For a better understanding of Alzheimers, researchers are taking a look at liver

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting approximately 50 million people worldwide. In the race to gain a better understanding of the drivers behind A


Study outlines concerns around natural psychoactive substances

New research finds that over a period of 17 years, people in the United States increased their use of natural psychoactive substances, believing them to be safe. This has led to many


by Bindhu Sreedhar

Scientists have been aware of the negative impacts of improper sleep rates since a long time. The impacts are short term as well as long term in humans. It mainly affects an individual's cardiovascular system. But improper sleep's effects on circulation have always remained unclear. Through some new studies, scientists have uncovered some potential mechanisms. Researchers from University of Colorado Boulder are looking into how circulation is affected by promoting the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries (atherogenesis) due to lack of sleep, which in turn leads to stroke or heart attack. This study proposes a new potential mechanism through which sleep influences heart health and overall physiology, says senior author Prof. Christopher DeSouza. After the study, results showed that patients who received less than the optimum 7 hours of sleep had their blood levels of three key circulating miRNAs that were 40-60% lower than the participants who received 7-8 hours of sleep. These three key circulating miRNAs - miR- 125A, miR-126, and miR-146 lead to suppression of expression of proinflammatory proteins. Prof. DeSouza says, they are like cellular brakes, so if beneficial microRNAs are lacking, that can have a big impact on the health of the celland explains how lack of sleep can affect our health in due course of time.

For a better understanding of Alzheimers, researchers are taking a look at liver

by Bindhu Sreedhar

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting approximately 50 million people worldwide. In the race to gain a better understanding of the drivers behind Alzheimer's disease, one research team looks to the link between the brain, the gut, and the liver. The researchers decided to start taking liver function into account — in the context of Alzheimer's disease — because of the organ's role in the body's metabolic processes. In this study, blood biomarkers, reflecting liver function, were related to brain imaging and [cerebrospinal fluid] markers associated with Alzheimer's. No stone can be left unturned in our attempt to understand the disease and to identify viable therapeutic targets.", says Andrew Saykin. In the future, the current findings plus other related investigations may help perfect a more personalized approach to treating Alzheimer's, as precision medicine keeps on gaining ground.

Study outlines concerns around natural psychoactive substances

by Bindhu Sreedhar

New research finds that over a period of 17 years, people in the United States increased their use of natural psychoactive substances, believing them to be safe. This has led to many reports of adverse symptoms in adults and children alike. People have been using natural psychoactive substances for hundrends, or even thousands, of years in traditional medicine and as a part of spiritual practices. Because these substances come from sources such as plants and mushrooms, many people believe them to be safe to use. However, because they interfere with biological processes in the central nervous system, they can be a threat to human health. These interferences can also cause euphoria and altered states of consciousness. For these reasons, many people are now using natural psychoactive substances for recreational purposes.

Do having more fingers benefit us?

by Mrinalini R I

Polydactyly, the condition in which a person is born with more than the usual number of fingers on their hands or toes on their feet, is seen in many individuals. One in every 2000-3000 babies are born with polydactyly. It is considered a deformity as it is not a normal affair. Hence, most doctors remove any extra fingers or toes at the time of birth itself to avoid embarrassment in the future and also because these extra digits are considered useless. Now, the question of whether it has beneficial aspects, is arising among scientists who believe that polydactyly serves people with more dexterity in movement when compared to those with fewer digits of fingers and toes. Studies were conducted to learn more about this. We wanted to know if the subjects have motor skills that go beyond people with five fingers and how the brain is able to control the additional degrees of freedom,& says study co-author Prof. Carsten Mehring. During the study, participants were made to perform various tasks while their brain activity was being recorded continuously through functional MRI. Results showed that, they were able to perform tasks with a single hand, which could be done only using two hands for people without extra digits. Scientists explain that brain was able to cope up and control the extra finger only because it was there by birth and having control over parts developed in later stages of life is doubtful

How diet can alter the gut, leading to insulin resistance

by Bindhu Sreedhar

Insulin resistance occurs when the body stops responding normally to insulin, a hormone that helps the body process sugar. Developing insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes, which is a metabolic condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Obesity is a significant risk factor for insulin resistance and diabetes. But how and why does obesity drive this metabolic change? Researchers from the University of Toronto in Canada believe the answer may lie in the mechanisms that consuming a high fat diet sets in motion. In the first part of their study, the investigators used mouse models with obesity, some of which lacked IgA. The researchers found that when the IgA-deficient mice ate a high fat diet, their insulin resistance worsened. When the researchers collected gut bacteria from the IgA- deficient mice and transplanted them into rodents without gut bacteria, these mice also developed insulin resistance. This experiment, the researchers suggest, indicates that at normal levels, IgA would help keep gut bacteria in check. Not just that, but it would also help prevent harmful bacteria from "leaking" through the> intestines. The results of the current research suggest a direct link between eating a high fat diet and having obesity, on the one hand, and having lower levels of gut IgA, symptoms of gut inflammation, and developing insulin resistance, on the other. In the future, the researchers would like to find out how best to boost levels of IgA- producing B cells, believing that this intervention could protect against insulin resistance. If we can boost these IgA B cells or their products, then we may be able to control the type of bacteria in the gut. Especially the ones that are more likely to be linked to inflammation and ultimately, insulin resistance. ", says Co-author Dr Daniel Winer.

How fruit and vegetable compounds help prevent colorectal cancer

by Mrinalini R I

Flavonoids are compounds that are naturally present in fruit and vegetables. Scientists have known for 20 years that they can help prevent colorectal cancer but have not fully understood the underlying biology. Now, a new study describes a molecular mechanism through which a product of flavonoid digestion can inhibit cancer cell growth under certain conditions. The study is the work of a team at South Dakota State University in Brookings, who report their findings in a recent issue of the journal Cancers. At first, the researchers were investigating how aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) can reduce colorectal cancer risk. In that earlier work, they saw how a salicylic acid derivative called 2,4,6-trihydroxybenzoic acid (2,4,6-THBA) was able to slow cancer cell growth. They decided to search for natural sources of 2,4,6-THBA and found that it was also a compound that results from the digestion of flavonoids. The researchers are already investigating which gut bacteria produce metabolites from flavonoids. They foresee the possibility of developing probiotics that could help to prevent colorectal cancer. "We have so many drugs to treat cancer, but almost none to prevent it. Therefore, demonstrating 2,4,6-THBA as a protective agent against colorectal cancer has immense potential health benefits." Jayarama Gunaje, Ph.D.

Chicken Vegetable Soup

by Rajeena M N

250 gms boiled and shredded chicken

1/2 cup diced onion

1 carrot, peeled and sliced

2 teaspoons minced garlic

200 gms tomatoes, diced

100 gms tomato sauce

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

3 cups chicken broth

1 potato, peeled and cut

1 cup diced green beans

1/2 cup corn

1/2 tablespoon butter

Olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Take a large pot and add a sprinkle of olive oil. Add the butter on medium heat and, once it’s melted, add the onions and carrots to the pot. Cook till the carrots become soft. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Season with salt and pepper. Next, add the chicken, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Mix well. Add the cut potatoes, chicken broth and Italian seasoning. Reduce the heat to bring the pot to a simmer.

Cover the pot and let it cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken and potatoes have cooked, on medium to low heat. Add more salt and pepper, if needed. Add the green beans and corn, and cook for another 10 minutes.

Garnish with choice of herbs. Serve hot.


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