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Thursday, 16 July 2015

The 8 Minute Surgery That Will Give You Superhuman Vision. Foreve

A new bionic eye lens currently in development would give humans 3x 20/20 vision, at any age.
The lens, named the Ocumetics Bionic Lens, was developed by Dr. Garth Webb, an optometrist in British Columbia who was looking for a way to optimize eyesight regardless of a person’s health or age.
With this remarkable lens, patients would have perfect vision, ending the need for driving glasses, progressive lenses, and contacts, all of which are set to become a dim memory as the eye-care industry is transformed,CBC reports.
Even better is the fact that people who get the lens surgically inserted will never get cataracts, because the lens replaces that of their natural eye, which inevitably decays over time.
Webb says that anyone over the age of 25 is the best candidate, because that is when the eye is fully developed.
This is vision enhancement that the world has never seen before,” he says, “If you can just barely see the clock at 10 feet, when you get the Bionic Lens you can see the clock at 30 feet away.
The lens, which would be custom-made, is folded like a taco in a saline-filled syringe and placed in the eye, where it unravels itself within 10 seconds.

Quick & Painless Surgery

Dr. Garth Webb says the bionic lens would allow people to see to infinity and replace the need for eyeglasses and contact lenses. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Webb says that the surgery can be done within 8 minutes and immediately corrects a patient’s vision.
The project has been in the works for the last eight years, Webb told CBC, costing about $3 million in research and development fees, along with the acquisition of international patents and the securing of a biomedical manufacturing facility in Delta, B.C.
His mission is fueled by the “obsession” he’s had to free himself and others from corrective lenses since he was in Grade 2, when he was saddled with glasses.
My heroes were cowboys, and cowboys just did not wear glasses,” Webb says.
Webb’s efforts were recently recognized after he presented the lens to 14 top ophthalmologists in San Diego during a gathering of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.
Surgeons from all around the world were intrigued by his “clever” design, Webb says.
I think this device is going to bring us closer to the holy grail of excellent vision at all ranges — distant, intermediate and near,” said Dr. Vincent DeLuise, an ophthalmologist who teaches at both Yale University and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.

Trials & Tribulations

Pending clinical trials on animals and then blind human eyes, the Bionic Lens could be available in Canada and elsewhere in about two years, depending on regulatory processes in various countries, Webb says.
Webb is hopeful that his lens will do away with the need for laser eye surgery, a procedure that still isn’t as efficient as it could be.
Perfect eyesight should be a human right,” he says.
What are your thoughts on the bionic lens? Share with us in the comment section below!

10 Warning Signs Of Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is the most common Human papillomavirus (HPV) related disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost all cases of cervical cancer can be attributed to HPV. HPV is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract.
Two cervical cancer cells divide in this image from a scanning electron microscope.Women and men who are sexually active will, according to most experts, become infected at some point in their lives, and the infection could occur more than once.
The most common time for both genders to become infected is shortly after they become sexually active, and all that’s needed for an HPV infection to develop is skin to skin genital contact, not full penetrative sex. This is why the HPV vaccine is commonly recommended/pushed, particularly for young girls. It’s known as the Gardasil vaccine   and many people consider it unnecessary because, as Dr. Diane Harper (one of a select few HPV experts in the world, who helped design and carry out the Phase II and Phase III safety and effectiveness studies to get Gardasil approved, and authored many of the published papers about it) explains in the video below, odds are that the infection is going to clear on its own.
Dr. Harper believes that vaccination will not decrease the number of cervical cancer cases, but a routine of regular pap smears will. She has also stated that there is absolutely zero proof that these vaccines work, or that they are safe and effective, yet major health authorities stress clinical trial results show both vaccines to be safe and very effective in preventing infection with HPV.

10 Warning Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

1. Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding

Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods, after intercourse, or after menopause. Although this could be due to other medical conditions, it is a telltale sign of possible cervical cancer. If you are experiencing abnormal bleeding between periods or after sexual intercourse then you definitely want to contact your doctor.

2. Unusual Vaginal Discharge

If you are experiencing abnormal vaginal discharge, it could be a result of  bacterial vaginosis, menopause symptoms, or yeast infection. It could also be harmless, but significant changes in discharge are still worth getting checked out.
If the smell is very foul, becomes a more common occurrence, or is brownish, heavy, pale, or blood-tinged, it could be a sign of cervical cancer. It could also be a sign of various other conditions. Again, if this is happening contact your doctor right away.

3. Discomfort While Urinating

Pain during urination can be a sign of cervical cancer, this is a symptom that usually occurs when the cancer has already spread to the bladder.  In most cases, however, this type of pain is a sign of something far less serious, like a urinary tract infection.

4. Pain During Sex

Discomfort during sexual intercourse could also be another sign. Again, just to reiterate, many of these symptoms signify a far less worrisome issue, but you never know, especially if you are experiencing multiple symptoms at once. Pain during sex can be a late onset symptom of cervical cancer, and could indicate that the cancer has spread throughout the reproductive organs and tissues.

5. Heavier & Longer Menstrual Periods

Abnormal and heavier menstrual periods are another sign of cervical cancer. Irritation of the cervix, possibly due to cervical cancer, can also occur.

6. Loss of Bladder Control

Bladder control is a big issue when it comes to cervical cancer, and it’s one area of the body where cervical cancer commonly spreads. People with cervical cancer often experience loss of bladder control as well as a hint of blood discharge during urination.

7. Body Pain

A common symptom of cervical cancer is body pains, more specifically, pain in the leg, back, and/or pelvis. Women with cervical cancer often experience swelling of the legs, because the cancer spreads and obstructs blood flow. It can get to the point where basic simple movements are difficult to do. It’s common for women who are experiencing these symptoms as a result of cervical cancer to have prolonged pain which increases as time goes on.

8. Constant Fatigue

Constant fatigue could be also be a sign, especially if it is in conjunction with some of the other symptoms mentioned in this article. When there is disease in your body, it will work hard to do its best to try and fight it off. Your body then becomes tired  as a result of these various biological processes.

9. Unexplained Weight Loss

The body produces small proteins called cytokines, which break down fat at a much higher rate than normal. This leads to weight loss, irrespective of your diet, when you are fighting disease. As with many other cancers, the same applies here.

Some like it sweet, others not so much: It's partly in the genes

A new study from the Monell Center and collaborating institutions suggests that a single set of genes affects a person's perception of sweet taste, regardless of whether the sweetener is a natural sugar or a non-caloric sugar substitute.
"Eating too much sugar is often seen as a personal weakness. However, our work suggests that part of what determines our perception of sweetness is inborn in our genetic makeup," said study author Danielle Reed, PhD, a behavioral geneticist at Monell. "Just as people born with a poor sense of hearing may need to turn up the volume to hear the radio, people born with weak sweet taste may need an extra teaspoon of sugar in their coffee to get the same sweet punch."
In the study, published in Twin Research and Human Genetics, researchers tested 243 pairs of monozygotic (MZ, or identical) twins, 452 pairs of dizygotic (DZ, or fraternal) twins, and 511 unpaired individuals. Each person tasted and then rated the intensity of four sweet solutions: fructose, glucose, aspartame, and neohesperidine dihydrochalcone (NHDC). The first two are natural sugars, while the latter two are synthetic, non-caloric sweeteners.
MZ twins have nearly identical genes while DZ twins share only about half of their genes. Studying twin pairs allowed the researchers to determine how much influence the twins' shared genetics contributed to their perception of sweet taste intensity.
The resulting data indicate that genetic factors account for approximately 30 percent of person-to-person variance in sweet taste perception.
The study also revealed that those who perceived the natural sugars as weakly sweet experienced the sugar substitutes as similarly weak. This suggests that there may be a shared pathway in the perception of natural sugar and high-potency sweetener intensity.
Scientists are still working to unravel the molecular processes behind how we detect the many different types of sweet molecules. Earlier studies with mice showed that there is one main detection pathway for non-caloric sweeteners and natural sugars, but also a second pathway that responds only to sugars. The current findings suggest that these two pathways might converge into a single experience of sweetness intensity.
The current study also found little evidence for a shared environmental influence on sweet perception. Assuming twin pairs took part in communal meals during childhood, this result challenges the common belief that access to foods high in sugar may make children insensitive to sweetness.
"Our findings indicate that shared experiences, such as family meals, had no detectable ability to make twins more similar in taste measures," Reed said. "The next big question is if, and how, genes and early experiences interact to affect food choice."
Understanding the genetic differences that affect an individual's perception of sweetness may eventually help food manufacturers reduce the amount of sugars and sweeteners they add to food.
"Even though almost everyone - consumers, physicians, and public health officials - wants to decrease the amount of sugar in our diets, right now we have no tool that has the sensory equivalence of sugar," said Reed. "However, if we can understand why some people have weaker sweetness perception, we might be able to adjust this attribute so we could reduce the amount of sugar in foods."
"The genetics of bitterness have been widely studied in past decades, but there's much less genetic information on sweetness," said lead author Daniel Hwang, a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland, who also is affiliated with the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. "Our next steps are to identify key genomic regions shared by people who are weak sweet tasters, in the hopes of understanding their weaker perception."

Health Benefits of Cempedak

What is Cempedak?

Cempedak, scientifically known as Artocarpus integer, belongs to the same genus as of Jackfruit and Breadfruit. Native to Southeast Asia, Cempedak is widely grown in Indonesia, Thailand and Malay Peninsuala. In India, it grows in the southern states of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Cempedak grows in tropical regions where water is available in abundance. Coastal regions provide apt environment for their cultivation.Cempedak trees are evergreen with height upto several meters. The fruit is somewhat smaller in size than Jackfruit and contains soft juicy and sweet flesh covering large seeds. Ripe cempedak is yellow in color and is sweeter than jackfruit. Its flavor is musky, aromatic and savory that resembles durian and mango. It has many medicinal benefits owing to its high nutritional profile. It has good amount of ascorbic acid, enzymes, bioflavonoid, minerals and vitamins.

Nutritional Facts of Cempedak

Per 100 gm
Energy117.0 Kcal
Water66.7 g
Protein2.5 g
Fat0.4 g
Carbohydrates25.8 g
Fiber3.4 g
Calcium40.0 mg
Phosphorus5.0 mg
Iron (Fe)1.1 mg
Vitamin C17.7 mg
Carotene80 ug
Vitamin B10.16 mg
Vitamin B20.15 mg
Niacin0.5 mg

Health Benefits of Cempedak

  • Heart health: Antioxidants, dietary fiber and vitamin C present in cempedak helps in maintaining heart health. High potassium content helps in lowering blood pressure. It decreases cholesterol levels and reduces hypertension that makes the cardiac system healthier.
  • Urinary tract infection: Attributing to its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties cempedak helps in fighting urinary tract infections.
  • Eye health: Cempedak is rich in vitamin A that helps in maintaining good eye health and keeps the cornea healthy.
  • Controls obesity: High dietary fiber content helps in controlling obesity and maintains overall health. Low calorie and fat content helps in weight loss also.
  • Digestive health: High fiber, mineral and vitamin content maintain the digestive health. Also researches have proved Artocarpus xanthone to be gastro protective, helping in cure of digestive tract ulcers.
  • Prevent tumors and cancers: Artioindonesianidin, a compound present in its bark and fruit, may have potential to prevent tumor growth. Research is ongoing to explore its other therapeutic benefits.
  • Malaria treatment: Several compounds like Artioindonesianidin and heteriflavon C present in the bark and fruit of cempedak help in prevention and treatment of malaria. It can eliminate the malarial parasites to complete extent.
  • Other benefits: It has been found that cempedak seeds can be ground into flour and used as an alternative to bread flour. It has more dietary fiber content, more nutrients and lower glycemic index as compared to other bread flours. Also the decoction of cempedak roots is used to cure fever, skin diseases, asthma and diarrhea. The antioxidant nature slows the degeneration of cells and thus keeps skin healthy. Cempedak has been found to show anti-arthritic properties too. It also helps in lowering anxiety and hypertension



    Wednesday, 15 July 2015

    Extracts of Ancient Flower As Natural Treatment For Diabetes Discovered In Israel

    Israeli researchers have discovered an amazing plant, Chiliadenus iphionoides, or sharp varthemia, native to their region that apparently helps treat type-2 diabetes naturally without the need for drugs or injections.
    Chiliadenus iphionoides (sharp varthemia), a Middle Eastern shrub found to be effective in treating diabetes. (CC BY-SA Eitan F., Wikimedia Commons)

    The team is working with drug companies to isolate the plant's active ingredient so it can be synthesized and turned into a patented, corporate-owned pharmaceutical drug rather than promote the actual plant as a therapeutic option for patients. 

    The plant has a stocky, furry-looking stem that produces spiny yellow flowers. In both cellular and animal models, extracts from this aromatic shrub have been shown to exhibit anti-diabetic activity, helping to improve sugar absorption into muscle and fat cells, as well as reduce blood sugar levels. 

    "Chiliadenus iphionoides extract increased insulin secretion in s cells as well as glucose uptake in adipocytes and skeletal myotubes. The extract also displayed hypoglycemic activity in the diabetics and rat. Chiliadenus iphionoides exhibits considerable anti-diabetic activity, although the mechanism of action remains to be determined." 

    Scientists will have to figure out a way to steal the plant's active ingredient, which in and of itself is a misnomer, since plants contain a host of bioactive components that work synergistically to promote healing Source:Times of Israel

    Eat Fiber from Many Sources, Plant Based and Fortified, to Maintain Good Health

    Daily fiber intake helps control cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose, insulin and excess body weight. It also helps regulate multiple facets of the digestive system. The recommended amount of dietary fiber per day is 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women. Two fruits and three vegetables servings everyday can help adults get the recommended amount of dietary fiber. A new research suggests that people who get dietary fiber from many sources benefit more than those who limit their intake to a single food or low-fiber diets.

    Julie Miller Jones, professor emeritus at Minnesota-based St Catherine University said, "Men typically get around 18 grams and women get around 15 grams. The problem is that when consumers choose fruits or vegetables, it is often low-fiber options such as one piece of lettuce and a thin slice of tomato on a sandwich." 

    Instead of focusing at only plant-based sources, people should strive for a mix of fiber sources, including fiber that has been added to food in the manufacturing process. Such foods include fiber-fortified bread, cereals, yogurt and pasta. The authors noted, "A combination of naturally occurring and added fiber can increase the chances of achieving the health benefits of a high-fiber diet."

    The study was presented at 'IFT15: Where Science Feeds Innovation' event in Chicago.

    Source: IANS


    Looking For A Good Sleep? Don’t Do These Things Before Bed

    Sick woman laying in bed under blanketYou’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again. Sleep is so important for your health! Many aspects of the body are rejuvenated during this time. Your cells are repaired, your digestive system is given a break (if you don’t eat right before bed), your heart rate and blood pressure drop, growth hormones are released, your immune system is strengthened, and much more.
    With all this being said you should ask yourself if you are getting adequate sleep or not. If you are not, then you should try cutting out the following things before going to bed.

    Never Do These Things Before Going To Bed

    1. Sleep with a light on. Even the tiniest light from a nightlight, alarm clock, or cell phone can disrupt your sleep, specifically your internal clock and your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin. It is important to sleep in complete darkness or as close enough to it as possible. Be sure to close your bedroom door, consider getting blackout curtains, and keep the lights off at nighttime, even if you are getting up to go to the washroom. If some of these blackout methods are not an option for you, consider getting an eye mask for sleeping. Keeping all the light out can even decrease your chance of getting cancer. 
    2. Keep the temperature of your bedroom higher than 20 C (or 70 F). Many people keep their bedrooms too warm, and studies have shown that the ideal temperature for sleep is between 15 C and 20 C. If your room is cooler or hotter than this it could easily lead to restless sleep. Around 4 hours after you fall asleep, your body’s internal temperature drops to its lowest temperature. A cooler environment is believed to be more conducive to sleep because it mimics this natural drop of body temperature.
    3. Use a loud alarm clock to wake you up in the morning. Everyone knows how obnoxious these things can be. They can also be stressful to your body upon waking; being jolted awake suddenly is not a good way to wake up. Consider getting a wake up light, which mimics the natural rising of the sun with soft, increasing sounds of nature. You can also download an app for your phone, just remember to turn off the flashing lights while you are sleeping, and keep it at least 3 feet from your bed, which brings us to our next point…
    4. Keep electronic devices near your bed. This includes: alarm clocks, televisions, phones, e-readers etc. These devices have been shown to disrupt sleep patterns and can also produce electromagnetic fields which can disrupt the pineal gland and melatonin and serotonin production. You should also consider drastically cutting down your use of electronics for a few hours before you climb into bed.
    5. Change your bedtime. It sounds difficult to avoid, but once you get into a healthy sleep routine, you will eventually feel really good and you may find you no longer need an alarm clock at all, which will solve some of the above issues! If you can make an effort to go to sleep and wake up at the same time (even on weekends), you will see some amazing benefits and likely be able to fall asleep easier at night and get out of bed easier in the morning.

    Before Getting Into Bed

    Consider reading a book, giving yourself (or getting a partner to give you) a massage, taking a hot bath, or diffusing some lavender oil essential oil before going to bed!
    Sleep tight.  

    Human activities are jeopardizing Earth's natural systems and health of future generations

    A new report released today by The Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on Planetary Health, calls for immediate, global action to protect the health of human civilization and the natural systems on which it depends. The report, Safeguarding Human Health in the Anthropocene Epoch, provides the first ever comprehensive examination of evidence showing how the health and well-being of future generations is being jeopardised by the unprecedented degradation of the planet's natural resources and ecological systems.
    "This Commission aims to put the health of human civilizations, and their special relationship with the larger biosphere, at the centre of concerns for future planetary sustainability. Our civilization may seem strong and resilient, but history tells us that our societies are fragile and vulnerable. We hope to show how we can protect and strengthen all that we hold dear about our world," says Dr Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet and one of the report authors.
    The report was written by a Commission of 15 leading academics and policymakers from institutions in 8 countries, and was chaired by Professor Sir Andy Haines of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK. It demonstrates how human activity and development have pushed to near breaking point the boundaries of the natural systems that support and sustain human civilizations.
    "The Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Planetary Health Commission has issued a dire warning: Human action is undermining the resilience of the earth's natural systems, and in so doing we are compromising our own resilience, along with our health and, frankly, our future," said Dr Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. "We are in a symbiotic relationship with our planet, and we must start to value that in very real ways. Just as Foundation leaders 100 years ago took a holistic view and launched the field of public health, the Commission's report marks a paradigm shift for a new era of global public health, one that must be integrated with broader policy decisions."
    The Commission warns that a rising population, unsustainable consumption and the over-use of natural resources will exacerbate these health challenges in the future. The world's poorest communities will be among those at greatest risk, as they live in areas that are most strongly affected and have greater sensitivity to disease and poor health.
    "We are on the verge of triggering irreversible, global effects, ranging from ocean acidification to biodiversity loss," says Professor Haines. "These environmental changes - which include, but extend far beyond climate change - threaten the gains in health that have been achieved over recent decades and increase the risks to health arising from major challenges as diverse as under-nutrition and food insecurity, freshwater shortages, emerging infectious diseases, and extreme weather events."
    Concerns that global environmental change represents a growing threat to human health are underlined by two new research articles being published in conjunction with the report. One article, published in The Lancet, quantifies for the first time the human health implications of declines in animal pollinators (such as bees and other insects). The study, led by one of the report Commissioners, Dr Samuel Myers, from Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, USA, shows that global declines in animal pollinators could lead to up to 1.4 million excess deaths annually (an increase in global mortality of 2.7%) from a combination of increased vitamin A and folate deficiency and increased incidence of non-communicable diseases like heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers. The research shows that these health effects would be experienced in both developed and developing countries.
    The second study, also led by Dr Myers, and published in The Lancet Global Health, quantifies for the first time a major global health threat associated with anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The study shows that reductions in the zinc content of important food crops as a response to rising concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere will place between 132-180 million people at new risk for zinc deficiency globally by around 2050. In addition, these nutrient reductions will exacerbate existing zinc deficiency for billions around the world. Zinc deficiency leads to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths from infectious disease because of reduced immune function.
    Solutions to these clear and potent dangers are within reach, say the Commission authors, but the world needs to take decisive, coordinated action to protect the environment and secure the health of future generations.
    The Commission outlines a range of beneficial policies and actions that can be taken by governments, international organisations, researchers, health professionals and citizens that are good for both health and the environment. Examples include benefits from reduced air pollution, healthy diets with more fruit and vegetables, active transport (walking and cycling), reduced urban heat stress from green spaces, and increased resilience to coastal flooding from intact wetlands and mangroves. In addition, the report identifies some major gaps in evidence and the research that is needed. Some of the recommendations include:
    • Integrated social, economic and environmental policies: Policies and initiatives need to be designed to promote more efficient use of current resources to allow for the replenishment of natural systems. They should also spur innovation and make sustainable practices more mainstream, such as reducing waste and developing resilient cities.
    • Better governance: Leaders need to take initiatives to reduce the risks to health and vital ecosystems, and implement policies to reduce subsidies that block sustainable practices, encourage behavioral change, incentivize the private sector, support research, and promote public discourse. To help ensure that Planetary Health is at the center of national policy, governments should give responsibility for monitoring trends and developing policies to a body that answers directly to the Head of State.
    • Improved health systems: Environmental health needs must be integrated into health budgeting and purchasing. In addition, as environmental threats will be characterised by surprise and uncertainty, health systems must be designed for resilience, planning for potential risks and adapting quickly to meet challenges and restore services.
    • A reorganisation and expansion of our knowledge on Planetary Health: There are substantial gaps in knowledge that can be closed with the expansion of trans disciplinary research, improved understanding of the links between health and environmental change and potential adaptation strategies, building integrated surveillance systems and reporting on progress nationally and internationally.
    Events announcing the release of the report will be held in New York City, USA, and in Johannesburg, South Africa on 16 July, 2015, and in Los Angeles, USA, on 17 July, 2015. Additional launches are planned in Australia, Chile, China, Kenya, Pakistan, and UK.
    Source:THE LANCET

    HIV uses the immune system's own tools to suppress it

    A Canadian research team at the IRCM in Montreal, led by molecular virologist Eric A. Cohen, PhD, made a significant discovery on how HIV escapes the body's antiviral responses. The team uncovered how an HIV viral protein known as Vpu tricks the immune system by using its own regulatory process to evade the host's first line of defence. This breakthrough was published yesterday in the scientific journal PLOS Pathogens and will be presented at the upcoming IAS 2015 conference in Vancouver. The findings pave the way for future HIV prevention or cure strategies.
    The study's goal was to determine how HIV manages to compromise antiviral responses in the initial period of infection, also called the acute infection stage, during which the virus establishes itself in the body. The acute infection is considered a critical period in determining the complexity, extent and progression of the disease. It is also during this stage that HIV establishes latent infection in long-lasting cellular reservoirs. These viral reservoirs, which harbour the virus out of sight from the immune system and antiviral drugs, represent the primary barrier to a cure.
    "An important component in this process is a group of proteins collectively called type 1 Interferons, which are the immune system's first line of defence against viral infections and are known to have a beneficial role in the early stages of HIV infection," says Dr. Cohen, Director of the Human Retrovirology research unit at the IRCM. "The problem is that HIV has developed mechanisms to suppress the Interferon response and, until now, little was known about how this was achieved."
    Most of the Interferon is produced by a very small population of immune cells called pDCs (plasmacytoid dendritic cells), responsible for providing immediate defence against infections. PDCs patrol the body to detect invaders and, when they recognize the presence of a pathogen, they secrete Interferon. The Interferon then triggers a large array of defence mechanisms in nearby cells, creating an antiviral state that prevents the dissemination and, ultimately, the expansion of the virus.
    "When pDCs encounter HIV-infected cells, the production of Interferon is regulated by a protein located on the infected cell's surface called BST2," explains Mariana Bego, PhD, first author of the study and research associate in Dr. Cohen's laboratory. "BST2 has the ability to bind to and activate a receptor called ILT7, found on the surface of pDCs, which, in turns, sends a signal that suppresses the production of Interferon and halts its defensive functions. Interestingly, BST2 is also responsible for restricting HIV production by trapping the virus at the cell surface before it can exit infected cells and disseminate. However, HIV uses the viral protein Vpu to counteract BST2 antiviral activity."
    "With this study, we uncovered a unique mechanism whereby HIV exploits the regulatory process between BST2 and ILT7 to limit the body's antiviral response, which allows the virus to spread and leads to persistent infection," adds Dr. Bego. "We found that HIV, through Vpu, takes advantage of the role played by BST2 by maintaining its ability to activate ILT7 and limit the production of Interferon, all the while counteracting its direct antiviral activity on HIV production."
    "The hope for a definitive cure and an effective vaccine has been frustrated by HIV's endless propensity to subvert the host's defences and persist in small populations of long-lasting reservoirs despite antiretroviral therapy," describes Dr. Cohen, who also leads CanCURE, a team of leading Canadian researchers working towards an HIV cure. "Our findings can provide tools to enhance antiviral responses during the early stages of infection. By blocking Vpu's action, we could prevent early viral expansion and dissemination, while also allowing pDCs to trigger effective antiviral responses. We believe that such interventions during primary infection have the potential to limit the establishment and complexity of viral reservoirs, a condition that seems required to achieve a sustained HIV remission."
    "The discovery by Drs. Bego and Cohen, which explains how the virus can't be held down or wiped out during early periods of infection, will bring us closer to ending HIV/AIDS," says Robert Reinhard, CanCURE Community Liaison. "By filling an important gap in knowledge, this new study will advance research for an HIV cure."
    Source:PLOS Pathogens

    Human-wrought environmental changes impacting crops, pollinators could harm millions

    Changing environmental conditions around the globe caused by human activity could negatively impact the health of millions of people by altering the amount and quality of key crops, according to two new studies from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. One study found that decreasing numbers of food pollinators such as bees--falling in part due to pesticide use and destruction of habitats--could lead to declines in nutrient-rich crops that have been linked with staving off disease. A second study found that increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) could lead to lower levels of zinc in food and thus to greatly expanded zinc deficiency.
    The study about pollinators will appear in The Lancet; the study about zinc will appear inLancet Global Health. Both studies will be published July 16, 2015 in conjunction with the Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on Planetary Health report, Safeguarding Human Health in the Anthropocene Epoch, which broadly assesses the scale of the threats to health, development, and civilization posed by the multiplicity of environmental changes brought on by human activity.
    "This is the first time that the global health community has come out in a concerted way to report that we are in real danger of undermining the core ecological systems that support human health," said Samuel Myers, senior research scientist in the Harvard Chan School's Department of Environmental Health, who is senior author of the pollinator study and lead author of the zinc study. Myers, a Commissioner and co-author of the report, will speak at a panel on environmental change, its drivers, and health impacts at a Planetary Health Commission launch event on July 16 at the Rockefeller Foundation in New York City.
    "All of human civilization has taken place during a very stable set of biophysical conditions, but we are now changing those conditions at a rate that's never been seen before," Myers explained. "Whether we're talking about land use, deforestation, degradation of global fisheries, disruption of the climate system, biodiversity loss, appropriation of fresh water, changes to aquatic systems--all of the changes are profound and they're accelerating, and they represent a significant challenge to global health."
    Pollinators and nutrient-rich crops
    In the study of pollinators, Myers and his colleagues looked at people's dietary intake data for 224 types of food in 156 countries around the globe to quantify total per capita intake of vitamin A, folate, fruits, vegetables, and nuts and seeds under various pollinator decline scenarios. They then estimated the potential health impacts of declines in pollinators--mostly bees and other insects.
    Pollinators play a key role in roughly 35% of global food production and are directly responsible for up to 40% of the world's supply of micronutrients such as vitamin A and folate, which are vital for children and pregnant women. Over the past decade, there have been significant declines in animal pollinators worldwide.
    The researchers found that the complete loss of animal pollinators globally would push an additional 71 million people into vitamin A deficiency and 173 million more into folate deficiency, and would lead to about 1.42 million additional deaths per year from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and malnutrition-related diseases--a 2.7% increase in total yearly deaths. A 50% loss of pollination would result in roughly half that impact, the researchers found.
    Most of this burden of disease would result from reduced consumption of foods that protect against NCDs like heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers and, unlike the populations frequently impacted by environmental degradation, many of the most vulnerable populations reside in relatively developed countries. Researchers found that those most vulnerable would be in eastern Europe and in central, eastern, and Southeast Asia, where risks of NCDs are high and intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds is highly dependent on pollinators.
    The study also found that most of the estimated pollinator-related disease burden had to do with locally produced crops--not imported ones. "This means that most countries can benefit greatly by managing their own pollinator populations, protecting both their public health as well as crop yields," said lead author Matthew Smith, research fellow in the Department of Environmental Health.
    Increased zinc deficiency estimated
    For the study on zinc, the authors modeled how much zinc would be available to people through diet in 188 countries, under both current and elevated levels of CO2. They noted that zinc is a key nutrient for maternal and child health--without enough, there is increased risk of premature delivery, reduced growth and weight gain in young children, and decreased immune function. Roughly 17% of the global population was estimated to be at risk of zinc deficiency in 2011, according to recent studies.
    Citing previous research that found that elevated concentrations of atmospheric CO2 lowers the content of zinc and other nutrients in important food crops such as wheat, rice, barley, and soy, the authors estimated that CO2 emissions caused by human activity could place between 132 million and 180 million people at new risk of zinc deficiency by around 2050. Those most likely to be affected live in Africa and South Asia, and nearly 48 million people in India alone--populations already burdened with the world's highest levels of zinc deficiency, and reliant on crops for most of their dietary zinc.
    The authors suggested possible interventions for those at highest risk for zinc deficiency, such as zinc supplementation, fortification of staple foods with additional zinc, the application of zinc-containing fertilizers to crops, or the development of bio-fortified strains of crops such as rice and wheat.
    Other Harvard Chan School authors of the zinc study included Joel Schwartz, professor of environmental epidemiology; and Itai Kloog, former visiting scientist, and Antonella Zanobetti, senior research scientist, both in the Department of Environmental Health.
    In releasing the Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on Planetary Health report, Dr. Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet and one of the report authors, said that the Commission "aims to put the health of human civilizations, and their special relationship with the larger biosphere, at the center of concerns for future planetary sustainability. Our civilization may seem strong and resilient, but history tells us that our societies are fragile and vulnerable. We hope to show how we can protect and strengthen all that we hold dear about our world."
    Dr. Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, said that the Commission "has issued a dire warning: Human action is undermining the resilience of the earth's natural systems, and in so doing we are compromising our own resilience, along with our health and, frankly, our future. We are in a symbiotic relationship with our planet, and we must start to value that in very real ways. Just as Foundation leaders 100 years ago took a holistic view and launched the field of public health, the Commission's report marks a paradigm shift for a new era of global public health, one that must be integrated with broader policy decisions."

    Traditional Chinese exercises may help patients with COPD

    Liuzijue qigong (LQG) is a set of meditative movement and breathing patterns practiced by more than 100 million people in China. In a new Journal of the American Geriatrics Societystudy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients in remission who were randomized to LQG demonstrated marked improvements in their lung function, general health, mental health, and quality of life after 6 months compared with patients randomized to a control group.
    The LQG program consisted of four 45-minute sessions each week and daily walking for 30 minutes. Control participants walked daily for 30 minutes.

    How Sugar Destroys Your Health & Literally Makes You Stupid

    Sugar, primarily in the form of high fructose corn syrup(HFCS), is the largest source of calories in the United States today. While its mass appeal is vastly rooted in cultures worldwide, its health impacts are substantially detrimental and are often overlooked by the majority.
    In his book, The Sugar Fix, Dr. Richard Johnson suggests about 50 percent of Americans consume as much as half a pound, more than 225 grams, per day. This statistic is the farthest thing from sweet.
    While its no secret that sugar is a major player in the obesity, heart disease, and type II diabetes epidemic, most would be shocked to discover that sugar literally makes you dumber as well.

    From our gut to our brain

    In his article, Eating Sugar Makes You Stupid, Dr. Mercola discusses a number of studies pointing to the degenerative effects of sugar on the brain.
    One of these studies, published in the journal Neuroscience, looked at how a high-sugar diet lead to changes in gut bacteria in mice that were in turn related to a significant loss of cognitive flexibility, which is a measure of your brain’s ability to adapt to changing situations.
    After four weeks of consuming excess amounts of sugar, the mice performed poorly on a variety of tests related to mental and physical function when compared to mice fed a normal diet,” Mercola wrote. 
    But upon further analysis, researchers discovered something more detrimental that had happened to the mice –  their microbiome showed an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, which directly correlated with their poor performance on tests of cognitive flexibility.
    Kathy Magnusson, a professor in the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine and principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute, said in an Oregon State University news release:
    It’s increasingly clear that our gut bacteria, or microbiota, can communicate with the human brain… Bacteria can release compounds that act as neurotransmitters, stimulate sensory nerves or the immune system, and affect a wide range of biological functions…
    We’re not sure just what messages are being sent, but we are tracking down the pathways and the effects.
    The findings from the study only further substantiate the growing list of evidence showing the cognitive defects of sugar consumption.

    Insulin resistance and the brain

    In 2012, a team of researchers looked at the effects of HFCS on rats’ brains, soon to discover that rats which had been fed a diet high in HFCS faced cognitive impairment and struggled to remember their way out of mazes.
    “Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats’ ability to think clearly and recall the route they’d learned six weeks earlier,” Mercola wrote. 
    Furthermore, the fructose-fed rats showed signs of resistance to insulin, a hormone that controls your blood sugar and synaptic function in your brain. Because insulin is able to pass through your blood-brain barrier, it can trigger neurological processes that are important for learning and memory.
    Consuming large amounts of fructose may block insulin’s ability to regulate how your brain cells store and use sugar for the energy needed to fuel thoughts and emotions.”

    What happened when rats were fed Omega-3 fats with sugar

    In the same study, a second group of rats was given omega-3 fats in the form of flaxseed oil and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), in addition to the high-fructose diet. After six weeks, this group of rats was able to navigate the maze better and faster than the rats in the non-DHA group.
    The researchers concluded that DHA is protective against fructose’s harmful effects on your brain.
    DHA is essential for synaptic function—it helps your brain cells transmit signals to one another, which is the mechanism that makes learning and memory possible.
    Unfortunately your body can’t produce enough DHA, so it must be supplemented through your diet in wild-caught seafood or a supplement like krill oil. Many Americans are seriously deficient in omega-3 fats, which means they may be especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of excess fructose.

    Elevated blood sugar levels can be linked to memory loss

    Mercola also stresses that even if you don’t have type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes suggestive of insulin resistance, higher blood sugar levels appear to have a negative influence on cognition regardless.
    One study found that those with higher blood sugar levels scored lower on memory tests.
    For each 7-mmol/mol increase in HbA1c (a measure of blood glucose), participants recalled two fewer words on memory tests. Those with higher blood sugar levels also had lower volume of the hippocampus, a brain region linked to memory.

    How insulin sensitivity relates to the development of dementia

    Consumption of any grain, sugar, or starch leads to a rise in blood sugar. To help regulate your blood sugar levels, your pancreas secretes insulin into the blood stream which lowers glucose levels.
    However, the downside to insulin is that it converts sugar into fat, which in turn can lead to weight gain over time.
    If elevated blood sugar levels become your norm, your body eventually requires more and more insulin to be released in order to get the job done. This is when you’ve become insulin resistant, the precursor to type II diabetes.
    As you over-indulge on sugar and grains, your brain becomes overwhelmed by the consistently high levels of insulin and eventually shuts down its insulin signaling, leading to impairments in your thinking and memory abilities, and eventually causing permanent brain damage, among with other health issues.
    In early 2005, researchers tentatively dubbed Alzheimer’s disease as “type 3 diabetes“after recognizing that in addition to your pancreas, your brain also produces insulin, and this brain insulin is necessary for the survival of brain cells.
    Studies have found that people with lower levels of insulin and insulin receptors in their brain often have Alzheimer’s disease.
    Neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, MD insists that being very strict in limiting your consumption of sugar and non-vegetable carbs is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent Alzheimer’s disease for this very reason. He cites research from the Mayo Clinic, which found that diets rich in carbohydrates are associated with an 89 percent increased risk for dementia.

    Destroying the gut destroys the brain

    Your gut, which is teeming with microbial life, also communicates with your brain, via what’s known as the “gut-brain axis.” Embedded in the wall of your gut is actually your enteric nervous system (ENS), which works both independently of and in conjunction with the brain in your head.
    This communication between your “two brains” runs both ways and is the pathway for how foods affect your mood or why anxiety can make you stick to your stomach, for instance. However, this gut-brain connection is about far more than just comfort food or butterflies in your stomach. According to Scientific American:
    The gut-brain axis seems to be bidirectional—the brain acts on gastrointestinal and immune functions that help to shape the gut’s microbial makeup, and gut microbes make neuroactive compounds, including neurotransmitters and metabolites that also act on the brain.
    Therefore, improving your gut microbiome inherently improves your brain function.

    Helpful tips

    Obviously keeping your sugar levels below 25 grams per day is ideal in decreasing your chances of dementia or other cognitive defects. For diabetics, pre-diabetics, people who are overweight, or people with high cholesterol or high blood pressure, Dr. Mercola recommends keeping sugar intake to below 15 grams per day.
    Consuming naturally fermented foods will also help correct gut microbiome which in turns help regulate your nervous system and overall health. Naturally fermented foods include sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, and kefir.
    Lastly, a daily probioitic is also a surefire way to correct gut bacteria levels more efficiently than receiving it from food.
    What are your thoughts on the gut-brain connection? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!

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