Seasonality is observed in almost all infectious diseases. This seasonality is observed in respiratory infections such as influenza, to diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera and vector-borne diseases such as malaria. Factors that are involved in the seasonality of infectious diseases are environment and host immunity.
‘Bear in Mind’ Blog
A selection of thoughts, opinions and ideas by our faculty.
The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word Yug which means to join. Yoga enhances joining of body and mind, and also of Atman (soul) and Brahman (supersoul), which is the ultimate aim of Ashtanga Yoga (eightfold path of Yoga)/Raja Yoga (Royal Yoga).
Scientific studies have proven many beneficial effects of yoga on the brain, central nervous system, lungs, heart, muscles, bones, blood pressure, quality of sleep, lipid profile and immune system.
Exercise has many beneficial effects on health.
Benefits on Mental Health
Not only does exercise decrease stress and prevent depression and improve/maintain a good mood and mental function by affecting hormones involved in mood like serotonin and endorphin. It also improves the quality of sleep by affecting melatonin production.
Benefits on Physical Health
Exercise boosts the immune system, reduces tendency for blood clotting. Further effects include reduction of blood pressure, prevention of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases. Very interestingly exercise can prevent serious diseases like diabetes and cancers, particularly breast and colon cancer. Importantly, it slows down bone loss and ageing and improves sex life. 15 minutes of exercise on a daily basis already slows down ageing.
Sugar belongs to the group of carbohydrates and can have several detrimental effects on our health. Sugars are relatively small molecules, which give a short energy boost but they leave the bloodstream quickly due to their small size quickly bringing down our energy. Excess intake of sugars leads to conversion into free fatty acids in the liver which contributes to the development of obesitas.
Biology of Sleep
Light is of key importance in regulating sleep and the production of sleep hormone melatonin. The circadian clock coordinates biology and behaviour of humans with daily environmental changes in the day-night cycle. During daytime light inhibits photosensitive cells in the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus (part of the brain) preventing signalling to the pineal gland, thereby preventing production of melatonin which is the key substance in induction of sleep. When light in the environment starts to decrease, the photosensitive cells in the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus are activated and signal via the superior cervical ganglion to the pineal gland, which produces melatonin. Melatonin is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid i.e. an amino acid that cannot be synthesized de novo, but is solely derived from nutrition. Tryptophan is also the source for synthesis of serotonin and from serotonin, melatonin is eventually made. To ensure a good mood and sleep, it is important to include sufficient amounts of tryptophan in your diet, which is present in high amounts in protein-rich food: oat, bananas, dried prunes, milk, tuna, cheese, poultry, bread and some seeds. The recommended daily intake of tryptophan ranges from 250 to 425 mg.
Factors influencing skin ageing
Factors affecting skin ageing include sun exposure, stress, inflammation, sugars, smoking and alcohol. The effects of these factors include dehydration, lower blood supply to the skin and hence decrease of nutrients to the skin, decreased collagen production, increased collagenase production and induction of an inflammatory response.
Free radicals are reactive chemical species having a single unpaired electron. This is an unstable conformation leading to reactions with adjacent molecules: proteins, lipids and nucleic acids. Oxygen radicals are the predominant radicals formed in nature which are generated by UV irradiation, metal catalysed reactions, immune cells and mitochondria (power plants of a cell). Reactive oxygen species (ROS) damage is implicated in ageing & age-dependent diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington disease).
What is meditation?
When active concentration is uninterrupted without a single disturbing thought one is meditating. This state is not that easy to reach. Fortunately, hard and disciplined practice will make perfect!
Nowadays in modern society everyone is experiencing stress in different situations. Stress is the result of too much physical and/or psychological strain. The body protects itself by reacting according to a standardised reaction pattern: the stress response. Stress can be induced by too much work in too less time, anxiety, depression and many more situations. Too much stress is detrimental to human health. Short term stress leads to suppression of the immune system resulting in a higher vulnerability of falling ill, increase in heart rate, increased blood pressure and inhibits insulin production which leads to increased availability of energy. In the long term stress leads to decreased cognition, worsened thyroid gland function (important for metabolism), accumulation of body fat which has implications for cardiovascular health and ‘burn-out’. Moreover, stress leads to accelerated ageing.
The human body is built out of approximately 20% proteins. Proteins form the basis of all life processes, since they are absolutely essential for each metabolic process and amino acids form the building blocks for proteins.