The secret to a long active life is to eat less

            According to Canadian scientists the secret to a long active life is to eat less. In a study using rats the team found that elderly rats on a calorie-restricted diet had the muscle mass and function of much younger rats.


            The rats were specially bred at the U.S. -based National Institute of Aging and from a very young age were fed a diet rich in nutrition but which was 40 per cent lighter in calories than normal.

            Rats fed a normal diet lost 50 per cent of their muscle mass and 50 per cent of their muscle function at old age. The study found that elderly rodents on the strict diet experienced only a 20 per cent drop in muscle mass and no loss of muscle function.

            The researchers say it has been known for some time that a calorie restricted diet extends life span by as much as 35 per cent, but they have now found that it also maintains muscle function.

            Russ Hepel, a physiologist, suggests restricted-calorie diets preserve the function of mitochondria which provide the body's cells with energy as the animals grow old.

            Despite evidence that reducing calories had a profound impact on rat muscles, Hepple is not suggesting that people follow suit and cut their food intake by 40 per cent. His advice is instead that humans eat a healthy diet, refrain from overindulging and remain active to maintain their muscles.

Why does skin wrinkle with age?

           Wrinkles arise from physical shifts that occur naturally as we grow older-and they are exacerbated by outside influences, such as exposure to sun or tobacco smoke.

            As we age, we gradually lose our collagen, a protein fiber that makes our skin firm; as a result, skin becomes thinner and more fragile. We also begin to lose the elastin that gives skin its elasticity and its glycosaminoglycans, or GAGs, which enable it to hold moisture. The result is drier skin with wrinkles that don’t go away. Such changes, however, occur slowly and account for only a small amount of our furrows.

            The effects of sun, tobacco smoke and pollution, for example, speed up the process. They can thicken parts of our skin, which is why we end up with lesions, skin cancer, freckles and sun spots. These factors can also exaggerate the normal loss of elasticity and firmness. The result is rough, uneven, patchy skin, with deeper creases than growing older by itself would cause.

January 2006,  Scientific American 

Why does lactic acid build up in muscles?

            Lactic acid accumulates when circumstances-such as a sprint-require the body to produce energy faster than it can deliver oxygen to working muscles.

            The body prefers to generate most of its energy using aerobic methods, meaning with oxygen; during strenuous exercise, we breathe faster to bring in more air. Some circumstances, however-such as when we sprint or lift heavy weights-require that our bodies produce energy faster than they can deliver adequate oxygen.  As a result, the tissues generate energy anaerobically, by breaking down glucose into a substance called pyruvate.  When the body has plenty of oxygen, pyruvate is shuttled to an aerobic pathway to be further broken down for more energy.  But when oxygen is limited, the body temporarily converts pyruvate into a substance called lactate, which lets glucose breakdown-and thus energy production-carry on.  The muscle cells can sustain anaerobic energy production for one to three minutes, during which time lactate can accumulate to high levels.

            The high lactate levels increase acidity in the muscle cells as well as disrupt other metabolites. The same metabolic pathways that permit the anaerobic breakdown of glucose to energy perform poorly in this acidic environment. The result is a reduction in capacity, which protects us from severe muscle damage during extreme exertion.  Once the body slows down, oxygen becomes available, and lactate reverts back to pyruvate, allowing continued aerobic metabolism and energy for recovery.

             April 2006, Scientific American

Progurt™ - A Powerful ProBiotic

           Progurt™ is a revolutionary new probiotic formula - consumed as a yogurt that you make at home. It contains trillions of probiotic bacteria which are vital to efficient nutrition and robust health. These bacteria are most effective when they are fresh, and because you make it, you know that your Progurt™ is always fresh. Progurt™ has a unique bacterial formula which improves the balance of flora in the body.

            Highly processed foods and some medicines can destroy the natural bacteria we are born with. Much of our food today contains insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and preservatives. In addition, most of us at some time will ingest medicines, especially antibiotics, which can decimate the intestinal flora.

            Most people experience almost immediate benefits from eating Progurt™. Progurt™ has been developed over a decade to be the ultimate probiotic in yogurt form. People suffering from serious and “incurable” diseases have experienced some extraordinary changes after consuming.

            Progurt on a regular basis. People crippled with multiple sclerosis have become more mobile; diabetics have experienced improvement in circulation and general well being.

            We stress that Progurt™ is a health food, not a medicine. But the fact is that it has certain effects on the metabolism which can directly affect many health outcomes. Progurt™ strengthens our immune system and Decreases the presence of harmful bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract.

Harmful metals in silver foil on sweets

           The next time you bite into a kaju katri covered with silver foil, watch out! The foil may be contaminated with other metals which, when ingested, can have harmful effects.

           The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA) of 1954 prescribes that food-grade foil should be at least 99.9 per cent silver. The Food Technology Laboratory of the Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, Lucknow, collected 178 samples of silver foil from the local market. The researchers found that 10 per cent of the samples (17) were not silver but aluminium. Of the remaining 161 samples, fewer than half (46 per cent) adhered to the desired purity requirement of 99.9 per cent silver.

            Copper was present in 86.3 per cent of the silver foils, chromium, nickel and lead in over 54 per cent, cadmium in 28 per cent and manganese in 6.8 per cent of the samples. The average level of lead in the samples was 6,000 times higher than the level permitted by the World Health Organization (WHO).

            Exposure to nickel is known to lower body weight, damage the heart and the liver and irritate the skin.  Lead can disturb the synthesis of haemoglobin, affect renal function, the gastrointestinal tract, joints and the reproductive and nervous systems.  It is also linked to neuropsychological problems in children.

                           May 2006, Health Action.

The Silent Killer

            High blood pressure attacks nearly 40% of those above 40 years of age. It attacks those who are obese, those who have worry or too much tension, those who are ambitious, the alcoholics and the drug addicts.  A rich protein diet, too much smoking, little or no exercise, aggressive behaviour etc.  all contribute to hypertension.

            Dr. S. R. Shah a cardiologist said, ''High blood pressure damages various organs in the body viz.  the brain, heart, kidneys, eyes, etc." Blood pressure is the force with which the blood flows in the arteries.  When the heart contracts the force is greater and the blood pressure recorded is known as systolic blood pressure.  When the heart relaxes the blood pressure decreases and is called diastolic blood pressure.  To most of the cases of hypertension modern science cannot find an obvious cause.  Hypertension in such a case is called essential hypertension.  However in some cases kidney diseases, endocrinal gland disorders, etc.  are responsible for the hypertension (secondary hypertension).

              June 2006, Yoga and Total Health

Chinese red-yeast-rice is highly effective in lowering cholesterol levels.

            Researchers at the UCLA School of Medicine report that a natural supplement based on Chinese red-yeast-rice is highly effective in lowering cholesterol levels. Red yeast rice is a fermented rice product on which a red yeast (Monascus purpureus) has been grown. It was first described in 800 AD and has been widely used in China for many years. The UCLA double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 83 healthy men and women with elevated cholesterol levels. The participants were randomly assigned to receive either four red-yeast-rice capsules daily (containing a total of 2.4 grams of the yeast-rice) or four placebo capsules. All participants were following a diet similar to the American Heart Association Step I diet (less than 30 per cent of energy from fat, less than 10 per cent of energy from saturated fat, and less than 300 mg cholesterol daily). Blood samples for cholesterol analysis were drawn at the start of the study and after 8, 9, 11 and 12 weeks when the study ended. After eight weeks the average total cholesterol level in the red-yeast-rice group was almost 50 mg/dL (1.19 mmol/L) lower than in the placebo group and after 12 weeks the cholesterol level in the rice-yeast group had dropped by 40 mg/dL (1.03 mmol/L) as compared to a 5 mg/dL (0.13 mmol/L) drop in the placebo group. Average low density cholesterol (LDL) concentrations dropped by over 20 per cent after eight weeks (1.0 mmol/L or 39 mg/dL) in the rice-yeast group while no change was observed in the placebo group. The level of high density cholesterol (HDL) did not change in either group. No adverse effects of the red-yeast-rice were observed. The researchers conclude that red-yeast-rice is a safe and effective supplement for lowering cholesterol levels and point out that it is almost 10 times cheaper than conventional cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Scientists discover brain's memory molecule

           Researchers have discovered a molecular mechanism that maintains memories in the brain.  They have also successfully erased memory from the brain by targeting the molecular mechanism.

            They further claim that erasing the memory from the brain does not prevent the ability to relearn the memory - much as a cleaned computer disc may be re-used. The discovery might someday be used to treat chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and memory loss, among other condition.

            The researchers reported that an enzyme molecule called. "protein kinase Mzeta" preserves long-term memories through persistent strengthening of synaptic connections between neurons.  This is analogous to the mechanism storing information as 0's and 1's in a computer's hard disc. By inhibiting the enzyme, scientists were able to erase a memory, that had been stored for one day, or even one month.  This function in memory storage is specific to protein kinase M zeta, because inhibiting related molecules did not disrupt memory.

           These findings may be useful for the treatment of disorders characterized by the pathological over-strengthening of synaptic connections, such as neuropathic pain, phantom limb syndrome, dystonia, and post-traumatic stress.

               September 4 2006,  The Hitavada

Traditional therapy effective for migraines

           A product that combines extracts of Tanacetum parthenium, commonly known as feverfew, with Salix alba, also called white willow, appears to be effective in reducing the frequency, severity and duration of migraine attacks, according to the results of a small study reported by a research team based in France.

           The herbal combination goes by the commercial name of Mig-RL and is marketed by Naturveda-VitroBio Research Institute, the French company that sponsored the study.  Recent reports have suggested that these products affect some of the same cell targets as conventional medications do.

           Dr. R. Shrivastava, from Issoire and colleagues, enrolled 12 patients with migraine, who were treated with Mig-RL for 12 weeks. Two Mig-RL capsules were given twice daily. Two patients dropped out of the study, one had almost continuous headache and was referred for neurological evaluation and the other refused to comply with the study protocol. Migraine frequency was reduced by 57.2 percent at six weeks and by 61.7 percent at 12 weeks in nine of ten patients. Seventy percent of the patients experienced a 50 percent or greater reduction in headache frequency.     Reductions in attack intensity of 38.7 and 62.6 percent were noted in ten of ten patients at six and 12 weeks, respectively.  Similarly, treatment with Mig-RL led to significant reductions in attack duration. Mig-RL therapy was also tied to improvements in quality of life and the medicine was well tolerated and not associated with any side-effects. The encouraging results suggest that a larger, placebo controlled randomised trial of Mig-RL is warranted.

July 16-31, 2006 Express Pharma

Lack of sunlight is responsible for many diseases.

           Warning people to stay away from  natural sunshine is doing far more harm than good. A new report by the U.K.-based Health Research Forum says people actually need sunbathe daily in order to be healthy. Lack of sunlight causes a horrifying list of chronic diseases like prostate cancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis, schizophrenia, and heart disease. Avoiding sunlight also causes out-of-control carbohydrate cravings due to the influence of sunlight on hormones like melatonin and serotonin.

           Telling people to avoid sunlight and wear sunscreen is bad medical advice. The common belief that "the sun causes cancer" is, in fact, responsible for causing more cancer than ever.

           Natural sunlight, generates vitamin D in human body. Without vitamin D, people are subject to all the diseases listed above (and many more). But with ample sunlight, vitamin D goes to work in the body regulating normal physiological function and restoring a person's natural health.

           Our sun is a powerful healer, and it is a remarkable example of the harmful character of western medicine that so many doctors still tell their patients to avoid natural sunlight.

           Once again, the sun is absolutely free. You can prevent and even cure prostate cancer, breast cancer, and many other diseases by simply stepping outside your door every day and soaking up the 100% free healing treatment from the sun. It's called phototherapy, and it a powerful medicine. It is also not available as a prescription.


3-in-1 heart pill could save millions worldwide


           A new three-in-one pill to treat heart disease could save millions worldwide, said experts. The so-called "polypill" would target developing countries, where rates of heart disease are climbing dramatically.


           The pill would be packed with aspirin, statins and ACE inhibitors — the three drugs known to prevent recurrent heart disease. "Potentially, millions of lives could be saved worldwide by this," said Dr. Sidney Smith, of the World Heart Federation. "These therapies are known to reduce mortality by up to 50 percent or more.


           The polypill would work by reducing future crippling events such as heart attacks and strokes. The World Heart Federation is currently working to promote this initiative, and believes that a pill could be ready in the next year or two. It would first be tested in Spain before being exported to other markets, such as China.

Got an ulcer  eat chilli

           Chilli is the hot tip for ulcer sufferers.  According to a report, red chilli peppers don't cause stomach ulcers, as was previously believed, but can actually prevent or heal them.  Researchers say there is a misconception that chilli is bad for the stomach that hot food cause heartburn, indigestion and ulcers. They say their studies show that chilli's hot ingredient, capsaicin, is protective.  This is because it blocks acid production, stimulates alkali and improves blood flow in stomach tissues which helps prevent and heal ulcers. Other research shows that gastric ulcers are three times less common in countries where large numbers of chillies are eaten.

               September 2006, Health Action

Can herbal supplements diminish endothelial damage induced by HIV infection?

           Increased risk of atherosclerosis and endothelium dysfunction are two of the many problems associated with HIV infection. Endothelial damage is hypothesized to be related to a lack of antioxidants in these patients. A year-long, open-labelled controlled clinical trial was conducted to investigate the effects of antioxidant supplementation on endothelial damage in HIV patients. For one year, 10 HIV-positive patients were given a daily dietary supplement of 100 mcg selenium, 11 were given 30 ml beta-carotene twice daily, and a third group of 15 patients received no supplementation. After one year, the control group experienced increases in the von Willebrand factor and soluble thrombomodulin, two markers of endothelial function. Increased levels of these markers suggest endothelial damage over the course of the study. Researchers suggest that these findings be evaluated in larger numbers of HIV-infected patients.


Vaccine plus antibiotic protects against anthrax

           Combining an anthrax vaccine with a short course of antibiotics completely protected monkeys who inhaled spores of the often-deadly bacteria, offering perhaps a more realistic way to protect people in case of a biological attack, researchers said.  The finding suggests that it may be possible to vaccinate people who have been exposed to anthrax spores.  In addition to this, they can be given a short, two-week course of antibiotics to provide extra protection while their immune system gears up.

           This could be a more useful way to treat people who are exposed to inhaled anthrax than the current practice of taking antibiotics every day for two months, the team at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said. “This provides direct evidence that the combination of anthrax vaccine with a short course of antibiotics given post exposure can completely protect non-human primates from inhalational anthrax," said Dr Arthur Friedlander, who led the study.

            "Our results also suggest that the appearance of an antibody response after treatment with antibiotics alone or in conjunction with vaccination might be useful in determining when antibiotics can be safely discontinued.  

           “In October 2001, someone sent several letters  contaminated with anthrax spores to several US offices, including at the Senate in Washington.  Eleven people become infected with inhalational anthrax, the most deadly form, and five of them died.

May 16-31 2006, Express pharma 

Mobile phone can make you sick

           Mobile phones can apparently make you ill. Some people suffer form a condition called electrosensitivity in which the radiation from mobiles causes headaches, joint pain, depression, memory loss and fatigue. Around five per cent of the British population is said to suffer from this condition.

           More women than men suffer form electrosensitivity. Apart from mobiles, computers, microwave ovens, even refrigerators, televisions, electric cookers and hairdryers can have this effect.  Sufferers say they are 'zapped' by the electromagnetic fields emitted by various devices.

           A report by the Health Protection Agency, U.K.  will formally acknowledge that such a condition exists. So far, says a spokesperson for the charity, Electrosensitivity UK, it is difficult for patients to get a diagnosis or treatment. But "it's life-shattering for many in terms of employment and where they live and what they do." 

                      January 2006, Health Action

Cancer fears over sweetener in food

           Research by the European Ramazzini Foundation, Italy, has linked aspartame to cancer in rats. Aspartame is found in many packed food products and beverages available in the market, with or without labelling information, including on supermarket shelves.

            A member of the British parliamentary committee on food demanded a ban on this artificial sweetener found in 6000 types of food, drink and medicines. In 1996 a review showed every sweetener industry-funded study had found the additive safe.  But 92 per cent of independent studies identified some problems with its safety. The Food Standards Agency, however, found aspartame to be safe for use in food. 

            In India, aspartame is used in a wide range of food products, beverages and medicines ranging from breath mints to milk drinks to multivitamins.

 April 2006, Health Action

Ultrasound may help clean up soil pollutants

           Ultrasound could be used as a novel clean up method to remove contaminants, including oil and carcinogenic industrial pollutants, from soil, say scientists.

            Researchers at Australia's (CSIRO) say ultrasound can be used to destroy toxic or carcinogenic POPs (Persistent organic pollutants) that commonly contaminate industrial land. It has been shown effective in cleaning of contamination from oil refineries, power stations and aluminium factories. POPs include polychlorinated biphenyls and (DDT) and can spread in water, air and accumulate in the food chain.   

            Cleaning such pollutants is difficult.  Incineration can produce toxic breakdown products, while treating the soil chemically requires huge amounts of energy or involves substances almost as toxic as those being cleaned up-risking dangerous leakages. Contaminated soil is mixed with water and passed through a chamber that blasts the mixture with ultrasound.

           The team tested their system on sand spiked with pollutants as well as samples collected from industrial sites. They claim their procedure destroys up to 97% of contaminants.

              September 9 2006, The Hitavada

Satins may treat hepatitis C

           According to Japanese researchers Cholesterol drugs called statins, may help to treat hepatitis C infections. Tests in lab dishes suggest that some statin drugs may help to stop the hepatitis C virus from replicating.

            An estimated 170 million people worldwide are infected with the hepatitis C virus. The standard treatment is a combination therapy of interferon and ribavirin, but it only helps about 55 percent of patients.

            Masanori Ikeda of Okayama University in Japan and colleagues tested several statin drugs against the virus in lab dishes. All the drugs except pravastatin, interfered with the virus to some degree. Fluvastatin, had the strongest effect. It may be that certain proteins are required for the hepatitis C virus to replicate and that some statins block the action of these proteins.

           Researchers tested the statins along with interferon, and found that each worked even better when combined with the second drug. 

            Statins, which include Pfizer’s $10 billion-a-year, Lipitor, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Pravachal and Merck and Co’s Zocor, are the world’s best-selling drugs, taken by millions to reduce the risk of heart attack. But they appear to affect many biological processes. An expert proposed last month that they may affect influenza viruses, including bird flu, and other research has shown they reduce the risk of cataracts. Generic statins are available in many countries and have become increasingly inexpensive.

August 1-15, 2006 Express Pharma

Edited by Dr. A. M. Mehendale