Known around the world by many names including “Montezuma’s revenge,” “Delhi belly” and “mummy tummy,” traveler’s diarrhea (TD) is the most common illness faced by travelers. Nothing can slow down a fun trip as easily as TD — and it can also have serious health implications. TD typically lasts four to six days, and 90 percent of cases occur within the first two weeks of travel.
Anatomy You Need to Know
The gastrointestinal tract starts at the mouth and ends at the anus. After food enters the mouth, it passes through the esophagus to the stomach, where it sits for approximately 45 minutes. After being broken down by gastric secretions, food matter enters the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, and ileum in order). The small intestine is the site where most nutrients are absorbed by the body. From the small intestine, food matter begins to look more like feces as it progresses to the large intestine or colon. The colon absorbs water from the food material before the material passes through the anus and exits the body as feces.
Recognizing the warning signs of TD, such as blood in the stool, fever, or abdominal cramping, can help a savvy traveler know when to seek medical help.
TD has many definitions; the presence of three or more loose-formed stools in one day is a good one. Abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting and fever may also occur. The presence of blood in the stool can indicate that infection has directly damaged the intestinal wall and should be taken seriously. Read more »
What do you do when you’re one of the world’s biggest food companies and you’re looking to explore what happens after your products get chewed and swallowed? Apparently you build a large refrigerator-sized, million dollar model of a human gut, complete with valves, injection ports for enzymes, and a transparent window for visibility, of course.
Nestle, in their quest to create foods that trick your body into feeling even more satisfied after eating than you otherwise would be, has a research and development center that holds this artificial gut, tucked next to the mountains in Lausanne, Switzerland. Here they’re busy studying and trying to commercialize gastrointestinal phenomenon such as the “ileal break,” a peptidal feedback mechanism that both slows transit through the GI system and reduces food intake by triggering feelings of satiation. They hope to release products based on this science within five years.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Tracking the movement of food in a person’s gastrointestinal tract isn’t easy. So at a “digestion lab”—part of Nestle’s sprawling research and development center here—scientists use a million-dollar model of the human gut.
The machine is about the size of a large refrigerator. It has several compartments linked by valves, and it is carefully calibrated to the body’s temperature. The entire setup is controlled by a computer. The front is glass, allowing observers to watch as food travels through the system.
On a recent day, the “stomach” section at the top slowly squeezed and churned a salt solution, just like the real thing. The liquefied result then wended its way down the other tubes, representing other sections of the digestive tract. At each stage, tiny valves released the appropriate salt, bile and enzymes, which helped to digest the food.
The question still stands: What comes out the other end?
E. coli is a Gram negative rod-shaped bacterium that is a regular inhabitant of the human gastrointestinal tract and certain strains can cause a lot of trouble. A team from the University of Tokyo in Japan, however, have manipulated the bacterium to perform a more noble task: Solving Sudoku.
The bacterium managed to solve 4×4 grid Sudoku puzzles, and in theory the more common 9×9 grid puzzles should be solvable as well. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*
My mother was very proud of the fact that none of her four children ever became sick from her cooking. While it’s true she may have erred on the side of overcooking the turkey, being spared food poisoning is yet another in the long list of gifts from my mom.
Every year, about 76 million Americans develop illness from food, more than 325,000 are hospitalized, and about 5,000 die. The most common cause is contamination with bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shigella, and E. coli — though other organisms such as viruses and protozoa can also be culprits. As summer begins, I thought it would be a good time to review some basic tips about food safety. Read more »
University of Florida researchers have developed a signaling technology that can be embedded into drug tablets to notify clinicians and caretakers that a pill has been ingested.
Although a bit of electronics is going to be moving through the digestive system, the researchers believe that it will pass safely without causing side effects to the patient.
If the technology proves itself, it may soon be used to confirm compliance in clinical trials or to monitor patients under a strict drug regimen.
One part is the pill, a standard white capsule coated with a label embossed with silvery lines. The lines comprise the antenna, which is printed using ink made of non-toxic, conductive silver nanoparticles. The pill also contains a tiny microchip, one about the size of a period on paper. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*
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