Monthly Archives: February 2015

Toxin in your oat breakfast?

Often touted for boosting cardiac health, oat-based breakfast cereals have now come under the scanner as researchers have detected in them potentially dangerous mould contamination.

Some oat-based breakfast cereals contain a high-level of mould-related toxin called ochratoxin A (OTA) that has been linked to kidney cancer in animal studies, the researchers, who procured the samples from the US, reported.

“OTA has been found in all major cereal grains including oat, wheat, and barley worldwide and considered as a potential concern in food safety,” said researchers Hyun Jung Lee and Dojin Ryu from the University of Idaho in the US.

However, the incidence of OTA was highest in oat-based breakfast cereals, followed by wheat-based, corn-based, and rice-based breakfast cereals, the findings showed.

Scientists do not yet know how the toxin affects human health, but the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organisation, classifies it as a possible human carcinogen.

Animals exposed to OTA in experiments developed kidney tumours.

Although the US does not currently regulate the contaminant, the European Union has set maximum limits for OTA in food (three nanogram/g).

Ryu and Lee wanted to see how the US breakfast cereals measured up to that standard.

The researchers tested close to 500 samples of corn-, rice-, wheat- and oat-based breakfast cereals purchased from the US stores over two years.

They found that in most samples, OTA levels were lower than the European threshold.

But concentrations exceeded the EU standard in eight percent of oat-based breakfast cereal samples.

The researchers concluded that oat production, storage and processing need careful review to better protect consumer health.

The findings were reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/toxin-in-your-oat-breakfast/

Heavy breakfast, light dinner controls blood sugar

Eating a high energy breakfast and a low energy dinner result in better blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes, says new research.

“High energy intake at breakfast is associated with significant reduction in overall post-meal glucose levels in diabetic patients over the entire day,” said Professor Daniela Jakubowicz from Tel Aviv University in Israel.

The findings suggest that adjusting diet in this fashion could help optimise metabolic control and prevent complications of type 2 diabetes.

The study included 18 individuals (eight men, 10 women), with type 2 diabetes of less than 10 years duration, between ages 30-70 years.

They compared the results of high energy breakfast with low energy dinner (the B diet) with a low energy breakfast and high energy dinner diet (the D diet).

Despite the diets containing the same total energy and same calories during lunch, lunch in the B diet resulted in lower blood glucose (by 21-25 percent) and higher insulin (by 23 percent) compared with the lunch in the D diet.

“Recommending a higher energy load at breakfast, when beta cell responsiveness and insulin-mediated muscle glucose uptake are at optimal levels, seems an adequate strategy to decrease post-meal glucose spikes in patients with type 2 diabetes,” said Jakubowicz.

The study appeared in the journal Diabetologia.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/heavy-breakfast-light-dinner-controls-blood-sugar/

Why women ignore symptoms of impending heart attack

Driven by concerns of initiating a false alarm, young women tend to ignore or dismiss the earliest symptoms of an impending heart attack, such as pain, dizziness and delay in seeking emergency medical care, says new research.

“Young women with multiple risk factors and a strong family history of cardiac disease should not assume they are too young to have a heart attack,” said lead researcher Judith Lichtman, associate professor at Yale School of Public Health.

For the study, the researchers examined the experiences of 30 women ranging in age from 30 to 55 years old who were hospitalised with acute myocardial infarction (AMI, heart attack).

“Participants in our study said they were concerned about initiating a false alarm in case their symptoms were due to something other than a heart attack,” said Lichtman.

“Identifying strategies to empower women to recognise symptoms and seek prompt care without stigma or perceived judgment may be particularly critical for young women at an increased risk for heart disease,” she pointed out.

The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with young women and found that patients inaccurately assessed their personal risk of heart disease.

Each year, in the United States alone, more than 15,000 women under the age of 55 die from heart disease, ranking it as a leading cause of death for this age group, the researchers noted.

“In addition to promoting knowledge about heart disease and encouraging more prompt care-seeking behaviour, another important goal for this population of women is improving preventive heart care,” said Lichtman.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/young-women-ignore-heart-attack-symptoms/

Wisdom teeth may help treat eye disease

Your wisdom teeth could hold the clue to treating diseases affecting the cornea, a major cause of blindness worldwide, says a new research.

“Stem cells from the dental pulp of wisdom teeth can be coaxed to turn into cells of the eye’s cornea and could one day be used to treat corneal blindness,” said the researchers.

“The findings indicate the wisdom teeth could become a new source of corneal transplant tissue made from the patient’s own cells. Corneal blindness, which affects millions of people worldwide, is typically treated with transplants of donor corneas,” explained senior investigator James Funderburgh, professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

“Shortages of donor’s cornea and rejection of donor’s tissue do occur, which might result in permanent blindness. Our work is promising because using the patient’s own cells for treatment could help us avoid these problems,” said Funderburgh.

The researchers proved that stem cells of the dental pulp, obtained from routine human third molar, or wisdom tooth, could be turned into corneal stromal cells called keratocytes.

The team injected the engineered keratocytes into the corneas of healthy mice, where they integrated without any signs of rejection. They also used the cells to develop constructs of corneal stroma akin to natural tissue.

The study appeared in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/wisdom-teeth-may-help-treat-eye-disease/

Vitamin D deficiency can cause diabetes

People who have low levels of vitamin D are more likely to have diabetes, regardless of how much they weigh, says a new study.

The findings suggest that besides maintaining a healthy diet, people can reduce their risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders by spending some time on outdoor activities.

(Also read: Vitamin D deficiency in kids ups heart disease risk later)

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and maintain bone and muscle health. The skin naturally produces this vitamin after exposure to sunlight. People also absorb smaller amounts of the vitamin through foods, such as milk fortified with vitamin D.

“Our findings indicate that vitamin D is associated more closely with glucose metabolism than obesity,” said one of the study authors, Manuel Macas-Gonzilez from the University of Malaga in Spain.

(Also read: Vitamin D reduces lung disease flare-ups)

Earlier studies had found that people who have low levels of vitamin D are more likely to be obese. The current study found that vitamin D levels were directly correlated with glucose levels, but not with Body Mass Index (BMI).

The researchers compared vitamin D biomarkers in 148 participants. All participants were classified by their BMI as well as whether they had diabetes, pre-diabetes or no glycemic disorders.

Researchers measured levels of vitamin D in the participants’ blood streams and vitamin D receptor gene expression in adipose tissue.

(Also read: Low Vitamin D levels may lead to early death)

The analysis found that obese participants who did not have glucose metabolism disorders had higher levels of vitamin D than diabetic participants.

Likewise, lean subjects with diabetes or another glucose metabolism disorder were more likely to have low levels of vitamin D.

The study appeared in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/vitamin-d-deficiency-can-cause-diabetes/

Timely meals, early to bed can prevent mental illness

Living a structured life with regular meal times and early bedtimes can lead to a better life and perhaps even prevent the onset of mental illness, suggests a study.

Our daily sleep-wake cycle is governed by an internal 24-hour timer — the circadian clock.

“However, there is evidence that daily activity is also influenced by rhythms much shorter than 24 hours which are known as ultradian rhythms and follow a four-hour cycle,” explained Kai-Florian Storch from the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University in Montreal.

Most prominently observed in infants before they are able to sleep through the night, ultradian rhythms may explain why, on average, we eat three meals a day that are relatively evenly spaced across our daily wake period.

These four-hour ultradian rhythms are activated by dopamine, a key chemical substance in the brain.

When dopamine levels are out of balance, the four-hour rhythms can stretch as long as 48 hours.

In the new study conducted on genetically modified mice, Storch and his team demonstrated that sleep abnormalities, which in the past have been associated with circadian rhythm disruption, result instead from an imbalance of an ultradian rhythm generator (oscillator) that is based on dopamine.

The new data suggests that when the ultradian arousal oscillator goes awry, sleep becomes disturbed and mania will be induced in bipolar patients.

Oscillator imbalance may likely also be associated with schizophrenic episodes in schizophrenic subjects.

The findings have potentially strong implications for the treatment of bipolar disease and other mental illnesses linked to dopamine imbalance, the authors noted.

The study has been published in the online journal eLife.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/timely-meals-early-to-bed-can-prevent-mental-illness/

Watch video: Meditate with open eyes to find inner bliss, here’s how

Alright, we all know about the healing powers of meditation and the impact it has on the quality of our life. But honestly, how many of you have actually been successful in calming yourself completely and finding inner bliss?

I’m sure only a few of you have replied in affirmative and rest of us struggle to find that peaceful moment when we completely detach ourselves from the world and revel in our internal peace.

It’s high time, we look for other ways to meditate; instead of closing eyes and sitting, we can very well meditate with our eyes open and going about our chores.

meditate1

A video created by Amit Sood, M.D., professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic and the author of The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living suggests an excellent way to beat stress, meditate and feel much more calmer than we feel in our busy lives presently.

Broody the Brain, the protagonist of the video is a poor student of meditation and is disappointed with its inability to perfect the art and then it tries a new way to feel calm.

meditation3

While exercising meditation with open eyes, here’re few of the lessons that it learnt:

1. “Meditation isn’t leaving the world behind, it’s feeling content and calm”

2. “Focused, relaxed attention is meditation.”

3. “Meditation is when you realise that nothing is more gorgeous than a child’s eyes.”

4. “Meditation is when you hold, immerse yourself and notice colours, pattern and texture of a flower.”

5. “Meditation is gratutiude for life’s little joys”

6. “You meditate when you close your day with a deep thankful intent for all that is good in a day so you feel content”

imaginary-fears

In essence, he finds out that the new way to meditate is by keeping your eyes open and immerse yourself deep in the small external joyful moments.

Why is it that we need to change the present style of meditating? Broody learnt that 2000 years ago when greater threats were external, directing the brain’s attention inward was a great way to meditate. Today when greater threats are internal imaginary fears, hopes, regrets, diverting attention outwards might be easier.

And how do we do that? We can take time to savour our delicious meals, consider everyone around as extraordinary, and treat everyone kindly.

Moral of the story? Meditation isn’t limited to transient bliss on a seat, meditation is creating compassion and gratitude.

E-mail author: parmita.uniyal@expressindia.com

Follow @parmitauniyal on Twitter

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/watch-video-open-your-eyes-and-meditate-to-find-inner-bliss-heres-how/

Now a therapy that helps you lose weight without much effort

Researchers have developed a targeted approach to override the “energy saving” mode and allow muscle to burn more energy, even during low to moderate exercise.

(Also read: ‘Warm’ workout key to weight loss)

The new findings may provide the basis of a therapy that could help people to overcome the body’s natural resistance to weight loss.

“This study shows for the first time that this energy efficiency can be manipulated in a clinically translatable way,” said Denice Hodgson-Zingman from the University of Iowa and co-author of the study.

“While such an approach would not replace the need for a healthy diet or exercise, it could jump start the process of weight loss by overcoming the initial hurdles imposed by our energy-efficient physiology,” Denice noted.

(Also read: Check your weight once a week to lose fat: Study)

An earlier study found that a protein called ATP-sensitive potassium (KATP) channel is a powerful modulator of energy efficiency in skeletal muscle even during low-intensity activity.

Now, the team has shown that altering the activity of the KATP protein causes skeletal muscles to become less efficient and burn more calories.

For the study, the team made a compound called a vivo-morpholino, which suppresses production of KATP.

Injecting this compound into the thigh muscles of mice produced a local loss of the protein but did not affect the protein in other organs or even in neighbouring skeletal muscles.

(Also read: Eat berries to lose weight)

The injected muscles burned more calories than untreated muscle without significantly affecting the muscle’s ability to tolerate exercise.

“By making skeletal muscles less energy efficient, they burn more calories, even while doing normal daily activities,” said Leonid Zingman from the University of Iowa and co-author.

“With this intervention, the benefits of exercise in burning calories could be accessible to a broader range of people by making the calorie burning effects of skeletal muscle greater even at low levels of activity that most people would be able to undertake,” Zingman said.

The study appeared in the journal Molecular Therapy.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/now-a-therapy-that-helps-you-lose-weight-without-much-effort/

Walk Hard. Walk Easy. Repeat.

Intense, interval-style workouts — brief bouts of very hard exercise broken up by periods of recovery — have been shown to improve the health and fitness of people who exert themselves for only a few minutes a week. Such efficiency is alluring, and has helped this kind of conditioning attract widespread media attention in recent years (including in this column). But high-intensity interval training programmes aren’t for everyone. As researchers from Australia and England point out in the December issue of Frontiers in Psychology, “a largely sedentary population” is unlikely to “feel physically capable and sufficiently motivated to take up and maintain a regime of highly intense exercise.” That doubt is what makes some news out of Japan about a much-less-punishing form of interval training so welcome.

A decade ago, scientists led by Dr. Hiroshi Nose at the Shinshu University Graduate School of Medicine in Matsumoto, Japan, started developing walking programmes. They knew that walking was physically the easiest (and also the most practical) exercise for those in middle age and older, but the researchers suspected that people might need to push themselves to achieve the greatest health benefits. So they created a regimen consisting three minutes of fast walking at a pace that Nose says approximates a 6 or 7 on a scale of exertion from 1 to 10. Each “somewhat-hard” three-minute spell was followed by three minutes of gentle strolling.

In their original experiment, the results of which were published in 2007, walkers between the ages of 44 and 78 completed five sets of intervals, for a total of 30 minutes of walking at least three times a week. A separate group of older volunteers walked at a continuous, moderate pace, equivalent to about a 4 on the same exertion scale. After five months, the fitness and health of the older, moderate group had barely improved. The interval walkers, however, significantly improved aerobic fitness, leg strength and blood-pressure readings.

In their latest study, which came out in December in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nose and his colleagues report that most of the participants stayed with the walking programme long after their original five-month commitment ended. Two years later, almost 70 per cent of the walkers with whom the researchers remained in contact were still following their regimen at least three times a week and had retained or improved their health gains. Those who quit cited “family, health and job issues,” says Dr. Shizue Masuki, the new study’s lead author, but they rarely complained about the complexity of the training.

So those who have considered high-intensity interval training but have been apprehensive about its demands should go for a walk.

“Perform the training for 10 minutes in the continued…

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/walk-hard-walk-easy-repeat/

Quit Before You Do

Doctors typically wait until smokers are ready to quit before prescribing pills to help them do it. But a new study has found that even for those who are not ready to stop smoking immediately, medicine taken over time can substantially improve their chances of eventually quitting.

Clinical practice guidelines have long advised doctors to have their patients set a precise quit date before prescribing medicine such as Chantix, the pills used to treat nicotine addiction that were examined in the study. The idea was that such medicine should not be prescribed for someone who is not serious about quitting. In some cases, insurance plans would not pay for the pills if no quit date had been set.

But in a study published in JAMA on Tuesday, researchers found that even for patients who wanted to stop smoking eventually, the pills were effective, opening the way to a much larger population of patients whom doctors could potentially treat.

David Abrams, executive director of the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies, said studies of nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches and gum, had long shown that attempts to quit gradually over time are a good way to change lifetime habits. The current study appears to show the same for pills, he said.

“Sometimes serious addiction needs to be coaxed down the stairs one at a time, not thrown off the top floor,” said Dr. Abrams, who was not involved in the study.

The study was funded by Pfizer, the drug company that makes Chantix, a treatment that costs about $250 a month. Federal regulators require companies to conduct studies proving the effectiveness of such therapies, and monitor them closely. The practice is common for smoking cessation therapies, said Robert West, director of tobacco studies at University College London, who was among the study’s authors. If such studies were funded by the government, which sustains a lot of academic research, taxpayers would bear the burden for what the company would eventually profit from, he said.

Still, some researchers not involved in the study said the topic required more work.

“The approach taken here is a very reasonable one that appears to have been successful,” said Gary A. Giovino, a professor of health behavior at the State University of New York at Buffalo. “But the findings from one study do not make a fact. We need more studies, funded by someone other than the company that makes the product.”

Smoking is the largest cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans a year. The smoking rate has declined substantially since the 1960s, but the pace of decline has slowed in recent years and health experts are trying to figure out how to get more smokers to quit.

About 1,500 patients at 61 clinics in the United States and abroad participated in continued…

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