This Geriatrician Says To Do These 5 Things To Live Longer

LinkedIn

A healthful diet can reduce risk for disease and increase longevity

Good nutrition plays an important role in how well you age. Eating a healthful diet helps keep your body strong and can help reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke and osteoporosis.Studies even show a link between healthful eating and longevity.

“As we age, the body becomes less efficient at absorbing some key nutrients. Appetite and taste can suffer from loss of sense of smell and taste or from side effects of medications. Bad teeth can make some foods difficult to chew or digest,” said Arthur Hayward, MD, a geriatrician and the clinical lead physician for elder care with Kaiser Permanente’s Care Management Institute. “So choosing foods carefully is smart.”

Here are five tips to help you get the nutrition your body needs:

  1. Avoid empty calories.

Foods with empty calories may contain very few vitamins and minerals. “Convenience foods,” such as packaged snacks, chips and sodas, are common sources of empty calories. Avoid the “bad” carbs—foods that have white flour, refined sugar and white rice.

  1. Choose nutrient-rich foods.

Eat a variety of foods. The more you vary the foods you eat, the more vitamins, minerals and other nutrients you get. For example:

* Eat lots of fruits and vegetables—Choose fresh, frozen or no-salt canned vegetables and fruits in their own juice or light syrup.

* Eat foods with protein—Protein is found in lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs and cheese, cooked beans, peanut butter and nuts and seeds.

* Get enough calcium and vitamin D—Calcium and vitamin D are found in milk and milk products, including yogurt and cheese. They are also in green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens) and tofu.

* Include foods high in vitamin B12—After 50, the body produces less gastric acid and absorbs less B12, which helps keep blood and nerves vital. B12 is found in milk, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.

* Eat high-fiber foods—This includes fruits, vegetables, cooked dried beans, and whole grains.

  1. Drink plenty of fluids.

Drink plenty of fluids—enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water. Fiber and fluids help with constipation.

  1. If your appetite is poor, eat smaller meals.

Try eating smaller meals, several times a day, instead of one or two large meals. Eating while socializing with others may help your appetite. You might also ask about changing medicines. Medication can cause appetite or taste problems.

  1. Eat soft foods.

As we approach our senior years, chewing food is sometimes difficult. Choose low-sodium canned vegetables or cooked fruits and vegetables. These are often softer. Chop or shred meat, poultry or fish. Add sauce or gravy to the meat to help keep it moist.

For healthy recipe ideas, check out Kaiser Permanente’s Food for Health blog at https://foodforhealth.kaiserpermanente.org.

In addition to eating a balanced diet, aim for 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Ten-minute sessions several times a day on most days are fine. For more information, visit kp.org and everybodywalk.org. For questions or advice about a specific condition, talk with your physician.

Source: NewsUSA

Ford Pilots New Exoskeleton Technology to Help Lessen Chance of Worker Fatigue, Injury

LinkedIn
ford auto worker

Putting dishes on a high shelf or changing an overhead lightbulb occasionally might not be difficult, but could you imagine performing either of these tasks 4,600 times per day? How about 1 million times a year?

These are the approximate number of times some Ford assembly line workers lift their arms during overhead work tasks. At this rate, the possibility of fatigue or injury on the body increases significantly. But a new upper body exoskeletal tool – the result of a partnership between Ford and California-based Ekso Bionics – helps lessen the chance of injury.

“My job entails working over my head, so when I get home my back, neck and shoulders usually hurt,” said Paul Collins, an assembly line worker at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant. “Since I started using the vest, I’m not as sore, and I have more energy to play with my grandsons when I get home.”

Called EksoVest, the wearable technology elevates and supports a worker’s arms while performing overhead tasks. It can be fitted to support workers ranging from 5 feet tall to 6 feet 4 inches tall, and provides adjustable lift assistance of five pounds to 15 pounds per arm. It’s comfortable to wear because it’s lightweight, it isn’t bulky, and it allows workers to move their arms freely.

Designed and built for dynamic, real-world environments like factories, construction sites and distribution centers, the non-powered vest offers protection and support against fatigue and injury by reducing the stress and strain of high-frequency, long-duration activities that can take a toll on the body over time.

“Collaboratively working with Ford enabled us to test and refine early prototypes of the EksoVest based on insights directly from their production line workers,” said Russ Angold, co-founder and chief technology officer of Ekso Bionics. “The end result is a wearable tool that reduces the strain on a worker’s body, reducing the likelihood of injury, and helping them feel better at the end of the day – increasing both productivity and morale.”

With support from the United Automobile Workers and Ford, EksoVest is being piloted in two U.S. plants, with plans to test in other regions, including Europe and South America.

“The health and safety of our membership has always been our highest priority,” said UAW-Ford Vice President Jimmy Settles. “With the proven success at the piloted locations, we look forward to expanding this technology to our other UAW-Ford manufacturing facilities.”

EksoVest is the latest example of advanced technology Ford is using to reduce the physical toll on employees during the vehicle assembly process. Between 2005 and 2016, the most recent full year of data, the company saw an 83 percent decrease in the number of incidents that resulted in days away, work restrictions or job transfers – to an all-time low of 1.55 incidents per 100 full-time North American employees.

“Our goal has always been to keep the work environment safe and productive for the hardworking men and women we rely on across the globe,” said Bruce Hettle, Ford group vice president, Manufacturing and Labor Affairs. “Investing in the latest ergonomics research, assembly improvements and lift-assist technologies has helped us design efficient and safe assembly lines, while maintaining high vehicle quality for our customers.”

Continue onto Ford’s Newsroom to read the complete article.

Working, Beating Hearts Will Soon Be 3D-Printed From Patients’ Own Cells

LinkedIn

Heart cells grown in a lab and assembled in the shape of the organ will eventually start beating in unison–and create a heart for a patient that has a higher chance of success in a transplant than one from another human.

Inside a lab that will open in a couple of months in Chicago, a biotech startup will soon begin perfecting the process of 3D-printing human hearts that could eventually be used in transplants.

“What this is set up to do is to make a patient-specific, fully functioning heart that’s viable for transplant, using the patient’s own cells,” says Stephen Morris, founding partner and CEO of the startup, Biolife4D.

The process combines several steps that have been developed by various researchers in university labs. First, a patient’s heart will be scanned using an MRI machine to create a digital image of the heart’s shape and size. Next, doctors will take a blood sample. Using techniques that have been developed over the last decade, the blood cells will be converted into stem cells–and then converted a second time into heart cells. Those new heart cells will be combined with nutrients in a hydrogel to make a “bio-ink” that can be used in a specialized 3D printer.

Printing one layer at a time, with a biodegradable scaffolding to keep everything in place, the cells can be formed into the exact shape of the patient’s original heart. The new heart will be moved to a bioreactor to strengthen it. Amazingly, new heart cells outside a body will begin to self-assemble.

“When we’re done ‘bioprinting,’ we have something that looks like a heart, but it’s just individual cells in proper places,” says Morris. “Within a couple of days, the cells just know . . . ‘I’m a heart cell, you’re a heart cell, we’re supposed to join together and start beating.’ And they do that.”

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

A 14-Year-Old Made An App To Help Alzheimer’s Patients Recognize Their Loved Ones

LinkedIn

After watching her grandmother struggle to remember her own family members, the young coder Emma Yang decided to figure out how to use AI and facial recognition to help her–and others coping with the illness.

When Emma Yang was 7 or 8 years old, her grandmother became increasingly forgetful. Over the next few years, those memory problems, caused by early Alzheimer’s disease, worsened. Yang, who learned to code at an early age, decided to create an app to help.

“I have personal experience with how the disease can affect not only the patient, but also family and friends. When I was about 11 or 12, I got really interested in using technology for social good to help other people around the world,” says Yang, who is now 14.

In her app under development, called Timeless, Alzheimer’s patients can scroll through photos of friends and family, and the app will tell them who the person is and how they’re related to the patient using facial recognition tech. If a patient doesn’t recognize someone in the same room, they can take a picture and the tech will also try to automatically identify them.

“I saw a lot of things about how AI and facial recognition were really evolving and being applied in more and more areas, especially healthcare,” she says. She partnered with mentors at the tech company Kairos, which makes the facial recognition software that is now used by the app, and learned to code for the iPhone for the first time.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

Scientists Figure Out How to Make Muscles From Scratch

LinkedIn

FOR THE PAST several years, Nenad Bursac has been trying to make muscles from scratch.

A biological engineer at Duke, Bursac came close in 2015, when his lab became the first to grow functional human skeletal muscle in culture. “Functional” being the operative word. Like the muscle fibers in, say, your bicep, the tissues could contract and generate forces in response to things like electrical pulses and shots of chemicals.

But to produce the tissue, the researchers had to isolate their starting materials from pea-sized globs of muscle, which they sliced from human test subjects. The lab was, in effect, growing muscle from muscle. It was a significant accomplishment, but also kind of a letdown: Biopsied cells don’t proliferate well in the lab, so producing a large, consistent supply is difficult. What’s more, Bursac is interested in developing models of muscular disorders (muscular dystrophies, for example). But for the 2015 study, his lab sampled healthy tissues; sampling it from someone with a muscle-wasting disease, he says, would be unethical.

“In a lot of people with rare, congenital diseases, their muscles are already damaged, so you don’t want to biopsy on top of that and cause further damage,” Bursac says. “The ideal scenario is to take a skin, blood, or urine sample, use that to generate stem cells, and use that to generate functional muscles.” In other words: Reprogram skin or blood cells to act like undifferentiated stem cells.

Now, Bursac and his team have done exactly that. In the latest issue of Nature Communications, the researchers describe for the first time how to transform skin cells into functioning human muscle. Their method will make it easier than ever for researchers to study muscle and muscle-based therapies—and could one day form a basis for stem cell and transplantation therapies.

Bursac’s team used pluripotent stem cells derived from human skin cells, which they genetically programmed to express large quantities of a protein called Pax-7. It can reprogram a single stem cell into what’s known as a myogenic progenitor cell—an intermediate cell that, under the right conditions, can eventually become a mature, contracting muscle cell.

But cells are small. To make an individual muscle fiber, you need a lot of them. It takes Bursac’s team about five weeks to convert a single stem cell into about a thousand myogenic progenitors (after which, Bursac says, it’s fairly easy to scale to millions or even billions of cells). The researchers then load those progenitor cells onto a cylindrical scaffold of gel made of fibrin, the same stuff that helps your blood clot. It gives the cells a surface on which to align and complete their transformation into unified bundles of muscle fiber.

To verify that the fibers could function not just in culture but in live tissue, Bursac’s team transplanted their three-dimensional muscle bundles into adult mice. Through small, glass windows implanted in the mice’s backs, the researchers were able to watch their home-spun tissues not just survive but integrate with the rodent’s natural muscles. “The cells express a protein that flashes whenever calcium signalling is active in the cell,” Bursac says. “When the cells light up, we can see that the muscle is alive and active.”

Continue onto WIRED to read the complete article.

Today’s Google Doodle Honors Bacteriologist Robert Koch

LinkedIn

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates Robert Koch, the father of bacteriology. He received the 1905 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering the bacterium that causes tuberculosis, and he had previously identified the microscopic culprits behind anthrax and cholera. But more importantly, Koch was the scientist who figured out how to study bacteria in the first place.

He first isolated cultures of bacteria on potato slices, then became one of the first to adopt the Petri dish (today’s Google Doodle includes images of both). Koch also pioneered the use of agar, which is still the medium used for most bacterial cultures today, over a century later. Without his work, we couldn’t study how bacteria grow, how to fight them, or what potentially useful chemicals they produce.

Koch also laid the groundwork for modern epidemiology, spelling out four criteria for linking a disease to a pathogen.

  1. The organism must always be present, in every case of the disease.
  2. The organism must be isolated from a host containing the disease and grown in pure culture.
  3. Samples of the organism taken from pure culture must cause the same disease when inoculated into a healthy, susceptible animal in the laboratory.
  4. The organism must be isolated from the inoculated animal and must be identified as the same original organism first isolated from the originally diseased host.

He used those criteria to discover the bacteria that caused of anthrax (in 1876), cholera (in 1884), and tuberculosis (in 1882). Using Koch’s methods — and inspired by his proof that it could be done — other scientists soon found the bacteria responsible for several other diseases, ushering in what has been called a Golden Age of Bacteriology around the turn of the 20th century.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Genetic Editing to Make Us Better, Faster, Stronger

LinkedIn

By Dana Talesnik

Recently, genome sequencing and gene-editing techniques have become faster, more accurate and cheaper, thanks to the innovations of investigators such as Dr. George Church, who delivered 2017’s Marshall Nirenberg Lecture at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

“The thing that’s significant here is that we’re not just reading genes and their 64 types of triplet codons, which comprise the genetic code, but we’re also now writing them and can do radical recoding,” said Church, professor of genetics, health sciences and technology at Harvard University and director, Harvard-NHGRI Center of Excellence in Genomic Science.

The ability to alter genes offers the potential to treat heart and organ failure, cancer and many inherited conditions. The reason it’s possible to read whole genomes and write them on the billion base pair scale is due to such gene-editing tools as CRISPR—a tool Church’s lab helped invent that can delete, insert or alter genes—and novel sequencing methods such as fluorescent in situ RNA sequencing.

Another integral part of Church’s research is engineering cells to make them resistant to viruses. “It’s interesting, both practically and philosophically—you can make an organism resistant to all viruses in the world, even viruses you’ve never studied before, because they all expect a genetic code to be provided by the host, and we can change that radically without impacting the host,” he explained.

Church’s lab is part of NIH’s BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative, which seeks to analyze brain function with the goal of treating and preventing brain disorders. Astonishingly, Church and colleagues are also busy editing genetic code with the goal of building brains.

“We’re not just interested in making brains,” said Church. “We also want to make sure that when we make these organoids, they are physiologically reasonable and, if they’re not, we want to debug them with all the tools that we have.”

Source: nihrecord.nih.gov

DNA-Based Diet Advice Is Big Business With Little Scientific Support

LinkedIn

BY LAURA ENTIS

Tech companies are selling expensive diets based on genetic and microbiome sequencing. But scientists say there are no shortcuts to healthy weight loss.

If you believe nutrition scientists, healthy eating is a simple — if difficult — pursuit: Eat lots of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seafood, and legumes, and limit your intake of red meat, processed foods, refined grains, and anything with lots of added sugar.

This simplicity gets easily lost, though. Thanks to expensive marketing campaigns by big food companies, media that thrives on drama, and a rotating door of fad diets, what is and isn’t considered “healthy” feels as if it’s in constant flux. Fat, sugar, salt, cholesterol, dairy, gluten, and grains have all wrestled for the title of public health enemy no. 1.

For years, I managed to ignore the inflammatory headlines and shocking new studies. While friends and family routinely eliminated whole food groups only to “reintroduce” them weeks later, I kept my head down and worked on upping my vegetable intake and cutting back on processed foods.

But I wasn’t immune, either. A few years ago, thanks to the ease and availability of genetic sequencing, a new category of health startups began to form. The founding premise was seductive in its clarity: Standard dieting advice is too broad to be effective. Instead, if we want to truly nourish our bodies (and, by extension, actually lose weight), we should be following personalized eating plans based on our unique genetic and microbial makeup. It’s the same magical thinking that has popularized hundreds of bizarre eating plans–maybe it’s just a matter of finding the right diet–wrapped in a layer of sophisticated-sounding science. Today, there are dozens of companies that send users personalized dietary advice based on their genetic data. (A nonexhaustive list: HabitVitageneEmbodyDNA,uBiomeViomeNutrigenomixLifeNome, and DNAFit.)

Continue onto FastCompany to read the complete article.

Scientists claim to diagnose football-related brain injury in living patients for first time

LinkedIn

For the first time, scientists have confirmed a diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — a neurological disease linked to head injuries from sports like football — in a living person. Until now, we’ve only been able to diagnose CTE in dead patients. Finding the disease while the patient is still alive could help scientists find a way to treat it.

CTE develops from repeated hits to the head and has been linked to severe memory loss, depression, and dementia. It’s been found in 99 percent of the donated brains of NFL players. In a study published in the journal Neurosurgery, researchers found a telltale sign of CTE, a specific protein, in the brains of 14 retired NFL players who underwent a brain scan. Now that one of the players has died and doctors have been able to take a closer look at his brain, they have confirmed the CTE diagnosis.

Many former National Football League players like Aaron Hernandez and Junior Seau have been found to have the progressive brain disease. Last year, the NFL reached a billion-dollar settlement, the largest in sports history, over a lawsuit from former players who suffered concussions and now have severe neurological diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

The subject of the paper was former NFL player Fred McNeillaccording to CNN. McNeill played 12 seasons in the National Football League for the Minnesota Vikings, reporting one concussion. But by the time he was 59, McNeill was already experiencing serious problems with his motor skills, and so he sat for the brain scan. Scientists found increased levels of certain proteins in his brain, including the tau protein, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s. After McNeill died two years ago, at 63, detailed brain-tissue analysis confirmed that his brain had other physical signs of CTE, suggesting that the tau protein is linked to the disease. A study from September suggested that the levels of another protein, called CCL11, may also be used to diagnose CTE in living patients.

Right now, the data on CTE is skewed. Being limited to donated brains means scientists are studying the brains of people whose relatives probably already suspected that something was wrong. One study, for example, showed that playing high school football, was not linked to cognitive problems later in life. So being able to diagnose people while they’re still alive could tell us a lot about how common CTE really is, and it could be crucial for developing treatment for players while they’re alive.

More studies are needed to confirm this method, according to the researchers, and some scientists are skeptical. Lili-Naz Hazrati, a neuroscience researcher at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, told the Chicago Tribune that tau can be found in healthy brains, too. Having a robust way of detecting CTE may still be far off, but we may be one step closer. And if this pans out, it could be a game-changer for athletes.

Continue onto The Verge to read the complete article.

Digital opioids help doctors track prescription painkiller use

LinkedIn

The pills are equipped with sensors powered by stomach acid

The latest weapon in the fight against opioid addiction may be sensors in prescription opioids that alert physicians whenever their patients pop a pill. These digital pills aren’t on the market yet, but a small test run shows that they can help doctors monitor how patients use prescription painkillers at home.

By prescribing opioids equipped with radio transmitters to patients treated for broken bones, researchers tracked patients’ pill use in real time. The research team, led by Peter Chai at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, found that most of the patients started spacing out their doses after a few days, and stopped before their pills ran out, according to the study published in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia. (The participants turned their remaining pills in to their docs).

Prescribing too many pills might lead patients to take more than they need, the study says — or leave them with extra pills to be sold. So giving researchers a way to track how many pills patients actually use could help doctors write better opioid prescriptions that leave fewer pills left over. Digital pills could also help doctors spot — and stop — dangerous drug use early. This level of detail is a first: typically, doctors have no way to monitor opioid use once a patient goes home with a bottle of pills. “We’re placing the onus of one of the most dangerous medicines we have into the hands of patients,” says Chai, a physician and medical toxicologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Chai wanted to know if there was a way to spot problematic drug use as the behavior emerges. If someone suddenly starts taking their prescribed painkillers more frequently, for example, it could mean they’re suffering from a painful complication. Or it could mean they’re growing tolerant to the drug, and could begin misusing it. “Those are two different conversations,” Chai says — and they’re ones that are only possible if a doctor can track their patients’ pill use.

That’s where the digital pills come in. Made by a Florida-based company called eTectRx, they’re gel capsules that contain both the drug and a radio transmitter “about the size of a sesame seed,” Chai says. (They’re a little different from the digital versions of antipsychotic Abilify, which the Food and Drug Administration just approved.)

Continue onto The Verge to read the complete article.

The Future of Farming May Not Involve Dirt or Sun

LinkedIn

Farming uses copious amounts of water–70 percent of all freshwater consumed is used for agriculture, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, only about half of which can be recycled after using. It also requires huge swaths of land and, of course, just the right amount of sun.

AeroFarms thinks it has a better solution. The company’s farming method requires no soil, no sunlight, and very little water. It all takes place indoors, often in an old warehouse, meaning in theory that any location could become a fertile growing ground despite its climate.

The startup is the brainchild of Ed Harwood, a professor at Cornell University’s agriculture school. In 2003, Harwood invented a new system for growing plants in a cloth material he created. There’s no dirt necessary–beneath the cloth, the plants’ roots are sprayed with nutrient-rich mist. Harwood received a patent for his invention and founded Aero Farm Systems, so named because “aeroponics” refers to the method of growing plants without placing them in soil or water. The company, which sold plant-growing systems, was mostly a side project for Harwood and didn’t generate much revenue.

In 2011, David Rosenberg, founder of waterproof concrete company Hycrete, and Marc Oshima, a longtime marketer in the food and restaurant industries, looked at the inefficiency of traditional farming and sensed an opportunity. The pair began exploring potential new methods and, in the process, came across Aero Farm Systems. They liked what Harwood had developed–so much that they offered him a cash infusion in exchange for letting them come on board as co-founders. They also proposed a change in business model: Rosenberg and Oshima saw a bigger opportunity in optimizing the growing process and selling the crops themselves.

Harwood agreed. The company became AeroFarms, with the three serving as co-founders. The trio bought old facilities in New Jersey–a steel mill, a club, a paintball center–and started converting them into indoor farms.

Today, each of the startup’s farms features vertically stacked trays where the company grows carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, and, its main product high-end baby greens, which it sells to grocers on the East Coast including Whole Foods, ShopRite, and Fresh Direct, as well as to dining halls at businesses like Goldman Sachs and The New York Times. By growing locally year-round, the company hopes it will be able to provide fresher produce at a lower price point, since transportation will be kept to a minimum. (Currently, about 90 percent of the leafy greens consumed in the U.S. between November and March come from the Southwest, according to Bloomberg.) AeroFarms collects hundreds of thousands of data points at each of its facilities, which allows it to easily alter its LED lighting to control for taste, texture, color, and nutrition, Oshima says. The data also helps the company adjust variables like temperature and humidity to optimize its crop yields.

Continue onto Inc. to read the complete article.