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Biofortified Pearl Millet varieties to reduce Iron and Zinc Deficiency in Low Economy Countries

Dhanashakti, a new high variety bio-fortified pearl millet has been developed by the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics(ICRISAT)

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Picture of a millet field. Wikimedia Commons

Hyderabad, October 15, 2016:  Micronutrient malnutrition because of iron and zinc deficiencies is a serious public health problem in low- and middle-economy countries worldwide.

In India alone, about 80 percent of pregnant women, 52 percent of non-pregnant women, and 74 percent of children in the 6-35 months age group suffer from iron deficiency. About 52 percent of children below five years are zinc deficient.

Iron deficiency causes varying degrees of impairment in cognitive performance, learning ability, lowered work capacity, and pregnancy complications (maternal mortality and babies with low birth weight). Zinc deficiency in children causes stunting, makes them vulnerable to diarrhoea and pneumonia and can lead to death from these infections.

Crop bio-fortification, which refers to the breeding of cultivars with higher levels of micronutrients, is increasingly being recognised as a cost-effective and sustainable approach to overcoming these deficiencies in the food chain.

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Spearheaded by the HarvestPlus Programme of CGIAR (formerly Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research), global crop biofortification research was initiated by several of its centres on 12 crops, including pearl millet. This has led to several success stories based on which HarvestPlus was recognised with the World Food Prize in 2016.

Under the bio-fortification programme, the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth jointly developed a high-iron variety of pearl millet, called Dhanashakti, which was released in 2012 in Maharashtra and later in 2013 across India, making it the first mineral biofortified product of any crop cultivar released in India.

Dhanashakti has 71 mg/kg iron and 40 mg/kg zinc. It was rapidly adopted by farmers, reaching 65,000 farmers by 2015. Dhanashakti seeds are available with Nirmal Seed Company and State Seed Corporations in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan.

ICRISAT has also developed a high-iron pearl millet hybrid (ICMH 1201), which is being marketed, using Truthfully Labelled Seed (self-certification), by ShaktiVardhak Seed Company under its brand name Shakti 1201.

This hybrid has 75 mg/kg iron and 40 mg/kg zinc (similar to Dhanashakti), but it has more than 30 percent higher grain yield than Dhanashakti. In 2015, Shakti 1201 was adopted by more than 35,000 farmers.

The iron levels in the two biofortified cultivars are much higher than those reported in most of the released and commercial cultivars, which have less than 50 mg/kg iron. The zinc of these cultivars is marginally higher than many of the released and commercial cultivars.

Thus, when talking of pearl millet grains as a rich source of iron and zinc, as commonly assumed, there will be a need to talk in terms of specific cultivars.

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In this context, it should also be noted that these biofortified pearl millet varieties have much higher iron content than the best biofortified rice varieties (less than 5 mg/kg). And many, but not all, also have much higher iron content than the best biofortified wheat varieties (less than 40 mg/kg).

Similarly, many have much higher zinc content than the best biofortified rice varieties (less than 25 mg/kg), but only a few have higher zinc content than the best biofortified wheat varieties (less than 40 mg/kg).

The food uses of biofortified pearl millet varieties will go a long way to reduce iron and zinc deficiencies. For instance, based on feeding trial estimates of 7-7.5 percent bioavailability of iron in whole grain food, and assuming 240 g/day of grain consumption, Dhanashakti and Shakti 1201 would provide much more iron than the daily requirement of 0.84 mg in men, and meet 70 percent of the daily requirement of 1.65 mg in non-pregnant and non-lactating women, and 42 percent of the daily requirement of 2.8 mg in pregnant women. Above grain consumption rate will also provide 80 percent of the recommended daily allowance of 12 mg of zinc.

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Besides reducing the iron and zinc deficiencies, pearl millet has recently been gaining increasing attention as a climate change-resilient and Smart Food crop on account of its high levels of tolerance to drought, heat and soil salinity; and several nutritional traits such as high protein content with more balanced amino acid profile, high dietary fibre, gluten-free protein and phyto-chemicals.

Finally, a word of caution: These biofortified pearl millet cultivars have been developed using natural genetic variability in pearl millet and they are not GMO products. (IANS)

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5 Reasons Why You Should Not Skip Breakfast!

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Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Pexels

New Delhi, October 17, 2017: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Have you ever wondered why we call this meal ‘breakfast’?

After waking up you must treat your poor belly with some love as it’s been on a FAST for 6 to 8 hours. That is the reason why the first meal of the day is called ‘breakfast.’ You must break your fast with a healthy, nutritious, carbs filled diet. And there are many reasons for that.

Here are the top 5 reasons Why you should not skip breakfast

1. Weight Loss

You may be skipping your breakfast thinking you are consuming fewer calories. But what you don’t realize is that you are unknowingly setting yourself up for a disappointment.

Skipping brings your blood sugar level down, and that results in you having less energy and later, cravings for calories. To make up for your feebleness, you gobble up whatever appears in front of you without caring about its nutritious value. Thus, it is important for weight loss as it keeps you energetic and stops you from consuming more calories as the day progresses.

2. Breakfast Helps You Stay Focused

When you are running low on calories, your body has to work extra hard to sustain you. During this process, you will find it extremely difficult to focus on the task before you as your body will keep reminding you of the struggle it is going through. This is another reason for eating breakfast so that you can focus on the job at hand.

Studies have proven the importance of breakfast by showing how our memory and concentration levels increase after our first meal of the day.

3. A Full Stomach Means A Happy Day

Breakfast Muesli
A full stomach means an energetic start for a day. Pixabay

It is important that you start off your day with a smile on your face. Research suggests that consuming breakfast that is rich in carbs, proteins, whole grains can uplift your mood.

A healthy breakfast provides glucose to our brain after a long fast.  What happens is, our blood glucose levels increase after having a healthy breakfast, giving more energy to our body, which in turn results in a happy mood.

If you a have a child, a good breakfast is very important. Children who don’t have a healthy become jaded in school and tend to have shorter attention spans.

4. Helps Avoid Heart Disease

According to a study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, heart disease has a slight association with breakfast. Men who admitted missing breakfast on a regular basis had a 27 percent higher chance of heart-related diseases than those who ate breakfast regularly.

It is quite clear how important is breakfast for our first meal of the day and there are multiple reasons for attending to it sincerely.

– prepared by Siddheshwar Sharma. Twitter: @MancSiddheshwar

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Get Ready for Winters with Petroleum Jelly, Get the Glow In The Festive Season

Know the magical benefits of Petroleum Jelly and adapt beauty hacks to look best this festive season from the Vaseline experts

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homemade face mask
Do you want glowing skin this festive season? We have got you covered. Pixabay

New Delhi, October 12, 2017 : With October comes an energizing and exciting series of festivals combined with colors, celebration and delicious food which bind everyone together. But amidst all this, we often forget taking good care of our body and skin. Not anymore!

Benefits of Petroleum Jelly
Apply Petroleum Jelly For Healthy Lips and Hairs. Pixabay.

To add to the already magical benefits of Petroleum Jelly, a Vaseline expert shares six beauty hacks to look best this festive season!

  • Smooth glossy hair: Use a little bit of Petroleum Jelly for your split ends and get sleek, glossy hair
  • DIY (Do It Yourself) Highlighter: Mix a little bit of face powder with Petroleum Jelly and dab it on your cheekbones to get that instant glow.
  • DIY Body Lotion: Mix a little of Vaseline with Sea Salt and apply it on your body after a bath. This will serve as a long-lasting lotion for your skin.
  • On the eyelids: Apply it for an instant glossy eye shadow look.
  • Eyebrow gel: A quick application of Petroleum Jelly can slick eyebrow hair back and keep them in place all day for a neat look that perfectly frames your face.
  • Soothe embroidery rashes: Apply Jelly on your skin to soothe embroidery rashes.

Lakme Beauty Expert, Donald Simrock also shares skincare hacks for bringing out your natural radiance this festive season.

Benefits of Petroleum Jelly
Get Warmness on the Hands and Feet of your Kid. Pixabay.

  • Rejuvenating and exfoliating your skin is of utmost importance. While you exfoliate your skin at least once a week, nourish it every morning to ensure you start your day with a fresh and nourished look.
  • Minimalism is all about keeping it simple while not making any compromises. Using a CC cream gives you a uniform complexion that makes your skin look flawless and has a matte finish.
  • Night time beauty regimes are a must: Cleansing your face before hitting the bed is the best way to allow your skin to breathe.
  • Having non-chapped, crack-free lips adds that extra glam to your festive look. Use one drop of the Overnight Oil in Serum to get a smooth finish before you apply a lip color. (IANS)

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Why migraines are more common among women

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Migraine

New York, Feb 8 : Females are more vulnerable to certain stress-related and allergic diseases such as migraines because of distinct differences found in mast cells, a type of white blood cell that is part of the immune system, says a study.

Mast cells are an important category of immune cells because they play a key role in stress-related health issues that are typically more common in women such as allergic disorders, auto-immune diseases, migraines and irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.

“Over 8,000 differentially expressed genes were found in female mast cells compared to male mast cells,” said lead researcher Adam Moeser, Associate Professor at Michigan State University in the US.

“While male and female mast cells have the same sets of genes on their chromosomes, with the exception of the XY sex chromosomes, the way the genes act vary immensely between the sexes,” Moeser noted.

A further in-depth analysis of the genes within the RNA genome — a primary building block in all forms of life — revealed an increase in activity that is linked to the production and storage of inflammatory substances, according to the study published in the journal Biology of Sex Differences.

These substances can create a more aggressive response in the body and result in disease.

“This could explain why women, or men, are more or less vulnerable to certain types of diseases,” Moeser said.

With this new understanding of how different genes act, scientists could eventually start developing new sex-specific treatments that target these immune cells and stop the onset of disease, Moeser said. (IANS)