...From the pages of Agricultural Research magazine
Resist! Hold That Muscle!!
Care must be taken by those with chronic renal insufficiency
who need to follow protein-restricted diets to slow the progression of kidney
disease. It would be easy for individuals following such diets to lose muscle
tissue. However, a 12-week study of 26 volunteers above 50 years of age showed
that resistance trainingeven with protein-restricted dietsincreased
muscle fiber by 23 percent on average.
Muscle strength increased by 32 percent in those who exercised
and decreased by about 13 percent in those who did not. During the study,
volunteers who exercised maintained their body weight, but nonexercisers lost
about 7.7 pounds.
While these findings have been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, longer term studies with larger groups are needed to answer several important questions.
Parasitologist Ronald Fayer
leads a project to determine
sources of Cryptosporidium
in surface waters and develop
techniques for accurate detection
of these organisms.
This Crypto Than Meets the Eye
Cryptosporidium is a waterborne, microscopic, single-celled
parasite that lives in the intestines of animals and people. It causes a
disease called cryptosporidiosis, which is characterized by mild to
life-threatening diarrhea. It is spread by oocyststiny, tough-walled
reproductive capsules excreted in the feces of infected animals.
Until recently, Cryptosporidium parvum was thought to be a single species that infects humans and more than 150 different animals. Now a unique species of this pathogen, C. caniswhich can infect dogs, humans, and cattlehas been identified. Originally thought to be C. parvum, this species differs markedly at the molecular level from other known ones.
Thanks to powerful new genetic tools, scientists now see numerous Cryptosporidium species where they thought there was only C. parvum. Correct species identification can help pinpoint potential sources of Cryptosporidium infection.
A 3-year study has shown thatcontrary to some evidencebone
mineral density (BMD) may benefit from high-protein diets, at least in older
consumers. But the high-protein diet must also meet the recommended dietary
allowance for both calcium and vitamin D.
This study looked at 342 men and women older than 65 who did not normally
consume high amounts of calcium and whose BMD measurements were average for
their age. Half received daily supplements of 500 milligrams of calcium and 700
international units of vitamin D, and half received placebos. At the study's
midpoint, the diets of all volunteers were assessed for levels of protein,
calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients. The mean protein intake for all
participants was found to be 79 grams per day.
Six tests administered at 6-month intervals showed that a high-protein diet had favorable effects on bone density in the calcium-supplemented group only. While this suggests a synergy between protein and calcium that mitigates bone loss, more research is needed to confirm the finding.
Underground tile drains are used on about 30 percent of Midwest farms to
speed the draining of excess water from cropland and release it into waterways.
But rapid draining allows some nitrate to bypass the soil root zone, where
plant roots and other natural processes can remove it.
Concerns about seepage of nitrate from fertilized cropland has prompted
researchers to seek low-cost ways to curb such nutrient loss. They've found
that deep trenches filled with wood chips can halt nitrate seepage from
croplands by as much as 70 percent.
The trenches in the study are 2 feet wide and 6 feet deep. They are laid out 10 feet apart, parallel toand 2 feet deeper thanunderground tile drains. Maintenance free, they're filled to within 1 foot of the soil surface, so as to not be disturbed by cultivation tools. The carbon-based barriers they create help convert the nitrate applied to crops as fertilizer into nitrogen gas, a common atmospheric component. The next phase of study will determine how long the chips will stay effective before decomposing.
"Science Update" was published in the February 2003 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.