Chocolate reduces stress. Fish stimulates the brain. Is there any truth to such popular beliefs? The findings of researchers around the world say yes: It appears we really are what we eat. A study in a British prison found that inmates who took vitamin supplements were less prone to violent behavior. And in Germany, a psychologist at the University of Lübeck has shown that social behavior is influenced by the ingredients consumed at breakfast. But what really happens in the brain when we opt for honey instead of jam, and fish rather than sausage? Scientists around the world are trying to find out. Neuro-nutrition is the name of an interdisciplinary research field that investigates the impact of nutrition on brain health. Experiments on rats and flies offer new insight into the effects of our eating habits. When laboratory rats are fed a diet of junk food, the result is not just obesity. The menu also has a direct influence on their memory performance. The role of the intestinal flora has been known for some time, but scientists are currently discovering other relationships. So-called "brain food" for example: The Mediterranean diet that’s based on vegetables and fish is said to provide the best nutrition for small grey cells. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, for example, protect the nerve cells and are indispensable for the development of the brain - because the brain is also what it eats!
Many clinical trials target the nation's most acute health issues. With deaths from liver disease soaring by 40 per cent in a decade, more and more patients are waiting for vital liver transplants. There is a shortage of organ donors and many donated organs are rejected as only those in excellent condition are considered suitable for a transplant procedure. Surgeons Richard Laing and Thamara Perera are part of a team at QEHB trialling a revolutionary way to tackle this crisis, by maximising the number of donor organs that can be safely re-used. The film follows the trial every step of the way, as Richard receives a donor liver that would usually be rejected and tries to prove it is viable for transplant by rejuvenating and testing it on a perfusion machine. This machine sustains the liver by mimicking the supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients an organ receives inside a live, healthy human body. Once the donor liver has proved itself fit for transplant, the surgical team start to remove grandmother Connie O'Driscoll's severely diseased liver. Once the donor liver has been disconnected from the perfusion machine, they have just 20 minutes to place it in Connie's body and plumb it into the complex and delicate network of hepatic blood vessels.
Michael heads to Spain to search for some of the most powerful tastes on the planet, whilst James travels high in the Peruvian Andes to discover how a bitter potato - a cousin of the humble spud - has been tamed to help the inhabitants survive the extreme altitude. Using the latest imaging techniques to take us inside our food, right down to the molecular level, Michael and James offer us a whole new way of thinking about taste: far more than being just delicious, it's actually a matter of survival.
England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer and epidemiologist Jonathan Van-Tam takes a deep dive into viruses and reveals why discoveries and advances made during the on-going Covid-19 pandemic mean biological science will never be the same again.
S1E3 • Royal Institution Christmas Lectures - Going Viral • 2021 • Health
The heart is the most symbolic organ of the human body. Throughout history it has been seen as the site of our emotions, the very centre of our being. But modern medicine has come to see the heart as just a pump; a brilliant pump, but nothing more. And we see ourselves as ruled by our heads and not our hearts. In this documentary, filmmaker David Malone asks whether we are right to take this view. He explores the heart's conflicting histories as an emotional symbol and a physical organ, and investigates what the latest science is learning about its structures, its capacities and its role. In the age-old battle of hearts and minds, will these new discoveries alter the balance and allow the heart to reclaim something of its traditional place at the centre of our humanity?