Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Anise and Human Health

(Pimpinella anisum) An HERB belonging to the PARSLEY family that originated in India and was cultivated in ancient China and Egypt. The fruit, aniseed, is dried and used as a seasoning. The distinctive, licorice-like flavor of anise extract adds to the taste of shortbread cakes, such as pizella (Italy) and pains รก l’anis (France). Anise is used in certain candies. Crushed aniseed together with cinnamon and coriander is used to make a liqueur, anisette. Chopped anise leaves have been used in pickled vegetables and soups.

What is anion?

A negatively charged ion. Anions are the opposite of CATIONS, which carry positive charges. Important anions are formed when weak acids ionize. Anions, together with their cation counterparts, occur in blood and are called electrolytes. They are required to maintain the appropriate effective concentration of ions and PROTEINS in the
blood. Key anions in blood are chloride (Cl–), phosphate (H2PO4–), and bicarbonate (HCO3
Chloride (Cl–) is the predominant anion in body fluids. Neither chloride nor phosphate can be made by the body; they are essential nutrients to be supplied by the diet. Phosphate and bicarbonate ions help buffer blood at nearly a constant pH. These anions are examples of “conjugate bases,” formed when weak acids ionize.

What is angiotensin?

A protein-like hormone formed in the blood that raises blood pressure. Angiotensin contracts the muscles of CAPILLARIES and ARTERIES (vasopressor), which increases resistance for blood flow. Angiotensin is liberated by the action of RENIN, an ENZYME formed by the kidneys, on a serum PROTEIN (angiotensinogen) produced by the liver. The release of renin by the kidneys is triggered when they experience lowered blood flow, for example, due to dehydration. Angiotensin also plays an important role in the regulation of blood pressure by stimulating the ADRENAL GLANDS to secrete ALDOSTERONE. Aldosterone, in turn, promotes SODIUM retention and water retention by the kidneys, to help regulate water balance.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

What is pernicious anemia?

A form of ANEMIA caused either by a dietary deficiency of VITAMIN B12 or by inadequate B12 absorption. It is characterized by quite large red blood cells (macrocytic) that are overloaded in the hemoglobin (hyperchromic). Low vitamin B12 consumption is a concern for strict VEGETARIANS who avoid meat and meat products. Pernicious anemia is also caused by inadequate vitamin B12 uptake. Normally, the gastric lining secretes a PROTEIN called INTRINSIC FACTOR that’s needed to specifically bind vitamin B12. Because this protein is required for vitamin B12 absorption by the intestine, inadequate intrinsic factor production, even with adequate dietary B12, can cause pernicious anemia.
Pernicious anemia affects the nervous system as well as the blood. Symptoms include memory loss, weakness, personality and mood swings, and numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. If this anemia continues unchecked, nerve damage may be irreversible. Pernicious anemia is most common in males between the ages of 40 and 65 years who have a family history of the condition. Treatment for intrinsic factor defect involves vitamin B12 injections. Oral doses of vitamin B12 can remedy dietary deficiencies when intrinsic factor production is normal.

What is aplastic anemia ?

A form of ANEMIA in which the numbers of RED BLOOD CELLS as well as white cells are reduced. This type of anemia is caused by exposure to chemicals (such as solvents), toxic heavy metals, some drugs like chloramphenicol, or ionizing radiation (like X rays). Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and lead poisoning can damage bone marrow, thus reducing red blood cell production. Both the blood platelet count and immunity decline, with a concomitant increased susceptibility to infection. Destruction of the bone marrow is potentially life-threatening.

Why Do You Have Anemia?

A condition characterized by subnormal levels of HEMOGLOBIN, the oxygen-binding PROTEIN in blood. Half a million Americans are at risk for anemia, including 40 percent of pregnant women, pre-menopausal women, vegans (those who eat no animal products), adolescents relying on JUNK FOOD diets, infants, and children with inadequate diets.
Anemia may result from either an inadequate number of RED BLOOD CELLS (erythrocytes) or an abnormally low hemoglobin content of red blood cells. With deficient functional red blood cells, the oxygen supply to tissues is inadequate for optimal RESPIRATION, causing shortness of breath, FATIGUE, weakness, pallor, headache, and lowered resistance to infection. There are two general types of anemia based on red blood cell size. Megaloblastic anemia is characterized by large red blood cells; their shortened life span results in a decreased number of cells. Microcytic anemia is characterized by small red blood cells with reduced hemoglobin content. Many nutritional deficiencies lead to anemia. Inadequate dietary IRON, COPPER, FOLIC ACID, PROTEIN,
VITAMIN B6, vitamin B12, VITAMIN C, VITAMIN A, VITAMIN E, and RIBOFLAVIN can cause this condition. Each of these nutrients is required for the production of red blood cells (ERYTHROPOIESIS). Iron deficiency anemia is the most common diet-related anemia in the United States and it represents the last stage of iron deficiency. It is characterized by small, pale red blood cells (microcytic anemia), due to chronic blood loss or inadequate iron intake. Symptoms include FATIGUE, pallor, and shortness of breath. Studies of the nutritional status of developed nations have routinely found up to 30 percent of a population with iron deficiency. Groups that are at highest risk are children under the age of two years, teenage women, pregnant women, and the elderly. Pregnancy drastically increases the requirement of iron. In terms of blood loss the most common causes of iron deficiency are excessive bleeding during menstruation and intestinal bleeding due to parasites, ulcers, or malignancy. Iron deficiency can be caused by impaired iron uptake by the intestine, due to a lack of stomach acid (ACHLORHYDRIA) or from chronic DIARRHEA. With iron deficiency, the resulting anemia can be treated by iron supplementation.
Deficiencies of either folacin or vitamin B12 can cause anemia because each is essential for DNA synthesis and deficiencies impair erythrocyte production. Folic acid deficiency is much more common because folic acid stores in the body are small, yet folic acid participates in many biosynthetic reactions. On the other hand, vitamin B12 is stored in the LIVER, and only trace amounts are required daily for a few specific functions. Anemia due to inadequate folic acid and vitamin B12 produces large (macrocytic) cells with a short life span. This form of anemia can occur when intake of fresh vegetables is very limited, or when the need for folic acid outstrips intake, as may occur during pregnancy or in ALCOHOLISM. Treatment with folic acid can ameliorate megaloblastic anemia, yet mask an underlying vitamin B12 deficiency. This point emphasizes that treatment of anemia requires expert medical supervision.
Anemia can also indicate a serious condition unrelated to diet. Non-nutritional causes of anemia include chronic blood loss and congenital defects in red blood cell formation, such as thalassemia or sickle cell anemia, due to mutant hemoglobins, and spherocytosis (spherical red blood cells). Hemolytic anemia is the result of excessive hemolysis (destruction of red blood cells) in susceptible people exposed to bacterial toxins, toxic chemicals, or drugs that may produce JAUNDICE.
Anemia also may result from reduced nutrient uptake due to the presence of parasites and chronic infections, gastrointestinal disease or bowel resection

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Foods and anaphylaxis

An extreme reaction of the immune system in response to exposure to foreign substances. Insect bites, drugs, injected serum, and certain foods can create anaphylaxis. This abnormal response or immediate hypersensitivity is usually very rapid in susceptible individuals who may have been sensitized by previous exposure, and may produce shock (“anaphylactic shock”). The massive release of histamines and other inflammatory agents leads to spasming of smooth muscles, especially those of the air passageways, and to widespread swelling due to the increased water leaking out of capillaries. Symptoms range from asthma to fever, itching, hives, and flushed skin in mild cases, to chest constriction, irregular pulse, painful, labored breathing, and convulsions in severe cases. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and may require emergency room care.