Wednesday July 24, 2019

Economics among bacteria: Even microbes in our body trade for survival

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Photo credit: livescience.com
Photo credit: jonlieffmd.com

New York: Economic concepts not just explain about how societies buy, sell, and trade goods and services but can also explore the mysteries about the behaviour of microbial life on the earth and inside our body, a study says.

Microbes are everywhere – in the air, soil, and even inside the human body.

Although microbes are ubiquitous, they interact with each other in complicated ways that are not well understood.

A large fraction of microbial life exists in complex communities where the exchange of molecules and proteins is vital for their survival.

They trade these essential resources to promote their own growth in ways that are similar to countries that exchange goods in modern economic markets.

Researchers from Claremont Graduate University, Boston University and Columbia University applied the general equilibrium theory of economics — which explains the exchange of resources in complex economies — to understand the trade of resources in microbial communities.

The researchers experimented with a synthetic consortium of Escherichia coli cells.

They manipulated the cells’ DNA to artificially alter the production and export rate of the cells, and then tested the population growth implications of the theory.

As trade increased, the bacterial communities grew faster, the results said.

While all of the microbes benefited from trade, the more a bacteria strain exported, the slower it grew relative to the importing bacteria strain.

“That means that species face a trade off between growing their communities faster versus increasing their own population relative to that of a trading partner,” said Joshua Tasoff, economics professor at Claremont Graduate University.

“The results open the door for the application of other economic concepts that could improve our understanding of microbial and other biological communities,” Tasoff said.

The results were published in the open access journal PLOS ONE.

(IANS)

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Study: Intake of Dietary Supplements May do More Harm than Benefit

The doctor suggested that people should include more green vegetables in their diet

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dietary supplements
According to the study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, supplements combining calcium and vitamin D may be linked to a slightly increased stroke risk. Pixabay

Researchers have found that intake of some vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements may not benefit the heart and, in some cases, may even prove to be injurious.

According to the study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, supplements combining calcium and vitamin D may be linked to a slightly increased stroke risk. However, there was no evidence that calcium or vitamin D taken alone had any health risks or benefits.

“Our analysis carries a simple message that although there may be some evidence that a few interventions have an impact on death and cardiovascular health, the vast majority of multivitamins, minerals and different types of diets had no measurable effect on survival or cardiovascular disease risk reduction,” said study lead author Safi U. Khan, Assistant Professor at the West Virginia University.

For the study, the researchers used data from 277 randomised clinical trials that evaluated 16 vitamins or other supplements and eight diets for their association with mortality or heart conditions including coronary heart disease, stroke and heart attack.

dietary supplements
“People should focus on getting their nutrients from a heart-healthy diet, because the data increasingly show that the majority of healthy adults don’t need to take supplements,” Michos said. Wikimedia Commons

They included data gathered on 992,129 research participants worldwide. The analysis showed possible health benefits only from a low-salt diet, omega-3 fatty acid supplements and possibly folic acid supplements for some people.

“The panacea or magic bullet that people keep searching for in dietary supplements isn’t there,” said senior author of the study Erin Michos from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US.

“People should focus on getting their nutrients from a heart-healthy diet, because the data increasingly show that the majority of healthy adults don’t need to take supplements,” Michos said.

According to Abhishek Singh, Consultant Cardiologist at Columbia Asia Hospital in Ghaziabad, dietary supplements do not have a measurably positive impact on cardiac health.

dietary supplements
The doctor suggested that people should include more green vegetables in their diet. Pixabay

“It’s more important to follow a healthy dietary regimen and avoid foods that are bad for the heart. Trans fatty acids are harmful and have to be curtailed. Refined sugars and simple carbohydrates are to be kept at a minimum,” Singh told IANS.

The doctor suggested that people should include more green vegetables in their diet. They are rich in vitamin K and dietary nitrates, which help protect the arteries and reduce blood pressure, he said.

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“Studies like this raise concerns about harm from calcium and Vitamin D supplement use. As far as Vitamin D supplements (without calcium) are concerned, there has been no evidence on whether it has any impact on cardiovascular disease risk reduction,” Anupama Singh, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine at Vimhans Nayati Super Specialty Hospital in Delhi, told IANS.

“The quality of the evidence base of these various nutritional supplements and dietary interventions still needs to be evaluated to ascertain the effectiveness of the study,” she added. (IANS)