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News on Health & Science

Enzyme that Reverses Sun Damage Discovered

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Humans lack a key enzyme found in many animals and plants that reverses severe sun damage. For the first time, researchers have witnessed how this enzyme works at the atomic level to repair sun-damaged DNA.
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Scientists were able to observe the enzyme, called photolyase, inject a single electron and proton into an injured strand of DNA. These subatomic particles healed the damage in a fraction of a second.

According to Physorg:
“[Researchers] synthesized DNA in the lab and exposed it to ultraviolet light, producing damage similar to that of sunburn, then added photolyase enzymes. Using ultrafast light pulses, they took a series of ‘snapshots’ to reveal how the enzyme repaired the DNA at the atomic level.”

Resources:
Physorg July 26, 2010
Nature July 25, 2010 [Epub ahead of print]

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News on Health & Science Pediatric

Phthalates Cause Inflammation in At-Risk Babies

Researchers have identified a direct link between substances that make plastics more pliable, and inflammation in newborns. They are encouraging limiting the use of the plasticizers.
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Premature babies are exposed to extraordinarily high concentrations of phthalates due to exposure to plastic medical equipment used during neonatal intensive care.

Many of the diseases unique to premature babies, including the lung disorder bronchopulmonary dysplasia and the intestinal ailment necrotizing enterocolitis, are associated with excessive inflammation.

Newswise reports:

“… [There is] direct evidence that the presence of phthalates prolongs the survival of white blood cells, which supports the idea that they are contributing to damage and to inflammation … phthalates encourage cells to produce hydrogen peroxide, which … can kill cells and damage tissues.


You may click to see :-

Health Risks of Phthalates

Resources:
Newswise July 20, 2010
Pediatric Research August 2010; 68(2):134-9

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Featured

Friendly Bacteria Blunt Anti-Nutrient Action

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The “good” bacteria strain Bifidobacterium may reduce levels of phytate and phytic acid, compounds which are thought to be behind fiber’s impairment of mineral absorption.

Phytase enzymes produced by strains of bifidobacteria could reduce phytate and phytic acid levels in food.

When compared to high-fiber bread baked traditionally, fermentation of bread with the Bifidobacterium strains led to significantly lower phytic acid levels.

Resources:
Food Navigator October 12, 2009
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry October 9, 2009

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Categories
Featured

Our Body Clock Regulates Our Metabolism

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Scientists have discovered that your circadian rhythms regulate the energy levels in your cells. In addition, the proteins involved with circadian rhythms and metabolism are intrinsically linked and dependent upon each other. This finding has far-reaching implications, which could include new ways to treat cancer, diabetes, obesity and a host of related diseases.

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24-hour circadian rhythms govern fundamental physiological functions in almost all organisms. These circadian clocks are the essential time-tracking systems in your body. Disruption of these rhythms can profoundly influence human health.

In a new study, researchers showed that an enzyme protein which is an essential molecular gear of the circadian machinery interacts with a protein that senses cell energy levels and modulates aging and metabolism.

This suggests that proper sleep and diet may help maintain or rebuild the balance between your circadian clock and your metabolism, and could also help explain why lack of rest or disruption of normal sleep patterns can increase hunger, leading to obesity-related illnesses and accelerated aging.

Sources: Science Daily March 19, 2009

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Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants

Persimmon & Indian Persimmon(Gaub)

Botanical Name: Diospyros peregrina,Embryopteris peregrina, Embryopteris glutenifera and Diospyros embryopteris
Family: Ebenaceae
Genus: Diospyros
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales

English names: Gaub Persimmon, Wild Mangostein.

Sanskrit names:
Kalaskardha, Krishnasara, Tinduka.

Syn : Diospyros embryoteris Pers., D malabarica (Oeser.) Kost.

Telugu Name:Nita Tumiki, Tumiki and Racha-Tumiki

Hindi Name: Make Tendu, Kala-Tendu and Guab

Bangali Name: Gab

Tamil Name:Tumbica,Panickcki and Panichi

Marathi Name: Timbursi

Trade Or Popular Name : Gaub Tree and Indian Persimmon

Habitat: Throughout India; Bangladesh, Malaysia and other South-East Asian countries, also in Australia,  Japan & China

Description: Middle  ­sized, profusely branched tree; stem and branches black, branchlets glabrous; leaves alternate, petioles  ±0.6 to  ±0.8 cm long, lamina thick, leathery, oblong, veines slightly elevated above; male flowers in few or many-flowered short cymes, flowers tubular, 0.8 cm long, lobed, calyx black, silky; female flowers solitary or few together, subsessile or cymose, larger than male flowers, ovary 8-celled; fruits usually solitary, subglobose, 2.5-5.0 cm in diameter, brick  ­colored when young, yellowish when mature, persistent calyx lobed, accrescent 4- to 8   seeded.…..…click & see

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PERSIMMON FLOWER

The most widely cultivated species is the Oriental or Japanese persimmon, Diospyros kaki. In color, the ripe fruit of the cultivated strains range from light yellow-orange to dark red-orange depending on the species and variety. They similarly vary in size from 1.5 to 9 cm (0.5 to 4 in) in diameter, and in shape the varieties may be spherical, acorn-, or pumpkin-shaped. The calyx generally remains attached to the fruit after harvesting, but becomes easy to remove once the fruit is ripe. The ripe fruit has a high glucose content. The protein content is low, but it has a balanced protein profile. Persimmon fruits have been put to various medicinal and chemical uses.

Like the tomato, persimmons are not popularly considered to be berries, but in terms of botanical morphology the fruit is in fact a berry.

Asian persimmon, Japanese persimmon Other Name:Diospyros kaki
The tree is native to Japan, China, Burma and northern India. It is deciduous, with broad, stiff leaves and is known as the shizi in China, and also as the Japanese Persimmon or kaki in Japan. It is the most widely cultivated species. Its fruits are sweet, and slightly tangy with a soft to occasionally fibrous texture. Cultivation of the fruit extended first to other parts of east Asia, India and Pakistan, and was later introduced to California and southern Europe in the 1800s, to Brazil in the 1890s, and numerous cultivars have been selected. It is edible in its crisp firm state, but has its best flavor when allowed to rest and soften slightly after harvest. The Japanese cultivar ‘Hachiya’ is widely grown. The fruit has a high tannin content which makes the immature fruit astringent and bitter. The tannin levels are reduced as the fruit matures. Persimmons like ‘Hachiya’ must be completely ripened before consumption. When ripe, this fruit comprises thick pulpy jelly encased in a waxy thin skinned shell.

“Sharon fruit” (named after the Sharon plain in Israel) is the marketing name for the Israeli-bred cultivar ‘Triumph’. As with all pollination-variant-astringent persimmons, the fruit are ripened off the tree by exposing them to carbon dioxide. The “sharon fruit” has no core, is seedless, particularly sweet, and can be eaten whole.

Diospyros lotus (date-plum)
Date-plum (Diospyros lotus), also know as lotus persimmon, is native to southwest Asia and southeast Europe. It was known to the ancient Greeks as “the fruit of the gods”, or often referred to as “nature’s candy” i.e. Dios pyros (lit. “the wheat of Zeus”), hence the scientific name of the genus. Its English name probably derives from Persian Khormaloo ?????? literally “date-plum”, referring to the taste of this fruit which is reminiscent of both plums and dates. This species is one candidate for the lotus mentioned in the Odyssey: it was so delicious that those who ate it forgot about returning home and wanted to stay and eat lotus with the lotus-eaters.

Diospyros virginiana (American persimmon):
American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is native to the eastern United States. Its fruit is traditionally eaten in a special steamed pudding in the Midwest and sometimes its timber is used as a substitute for ebony (e.g. in instruments).

Diospyros digyna (black persimmon):
Black persimmon or black sapote (Diospyros digyna) is native to Mexico. Its fruit has green skin and white flesh, which turns black when ripe.

Diospyros discolor:
The Mabolo or Velvet-apple (Diospyros discolor) is native to the Philippines. It is bright red when ripe. It is also native to China, where it is known as shizi. It is also known as Korean mango.

Diospyros peregrina (Indian persimmon):
Indian persimmon (Diospyros peregrina) is a slow growing tree, native to coastal West Bengal. The fruit is green and turns yellow when ripe. It is relatively small with an unremarkable flavor and is better known for uses in folk medicine rather than culinary applications.

Diospyros texana (Texas persimmon):
Texas persimmon (Diospyros texana) is a species of persimmon that is native to central and west Texas and southwest Oklahoma in the United States, and eastern Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas in northeastern Mexico. The fruit of D. texana are black on the outside (as opposed to just on the inside as with the Mexican persimmon)subglobose berries with a diameter of 1.5–2.5 cm (0.59–0.98 in) ripen in August. The fleshy berries become edible when they turn dark purple or black. At which point they are sweet and can be eaten from the hand or made into pudding or custard.

Flowering and Fruiting: Summer to rainy season, fruits take 4-5 months to mature.

Edible Uses:  

Persimmons are eaten fresh, dried, raw, or cooked. When eaten fresh, they are usually eaten whole like an apple or cut into quarters, though with some varieties, it is best to peel the skin first. One way to consume very ripe persimmons, which can have a very soft texture, is to remove the top leaf with a paring knife and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Riper persimmons can also be eaten by removing the top leaf, breaking the fruit in half and eating from the inside out. The flesh ranges from firm to mushy, and the texture is unique. The flesh is very sweet and when firm due to being unripe, possesses an apple-like crunch.[citation needed] American persimmons and diospyros digyna are completely inedible until they are fully ripe.

In China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam after harvesting, ‘Hachiya’ persimmons are prepared using traditional hand-drying techniques, outdoors for two to three weeks. The fruit is then further dried by exposure to heat over several days before being shipped to market. In Japan the dried fruit is called hoshigaki (???), in China it is known as “shìb?ng” (??), in Korea it is known as gotgam (hangul: , and in Vietnam it is called h?ng khô. It is eaten as a snack or dessert and used for other culinary purposes.

In Korea, dried persimmon fruits are used to make the traditional Korean spicy punch, sujeonggwa, while the matured, fermented fruit is used to make a persimmon vinegar called gamsikcho .

In Taiwan, fruits of astringent varieties are sealed in jars filled with limewater to get rid of bitterness. Slightly hardened in the process, they are sold under the name “crisp persimmon” (cuishi ??) or “water persimmon” (shuishizi ???). Preparation time is dependent upon temperature (5 to 7 days at 25–28 °C (77–82 °F)). In some areas of Manchuria and Korea, the dried leaves of the fruit are used for making tea. The Korean name for this tea is ghamnip cha .

In the Old Northwest of the United States, persimmons are harvested and used in a variety of dessert dishes most notably pies. It can be used in cookies, cakes, puddings, salads, curries and as a topping for breakfast cereal. Persimmon pudding is a dessert using fresh persimmons. An annual persimmon festival, featuring a persimmon pudding contest, is held every September in Mitchell, Indiana. Persimmon pudding is a baked pudding that has the consistency of pumpkin pie but resembles a brownie and is almost always topped with whipped cream. Persimmons may be stored at room temperature 20 °C (68 °F) where they will continue to ripen. In northern China, unripe persimmons are frozen outside during winter to speed up the ripening process.

Ecology and cultivation: Throughout India, abundant in Bengal; cultivated near habitational sites; occasionally found as ferals; Sri Lanka.

Chemical contents: Root: glycerides; Bark: myricyle alcohol, saponin, triterpenes; Stem: β-sitosterol, α leuconanthocyanin; Leaf: triterpenes; Fruit pulp: alkenes, triterpenes; Seed: betulinic acid, β-amyrin, fatty oil, unsaponified matter.

Medicinal Uses:
Traditional use: SANTAL : (i) Root: in gravel; (ii) Bark: in cholera; (iii) Fruit: in dysentery and menorrhagia; TRIBES OF ABUJH-MARH RESERVE AREA (Madhya Pradesh) : Fruit: in dysentery and as tonic; TRIBES OF BASTAR (Madhya Pradesh) : Fruit: in blister in mouth, diarrhoea.

HARIT SAMHITA : Bark: in gastro-enteritis; BAGBHATTA : Juice of unripe fruit: in restoring normal skin colour after burn; BHABAPRAKASA : Aqueous extract of green fruit: in healing burn-wound; BANGASENA : Powder of dried fruit with honey: licking is beneficial in hiccup in children.

AYURVEDA :
(i) Bark extract: in chronic dysentery; (ii) Aqueous extract of green fruit: in menorrhagia, excessive salivation.

Modern Use: EtOH (50%) extract of stem and leaf: anticancer, diuretic; EtOH (50%) extract of stem bark: antiprotozoal, antiviral, hypoglycaemic.

Other Uses:
Rural people of North Bengal and Bangladesh consume the leaves as vegetable. Fruits are eaten by Bhoxas, Lodhas, Monpas, Santals and Bengalees.

Tribes of Bastar consume the seeds.

Boatmen rub the fruit-juice on the undersurface of boats to protect the wood from rotting, and fishermen use the same in their fishing net for the same purpose.

Adulterants: Often it is confused with Garcinia mangostana and Strychnos nux-vomica. Remarks: Santals use bark in treatment of rinderpest.

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

Resources:
http://www.bsienvis.org/medi.htm#Dillenia%20indica
http://forest.ap.nic.in/Forest%20Flora%20of%20Andhra%20Pradesh/files/ff1008.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persimmon

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