We hear about new kinds of bacteria, viruses and diseases every day. Some where someone has been affected by some disease. Your next door neighbor has a cold. Your aunt has cancer. Your friend had jaundice. You had chicken pox. Disease talk is everywhere. The truth is, disease is everywhere too. Tiny micrometer sized organisms are not the only ones that cause diseases though they are in the word’s truest sense, the culprits. Carried from one place to another in many different ways (by air, water, land, and organism) these tiny organisms called pathogens invade a host body and multiply in it. They take up the body’s nutrients and make the host weak. Sometimes the person survives, sometimes he dies.
Immunity is the resistance of an organism towards foreign bodies that include pathogens. Immunity is provided by our body’s immune system which comprises of the lymphoid system, some body cells and chemicals. Immunity is of two types- innate and acquired. Innate immunity is non-specific and is present from birth in our bodies. It is the general protection provided to our body via various mechanical, chemical and other barriers (refer to article on ‘Innate Immunity’). Acquired immunity or adaptive immunity is specific in nature. We acquire this immunity on being exposed to foreign pathogens.
A disease is an illness. A person is said to be diseased or ill if he or she is physically, emotionally and socially unfit or not healthy. Each disease can be classified into the two categories of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Communicable diseases are those which can be transmitted via touch, sharing of body fluids etc. while non-communicable diseases cannot spread from one person to another by such means.
King’s throughout history have prayed for the safety of their reign over the empire. The only way this could be accomplished was by the birth of an heir- the son. If the first wife couldn’t bear sons, she was replaced by a new one. In many countries female foeticide is a prevalent practice. She never gets to see the light of the day. Families are considered incomplete without a son. People keep reproducing till by some chance they are ‘lucky’ enough to give birth to a boy.
Holy water from the church, Prasad from temples, blessings from the prophets of Allah… all are known to cure illness. None of them have been proved or justified to do so, but faith persists. A faith that has intermingled with the practice of medicine.
Though technology has advanced and the human brain understands and perceives more than it did in the early ages, we still believe that a spiritual power is our saviour. We still believe that it is only through him that we can and cannot accomplish things on earth.
A pizza has become a household answer to fast food. A 30 minute delivery boosts its sale and the diner’s appetite has the perfect amount of time to build up till the delivery van pulls up to his door. This cheesy delight is served best with a dollop of tomato ketchup on the side. Juicy red tomatoes and spices which come packed especially for you to delight in that tangy-sweet mixture. Tomatoes have become a staple world over. There is not a cuisine that doesn’t employ tomatoes as taste and colour donators. Their uniqueness lies in their DNA. DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid is what contains genes or units of heredity that are passed down from one generation to another, ensuring that each tomato is as flavoursome as its parent. The industrialisation of our planet and subsequent loss of a clean environment has caused a lot of DNA changing material to be released in the atmosphere. These are called mutagens. They can be radiation, carcinogenic compounds or even excess of a carbon based gas. They cause the structure of DNA to change rendering our tomato to probably be different than the parent… different in not a good way. Many studies have been conducted to define how mutagens affect the DNA. How these genes change their expression and how can this affect all of us.
Carotenoids are natural colored pigments found in plants, including fruits and vegetables. About 600 such carotenoids have been identified. Examples of some carotenoids are Beta-carotene, Alpha-carotene, astaxanthin, cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin etc.
The absorption and utilization of carotenoids varies. After much debate over the conversion factors, the US Food and Nutrition Board revised the conversion factors and stated that 1 microgram retinol (preformed Vitamin A) is equivalent to 12 microgram beta-carotene or 24 microgram of other provitamin-A carotenoids. One unit of beta-carotene is defined as the activity of 0.6 microgram beta-carotene and henceforth, 1 microgram beta-carotene is equal to 1.67 units of beta-carotene.
Carnitine is an amino acid derivative. It is a nutrient required for fat oxidation and energy production. It is seen in two isomeric forms. One is L-carnitine, which is a naturally occurring carnitine and other D-carnitine which is a synthetic one. Dietary supplements contain L-carnitine or DL-carnitine mixture. Dietary intake of carnitine for an omnivorous diet provides 100-300 mg of carnitine daily.
Although not an officially recognized vitamin, carnitine is also sometimes known as vitamin BT.