Small worm's biological processes give clues to environmental effects to humans, Wayne State University researcher says
Category: Living Well Written by Wayne State University
A Wayne State University researcher is using a tiny worm to better understand how human physiology and behavior are affected by the environment.
In studying the worm C. elegans, Joy Alcedo, Ph.D., assistant professor of biological sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, recently found that the animals' sensory neurons affect lifespan through recognition of food types, which include different bacteria.
Her team also found that those neurons act with a neuropeptide receptor similar to one existing in humans. Neuropeptides are small proteins released from neurons that regulate important biological processes by activating receptor proteins and their signaling cascades. Expressed in both the sensory system and the reproductive system, they found that this particular neuropeptide receptor influences the C. elegans' lifespan in a manner dependent on the outer structure of the worm's live E. coli food source.
"Environmental cues, like the type of food source, level of food intake or various forms of stress, have been shown to influence lifespan," Alcedo said. "These different cues presumably modulate the activities of different signaling pathways that have previously been shown to affect longevity."
Alcedo's study, "Elucidation of the Mechanisms through Which the Neuropeptide Receptor NMUR-1 Mediates the Sensory Influence on C. elegans Physiology and Lifespan," has been supported by the Novartis Research Foundation and a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation, based on results that the team published in the journal PLoS Biology in 2010.
Although Alcedo's data suggest that NMUR-1 is required to process specific food-derived information in influencing lifespan, the precise mechanisms involved remain unclear. Thus, she aims to understand the mechanisms through which the receptor mediates the sensory influence on lifespan and alters C. elegans' physiology in a food source-dependent manner.
Discovering a role for NMUR-1 in affecting C. elegans' lifespan through the type of diet provides a genetic framework for clarifying how specific food cues, as well as the sensory system, influence lifespan.
"Since this receptor is also found in humans, understanding how it affects C. elegans' lifespan may lead us to understand how a similar pathway could function within us," Alcedo said. "This could suggest that the large repertoire of neuropeptides and their receptors in C. elegans and other animals serve to process distinct environmental information into physiological responses that would optimize survival."
Alcedo believes her studies may also yield much-needed insight into how different types of diet contribute to age-related diseases like obesity and diabetes; such diseases presumably involve the deregulation of specific activities of different neuropeptide signaling pathways.
In a related study, "Two Insulin-like Peptides Antagonistically Regulate Aversive Olfactory Learning in C. elegans," published in the journal Neuron in February, Alcedo's team, in collaboration with the team of Yun Zhang at Harvard University, found that specific insulin-like peptides regulate distinct processes, such as learning versus development, in different ways. For example, they can act opposite from each other in certain cases or synergistically in others.
Previous work from her team also showed that C. elegans' insulin-like peptides can encode sensory information to regulate various developmental processes, raising the possible existence of a combinatorial insulin-like peptide code for physiology. The study in Neuron suggests that such a code might not be limited to developmental processes, but can also be extended to other processes, such as learning. Her team's study of the insulin-like peptides has been funded by the Novartis Research Foundation.
"Because of the high degree of similarities between C. elegans and humans, studies of the 40 C. elegans' insulin-like peptides can provide insights into the activities of the ten-member human insulin-like peptide family, which includes insulin," Alcedo said. "These studies raise the possibility that a similar combinatorial insulin-like peptide code, which might be analog in nature, can regulate different human physiological and behavioral processes.
"Thus, such a possibility can help develop therapeutic strategies against many human insulin-like peptide-associated diseases such as the metabolic syndrome, different types of cancer and neurological disorders."
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 July 2013 10:25
Category: Living Well Written by Michigan Chronicle Staff
During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) ...she said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening.
Jane's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00 PM Jane passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Jane would be with us today.
Some don't die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead. A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.
RECOGNIZING A STROKE
Thank God for the sense to remember the '3' steps, STR. Read and Learn!
Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.
Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple
S-Ask the individual to SMILE.
T-Ask the person to TALK and speak a simple sentence, coherently (I.e. It is sunny out today.)*
R-Ask him or her to RAISE both arms.
If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.
New Sign of a Stroke -------- Stick out Your Tongue
Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: Ask the person to 'stick' out their tongue. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 July 2013 13:56
Category: Living Well Written by Diane C. Lade/ Sun Sentinel
Turns out “stand up straight” isn’t just good advice from your mother. Aging experts increasingly believe posture is, in some cases, an indicator of how well you will age. They suggest seniors in particular, who sometimes begin to stoop or shuffle as they grow older, should be more aware of their body alignment and take action if their posture is out of whack.
“Posture affects everything we do. We want people to build an awareness about their posture … and teach them to move with greater symmetry and balance,” says Dr. Steven Weiniger, an Atlanta-area chiropractor and posture expert who works with seniors.
Most elders are aware of how important exercise is, and more are having balance testing done _ both good ways to prevent falls. But Weiniger said posture is an overlooked part of the wellness equation.
Primary care physicians may recognize the health risks that hunched shoulders and “flexed” posture hint at. But often, they refer those patients for physical therapy when it’s almost too late, said Kevin Pallone, a physical therapist specializing in geriatrics.
Posture is one of the things he evaluates at his clinics in Boynton Beach, Fla., and at the Louis and Anne Green Memory and Wellness Center on Florida Atlantic University’s Boca Raton campus.
Slouching seniors who come in complaining they have a balance problem often also have a complicated mix of poor posture, weak muscles and bones and limited flexibility, Pallone said. Mix them together and the person could be at risk for respiratory problems and neck and lower back pain that will cause them to become even more glued to the couch.
A recent study, published online in the Journals of Gerontology Series biological and medical sciences series, suggests that seniors with a specific type of poor posture — high “trunk line of inclination” angles between two specific vertebra — might be more likely to eventually need at-home care or be admitted to a nursing home.
Japanese researchers looked at 804 people age 65 and older who were living in a town near Tokyo, taking four different spinal measurements with a computer-based “spinal mouse.” They found, in doing a followup almost five years later, that those with the greatest trunk line inclinations were three times more likely to have lost their ability to feed, bathe or dress themselves.
“Accumulated evidence shows that good spinal posture is important in (allowing) the aged to maintain independent lives,” the researchers wrote.
A delegate to the last White House Conference on Aging in 2005, Weiniger says posture is important to healthy aging because it is tied to movement.
“We know that movement allows you to maintain a level of activity and the more active you are, the better you age,” said Weiniger, who created the StrongPosture program detailed in his book, “Stand Taller — Live Longer.” ($9.99 Kindle edition at amazon.com; $22.95 softcover).
Stretching techniques and proper exercises can help seniors regain muscle strength, improve posture and gain flexibility, Pallone said.
“Can we get them to where they are 18 again? No,” he said. “Can we get them feeling better? Yes.”
For more information on the StrongPosture program, go to BodyZone.com or standtallerlivelonger.com.
Take posture pictures: Wearing gym clothes, relax and stand in what you think is your best posture. Have someone take full-length photos of you from the side, front and back. Do this once a year to monitor any changes.
Be posture conscious: Check yourself in your posture photos or in a full-length mirror from top to toes. Is your head level and balanced above your shoulders? Are your shoulders level and even over your hips? Are your hips level or is your pelvis tilted forward or backward? Are your thighs, knees and feet aligned?
Keep moving: Bad posture in part comes from weak muscles. And controlled motion is critical. Exercise daily, even if just a little. Do exercises that improve balance, flexibility and strength.
Monitor your pain: Neck and back pain often are caused, in part, by poor posture.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 July 2013 13:38
Category: Living Well Written by Darralynn Hutson
Last week I talked to four different people on four separate occasions about how they knew what to eat but couldn't seem to get it together. "I know I'm not suppose to drink so much coffee, it's yellowing my teeth so bad," my aunt claimed. "I should drink more water, I know it's good for my skin," another friend concluded.
It made me think of regret. Regret is the worst physically-tasking emotion since there isn't a damn thing we can do about the past. Kanye West knows what he's talking about when he voices he had no regrets. Missed opportunity can haunt us for the better part of our lives and can weigh down our hearts, body and minds. "If I could just..." has nothing to do with discipline; it is simply the result of a previous lack of stick to it-ness.
I was challenged this week when asked to pitch in with other parents on snacks for a T-Ball league my daughter had joined. Most parents were willing bring processed and convenient foods like Hot Dogs, chips and juice boxes. The coach, who suggested we bar-b-que, had coaxed his wife into bringing a grill to every game last year. Mind you, both the coach and his wife are morbidly obese; like me, more than 50+ pounds outside of their body's comfort zone. Then they teenage daughter shows up, she too, size 24plus, swollen from the same diet of so many of us. When I mentioned a healthy snack like carrots or apple slices, another parent said she'd bring fruit snacks.
This situation of whether to eat what I know is best versus doing what the majority easily does has applied in my business, my family, my love life and most recently my daughter's health. I had started this challenge and it was forever kicking my butt, putting me out there as someone that wasn't normal, beyond what's acceptable. I had some regrets about this healthy living challenge.
Many of my family members are consumed with all the things they shoulda done, coulda done, or woulda done. Certain members cast blame of their declining health on other family members while accept their teeth rotting, hair falling out and feet swelling simply as a way of life.
Taking all of this in, I decided to follow my new healthy-eating passion instead of my fear. Hell, I wanted to be accepted by these other parents but I also wanted to be bold and courageous when it came to my daughter's health. I immediately went online and searched for vegan snacks specifically for little league games and I came away with some great and easy ideas: grapes – homemade trail mix – raisins – lettuce wraps - apple slices – popcorn. I had to be creative and sometimes being creative comes off as being weird and not normal.
But normal people - those shoulda coulda woulda folks - are not me. I'm destined to leave an indelible mark on my friends and family, as long as I can stick to it long enough to make it happen. No more regrets. I'll never know what I'm truly capable of until you unshackle this weight and in my family and my T-Ball league, that means giving yourself permission to be different.
When I look back on it all the Summer-filled family gathering and the ribs and mayo-laden potato salad I ate over the many years, I don't wish I'd eaten more hamburgers. I wish I would've eaten more spinach salad and grilled red peppers instead. What will matter is how I eat for MY heart, MY liver and MY pancreas so they can work at their full potential. So, wish me luck this weekend, when I get to the game on Saturday, I hope I'll have more supporters and fewer eye-rolling kids.
When it's all said and done, it's not easy to have the courage and conviction not eat the processed foods. My suggestionthis week: stop going along with the crowd. You won't regret it.
Last Updated on Monday, 01 July 2013 11:49
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