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

sushi

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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Srudy shows how tissue’s microscopic geometry affects spread of cancer

Oregon State research shows how tissue's microscopic geometry affects spread of cancer

Oregon State University research has revealed a crucial mechanism behind one of humankind’s most deadly physiological processes: the movement of malignant cells from one part of the body to another.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study led by OSU biophysicist Bo Sun shows the role that tissues’ microscopic geometry plays in cancer metastasis, the internal spreading of the disease that’s responsible for 95% of all cancer deaths.

To develop drugs that effectively combat metastasis, it’s fundamentally important to understand what directs the metastatic process, Sun said.

“Our results show the level of tissue fiber alignment, particularly collagen fiber alignment, is a crucial part of what’s happening,” Sun said.

Collagen is a protein that serves as the primary component of human connective tissue, which supports, protects and provides structure for other tissues and organs in the body. Collagen is also a key part of the extracellular matrix, the non-cellular part of tissues and organs that acts as a scaffold and also performs important biochemical and biomechanical functions.

“Clinical studies have shown that the microscopic geometry of tissue is significantly correlated with the progression of breast cancers,” Sun said. “Our study reveals the underlying biophysical mechanism. In the era of precision medicine, we think taking into account the physical properties of a patient’s tissue can be critical for the prediction and treatment of metastatic disease.”

The correlation is due to a cellular phenomenon known as “contact guidance,” which is analogous to a back-country hiker trying to pick a route based on the contours of the terrain and the network of downed trees on the ground.

“In navigating the three-dimensional extracellular matrix, where the fibers aren’t necessarily parallel, cells have to integrate multiple guidance cues that aren’t always clear and sometimes are conflicting,” Sun said. “Understanding the mechanisms and limitations of cell responses to imperfect guidance signals is pivotal for predicting and engineering cell behaviors—i.e., providing a patient with a precise diagnosis, prognosis and treatment.”

¬¬In this research, Sun and collaborators at OSU, the University of California San Diego and Northeastern University found that a breast cancer cell can switch between two distinct states: the mesenchymal, in which the cell shape is elongated, and the amoeboidal, in which it’s more round.

“In the mesenchymal state, a cell follows the orientation of tissue fibers, and the effect is strongest when the level of fiber alignment is highest,” Sun said. “In the amoeboidal state, the same cell moves rather randomly. Another part of it is that the transition rate between the two states is also determined by the level of tissue fiber alignment—strong alignment leads to a stronger tendency for a cell to stay in the mesenchymal state.”

Collaborating with Sun were graduate research assistant Jihan Kim and Ph.D. candidate Christopher Eddy of OSU’s Department of Physics, Yuansheng Cao and Wouter-Jan Rappel of UC San Diego, and Youyuan Deng and Herbert Levine of Northeastern.

The U.S. Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences supported this study, which builds on earlier research by Sun that showed human cells, including cancer cells, could mechanically and permanently remodel their surroundings—and thus affect an array of physiological processes from metastasis to wound healing to embryo development.

In that research, Sun found that a single pair of breast cancer cells could increase the local fiber density of reconstituted collagen matrices by more than 150%.

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Experts describe types of rashes associated with MIS-C

CHOP experts describe types of rashes associated with MIS-C

In April 2020, pediatricians began recognizing a puzzling syndrome in children involving hyperinflammation that results in an array of symptoms, including fever, gastrointestinal distress and rash. The syndrome, thought to be a post-infectious complication of SARS-CoV-2 infection, was given the name Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome Children, or MIS-C. However, diagnosing the condition has posed challenges, as many of its symptoms, including rash, are common in many other pediatric infections.

In a study published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases, researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) describe the array of rashes seen in MIS-C patients at their hospital through late July 2020, providing photos and information that could help doctors diagnose future cases.

“We hope the information provided in this research letter will help general pediatricians and emergency department physicians who may wonder if a patient with a fever requires a more extensive examination,” said Audrey Odom John, MD, Ph.D., Chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at CHOP and senior author of the paper. “Given that some rashes associated with MIS-C are distinctive, we also imagine these images could help many parents who are looking for signs that their child needs prompt evaluation.”

The research team analyzed the MIS-C-associated rashes of seven patients seen at CHOP. Although the researchers did not observe a single, defining rash associated with COVID-19, there were several types of rashes that were common in these patients, both in appearance and location.

In terms of rash location, all patients in the study developed a rash on their lower body, and five of the seven patients had a rash on their inner thighs. Rashes on the chest and upper extremities were also common, occurring in four out of seven patients.

More than half of the patients presented with small-to-medium annular plaques, which look like dime-size circles, on their chest and back. More than half of the patients in the study also developed purpura, tiny red spots, often in the center of the dime-like annular plaques.

While some patients did develop a cherry-red rash on the bottoms of their feet and palms of their hands, this sort of rash was seen in less than half of the patients in the study. Rashes on the face were uncommon, and the rashes rarely itched.

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Discovery of a mechanism by which epithelial tumors cause developmental delays

Discovery of a mechanism by which epithelial tumours cause developmental delays

The systemic balance that coordinates the growth of an organism and its progress through the different stages of development occurs across the animal world and is regulated by internal and external signals. Examples of this balance are puberty in humans and metamorphosis in flies. These are transitions characterized by the production of steroid hormones and they mark the turning point that will determine the halting of growth and entry into the adult state. Certain human diseases, such as cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), cause a delay in this transition.

Led by Dr. Marco Milán, scientists at IRB Barcelona have discovered the mechanism by which malignant epithelial tumors affect the production of steroid hormones. Specifically, these researchers have found that the Drosophila Upd3 protein (equivalent to human Interleukin-6) is the main signal produced by tumor cells to influence hormone production and activate signaling pathways that block the transition to adulthood.

“This finding is highly relevant and can help us understand delays in the transition to puberty caused by various medical conditions in adolescents. In the end, what happens is that a damaged organ sends signals to the body to warning that it is not prepared for a process of change,” explains Dr. Milán, ICREA researcher and head of the Development and Growth Control laboratory at IRB Barcelona.

A model to study cancer

To carry out this study, Dr. Milán’s group has used the genetic potential of the Drosophila fly to induce alterations in the epithelial tissue that simulate a tumor-like growth and mimic the capacity found in human carcinomas to send systemic signals.

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Déjà brew? Another shot for lovers of coffee

Déjà brew? Another shot for lovers of coffee

Long black, espresso, or latte, whatever your coffee preference, drink too much and you could be in hot water, especially when it comes to heart health.

In a world first genetic study, researchers from the Australian Centre for Precision Health at the University of South Australia found that that long-term, heavy coffee consumption—six or more cups a day—can increase the amount of lipids (fats) in your blood to significantly heighten your risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Importantly, this correlation is both positive and dose-dependent, meaning that the more coffee you drink, the greater the risk of CVD.

It’s a bitter pill, especially for lovers of coffee, but according to UniSA researcher, Professor Elina Hyppönen, it’s one we must swallow if we want keep our hearts healthy.

“There’s certainly a lot of scientific debate about the pros and cons of coffee, but while it may seem like we’re going over old ground, it’s essential to fully understand how one of the world’s most widely consumed drinks can impact our health,” Prof Hyppönen says.

“In this study we looked at genetic and phenotypic associations between coffee intake and plasma lipid profiles—the cholesterols and fats in your blood—finding causal evidence that habitual coffee consumption contributes to an adverse lipid profile which can increase your risk of heart disease.

“High levels of blood lipids are a known risk factor for heart disease, and interestingly, as coffee beans contain a very potent cholesterol-elevating compound (cafestol), it was valuable to examine them together.

“Cafestol is mainly present in unfiltered brews, such as French press, Turkish and Greek coffees, but it’s also in espressos, which is the base for most barista-made coffees, including lattes and cappuccinos.

“There is no, or very little cafestol in filtered and instant coffee, so with respect to effects on lipids, those are good coffee choices.

“The implications of this study are potentially broad-reaching. In my opinion it is especially important for people with high cholesterol or who are worried about getting heart disease to carefully choose what type of coffee they drink.

“Importantly, the coffee-lipid association is dose-dependent—the more you drink unfiltered coffee the more it raises your blood lipids, putting you at greater risk of heart disease.”

Globally, an estimated 3 billion cups of coffee are consumed every day. Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year.

The study used data from 362,571 UK Biobank participants, aged 37-73 years, using a triangulation of phenotypic and genetic approaches to conduct comprehensive analyses.

While the jury still may be out on the health impacts of coffee, Prof Hyppönen says it is always wise to choose filtered coffee when possible and be wary of overindulging, especially when it comes to a stimulant such as coffee.

“With coffee being close to the heart for many people, it’s always going to be a controversial subject,” Prof Hyppönen says.

“Our research shows, excess coffee is clearly not good for cardiovascular health, which certainly has implications for those already at risk.

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Cote named a National Academy of Inventors senior member

Pathologist Richard J. Cote, MD, the Edward Mallinckrodt Professor and head of the Department of Pathology & Immunology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has been elected a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). A cancer specialist, Cote has developed tools for analyzing tumor cells and predicting disease progression and response to therapy.

The distinction honors people who have demonstrated remarkable innovation, producing technologies that have had, or aspire to have, real impact on the welfare of society. Senior members also must have demonstrated substantial training and mentoring of the next generation of inventors, and have provided leadership to advance inventorship within their academic institutions.

Cote led three of the largest clinical trials in breast, lung and bladder cancer, which were based on research from his laboratory. With the help of funding from the National Cancer Institute, Cote and his colleagues are developing a tool to detect early-stage breast cancer and predict how the disease will progress by analyzing tumor cells in the bloodstream. He and his colleagues also have developed tools based on nanotechnology that may one day lead to a liquid biopsy blood test to detect early, treatable cancer.

Cote holds numerous patents and is the founder of several biotech companies, including Impath, Clarient, Filtini, Sensitini and Circulogix. One of the first companies to bring specialty testing for cancer analysis to market, Impath was acquired by Genzyme in 2004. Clarient, an image analysis company co-founded by Cote under the name Chromavision, brought high-tech diagnostic capabilities to practicing pathologists and oncologists. Clarient was acquired by GE in 2009.

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This Is One Of The Most Soothing Sounds That Can Help You Feel Better Throughout The Day

As many of us search for small tweaks to our routines to make the days more exciting, music has offered a welcome relief to the sometimes-monotonous routine of 2021. While some employ various anxiety-relieving techniques, music can also offer relief while helping you feel focused. From waterfall sounds to classical melodies, the type of tunes that you choose can make a big difference in your mood. But, when it comes to feeling at peace, one type of sound outshines the rest.

Those cooing birds outside of your window may be doing more for your state of mind than you think — studies show that these chirps offer the most restorative vibrations of any nature sound, The Guardian reports. While many who have studied natural well-being are well versed in the benefits of contact with nature, simply adding these sounds to your morning even while you’re indoors offers holistic recovery attributes. The Guardian reports that birdsong reduces stress and assists in focusing one’s attention and feeling renewed — not a bad playlist addition after all. 

Apparently, when you turn on a chorus of birdsongs — in the forest, at the ocean, or whatever location your playlist takes you to — you’re likely hearing the mating calls of various species. The Guardian notes that listening to the sounds of birds has scientific evidence of improving the way that you feel, no matter the time of day. Furthermore, having birdsong playing in the background can make focusing much easier, whereas music with lyrics can take away from your ability to stay present, the BBC contends.

The reasons behind birdsongs' health benefits stem from evolution

Beyond just helping you feel focused and alert, listening to these types of sounds actually allows your body to feel safe. The BBC reports that bird-chirping melodies produce a “body relaxed, mind alert” state that many seek to create in their daily lives.

“People find birdsong relaxing and reassuring because over thousands of years they have learned when the birds sing they are safe, it’s when birds stop singing that people need to worry,” Julian Treasure, author of Sound Business and chairman of noise consultancy, The Sound Agency, told the BBC. “Birdsong is also nature’s alarm clock, with the dawn chorus signaling the start of the day, so it stimulates us cognitively.”

This simultaneous relaxing-but-alert response may help you sail through your day with less resistance and a higher level of mental prowess. Birdsong provides no rhyme or reason and no beat to focus on while you work — it simply soothes, BBC notes. Rather than redirecting your energy toward following the pattern of the music, bird songs provide a naturally random tune. The outlet reports that, when used in children’s schools and hospitals, songs of birds aid in reduction of stress as well as an increase in the students’ concentration levels.

Next time you’re looking for music to play during work, play, sleep or meditation, turn on the bird tunes! 

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Study explores neurocognitive basis of bias against people who look different

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The “scarred villain” is one of the oldest tropes in film and literature, from Scar in “The Lion King” to Star Wars’ Darth Vader and the Joker in “The Dark Knight.” The trope is likely rooted in a long-evolved human bias against facial anomalies—atypical features such as growths, swelling, facial paralysis, and scars. A new brain-and-behavior study from researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania illuminates this bias on multiple levels.

The researchers, whose findings were published this week in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, used surveys, social simulations, and functional MRI (fMRI) studies to study hundreds of participants’ responses and attitudes towards attractive, average, and anomalous faces. The findings clarify how the ‘anomalous-is-bad’ stereotype manifests, and implicate a brain region called the amygdala as one of the likely mediators of this stereotype.

“Understanding the psychology of the ‘anomalous-is-bad’ stereotype can help, for example, in the design of interventions to educate the public about the social burdens shouldered by people who look different,” said lead author Clifford Workman, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher in the Penn Center for Neuroaesthetics. The center is led by Anjan Chatterjee, MD, a professor of Neurology at Penn Medicine, who was senior author of the study.

Bias against people with facial disfigurements has been demonstrated in various prior studies. Researchers broadly assume that this bias reflects ancient adaptive traits which evolved to promote healthy mate selection, for example, and to steer us clear of people who have potentially communicable diseases. Regardless the cause, for many people, their facial anomalies render them unjust targets of discrimination.

In their study, Workman and colleagues investigated how this bias manifests at different levels, from expressed attitudes towards faces, to actual behavior during simulated social interactions, and even down to brain responses when viewing faces.

In one part of the study, the researchers showed a set of faces that were either average-looking, attractive, or anomalous to 403 participants from an online panel, and asked them to rate the depicted people on various measures. The researchers found that, compared to more attractive faces, participants considered anomalous faces less trustworthy, less content, and more anxious, on average. The anomalous faces also made the participants feel less happy. Participants also acknowledged harboring “explicit bias” reflected in negative expectations about people with anomalous faces as a group.

In the other part of the study, Workman and colleagues examined moral attitudes and dispositions, the behavior during simulated social interaction, and fMRI-measured brain responses, for 27 participants who viewed similar sets of faces.

Here again there was some evidence of the anomalous-is-bad habit of thinking, though it was not clear that this translated into mistreatment of people with anomalous faces. For example, in a simulated donation game measuring pro-sociality—the willingness to be positive and helpful towards another—the participants were not significantly less pro-social towards anomalous-looking people. However, participants in the highest tier of socioeconomic status, compared to the others, were significantly less pro-social towards anomalous-looking people.

On fMRI scans, brain regions called the amygdala and the fusiform gyri showed significant neural responses specifically to anomalous faces. Activity in a portion of the left amygdala, which correlated with less pro-sociality towards anomalous faces, also seemed related to participants’ beliefs about justice in the world and their degree of empathic concern.

“We hypothesize that the left amygdala integrates face perception with moral emotions and social values to guide behavior, such that weaker emotional empathy, and a stronger belief that the world is just, both facilitate dehumanizing people with facial anomalies,” Chatterjee said.

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New research identifies biological causes of muscle weakness in later life

elderly

A new largescale genetic analysis has found biological mechanisms that contribute to making people more susceptible to muscle weakness in later life, finding that diseases such as osteoarthritis and diabetes may play a large role in susceptibility.

As we get older we lose muscle strength, and in some people this severe weakness impacts their ability to live everyday lives, a condition called sarcopenia. Around 10 per cent of people over 50 experience sarcopenia. Many causes thought to impact likelihood of developing this weakness, which is linked to higher death rates.

In a genetic analysis of over 250,000 people aged over 60 from UK Biobank and 21 other cohorts, an international team led by researchers at the University of Exeter looked at handgrip strength, using thresholds of loss of muscle function derived from international definitions of sarcopenia.

The team, including collaborators from the USA and the Netherlands, then conducted a genetic analysis, and found specific biological mechanisms push some people towards sarcopenia, whilst protecting others. The study, published in Nature Communications identified 15 areas of the genome, or loci, associated with muscle weakness, including 12 loci not implicated in previous analyses of continuous measures of grip strength.

Biomarkers in the blood including red blood cells and inflammation may also share causal pathways with sarcopenia. Together, these results highlight specific areas for intervention or for identifying those at most risk.

Lead author Garan Jones said: “The strongest associations we found were close to regions of the genome regulating the immune system, and growth and development of the musclo-skeletal system. However we also discovered associations with regions not previously known to be linked to musclo-skeletal traits.

“We found that our analysis of muscle weakness in older people shared common genetic pathways with metabolic diseases such as type-2 diabetes, and auto-immune conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In subgroups of people with increased risk of these conditions, sarcopenia may be a key outcome to look out for and prevent.

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California's first cases of South African coronavirus variant identified in Bay Area

Coronavirus pandemic: When will normal life return?

Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel answers parents’ questions on whether it’s safe to return to in-person learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.

California has identified its first cases of a worrisome coronavirus variant that was first discovered in South Africa. The variant, known as B.1.351, was confirmed in the San Francisco Bay Area, Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced this week.

Newsom during a news conference on Wednesday said that two cases were identified, one in Alameda County and the other in Santa Clara County, the Los Angeles Times reported. 

No other details were provided at the time, and it was not immediately clear how the cases were identified, though other states that have announced cases of variants have done so through routine genome sequencing of positive coronavirus samples. 

When Newsom announced the state’s first cases, they had only been identified “as of a few hours ago,” he said at the time, per the paper. 

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

A spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health did not immediately return Fox News’ request for additional information on Thursday. 

So far, the variant has been detected in a handful of states, including South Carolina, the first state to report cases of the South African variant in the U.S., as well as Texas, Maryland and Virginia.

CORONAVIRUS IN THE US: STATE-BY-STATE BREAKDOWN

The B.1.351 variant is more transmissible than the other coronavirus strains and is likely more virulent, meaning it could cause more severe illness in those who contract it. 

Though experts have voiced confidence that recently-approved vaccines will remain effective against variants, the South African variant, in particular, has shown to diminish vaccine efficacy. While some drug sponsors are working to create variant booster shots, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is simultaneously drawing up plans to help guide newly adjusted vaccines, drugs and diagnostics toward faster regulatory approval.

Fox News’ Kayla Rivas contributed to this report. 

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