Mouthwash May Help Reduce the Spread of Covid-19

Recent research has speculated that mouthwash may inhibit the spread of SARS-CoV-2 which is the virus responsible for COVID-19. The scientific review has suggested that publicly available mouthwashes may in theory, inhibit this virus.

If clinical trials do prove effective, the findings may provide another method for people to help reduce the spread of the virus while scientists continue to work on producing an effective and publicly available vaccine.

In the meantime, scientists are focused on ways to reduce the rate of infection to more controllable levels which will not overwhelm hospital intensive care units. One area of research has involved disrupting the way in which the virus can take over a cell of a host as it replicates itself.

SARS-CoV-2 like other types of coronaviruses, is an enveloped virus which means it creates an outer membrane through drawing on the cells of a host organism. This membrane will allow the virus to effectively replicate. If scientists can find a way to disrupt this envelope, then it may be possible to slow down the spread of the virus within an organism.

Using a disinfectant or soap and water can disrupt a viral envelope and therefore kill the virus. Research has shown that disinfectants can kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This is why the health community has encouraged people to wash their hands and surfaces with alcohol based products or soap on a regular basis.

The current review has proposed that some widely available mouthwashes may also be able to help fulfill the role of killing the virus.

It has been shown that the virus significantly replicates in the throat. This means that a patient with the virus is likely to have the highest concentration of the virus within this area. And with these high levels of the virus in the throat, it is easy for someone to transmit the virus through coughing, sneezing, and breathing.

Previous research into alcohol’s ability to disrupt the virus envelope has mainly focused on products with a high alcohol content of between 60% and 70%. This is due to manufacturers who typically design alcohol based products to be effective in a variety of circumstances including bacteria, viruses and fungi.

However, there is isn’t very much high quality research exploring how lower strength alcohol based products may also affect the viral envelope. The current studies team sought out to see if alcohol based mouthwashes which come into contact with a person’s throat, could in theory inhibit the transmission of the virus or at least reduce its severity.

If a significant spread of the virus originates in the throat, then it would make sense to trial the efficacy of products which may have the potential to kill the virus at this location. However, due to the speed of how the virus emerged, there is still much to learn about how it functions.

Scientists do not currently known how the virus moves from a person’s nose or throat to their lungs. It is possible this could occur through breathing in dead viral cell debris, viral shedding or neighboring cells becoming infected.

However, with the current urgency of the public health crisis, it is necessary to propose speculative theories which scientists can test in laboratories and then in clinical trials. And although there is little scientific literature which explores the effect of low alcohol concentrations on viral envelopes, the team drew on research that looked at the effects on mammalian cells.

The virus will develop its envelope from these cells. Therefore, it may be possible to compare the effects on these cells to the potential effects on the viral envelope.

The researchers discovered after studying the literature, there was good reason to suppose that some low alcohol based products may in theory be able to disrupt the viral envelope of SARS-CoV-2. They have made it clear though, their research is speculative. More research is needed, nonetheless this current work shows that in s principle this is a valuable area to study.

To view the original scientific study click below

Potential role of oral rinses targeting the viral lipid envelope in SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Can Eating Fish Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease?

According to a recent most exhaustive study carried out to date, researchers have found that consuming a diet rich in fish or Omega 3 modulates the concentration of lipids which are passed on to cells through lipoproteins and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The research was carried out by Universitat Rovira I Virgili along with researchers from Harvard Medical School.

Through analysis of lipoprotein samples from 26,034 women, the association between the consumption of Omega 3 and the reduction in the risk of suffering cardiovascular disease has been demonstrated by the research teams. It is the largest and most detailed study ever carried out. This study is particularly noteworthy because cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death with 1 in 3 people dying from a cardiovascular event.

Until recently, it has been shown that a high consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids was associated with lower levels of triglycerides in the blood. However, it has also been linked to an increase in LDL cholesterol which is low density cholesterol transported by lipoproteins and also known as bad cholesterol. LDL cholesterol increases the risk of a person developing cardiovascular diseases as it can accelerate the formation of atherosclerosis which is the process where the arteries harden and lose their elasticity.

However, the recent study has discovered that increased consumption of LDL cholesterol from fish is associated mainly with the cholesterol transported by the largest LDL particles which are less atherogenic, and not an increase in the total number of LDL particles. The decrease in the number of triglycerides transported by any type of lipoprotein will help protect a person from heart disease.

The three different types of Omega 3 fatty acids studied in the research, namely a-linoleic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are all present in fish and other foods and are known to be essential to human physiology. The study has discovered that they differ in their association with the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

It was found that there was no increase in the smallest LDL lipoproteins which transport cholesterol. Instead the increase was among the largest LDL lipoproteins which are not associated with the risk of heart disease. There was a decrease in all of the triglyceride transporting particles, and the average size of the HDL and LDL particles increased which is a phenomenon that is linked with increased protection from cardiovascular illness.

The conclusions were obtained through mathematical modeling of the consumption of fish and Omega 3 (both as a whole and of the different types of ALA, DHA and EPA) and the profile of lipoproteins. The study results were obtained by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance which can go much further than simply analyzing triglyceride and cholesterol content and can quantify the size and number of the different subtypes of plasmatic lipoprotein. Among the LDL particles that transport cholesterol, it is the smallest that are linked with a future cardiovascular event.

An additional and important element of the study is that the mathematical models that were used to evaluate the link between consumption of fish and the reduction in cardiovascular risk have isolated other nutritional factors that affect the result – such as the concentration of Omega 3 according to the origin of the fish (farmed or wild), the consumption of other foods, and traditional risk factors such as age, sedentary lifestyle, smoking and body mass index.

The study analyzed a cohort from the Women’s Health Study by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and affiliate of Harvard Medical School. It involved the use of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance to characterize the plasma of 26,034 women who had an average age of 53 (most participants were between 48 and 59 years of age).

After confirming the risk factor linked with cholesterol concentration, lipids, triglycerides and the different subtypes of particles is modulated by the consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids, the team now wants to find out if the consumption of fish is linked with lower mortality from both cardiovascular diseases and other causes. And although the risk is lower in relation to lipids, they want to look at other pro-inflammatory factors and questions such as exposure to heavy metals.

To view the original scientific study click below

The Possible Role of Vitamin D in Suppressing Cytokine Storm and Associated Mortality in COVID-19 Patients.

Vitamin D and Covid-19 Mortality Rates

Patients who exhibit a severe deficiency of Vitamin D are twice as likely to experience significant complications from COVID-19. Led by Northwestern University, the team conducting the research studied global data from the current COVID-19 pandemic and have discovered a strong correlation between a severe Vitamin D deficiency and mortality rates in patients with the virus.

The researchers analyzed data from 10 countries and found a correlation between low levels of Vitamin D and hyperactive immune systems. Vitamin D strengthens innate immunity and also prevents overactive immune responses. These findings may explain several mysteries including why children are unlikely to die from the virus.

The statistical analyses was from data at clinics and hospitals in France, Germany, China, Iran, Italy, Spain, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and the United States. The team observed that patients from the countries with high COVID-19 mortality rates, such as Spain, Italy and the UK, had lower levels of Vitamin D when compared to patients in the countries that were not as severely affected.

The data obtained from the study may also illuminate the mechanism of mortality and if proven, may lead to new therapeutic targets.

The team was inspired to study the vitamin after noticing unexplained differences in COVID-19 mortality rates from country to country. Some hypothesized that differences in age distributions in populations, differences in healthcare quality, testing rates, or different strains of the virus might be responsible. However, the team remained skeptical.

It appeared none of these factors seemed to play a significant role. In Italy, the healthcare system is one of the best in the world. And differences in mortality exist even when one looks across the identical age group. And while the restrictions on testing do vary, the disparities in mortality still exist when populations or countries for which similar testing rates apply. Instead, the team saw a significant correlation with a Vitamin D deficiency.

Through analyzing publicly available data from around the world, the team discovered a strong correlation between levels of Vitamin D and cytokine storm which is a hyperinflammatory condition caused by an overactive immune system, and also a correlation between the vitamin and mortality.

Cytokine storm can severely damage the lungs and can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome and even death in patients. This is what appears to kill the majority of COVID-19 patients and not the destruction of the lungs by the virus itself, but the complications that arise from the misdirected fire from the immune system.

This is where the team believes Vitamin D plays a significant role. Not only does the vitamin enhance our innate immune system, it will also prevent our immune systems from becoming dangerously overactive. This indicates that having healthy levels of Vitamin D may protect patients against developing severe complications including death from the virus.

The analysis has shown that it might be as high as cutting the mortality rate by 50%. It will not protect people from getting the virus, but it might reduce the development of complications and prevent death in those who have been infected with COVID-19.

The team explains that the correlation may help explain the many mysteries that surround the virus such as why children are less likely to die from the virus. Children do not have a fully developed acquired immune system which is the immune system’s second line of defense and is more likely to overreact. Children mainly rely on their innate immune system which may explain why their mortality rate is lower.

It is not known what dose is most beneficial and it will vary from person to person, however it is clear that a deficiency in the vitamin is harmful and it can easily be addressed with appropriate supplementation. This could be another key to helping protect the vulnerable populations such as elderly patients and African-Americans who typically have a prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency.

To view the original scientific study click below

The Possible Role of Vitamin D in Suppressing Cytokine Storm and Associated Mortality in COVID-19 Patients.

Loss of Taste and Smell Linked to Higher Chance of Covid-19

Both the loss of taste and smell have been anecdotally linked to a higher chance of developing the COVID-19 virus. The recent study has shown people are more than 10 times more likely to develop the virus infection than any other causes of infection.

Researchers at UC San Diego Health have reported that the first empirical findings strongly associate sensory loss with COVID-19. The team surveyed 1,480 patients who had flu-like symptoms and concerns regarding the potential of infection. Contained in that total, 102 patients tested positive for the virus and 1,378 tested negative. The study included responses from 203 COVID-19 negative patients and 59 positive patients.

68% of the positive participants reported loss of smell and 71% reported loss of taste as compared with 16% and 17% of negative patients respectively. None of the participants in the study required hospitalization or invasive breathing support. However, if social distancing was not in place, these individuals could possibly spread the infection to others within their community despite not experiencing severe symptoms.

The study has demonstrated the unique presentation and high prevalence of certain sensory impairments in patients who were positive with the virus. Of those patients who reported loss of taste and smell the loss typically profound and not mild. However, encouragingly the rate of recovery of taste and smell was high and typically occurred within two to four weeks after infection.

The study not only showed that the high occurrence of taste and smell loss is specific to the COVID-19 virus, but also fortunately has shown that the majority of people experienced sensory recovery fairly rapidly. Within the COVID-19 patients with loss of smell, more than 70% reported improvement in smell at the time of the survey. Most of those who hadn’t reported improvement had only been diagnosed recently.

The return of taste and smell typically matched the timing of recovery from the disease. Interestingly, the researchers found that people who reported experiencing a sore throat more often tested negative for the virus.

To help decrease the risk of virus transmission, UC San Diego Health now includes loss of taste and smell as a screening requirement for staff and visitors. The screening is also a marker for testing patients who might be positive for the virus.

Other symptoms of COVID-19 include fatigue, fever, difficulty breathing, and cough. Respondents in the study were most often people with milder forms of COVID-19 infection who did not require hospitalization or intubation. The team’s findings stress the importance of identifying subtle and early symptoms of the virus in people who might be at risk of transmitting the disease as they recuperate within their community.

The CDC has officially listed loss of taste and smell as symptoms of the virus which is a validation of the ruminating concerns about these symptoms around the world. It is the hope that the team’s findings inspire other institutions to follow suit and not only list taste and smell loss as a symptom of the virus, but also use it as a screening measure for the virus around the world.

To view the original scientific study click below

Association of chemosensory dysfunction and Covid-19 in patients presenting with influenza-like symptoms.

Does Sleep Loss Cause Obesity?

New research has found that quite the opposite is true. Previously a growing body of research has suggested that a poor quality of sleep is linked to an increased risk of obesity through deregulating appetite which results in higher caloric consumption. However, the latest study actually shows a flip side to that suggesting obesity leads to poor sleep. It isn’t the loss of sleep that leads to obesity, but instead it is excess weight that can lead to poor sleep.

It is thought that sleep is a function of the body trying to conserve energy where energetic levels are going down. The recent studies findings suggest that if a person were to fast for a day, they would get sleepy because their energetic stores would be depleted.

In humans, acute disruption of sleep can result in an increase in appetite and also insulin resistance. People who chronically get less than 6 hours of sleep per night are more likely to be diabetic and obese. However, starvation in rats, worms, fruit flies and humans has been shown to affect sleep which indicates that it is regulated at least in part by the availability of nutrients. However, the ways in which eating and sleeping work in tandem has been unclear.

The study team wanted to know what is sleep actually doing? Short periods of sleep and other chronic conditions such as diabetes, are linked but it is just an association. It isn’t clear if short sleep is causing the propensity for obesity or instead that the obesity itself causes the propensity of short sleep.

To research the association between sleep and metabolism, the team genetically altered C elegan worms to turn off a neuron that controls sleep. These worms could still breathe, eat and reproduce, but lost their ability to sleep. With the neuron disabled, the team saw a severe drop in adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels which is the body’s energy currency.

In earlier research, a gene in C elegans called KIN-29 was studied. This particular gene is homologous to the Salt Inducible Kinase (SIK-3) gene in humans. This gene was already known to signal sleep pressure. When the researchers knocked out the KIN-29 gene to create sleepless worms, the mutant C elegans accumulated excess fat which resembles the human condition of obesity, even though their ATP levels were reduced.

The team hypothesized that the release of fat stores is a mechanism by which sleep is promoted and the reasons KIN-29 mutants did not sleep was because they were unable to liberate the fat. To test this, the team again manipulated the KIN-29 mutant worms this time expressing an enzyme that freed up their fat. With that manipulation, the worms were once again able to sleep.

The team said this could explain a reason why people who are obese may experience sleep problems. There may be a signaling problem between the brain cells that control sleep and fat stores.

There is still much to unravel about sleep, however the new research provides a step closer to understanding sleep’s core functions and how to treat common sleep disorders. There appears to be a common overarching sentiment within the sleep field that sleep is all about the brain or the nerve cells. The new work suggests that may not be true. There are complex interactions between the brain and the rest of the human body that connects to regulation of sleep.

To view the original scientific study click below

A salt-induced kinase is required for the metabolic regulation of sleep.

Vitamin D Supplementation may Reduce Risk of Both the Flu and Covid-19

With the world in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health measures that could reduce the risk of infection and death along with less quarantines are desperately needed. Vitamin D supplementation shows promise in reducing those risks in both the COVID-19 virus and influenza.

Through a variety of mechanisms, Vitamin D can reduce the risk of infections. These mechanisms include inducing defensins and cathelicidins which are both cysteine rich cationic proteins that play a critical role in mammalian innate immune defense against invasive bacterial infections. These proteins can lower viral replication rates and reduce concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines that produce the inflammation that injures the lining of the lungs and leads to pneumonia as well as increasing concentrations of anti-inflammatory cytokines.

Vitamin D is a modulator of adaptive immunity. It suppresses responses mediated by the T help cell type by primarily repressing production of inflammatory cytokines. Serum concentrations tend to decrease with age which may be critical to COVID-19 because case fatality rates increase with age.

Several clinical trials and observational studies have reported that Vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of influenza, whereas others did not. Evidence supporting the role Vitamin D may play in reducing the risk of COVID-19 includes that the outbreak occurred in winter which is a time when
25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations are at their lowest. The number of cases in the Southern Hemisphere near the end of summer are low. Additionally it has been found that Vitamin D deficiency has been found to contribute to acute respiratory distress syndrome and that case fatality rates increase with age and with chronic disease comorbidity both of which are associated with lower (25(OH)D) concentration.

To minimize the risk of infection, it is recommended that people who are at risk of influenza and/or COVID-19 consider taking 10,000 IU/d of Vitamin D3 for a few weeks to rapidly raise 25(OH)D) levels followed by 5,000 IU/d. The goal is to raise 25(OH)D) concentrations above 40-60 ng/mL. For the treatment of people who have already become infection with COVID-19, higher levels of Vitamin D3 doses could be useful.

Magnesium supplementation is recommended when taking Vitamin D supplements as it helps activate Vitamin D which in turn helps regulate calcium and phosphate homeostasis to influence the growth and maintenance of bones. All enzymes which will metabolize Vitamin D appear to require Magnesium which acts as a cofactor in the enzymatic reactions in the kidneys and liver. The dose of Magnesium should be in the range of 250-500 mg/d along with twice the dose of calcium.

Although some contradictory data exists, available evidence indicates that supplementation with multiple micronutrients with immune supporting roles may modulate immune function and help reduce the risk of infection. Micronutrients with the strongest evidence for immune support are Vitamins D and C along with Zinc.

To view the original scientific study click below

Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths.

Stem Cell Technology Rejuvenates Old Human Cells

According to a new study by researchers at Stanford University of Medicine, old human cells will return to a more vigorous and youthful state following being induced to briefly express a protein panel involved in embryonic development. They team also discovered that elderly mice regained their youthful strength after their existing muscle stem cells were subjected to the protein treatment rejuvenation and then transplanted back into their bodies.

The proteins which are known as Yamanaka factors are typically used to transform adults cells into induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells. These iPS cells can become nearly any type of cell within the body regardless of the cell from which they originated. They have become important in regenerative medicine and drug discoveries.

The current study found that inducing old human cells in a lab dish for a brief period to express these proteins rewinds many of the molecular hallmarks of aging. They render the treated cells nearly indistinguishable from their younger counterparts.

When adult cells make iPS cells they become pluripotent and youthful. The team wondered if it might be possible to just rewind the aging clock without inducing pluripotency. They found that by tightly controlling the duration of the exposure to these protein factors, they were able to promote rejuvenation in multiple types of human cells.

The researchers make iPS cells from adult cells such as those that compose skin through repeatedly exposing them over a two week period to a panel of proteins which are vital to early embryonic development. They do so by introducing daily short lived RNA messages into the adult cells. The RNA messages then encode the instructions for making the Yamanaka proteins. These proteins over time rewind the fate of the cell by pushing them backward along the timeline of development until they resemble young, embryonic like pluripotent cells from which they originated.

During the process the cells shed any memories of their previous identities and they revert to a younger state. They accomplish this by wiping their DNA clean of the molecular tags that not only differentiate for example a skin cell from a heart muscle cell, but of other tags that accumulate as cell age.

The team wondered if old human cells would respond similarly and whether the response would be limited to a few cell types or generalizable for many tissues. They created a way to use genetic material called messenger RNA to temporarily express six reprogramming factors which were the four Yamanaka factors plus two additional proteins found in blood vessel cells and human skin. Messenger RNA will rapidly degrade in cells which allowed the researchers to tightly control the duration of the signal.

The team then compared the gene expression pattern of the treated cells and control cells which were both obtained from older adults, with those of untreated cells from younger people. They discovered that cells from the older adults exhibited signs of aging reversal following four days of exposure to the reprogramming factors. However the untreated older cells expressed higher levels of genes associated with known aging pathways. Treated older cells more closely resembled younger cells in their patterns of gene expression.

When they studied the patterns of aging associated chemical tags which are known as methyl groups which serve as indicators of a cell’s chronological age, they discovered that the treated cells appeared to be approximately 1-1/2 to 3-1/2 younger on average than the untreated cells from the older people. They showed peaks of 3-1/2 years (in skin cells) and 7-1/2 years in cells that line blood vessels.

The researchers then compared several hallmarks of aging including how cells metabolize compounds to create energy and dispose of cellular trash and how cells sense nutrients, among cells from young people, treated cells from older adults and untreated cells fro older adults.

They saw a dramatic rejuvenation across all the hallmarks but one in all the types of cells that were tested. The last and most experiment was done stem cells found in the muscles. Although these cell types are naturally endowed with the ability to self renew, this ability wanes with aging. The team wondered if they could also rejuvenate these stem cells and have a long term effect?

When they transplanted elderly mouse muscle stem cells that had been treated back into elderly mice, the mice regained the muscle strength similar to younger mice.

The team then isolated cells from the cartilage of people without and with osteoarthritis. They discovered that the temporary exposure of the osteoarthritic cells to the reprogramming factors reduced the secretion of inflammatory molecules and also improved the ability of the cells to divide and function.

The team is now optimizing the panel of reprogramming proteins needed to rejuvenate human cells. They are also looking at the possibility of treating tissues or cells without removing them from the body.

To view the original scientific study click below

Transient non-integrative expression of nuclear reprogramming factors promotes multifaceted amelioration of aging in human cells.

Best Materials for Homemade Face Masks

During the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic the CDC recommends people wear face masks in public. Due to the shortage of N95 and surgical masks, they have recommended people make their own coverings. Some materials can filter out particles much better than others, significantly affecting how well a homemade face mask may protect a person from the virus.

The COVID-19 virus is thought to spread mainly through respiratory droplets when an infected person speaks, breathes, coughs or sneezes. The droplets form in a wide range of sizes, however the tiniest ones called aerosols can easily slip through the openings between a variety of cloth fibers. This has lead to some people questioning as to whether cloth masks can actually help prevent disease.

Supratik Guha at the University of Chicago and colleagues set out to study the ability of common fabrics alone or in combination to filter out aerosols similar in size to respiratory droplets.

The team used an aerosol mixing chamber to produce particles that range from 10nm to 6um in diameter. A fan was used to blow the aerosol across a variety of cloth samples at an airflow rate similar to a person’s respiration at rest. The team then measured the size and number of particles in air before and following passing through the fabrics.

One layer of tightly woven cloth along with two layers of polyester-spandex chiffon which is a sheet fabric often used in evening gowns, filtered out the most aerosol particles ((80-99%)depending on particle size with performance close to that of an N95 mask.

They then substituted natural silk or flannel or simply using cotton quilt with cotton-polyester batting which produced similar results. The team has pointed out that tightly woven fabrics such as cotton can act as a mechanical barrier to particles. Fabrics that hold a static charge such as chiffon and natural silk serve as an electrostatic barrier.

Researchers are reporting that a combination of cotton with either natural silk or chiffon can effectively filter out aerosol particles if the fit is good. You can also use doubled up 600 thread count pillowcases or flannel pajamas or cotton T-shirts which will make a mask that will provide up to 60% filtration. Other materials that can be used to filter our dangerous particles include vacuum cleaner bags, HEPA filters, and quilter’s cotton. You do want to be careful of materials like household air filters that many contain fiberglass which can damage the lungs even if they filter out particles.

To view the original scientific study click below

Aerosol Filtration Efficiency of Common Fabrics Used in Respiratory Cloth Masks.

Salt Weakens the Immune System

A current study under leadership at the University Hospital Bonn, has concluded that a high salt diet not only is bad for blood pressure, but also for the immune system. Mice who were fed a high salt diet were found to suffer from more severe bacterial infections. Human volunteers who also consumed high levels of salt also showed pronounced immune deficiencies.

Sodium chloride which is the chemical name for salt, raises blood pressure which leads to the risk of stroke or heart attack. However, not only that – the recent study has proved for the first time that excessive intake of salt also significantly weakens an important part of the immune system.

The research team found their findings unexpected as previous studies pointed in the opposite direction. For example, infections with certain skin parasites in lab animals heal much faster if they consume a high salt diet. The macrophages which are immune cells that attack, eat and digest parasites, are very active in the presence of salt. Several doctors concluded therefore that salt has a generally immune enhancing effect.

The results from the current study show this generalization to be inaccurate. There were two reasons for this. The body keeps the salt concentration in the blood and in a variety of organs largely constant. Otherwise biological processes within the body would be impaired. The only major exception is the skin as it functions as a salt reservoir for the body. This is the reason additional intake of salt works so well for some diseases of the skin.

However, other parts of the body are not exposed to the additional salt that is consumed with food. It is filtered by the kidneys then excreted in the urine. This is where the second mechanism comes into play. The kidneys have a sodium chlorine sensor that will activate the salt excretion function. As a negative side effect however, this sensor also causes so called glucocorticoids to accumulate in the body. These in turn inhibit the function of granulocytes which are the most common type of immune cell contained in blood.

Granulocytes are scavenger cells. However, they do not attack parasites but mainly bacteria. If they are not able to do this to a sufficient degree, infections will proceed much more severely. The team was able to show this in mice that had listeria infections.

The team fed one group of mice a high salt diet and gave a normal diet to a control group of mice for comparison. In the liver and spleen of the mice fed a high salt diet they counted 100 to 1,000 times the number of disease causing pathogens. Listeria are bacteria that can be found in contaminated food for instance and can result in fever, vomiting and sepsis.

They also found infections of the urinary tract were found to heal much more slowly in lab mice that had been fed a high salt diet. The team traced this impaired ability to fight off bacteria infections to immune cells called neutrophils which digest bacteria. They believe the kidneys’ response to the high salt diet may indirectly affect the neutrophils.

Salt also appears to have a negative effect on the human immune system. The team examined participants who consumed six grams of salt in addition to their normal daily intake. This is about the amount contained in two fast food meals – two burgers and two servings of french fries. After one week, the team took blood from the participants and examined the granulocytes. The immune cells coped much worse with bacteria after the participants had started to consume a high salt diet.

In was also noted in the human participants, the excessive salt intake also resulted in increased glucocorticoid levels which inhibits the immune system. The best known glucocorticoid cortisone is typically used to suppress inflammation. Only through the team’s investigations in an entire organism were they able to uncover the complex control circuits that lead from salt intake to this particular immunodeficiency.

The findings are preliminary, and need larger clinical studies to confirm. However, according to the World Health Organization, a person should never consume more than 5 grams a day of salt. This amount corresponds to about one level teaspoon. Data from the Robert Koch Institute show that on average men consume 10 grams of salt per day and women 8 grams per day.

To view the original scientific study click below

A high-salt diet compromises antibacterial neutrophil responses through hormonal perturbation.

Unmasking the Differences between Face Masks

Surgical masks and N95 respirators are examples of personal protective equipment (PPE) which are used to protect the wearer from liquid contamination and airborne particles from contaminating the face. It is important to know the optimal way to prevent airborne transmission. Each type of mask and also cloth face masks serve different functions.

N95 respirators are tested and approved by the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health). Their intended use and purpose is to protect the wearer from exposure to particles including small particle aerosols and large droplets. They are designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles.

The N95 designation means that when subjected to careful testing, the respirator blocks a minimum of 95% of very small (0.3 micron) test particles. When fitted properly, the filtration capabilities of these type respirators exceed those of face masks. However, they do not completely eliminate the risk of illness. Leakage can occur around the edge of the mask when user inhales. N95 respirators are disposable and ideally should be discarded after each patient encounter and/or when the unit no longer forms an effective seal to the face, becomes wet or visibly dirty, breathing becomes difficult, or it becomes contaminated with blood, respiratory or nasal secretions or other bodily fluids from patients.

N95 masks are typically used in healthcare settings. The CDC does not recommend the general public wear N95 respirators to protect themselves from respiratory diseases including COVID-19. These masks are critical supplies that are primarily reserved for health care workers and first responders as recommended by the CDC.

Surgical masks are loose fitting, disposable devices that create a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment. They are typically used to to protect the wearer from splashed sprays and large particle droplets. They also prevent the spread of potentially infectious respiratory secretions from the wearers to others. They are tested and approved by the FDA.

Surgical masks are loose fitting and can vary in design. However, the mask itself is often flat and rectangular in shape with pleats or folds. The top of the mask contains a metal strip which can be formed to a person’s nose. Elastic bands or long straight ties help hold a surgical mask in place while being worn – either looped behind the ears or tied behind the head.

While a surgical mask is meant to block large particle droplets, splashes, sprays or splatter that might contain germs (bacteria and viruses), they do not filter or block very small particles in the air that could be transmitted by sneezes, coughs or certain medical procedures. They do not provide complete protection from germs and other contaminants due to their loose fit between the surface of the face mask and face. They are intended for one use only and should be discarded after each patient encounter.

Cloth face coverings many of which can be homemade, only offer a small degree of protection, but the may also help the slow spread of the COVID-19 virus. These type masks are what the CDC is recommending for use by the general public when in public settings.

Face cloths should not be placed on children under the age of 2, people who have breathing difficulties, people who are unconscious, or people who are unable to remove the mask on their own. They should be washed after each use. When removing a person should be careful not to touch their nose, eyes or mouth and hands should be washed immediately after removal.

They can be made from common materials. It should be kept in mind by wearers of these type masks that they can provide a false sense of security. While they do offer some degree of protection, they offer a lot less protection than respirators or surgical masks. One study indicated that homemade face masks may be half as effective as surgical masks and up to 50 times less effective than N95 respirators. However, they are better than not using any mask and offer some protection especially where social distancing is hard to maintain.