Thursday, October 31, 2013

Exercise not only treats, but prevents depression

Physical activity is being increasingly recognized as an effective tool to treat depression. A review in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has taken the connection one step further, finding that moderate exercise can actually prevent episodes of depression in the long term.

This is the first review to focus exclusively on the role that exercise plays in maintaining good mental health and preventing the onset of depression later in life.

Researchers analyzed over 26 years' worth of research findings to discover that even low levels of physical activity (walking and gardening for 20-30 minutes a day) can ward off depression in people of all age groups.

The findings come at a time when mental health experts want to expand their approach beyond treating depression with costly prescription medication. The scope of research demonstrates that regardless of individual predispositions, there's a clear take-away for everyone. The researchers state, "it's definitely worth taking note that if you're currently active, you should sustain it. If you're not physically active, you should initiate the habit. This review shows promising evidence that the impact of being active goes far beyond the physical."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Managing Media for Your Children: You Need a Plan

The American Academy of Pediatrics has come out with suggested ways to curb children's media consumption, which is staggering. If media was food, almost every child would be morbidly obese because of the amount they consume. The sad part is that excess media exposure does lead to higher risk of obesity in children. While the suggestions AAP makes are fairly basic, the message will at least get parents talking.

Here is the press release and link to the official document.

Lower blood sugar good for the brain

Even for people who don’t have diabetes or high blood sugar, those with higher blood sugar levels are more likely to have memory problems, according to a new study published in the October 23, 2013, online issue of Neurology.

The study involved people with an average age of 63 who did not have diabetes or pre-diabetes, which is also called impaired glucose tolerance. The participants’ memory skills were tested, along with their blood glucose, or sugar, levels. Participants also had brain scans to measure the size of the hippocampus area of the brain, which plays an important role in memory.

People with lower blood sugar levels were more likely to have better scores on the memory tests. On a test where participants needed to recall a list of 15 words 30 minutes after hearing them, recalling fewer words was associated with higher blood sugar levels. For example, an increase of about seven mmol/mol of a long-term marker of glucose control called HbA1c went along with recalling two fewer words. People with higher blood sugar levels also had smaller volumes in the hippocampus.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Which state best suits your personality?

Aspirin: Always Risk vs. Reward

Researchers have published the most comprehensive review of the benefits and risks of a daily dose of prophylactic aspirin.

Benefit needs to be balanced alongside a fuller understanding of the potentially harmful side effects.

The paper, published by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) Programme, reported benefits of taking aspirin each day ranged from 10% reduction in major cardiovascular events to a 15% drop in total coronary heart disease. In real terms, that would ultimately mean 33-46 fewer deaths per 100,000 patients taking the treatment.

There was also evidence of a reported reduction in incidents of colorectal cancer, which showed from approximately five years after the start of treatment. This would equate to 34 fewer deaths from colorectal cancer per 100,000 patients.

The adverse effects of aspirin were also noted with a 37% increase in gastrointestinal bleeding (an extra 68-117 occurrences per 100,000 patients) and between a 32%-38% increase in the likelihood of a hemorrhagic stroke (an extra 8-10 occurrences per 100,000 patients).

The researchers said, "This study makes it clear that there is an incredibly fine balance between the possible benefits and risks of the intervention. We need to be extremely careful about over-promoting aspirin intervention without having first fully understood these negative side effects.

Steve: For our clients considering aspirin, we always state that getting a genetic screening for tolerability is paramount. This can easily be done but is very rarely offered by physicians.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Multivitamins positively affect breast cancer outcomes

Taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement could increase the chances of long term survival in people with invasive breast cancer, according to a new study in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. Researchers examined data for thousands of postmenopausal women and found that the risk of dying from invasive breast cancer was 30% lower among multivitamin/mineral users compared with nonusers. 

The research was conducted as part of the Women's Health Initiative Clinical Trials and the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) Observational Study of 161,608 postmenopausal women ages 50 to 79 when they first joined the study. The current study focused on 7,728 participants who were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer during the WHI and were followed for an average of seven years after their diagnosis.

Study: end the war against saturated fat,0,2193813.story#axzz2iYQkCQxR

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Yale is putting the "I" in inflammation

Inflammation is the common denominator of many chronic age-related diseases such as arthritis, gout, Alzheimer's, and diabetes. But according to a Yale School of Medicine study, even in the absence of a disease, inflammation can lead to serious loss of function throughout the body, reducing healthspan -- that portion of our lives spent relatively free of serious illness and disability.
Published as the cover article in the October issue of Cell Metabolism, the study found that immune sensor Nlrp3 inflammasome is a common trigger of this inflammation-driven loss of function that manifests itself in insulin-resistance, bone loss, frailty, and cognitive decline in aging.

This is the first study to show that inflammation is causally linked to functional decline in aging. There are multiple cellular triggers of inflammation throughout the body, but we've pinpointed Nlrp3 as the specific sensor that activates inflammation with age.

Organic Halloween candy can replace options with shady ingredients.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

No surprise here: air pollution causes cancer

Stress increases mental decline in middle-aged women

Common psychosocial stressors experienced by women during midlife may lead to a higher risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease (AD), according to new research in BMJ Open.
The population study included 800 women from Sweden who were first examined in 1968 and then followed up periodically for 38 years.

Results showed that the number of stressors, such as workplace problems, serious illness, divorce, and widowhood, was associated with a 21% higher risk of developing AD and a 15% higher risk of developing dementia during the follow-up period. It was also associated with significantly increased later-life distress.

Physiologic consequences can include adverse reactions in the central nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine, and immune systems.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gluten-Free Naysayers: Where Are You?

Several years ago, food marketing and public health gurus predicted that the demise of the gluten-free craze would occur just about now. Not only has it not gone away, but it is stronger than ever. The gluten-free market is expected to grow 48% between now and 2016 to $15.6 billion. There is one simple reason. People feel better when they are not on gluten!

In a recent Mintel survey, of those surveyed who were gluten-free, 65% said they were because it was healthier and they felt better. 27% said they did it to lose weight. That only leaves 8% who were actually celiac or gluten intolerant.

One caveat: we are thrilled that so many people have chosen to eliminate gluten. However, there are many gluten-free products that are not healthy. Just because you eschew a glutenous cake for one that is gluten-free does not make much of a difference from a health perspective. Food companies are capitalizing on this in a big way.

For the percentage of people who are eating gluten-free foods in moderation, we support your efforts!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Promoting healthy lifestyles does work for high schoolers

Although obesity and mental health disorders are two major public health problems in adolescents that affect academic performance, few studies have been conducted in high schools.

The goal of a study in the October issue of American Journal of Preventive Medicine was to test the efficacy of the COPE Healthy Lifestyles TEEN (Thinking, Emotions, Exercise, Nutrition) Program, versus an attention control program (Healthy Teens) on: healthy lifestyle behaviors, BMI, mental health, social skills, and academic performance of high school adolescents immediately after and at 6 months post-intervention.

COPE is a cognitive–behavioral skills-building intervention with 20 minutes of physical activity integrated into a health course, taught by teachers once a week for 15 weeks. The attention control program was a 15-session, 15-week program that covered common health topics.
After six months, COPE teens had a greater number of steps per day and a lower BMI than did those in Healthy Teens, and higher average scores on all Social Skills Rating System. Alcohol use was 12.96% in the COPE group and 19.94% in the Healthy Teens group. COPE teens had higher health course grades than did control teens. The proportion of those overweight was significantly different from pre-intervention to 6-month follow-up, with COPE decreasing the proportion of overweight teens, versus an increase in overweight in control adolescents.

COPE can improve short- and more long-term outcomes in high school teens.

What happens to our body after drinking coca cola

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Are You a Cyberchondriac?

Turning to the Internet to find out what ails you is common, but for folks who have trouble handling uncertainty, "cyberchondria" -- the online counterpart to hypochondria -- worsens as they seek answers, according to a Baylor University researcher.
"If I'm someone who doesn't like uncertainty, I may become more anxious, search further, monitor my body more, go to the doctor more frequently -- and the more you search, the more you consider the possibilities," said Thomas Fergus, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences. "If I see a site about traumatic brain injuries and have difficulties tolerating uncertainty, I might be more likely to worry that's the cause of the bump on my head."

His study is published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.

As if fearing a catastrophic disease or injury isn't bad enough, doubts about health -- unfounded or not -- can trigger worries about potential medical bills, disability and job loss, he said. And that can lead to even more Googling, obsessing, doctor visits, unnecessary medical testing and distress.

Prior research shows that approximately eight of 10 American adults seek medical information on the Internet.

Friday, October 04, 2013

$5 blood screening from a simple finger prick?

Healthiest countries up vitamin D intake

A 3-year review of Nordic nutrient intakes has recommended daily vitamin D intakes increase from 750IU to 1000IU per day for people between 2 and 75 years of age. For over-75s, it set a level of 2000IU.

The 5th edition of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations involved three years of work and more than 100 scientists performing systematic reviews of a host of nutrients and was led by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Why is this important for Americans? Because Nordic countries are consistently rated as the some of the healthiest in the world. This report closely resembles what the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the so-called American authority on nutrient levels, released last year. Unfortunately, the IOM recommended 600IU of vitamin D as the daily vitamin D intake.

The Nordic Nutrition Recommendations also recommended increased intakes for selenium in adults, from 40 mcg to 50 mcg for men and 50 mcg to 60 mcg for women. For pregnant and lactating women it was set at 50 to 55 mcg.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Sleep's sweet spot

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention links too little sleep (six hours or less) and too much sleep (10 or more hours) with chronic diseases -- including coronary heart disease, diabetes, anxiety and obesity -- in adults age 45 and older.

It's critical that adults aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night to receive the health benefits of sleep, but this is especially true for those battling a chronic condition. Some of the relationships between unhealthy sleep durations and chronic diseases were partially explained by frequent mental distress and obesity.

In the study, published in the October issue of the Journal SLEEP, short sleepers reported a higher prevalence of coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes, in addition to obesity and frequent mental distress, compared with optimal sleepers who reported sleeping seven to nine hours on average in a 24-hour period. The same was true for long sleepers, and the associations with coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes were even more pronounced with more sleep.

No surprise: exercise as good as meds

Exercise can be as good a medicine as pills, a British Medical Journal (BMJ) study has found. Researchers looked at hundreds of trials involving nearly 340,000 patients to assess the merits of exercise and drugs in preventing death. Physical activity rivaled some heart drugs and outperformed stroke medicine.

Too few adults currently get enough exercise. 
In contrast, prescription drug rates continue to rise.

When the researchers studied the data as a whole, they found exercise and drugs were comparable in terms of death rates. 
But there were two exceptions. Drugs called diuretics were the clear winner for heart failure patients, while exercise was best for stroke patients in terms of life expectancy.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Quercetin is ubiquitously wonderful

We have always been a big supporters of the bioflavanoid, quercetin. While we mainly suggest it for allergy, inflammation, healing, and immune support, we found quercetin's antioxidant properties to be even more ubiquitous.

Ochratoxin (OTA) is one of the most abundant food contaminating mycotoxins and is commonly present in the food chain. Many of the effects associated with OTA, appear to be mediated through oxidative stress. Antidotes for alleviating the toxicity are sparsely reported. In a study in the upcoming December issue of Food and Chemical Toxicology, therapeutic strategy was directed towards use of quercetin. Results demonstrated that quercetin pre-treatment suppressed OTA-induced cytotoxicity and oxidative stress. Quercetin should be investigated to be used as a natural preservative to combat OTA.

Increased Growth factor IGF-1/IGF-1R axis activation is one the most integral factors in the development and progression of prostate cancer. Researchers in the September issue of Clinical Nutrition hypothesized that targeting this system with quercetin could be both treatment as well as prevention of prostate cancer. At least in rats, quercetin down regulated the cell survival, proliferative and anti-apoptotic proteins thereby preventing prostate cancer, by acting as a chemopreventive agent.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Men: Here's How to Keep the Pounds Off for Good.

Choose your carbohydrates with low glycemic index and low glycemic load. Glycemic Index is the amount of sugar in a food (100 is the highest, 0 is the lowest) and Glycemic Load is how fast food turns into glucose. The faster food turns into glucose, the worse it is for blood sugar balance. For example, I bet you guys love your cereal in the morning, don't you? Well, most cereals (just your good old shredded wheat, cheerios, or rice krispies) are all high glycemix index and load. Where 40 or less is an ideal number, most breakfast cereals are 70 or higher. On the flipside, while most of your whole fruits and vegetables may be naturally high in sugar, which makes their glycemic index high, their glycemic load, which shows how quickly the food turns into glucose is well below the 40 range (between 4 and 12).

In a new study from The Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that a diet low in carbohydrate intake and low glycemic load have health benefits in men by positively affecting daylong glycemia, insulin sensitivity, liver fat, and weight. This was in men who had already lost weight and wanted to keep the weight off.