Adonis Diaries

Archive for February 16th, 2015

 

 

This “Happy Cell”

“What is the truest form of human happiness?”  Steven Cole asks.

It’s a question he’s been considering for most of his career—but Cole is an immunologist, not a philosopher. To him, this question isn’t rhetoric or a thought experiment. It’s science—measureable and finite.

What a Happy Cell Looks Like

A growing field of research is examining how life satisfaction may affect cellular functioning and DNA.

Cole, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, has spent several decades investigating the connection between our emotional and biological selves.

“The old thinking was that our bodies were stable biological entities, fundamentally separate from the external world,” he says. “But the new thinking is that there is much more permeability and fluidity.”

Betty Nudler/Flickr

His latest project is the examination of happiness in biological terms.

“There’s an intrinsic connection between our direct experience of happiness and the perception of that experience in our bodies, as represented by changes in our biologic mechanisms. We’ve found that happiness can remodel our cellular composition,” he explains.

Specifically, Cole and his team of researchers at UCLA have found that happiness seems to alter the function of immune cells. “It’s no question that the mind and immune system are intrinsically linked,” he says. “Our body is a literal product of our environment.”

As he explains, the immune system has two primary functions: to fight infection and to cause inflammation.

The first function, known as the antiviral response, is generally considered positive because it helps ward off external threats, like viruses, that might otherwise harm the body.

The second function, known as the inflammatory response, is less positive because its efforts is to keep healthy immune cells circulating in the body can also cause tissue damage.

Cole has found that the balance of these two functions of the immune system may change based on life experiences.

His work has shown that negative experiences like a new cancer diagnosis, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and low socioeconomic status may cause changes to someone’s immunologic profile.

“Over the past 15 years, our work has shown us that diverse social and psychological experiences that cause a sense of threat or uncertainty can evoke a similar response in our immune cells,” he says.

Listening to him explain his work is part philosophy lesson, part cellular-biology lesson, a scientific discourse on la dolce vita.

“We’re beginning to understand that life experiences like chronic stress, loneliness, and social isolation negatively affect our immunologic profile. This gives us a sense of how not to live—but more importantly, it also tells us something about how to live, because there are concrete things we can do to actively promote a positive change in our immunology,” he says. “The biology of happiness is in our hands.”

But how exactly do our immune cells register this abstract concept of happiness? The answer depends on how “happiness” is defined.

“There are two distinct forms of happiness, hedonic happiness and eudaimonic happiness, and our bodies respond differently to each type,” Cole explains.

“Hedonic happiness is the elevated mood we experience after an external life event, like buying a new home,” while eudaimonic happiness “is our sense of purpose and direction in life, our involvement in something bigger than ourselves.”

Of the two, eudaimonic happiness in particular is associated with a better-functioning immune system, according to Cole.

To determine this effect, Cole and a team of researchers from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, asked 80 healthy adults to fill out questionnaires about their well-being. The researchers then analyzed the volunteers’ answers to assess their levels of eudaimonic and hedonic happiness, and took blood samples to study the functioning of their immune cells.

They found that a high score of eudaimonic happiness, more than a high score of hedonic happiness, was correlated with a better genetic expression profile, meaning the immune cells showed high rates of the antiviral response and low rates of the inflammatory response.

The researchers posited that though both types of happiness may look similar on the outside, the corresponding genetic expression profiles are quite different. “When we asked people how happy they felt, both [the high eudaimonic and high hedonic] groups seemed about the same,”Cole says.

But when we looked at the cellular and molecular level, it looks like people with high levels of eudaimonic happiness are better off, immunologically speaking.”

“We already know ways to achieve hedonic happiness, but how can we live our lives to evoke a eudaimonic experience in our immune system?” he continues.

One way is through mind-body practices, like meditation, which “have been shown to cultivate positive and happy immune cells,” he says.

Research has linked meditation to reduced negative inflammatory activity, increased positive antiviral response, improved function of specific strains of immune cells, and higher antibody production.

But perhaps the most striking theory posed of meditation is that it could alter genetic material.

In recent years, a new field of study, known as mind-body genomics, has emerged.

Among the most well-known researchers in this area are Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, a biochemist at the University of California, San Francisco, and her colleague, psychiatrist Elissa Epel.

Through a series of studies, the two found that meditation could affect the ends of DNA known as the telomeres, which act as protective caps for genes. The longer the telomere, the greater the protection conferred for the DNA strand, and the longer that cell can survive.

And telomeres, like immune cells, seem to respond to emotional cues.

Negative external conditions like chronic stress that reduce eudaimonic happiness may shorten telomere length, while stress-reducing activities like meditation may help to maintain it.

“Telomeres are affected by many things, but they are directly affected by stress. So we can see how improvements in our mental health, through the practice of meditation, might be linked to improvements in our telomeres,” Epel explains. “They offer us a window and some insight into how we are living, and help us appreciate how what we do today can affect our health tomorrow.”

As the field of mind-body genomics matures, the focus is moving towards gaining a better understanding of not only how DNA could be structurally changed by meditation, but also whether meditation can alter DNA functionally, through changes in how genes are expressed.

In one recent study, for example, meditation was linked to enhanced expression of genes associated with insulin secretion, telomere structure, and cellular energy and function, and decreased expression of genes linked to inflammation and stress.

What’s more, blood samples collected during the study found that experienced meditators showed changes in their genetic activity after just one meditation session.

With 21,000 genes in the human genome, Cole, Epel, and other researchers have just scratched the surface of the connection between our emotional and biological selves.

“We are an ever-changing conglomeration of cells very much influenced by our experience of the world around us,” Cole says. “At the rate we’re going, we have more data than we can make sense of. It’s this process that helps us get closer to understanding the black box. Who knows? Maybe in the future we may be able to sequence our own genes.” Epel agrees: “We don’t yet have the technology to monitor our telomeres, but it’s coming.”

In the meantime, though, the lessons of mind-body genomics still apply. “The experience you have today will influence your body composition for the next 80 days, because that’s how long most cellular processes hang around,” Cole says. “So plan your day accordingly.”

Note: And I thought that memory is confined in brain cells and nerves only

 

 

 

 

 

Selling Data is So Old School: Do These 5 Things Instead to Monetise Your Data

Laura Close

Laura Close Technology -Feb, 13, 2015

Most companies are collecting massive amounts of data.

Yet many do not know how to turn that data into an asset that generates money.

While selling data is one obvious way to monetise it, most other opportunities are less direct. They include making processes run more efficiently, incentivising certain types of behaviour or revealing the true value of an asset.

Teradata suggests five steps towards monetising your data:

Start with Questions.

To analyse data effectively, find out which questions, answered at the right level of detail in the right timeframe, would most impact your company’s performance. This can help assess whether the data at hand is sufficient or if more is needed.

Next, examine ways of analysing the data and extracting insights. Inspiration for data monetisation can come from questions, from data and from analytical methods.

Look for Patterns

Velocity of data, new forms of precision and opportunities for combining different data sets can lead to data monetisation.

Velocity is relevant when information is valuable for a short amount of time. For example, if a shopper who checked a price online is now using an organisation’s app inside one of its stores, then there is a distinct window of opportunity to target that person with an in-store offer and make the sale.

Precision refers to examining more granular data. Using a microscope on important data can create high-resolution models that can lead to valuable insights.

Data fusion is the idea of combining data from many sources to create a more valuable view of an asset. For example, a real estate company combines many different data sources, such as location, inflation and property features, to provide an estimate of the value of a house.

Search for External Data

Internal data is important but the addition of external data increases its relevance. Organisations should consider dedicating one team member to searching for valuable external data. This could include open data and data from partners.

Sharpen your Analytics Skills

Big data is not just new because of its size; it’s new because it is impossible to analyse it using traditional methods.

Trying to gain insights from billions of records using small, handcrafted tools will yield a small amount of information very slowly. Machine learning and advanced analytics are needed to profile big data sets and extract insights. This will smooth the path towards data monetisation.

Understand your Data Monetisation Identity

Organisations usually fall into one of three groups: expert consumers of data; aggregators of data; or creators of new data products.

By understanding which role is most natural for the organisation, businesses can determine ways to monetise data.

Note: An applied example would have done marvels

 

 

 

Turn your Waste into a business.

Ziad Abi Chaker: Founder and CEO Cedar Environmental – Don’t WASTE Your Time! Turn your waste into a business.

Watch the Brilliant Lebanese Awards Reportage on LBCI. #BLA2014

posted this Dec. 29, 2014

Ziad Abi Chaker - Interview Podcast on Entreprenergy.comWhat does it take to be an Entrepreneur? Join us as Ziad Abi Chaker shares his Entrepreneurial mindset and an inside glance at his journey of becoming a successful Entrepreneur from Lebanon.

In Entreprenergy’s breakout interview, Ziad Abi Chaker of Cedar Environmental talks about his entrepreneurial journey that started when he was 19 years old.

Listen to the inspiring stories that Ziad shares with us and how his business creates processes to reuse and recycle different types of waste. Be creative and Get ready for the ENERGY.

Audio Player

Success Quote

Business Failure

  • Afraid to get Bankrupt? How many times are you willing to Fail? Failure for Ziad is his daily bread, Cedar Environmental is an engineering company, failing every day in their Research and Development projects. . Ziad gives us some takeaway lessons with the steps they took to keep on going without quitting.

Entrepreneurial IDEA Moment

  • An idea generated from all the recycled and reused products generated from other processes, listen to the Green Walls idea, and how they will use it. Finding your passion is not easy and Ziad gives you an insight on how to find yours.

Energy Round

  • Ziad started this round by stating that working is not wrong, and how he started his journey by working in different jobs, getting the experience to know how to accomplish the various tasks of his business. Did you know that all Arab patents were less than the Spanish patents during one year?

Online Resource

  • Evernote to organize your work and log your information.
  • YouTube to watch and discover new ideas for more insights.

Best Business Book

a8


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