Friday, April 29, 2011

Heart attacks can happen more serious at Certain times of the day

Study of ahead of print in heart journal reveals that heart attacks can be more serious happened in the morning. About 20% larger area of dead tissue (infarct) people who have heart attacks will occur between 6am and noon. It means that that time is more serious affected by heart attacks than at any other time of the day.

It is well established that a person's 24 hour body clock influences several cardiovascular physiological processes including the incidence of heart attacks, which tend to happen more around the time when a person is waking up from sleep, but what is less known is the extent of damage that this leads to.

Currently, Researchers in Madrid, Spain had determined the impact of time of day of a heart attack on the size of the dead tissue (infarct) caused in patients with an ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) - a type of heart attack caused by a prolonged period of blocked blood supply.

They analysed data on 811 patients with a STEMI heart attack admitted to the coronary care unit of Hospital Clinico San Carlos in Madrid between 2003 and 2009. They calculated the size of infarct by looking at enzyme release in patients. Moreover,
coronary artery disease also has a main factor of heart disease

The time of STEMI onset was divided into four 6-hour time periods in phase with 24-hour body clock rhythms.

Patients with the largest infarct size were found to be those who had a heart attack in the dark to light transition period of 6am to noon. These patients were found to have around a 21% higher level of enzymes in this period (which indicated a larger infarct size) than patients who had their heart attack between 6pm and midnight.

The greatest number of patients (269) had their heart attack in the 6am to noon period, followed by 240 patients who had their attack between noon and 6pm, 161 during the 6pm to midnight period, and 141 between midnight and 6am.

They also found that patients with a STEMI that happened in the anterior wall of the heart were left with a larger size of infarct than patients whose heart attacks happened in other locations.

The authors conclude: "If confirmed, these results may have a significant impact on the interpretation of clinical trials of cardioprotective strategies in STEMI."

Generally speaking, people who get heart attacks should be more carefully of maintaining their heart especially at the certain time of the day. To reduce the risk, one of way is they must have a good lifestyle read more about prevention of heart attack and eat health food by avoiding food which contain dangerous for heart disease read what the best food for heart attack.

Source: medical news today

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Research study of Prevention of diabetes

One of diseases that people currently concern is “Diabetes mellitus”. This kind of disease has been involving people in any ages, means that both young and older people can get diabetes. Moreover, there have a belief for their parents or grandparents have diabetes, it also affects their generation to suffer the same fate. Actually, this is not completely true because the diabetes can be prevented and stop by doing some preventive measures and good lifestyle as well. Here are some ways about diabetes prevention

Researcher showed that the incidence of diabetes mellitus still continues to dramatically increase with the American Diabetic Association estimating that 81 million Americans are currently either diabetic or prediabetic. Diabetes mellitus is a relentless disease. Mostly, the complications of diabetes are extensive due to the progressive damage to the body's entire circulatory system. People with diabetes have a greater risk of developing any diseases like heart disease and/or hardening of the arteries.

According to the World Book Encyclopedia, the average adult human body contains approximately 96,500 kilometers (60,000 miles) of blood vessels. All of your blood vessels are essential to your health because they provide the transportation network that allows your blood to carry nutrients and oxygen to each of your cells. Your network of blood vessels also allows your blood to remove waste products from all of your cells. That is why, blood vessel is very important to be maintained by people who suffer diabetes type 2 in particular. Read two common types of diabetes
Meanwhile, some one reason how diabetes can develop into our body and the main factors is from eating much sugar which can raise level of blood sugar as well as refined carbohydrates than your body can properly use. In fact, your body is forced to produce and release insulin so frequently that one or both of the following conditions may arise:
  1. Your pancreas may not be able to produce enough insulin to effectively deal with your sugar and refined carbohydrate intake.
  2. Your cells may become resistant to the effects of insulin.
One or both of these conditions will eventually lead to a high blood sugar level, which over the long term, will dramatically increase your risk of developing blockages in your network of blood vessels. The best way for reducing your risk of developing diabetes can be read here and be alert to maintain your body regularly by doing important things.

Recent study said that development of insuline resistance has a link to immune system which may help drive diabetes type 2. "The main point of this study is trying to shift the emphasis in thinking of type 2 diabetes as a purely metabolic disease, and instead emphasize the role of the immune system in type 2," said study co-author Dr. Daniel Winer, an endocrine pathologist at Toronto General Hospital in Canada. When the research began, Winer was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University in California. The less common form of the disease, type 1 diabetes, occurs when the immune system mistakenly destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. This type of diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease, and isn't linked to how much a person weighs. Although the causes of type 2 haven't been clear, it's known that the disease runs in families, suggesting a genetic component. Also, while type 2 is strongly linked to increased weight, not everyone who is overweight gets type 2 diabetes. Read more here to get deep explanation

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Treat Depression to Boost Diabetes Self-Care: Study

FRIDAY, April 22 (HealthDay News) -- Treating diabetes patients' depression boosts their overall health, according to a new study.

It included 145 people with type 2 diabetes and depression who received a year-long depression intervention that included 12 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy over the phone, followed by nine monthly booster sessions. They also took part in a walking program.

They were compared to a control group of 146 diabetes patients with depression who received usual diabetes care.

At the end of the year, depression symptoms were in remission for 58 percent of the patients in the intervention group and 39 percent of those in the control group, said the researchers at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and the University of Michigan Health System.

The intervention program also led to lower blood pressure, an increase in walking of about four miles a week and improvement in general quality of life.

However, most patients already had good blood sugar control at the outset of the intervention, so A1C levels, a measure of blood sugar control, did not drop.

The study appears online ahead of print in the journal Medical Care.

Depression and diabetes often go hand in hand, and depression can be a major problem for people with diabetes because it makes them less likely to follow their medicine schedule or exercise program, the researchers explained.

"Depression is a common, treatable issue for many people who have diabetes," said study lead author John Piette, a senior research scientist at the VA and professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, in a university news release.

"Unfortunately, most busy clinics cannot provide the level of intensive care these patients need. This study shows that telephone-delivered counseling can improve patients' access to effective depression care, improve their cardiovascular health and get them moving again," he added.


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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Keep Eating Apple Reduce Some Diseases

As we know that fruit is very good for our health because each fruit has variety of  vitamin depend on what fruit you eat. One of fruit which content much vitamin is “Apple”. It contains no fat, cholesterol or sodium, but fiber, water, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron, and vitamins as A, B1, B2, C. Moreover, Apples are best fruit you can eat without restriction throughout the year. They disguise the fiber, vitamins and nutrients and have very few calories, as indicated in a diet. In addition. Researches said that a medium apple has about 80 calories and is an excellent source of fiber. Just make sure you do not take too many apple seeds because it could be toxic if taken in large amount. Apples are low in calories; 100 g of fresh fruit slices provide only 50 calories. They are however contain no saturated fats or cholesterol; but rich in dietary fiber which helps prevent absorption of dietary LDL cholesterol in the gut. The dietary fibers also help protect the mucous membrane of the colon from exposure to toxic substances by binding to cancer causing chemicals in the colon. Furthermore, Apple fruit also contains good quantities of vitamin-C and beta carotene. Vitamin C is definitely a powerful natural antioxidant. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body. beside that, apple fruit is also a good source of B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, thiamin and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6). Together these vitamins help as co-factors for enzymes in metabolism as well as in various synthetic functions inside the body. Apple also contains small amount of minerals like potassium, phosphorus and calcium. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure; thus counters the bad influences of sodium.

Benefit from apple:

Release Toxic
Apples are excellent detoxifiers and apple juice can destroy viruses in the body. 

Bone Protection
French researchers found that a flavanoid called phloridzin that is found only in apples may protect post-menopausal women from osteoporosis and may also increase bone density. Boron, another ingredient in apples, also strengthens bones.
Asthma Help
One recent study shows that children with asthma who drank apple juice on a daily basis suffered from less wheezing than children who drank apple juice only once per month. Another study showed that children born to women who eat a lot of apples during pregnancy have lower rates of asthma than children whose mothers ate few apples.
Alzheimer's Prevention
A study on mice at Cornell University found that the quercetin in apples may protect brain cells from the kind of free radical damage that may lead to Alzheimer's disease.
Lower Cholesterol
The pectin in apples lowers LDL ("bad") cholesterol. People who eat two apples per day may lower their cholesterol by as much as 16 percent.
Lung Cancer Prevention
According to a study of 10,000 people, those who ate the most apples had a 50 percent lower risk of developing lung cancer. Researchers believe this is due to the high levels of the flavonoids quercetin and naringin in apples.
Breast Cancer Prevention
A Cornell University study found that rats who ate one apple per day reduced their risk of breast cancer by 17 percent. Rats fed three apples per day reduced their risk by 39 percent and those fed six apples per day reduced their risk by 44 percent.
Colon Cancer Prevention
One study found that rats fed an extract from apple skins had a 43 percent lower risk of colon cancer. Other research shows that the pectin in apples reduces the risk of colon cancer and helps maintain a healthy digestive tract.
Liver Cancer Prevention
Research found that rats fed an extract from apple skins had a 57 percent lower risk of liver cancer.
Diabetes Management
The pectin in apples supplies galacturonic acid to the body which lowers the body's need for insulin and may help in the management of diabetes.
Weight Loss
A Brazilian study found that women who ate three apples or pears per day lost more weight while dieting than women who did not eat fruit while dieting One large apple supplies almost 30% of minimum amount of fiber that should be consumed daily. Doctors recommend daily consumption of apples for a complete and balanced diet
Gout and Rheumatism prevention
For people who suffer from gout and rheumatism, eat apple regularly because it will aid healing

Another benefit of apple is for those who have problem with their stomach. If you have problem with indigestion, eat apples before meals. Grated apple, when mixed with live yogurt may be helpful in cases of diarrhea
Selection and Storage:
Generally, if we buy an apple in department store like supermarket, you must consider some tips of good selection. Mostly, Fresh apples are readily available in the stores all around the season.  Choose fresh, bright, firm textured apples with rich flavor. Avoid fruits with pressure marks over their surface as they indicate underlying mottled of pulp. To prevent browning, rub the cut surfaces with a mixture of lemon juice and water
Fresh apples can be kept at room temperature for few days and stored in refrigerator for two to three weeks. Wash them in clean running cold water before use to remove any surface dust and pesticide/fungicide residues. the appearance of Apples must be hard. If you can dent an apple with your finger, DO NOT BUY IT.

Select apples that are firm, without blemishes, wrinkles or bruises. Apples will not ripen if picked prematurely but mature apples will ripen further at home. Do not buy apples that have not been kept cold since they can be over-ripe in a few days.

To hasten the ripening process, punch holes in a brown paper bag and store apples inside at room temperature. The ethylene gas they emit also causes other fruits to ripen quickly, so store apples separately. Refrigerated apples will keep much longer – up to several weeks – stored in plastic in the crisper drawer. Lastly, Wash apples just before using. Core an apple before removing the skin – it is easier to handle. Exposed apple flesh turns brown quickly, so sprinkle with lemon juice to retard this process

Best Types of Apples for Eating:

Many types of apples can be found and here are some listed alphabetically under each category.
  • First choices: Baldwin, Granny Smith, Jonathan, McIntosh, Stayman
  • Second choices: Empire, Fuji, Gala,
  • Third choices: Golden Delicious, Russet, Spartan

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Health Tip: Yoga Can Help Your Health

No matter what style of yoga you prefer to practice, it's a great exercise that offers a number of physical and mental health benefits.
The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine lists these possible health benefits of yoga:
  • Better mood, improved sleep and better overall well-being.
  • Better stress management.
  • Lowered heart rate and blood pressure, as well as improved lung capacity.
  • More relaxed muscles and healthier body composition.
  • Improved management of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
  • Better flexibility, strength and general physical fitness.
  • Positive effects on chemicals in the brain and blood.
Source: healthdaynews

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The Burning Question: Do I Need to Buy Organic Chicken?

The food-safety expert says:
Jaydee Hanson, Senior Policy Analyst the Center for Food Safety

The organic label guarantees certain standards. Organic-chicken growers are legally prohibited from using sewage sludge as fertilizer, synthetic chemicals not approved by the National Organic Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), or genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—any plant, animal, or microorganism that has been altered through genetic engineering—in the production process. Chickens labeled as "natural," on the other hand, don’t necessarily meet those standards.

Buying organic may help prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. When you crowd chickens together indoors, the way conventional growers do, they’re more likely to produce infectious bacteria, which is why non-organic chickens are fed antibiotics as a norm. But this creates drug-resistant strains of bacteria. These bacteria are normally killed by the heat of cooking, but they can be spread by people who work with the birds. "USDA Organic" chickens, on the other hand, are allowed access to the outdoors; they are given antibiotics only to prevent pain or death, after which they are no longer considered organic.

Organic is healthier. One study found that organic chicken contained 38% more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Eating organic chicken may also lower your food-poisoning risk: In a 2010 study, fewer than 6% of organic birds were infected with salmonella, compared with almost 39% of conventional ones.

The dietitian says:
Connie Diekman, RD, director of university nutrition Washington University in St. Louis

There’s no major nutritional difference. While some studies do show that organic chicken has more omega-3 fatty acids, chicken is low in fat to start with, so you’re not getting much in either case. Beyond that, conventional and organic will give you the same nutritional product—both are good sources of protein.

Organic may contain less salt and other additives. Many conventional and even "natural" chickens—but not organic ones—are injected with water, salt, and preservatives to add moisture and boost flavor. (Check the ingredients label for salt or other additives.) The upshot is higher sodium.

There are other foods worthier of your organic dollar. If you can’t afford to buy everything organic, I suggest that you buy fruits and vegetables like apples, peaches, spinach, strawberries, and sweet bell peppers, which often have the highest pesticide residue.

Our advice:
Based on nutrition alone, organic chicken isn’t worth the money—but it is if you’re worried about food poisoning, GMOs, or how the chicken was raised. To make sure any kind of bird is safe to eat: Note whether it’s plump (which is good) or dry (bad), and check to make sure it’s not close to the "sell by" date. Chicken is the most perishable meat, so when in doubt, sniff it—and put it back if anything smells off.


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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Heavy Teens at Increased Risk of Heart Disease Years Later

Teenage boys who are even slightly overweight face an increased risk of heart disease later in life, even if they slim down as adults, according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine

Regardless of their adult weight, men who were obese as teenagers were nearly seven times more likely than their slimmest peers to be diagnosed with heart disease in their mid-30s, the study found. Heavier-than-average teens whose body mass index was in the normal range were at increased risk as well. (Body mass index, or BMI, is a ratio of height to weight that provides a rough estimate of body fat.)

The good news is that the same was not true of diabetes. A man’s BMI as an adult, but not as a teen, was linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, so slimming down by eating right and exercising appears to go a long way toward preventing the onset of the disease, the researchers say. 

“For those who don’t become obese as adults, the risk of diabetes goes down, but for heart disease this is not the case,” says the lead author of the study, Amir Tirosh, MD, an endocrinologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston. “You don’t get rid of the risk just by reducing the weight. The body remembers when we were running around with a higher BMI.”

Current weight and recent weight changes strongly influence the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. By contrast, the findings suggest, the narrowing and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) that characterizes heart disease and often goes hand in hand with obesity—both are aggravated by a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle—is gradual and difficult to reverse, even with weight loss.

It’s important to keep in mind that being overweight is not solely responsible for heart disease or diabetes, says Daniel Marks, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist at Oregon Health and Sciences University, in Portland. Nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle choices, he says, have a “much greater impact” on risk than body size alone.

Two people with the same BMI can have very different risks for diabetes and heart disease if one of them exercises regularly and the other does not, says Dr. Marks, who was not involved in the new study. “BMI is a proxy marker for poor lifestyle choices,” he explains. “But it’s the lifestyle choices that will get you in the end. We all need to have healthier lifestyles.”

Indeed, even some boys in the study whose BMIs were considered “normal” were at increased risk of heart disease as adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines kids and teens with a BMI between the 5th and 85th percentile for their age as normal, but Tirosh and his colleagues found that boys with BMIs as low as the 50th percentile—which equates to a BMI of about 20—were at increased risk.

“For patients at the higher end of the normal range, doctors should be addressing risk factors such as family history of heart disease and smoking,” Dr. Tirosh says.

Source: By Matt McMillen 

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Tasty Blueberries May Help Fight Obesity

Blueberries are primarily touted as an antioxidant, and they do in fact serve up a good-sized dose of antioxidants, as well as containing anthocyanins and phenolics that can also act as antioxidants. Antioxidants serve to protect the body against the damaging effects of free radicals, combating aging and chronic illness. And the USH Blueberry Council reports that "Using a test called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), researchers have shown that a serving of fresh blueberries provides more antioxidant activity than many other fresh fruits and vegetables." And now, research is showing that blueberries can be added to the arsenal to fight obesity.

A recent study at Texas Woman’s University, presented at a recent American Society for nutrition conference, found that blueberries can combat obesity in rat cells. The research was based on the theory that polyphenols could stop fat cell development. Researcher Shiwani Moghe found that it did, and even shrunk fat cells. While this may not be directly translatable to humans, it is a promising start and will lead to further research into the polyphenol-fat link.

Meanwhile, it couldn’t hurt to add the little blue spheres into your daily diet. Made up of 84% water, one cup of blueberries has 84 calories, with 0 calories from fat. There is no cholesterol and no sodium, and 15% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C. 

Blueberries can be bought fresh or frozen (as well as freeze dried and dehydrated), and can be used in any meal of the day. Some suggestions include:
  • Hot or cold cereal: throw some fresh or frozen in during the boiling process for oatmeal, or top off your bowl of Cheerios or granola with a sprinkling.
  • Yogurt: Add to yogurt, with or without granola. I like the combo of lemon and blueberry the best, although plain, vanilla, and any type of berry yogurt works as well.
  • Trail Mix and Granola: Add dehydrated blueberries to your favorite trail mix or granola for a healthy snack on the go.
  • Muffins: While packaged mixes are the most popular, it doesn't really take very long to make homemade muffins (recipe below), and they are oh so much better.
  • Pancakes: Krusteaz makes a tasty low-fat oat bran pancake mix, wheat and honey mix, and even a fat-free buttermilk pancake mix. Just add water and blueberries and starting flipping those rounds of batter.
  • Coffeecake: Take any traditional recipe and throw in a cup of berries for good measure.
  • Fruit salad: I'm a berry lover, so mixing 3 or 4 kinds of berries together is heaven. For dessert I top with a dollop of whipped cream. Blueberries also go well with cantaloupe. Add in a squeeze of lime and bit of chopped fresh mint, for a palate-pleasing mixture.
  • Desserts: Blueberry pie, lemon-blueberry tarts, blueberry clafouti, peach and blueberry crisp. The list is endless.
  • Dinner: Blueberries can also be used in sauces to serve with fish or meat. How about Salmon Steaks with Savory Blueberry Sauce?  Or, for those of you who are a culinary whiz in the kitchen, you can attempt Tea-Smoked Duck Breast with Pears and Blueberry Jus, a spa dish from Ananda Spa in India.
If you are stumped and need something more creative to do with your blueberries, you can visit Just Berry Recipes, and find 1,263 recipes that use blueberries, and there is sure to be something to your liking. 

Blueberry Muffins
These muffins are low in fat, but have a texture similar to traditionally made muffins. Prep time was less than 10 minutes, and the cook in 15.
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups blueberries
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup nonfat sour cream
1 cup nonfat milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 250 degrees and prepare muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon together. In small bowl, mix sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to the flour along with sour cream and milk. Stir to moisten, then gently fold in the blueberries. Scoop into muffin tins and bake 15-20 minutes until done. Makes 12+

Source: Health By Susan Brady 

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Alcohol 'a major cause of cancer'

About one in 10 cancers in men and one in 33 in women in western European countries are caused by current and past alcohol consumption, according to a study released on Friday. For some types of cancer, the rates are significantly higher, it said.

In 2008, for men, 44, 25 and 33 percent of upper digestive track, liver and colon cancers respectively were caused by alcohol in six of the countries examined, the study found. The countries were Britain, Italy, Spain, Greece, Germany and Denmark. The study also showed that half of these cancer cases occurred in men who drank more than a recommended daily limit of 24 grammes of alcohol, roughly two small glasses of wine or a pint of beer.

The cancer rates for women in the same countries, along with the Netherlands and France, was 18 percent for throat, mouth and stomach, 17 percent for liver, five percent for breast and four percent for colon cancer.
Four-fifths of these cases were due to daily consumption above recommended limits, set for women at half the level of men.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has long maintained that there is a causal link between alcohol consumption and cancers, especially of the liver, colon, upper digestive tract and, for women, breast.

But few studies have tried to connect the dots across a large population between cancer rates and total alcohol consumption, or the proportion of the disease burden occurring in people who drink more than guidelines would allow.

"Our data show that many cancer cases could have been avoided if alcohol consumption is limited to two alcoholic drinks per day in men and one alcoholic drink per day in women," said Madlen Schutze, an epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam and lead author of the study.

The findings also suggest that the limits set by many national health authorities may not be stringent enough to avoid the disease, she said.

"Even more cancer cases would be prevented if people reduced their alcohol intake to below recommended guidelines or stopped drinking alcohol at all," she said in a statement.

The results, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), are drawn from the so-called EPIC cancer survey of 363,000 men and women who have been tracked since the mid-1990s.

Other risk factors that might have also led to cancer -- especially smoking and obesity -- were taken into account, the researchers said.

Nearly 44 percent of men in Germany exceeded the 24-gramme daily limit, followed by Denmark (43.6 percent) and Britain (41.1 percent).

Among women, Germany still topped the list, with 43.5 percent of women there exceeding limit, with Denmark (41 percent) and Britain (37.7 percent) coming in second and third.


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More Protein In Soybean Plants From Starch-Controlling Gene

A newly discovered gene introduced into soybean plants has increased the amount of protein in the plant's seed and could hold promise for helping meet nutritional needs of a hungry world.

Eve Wurtele, professor of genetics, development and cell biology; and Ling Li, an adjunct assistant professor and an associate scientist working in her laboratory, have placed a gene found only in Arabidopsis plants into soybean plants and increased the amount of protein in the soybean seeds by 30 to 60 percent.

The results were a pleasant surprise to the researchers as the function of the gene, known as QQS, in the Arabidopsis was previously unclear because its sequence is very dissimilar from all other plant genes.

Arabidopsis is a small, flowering plant in the mustard family that is often used in scientific research.

"Most genes contain clues in their DNA sequence as to their biological function," said Wurtele. "But this one has no sequence features that gave us any hint of what it's doing."

When the researchers neutralized the gene in Arabidopsis, they discovered the gene was involved in regulating starch accumulation, called deposition.

"Based on the changes in activities of other genes that occurred when we altered QQS, we conjectured that it wasn't directly involved in starch synthesis, but rather it may be involved in altering [the plant's] composition in general," said Wurtele. "We decided to test this concept by transferring the gene to an agronomically important plant species, soybean, which has a seed and is important as a source of vegetable protein and oil."

"We found that the QQS transgene increased protein production in the soybean seed," she added. "That was the best possible scenario."

In addition to having a DNA sequence that is not similar to any other gene in that or any other plant, the gene is also unusual because it has only 59 amino acids, Li said. The median size of a gene in Arabidopsis plants is 346 amino acids.

Li discovered the gene in 2004 and named it for her daughter.

"My daughter was a half-year old. This gene was so small and my daughter was so small," Li laughs. "QQ is my daughter's nickname in Chinese."

In addition to altering the protein-producing qualities of the gene, Wurtele hopes that the discovery may lead to greater understanding of other genes that don't have recognizable functionalities based on their sequences.

"This may give us an insight into the other genes with obscure features and provide us a window as to how they function," she said.

Wurtele hopes the discovery may help people in areas who survive on protein-deficient diets.

"We were so pleased [the gene] altered composition in soybean," she said. "What if this basic research discovery could lead to increased protein content in potatoes, cassava, or other crop species that are staples to people in developing nations?

"That would be better than I imagined."

This research is supported in part by funding from the National Science Foundation and Iowa State University's Plant Science Institute.

This patent-pending technology is available for licensing from the Iowa State University Research Foundation, which also provided technology development funds. 

Source: MedicalNewsToday Source: Eve Wurtele, Iowa State University

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In Pain? Try Meditation

You don’t have to be a Buddhist monk to experience the health benefits of meditation. According to a new study, even a brief crash course in meditative techniques can sharply reduce a person’s sensitivity to pain.

In the study, researchers mildly burned 15 men and women in a lab on two separate occasions, before and after the volunteers attended four 20-minute meditation training sessions over the course of four days. During the second go-round, when the participants were instructed to meditate, they rated the exact same pain stimulus—a 120-degree heat on their calves—as being 57% less unpleasant and 40% less intense, on average.
“That’s pretty dramatic,” says Fadel Zeidan, PhD, the lead author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, in Winston-Salem, N.C. The reduction in pain ratings was substantially greater than those seen in similar studies involving placebo pills, hypnosis, and even morphine and other painkilling drugs, he adds.

The findings, which appear in the April 6 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, aren’t entirely surprising. Past research has found that Buddhist-style meditation—also known as mindfulness meditation—can help people cope with pain, anxiety, and a number of other physical and mental health problems. But in most cases the training takes weeks, not days.

The fact that Zeidan and his colleagues achieved these results after just 80 minutes of training is “spectacular,” says Robert Bonakdar, MD, the director of pain management at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, in San Diego.

“Although the full benefits of meditation can be realized after long-term training, our study suggests that some of the effects can be realized just for your average Joe,” Zeidan says.

The type of meditation used in the study is known as Shamatha, or “focused attention.” Like other forms of mindfulness meditation, it entails learning how to observe what’s going on in one’s mind and body without judging, and while maintaining focus on one’s breathing or a chanted mantra.

Brain scans conducted during the pain experiments showed that this technique appeared to cause a number of changes in how the participants’ brains responded to pain.

The researchers looked, for instance, at a part of the brain called the somatosensory cortex, which contains a kind of map of the body. Before meditation training, the area corresponding to the right calf was quite active when the heat was applied to the volunteers. But there was little activity in this region when they were meditating, which suggests that “meditation reduces pain by reducing the actual sensation,” Zeidan says.

Areas of the brain responsible for maintaining focus and processing emotions were also more active during meditation, and the activity was highest in the volunteers who reported the greatest reductions in pain. “There’s not just one thing happening,” Zeidan says. “Mindfulness meditation incorporates multiple mechanisms, multiple avenues for pain relief.”

The conventional wisdom has been that meditation relieves pain not by diminishing sensation but by helping people consciously control their perception of pain, says Katharine MacLean, PhD, a meditation researcher and postdoctoral fellow in psychology at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore.

However, she says, the brain scans make it clear that both processes take place: Mediation changes the nature of pain before it’s perceived and also allows people to better handle it. “Meditation is really kind of retuning your brain,” MacLean says.

An important question raised by the study is whether meditation might have the same effect on “real-life pain,” Dr. Bonakdar says. Pain—especially chronic pain—is much more complex in the real world than in a laboratory, he points out, and it can involve trauma, depression, and other physical and mental processes.

“Sometimes pain is more about suffering than it is about pain,” he says. “Sometimes that’s the hardest part of pain to treat. Maybe mindfulness meditation is just the right medicine for that problem.”

Source: By Anne Harding 

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