Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jon's Health Tips - Latest Health Research


1. I need to eat more oatmeal - I've been sloughing off lately:

What Whole Grains Can Do For You

Cardiovascular Disease

Eating whole instead of refined grains substantially lowers total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad) cholesterol, triglycerides, and insulin levels. Any of these changes would be expected to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. Women who ate 2 to 3 servings of whole-grain products (mostly bread and breakfast cereals) each day were 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or die from heart disease over a 10-year period than women who ate less than 1 serving per week. A recent meta-analysis of seven major studies showed that cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke, or the need for a procedure to bypass or open a clogged artery) was 21 percent less likely in people who ate 2.5 or more servings of whole-grain foods a day compared with those who ate less than 2 servings a week.

Type 2 Diabetes

In a study of more than 160,000 women whose health and dietary habits were followed for up to 18 years, those who averaged 2 to 3 servings of whole grains a day were 30 percent less likely to have developed type 2 diabetes than those who rarely ate whole grains. When the researchers combined these results with those of several other large studies, they found that eating an extra 2 servings of whole grains a day decreased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 21 percent.


The data on cancer are mixed, with some studies showing a protective effect and others showing none. A large, five-year study among nearly 500,000 men and women suggests that eating whole grains, but not dietary fiber, offers modest protection against colorectal cancer.

Digestive Health

By keeping the stool soft and bulky, the fiber in whole grains helps prevent constipation, a common, costly, and aggravating problem. It also helps prevent diverticular disease (the development of tiny pouches inside the colon that are easily irritated and inflamed) by decreasing pressure in the intestines.

Staying Alive

Compared with women who rarely or never ate whole-grain foods, those who had at least two or more servings a day were 30 percent less likely to have died from an inflammation-related condition over a 17-year period.

2. I take a nap 2-3 times a week. I need to nap more!

Midday Naps Lower Heart Disease Risk

A long-term study found that those who took midday naps, or siestas, for at least 30 minutes, three times a week or more were less likely to die of heart disease than those who never napped. Naps were most beneficial for employed men, who had a substantially lower risk of death from heart disease. The study also found that those who were physically active and took midday naps were particularly healthy.

3. I need to keep up my Vitamin D consumption:

Less Vitamin D Means Higher Mortality After Heart Failure

Researchers found that patients with very low levels of Vitamin D were 77 percent more likely to die, 45 percent more likely to develop coronary artery disease, and 78 percent were more likely to have a stroke.

Vitamin D Fights Asthma

4. Maybe I don't need to eat more spicy food after all:

Capsaicin Can Act as Co-Carcinogen

A study in the journal Cancer Research links capsaicin, a component of chili peppers, to skin cancer. While the molecular mechanisms of the cancer-promoting effects of capsaicin are not clear and remain controversial, the new research has shown a definite connection to formation of skin cancer through various laboratory studies.

Capsaicin, widely consumed worldwide in foods that contain chili peppers, is also used in topical creams for pain relief and its role in cancer development is controversial. Capsaicin has been shown to induce apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells. However, research findings have also shown that it can also act as a carcinogen, especially at the tumor promotion stage.

Bode says the possibility that capsaicin induces inflammation and may affect cancer development is a critical result of the study. Most notably, the results raise concerns that a natural compound found in hot peppers used in over-the-counter topical pain remedies might increase skin cancer risk.

5. I don't know if I should keep stretching before soccer games - recent studies show that it really doesn't prevent injuries - I do it mainly because I seem to be less sore after games if I stretch before them - but now this:

Stretching Before Running May Lower Endurance

Stretching has long been a part of the warm-up routine for runners and athletes in other sports. However, recent studies have suggested that static stretching may actually have some negative effects. These effects—particularly reduced muscle-tendon stiffness and reduced muscle strength—could have a negative impact on running performance. The athletes covered less distance, the energy cost of running was significantly greater after stretching. On average, the runners burned about five percent more calories in the run performed after static stretching.

6. I need to look for a new sports drink, or combine my current one with an energy bar:

Energy drinks may give sports teams an edge

Sports drinks helped the young people continue high intensity, stop-start activity for up to 24 per cent longer – compared with players who drank a non-carbohydrate placebo solution. The findings showed that drinking a 6 per cent carbohydrate-electrolyte solution improved endurance capacity but did not make young people run faster during intermittent exercise in team sports. The solution – containing carbohydrate, sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium – enhances hydration, helps prevent dehydration and provides a supply of energy to the body, thereby contributing to improved endurance capacity.

7. Another reason I'm happy to be taking a statin:

Regular statin use is associated with a reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis

8. I have thrown away my bottle of quercetin - which I only took about once a week - thank goodness:

Research suggests that quercetin could contribute to the development of cancer.

9. One of my readers is a curmudgeon constantly pointing out that the studies I quote never explain why the supposed health impacts occur. This isn't really true, although I certainly focus on the effects, not the causes, but here's a study on causation

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified the molecular mechanism that makes omega-3 fatty acids so effective in reducing chronic inflammation and insulin resistance.

10. Another reason I'm glad to be taking cranberry supplements, and plan to resume drinking cranberry juice:

Cranberry juice shows promise blocking Staph infections

11. I'm pretty good about the fruits and vegetables thing:

Long-Term Benefits to Eating Fruits, Veggies, Foods Low in Saturated Fat

A new study suggests yet another reason for Americans to abandon their current fatty diets in favor of one rich in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fat. Choosing these healthier options appears to significantly reduce the long-term risk of heart disease in patients with mildly elevated blood pressure. The diet likely reduces coronary heart disease risk because it reduces both blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, two independent risk factors for coronary disease.

Diverse diet of veggies may decrease lung cancer risk

12. I don't drink coffee, but it's looking like maybe I should:

Moderate coffee consumption leads to reduced cardiovascular disease

The study revealed that moderate coffee consumption (between one and two cups per day) is associated with higher values of aortic distensibility when compared with other hypertensive elderly individuals taking less quantities of coffee. Adjustments were made for various factors such as age, gender, physical activity status, creatinine levels, BMI and diabetes mellitus. There was also evidence that moderate coffee consumption leads to reduced cardiovascular disease, lower prevalence of diabetes and hyperlipidaemia, lower body mass index, better renal functions and higher creatinine clearance levels. There was no evidence, however, that increasing coffee consumption to three to five cups per day would lead to further improvements in aortic distensibility.

13. I stopped taking selenium some time ago because of negative reports, but women may want to review the possibility of adding supplementation:

Selenium may provide protection against bladder cancer, mainly among women, which they believe may result from gender-specific differences in the mineral's accumulation and excretion in women.

14. And I will end on this depressing note:

New research shows that mentally stimulating activities such as crossword puzzles, reading and listening to the radio may, at first, slow the decline of thinking skills but speed up dementia later in old age. Mental activities compress the time period that a person spends with dementia, delaying its start and then speeding up its progress. This reduces the overall amount of time that a person may suffer from dementia.


1 comment:

Jonathan Kantrowitz said...

Claudio Fratarcangeli wrote:

I agree with the argument that says effects of a dietary modification are the key because the cause of the benefit is not known in most cases.

If one only acted on a recommendation for which the cause is known, then one would not act on anything.

Like your friend I do remain a skeptic of articles that promote vegetarian diets or the benefit of whole grains. As I have said before, we are the only animals on earth that eat cooked food. If nature intended us to eat grains, we would be able to digest it uncooked. There are plenty of reasons to believe that the cooking process could in fact make the food unhealthy. The extreme is barbecued food that produces carcinogens.

We evolved eating raw meat, fruits, and some easily digested vegetables and nuts. Mother nature is pretty efficient.

Such studies tend to be incomplete because they assume that there is no association between one particular diet behavior and others.
People who tend to eat a lot of whole grains also tend to eat healthier in general. For example, they avoid refined carbs and sugar. Therefore, it is not accurate to assume that the benefit
was due to eating whole grains. It could have been due to not eating refined carbs and sugar. These studies then sometimes conclude that
diets high in red meat and fat are bad for you. Again they don't differentiate between natural or grass feed red meat and processed red meatand they don't search for a correlation between high meat consumption and high refined carb consumption.

A recent article came out showing that a diet high in red meat and low in processed meat did not add any additional cardiovascular risk.

However, a diet high in processed meat did.