Category Archives: Health

Study: Milk Keeps You from Getting Sick

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The next time you dip a cookie in a glass of milk, you might be warding off potentially dangerous infections.

According to a study appearing online in The BMJ, milk may have the ability to ward off illness, thanks to high levels of Vitamin D. Funded by the U.K. National Institute of Health Research, the research found that the essential vitamin helps the body fend off acute respiratory infections, which are responsible for millions of global deaths every year.

According to investigators, daily or weekly Vitamin D supplementation cut the risk of respiratory infection in half for people who had significant deficiencies. At the same time, it also appeared to offer beneficial effects to subjects who did not have deficiencies before entering the study.

A Major Revelation

Each year, acute respiratory infections send millions of people to emergency rooms in the United States. According to the study’s senior author, Carlos Camargo, a professor of emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School, his research could have a significant effect on the health system by supporting efforts to fortify foods with vitamin D.

Getting More Vitamin D

Traditionally, humans have received the majority of their vitamin D from sunlight; however, rising rates of skin cancer have led many people to avoid the sun. In turn, more and more people are experiencing Vitamin D deficiencies.

According to skincancer.org, U.S. doctors diagnose over 4 million new cases of skin cancer every twelve months. Sadly, many of these new cases are deadly melanoma, which kills thousands of Americans every year. In turn, more and more people have begun staying out of the sun. This has led to widespread vitamin D deficiencies, which can have a serious impact on the nation’s collective health.

Because very few foods naturally contain relevant levels of Vitamin D, some food products are fortified with the essential fat-soluble vitamin. Nearly all commercially produced pasteurized milk is fortified with 100 IUs of Vitamin D per 8-ounce cup. This makes it a practical source for people who fail to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D from sunlight.

If this recent study is correct, it may also mean that milk could be an effective tool for helping people reduce their risk of respiratory infections.

Celery Can Boost Intelligence, says Study

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Most people experience a decline in brain function as they age. Fortunately, new research suggests they might be able to boost intelligence by reversing this process with celery and other foods rich in a specific plant compound.

Reducing Age-related Brain Damage

According to researchers at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, luteolin helps to reduce age-related memory deficits in the brain. Found in celery and a few other healthy fruits and vegetables, the natural plant compound appears to do this by suppressing the release of inflammatory molecules, which are known to damage brain neurons as we get older.

Appearing in the Journal of Nutrition, the study focused on microglial cells, which play a key role in immune function within the brain and spinal cord. Under normal circumstances, infections stimulate microglia to make cytokines, which spark an array of chemical changes in the brain. Over time, however, microglial cells can become dysregulated, causing increased inflammation which can spur all sorts of troublesome issues, including loss of appetite, sleepiness, depressive behaviors and memory deficits.

Past research has shown that this process contributes to cognitive aging, while also playing a role in the development of neurodegenerative diseases. In this study, researchers were able to preserve brain neurons from inflammatory damage by first exposing microglia to luteolin.

What’s more, when they provided older subjects with more dietary luteolin, they demonstrated improved working memory, which rivaled that seen in younger subjects.

Should You Eat More Luteolin?

While this study focused on mice, researchers believe luteolin should have similar positive benefits on human brains. This study further supports other evidence that healthy diets can promote better cognitive health by providing anti-inflammatory effects.

If you would like to increase your luteolin intake but aren’t a big fan of celery, have no fear. Luteolin is also found in carrots, peppers, peppermint, olive oil, rosemary and chamomile.

How Does Diet Soda Prevent Weight Loss?

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For years, weight loss centered on simple math: if you burned more calories than you ate, you would inevitably shed unwanted fat. While this basic principle may still be true, recent studies have demonstrated that getting and keeping a lean body could be more complicated than once thought. Most of these studies focus on how certain foods affect the body’s metabolism. Now research suggests even zero-calorie diet soda may prevent weight loss for this reason.

Diet Soda Prevents Weight Loss: Study

According to a research paper published in Obesity Reviews, scientists believe that artificial sweeteners may prompt gut flora to adapt in unhealthy ways which promote weight gain. The study found that this adaptation could cause the body’s metabolism to slow down, which may lead it to burn fewer calories. Additionally, a slower metabolism can lead to unexplained fatigue and an increased appetite, all of which tend to promote weight gain.

This latest study is especially interesting, especially since past studies have also found that probiotics may have the ability to enhance stomach fat loss by balancing the body’s natural gut flora.

Healthy Weight Loss Takes Time

This latest study is just another in a long line proving there’s no shortcut to weight loss. Although sugar substitutes may drastically reduce the amount of calories a dieter consumes on any given day, research suggests they still promote weight gain by slowing the body’s metabolism.

If you want to successfully lose unwanted fat and keep it off, you should focus on eating healthy natural foods that speed the metabolism, while providing plenty of energy to help fuel exercise. This includes lots of lean meats, fibrous vegetables and whole grains, as well as foods rich in healthy omega fatty acids. In the end, because diet soda has shown a propensity to prevent weight loss, dieters are likely to see much better results when they stick to drinking boring old water.

Common Weight Loss Drug Dangerous: Study

Thin women (photo by David Merrett )

Obesity is a huge problem in America, where it’s estimated that approximately 60 percent of the U.S. population is overweight. This has created huge business opportunities for pharmaceutical companies, which make billions selling weight loss drugs to desperate consumers. Unfortunately, a new study suggests that one of these drugs may cause serous organ damage.

Severe Toxicity

Research out of the University of Rhode Island indicates that the popular weight loss drug orlistat may have the potential to cause kidney and liver damage. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study looked at several cases of toxicity related to use of the drug and found that an overwhelming connection existed.

Sold under the brand names Alli and Xenical, orlistat was shown to interfere with important natural enzymes that detoxify internal organs. It was also shown to inhibit the effectiveness of other pharmaceuticals, including anti-cancer medications.

A Smarter Way to Lose Weight

Approved for over-the-counter sale in 2007, orlistat isn’t the first weight loss drug to come under fire in recent years. Unfortunately, as dieters continue to search for quick ways to shed unwanted weight, pharmaceutical companies line up to satisfy demand.

According to health and fitness expert Paul A. Achoa, not only do many of these drugs pose a threat to a user’s long-term health; they don’t usually provide lasting results.

“More often than not, these drugs will lead to quick results that don’t last very long,” he said. “On the other hand, when dieters make strategic long-term lifestyle changes that promote healthy weights; they tend to see results that last for years.”

Achoa says people can attain leaner physiques by eating more fibrous whole grains and vegetables. According to him, this is one fundamental step that many ignore.

“Most people focus on calories when trying to lose weight,” he said. “While this is an important part of any weight loss plan; it’s not the only thing that matters. To promote fat loss, you need to eat high-fiber, low-glycemic foods that take a long time to digest. This helps control appetite and prevents big insulin spikes that promote fat accumulations.”

Burning Belly Fat: Weight Loss Expert Gives 3 Keys

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Burning belly fat is one of the most difficult weight loss goals anyone can take on. Thanks to genetic tendencies, most of us hoard fatty tissue around the midsection. Unfortunately, for most people, love handles or stubborn spare tires tend to be the last things to go. Only after you’ve thinned out your face, arms, back and thighs will you see results around your midsection. To hasten the process consider the following:

Avoid Sugar

According to health and fitness expert Jake Weathers, sugar is a real no-no for dieters who are hoping to burn belly fat.

“Anything that causes a surge in insulin levels is going to cause your body to create stomach fat,” he said. “Truthfully, any sort of high glycemic foods are going to encourage the development of fatty tissue; however, sugar is the mother of all evils.”

Time Your Exercise

Any sort of aerobic exercise will encourage weight loss; however, Weathers says well-timed exercise does the most good.

“If you want to ensure that you are burning fatty tissue, you need to work out when your glycogen reserves are empty,” he said. “Otherwise, you will just be burning what you ate a few minutes or hours before.”

According to Weathers, dieters will have more success burning belly fat when they workout in the morning on an empty stomach or immediately after lifting weights, when their glycogen reserves are depleted.

Eat More Fiber

It may sound silly, but eating is a fundamental part or weight loss. Weathers says high-fiber foods help promote smaller waists by preventing surges in insulin and promoting stomach satiety.

“High fiber foods are low in calories,” he said. “That said, they also aid weight loss by taking a long time to digest. This means they enter the blood stream slowly, which promotes better energy levels and prevents the brain from telling the body to make more fat. They also make you feel fuller, which helps to curb overall appetite.”

Could New Diet Pill Let You Lose Weight, Eat Sugar?

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Most people accept that dieting depends on giving up foods that are high in sugar and fat; however, a recent study suggests a new diet pill might allow us to lose weight while eating whatever we want.

All in the Brain?

Past studies have found that opioid receptors inside our brains help determine how our bodies process sugars and fats. What’s more, by blocking these receptors in mice, scientists have been able to promote weight loss even when the mice ate diets high that were in sugar and fat.

In this most recent study, researchers out of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology went so far as to delete the opioid receptor genes from mice, resulting in the increased production of brown adipose tissue, a special kind of fat that helps mammals generate body heat at the expense of more calories.

New Diet Drug on the Way?

According to experts, these types of studies are likely to lead to a new diet pill that will block opioid receptors. Theoretically, this would allow humans to maintain healthy body weights despite eating foods which are high in sugar and fat.

Unfortunately, it may take years before you can lose weight with the help of such a pill. According to health and fitness expert, Paul A. Achoa, such a pill might actually do more harm than good.

“Obviously, obesity promotes all sorts of health problems, including cardiovascular disease,” he said. “However, it’s important to remember that high fat intake can also promote disease by increasing cholesterol levels. Additionally, high sugar diets have been shown to promote insulin resistance, which can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.”

To lose weight safely, Achoa recommends that dieters forget diet pills and concentrate on eating more protein and fiber.

“High protein and high fiber diets promote fullness, while preventing the big insulin spikes that cause fat production,” he said. “It may not be sexy, but it is the best way to get a sexy, healthy body.”