The Uncommon Cold

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  Because it infects adults between two and four times per year, the guilty virus has earned its name as the common cold. What to do? Decongestants and antihistamines may relieve its miserable symptoms including fever, sore throat and stuffy noses.  Zinc and vitamin C have shown some benefit. Of course, antibacterials are useless because colds are caused by viruses, … Read More

After You, Doctor

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For some scientists, the easiest and often best research subjects are those closest. Textbooks are full of lively examples which have led to great discovery. Take the polio vaccine which has eradicated the deadly disease from most countries in the world: Almost two decades before Jonas Salk announced his breakthrough, a research assistant at New York University, Maurice Brodie concocted … Read More

Fermentation in Filipino Foods

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Filipino cuisine offers a delightful menu of fermented dishes, each one as different as the region of the country from which it comes. Fermentation extends the shelf-life of food in this country of nearly 100 million people many of whom live in poverty. But rich they are in probiotic taste treats. A recent paper—access the PDF here—from researchers at the … Read More

Probiotics May Fight Tooth Decay

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  One thing stands out when watching an old movie. Very few actors had perfect teeth. Today most young people in developed countries look as though they just stepped out of Photoshop. Orthodontics of course are widespread. But there is one other thing that is drastically different. Fluoride. This mineral which is added to water supplies—most often in the United … Read More

Probiotics May Change Your Drug Dose

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  Medications affect different people in different ways. Now scientists think that gut microbes and enzymes may be one reason. This review explores mechanisms including biotransformation, bioactivation, and biodegradation as well as up- or down-regulation of the epithelial transporters. These reactions may lead to overdosing or underdosing. Read more about this new thinking here in Current Issues in Molecular Biology. … Read More

Probiotics in Chronic Stress

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Probiotics have been shown to reduce the ill effects of chronic stress on intestinal function. Researchers from the Netherlands wondered if mast cells played a part. In recently published work with rats, they were able to see protective effects of probiotics when mast cells were present.        

Kiwi: The Beauty Inside

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Kiwifruit turns up everywhere these days. Once considered an exotic fruit, this furry brown nugget with brilliant and juicy green flesh dresses many a fruit salad across the globe. No wonder its scientific name is Actinidia deliciosa. It is often called just kiwi but that more accurately describes a flightless bird of New Zealand as well as the self-chosen nickname … Read More

Skinny Genes

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Fecal microbiota from adult human twins–one obese and one not–were transplanted into germ-free mice fed low-fat mouse chow or diets representing typical U.S. menus. The obese phenotype was transmitted. And notably, mice with the lean twin’s microbiota prevented the increased body mass in cagemates harboring an obese twin’s microbiota. The diet changed the outcome. Read more of this fascinating result … Read More

Probiotics May Soothe Arthritis

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder in which immune and inflammatory response causes pain along with cartilage and bone degradation; it can lead to significant disability and compromises quality of life. People with RA often suffer from gastrointestinal disturbances: bloating, gastric pain, nausea and constipation and diarrhea. And interestingly, they have microbiota that differ from healthy patients. Fewer Bifidobacterium … Read More

Staying Safe in the Scrum

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  Getting sick is no fun for anyone, but elite athletes fear it most. Researchers in New Zealand gave 30 rugby players either probiotics or placebo over a four week period and then reversed it. Results were impressive: only six on placebo went without a single infection (respiratory or gastrointestinal) while more than twice as many–14– stayed healthy on probiotics … Read More