The term ‘virus’ has become more synonymous with computers, hacking and technology beyond its archaic role as an infectious agent. Viruses are submicroscopic parasites that do not have the ability to replicate on their own. Once they infect a cell, they replicate inside. Most viruses either have a DNA or RNA and the virion (infectious particle) contains the nucleic acid (this might be single- or double-stranded) and an outer shell of protein. Virus cause illnesses and infections that are controlled or suppressed by our body’s immune system with the help of our white blood cells called lymphocytes. These WBCs can identify quite a number of viral proteins that provide antigens and which cause an anti-inflammatory response. But sadly, not all proteins are able to play the role of antigens for anti-viral immunity. There might be a number of viruses but there exists only a certain number of proteins involved in lymphocyte verification of virally infected cells. Such reduced number of proteins lead you to trouble wherein the virus might go unnoticed by the immune system. These are the ones that can damage cells, cause strong infections and lead to a prolonged period of illness. We also term them as ‘stealth’ viruses as they have the strong potential to evade effective immune recognition and most primarily because they have been deceiving the medical community until now making themselves inconspicuous.
What makes viruses special is that they have their own genetic material and reproduce only according to their gene instructions but by using the host cell for resources. This typically shows the strong nature of virus to fight against hereditary diseases or cancer. Everything lies in the gene of the virus. You remove its gene and the virus becomes a dummy in the literal sense unable to replicate or trigger diseases.
Not Alone All Along!
Scientists and researchers had assumed viruses to target humans and infect them individually as lone warriors. What we have been missing until now (and this ignorance has cost us tremendously) is that they can form packs of up to 40 viruses and envelop themselves with a fatty sphere that makes them completely invisible to our immune system. But how did something that had been blinded from our perception for centuries together suddenly show up?
When researchers at the US National Institutes of Health analyzed stool samples of patients infected by rotavirus or norovirus they were shocked beyond words when they came across this ‘groupism’ concept. Until now, viruses were believed to infect a cell, use this cell for replication and then burst out as individual viruses into the body. But, what took these researchers by storm is the fact that some of them were released as groups in spheres known as vesicles. These spheres act as armors to viruses and give them supreme power to attack humans. Firstly, these spheres prohibit/restrict the immune system from figuring out their presence acting as an invisible mask. Secondly, the spheres protect the viruses from destruction even from the most fluctuating/harsh environmental conditions such as stomach acid. Lastly, they enable enormous groups of these viruses to enter the target organs and create a dreaded scenario.
When the researchers infected animals with a set of viruses that either existed individually or grouped as stealth spheres, they found that those creatures that were infected with vesicles were infected faster and experienced prolific symptoms compared to the rest of the population. Rotavirus remains the main culprit for diarrhea in children in the world and norovirus is extremely infectious and spreads instantly through schools, public homes and even through cruise ships. The researchers feel that targeting these vesicles and preventing them from forming in the first place could get us a solution for treating norovirus or rotavirus.
Viruses causing common cold such as the poliovirus and rhinovirus can also cause stealth spheres. Stealth viruses have been found from the blood, cerebrospinal fluid, urine, throat swabs, breast milk, brain biopsies and tumor samples of patients suffering from allergic, neurological, psychiatric, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases. Every type of disease has a sub-list of commonly known infections and disorders attached to it and those details are available at www.firsteatright.com.
Switching Gears: Disadvantage to an Advantage
How about using these stealthy stealth viruses to treat cancer? That’s what scientists have been up to-redesigning adenovirus and using it for cancer therapy. In general, the adenovirus can easily be neutralized of its power by the immune system and eliminated by the liver. The researchers involved in the study rebuilt viruses to infect tumor cells using molecules that act as the bonding agent between the tumor cells and the virus. Next, the virus was blinded off the immune system using a protein coat. This required some smart action as the virus should not only be off-limits to the immune system but it also shouldn’t be flushed out of the liver as the liver normally removed unmodified adenovirus from the bloodstream. The viral gene redesigned using protein engineering techniques efficiently shuttles infected tumor cells in lab-tested animals.
Parents struggle to give their children the best things in life, starting from an infant’s toys and games ranges. What started during olden days as a means of pastime and a chance for a beautiful friendship to blossom between strangers has now ended up as a motivational factor for finetuning children minds, gearing them up in this competitive world to outperform other kids and as a means of enriching a small one’s mind to think big. Our minds are constantly boggled with ads for toys that will make our kids happier, smarter and successful. Such toys include sophisticated technology use, reach numerous people with its advertising gimmicks and are often expensive. Above all, the idea might be a copy of the latest edition of a popular video game or a movie.
These kinds of toys rarely meet their purpose of making kids happier, smarter and successful. The idea still remains simple from the child’s perspective-give any new toy to a kid and you have got a happy kid as children aren’t usually choosy about toys. But, parents must be choosy as toys are something more than a mere plaything. Toys are for fun, but they must also be safe, age-appropriate and stimulating. Parents must regard toys as a learning tool for development and improvement. Apt to the proverb, ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’, play is integral for the social, mental, physical and emotional development of children. If you are unsure about the benefits of outdoor play or ignore sending your kids out to play in the breezy weather, visit the website www.firsteatright.com for complete information. Toys can mainly be categorized into three types for nurturing a child’s brain:
Toys that invoke a child’s imagination and make him/her use the toy in ample different ways of play: The toy helps to get things started and from thereon, it depends on the child to use the toy in different ways. The child needs to set his/her minds thinking and come up with creative ideas to put the toy to best use. Lego and video games are overpowering such imagination-tickling toys and this can affect the way in which a child learns and thinks. Few toys that are bound to spur up your child’s imagination skills include:
Toys that serve as a foundation for interaction, especially with parents and caretakers: A strong parent-child relationship can greatly impact the emotional health of children and lay the foundation for more crucial things in life. A free-flowing interaction between children and adults are responsible for building connections in the brain and when a solid emotional health of the child is well-established, it pays off in the long run as such children are less likely to have sex early or get into trouble. This makes it essential that you buy toys that you can share and play with your child. Some of the above ones such as wooden blocks, pretend-play toys and other stuff offers you with ample opportunity to bond with your kid while playing. Some more solid ideas include:
It is always better to have a competitive edge over any business and toy business is no exclusion. Educational toys and CD’s business are booming as they use the parent’s fear and anxiety to mint money.
Also, parents make a great mistake of keeping all sorts of toys in front of their children’s eye. Exhibiting too many toys at a given time can confuse the child. It is necessary that parents keep only a selected few out at one point of time and keep rotating toys to reintroduce a toy every few weeks so that it feels new and fresh in the child’s mind. Some toys such as wooden blocks have the power to carry a child through different developmental stages and one should never rush to replace such wonderful stuff with something newer. An infant initially learns to grip and hold a block which promotes muscle development and coordination, as a child grows the blocks kindle a child’s imagination, creativity and building principles and finally, sharing these blocks with others teaches the concepts of tolerance and cooperation.
Kids love toys that suit their age. Given here are a list of toys that suit kids as they go through different stages of development:
0-6 months: Visuals, colors and movements attract infants at this age when they are busy discovering themselves, working on eye-hand coordination, reaching and grasping. Rattles and any toy that can help the infant grasp, swipe, kick, pull or shake can serve this purpose.
6-8 months: Older babies can hold small toys. At this stage, babies try repeating activities and actions in order to master them and love to transfer toys from hand to hand and into and out of containers. Infant toys will be used in a different way by older babies.
8-18 months: This is the time during which toddlers start enjoying pretend-play toys. It is the ideal time to introduce doctor sets, kitchen stuffs, toy cars, trucks and school buses.
2-4 years: Preschool years teach valuable socializing lessons to children and these kids continue to do more and more of pretend play. Miniature farm sets, Play-Doh, large crayons and finger paints stir a child’s creativity, Lego toys, blocks and puzzles develop fine and gross motor skills and also construction toys and ones that make noises such as drums fascinate children and prove to be the perfect choices for kids in this age group.
Many of us workout and stay active between hectic work schedules. Aren’t we entitled to benefit maximum from the fitness classes with the minimum time we invest? For every individual who desires to maximize fat loss, weight loss, strength and overall performance, swapping out a few exercises and bringing in few other exercises helps maximize output.
Swap Out Crunching Exercises
Although every fitness-minded person advises doing abdominal crunches for belly fat reduction, these crunches do very little in terms of burning calories and fat. These exercises help improve strength and muscle tone of rectus abdominis but do very little to reduce fat. For fat reduction, one needs to perform few other cardiovascular exercises and follow a specific diet. Also, as the crunching position almost replicates the ‘hunched’ sitting position that is the root cause for lower back pain problems in many people, it is better to avoid it.
Bring in Planks & A Wholesome Diet
Before entering the gym, enter your kitchen to modify and correct your diet plan. Eat light, eat often, limit sugar and processed foods, eat more greens and lean protein and drink water. Such lifestyle changes store minimal fats and maximal abs.
Plank is a good way to strengthen abs and integrate core muscles. You can also rely on exercises such as chops and carries to strengthen the trunk muscles without causing harm to the lower back.
Swap Out Single-joint Exercises
Single-joint exercises apply pressure on a single joint and muscle through their postures and devices. Bicep curls, triceps extensions, crunches, shoulder raise and leg extensions are examples of this. It does not mean that you need to stop performing these exercises. It only means that performing such exercises is not full-fledged time utilization as only a small portion of the muscle is targeted while performing these exercises and fat loss is impossible in such cases.
Bring in Multiple-joint Compound Exercises
Exercises such as squats, push-ups, lunges, deadlifts and pull-ups integrate multiple muscle groups and joints that pave way for increased muscle growth and fat loss.
Cut Down Increased Resting Time Between Sets
For some programs, excessive rest between sets is mandatory while for some other programs where time is restricted, resting for more than 60 seconds between sets is not needed. If you feel that you are able to perform an exercise with less than 30 seconds of resting periods, increase the difficulty level of the exercise. Minimize time spent fidgeting with your phone, looking at yourself in the mirror or chatting with your workout groupies between exercise sets as these prevent you from reaping maximum advantage from your physical activity performance.
Bring in Supersets
Supersets are exercise sets that focus on opposite muscle groups performed successively with little-to-no rest in between. A set of 10 push-ups and 10 pull-ups are called supersets. Such exercises help utilize your time to the maximum extent possible and bring about maximum fat burning and muscle building within the given time.
Swap Out Low-intensity Cardiovascular Exercises
Walking slowly on a treadmill for an hour at a low heart rate is not going to benefit you in any way. We exercise at 50-70% of our heart rate max when we perform low-to-medium intensity cardiovascular exercises which is good for amateur exercisers, endurance athletes and those with certain physiological conditions. It takes more than 30-60 minutes of training each day to see results in such exercise forms.
Bring in High-intensity Cardiovascular Exercises
Try running as fast as you can for 1 minute followed by walking for 1 minute repeating this cycle for the maximum time your body permits you to do it. High-intensity cardiovascular training follows this policy of exercising rapidly followed by mild exercise. These result in 80% and above heart rates and help to burn more fat in less time. High-intensity exercises change the cells, muscle and metabolism in limited time compared to low-intensity or moderate-intensity exercises.
Utilize your precious time involving yourself in exercises that give your rapid, safe and maximized results. Practice these exercise swaps to optimize your workout time benefits to the maximum extent possible. Along with your workout, it is essential to maintain a healthy well-balanced diet for ultimate fitness. Get in touch with acclaimed nutritionists and dietitians at www.firsteatright.com to get in shape and stay fit.
A foodborne disease, listeriosis is caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes and rarely by bacterium Listeria ivanovii which is different from other germs because it can grow even in cold temperature, including the refrigerator. This bacterium was recognized as a major foodborne pathogen in the latter part of the 20th century.
Foodborne listeriosis is one of the most serious and severe foodborne diseases but a rare occurrence. It affects only 0.1 to 10 cases per 1 million people every year region-wise. When the occurrence is so rare, what makes it so dreadful is the high death rates due to the infection which makes it an important public health concern.
Foods that cause listeriosis mainly fall under two categories:
Though not age-specific, this disease primarily affects newborns, pregnant women, elderly people and adults with weakened immune systems. Healthy people are the rarest of the rare to be affected by listeriosis.
It is possible to minimize your risk of food poisoning by ensuring certain things.
When diagnosed at an initial stage, listeriosis is easy to treat. Antibiotics are generally used to treat this illness and infections during pregnancy should immediately be dealt using antibiotics to prevent infections of the fetus or newborn.
A Major Foodborne Illness in our Country
Listeria monocytogenes are the second deadliest foodborne microbes after Salmonella. Developed and under-developed countries have decreased awareness of the disease. Ready-to-eat foods have become an indispensable part of our lives and hence, acquiring the bacteria Listeria is inevitable. Power cuts are also regularly seen across the entire nation and refrigerating foods at a particular temperature continuously in these conditions is impossible. Produce such as cabbages, coriander, broccoli, cantaloupe, watermelon and apple are said to contain maximum pathogens. In such conditions, we must take extra care to follow the suggestions mentions above to minimize risk.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.