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Compound in carrots boosts brain health

A plant compound found in carrots, peppers, celery, olive oil, peppermint, rosemary and chamomile helps reduce age-related inflammation in the brain and memory deficits, according to a new study conducted in mice.

The compound luteolin reduces age-related inflammation in the brain and related memory deficits by directly inhibiting the release of inflammatory molecules in the brain, researchers report.

The researchers focused on microglial cells, specialised immune cells that reside in the brain and spinal cord. Infections stimulate microglia to produce signaling molecules, called cytokines, which spur a cascade of chemical changes in the brain.

Some of these signaling molecules, the inflammatory cytokines, induce ‘sickness behaviour’: the sleepiness, loss of appetite, memory deficits and depressive behaviours that often accompany illness.

Inflammation in the brain also appears to be a key contributor to age-related memory problems, said University of Illinois animal sciences professor Rodney Johnson, who led the new study. Johnson directs the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Illinois.

Now, 3D body scanner to tell you if you’re overweight

Tape measures and scales may soon become a thing of the past, as they would be replaced with a 3D body scanner.

The body volume index (BVI) takes a ‘photocopy’ of a patient’s body in just six seconds. The seven-foot booth has 16 sensors and 32 cameras and analyses a person’s body fat distribution section by section.

It takes into account weight, height, shape, age, sex and medical history to more accurately measure risk to health.

British company Select Research in Worcester has developed it. So far they have scanned more than 2,000 men and women during trials.

However, some doctors say the new system is too expensive and a person’s abdominal fat content could be worked out just as effectively with a tape measure.

Despite this, the creators said it would give a far more accurate measurement of a person’s obesity levels compared to the standard body mass index (BMI).

“Most people in the world realise that carrying extra weight around the stomach means that they do have a greater health risk, commonly known in healthcare as central obesity,” said Richard Barnes of Select Research.

Mystery of arsenic compound solved

Scientists from Johns Hopkins, Baylor and Stanford have discovered why an arsenic compound, called arsenite, can kill us, and yet function as an effective therapeutic agent against disease and infections.

The researchers have found that arsenite, a common water contaminant in many parts of the world, affects a special protein folding machine in yeast, called TCP, also present in humans.

This information not only opens the doors to developing safer therapeutic alternatives to arsenite-based medicines, but it may allow researchers counter the negative effects of arsenite poisoning.

“By better understanding arsenite, we might be able to protect humans from its hazards in the future,” said Jef D Boeke, co-author of the study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

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