24 June 2016

GM mustard, a matter of concern

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Mustard is one of the chief condiments in Indian kitchens. It’s also used as cooking oil, oil cake, and mustard greens are one of the commonly eaten vegetables. The consumption of GM mustard will have a devastating impact on our health if commercial cultivation of the GM crop in India gets the Central Government’s approval.

GM mustard, a matter of concern

Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11 is a genetically modified (GM) variety of mustard, cultivated by the Delhi University. Abbreviated as DMH-11, it involves the combination of genes taken from the tobacco plant and various bacteria.

GM mustard was engineered to boost the production of mustard to meet the ever-growing demand for edible oil in the country. The plant is manipulated to be resistant to a highly-poisonous glufosinate, a broad-spectrum herbicide and to fight droughts, salinity and natural disasters, with low input.

The manufacturing company claims that the gene modification will increase mustard productivity by 20-25 per cent and bring down the price of mustard oil in the country.

The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee has deferred granting commercial approval to a genetically-modified mustard. As per ICAR, a new variety of seed is permitted for commercialization only if it is at least 10% more productive than an existing variety. If this is not satisfied in any stage of the trial, the seed is not considered again. As per this, the Coalition say that the GM mustard trials should have ended in 2006-07, as it did not pass this rule.

Genetic engineering enables scientists to create plants, animals and micro-organisms by manipulating genes in a way that does not occur naturally.

These genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can spread through nature and interbreed with natural organisms, thereby contaminating non 'GE' environments and future generations in an unforeseeable and uncontrollable way.

The polluting genes which contaminate biodiversity can’t be exterminated and weeded out from the ecosystem food products can also be contaminated directly genetically, or mixed with GM food. Already India has been gripping with various non communicable epidemics GM mustard might lead to congenital birth disorders, reproductive disorders, endocrine disruption, nervous disorder, Parkinson’s disease etc.

Exploitation of farmers as GM seeds can’t be stored or re-used, and need to be purchased from the manufacturer every year and the infertility of GM seeds have also been major issues.

Thus the high risk caused by herbicide resistant crops makes Indian farmers and NGOs to resist to GM crops.

22 June 2016

The two sides of Paleo diet

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Other names: Caveman’s diet, Stone Age diet

The concept of the Paleolithic Diet is to get back to ancient times. This dietary approach focuses on foods like meat, fish, plenty of fruit and vegetables as well as nuts and insists to forego all the processed foods, dairy products, cereal grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, and foods that are very high in salt content.

Now have a look at the paleo diet ...


The two sides of Paleo diet
  • The present-day paleo diet trend is believed to bring positive health for both individuals and society as a whole. People who go paleo currently are those who are sick, for whom modern drugs have failed and those who are seeking performance. Since paleo diet excludes processed foods that constitutes only empty calories, there is no doubt that this diet has a high nutrient density and sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals.
  • These foods digest slowly, keeping blood sugar levels stable throughout the day. Stable blood sugar eliminates the energy and mood swings that can result from a diet high in processed carbs and refined sugar.
  • Researches have pointed out that paleo diet resulted in notable weight loss over a short period of time. The weight loss is linked with the reduction of carbohydrates and the increase in protein.
  • The Paleo diet depends profoundly on whole meats, vegetables and fruits which lessens the body's glycemic load, has a healthy ratio of saturated-to-unsaturated fatty acids, increases vitamin and nutrient consumption, and contains an optimal balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
  • It’s easy to adhere to. Doesn’t involve counting or measuring.

Have another look at the paleo diet

According to thepaleodiet.com, “the Paleo Easy Diet, the world’s healthiest diet, is based upon the fundamental concept that the optimal diet is the one to which we are genetically adapted.”

  • The dispute that arise about the paleo diet is that paleo type of eating pattern was followed before 2.5 million years ago and our ancient hominids were hunters and gatherers those days. Our genome has changed since the Paleolithic period, meaning our bodies are not adapted to the diet of that time and there exist some key differences in our genomes from those of a Paleolithic hominid.
  • Just as our genome has evolved since Paleolithic times, plant and animal genomes have also radically changed, largely due to human influence. So, when we eat according to the Paleo Diet, we follow only the modern-Paleo Diet, not the Paleo-Paleo Diet.
  • Experts add that many people do not balance between meat and plant intake. Consuming excess protein and not enough carbs can cause kidney damage and also increase your risk of osteoporosis. Moreover, most of today's meats are higher in saturated fat than those of yesteryear, it can increase the risk of heart disease.
  • Avoiding refined sugars and overly processed meats is good for health. But skipping out legumes, dairy, and multi-grain cereals, which are prohibited in the paleo diet for a prolonged time could lead to deficiencies of key nutrients including iodine, sodium, and calcium, as well as “significant reductions” in thiamine, riboflavin, vitamins A, C, and E, beta-carotene, folic acid and iron.
  • Adopting our ancestral lifestyle can be challenging on an individual level, but the movement itself also faces obstacles culturally. Cereal play an important role in many traditional religions. For example, in Christianity, The Lord’s Prayer clearly says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” In Hinduism, rice holds great spiritual and ritual significance.
  • Emphasis on Physical Activity: Increased physical activity is an integral part of the Paleolithic Plan as calories from meat are to be burnt. Surviving in the Stone Age meant a constant on-the-go lifestyle that probably required very high calories a day.
  • Paleo dieters often find it difficult to dine out or grab meals on the go. Fast food is often out of the question, as are most nonperishable options, excluding nuts. Paleo is expensive too.

Bottom line

All these views are not intended to emphasize any kind of particular diet. Be it a Paleo diet, Akins diet, Nordic diet, must be suggested by an expert. Dietary approaches should be individualized based on ones metabolic profile. If you really want to be Paleo for a long time, then instill some modern technologies into it.


Image Credit: Flickr/ zsoolt

11 June 2016

The Best Formula for Anti-Aging

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Even Gerontologists are obscure about the causative reasons behind ageing. Scientists postulate that aging might be due to some predetermined cell programming, genetics, oxidative stress, mental stress, the food we eat, lifestyle and so on …

The Best Formula for Anti-aging
  • Free radical theory of aging suggests that free radicals formed endogenously as by-products of normal metabolic process are the reason behind aging. Thus chronic free radical activity contributes to decline in the function of cells leading to aging process.
  • Vegetables, fruits, spices are well known to be important sources of antioxidant vitamins, and minerals, along with carotenoids, polyphenols, and other phytochemicals.
  • Adipose tissue once thought as an energy storage organ plays a crucial part in longevity and development of age-related diseases Excess or dysfunctional fat tissue stimulates the incidence of degenerative diseases while interventions that delay or limit fat tissue are associated with boosting the longevity.
  • Include higher percent of unsaturated fats than saturated fats. A sufficient intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega­3 and omega­6 fatty acids) is importantas they play a critical role. Omega­3 fatty acids can be found in fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, anchovies, and sardines, and nuts.Food sources of omega­6 fatty acids include vegetable oils, such as soybean, safflower, and corn oil, nuts and seeds.
  • Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are a group of irreversible compounds formed during a nonenzymatic browning reaction between reducing sugars and free amino groups of proteins, lipids, or nucleic acids.
  • AGEs are formed exogenously from foods processed at high temperatures, as well as from tobacco smoking. Whether on the grill, in a skillet, or in the oven, browning or charring foods is an indication that AGEs are present. Cooking foods in high temperature , dry heat methods also enhances AGEs formation.
  • Calorie restriction especially consuming plant foods improves longevity. Even though we consume the most nutritious food, the digestive process causes some degree of oxidative stress on the body. Simple foods are easier to digest than complex foods.
  • The simplest foods are plant-based. The higher you eat up the food chain the more difficult it is for the body to digest.

Above all, healthy lifestyle like refraining from smoking and drinking, exercising regularly, inhaling fresh air, exposure to sunshine, drinking pure water, positive thinking and learning to tackle stress also improves your longevity.


Image Credit: Flickr/ Vladimir Pustovit