Do you need Selenium supplements ?

Selenium deficiency can impair immune function, increase incidence of cancer, cardiovascular and other degenerative diseases as well as overall mortality.

Selenium in human Health and Disease

Selenium is an essential micronutrient found in Brazil nuts, chicken, fish, turkey, crab, nuts, cereal and eggs. Selenium is an “essential nutrient”, meaning our bodies cannot make it, and so we have to get it from our diet. Without it the heart, joints, eyes, immune system and reproductive system can suffer.  We require 55 micrograms of selenium to maintain proper health and this selenium we must obtain through dietary sources.

What is Selenium

Selenium is a non-metal element that occurs in the earth’s crust. Selenium is necessary in the body’s production of selenoproteins.  There are around 25 selenoproteins in humans and many of these are enzymes that act to protect the body against oxidative damage. Since the ageing process, as well as certain diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease, is associated with an increase in oxidative damage, maintaining adequate selenium intakes may provide some protection against these processes.

Where is Selenium found

Seafood and organ meats are rich in selenium.

Plants pick up selenium from soil. The selenium content in plant foods depends on the concentration of selenium in the soil where the plants grow.  Seafood and organ meats are rich in selenium. Other foods that have selenium include muscle meats, grains and dairy products. It can also be found in drinking water in some places.

Why selenium levels are low in some people

People living in places where the soil is selenium deficient have low selenium levels. People who smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol often are more likely to have selenium deficiency. Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or other conditions that interfere with how the body absorbs selenium can lead to low selenium levels. Kidney dialysis patients may also become low in selenium. The chemotherapy drug cisplatin can lower selenium levels in the blood, but it is not known if cisplatin can lead to a significant deficiencies.

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Did you know that blue light from ‘Digital Screens’ negatively affects health

We all take special care to protect our eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays; but what about the harmful effects of blue light rays?
Usage of blue light emitting gadgets before bedtime prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep, delays the circadian clock, suppresses levels of the “darkness hormone” melatonin.

Sources of blue light include the sun, digital screens (TVs, computers, laptops, smart phones and tablets), electronic devices, and fluorescent and LED lighting.

As the day progresses, we actually move closer to the back lit devices

 

Impact on Sleep:

Digital Screens emit blue light which are so bright that at night, brain gets confused by that light.  Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. This causes the brain to stop producing melatonin, a hormone that gives body the “time to sleep” commands. Because of this, digital screen light can disrupt sleep cycle, making it harder to fall and stay asleep.

Changes in sleep patterns can in turn shift the body’s natural clock, known as its circadian rhythm. Studies have shown that shifts in this clock can have devastating health effects because it controls not only our wakefulness but also individual clocks that dictate function in the body’s organs. Research also shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and even obesity. 

Eyes and Blue Light:

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Friends who live in our Gut: Gut Microbiota

Healthy adult humans each typically harbor more than 1000 species of bacteria

Most people consider microbes as germs, but truth is trillions of microbes that live in our gut execute many functional roles – aid in digestion, keep  a check on infectious agents,  boost immunity, synthesize many vitamins, play a key role in maintaining Hormone balance and Brain function.

So they are for sure our ‘Friends’

“Taking into account the major role gut microbiota plays in the normal functioning of the body and the different functions it accomplishes, experts nowadays consider it as an “organ

Quick facts about our ‘Friends’ Microbiota

  • Healthy adult humans each typically harbor more than 1000 species of bacteria 
  • Microbiota can, in total, weigh up to 2 kg
  • ‘Gut feelings’ indeed seems to be a true phrase as researchers have found connection between gut microbiome and human behavior and emotion
  • Two thirds of the gut microbiome is unique to each person, and what makes this unique is the food we eat, the air we breathe and other environmental factors.
  •  The initial composition of the gut microbiota depends on the mode of delivery: babies delivered vaginally harbour gut microbiota resembling microbial communities found in their mothers’ vaginas, whereas those born via Cesarean section apparently acquire microbes from the skin, dominated by taxa such as Propionibacterium and Staphylococcus
  • Formula fed babies have less of good microbes compared to breast fed babies, giving them a healthier edge over the other.  Gut of breastfed babies primarily consists of Bifidobacteria – considered a “friendly” bacteria that benefits the gut
  •  Infants with less diverse gut bacteria at the age of 3 months were more likely to be prone to food allergies
  • By the age of 3, microbiota becomes stable and similar to that of adults, continuing its evolution at a steadier rate throughout life
  • Researchers have found a certain strain of bacteria – Christensenellaceae minuta – that cause the animals to gain less weight, indicating the bacteria could be used to reduce or prevent obesity 
  • The predominant bacterial groups in the microbiome are gram positive Firmicutes and gram negative Bacteroidetes
  • People treated with prolonged courses of antibiotics that kill a wide spectrum of bacteria can develop life-threatening diarrhoea due to an overgrowth of Clostridium difficile

Microbiome and Disease state

Some researchers believe that up to 90 percent of all diseases can be traced in some way back to the gut and health of the microbiome : image

Each of us have a complex ecosystem of bacteria located within our gut and we call them microbiome or gut microbiota. The vast majority of the bacterial species that make up our microbiome live in our digestive systems. Some researchers believe that up to 90 percent of all diseases can be traced in some way back to the gut and health of the microbiome.  Poor gut health can contribute to leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune diseases and disorders like arthritis, dementia, heart disease, and cancer.

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Roast potatoes ‘a potential cancer risk’

Acrylamide is found mainly in plant foods, such as potato products

Potatoes  and Acrylamide

Acrylamide is a chemical used primarily as a building block in making polyacrylamide and acrylamide copolymers. They have proven without doubt to be causing cancer in animal models. Scientist believe that the case is not going to be different in humans. The evidence from human studies is not complete.

Researchers in Europe and the United States have found acrylamide in certain foods that were heated to a temperature above 120 degrees Celsius, but not in foods prepared below this temperature . Potato chips and French fries were found to contain higher levels of acrylamide compared with other foods.

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