How to choose low glycemic index (GI) foods? A GI ‘glossary’ of Asian foods released

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Professor Christiani Jeyakumar Henry, Senior Advisor of Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation (SIFBI), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and his team have developed a Glycemic Index (GI) glossary of non-Western foods. The research paper was published in Nutrition & Diabetes on 6 Jan 2021.

Observational studies have shown that the consumption of low glycemic index (GI) foods is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), significantly less insulin resistance and a lower prevalence of the metabolic syndrome. However, most published GI values focus on Western foods with minimal inclusion of other foods from non-Western countries, hence their application is of limited global use.

The team’s comprehensive study provides the GI values for a variety of foods that are consumed in non-Western countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India, China, Japan, South Korea, Middle East and more. The review extends and expands on the current GI tables to widen its application globally. The GI data compiled consists of both single and mixed meals. This is a major advance to many GI tables that have focused on single foods. Mixed meals in Asia are complex in relation to ingredients used and taste. Given the complexity, the inclusion of the GI of mixed meals is a major advantage. It is hoped that this compendium will highlight ways to reduce the GI of carbohydrate-rich staples and enhance the use of GI tables for a worldwide audience.


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Austria plans vaccine drive in area hit by SA virus variant

Austria plans vaccine drive in area hit by SA virus variant

Austrian officials said Wednesday that they plan to offer vaccinations to most residents in a district that has seen significant numbers of infections with the South African coronavirus variant.

Tyrol province’s Schwaz district, east of the provincial capital of Innsbruck and home to about 84,000 people, has been a source of concern for weeks.

Schwaz accounts for 66 of 88 currently active confirmed cases of the more transmissible variant in the province, the Austria Press Agency reported.

The plan announced Wednesday calls for a vaccination drive starting next week. Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said the rollout will see vaccinations offered to all aged 16 and over.

APA reported that from around March 10, coinciding with the start of the drive and until it is complete, people will be required to get a negative coronavirus test before they could leave the Schwaz district.

The plan “is our opportunity to eliminate the variant in the Schwaz district,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said. He said numbers of active cases have already fallen.

The variant first identified in South Africa is a source of particular concern because of doubts over whether all vaccines currently available are fully effective against it.

Austrian officials said they have been able to bring forward the delivery of 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for Tyrol in cooperation with the European Union’s executive Committee and the manufacturers.

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Tips to help you fall asleep again if you wake up in the middle of the night

There are few things more infuriating that waking up in the small hours of the morning just to find it impossible to get back to sleep.

No matter how much you toss and turn, you could very well still be awake by the time your alarm goes off, despite waking up at 1am.

Though many people describe this sensation as fully-fledged insomnia, that's not strictly correct – always waking up in the middle of the night is a condition doctors call “sleep maintenance insomnia".

But fear not – there are a number of techniques you can deploy to try and restore some balance to your sleep schedule, here they are listed below.

1. Don't focus on the time

More often than not, people wake up in the middle of the night because they are anxious about something, maybe it is an event happening later that day? Don't stress further by watching the clock slowly count down, this will only reduce your chances of falling back to sleep.

Try to refrain from looking at your phone and if you have an alarm clock, turn it so it is facing away from you. Stressing over the time is a sure-fire way to ruin your chances of a good night's sleep.

2. Limit blue light exposure and reduce screen-time before bed

Though many people find that their bedtime routine involves scrolling mindlessly through Twitter, the blue light emitted by your phone can present a dilemma for the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that controls the body's sleep cycle.

  • Lockdown 'knocking years off children's lives by turning them into insomniacs'

Try to put your phone to one side an hour before you go to bed, or if you can't fathom that, at least dim the level of brightness on the screen and reduce the blue light emissions.

This will help your brain have a chance of producing the melatonin necessary to drift off naturally.

3. Relax your muscles and your mind

A fairly obvious piece of advice, but it can be a lot harder than it sounds. Knowing you need to relax does not actually trigger the sensation in your body for you, you need to fight against your body's own wishes to try and fall back into a state of slumber.

There are a number of exercises you can do to help relax your body and increase your chances of sleep, such as deep breathing exercises, counting backwards, or a muscle relaxation routine to name but a few.

4. Get up, leave the room and then try sleeping again

A lot of sleep experts claim that if you have tried and failed to get to sleep for more than 20 minutes, you should get up, go somewhere else in your home, and do something soothing.

That could be anything from completing a crossword, to reading a book or even listening to a podcast, just anything that might make your body relaxed/tired again.

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Some experts suggest deliberately choosing an activity you find boring, as you are more likely to fall asleep doing something you find dull rather than an activity that stimulates you.

However, this all MUST be done in another room, as Luis F. Buenaver, a professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Johns Hopkins explained that if you do this while remaining in bed, it “will lead your brain and body to associate your bed with wakefulness instead of with sleep”.

5. Don't drink alcohol before bed

Even just one glass of alcohol can have an adverse effect on your chances of achieving sustained sleep. Even though alcohol is a depressant that slows brain activity, leading you to feel slow and heavy – it can actually have the opposite effect once you've fallen asleep.

Mayo Clinic neurologist Bhanu Kolla told CNN: "As alcohol is metabolized it forms acetaldehyde which is stimulating. Therefore if you drink too much alcohol right before going to bed, in about four hours it is converted to aldehyde which can disrupt sleep and wake you up."

Attempting either just one or a few of these tips will slowly but surely help you build a bedtime routine that guarantees a successful night's sleep.

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Provider teams outperform solo care for new-onset chronic disease

Provider teams outperform solo care for new-onset chronic disease

(HealthDay)—Provider teams outperform solo providers for management of three new-onset chronic diseases, while among solo providers, care management and outcome differ little between physicians and nonphysicians, according to a report published in the March issue of Health Affairs.

Maximilian J. Pany, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues used electronic health record data from U.S. primary care practices to examine how care management and biomarker outcomes after new onset of three chronic diseases (type 2 diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension) differed by team-based versus solo care and by care from a physician versus nonphysician (nurse practitioner and physician assistant).

The researchers found that irrespective of the team composition, provider teams outperformed solo providers. When receiving an abnormal biomarker result, provider teams submitted diagnostic claims at significantly higher rates than solo providers for type 2 diabetes mellitus and hypertension, but at similar rates for hyperlipidemia. Provider teams were also more likely than solo providers to have patients whose disease was under control for all three chronic diseases. Among solo providers, there was little meaningful difference in performance for physicians and nonphysicians.

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Nanoparticle-delivered COVID-19 vaccine candidate shows promise in preclinical studies

Nanoparticle-delivered COVID-19 vaccine candidate shows promise in preclinical studies

Researchers from Cleveland Clinic’s Global Center for Pathogen Research & Human Health have developed a promising new COVID-19 vaccine candidate that utilizes nanotechnology and has shown strong efficacy in preclinical disease models.

According to new findings published in mBio, the vaccine produced potent neutralizing antibodies among preclinical models and also prevented infection and disease symptoms in the face of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). An additional reason for the vaccine candidate’s early appeal is that it may be thermostable, which would make it easier to transport and store than currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines.

“Our vaccine candidate delivers antigens to trigger an immune response via nanoparticles engineered from ferritin—a protein found in almost all living organisms,” said Jae Jung, Ph.D., director of the Global Center for Human Health & Pathogen Research and co-senior author on the study. “This protein is an attractive biomaterial for vaccine and drug delivery for many reasons, including that it does not require strict temperature control.”

Added Dokyun (Leo) Kim, a graduate student in Dr. Jung’s lab and co-first author on the study, “This would dramatically ease shipping and storage constraints, which are challenges we’re currently experiencing in national distribution efforts. It would also be beneficial for distribution to developing countries.”

Other benefits of the protein nanoparticles include minimizing cellular damage and providing stronger immunity at lower doses than traditional protein subunit vaccines against other viruses, like influenza.

The team’s vaccine uses the ferritin nanoparticles to deliver tiny, weakened fragments from the region of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that selectively binds to the human entry point for the virus (this fragment is called the receptor-binding domain, or RBD). When the SARS-CoV-2 RBD binds with the human protein called ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2), the virus can enter host cells and begin to replicate.

The researchers tested their vaccine candidate on a ferret model of COVID-19, which reflects the human immune response and disease development better than other preclinical models. Dr. Jung, a foremost authority in virology and virus-induced cancers, previously developed the world’s first COVID-19 ferret model—a discovery that has significantly advanced research into SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission.

In this study, the researchers administered an initial dose of the vaccine candidate followed by two booster vaccines given 14 and 28 days later. One group received the vaccines intramuscularly, while another group received them both intramuscularly and intranasally.

After the second booster, all vaccinated models produced strong neutralizing antibodies. This suggests that repeated exposure to the RBD antigen successfully prepared the immune systems to rapidly fight the virus.

A few days after the second booster (31 days after the initial vaccine dose), the researchers exposed the models to high concentrations of SARS-CoV-2. Compared to the placebo group that received adjuvant-only vaccines (adjuvants are added ingredients that help vaccines work better), those that received the RBD-nanoparticle vaccine were better protected from clinical symptoms and lung damage associated with infection. The findings suggest the vaccine candidate helped prevent infection and serious disease.

Combination intramuscular and intranasal immunization showed more potent protective immunity and faster viral clearance than intramuscular immunization alone. Both were significantly more effective than the adjuvant-only vaccine. More research will be important to uncover the mechanisms behind these differential benefits.

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A new blindness gene uncovered in a canine study

A new blindness gene uncovered in a canine study

Inherited retinal dystrophy is a common cause of blindness, with as many as two million people suffering from the disorder globally. No effective treatment is available for retinal dystrophies. Gene therapy is expected to offer a solution, but developing such therapies is possible only when the genetic cause of the disease is known. Related mutations have been identified in more than 70 genes so far, but the genetic background of the disease remains unknown in as many as half of the patients.

“Retinal dystrophy has been described in over 100 dog breeds, with related investigations helping to identify new genes associated and pathogenic mechanisms with blindness across different breeds. IFT122 is a good example, offering a potential explanation for unsolved human cases as well,” Professor Hannes Lohi states.

Data encompassing more than a thousand Lapponian Herders and Finnish Lapphunds from a canine DNA bank were utilized in the study. Previously, several retinal dystrophy genes have been described in both breeds.

“Among other finds, two eye disease genes have previously been identified in Lapponian Herders, but they have not accounted for all cases. In some dogs, the disease is caused by the IFT122 gene. The finding is significant since gene tests can now distinguish between retinal dystrophies associated with different genes in breeds, which makes a difference in monitoring disease progression, making prognoses, and developing novel treatments. Diagnostics are getting better and making the job of veterinarians easier,” explains Maria Kaukonen, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

The gene discovery also facilitates the understanding of retinal biology. IFT122 is part of a protein complex linked with ciliary function in the retina.

“The age of onset varies, and the disease progresses slowly in some dogs. IFT122 is known to contribute to the transport of opsin in photoreceptor cells. The gene variant disturbs this transport and results in progressive blinding. Since IFT122 is associated with cilia’s function, which is important to the body, we studied some of the dogs even more closely with regard to other issues potentially linked with cilia-related disturbances, such as renal abnormalities or serious developmental disorders of the internal organs. We found that the damage seems to be limited to the retina alone. This information helps us understand the gene’s mechanisms of action,” Kaukonen adds.

The findings are also significant for further plans to remove the disease from different breeds. In the Lapponian Herders and Finnish Lapphunds, the share of individuals carrying the gene variant was 28% and 12%, respectively.

“This is a recessively inherited disease, which means that a dog that will become blind inherits the variant from both parents, who are both carriers of the variant. Gene testing can help avoid carrier-carrier combinations, easily preventing the birth of sick dogs. A new concrete tool has been developed based on the study for the benefit of breeders,” says Lohi.

The new study is part of a broader research project on the genetic background of inherited diseases by Professor Lohi’s research group. Kaukonen recently transferred to a research group active at the University of Oxford, focusing on developing gene therapies for retinal dystrophy. At the same time, Kaukonen and Lohi are continuing close collaboration to survey a range of eye diseases together with the Helsinki University Hospital and other operators.

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Layperson-delivered phone intervention eases loneliness for at-risk adults

Layperson-delivered phone intervention eases loneliness for at-risk adults

(HealthDay)—A layperson-delivered telephone intervention can reduce loneliness, depression, and anxiety among at-risk adults, according to a study published online Feb. 23 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Maninder K. Kahlon, Ph.D., from the University of Texas at Austin, and colleagues examined whether a layperson-delivered, empathy-focused program of telephone calls could improve loneliness, depression, and anxiety in at-risk adults. A total of 240 adults were recruited from July 6 to Sept. 24, 2020, and were assigned to receive calls (intervention group) or no calls (control group). Validated scales were used to measure loneliness, depression, and anxiety at enrollment and after four weeks. The calls were made by 16 callers, aged 17 to 23 years, who were briefly trained in empathetic conversational techniques.

Of the 240 participants, 13 and one in the intervention and control arms, respectively, were lost to follow-up. The researchers found that after four weeks, postassessment differences between the intervention and control groups showed an improvement of 1.1 on the University of California Loneliness Scale and improvement of 0.32 on De Jong for loneliness; there were also improvements of 1.5 on the Personal Health Questionnaire for Depression and 1.8 on the Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale. No change was seen on general physical health on the Short Form Health Questionnaire Survey, while mental health improved by 2.6.

“A four-week, telephone-based, empathy-focused program delivered during the summer of 2020 reduced loneliness, depression, and anxiety in homebound, largely single, adults,” the authors write.

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Halsey Asks Why People Need to 'Pass Judgment' on Her Pregnancy Choices (Welcome to Motherhood!)

Pop star Halsey has always been vocal about her struggle with endometriosis and how that has affected her hopes and plans for becoming a mother. It’s a topic that she has heartbreakingly touched upon in her music and in a famous 2016 Rolling Stone interview, where she detailed a miscarriage that occurred shortly before she was set to perform on stage. So when Halsey and her boyfriend Alev Aydin announced they were expecting their first child in January, the mom-to-be was ecstatic about sharing her news. But now, Halsey is clapping back at online speculation about her pregnancy.

“[W]hy is it ok to speculate and pass judgment about fertility and conception?” she wrote on a recent Instagram story. “My pregnancy was 100% planned, and I tried very hard for this bb.” She added, “But I would be just as happy even if it were another way.”

Welcome to motherhood, Halsey — where people feel free to judge your every move! It’s not okay — at all — but it happens, and we so understand her frustration, especially considering the emotional and physical journey she’s been on already.

Per People, in her album notes for Manic she shared that she had considered freezing her eggs and underwent many surgeries to treat her endometriosis. She also explained the emotional journey that came with her reproductive illness. 

“I’ve been really open about my struggles with reproductive health, about wanting to freeze my eggs and having endometriosis and things like that,” Halsey wrote. “For a long time, I didn’t think that having a family was something I was going to be able to do, and it’s very, very important to me.

“Then one day my OB-GYN tells me it’s looking like I maybe can, and I was so moved. It felt like this ascension into a different kind of womanhood,” Halsey explained. “All of a sudden, everything is different. I’m not going to go tour myself to death because I have nothing else to do and I’m overcompensating for not being able to have this other thing that I really want. Now, I have a choice. I’ve never had a choice before.”

 

These other famous parents have been open about suffering miscarriages.

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Amy Schumer Jokes She Is ‘Doing Really Well’ without Childcare in Messy Kitchen Video

Amy Schumer is still getting used to life without a nanny.

On Monday night, the comedian, 39, shared a hilariously relatable video from her messy kitchen, joking that she and her husband Chris Fischer were "rocking" life as parents without childcare.

"Yeah, actually, like we were worried about not having childcare but we're actually like doing really well — and I think we're a lot more capable of a lot more than we realized we were," Schumer said sarcastically while standing in the middle of a cluttered kitchen as her husband recorded her.

In the video, the couple's kitchen is visibly littered with containers of baby food, dirty dishes, and bottles, as trash overflows on the counter.

RELATED: Amy Schumer Says She's 'Evolved to Having No Child Care' After Nanny Jane Leaves: 'Any Tips?'

"All this helped [us] grow because we don't need it," Schumer added, while Fischer, 41, could be heard laughing behind the camera.

Last month, the I Feel Pretty star first revealed to fans that her nanny Jane, who was quarantining with Schumer and Fischer while caring for their son Gene David, 21 months, had left to focus on her studies.

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"We have evolved to having no child care. 😱 Love to Jane who is focusing on her studies," Schumer wrote on Instagram in a since-deleted post. "Any tips for cutting a toddlers nails? We are strugglin! Also thanks to @evamendes for posting a bunch of great accounts to follow for toddlers check out her page for the list!"

In January 2020, Schumer celebrated her nanny with an Instagram selfie of the pair using matching face masks.

RELATED: Amy Schumer Shows Off 'Cute' C-Section Scar from Birth of Son Gene in Nude Mirror Selfie

"This is our nanny who makes it possible for me to work and know that our baby is happy and healthy. I love her very much and we also both want to have nice skin," she captioned the post at the time.

Prior to that, in October 2019, Schumer opened up to PEOPLE about going back to work after welcoming her first child. 

"It's empowering. It's like you get a piece of yourself back, but it is hard," Schumer said at the time. "I'm just so fortunate, you know? 'Cause a lot of people have it a lot harder."

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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: People wait in line in Olympic Stadium for their coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine as Quebec begins vaccinations for seniors in Montreal, Canada March 1, 2021. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

Austria breaks ranks with EU on vaccines

Austria broke ranks with the European Union on Tuesday and said it would work together with Israel and Denmark to produce second-generation vaccines against coronavirus mutations.

The announcement is a rebuke to the EU’s joint vaccine procurement programme for member states which has been criticised for being slow to agree deals with manufacturers.

Production problems and supply chain bottlenecks have also slowed deliveries to the bloc, delaying the roll-out of vaccines.

Turkey’s reopening relieves restaurants but worries doctors

Turkish restaurants reopened and many children returned to school on Tuesday after the government announced steps to ease curbs even as cases edged higher, raising concerns in the top medical association.

On Monday evening, President Tayyip Erdogan lifted weekend lockdowns in low- and medium-risk cities and limited lockdowns to Sundays in those deemed higher risk under what he called a “controlled normalisation”.

Cafe and restaurant owners, limited to takeaway service for much of last year, have long urged a reopening of in-house dining after sector revenues dropped.

No respite from France’s COVID-19 measures in next 4-6 weeks

France will retain its current measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, including a curfew at night, as a bare minimum for the next four to six weeks, its health minister said on Monday.

Other measures now in force include the closure of bars, restaurants and museums and the minister, Olivier Veran, said he hoped France would not have to go beyond those measures to rein in the disease.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said last week a new lockdown was not on the agenda but that the government would assess this week whether local weekend lockdowns might be needed in 20 areas considered very worrying, including Paris and the surrounding region.

Fauci says U.S. must stick to two-shot strategy

The United States must stick to a two-dose strategy for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, top U.S. infectious disease official Anthony Fauci told the Washington Post newspaper.

Fauci said that delaying a second dose to inoculate more Americans creates risks.

He warned that shifting to a single-dose strategy for the vaccines could leave people less protected, enable variants to spread and possibly boost skepticism among Americans already hesitant to get the shots.

WHO panel issues strong advice against hydroxychloroquine

The drug hydroxychloroquine, once touted by former U.S. President Donald Trump as a pandemic “game-changer”, should not be used to prevent COVID-19 and has no meaningful effect on patients already infected, a World Health Organization expert panel said on Tuesday.

“The panel considers that this drug is no longer a research priority and that resources should rather be oriented to evaluate other more promising drugs to prevent COVID-19,” they wrote in the BMJ British medical journal.

This “strong recommendation”, the experts said, is based on high-certainty evidence from six randomised controlled trials involving more than 6,000 participants both with and without known exposure to COVID-19.

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