What's the buzz..

What's the buzz..

How we sense food texture

“Differences in starch perception likely affect people’s nutritional status by influencing their liking for and intake of starchy and starch-thickened foods,” said lead author Abigail Mandel.

Amylase enzymes secreted in saliva help break down starches into simpler sugar molecules that ultimately are absorbed into the bloodstream and thus influence blood glucose levels. The study revealed that changes of starch consistency in the mouth were directly related to salivary amylase activity.

Enzyme levels and activity were measured in several ways, using saliva collected from 73 subjects. The study went on to demonstrate a genetic influence on salivary amylase activity.

Behavioural therapy helps seniors with insomnia

A brief behavioural therapy, consisting of two in-person sessions and two phone calls, could improve sleep in older adults with insomnia, according to a new study.

Daniel J Buysse of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and colleagues conducted a randomised clinical trial of a brief behavioural treatment involving 79 elder adults, with an average age of about 72, with insomnia.

The 39 patients in the treatment group received four sessions of individualised behavioural counselling from a nurse clinician. Two sessions were conducted in person and two by phone.

The other 40 in the information control group received only general printed educational material about insomnia and sleep habits.

Based on questionnaires and sleep diaries, the researchers found that more patients in the behavioural treatment group responded favourably to the treatment by the end of four weeks (67 per cent versus 25 per cent) or no longer had insomnia (55 per cent versus 13 per cent).

They said that the results suggested that for every 2.4 patients treated with the counselling therapy, one would respond favourably and one would no longer have insomnia.

Unexpected find may lead to novel ways to stop HIV

New techniques to fight HIV could be on their way, as scientists have found that the virus adapts in a surprising way to survive and thrive in its hiding spot within the human immune system. For more than 15 years, Baek Kim has been fascinated by HIV’s ability to take cover in a cell whose very job is to kill foreign cells.

In the last couple of years, Kim, University of Rochester, has teamed with Emory scientist Raymond F Schinazi to test whether the virus is somehow able to sidestep its usual way of replicating when it’s in the macrophage. The pair found that when HIV faces a shortage of the molecular machinery needed to copy itself within the macrophage, the virus adapts by bypassing one of the molecules it usually uses and instead tapping another molecule that is available.

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