An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure!

Archive for March, 2012

Improve Blood Vessel Function By Losing Belly Fat

Overweight people who shed pounds, particularly abdominal belly fat, can improve the function of their blood vessels.

According to a new study conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers, it doesn’t matter whether people are on a low-carbohydrate or a low-fat diet, losing belly fattranslates into improving blood vessel function and overall heart health. The new study was presented at the American Heart Association scientific meeting in San Diego on March 13 that is focused on cardiovascular disease prevention.

In the six-month weight-loss study, the Hopkins researchers determined that the more belly fat the individual study participants lost, the better their arteries were able to expand when needed, allowing more blood to flow more freely.  Also… The researchers  found that participants in the study who were on a low-carb diet lost about ten pounds more, on average, than those who were on a low-fat diet.

Above the waist… Being overweight increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially if the fat is accumulated in the belly

“After six months, those who were on the low-carb diet lost an average of 28.9 pounds versus 18.7 pounds among those on the low-fat diet,” said chief researcher Kerry J. Stewart, Ed.D., a professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of clinical and research exercise physiology at the Johns Hopkins Heart and Vascular Institute.

 

The research team studied 60 men and women who weighed an average of 215 pounds at the start of the program. Half of the participants went on a low-carb diet while the others followed a low-fat diet. All engaged in moderate exercise and their diets provided a similar amount of calories each day.

In order to evaluate the health of the participants’ blood vessels before and after the weight lossprogram, the researchers conducted a blood flow test by constricting circulation in the upper arm for five minutes with a blood pressure cuff.  With this type of test, when the cuff is released, a healthier artery will expand more, allowing more blood to flow through the artery. The researchers measured how much blood reached the fingertips before, during, and after the constriction of the artery. The test can give an indication of the overall health of the vascular system throughout the body.

 

The researchers found that the more belly fat a person had lost, the greater the blood flow to the finger, signaling better the function of the artery.

“Our study demonstrated that the amount of improvement in the vessels was directly linked to how much central, or belly fat, the individuals lost, regardless of which diet they were on,” they explained. “This is important since there have been concerns that a low-carb diet, which means eating more fat, may have a harmful effect on cardiovascular health. These results showed no harmful effects from the low-carb diet.”

 

In the low-carb diet used in the study, up to 30 percent of calories came from carbs such as bread, pasta and certain fruits, while 40 percent was from fat consumed from meat, dairy products and nuts. In contrast, the low-fat diet consisted of no more than 30 percent of calories from fat and 55 percent from carbs.

Interestingly,  participants on the low-carb diet lost more weight and at a faster pace, on average, which has also been observed in several other studies. The researchers observed eating greater amounts of carbohydrates can slow down the rate of body fat losswhile on a weight reduction diet.

 

The findings were consistent with early results presented in June 2011 at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Denver. That initial report was based on results after participants in the study had lost their first 10 pounds.

 

These longer-term results show that weight loss, along with exercise, is important for improving vascular health. Also, following a low-carb diet rather than the conventionally recommended low-fat diet for weight loss is not a concern in terms of vascular health.

 

Story Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine

American Heart Association meeting in San Diego, CA March 2012

 

Johns Hopkins Medicine (2012, March 13). “Losing belly fat, whether from a low-carb or a low-fat diet, helps improve blood vessel function.”

This article is for informational and educational purposes only;  It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor, physician or healthcare professional.

Magnesium In The Diet May Reduce Risk Of Stroke

New Study Shows Risk for A Common Type Of Stroke Is Lower In People With More Magnesium in Their Diet calcium, magnesium

Appearing in the February Issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

People who eat more foods rich in the mineral magnesium (such as dark, leafy green vegetables, nuts, whole grains) appear to reduce their chances of having a stroke, a new study shows.

 

The link between dietary intake of magnesium and stroke risk was specifically strongest for ischemic stroke, which is when a clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain. Researchers found that the risk for ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke in older people, was reduced by 9% for each additional 100 milligrams of magnesium a person consumed each day.

 

Regularly eating magnesium-rich foods also helped reduce the chances of  having any type of stroke. The study found that for every 100 additional milligrams of magnesium per day, people cut their risk of stroke by 8%.

The best natural sources for the magnesium are whole grain products, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and beans. Foods that supply 100 mg milligrams of magnesium a day include: one ounce of almonds or cashews, one cup of beans or brown rice, three-quarters of a cup of cooked spinach or kale, as well as one cup of cooked oat bran cereal.

For the research, Swedish scientists from the Karolinska Institute reviewed data from  seven previously published studies of magnesium intake and stroke. These studies were done between 1998 and 2011, and included more than 240,000 people.

 

In these studies, people aged 34 and older were followed from eight to 15 years. During  that time, nearly 6,500 people had a stroke. The average magnesium intake of all study participants ranged from 242 milligrams a day up to 471 milligrams daily.

 

In the U.S., the Recommended Dietary Allowance for magnesium is 420 milligrams (mg) per day for men aged 31 and older, and 320 milligrams daily for women in the same age range.

The study appears in the February issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The research showed that people who had higher amounts of magnesium in their diets had a lower risk for stroke. This was true even when the scientists took into account  multiple other factors that may have confounded the results, such as  blood pressure, diabetes, age, smoking, high cholesterol, physical activity, vitamin -mineral supplementation,  other dietary factors, alcohol consumption, and family history of heart disease.

Although it’s still unclear exactly how magnesium reduces stroke risk, the researchers suggest that the benefits of this essential mineral may be related to its ability to lower blood pressure. Diets high in magnesium have also been linked with lower rates of type 2 diabetes, also a risk factor for stroke.

 

Thus, the study researchers recommend…  “Increased consumption of magnesiumrich foods such as green leafy vegetables,  beans, nuts, and whole-grain cereals appears to be prudent,”

 

An editorial on the study also encourages people at high risk for stroke to include more foods rich in magnesium in their diets. And it suggests that it’s time for a large study to test  whether taking magnesium supplements can help prevent stroke and heart disease in  adults at high risk for these health problems.   Source: American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition (published online)

Article “Dietary magnesium intake and risk of stroke; a meta-analysis of prospective studies”

Editorial “Magnesium for cardiovascular health: time for intervention”

This article is for informational and educational purposes only;  It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Consult your doctor orhealthcare professional.

Nutritiona​l Supplement​s Recommende​d For Type 2 Diabetes

Pills vitamin supplements

Pills vitamin supplements (Photo credit: hitthatswitch)

In addition to proper dietary intake, medication prescribed by your doctor, adequate physical activity, certain dietary supplements are beneficial and can help control symptoms of type 2 diabetes.

 

Some people with diabetes regularly take dietary supplements in efforts to improve their blood glucose control, manage the symptoms and reduce the risk of developing serious complications such as heart ailments.

According to the latest research and the nutritional ingredients that have been tested in clinical trials, nutritional healthcare experts are recommending to consider the following supplements for helping manage glucose control…

1)  Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) also known as lipoic acid or thioctic acid, is an antioxidant. It’s a natural nutrititional substance that protects against cell damage. ALA is found in certain foods, such as liver, spinach, broccoli and potatoes.

 

Some people with type 2 diabetes supplement Alpha Lipoic Acid with the objective of improving the body’s ability to use insulin, thus lowering blood glucose levels.

 

ALA is also used as a supplement to prevent or treat diabetic neuropathy (severe nerve disorder; symptoms include: pain, numbness and circulatory problems in the lower limbs).

 

ALA has been researched for its effect on insulin sensitivity, glucose metabolism and  diabetic neuropathy. Some studies have found benefits, but followup research is needed.

Nutritional healthcare experts often recommend taking ALA with L-Carnitine, an amino acid that may also help diabetics better control glucose.

Studies have found that the two substances could have added health benefits when taken together.

 

It is important to note… Alpha Lipoic Acid can potentially lower blood sugar too much, so it is essential for people with diabetes to regularly monitor their blood sugar levels very carefully.

2) Chromium is an essential trace mineral. The body requires small amounts (measured in mcg –  micrograms, not milligrams) of it to perform its key functions properly. Some people with diabetes take Chromium in an effort to improve their blood glucose  control.

Chromium is found in many foods, but usually only in small amounts; Good sources include beef, whole grain products, as well as some fruits, vegetables and spices.

 

As a dietary supplement, it’s available in several forms such as chromium picolinate, chromium chloride and chromium nicotinate.

 

Chromium supplementation has been researched for its effect on glucose control in people with diabetes. Study results have been positive, but.additional research is needed.

 

At the typical low doses (usually ranging from 50mcg to 400 micrograms per day),  Chromium appears to be safe for most adults. But people with diabetes should be aware that this trace mineral might cause blood sugar levels to go too low.

 

High doses can cause serious side effects, including kidney problems, an issue of  particular concern to people with diabetes.

3) Omega-3 Fatty Acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that come from foods such as fish, fish oil, vegetable oil (canola and soybean oil), walnuts and wheat germ.

Omega-3 supplements are available in capsules, primarily as concentrated fish oil. Omega-3s are important in a wide range of bodily functions, including the efficient transport of calcium and other essential nutrients in and out of cells; as well as the relaxation and contraction of muscles, normal blood clotting, digestion, fertility, and cell division and growth.

 

In addition, omega-3s are well-researched for their benefits and ability to help protect against heart disease, reduce inflammation and lowering triglyceride levels.

 

Omega-3 fatty acids have also been researched for their effect on controlling glucose and  reducing heart disease risk, especially in people with type 2 diabetes.

 

Studies show that Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides, but they don’t affect blood glucose control, total cholesterol or HDL (good) cholesterol in people with diabetes.

Additional research, particularly long-term studies that look specifically at heart disease in  people with diabetes, is needed.

 

Omega-3s appear to be safe for most adults at low-to-moderate doses (usually about 1-3 total grams per day).  However, it’s important to be aware that in high doses, fish oil can interact with certain medications, including blood thinners and the prescription drugs used for controlling high blood pressure.

 

4) Specific Antioxidants such as Polyphenols found in tea, dark chocolate and dark-colored fruits and other whole food sources are also being studied for possible effects on vascular health (including blood pressure) and on the body’s ability to properly use insulin.

 

5) Laboratory studies suggest that EGCG, the key polyphenol found in Green Tea, may protect against cardiovascular disease and have beneficial effects on insulin activity and glucose control.

 

No adverse effects of EGCG or green tea were found in these studies and green tea is safe for most adults when used in moderate amounts.

 

However, Green Tea contains caffeine, which can cause insomnia, anxiety or irritability, among other effects in some people. Green teaalso contains small  amounts of vitamin K, which can cause the prescription anti-coagulant drugs (such as Warfarin) to be less effective.

 

6) Other food-derived nutritional supplements such as high-concentrate Garlic have been explored for lowering blood glucose levels, but findings have not been consistent.

 

7) Other studies, including the effects of dietary Magnesium supplementation on blood glucose control have had mixed results, although researchers have found that eating a diet high in Magnesium may lower the risk of diabetes.

 

8) The effectiveness of  Coenzyme Q10 supplementation as an alternative or adjunct therapy for diabetes is also being studied; Although its ability to regulate glucose control have had conflicting findings, Coenzyme Q10 is generally regarded as a “heart-healthy” dietary supplement.

9) Cinnamon is now making headlines because this common spice is regarded as a potential natural treatment in disorders of glucose control and heart disease.    Cinnamon bark is beneficial for glucose control, enabling insulin to work more efficiently. It’s been clinically shown to help decrease the symptoms that commonly accompany elevated blood sugar and its harmful effects.

10) Researchers are also studying whether the herbal root Ginseng and the trace mineral Vanadium might also be valuable in helping control glucose levels.

Some people with type 2 diabetes are also trying herbal and  botanical supplements such as prickly pear cactus,  Gymnema sylvestre (gurmar), Coccinia indica, aloe verafenugreek and bitter melon to help control their glucose levels.

If you have diabetes and are thinking about using dietary supplements, it’s a good idea to discuss a regimen with your health care providers as well as any other complementary and alternative practices you use.

When consulting with your doctor or other healthcare practitioner, be sure to give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. Effective communication will help ensure a beneficial healthcare program that is both safe and properly coordinated.

 

For example…

Prescription medicines for diabetes and other health conditions may need to be adjusted if a patient is also using dietary supplements.

 

Women who are pregnant or nursing, or people who are thinking of including supplements to enhance a child’s dietary intake, should consult their doctor or health care professional.

 

Don’t replace scientifically proven diabetes treatments with alternative treatments that are unproven.The consequences of not following your prescribed medical regimen for diabetes can be very serious.

 

In the United States alone, 23.6 million people have diabetes. And 5.6 million of them don’t even know it. Unfortunately, misinformation about diabetes is rampant. Not understanding or mixing up the facts about this disease can have serious consequences:

  a) Diabetes is a major cause of heart disease and stroke.

    b) Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations  and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States.

    c) Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.

A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that at the  rate the disease is progressing, as many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults will have diabetes by 2050.

 

Source: National Institutes of Health

Adapted from “Diabetes and CAM: A Focus on Dietary Supplements” by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health. (Published January  28, 2012)

 

For your reference and for further information, here are additional resources:

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: provides helpful information on supplements and other alternative treatments, including publications and searches of federal databases of scientific and medical literature.

 

The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse responds to inquiries, offers informative diabetes publications and helps arrange referrals for patients.

Online, visit:  www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/a-z.asp

The National Diabetes Education Program is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with many federal, state and local partners. Its services include providing up-to-date information and publications on diabetes.

 

This  article is for informational and educational purposes only;  It is not  intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your  doctor or healthcare professional.

Omega 3 Fatty Acid (DHA) Is Crucial For Male Fertility Health

Male fertility depends on sperm-cell architecture. A University of Illinois study reports that the specific omega-3 fatty acid (DHA) is necessary to construct the immature sperm cell into a properly-formed “pointy-headed super swimmer” with an extra long tail for effective motility.

“Normal sperm cells contain an arc-like structure called the acrosome that is critical in fertilization because it houses, organizes, and concentrates a variety of enzymes that sperm use to penetrate an egg,” explained Manabu Nakamura, a University of Illinois associate professor of biochemical and molecular nutrition.

The study shows for the first time that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is essential in fusing the building blocks of the acrosome together. “Without DHA, this vital structure doesn’t form and sperm cells don’t work,” said co-researchers conducting the study.

Men concerned about their fertility may want to increase their intake of foods containing DHA. Most often recommended are omega 3-rich fish, such as salmon, mackeral, trout or tuna, known as excellent sources of this omega-3 fatty acid.

The scientists became intrigued with DHAs role in creating healthy sperm when they experimented with laboratory subjects that lack a gene essential to its synthesis. “We looked at sperm count, shape, and motility, and tested the breeding success rate. The male mice that lacked DHA were basically infertile,” they said.

But when DHA was introduced into the subject’s diet, fertility was completely restored. “It was very striking. When we fed theDHA, all these abnormalities were prevented,” they added.

The scientists then used confocal laser scanning (3D) microscopy to look at thin slices of  tissue in progressive stages of a sperm cell’s development. By labeling enzymes with fluorescence, they could track their location in a cell.

“We could see that the acrosome is constructed when small vesicles containing enzymes fuse together in an arc. But that fusion doesn’t happen without DHA,” they emphasized. In the absence of DHA, the vesicles are formed but they don’t come together to make the arch that is so important in sperm cell structure.

The role this omega-3 fatty acid plays in membrane fusion is particularly exciting, according to the researchers. Because DHA is abundant in specific tissues, including the brain and the retina as well as the testes, the scientists believe their research findings could also impact research relating to brain function and vision.

“It’s logical to hypothesize that DHA is involved in vesicle fusion elsewhere in the body, and because the brain contains so much of it, we wonder if deficiencies could play a role, for example, in the development of dementia. Any communication between neurons in the brain involves vesicle fusion,” they noted.

The Illinois research scientists will continue to study sperm; other laboratories are now studying DHA function in the brain and the retina.

Story Source:  University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Journal Reference: “Deficiency in the Omega-3 Fatty Acid Pathway Results in Failure of Acrosome Biogenesis in Mice”  Biology of Reproduction, 2011;

This article is for informational and educational purposes only;  It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment; Consult your doctor or  healthcare professional.

Vitamin D Shrinks Fibroid Tumors In Resaerch Study

Vitamin D!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Vitamin D!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Photo credit: BaileyRaeWeaver)

Treatment with vitamin D reduced the size of uterine fibroid tumors in laboratory subjects predisposed to developing the benign tumors, reported researchers funded by the NIH (National Institutes of Health.)

Uterine fibroids are the most common noncancerous tumors in women of childbearing age. Fibroids grow within and around the wall of the uterus. Thirty percent of women 25 to 44 years of age report fibroid-related symptoms, such as lower back pain, heavy vaginal bleeding or painful menstrual periods.

Uterine fibroids also are associated with infertility and such pregnancy complications as miscarriage or preterm labor. Other than surgical removal of the uterus, there are few treatment options for women experiencing severe fibroid-related symptoms and about 200,000 U.S. women undergo the procedure each year.

A recent analysis by NIH scientists estimated that the economic cost of fibroids to the United States, in terms of health care expenses and lost productivity, may exceed $34 billion a year.

Fibroids are three to four times more common in African-American women than in white women. Moreover, African-American women are roughly 10 times more likely to be deficient in vitamin D than are white women. In previous research, the study authors found that vitamin D inhibited the growth of human fibroid cells in laboratory cultures.

“The study results provide a promising new lead in the search for a non-surgical treatment for fibroids that doesn’t affect fertility,” said research scientists from the Reproductive Sciences Branch of the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which funded the study.

The findings appeared online in the journal “Biology of Reproduction.”

For the study, the researchers tested the vitamin D treatment on a strain of laboratory subjects genetically predisposed to developing fibroid tumors. After examining the subjects and confirming the presence of fibroids in 12 of them, the researchers divided the subjects into two groups of six each: those that would receive vitamin D and those that would not.

In the first group, small pumps implanted under the skin delivered a continuous dose of vitamin D for three weeks. The researchers then examined the subjects in both groups.

Fibroids increased in size in the untreated subjects, but, in the subjects receiving vitamin D, the tumors had shrunk dramatically. On average, uterine fibroids in the group receiving vitamin D were 75 percent smaller than those in the untreated group.

 

The amount of vitamin D the subjects received each day was equivalent to a human dose of roughly 1,400 international units.

The recommended amount of vitamin D for teens and adults age 70 and under is 600 units daily, although up to 4,000 units is considered safe for children over age 9, adults, and for pregnant and breast-feeding females.

“Additional research is needed to confirm vitamin D as a potential treatment for women with uterine fibroids,” said the scientists. “But it is also an essential nutrient for the health of muscle, bone and the immune system, and it is important for everyone to receive an adequate amount of the vitamin.”

Vitamin D is  produced when ultraviolet rays from sunlight reach the skin. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna are the best natural food sources of the vitamin. Supplements are often recommended because very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Fortified milk and other fortified foods are the most common to provide an additional source.

Story Source: NIH / National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Journal Reference: 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 Treatment Shrinks Uterine Leiomyoma Tumors. Biology of Reproduction, 2012;

 

This article is for informational and educational purposes only;  It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Consult your doctor or healthcare professional.

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