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Wearable, smart technologies are transforming the ability to monitor and improve health, but a decidedly low-tech commodity — the humble toilet — may have the potential to outperform them all, a new study suggests.
The Coon Research Group is designing a toilet that will incorporate a portable mass spectrometer that can recognise the individual and process samples across a variety of subjects.
Coon also believes the “smart toilet” concept could have major population health implications .
For the study, published in the journal Nature Digital Medicine, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Morgridge Institute for Research are working to put the tremendous range of metabolic health information contained in urine to work for personalised medicine.
“We’re pretty sure we can design a toilet that could sample urine. I think the real challenge is we’re going to have to invest in the engineering to make this instrument simple enough and cheap enough. That’s where this will either go far or not happen at all,” said study lead author Joshua Coon.
Urine contains a virtual liquid history of an individual’s nutritional habits, exercise, medication use, sleep patterns and other lifestyle choices.
Urine also contains metabolic links to more than 600 human conditions, including some of the major killers such as cancer, diabetes and kidney disease.
For the study, two research subjects consistently collected all urine samples over a 10-day period, submitted those samples for tests with both gas chromatography and mass spectrometry for a complete readout of metabolic signatures.
The two subjects also happen to be lead authors on the paper– Joshua Coon and Ian Miller. However, the sample size used in the study is too small.
Collectively they provided 110 samples over the 10-day period, and also used wearable technology to track heart rates and steps, calorie consumption and sleep patterns.
The samples do indeed contain a remarkable health fingerprint that follows the ebbs and flows of daily life.
For example, the subjects kept records of coffee and alcohol consumption, and the biomarkers with a known connection to both those drinks were abundantly measured.
One subject took acetaminophen, which was measured in urine by a spike in ion intensity.
The metabolic outputs from exercise and sleep could also be measured with precision.
While the pilot experiment didn’t examine health questions, many possibilities exist.
For example, testing could show how an individual metabolises certain types of prescription drugs, in ways that could be healthy or dangerous.
Also, as the population gets older with more stay-at-home care, urine tests would indicate whether medications are being taken properly and are having their intended effect.
“If you had tens of thousands of users and you could correlate that data with health and lifestyle, you could then start to have real diagnostic capabilities, it might provide early warning of viral or bacterial outbreaks,” Coon said. (IANS)
By N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe
Kanchan Rai, Mental and Emotional Well-being Coach, Founder, Let Us Talk, mentions ways to turn your loneliness into action this season:
Say yes to socializing: When we are experiencing loneliness, it can be easy to slip into the habit of saying no to social activities. Seclusion can make it challenging to feel driven and the mere thought of physically seeing people can lead to stress. Hence it is recommended to saying yes to mingling to help build your confidence. Something as simple as going for a walk with a friend or chatting with your loved ones over the phone can make a huge difference.
Make the most of technology: For those with distant loved ones, technology can prove to be an enabler in helping to keep family traditions alive. For instance, celebrate the festive cheer virtually or opening festive gifts on video calls amidst all family members. Taking a moment to network with someone, communicating about shared interests or fond memories, even if it's online, can play a major role in reminding us of the good times.
Keywords: Loneliness, action, socialise, technology, stress speak, share, friends
To create a group, hold the control button and choose the tabs you want to include, then select "Add tabs to new group" from the right-click menu, Engadget reported on Friday. Users can customise the label with a different colour for each group. When users hover over a tab, they will be able to see a preview of the web page as well.
Microsoft Edge is also getting some handy shopping features, the report said. The browser can give swift access to reviews and ratings for more than 5 million products. When users are on a product page, they can click the blue tag on the address bar and see expert reviews from reliable sources, as well as the average consumer star rating from various retailers.
When they do figure out what to buy, Microsoft aims to help them complete the transaction a bit faster. The new personalised news feed called Microsoft Start is integrated into the browser. Users will see headlines and articles relevant to their interests from a range of publishers when they open a new tab. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: microsoft, edge, update, tab groups, browser, shopping, address bar
When you think of the colours on your plate, do you ever think of black? Well, its time you do! As they are the new power food. We all know greens, yellows and reds are loaded with nutrients -- so are the lesser spoken about black ones too!
What are black foods? Foods with the pigments called anthocyanins are known as black foods. Anthocyanins are found in black, blue and purple coloured foods and have hidden nutrients and benefits galore. These pigments have rich anti-oxidant properties which promote health and have the potential to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke. They play a huge role in immunity. They are fun, healthy, offbeat and make for a nice visual treat too.
Abhilasha V, HOD and Chief Clinical Nutritionist -- Cloudnine group of hospitals, Bengaluru, few interesting ones and their benefits:
Cultivated in South East Asian belt, this rice has a nutty flavour and can be used in many recipes. In China this was known as the Forbidden rice in ancient times as it was reserved for only royalty. Now, some parts of north East India grow black rice too. They are loaded with lutien and zeaxanthin and promote good eye health. They have cancer fighting properties due to their high anti-oxidant and fiber content. They can be used in puddings, stir fries, risotto, porridge, noodles, bread and even makes a great idea for a good kheer!
Cultivated in South East Asian belt, this rice has a nutty flavour and can be used in many recipes. | Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash
A closer to home surprise! Indians have used black dal since ages. They are used as gravies and in mixed dal preparations. They are rich in fibre, iron, folate and protein and can be quite delicious too.
A closer to home surprise! Indians have used black dal since ages | Pixabay
With the western influence on our eating habits, it has brought along a long list of good foods. Olives are one of them and they are versatile in their flavour. They can be added to salads, pastas, stir fries and some pickles and drinks too. Olives contain monounsaturated fats, Vitamin E, Polyphenols and oleocanthal -- which is a strong anti-inflammatory and pain-killer compound found in olives. This little power-packed food can protect your arteries from clogging, maintain eye health, prevent DNA damage, promote good skin health and also hair health.
Olives can be added to salads, pastas, stir fries and some pickles and drinks too. | Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash
Black sesame seeds
Commonly known as Til, they come with a huge bunch of benefits, loaded with fibre, protein, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcim, zinc, copper, selenium and Vitamin E. It also contains sesamin, which helps reduce inflammation and plays a vital role in joint pain. Yes! All of that in a daily allowance of 1-2 teaspoons can do wonders for your health. They can be used in salads as garnish, in laddoos, in breads, smoothies, soups, hummus, dips and even tahini. They can be consumed soaked, sprouted, baked or roasted too.
Commonly known as Til, they come with a huge bunch of benefits, loaded with fibre, protein, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcim, zinc, copper, selenium and Vitamin E. | Photo by Lluvia Morales on Unsplash
Known for their sweet taste and popular flavour, black grapes are a favourite for many. This seasonal fruit has a host of benefits to give us. Black grapes contain Lutein, Zeaxanthin which prevents retinal damage and macular degeneration. Resveratrol in grapes are known to have anti-cancer properties and have a huge protective effect on cardiac health by lowering LDL levels too. Proanthocyanidins present in this fruit has great benefits for skin health too. Use these grapes in salads, smoothies, jams, and even good old curd rice!
Black grapes contain Lutein, Zeaxanthin which prevents retinal damage and macular degeneration. | Photo by Tina Vanhove on Unsplash
Yes you heard that right. Well these aren't naturally found, but develop this colour due to a process that turns them black and used widely in Asian cuisine. It is regular white garlic that has been fermented or aged. It possesses a caramelized, savoury richness that adds flavour to stir fries, meat bakes, rice and noodles preparations and soups too. These have properties that prevent cell damage and hence protect us from cancers. Black garlic contains more anti-oxidants [almost 2X] than its white counterpart.So why wait -add them in small doses into your meals and let your health thrive.
Black Garlic possesses a caramelized, savoury richness that adds flavour to stir fries, meat bakes, rice and noodles preparations and soups too. | Wikimedia Commons
* Advantages: As mentioned above they come with a host of benefits such as anti-cancer, anti-ageing, good for eye, heart, skin and hair health too.
* Disadvantages: Nothing in particular. There are no real toxicities associated with these foods that are reported and are considered generally safe, but always do remember, too much of anything is not the rule in nutrition.
* Points to remember: Always ensure you have a balanced diet that contains all food groups, myriad colours, nutrients and varieties -- choose in moderation and build them into your daily meal plan with the help of a nutritionist. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Black, food, nutrition, black pulses, til, grapes, garlic, sesame, olive, rice