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A Study of How Space Changes the Health of One Astronaut Twins While The Other On Earth

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Scott and Mark Kelly, twins that look almost exactly the same inside and out, make them the ideal subjects to check and compare their bodies to the contrasts of living in different environments.

NASA took the opportunity to study the effects of what space travel would do to a human body – so they tried the experiment on one twin being up in space, while the other being down on Earth, living like a normal person in their natural environment.

Scott Kelly was to stay up in the International Space Station for one year, living like an astronaut in the presence of little to no gravity. The experiment lasted one year, from March 27, 2015, to March 2, 2016. Throughout Scott’s journey, scientists would study the twins and compare them from molecular, psychological, and behavioral angles to spot any change in them.

The findings, published in April 2019 in a journal would give insight if we would one day travel to Mars or beyond. According to the journal;

Scott’s overall health was optimal during his stay, but scientists did notice a few small changes in his body.

The ends of Scott’s chromosomes, known as telomeres, seem to elongate, but they aren’t sure of what effects it could happen on him.

The difference involves the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes, known as telomeres. These bits of genetic material are biomarkers of aging and potential health risk, says study coauthor Susan Bailey, a health researcher at Colorado State University.

While aboard the ISS, Scott’s telomeres became elongated, although it’s hard to know at this stage what, if any, effects that might have.

Researchers also found abnormalities such as inversions and translocations in some of Scott’s chromosomes and some damage to his DNA, as well as changes in his gene expression. Beyond these genetic effects, Scott developed thickening in his retina and in his carotid artery.

There were also shifts in Scott’s gut microbiome that differed from those of his Earth-bound twin.

Upon his return, more than 90 percent of Scott’s genes returned to normal expression levels, but some small changes persisted. And while most of his elongated telomeres quickly returned to typical length upon return, some became even shorter than they were pre-flight. This shortening may be a concern that merits further study in other astronauts, Bailey says in an email, “because short telomeres have been associated with reduced fertility” along with dementia, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers.

Still, this does not necessarily prove anything yet, cautions Carol Greider, a Nobel prize-winning molecular biologist who was not involved with the study. “We do not know the telomere length correlation and fluctuations of twins on Earth,” she writes in an email, “so there is no expectation of what might be found.”

Some chromosomal inversions also persisted, Bailey says, “and so could contribute to genomic instability, which could increase risk of developing cancer.” In the months after Scott returned, researchers also noticed a persistent reduction in his cognitive skills.

“It wasn’t getting worse, but it also was not getting any better,” says study coauthor Matthias Basner of the University of Pennsylvania’s department of sleep and psychiatry.

Does that mean that staying in space for a year makes you sick and less smart?
Definitely not. First of all, the entire research team emphasizes the shortcomings of this study’s extremely small sample size.

“The big caveat is that this is only an n equals one,” Basner says, referring to the shorthand scientists use to represent the number of samples or participants in a study. “If you count Mark, it’s at best n equals two.” Without studying many more test subjects, it’s impossible to know for sure whether these effects on Scott’s health are specific to his particular physiology or generally representative of most people under similar conditions.

“Any persistent changes were very small and would need to be replicated in additional astronauts before attributing them to spaceflight, or even differences from normal variation,” says study coauthor Andy Feinberg of Johns Hopkins University.

Though, this study does not determine definitively what true space travel would do to the human body, since the ISS is still influenced in our planet’s magnetic field, not like the deep space that’s far from the range of our planet where it’s not protected from harmful cosmic radiation.

Also, the limited supply of Scott’s blood also makes it hard to get a thorough study of the effects of space travel, since the sample would need to travel back to Earth – landing in Russia to be transported to labs all around the world.

Scott also could not be giving more blood than usual, because it was for “his own safety”.

NASA is planning to do more studies like this by sending astronauts off beyond low-Earth orbits, like the moon, or even further.

In the near future, NASA hopes that they would be able to equip the astronauts with the ability to go through such a daring act.

Source: National Geographic, Wired

Health

Due To Their Loss of Smell, Covid-19 Survivors Have To Get Creative In The Kitchen

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Dr. Alex Yeats who is an emergency physician has taken out an amazing dinner option one day. According to his wife, she has nothing to do with it even though it does look so appetizing. Sarah Yeats who is an emergency nurse from Atlantic Beach, Florida said, “It was black bean pasta with almonds and turmeric chunks and I was like ‘I’m not eating that, it’s disgusting”.

The husband and wife work at a hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. Sarah Yeats had contracted Covid-19 at work and brought it home in August.

According to a report, people who have been contracted with COVID-19 usually lost much of their sense of smell and also taste. The condition is called Anosmia which means a condition known as “smell blindness” or even loss of smell. This is actually a common symptom of COVID-19. Despite having the symptom, people still need to eat and of course, they have to modify their meals as a result.

Picture: Google

Because of the restriction of not having the ability to smell and taste correct, they have to be creative when they are preparing their meal so that they get enough flavor and nutrition in their meal for them to eat. These are some simple tricks that they follow to be creative in the kitchen:

1) Serving New Flavor Combinations On The Table

Dr. Marta Becker who is an otolaryngologist said, “Some sensations of our food such as spicy hot pepper, mintiness are things we experience with the hot and cold sensors of our mouth”. She also added, “You can get the acid, heat, even saltiness, but not the layers of things like cilantro and chipotle”. Because of that, texture, color, and even rituals around cooking have become more important to some people right now rather than just the taste.
Alex Yeats said that texture has become a lot more important when cooking. He and Sarah Yeats tend to eat salmon several times a week because it has a fuller, more umami body, and a better mouthfeel than a flaky white fish, which just tastes dry for them. Sarah Yeats also stated, “I wanted to make sure there was green in everything because foods that are white and gray, they’re just so unappealing now”. Immersing in the processes of cooking and meal planning each week also helped her keep interested in food prep. She added, “Having Covid inspired us to use our raclette oven because it’s a process for cooking that makes it fun”.
2) Odd Odors Are A Promising Sign
Phantom smells are actually a common topic in the online Covid-19 support group. The couple said that they have gotten whiffs of jet fuel and cigarette smoke where there was none. Becker said, “A lot of people get trash, or smoke, something rotten or burning rubber”. She also added, “It’s really gross, but it’s usually a good sign things are trying to sort themselves out. When the recovery happens, sometimes the wires can get crossed”.
3) Scent Training Helps
“Scent Training” is a method of using things like rose, lemons, cloves, garlic, eucalyptus, and menthols that have a really strong smell to retrain the brain. Becker said it’s a tactic she recommends to patients since there is no cure for anosmia. She mentioned, “Retraining your brain to what things smell like so you can remember is a bit mysterious. But using the memory to retrain the neurons can work in both directions. The memory can help you smell, and the smell can help you remember”.
Sources: CNN 
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Different Colors On Vegetables And Fruits Have Various Benefits? What Is it?

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Certainly, many Malaysians do not know that different colors of vegetables and fruits have different vitamins and minerals as well as different functions.

Through a post on Facebook by the Nutrition Department Ministry of Health Malaysia, we are advised to take various types and colors of vegetables and fruits.

Take at least three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit daily.

Follow the information sharing by MOH below to find out more about the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables:

1) Red color

  • Contains Lycopene as an antioxidant that helps protect against cell damage and is good for heart health.

2) Purple color

  • Contains Anthocyanin as an antioxidant that helps lower the risk of cancer, improve the body’s immune system and memory.

3) Green color

  • Contains chlorophyll, fiber, and iron which are good for red blood cell formation, good for digestion, and boost the body’s immunity.

4) Orange color

  • Contains Beta-Carotene as an antioxidant that can improve eye health and anti-aging agents.

“But there is a similarity despite the different colors … that VEGETABLES and FRUIT can help reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases,” wrote MOH Nutrition Department on the post.

“VEGETABLES & FRUIT contain phytochemicals that supply antioxidants that help fight free radicals as well as support our body’s immune system …,” added MOH Nutrition Department.

Source: Nutrition Department Ministry of Health Malaysia

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Health

As Part of Curriculum, Children In Siberia’s School Throw Buckets of Icy Water Over Themselves

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As school children, having a cold shower in the morning is the least favorite thing that they have to go through first thing after they woke up. They would prefer to have a nice warm shower instead so that they are going to feel great to start the day.

The story is different for Siberian school children as they have to throw buckets of icy water over themselves. This has to be done because it is part of the school curriculum.

All the five and also six-year-old at the school in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia have to drench themselves in icy water. In fact, most of the students’ parents have given their permission for their children to take part daily because they believe that doing that, can help to ward off infections.

Picture: DailyMail

The teachers there stated that the cold showers that they are doing could lead to the children being less sick. Other than that, they also say it could make the children be more “sensible, balanced and also optimistic”. According to a report, the children would take cold showers daily after they had a hot sauna. They also declared that the temperature should be no lower than 25C.

A spokesperson for the Krasnoyarsk education department said, “The little walruses warmed themselves in the sauna and went outside for a traditional cold water shower”. Even though the process might sound challenging for the children to withstand, they actually have been taught breathing exercises for the deep cold.

A teacher named Lyubov Daniltsova said, ” Our doctor confirms that children in groups that practice dousing get through the flu season a lot more easily but generally the statistics show there is 95 percent of healthy children in the ‘wet’ group, compared to 75 percent among the others”.

Sources: DailyMail

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