Posts tagged with "bacteria"

Emotional Support House Plants illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE

How to Start an Indoor Garden

You might think you need acreage to have a garden plot. Nonsense — if you have sunshine in your apartment, you can start an indoor version.

Container growing offers unparalleled convenience. You don’t have to slog through the weather to tend your crops — you can do so from the comfort of your climate-controlled abode. Here are five tips on starting an indoor garden that will have you making fresh tomato sauce and passing out blooms to all your friends in no time.

1.    Get Your Water Tested

Plants have a lot in common with animals. Both require a place to live, grow and reproduce safely from the worst of the elements. They also need food and water. This final necessity might do more to influence the health of your indoor plants than any other. However, it’s a factor many novice gardeners overlook until they find themselves wondering why their spider plant fails to thrive.

The first thing to determine is whether your water comes from a well or a municipal water supply. One advantage of the former is that your liquid remains free of sanitizing agents as it comes up from an underground source. Elements like chlorine, chloramine and fluoride can slow the growth of your plants and impact the flowering cycle.

However, that doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods if you have a well. Such groundwater sources often have high levels of arsenic, lead and sulfur contamination. Additionally, the water might be rather hard, containing magnesium and calcium. These minerals are responsible for accumulating on plumbing surfaces, causing clogs.

The first water quality you must determine is your pH level. This scale measures how basic or acidic your water is. An overly alkaline pH can lead to mineral loss in your soil and poor harvests from your indoor garden crops.

Your water also contains beneficial bacteria, unless it comes from an overly clean municipal source. This riddance inhibits the processing of organic compounds for plant availability. You might have better luck harvesting rainwater to use for your plants — doing so also cuts down on waste. Before doing so, ensure you’re legally allowed to use a barrel in your jurisdiction. Some places restrict collection out of fear of providing breeding grounds for mosquitos.

Understanding your water quality starts by reading your bill. Your municipality should publish a quality report you can access. You can also purchase PPM meters, although they won’t tell you the precise mineral content of your water. For the best results, you should refer a sample to a lab for testing.

2.    Choose the Right Location

You might end up with more than one indoor garden — and that’s perfectly OK. Different species have varying needs for sunlight. Your golden pothos may adore hanging by a sunny window, but your primroses have another preference. Honor it if you want the best results.

Discovering your various plants’ penchant for light or shade is as simple as reading the instructions that come with most varieties. The internet is also a glorious resource for all things horticulture. You can even find plant identifier apps that will diagnose possible diseases and recommend the best course of treatment.

Your kitchen windowsill is the ideal place for a herb garden. You might not need to travel beyond your grocery store for supplies. Many fresh soft herbs will sprout in water, allowing you to keep them going that way or plant them in soil for improved longevity.

Don’t overlook your bedroom as a location for shade-loving plants. In the 1980s, NASA studied houseplants to see if they could provide sufficient oxygen for supporting life in space. They discovered that these herbal wonders also scrub toxins like formaldehyde from indoor air — meaning you might breathe more comfortably at night, especially if you’re sensitive to allergens.

3.    Select the Perfect Pots

Your plants are beautiful, and much like the right outfit can accentuate your natural beauty, the correct pot can showcase your collection in style. Will you mix and match or go for a monochrome look? You have several options.

You’ll find that plastic planters are the most affordable and lightweight option. You can carry a stack of them home from the store without ever breaking a sweat. However, this material may fade in sunlight and attract and store heat, leading to premature wilting of your plants. You may also need to replace them after a couple of seasons, particularly if you use them in sunny locations.

Clay pots and planters offer superior longevity and can also help you if you’re a novice gardener. This substance controls moisture levels, keeping your plant roots from suffering rot if you accidentally go a bit too heavy with the watering can.

Disadvantages of clay pots include the cost, weight and size. They may also break if you drop them. However, they’re your best long-lasting and eco-friendly bet for an indoor garden that grows season after season.

4.    Invest in Beginner-Friendly Plants

Your plant choices partially determine your indoor garden’s success. For example, you probably don’t want to start with orchids if you’re new to horticulture. These plants look elegant but have a longstanding reputation for being finicky about their treatment.

Golden pothos is an ideal starter plant for sunny locations. Succulents also make easy-to-care-for choices for lining the brightest windowsills of your home. Bamboo and peace lily plants work well in darker bedroom areas, as they prefer the shade.

5.    Keep Your Hobby Going on the Cheap

Once you establish your indoor garden, it’s relatively simple and inexpensive to add to it using materials you already have. One way to do so is by propagating live herbs from cuttings. Soft-stemmed herbs such as basil and oregano require little more than water, although you can buy liquids to encourage root growth. Woody-stemmed herbs take a little more prompting, although you can still use this technique by cutting stems from newer growth that hasn’t hardened yet.

You can also amass a bumper crop of the vegetables you use most often in the kitchen. It’s simple to save the seeds from plants like peppers and tomatoes, dry them and use them to start new seedlings. You won’t even have to drive to the farmers market once you establish your indoor garden on your balcony.

Start an Indoor Garden

You don’t need acreage to enjoy growing things. Use the five tips above to start an indoor garden that fills your home with joy.

health illustration for 360 Magazine

Level Up Your Gut Game

By: Sherry Torkos, B.Sc.Phm., R.Ph.

You’ve got guts. Gut instincts. Go with your gut. All of these familiar sayings suggest that your gastrointestinal (GI) tract is truly your body’s seat of power. Without a healthy gut, you won’t get the nutrients you need to function at your best. But your gut isn’t just part of an elaborate food processing system. It also helps eliminate toxins and protect against harmful bacteria and viruses that can trigger infection. That’s not surprising since up to 70 percent of your immune system lives in your gut.

The health of your GI tract also influences your blood sugar levels, heart health, mood, weight, and more. Now that you know why keeping your GI tract in top form is so important for optimizing your overall health and wellbeing, let’s discuss how to keep it, and you, at the top of your game.

Meet Your Microbiome

Your GI tract is home to more than 100 trillion bacteria that perform a wide range of critical functions. Collectively, this bacterial community is known as your microbiome. While your microbiome contains both beneficial and harmful bacteria, the ratio between the two matters. A healthy gut typically contains about 85 percent beneficial bacteria. The other 15 percent of your gut is made up of harmful bacteria, or pathogens, that are kept in check by your beneficial bugs.

Fostering a healthy microbiome isn’t just a numbers game. Diversity among your beneficial bacteria matters too. In fact, studies show that a more diverse your microbiome is, the better.1 The composition of the bacteria in your gut governs several things including your appetite, how your body regulates your blood sugar levels, and how well your body fights off infections. Having more strains of beneficial bacteria in your microbiome plays an important role in promoting better health. The types and amounts of bacteria also impacts your intestinal wall, which is a semi-permeable lining in your gut designed to let nutrients into your bloodstream while keeping harmful toxins, pathogens, and partially digested food particles out. A compromised intestinal barrier—often called a “leaky gut”—can contribute to a number of health problems like food sensitivities, inflammation, and even some autoimmune conditions.

Enemies of a Healthy Gut

There are lots of factors that can disrupt the balance and diversity of your microbiome–a condition technically known as dysbiosis. Here are the top five gut disruptors:

  • The standard American diet that is low in fiber and nutrients, and packed with refined sugar, gluten and chemical additives.
  • Alcohol overindulgence. Research suggests that even moderate drinking could lead to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and subsequently cause gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating, gas, abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea, according to the results of a new study unveiled today at the American College of Gastroenterology’s (ACG) 76th Annual Scientific meeting in Washington, DC. could lead to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and subsequently cause gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating, gas, abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea, according to the results of a new study unveiled today at the American College of Gastroenterology’s (ACG) 76th Annual Scientific meeting in Washington, DC.can lead to bacterial overgrowth and trigger bloating, gas, abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea.
  • Overuse of medications like antacids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics.
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals, such as nicotine, mercury and mold.
  • Chronic stress which alters the gut’s nervous system.

The good news is that you can change these risk factors by simply making a few tweaks to your daily habits.

Boost the Good Bugs in Your Belly

Considering all the ways your microbiome keeps you healthy, it makes sense to give it some TLC every day. Here are some of the best ways to support the trillions of bacteria in your gut:

Eat more veggies. Fresh vegetables are loaded with the vitamins, minerals, and fiber your gut bacterium needs to thrive. Including high-fiber veggies on the daily also keeps you regular. Some great options include artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, kale, leeks, onions and spinach. These veggies also contain prebiotics.

Include fermented foods. Yogurt, kimchi, kombucha and miso provide some beneficial bacteria. Just be aware that some brands of commercial yogurt may not contain live, viable probiotics that contribute to a healthy microbiome.

Get your zzz’s. Studies show that shortchanging the amount of shuteye you get or having an erratic sleep schedule both may increase the risk of an imbalance in your microbiome called dysbiosis; and boosts the odds of gut inflammation. Try to get at least eight hours of high quality sleep each night.

Get moving. Researchers have found that physically active people have healthier, more diverse microbiomes. Plus, regular workouts help ease stress that can undermine a healthy gut.

The Power of Probiotics

One of the easiest ways to support a healthy microbiome is with a probiotic supplement. There are dozens of friendly bacterial strains found in probiotic supplements and they all help the body in different ways. For instance, Bifidobacteria bifidum strengthens gut immunity while Bifidobacteria breve reduces intestinal inflammation. Bifidobacteria longum works to counter antibiotic-resistant bacteria and reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol. Lactobacillus gasseri, on the other hand, produces vitamin K for healthier bones and arteries, as well as antimicrobial substances that help prevent indigestion, diarrhea, and vaginal yeast infections. Some studies also suggest that this particular probiotic strain may help reduce belly fat and lower your BMI.

While a comprehensive probiotic supplement can contain a variety of strains, some include prebiotics, too. Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that promote the proliferation of your good gut bacteria. We do get some prebiotic fibers through our diet, however it is challenging to consume enough on a consistent basis to obtain the health benefits. Prebiotic fibers also play an independent role in good health by improving your gut’s immune response, normalizing your bowel movements and supporting healthy weight loss.

Discover the Secret of Synbiotics

Supplements that combine probiotics and prebiotics are known as synbiotics. Adding a comprehensive synbiotic like Pro+ Synbiotic  to your supplement regimen is a great way to improve your gut and immune health. Pro+ Synbiotic contains a proprietary a-gluco-oligosaccharide prebiotic designed to support bacterial diversity for a healthier gut. The right synbiotic also promotes a healthy immune response, supports a better mood, and helps to relieve constipation and bloating, while also enhancing the feeling of fullness. Together, these actions help support weight loss and better overall health.

Choosing a high-quality synbiotic is critical. Look for a synbiotic that contains a variety of well-researched probiotic strains and prebiotic fibers, and which documents that the bacteria can survive the trip through your stomach to arrive alive in your gut. Paired with the gut-friendly habits, an effective symbiotic can ultimately help you find belly bliss and better health. Trust your gut on this one.

References

  1. Deng F., Ying, L., & Zhao, J. The gut microbiome of healthy long-living people. Aging: Open-Access Impact Journal on Aging. 2019;11(2):289-290.

About Sherry Torkos, B.Sc.Phm., R.Ph.

Sherry Torkos is a pharmacist, author and health enthusiast with a passion for prevention. Sherry graduated with honors from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science in 1992. Since that time she has been practicing holistic pharmacy in the Niagara region of Ontario. Her philosophy of practice is to integrate conventional and complementary therapies to optimize health and prevent disease. Sherry has won several national pharmacy awards for providing excellence in patient care. As a leading health expert, she has delivered hundreds of lectures to medical professionals and the public. Sherry has authored 18 books and booklets, including, “The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine,” “Saving Women’s Hearts,” and “The Glycemic Index Made Simple.”

Kaelen Felix Illustrates a Dental Article for 360 MAGAZINE

Oral Hygiene × SARS-CoV-2

The British Dental Journal recently found that poor oral hygiene may be linked to more severe cases of COVID-19 because of the harmful bacteria found in mouths that have not been properly taken care of.

While the mouth has always been known as a gateway to the rest of the body, giving it the ability to cause problems in other areas, it is now found that poor oral hygiene can cause respiratory infections, making COVID-19 stronger.

The good news is that the best defense, in this scenario, is to follow good oral practices, like flossing, brushing and using mouthwash.

COVID-19 continues to be deadly, but there does appear to be some sort of link in more than half of fatal cases.

According to the British Dental Journal, “More than 80% of COVID-19 patients in ICUs exhibited an exceptionally high bacterial load, with more than 50% of deaths exhibiting bacterial superinfections.”

Even though COVID-19 is transferred virally, complications like pneumonia and acute respiratory distress might be caused by bacterial superinfection, which begins in the mouth.

The study says, “We recommend that oral hygiene be maintained, if not improved, during a SARS-CoV-2 infection in order to reduce the bacterial load in the mouth and the potential risk of a bacterial superinfection.”

Again, hygiene can be maintained by brushing, flossing and using mouthwash, but oral-care probiotics can also offer protection.

Oral-care probiotics are a specialized type of probiotic formulated to repopulate the oral cavity bacteria, which battles harmful bacteria that could lead to cavities, gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Dr. Eric Goulder, founder of the Heart and Stroke Prevention Center of Central Ohio, said he thinks heart health is also determined by oral health. His team uses ProBiora, which supports health in teeth and gums.

“We think everyone should be extra careful during the pandemic, and oral-care probiotics are a great way to help keep the oral cavity in balance 24-7,” Dr. Goulder said.

To see the study, you can click right here.

Are We Living Too Clean?

By Jessica ter Haar, Ph.D., scientific director of the International Probiotics Association

If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it is that proper hygiene is vital to keeping ourselves and the members of our communities safe and healthy. We are constantly reminded of the need to disinfect our hands, avoid touching our faces, keep our distance and take COVID-19 safety measures seriously.
But could all the hand washing, antibacterial cleansing and social distancing cause another health problem?

It may seem counterintuitive, but the extreme clean living our society has adopted could in fact make our body’s innate immune system weaker. Many people have entered into a sort of “microbe-phobia” to avoid the coronavirus, but it is important to remember that not all microbes are bad. In fact, many are essential for good health.
Sterilizing everything can have the unintended negative consequence of eradicating the good germs that we would normally be exposed to in our daily lives. In doing so, we are weakening our body’s own natural defenses to everyday threats.

Microbes—including bacteria, fungi, and viruses—are invisible to the naked eye, and our bodies host trillions of these microorganisms inside and out. Scientifically, this population is known as the microbiome. The gut microbiome, for example, is a concept that has been around for centuries but has only been commonly used in conversation since the early 2000s.

Some microbes are harmful and can make us sick, but many keep us healthy and should not be feared but appreciated. Understanding the role of the human microbiome has been complicated further by the confusion surrounding terminology – a big one being the differences between bacteria, fungi and viruses. It’s important to know more about them and how they differ when considering good versus bad microbes.

Bacteria are single-cell organisms, and most are not dangerous to humans. In fact, less than 1% of all bacteria are responsible for disease. Many bacteria live in our bodies and help us stay healthy. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics, which kill the bacteria or at least stop the bad bacteria from multiplying.

Fungi are single-celled or multi-celled organisms that are similar to bacteria in that they live in different environments and cause disease. Fungal infections can become life-threatening if the immune system is weak, but certain fungi also have many beneficial qualities. The discovery of penicillin, a type of fungus, was due to a variety of mold which is now used to produce this antibiotic.

Viruses, including the coronavirus, are more challenging. They have no cells of their own and instead rely on host cells to multiply and replicate. Many viruses peacefully co-exist with humans, but some can cause diseases, including the relatively harmless common cold, while others can be deadly and bring about serious diseases like AIDS, measles and COVID-19. It is difficult to fight a virus with medication, which is why vaccinations are often used to support the immune system to better prepare the body to fight the virus.

As we begin practicing good hygiene and social distancing recommendations, life is feeling far from normal. But similar to the emotional effects of our isolation, by not living life, we are failing to be exposed to the good natural microbes needed to support our immune system’s defenses, metabolism, digestion and the brain’s ability to modulate mood and focus.

The question is, how can we continue hygiene measures to prevent COVID-19 without weakening our immune systems?

This is where probiotics come in. Probiotics can be the hero in our current germophobic environment to help counter the lack of microbe exposure and stimulate our body’s own bacterial population in the gut microbiome and cells. Probiotics can literally wake up sleepy bacteria and cells and assist in protecting our health.
If you are unfamiliar, probiotics are live microorganisms that, when taken in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host. Experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and WHO created this definition of probiotics, and to date, probiotics have more than 8,000 different scientific research studies indexed by PubMed.

Something as simple as a probiotic supplement can help compensate for our ultra-clean lifestyles and add beneficial microorganisms to our daily health arsenal. Probiotics add to the functional diversity of healthy microbes within our microbiome that bolster our immune system and overall health resilience. Probiotics have quickly risen in popularity and took center stage in the past decade, primarily because of how probiotics make people feel and how they work.

According to research, people report feeling better when they are taking a probiotic, which makes perfect sense because when the gut is happy, the rest of the body seems to be in synchronicity. But let’s not forget that probiotics can also work beyond the gut. There is a lot of probiotic science that continues to evolve, and everything seems to point to positive health outcomes.

Many of the microorganisms in probiotic supplements, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, are similar to those naturally found in the body. Different types of probiotics have many different effects on the body like helping to maintain balance of good bacteria; producing certain vitamins and other substances; impacting our mood; and regulating weight.

Interestingly, studies of probiotics have shown beneficial immune impacts. While no probiotic has been found to treat COVID-19, research studies are currently assessing their impact. To date, more than 1,600 human clinical trials have been published about probiotics on ClinicalTrials.gov and the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform of WHO databases. The International Probiotics Association is another great resource for updates on studies and new findings with probiotics.

As we wait for life to return to normal, taking something as simple as a probiotic supplement can help our immune systems compensate for an ultra-clean lifestyle and put our minds at ease as we take steps forward to boost our health during these uncertain and challenging times. In learning more about microbes, we can embrace the power of these organisms, take the fear out of equation and develop a plan to keep our immunities strong in the face of any health crisis.

About Jessica ter Haar, Ph.D.,

Jessica ter Haar is director of scientific affairs for the International Probiotics Association (IPA) and is a microbiology expert and probiotic educator focused on digestive and women’s health. She holds a doctorate from the University of Groningen in medical microbiology and probiotics for vaginal infections, and a master’s degree in nutrition and nutraceutical sciences from the University of Guelph. Ter Haar is also the founder and chairwoman of “Women and their Microbes,” a scientific conference directed at scientists, clinicians and industry professionals focused on helping women achieve their best possible microbial health during every stage of life. In her professional work with probiotics, she uses her thorough knowledge base to underscore the importance of probiotics, make scientific knowledge accessible, and address unmet medical and research needs. Additionally, ter Haar consults with a variety of companies in the probiotic, pharmaceutical and food industries on strategies to clearly communicate, valorize and leverage scientific benefits and best practices.

Dog and Cat illustrated by Mina Tocalini for 360 MAGAZINE.

What To Do For Dog Bites

Every year, 4.7 million people in the United States suffer dog bites.

Dogs might be our best friends, but the reality is that they’ve got some sharp teeth. If you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, you could fall victim to their pearly whites. 

If you suffer a dog puncture wound or a full-on bite, it is important to know what to do in the aftermath. 

Keep reading to find out the five most important things to do after a dog bite when it comes to your health and legal action you may need to take.

Document the Wound

If you or someone around you can, take pictures of the wound before tending to it. Having evidence of the dog puncture wound or dog bite in its original state will be helpful if legal action is taken later on. It will provide photo evidence of the severity of the injury.

Call for Help

Place a clean towel or cloth over the wound, and apply pressure to stop the bleeding. If the injury is serious and requires professional care, call emergency services. While you are waiting for them to arrive, you can begin to collect information from the dog’s owner and anyone in the area who witnessed the event. 

Exchange Information 

Make sure to exchange contact information with the dog’s owner. You will need these details in case legal or insurance-related action is taken and because you will want to be able to obtain information on the dog’s medical history. Be sure to get their name, address, phone number, and any other relevant contact information. 

It will be important to find out whether the dog was vaccinated for certain diseases such as rabies because, after a dog bite, you are at risk of infection from any bacteria or illness the dog might have had and will require treatment accordingly.

Get Contact Information of Witnesses

If there were witnesses at the scene of the crime, make sure to get their information. In the case of a lawsuit or insurance claim, witness accounts of the incident will likely help your case. They will be able to corroborate and provide a more accurate idea of the events that took place. 

If you decide legal action is the appropriate route, you will need to present all of the information obtained at the crime scene to a dog bite lawyer. The lawyer will use the information provided to build a case. 

Seek Medical Help

After an aggressive encounter with a dog, you should seek help from a medical professional who knows how to treat a dog bite. A doctor will be able to determine whether you need stitches, clean the wound thoroughly, and advise you on how to prevent the wound from getting infected.

If you do notice signs of infection, such as redness, pus, increased pain, or fever, it is important to go back to the doctor for further treatment.

Taking Care of a Dog Puncture Wound or Bite

If you have suffered from a dog puncture wound or a dog bite, it is important to follow all of these steps. They will help you stay healthy by minimizing the risk of infection, and they will allow you to qualify for the best legal help possible. The more information you are able to obtain about the dog and its owner, the better. 

Purdue University, 360 MAGAZINE

Purdue scientists develop way to track salmonella in real time

When bacteria like salmonella infect and sicken people, they hijack a person’s cell proteins to develop a defense against an immune response. Understanding how that works and developing methods for defending against these bacteria is difficult because scientists haven’t been able to track the hundreds of proteins involved in real time.

Now, W. Andy Tao, a Purdue University professor of biochemistry, and colleagues at Purdue and Fudan University in China, have developed a chemical method — host and pathogen temporal interaction profiling, or HAPTIP — for labeling a living bacteria and tracking it as it invades a host cell. Their findings, published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, may help improve understanding of bacterial infections and lead to the development of new drugs.

“The interaction between host cells and pathogens are highly dynamic and complex with many questions to be answered. It is extremely valuable to provide a dynamic picture of such interactions during the infection process,” the authors write. “It is conceivable that the general strategy of HAPTIP can be applicable to many bacteria or virus, thus contributing to the discovery and understanding of host–pathogen interactions in multiple infection systems.”

Salmonella bacteria fend off a cell’s immune defenses by creating a pocket within the cell, called a Salmonella-containing vacuole, in which to hide. The bacteria hijacks and uses hundreds of the cell’s proteins to do so, making identification of those proteins key to thwarting the bacteria.

The HAPTIP method involves labeling the salmonella bacteria with a diazirine group, a chemical group that creates covalent bonds between Salmonella proteins and host cell proteins when an ultraviolet light is shined on the cell. A chemical probe enriches all the crosslinked proteins and isolates them from the other cell extracts. Scientists can then use mass spectrometry to identify the proteins.

One of the method’s strengths is that it can work at any point after salmonella has been introduced to the healthy cell. In their findings, the scientists tested the method at 15 minutes, one hour and six hours after salmonella infected a cell and identified more than 400 proteins interacting with the salmonella bacteria.

“You can design any time point based on when you choose to shine the UV light on the cells,” Tao said. “By looking at which proteins are interacting with the bacteria at those different times, we can determine the method the bacteria are using to hijack the cell, which will differ as time passes.”

Developing strategies to treat foodborne illnesses that stem from bacteria like salmonella and E. coli could have significant impact globally. The World Health Organization estimates there are 600 million global cases of foodborne illnesses each year resulting in 420,000 deaths.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, as well as the Natural Science Foundation of China, funded this research.

Writer: Brian Wallheimer, bwallhei@purdue.edu

Source: W. Andy Tao, taow@purdue.edu

PHOTO: W. Andy Tao and colleagues have developed a method to implant a chemical label that acts like a GPS tracker into live salmonella bacteria. Once inside the bacteria, the probe can be captured at any given time, showing in real time the proteins interacting with the bacteria. (Photo courtesy W. Andy Tao).

Rapidly detecting invisible dangers to food

When food is recalled due to contamination from bacteria such as salmonella, one may wonder how a tainted product ended up on store shelves. New technology being developed at the University of Missouri could give retailers and regulators an earlier warning on dangers in food, improving public health and giving consumers peace of mind.

The biosensor provides a rapid way for producers to know if this invisible danger is present in both raw and ready-to-eat food before it reaches the store. Annually, more than 48 million people get sick from foodborne illnesses in America, such as salmonella, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Current tests used to determine positive cases of salmonella — for instance culturing samples and extracting DNA to detect pathogens — are accurate but may take anywhere from one to five days to produce results,” said Mahmoud Almasri, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the MU College of Engineering. “With this new device, we can produce results in just a few hours.”

In this study, researchers focused on poultry products, such as chicken and turkey. The biosensor uses a specific fluid that is mixed with the food to detect the presence of bacteria, such as salmonella, along a food production line in both raw and ready-to-eat food. That way, producers can know within a few hours — typically the length of a worker’s shift — if their products are safe to send out for sale to consumers. The researchers believe their device will enhance a food production plant’s operational efficiency and decrease cost.

“Raw and processed food could potentially contain various levels of bacteria,” said Shuping Zhang, professor and director of the Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. “Our device will help control and verify that food products are safe for consumers to eat and hopefully decrease the amount of food recalls that happen.”

Researchers said the next step would be testing the biosensor in a commercial setting. Almasri said he believes people in the food processing industry would welcome this device to help make food safer.

The study, “A microfluidic based biosensor for rapid detection of Salmonella in food products,” was published in PLOS ONE, one of the world’s leading peer-reviewed journals focused on science and medicine. Other authors include Ibrahem Jasim, Zhenyu Shen, Lu Zhao at MU; and Majed Dweik at Lincoln University. Funding was provided by a partnership between MU, the Coulter Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

This study details the latest findings for this interdisciplinary team of researchers who have developed multiple biosensors and published results of their previous findings in Scientific Reports, Biosensors and Bioelectronics and Electrophoresis.

Fighting Antibiotic Resistance

To combat the rise of drug-resistant bacteria, researchers are examining how one superbug adapts to fight an antibiotic of last resort, hoping to find clues that can prolong the drug’s effectiveness.

At Rice University and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston ran experiments to track the biochemical changes that vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE) underwent as they adapted to fight another antibiotic, daptomycin. “We need to get to a stage where we can anticipate how these pathogens will become resistant to antibiotics so we can stay one step ahead of them,” said Rice biochemist Yousif Shamoo, co-author of a study in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy that found VRE can develop resistance to daptomycin in more than one way. The stakes are high. In 2014, the World Health Organization reported that antibiotic-resistant infections were on pace to kill 10 million people per year worldwide by 2050.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, VRE is one of the nation’s leading antibiotic resistance threats. The CDC estimated VRE will infect some 20,000 people in the U.S. this year and kill 1,300 of them. Daptomycin, an antibiotic that first became available in 2003, is one of the last drugs doctors can use to fight multidrug-resistant superbugs like VRE, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and glycopeptide resistant enterococci (GRE). Unfortunately, health officials documented cases of daptomycin resistance as early as 2005, and the number of cases is on the rise worldwide.

Shamoo said one of the principle findings of the study was that a specific strain of VRE, Enterococcus faecium, has an unusually diverse set of strategies for resisting antibiotics like daptomycin, and that diversity can make treatment of infections even more difficult. “By understanding how these pathogens acquire resistance, we can develop new treatment strategies or new ‘co-drugs’ that target their ability to become resistant,” Shamoo said. Co-drugs that target the evolution of resistance could be administered with antibiotics like daptomycin to both help patients fight off infection and stem the spread of increasingly resistant strains of bacteria in hospitals, he said.

Study lead author Amy Prater, a Ph.D. student who graduated from Rice in July, showed that the same strain of VRE could activate different biochemical pathways to activate up to three strategies, depending upon its environment. Shamoo said the multipronged strategy will make it more difficult for health officials to fight growing daptomycin resistance in VRE, but he said the results help clear up previously confusing experimental findings about VRE resistance, which is a step in the right direction. “If we understand how a pathogen acquires resistance, we can anticipate its next move, and hopefully act beforehand to cut it off,” Shamoo said. “Predictability is the key.”

Shamoo is Rice’s vice provost for research and a professor of biochemistry and cell biology in the Department of BioSciences. Additional co-authors include Heer Mehta and Abigael Kosgei of Rice and William Miller, Truc Tran and Cesar Arias of the UTHealth McGovern Medical School.

Germs In Your Home Bathroom

Public restrooms are unsanitary, but a new study from SafeHome.orgGerms In Your Home Bathroom – show that bacteria in our own homescan lead to serious health issues.

More than 500 people were surveyed (274 women and 230 men) and a surface culture analysis was performed on a range of bathroom surfaces.

Here are some of the key findings:

·81% of men and 73% of women urinate in the shower

·Fecal matter is found in tooth brush bristles

·57% of respondents have found mold on their shower curtains. Mold can cause death.

·4-times per month versus 2.8 times for men

To learn the most dangerous surfaces and tips to mitigate health risks, please view the entire report by clicking: Germs In Your Home Bathroom.

Roadtrip Ready!

Check out some of the essential things you need for your roadtrip this summer!

PediPocket $59.99

Stay warm and comfortable on your next road trip with PediPocket! This Ultra plush velvet seat fleece blanket has a clever 20-inch pocket that will keep your feet warm and is nearly 6 ft long, ideal for the smallest to tallest person.

nodpod $25

Catch up on your zzzz’s with nodpod! It delivers the power of Weighted Sleep Therapy in a unique shaped, microbead filled eye pillow, nodpad allows you to sleep comfortably in any position! Weighted Sleep Therapy is the way your body response to gentle, constant pressure. This is why hugs feel good and why babies experience relief while swaddled. Weighted Sleep Therapy naturally reduces Stress and Anxiety while promoting deep restful sleep.

SafeGo $39.95

Take comfort in knowing your valuables are safe during your vacay. SafeGo is a portable, lightweight safe designed to be durable, resistant to water, sand, and salt. It features of patent lock, custom combination, key access, and convenient to your earphone and charger accessibility.

Mouth Watchers $5.99

Packing up for your next road trip? Wherever you go, let Mouth Watchers maintain your mouth healthy! Doctor Plotka’s designed this toothbrush with anti-microbial Bristol’s to eliminate 99.9% of bacteria that grows in between uses. These bristol’s are ten times thinner to reach and brush away food and plaque in those hard-to-reach areas!

Laundreez $30

Wherever the wide-open road may take you, let Laundreez help keep your suitcase light! Thanks to an inventive new way to wash your clothes, you can just pack the essentials because you can have clean clothes wherever you go! Laundries is a self-contained laundry system- no washer, no dryer needed! Just throw your clothes in the bag, add a few drops of detergents, let it sit, shake and drain. You rinse in the same bag, drain, squeeze and hang to dry.

Sweatopause $30

Don’t let hot flashes ruin your road trip! With Sweatopause, you are wearing a fashionable scarf and cooling down your skin at the same time! Thanks to its patented coolcore technology, the more you sweat, the more Sweatopause cools you off. When the fabric is wet with sweat or water, it’s cooling magic can begin. The super comfortable, stretchy fabric cools 30% below your skin temperature like a delightful blast of air conditioning right when you need it most.

Showaflops $32

This road trip, avoid stepping in public showers, pools, bathrooms! Keep your feet healthy with Showaflops. They have unique drainage holes for faster drying flops and antimicrobials to help protect feet from bacteria on floors and prevent odors. It also has slip-resistant soles for safer trips on wet slippery floors.

Vessel’s NEW Boston Duffel $265

Let Vessel help you take all your things on this road trip! This signature piece has unique features including a 300 degrees zippered compartment! Keeping your daily essentials secured and organized for your next trip, rep your favorite colors with an expansive collection of color ways and material.