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Jan 29
Green leafy vegetable intake lessens risk of glaucoma
A recent study says that leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and kale and nitrate-rich vegetables are associated with lowering the risk of primary open-angle glaucoma by 20 to 30 percent.

Glaucoma is a condition which can affect sight, usually due to build up of pressure within the eye because fluid cannot drain away.

This new study found people who ate a nitrate-rich diet had lower levels of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), a rare condition which involves chronic or acute sudden painful build-up of pressure in the eye.

The researchers followed up participants biennially in the prospective cohorts of the Nurses' Health Study (63,893 women; 1984-2012) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (41,094 men; 1986-2012). Eligible participants were 40 years or older, were free of POAG, and reported eye examinations. Information on diet was updated with questionnaires.

During follow-up, 1,483 incident cases of POAG were identified. Participants were divided into quintiles (one of five groups) of dietary nitrate intake (quintile 5, approximately 240 mg/d; quintile 1, approximately 80 mg/d). The researchers found that greater intake of dietary nitrate and green leafy vegetables was associated with a 20 percent to 30 percent lower POAG risk; the association was particularly strong (40 percent-50 percent lower risk) for POAG with early paracentral visual field loss (a subtype of POAG linked to dysfunction in blood flow autoregulation).

The study has been published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Jan 28
Early puberty may put women at diabetes risk
Women who began having menstrual cycles at a younger age are at a greater risk of developing gestational diabetes that can cause babies to develop Type-2 diabetes, reveals a study.

The study focuses specifically at menarche -- beginning of puberty and myriad hormonal changes in the body -- and gestational diabetes -- that begins or is first recognised during pregnancy, the researchers said.

Early menarche is also associated with higher levels of estrogen in adulthood, and other hormone imbalances are associated with an increased risk of gestational diabetes, the study said.

When menarche began at age 11 compared to age 14, women had a 39 percent higher risk of developing gestational diabetes, the study showed.

"This new finding could mean that doctors will begin asking women when they had their first period to determine their risk of developing gestational diabetes," said lead author Liwei Chen, assistant professor at the Clemson University in South Carolina, US.

Those affected may represent a high-risk population and should be targeted for prevention programs, the researchers warned.

Gestational diabetes affects up to seven percent of pregnant women. An increased risk, although lower, also occurred when menarche began at 12 and 13, the findings, published in the journal Diabetes Care, revealed.

Good weight control before pregnancy might help to reduce the gestational diabetes risk among those women, the researchers suggested.

The study followed more than 27,000 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study II.

Jan 27
Texting at night is bad for teens' sleep, studies
A recent US study has found that teenagers who continue to text on their phones after turning off the lights for bedtime have poorer sleep and poorer grades than those who text with the lights on.

The new study, by Rutgers University, is the first of its kind to find an association specifically between nighttime texting and the sleep quality and school performance of American teens.

Led by Xue Ming, professor of neuroscience and neurology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, the team surveyed students at three diferent New Jersey area high schools.

A total of 1,537 surveys were completed and analyzed by the team to look at the length of text messages sent by respondents, whether messages were sent before or after the lights were turned off and the participants' school grades.

Results showed that students who stopped texting when the lights went out, or who texted for less than 30 minutes after the lights went out, slept for longer, felt less sleepy during the day, and performed better academically than those who continued to text for longer than 30 minutes.

When comparing boys to girls however, the study found that although girls text more and felt sleepier during the day than boys, they still outperformed then in school studies, which Ming believes is due to girls texting primarily before and not after turning off the light.

Ming explained that the negative effect on sleep once the lights go out is due to the effects of the "blue light" emitted from smartphones and tablets being intensified in the dark. This blue light delays the release of melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy and which is normally released around 9pm, meaning instead of going to bed and dropping off, you stay awake for longer. This blue light can also affect the release of melatonin even if it is emitted from the phone when eyelids are closed.

The delay in melatonin release could also be a factor in poorer school performance. "If a person keeps getting text messages with alerts and light emission, that also can disrupt his circadian rhythm", explained Ming, "Rapid Eye Movement sleep is the period during sleep most important to learning, memory consolidation and social adjustment in adolescents. When falling asleep is delayed but rising time is not, REM sleep will be cut short, which can affect learning and memory."

Ming suggested that not only should schools recognize the importance of sleep for teens and find a way to incorporate education on sleep into the school curriculum, but also noted that a later school start time could be beneficial.

The results of the study were published in the Journal of Child Neurology.

Jan 25
Weekend binges as bad as regular junk food
Sydney: If you are strict with your diet during the week and eat junk over the weekend, then maybe you are undoing all the good work done during the week.

Yo-yoing between eating well during the week and bingeing on junk food over the weekend is likely to be just as bad for your gut health as a consistent diet of junk, a new study warned.

The human gut consists of up to 100 trillion microbial cells that influence metabolism, nutrition and immune function. Disruption to the gut microbiota has been linked with gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and obesity.

"The study was the first to compare how continuous or intermittent exposure to an unhealthy diet can impact the composition of the gut microbiota," said lead author Margaret Morris from the University of New South Wales in Australia in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.

"The findings indicate that intermittent exposure to junk food three days a week is sufficient to extensively shift the gut microbiota towards the pattern seen in obese rats consuming the diet continuously," Morris added.

"A reduction in the diversity of the gut's microbiota and a loss of some of the beneficial biota is clearly not a good thing for health," Morris stated.

The study examined the impact of yo-yo dieting on the gut microbiota of rats.

The research team compared the abundance of microbiota in rats given continuous access to either a healthy diet or junk food with a group cycled between the two diets, healthy for four days and junk for three, over 16 weeks.

The study revealed that rats on the cycled diet were 18 percent heavier than those on the healthy diet, while leptin and insulin levels in cycled rats were in between rats fed junk or healthy food.

The microbiota of cycled rats was almost indistinguishable from rats fed a constant diet of junk, with both groups' microbiota significantly different from those in the rats fed a healthy diet, the researchers found.

Jan 23
How Aged Garlic Extract can protect your heart
Aged Garlic Extract can stop heart disease from progressing and in some cases, even reverse artery plaque accumulation, according to a new study.

The research, conducted at LA BioMed, found a reduction in the amount of low-attenuation plaque, or "soft plaque," in the arteries of patients with metabolic syndrome who took Aged Garlic Extract. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by obesity, hypertension and other cardiac risk factors.

This study is another demonstration of the benefits of this supplement in reducing the accumulation of soft plaque and preventing the formation of new plaque in the arteries, which can cause heart disease, said lead researcher Matthew J. Budoff.

Budoff noted that they have completed four randomized studies and they have led them to conclude that Aged Garlic Extract can help slow the progression of atherosclerosis and reverse the early stages of heart disease.

The study is scheduled for publication in the Journal of Nutrition.

Jan 22
Now, type more to cut-down blood pressure
If you are often nabbed by your parents for text messaging, then you must make them read this article as a new study has revealed that typing could help reduce blood pressure.

Researchers from University of Oxford have found that the high blood pressure is a common condition that can be managed successfully with tablets.

To prove the research, health workers used mobile phones linked to blood pressure measuring devices to collect health information about patients and text messaging was managed automatically using an affordable system developed by Oxford's Institute of Biomedical Engineering.

Professor Lionel Tarassenko from Oxford's Institute of Biomedical Engineering said that there was a great potential for mobile phone technology to help with the management of chronic diseases world-wide through automated messaging to the right person at the right time.

He added, through this study, that they have demonstrated that how this could be done in an area where large numbers of people are at risk because of uncontrolled blood pressure.

The study is published in the journal Circulation.

Jan 21
Anxiety can affect your walking direction
A new research has found that people, who experience anxiety and inhibition, have more activity in the right side of their brain which makes them to walk in a leftward trajectory.

Lead researcher Dr. Mario Weick at the University of Kent has for the first time linked the activation of the brain's two hemispheres with lateral shifts in people's walking trajectories.

In a study aimed at establishing why individuals display a tendency to allocate attention unequally across space, people were blindfolded and asked to walk in a straight line across a room towards a previously seen target.

The researchers found evidence that blindfolded individuals who displayed inhibition or anxiety were prone to walk to the left, indicating greater activation in the right hemisphere of the brain.

The research indicated that the brain's two hemispheres are associated with different motivational systems. These relate on the right side to inhibition and on the left to approach.

The findings may have implications for the treatment of unilateral neglect, which is a condition caused by a lack of awareness of one side of space. In particular, individuals suffering from right-sided neglect may benefit from interventions to reduce anxiety.

The study is published in the journal Cognition.

Jan 20
Exercise regularly to keep your heart healthy, live longer
Want to improve your heart health, and perhaps even live longer? Then exercise, for a new study suggests that regular physical activity can help reduce a person's risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

The study revealed that even small amount of physical activities, including standing, are linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, while more exercise leads to even greater reduction in risk of death from cardiovascular disease, a disease of the heart or blood vessels.

"The greatest benefit is to simply exercise, regardless of the intensity, while the danger is two-fold -- to not exercise at all or to exercise intensely, without due preparation," said Valentin Fuster, JACC Editor-in-Chief of American College of Cardiology in Washington, US.

Increasing the amount of moderate intensity exercise, a person engages in results in increased reductions in cardiovascular disease mortality, the finding revealed.

In this report, the researchers examined recent studies on the volume and intensity of aerobic exercise required for favourable cardiovascular health.

With the rise in participation in endurance races over the past three decades, they also addressed the question of whether or not there is an amount of exercise that increases cardiovascular disease risk.

"The available evidence should prompt clinicians to recommend strongly low and moderate exercise training for the majority of our patients," said Michael Scott Emery, co-chair of the American College of Cardiology Sports and Exercise Cardiology Council.

"Equally important are initiatives to promote population health at large through physical activity across the life span, as it modulates behaviour from childhood into adult life," he added.

The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Jan 19
Blueberries, red wine can help in erectile dysfunction
Flavonoid-rich foods are associated with a reduced risk of erectile dysfunction, says a new study.

Eating foods rich in certain flavonoids trims down the risk of erectile dysfunction in men, especially in those under 70, reveals a collaborative study from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in UK and Harvard University in the US.

A combination of consuming flavonoid-rich foods with exercise can reduce the risk by 21 percent, the researchers said.

"This is the first study to look at the association between flavonoids and erectile dysfunction, which affects up to half of all middle-aged and older men," said Aedin Cassidy, a professor from UEA.

The research shows that of all the different flavonoids, anthocyanins (found in blueberries, cherries, blackberries, radishes and blackcurrants), flavanones and flavones (found in citrus fruits) were found to offer the greatest benefits.

"The top sources of anthocyanins, flavones and flavanones consumed in the US are strawberries, blueberries, red wine, apples, pears and citrus products," Cassidy said.

Eating a flavonoid-rich diet is as good for erectile function as briskly walking for up to five hours a week, the findings, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed.

More than 50,000 middle-aged men were included in this large population based study.

Dating back to 1986, they were asked about their ability to have and maintain an erection sufficient for intercourse.

Jan 16
Influence of parents on their kid`s body dissatisfaction levels
The influence of Asian parents on their growing children's body dissatisfaction levels and disordered eating has revealed significant differences when compared with their Western counterparts, leading to calls for a tailored approach to treatment.

According to a study, negative comments made by mothers had more impact on their children's self-image regardless of gender, in a culture where fathers are more authoritative and mothers more nurturing than in the West.

This differs from Western studies in which comments made by mothers were more likely to influence daughters and fathers had more impact on sons.

It comes against a backdrop of growing numbers of children developing eating disorders in the island nation, with figures now on a par with the UK.

Although most prevalent in girls, a growing number of boys are being diagnosed with eating disorders. Currently, the Western approach to treatment is adopted in Singapore and across Asia. However, researchers argue that cultural differences mean that a more tailored approach is needed to educate parents and to treat young Asian people effectively.

The research team assessed questionnaire responses from 383 young adults, of whom 69 per cent were female. They looked at the impact of parental comments in relation to body weight, shape and eating habits.

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