A gut bacterium as a fountain of youth

Move over Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. There’s a new health-promoting gut bacterium, and it’s called Akkermansia muciniphila.

You will not find its benefits at the bottom of a yogurt cup. But a new study has identified more than one way to nurture its growth in the gut, and offered evidence that it may maintain — and even restore — health as we age.

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Published this week in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the new research found that in mice and monkeys whose metabolisms had grown cranky with age, taking steps to boost A. muciniphila in the gut reduced the animals’ insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance is the gradual impairment of the body’s ability to efficiently use food for fuel. It is best known as a way station on a patient’s path to developing type 2 diabetes.

But insulin resistance is also linked to a rogue’s gallery of ills, from obesity and inflammation to the sagging immunity and frailty that comes with advancing age. If a readily available means of slowing or reversing insulin resistance could be identified, it might have broad and powerful anti-aging effects (in addition to protecting some of the world’s 650 million adults who are obese against developing type 2 diabetes).

First identified in 2004, Akkermansia muciniphila inhabits the large intestine and is thought to account for between 1% and 5% of all intestinal bacteria in adults. Scientists suspect it helps preserve the coat of mucus that lines the walls of our intestines. It may also play a role in making the polyphenols we eat in plant-based foods more available to our cells.

Evidence is mounting that A. muciniphila is involved in obesity, glucose metabolism and intestinal immunity.

For instance, a 2018 study of cancer patients suggests that it plays a role in immune response. Compared to patients who failed to be helped by a new generation of immunotherapy, those who did had a greater abundance of Akkermansia in their guts. When researchers took the stool of a patient who responded positively to the cancer-fighting therapy and transplanted it into lab animals with human cancers, the recipients became more likely to respond positively to the same treatment.

In the new research, a team from the National Institute on Aging examined the molecular chain of events that appears to result from A. muciniphila’s depletion in mice and macaque monkeys. And they assessed the effects of restoring this gut microbe to elderly animals.

First, they documented that the guts of older animals had markedly smaller populations of A. muciniphila than the guts of young animals, and that as A. muciniphila became more scarce, so did butyrate, one of the gut’s key protectors.

The deficiency of these two substances caused the mucous walls of the of the aged animals’ intestines to thin and grow leaky. That corrosive process unleashed a chain of events that touched off inflammation, prompted an immune response and, in a final step, increased insulin resistance.

Key to that final step was the accumulation in the gut of a specific kind of immune cell called 4BL cells. If the detrimental chain of events was to be disrupted, the accumulation of those 4BL cells probably had to be stopped, the researchers surmised.

The researchers also documented what appeared to be a role for A. muciniphila in fostering healthy diversity among the garden of other microbes that colonize the gut. In animals with scant populations of A. muciniphila, a host of other common gut bacteria — as well as their beneficial byproducts, particularly butyrate — also suffered.

When the researchers gave aged mice butyrate, the result was higher A. muciniphila levels and levels of insulin resistance that approached those seen in the younger animals.

They got the same results when they gave aged mice and macaque monkeys the antibiotic enrofloxacin, a broad-spectrum antibiotic used in veterinary medicine. In both animals, enrofloxacin — which is not considered safe for use in humans — routinely wiped out the 4BL cells that were thought to be a key link in the chain leading to insulin resistance. With them out of the picture, A. muciniphila levels rose and insulin resistance largely disappeared, demonstrating their pivotal role.

The results suggest “that the insulin resistance and other pathologies associated with aging and even frailty can be ameliorated by targeting” the cascade of events that flow from the depletion of of Akkermansia muciniphila, the study authors wrote.

Belgian researcher Patrice Cani, who is exploring a probiotic form of Akkermansia that could increase its presence in the human gut, said the new findings are “perfectly in line” with studies that have shown the bacteria’s impact on insulin sensitivity.

Finding the power of this gut bacteria in macaque monkeys is a particularly important step forward that supports “even more the need for future research in humans,” added Cani, who is based at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.

Cani and his colleagues have just finished a small study in humans to investigate the safety and the feasibility of taking Akkermansia in a form that will boost its populations in the gut — a first. The results to date have been encouraging, he said.

Sources: The Los Angeles Times

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Ketogenic Diet

Benefits of Ketogenic Diet:

A ketogenic diet is a dietary approach that focuses on minimal carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein and high healthy fat consumption — the three keys to achieving nutritional ketosis. In fact, it’s what is recommend for most people who would like to optimize their health.

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There are many reasons why you should try a ketogenic diet. It can be very beneficial for people suffering from chronic conditions, or for those who would simply like to be healthier. You’ll be excited to know that a ketogenic diet can help with the following:

Weight loss — If you’re trying to lose weight, then a ketogenic diet is one of the best ways to do it, because it helps access your body fat so that it can be shed. Obese people in particular can benefit from this method. In one study, obese test subjects were given a low-carb ketogenic diet and a low-fat diet. After 24 weeks, researchers noted that the low-carb group lost more weight (9.4 kilograms or 20.7 pounds) compared to the low-fat group (4.8 kilograms or 10.5 pounds)

Fighting inflammation — The human body can use both sugar and fat as fuel sources. However, the latter is preferred because it is a cleaner, healthier fuel that releases far fewer reactive oxygen species (ROS) and secondary free radicals. By eliminating sugar from your daily food consumption, you’re decreasing your risk of developing chronic inflammation throughout your body.

Increasing muscle mass — Jeff Volek, Ph.D., is a registered dietitian specializing in how a high-fat, low-carb diet can affect health and athletic performance. He’s written many scientific articles on this topic, as well as two books, and he explains that ketones have a similar structure to branched-chain amino acids that can be useful for building muscle mass. Ketones spare these amino acids, leaving higher levels of them around, which can help promote muscle mass.

Reducing appetite — Constant hunger can cause you to consume more calories than you can burn, which can eventually lead to weight gain. A ketogenic diet can help you avoid this problem because reducing carbohydrate consumption can reduce hunger symptoms. In one study, participants who were given a low-carbohydrate diet had reduced appetites, helping them lose weight easier.

Lowering insulin levels — When you consume carbs, they are broken down into sugars in your body. In turn, this causes your blood sugar levels to rise and leads to a spike in your insulin. Over time, you may develop insulin resistance, which can progress to Type 2 diabetes.

By altering your diet to a ketogenic approach, you can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. In a study published in Nutrition & Metabolism, researchers noted that diabetics who ate low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets were able to significantly reduce their dependency on diabetes medication, and may even reverse it eventually.

The Ketogenic Diet May Help Lower Your Risk of Cancer
Cancer is a devastating disease and is one of the leading causes of death all over the world. To make things worse, the medical profession has practically ignored evidence that indicates cancer as a metabolic and mitochondrial problem, causing conventional cancer treatment methods to fall short on their promises.

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control (refractory) epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fueling brain function. However, if there is little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, leads to a reduction in the frequency of epileptic seizures. Almost half of children and young people with epilepsy who have tried some form of this diet saw the number of seizures drop by at least half, and the effect persists even after discontinuing the diet. There is some evidence that adults with epilepsy may benefit from the diet, and that a less strict regimen, such as a modified Atkins diet, is similarly effective. The most common adverse effect is constipation, affecting about 30% of patients—this was due to fluid restriction, which was once a feature of the diet, but this led to increased risk of kidney stones and is no longer considered beneficial.

Adverse effects of ketogenic diet:
The ketogenic diet is not a benign, holistic or natural treatment for epilepsy; as with any serious medical therapy, there may be complications. These are generally less severe and less frequent than with anticonvulsant medication or surgery. Common but easily treatable short-term side effects include constipation, low-grade acidosis and hypoglycaemia if there is an initial fast. Raised levels of lipids in the blood affect up to 60% of children and cholesterol levels may increase by around 30%. This can be treated by changes to the fat content of the diet, such as from saturated fats towards polyunsaturated fats, and, if persistent, by lowering the ketogenic ratio. Supplements are necessary to counter the dietary deficiency of many micronutrients.

Long-term use of the ketogenic diet in children increases the risk of slowed or stunted growth, bone fractures and kidney stones. The diet reduces levels of insulin-like growth factor 1, which is important for childhood growth. Like many anticonvulsant drugs, the ketogenic diet has an adverse effect on bone health. Many factors may be involved such as acidosis and suppressed growth hormone. About 1 in 20 children on the ketogenic diet will develop kidney stones (compared with one in several thousand for the general population). A class of anticonvulsants known as carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (topiramate, zonisamide) are known to increase the risk of kidney stones, but the combination of these anticonvulsants and the ketogenic diet does not appear to elevate the risk above that of the diet alone. The stones are treatable and do not justify discontinuation of the diet. Johns Hopkins Hospital now gives oral potassium citrate supplements to all ketogenic diet patients, resulting in a sevenfold decrease in the incidence of kidney stones. However, this empiric usage has not been tested in a prospective controlled trial. Kidney stone formation (nephrolithiasis) is associated with the diet for four reasons:

*Excess calcium in the urine (hypercalciuria) occurs due to increased bone demineralisation with acidosis. Bones are mainly composed of calcium phosphate. The phosphate reacts with the acid, and the calcium is excreted by the kidneys.

*Hypocitraturia: the urine has an abnormally low concentration of citrate, which normally helps to dissolve free calcium.

*The urine has a low pH, which stops uric acid from dissolving, leading to crystals that act as a nidus for calcium stone formation.

Many institutions traditionally restricted the water intake of patients on the diet to 80% of normal daily needs; this practice is no longer encouraged.

In adolescent and adults, common side effects reported include weight loss, constipation, dyslipidemia and, in women, dysmenorrhea.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketogenic_diet
https://articles.mercola.com/ketogenic-diet.aspx

The Art of Aging Gracefully


Ageing occurs in all animals. In humans, it is believed to occur in part because stem cells stop regenerating damaged organs and the telomeres, or strands, in DNA shorten, and bits and pieces disappear. DNA is damaged and repair is no longer rapid and efficient. All these changes mean that the person becomes physically and mentally weaker.

How soon you age is both genetically and environmentally determined. You can be born with excellent genes but ruin everything by living in a polluted city and adopting bad lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking, drug use and overeating (obesity).

The body starts to age around 40. Bones become weaker (osteopenia) and muscles deteriorate (sarcopenia). Almost half the muscle mass disappears by the age of 70. It is replaced by fibrous tissue and fat. This reduces physical strength, making one unable to lift even small weights, get up easily from a chair or climb a flight of 10 stairs.

Fat weighs more than muscle, so perceived weight gain often makes people go on a diet. Unbalanced nutrition, without the recommended amount of protein (0.8 grams per kilo of body weight) aggravates sarcopenia. Many people in India have diabetes. Insulin resistance increases with lack of muscle mass, resulting in poor diabetic control.

Sometimes, people take protein drinks, powdered supplements and vitamins in the belief that they will somehow reverse muscle loss and ageing. With the exception of Vitamin D3, folic acid, Vitamin B12 and iron supplements ( if necessary), most megavitamins and supplements are not needed.

Walking, jogging, cycling or swimming for 30-40 minutes a day six days a week works for cardiovascular fitness. Unfortunately, all the muscles are not used during these exercises. To offset wasting, neglected muscles also need to be worked out.

Housework and cooking are exhausting but not exercise. Women need to do aerobic exercise and weights to keep themselves physically fit.

Both men and women should train with light weights three times a week for 20 minutes to prevent osteopenia and sarcopenia. Before starting, get medical clearance. Get a professional trainer to teach you the proper technique.

Mental slowing can be tackled with mind games, new skills and memorising poetry and books.

Yoga provides a workout for the entire body, strengthens all muscles, improves posture and balance, and prevents falls. We need to go back to our roots to stay fit and healthy, and age gracefully.

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1.ALWAYS THINK POSITIVE

2.NEVER SAY PAST WAS GOOD AND PRESENT IS BAD

3.ALWAYS ACCEPT THE CHANGES

4.NEVER GRUMBLE FOR ANYTHING

5.TRY TO LOVE LONELINESS ENJOY IT WITHEN

6.DO MEDITATION DAILY

Viburnum tinus

Botanical Name: Viburnum tinus
Family: Adoxaceae
Genus: Viburnum
Species: V. tinus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:Dipsacales

Common Names: Laurustinus, laurustinus viburnum, or laurestine

Other Name: French Name: Laurier-tin, Viorne tin

Habitat: Viburnum tinus is native to the Mediterranean area of Europe and North Africa.It grows mainly in the Mediterranean maquis and in oak forests. It prefers shady, moist areas, at an altitude of 0–800 metres (0–2,625 ft) above sea level. Laurus signifies the leaves’ similarities to bay laurel.

Description:
It is a shrub (rarely a small tree) reaching 2–7 m (7–23 ft) tall and 3 m (10 ft) broad, with a dense, rounded crown. The leaves are evergreen, persisting 2–3 years, ovate to elliptic, borne in opposite pairs, 4–10 cm long and 2–4 cm broad, with an entire margin. The flowers are small, white or light pink, produced from reddish-pink buds in dense cymes 5–10 cm diameter in the winter. The fragrant flowers are bisexual and pentamerous. The flowering period is from October to June. Pollination is by insects. The fruit is a dark blue-black drupe 5–7 mm long.

There are three subspecies:

*Viburnum tinus subsp. tinus. Mediterranean region.

*Viburnum tinus subsp. rigidum (syn. V. rigidum). Canary Islands.

*Viburnum tinus subsp. subcordatum. Azores.

Leaves have domatia where predatory and microbivorous mites can be housed

Foliage:
*Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
*Leaf Venation: Pinnate
*Leaf Persistance: Evergreen
*Leaf Type: Simple
*Leaf Blade: 5 – 10 cm
*Leaf Margins: Entire
*Leaf Textures: Rough
*Leaf Scent: Unpleasant
*Color(growing season): Green
*Color(changing season): Green

Flower :
*Flower Showiness: True
*Flower Size Range: 7 – 10
*Flower Type: Umbel
*Flower Sexuality: Monoecious (Bisexual)
*Flower Scent: Pleasant
*Flower Color: White
*Seasons: Spring

Trunk:
*Trunk Susceptibility to Breakage: Generally
resists breakage
*Number of Trunks: Can be trained to one trunk
*Trunk Esthetic Values: Not Showy

Fruit:
*Fruit Type: Drupe
*Fruit Showiness: True
*Fruit Size Range: 0 – 1.5
*Fruit Colors: Blue
*Seasons: Spring

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Medicinal Uses:
Viburnum tinus has medicinal properties. The active ingredients are viburnin (a substance or more probably a mixture of compounds) and tannins. Tannins can cause stomach upset. The leaves when infused have antipyretic properties. The fruits have been used as purgatives against constipation. The tincture has been used lately in herbal medicine as a remedy for depression. The plant also contains iridoid glucosides.

Viburnum tinus has good Homeopathic medicinal value.

Other Uses:      Viburnum tinus is a very good Landscape Plant. 

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viburnum_tinus
https://landscapeplants.aub.edu.lb/Plants/GetPDF/635ce76e-da16-43e0-9bbc-88a06fc81993

Dry eye syndrome

Description:
Dry eye syndrome is a common eye condition caused by a poor quality of tears or an inadequate quantity of tears. Tears are necessary to keep the surface of the eye properly lubricated, keeping it moist and free from dust and other particulates.

In healthy eyes, basal tears continuously wet the cornea with every blink. This nourishes the cornea and provides a liquid layer of protection from a variety of environmental factors. When glands fail to produce enough tears, eye health and vision may become compromised. Tears on the surface of the eye also play a vital role in focusing light. Dryness of the eye may cause focusing and overall vision problems.

Tears are composed of water, mucus, fatty oils and over 1,500 different proteins that lubricate the eye. Along with inadequate production of tears, if the composition of the tears becomes imbalanced, dry eye symptoms may occur.

The risk for developing dry eye syndrome increases with age, and women have a higher prevalence of this condition compared to men. Certain medications and certain underlying health conditions may cause it, resulting in the bothersome symptoms including scratchy, burning, itchy, red, weeping and tearing eyes.

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Symptoms:
*Itchiness ranging from mild to severe

*Excessive tearing

*Weeping of mucus

*Stringy mucus upon waking or during the day

*Burning sensation

*Stinging

*Redness

*Feeling something is in the eye

*Eyelids feel heavy

*Blurred vision

*Sensitivity to light

*Difficulty wearing contact lenses

*Difficulty driving at night

*Eye Fatigue

Causes:
Dry eyes are caused by a lack of adequate tears. Your tears are a complex mixture of water, fatty oils and mucus. This mixture helps make the surface of your eyes smooth and clear, and it helps protect your eyes from infection.

For some people, the cause of dry eyes is decreased tear production. For others it’s increased tear evaporation and an imbalance in the makeup of your tears.

Decreased tear production:

Dry eyes can occur when you’re unable to produce enough tears. The medical term for this condition is keratoconjunctivitis sicca (ker-uh-toe-kun-junk-tih-VY-tis SIK-uh). Common causes of decreased tear production include:

Aging:
*Certain medical conditions, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome, thyroid disorders and vitamin A deficiency

*Certain medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants, and drugs for high blood pressure, acne, birth control and Parkinson’s disease

*Laser eye surgery, though symptoms of dry eyes related to this procedure are usually temporary

*Tear gland damage from inflammation or radiation

*Increased tear evaporation

Common causes of increased tear evaporation include:

*Wind, smoke or dry air

*Blinking less often, which tends to occur when you’re concentrating, for example, while reading, driving or working at a computer

*Eyelid problems, such as out-turning of the lids (ectropion) and in-turning of the lids (entropion)

*Imbalance in tear composition

The tear film has three basic layers: oil, water and mucus. Problems with any of these layers can cause dry eyes. For example, the oil film produced by small glands on the edge of your eyelids (meibomian glands) might become clogged. Blocked meibomian glands are more common in people with inflammation along the edge of their eyelids (blepharitis), rosacea or other skin disorders.

Risk factors:

Factors that make it more likely that you’ll experience dry eyes include:

*Being older than 50. Tear production tends to diminish as you get older. Dry eyes are more common in people over 50.

*Being a woman. A lack of tears is more common in women, especially if they experience hormonal changes due to pregnancy, using birth control pills or menopause.

*Eating a diet that is low in vitamin A, which is found in liver, carrots and broccoli, or low in omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, walnuts and vegetable oils

*Wearing contact lenses

Diagnosis:
If your eyes feel dry and you suddenly find yourself unable to see as well as you used to, visit an ophthalmologist right away. After describing your symptoms, you’ll likely undergo tests that examine the amount of tears in your eyes, such as a slit lamp, or biomicroscope, exam of your tears. For this test, your doctor will use a dye such as fluorescein to make the tear film on your eyes more visible.

A Schirmer’s test may also be used to measure how quickly your eyes produce tears. This tests your rate of tear production using a paper wick placed on the edge of your eyelid. Your eye doctor also might refer you to a specialist. Which doctor they’ll refer you to depends on the underlying cause of your condition. For example, they can refer you to an allergist if you have chronic allergies.

Treatment:
Artificial Tears:
Eye drops that increase your eye moisture are among the most common treatments for dry eye syndrome. Artificial tears also work well for some people.

Lacrimal Plugs:
Your eye doctor might use plugs to block the drainage holes in the corners of your eyes. This is a relatively painless, reversible procedure that slows tear loss. If your condition is severe, the plugs may be recommended as a permanent solution.

Medications:
The medication most commonly prescribed for dry eye syndrome is an anti-inflammatory called cyclosporine (Restasis). The drug increases the amount of tears in your eyes and lowers the risk of damage to your cornea. If your case of dry eye is severe, you may need to use corticosteroid eye drops for a short time while the medication takes effect. Alternative medications include cholinergics such as pilocarpine. These medications help stimulate tear production.

If another medication is causing your eyes to become dry, your doctor may switch your prescription to try to find one that doesn’t dry out your eyes.

Nutrition:
You need a well-balanced diet with enough protein and vitamins to keep your eyes healthy. Omega-3 essential fatty acid supplements are sometimes recommended to enhance the oil content of the eye. Usually, people need to take these supplements regularly for at least three months to see an improvement.

Surgery:
If you have severe dry eye syndrome and it doesn’t go away with other treatments, your doctor may recommend surgery. The drainage holes at the inner corners of your eyes may be permanently plugged to allow your eyes to maintain an adequate amount of tears.

Home Care:
If you tend to have dry eyes, use a humidifier to increase moisture in the room and avoid dry climates. Limit your contact lens wear and the time you spend in front of the computer or television.

Prevention:
If you experience dry eyes, pay attention to the situations that are most likely to cause your symptoms. Then find ways to avoid those situations in order to prevent your dry eyes symptoms. For instance:

*Avoid air blowing in your eyes. Don’t direct hair dryers, car heaters, air conditioners or fans toward your eyes.

*Add moisture to the air. In winter, a humidifier can add moisture to dry indoor air.

*Consider wearing wraparound sunglasses or other protective eyewear. Safety shields can be added to the tops and sides of eyeglasses to block wind and dry air. Ask about shields where you buy your eyeglasses.

*Take eye breaks during long tasks. If you’re reading or doing another task that requires visual concentration, take periodic eye breaks. Close your eyes for a few minutes. Or blink repeatedly for a few seconds to help spread your tears evenly over your eyes.

*Be aware of your environment. The air at high altitudes, in desert areas and in airplanes can be extremely dry. When spending time in such an environment, it may be helpful to frequently close your eyes for a few minutes at a time to minimize evaporation of your tears.

*Position your computer screen below eye level. If your computer screen is above eye level, you’ll open your eyes wider to view the screen. Position your computer screen below eye level so that you won’t open your eyes as wide. This may help slow the evaporation of your tears between eye blinks.

*Stop smoking and avoid smoke. If you smoke, ask your doctor for help devising a quit-smoking strategy that’s most likely to work for you. If you don’t smoke, stay away from people who do. Smoke can worsen dry eyes symptoms.

*Use artificial tears regularly. If you have chronic dry eyes, use eyedrops even when your eyes feel fine to keep them well-lubricated.

*Wash your eyes with freah cold water everytime you come back home from outside.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-eyes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371863
https://www.healthline.com/health/dry-eye-syndrome#diagnosis
https://draxe.com/dry-eye-syndrome/