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Study Shows That Sleep Deprivation Impairs Brain’s Ability To Select Healthy Foods

June 10, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
Lack of sleep damages the areas of the brain where decisions are made about eating healthy or unhealthy foods, a University of California researcher reports. Graduate student Stephanie Greer says her findings may explain the connection between sleep deprivation and obesity. For the study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to examine the brains of 23 healthy adults after a normal night’s sleep and a night of sleep deprivation. Scan results showed that sleep deprivation significantly impaired brain activity in the frontal lobe, a region critical for controlling behavior and making complex choices, such as the selection of food to eat.
Stephanie Greer, "Sleep deprivation disrupts human brain reactivity in response to food desire", Presentation, annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, June 10, 2012, © Associated Professional Sleep Societies
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New Technology Makes It Easy To Test For Celiac Disease

June 6, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
Scientists in Europe say they have developed a quick, effective and cheap “lab-on-a-chip” method to test for gluten intolerance, the main characteristic of celiac disease. Gluten is a protein found in wheat flour. The diagnostic and monitoring system will soon be tested in clinical trials in Slovenia and could be available to doctors, hospitals and clinics in Europe and elsewhere within a few years. The system is the result of a convergence of innovative technologies such as microfluidics, nanotechnology and genetic testing. The researchers say the technology can be adapted for use in other autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, spondylitis, thyroiditis, and even cancer.
Ciara O'Sullivan, "A Quick, Cheap, Accurate Test for Gluten Intolerance", News release, CD-Medics project, June 06, 2012, © CORDIS
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Pilot Project Shows That Teens Can Reduce Consumption Of Sugary Drinks

June 6, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
Researchers focusing on the health and dietary patterns of people in Appalachia developed a pilot interventional program that significantly reduced consumption of sugar sweetened beverages among teenagers. High concentrations of chronic diabetes and obesity are found among the 25 million people of Appalachia – a region that stretches from the southern tier of New York to northern Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. The pilot program used surveys, focus groups and community health advocates to create a “Sodabriety” challenge for teens: give up or reduce consumption of sugary drinks for 30 days. According to the researchers, the project worked because teens “motivated each other in ways that showed a sense of ownership and pride."
Smith, Laureen H. et al., "Engaging Rural and Urban Appalachians in Research using a Community-Based Participatory Research Approach", PRISM: A Journal of Regional Engagement, June 06, 2012, © The Authors
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Eating Fruits And Vegetables Seems To Help Smokers Kick The Habit

June 6, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A 14-month U.S. study based on interviews with 1,000 smokers aged 25 and older found that those who quit smoking tended to consume more fruits and vegetables. Smokers who consumed the most fruit and vegetables were three times more likely to be tobacco-free for at least 30 days at follow-up 14 months later than those consuming the lowest amount of fruits and vegetables. The held true even when adjustments were made to take into account age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, household income and health orientation. Though the researchers acknowledged that their findings from telephone interviews were “observational” only, they said they "may have identified a new tool that can help people quit smoking."
J. P. Haibach et al., "A Longitudinal Evaluation of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Cigarette Smoking", Nicotine & Tobacco Research, June 06, 2012, © The Author
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Restricted Calorie Intake Is Linked With Healthier Heart

June 6, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A study by U.S. and Italian researchers finds that people who have significantly restricted their caloric intake for an average of seven years have healthier, younger hearts. The researchers studied 22 people who restricted their calorie intake but ate healthy diets, and 20 people who ate a standard Western diet. Average age was about 51. The study focused on changes in heart rate variability, a measurement that tells a lot about the way the autonomic nervous system affects the heart. In the study, those who restricted their calorie intake over long periods of time had higher heart rate variability, and thus a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
Phyllis K. Stein et al., "Caloric restriction may reverse age-related autonomic decline in humans", Aging Cell, June 06, 2012, © John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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The Sandwich Trend: Convenience, Economy, Health, And Exotic Varieties

June 5, 2012: 10:17 AM EST
Americans have discovered – or re-discovered – the convenience and economy of sandwiches, and restaurants have caught on to the trend. Pizza Hut, for example, has added sandwiches to their menu, but with a twist. They package sausage, pepperoni, ham, Italian steak and Buffalo chicken into a rolled pizza crust sandwich. A Technomic report found that 41 percent of consumers ages 25 to 34 want restaurants to offer mini-sandwiches that can be eaten as a snack or light meal, like McDonald's wrap sandwiches. The most popular sandwich in the U.S. these days? According to a food consultant, it’s the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich, a concoction of grilled pork, chicken or beef, pickled vegetables and cilantro.
"Pizza Hut launches hot sandwiches in response to emerging food trend", Yahoo! News, June 05, 2012, via AFP Relax News , © AFP Relax News/Yahoo! News
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Compound In Milk Helps Boost Metabolism, Increase Endurance

June 5, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A multinational team of researchers has determined that an ingredient in milk – nicotinamide riboside – boosts the activity of the gene SIRT1, which benefits metabolism and longevity. In a mouse study, animals that took nicotinamide riboside in fairly high doses while eating a high-fat diet burned more fat and were protected from obesity. Thanks to a boost in endurance, they also become better runners. The researchers suggested that the milk substance seems to offer the same benefits as resveratrol, and could help in achieving slimmer waistlines and perhaps longer lives.
CanCarles Cantó et al., " The NAD precursor nicotinamide riboside enhances oxidative metabolism and protects against high-fat diet induced obesity", Cell Metabolism, June 05, 2012, © Elsevier Inc.
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Proposed N.Y. City Ban On Supersized Sodas May Be Missing The Mark, Experts Say

June 4, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
University health experts in Alabama warn that N.Y. City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on the sale of super-sized sodas is too narrowly focused to make much of an impact on obesity. They cited 2009 research into the effect of drinking sugar-sweetened beverages on body weight that found no significant effect on weight reduction after participants reduced their consumption. Subsequent studies have shown the same results. The researchers said they hope energy and resources will instead be focused on conducting clinical trials that will “definitively answer” questions about all of the public health actions that might significantly reduce weight, not just one.
Kathryn Kaiser, Ph.D. & Suzanne Judd, Ph.D., "Will a NYC Supersize Soda Ban Help Obesity Battle?", News release, University of Alabama at Birmingham, June 04, 2012, © University of Alabama at Birmingham
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Cooling Vests Activate Brown Fat To Burn Calories, Reduce Obesity

June 4, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. researchers have found that reduced temperatures activate brown fat to burn calories and reduce obesity. The researchers also found that the chemical ephedrine, used as a decongestant and bronchodilator and lately as a weight loss drug, has no impact on brown fat, though it does burn calories, albeit with some side effects like increased blood pressure. For the study, ten people received ephedrine injections or a placebo, or wore cooling vests. Both methods burned the same number of calories, but the cooling vest activated brown fat with fewer side effects.
Aaron M. Cypess et al., "Cold but not sympathomimetics activates human brown adipose tissue in vivo", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, June 04, 2012, © National Academy of Sciences
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Studies Support Simple Steps To Prevent Illness, Improve Health

June 4, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
Staying healthy needn’t be a complicated affair, according to five multinational studies. In reviews of scientific literature, researchers found, for example, that frequently eating fresh fish reduces the risk of colorectal cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancer. A meta-analysis of 14 studies found that unconventional smoking cessation aids, like  acupuncture and hypnotherapy, were a significant help in quitting smoking. Other simple steps toward a healthier life: regular teeth cleaning to improve cardiovascular health and using low-dose aspirin to reduce cancer risk.
Shengjun Wu et al., "Fish Consumption and Colorectal Cancer Risk in Humans: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis", The American Journal of Medicine, June 04, 2012, © Elsevier Inc.
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Soy Supplements Do Not Improve Women’s Cognitive Abilities, Except Maybe Visual Memory

June 4, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A 2.5-year study of middle-age and older postmenopausal women found that soy supplements had no significant impact on overall mental abilities. The study’s lead author said there were no large effects, either positive or negative, on cognition. Soy and soy-based products contain estrogen-like compounds  called isoflavones; some women take soy supplements as an alternative to estrogen s a postmenopausal therapy. The researchers did note that women in the study who took soy supplements showed a greater improvement in visual memory (memory for faces). This could be important, they noted, but "the finding needs to be replicated in future studies."
V.W. Henderson et al., "Long-term soy isoflavone supplementation and cognition in women: A randomized, controlled trial", Neurology, June 04, 2012, © AAN Enterprises, Inc.
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Researcher Forecasts Increased Growth For “Healthier” Breads

May 31, 2012: 09:14 AM EST
The trend away from white bread toward “healthier” breads continues, according to recent industry sales stats. IBISWorld reports that white bread still accounts for 45 percent of total bread sales, but it’s losing ground to whole-grain, organic, gluten-free, seeded and artisan breads. The latter two offer significant growth opportunities for smaller players. In general, IBISWorld believes that breads that promote a healthy image will flourish though manufacturers will be “forced to accelerate innovation to keep up with changing consumer preferences.”
Nassim Khadem, "Bread wars go brown", BRW, May 31, 2012, © Fairfax
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Company’s Gelatin-Free Multivitamin With Vitamin D3 Targets Muslim Women

May 31, 2012: 09:53 PM EST
Nutrition Enhancement has introduced a halal-certified gelatin-free multivitamin product with nutrients supporting the health of both men and women of all ages. Nutrition Enhancement Multivitamin is equivalent to leading brands in the market, the company says, but is formulated without gelatin, making it the only halal-certified multivitamin with 1000 IU of Vitamin D3. Vitamin D deficiency problems arise when people do not get enough sun exposure, a problem for Muslim women because of a dress code that requires wearing a scarf or Hijab. The company also makes Halal Omega-3 fish oil.
"Nutrition Enhancement Launches Halal Certified Gelatin-Free Multivitamin", Press release, Nutrition Enhancement, May 31, 2012, © Nutrition Enhancement
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Protein Trend Means Sales Boost For Powder, Bar Makers

May 31, 2012: 09:07 AM EST
America’s demand for protein is surging, thanks to a torrent of advice from physical trainers, diet gurus and weight-loss plans; that means big business for makers of protein powders, shakes and energy bars. The boost in protein demand is also benefiting retail grocers, whose shelves are now packed with protein products, replacing space once stocked with high-fiber and low-fat products. The irony is that, even without the protein powders and bars, Americans already eat plenty of protein, experts say. A diet survey from 2007-2008 shows “men and women commonly consuming more protein than needed, sometimes by a third or more,” the AP reports.
Michael Hill, "Beyond meat: Americans preoccupied with protein", BusinessWeek, May 31, 2012, via Associated Press, © The Associated Press
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Dark Chocolate Reduces Cholesterol And High Blood Pressure – Study

May 31, 2012: 03:06 AM EST
An Australian study involving 2,013 people with high blood pressure and pre-diabetic metabolic syndrome found that consumption of dark chocolate lowers both blood pressure and cholesterol. Participants in the study had no history of cardiovascular disease and were not receiving anti-hypertensive therapy. Researchers said daily intake of 100 g (3.5 oz.) of dark chocolate reduced cardiovascular events by 85 in a population of 10,000 over ten years. To be effective,  the chocolate needs to be dark and at least 60-70 percent cocoa, or formulated to be enriched with polyphenols.
Ella Zomer et al., "The effectiveness and cost effectiveness of dark chocolate consumption as prevention therapy in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease: best case scenario analysis using a Markov model", British Medical Journal (BMJ), May 31, 2012, © Open Access
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Lupin-Based Breakfast Cereal: Healthier Than Wheat-Based Products?

May 30, 2012: 10:34 AM EST
An Australian university professor has developed a breakfast cereal based on the traditional feed grain lupin that, he says, is healthier than wheat-based breakfast cereals. The cereal is gluten-free, high in fiber and protein, low in fat, and cholesterol free. In addition, the cereal has a low glycemic index, so it takes longer for the digestive system to process, helping people to avoid hunger pangs and snacking.
"Super Lupin breakfast cereal a world first", Curtin University, May 30, 2012, © Curtin University of Technology
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Physical Activity And Fruit/Vegetable Consumption Lower Mortality Rates For Older Women

May 30, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
Univ. of Michigan researchers who studied 713 women aged 70 to 79 years found that those who were most physically active and ate the most fruits and vegetables were eight times more likely to survive the five-year follow-up period than women with the lowest rates. Information for the study was gathered from participant questionnaires about physical activity and from measurements of blood levels of carotenoids, beneficial pigments from fruits and vegetables that the body turns into antioxidants. Key findings: women in the most active group at baseline had a 71 percent lower five-year death rate than the women in the least active group; women in the highest carotenoid group had a 46 percent lower five-year death rate.
Emily J. Nicklett et al., "Fruit and Vegetable Intake, Physical Activity, and Mortality in Older Community-Dwelling Women", Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, May 30, 2012, © The American Geriatrics Society
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Omega-3 Fatty Acids Supplements May Prevent Age-Related Vision Loss

May 30, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
Supplementing the diets of older people with DHA – an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish like salmon and anchovies – prevents the accumulation of a toxic molecule in the retina that causes vision loss, Canadian research has found. The toxin (A2E, a constituent of the toxin lipofuscin) doubles as people age, but the researchers found in lab tests with mice that DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) stopped the accumulation of the toxin. The researchers have launched a clinical study involving people with age-related macular degeneration to see if certain genetic markers for the disease will respond better to increasing amounts of DHA in their diets.
B. Dornstauder et al., "Dietary Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation Prevents Age-Related Functional Losses and A2E Accumulation in the Retina", Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, May 30, 2012, © Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
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Children Learn Healthy Eating Habits By Imitating Their Parents

May 30, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
Imitation is not only the sincerest form of flattery, it’s also the best way to teach kids healthy eating habits, a U.S. study finds. The research focused on the eating habits of low-income families, finding that preschool children of mothers who led by example -- persuading rather than forcing their kids to eat fruits and vegetables -- tended to eat healthier foods. Parents are  better off adopting balanced eating habits themselves, subtly controlling their children's diet quality by not bringing unhealthy foods into the house. Conversely, overly restricting certain foods can lead to unhealthy eating.
M. Murashima et al., "Feeding behaviors of low-income mothers: directive control relates to a lower BMI in children, and a nondirective control relates to a healthier diet in preschoolers", American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 30, 2012, © American Society for Nutrition
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Study Links Mediterranean Diet To Improved Mental, Physical Health

May 29, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A study by Spanish researchers has linked the Mediterranean diet – fruit, vegetables, pulses (beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils etc.), fish, olive oil and nuts – to improved mental and physical health. Scientists analyzed the influence of the Mediterranean diet on the quality of life of a sample of more than 11,000 university students over four years. Dietary intake data was taken at the beginning and measured after four years. Those who stuck more to the Mediterranean diet scored higher on the quality of life questionnaire in terms of physical and mental well-being. The link was even stronger in terms of physical quality of life.
P. Henríquez Sánchez et al., "Adherence to the Mediterranean diet and quality of life in the SUN Project", European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 29, 2012, © Nature Publishing Group
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Bananas Are A Better Carb/Nutrient Source Than Sports Drinks Before Strenuous Exercise

May 29, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. researchers have found that bananas are more beneficial to vigorous exercisers than sports drinks. The study showed that half a banana given to trained cyclists every fiftyeen minutes during a 75-kilometer road race (nearly 3 hours long) provided antioxidants not found in sports drinks, plus fiber, potassium, vitamin B6 and a healthier blend of sugars. According to one of the researchers, the findings show that healthy carbohydrate sources like bananas "before and after exercise will support athletic performance just as well as a sports drink."
David C. Nieman et al., " Bananas as an Energy Source during Exercise: A Metabolomics Approach", PLoS ONE, May 29, 2012, © Nieman et al.
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Serving Size Reminder In Potato Chip Tubes Curbs Over-Eating

May 28, 2012: 05:33 AM EST
Cornell University researchers report that they have discovered a way to help people curb the nearly insatiable appetite for potato chips packaged in tubes. An experiment involving 98 college students found that placing edible serving size markers – dyed red – placed in the tubes serve as subconscious stop signs. Unaware of why some of the chips were red, students served potato chip tubes consumed about 50 percent less than their peers: 20 and 24 chips on average for the seven-chip (one serving) and 14-chip (two servings) segmented tubes. This compared with 45 chips in the control group.
Andrew Geier et al., "Red potato chips: Segmentation cues can substantially decrease food intake", Health Psychology, May 28, 2012, © American Psychological Association
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African-American Men Quietly Endure Healthier Diet At Home, But Splurge When Away

May 22, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A focus-group study of 83 African-American men has found that most will put up with healthier dietary changes at home to keep the peace, but will often overindulge on foods they like when they’re away from the house. The majority of men interviewed in focus groups said their wives did not consult with them before imposing a healthier diet. But to avoid conflict, the men acquiesced in the changes to maintain a happy home. According to one of the researchers, men “compensate for the dissatisfaction of not eating what they want by making unhealthier choices outside the home."
Julie Ober Allen et al., " “She Looks out for the Meals, Period”: African American Men's Perceptions of How Their Wives Influence Their Eating Behavior and Dietary Health", Health Psychology, May 22, 2012, © American Psychological Association
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Cupcake Craze Is Symbol Of Global Sugar Addiction

May 18, 2012: 09:08 PM EST
British author Damian Thompson (“The Fix: How Addiction is Invading Our Lives and Taking Over Your World”), convinced by scientific evidence and personal observations, believes that sugar – delivered in the form of cupcakes, cookies, cakes, etc. – is as addictive as cocaine and a major global health problem. Perhaps the most obvious example of the problem is today’s cupcake craze. Thompson says people say they like cupcakes because they are so “retro” and are a delicious reminder of their childhoods. On the contrary, he argues, “We like them because they allow us to mainline sugar.”
Damian Thompson, "Why cupcakes are the new cocaine", The Telegraph, May 18, 2012, © Telegraph Media Group Limited
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Healthy Diet During Pregnancy Prevents Complications, Even Among The Overweight

May 18, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A new British study shows that expectant mothers who consume a healthy diet monitored by health professionals prevents excess weight gain in pregnancy and reduces the risk of pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia, diabetes, high blood pressure and early delivery. Women – event the overweight and obese – who followed a calorie controlled diet were 33 percent less likely to develop pre-eclampsia, one of the most dangerous pregnancy complications involving raised blood pressure and protein in the urine. Their risk of gestational diabetes was 60 percent lower, of gestational high blood pressure, 70 percent lower, and of early delivery, 32 percent lower.
S. Thangaratinam et al., "Effects of interventions in pregnancy on maternal weight and obstetric outcomes: meta-analysis of randomised evidence", BMJ, May 18, 2012, © BMJ Publishing Group Ltd
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When You Eat May Be As Important As What, And How Much

May 17, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A U.S. study in mice offers a significant insight for people trying to lose weight. Regular eating times, coupled with an extended period of fasting each day, seems to override the adverse health effects of a high-fat diet. Consequently, researchers found, such a dietary pattern may prevent obesity, diabetes and liver disease. Mice limited to eating during an 8-hour period were found to be healthier than mice that ate freely throughout the day, regardless of the quality and content of their diet.
Megumi Hatori et al., "Time-Restricted Feeding without Reducing Caloric Intake Prevents Metabolic Diseases in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet", Cell Metabolism, May 17, 2012, © Elsevier Inc.
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Overdosing On Some Supplements Poses A Cancer Risk

May 15, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
Certain dietary supplements widely available in the U.S. are harmless when taken at triple the recommended dose, but pose a cancer risk if taken at higher doses, a U.S. study has found. Beta-carotene, selenium and folic acid are essential nutrients, and are beneficial and harmless when taken in a certain balance, researchers say. But when taken at much higher doses, as some manufacturers recommend, they have been shown to increase the risk of developing a wide variety of cancers.
M. E. Martinez et al., "Dietary Supplements and Cancer Prevention: Balancing Potential Benefits Against Proven Harms", Journal of the National Cancer Institute, May 15, 2012, © The authors
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Learning, Memory Improve With Increased Levels Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

May 15, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A U.S. study confirms that eating a high-fructose diet for a long period of time harms the brain’s ability to learn and remember information, but increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in  the diet counteracts the adverse effects. The study in rats showed that fructose – from, for example cane sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup – impedes the synapses’ ability to transmit signals between brain cells. But the problem can be overcome if the brain has access to omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA, which improves synaptic functions.
R. Agrawal et al., "'Metabolic syndrome' in the brain: deficiency in omega-3 fatty acid exacerbates dysfunctions in insulin receptor signaling and cognition", The Journal of Physiology, May 15, 2012, © The Physiological Society
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Tax On Unhealthy Foods Should Be At Least 20 Percent To Have A Health Impact

May 15, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
British researchers say evidence they have accumulated from various studies suggests that a minimum 20 percent tax on unhealthy foods, such as sugary drinks, would have a major impact on obesity and heart disease. Such a tax should be combined with subsidies on health foods, like fruits and vegetables. Modeling studies, for example, predict that a 20 percent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in the U.S. would reduce obesity levels by 3.5 percent; extending the VAT (currently at 17.5 percent) in the U.K. to unhealthy foods could reduce heart disease deaths by 2,700 a year.
O. T. Mytton et al., "Taxing unhealthy food and drinks to improve health", BMJ, May 15, 2012, © BMJ Publishing Group Ltd
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California Bakery Produces High-Fiber Breads Whose “Net Carb” Content Is Zero

May 14, 2012: 11:24 AM EST
A California bakery has developed a line of breads for bread lovers who are trying to cut down on carbs. Julian Bakery of La Jolla offers low-carb and carb-free breads that it claims are "compatible with any diet plan" whose overall goal is a reduction in carbohydrate intake. Julian’s Carb Zero Bread is also gluten-free, high in protein and fiber, low in calories, and contains no sugar, yeast, or preservatives. The concept – identical to the Atkins “net carb” idea – is that fiber-based carbs can be subtracted from total carbs because they are not metabolized or stored in the body as fat. Julian’s bread has an equal amount of carbohydrates and fiber, leading to a net carb level of zero.
"Julian Bakery Offers Healthy, Diet-Friendly Breads With Zero Net Carbs", News release, Julian Bakery, May 14, 2012, © Julian Bakery
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Children Of Overweight Expectant Mothers Tend To Be Overweight As Adults

May 13, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
Researchers in Israel and the U.S. have found that the children of overweight mothers-to-be tend to be overweight as well, and have a greater tendency toward being overweight and experiencing higher blood pressure and excess sugar and fat levels in the blood. The study analyzed clinical data – including pregnancy weight and birth weight of children – on 1,400 people born in Jerusalem in 1974-76. They then gathered data on the children at age 32. The results showed a clear influence of the overweight of the mothers on the overweight of their children, affecting in turn other health risk factors in adulthood.
H. Hochner et al., "Associations of Maternal Prepregnancy Body Mass Index and Gestational Weight Gain With Adult Offspring Cardiometabolic Risk Factors", Circulation, May 13, 2012, © American Heart Association, Inc.
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Low-Cal Nutrition Bar Improves Biological Risk Factors Linked To Heart Disease

May 10, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A low-calorie fruit-based, high-fiber nutrition bar rich in vitamins and minerals has been tested successfully in small U.S. clinical trials and found to lead to favorable metabolic changes after only two weeks. Participants in the studies at the “CHORI-bar” (from the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute) twice a day for two weeks. Researchers found that eating the bar improved biological indicators – increased HDL-c and glutathione, and lowered homocysteine – all of which have been linked to risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and associated decline in antioxidant defenses. The researchers have developed two additional bars that expand the number of biomarkers improved by the bar to include measures of insulin resistance, inflammation, etc.
Mietus-Snyder, M. L. et al., "A nutrient-dense high fiber, fruit-based supplement bar increases HDL, particularly large HDL, lowers homocysteine, and raises glutathione in in a 2-week trial", FASEB Journal, May 10, 2012, © Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
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Cancer-Fighting Compound Can Be Easily Produced By Soaking Soybeans In Water

May 9, 2012: 10:28 AM EST
A substance produced when soybeans are soaked in water shows promise in cancer prevention, new U.S. research has found. Bowman-Birk Protease Inhibitor (BBI), currently manufactured in a time-consuming industrial process, has been tested successfully in clinical trials. Scientists believe the BBI from soybeans, which are widely consumed by the Japanese, are the basis for lower cancer rates in Japan. The researchers found that soybean seeds incubated in water at 122 degrees (F) naturally release large amounts of BBI that can be easily harvested from water.
Manoj H. Palavalli et al., " Imbibition of Soybean Seeds in Warm Water Results in the Release of Copious Amounts of Bowman–Birk Protease Inhibitor, a Putative Anticarcinogenic Agent", Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, May 09, 2012, © American Chemical Society
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Voracious Eating Patterns Signal An Increased Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

May 7, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A study by Lithuanian scientists finds that people who eat quickly are at much greater risk of type 2 diabetes than people who eat more slowly. The study compared 234 newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients to 468 people who were diabetes-free. Researchers analyzed questionnaires from the participants, who reported their eating speed, weight, height, and waist and hip measurements. After adjusting for other risk factors (e.g., family history of diabetes, education level, smoking etc.), the researchers found that those who ate faster were two-and-a-half times more likely to have diabetes. Higher body mass index and significantly lower education level were also indicators of diabetes risk. 
Lina Radzeviciene, "Eating Fast Increases Diabetes Risk", News release, presentation at the International Congress of Endocrinology and European Congress of Endocrinology, May 07, 2012, © European Society of Endocrinology
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Reducing BMI By Five Points Cuts The Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

May 6, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
Though it’s not an easy task, reducing the body mass index (BMI) by five points can significantly cut the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to Swedish/Finnish research. Even severely obese diabetics who lower their BMI have a chance of curing themselves of the disease. Researchers examined data on 2,010 patients who had received bariatric surgery and 2,037 obese patients who received non-surgical interventions. Data were analyzed at two years and then at 10 years. Lower rates of diabetes were found among obese patients who had lost five BMI units by any means. The rate of patients cured of diabetes after losing five BMI units was independent of the starting BMI at all BMI levels measured. This trend was also observed 10 years after surgery.
Markku Peltonen et al., "Losing Weight When Obese Can Prevent or Cure Diabetes, Whatever the Initial BMI, Study Suggests", News release, presentation at the International Congress of Endocrinology/European Congress of Endocrinology, May 06, 2012, © European Society of Endocrinology
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More Evidence Of Cardiovascular Benefits Of Oily Fish

May 3, 2012: 10:16 PM EST
Eating oily fish at least twice a week offers substantial benefits for the cardiovascular system, according to research studies presented at a recent European medical meeting. Oily fish – salmon, mackerel, herring, trout and sardines –  are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other important nutrients. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be anti-inflammatory (reducing the risk of atherosclerosis) and anti-arrhythmic, reducing the risk of heart attack. Researchers reported that fish oil supplements – especially pharmaceutical grade formulas – can also provide cardiovascular benefits, especially for people who do not like eating fish. 
"A fish a day keeps the doctor away?", News release, presentation at the EuroPRevent 2012 meeting, May 03, 2012, © European Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation
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Increased Omega-3 Consumption Associated With Lower Risk Of Alzheimer’s

May 2, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A Columbia University study has found that the greater the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from a variety of foods the lower the levels of beta-amyloid – a protein related to Alzheimer’s disease – in the blood. Researchers obtained diet information for an average of 1.2 years from 1,219 people over age 65 who were free of dementia. Their blood was then tested for the beta-amyloid. Researchers were especially interested in 10 nutrients: saturated fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, mono-unsaturated fatty acid, vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin B12, folate and vitamin D. Eating a gram of omega-3 a day (about half a salmon fillet a week) more than the average omega-3 consumed by people in the study was associated with 20 to 30 percent lower blood beta-amyloid levels.
Y. Gu et al., "Nutrient intake and plasma β-amyloid", Neurology, May 02, 2012, © AAN Enterprises, Inc.
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Fructose Found To Be The Culprit When Obese People Develop Fatty Liver Disease

May 2, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. researchers have found out why consuming high levels of fructose – the sugar found most often in soft drinks and fruit juices – often leads to dangerous nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in obese people. Consuming too much fructose on a regular basis depletes the store of ATP, a molecule that provides liver and other body cells with energy for important cellular processes, including metabolism. When liver cells are unable to generate cellular energy because of ATP depletion, the risk for inflammation and scarring in the liver increases.
Manal F. Abdelmalek et al., "Higher dietary fructose is associated with impaired hepatic ATP homeostasis in obese individuals with type 2 diabetes", Hepatology, May 02, 2012, © John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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Mixing Medicines And Supplements Can Be Dangerous, Pharmacist Warns

May 1, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
An American pharmacist warns physicians and consumers that herbal, dietary, energy and  nutritional supplements, whether natural or not, can be harmful when combined with commonly used medicines. Catherine Ulbricht says that a substance that has a therapeutic effect on the body “can also cause a reaction or interaction.” For example, garlic, ginkgo, ginger, and saw palmetto supplements increase the risk of serious bleeding. Chromium, cinnamon and whey protein can reduce blood sugar. And bloodroot, green tea, hawthorn, and maté can raise blood pressure.
Catherine Ulbricht, "What Every Clinician Should Know About Herb–Supplement–Drug Interactions", Alternative and Complementary Therapies, May 01, 2012, © Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
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Youths Familiar With TV Fast-Food Ads Are More Likely To Be Obese

April 29, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
Teenagers and young adults who are aware of and receptive to fast-food ads on television are at greater risk of obesity, according to a U.S. study. The researchers polled more than 3,000 youths ages 15 to 23 years about their height and weight, exercise, and dietary habits, including frequency of eating at fast-food restaurants. They were also asked if they were familiar with 20 images taken from fast-food restaurant ads. About 18 percent were found to be overweight, and 15 percent were obese. But the percentage of youths who were obese was significantly higher among those who recognized more fast-food ads than those who recognized few ads (17 percent vs. 8.3 percent).
Auden C. McClure, M.D. et al., "Familiarity With Television Fast Food Ads Linked to Obesity", News release, presentation at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting, April 29, 2012, © American Academy of Pediatrics
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Overweight Girls Who Are Happy With How They Look Engage In Fewer Risky Dieting Behaviors

April 28, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
Overweight adolescent girls who say they are happy with their size and shape not only have higher levels of self-esteem, they are less likely to engage in negative behaviors sometimes associated with being overweight, a University of California study finds. For the study, 103 overweight adolescents were surveyed for three years. They were assessed for various factors associated with body satisfaction, including self-esteem, anxiety and depression symptoms. Girls who were highly satisfied with their bodies were less likely to engage in risky weight control behaviors, like fasting, skipping meals or vomiting.
Taya Cromley et al., "Relationships Between Body Satisfaction and Psychological Functioning and Weight-Related Cognitions and Behaviors in Overweight Adolescents", Journal of Adolescent Health, April 28, 2012, © Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
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Watercress Protects Body From Exercise-Induced Muscle Stress, DNA Damage

April 25, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A study sponsored by a European grower of watercress has found that the leafy green effectively reduced the stress endured by muscles during a strenuous workout. Even study participants who ate watercress two hours after high-intensity exercise experienced the same reduction in muscle stress. For the study, ten healthy young men ate 85 grams of watercress – a small bag – each day for eight weeks, then exercised on a treadmill. A similar eight week study without watercress consumption served as a control. The researchers found that eating small amounts of watercress each day boosted the levels of antioxidant vitamins that help protect bodies from stress-induced DNA damage.
Mark C. Fogarty et al., "Acute and chronic watercress supplementation attenuates exercise-induced peripheral mononuclear cell DNA damage and lipid peroxidation", British Journal of Nutrition, April 25, 2012, © Cambridge University Press
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Omega-3s Do Not Improve The Heart’s Diastolic Function

April 24, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. researchers studying the impact of omega-3 supplementation on cardiovascular health have ruled out the possibility that fish oil improves diastolic function: the ability of the heart to relax and efficiently refill with blood at each beat. Many studies over the years have established that omega-3 fatty acids help prevent cardiovascular disease and adverse cardiac events, such as heart attack and stroke. But no one has been able to explain why. In this study, eleven healthy adults (average age 66 years) took daily omega-3 supplements containing 1.9 grams EPA and 1.5 grams DHA. Over 12 weeks, however, there were no detectable improvements in diastolic function, suggesting that fish oil didn't change this important parameter of cardiac health.
Zhaohui Gao et al., "Three-Month Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Does Not Improve Cardiac Diastolic Function in Healthy Older Adults", News release, presentation at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting, April 24, 2012, © American Physiological Society
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Fish Oil, Perhaps Combined With Aspirin, May Reduce Gum Inflammation

April 24, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A review of eight studies on the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on gum inflammation has found that a combination of fish oil and aspirin seemed to have a significant impact, at least in two of the studies. The Australian researchers said the evidence that fish oil can be effective in reducing periodontal symptoms is growing, but is not conclusive. More well-designed studies are needed to assess the effectiveness of fish oil alone, and combined with aspirin, in combating periodontitis.
Dr. Alison Coates, "Fish Oil Could Be Therapy for Periodontal Disease", News release, presentation at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting, April 24, 2012, © Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
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The Right Forms Of Vitamin E Do Prevent Cancer, Review Of Research Finds

April 23, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
Vitamin E in the forms known as gamma-tocopherols and delta-tocopherols – found abundantly in vegetable oils – are beneficial in preventing cancers, a U.S. review of research finds. The researchers were careful to point out, however, that the vitamin E form known as alpha-tocopherol, commonly found in supplements, offers no such benefit. The beneficial forms of vitamin E are found in soybean, canola and corn oils, as well as nuts, and have been shown to prevent colon, breast and prostate cancers in animal models.
C. S. Yang et al., "Does Vitamin E Prevent or Promote Cancer?", Cancer Prevention Research, April 23, 2012, © American Association for Cancer Research
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All Things Considered, Canned Foods Are The Cheapest Source Of Nutrients

April 22, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A U.S. study that compared the cost of obtaining key nutrients from various sources found that canned foods are almost always more affordable and convenient. The “market-basket” study took into account not only nutrients, but also price, waste and preparation time of canned, fresh, frozen and dried varieties of some common foods. Canned foods almost always were the cheaper source. For example, when preparation time of pinto beans is taken into account, the canned variety costs $1 less per serving than dried beans, because of the time it takes to soak and cook the beans before serving.
Dr. Cathy Kapica and Wendy Weiss, "Obtaining Key Nutrients from Canned Foods Can Save Consumers Money Compared to Fresh, Frozen, Dried Varieties", News release, presentation at Experimental Biology 2012,, April 22, 2012, © Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
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Eating Soy Protein Helps Eases Stress On Fatty Livers

April 22, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
Obesity is a key factor in fatty liver disease, which affects a third of Americans and can lead to liver failure. In obese patients, the transport of fat to adipose (fatty) tissue can slow down to the point that the liver becomes a dumping ground for excess fat. Now researchers at the University of Illinois have found that soy protein cuts fat accumulation in the liver of obese patients by restoring the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway, a crucial player in fat metabolism. The researchers suggested that eating soy protein, from sources such as tofu and yogurt, alleviates some of the stress on fatty livers.
Hong Chen, "Soy Protein Alleviates Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease, Study Suggests", News release, presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, April 22, 2012, © American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
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Consumption Of Sugary And Low-Cal Sodas Ups Risk Of Stroke

April 20, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A U.S. study of soda and coffee consumption among more than 127,000 men and women found that regular intake of sugar-sweetened and low-calorie sodas is linked to a higher risk of stroke. The researchers also found that drinking decaf or regular coffee was associated with a lower risk of stroke. The sugar load of sugar-sweetened sodas may lead to rapid increases in blood glucose and insulin that over time may cause glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, and inflammation, all of which influence atherosclerosis, plaque stability and thrombosis – risk factors of ischemic stroke. Antioxidant compounds in coffee, however, reduce stroke risk. One serving of decaffeinated coffee was associated with a 10 percent lower risk of stroke.
A. M. Bernstein et al., "Soda consumption and the risk of stroke in men and women", American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 20, 2012, © American Society for Nutrition
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Researchers Find That Consuming Omega-3s Repairs Smoke-Induced Arterial Injury

April 20, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A study by Greek researchers reports that four weeks of oral intake of omega-3 fatty acids – 2,000 mg a day – improves arterial stiffness in smokers and improves the acute smoke-induced inelasticity of the cardiovascular system. The researchers said the cardio-protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids are grounded in anti-inflammatory and anti-atherosclerotic mechanisms. They recommended that smokers who have quit using tobacco products should eat oily fish rich in omega-3s at least twice a week to help repair their cardiovascular system.
Gerasimos Siasos, "Omega 3 Fatty Acids May Help to Reduce the Physical Harm Caused by Smoking", News release, presentation at the World Congress of Cardiology, April 20, 2012, © World Heart Federation
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Large Daily Dose Of Vitamin C Reduces Blood Pressure, But Not As Much As Medications

April 18, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. researchers who analyzed data from 29 published clinical studies find that taking an average of 500 mg of vitamin C every day reduces blood pressure by 3.84 mm of mercury in the short term. That amount of vitamin C – five times the recommended daily dosage and equivalent to six cups of orange juice  – reduces the blood pressure of people diagnosed with hypertension by 5 mm of mercury. By contrast, patients who take blood pressure medication such as ACE inhibitors or diuretics can expect a 10 mm of mercury drop in blood pressure.
S. P. Juraschek et al., "Effects of vitamin C supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials", American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 18, 2012, © American Society for Nutrition
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