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Impact of regional food systems on Environment

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Researchers of Princeton University have made efforts to find the relationships between food systems in the cities and climatic changes, water use, and land use.

They focus on urbanization, considering it a key driver for environmental changes. Anu Ramaswami, the co-author, and Professor of civil and environmental engineering says, “Our approach reveals differences between urban food systems both within and across countries. However,  we now have a common methodology to identify which policies would result in what levels of environmental mitigation.”

The study was carried out in two major cities in India and the US. The greenhouse gas emissions, the water and land use for food systems were analyzed in the cities of Delhi, Pondichery in India and New York and Minneapolis in the US.

In general, the researchers concluded that only dietary changes and waste management came out as the most effective ways to reduce the food leftovers of the city. This will be accompanied by slight differences among different cities.

The four cities were selected such that they provided contrasting population size, infrastructure, diet, and other characteristics between them, so that we could drive to general conclusions.

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Besides, dietary changes and waste management, the study also analyzed the potential footprint reductions of policies to promote urban agriculture and change food preparation methods. The following three parameters were analyzed:

Meat consumption

New York and Minneapolis are large consumers of meat. so, when all their meat consumption was replaced by legumes and lentils the land use slid down by more than half, the greenhouse emissions went down by 34 percent and water use by 24 percent. This same reduction can also be brought about by replacing beef and mutton with poultry and pork, according to the report.

India consumes much lower meat than the US. The meat consumption of an average person in Delhi is 4 kilograms per year and that of a man in Pondichery is 11 kilograms whereas it is 59 kilograms per person in the US. However, rice is a significant contributor to greenhouse emissions. Replacing rice by wheat can bring down the footprint levels in India.

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Food Waste Management

Improved food waste management will certainly lead to benefits in all four cities, according to the report. The most useful ways to reduce waste differed based on the nature of waste accumulation in the respective countries.

In the US, eliminating avoidable household food waste reduces both water use and land use by about 18 percent in Minneapolis and 11 percent in New York. It also could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 10 percent in both cities. In India, however, food wastes generated prior to consumption is by itself a larger problem, as techniques for harvesting, transportation, and food storage are not much efficient.

Food processing

Food processing is an integral part of food systems all over the world. This accounts for about 20 percent of the food system greenhouse gas emissions in the US cities. In India,  the emissions associated with food processing are relatively negligible.  But now that some policymakers have proposed increasing food processing as a way to decrease food waste, the effects will be nullified on the whole.

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How to Implement the policies and reduce the environmental impact of food footprints?

The researchers are analyzing and working on the plans that easier to implement. For instance, switching diets from rice to wheat in Pondichery could achieve the same reduction in land use as that by reducing pre-consumer food waste.  However, the latter is much easy to bring into practice.

On the other hand, in the US, lowering meat consumption might be more realistic than reducing food waste.

“Our research gives us information on the environmental aspects of urban food system actions, but the food system is very multifaceted”, says one of the researchers. “There are cultural aspects, there’s health aspects, equity considerations. So, this is one tool that we can pair with other tools to inform a holistic food action plan.”

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Does Tea Cure COVID-19?

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It is a well-known fact that improved immunity is the only way to fight against COVID-19 infection as there are no drugs or vaccines discovered to destroy the virus. Doctors have been treating coronavirus patients worldwide by improving immunity and fighting the virus. Similarly, improved immunity also helps prevent viral infection. Hence, immunity boosters have been playing a crucial role in the pandemic, as insisted by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Recently, a rumor has it that drinking tea does cure the coronavirus. It buzzes that the Chinese doctor Dr. Li Wenliang, who had warned in the initial stage of the COVID-19 epidemic, also found that tea cures the virus. Later it was observed that the tea consists of chemicals that kill the virus in the cells engineered in vitro experiments. But according to the Zhejiang Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in vitro tests are not enough to prove that tea helps in curing coronavirus.

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According to research in the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, scientists have found that tea actually helps in treating coronavirus. They state that consuming Myrrh with tea is a potential cure as Myrrh and tea are effective in preventing the growth of an essential protein in the COVID-19 virus. These two plants have the power to reduce the strength of the virus, as concluded by the study of Kusuma School of Biological Sciences (KSBS) on fifty-one herbal plants on clones of the coronavirus protein.

However, clinical trials are required to come to a conclusion, says Prof. Ashok Kumar Patel, leader of the research, IIT.

Benefits of Green Tea

According to scientists, green tea is rich in anti-bacterial properties and also helps in controlling cholesterol and Blood Pressure (BP). Also, black tea is an excellent immunity booster.

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Difference Between PTSD and Other Mental Ailments

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is the reflex action of mind against traumas in a person’s life. The trauma may be physical or sexual abuse, accidents, natural or human-made catastrophes, war combats, terrorism, loss of a loved one, or any other incident that had deeply affected the person’s psychology. It is common in people who have undergone any such disturbing events, but it is often confused with other mental ailments like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, etc.

Women are twice likely than men to develop PTSD, and children do too. Though a person may recover from PTSD at one point, he may continue to suffer from depression and anxiety for months and sometimes even years.

To treat a disorder, it is necessary that we find its origin first. So, it is essential that we identify PTSD accurately. And PTSD is often difficult to diagnose.

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How to Differentiate Between PTSD and Other Mental Disorders?

Overlapping symptoms is one of the primary reasons for this confusion. For instance, a person may suffer from depression and anxiety at once or depression and PTSD at once. Sometimes, the symptoms of the two different conditions may even co-exist. Consider a person who is already suffering from depression. If he/she undergoes a traumatic incident, apart from PTSD, depression deepens. Though there is no particular cause of depression, PTSD follows any traumatic events like rape, witnessing a crime, etc.

So, here is a list of common symptoms of PTSD that will help you figure out if a person is suffering from PTSD:

It is not necessary that the symptoms start showing up right after the incident. It may take months or even years after the traumatic incident.

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There are three significant symptoms:

  • Recurring memories of the incident that affected you, like flashbacks or over voices, nightmares and reliving the incident through theses type of physical or emotional reactions.
  • Emotional numbness and avoiding talking about the incident or anything or anyone related to it.
  • Feeling on edge, jumpy, easily scared or angered, difficulty in sleeping and concentrating.

You may be down on yourself. You shall feel:

  • Persistently negative moods
  • Hopeless, depressed,
  • Self-destructive like drinking too much alcohol or drive too fast
  • Detached from people and social interactions
  • easily startled or frightened, or you might always be on guard for danger
  • Have trouble sleeping due to fear of nightmares that make you relive the memory

Some overlapping symptoms of PTSD and other mental illnesses are Insomnia, Lack of focus, lack of interest, Irritability, Detachment from people, and the world.

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If you feel or notice a person feeling the symptoms mentioned above for four weeks or longer, then it is impulsive that you consult a psychiatrist for professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment.

 

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Researchers suspect that SARS-CoV-2 might be evolving since 2013

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Researchers of the University of Calgary in Canada, suspect that the novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) might be in evolution among humans since around 2013. But it might not be the same strain that is causing this COVID-19 pandemic.

Six strains of Coronavirus wereCoronavirus commonly prevalent among animals. But the seventh strain is an anonymous strain that is wreaking havoc in the form of COVID-19 and causing a global catastrophe by infecting the human population in the mass.

While scientists throughout the world are working hard to figure out the virus, its effects, origin, and cure, the World Health Assembly had passed a resolution to find the source of the strain.

There are multiple theories of origin. One, the virus got transferred from an animal to a human. Two, it was artificially developed in a laboratory in china for some medical reasons. However, studies rule out this possibility by saying the origin is natural and not human-made.

Recently, a team of researchers at the University of Calgary in Canada say that the SARS-CoV-2 might have been in circulation among humans beginning from as early as 2013. However, it would not be the same strain responsible for the pandemic. They have submitted their report at the Biorxiv, but the findings of the research have not yet been reviewed by the peers.

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It is upon the survival mechanism of the viruses that they keep evolving with the changes with the host organism, i.e., if the host evolves, the virus evolves too. So, when the virus jumped from an animal to human, it would nave underwent genetic modification that would produce a new strain of the same virus, only that now it is more powerful and infective. This implies the virus that had mild or no effect on the animal host may have enormous impacts on the human host. For example, the strain of the virus in the bats did not affect the bats, as their immune system was equipped to co-exist with the virus. However, once it jumped hosts, we obviously tend to fall sick.

What does the Canadian Study say?

The study was conducted by the University of Calgary in Canada between 30 December 2019 to 20 March 2020, when they collected about 479 genome sequences of the novel Coronavirus to study its phylogeny. Phylogeny is the study of the evolutionary development of the virus and its relation to other closely related viruses.

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The researchers examined the spike protein of the strain of SARS-CoV-2 and how it attaches to the receptors in the human body. This attachment of the novel Coronavirus and the receptors to the human cells determine how the virus invades the healthy tissues. They found 16 variant strains of the virus and about 11 missense mutations out of the 479 genomes. A mutation is when a single nucleotide change makes the DNA/RNA code for a different protein. Thus, some of them gave rise to a separate phylogenetic tree.

Another one of their findings included that the SARS-CoV-2 might be a combination of both bat virus and the pangolin virus. The study found that the genome of novel coronavirus matched 96 percent with that of bat virus and 90 percent with that of the pangolin virus. They predict that this variant might have developed due to a co-infection in the host.

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To trace the origin of this novel Coronavirus, the researchers created an ancestral sequence of the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and labeled it N1. RBD is the part of the spike protein that actually binds with the receptor. The animal virus, which is the common ancestor, was labeled N0.

With what they discovered in the experiment, the scientists concluded that the binding affinity of SARS-CoV-2 might not be a determinant of its infectivity. Further, they predict that there should be some other factors that increased their infectivity in humans. The main conclusion is that the ancestral virus could have been infecting humans too, but with unnoticeable symptoms.

 

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