Wednesday, December 24, 2014

NIH pulls children's study

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has pulled the plug on the National Children's Study (NCS), an ambitious study that would have examined the effects of environmental influences on the health and development of more than 100,000 children by following them from birth until age 21 years.

About $1.3 billion has been spent on the project since 2007, however, the NCS as currently designed is not feasible.

In a statement, James M. Perrin, MD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), said the decision to close the NCS is "disappointing. In our view, the NCS had the potential to help answer crucial questions about the health and development of children. We recognize, however, the significant challenges the study faced in a time of constrained public resources."

"The goals set forth in the Children's Health Act of 2000, which authorized the NCS, remain as relevant to child health today as they did 14 years ago," Dr Perrin said, and it is "essential that the United States maintain its commitment to these essential research priorities. The need for pediatric research has not diminished."

Bonnie: I am appalled that they could not find a way to make this study work. With the overall health of our children regressing, not progressing, a study like this is imperative. 

More Phenomenal Feats for Folic Acid

Taking folic acid before conception significantly reduces the risk of small for gestational age at birth, suggests a new study published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Being small for gestational age is associated with increased neonatal morbidity and mortality and an increased risk of chronic diseases in later life such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular disease and mental health problems, states the study.

Bonnie: Note that for at least 25% of  the human population, folic acid is not enough. A genetic defect does not all those 25% to transform folic acid into absorbable folate. That is why I recommend to either:

1) Test for the MTHFR gene to rule out the defect
2) Take a quality prenatal that contains not only folic acid, but the activated form of folate to ensure absorption.

Fast Food linked to school performance?

Researchers found that the more frequently children reported eating fast food in fifth grade, the lower their growth in reading, math, and science test scores by the time they reached eighth grade. Students who ate the most fast food had test score gains that were up to about 20 percent lower than those who didn't eat any fast food. The results are published online in the journal Clinical Pediatrics.

This study included about 11,740 students. They were tested in reading/literacy, mathematics and science in both fifth and eighth grades. They also completed a food consumption questionnaire in fifth grade. Fast-food consumption was quite high in these students.

Children who ate fast food four to six times per week or every day showed significantly lower gains in all three achievement areas compared to children who did not eat any fast food the week before the survey.

Children who ate fast food just one to three times a week had lower academic growth compared to non-eaters in only one subject, math.

Half of all kids autistic by 2025 says MIT Researcher

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Be Careful What You Read Before Bed

If you curl up under the duvet with an e-book for a bedtime read then you are damaging your sleep and maybe your health.

A team from Harvard Medical School compared reading paper books and light-emitting e-readers before sleep.

They found it took longer to nod off with a back-lit e-reader, which led to poorer quality sleep and being more tired the next morning.

There has been growing concern about the dangers of light before bedtime.

Our bodies are kept in tune with the rhythm of day and night by an internal body clock, which uses light to tell the time.

But blue light, the wavelength common in smartphones, tablets and LED lighting, is able to disrupt the body clock.

Blue light in the evening can slow or prevent the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Beta carotene helps with inflammation

Low-grade inflammation is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Results from a recent study in Annals of Metabolism suggest that the beta carotene status may be inversely associated with low-grade inflammation in the long term by lowering C-Reactive Protein levels. CRP is a blood marker for inflammation.

Steve: For those of you who may not know, beta carotene is a form of vitamin A found in foods like carrots and sweet potatoes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lutein: The Seeing, Thinking Carotenoid

The link between the carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, and visual and cognitive health throughout life is growing stronger, according to a review of the research from Tufts University in Boston. Lutein and its isomer, zeaxanthin, are taken up selectively into eye tissue. Lutein is the predominant carotenoid in human brain tissue. Lutein and zeaxanthin in neural tissue have biological functions, including antioxidation, anti-inflammation, and structural actions. In addition, lutein and zeaxanthin are protective against eye disease by absorbing damaging blue light that enters the eye. In pediatric brains, the relative contribution of lutein to the total carotenoids is twice that found in adults, accounting for more than half the concentration of total carotenoids. The greater proportion of lutein in the pediatric brain also suggests a need for lutein during neural development. In adults, higher lutein status is associated with improved cognitive function, and lutein supplementation has been shown to improve cognition.

Lutein accounts for 59% of the carotenoids in the infant’s brain, even when it is low in the diet, according to a study from Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.

In Perspective: Lutein and zeaxanthin are two carotenoids found in dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, chard, and collard greens. Research suggests we need at least 10 milligrams of lutein and 2 milligrams of zeaxanthin every day to protect ocular tissue from damage associated with macular degeneration and cataracts. That dosage requires at least a cup or more of dark green leafies every day, or supplement.  Optimal intake for brain function has not been determined.

US Health Care Lags for Those Over 65

Thursday, December 11, 2014

7 Big Benefits of Exercising Outside This Winter

Women Should Say No to Aspirin

The pros of giving healthy women regular low dose aspirin to stave off serious illness, such as cancer and heart disease, are outweighed by the cons, suggests a large study published online in the journal Heart.

Participants were randomly assigned to take either 100 mg of aspirin or a dummy tablet (placebo) every other day, to see whether aspirin curbed their risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

During the trial period, which lasted 10 years, compared with placebo, regular aspirin was linked to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, bowel cancer, and in some women, other cancers, but only marginally so.

And this slight health gain was trumped by the prevalence of internal gastrointestinal bleeding, which affected two thirds of the women taking the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

The researchers calculated that over 15 years, 29 over-65s would need to be treated with aspirin to prevent one case of cancer or heart disease/stroke.

They concluded that blanket treatment "is ineffective or harmful in the majority of women with regard to the combined risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and major gastrointestinal bleeding."

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Doctors dole out prescriptions for exercise

Probiotics Now Recommended for Infants

Probiotics should be consumed by pregnant and lactating women and their breast-fed infants to prevent the development of atopic dermatitis, according to recommendations that will soon be issued by the World Allergy Organization.

It will be the first time that probiotics will be recommended for allergy prevention by a medical organization. The announcement was made at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2014.

The Guidelines for Allergic Disease Prevention are still officially under review. The first section, on probiotics, is scheduled to be released at the end of January 2015. Sections on vitamin D and prebiotics will follow.

Steve: The expected probiotic recommendations are a revelation, especially for people like us who have recommended them for decades. However, specific strains or combinations of strains need to be put in the guidelines. For example, the strains that showed the more consistent results are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Impact of Nutrition on the Aging Process

This is directly from a study in the November issue of British Journal of Nutrition

Human life expectancy has been increasing steadily for almost two centuries and is now approximately double what it was at the beginning of the Victorian era. This remarkable demographic change has been accompanied by a shift in disease prevalence so that age is now the major determinant of most common diseases. The challenge is to enhance healthy ageing and to reduce the financial and social burdens associated with chronic ill health in later life. Studies in model organisms have demonstrated that the ageing phenotype arises because of the accumulation of macromolecular damage within the cell and that the ageing process is plastic. Nutritional interventions that reduce such damage, or which enhance the organism's capacity to repair damage, lead to greater longevity and to reduced risk of age-related diseases. Dietary (energy) restriction increases lifespan in several model organisms, but it is uncertain whether it is effective in primates, including humans. However, excess energy storage leading to increased adiposity is a risk factor for premature mortality and for age-related diseases so that obesity prevention is likely to be a major public health route to healthy ageing. In addition, adherence to healthy eating patterns, such as the Mediterranean dietary pattern, is associated with longevity and reduced risk of age-related diseases.

Cargill Can Still Call Truvia Natural

A court in Hawaii has approved a settlement between Cargill and a series of plaintiffs alleging it misled shoppers by marketing its Truvia consumer products (which contain stevia extract Reb-A and erythritol) as ‘natural’ for $6.1 million.

The lawsuits allege that Cargill misled shoppers by marketing its Truvia tabletop sweetener as ‘natural’ as the Reb-A steviol glycoside it contains is "highly chemical processed" and the bulking agent (erythritol) is “synthetically made”.

Cargill manufactures Truvia's synthetic erythritol in a patented process by first chemically extracting starch from GM corn and then converting the starch to glucose through the biochemical process of enzymatic hydrolysis. The glucose is then fermented utilizing moniliella pollinis, a yeast."

Here's the dumbfounding thing: under the settlement, Cargill does not admit liability, and still reserves the right to call Truvia a ‘natural sweetener' or 'Nature’s Calorie-Free Sweetener'. However, it has agreed to make changes to its labeling and marketing. Cargill agreed to:

  • Put a notice on its label directing consumers to the Truvia website for clarification about how the ingredients are made.
  • Clarify its “Nature’s Calorie-Free Sweetener” and “Truvia Natural Sweetener provides the same sweetness as two teaspoons of sugar” statements by adding an asterisk inviting consumers to look at the FAQ page of its website so they "can fully understand how the product is made and why Cargill believes it is natural".

The settlement was not huge victory for the plaintiffs. The settlement in this case runs contrary to the view that labeling misleads consumers by allowing 'natural' claims to continue while relegating 'substantive' labeling changes to asterisks that direct consumers to the FAQ section of Truvia’s website.

Cargill already did its job and gained huge market share with its false label claims. $6.1 million is nothing to them because they already have their shelf space and loyal customers, and at the same time forced wonderful, natural brands like Sweet Leaf off the shelves.

65% of the country need help with weight-loss

New weight-loss guidelines issued last year recommend behavioral treatment for 140 million American adults - 65% of the population, a new study indicates.

This is a "staggering" increase in the number of Americans for whom weight-loss therapies are recommended, researchers stated at Obesity Week 2014.

"It points to the need for public-health solutions, because it's going to be very difficult for the medical establishment to deal with this many people. We're going to have to try to do what we can on all fronts," they said.

Overweight Category Now Includes More People

The guidelines for treating individuals with excess weight that were issued last year by the American Heart Association (AHA), American College of Cardiology (ACC), and the Obesity Society (TOS) would recommend weight-loss treatment for 13% more Americans than the previous obesity-treatment guidelines issued in 1998. Overweight individuals need to have only one as opposed to two cardiovascular risk factors, and one of the risk factors could be extra girth around the waist.

Criteria for Recommending Weight-Loss Treatment in Adults

  • Obese
  • Overweight or large waist plus at least 2 of 7 CVD risk factors:
  • Hypertension
  • Impaired fasting glucose
  • Abnormal LDL cholesterol
  • Low HDL cholesterol

Men above age 44; women above age 54 or postmenopausal

  • Smoking
  • Family history of premature CHD
  • Overweight plus at least 1 of 4 CVD risk factors:
  • Hypertension
  • Prediabetes or diabetes
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Large waist

One way to help? New physical activity guidelines examined in the most recent issue of British Journal of Sports Medicine:

Adults partook in moderate-intensity aerobic activity a minimum of 30 min on 5 days, or vigorous-intensity activity of 20 min on 3 days, each week. Compared with inactive subjects, those that met or exceeded physical activity gaining meaningful weight of was significantly lower.

CDC Says Flu Shot Less Effective This Season

A sampling of flu cases so far this season suggests the current flu vaccine may not be a good match for the most common seasonal flu strain currently circulating in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.

The U.S. health agency issued an advisory to doctors noting that flu virus samples the agency took from Oct. 1 through Nov. 22, showed that just under half were a good match for the current influenza A (H3N2) component contained in flu shots for the 2014-2015 season, suggesting the virus has drifted.

Here is a link to the health advisory.

Calcium lowers periodontal disease risk

Researchers investigated the relationships between calcium intake and the prevalence of periodontal disease in women with a mean age of 31.5 years. Compared with the lowest group of calcium intake, the highest group was significantly associated with a lower prevalence of periodontal disease. The study appeared in November's Nutrition Journal.

Keep in mind that the ideal range of supplemental calcium intake is between 500 to 800 mg. Higher doses is dependent upon individual needs and should be taken in conjunction with a qualified health professional.