September 2008 Healthwatch
Stay up-to-date on the latest health and nutrition information with Virtual Health Info's monthly HealthWatch bulletin, America's premier source for health information. The September issue of HealthWatch features the following articles:The Importance Of Strong Immunity and National Cancer Institute Encourages Eating Blue And Purple Fruits And Vegetables
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The Importance Of Strong Immunity
When the seasons change from summer to fall and children go back to school, the chances of getting a cold are increased. That's why it's important to do all we can to stay healthy and fit by bolstering the body's defenses.
The body's defenses are influenced by the strength of our immunity. The strength of our immune system determines our ability to resist infection and suppress the growth of abnormal cells. It's the key to fighting every kind of insult to the body; from those little scratches kids get on the playground to the massive amount of viruses that constantly try to invade us. Even the aging process may be related to deteriorating immunity.
Several factors reduce the strength of our immune system such as poor nutrition, stress, environmental pollutants, and overexposure to the intake of drugs and chemicals from processed foods. Click here for more information.
Obesity Rates Rise to Epidemic Proportions and the Consequences are Serious - What Can We Do?
Despite the flood of information available to Americans on the risks of being overweight, obesity has risen to epidemic proportions in the last 20 years. Obesity is defined as having a high amount of body fat with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. With the trend of obesity elevating to this extent, it threatens to overtake tobacco as the No. 1 preventable cause of death.
One of the main concerns surrounding obesity can be expressed by this fact: an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 deaths per year may be attributed to obesity. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, being even moderately overweight (10 to 20 pounds for a person of average height) increases the risk of death, particularly among adults between the ages of 30 to 64 years. People who fall into the obese category have a 50 to 100% increased risk of an early death from all causes, compared to people with a healthy weight.
The number of specific diseases associated with being overweight and obese is vast. Being obese raises one’s chances of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and elevated triglycerides (blood fat) while lowering HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol).
In adults, a mere 11 to 18 pound increase in weight increases a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Also, type 2 diabetes, previously known as adult-onset diabetes, has dramatically increased in children because of the rising weight levels in our younger population. Other diseases that are impacted by weight are some types of cancer (such as endometrial, breast, prostate and colon), asthma, and arthritis.
The good news is that in most cases, diagnosing and combating being overweight and obese is simple and the rewards are great. It does not require extensive medical tests, repeated doctor visits, and strange treatment modalities. Even losing just 10% of your body weight can have a positive impact on your health.
References: U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
What is body mass index (BMI)?
Body mass index, or BMI, is a new term to most people. However, it is the measurement of choice for many physicians and researchers studying obesity. BMI uses a mathematical formula that takes into account both a person’s weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. (BMI+kg/m2).
How can one determine their own BMI?
Visit the Centers for Disease Control website to use their BMI calculator.
Tea Rich Catechins Leads to Reduction in Body Fat
A 12 week double-blind study was performed in which the subjects ingested varying levels of catechin-rich teas.
It concluded that daily consumption of tea containing 690 mg catechins for 12 weeks reduced body fat, which suggests that the intake of catechins might be useful in the prevention and improvement of lifestyle-related diseases, mainly obesity. More research in this area would be helpful in confirming these findings. For more information go to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 81, 2005.
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Herbal Blend Containing Guarana Helps Delay Gastric Emptying and Induce Weight Loss
In a recent multi-faceted research project including a double-blind placebo-controlled study, an herbal preparation including guarana significantly delayed gastric emptying reducing the time a person perceives gastric fullness. The preparation also induced significant weight loss over a 45 day period of time in overweight patients treated in a primary health care context. Because of the positive results for overweight individuals, the researchers are recommending further clinical studies be conducted. Source: The Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Volume 14, June 2001.
Yoga Benefits Weight Maintenance and Weight Loss
In a 2005 study, published in the Alternative Therapies in Health Medicine, researchers found that overweight people in their 50s who regularly practice yoga lost about five pounds over 10 years, while a group in the same age range gained about 13 1/2 pounds over the same time period. The conclusion of the study stated that "Regular yoga practice was associated with attenuated weight gain, most strongly among individuals who were overweight. Although causal inference from this observational study is not possible, results are consistent with the hypothesis that regular yoga practice can benefit individuals who wish to maintain or lose weight." For more information go to the journal Alternative Therapies in Health Medicine, Volume 11, 2005.
Cancer-Fighting Benefits of Exercise
WASHINGTON - According to experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), regular physical exercise prompts a series of changes within the human body that actively fight cancer. By studying these changes, researchers have begun to isolate how and why physical activity seems to lower cancer risk. "For almost fifty years we've known that regular exercise protects against heart disease," said Edward Giovannucci, M.D., Sc.D., of the Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health. "The studies coming in now point to a similar protective effect against cancer, especially colon cancer. Laboratory studies and clinical trials are helping us understand the physiological changes that occur in the body of a person who exercised regularly.
A 1997 AICR report, Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, reviewed the effect of exercise upon cancers occurring at specific body sites. Additional studies are currently underway into the possible link between exercise and lowered risk of colon, breast, prostate and other cancers.
Source: Natural Products Industry, Insider®, Volume 5, No. 2, February 7, 2000
Trace Elements Help Major Burn Patients
According to a recent prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled trial involving 21 burn patients, it was determined that trace element supplementation was associated with higher circulating plasma and skin tissue contents of selenium and zinc which improved antioxidant status. These changes were associated with improved clinical outcome, including fewer pulmonary infections and enhanced wound healing. For more information go to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 85, May 2007. Click here for more information.
Eating Veggies Linked to Cognitive Health
A study published in Neurology had concluded that high amounts of vegetable consumption may be associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline in older people. The Rush Institute on Healthy Aging reported that eating three portions of leafy green, yellow, and cruciferous vegetables can slow the loss of mental function as people age, possibly by as much as 40 percent. Fruits were a part of the study, but had little to no effect on cognitive decline. Researchers theorize that is due to vegetables having a higher vitamin E content than fruit. Read More.
Major Health Organization Promotes Fruit And Vegetable Consumption To Help Prevent Obesity And Other Chronic Diseases
Recently the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations specialized agency for health, announced a new campaign to promote greater consumption of fruits and vegetables. The WHO has taken the position that sufficient daily intake of fruits and vegetables could help prevent obesity and other major chronic diseases.
White House Pushes Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently wrote the Agriculture and Health and Human Services (HHS) departments urging them to revise current guidelines to distinguish between harmful trans fats that increase the risk of heart disease and beneficial fats such as omega-3 fatty acids that can lower the risk. Trans fats are typically found in margarines, cooking oils and hidden oils found in processed foods. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in flaxseed oil, flaxseed, olive oil, and fish. The recommendation comes just as officials at HHS and the Agriculture Department prepare to begin writing new food and nutrition guidelines.
High Cholesterol and Hypertension May Put Individuals At An Increased Risk Of Alzheimer's
According to researchers, middle-aged individuals with elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure may be at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease later in life. A review of 1,400 patient medical records conducted at the University of Kuopio in Finland found that adults who had high cholesterol and high systolic blood pressure were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. According to researcher Dr. Miia Kivipelto, "Now we have more reason to pay attention to proper treatment of hypertension and hypercholesterolemia (elevated cholesterol)." "Not only do you reduce your chances of, say, heart attack, but you also can reduce your chances of getting Alzheimer's disease."
Source: British Medical Journal 2001; 322: 1447-1451
American Diabetes Alert...Reduce Your Risk
You could be at risk for diabetes. More than 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease and an estimated 5.4 million have diabetes and don't know it. If you are overweight, unfit, have high blood pressure or a family history of diabetes you could be at risk. By taking good care of ourselves with healthy eating and consistent exercise, we can lower the chances of getting diabetes as well as aim at a better quality of life.
Heart Diet Guidelines - General Population
A healthy eating pattern includes foods from all food groups. You don't have to eliminate anything you can't live without, but you shouldn't indulge in excess. The major guidelines under this category are: 1) consume a variety of fruits and vegetables and grain products, including whole grains, and 2) include fat-free and low-fat dairy products, fish, legumes, poultry, and lean meats.
Studies Find Scores Of Toxic Chemicals Common In US Population
Two recent studies, one conducted by New York's Mt. Sinai Hospital and another by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), found that the presence of a wide variety of toxic chemicals in people's bodies is universal in our society. In the Mt. Sinai's study, nine environmentally conscious people were tested for industrial compounds, pollutants and other chemicals. A total of 167 chemicals, including heavy metals, phosphates, dioxins, chlorine, insecticides and PCB's were found present across the entire group. These chemicals have been linked to cancers, birth defects and nervous system damage. The CDC study tested a larger and more representative sample of 5,000 random Americans. It measured 116 harmful chemicals, some of which were heavy metals, solvents, insecticides, PCB's and plasticizing agents called phthalates. Their findings found a decline in lead levels and a dangerous chemical byproduct of tobacco smoke compared to previous studies. However, some of their findings showed that, compared to adults, children have higher levels of certain pesticides, cotinine, and chemicals used in soft plastic toys and personal care products.