Indigenous South American group has healthiest arteries of all populations yet studied, providing clues to healthy lifestyle

The Tsimane people — a forager-horticulturalist population of the Bolivian Amazon — have the lowest reported levels of vascular aging for any population, with coronary atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) being five times less common than in the US, according to a study published in The Lancet and being presented at the American College of Cardiology conference.

The researchers propose that the loss of subsistence diets and lifestyles in contemporary society could be classed as a new risk factor for heart disease. The main risk factors are age, smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity and diabetes.

“Our study shows that the Tsimane indigenous South Americans have the lowest prevalence of coronary atherosclerosis of any population yet studied,” said senior anthropology author, Professor Hillard Kaplan, University of New Mexico, USA. “Their lifestyle suggests that a diet low in saturated fats and high in non-processed fibre-rich carbohydrates, along with wild game and fish, not smoking and being active throughout the day could help prevent hardening in the arteries of the heart. The loss of subsistence diets and lifestyles could be classed as a new risk factor for vascular aging and we believe that components of this way of life could benefit contemporary sedentary populations.”

Although the Tsimane lifestyle is very different from that of contemporary society, certain elements of it are transferable and could help to reduce risk of heart disease.

While industrial populations are sedentary for more than half of their waking hours (54%), the Tsimane spend only 10% of their daytime being inactive. They live a subsistence lifestyle that involves hunting, gathering, fishing and farming, where men spend an average of 6-7 hours of their day being physically active and women spend 4-6 hours.

Their diet is largely carbohydrate-based (72%) and includes non-processed carbohydrates which are high in fibre such as rice, plantain, manioc, corn, nuts and fruits. Protein constitutes 14% of their diet and comes from animal meat. The diet is very low in fat with fat compromising only 14% of the diet — equivalent to an estimated 38 grams of fat each day, including 11g saturated fat and no trans fats. In addition, smoking was rare in the population.

In the observational study, the researchers visited 85 Tsimane villages between 2014 and 2015. They measured the participants’ risk of heart disease by taking CT scans of the hearts of 705 adults (aged 40-94 years old) to measure the extent of hardening of the coronary arteries, as well as measuring weight, age, heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and inflammation.

Based on their CT scan, almost nine in 10 of the Tsimane people (596 of 705 people, 85%) had no risk of heart disease, 89 (13%) had low risk and only 20 people (3%) had moderate or high risk. These findings also continued into old age, where almost two-thirds (65%, 31 of 48) of those aged over 75 years old had almost no risk and 8% (4 of 48) had moderate or high risk. These results are the lowest reported levels of vascular aging of any population recorded to date.

By comparison, a US study of 6814 people (aged 45 to 84) found that only 14% of Americans had a CT scan that suggested no risk of heart disease and half (50%) had a moderate or high risk — a five-fold higher prevalence than in the Tsimane population.

In the Tsimane population, heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose were also low, potentially as a result of their lifestyle. The researchers also note that the low risk of coronary atherosclerosis was identified despite there being elevated levels of inflammation in half of the Tsimane population (51%, 360 of 705 people).

“Conventional thinking is that inflammation increases the risk of heart disease,” said Professor Randall Thompson, cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, USA. “However, the inflammation common to the Tsimane was not associated with increased risk of heart disease, and may instead be the result of high rates of infections.”

Because the study is observational it cannot confirm how the Tsimane population is protected from vascular aging, or which part of their lifestyle (diet, physical activity or smoking) is most protective. The researchers suggest it is more likely to be a result of their lifestyle than genetics, because of a gradual increase in cholesterol levels coinciding with a rapidly changing lifestyle.

“Over the last five years, new roads and the introduction of motorised canoes have dramatically increased access to the nearby market town to buy sugar and cooking oil,” said Dr Ben Trumble, Arizona State University, USA. “This is ushering in major economic and nutritional changes for the Tsimane people.”

The researchers did not study whether coronary artery hardening in the Tsimane population impacted on their health, but note that deaths from heart attacks are very uncommon in the population so it is likely that their low levels of atherosclerosis and heart disease are associated. The researchers are investigating this in further research.

“This study suggests that coronary atherosclerosis could be avoided if people adopted some elements of the Tsimane lifestyle, such as keeping their LDL cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar very low, not smoking and being physically active,” said senior cardiology author Dr Gregory S. Thomas, Long Beach Memorial Medical Centre, USA. “Most of the Tsimane are able to live their entire life without developing any coronary atherosclerosis. This has never been seen in any prior research. While difficult to achieve in the industrialized world, we can adopt some aspects of their lifestyle to potentially forestall a condition we thought would eventually effect almost all of us.”

Female Pet Owners May Be Less Likely to Die of Stroke

U.S. women over age 50 and generally healthy were less likely to die of cardiovascular events like stroke if they had a cat or dog, the researchers found.

After accounting for the increase in physical activity required of dog owners, owning a cat instead of a dog was still tied to a lower risk of death from stroke.

Female Pet Owners May Be Less Likely to Die of Stroke

The researchers studied almost 4,000 adults age 50 and older without major illnesses who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in 1988 to 1994 and who reported their pet ownership.

Participants also answered questions about physical activity, weight and height, cigarette smoking and other health risk factors. More than half were overweight or obese.

About 35 percent of people owned a pet, most often a dog. Pet owners tended to be younger, more often were married, and more often were white.

According to the National Death Index, as of 2006, 11 of every 1,000 non-pet owners had died of cardiovascular disease, compared to about 7 of every 1,000 pet owners.

Specifically for stroke, male pet owners were just as likely to have died, but female pet owners were about 40 percent less likely to have died of stroke.

Most of this association was driven by cat ownership, according to results in High Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Prevention.

“Anecdotally, we believe that walking a dog is good for heart, reducing life pressure andblood pressure as well,” said senior author Jian Zhang of the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University in the U.S.

“I strongly believe that putative benefits of keeping a dog have not yet fully translated into reality, and we found that pet owners did not walk pets, certainly, dogs, more often than others,” Zhang said. “This explains why owning a dog did not reduce CVD mortality among dog owners.”

Cat owners may have a personality that protects their hearts, rather than cats actually having a concrete effect on heart health, he said.

“We are short of overall assessment of the associations of companion animals with human health, and our study should not be interpreted to encourage more people to own pets, either dog or cat,” Zhang said. “Pets are good, but have to be kept responsibly.”

“In my study, there was a tendency for pet owners to have a higher risk of dying,” said Dr. Richard F. Gillum of Howard University College of Medicine in Washington D.C., who was not part of the new study but did study the same NHANES surveys.

Most findings show no association between pets and survival, he said.

“Data from NHANES are really inadequate to settle the question, since one can only determine there was a pet in the household, but not the number of pets or whether the study participant was the owner, cared for it or interacted with it,” Gillum said. “So we need to wait for better studies before making any firm conclusions about pets and survival among their owners.”

“Even if there were a reduction of death from stroke among women with cats, of what importance is that in public health terms if they are just as likely to die as other women, just from another cause,” he said.

International Yoga Day: Embrace Yoga to Age Gracefully, Say Experts

Yoga won’t give you immortality but this ancient discipline of bringing union between the body, mind and spirit can definitely help you fight age – both physical and mental, say health and wellness experts.

International Yoga Day: Embrace Yoga to Age Gracefully, Say Experts

“In my practice in India and abroad I have seen several cases where my clients have gotten better by regular yoga, pranayam and meditation,” Preeti Rao, Health, Lifestyle and Wellness Consultant at Max Healthcare.

Regular yoga practice can help fight chronic lifestyle diseases like hypertension, hormonal imbalances, diabetes, reproductive disorders, and respiratory and cardiovascular related health concerns. Besides people with obesity, anxiety, constipation and digestive disorders can benefit significantly from practising yoga, according to the experts.

“From diabetes to high blood pressure, high cholesterol to heart problems, yoga can help you combat many such health issues that usually develop over the years. Also, arthritis is one of the most common problems among elderly people and yoga is a great way to tone it down and help the body become more active and flexible,” said Nidhi Arora, physiotherapist at AktivOrtho, an orthopaedic, neurological and gynaecological rehabilitation centre.

“Individuals prone to osteoporosis or are already suffering from the problem can gain a lot from yoga as a daily life discipline which increases bone density and growth. To keep a watch over increase in weight as well, yoga proves to be very helpful,” Arora noted.

Yoga can improve blood flow in the body and increase oxygen supply to body cells. It helps improve balance which tends to become weak as one ages, acclaimed fitness expert and nutritionist Sonia Bajaj said. What’s more, the benefits of yoga transcends physical fitness alone.

“Yoga is not limited to yoga or physical exercise,” Rao said.

Scholarly studies and research in this area have strongly documented how yoga helps in improving cognitive abilities.

“Pranayama helps one to attain a better balance between the right and left-brain bringing more balance between emotional and rational thinking. Meditation facilitates a process of introspection, and brings more clarity and focus in one’s life. Regular yoga also improves memory,” Rao noted.

“A regular yoga practice even for just 20-30 minutes daily that is simple and involves varied breathing exercises and mediation is what I would recommend to remain sharp, alert and for a balanced life,” she added.

A recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that a three-month course of Kundalini yoga and Kirtan Kriya meditation practice helped minimise the cognitive and emotional problems that often precede Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, brain disorders that impair the memory.

Kirtan Kriya, which involves chanting, hand movements and visualisation of light, has been practiced for hundreds of years in India as a way to prevent cognitive decline in older adults. Yoga and meditation was even more effective than the memory enhancement exercises that have been considered the gold standard for managing mild cognitive impairment, the findings showed.

“Historically and anecdotally, yoga has been thought to be beneficial in ageing well, but this is the scientific demonstration of that benefit,” lead author of the study Harris Eyre, doctoral candidate at the University of Adelaide in Australia, said.

“If you or your relatives are trying to improve your memory or offset the risk for developing memory loss or dementia, a regular practice of yoga and meditation could be a simple, safe and low-cost solution to improving your brain fitness,” Helen Lavretsky, the study’s senior author and professor in residence in the department of psychiatry, University of California-Los Angeles, suggested.

“Yoga forms like asana, pranayama and a regular devotion towards meditation are such strong tools that they are bound to invigorate the brain, help enhance the power of the mind and stimulate the nervous system as well. Yoga should be taken seriously as results from it are long-lasting and life-changing for sure,” Arora noted.

However, with many different types of yoga being practiced today, it is important for you to find out with the help of experts which type of yoga meets your needs, she said.

Soon, a botanical drug to cure dengue!

New Delhi: In what could be termed as a major advance in dengue treatment, scientists from India claimed to have come up with a novel botanical drug which will cure the world’s fastest growing mosquito-borne disease.

Sun Pharma, India’s largest pharmaceutical company, has signed an agreement with the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) on Wednesday to develop a novel plant-based drug to combat the dengue that afflicts at least 100,000 and kills at least 200 in India anually.

The drug, Cipa, is being developed from a plant called Cissampelos pariera, also known as abuta or laghupatha. Recently, they reported the potency of this plant in treating the disease.

Sun Pharma will develop Cipa, scientifically called Cissampelos Pareira, by following a drug registration process similar to that for a new chemical entity, consisting of all required in vitro, in vivo, pre-clinical and clinical studies meeting regulatory standards in India and worldwide, a joint statement issued by Sun Pharma and ICGEB said.

According to Navin Khanna, senior scientist at ICGEB, New Delhi and the group leader of the project, atleast 10 scientist have been working on this for at least 10 years now, studying at least 10 species of plants. He also added that each of the plants showed the characteristics to fight the symptoms of dengue.

It is said that the drug has completed pre-clinical work, through all phases of clinical studies.

Dengue virus is transmitted by female mosquitoes mainly of the species Aedes aegypti.

Dengue currently threatens about half the world’s population or almost 4 billion people, which leads to an estimated 60-100 million symptomatic dengue cases every year.

With no specific dengue therapeutics and prevention being currently available, the development is being seen as a major advance in dengue treatment.

One-sixth of Brazil’s microcephaly cases linked to Zika

Brasilia: Microcephaly cases in Brazil have increased to 1,271, and almost one-sixth are linked to the Zika virus.

 

Brazilian health ministry on Wednesday said between October 22 and April 30 out of 1,271 microcephaly cases 203 tested positive for the Zika virus.

The numbers were expected to further rise as the investigation was still ongoing, Xinhua news agency reported.

During the period, 267 babies died suspectedly from microcephaly or other abnormalities with the central nervous system during pregnancy or after labour.

The Zika virus, like dengue fever and chikungunya, is spread by the “Aedes aegypti” mosquito which is common in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

Brazil, one of the worst affected countries, registered the largest number of microphaly in newborns, supposedly related to the virus.

The Brazilian government declared a state of health emergency in November 2015.

World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a health emergency of international concern on February 1, 2016, due to the rapid spread of Zika.

Practitioners Seek Standards for Ayurveda Medicines

Ayurveda practitioners seek standards for Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurveda practitioners from across the country assembled to sought standards for Ayurvedic medicines to popularize Ayurveda and create more awareness among people about its health benefits. They also sought from the Centre substantial hike in funding for Ayurveda for research work and creating health infrastructure across the country.

Practitioners Seek Standards for Ayurveda Medicines

“Standards for Ayurveda medicines should be formed in order to create awareness among people about its health benefits,” All India Ayurveda Congress President Devender Triguna said. Recently, All India Ayurveda Congress has held its 58th session here which was attended by President Pranab Mukherjee

Vaidyas (who practice Ayurveda) pointed out that it was essential to come out with standards or certification for Ayurveda medicines so as to make it more popular among people about its “purity”. “Our strength is purity and there should be standard to measure it. The standards for Ayurveda medicines should be set like we have ISI mark which will help in building more confidence among people about its remedies,” said Ayurveda medicine maker Shree Dhootapapeshwar, ED, Ranjit Puranik.

President Pranab Mukherjee had asked to “demystify and popularize” Ayurvedic medicine through “informative marketing and user-friendly packaging”. “Ayurveda and Siddha had laid down protocols for treating diseases that resembled diseases that we know today as HIV and tuberculosis,” Mukherjee had said.

Presently, the combined market of Ayurvedic medicines along with naturopathy, Unani is pegged at Rs. 14,000 crore, growing at a rate of 12-14 per cent per annum. Triguna further demanded from the Centre to earmark at least 20 per cent of total health budget for Ayurveda, saying it was essential for carrying out research in this oldest form of medicine and building necessary infrastructure in this regard.

Early Sleep Problems Can Lead to Pain Later in Life

Sleep problems in young adults, especially women, are significantly linked to chronic pain and even worsening pain severity over time, researchers report. Overall, 38 percent of young adults with severe sleep problems at initial evaluation had chronic pain at follow-up, compared with 14 percent of those without initial sleep problems.

Early identification and treatment of sleep problems may help reduce later problems with musculoskeletal, headache and abdominal pain in young adults.

Early Sleep Problems Can Lead to Pain Later in Life

“In contrast, the presence of pain generally doesn’t predict worsening sleep problems during the transition between adolescence and young adulthood,” said Dr Irma J Bonvanie from University of Groningen, the Netherlands.

The team analysed relationship between sleep problems and pain in nearly 1,750 young adults in the age group 19-22. The study, published in the journal PAIN, focused on overall chronic pain as well as specific types of pain: musculoskeletal, headache and abdominal pain.

The long-term associations between sleep problems and the pain types were compared between the sexes and the mediating effects of anxiety and depression, fatigue and physical activity were explored. The results suggested that the relationship between sleep problems and pain was stronger in women than men — a difference that may start around older adolescence/emerging adulthood.

Three years later, those with sleep problems were more likely to have new or persistent chronic pain. People with sleep problems were more likely to have chronic pain and had more severe musculoskeletal, headache and abdominal pain.

Healthy Tips For Boost Women’s Health

Women’s health concerns are a little different from those of men. If you’re a woman, these tips will soon have you feeling fit and energetic. Here are six simple things that women can do every day (or with regularity) to ensure good health:

1: Eat a healthy diet. “You want to eat as close to a natural foods diet as you can,” says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. That means a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Eat whole grains and high-fiber foods and choose leaner cuts of meat, fish, and poultry. Include low-fat dairy products in your diet as well — depending on your age, you need between 800 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily to help avoid osteoporosis, Dr. Novey says. Avoid foods and beverages that are high in calories, sugar, salt, and fat.

Healthy eating will help you maintain a proper weight for your height, which is important because being overweight can lead to a number of illnesses. Looking for a healthy snack? Try some raw vegetables, such as celery, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, or zucchini with dip made from low-fat yogurt.

If you’re not getting enough vitamins and nutrients in your diet, you might want to take a multivitamin and a calcium supplement to make sure you’re maintaining good health.

2: Exercise. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in America, but plenty of exercise can help keep your heart healthy. You want to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, if not every day. Aerobic exercises (walking, swimming, jogging, bicycling, dancing) are good for women’s health in general and especially for your heart, says Sabrena Merrill, MS, of Lawrence, Kan., a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and a spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise.

3: Avoid risky habits. Stay away from cigarettes and people who smoke. Don’t use drugs. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Most women’s health studies show that women can safely consume one drink a day. A drink is considered to be about 12 to 14 grams of alcohol, which is equal to 12 ounces of beer (4.5 percent alcohol); 5 ounces of wine (12.9 percent alcohol); or 1.5 ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey, 80-proof).

4: Manage stress. No matter what stage of her life — daughter, mother, grandmother — a woman often wears many hats and deals with a lot of pressure and stress. “Take a few minutes every day just to relax and get your perspective back again,” Novey says. “It doesn’t take long, and mental health is important to your physical well-being.” You also can manage stress with exercise, relaxation techniques, or meditation.

5: Sun safely. Excessive exposure to the sun’s harmful rays can cause skin cancer, which can be deadly. To protect against skin cancer, wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 if you are going to be outdoors for more than a few minutes. Even if you wear sunscreen faithfully, you should check regularly for signs of skin cancer. Warning signs include any changes in the size, shape, color, or feel of birthmarks, moles, or freckles, or new, enlarging, pigmented, or red skin areas. If you spot any changes or you find you have sores that are not healing, consult your doctor.

6: Check for breast cancer. The American Cancer Society no longer recommends monthly breast self-exams for women. However, it still suggests them as “an option” for women, starting in their 20s. You should be on the lookout for any changes in your breasts and report any concerns to your doctor. All women 40 and older should get a yearly mammogram as a mammogram is the most effective way of detecting cancer in its earliest stages, when it is most treatable.

A woman’s health needs change as she ages, but the basics of women’s health remain the same. If you follow these six simple healthy living tips, you will improve your quality of life for years to come.

Indian scientists develop Hepatitis C vaccine

Bengaluru: A group of Indian scientists has developed a vaccine meant to treat Hepatitis C, a virus or infection that causes liver disease and inflammation of the liver.

According to the report in Times of India, the team from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, has developed a vaccine for HCV genotype 3a.

The scientists said the vaccine has shown promising results in preclinical studies and is customised for the Indian population.

It is said that several preclinical trials of virus-like particle (VLP)-based vaccine strategies are in progress throughout the world.

But in the present study, Professor Saumitra Das and his team generated gt3a hepatitis C virus-like particles (HCV-LP). According to the scientists, the vaccine they have created is a “molecular cocktail of virus-like particles that mimics HCV along with a bio-engineered adenovirus vector (viral vectors are tools commonly used by molecular biologists to deliver genetic material into cells), encoding the core and envelope proteins of HCV”.

The researchers then inserted those genes of HCV into the adenovirus vector so that it would provoke the immune system to produce neutralising antibodies against the hepatitis C virus, sates the report.

The Hepatitis C virus is spread through direct contact with infected blood. And among the many strains of the virus, HCV genotype 3a (gt3a) is the predominant strain found in the Indian sub-continent.

The discovery may come as a huge relief to patients and the the country as a whole that has about 12 million people suffering from chronic Hepatitis C.

The research, funded by the Indo-Australian Biotechnology Fund (IABF), department of biotechnology, Government of India, has been published in the journal ‘Vaccine’.

1 hookah session has 25 times more tar than a cigarette

There’s a common misconception that hookahs aren’t very dangerous. A recent Rutgers University study revealed that 24 percent of both smokers and nonsmokers under age 25 believe hookahs— shared pipes that allow users to inhale tobacco smoke that’s been passed through a water basin—are safer than cigarettes. But according to a new study from the journal Public Health Reports, this is an even bigger myth than thought.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that one hookah session produces 2.5 times more nicotine, 10 times more carbon monoxide, 25 times more tar, and 125 times more smoke than a single cigarette.

To get their results, the team analyzed the results of 17 studies looking at the toxins inhaled through each type of tobacco product.

REUTERS/Susana Vera

“It’s not a perfect comparison because people smoke cigarettes and hookahs in very different ways,” lead author Dr. Brian A. Primack, PhD, explained in a press release about the study. For example, cigarette smokers might smoke upwards of 20 cigarettes a day, whereas even frequent hookah smokers may engage in far fewer sessions throughout the same time period.

“We had to conduct the analysis this way—comparing a single hookah session to a single cigarette—because that’s the way the underlying studies tend to report findings. So, the estimates we found cannot tell us exactly what is ‘worse,'” he added. “But what they do suggest is that hookah smokers are exposed to a lot more toxicants than they probably realize.”

What makes this even more troubling is that while smoking rates among U.S. adults recently dipped to a new low of just 14.9 percent, hookah and e-cigarette use is way up. According to the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey, hookah use actually doubled between 2011 and 2014—even as teen cigarette use dropped from 16 percent to 9 percent.