Archives For February 2013

by: Alice Park (Time Magazine)

The Mediterranean diet is a well-known weapon in the fight against heart disease, but exactly how effective is it?


To find out, researchers led by Dr. Ramón Estruch, from the Department of Internal Medicine at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, put the Mediterranean diet to the test against a low-fat diet. They followed participants to track rates of heart attack, stroke and heart-disease-related death. After nearly five years, the results were so striking for one group that the study was stopped early, according to research published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The group that showed the least heart problems and lowest rate of heart disease deaths? Those who ate a Mediterranean diet high in extra-virgin olive oil. Coming in at a close second were participants who ate a Mediterranean diet high in nuts. Compared with those eating the low-fat diet, the extra-virgin-olive-oil group showed a 30% lower risk of having a heart attack, stroke or dying of heart disease after five years, while those consuming the Mediterranean diet with more nuts showed a 28% lower risk of these outcomes.

(MORE: Mediterranean Diet Linked to Lower Child-Asthma Risk)

“We think the strength of this study comes from the fact that we measured hard outcomes and not just blood pressure or changes in cholesterol levels,” says Estruch. “We really believe the Mediterranean diet lowers incidence of [heart attack], stroke and cardiovascular deaths.”

Previous studies have linked Mediterranean diets to fewer heart attacks and deaths from heart disease, but most of those have correlated people’s recall of their diet with heart-disease outcomes rather than randomly assigning participants to eat specific diets and then following them for heart-disease risk, as Estruch and his colleagues did.

In the study, the participants in the Mediterranean diet groups agreed to replace red meat with white meat like chicken and eat three or more servings of fish each week, along with three or more servings of fruit and two or more servings of vegetables a day. The extra-virgin-olive-oil group also consumed more than four tablespoons of the oil a day, replacing regular olive oil with the extra-virgin variety, which contains more potentially heart-healthy compounds like polyphenols and vitamin-E tocopherols — which can lower levels of inflammatory factors that contribute to heart disease — in addition to oleic acids, which are lower in the saturated fat that can build up in blood vessels. The group that consumed more nuts was asked to eat a combination of 30 g of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts every day. These groups were also asked to stay away from sodas and red meats. The participants eating the low-fat diet ate three or more servings of fish or seafood a week and the same amount of fruit and vegetables as the Mediterranean diet groups. They were discouraged from consuming more than two tablespoons of vegetable oils, including olive oil, each day.

(MORE: Can Olive Oil Help Prevent Stroke?)

To ensure that other factors that could affect heart-disease rates were not playing a role, the researchers also adjusted for the total amount of calories the groups were eating, since obesity can be a major contributor to heart attack and stroke. Even after making these adjustments, however, the olive-oil group showed statistically significant drops in heart-disease risk. And because the three groups were randomly assigned to their diets, Estruch says that factors like the amount of exercise the participants did, or the medications they took, would be about the same in all three groups, and thus affect all participants equally.

Estruch says that the study has some limitations, most notably that the low-fat diet group may not have had as intense an intervention during the first part of the study as the Mediterranean groups did, potentially biasing the results in favor of the Mediterranean diet. Some volunteers also dropped out, most of whom had higher body mass index on average, which may also skew the results toward a beneficial effect of the Mediterranean diet, since the individuals who remained might have been more motivated to take care of their hearts to begin with.

Still, the findings add to the body of evidence that suggests the Mediterranean diet can play an important role in protecting the heart, and should guide doctors and patients who want to avoid heart disease toward eating the foods that can help them the most.

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SAN FRANCISCO – Hewlett-Packard on Monday said it is selling its webOS mobile operating system to South Korean consumer electronics titan LG to use in Internet-connected televisions.

“The open and transparent webOS technology offers a compelling user experience that, when combined with our own technology, will pave the way for future innovations using the latest Web technologies,” said LG Electronics chief technology officer Skott Ahn.

“It creates a new path for LG to offer an intuitive user experience and Internet services across a range of consumer electronics devices.”

Word of the deal came with news that HP in April will release an Android tablet computer, tightening its relationship with Internet giant Google.

The Slate 7 tablet synched to Google’s popular online products and services is being introduced as the leading computer maker strives to adapt to Internet lifestyles shifting from desktop or laptop machines to mobile devices.

The seven-inch Slate will debut in the United States in about two months at a price of $169.

“To address the growing interest in tablets among consumers and businesses alike, HP will offer a range of form factors and leverage an array of operating systems,” said HP mobility business unit senior vice president Alberto Torres.

“Our new HP Slate7 on Android represents a compelling entry point for consumer tablets, while our ground-breaking, business-ready HP ElitePad on Windows 8 is ideal for enterprises and governments.”

WebOS is to remain open source under the terms of the sale to LG, which planned to use the software in Internet-connected televisions rather than in mobile gadgets.

LG also said it is acquiring the webOS team from HP as it ramps up its investment in research and development in Silicon Valley. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

HP acquired webOS as part of its $1.2 billion purchase of Palm in 2010.

HP used webOS to power a TouchPad tablet model that flopped after its release in 2011.

Citing disappointing sales, HP announced it was discontinuing the TouchPad just seven weeks after it hit the market.

HP last year made webOS open source, meaning that developers anywhere can tinker with it as they wish and it will be available for anyone to use free of charge. LG said that webOS will continue to be open source software.

© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse

If the iPhone has Siri, a rival may finally be emerging for mobile devices running Google’s Android, Microsoft’s Windows Phone, and even BlackBerry operating systems.
Meet Indigo, a voice-activated personal assistant app created by Artificial Solutions, according to a report on
“Indigo is device- and OS- independent so it can be used across a variety of gadgets (not including iOS gear which already uses Siri),” said.
The app is cloud-based and will be released in beta next week.
It will initially be available to Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry users, and may be used on computers and smart TVs, said.
Artificial Solutions, which is credited for virtual customer service agents for companies like Ikea and Vodafone, also claimed Indigo can help users make “appointments, reminders, alarms, and notes.”
At the Mobile World Congress in Spain, TechHive said a demo also showed the app remembers context.
“For example, if you ask Indigo what time a movie is playing near you, then later pick up your device and ask ‘Who is starring in that?’ it will understand that you are referencing your previous inquiry and provide you with a response,” it said.
The app can also store previous questions and tag common questions as favorites.
A user can also switch devices, like asking a question on one’s computer and then picking up one’s smartphone to “continue the conversation seamlessly.” — TJD, GMA News
The first smartphone-powered satellite has just blasted into space.
Dubbed STRaND-1, the nanosatellite will have an Android-powered Google Nexus One phone as its brain, and run four apps, according to a report on Popular Science.
STRaND-1 stands for “Surrey Training, Research, and Nanosatellite Demonstrator,” and will use the phone’s computing power to “collect scientific data, take pictures of Earth and perform some of its operations once it’s in orbit.”
“This is the first smartphone-powered satellite to go into space,” said.
A separate report on said the phone’s four apps will “take photos from the satellite, test the Earth’s magnetic field, monitor the health of the satellite, and allow people around the world to upload videos that will play in space on the phone.” said that while smartphones’ GPS units stop working at around 60,000 feet, STRaND-1 uses a small GPS unit designed for space.
Also, the phone can upload apps while it is in space.
STRaND-1 was one of seven satellites and rockets brought into space by the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket that was launched in India.
Other satellites and rockets launched along with the STRaND-1 included:
  • an ocean-monitoring satellite from the Indian Space Research Organisation and French Space Agency
  • the $25-million Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite (NEOSSat), a small spacecraft designed to seek out large asteroids in orbits that may stray near Earth
  • twin satellites composing the BRIght Target Explorer (BRITE) mission. The satellites are to study the brightest stars in the night sky by measuring how their brightest changes over time.
“NEOSSat will probably reduce the impact hazard from unknown large NEO’s [near-Earth objects] by a few percent over its lifetime, but is not designed to discover small asteroids near the Earth that may be on collision courses,” NEOSSat co-principal investigator Alan Hildebrand of the University of Calgary was quoted by as saying. — TJD, GMA News

Mobile phones help treat malaria

February 26, 2013 1:38pm
Mobile phones are playing an important role in remote rural areas by helping the speedy diagnosis and treatment of malaria, a recent study in Bangladesh showed.
The study analyzed 1,000 phone calls made to report suspected malaria cases in Chittagong Hill Tracts in the last two years, according to a report on
“The researchers found that phone calls, which were made to locally recruited field workers or one of the members of the study team and then followed up by visits, were a useful way to detect and treat the disease in this community,” it said.
But the mobile phones would have to be complemented by local knowledge and field support for effective treatment.
Chittagong Hill Tracts, a hilly and forested part of the country bordering Mynamar, has Bangladesh’s highest malaria rates, the report noted.
Wasif Ali Khan, lead author of the study and a researcher at the icddr,b told SciDev.Net they also found that the proportion of confirmed malaria cases reported by mobile phones was higher in the most remote areas with no access to roads.
Khan added the use of mobile phone technology has the potential to build awareness of malaria through community participation.
“The use of mobile phones made our work very easy and diagnosis of the cases was also faster as we could reach the infected patients much quicker due to faster communications,” said Jacob Khyang, an icddr,b manager of the field research in Bandarban within the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Published in Malaria Journal last Feb. 4, the study was part of a wider project on malaria epidemiology by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) and the US-based Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute.
Researchers in the study said that while people can report suspected malaria to field workers, a slightly greater number of suspected cases were reported using mobile phones.
This led the researchers to conclude that the use of mobiles had helped to increase the number of potential cases tested and treated.
Faster diagnosis and treatment may help to lessen people’s reliance on local medicine men or drug vendors, thus reducing the risk of incorrect results and inappropriate treatment — and the threat of drug resistance, the study said.
Access to phones
Researchers also said access to and use of mobile phones has “increased dramatically” in the area, as it has done in many remote areas of developing countries.
But people in the study area often had to borrow phones or climb hills to get a signal needed to make calls, due to limited mobile phone network coverage.
Also, only about a fifth of households owned at least one mobile phone, the study showed.
On the other hand, the study said technology alone is not enough and has to be paired with “on-the-ground knowledge of the area and the people.”
Positive outlook
SciDev.Net said many mobile phone users in the region were positive about future healthcare delivery programs to tackle malaria.
“All the 15 cases detected in our area were reported by mobile phone. What else can you expect in such remote, hilly areas?” said Pai Mong U, a resident of one neighborhood of the Kuhalong area of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
He added residents received proper treatment thanks to the use of mobile phones and the icddr,b team. — TJD, GMA News

This weekend, while having a family bonding time, I day dreamed and visited memory lane.  I day dreamed about years past, when I was growing up, until I ended up growing old.  I compared what my son has these day, to what I had when I was his age.  The comparison is so great.  Especially when it comes to technology.

As I was growing up in the 80’s, your household was considered well off, if you had a CRT Television, a refrigerator, and a mobile phone.  We all had those, and during those times I thought that this was the state of the art, and it would take half a decade for this type of appliances to be obsolete.  Boy, was I wrong.  Just to illustrate what we had then, are some photos for comparison.  The mobile phone then, was the military type mobile phone.  It was chunky, cumbersome, and heavy, and the only function it had then, was to make and receive phone calls.  Our refrigerator was the old type fridge, that kept food fresh, made ice, and made drinks cold.  The television during those times was the Cathode Ray Tube type of television, you could watch your favorite television programs.  Then in school, we had a pen and notebook, for taking down notes in class.


When I was finishing college, technology began to upgrade itself, things became smaller, lighter, energy saving, and supposed to offer more features than the old type of appliances.  During this time, the mobile phone became more compact, such as the Motorola Star Tac, which makes and receives calls and send and receive SMS (Short Messaging System).  Then they offered a “No Frost” refrigerator, to offer a no mess, no clean feature to housewives.  Then came the advent of the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) and the LED (Light Emitting Diode) type television, offer a lighter more compact, brighter screen, more crisp sounds, and feature laden TV viewing.  Our traditional notebooks, were replaced by the PDA (Personal Digital Assistant), such as the “Palm/Palm Pilot PDA,” which not only offered the function of a notebook of jotting down notes, but also has a calculator, games, calendar, alarm, can remind you of appointments, and can fit in the palm of your hands, hence the brand name “Palm/Palm Pilot PDA.”


Now, technology has again upgraded itself again.  Offering us all the comforts of our past appliances, plus more.  The mobile phones has become lighter, more compact, and more feature laden.  You can not only make and receive calls, send and receive SMS (Short Messaging System), you can also play games, send and receive e-mails, browse the internet, it also reminds you of appointments, has an alarm clock, makes you connect with friends through social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., it also saves you a ton of money through internet telephony services, such as Skype, iMessage, Viber, What’s App, etc.  Then Smart fridge arrived, offering to keep your food fresh, make ice, make your drinks cold, energy efficiency through inverter technology, add vitamins and ions to your food to keep you healthy, show you the temperature for the day, inform you of the traffic situation for your commute to work, get the latest news, and tell you what groceries you need to buy to replenish the stock on your fridge.  After the Smart fridge, the Smart TV also appeared,  giving you more in depth colors, more vibrant sound, is more compact, energy efficient, can connect to the internet, you can check your email, connect to social media, search for information of your favorite shows, and download movies or television shows.  The Palm/Palm Pilot PDA has been replaced by the iPad, as the tool of choice for schools.  With the iPad, you can jot down notes, play games, has a calculator, take photos, shoot videos, send and receive e-mails, update your status in your social media, connect to the internet, watch movies/shows/videos, listen to music, and play musical instruments.


So the comparison of what I used when I was studying then, to what my son is using now in his studies, is such a huge gap.  Technology has brought about changes in the lifestyle of the people.  Technology is beneficial and a great tool if put in the proper hands, but technology can also be a detrimental and mischievous tool if in the wrong hands.  So we must still keep an eye on the use of technology, especially by our kids, and grand kids.

We used to be a great country, second only to Japan in Asia! We are naturally rich in minerals and natural resources.  We are an artistic, intellectual, and inventive people.  All of these are recipe for a great nation.  But what has happened to us? We are now ranked as one of the worst.  Our closest neighbors such as Thailand, and Indonesia, has overtaken us.  Their economy is booming.  Plus you add the fact, that we are the most English literate, and the most fluent English speakers in this region.  What is stopping foreign investors, from bringing their investments here? Peace and order? Business environment? Government incentives? Political climate?

Although our BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) sector is booming, the rest of the industry is declining.  We use to manufacture most of our commodities, our products/goods, and agriculture.  Now we merely import them.  Most of our hair products are either made in Indonesia or Thailand, our milk products are either made in Thailand, New Zealand, or Germany, our RTW (Ready To Wear) items are made in China.  When will we be able to proudly say, that our goods/products are “Proudly Philippine Made?” When will multinational factories sprout out again in the Philippines? Giving jobs and business opportunities to thousands or millions of unemployed Filipinos.  Also generating more revenues from these multinational factories for the government.

We have world class artist, designers, architects, engineers, etc., which have not only been featured here in the Philippines, but also around the world.  We have great Filipino thinkers and inventors, such as Agapito Flores (inventor of the Flourescent tube), and Daniel Dingel (inventors of the hydro powered car), but because there was not support from the government, these inventors had either sold their inventions to companies or countries, who are willing to take their inventions seriously.  We are a great nation and a great people, and we should not forget this.

Our government and the people manipulating it, has caused this decline.  If the government would have been proactive in keeping the peace and order situation better, making the business environment more susceptible to foreign investors/investments, giving incentives to these foreign investors/investments to entice them, and making the political climate more stable, then foreign investors/investments would surely flow into the country.  But our government is manipulated by a few individuals, who are enriching themselves out of the toils of the people.  Individuals who don’t care about the sufferings of the Filipino people, as long as their pockets are full.

So that is why I am calling on the youth and the people of the Philippines, to wake up, and cast their vote this coming May 13, 2013 elections.  We should properly choose the politicians who will put our best interest forward, and not theirs.  We should vote for those who will fight for our rights.  We should vote for those who will bring about positive changes to the country, and uplift the status of the Philippines to be at par with the best in the world.  We should not rely on empty promises and propaganda of politicians.  We are old enough to know, who keeps their promises, and those who don’t.  We should not sell our vote, for quick cash, which in the long run would bring us more suffering.  We should be aware and take action in safeguarding our ballots, from the hands of unscrupulous, and dirty politicians, who will do anything to win.  We should safeguard our future, the future of our children, and the future of this great nation of ours.

Let us not be complacent, let us strive to show those unscrupulous and dirty politicians, that we will not merely watch and do nothing.  We should stand up, and take action.  Let us help ourselves help the nation.  If the nation is great, then it’s people are great as well.  Let us be part of the change! The change for the better!!!

Bangon Pilipino! Bangon Pilipinas!