Health Tips

Drink coffee, live longer

Many people rely on big cups of java to power them through the working day. But a coffee habit may have another benefit—reducing your risk of premature death, reports CBSNews.com. In an analysis of three long-term surveys charting the drinking habits of more than 200,000 men and women, scientists found those who drank moderate amounts of coffee—three to five cups a day—were up to 15 percent less likely to die from neurological diseases, type 2 diabetes, and even suicide. The benefits were limited to nonsmokers, but were the same for both decaf and regular coffee drinkers. It’s unclear why coffee seems to reduce the risk of premature death. Scientists suspect that naturally occurring nutrients in coffee beans, such as magnesium and chlorogenic acid, likely play a role, because they have been shown to reduce insulin resistance and systemic inflammation. Caffeine also appears to boost mood and reduce the risk of depression. Whatever the explanation, the study adds weight to previous research showing that moderate consumption of coffee can be beneficial to health. “Associations are not proof of causation,” cautions Alice Lichtenstein, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association. “However, the data on the topic have been very consistent over the years.”

THE WEEK December4, 2015

Greenery boosts kids’ brains

Exposure to nature is good for kids’ brains, a new study has found. During a 12-month study of 2,593 second- through fourth-graders in Barcelona, researchers used satellite images to assess the amount of “green space” around the children’s homes and schools—grassy fields, trees, and plants. They also measured local levels of traffic-related air pollution. Cognitive tests revealed the kids exposed to more green spaces, particularly at school, experienced a 5 percent increase in working memory and a 1 percent drop in inattentiveness, The Washington Post reports. Why? Scientists theorize that trees and shrubbery help absorb air pollution and cut down on noise; natural environments also improve cognitive development by allowing children to make more discoveries and feel a sense of wonder. “I think it’s also some kind of direct effect,” says study author Mark Nieuwenhuijsen. “You see quite a beneficial effect of green space on mental health.”
The Week

Diet soda’s fatty downside

Losing weight by icing

Ice packs have long been used to reduce inflammation. Now scientists believe they could help off set another type of swelling: weight gain. Humans have two distinct types of fatty tissue: white fat, which fuels muscle and causes chubbiness, and brown fat, which helps the body generate heat. But researchers at the University of Kentucky have discovered that when white fat gets very cold, it turns into “beige fat”—which also burns off to generate heat. To see if the body could be made to generate beige fat, the researchers had volunteers hold ice packs against their thighs for 30 minutes, then checked their tissue samples to see what kind of fat was present. As suspected, they found increased levels of beige and brown fat in the areas that had been iced. The study backs up previous research suggesting that people could “shiver themselves slim” in winter. “Browning fat tissue would be an excellent defense against obesity,” co-author Philip Kern tells The Daily Telegraph. “It would result in the body burning extra calories rather than converting them into additional fat tissue.”  The Week Magazine

Scan for impending dementia

Scientists believe they may have found a simple, nonintrusive method for detecting early signs of dementia—before symptoms even start to appear. A team from the University of Geneva enlisted 148 seniors who were showing no signs of cognitive impairment and scanned their brains using an MRI technique known as arterial spin labeling. When the volunteers were checked for mental disintegration 18 months later, those whose original scans showed reduced blood flow to certain parts of the brain—specifically areas associated with Alzheimer’s—were more likely to have developed memory problems. If the results are confirmed, researchers believe the scan, which does not require any dyes or other outside agents to be injected into the brain, could help identify potential dementia sufferers at an earlier stage, allowing for preventive treatments to possibly slow its progress. The scan is “simple to perform,” lead researcher Sven Haller tells The Times (U.K.). “It doesn’t require special equipment and only adds a few minutes to the exam.” The Week Magazine

How exercise keeps depression at bay

It is known that physical exercise has many beneficial effects on health and researchers have now found how exercise shields the brain from stress-induced depression.

Exercise training induces changes in skeletal muscle that can purge the blood of a substance that accumulates during stress, and is harmful to the brain, the study on mice showed.

“Skeletal muscle appears to have a detoxification effect that, when activated, can protect the brain from insults and related mental illness,” said principal investigator Jorge Ruas from Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

It was known that the protein PGC-1I1 (pronounced PGC-1alpha1) increases in skeletal muscle with exercise, and mediates the beneficial muscle conditioning in connection with physical activity.

In this study researchers used a genetically modified mouse with high levels of PGC-1I1 in skeletal muscle that shows many characteristics of well-trained muscles (even without exercising).

After five weeks of mild stress, normal mice had developed depressive behaviour, whereas the genetically modified mice (with well-trained muscle characteristics) had no depressive symptoms.

“Well-trained muscle produces an enzyme that purges the body of harmful substances. So in this context the muscle’s function is reminiscent of that of the kidney or the liver,” Ruas explained.

The researchers discovered that mice with higher levels of PGC-1I1 in muscle also had higher levels of enzymes called KAT.

KATs convert a substance formed during stress (kynurenine) into kynurenic acid, a substance that is not able to pass from the blood to the brain.

The study is forthcoming in the journal Cell.  The Week Magazine

 

Broccoli’s cleansing effect

The health food market is overrun with products claiming to “detoxify” the human body, and much of the time those claims are based on shady science. But new research indicates that eating broccoli may indeed have a detoxifying effect since consuming it appears to help cells expel toxins that are breathed in as air pollution. A study of 291 Chinese adults found that a daily drink of broccoli sprout tea resulted in increased excretion of the chemicals benzene and acrolein in subjects’ urine. Benzene, an air pollutant and known carcinogen, and acrolein, a lung irritant, are both found in car exhaust and cigarette smoke. Study participants who drank the sprout tea excreted 61 percent more benzene and 23 percent more acrolein than participants who drank a placebo. The compounds in broccoli sprouts that help facilitate the detoxifying process are present in mature broccoli, too, as well as in other cruciferous greens such as kale, though in lower concentrations. “This study points to a frugal, simple, and safe means that can be taken by individuals to possibly reduce some of the long-term health risks associated with air pollution” lead researcher Thomas Kensler tells TheAtlantic.com.
The week magazine

Cellphones hinder fertility

My, you have attractive DNA

When it comes to romance, our genes may be real matchmakers. A new study has found that married couples have more DNA in common than random pairs of people, the Los Angeles Times reports. The phenomenon may have important implications for our understanding of mating and evolution, as genes can no longer be assumed to mix randomly. Previous studies have shown that people tend to choose spouses who are similar to themselves in categories like social class, race, body type, and education, collectively known as assortative mating. “But there’s been a question about whether we mate at random with respect to genetics,” says behavioral scientist Benjamin Domingue. The researchers drew on the genetic data of 825 American couples, analyzing their single-nucleotide polymorphisms—points where the DNA sequences of individuals diverge—and found fewer differences between married people than between pairs of randomly selected individuals. But while genetics was a factor, it measured at only about a third of the strength of educational compatibility, suggesting that in matters of the heart, social factors still hold sway.  The Week Magazine

Raising doubts about mammograms

One of the largest and longest-running studies of mammograms ever conducted has determined that the screening tests do not improve a woman’s chances for surviving breast cancer. The findings, which run counter to widespread medical advice that women over 40 should undergo annual mammograms, also found that 20 percent of cancers detected via mammography and treated with often dangerous chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapies actually posed no threat to the women’s health. This study “will make women uncomfortable, and they should be uncomfortable,” University of North Carolina professor of medicine Russell Harris tells The New York Times. “The decision to have a mammogram should not be a slam dunk.” Researchers tracked roughly 90,000 Canadian women between the ages of 40 and 59 for 25 years. Some participants were randomly assigned to have both regular mammograms and breast exams by trained nurses, and others to have breast exams alone; their breast cancer death rates were the same. The study is bound to trigger further debate, since its results are at odds with American Cancer Society data suggesting that mammograms help to reduce the death rate from breast cancer by at least 15 percent for women in their 40s and by at least 20 percent for older women.
The week magazine February 28th, 2014

 

Fish and Prostate Cancer Risk: Fact or Fiction

By William Faloon, Luke Huber, ND, MBA, Kira Schmid, ND, Blake Gossard, Scott Fogle, ND

Several scientific studies have found a reduction in prostate cancer associated with increased omega-3 intake.1-11 A recent report purportedly showed the opposite.12

This report was based on a single blood test of plasma fatty acids in a group of 834 men who were followed up to six years to assess prostate cancer risk (low- and high-grade disease). A smaller group of 75 men was followed up to nine years to assess only high-grade prostate cancer risk.

The results showed that slightly higher omega-3 plasma percentages from this single blood test were associated with a greater risk of low-grade (44%) and high-grade (71%) prostate cancers over the multi-year follow-up.

This report was turned into news stories with headlines blaring “Omega-3 fatty acids may raise prostate cancer risk.

Omitted from the media frenzy was the fact that this study was not about fish oil supplement users. The authors admitted they did not know how the study participants achieved what turned out to be very low omega-3 plasma percentages in all groups.

In fact, omega-3 plasma levels were only about 40% of what would be expected in health conscious people taking the proper dose of fish oil.12 ,13 The insufficient levels of plasma omega-3s in all the study subjects were overlooked by the media. Had these very low plasma levels of omega-3s been recognized, it would have been apparent that this report had no meaning for those who boost their omega-3 consumption through diet and supplements.

Also absent from the reporting was that more men with slightly higher omega-3 plasma levels had confounding risk factors for greater risk of contracting prostate cancer at baseline, such as having higher PSA scores and a positive family history. Although the authors attempted to statistically control (through a statistical model called multivariate analysis) for some of these risk factors in their analysis, the concern remains that the baseline data was confounded and therefore the statistical analysis invalid, and that the reported results are compromised by higher rates of preexisting disease along with a genetic predisposition, not because of the minuscule variance in the amount of their plasma omega-3.

Prostate cancer sharply increases by 120% to 180% in men who have a first-degree relative who had contracted prostate cancer. Nearly double the men who contracted prostate cancer in this study had a positive family history, and although the researchers attempted to statistically control for this confounding factor, this fact was conveniently overlooked by the mainstream media as omega-3s were instead labeled the culprit.

Associating a one-time plasma omega-3 reading with long term prostate cancer risk is ludicrous. That’s because plasma omega-3 changes rapidly with short-term dietary changes. It does not reflect long-term incorporation of omega-3 into cells and tissues. In this report, differences in baseline omega-3 blood measures were so trivial that if a man had just one salmon meal the night before, he could have wound up in the “higher” omega-3 group even if he never ingested another omega-3 again.14

Numerous flaws in this report render its findings useless for those who supplement with purified fish oils and follow healthy dietary patterns. This article represents Life Extension®’s initial rebuttal to this spurious attack on omega-3s that was blown out of proportion by the media.

A prostate diet

One in six men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, and one in 36 will die of it. But a new study shows that a change in diet can help men with prostate cancer live longer. For eight years, researchers tracked the diets of more than 4,500 men who had been diagnosed with localized prostate cancer. They found that those who replaced 10 percent of the calories they typically got from carbohydrates, such as rice, bread, and sugary treats, with vegetable fats, like olive oil, after their diagnosis were 29 percent less likely to have their cancer spread to other parts of the body—and 26 percent less likely to die over the eight years—than those who didn’t change their diets. Eating an extra ounce of nuts every day was linked to an 18 percent reduced risk of their cancer metastasizing. Because obesity has been linked to prostate cancer death, when a man is diagnosed, “a lot of doctors will simply say, ‘Cut out fat,’” to lose weight, Duke University urologist Stephen Freedland tells Reuters.com. But vegetable fat may actually help prevent the cancer from spreading by increasing levels of antioxidants and decreasing inflammation.
The week June 28, 2013


Eating your way to better sleep

  • Seek light carbs. Eating a meal just before bedtime can keep you awake, but certain light snacks can actually aid sleep. Dr. Michael Breus recommends oatmeal with milk about 90 minutes before you turn in: “The milk protein helps you metabolize the oatmeal’s carbs, which raises serotonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.”
  • Have a banana. Bananas can be a go to late night nosh: They’re ” like big, yellow sleeping pills” – loaded with magnesium and potassium, which help relax muscles and encourage deep sleep.
  • Remeber Mom’s advice.   Warm milk sweetened with honey works too. Its not the tryptophan in the milk that does the trick, though; there’s too little of that. “A better scientific explanation” is that the protein, carbs, and touch of fat fill you just enough to prevent your waking hunger.
  • Source:Everyday With Rachael Ray


FEELING ENERGIZED

Energy and good health go hand in hand. The more good things you do for your body the healthier you’ll be and the more energy you’ll have.

Eat the Right Kind of Food. A diet of whole, fresh, organic food is what you should eat for optimal health and energy. Avoid processed and fast food e.g. chips, muffins, cereals, burgers, fries, pop.

Digest Your Food.  Stay Active. A body in motion stays in motion. Find something you like to do, and do it often. Exercise generates energy if the body is well nourished.

Handle Stress. You can’t avoid it, so learn to deal with it. There are natural therapies, supplements, and medicines that can help your body’s ability to handle stress.

Listen to Your Body. If you need to do a cleanse, take a holiday, get more sleep, or spend time laughing, talking, or crying with a loved one-do it!

 

 Good Digestion: Good Health

Adding digestive enzymes is often needed. Enzymes help by causing food to be more fully digested thereby increasing nutrient uptake in the body. There are many helpful enzymes such as those found in Echinacea and Spirulina. Based on your body’s needs, your health care practitioner will recommend the best digestive aid supplements for you to take at meal times.

Keep your body and digestive track sufficiently hydrated by drinking eight to ten cups of clean water each day. Water is one of the most helpful aids to good digestion. Physical exercise each day keeps the whole body in better working order and contributes to better digestion. Natural nutrients that cleanse the intestine are also helpful. These include aloe vera, beta-carotene, senna pod, and acidophilus. By keeping everything moving, fiber prevents toxic build-up in the intestine, which causes those unpleasant symptoms of gas, constipation or indigestion. These symptoms of poor digestion are also indicators of potential problems that can lead to serious illness if ignored over the long-term.