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The Diet and Food Production Must Radically Change to Improve Health





|| January 21: 2019: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine News || ά. Feeding a growing population of ten billion people by 2050 with a healthy and sustainable diet will be impossible without transforming eating habits, improving food production and reducing food waste, according to a new EAT-Lancet Commission. The Report provides the first scientific targets for a healthy diet from a sustainable food production system, that operates within planetary boundaries for food.

It promotes diets consisting of a variety of plant-based foods, with low amounts of animal-based foods, refined grains, highly processed foods and added sugars and with unsaturated rather than saturated fats. How realistic is a ‘healthy diet for all’? And how challenging will be the policy recommendations in the Commission be to implement? Professor Alan Dangour, of Food and Nutrition for Global Health at the London School of Hygiene and  Tropical Medicine, gives his expert reaction. “The analysis demonstrates that shifts in our diets can have enormous beneficial effects on health and, also, substantially, reduce our impacts on the environment. 

This significant ‘win-win’ for health and the environment is not a new finding but this analysis, which, for the first time, defines environmental boundaries for the food system, is the most advanced ever conducted. The Commission recommends a ‘healthy diet’ for all. 

Populations around the world eat strikingly different diets, that have been shaped, among other things, by tradition, culture and wealth.  The ‘healthy diet’ would require, significant, shifts to existing dietary habits in most countries, including, the UK, such as, large reductions in meat intake and substantial increases in fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes consumption. 

There is a major question about the ability of populations to shift to such dietary recommendations and their wider public acceptability. Many of the important policy recommendations in the Commission cut across the portfolios of traditional government departments, such as, agriculture and environment, health, trade, international development in the UK and will be challenging to implement in many countries.

This is an important set of analyses, that highlights the critical link between human health and the health of our planet.  Urgently increasing access to healthy and sustainable diets for all people and co-ordinating effective policy responses across government departments are among the key changes required, if, we are to safeguard human and planetary health in the coming decades.”:::ω.

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Eating Green Leafy Vegetables May Prevent Liver Steatosis




|| January 17: 2019: Karolinska Institutet News || ά. A larger portion of green leafy vegetables in the diet, may, reduce the risk of developing Liver Steatosis or Fatty Liver. In a study published recently researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden show how a larger intake of inorganic nitrate, which occurs, naturally, in many types of vegetable, reduces accumulation of fat in the liver. There is currently no approved treatment for the disease, which can deteriorate into life-threatening conditions, such as, Cirrhosis and Liver Cancer.

Liver Steatosis is a common liver disease, that affects approximately 25 per cent of the population. The most important causes are overweight or high alcohol consumption. “When we supplemented with dietary nitrate to mice, fed with a high-fat and sugar Western diet, we noticed a, significantly, lower proportion of fat in the liver.” says Mr Mattias Carlström, Associate Professor at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet. The results of the research were confirmed by using two different cell culture studies in human liver cells.

Apart from a lower risk of Steatosis, the researchers, also, observed reduction of blood pressure and improved insulin:glucose homeostasis in mice with Type Two Diabetes. The research group’s focus is the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and Type Two Diabetes through dietary changes and by other means. Previous studies have shown that dietary nitrate from vegetables enhances the efficiency of the mitochondria, the cell’s power-plant, which can improve physical endurance. It has, also, been shown that a higher intake of fruit and vegetable has a beneficial effect on cardiovascular function and on diabetes.

“We think that these diseases are connected by similar mechanisms, where oxidative stress causes compromised nitric oxide signalling, which has a detrimental impact on cardiometabolic functions.” says Dr Carlström. “We now demonstrate an alternative way to produce nitric oxide, where more nitrate in our diet can be converted to nitric oxide and other bio-active nitrogen species in our body.”

Even, though, many clinical studies have been done, there is still considerable debate about what properties of vegetable make them healthy. “No one has, yet, focused on nitrate, which, we think, is the key. We now want to conduct clinical studies to investigate the therapeutic value of nitrate supplementation to reduce the risk of liver Steatosis. The results could lead to the development of new pharmacological and nutritional approaches.” says Dr Carlström.

While larger clinical studies are needed to confirm the role of nitrate, the researchers can still advise on eating more green leafy vegetables, such as, regular lettuce or the more nitrate-rich spinach and rocket. “And it doesn’t take huge amounts to obtain the protective effects we have observed, only, about 200 grams per day.” says Dr Carlström.“ Unfortunately, however, many people choose not to eat enough vegetables these days.”

The study was financed by the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Heart and Lung Foundation, Novo Nordisk, the European Research Council and Karolinska Institutet. Two of the authors, Jon O Lundberg and Eddie Weitzberg, are coinventors on patent applications related to the therapeutic use of inorganic nitrate. Magnus Ingelman-Sundberg is Co-founder of the contract research organisation:CRO HepaPredict AB

The Paper: AMP-activated protein kinase activation and NADPH oxidase inhibition by inorganic nitrate and nitrite prevents liver steatosis: Isabel Cordero-Herrera, Mikael Kozyra, Zhengbing Zhuge, Sarah McCann Haworth, Chiara Moretti, Maria Peleli, Mayara Caldeira-Diaz, Arghavan Jahandideh, Han Huirong, Josiane Cruz, Andrei Kleschyov, Marcelo Montenegro, Magnus Ingelman-Sundberg, Eddie Weitzberg, Jon O Lundberg and Mattias Carlström:::ω.

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Bacteria Develop Antibiotic Resistance More Slowly When They Need to Fight Enemies at Two Fronts at the Same Time



|| January 09: 2019: University of Helsinki: Anu Partanen Writing || ά. Disease-causing bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics with astonishing speed. But when the bacteria have to fight a predator at the same time as being exposed to antibiotics, the evolution of antibiotic resistance slows down. Perhaps we should feel sorry for this batch of the bacteria Pseudomonas Fluorescens. As, if, it’s not bad enough that it has to float in a liquid containing an antibiotic, a substance, that can inhibit its growth or, even, kill it, it, also, has to fight a predator, determined to eat it at the same time.

Usually, Pseudomonas Fluorescens, like most other bacteria in the world, can develop the ability to resist the effects of antibiotics surprisingly quickly through mutations in their genes. Similarly, the bacteria can, usually, protect themselves from predators, for example, by clumping together in big groups, which the predator, then, has trouble eating. But fighting the battle at two fronts is proving to be too much for this colony of Pseudomonas Fluorescens. The bacteria’s ability to counter the effects of the antibiotic, or devise a strategy to avoid being eaten by the predator, are both being slowed down.

Although, we, might, pity the bacteria’s plight, this, from a human perspective, can be considered a positive thing, since bacteria resistant to antibiotics pose a serious global health problem. “The way bacteria evolve to become resistant to antibiotics has been studied extensively in laboratory settings.” says Mr Teppo Hiltunen, a Microbial Ecologist at the University of Helsinki.

“But usually the studies have been simple and exposed bacteria to only one threat at a time: the antibiotic. In real life bacteria are interacting with their environment and living in communities, consisting of multiple organisms and they encounter multiple threats at once.” That’s why Mr Hiltunen and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany and the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, devised an experiment, in which, the bacteria were exposed to two threats at once to better mimic the situation in real life.

The results of the five-year study have now been published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. The consortium found that when bacteria has to fight two threats or stress factors, at once, its ability to evolve slows down when compared to a situation where is it is fighting only one threat.

While the finding can not immediately be put to use in fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, since more research is needed, it is an important indication of how processes, that are ecological, in other words, related to the environment, on the one hand and, evolutionary, in other words, related to genes, on the other, are linked and make the evolutionary processes more complex than we currently understand. 

Bacteria are masters of survival. They can adapt to new conditions and develop the ability to counter threats, such as, pesticides or predators with great speed. One of their enemies is antibiotics, a group of medications, that are widely used to treat bacterial infections in humans and promote the growth and health of animals.

Bacteria can gain resistance to antibiotics either through evolution, by developing mutations in genes or, by acquiring antibiotic-resistance genes from another bacteria. The increasing ability of disease-causing bacteria to resist antibiotic treatment is considered one of the most dangerous emerging threats to human health. According to estimates, bacteria and other micro-organisms resistant to antibiotics and other drugs will, by 2050, cause more deaths than cancer as infections become more difficult or, even, impossible to treat.

Antibiotics, that enter soil and the water supply via waste water and accumulate there in low concentrations can make the antibiotic-resistance problem worse, as they can trigger the evolution of resistance in bacteria, even, though, these concentrations are so low that they inhibit bacterial growth only slightly or not at all. “Antibiotic resistance is essentially an evolutionary problem, requiring an understanding of evolutionary biology.” Mr Teppo Hiltunen says.

“We need to recognise how resistance develops in natural environments and moves from environmental bacteria to clinically relevant pathogens. In order to understand this, we need to study antibiotic-resistance evolution in more complex settings, for example, by adding species interactions as we did here.”

In Mr Hiltunen’s laboratory, the bacterium Pseudomonas Fluorescence had to cope with both antibiotics and the single-cell predator organism Tetrahymena Thermophila. After just a short time, the team of researchers noticed that the bacterial population was changing: the bacteria were much slower and less effective in developing resistance and protecting themselves from being consumed than bacteria in the treatments, that were only exposed to one of these stress factors. Moreover, resistance against the antibiotic was much less common.

“The bacteria were, clearly, unable to optimise both attributes at the same time.” says the study Co-author Mr Lutz Becks of the Max Planck Institute. In the next step, the scientists analysed the genetic basis of these adaptations. Their results show that mutations for improved protection from predators appear consistently in the same way in the bacterial genome, if, only, the predators are present. The same applies to mutations, that cause resistance to antibiotics.

However, as soon as the bacteria have to fight both predators and antibiotics at the same time, different patterns of mutations occur. This causes both the bacteria’s protection against predators and resistance to antibiotics to evolve more slowly and be less efficient.

Because the bacteria are less able to protect themselves from predators, if, they are confronted by the predatory ciliates and antibiotics simultaneously, their numbers are fewer than when they only have to defend themselves from one threat at a time. Several threats, therefore, appear to have a strong influence on whether and how often resistance to antibiotics develops and how large the population of bacteria can become.

“This kind of interaction between bacteria and ciliates is very common in environments, such as, wastewater treatment plants, soil and water bodies.” Mr Teppo Hiltunen says.

“Our finding is part of a bigger puzzle starting to come into clearer focus at the moment, where researchers are figuring out that we need to have a broader view of antibiotic-resistance evolution, accounting for the interplay between ecology and evolution.”

Mr Teppo Hiltunen leads the Research Group on Experimental Evolution and chairs the Helsinki Institute of Life Science’s Grand Challenge:HiLife project on combatting antimicrobial drug resistance.

The Paper: Dual-stressor selection alters eco-evolutionary dynamics in experimental communities: Nature Ecology and Evolution:::ω.

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Nearly 30 Million Sick and Premature New-Borns in Dire Need of Treatment Every Year: 02.5 Million New-Borns Died Last Year Mostly From Preventable Causes While the World Is Busy Pretending We Have Achieved Civilisation Overseeing with Wilful Neglect These Unacceptable Deaths




|| December 14: 2018 || ά. Nearly, 30 million babies are born too soon, too small or become sick every year and need specialised care to survive, according to a new Report by a global coalition, including UNICEF and the World Health Organisation:WHO. “When it comes to babies and their mothers, the right care at the right time in the right place can make all the difference.” said Mr Omar Abdi, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director. “Yet, millions of small and sick babies and women are dying every year because they simply do not receive the quality care, that is their right and our collective responsibility.”

The Report, Survive and Thrive: Transforming care for every small and sick new-born, finds that among the new-born babies most at risk of death and disability are those with complications from prematurity, brain injury during childbirth, severe bacterial infection or jaundice and those with congenital conditions. Additionally, the financial and psychological toll on their families can have detrimental effects on their cognitive, linguistic and emotional development. “For every mother and baby, a healthy start from pregnancy through childbirth and the first months after birth is essential.” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the Deputy Director General for Programmes at WHO.

“Universal health coverage can ensure that everyone, including new-borns, has access to the health services they need, without facing financial hardship. Progress on new-born health care is a win-win situation; it saves lives and is critical for early child development, thus, impacting on families, society and future generations.”

Without specialised treatment, many at-risk new-borns won’t survive their first month of life, according to the Report. In 2017, some 02.5 million new-borns died, mostly, from preventable causes. Almost, two-thirds of babies, who die, were born premature. And, even, if, they survive, these babies face chronic diseases or developmental delays. In addition, an estimated one million small and sick new-borns survive with a long-term disability.

With nurturing care, these babies can live without major complications. The Report shows that by 2030, in 81 countries, the lives of 02.9 million women, still-borns and new-borns can be saved with smarter strategies. For example, if, the same health team cares for both mother and baby through labour, birth and beyond, they can identify problems early on.

In addition, almost, 68 per cent of new-born deaths could be averted by 2030 with simple fixes, such as, exclusive breastfeeding, skin to skin contact between the mother or father and the baby, medicines and essential equipment and access to clean, well-equipped health facilities, staffed by skilled health workers. Other measures, like resuscitating a baby, who can not breathe properly, giving the mother an injection to prevent bleeding or delaying the cutting of the umbilical cord could, also, save millions.

According to the Report, the world will not achieve the global target to achieve health for all unless it transforms care for every new-born. Without rapid progress, some countries will not meet this target for another 11 decades. To save new-borns, the Report recommends:

Providing round-the-clock inpatient care for new-borns seven days a week.

Training nurses to provide hands-on care working in partnership with families.

Harnessing the power of parents and families by teaching them how to become expert care-givers and care for their babies, which can reduce stress, help babies gain weight and allow their brains to develop properly.

Providing good quality of care should be a part of country policies, and a lifelong investment for those who are born small or sick.

Counting and tracking every small and sick new-born allows managers to monitor progress and improve results.

Allocating the necessary resources, as an additional investment of US$0.20 cents per person can save two of every three new-borns in low and middle income countries by 2030. Almost, three decades ago, the Convention on the Rights of the Child guaranteed every new-born the right to the highest standard of health care and it is time for countries around the world to make sure the legislative, medical, human and financial resources are in place to turn that right into a reality for every child, the Report says.

The Report is produced by a coalition of organisations, that support countries to implement the Every New-born Action Plan. These organisations include, among others, the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Save the Children, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, International Paediatrics Association:IPA, Council of International Neonatal Nurses:COINN, the International Confederation of Midwives:ICM, European Foundation for the Care of New-born Infants, Pre-term Birth Initiative, Sick Kids Centre for Global Health, Every Preemie at Scale and Little Octopus. 

Read the Report:::ω.

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The World Global Progress on Reducing Child Deaths

|| November 19: 2016: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine News || ά. Around 05.9 million children worldwide died before reaching the age of five, including 02.7 million newborns, according to 2015 estimates, published in The Lancet. Globally, more than four million fewer child deaths occurred in 2015 than in 2000, mainly thanks to reductions in deaths from pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, death during birth and measles. This image, let it be the window to show the world and world humanity that humanity always rises back up from the ashes and flies a phoenix. Nothing, can destroy this eternal phoenix that humanity is.

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