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Knowledge Update

Here's why you should eat more Pasta

​New York, Feb 7 (IANS) People who regularly eat pasta -- the fundamental component of Italian Mediterranean cuisine -- may have better diet quality, greater intake of vitamin and minerals and can better manage blood sugar levels, compared to those who do not eat pasta, new research shows. Pasta is a low-sodium and cholesterol-free food with a low glycemic index -- foods that keep blood sugar levels in control. "The study shows that pasta eaters have better quality diets than those who don't eat pasta," said Diane Welland, dietitian and Nutrition Communications Manager for the National Pasta Association -- a US based organisation. The findings showed that pasta eaters had a greater intake of nutrients and minerals that most people lack in their diets such as folate -- that helps the body form red blood cells and reduces the risk of defects during foetal growth --; iron -- used to carry oxygen in the blood and aids in reducing anemia --; magnesium -- a mineral used in building bones and releasing energy from muscles -- and dietary fiber -- which helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and lower risk of heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. In addition, eating pasta also led to less intake of saturated fat -- which can help lower the level of cholesterol in your blood to decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke -- and less added sugar -- like sucrose and high fructose corn syrup that contain a whole bunch of calories with no essential nutrients. "Pasta can be an effective building block for good nutrition, as it serves as a perfect delivery system for fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish and legumes," Welland added. For the study, presented at The Obesity Society's annual meeting in New Orleans, the team conducted a survey to examine the associations between pasta consumption, shortfall nutrient intakes as defined by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines (2015 DG) and diet quality in comparison to non-pasta consumption in the US adults.

Share multi-photo album on Instagram soon

New York, Feb 2 (IANS) If you feel constrained to share multiple photos on Instagram, a new feature will soon make your vacation look beautiful in a single album. According to a report in Droid Life on Thursday, Instagram is testing a new feature, now in beta stage, that lets users share multiple photos as a gallery. Only advertisers are able to share the gallery currently which users can swipe through horizontally, but the beta release of Instagram may make its way to all 600 million users soon. "Users can select up to 10 photos from their galley, slap on filters to each photo they choose, then upload the photos as an album to your timeline. From your followers' perspective, they will see the album and can then slide through the various shots, liking photos as they go," the report noted. However, beta users are currently not able to post the album on their timelines.

Acupuncture can help reduce chronic pain, depression

​London, Jan 31 (IANS) Acupuncture treatment can boost the effectiveness of standard medical care, reducing the severity of chronic pain and depression, new research has found. The research showed that acupuncture provides more than a placebo effect. "Our new data provides a significant step forward in treating chronic pain and managing depression, because patients and health professionals can now make decisions on acupuncture with more confidence," said Hugh MacPherson, Professor of Acupuncture Research at University of York in Britain. "Not only is it more cost effective, but it reduces pain levels and improves mood levels, which could reduce over reliance on drugs that can sometimes result in unwanted side effects," MacPherson noted. The finding, published in the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Journals Library, is based on results of 29 clinical trials focused on patients treated with acupuncture and standard medical care. In the majority of these trials, patients with chronic pain treated with acupuncture and standard medical care were tested against those who were provided with standard medical care alone, such as anti-inflammatory drugs and physiotherapy. The trials involved approximately 18,000 patients diagnosed with chronic pain of the neck, lower back, head, and knee. The report showed that the addition of acupuncture compared to standard medical care alone significantly reduced the number of headaches and migraine attacks and reduced the severity of neck and lower back pain. It also showed that acupuncture reduced the pain and disability of osteoarthritis, which led to patients being less reliant on anti-inflammatory tablets to control pain. The team also conducted a new clinical trial for depression, where acupuncture or counselling was provided and compared to the effectiveness of medication, such as antidepressants. In a study of 755 patients with depression in the North of England, researchers showed that both acupuncture and counselling significantly reduced the severity of depressions and that these benefits were largely sustained for up to 12 months after treatment.

People with Type 1 diabetes need to exercise safely

​Toronto, Jan 29 (IANS) Maintaining good exercise regimen may be difficult and risky, especially for people with Type 1 diabetes, because exercise tends to cause fluctuations in blood sugar, which may even become dangerous, researchers warned. Patients with Type 1 diabetes have to monitor their blood glucose levels before, during and after exercise, said Michael Riddell, Professor at York University in Ontario, Canada. Regular exercise can help individuals with diabetes to achieve their blood lipid, body composition, fitness and blood sugar goals. However, for people living with Type 1 diabetes, the fear of hypoglycemia, loss of glycemic control, and inadequate knowledge around exercise management are major barriers, Riddell said. In the study, published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, a team of 21 international experts brought out a set of guidelines on glucose targets for safe and effective exercising as well as nutritional and insulin dose adjustments to prevent exercise-related fluctuations in blood sugar. Diabetic patients should maintain a healthy body weight nor do they achieve the minimum required moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity of150 minutes per week. In paediatric patients, exercise reduces the cardiovascular disease risk profile, improves the sense of well-being and brings down average blood glucose levels, whereas in adults, being physically active may decrease the risk of both diabetic eye disease and kidney disease. They also have a better chance of achieving target levels of glycated hemoglobin levels, blood pressure levels and a healthier body mass index (BMI) when compared to inactive patients, Riddell said. The results showed that aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging or light cycling are associated with reductions in glycemia while anaerobic exercise like sprinting, heavy weight-lifting, and interval sports like hockey are known to temporarily increase glucose levels. Hence, a clear understanding of the physiology of different forms of exercise and the changes that can influence glycemia during exercise may ensure safe and diabetes control, the researchers noted.

Mediterranean diet may help treat HIV, diabetes patients

​New York, Jan 26 (IANS) Consuming a Mediterranean diet -- rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, high on healthy fats like olive oil and low in refined sugars and saturated fats -- may provide a good nutritious balance that can improve medication adherence and mental health in patients with HIV-positive and Type 2 diabetes, researchers suggest. People who received healthy food and snacks for six months showed dramatic improvements in depression, the distress of having diabetes, diabetes self-management, trading off between food and healthcare and HIV medication adherence. People with diabetes who ate the nutritious food showed better long-term control of their blood sugar, reduced hospitalisations or emergency department visits. They also consumed less sugar and lost weight. "We saw significant improvements in food security and in outcomes related to all three mechanisms through which we posited that food insecurity may affect HIV and diabetes health -- nutritional, mental health and behavioural," said Kartika Palar, Assistant Professor at University of California - San Francisco (UCSF), US. The Mediterranean diet fulfilled 100 per cent of daily caloric requirements for people living with HIV and Type 2 diabetes. The patients also had fewer symptoms of depression and were less likely to binge drink. For those with HIV, adherence to antiretroviral therapy increased from 47 to 70 per cent. The study appeared online in the Journal of Urban Health.

Know how to get good sleep

​New York, Jan 24 (IANS) People who fall asleep within 30 minutes or less and wake up no more than once at night qualify for several health benefits associated with good sleep, researchers have suggested. Sleeping more time while in bed (at least 85 per cent of the total time) and being awake for 20 minutes or less after initially falling asleep are other key determinants of good quality sleep issued by the US non-profit National Sleep Foundation (NSF). The researchers used at-home sleep technology devices -- gadgets worn throughout sleep or placed on the bed stand -- to analyse the amount of deep and light sleep people get each night, how frequently one wakes up and the length of tossing and turning on the bed. "Millions of Americans are sleep technology users. These devices provide a glimpse into one's sleep universe, which is otherwise unknown and provide consumers with the resources needed to understand their sleep," said Max Hirshkowitz, Chairman at NSF. According to NSF's recent Sleep Health Index, as many as 27 per cent of people take longer than 30 minutes, on average, to fall asleep. Sleep deprivation may result in impairment of judgement, depression, heart problems, obesity and drastic reduction in general well-being of an individual. The report, published in the journal Sleep Health, also highlights areas where research is needed to identify and further delineate additional indicators of good sleep quality across age groups.

One-third of people communicate less face-to-face: Study

​London, Jan 23 (IANS) With social media substituting real-life communication, one-third of people communicate less face-to-face with their loved ones, a key factor for damaging relationships, a study has found. The findings showed that a significant third of people communicate less with their parents (31 per cent), children (33 per cent), partners (23 per cent) and friends (35 per cent) because they can see and communicate with them via social media. "Digital communication is an opportunity to bridge the gaps in our modern lives caused by living in different cities or countries. However, it cannot replace face-to-face communication -- at least not always and not completely," said Astrid Carolus, media psychologist at the University of Wurzburg in Germany. Although social media can help ease communication channels and bridge time zones and distance barriers, it does not always make people happy. It can strain relationships as well as leaving people feeling down and upset, as they constantly compare their lives to those of others. The hunt for "likes" and social validation leads people to share increasing amounts of private information on social media platforms, putting not only themselves but also their friends, family and colleagues at risk. Further, 21 per cent of parents admitted that relationships with their children have been damaged as a result of them being seen in a compromising situation on social media. In contrast, only 14 per cent of parents said they were annoyed by their children's online behaviour. In addition, around one-in-five (16 per cent) people also said that their relationship with their spouse or partner has been damaged as a result of them being seen in a compromising situation on social media. However, many people believe that the quality of their relationships does not suffer at all and is even better as a result of being connected with their loved ones online. "Under certain circumstances they perceive their online communication as "hyper-personal communication" and thus they can misread and over-interpret the messages on social media. We feel especially close, we blind out the rather negative, focus on the possible positive intentions behind a message and over-interpret," Carolus noted.

Facebook can make us isolated, narrow-minded

​London, Jan 23 (IANS) While using Facebook do you tend to seek people or groups that match your opinions? If so, you may tend to become isolated and more narrow-minded, a study has revealed. With most people seeking out only the news and views that tally with their own opinions, the social media networking site may be inadvertently helping people to stick to and strengthen their belief, creating an "echo chamber" where controversial theories, biased views and selective news are often repeated, unchallenged and accepted as fact. "So instead of sharing to challenge or inform, social media users are more likely to share an idea already commonly accepted in their social groups for the purpose of reinforcement or agreement," CNN reported on Monday, quoting Alessandro Bessi of University of Southern California. This leads to the misinformation or fake news to spread unchecked. "Indeed, we found that conspiracy-like claims spread only inside the echo chambers of users that usually support alternative sources of information and distrust official and mainstream news," Bessi added. The study found that anything that conforms to our ideas, we tend to like and share it, leading to reckless sharing sometimes as we share something without really examining the content. This may explain how certain phenomena, leads to proliferation of biased narratives fomented by unsubstantiated rumours, mistrust, and paranoia, researchers noted. The problem of unreliable information going "viral" online had become so serious it was classed of one of the biggest social threats by the World Economic Forum, the researchers stated, in the paper published in the journal PNAS.

How being playful can help you live better

​London, Jan 15 (IANS) If you think playfulness is associated only with childhood, you may be wrong. A new study suggests that playfulness in adults is a positive trait which may help them to see things from new perspectives, turn monotonous tasks into something interesting as well as help them when choosing partners and in romantic relationships. The study showed that playful people are able to reinterpret situations in their lives so that they experience them as entertaining or are able to reduce stress levels. People who describe themselves as playful are also viewed by others as such. Playfulness should not be equated with humour. Instead we need a new vocabulary to describe it, said Rene Proyer from Martin Luther University (MLU) in Halle-Wittenberg, Germany. "Playfulness is an independent personality trait that shares certain aspects with five global dimensions -- including extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness to experience and emotional stability that are frequently used to describe personality -- but which cannot be interchanged," Proyer explained. In the study, the researchers identified four basic types of playful adults. "There are people who like to fool around with friends and acquaintances. We describe this as other-directed playfulness. By contrast, light-heartedly playful people regard their whole life as a type of game," Proyer said. Another category includes people who like to play with thoughts and ideas -- this describes intellectual playfulness. These people are able to turn monotonous tasks into something interesting. The psychologist describes the final group as being whimsically playful. "These people tend to be interested in strange and unusual things and are amused by small day-to-day observations." Conversely, playfulness in adults has also been associated with negative connotations. Playful people are sometimes not taken seriously or are seen as unreliable, as they may easily change perspectives to find unusual and novel solutions, to complex problems. The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

20-minute exercise is all you need to be fit

New York, Jan 15 (IANS) If you can spare 20 minutes everyday for moderate exercise, it will stimulate your immune system and make you less prone to diseases like arthritis and fibromyalgia, a new research has found. Scientists at the University of California (UC) in San Diego found one session of moderate exercise can act as an anti-inflammatory. "Our study found one session of about 20 minutes of moderate treadmill exercise resulted in a five per cent decrease in the number of stimulated immune cells producing TNF," said Suzi Hong from UC. Scientists noted that during exercise, the brain and sympathetic nervous system are activated, enabling the body to carry out work while the hormones that are released into the blood stream trigger adrenergic receptors, which immune cells possess. According to the researchers, exercises do not have to be intense to have anti-inflammatory effects, but a moderate session would suffice. "Patients with chronic inflammatory diseases should always consult with their physician regarding the appropriate treatment plan, but knowing that exercise can act as an anti-inflammatory is an exciting step forward in possibilities," Hong noted in a study published in Brain, Behaviour and Immunity.