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Health Bulletin


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  1. #991
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Befriend the almond, it won’t let you down

    At the Oscars last year, actor Jennifer Lawrence declared that her Oscar purse contained, besides her phone and candies, almonds.

    Almonds are popular with most Hollywood leading ladies. Gwyneth Paltrow loves munching on almonds, Oprah Winfrey slims down for shows eating almonds while the nuts form a part of the post-pregnancy thinning strategy for many women.

    A handful of the nuts can help prevent weight gain and maintain a healthy heart. Not only are almonds rich in Vitamin E, Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium, they are a significant source of protein and fibre, while being naturally low in sugar.

    According to the Food and Drug Administration of the US, eating 50 grams of almonds per day reduces the risk of heart diseases. In India too, many people are consuming them for their health benefits.

    According to a global survey, 90 per cent people prefer almonds and 47 per cent of consumers worldwide are willing to pay more for an almond product. Almond exports from the Almond Board of California (ABC) have seen a surge lately and India is the fourth largest export destination for the ABC in the year 2012-13 at a whopping 57 thousand tonnes. This is only next to the domestic consumption of USA, China and Spain.

    ABC’s exports to India have been growing since the turn of the century with an annual growth rate of 13.7 per cent.

    Exports to India have more than doubled since 2006-07 when it was about 26 thousand tonnes. And to fuel this demand, the ABC has added millions of acres to its total area of plantation in California, which contributes 82 per cent of world’s almond production.

    A recent research by the USDA’s agriculture wing found that the energy content of almonds was about 129 kcal for every 28 grams as opposed to about 170 kcal as previously thought.

    According to analysis of almonds done in USDA-certified laboratories, ABC produced almonds have about seven grams lesser mono-unsaturated fatty acids per 100 grams than their Indian counterparts. Total lipids are lesser by about four grams for every 100 grams of almonds when compared to the Indian counterparts.


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  2. #992
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Hear smart

    Smart digital hearing aids are transforming the way people with impairments hear. They have noise reduction and pair with smartphone apps to let users take calls, stream video

    Tuheen Chakraborty, a tabla player with the band Indian Ocean, suffered partial hearing loss in a car crash in 1999. But when he is up on stage he never trips up on the taal or misses a note. What allows him this near normal connect to the aural world is the smart digital hearing aid he switched to recently. It can be remotely connected to electronic equipment - such as speakers and mobile phones - and filters out ambient noise so that he can hear clearly.

    Like Chakraborty, a growing number of people with mild to severe hearing loss are turning to smart hearing devices. Unlike simple digital aids which have been around for a while, the new advanced aids can be remotely connected to public announcement systems or microphones and receive data streamed through apps. Some of the models even enable the user to hear normally in very noisy settings like a cricket match, a crowded restaurant or a concert hall.

    Leading the pack of sophisticated listening devices are GN ReSound's Linx and Starkey's Halo. These aids, launched earlier this year, can be integrated with Apple's iOS products, like iPhone and iPad. These smart, and very small, hearing aids are integrated with your iPhone via an interactive app, which streams audio data like conversations and music to the phone and allows the user to adjust the volume, treble and bass. Both these aids are now available in India in addition to models from other leading brands like Widex and Siemens. Hearing aid users can also download smart hearing apps like RealClarity, Aud1 and EarMachine, for Rs 250 to Rs 300 from the internet.

    Digital technology has radically transformed the soundscape for the hearing-impaired who earlier had to rely only on analog aids. They were boxy, unsightly contraptions which helped one hear but had problems like an echo, a lag and in crowded situations, one had to struggle to make sense of the muddled medley of noises.

    "Smart digital devices amplify only those sound frequencies which the wearer cannot hear clearly. On the other hand, people who use analog aids always complain that they hear the ceiling fan just as loudly as the voice of the person talking to t h e m , " s ay s D r Someshwar Singh, a Delhi-based consultant ENT surgeon. He says he prescribes 20-30 of these sleeker, smarter digital hearing aids in a month. Brigadier Sivinder Singh, a retired army officer, uses Starkey Surflink, a Bluetooth-like device, which connects his Starkey hearing aid with his android phone. "When my phone rings, Surflink via an app on my phone transmits the sound directly to my hearing aid. Nobody else hears it ringing," says Singh whose hearing was impacted from exposure to deafening artillery sounds.

    Wireless accessories, like Surflink, transmit sound via FM spectrum or Bluetooth platform to digital hearing aids placed either inside or behind the ear. These accessories connect the hearing aid to a number of electronic gadgets - FM radio, TV, mobile phones, cordless phones etc. With Siemens' ePen, users can change the volume, flip programmes or turn the aid off and on. GN Resound's Remote Control 2 has a bigger display so that the user doesn't fumble while adjusting the controls.

    Smart hearing aids, however, are expensive. A good quality aid starts at Rs 30,000 and can go up to as much as Rs 2 lakh and more. The analog variants only cost between Rs 500 and Rs 2,000. The cost factor forces most hearing-impaired - currently 6% of India's population - to opt for analog devices.

    In government-run schools, for instance, hearing impaired students are provided free analog aids but with uniform calibration. "They are of little use because every child has a different degree of hearing loss," says Devangi Dalal who runs Josh, a Mumbai-based NGO which works with hearing impaired children.


  3. #993
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Want stronger muscles? Have green tomatoes

    A new study suggests that green tomatoes may hold the answer to bigger, stronger muscles.

    Using a screening method that previously identified a compound in apple peel as a muscle-boosting agent, a team of University of Iowa scientists has now discovered that tomatidine, a compound from green tomatoes, is even more potent for building muscle and protecting against muscle atrophy.

    Muscle atrophy, or wasting, is caused by aging and a variety of illnesses and injuries, including cancer, heart failure, and orthopedic injuries, to name a few. It makes people weak and fatigued, impairs physical activity and quality of life, and predisposes people to falls and fractures. The condition affects more than 50 million Americans annually, including 30 million people over age 60, and often forces people into nursing homes or rehabilitation facilities.

    “Muscle atrophy causes many problems for people, their families, and the health care system in general,” Christopher Adams, M.D., Ph.D., UI associate professor of internal medicine and molecular physiology and biophysics, said.

    “However, we lack an effective way to prevent or treat it. Exercise certainly helps, but it’s not enough and not very possible for many people who are ill or injured,” he said.

    In a new study, Adams searched for a small molecule compound that might be used to treat muscle atrophy.

    He zeroed in on tomatidine using a systems biology tool called the Connectivity Map, which was developed at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University.

    Adams discovered that tomatidine generates changes in gene expression that are essentially opposite to the changes that occur in muscle cells when people are affected by muscle atrophy.

    After identifying tomatidine, Adams and his team tested its effects on skeletal muscle. They first discovered that tomatidine stimulates growth of cultured muscle cells from humans.

    Their next step was to add tomatidine to the diet of mice. They found that healthy mice supplemented with tomatidine grew bigger muscles, became stronger and could exercise longer. And, most importantly, they found that tomatidine prevented and treated muscle atrophy.

    The findings are published online in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.


  4. #994
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Gardening can help you overcome 'blues'

    Scientists have revealed that gardening can help in treating the 'blues' as it is now being increasingly used as an effective therapy to help drug addicts, soldiers with post-traumatic disorders and stroke victims.

    Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said that more doctors should promote gardening therapy, which not just benefits the patients, but also creates "huge potential savings for the NHS", the Independent reported.

    The researchers have also said that just looking at a garden has been scientifically proven to improve recovery time and patients do much better after surgery if they look at "green things".

    Thompson said that the positive effects of gardening include, exercise, vitamin D from sunlight and home-grown food.

    Alyson Chorley, from horticultural charity Thrive, said that gardening can benefit everyone, regardless of age or ability and people who have suffered from strokes can improve their mobility by getting their muscles moving.

    Chorley added that the activity also improves mental health by providing a sense of purpose and achievement


  5. #995
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Check your baby before it’s conceived

    A new technology that creates digital embryos by virtually mixing two people's DNA can allow parents a glimpse of their baby's health and physical characteristics — before it has even been conceived.

    The Matchright technology can allow people to screen out sperm donors who, when their genes are combined with those of the intended mother, could increase the risk of a child inheriting genetic diseases.

    The technology, which will be available in two American fertility clinics later this month, could also give clues to the baby's eye and skin pigmentation, height and waist size.

    "It covers any disease or any trait that has a genetic influence," said Lee Silver at Princeton University, who co-founded GenePeeks, the company that markets the technology. GenePeeks intends to use the system to identify rare conditions such as cystic fibrosis and Tay-Sachs disease, which are passed on to a child when both parents carry a mutation in a single gene.

    Screening for genetic disorders usually involves sequencing the DNA of the prospective parents.

    GenePeeks takes this a step further: algorithms are fed this information and use it to digitally recreate the process of genetic recombination — the mixing of genetic information between a sperm and an egg, New Scientist reported.

    This allows them to look at the genetic make-up of the possible embryos. Before a woman selects a donor from a participating fertility clinic , the Matchright algorithms , which Silver developed , are run thousands of times for each donor. This produces up to 10,000 'embryos' per pairing. These are sequenced to look for mutations in genes that can cause some 500 rare diseases, and used to work out the disease risk in the 'baby' .


  6. #996
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Can ‘drug rooms’ tackle addiction?

    The gangly father of three speaks five languages and talks effortlessly about international politics. What he can't do is kick his cocaine and heroin habit. But now when he shoots up, Kais Neni goes to a supervised , state-funded drug consumption room — Denmark's 18-month-old approach to a problem with no easy solution.

    "It's better than being in the streets," said 46-year-old Neni, before getting his fix in the space where a medical professional remains on hand to help drug users if they overdose.

    "Having a drug consumption room is accepting something that is already happening ," said Rasmus Koberg Christiansen, the manager of two of the three statefunded drug consumption rooms in Copenhagen.

    The first one opened in the capital in October 2012 and there are now rooms in every one of Denmark's main cities. "No country has solved the drug problem. There are countries that hand down death sentences for taking drugs but they still have problems," he said. "It's an acknowledgement of the fact that there really are some people whom we can't reach with rehab — right now. And what do we do with those people?" he added.

    The approach contrasts with Scandinavian neighbour Sweden's strict "zerotolerance" policy, which is credited with giving Sweden one of Europe's lowest illicit drug consumption rates — but is also blamed for a rising number of drug-related deaths as addicts fear seeking help for an overdose.

    Proponents of drug consumption rooms say they prevent overdoses. In 2011, Denmark recorded 285 drug overdose deaths. In 2012, it was down to 210, the lowest number in 19 years.


  7. #997
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Give kids zinc supplement, keep cold at bay

    None of us has ever been spared from a visit to a doctor after an attack of rhino viruses that cause common cold. With running nose, headache, and sore throat to sneezing as symptoms, the virus is familiar globally as an irritant without a cure. However, oral zinc, when consumed as a supplement, can take care of your little ones, if given for at least five months before the onset of the common cold.

    These findings have been revealed following a study by pediatricians Rashmi Rajan Das of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhubaneswar, and Meenu Singh of the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh. They analyzed data from 18 randomized controlled trials and the study has been published in Journal of American Medical Association this month.

    As reported in previous scientific studies, common cold in adults is often 2-4 episodes annually while in children the frequency is between 6 and 10 colds a year. Hence, finding a preventive dosage in children is important. Earlier, the duo had been the first ones to review that zinc reduces the duration of common cold when administered within 24 hours of the onset of cold.

    "After we reviewed the significance of zinc in common cold in 2011, we have updated the findings and found that there is a significant reduction in the duration of cold at a zinc dose of 75 mg/day," said Singh. There were 1,781 participants in the trial and the study concluded that in people taking zinc cold symptoms were less likely to persist beyond seven days of treatment. "When using zinc lozenges (not as syrup or tablets) the likely benefit has to be balanced against side effects as lozenges leave a bad taste in mouth causing nausea," she said.

    Regarding prophylactic zinc supplementation, currently no firm recommendation in adults can be made because of insufficient data. No trials were conducted among high risk participants with chronic illness, immunodeficiency or asthma. "We are working on this group at the moment," the doctor added.


  8. #998
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Stem cells grown on 'soft carpets' function better

    The fluffiness of the medium of which human embryonic stem cells are growing affects the type of specialised cells they eventually become, a study has shown.

    The researchers coaxed human embryonic stem cells to turn into working spinal cord cells more efficiently by growing the cells on a soft, ultra fine carpet made of a key ingredient in Silly Putty.

    "To realise promising clinical applications of human embryonic stem cells, we need a better culture system that can reliably produce more target cells that function well," said Jianping Fu, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at University of Michigan.

    "Our approach is a big step in that direction, by using synthetic micro-engineered surfaces to control mechanical environmental signals," he added.

    This research is the first to directly link physical, as opposed to chemical, signals to human embryonic stem cell differentiation.

    Differentiation is the process of the source cells morphing into the body's more than 200 cell types that become muscle, bone, nerves and organs.

    Fu said the findings raise the possibility of a more efficient way to guide stem cells to differentiate and potentially provide therapies for diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease), Huntington's or Alzheimer's.

    In the specially engineered growth system - the 'carpets' Fu and his colleagues designed - microscopic posts of the Silly Putty component polydimethylsiloxane serve as the threads.

    The team found that stem cells they grew on softer carpets turned into nerve cells much faster and more often than those they grew on stiffer surfaces.

    After 23 days, the colonies of spinal cord cells that grew on the softer micropost carpets were four times more pure and 10 times larger than those growing on either traditional plates or rigid carpets.

    The researchers verified that the new motor neurons they obtained on soft micropost carpets showed electrical behaviours comparable to those of neurons in the human body.

    "This is extremely exciting," Fu said.

    Researchers believe stem cell therapies might help patients grow new nerve cells.

    The study was published online in Nature Materials.


  9. #999
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Scientists to test artificial blood in humans

    In a ground-breaking trial, researchers in the UK will test artificial blood made from human stem cells in patients for the first time.

    The research, planned for 2016, could pave the way for manufacturing of blood on an industrial scale, which could even supersede donated blood as the main supply for patients.

    "We have made red blood cells, for the first time, that are fit to go in a person's body. Before now, we haven't really had that," said Marc Turner, medical director at the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, who is leading the 5 million pounds project at the University of Edinburgh.

    The trial will involve three patients with thalassaemia, a disorder of the red blood cells that requires regular transfusions. They will receive around 5 ml of blood initially to test whether the cells behave normally in the body.

    Turner stressed that the trial should not be taken as a signal for people to stop donating blood, but speculated that in 20 years, artificial blood could be the norm.

    Turner has spent several years refining a technique to grow mature red blood cells from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells - adult skin or blood cells that have been genetically reprogrammed into a stem cell-like state, 'The Times' reported.

    The iPS cells are cultured in biochemical conditions similar to those in the human body that trigger their transition towards mature red blood cells.

    The team has currently reached an efficiency of 40-50 per cent of initial cells turning into red blood cells, and the process takes about a month.

    The useable cells can then be separated from immature blood cells and remaining iPS cells using standard blood separation methods, such as centrifuging.

    Artificial blood would be made from cells taken from someone with the relatively rare universal blood type O-, which can be transfused into almost any patient, researchers said.


  10. #1000
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Now, ice cream that could serve as a replacement for Viagra

    A British ice cream maker has developed a flavour, 'The Arousal', which includes 25 mg of Viagra per scoop.

    Charlie Harry Francis, who created the concoction, wrote on his blog 'Lick Me, I'm Delicious' that that champagne is also a key ingredient in the flavour, Fox News reported.

    Francis told Latin Times that champagne-flavoured/Viagra ice cream was a custom order by an A-list celeb, and he spent a few days developing the recipe.

    He said incorporating the Viagra was easy but making it taste nicely of champagne was tough.


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