Nearly 100 leading nutrition, pharmaceutical and cereal scientists and milling experts from the public and private sectors from around the world met on March 30 to April 3, 2008 in Stone Mountain, GA, USA to provide advice for countries considering national wheat and/or maize flour fortification. This Second Technical Workshop on Wheat Flour Fortification: Practical Recommendations for National Application was a follow up to a FFI, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Mexican Institute of Public Health, first technical workshop entitled “Wheat Flour Fortification: Current Knowledge and Practical Applications,” held in Cuernavaca, Mexico in December 2004 (FFI, 2004). The purpose of this second workshop was to provide guidance on national fortification of wheat and maize flours, milled in industrial roller mills (i.e. >20 metric tons/day milling capacity), with iron, zinc, folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin A and to develop guidelines on formulations of premix based on common ranges of flour consumption. A secondary aim was to agree on the best practices guidelines for premix manufactures and millers. Expert work groups prepared technical documents reviewing published efficacy and effectiveness studies as well as the form and levels of fortificants currently being added to flour in different countries. The full reviews will be published in a supplement of Food and Nutrition Bulletin in 2009 and the summary recommendations of this meeting can be found in http://www.sph.emory.edu/wheatflour/atlanta08/ (FFI, 2008).
We encounter billions of germs every day through the air we breathe, the food we eat and the things we touch. Considering all of the potential threats to your body, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, toxins, and parasites, it's amazing that most of them have little or no impact on your health and well-being. We enjoy relative safety from these threats thanks to the complex arsenal of defenses that make up the human immune system.
You can get a sense of how much the immune system does for you by reflecting on what happens when it stops working. For example, the reason the HIV virus is so dangerous is because it destroys immune cells and stops the immune system from responding to new infections. HIV patients are likely to have repeated sinus, lung and gastrointestinal infections. Also, patients undergoing chemotherapy often have low white blood cell counts, and must take extreme care not to get bacterial infections of any kind. When the immune system is not working, even the most common infection can be lethal.
Given all of the work that it does to protect the body from various attackers, it would be an understatement to say that the immune system is complex. There are many organs involved, several distinct systems working together, millions of different types of immune related cells playing a role, and countless paths for communication and coordination traveled throughout the process. The immune system is fascinating not only because of how each of these parts works, but also because of the complex integration and control required to keep this crucial system in balance.