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what's the buzz

Why Tibetans thrive at high altitudes

Researchers from the University of Utah School of Medicine and Qinghai University Medical School in China claim to have found an answer to why the people of the Tibetan Highlands can live at elevations that cause some humans to become life-threateningly ill.

In the new study, boffins answer the mystery, in part, by showing that through thousands of years of natural selection, those hardy inhabitants of south-central Asia evolved 10 unique oxygen-processing genes that help them live in higher climes.
Researchers said thousands of years ago, Tibetan highlanders began to genetically adapt to prevent polycythemia (a process in which the body produces too many red blood cells in response to oxygen deprivation), as well as other health abnormalities such as swelling of the lungs and brain (edema) and hypertension of the lung vessels leading to eventual respiratory failure.

Even at elevations of 14,000 feet above sea level or higher, where the atmosphere contains much less oxygen than at sea level, most Tibetans do not overproduce red blood cells and do not develop lung or brain complications.

Most breastfeeding mothers do not follow a proper diet

About 94 per cent of breastfeeding mothers do not follow a proper diet, according to a University of Granada study.

The study revealed that 94 per cent of nursing mothers did not follow a proper diet, as they did not consume the recommended diary intake of fat, vitamins A, E and iron, and the intake of proteins was too high. The results obtained will serve to enhance breastfeeding mothers’ diet and increase nutritional supply to the newborn.

This study was conducted by Jose Luis Gómez Llorente, University of Granada, and coordinated by professor Cristina Campoy Folgoso.

To conduct the study, the researcher collected 100 milk samples from 34 breastfeeding mothers from the provinces of Granada and Almeria. The selected mothers were given a questionnaire on their dietary intake for a period corresponding to the 3 days before the sample taking. The aim was to compare their dietary intake with the recommended diary reference intake, in order to detect deficiencies and enhance babies’ intake of nutrients.

Proper calcium intake key to lifelong bone health

A new study has revealed that not only is calcium required for strong and healthy bones, it could also play a vital role in determining bone health for life. The research from North Carolina State University conducted an 18-day trial involving 24 newborn pigs, half of which were fed a calcium deficient diet, and the other half, calcium rich diet.

They found that the bone densities in the pigs that were fed the calcium-deficient diet were lower as compared to that of the other half. Moreover, certain stem cells in bone marrow, in the calcium-deficient piglets appeared to have already been programmed to become fat cells instead of bone-forming cells.

However, blood tests didn’t indicate any difference in levels of the hormonal form of vitamin D, which regulates the amount of calcium circulating in blood of older children and adults.

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