Our Genes: Under Influence • 2016

Category: Health
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Biology is undergoing a revolution that is radically changing our conception of evolution. Our genes don’t control everything: they can be influenced by fascinating mechanisms recently brought to light by international research teams.

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The Truth About... Alcohol

A&E doctor Javid Abdelmoneim is on a mission to find out the truth about alcohol. In January, the government released its new alcohol guidelines. For men, the recommended weekly limit was cut by a third to 14 units per week, equivalent to about seven pints of beer, bringing it in line with the amount recommended for women. So what is behind the change? This is just one question of many that Javid aims to answer as he explores the science of drinking and the new evidence for the health risks of alcohol. Why do some people get drunk quicker than others? What is behind red wine's healthy reputation? Is a nightcap actually good for your sleep? Does lining your stomach work? And can alcohol actually make you eat more?

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We are What We Eat

In the opening episode, they explore how this chemistry fuels and builds our bodies. Michael begins by trying the first meal most of us enjoyed, human breast milk, which contains everything a baby needs - fats, carbs, vitamins and minerals. As we grow, we continue to seek the same chemistry in our diet but from a wide variety of scrumptious fare as Michael and James discover. In San Francisco, they unravel why sourdough bread is so good for us, in the Philippines, they learn how a river weed - rice - has become a comforting staple food, and in Bulgaria, they discover why letting your mushrooms sunbathe may help you get a calcium boost from your dairy food.

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The Science of Sleep

Sleep has long been regarded as nothing more than a way to charge our batteries. But what if it can control our weight, allow us to make memories, and help us to fight off diseases like Alzheimer’s? We travel the world to investigate how revolutionary new technology has revealed the sleeping brain as an energetic and purposeful machine.

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Heart vs Mind: What Makes Us Human?

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?

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Your Medicine Cabinet

Dr Chris Van Tulleken calls on the British public to seek out the truth about the top-selling over-the-counter medicines. We spend an astonishing 2.3 billion pounds on pills, potions and lotions from the chemist's shop every year to beat common ailments from headaches to colds to indigestion. But how much do we really know about what we're buying?

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