Posts Tagged “Diet”

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Katherine Bouton

These are my health links for February 5th through February 13th:

  • Straining to Hear and Fend Off Dementia -At a party the other night, a fund-raiser for a literary magazine, I found myself in conversation with a well-known author whose work I greatly admire. I use the term “conversation” loosely. I couldn’t hear a word he said. But worse, the effort I was making to hear was using up so much brain power that I completely forgot the titles of his books.A senior moment? Maybe. (I’m 65.) But for me, it’s complicated by the fact that I have severe hearing loss, only somewhat eased by a hearing aid and cochlear implant.Dr. Frank Lin, an otolaryngologist and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, describes this phenomenon as “cognitive load.” Cognitive overload is the way it feels. Essentially, the brain is so preoccupied with translating the sounds into words that it seems to have no processing power left to search through the storerooms of memory for a response.
  • Fitness May Lower Dementia Risk -Being physically fit in midlife is associated with a lower risk of dementia in old age, a new study reports.Between 1971 and 2009, 19,458 healthy adults younger than age 65 took a treadmill fitness test as part of a broader health examination. Researchers followed the subjects through their Medicare records for an average of 24 years.After adjusting for age, smoking, diabetes, cholesterol and other health factors, the researchers found that compared with those in the lowest 20 percent for fitness in midlife, those in the highest 20 percent had a 36 percent reduced risk of dementia.

    The reason for the association is unclear, but it was independent of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular risk factors for dementia, suggesting that both vascular and nonvascular mechanisms may be involved.

  • Getting the Right Dose of Exercise -A common concern about exercise is that if you don’t do it almost every day, you won’t achieve much health benefit. But a commendable new study suggests otherwise, showing that a fairly leisurely approach to scheduling workouts may actually be more beneficial than working out almost daily.For the new study, published this month in Exercise & Science in Sports & Medicine, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham gathered 72 older, sedentary women and randomly assigned them to one of three exercise groups.One group began lifting weights once a week and performing an endurance-style workout, like jogging or bike riding, on another day.

    Another group lifted weights twice a week and jogged or rode an exercise bike twice a week.

  • Government says it recovers billions in health fraud crackdown -The federal government recovered a record $4.2 billion in the last fiscal year from medical providers and others who fraudulently billed government healthcare programs such as Medicare, the Obama administration announced Monday.The 2012 tally – which surpassed the $4.1 billion the government reclaimed the previous fiscal year – extends a years-long trend and reflects efforts by the Obama administration to crack down on healthcare fraud.The president’s healthcare law includes new initiatives to weed out fraudulent medical providers and bar them from receiving Medicare reimbursements.
  • Does fluoride lower your child’s IQ? Dr. Joseph Mercola says yes on the Huffington Post. Don’t trust him. -So there I was last Sunday, filling my son’s sippy cup with tap water, when my friend told me about a Huffington Post article making the parenting rounds-the one titled “Harvard Study Confirms Fluoride Reduces Children’s IQ.” I set down my Brita pitcher, knowing that fluoride was one of the few chemicals it doesn’t remove, and sighed. Well, shit.Then I read the actual article, realized it was written by Dr. Joseph Mercola, the alternative physician who distinguishes himself as not being driven by “whatever has the most profit potential,” yet who sells fluoride-free toothpaste and hundreds of other products on his website (some of which have been slammed by the FDA for illegal marketing), and felt much better. Mercola frequently overstates the science and misleads his many readers-among other things, he preaches that vaccines cause autism and that homeopathy cures it, and oh, that animals are psychic-and this story (thankfully) is no different: The study on which he based his HuffPo article did find an association between high fluoride consumption and child IQ, but the findings aren’t applicable to American kids for a number of reasons. 
  • Southern diet, fried foods, may raise stroke risk -Deep-fried foods may be causing trouble in the Deep South. People whose diets are heavy on them and sugary drinks like sweet tea and soda were more likely to suffer a stroke, a new study finds.It’s the first big look at diet and strokes, and researchers say it might help explain why blacks in the Southeast – the nation’s “stroke belt” – suffer more of them.Blacks were five times more likely than whites to have the Southern dietary pattern linked with the highest stroke risk. And blacks and whites who live in the South were more likely to eat this way than people in other parts of the country were. Diet might explain as much as two-thirds of the excess stroke risk seen in blacks versus whites, researchers concluded.

    “We’re talking about fried foods, french fries, hamburgers, processed meats, hot dogs,” bacon, ham, liver, gizzards and sugary drinks, said the study’s leader, Suzanne Judd of the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

    People who ate about six meals a week featuring these sorts of foods had a 41 percent higher stroke risk than people who ate that way about once a month, researchers found.

  • Tennis Elbow: No Long-Term Benefit From PT, Corticosteroids -A steroid injection and 2 months of physical therapy may not be the solution for lateral epicondylalgia, commonly known as tennis elbow, suggest research findings published in the February 5 issue of JAMA.Brooke K. Coombes, PhD, from the University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Australia, and colleagues found that patients treated with a single corticosteroid injection had a 14% greater chance of poor outcome and a 77% increased risk for reinjury at 1 year relative to placebo.Eight weeks of physical therapy appeared to have no long-term benefit with the exception of decreased analgesic use. However, the physical therapy did improve short-term pain and disability outcomes at 1 month, although those benefits were lost when steroid injection was added to the treatment.
  • Longer span between mammograms okay for older women -Screening women over 65 each year for breast cancer doesn’t catch any more early tumors – but it does lead to more false positives – than screening every other year, according to a new study.The findings are based on more than 140,000 older women included in five mammography registries across the United States.”This study clearly tells us that screening every two years may be more appropriate than screening women every year,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society (ACS).
  • Old Age and Motorcycles Are a Dangerous Mix -If you’re over 40 and planning to hop on a motorcycle, take care. Compared with younger riders, the odds of being seriously injured are high.That is the message of a new study, published this week in the journal Injury Prevention, which found that older bikers are three times as likely to be severely injured in a crash as younger riders.The percentage of older bikers on the road is quickly rising, and their involvement in accidents is a growing concern. Nationwide, from 1990 to 2003, the percentage of motorcyclists over age 50 soared from roughly 1 in 10 to about 1 in 4. At the same time, the average age of riders involved in motorcycle crashes has also been climbing. Injury rates among those 65 and older jumped 145 percent from 2000 to 2006 alone.

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  • California’s Premature Birth Rate Continues To Fall -California’s rate of premature births declined slightly in 2011. A new report from the March of Dimes shows California’s rate has fallen five years in a row.The report shows overall, 9.8 percent of babies in California were born premature in 2011. Only four states have a lower premature birth rate: Oregon, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.In California, some populations had a much higher rate. For example, the premature birth rate among uninsured women was 25 percent.
  • Forbidden fruit roll-ups: USDA plans to restrict school snacks -The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing regulations to keep the nation’s students from buying gummy bears, fruit roll-ups and cheese puffs from vending machines and at campus snack bars during the school day. But it would allow high school students to buy 12-ounce sports drinks and 20-ounce diet sodas.The rules would apply only during the school day, allowing candy sales and other fundraisers to continue during non-school hours (half an hour after the school day ends) and at off-campus events. A limited number of such fundraisers could occur during the school day, and parents would be able to pack whatever they choose in their children’s lunch bags and bring cupcakes or other treats for special events such as birthdays.
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These are my links for December 29th:

  • 52 ways to leave your blubber – This is the year you will resolve to ditch the diets, the “all or nothing” mentality and the “no-pain, no-gain” fitness goals. This is the year you will resolve to use common sense to eat less junk food, move more — and have fun doing it.Remember what it was like when you were a kid and you thought nothing of playing tag for hours on end? That spirit still lives. You just need to wake it up. Maybe with a high-energy hula hoop workout or Shaun T’s “Hip Hop Abs,” done in the privacy of your own home. Or by walking your dog while listening to a Dan Brown thriller. Instead of embarking on yet another diet, why not try to lose roughly 1 pound a week by creating a modest 500-calorie deficit each day. That’s easily accomplished by slashing about 250 calories from your diet (the equivalent of five Oreos) and burning about 250 calories through exercise, such as a brisk two-to-three-mile walk. You can do that easy.
  • Hope for hearing: Cochlear implants – Cochlear implants are electronic hearing devices for people with profound deafness or severe hearing loss who get no benefit from a hearing aid. There is an external part that is worn behind the ear with a microphone that picks up sounds from the environment, a speech processor and a transmitter that gets signals from the processor and turns them into electric impulses. It is attached to a receiver and electrode system which is surgically implanted into the inner ear. It’s typically done as an outpatient procedure.An implant does not restore normal hearing and is very different from a hearing aid. Hearing aids amplify sound so that damaged ears can hear them. Implants bypass the damage and directly stimulate the auditory nerve which then sends the signals to the brain.
  • Medicare Cuts Loom Large as ‘Cliff’ Nears – It’s looking less and less likely that Congress and the White House will strike a deal to keep the country from falling over the “fiscal cliff” next week, so physicians are preparing for a 28.5 percent cut in Medicare payments that will take effect on Jan. 1.That figure includes a 26.5 percent cut under Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) reimbursement formula and a 2 percent cut mandated by the Budget Control Act, the piece of legislation that outlined the tax increases and spending cuts that define the fiscal cliff.
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GMO Tomato

Yes, according to a new study.

For the first time, genetically engineered tomato plants produced a peptide that mimics the actions of good cholesterol when eaten, researchers reported at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012.

In the study, mice that ate the freeze-dried, ground tomatoes had less inflammation and reduced atherosclerosis External link (plaque build-up in the arteries).

“We have found a new and practical way to make a peptide that acts like the main protein in good cholesterol, but is many times more effective and can be delivered by eating the plant,” said Alan M. Fogelman, M.D., senior author of the study and executive chair of the Department of Medicine and director of the Atherosclerosis Research Unit in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Researchers genetically engineered the tomatoes to produce 6F, a small peptide that mimics the action of ApoA-1, the chief protein in high density lipoprotein External link (HDL or “good” cholesterol). They fed the tomatoes to mice that lack the ability to remove low density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol) from their blood and readily develop inflammation and atherosclerosis when consuming a high-fat diet.

After the mice ate the tomatoes as 2.2 percent of their Western-style high-fat, calorie-packed diet, those given the peptide-enhanced tomatoes had significantly:

  • lower blood levels of inflammation;
  • higher paraoxonase activity, an anti-oxidant enzyme associated with good cholesterol and related to a lower risk of heart disease;
  • higher levels of good cholesterol;
  • decreased lysophosphatidic acid, a tumor promoter that accelerates plaque build-up in arteries in animal models; and
  • less atherosclerotic plaque.

Great news and with voters deciding California Proposition 37 (GMO food labeling initiative), it paints a more positive light on the idea of science improving the foods that we eat.

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Yes, according to a new study.

Bananas have long been a favorite source of energy for endurance and recreational athletes. Bananas are a rich source of potassium and other nutrients, and are easy for cyclists, runners or hikers to carry.

Research conducted at Appalachian State University’s Human Performance Lab in the Kannapolis-based North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) has revealed additional benefits.

“We wanted to see which was more beneficial when consumed during intense cycling — bananas or a carbohydrate sports drink,” said Dr. David C. Nieman, director of the human performance lab and a member of the College of Health Sciences faculty at Appalachian.

“We found that not only was performance the same whether bananas or sports drinks were consumed, there were several advantages to consuming bananas,” he said.

The bananas provided the cyclists with antioxidants not found in sports drinks as well as a greater nutritional boost, including fiber, potassium and Vitamin B6, the study showed. In addition, bananas have a healthier blend of sugars than sports drinks.

I know by running friend, Mary, always carries her banana on a weekly long run. She likes it and says it is easy on her stomach.

Around 100 calories or so, a banana is certainly just as good nutritionally and better tasting than a heavily sugar-laden running gel. But, I don’t know if your digestive system would like to break down the bulk during a very long run, such as a marathon though.

I would think for any run less than 10 miles or so, you should be fine.

I will give it a try and let you know.

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Common energy drinks

According to a new study in General Dentistry.

A recent study published in the May/June 2012 issue of General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, found that an alarming increase in the consumption of sports and energy drinks, especially among adolescents, is causing irreversible damage to teeth — specifically, the high acidity levels in the drinks erode tooth enamel, the glossy outer layer of the tooth.

“Young adults consume these drinks assuming that they will improve their sports performance and energy levels and that they are ‘better’ for them than soda,” says Poonam Jain, BDS, MS, MPH, lead author of the study. “Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid.”

Remember sugar is metabolized by oral bacteria to produce what?

That is right, acid.

And, so these drinks have sugar and a lot of ACID.

The researchers found that damage to enamel was evident after only five days of exposure to sports or energy drinks, although energy drinks showed a significantly greater potential to damage teeth than sports drinks. In fact, the authors found that energy drinks caused twice as much damage to teeth as sports drinks.

With a reported 30 to 50 percent of U.S. teens consuming energy drinks, and as many as 62 percent consuming at least one sports drink per day, it is important to educate parents and young adults about the downside of these drinks. Damage caused to tooth enamel is irreversible, and without the protection of enamel, teeth become overly sensitive, prone to cavities, and more likely to decay.

You have to consume these drinks moderately, and rinse your mouth with water and/or chew some sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva flow. The increased saliva helps flush the acid away from the teeth.

Also, after consuming these drinks, wait an hour before brushing your teeth (you don;t want to smear the acid directly into the teeth) – but do brush them later.

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