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The "bitter" effects of artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners have grown in popularity as ‘safe’ alternatives to sugar (sucrose). They are extensively used by the beverage industry to make ‘diet’ sodas, they are also used in various packaged foods, drugs and mouthwashes. The most popular artificial sweeteners include saccharin, sucralose, aspartame, stevia, acesulfame potassium (acesulfame—K ) and neotame. Figure 1. Popular artificial sweeteners. Link These products are many times sweeter than sucrose: saccharin is roughly 300 times sweeter than sucrose; aspartame is about 200 times sweeter than sucrose; sucralose (which is derived from sucrose by substituting chlorine for three hydroxyl groups present in the structure of sucrose) is 600 times sweeter than sucrose. Neotame, by the way, takes things to a whole new level – neotame is considered the most potent sweetener on the market, it is roughly 7000 times sweeter than sucrose. Figure 2. A comparison
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Herd Immunity: What it is and why it matters

As countries continue to administer various COVID-19 vaccines to their citizens, the words "herd immunity" are increasingly thrown around in many circles. Let us examine the meaning and benefits of herd immunity. What is herd immunity? A.W Hedrich , a researcher studying the spread of measles in the United States between 1900 and 1931 observed that as more infected children recovered from measles and became immune to the disease, the rate of transmission of measles decreased and the children who had no immunity were protected. He then coined the term "herd immunity" to describe this phenomenon. Credit - Wikipedia Herd immunity, also known as community protection , can be defined as a form of indirect protection from some infectious diseases when a sufficient proportion of a population has

Toxic effects of particulate matter on human health

Air pollution : A silent killer. We are all exposed to air pollution on a regular basis. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that at least 9 in 10 people globally breathe air containing pollutants that exceed levels stipulated in WHO guidelines. The WHO also estimates that indoor and outdoor (ambient) air pollution kills at least 7 million people worldwide every single year. Those are scary numbers, which make you wonder why alot is not being done to drastically improve the quality of air we breathe. Outdoor or ambient air pollution is estimated to cause 4.2 million deaths globally every year. Most deaths from outdoor air pollution is primarily due to exposure to particulate matter (PM) in the air. Particulate matter is a complex mixture of solid and liquid particles of organic and inorganic substances suspended in the air. The major components of particulate matter include ammonia, black carbon, mineral dust, sulfates and wa

Viral Mutations and Implications for COVID-19 Vaccines

The world is still reeling from the impact of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) which has caused over a million deaths globally, with millions more infected. The economic consequences of COVID-19 have been just as severe. Many countries have shut down entire industries, millions of people have been laid off from their jobs and are unable to cater for themselves and their families. Trading within and between nations has slowed down to a trickle although things are beginning to pick up. Some experts opine that it would take a few years for the world to fully recover from the economic and social effects of the pandemic. There is indeed a good chance that some aspects of the society may have been altered forever. As the death toll from COVID-19 rose however,so did the resolve of researchers and health professionals around the world. They were, and are still searching for the quickest and safest solutions to this publ

Reversing Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus(DM) is a chronic metabolic disease with increasing prevalence all over the world. The disease is classified into 2 main types : Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes mellitus. According to the International Diabetes Foundationa an estimated 436 million people are currently living with type 2 DM.In 2011 that estimate was 366 million. The IDF also reports that around 10% of global health expenditure is spent on Diabetes -- a whopping USD 60 billion annually. The above figures are projected to get much higher over the next decade especially in urban areas. Growing urbanisation and lifestyle habits such as higher calorie intake, increasing consumption of processed foods and sedentary lifestyles are pushing the up figures. "The prevalence of type 2 Diabetes mellitus in urban areas is 10.8% compared to the lower prevalence of 7.2% in rural areas" --IDF. Type 2 DM is characterized by high blo

Malaria: Challenges and proposed solutions

Malaria is a leading killer in many parts of the world. The statistics on the disease are pretty scary. About 90 countries on the planet struggle with the disease, these are mostly tropical, underdeveloped nations spread across Africa, Asia and South America. Africa undoutedly is the biggest victim and it is estimated that malaria kills a child on the continent every 30 minutes (Yeah that's pretty scary!) Some of the kids who do survive the disease unfortunately suffer from lasting mental impairment. In fact malaria makes the mortality figures of HIV/AIDS look insignificant. Most people would agree that this monster must be stopped at all costs (Yours truly included. I have taken a few blows from the disease myself over the years). Malaria was successfully eradicated in the developed world in the 20th century using combinations of highly effective insecticides to kill off the mosquitoes and antimalarial drugs to tackle the parasite causing the disease ins

Free radicals: Why you should care

How are free radicals naturally generated in the body? A plethora of biochemical activities are constantly taking place inside the human body at any given point in time, most of these activities are highly dependent on energy. Basic biology tells us that the main source of energy used by our cells is glucose. Glucose undergoes a series of metabolic conversions to various products at different stages, culminating in the synthesis of ATP(Adenosine triphosphate).< ATP is simply an energy currency. Yes, much like the US Dollar, the British Pound and even the perpetually weak Nigerian Naira. A currency serves two main purposes : A currency is a store of value and a medium of exchange. The figure below illustrates the production of ATP from glucose. Figure 1. Glucose metabolism :::  Basic medical key ATP AS AN ENERGY CURRENCY Let us examine the structure of ATP a bit closely to glean some information about its characteristics.