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Topics - tasmiaT

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Allied Health Science / How Diet Can Change Your DNA
« on: April 28, 2017, 05:16:34 AM »
Nutritionists have long known that ‘you are what you eat’ is not just an expression. Recent studies suggest that what you eat affects you and sometimes even your children and grandchildren.

This winter Nestlé convened esteemed experts in human and animal health to talk about the future of nutrition science. One theme to emerge was the epigenetic impact of diet and lifestyle on individual health. Epigenetics is the study of how different biological and environmental signals affect gene expression. Rather than change DNA itself, epigenetic signals can, for example, prompt changes in the number of methyl chemical groups attached to a gene, turning it on or off. A person’s diet is an important source of epigenetic signals, and scientists are now investigating how eating habits modify gene expression in adults and their offspring. Understanding that relationship could help researchers identify nutritional elements that might help prevent or treat diseases such as obesity, diabetes, coronary artery disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.

At the Nestlé Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, more than 550 scientists, research assistants and technicians drive science and technology for all of Nestlé’s businesses worldwide. This includes exploring the relationship between diet and human health. Epigenetics is becoming progressively more important to this work, says Irma Silva-Zolezzi, the Maternal Nutrition Platform Leader at the Nestlé Research Center. “It’s critical to understand the role of nutrition in transgenerational health, particularly between mother and child,” she says. Epigenetics impacts cell differentiation and shapes how cells function in the long term, making it vital to understanding how nutrition during pregnancy may impact multiple generations.

Epidemiological studies show how certain exposures have shaped the health of specific populations over time, particularly between mother and child. One famous example is the Dutch Hunger Winter. In 1944, a famine struck the western Netherlands, forcing inhabitants—including pregnant mothers—to live on between 400 and 800 calories a day. When scientists later studied the babies conceived, carried, or delivered during this period, they found elevated rates of obesity, altered lipid profiles and cardiovascular disease in adulthood. Epigenetic impacts are not limited to obesity and diabetes. A 2014 study in Science conducted by the University of Cambridge revealed that undernourished pregnant mice bore offspring with glucose intolerance and pancreatic issues.

The epigenome is uniquely complex. Along with diet, exercise, environment, and mood may effect gene expression. In a 2014 study published in Epigenetics, scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden asked 23 men and women to bicycle using only one leg for 45 minutes, four times a week over three months. In comparing muscle biopsies before and after the experiment, scientists found that, in the exercised muscle, new patterns had developed on genes associated with insulin response, inflammation and energy metabolism.

Even emotional traumas can be transmitted to subsequent generations through epigenetic inheritance. A 2016 study conducted by New York’s Mount Sinai hospital and published in Biological Psychiatry suggests that the genes of the children of Holocaust survivors showed evidence of an increased likelihood of stress disorders, for example.

Therefore, it can be concluded that nutrition, exercise and other environmental factors are just part of the puzzle that affects an individual’s risk to develop particular conditions or disease. But the more we look, the more answers we’ll find, and the better we can work to improve health.

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According to lead study author Rachel Murphy, an assistant professor of population and public health at the University of British Columbia, people who follow cancer prevention guidelines, which focus on sticking to a healthy lifestyle, do have a lower risk of cancer.The findings have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

World Health Organization estimates that 30 to 50 percent of all cancers are preventable. Another organization, the World Cancer Research Fund, says that 20 percent of cancers could be prevented if people specifically followed certain lifestyle behaviors. For example, the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that people maintain a healthy weight, be physically active, eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, and limit their alcohol intake.In the new study, the researchers looked at how well a group of older adults followed the ACS' healthy lifestyle guidelines. A large part of the recent increase in cancer cases is due to the aging population, Murphy told Live Science, but older people often are not included in studies focused on cancer prevention.

The new study included more than 2,100 black and white adults in the U.S. who enrolled in the long-running Health, Aging and Body Composition Study when they were in their 70s. At the beginning of the study, the participants were asked to recall how much they had weighed at ages 25 and 50, so that the researchers could estimate whether the participants had maintained their weight throughout their lives. Diet, physical activity levels and alcohol intake were measured by questionnaires, according to the study.

Using the participants' data on weight, diet, physical activity levels and alcohol intake, the researchers gave each participant a score based on how well they followed the guidelines, from 0 (lowest adherence) to 9 (highest adherence).
Murphy noted that very few people in the study followed all of the cancer prevention guidelines; for example, just 6 percent of the people in the study followed the diet guidelines strictly.

Still, women who had the highest scores (between 7 and 9 points) had about half the cancer risk as women with the lowest scores (between 0 and 3 points), Murphy said. The most common cancers that women in the study developed were breast cancer and colon cancer, she said; these two cancers have strong links to lifestyle behaviors.

In men, however, the researchers observed no reduction in cancer risk linked to close adherence to the guidelines. However, this may have been because the two most common cancers that the men in the study developed were prostate cancer and lung cancer, Murphy said. The prevention guidelines that researchers focused on aren't related to these cancers, she said.

More research is needed in larger groups of people to better study the links between lifestyle and cancer risk in men, she noted. "Certainly, other studies have shown that" healthy behaviors can reduce cancer risk in men, Murphy said

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Foods contain major and minor components as well as bioactive compounds (e.g. antioxidants, peptides, carbohydrates, lipids, glucosinolates) that are of primary importance for human nutrition. Consequently, their importance has initiated a surge of research and product development in the food industry. In order to adapt to these consumer drivers and enhance the physiological functionality of inherent nutrients, the food industry is developing the so-called “functional foods”.

The latest term was born in Japan. Europe and the American countries incorporated later this concept. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) classified in 2004 all food as functional at some physiological level, pointing out that “the term functional food should not be used to imply that there are good and bad foods“. In addition, it denotes that “all food can be incorporated into a healthful eating plan ─ the key being moderation and variety“. Whole foods like fruits and vegetables represent the simplest example of functional foods since they are rich in bioactive compounds that protect body’s cells against oxidative damage and reduce the risk of developing certain cancers.

It is important to state that functional food must be a food (not a drug), while beneficial effects should be obtained by consuming it in normal amounts within the regular diet. In general, USA prefers the term “nutraceutical”. The latter term refers to any substance, food or part of a food that provides medical or health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of diseases.

The average consumer prefers natural products instead of the chemical ones since people want to take food with the desired health benefits rather than take medicine separately. The increasing demand on functional foods can be explained by the increasing cost of healthcare, the steady increase in life expectancy and the desire of older people for improved quality of their later years. In many cases, it is believed that certain unprocessed or minimally processed foods might have superior health benefits compared to their processed counterparts. Epidemiological studies have shown that health benefits (e.g. reduced risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, diabetes, obesity and cancer) may be attributed to the consumption of both macro- and micro-nutrients. For instance, macromolecules like soluble dietary fibre is known for its ability to lower blood lipid level and at the same time showing advanced gelling properties. Therefore, it can be used to replace fat in foods, stabilize emulsions and improve products’ shelf-life.

Over the last years, new products based on fruit or vegetable and milk have been appeared in the Europe and North American markets. These products have wider consumer acceptance and higher nutritional value, largely due to their higher bioactive compound content and their antioxidant capacity. However, the design and development of functional foods should not only be carried out based on the desired nutritional function. The appearance and sensory properties of foods are very important attributes to the consumer, thus the colour, texture, taste and mouth feel should be taken into account as well. From a manufacturing point of view, the most popular functional food product format is beverages since they are relatively easy to formulate. In the case of soft solid foods, the structure derived quality aspects (e.g. stability, texture and taste) are of high importance for consumer acceptance of foods as well as for the bioavailability of micronutrients. Food manufacturers face a series of technical challenges during fortification of foods with bioactive compounds. For instance, processes should be selected carefully to maintain both functionality of bioactive compounds as well as the quality and sensory attributes of the food.

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The United Nations forecasts global population to rise to more than 9 billion people by 2050. Climate change may mean that the crops we depend on now may no longer be suited to the areas where they are currently cultivated and may increasingly be threatened by droughts, floods and the spread of plant diseases due to altered weather patterns. So feeding everyone in the coming decades will be a challenge – can genetically modified crops help us achieve this?

Two groups of genetically modified crops are widely grown. The first are altered so that they are not affected by the herbicide glyphosate, which means that farmers can eliminate weeds without harming their crop. Glyphosate-resistant crops can increase farming efficiency but, while helping to get rid of weeds, herbicide resistance has no direct effect on the quantity of food produced, so their contribution to food security is likely to be limited.

The second type produce a natural insecticide inside the parts of the plant that pests eat. This protects the yields of these crops against insect infestation, which is arguably more environmentally friendly than using sprays that could be toxic to other organisms. Crops of this type are likely to be useful, but we should increase the number of insecticide genes that we employ to prevent evolution of resistant pests.

Farmers have always faced crop diseases – like the Irish potato famine of the 19th century as well as the devastating appearance of a fungal infection called wheat blast in Bangladesh, a disease that can cause nearly complete loss of this critical crop in infected fields.Genetic modification can certainly be used in the fight to make crops more disease resistant. The proteins that identify an infection and activate a plant’s defences can be moved between varieties or even species using genetic modification. This will enable previously vulnerable crops to turn on resistance mechanisms.It is also becoming possible to rewrite the genes for these gatekeeper proteins so that they work for different diseases. A powerful and rapid method for editing genes called CRISPR-Cas9 has recently been developed and it is already being harnessed to produce genetically modified crops. For example, genes that make wheat vulnerable to powdery mildew have been changed to produce a resistant variety.

Crops are not just being genetically modified to improve their quantity but also their nutritional quality. The most prominent of these is “golden rice”. Vitamin A deficiency causes 250,000 deaths per year and is common in populations whose diet is heavily dependent on rice. Golden rice is golden because it produces large quantities of yellow dietary carotenoids that our bodies can convert into vitamin A.Other “biofortified” crops in development include potatoes with more protein and cooking bananas with increased carotenoids and iron.

Many people – and countries – are still sceptical about GM food. But people and animals have now been consuming GM crops for more than 20 years without apparent harm to their health. On the other hand, there is no question that starvation kills and that food insecurity is a major global threat. There are challenging times ahead. Can we afford to close the door on these powerful ways to protect our food supply?

Source: Thompson, S. (2017). How GM Crops Can Help Us to Feed a Fast-Growing World | SciTech Connect. [online] Scitechconnect.elsevier.com. Available at: http://scitechconnect.elsevier.com/how-gm-crops-feed-fast-growing-world/?utm_source=socialmedia&utm_campaign=How%20GM%20Crops%20Can%20Help%20Us%20to%20Feed%20a%20Fast-Growing%20World&utm_medium=foodsci&sf59253803=1 [Accessed 24 Apr. 2017].

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Osteomalacia is a distinctive disorder of adults with bone pain and muscle weakness. It is characterized histologically by broad seams of uncalcified bone matrix in sections of trabecular bone. It is distinct from osteoporosis which is generally asymptomatic before a fracture occurs. Histologically osteoporosis has no characteristic findings other than diminished bone quantity.

Osteomalacia, like rickets in children, has long been recognized as a consequence of vitamin D deficiency. That they were essentially the same disorder was first appreciated in the early 1900s, particularly as a result of studies of newborn infants with rickets whose mothers were then found to have severe unrecognized osteomalacia.

While the bone disorders, rickets and osteomalacia, are the most widely known consequences of vitamin D deficiency, research in recent years has suggested that the impact may be on many other organs. Low levels of 25- hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD), the principal metabolite of vitamin D in blood, have been associated with increased risk of type I diabetes mellitus, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer. While these associations may reflect genuine causation, many of these studies fail to eliminate other possibilities. These include ‘reverse causation’ (the disease may cause low 25OHD levels by reducing sunlight exposure) and confounding (reduced physical activity may have similar results).We need to maintain an open mind in relation to the relevance of vitamin D deficiency to problems outside the skeleton.

21
Momordica cochinchinensis, commonly known as Gac is a notable vegetable of interest. It is botanically classified in the Cucurbitaceae family and has long been used as a food and traditional medicine in the regions in which it grows (Iwamoto et al., 1985). It is a Southeast Asian fruit found throughout the region from Southern China to Northeastern Australia (Kubola et al.,2011). It is also known as Baby Jackfruit, Spiny Bitter Gourd, Sweet Gourd, or Cochinchin Gourd but locally as “Buno Kakrol” in Bangladesh. Buno Kakrol is mainly harvested by the tribal people from the forest areas of Bangladesh and used as vegetable.
The Momordica species have been used in indigenous medical systems in various countries in Asia and Africa. Based on the indigenous knowledge, wild plant foods play a vital role in the complex cultural system of tribal people for reducing various disorders. The green fruits and leaves of Momordica species play a major role in improving human health by offering nutritional and nutraceutical components. There has been no research on phytochemical content of Momordica cochinchinensis natively produced in Bangladesh. Yet Gac fruit cultivated in Thailand and Vietnam have been found to be rich in carotenoids (β-carotene and lycopene) and vitamin E (Vuong et al.,2006). Thus native Gac fruit of Bangladesh may potentially provide functional ingredients, which can be harvested to be used in nutraceuticals.
 

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Allied Health Science / brexit and its impact on scientific research
« on: April 24, 2017, 05:10:34 PM »
The United Kingdom’s scientific research community reacted with concern when Britain voted to leave the EU on June 23 of 2016. Many in the community had campaigned against “Brexit,” as the leave campaign became known, on the grounds that the UK is a major beneficiary of the EU’s support for research. One pre-ballot poll found that 93% of research scientists and engineers thought that the EU was a “major benefit” to UK research.

The science community’s fears seemed to have foundation. Within days of the referendum, researchers were reporting a backlash among their European counterparts. European researchers working in the UK also began to worry about their future, and the risk that they would have to leave when Brexit finally happens.

Financial support for research comes mostly through a series of five-year Framework Programmes. (The exact duration depends on how long the EU’s 28 member governments take to agree on what they want to do.) In the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), from 2007 to 2013, the UK received around €7 billion. The EU is now awarding grants for the next Framework Programme, known as Horizon 2020, with a budget of €74.8 billion for the period 2014–2020.

The UK’s success rate in bidding for funds in FP7 was 22.8% against an EU average of 20.5%. According to The Royal Society, 71% of the funds awarded to the UK during FP7 went to universities. A survey by the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) and the Engineering Professors’ Council (EPC) found that EU government sources made up 10% of income in higher education institutions in 2013 to 2014.

The UK also ranked second, after Germany, among the 28 member states in the number of participants and cash received. According to The Royal Society, “EU research funding through Framework Programme 7 represented 3% of UK expenditure on research and development between 2007 and 2013.” When the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee carried out its inquiry “EU membership and UK science,” it said, “We heard from universities that this funding is equivalent to having another Research Council.”

The other major issue in Brexit is the movement of students and researchers throughout Europe. The “free movement” of citizens is a cornerstone of the EU’s foundations. The threat of “cheap labor” from Eastern Europe, including such countries as Romania, Hungary, and Poland, fueled much of the anti-EU sentiment that led to the Brexit vote. The grassroots lobby group, Scientists for EU, claims that “in the ‘science and maths’ higher education workforce in the UK, 21% are immigrants from the EU.”

 There are already signs of Brexit affecting the behavior of researchers. Although it is too early to say if there are any obvious effects yet, it might be inevitable that European partners are much less likely to contact the UK to be a partner in grant proposals which are being written now.

Source: "Brexit Leaves UK Scientific Research Community In Uncertainty". Cambridge Core. N.p., 2017. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

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