Human Body

Love Tanning? You Are Inviting Cancer

Stay Away From Tanning If You Want to Stay Away From Cancer!

TanningWe all love tanning and know that exposure to the sun has important benefits as it is essential for the synthesis of Vitamin D but overexposure to sun, as it is a fashion to do, have dangers associated with it including exposure to the harmful UV radiation of the sun.

During the tanning process, the exposure to UV A and UV B radiation may cause oxidation of melanin, redistribution of melanin pigments in the skin and increase production of melanin in the skin, leading to the consequent darkening of the skin. UV A exposure causes mild darkening while UV B exposure is required for intensive darkening.

UV A is harmful as it causes skin cancer while one of the effects of UV B exposure is skin aging. Some of the dangerous Continue Reading →

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Lose Weight With a Sip of This – Probiotics

Lose weight the easy way now. All of us want to get into the perfect shape. Gyms won’t like this, but you can now lose weight with a sip of a drink!

Probiotics Can Help You Manage Your Weight

Probiotics are organisms, whose intake ofProbioticsfers some kind of benefit to the host. They include bacteria and yeast. One may wonder when our bodies already have an existing variety of microorganisms, (billions and billions of greater than 500 different kinds) what is the use of taking additional quantities of them? And as most of the time we are under attack by microorganisms, what is the advantage?

History of probiotics

Probiotics were discovered in the 1900s by Russian scientist, Elie Metchnikoff in Paris as a result of his enquiry into why certain inhabitants of Bulgarian community lived longer than others. He discovered that the secret was the daily drinking of a fermented yogurt drink Continue Reading →

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Control Your Mood With Food

Did You Know There Is a Strong Relation Between the Food You Eat and Your Mood?

FoodAll our survival depends on the availability of food but the right kind of food is essential for our health and well being. We all know the importance of correct nutrients for our physical well being but what we know little of, is how much the right kind of food contributes to the right kind of mood. Hippocrates was the earliest thinker who mentioned about the healing power of food.

People resort to variety of mechanisms for emulating their moods especially negative moods. One is by intaking or imbibing certain substances or fluids. This could include, food, drinks, chocolates etc. Research has shown that people try to compensate or improve their moods by consuming certain foods and therefore, it has been known that certain foods are found to be taken more during certain moods. The results of the research came out with startling facts. Continue Reading →

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Male and Female Brains are Very Different, Now Proven

Men and women can never be alike. Their brains are wired differently! We have to live with it!

BrainsWell, the gender wars and stereotyping have been very popular through the ages. And that famous book of John Gray ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ has become a very popular saying poking fun at the ages long celebration or derision (as you may like to think) about the differences between the genders.

In case you thought these were all jokes and those men and women are equal in all ways, then do reconsider your views, in light of the latest scientist reports. Neuroscience researchers in the University of Pennsylvania have found some amazing results which could provide some foundation for the age long stereotyping of male and female attributes. Continue Reading →

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Best Biologist, Charles Darwin, Fooled Us

Charles Darwin rose to become the world’s best evolutionary biologist due to this theory of evolution. But did you know the theory was flawed?

It is as if Charles Darwin got us all fooled all these years. Here are the major flaws in Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

Charles Darwin was the author of the path-breaking and monumental work, On the Origin of Species. This book is considered to be the origin oCharles Darwinf the field of evolutionary biology. Much of his theory pertained to how organisms arose from a common ancestor and underwent a course of evolution over millions of years, to reach the form where they are today. The book was based on the results of evidence obtained over the course of his research as well as the discoveries he made on the famous expedition aboard the Beagle, which took him to that now immortalised island, Galapagos. Continue Reading →

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Start Eating Saturated Fats Now

Why the Whole Idea of Steering People Away From Saturated Fats was a Mistake

The war between which is healthier, saturated or unsaturated fats, has been, till date, heavily date, tilted against saturated fats so far. From long time, saturated fats have been blamed for all the illnesses we suffer and a whole industry has come up around demonising saturated fats while holding up unsaturated fats as the one to consume for good health. But things have changed in recent times. Before looking at what has led to the change on perception around saturated fats, let us understand what they are in the first place. Continue Reading →

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Ditch Hormone Replacement Therapy Now

Your Doctor Will Never Tell You This, but if You Want to Safeguard your Health,  Replace Your Hormone Replacement Therapy with Better Alternatives

Hormone Replacement TherapyFor those who are not very sure what Hormone Replacement Therapy is and what it is used for, Hormone Replacement Therapy, commonly known as HRT, is a procedure which helps women to cope with hormonal changes induced as a result of menopause.

Before You Sign up for Hormone Replacement Therapy, Know the Roles of Female Hormones

Female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone Continue Reading →

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What Your Body Odor Says About You

Did you know your body odor speaks volumes about you? What does your BO say about you? 

Body OdorSniff. Sniff. What is that we smell when we enter a crowded compartment or a closed room, filled with people? Yes, whether you like it or not, you cannot escape body odor. It may be mild or it may be hideously strong, you can often catch a whiff of a person, before you see them. Body weapons can be pleasant or unpleasant but they cannot be avoided.

Our dear weapons of odor detection, that olfactory organ, the nose, is able to identify and distinguish between different kinds of smells and not only that, memorize them! So one asks, what is the function of body odor? What use does its serve, aside from putting us off, when we reek of sweat and foulness?

If I say, we are led by noses, Continue Reading →

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Human Microbiome Project

The biggest project of life sciences – the human microbiome project – an overview

This is one of the biggest projects of mankind which is the human microbiome project. It involves the extensive characterisation of the microbial flora in the human system.

Human Microbiome ProjectThe human microflora are very important in maintaining the body balance. We host a wide variety of microflora and it is believed that the number of that micro-flora exceeds even the number of cells within the body. It is reported that there are millions of microbes per square inch of the body.   The microflora are distributed across the human body with there being different concentrations of such microbial colonies at different places.   The microbiota would include bacteria, fungi, viruses, archaebacteria, protozoa etc. Hence attempts have been made to study and to characterise this microbiota.

The characteristics of the major classes of microorganisms are as follows:

1. Bacteria- unicellular microorganisms with cellwall and cell membrane, having nucleic acids as genetic material which are not organised into chromosomes. Also, there are no cellular organelles. They can be of different shapes and exist singly or as colonies. They can be beneficial such as fermentative bacteria or may cause diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera etc.

2.Archaebacteria – are similar to bacteria but are quite ancient and include bacteria which can survive in extremes of environments such as extreme salt, temperatures etc

3. There are also the protozoans which may be present as parasites.

What roles does the microbiota play in the body? The microbiota within the body perform many important functions. These include:

1. Vitamin synthesis as well as other help to capture and store other nutrients which are required by the body.

2. Metabolism of xenobiotics

3. Help in the maintenance of the epithelial cells (which line the intestinal passage or gut)

4. Help in the strengthening and activity of the immune system

5. movement and cardiac issues.

Potential Distribution of the Human Microbiota That Has Helped the Human Microbiome Project 

Human Microbiome Project

In this direction, the Human Microbiome Project was established to systematically research and account the microbial communities. And to correlate the changes in the quantity and quality of these communities with changes in metabolism/disease in human beings. The possible questions which the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) propose to answer are as follows:

1. Stability of an individual’s microbiota population and what are the changes in it over time, during a day, year and the entire duration of life. This will help correlate it to other significant changes occurring in the body

2. Comparisons of the microbiomes of individuals, within families, their immediate communities and between communities, going up to cities and country level and to determine the similarities and differences.

3. To identify the microbiome component unique to each human, besides the shared components.

4. Research will also look into the aspects of how changes in microbiome occur. How a microbiome is established within a human, and how it can be shared or transmitted with other humans or animals?

5. What factors causes changes in the genetic diversity of the microbiome? How does the diversity of the microbiome affect the lifestyle of the host and the microorganisms as in adaptation to different conditions and physiological states?

Exciting Work Done on the Human Microbiome Project

What is exciting about this Human Microbiome Project is the likelihood to bring down the barriers between microbial and environmental ecology and to create a vaster, more integrated field. This project is supported by the National Institutes of Health supported Common Fund. The work carried out as a result of this project represents the largest and most extensive detailed analysis of the human microbiome.

Microbiomes will need to be characterized by comparing limited data types collected from a limited set of individuals. The research is carried out at a population level and is aimed at generating and collating protocols for metagenomics analysis of the data sets obtained. It also aims to develop standardised methods for creating, processing and interpreting these data. The project has so far generated resources from a sample size of 242 adults. The sampling has been carried out at two levels: time based and on the basis of the biological territoria analysus. The scales used for the biogeographical sampling are micrometres, centimetres and meters.

Human Microbiome Project

Sampling for microbial communities was carried out at around 15 -18 sites on the body and the whole process was repeated around three times. The result of this has been stupendous. Around 5177 microbial profiles have been captured using data based on the analysis of the 16 rRNA genes and 3.5 Tb metagenomic sequence. The data generated from these limited data sets and the technologies involved include bionformatic analysis tools, high throughput DNA and RNA sequencing technologies, computational and metagenomic tools for assembling and annotating the sequence data.

Data includes the data from the analysis of microbial communities of humans as well as microbial reference data sets. Various kinds of annotation protocols have been provided which would be of immense help to scientists who are working on this area or related areas and they can use this to verify their results. The classification can be carried without using phylogenetic marker genes and the matching of genes to the respective organism can be carried out using Markov based models or homology based sequencing. The latter enables sequencing and placement of gene sequences obtained as a result of metagenomic sequencing efforts, on the basis of similarity to known genes from organisms sharing homology, using a multiple alignment and phylogenetics. Scientists prefer to use a mix of both in order to cover as much of the genome as is possible.

The Human Microbiome Project also involves studying the effect on the normal micro-flora of human beings under different medical conditions and building up an information bank on that. The research project also encompasses other aspects such as social, ethical and legal issues with related to this area.

Potential Difficulties in the Human Microbiome Project

Some issues which are coming up during the progress of the Human Microbiome Project are:

1. The difficulties of the occurrence of horizontal gene transfer between microbes may create challenges for the Microbiome project as more and more gene jumping would lead to more variations and differences and hence the picture of the microbiome you get may differ. This is a serious issue in terms of the amount of expenditure incurred.

2. The methods should be faster and tailored to handle large amounts of data in a lesser amount of time to make it more efficient.

Ultimately, this major effort should help in development of new biomarkers as well as achieve improvements in medical diagnosis and generation of diet and drug regimen besides the overall program objectives.


Image Source:

Wikimedia commons

Christine Rodriguez, Ph.D. Harvard Outreach 2012 Summer 2012 Workshop in Biology and Multimedia for High School Teachers


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