Poor diet is responsible for more premature deaths and more disabilities worldwide than any other thing. The latest research shows that even Covid-19 deaths are more prevalent among people who suffer from diet-related disorders.
People who stick to a healthy, balanced diet are overwhelmingly less likely to suffer diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. A healthy diet also helps you fight against Covid-19.
Diet therapy is both a preventative and palliative measure because it helps in managing and treating chronic diseases. Medics use nutrition therapy to help manage illnesses.
MNT (Medical Nutrition Therapy)
Medical nutrition therapy involves using diet and nutrition to alleviate illnesses and injuries or any health conditions.
MNT also works for a variety of medical conditions from depression, to kidney disease and depression.
In spite of the evidence supporting MNT as a means of chronic illness management, it is still not in widespread use. The cost of MNT as well as its availability and coverage means that not many patients can access it.
One study found that only 4% of people who had type 2 diabetes and were on Medicare benefited from MNT services within 12 months of their diagnoses.
Digital Health Technology can Advance MNT
Digital Health Technology has the amazing power to make MNT more accessible as well as more precise and individualized than it has ever been.
We can now use different data collection methods to track, record, as well as analyze our health over time. This data is collected whenever we record a run on a mobile application, or monitor our heart rate with a smart watch.
More than a fifth of Americans use wearable devices or health apps to track their own health. We have more than 300,000 apps for health tracking. This shows just how much demand there is for the apps.
New technologies like machine learning and using synchronous platforms for big data analyses to digest data in real time offer the wonderful opportunity to manage nutrition in new ways.
Machine learning and big data analysis can be leveraged to analyze phenomena like meal patterns and the severity of symptoms to validate Medical Nutrition Therapy recommendations for patients.
We can now gain a better understanding of the role diet plays in preventing disease as well as treating and managing them to constantly modify Medical Nutrition Therapy recommendations to the fit the individual needs of patients.
We can take Medical Nutrition Therapy to new heights by leveraging Machine learning together with big data analysis.
This technology when integrated with mobile devices enables patients to participate in their own medical care by feeding their nutrition information wherever they are.
To maximize the accessibility of Medical Nutrition Therapy, the technology can be integrated on one digital health platform to help people access the service without having to pay for in-person MNT.
This technology can ease the financial burden on patients in the long term as well as save many lives and reduce public expenditure on health by tens of billions.
Individualized MNT Recommendations
To come up with a platform for continuous data analysis across socio economic groups and geographic areas may lead to a better understanding of how diet affects disease especially among vulnerable people like the acutely ill and the elderly.
With more focus on data analysis, we can spot factors of chronic disease earlier and prescribe diet interventions early enough to prevent or even reverse diseases.
Ever changing preferences and dietary needs mean that such platforms must adapt to the growth of an individual, helping to increase our understanding of the individual’s dietary needs in the course of a lifetime.
Platforms like the one mentioned leverage algorithms to spot patterns that reflect individual differences in physiology, behavior, and biology and apply the insights to arrive at the optimum diet for that individual based on their lifestyle, health condition, and genetics.
Machine learning and big data analysis are excellent tools for expanding our grasp of the individual nutritional needs as well as their dietary response, and for allowing medics to make more precise MNT Prescriptions.
The technology is capable of raising the standards of clinical care by making it possible to easily recognize the connections between drugs, nutrition, and disease in order to make better assessments of malnutrition and come up with the best criteria for starting medical nutrition.
It looks like the next frontier of technology will bring with it more precise personalized nutrition.
Computer Scientists based at the University of Bath are experimenting with conductive seams to track all physical activity.
According to the scientists, these charged seams are powerful enough to detect even subtle movements that a smartwatch or a fitness app would miss.
Conductive seams in clothing yield data that can be analyzed to gain a better understanding of how the wearer moves.
“There are lots of potential applications for conductive yarn in any activity where you want to identify and improve the quality of a person’s movement,” explained Ph.D. student Olivia Ruston at Bath. “This could be very helpful in physiotherapy, rehabilitation, and sports performance.”
They are not the first team of scientists to create textile sensors for use in clothing, but it is the first project that focuses on using conductive seams.
This study has uncovered how the number of conductive seams and their placement on garments affects the yarn’s ability to record information.
“There’s great potential to exploit the wearing of clothing and tech – many people are experimenting with e-textiles,” Ruston said, “but we don’t have a coherent understanding between technologists and fashion designers, and we need to link these groups up so we can come up with the best ideas for embedding tech into clothing.”
Ruston’s team of scientists is working with a special kind of yarn. This yarn is built with a unique conductive core made from a hybrid material designed to sense pressure and stretch. This hybrid is made from a metal-polymer combination.
The yarn is woven into the seam of a garment and then activated, strictly at low voltages. The wearer’s body movements will bring about variations in the resistance of the yarn and tension within the seams.
The researchers used a microcontroller to relay the voltage signal from the seams and onto a computer.
Co-author Professor Mike Fraser explains that their work will influence the fashion industry: “Our work provides implications for sensing-driven clothing design.” Fraser is the head of computer science at the University of Bath. “As opportunities for novel clothing functionality emerge, we believe intelligent seam placement will play a key role in influencing design and manufacturing processes. Ultimately, this could influence what is considered fashionable.”
A Tattoo that lets you know when you are Ill
Scientists have long been interested in implanting sensors that can monitor changes in body chemistry. Such sensors could prove useful for tracking the progress of diseases or how well a patient is responding to treatment.
The downside to such sensors is that they couldn’t remain inside long enough and end up losing their effectiveness or getting rejected by the body the longer they stayed inside.
A team of scientists based at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany (JGU) has now succeeded in building a sensor that can remain in the body for months on end after implantation.
Built from modified gold nanoparticles that have unique receptors for particular molecules, the sensors get implanted underneath the skin and come encased in artificial tissue.
What makes the gold nanoparticles so remarkable is the way they change color in response to changes in their environment. The researchers wanted to take advantage of this feature to create color-changing tattoos.
“Our sensor is like an invisible tattoo, not much bigger than a penny and thinner than one millimeter,” clarified JGU Nanobiotechnology Group head Prof Carsten Soennichsen.
Published in the Nano Letters journal, the study involved researchers testing the sensors on hairless rats. As the rats received antibiotic doses, researchers noticed the sensors changing color.
The scientists used a non-invasive instrument to detect changes in color. They observed that the sensors stayed stable and continued working for months.
“As they [the nanoparticles] can be easily coated with different receptors, they are an ideal platform for implantable sensors,” said Dr. Katharina Kaefer, who was the lead author of the study.
So far, it seems that gold nanoparticle sensors have a place in our future. They may prove useful in drug development by monitoring drugs and biomarkers in our bodies. They may also work in medical research, chronic disease management, or medicine.
Is the New Appetite-Controlling Drug the Answer to Obesity?
Weekly semaglutide injections have helped patients lose more than 15kgs. Might this be a magic bullet in the fight against obesity?
We need efficient ways to treat and prevent obesity, even as we fight COVID-19. 29% of women and 26% of men in the UK, according to NHS in data published in 2020 May, were presumed to be obese. These individuals had a body mass index higher than 30.
The situation has now gotten worse thanks to a widespread lockdown-related gain in weight. Obese patients are not only likely to die due to COVID-19; but even worse, University of Glasgow researchers’ recent estimates suggest that obesity might have overtaken smoking as a cause of ill health in Scotland and England.
A healthy balanced diet and suitable physical exercise could prevent weight gain. But this is not considered an effective treatment against obesity. Consuming a very low-calorie diet of not more than 1,000 kcal a day might result in losing about 10 to 15kgs within 12 weeks.
A more modest, cautious calorie restriction prescribed by several commercial slimming plans could cause an average annual weight loss of about 7kgs. However any weight lost through these methods can be regained. And you need another approach to keep the wright off.
To date, various drugs formulated to treat obesity are either inefficient in clinical practice or have harmful side effects like anal leakage or higher blood pressure. Bariatric surgery is the only reliable treatment for critical obesity at the moment, but long-term side effects and risks accompany it.
A series of peptide hormones regulate energy expenditure and appetite. These hormones are released in the intestine. Bariatric surgery works because it changes the gut response to food intake and how it communicates with the brain.
Specifically, glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) is produced in the ileum in the last section of small intestines. GLP-1 responds to foods containing carbohydrates. Insulin synthesis is thereby promoted and secretion by the pancreas, but it affects the stomach by reducing the digestive system movements and secretion of acid.
The UK researchers published their findings on semaglutide in the New England Journal of Medicine led by John Wilding, in February. They found that a drug mimicking GLP-1 that was initially intended for diabetes treatment caused considerable weight loss in type 2 diabetes patients.
The researchers worked with 1,962 patients, of whom 75% were female. Of these, 13% were Asian, 6% black, and 75% white. Their average body mass index was 38. Patients were randomly divided into 2 equal groups. One group received semaglutide weekly injections, while the control group received placebo injections for 68 weeks. Both groups got lifestyle advice and diet.
The semaglutide group lost an average of 15.3kgs in contrast to 2.6 from the control group. The treatment effect difference in the two groups was 12.7kgs weight loss.
The treatment as successfully reduced blood pressure by 5.1mmHg, and the patients reported better physical functioning. The treatment’s major side effects included nausea, diarrhea, and occasional vomiting. And to those on active treatment, there were more frequent gastrointestinal disorders. Of more concern may be the accelerated danger of pancreatitis and gallbladder disease.
As these high-quality trials show, semaglutide causes remarkable weight loss compared to other drugs tested so far. What happens after the treatment ends is uncertain. Preventing the weight from piling back on is a great challenge, and the lesson learned from bariatric surgery is that patients should avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and unhealthy snacking. Smaller portions of calorie-dense foods help.
The research findings need to be confirmed with a more ethnically diverse population with a higher proportion of males. From a practical standpoint, the drug injection’s weekly requirement is more likely to curb a more significant rollout of the treatment. Oral preparations of the drug are still under trials.
While semaglutide appears promising as an obesity treatment, it is not exactly a magic bullet. We should continue to promote a healthy lifestyle as well as discourage unhealthy eating habits that lead to obesity.
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