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Latest News
Gut Bacteria Can Cause Obesity

According to a new study, if not regulated properly, the bacteria in our gut responsible for helping in food digestion, could also cause the body to put on weight if they are not properly regulated, a new study has found. The study published in the journal Science said this occurs when the wrong types of bacteria take over causing low-level inflammation, leading to a pre-diabetic condition and an elevated appetite, Senior author Andrew Gewirtz of Emory University School of Medicine said in the developed world, it is assumed an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and abundance of low cost, high calorie foods are responsible for the obesity epidemic. But, the study’s finding suggest excess caloric consumption is not the result of undisciplined eating, rather it is intestinal bacteria contributing to changes in appetite and metabolism. Gewirtz and fellow researchers studied genetically engineered mice deficient in a key immune system protein i. e. TLR5 that help cells sense bacterial presence, which protein serves in the capacity of the intestinal community’s neighbourhood cop. It knows exactly which bacteria needs keeping in check, and without applying too much force, it also ensures the good bacteria are not harmed. While, even without TLR5 the immune system can continue bacteria regulation, the job is not done as thoroughly and properly as it should be done. The result is that bacterial composition changes and low level inflammation sets in, desentizing insulin receptors. Mice deficient in the protein ate 10% more food, ending up 20% heavier than normal mice, including developing metabolic syndrome i.e. a cluster of disorders which in humans increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. While, the weight of mice could be regulated by restricting their food intake, they continued to show a decreased sensitivity to insulin. Gewirtz says this suggests some portion of obesity could be the result of insulin resistance rather than type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance being a consequence of obesity. The researchers also discovered, when these bacteria were transferred to the intestines of mice not deficient in the protein, but whose intestines had been cleared of all other bacteria, they also developed metabolic syndrome. However, intestinal bacterial populations acquired at birth are fairly stable in humans, however, diet and anti-biotics can influence them, which other studies indicate is happening as a result of improvements in sanitation and widespread anti-biotic usage.

H1N1 Virus Prevalence Decreasing

Attending a Centre for Disease Control and Prevention meeting last week, William Schaffner, Vanderbilt University Medical Centre’s Chair of Preventative Medicine asked virologist Nancy Cox, who is also the Chief of the Influenza Division regarding not seeing an upsurge of traditional influence virus in February and March. To which, Nancy Cox replied that everyone was surprised, as the least predictable of respiratory illnesses, one cannot predict influenza at all, only keep up. With an abundance of H1N1 vaccines that no one wants, there is a scarcity of seasonal flu vaccines, indicating the worst of H1N1 may have passed. With each passing day, Schaffner said he becomes more confident the virus is waning, with the worst clearly over. Often the flu season lasts through March and April, which means getting vaccinated now offers protection for the rest of the season, including preventing the spread of influlenza. And, with plenty of the H1N1 vaccine available, with many places offering it free of cost, it would also be a good idea to get oneself vaccinated against the H1N1 virus. Like seasonal flu, H1N1 influenza can make one very sick, including hospitalisation, particularly for those with certain health conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart problems.

Better Diabetes Blood Test

According to a new study, there may be a better method for diabetes screening than the current one which necessitates patients going for hours without eating to take a fasting blood-sugar test. It seems doctors have found a different kind of blood test, involving measuring long-term sugar control, which is a far superior screening tool for diabetes. There are 24 million Americans who have diabetes, with a quarter unaware they have the condition. It is vitally important for at-risk patients to undergo diabetes screening, as if left untreated, diabetes can cause heart disease, nerve damage, and premature death. However, new research indicates the fasting glucose test, which is the gold standard screening test for diabetes, is not the best option. Patients refrain from eating anything for a minimum of 8 hours before their blood sugar level are measured. It is less effective than the A1C test, which can be done at any time and which offers a long-term picture of patients’ blood-sugar levels. Doctors studying 11,000 adult participants found their A1C test results to be related closely to their future odds of heart disease and diabetes, as the highest A1C readings indicated nearly double the risk for heart problems and 16 times the risk for diabetes, but the fasting glucose test had no relation to heart & diabetes risk. There is convincing evidence researchers of the A1C test being far superior for diagnosing diabetes. The A1C test measures the persons’ blood sugar levels over the past two or three months i. e. it measures the percentage of haemoglobin that is glycated or glycosylated. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has set the levels for pre-diabetes at 5.7 - 6.4% and 6.5% and higher for a diagnosis of diabetes.

Fit Or Fiction: Strengthening Knees on a Budget

For years runners have been told that hitting the pavement is tough on knees, and for sore knees rest not more exercise is recommended for a fast recovery. However, it seems both suggestions are outdated, as research increasingly points to exercise being good for your knees, with doctors recommending exercise in some cases to get rid of persistent pain in the knee. Between 1984 and 2002, researchers from the Stanford University tracked 98 runners and non-runners regarding their knee health. A comparison of imaging scans of the knee joint when the study began to when it ended revealed runners’ knees were none the worse for wear than of non- runners. Another piece of good news is that the amount of mileage runners accumulate is not a factor in knee pain. A long-term study that followed participants for 40-years there to be no difference in the knee health of runners logging 40 miles a week, as compared to those who ran 20 miles a week. Another study that compared the runners’ knees to those of swimmers found no difference reported in knee pain levels, despite a vast difference in weight bearing and impact stress in the two sports. As well, there seems to be little negative effect on the knee from running in the short term, as MRIs taken before and after a 42-kilometre marathon revealed no severe damage to knee cartilage, ligaments or bone marrow. Even more encouraging is the study’s finding that rather than injuring or prematurely ageing the knees, pounding the pavement could actually improve knee health. A Dutch study looking at two groups of knee pain sufferers, had one as part of rehabilitation take part in a supervised exercise programme, while the other group performed standard exercises at home on their own. On examining the two groups 3 months and 12 months later, a greater reduction in joint pain and a greater degree of improved function was reported by the supervised group of exercisers, when compared to the control group. There is also a school of thought that suggests running conditions the cartilage, so that it becomes more resilient and less prone to everyday activity stress. However, all exercise is not knee-friendly, soccer players, alpine skiers and football players all suffer from a higher-than-normal rate of osteoarthritis i. e. thinning of the joint cartilage causing bone surfaces to rub against each other. There is a high incidence of knee injury in contact sports, which is why some athletes develop osteoarthritis later in life.

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