Probiotics may help ease depression claims Study

Agencies
July 8,2020

Probiotics that broaden the mix of helpful bacteria in the gut may help to ease depression, say researchers.

Foods that broaden the profile of helpful bacteria in the gut are collectively known as probiotics. These "good bacteria" can be taken as supplements, or found naturally in yoghurts or fermented foods.

For the findings, the research team from the University of Brighton in the UK searched for relevant studies published in English between 2003 and 2019, which looked at the potential therapeutic contribution of pre-and probiotics in adults with depression and/or anxiety disorders.

Out of an initial haul of 71 studies, just seven met all the criteria for inclusion. All 7 investigated at least one probiotic strain; four looked at the effect of combinations of multiple strains.In all, 12 probiotic strains featured in the selected studies, primarily Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, and Bifidobacterium bifidium.

One study looked at combined pre-probiotic treatment, while one looked at prebiotic therapy by itself. The studies varied considerably in their design, methods used, and clinical considerations, but all of them concluded that probiotic supplements either alone or in combination with prebiotics may be linked to measurable reductions in depression.

And every study showed a significant fall or improvement in anxiety symptoms and clinically relevant changes in biochemical measures of anxiety or depression with probiotic or combined pre-probiotic use.

Of the 12 different probiotics investigated, 11 were potentially useful, the findings showed.'Probiotics may help reduce the production of inflammatory chemicals, such as cytokines, as is the case in inflammatory bowel disease, the researchers suggested.

"They may help direct the action of tryptophan, a chemical thought to be important in the gut-brain axis in psychiatric disorders," they added.

In this way, with a better understanding of the mechanisms, probiotics may prove to be a useful tool across a wide range of conditions," the authors wrote.

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Biryani tops the list of most ordered dishes in India even during lockdown

Agencies
July 25,2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown saw many people turning chefs overnight, but those who could not turned to online delivery of food. And not just any food, as per a new report, Indians "craved the most for Biryani" during the lockdown.

The "StatEATistics report: The Quarantine Edition" from food delivery platform Swiggy found that Indians ordered biryani over "5.5 lakh times" from their favourite restaurants.

The new normal might have opened a pandora's box of behavioral changes, but some old habits die hard like the love for Biryani, which took the top spot for overall orders. It was followed by butter naan and masala dosa at 3,35,185 and 3,31,423, respectively.

Biryani has topped the list of most ordered dishes for the fourth year in a row, the food delivery platform noted.

Indians didn't forget to indulge their sweet tooth in the uncertain months of lockdown. Their favourite comfort food during the lockdown period was the moist and decadent Choco Lava cake, ordered around 1,29,000 times.

"The humble Gulab Jamun (84,558) and chic Butterscotch Mousse cake (27,317) followed suit," said the report derived from Swiggy's order analysis in the past few months across cities that it is present in.

Also, as birthday parties moved to video calls, and virtual cake cutting sessions, according to the food delivery platform, it delivered nearly "1,20,000 cakes" to complete these celebrations.

According to the report, on average, "65,000 meal orders" were placed by 8 pm each day to make sure food arrived in time for dinner.

"It was the busiest hour for Swiggy delivery partners and restaurants. On average, they (customers) chose to tip Rs.23.65, with one particularly generous customer tipping Rs. 2500!," it added.

For those who only relied on home-made food during the quarantine, Swiggy delivered a whooping 323 million kgs of onions and 56 million kgs of bananas through its grocery section and hence ensured that its consumers were all stocked up.

That said, it also took care of the 'quick-fix meal' tribe -- consumers who resort to the evergreen college hacks of living on instant noodles.

"Around 3,50,000 packets of this ideal easy to cook meal were ordered during the lockdown," it said.

In all, Swiggy delivered 40 million orders across food, groceries, medicines and other household items during India's lockdowns. It also delivered over 73,000 bottles of sanitizers and hand wash along with 47,000 face masks as the definition of essentials' changed during these uncertain times.

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National Bone and Joint Day | Bone and joint problems in obese

Dr G K Sudhakar Reddy
August 4,2020

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Being overweight or obese is now recognised as a serious cause of ill health and disability. There is a significant positive association between orthopaedic disorders and the level of obesity causing pain, deformity and difficulty in walking.

Excess body weight accumulation increases pressure on joints, particularly the hips, knees and ankles.

Here are a few type of  arthritis:

Osteoarthritis

It is a condition of damage/ wear and tear of the joint lining or cartilage. Obesity triggers this by loading excessive weight on the weight bearing joints like the knee and the hip. 

Knee Osteoarthritis

This is the most common arthritis especially in the Indian subcontinent.

While walking, an individual exerts 3 to 6 times pressure that of the body weight on the weight-bearing knee joint, which means in an obese with excess body weight, larger forces are exerted, which lead to higher risk of deterioration of cartilage.

In addition, there are excessive fat tissues that produce hormones and other factors that affect the joint cartilage metabolism and cause inflammation of the joints giving rise to joint pathology.  Leptin is one of the hormones causing knee osteoarthritis. 

Hip osteoarthritis

The force exerted across the hip is 3 times that of body weight. Hip osteoarthritis is caused by factors such as joint injury, increasing age and being overweight.    

Hand osteoarthritis

The observation that obese individual has a higher risk in having hand osteoarthritis has led to a hypothesis that the metabolic effect produced by fat tissue is the underlying factor. 

Osteoporosis

It is a progressive bone condition of decrease in bone mass and density (Bone Mineral Density or BMD) which can lead to an increased risk of fracture. Recent research suggests that obesity may accelerate bone loss. It is the amount of muscle mass which is seen in an active person, which accounts for bone strengthening effects and not due to the fat seen in a heavy person.

Low back pain

Low back pain from degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine is one of the most disabling conditions in the community and overweight and obesity have the strongest association with seeking care for low back pain.

Managing Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis

Life style changes

If one is overweight, try to lose weight by doing more physical activity and eating a healthier diet. Regular exercise keeps you active and mobile and builds up muscle, thereby strengthening the joints and can improve symptoms. 

Pain Killers

Painkillers help with pain and stiffness for short term. They don’t affect the arthritis itself and won’t repair the damage to your joint. Creams and gels can be applied directly onto painful joints.

Nutritional Supplements

Glucosamine and chondroitin are nutritional supplements. Animal studies have found that glucosamine can both delay the breakdown of and repair damaged cartilage. However, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of glucosamine in humans and one can expect only a mild-to-moderate reduction in pain

Joint injections

If pain from osteoarthritis is severe joint steroid injections are injected into the joints that can reduces swelling and pain. The injections can start working within a day or so and may improve pain for several weeks or months. 

Hyaluronic acid injections, which help to lubricate your knee joint also give short term relief. In early stages. Stem cell treatment or cartilage regeneration procedures are being tried in young people with small defects, however it is still experimental and lacks long term evidence.

Surgery

May be recommended if you have severe pain or mobility problems.

Arthroscopy

If one has frequent painful locking/stiffening episodes especially in the knee joint, an operation to wash out loose fragments of bone and other tissue as joint can be performed by a minimally invasive key hole procedure called Arthroscopy.

Arthrodesis

If hip or knee replacement is not suitable, especially in young people who do heavy manual work, one can consider an operation known as an arthrodesis, which fuses your joint in a permanent position. This means that your joint will be stronger and much less painful, although you will no longer be able to move it.

Osteotomy

In young, active people in whom a knee joint replacement would fail due to excessive use one can consider an operation called an osteotomy. This involves adding or removing a small section of bone either above or below your knee joint.  This helps realign your knee so your weight is no longer focused on the damaged part of your knee. An osteotomy can relieve your symptoms of osteoarthritis, although you may still need knee replacement surgery eventually as you grow old

Joint replacement surgery

Joint replacement therapy is most commonly carried out to replace hip and knee joints. It involves replacing a damaged, worn or diseased joint with an artificial joint made of special plastics and metal.

For most people, a replacement hip or knee will last for at least 20 years, especially if it is cared for properly and not put under too much strain.

Dr G K Sudhakar Reddy is a Sr Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Citizens Speciality Hospitals, Hyderabad

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Nutrition, cardiovascular disease experts urge evaluation of diet at routine healthcare check-ups

Agencies
August 11,2020

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Dallas, Aug 11: A group of nutrition and cardiovascular disease experts issued a new scientific statement which states that the time has come for routine healthcare visits to include some form of dietary assessment and counselling.

The statement issued from the American Heart Association was published today in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal. The experts recommend the adoption of a rapid diet screening tool that can be integrated into electronic health record platforms across all healthcare settings.

"Dietary patterns and quality are not sufficiently prioritised when addressing modifiable risk factors during regular healthcare office visits. Given the evidence that diet contributes to disease and mortality, it is a risk factor worth screening for continuously," said Maya Vadiveloo, Ph.D., RD, chair of the statement writing group and assistant professor of nutrition and health sciences in the College of Health Science at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, Rhode Island.

Poor diet quality has surpassed all other risk factors for death, accounting for 11 million deaths and about half of the cardiovascular disease (CVD) deaths globally, according to the 2017 Global Burden of Disease Study, a comprehensive report on the health impact of diet in 195 countries around the world.

The statement authors reviewed 15 existing screening tools, assessing each to provide insight into the feasibility of incorporating an evidence-based dietary screening tool into routine practice.

The authors list numerous reasons why members of a healthcare team may not address diet quality during a routine office visit: lack of training and knowledge; lack of time and reimbursement; competing demands during the often short office visit and that nutrition services aren't integrated into many healthcare settings.

"However, these barriers can be overcome," said Vadiveloo. "We want a valid, reliable way to assess diet that reflects the best science and most of the tools assessed take under 10 minutes to use."

Three of the tools assessed to meet criteria set forth in the statement and may provide a framework to help practices incorporate diet screening into their workflow. The Powell and Greenberg Screening Tool asks two questions about fruit and vegetable consumption and sugary food and juice consumption.

The Rapid Eating Assessment for Participants-Shortened assessment and the Mediterranean Diet Adherence Screener ask more than 10 questions and cover major food groups, as well as processed foods and alcohol consumption.

The keys to an effective diet screening tool include:

-Using an evidence-based approach;
-Assessing the total dietary pattern, not just a single food or nutrient;
-Speed;
-The ability to give actionable next steps and support to patients; and
-The ability to track and monitor dietary change over time.

"There are other tools beyond what was assessed and additional tools could be developed," said Vadiveloo.

While the statement does not endorse a specific screening tool, it encourages critical conversations among clinicians, individuals with diet/lifestyle expertise, and specialists in information technology to adopt rapid diet screening tools for adults in primary care and relevant specialty care and prevention settings.

"An important component in addition to evaluating diet quality is targeting actionable changes - helping patients set achievable dietary goals - and then following up at the next visit," said Alice H. Lichtenstein, D.Sc., vice-chair of the writing group and lead and senior scientist of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Team at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.

Areas for future study include testing and validating screener tools in diverse populations, as well as among special clinical populations (paediatrics, geriatrics), and evaluating the feasibility of implementing these tools in clinical settings.

A healthy diet can improve cardiovascular disease risk and outcomes. What you eat (and how much) can affect other controllable risk factors, such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and being overweight. 

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