Who doesn’t love cherries? Known as a superfood, cherries are a small, round and red-coloured fruit. They are eaten all around the world and referred to as one of the most romantic fruits. Not just raw, but cherries can be consumed in many other ways like smoothies, tarts and pies. Along with being tasty and juicy, cherries are one of the healthiest fruits. They are the powerhouse of antioxidants. They are a good source of fibres, nutrients and vitamins. Cherries can also help with sleeplessness, nerve disorders and many other mental health problems. The main two forms of cherries are the sweet and sour cherries. Dark-coloured cherries are apparently more beneficial for health. The dark colour is provided by an antioxidant. The fructose in cherries can provide energy without harming diabetics. Along with that, these little fruits help keep bad breath at bay and help with other oral health problems. From maintaining the heart health to preventing seasonal infections like cough and cold, this summer fruit can prove beneficial in many ways.
Here are some health benefits of eating cherries:
1. Boosts immunity
Cherries can help in boosting immunity. Cherries which are sweet in taste, the ones used in pies and smoothies, can decrease the immune strength of the body. The sour variants of cherries, however, contain much less amount of sugar. Melatonin hormone is naturally occurring in the body. This melatonin is also present in the cherries. It helps in reducing inflammation in body. Inflammation is helpful in maintaining various bodily functions. But sometimes when inflammation increases, body is at a risk of diseases like arthritis. Thus, cherries act as an anti-inflammatory agent. Cherries also contain Vitamin C that can help maintain the immune system. Proanthocyanidin is a colour pigment present in the cherries. This pigment can regulate sensors in the gut.
2. Helps Arthritis
Studies have shown that antioxidants in cherries have helped patients with arthritis. Anthocyanin content is highest in cherries, as compared to all other fruits in the berry family. This Anthocyanin is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Including cherries in your diet can help in reducing the joint pains. Consumption of cherries can also lower the risk of osteoarthritis and gout attacks.
3. Lowers Cholesterol levels and improves heart health
Cherries contain phytosterols. This compound helps in maintaining immunity and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Sour cherries provide similar cardiovascular health benefits like the prescribed drugs. This can help to regulate the fat and glucose levels in the body. Vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals like phosphorus can protect heart against oxidative damage. Cherries can help in reducing the risk of heart attack as it helps in reducing bad cholesterol, regulates the heart rate and prevents the hardening of the walls of arteries.
4. Improves sleep quality
Melatonin in the body also helps in maintaining the sleep cycles of the body. Sour cherries contain high levels of melatonin. Regular consumption of cherries can help boost the amount of the melatonin hormone in the body. This can help you achieve a sound sleep and prevent cases of insomnia. This hormone is most effective when cherries are consumed in the form of juice. A glass of cherry juice a day can help you get an accurate amount of sleep required by the body.
5. Improves brain function
Flavonoids and carotenoids present in cherries are said to improve the brain function. Anthocyanin in cherries acts as an anti-inflammation agent in the brain. Antioxidants in cherries prevent the nervous system from the age-related disorders. Thus, cherries can be helpful with nerve disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, anxiety etc. It also helps in the improvement of memory.
6. Contains anti-aging properties
Cherries are the storehouse for antioxidants like flavonoids and carotenoids. They are also rich in Vitamin C. These can help in maintaining aging disorders like hair loss, wrinkles, weakening of heart, loss of vision, muscular degeneration and hair loss. Cherries reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and prostate cancer.
7. Helps with Digestion
Cherries are known to be rich in fibre content. The fibres in cherries can help relieve a person against constipation. The acid present in the cherries helps in the treatment of digestive issues. The antioxidants in cherries can help in managing digestive system and also stimulates secretion of bile juices.
8. Helpful with diabetes
The sweet and sour versions cherries contain chemicals like anthocyanins that can help boost the insulin content. This can help in maintaining the blood sugar levels in the body. However, more research is required to see if cherries are helpful for people with diabetes.
Beware of the silent killer
By Dr Sudhir Koganti
One may wonder what all this fuss about high blood pressure is. Hypertension causes many cardiovascular diseases that include stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and dementia, thus putting a huge burden on healthcare globally due to morbidity, mortality and associated costs. Last but not least, the public need to be aware of the correct treatment for high blood pressure.
Every year, the World Hypertension Day is celebrated on the 17th of May to increase awareness about this silent killer among general public. International Society of Hypertension along with World Hypertension League has designated the month of May as “May Measurement Month.”
The aim of this initiative is to screen as many people as possible that are over the age of 18 years for suspected hypertension. This strategy would greatly enhance in identifying silent or undiagnosed hypertensives so that they can be targeted with guideline directed lifestyle, dietary advice and treatment.
Awareness on the lower threshold of blood pressure reading required to label an individual as hypertensive is also required. American Heart Association guidelines released in 2017 clearly stipulate that a blood pressure reading of over 130/80 is now considered as stage 1 hypertension. However, the job of a cardiologist doesn’t stop with diagnosis but actually starts there. Once someone is labelled as hypertensive, it needs to be established if it is true or an entity called white coat hypertension.
Furthermore, investigations may have to be carried out to see if hypertension is secondary to a cause. Once diagnosed, a decision needs to be taken if lifestyle modification can be adopted or treatment needs to be initiated early.
Lifestyle modifications include six key steps and they are:
• Get expert advice from your doctor to help you understand your results;
• Lower salt/sodium to prevent excess fluid in the blood, which strains blood vessels;
• Eat more fruits and veggies – particularly potassium-rich ones – to balance out sodium in the blood;
• Exercise – it makes the heart stronger, putting less strain on blood vessels;
• Quit smoking – constituents of tobacco smoke damages blood vessel linings; and
• Monitor your blood pressure at home
As per studies and data, thousands of people are on wrong treatment for hypertension with a class of drugs called Betablockers (Atenolol, Metoprolol etc) being prescribed as first line or second line agent.
Betablockers have been phased out as first line or second line drugs to treat hypertension a while ago, unless there is concomitant coronary artery disease or heart failure. In fact, the same holds for other concomitant conditions too such as kidney disease, stroke etc.
Essentially, the key message is one prescription does not fit all and it need to be tailored to the individual in a dedicated specialist clinic. People need to actively undergo blood pressure screening of themselves.
They need to nudge their relatives and friends in the month of May and seek expert advice on how to manage and monitor this silent killer over the long run to lead an active and healthy life. (Writer is Consultant Cardiologist, Citizens Hospitals, Nallagandla, Serilingampally)
Dr Sudhir Koganti
Jawless fish may hold key to effective brain cancer treatment
A chemical found in jawless parasitic fish can be used to deliver anti-cancer drugs directly to brain tumours, as well as lead to more effective treatments for trauma and stroke, a study has found.
The research, published in the journal Science Advances, found that molecules from the immune system of the parasitic sea lamprey may also be combined with a wide array of other therapies, offering hope to treat disorders like multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease or even traumatic injuries.
“We believe it could be applied as a platform technology across multiple conditions,” said Eric Shusta, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US.
When injected into the bloodstream, many drugs cannot reach targets in the brain as the blood-brain barrier prevents large molecules from leaving the blood vessels in the brain, researchers said.
In conditions such as brain cancer, stroke, trauma and multiple sclerosis, however, the barrier becomes leaky in and around the disease locations, researchers said.
The study found that leaky barrier offers a unique point of entry, allowing molecules to access the brain and deliver drugs precisely on target.
“Molecules like this normally couldn’t ferry cargo into the brain, but anywhere there’s a blood-brain barrier disruption, they can deliver drugs right to the site of pathology,” Shusta said in a statement.
Researchers said that the technology takes advantage of the fact that many diseases disrupt body’s natural defense mechanism – the blood-brain barrier, which lines the blood vessels of the central nervous system, protecting the brain from circulating toxins or pathogens.
They also linked the molecules to a chemotherapy called doxorubicin. The treatment prolonged survival in mouse models of glioblastoma, an incurable cancer.
“This could be a way to hold therapies in place that don’t otherwise accumulate well in the brain so they can be more effective,” said Ben Umlauf from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“There are several disease processes that disrupt the blood-brain barrier and we could conceive of delivering a variety of different therapies with these molecules,” said John Kuo from the University of Texas in the US.
Life expectancy linked to a person’s walking speed
People who walk slowly have a lower life expectancy than those who walk fast, a recent study has claimed. According to the study published in the Journal of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, those with a habitually fast walking pace have a long life expectancy across all levels of weight status – from underweight to morbidly obese.
Underweight individuals with a slow walking pace had the lowest life expectancy (an average of 64.8 years for men, 72.4 years for women). The same pattern of results was found for waist circumference measurements.
Professor Tom Yates, the lead author of the study, said, “Our findings could help clarify the relative importance of physical fitness compared to body weight on the life expectancy of individuals. In other words, the findings suggest that perhaps physical fitness is a better indicator of life expectancy than body mass index (BMI) and that encouraging the population to engage in brisk walking may add years to their lives.”
Dr Francesco Zaccardi, co-author of the study, said, “Studies published so far have mainly shown the impact of body weight and physical fitness on mortality in terms of relative risk, for example, a 20 per cent relative increase of risk of death for every 5 kilograms per metres squared increase, compared to a reference value of a BMI of 25 kilograms per metres squared (the threshold BMI between normal weight and overweight).”
Last year, Professor Yates and his team showed that middle-aged people who reported that they are slow walkers were at higher risk of heart-related disease compared to the general population.
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