Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Good news! Being a foodie could make you slimmer

Foodies, you might think, would tend to be fatter than fussy eaters. Rather than eating to live, foodies live to eat, forever seeking out new and exciting morsels to feast upon, and enjoy nothing more than scaring timid eaters with their tales of culinary derring do. Wolfing down fermented badgers' sweetbreads perhaps, or sauteed fish eyes. But according to the results of a new study by Cornell University, published the in journal Obesity, intrepid eaters have reason to feel smug about both their worldly tastes and their waistlines.

Among 502 American women, those who had tried foods such as kimchi, polenta and beef tongue were grouped as food neophiles (they had to tick at least nine on a list of unusual foods to quality). These women turned out to have lower BMIs than less adventurous eaters. This is significant in the obesity research field because, so far, increased food variety has been associated with weight gain.

The Cornell team also discovered that foodies are more likely to have friends over for dinner, be more physically active and interested in being healthy and exploring their culinary heritage, and are less concerned by how expensive a food is (more on which, later).

Conservative eaters, meanwhile, are more influenced by celebrity endorsement of foods, nice packaging, cost and ease of preparation. This knowledge, the Cornell team suggests, can be used to encourage people to be more healthily adventurous.

So far, so good. I can't help but feel, though, that the personality trait of food neophilia might not be necessarily what's driving BMIs down. It could be money. Surely anyone with an economic advantage will be more likely to be neophilic by the study's criteria? (I think it'd be pretty hard to find many comfortably-off folks who haven't tried nine of the foods on the list). If you're better educated about health and culture, well travelled, can afford exotic foods and experimental restaurants, then you'll be a neophile for this study's purposes. It's well established that obesity falls as income rises, although interestingly, this trend is more marked among women and children than it is among men.

That said, there are picky eaters and true omnivores in every social group. I, for example, hate offal, milk and smelly cheese. I live to eat, and I'm a food neophile according to this study, but I'm pretty fussy for a former food editor. However, there are ways, other than packaging and celebrities, to get over food hatreds.

First, know that very few food aversions are innate. A loathing of coriander is a rare example of a genetic aversion, but most are purely psychological, and can easily be undone by conditioning yourself with repeated exposure to the food. The veteran American food writer Jeffrey Steingarten did this when he was given his first food column, to rid himself of his shameful hatred of Greek food, anchovies and kimchi.

One of the many possible scientific explanations for this is that, if you eat something that your body can easily digest and extract nutrients from, your brain will make it will taste better next time. If you haven't the nerve to eat something your perceive as gross, trying new foods on holiday - when you're happy, relaxed and open-minded - rose tints the taste buds no end. Bring on the sauteed fish eyes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Maple syrup can help cut down antibiotics use

According to the findings of the researchers at McGill University, combining the concentrated extract of maple syrup with common antibiotics could increase the microbe's susceptibility, leading to lower antibiotic usage. Overuse of antibiotics fuels the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria, which has become a major public-health concern worldwide.

Prof. Nathalie Tufenkji's research team prepared a concentrated extract of maple syrup that consists mainly of phenolic compounds. Maple syrup, made by concentrating the sap from North American maple trees, is a rich source of phenolic compounds. The researchers tested the extract's effect in the laboratory on infection-causing strains of certain bacteria, including E. coli and Proteus mirabilis (a common cause of urinary tract infection). The syrup extract was particularly effective when applied in combination with antibiotics. The extract also acted synergistically with antibiotics in destroying resistant communities of bacteria known as biofilms, which are common in difficult-to-treat infections, such as catheter-associated urinary tract infections.

Tufenkji said that the findings suggest a potentially simple and effective approach for reducing antibiotic usage. The scientists also found that the extract affects the gene expression of the bacteria, by repressing a number of genes linked with antibiotic resistance and virulence.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Climate change may contribute to rising rates of chronic kidney disease

Climate change may be accelerating rates of chronic kidney disease caused by dehydration and heat stress, according to research appearing in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN). The findings suggest that a condition called heat stress nephropathy may represent a disease of neglected populations, but one that may emerge as a major cause of poor kidney health in the near future.

Over the next century, climate change and resulting water shortages are likely to affect a wide variety of health issues related to dehydration and heat stress -- with risks increasing for cognitive dysfunction, malnutrition, water-borne infectious diseases, chronic kidney disease, and other conditions.

A team led by Richard Johnson, MD, Jay Lemery, MD (University of Colorado School of Medicine), and Jason Glaser (La Isla Foundation) sought to describe reports of heat stress nephropathy -- or chronic kidney disease consistent with heat stress -- that are already occurring throughout the world.

The investigators found that chronic kidney disease that is not associated with traditional risk factors appears to be increasing in rural hot communities as worldwide temperature progressively rises. They believe the risk for heat stress nephropathy has increased due to global warming and an increase in extreme heat waves, and it is having a disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations, such as agricultural workers. Decreasing precipitation exacerbates this epidemic by reducing the water supply and water quality as temperatures climbs.

The researchers recommend that governments and scientists work together to conduct epidemiological and clinical studies to document the presence of these epidemics and their magnitude. Interventions are also needed to improve worksite conditions and ensure adequate hydration.

"We were able to connect increased rates of chronic kidney disease in different areas to an underlying mechanism -- heat stress and dehydration -- and to climate," said Dr. Johnson. "A new type of kidney disease, occurring throughout the world in hot areas, is linked with temperature and climate and may be one of the first epidemics due to global warming."

Monday, May 9, 2016

Drinking cherry juice can significantly reduce high blood pressure

Drinking cherry juice can significantly reduce high blood pressure, particularly in males with early hypertension, to a level comparable to that achieved by medication, new research has found. High blood pressure if left untreated, increases risk of heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, stroke or dementia. The findings showed that men who drank tart Montmorency cherry juice -- a variety of sour cherry -- saw a peak reduction in their blood pressure of seven millimetre of mercury (mmHg) in the three hours after consuming the drink.

This reduction is comparable to the level achieved by anti-hypertensive drugs, the researchers said. When phenolic acids, protocatechuic and vanillic -- compounds present within the cherry concentrate -- reached their peak levels in the plasma, systolic blood pressure showed greatest improvement.

"The magnitude of the blood pressure lowering effects we observed was comparable to those achieved by a single anti-hypertensive drug and highlights the potential importance that Montmorency cherries could have in the effective management of high blood pressure," said lead author Karen Keane, lecturer at Northumbria University in Britain.

Raised blood pressure is the leading cause of deaths from heart diseases, yet relatively small reductions in blood pressure can have a large impact on mortality rates, Keane added in the paper published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The team worked with fifteen participants who were displaying early hypertension with blood pressure readings of at least 130/90 mmHg, meaning they were at higher risk of experiencing heart related problems.

They were given either 60ml of a Montmorency cherry concentrate or the same amount of a commercially available fruit-flavoured cordial. Blood pressure and blood samples were taken before the cherry concentrate was consumed and blood pressure was measured on an hourly basis thereafter.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Ways You Can Learn Faster

When you're young, learning is easy. You're open to new ideas, and get excited about challenging yourself. You also have more time, and everyone around you is encouraging you to take on new skills. But something happens as people start getting older. For some reason, you begin to believe you know most things. Many think that the subjects they studied in school are what they must limit themselves to. In reality, you should never stop learning.

The brain is like any other muscle; you must work it out for it to get strong. The problem we all see occurring with most people trying to learn is that they give up too fast. Lack of efficiency leads to a lack of results, which leads to demotivation. But it doesn't have to be this way; you can learn how to learn better. There are a variety of ways to do this, and we will go through three of the easiest, which you can apply right away. Start learning smarter, and you'll achieve much more.
1. Understand that your mind is inherently lazy.
Our bodies and minds do not like working. Until it becomes a habit, most of us do not love going to the gym. We'd rather be sitting on the couch eating Oreos. Your brain is no different. It doesn't like being forced to think through problems and learn new skills at first. But once you've learn the fundamentals, the brain doesn't need to do as much work, so it becomes easier.
Lets go back to the gym example. The first time you lifted weights, you probably were exhausted and somewhat awkward. But after going enough times, you most likely noticed a change. You had to think less, your body showed results, and all a sudden going to the gym became fun. The same lesson applies to your brain. So when you're learning a new skill and it's hard at first, don't let that discourage you. It's supposed to be hard. Keep fighting through, and eventually you'll start to love it.
2. Switch back and forth less often.
Switching back and forth between tasks causes your brain to do a lot of work. You have to come back, refocus, and get in the correct mindset. Psychologists have discovered that people's pupils dilate when they are pushing their mind to learn. This is evidence of the concentration required to take on new skills. To learn effectively, it requires someone's complete attention. Any kind of distraction ruins your mind's ability to absorb information.
Because of this, cut out all the distractions you can when you're learning. A great way to do this is through time blocks, where you don't do anything but one task for a period of time. Put the phone away, turn off the TV, and go into a room by yourself. Once you have your mind in learning mode, you want to switch out of it as few times as possible. Every time you make your brain refocus, you drain its energy.
3. Lie to yourself about the skill.
When your mind tries to not get into learning mode, you'll feel it. You'll feel tired, and start thinking of excuses to not do the task. Pushing it off until tomorrow starts becoming an option, and it seems like it's impossible to concentrate.

In these cases, you've got to lie to yourself to focus. One of the easiest ways to do this is to force yourself to smile as you learn the material. Stick a pencil between your teeth and make yourself grin. Study after study has shown that faking a smile can affect our emotions in a positive way. Trick yourself until what you've learned becomes fun. Learning new skills isn't easy, but it's one of the things that make life so enjoyable.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Even pollution can't make walking, cycling bad for you

Seems like there is no more excuse left for not working out. A new study has found that the health benefits of cycling and walking outweigh the air pollution risk.

The study from the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) and Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge strengthens the case for supporting cycling even in polluted cities, an effort that in turn can help reduce vehicle emissions.

Researchers used computer simulations to compare the risks and benefits for different levels of intensity and duration of active travel and of air pollution in different locations around the world, using information from international epidemiological studies and meta-analyses.

Using this data, the researchers calculated that in practical terms, air pollution risks will not negate the health benefits of active travel in the vast majority of urban areas worldwide. Only 1 percent of cities in the World Health Organization's Ambient Air Pollution Database had pollution levels high enough that the risks of air pollution could start to overcome the benefits of physical activity after half an hour of cycling every day.

Dr Marko Tainio, who led the study, said that the model indicates that in London health benefits of active travel always outweigh the risk from pollution. Even in Delhi, one of the most polluted cities in the world, with pollution levels ten times those in London, people would need to cycle over five hours per week before the pollution risks outweigh the health benefits.

The authors caution that their model does not take into account detailed information on conditions within different localities in individual cities, the impact of short-term episodes of increased air pollution, or information on the background physical activity or disease history of individuals. For individuals who are highly active in non-transport settings, for example recreational sports, the marginal health benefits from active travel will be smaller, and vice versa for those who are less active than average in other settings.

Six foods that can wake you up without a cup of coffee!

Despite a full night sleep, there are days when you feel sleepy and can't stop the yawn attack. It is in times like these that most of us turn to coffee to break the sleepy spell. Sure it will energize you for a while but we all know there can be healthy alternatives to coffee, what with the excess sugar and caffeine. Here are foods that can shake you up without a cup of coffee:

Chia seeds

Chia seeds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known as brain boosters. It wards off weariness and makes you feel more alert. If we stop describing its goodness here, it will be unfair. Chia seeds absorb 10 times their weight in water, speeding digestion while ensuring you are hydrated and energized. Add it to your smoothie, shakes or yoghurt and you are good to go!

Chilled water

Yes, you read it right. Water can awaken your senses. It is key to keep the cells in our body hydrated and active. "A lot of people start their day dehydrated. They don't drink water till about noon and that is when they feel extremely thirsty. This dry spell can cost you a lot. I recommend everyone to start their day with water. You could squeeze a lemon or have other healthy flavoured waters," suggests nutritionist Karishma Chawla. In fact if you feel sluggish during the day, a trip to your workplace water cooler will do the trick.


Oatmeal is a powerhouse and the perfect way to start your day. It is low on glycemic index and burns slowly since it is complex carbs, keeping you charged for a longer period of time. It kickstarts your metabolism and keeps you active all day long.

Leafy vegetables

Greens such as spinach, lettuce and the rich kale can rescue you from feeling lethargic. These greens are rich in Vitamin B, which help your body convert food into energy. Have it in the form of a salad or a smoothie, it will wake you up from slumber.


Have it boiled, scrambled or poached; eggs are amongst the top healthy breakfast choices. And do not miss the yolk. It is rich in protein and keeps your body charged longer. Try adding vegetables to your egg for a wholesome breakfast.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Even diet sodas can bloat your waistline

If you drink diet soda thinking it will help you shed unwanted belly fat, nothing could be further from the truth, says a new study. For the study, researchers gathered data on health status and lifestyles of 749 men and women aged 65 and older, and then tracked the health outcomes in 466 survivors for more than nine years. 

The number of sodas they consumed — and whether they were diet or regular — was recorded at the beginning of the study and at each of three follow-up visits. “Among participants, who reported that they did not consume any diet sodas, waist circumference increased less than one inch on average over the total follow-up period,” said lead author Sharon Fowler from University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Among participants who reported occasional use — drinking less than one diet soda a day — waist circumference increased almost two inches. And among those who consumed diet sodas every day, or more often than once a day, waist circumference increased over three inches.

These findings raise a red flag for seniors because fat around the waist — the proverbial tire around the middle —  has been linked with increased inflammation and risk of metabolic disease, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer and mortality. When waistlines expand in older age, visceral fat increases disproportionately, and risk rises, the researchers noted.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Combined dietary supplement may reduce chances of heart disease

A team of researchers, including an Indian-origin scientist, has found that combining marine fish oil, cocoa extract and phytosterols into a dietary supplement is likely to help fight heart disease, a new study suggests. The researchers examined the potential of combining the three ingredients as a means of preventing atherosclerosis or 'furring' of the arteries.

"A variety of active food ingredients have been shown to impart beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease although little is known regarding their actions when taken in combination," said one of the researchers Dipak Ramji from Cardiff University in Britain.

The findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, showed that in cell-based models, combining the three ingredients could, potentially, help halt the key processes associated with the progression of atherosclerosis.

Using a series of cell-based experimental models, the team examined what happens when omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in marine fish oil), flavanols (found in cocoa) and phytosterols are combined.

"The challenge now is to take our findings and examine whether they translate into humans," researchers suggested.

Atherosclerosis is the major cause of heart disease, killing approximately one individual every 34 seconds and responsible for around a third of all deaths worldwide.

Current therapies against atherosclerosis are not fully effective and there have been numerous recent disappointments on promising agents that have been identified through various drug discovery programs.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Powerful Beliefs That Will Lead You to Success

We all have that inner voice--that tells you you're not going to make it. That you're not good enough. You're undeserving.  It's too late. You can't win. You fail at everything. If you listen to it, that voice will dictate the beliefs you hold about yourself. With these powerful beliefs, you can change that voice, change your thoughts, change your life. Record them in your mind and heart so there's no room for negativity and doubt, and then aim for the stars.

1. It's better to fail than to play it too safe. Failure is not a grievous end but a stepping stone to success. That doesn't make it easy or fun, but there are benefits to be gained. Life lessons tend to be repeated until you learn them, and pain is one way the universe gets your attention. Sometimes things fall apart so better things can fall together.

2. There is always an opportunity. The first step in any successful venture is recognizing the opportunity. Opportunities are in front of you every day, but to see them, you need to look at the world as a place of hope and possibility, not of limits, obstacles, and problems.

3. The only thing you can truly control is yourself. Trying to control every situation in life is a long losing battle with constant frustration and anger. The more you concentrate on what you can control--your own preparation and responses--the better you can adapt to whatever situation you find yourself in.

4. Hard work and perseverance are always rewarded. Maybe not immediately, and not in the way you think. But no matter what happens with your current endeavors, you're getting closer to your goal. Every time you push yourself, every time you make yourself keep trying, you're building the muscles that will carry you over the finish line.

5. Success is a destination, and it's rarely a straight one. We can be thankful that our paths aren't straight. Straight ahead is as boring and unchallenging as a superhighway, so embrace the chance to spend some time on the back roads. Often the best things in life are the ones we discover on the detours.

6. History will always be our best teacher. Don't allow yourself to be locked in the past. But that doesn't mean throwing it out entirely. Learn from your past (and history in general).  Interpret it and frame it in a way that serves your future goals.

7. Everything is going to be all right--maybe not today, but eventually. As the proverb says, everything will be OK in the end--if it's not OK, it's not the end. Take the long view. Remember, you don't navigate by looking at your feet but at the horizon.

We all have things we're proud of, things we wish we could take back, things we want, things we'd like to do better. A successful, happy life has a lot of components, and it looks different for everyone. But a mindset of positive is one thing that virtually all of them have in common, and it's something you can start creating today.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Fatty liver may increase heart disease, mortality

A patient suffering from fatty liver disease is prone to an increased risk of heart disease as well as the mortality rates associated with it, a new study has found. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an increasingly common condition in patients with obesity, type 2 diabetes and arterial hypertension -- where high blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated.

The findings showed that NAFLD is an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis -- the build-up of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on the artery walls -- which may lead to the advent of cardiovascular disease (CVD) -- heart diseases -- related deaths.

"Evidence indicates that the fatty and inflamed liver expresses several pro-inflammatory and procoagulant factors, as well as genes involved in accelerated atherogenesis," said led researcher Raluca Pais from Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, France.

"This raises the possibility that the link between NAFLD and cardiovascular mortality might not simply be mediated by shared, underlying, common risk factors, but rather that NAFLD independently contributes to increasing this risk," added one of the researchers Vlad Ratziu, professor.
In patients with metabolic syndrome health problems like diabetes and stroke at risk for heart disease events, NAFLD contributes to early atherosclerosis and its progression, independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors.

"This indicates that NAFLD is a precursor of metabolic syndrome. It follows that the diagnosis of fatty liver is extremely important and therefore a thorough cardiovascular and metabolic work-up and strict monitoring of CVD or metabolic complications are needed in the clinical management of NAFLD," Pais noted in the paper published in Journal of Hepatology.

The team undertook a large retrospective study of close to 6,000 patients between 1995 and 2012 to assess whether NAFLD is incidental to or is the cause of atherosclerosis of the carotid arteries.

Using the Fatty Liver Index (FLI) a well-validated biomarker, researchers observed that fatty liver is associated with thickness in the major blood vessels in the neck -- a pre-atherosclerotic problem that predicts heart disease events.

Thickness in the blood vessels increases proportionally with FLI, and this association is independent of traditional cardiometabolic risk factors -- like diabetes, heart disease or stroke.

Futher, patients with fatty liver were more likely to develop in the plaques resulting in thickness in the blood vessels over time.

Fatty liver disease at baseline predicted the occurrence of carotid plaques independent of age, sex, type 2 diabetes, tobacco use, and other heart disease risk factors.

Strict monitoring of cardiovascular disease recommended when managing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, the researchers suggested.
Attachments area

Monday, May 2, 2016

Black raspberry can help keep your heart safe

If metabolic syndrome runs in your family, then you may want to swap that typical dessert with a bowl of fresh black raspberries as a recent study suggests so.

The study showed that black raspberry extract can significantly lower a key measure of arterial stiffness-an indicator of cardiovascular disease. Black raspberry intake was also associated with increased levels of circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), which help repair and regenerate damaged arteries.

Han Saem Jeong, Sohyeon Kim, and coauthors from Korea University Anam Hospital (Seoul) and Gochang Black Raspberry Research Institute (Korea), described the results of a randomized controlled trial in which they compared two groups of patients with metabolic syndrome. One group received 750 mg/day of black raspberry extract, and the other received a placebo for 12 weeks.

In the article, the researchers presented the changes recorded in the radial augmentation index (a measure of arterial stiffness), blood pressure, circulating EPCs, and various markers of inflammation for the two groups of patients.

The study is published in Journal of Medicinal Food.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Eat dark chocolate to curb diabetes, heart disease risk

Fancy eating chocolates every day? You may soon have the recommendation of doctors to indulge a little as researchers have found that a dark chocolate bar daily could reduces the risk of developing diabetes and heart diseases. For the study, the researchers analysed data of 1,153 people aged 18-69 years old who were part of the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk in Luxembourg study.

It was found that those who ate 100 g of chocolate a day -- equivalent to a bar -- had reduced insulin resistance and improved liver enzymes. Insulin sensitivity is a well-established risk factor to cardiovascular disease.

The findings were published in the British Journal of Nutrition. The analysis took into account lifestyle and dietary factors, including the simultaneous consumption of tea and coffee. This is because both drinks can be high in polyphenol, the substance which may provide chocolate with its beneficial cardiometabolic effects.

"Given the growing body of evidence, including our own study, cocoa-based products may represent an additional dietary recommendation to improve cardio-metabolic health; however, observational results need to be supported by robust trial evidence," said Saverio Stranges, visiting academic at the University of Warwick Medical School in England.

"Potential applications of this knowledge include recommendations by healthcare professionals to encourage individuals to consume a wide range of phytochemical-rich foods, which can include dark chocolate in moderate amounts," Stranges said.

However, it is important to differentiate between the natural product cocoa and the processed product chocolate, which is an energy-dense food. Therefore, physical activity, diet and other lifestyle factors must be carefully balanced to avoid detrimental weight gain over time, the researchers warned.