What's the buzz

What's the buzz

Making the immune system hyperactive

Severe sleep loss jolts the immune system into hyperactivity, producing the same response as thrown up by exposure to stress, says a study.

Researchers in the Netherlands and UK compared the white blood cell counts of 15 healthy young men under normal and severely sleep-deprived conditions.The greatest changes were seen in the white blood cells known as granulocytes, which showed a loss of day-night rhythmicity, along with increased numbers, particularly at night."The granulocytes reacted immediately to the physical stress of sleep loss and directly mirrored the body's stress response," said Katrin Ackermann, postdoctoral researcher at the Eramus MC University Medical Centre Rotterdam, the Netherlands."Future research will reveal the molecular mechanisms behind this immediate stress response and elucidate its role in the development of diseases associated with chronic sleep loss," said Ackermann, who led the study, according to an Eramus statement.

Previous studies have linked sleep restriction and sleep deprivation with the development of obesity, diabetes and hypertension.Others have shown that sleep helps sustain the functioning of the immune system, and that chronic sleep loss is a risk factor for immune system impairment.

Fat people have good chances of surviving heart attacks

Fat people have a better chance of surviving heart attacks than the skinny ones and obese people are more likely to cheat death and avoid the need for a heart transplant or cardiac treatment, a new study has claimed.

Experts at the University of California in Los Angeles have found that people with a high body mass index and a large belly circumference were at significantly less risk of dying."Heart failure may prove to be one of the few health conditions where extra weight may prove to be protective," Research leader Dr Tamara Horwich said.

The findings of the study will be published in this month's American Journal of Cardiology, The Sun reported.Researchers studied 2,718 heart failure patients over two years and found that men with a wider waist than 40 inches and women having a waist wider than 37 inches were more likely to cheat death, avoid the need for a heart transplant or other cardiac treatment.

The researchers say a normal Body Mass Index (BMI) gives a 34 per cent higher risk in men and 38 per cent higher risk in women. Women with a higher BMI also had better outcomes than their normal-weight counterparts."We knew that obesity might provide a protective benefit for heart failure patients." Professor Horwich said."But we didn't know whether this obesity paradox applied specifically to women with heart failure, as well as men — and it does," he said.According to the scientist, being skinny is traditionally associated with a poorer prognosis but obese patients seek treatment at an earlier stage due to increased symptoms and functional impairment caused by excess body weight.This means they get diagnosed sooner, and immediate treatment can lead to better outcomes.

Organic tomatoes have much higher antioxidant levels

When it comes to antioxidant levels, organic tomatoes have been shown to grind conventionally grown tomatoes to a pulp.

That's the conclusion of a Spanish study published in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry which found that organic tomatoes work harder for consumers as they contain higher levels of phenolic compounds, plant-based compounds that are known to carry a host of health benefits.

After analysing a species of tomatoes called Daniela, scientists from the University of Barcelona identified 34 different phenolic compounds, levels of which were higher in organically grown tomatoes compared to conventionally grown plants.

Scientists explain that when tomatoes are grown without the use of fertilisers and pesticides, plants are forced to respond by activating their own defense mechanisms which increases levels of all antioxidants.

"The more stress plants suffer, the more polyphenols they produce," explains study co-author Rosa M. Lamuela.

Meanwhile, the jury is still out when it comes to the health benefits of organic produce versus conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. For example, a 2010 study published in the same journal found that organically grown onions, carrots and potatoes contained about the same levels of antioxidants compared to traditionally raised crops using pesticides and fertilisers.

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