It seems idiotic that whole wheat bread, rice and other products should be more
expensive than bleached products that undergo additional procedures before
reaching the supermarket shelves. In addition, low-fat dairy products, which are
also healthier, should be cheaper than high-fat ones, as the fat can be siphoned
off and used to make ice cream, for example.
Thus, it would make sense
for the government to encourage the consumption of whole-grained and low-fat
products, as this reduces weight, minimizes clogged coronary arteries and lowers
blood sugar and is more healthful than other products.
Grotto, head of the Health Ministry’s public health services, is now attempting
to change the list of price-controlled food products to include the healthful
ones and eliminate those that are less so. In a letter he sent recently to
officials in the Agriculture and Economic and Trade Ministries, Grotto urged
that dairy products with under five percent fat, as well as wholegrained
products, be added to the list, with butter, cream, fatty cheeses and standard
He noted that the annual cost of treating chronic diseases
caused by improper nutrition is NIS 9 billion.
Lower prices for basic
foods encourage weaker socioeconomic groups to buy them, and as these
populations generally suffer from poorer health than the well off, such a change
would undoubtedly improve their health significantly once they get used to the
The fact that senior Treasury bureaucrats have for decades
backed putting VAT tax on fresh produce is also surprising, as though it would
bring in short-term income, the cost in terms of health services for a sicker
population would wipe out such financial benefits.
MATERIALS INTO CELLS A mechanism that permits essential substances to enter our
cells while at the same time removing harmful components from the cells also has
a downside. This negative aspect prevents vital drugs, such as anti-cancer
drugs, from achieving their designed function, and also enables bacterial cells
to develop resistance to penetration of antibiotics, according to researchers at
the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and colleagues in Germany.
aimed at a fuller understanding of how this selective mechanism works – with a
view toward better controlling it through new drug designs – is the subject of
an article just published in Proceedings of the[US] National Academy of
The trafficking of materials in and out of cells is controlled
by a variety of proteins found in the membrane surrounding living cells, called
transporters. It is these transporters that fulfill the important function of
allowing entrance of vital compounds on one hand and disposal of toxic compounds
on the other.
While providing an essential survival mechanism for the
organism, the transporters that remove toxic compounds from the cell have also
been associated with the ability of the bacterial cell to develop resistance to
antibiotics. In mammalian cells, transporters are responsible for some types of
resistance of cancer cells to antineoplastic drugs (drugs against
Since this resistance poses serious problems
in the treatment of cancers and infectious diseases, these proteins are an
important target for drug design.
To go further in this research, a more
complete knowledge of the transporter mechanism is required. It is, however, a
well-established fact that an essential part of the mechanism stems from the
ability of the transporter to change conformations. Thus, the binding site of a
particular transporter is alternatively exposed either to the cell cytoplasm
inside the cell or to the outside environment, enabling the protein to bind
materials on one side of the cell and transport them to the other
The research conducted by HU Prof. Shimon Schuldiner and colleagues
at Frankfurt’s Max Planck Institute focused on a model transporter expressed in
the brain named VMAT (vesicular monoamine transporter, which transports a
variety of neurotransmitters in the brain such as adrenaline, dopamine and
serotonin. In addition, it can also transport MPP, a neurotoxin involved in
models of Parkinson’s disease.
A computational method was used to develop
a novel model simulating the protein’s 3D structure. The model led to a series
of biochemical experiments, which in turn provided a better understanding of the
transporter’s conformational changes. The researchers hope that this knowledge
may, in the future, help in designing drugs for treating pathologies involving
transporters similar to VMAT, including infectious and neurological
CIALIS FOR MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS? Erectile dysfunction drugs such
as Cialis can improve the performance of mountain climbers, according to new
research published recently in The Journal of Travel Medicine and reported on in
Sheba Medical Center’s March newsletter. Prof. Eli Schwartz, who runs Sheba’s
travelers’ clinic, said that the study was performed among 51 mountain climbers
on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, among them Tel Aviv University psychiatrist
Prof. Haji Hermesh.
Half of the sportsmen took a drug for treating height
sickness, while the rest took Cialis. Those who took the erectile dysfunction
pill did much better than those who took the height-sickness drug; they suffered
less from edema (swelling) of the lungs and brain and more succeeded in reaching
the summit. The study – the first of its type in the world – showed that there
may be additional uses for drugs like Cialis and Viagra besides treating sexual
NURSING MOTHERS DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT DIET Many new
mothers fear eating the “wrong” foods while breastfeeding will make their baby
fussy, but no sound scientific evidence exists to support such claims, according
to dietitian Gina Neill of a Loyola University in Chicago.
“One of the
many reasons women stop breastfeeding is because they believe they have to
follow restrictive dietary guidelines,” Neill said. “However, a nursing mom’s
food and beverage intake does not have to be as regimented as you might
However, there still are things to be careful of, Neill said.
Breastfeeding women should minimize their alcohol intake ,and should not eat
deep-sea fish containing high levels of mercury (other fish are fine). Most
breastfeeding women can drink a moderate amount of coffee (up to three cups
daily), but if their infants have trouble sleeping or become irritable, they
should try drinking less.
Even when a baby does react to a particular
element of the mother’s diet, the specific food involved will vary from infant
to infant. A true allergy will usually produce a skin rash or blood in the
baby’s stool. Such reactions usually occur between two and six weeks of age, but
may occur earlier. Elimination diets can identify what is triggering an allergic