Adding a daily serving of green, leafy vegetables to your diet may be a simple way to foster your brain health. In people who ate the most of green, leafy vegetables brain ageing slowed by 11 years.
Eating one to two servings of salad with spinach, lettuce and kale daily may keep your brain 11 years younger as well as prevent dementia, according to a study.
The study found that people who ate at least one serving of green, leafy vegetables a day had a slower rate of decline on tests of memory and thinking skills than people who never or rarely ate these vegetables.
In people who ate the most of green, leafy vegetables brain ageing slowed by 11 years.
“Adding a daily serving of green, leafy vegetables to your diet may be a simple way to foster your brain health,” said Martha Clare Morris, from the Rush University in Chicago.
“Projections show sharp increases in the percentage of people with dementia as the oldest age groups continue to grow in number, so effective strategies to prevent dementia are critical,” Morris added.
The study, published in the journal Neurology, involved 960 people with an average age of 81 who did not have dementia and were followed for an average of 4.7 years.
Over 10 years of follow-up, the rate of decline for those who ate the most leafy greens was slower by 0.05 standardised units per year than the rate for those who ate the least leafy greens. This difference was equivalent to being 11 years younger in age.
The results remained valid after accounting for other factors that could affect brain health such as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, education level and amount of physical and cognitive activities, the researchers said.
Courtesy - Indian Express
In order to restrict the spread of diseases such as Zika and dengue, researchers have developed a platform that can analyse clinical samples from patients to diagnose infection by 416 viruses found in the world's tropical regions.
In addition to the pathogens, the platform detects others that as yet have been identified only sporadically but could become epidemics.
Examples include Mayaro, an alphavirus related to chikungunya that is transmitted by wild mosquitoes such as Haemagogus janthinomys.
"The number of patients with suspected dengue, Zika or chikungunya infection will increase when summer arrives," said Victor Hugo Aquino, professor at the University of Sao Paulo (USP) in Brazil.
"Conventional methods are frequently unable to confirm diagnosis of these diseases, so we don't know which viruses are circulating," said Aquino.
In his view, if a tool like this had been available when Zika began circulating in Brazil, it might have been possible to restrict its spread to the initial outbreak location.
"We took a long time to realise an epidemic was under way because no one was thinking of Zika at the time," he said.
"There are several other viruses that have not yet caused problems in humans but may do so one day," Aquino said.
"They are evolving all the time, and with the degradation of natural environments infectious agents once confined to natural niches could spread farther afield," added Aquino.
Although the platform is designed above all to detect pathogens transmitted by arthropods such as mosquitoes and ticks, it can also diagnose infectious agents transmitted by small mammals, like hantavirus.
Aquino explained that the selection encompasses all viruses occurring in tropical regions with DNA sequences deposited in GenBank, a public database maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), which is part of the US National Library of Medicine (NLM).
The platform consists of a DNA microarray slide with eight identical sub-arrays containing viral probes replicated at least three times to complete the array with 15,000 probes.
Each probe contains the sequences for 60 nucleotides that are complementary to the genomes of the viruses to be detected.
According to Aquino, the sequences were mounted on the basis of information from GenBank using bioinformatics.
"If a blood sample contains one of the 416 viruses included on the microchip, the pathogen's genome will bind with one of the probes to produce a marker that can be detected by a scanner," Aquino said.
The device that reads the results is the same as that used in microarray assays for the analysis of gene expression.
The validation tests do not point to cross-hybridisation, which produces a positive result for more than one infectious agent and hinders correct identification of single viruses.
The study was published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
Courtesy – Deccan Herald
Children delivered by cesarean section have 40 per cent greater odds of becoming overweight or obese in childhood compared to those born vaginally, according to a new research. This association was even greater if their mother was overweight or obese, suggesting that among obese mothers vaginal delivery may help reduce the intergenerational association of obesity, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the US.
This finding held even after accounting for the mother's age at the time of delivery, race, education, pre-pregnancy body mass index, pregnancy weight gain, air pollution exposure and the child's birth weight.
The researchers noted that having an overweight mother is often associated with overweight or obese children, regardless of how the child is born, but the effect was stronger among women who delivered through cesarean section. "We think that the reason for the difference may be due to the beneficial microbes found in the birth canal that newborns are exposed to during a vaginal birth," said lead author Noel Mueller, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University.
"We suspect that these microbes may benefit a child's health, including enhancing metabolism and training the immune system," said Mueller. Researchers analysed data on 1,441 full-term deliveries from the Boston Birth Cohort.
Among the study group, 57 per cent of the women who gave birth by Cesarean were obese, and 53 per cent of those who delivered vaginally were obese. Children ranged from ages two to eight at the time of outcome measurement.
Courtesy – Deccan Herald
People who sleep five or fewer hours a night are likely to drink significantly more sugary caffeinated beverages, such as sodas and energy drinks, according to a new study.
"We think there may be a positive feedback loop where sugary drinks and sleep loss reinforce one another, making it harder for people to eliminate their unhealthy sugar habit," said lead author Aric A Prather, assistant professor at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in the US.
"This data suggests that improving people's sleep could potentially help them break out of the cycle and cut down on their sugar intake, which we know to be linked to metabolic disease," said Prather.
A growing body of research has linked sugary beverage consumption to metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions including high blood sugar and excess body fat, which can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Lack of sleep is also associated with a higher risk for metabolic disease.
Recently, several studies have linked the two factors in school-age children, showing that children who get less sleep are more likely to drink soda and other sugary beverages during the day, said Prather.
To understand whether this is a more general pattern in the adult population, Prather and his team analysed the 2005-2012 records of 18,779 participants in the US National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES).
The researchers found that people who regularly slept five or fewer hours per night also drank 21 per cent more caffeinated sugar-sweetened beverages - including both sodas and non-carbonated energy drinks - than those who slept seven to eight hours a night.
People who slept six hours per night regularly consumed 11 per cent more caffeinated sugar-sweetened beverages. On the other hand, the team found no association between sleep duration and consumption of juice, tea or diet drinks.
Prather noted that previous research has strongly indicated that sleep deprivation increases hunger, particularly hunger for sugary and fatty foods.
"Short sleepers may seek out caffeinated sugar-sweetened beverages to increase alertness and stave off daytime sleepiness," he said.
"However, it is not clear whether drinking such beverages affects sleep patterns, or if people who do not sleep much are more driven to consume them. Unfortunately, the data in the current study do not allow us to draw any conclusions about cause and effect," he added. The study appears in the journal Sleep Health.
Courtesy – Deccan Herald
Higher levels of iron in pregnant women may lead to an increased risk of gestational diabetes, a new study has warned.
The study by researchers from US National Institutes of Health (NIH) also raises questions about routine recommendations on iron supplementation in pregnancy.
Iron is regarded as a double-edged sword in living systems, as both its deficiency and excess can be harmful, researchers said.
While many guidelines recommend screening and treatment only as necessary for iron deficiency, several other groups such as the World Health Organisation (WHO recommend routine iron supplementation among pregnant women.
Emerging evidence has pointed to a possible link between higher iron stores and abnormal blood sugar control (including type 2 diabetes) in non-pregnant individuals.
Researchers did a case-control study of 107 gestational diabetes (GDM) cases and 214 controls (matched on age, gestational week of blood collection and race/ethnicity).
They looked at several biomarkers of iron status, including plasma hepcidin, ferritin, and soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR), and these data were used to calculate the sTfR:ferritin ratio, which captures both cellular iron need and availability of body iron stores.
These markers were longitudinally measured or calculated four times during pregnancy, twice before GDM diagnosis (gestational weeks 10-14 and 15-26), and twice afterwards (gestational weeks 23-31 and 33-39).
GDM diagnosis was ascertained from medical records based on oral glucose tolerance test results.
Statistical modelling was then used to calculate the odds ratio of GDM with iron status, accounting for factors such as demographics, pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), and other major risk factors.
Researchers found that for both hepcidin and ferritin, in the second trimester of pregnancy, those in the top 25 per cent of levels of these markers had around a 2.5 times increased subsequent risk of developing GDM compared with those in the bottom 25 per cent.
Similar findings were observed for ferritin levels in the first trimester. Describing the findings as biologically plausible, researchers offer various potential explanations.
Iron may play a role in the development of GDM through several potential mechanisms. As a strong pro-oxidant, free iron can promote several cellular reactions that generate reactive oxygen species and increase the level of oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress induced from excess iron accumulation can cause damage to and death of pancreatic beta cells which produce insulin and consequently, contribute to impaired insulin synthesis and secretion.The study was published in the journal Diabetologia.
Courtesy – Deccan Herald
Sleep deprivation may make you munch on more calories the following day, potentially leading to weight gain and obesity, a new study has found.
The study found that sleep-deprived people consumed an average of 385 kilocalories per day extra, which is equivalent to the calories of about four and a half slices of bread.
The study, led by researchers at King's College London, combined the results of 11 studies with a total of 172 participants.
The analysis included studies that compared a partial sleep restriction intervention with an unrestricted sleep control and measured the individuals' energy intake over the next 24 hours.
They found partial sleep deprivation did not have a significant effect on how much energy people expended in the subsequent 24 hours. Therefore, participants had a net energy gain of 385 calories per day.
The researchers also found there was a small shift in what sleep deprived people ate - they had higher fat and lower protein intakes, but no change in carbohydrate intake.
"The main cause of obesity is an imbalance between calorie intake and expenditure and this study adds to accumulating evidence that sleep deprivation could contribute to this imbalance," said Gerda Pot, from King's College London.
"So there may be some truth in the saying 'early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy and wise'," Pot said.
"This study found that partial sleep deprivation resulted in a large net increased energy intake of 385 kcal per day," she said.
"If long-term sleep deprivation continues to result in an increased calorie intake of this magnitude, it may contribute to weight gain," she added.
"Our results highlight sleep as a potential third factor, in addition to diet and exercise, to target weight gain more effectively," Haya Al Khatib, PhD candidate at King's College London.
The study was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Courtesy – Deccan Herald
Children living in big cities such as Delhi, are likely to grow susceptible to allergic ailments, more than adults, due to urban pollution, especially air, health experts said.
"Infants and children living in metro cities are inhaling polluted air and therefore their resistance power to allergic ailments are lowered at a very young age, making them more susceptible to contract various allergies when they grow up, compared to adults, Director (Acting) of the Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute (VPCI), S N Gaur, told PTI.
According to Gaur, between 20-30 per cent of the population in the country suffers from some form of allergic ailments.
Studies suggest that the prevalence of asthma has been on the rise in developing countries in the past one decade. Also, studies from several centres have reported that the prevalence of asthma in children in India ranged from 2.3-11.9 per cent, while in adults it ranged from 0.96-11.03 per cent," according to VPCI.
The city-based institute has organised a four-day national conference, hosted by Indian College of Allergy, Asthma & Applied Immunology (ICAAI), to discus the clinical and laboratory aspects of allergy, asthma and immunology.
The event is specially aimed towards analysing the impact of the number of offending agents like air pollution, allergens and change in lifestyle in India and South Asia.
According to experts, it is estimated that over 20 per cent of the world's population suffers from allergic diseases such as allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis, atopic eczema and anaphylaxis.
Asthma is a worldwide problem, with estimated 300 million affected individuals and global prevalence which ranges from 1-18 per cent in different geographical regions.
"The most common allergic ailment, in my career as a doctor, I have diagnosed is allergic rhinitis," Union minister Harsh Vardhan said, at the inauguration of the conference last evening.
Air pollution is killing nearly eight lakh people annually in the South East Asian Region with India alone accounting for over 75 per cent of the casualties caused by cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer, according to WHO.
According to a recent WHO report, a few Indian cities, including Delhi, Patna and Gwalior were identified as among the severely polluted cities in the world. Experts say global warming and pollution are among the major factors responsible for causing allergic ailments.
Jaspal Singh Sandhu, Secretary UGC and a doctor himself, said, "Given Delhi's air condition, rising allergy cases are not surprising. In the city, if you ask me, one of the places having the purest air is JNU campus. Allergy incidences have been on the rise, and they should not be ignored."
Food habits and smoking, both direct and passive, are also among the factors leading to allergic reactions.
Courtesy – Deccan Herald
Taking calcium in the form of supplements may raise the risk of plaque buildup in arteries and heart damage, although a diet high in calcium-rich foods appears to be protective, scientists have found.
After analysing 10 years of medical tests on more than 2,700 people, researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US, said the results add to growing scientific concerns about the potential harms of supplement.
"Our study adds to the body of evidence that excess calcium in the form of supplements may harm the heart and vascular system," said Erin Michos, from Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Previous studies have shown that "ingested calcium supplements - particularly in older people - do not make it to the skeleton or get completely excreted in the urine, so they must be accumulating in the body's soft tissues," said nutritionist John Anderson, from University of North Carolina in the US.
Scientists also knew that as a person ages, calcium-based plaque builds up in the body's main blood vessel, the aorta and other arteries, impeding blood flow and increasing the risk of heart attack.
The researchers looked at detailed information from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a long-running research project which included more than 6,000 people.
The study focused on 2,742 of these participants who completed dietary questionnaires and two CT scans spanning 10 years apart. The participants chosen for this study ranged in age from 45 to 84, and 51 per cent were female.
At the study's onset in 2000, all participants answered a 120-part questionnaire about their dietary habits to determine how much calcium they took in by eating dairy products, leafy greens and calcium-enriched foods such as cereals.
For the analysis, the researchers first split the participants into five groups based on their total calcium intake, including both calcium supplements and dietary calcium.
After adjusting the data for age, sex, race, exercise, smoking, income, education, weight, smoking, drinking, blood pressure, blood sugar and family medical history, researchers separated out 20 per cent of participants with the highest total calcium intake, which was greater than 1,400 milligrammes of calcium a day.
That group was found to be on average 27 per cent less likely than the 20 per cent of participants with the lowest calcium intake - less than 400 milligrammes of daily calcium - to develop heart disease, as indicated by their coronary artery calcium test.
The research was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Courtesy – Deccan Herald
Having a few drinks may help people with clinical depression feel better, say scientists who have found that alcohol produces same neural changes as rapidly effective antidepressants. "Because of the high comorbidity between major depressive disorder and alcoholism there is the widely recognised self-medication hypothesis, suggesting that depressed individuals may turn to drinking as a means to treat their depression," said Kimberly Raab-Graham, associate professor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre in the US.
"We now have biochemical and behavioural data to support that hypothesis," she said. However, this does not suggest that alcohol can be an effective treatment for depression, researchers said. "There is definitely a danger in self-medicating with alcohol. There is a very fine line between it being helpful and harmful, and at some point during repeated use self-medication turns into addiction," Raab-Graham added.
Using an animal model, researchers found that a single dose of an intoxicating level of alcohol, which has been shown to block NMDA receptors - proteins associated with learning and memory - worked in conjunction with the autism-related protein FMRP to transform an acid called GABA from an inhibitor to a stimulator of neural activity.
In addition, they found that these biochemical changes resulted in non-depressive behaviour lasting at least 24 hours. This study demonstrated that alcohol followed the same biochemical pathway as rapid antidepressants in the animals, while producing behavioural effects comparable to those observed in people.
In recent years, single doses of rapid antidepressants such as Ketamine have proven capable of relieving depressive symptoms within hours and lasting for up to two weeks, even in individuals who are resistant to traditional antidepressants. The study appears in the journal Nature Communications.
Courtesy – Deccan Herald
Breastfeeding may not only be beneficial for babies, but also for their mothers - protecting them from premature death and serious diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, a new study has claimed.
Breastfeeding as recommended - for a total of one year and exclusively for six months - could protect babies and their moms from premature death and serious diseases, researchers said.
The study underscores the importance of policies that make it possible for women to breastfeed, according to study senior author Alison Stuebe from the University of North Carolina in the US.
Researchers said their findings highlight the importance of providing women with the support they need to breastfeed their babies, beginning at birth.
"Breastfeeding is far more beneficial in preventing disease and reducing costs than previously estimated," said lead author Melissa Bartick, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in the US.
"The results should compel all hospitals to develop programs aimed at helping new mothers learn to breastfeed their babies," said Bartick.
Researchers modelled two groups for the study. The 'optimal group', in which the majority of mothers breastfed as recommended and the 'suboptimal group', in which mothers breastfed at current rates in the US, which are less than the recommended guidelines.
Using existing research and government data, they projected the rates and costs of diseases that breastfeeding is known to reduce, along with the rates and costs of early deaths from those diseases.
Children's diseases included in the evaluation were acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, ear infections, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, gastrointestinal infections, lower respiratory tract infections, obesity, necrotising enterocolitis and Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
For mothers, the study included breast cancer, pre-menopausal ovarian cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart attacks.
The researchers found that suboptimal breastfeeding was associated with more than 3,340 premature deaths in the US each year, costing the country 3 billion dollars in medical costs, 1.3 billion dollars in indirect costs and 14.2 billion dollars in costs related to premature deaths.
The majority of the excess death and medical costs - nearly 80 per cent - were maternal.
"Breastfeeding has long been framed as a child health issue, however it is clearly a women's health issue as well," said Eleanor Bimla Schwarz from University of California, Davis, in the US.
"Breastfeeding helps prevent cancer, diabetes and heart disease, yet many women have no idea breastfeeding has any of these benefits," said Schwarz.
The study appears in the journal Maternal & Child Nutrition.
Courtesy – Deccan Herald