ICBAS - Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar

ICBAS offers 'Nature Baths' to workers and students

A pioneering project at the U.Porto aims to promote the community's mental health and well-being through contact and reconnection with nature.

The Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar (ICBAS), in partnership with the 'Go Wild', recently launched the ‘Nature Baths’, a pioneering project at the University of Porto, which aims to promote mental health and well-being through the contact and reconnection with nature.

To test this new concept, ICBAS challenged a group of workers and students to disconnect from their concerns and tasks for 90 minutes, to let themselves be guided in a reconnection with Nature. The day was inviting and expectations were high, despite some skepticism.

There were 90 minutes of presence and active involvement with neighboring gardens of the Crystal Palace in an attempt to return tranquility and reduce the levels of stress and mental fatigue of the academic community of the Institute.

Grupo de trabalhadores e estudantes no primeiro ‘Banho de Natureza’. Foto: ICBAS.

How it all began…

The pandemic drove the Go Wild project, at a time when Nadja Imhof, one of the founders, felt very disconnected from nature: “I did some research and realized that nature baths were a very common practice in other countries and with a scientific basis solid, so I decided to start the six-month online training to become a certified guide”.

After completing the training, Nadja and Vanessa, a psychologist and partner in this project, began by defining a strategy that involved finding places in the city conducive to this practice and finding the target audience.

“Students, who during the pandemic were very isolated and suffering from anxiety, seemed to us to be the ideal target , so we started looking for ways to reach them and that's how we came across ICBAS. Furthermore, we knew that for this to work, we had to look for places close to the city, or in the city itself, which would therefore motivate people to participate”, explains Nadja Imhof.

Today, this is a more robust project that has been growing “albeit slowly. After all, this is a new practice in Portugal and people are not very comfortable with this proximity”, emphasizes the founder of the project.

Baths of Nature’ wellness promoters

But shyness, shame or resistance aside, the 'Nature Baths' have gathered an ever-growing community of followers, thanks to the multiple physical and mental benefits they represent.

“The benefits are global, mental and physical. Physical because even without running we are moving our body. Mental because it has been proven that this contact with nature reduces anxiety and all feelings related to depression or stress. What helps us sleep better, increases our ability to concentrate and creativity”, clarifies Nadja Imhof.

Also for João Silva, student at the Faculty of Sciences of the U.Porto (FCUP) and collaborator of researcher Karine Silva, from the Department of Behavioral Sciences at ICBAS, becoming a guide for the Nature Baths has been an “incredible” experience.

“Realizing that the connection with nature has so many benefits, with such solid scientific bases, was very important for my work. At this moment I would like this project to reach more people, and above all to see these people bathing in nature by themselves. Give them the recipe so they can make it a routine”, says the student.

“Test” passed successfully

The truth is that, after an hour and a half spent in deep contact with nature, the opinions were unanimous: “this activity was an excellent initiative, which without a doubt makes us feel better, calmer, more serene, better prepared and motivated to the work."

For the participants, this is “an excellent way to gain energy, to feel better about ourselves”, as highlighted by Nuno Ferreira, from the ICBAS IT Department.

“It offered us new tools to reduce anxiety”, points out Sara Pereira, from the International Relations and Mobility Office, about an experience that promises to be repeated.

A commitment shared by Zélia Lopes, from the Postgraduate and Continuing Education Unit “I loved it, I feel very calm and decided that I'm going to start coming to the Crystal Palace more often to connect with nature. Undoubtedly, this action was the driving force behind this decision”.

Also for the student of the Integrated Master in Medicine, Maria João Estêvão, this is an activity that she will recommend to her colleagues: “It was a different morning and it was very positive to come here and slow down a little. I had never looked at the Palace in this way. I totally recommend it, I think this is a very important strategy to reduce anxiety.”

Source: Notícias UP


ICBAS defends “post mortem” inspection in the fight against Bovine Tuberculosis

Study supports DGAV's decision not to implement the proposed European legislation to amend the beef health inspection protocol.

Researchers of the Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar (ICBAS), of the University of Portorecently published a study in journal One Health, in which they prove the importance of post mortem inspection in the identification of Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) lesions, and its contribution to the respective Eradication Plan. The same study also supports the decision of the General Directorate for Food and Veterinary (DGAV) not to implement the proposed European legislation to amend the beef health inspection protocol, making it tend to be visual.

Carried out in collaboration with the DGAV and the University of Trás os Montes and Alto Douro (UTAD), the work now published is based on European regulations that define new rules for official controls on foodstuffs, namely the health inspection of meat.

The Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/627 provides that “the health inspection of bovine meat may tend to be visual in animals up to 8 months and between 8 and 20 months, if they are reared in a controlled environment, without contact with the outside world”, as explained by the veterinarian and ICBAS teacher, Eduarda Gomes Neves.

These changes may have an impact on the detection of this zoonosis and reduce the efficiency of the National Plan for the Eradication of Bovine Tuberculosis, in force since 1991. The study analyzes data from 10 years (between October 2010 and January 2020) and concludes that using only visual inspection in younger cattle may be insufficient for detecting bTB.

As Eduarda Gomes Neves explains, “in the current context, it still does not make sense to suppress the incision in the tissues of animals aged less than 8 months, under penalty of being approved for human consumption meat from animals with lesions”. With this work, “we provide robust data that support the need to maintain the previous procedures, not making the health inspection of cattle more flexible at this time. The results of the National bTB Eradication Plan indicate that the problem still persists”, adds the professor and researcher.

In addition to the conclusions shared with the DGAV, with the aim of supporting decision-making on maintaining the practice of inspection with palpation and incisions, this work reinforces the importance of approaching health problems from an integrated and holistic perspective.

“When we work on issues related to food safety, public health and animal health, we cannot fail to include the environmental component. In the case of Bovine Tuberculosis, we know that direct or indirect contact between farm animals and wild animals, for example through access to pasture land, contributes to the transmission of the disease. Game species, such as deer or wild boar, are reservoirs of the Mycobacterium bovis, as several studies have demonstrated”, says Eduarda Gomes Neves, concluding that it is essential to keep this investigation “within the scope of One Health”.

Source: Notícias UP


ICBAS characterizes greenhouse gas emissions in cattle farms

Researchers from the Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar (ICBAS) characterized the potential for emission of greenhouse gases in cattle farms and found significant differences during the lactation phase that open “doors” for further investigations.

Speaking to the Lusa agency, the researcher and first author of the study, Ana Raquel Rodrigues, clarified that the investigation focused on the “greenhouse gas emissions (methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide) and ammonia” in three commercial dairy farms in the North region.

On the farms, researchers collected feces and urine samples from animals at different stages of lactation, which were later evaluated and characterized in the laboratory, using “cameras that simulate the pavement” of holdings.

“We checked the different stages of lactation of the animals, the collection times and the potential for emission of faeces and urine throughout the day”, said Ana Raquel Rodrigues.

The work was developed by the researcher Ana Raquel Rodrigues in the context of the Doctoral Program in business environment SANFEED.

Despite "preliminary“, the results of the study, published in the scientific journal Journal of Environmental Management, show “differences in the level of nitrous oxide and ammonia emissions in post-peak lactation”.

Also the researcher and coordinator of the study, Henrique Trindade, clarified that in the “post-peak of lactation” bovine animals “emit higher emissions” of greenhouse gases, which require “greater care”, in particular, in adapting waste cleaning systems.

“Cleaning is often done in the morning because the logic is in the morning performing all the work. Studying in detail, it can be concluded that perhaps it is preferable to clean more frequently at the end of the day and not so much in the morning", he said, highlighting that "more emissions occur in the afternoon".

Henrique Trindade also highlighted that the results were obtained in the laboratory at “constant temperatures and ventilation rates”, which in practice could be even more significant in terms of gas emissions, since “temperatures are higher at noon for the evening than during the morning.”

The coordinator added that the information collected in this study, and in others developed within the scope of Ana Raquel Rodrigues' PhD, could help, for example, “adjust manure management systems".

“With these results we can start to look at other aspects, such as the frequency of removal and application of additives that reduce emissions. A series of mitigation measures that are already available in the activity and that can be focused on the periods when we know that emissions are higher", he said, also highlighting the importance of mitigation measures being "flexible” throughout the entire day.

Ana Raquel Rodrigues also stressed that the research “opens doors” to other works, since the results allowed “understand animals a little better, their metabolisms and the way faeces and urine behave when deposited on the ground”.

“This research opens doors, but more work will have to be done to achieve results adjusted to reality and to be applied in practice”, added the student of the Sustainable Animal Nutrition and Feeding (SANFEED) doctoral program, co-funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology and managed by ICBAS.

In addition to ICBAS, the study had the collaboration of researchers from the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (UTAD) and the Escola Superior Agrária of the Polytechnic Institute of Viseu (ESA-IPV).

The investigation was also carried out in partnership with the Agricultural Cooperative of Vila do Conde and AGROS – Union of Cooperatives of Milk Producers.

Source: Observador


ICBAS celebrates the ‘2nd Porto One Health Day’

Event scheduled for the International One Health Day (November 3) will bring together specialists from the most varied areas to promote the debate on this holistic approach to Health.

On the November 3rdInternational One Health Day, the Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar (ICBAS) of the University of Porto will once again bring together specialists from the most varied areas and institutions in the country to promote the debate around a holistic approach to Health.

This year, with a more targeted program for the non-scientific community, the 2nd Porto One Health Day reflects the effort that the institution has been making to promote and disseminate the One Health concept among the scientific, academic and civil society communities.

For Henrique Cyrne Carvalho, director of ICBAS, this is a very important moment of affirmation of the work that ICBAS has been developing: “promoting this approach has been central to our strategy, we have held several meetings with specialists from the most varied areas, with the aim of showing that this is the way to the future and to find solutions together to promote the development and application of solutions with a view to ensuring the well-being of all, the sustainability of the planet and the promotion of public health”.

The session on November 3rd will open with the public presentation of the document 'New steps for ICBAS One Health strategy', a white paper which intends to present specific proposals for the future.

The afternoon will continue with three round tables that “are of total public interest, since they address issues that influence everyone's lives”, reinforces Henrique Cyrne Carvalho.

These topics are extremely current and include nutrition, antimicrobial resistance and health promotion in aging, in sessions that are completely open to the public “which provide an opportunity for anyone to question high-quality specialists on these topics, which we believe is fundamental. Bringing academia closer to civil society is essential to succeed in this proposal”, concludes the ICBAS director.

Starting at 2:00 p.m., in the Salão Nobre of ICBAS/FFUP, the ‘2nd Porto One Health Day’ will culminate with the opening, at 6:45 p.m., of the traveling photography exhibition “Perspective(s) on One Health”, at Aliados Metro station.

According to Cyrne Carvalho, “this is the highlight of this exhibition’s itinerancy [which represents various views on the “One Health” concept], since we can reach thousands of people a day, not only from our city, but also from various parts of the country and the world. The format will be a little different from what it has been so far, and aims to confront people with various day-to-day issues that have everything to do with this approach”.

Source: Notícias UP


ICBAS and FFUP develop a pioneering project in the area of “Biophilia”

Project framed in the "One Health" concept aims to promote the health and well-being of those who attend the complex of the two faculties.

The ICBAS  (ICBAS) and the Faculdade de Farmácia da Universidade do Porto (FFUP) will develop a pioneering project which, based on biophilic principles and framed in the One Health, aims to promote the health and well-being of the academic community.

This is a project that goes through the incorporation of nature elements and their representations in the ICBAS/FFUP complex (indoor and outdoor spaces), with the aim of systemically influencing the health and well-being of its users.

For the director of ICBAS, Henrique Cyrne Carvalho, this project “is a way of materializing the One Health concept, but also of reinforcing our concern for the well-being of the entire community”.

“It is an ambitious project that, through biophilic design, will bring a new environment and new spaces to the ICBAS/FFUP complex, aiming at a better relationship between the community and our built space”, says Henrique Cyrne Carvalho.

Also Domingos Ferreira, director of FFUP, shares the holistic view of global health, and reinforces “the institutions’ commitment to the well-being of academic communities”. For the director of FFUP, “the project is not only ambitious, but also reinforces the position of the ICBAS/FFUP Complex as an innovative center in the promotion of health, well-being and integration with all areas of life sciences”.

What is Biophilia?

The “Biophilia Theory” argues that human beings are biologically programmed to relate to living systems and that this relationship with nature is instrumental for well-being and physical and mental health.

“With this project, we will assess the potential of biophilic design as an intervention tool in the academic space aimed at promoting health and well-being”, as Karine Silvaexplains, researcher at the Department of Behavioral Sciences at ICBAS and at ISPUP, and mentor of the scientific project.

“Based on the Theory of Biophilia, we will seek to create organic spaces in an arid landscape, which promote relaxation and psychological restoration, as well as stimulate creativity, coexistence and sharing”, he adds.

Using a participatory “photovoice”, the entire ICBAS/FFUP community will be invited to reflect on the concept of Biophilia and to contribute with suggestions for its implementation.

The collected suggestions will be subjected to a specialized and multidisciplinary analysis in the context of “focus groups”, and the resulting intervention will be evaluated regarding its impact in terms of a set of health and well-being parameters.

Karine Silva reinforces the relevance of this approach, in the post-pandemic context: “Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic strongly underlined the need to reconfigure the relationship between people and built spaces, thus reinforcing the potential of biophilic design”.

This activity is developed in partnership with the Student, Employability and Alumni Support Office. According to the coordinator of that office, Isabel Lourinho, the pandemic brought “a worsening of mental health in the university context”, which is why “it is urgent to promote mental health literacy and develop multidisciplinary activities in terms of prevention and promotion of well-being”.

This project, in addition to implementing the One Health concept, elevates the ICBAS/FFUP complex to an ambassador of biophilic design in the Portuguese academic context, promoting its recognition on the international stage as an active agent in the promotion of health and well-being.

Source: Notícias UP


ICBAS and CIIMAR alert for the effects of lithium and microplastics consumption

The study, carried out by researchers from CIIMAR and the Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar (ICBAS) of the University of Porto, was published in the journal Science of the Total Environment and identifies “for the first time” the emergence of long-term adverse effects related to the combined consumption of lithium and microplastics.

The researchers analyzed a planktonic crustacean (Daphnia magna), commonly known as the water flea, and concluded that long-term exposure to concentrations of lithium and mixtures of lithium and microplastics decreased its reproduction “up to 93% and 90% less”, respectively.

At the same time, exposure to lithium reduced the growth rate of water flea populations by 67%, and exposure to mixtures of lithium and microplastics by 58%.

The researcher Lúcia Guilhermino adds that the results are “worrying” and that the effects of the reduction in zooplankton can have “very serious consequences for ecosystems”.

“These organisms [zooplankton] represent the base of trophic chains, in addition to being essential for maintaining the quality of the water we all depend on, by filtering it while they feed,” observes the coordinator of the Laboratory of Ecotoxicology and Ecology of ICBAS.

Lúcia Guilhermino also points out that the water flea has a “very developed” nervous system, allowing the results obtained in the study to be “extrapolated” to other animals, including mammals.

The study also serves as an “alert to the effects that may be having on the human population, especially in regions rich in lithium, areas with high population density and heavy use of electronic devices, and industrial areas or areas that receive electronic waste”.

Lúcia Guilhermino, professor at ICBAS and researcher at CIIMAR, studies the biological and ecological effects of environmental contaminants and their impact on ecosystems.

“Despite its natural origin, lithium is a very reactive element from a biological point of view”, stresses Lúcia Guilhermino, noting that this element can cause “toxicity in various systems and organs, such as the nervous system, liver, kidneys and the reproductive system, through mechanisms that are not yet completely described”.

Also regarding microplastics, the researcher points out that these materials can “act like sponges and bind other contaminants, such as lithium, altering their incorporation, accumulation and toxicity”.

“All living organisms are simultaneously exposed to many pollutants throughout their lives, and the interaction between these chemical agents can lead to different toxic effects, altering the previously established safety limits”, adds Lúcia Guilhermino.

At the moment, researchers are developing studies to assess the consequences resulting from global climate change on the long-term effects of lithium, microplastics and their mixtures.

This work, which had the collaboration of the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Porto and CESPU — Cooperativa de Ensino Superior Politécnico e Universitário, was co-funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), the Compete 2020 program and the North program 2020.

Source: Sapo Lifestyle


Diet has impacts on fertility that can be inherited for two generations

Parents' food choices may have consequences on their children's health.

Um estudo desenvolvido por investigadores do Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar (ICBAS), no Porto, concluiu que a alimentação produz impactos na fertilidade masculina que podem ser transmitidos e herdados por duas gerações.

O instituto revela que no estudo, publicado na revista “Molecular Nutrition & Food Research“, researchers from the Multidisciplinary Unit of Biomedical Research at ICBAS described the biomarkers that make it possible to identify a “metabolic memory” present in the testes.

The alterations are “consequences of eating a high-fat diet” and can be inherited by two generations, that is, father-son-grandson, having “implications on male fertility”. 

Marco Alves and Luís Crisóstomo, in the center of the image, at the PhD defense of ICBAS student, accompanied by the jury and the entire research team.

A equipa, liderada pelo investigador Marco Alves, já tinha determinado, em trabalhos anteriores, que a ingestão excessiva de gordura durante as primeiras fases da vida altera o conteúdo lípido e o metabolismo dos testículos, “afetando negativamente a capacidade reprodutiva durante o resto da vida” e “resultando em alterações que não são reversíveis com a mudança para uma dieta equilibrada”.

In this study, carried out in animal models (mice), the researchers “went further” and described the transgenerational effects that are transmitted by parents who eat a diet rich in fats to children and grandchildren who follow a balanced diet. 

 “The offspring showed, in the testicles, an alteration in the metabolism of choline”, an essential nutrient for the regulation of various functions, such as brain function, and the development of spermatozoa.

The investigation also showed alterations in the activity of mitochondria, in antioxidant defenses and in the presence of various lipids. 

"These alterations promote a proinflammatory environment in the testicle, altering sperm count and quality", stresses the researcher, noting that transgenerational effects are also observed when the father's intake of fat is only until puberty. 

The researcher Marco Alves points out that reproduction “is also a reflection of diet”. 

“Our food choices will have consequences for our children and, very possibly, for our grandchildren as well”, he says, adding that these effects may have even more impact on assisted reproduction processes, since the spermatozoon is chosen randomly and without taking into account biomarkers such as those identified in the study.

“The increase in infertility is clearly associated with the increase in metabolic diseases (overweight, obesity and diabetes, among others), and this association has already been recognized by the World Health Organization”, highlights Marco Alves. 

The metabolic memory in the testis is transmitted by the Sertoli cells, which respond to ensure all the structural and metabolic needs during the sperm formation process. 

The stimuli captured by these cells, in addition to altering their own genetic expression, also alter the epigenetics. 

“Knowing these changes and the transmission mechanisms will allow selecting the best spermatozoa and the best window of time to perform in vitro fertilization, improving the efficiency of assisted reproduction techniques and opening up new therapeutic opportunities in male infertility”, adds the researcher.

Além da equipa do ICBAS, o estudo contou também com investigadores da Faculdade de Farmácia da Universidade do Porto, da Universidade de Aveiro, do Instituto Politécnico da Guarda e da Associação Protetora dos Diabéticos de Portugal (APDP).

The work also resulted from several international partnerships, including the University of Zagreb and the University College of London.

Source: CNN Portugal

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