 admitted they have caught an STI, or know someone who has, from a co-worker.

Men are 30% more likely than women to have had a naughty sexual encounter at the office party, while 40% have caught an STI from a colleague.

So what does that mean for this year? Will there be a rise in sexually transmitted illnesses?

  • NHS encouraged to prescribe masturbation as treatment for stressed patients

  • Monthly contraception pill developed by scientists to slash unwanted pregnancies

According to Dr Simran Deo, at UK based online doctor Zava UK, we could see a massive rise in treatments to cure a nasty infection down there.

She told Daily Star Online: “We expect to see a surge in STI test and treatment rates following the Christmas period. In fact, last year orders for STI treatments peaked on 3rd January.

“The high spirits of party season combined with time away from our usual routines and drinking more alcohol can mean that we’re more likely to forget what normally comes naturally, such as using protection.

“If you’ve had unprotected sex and think you may have caught something it’s important to get tested as soon as possible.”

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There are common symptoms to look out for if you fear you may have caught an STI from someone.

Dr Simian suggests looking out for itching or burning around the genitals, pain when you pee or any spots or blisters down there.

She warned women may also have pain during sex, unusual vaginal discharge or irregular bleeding.

Men may also experience irritation, pain or usual discharge from the penis, so it’s best to get checked out.

  • Five important facts every female should know about their vagina

Speaking about the epidemic, Dr Diana Gall, from Doctor4U, added: “To protect yourself, you should always carry a condom just in case you need one.

“It’s better than the alternative of not using one and ending up with an unwanted infection or disease.

“Christmas is a festive time, and one that many people celebrate with parties and alcohol.

“It’s true that inhibitions may be reduced when you drink but if you make sure to stay safe and make sure you have the resources to stay safe before you start drinking, STIs shouldn’t rise so much around this time of the year.”

  • sti

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Alicia Keys Candidly Reveals Why Motherhood Requires You to 'Really Look at Yourself'

Alicia Keys brings honesty to every aspect of her life — and that includes motherhood.

The singer-songwriter, who is hosting the Grammys in 2020 for the second year in a row, opened up to PEOPLE at the 2019 Women in Music Impact Brunch in Los Angeles about how being a mom affects her way of thinking and behavior.

“Motherhood, I find, makes you look at yourself in a way that is a mirror like no other that you’ve been presented with before,” Keys, told PEOPLE before heading on stage to speak during the American Express Fireside Chat on Thursday.

The singer, who is this year’s Billboard’s Women in Music Impact Award honoree, and her husband, Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean, are parents to their sons Egypt, 9, and Genesis, 4½. The couple also co-parent with the producer’s ex-wife Mashonda Tifrere, with whom he has son Kasseem, 13.

Alicia Keys

“I think it makes you look at what you have taken or learned from other people and how that becomes your truth, whether it’s yours or not,” she added.

“So, I’m often thinking about that and often thinking about how to unravel that. Especially when it’s not my truth, but something that I’ve realized is that [when it comes to] learned behavior, I don’t want to give those things or pass those forward. Some of those things need to be let go.”

“I think [motherhood] is equally as challenging as it is rewarding and I think that’s part of the reward,” she continued. “You have to really look at yourself.”

On the most fulfilling parts of being a mom, Keys said she appreciates the little things. “The most rewarding part is everything,” she told PEOPLE. “Seeing them be safe, seeing them be strong-minded. Seeing them have their own thoughts and opinions.”

“Seeing them being empathetic and having these character traits that you’re hoping that you’re sharing with them and they’re receiving.”

Alicia Keys and her family

Keys — who is the first female musical artist to host the Grammys twice and now leads her She Is the Music initiative working to increase the number of women working in the industry — has made a remarkable impact on women in music.

That’s why the 15-time Grammy-winner was honored with the Billboard Women in Music award. For the “Fallin'” singer, winning the award feels incredible: “I feel super blessed and really excited.”

“We were here just one year ago to launch She Is the Music and there’s been so much powerful and genuine, forward progression and movement with it,” she recalled. “So honestly, I feel that when they’ve given me this Impact Award, it’s really for all of us that work on She Is the Music.”

“It’s for all of the ways that we are powerful women creating opportunity for each other and just supporting and uplifting each other,” she added. “I feel like it’s almost a collective reward in so many ways.”

The songstress, who will also soon be releasing her self-titled album, A.L.I.C.I.A., said the entertainment industry “is a very powerful space we’re in right now and I’m f—king with it.”

As Keys spoke on stage on Thursday, the singer expressed the importance of diversity and inclusion.

Alicia Keys

“Even just on the Corden Show that I hosted on Monday, we brought in women from the She Is the Music database to shadow the stage manager, the associate music producer, the head writers,” she recalled.

“Women get it done,” she added — to which the crowd cheered.

“One of the women at the Songwriters Camp yesterday was saying that hopefully we one day won’t have to say, ‘Let’s create a women’s writing camp because we have to make sure women are at the table,”’ Keys said.

“Hopefully we’re not saying, ‘How do we make the boardroom at least 50 percent female?’ Hopefully we get to a place where we’re not actually having to consciously think of these things because it’s just happening and just part of how we operate. That’s what the challenge is, making it a conscious effort that then just is and is not so unusual that we’re like, ‘Wow, there’s two women on the board and one of them is black.’ It’s like a bunch of bulls— so it’s time to really just evolve.”

Alicia Keys and her son Egypt

With so many big things happening for her now and in the coming months, the singer told PEOPLE she’s planning to keep the holiday celebrations low-key.

“I love to just chill at home,” she tells PEOPLE. “I think that’s kinda what the holidays are about in a lot of ways, just having it become more quiet.”

“I personally love the comfort of just being with your friends and family and safe at home,” she adds. “That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

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Kim Kardashian's Doctors Wouldn't Let Her Do IVF Again After Her Pregnancy Complications

Kim Kardashian West is opening up about her harrowing yet fulfilling journey to motherhood.

On Thursday, Kim, 39, shared a video as part of her shapewear brand SKIMS’ new 2019 holiday campaign featuring the stories of nine women, including herself, and the causes they believe in.

For her story, Kim, who revealed she is supporting the Bail Project, speaks about her struggles with preeclampsia and having to undergo five different surgeries to undo the damage pregnancy caused her body.

“When I was pregnant with my daughter North, I had a condition called preeclampsia or toxemia, which is basically when the mom’s organs start to shut down,” Kim, who is seen wearing an ensemble from her SKIMS Cozy Collection, says in the clip.

“The only way to get rid of that is to deliver the baby. At 34 and a half weeks, I had to go into emergency labor — they induced me. North was 4 pounds. She was almost six weeks early,” Kim explains.

She later explains in the clip that after her delivery, her placenta never came out, but instead grew inside her uterus.

“That is what women die from in childbirth,” Kim says.

Despite the daunting experience, Kim longed for more children with husband Kanye West. However, the reality star, who has previously opened up about fertility complications, struggled to conceive.

“After my daughter was born, I still continued to do the process of freezing my eggs. I was able to get pregnant through that with my son Saint, and then I had two embryos left. I had the same condition, same awful delivery that I had with my first daughter,” Kim explains.

“After that, I had to have five different operations within a year and a half to fix the damage that all of that did on the inside.”

After welcoming Saint, now 4, Kim realized she still wanted more kids, but her doctors were against her getting pregnant again.

Kim Kardashian West with Chicago, Saint and North

“I asked my doctors, ‘Can I do it one more time?’ And they were like, ‘We won’t even put an embryo in you — that would be like malpractice,'” Kim says.

The KKW Beauty founder shares that’s when she turned to surrogacy. She used two different surrogates for her last two embryos.

Kim and Kanye, 42, 23-month-old daughter Chicago in January 2018 and 7-month-old son Psalm in May — both via surrogate.

“I’m so thankful for my beautiful kids, no matter how they came to me — they came to me. I’m so thankful for surrogates. I’m really thankful for my family. I grew up with so many siblings. I just loved being in a big environment. I would have gone through the same pain and back for the result of having my babies. It was all worth it,” Kim concludes.

As for whether or not that means Kim is done having kids, it’s safe to say she is. However, Kanye isn’t exactly on the same page.

In October, just days after Kim told E! News that she was “definitely done” having children, Kanye appeared on The Late Late Show, where he told host James Corden, “[I want] seven kids.”

“The richest thing that you can have is as many children as possible,” Kanye added.

Kanyet’s comments come during a busy time in his wife’s life as she’s focused on law school and expanding her shapewear brand.

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West

For SKIMS’ holiday campaign, the brand has donated $100,000 to be divided among the organizations Girls Inc., Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Hope for Haiti’s Children, I Am B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L., METAVivor Research & Support, Our Blood, Partnerships With Industry, Women’s Sports Foundation and of course The Bail Project.

“I have seen so many families torn apart by just not having a fair bail system. It’s really important to me that families are reunited and connected, especially this holiday season,” Kim adds in her clip.

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Beauty’s Found Generation X

PARIS ­— Sonsoles Gonzalez began noticing changes to her hair beginning in her early 40s. “I used to have very thick, full, long hair, and I started feeling like my ponytail was shrinking, it was very dry,” she said. “I knew it was because of hormonal changes.”

So the seasoned beauty executive — who’d worked at L’Oréal and Procter & Gamble, where she steered Pantene globally — set out to understand the phenomenon and launched the Better Not Younger brand in March.

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Ayurvedic herbs that will help boost your immunity

As per ancient Ayurvedic texts, strong immunity is the foundation of healthy living.

Ayurveda, one of the oldest healthcare tradition in the world, controls and regulates the three basic energies in the body — pitta, vata and kapha. In Sanskrit “ayur” means life and “veda” signifies the knowledge to live life. “As per ancient Ayurvedic texts, strong immunity is the foundation of healthy living. Immunity protects the body against all external and internal agents of diseases. But maintaining an ideal level of immunity (ojas) is not that easy. It can be achieved by following a healthy lifestyle. Ayurveda focuses on strengthening the immunity through a balanced lifestyle and recommends the consumption of a few herbs,” says Mohamad Yusuf N Shaikh, founder of Kudrati Ayurved Health Center.

Below, he shares a few Ayurvedic herbs that can help boost the body’s immunity.

1. Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is widely recognized for boosting the body’s immune system as it is rich in biologically active substances, amino acids, peptides, lipids, and the bases of nucleic acids. It also helps reduce blood sugar levels, lowers cholesterol levels and reduces the stress hormone.

2. Garlic: With its antiseptic, anti-fungal, and nutritive properties, garlic has been used as an immune booster for thousands of years by Ayurveda. It is a powerful natural antioxidant, which protects the body from bacterial and viral infections, without causing any side-effects. Garlic acts as a natural antibacterial agent when it is fresh and raw as it contains allicin that kills viruses and bacteria. It is a good medicine against coughs, colds and chest infection during the winter.

3. Ginger: An ingredient packed with immune-boosting benefits, ginger also helps prevent nausea and soothes an upset tummy. Ginger is also very effective in keeping your body warm and helps break down the accumulation of toxins in your organs. Add ginger to a stir-fried dish or boil it to make a cup of ginger tea with some added lemon for a pleasant and a healing hot drink.

4. Amba haldi: Also known as raw turmeric, it is a vital Ayurvedic herb which is mostly found during the monsoon season. Amba haldi helps in revitalising the blood and purifies it by removing the toxic agents. It also helps in maintaining the health of the stomach and digestive system.

Apart from all these herbs amla, holy basil and triphala, used in the form of tea and tonics, also help in boosting the immunity.

Choose the right food

“Consuming fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, dairy and unprocessed products will provide your body with the desirable nutrition and ojas (immunity). However, packaged food items that are processed, canned, and frozen are harder to digest, and thus create ama (toxins), because they are old, denatured by processing, or even include harmful ingredients such as chemical preservatives. Organically grown foods are best because they are not only free from harsh chemicals but also contain all the essential minerals. Vegetarian proteins such as paneer (homemade cheese), milk, and pulses (split-moong dhal, lentils and other small, split beans) help to enhance immunity. But meat is not a recommended protein because it is difficult to digest and creates ama” adds Shaikh.

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