Friday, 23 May 2014

Maintaining steady blood sugar reduces those extra pounds

Maintaining stable blood sugar levels has big implications for good health. Blood sugar alterations can cause mood swings, energy dips, fatigue, irritability, headaches, cravings for carbohydrates or coffee, lightheadedness, a shaky feeling if you skip a meal or the feeling that you need a nap after eating.

If you suffer from any of these symptoms, you might want to think about blood sugar and how much better you can feel when you avoid the highs and lows.

The fix for all of these symptoms is blood sugar regulation. Many hormones come into play, such as insulin. After eating a meal containing carbohydrate, our bodies break the this down into simple sugars that are then carried in the bloodstream. The pancreas responds by secreting insulin. Insulin's job is to travel through the bloodstream seeking sugar and transport it into cells for storage in the form of glucose. Glucose levels in the blood then come back down to the proper level.

When blood glucose is chronically high, damage can occur to the liver, pancreas, kidney, blood vessels, brain and nerves. Keeping blood sugars at a reasonable level is important for overall health.

The body's first choice when it goes to store sugar is to put it in the liver and the muscles. The problem arises when these storage sites become full. The body then needs to find another place to put it, storing sugar in the form of triglycerides. Some of the triglycerides remain in the blood, and some get stored as body fat.

The body uses carbohydrates for fuel first. If you eat a steady supply of food rich in carbohydrate, they are readily available to the body, and it doesn't have to take this out of storage when it needs some energy. You never get to tap into the fuel supply stored in the fat cells, so it remains on your body as fat.

Your body is not receiving adequate nutrition from a high-carbohydrate diet, so your body sends you a message to keep eating. What it really needs is the nutrition stored in vegetables and protein sources like meat, dairy and eggs. But if you keep feeding your body with carbohydrate when you feel hungry, you keep experiencing the energy peaks and valleys and lose an opportunity for better nutrition from foods that have more to offer. Also, you can't lose weight until you force your body into fat-burning mode by shifting to a diet that isn't so reliant on carbohydrates.

Should Mark Zuckerberg allow blood donation status on Facebook?

Facebook has emerged not just as a social media tool but something that makes our world go around. It has the potential to change the world with over 1.28 billion active users and that’s why is asking Facebook to add blood donation status on people’s profile pages. There is almost always a shortage of blood in both developing and developed countries. This is a fact and the situation has been this way for quite some time despite so many people willing to donate blood.

A petition has been started by, an Indian company which uses Facebook to help people fight blood donors. was started by 24-year-old Karthik Naralasetty after he was moved by the plight of a four-year-old girl who was suffering from thalassemia. He had told us earlier in an exclusive interview: ‘SocialBlood plugs into the Facebook for the obvious reasons of having everyone in one place. On syncing with the service, the user adds information like the city they are available in, geofence (for notifications for blood request), blood type and if they can donate blood. Then it pulls up list of connections that are already using the service. The interface is fairly simple to use, the filters on the top bar help to narrow down on blood request and donors available for a particular blood type. The map pulls up that information with markings on the location and a legend is available for the assistance of first time users.

The beauty of a social platform like this is the fact that, it helps democratize and populate the system with the known network. We can scan the network for blood relations (known people with the same blood type as ours) and invite members which can be extremely useful during the time of distress. The user can also make a blood request using a quick form asking critical questions. The user adds information like what component (red blood cells, plasma or whole blood) along with type is required and adding other details like the number of units required, the date of requirement and hospital name.

Many people require blood from accident victims to people suffering from rare blood disorders. It’s important to ensure that these people get blood that is free from HIV, hepatitis viruses and other infections which can be transmitted through unsafe transfusion. In high-income countries, transfusion is most commonly used to support advanced medical treatment and complex surgeries like open-heart surgery and advance trauma care. In low- and middle-income countries it is used often for management of pregnancy-related complications, childhood malaria complicated by severe anemia and trauma-related injuries.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Depression is detectable in the blood!

Researchers at the MedUni Vienna have demonstrated the possibility of using a blood test to detect depression. While blood tests for mental illnesses have until recently been regarded as impossible, a recent study clearly indicates that, in principle, depression can in fact be diagnosed in this way and this could become reality in the not too distant future.

Serotonin transporter (SERT) is a protein in the cell membrane that facilitates the transport of the neurotransmitter serotonin (popularly known as the "happiness hormone") into the cell. In the brain, serotonin transporter regulates neural depression networks. Depressive conditions can frequently be caused by a lack of serotonin. As a result, the serotonin transporter is also the point of action for the major antidepressant drugs.

The serotonin transporter, however, also occurs in large quantities in numerous other organs such as the intestines or blood. Recent studies have shown that the serotonin transporter in the blood works in exactly the same way as in the brain. In the blood, it ensures that blood platelets maintain the appropriate concentration of serotonin in the blood plasma.

Researchers at the MedUni Vienna have now used functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and pharmacological investigations to demonstrate that there is a close relationship between the speed of the serotonin uptake in blood platelets and the function of a depression network in the brain.

This network is termed the "default mode network" because it is primarily active at rest and processes content with strong self-reference. Findings from recent years have also demonstrated that it is actively suppressed during complex thought processes, which is essential for adequate levels of concentration. Interestingly, patients with depression find it difficult to suppress this network during thought processes, leading to negative thoughts and ruminations as well as poor concentration.

This is the first study that has been able to predict the activity of a major depression network in the brain using a blood test. While blood tests for mental illnesses have until recently been regarded as impossible, this study clearly shows that a blood test is possible in principle for diagnosing depression and could become reality in the not too distant future. This result means that the diagnosis of depression through blood tests could become reality in the not too distant future.