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Mar 31
An apple a day may not keep the doctor away, study says
An apple a day doesn't necessarily keep the doctor away. That's according to proverb-busting research that found daily apple eaters had just as many doctor visits as those who ate fewer or no apples.

The findings don't mean apples aren't good for you but they do underscore that it takes more than just one kind of food to make a healthy diet and avoid illness.

About one-third of the adults studied said they had no more than one doctor visit in the previous year; the remainder reported at least two visits.

A preliminary analysis found apple eaters had slightly fewer visits than apple avoiders, those who ate less than one daily or no apples. But that difference disappeared when the researchers considered weight, race, education, health insurance and other factors that can influence frequency of medical visits.

Mar 30
Mix lettuce varieties to gain maximum health benefits
Mixing lettuce varieties could help provide protection against the chain reactions of free radicals, molecules that can cause cell damage and generate various diseases, suggests a study.

The findings, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, said that mixing lettuce, one of the indispensable vegetables in the Mediterranean diet, could be a good idea as not all lettuce varieties have the same antioxidant effect.

The researchers from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) in Spain and the University of Pisa in Italy analysed the compounds of three lettuce varieties: the green-leaf 'Batavia', the semi-red-leaf 'Marvel of Four Seasons', and the red-leaf 'Oak Leaf'.

Using Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) techniques, they were able to observe the behaviour of the speed (kinetics) of the antioxidant compounds of each variety.

The results showed that the green-leaf lettuce contains water-soluble, antioxidant compounds that act at a slow and intermediate speed, the red-leaf one has compounds with intermediate and rapid kinetics, and the semi-red-leaf one has three kinds of compounds, with a rapid, intermediate and slow speed.

"The fact that there are compounds that act at different speeds does not mean that some are better or worse than others," said Usue Perez-Lopez, researcher at UPV/EHU.

It is also important that our bodies should acquire foods with antioxidants that have slower kinetics so that the latter will continue to act over a longer period of time.

"That is why people say that it is very interesting to mix different types of lettuce because they have different, complementary characteristics," Perez-Lopez added.

Free radicals harm our body by causing, in the best of cases, ageing and, in the worse, serious diseases.

Lettuce is rich in antioxidants, as it contains compounds like phenolic acids, flavonoids, anthocyanins, and vitamins A and C, among other things, the researchers said.

Mar 28
Older people should keep moving to stay moving
A new study has revealed that exercise may help keep seniors moving longer, despite old age brain decline.

Many older people have small areas of damage in their brains seen on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as white matter hyperintensities. Higher levels of this damage have been linked to more problems with movement, such as difficulty walking, but this new study found that people who were the most physically active did not have a drop-off in their movement abilities, even when they had high levels of brain damage.

Author Debra A. Fleischman of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago said that these results underscore the importance of efforts to encourage a more active lifestyle in older people to prevent movement problems, which is a major public health challenge, adding that physical activity may create a 'reserve' that protects motor abilities against the effects of age-related brain damage.

Fleischman noted that the study does not determine whether physical activity causes people to preserve their movement abilities; it only shows the association.

The study is published in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Mar 27
Women urged to exercise more to prevent heart disease
A new survey has suggested that women should do regular exercise as physical inactivity is the biggest risk factor for heart disease in women over the age of 30.

The Heart Foundation survey on the exercise habits, found that 24 per cent of male students did 60 minutes or more of exercise a day, compared to 11 per cent of females, News.com.au reported.

Trevor Shilton, Heart Foundation spokesman said that women who exercise enough to cause sweating or a faster heart beat for 30 minutes five times a week, were up to 35 per cent less likely to suffer from heart disease, strokes or blood clots.

Shilton added that there were certain times in a woman's life like in late teens and after having children when she went through more at risk of cutting out exercise due to study and work pressures.

Mar 25
Men who exercise more have better erectile and sexual function
Washington: A new study has examined that men who exercise more have better erectile and sexual function, regardless of race.

The study conducted at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is the first to link the benefits of exercise in relation to improved erectile and sexual function in a racially diverse group of patients.

Nearly 300 study participants self-reported their activity levels, which researchers then categorized as sedentary, mildly active, moderately active or highly active. The subjects also self-reported their sexual function, including the ability to have erections, orgasms, the quality and frequency of erections and overall sexual function.

Results found that men who reported more frequent exercise, a total of 18 metabolic equivalents, or METS, per week, had higher sexual function scores, regardless of race. MET hours reflect both the total time of exercise and the intensity of exercise. A total of 18 METS can be achieved by combining exercises with different intensities, but is the equivalent of two hours of strenuous exercise, such as running or swimming, 3.5 hours of moderate exercise, or six hours of light exercise.

Stephen Freedland, MD, co-author on the study and director of the Center for Integrated Research in Cancer and Lifestyle in the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, cautions that exercise should be tailored for each individual.

Freedland added that when it came to exercise, there was no one-size-fits-all approach, however, they were confident that even some degree of exercise, even if less intense, was better than no exercise at all.

The study is published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Mar 24
Soaring antibiotic use in animals fuels "super bug" fears
Developing countries are pumping livestock full of antibiotics at such a startling rate that they are dramatically increasing the risk of creating drug-resistant "super bugs", scientists warned on Monday.

Antibiotic use in animals is expected to surge by two thirds globally between 2010 and 2030, while doubling in emerging giants like China, Brazil, India and Russia, according to a Princeton University study.

It warned that the practice is pushing us closer to a time when common infections could become a death sentence because they will no longer respond to drugs.

Consumption of meat, milk and eggs is growing fast in many developing and middle-income countries.

Urbanisation, increased wealth and changing diets mean industrial livestock producers are expanding rapidly.

They are relying on antibiotics to keep disease at bay in the short-term, said co-author Tim Robinson, a scientist with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

But the systematic use of low doses on livestock is creating "perfect conditions to grow resistant bacteria", he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Bacteria like E. coli and salmonella are already becoming resistant to antibiotics, Robinson said, increasing fears that these diseases will endanger humans.

Passed from animals to people through food contamination, direct contact or the broader environment, antibiotic resistant bacteria will make it harder for doctors to treat basic infections or other ailments, he said.

The study by experts from Princeton, ILRI and the National Institutes of Health is the first to measure global antibiotic consumption by livestock.

Asia is the main region of concern as this is where demand for livestock products is growing dramatically while regulations governing antibiotic use in animals are either non-existent or not publicly available, scientists say.

China`s livestock industry alone could soon be consuming nearly one third of the world`s antibiotics.

The five countries with the largest projected increases in antibiotics consumption are Myanmar (205 percent), Nigeria (163 percent), Peru (160 percent) and Vietnam (157 percent).

Increasing food production for the estimated 805 million people who go to bed hungry every night will require a new approach that is less reliant on intensive, antibiotic-fuelled breeding, Robinson said.

"Poor livestock producers aren`t responsible for this problem, it`s the big firms rushing to meet demand in the growing cities," he added.

But the poor will be worst affected if resistant bacteria transfer to humans more often, he said, because they will be the least able to afford the bigger and more frequent doses of drugs required to fight infections.

Mar 19
Australian research brings malaria vaccine closer
A team of Australian researchers are a step closer to finding a vaccine to prevent malaria, after discovering patterns in the human immune system that help fight the disease in its early stages.

The team from the Burnet Institute in Melbourne collaborated with universities from Australia, Britain and Africa to develop the research over a 10-year period, Xinhua news agency reported.

The study, published in the medical journal Immunity, concluded that the human immune system can trigger a response that calls upon proteins in red blood cells, and the head of the Burnet Institute's biomedical research centre, James Beeson, said that this development could be used in creating a vaccine for the disease.

"The immune system needs to produce specific antibodies and they are proteins that the immune system produces that combat infections," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Wednesday.

"Those antibodies recognise the malaria infection or parasites as we call them. Then they need to recruit these other proteins that are in the bloodstream, known as complement proteins.

"And then the two together -- the antibodies and the complement -- perform a double hit on the malaria infection and stop it from getting inside red blood cells, and therefore stopping the infection and the subsequent disease.

"We're hoping that this new knowledge opens up a new strategy to generate or develop highly effective vaccines."

Researchers have been seeking a vaccine for the disease for decades, but this natural development in the human immune system brings the chances of a vaccine that much closer.

Malaria is one of the world's biggest killers. In Africa alone, more than 600,000 people die of this each year, and Beeson said the research was a huge step towards eliminating the disease worldwide.

"Despite recent advances in malaria control and prevention globally, it remains a huge burden and a vaccine is desperately needed," he said in a statement.

Beeson said that a "double blow" knockout punch was required to kill the disease, as malaria can adapt to fight off drugs used to treat it.

He said the results were encouraging, but there was much work still to be done.

"There are still a number of questions to address before we can develop a highly effective vaccine," he said.

Mar 18
Emotions can dictate how you eat
A new book has observed that emotions can dictate how you eat and also demonstrates what kind of eater one is.

Hypnotherapist Marisa Peer in her new book suggests that there are different kinds of eaters like one can be an emotional eater or a habitual eater or a destructive eater or an angry eater, the Daily Express reported.

Emotional eaters find temporary relief from loneliness, boredom and sadness when they fill their stomachs with refined carbohydrates. The feeling of fullness from eating soft, sweet foods such as cake and ice cream leads to a temporary feeling of satisfaction and calmness.

Habitual eaters will eat whenever they are given the opportunity, without being aware of whether they are actually hungry.

Destructive eaters often feel uncomfortable if they are not in control of their own eating, whereas, angry eaters like crunchy or chewy foods because they find chewing hard helpful when they are feeling tense or wound up.

Mar 17
Energy drinks raise resting blood pressure
Energy drinks may increase the risk of cardiac events, warns a new study.

Healthy young adults who don't consume caffeine regularly experienced a greater rise in resting blood pressure after consumption of a commercially available energy drink - compared to a placebo drink, researchers found.

We know that energy drink consumption is widespread and rising among young people. "We and others have previously shown that energy drinks increase blood pressure," said lead study author Anna Svatikova from the Mayo Clinic.

"Now we are seeing that for those not used to caffeine, the concern may be even greater," Svatikova added.

In the study, researchers alternately gave a can of a commercially available energy drink or a placebo drink to 25 healthy young adults, age 19 to 40, and assessed changes in heart rate and blood pressure.

Blood pressure and heart rate were recorded before and 30 minutes after energy drink/placebo drink consumption, and were also compared between caffeine-naive participants (those consuming less than 160 mg of caffeine per day) and regular caffeine users.

Participants experienced a marked rise in blood pressure after consuming the energy drink as compared to the placebo.

The effect was most dramatic in people who did not typically consume much caffeine, researchers found.

Overall, the blood pressure increase was more than doubled in caffeine naive adults after consuming the energy drink versus placebo, they found.

Consumers should use caution when using energy drinks because they may increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, even among young people," Svatikova said.

The study is scheduled to be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 64th Annual Scientific Session in San Diego on March 14.

Mar 13
Eating at 'right' time key to healthy heart
A new study has revealed that eating at the right time is as important as what the person is eating in order to maintain a healthy heart.

Researchers at San Diego State University and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies found that by limiting the time span during which fruit flies could eat, they could prevent aging-and diet-related heart problems.

The researchers also discovered that genes responsible for the body's circadian rhythm are integral to this process, but they're not yet sure how.

Previous research has found that people who tend to eat later in the day and into the night have a higher chance of developing heart disease than people who cut off their food consumption earlier.

The researchers also sequenced the RNA of the flies at various points in the experiment to find which of their genes had changed as a result of time-restricted feeding.

They identified three genetic pathways that appear to be involved: the TCP-1 ring complex chaperonin, which helps proteins fold; mitochondrial electron transport chain complexes (mETC); and a suite of genes responsible for the body's circadian rhythm.

Girish Melkani, a biologist at SDSU whose research focuses on cardiovascular physiology was optimistic that the results could one day translate into cardiac- and obesity-related health benefits for humans.

The study is published in Science.