HEALTH & FITNESS

Now ‘anti-obesity’ infant formula
John von Radowitz
Scientists are developing an infant formula designed to be given to babies to prevent them growing up fat. The controversial research aims to supplement baby milk with a hormone that suppresses hunger. Animal studies suggest early exposure to the hormone leptin can programme the brain to prevent over-eating throughout life.

eYESIGHT
Contact lenses: the advantages
Dr Mahipal Sachdev
A lady is concerned why she is finding difficulty in threading the needle, while another is finding eye-strain after reading the news-paper. What is this? This is presbyopia where one loses his/her power to focus at near objects. This happens due to physiological changes which occur in the lens of the eye.

Homoeopathy & you
How spring aggravates allergy
Dr Vikas Sharma
If you are sneezing quite a lot, having a runny nose, itchy eyes and/or having difficulty in breathing in this weather, most probably you are suffering from spring allergy. Spring allergy refers to a condition that occurs in March-May and affects mainly the respiratory system. High levels of pollen count are responsible for naso-bronchial allergies. Also this weather is worse for people living near farms, where it is time for wheat harvesting. Wheat threshing dust is the main culprit. People in cities also get affected by it as the threshing dust gets carried by winds to the adjoining areas.

Health Notes

  • Common trigger for airway inflammation and asthma

  • The loss of a loved one can lead one early to the grave

  • Drug that may cure thousands of genetic illnesses

  • Drinking lots of water may not be of much use to marathoners

 

 

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Now ‘anti-obesity’ infant formula
John von Radowitz

Scientists are developing an infant formula designed to be given to babies to prevent them growing up fat. The controversial research aims to supplement baby milk with a hormone that suppresses hunger.

Animal studies suggest early exposure to the hormone leptin can programme the brain to prevent over-eating throughout life.

But fears have been raised about the safety of tampering with the brains of babies in such a fundamental way.

The infant formula, together with other "child-friendly" leptin preparations, is being developed by Professor Mike Cawthorne, director of metabolic research at the Clore Laboratory, University of Buckingham.

Prof Cawthorne has already shown that giving rats leptin supplements early in life provides permanent protection against obesity and diabetes.

His study, published in the American Journal of Physiology, found even adult animals fed a high-fat diet remained slim.

Leptin is naturally produced throughout life. But the research suggests that in infancy it "hardwires" the body's energy balance settings.

It may even determine whether someone is fat or thin before birth.

Feeding the hormone to pregnant rats seems to have a life-long impact on their offspring. Animals born of leptin-treated mothers remain lean, despite being fed a fat-laden diet. In contrast, those whose mothers were untreated gain weight and develop diabetes.

Prof Cawthorne argues he is only giving babies what they would normally get anyway from their mothers' milk.

"The supplemented milks are simply adding back something that was originally present," he told Chemistry & Industry magazine, which reported on the research. "Breast milk contains leptin and formula feeds don't."

Previous studies looking at the ability of leptin to reduce hunger in human volunteers have proved disappointing.

Prof Cawthorne believes this is because they involved adults, rather than infants. Leptin was only likely to leave its stamp on the malleable brains of babies.

— The Independent


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eYESIGHT
Contact lenses: the advantages
Dr Mahipal Sachdev

A lady is concerned why she is finding difficulty in threading the needle, while another is finding eye-strain after reading the news-paper. What is this?

This is presbyopia where one loses his/her power to focus at near objects. This happens due to physiological changes which occur in the lens of the eye. The human lens is responsible for focusing and is quite elastic in youth. The lens gradually becomes more firm with age. As a result, the distance which we can focus a thing clearly lengthens until suddenly you find out that your arms aren’t long enough to read the paper.

Presbyopia usually strikes around 40 years of age. Myopic patients are at an advantage as they can manage to see clearly the near objects till 43- 45 years of age. Nobody likes this as one has to depend on the reading glasses for day-to- day activities and you find yourself helpless if you lose or misplace them.

There are options for a person to wear glasses or contact lenses to see near objects clearly. Eyeglasses have been the most popular and most efficient form of correction. Contact lens options are also available to help compensate for the natural loss of focusing ability.

Till now patients who used to wear contact lenses for distance vision at young age had to wear reading glasses on top of contact lenses. But now contact lenses are also available as multi-focal contact lenses and so there is no need for wearing glasses on the top of contact lenses.

Multifocal contact lenses have specialised optics to create a lens which has more than a single power. The designs include simultaneous vision and alternating vision lenses. Simultaneous vision lenses provide focus on the retina for objects at near and for objects at distance at the same time. Contact lenses are available in soft and rigid gas permeable materials. Alternating vision lenses are more like traditional bifocals with the lower portion of the lens providing the near power. Since we tend to look down as we view things near, the contact lens must be able to move into proper position in order to work effectively.

Advantages of contact lenses:

  • Contact lenses move with your eye, allow a natural field of view, and greatly reduce distortions.
  • They do not fog up like the traditional glasses.
  • Many people feel they look better in contact lenses.
  • Contact lenses do not get in the way of your activities
  • Contact lenses, compared to eyeglasses, generally offer better sight.

If you are planning to wear your lenses successfully, you will have to clean and store them properly, adhere to lens-wearing schedules, and make appointments for follow-up care with your ophthalmologist. Although technology still requires some compromise on the part of many patients, constant advances in materials and designs should enable even a greater number of presbyopes to enjoy the freedom of functioning without glasses in the years to come.

The writer is Chairman and Medical Director, Centre for Sight, New Delhi. Email: msachdev@bol.net.in


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Homoeopathy & you
How spring aggravates allergy
Dr Vikas Sharma

If you are sneezing quite a lot, having a runny nose, itchy eyes and/or having difficulty in breathing in this weather, most probably you are suffering from spring allergy. Spring allergy refers to a condition that occurs in March-May and affects mainly the respiratory system. High levels of pollen count are responsible for naso-bronchial allergies. Also this weather is worse for people living near farms, where it is time for wheat harvesting. Wheat threshing dust is the main culprit. People in cities also get affected by it as the threshing dust gets carried by winds to the adjoining areas.

Allergy occurs when “allergy triggers” or “allergens” (pollens, molds, dust, etc) come in contact with the mucous membranes (lining) in the nose, airways, lungs, skin and even eyes of those people who have allergies. These allergy triggers cause the immune system to overreact and produce antibodies which then attack the trigger (pollen, etc). Antibodies then try to destroy the trigger by attaching themselves to it, leading to the production of histamine, a chemical that irritates the mucous membranes resulting in swelling, itching and overproduction of mucus. Allergy symptoms include excessive sneezing, runny nose, itching in the eyes, nose, roof of the mouth and even in the ears. Breathing difficulties, coughing and wheezing are very common as spring allergy causes asthma too.

Homoeopathy is very effective in fighting allergies. As homoeopathic medicines work by optimising the overactive immune system, they are very effective in removing allergy in totality from the body. These medicines provide a stimulus (in a highly diluted form) to the body like that of the trigger or allergen leading to the gradual desensitisation of the immune system.

Homoeopathic medicines used for treating allergies mainly come from the plants or substances that in their raw form are usually responsible for causing allergy-like symptoms.

When allergy occurs in the airways and lungs it leads to asthma. Difficult breathing, wheezing and cough are the main symptoms. This is due to the constriction in the small airways and overproduction of mucus in the lungs. Here too homoeopathic medicines are very effective. Aralea racemosa, Arsenic Album, Natrum Sulph are few of the medicines that are very helpful in treating spring asthma.

It is also important to realise that in allergic conditions homoeopathic medicines work by desensitising your overactive immune system. This optimisation of the immune system is not an overnight process and can take some time before appreciable results are achieved.

The writer is a Chandigarh-based homoeopath


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Health Notes


Common trigger for airway inflammation and asthma


Washington: UCSF scientists have discovered that a compound called chitin, which is found on the back of a beetle and crab’s shell, may be the cause for triggering airway inflammation and possibly asthma.

They discovered that chitin leads to an allergic inflammatory response in the lungs of mice, and also increased production of the chitin-destroying enzyme made by cells lining the lung airways. — ANI

The loss of a loved one can lead one early to the grave

London: A recent study has revealed that in a long-term relationship, the death of a partner can increase the chances of the other partner to succumb to potentially fatal ailments like cancer and heart problems.

The study found that such chances increased by 27 per cent, and linked the phenomenon to a couple’s lifestyle like poor diet or smoking. The reason could also be depression caused by the loss of a loved one. — ANI

Drug that may cure thousands of genetic illnesses

Washington: Researchers have demonstrated restoration of muscle function in a mouse model of Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy (DMD), with the help of a new drug that has the potential of also countering thousands of other genetic illnesses.

The researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, PTC Therapeutics Inc. and the University of Massachusetts Medical School demonstrated the functioning of the new drug, developed by the South Plainfield, NJ-biotech firm called PTC124, that binds to the ribosome, a cellular component where the genetic code is translated into proteins, one amino acid at a time. — ANI

Drinking lots of water may not be of much use to marathoners

Washington: Runners may just stop gulping down litres of water while undertaking their laps.

Sports scientists have found that large fluid intake has absolutely no effect on body temperature or performance.

The study was conducted by a team of researchers led by Dr Chris Byrne at the University of Exeter.

As part of the study, scientists monitored a group of male runners taking part in the Singapore Army Half-Marathon, a 21-km race that took place in temperatures between 26 and 29 degrees Celsius and 75-90 per cent relative humidity. — ANI


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