Eczema And Skin Defects In The News

Research – published in a recent issue of the journal JCI Insight – has discovered a cause of the dry, inflamed and itchy skin that plagues eczema patients. A team led by Donald Leung, MD, Ph.D. at National Jewish Health learned that an immune system skewed toward allergy alters the lipids in the skin. The altered lipids allow the skin to crack, water to leave and irritants to enter, setting the stage for eczematous lesions to develop.

“We have long known that an activated immune system and a defective skin barrier are both important factors in eczema, but not how they are related and which one drives the disease,” says Dr. Leung. “We have now shown that the allergic immune response shortens lipids in the skin, making them less effective at maintaining moisture and more susceptible to irritants.”

The researchers first examined skin from eczema patients and found lipids that were shorter than lipids in the skin of participants with no disease. Lipids are waxy substances vital to healthy skin. They help keep allergens, irritants and infections out, while keeping moisture in. Lipids with longer carbon chains are stronger and more water repellent. The shorter lipids prevalent on eczema patients’ skin protect the skin less effectively. Patients’ skin cells also produced fewer of the enzymes that lengthen lipid chains. When they added cytokines IL-4 and IL-13 to cultured human skin cells, the allergic immune response kicked into high gear and lipids became shorter.

Treatment with those pro-allergic enzymes also reduced expression of lipid-lengthening enzymes. Blocking the activity of IL-4 and IL-13 in the cultured skin cells resulted in an abundance of long-chain lipids. “Our findings demonstrate how the pro-allergic, type 2 immune response alters lipid formation in the skin, leading to a defective skin barrier and the dry, cracked and itchy skin in eczema,” said Dr. Leung.

New Study Identifies A Natural Brake In Allergic Attacks

Eczema – known as atopic dermatitis – is a chronic skin disease that afflicts an estimated 35 million Americans. It is characterized by patches of itchy, dry and cracked skin, which can profoundly impact patients’ lives. Although symptoms mostly involve the skin, an allergic immune response has long been recognized as an important component of the disease. Eczema affects about 17 percent of children in developed countries and is often the gateway to food allergy and asthma, initiating an “atopic march” toward broader allergic sensitization. There are treatments such as steroid creams and a recently approved biologic, but they are expensive or have side effects.

A recent study in Science Immunology suggests a different approach to eczema, one that stimulates a natural brake on the allergic attack. The skin inflammation of eczema is known to be driven by “type 2” immune responses. These are led by activated T helper 2 (TH2) cells and type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s), together known as effector cells. Another group of T cells, known as regulatory T cells or Tregs, are known to temper type 2 responses, thereby suppressing the allergic response. If you examine an eczema lesion, the numbers of Tregs are unchanged.

Tregs comprise only about five percent of the body’s T cells, but up to 50 percent of T cells in the skin. “Our question was, is there something special about the Tregs that reside in the skin?” says Raif Geha, MD, chief of the Division of Immunology at Boston Children’s Hospital and the senior author of the study. Geha led an investigation using two separate mouse models of eczema, each recreating a separate pathway leading to allergic skin inflammation. The team purified Tregs from the animals’ skin and blood and compared the genes they express.

The Double Whammy

Several genes were especially likely to be turned on in the skin Tregs. One encodes retinoid-related orphan receptor alpha (ROR?), a transcription factor that itself regulates multiple other genes. “We then used a genetic trick to remove ROR? only from Tregs,” says Geha. “Without ROR?, allergic inflammation went crazy in both our mouse models.” The team saw a three-fold increase in the influx of inflammatory cells, and ILC2s and TH2 cells were at the center of the action.”

Why did the Tregs stop working when ROR? was removed? Geha and colleagues discovered that the cells made less of a receptor for a cytokine called TNF ligand-related molecule 1, or TL1A. TL1A is released by skin cells known as keratinocytes, and activates not only Tregs but also ILC2 and TH2 effector cells. “The two kinds of immune cells are competing for TL1A,” Geha explains. “If Tregs don’t have this receptor, they can’t ‘see’ TL1A. Not only are they not activated, but more TL1A is available to activate the effector cells. So you have a double whammy.”

Testing human samples, the team documented higher expression of ROR? in skin Tregs compared with those in blood, similar to mice. Geha now wants to see if ROR? is expressed less in human eczema and whether it’s important in the atopic march. If so, he sees several possible treatment approaches. One is to boost ROR?’s level or activity with compounds that act as ROR? agonists, perhaps given in a topical cream. Geha’s lab also plans to look for factors in the skin that drive ROR? activity, which could present other targets for intervention. Finally, the study showed that ROR? regulates the expression of several genes important for Treg cell migration and function; those pathways could be potential targets too.

Reasons For Eczema Susceptibility

Scientists have uncovered evidence that a deficiency in the skin’s barrier is key to triggering eczema. The team at Newcastle University, in collaboration with scientists at Stiefel, have identified how a key skin barrier protein called filaggrin impacts on other proteins and pathways in the skin, which in turn drive the development of eczema. This also lead them to identify potential targets for future drug development which could treat the underlying cause rather than treating the symptoms.

The research builds on the discovery by scientists in Dundee which showed that lack of the protein filaggrin in the skin caused an inherited dry skin condition known as ichthyosis vulgaris that is strongly linked to the development of atopic eczema, as well as other allergic diseases such as hayfever and asthma. Nick Reynolds, Professor of Dermatology at Newcastle University and who works within the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is the lead investigator of the study. “We have shown for the first time that loss of the filaggrin protein alone is sufficient to alter key proteins and pathways involved in triggering eczema,” Reynolds said. “This research reinforces the importance of filaggrin deficiency leading to problems with the barrier function in the skin and predisposing someone to eczema.”

More Pivotal Research

Publishing in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology(JACI), researchers at Newcastle University, in collaboration with scientists at Stiefel, reported on their development of a human model system. In this, the upper layer of skin (epidermis) was modified, using molecular techniques, to become filaggrin-deficient, directly mimicking the situation observed in the skin of patients with atopic eczema.

This model enabled the team to discover proteins and signaling pathways directly down-stream of filaggrin, and most importantly, identified a number of key regulatory mechanisms. These included regulators of inflammatory signaling, cell structure, barrier function and stress response. These pathways were found to map to those networks observed in the skin of people with active eczema. This mapping provides researchers with new understanding of the mechanisms involved and suggests targets for future drug development.

“This latest research from Newcastle is crucial as it expands on our knowledge of how filaggrin impacts on other proteins and pathways in the skin, which in turn trigger the disease,” says Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists. “This type of research allows scientists to develop treatments that target the actual root cause of the disease, rather than just managing its symptoms. Given the level of suffering eczema causes, this is a pivotal piece of research.”

Can You Improve Children’s Eczema With Silk Clothing?

No significant differences were observed in eczema severity for children with moderate to severe eczema who wore silk garments compared with those who wore their usual clothing, according to a randomized controlled study published in PLOS Medicine by Kim Thomas from University of Nottingham, UK, and colleagues. Clothing may play a role in either exacerbating or soothing eczema, and patients often avoid wool garments and turn to cotton and other fine weave fabrics, including silk.

In the study, 300 children ages one to 15 years with moderate to severe eczema were recruited from five United Kingdom centers covering a range of rural and urban settings. The participants were randomly divided into two groups. Half the children received the standard of care and the other half received the standard of care plus silk garments that are claimed to be beneficial for eczema.

After six months, there was no significant difference in eczema severity based on the Eczema Area and Severity Index. There was also no difference in quality of life or medication use between the groups. The researchers report that the garments are unlikely to be cost-effective even if the small differences between groups were genuine, with a computed cost per quality. A limitation of the study is that the use of an objective outcome measure – an eczema severity score assessed by research nurses – may underestimate changes in symptoms. “The results of this trial suggest that silk garments are unlikely to provide additional clinical or economic benefits over standard care for children with moderate to severe eczema,” the authors added.

Key Benefits Of Tonka Bean Oil

In recent years the tonka bean and its impressive properties have gained international acclaim for all the ways that it can help. Not only does the bean have a natural pleasant aroma, similar to that of vanilla, it has a whole host of other advantages that go far beyond aromatherapy. Tonka bean is an oil that is an amber color and typically very thick in consistency. Much like coconut oil, tonka bean oil will solidify at lower temperatures. Here are some key ways in which this oil can be utilized.

Antiseptic

This oil has been used in traditional practices as a way to ensure that injuries were properly treated. In the event that something like a cut or a snake bite isn’t properly treated, it can very easily turn into a much bigger issue than it was originally. Infections can easily become very serious if they are not immediately dealt with. When you clean a wound, you are properly eliminating the chance that it become badly infected. Infections are so dangerous because they can easily transfer to other parts of your body. They aren’t to be taken lightly. Just a little bit of tonka bean oil will disinfect your wound on contact.

Expectorant

If you are someone who suffers from colds or even asthma, this is a great oil to keep on hand. Tonka bean oil helps to increase the function of the lungs and aids in the dispersing of the mucus build up that often settles there. The reason this oil can be so effective is that it helps to lubricate the passageways that lead to the lungs and rids the body of mucus. Try using a bit of the oil in a diffuser or an oil burner. You can also use a drop with a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut and rub it into your chest when congestion sets in. You’ll be able to breathe much more easily after several minutes.

Fixative

This is one of the most interesting qualities of this oil. It is known to help fix a fragrance and enhance its ability to stay on the skin. If you are the type of person that loves to experiment with different scents and enjoys perfume, you may want to pick this oil up. Not only that, if you want to take it a step further, and in the event you like to actually make your own fragrances, this is a must-have.

Many who are well versed in the natural and holistic world have transitioned from using store bought perfume, because of sensitivity, to simply making their own. If this is the case for you, you’ll definitely need some tonka bean oil, not just for its interesting scent properties but because it ensures your fragrance is long lasting.

Insecticide

If you have an aversion to pests, which most people do, yet don’t want to use over-the-counter bug sprays with their harsh chemical ingredients, this oil is a perfect substitute. Add a couple of drops of tonka bean oil to a spray bottle with alcohol and water. Spray it on your base boards to keep those creepy crawlers out.

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

 

The Benefits Of Nature Oils For Your Skin

If you’re worried about the parabens and synthetic colors that may be lurking in your moisturizer, you’ll be happy to know that there are alternatives that may be even better for your skin.

Our bodies know exactly what they need, and in most cases, they produce it. That’s why our bodies produce a natural oil to help keep the skin hydrated. But with changing weather and an increasingly toxic environment, our natural oils aren’t always enough to do the trick. But have no fear because there are plenty of natural oil alternatives that work just as well.

The following oils are great choices to add to your body care routine.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial, antifungal and ultra-moisturizing. It’s a great treatment for atopic dermatitis and as a general moisturizer. Some women swear by coconut oil for moisturizing and cleaning the face while others find that it clogs their pores. If you’re using coconut oil for the face, keep an eye on how your face reacts. Coconut oil is a very hydrating moisturizer for the body and lips. It can also be great to help you remove eye makeup too.

Almond Oil

Almond oil is a great source of nutrients that will give your skin a healthy glow. It’s packed with moisturizing vitamin E and is a great source of magnesium, phosphorus, copper and omega-3 fatty acids. This ancient oil has been used for centuries to soothe skin and treat minor cuts and wounds. Almond oil can also improve the skin’s texture and tone by helping the skin retain moisture. Use almond oil on its own or use with holistic treatments to boost its power.

Tea Tree Oil

Unlike the others on this list, tea tree oil is a concentrated essential oil. This means that it is extremely potent and should not be applied directly to the skin. However, it provides potent healing qualities when combined with other oils in a nourishing oil blend. Tea tree oil is known for its antiseptic properties that may help combat oily and combination skin. At the same time, its healing mechanisms can help treat eczema and dry skin.

Avocado Oil

If you think of guacamole when you hear the word avocado, you need to get to know this fruit a bit better. Avocado oil is an amazing beauty (and food) product that works wonders on the skin. It’s loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, D and E. Vitamin E is extremely moisturizing on its own, but in avocado oil, it’s combined with potassium, lecithin and other moisturizing nutrients for optimal effect. This oil is also loaded with antioxidants, so it’s great for treating inflamed skin or acne scarring.

When it comes to getting that healthy glow that everyone is after, natural is always best. Mother nature provides everything we need to nourish our bodies and achieve optimal health. That’s probably why we’re starting to see warnings about the common ingredients found in commercially-made beauty products. Whenever possible, go natural.

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Foot Pain? How To Find The Best Shoes For Common Issues

Our feet are responsible for supporting our bodies throughout many tasks, but we often don’t give them the care they need to stay healthy. That’s why most Americans suffer from foot pain. Constant repetition and strain wear them down over time, potentially leading to a number of conditions that can cause chronic pain.

While foot pain doesn’t always come from the same source, it can often be alleviated simply by switching to a more comfortable, well-fitted pair of shoes. After improving your posture, finding more supportive sandals or sneakers is the best way to reduce your foot pain. These are among the most effective shoes when it comes to lessening pain related to common foot conditions.

Typical Causes Of Foot Pain

Pain can be experienced in nearly every area of the foot, but it most often happens in the heel, ball, or toe. The first possible cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis, which will affect about one in ten people at some point in their lives. Plantar fasciitis occurs when there is inflammation in the cord connecting your heel to your toe.

When left untreated, plantar fasciitis can make it more difficult to stay active. It can even lead to additional foot problems, like heel spurs and stone bruises. Therefore, it’s important to address heel pain as soon as it occurs before it develops into something more difficult to treat.

Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis mainly affects the heel, which is often under unnecessary stress due to a poor choice of footwear. Flat shoes, or styles without adequate support, put most of the body weight on the heel rather than distributing it throughout the foot. Over time, this leads to poor posture and heel pain.

The simplest way to reduce this pain is to find a pair of shoes that fits well and supports all areas of the foot. If you’d prefer to keep your current pair of shoes, you can also purchase custom insoles designed based on your foot shape. Custom-designed products are the best way to ensure your foot is getting the support it needs.

Shoes For Other Conditions

While plantar fasciitis is a very common cause of foot pain, there are many other possible issues that can cause pain in the heel or other areas of the foot. These include everything from bunions and swelling to calluses and corns.

Since these conditions are typically less concentrated on a specific area of the foot, they can often be addressed with similar advice. You should look for a shoe that fits well and provides ventilation without being too tight or flimsy. Shoes that are too big or small, or that don’t cushion the foot, will typically cause pain over time.

Foot pain can have a significant impact on your quality of life, and when the solution is often as simple as a new pair of shoes, there’s no reason to suffer. Getting a supportive, well-fitting shoe will reduce your foot pain over time and ensure that you don’t develop a more serious or painful condition.

How To Care For Your Skin In Your 60s, 70s And 80s

Skincare is an important part of your daily routine for many reasons. Not only does it help you stay looking your best, but having healthy skin is important for staying healthy overall. As you get older, the type of skincare you need to stay looking and feeling great changes. This is because your skin changes naturally as you get older. The stress of transitioning into senior communities can be overwhelming for many people, and this stress can have negative impacts on your skin. Here are some tips to help you take care of your skin in later life.

Drink Plenty Of Water

As the skin ages, it naturally becomes dehydrated, which can result in uncomfortable, dry, flaky patches as well as wrinkling. To prevent dehydration, it’s important to drink water throughout the day. Water is very nourishing and gives your skin cells a little extra boost. If you up your water intake significantly, you’ll likely notice a visual difference fairly quickly. If you struggle to remember to drink water, try carrying a thermos with you throughout the day, and start ordering water when you would normally order a coffee or soda at restaurants.

Use Sun Protection

Sun damage is another very common problem for senior skin, which is naturally more vulnerable than younger skin. Too much sun exposure for seniors can result in serious sunburns, moles, or even skin cancer in some cases. It’s very important that seniors use sunscreen when going outside, even if it’s just for a few minutes. It’s also helpful to wear hats, long sleeves, and sunglasses to give your body an extra layer of protection against the sun.

Use Mild, Unscented Soap Products

Since the skin is more prone to dehydration in old age, it’s important to use skincare products that are light and don’t contain a strong scent or too many chemicals. These chemicals and scents can dry your skin out or even irritate it, which can be very uncomfortable. Instead, look for products that are designed to be gentle and don’t have added scents. Many drugstores carry product ranges that are specifically designed for sensitive skin.

Incorporate Moisturizer Into Your Routine

In addition to using very gentle products, you should start using moisturizer in your skincare routine if you do not already. Moisturizer can give aging skin the added boost it needs to stay feeling good and looking healthy. You should use two different types of moisturizer for your face and body, since the skin in these two areas is so different. You should apply body moisturizer after you take a shower, and you can apply a small amount of face moisturizer once or twice a day, ideally when you’re getting ready in the morning and then right before you go to bed. If you’re not sure what’s appropriate for your needs, consult with a dermatologist or even ask your primary care doctor.

Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Vitamins

The nutrients you eat can have a big impact on the way your skin looks and feels, so it’s important to make sure you’re eating a balanced diet and getting enough vitamins. In particular, vitamins A, C, and E are all very important for healthy skin. These vitamins can be found in several fruits and vegetables, and you can also find them in supplements. If you don’t get these vitamins in your diet naturally, taking a supplement is usually the easiest way to ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs to function properly.

Turn Down Your Water Temperature

Although hot baths and showers feel good, they can actually be very detrimental to aging skin. This is because the warm water actually dries the skin out, and since older skin is prone to dehydration, the results can be very uncomfortable. Too much hot water can result in dry or flaky patches of skin, as well as redness or irritation. Turning down your water temperature just a small amount can make a big difference in your skin’s overall quality. Using moisturizer after the shower is also quite helpful.

Taking care of your skin in your later years is so important for many reasons. Not only does it look aesthetically pleasing to have nice skin, but it also helps you feel healthy. Taking these steps to care for your skin will help you feel your best and develop a radiant glow. Ask your doctor for more personalized tips on senior skincare and other senior living help.

Study: Why Does Psoriasis Recur?

Psoriasis is a disease of the immune system in which inflammation causes skin cells to multiply faster than normal. They cause raised, red patches covered by silvery scales when they reach the surface of the skin and die. It occurs most commonly on the scalp, knees, elbows, hands, and feet, but can also appear on the lower back, face, genitals, nails, and other places. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates psoriasis affects about 7.5 million Americans.

Research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Rockefeller University is helping to address a longstanding question about this inflammatory skin condition: Why do skin lesions that have resolved with therapy recur in the same locations after a patient stops using topical steroids? Researchers have been searching for years for a cell population that continues to smolder after psoriasis appears to resolve. It’s been challenging to zoom in on the population of T cells driving the disease in part because when psoriasis is active, lesions are flooded with diverse T cells.

BWH physician scientist Rachael Clark, MD, Ph.D. of the Department of Dermatology and her colleagues have taken a new approach. Instead of looking during the height of activity, they examined lesion sites after treatment. They identified T cell receptors of cells at these sites that were shared across psoriatic patients but not found in healthy individuals or those with other skin conditions. The team’s findings are reported in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. “When psoriasis is treated, T cells that flooded in during inflammation recede like the tide,” Clark said. “They leave behind a population of cells that stand out.”

The population of T cells that remains are tissue resident memory cells, which live long term in skin and, when functioning properly, should be fighting infection. But for patients with psoriasis, these cells may be the source of the misguided immune response that leads to red, inflamed patches on the skin. To identify this T cell population, the researchers took biopsies at the sites of active lesions before treatment and biopsies of the same skin areas after the lesions had cleared on therapy. Using high-throughput sequencing and immunostaining, the research team found that resolved lesions contained populations of T cells derived from just a few cells – known as oligoclonal populations – that produced IL-17, a telltale marker of inflammation.

These cells also shared stretches of genetic sequence that code for the same antigen receptors. These shared T cell antigen receptors were found only among cells from psoriatic patients – not in cells from healthy controls or people with skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis. This work highlights the fact that most psoriasis treatments do not kill these disease causing T cells but instead temporarily suppress their activation. Now that they have identified the long lived, skin resident T cell population that appears to be driving recurrence, the team plans to search for new therapies that can deplete these resident T cells, potentially driving the disease into long-term remission.

“We believe these resident memory T cells are the root of the problem,” Clark added. “Imagine these cells are teenagers throwing a party. They invite lots of other cells to the site of the party, making it hard to identify them while the party is in full swing. It’s only after inflammation dies down and everyone else goes home that we can see these culprits. A small number of cells can cause so much trouble. But depleting this population of cells may be the key to slowing down this disease or preventing its recurrence.”

Psoriasis Severity Linked To Increased Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

People with psoriasis are also at a higher risk to develop type-2 diabetes than those without psoriasis, and the risk increases dramatically based on the severity of the disease. Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found people with psoriasis that covers 10 percent of their body or more are 64 percent more likely to develop diabetes than those without psoriasis, independent of traditional risk factors such as body weight. Applying the study’s findings – published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology – to the number of people who have psoriasis worldwide would equate to 125,650 new cases of diabetes attributable to psoriasis per year.

“The type of inflammation seen in psoriasis is known to promote insulin resistance, and psoriasis and diabetes share similar genetic mutations suggesting a biological basis for the connection between the two conditions we found in our study,” says the study’s senior author Joel M. Gelfand, MD MSCE, a professor of Dermatology and Epidemiology at Penn. “We know psoriasis is linked to higher rates of diabetes, but this is the first study to specifically examine how the severity of the disease affects a patient’s risk.”

Understanding Additional Risks

In order to measure psoriasis severity, the researchers used body surface area (BSA), which measures the percentage of the body covered by psoriasis. Using a United Kingdom database, they surveyed general practitioners about BSA affected by psoriasis and looked at data on 8,124 adults with psoriasis and 76,599 adults without psoriasis over the course of four years. They adjusted the samples to account for any differences in age, sex, and body mass index and other diabetes risk factors.

They found patients with a BSA of two percent or less had a relative risk of 1.21 for developing diabetes, meaning their risk is 21 percent higher than those without psoriasis. This risk increased dramatically in patients with a BSA of 10 percent or more. On average, 5.97 out of every 1,000 people will get diabetes in a given year. In the population of patients with a BSA greater than 10 percent, that number jumps to 12.22 per 1,000 people. That group had a relative risk of 1.64, or 64 percent higher than patients with no psoriasis at all. Further, they found that for every 10 percent increase in BSA beyond the initial 10 percent, the relative risk increased by another 20 percent. In other words, patients with 20 percent BSA were at almost an 84 percent higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes, patients with 30 percent BSA were at a 104 percent higher risk, and so on.

“These findings are independent of traditional risk factors for diabetes and still show a strong connection between the increasing severity of psoriasis and the increasing risk of developing diabetes, which makes a strong argument for a causal relationship between the two,” Gelfand said. He added that psoriasis BSA should be routinely measured, and patients targeted for diabetes prevention, especially in those with a BSA of 10 percent or higher. These results add to the growing understanding of the additional risks associated with severe psoriasis, which his other studies have shown can include major cardiovascular events, liver disease and death.

Link Between Severe Psoriasis And Increased Risk Of Death

The more the surface area of the body is covered by psoriasis, the greater the risk of death for the patient suffering from the condition, according to another study by the same researchers. The study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, is the first to link psoriasis severity to an increased risk of death using an objective measure of disease severity – called Body Surface Area (BSA) – rather than treatment patterns, such as whether or not a patient was receiving oral, injectable or phototherapy treatment for the condition. It finds patients with psoriasis on 10 percent or more of their body are at almost double the risk of death.

“It’s well established that psoriasis is associated with an increased risk for other comorbidities like chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, but we don’t yet understand how the severity of psoriasis impacts future risk of major health problems,” Gelfand said.

For this study, Gelfand and his team again used the Body Surface Area metric. Using a database from the United Kingdom, they looked at 8,760 patients with psoriasis and 87,600 people without it. They sent surveys to the patient’s general practitioners to determine the body surface area affected by psoriasis as this information is not routinely available in medical records. They then looked at the number of deaths in each group by person-years, a measure that combines the number of people with the amount of years of data on them in the database.

The team used an average follow-up time of about four years. In that time, there was an average of 6.39 deaths per 1,000 person years in patients with psoriasis on more than 10 percent of their bodies, compared to 3.24 deaths in patients without psoriasis. Even when researchers adjusted for other demographic factors, patients with a BSA greater than 10 percent were 1.79 times more likely to have died – almost double – than other people their age and gender who do not have the condition. This risk persisted even when controlling for other risk factors like smoking, obesity, and other major medical conditions.

Severe Psoriasis Predominantly Affects Men

The fact that men are overrepresented in psoriasis registers and consume more psoriasis care have long led researchers to believe that the common skin disease disproportionally affects men. A unique study with 5,438 Swedish psoriasis patients revealed that women have a statistically significant lower incidence of severe psoriasis compared to men. The study, conducted by researchers at Umeå University and Karolinska Institutet, was published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology.

“Our results tell us that the well-established gender differences in the utilization of psoriasis care can at least partially be explained by a higher prevalence of more severe disease in men,” says Marcus Schmitt-Egenolf, researcher at the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine at Umeå University and senior author of the study.

The study of gender differences in severe psoriasis cases was based on the Swedish quality register for systemic treatment of psoriasis, PsoReg, which contains detailed disease measurement data on all patients measured with the standard method Psoriasis Area Severity Index (PASI). In the analysis, the researchers found that women had significantly lower median PASI values than men – 5.4 for women versus 7.3 for men. The findings of more severe psoriasis in men were consistent across all ages and in all areas of the body except for the head. “These findings should motivate a gender perspective in the management of severe psoriasis and its comorbidities, such as cardiovascular and metabolic disease,” says Marcus Schmitt-Egenolf.

The researchers point out that the study found no differences between women and men in the use of medications before enrolment in the PsoReg register that may explain the observed sex difference. Instead, the researchers argue, the finding that women have less severe psoriasis can explain the well-known male dominance in systemic treatment of psoriasis. “For over 70 years, psoriasis researchers have speculated that women have less severe psoriasis compared to men,” Schmitt-Egenolf said. “Our study is the first to investigate sex differences in psoriasis severity using the golden standard of severity measurement, the PASI score. Furthermore, we have also looked more in-depth at distinct elements of the PASI score. The results allow us to verify this thesis in a nationwide population. However, further research is needed to substantiate our findings in different populations.”

Why Watermelon Seed Oil Is A Must-Have

An abundance of that juicy and refreshing summer fruit is right around the corner. What some don’t know about this delicious, popular fruit is that those pesky seeds you end up spitting out actually have powerful health benefits. What’s so glorious about fruits and seeds and plants and vegetables is the critical healing powers and properties within them that we may not even be fully aware of. Watermelon seed oil can be used in a whole host of different ways, and because of its high linoleic acid content, it makes for a highly impressive and effective oil. Here are some of the amazing ways watermelon seed oil can be implemented.

Lowers Blood Pressure

If you have been suffering from high blood pressure, you are likely very aware that you need to get that issue under control. High blood pressure can lead to a whole host of other problems such as stroke, heart disease and a variance of other health issues. High blood pressure tends to be caused by incredibly stressful lifestyles, bad diets and sometimes genetics. Incorporating an oil like watermelon seed oil into your diet can provide you with the solution you’ve been searching for in reference to your high blood pressure. The amount of healthy fatty acids present in the oil helps to lower bad cholesterol and regulates blood pressure.

Lowers Blood Sugar

One of the most invasive and increasing health concerns in our society is diabetes. This is a condition that affects the way that the body processes sugar. A lack of insulin can cause blood sugar levels to become elevated. Diabetes can affect a whole host of various parts of your body if not effectively treated and dealt with. Blood sugar levels that regularly get too high can lead to very critical issues. Watermelon seed oil helps to regulate blood sugar so that certain spikes are better controlled. The use of this oil will provide much needed balance to your levels.

Great For Skin

Though it has amazing benefits when taken internally, one of its most impressive and surprising is how it can be used to improve your skin. So many people struggle with their skin and finding products for it that work. With so many different skin types, it can sometimes be a bit confusing. Because of the consistency of the oil, the skin is easily penetrated by the oil, which helps to provide a vibrant, healthy glow after consistent use. It is also water soluble which means it can be absorbed quickly and easily.

Because it is so lightweight, it helps to clear out the pores of those pesky entities that help to produce acne – things like dead skin cells, sebum and free radicals. The anti-aging properties that are present within the oil will also help with any type of wrinkles, age spots and sagging skin. One of the signs of skin that isn’t being taken care of is the premature signs of aging. This is why you must stay ahead of the curve. Watermelon seed oil can do that for you.

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

Pecans Improve Cardio-Metabolic Health Markers In Overweight Adults

A new study, conducted by researchers from Tufts University and published in the scientific journal Nutrients, reports that eating a few pecans daily for a month improved some markers of cardio-metabolic disease risk, and insulin sensitivity, in a group of obese adults having excess abdominal fat.

While previous studies on pecans concentrated on blood lipid changes, this is the first research to examine those markers associated with cardio-metabolic health. Cardio-metabolic risk is relatively a new term used to describe the possibilities of developing cardiovascular and sundry metabolic diseases, as well as type-2 diabetes and also metabolic syndrome. These conditions are collectively responsible for more preventable deaths worldwide than anything else. This research also assessed how pecan consumption affects other markers of cardio-metabolic disease risk, which include insulin resistance, insulin levels, glucose, and beta cell function. This is a measure of the pancreas’ ability to not only produce but also secrete insulin and help control the blood sugar level.

Pecans are naturally rich in unsaturated fats, and replacing a part of the saturated fats in diets with more beneficial fats might have contributed to observed changes,” says Dr. Diane L. McKay, the lead researcher. She also noted that bioactive compounds could have played an active role. She further explained that obesity and insulin resistance might increase both insulin demand and pancreatic beta cells hyper-function which could eventually lead to dysfunction. She revealed that the study results suggested pecan nutrients might play a key role in boosting normal insulin responses in overweight, obese adults even if the mechanisms of action were yet to be known. It should be mentioned that apart from mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, pecans also have fiber and essential minerals, and contain bioactive compounds like flavonoids and plant sterols, which may contribute.

The research group compared the impact of a pecan-rich diet to that of a control pecan-free diet containing the same amount of calories, fats, and fiber. The control diet was like an average American diet high in calories, nutrient-poor, and low in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and Omega-3 fatty acids. All meals, including the pecans, were provided to participants. A crossover, double-blind study design was employed for the intervention. For four weeks, participants observed either the pecan-rich diet or the pecan-free control diet. A two-week washout period was taken prior to switching over the groups to the opposite diet for another four weeks. Evaluations were done both at the start and the end of each four-week feeding period.

Results

  • Overall findings showed the participants on a pecan-rich diet had greater reductions in insulin resistance, serum insulin and pancreatic bell cell hyper-function, in comparison with the control diet.
  • The magnitude of reduction in LDL and total cholesterol for the pecan-rich diet was not significant when compared with the pecan-free diet.
  • Other markers of cardio-metabolic disease risk – such as blood pressure and serum glucose – had greater reductions among subjects on the pecan diet than those on the control diet, though the results were not of statistical significance.
  • The researchers concurrently assessed five clinically important markers of cardio-metabolic risk, and found that the pecan diet had a significant effect on insulin-related markers associated with the risk.
  • Subgroup differences, denoted by gender and also glucose levels, modified these effects of the pecan-rich diet.

Limitations

  1. The study was limited by size and duration.
  2. Further research is needed to investigate the effects of bioactive compounds found in pecans and also their potential action mechanisms.

McKay concluded that the study shows how making small changes, such as displacing saturated fats in American diets and eating some pecans daily, could make a significance difference in health.

Vitamin A Deficiency In The News

UNICEF estimates that 48 percent of children between six and 59 months old in sub-Saharan Africa suffer from vitamin A deficiency, which can lead to preventable childhood blindness and increase the risk of death from common illnesses, such as diarrhea. Sweet potato-fortified bread developed at South Dakota State University is helping fight vitamin A deficiency in Africa. Visiting scientist Daniel Mbogo of the International Potato Center in Kenya is working with assistant professor Srinivas Janaswamy to formulate breads with sweet potatoes that will enhance vitamin A in diets. Janaswamy’s research in the Department of Dairy and Food Science focuses on starch digestion and micronutrients. “Vitamin A deficiency is a huge problem in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Mbogo. “USDA did a good job in matching us – it’s a very good synergy,” said Janaswamy. “I am interested in how the starch is being digested and how that might help to address diabetes. Daniel comes at a perfect time because he is developing a product that might have different digestion properties.”

“Through these collaborative research projects, we seek to empower scientists in developing countries and advance research that will improve agricultural productivity, transfer science and agricultural technologies to strengthen agricultural practices and reduce barriers to technology adoption,” added Tim Sheehan, who oversees scientific exchange programs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. “Ultimately, the Borlaug program increases food security and supports economic growth.”

Although sweet potatoes are a major food crop in Africa, the most common varieties have white or yellow flesh and low levels of beta-carotene, Mbogo says. The International Potato Center developed orange-fleshed sweet potato varieties, which contain high beta-carotene levels and are better suited to African fields and palates. At the food and nutritional evaluation laboratory in Kenya, Mbogo helps private sector partners formulate and produce bread enriched with sweet potatoes. Evaluating the bread’s starch digestibility and nutritional potential is what brought Mbogo to Brookings. “Here, I can get trained and use equipment to do a bit of research that we are not able to do at our lab,” he said.

First, Mbogo incorporates varying levels of sweet potato puree into the bread dough, adjusting the formula while still maintaining the qualities people expect in a loaf of sliced bread. The loaves are processed and baked in a bread machine. Then he evaluates the physical characteristics of the bread – volume, texture and sensory attributes. A panel of taste testers will also give him feedback on the final product.

Determining Digestibility And Nutrient Uptake

Mbogo then evaluates how incorporating sweet potato changes the bread’s digestibility. He uses the Englyst method, an established technique to understand how starch digests in a lab setting without using human subjects. “We are predicting sweet potato-fortified bread will take a longer time to digest,” Janaswamy said. If so, the product might potentially help diabetics regulate their blood sugar.

The next step is to determine how much beta carotene the body can absorb. By carrying out simulated digestion in oral, gastric and intestinal phases, they are studying how much of the beta carotene is released from the bread matrix and is bioavailable for absorption by using human intestinal cells. By calculating how much beta carotene the cells absorb, the researchers can determine available vitamin A and, therefore, the nutritional benefit consumers can get from a serving of sweet potato-fortified bread.

Vitamin A Deficiency Detrimental To Blood Stem Cells

Many specialized cells – such as in the skin, gut or blood – have a lifespan of only a few days. Therefore, steady replenishment of these cells is indispensable. They arise from so-called “adult” stem cells that divide continuously. In addition, there is a group of very special stem cells in the bone marrow that were first discovered in 2008 by a research team led by Andreas Trumpp, who is a division head at the DKFZ and director of HI-STEM. These cells remain in a kind of dormancy most of the time and only become active in an emergency such as bacterial or viral infections, heavy blood loss, or in the wake of chemotherapy. Once their work is done, the body sends its most potent stem cells back to sleep. The scientists assume that this protects them from dangerous mutations that may lead to leukemia.

The mechanisms that activate these special stem cells or make them go back to sleep after their work is done have remained elusive until now. The scientists have now identified retinoic acid – a vitamin A metabolite – as a crucial factor in this process. If this substance is absent, active stem cells are unable to return to a dormant state and mature into specialized blood cells instead. This means that they are lost as a reservoir. This was shown in studies with specially bred mice whose dormant stem cells are green fluorescent. “If we feed these mice on a vitamin A-deficient diet for some time, this leads to a loss of the stem cells,” says Nina Cabezas-Wallscheid, first author of the publication. “Thus, we can prove for the first time that vitamin A has a direct impact on blood stem cells.”

This finding not only enhances our understanding of the development of blood cells, it also sheds new light on prior studies that demonstrate that vitamin A deficiency impairs the immune system. “This shows how vitally important it is to have a sufficient intake of vitamin A from a balanced diet,” Cabezas-Wallscheid added. The body cannot produce its own vitamin A. The scientists also have hopes for new prospects in cancer treatment. There is evidence that cancer cells, like healthy stem cells, also rest in a state of dormancy. When dormant, their metabolism is almost completely shut down and this makes them resistant to chemotherapy. “Once we understand in detail how vitamin A or retinoic acid, respectively, sends normal and malignant stem cells into dormancy, we can try to turn the tables,” explained Trumpp. “If we could make cancer cells temporarily enter an active state, we could thus make them vulnerable to modern therapies.”

In collaboration with colleagues from the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge, the team performed genome-wide analyses of single cells and discovered that the transition from dormant to active stem cells and then on to progenitor cells is a continuous one and follows a different path for each individual cell. So far, scientists had assumed that specific cell types develop step by step in a defined pattern. This finding revolutionizes the previous concept of how cell differentiation in the body takes place.

Portable Vitamin A Deficiency Test

Cornell University engineers and nutritionists have created a sift solution for a challenging global health problem: a low-cost, rapid test to detect iron and vitamin A deficiencies at the point of care. “Vitamin A and iron deficiency affect more than one-third of the world’s population,” says senior author Dr. Saurabh Mehta, associate professor of global health, epidemiology and nutrition in the Division of Nutritional Sciences. “Problems resulting from these deficiencies such as blindness, anemia and death, particularly among children and women are a major public health challenge.”

The small, portable diagnostic system about the size of a lunchbox contains a blood sample test strip, like those used by diabetics. The group found a way to include on the test strip three types of antibodies, which bind to specific biomarkers in the individual’s serum. “The sampling process is similar to picking up iron among other metals,” said first author Zhengda Lu, a doctoral candidate. The strip measures concentrations of retinol binding protein, important for eyesight; C-reactive protein, an infection indicator; and the protein ferritin, to find anemia. The test takes 15 minutes to complete.

“We must address the micronutrient problem at the individual level which is a much easier task,” says David Erickson, senior author and Sibley College Professor at Cornell’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. “The key to solving these micronutrient deficiency problems is early detection and early intervention. Having information, we can change or supplement diets, if we know who is deficient – and we are more likely to prevent complications, and keep children and women healthy.”

At any given time, about 250 million preschool-age children globally are deficient in vitamin A, according to the World Health Organization. In those regions where childhood deficiencies are prevalent, pregnant women are likely vitamin A deficient and anemic, as well. Annually, up to 500,000 vitamin A-deficient children around the world become blind and about half of those children die within a year, as they become vulnerable to other diseases. “Doctors and health professionals have sought to reduce the burden of micronutrient deficiencies and their consequences, but it’s difficult since we must detect them early on to have the largest impact,” Mehta said. “Most developing countries don’t have access to the needed, sophisticated tools to enable early diagnosis. This test has the potential to solve that.”

Serving Water With School Lunches Can Stem Obesity

Banning sodas and sweet drinks in school lunches can prevent a pandemic of epic proportions in U.S. schools. New research instead suggests that school canteens serve water instead of sweetened beverages not only to prevent obesity but also help avoid straining the country’s coffers, which have been wasted on medical costs on overweight-related diseases.

The new study actually was a continuation of the study conducted between 2009 and 2013 of 1,200 school kids in the elementary and middle-school levels in New York. In that research, they found that just the matter of putting water dispensers in conspicuous areas in the school canteen tripled the consumption of water by the children. The consumption of water immediately cut the danger of obesity. One in five youths from six years old to 19 years old is dealing with obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Genes and environment are the two main factors that cause obesity. Some people are cursed with slow metabolism which makes it difficult for them to convert food into energy. The other factors include sleeping habits, diet, and lack of physical activity. These children are vulnerable to developing cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, and breathing problems. Psychologically, they also suffer from low self-esteem and depression.

The Study

The University of Illinois conducted a cost-benefit analysis of replacing sweetened beverages with water. Dr. Ruopeng, the community health professor at the university, said that with an investment of just $18 for each student in the K-12 program, it could yield a benefit of $174 that will last that student’s entire life. Based on their study, there’s no correlation between the nutrition of the school kids and the number of glasses of water they drink, “but we do see a significant drop in their saturated fat and sugar intake.”

Boys are likely to benefit from this program more because of the greater reduction in the obesity risk of the male population compared to their female counterparts. In terms of the benefit, an $18 investment in K-12 boys will yield $199 against the $149 for girls.

The link between school lunches and childhood obesity is not new. Back in 2011, a study entitled “Health Status And Behavior Among Middle-School Children In A Midwest Community: What are the underpinnings of childhood obesity?” recommended an overhaul of the menu served at school lunches because 15% of the more than 1,000 sixth-graders in the research were obese.

Research by the Institute of Medicine found that schools in America were no better than the fast food chains that are notorious for their fattening and unhealthy food. As a result, fewer children are eating vegetables and fruits. The study, in fact, led former First Lady Michelle Obama to launch a campaign to improve school lunches. Two years later, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 was signed into a federal law by President Barack Obama. The law was criticized for putting an undue burden on schools to meet the stringent nutritional requirements or face sanction.

In May of last year, the Trump administration relaxed some of the provisions because, as Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said “If kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition.”

What Is Comfrey?

Comfrey is likely not one of the plants that you are inherently familiar with – even if you are pretty well versed in holistic living and alternative treatments. This plant has a very broad spectrum of offerings which makes it something that should be closely studied and implemented as a method of treatment when certain health issues arise – whether those issues be intrinsic and internal or cosmetic and external. This powerful plant, otherwise known as Symphytum, is a herbal medicine that deserves more acclaim. Here’s why.

Heals Wounds

Whether you are accident prone or not, you know that sometimes unforeseen cuts, scrapes, or bruises can happen to anyone. While there isn’t anything wrong with scars, it’s obviously preferable to heal any wound as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Comfrey provides you with that assistance. The plant is extremely high in antioxidants and vitamin C, which helps to speed up the wound-healing process. This is great because the longer a wound takes to heal, the more apt it may be to infections or complications. Properly cleaning and dressing a wound immediately is of paramount importance. Add some comfrey oil to your next wound and you’ll notice a huge difference.

Pain Reliever

Many people deal with chronic pain on varying degrees and levels. To have to exist on a daily basis in some form of pain can greatly and negatively impact your quality of life. While pain medication can be a risky option, as so many are habit forming and potentially dangerous, a natural and external method to deal with pain is ideal. Comfrey has analegic qualities within the herb which helps to alleviate and soothe aches, pains and discomfort. Try adding a bit of comfrey oil to your coconut oil and rub it on your problem areas. Comfrey will be able to provide you with some relief.

Inflammation Buster

If you have a specific condition that leads to inflammation in your body, you likely will deal with a great bit of pain and swelling on a regular basis. Things like gout, arthritis, eczema and many other ailments can make it incredibly hard for you to go about the entirety of your day without being in some degree of discomfort. The saponins and tannins within this plant help to provide some relief to that swelling and tightness. There are comfrey creams you can use or if you want a more multi-purpose option. The oil is always a good idea to have on hand.

Respiratory Health

In the event you have asthma, seasonal allergies or are often susceptible to a cold, you should definitely try using this oil the next time you don’t feel well. While this oil should not be ingested, you can use it externally to help you clear out congestion. Its specific properties will help to diminish the restriction you often feel in these types of situations in your chest and in your lungs by opening up passageways. You can rub the oil onto your chest or you can inhale its aroma for a couple of minutes.

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

How To Keep Teeth Healthy

Keeping your teeth healthy rewards you with a bright smile, fresh breath, and a mouth free from discomfort. The state of your oral health grants valuable insights into your total well-being. Preventing bad breath and tooth decay has far-reaching benefits. Follow our dental advice, and learn how to keep teeth healthy and sustain optimal oral hygiene.

  1. Brush Your Teeth Twice A Day

Brushing your teeth twice a day is essential to healthy teeth and gums. By brushing your teeth twice a day, you keep plaque under control. For best results, brush your teeth once in the morning and once again before going to bed.

  1. Floss Your Teeth Daily

Cleaning between your teeth is essential to good oral health. Dentists can detect whether you floss by how inflamed your gums are. Flossing combined with brushing reduces plaque build-up better than brushing alone. Brushing and flossing together also reduces the risk of most mild gum diseases more than tooth brushing by itself.

  1. Limit Acidic Drinks

When enamel in your teeth comes into contact with acid, the acid erodes the enamel of your teeth. The sugar in sweetened acidic drinks also feeds the harmful bacteria in your mouth. As the bacteria breed and multiply, more acid gets released. Numerous studies have linked the acid produced and the dental erosion that occurs to almost all forms of severe tooth decay. Always do your best to limit the number of acidic drinks and fruit juices you drink.

  1. Limit Sugar Intake

The bacteria in plaque feed on sugar and produce acid, which can rapidly deteriorate enamel. Limit your sugar intake as much as possible. However, if you do have sugar, consume it quickly and try to get it off your teeth as soon as possible. Recent studies show frequent exposure to sugar does the most damage to the enamel of our teeth. For example, sipping on a fizzy drink all day is far more damaging than gulping a glass down quickly a few times a day.

  1. Safeguard Your Teeth From Injury

If your sport puts your teeth at risk, make sure you wear protection. Mouth guards prevent chipping, cracking, and loose teeth. All dental damage serves as a gateway for further complications. When your teeth sustain an injury, the sharp edges can cut soft oral tissue or leave cracks in the enamel. This increases the risk of infection spreading to the root and surrounding gum tissue. Always safeguard your teeth from injury to prevent long-term oral trauma.

  1. Save A Knocked-Out Tooth

Avulsed, or knocked-out, teeth are normally recoverable. If your tooth has been completely knocked out, try to put the tooth back in its socket. Hold a dislodged tooth by the crown, not the roots. If the tooth is dirty, rinse it with saliva or water first but never soap. A knocked-out tooth can survive for up to two hours. Bite on clean gauze or a tea bag to reduce the bleeding and stabilize the tooth.

If you can’t keep the tooth in its socket, then keep it moist. Put the tooth in a cup of milk, saliva, or mixed saline solution and water.  You can also store a knocked-out tooth between your gum and cheek or beneath your tongue. A general practice dentist can re-implant a knocked-out tooth if you preserved it well and if you get to the practice quick enough.

  1. Never Use Your Teeth For Anything Other Than Chewing Food

Teeth are for chewing food, nothing else. Even if cracking open bottle tops or biting open nutshells is comfortable to you, this does not mean it is safe for your teeth. Improper use can damage the enamel or even crack or fracture your teeth. The risk is not worth it.

  1. Never Delay Dental Treatments

Make sure you never delay dental treatments. There is always a Dentist in Milton Keynes available to handle any emergency. If you are suffering from pain or discomfort in any way, get it seen to immediately as waiting worsens the problem.

Author Bio

Susan Louisa works at Oxford House Dental Practice, a pioneer in quality dentistry since its establishment in 1954. With its large, private car park, familiar exterior, friendly attitude of surgeons and the full range of dental treatments, it is a well-known dentist in Milton Keynes, England.

Study: Link Between Exercise And Genetic Effects Of Obesity Later In Life

A new study suggests – for the first time in women over age 70 – that working up a sweat can reduce the influence one’s genes have on obesity.  “Our sample, which included older women, is the first to show that in the 70-to-79-year-old age group, exercise can mitigate the genetic effects of obesity,” says the study’s lead author Heather Ochs-Balcom, associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health in the University at Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions.  “The message here is that your genetic risk for obesity is not wholly deterministic. The choices we make in our life play a large role in our health.”

The study – published recently in the journal Menopause – included researchers from UB, as well as the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Rush University Medical Center; University of California, Davis; and The Ohio State University.  Researchers studied 8,206 women of European ancestry who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative. They used a larger set of 95 genetic polymorphisms to construct their body mass index genetic risk score to study the interaction between physical activity and obesity. Then, they evaluated whether genetic associations were modified by exercise and age.

The study revealed that genetic associations on body mass index or BMI were strongest in sedentary postmenopausal women and weakest in women who reported high levels of recreational physical activity.  “Our work suggests that in older age, we can overcome our destiny for obesity given to us by our parents through exercise,” Ochs-Balcom said.

The study is significant in that, up to this point, little had been known about the effect of obesity genes later in life, particularly whether genetic predisposition can be mitigated by healthy behaviors such as physical activity.  It’s also one of a growing number of studies highlighting the benefits of being physically active, especially as it pertains to healthy aging.  “For the elderly, exercise is important for preventing muscle loss, which helps reduce the risk of falls,” says Ochs-Balcom. “Plus, there are many other benefits of exercise in older adults.”

Older Obese Adults Can Benefit From Moderate Exercise

Moderate-intensity exercise can help even extremely obese older adults improve their ability to perform common daily activities and remain independent, according to researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Findings from the National Institutes of Health-funded study were published in the July 2018 issue of the journal Obesity. In the United States, obesity affects nearly 13 million adults age 65 and older. Both overall obesity and abdominal obesity are strongly associated with the development of major mobility disability (MMD), the inability to walk a quarter of a mile, according to the study’s lead author, Stephen Kritchevsky, Ph.D., director of the Sticht Center for Healthy Aging and Alzheimer’s Prevention at Wake Forest Baptist.

Previous data on older populations had suggested that obesity may lessen the beneficial effects of physical activity on mobility. However, this research, which analyzed data from the multicenter Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) study, showed that a structured physical activity program reduced the risk of MMD even in older adults with extreme obesity. The LIFE study was the first to demonstrate that moderate intensity physical activity can significantly reduce the risk of MMD in sedentary older adults. “The inability to walk a quarter of a mile is a proxy for common daily activities, such as the inability to walk a block around the neighborhood or to walk several street blocks to go to a store,” Kritchevsky said. “Having a major mobility disorder can really affect the quality of life and independence for older people, but we showed that moderate exercise was a safe and effective way to reduce that risk even in severely obese people.”

The LIFE study enrolled 1,635 sedentary men and women age 70 to 89. The participants were randomized to a moderate intensity physical activity program or a health education program to test if the physical activity program would reduce the rate of MMD compared to the education program. Major mobility disability was defined as the inability to walk 400 meters – about a quarter of a mile – without sitting and without help from another person or a walker. Participants were divided into four groups according to BMI – a measure of body fat based on height and weight – and waist circumference: non-obese with BMI less than 30; non-obese with high waist circumference of more than 40 inches for men and 34 inches for women; class 1 obese with BMI between 30 and 35; and class 2 obese with BMI of 35 or higher.

The physical activity program focused on walking, strength, balance and flexibility training. The goal for participants was to be able to walk at moderate intensity for 30 minutes and perform 10 minutes of lower-extremity strength training with ankle weights and 10 minutes of balance training in a single session. Participants attended two center-based training sessions per week and performed at-home activities three to four times per week during the two-year study.

The health education program involved in-person group workshops focused on aging-relevant topics such as nutrition, safety and legal/financial issues. Sessions included lectures and interactive discussions and five to 10 minutes of upper body stretching exercises. While there was no significant difference between obesity category and intervention effect, those in the class 2 obesity group showed the greatest benefit from the physical activity program, reducing their risk of MDD by 31 percent.

Customized Resistance Exercise And Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia and resistance exercise have often been considered an impossible combination, but with proper support and individually adjusted exercises, female patients achieved considerable health improvements, according to research at Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden. “If the goal for these women is to improve their strength, then they shouldn’t be afraid to exercise, but they need to exercise the right way,” says Anette Larsson, an active physical therapist. “It has long been said that they will only experience more pain as a result of resistance exercise, that it doesn’t work. But in fact, it does.”

Larsson studied 130 women between the ages of 20 and 65 years with fibromyalgia, a disease in which nine of 10 cases are women. It is characterized by widespread muscle pain and increased pain sensitivity, often combined with fatigue, reduced physical capacity and limitation of activities in daily life. About half of the women in the study were selected at random to undergo a program of person-centered, progressive resistance exercise led by a physical therapist. The other 63 women comprised the control group and underwent a more traditional therapy program with relaxation exercises. The training and exercises lasted for 15 weeks and were held twice a week.

“The women who did resistance exercise began at very light weights, which were determined individually for each participant because they have highly varying levels of strength,” Larsson said. “We began at 40 percent of the max and then remained at that level for three to four weeks before increasing to 60 percent. More than six of 10 women were able to reach a level of exercise at 80 percent of their maximum strength. One of the 10 was at 60 percent and the others were below that figure. Five individuals chose to stop the training due to increased pain. The group as a whole had 71 percent attendance at the exercise sessions.

“On a group level, the improvements were significant for essentially everything we measured,” Larsson continued. “The women felt better, gained muscle strength, had less pain, better pain tolerance, better health-related quality of life and less limitation of activities. Some of the women did not manage the exercise and became worse, which is also an important part of the findings. In the control group, the improvements were not as significant, but even there, hand and arm strength improved. The relaxation exercises probably led to reduced muscle tension in the arms and shoulders, which in turn allowed the participants to develop more strength.

The findings for the women in the resistance exercise group are affected by several factors, including the degree of pain and fear of movement before and during the exercise period. Progress for the group as a whole can largely be attributed to the person-centered approach, with individually adjusted exercises and loads and support of a physical therapist. “An interview study we conducted shows clearly that the women need support to be able to choose the right exercises and the right loads; they also need help when pain increases,” Larsson said. “This requires, quite simply, support from someone who knows their disease, preferably a physical therapist.”

Should You Eat Before Exercising

A study conducted by researchers from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom is the first of its kind to show the effects of eating versus fasting on gene expression in adipose (fat) tissue in response to exercise. This study highlights the different roles fat plays in powering and responding to exercise. The study, published in the American Journal of Physiology—Endocrinology and Metabolism, monitored a group of overweight males. The volunteers walked for 60 minutes at 60 percent maximum oxygen consumption on an empty stomach and, on another occasion, two hours after consuming a high-calorie carbohydrate-rich breakfast. The research team took multiple blood samples after eating or fasting and after exercising. The researchers also collected adipose tissue samples immediately before and one hour after walking.

Gene expression in the adipose tissue differed significantly in the two trials. The expression of two genes – PDK4 and HSL – increased when the men fasted and exercised and decreased when they ate before exercising. The rise in PDK4 likely indicates that stored fat was used to fuel metabolism during exercise instead of carbohydrates from the recent meal. HSL typically increases when adipose tissue uses stored energy to support increased activity, such as during exercise. These results reinforce the view that “adipose tissue often faces competing challenges,” says Dylan Thompson, corresponding author of the study. “After eating, adipose tissue is busy responding to the meal and a bout of exercise at this time will not stimulate the same [beneficial] changes in adipose tissue. This means that exercise in a fasted state might provoke more favorable changes in adipose tissue, and this could be beneficial for health in the long term.”

Beech Nut Oil Benefits

A very common tree that can be found in various parts of the world like North America, Europe and Asia, is the beech tree. It produces a nut that is incredibly effective in a myriad of ways. Even though this tree is common, the ways in which it can help shouldn’t be diminished. The tree also has other more fundamental uses, like that of firewood or as construction material. The nuts that come from the tree are the focus today. Here are some ways to use the oil that comes from a beech nut tree.

Hair Growth

Are you the type of person that wants to have thicker, more healthy hair? Do you find that you are dealing with a specific amount of shedding or having hair fall out more than you used to? This is all a symptom of your hair not properly being taken care of like it should be. This can lead to many different troubles, one of which is an unhealthy scalp. If your scalp is unhealthy, growing your hair will become exceedingly difficult. Luckily, beech nut oil is an antidote for this issue. There are properties within the oil that help to strengthen the hair follicle beds. This gives your hair a better, healthier platform and increases growth, strength and appearance.

Digestion

If you have tummy troubles, whether it’s from eating too much or because you have a certain food sensitivity, it can be hard to properly digest food. In these instances it can be difficult because digestive problems manifest themselves in a whole host of ways. Many serious conditions have been linked to the gut and lack of proper digestive health. So sorting out why you may deal with a heavy bout of cramps, bloating, gas or irregular bowel movements is not something you should ignore. Beech nut oil can help as its fiber content can help to regulate your system and bring some ease to the process of digestion.

Kidney Issues

Because of the diuretic qualities of this oil, if you are noticing any type of issues in your kidneys or how they function, you may want to start treating them with beech nut oil. Kidneys help to clean the blood that circulates in your body and also how your urine is filtered. If you notice any changes in your patterns of urination or any discomfort in your lower back or sides, it’s possible that your kidneys may be under a bit of stress.

You can help alleviate that by rubbing some beech nut oil on your lower back, near your kidneys for a couple of days and seeing if that doesn’t help your kidneys to function more precisely. Things like waste, salt, water and fats all get filtered through those little organs at our sides so it’s essential you take care of them. When kidneys function well, they even have a hand in how effectively your metabolism works.

How Teeth Gaps Affect Your Oral Health

Teeth gaps normally happen and many people oftentimes ignore them – especially young children. While some people say that teeth gaps make them feel and look young, teeth gaps or Diastema can actually affect your overall dental health. The misalignment can cause severe issues with your gums and jaw bones as well. Here are some facts about the impact of teeth gaps on your overall dental health to give awareness and stop common misconceptions that come with it.

Increases Chances Of Tooth Decay And Gum Disease

This can happen when food particles get stuck in between the gaps. The food particles will then break down and will slowly form into calculus and plaque. As the plaque continues to build up in between teeth, this can cause your gums to become vulnerable to bacteria. It can cause periodontitis or gingivitis and may worsen in time if left unattended.

People with larger teeth gaps may have higher chances of developing tooth decay. Larger teeth gaps have a higher tendency to accumulate more plaque. The accumulation of plaque will not only harm your teeth, but can also cause heart diseases that are associated with poor oral hygiene.

Problems With Oral Hygiene

Some people think that larger teeth gaps can help you maintain better oral hygiene. However, teeth gaps can cause severe issues and may lead to a myriad of oral problems if not treated. The teeth gaps can become a food trap, which then turns into plaque if not cleaned well. It can also be the reason for gum sensitivity due to constant brushing in between the gaps.

Misalignment And Jaw Pain

Misalignment and jaw pain are oftentimes caused by teeth gaps. Misaligned bites allow teeth to shift out of place. People with misaligned bites or crooked bites can experience chronic pain between the ears, forehead, and jaw. People suffering from misaligned bites can chip or wear off their teeth due to unequal force when they take a bite of hard food. It is very important that you have these gaps corrected to ensure that your teeth are not moving out of place.

Problems With Chewing

Chewing is another problem associated with teeth gaps. Large teeth gaps make it harder for you to chew food. The gums in between the gaps become sensitive when you continuously chew on a large chunk of food, making them susceptible to pain or infection.

Aside from the gum sensitivity, you can also experience an upset stomach due to consuming large chunks of food, making it difficult for your stomach to digest.

Lack Of Confidence

Another issue caused by teeth gaps is low self-esteem. People with teeth gaps often experience low self-esteem because they feel embarrassed to smile with their teeth gaps.

Teeth gaps may seem a normal occurrence for kids and young adults. However, it can cause severe damage if not closed properly. In some cases, these teeth gaps can be temporary, but there are instances when they become permanent. Thus, seek medical advice and oral treatment as soon as possible before your case worsens.

About The Author: Chloie Cartelli is a content writer for Orthofill whose expertise is focused on dental marketing. She graduated from the University of Connecticut and enjoys reading and writing that focuses on dental care.