This flexible heart patch does not need stitches

 This flexible heart patch does not need stitches (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)
Researchers have developed a new polymer patch that can be stuck onto the heart without the need for stitches to improve the conduction of electrical impulses across heart tissue damaged during a heart attack.

Heart attacks create a scar, which slows and disrupts the conduction of electrical impulses across the heart.

“This leads to potentially fatal disturbances of the heart rhythm. Our electrically conducting polymer patch is designed to address this serious problem,” said Sian Harding, Professor at Imperial College London.

The new stitch-less patch is stable and retains conductivity in physiological conditions for more than two weeks, compared with the usual one day of other designs.

“No stitches are required to attach it, so it is minimally invasive and less damaging to the heart, and it moves more closely with the heart’s motion,” said lead Damia Mawad at University of New South Wales in Sydney.

The patch is made to adhere to the heart tissue by shining a green laser on it.

The team tested the patch by implanting it into rats. They found it improved the conduction of electrical impulses across the heart scar tissue.

“We envisage heart attack patients eventually having patches attached as a bridge between the healthy and the scar tissue, to help prevent cardiac arrhythmia,” Mawad said.

“The patch can help us better understand how conductive materials interact with heart tissue and influence the electrical conduction in the heart, as well as better understand the physiological changes associated with heart attacks,” explained Molly Stevens, Professor at Imperial College London.


Use of antibiotic needs to be brought down

<p>Use of antibiotic needs to be brought down<br></p>Use of antibiotic needs to be brought down

There is an overall decline in antibiotic effectiveness across the world. While the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that antibiotic resistance is responsible for more than 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths each year in the US, the `State of the World’s Antibiotics2015′ estimates that 58,000 neonatal sepsis deaths are attributable to drug resistant infections in India alone. Director of the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center at the George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, Lance Price, says we need aggressive global reduction targets for antibiotic use in people and animals.

A recent study suggests contaminated meat may be spreading superbugs through the food chain and the environment, potentially causing hard-to-treat infections in people. Farms supplying India’s biggest poultrymeat companies routinely use antibiotics classified by the World Health Organisation as “critically important” as a way of staving off disease. You have advised Americans to stop buying animals that are being fed antibiotics to get rid of the `superbug’ syndrome. Do you think that we should switch away from animal protein to plant protein entirely because studies have shown that even farm chickens have been fed antibiotics?

I think that we need to do two things. Whenever possible, consumers should purchase meat or poultry products raised without antibiotics. In the US, consumers look for labels that read `raised without antibiotics’ or `no antibiotics ever’ to name just a few. This way we are sending a clear signal to producers and food companies that these are our preferred products.Reducing antibiotics anywhere (humans or animals) helps lessen antibiotic resistance and helps preserve the utility of our current arsenal of drugs just a little bit longer.

The second thing we need to do is set aggressive global reduction targets for antibiotic use in people and animals. It’s not enough to just rely on market forces to fix the situation we are in. The UN General Assembly unanimously supported a declaration calling for better stewardship of drugs and countries promised to put plans in place to do this. But it fell short in not setting goals for use.

What do you think is the way out of this conundrum? What are our options?

We have a way forward. Both The Netherlands and Denmark are models for the rest of the world to follow when it comes to producing lots of food animals while using very few antibiotics. What we need is the political will globally to emulate what they have been able to achieve.

Do you think drug manufacturers should be banned from selling antibiotics to poultry farms?

I think that only veterinarians should be able to prescribe antibiotics for use in farm settings. And even then, it should be under the strictest of cautions. Antibiotics should never be used as cheap production tools to grow animals faster or compensate for overcrowding or unsanitary living conditions. Antibiotics should only be prescribed if there is a known disease or exposure to disease.


Going on and off diets may make you gain weight

Going on and off diets may make you gain weight (Thinkstock Photos/Getty Images)

According to a study, repeated dieting may cause weight gaininstead of shedding extra pounds. This is due to the reason that brain interprets the diets as short famines, hence, urges to store fat for future food shortages.

“Surprisingly, our model predicts that the average weight gain for dieters will actually be greater than those who never diet,” said Andrew Higginson, Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter in England.

“This happens because non-dieters learn that the food supply is reliable so there is less need for the insurance of fat stores,” Higginson said.

The study is based on observations of animals and birds and published in the journal Evolution, Medicine and Public Health,

“Our simple model shows that weight gain does not mean that people’s physiology is malfunctioning or that they are being overwhelmed by unnaturally sweet tastes,” Professor John McNamara of the University of Bristol in England said.

“The brain could be functioning perfectly, but uncertainty about the food supply triggers the evolved response to gain weight,” McNamara noted.

So how should people try to lose weight?

“The best thing for weight loss is to take it steady. Our work suggests that eating only slightly less than you should, all the time, and doing physical exercise is much more likely to help you reach a healthy weight than going on low-calorie diets,” Higginson pointed out.


Eating saturated fat could actually be good for you

For a balanced diet - Eating saturated fat could actually be good for you

For a balanced diet – Eating saturated fat could actually be good for you
Consuming saturated fat may actually be good for you, claims a new study that challenges the long held belief that dietary fat is unhealthy for most people.

In a randomised controlled trial conducted by researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway , 38 men with abdominal obesity followed a dietary pattern high in either carbohydrates or fat, of which about half was saturated. Fat mass in the abdominal region, liver and heart was measured with accurate analyses, along with a number of key risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

“The very high intake of total and saturated fat did not increase the calculated risk of cardiovascular diseases,” said professor Ottar Nygard. “Participants on the very-high-fat diet also had substantial improvements in important cardio metabolic risk factors, such as ectopic fat storage, blood pressure, blood lipids (triglycerides), insulin and blood sugar,” said Nygard.

Both groups had similar intakes of energy , proteins, polyunsaturated fatty acids; the food types were the same, varied mainly in quantity , while the intake of added sugar was minimised. “Our findings indicate that the overriding principle of a healthy diet is not the quantity of fat or carbohydrates, but the quality of the foods we eat,” said PhD candidate Johnny Laupsa-Borge.


How to reduce blood pressure

How to reduce blood pressure

Ah, blood pressure, and those tiny pills that you take from those tiny boxes to battle a not-so-tiny problem. Of all the diseases that nutrition can help with, high BP is the one of the most responsive. Do it right and you can significantly reduce, delay or completely eliminate the need for medication.

The most obvious and significant way to do this would be to lose weight. There is a strong correlation between a decrease in weight and a decrease in blood pressure. While healthy weight loss and its methodologies have been consistently outlined in these pages, why not…

…Eat A Healthy Hypertensive Healing Diet

A diet high in whole grains, fruits, veggies, and low in saturated fats and cholesterol, has been known to lower your BP by up to 14 mm Hg. This particular combination known as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is geared towards managing the condition and reducing weight, thereby killing two hypertensive birds with one stone. While you are including more of the above in your diet, don’t forget to…

…Boost Potassium

Potassium works to lower the impact of sodium on blood pressure. Fruits (plums, musk melons, banana) and veggies (spinach, avocado, mushroom) are great sources of this mineral, and are better than supplements as an overdose of potassium from natural sources is rare. You also have to remember to…

…Reduce Sodium

Even a minimal reduction in sodium can lower your BP by 2-8 mm Hg. While the maximum grammage of sodium will be indicated by your doctor, it still lurks in shadowy corners of the foods we sometimes eat, especially in processed foods. Only small amounts of sodium are found in natural foods. Processed foods are sometimes loaded with it. It’s best to avoid processed foods as much as possible if you are a BP patient. While you are at it…

…Read Your Food Labels

Monitor sodium intake, saturated fats and cholesterol, among other things. Read the fine print; it could be crucial to your health.

Limit The Alcohol

If you limit your alcohol intake, you’ll reduce your BP by 2-4 mm Hg. But this phenomenon could be altogether reversed if you drink too much: by that I mean no more than 350 ml of beer, about 145 ml of wine or about 30 ml of 80-proof liquor per day. And since we are on the subject of alcohol, please…

…Quit Smoking

There’s absolutely nothing to benefit from here. Even one cigarette can increase your BP for minutes after you have finished. And if you are a coffee-and-cigarette lover, you’ll also have to…

…Watch Your Caffeine

While the effect of caffeine on BP is questionable, there’s still a link. The best way would be to check your BP within 30 minutes of drinking caffeine. If your BP has increased by 5-10 mm Hg, you may be sensitive to caffeine. Lastly, while it’s not strictly nutritional advice…

…don’t forget to Exercise

Working out for about 30 minutes every day can bring down your BP by an additional 4-9 mm Hg. Cardiovascular exercises work best – walking, jogging, cycling, dancing or swimming.


How you can eat to lose weight

Eat to lose weight

Good news for all those trying to lose those extra kilos: You needn’t starve to get thin. For what its worth, those extra inches around your belly may not always be fat. Forget crash/fad diets, read on to know how you can beat the bulge by eating (right).


Dietician Suraj Bisht suggests the first step to weight loss is to figure out the reason for it. Most of the people he consults suffer from gastric problems like constipation and indigestion and many a time bloating is a result of that. One of the most common reasons for bloating is eating breakfast and dinner as main meals but staying pretty much hungry or eating a small fried snack in the evening. His advice: Kickstart your metabolism by eating at least six small meals a day rather than skipping meals, which further aggravates the problem.


Bloating also occurs due to vitamin D deficiency or hypothyroidism. Get it checked before you decide on a diet. Weight gain could also be due to lack of fibre in your diet, excess of grains (chapattis and bread) in your diet or just eating more starchy foods. “Sometimes it’s actually important to add useful fats like ghee in your diet as you don’t want to deprive your body of any important nutrient,” he says.

Nutrition experts advice following the six-meal rule for beating bloat. To follow it, eat at an interval of every two hours. Start with breakfast, follow it with snacks and eat a proper lunch followed by snacks again. End your day with dinner – preferably three hours before going to bed. Drinking green tea after every main meal is a good idea, as it boosts metabolism and aids digestion.

Try this

Mix 1 tsp ajwain in 1 glass of lukewarm water and drink it first thing in the morning to cure stomach bloating.

Mix a pinch of cinnamon, black pepper, haldi and ½ tsp ginger powder in a glass of lukewarm water – drink on an empty stomach.

Soak a piece ginger, lemon, cucumber and some parsley (or coriander) in water overnight. Drink this at least three times a day as a cleanse. Many a time bloating around the belly could just be food lining the intestines.


The many benefits of eggplant

Purple Power

1. It is versatile – stuff it, mash it, bake it, fry it, grill it. Rustle up a baba ganoush, a classic ratatouille, eggplant chips or a desi bharta.

2. It’s only 35 calories per cup, thanks to its high fibre and water content.

3. Most middle-eastern and Italian recipes involve cooking whole aubergines (with peel), which is healthier since most of the antioxidants are wrapped in its purple skin.

4. Ayurveda recommends eggplant for curing insomnia and other sleep disorders.

5. Research shows aubergines can lower ‘bad’ cholesterol, provided you bake or grill them.

6. For centuries, eggplants have been used for controlling and managing diabetes, thanks to its high fibre and low carb content.

7. Purple fruits and veggies like beetroot, blueberries, plums and brinjals contain anthocyanin (which provides their colour) – a powerful antioxidant.

8. Eggplant works well as a complementary ingredient, balancing and enhancing the surrounding flavours of the dish.

9. Since eggplants contain almost no fat or cholesterol, it is healthy for people trying to lose weight.

10. Eggplants also have significant amounts of iron and calcium, which are integral to bone health and overall strength.


4 Incredible Benefits of Pear (Nashpati)

4 Incredible Benefits of Pear (Nashpati)A typical fruit of temperate regions, pears have been one of the world’s oldest cultivated produce, given their versatility and long storage life. It has its origin and domestication at two different regions, China and the Middle East. At present, Oregon and Washington are regarded as highly specialised regions that support pears, with more than 1,600 pear growers.

The Chinese merchants brought this delicious delight to Amritsar’s village Harsa Chhina in around 120-170 AD. The nomenclature can be attributed to Latin words ‘pera’ or ‘pira’, with some variants like the French ‘poire’, German ‘peer’, and Greek ‘acras’ (wild type) and ‘apios’ (cultivated type).

Known as ‘patharnakh’ in Punjab, it has become a commercial fruit crop of the state. In Himachal Pradesh and UP, the fruit is cultivated under the name of ‘gola pear’. India’s pear season lasts from late summer to early winter.

Benefits of Adding Pear in Your Daily Diet

Many studies have associated an increased intake of plant-based foods like pears with reduced adverse health conditions. Some remarkable benefits of this close ‘cousin’ of apple are –

1. Helps in Weight Loss
Pear, because of its low caloric value, is good to include in your diet aimed at shedding weight. It keeps you fuller for a longer because it has extremely high fiber content, especially at the centre, which gives excellent results in combating constipation and digestive issues as well. Just one medium pear provides 6 grams of fiber, about 24% of the daily need for a woman under 50, as per The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Institute of Medicine (2001) reports.

2. Prevents Cancer
“Being a rich source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A, pear acts an as antioxidant against free radicals in the body. The latter, if intensified in quantity, can lead to cancer,” says Dr. Anju Sood, a Bangalore-based nutritionist.

3. Combats Cardiovascular Diseases
Pear is loaded with minerals like sodium and potassium. These are vital for improving blood circulation and strengthening the heart muscles. The fiber brings downs blood sugar and cholesterol levels, keeping the heart in a good working condition.

4. Reduced Risk of Colitis
This condition, marked by intestinal inflammation is once again relieved by the high fiber quantity found in pears. “The colon trouble can be cured in one week by taking half a kilogram of fresh pears before all three main meals. However, before eating the fruit, the skin should be peeled off,” says Dr. Sood.

Tips on Buying
Look for pears that are firm, but not too hard. The skin should be smooth, free of mold. The brown-speckled patches usually reflect a more intense flavour. The punctured ones with dark spots need to be avoided. One might also come across fully ripe pears at the marketplace. One way to determine this is by gently squeezing the fruit’s top area, near the stem. If that spot gives in to pressure, the pear is probably ripe enough to consume. In case of squishy flesh, the pear is overripe. These can be used only in cooking recipes rather than eaten raw.


Use Nutrition to Ward off Winter Blues

Use Nutrition to Ward off Winter Blues

Physical disorders can negatively affect a person’s mental condition, so experts recommend ingesting sufficient nutrients to stimulate the brain and other parts of the body to maintain mental health.

Vitamins tend to be a doctor’s first recourse as nutrients that are good for improving mental condition. A number of studies have established that vitamin D and folic acid help deal with depression.

Vitamin D is produced when provitamin D, a substance contained in the skin, is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. In winter, when exposure to sunlight is shorter, it’s easy to suffer from insufficient vitamin D.

In regions where sunshine is extremely limited in winter, the number of people suffering from depression increases until early spring. Hiroshi Kunugi, director of the Department of Mental Disorder Research of the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, has written books about the issue, including “Kokoro ni Kiku Seishin Eiyogaku” (Nutrition effective for mental health).

“The theory that a shortage of vitamin D is related to [depression] is widely supported,” Kunugi said. “It is also believed that vitamin D improves the functions of neural transmitter substances inside the brain, and works to protect it.” Mushrooms and seafood are rich in vitamin D. Folic acid – a kind of vitamin which is found in large quantities in spinach – has received attention for its benefits for prevention and treatment of depression.

Insufficient folic acid is known to cause such ailments as anemia, and is believed to increase the risk of depression. It is also related to the syntheses of neural transmitter substances, including dopamine and serotonin.

According to researchers, the level of folic acid in the blood of people with depression tends to be lower than that in healthy people. Natto and liver are also rich in folic acid. An appropriate intake of folic acid is also possible through proper use of commercially available supplements.

In addition to vitamins, the nutrient iron, a major mineral, is also essential for maintaining mental health. Iron is vital to producing hemoglobin, which transfers oxygen in the blood. If there is insufficient iron, this function of hemoglobin weakens, and less oxygen is carried around the body. This causes iron-deficiency anemia.

Brain function is also affected. Iron deficiency can cause a syndrome in which sufferers feel pain, itching and other senses of discomfort in their legs whenever they lie down. Some people experience sleep disorders due to the symptoms. There are also cases in which sufferers develop symptoms similar to depression, such as frustration, lack of concentration and loss of interest or attention.

Liver, red meat and fish contain a lot of iron. Women tend to suffer an iron deficiency when they menstruate. Among women in their 30s to 40s, more than 20 percent are estimated to have low levels of hemoglobin. It is believed that some cases of postpartum depression, in which women develop such symptoms as depression just after childbirth, are related to a shortage of iron.
“Postpartum depression is caused by changes in hormone balance, and environmental and various other factors,” Kunugi said. “An iron deficiency is assumed to be one of them. There aren’t many cases in which an increase of iron totally cures postpartum depression, but it’s worthwhile taking a blood test to check it out.”

Internal organs build up iron reserves. If an iron deficiency lasts too long, reserves begin to decrease. Iron reserves can be measured by examining serum ferritin levels in the blood. However, excessive iron will adversely affect the internal organs and the health will suffer. A blood test is useful to determine the proper iron intake level.

A serum ferritin test is not included in ordinary health checkups, so you need to consult a doctor if you want to have your blood tested. There is a theory that the brain and intestines affect each other, so if the intestines are healthy so is the brain.

Recent research points to the possibility that enterobacteriaceae, or the intestinal bacterial group, affects the brain via the intestines, and vice versa. Irritable bowel syndrome clearly shows that mental stress affects the intestines. Sufferers develop such symptoms as abdominal pains when boarding an overcrowded train.

Although there is no problem with the intestinal tract, sufferers feel abdominal pains or have loose bowels when they become tense. They also may suffer from constipation or a distended abdomen over a long period. It is said that 10 percent to 15 percent of adults suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.

It has become widely known that sufferers have an intestinal bacterial imbalance in many cases. “There’s a report saying that inside the intestines of patients with irritable bowel syndrome, beneficial bacteria such as bifidus have decreased, or detrimental bacteria such as clostridium have increased,” Kunugi said. “If the intestinal bacterial imbalance worsens, abdominal pains and other symptoms will occur more often. With increasing stress, the intestinal bacterial balance will deteriorate further. Patients could fall into a vicious cycle.”

The condition of intestinal bacteria could be related to depression symptoms.One report said people who had ingested lactic acid bacteria and bifidus for a month showed a clear reduction of depression or anxiety, compared to those who had not done so.

To maintain a healthy, stress-free condition, it is important to consume fermented food containing lactic acid bacteria. “I hope that people consume nutritious food that contains beneficial bacteria, such as dietary fiber and oligosaccharides,” Kunugi said.


Handful of Nuts Daily May Cut Risk of Heart Disease & Cancer

Handful of Nuts Daily May Cut Risk of Heart Disease & Cancer
Eating at least 20 gram of nuts every day may reduce the risk of a wide range of diseases including heart disease and cancer, a new research has found. A handful of nuts daily may cut the risk of coronary heart disease by nearly 30 per cent, the risk of cancer by 15 per cent, and the risk of premature death by 22 per cent, the study said.

The study included all kinds of tree nuts, such as hazel nuts and walnuts, and also peanuts which are actually legumes. The results, published in the journal BMC Medicine, were in general similar whether total nut intake, tree nuts or peanuts were analysed.

What makes nuts so beneficial is their nutritional value, said study co-author Dagfinn Aune from Imperial College London. “Nuts and peanuts are high in fibre, magnesium, and polyunsaturated fats. These nutrients that are beneficial for cutting cardiovascular disease risk and which can reduce cholesterol levels,” Aune said. “Some nuts, particularly walnuts and pecan nuts are also high in antioxidants, which can fight oxidative stress and possibly reduce cancer risk,” Aune explained.

The research team analysed 29 published studies from around the world that involved up to 819,000 participants, including more than 12,000 cases of coronary heart disease, 9,000 cases of stroke, 18,000 cases of cardiovascular disease and cancer, and more than 85,000 deaths.
While there was some variation between the populations that were studied, such as between men and women, people living in different regions, or people with different risk factors, the researchers found that nut consumption was associated with a reduction in disease risk across most of them.

“Even though nuts are quite high in fat, they are also high in fibre and protein, and there is some evidence that suggests nuts might actually reduce your risk of obesity over time,” Aune said. The study also found that if people consumed on average more than 20 gram of nuts per day, there was little evidence of further improvement in health outcomes.