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From diabetes to skin care, the many benefits of pine nuts

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The edible seeds of pine trees – pine nuts have immense health benefits. These nuts, mentioned by Greek authors as early as 300 BC have been consumed for a thousand years. Scientifically known as ‘Pinus Gerardiana’, pine trees are native to eastern Afghanistan, China, Korea, Russia and north-west India.

Although there are 20 species of pine seeds, only a few of them are harvested. It takes almost 18 months to three years for pine nuts to mature. Once harvested, they must be shelled and consumed shortly afterwards. Harvested mostly by hands, it requires Mediterranean weather conditions to grow.

Eaten raw or roasted, pine nuts have a sweet crunchy flavour and are a great option for snacks. Not only are they delicious to eat, but are also rich in vitamins and minerals and contains monosaturated fats and antioxidants along with fatty acids that help in losing weight. Apart from reducing the risk of diabetes and heart attacks, it is good for skin and hair.

 

Here are some of the other benefits of pine nuts:

* Containing beta-carotene and antioxidants, it helps in improving vision. The compound lutein present in it prevents our eyesight from getting damaged with age.

* Diabetics must include pine nuts in their everyday diet as it helps in controlling high glucose levels and helps in the reduction of bad cholesterol.

* Containing vitamins E, K and magnesium, pine nuts helps in lowering blood pressure levels and reduces the risk of heart attack.

* The presence of vitamin E and antioxidants help promote skin health. It also helps in moisturising the skin and has anti-ageing properties as well. It also prevents skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

* Pine nuts also help combat hair fall problems. Because of their high protein content, it protects the hair from getting damaged.

* It high nutrient content helps boost your energy and helps prevent fatigue. It improves our body’s oxygen use, thus increasing energy levels.

* During pregnancy, pine nuts are beneficial for the health of the mother and the baby as it contains lots of protein and iron.

* Rich in vitamin K and calcium, this nuts help in building stronger bones.

* Pine nuts are known as ‘pignon’ in French and ‘pinones’ in Spanish.

* It is a dietary staple in some North American tribes.

* Pine nuts are widely used in Middle Eastern cuisine like kibbeh and baklava.

* Earlier, pine nuts were used for curing illness and other medicinal purposes in Egyptian culture.

* The Hebrew prophet Hosea even referred to pine nuts in the Old Testament.

Pine nuts are a little expensive but including a handful of these in your everyday diet will be good for your overall health. Apart from eating them roasted, you can have them as a crunchy addition to your smoothies, salads and other vegetarian dishes.


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Health

‘Inactive’ ingredients in most pills may cause allergic reactions: Study

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A vast majority of the most frequently prescribed medications contain at least one ingredient capable of causing an adverse allergic reaction, a US study has found. Known as inactive ingredients, these components are added to improve the taste, shelf-life, absorption and other characteristics of a pill, but the researchers found that more than 90 per cent of all oral medications tested contained at least one ingredient that can cause allergic or gastrointestinal symptoms in sensitive individuals.
Such ingredients include lactose, peanut oil, gluten and chemical dyes, scientists said. “When you’re a clinician, the last thing you want to do is prescribe a medication that could cause an adverse reaction or allergic reaction in a patient,” said C Giovanni Traverso, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
“This project was inspired by a real-life incident where a patient with Celiac disease was prescribed a medication and the formulation of the pill they picked up from the pharmacy had gluten in it,” Traverso said. “We wanted to understand the problem and drill down to characterise the entire universe of inactive ingredients across thousands of drugs,” he said.
Researchers analysed data on the inactive ingredients found in 42,052 oral medications that contained more than 354,597 inactive ingredients. Inactive ingredients are defined as substances that are added to a pill’s formulation but are not intended or expected to have a direct biological or therapeutic effect. Although such ingredients have been tested for safety at the population level, scattered case reports have suggested that inactive ingredients may cause adverse reactions in individuals who have allergies or intolerances.
“There are hundreds of different versions of pills or capsules that deliver the same medication using a different combination of inactive ingredients,” said Daniel Reker, a postdoctoral fellow at MIT. “This highlights how convoluted the possible choices of inactive ingredients are, but also suggests that there is a largely untapped opportunity today to specifically select the most appropriate version of a medication for a patient with unusual sensitivities,” Reker said.
The team found a total of 38 inactive ingredients that have been described in the literature to cause allergic symptoms after oral exposure. Researchers reported that 92.8 per cent of the medications they analysed contained at least one of these inactive ingredients. The team found that inactive ingredients can cause an adverse reaction through an allergy or an intolerance. It is unclear what amount of an ingredient is necessary to trigger a reaction in sensitive individuals — the content of lactose in a medication, for instance, may be too low to cause a reaction in many patients, except for those with severe lactose intolerance or those taking many medications containing lactose.
“While we call these ingredients ‘inactive,’ in many cases, they are not. While the doses may be low, we don’t know what the threshold is for individuals to react in the majority of instances,” said Traverso. “This pushes us to think about precision care and about the role for regulation and legislation when it comes to labelling medications that contain an ingredient that may cause an adverse reaction,” he said.

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Depression in 20s linked to memory loss in 50s: Study

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As part of a recent study, a team of psychologists has found that depression in the 20s can be linked to memory loss in 50s. The psychologists analyzed data from the National Child Development Study, which was established in 1958 with a cohort of over 18,000 babies and followed participants from birth into childhood and through to adulthood.
The psychologists found that an accumulation of symptoms experienced by participants over the three decades provided a strong indicator of a linear decrease in memory function by the time the adults were fifty.
They found that one episode of depression or anxiety had little effect on the memory function of adults in midlife, regardless of which decade it was experienced, but that once the episodes increased to two or three over the course of the three decades, that this predicted a steady decrease in the participant’s memory function by the time they reached fifty.
“We found that the more episodes of depression people experience in their adulthood, the higher risk of cognitive impairment they have later in life.This finding highlights the importance of effective management of depression to prevent the development of recurrent mental health problems with long-term negative outcomes,” said Darya Gaysina, senior author of the study.
“We’d, therefore, like to see the government investing more in the mental health provision for young adults, not only for the immediate benefit of the patients but also to help protect their future brain health,” Gaysina explained. As well as memory, the psychologists also assessed verbal fluency, information processing speed and accuracy scores of the participants once they turned fifty.
Encouragingly, episodes of depression and anxiety had little impact on the latter four areas of cognitive function but the associated loss of memory suggests that depressive symptoms experienced in early adulthood could predict dementia in older adulthood.
Previous research had found a relationship between depressive symptoms experienced in older adulthood and a faster rate of cognitive decline, but this is the first time that such a large and UK nationally representative sample has been able to make this link in the first three decades of adulthood.
“We knew from previous research that depressive symptoms experienced in mid-adulthood to late adulthood can predict a decline in brain function in later life but we were surprised to see just how clearly persistent depressive symptoms across three decades of adulthood are an important predictor of poorer memory function in mid-life,” said Amber John, one of the lead researchers.

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Brain function gets better while inhaling

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Israeli research has found that inhalation improves brain performance, the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) in Israel reported.
The research, published in the journal Nature Human Behavior, found that the success rate of subjects who solved questions during inhalation was higher than their success during exhalation, Xinhua news agency reported.
The research results may lead to better learning methods and even help people who suffer from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) by influencing the nature and pace of their breathing.
The sense of smell is the earliest sense of mammals and is therefore believed to be an initial pattern for all brain development.
The WIS researchers hypothesized that the whole brain is coming to attention of processing information while inhaling, even when it comes to functions that have nothing to do with smell (“sniffing brain”).
First, the researchers measured the flow of air in the noses of subjects while solving math exercises, performing visual-spatial tasks and dealing with language tasks.
The subjects were asked to press a button as soon as they were ready for the next exercise. It turned out that they tended to put air into their bodies in time for their readiness to deal with the next task.
Then, in a visual-spatial task, half of the questions appeared during the subjects’ inhalation and the other half with exhalation. It was found that the success rates were significantly improved when solving questions while inhaling.
The researchers also measured the electrical activity in the subjects’ brains at rest and during taking tasks, and found in both cases that the connectivity between the brain areas was significantly different between inhalation and exhalation. The researchers noted that the results have nothing to do with oxygen entering the body, as the effect on the brain in the experiments was immediate (about 0.2 seconds).

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