Weekend funnies …

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Smokers may have more receptors for the new coronavirus

As if smoking weren’t bad enough for you, it seems the new coronavirus likes it, too. The lungs of people who smoke may contain more of the receptors that the new coronavirus uses to invade cells. This could explain why people with the virus who also smoke appear to be particularly vulnerable to severe illness.

The majority of people who acquire SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, experience mild-to-moderate symptoms and will fully recover without hospital treatment.

However, several studies suggest that people who smoke are significantly more likely than people who do not to develop a severe form of the illness.

For example, according to a recent study of COVID-19 cases in hospitals in mainland China, 11.8% of people who smoked had a nonsevere form of the disease, while 16.9% had severe disease.

To break into cells and start replicating itself, the virus latches onto a protein receptor called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), which is present in the cells’ membranes.

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What Happens to the Body When we Diet?

The body starts to respond to healthy dietary changes as soon as they are made. This can be advantageous, because a diet can then eventually reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, as well as improve a person’s overall sense of well­ being.

Control of blood glucose level

Eating carbohydrates increases the blood sugar level, but the extent of this rise depends on a food’s glycemic index. The glycemic index is a ranking system, based on a score of 1 to 100, that determines the effect of a food on blood sugar levels.

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Older men worry less than others about COVID-19

As an 80-year-old man, I confess that my interest was piqued by this study at Georgia State University emphasizing the greater risk I am under regarding COVID-19.

Older men may be at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 because they worry less about catching or dying from it than women their age or than younger people of both sexes, according to a new study by Sarah Barber, a gerontology and psychology researcher at Georgia State University.

This is a concern because older men are already more at risk of severe or fatal COVID-19 infections. Data from the CDC show the fatality rate of COVID-19 steadily rises with age, and that men are more at risk than women.

To test levels of worry and protective behaviors, Barber teamed with Hyunji Kim, a Georgia State doctoral student in psychology, and administered an online questionnaire assessing COVID-19 perceptions and behavior changes. The results were published by the Journals of Gerontology.

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Smoking Nearly Doubles Rate of COVID-19 Progress

As if smoking per se weren’t bad enough, now, it turns out that smoking significantly worsens COVID-19, according to a new analysis by UC San Francisco of the association between smoking and progression of the infectious disease.

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In a meta-analysis of studies that included 11,590 COVID patients, researchers found that among people with the virus, the risk of disease progression in those who currently smoke or previously smoked was nearly double that of non-smokers. They also found that when the disease worsens, current or former smokers had more acute or critical conditions or death. Overall, smoking was associated with almost a doubling of the risk of disease progressing.

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Can Cherries Cause an Upset Stomach?

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

If you are on the lookout for healthy snacks that you can munch on instead of potato chips, chocolate or other not-so-nutritious foods, check out cherries.

Recently, a guy I know bought cherries to satisfy that need without consuming a lot of empty calories. He ended up demonstrating that even natural healthy snacks have their limits. You need to use your brain when snacking and don’t overdo it, no matter whether it’s Cheetos or cherries.

Twice in recent weeks, this guy ate about a pound of cherries at one sitting. Eating that quantity of food at one sitting is just not smart any way you look at it, even a good healthy natural food like cherries.

Searching online for information about the problems he was having, he learned that everyone should limit their intake of cherries at one sitting to a cup at most.

As I say so often on…

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We’re Less Likely To Spread Alarming Information While Experiencing Physiological Stress

Research Digest

By Emily Reynolds

The spread of bad news — fake or otherwise — is likely to be on everybody’s minds at the moment. Whether it’s legitimate updates on the spread or symptoms of coronavirus, or sensationalism more to do with page clicks than scientific fact, it can be hard to tune out of the news cycle — and to know what information you should be passing on to friends and family.

Past research has found that alarming information is likely to spread further than positive information; we’re also more likely to share news that confirms our own beliefs and biases. But what impact does the experience of stress have on the sharing of negative or alarming news? A new study published in Scientific Reports suggests a complex relationship between the two.

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Antibody designed to recognize pathogens of Alzheimer’s disease

Researchers have found a way to design an antibody that can identify the toxic particles that destroy healthy brain cells – a potential advance in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

Their method is able to recognize these toxic particles, known as amyloid-beta oligomers, which are the hallmark of the disease, leading to hope that new diagnostic methods can be developed for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

The team, from the University of Cambridge, University College London and Lund University, designed an antibody which is highly accurate at detecting toxic oligomers and quantifying their numbers. Their results are reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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Weekend funnies …


Tony

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How music and rhythm shape our social brains

A universal sign of motherhood is the lullaby. The world over, mothers sing to their babies, whether Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, their favorite song from the radio, or even random notes. This universality makes the simple lullaby a great window into the human mind. In a new study, cognitive neuroscientists found that lullabies soothe both moms and babies simultaneously, while playsongs increase babies’ attention and displays of positive emotion toward their mothers.

The behavioral implications of music are vast, says Laura Cirelli of the University of Toronto Mississauga, who is presenting the new work on maternal singing at the 25th meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS) in Boston today. “Infant brains must be able to track auditory events in a predictive manner to make sense of music,” she explains, and many complex things are going on in their brains to make that possible.

From infancy to old age, music demands much from the human brain. Learning more about how we process music is helping scientists better understand perception, multisensory integration, and social coordination across the lifespan. Technological advancements – for example, more portable electroencephalography (EEG) and electrophysiology set-ups and- are allowing cognitive neuroscientists to study music in a variety of situations, from mother-child interactions to live concert halls.

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Mobile Health Tool Measures Hemoglobin Without Drawing Blood

Here is some good news for folks who don’t like needles.

Researchers have developed a way to use smartphone images of a person’s eyelids to assess blood hemoglobin levels. The ability to perform one of the most common clinical lab tests without a blood draw could help reduce the need for in-person clinic visits, make it easier to monitor patients who are in critical condition, and improve care in low- and middle-income countries where access to testing laboratories is limited.

“Our new mobile health approach paves the way for bedside or remote testing of blood hemoglobin levels for detecting anemia, acute kidney injury and hemorrhages, or for assessing blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia.” said research team leader Young Kim from Purdue University. “The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly increased awareness of the need for expanded mobile health and telemedicine srvices.”

Kim and colleagues from the University of Indianapolis, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in the US and Moi University School of Medicine in Kenya report the new approach in Optica, The Optical Society’s journal for high impact research.

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Chemists develop foolproof test to track fats we consume – McMaster U

A team of researchers at McMaster University has developed a reliable and accurate blood test to track individual fat intake, a tool that could guide public health policy on healthy eating.

Establishing reliable guidelines has been a significant challenge for nutritional epidemiologists until now, because they have to rely on study participants faithfully recording their own consumption, creating results that are prone to human error and selective reporting, particularly when in the case of high-fat diets.

For the study, published in the Journal of Lipid Research, chemists developed a test, which detects specific non-esterified fatty acids (NEFAs), a type of circulating free fatty acid that can be measured using a small volume of blood sample.

“Epidemiologists need better ways to reliably assess dietary intake when developing nutritional recommendations,” says Philip Britz-McKibbin, professor in the Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology at McMaster  and lead author of the study

“The food we consume is highly complex and difficult to measure when relying on self-reporting or memory recall, particularly in the case of dietary fats.  There are thousands of chemicals that we are exposed to in foods, both processed and natural,” he says.

The study was a combination of two research projects Britz-McKibbin conducted with Sonia Anand in the Department of Medicine and Stuart Phillips in the Department of Kinesiology.

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Insomnia May Predict Depression in Seniors – Study

Older adults with depression may be at much higher risk of remaining depressed if they are experiencing persistent or worsening sleep problems, according to a study from researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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The researchers, who published their findings online April 30 in the journal Sleep, analyzed data from almost 600 people over 60 years old who visited primary care centers in the Northeast U.S. All patients met clinical criteria for major or minor depression at the outset of the study. Continue reading

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Some tips on produce buying -Tufts

Don’’t let the number of choices make produce purchasing confusing. Follow these tips to up consumption of these health-promoting foods, according to Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.

abundance agriculture bananas batch

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-Eat more fruits and vegetables…of any kind. Local and imported, fresh and frozen, organic and conventional are all good choices.

-Use fresh vegetables soon after purchasing to maximize nutrient content and prevent spoilage. Delicate foods like berries and greens will spoil more quickly. Produce with harder skin, such as carrots, cabbage, and apples, are more durable and last longer at home. Planning can help minimize food waste.

-Chill. Produce ripens more quickly when left at room temperature, but, once ripe, getting most types into a refrigerator (or freezer) can help preserve nutrients. A recent study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology focusing on blueberries found that phytochemical content could be largely preserved by low temperature storage (in a refrigerator or freezer). Some produce, however, such as tomatoes and bananas, are better left at room temperature, according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation.

-Rinse (just about) everything. All produce should be rinsed with clean water before use to reduce risk of foodborne disease and remove pesticide residue. Hard produce can be scrubbed with a brush. Soap and special washes are not recommended. The only exception is pre-washed, bagged, greens, which the CDC recommends not be washed at home.

-Keep a fruit bowl. Having a bowl of fruit visible encourages more fruit intake, but can also lead to waste if the fruit spoils. Try having just a couple pieces of each type of fruit out at any one time (depending on your household size). This can help avoid over-ripening and food waste.

-Don’’t forget frozen. Pre-packaged frozen vegetables and fruits are at least as nutritious as fresh, and often less expensive, and they are available year-round.

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Heart attacks, heart failure, stroke: COVID-19’s dangerous cardiovascular complications

Like the gift that keeps on giving, COVID-19 is the plague that keeps on taking. It turns out that the affliction can cause complications with other medical conditions.

COVID-19 can cause serious cardiovascular complications including heart failure, heart attacks and blood clots that can lead to strokes, emergency medicine doctors report in a new scientific paper. They also caution that COVID-19 treatments can interact with medicines used to manage patients’ existing cardiovascular conditions.

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The new paper from UVA Health’s William Brady, MD, and colleagues aims to serve as a guide for emergency-medicine doctors treating patients who may have or are known to have COVID-19. The authors note that much attention has been paid to the pulmonary (breathing) complications of COVID-19, but less has been said about the cardiovascular complications that can lead to death or lasting impairment. Continue reading

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Weekend funnies …

Another week is passing as we inch closer to ‘normal.’ Hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

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Tony

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