Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Lower yeast, longer life

It is not how much you eat, but what you eat that could influence life span, say UK researchers, investigating how calorie quality, not quantity, may dictate longevity.

In April, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study challenging the conventional wisdom that eating less promotes longevity.

Backing up the study, new research carried out by scientists at the University College London revealed that flies can actually live longer without reducing calories but by eating proportionally less yeast.

Their findings suggest the food industry adage that there is ‘no good or bad food, just a good or bad diet’ may ring true in the fight against obesity.

Fresh figures released in March show in excess of 200 million adults across the EU may be overweight or obese.

And the number of European kids overweight is rising by a hefty 400,000 a year, according to data from the International Obesity Task Force (IOFT).

“These results make a strong case that calories per se are not the salient factor in prolonging life - at least in fruitflies,” say the study authors.

And further, their findings suggest that the dramatic impact of reducing yeast suggests that protein or fat plays a greater role in fly longevity than sugar.

For the latest study, published in the PLoS Biology, dietary restriction in Drosophila flies involved diluting the nutrients in the fly's standard lab diet of yeast and sugar to a level known to maximise life span.

Since both yeast (which contributes protein and fat) and sugar (carbohydrates) provide the same calories per gram, the authors (William Mair, Matthew Piper, and Linda Partridge at UCL ) could adjust nutrient composition without affecting the calorie count, allowing them to separate the effects of calories and nutrients.

Reducing both nutrients increased the flies' life spans, but yeast had a much greater effect: reducing yeast from control to dietary restriction levels increased median life span by over 60 per cent.

In contrast, those switched from the standard restriction diet to the sugar-restricted diet began to die at the same rate as flies on the control diet.

Bonnie - Music to my ears! Many of my patients have yeast issues, and the allopathic medical community consitently brushes yeast off as a non-factor. As I've said before, we do not usually post animal studies because we like to see human research. Although, in an area that scant research is available, such as yeast, we find this data extremely compelling.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Modern diet may cause depression

Scientists have long maintained that a lack of omega-3 may contribute to depression, but the latest study suggests that an excess of omega-6 – the fatty acid which is more prevalent in the modern diets – may have more to do with it.

Natural sources of omega-3 include oily fish, canola and flaxseed oils, soybeans and nuts. But while these foods were more commonly eaten 50 years ago, these days consumers’ palates tend to favor foods that contain higher levels of omega-6, such as meat, eggs, poultry, cereals, breads, baked goods, vegetable oils, and margarine.

Previous studies into fatty acids and depression have measuring omega-3 levels in the blood of depressed humans, giving rise to the ‘phospholipid hypothesis’ which proposes that decreased omega-3 fatty acid intake, and hence decreased brain omega-3 fatty acid content, could be responsible for the disease.

Because of the high dietary variability of humans and the obvious inability to study their brains, Dr Pnina Green of Tel Aviv University and Dr Gal Yadid of Bar-Ilan University chose to test the theory by comparing the brains of normal and depressed rats.

Their findings, published in the June issue of the Journal of Lipid Research, took fatty-acid research surprising direction.

The two groups of rats were fed the same diet, but their brains showed marked differences in levels of omega-6 fatty acid levels. All regions of the depressed rats’ brains studied had significantly higher concentrations of arachidonic acid (ARA), a long-chain unsaturated metabolite of omega-6 fatty acid.

"The finding lends itself nicely to the theory that increased omega-3 fatty acid intake may shift the balance between the two fatty acid families in the brain, since it has been demonstrated in animal studies that increased omega-3 fatty acid intake may result in decreased brain arachidonic acid.” Green suggests that, in the future, depression may be controlled by shifting the balance between the two fatty acids – cutting back on omega-6 and increasing intake of omega-3 to bring levels back in line with those of our forebears.

According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, depression is the most common serious brain disease in the United States, affecting more than 23 million adults each year.

Steve - As previously discussed, we do not usually pay mention to animal studies, but we felt this was significant because for the first time a study focused on excessive omega-6 intake instead of lack of omega-3 intake.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Chromium supplements good for the diabetic heart

Chromium supplementation may be good for the heart in people with type 2 diabetes, according to study findings. It appears to lead to a shortening of a harmful heart rhythm, which may lower cardiovascular risk in type 2 diabetics.

Researchers also note in the American Heart Journal that blood insulin levels decreased significantly after 3 months of chromium supplementation and this may be partly responsible for the QT interval (heart rhythm) shortening.

A prolonged QT interval has been associated with high blood sugar levels, high insulin levels and reduced sensitivity to insulin in type 2 diabetics, they explain. Chromium supplementation improves sensitivity to insulin, lowers blood insulin levels and improves glucose homeostasis.

Courtesy of Reuters 5/25/2005

Breastfeeding lowers children's blood pressure

Breastfeeding is as good for children's blood pressure as exercise and dietary salt restriction, finds a new study.

And the longer the period of breastfeeding, the lower the blood pressure reading, shows the research published in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The research team assessed the impact of breastfeeding on elements of the metabolic syndrome in over 2000 randomly chosen children from Denmark and Estonia, aged between 9 and 15.

The metabolic syndrome refers to a combination of conditions that raise a person's risk of coronary artery disease. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, high insulin levels, high triglyceride levels, and low HDL cholesterol levels.

Breastfeeding did not have an impact on every element of the metabolic syndrome. But children who had been exclusively breastfed had lower systolic blood pressure than those who had not, said the researchers.

And the longer a child had been exclusively breastfed, the lower was his or her systolic blood pressure.

The effect may increase as a child ages, because the results showed that the greatest impact was on the older children, although the figures were not statistically significant.

Nutraingredients.com 5/25/2005

Probiotics may help against travelers' diarrhea

Australian researchers have modified probiotic microbes -- "good" bacteria -- that may be useful in preventing or treating travelers' diarrhea, an all too common problem during trips to certain countries.

The microbes work against a type of E. coli bacteria that causes diarrhea by producing a chemical that is toxic to intestinal cells. The probiotic microbes carry a molecule that looks a lot like the toxin receptor found on intestinal cells. This mimicry causes the toxin to bind to the microbes instead of the intestinal cells.

Lab tests showed that these organisms could bind and neutralize a significant amount of enterotoxin, according to the report in the medical journal Gastroenterology.

Courtesy of Reuters 5/25/2005

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Tidbits

Bonnie and Steve - As we did in April, once per month we summarize the most important discoveries in our favorite nutrition journal.

Effects of low-glycemic load diet on cardiovascular risk factors in obese young adults -
Compared with a conventional, energy-restricted, low-fat diet, a low-glycemic load diet may be more efficacious for cardiovascular risk and weight loss. While the difference in weight loss was not great (-8.4% low-glycemic to -7.8% low-fat), reduction in triglycerides and PAI-1 were significant in the low-glycemic group. Note - low glycemic load means carbohydrates that take longer turning into sugar than high glycemic load carbohydrates (i.e., apple versus slice of white bread).

Dairy, calcium, and vitamin D intakes and prostate cancer risk -
Dairy consumption may increase prostate cancer risk through a calcium-related pathway. Those consuming low-fat milk was associated with increased risk, but whole milk consumers were not. Researchers cannot confirm, but postulate that because vitamin D is fat soluble, and low-fat milk has very little fat, vitamin D is not absorbed as well as it is in whole milk, and hence, calcium can roam freely. This assumption further cements the critical link between calcium and proper vitamin D absorption.

Micronutrient requirements in older women -
The recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) and dietary reference intakes are not specific to women living to advanced ages, and little research has been conducted specifically on the micronutrient needs of older women. Older adults are at greater risk for nutritional deficiencies. The need for energy decreases and the requiremnts for protein increase with age. Among the micronutrients, the significant ones that may be associated with deficiencies include vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, iron, zinc, and other trace minerals.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition May 2005

Medical Journal Editor Slams Drug Companies

According to Dr. Jeffrey M. Drazen, editor-in-chief of New England Journal of Medicine, three of the largest drug companies pick and choose what they release in the clinical studies they register with the government. He called out Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Merck & Co specifically for noncompliance and warned that some important medical publications may avoid publishing their studies.

Drazen based his comments on a review of the information drug companies posted on clinicaltrials.gov. Of the 400 companies with trials listed on the registry, only 5 failed to list specific names of their drugs, often calling it "investigational drug." Merck did not provide a name 90% of the time, Glaxo 53%, and Pfizer 36%. These companies were also vagues in outlining the primary and secondary outcome measures of their studies.

Coutresy of Associated Press 5/24/2005

AstraZeneca's Crestor doubles side effects-study

AstraZeneca's cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor has more than double the side effects of rival statin drugs, including deaths, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

Adverse effects include muscle damage known as myopathy, including a severe form known as rhabdomyolysis; proteinuria or protein in the urine; nephropathy, a reduced ability of the kidneys to filter toxins from the blood; and kidney failure.

Dr. Richard Karas of the Tuft-New England Medical Center in Boston, who led the study, said his team found a rate of 28 adverse events per million prescriptions of Crestor, known generically as rosuvastatin.

Karas said there were 6 per million deaths on Crestor as compared to 3 per million for Zocor, 1 per million with Bristol Myers Squibb's Pravachol and 2 per million for Lipitor.

In March, the FDA denied a petition by the consumer group Public Citizen to ban Crestor, saying it disagreed with arguments that Crestor was more dangerous than other statins.

Journal Circulation, Courtesy of Reuters 5/23/2005

Monday, May 23, 2005

Female body is complex

We thought this 5/9/2005 LA Times article and the research it exhibited from The Society for Women's Health Research was telling:

Autoimmune Diseases
-Women are 2.7 times more likely than men to acquire an autoimmune disease.
-Almost three-fourths of those who suffer from rhuematoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and myasthenia gravis are women.
-Lupus affects nine times as many women as men.
-Twcie as many women suffewr from multiple sclerosis.
-About 90% of all people with fibromyalgia are women.

Heart Disease
-Heart Disease is the leading killer of U.S. women.
-Forty percent of women who have cardiac arrest report having stress, such as divorce or depression, before the event, contrasted with 16% of men.

Vitamin E may protect against Parkinson's

Eating food rich in vitamin E may help protect againstParkinson's Disease, scientists said on Thursday.

A review of eight studies that looked into whether vitamin E had an impact on the odds of developing the progressive brain disease showed that a moderate intake lowered the risk.

"Our data suggest that diets rich in vitamin E protect against the development of Parkinson's disease," said Dr. Mayhar Etminan, of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Quebec, Canada, in a report in The Lancet Neurology journal.

The scientists, who looked at relevant studies from 1966 to March 2005, said more research is needed to confirm their findings.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects cells from damage. Foods rich in the vitamin include nuts, seeds, wheat germ, spinach and other green leafy vegetables.

Courtesy of Reuters 5/23/2005

Vitamin D deficiency may contribute to osteoporosis

According to a study presented at the meetings of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, more than half of osteoporosis sufferers did not consume enough vitamin D. Of 1554 otherwise-healthy menopausal women receiving medication for osteoporisis, 52% had suboptimal vitamin D levels.

Steve - This is the third or fourth study over the past year showing the vital link between vitamin D and bone health. What's crucial is that sufficient quantitites of vitamin D are taken at a young age as a preventative. Once osteoporosis is full-blown it can be suppressed but much harder to reverse. If one cannot get at least 15 minutes of unencumbered sunshine daily, then the most bioavailable source of vitamin D is Cod Liver Oil.

Benefits of aspirin may not outweigh the risks for elderly

For persons over 70 years of age, a daily baby aspirin, which is commonly recommended by doctors, may cause more harm then good. Bleeding risk, and that the elderly often have stronger side effects to medications, lead the researchers of this study to believe that large, randomized trials should be done to better study the effects of aspirin.

British Medical Journal March 18, 2005

Bonnie - This is not first and will not be the last study raising risk-awareness about aspirin. Especially when it comes to aspirin, one size does not fit all. At least 25-30% of us genetically cannot tolerate aspirin. In the elderly, it is believed that the percentage is even higher. Aspirin is pure salicylic acid, which can be extremely harsh on the digestive system, especially in those with a salciylate sensitivity. Ask your physician to perform a detoxification test prior to taking aspirin to make sure you can tolerate it. Over the next 5-10 years, this testing will be become more common.

Yoga may help improve pregnancy outcome

The practice of yoga during pregnancy seems to improve birth weight and reduce prematurity and overall complications, Indian researchers report.

They studied 169 pregnant women trained in the integrated approach to yoga and in 166 "controls" who received routine prenatal care.

Fourteen percent of deliveries were premature in the yoga group compared with 29 percent in the controls. Rates of pregnancy-related high blood pressure were also lower in the yoga group, the researchers report in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine.

Courtesy of Reuters Health 5/23/2005

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Pregnancy Warning on Antidepressants

Women who take Prozac or certain other antidepressants late in pregnancy raise the risk that their babies will suffer jitteriness, irritability and serious respiratory problems in their first couple of weeks, researchers say.

Babies born to women taking antidepressants in the last three months of pregnancy were three times more likely to develop drug-related symptoms than those born to women who did not use the drugs or took them only in early pregnancy, according to a University of Pittsburgh study that pooled previous research.

The study was published in Wednesday's issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Most of the symptoms were mild and usually disappeared after about two weeks, but some required hospitalization in intensive care, the researchers said.

The drugs involved include Prozac, Paxil and other antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRI's, and also serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, which include Effexor.

Courtesy of AP 5/18/2005

Vitamin D May Help in Prostate Cancer

Men dying from prostate cancer may be able to extend their lives, thanks to a potent form of vitamin D developed at Oregon Health & Science University.

Adding the experimental vitamin pill DN-101 to chemotherapy increased the average expectancy to roughly two years.

A two-year survival "is the highest ever seen in a randomized study," said Dr. Bruce Montgomery, a Seattle Cancer Care Alliance prostate cancer expert who was not involved in the research. "It clearly is a big step forward."

Although researchers know DN-101 added at least seven months to the average survival, they can't yet calculate the new median life expectancy, because half the men who took DN-101 in the study are still alive.

Such late-stage cancers kill more than 30,000 U.S. men every year.

The study followed 250 men, randomly assigned to receive either docetaxel alone or with DN-101.

Montgomery said the DN-101 study is part of a push to find safe medicines that make cancers more susceptible to the toxins in chemotherapy drugs.

Courtesy of The Oregonian 5/18/2005

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Breakfast Essential for Children

Researchers reviewed 47 nutrition studies and concluded that children and adolescents who ate breakfast had better mental function and better school attendance records than those who did not. And breakfast eaters, even though they consumed more calories, were less likely to be overweight than those who skipped breakfast. The review appears in the May issue of The Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Vitamin E Safe Says New Study

Flying completely under the news radar, a new study funded by The National Institute's of Health found vitamin E safe. In the prestigious Women's Health Study, 40,000 healthy women took either 600IU of vitamin E or placebo every other day for ten years. The vitamin did not cause harm, and reduced the risk of heart-related death, including cardiac arrest, by 24%, according to Harvard's Julie Buring.

Courtesy of Jean Carper of USA Weekend 5/15/2005

Kudzu may help alcoholics

Heavy drinkers who tried the herbal extract kudzu for one week downed fewer drinks than people who received an inactive placebo treatment, according to new study findings released Monday.

Study author Dr. Scott E. Lukas of McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical Center in Massachusetts explained that during the experiment, people drank their first beer right away, but were less likely to want more beer if they had taken kudzu the previous week.

He said that kudzu may also help deliver blood to the brain, making people more satisfied with less alcohol. "We can see this in the data because people took more sips in order to finish each beer, but the sips were much smaller," Lukas said.

Kudzu contains isoflavones, antioxidants believed to confer a variety of health benefits. Previous research has shown that kudzu extracts help discourage drinking in rats and hamsters.

In the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, Lukas and colleagues note that kudzu naturally contains only 1 percent isoflavones. To investigate further if kudzu might affect humans' desire to drink, the team developed a more concentrated extract of kudzu that contained 25 percent isoflavones.

Courtesy of Reuter's Health 5/17/2005

Steve - Kudzu has also been researched for treating postmenopausal symptoms, although on a much more minor scale than soy.

Anti-depressants can cause internal bleeding

Some popular anti-depressant drugs can cause internal bleeding similar to that triggered by aspirin and related painkillers, researchers said on Monday.

The anti-depressants involved are Prozac-type selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, the report from the Northwestern University Medical School said.

A review of the medical records of 549 patients admitted to hospitals for acute gastrointestinal bleeding found that ongoing use of such anti-depressants caused a risk of bleeding similar to that caused by the regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen.

"While more research needs to be conducted ... physicians must closely monitor for this serious adverse event, especially in patients who are taking both SSRIs and NSAIDs," said Michael Jones, a physician who was the report's chief author.

Courtesy of Reuters 5/17/2005

Monday, May 16, 2005

Coconut Oil May Help Cholesterol Levels

Coconut oil's long shelf life and high melting point once made it and other tropical oils, such as palm oil, popular ingredients in processed snacks. But, like butter, whole milk and red meat, coconut oil contains saturated fat, which experts have said contributes to high cholesterol, clogged arteries and heart disease. More recently, however, researchers have revealed that the fat molecules in coconut oil are shorter than those in animal-derived saturated fat. Some say that this subtle difference may explain why the traditional Polynesian diet — high in tropical oils, like coconut — appears to lead to relatively low rates of heart disease.

Uses: Some people are now turning to coconut oil to combat hypothyroidism and obesity and improve their cholesterol levels.

Dose: Proponents say a tablespoon a day or more is needed to reap coconut oil's health benefits. The oil is sold in tubs for cooking and as a dietary supplement in softgel (pill) form.

Courtesy of LA Times 5/16/2005

Low-sugar has become the new low-carb

Food makers are rushing to meet demand from consumers concerned with their waistlines and healthier eating by providing an array of new products, some of them aimed at children. But scientists are divided over how positive this development is, questioning whether the change will help people lose weight, and how healthful the artificial sweeteners are.

According to a survey done by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a food industry trade group, almost 50 percent of all grocery shoppers said they were looking for products with reduced sugar.

Propelled in part by the popularity of the sugar substitute sucralose, or Splenda, the food industry last year introduced 2,225 sugarless or sugar-reduced products in the United States, according to the research firm Productscan Online. This figure is more than double that of two years ago and represents 11 percent of all new products in 2004.

While many nutritionists champion artificial sweeteners as a way to cut calories and reduce sugar, others say these products are not the answer to America's weight and health problems. Some critics voice concern about the increased consumption of what are essentially chemical sweeteners, especially among children.

Dr. Susan Schiffman, a sweetener specialist and professor of medical psychology at Duke University Medical Center, says she has safety concerns about sucralose, which is the nation's fastest-growing sugar replacement, according to the Freedonia Group, a research firm. She points to the Food and Drug Administration's 1998 report giving approval for sucralose, which said the compound is "weakly mutagenic in a mouse lymphoma mutation assay," meaning it caused minor genetic damages in mouse cells.

The report also said one of the substances produced when sucralose is broken down in the body is "weakly mutagenic in the Ames test." An Ames test is the standard method used to detect possible carcinogens.

"The sucralose people keep saying 'It's just a little bit of a mutagen,' " Dr. Schiffman said. "Well, I don't want a little bit of a mutagen in my food supply. How do you know what happens in a long life span or to the next generation or to your eggs and sperm? I don't feel like the issues have been answered."

Bonnie - This nutritionist is no champion of Splenda (sucralose). I have had many clients complain of side effects related to sucralose consumption, mainly g.i.-related. Once these clients went off sucralose, their symptoms went away. We already went through a sugar-free phase twenty years ago with aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet) and saccharin (Sweet & Low). Reducing overall added sugar intake by eating real foods is the answer. Eating fake foods loaded with artifical sweeteners is not.

If you need to use an alternative sweetener, I recommend the herb stevia, which has no glycemic properties, no calories, helps regulate blood sugar, and has no side effects. I have hundreds of clients who use it daily with no problems.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Head of Expert Panel for 2005 Dietary Guidelines and MyPyramid Weighs in on Milk

The spinning has begun! Janet King, PhD., wrote an editorial in the May issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, which is a blatant attempt to admonish herself from any blame or criticism that has come with the release of 2005 Dietary Guidelines and MyPyramid. Her arguments for milk are feeble, her arguments against milk are telling, and most exciting is what she does not say.

Dr. King was nominated by the Wheat Foods Council to chair the expert science panel that recommended to the USDA what dietary advice should be included in the new Dietary Guidelines and Food Guide Pyramid. The fact that she published an editorial on the heels of MyPyramid release should come as no surprise.

What is astonishing is that Dr. King, a nutrition expert, uses potassium as her major defense for drinking milk. She says that the increase to 3 cups per day was done to help Americans meet their recommended potassium intake. Any dietitian can tell you that potassium is easy to get in our diet. In fact, there are many foods far richer in potassium than milk. Depending on the fat percentage in milk, potassium content can range anywhere from 371mg - 407mg per 8 oz. glass. One large baked potato packs 1630mg of potassium; sweet potato 400mg; 6 oz. V-8 juice 620 mg; 3 o.z chicken breast 210 mg; banana 467mg; 1/4 cup raisins 310 mg. You get the picture...potassium is a bountiful nutrient in a wide variety of foods.

What we find extremely exciting is that Dr. King never mentions calcium, which has been the Dairy Council's calling card. The absence of calcium speaks volumes to what many experts now believe, that calcium from milk is not an optimal source.

Suprisingly, Dr. King mentions that milk does not create weight loss, which is contrary to another marketing ploy the Dairy Council is forcing down our throats in their "3-a-Day" campaign.

Her argument that lactose intolerance is not as big of an issue as we believe, is weak. I guess the World Health Organization stating that 62% of the world is lactose intolerant, all the top geneticists in the world conclude that milk is contraindicated genetically in humans, and that milk is the number one allergen in the United States, is no big deal.

The fact that Dr. King discusses the risk of prostate cancer from increased milk consumption and the carcinogenic effects of high estrogen content in milk should raise eyebrows.

What is most pitiful is that Dr. King makes a measly ten reference effort to back up her opinion. The geneticists whose study confirmed that milk and dairy are contraindicated genetically in humans, had hundreds.


Children should reject soft drinks to stay healthy

US researchers this month reported that excessive consumption of sugar sweetened drinks may be a key reason for the troubling increase in childhood obesity.

A commentary in the The Journal of Pediatrics (May), reviewed previous research concerning the role of soft drinks in childhood obesity. They found, perhaps not unsurprisingly, that there was a strong correlation between soft drink consumption and the risk of childhood obesity.

Dr. Murray concluded that "the typical teen consumes approximately two-12 ounce cans of soft drinks per day, containing 300 calories and 20 teaspoons of sugar."

Hence, although current guidelines recommend a limit of 10 per cent of daily calories from added sugars, they actually account for 18-20 per cent of children's daily calories, with soft drinks and sweetened fruit drinks accounting for over 40 per cent of these total added sugars.

Dr Murray recommended that schools concentrate on providing lower calorie beverage choices in their vending machines such as water, and 100 percent vegetable juices.

"Altering the energy (calorie) gap by 100 calories a day - which, ironically, is the equivalent of one 8-oz. serving of a sweetened soft drink -would prevent excessive weight gain in most Americans," he said.

This weight gain needs to be stopped as scientists have estimated that 25 percent of obese children show signs of glucose intolerance and "a child who is diagnosed with type II diabetes mellitus at age 10 years may lose between 17 and 26 life-years to the disease."

Courtesy of nutraingredients.com

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Changing carbs for protein helps reduce stomach fat

Substituting a modest amount of protein for carbohydrate may reduce abdominal obesity, say researchers reporting on data gathered from a diverse multi-ethnic population.

Their findings do however seem to support the evidence showing that high protein, low-carbohydrate diets can help with overall weight loss.

A Canadian team carried out a cross-sectional study among 617 Canadians of Aboriginal, South Asian, Chinese, and European origins, with diet evaluated using validated, culture specific, interviewer-administered food frequency questionnaires.

Abdominal obesity was measured as a waist-hip ratio.

The mean proportion of energy intake from protein in the diet was 17.4 per cent for the lowest tertile of waist hip ratios compared to 15.8 per cent for those in the highest tertile, they report in this month’s issue of the Journal of Nutrition (issue 135, pp 1196-1201).

Energy-adjusted protein substituted for an equivalent amount of carbohydrate was associated with a reduction in waist-hip ratio after accounting for age, sex, ethnicity, smoking status, BMI, alcohol intake, height, physical activity, and total energy.

Courtesy of Nutraingredients.com

Supplements not sunbeds to lift vitamin D levels

Supplements, and not increased exposure to either natural or artificial ultraviolet (UV) light, should be the preferred way of topping up vitamin D levels.

There is growing evidence – and increasing debate surrounding this data -that many people in the northern hemisphere, especially the elderly and and darker-skinned individuals, may be lacking sufficient vitamin D.

Findings from the conference white paper are published in the May 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (vol 52, no 5, p 868).

The benefits of vitamin D are well documented and include, most notably, improved bone health and fracture prevention, better muscle health and a reduced risk of falling in older individuals.

However research suggest that many elderly are lacking in the vitamin. A study done by Danish health authorities last year found that in the oldest age-groups close to 80 per cent have vitamin D insufficiency and 25 per cent are vitamin D deficient.

Some researchers have caused controversy by suggesting that increased exposure to sun could help remedy such deficiencies. But the US authors noted that photosynthesizing vitamin D through natural sunlight is maximized after 20 minutes of ultraviolet B (UVB) exposure, with extended sun exposure providing no additional benefit but instead increasing the likelihood of photodamage and skin cancer.

Bonnie - This is what I have suggested for years. Fifteen to twenty minutes of unencumbered sunlight five times weekly is all you need for adequate vitamin D. But for most if us, this is not an option. Our next best option is high quality cod liver oil.

Preemies thrive on formula with added fatty acids

Formula feeds containing fatty acids -- specifically docosahexanoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) -- may improve the development of preterm infants, new research suggests.

The findings, which appear in the Journal of Pediatrics for April, are based on a study of 361 preterm infants who were randomized to receive formula containing DHA from algal oil and ARA from fungal oil, DHA from fish oil and ARA from fungal oil, or no supplementation. The babies were compared to a group of 105 full-term breast-fed infants. Both of the supplemented formulas were linked to better developmental outcomes than the unsupplemented formula.

Infants in both supplemented formula groups scored higher on standard mental and movement-coordination tests than did those in the regular formula group.

"This clinical trial demonstrated that feeding infant formulas with median worldwide human milk levels of DHA and ARA from single-cell algal and fungal oils can enhance growth of premature infants," the researchers conclude.

Courtesy Reuters Health 5/10/2005

SOURCE: Journal of Pediatrics, April 2005.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Vitamin B-6 Food, Supplements May Lower Colon Cancer Risk

The new report is based on a study of more than 32,000 women aged 30 to 55.

Every two to four years, the women completed questionnaires on their medical history, lifestyle, and diet. They provided blood samples at the start of the study.

From 1989-2000, the group had 194 colorectal cancer cases and 410 precancerous cases. The women with those conditions were compared with healthy women of similar backgrounds.

The risk of colorectal cancer was 44% lower for the women with the highest blood level of vitamin B-6 compared with women with the lowest level of vitamin B-6.

Women who had the most vitamin B-6 from foods or supplements were 49% less likely to develop colon cancer.

Journal of the National Cancer Institute, May 4, 2005

ABC News Poll Shows Nearly 4 in 10 American Adults Suffer From Pain on a Regular Basis

More than half of Americans live with chronic or recurrent pain, with broad numbers saying it interferes with their activities, mood and enjoyment of life — sparking a vast search for relief, from medication to bed rest, yoga or the palliative power of prayer.

An exclusive survey by ABC News, USA Today and the Stanford University Medical Center finds that, excluding minor annoyances, just under half of adults have experienced pain in the last two weeks, and nearly four in 10 do so on a regular basis.

Six in 10 Americans rate their last experience with pain as moderate or worse, and for two in 10 — about 40 million individuals — it was severe. Nineteen percent suffer chronic pain, meaning ongoing pain that's lasted three months or more. An additional 34 percent report recurrent pain; the rest say their usual pain experience is acute, or short-term.

Sizable majorities of those who've tried various relief therapies report that they work at least somewhat well — ranging from medications to heating pads or ice packs to less prevalent methods such as massage therapy, seeing a chiropractor, or homeopathic and herbal remedies. But many fewer say any of these work "very well." Even prescription drugs fall short: While six in 10 Americans have taken prescription drugs for pain, just 51 percent of them say such medications have worked very well.

Over-the-counter-drugs and home remedies (heating pads, ice packs, hot baths or showers) are the most commonly used pain therapies among all Americans, with more than eight in 10 having tried them. About six in 10 have used prescription drugs, bed rest or, as noted, prayer.

This ABC News/USA Today/Stanford University Medical Center poll was conducted by telephone April 13-19, 2005, among a random national sample of 1,204 adults. The results have a three-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS Intersearch of Horsham, Pa.

Courtesy of ABC News 5/9/2005

Steve - Managing diet and stress has everything to do with chronic pain. We have also found that daily omega-3 fish oil supplementation (dosage dependent upon severity of pain) is helpful because it keeps the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio at 2 or 3:1.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Heightened emotion linked to premature cardiac contractions

A study of people with cardiac troubles suggests that bursts of anger precede the most dangerous flutters of the heart.

To explore how feelings affect heartbeats, Matthew Stopper of the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, and his colleagues asked 24 patients with implanted defibrillator devices to keep a diary of their emotions.

The patients all had conditions that can disrupt electrical signals to the heart, causing an unhealthy quivering of the muscles. This in turn can lead to a cardiac arrest. Their implanted defibrillators are designed to detect these abnormalities and deliver a life-saving electric shock to put their hearts back in the right rhythm.

After receiving such a shock, participants in the study rated how angry they had felt beforehand on a scale of 1 to 5.

The medical team then retrieved information from the defibrillator devices to see how their hearts had gone wrong.

Out of the 56 shocks recorded during the study, the researchers found that in 100% of cases where people reported anger levels above 2, the arrhythmias were initiated by a series of rapid, premature heart contractions. This type of contraction is known to put an individual at greater risk of sudden arrest.

In contrast, only 68% of arrhythmias not preceded by angry feeling had this characteristic. Stopper and his fellow scientists presented their results on 5 May, at the Heart Rhythm Society's annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.

"We know that the emotional distress brought on by earthquakes, missile attacks and even the loss of key football matches can trigger heart attacks," says health psychologist Doug Carroll of the University of Birmingham, UK. "It had been presumed that this results from an increased likelihood of clot formation. But this study tells us that strong emotions such as anger can also disrupt the electrical rhythms of the heart."

Courtesy of Nature 5/6/2005

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Milk a Major Culprit in Causing Acne

According to a Harvard School of Public Health study done on 47,000 women, milk was linked to higher rates of teenage acne. Those who drank more than three glasses a day as teens were 22% more likely. The rate was higher (44%) for those who drank skim milk. Links were also found between acne and several other dairy foods including ice cream, cream cheese, and cottage cheese.

Courtesy of Alternative Medicine May 2005

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Data on Prostate Cancer Survival

Men with nonaggressive prostate cancer who were treated with hormones or took no action at all are unlikely to die of the disease even 20 years later, new research shows.

Conversely, the disease is likely to be deadly for men with signs of more aggressive cancer treated with hormones or just observation.

The new study, with an average follow-up of 24 years, suggests men with low-grade, localized cancers might do well with little or no treatment, avoiding the surgery or radiation that can cause impotence and incontinence.

The findings are the latest to support a cautious approach in treating some prostate cancers, although there is still debate about how to define the riskiest cases.

Prostate cancer

The research, led by Dr. Peter Albertsen at the University of Connecticut, appears in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.

The new study casts doubt on the earlier findings and suggests that "if you survive 15 years, it is unlikely that the tumor will turn ugly and progress," Albertsen said.

In the study, only 7 percent of the men with low-grade tumors died of prostate cancer during the study, compared with 66 percent of men with high-grade.

Courtesy of Associated Press 5/3/2005

Bonnie - I hate to say it, but I have been saying this for a long time. It's unfortunate that hundreds of thousands, if not millions of men over the last 20 years have had to go through uneccsary procedures and treatments with a slow growing cancer that in many cases can just be left alone and monitored.

Episiotomies May Bring More Risks

For years, some doctors believed that an episiotomy, an incision to enlarge the vaginal opening during childbirth, would prevent spontaneous tearing that would be harder to repair. They also believed the procedure would help women avoid incontinence and improve their sex lives.

It turns out those beliefs were myths.

A new review of 26 research studies shows that episiotomies are linked with a higher risk of injury, more trouble healing and more pain.

Episiotomies also had no effect on incontinence, pelvic floor strength or sexual function. Women who had the procedure waited longer to resume sex after childbirth. And their first post-birth intercourse caused them more pain.

"This review puts together in one place all the evidence that we're not getting the results we want," said Dr. Katherine Hartmann, the study's lead author and a researcher at the University of North Carolina.

The review was published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.

She estimated that 1 million women each year have unnecessary episiotomies, citing studies that indicate they are done in about 30 percent of vaginal births.

"Just in time for Mother's Day," Hartmann said. "This is a big gift for future mothers."

Courtesy of Associated Press 5/3/2005

Omega-3 May Reduce Behavioral Issues

In a report issued by journal Pediatrics, 117 children between the ages of 5 and 12 years of age with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) showed a remarkable reduction in symptoms when supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids. University of Oxford researchers went so far as to remark the benefits rivaled that of stimulant medications.

Steve - The regimen is easy and cost-effective. Liquid Cod Liver Oil in the fall and winter. Liquid Omega-3 Fish Oil in the spring (if sun exposure) and summer. These oils have so many other ancillary benefits as well.

MyPyramid Spoof Delivers

If you were to type in mypyramid.org instead of mypyramid.gov, the home pages look exactly the same. But if you look at the fine print, you'll see they are very different.

Mypyramid.org was created to expose, in a humorous manner, the way government puts big business and its own interests above all else when it comes to food policy. View it when you have a chance.


Monday, May 02, 2005

Overweight countries face dementia epidemic

Developed countries may face an explosion in age-related dementia in the next 20 years if they fail to contain the present obesity crisis, warn researchers at Californian health care delivery organization Kaiser Permanente.

In a longitudinal population-based study conducted over a 27-year period and published last week in the online version of the British Medical Journal, researchers concluded that being overweight or obese in middle age considerably increases risk of dementia in later life.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 64 percent of American adults age 20 years and over are overweight or obese and other developed countries are becoming increasinly concerned about their populations.

For example, one in eight Irish people are obese and figures from the health department show that the nation has become steadily heavier, with a 30 per cent increase in reported obesity levels over the last four years.

A recent study into the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in aging populations predicted that that the incidence of dementia is expected to increase 400 percent in the next 20 years.

The researchers examined data from health evaluations of 10,276 members of Kaiser Permanente’s health care plan between 1964 and 1973. At the time of the evaluations the subjects were aged 40 to 45, and all were still members of the plan in 1994.

Their height and weight were measured according to standardized procedures, and they were categorized by body mass index (BMI) as obese (BMI of 30 or over), overweight (25.0 to 29.9), normal (18.6 to 24.9) or underweight (less than 18.9).

Subcapsular (shoulder) and tricep skinfold (back of upper arm) thickness was also measured using Lange skinfold calipers.

The researchers decided to investigate a correlation between the results of these examinations in middle age and later incidence of dementia between since, although a recent study have indicated that obesity in elderly women increases the risk of dementia, BMI tends to decrease with aging.

The initial onset of dementia may also affect appetite and cause weight loss, skewing further the temporal association between weight and dementia.

Between January 1994 and April 2003 dementia was diagnosed in 713 participants – 6.9 percent of the study group.

Obese women were seen to be twice as likely to develop dementia as normal women, while overweight women had a 55 percent increased chance.

Obese and overweight men fared better than their female counterparts, but the same pattern was still identified, with a 30 percent increase in risk amongst obese subjects and 16 percent in overweight subjects.

Overall, obese people had a 74 percent increased risk of dementia compared with normal people, and the overweight people a 35 percent increased risk. Men and women in the higher fifth of the distribution of subcapsular or tricep skinfold thickness were also seen to have a 72 percent and 60 percent increased chance or dementia, compared with those in the lower fifth.

The researchers did admit some limitations to the study, however: no information was collected on weight cycling, dieting, nutrition or mid-life measures of cognitive function which other studies have shown may be associated with dementia.

They also said that some measure of central obesity, such as waist circumference, would have been informative but was not measured.

Furthermore, since diagnoses of dementia were made during medical visits, cases amongst those who did not attend visits may have been missed. “If these results can be confirmed elsewhere, perhaps treatment of obesity might reduce the risk of dementia,” wrote the researchers.

“Failure to contain the present epidemic of obesity may accentuate the expected age related increase in dementia.”

Obesity is also linked to increased risk of heart disease, some cancers, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

Courtesy of nutraingredients.com 5/2/2005

Acupuncture 'more than a placebo'

Sceptics have said that any benefits gained from acupuncture are merely down to a person's expectation that the treatment will work.

But researchers at University College London and Southampton University say they have separated out this placebo effect.

Their findings, based on a series of experiments and brain scan results, are published in the journal NeuroImage.

The researchers used positron emission tomography (PET) scans to see what was happening in the brains of people having acupuncture treatment for arthritis pain.

Each of the 14 volunteers underwent each of three interventions in a random order.

In one intervention, patients were touched with blunt needles but were aware that the needle would not pierce the skin and that it did not have any therapeutic value.

Another intervention involved treatment with specially developed "trick" needles that give the impression that the skin was being penetrated even though the needles never actually pierced the skin.

The needles worked like stage daggers, with the tip disappearing into the body of the needle when pressure is applied. This was designed to make the patients believed that the treatment was real.

The third intervention was real acupuncture.

When the researchers analysed the patients' PET scan results they found marked differences between the three interventions.

Only the brain areas associated with the sensation of touch were activated when the volunteers were touched with the blunt needles.

During the trick needle treatment, an area of the brain associated with the production of natural opiates - substances that act in a non-specific way to relieve pain - were activated.

This same area was activated with the real acupuncture but, in addition, another region of the brain, the insular, was excited by the treatment.

This was a pathway known to be associated with acupuncture treatment and thought to be involved in pain modulation.

BBC News 5/2/2005