Monthly Archives: August 2009

Throw Away Your Shoes

Wearing shoes alters the shape and normal functioning of the feet, researchers have found.
…………………..BARE FOOT WALKING
Barefoot walkers in south India, who have never worn a pair of shoes or sandals in their entire lives, are teaching a lesson or two about footwear — that constantly using shoes alters the normal form and function of the foot, and that this may even lead to the development of an undesirable peak pressure under the sole, which in some cases could become life threatening.

Nearly 100 barefoot walkers from the interiors of Mandya, Kolar and Bangalore districts in Karnataka, India, left a footprint in the world of academics when a multinational team of researchers from Belgium, India and the UK descended on them to record their footfall.

Team leader Kristiaan D’Aout, a biologist at the University of Antwerp in Belgium, had always wanted to study the changes that footwear brings to the human feet. The idea was to gain an insight into normal foot functioning, which has evolved over millions of years.

However, with no barefoot walkers in Europe, D’Aout was forced to keep the idea in cold storage until he met Vinaya Anand Suratkal, a doctor from the Bangalore-based Jain Institute of Vascular Sciences (JIVAS), at a conference in Vienna about two years ago. JIVAS, which is part of the Bhagawan Mahaveer Jain Hospital in Bangalore, runs a mobile clinic that travels to rural areas in and around Bangalore to screen and treat those suffering from foot ulcers associated with diabetes.

The study, which won this year’s Nike Research Award — instituted by the sports goods giant Nike — studied the morphology and biomechanical functions of the feet in three distinct healthy populations: barefoot walkers, habitually shod Indians, and Europeans who have always worn footwear. It found that barefoot walkers have a relatively wider forefoot and the pressure is distributed more evenly over the entire surface of the sole than in the other two groups.

Habitually shod Indians wear shoes less often than Westerners do. Also, their shoes are less constraining. Yet, the scientists found significant differences when compared to their habitually barefoot peers, both in the foot shape and pressure distribution.

“The evolutionary history of humans shows that barefoot walking is the natural situation,” D’Aout told KnowHow. While the use of shoes remains a necessity when one walks on unsafe surfaces and in athletics, footwear fails to respect the natural shape and function of the feet.

The researchers hope that the findings will not only help clinicians who treat foot ulcers, but will also lead to the designing of better footwear that will not hamper the feet’s biologically normal functions.

D’Aout’s chance meeting with Vinaya, who was in Vienna to present a paper on the work being done at JIVAS, seemed like a golden opportunity to the Belgium biologist. Realising that many in India still do not wear shoes for religious or financial reasons, he decided to collaborate with the researchers at JIVAS. “Kristiaan approached us with his idea and we thought it was fascinating,” says Kalkunte R. Suresh, director of JIVAS. “When our mobile van goes into the villages, the patients generally do not come alone; they are accompanied by a few other healthy relatives. We requested these healthy individuals, who have never worn shoes or sandals in their life, to participate in the study and walk on a foot scanner,” says Suresh.

D’Aout is not saying that people shouldn’t wear footwear. “Footwear is a wonderful invention. But the human foot is adapted to barefoot walking,” he says.

The study has shown that wearing shoes lifelong leads to an increase in peak pressure under the sole. “This is certainly bad in some people (it causes ulceration in diabetes patients), and it remains to be seen whether it is a real problem in healthy people. It does make sense to have low pressures though, but nobody knows exactly if there is, for example, a threshold value of pressure that should not be exceeded,” he explains.

“We have shown that footwear does change the foot, and so it makes sense to walk barefoot every now and then (at least for healthy people and, of course, ensuring that the walking surface is safe),” adds D’Aout. This, he says, will keep the feet in shape and the muscles trained.

According to D’Aout, people in India have better footwear habits than those in the West. They often wear open shoes and wear them less often (for example, many prefer to walk barefoot in the house). Besides, children too mostly walk barefoot.

The study also found that wearing shoes throughout makes one’s feet narrower and leads to poor load distribution. Besides, it is better not to wear shoes that constrain the toes (like do some fashionable women’s footwear) or are overly protective (like mountaineering boots) for everyday use.

So be careful about what footwear you use, and when to fling them off. Go ahead, just do it.

Source:
The Telkegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Myths About Asthma

For any type of asthma patient,  country living can be as bad for sufferers as the city.But the belief that they are cure-alls is just one of the myths surrounding the condition, which affects 5.4million people in the UK……..click & see

According to Joy Smith of Asthma UK, expensive measures may not be effective if you have not discovered exactly what has triggered the asthma. And this can be easily established by a simple skin prick test from your GP…………

Country air: But for some asthma sufferers it may be as bad as the city

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If plant pollen is the culprit rather than house-dust mites, for example, it would be better simply to close windows to keep out the pollen.
But if mites are the cause, the widely advertised, expensive measures may be useless anyway, according to the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen, which reviewed 54 studies involving more than 3,000 asthma patients.

It concluded that none of the interventions believed to eradicate dust mites was effective, including the use of specialist cleaning products or washing bedding at temperatures higher than 60C.

A University of Michigan study found that only half of the 1,788 asthma-proofing steps taken by parents of 896 asthmatic children were likely to work.
The others were unproven, unlikely to help or even potentially harmful in a few cases, such as the use of a humidifier. Mites thrive in humid conditions.

Many asthmatics living in cities think their symptoms would be alleviated if they moved to green and traffic-free countryside. But Joy Smith says: ‘There is no best place to live for anyone with asthma, as it depends what your triggers are. There are studies comparing the Scottish Highlands to the city and finding the incidence of asthma the same.’

Asthma myths abound: there’s the belief that steroid treatments stunt growth in children (Asthma UK says that normal doses are fine and while strong doses can delay growth, patients catch up); and that asthmatics cannot exercise or play sports.

Yet exertion is fine as long as the asthma is well managed and a reliever inhaler always at hand. Olympians Lord Coe, Paula Radcliffe and Rebecca Adlington have asthma.
Nor is asthma contagious. ‘Asthma cannot be passed on from one person to another,’ says specialist Vikki Knowles from Asthma UK.

‘It is a condition that develops as a result of complex genetic and environmental factors, although as yet the exact causes remain unknown.’
She also debunks the myth that you can grow out of asthma.
‘A child diagnosed with asthma may no longer experience symptoms when they reach adulthood but the underlying tendency still remains and so symptoms can return in later life,’ she says.

Another widely held belief is that only children get asthma. Says Joy Smith: ‘Asthma can occur at any age – so you could get it for the first time in your 70s. It is often overlooked then.
‘Many people are under the impression that asthma is not a serious condition.
‘And while many people are fortunate enough not to experience severe symptoms, more than half-a-million people in the UK have difficulty controlling it, meaning some cannot do even simple things like running for a bus or dressing themselves.
‘The condition is responsible for 1,200 deaths a year in Great Britain.’

Source: Mail Online.29th.Aug.2009

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Petunia

Botanical Name:Petunia (Ruellia carolinensis)
Family: Solanaceae
Other Name:Named from petun, Brazilian name for tobacco, to which Petunia is allied
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Petunia

Habitat: Petunia is a trumpet shaped, widely-cultivated genus of flowering plants of South American origin,  native to Argentina

Origin,
The origin of P. x hybrida is thought to be by hybridisation between P. axillaris (the large white or night-scented petunia) and P. integrifolia (the violet-flowered petunia). P. axillaris bears night-fragrant, buff-white blossoms with long, thin tubes and somewhat flattened openings. The species was first sent from South America to Paris in 1823. P. integrifolia has a somewhat weedy habit, spreading stems with upright tips, and small lavender to purple flowers. It was discovered in South America by the explorer James Tweedie, after whom the genus Tweedia is named, who sent specimens to the Glasgow Botanical Garden in 1831. Many open-pollinated species are also gaining popularity in the home garden. A wide range of flower colours, sizes, and plant architectures are available in both the hybrid and open-pollinated species.

Description: Petunias are one of the most popular bedding flowers. Although some species of petunia are tropical perennials, today’s hybrids are usually grown as annuals.The leaf arrangement is opposite . Each leaf is entire.  They have wide trumpet shaped flowers and branching foliage that is hairy and somewhat sticky. They are prolific bloomers, although some forms require deadheading to keep them going. Most varieties will bloom throughout the summer, except in extreme heat. You can now find petunias in just about every color but black and blue and with growing habits that mound in borders or trail down containers.

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Categories

Grandiflora
This type of petunias has the largest flowers, up to 4 inches in diameter. Of all the petunias these have the widest variety of forms and colours but are the most likely to be damaged by heavy rain. There are four types of grandiflora and they are classified by their colours, namely, ‘Daddy Series’ (shades of pink and purple), ‘Merlin Blue Morn’ (blue and white), ‘Supercascade Series’ (many colours) and ‘Ultra Series’ (many colours including bi-colour).

Spreading
Spreading petunias (sometimes called ground-cover are characterised by their low height (usually about six inches), but a large spread (about three to four feet). They will cover a large area provided they have adequate water and fertilisation. ‘Purple Wave’ was the first introduced cultivar of spreading petunias and grows to a height of 4 inches. ‘Tidal Wave’ is another spreading type of petunia, but is much taller (between sixteen and twenty two inches). ‘Opera Supreme’ is a cultivar with large flowers.

Milliflora
Milliflora are the smallest of the petunias and about 1 inch across. These are prettiest when mixed with other plants in containers, along garden beds, and edges. Milliflora are available in ‘Fantasy Series’ (red, purple, pink) and are the easiest to find. ‘Supertunia Mini Series’ (blue, pink, lilac, purple and white) are also available in the milliflora category. They tolerate harsh weather better when compared with grandifloras and multifloras

Cultivation or Growing Petunias:

Seeds of Petunias may be sown in the sunny window or hotbed in March, or in the open soil in May. The plants should always stand 9 inches apart. As the seeds are very fine, great care is necessary in sowing and in resisting the temptation to allow more plants to grow than will develop properly. Someone has said that the way to get the best single Petunias is to sow the best doubles, because the seeds of the latter do not produce all double flowers. The slowest and smallest seedlings are more apt to be doubles than those are that germinate rapidly and grow quickly. The better sorts of Petunia seed will frequently cost more than the ordinary and inferior strains, but they are worth the difference.

Petunias prefer full sunlight, but will bloom in partial shade. They will thrive in rather dry soil if this is well enriched, and also upon soil either too rich or too poor for most annuals, if the moisture conditions are right. Thus one may see that the Petunia is most adaptable.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petunia
http://gardening.about.com/od/plantprofiles/a/Petunias.htm
http://www.backyardgardener.com/annual/annual63.html
http://2bnthewild.com/plants/H17.htm

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Whey Protein Improves Heart Health

A wheyprotein-rich ingredient may improve blood vessel function in healthy individuals, reports a new randomized, double-blind study.
Two weeks of supplementation resulted in a 1.5 percent improvement in blood flow. According to the researchers, the whey protein-derived ingredient may work via an angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE)-inhibitory activity.

ACE inhibitors work by inhibiting the conversion of angiotensin I to the potent vasoconstrictor, angiotensin II, thereby improving blood flow and blood pressure.

Resources:
NutraIngredients August 5, 2009
Nutrition Journal July 22, 2009; 8:34

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Everyday Beverages May Cause Dental Erosion

Researchers have warned people to beware of the damage that acidic beverages have on teeth. Yet, for some, the damage and problems associated with drinking sodas, citric juices, or certain teas may have already begun to take effect.

In a recent study, Dr. Mohamed A. Bassiouny revealed three steps to rehabilitate teeth that suffer from dental erosion as a result of the excessive consumption of these products.

Dr. Bassiouny instructs those who are experiencing tooth erosion to first, identify the source of erosion. Then, you should determine and understand how this source affects the teeth in order to implement measures to control and prevent further damage. Lastly, you should stop or reduce consumption of the suspected food or beverage to the absolute minimum.

Information about the acid content of commonly consumed foods or beverages is usually available online or on the product’s label.


Resources:

Science Daily August 8, 2009
General Dentistry May/June 2009

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