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Saturday 23 July 2011

Staggering survey about Baby food.

          Editor : Khushboo Pathak

      The absolute healthiest food for a baby is breast milk.
But introducing nutritious solid foods to a baby is a big milestone.
Healthy eating of a baby is a common concern of mothers because it is one of the most influential factors in determining how smart and well-adjusted he would be. The brain grows at its fastest rate during the first three years of life so it is possible that good nutrition during this period may encourage optimal brain growth. 

Many foods marketed for babies and young children are often advertised as “healthy”, but in reality, they are not.In terms of sugar and saturated  fat content, these marketed baby foods are worse than junk food. Infact Some baby foods contain as much sugar and saturated fats as chocolate cookies or cheeseburgers.

Britain's Children's Food Campaign (CFC), which works to improve children's health and well-being through better food, surveyed more than 100 foods for babies and toddlers such as Farley’s Original Rusks and Toddler’s Own Mini Cheese Biscuits (both made by Heinz). 
They found that one brand of dry biscuits contained 29 percent sugar and some toddler biscuits contained trans fat. 


Trans fatty acids replace the essential fatty acids (EFAs) that are needed for brain growth.Trans fat is known to increase Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), also known as "bad" cholesterol, at the same time, lowers level of High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), also known as "good" cholesterol. It can also cause clogging of arteries; increase the risk of heart disease; type 2 diabetes; and other serious health problems. 

Many food companies use trans fat instead of oil because it reduces cost, extends storage life of products and can improve flavor and texture. None of these reasons have anything to do with benefitting child’s health.

Apart from this, processed baby food lack adequate sodium which is required for optimal growth of bone and muscle tissue.

So,don’t simply believe baby foods are going to be healthy for your little one. Read the product labels and check saturated fat and sugar amounts.

Also a child having baby food kept in Bisphenol A( BPA ) containing plastic container could get exposed to (BPA)-a toxic contaminant.BPA is primarily used to make plastic containers. 

Therefore,always consult with your pediatrician regarding introducing solid foods to your baby. Remember, you are taking the first steps to help your little one develop healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.
Well,simple nourishing homemade baby food recipes are the most nourishing one, wherein, you have a complete control over the ingredients; no unresolved questions about potential additives and preservatives.
Dig in to nutrition;balanced diet with plenty of cereals, low fat milk products, fruits and vegetables are the best option.

The stronger (right) the foundation (infant nutrition) the better (healthier) will be the structure (adulthood).

Monday 20 June 2011

Life By The Pill

                                        Editor- Khushboo Pathak
    The twentieth century saw a remarkable upsurge of research on drugs, with major advances in the treatment of bacterial and viral infections, heart disease, stomach ulcers, cancer, and mental illnesses. These, along with the introduction of the oral contraceptive, have altered all of our lives. There has also been an increase in the recreational use and abuse of drugs in the Western world. 
    In the fields of Medicine, Biotechnology and Pharmacology, drugs are discovered and/or designed by the process called drug discovery.
    Drug is a chemical substance other than food used in the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of disease or used to enhance physical or mental well-being.
The action of drugs on the human body is called Pharmacodynamics and what the body does with the drug is called Pharmacokinetics.
    According to pharmacological action drugs are classified as follows:

A) Chemotherapeutic agents - used to cure infectious diseases and cancer. (Sulfa drugs, Antibiotics).These act by killing or weakening foreign organisms such as bacteria, viruses.

B) Pharmacodynamic agents - used in non-infectious diseases (Hallucinogenic, Sedatives)

C) Miscellaneous agents (Narcotic Analgesics, Local An-aesthetics)
Drugs act by stimulating or depressing normal physiological functions. Drugs can be made from various sources like Microbial metabolites, Marine invertebrates etc.

    The drugs that enter the human body tend to stimulate certain receptors, ion channels, act on enzymes or transporter proteins. As a result, they cause the human body to react in a specific way.

l. Enzyme Inhibition: Enzyme inhibition may be reversible or non reversible; competitive or non-competitive. Antimetabolites may be used which mimic natural metabolites.

2. Drug-Receptor Interaction: A receptor is the specific chemical constituents of the cell with which a drug interacts to produce its pharmacological effects.
Drugs may bind to a specific receptor, possibly preventing naturally occurring chemicals from binding to the receptor. In so doing, if a drug enhances cell activity, it is called an Agonists drug; if it blocks cell activity, it is called an Antagonists drug.

Once the receptors are activated, they either trigger a particular response directly on the body, or they trigger the release of hormones and/or other endogenous drugs in the body to stimulate a particular response.

3. Non-specific Interactions: Drug can also act exclusively by physical means outside of cells such as external surfaces of skin and gastrointestinal tract. Drugs also act outside of cell membranes by chemical interactions.

                                                      How do drugs act....???
Step 1. Drug from tablets or capsules enters in the stomach and intestines.For some drugs, the amount of acid in the stomach, or the amount of food in the stomach, changes the amount of drug that is absorbed. This is the reason that some drugs have "food requirements", or why some drugs have warnings not to take antacids along with the drug.

Step 2. Drug travels in the bloodstream and it goes into Tissues and Body Fluids. Drug characteristics, tissue properties and blood flow determine this distribution.
Step 3. Now, the drug get metabolized by living organisms through specialized enzymatic systems. Its rate is an important determinant of the duration and intensity of the pharmacological action of drugs. This metabolism can result in toxication or intoxication. Quantitatively, the smooth endoplasmic reticulum of the liver cell is the principal organ of drug metabolism. The reason is, it is a large organ, it is the first organ per-fused by chemicals absorbed in the gut, and there are very high concentrations of most drug-metabolizing enzyme systems comparative to other organs.

Step 4. Now, the body gets the drug out by passing the drug into the urine (via the kidneys) or stool (via the liver).

   We know from basic science that chemicals and compounds react with each other. So, it’s very important to understand that the same chemical can be a medicine and a poison too, depending on conditions of use and the person using it. 
   Pharmacology drug do not produce a single effect. The primary effect is the desired therapeutic effect. Other effect beside the desired effect which may be either beneficial or harmful is the secondary effect/side-effect. Side effects can occur when commencing, decreasing/increasing dosages, or ending a drug or prescription routine.

   Drugs have to be prescribed by a doctor because some of them are quite addictive. That is why most doctors don’t renew a prescription unless they examine the patient to make sure that he or she isn't getting addicted. So, rather telling your doctor that you need a particular drug, simply describe your symptoms. If you need a drug, trust your doctor to prescribe it for you.

Thursday 2 June 2011

New Discovery-Blood Processing Machine.

Editor: Khushboo Pathak     
                Reference: Nature Biotechnology

When a patient is rushed to hospital with a gunshot wound and must get to the operating theatre immediately and need a blood transfusion – but what is your blood group? Doctors and nurses are fighting the clock to save the patient and, in a moment of rush, the wrong bag of blood is taken. Blood mix-ups, though rare, are still one of the most feared mistakes in transfusion medicine.

In future, it may not matter, thanks to enzymes that scrub antigens from red blood cells, turning all donated blood into group O – which can be given safely to anyone. The blood cells of people with group A and B blood contain one of two different sugar molecules, which act as "antigens", triggering an immune response. Sugar molecule determines whether the antigen is A or B.

The A and B antigens, which give blood groups their name, are sugars carried on the surface of red blood cells. Human red blood cells can carry one of these antigens, both, or neither; giving rise to four blood groups: A, B, AB and O respectively. People with AB blood have both types of molecule, while those with group O blood have neither. People produce antibodies against the antigens they lack. Because the body's immune system recognizes its own sugar molecules, but sees sugars of another type as foreign invaders. That's why a person with type A blood can't receive a transfusion from someone with type B blood: The type A immune system would attack the new blood as foreign, making the person seriously ill.
Because type O blood carries neither of these sugars, it navigates undetected right past the immune systems of type A, B, and AB individuals. For this reason, patients with any blood type can receive blood type O. The blood type O is used in emergency situations when we don't have time to check a patients' blood type.
Researchers have created a cheap and simple way to convert all donated blood into group O, the universal group that can be given safely to anyone.
The ZymeQuest's machine, roughly the size of a dishwasher, is a pair of enzymes newly discovered by Henrik Clausen of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark that can cleave sugar molecules from the surface of the red blood cells  and easily transform blood types A and B into the precious blood type O. The molecular machine could theoretically turn any kind of blood into Type O.This device churn out eight units of type O every 90 minutes.

The technique works by using bacterial enzymes to cut sugar molecules from the surface of red blood cells. After a search of 2,500 fungi and bacteria the researchers discovered two bacteria - Elizabethkingia meningosepticum and Bacterioides fragilis - which contained potentially useful enzymes. They found that enzymes from both bacteria were able to remove both A and B antigens from red blood cells. They act like miniature scissors to snip off the sugar molecules thus converting all blood cells to group O.

Elizabethkingia meningosepticum targets the A antigen and Bacterioides  fragilis removes the B antigen.

The discovery could eventually reduce blood shortages and make transfusions safer. The technique potentially enables blood from groups A, B and AB to be converted into group O negative, which can be safely transplanted into any patient. 

Blood processed by ZymeQuest using the sugar-cleaving enzymes is currently in early phase II clinical trials in the United States. If all goes well, the company expects its blood-processing machines to be on the market in Europe in 2011 and in the United States a few years later.

Sunday 1 May 2011

Ugly Meat

Editor- Khushboo Pathak
Ref: - Science Daily (Apr. 15, 2011) and
                          The Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases. 

The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of antibiotics in animal feed nearly 50 years ago.  In food animals, antibiotics are used in four ways: to promote growth of animal, to prevent, treat and control diseases such as pneumonia, hepatitis and salmonellosis.

The report pointed out that in the U.S. meat industry; large commercial farming operations pre-emptively treat animals with a range of antibiotics, providing for ideal breeding grounds for drug-resistant bacteria that move from animals to humans. The results of the analysis just serve to confirm the growing danger for the American population. Although the federal government regularly examines meat and poultry for contamination by four strains of drug-resistant bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus is not one of them.

Staphylococcus aureus is a Gram-positive, catalase-positive communal bacterium colonizing in both humans and animals. Staphylococcus aureus is known for causing food poisoning through the production of enterotoxins.Worldwide, strains have emerged that are resistant to a wide range of antibiotics.

The meat was analyzed for the presence of Staphylococcus aureus, because Staphylococcus aureus has been found in the past in several food-animal species.

For the first time, we know how much of our meat and poultry is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and it is substantial. Meat samples were taken from a single randomly chosen piece of meat that was being prepared.

Drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus are present in meat and poultry from U.S. grocery stores at unexpectedly high rates, according to a nationwide study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

For their study, the researchers collected and analyzed 136 samples out of 80 brands of beef, turkey pork and chicken from a total of 26 supermarkets among locations in Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C.; and, Flagstaff, Arizona. Their findings showed that 47 percent of the samples contained the very common pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, and 96 percent of Staphylococcus aureus isolates were resistant to at least one antibiotic. Of more concern 52 percent of those staph isolates were resistant to at least three types of antibiotics.

The antibiotics to which the Staphylococcus aureus was resistant included: Penicillin and Ampicillin; Erythromycin; Tetracycline; Oxacillin and the more modern form of the drug Methicillin.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium responsible for several difficult-to-treat infections in humans. It is any strain Staphylococcus aureus of that has developed resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics which include the Penicillin (Methicillin, Nafcillin, Oxacillin, etc.) and the Cephalosporin. It may also be called Multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or Oxacillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (ORSA).

MRSA may progress substantially within 24–48 hours of initial topical symptoms. After 72 hours MRSA can take hold in human tissues and eventually become resistant to treatment.
MRSA is especially troublesome in hospitals, where patients with open wounds and weakened immune systems are at greater risk of infection than the general public.

Vancomycin and Teicoplanin are glycopeptides antibiotics used to treat MRSA infections.Because the oral absorption of Vancomycin and Teicoplanin is very low, these agents must be administered intravenously to control systemic infections.

The more an antibiotic is used, the more the bacteria will become resistant to it. In addition to the dangers of ingesting the antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it is also possible for drug-resistant bacteria to transfer their genetic material to other bacteria. This means that if you consume a harmless "bug" carrying a resistance-causing gene, that gene could be passed to a more harmful form of bacteria that's already in your body, making it an antibiotic resistant.

Also DNA testing suggests that the food animals themselves were the major source of contamination.DNA testing confirmed the presence and specific types of Staphylococcus aureus.The bacteria were exposed to antibiotics from different classes to determine which drugs could kill the germs and which could not. The bottom line is, the more we use antibiotics in injudicious ways, and the more we are compromising our ability to save human lives in the future.

Food producers say their products are safe. Although experts note that Staphylococcus aureus bacteria can be killed by thoroughly cooking meat, it may still pose a risk to consumers regarding improper handling during preparation. Cross-contamination can easily occur by such practices as re-using a cutting board or knife that has come in contact with the raw meat and this can lead to infection.

The most important message for consumers is to follow proper food safety methods, such as Consumers should wash sinks, utensils and hands thoroughly after handling all raw meat and poultry, handle meat and poultry with gloves, especially if they have any wounds on their hands. Following good food safety practices will ensure that consumers continue to enjoy safe, high-quality, and nutritious food products.