Understanding Health
Understanding Health

Understanding Health

The concept of health refers to so much more than whether or not you are sick. When researchers and doctors study health, they are studying the way that the body works, how it changes over time, what can break it down, how to protect it, and how to treat problems that do occur. This section of Frontiers for Young Minds will include articles from across nutrition, fitness, disease, genetics, systems of the body, prevention, injuries, treatment and medicine, mental health, adolescence, and other changes that happen to the body as it ages. It will also include articles about the tools that are available for studying the body, measuring how it changes, preventing problems, and treating issues that do occur. By providing access to fundamental ideas and cutting-edge knowledge about health, Understanding Health wants to enable the next generation to develop a better understanding of their own bodies and make more informed decisions regarding their own futures.

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Core Concept

We Are Never Alone: Living with the Human Microbiota

The human body is inhabited by millions of tiny living organisms, called human microbiota. Bacteria are microbes found in our skin, nose, mouth, and especially, in our gut. We acquire them during birth and the first years of life, and they live with us throughout our life. They are involved in our healthy growth, in protecting our body from invaders, in helping digestion and in our mood. Some changes may occur during our growth depending on the food we eat, the environment where we live, the people and animals that interact with us, or medicines we take such as antibiotics. Human microbiota help us to keep healthy, but in special occasions they can also be harmful. We need to take good care of our microbiota to avoid the development of some diseases, such as obesity and asthma. We should eat healthy food that contribute to develop the good microbiota.

Authors

Gabriela Jorge Da Silva / Sara Domingues
Reviewed by Jack and Addy
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New Discovery

Why Do Little Kids Ask to Hear the Same Story Over and Over?

One way people learn new words is through reading books and stories. Little kids love hearing their favorite stories over and over and are also very good at learning new words. We wondered if reading the same stories could be helping preschool kids learn new words. Our research tested if it was better to read the same stories over and over or to read a few different stories. Here we tell you about three studies that show preschool kids learn more words from the same stories over and over. Our research suggests that it’s easier to learn new words from stories when you have heard the story before and know what is going to happen.

Authors

Zoe M. Flack / Jessica S. Horst
Reviewed by ITI Galileo Ferraris
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Core Concept

What Makes Your Dog Itch? Maybe It Is the Kennel Tick!

Once upon a time in a backyard not very far from you, a dog with long fluffy and shiny hair, named Rex, lived. He really loved to play outside, especially with his best friend and owner Jack, a nine-year-old boy. On a perfect spring day, it was not cold or hot, Jack and Rex went for a walk in a green park close by, and when they returned home Jack noticed that his loyal friend was very itchy and was scratching his ear a lot. His first thought was: “Well, there must be some dirt in his ear! After so much rolling on the grass it is normal …” A few days later Jack saw that Rex was very unhappy, and started wondering what was happening. He called his mother quickly and they both rushed to see Rex. “Mummy what´s that on Rex´s ear? It seems like warts!!! Is Rex sick?” Then his mother said: “Hopefully not! You know Jack, these little things are parasites called ticks and they can make Rex itch and feel uncomfortable. I am sure that if you know more about such small and incredible creatures, you will be amazed because there is more to them than meets the eye…

Authors

Joana Ferrolho / Gustavo S. Sanchesseron / Joana Couto / Sandra Antunes / Ana Domingos
Reviewed by Pittsburgh Gifted Center
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New Discovery

Move!—Because Exercise Can Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever considered preparing for an exam by doing physical exercise? Wouldn’t it be great to go outside and play capture the flag or double Dutch with your friends instead of doing math? Of course, you already know that this is wishful thinking. Everyone has to prepare carefully and learn attentively if they want to do better in their exams. However, it is also true that exercise can boost your brainpower. In the following article, we are going to look into when and to what extent physical exercise is beneficial to your brain and under what circumstances positive effects like these can occur.

Authors

Valentin Benzing / Mirko Schmidt
Reviewed by Peterhead Academy
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New Discovery

How Does Aspirin Work in Plants and Humans?

Millions of people rely on aspirin to treat their headaches, fevers, and other ailments. But what most people don’t know is that the active ingredient in aspirin was first discovered in plants, where it plays a major role in keeping plants healthy. In the body, aspirin breaks down into a compound called salicylic acid (SA). In plants, SA is a critical hormone that regulates many processes, including immunity. Using powerful screens, we identified more than two dozen proteins that change their activities when they bind SA. SA and related compounds, both natural and synthetic, also have multiple targets in humans. We recently discovered several previously unknown SA targets, which are associated with prevalent, devastating human diseases. We have also identified several SA-based compounds that bind to these proteins more tightly and therefore inhibit their disease-associated activities much better than SA; this gives hope that better aspirin-type drugs can be developed.

Authors

Dan Klessig
Reviewed by ITI Galileo Ferraris
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Core Concept

Get Off the Couch! Exercise Your Way to a Healthy Brain

We all know that physical activity is good for our heart and lungs, but is it also good for our brain? Research has shown that regular physical activity can boost brain performance in a variety of different populations, from children and young adults, to older adults at-risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. These improvements in brain performance can be measured by tests of memory, thinking, and attention. It is thought that physical activity improves brain performance by changing brain function and size, a process known as neuroplasticity. In particular, physical activity may increase the size of the hippocampus – the brain’s memory center. Importantly, the benefits of physical activity on the brain are seen at all ages, which means it’s never too late to start. This research shows that being physically active may be an enjoyable way to help us improve our grades at school now, and keep our brains healthy throughout our lives.

Authors

Lindsay S. Nagamatsu
Reviewed by Dylan
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Core Concept

The Use of Stem Cells for Treatment of Diseases

Stem cells can form all organs in the body, from bone, kidney, liver to blood and brain. Specialized types of stem cells have the ability to stop immune responses. Stem cells may therefore be very useful as a therapy for diseases in which organs are damaged or where the immune system is too active. Some types of stem cells are already used for therapy, such as the hematopoietic or blood stem cells, which are used for the treatment of bone marrow cancer. The use of other types of stem cells is studied in the laboratory and in experimental therapies. Researchers are trying to find out what is the best way of giving stem cells to patients, where the cells go, and how long they survive in the patient. It is expected that in the future many more stem cell therapies will become available.

Authors

Franka Luk / Elke Eggenhofer / Marc H. Dahlke / Martin J. Hoogduijn
Reviewed by Amayah and Kaylah
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Core Concept

Flu, Flu Vaccines, and Why We Need to Do Better

Influenza (or flu) is a huge global problem, 1 billion people – 1/7th of the world’s population get infected with it each year. The virus doesn’t only infect people, it infects many different animals including chickens and pigs and can have devastating effects on farms where these animals are raised. Our body has evolved ways (called the immune response) to kill the influenza virus if we are infected with it and to stop us getting re-infected with the same virus. Through the power of vaccines, we can harness the immune response to protect us against influenza. The problem with the influenza virus is that it is sneaky and can change its coat so our body doesn’t recognise it. Current research is looking at ways to overcome this sneaky virus and reduce the number of people who get sick from influenza.

Authors

John S. Tregoning
Reviewed by ITI Galileo Ferraris
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Core Concept

Art Materials Can Be Dangerous! How Can You Reduce Your Risk?

Art materials are used by individuals of all ages. Certain chemicals found in art materials have potential to cause health problems, especially if used over a long period of time. The risk can be certainly greater for children, individuals with mental or physical disability, and people with certain genetic diseases and/or unhealthy lifestyle. However, there are laws and regulations which serve to minimize these risks. In a recent publication1 we have proposed that potential health risks associated with art materials can be further reduced if the art material labels include toxicological review date. The purpose of this article is to share our findings with younger audiences and raise awareness that: 1) We should make an effort to know the potential health risks associated with a product, especially if it will be in our long term use; 2) We should use it in a responsible and careful way; 3) We should always read labels and collect information about the ingredients in a product and their possible effects on health.

Authors

Masood A. Shammas / Hira Shammas / Samiyah A. Rajput / Dildar Rajput Ahmad / Gulzar R. Ahmad
Reviewed by Alani
Reviewed by Aleah
Reviewed by Mathew
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Core Concept

What Does Tinnitus Have to Do with Hearing Loss?

Our sensory organs along with the brain give us a rich perception of the world around us. If something goes wrong with any of the sensory organs, it will affect our everyday functioning. This will be demonstrated with the example of hearing loss and tinnitus. Hearing loss is defined as the loss of auditory information due to damage to the hearing system. Tinnitus is the phantom perception, which often occurs as a result of hearing loss. People describe it as ringing, buzzing or hissing sound but there is no object around that is creating this sound. We describe some strategies, which can be used to protect our hearing such as: moving away from the sound source, protecting the ears and reducing the volume levels of the devices. There is no cure for tinnitus yet. We discuss how to manage tinnitus such as: educating yourself about tinnitus, relaxation and paying attention away from tinnitus and seeking professional assistance.

Authors

Winfried Schlee / Giriraj Singh Shekhawat
Reviewed by Parts and Crafts
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