Friday May 25, 2018

Coral Reefs: Natural sources of cancer medicines

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coral_reef_4By Meghna

What do Lakshwadeep Islands, the islands of the Gulf of Mannar, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the islands of the Gulf of Kachch have in common?

All of them have Coral Reefs.

To a common man, coral reefs would simply appear as hordes of beautiful colours and shapes, scattered across rocks, under crystal blue waters. But, in reality there is much more to coral reefs than just their beauty and vibrancy.

Not everyone knows that Coral reefs have medicinal properties. The substances extracted from Coral Reefs are well known to be used in making medicines for a wide variety of diseases, ranging from diabetes and heart diseases to Alzheimer’s.

A substance extracted from the Caribbean sea sponge, is used to manufacture a medicine named Ara-C, which is a popularly known and widely used medicine in chemotherapy treatments of people diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma.

Another medicine, Yondelis, which is extracted from sea squirt, is used in Europe to treat sarcoma.

“Coral reefs have an incredible diversity of life—from plants, animals and fungi down to the tiniest micro-organism. And this diversity holds so much potential for medical research. In fact, we are 300 to 400 times more likely to find that next big medical breakthrough in our reefs than on land,” Stephanie Wear, a marine scientist at The Nature Conservancy foundation was quoted by a website.

Many coastal communities and even nations—depend on coral reefs for their livelihoods, but, due to climate change, overfishing, pollution, and unsustainable coastal development, the reefs are now endangered. In fact, the coral reefs of the caribbean are known to have diminished upto 90% already! Due to discarded fishing gears,coastal erosion, development, deforestation and other terrestrial activities, increasing sediment loads are being transported to coral reefs via river discharges and surface run off. A combined analysis data spanning 25 years has revealed that in the Caribbean, coral reefs are declining at a rate of 5.5% – 9.2% per year. In the Indo-Pacific region, a 2% loss of coral reefs per year has been estimated. These activities have posed a severe threat to the coral reefs.

Today, 33% of coral species are listed on the ‘Red List of endangered species’ of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Scientists nowadays have been cultivating the coral reefs in nurseries and when they have matured sufficiently, they are restored back into the sea. The survival of coral reefs is essential for mankind to thrive, because they contain answers to a myriad of ailments.

It is quite possible that many of the benefits of these reefs are still unknown to us. Who knows, with the progress of science, we might just be able to get remedies for more and more ailments.

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Avoid Foods Full of Trans Fats if You Are Worried About High Cholesterol Levels

Fat is an important part of any balanced diet but the type of fat you eat matters the most particularly when it comes to cholesterol level so make sure you are avoiding the ones that is causing health problems.

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The World Health Organization said Friday that adults and children should limit their intake of saturated fat — found in foods such a meat — and trans fat — found in foods such as french fries.
representational image. VOA

Fat is an important part of any balanced diet but the type of fat you eat matters the most particularly when it comes to cholesterol level so make sure you are avoiding the ones that is causing health problems.

Manoj Acharya, Food Consultant at Zappfresh and Mehar Rajput, Nutritionist and Dietician at Fitpass tells us about the foods that are full of trans fats and are harmful to our health.

* Cakes, pies and cookies (especially with frosting) : Most cakes and cookies mixes list 0 gm of trans fat on the label. But there is a catch. Manufacturers can list 0 gm if the trans fat content is under 0.5gm. Those small amounts add up when you eat multiple serving of sweets that too with frosting. An average serving of frosting contains 2 gm of trans fats, plus the same amount of sugar.

Muffins, Pixabay

* Biscuits: This one surprises a lot of people. Biscuits contain 3.5gm of trans fats. It also contains over half of the daily recommendations of sodium.

* Margarine: Most margarine makers have removed trans fats from their ingredients. But you still must check. The few that still contains trans fats as high as 3gm per servings.

* French fries: You need to be cautious about where they fry your French fries in Vanaspati ghee or hydrogenated fat. Though certain food chains decided to turn healthier by becoming trans-fats free, you must care about it. But if you are cautious about health, you shouldn’t be having French fries.

Cholesterol -- a molecule normally linked with cardiovascular diseases -- may also play an important role in the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease, researchers have found.
Junk Food is highly rich in Cholesterol, pixabay

* Fried chicken: Just like French fries you need to be sure that your fried chicken has not been fried in hydrogenated oil. Same goes for fried fish.

* Frozen foods: People who are perpetually busy tend to pick up frozen meals from the supermarket. They are most likely to have trans-fat in them as they need to be kept preserved for a longer time.

* Ice creams and Indian savouries: It contains 0.5 gm of trans fat per servings. But if you read the ingredients list, the listing of partially hydrogenated oil is missing. That may be because there are naturally occurring trans fats in fat-containing dairy products which are not as dangerous as the manufactured trans fats. These products are high in calories, so one should still keep a check on their intake. Besides this, all the India savouries like Gulab Jamun, Gujhia, Laddo and Kachouri.

Ice cream bouquet in NYC
Ice cream bouquet. pixabay

* Popcorns: There is a good way and bad way to eat popcorn. The snack itself is a healthy whole grain packed with fibre. It is the extra add-on that gives it that trans-fat flag. Plain popcorn is fine but when you add butter to it(which is not real butter ), it made it loaded with trans fats with no other health benefits in it.

* Non-dairy creamers: For coffee lovers, non-dairy creamers can become an integral part of their morning. Over time, however, they can also add trans-fat to your diet. One serving contains 0 gm trans-fat, yet, for some flavours, partially hydrogenated oils are the second or third ingredients listed, which can add up if you drink multiple servings in a day. So keep a check on the portion size.

Also Read: Low Carb and High Fat Diet May Help Maintain Eyesight

* Sandwich spreads: Think twice before next time when you go out to have your sandwich with spreads if you got cholesterol concern. Trans fat occur naturally in some food like meat and While it’s not as concerning as the artificial kind added through hydrogenated oil, it doesn’t do you much good, either. Those who have heart disease, it is recommended to choose lean meat as much as possible as well as low fat or fat-free dairy products. (IANS)