Impressive Advancements In Nutrition

The great thing about advancements in technology is that many scientific studies can find groundbreaking information that would have been harder to reach otherwise. When it comes to the information that has been largely provided regarding nutrition, there are several discoveries that have given increased insight into what choices could be best.

Dark Chocolate Impacts Aging

While sugar has gotten more and more of a bad reputation as the years wear on, the presence of dark chocolate is one that actually provides so many benefits without the inordinate amount of sugar. Dark chocolate is known to thwart inflammation and can reverse the effects of oxidative stress on the system.

A recent study found that there is a specific flavanol within dark chocolate called epicatechin that can help the obvious processes of aging by damaging the oxidative stress that our bodies endure. The study was conducted on mice, and after having a certain amount of exposure to the flavanol, their memory improved as did their levels of anxiety. So having a bit of a treat at the end of the day isn’t a bad thing. It really depends on what you choose. Dark chocolate is a superb choice.

Cinnamon Lowers Blood Sugar

The problem of diabetes in this society has grown exponentially in the last 10 years. Our current diets, which put more focus on carbs and processed foods, become the impetus for the increased presence of diabetes. In order to combat this epidemic that is slowly getting out of control, it’s imperative to understand what items can potentially help control large blood sugar spikes. In a study that was conducted by Ohio Northern University it was found that the compounds within cinnamon actually have an enzyme that helps increase the signals that activate insulin.

So the presence of cinnamon is great for those who suffer from type 2 diabetes and can be a great tool to use in the management of the condition. While there is other types of medication specifically geared toward diabetes, it doesn’t hurt having natural aids at your disposal as well.

Food Prices And Increased Risk Of Obesity

One catalyst to health is what type of food people can afford and have access to. Poorly made, nutritionally vacant food is made exceedingly more accessible than food that has nutritious value and can properly fuel the body. In recent research from Los Angeles, California, global data was studied and it was found that there is a strong relationship between the existence and prevalence of obesity in women and the steady inflation of food prices that is seen on a widespread basis. In locations where people are on the lower spectrum of social-economic standing, they are susceptible to what are called food deserts. This means that these spaces only sell junk food at incredibly low prices.

The closest grocery store where fresh ingredients and healthy options are available is often nowhere nearby. This makes the ability to make healthy and better choices virtually impossible, which means they are forced to go the route of eating food that isn’t good for them, has high caloric mass, and contributes to weight gain. This is a recipe for disaster as this also makes them more prone to specific diseases.

Cinnamon: An Impressive Entity For Health

Research has shown that the spice known as cinnamon is a great thing to add to the diets of those who are dealing with obesity, insulin sensitivity and diabetes. Additional research now shows that the spice works really well in accordance with fat cells. The essential oil cinnamaldehyde, which gives the cinnamon its flavor, actually helps to burn away fat. The reason why this happens was previously not understood or well documented. Researchers at the University of Michigan had some questions about how this occurs and wanted a more complete understanding of this function so they set out to test how it happens.

One of the findings was that cinnamaldehyde helps to improve metabolic health by directly targeting the fat cells and inducing the process called thermogenesis, which is the process of burning these cells for energy. The study took various participants from differing ages, ethnicities and weights. When their cells came into contact with cinnamaldehyde, there was a noticeable increase in expression of many cells regarding an enhanced metabolism. There was also an increase in specific proteins that are involved in the process of thermogenesis.

Promoting Thermogenesis

“Scientists were finding that this compound affected metabolism,” explains June Wu, head researcher and study author. “So we wanted to figure out how – what pathway might be involved, what it looked like in mice, and what it looked like in human cells. It’s only been relatively recently that energy surplus has become a problem. Throughout evolution, the opposite – energy deficiency – has been the problem. So any energy-consuming process usually turns off the moment the body doesn’t need it.”

This is sensational news because the growing obesity epidemic can use something effective that would help curb the issues our society has with excess weight. The way that cinnamon helps to promote the act of thermogenesis could be incredibly essential to the diets of those who are struggling with their weight.

Metabolic health compromise comes when caloric intake is too high, hormone regulatory systems are not working and poor food choices are made. Cinnamon has also been known to positively impact the way that insulin works in individuals who are pre-diabetic and deal with high blood sugar levels.

Incorporate Good Eating Habits

The presence of heart disease, diabetes and obesity are plaguing this country and any additional information or tips that can be given to the general public, regarding what needs to be done in order to combat these issues – and even in some cases reverse them – needs to be considered. Incorporating good eating habits, and directly dealing with habits that lead to overconsumption and poor food quality, will allow us to do better overall.

Access to healthy food is also something that must be fully acknowledged as some areas don’t have an adequate grocery store nearby. Thankfully, something like cinnamon is relatively inexpensive and can be found at many grocery stores and also at discount and saving stores.

Making concerted efforts to improve your health from the inside out is crucial to your quality of life. The food that you ingest is central to this in a number of ways. Stay away from processed foods and sugar because they are absolutely terrible for you. You likely ingest way more of them then you even realize.

A Closer Look At High-Tech Advances In Vision Research

With new findings demonstrating the impact of technology on vision and on vision science, researchers have shared the latest high-tech advances in research to treat, diagnose and prevent diseases causing vision loss. “These studies highlight how technology is changing the way we study, detect, diagnose and treat ocular and visual system disease,” says Claude Burgoyne, MD, and president of the Association for Research in Vision and Opthamology. “Whether it is with a cell phone or using web-based products, new technologies are impacting vision research and transforming patient care.”

Recent results indicate that using online symptom checkers may not be the best option for a patient experiencing vision issues. Only 40 percent of interpretations of vision-related symptoms entered into a popular online symptom checker gave the correct diagnosis in the top three results presented to the user. Researchers in Ontario, Canada, sought to understand the accuracy of online symptom checkers for vision by entering 42 cases into the online program. Only 26 percent of the cases presented the correct diagnosis as the top choice, and several cases that require urgent care were identified as non-urgent.

“As more patients present with self-guided research of their eye symptoms, it is important for eye care professionals to be familiar with the capabilities and limitations of popular online symptom checkers,” said Michael Nguyen of McMaster University. “As a specialty with similar common symptomatic presentations of distinct diseases, ophthalmology may represent a particularly challenging field for online symptom checkers to excel in.”

Robots As Future Doctors 
A new study shows that patients enjoyed interacting with both human and humanoid-robot assistants during standard vision testing. Twenty-two patients evaluated visual field tests under four different supervisor conditions: human, humanoid robot, computer speaker, and no supervision. No preference was identified between the human and the robot, but both were preferred over the other two options. Visual field testing takes several minutes and can be boring for both patient and operator, often resulting in minimal supervision during the test. Replacing a human operator for a robotic one may increase clinical efficiency while maintaining clinical outcomes.

“We are exploring ways that technology might improve the experience of visual field testing for both operators and patients,” added Allison M. McKendrick, MScOptom, Ph.D., of the University of Melbourne. “Low patient and operator engagement can lead to inaccurate results and a lack of desire to perform the test as often as recommended.” Researchers have developed an inexpensive and accurate instrument to monitor the condition of patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) at home. The technology may one day offer patients and clinicians a method to monitor the disease’s progression while eliminating the need for monthly visits to the clinic.

In the study, images taken by the at-homeoptical coherence tomography (OCT) were compared to higher resolution images taken by clinical devices. Researchers found that automated interpretation of the images, tracking just a small set of biological indicators, was accurate 90 percent of the time. Larger-scale testing is currently ongoing to achieve the accuracy necessary for clinical use.  “Home monitoring for retinal disorders via OCT offers huge potential for improving patient care, but cannot be done by today’s clinical devices, which are too expensive and too difficult to use,” said Claus von der Burchard, MD, of the University of Kiel.

Holographic Eye Tracking
Engineers have developed holographic eye tracking technology, paving the way toward a future device that could be worn as a pair of reading glasses to diagnose a variety of vision disorders. The advance may allow doctors to collect information on patient behavior outside of the lab. “A low-weight, wearable see-through eye tracker can be used in diagnosing and rectifying eye disorders when the patient is performing daily activities in a natural setting, such as a seven-year old reading or writing at a desk,” said Changgeng (Bruce) Liu, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The researchers tested their benchtop prototype on a prosthetic eye model. The eye tracking technology accurately measured movements over a range of motion. Patient behavior during a formal evaluation in a lab setting can be different than their normal behavior, leading to ambiguous results or misdiagnoses. Data collected in a patient’s everyday environment has the potential to be more accurate than that collected in a lab and less burdensome for both patients and physicians.

Using a smartphone and Google Cardboard, scientists have developed an app to enable vision screening by anyone in any setting. The technology allows patients to monitor themselves, rather than requiring a clinic visit. Nineteen patients were tested using the mobile app and a traditional visual field testing instrument. The results between the two testing methods showed good agreement. Completing the test with the mobile app took 8.6 minutes, compared to 5.7 minutes for the traditional instrument.

“Visual field testing on personal smartphones can enable vision screening in developing countries where access to expensive equipment and dedicated testing facilities is limited,” said Moshe Eizenman, Ph.D. of the University of Toronto. “This is crucial in remote areas where travel time to central testing facilities is prohibitively long or expensive.”

5 Steps to Lower Your Risk Of Eye Disease
Four eye diseases – age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts – account for most cases of adult blindness and low vision among people in developed countries. Because these eye diseases cause no pain and often have no early symptoms, they do not automatically prompt people to seek medical care. But a thorough checkup by an ophthalmologist – a physician who specializes in medical and surgical eye care – can detect them in their earliest stages. Early treatment is vital because it can slow or halt disease progression or, in the case of cataracts, restore normal vision.

A thorough eye exam can also detect other health conditions, such as stroke, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, sexually transmitted diseases and some cancers.

Here are five simple steps to take control of your eye health today:

Get a comprehensive medical eye exam at age 40. Early signs of disease or changes in vision may begin at this age. An exam by an ophthalmologist is an opportunity to carefully examine the eye for diseases and conditions that may have no symptoms in the early stages.

Know your family history. Certain eye diseases can be inherited. If you have a close relative with macular degeneration, you have a 50 percent chance of developing this condition. A family history of glaucoma increases your glaucoma risk by four to nine times. Talk to family members about their eye conditions. It can help you and your ophthalmologist evaluate your risk.

Eat healthy foods. A diet low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, benefits the entire body, including the eyes. Eye-healthy food choices include citrus fruits, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables and cold water fish.

Stop smoking. Smoking increases the risk for eye diseases such as cataract and age-related macular degeneration. Smoking also raises the risk for cardiovascular diseases which can indirectly influence your eye health. Tobacco smoke, including second-hand smoke, also worsens dry eye.

Wear sunglasses. Exposure to ultraviolet UV light raises the risk of eye diseases including cataract, fleshy growths on the eye and cancer. Always wear a hat and sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection while outdoors.

“An eye exam doesn’t just check how well you can see, it evaluates the overall health of your eyes,” said Rebecca J. Taylor, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “The academy encourages everyone, particularly if you’re over age 40, to get regular eye care. By making vision a priority, we can help protect our sight as we age.”

Detecting Bad Spots In Your Vision

The ability to distinguish objects in peripheral vision varies significantly between individuals, according to research from UCL, Paris Descartes University and Dartmouth College. Some people are better at spotting things above their center of vision while others are better at spotting things off to the right.

The research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that on average we are worse at spotting objects in crowded environments when they are above or below eye level, although the extent to which this happens varies between individuals.

“If you’re driving a truck with a high cabin and looking straight ahead, you’re less likely to notice pedestrians or cyclists at street level in your peripheral vision than if you were lower down with those same pedestrians on the left and right,” explains lead author Dr. John Greenwood, UCL Experimental Psychology. “A visually cluttered environment like a busy city road makes it even more difficult. As well as the physical blind spots on vehicles, people behind the wheel will also have different areas where their peripheral vision is better or worse.”

The study involved 12 volunteers who took part in a series of perception tests over several years. The key experiment involved focusing on a point in the center of the screen while images of clocks were shown in different parts of the visual field, either a clock alone or with two other clocks next to it. It is more difficult to tell the time on the central clock when the surrounding clocks are closer to it, as the scene is more visually “cluttered.” This is known as “visual crowding.”

Patterns Of Sensitivity

The participants’ ability to successfully identify the central clock in a cluttered scene varied significantly, with different people better at spotting it in different positions. On average, most participants were weakest with their upper peripheral vision, followed by the lower peripheral vision. There was no significant difference between left and right on average, with some volunteers better on the left and others on the right.

In the same task, participants were also asked to move their eyes to where the center of the middle clock had been once it disappeared. There was a strong correlation between the amount of disruption from clutter and the ability of individuals to make precise eye movements to those same locations.

“Everyone has their own pattern of sensitivity, with islands of poor vision and other regions of good vision,” Greenwood said. “If you’re looking for your keys, then this profile will affect your ability to find them. For example, if your keys are on a table to the left of where you’re focusing, the presence of books and papers on the table may stop you spotting the keys. Someone with strong left-sided vision could spot the keys even if they’re right next to the book, whereas someone else might not notice the keys unless they’re a foot away from the book. There is substantial variation between different people.”

These “islands” of poor vision were apparent across several tasks tested by the researchers, despite each relying on different processes in the brain. The implication is that these differences in peripheral vision could occur very early in the visual system, possibly beginning as early as the retina. It is unclear whether these differences are due to genetics or environment, but they are observed consistently over time.

Levels Of Vision

“What is striking is the consistency of the pattern from the first levels of vision up to the highest levels, processing that involves very different areas of the brain,” says senior author Professor Patrick Cavanagh, Dartmouth College. “We propose that these variations originate at the first levels of vision very early in our development where simple features like edges and colors are registered, and then are inherited by higher levels as the rest of the brain wires itself up to deal with the information being sent from the eyes. The higher levels deal with recognizing objects, faces, and actions, and directing our eyes toward areas of interest.”

Most people do not experience visual crowding in the center of their vision, unlike the periphery, however in some conditions central vision is also affected. In amblyopia – also known as “lazy eye” – the brain does not interpret visual signals from one eye properly, leading to an increase in visual crowding. In dyslexia, some research has shown that people with the condition find it easier to read words when the letter spacing is increased to reduce visual crowding. Similarly, visual crowding effects may be one of the early symptoms of Posterior Cortical Atrophy, a form of dementia that predominantly affects vision. Crowding is also a factor in macular degeneration, the most common form of blindness, where the center of the eye is affected first and so patients must rely on their peripheral vision to see.

“Our paper helps us to better understand the mechanisms that cause visual crowding and where these occur in the visual system,” Cavanagh added. “In the long term, we hope that this will help with the development of better treatment strategies for a wide range of conditions that limit the usefulness of vision for millions of people worldwide.”

Beating Dry Eye Syndrome

Symptoms of dry eye syndrome – dry, red, itchy, gritty, sore eyes – are more common among contact lens wearers. A group of Stanford University researchers explored the mechanical interactions between the eye surface, the cornea and contact lenses. The group’s goal was to create better contact lenses that maximize comfort and alleviate dry eye symptoms. When developing biomaterial-based devices that are in direct contact with cells, like contact lenses, their mechanical interaction with cells, biomaterial adhesion to cells and biocompatibility are all extremely important factors.

“Our system, a live-cell monolayer rheometer, is built on a standard inverted microscope for cell biology,” says Juho Pokki, a postdoctoral research fellow in the chemical engineering department at Stanford University. “It can simultaneously observe the cells and test cell mechanisms and adhesion.” Additionally, the group created an automated system to enable controllable experiments at the microscale. Cornea cell surfaces consist of a mechanically complex, soft material which you can think of as nature’s “smart material.” It has properties that depend on stress-strain conditions and time. Corneal cell mechanics and cell adhesion are altered for different corneal surface conditions, such as changes caused by disease, and different contact lenses.

By measuring mechanics and cellular or bacterial adhesion-related information, the group can compare biocompatible materials that are most suitable for contact lenses or for developing new biomedical devices such as prosthetic electronic skin. One of the group’s key findings was that corneal surface cells, which have adapted to protect the eye surface, are mechanically complex. “Their effective mechanical behavior is different between small and large strain conditions,” Pokki said. This behavior may be caused by changes within the cells.

In terms of applications, Pokki said, “beyond developing better contact lenses, our system can be used to screen and find optimal contact lens solutions or eye drops for people who have dry eye symptoms. This would allow people with dry eye syndrome to use contact lenses while maintaining corneal mechanics and adhesion similar to those of users without dry eye symptoms.”

Key Benefits Of Milk Thistle Oil

The plant that is responsible for the production of milk thistle oil is pointy and purple. Its scientific name is Silybum marianum, and it is found in certain parts of California. The ways in which this plant, and its oil, can be of benefit to you may be surprising. There are several ways in which this oil can be helpful externally and internally. Milk thistle has so many important components that should not be overlooked. Here are a few of the key benefits associated with milk thistle oil.

Liver Detoxification

One of the key aspects of milk thistle is its ability to be a helpful liver aid and an amazing detoxifier. The liver and its function is central to our overall health and safety. When the liver gets bogged down by stress, alcohol or bad foods, its functioning can be impeded. Milk thistle helps to properly remove the toxins and is even credited with protecting the liver from heavy metals in water supplies as well as air pollution. All of these aspects that we don’t generally think about can hinder our organs and health if we are not mindful. Applying some milk thistle oil to your right side can help to provide your liver with needed assistance.

Prevents Gallstones

In almost the same manner in which it helps the liver, the gallbladder is also protected and defended in the presence of milk thistle. While the liver is the most important digestive organ, the gallbladder works alongside it to ensure that the production of bile and enzymes happen in just the correct way so that the gastrointestinal system runs exactly how it should.

Thistle is also known to help break down the presence of gallstones or kidney stones, which are small, crystallized salt composites that can sometimes develop in those organs and cause a lot of pain. The same external application of the milk thistle oil on the gallbladder is suggested.

Increases Skin Health

We sometimes forget about our skin and the need to keep it healthy. With the constant focus on diet and exercise in an effort to improve our internal health, we can shirk our responsibilities where the skin is concerned. There is a component called silmarin that is present in milk thistle oil that helps to inhibit the UV light-induced oxidative stress that causes skin to potentially become weak and more susceptible to skin cancer. Applying a couple of drops of milk thistle oil to your skin will help to mitigate the strong UV light exposure it often gets.

Reduces Signs Of Aging

The presence of antioxidants within milk thistle oil helps to protect the skin from free radical damage. This removes pollutants from the skin and helps to eliminate and lessen signs of aging. No one wants to look old before their time and without properly caring for the skin, age can sometimes show on the face. Wrinkles, laugh lines, sagging skin and age spots are no match for the potent kick of milk thistle oil.

You can purchase milk thistle oil online at amazon.com.

 

The Potential Anti-Aging Properties Of Mushrooms

There are many different types of fruits and vegetables that have stunning antioxidant properties. Antioxidants can help in a plethora of different areas – one of which is bolstering health and increasing anti-aging properties. Mushrooms actually contain a very high amount of two specific antioxidants that can help with the fight against aging. These two antioxidant properties are called ergothioneine and glutathione, which exist in copious amounts in many types of mushrooms.

This is terrific news as the body uses the food that we ingest to properly produce energy. When the body is being replenished by antioxidants it is put in a better position to fight off the free radical formations that will occur in the body.

Free Radical Theory Of Aging

“What we found is that, without a doubt, mushrooms are the highest dietary source of these two antioxidants taken together, and that some types are really packed with both of them,” says Robert Beelman, a professor of food science at Penn State. “There’s a theory – the free radical theory of aging – that’s been around for a long time. It states that when we oxidize our food to produce energy there’s a number of free radicals that are produced that are side products of that action. Many of these are quite toxic. The body has mechanisms to control most of them, including ergothioneine and glutathione, but eventually enough accrue to cause damage, which has been associated with many of the diseases of aging, like cancer, coronary heart disease and Alzheimer’s.”

The amounts of each one of these antioxidants present in mushrooms – ergothioneine and glutathione – vary largely by strain and type. There are many different species that exist which have these two antioxidants. The porcini species – a part of the wild variety – has the highest amount. Though the more common types had less of the antioxidants than the porcini, they still had way more than many other food items. White button mushrooms, for example, will still provide a great deal of these antioxidants to the body when readily consumed.

Cooking Mushrooms

A great thing to note as well is that cooking mushrooms is completely fine and won’t alter the molecular structure of the antioxidants. There is no significant compound shift after they come into contact with heat. Ergothioneine is incredibly heat stable, which means that for those who have a hard time eating raw mushrooms, there is a more palatable cooked option that doesn’t eliminate or negate the health properties that it provides the body.

The researchers even noted that this can be found on a global scale because in countries like Italy and France, there is less of an occurrence of neurodegenerative diseases. It may be a coincidence that these countries have way more ergothioneine in their diets or that there is an obvious correlation.

There is a much higher occurrence of specific diseases in this country, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, than in the countries previously mentioned who also happen to consume high amounts of these antioxidants in their diets. It’s definitely something to look into.

The fact that we have so many natural elements at our disposal that we can use to improve our health should ultimately be enough to push the need for more studies such as these to really uncover the power of natural food.

All Pain Isn’t Created Equal: Head And Face Pain Experienced Differently

Pain is something that we’ve all experienced at some point in our life. The way that you deal with and suffer through pain can be greatly determined by where that pain is located on the body. Researchers have found that pain felt from the head and face can actually be more emotionally draining and disruptive than other types of pain. The reason there is such a notable distinction is because the sensory neurons that are wired from the face and head to the brain reside in an emotional signaling hub. The sensory neurons that are wired from the body to the brain have an indirect connection to this hub.

This is typically why many people loathe experiencing headaches or migraines, reasoning that it’s much more distressing to have to deal with that pain rather than from other parts of the body. In fact, individuals have categorically rated pain felt from teeth, ears, eyes, face and head as much more disruptive and emotionally taxing than pain felt anywhere else on the body.

Duke University scientists wanted to conduct research regarding these differences and to specify what brain waves may experience when face or head pain is felt. It goes much deeper than what our five senses may tell us about sensations but how the experienced sensation causes us to feel emotionally.

Emotional Aspects Of Pain

Due to the direct wiring from the sensory neurons into the brain’s primary and principal emotional signal hubs, this is why the prospects of chronic migraines and neuropathic face pain can be so debilitating. A professor of neurobiology and cell biology Fan Wang, who teaches at Duke explains: “Usually doctors focus on treating the sensation of pain, but this shows that we really need to treat the emotional aspects of pain as well. There has been this observation in human studies that pain in the head and face seems to activate the emotional system more extensively. But the underlying mechanisms remained unclear.”

Wang and his team of researchers wanted to pinpoint just how these two types of pains differed, and in order to do so, they tracked the brain chemistry and activity of mice after aggravating either their face or their paw. Aggravating their face lead to a much higher brain activity than any type of aggravation or pain inflicted onto their paw.

The amount of brain activity was seen in the parabrachial nucleus, commonly referred to as the PBL, which is the region that is directly connected to the brains emotional and instinctive centers. These insights and research findings can potentially help provide necessary insights that would encourage better treatment plans for those who do experience chronic face and head pain.

Understanding why the presence of conditions such as cluster headaches and migraines are so excruciating is better understood when both the chronic nature, as well as the interworking of the connections within the pain sensors that make them so debilitating and painful, are better explained. Identifying a new approach, now that the information on why things are this way for pain above the neck, can be largely helpful in better managing and treating said pain. Perhaps directly dealing with the emotional experience can help to manage the pain and discomfort more thoroughly.

Okra Oil And How it Works

The vegetable okra is used in many traditionally Caribbean dishes and has incredible health benefits. It is often found in certain parts of the Middle East, South America and Africa. In certain cultures it is known as lady’s fingers and comes from large-leafed perennial plants. From a traditionally generational standpoint, the vegetable has been used for medicinal purposes for quite some time. In the Congo, it was even used in the safe delivery of babies. Here are some key ways that okra oil can be used.

Sore Throat

Historically, boiled okra used to be prescribed for someone who was suffering from a sore, irritated throat. When you notice a tickle in the back of your throat, it’s best to get ahead of it before it turns into full-blown sickness. Taking over-the-counter cough syrup and throat lozenges sometimes doesn’t do the trick, it’s expensive and many of those products have ingredients in them that are less than ideal. Instead, you can use a couple of drops of okra oil in warm water as a salt gargle. Do this up to three times a day and you’ll find your throat returning back to normal in no time.

Digestive Aid

Whether you eat too much around the holidays or family barbeques get the best of you, while eating is fun, it doesn’t always have a fun effect. Digestive issues plague most of us because of the ubiquitous nature of food and the proximity we have to food that is unhealthy for us. This can cause much discomfort in our gut and lead to other more serious health problems. Ensuring we have a gut that is healthy and digests food properly is so imperative. If you are suffering from indigestion, cramping or general tummy troubles, try rubbing a bit of okra oil on your lower abdomen. It will help activate your digestive juices and quell your symptoms.

Skin Healer

The nutrients within okra oil are known to help promote quick healing. This is essential if you are suffering from acne, scars, or eczema. The presence of antioxidants makes this a great addition to your skin care routine. The constant battle that skin has to go through with the environment, unbeknownst to us, can be quite taxing on the skin. Okra oil helps to tackle those free radicals that can do serious damage to our skin and complexion by ruining skin cells.

Immune System

The immune system is central in guarding our bodies and health from so many potential threats out there. Whether it’s viruses, bacteria, or a whole host of other things, we can sometimes forget that our health is determined by how our immune system functions. To ensure that your health is properly guarded, it’s important to take excellent care of your immune system. Antioxidants help that, as do vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamin C. The presence of these helps increase your white blood cell count which combats foreign materials and pathogens from impacting your body or system at all.

You can purchase okra seeds online at amazon.com.

 

Are We Slowing Down The Age Clock?

The rate of biological aging appears to be more delayed for all Americans – particularly men – which may extend their lives, says recent national heath data. Researchers cite advancements in medicine as one possible reason for the deceleration. A new study by University of Southern California and Yale University researchers suggests that at least part of the gains in life expectancy over recent decades may be due to a change in the rate of biological aging, rather than simply keeping ailing people alive.

“This is the first evidence we have of delayed ‘aging’ among a national sample of Americans,” says senior author Eileen M. Crimmins, University Professor and AARP Professor of Gerontology at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. “A deceleration of the human aging process, whether accomplished through environment or biomedical intervention, would push the timing of aging-related disease and disability incidence closer to the end of life.”

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the researchers examined how biological age, relative to chronological age, changed in the U.S. while considering the contributions of health behaviors. Biological age was calculated using several indicators for metabolism, inflammation, and organ function, including levels of hemoglobin, total cholesterol, creatinine, alkaline phosphatase, albumin, and C-reactive protein in blood, as well as blood pressure and breath capacity data.

Improvements Apparent At Older Ages

While all age groups experienced some decrease in biological age, the results suggest that not all people may be faring the same. Older adults experienced the greatest decreases in biological age, and men experienced greater declines in biological age than females. These differences were partially explained by changes in smoking, obesity, and medication use.

“While improvements may take time to manifest, and thus are more apparent at older ages, this could also signal problems for younger people, particularly females, who – if their improvements are more minimal – may not see the same gains in life expectancy as experienced by the generations that came before them,” added lead author Morgan E. Levine, assistant professor at the Yale Center for Research on Aging.

Slowing the pace of aging, along with increasing life expectancy, has important social and economic implications. The study suggests that modifying health behaviors and using prescription medications does have significant impact on the health of the population.

“Life extension without changing the aging rate will have detrimental implications,” Levine said. “Medical care costs will rise as people spend a higher proportion of their lives with disease and disability. However, lifespan extension accomplished through a deceleration of the aging process will lead to lower healthcare expenditures, higher productivity, and greater well-being.”

The Visible Signs Of Aging

Heavy drinking and smoking are linked to visible signs of physical aging, and looking older than one’s years, says research published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Light to moderate drinking was not associated with biological aging, the findings showed. Nor was it linked to the slowing of the visible aging process as there was no difference in the prevalence of the signs of aging between light to moderate drinkers and non-drinkers.

They base their findings on information from more than 11,500 adults, whose heart health and visible aging signs were tracked for an average of 11.5 years as part of the Copenhagen City Heart Study. This study, which began in 1976, has been monitoring a random sample of Danish people over the age of 20 living in the Copenhagen area from 1981 to 1983, from 1991 to 1994, and from 2001 to 2003.

Participants were quizzed about their lifestyle and general health and asked how much they drank and smoked. They were also checked for four signs of aging that have previously been linked to a heightened risk of cardiovascular ill health or death – earlobe creases, a grayish-opaque colored ring or arc around the peripheral cornea of both eyes – called arcus coneae, yellow-orange plaques on the eyelids – called xanthelasmata, and male pattern baldness.

The average age of the participants was 51, but ranged from 21 to 86 among the women, and from 21 to 93 among the men. Average alcohol consumption was 2.6 drinks per week for women and 11.4 for men. Just over half the women – or 57 percent – and around two thirds of the men – 67 percent – were current smokers. Arcus coneae was the most common sign of aging among both sexes, with a prevalence of 60 percent among men over 70 and among women over 80. The least common sign was xanthelasmata, with a prevalence of five percent among men and women over 50. A receding hairline was common among men, with 80 percent of those over the age of 40 affected.

Looking Older Than Your Actual Age

Analysis of drinking and smoking patterns revealed a consistently heightened risk of looking older than one’s true age and developing arcus coneae, earlobe creases, and xanthelasmata among those who smoked and drank heavily. For example, compared with a weekly alcohol intake of up to seven drinks, a tally of 28 or more was associated with a 33 percent heightened risk of arcus coneae among the women, and a 35 percent heightened risk among men who had 35 or more drinks every week.

Similarly, compared with not smoking, smoking one pack of 20 cigarettes daily for between 15 and 30 years was associated with a 41 percent heightened risk among women and a 12 percent heightened risk among men. The occurrence of the visible signs of aging was no different among light to moderate drinkers than it was among non-drinkers. Male pattern baldness was not consistently associated with heavy drinking or smoking, possibly because it is strongly influenced by genes and circulating levels of male hormones.

This is an observational study so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, particularly as the data on smoking and drinking relied on personal recall, which is subject to bias. And while the researchers took account of a range of potentially influential factors, they were unable to take account of stress, which is associated with cardiovascular disease risk, smoking, and heavier drinking.

This is the first prospective study to show that alcohol and smoking are associated with the development of visible age-related signs and thus generally looking older than one’s actual age. This may reflect that heavy drinking and smoking increases general aging of the body.

Eating Less Can Slow The Aging Process

Recent research published in Molecular & Cellular Proteomics offers one glimpse into how cutting calories impacts aging inside a cell. The researchers found that when ribosomes – the cell’s protein makers – slow down, the aging process slows too. The decreased speed lowers production but gives ribosomes extra time to repair themselves. “The ribosome is a very complex machine, sort of like your car, and it periodically needs maintenance to replace the parts that wear out the fastest,” said John Price, Brigham Young University biochemistry professor and senior author. “When tires wear out, you don’t throw the whole car away and buy new ones. It’s cheaper to replace the tires.”

So what causes ribosome production to slow down in the first place? At least for mice it is reduced calorie consumption. Price and his fellow researchers observed two groups of mice. One group had unlimited access to food while the other was restricted to consume 35 percent fewer calories, though still receiving all the necessary nutrients for survival. “When you restrict calorie consumption, there’s almost a linear increase in lifespan,” Price said. “We inferred that the restriction caused real biochemical changes that slowed down the rate of aging.”

This research team isn’t the first to make the connection between cut calories and lifespan, but they were the first to show that general protein synthesis slows down and to recognize the ribosome’s role in facilitating those youth-extending biochemical changes. “The calorie-restricted mice are more energetic and suffered fewer diseases,” Price said. “And it’s not just that they’re living longer, but because they’re better at maintaining their bodies, they’re younger for longer as well.”

Ribosomes are expensive and important. They use 10 to 20 percent of the cell’s total energy to build all the proteins necessary for the cell to operate. Because of this, it’s impractical to destroy an entire ribosome when it starts to malfunction. Repairing individual parts of the ribosome on a regular basis enables ribosomes to continue producing high-quality proteins for longer than they would otherwise. This top-quality production in turn keeps cells and the entire body functioning well.

Despite this study’s observed connection between consuming fewer calories and improved lifespan, Price assured that people shouldn’t start counting calories and expect to stay forever young. Calorie restriction has not been tested in humans as an anti-aging strategy, and the essential message is understanding the importance of taking care of our bodies. “Food isn’t just material to be burned – it’s a signal that tells our body and cells how to respond. We’re getting down to the mechanisms of aging, which may help us make more educated decisions about what we eat.”

Eating Better Improves Physical Fitness In Old Age

People who have a healthier diet throughout their adult lives are more likely to be stronger and fitter in older age than those who don’t, says a recent study led by the University of Southampton. Scientists from the University’s Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Uni looked at the dietary patterns of a group of 969 British men and women whose lifestyles have been monitored since they were born in March 1946.

Using information collected at four points in their adult lives – between 36 and 60 to 64 years – they examined diet at different ages in relation to three standard measures of physical function at age 60 to 64 – chair rise, timed up-and-go speeds, and standing balance. The study, published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, is one of the first to look at the long-term benefits of healthier diets across adulthood for physical function in older age. It showed that those who ate more fruits, vegetables and wholegrain cereals, and fewer highly processed foods, across adulthood performed better in the three tests of physical function in older age.

In addition, the study found evidence of better performance in two of the measures – chair rise speed and standing balance time – among participants whose quality of diet had improved across adulthood. “Improving the quality of your diet can have a beneficial effect on health whatever your age,” says Sian Robinson, lead author and Professor of Nutritional Epidemiology at the University of Southampton. “However, this study suggests that making good dietary choices throughout adulthood – by cutting down on highly processed foods and incorporating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your diet – can have a significant beneficial effect on strength and physical performance later in life, helping to ensure a much healthier old age.”

The link between dietary patterns and frailty in older people will open the door to effective interventions against the age-related decline in musculoskeletal function, which is such a growing cause of disability in aging populations worldwide.

The Truth About What Curcumin Does

One of the most commonly talked about substances in holistic spaces comes from the brightly colored turmeric. Curcumin is a compound within the yellow root turmeric and it has amazing properties that can greatly improve your mood and your memory. UCLA researchers wanted to know if the hype about this special compound held up.

Curcumin is absorbed very easily and has impressive interactions with the mind in a way that can potentially be beneficial to those with dementia and Alzheimer’s. One of the most common effects is its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It has largely been thought that there is a type of inflammation that happens in the brain that accounts for the widespread prevalence of cognitive disorders that are seen more commonly in the elderly. This would certainly account for why those who consume a lot of this substance would have less of a chance of suffering from these conditions.

Meaningful Cognitive Benefits

“Exactly how curcumin exerts its effects is not certain, but it may be due to its ability to reduce brain inflammation, which has been linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression,” says Gary Small, lead doctor on the study. “The results suggest that taking this relatively safe form of curcumin could provide meaningful cognitive benefits over the years.”

The results that Smith is referring to looked at 40 different people between the ages of 50 and 90, all in relatively good health other than some mild complaints regarding their memory. There were individuals who were randomly picked to be given the placebo while the others received 90 milligrams of curcumin twice a day for a year and a half.

All 40 of the participants took part in cognitive awareness tests every six months and their results were monitored and logged. Eighty percent of the participants also took PET scans to determine the exact amount of both tau and amyloid that their brain had at the beginning and end of the year-and-a-half period.

A Real Game Changer

Those who did take the curcumin experienced noticeable differences in their memory and their ability to stay on task. The PET scans also showed much less of the tau and amyloid signals in the patients who were given the placebos instead of the curcumin dosage. A couple of individuals mentioned that they were experiencing a bit of abdominal pain and nausea, however these reactions may not have been related as two of them were taking the placebo while four were taking the curcumin.

The researchers were incredibly impressed by the results and will be conducting a similar study with a larger test group of people. There will also be more elaborate and thorough testing regarding the ability of curcumin to positively impact those who struggle with mild depression. The fact that curcumin also has antidepressant effects could be a real game changer in the psychiatric realm.

Air Quality: The Number One Environmental Threat

The state of our environment has been the source of much debate and discussion for the last decade with increasing regularity. This is because it has become apparent that the over consumption and irresponsible way many of us discard waste and overly pollute the environment causes real, lasting harm.

While it’s heart-wrenching when videos of ocean animals are seen combating materials never meant for the water, it seems that the number one threat to public safety, in terms of our health, is actually the state of air quality. This means that the ecosystem that we currently exist in isn’t properly supplying the kind of healthy air that our lungs actually need. This could be devastating in years to come.

Environment Suitability

A report, compiled by researchers from Yale and Columbia, who joined forces with the World Economic Forum, was able to rank environment suitability based on country. There are some countries that have stricter laws and practices to protect the environment and have better air quality as a result. Switzerland is the country that outranked all the rest with the strongest performance in both climate protection and quality of air. They have made long-standing commitments to preserving and emboldening natural resources, mitigating pollution, and protecting the health of the public.

Countries that are near the bottom of the ranking are India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. These three countries’ populations are exceedingly high and they have low scores on numerous impacting entities – lack of sustainability, bad air quality, and high levels of breathable toxins in the air.

The United States is ranked 27th. This puts us much lower on the list than many developed, first-world nations. The U.S. is ranked behind the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and France. For all intents and purposes, we’re doing a terrible job at creating a sustainable and positive change for the environment. Some scientists say that the damage we’ve done to the earth has already reached the point of no return – and we can’t undo what has already been shown to have terrible, disastrous effects.

“As the world community pursues new sustainable development goals, policymakers need to know who is leading and who is lagging on energy and environmental challenges,” says Daniel C. Esty, director of the Yale Center of Environmental Law & Policy. “The 2018 EPI confirms that success with regard to sustainable development requires both economic progress that generates the resources to invest in environmental infrastructure and careful management of industrialization and urbanization that can lead to pollution that threatens both public health and ecosystems.”

This data also looks at areas that should potentially be included in additional research pieces – water resources, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity and many other facets that would effectively and properly align the overall state of the environment with health, prosperity and functionality. We cannot continue to misuse resources and diminish the necessary ways that nature and the earth contribute to the air we breathe and our ability to live fruitfully.

The earth isn’t something that we can treat as some type of afterthought that bears no real consequence from humans’ rash and irresponsible actions. Science and data have been very clear about how neglecting to take care of the world already has potentially catastrophic outcomes. Clean air, water, and land are necessary for our very ability to survive.

Conflicting Research Regarding 100% Fruit Juice And Blood Sugar Levels

Diabetes is affecting a substantial amount of individuals in our society. The inability for the pancreas to excrete the necessary amounts of insulin to combat the sugar you consume can be disastrous to your body. Foods that are higher in carbohydrates and sugar content notoriously affect resting blood sugar levels.

However, new research that was posted in the Journal of Nutritional Science found no correlation between fasting blood glucose, insulin resistance or fasting blood insulin levels, and 100 percent juice. The study showed that the consumption of 100 percent fruit juice is not associated with an increase in the risk of developing diabetes.

While this sounds good, it seems a bit suspect as many juices that claim to be 100 percent juice are also incredibly high in sugar and carbs, which clearly aggravate blood sugar levels. Now, there are some juices that are lower in sugar and are considered pure and natural 100 percent juice that may only have imperceptible effects on blood sugar – certain juices such as 100 percent cranberry, blueberry or pomegranate. But to assert that any 100 percent juice option would yield the same results is frankly incorrect.

This is precisely why nutritionists and doctors recommend a diet low in sugar and carbs for those who are suffering from diabetes or are pre-diabetic. According to the American Diabetes Association, roughly 90 percent of 29 million people who suffer from this disease have the type 2 form. This is the kind that can be developed through poor eating habits, lack of exercise as well as genetic disposition.

Do Your Own Research

Managing diabetes is typically done by managing weight, eating a healthy diet and living an active lifestyle. However, there is a difference between what actually constitutes a healthy diet as many individuals who suffer from this condition do well on a diet rich in protein and healthy fats and low in sugar and carbs. The traditional American diet has lamented that fat is what makes individuals fat and sick.

However, more evidence is being uncovered that it’s actually the carb and sugar count of foods that can potentially endanger our health. Why is it that this misinformation regarding low-fat foods, that are then just pumped with unnecessary carbs to make up for taste, are pushed as the best type of diet, yet that diet has only contributed to the influx of the condition to begin with?

It’s worthwhile to do your own research around what types of foods make your body and mind feel and react the best. Some people are notoriously sensitive to dairy, some individuals have lost quite a bit of weight cutting out meat products from their diets, while some have completely rectified their blood sugar and cholesterol levels by opting for a diet rich in animal protein, healthy fats and minimal carbs. Everything doesn’t work for everybody but there are certain patterns that can be seen in patients who are sensitive to sugar and carbs that should not be overlooked.

Do necessary tests on your blood sugar if you are going to partake in consistent consumption of 100 percent fruit juice. There may be some options that don’t impact your blood sugar too severely but not all 100 percent fruit juice will leave your blood sugar levels in healthy spaces. It’s important to know what works specifically for you and understand the juice you should be drinking.

A Superfood Natural Oil: Amaranth

Amaranth is a grain that is considered a superfood because of all the benefits it can provide in its many forms. The amount of proteins, vitamins, fats, and minerals within it are comparable to some of the most imperative foods you can digest. Because of its integral makeup, it can be used in a myriad of different ways. One of the most impressive things about this oil, and others we’ve discussed here, is their ability to function in many different ways. Because of their compositional makeup, they work in a plethora of instances.

Varicose Veins

If you are one of the people that suffer from varicose veins, you’ll be happy to hear that this oil gives you a bit of release from those pesky, unsightly veins that stick out. There is a powerful entity called rutin that helps to eliminate the appearance of varicose veins by helping to strengthen the capillary walls. When a capillary wall is weak or fails to function properly, this can cause the unsightly appearance of varicose veins. The high amount of vitamin C within the oil also helps to produce collagen which strengthens the walls of your blood vessels.

Improves Hair

The way that your hair looks and feels is very important from both a vanity and health standpoint. There is a rare amino acid that is referred to as lysine which isn’t naturally produced by the body. This amino acid does wonders for the body and its calcium uptake, which directly affects your hair. If you are struggling with baldness, dandruff, dryness or any other issue with your hair or scalp, incorporating this oil into your hair care regimen will help to relieve those issues. Just add a couple of drops of the amaranth oil into your shampoo and watch your hair transform after consistent use.

Digestive Health

Due to the high fiber content of amaranth oil, it is known to help a number of gastrointestinal issues that you may be experiencing. If you find your body has a hard time moving food consistently, there may be a problem. The presence of some amaranth oil may be just what you need to help. Another great aspect of this oil is that although amaranth is considered a grain, it is gluten free. If you have celiac disease or IBS, it won’t negatively impact your system.

Weight Loss

It can be downright impossible to shed the type of weight you’d like to. But the protein that is present within this oil will give you the type of assist that really makes the difference. Amaranth is known to suppress the appetite, which will help you to stay on track and reach your goals. The amount of fiber within amaranth will help you feel full and satisfied. You will be less likely to want to snack or eat more than necessary when you are ingesting this oil. Always remember to purchase the food-grade option!

You can purchase amaranth online from several companies at amazon.com.

Better Understanding Proteins And The Immune System

At the University of Birmingham, there is breakthrough research being done regarding the impact that specific proteins have on the immune system and even the ability to fight cancer. Amino acids can be found in proteins. Anywhere from hundreds to thousands of these acids form long chains. These specific proteins often do work within the cells as they relate to the regulation of the body’s internal organs and tissue.

The lead author of the research study, who is also a professor at the university, Paul Moss, explains the process and the hypothesis linked to the study. “We worked on a protein called ULBP6, which leads to the removal of damaged cells, and observed that there are two types of this protein found in people,” Moss said. “This is important as previous studies have shown that the type of protein that we inherit from our parents can influence our risk of auto-immune disease and affect how we respond to some forms of cancer treatment. The ULBP6 protein is found on the surface of damaged cells, including several types of cancer cells, and acts as a “flag” to signal to white cells in our immune system that the damaged cell should be killed.”

Two Types Of Proteins

There are actually two different types of proteins that would be considered common. It has been shown in various research studies that human beings who end up inheriting a specific subtype can have poorer outcomes after going through a treatment called stem cell transplantation.

This is typically the most common measure that is taken to treat cancers such as leukemia. It is also referenced as a bone marrow treatment. Those who have the specific genetic makeup may be more at risk of not reacting properly to these types of treatments.

The study found that the ULBP6 protein actually works really well with its receptor and forms a strong bond which helps to embolden the immune system. The research that was being done was to improve the ability of this type of treatment. The presence of protein seems like a good start.

Different types of cancers attack the body much differently. Stem cell transplants are largely used as a treatment protocol but there level of effectiveness definitely depends. Unfortunately, this is a condition of life or death. Understanding what could help the treatment work better and for more individuals is a worthy and necessary cause. In order to improve the success rates, more research like this would have to be completed.

The presence of the protein obviously shifts and changes the ways in which the process can best adhere to the body and blood, all via the immune system. Immune system strengthening is one of the foremost important aspects of many types of research because a compromised immune system is more susceptible to health issues while a strong, fortified one can more easily fight them off or not contract them in the first place.

Blood cancer is notoriously touch and go to fight, but it seems that the level and type of protein that can be found in the body can better set up the body to fight off the cancer cells that are present in the blood when exposed to transplant therapy.

The Keys To Quality Cardiovascular Care

As chief of cardiovascular medicine and executive director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, David Zhao, M.D., still brings a decidedly low-tech instrument – a stethoscope – with him when he sees patients. And he stresses that traditional qualities such as expertise and teamwork are essential in making the most effective use of what technology can provide. “These days, having access to new technologies and treatments is essential to provide enhanced or improved care to the community,” Zhao said. “But skill, knowledge and experience, collaboration and technology together are the keys to better outcomes and better quality of life for patients.”

Zhao works with a team of more than 50 expert physicians and surgeons plus other specially trained professionals who employ the most advanced devices and methods available to prevent, diagnose, treat and manage the full spectrum of heart and vascular conditions. While fully immersed in a world of cardiac MRI scanning, miniature wireless pacemakers, left atrial appendage closures, ventricular assist devices and transcatheter aortic valve replacement surgery, their belief is that high-quality cardiovascular care isn’t just about the latest medical products and procedures.

Technology, Expertise And Collaboration

Expertise and collaboration are especially important in cardiovascular care as most of the advanced treatments – especially those addressing structural heart conditions – require the participation of different specialists, including interventional cardiologists, electrophysiologists, heart surgeons, vascular surgeons and anesthesiologists. “These are complex procedures that call for a lot of teamwork by people with varied skills and experience,” Zhao said.

That’s especially true with the cardiac procedure of last resort, transplantation. Wake Forest Baptist’s heart transplant program is not one of the largest in terms of volume, performing 12 a year, but it has a 100 percent success rate and is one of only eight heart programs in the country to receive the highest score awarded by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, a national database of organ transplantation statistics.

Initiatives aimed at preventing heart and vascular problems need to involve collaboration across multiple disciplines, Zhao said. “There are so many factors that can contribute to cardiovascular disease that don’t specifically involve the heart. And a lot of those vary greatly from person to person, so you have to look at this from many perspectives.”

Individualized Prevention And Prediction

That’s why the Heart and Vascular Center has teamed with Wake Forest Baptist’s Diabetes and Endocrinology Center and the Sticht Center for Healthy Aging and Alzheimer’s Prevention to develop a program in cardiovascular, metabolic and brain health that will provide patients with individualized prevention and prediction models.

“We’ve joined together because the prevention part is shared by all three areas,” Zhao said. “What we do is collect and analyze a combination of information – genetics, blood tests, scans, body mass index, family history, lifestyle habits – and put it all in one package so we can say to the patient your risk of having a heart attack or developing diabetes in X number of years is X, and here’s what you can do to reduce that risk by X percentage. It is very individualized.”

There is a high-tech element to this type of personalized, or precision, medicine, and Zhao has no doubt that digital technology’s role in health care will only become even more extensive over time. “Computers can already do many of the things that we do better and more quickly,” he said. “The cell phone and other devices will be much more involved in your health than they are now, and they can and will be programmed with personalized information.”

Regarding cardiovascular care, Zhao believes that advances in imaging technology will have the most significant impact. “Our imaging capabilities have improved greatly over the years, from still pictures to moving pictures to 3-D images, but cardiac imaging is making the transition from illustrating anatomy to showing functionality – what the heart looks like when it’s working,” he said. “This completely changes how we can use images to assess, guide and monitor treatments, and as the technology evolves it will revolutionize how we diagnose, treat and prevent diseases.”

Spotting Cardiovascular Disease At An Earlier Stage

Screening methods for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes could be improved by measuring different biological signposts to those currently being tested, a study led by researchers from King’s College London suggests. Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the study could allow doctors to better predict the development of cardiovascular disease at an earlier stage.

The research explored the role of a family of proteins called apolipoproteins. Currently, the main focus is on apolipoprotein A1 (apoA1), the main component of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good” cholesterol, and apolipoprotein B (apoB), which is present on low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. For the first time, researchers have used a technology called mass spectrometry to measure an unprecedented number of apolipoproteins in a population-based study and discovered that another group of apolipoproteins might complement the signposts of good and bad cholesterol: apoE, apoC2 and apoC3.

These apolipoproteins are associated with very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) and predominantly linked to another type of fat called triglycerides. ApoE, apoC2 and apoC3 have shown a stronger association with cardiovascular disease than apoA1 and apoB, suggesting that currently some of the most predictive apolipoproteins are not measured in patients who may be at risk of cardiovascular disease. The study identified apoC3 as a prime therapeutic target for lowering VLDL, which might reduce excess cardiovascular risk related to high VLDL.

The findings could lead to a change in the way patients all over the world are screened for cardiovascular disease. It could also pave the way for more personalized treatments. “We directly compared the association of a broad panel of apolipoproteins to new onset of cardiovascular disease over a 10-year observation period, and found that while apoB was predictive, other apolipoproteins, namely apoE, apoC2 and apoC3, were even better,” says lead author of the study Professor Manuel Mayr from King’s College London. “These unexpected strong associations of VLDL-associated apolipoproteins with cardiovascular disease provide support to expanding the current measurements of apolipoproteins and to the concept of targeting additional apolipoproteins to reduce risk.”

Unhealthy Diets Linked To More Than 400,000 Cardiovascular Deaths

Eating a diet lacking in healthy foods and/or high in unhealthy foods was linked to more than 400,000 deaths from heart and blood vessel diseases in 2015, according to an analysis presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention / Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions. Eating more heart-healthy foods, and less foods with high amounts of salt and trans fats, could save tens of thousands of lives in the United States each year.

“Low intake of healthy foods such as nuts, vegetables, whole grains and fruits combined with higher intake of unhealthy dietary components, such as salt and trans-fat, is a major contributor to deaths from cardiovascular disease in the United States,” said Ashkan Afshin, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., Sc.D., lead study author and acting assistant professor of global health at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle. “Our results show that nearly half of cardiovascular disease deaths in the United States can be prevented by improving diet.”

The new analysis was designed to pinpoint how diet impacts heart and blood vessel disease; it relied on 1990-2012 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, food availability data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as well as other sources.

Looking at U.S. cardiovascular deaths in 2015, researchers found less-than-ideal dietary choices – both a lack of healthier foods and an excess of less healthy foods – played a role in the deaths of an estimated 222,100 men and 193,400 women. Researchers also evaluated the degree to which leading dietary risk factors were linked to cardiovascular disease deaths:

  • low intake of nuts and seeds (11.6 percent);
  • low intake of vegetables (11.5 percent);
  • low intake of whole grains (10.4 percent); and
  • excess salt (9 percent).

The team’s systematic approach in quantifying how diet can contribute to heart disease deaths, and in defining the healthiest diet to prevent it, are the research’s key strengths.

The Foods That Protect Against Cardiovascular Disease

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading global cause of death; 2,200 Americans die each day from heart disease. Wholesome nutrition is a major factor in combating plaque build-up in coronary arteries, which results in the most common type of heart disease – coronary artery disease. The AHA encourages limiting sugary drinks, sweets, fatty or processed meats, solid fats, and salty or highly processed foods to maintain a heart-healthy diet. The American Heart Association emphasizes the importance of eating a healthy dietary pattern that is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry and limited in fatty or processed red meat. The association also suggests limiting sugary soft drinks, salt (sodium), saturated and trans fats.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that a poor diet — among diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol use — is one of the most influential lifestyle choices that put people at a higher risk for heart disease. Americans are advised by organizations such as the CDC and the AHA to consume more fruits and vegetables and less sodium and sugar.

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables cooked using a low-fat method are great for heart health, says Carleton Rivers, RDN, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences in the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Health Professions and program director of the UAB Dietetic Internship. “Choose vegetables that have a rich color like dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots and zucchini. Just be sure not to substitute fresh fruits with 100 percent fruit juice or dried fruit.”

Fruit juice and dried fruit are high in sugar and may be more easily consumed in a greater amount than a whole piece of fruit. Fruit juices also lack the fiber needed to control blood sugar. Rivers says fiber and protein are important. “Fiber is important for gastrointestinal motility, blood sugar control and lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Fiber is great for appetite control because it can fill you up and keep you feeling fuller for longer.” Protein is needed to build and maintain muscles and can be found in a variety of sources such as lean meats cooked using a low-fat method, such as baking.

The AHA and CDC advise cooking meals at home to have a healthy, balanced diet, and Rivers agrees it may be easier to eat healthy when one cooks or prepares meals at home. “Many restaurants add butter and salt to improve the taste of dishes,” she said. “This of course increases the calorie amount for a meal. Before going to a restaurant, look up the nutrition facts for the menu items you think you would want to eat, then make a decision based on which menu items are lower in calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar.”

As much as the AHA and the CDC encourage a heart-healthy diet, Rivers says a “cheat day” is okay every now and then to allow yourself to have a little bit of what you are craving to help prevent derailing from a diet all together. Your favorite piece of chocolate or guacamole and tortilla chips are what Rivers recommends as two heart-healthy treats to have on those “cheat days.”

Quinoa: This Hip Health Food Is Better In Oil Form

If you are even vaguely familiar with the nutritional and health food world, you know that the grain quinoa has been touted as the next big super food. People sing its praises as one of the only grains that has a high amount of protein and a lower glycemic index, which makes it much healthier then rice or potatoes, but with a texture that is almost similar. What’s interesting about this new food craze is that its oil form is just as beneficial and advantageous. Here’s exactly how.

Controls Diabetes

As one of the fastest growing health issues in our society, diabetes is said to affect one in 10 people in America. While some don’t mind the flavor of quinoa, and even have creative ways to doctor it up to make it taste good, some just can’t seem to get used to the unique taste. For those people who want the benefits of the food without the taste, try cooking with the oil. The nutrients within quinoa are effective at helping maintain a healthy blood sugar level. The fibrous nature contains magnesium which increases the production of insulin.

Acne Fighter

One of the worst things to deal with is chronic, consistent acne. Not only can it make you feel utterly self conscious, but it can also leave scars that last long after you’ve successfully eliminated the blemishes. Quinoa oil can help to mitigate both issues. Quinoa helps to naturally eradicate the presence of sebum, which is the oil that promotes the process of acne. Those who suffer from oily skin are more prone to acne, and as such, may want to steer clear of oils for their face altogether. They shouldn’t. Quinoa oil is the perfect oil to use if you are trying to control breakouts and even skin tone.

Discoloration

Along with the scars that you may experience, age spots and discoloration may be another struggle that you constantly deal with. Having an uneven skin tone can be perplexing and downright distracting if it gets obvious enough. The presence of quinoa oil helps to produce melanin which will help to bring your skin to a more uniformed, similar tone. Try adding a couple of drops of the oil into your favorite facial cleanser. Use consistently for about three or four weeks and you’ll start to notice a real difference.

Assists Digestion

Whether you’re backed up, have gas or heartburn, it can be hard to go about your day in a proper way when you’re having digestive issues. Incorporating quinoa oil into your cooking will help to naturally regulate your digestive system. No need for those chalky tablets that taste awful. By incorporating healthy oils into your diet, you’re doing your tummy a favor. Your digestive system will naturally correct itself as the digestive enzymes are activated by the presence of the quinoa oil. You can use it in the same ways you do coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil.

You can purchase quinoa oil online from several companies at amazon.com.