Thursday, February 4, 2016

8 Popular Nutrition Myths Debunked by Texas A&M Experts


Newswise — Thousands flock to the internet in search of ways to boost a healthy lifestyle. Many popular diet facts and trends are circulated so often in the media that it’s hard to know which tips to trust and which ones should be tossed. Underneath popular opinion and platitudes, the truth about eating healthy may surprise you. A Texas A&M Health Science Center registered dietician separates myths from fact when it comes to your diet.

Gluten-free desserts are healthier
“Gluten-free desserts are not healthier than ‘normal’ desserts,” said Lisa Mallonee, a registered dietician with the Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry. “In fact, gluten substitutes may actually increase calorie content and contribute to weight gain. With that being said, gluten-free food is great to consume by those diagnosed with celiac disease or who are gluten-intolerant—but gluten-free desserts should be eaten in moderation and with a balanced diet.”

Sugar free and fat free foods lead to fat-free bodies

When the words ‘sugar free’ or ‘fat free’ are splashed across a box of chocolate it’s probably easy to feel less guilty about eating the entire box in one sitting. “Fat free and sugar free do not mean foods are calorie free,” Mallonee said. “It doesn’t matter what type of food you are eating, if you are consuming more calories than you’re expending, you will gain weight.”

While browsing fat free or sugar free treats it’s essential to be a conscious label reader. In fact, the fat content in many of these ‘sugar free’ items can be extremely high. Similar to gluten-free desserts, when nutrients like fat are removed from food, artificial ingredients may be added back to the food to account for taste. This filler may lead to more calories.

Carbs make you fat

Carbs alone do not cause weight gain—instead, it’s the type of carbs we choose to consume that lead to more fat cells in the body. “We need carbs because they are the body’s main source of fuel,” Mallonee said. “The real problem with carbohydrates lies in the American diet rich in refined carbs and processed foods. Binging on these carbohydrates will contribute to weight gain.”
Mallonee recommends eating a balanced diet higher in complex carbs and lower in simple or
processed carbs. “The average American needs to be consuming more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and less processed foods, refined carbohydrates and white flour products,” she said.

Healthy food is more expensive

“Indeed, eating fresh may cost more than loading up your shopping cart with processed foods or fast food from restaurant value menus, but, in the big picture, it will likely cost you more in medical bills to maintain an unhealthy lifestyle,” Mallonee said. “You have to look at the long-term health impact.”

According to Mallonee, it is possible to eat clean at an economical price. “When it comes to fruits and vegetables my word of reason is to always buy in-season. We all have favorites but when we buy them year-round when they’re not in season we will see a price increase. You should always vary your palate—don’t be afraid to try the eggplant or cauliflower when it’s in season over broccoli or asparagus,” she said.

You’ll gain weight if you eat late at night

‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and dinner like a pauper.’ Have you ever heard this saying?

Mallonee said it doesn’t matter what time you’re eating as much as what you are eating. “This is more about portion control and how you’re expending calories,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what time of day you eat as long as you are eating a balanced diet, consuming foods in moderation and burning off more calories than you consume.”

Fasting is important to cleanse the body

Mallonee stressed she doesn’t recommend fasting unless it’s for religious purposes. “We already have a built in cleansing system: our kidneys and liver,” she said. “Simply fasting to ‘cleanse’ where you don’t eat for a certain number of days can be dangerous. I recommend consulting a physician prior to any extreme diet that encourages fasting for an extended period of time”
“Having a diet that’s fiber-rich is what moves toxins out of your body naturally,” she added. “The more fiber you consume the more it’s able to move food and the related toxins out of the body. Unfortunately, most Americans have a refined diet that is too low in fiber. This is what allows toxins to thrive inside our bodies. It’s important to know we all have cells with the potential to turn into cancer cells. The way we fuel our body determines if these are transformed into cancer cells or are terminated.”

Energy bars are good for weight loss

Our busy lives often don’t allow for adequate meal preparation and many Americans turn to energy bars as a quick and easy meal replacement. Mallonee stressed that while energy bars are convenient, they need to be consumed along with a balanced diet and we should be wary of their ingredients.
“Most of the time I refer to energy bars as glorified candy bars,” she said. “They can be extremely high in fat and sugar content. While they may be a good way for athletes to consume extra calories, I wouldn’t recommend them for a person trying to boost fat loss.”

You can’t always trust the internet
The internet is an excellent resource for diet tips and healthy living, but it can be untrustworthy. It’s always best to talk to your health care provider or a registered dietician to get the most up-to-date and factual nutrition advice.

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Why BMI is a bad measure of health


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Over the past few years, body mass index, a ratio of a person’s height and weight, has effectively become a proxy for whether a person is considered healthy. Many U.S. companies use their employees’ BMIs as a factor in determining workers’ health care costs. And people with higher BMIs could soon have to pay higher health insurance premiums, if a rule proposed in April by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is adopted.

But a new study led by UCLA psychologists has found that using BMI to gauge health incorrectly labels more than 54 million Americans as “unhealthy,” even though they are not. The researchers’ findings are published online today in the International Journal of Obesity.

“Many people see obesity as a death sentence,” said A. Janet Tomiyama, an assistant professor of psychology in the UCLA College and the study’s lead author. “But the data show there are tens of millions of people who are overweight and obese and are perfectly healthy.”

The scientists analyzed the link between BMI — which is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of the person’s height in meters — and several health markers, including blood pressure and glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, using data from the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The study found that close to half of Americans who are considered “overweight” by virtue of their BMIs (47.4 percent, or 34.4 million people) are healthy, as are 19.8 million who are considered “obese.”

Given their health readings other than BMI, the people in both of those groups would be unlikely to incur higher medical expenses, and it would be unfair to charge them more for health care premiums, Tomiyama said.

Among the other findings:

  • More than 30 percent of those with BMIs in the “normal” range — about 20.7 million people — are actually unhealthy based on their other health data.
  • More than 2 million people who are considered “very obese” by virtue of having a BMI of 35 or higher are actually healthy. That’s about 15 percent of Americans who are classified as very obese.
Tomiyama, who directs UCLA’s Dieting, Stress and Health laboratory, also called DiSH, found in previous research that there was no clear connection between weight loss and health improvements related to hypertension, diabetes, and cholesterol and blood glucose levels.

She said she was surprised at the magnitude of the numbers in the latest study.

“There are healthy people who could be penalized based on a faulty health measure, while the unhealthy people of normal weight will fly under the radar and won’t get charged more for their health insurance,” she said. “Employers, policy makers and insurance companies should focus on actual health markers.”

Jeffrey Hunger, a co-author of the paper and a doctoral candidate at UC Santa Barbara, said the research shows that BMI is a deeply flawed measure of health. “This should be the final nail in the coffin for BMI,” he said.

Hunger recommends that people focus on eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, rather than obsessing about their weight, and strongly opposes stigmatizing people who are overweight.
The proposed EEOC rule would allow employers to charge higher insurance rates to people whose BMI is 25 or higher. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.99 is considered normal, but the study emphasizes that normal BMI should not be the primary goal for maintaining good health.

Tomiyama is planning a new study of people with high BMIs who are very healthy. Prospective participants may contact her laboratory for more information.

Co-authors of the International Journal of Obesity study are Jolene Nguyen-Cuu, manager of Tomiyama’s laboratory, and Christine Wells, a UCLA statistical analyst.
The research was funded by the Hellman Fellows Fund.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Musculoskeletal overuse injuries and heart rate variability: Is there a link?


Med Hypotheses. 2016 Feb;87:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2015.12.003. Epub 2015 Dec 12.

Musculoskeletal overuse injuries and heart rate variability: Is there a link?

Gisselman AS1, Baxter GD2, Wright A3, Hegedus E3, Tumilty S2.

Author information

1Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Electronic address:
2Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
3Department of Physical Therapy, High Point University, High Point, NC, USA.


Accurate detection and prevention of overuse musculoskeletal injuries is limited by the nature of somatic tissue injury.

In the pathogenesis of overuse injuries, it is well recognized that an abnormal inflammatory response occurs within somatic tissue before pain is perceived which can disrupt the normal remodeling process and lead to subsequent degeneration.

Current overuse injury prevention methods focused on biomechanical faults or performance standards lack the sensitivity needed to identify the status of tissue injury or repair.

Recent evidence has revealed an apparent increase in the prevalence and impact of overuse musculoskeletal injuries in athletics.

When compared to acute injuries, overuse injuries have a potentially greater negative impact on athletes’ overall health burden.

Further, return to sport rehabilitation following overuse injury is complicated by the fact that the absence of pain does not equate to complete physiological healing of the injured tissue.
Together, this highlights the need for exercise monitoring and injury prevention methods which incorporate assessment of somatic tissue response to loading.

One system primarily involved in the activation of pathways and neuromediators responsible for somatic tissue repair is the autonomic nervous system (ANS).

Although not completely understood, emerging research supports the critical importance of peripheral ANS activity in the health and repair of somatic tissue injury.

Due to its significant contributions to cardiac function, ANS activity can be measured indirectly with heart rate monitoring.

Heart rate variability (HRV) is one index of ANS activity that has been used to investigate the relationship between athletes’ physiological response to accumulating training load.
Research findings indicated that HRV may provide a reflection of ANS homeostasis, or the body’s stress-recovery status.

This noninvasive marker of the body’s primary driver of recovery has the potential to incorporate important and as yet unmonitored physiological mechanisms involved in overuse injury development.
We hypothesize that abnormal somatic tissue response to accumulating microtrauma may modulate ANS activity at the level of HRV.

Exploring the link between HRV modulation and somatic tissue injury has the potential to reveal the putative role of ANS homeostasis on overuse musculoskeletal injury development.

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Exercise May Help You Survive a First Heart Attack


Newswise — DETROIT – People who are fit are more likely to survive their first heart attack, according to a study of nearly 70,000 patients of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
The results of the study by Henry Ford and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine will be published online February 1 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

“Our data suggests that doctors working with patients with cardiovascular risk factors should be saying, ‘Mr. Jones, you need to start an exercise program now to improve your fitness and chance of survival, should you experience a heart attack,’” says Clinton Brawner, PhD., Clinical Exercise Physiologist and Senior Bioscientific Clinical Staff Researcher at Henry Ford Health System. “These findings suggest that higher aerobic fitness before a heart attack is associated with better short-term survival after the first heart attack.”

While several prior studies have reported a strong relationship between fitness and long-term risk of death in various patient populations, the study is the first to examine the association of early death following a first heart attack. The analysis is part of the Henry Ford Exercise Testing Project, or FIT Project, a study of nearly 70,000 adults who completed a physician referred exercise stress test at Henry Ford Health System between 1991 and 2009.

In the current analysis of the Henry Ford data, the researchers focused on 2,061 patients who suffered their first heart attack after the stress test, during follow-up. Mean time between the exercise test and the first heart attack was six years.

 Patients with a high level of fitness during their initial stress test at a Henry Ford Health System facility were 40% less likely to die within a year following their first heart attack compared to patients with lower fitness, according to the study.

“We knew that fitter people generally live longer, but we now have evidence linking fitness to survival after a first heart attack,” says Michael Blaha, M.D., M.P.H., director of clinical research at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease and assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “It makes sense, but we believe this is the first time there is documentation of that association.”

Those Henry Ford patients who were more active also reduced their likelihood of dying during the year following their first heart attack by 8 to 10% for each level of increased fitness they had reached during the stress test.

The results suggest that low fitness may represent a risk of death following a heart attack that is similar to traditional risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, or diabetes, says Henry Ford’s Dr. Brawner. The findings suggest doctors should include exercise when counseling patients about controlling their risk factors.

“While up to 50% of fitness may be based on genetics, physical activity is the only behavior we have that can improve fitness,” Dr. Brawner says.

Follow-up studies are needed to formally establish whether exercise training among individuals with low fitness and increased risk for a heart attack reduces the short-term mortality risk following a first heart attack, Dr. Brawner added. Investigators also intend to look at whether patients with low fitness suffer more damage to their heart during their heart attack.

The primary investigator of the FIT project is Henry Ford cardiologist Mouaz Al-Mallah, M.D.
The lead author of the present analysis was Gabriel Shaya, M.S., of the University of Miami.
Additional investigators include Jonathan Ehrman, Ph.D., and Steven Keteyian, Ph.D., of Henry Ford Hospital; Blaha, Rupert Hung, B.A., Khurram Nasir, M.D., and Roger Blumenthal, M.D., of Johns Hopkins; and Waqas Qureshi, M.D., of Wake Forest University.

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Inflammation drives fatigue, difficulty concentrating, lack of motivation, depression


Philadelphia, PA, February 2, 2016 – A new study by Neil Harrison and colleagues published in Biological Psychiatry suggests that a brain reward center, the striatum, may be directly affected by inflammation and that striatal change is related to the emergence of illness behaviors.

Inflammation increases the risk for depression. More specifically, inflammation induces behavioral changes similar to depression that are often associated with illness, including fatigue, difficulty concentrating, lack of motivation, and reduced experience of pleasure.

The authors recruited 23 patients with hepatitis C who were beginning treatment with interferon-alpha (INF-α). This treatment provokes an immediate inflammatory response, confirmed by measuring cytokines in the blood.

Four hours after INF-α administration, a specialized type of imaging, called magnetization transfer imaging, was performed that showed evidence of microstructural changes in the striatum when compared to scans conducted prior to INF-α administration. This suggests that the striatum is highly sensitive to IFN-α.

IFN-α also induced fatigue and depression in the patients, particularly over weeks 4 through 12 of treatment. Interestingly, the early striatal structural change predicted the later emergence of fatigue, but not depression, in the study participants.

Changes in the striatum were heterogeneous with some changes associated with the risk for fatigue, while other changes seemed to be protective against developing fatigue.

“Inflammation-related fatigue and depression are big clinical problems,” said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. “This study highlights that the brain regions central to reward and motivation are directly altered by inflammation in ways that that appear to predispose or protect against developing fatigue but not depression. The heterogeneous striatal response may suggest that fatigue and mood are supported by different microcircuits within the striatum.”

“These findings are important as they show that a relatively simple MRI technique can be used to measure effects of inflammation on the brain,” Harrison commented. “Inflammation is increasingly implicated in the cause of common mental illnesses, particularly depression. This technique could be a powerful way to identify patients who are most sensitive to effects of inflammation on the brain. It could also be used to monitor response to novel anti-inflammatory therapies that are now being tested in depression.”
The article is “Acute Changes in Striatal Microstructure Predict the Development of Interferon-Alpha Induced Fatigue” by Nicholas G. Dowell, Ella A. Cooper, Jeremy Tibble, Valerie Voon, Hugo D. Critchley, Mara Cercignani, and Neil A. Harrison (doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.05.015). The article appears in Biological Psychiatry, Volume 79, Issue 4 (February 15, 2016), published by Elsevier.

Anti0inflammatory Products

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Cancer: An alkaline, low-salt diet with ample fruits and vegetables minimizes pH gradient reversal thereby reducing tumor aggressiveness and therapeutic resistance


Normally, tissues demonstrate a slightly acidic intracellular pH (pHi) and slightly alkaline extracellular pH (pHe).

However, proliferating tissues demonstrate transient pH Gradient Reversal i.e. alkalinization of pHi and acidification of pHe.

Persistent and magnified pH Gradient Reversal is a hallmark of cancer.
High acidic pHe is toxic to normal cells and beneficial to tumor cells giving them a proliferative advantage.

It further augments tumorigenesis by upregulating proteolysis, genomic instability, immunosuppression, thereupeutic resistance and angiogenesis.

A more basic pHi on the other hand protects tumors from acidic pHe induced apoptosis and enhances their proliferation.

This event occurs quite early and is essential for tumorigenesis.
It increases the activity of glycolytic enzymes, resulting in the augmented production of cancerous building blocks.

It inhibits the cell cycle arrest mediated by DNA damage and promotes G2-M transition.
This allows for unrestricted proliferation and accumulation of genetic instability in tumor cells.
The pH Gradient Reversal can possibly be considered as the most distinct cancer specific abnormality and a mandatory event universally present in all kinds of cancerous cells and tissues.

Furthermore, it is manifest even during the commencement of tumorigenesis and is essential for the survival and proliferation of tumors, irrespective of their pathology, genetics and origins.
Based on these facts, we propose a novel hallmark of cancer – “pH gradient reversal”.

A low salt diet enriched with fruits and vegetables due to its alkaline nature can minimize pH Gradient Reversal by the tumors, thereby reducing their aggressive nature and therapeutic resistance.
Moreover, therapies specifically targeting this tumor hallmark are likely to offer a valuable adjunct to the conventional ones focused exclusively on killing tumor cells, and even replace the older, more toxic and non-selective therapeutic strategies.

We firmly believe that this hallmark should be added to the list of already existing ones.

Dr. Mohit Sharma, Dr. Madhusudan Astekar, Dr. Sonal Soi, Dr. Bhari S. Manjunatha, Dr. Devi C. Shetty and Dr. Raghu Radhakrishnan.
Department of Oral Pathology and Microbiology, ITS-CDSR, India.

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Chronic fatigue syndrome affects 1 in 50 16-year-olds


In what is believed to be the biggest study of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) — also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) — in children to date, researchers at the University of Bristol (UK), have found that almost 2 per cent of 16-year-olds have CFS lasting more than six months and nearly 3 per cent have CFS lasting more than three months (the UK definition). Those with CFS missed, on average, more than half a day of school every week.

The researchers looked at the condition in 5,756 participants in Children of the 90s and found that girls were almost twice as likely as boys to have the condition. This is because CFS/ME became more common in girls between 13 and 16 but not in boys. Children from families experiencing greater adversity were more likely to have the condition, dispelling the commonly held view that CFS is a ‘middle-class’ illness or ‘yuppie-flu’. The definition of adversity included poor housing, financial difficulties and a lack of practical and/or emotional support for the mother.

The researchers point out that the diagnosis of CFS was not made by a doctor but is based on responses to questionnaires sent to both the teenagers and their parents.

Dr Esther Crawley, a consultant paediatrician specialising in CFS/ME and the senior author of the report, said:

‘This is an important study because it shows that CFS/ME is much more common in teenagers than previously recognised. Treatment at this age is effective for most children but few have access to treatment in the UK. Children attending my specialist service at the Royal United Hospital in Bath only attend two days a week of school on average. This means that only the most severe cases are getting help. As paediatricians, we need to get better at identifying CFS/ME, particularly in those children from disadvantaged backgrounds who may be less able to access specialist care.’
Dr Simon Collin, the report’s lead author added:

‘CFS is a very debilitating illness which has a huge impact on the lives of children and their families, and the results of our study underscore the need for further research into the causes of, and improved treatments for, paediatric CFS.’

Mary-Jane Willows, chief executive of the Association of Young People with ME, said:
‘We are encouraged by the results of this study as, at last, our children, their families and those fighting for a diagnosis have the evidence they need. Evidence confirming the condition as being not only really common but, more significantly, evidence reflecting the high level of suffering with which they are forced to live.

‘Our own research in 2015 revealed that 94 per cent of children with ME/CFS reported being disbelieved and, combined with the results of this study, we hope this unequivocal need for a far better level of understanding from health and education professionals will signal the beginning in a shift in access to treatment, with currently only 10 per cent having access to a specialist. We also hope this research leads to a reduction in the high number of unjustified allegations of harm made against parents.’

Sonya Chowdhury, chief executive of Action for ME added:

‘This important study, analysing data from parent- and child-completed questionnaires, highlights the increased prevalence of ME among 16-year olds, pointing with even greater urgency to the need for effective treatments. We know from contact with the parents of children with ME that this disabling condition impacts on every area of family life. The reality is that many young people miss considerably more than half a day of school a week, while for the most severely affected, their disabling symptoms are compounded by the isolation and loss that comes with being house- and/or bed-bound.’

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