Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wisdom Wednesday: The Vegan Diet

I tried to include the vegan diet last week under vegetarianism, but there was just too much information. Begin a vegan is more of a lifestyle choice and a philosophy than a diet.

The general interpretation is that a vegan will not consume any foods of animal origin, not even honey, while a vegetarian might consume eggs, or dairy. Another general interpretation is that Veganism is a subdivision of Vegetarianism. However, some people believe that the only true vegetarian is a vegan.

Virtually all vegan societies also add that a vegan does not use products that come from animals, such as leather, wool, down, cosmetics, or products which have been tested on animals.

The three main reasons people adopt veganism:
  • Animal Rights – Vegans do not consume or use dairy products or eggs even though doing so would not kill the animal. Part of the reason is a belief in the absolute right of animals to exist freely without human interference. Also, many commercially-raised egg-laying chickens and dairy cows are slaughtered when their productivity declines with age.
  • Environment – Livestock farming can have a devastating effect on the planet. Producing food through animal farming is inefficient, because animal feed production takes up a lot of land, fertilizer, water, and other resources – resources that could be used for feeding humans. More people could be fed on existing land if we all became vegans.
  • Health – Eating animal fats and proteins has been shown in studies to raise a person’s risk of developing cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, and a number of other illnesses. The fat and protein content of cow’s milk is very different from human milk, leading some experts to suggest that we are not designed for consuming cow’s milk.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Migraines May Worsen as Menopause Approaches

“Changes in female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone that occur during perimenopause might trigger increased headaches during this time,” said study co-author Dr. Richard Lipton. He is director of the Montefiore Headache Center and vice chair of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

The new research included more than 3,600 women who suffered migraines before and during menopause. The risk of high-frequency migraines (10 or more a month) rose 60% during the transitional time into menopause marked by irregular menstrual cycles (perimenopause).

The risk of migraine was highest during the later stage of perimenopause, when women have low levels of estrogen, the study found.

“Women have been telling doctors that their migraine headaches worsen around menopause, and now we have proof they were right,” study author Dr. Vincent Martin, co-director of the Headache and Facial Pain Program at the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute, said in a news release.

There is help for women who have migraines and are approaching menopause, said study co-author Dr. Jelena Pavlovic, an attending physician in neurology at the Montefiore Headache Center and an assistant professor in the neurology department at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

“Physicians can prescribe hormonal therapies that level out these changes that occur during the perimenopause and menopause time periods. If the patient is in early perimenopause, you can give birth control pills that level things out. If they are in late perimenopause and they start skipping periods, they can be put on estrogen patches,” Pavlovic said.

But hormones may not always be the culprit. Although the number of migraines rose 76% during menopause, some headaches may be the result of medication overuse, which is common in this age group, according to Martin.

“Women, as they get older, develop lots of aches and pains, joints and back pain, and it is possible their overuse of pain medications for headache and other conditions might actually drive an increase in headaches for the menopause group,” he said.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Anesthesia After 40 Not Linked to Mental Decline Later

Mayo Clinic researchers followed more than 1,700 people in Minnesota, aged 70 to 89, who had normal mental function when the study began in 2004. About 85% of the participants had at least one surgery requiring general anesthesia after age 40. The study participants were evaluated every 15 months.

“The bottom line of our study is that we did not find an association between exposure to anesthesia for surgery and the development of mild cognitive [mental] impairment in these patients,” study senior author and anesthesiologist Dr. David Warner said in a Mayo news release.

Of the participants, 31% developed mild thinking and memory problems during the study period, but it was not associated with their anesthesia exposure, the researchers said.

The findings were published in the February issue of the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

A previous Mayo study found that older patients who receive anesthesia do not have an increased risk of dementia.

The investigators behind the new study are also examining how general anesthesia affects young children and have noted some associations between childhood anesthesia and learning and memory problems later in life.

“That by no means is established yet. Right now it’s just associations, and we and many other people are doing a lot of work to try to see if this really is a problem in children or not,” Warner said in the news release.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wisdom Wednesday: The Vegetarian Diet

The term vegetarian generally means a person who does not consume animal products; this includes land and sea animals. Most vegetarians generally do consume eggs and dairy products (milk products). Somebody who does not consume any animal protein at all, not even eggs, dairy, or honey, is a vegan.

The four main types of vegetarians are:
  • Lacto-vegetarians – they consume dairy products, but no eggs. Most do consume honey.
  • Ovo-vegetarians – they consume eggs, but no dairy. Most do consume honey.
  • Lacto-ovovegetarians – they consume eggs and dairy. Most do consume honey.
  • Vegans – only consume plant-based foods (no dairy, eggs or honey)

Scientists from Italy and Japan reported in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry that vegans and vegetarians have a higher risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency compared to people who consume animal-based products. They showed that the human body is unable to absorb the plant-based form of the vitamin.

The earliest records of vegetarianism come from the 6th century B.C., in India and Greece. It was closely linked to a desire not to harm animals. In India this peace towards animals was called ahimsa and was a common lifestyle among religious people and philosophers.

The conversion to Christianity of the Roman Empire virtually eliminated all traces of vegetarianism from Europe. Many orders of monks in medieval Europe either banned or limited meat consumption as a gesture of personal sacrifice or abstinence – however, non of them shunned fish. It was not until the 19th and 20th centuries that vegetarianism started to get a foothold again in Western society.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Chemical-Free Cosmetics May Be Safer for Teen Girls

Switching to chemical-free cosmetics and shampoos quickly lowers levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals in the bodies of teen girls, a new study reports.

Chemicals widely used in personal care products – including phthalates, parabens, triclosan and oxybenzone – have been shown to interfere with the hormone system in animals, the researchers explained. These chemicals are found in many fragrances, cosmetics, hair products, soaps and sunscreens.

“Because women are the primary consumers of many personal care products, they may be disproportionately exposed to these chemicals,” said study lead author Kim Harley. She is associate director of the Center for Environmental Researcher and Children’s Health at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Teen girls may be at particular risk since it’s a time of rapid reproductive development, and research has suggested that they use more personal care products per day than the average adult woman,” Harley added in a university news release.

The study involved 100 Hispanic teens who used makeup, shampoo and lotions that were labeled free of chemicals for three days.

After this short break from their regular products, levels of the hormone-disrupting chemicals in the girls’ urine fell between 27% and 45%, according to the analysis.

The study was published March 7 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Can Certain ‘Poor Carb’ Diets Raise Nonsmokers’ Lung Cancer Risk?

Even people who’ve never smoked can get lung cancer, and a new study suggests their risk for the disease may rise if they eat a diet rich in certain carbohydrates.

These so-called “high glycemic index” diets – regimens that trigger higher levels of insulin in the blood – tend to be heavy in refined, “poor quality” carbs, one expert explained.

“The glycemic index and glycemic load are methods to estimate the quality and quantity of dietary carbohydrates,” said Dr. Rishi Jain, a medical oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. “Examples of foods with a high glycemic index include white bread and white potatoes.”

Jain explained that as rates of obesity and heart risk factors rise in the United States, so does the number of Americans with “insulin resistance,” a precursor to diabetes. And he said insulin-linked disorders, which are often tied to high-glycemic diets, “have been implicated as potential contributors to a variety of chronic conditions, including certain cancers.”

Could lung cancer be one of those malignancies? Dr. Xifeng Wu, chair of cancer prevention at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, conducted the new study to help answer that question.

Overall, people who registered in the top fifth in terms of a high-glycemic diet had a 49% greater risk of developing lung cancer versus those in the bottom fifth, Wu’s team reported.

But the trend was even stronger when the study focused on people who had never smoked. In that group, those who scored highest in terms of a high-glycemic diet had more than double the odds of lung cancer compared to never-smokers who had the lowest glycemic index scores.

Wu and her colleagues reported their finding March 4 in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wisdom Wednesday: The Zone Diet

For the last few hundreds of thousands of years we have spent most of our time eating two food groups:
  • Lean protein
  • Natural carbohydrates, such as fruits and fiber rich vegetables

Our genes are still those of the hunter-gatherer, rather than the farmer. Farming is a relatively new phenomenon, as far as our genes are concerned. In other words, our genes have not yet adapted to consuming farmed products.

Although our genes are programmed to gather fruit and vegetables and catch the occasional prey, we are consuming huge quantities of very dense, highly processed carbohydrates, such as grains and products made from pasta, bread, corn flakes, bagels, etc. are generally made from highly processed carbohydrates.

When we consume large amounts of processed carbohydrates unpleasant biochemical reactions occur in our bodies.
  • Weight gain
  • Insulin fluctuations
  • Pre-diabetes and diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Poor overall health

The Zone Diet, developed by Dr. Sears takes into account our genetic makeup. Insulin production can be controlled if we eat low-density carbs, dietary fat, and protein in the right proportions. If we can maintain insulin levels within what Dr. Sears calls a “therapeutic zone”, it is easier to burn off excess body fat – and to keep it off permanently. Dr. Sears says it is possible, through the Zone to improve mental focus, enjoy increased energy and vitality.

Keeping you insulin levels within the therapeutic zone means staying in The Zone – hence, the name Zone Diet.

Carbohydrate, protein and fat balance
  • 40% carbohydrate
  • 30% fat
  • 30% protein

Calorie consumption on the Zone
Unlike many other diets, the Zone does not tell you to eat fewer calories. Your calorie intake does not have to go down, but what you are eating has to change. The food you eat should consist of:
  • Each meal must have some protein – about the size of a small chicken breast, or the palm of your hand (4 ounces).
  • Each snack should have some protein in it (two snacks per day).
  • The carbohydrate portion of a meal or snack should be about twice the size of the protein portion. Most of the carbs should be favorable carbohydrates, such as those found in vegetables, lentils, beans, whole grains and the majority of fruits.
  • A small proportion of the carbs may be unfavorable ones, such as those found in brown rice, pasta, dry breakfast cereal, bread, bagels, tortilla, carrots, fruit juices, and some fruits (mango, banana and papaya).
  • A meal or snack should also include some fat – good fat. Such as that fat found in avocado, olive oil, fish oils, and nuts.

The Zone Diet’s basic rules
  • Have a Zone meal or snack no later than one hour after you wake up in the morning.
  • Interval between meals should be between 4 to 6 hours.
  • Have a meal between 2 to 2.5 hours after a snack – regardless of how hungry you are.
  • Before every meal or snack, assess your hunger level. If you are not hungry and your mind is clear, you are in The Zone.
  • Consume eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
  • Start the meal/snack with a low-fat protein. Then add good carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, such as vegetables and fruits, plus good fats, such as olive oil or avocado.
  • Typical meal protein should weight about 4 ounces for men and 3 ounces for women.

The Bottom Line:
This diet should be an easy transition for virtually anyone. It doesn’t prohibit any food, it just limits the refined foods and urges you to make healthier choices. This is a great place for you start to improve your diet.

Monday, March 14, 2016

After Hip Replacement, Therapy at Home May Be Enough

Experts say that physical therapy plays a vital role in recovery after hip replacement. This new study of 77 patients found they obtained similar results no matter which therapy option they pursued after receiving their new hip.

“Our research found that the physical therapy does not necessarily need to be supervised by a physical therapist [for hip replacement patients],” said study author Dr. Matthew Austin, director of joint-replacement services at Rothman Orthopaedic Specialty Hospital in Bensalem, PA. “The expense and time required of outpatient physical therapy, both for the patient and the patient’s caretakers, may not be the most efficient use of resources.”

More than 300,000 total hip replacements are performed each year in the United States, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hip replacement, or arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure in which parts of the hip joint are removed and replaced with new, artificial parts. The surgery is intended to restore function to the joint.

For their study, Austin and his colleagues randomly assigned half of the 77 hip replacement patients to two months of formal outpatient physical therapy, with two to three sessions a week. The others did only prescribed exercises on their own for two months.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Lyme Disease ‘Biofilm’ Eludes Antibiotics

The bacteria that causes Lyme disease protects itself from antibiotics by forming a slime-like layer called a biofilm, a new study shows.

In many cases, Lyme disease returns after a patient has completed antibiotic treatment, and this finding may help explain why that occurs, the researchers said.

University of New Haven researchers determined that Lyme disease-causing Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria produces a biofilm that makes it up to 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics than other bacteria.

They reported their findings recently in the European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology.

The discovery may lead to new ways to treat Lyme disease, said study author Eva Sapi, head of biology and environmental sciences at the university.

“These findings could change the way we think about Lyme disease, especially in patients where it seems to be a persistent disease, despite long-term antibiotic treatment,” she said in a news release from the Connecticut-based university.

“This recent finding could help to better understand how Borrelia can survive treatment and …will provide novel therapeutic targets for chronic Lyme disease, with the hope of eradicating Borrelia in these patients,” Sapi added.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Wisdom Wednesday: The Atkins Diet

The thrust of the Atkins Nutritional Approach is to significantly reduce one’s carbohydrate (carbs) intake. The craze for low carbs comes mainly from the popularity of the Atkins’ books. The Atkins diet is a four-phase eating program, combined with vitamin and mineral supplements, as well as regular exercise.

Dr. Atkins said the main factor that causes us to put on weight is our consumption of refined carbs, especially sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and flour.

The goal of the diet is to force the body into ketosis. In ketosis the metabolism switches from burning glucose as fuel to burning its own stored body fat. When glucose levels are low and our insulin levels are low, ketosis kicks in as the body switches to stored fat as a source of energy.

Phase 1: Induction
Calorie consumption from carbs is limited to 20 grams per day. Carb sources are mainly from salad and low starch vegetables. The urine is monitored with a “keto-stick” for ketosis. The is the most difficult portion of the diet but it lasts only two weeks.

Phase 2: OWL (Ongoing Weight loss)
Nutrient-dense and fiber rich foods are added as additional carb sources, at an increased rate of 25 grams during the first week of this phase, 30 grams during the second week, and 30 grams for each subsequent week until your weight stops going down. At that point – when weight loss stops – you take away 5 grams of carbs from your daily intake until you are starting to lose weight slowly.

Phase 3: Pre-Maintenance
Increase your carb intake by 10 grams each week until your weight loss is very gradual.

Phase 4: Lifetime Maintenance
Start adding a wider range of carb sources, while carefully monitoring your weight does not go up. Your sense of well-being must continue. If your weight starts to go up, ease back on two things – the amount of carbs you consume each day, and any of the new carbs you have been introducing. Dr. Atkins says that “this lifestyle is the foundation for a lifetime of better health”.

Monday, March 7, 2016

High-Impact Exercise Strengthens Men’s Bones

Men who engage in high-impact physical activity and resistance training as teens and young adults are likely to have greater bone density by middle age, according to new research.

Over time, high-impact activities – such as tennis and jogging – help boost bone mass in the hip and lumbar spine, the researchers said. Greater bone mass can help stave off the bone –thinning disease known as osteoporosis.
“While osteoporosis is commonly associated with only postmenopausal women, it is, in fact, a serious issue for men as well,” said study author Pamela Hinton. She is an associate professor in the department of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Human Environmental Sciences.

“Indeed, research has shown that the consequences of osteoporosis can be much worse for men, as they are less likely to be diagnosed and are at a greater mortality risk from fracture that occur as a result of a fall,” Hinton explained in a university news release.

For the study, Hinton’s team analyzed medical data compiled on 203 men aged 30 to 65. The participants had various levels of experience with sports and exercise, and engaged in different types of activities.

The men who engaged in bone-loading or weight-bearing exercise as teenagers had more bone density later in life, the investigators found. High-impact activities, in particular, were important for bone health throughout men’s lives, according to the report published recently in the American Journal of Men’s Health.

“The most important take-away is that if you are healthy, it is never too late to begin high-impact activities or resistance training to improve bone mineral density,” Hinton said.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Cranberry Juice for Urinary Tract Infection?

Contrary to popular belief, cranberry juice does not cure a urinary tract infection, a doctor says.
Many people drink cranberry juice in an attempt to ease their symptoms, but it will do nothing to help them, said Dr. Timothy Boone, vice dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, Houston campus.

“Cranberry juice, especially the juice concentrates you find at the grocery store, will not treat a UTI [urinary tract infection] or bladder infection,” he said in a center news release.

“It can offer more hydration and possible wash bacteria from your body more effectively, but the active ingredient in cranberry is long gone by the time it reaches your bladder,” Boone said.

Each year, more than 3 million Americans have a urinary tract infection – an infection in any part of the urinary system, kidney, bladder or urethra, according to the news release.

The active ingredient in cranberries – A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs) – is effective against UTI causing bacteria, but is found only in cranberry capsules, not in cranberry juice, Boone said.

“It takes an extremely large concentration of cranberry to prevent bacterial adhesion,” Boone said. “This amount of concentration is not found in the juices we drink. There’s a possibility it was stronger back in our grandparents’ day, but definitely not in modern times.”

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Wisdom Wednesday: The Eight Most Popular Diets Today

As of October 15, 2015, Medical News Today listed the following diets based on three criteria: how many articles there are around about these diets/lifestyles, how popular they seem to be generally, and how often they receive feedback on them.

The diet that is obviously missing from this list is the Paleo Diet. Based on feedback I receive from my patients; Paleo is by far the most popular at this time. So in keeping with the title, I will combine the Vegetarian and Vegan diets and add Paleo to the list.

Atkins Diet or Atkins Nutritional Approach, focuses on controlling the levels of insulin in our bodies through diet. If we consume large amounts of refined carbohydrates our insulin levels rise rapidly, and then fall rapidly. Rising insulin levels will trigger our bodies to store as much of the energy we eat as possible – it will also make it less likely that our bodies use stored fat as a source of energy. Most people on the Atkins Diet will consume a higher proportion of proteins than they normally do.

The Zone diet aims for a nutritional balance of 40% carbohydrates, 30% fats, and 30% protein each time we eat. The focus is also on controlling insulin levels, which result in more successful weight loss and body weight control. The Zone diet encourages the consumption of good quality carbohydrates – unrefined carbohydrates, and fats, such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts.