The Plain Truth

The Plain Truth
God's Hand Behind the News

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Scientists Figure Out How Alcohol Lowers Blood Sugar


Patrick Totty

Swedish scientists have found that alcohol lowers blood sugar by redirecting blood within the pancreas and sending massive amounts of it to the islets.

The finding by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, is the first to show how alcohol is able to lower blood sugar levels. What happens is that by sending more of the pancreas's internal blood flow to the islets, alcohol spurs insulin production, which in turn lowers glucose levels.

The scientists injected rats with ethanol alcohol and noted that blood flow to the islets increased fourfold. The alcohol did not affect the amount of blood reaching the pancreas, only the distribution of blood within it.

The study also found that alcohol induced the changes in blood flow by affecting nitric oxide, a chemical compound that medical studies suggest is instrumental in glucose transport and the actions of insulin. Alcohol also affected the vagus nerve, which descends from the brain and into the abdomen and, among other things, signals organs there to secrete.

Source: Endocrinology, January 2008

Demand for health care help booming

Michigan's health care industry, the state's largest employer, desperately needs thousands of workers to fill jobs with critical shortages.

That may include you -- autoworkers, social workers, accountants, computer technicians and others laid off in one of the nation's worst recessions.

As jobs evaporate, the health care industry remains a field with job growth, benefits and, usually, stability.

"It's a very strong forecast for health care for a long time to come," said Andy Levin, deputy director of Michigan's Department of Labor and Economic Growth. ....more

Waist Size Predicts Stroke Risk

A large waist circumference, which is known to raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, may also raise the risk of stroke or mini-stroke, researchers from Germany report.

A large waistline seems to be a better indicator of a person's risk for suffering a stroke or mini-stroke, also known as "transient ischemic attack" or TIA, than a person's overall body weight, they report.

Dr. Tobias Back at Saxon Hospital Arnsdorf in Arnsdorf/Dresden and colleagues investigated the extent to which various markers of obesity were associated with the risk of stroke or mini-stroke in 379 adults with a history of stroke or TIA and 758 stroke-free controls of similar age and gender.

While being overweight in general (that is, having a high body mass index or BMI) increased the risk of stroke, this association became nonsignificant after the investigators accounted for "confounding" factors, like being physical inactive, smoking, having high blood pressure or diabetes.

However, being fat around the middle remained strongly associated with an increased risk of stroke or TIA.

For example, individuals with the highest so-called "waist-to-hip ratio" had a greater than 7-fold increased risk of stroke or TIA compared with those with the lowest waist-to-hip ratio.

Waist-to-hip ratio is calculated by dividing the circumference of the waist by the circumference of the hips. More belly fat results in higher ratios.

"If the waist-to-hip ratio values were greater than 0.97 for men and 0.84 for women, then individuals faced almost 8 times increased risk for stroke compared to individuals with a waist-to-hip ratio less than 0.92 in men or less than 0.78 in women," Back stated.

A large waistline also showed a strong association with stroke and TIA. If the waist circumference was greater than 40.2 inches for men or 34.6 inches for women, the risk of stroke increased more than 4-fold compared with individuals with a normal waist size, according to the researchers.

SOURCE: Stroke, December 2008.

Dogs More Effective Than Prozac

By: Sylvia Booth Hubbard

Want to cut down on doctor visits and be more active? Get a dog! University of British Columbia professor and author Stanley Coren says dogs work better at reducing stress than the antidepressant Prozac.

A recent study published in the journal “Psychosomatic Medicine” found that positive effects produced by dogs included several signs of reduced stress, including lowered blood pressure, slowed heart rate and more relaxed muscles. And those relaxing effects were attained much more rapidly than pills. Having a dog close by reduced stress in as little as five minutes, where prescription medications can take weeks before taking effect.

“The data is absolutely unambiguous,” Coren told Canada.com. “This actually works better than having a loved one next to you.”

Amazingly, research shows that dog owners visit their doctors less often and are more physically active than non-dog owners. And seniors who own dogs are four times less likely to be victims of depression.

“It’s quite an amazing statistic,” said Coren, author of several books on how humans interact with dogs including “How to Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication.”

Don’t take health tips from celebs if you know what’s good for you

From Madonna’s quest to “neutralise radiation” to Tom Cruise’s dismissals of psychiatry, celebrities are seldom shy about expressing their views on health and science – even when they appear not to know what they are talking about.

A roll call of public figures such as Cruise and Delia Smith have offered bogus advice or “quackery” this year, according to scientists and doctors. The charity Sense About Science is concerned that celebrities mislead the public when they endorse theories, diets or health products while misrepresenting the science involved.

Some – such as Oprah Winfrey and Kate Moss – espouse “detox” regimes, while others, such as Sharon and Kelly Osbourne, believe (mistakenly) that the Pill can cause cancer.

Nor are politicians exempt from lending credence to health myths. The US President-elect is among several American public figures who continue to suggest that the MMR vaccination is a potential cause of autism, despite an overwhelming weight of scientific evidence to the contrary.


MORE

Sunday, December 21, 2008

God's got it right again! Circumcision Reduces HIV Risk in Heterosexual Men

A new U.S. study has found that being circumcised significantly reduced the risk of HIV infection in heterosexual African American men known to have been exposed to the virus. The findings complement those of recently reported clinical trials in Africa, where interventional use of adult male circumcision similarly reduced the risk of HIV infection in heterosexual men. The findings of the new study, along with similar results from other studies, suggest that circumcision may protect other heterosexual males in the U.S. The promising new findings are reported in the January 1 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, now available online.

Lee Warner, PhD, MPH, and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine studied the records of more than 26,000 African American men who had had HIV testing during visits to two Baltimore, Maryland, STD clinics from 1993 to 2000. The subjects selected for the study said that they did not inject drugs and had sex only with women. Their visits to the clinics were classified as involving known HIV exposure if there had been a recent notification of such exposure by a sex partner or by a clinic’s disease intervention specialists; clinic visits for other reasons were classified as involving unknown HIV exposure. By these criteria, the investigators found 394 visits with known exposure and 40,177 visits with unknown exposure.

In visits by men with known HIV exposure, being circumcised was associated with a 51 percent reduction in HIV prevalence (10.2 percent of circumcised men vs. 22.0 percent of uncircumcised men). In contrast, HIV prevalence did not significantly differ in circumcised compared to uncircumcised men with unknown HIV exposure (2.5 percent vs 3.3 percent).

The investigators noted that three other U.S.-based studies had previously suggested that circumcision may be associated with reduced HIV risk, but the findings were limited by small sample size or extremely low HIV prevalence and did not achieve statistical significance. Indeed, HIV prevalence in the United States is very low (about 0.4 percent), and the proportion of circumcised adult males is high (about 80 percent), which could make it hard for conventional observational studies (i.e., studies that are not clinical trials) to discern whether circumcision actually has a protective effect. By focusing on patients who had documented exposure to an HIV-infected female partner, the current study was able to reveal that there was indeed a protective effect. This approach, the investigators said, “represents a significant methodological advancement over most previous observational studies.”

In a separate editorial on the topic, Ronald H. Gray, MBBS, MSc, of Johns Hopkins University, pointed out that circumcision may be especially important for minority U.S. populations, including Hispanic as well as African American men—subgroups most at risk for HIV infection. He also noted that the American Academy of Pediatrics has thus far not recommended routine neonatal circumcision, and that Medicaid does not cover the procedure. “It is to be hoped,” he said, “that the paper by Warner et al., in conjunction with the weight of evidence from international studies, will persuade the Academy to recognize the public health importance of this surgery for prevention of HIV in minority U.S. populations.”

Fast Facts:

Recently reported clinical trials in Africa have shown that interventional use of adult male circumcision reduced the risk of HIV infection in heterosexual men.

The current U.S. study was able to show that circumcision significantly protected heterosexual African American men. It did so by focusing on subjects who had documented exposure to an HIV-infected female partner.


Realted Stories on YOUR HEALTH TODAY:

Disease and Sanitation rules found in the Bible:


Delicate decision: To circumcise or not?


Circumcision 'does not curb sex'




Health Scan: Surgery still sometimes needed to get rid of kidney stonesSome people know that if a person is diagnosed with kidney stones, he can be tr

Some people know that if a person is diagnosed with kidney stones, he can be treated non-invasively with a soundwave device called a lithotripter, which smashes the stones into tiny fragments. Another technique is to insert an optic fiber into the urinary tract to destroy the stones. But Dr. Mordechai Duvdevani of the andro-urology unit at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem notes that these treatments are not so simple, and that the condition may still require minimally invasive surgery.

Writing in the latest issue of Urology Updates published by Medical Media, Duvdevani says these procedures are sometimes not successful - especially when stones are larger than 20 millimeters in diameter or very dense. In some cases, the fragments don't flush out of the body. Instead, a better technique, called percutaneous nephrolithotomy, is recommended.

The urologist explains that kidney stones result when there are bacteria able to break down uric acid and allow minerals to accumulate in the urinary tract. Antibiotics are not enough to get rid of these stones, as layer after layer of minerals accumulate. Sometimes, kidneys that are congenitally shaped differently than the norm are more prone to stones.

In percutaneous nephrolithotomy, which is performed under general anesthesia in one to four hours, a path is created to the kidney via the hip. Ultrasound, laser or other energy-based devices are introduced to smash the stones in situ and "vacuum" them out. Sometimes a supportive stent in inserted into the urethra that remains for a day or two. The procedure takes so long because the path must be at exactly the right location, angle and size. Sometimes a second path has to be created. The patient is hospitalized for two days to a week. Serious complications, writes Duvdevani, are rare.

Nephrolithotomy can be used by a well-trained team on a wide variety of patients, he concludes, including those with chronic illness and anatomical changes in the urinary tract. As kidney stones can recur, patients should be followed up.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Statin Warning for Women

Pregnant women or those hoping to start or extend a family should avoid using the cholesterol-lowering drugs statins, say scientists.

Current clinical guidelines already recommend that women who are pregnant should stop taking statins but the advice is based on the knowledge that cholesterol is essential for normal fetal development.

Indeed, a 2007 study examining the risk of congenital anomalies in children of pregnant women using statins suggested that the detrimental effects of the drugs may be restricted to fat-soluble or 'lipophilic' statins only.

But new research from The University of Manchester has shown that even water-soluble or 'hydrophilic' statins, such as pravastatin, can affect placental development leading to worse pregnancy outcomes.

"The rapid rise in obesity and type-2 diabetes is a major health issue and affected individuals are often treated with statins to lower circulating cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease," said Dr Melissa Westwood, a Senior Lecturer in Endocrinology based at the Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre at St Mary's Hospital, Manchester.

"Given the evolving demographic profile of these conditions, such drugs are increasingly prescribed to women of reproductive age but the actions of statins are not limited to the regulation of cholesterol levels, as they can affect the production of other chemicals in the body too.

"Our study examined the effects that both lipophilic and hydrophilic statins had on a key biological system that is crucial for maintaining the normal function of the placenta, which acts as the nutrient-waste exchange barrier between mother and fetus."

The research, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), used a placental-tissue model that could be maintained in a viable state outside the body for several days and tested the effects of two different statins – one water-soluble and one that dissolves in fat.

As expected, the fat-soluble statin, cerivastatin, affected the placenta resulting in reduced growth but the researchers also found that pravastatin – the water-soluble statin thought to be potentially compatible for use in pregnancy – had the same detrimental effect.

"These results clearly show that the effect of statins on the placenta is not dependent on their lipophilicity as had previously been suggested," said Dr Westwood, whose findings are published in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.

"While hydrophilic statins have not been reported to increase the incidence of fetal malformations, our research suggests that they will have a detrimental effect on placental growth, which is likely to result in poor pregnancy outcome.

"Healthcare professionals should continue to advise women to avoid the use of any type of statin once they plan to start a family or when a pregnancy is suspected or confirmed."

Four in Ten Adults Use Unconventional Medicine

About four in 10 U.S. adults and one in nine children are turning to unconventional medical approaches for chronic pain and other health problems, health officials said on Wednesday.

Back pain was the leading reason that Americans reported using complementary and alternative medicine techniques, followed by neck and joint pain as well as arthritis, according to the survey by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 38 percent of adults used some form of complementary and alternative medicine in 2007, compared to 36 percent in 2002, the last time the government tracked at the matter.

For the first time, the survey looked at use of such medicine by children under age 18, finding that about 12 percent used it, officials said. The reasons included back pain, colds, anxiety, stress and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to the survey.

The risks for children using these are unclear, they said.

Complementary medicine is used together with conventional treatment, while alternative medicine is used instead. This includes such things as herbal medicines and other natural products, chiropractic techniques, acupuncture, massage, meditation and others.

Many people feel these may work better for them than typical medical approaches, with fewer bad side effects. And so-called natural products have become big business, too, with various herbal medicines and others emerging as lucrative products.

"As I look at this data, what I'm most struck with is how much people are turning to CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) approaches as part of the management of chronic pain conditions, particularly chronic back pain, but also neck pain and musculoskeletal pain and headache," said Dr. Josephine Briggs, director of the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the NIH.

"And from my days as an internist seeing patients in my office, I know that these are conditions that are hard to manage and tough to treat," Briggs told reporters.

Chiropractic care, acupuncture and massage therapy are among the complementary and alternative medicine techniques used for chronic pain, NIH researcher Richard Nahin said.

The survey results were based on responses from about 23,000 adults and 9,500 children nationwide.

Overall, the most common category of complementary and alternative medicine used was natural products such as herbal medicines and certain other types of dietary supplements other than vitamins and minerals.

Among these natural products used by adults, fish oil was the most commonly used. Nahin said it is used for such reasons as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Nahin said use of complementary and alternative medicine seems to be remaining at a significant but stable level, with most of the recent increases among those age 60 and up.

Deep breathing exercises, meditation and massage therapy all showed significant increases among adults. Overall, women and people with higher levels of education were more likely to use complementary and alternative medicine techniques.

Echinacea, a medicinal plant sometimes used to treat or prevent colds, was the most common of the natural products used by children, according to the survey. Echinacea use dropped among adults from 2002 to 2007, Nahin said.

Exercise Suppresses Appetite Hormones

A vigorous 60-minute workout on a treadmill affects the release of two key appetite hormones, ghrelin and peptide YY, while 90 minutes of weight lifting affects the level of only ghrelin, according to a new study. Taken together, the research shows that aerobic exercise is better at suppressing appetite than non-aerobic exercise and provides a possible explanation for how that happens.

This line of research may eventually lead to more effective ways to use exercise to help control weight, according to the senior author, David J. Stensel of Loughborough University in the United Kingdom.

The study, “The influence of resistance and aerobic exercise on hunger, circulating levels of acylated ghrelin and peptide YY in healthy males,” appears in the online edition of The American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, published by The American Physiological Society. The authors are David R. Broom, James A. King and David J. Stensel of Loughborough University, and Rachel L. Batterham of University College, London.

There are several hormones that help regulate appetite, but the researchers looked at two of the major ones, ghrelin and peptide YY. Ghrelin is the only hormone known to stimulate appetite. Peptide YY suppresses appetite.

Ghrelin was discovered by researchers in Japan only about 10 years ago and was originally identified for its role as a growth hormone. Only later did its role in stimulating appetite become known. Peptide YY was discovered less than 25 years ago.

In this experiment, 11 male university students did three eight-hour sessions. During one session they ran for 60 minutes on a treadmill, and then rested for seven hours. During another session they did 90 minutes of weight lifting, and then rested for six hours and 30 minutes. During another session, the participants did not exercise at all.

During each of the sessions, the participants filled out surveys in which they rated how hungry they felt at various points. They also received two meals during each session. The researchers measured ghrelin and peptide YY levels at multiple points along the way.

They found that the treadmill (aerobic) session caused ghrelin levels to drop and peptide YY levels to increase, indicating the hormones were suppressing appetite. However, a weight-lifting (non-aerobic) session produced a mixed result. Ghrelin levels dropped, indicating appetite suppression, but peptide YY levels did not change significantly.

Based on the hunger ratings the participants filled out, both aerobic and resistance exercise suppressed hunger, but aerobic exercise produced a greater suppression of hunger. The changes the researchers observed were short term for both types of exercise, lasting about two hours, including the time spent exercising, Stensel reported.

“The finding that hunger is suppressed during and immediately after vigorous treadmill running is consistent with previous studies indicating that strenuous aerobic exercise transiently suppresses appetite,” Stensel said. “The findings suggest a similar, although slightly attenuated response, for weight lifting exercise.”

In a nutshell: Eat more nuts to reduce heart risks

CHICAGO (AP) — Scientists have come across a nutty risk reducer: Eating a handful of nuts a day for a year — along with a Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish — may help undo a collection of risk factors for heart disease.

Spanish researchers found that adding nuts worked better than boosting the olive oil in a typical Mediterranean diet. Both regimens cut the heart risks known as metabolic syndrome in more people than a low-fat diet did.

"What's most surprising is they found substantial metabolic benefits in the absence of calorie reduction or weight loss," said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital.

In the study, appearing Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the people who improved most were told to eat about three whole walnuts, seven or eight whole hazelnuts and seven or eight whole almonds. They didn't lose weight, on average, but more of them succeeded in reducing belly fat and improving their cholesterol and blood pressure.

Manson, who wasn't involved in the study, cautioned that adding nuts to a Western diet — one packed with too many calories and junk food — could lead to weight gain and more health risks. "But using nuts to replace a snack of chips or crackers is a very favorable change to make in your diet," Manson said.

The American Heart Association says 50 million Americans have metabolic syndrome, a combination of health risks, such as high blood pressure and abdominal obesity. Finding a way to reverse it with a diet people find easy and satisfying would mean huge health improvements for many Americans, Manson said.

Nuts help people feel full while also increasing the body's ability to burn fat, said lead author Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvado of the University of Rovira i Virgili in Reus, Spain.

"Nuts could have an effect on metabolic syndrome by multiple mechanisms," Salas-Salvado said in an e-mail. Nuts are rich in anti-inflammatory substances, such as fiber, and antioxidants, such as vitamin E. They are high in unsaturated fat, a healthier fat known to lower blood triglycerides and increase good cholesterol.

More than 1,200 Spaniards, ranging in age from 55 to 80, were randomly assigned to follow one of three diets. They were followed for a year. The participants had no prior history of heart disease, but some had risk factors including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and abdominal obesity.

At the start, 751 people had metabolic syndrome, about 61%, distributed evenly among the three groups.

Metabolic syndrome was defined as having three or more of the following conditions: abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, low levels of good cholesterol (HDL), high blood sugar and high blood pressure.

The low-fat group was given basic advice about reducing all fat in their diets. Another group ate a Mediterranean diet with extra nuts. The third group ate a Mediterranean diet and was told to make sure they ate more than four tablespoons of olive oil a day.

Dietitians advised the two groups on the Mediterranean diet to use olive oil for cooking; increase fruit, vegetable and fish consumption; eat white meat instead of beef or processed meat; and prepare homemade tomato sauce with garlic, onions and herbs. Drinkers were told to stick with red wine.

After one year, all three groups had fewer people with metabolic syndrome, but the group eating nuts led the improvement, now with 52% having those heart risk factors. In the olive oil group, 57% had the syndrome. In the low-fat group, there was very little difference after a year in the percentage of people with the syndrome.

The nut-rich diet didn't do much to improve high blood sugar, but the large number of people with Type 2 diabetes — about 46% of participants — could be the reason, Salas-Salvado said. It's difficult to get diabetics' blood sugar down with lifestyle changes alone, he said.

To verify that study volunteers ate their nuts, researchers gave some of them a blood test for alpha-linolenic acid found in walnuts.

The study was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Health and the government of Valencia, Spain.

Salas-Salvado and another co-author disclosed in the publication that they are unpaid advisers to nut industry groups. Salas-Salvado said all of their research "has been conducted under standard ethical and scientific rules" and that peer-review journal editors determined the study results were not influenced by food industry ties.

Cabbage, an Inexpensive Nutritional Powerhouse

An article last month by Tara Parker-Pope about the challenges of eating fresh food on a tight budget got me thinking about cabbage. It is a very economical vegetable that is easy to find in any supermarket and it gives you a huge nutritional bang for your buck. This humble food has always been a mainstay for the poor and in cold climates people of all classes have relied on it to feed themselves through many a winter. (The vegetable is at its best during the fall and winter months, when it is in season, and it stores well for weeks).


ARTICLE

Pomegranates taste good and are good for you

Chasing a youthful glow never tasted so good. The pomegranate, an ancient "super" fruit, is packed with antioxidants and a bounty of health benefits. Not only does it taste good, it's good for you. And it can also be a fun decoration for the holiday.

Throughout history, the pomegranate has been held in high esteem. According to POM Wonderful, one of the largest producers in the United States, Buddha believed it was one of the three blessed fruits. Early Christians used it to symbolize God's bountiful love — its red juice, the blood of martyrs. Pomegranates also appeared in ancient Greece, symbolizing winter and the holidays. In one New Year's Eve tradition, the Greeks would smash a silver-foil-wrapped pomegranate against the threshold of a home to spread the seeds of good luck.


A fruit fit for decorating or dining

There are many uses for pomegranates, and they don't all involve eating.

Decor: With its ruby-red exterior and ornamental appearance, the pomegranate would make a festive holiday centerpiece.

Simply fill a glass bowl with pomegranates, surrounded by greens, and listen to your guests ooh and ahh as they walk in the door.

If you want more ideas on decorating with pomegranates, go to www.pomwonderful.com.

Dining: For a new twist on your holiday table:
• Try using the arils from the pomegranate on top of warmed brie and toasted bread.
• Use the juice in fancy cocktail drinks.
• Freeze the arils in ice trays to make fun ice cubes for drinks.
• Garnish salads.
• Use arils in marinades and sorbets.
• Add a tart taste to basic dishes by using the arils.

Symbolism: Not only do pomegranates add festive flavor and a colorful touch to your holiday gathering, they are a symbol of hope, healing and fertility.

— Brenda Junkin

ARTICLE

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gout

Gout is an arthritic type of pain in your joints; typically, about 75 percent of people will experience it as an excruciating pain in their big toe. (Hence, if you ever experience sudden, severe pain in your big toe, you’ll want to go get checked for gout.)

The symptoms of gout -- the stiff, swollen and painful joints -- are due to excess uric acid forming crystals in your joints, and the pain is caused by your body’s inflammatory response to these crystals.

Besides gout, elevated uric acid is related to a variety of other health conditions, including:

  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease

Many people suffering from gout end up taking some type of pain reducing medication, typically an anti-inflammatory. Drugs like Allopurinol and Cholchicine work by either lowering your uric acid levels, which decrease crystal formation, or by simply blocking your body’s natural inflammatory response.

But these drugs also have very dangerous, long-term side effects, and gout is frequently a lifelong condition, so you may end up staying on these drugs for very long periods of time, which can wreak havoc with your health.

Folks, you don’t need to take a dangerous drug to deal with this painful condition. You CAN address the underlying cause of excess uric acid formation via all natural means.

Change Your Diet -- Reduce Inflammation Naturally

Any time we’re talking about reducing inflammation, please remember that your diet is your number one priority.

Why?

Because the REAL underlying problem causing the inflammation, and subsequent damage, is likely due to having chronically elevated blood sugar. (The sugar molecule causes far more damage than any other molecule.) And, your number one way of normalizing your blood sugar and insulin levels is through your diet.

But what constitutes an optimal diet?

Well, first of all, you should know by now that there is no one diet that is right for everyone. This is why I always recommend you go through my nutritional typing process to find out which type of diet is right for you, based on your personal biochemistry and metabolism.

Some people thrive on a high carb-low fat/low protein diet. Others need more fat and protein, and far less carbs. Others may fall somewhere in between.

However, regardless of your nutritional type, drastically reducing or eliminating sugar is essential if you’re dealing with gout, or any other condition caused by inflammation in your body.

Recent research shows you can lower your risk of gout by an impressive 85 percent, simply by reducing your intake of sugar.

What this means for most people is: eliminate the soft drinks and fruit juices.

It never ceases to amaze me that the number one source of calories for Americans is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the form of soda. This is so tragic because soda can be one of the easiest dietary modifications to make.

Instead, drink plenty of pure water, as the fluids will help to remove uric acid from your body.

Another important diet modification is to reduce or eliminate alcohol, as it is clearly a risk factor in gout.

Other Natural Tips for Treating Gout

Exercise, just like optimizing your vitamin D levels, is an all-around health booster that helps improve your health no matter what your problem is. In this case, exercise helps normalize your insulin and hence your uric acid levels, naturally.

As far as using supplements, tart cherries have been found to offer excellent benefits in the treatment of gout. Tart cherries contain two powerful compounds, anthocyanins and bioflavonoids, which are known to have similar activity to aspirin and ibuprofen. Both of these compounds slow down the enzymes Cyclo-oxyygenase-1 and -- 2, which helps to relieve and prevent arthritis and gout in your body.

A handful of fresh cherries in the summertime are a natural gourmet delight, but if you want to harness the antioxidant power of cherries on a routine basis--and you definitely should, as they are one of nature’s true "healing foods"--then you should seriously consider taking a red tart cherry juice concentrate.

Cherry juice concentrate can contain about 55 to 60 tart cherries in every ounce. That’s a single recommended serving, so in other words, you’d have to eat 55 to 60 cherries to get the same health benefit (and I don’t recommend eating 55 to 60 cherries, as that is too much sugar ... But with a concentrate, you can get the health benefit of the cherries without all the sugar).

Last but not least, just in time for the Christmas holiday season, consider spicing up your dishes with plenty of nutmeg, as this common spice is also useful for gout.


Related Articles:

VIDEO

Nuts Help Cut Metabolic Syndrome Risk

Here's a health tip in a nutshell: Eating a handful of nuts a day for a year — along with a Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish — may help undo a collection of risk factors for heart disease.

Spanish researchers found that adding nuts worked better than boosting the olive oil in a typical Mediterranean diet. Both regimens cut the heart risks known as metabolic syndrome in more people than a low-fat diet did.

"What's most surprising is they found substantial metabolic benefits in the absence of calorie reduction or weight loss," said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital.

In the study, appearing Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the people who improved most were told to eat about three whole walnuts, seven or eight whole hazelnuts and seven or eight whole almonds. They didn't lose weight, on average, but more of them succeeded in reducing belly fat and improving their cholesterol and blood pressure.

Manson, who wasn't involved in the study, cautioned that adding nuts to a Western diet — one packed with too many calories and junk food — could lead to weight gain and more health risks. "But using nuts to replace a snack of chips or crackers is a very favorable change to make in your diet," Manson said.

The American Heart Association says 50 million Americans have metabolic syndrome, a combination of health risks, such as high blood pressure and abdominal obesity. Finding a way to reverse it with a diet people find easy and satisfying would mean huge health improvements for many Americans, Manson said.

Nuts help people feel full while also increasing the body's ability to burn fat, said lead author Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvado of the University of Rovira i Virgili in Reus, Spain.

"Nuts could have an effect on metabolic syndrome by multiple mechanisms," Salas-Salvado said in an e-mail. Nuts are rich in anti-inflammatory substances, such as fiber, and antioxidants, such as vitamin E. They are high in unsaturated fat, a healthier fat known to lower blood triglycerides and increase good cholesterol.

More than 1,200 Spaniards, ranging in age from 55 to 80, were randomly assigned to follow one of three diets. They were followed for a year. The participants had no prior history of heart disease, but some had risk factors including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and abdominal obesity.

At the start, 751 people had metabolic syndrome, about 61 percent, distributed evenly among the three groups.

Metabolic syndrome was defined as having three or more of the following conditions: abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, low levels of good cholesterol (HDL), high blood sugar and high blood pressure.

The low-fat group was given basic advice about reducing all fat in their diets. Another group ate a Mediterranean diet with extra nuts. The third group ate a Mediterranean diet and was told to make sure they ate more than four tablespoons of olive oil a day.

Dietitians advised the two groups on the Mediterranean diet to use olive oil for cooking; increase fruit, vegetable and fish consumption; eat white meat instead of beef or processed meat; and prepare homemade tomato sauce with garlic, onions and herbs. Drinkers were told to stick with red wine.

After one year, all three groups had fewer people with metabolic syndrome, but the group eating nuts led the improvement, now with 52 percent having those heart risk factors. In the olive oil group, 57 percent had the syndrome. In the low-fat group, there was very little difference after a year in the percentage of people with the syndrome.

The nut-rich diet didn't do much to improve high blood sugar, but the large number of people with Type 2 diabetes — about 46 percent of participants — could be the reason, Salas-Salvado said. It's difficult to get diabetics' blood sugar down with lifestyle changes alone, he said.

To verify that study volunteers ate their nuts, researchers gave some of them a blood test for alpha-linolenic acid found in walnuts.

The study was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Health and the government of Valencia, Spain.

Salas-Salvado and another co-author disclosed in the publication that they are unpaid advisers to nut industry groups. Salas-Salvado said all of their research "has been conducted under standard ethical and scientific rules" and that peer-review journal editors determined the study results were not influenced by food industry ties.

Selenium May Prevent Bladder Cancer

By Silvia Booth Hubbard

A new study reported by the American Association for Cancer Research found that selenium, a non-metallic trace mineral found in grains, nuts, and meats may help prevent bladder cancer, especially in those patients at high risk.

Researchers from the Dartmouth Medical School also found a significant reduction in the incidence of bladder cancer in women, smokers and people with cancer related to a specific gene—p53.

Lead researcher Margaret Karagas measured the selenium levels in the toenails of 767 people recently diagnosed with bladder cancer and 1,108 people from the general population. They found that higher rates of selenium were related to a reduction in bladder cancer in women (34 percent), moderate smokers (39 percent) and in those with p53 tumors (43 percent).

“Ultimately, if it is true that selenium can prevent a certain subset of individuals, like women, from developing bladder cancer, or prevent certain types of tumors, such as those evolving through the p53 pathway, from developing, it gives us clues about how the tumors could be prevented in the future and potentially lead to chemopreventive efforts,” Karagas said.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Diabetes Updates - Links

Depression linked to poorer diabetes control
Depression may make it harder for people with diabetes to keep their blood sugar levels in check, researchers have found.
more >>

Psychotherapy may help with diabetes control
Integrating motivational enhancement therapy with cognitive behavioral therapy may help people with type 1 diabetes better manage their disease, British researchers report.
more >>

Heart problems often worse in diabetic women
Women younger than 65 with diabetes tend to have worse heart problems than diabetic men of the same age, leading to higher death rates following a heart attack, the results of a Swedish study indicate.
more >>

Diabetes control doesn't normalize menstruation
Good metabolic control and intensive insulin treatment doesn't normalize the onset of menstruation, which is usually delayed in girls with type 1 diabetes compared with girls without the disease, study findings confirm.
more >>

Eating fish may prevent kidney decline in people with diabetes
Eating fish at least twice a week seems to reduce the incidence of kidney disease in patients with diabetes, according to findings from a large British study.
more >>

Periodontal disease linked to metabolic syndrome
In middle-aged adults, gum disease goes hand in hand with the metabolic syndrome, UK researchers report.
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Vitamin E May Ease Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation and the pain it brings can seriously impair physical activity and quality of life, especially in light of the fact that up to half of a person’s body mass consists of skeletal muscle. But according to University of Illinois professor Kimberly Huey, vitamin E may be able to reduce chronic inflammation.

Researchers gave vitamin E to mice and then injected them with E. coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to cause acute inflammation throughout the mice’s systems. Then the mice were examined for levels of particular pro-inflammatory cytokines (chemicals that help cells communicate and the immune system respond).

When the mice were examined, researchers found a significant decrease in cytokines, when compared with the placebo.

In addition to examining the cytokines, the researchers also looked at the amount of oxidized proteins in the muscle. “Oxidation can be detrimental, and in muscle has been associated with reduced muscle strength,” Huey said. The researchers found a “significant reduction” in the amount of oxidized proteins in muscles with vitamin E compared to placebo.” she said.

Vitamin E “may be beneficial in individuals with chronic inflammation, such as the elderly or patients with type 2 diabetes or chronic heart failure,” Huey said.

Heart Attack Patients Get 'Big Chill' Treatment

It took five mighty shocks to get Cynthia Crawford's heart to start beating again after she collapsed at Ochsner Clinic a few weeks ago. A dramatic rescue, to be sure, yet it was routine care she could have had at any hospital. What came next, though, was not. As she lay unconscious, barely clinging to life, doctors placed her in an inflatable cocoon-like pool that sprayed her naked body with hundreds of icy cold jets of water, plunging her into hypothermia.

"Like jumping in the North Sea," said the cardiologist leading her care, Dr. Paul McMullan.

Days later, Crawford was recovering without the brain damage she might have suffered.

For years, doctors have tried cooling people to limit damage from head and spinal cord injuries, strokes and even prematurity and birth trauma in newborns. It's also used for cardiac arrest, when someone's heart has stopped. In January, New York will join several other cities requiring ambulances to take many cardiac arrest patients to hospitals that offer cooling.

Now doctors will be testing a new and dramatically speedier way of doing this for a much more common problem — heart attacks, which strike a million Americans each year. ...more

It's official: Men really are the weaker sex

The male gender is in danger, with incalculable consequences for both humans and wildlife, startling scientific research from around the world reveals. The research – to be detailed tomorrow in the most comprehensive report yet published – shows that a host of common chemicals is feminising males of every class...

Click here to view this content.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

One sneeze, 150 colds for commuters

TISSUES at the ready. A single sneeze in a busy area can end up infecting 150 people with a cold in just five minutes, new research suggests.

An analysis of the germs unleashed from a single commuter's sneeze showed that within minutes they are being passed on via escalator handrails or seats on trains and underground carriages.

...more

Eating Eggs Protects Mom’s Offspring from Cancer

Eating eggs while pregnant can protect the mom’s offspring from cancer. Researchers reported in the journal of the “Federation of American Society for Experimental Biology” (FASEB) that eating choline—a nutrient abundant in eggs—during pregnancy lowered the risk of breast cancer in the mother’s offspring.

The team of biologists from Boston University was the first to link choline with the prevention of breast cancer and the first to identify changes in genes related to choline....more

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sex is the key to longer living

Sex - we're so ohhh-ver it!

At least that's what 105-year-old Clara Meadmore reckons.

Forget plenty of exercise, a strong family history or a diet of oily fish, fruit and veg.

The thing she credits for her lengthy life is men – or rather, a distinct lack of them.

The elderly Scot has gone without sex her entire life, claiming the hassle-free existence has given her a distinct advantage in staying fit and well.

But can this be true?

Well, according to sexperts, Claire's abstinence could have the opposite effect.

Just check up our round-up of reasons why sex could save your life.

1) Sex keeps us fit

It’s an age-old notion, but sweating it out in the bedroom really can give you a full-body workout.

The average lovemaking session burns between 50 and 100 calories.

That means that having sex three times a week burns 7500 calories per year, the equivalent of jogging 75 miles.

And it isn’t just the thigh and arm muscles that get a full workout when you treat your man in the bedroom.

Sex tones and conditions the muscles of the pelvic floor too.

These muscles play a vital function when it comes to good posture, straighter back and flatter tummies.

2) Sex works as a painkiller

Some women may use the 'headache' excuse when they don’t feel up to a session, but in reality, lovemaking itself can help to relieve pain.

According to a recent study, women who brought themselves to orgasm regularly saw their pain tolerance threshold shortly afterwards increased by 75 per cent.

This may happen because regular orgasms help the release of Oxytocin; a natural chemical in the body that can work to relieve pain by releasing sedative endorphins.

3) Sex improves our mood

So it’s pretty obvious that writhing around in perfect pleasure will perk you up, but other studies show that sex can improve our mood in different ways.

Firstly sex, like exercise, can improve our mood by releasing endorphins – giving us that 'runner’s high' for hours after lovemaking.

And a recent study goes so far as to suggest that semen itself may act as an antidepressant.

Females in the US study who were having sex regularly with the partners without a condom, had fewer signs of depression than women who weren’t having sex at all.

4) Sex is good for our health

So, sex makes you happier and a happy disposition has been proven to help keep your body healthy.

But recent studies even suggest that serious conditions, like high blood pressure, can be cured between the sheets.

One study found that women who ingested semen during sex had a lower risk of preeclampsia, the dangerously high blood pressure that sometimes accompanies pregnancy.

Other studies show that sex lowers blood pressure, and reduces the incidence of strokes because of its stress-relieving ability.

And lovemaking can also help to prevent cancer.

Recently The Journal of American Medical Association recently reported that high ejaculation frequency was related to decreased risk of total prostate cancer.

5) Sex is fun – enough said

6) Sex boosts oestrogen

Dr Winnifred Cutler, a specialist in behavioural endocrinology and director of the Athena Institute for Women's Wellness in Pennsylvania found that women who enjoyed regular weekly sex with a man had significantly higher levels of oestrogen in their blood than women who abstained.

The benefits of oestrogen include lowering bad cholesterol, better bone density and supple skin.

7) Sex makes us brainier

It has been suggested that women can raise their IQ with every orgasm that they experience.

Scientists found that the moment of orgasm causes the speed of blood circulation to reach its maximum. This means oxygen-enriched blood reaches organs, including the brain, very quickly.

Healthy MORAL sex was planned by God for our benefit in every way. It is physically, mentally and morally good for us and marriage between a men and women was ordained by our creator. It's not just for having babies!


Newly Diagnosed People With Diabetes See a $4,200 Increase in Their Annual Medical Expenses

People who have been newly diagnosed with diabetes will spend substantially more in the first year on medical costs than their non-diabetic counterparts-an average of $4,174 for a 50-year-old-according to RTI International, a non-profit research institute in North Carolina.


Newly Diagnosed People With Diabetes See a $4,200 Increase in Their Annual Medical Expenses

Incidence of Diabetes in Postmenopausal Women Not Reduced By a Low-fat Diet

Next week we'll publish a great article written by Dr. Richard Bernstein. MD. Dr. Bernstein is a long-term proponent of paying more attention to carbs rather than fats (though he certainly doesn't advocate that you can have all the fats you want!) While Dr. Bernstein has been telling us about the benefits of low carb for over 30 years, there is still much skepticism about his (and many other's-Gary Taubes, anyone?) low carb results. The establishment has been slow to be convinced, despite the many research trials that back up their findings.

Incidence of Diabetes in Postmenopausal Women Not Reduced By a Low-fat Diet

A Father of A Child with Type 1 Warnings

A Father of A Child with Type 1 Child Warns: Be Prepared for Hypoglycemia

My daughter Lauren was five days shy of her twelfth birthday when she was diagnosed with type 1. We were blessed with a child who could and did take the lead in her recovery and care. She never had any "teen diabetic rebellion" and never adopted a "why me?" mentality. Her health has been great, and her last A1c was 6.7%. With all the hormonal changes that can affect a teenage girl's body and thus change her insulin requirements, Lauren has always stayed on top of her care and never lost her fantastic personality.

Insomnia drug helps jet-lag, shift-work troubles

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An insomnia drug that helps the body produce more of the sleep hormone melatonin may improve sleep for jet-lagged travelers and shift workers, researchers reported on Monday.

Maryland-based Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. reported on two studies of its drug tasimelteon, also known as VEC-162, that showed it helped patients sleep longer and more deeply than a placebo.

They said that people with so-called circadian rhythm disorders could be helped. These disorders are common causes of insomnia that affect millions of people whose activities are out of sync with their internal body clocks.

These disorders entail persistent sleep disturbances, insomnia when trying to sleep and excessive sleepiness while trying to remain awake, the researchers said.

"...Tasimelteon has the potential for the treatment of patients with transient insomnia associated with circadian rhythm sleep disorders, including people affected by jet lag, or those who work at night, and early-riser workers," they wrote in their report, published in the Lancet medical journal.

Dr. Shantha Rajaratnam of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and colleagues, working with the company, did both Phase II and Phase III trials of the drug, aiming to show it is safe and works.

Volunteers slept in labs and were tested using devices known as polysomnographs, which measure sleep activity.

Patients given tasimelteon fell asleep faster, had better sleep and woke up faster, they reported. The drug did not cause any more side-effects than a placebo, they noted.

Melatonin can fight jet lag too but over-the-counter melatonin products are not regulated, they pointed out, and have not been consistently shown to help treat jet lag and other sleep disorders.

The market is potentially large. The study quoted U.S. labor statistics as finding that about 20 percent of the workforce or about 19.7 million U.S. workers are early risers who start work between 2:30 a.m. and 7 a.m.

"Most of these people probably experience chronic sleep restriction because they are unable to initiate and maintain sleep when they attempt to sleep in the early or late evening hours. Tasimelteon might alleviate this problem by advancing the sleep-wake cycle, by providing a direct sleep-promoting effect, or both," they wrote.

In a commentary, Dr. Daniel Cardinali of the University of Buenos Aires and Dr Diego Golombek, National University of Quilmes in Argentina, noted that drugs such as valium can be addictive.

"Shift-workers, airline crew, tourists, football teams, and many others will welcome the results of Shantha Rajaratnam and colleagues' study in The Lancet today," they wrote.

(Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)