There is more to human body than cells. We all walk around with trillions of microorganisms (labeled as microbes or microbiota) that include not only bacteria but also fungi, viruses and parasites residing all over our body. These organisms are happy with their residence and a whole bunch of them exist in our large and small intestine. The microbiota inside each person is uniquely determined by one’s DNA. Each of us attract different microbes during delivery (in the birth canal) and also through our breastfeeding. Our mums play an integral role in primarily deciding the type of microbes we get exposed to after birth. But as we grow, environmental factors and diet strongly impact the type of microbes in our body thereby increasing our risk for diseases or protecting us against the same ones trying to keep us healthy. There are even articles in reputed newspapers such as the ‘Time’ (https://time.com/5597688/microbiome-diabetes-premature-birth-prediction/) that support the effect of these factors on our microbiome composition.
Microorganisms are Indispensable for a Healthy Life
We take utmost precaution while using a lavatory or clean our hands thoroughly to get rid of the microbes that exist in the air but its time to understand that a germ-free life is not what we desire. We have increased our risk of autoimmune diseases by minimizing our exposure to gut bacteria right from childbirth. That’s probably due to the increase in the number of C-sections. A child is first exposed to these microbes through the birth canal but in the case of a C-section its only the hospital environment and the microorganisms dancing around. Breastfeeding also doesn’t see the daylight many times and maybe we are setting an environment that’s favorable to diseases such as asthma and type 1 diabetes.
With great knowledge comes great enlightenment. Bombarded by the advantages of the gut microbiota individuals who hated these bacteria, fungi and virus have started loving the same ones for their positive effect on our body. We have reached a stage where even waste is not a waste anymore-microbe strains in fecal matter excreted by a human being with a healthy gut is transplanted into that of an individual with colitis. We do have articles and news about effective weight loss changes linked with altered gut microbiome. Each of our body works differently and each of us lose/gain weight in a different manner mostly dependent on our metabolic rates. Some of us have low metabolic rates which makes weight loss process extremely slow whereas, some others have a high metabolic rate which saves them from weight gain despite their frequent indulgence in ice creams and sweet treats. We have got ample theories that altering the person’s metabolic rate by altering the gut microbiota is an effective strategy for weight management. Various researches have shown an indispensable link between microbes and their effect on obesity and diabetes.
Testing Diabetes & Obesity
A research team followed a group of more than 100 volunteers for 4 years and noted the effects of environmental exposure on their immune system and gut microbe composition. The microbiome can help in detecting insulin resistance and this study showed that people with this condition had a different microbiome composition. Insulin resistance can pave way for prediabetes which in turn can cause diabetes. Hence, the microbiome in the gut surely can help in detecting our risk of diabetes. Similarly, different trials have showed positive links between microbiome composition and risk of premature delivery as well as inflammatory bowel disease.
Genetically humans are almost similar but their microbiome composition varies vastly as it is greatly influenced by the individual’s sleep, environment and exercise routines. We do insist upon these for a healthier upbringing but the chicken and egg story does exist here too. Many times, we are perplexed whether sleep routines affect our microbiome or whether the microbiome in our gut determines our quality of sleep.
Antibiotics seem to define our quality of life to a great extent. The persistent and overuse of antibiotics has led to antibiotic resistance where the viruses and bacteria are becoming stronger against the medications making us vulnerable to different diseases. Containing diseases and ailments by dispensing antibiotics right from younger years prevents our body from working strongly against these diseases naturally and the immune system is disturbed greatly. Such lack of exposure to germs thereby puts the individual at a lifelong risk of allergies and autoimmune diseases.
We do have hints that microbiomes could dictate our future as microbiome-derived meds could be the go-to meds for individuals. These in fact communicate with our brains and bring about mood changes too. This doesn’t come as a surprise as the microbiome does cause intestinal disorders which are related to anxiety and depression levels. Psychobiotics is the new term for describing the impact of gut microbiome on brain health. Any changes in the microbiome that sets it off balance can affect your mood, bring in anxiety and cause stress. The plethora of research focusing on gut-brain connection shows a strong link between these body parts. Basically, psychobiotics are mind-altering probiotics that help in enhancing gut-brain connection and keeping our mood in place. So, what you eat and how you live does have an impact on how you behave and what you think too.
From ancient civilization to modern tribes, what do our microbiomes say about us? https://edition.cnn.com/2017/08/02/health/global-microbiome-project-yanomami-tribe-vital-signs/index.html
Role of gut bacteria in averting Type 1 diabetes: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/08/specific-gene-and-intestinal-bacteria-work-together-to-ward-off-diabetes/
Can the Bacteria in your Gut Explain your Mood? https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/magazine/can-the-bacteria-in-your-gut-explain-your-mood.html
The Human Microbiome: Why our Microbes Could be Key to Our Health? https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/26/the-human-microbiome-why-our-microbes-could-be-key-to-our-health
According to the World Health Organization, health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Wellness goes beyond health and takes into account different details of the person such as the manner in which they live and how lifestyle impacts their well-being. Wellness is an umbrella term for social, emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual and occupational well-being. Being free of diseases or being in a happy state of mind doesn’t take off the burden of wellness forever as this is a dynamic process that keeps changing depending on the way we live, what we eat, how much we exercise, duration of our sleep and more. Our present lifestyle gives little space for wellness in our life and there are many of us who don’t realize where we measure up in a scale of 1 to 10 when it comes to wellness. Luckily, we have technology backing us in this aspect of life where a small device helps in tracking our sleep quality, calorie intake, physical activity measures and much more.
Using electronic devices to monitor our nutrition, health, wellness and fitness levels is becoming common but we cannot comment on their quality or precision as most of them are still in their initial stages. These devices do count the number of stairs climbed, steps taken, heart rate, oxygen levels in the blood, respiration levels, body temperature, calories burned and so on but we are not in a stage where all the information acquired are complete, correct and exact. The patent here is extremely useful for day-to-day life wherein we are provided with a fitness, health, wellness and nutrition monitor that captures, monitors and tracks numerous wellness and health factors that include food intake, vitamin and mineral content, composition of consumable products, physical activity, heart rate, blood pressure, electrocardiogram (EKG), body fluids acidity, glucose levels and stress. The monitor designed helps in tracking the nutritional content in every meal or snack consumed daily, energy consumed and energy dissipated and total energy count thereby suggesting any changes to the nutrition, exercise or lifestyle routines that can improve fitness, wellness, health and nutrition levels.
The foods consumed are put through image analysis and quantitative volume determination, two of the three techniques (molecular optical fingerprinting is the other one) that help in monitoring nutrition, fitness, wellness and health levels. Apart from total calorie value of the food, information regarding complete nutritional content, vitamin and mineral content and total energy may be derived with image-based analysis or molecular optical fingerprinting. The images captured may be 2D or 3D and they are matched to reference images in a database in terms of shape, color, size and texture. The monitoring device comes up with practical suggestions to balance calories, fulfill nutritional requirements and surpass activity recommendations. The monitoring device tracks the food, liquid and supplements intake noting calorie content and matches it with the required number of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients required for healthy body functioning finally coming up with helpful tips and tricks to achieve optimal wellness.
Energy spent is the sum total of the calories burnt on performing various activities such as walking, running, exercise and also includes that of sleeping, sitting and talking. Energy spent is accurately measured using an accelerator, gyroscope, pressure sensors detecting elevation differences, GPS, etc. Other important factors such as age, height, weight and sex may be included as part of the health and wellness assessment index calculation. The device provides data, feedbacks and recommendations to the user which would enable the user to understand positive or negative deviations from projected values and help him/her adjust these accordingly. This invention comes at a stage where our lifestyle practices are far away from that recommended and health status is highly discouraging. Obesity and diabetes are growing on to be global epidemics, heart attacks are affecting adolescent and younger adults and depression is taking a toll on our younger generation. Wellness is lost amidst this chaos and we stand stranded. Maybe, a device such as the one designed here is the go-to one for all of us to bring back the sunshine in our lives. The patent was published on April 2, 2019 and for those of you interested in knowing the intricate details of the device discussed here, you can read about it from any of the links given below, all of which are authentic patent sites:
United States Patent & Trademark Office: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=3&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=102&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=%22human+body%22&s2=fitness&OS=%22human+body%22+AND+fitness&RS=%22human+body%22+AND+fitness
World Intellectual Property Organization: https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=US239904133&tab=NATIONALBIBLIO&office=&prevFilter=&sortOption=Pub+Date+Desc&queryString=FP%3A%28personal+wellness+monitoring+system%29&recNum=1&maxRec=16
European Patent Office: https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?II=0&ND=3&adjacent=true&locale=en_EP&FT=D&date=20190402&CC=US&NR=10249214B1&KC=B1
Life is a balancing act that takes us through difficulties, solves problems and keeps us afloat. Failing to manage these balancing acts can jeopardize our lives and put us in a turmoil. Likewise, a healthy body weight is also a balance between calories consumed and calories expelled. But to lose weight we need to create calorie deficits-burn more calories than we consume. This is vastly achieved through regular physical activity and diet interventions.
Enhancing satiety and preventing absorption are two major ways to block intake of excess foods and control appetite. The physical, chemical and sensory characteristics of the food that we eat determine our satiety state. These signals also strongly impact our time gap between two meals, portion sizes and the time taken to eat a meal. So, it is possible to use these signals to improvise appetite response to the food that we eat and hence, reduce caloric intake.
Portion sizes play a major role in helping us reduce total calorie consumption and lose weight eventually. In extremely obese patients such regular practices often don’t yield glorious results. They are subjected to surgeries which also don’t prove to be successful many times. But, in the case of overweight individuals there is the possibility to alter diet practices and bring in effective changes in overall weight. There is a plethora of weight loss pills, supplements and more marketed to people favoring weight loss without side effects. But these don’t bring in optimal results nor are they healthy. The invention discussed in the patent ‘Composition for Reducing Food Intake’ is all about a herbal extract formulation that delays gastric emptying, reduces the time to perceived gastric fullness and was successful in bringing about weight loss in overweight patients over 45 days. The research is even better in the sense that a combination of this herbal extract and dietary fiber induced decreased food intake compared to the use of either alone.
The invention patented is an excellent one as obesity exists as a worldwide epidemic leading to several health consequences and debilitating side effects. The key element here is that the extract is not a meal replacement but only an appetite suppressant. A great appetite is a troublemaker as it ensures a definite increase in consumption rate but an appetite suppressant helps to decrease the desire for increased food intake. The composition of the invention is provided as a component of a normal meal in the form of a dietary supplement, health drink, snack, nutrient-fortified beverage, pill, tablet or soft gel. This extract is also nutritionally complete containing vitamins, minerals, nitrogen, carbohydrates and fatty acids acting as the single source of nutrition fulfilling daily nutrient requirements. The composition can be consumed in the form of a biscuit, cereal, muesli, candy, confectionary, cookie or an energy bar. While the extract is suitable for anyone the frequency and quantity recommended depends on the individual’s degree of excess weight.
The researchers recommend using this invention on subjects who are obliged to lose weight (as in the case of obese/overweight people) or those who control food intake or skip meals to avoid weight gain. In other words, the extract is generally only given to those people who have a BMI equal to or greater than 30.
The patent was originally published on Jan 6th 2011 and is available in many of the world-renowned authentic government patent databases which you can access anytime for a complete understanding of the invention. The links are given here for your convenience.
United States Patent & Trademark Office: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=29&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=nutrition&s2=humans&OS=nutrition+AND+humans&RS=nutrition+AND+humans
European Patent Organization: https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/originalDocument?FT=D&date=20110106&DB=&locale=en_EP&CC=CA&NR=2766095A1&KC=A1&ND=7
World Intellectual Property Organization: https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=US210407582&tab=NATIONALBIBLIO&office=&prevFilter=&sortOption=Pub+Date+Desc&queryString=FP%3A%28composition+for+reducing+food+intake%29&recNum=13&maxRec=130
Fruits and vegetables are like the foundation of a building. A shaky foundation can never hold a strong building likewise, absence of fruits and vegetables from our meals can never fulfill nutrient requirements and health outcomes. Many hate veggies, some like only a few veggies while a few others love to eat fruits only in the form of smoothies or juices that contain ample sugar. With such likes and dislikes, eating five portions of fruits and vegetables daily becomes a nightmare. Still, their benefits on health and positive effects on our body cannot be sidelined.
Gastric cancer remains as the second-most cause of cancer death worldwide and the fourth most common type of cancer diagnosed in people worldwide. It is a disease where malignant cells form in the lining of the stomach. Common risk factors include stomach diseases such as gastric polyps, Epstein-Barr virus, chronic gastritis, etc., diet and age of the person. Men are at an increased risk and old age too puts one at a high-risk category. Stomach is where the food gets digested and what you eat plays a prominent role in assessing your risk of gastric cancer. Salty, smoked foods, eating those foods that have not been prepared properly or stored well and a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables are common risk factors of gastric cancer.
While diet is quoted as a common risk factor and we have evidences supporting it from case-controlled studies, those from cohort studies don’t bring us to any decisive conclusions.
EPIC Study: Europe
EPIC is a broad-scale study that was carried out in 23 centers in 10 different European countries on more than 5,00,000 subjects of which 70% were women aged between 35 and 70 years. The food habits of these volunteers during the last 12 months were noted down in the form of questionnaires, personal interviews or online forms in different countries. There were questions related to smoking, alcohol intake, education, exercise and reproductive history as well.
Vegetables and fruits intake were recorded in grams daily. A secondary dietary measurement was taken from around 8% of the study participants using a 24-hour dietary recall to note down consumption of total fruits, total vegetables and total fruits and vegetables consumption. After excluding participants due to various reasons such as previous prevalence of cancer, insufficient information and so on the final number consisted of 477,312 participants, in which 683 (almost 60% of them were men) of them suffered from stomach adenocarcinomas (gastric cancer or GC), who were followed for around 11 years. Results were observed for all stomach cancer as well as cardia, noncardia, intestinal and diffuse subtypes. Analysis showed that:
Shanghai Men’s & Women’s Health Studies
Gastric cancer exists as the second-most common type of cancer next to lung cancer in China and also is the third cause of death due to cancer. There are multiple studies supporting the intake of fruits and vegetables in reducing the risk of cancer-as much as 40% when consuming fruits and 30% for vegetables for the highest versus lowest categories of intake. Whereas, there has also been a meta-analysis showing that the link between reduced cancer risk and produce consumption is weaker-only 18% for high fruits intake and 12% for veggie intake. Two population-based studies, the Shanghai Women’s Health Study (SWHS) & Men’s Health (SMHS) study was conducted to cross check this result and come to decisive conclusions.
The SWHS included an 81-item food questionnaire and the SMHS included a 77-item food questionnaire with the major difference between them being: the SWHS included sweet potatoes, combines fresh soybeans, fresh peas and fresh broad beans into a single category while the SMHS collects information on each of these individually. SMHS includes additional items such as chrysanthemum, shepherd’s purse, clover and amaranth, pea shoots and pig’s ham hock. Participants were questioned on the frequency of these foods consumed and the quantity consumed every time they eat a fruit or vegetable. They were also asked about how many months of the year that the volunteers consumed a fruit or vegetable. Both the studies excluded those individuals suffering from cancer, gastrectomy and a haphazard total energy intake <500 kcal or >4000 kcal.
All fruits, citrus and non-citrus excluding watermelon, all vegetables, cruciferous, green leafy veggies, alliums, legumes and others, and micronutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C and E, carotene, retinol, selenium and folic acid were included to create quartiles of intake. Results tabulated conveyed the following:
A meta-analysis of 17 studies showed that consumption of fruits and not vegetables reduced the risk of gastric cancer. There was an inverse associated between fruits consumption and GC risk but no significant difference observed in the case of vegetables.
Another study focused on the antioxidants present in fruits and vegetables that decrease the risk of GC in individuals. The protective effect of produce has been mainly due to the presence of antioxidant effect of the vitamin contents such as tocopherols and vitamin C. But the number of studies analyzing this effect (antioxidants and risk of gastric cardia cancer (GCC) and gastric noncardia cancer (GNCC)) is extremely limited. One such study focused on the intake of fruits and vegetables and the effect of antioxidants on the risk of GCC and GNCC.
Increased intake of fruits did not alter risk of GCC but did decrease the risk of GNCC. Intake of vitamin C was not associated with a risk of GCC but moderate to high intake of vitamin C was linked to a 40% reduced risk of GNCC. Retinol intake was linked to a dose-dependent protective association with GCC but did not prove anything for GNCC. γ-Tocopherol was associated with an elevated risk of GCC (2-fold increased risk) but a decreased risk of GNCC. So, increased intake of retinol proved to be protective against GCC whereas increased intake of fruits, vitamin C, tocopherols and lycopene was protective against GNCC.
Fruit & Vegetable Consumption & the Risk of Gastric Adenocarcinoma: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ijc.27565
Fruits & Vegetables Consumption & Risk of Distal Gastric Cancer in the Shanghai’s Women’s & Men’s Health Studies: https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/172/4/397/85175
Consumption of Fruits but Not Vegetables Reduce the Risk of Gastric Cancer: https://www.ejcancer.com/article/S0959-8049(14)00150-6/fulltext
Fruits, Vegetables & Antioxidants & Risk of Gastric Cancer among Male Smokers: http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/14/9/2087
Gastric Cancer Treatment: https://www.cancer.gov/types/stomach/patient/stomach-treatment-pdq
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