We all know that drastic changes in eating habits change the external makeup of our bodies. But current research shows altercations in what we consume can also change the internal microbial makeup of the human gastro intestinal tract. In addition, the behavior of already present bacteria is altered as well.
Harvard microbiologist Peter Turnbaugh and his colleagues are providing research support that diet changes affect the microbiome ability of the intestines. A 5-day clinical study consisting of 10 volunteers showed the difference between diets consisting of only animal products compared to those which contained only a high-fiber, plant-only diet. Results published in the December magazine of Nature showed that the types of bacteria present remained largely unchanged, however the abundances and amounts varied swiftly in response to the type of dietary consumption.
It seems meat-eaters higher levels of bile-resistant bacteria and that there is physiological call for an increase expression of genes involved in breaking down proteins for digestion. Persons who are basically vegetative plant-eaters, seem to have fewer bile-resisting bacteria and higher gene expression levels associated with carbohydrate digestion. But what is notable is that when diet content is altered, a person's physiology changes swiftly to accommodate the meal type shift.
Scientists suggests the ability for the intestines to quickly react to changes is no doubt evolutionary based in that diet alterations may have provided our ancestors with increased meat to vegetable back to meat dietary flexibility. In other words, our guts are an evolutionary marvel.
I wonder what would Darwin say to this?
Ideas for improving healthcare mean absolutely nothing, when you do not have the money to bring your creations to life. Lately depending on which media you listen to, research grant money is either drying up or making a comeback. But the more unique your investigative idea, the more it seems that both private and public monetary angels will fly to you to give cash to your endeavor.
Recently, many scientists across the nation were holding their breath watching for the outcome of the Senate farm-bill. The hope was that the passage of this legislation would mean a continuance of $8.6 million federal grant for agriculture and farm biology. The good news is that both the Senate and Congress representatives saw the wisdom of allocating the funds and the bill was sent to President Barack Obama for his approval signature. With the passage of the farm bill much needed agricultural research, such as investigating how to increase the bee pollination of crops could resume.
Biologists are always looking for creative ways to fund their research. There is hope with funding from the likes of the Golden Goose Awards (GGA). For example, the biologists who discovered a thermophilic bacterium were the recipients of the recent GGA. This group as well as other financial angels encourages innovative and creative research ideas, because they have come to realize that medical genius can come from peculiar and oddball ideas.
Support for funding basic science research is a bi-partisan activity. Everyone, regardless of political affiliation, agrees evidence-based science projects will only help the country excel. For example, congressional support representatives Charlie Dent (R-Philadelphia) and Jim Cooper (D-Tennessee) are very involved as coalition members with the GGA Awards program.
The GGA has seen to it that several ground breaking societal and healthcare breakthroughs occurred including but not limited to, a mathematical algorithm designed to place the maximum number of men and women with their perfect matches for marriage; later the model was used help match kidney disease patients with transplants and new doctors with appropriate hospitals.
Other examples include the one of biologists who identified the bacterium Thermus aquaticus from samples collected at Yellowstone National Park's hot springs; later the enzyme from the heat-tolerant bacterium was used in the development of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This model revolutionized biomedical research and gave biotechnology and genomics a tremendous boost.
The key point is innovative ideas are the attraction with the goal of benefiting mankind in the areas of economic and/or public health societally significant.
Have you noticed that late night television viewing is now en vogue? Anything that's everything popular concerning music, fashion and movies comes on after 11:00 p.m. In fact, some of the best chef and restaurant shows are screened on late night TV.
Unfortunately we are told that in order to not gain weight we should not eat after 8:00 p.m. The rationale for this is that early eating allows for the burning off of calories before nodding off to dreamy land.
This year, my new year's resolution is to go to bed earlier, thereby reducing my midnight trips to the refrigerator. If I find myself breaking this commitment, current research regarding findings that the earth's rotation is directly linked to human metabolism will set me straight again.
The earth rotational studies state that the circadian rhythms of our physiology and biochemistry reflect the daily cycles of the planet. It is theorized that diabetes, obesity and heart disease could occur when humans fall out of sync with these earth 24 hour sleep/wake cycles.
We know from sleep studies that depression and other ailments are also more common among people who don't have normal sleep habits. Could altered patterns of food consumption occurring at strange night hours also play adverse roles in the smooth functioning of physiological states?
Historically, daylight hours are the dictated the time of for eating, so it only seems logical that midnight snacking is maladapted eating. Opposing these allotted time-fames for feeding may challenge our bodies' normal cycles and according to research may lead to unhealthy consequences.
So, while late night television is all the rage now, I thinking of dusting off the old video tape recorder; taping the shows to watch when the sun is high is the sky; and the snacking when the earth's daytime rhythm is saying to me "Eat, eat, eat."
I am a huge fan of all of the original and cloned CSI television shows. For those of you who are not in the know -- CSI is the acronym for Crime Scene Investigation. The television dramas are forensic science based utilizing the power of deduction and laboratory skills to solve cases.
Vitamin C is known for its importance in the human diet. As of late, there has been much chatter on how this vitamin can be lethal to certain pathogens.
There are ongoing pathology and food science research studies which show that vitamin C may be able to actually can literally "murder" Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB). Specifically, there is an essential nutrient housed within vitamin C that is capable of killing -- yes killing -- the drug-
resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This is done by the vitamin producing oxidative radicals that damages TB's DNA.
Entire populations of drug-resistant strains of the bacteria which causes TB can be destroyed may be able to be destroyed with high doses of vitamin C. The destructions occur as a result of a chemical reaction that produces high levels of DNA-damaging oxidative radicals. The actual dosage levels are still being investigated.
This valuable research finding has prompted new promise on the TB treatment topic by pharmaceutical manufacturers. Findings suggest it may be possible for swifter treatment to occur if vitamin C is added to current TB medications for the hard-to-kill bacteria.
How exciting is this?
Globally, chocolate is such a well loved food that there are literally hundreds of quotations describing the joys and mysteries of eating it. Two of my favorite quotes are:
"Exercise is a dirty word. Every time I hear it, I wash my mouth out with chocolate." --Charles M. Schultz
"Put ‘eat chocolate' at the top of your list of things to do today. That way, at least you'll get one thing done." --Author Unknown
Regardless of which part of the planet you reside, chocolate represents a nurturing comfort food or a weight gain enemy. But one thing we all know for sure is due to extensive scientific research, chocolate has significant health benefits.
For example, chocolate affects your brain in the following ways: it increases alertness and reduces fatigue; it is an endorphin mood elevator; it provides stimulation to the central nervous system; and it triggers dopamine neurotransmitters for producing happiness and pleasure reactions.
Neurology has shown that chocolate aids blood flow in the brain thereby increasing brain activity for cognitive functioning and neuron communication. These findings are particularly important for memory retention and gerontology science.
Finally, there is additional evidence that dark chocolate may protect the brain after a stroke by shielding nerve cells from additional damage. It seems that the digestion of prescribed doses of chocolate results in increased cellular signals and benefits to the cardiovascular system.
Over the years, there have been literally volumes published of studies illustrating the benefits of this food stuff. And since I love, love chocolate -- last month I was particularly excited to read a Wall Street Journal article that stated Nestle, a chocolate food manufacturer is planning to spend money to test its products on human brain and liver cells.
Nestle plans to obtain the stem-cell-like mature human cells from the biotech firm Cellular Dynamics Internationals Incorporated to determine the nutritional health benefits of enhanced drinks, smoothies and other products.
I am most happy that food manufacturers are contributing money for ongoing clinical research endeavors. All of this investigating of chocolates can only lead to more appetizing findings.
I love sock ‘em, rock 'em fight movies, especially those that contain oddly matched opponents. For example, fights between Dracula and Godzilla or better yet, King Kong and the Invisible Man. Why would these teams be great? Because you wouldn't be able to guess in a million years who is going to win.
And isn't it neat how each sport has its own unique jargon? For example, wrestling uses the acronym TKO (technical knockout), while boxing on the other hand has a term called "bolo punch." A bolo punch is a flashy wide sweeping uppercut with one hand, which is used to distract the opponent so that you can hit them with your other hand.
Lately, because of new risky synthetic drug developments under consideration to address antibiotic resistant methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), I've been thinking about a need for a fight matching a virus against the bacteria. Viruses are so versatile and mysterious that I am sure they can muster up a bolo punch to the resistant bacteria.
Evidently I am not the only one thinking alone these lines. The pharmaceutical industry is looking into designing new combat drugs that have the tactics of a virus to attack and destroy bacteria that have become immune to antibiotics.
Scientists are turning to viruses as a drug model with the hopes of when used, they will "infect" the actual bacteria. The theory is that these drugs will mimic the cell-wall busting viral enzymes called lysins. And because viral lysins appear to resist bacterial evolution, the results would render them ineffective over time. How is that for a bolo punch knockout?
Currently the Rockefeller University's bacterial pathogenesis and immunology labs are putting forth the virus model for address the antibiotic drug resistance that has become a major issue in hospitals. This new approach may be one method in which to effectively combat the deadly strains of bacteria, such as MRSA. The potential outcomes of a virus-based intervention are groundbreaking.
I don't think there's a person in my entourage who eats burgers without cheese. Cheese is a "must have" commodity. We never leave home without it.
The following bullets only support the value of cheese on planet earth. Cheesy facts include:
- Mention of cheese traces back to ancient Greek Homer's Odyssey Cyclops myth.
- To date there are more than 250 varieties of cheese known to man.
- Worldwide cheese consumption has triple over the past 3 decades.
- An average person eats a minimum of 25 pounds of cheese annually.
- Cheese is valued for its portability, long life, protein and calcium.
- Allegedly cheddar, mozzarella and American cheeses can help prevent tooth decay.
As you can see cheese is important and undoubtedly will be important in the future.
Cheese is so well loved and vital that some "creative" researchers collaborated to create fermented cheese smells -- not from milk products -- but instead from microbes harvested from some parts of the human body.
Yes you read that right.
Christina Agapakis a post doctorate student out of the University of California Los Angeles and Sissel Tolaas a artist/scent researcher/artist constructed cheeses using microbes harvested from human beings. Microbes from donors' bellybuttons, mouths, tears and skin were collected.
The manufactured cheese was not meant for human consumption. Instead the "Self-made" work was just one of many collections on display at in the Grow Your Own synthetic biology exhibition title "Self-made" in the, a new exhibition on, at the Science Gallery at Trinity College in Dublin up through January 14, 2014.
To Agapakis and Tolaas' credit visitors thus far to the exhibit state that the smell of the variety of cheese they created from human specimens smell just like typical cheese.
Of all of the varieties of mental illness, such as schizophrenia, it seems that depression is the most overlooked disease. I think it is because of how secretive and the subtle the depression signs can be. People most often think that if one is depressed, they will see the victim crying frequently. But visible tears are not always the case.
Everyone feels sad from time to time, but depression is when feeling blue or sad interferes with your daily life for long periods of time. The scope of depression can be mild to severe and occur from giving birth (postpartum depression) or seasonal (seasonal affective disorder or SAD).
The physical signs are listed by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), which include but are not limited to: persistent feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness; fatigue and decreased energy; insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping; or thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts.
Nonphysical signs are being uncovered due to electronics and technology boom. Molecular and geriatric microbiologists are now able to examine signs of depression at the cellular level. One such topic area is changes in chromosomes.
In fact, I was finished reading an article on the topic in the November edition of the Molecular Psychiatry Journal. The study that concluded that people suffering from the mental illness of depression experience cell degradation.
It seems to have chromosomes with shorter telomeres. It seems that collaborating Amsterdam and United States scientists have found that study participants who experience episodes of depression have shorter telomeres then compared to healthy volunteers.
In addition, the cells of depressed people appear older. Humans suffering from depression show signs of advanced cellular aging.
According to Dr. Josien Verhoeven, the study's lead author, depression causes detrimental impact resulting in accelerated biological aging.
One day soon the research results may help in clarify the not readily seen molecular link between psychiatric disorders (i.e. depressive) and potential onset.
Who would have thought that the microbes in our gut are really our "best friends forever" (BFF)? Your stomach contains zillions of stomach microbes that consider themselves your "besties" for life.
Research shows that microbes are established in the abdomen early in life, presumably due to contact from close family members, most strains are unwavering in their presence, staying in the belly for decades or longer. What's more is that the microbes stay inside the gut for years over a person's lifespan, thereby contributing to the uniqueness of an individual' health.
And according to valuable research conducted by Dr. Jeffrey Gordon's at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, many strains stay with us for decades throughout our lifespan and are useful for tracking our health status. In addition, the study shows that conditions such as obesity or autoimmune disorders are associated with dramatic changes in the abdomen microbes.
Dr. Gordon's team has found that people share abdomen microbe strains with family members, but not unrelated people. This suggests that relatives, through touching each other or sharing the same environments, are colonized by the same microbes during their early years.
Other similar research conducted by Jacques Ravel, a University of Maryland microbiologist, shows that when microbial gut communities are steady, it is possible to monitor a person's health by analyzing stool samples each year.
Diagnostic science is new in this area and current techniques render a high error rate making it unclear if a variation in sequence is due to the presence of a new strain or a mistake in the sequencing.
In the future studies will shed more light in better understanding how gut microbes remain present in individuals throughout decades especially since the stomach cavity is continually being washed by fluid.
Somewhere in the Holy Bible, there is a phase "Beauty for Ashes." I have always loved this sentence, because it signifies that fresh new thing can be birthed out of destruction.
Agricultural and genetic scientists are talking in similar terms these days when they speak about a specialized a receptor embedded within a seed that binds to smoke molecule called karrikins. The cycle goes something like this: That karrikus smoke molecule senses and binds with the seed protein thereby stimulating new plant grow by a binding action which promotes germination in the charred nutrient-rich ashes of the burned vegetative parents.
References of a farming-related nature reveal that over a decade ago Hannes De Laneg an African researcher thought the abundant growth was due to reduced vegetative which would allow for more access to sunlight, nutrients, and growing space. He found that smoke could stimulate seeds of fire-sensitive areas.
About ten years ago researcher Gavin Flematti and colleagues from the University of Western Australia were the first to identify a potent class of smoke compounds-dubbed karrikins after an Aboriginal word for smoke, "karrik."
Years later Flematti and David Nelson, a geneticist at the University of Georgia uncovered and published works on the crystal structure of an ancient enzyme-turned-receptor called KAI2. It seems that KAI2 binds karrikins.
Finally, Joseph Noel, a biochemist at the Salk Institute puts forth the idea research the smoke sensitivity of pant evolved when plants adapted an already-existing signaling system to respond to karrikins in smoke, in order to take advantage of the nutrient-rich soil and sunny climes left over after fires.
Fleming, Nelson, Noel and others continue to conduct research to gain further insight and applicability of this new found knowledge to agriculture and other disciplines. It will be interesting to see what if any role this area of research will play in the world's food supply to address world hunger. The outcomes data could truly be a beautiful thing.
I am sure that somewhere, Alexander Graham Bell is smiling at the evolution of his telephone invention. Although he was an eminent scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator I am more than sure he could not have envisioned that his "speaking" machine would one day transmit video imagines.
Today's scientists are taking advantage of the billions of cell phones in use around the globe to help improve the quality of life for all of earth's inhabitants. The multiple uses for phones in the health care are becoming as common in underdeveloped locations as they are now in developed regions.
For example, I just recently read that the Berkeley lab of the University of California used the camera of a cell phone to snap a diagnostic -quality microscopic photo. What's even more amazing is that the photo was snapped in an underdeveloped country and transmitted to a developed country for health care improvement analysis and interventions.
This brainchild at the university comes from a bioengineer, Daniel Fletcher who put it best when he states that the need for traditional cooper wiring and infrastructures are being replaced by cellular phone technology. To put forth his belief, Fletcher designed high powered camera cell phone called "Cell-Scope".
The Cell-Scope is a modified a smart phone which can image cells with both bright-field and fluorescence techniques. The magnification and resolution is so high that it can diagnose malaria from blood samples and tuberculosis from sputum samples. Couple with image-analysis software the phone then automatically counts the number of Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacilli. The benefit to using the cell phone is that diagnosis of the disease did not require massive and expensive bench microscopes. And the advantage is that the work can be done in the field.
The cellular phone with camera and scope enhancements is changing the way health care and research works in the developed world. With ongoing innovations occurring in nano-analysis tools, the diagnosis, treatment and prevention achievements will be endless in the not too distant future.
The National Voluntary Environmental Assessment Information System (NVEAIS) is not a new fangled doodad, doohickey, or thingamajig government agency. In fact NVEAIS is the brainchild of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and will have an innovative role in detecting and educating about methods to reduce foodborne illnesses in a more expedient manner.
The CDC estimates that >9 million foodborne illnesses occur each year. The government estimates a cost of $77.7 billion in economic burdens due to foodborne pathogens.
Beginning 2014, NVEAIS is set to target these problems early and reduce the cost of intervention and treatment. If you are interested in the microbial aspects of food safety, the NVEAIS surveillance system and multiple e-Learning courses will debut in early 2014.
I like the direction in which CDC is headed in digging deeper into the underlying factors of food outbreaks. It seems that after reviewing countless public health report on foodborne outbreaks they have narrowed the probable causal agents and are looking to identify the gaps preventing the problems. Wise move, because we all know that prevention less costly than treatment in these cases.
The CDC is taking a two-pong approach to identifying and preventing outbreaks. The first step will begin in 2014 with the NVEAIS working collaboratively with schools, restaurants, hotels, manufacturers and other food enterprises to capture underlying environmental assessment data that describes what happened and how events most likely lead to a foodborne outbreak.
CDC's second step will be to provide free interactive e-Learning course that is geared toward state and local health departments to help investigate foodborne illness outbreaks in food service establishments as a member of a larger outbreak response team; to identify an outbreak's environmental causes; and to recommend appropriate control measures. These courses will be made available to both professionals and the general public.
In high school I had a friend who complained she could not lose weight because she was "big-boned." She figured her chubbiness was due to her genetic makeup. Since everyone in her family had fairly large body frames, their sizes supported her big bone heredity theory.
I remember that teenage mall shopping sprees with a bunch of teenage girls were such an ordeal for her; she was always trying to provide rationales for her size. For example, on one Saturday shopping trip she pulled from her purse a color coded weight table. Weight tables generally break weight sizes down into three categories: small, medium and large frames to determine frame size. Using the table she illustrated how her large frame was tied to her large bones. Over the years, I've lost contact with her. But I sure hope wherever she is, she will smiling at all of the beautiful plus-size models and modeling agencies that have sprouted up since our teen years.
Aside from the big-bone theory, weight loss consumes a humongous amount of human's time, across the globe. Conventional, such as diet and exercise to very unconventional methods, including tube feeding, tapeworms (which are illegal in U.S.) even binge drinking otherwise popularly known as drunkorexia.
New studies show that bacteria may play a role in determining body weigh. There has been all types of scientific hypotheses and actual evidence-based studies to explain the under weight/ over weight issues. One more recent interesting finding is one that suggests that bacteria microbes in one's intestine are tied to body weight. More specifically, it seems that research scientists have found that obesity versus leanness is linked to the type and the amount of intestinal bacteria in each individual.
With excessive weight being viewed as more of a "disease" than as the result of how many double cheeseburgers we consumer, the ground breaking research finding will shred more light on how human can perhaps win the battles against the nagging weight demons.
The media has been all the rage since the discovery that a hangover from drinking gets milder as one gets older. It seems that data from newly release studies highlight that the morning after nausea, vomiting and head throbbing symptoms decreased as ones ages. The reduction of unwanted after drinking effects seems to begin occurring in sixty year olds male and female drinkers.
The reasons for the decrease in uncomfortably have yet to be determined. Some theories put forth by biologists are older drinkers' physiology may become more tolerant of alcohol. Another theory is that the aged drinker learnt better methods to decrease adverse effects such as consuming water with drinking and/or medicate prior with drinking with aspirin.
The fact that the news press can't stop talking with glee about the fewer hangover symptoms says a lot about how society normalized and has embraced alcohol consumption. With the continued graying of citizens across the globe, this new research information holds a wealth of manufacturing marketing implications for the elderly consumers of alcohol beverages.
So, although the whys for the decrease of unwanted symptoms unknown at this research stage , the good news is that the older generation may wake up the morning after heavy drinking with headaches and nausea.
Over the last several years that has been more research studies highlighting the pros and cons of coffee drinking. Coffee consumption has been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, liver cancer, and Parkinson's disease. In addition, research conducted in Sweden disclosed that women who drank at least five cups of coffee each day lowered the risk of developing certain types of breast cancer.
One of the most recent set of research studies support that coffee drinking may help men reduce and even prevent the recurrence of prostate cancer. The studies provide clear evidence of the health benefits of this beverage consumption. It seems that in order for positive impact to occur, men must drink a minimum of four to six cups daily.
Research shows that it is the ingredient of caffeine, but rather the bioactive compounds found in coffee that is most beneficial. More precisely, the coffee blew contains both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties when accumulated within the body over time appear to be cancer fighters.
The mechanism that seems to play a role in that coffee has positive effects on glucose metabolism, testerone, and insulin levels. It is well known that insulin plays a role in prostate cancer progression.
Coffee beverage seems to have greater benefits than tea. However, what I found interesting is that some studies report it doesn't matter whether the coffee beverage is caffeinated or decaffeinated. The unwanted side effect of drinking a lot of caffeinated coffee may lead to a bit of jittery effects, but prostate cancer scientists those side effects are minute when compare with the benefits.
Agriculture scientists and oncology professionals are currently collaborating with genetically manipulating various coffee beans species for the purpose of discovering new health benefits in the fight against all types of cancerous cells.