Today’s Reading List: Why do people yawn?

Today at @ontariosdoctors we consider why yawning can be contagious. Also, we look at the effects of eating instant noodles on your health.

Yawning is a common and potentially embarrassing behaviour often associated with sleep deprivation. However, new research suggests yawning may come from several origins and serve various functions. Researchers who have studied yawning in animals believe yawning keeps the brain aware and alert in times of stress. Since yawning is often contagious in nature, it can be seen as a protective act to keep a group watchful and on the lookout for predators. The Wall Street Journal brings us this story:

“What this tells us is it’s a very complicated system, and there are probably many different roles for yawning.” Says lead researcher Dr. Gregory Collins.

When studying yawning, researchers consulted previous trails and examined various conclusions. One study conducted on animals indicates yawning is triggered following a subtle rise in brain temperature of as little as 0.1 degrees C. Another trail involved 120 participants stating that people yawn more in the summer months, when our body is naturally warmer, than in the winter.

According to researcher Dr. Andrew Gallu, the brain is particularly sensitive to overheating. Reaction times slow and memory wanes when the brains temperature varies even less than a degree from the ideal 37 degrees C.

Scientists have also explored why yawning can be contagious after watching social cues. For instance, infants or people with mental health disorders such as autism or schizophrenia do not always follow others. Many hypothesize contagious yawning is an expression of empathy, an emotion some people struggle to relate to.

A new study highlights the health risks of consuming instant noodles. The trial was completed in South Korea, where consumption of this cheap meal is high. Scientists studied the eating patterns of 10,711 adults, and two significant diets were discovered. Some participants consumed a traditional diet of fish, rice and vegetables, while others enjoyed a diet rich of meat and fast foods including instant noodles. The New York Times brings us this story:

Scientists found that women who ate instant noodles at least twice a week were 68 per cent more likely to acquire metabolic syndrome which includes a cluster of conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and elevated blood sugar levels. These symptoms increase risk of heart disease and diabetes.

In any case, Dr. Hu said, instant noodles are not part of a healthy diet. “Once or twice a month is not a problem,” he said. “But a few times a week really is.”

Posted on August 21, 2014 in Health in the News, Reading List, Uncategorized

Share the Story

Leave a reply

Back to Top