With life expectancy increasing all over the world, there is a significant increase in age-related health issues. Complications related to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and dementia are some of the most common causes of death in adults over 65. September is World Alzheimer’s Month, an annual campaign promoted by Alzheimer’s Disease International.
More than two years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that claimed up to 6.5 million deaths, the world is still struggling to find an effective solution to preventing this infection. Despite global spending of roughly $100 billion (a figure that could rise to $160 billion by 2025) on the COVID-19 vaccines, currently used vaccines are not effective against preventing infections and viral spread and can only lessen severe symptoms of COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 has been undergoing numerous mutations and currently about 90% of COVID-19 cases involve the Omicron variant. Although these variant infections are less severe than caused by the original strain, Omicron spreads faster and is dangerous for the immunocompromised and high-risk individuals.
In our previous Health Science News Page, we discussed that although biological changes in the female body such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, lactation, and menopause are natural, they represent major physiological transitions. They are accompanied by both changes in the body appearance as well as the functioning of various organs including the nervous, cardiovascular, and immune systems which undergo several changes under the influence of hormones. Many of these changes make women more prone to autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular problems, mental health issues, and others, and require appropriate nutritional support to mitigate or prevent these problems.
The nutritional requirements of men and women are very different. A woman’s body needs extra nutritional support during various physiological transitions such as puberty, monthly menstruation, pregnancy, lactation, and menopause. Women are affected by different health problems than men. Autoimmune diseases, arthritis, osteoporosis, and depression are diagnosed more frequently in women. Despite popular belief that heart disease develops mainly in men, 1 in 4 menopausal women dies from heart disease making it the major cause of death in American women. In order to function optimally the female body needs specific nutrients to provide bio-energy to the cells of the nervous, immune, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems.
Although many chronic health conditions increase the severity of COVID-19, it has been observed that diabetes patients are at significantly higher risk of serious disease, complications, and death from COVID-19. Currently, 1 in 11 adults in the world has diabetes, and it is estimated that by 2050 almost 1 in 3 people will have diabetes or pre-diabetes. More than 34 million Americans have diabetes and 7.5 million have pre-diabetes.
Humans have more microbes in and on their body than the number of cells. Trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi live in the human digestive system and most of them are beneficial bacteria. Collectively they are called “gut microbiome” or “gut flora” and they are essential for a number of physiological functions to keep us healthy. The gut microbiome is now considered as one of the organs in the human body, and hence should be taken care of just like all other organs. Probiotics are the supplemental form of healthy bacterial colonies used to replenish the gut microbes. It is important to have a balanced bacterial population in the digestive system. Any imbalance in the digestive microbial environment is called dysbiosis.
Marine plants, either marine algae or seaweeds, were part of the daily diet of our ancestors and have been consumed in different parts of Asia for centuries. Although plants like kelp, nori, dulce, and spirulina are more commonly used in sushi, Asian soups, snacks, or seasonings, there are many other varieties of sea plants packed with important nutrients. These sea vegetables absorb beneficial nutrients from the ocean and are very good sources of protein, fiber, healthy polyunsaturated fats, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals. For example, after iodized salt they are the second richest source of iodine, and it is well known that iodine is critical for a healthy thyroid gland. Thyroid hormones - thyroxine (T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3) - play a vital role in growth and development of the body and in regulating various metabolic processes, including basic metabolic rate, healthy functioning of the brain, heart, immune and digestive systems, and building strong muscles and bones. Two sea plants which contain critical nutrients for overall health are Irish moss and bladderwrack.
In addition to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and the omicron wave, the flu season is also upon us. As we have already learned, the RNA/DNA vaccines have severe limitations in preventing coronavirus infections, emerging viral mutants and their spread, and seasonal anti-flu vaccines cannot keep up with the viral mutations. It is difficult to protect ourselves from every single infectious agent unless our own immunity is strong. Most of the antivirals weaken the immune system and cause other side effects. It is critical to address the fundamental mechanisms of infection and increase the immunity of the human population.
Diabetes is the one of the fastest growing non-communicable diseases worldwide. It is associated with high blood sugar levels, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and kidney problems. It increases one’s risk of serious COVID-19 outcomes, as 40% of people who have died of COVID-19 also had diabetes. Currently, 1 in 11 adults in the world has diabetes, and it is estimated that by 2050 almost 1 in 3 people will have diabetes or pre-diabetes. More than 34 million Americans have diabetes and 7.5 million have pre-diabetes. With such staggering statistics, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has declared November as Diabetes Awareness Month to prevent and effectively manage this disease.
Despite availability of vaccines, more than 2000 people die every day in the US alone due to COVID-19 and approximately 133,000 new cases are reported daily.1 Currently, more than 182 million Americans, or 54%, are considered fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, and approximately 64% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose. However, reports indicate that vaccine efficacy reduces with time and booster doses are now recommended despite a lack of unity from the FDA and CDC experts in accepting this step. Moreover, new variants of the coronavirus further complicate the picture, and “breakthrough infections” in the fully vaccinated are on the rise. This situation calls for the revision of current approaches and incorporation of innovative health strategies that are effective, economic, and accepted by the majority of people worldwide.