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Nov 30
Fish consumption can help prevent heart disease
A recent analysis of fish oil studies has found that omega-3 fatty acids still matter for the prevention of heart disease.

The analysis done by scientists in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University also explained why so many of the studies seem to arrive at differing conclusions.

The review concluded that both fish consumption and dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplements may still help prevent heart disease; that some fatty acids, from certain sources, are more effective than others; that these compounds may have enormous value for serious health problems other than heart disease; and that the very effectiveness of modern drug therapies for heart disease may be one explanation for the conflicting findings on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.

"After decades of studying omega-3 fatty acids, it's clear that they have value in primary prevention of heart disease," said Donald Jump, author of the analysis, a principal investigator in the Linus Pauling Institute, and professor in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

"It's less clear how much impact fish oils have in preventing further cardiovascular events in people who already have heart disease," Jump said.

"The studies done several decades ago showed value even for that patient population, but the more recent studies are less conclusive. We believe that one explanation is the effectiveness of current state-of-the-art treatments now being offered," he noted.
Some of the earliest work that raised interest in omega-3 fatty acids was done in the 1970s with Greenland Inuits, who ate large amounts of fish and were found to have unusually low levels of cardiovascular disease. But, Jump said, millions of people now at risk for cardiovascular disease take medications such as statin drugs for high cholesterol; fibrates for high triglycerides; anti-thrombotics to thin their blood; and other drugs with anti-inflammatory or anti-arrhythmia effects.

Fish oils can have positive effects on virtually all of these same cardiovascular risk factors, Jump said, but so can the drugs.

"Some of the early studies done on fish oil were prior to so many effective medications being widely available and heavily used. And people often forget that nutrients, like fish oils, are less potent than prescription drugs, and often have their best value when used for extended periods," Jump said.

"When so many people in these studies are taking a regimen of medications to address the same issues that fish oil might also affect, it's easy to understand why any added benefit from the fish oils is more difficult to detect," he said.

The point, Jump said, is not that omega-3 fatty acids have no value they do. But for studies of their value in cardiovascular disease, which are often done when patients are taking other medications, that value is less clear.

A wide body of other research, he noted, makes it clear that omega-3 fatty acids also have health benefits that go beyond cardiovascular disease. They have been shown to improve visual acuity; improve cognitive function and reduce dementia; reduce inflammation and perhaps some types of cancer, such as colon cancer; and reduce total mortality.

An important type of omega-3 fatty acid for human health is DHA, which is the predominant omega-3 fatty acid that accumulates in tissues.

"We still believe the evidence is strong that the EPA and DHA content in heart tissues and blood is important to health and to the prevention of cardiovascular disease," Jump said.

"To meet the current recommendations for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, individuals are advised to consume 200-300 milligrams of combined EPA and DHA per day," he added.

This research was published in the Journal of Lipid Research.

Nov 30
Winter special: Best reasons to say yes to almonds
Ever wondered why your grandmother used to tell you to have almonds daily? The answer lies in the simple reason that almonds are one of the healthiest super food you can ever get. They are encumbered with essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and dietary fibres which are necessary for a healthy mind and body. Almonds are usually eaten raw, but people also use them as an ingredient in making salads.

So, we bring to you six best health benefits of almonds:

Regulates cholesterol: Regular consumption of almonds help maintain the cholesterol level as they help raise high density lipoproteins (HDL) or 'good' cholesterol levels and lower the amount of low density lipo proteins (LDL) or 'bad' cholesterol levels.

Good for a healthy brain: If you want good memory, then consume at least four to five almonds daily as they help sharpen memory.

Skin care: Almond oil is used widely for skincare. The human skin tends to lose its essential oils due to the hectic city life and winter dryness. But a body massage done with almond oil works wonders for the skin by restoring its lost sheen.

Prevention of constipation: Almonds are a rich source of fibre. Thus, they help in preventing constipation and aid in proper bowel movement.

Protection against diabetes: Almonds control the unwanted rise in blood sugar and insulin levels after every meal we consume thereby serving as a protective wall against awful diseases.

Helps prevent Birth defects: Folic acid present in almonds play an important role in healthy growth of cells and tissues. Consuming almonds act as a strong defense system against birth defects. Therefore, these wonder nuts are very necessary for a healthy growth of the foetus.

Nov 29
Brief bouts of exercise 'immediately enhance memory'
A short burst of moderate exercise enhances the consolidation of memories in both healthy older adults and those with mild cognitive impairment, researchers say.

Most studies have focused on the benefits of a long-term exercise program on overall health and cognitive function with age, but researchers at the UC Irvine's Center for the Neurobiology of Learning Memory are the first to examine the immediate effects of a brief bout of exercise on memory.

In their study, post-doctoral researcher Sabrina Segal and neurobiologists Carl Cotman and Lawrence Cahill had people 50 to 85 years old with and without memory deficits view pleasant images like photos of nature and animals, and then exercise on a stationary bicycle for six minutes at 70 percent of their maximum capacity immediately afterward.

One hour later, the participants were given a surprise recall test on the previously viewed images. Results showed a striking enhancement of memory by exercise in both the healthy and cognitively impaired adults, compared with subjects who did not ride the bike.

"We found that a single, short instance of moderately intense exercise particularly improved memory in individuals with memory deficits," Segal said.

"Because of its implications and the need to better understand the mechanism by which exercise may enhance memory, we're following up this study with an investigation of potential underlying biological factors," she said.

Segal believes that the improved memory may be related to the exercise-induced release of norepinephrine, a chemical messenger in the brain known to play a strong role in memory modulation.

This hypothesis is based on previous work demonstrating that increasing norepinephrine through pharmacological manipulation sharpens memory and that blocking norepinephrine impairs memory.

In the more recent research, Segal and her colleagues discovered that levels of salivary alpha amylase, a biomarker that reflects norepinephrine activity in the brain, significantly increased in participants after exercise. This correlation was especially strong in people with memory impairment.

"The current findings offer a natural and relatively safe alternative to pharmacological interventions for memory enhancement in healthy older individuals as well as those who suffer from cognitive deficits," Segal said.

"With a growing population of the aged, the need for improvement of quality of life and prevention of mental decline is more important than ever before," she added.

The study has been published in the November issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Nov 29
Vitamin D may ward off tooth decay: Study
Vitamin D is associated with a 50 per cent reduction in tooth decay, according to new research.

The new review of studies of children in several countries highlighted the potential role for vitamin D in helping to prevent tooth decay or dental caries.
The review, published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, encompassed 24 controlled clinical trials, spanning the 1920s to the 1980s, on approximately 3,000 children in several countries.

These trials showed that vitamin D was associated with an approximately 50 per cent reduction in the incidence of tooth decay.

In the trials Dr Philippe Hujoel from University of Washington reviewed, vitamin D levels in children were increased through the use of supplemental UV radiation or by supplementing the children`s diet with cod-liver oil or other products containing the vitamin.
The clinical trials he reviewed were conducted in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Austria, New Zealand and Sweden.
Trials were conducted in institutional settings, schools, medical and dental practices, or hospitals. The subjects were children or young adults between the ages of 2 and 16 years, with a weighted mean age of 10 years.

Hujoel`s findings come as no surprise to researchers familiar with past vitamin D studies.

According to Dr Michael Hollick, professor of medicine at the Boston University Medical Center, "the findings from the University of Washington reaffirm the importance of vitamin D for dental health".

"Children who are vitamin D deficient have poor and delayed teeth eruption and are prone to dental caries," he said.

"Whether this is more than just a coincidence is open to debate. In the meantime, pregnant women or young mothers can do little harm by realising that vitamin D is essential to their offspring`s health. Vitamin D does lead to teeth and bones that are better mineralised," Hujoel said in a statement.

While vitamin D`s role in supporting bone health has not been disputed, significant disagreement has historically existed over its role in preventing caries, Hujoel noted.
The American Medical Association and the US National Research Council concluded around 1950 that vitamin D was beneficial in managing dental caries.
The American Dental Association said otherwise - based on the same evidence. In 1989, the National Research Council, despite new evidence supporting vitamin D`s caries-fighting benefits, called the issue "unresolved".

Current reviews by the Institute of Medicine, the US Department of Human Health and Service and the American Dental Association draw no conclusions on the vitamin D evidence as it relates to dental caries.

Nov 28
Pedalling gives health boost to Parkinson's patients
A new study has revealed that people with Parkinson's disease benefit from exercise programs on stationary bicycles, with the greatest effect for those who pedal faster.

Functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI) data showed that faster pedaling led to greater connectivity in brain areas associated with motor ability.

Exercise is thought to have beneficial effects on Parkinson's disease. Jay L. Alberts, Ph.D., neuroscientist at the Cleveland
Clinic Lerner Research Institute in Cleveland, saw this firsthand in 2003 when he rode a tandem bicycle across Iowa with a Parkinson's disease patient to raise awareness of the disease. The patient experienced improvements in her symptoms after the ride.

As part of this inquiry, Dr. Alberts, researcher Chintan Shah, B.S., and their Cleveland Clinic colleagues, recently used fcMRI to study the effect of exercise on 26 Parkinson's disease patients.

"By measuring changes in blood oxygenation levels in the brain, fcMRI allows us to look at the functional connectivity between
different brain regions," Shah said.

The patients underwent bicycle exercise sessions three times a week for eight weeks. Some patients exercised at a voluntary
level and others underwent forced-rate exercise, pedaling at a speed above their voluntary rate. The researchers used a modified exercise bike to induce forced-rate activity.

fcMRI was conducted before and after the eight weeks of exercise therapy and again as follow-up four weeks later. The research team calculated brain activation and connectivity levels from the fcMRI results and correlated the data with average pedaling rate.

Results showed increases in task-related connectivity between the primary motor cortex and the posterior region of the brain's thalamus. Faster pedaling rate was the key factor related to these improvements, which were still evident at follow-up.

"The results show that forced-rate bicycle exercise is an effective, low-cost therapy for Parkinson's disease," Shah said.

Dr. Alberts noted that that while faster pedaling led to more significant results, not all Parkinson's patients need to do forced-rate exercise to see improvement.
"We're now looking at this phenomenon in patients with exercise bikes in their home," he said, "and other exercises like
swimming and rowing on tandem machines may provide similar benefits."

The finding was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Nov 28
New ketone drink may hold key to weight loss, diabetes, and Alzheimer's
Researchers have come up with a new drink that could not only help you lose weight, but could also treat epilepsy, diabetes and possibly even Alzheimer's, it has been revealed.

It might also be an incredible energy booster. When a group of international rowing champions took it, one of them beat a world record.

It's been developed by Kieran Clarke, professor of physiological biochemistry at Oxford University and head of its Cardiac Metabolism Research Group, at the behest of the U.S. Army.

Equally amazing is that the drink doesn't involve a new drug but contains something our bodies produce all the time.

This key ingredient is ketones the tiny, but powerful sources of energy our bodies make naturally when we start using up our fat stores for energy because there are no carbohydrates around.

We all have slightly raised ketone levels before breakfast because we haven't eaten for a while. And if you fast for a few days or go on an Atkins-type high-fat diet, your body will start pumping out ketones. They are nature's way of keeping you supplied with energy especially your brain and muscles.

The clever trick Professor Clarke has pulled off is to have found a way to make ketones in the lab. This means that instead of having to follow difficult you can just add ketones to a normal diet in the form of the drink.

It's a radical new approach, which flies in the face of more than 30 years of advice that a low-fat diet with lots of carbohydrates is the best way to lose weight, treat diabetes and protect your heart.

It also raises questions about the demonising of diets like Atkins, which are blamed for causing constipation and kidney failure.

Ketones are the reason why high-fat diets such as Atkins seem to work so well. Without the energy from carbohydrates, your body starts releasing stored fat, which the liver turns into ketones for energy.

The pounds drop off faster than with a low-fat diet because you are actively burning up stored fat. But there are other benefits of these ketogenic diets, as they are called. Blood sugar levels come down because you are eating hardly any carbohydrates.

In the first trial Professor Clarke has run on humans with diabetes, completed within the past few months, the effects were also impressive. In the week-long study, eight people with diabetes had three ketone drinks a day as well as their normal diet.

As with the rats, their weight dropped, but so did their glucose levels, cholesterol and the amount of fat in the blood. The amount of exercise they did went up as they had more energy. However, the study was small and as yet unpublished.

The Drink has its roots in ketogenic diets, which are designed to raise ketone production. One medical area where a very high-fat ketogenic diet is used as standard treatment is in childhood epilepsy.

Professor Clarke had been working on ketones as a high energy source for more than a decade when she approached DARPA, who funded the research that allowed her to discover a way to make ketones in the lab.

"No one had done it before," the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.

"We called it DeltaG, which is the biochemical name for energy, but also has a military ring to it Delta Force and all," she said.

She tried the new compound on rats and found it boosted physical and mental performance.
But that wasn't all. The rats became much healthier. They lost body fat, had lower levels of triglycerides (fatty acids) in their blood and lower blood sugar levels. There were no signs of harmful side-effects.

So how does a drink that adds ketones help you lose weight if you're not burning fat to produce those ketones in the first place?

It is because ketones make you less hungry they damp down hunger centres in the brain. This means you eat less and so you have the same weight loss as on a high-fat diet.

Nov 27
5 tips to prevent 'square eyes' from too much tech use
Looking at a computer, tablet or smartphone screen for longer hours may ruin your eyesight, says experts who have also suggested five tips to prevent it.

A recent research by body+soul and OPSM has found Nearly 60 per cent of Australians spend up to eight hours a day looking at a screen, reported.

If you spend a lot of time using a computer, dim lighting can help minimise eyestrain. To protect from this experts have suggested to use dimmer bulbs and to position your screen so that you do not have direct window light in front or behind it.

A study from the SUNY State College of Optometry in New York found that smartphone users hold their devices closer to their face than they would hold a book, forcing the eyes to work harder.

As a solution to this problem, smartphone users are advised to minimise the strain by using a font that's easy to read, such as Verdana 12-point, on all devices.

Spending more than two hours a day on a tablet may also put pressure on your neck, shoulders, arms and hands, so experts have suggested using a desktop for longer jobs.

Low contrast text and backgrounds tire the eyes while reading dark text on a light background is easiest.

The bright lights and sharp movements in video games force your eyes to focus and refocus constantly, which causes eyestrain.

Look away for 10 seconds every 10 minutes, use an anti-glare screen, blink often and position your screen below eye level to avoid this, experts added.

Nov 27
Why dietary minerals are important for good health
Dietary minerals are inorganic elements necessary for building strong bones and teeth, blood, skin, hair, nerve function, muscle, metabolic processes; basically for overall maintenance of bodily functions.

Different amounts of these minerals are required on a daily basis. Those minerals that require higher intake are known as macro-minerals or major minerals and those that are needed in smaller amounts are known as micro-minerals or trace elements.

Minerals are found naturally in foods but sometimes supplements in the form of pills and foods which have been fortified and enriched with minerals can be taken under medical supervision to counter deficiency.

Macro minerals:

Calcium: It is needed for promoting strong bones, blood clotting, muscle contraction and the transmission of nerve signals. Excessive calcium may lead to stone formation and tissue hardening.

Calcium is found in dairy products like yogurt, cheese and milk; fishes like sardines, tuna and salmon and green vegetables like spinach, broccoli.

Adults age 19-50 need 1,000 milligrams/day and adults age 51 and up: 1,200 milligrams/day

Potassium: It is important for maintaining normal fluid balance and functioning of muscle and nervous system. It also helps in controlling blood pressure and reducing the risk of kidney stones.

Foods that are rich in Potassium are sweet potatoes, bananas, tomatoes, broccoli, oranges, beans and legumes, green vegetables, yogurt, yellowfin tuna and soybeans.

An average adult needs 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day and breastfeeding women need 5,100 milligrams/day.

Magnesium: It helps in transmission of nerve impulses, body temperature regulation, detoxification, carbohydrate metabolism and the formation of healthy bones and teeth.

Magnesium deficiency symptoms include hyperexcitability, dizziness, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, fatigue and irregular heartbeat.

Green leafy vegetables, avocados, bananas, legumes, tofu and other soy products, brown rice, beans, Brazil nuts, almonds and quinoa are good sources of magnesium.

Pregnant women require 350-360 milligrams/day; breastfeeding women: 310-320 milligrams/day; for adult men age 19-30: 400 milligrams/day; adult men age 31 and up: 420 milligrams/day; adult women age 19-30: 310 milligrams/day; adult women age 31 and up: 320 milligrams/day

Sodium: It is helpful in maintaining bodily fluid balance but the intake should be minimal as it raises blood pressure.

Tomatoes, pickled foods, table salt, salted meats, nuts, butter, and processed foods are good sources of sodium.

Adults from age 19-50 need 1500 milligrams/day, adults age 51-70: 1,300 milligrams/day and adults age 71 and up: 1,200 milligrams/day.

Chloride along with sodium helps in maintaining body fluid balance. It also aids digestion process.

Chloride is found in salt, tomatoes, rye, olives, egg yolk, coconut, milk products, green leafy vegetables, radish, lentils and rice.

Lack of it may cause loss of appetite, muscle weakness, lethargy, dehydration and alkalosis. High intake may lead to symptoms such as acid-base (pH) imbalance, fluid retention, and high blood pressure.

Phosphorus helps in bone growth, cell functioning and muscular activity. Deficiency can lead to weak bones or teeth, joint pain and stiffness, less energy and lack of appetite.

Foods rich in phosphorus are pulses, cereals, milk, eggs, meat and peas.

An average adult needs 700 milligrams/day; adults up to age 70: 4,000 milligrams/day; adults over age 70: 3,000 milligrams/day; pregnant women: 3500 milligrams/day; breastfeeding women: 4,000 milligrams/day.

Trace or micro minerals: Iron: It is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, myoglobin and many enzymes. Iron deficiency leads to anemia resulting in fatigue and lack of coordination of mind and body. Overdose of iron supplements can cause iron poisoning.

Foods like like red meat, eggs, beans, dried fruits like raisins, potato, broccoli, lentils and wheat are rich in iron.

Men in general need 8 milligrams/day; women age 19-50: 18 milligrams/day; women age 51 and up: 8 milligrams/day; pregnant women: 27 milligrams/day; breastfeeding women: 9 milligrams/day.

Zinc helps in maintaining the body`s immunity and nerve function and is important in reproduction. Lack of zinc in diet leads to a condition called Hypozincemia, wherein sufficient zinc is unavailable for metabolic needs.

Foods that are rich in Zinc are red meat, legumes like peas, beans and peanuts.

RDA for men is 11 milligrams/day; women: 8 milligrams/day; pregnant women: 11 milligrams/day; breastfeeding women: 12 milligrams/day.

Iodine: It regulates the functioning of thyroid gland which produces hormones essential for metabolic processes in the body.

Iodine deficiency causes goiter in which the thyroid gland becomes enlarged.
Foods rich in iodine are egg yolk, pineapple, citrus fruits, turnip, garlic, all sea foods, processed foods and iodized salt.

Adults: 150 micrograms/day; pregnant women: 220 micrograms/day; breastfeeding women: 290 micrograms/day.

Fluorine: It is important for the formation of strong teeth and stimulates the growth of bone.

Ground water, some sea fishes, toothpastes and mouth rinses contain fluorine. Excess fluorine is toxic.

Adult men need 4 milligrams/day; adult women (including pregnant and breastfeeding): 3 milligrams/day.

Manganese: Important in forming bones and enzyme functions. Deficiency may cause joint pain, inflammation, arthritis, bursitis and dermatitis.

Foods rich in manganese are beans and other legumes, tea, spelt grain, brown rice, spinach, pineapple, rye, soybean, thyme, raspberry, strawberry, garlic, squash, eggplant, cloves, cinnamon and turmeric.

Adult male requires 2.3 milligrams/day; adult women: 1.8 milligrams/day; pregnant women: 2.0 milligrams/day; breastfeeding women: 2.6 milligrams/day.

Selenium helps protect cells from damage and controls the activity of thyroid hormone. It can also prevent cancer.

Selenium in found in Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, fish like tuna, halibut, sardine, flounder, salmon; shellfish, meat, eggs, mushrooms, grains and onion.
Adults: 55 micrograms/day; pregnant women: 60 micrograms/day; breastfeeding women: 70 micrograms/day.

Chromium:It helps in regulating blood sugar levels and also metabolizes carbohydrates.

Foods rich in chromium are poultry, meat, fish, whole grain, cheese and brewer's yeast.

Adult women age 19-50 need 25 micrograms/day; adult women age 51 and up: 20 micrograms/day; pregnant women: 30 micrograms/day; breastfeeding women: 45 micrograms/day; adult men age 19-50: 35 micrograms/day and adult men age 51 and up: 30 micrograms/day.

Copper is important for the metabolism of iron and is used by the body to produce many redox enzymes.

Rich sources of copper are sea foods, mushroom, spinach, seeds, nuts, wheat bran cereals and whole grains.

An adult requires 900 micrograms/day; pregnant women: 1,000 micrograms/day; breastfeeding women: 1,300 micrograms/day.

Nov 26
5 reasons to say yes to Aloe Vera this winter
Since times immemorial, the wonder plant aloe vera has served as a miraculous solution to a plethora of health problems. And now in the modern age too, nutritionists and health researchers have explored the vital essence of this herb. Aloe vera is a versatile plant which can be an answer to a lot of your ailments and that too without any side effects.

As a non-toxin, succulent plant which is widely grown as an ornamental plant, it is gaining popularity as a medicinal plant owing to its numerous health benefits.

Read on as to why you should include this wonder plant in your garden to avail of its advantages.

Benefits for skincare: Aloe vera has wonder benefits when it comes to skin as just by rubbing little amount of aloe vera gel will leave a perfect glow on your skin that you always longed for. It also provides relieve from sunburn. Not just this, it is also helpful in curing blisters, insect bites eczema etcetra.

Helps cure digestive problems: Aloe vera juice helps a lot in detoxifying thereby improving the digestion process. Aloe vera juice and gel both help in fighting constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn and any other digestive tract irritations naturally as they are both good laxatives.

Helps improve immunity: Aloe vera plant is a rich source of vitamins like Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C and E, Folic Acid and Niacin. So, consuming aloe vera daily enhances body defense system thereby protecting you from any kind of oxidative stress.

Helps cure diabetes: Aloe vera when consumed either in the form of juice or gel, serves as a traditional remedy to cure diabetes as it aids in steadying blood sugar levels.

Cure for acne: Aloe vera plant has anti-inflammatory properties that help cure acne and pimple problems. When applied on the affected area, it heals the scars to some extent and reduces the redness. Aloe vera juice can be applied directly to the skin through gels, creams and lotions to cure acne.

Warning: It is recommended to take advice of medical professional or a dietician before taking aloe internally. Also, aloe vera supplements are not recommended for women who are pregnant or lactating.

Nov 26
Arty teens may become more depressed: Study
Teens involved in activities such as music, drama and painting after school may become more depressed or sadder than peers who are not so inclined, says a new study.

"This is not to say that depression is a necessary condition for either a teen or an adult to become an artist, nor are we showing that participating in the arts leads to mental illness," said Laura N. Young, from Boston College, who led the study.

"However, previous research has revealed higher rates of mental illness symptoms in adult artists. We were interested in whether this association is present earlier in development," added Young, the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts reports.

While girls were more likely to take part in the arts after school and reported somewhat greater degree of blues than boys, the study found that both boys and girls involved in arts reported more depressive symptoms than those who were not involved in these extracurricular activities, according to a Boston statement.
Teens involved exclusively in sports were the least likely to report depressive symptoms. However, there was no difference in depressive symptoms between teens involved in the arts who also did sports and teens involved in the arts who did not also participate in sports.

This suggests that arts participation rather than a lack of sports participation was linked with depression, the authors said.

Researchers looked at US teens` involvement in art activities in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010 using data from the US. Longitudinal Survey of Youth, collected from 2,482 students aged between 15 and 16 years.

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