Dealing With Dental Anxiety

For most of us, a trip to the dentist or orthodontist is a minor but necessary chore. For other people, however, it can be a waking nightmare. Their fears can make them nervous and jittery while in the chair. In severe cases, it can keep them away completely. This creates a vicious cycle in which avoiding regular care makes dental problems worse. This only increases the worry these people may feel.

There are many reasons why you might be apprehensive about going to the dentist. You may be afraid of needles and drills. You could be nervous about feeling a lack of control while having to sit still. It’s possible that you had a bad experience and are not excited about potentially repeating it.

If fear is keeping you from getting the regular care your teeth need, take a close look at the accompanying guide. It contains key tips for overcoming the nervousness you might experience at the dentist’s office. For example, you can try meditation or other relaxation techniques to keep you calm. Whatever reasons you may have, confronting your dental anxiety is good for your overall oral health.

Infographic created by Burrow & Welchel Orthodontics

</strong><br /><br /><a href=’’><img src=’′ alt=” 540px border=’0′ /></a></p> Infographic </a> </strong> created by <strong><a target=”_blank” href=””>Burrow & Welchel Orthodontics</a>

Natural Ways To Reduce Your Risk Of Lung Cancer

October is Healthy Lung Month, an annual reminder to stay conscious of ways to combat airborne toxins and reduce the risk of lung cancer nationwide. Lung cancer has a longstanding history as one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths around the world, however, 90 percent of diagnoses could have been prevented.

The reality is that taking simple steps to improve indoor air quality could make all the difference for your health. This Healthy Lung Month, learn the top causes of lung cancer and the most natural ways to fight against indoor air pollution – not just this month, but all year long.

The Main Cause

Smoking cigarettes is the number one cause of lung cancer and those who smoke tobacco products are 30 times more likely to be diagnosed with the cancer than people who don’t smoke. This product is suggested to contain over 7,000 chemicals, making the term “toxic” an understatement. Despite cigarettes being linked to nearly 90 percent of all lung cancer cases, consumers continue to purchase, use and support the tobacco industry.

This not only impacts smokers themselves, but also anyone in close proximity. Over 7,000 non-smokers are killed by secondhand smoke annually and this environmental issue is especially harmful to children under 18, resulting in 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections each year. The first step toward a possible resolution is encouraging loved ones to quit, but there may be circumstances where exposure is out of your control.

In this case, always try to keep your house, car, or any other common area smoke free. Opt for non-smoking facilities and, if you live in a public building such as an apartment, look into a reliable air purifier. Although there is no guaranteed way to prevent exposure, purifiers can help to reduce any lingering emissions that may have infiltrated indoors.

An Invisible Threat

The second leading cause of lung-related deaths in the United States happens to occur in the natural environment and is invisible to the human eye. Radon, a radioactive gas, develops within soil and is naturally emitted into our atmosphere. While we are always exposed to low levels outside, radon exposure can become dangerous when it accumulates to high levels inside of homes and buildings.

Research suggests that one in every 15 homes throughout the United States contains high levels of radon, a result of cracks and holes in the home’s structure. Rather than waiting for symptoms of respiratory issues to surface, test your home twice a year to ensure your indoor air quality is safe. A simple at-home test costs about 25 dollars and will assure that your home and family are being kept safe.

Toxic Infrastructures

While most people have some degree of knowledge about the dangers of smoking and radon exposure, many of us never develop an interest in looking into other less common reasons for lung deterioration. The link between lung cancer and asbestos exposure has been well documented among industrial workers, primarily throughout the construction industry, shipyards and the military. Aside from working in high-risk professions, a major risk factor is living or working within a building constructed before 1980. Millions of homes are warned to hide this toxin today, as so many were built during the peak consumption of asbestos.

This has prompted safety organizations to stress the importance of approaching home projects with caution, including anything from maintenance to repairs. While this mineral isn’t an immediate threat to the respiratory system, disturbing toxic materials can stir up asbestos fibers and be inhaled by anyone in the surrounding area. Asbestos can pose an airborne threat for as long as 48 to 72 hours after it’s been broken. Over time these fibers can develop into an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma or asbestosis, both of which are preventable. The best way to assure your safety is to avoid renovating old homes until you have double-checked with an inspector and confirmed your house is free of asbestos.

Natural Solutions For Healthy Lungs

Other airborne toxins surrounding us every day include household solvents and chemicals like formaldehyde, lead, mold, and volatile organic compounds. Any one of these toxins could impact your indoor air quality and lead to the development of asthma and other chronic respiratory conditions. Here are some easy and natural ways to start being conscious of your lung health:

  • Keep your home smoke free.
  • Fix any leaks or water damage to prevent mold growth.
  • Avoid aerosol sprays and choose fragrance-free products.
  • Vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  • Keep the windows open whenever possible.
  • Store toxic products such as paint or cleaning supplies outside in a shed or a garage to avoid off-gassing indoors.
  • Take shoes off before entering your home to prevent tracking dirt, pesticides, or any other chemical throughout the house.

Healthy Lung Month is the perfect time to ask questions and do research on your own to find ways to better improve yours and your family’s health. Although some toxins are unfortunately unavoidable, taking these small steps may have the ability to improve your overall lung health and ultimately lead to a more enjoyable life.

Stress News: Mental Distress May Increase Heart Attack, Stroke Risk In Adults Over 45

Adults – ages 45 or older who experience psychological distress such as depression and anxiety – may have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, according to new research in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal.

In a study of 221,677 participants from Australia, researchers found that:

  • Among women, high/very high psychological distress was associated with a 44 percent increased risk of stroke; and
  • In men ages 45 to 79, high/very high versus low psychological distress was associated with a 30 percent increased risk of heart attack, with weaker estimates in those 80 years old or older.

The association between psychological distress and increased cardiovascular disease risk was present even after accounting for lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, alcohol intake, dietary habits and disease history. “While these factors might explain some of the observed increased risk, they do not appear to account for all of it, indicating that other mechanisms are likely to be important,” said Caroline Jackson, Ph.D., the study’s senior author and a Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The research involved participants who had not experienced a heart attack or stroke at the start of the study and who were part of the New South Wales 45 and Up Study that recruited adults ages 45 or older between 2006 and 2009. Researchers categorized psychological distress as low, medium and high/very high using a standard psychological distress scale which asks people to self-assess the level. Of the participants – 102,039 men – average age 62 – and 119,638 women – average age 60 – 16.2 percent reported having moderate psychological distress and 7.3 percent had high/very high psychological distress. During follow-up of more than four years, 4,573 heart attacks and 2,421 strokes occurred. The absolute risk – overall risk of developing a disease in a certain time period – of heart attack and stroke rose with each level of psychological distress.

Underestimating Psychological Stress

The findings add to the existing evidence that there may be an association between psychological distress and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. But they also support the need for future studies focused on the underlying mechanisms connecting psychological distress and cardiovascular disease and stroke risk and look to replicate the differences between men and women. Mental disorders and their symptoms are thought to be associated with increased risk of heart disease and stroke, but previous studies have produced inconsistent findings and the interplay between mental and physical health is poorly understood.

People with symptoms of psychological distress should be encouraged to seek medical help because, aside from the impact on their mental health, symptoms of psychological distress appear to also impact physical health, Jackson said. “We encourage more proactive screening for symptoms of psychological distress. Clinicians should actively screen for cardiovascular risk factors in people with these mental health symptoms.”

All factors analyzed in this research, apart from the outcomes of heart attack and stroke, were identified at the same point in time, which made it difficult for researchers to understand the relationship between psychological distress and variables such as unhealthy behaviors like smoking and poor diet. With that analysis approach, they may have underestimated the effect psychological distress has on the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Link Between Stress And Bad News

Feeling stressed or anxious makes people more able to process and internalize bad news, a recent UCL-led study reports. The Wellcome-funded research, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, reveals that a known tendency of people to take more notice of good news than bad news disappears when people feel threatened. “Generally, people are quite optimistic and we ignore the bad and embrace the good,” said co-lead author Dr. Tali Sharot, UCL Experimental Psychology. “This is indeed what happened when our study participants were feeling calm; but when they were under stress, a different pattern emerged. Under these conditions, they became vigilant to bad news we gave them, even when this news had nothing to do with the source of their anxiety.”

Previous studies have shown that people are more likely to incorporate information into their existing beliefs if the information is positive. Such optimism can be good for well-being and keep people motivated, but can be unhelpful when people underestimate serious risks, so the researchers were seeking to understand if the general human tendency to prioritize good news might vary depending on other conditions.

The study was conducted in two parts: one in a UCL lab, and one with firefighters in Colorado. In the lab, half of the 35 participants were told at the start that they would need to deliver a speech on a surprise topic in front of a panel of judges after completing a task – thus elevating their stress levels – while the other half were told they would complete an easy writing assignment at the end of the study. The heightened stress among those anticipating public speaking was confirmed by measures of physiological arousal by testing their skin conductance and cortisol levels and self-reported anxiety.

Optimistically Processing Information

The participants were asked to estimate the risk level of various threatening life events, such as being a victim of domestic burglary or credit card fraud. They were then told the real risk – either good news or bad news depending on how it compared to their estimate. Later they were asked to provide new estimates of what they thought the risks would be for themselves. As expected, the participants who were more relaxed internalized the good news better than the bad. Researchers found these participants continued to underestimate some risks even when being told the threatening event was more likely than they thought.

People who were stressed or anxious were better than the more relaxed participants at incorporating the bad news into their existing beliefs, while still responding normally to good news. The study was replicated with similar findings in a real-world setting with firefighters, who did the task online while they were on shift between calls at the station. Their anxiety was measured by self-report, and varied naturally due to their volatile work environment.

The findings help explain how people benefit from a generally optimistic way of processing information, while still taking heed of warning signs when under threat. “A switch that automatically increases or decreases your ability to process warnings in response to changes in your environment might be useful,” says co-lead author Dr. Neil Garrett. “Under threat, a stress reaction is triggered and it increases the ability to learn about hazards – which could be desirable. In contrast, in a safe environment it would be wasteful to be on high alert constantly. A certain amount of ignorance can help to keep your mind at ease.”

Sleep Stress: A Cure For Not Sleeping?

In today’s environment, demanding jobs and socio-economic factors lead to sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation induces a tremendous amount of stress, and stress itself is one of the major factors responsible for sleep loss or difficulty in falling into sleep. Sleep loss is also associated with certain other diseases including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, depression, anxiety, and mania deficits.

Scientists with the Japanese sleep institute recently found that the active component rich in sugarcane and other natural products may reduce stress and help contribute to sound sleep. The research group led by Mahesh K. Kaushik and Yoshihiro Urade of the International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine, University of Tsukuba, found that octacosanol reduces stress and restores stress-affected sleep back to normal. Octacosanol is abundantly present in various everyday foods such as sugarcane, rice bran, wheat germ oil, and bee wax. The crude extract is policosanol, where octacosanol is the major constituent. Policosanol and octacosanol have already been used in humans for various other medical conditions.

In the study, authors made an advancement and investigated the effect of octacosanol on sleep regulation in mildly stressed mice by oral administration. Octacosanol reduced corticosterone level in blood plasma, which is a stress marker. The octacosanol-administered mice also showed normal sleep, which was previously disturbed due to stress. They therefore claim that the octacosanol mitigates stress in mice and restores stress-affected sleep to normal in mice. The sleep induced by octacosanol was similar to natural sleep and physiological in nature. However, authors also claimed that octacosanol does not affect sleep in normal animals.

These results demonstrated that octacosanol is an active compound that has potential to reduce stress and to increase sleep, and it could potentially be useful for the therapy of insomnia caused by stress. Octacosanol can be considered safe for human use as a therapy, because it is a food-based compound and believed to show no side effects. Octacosanol/policosanol supplements are used by humans for functions such as lipid metabolism, cholesterol lowering or to provide strength. However, well-planned clinical studies need to be carried out to confirm its effect on humans for its stress-mitigation and sleep-inducing potentials. “Future studies include the identification of target brain area of octacosanol, its BBB permeability, and the mechanism via which octacosanol lowers stress,” Kaushik says.

Oxidative Stress

Reactive molecules derived from molecular oxygen – known as reactive oxygen species or ROS – increase dramatically in the body during times of environmental stress or disease. This stress can result in significant damage to cells and is associated with negative health consequences such as aging, male infertility, degenerative diseases and cancer. “We think there’s an ideal intermediate concentration, but neither extreme is good,” said Daniel Suter, a professor of biological sciences at Purdue University.

In a recent study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, Suter’s team looked at an enzyme that produces ROS in zebrafish embryos to see if it’s essential to the development of their nervous systems. Inhibiting this enzyme, NADPH oxidase or Nox, resulted in complications with signaling between the eyes and the brain. The research team used a drug called celastrol to inhibit Nox activity, which led to defects in the formation of the ganglion cell layer and optic nerve, both of which send signals from the retina of the eye to the brain.

Since a drug could affect other enzymes besides Nox, the researchers needed to confirm their results with another approach. The team turned to CRISPR, a system for modifying genes in living cells and organisms, to mutate Nox genes in the zebrafish embryo. This method also allowed the researchers to differentiate between different isoforms of Nox. Their findings show that Nox2 could be functionally important to neuronal development, whereas mutations in Nox5 could lead to more general developmental problems.

“This is really a study about the role of ROS as signaling molecules in normal development, but it has key applications for human health,” Suter said. “If you take too many antioxidants to treat disorders or injuries, you could go into a range where you get negative effects, because ultimately you need some ROS for normal signaling. We’re trying to figure out if there is a certain range that’s best.”

What Is Stillingia Root?

Varying components of plants provide the most concentrated and beneficial elements to any given issue. Sometimes it’s the pulp of the fruit that’s the most effective, sometimes it’s the seed. The root of the next plant we’ll be exploring is where all its power and benefits lie. Stillingia is a perennial herb that is a part of the spurge family. It is typically found in southeastern coastal regions like Virginia and Florida. The Stillingia root is considered to be very helpful for the lymphatic system. For many centuries, it was actually used to purify and cleanse the blood.


One of the primary uses for this oil during the nineteenth century was as a laxative, due to its expectorant and emetic qualities. It was used in this capacity for years, and because so many had strong reactions to the herb yet later began to display positive improvements, it became a very controversial form of treatment. It was also said to work well on external cancers. In cases of constipation it should only be used in very small doses. More than a small dose may cause a person to lose control of their bowels too rapidly.


Due to its expectorant qualities it has been known to be effective in the treatment of bronchial congestion and laryngitis. The powerful effect of the expectorant is known to help clear out and disperse the phlegm that gets stuck and accumulates in the lungs. That cough often experienced in these situations can be downright horrendous. Whether the cough is as serious as the croup or just violent and jarring, stillingia has been shown to provide sufferers with needed relief.


Also great at detoxifying, it promotes sweating which helps to eliminate toxins from your body. There are so many things that can potentially harm our bodies and we are often unaware of their presence. Whether it be your diet, the amount of stress you experience on a consistent basis, or environmental factors, toxins build up and are stored in our bodies faster and more consistently than we may realize. This blood-purifying herb helps to promote the process of toxins leaving your body. The removal of toxins and taking specific steps to aid this process is crucial to overall health.

Skin Care

This herb is also great for skin conditions. Similarly to how it positively benefits those who have external cancer, namely skin cancer, it helps to target and heal conditions like eczema and psoriasis. It targets the inflamed skin and helps to alleviate the overt reaction and toxin that is causing the breakout. It is also said to be good for acne issues for the very same reasons. Just a dab of stillingia oil will provide the skin with a powerful, acrid and drying element that can alleviate the type of skin reactions you have and the severity. Taking care of skin conditions can be difficult and you should have as many options for relief as possible.

You can purchase stillingia oil or queen’s root online from several companies at


The Effects Of Stress On Your Digestive System

Having a digestive system that’s not doing its job right is an awful feeling. And unfortunately, it’s a feeling that affects thousands of people every single day. Everything from minor issues like constipation, indigestion and just general intestinal and abdominal discomfort, to more serious problems like IBS or Crohn’s disease.

All of these are problems rooted in digestive issues and they can be caused by a number of different things like diet and lifestyle. Some people are just unlucky enough to have a genetic inclination towards digestive issues.

Something else that we don’t often hear about in connection with your digestive system is stress. We should be talking about this one though because it could be one of the contributors to your digestive problems.

How Stress Can Affect Your Digestion

Something that a lot of people don’t realize about their gut is that it’s one of the most prominent body parts involved in the nervous system. There is an awful lot more to the digestive system than people realize and this is one thing that people should learn about because it will change the way you treat your gut. The gut is packed full of neurons and chemicals, and there are almost as many in there as you would find in the spinal cord.

So as you can imagine, any problems in your gut can cause a lot of stress on your nerves and consequently on your brain too. You’ve probably heard the word “serotonin” before. This hormone is one of the main factors in your mood. And funnily enough, it’s produced almost entirely in your digestive system. When you’re stressed, your body focuses blood flow on your muscles and away from your digestive tract.

This means that your digestive system will slow down and become less efficient the more stressed out you are. This will cause things like constipation and intestinal discomfort, the unpleasant but less serious issues that we talked about. But the more often your body is subjected to these issues, the more serious the problems in your digestive tract will become.

It can limit the diversity in the microorganism in your digestive tract, meaning that your intestinal flora will become stilted and ineffective. Intestinal flora, in case you’re unaware of it, is important for maintaining a strong immune system. So chronic stress leads to weak intestinal flora which in turn leads to a weak immune system, meaning that you’ll be sick more often.

A weak immune system, especially one that’s caused by inefficient gut flora, can lead to things like IBS and polyps. And eventually, even bowel or colorectal cancer. In truth, long-term stress can be catastrophic for your digestive system.

How Can You Deal With This?

The first obvious answer to this question is to try and eliminate the amount of stress you deal with on a daily basis. That’s easier said than done of course. But it can be done if you’re willing to work on it. Improving your mental health will help with digestion and it works the other way too.

The best course of action to start with is finding out what it is that’s actually causing your stress in the first place. It could be any number of things. Stress can come from a bunch of different places – some of them you may have never even considered before. It could be something to do with family. If you’re going through a divorce, a bereavement or any kind of familial conflict, this could almost definitely stress you out.

Any kind of relationship or friendship issues can be stressful too. Even some major change that seems like a positive thing on the surface. If you’ve moved houses or moved jobs recently that could be it. You might be happy about the change but it’s still a major change and this can trigger an imbalance.

It could even be something as simple as not getting enough sleep or not getting outside enough. Find out about what normally causes people stress and see if it’s a factor in your life. Then try and change it and see if you’re still stressed. If you are, it’s probably something else. Keep doing this until your find the root of the problem and then adapt accordingly.


Being stressed is bad enough, but having problems with your digestion on account of your stress is a whole other level of misery. You can make sure that this doesn’t become a problem for you. And if it already is, there are effective ways to deal with it.

How To Tell If You Are Grinding Your Teeth

You may do everything right when it comes to taking care of your teeth. Yet even if you brush and floss twice a day and watch what you eat or drink, there’s only so much you can do. Some of the worst damage you can do to your teeth may be happening without you even being aware of it. You might wake up in the morning with a sore jaw and think you just slept in an odd position, but this could be a sign that you grind your teeth while you sleep. This condition, also known as bruxism, affects approximately 10 percent of adults.

Bruxism is characterized by the teeth grinding against one another during sleep. People who experience bruxism tend to sleep with their jaws clenched tight, and involuntary muscle movements cause their teeth to grind against one another. In some cases, people who experience bruxism may even grind their teeth subconsciously while they are awake. The following infographic details everything you need to know about teeth grinding.

Teeth Grinding Guide

Teeth Grinding Guide created by Schererville Family Dentistry.

8 Ways To Relieve And Prevent Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth can be very annoying especially when they start to interfere with your life. You can’t eat food that you want and have to take extreme care in choosing food to consume for fear of triggering the pain. Here are several steps to relieve and prevent teeth sensitivity.

  1. Choose The Right Toothpaste

The most obvious thing to do is to choose toothpaste made especially for sensitive teeth. There are many to choose from in the market. While such toothpastes might not work immediately, they’re definitely a step in the right direction. The important thing to remember is to keep using them. Don’t just use a tube and stop after it’s finished. It takes a while for teeth to get used to the toothpaste you’re using and for the medication to take effect.

  1. Rinse With Salt Water

A saltwater rinse has also been known to relieve the pain of sensitive teeth. Salt is an effective anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. You can gargle salt water twice in a day to relieve the pain. Honey and warm water is also another alternative. Honey is widely known to be a natural antibacterial and is used for wound management. It can help with the healing process and reduce inflammation.

Gargling hydrogen peroxide also helps because this compound is used as an antiseptic and disinfectant. It is used to clean cuts and burns to prevent infection. A mouthful of water and hydrogen peroxide solution can help reduce gum swelling and help it to heal faster.

  1. Switch To Soft Bristled Brush

Your toothbrush could also be a factor in your teeth sensitivity. Maybe switching from a hard bristle to a soft bristled brush can make all the difference. The manner in your brushing can also affect your teeth sensitivity. Brushing too vigorously could trigger pain receptors in the teeth. Make sure also to brush your teeth for two to three minutes. This will ensure that the active ingredients in the toothpaste take full effect.

  1. Avoid Acidic Food And Beverages

It’s also wise to avoid acidic food and beverages. Red wine, soda, fruit juices, pickled food, and fruits like oranges can greatly exacerbate your teeth sensitivity. These attack the enamel in your teeth causing pain. It’s best to avoid these food and drinks or at least minimize their intake. Brushing your teeth about 10 minutes after eating them will reduce their effect as well.

  1. Wear A Mouthguard To Stop Grinding

If you suffer from bruxism or teeth grinding, this can also aggravate teeth sensitivity. It is best to put a stop to it before it causes any further damage. Teeth grinding wears away the protective enamel of the teeth and exposes the nerve endings. The usual solution is wearing a mouth guard as you sleep or changing your position at night.

  1. Avoid Excessive Teeth Bleaching

Another culprit of your teeth sensitivity might be because of excessive teeth bleaching. More and more people are obsessed with achieving the Hollywood pearly whites. The treatment usually targets the enamel of the teeth to make them lighter. The pain usually goes away after the procedure but it’s best to talk to your dentist when you feel pain because they might be able to do something about it.

  1. Beware Of Gum Disease

Gum disease can also contribute to sensitive teeth pain. Receding gums expose the nerve endings at the base of the teeth which cause pain when they come in contact with something hot or cold – or even by hard brushing. Addressing this issue with your dentist can help relieve the pain of sensitive teeth.

  1. Practice Good Oral Hygiene

The best cure is prevention, as they say in the medical field. Preventing teeth sensitivity greatly depends on practicing good dental hygiene. Make sure to brush your teeth regularly using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Flossing also helps in the overall gum health. Using sensitizing toothpaste on your teeth right before you sleep can also help reduce sensitivity.

Author Bio:

Kerry Brooks, driven by the passion for blogging, loves to write about health care and beauty tips. She is currently working for, Idaho’s #1 leader in Sedation Dentistry providing the best service in East Idaho.

Measuring Sodium Intake May Not Be So Easy

Eating foods high in salt is known to contribute to high blood pressure, but does that linear relationship extend to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death? While recent studies have contested that relationship, a new study confirms it. The study – published in the International Journal of Epidemiology by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and their colleagues using multiple measurements – suggests that an inaccurate way of estimating sodium intake may help account for the paradoxical findings of others.

“Sodium is notoriously hard to measure,” says Nancy Cook, ScD, a biostatistician in the Department of Medicine at BWH. “Sodium is hidden and you often don’t know how much of it you’re eating, which makes it hard to estimate how much a person has consumed from a dietary questionnaire. Sodium excretions are the best measure, but there are many ways of collecting those. In our work, we used multiple measures to get a more accurate picture.”

Sodium intake can be measured using a spot test to determine how much salt has been excreted in a person’s urine sample. However, sodium levels in urine can fluctuate throughout the day so an accurate measure of a person’s sodium intake on a given day requires a full 24-hour sample. In addition, sodium consumption may change from day to day, meaning that the best way to get a full picture of sodium intake is to take samples on multiple days.

The team assessed sodium intake in multiple ways, including estimates based on that formula as well as ones based on the gold-standard method, which uses the average of multiple, non-consecutive urine samples. They assessed results for participants in the Trials of Hypertension Prevention, which included nearly 3,000 individuals with pre-hypertension.

The gold-standard method showed a direct linear relationship between increased sodium intake and increased risk of death. The team found that the Kawasaki formula suggested a J-shaped curve, which would imply that both low levels and high levels of sodium consumption were associated with increased mortality. “Our findings indicate that inaccurate measurement of sodium intake could be an important contributor to the paradoxical J-shaped findings reported in some cohort studies,” the authors stated. “Epidemiological studies should not associate health outcomes with unreliable estimates of sodium intake.”

Does Nutritional Labeling For Sodium Work?

Ninety percent of Americans eat more than the recommended amount of sodium per day. Foods popular in the American diet that are saturated with sodium include frozen pizza, potato chips and fast food hamburgers. New research from the University of Georgia has determined that one popular approach – nutrition labeling – doesn’t work. “Currently we don’t know which interventions are most effective to reduce sodium intake in the U.S. population, and the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act is the only policy in the U.S. focusing on informing consumers about sodium content on most packaged foods,” said Donglan “Stacy” Zhang, assistant professor of health policy and management at UGA’s College of Public Health and lead author on the study.

Nutrition labels are designed to help consumers make the best food choices for their health, which is why calories, fats and other major nutrients like protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals are prominently featured. In a paper published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Zhang and her co-authors examined the link between regularly reading nutrition labels and consumption of high-sodium foods.

Promoting Sodium Health

Using two consumer behavior data sets from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the researchers compared how frequently participants used nutrition labels and their daily sodium intake. They found a small effect. Frequent nutrition label users consumed 92 milligrams less sodium per day than infrequent nutrition label users, but label readers were still eating around 3,300 milligrams of sodium, well over the Food and Drug Administration’s recommended upper limit of 2,300 milligrams per day. “That’s a very small reduction,” said Zhang. “Without health promotion, without any other additional education intervention, nutrition labeling has little impact on sodium consumption.”

There is a need for better label design. The current label can present challenges to some consumers with limited education or non-English speakers. Visual or color-coded designs, like the traffic light model used on food packaging in the United Kingdom can overcome low literacy. “We need more research in this area, how to better design the label and how to best get this information to consumers to guide their decision-making,” Zhang said.

The effect varied widely across age, gender and socioeconomic groups. Specifically, low income consumers were less likely to use nutrition labels. “We suspect that low-income people are more concerned about other variables such as food prices or convenience,” she said. “Those other competing variables may be more important to them than nutrition values in their food products. Interventions that increase nutritious food choices for low-income consumers may be a more successful way to reduce sodium intake in these groups.”

Can A Healthy Diet Offset High Salt Intake?

A healthy diet may not offset the effects of a high salt intake on blood pressure, suggests a recent study. The research, from scientists at a number of institutions, including Imperial College London and Northwestern University, analyzed the diets of over 4,000 people. The results, published in the journal Hypertension, showed that people eating higher amounts of salt had higher blood pressure no matter how healthy a person’s overall diet.

High blood pressure affects more than one in four adults in the United Kingdom, and increases the risk of a number of conditions including heart attacks and stroke. It’s thought to have a number of causes, including age, weight and eating too much salt. Vitamins and minerals in fruit and vegetables might in some way affect blood vessels, enabling them to lower blood pressure. Previously, experts believed that eating high amounts of fruit and vegetables might help counteract the effect of high salt on blood pressure. However, while these foods do tend to lower blood pressure, the new research suggests they do not counteract the adverse influence of salt intake.

The team studied data from the INTERMAP study. In this study, which was conducted between 1997 and 1999, scientists tracked the diets of 4,680 people, aged 40 to 59, from the U.S., UK, Japan and China. The volunteers were tracked over four days, and two urine samples were taken. Measurements of height, weight and blood pressure were also taken. The team assessed concentrations of sodium and potassium in the urine samples. Sodium is the main component of salt, while potassium, which is found in green leafy vegetables, has been linked to lower blood pressure.

Blood Pressure And Salt Intake

The team also used dietary data to assess the volunteers’ intake of over 80 nutrients that may be linked to low blood pressure, including vitamin C, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. Many of these nutrients are found in fruit, vegetables and whole grains. The researchers found a correlation between high blood pressure and higher salt intake, even in people who were eating a high amount of potassium and other nutrients. The researchers estimated salt intake by analyzing sodium in the urine, as well as analyzing dietary data. The recommended upper limit of adult salt intake in the UK is six grams a day or one teaspoon.

The study found that average salt intake across the study was 10.7 grams a day. The average intake for the UK was 8.5 grams, while the intake for the U.S., China and Japan were 9.6 grams, 13.4 grams and 11.7 grams respectively. Increasing salt intake above this average amount was linked to an increase in blood pressure. An increase of an additional seven grams of salt above the average intake was associated with an increase in systolic blood pressure of 3.7 mmHg.

Blood pressure is measured in two numbers. The first, called systolic pressure, measures the force the heart pumps blood around the body. The second number, called diastolic pressure, is the resistance to blood flow in the arteries. Ideally, blood pressure should be between 90/60 and 120/80 mmHg. However, reducing blood pressure by just a small amount can reduce the risk of conditions such as stroke.

The research shows the importance of cutting salt intake. “We currently have a global epidemic of high salt intake and high blood pressure,” says Dr. Queenie Chan, joint lead author of the research from the School of Public Health at Imperial. “This research shows there are no cheats when it comes to reducing blood pressure. Having a low salt diet is key even if your diet is otherwise healthy and balanced. As a large amount of the salt in our diet comes from processed food, we are urging food manufacturers to take steps to reduce salt in their products.”

Survey Finds Huge Variation Of Salt Levels In Bread

Bread is one of the biggest sources of salt in diets. A recent survey by World Action on Salt and Health reveals the levels of salt present in this essential staple. WASH surveyed over 2,000 white, wholemeal, mixed grain and flat breads from 32 countries and regions, including over 500 products from Canada collected by Professor Mary L’Abbe’s lab at the University of Toronto

Seventy-three percent of Canadian breads exceeded Health Canada’s 2016 targets for sodium in bread products and 21 percent were above recommended maximum levels. The saltiest bread in the survey was Rosemary Foccacia by ACE Bakery, which is available in Canada. It contained 2.65 grams of salt (1060mg sodium) per 100 grams, which is saltier than seawater. In Canadians more than one year of age, bread contributes the most sodium to dietary intakes – 14 percent – primarily because it is consumed in large quantities.

Reducing salt in bread is an easy and effective way of lowering salt intake across the whole population. Research has shown that the salt content of bread could be lowered by 25 percent over six weeks and consumers would not notice the difference. More than 40 percent of white breads included in the WASH survey had more salt than the UK’s maximum salt target. The Republic of Macedonia produced white breads with the highest salt content, averaging 1.42g/100 grams, compared to China which had the lowest average salt content of 0.65g/100 grams. Canadian breads in this category had an average salt content of 1.23g/100 grams, ranging from 0.43g/100 grams to 2.65g/100 grams.

Despite the UK’s progress with salt reduction to date, the average salt content of wholemeal breads from Qatar, China, Costa Rica and South Africa were lower than the average salt content of wholemeal breads in the UK. This suggests that mandatory salt reduction targets, such as those put in place in South Africa, may be more effective than voluntary targets.

Although mixed grain breads had the lowest salt content of the bread categories, there was still a huge variation within this category. The highest salt bread available in Bulgaria had a salt content of 2.50g/100g, compared to the lowest salt bread available in Costa Rica with a salt content of 0.09g/100g. In Canada, the highest salt bread in this category had a salt content of 1.69 g/100g and the lowest 0.46 g/100g.

Salt Reduction Goal

A recent survey by WASH found that a third of respondents felt that the World Health Organization could do more to encourage countries to lower salt intakes. However, the majority of respondents felt that their country’s government should take primary responsibility. “Although recent Health Canada data has documented some progress in the reduction of sodium in prepackaged foods, Canadian bread products surveyed here demonstrate that more work is needed to meet recommended levels,” says Professor Mary L’Abbe at the University of Toronto.

“This survey clearly demonstrates the progress still to be made to lower salt intake by 30 percent by 2025, in line with WHO recommendations,” added Mhairi Brown, Nutritionist at WASH. “Bread is an essential staple food in many countries but is still a key source of salt in our diets due to the frequency with which we eat bread. Globally we must do more to reduce salt intake, and a simple way to do this is to lower salt in our staple foods.”

“Eating too much salt puts up our blood pressure, the major cause of strokes, heart attacks and heart failure, the leading cause of death and disability worldwide,” added Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiology at Queen Mary, University of London, and WASH Chairman. “Reducing salt intake around the world would save millions of lives each year and all countries should be working towards reducing salt intake by 30 percent by 2025. Our survey has shown that many bread manufacturers internationally are still adding huge and unnecessary amounts of salt to their products. Governments must act now and reinvigorate salt reduction work in the food industry.”

Limiting Your Salt Intake

Sodium intake also continues to be a major issue for many Americans. While the American Heart Association recommends an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 milligrams per day for most adults, recent findings showed that from 2013 to 2014 the average daily U.S. sodium intake was 3,409 milligrams excluding salt added at the table. These findings from the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed breads were the top source, comprising six percent of sodium consumed. This was followed by pizza, sandwiches, cold cuts and cured meats, soup, and rice. The most important thing consumers can do to ensure they are not overdoing on salt is to check food labels.

The AHA recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams a day, and an ideal limit of 1,500 milligrams for most adults. “Most items you buy at the grocery have a food label that will tell you exactly how much sodium is in that product,” says Anna Threadcraft, RDN, and Director of Employee Wellness at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “The recommended daily sodium intake is 2300 milligrams or less, which may seem like a lot, but that’s really the equivalent of a teaspoon. It is very easy to overconsume without realizing it.”  Most Americans consume their recommended sodium intake already through the foods they eat day to day, and when people add more salt for flavor, that pushes them over the limit.

Because the average American’s sodium intake is so excessive, even cutting back to no more than 2,400 milligrams a day will significantly improve blood pressure and heart health. “I encourage people to taste their food before salting to see if food actually needs it to ensure they’re not salting simply out of habit,” she said.

Read The Labels

Americans get most of their daily sodium – more than 75 percent – from processed and restaurant foods. Sodium is already in processed and restaurant foods when purchased, which makes it difficult to reduce daily sodium intake. “I think the first and most important thing people can do is to read the labels on the products they buy,” Threadcraft continued. “Pre-packaged foods definitely have their place, but they should be chosen carefully.”

The first thing to do when looking at labels is to identify the serving size, then look at the milligrams of sodium which are connected with the serving size listed. “A lot of people who have busy schedules need something quick and pre-prepared to eat,” she said. “That doesn’t mean you have to give up flavor in order to get something healthy that is also easy to make. Frozen vegetables are a great option for a quick and low-sodium side at dinner, and typically there is no sodium added.”

When using canned vegetables, look for low-sodium or sodium-free options since many canned food items are high in sodium. Rinsing canned items is another way to reduce the sodium content.  Americans eat at fast food or dine-in restaurants four or five times a week. For those who frequent restaurants, most establishments have their nutrition facts listed either online or in the store.

Pure Herbs And Spices

Consumers should also be aware of hidden sources of sodium such as sauces and dressings, and ask for these toppings on the side. One tablespoon of teriyaki sauce can have 879 milligrams of sodium. The same amount of soy sauce may have up to 1,005 milligrams – almost half of the recommended daily intake. Try using pure herbs and spices instead of extra salt to find the perfect flavor. “There is no salt in pure herbs and spices at all, and you can get a very rich flavor from those,” Threadcraft said. “Acidic juices like orange or pineapple are great marinade alternatives for chicken or fish compared to barbecue sauce or soy sauce.”

To get the most flavor from herbs, crush or rub them before adding them to the dish. Buy herbs and spices in small amounts as you need them rather than storing them for a long time. If using fresh herbs such as parsley or cilantro, store them in water so they stay fresh.  Most Americans eat three meals a day, and depending on diets, breakfast may be the biggest culprit when it comes to sodium intake.  “In the South, we love our salt,” Threadcraft said. “Breakfast casseroles, sausage and bacon are major sources of sodium. While watching sodium intake can be tedious, all foods can fit. If you really love bacon, which is high in sodium, then maybe you can make a wise choice and not add salt to your eggs at breakfast. You can find ways to compromise, but be smart with it.”

The Health Risks

“Excess sodium can increase your blood pressure and your risk for a heart disease and stroke,” Threadcraft continued. “Together, heart disease and stroke kill more Americans each year than any other cause.” But salt does not just increase risk of stroke and heart disease. UAB researchers David and Jennifer Pollock, Ph.D., are studying the effects of salt on the renal system. “We know that the Western diet we all eat has far too much salt in it, and we know the number of people consuming salt in Western and developing countries is rising,” David Pollock said. “Evolutionarily speaking, we didn’t have bountiful salt in the diet until just in the last 100 years. But physiologically, we are designed to conserve salt. We haven’t evolved to handle these high-salt diets we’re eating. Now that it’s become appreciated that a high-salt diet may contribute to the rise of many diverse health problems including autoimmune disease, trying to understand how the body regulates salt is extremely important.”

Salt helps to maintain the body’s fluid balance and maintain muscle contraction and is a vital component of blood, plasma and digestive secretions. Salt is not inherently bad, but people need to learn to manage it effectively.

Health Benefits Of Distilled Water

Water is important to human life and you cannot do without it. It goes without saying that you need to get it in the safest form. Researchers have proven that distilled water is the purest form of water and it comes with a lot of benefits.

What Does Distillation Mean?

Water is distilled through a simple method known as distillation. It is done by boiling water until it turns into steam then condensing it back to liquid form. By doing this, all impurities such as chemicals and heavy metals are removed.

Distilled water is not only good for your health but also for other household items. For example, since distilled water is free from all impurities, it lathers easily thus saving soap while washing. Your pipes and other machines that use water are also safe when you use distilled water.

If you’re wondering how to get distilled water at home, there are some automated water distillers in the market that can be installed in your home. Having them will ensure that you’ll always have the best pure water.

Here are some health benefits of distilled water:

A Natural Detox Method

Lately, there has been a rise in the number of people looking for ways to lose weight. Detox has been among the top solutions and people are using several types of smoothies in order to shed the excess weight.

Distilled water also removes the harmful chemicals in your body. How you may ask? When you drink a lot of water, you urinate more and the harmful ingredients are flushed out of your system.

Water is also easy to consume because its taste is natural and sweet unlike some smoothies and other detox drinks. This way, you will get the perfect body and save the money you would have used in buying the detox ingredients.

Protects Against Diseases

Most of the time, people are at a crossroads about what water is safe to drink. This is especially true for those who drink water directly from the tap. Although municipalities have a water treatment area, the water is not completely safe, and it might contain some bacteria which causes diseases. Distillation, on the other hand, ensures that no bacteria or chemicals are left in your water. If you’re not sure what kind of water you should use, we recommend distilled all the way. For those who suffer from severe headaches and brain fog, distilled water might be your solution.

Keeps Your Skin And Hair Looking Healthy

Hydration is known for keeping the skin healthy and glowing. As much as you need to hydrate, also consider which water is good for washing. Distilled water leaves your skin looking healthy and soft. If you’re having an issue with dry skin and eczema, try distilled water and the results will definitely wow you.

For the hair, washing it with distilled water leaves it looking healthy and shiny. Don’t rush to buy expensive shampoos and lotions, just use distilled water – it is the best water for your body!

Ensures You Don’t Take Unhealthy Minerals

Water treatment plants often add chlorine in water to kill the germs. Yes, it kills the germs, but it’s not good when it clogs your system. If you’ve been in a swimming pool, you know how chlorine works. It leaves your skin looking dry and cracked when you stay in the water for awhile. Imagine those minerals going into your body. Drinking water that has chlorine in it will damage your inner organs and it’s also known to discolor teeth.

Distilled water does not contain any of these minerals, therefore, you’re protected from the damage that would be caused by the minerals.

Lifts Your Mood

When you don’t drink enough water, you are likely to feel tired, sluggish, confused and even grumpy. These are some of the ways your body communicates to show that something is lacking. When someone is dehydrated, their concentration is low and they are easily irritated. Drinking distilled water will leave your body feeling fresh and rejuvenated. The functioning of the muscles and brain improves. This shows that water’s nutritional value is very important.


Distilled water, as we’ve seen, has a lot to offer. Your body will thank you for drinking it and you will reap many health benefits. However, the purchase and installation of a distillation machine can be quite expensive to the average household; these machines don’t come cheap! But, having known all the health benefits that you stand to enjoy, wouldn’t you want to invest in one?

You’ll be effectively investing in your health! Also, if you do the math, bottled water is more expensive than distilled water in the long run. The only downside is that you’ll need to take lots of fruits and vegetables to replace some important minerals which may be lost during distillation.

Do you know other benefits of distilled water? Feel free to share them with us in the comment section.

Author’s Bio: Tommy Rosenfield is a freelance writer and tutor. He studied journalism at New York University. Also, he loves football, camping, and healthy living. Now, as a dad of two, he is constantly on the lookout for tips and tricks to make life easier and spend more time with his family. He writes a lot about gardens and the household on his blog

Beauty Benefits Of Candlenut Oil

Even if you are well versed in the many oils available for your different skin, hair and health needs, you may feel like switching it up a bit. There’s nothing wrong with having a plethora of options when it comes to what you use, what works best and how. Because of this, we enjoy nothing more than expanding your knowledge and providing you with needed information about the latest and greatest – and sometimes unknown oils. Today our dissection includes an oil with some impressive qualities: candlenut oil also known in many spaces as kukui nut oil. Here are some of the most noteworthy.

Keeps Hair Color Intact

Whether you dye your hair because you enjoy change or because you’re trying to cover up grays, this oil is something your hair will definitely appreciate. It helps to sharpen your hair color while also nourishing the hair to fight off any incoming grays. If you are already suffering from a few strands of gray hair, never fear as this oil has been said to even be able to revert already gray hair back to its original color. It also provides the hair with an enormous source of vitamins and minerals that will give your hair a more deep bodied shine and luster while giving your color the type of vibrancy that it may often lack.

Prevents Hair Loss

Whether you are dealing with a health condition or struggling with premature aging signs, losing your hair or noticing more hair fall than normal can be particularly painful. Things like harsh products, environmental toxins and overexposure to the elements can weaken hair. The amino acids and essential fatty acids present in candlenut oil help to hydrate and replenish the hair with the necessary elements it may be lacking. This will help fortify your scalp and diminish your hair loss. The regenerative effects are pretty exceptional. After using candlenut oil consistently for a couple of weeks, you’ll be able to see the difference.

Skin Aid

This oil has a high amount of linoleic acid which makes it a great skin oil. It easily penetrates the deepest layer of the skin which means it seals off the skin from outside factors that can be harmful to it. Think about things like wind, sun, smoke, free radicals. All of these facets pose a damage to your skin. With this oil, your skin is properly protected. This lowers the chance of things like acne and premature age markers appearing.

Natural Glow

Due to the non-sticky consistency of the oil, it provides the skin with a smooth and silky finish without being oily or overwhelming. The vitamins and minerals within the oil do a fantastic job of promoting skin radiance and overall health. All the vitamins that the skin needs, such as E, C and A, provide it with antioxidants that promote glowing, luminous skin. Candlenut oil will thwart those pesky skin problems and signs of aging, all while giving your skin a definitive glow.

You can purchase candlenut or kukui nut oil online from several companies at


The Connections Between Gum Disease And Overall Health

If you’re serious about your health, you likely spend a lot of time making sure your lifestyle choices are wise ones. That probably means you’re paying close attention to what you’re eating, getting enough exercise and sleeping regular hours. Yet for all of your smart decisions regarding your lifestyle, you may be doing yourself a disservice if you neglect to take care of your teeth. That’s because gum disease can have some surprising connections to your overall health. In fact, failing to care for your teeth and gums can lead to serious health problems.

For example, the bacteria that can develop in your mouth without proper dental hygiene can find their way into your bloodstream. This can lead to infections and a weakening of your blood vessels, increasing your risk of stroke. Periodontal disease also has been linked to other health complications including low birth weight, diabetes and even cancer. No matter how healthy the rest of your lifestyle is, taking care of your teeth and gums is not optional. Read the accompanying guide for more information about how your oral health can influence your overall health, along with some tips for keeping your teeth and gums healthy.


</strong><br /><br /><a href=’’><img src=’′ alt=” 540px border=’0′ /></a></p>Infographic </a> </strong> created by <strong><a target=”_blank” href=””>Rosen Orthodontics</a>

How to Take Care Of Your Skin With Activated Charcoal

Skincare is an especially important part of life because, without adequate care, you’re going to encounter a plethora of potential issues. For example, having flaky skin is problematic, and so is too much oil.

The truth is, these are issues that are troublesome only if they happen on your face – although you’ll want to fix them elsewhere too. The reason behind this is that people usually see the skin of your face quite clearly and easily, while other locations aren’t that noticeable. If you have oily skin on your head beneath your hair it’s not that simple.

If you have any of the issues we’re going to mention, choosing activated charcoal as a solution is recommended. It all stems from the fact that charcoal is amazing at cleaning and detoxifying. So, here’s why activated charcoal is used as a facial skin treatment for a couple of the following issues.

Clear Pores

Pores can get blocked regularly, and you’ll start itching and sweating more. There’s usually no simple way to clear out the pores, but in this case, there is. All you need is some activated charcoal powder, and that’s it.

Put the powder on your face, let it sit for a while, and wash your face with water. Voila! Pores cleared and the skin can breathe again. Other methods deal with this but they’re usually more expensive, and you’ll need to constantly keep coming back if your pores get clogged up again. This way, you can clean everything yourself!

Control Oil Production

Human skin is naturally a bit oily, but this doesn’t mean that every level of oil is acceptable. If you feel it getting too oily, it’s best if you start doing something about it right away. Generally, you’ll want a product that will reduce oil production completely while also clearing it out right now, and that’s exactly where activated charcoal comes into play. Charcoal magic – that’s what it is!

Again, this type of charcoal is exceptional when it comes to getting rid of toxins and cleaning your skin, which is why it’s recommended as a way of treating too much oil production. Not only will it help your skin at the moment, but it’ll also have long-term effects, potentially reducing the amount of oil in your skin in the future.

Brighten Your Skin

Skin blemishes appear out of a variety of reasons which is why they’re so annoying. You never know why your skin started to lose its pigment and shine, so you can’t exactly know what to fix. People always say that this will help out, and that will help out, but unless you have a universal product which deals with such a problem, you’ll have to figure out the root of it.

In this case, you don’t have to think too much. Activated charcoal is more than capable at getting rid of skin blemishes, discoloration, and even staining. Plus, one pack of activated charcoal facial cream will last you for quite some time, so if you get discoloration again, grab some charcoal and spread it all over!

Detoxify Skin

Today’s world is fast paced, stressful, and dirty. You can never know if you picked up a disease or exposed yourself to dangerous toxins. Your skin, although it sounds weird, can also suffer from toxins. Toxin build-up is mainly due to poor hygiene, but some people have medical conditions which prevent their skin from being, let’s say “normal” – as in, not being so exposed to toxins.

If you’re having issues with this and want to clean your skin completely – which is also fine – then activated charcoal is for you.

Treat Acne

We all were teenagers once, and most of us suffered from acne and pimples throughout puberty. Your entire body starts to change, your skin starts to change, and the end result before the process is complete is that you have acne.

Now, there are some great commercial products which deal with acne quite effectively, but they’re usually expensive and don’t last very long. You don’t have to go searching for those because activated charcoal is there to help! Get rid of acne quickly by using activated charcoal on your skin.

The Link Between Food Waste And Diet Quality

Did you know that Americans waste nearly a pound of food per person each day? The exact amount of food we trash differs by how healthy your diet is,  says a recent University of Vermont co-authored national study published in PLOS ONE.  Between 2007 and 2014, U.S. consumers wasted nearly 150,000 tons of food per day – or nearly a pound of food per person each day. Researchers estimate that food waste corresponded with the use of 30 million acres of land annually and 4.2 trillion gallons of irrigation water each year. The amount of wasted food equals roughly 30 percent of the average daily calories consumed for every American – more than 320 million people.

While most people want to eat better by putting more fruit and vegetables on their plates, the study found that higher quality diets were associated with higher levels of food waste. The study, by researchers at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, University of Vermont and University of New Hampshire, is the first to explore the links between diet quality, food waste and environment impacts. 

Healthy Diets And Food Waste

Twenty-two food groups were studied. Fruits, vegetables and mixed fruit and vegetable dishes – 39 percent – were wasted most followed by dairy – 17 percent – and meat and mixed meat dishes – 14 percent. “Higher quality diets have greater amounts of fruits and vegetables, which are being wasted in greater quantities than other food,” says co-author Meredith Niles, a University of Vermont assistant professor. “Eating healthy is important, and brings many benefits, but as we pursue these diets, we must think much more consciously about food waste.”

The study also found that healthier diets used less cropland than lower quality diets, but led to greater waste in irrigation water and pesticides, which are used at higher rates on average for growing fruits and vegetables. “Most existing research has looked at greenhouse gas emissions or land use and its link with different diets,” Niles added. “This study is the first to consider food waste as another important component of varying diet outcomes.”

The researchers estimated that consumer food waste corresponded to harvests produced with the use of 780 million pounds of pesticide and 1.8 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer annually. Both represent significant costs to the environment and the farmers who dedicate land and resources to producing food that’s meant to be eaten.

Embrace Imperfect Food

Education on preparing and storing fresh fruits and vegetables, and knowing the difference between abrasion and spoilage, is critical. Other policy efforts underway range from revising sell-by dates and labels for consistency, food planning and preparation education. Efforts to reduce food waste include French grocer Intermarché’s “inglorious fruits and vegetables” campaign, which promotes the cooking of “the disfigured eggplant,” “the ugly carrot,” and other healthy, but otherwise superficially damaged produce. “Food waste is an issue that plays out at many different levels,” says lead author Zach Conrad at the ARS Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center. “Looking at them holistically will become increasingly important to finding sustainable ways of meeting the needs of a growing world population.”

To investigate the impact of diet quality on food waste and environmental sustainability, researchers collected data on food intake and diet quality from the 2015 Healthy Eating Index and USDA’s What We Eat in America database as well as available food waste data. The researchers calculated the amount of cropland used to produce wasted food using a biophysical simulation model. Using data from various U.S. government sources, the researchers estimated the amount of agricultural inputs, including irrigation water, pesticides and fertilizers used to produce uneaten food.

While low-quality diets may produce less food waste, they come with a range of negative impacts, researchers say. This includes low nutritional value and higher rates of cropland wasted. The study notes that several countries, including Brazil, Germany, Sweden, and Qatar, have adopted dietary guidelines that incorporate environmental sustainability, but none include food waste as a factor.

Preventing Food Waste

In another study, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future calculated the nutritional value of food wasted in the U.S. at the retail and consumer levels. They shined a light on just how much protein, fiber and other important nutrients end up in the landfill in a single year. These lost nutrients are important for healthy diets, and some, including dietary fiber, calcium, potassium and vitamin D, are currently consumed below recommended levels. Nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, seafood and dairy products are wasted at disproportionately high rates.

Previous research estimated that as much as 40 percent of food is wasted nationally, but it wasn’t clear before this study how nutritious that food was. While not all wasted food is consumable, a sizeable amount is, leaving researchers and policymakers looking for ways to minimize the amount of good food that gets tossed as millions of Americans go hungry, do not get enough nutrients or do not have access to healthy food options. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency have set a goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030. “Huge quantities of nutritious food end up in landfills instead of meeting Americans’ dietary needs,” says study lead author Marie Spiker, MSPH, RD. “Our findings illustrate how food waste exists alongside inadequate intake of many nutrients.”

The researchers calculated the nutritional value of the retail and consumer-level food waste of 213 commodities in 2012, using data from the USDA’s Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data series. The research team, looking at 27 nutrients in all, found that food wasted in the U.S. food supply that year contained 1,217 calories, 33 grams of protein, 5.9 grams of dietary fiber, 1.7 micrograms of vitamin D, 286 milligrams calcium and 880 milligrams potassium per person, per day.

Other Factors

The study also highlights how the amount of nutrients lost to waste compares to nutritional deficits in the typical American diet. For example, dietary fiber is important for maintaining digestive health and is found in grains, vegetables and fruits. Researchers estimate that, in 2012, food wasted each day contained upwards of 1.8 billion grams of dietary fiber, which is comparable to the full recommended intake for dietary fiber for 73.6 million adult women. American women under-consumed dietary fiber by 8.9 grams per day in 2012. The study found that the daily amount of wasted dietary fiber is equivalent to the amount needed to fill this nutritional gap for as many as 206.6 million adult women.

Many factors contribute to food waste at both the retail and consumer levels, including the disposal of food due to aesthetic standards, large portion sizes, and management of perishables in fridges and pantries. There is currently great energy around efforts to address waste of food. Preventing waste at the source is considered to be the optimal approach. Strengthening food recovery efforts that bring surplus food to food banks and pantries is also an important area of effort, innovation and impact.

“This study offers us new ways of appreciating the value of wasted food,” says Roni Neff, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Health and Engineering who oversaw the study and directs the CLF’s Food System Sustainability & Public Health Program. “While not all food that is wasted could or should be recovered, it reminds us that we are dumping a great deal of high quality, nutritious food that people could be enjoying. We should keep in mind that while food recovery efforts are valuable, food recovery doesn’t get to the heart of either the food insecurity problem or the waste problem. We need strategies addressing these challenges at multiple levels.”

Switching To Plant-Based Diets

The biggest waste of food produced for human consumption may be through dietary choices that result in the squandering of environmental resources. In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science and their colleagues have found a novel way to define and quantify this second type of wastage. The scientists have called it “opportunity food loss,” a term inspired by the “opportunity cost” concept in economics, which refers to the cost of choosing a particular alternative over better options.

Opportunity food loss stems from using agricultural land to produce animal-based food instead of nutritionally comparable plant-based alternatives. The researchers report that in the United States alone, avoiding opportunity food loss – replacing all animal-based items with edible crops for human consumption – would add enough food to feed 350 million additional people with the same land resources. “Our analysis has shown that favoring a plant-based diet can potentially yield more food than eliminating all the conventionally defined causes of food loss,” says lead author Dr. Alon Shepon.

The scientists compared the resources needed to produce five major categories of animal-based food – beef, pork, dairy, poultry and eggs – with the resources required to grow edible crops of similar nutritional value in terms of protein, calorie and micronutrients. They found that plant-based replacements could produce two to 20-fold more protein per acre. The most dramatic results were obtained for beef. The researchers compared it with a mix of crops – soya, potatoes, cane sugar, peanuts and garlic – that deliver a similar nutritional profile when taken together in the right proportions. The land area that could produce 100 grams of protein from these crops would yield only four grams of edible protein from beef.

Using agricultural land for producing beef instead of replacement crops results in an opportunity food loss of 96 grams – a loss of 96 percent per unit of land. This means that the potential gain from diverting agricultural land from beef to plant-based foods for human consumption would be enormous. The estimated losses from failing to replace other animal-based foods with nutritionally similar crops were also huge: 90 percent for pork, 75 percent for dairy, 50 percent for poultry and 40 percent for eggs – higher than all conventional food losses combined. Opportunity food loss must be taken into account if we want to make dietary choices enhancing global food security.

Can Young Children’s Oral Bacteria Predict Obesity?

A study describing the results of weight gain trajectories in early childhood related to the composition of oral bacteria of two-year-old children recently appeared in the journal Scientific Reports. The study suggests that this understudied aspect of a child’s microbiota – the collection of microorganisms including beneficial bacteria residing in the mouth – could serve as an early indicator for childhood obesity. “One in three children in the United States is overweight or obese,” says Kateryna Makova, Pentz Professor of Biology and senior author of the paper. “If we can find early indicators of obesity in young children, we can help parents and physicians take preventive measures.”

The study is part of a larger project with researchers and clinicians at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center called INSIGHT, led by Ian Paul, professor of pediatrics at the Medical Center, and Leann Birch, professor of foods and nutrition at the University of Georgia. The INSIGHT trial includes nearly 300 children and tests whether a responsive parenting intervention during a child’s early life can prevent the development of obesity. It is also designed to identify biological and social risk factors for obesity. “In this study, we show that a child’s oral microbiota at two years of age is related to their weight gain over their first two years after birth,” says Makova.

The human digestive tract is filled with a diverse array of microorganisms, including beneficial bacteria that help ensure proper digestion and support the immune system. This “microbiota” shifts as a person’s diet changes and can vary greatly among individuals. Variation in gut microbiota has been linked to obesity in some adults and adolescents, but the potential relationship between oral microbiota and weight gain in children had not been explored prior to this study. “The oral microbiota is usually studied in relation to periodontal disease, and periodontal disease has in some cases been linked to obesity,” said Sarah Craig, a postdoctoral scholar in biology at Penn State and first author of the paper. “Here, we explored any potential direct associations between the oral microbiota and child weight gain. Rather than simply noting whether a child was overweight at the age of two, we used growth curves from their first two years after birth, which provides a more complete picture of how the child is growing. This approach is highly innovative for a study of this kind, and gives greater statistical power to detect relationships.”

Common Bacteria Groups

Among 226 children from central Pennsylvania, the oral microbiota of those with rapid infant weight gain – a strong risk factor for childhood obesity – was less diverse, meaning it contained fewer groups of bacteria. These children also had a higher ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes, two of the most common bacteria groups found in the human microbiota. “A healthy person usually has a lot of different bacteria within their gut microbiota,” said Craig. “This high diversity helps protect against inflammation or harmful bacteria and is important for the stability of digestion in the face of changes to diet or environment. There’s also a certain balance of these two common bacteria groups, Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes, that tends to work best under normal healthy conditions, and disruptions to that balance could lead to deregulation in digestion.”

Lower diversity and higher Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio in gut microbiota are sometimes observed as a characteristic of adults and adolescents with obesity. However, the researchers did not see a relationship of weight gain with either of these measures in gut microbiota of two-year-olds, suggesting that the gut microbiota may not be completely established at two years of age and may still be undergoing many changes. “There are usually dramatic changes to an individual’s microbiota as they develop during early childhood,” said Makova. “Our results suggest that signatures of obesity may be established earlier in oral microbiota than in gut microbiota. If we can confirm this in other groups of children outside of Pennsylvania, we may be able to develop a test of oral microbiota that could be used in clinical care to identify children who are at risk for developing obesity. This is particularly exciting because oral samples are easier to obtain than those from the gut, which require fecal samples.”

Interestingly, weight gain in children was also related to diversity of their mother’s oral microbiota. This could reflect a genetic predisposition of the mother and child to having a similar microbiota, or the mother and child having a similar diet and environment. “It could be a simple explanation like a shared diet or genetics, but it might also be related to obesity,” said Makova. “We don’t know for sure yet, but if there is an oral microbiome signature linked to the dynamics of weight gain in early childhood, there is a particular urgency to understand it. Now we are using additional techniques to look at specific species of bacteria – rather than larger taxonomic groups of bacteria – in both the mothers and children to see whether specific bacteria species influence weight gain and the risk of obesity.”

Study: Dental Research Shows That Smoking Weakens Immune Systems

Researchers at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine recently found that smoking also weakens the ability for pulp in teeth to fight illness and disease.  In other words, smokers have fewer defense mechanisms on the inside of their teeth. “That might explain why smokers have poorer endodontic outcomes and delayed healing than non-smokers,” says Anita Aminoshariae, associate professor of endodontics and director of predoctoral endodontics. “Imagine TNF-? and hBD-2 are among the soldiers in a last line of defense fortifying a castle. Smoking kills these soldiers before they even have a chance at mounting a solid defense.”

The results of the study were published in the Journal of Endodontics. Previously, there was little research into the endodontic effects of smoking – the inside of teeth. Smokers had worse outcomes than nonsmokers, with greater chances of developing gum disease and nearly two times more likely to require a root canal.

The Research

This new preliminary research set out to explain the possible contributing factors. Thirty-two smokers and 37 nonsmokers with endodontic pulpitis – more commonly known as dental-tissue inflammation – were included in the study. “We began with a look at the dental pulp of smokers compared with nonsmokers,” Aminoshariae added. “We hypothesized that the natural defenses would be reduced in smokers; we didn’t expect them to have them completely depleted.”

One interesting find, Aminoshariae noted, was that for two patients who quit smoking, those defenses returned.