Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chamomile Tea Fights the Effects of Diabetes

Posted y Neill Abayon

Drinking chamomile tea daily with meals may help prevent the complications of diabetes. These complications can include loss of vision, nerve damage, and kidney damage.

Chamomile, also known as manzanilla, has been used for years as a medicinal cure-all to treat a variety of medical problems including stress, colds, and menstrual cramps. Scientists recently proposed that the herbal tea might also be beneficial for fighting diabetes.

Researchers fed chamomile extract to a group of diabetic rats for 21 days and compared the results to a group of animals on a normal diet. The chamomile-supplemented animals showed a significant decrease in blood glucose levels compared with the controls. Chamomile extract was also found to inhibit ALR2 enzymes and sorbitol, which are associated with increased diabetic complications.

Honey Bees are Not Healthy

Posted by Neill Abayon

In the summer of 2008, the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) reported that about 33 percent of English honey bee hives did not survive the previous winter. The UK Honey Association warns that English honey will run out by Christmas. No more will be available until the summer of 2009.

The United States faces the same crisis. No specific cause of Colony Collapse Disorder, the mysterious bee illness, has yet been found. But perhaps the most insidious killer of all could be nicotine-based pesticides that interfere with honey bee memories. If their memories are damaged, they may not be able to find their way back to the hive.

In 2003, the U.S. EPA approved a new nicotine-based pesticide called Clothianidin developed by Takeda Chemical Industries and Bayer, a German chemical and pharmaceutical company. It suspected by many of being a primary cause of the bee die-offs.

Read the full article here.

Lung Disease? Eat Your Vegetables

Posted by Neill Abayon

Eating broccoli could help patients with chronic lung disease.

A decrease in lung concentrations of NRF2-dependent antioxidants, a key components of the lung's defense system against inflammatory injury, is linked to the severity of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in smokers. Broccoli is known to contain a compound that prevents the degradation of these antioxidants.

COPD is the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S. It affects more than 16 million Americans.

Monday, September 29, 2008

More Drugs in Your Drinking Water

Posted by Neill Abayon

Testing has revealed that more Americans than previously thought are affected by trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in drinking water supplies. At least 46 million have been exposed -- that's up from the 41 million people reported by an investigation in March.

That investigation prompted federal and local legislative hearings, brought about calls for mandatory testing and disclosure, and led officials in at least 27 additional metropolitan areas to analyze their drinking water. Positive tests have been reported in areas including Reno, NV, Savannah, GA, Colorado Springs, CO, and Huntsville, AL.

The overwhelming majority of U.S. cities have not tested their drinking water.

Is Tea Healthier Than Water?

Posted by Neill Abayon

Drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking plenty of water and may even have extra health benefits, say researchers.

The work in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition dispels the common belief that tea dehydrates.

Tea not only rehydrates as well as water does, but it can also protect against heart disease and some cancers, UK nutritionists found.

Experts believe flavonoids are the key ingredient in tea that promote health.

Healthy cuppa

These polyphenol antioxidants are found in many foods and plants, including tea leaves, and have been shown to help prevent cell damage.

Public health nutritionist Dr Carrie Ruxton, and colleagues at Kings College London, looked at published studies on the health effects of tea consumption.

They found clear evidence that drinking three to four cups of tea a day can cut the chances of having a heart attack.

Some studies suggested tea consumption protected against cancer, although this effect was less clear-cut.

Other health benefits seen included protection against tooth plaque and potentially tooth decay, plus bone strengthening.

Dr Ruxton said: "Drinking tea is actually better for you than drinking water. Water is essentially replacing fluid. Tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants so it's got two things going for it."


She said it was an urban myth that tea is dehydrating.

"Studies on caffeine have found very high doses dehydrate and everyone assumes that caffeine-containing beverages dehydrate. But even if you had a really, really strong cup of tea or coffee, which is quite hard to make, you would still have a net gain of fluid.

"Also, a cup of tea contains fluoride, which is good for the teeth," she added.

There was no evidence that tea consumption was harmful to health. However, research suggests that tea can impair the body's ability to absorb iron from food, meaning people at risk of anaemia should avoid drinking tea around mealtimes.

Read the full article here.

Six Food Mistakes Parents Make

Posted by Neill Abayon

Here’s a look at six common mistakes parents make when feeding their children.

Sending Children Out of the Kitchen

It is understandable that parents don’t want children close to hot stoves, boiling water and sharp knives. But studies suggest that involving children in meal preparation is an important first step in getting them to try new foods.

Pressuring Them to Take a Bite

Demanding that a child eat at least one bite of everything seems reasonable, but it’s likely to backfire. Studies show that children react negatively when parents pressure them to eat foods, even if the pressure offers a reward.

Keeping “Good Stuff” Out of Reach

Parents worry that children will binge on treats, so they often put them out of sight or on a high shelf. But a large body of research shows that if a parent restricts a food, children just want it more.

Dieting in Front of Your Children

Kids are tuned into their parents’ eating preferences and are far more likely to try foods if they see their mother or father eating them. Parents who are trying to lose weight should be aware of how their dieting habits can influence a child’s perceptions about food and healthful eating.

Serving Boring Vegetables

Calorie-counting parents often serve plain steamed vegetables, so it’s no wonder children are reluctant to eat them. Nutritionists say parents shouldn’t be afraid to dress up the vegetables.

Giving Up Too Soon

Eating preferences often change. Parents should keep preparing a variety of healthful foods and putting them on the table, even if a child refuses to take a bite. In young children, it may take 10 or more attempts over several months to introduce a food.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Does Thinking Make You Fatter?

Posted by Neill Abayon

A research team has demonstrated that intellectual work induces a substantial increase in calorie intake. This discovery could help to explain, in part, the current obesity epidemic.

The team measured the spontaneous food intake of 14 students after each of three tasks: relaxing in a sitting position, reading and summarizing a text, and completing a series of memory, attention, and vigilance tests on the computer.

Each session of intellectual work required only three calories more than the rest period. However, despite the low energy cost of mental work, the students spontaneously consumed 203 more calories after summarizing a text and 253 more calories after the computer tests.

Blood samples taken before, during, and after each session revealed that intellectual work caused bigger fluctuations in glucose and insulin levels than rest periods.

Air Pollution Can Hinder Your Heart's Electrical Function

Posted by Neill Abayon

Microscopic particles in polluted air can adversely affect your heart’s ability to conduct electrical signals in people with serious coronary artery disease.

A recent study of 48 Boston-area patients, all of whom had coronary artery disease, used 24-hour Holter monitors to examine electrocardiograms. An elevation in fine particles, from non-traffic as well as traffic sources, and black carbon, a marker for traffic, resulted in a conductivity change called an ST-segment depression, which can indicate inadequate blood flow to the heart or inflamed heart muscle.

The effects were greatest within the first month after hospitalization, and for patients who were hospitalized for a heart attack or had diabetes.

Previous studies have documented that exposure to road traffic can trigger heart attacks, and that particulate air pollution increases the risk for cardiac death.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

21 Easy Ways to Simplify Your Life

Posted by Neill Abayon

When you’re trying to simplify your life, sometimes life gets in the way. When that happens, you need a workaround, some way to get past your usual obstacles and to trick yourself into keeping things simple.

Don’t try to implement all of them -- that would be far from simple. And not all of them will apply to your life anyway. Pick one or two and try them out.

Three-box decluttering. If you’re trying to declutter a room, drawer, shelf, desk, use three boxes to quickly sort everything. Just quickly go through each shelf or drawer or flat surface at once, putting things into three separate boxes: Trash, Donate, Maybe.

Create a no-distractions zone. This is great for when you want to do some focused work. Create a zone with no phones, no email, no co-workers or kids or spouses, nothing on the walls, no IM or Twitter, no web surfing. Just the tools you need to do your work and nothing else.

Create a short-list. If you’re having a hard time getting your life to something truly simple, create a short list of things you love doing most, perhaps 4 or 5 things. Then, try to eliminate everything in your life that’s not on the short list, to make room for the things you love.

Deflect all requests for a week. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, make the decision that you will not say “yes” to any new requests this week. If you get a new request, politely decline.

Go schedule-less. This works well if you’ve been over-packing your schedule. Set a policy that you won’t schedule any appointments. At the beginning of the day, pick a few things to focus on and try to get them done. If you need to meet with someone, call them and meet.

Single-task. This is good for those who tend to be all over the place. Don’t allow yourself to switch between tasks. When you’re working on a report or writing an article, don’t do anything else.

Start your day with peace. When you first rise, do something that is calming and peaceful. That might be running or walking, having a quiet cup of coffee with a book, watching the sunrise, meditating or yoga -- whatever works well for you.

Eat only 7 things. If you’re trying to be healthful, but are having a hard time navigating complicated diets, limit yourself to non-packaged foods. Eat only seven things: fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, lean calcium, beans, nuts, and good fats.

Go paperless. If you can do it, you can save time filing, save time searching for stuff, save space, simplify your office, and save a few trees to boot. Insist that everything be sent via email or through online documents, then create a filing system that works for you.

Go media free. If your life is filled with information overload, and you find little time to do the things you love to do, consider eliminating media from your life, at least temporarily. This includes cable TV, DVDs, newspapers and magazines, and Internet news.

Limit yourself to 3 tasks. If your to-do list is long and overwhelming, pick three tasks you want to do today. Focus on getting these three tasks done before anything else.

Limit yourself to one project. Focus on one project right now, and put the others on the back-burner. Try to get that one project done as quickly as possible, and then work on the next one.

5-sentence emails. This works well if you spend too much time writing emails. It limits the amount of time you use doing email, and forces you to decide what’s important in each one.

30-day rule. If you want to buy something, you have to write it on your 30-day list, with the date that it was added to the list. After 30 days, if you still want it, you can buy it.

Only wear a few colors. Simplify your wardrobe. It makes it easy to match your clothes, and you won’t need as many.

One in, two out. When you bring something into your house, you have to get rid of two things.

Work four days a week. If you have the luxury, limit yourself to four days a week, 8 hours or less. But how can you work only four days if you currently work 5 and are overloaded as it is? It’s funny, but you can somehow make it work. It’s a well-known law that our work expands to fit the time we give it -- and the flip side of that is if you shrink the time, you will shrink the work to fit the time.

Retire early. Set an early retirement date and force yourself to save up the money you need. Take a mini-retirement if necessary. Then go back to work and save up for your next mini-retirement.

Limit storage space. The less storage you have, the less stuff you’ll save, which will save you the stress of having to go through all that storage to find stuff, organize stuff, maintain stuff, and get rid of old stuff.

Staunch your information flow. Cut back on the amount of information coming into your life. Unsubscribe to mailing lists, unsubscribe to blog feeds that don’t give you value, pick one news source instead of five.

Send only five emails a day. Pick five important emails to respond to, and that’s it. The rest get delayed or deleted. You don’t have to respond to every email -- people will make do.


The Incredible Importance of Omega-3's

Posted by Neill Abayon

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has published three studies investigating the role of EPA and DHA omega-3 fats in elderly populations.

In short, the story the studies tell is this: low concentrations of EPA and DHA result in an increased risk of death from all causes and accelerated cognitive decline. However, short-term intervention with EPA and DHA in the healthy elderly had no effect on mental well-being, suggesting that dietary habits that include a higher intake of omega 3’s may bring certain health benefits that short-term supplementation cannot provide.

All three studies underscore the importance of maintaining a high dietary omega-3 intake throughout your life.

Visit here for more.

Vitamin B12 Keeps Your Brain Young

Posted by Neill Abayon

Older individuals with low levels of vitamin B12 are at increased risk of having brain atrophy or shrinkage. Brain atrophy is associated with Alzheimer's disease and impaired cognitive function.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a public health problem, especially among older people.

In a study involving more than 100 volunteers aged 61 to 87, all participants underwent annual clinical exams, MRI scans and cognitive tests, and had blood samples taken. Individuals with lower vitamin B12 levels at the start of the study had a greater decrease in brain volume. Those with the lowest B12 levels had a sixfold greater rate of brain volume loss compared with those who had the highest levels.

However, none of the participants were actually deficient in vitamin B12 -- they just had low levels within a normal range.

Other risk factors for brain atrophy include high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Could Acupuncture Improve Your Fertility?

Posted by Neill Abayon

When Rebecca Killmeyer experienced a miscarriage during her second pregnancy, she wasn't sure if she would ever have another baby. But then she decided to enter a study testing the impact of acupuncture on women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

"To our great surprise we were blessed with a third pregnancy during the PCOS study," said Killmeyer. "I'm absolutely certain the acupuncture treatments helped me ovulate regularly, which allowed me to become pregnant."

PCOS causes a hormonal imbalance that interferes with ovulation and fertility. Acupuncture could be an important alternative, non-drug therapy for women with this disorder.

Read the full article here.

Obesity Makes Asthma Worse

Posted by Neill Abayon

Obese people with asthma are nearly five times more likely than their non-obese peers to be hospitalized for the ailment.

The findings come from a study of more than 1,000 members of a healthcare organization. Compared with normal weight subjects, obese individuals were 2.7 times more likely to have poor asthma control, and 4.6 times more likely to have a history of asthma-related hospitalization.

The take-home message of this study, said study co-author Dr. Michael Schatz, "is that obese people with asthma need to be followed more carefully because it's harder to control their asthma, so they are more likely to end up in the hospital."


FDA Announces 20 Dangerous Drugs You Should NOT Be On

Posted by Neill Abayon

A 2007 federal law requires the FDA to disclose all its investigations into reports of possibly drug-related adverse events. The first of this series of quarterly reports has been released. It includes adverse events reported between January 1 and March 31, 2008.

Here's the list of drugs and the adverse events that have been reported:

Arginine Hydrochloride Injection (R-Gene 10) -- Pediatric overdose due to labeling and packaging confusion

Desflurane (Suprane) -- Cardiac arrest

Duloxetine (Cymbalta) -- Urinary retention

Etravirine (Intelence) -- Hemarthrosis (blood in a joint)

Fluorouracil Cream (Carac) and Ketoconazole Cream (Kuric) -- Adverse events due to name confusion

Heparin -- Anaphylactic-type (life-threatening allergic) reactions

Icodextrin (Extraneal) -- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

Insulin U-500 (Humulin R) -- Dosing confusion

Ivermectin (Stromectol) and Warfarin -- Drug interaction

Lapatinib (Tykerb) -- Hepatotoxicity (liver toxicity)

Lenalidomide (Revlimid) -- Stevens-Johnson syndrome (a deadly drug reaction)

Natalizumab (Tysabri) -- Skin melanomas (deadly skin cancer)

Nitroglycerin (Nitrostat) -- Overdose due to labeling confusion

Octreotide Acetate Depot (Sandostatin LAR) -- Ileus (bowels not moving)

Oxycodone Hydrochloride Controlled-Release (OxyContin) -- Drug misuse, abuse, and overdose

Perflutren Lipid Microsphere (Definity) -- Cardiopulmonary reactions (lung/heart problems)

Phenytoin Injection (Dilantin) -- Purple glove syndrome (discoloration, pain, and swelling of the hand that may lead to amputation)

Quetiapine (Seroquel) -- Overdose due to sample pack labeling confusion

Tebivudine (Tyzeka) -- Peripheral neuropathy (tingling or numbness in the extremities)

Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) Blockers -- Cancers in children and young adults

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Olive Leaf Extract Lowers Blood Pressure

Posted by Neill Abayon

The leaves of the olive tree have been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times, and research has suggested that olive leaf extracts have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Now it also appears that a supplement containing olive leaf extract could help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

A study looked at 20 sets of identical twins with "borderline" hypertension -- blood pressure that is above the optimal level of 120/80, but below the cutoff of 140/90 used to diagnose high blood pressure. One member of each twin pair was given tablets containing olive leaf extract, while the other received no supplements but did get lifestyle advice on lowering blood pressure.

After eight weeks, supplement users taking 1,000 mg of olive leaf extract per day showed a substantial dip in their blood pressure overall, and lowered levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol. The twins who received no supplements showed no significant change in their blood pressure and a smaller improvement in cholesterol.

Read the full article here.

Arthritis Drugs Cause Fatal Fungal Infections

Posted by Neill Abayon

The U.S. FDA has ordered stronger warnings on four medications widely used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, saying they can raise the risk of possibly fatal fungal infections.

Enbrel, Remicade, Humira and Cimzia work by suppressing the immune system to keep it from attacking the body. For patients with rheumatoid arthritis, the treatment provides relief from swollen and painful joints. But the drugs also lower the body's defenses against various kinds of infections.

The FDA became concerned after discovering that doctors seemed to be overlooking a particular kind of fungal infection called histoplasmosis. The infection is prevalent in much of the middle part of the country, and it can have grave consequences if it isn't caught early and spreads beyond the respiratory system to other organs of the body.

Read more here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Walk Away From Your Memory Problems

Posted by Neill Abayon

A study has found that walking for 2 and a half hours a week can significantly improve memory problems for those over the age of 50. Improvement in memory occurred both over the course of the six month trial, and 6 and 12 months after completion.

The trial placed 170 people who had reported memory problems into two groups. One group continued their usual activities, while the other took part in an 24-week home-based physical activity program.

Participants in the exercise group worked out an average of 20 minutes in a day more than those in the control group. By the end of the study, participants in the exercise group performed better on cognitive tests and had better delayed recall. They also had lower Clinical Dementia Rating Scores.