Contributor: Denise Reynolds
Numbers on the Rise
A new study released by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the number of kids diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, has increased 53 percent since 2003. Approximately 6.4 million children in the US between the ages of four and 17 have been diagnosed. “Those are astronomical numbers,” says Dr. William Graf, a pediatric neurologist and professor at the Yale School of Medicine. The study also indicates that two-thirds of the diagnosed children are on a prescribed medication such as Ritalin or Adderall, which leads to concerns about the over-medicating of kids to the detriment of their later health. “Mild symptoms are being diagnosed so readily,” warns Dr. Graf. Symptoms of ADHD include hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsiveness.
Supplements Do Not Lower Risk
A review published in The Cochrane Library has found that for well-nourished adults, taking additional selenium in the form of supplements is of no benefit for preventing heart disease. Selenium has been thought to decrease risk by protecting against oxidative stress and inflammation. It may even slightly decrease cholesterol. However, says author Saverio Stranges of Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick (UK), there is limited evidence that the use of supplements will ultimately prevent the development of heart disease in healthy people. Selenium is a trace mineral essential for good health and found in Brazil nuts, seafood, meat and poultry, sunflower seeds, and some grains. Adults need about 55 mcg per day to meet the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA).
Brominated Vegetable Oil
PepsiCo Inc has announced that it is removing a controversial chemical from its Gatorade drinks. Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is a chemical containing bromine which is also found in fire retardants. The ingredient is used in some citrus-flavored drinks such as Orange and Lemonade to keep the flavor evenly distributed. The chemical has been linked to memory loss and nerve disorders when consumed in large quantities. Molly Carter, a spokeswoman for Gatorade, said BVO-free versions of the beverage will be introduced to US consumers in the next couple of months. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, BVO is a “poorly tested and possibly dangerous food additive and there is no reason to use it in Gatorade or other drinks.”
Two Tablespoons a Day
Two tablespoons of coconut oil a day have been shown in a new case study to reduce the debilitating symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in some patients. Researchers suspect that coconut oil benefits Alzheimer’s patients by giving the brain an energy boost. The disease depletes brain energy so there is not enough to form new memories. Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides, or MCT, which increases the body’s ability to produce ketones that can serve as an alternate energy source for the glucose-deprived Alzheimer brain. Experts warn that there is not enough scientific evidence to support the claim that coconut oil will benefit Alzheimer’s patients and that the fats in coconut oil are potentially damaging to the heart.
Also an Aphrodisiac in TCM
A new study published in the Journal of Impotence Research and conducted in South Korea has found that taking ginseng pills (in the form of Korean ginseng berry extract) for just a few weeks can significantly improve sexual performance in men with erectile dysfunction. When compared with participants taking a placebo, those taking ginseng showed a “small but significant improvement in sexual function.” Previous research suggests that 18 million American men over the age of 20 are affected by ED. Ginseng has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to improve overall health and as an aphrodisiac. The plant contains several active ingredients known as ginsenosides or panaxosides believed to be responsible for its medicinal effects.
The Sunshine Vitamin
A new study published in the November/December 2012 issue of the journal Headache suggests that having low levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin (OH) D is associated with non-migraine headaches. Researchers from the University Hospital of North Norway have found that participants with the lowest levels of vitamin D in their blood had 20 percent more headaches than those with the highest levels. Vitamin D receptors are located in areas of the brain thought to be involved in the pathophysiology of headache, says Marie Kjaergaard MD. However, the researchers do point out that there have only been a few case studies describing the link between vitamin D deficiency and non-migraine headaches and that there has not yet been adequate intervention studies to determine if supplementation might help.
Stroke, Heart Attack, Cancer?
A daily pill that contains a chemical found in tomato skin could help reduce the risk of a host of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer. Called Ateronon, the pill contains lycopene, an antioxidant, equivalent to eating 6 pounds of tomatoes per day. Lycopene may help unclog arteries by breaking down fatty deposits. It may also boost blood flow and soften arteries in patients with pre-existing heart conditions. It is not known if these positive effects will ultimately make the “tomato pill” a viable treatment option to reduce strokes and heart attacks among people with cardiovascular disease. According to the CDC, heart disease accounts for about a quarter of all deaths in the United States each year.
Study Adds to Reasons to Avoid
A new study from Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen finds that men whose diets are high in saturated fats have a 41 percent lower sperm count than men who consumed the least amount. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, included about 700 Danish men who had their fitness levels checked for military service between 2008 and 2010. Semen was analyzed as part of a physical examination. Saturated fats, found in meats, whole-fat dairy products, and certain oils, are also associated with a higher cholesterol level and increased levels of chronic disease. To lower saturated fat, choose leaner cuts of meat, remove skin from poultry before eating, opt for lower fat versions of milk and cheese, and cook with unsaturated oils such as canola oil.
Activity and Diet Are Key
Data from more than 30,000 participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study from Spain indicates that women who walk at least three and a half hours per week can lower the risk of stroke. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly interrupted or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every four minutes someone dies of stroke. Daily physical exercise is one way women can lower this risk with walking being one of the most popular activities. Other ways to lower stroke risk include dietary measures such as lowering sodium intake and reducing fat consumption.
What's Old Is New Again
Phil Lempert, a food trend expert and founder of supermarketguru.com, says that old diet tricks from the 1960’s and 70’s are making a comeback. Trends such as the grapefruit diet, the cabbage soup diet, cottage cheese, and rice cakes are becoming popular once again. Retro foods, which are often minimally processed, easy to eat and extremely low in calories, have become appealing to dieters because they just might work. Low-fat cottage cheese, for example, is a great source of protein and calcium. Eating grapefruit can reduce insulin levels. And cabbage is known for its high antioxidant content in addition to being very low in calories. Snack foods such as air-popped popcorn and rice cakes offer a lot of fiber and volume to help keep you satisfied longer.
Not So Surprising News
Recipes created by your favorite TV chef are probably not as healthy as you might hope. In a study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers found that popular cooking show recipes contain more calories, fat, and saturated fat and also contain less fiber than convenient supermarket-ready meals. The research was conducted in the UK, using 100 recipes from five best selling cookbooks by British television chefs such as Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, and Lorraine Pascale. Nutrition content was calculated from the raw ingredients stated in the recipes. In Europe, as well as in the United States, the rate of obesity is growing each year and along with the weight gain come a rise in chronic health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Regular consumption of gazpacho, a popular cold Mediterranean soup, may help to reduce hypertension (high blood pressure). Researcher Alexander Medina-Remon of the University of Barcelona says that nutrients within the main ingredients of gazpacho – tomato, cucumber, garlic, and olive oil) are associated with reduced arterial pressure, despite the fact that the soup also usually contains salt. He suggests that the bioactive elements in the vegetables, particularly carotenes and vitamin C, may counteract the effect of sodium ingestion. High blood pressure is a major public health problem affecting about 25 percent of the adult population. It is a primary risk factor for heart attack and stroke, both leading causes of death in the US.
Beef E.Coli, Fecal Matter
Steak and other meat products such as hamburger may be contaminated more than previously known with E. coli bacteria and fecal matter, finds a new report published in the Kansas City Star. A year-long investigation has found that the beef industry is increasingly relying on a mechanical process to tenderize meat which then drives surface pathogens deeper into the meat. If the food isn’t cooked to the proper temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit, it can cause illness and potentially death. A 2008 USDA survey found that more than 90 percent of beef producers are using the method called “blading” or “needling,” however meat is often not labeled as such. The American Meat Institute has defended the final product as safe, but are awaiting further investigation into the process.
Both Caffeinated and Decaf
Regular coffee drinking may help lower the risk of developing oral and pharyngeal cancer. The new findings, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, are based on a study of 968,432 men and women tracked over the course of 26 years. Those participants who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day had a 49 percent lower risk of developing oral or pharyngeal cancer, regardless of other factors that normally raise the risk such as smoking and alcohol drinking. The association was there, but smaller, for those who drank decaf coffee, but unfortunately no benefit was seen in tea drinkers. Coffee contains a variety of antioxidants, polyphenols, and other active ingredients that help protect against the development of cancer, say the authors of the study.
Brightly Colored Are Best
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can reduce a woman’s risk for breast cancer, especially ER-negative cancers which are more aggressive and tend to have a poorer prognosis. Researchers publishing in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute have found that women whose blood carried higher levels of carotenoids, such as alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein+zeaxanthin, and lycopene have a significantly lower risk of developing breast cancer. Carotenoids are yellow, orange and red pigments found in plants so the nutrients are found in fruits and vegetables such as carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale are also rich in carotenoids. A woman may be able to increase carotenoid absorption by adding small amounts of fat to the diet.
Humulone in Hops
According to researchers at Sapporo Medical University in Japan, a compound in beer known as humulone is effective in fighting against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common infection which can lead to pneumonia and bronchitis in infants and children and cold-like symptoms in adults. Humulone is an “alpha acid” found in hops, the ingredient that gives beer its bitter taste. It possesses several biological benefits including anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties. It is thought the ingredient can reduce inflammation caused by infection. However, there is a catch. It would take a considerable amount – about 30 cans – for people to receive its protective effect. Scientists are working on a way to add humulone to other foods or non-alcoholic beverages to get the same effect.
The Pinocchio Effect
While the fable that your nose will grow every time you lie remains untrue, your nose does actually go through changes when you don’t tell the truth. Researchers with the University of Granada have found through studies of thermography that the temperature around the nose and in the orbital muscle (in the inner corner of the eye) rises when mental effort is being made, such as when we are performing a difficult task, being interrogated on a specific effect, or lying. When we are not truthful with our feelings, researchers found that a brain element called the insula is activated which is involved in the regulation of body temperature. Anxiety and sexual desire also causes the temperature in the face to change, detectable by the thermograph.
Americans are still falling short when it comes to achieving their nutritional goals. Researchers with the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) studied the responses of more than 8,000 Americans to a survey that collected data of what they ate in the course of a typical day. Overall, most Americans did not reach all of the nutrition recommendations set forth by the USDA, but some groups fared better than others. Children and elderly adults scored highest, indicating they more often ate a healthier diet than young and middle-aged adults. Hispanic Americans typically had better quality diets than either blacks or whites. The one tip that would help boost nutrition levels among all groups, says lead researcher Gary Bennett, is to eat more fruits and vegetables.
A Christmas Miracle
Mistletoe may have potential as an alternative therapy for sufferers of colon cancer. Researchers with the University of Adelaide in Australia have found that one type of mistletoe extract, from a species known as Fraxini, was highly effective against colon cancer cells in a laboratory culture and gentler on healthy intestinal cells as compared with chemotherapy. Chemotherapy alternatives are often sought due to harsh side effects such as mouth ulcers and hair loss. Fraxini mistletoe grows on ash trees and its extract has been considered a viable alternative therapy in overseas countries, states Zahra Lotfollahi, the project research lead. Colon cancer is the second greatest cause of cancer death in the Western World.
Makes Men Look More Masculine
Mustache transplants are becoming the latest plastic surgery trend among Middle Eastern men. The procedure involves a special technique called a follicular unit extraction in which the surgeon removes clumps of hair from other areas and implants them on the upper lip. Patients are generally between the ages of 30 and 50 years and the cost is about $7000. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia as an outpatient. Results are typically seen within six months. Turkish plastic surgeon Selahattin Tulunay says that he performs about 60 mustache transplants per month. In the Middle East, a full mustache is seen by some as making men look dignified, mature and wise as well as more masculine than men without.
Carbs Overall Linked to Disease
Drinking just one 11-ounce soft drink per day could increase a man’s risk of developing serious and aggressive forms of prostate cancer by about 40 percent. These are the findings of a new study to be published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and conducted by researchers at Lund University. The study followed over 8000 men between the ages of 45 and 73 for an average of 15 years. Diets heavy in carbohydrates such as rice, pasta and sugary breakfast cereal also increased prostate cancer risk, but for most men, it was a milder form of disease. More research is needed into the link, however, there are many reasons to cut out soft drinks, such as an increased calorie intake leading to risk of obesity and decreased bone density leading to osteoporosis.
Arginine and Proline
Chronic wounds such as foot ulcers are a common problem for patients with diabetes and are the cause of more than 80 percent of leg amputations in this population. Diet plays a major role in helping to prevent and heal these types of wounds. French researchers have found that a high protein diet, particularly one rich in two specific amino acids, may improve wound healing in diabetic laboratory animals. Researchers found that rats given a high protein diet supplemented with arginine and proline had better nitrogen balance than those on a standard diet plus showed more new blood vessel growth – which is an essential part of wound healing. The amino acid supplemented diet also reduced inflammation which slows the healing process. Dairy products are especially rich in both amino acids.
Low Glycemic Index
Diet is a huge component in keeping blood sugar levels under control for those with Type 2 diabetes. Snacking appropriately can further help by preventing overeating (helping with weight control) and adding nutrients the body needs to function appropriately. Nuts may be a good choice for those with diabetes as they have a low glycemic index, therefore preventing spikes in blood sugar. A preliminary study from the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition has found that pistachio nuts in particular can help slow the glucose release of other foods eaten at the same time, such as rice and pasta. Pistachios are low-calorie, low-fat nuts that are also good sources of protein and offer nutrients like dietary fiber, potassium, copper, manganese, vitamin B6 and thiamin.
But Not Necessarily Healthier
According to a new study from Temple University, the number of options has increased 53 percent at fast food restaurants over the past 14 years. However, even though some of those options include seemingly more healthful foods, such as grilled chicken and oatmeal, there has actually been little change in calorie count from the average meal offered by the top 8 major chains. Side items have dropped slightly in calorie level, likely due to the addition of side salads and smaller portions of foods such as French Fries. Lunch and dinner entrees are still about the same – on average of 453 calories each. In the near future, due to the Affordable Care Act of 2010, consumers will be able to see calorie counts for all items posted at restaurants and food vendors with more than 20 locations.
Fiber Blocks Fat and Cholesterol
Japan will soon have a new soft drink product that claims it has the ability to block fat. Pepsi Special contains dextrin, an indigestible dietary fiber which can block the absorption of fat and may help to lower cholesterol levels. Spokespeople claim the product will remain tasty, with an aftertaste that is crisp, refreshing and unique. So far, there is no word as to when Pepsi Special might be available in the United States. Dextrin has not been conclusively shown to work in humans although that hasn't stopped the Japanese from marketing other such products, such as Kirin Mets Cola, another beverage that contains the fiber. Dietary fiber is suggested for those who wish to lose weight as well as it can help one feel full longer.
Makes the Medicine Go Down?
If you need a boost of self-control, an easy solution may be a mouth rinse with sugar water. Researchers with the University of Georgia found in a study of just over 50 students that those who rinsed their mouths with a sugar-sweetened lemonade performed significantly faster on a test called the Stroop task over those who swished with lemonade sweetened with Splenda. The theory is that glucose stimulates the simple carbohydrate sensors on the tongue which then signals the motivational centers of the brain where our self-related goals are represented. These signals tell the body to pay attention to the task at hand. Dr. Leonard Martin says it may be a helpful method to use during times of low willpower, such as when trying to quit smoking or boost productivity at work.
Heineken Rep Says Yes
The Chief Commercial Officer of Heineken is stirring up quite a controversy. Alexis Nasard has said to CNBC that beer is very healthy, and gives a list of reasons why. First, a pint of beer has fewer calories than a glass of milk. According to the Beer Education Trust in the UK, a pint of pale ale would equal 170 calories, while the same amount of 2 percent milk would equal 240 calories. Nasard also states that beer is “one of the few drinks that is purely natural. It is water, hops, barley and yeast, which is quite healthy.” But Dr. Jack Edmonds, a London general practitioner, reminds us that “All the benefits of beer - health, social and psychological - are only enjoyed when beer is drunk in moderation and preferably with a low alcohol content."
Increased Risk of Dementia
Having high blood pressure not only increases the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke, but can also cause vascular brain injury that can lead to cognitive decline as one gets older. New research from the University of California Davis that compiles data collected on 579 people taking part in the Framingham Heart Study found that the brains of a person with high blood pressure had more damage in the frontal lobes and less gray matter in the frontal and temporal lobes. Both conditions can lead to a reduced ability in thinking and memory and a greater risk for developing dementia. High blood pressure is the single greatest risk factor for premature death in the United States. Hypertension is diagnosed when blood pressures are above 140/90.
Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
Diet is known to influence cancer risk, but research into specific foods can be tricky, as it is hard to isolate one food or one component out of many lifestyle factors and its exact relationship to preventing or stopping cancer. Known dietary risk factors for prostate cancer include heavy meat intake and dairy products, but are there foods that can reduce the risk of getting cancer in the first place? Tomatoes are best known for their anti-cancer compound lycopene, which some studies link to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. But additional studies have found no such benefit. However, tomatoes are still a part of a man’s healthy diet as they contain beneficial vitamins and antioxidants. Other potential anti-prostate cancer foods include broccoli, soy, and flax.
Not a Quick Fix Solution
HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, was first introduced as a dietary supplement for weight loss in the 1950s, but has recently regained popularity when added to a strict low-calorie diet to curb hunger and “reset” metabolism. However, the diet therapy does not teach healthy eating, so after the initial stage of weight loss, dieters often regain the weight lost. While she is not endorsing the hCG diet as a long-term weight management solution by itself, Dr. Jennifer Landa, Chief Medical Officer of BodyLogic MD, says the controversial therapy can be an “effective stepping stone” for healthy weight management for those with obesity complications such as high blood pressure and elevated glucose levels. But only under the careful monitoring of a physician, and not as a quick fix, she warns.
Burns 33 Percent More
Working out before breakfast can have a significant impact on your weight loss efforts. Dr. Jason Gill, a researcher with Glasgow University, found in a small study that men who exercised before breakfast used up to 33 percent more fat than those who exercised after eating. The pre-meal workout helped burn more body fat, particularly that around the waist, because it forces the body to rely on its stores of fat for energy. Exercise in the morning also may help reduce artery-clogging blood fats, decreasing the risk of heart disease. Of course both groups burned more fat than those who did not do any exercise. Don’t worry about not having enough energy before breakfast to workout. The body holds enough reserves to for about 90 minutes to two hours of exercise before the need to refuel.
Fish for the Brain
There have been many studies indicating several health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, including helping older adults maintain memory and slow aging, but until now there have been none focused on younger adults and the effects the nutrient has on their brains. A new study from the University of Pittsburgh has found that omega-3’s, found in foods such as grass-fed livestock and wild fish, may improve working memory in healthy men and women between the ages of 18 and 25. Prior studies have shown that a deficiency in omega-3 can lower dopamine storage in the brain, the neurotransmitter that is linked to mood and memory. Certain brain mechanisms may also work more efficiently when there is an adequate amount of the nutrient.
Many Kindergartners Cannot
Prescription use among Americans is on the rise, and it may be contributing to the increase in accidental drug poisonings of children at home. Data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers found that emergency room visits for pediatric pharmaceutical exposures have increased 30 percent over the past decade. Those drugs most commonly ingested include sleep aids, opioid painkillers, cardiovascular medications, diabetic drugs, cold medicines, aspirin, and acetaminophen. These drugs, formulated for adults, can have serious toxic consequences in children. One problem – the medicines sometimes look like candy to a child. Toxic medications should be packaged as benignly as possible, says ER physician Dr. Michael Lanigan.
A study in the American Journal of Public Health finds that workplace smoking bans and smoke-free laws are effective in saving lives that could be lost due to sudden cardiac death and myocardial infarction (heart attack.) The researchers note that there was a substantial decline in heart attacks (33 percent) and sudden cardiovascular death (17 percent) after just 18 months of having bans on smoking in restaurants, bars and workplaces in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Secondhand smoke kills 42,000 non-smokers in the United States each year, including nearly 900 infants. Passive smoking also contributes to $6.6 billion in lost productivity. Environmental tobacco smoke is not just a nuisance, says former US Surgeon General Richard Carmona. Science has compelling shown that it harms human health.
Fourth Most Common Cancer
Eating more plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals, nuts and legumes may protect women against lower stomach cancers. A European study conducted at the Catalan Institute of Oncology in Spain and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with the highest intake of flavonoids, plant nutrients that have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, were at least half as likely to develop stomach cancer as those women who had the smallest intake. Stomach cancer is the fourth most common cancer, but the second most deadly. Overall, a diet rich in plant foods and low in red and processed meat has been found to be the best for lowering the risk of many types of cancer, including stomach cancer.
Chemical Free Technique
Do you have facial wrinkles that you would like to get rid of? A massage therapist in San Francisco is charging $350 to literally slap them off your face. According to the Tata Massage website, “Face slapping is well-known internationally and uses Thai wisdom to bring out your own beauty.” She says that the procedure has been used for thousands of years in Thailand. The 15-minute session is thought to lessen wrinkles, shrink pores and tighten skin by increasing facial circulation, contributing to a youthful glow. Tata says the results are visible immediately and the technique is 100% chemical-free, unlike other creams, fillers, or Botox. Tata is one of only 10 people in the world who are licensed to perform face-slapping and the only one here in the Western hemisphere.
Common Sense to Control Calories
Want to finally lose weight for good? Health.com offers ten tips from renowned experts to help you shed those excess pounds and keep them off. Bethenny Frankel explains that portion control is key, but you do not always have to rely on a food scale. Think about what you are eating and where the excess calories lie. If you are eating pasta, skip the extra carbs from the bread. Lisa Lombardi, Health’s executive editor reminds us that liquid calories from juice, soda, and even wine, add up quickly. Keep appropriate snacks close by, such as fruit and nuts, to reduce temptation for chips and cookies. Keep motivating pictures or clothing you hope to get back into around so you stay on track. Jo Miller suggests brushing your teeth after a meal to make you less likely to overeat late at night.
Talk to Your Doctor First
Consumers often do not think twice about taking an herbal product or dietary supplement, but should pay more attention, especially when taking other medications. A review published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice highlights the issue of potentially harmful drug interactions with supplement products including St. John’s Wort, ginkgo, echinacea, and certain vitamins and minerals. Most of the drug interactions are caused by altering the process by which a drug is absorbed or metabolized. The drugs with the greatest number of reported interactions included warfarin (Coumadin), insulin, aspirin digoxin, and ticlopidine (Ticlid). Talk with your physician before beginning any dietary supplement regimen if you have a chronic condition for which you take medication.
Protein and Fat Protective
A new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reports that people 70 and older who eat foods high in carbohydrates and heavy in sugar have nearly four times the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition often preceding Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic tracked 1230 people who provided information about what they had eaten during the previous year. Those with the highest intake of sugar were 1.5 times more likely to experience problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment over those who ate the least amount of sugar. In contrast, those with a high intake of protein had a reduced risk of 21 percent. Those who consumed the most fat, compared to the lowest fat intake, were 42 percent less likely to have cognitive impairment.
Spotlight on Selenium
Two case reports presented at the American College of Gastroenterology’s Annual Scientific meeting highlight the importance of nutritional adequacy after bariatric surgery. Noncompliance with vitamin and mineral supplementation after gastric bypass increases health risks, including an increased chance of heart problems. In the first report, a female patient successfully lost over 100 pounds, but did not follow the recommended nutritional protocol which caused anemia and a heart murmur. A second case focused on intake of selenium, an essential mineral which plays an integral role in heart function. The female patient, seven years out from her bariatric surgery, experienced respiratory and circulatory collapse due to cardiomyopathy, an enlargement of the heart muscle.
Superior Anti-Cancer Properties
A new compound created from cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and brussel sprouts has been developed to combat triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), a form of aggressive cancer that accounts for approximately 15 to 20 percent of all breast cancer cases in the United States. A team of researchers from Florida A&M University and Texas A&M University have evaluated the activity of compounds within these vegetables known as “novel C-substituted diindolylmethane (C-DIM) which have superior anticancer properties. In contrast to existing anticancer drugs, DIM is orally active, so it could be available to patients in pill form and safe to take daily. The research has been presented at the 2012 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Even with Windows Down
The air inside a car where riders are smoking is worse than what the World Health Organization deems as acceptable for Indoor Air Quality Standards, even when the windows are open or the air conditioning is on. Such levels of exposure are likely to affect the health of any passenger, especially children. WHO states that the maximum safe limit for particulate matter in the air is 25 µg/m3. In a study of 17 “smoking journeys,” where drivers traveled for an average duration of 27 minutes, levels exceeded this limit by 10 times. Secondhand smoke is linked to several children’s health problems, including sudden infant death, middle ear disease, wheeze and asthma. Several countries have introduced legislation to ban smoking in cars where children are passengers.
Fiber, Antioxidant Combination
Black carrots – which are actually deep purple in color – may have a leg up on orange carrots in its cancer-fighting abilities. Carrots, available year-round but are at their peak in the fall, are known for being detoxifying to the liver. The less commonly known black carrot contains antioxidant compounds which can play an important role in cancer protection. Polyphenols, which also give blueberries and red wine their vivid color, work together with the high fiber content of the carrot to be protective during digestion in the stomach and small intestine. This, says Dr. Anneline Padayachee from the University of Queensland, can have a shielding effect on the colon as it transports waste through the body. [See Dr. Padayachee's comment below for a clarification.]
But Does Not Raise Risk Either
Taking B-vitamins such as folic acid, B6 and B12 will have no bearing on your colon cancer risk, finds a new study from Harvard Medical School. Researchers compared taking a B-vitamin combination pill to an inactive placebo in more than 5400 older women and found no evidence that the supplements will either increase or reduce the risk of colon polyps, a precursor to cancer. As many as 35 percent of Americans take dietary supplements, but the American Cancer Society does not recommend them for preventing any type of cancer. Their advice is to consume a healthful diet increasing fruit and vegetable intake and limiting red meat, being physical active, losing weight as needed, and getting the recommended colorectal cancer screenings, particularly after the age of 50.
Prevents Brittle Bones Too
Vitamin C actively protects against bone loss which can lead to osteoporosis in elderly adults finds a new study from researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine which showed that when mice were given large doses of vitamin C, bone formation in the skeleton was activated. Researchers have known for some time that a deficiency in vitamin C led to brittle bones, but his is the first study to indicate that the vitamin plays a role in stimulating bone cells. "Further research may discover that dietary supplements may help prevent osteoporosis in humans," said Dr. Mone Zaidi, professor of medicine and lead researcher for the study. "If so, the findings could be ultimately useful to developing nations where osteoporosis is prevalent and standard medications are sparse and expensive."
Sit Up Straight!
A new study from San Francisco State University and Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan finds that having good posture can improve your mood. One hundred participants, mostly female, were separated into two groups that performed two movements: either walking with a slouched posture or skipping, which requires participants to look upward. Participants with the slouched walk reported a significant decrease in their energy levels and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Those who skipped felt more energetic, happier, and more positive. The authors acknowledge their theory has limitations and plan to do more studies, but they do note that more people today stay hunched over desks and computers and the of prescriptions doctors write for depression medications has increased.
Mineral Good for Immune Function
A new study has found a biological pathway by which being deficient in zinc can lead to a decline of the immune system and increase inflammation which can further lead to diseases that include cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disease and diabetes. Researchers from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University suggest that about 40 percent of elderly Americans and as many as two billion people around the world have diets that are deficient in zinc, which protects against oxidative stress and helps repair DNA damage. The mineral is especially rich in meats and seafood. Although it is present in grains and vegetables, it is harder for the body to absorb from these sources. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for zinc is 11 milligrams a day for men and 8 milligrams a day for women.
Food, Not Supplements
Eating an apple a day may keep the cardiologist away. A study from Ohio State University has found that consumption of apples – specifically Red or Golden Delicious - in healthy, non-smoking, middle-aged adults for four weeks was associated with a 40 percent lowered level of oxidized LDL, commonly known as “bad cholesterol.” When LDL is oxidized, it is more likely to promote inflammation and cause tissue damage. The beneficial nutrients in apples are polyphenols, an antioxidant that can help prevent oxidation. But don’t fall into the trap of taking an antioxidant supplement, lead researcher Robert DiSilvestro warns. Capsules with the same polyphenols showed a similar benefit, but not as large as when consuming the whole fruit.
Prevention and Cure
As part of the rehabilitation after having a stroke, exercise has been found to help improve memory, language, thinking, and judgment problems by almost 50 percent. Researchers presenting at the Canadian Stroke Congress report that following an aerobic and strength/resistance program five days a week resulted in significant improvements in overall brain function in a study of 41 patients at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. Because people who have cognitive deficits after a stroke have a threefold risk of mortality, exercise should become a standard of care for stroke patients, says lead researcher Susan Marzolini. The exercises can and should be adapted to suit the patient’s particular abilities, such as for those with mobility issues following a cerebrovascular accident.
NatGeo Goes to Japan
According to The Sun, Japanese fans of extreme body modification are flocking to participate in the latest trend – affectionately called “The Bagel Head.” The bizarre look, which gives the appearance that someone has an actual bagel in their forehead, is created by injecting 400cc of saline into the area until it swells and then pressing in the center with a thumb. The process may take up to two hours to complete, but only lasts 16 to 24 hours, when the saline is absorbed by the body and the forehead returns to its normal shape. The new body alteration trend, which is featured in National Geographic’s Taboo, was originally “discovered” at the Modcon convention in Canada in 1999 by photographer and journalist Ryoichi “Keroppy” Maeda.