Video: Making the French Toast of Café Bread, Espresso & (パンとエスプレッソと) in Japan at Home

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More Data Suggests New Coronavirus Variants Weaken Vaccines, Treatments

There’s new evidence that fast-spreading variants of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 are more resistant to antibody treatments and vaccines.

Researchers assessed variants first identified in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Brazil and found that they can evade antibodies that work well against the original version of the coronavirus that triggered the pandemic.

This means that the new variants — which are expected to become dominant — could reduce the effectiveness of vaccines and antibody-based drugs used to prevent or treat COVID-19, according to investigators from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The findings are from laboratory tests of antibodies in the blood of people who’d recovered from infection with the coronavirus or were vaccinated with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

The researchers also tested antibodies in the blood of mice, hamsters and monkeys that had been vaccinated with an experimental COVID-19 vaccine that was developed at the university and can be given through the nose.

The results showed that much higher levels of antibodies are needed to neutralize the variants.

“We’re concerned that people whom we’d expect to have a protective level of antibodies because they have had COVID-19 or been vaccinated against it, might not be protected against the new variants,” said study senior author Dr. Michael Diamond, professor of medicine and of molecular microbiology and of pathology and immunology.

“There’s wide variation in how much antibody a person produces in response to vaccination or natural infection. Some people produce very high levels, and they would still likely be protected against the new, worrisome variants. But some people, especially older and immunocompromised people, may not make such high levels of antibodies,” he explained in a university news release.

“If the level of antibody needed for protection goes up tenfold, as our data indicate it does, they may not have enough. The concern is that the people who need protection the most are the ones least likely to have it,” Diamond said.

He noted that it’s not known what the consequences of the new variants will be yet.

“Antibodies are not the only measure of protection; other elements of the immune system may be able to compensate for increased resistance to antibodies. That’s going to be determined over time, epidemiologically, as we see what happens as these variants spread,” Diamond said.

“Will we see reinfections? Will we see vaccines lose efficacy and drug resistance emerge? I hope not,” he said. “But it’s clear that we will need to continually screen antibodies to make sure they’re still working as new variants arise and spread and potentially adjust our vaccine and antibody-treatment strategies.”

The study was published in the journal Nature Medicine.

Source: HealthDay

Character Snacks

Cat snack set for Spring

The snacks are available for a limited time at Hotel New Hankyu Osaka Bakery & Café “Blue Jin” for 2,200 yen (tax included).

Calming Us Down or Revving Us Up, Music Can be Good for the Heart

Michael Precker wrote . . . . . . . . .

Stuck in traffic, with a nasty storm making a stressful commute even worse, Joanne Loewy reached for the car radio.

“I felt my heartbeat rise,” said Loewy, director of the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City. “So I switched to the Bach cello suite in my ‘traffic burden’ playlist. I just … said, ‘I’m not going to worry. I’m just going to breathe and release it all.'”

At the other end of the metronome, Dr. David Alter, who studies the use of music in promoting cardiac health, uses the Rolling Stones to help him power through a workout.

“It’s almost like a medicine,” said Alter, a cardiologist at University Health Network in Toronto, and a senior scientist at its KITE Research Institute. “Our research, recently published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise, has shown that music can distract us from the pain of exercise. That’s why we may be able to exercise longer or more intensively with music.”

Such is the therapeutic power of music. Even in ancient times, Greek physicians used flutes and stringed instruments for healing. Today, researchers are still sorting out the health benefits.

“There is an overall perception that music does us good,” Alter said. “But we need to prove it scientifically. I do think we’re getting more rigorous in our scientific approach.”

Recent studies underscore the point. A 2020 study published in the Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery showed music therapy eased pain, anxiety and depression among people recovering from coronary bypass surgery.

Similarly, people with episodes of chest pain soon after a heart attack who listened to music for 30 minutes a day over seven years reported less anxiety and chest pain – and had a lower rate of cardiac death – than those who did not. Those preliminary findings were released last March at the American College of Cardiology’s virtual conference.

A 2018 study in Scientific Reports even suggests music therapy could make high blood pressure medication more effective.

In general, Alter said, there are two schools of thought about why music is effective.

“One says the music itself can stimulate all the healthy hormones and body functions to lower blood pressure and improve heart rates,” he said. “But the other school of thought says it’s really the behaviors we’re doing that are helping our heart, and music is just helping us improve those behaviors.”

The latter argument, Alter said, is especially true for one of the most important things people can do for their heart: exercise.

“We know that exercise is a game changer in terms of survival, longevity and quality of life,” he said. “I don’t think those are governed directly by the music, but music can help us with those healthy lifestyle choices and behaviors, and they improve our heart function.”

The rhythms of music, Loewy said, can influence breathing, which also affects heart function. Besides the benefits of lowering stress, she said, “breathing and heart rates go hand in hand. We know if we can slow the pulmonary function and have stronger inhalations where more oxygen is absorbed in the blood, we’ll have better cardiac outcomes.”

The clear conclusion, Loewy said, is music should be part of everyone’s health plan. Her center serves people of all ages and many conditions, from developmentally delayed children to young people with emotional issues and adults with chronic illnesses.

“Every person may benefit from a different kind of music based on their culture, their past history, their genes and their resilience,” she said. “A music therapist can help figure out what is healthiest for you.”

Even without consulting a professional, healthy people can put music to work for them every day – and night. Find the right accompaniment to charge up a workout, then play a more soothing tune to ease into a good night’s sleep.

“I like Eminem, but it activates me. So, I know I shouldn’t be listening to that before I go to sleep,” said Loewy, who suggests turning off TVs and devices an hour before bedtime. “Find some music that relaxes you.”

Source: American Heart Association

Mixed Grain and Nut Brittle

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup fried farro
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons popped amaranth
1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios

Method

  1. Line a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper.
  2. Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium, heavy saucepan. Stir gently over high heat just until sugar dissolves (do not stir beyond this point).
  3. Cook sugar mixture over medium-high heat until light golden brown (about 8 to 10 minutes).
  4. Remove pan from heat. Gently stir in almonds and fried farro. Immediately pour mixture onto prepared pan. Spread into a 10 x 10-inch square. Let stand 4 minutes or until cool enough to handle (do not allow to cool completely before cutting).
  5. Cut in half crosswise using a pizza wheel or large heavy knife for 2 (5 x 10-inch pieces). Cut each piece lengthwise into 8 pieces. Cool completely.
  6. Place chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until chocolate melts, stirring every 20 seconds.
  7. Dip about 2 inches of one end of each brittle strip into chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. Place on parchment paper. Sprinkle chocolate evenly with amaranth and pistachios. Refrigerate until chocolate sets.

Makes 16 servings.

Source: Everyday Whole Grain


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