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Common food additive may weaken body’s defense against flu

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A common food additive, found in frozen meat and fried foods, may hinder the immune system’s ability to fight influenza and reduce the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, a study has found. The research may help explain why seasonal influenza continues to pose a major health threat worldwide. An estimated 290,000-650,000 people globally die from flu-related respiratory problems each year.

The research conducted in mice suggests that the food additive tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ) affects the T cells, a vital component of the immune system. The additive tBHQ is used to prevent spoilage, with a maximum allowed concentration of 200 parts per million in food products.

“Our studies showed that mice on a tBHQ diet had a weakened immune response to influenza (flu) infection,” said Robert Freeborn, a PhD candidate at Michigan State University in the US.

 

“In our mouse model, tBHQ suppressed the function of two types of T cells, helper and killer T cells. Ultimately, this led to more severe symptoms during a subsequent influenza infection,” Freeborn said in a statement.

When a person is infected with influenza virus, helper T cells direct other parts of the immune system and help coordinate an appropriate response, while killer T cells hunt down infected cells and clear them from the body. In their experiments, the researchers found mice eating a tBHQ-spiked diet were slower to activate both helper T cells and killer T cells, resulting in slower clearance of the virus.

“Right now, my leading hypothesis is that tBHQ causes these effects by upregulating some proteins which are known to suppress the immune system,” said Freeborn.

“Expression of these proteins, CTLA-4 and IL-10, was upregulated in two different models we use in the lab. However, more work is necessary to determine if upregulation of these suppressive proteins is indeed causative for the effects of tBHQ during influenza infection,” he said.

When the mice were later re-infected with a different but related strain of influenza, those on the tBHQ diet had a longer illness and lost more weight. This suggests that tBHQ impaired the “memory response” that typically primes the immune system to fight a second infection, Freeborn said.

Since the memory response is central to how vaccines work, impairment of this function could potentially reduce the efficacy of the flu vaccine. T cells are involved in the immune response to a variety of diseases, so tBHQ could also play a role in other types of infectious diseases, Freeborn added.

“It can be hard to know if you are consuming tBHQ, as it is not always listed on ingredient labels,” said Freeborn, adding that this is often the case when tBHQ is used in food preparation, such as in the oil used to fry a chip.

“The best way to limit tBHQ exposure is to be cognizant about food choices. Since tBHQ is largely used to stabilize fats, a low-fat diet and cutting down on processed snacks will help reduce tBHQ consumption,” he said.


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Health

Weight Loss Tips Recommended by Personal Trainers

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Weight loss is something that we all struggle with. Sometimes we are successful in reducing our weight but more often than not, the number in the weighing scale slowly creeps back up. Most of us have already tried the latest diet trend in the hopes that it will lead us to a better looking us, but then, life happens and we forget that we are on a diet or that we feel frustrated with the lack of results. Still, we keep on finding ways to get rid of the excess pounds that we are carrying. With that being said, it might be a good idea for us to stop for a while and take stock of what personal trainers have got to say about losing weight. Who knows? We might pick up a thing or two about their weight loss tips that we can apply in our day to day lives. Here are some suggestions that you might want to consider.

Stay away from booze and sugar

If you really want to lose weight then ditch the sugar and booze. These two are known to be calorie-laden which is why they contribute to weight gain. If you can’t stay away from drinking alcoholic beverages, you can limit to a glass for girls and two glasses for men. As for the refined sugars, there are natural sweeteners available such as honey and stevia.

 

Don’t go more than 3 hours without eating

Although the exact science for this is still being studied, it appears that eating snacks in between meals can help keep your blood sugar levels steady. This means that your energy level will remain stable throughout the day and less sugar or carb binges which can cause weight gain on your part.

Mix your exercises up

Another tip that personal trainers have given with regards to losing weight is to mix your fitness routine as much as possible. Sticking to the same program for months will cause you to hit a plateau in your progress which can make you feel frustrated with the lack of improvement. A better option would be to mix your exercises so that your muscles will remain guessing as to which muscle group will be tested. The best part is that you are constantly strengthening and conditioning your muscles for a more even looking physique.

Drink plenty of water

Who would have thought that even the simplest act can do your weight loss goal a whole lot of good? Drinking water constantly can help flush the toxins from your body while ensuring that your skin remains properly hydrated. Water can also help improve digestion so that your body will be able to absorb nutrients from the food that you eat better.

These are just a few tips that you might want to consider the next time you are planning on shedding weight. What’s great about these fitness tips is that they are simple enough to follow but will get you amazing results in no time.

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Health

Study: Dietary supplements won’t help you live longer

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Doctors at Tufts University in Massachusetts, the US, say it’s pretty clear that supplement use has no benefit for the general population and is not a substitute for a healthy balanced diet.

Their research found that vitamins A and K, magnesium, zinc and copper were linked to a lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke — but only when they came from foods, abc7news.com wrote.

Coauthor Fang Fang Zhang, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, said getting nutrients in the right quantities from food was associated with a longer life.

 

In fact, Zhang said some supplements even appear to have health risks. People who took high doses of calcium supplements had a 53 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than people who were not taking supplements,

However, if you have been diagnosed as deficient in a certain nutrient, don’t stop taking it without talking to your doctor first.

The research team used data from 30,000 US adults who participated in a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2010.

The research was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Health

Whitening products may damage teeth:Study

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Teeth whitening products – that promise to make your smile brighter – may also be causing tooth damage, a study has found.

Scientists at Stockton University in the US found that hydrogen peroxide, the active ingredient in over-the-counter whitening strips, can damage the protein-rich dentin tissue found beneath the tooth’s protective enamel.

The tooth is made of three layers: the outer tooth enamel, an underlying dentin layer and connective tissue that binds the roots to the gum.

 

Most studies of whitening strips have focused on tooth enamel, which contains very little protein.

The team focused on dentin, which makes up most of the tooth and has high levels of protein, most of which is collagen.

It is well established that hydrogen peroxide can penetrate the enamel and dentin. Previous work by the researchers showed that collagen in the dentin layer decreased when teeth were treated with whitening strips.

“We sought to further characterise what the hydrogen peroxide was doing to collagen. We used entire teeth for the studies and focused on the impact hydrogen peroxide has on the proteins,” said Kelly Keenan, associate professor at Stockton University.

The researchers demonstrated that the major protein in the dentin is converted to smaller fragments when treated with hydrogen peroxide.

In additional experiments, they treated pure collagen with hydrogen peroxide and then analysed the protein using a gel electrophoresis laboratory technique that allows the protein to be visualised.

“Our results showed that treatment with hydrogen peroxide concentrations similar to those found in whitening strips is enough to make the original collagen protein disappear, which is presumably due to the formation of many smaller fragments,” Keenan said in the statement.

The researchers point out that their experiments did not address whether collagen and other proteins in the teeth can be regenerated, so it is unknown if the tooth damage is permanent.

Next, they plan to further characterise the protein fragments released when collagen is treated with hydrogen peroxide and determine if hydrogen peroxide has the same impact on other proteins in the teeth.

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