What’s for Dinner?

Home-cooked One Soup and One Main Dish Dinner

Spring Soup

Seared Herb-crusted Pork with Vegetables

Shift-work Causes Negative Impacts on Health, Affects Men and Women Differently

Shift-work and irregular work schedules can cause several health-related issues and affect our defence against infection, according to new research from the University of Waterloo.

These health-related issues occur because the body’s natural clock, called the circadian clock, can be disrupted by inconsistent changes in the sleep-wake schedule and feeding patterns often caused by shift work. To study this, researchers at Waterloo developed a mathematical model to look at how a disruption in the circadian clock affects the immune system in fighting off illness.

“Because our immune system is affected by the circadian clock, our ability to mount an immune response changes during the day,” said Anita Layton, professor of Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, Pharmacy and Biology at Waterloo. “How likely are you to fight off an infection that occurs in the morning than midday? The answer depends on whether you are a man or a woman, and whether you are among quarter of the modern-day labour force that has an irregular work schedule.”

The researchers created new computational models, separately for men and women, which simulate the interplay between the circadian clock and the immune system. The model is composed of the core clock genes, their related proteins, and the regulatory mechanism of pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators. By adjusting the clock, the models can simulate male and female shift-workers.

The results of these computer simulations conclude that the immune response varies with the time of infection. Model simulation suggests that the time before we go to bed is the “worst” time to get an infection. That is the period of the day when our body is least prepared to produce the pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators needed during an infection. Just as importantly, an individual’s sex impacts the severity of the infection.

“Shift-work likely affects men and women differently,” said Stéphanie Abo, a PhD candidate in Waterloo’s Department of Applied Mathematics. “Compared to females, the immune system in males is more prone to overactivation, which can increase their chances of sepsis following an ill-timed infection.”

The study, Modeling the circadian regulation of the immune system: sexually dimorphic effects of shift work, authored by Waterloo’s Faculty of Mathematics’ Layton and Abo, was recently published in the journal PLoS Computational Biology.

Source: University of Waterloo

In Pictures: Food of Liu Yuan Pavilion (留園雅敘) in Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Shanghainese Cuisine

The Michelin 1-star Restaurant

Salt Sensitivity May Increase Risk of High Blood Pressure

Thor Christensen wrote . . . . . . . . .

People who are salt-sensitive may have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, according to a study that points to the need for better genetic testing for sodium sensitivity.

Scientists already knew high salt sensitivity is more common among people with high blood pressure, which is a leading preventable risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But researchers wanted to investigate whether salt sensitivity caused hypertension or happened as result of it.

The new study, published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, determined the salt-sensitivity level of 1,604 Chinese adults by putting them on a seven-day low-salt diet, followed by a seven-day high-salt diet. After following the participants for an average of 7.4 years, researchers found that people with high sodium sensitivity were 43% more likely to develop high blood pressure than those with moderate sensitivity.

The findings suggest sodium sensitivity is a cause, not a consequence, of high blood pressure, said study author Dr. Jiang He.

“This really supports the idea that we need to pay more attention to reducing salt intake in the general population,” said He, professor of epidemiology and director of the Translational Science Institute at Tulane University in New Orleans.

In addition to helping prevent high blood pressure, cutting back on salt has an added benefit, according to past studies: It reduces stiff arteries, a condition associated with heart attack and stroke.

The new research was part of the Genetic Epidemiology Network of Salt Sensitivity, or GenSalt study, which included genetic testing. Researchers said it was the largest diet-feeding study to test blood pressure sodium sensitivity and resistance.

However, the genetic aspect of the study was “very challenging,” He said.

“We were not successful in identifying either genetic variants or other biomarkers for salt sensitivity. We clearly need more research in this area to identify simple ways to identify people who are salt-sensitive.”

The findings were also limited by the study being conducted solely in Chinese adults. A much larger study is needed in the U.S. that includes a diverse group of people who may be more sensitive to salt, He said.

“It’s an important study that took the difficult, unusual step of tracking blood pressure for years, which gives more credence to their findings. It’s a good first step,” said Dr. Gordon Harold Williams, who was not involved in the research.

The second step – developing genetic tests to find out which salt-sensitive people have increased risk for high blood pressure – will be more difficult, said Williams, who heads the Hormonal Mechanisms of Cardiovascular Injury Laboratory at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“It would be fairly easy to do this study if you did it with your eye color. But there are so many different mechanisms that can lead to salt sensitivity of blood pressure, so many environmental factors that can influence what a particular gene variance does in a given individual,” said Williams, also a professor at Harvard Medical School.

But Williams holds out hope that with enough research, scientists soon will be able to test people for higher salt-sensitivity risks just as they routinely test for genetic variations to guide cancer diagnosis and treatment.

“I think this study and this topic will energize people,” he said. “Hopefully, on the horizon, we will have personalized medicine for this, too.”

Source: American Heart Association

Lion’s Head Meatballs

Ingredients

1 lb ground pork
1 egg white
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
1/2 to 3/4 lb bok choy
1 tablespoon cornstarch
oil for frying
2 cups chicken stock

Method

  1. Put the pork and egg white in a food processor and process briefly until you have a fluffy mixture, or mash the ground pork in a large bowl and gradually stir in the egg white, beating the mixture well until it is fluffy.
  2. Add the scallion, rice wine, ginger, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil, season with salt and white pepper, and process or beat again briefly.
  3. Fry a small portion of the mixture and taste it, re-seasoning if necessary. Divide the mixture into walnut-size balls.
  4. Separate the boy choy leaves and place in the bottom of a clay pot or braising pan.
  5. Dust the meatballs with cornstarch. Heat a wok over high heat, add 1/2 inch oil and heat until very hot. Cook the meatballs in batches until they are browned all over. Drain well and add to the clay pot in an even layer.
  6. Pour off the oil and wipe out the wok.
  7. Reheat the wok over high heat until very hot, add the chicken stock and heat until it is boiling. Pour over the meatballs. Cover and bring very slowly to a boil. Simmer gently with the lid slightly open for 1-1/2 hours, or until the meatballs are very tender. Serve the meatballs in the dish they were cooked in.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: The Food of China


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