Monthly Archives: February 2017

Begin in gut before affecting the brain

Parkinson’s disease, which involves the malfunction and death of nerve cells in the brain , may originate in the gut, new research suggests, adding to a growing body of evidence supporting the idea.

The new study shows that a protein in nerve cells that becomes corrupted and then forms clumps in the brains of people with Parkinson’s can also be found in cells that line the small intestine. The research was done in both mice and human cells.

The finding supports the idea that this protein first becomes altered in the gut and then travels to the brain, where it causes the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease .

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive movement disorder, affecting as many as 1 million people in the United States and 7 million to 10 million people worldwide, according to the Parkinson’s Disease FoundationThe protein, called alpha-synuclein, is abundant in the brain . And in healthy nerve cells, it dissolves in the fluid within the cell. But in Parkinson’s patients, alpha-synuclein folds abnormally. The misfolded protein can then spread through the nervous system to the brain as a prion, or infectious protein. In the brain, the misfolded protein molecules stick to each other and clump up, damaging neurons.

In 2005, researchers reported that people with Parkinson’s disease who had these clumps in their brains also had the clumps in their guts. Other research published this year looked at people who had ulcers and who underwent a surgery that removed the base of the vagus nerve, which connects the brain stem to the abdomen. These patients had a 40 percent lower risk of developing Parkinson’s later in life compared with people who didn’t have their vagus nerve removed.

Study pits drones against ambulances

They’re already used by international spies and nosy neighbors. And one day in the future, drones may be used to save lives, Reuters reports. Sweden scientists tested whether a drone could be used to rush defibrillators to people suffering heart attacks.

The Karolinska Institute study found that drones beat ambulance time by about 16 minutes. Researchers sent drones to 18 locations within a 6.2-mile radius in Stockholm where EMTs had responded to cardiac arrests between 2006 and 2013; the ambulance vs.

drone arrival times were then compared. The idea is that bystanders would act as life-savers and grab the defibrillators. While no actual heart attack patients participated in the study, defibrillators are commonly found in public places and are “easier to use than a fire extinguisher,” Jacob Hollenberg at Karolinska tells the Guardian.

Cardiac arrest is a leading killer worldwide, with only one in 10 people surviving an attack outside a hospital, per Reuters. “Every second is crucial,” Hollenberg tells the Guardian.

The results published in JAMA show that dispatchers got a drone in the air within a median time of 3 seconds of the emergency call, compared to 3 minutes for an ambulance; the median drone arrival time was 5 minutes, 21 seconds from time of call, versus 22 minutes for the ambulance.

Larger-scale tests are needed, but Hollenberg predicts drone defibrillators could be aloft in Sweden within two years. Researchers are eyeing them for remote areas, too, though current laws in Sweden and elsewhere require them to be operated within sight, per the Guardian.

Alicia Silverstone feeds her son a vegan diet

Alicia Silverstone has been an outspoken advocate for veganism for years, even writing a book in 2011 called The Kind Diet that explains why she chose a plant-based way of eating that doesn’t include meat, fish, seafood, poultry, dairy or eggs. Now, the Clueless actress is discussing her decision to feed her 6-year-old son, Bear Blu, a vegan diet, too.

“Knowing the truth about where our food comes from is just so disturbing to me,” she says in a video for the non-profit Farm Sanctuary’s Compassionate Meals program, as she and Bear eat veggie burgers and kale salad. “Once you see it, there’s no way to go back from that for me.” Bear is also asked what his favorite thing about being a vegan is. His response: “That you don’t have to eat yucky meat.”

Silverstone says it’s easy for her to feed Bear vegan foods, and she regularly makes easy-to-assemble meals like tacos and stir-fries. “I can make all those things based on what’s in the fridge,” she says. “You always have a bean, you always have a whole grain.” Silverstone says being vegan has “turned me into a health nut because you feel so good, you feel so different,” adding, “being able to do something that is good for the Earth, good for the animals, and good for you all at the same time seems like such a no-brainer. It’s like the biggest ‘Duh!’”

Although veganism is popular, feeding children a vegan diet is a controversial move.

According to a 2016 Harris Interactive Poll commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group about 3.7 million American adults identify as vegan. But the decision to put children on a vegan diet frequently comes under fire.

A law proposed in Italy in 2016 would make it illegal for parents to put their children on a vegan diet, which lawmakers referred to as “a diet devoid of elements essential for healthy and balanced growth,” per Reuters. The proposed law came after several high-profile cases in the country involving undernourished children on vegan diets. In one case, a 1-year-old on a vegan diet only weighed as much as a 3-month-old and, in another, a father alleged that his 12-year-old son’s growth was stunted due to a vegan diet chosen by the boy’s mother.

Silverstone has faced criticism in the past for feeding Bear a vegan diet, and she told People in 2014 that her son “loves the food I give him. He’s not being deprived of anything. For him, having amazing fruit is like candy.”

There are mixed messages out there when it comes to kids and vegan diets, and it’s understandable if you’re confused.

Some people claim that children who are raised on a vegan diet won’t get enough nutrients they need to grow into strong adults, while others say it simply encourages healthy eating in children.

So, is it a good idea to feed kids a vegan diet? Ashanti Woods, M.D., a pediatrician at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center, tells SELF that it depends. “Children who consume a vegan diet are generally as healthy, if not more healthy, than children who have a ‘normal’ diet,” he says. Dr. Woods points out that there are various lay definitions of vegetarianism and veganism, but pediatricians pay special attention to true vegans, i.e., those who swear off all animal products. “The more restrictions on a diet, the more pediatricians become concerned because these children are at risk for nutritional deficiencies,” he says.