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Zika proteins linked to birth, neurological defects identified

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New York, Jan 3:  Seven Zika virus proteins, believed to cause conditions, including birth defects such as microcephaly and neurological problems such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, have been identified.

“The mechanism of Zika virus has been a real mystery,” said lead researcher Richard Zhao, Professor at University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM).

“These results give us crucial insight into how Zika affects cells. We now have some really valuable clues for future research,” Zhao added.

Zika virus infected hundreds of thousands of people around the world, mostly in the Americas. No vaccines or treatments to prevent or treat the symptoms of Zika infection has been developed yet.

To test the virus, Zhao used fission yeast — a species that in recent years has become a relatively common way to test how pathogens affect cells.

For the experiment, Zhao separated each of the virus’s 14 proteins and small peptides from the overall virus. He then exposed yeast cells to each of the 14 proteins, to see how the cells responded.

Seven of the 14 proteins harmed or damaged the yeast cells in some way, inhibiting their growth, damaging them or killing them.

The next step is to understand more about how these seven proteins work in humans. It may be that some of them are more damaging than others, or perhaps all of them work in concert to cause harm, the researchers said.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Wefornews Bureau

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Health

Kale, beetroot: Nutritious ingredients for healthy food

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Beetroot

New Delhi, April 20: With people becoming more health conscious, several restaurants have started introducing dishes with healthy ingredients like kale, beetroot and quinoa. These dishes offer wholesome goodness as it is not just good on nutrient value but also on taste, say experts.

Rajesh Sawhney, Co-founder of Healthie.in and Rajiv Kumar, CEO of Culinate, have listed some of the healthy ingredients that restaurants and cafes have started using in their dishes:

* Quinoa is a seed that belongs to the spinach/chard family, which is why it is called a pseudo-cereal or pseudo-grain. Quinoa is rich in protein and a lot of other vital nutrients such as magnesium, dietary fiber and vitamin B. It is also a good source of antioxidants called flavonoids and it’s a healthy alternative to rice.

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Quinoa Seeds

* Kale is high in fiber, low on calorie and has zero fat. It is one of the most common ingredients in the healthy dishes prepared by restaurants.

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Kale

 

Apart from being highly nutritious, kale is also high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. It can be added to pasta, green smoothies or can be simply tossed in a salad.

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Kale added to pasta

* Chia seeds are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, iron, and calcium. A 28 gram, or 1ounce, serving of chia seeds also contains 5.6 grams of protein.

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Chia Seeds

Hence, they make it on the menu of most healthy food restaurants. These seeds can be added to smoothies, oatmeal or yogurt.

* Nuts are often counted as good fats and are also rich in fiber and Omega-3. Plant sterols are a substance present in nuts that helps in lowering the cholesterol level in the body.

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Nutty Trail Mix

Nuts are a great source of L-arginine, which make the artery walls more flexible and less prone to blood clots that can block blood flow. You can make a nutty trail mix and simply munch on nuts in between meals or add them to your stir-fry.

* Activated charcoal is a natural ingredient that helps in flushing out toxins from the body. It not only helps in the detoxification of the body but also helps in digestive cleansing by alleviating problems like gas and bloating.

Activated charcoal also helps in fighting the signs of ageing.

Healthy restaurants incorporate activated charcoal in their healthy drinks and also in the breads and buns used for their special sandwiches and burgers.

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The BBQ paneer burger at The Rolling Pin features an activated charcoal bun.

* Beetroots contain valuable nutrients that may help lower your blood pressure, fight cancer and inflammation, boost your stamina, and support detoxification.

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It is an amazing source of iron but is often ignored due to its peculiar taste. Beetroots can be added to salads, smoothies or you could even add beetroot to your chapati dough to get that much-needed iron intake.

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Eat fatty fish to cut your heart disease risk

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London, April 19: Consuming fatty fish four times a week may help increase the amount of good cholesterol and prevent the risk of heart disease, finds a study.

The findings showed that fatty fish increases the size and lipid composition of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles, also known as good cholesterol, in people with impaired glucose metabolism.

Moreover, using daily 30 ml of camelina oil — rich in alpha-linolenic acid, which is an essential omega-3 fatty acid — was also found to decrease the number of harmful Intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL) particles.

The IDL lipoprotein is the precursor of (low-density lipoprotein) LDL, which is also known as the bad cholesterol. Previous studies have shown that long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have a beneficial effect on lipoprotein size and composition.

Both of these changes can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, said researchers from the University of Eastern Finland.

For the study, published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, the team involved nearly 100 Finnish men and women aged between 40 and 72, with impaired glucose metabolism.

Study participants were randomly divided into four groups for a 12-week intervention: the camelina oil group, the fatty fish group, the lean fish group, and the control group.

While people in the camelina oil group, fatty fish group, showed potentially higher HDL and lower IDL cholesterol level, eating lean fish, was not associated with changes in the number, size or composition of lipoprotein particles, the researchers said.

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Poor sleep may raise obesity risk in kids

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London, April 17 (IANS) Besides healthy eating and exercise, getting enough sleep may also be a key factor in managing weight in children and adolescents, a new study has found.

The findings showed that children and adolescents who get less than the recommended amount of sleep for their age are at a higher risk of gaining more weight.

Overall, they were 58 percent more likely to become overweight or obese percent on risk factor for various cardio-metabolic diseases.

“Being overweight can lead to cardiovascular disease and Type-2-diabetes which is also on the increase in children. The findings of the study indicate that sleep may be an important potentially modifiable risk factor (or marker) of future obesity,” said Michelle Miller, from the University of Warwick in Coventry, UK.

For the study, published in the journal Sleep, the team reviewed the results of 42 population studies of infants, children and adolescents aged zero to 18 years which included a total of 75,499 participants.

“The results showed a consistent relationship across all ages indicating that the increased risk is present in both younger and older children,” Miller said.

The prevalence of obesity has increased world-wide and the World Health Organisation has now declared it a global epidemic.

According to the recent recommendations by US-based National Sleep Foundation infants (four to 11 months) must get between 12-15 hours of nightly sleep, toddlers (one-two years) must sleep for 11-14 hours.

Children in pre-school (three-five years) should sleep for 10-13 hours, while school aged children (six-13 years) must get between nine and 11 hours of sleep. Teenagers (14-17 years) are advised to get eight-10 hours.

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