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“B” Smart for Brain Health

“B” Smart for Brain Health</p> <p>: Newswire - Logo
By Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD
Older adults with symptoms of depression may benefit from a folic acid and vitamin B12 supplement
From misplaced car keys to the forgotten name of a new acquaintance, “senior moments” affect all of us from time to time. Fortunately, there may be something we can do to sharpen our brains as we age. Even better, this small action—making sure we get enough of certain B vitamins—may be particularly helpful for those affected by depression, a condition that can negatively affect brain performance.

Boosting the brain

To study how folic acid and vitamin B12 affect brain function, researchers randomly selected 909 older adults with symptoms of depression to receive a supplement providing 400 mcg of folic acid and 100 mcg of vitamin B12 or a placebo (no vitamins) pill. Participants completed phone questionnaires and tests to measure their thinking (cognitive) function at the beginning of the study and 12 and 24 months later.

Compared with the group not taking folic acid and vitamin B12, certain measures of thinking function significantly improved in those who received supplements:

  • Overall score on a test of cognitive function.
  • Immediate memory, which is the ability to remember small amounts of information over a few seconds to minutes.
  • Delayed memory, which is the ability to remember events or information after a time delay or from the past.

There were no differences between the groups in other aspects of cognitive function, such as attention and processing speed.

B vitamins and beyond

This study suggests older adults with symptoms of depression may benefit from a folic acid and vitamin B12 supplement, but these vitamins will not work miracles by themselves. In addition to getting your “Bs,” there are many things you can do keep your brain sharp as you age.

  • Seek support. If you feel down, depressed, or unable to enjoy your life, talk to your doctor. It may feel hard to accept help, but depression can be a medical condition, just like diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. You’d accept medical care for these issues, and you should for mental health too.
  • Manage total health. If you have other chronic health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, make sure you’re taking medications as prescribed and following your doctor’s advice about other self-care measures. These conditions not only affect blood flow in the body, they can affect blood flow to your brain. Poor blood flow means poorer brain function.
  • Get social. Having an active social life is associated with better brain function. Feeling part of a group and enjoying common interests improves health, especially as we age.
  • Volunteer. “It’s better to give than to get” is never truer than when it comes to brain health. Volunteering improves both physical and mental health. Find a cause you’re passionate about—walking dogs at the local shelter, serving meals in a soup kitchen, visiting with the homebound—and lend a hand.
  • Move more. If possible, get some physical activity every day. Even 30 minutes of walking is enough to improve brain and body health.

(Am J Clin Nutr 2012; 95:194–203)

Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.

Copyright © 2012 Aisle7. All rights reserved. Aisle7.com

 
 

Olive Oil’s Potentially Positive Heart Health Effects

by Jane Hart, MD
Olive Oil’s Potentially Positive Heart Health Effects : Main Image
Olive oil has become well known as a “healthy” fat when included as part of a balanced and healthy diet
Olive oil, when included in a healthy diet, has been linked to important health benefits, and now a study in Clinical Nutrition suggests that a daily dose of olive oil may be one important dietary option for heart and vascular disease prevention.

Olive oil may reduce heart disease risk factors

Prior studies have suggested that plant chemicals in olive oil, known as polyphenols, may help reduce risk factors for heart disease. This study looked at a particular aspect of that protection: the effect of olive oil on blood fats (lipids).

In this study, 200 healthy men were randomly assigned to three, three-week interventions of 25 ml per day of olive oil with low (2.7 mg per kg), medium (164 mg per kg), or high (336 mg per kg) content of olive oil polyphenols. Blood levels of various markers were measured before and after each intervention.

Results showed that, particularly at the higher amounts of polyphenols, participants who ate a little olive oil each day potentially reduced a toxic form of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, which may lower their risk of heart and vascular disease.

“Our results provide further support to recommend the use of polyphenol-rich olive oil as a source of fat,” said Olga Castaner and colleagues from the Research Institute Hospital del Mar, Barcelona, Spain.

It is important to point out, however, that it is not clear from studies to date whether the endpoint measured in this study is truly predictive of heart disease risk, and further research is needed to understand the role of olive oil in heart and vascular health.

Benefits of olive oil

  • Olive oil has become well known as a “healthy” fat and when included as part of a balanced and healthy diet has been linked to important health benefits including improved cholesterol levels and blood sugar control.
  • Olive oil is a good source of monounsaturated fat, which research suggests is a better dietary option compared with saturated or trans fats, which increase your risk for chronic disease. Too much of any type of fat, however, is not good as oils are high in calories, so olive oil should be used in moderation.
  • When buying olive oil, choose virgin or extra-virgin olive oils, which are unrefined and retain more of the healthful contents.
  • A healthy diet is one important part of preventing heart and vascular disease and choosing healthy fats—such as olive oil—over unhealthy fats may be a step toward better health. Talk with a doctor about what else you can be doing to prevent heart and vascular disease based on your health history.

(Clinical Nutrition 2011;30:490–3)

Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, websites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.
 
 

Try Chia Seeds for Big Nutrition in a Small Package

By Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD

If you’re seeking an easy way to add protein, fiber, healthy fat, and minerals to your diet, look no further than the humble chia seed. The nutritional numbers support their reputation as a healthful addition to the diet. One ounce of chia seeds—about three tablespoons—contains 140 calories, plus:

11 grams of fiber
180 mg of calcium
4 grams of protein
9 grams of fat

With this much fiber and calcium, chia seeds provide more than a third of your daily fiber needs and nearly 20% of your daily calcium needs in a single serving. The 4 grams of hunger-quashing protein add to chia’s nutritional offerings.
Fat is where it’s at

Our bodies do not make omega-3 fats, so we must get them from food. And having more omega-3s in the diet is linked with good health, and with lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. This is where chia seeds come into the picture: more than half of the fat in chia seeds is alpha-linolenic acid, a beneficial, omega-3 fat.
Chewing (or sipping) on chia

You’ll find chia seeds in the bulk section of your natural grocery store, and in the health food section of your regular supermarket. If you’re ready to give chia seeds a try, there’s no shortage of creative ways to work them into your diet. Chia seeds are tasteless, and slip into other foods and beverages easily without altering flavor.

Get soaked. Place a large spoonful of chia seeds into a small glass and cover with water. Let stand for 20 minutes; they will form a gel. Add the chia seed-gel mixture to smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal. It’s okay to soak seeds over night, so they will be ready for breakfast.
Drink up. Toss a spoonful of chia seeds into your water bottle or add them to juice. You won’t taste them and they are so tiny you may not even notice them in the liquid.
Cook. Add chia seeds to soups, stews, and casseroles, as a thickener.
Bake. Process chia seeds in a coffee bean grinder and mix with flour, milk, eggs, mashed banana, and cinnamon to make pancakes. Add chia seeds to the batter or dough when making muffins, bread, or other baked goods.
Surf for ideas. Perform a quick internet search of “chia seed recipes.” You will find hundreds of additional ideas, tips, recipes, and hints for incorporating chia seeds into your food and drinks.
Call your doctor. If you have digestive health issues, such as diverticulitis or inflammatory bowel disease, do not add chia seeds without first talking to your healthcare provider. While these tiny seeds improve digestive health for many, they may not be right for people with existing digestive conditions.

Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.

Copyright © 2012 Aisle7. All rights reserved. http://www.Aisle7.net

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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Chia, Chia Seeds, Diet, Fiber, Nutrition, Omega-3, Protein

 

Bamboo is Amazing

the path of bamboo, revisited #16 (near Tenryuu-ji temple, Kyoto)Photo by:Marser – click picture to link to this great photographer!

Kyoto, Japan

 Bamboo is one of nature’s most valuable gifts to mankind. Its remarkable growth rate and versatile properties have made it one of the most sought after materials, especially in tropical countries.

Because of the destruction of forest land and many other ecological problems, man has been looking for an answer to the heavy usage of timber for paper and other materials. In the ancient product of bamboo, we may have found it, from bamboo paper, to bamboo clothing. Easy to produce and environmentally friendly, bamboo is becoming more and more popular with businesses and consumers alike.

Bamboo has some amazing antibacterial capabilities. It’s antibacterial property is commonly referred to as “bamboo kun”. It is because of this antibacterial, antifungal agent, that bamboo does not require the use of pesticides or herbicides for growth. To put it simply, pests and pathogens do not like bamboo.

The Green School, located in Bali, Indonesia has set a new standard for living off the grid. Please take a few minutes to watch this video and see just one example of how Bamboo is changing our world!

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Did You know….

  • Quick growth- Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet. It grows to full maturity in a matter of months or years, while traditional timber wood takes decades to do so.
  • Reduction of CO2 – Bamboo is shown to absorb more carbon dioxide than other plants, and puts out 35% more oxygen than trees, according to Johnson’s article.
  • Rejuvenates soil – As a plant, bamboo rejuvenates soil because removal of the plant isn’t necessary for successful harvesting. The thick root systems keep the soil in place, and the litter it produces rejuvenates soil that has been damaged by over farming.
  • Grows almost anywhere – One of the best features of bamboo is that it grows almost anywhere that isn’t too cold. Surviving in rain forests as well as deserts, bamboo needs very little water and no pesticides to survive.
  • Heals – Bamboo holds natural healing powers beyond your imagination. Yes, it’s true. Bamboo has long been a medicinal plant used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for over 3,000 years.
 

MyPlate Provides Simple, Sensible Healthy Eating Tips

Healthy Eating Advice
ByKimberly Beauchamp, ND

First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently unveiled the federal government’s newest strategy to help Americans eat better: replacing the confusing and flawed food pyramids of the past with “MyPlate,” a much simpler visual model that helps people keep healthful diet tips in mind.

The plate makes sense

Unlike previous icons, the multicolored MyPlate breaks good nutrition down to these basics:
eat mostly vegetables and fruits,
some lean protein,
whole grains,
and lesser amounts of low-fat dairy, which is shown to the side of the plate.

There’s no place on the new icon for desserts or other snack foods. Instead, these count mostly towards the daily “empty calories” allotment, which includes foods with added sugars and solid fats like butter or shortening.

With empathy to busy parents, and recognizing that they have competing demands that may keep them from feeding their families as well as they would like to, the new icon provides a simple checkpoint. “…We do have time to take a look at our kids’ plates,” says the First Lady. “As long as they’re half full of fruits and vegetables, and paired with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, we’re golden. That’s how easy it is.”

The MyPlate icon will soon hit schools, supermarkets, and restaurants, so we’ll more often see the reminder to fill half of your plate with produce. Instead of worrying about measuring exact portion sizes, you can now eyeball it to see if you’re falling within the new guidelines. This should make it infinitely easier to plan healthy meals and choose what to order when eating out.

The take home

The MyPlate icon is just one part of the plan to help get Americans eating better and tackle the obesity epidemic. A host of interactive information and helpful links are available at ChooseMyPlate.gov. “What we have learned over the years is that consumers are bombarded by so many nutrition messages that it makes it difficult to focus on changes that are necessary to improve their diet,” said Vilsack. “This new campaign will help unify the public and private sectors to coordinate efforts and highlight one desired change for consumers at a time.” Here are some of the key messages that the will be addressed by the MyPlate campaign:
Enjoy your food, but eat less.
Avoid oversized portions.
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
Switch from whole milk to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
Make at least half your grains whole grains.
Compare sodium (salt) in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals, and choose foods with lower numbers.
Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, received her doctoral degree from Bastyr University, the nation’s premier academic institution for science-based natural medicine. She co-founded South County Naturopaths in Wakefield, RI, where she practiced whole family care with an emphasis on nutritional counseling, herbal medicine, detoxification, and food allergy identification and treatment. Her blog, Eat Happy, helps take the drama out of healthy eating with real food recipes and nutrition news that you can use. Dr. Beauchamp is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.

Copyright © 2011 Aisle7. All rights reserved. http://www.Aisle7.net

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2011 in Diet, Healthy Eating, MyPlate

 

Yogurt: The New Heart-Healthy Food?

Yogurt: The New Heart-Healthy Food? : Newswire - Logo
By Maureen Williams, ND
Yogurt: The New Heart-Healthy Food? : Main Image
Eating 100 grams or more per day may play a role in stroke and atherosclerosis prevention
Yogurt that is cultured with gut-friendly bacteria may help you stay well during a course of antibiotics, but what can it do for your heart? A new study found that older women who regularly ate yogurt had less thickening of the carotid arteries’ walls. Thickening of these arterial walls is a sign of atherosclerosis and has been linked to higher risk of stroke and heart attack.

Looking at diet and carotid artery health

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, included 1,080 women over 70. They answered questions about their intake of dairy and other foods and about their health. Three years later, they underwent medical tests including ultrasound measurements of carotid artery wall thickness.

The researchers made the following observations about dairy intake and carotid wall thickness:

  • Women who ate at least 100 grams (almost 4 ounces) of yogurt daily had less carotid artery thickening than women who ate less yogurt.
  • Previous research suggests that the 0.024 ml difference in carotid wall thickness between yogurt eaters and noneaters seen in this study might be associated with a large difference in risk of stroke or heart attack.
  • Other dairy products, such as cheese and milk were not related to carotid wall thickness.

Yogurt eaters have healthier blood vessels

Although this type of study cannot prove that eating yogurt improves arterial or cardiovascular health, it does show a relationship. The study’s authors felt the relationship they observed was strong enough to suggest that eating “100 grams or more per day may play a role in stroke and atherosclerosis prevention.”

Remember, the proven ways to keep artery walls healthy are to eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, stay physically fit, maintain a proper weight, manage stress, and don’t smoke.

Live well with live food

Here are some other good reasons to include yogurt in your regular diet:

  • Keep the digestive tract moving smoothly. Studies show that yogurt with living cultures can help people with diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. It may also be helpful in treating heartburn and peptic ulcer disease.
  • Cancer prevention. Yogurt and other fermented dairy products have been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
  • Cavity prevention. Yogurt-eating has been found to reduce the levels of cavity- and gum disease-causing bacteria in the mouth.
  • Diabetes prevention. Eating low-fat dairy foods like low-fat yogurt is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Boost the immune system. Some studies have found that the bacteria in probiotic yogurt with live active cultures can stimulate immune cells and prevent infections, including the common cold.

(Am J Clin Nutr 2011;94:234–9)

Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice on Cortes Island in British Columbia, Canada, and has done extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.

Copyright © 2011 Aisle7. All rights reserved. http://www.Aisle7.net

 

Staying Safe in the Summer Heat

photo by Brenda Kays
Staying Safe in the Summer Heat: Newswire - Logo
By Maureen Williams, ND

Climatologists expect the trend of sizzling summers to continue, and predict that more people will be at risk for heat-related health problems. A new report in the Lancet examines the effects of various measures to protect individuals and communities from the harmful effects of atmospheric heat.

How the body keeps cool

When the outside temperature rises above the normal core body temperature of 98.6°F (37°C), internal mechanisms for releasing heat kick in, including sweating, more blood pumped by the heart, and more blood flowing to the skin. Poor aerobic fitness; chronic cardiovascular, kidney, or respiratory conditions; and some medications can reduce a body’s ability to adapt to high temperatures and increase the risk of heat exhaustion and life-threatening heatstroke (in which the core body temperature reaches 105°F or 40.6°C). Other risk factors for heat illness identified in the report are confinement to bed, not leaving the home every day, having a psychiatric illness, and being unable to care for oneself.

Sorting facts from myths

The report’s authors looked at many sources of advice for preventing heat-related illness and found that many of the suggested precautions are supported by science but some are not. The best recommendations:

  • Drink more fluids during periods of hot weather. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty.
  • Get used to it. Acclimatization may be the best protection. Healthy people are advised to spend some time exposed to the heat in order to stimulate the body’s adaptive responses. People at high risk of heat-related illness, however, should stay in cool and air-conditioned places.
  • Keep it cool. Wear loose-fitting clothing and take frequent cool showers or baths. These measures allow optimum heat release.
  • Take it easy. Physical activity increases internal heat production, adding to the heat burden in the body. Restrict strenuous tasks to the coolest times of the day.
  • Talk with your doc. People who take prescription medications should talk with their doctor about whether the medications increase their risk of heat illness and how to monitor their status when the weather turns hot.
  • Don’t overdo the alcohol. Even small amounts of high-alcohol spirits can cause dehydration and impair cardiac output and judgment.

The report points out that some common suggestions are not as well supported. For example, using electric fans, while not dangerous, has not been found to be helpful, and moderate consumption of caffeinated drinks and low-alcohol content drinks such as beer, despite their diuretic effects, do not appear to increase the risk of heat-related problems.

Know the signs

Heatstroke can come on very quickly once the body has lost its ability to cope with heat, so pay attention to the signs of heat-related stress:

  • Heavy sweating and paleness
  • Fatigue, muscle cramping, and weakness
  • Dizziness and headache
  • Rapid, weak heartbeat and fast, shallow breathing

These are signs that you need to cool off, so take a rest from physical activity, drink a tall glass of water, and take a cool shower. If you or someone you are with experiences severe symptoms such as intense nausea, vomiting, or fainting, seek emergency medical care.

(Lancet 2010;375:856–63)

Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice on Cortes Island in British Columbia, Canada, and has done extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.

Copyright © 2011 Aisle7. All rights reserved. http://www.Aisle7.net

 
 
 
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