Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Gene-Environment Interactions Simplified

Gene-Environment Interactions Simplified.

From  Failure to Listen -Gene-Environment Interactions Simplified, January 26, 2013

I have many theories on how to empower communities but understanding the genetic-environmental interplay is key. Frameworks that simplify these complex interactions can have a powerful impact in explaining the pivotal role of early childhood development and education in building healthy foundations.

The first five years are the most important, those are the years when important brain circuits  develop (like roots from a tree) or some  circuits remain dormant or die. Although the ability to learn continues way into “old age;” the stronger the circuits developed the more pertinent they become in guiding our behavior. These are the years we develop the foundation on which we build our identities.

The formative years begin at birth as our bodies grow and our brain develop. This is the time to make the greatest impact; ‘Pay now or pay a lot more later!’

For us to survive as a country or a society, children need to become the center of our policies. We need to bring back communities by sharing a common vision, and pooling our resources to help those in the community.

The individualistic thinking of me and my accomplishments ignores that we live in a connected world not a vacuum. We are responsible for each other’s accomplishments and faults. There is a larger collective sense that we are all part of and we should tap into more often.

Here is an example of Gene and Environment Simplified:

Society composed of many smaller communities, which are dynamic with each member belonging to many communities, moving in and out of a variety of communities.

The landscape surrounding my house is very similar to society. Individual sections represent communities and each group of plants represent neighborhoods where each plant reflects race, culture and our unique characteristic. There are obvious differences between plants and humans but early preventive interventions are most cost-effective for both….

March 22, 2013 Posted by | environmental health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stateline – New York enacts pioneering law linking all seriously ill patients to palliative care.

Stateline – New York enacts pioneering law linking all seriously ill patients to palliative care..

From the 4 March 2013 article

NEW YORK – The palliative care team at Mount Sinai Hospital gathers on a Thursday morning to exchange the latest information on the patients in their ward. It is a raw, unforgiving day outside, but the weather, the news, most everything beyond these walls are concerns that patients on this ward do not have the luxury to worry about. Theirs is a shrunken world measured in degrees of pain, blood pressure, heart rate, and a set of poor options – none of which any healthy person would welcome.

The simplest definition for palliative care is that it is treatment designed to reduce the pain, discomfort and stress associated with a serious disease. But it also entails eliciting from patients and families in dire circumstances their priorities and wishes to make sure the treatment conforms to those desires.

New York State felt so strongly about the importance of palliative care that last year it enacted pioneering legislation to make certain all those with advanced illnesses had access to this sort of treatment. Now other states are considering following New York’s lead.

Around the oval conference table sit two palliative care doctors, three palliative care nurses, a social worker, an art therapist and a chaplain, who, in this case, is a rabbi. Other nurses enter the room one-by-one to give updates on the patients they are tending to.

The unit is much quieter than most acute-care wards, with far less clattering and beeping medical machinery in order to keep the unit as serene as possible. Occupying one of the 13 beds in the unit today is a 28-year old Brooklyn man with liver failure. Death is imminent, one of the doctors, Stephen Berns, says. Days if not hours. Although the man’s pain can be addressed, his elderly grandparents worry that he will die before their parish priest arrives to perform a baptism. The rabbi, Edie Meyerson, tells the group that she has researched the issue and learned that any Christian can perform a baptism, if it should come to that.

A few doors down lies a 77-year old woman, a one-time deputy superintendent in the state’s corrections system. Her breast cancer has metastasized throughout her body and now all her organs are blinking off. Her closest relatives — two cousins and a niece, the latter her health proxy, have asked that she be removed from the ventilator that appears to be all that is keeping her alive. “We know this is not what she would want,” her cousin says later that day. “She would not want to be on all these machines.”

Then there is a 48-year old man from Puerto Rico with an inoperable tumor in his throat. His face is swollen to such an extent that he can’t open his eyes and his lips have ballooned into protuberances. He has found that even with painkillers, the only tolerable position is to sit cross-legged on his bed, leaning forward with his head cushioned on a pile of pillows. The team wants to start him on steroids to reduce the swelling, but the patient is already hinting that he has had enough.

Advanced Life Limiting Conditions

Not Enough Doctors
  • One palliative care doctor for every 1,300 patients with a serious illness in the U.S.
  • One oncologist for every 145 patients with a new cancer diagnosis
  • One cardiologist for every 71 heart attack victims
  • The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Workforce Task Force estimates that there is shortage of as many as 18,000 palliative care doctors in the U.S.
Source: Center to Advance Palliative Care.

The cast of characters on the ward today is not atypical. Statistically, most patients on the ward will die here; a minority will improve enough to enable them to depart, usually to their homes, a nursing home or other health care facility. For all of them, the goal of the staff is to provide care that best accords with their wishes, whether that be an end to life-prolonging efforts, relief from the symptoms that are afflicting them, or some combination of the two.

The New York law passed last year ensures that everyone in the state with “advanced life limiting conditions or illnesses who might benefit from palliative care” not only be informed of these services by their healthcare provider but that the provider facilitate access to that care if they desire it. Violations are subject to fines of up to $10,000 and a prison term of up to a year. (According to the state health department, no one has yet been charged or prosecuted under the law.)

“That was a major step,” says Amber Jones, a consultant on palliative care in New York. “It shone a light on the need patients and families have for information.”

This year, legislatures in several other states are considering their own palliative care legislation at least partly modeled after the New York law. Those states include Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, Arkansas and Michigan.

Even as legislation advances, there remains widespread confusion about what palliative care is. “There is a misunderstanding among the public that palliative care means end of life care,” says Jay Horton, director of the Palliative Care Consult Service at the Lilian and Benjamin Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute at Mount Sinai. “Many clinicians have the same view.” But the view is not accurate.

Palliative care provides an added layer of support for seriously ill persons and their families.  It is delivered alongside all other disease treatments, in an effort to ease the suffering caused by both the disease and its treatment. Palliative care is always part of the treatment for someone in hospice care, that is, someone with a short prognosis who wants to forego further disease intervention.

But palliative care is also appropriate for many others with serious or chronic illnesses, such as leukemia, lymphoma (which is cured in a significant number of patients), heart failure, emphysema, renal failure, and dementia (with which people can live for years.)  One common misconception about palliative care is that it is mutually exclusive with treatment for the underlying disease, that it only comes into play when all hope of cure is gone. That is not the case. “Just because you are undergoing palliative care doesn’t mean you are giving up on other treatment,” Horton says.

Discussing Options

Practitioners are quick to point out that palliative care, as it is practiced today, entails far more than the relieving of symptoms….

 

March 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | | Leave a comment

Allergy Notes: Immunology in the Gut Mucosa – beautiful animation by the journal Nature

Allergy Notes: Immunology in the Gut Mucosa – beautiful animation by the journal Nature.

From the blog item

The gut mucosa is the largest and most dynamic immunological environment of the body. It hosts the body’s largest population of immune cells. It is often the first point of pathogen exposure and many microbes use it as a beachhead into the rest of the body.

The gut immune system therefore needs to be ready to respond to pathogens but at the same time it is constantly exposed to innocuous environmental antigens, food particles and commensal microflora which need to be tolerated.

Misdirected immune responses to harmless antigens are the underlying cause of food allergies and debilitating conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease. This animation introduces the key cells and molecular players involved in gut immunohomeostasis and disease.

Nature Immunology in collaboration with Arkitek Studios have produced an animation unraveling the complexities of mucosal immunology in health and disease:


T helper cells (click to enlarge the image).

Comments from Twitter:

FoodAllergySupport @FASupport: More fun than Magic School Bus!

 

March 22, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (Elementary School/High School), Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The WomanStats Project and Database

The WomanStats Project and Database

From the Web site

The WomanStats Project is the most comprehensive compilation of information on the status of women in the world. The Project facilitates understanding the linkage between the situation of women and the security of nation-states. We comb the extant literature and conduct expert interviews to find qualitative and quantitative information on over 310 indicators of women’s status in 174 countries. Our Databaseexpands daily, and access to it is free of charge.

The Project began in 2001, and today includes six principal investigators at five universities, as well as a team of up to twenty graduate and undergraduate data extractors. Please learn more by clicking First Time Users and watching our Video Tutorials. Or visit our Blog, where we discuss what we are finding, view our Maps, or read our Researchreports.

First Time Users

Welcome to the WomanStats Database, the world’s most comprehensive compilation of information on the status of women.

The best way to acquaint yourself with the database and how to use it is to watch our Video Tutorials for beginners. The first video tutorial explains how to create a free account. The second teaches how to use the codebook and retrieve data from the View screen. The third covers reports, downloads, and maps. The fourth introduces you to other aspects of our web presence, such as our blog and social media.

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 3.51.19 PM

March 22, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, environmental health, health AND statistics, Health Statistics, Public Health | , | Leave a comment

The Bizarre Dental Trivia Quiz

Million Ideas

Trivia is awesome, especially when the questions are “a little out there.” Today’s trivia quiz is based on ridiculous dental facts. If you answer all of these correctly,  you’re a dental genius!

1) In what setting was the first commercial toothbrush (similar to what we use today) invented?

toothbrush-537x438a) Laboratory

b) Prison

c) Kitchen

d) Zoo

 

2) What is the number one cause of tooth loss in people under the age of 35?

tooth-loss-300x300a) Periodontal disease

b) Eating a diet high in sugar

c) Gum disease

d) Accidents

 

3) In what year did the first electric toothbrush appear?

vitalitdual34a) 1921

b) 1938

c) 1956

d) 1972

 

4)  Which of these foods or drink have antibacterial qualities that help prevent tooth decay?

approved-food-pica) Green Tea

b) Coffee

c) Broccoli

d) Lemons

 

5) 100 years ago, about how many adults in North America were completely toothless?

false-teetha) 30%

b) 40%

c) 50%

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

Some Good News?

FOOD, FACTS and FADS

At last, some progress may be occurring when it comes to calories in restaurant foods.  If it catches on and continues (and it might due to some new regulations from the government) we just might see some help occurring with the obesity epidemic.

Also, reducing portion sizes is even more good news.  When compared to the 1970’s, it’s astounding how many portion sizes have increased since then.  I can remember a box of popcorn at the movies, but now it’s a bucket, for example. A previous post compares portion sizes in France versus the U.S. which I found to be very interesting.  Check it out.

Plates, bowls, and cup sizes have increased too.  A dinner plate (standard) increased from 10 inches to 12 inches, for example.  When people were given larger bowls and spoons they served themselves larger amounts of food (in this case ice cream) and often consumed the…

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Contagion of violence

Public Health--Research & Library News

ContagionThe National Academies Press has published a book, Contagion of Violence:  A Workshop Summary, based on a 2012 workshop.

The past 25 years have seen a major paradigm shift in the field of violence prevention, from the assumption that violence is inevitable to the recognition that violence is preventable. Part of this shift has occurred in thinking about why violence occurs, and where intervention points might lie. In exploring the occurrence of violence, researchers have recognized the tendency for violent acts to cluster, to spread from place to place, and to mutate from one type to another. Furthermore, violent acts are often preceded or followed by other violent acts.

In the field of public health, such a process has also been seen in the infectious disease model, in which an agent or vector initiates a specific biological pathway leading to symptoms of disease and infectivity. The agent transmits from individual to…

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

The Real Price of Quinoa?

 

March 22, 2013 Posted by | environmental health, Nutrition | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alcohol and sunburns: A tragicomedy

Public Health--Research & Library News

MTSG_W13It’s time to head on over to Mind the Science Gap, the blog written by School of Public Health students.  One of this week’s entries is Alcohol And Sunburns: A Tragicomedy.  As always, read, enjoy, and comment!

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Solve the outbreak!

Public Health--Research & Library News

CDC_SolveappDo you want to be a disease detective?  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released a new app, Solve the Outbreak.

New outbreaks happen every day and CDC’s disease detectives are on the front lines, working 24/7 to save lives and protect people. When a new outbreak happens, disease detectives are sent in to figure out how outbreaks are started, before they can spread.  with this new, free app for the iPad, you can play the role of an Epidemic Intelligence Service agent. Find clues about outbreaks and make tough decisions about what to do next: Do you quarantine the village? Talk to people who are sick? Ask for more lab results?

With fictional outbreaks based on real-life cases, you’ll have to puzzle through the evidence to earn points for each clue. The better your answers, the higher your score – and the more quickly you’ll save lives…

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Something Fishy

FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Genetically modified food labeling is not the only labeling issue in the food supply.  Now we have another problem.

How can you be sure that grouper or tuna  you bought yesterday was really what it was promised to be?  According to the labs at Oceana.org  you can’t really trust the labeling of many common types of fish.  And so far, there’s appears to be nothing we can do about it unless the consumer complains enough.  Sushi lovers, beware – sushi is one of the most misrepresented of all. And while we’re discussing fish, insist on country of origin labeling, too.

CLICK HERE.

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | environmental health, Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

Evidence based content for medical articles on Wikipedia?

ScienceRoll

I would love to get your feedback on a project I just came across on Wikipedia, the WikiProject Medicine/Evidence based content for medical articles on Wikipedia. The organizer of the project is the same as in Cochrane Students’ Journal Club. Please sign up if you are interested in helping us out.

Wikipedia has been accepted world wide as a source of information by both lay people and experts. Its community driven approach has ensured that the information presented caters to a wide variety of people. An article from 2011 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that a significant number of experts and doctors consult Wikipedia’s medicine related topics.

Medical information is very dynamic and conclusions and recommendations are turned on their heads based on new findings. Taking this into account it is important to ensure that Evidence Based content is a part of any medicine related…

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (Elementary School/High School), Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Librarian Resources | , , , , , | Leave a comment

IBM Watson in a Clinical Setting: Replacing Physicians?

ScienceRoll

I’m a geek and you know how much I support the inclusion of digital technologies in medicine, healthcare and medical education. At the same time, I always highlight the fact that doctors will be needed for practicing medicine, robots cannot do their job. I know Vinod Khosla thinks otherwise.

Now, after watching the video demonstration of how Watson could help a clinician, I have doubts about a future. We will see how it gets integrated in everyday medicine. I support the IBM Watson project very much, but I hope medical professionals, humans, will always play the major role in the practice of medicine.

See also the Medgadget report.

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Only in America?

 

 

FOOD, FACTS and FADS

It appears that many of the major food companies have a double standard – one for exports and one for us.  They seem to think that Americans do not deserve the better quality products with less additives and chemicals sold to our European neighbors.

Is this one unbelievable?????  I would like to know why, wouldn’t you?  Maybe it’s time for us, the consumers, to inquire about this.  They only listen to consumer demands, if at all

CLICK HERE.

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment

Environmental health news from the CDC – Food and water safety

 

 

Public Health--Research & Library News

EHS-Net Restaurant Food Safety Studies: What Have We Learned? – Laura Green Brown discusses the latest Environmental Health Specialists Network findings in restaurant food safety. This article is published in the March 2013 issue of the Journal of Environmental Health.

Restaurant Food Cooling Practices – EHS-Net article includes quantitative data on restaurants’ food cooling processes and practices such as whether cooling processes are tested and proven to be safe; temperature monitoring practices; refrigeration cooling practices, and cooling food temperatures.

EHS-Net Water Safety Projects – EHS-Net water safety projects include developing multisite projects with our funded partners. EHS-Net’s current multisite project looks at the seasonality of noncommunity water systems to understand how they provide safe drinking water and about vulnerabilities of those systems. Learn about EHS-Net partners’ individual projects to improve the practice of environmental health.

Read more about the Environmental Health Specialists Network in EHS-Net: Improving Restaurant Food Safety…

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | environmental health, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Internet search data and unreported side effects of drugs

Public Health--Research & Library News

A very interesting use of crowdsourcing for medical research.

Using data drawn from queries entered into Google, Microsoft and Yahoo search engines, scientists at Microsoft, Stanford and Columbia University have for the first time been able to detect evidence of unreported prescription drug side effects before they were found by the Food and Drug Administration’s warning system.

Using automated software tools to examine queries by six million Internet users taken from Web search logs in 2010, the researchers looked for searches relating to an antidepressant, paroxetine, and a cholesterol lowering drug, pravastatin. They were able to find evidence that the combination of the two drugs caused high blood sugar.

The study, which was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association [White, R.W. et al. Web-scale pharmacovigilance: listening to signals from the crowd. J Am Med Inform Assoc doi:10.1136/amiajnl-2012-001482] on Wednesday, is based on data-mining techniques similar to those…

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Curb Your Appetite

FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Here’s some good advice on how to keep from getting hungry throughout the day with the subsequent overeating that may follow.  Ironically, some of our breakfast staples are loaded with carbs and without adequate protein may add to later day hunger.

CLICK HERE.

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

Why is Hospice Still A Tough Call–Even for People Who Know?

As Our Parents Age

When a person is approaching the end of life, we can find no easy answers, no solution that fits every person’s or family’s situation, even when they know a lot about the options available to them.

To illustrate this you will want to read For Hospice Pioneer, Still a Tough Call, by Paula Span at the New York Times New Old Age Blog. She describes the end-of-life period for Paul Brenner, age 73, who spend years organizing and leading hospice organizations around the country. Despite all of this experience, it was still challenging for Mr. Brenner and for his family to engage with hospice.

Over and over I hear from friends and acquaintances how a loved one uses hospice for the last several days or perhaps a week at the end of life, and I am sometimes puzzled about how difficult it seems to be to decide to…

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

The Online Blues—Is There A Relationship Between Social Media And Mental Well-Being?

Anxious

Unsettled

Disheartened

Irritable

Stressed

Frustrated

Drained

We all experience the above states from time to time as a result of our work environments. I know I did, which prompted a midlife career shift from clinical to nonclinical medicine.

So imagine my surprise to feel these emotions resurface during my year of playing hooky to write.

WHAT GIVES?

Recently, after an irritable self-pity party summoned Mr. Nasty Pants, my dreaded personality imp, I tugged at the stripes on his pants and said, “What the crap? I’ve spent my day glued to a laptop yet have little product to show for my efforts.”

Mr. Nasty Pants

My personality imp, Mr. Nasty Pants

My impish nemesis danced his evil two-step and laughed. “Oh, what’s de matter. Is wittle, baby Carrie’s plan not going her way?”

I sighed, closed my laptop, and assumed a supine position on the floor, hoping to soothe the twisted knot in my back. Then I accessed my left brain for analysis. What exactly was going on here?

  • Was it the writing process itself? My neurons fired a quick no in response.
  • Was it guilt over playing hooky from medicine? Eh, maybe a little, but not completely.
  • Was it the fact that my writing progress did not match my timeline? Bingo.

Okay, so if that was the source of my angst, what was the root?

At this point, Mr. Nasty Pants leaped onto my stomach and resumed his jig. “Twiddle dee, twiddle dum, you spend too much time online, my stupid chum.”

Hmm, my fashion-challenged demon might have a point.

ENTER PUBMED

Naturally, my first impulse was research. Are there studies to suggest too much online media is associated with psychological distress?

The concept makes sense; it doesn’t take millions of funding dollars to see that. Plus, I’ve read reams of pediatric literature discussing social media’s harmful effects on kids. But what about adults?

Show me the studies, man.

Here’s some of what I found:

  1. Media Multitasking is Associated with Symptoms of Depression and Social Anxiety: Given the title says it all, I see no reason to elaborate.
  2. Internet-Related Psychosis−A Sign of the Times: Well, now, that doesn’t sound good. In this study, too much social media involving ‘hyperpersonal’ relationships with strangers resulted in negative feelings. And delusions. (That’s the psychosis part, folks). For more information on this pleasant thought, see the aptly named article Can Facebook Drive You Crazy – Literally?
  3. Study: People Who Are Constantly Online Can Develop Mental Disorders (Abstract here): Um, yeah…again, pretty self-explanatory. But in addition to depression, this study also found sleep disorders and poor ergonomics (improper body positioning). One of the main culprits is that in an online world that’s 24/7, people never feel free. Furthermore, if they neglect their social media, feelings of guilt surface.

Kind of like when you don’t get to everyone’s blog posts, right?

NOW WHAT?

So what’s a bloke to do? Especially if said bloke uses social media not only for interaction but also as a marketing tool.

One needn’t be a genius to answer that. As Mr. Nasty Pants would say, jumping off each of our heads in gleeful spitefulness, “Turn off the endless black holes.”

But we know it’s not that easy. We want and need to maintain the interaction. But we also need to get work done and meet our personal deadlines. Finding that balance is the ever-elusive golden goose, is it not?

For my own self, I know I need to cut back. I only post once a week, and as such, perhaps I’ll only be able to visit other blogs once a week. And less Twitter. And Facebook. And forums. And…

When I have the answers, I’ll let you know…

What about you? Do you ever get the online blues? Are you able to cut back without guilt? 

All images from Microsoft Clip Art

Like this:

March 22, 2013 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , | 1 Comment

Google Glass, iWatch and IBM Watson Revolutionizing The Practice of Medicine

ScienceRoll

People have been thinking about the potential ways Google Glass could be used in medicine and healthcare. Even though it will probably be bad for your eyes, early testers seemed to love using it and didn’t feel it would distract them from anything. A few examples how it could be used in the future:

  • Displaying the patient’s electronic medical records real-time.
  • Assisting the doctor in making the diagnosis with evidence-based and relevant information from the medical literature.
  • Recording every operation and procedure from the doctors perspective. Every movement of doctors will be archived and screened for potential mistakes. (I know it’s harsh.)
  • Based on the lab tests of the patient, it will give an estimated prognosis and suggest next steps in the treatment.
  • Live consultations with colleagues as they will be able to see what I see live.
  • It will guide users through all the steps during an emergency…

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | health care | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sugar can be hidden in a lot of processed food products that make health claims.  Yogurt is one of them.

When I see the yogurt aisle in the supermarket, I am amazed at all the different types available now.  This slideshow gives us some guidance on the various types to choose.  Here’s where label reading is a necessity.  Some people think that yogurt is healthy and most are, but notice the grams of sugar (some can be quite high) and the grams of protein (which often differ considerably).

This is a start on some different choices if you want to choose yogurt as a dairy alternative protein source.

CLICK HERE.

 

FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Sugar can be hidden in a lot of processed food products that make health claims.  Yogurt is one of them.

When I see the yogurt aisle in the supermarket, I am amazed at all the different types available now.  This slideshow gives us some guidance on the various types to choose.  Here’s where label reading is a necessity.  Some people think that yogurt is healthy and most are, but notice the grams of sugar (some can be quite high) and the grams of protein (which often differ considerably).

This is a start on some different choices if you want to choose yogurt as a dairy alternative protein source.

CLICK HERE.

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Vitamin D Fraud: Lack of Truth in Labeling

Vitamin Packaging

Vitamin Packaging (Photo credit: colindunn)

 

From the 14 March post at Mind the Science Gap

 

….All told, the vitamin D content of “off-the-shelf” and compounded vitamins was highly variable

 

                            “ . . . potency ranged from 9% to 146%.”…

 

…. Why aren’t dietary supplements regulated like drugs or food additives?

 

….

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 22, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

[Yoga’s] Downward Dog to Decrease Inflammation

From the 20 March 2013 post at Mind the Science Gap

Doing yoga is way more than just an excuse to buy expensive leggings. Aside from improving fitness and flexibility, yoga has been used to treat many ailments including depression, arthritis, anxiety, asthma, type II diabetes, fatigue, chronic pain, IBS, and sleep disruptions. Recent research suggests that hatha yoga can also play a role in reducing risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. So how might twisting yourself into a pretzel lower your risk for two prominent chronic diseases?

Systemic Inflammation: the silent risk factor

You are probably familiar with acute inflammation if you have ever had an infection or sprained ankle. Swelling and pain are an effective way for our bodies to let us know that something is wrong. Chronic systemic inflammation, however, is not so apparent. It can persist undetected at a low level for years as it slowly damages body tissue while elevating risk for type II diabetes, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and age-related diseases.

Systemic inflammation is mediated by numerous chemicals inside the body. Two such chemicals are Leptin and adiponectin. These hormones are made in the adipose tissue and have recently been recognized to have a ….

Yoga’s Effect on Inflammation

In 2012, Kiecolt-Glaser et. al. present in their paper Adiponectin, leptin, and yoga practice that “expert” hatha yoga practitioners have significantly different levels of leptin and adiponectin when compared to “novice” practitioners.  Specifically, experts are shown to have 28% higher blood level adiponectin and a leptin concentration 26% lower than that of novices. Furthermore, the experts’ average adiponectin to leptin ratios were nearly twice that of the novices. Given that leptin and adiponectin are correlated with C-reactive protein, a potent marker of inflammation, this means that those who do more yoga seem to have lower systemic inflammation….

2008 study by the Yoga Journal found that 6.9% of U.S. adults, or 15.8 million people, practice yoga and that 4.1% of non-practitioners, or about 9.4 million people, say they are hoping to try yoga within the next year. On this scale, if regular yoga practice can reduce systemic inflammation in healthy adult women, this is definitely an area worth further research!

References:

Kiecolt-Glaser J, Christian L, Andridge R, Seulk Hwang B, Malarkey W, Belury M, Emery C, and R Glaser. Adiponectin, leptin, and yoga practice. Physiology & Behavior 107 (2012) 809–813. 

 

March 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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