Posts

Showing posts with the label healthy living

How mass surveillance can actually help us

Image
The face of Edward Snowden is etched in history as the man who brought out in the open the mass surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency of the United States. While the very idea of mass surveillance raises questions about the government's right to mine data, keep its programs classified for purposes of national security and also our right of privacy in this digital age, there is also the other side of the coin, which we are failing to look at, the side where mass surveillance can be used in a positive manner, to help people. This is the kind of surveillance, Telenor did in Pakistan.
Surveillance of phones in Pakistan 
For those who might not be aware, the city of Karachi in Pakistan has been afflicted with the deadly disease of dengue for many decades. At the time of writing this post, there are 2896 dengue fever cases reported in the province of Sindh in Pakistan this year, of which 2829 are reported in Karachi alone. It is only a matter of time, before the virus …

Eat your veggies or your doctor will know! [Coffee-byte]

Image
Fresh vegetables are important components
of a healthy diet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) We have always been told that fruits and vegetables are good for our health and as we all get health conscious by the day, we do make a conscious effort to eat them, except the ones that we do not like!

Take bitter gourd for instance. Sold as a health drink in the mornings, this supreme vegetable makes for an excellent candidate for lunch or even as a crisp accompaniment with dinner. But we use every excuse in the book to avoid eating it. However, we will not be able to fool ourselves any longer, because our physician will soon know whether we have actually been eating a proper diet or skipping the greens. 
When did this happen? 
This new development is thanks to the research conducted at the School of Public Health and Medicine at Yale University where researchers Susan Mayne and her colleagues have developed a simple blue laser which when held against the palm of your hand can (almost) instantly tell …

Feeling low at work? Add a plant to your workspace [Coffee-byte]

Image
If you have been feeling low at work for some time now, do look around to see if there is some greenery to cheer you up. If there isn't, do step out and get yourself a potted plant. Well, this is no 'feng-shui' advice that we are giving away, but the result of three elaborate studies carried out by researchers at in UK and Netherlands and published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.
Studies on the effects of indoor plants date back to late 1990s but evidence for introducing green environs takes us back to the Burolandschaft movement in Germany in the 1950s when office landscaping was done to make working environment more collaborative and humane. 
The obvious benefits of having a plant in closed spaces such as an office would be active replenishment of carbon di-oxide with oxygen thereby increasing productivity. 
The other explanation for explaining this benefit is attributed to the attention restoration therapy (ART) that was proposed by Kaplan in 1995. …

Living with malaria

Image
Everyone in India, at some point in their lives, may have been infected with malaria. Now this may sound a little out there, but may not be something far away from reality. Just recently, Times of India reported that 67 people died in Tripura of malaria in the last month alone, and 55 among them, were children. The north eastern state of our country is amongst one of the most gravely hit regions when it comes to malarial outbreaks, along with the other red zone regions, Andaman and Nicobar islands and Pondicherry. 
Malaria has been around in India for quite a while now. In fact, the discovery of its vector- the mosquito was done here in India by Sir Ronald Ross who bagged the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his discovery. There are about 250 million people affected every year with the malarial parasite, out of which nearly 2 million succumb to the disease. In India, alone we face a daunting number of around 30,000- 50,000 deaths caused due to malaria each year, most of them …

Sildenafil citrate: How Pfizer sold the wrong drug to the right people!

Image
In 1989, researchers Peter Dunn and Albert Wood, working at the Pfizer’s research facility at Kent, England, were able to synthesize a drug that could be used to treat patients with high blood pressure and chest pain. Called Sildenafil citrate, this drug could inhibit functioning of the enzyme, cGMP-specific phosphodiestrase type 5, simply called PDE-5, making blood vessels more receptive to nitric oxide in the blood, further leading to the relaxation of the arterial wall and regulation of blood pressure. Like every other drug discovery, Sildenafil citrate, too, now had to go through rigorous clinical trials before being able to actually help patients. Phase I clinical trials were conducted at a hospital in Wales which did not progress very well. In addition to the regular side-effects such as headache, impaired vision and indigestion, sildenafil was also found to result in unintended penile erections in male subjects. What was even worse for Pfizer is that the study found that the d…

Are you in sync with your microbes?

Image
Bacteria, fungi and viruses are better known for the harm they cause and are usually associated with the words such as infections, fever and at times, even cancer.  The pharmaceutical industry spends billions of dollars every year in attempts to develop new antibiotics, new methods of treatment for ailments caused by infections of these micro-organisms while health care providers spend resources to prevent such infections from occurring in first place.  But what if, the microbes are not meant to be kept away? What if we are looking at the problem the wrong way? What if the microbes are not the problem at all? Confused? Let us explain!
Why micro-organisms?

Although we first became aware of micro organisms in the year 1675, microbes are estimated to have occupied Earth almost 4 billion years ago. Not only are they the earliest inhabitants, they are also the most versatile and the most ubiquitous of all life forms. The total number of micro organisms on our Earth is estimated to be 50000…

The story of bottled water!

Image
This video is courtesy of Story of Stuff.org. and assumes special significance in the wake of major companies like TATA and Bisleri rolling out new campaigns to attract consumers to their new products. Of course, we have nothing against these companies, its is just about saying 'NO' to things we just do not need.






Like and Share this post as much as you can and remember to carry a bottle of water with you every time you step out!
Related articlesBisleri launches digital campaign for 500 ml bottle (aaramshoppro.com)Why Bisleri Celebrated 'World Shabaash Day' On Social Media (lighthouseinsights.in)

Leptin can help you lose weight?

Image
Leptin is a small hormone produced by the adipose tissues (fat cells) in our body and functions as a signal for the amount of fat present in the body. Depending on the 'Leptin' signal received, the brain can instruct our stomach to stop demanding food or our mouth to stop eating, thereby reducing food intake. So, in theory, more the amount of leptin in your body, lesser will you eat and it would be a a breeze to keep your weight in control. Of course, there is a catch.
The effect of Leptin was discovered in 1994 in a study involving voraciously eating obese mice. When these mice were given leptin injections, their craving for food dropped and they returned to normal body weight. So, scientists attempted to cure obesity in humans with the help of leptin injections. But, during trials, large amounts and frequent doses of leptin had to be injected to gain significant weight loss in highly obese patients. Also, large doses resulted in redness of skin at the site of injection for c…

The science of Consumerism

Image
We live in a world where television, billboards, magazines and even toilets are hoarded with sales pitches trying to convince us that a particular brand of soup is what will rid us of our loneliness and make our lives happier. Every day we are bombarded with ideas and concepts to such an extent that we subconsciously start accepting them (almost like Inception). ‘Advertising’ is selling the viewer the idea that consumption (of a particular product) will lead to gratification. In fact, almost all advertisements tap into our insatiable appetite for prestige, power, happiness and status, making the idea quite seductive. Consumerism today has become a pastime, ideology and even a source of addiction.  In fact lots of economists and philosophers like to think of consumerism as the singular idea that has successfully taken over the world we live in today. People from all regions, religions and ages indulge in the idea that  - more is always better!

But really… is it?

Over the years we have …

7 facts about Polyomaviruses

Image
Over the last few decades, cancer has become a commonly known disorder. Advances in modern medicine have brought in newer methods of cancer detection and treatment thereby improving the quality of life. But two facets  of cancer still remain elusive to us, a permanent cure as well as a well defined cause.
Different theories have been hypothesized to explain the emergence of cancer in first place. Various studies have been conducted around these theories and we have managed to come up factors such drinking, smoking, gene mutations etc. that might increase one's susceptibility to cancer but no defined cause. One of the tangible cause we have so far are viruses.
Known to us since 1950s, Polyomaviruses are viruses that possess the ability to cause multiple (poly) tumors (-oma). These are close relatives of the Papillomaviruses that are known to cause warts or non cancerous tumours in humans. For quite some time, we knew of only two Polyomaviruses that could infect humans. But studies…

Looking beyond tumour-inducing effects of cell phones

Image
The cell phone has become an integral part of our lives. Thanks to the multiple tasks that today's smartphones can handle, a cell phone is promoted more as "Life Companion" than a gadget.  Even among friends and colleagues it has become quite common to find individuals who are so attached to their cell phones that they 'cannot live without them', feel anxious if left without their phones or feel this need to answer every call they receive on their phone. 

This addiction to stay connected has become a favorite topic for research on how cell phone usage affects our day-to-day lives. Initial studies concentrated on how cell phone usage affected tasks such as driving.  Results from such studies promoted the imposition of restrictions on drivers but pedestrians were left free to use their phones during their commute. A recent study focusing on pedestrian cell phone usage now tell us that attention of cell phone users is so impaired that most users failed to even noti…

Allergies and The Hygiene Hypothesis

Image
Have you ever gone to a kid’s birthday party and every time someone got up for the food table the host would go on with a list of what could be probable allergens in the dish? With kids today being allergic to perpetually everything (except junk food), throwing a birthday party may be the worst nightmare for any host! But all jokes apart, anyone would have noticed that the list of allergies seems to be getting more and more bizarre.
Our connection with microbes
Our tiff with the microbial world kick starts quite early in our neonatal life. When the fetus is growing inside its mother’s womb, it is protected from this microbial world. After it is born, it gets introduced into a different environment- one abundant in microbes. These microbes rapidly colonize the gut and respiratory tract, to the extent that at the cellular level they exceed human cells by ten times! But these microbes are actually beneficial to the human body. They provide a constant stimulus for the development and matu…

Bread that won't go bad!

Image
Mold on bread (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Imagine a future where the packet of bread that you bought yesterday stays mould-free for months to come!
Rhizopus stolonifer, the most common form of fungus known to man, is the cause of moulds that grow on packed bread. The fungus is so common that all you need to grow it on a slice of bread is some moisture from the air.  So, how do you save the opened packet of bread from the an attack of this proliferative fungus. A common method, followed in most households is storing bread in the refrigerator.

While this might slow down fungal growth for the bread you bought, shelf life of packed bread is quite short (usually 5 days). As much as 25% of all bread produced is discarded after 5 days leading to a large amount of food wastage globally. Bakeries tend to add more preservatives such as sodium benzoate, calcium proprionate, potassium sorbate etc. to increase shelf life.  Increasing these concentrations not only affects flavour and texture of bread,…