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Zinc oxide in canned foods may damage your digestive system

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New York, April 10 (IANS) The next time you opt for canned foods such as corn, tuna, asparagus or chicken, think twice. They may contain zinc oxide that can potentially damage your digestive system, warn researchers.

The findings showed that nanoparticles of zinc oxide present in the lining of certain canned goods, usually considered good for its antimicrobial properties and preventing staining of sulfur-producing foods, may negatively affect the way in which human digestive tract operates.

“We found that zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles at doses that are relevant to what you might normally eat in a meal or a day can change the way that your intestine absorbs nutrients or your intestinal cell gene and protein expression,” said Gretchen Mahler, Associate Professor at the Binghamton University in the New York.

Researchers found that canned food contained 100 times the daily dietary allowance of zinc.

“They tend to settle onto the cells representing the gastrointestinal tract and cause remodelling or loss of the microvilli, which are tiny projections on the surface of the intestinal absorptive cells that help to increase the surface area available for absorption,” Mahler added.

This loss of surface area tends to result in a decrease in nutrient absorption.

Some of the nanoparticles also cause pro-inflammatory signaling at high doses, and this can increase the permeability of the intestinal model, the researcher said.

In other words, it can even allow the passage of compounds that are not supposed to pass through into the bloodstream.

The study, published in the journal Food & Function, looked at how many particles might be transferred into the canned food.

“Our model shows that the nanoparticles do have effects on our in vitro model, and that understanding how they affect gut function is an important area of study for consumer safety,” Mahler said.

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Eat fish thrice a week to boost your unborn’s eyesight, brain

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London, Sep 21: Pregnant women can enhance the development of their unborn child’s eyesight and brain function by regularly eating fatty fish during the pregnancy, a new study has found.

The findings suggested that infants whose mothers ate fish three or more times a week during the last trimester of their pregnancy fared better than those whose mothers ate no fish or only up to two portions per week.

“The results of our study suggest that frequent fish consumption by pregnant women is of benefit for their unborn child’s development,” said lead author Kirsi Laitinen of the University of Turku in Finland.

“This may be attributable to long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids within fish, but also due to other nutrients like vitamin D and E, which are also important for development,” Laitinen added.

For the study, published in the journal Pediatric Research, the research team analysed the results of a small group of mothers and their children drawn from a larger study.

The mothers had to keep a regular food diary during the course of their pregnancy. Fluctuations in their weight before and during pregnancy were taken into account, along with their blood sugar level and blood pressure.

The team recorded the levels of nutritional long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid sources in the mother’s diet and blood serum, and the levels in the blood of their children by the age of one month.

Their children were further tested around their second birthday using pattern reversal visual evoked potentials (pVEP). This sensitive and accurate, non-invasive method is used to detect visual functioning and maturational changes occurring within a young child’s visual system.

“Our study therefore highlights the potential importance of subtle changes in the diet of healthy women with uncompromised pregnancies, beyond prematurity or nutritional deficiencies, in regulating infantile neurodevelopment,” Laitinen noted.

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Eating food cooked on wood, coal may impair your lungs

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New York, Sep 21: Love to eat food cooked on the barbecue? Beware, it is associated with increased risk of respiratory illness or death, researchers warned.

Compared to those who used electricity or gas, chronic and acute respiratory disease hospitalisations or deaths were 36 per cent higher among those who used wood or coal for cooking, researchers, from the University of Oxford, have found.

People who switched from solid fuels to clean-burning fuels reduced their risk to only 14 per cent higher than those who never cooked with wood or coal.

It is because solid fuels emit very high levels of pollutants especially very small particles, which penetrate deep into lungs, the researchers explained.

“The increased risk of major respiratory diseases posed by burning wood or coal can be significantly lowered by switching to a clean-burning fuel”, said Zhengming Chen, professor at the varsity’s Nuffield Department of Population Health.

“Our findings make a compelling case to speed up the global implementation of universal access to affordable clean energy, one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” Chen said.

Nearly three billion people around the world live in households that regularly burn wood, coal or other solid fuels to cook their food.

Typically, these households are found in the rural areas of low- and middle-income countries.

For the study, published in the journal American Thoracic Society, the team analysed the health records of 280,000 adults, aged 30 to 79 from 10 areas of China.

They were followed for nine years and 19,823 were either hospitalised or died following major respiratory diseases.

Of these events, 10,553 were due to asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and 7,324 were due to acute lower respiratory infections, most often pneumonia.

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Walking just 35 minutes daily can reduce stroke risk in elderly

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New York, Sep 20: Older adults can prevent their risk of strokes by taking a daily stroll for just 35 minutes a day or four hours a week, say researchers.

Indulging in moderate physical activity, such as swimming, brisk walking, or running two to three hours a week may also reduce the severity of strokes than people who are physically inactive.

“Stroke is a major cause of serious disability, so finding ways to prevent stroke or reduce the disability caused by stroke are important,” said Katharina S. Sunnerhagen, from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

“While exercise benefits health in many ways, our research suggests that even simply getting in a small amount of physical activity each week may have a big impact later by possibly reducing the severity of a stroke,” she added.

For the study, published in the journal Neurology, the team identified 925 people with an average age of 73 who had a stroke.

Of the 481 people who were physically inactive, 354 or 73 per cent had mild stroke. Of the 384 who engaged in light physical activity, 330 or 85 per cent had mild stroke. Of the 59 people who engaged in moderate physical activity, 53 or 89 per cent had mild stroke.

People who engaged in light to moderate physical activity before their stroke were twice as likely to have a mild stroke rather than a moderate or severe stroke when compared to people who were physically inactive, the researchers said.

“There is a growing body of evidence that physical activity may have a protective effect on the brain and our research adds to that evidence,” Sunnerhagen said.

The study does not prove that physical activity reduces stroke severity; it only shows an association, she noted.

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