Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Albert Einstein said that if the honey bees were to suddenly disappear from Earth, we would see an apocalypse within 4 years.

  • Coffee is most effective if consumed between 9:30 am and 11:30 am.

 

  • Studies show that bad oral hygiene can lead to dementia, lung infection, and stroke – so brush your teeth.

  • Having a visible tattoo can hurt a job applicant’s chances by 61%.

Happy Friday!
source: @UberFacts


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10 Reasons to Eat More Carrots

Carrots are more than a tasty addition to almost any dish. They are also good for your body’s overall health, especially that of the skin, eyes, digestive system and teeth!
Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati   September 15, 2012
So if the sweet flavor isn’t enough, enjoy these 10 reasons to eat more carrots:
1. Beta carotene: Carrots are a rich source of this powerful antioxidant, which, among other vital uses, can be converted into vitamin A in the body to help maintain healthy skin.
2. Digestion: Carrots increase saliva and supply essential minerals, vitamins and enzymes that aid in digestion. Eating carrots regularly may help prevent gastric ulcers and other digestive disorders.
3. Alkaline elements: Carrots are rich in alkaline elements, which purify and revitalize the blood while balancing the acid/alkaline ratio of the body.
4. Potassium: Carrots are a good source of potassium, which can help maintain healthy sodium levels in the body, thereby helping to reduce elevated blood pressure levels.
5. Dental Health: Carrots kill harmful germs in the mouth and help prevent tooth decay.

6. Wounds: Raw or grated carrots can be used to help heal wounds, cuts and inflammation.


7. Phytonutrients: Among the many beneficial phytochemicals that carrots contain is a phytonutrient called falcarinol, which may reduce the risk of colon cancer and help promote overall colon health.
8. Carotenoids: Carrots are rich in carotenoids, which our bodies can use to help regulate blood sugar.
9.  Fiber: Carrots are high in soluble fiber, which may reduce cholesterol by binding the LDL form (the kind we don’t want) and increasing the HDL form (the kind our body needs) to help reduce blood clots and prevent heart disease.
10. Eyes, hair, nails and more! The nutrients in carrots can improve the health of your eyes, skin, hair, nails and more through helping to detoxify your system and build new cells!
There are plenty more reasons to enjoy these crunchy, sweet root vegetables, so reserve a spot in your garden plot for planting some, or pop down to the local market to pick up a bunch!

source: care2.com


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Coconut oil can combat tooth decay, study suggests

Digested oil inhibits growth of streptococcus bacteria, Irish researchers find
CBC News Posted: Sep 3, 2012 

Researchers at the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland have found that digested coconut oil inhibits the growth of common bacteria that cause tooth decay and could be an effective alternative to chemical additives in dental hygiene products.
The researchers tested the effect of coconut oil on several common strains of streptococcus bacteria found inside the mouth.
They tested the effect of the oil in both its natural and digested form.
To mimic the process of digestion, they treated the oil with enzymes.
They found that in the digested form, the oil inhibited most strains of the bacteria, including streptococcus mutans, a common acid-producing bacteria that is is a major cause of tooth decay.
The coconut oil was also harmful to candida albicans, a yeast that causes a mouth infection called thrush.
The researchers presented their findings Monday at the autumn conference of the Society for General Microbiology, underway at the University of Warwick in England.

Of interest to dental hygiene industry

Damien Brady, who led the research, and his colleagues say their findings could be used to market coconut oil as an antimicrobial in dental care products.
“Incorporating enzyme-modified coconut oil into dental hygiene products would be an attractive alternative to chemical additives, particularly as it works at relatively low concentrations,” Brady, associate director of the Bioscience Research Institute at the Athlone Institute, said in a press release.
“Also, with increasing antibiotic resistance, it is important that we turn our attention to new ways to combat microbial infection.”
Brady said finding effective weapons against the bacteria that cause tooth decay is important given the high number of adults and children who have some form of tooth decay.
“Dental caries is a commonly overlooked health problem affecting 60-90 per cent of children and the majority of adults in industrialized countries,” he said in the release.
Coconut oil is not the only food product to have exhibited antibacterial properties in a partially digested form.
Past studies have shown that enzyme-modified milk reduced the binding of the streptococcus mutans bacteria to tooth enamel.
Brady said he and his colleagues hope to further investigate which other bacteria strains and yeast the coconut oil might be effective against and exactly how the oil and other enzyme-modified foodstuffs interfere with the processes by which bacteria cause disease.
source: CBC 


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Dental health linked to dementia risk

BY NATASJA SHERIFF, REUTERS AUGUST 21, 2012

People who keep their teeth and gums healthy with regular brushing may have a lower risk of developing dementia later in life, according to a new study.

Researchers who followed close to 5,500 elderly people over an 18-year period, found those who reported brushing their teeth less than once a day were up to 65 per cent more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed daily.

“Not only does the state of your mind predict what kind of oral health habits you practice, it may be that your oral health habits influence whether or not you get dementia,” said Annlia Paganini-Hill, who led the study at the University of California.

Inflammation stoked by gum disease-related bacteria is implicated in a host of conditions including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

And some studies have found that people with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, have more gum disease-related bacteria in their brains than a person without Alzheimer’s, said Paganini-Hill.

It’s thought that gum disease bacteria might get into the brain causing inflammation and brain damage, she told Reuters Health.

So she and her team wanted to look at whether good dental health practices over the long term would predict better cognitive function in later life.

The researchers followed 5,468 residents of a Californian retirement community from 1992 to 2010. Most people in the study were white, well-educated, and relatively affluent. When the study began, participants ranged in age from 52 to 105, with an average age of 81.

All were free of dementia at the outset, when they answered questions about their dental health habits, the condition of their teeth and whether they wore dentures.

When the researchers followed-up 18 years later, they used interviews, medical records and in some cases death certificates to determine that 1,145 of the original group had been diagnosed with dementia.

Of 78 women who said they brushed their teeth less than once a day in 1992, 21 had dementia by 2010, or about one case per 3.7 women. In comparison, among those who brushed their teeth at least once a day, closer to one in every 4.5 women developed dementia. That translates to a 65-per cent greater likelihood of dementia among those who brushed less than daily.

Among the men, the effect was less pronounced, with about one in six irregular brushers developing the disease – making them 22 per cent more likely to have dementia than those who did brush daily. Statistically, however, the effect was so small it could have been due to chance, the researchers said.

There was a significant difference seen between men who had all, or at least most, of their teeth, or who wore dentures, and those who didn’t – the latter group were almost twice as likely to develop dementia.

That effect was not seen in women, though.

Paginini-Hill could only speculate on the reasons for the different outcomes among men and women. Perhaps women wear their dentures more often than men, and they visit the dentist more frequently, she suggested.

The new findings, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, cannot prove that poor dental health can cause dementia.

Neglecting one’s teeth might be an early sign of vulnerability to dementia, for instance, or some other factor could be influencing both conditions.

Still, this report “is really the first to look at the effect of actions like brushing and flossing your teeth,” said Dr. Amber Watts, who studies the causes of dementia at the University of Kansas and was not involved in the research.

The new study does have some limitations. Paganini-Hill and her team looked at behavior and tooth count as a kind of proxy for oral health and gum disease. They didn’t carry out any dental exams so they couldn’t determine if people had gum disease or not.

And tooth loss isn’t always related to gum disease, Watts noted. Head injury and malnutrition are also important causes of tooth loss in adults, and any of those might increase risk for dementia, she said.

“I would be reluctant to draw the conclusion that brushing your teeth would definitely prevent you from getting Alzheimer’s disease,” Watts said.

Yet despite the limitations, Watts said the study is an important step toward understanding how behavior might be linked to dementia.

“It’s nice if this relationship holds true as there’s something people can do (to reduce their chances of developing dementia),” said Paganini-Hill. “First, practice good oral health habits to prevent tooth loss and oral diseases. And second, if you do lose your teeth, wear dentures.”

SOURCE: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, online August 2, 2012.



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Does Oral Health Predict Overall Health?

August 3, 2012 | By Katherine Schreiber, Greatist.com

Upwards of 6 billion bacteria live inside the average human mouth. (Kiss me, now?) The wrong buildup of microorganisms in the mouth can lead to infections, tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. Oral bacteria can also travel into the blood stream, causing or contributing to an array of diseases that affect more than just that smile. Regular dental upkeep—flossing, brushing, mouthwashing, waterpicking, and chewing sugar-free gum—keeps these bad boys under control.

Say “ahhh” – The need-to-know
Think it’s just those pearly whites that benefit from dental hygiene? Think again. Not only does oral upkeep stave off mouth odor, cavities, and gum problems, it’s also linked to life satisfaction and overall happiness. Maintaining those pearly whites pays off, big time. Not convinced? Take a page from the perils of poor oral hygiene for incentive to maintain a cleaner mouth. Below are six diseases that either contribute to or are affected by neglecting the dentist’s advice.
  • Alzheimer’s disease. Impaired cognition doesn’t bode particularly well for remembering to brush, floss, and gargle. People suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are at a higher risk for poor oral health, primarily because they’re less able to independently attend to it. Many medications currently used to treat dementias also interfere with the mouth’s saliva production, which raises the risk of mouth and throat issues even higher.
  • Cardiovascular disease. The hoards of bacteria festering in our mouths can easily infiltrate our bloodstreams. Bleeding gums, mouth sores, and other scrapes or bruises between our cheeks provide a green light for mouth microbes to wiggle their way into the circulatory system, inflame the tissues that line our heart (a condition called endocarditis), contribute to plaque build up in the arteries, and precipitate aneurysms. Tooth loss has also been linked to cardiovascular problems. Need we say more?
  • Diabetes. The relationship between dental health and diabetes goes both ways: Oral infections interfere with blood sugar levels and diabetic symptoms set the stage for these infections to occur. An inflamed mouth is a breeding ground for chemical signals that interfere with sugar and fat metabolism by screwing with insulin secretion. Pesky proteins called cytokines build up around irritated or swelling tissues and can leak into the bloodstream to further throw off diabetics’ already impaired insulin secretion, marring the proper metabolism of sugar and fat found in the diet. Diabetics’ hyperglycemic state only worsens this inflammatory cycle: Too much sugar in the blood mars the structure of protein molecules in the blood, leading to swelling of tissues in the mouth…and elsewhere.
  • Osteoporosis. While this might not be a worry in younger years, what we do now directly influences bone health later in life. Bone-mineral density has been shown to predict periodontal disease—and vice versa. A recent study tracking the rates of periodontal disease in postmenopausal women for five years found that the severity of their mouth problems and osteoporosis increased at a similar rate. The researchers believe this has much to do with how mineral loss makes teeth more susceptible to the bad sides of oral bacteria.Granted, women seem to be at a higher risk for osteoporosis and its related oral health concerns. But that’s no excuse for guys to shy away from the toothpaste aisle. The bones of both sexes can benefit from brushing up. (Actually, guys may need to try and do it a bit more.)
  • Premature birth. Women who give birth to babies well before their due date tend to have more mouth infections than those who deliver babies closer to their ETAs. Molecular signals released by inflamed gums (cytokines and a species called C-reactive protein, to be exact) sneak out of the mouth and into the placenta via mom’s bloodstream. Damage done to still-in-the-oven offspring signals to her body that it’s time to get this puppy out, albeit ahead of schedule.
  • Stress. Life stressors at work, home, or in the environment at large can interfere with our mouth’s ability to tolerate even normal levels of plaque. One study found that stressed out moms had higher rates of cavities and fewer teeth than their less stressed, child-free counterparts (whose mouths were no less nastier, by the way—both groups had the same average rates of tooth plaque). Another found that people working in high stress environments also had higher rates of cavities and other periodontal problems. The culprit(s)? Those inflammatory agents that puff up your body’s tissues. Stress makes them crop up too. Do your mouth—and the rest of yourself—a favor and take a breath, please.


Put your money where your mouth is – The takeaway
Caring for those pearly whites (and the bacteria-laden box they inhabit) is crucial for overall health. Beyond yellow stains and icky breath, a dirty mouth can cause or significantly worsen some very serious health concerns.

Here are some tips to protect your body and mind, via your mouth.
  • Brush up. Twice a day, for two minutes is the recommended amount for those interested in reducing plaque, avoiding cavities, and staving off gingivitis. Bristles can’t get everything. Floss at least once a day to make sure those between-teeth spaces don’t become home base for yesterday’s lunch. Regular flossing cuts down on the harder to reach plaque that leads to periodontal problems.
  • Rinse with antimicrobial mouthwash for 30 to 60 seconds each day and see bad breath, plaque and that gingivitis-causing oral bio-film melt away. (Just remember not to swallow.)
  • Get a new toothbrush at least once every four months. Those mouth microbes also build up on bristles and handles. While many are harmless, some can cause colds, flus, viruses, and infections.
  • Don’t ignore that pile of friendly reminder postcards. Pay your dentist a visit once every six months to catch cavities, gum disease, decay, or oral cancer before they get out of hand. That cleaning won’t hurt either. (Actually, it might. But it’s worth it.)
  • Chew a stick of sugar-free gum after meals or snacks to promote the human mouth’s most trusted health maintenance mechanism: saliva. Frequent chewers have fewer cavities, less plaque, and stronger teeth. Added benefits include a brain power boost.
source: health.com


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Do clean teeth protect against heart disease?

NEW YORK | Thu Apr 19, 2012 

(Reuters Health) – Older adults who get thorough dental cleanings may be somewhat less likely to have a heart attack or stroke than their peers who are less careful about oral hygiene, a new study suggests.

The study, of nearly 22,000 Taiwanese adults age 50 and up, found that those who’d had a professional tooth “scaling” in the past year were less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke over the next seven years.

Tooth scaling, sometimes called a deep cleaning, involves removing the “plaques” that can build up on the teeth and deep in tooth pockets within the gum line. Those plaques harbor bacteria that can lead to gum disease.

The new findings, reported in the American Journal of Medicine, do not prove that a good dental cleaning will cut your risk of heart problems.

But the study is in line with past research that has linked gum disease to an increased risk of heart disease, said lead researcher Dr. Zu-Yin Chen, a cardiology fellow at Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan.

Since gum disease is caused by bacterial infection, researchers suspect that it may contribute to heart attacks or stroke by causing a chronic state of inflammation in blood vessels.

And studies have shown that treating gum disease can cut the levels of inflammatory substances in the blood, Chen told Reuters Health in an email.

Still, no one knows for sure whether a regular visit to your dentist can prevent a future heart attack.

For the study, Chen’s team looked at insurance records for 21,876 adults age 50 and older. Taiwan’s national healthcare program pays for tooth scaling, whether a person has severe gum disease or not.

About half of the people in the study had had a tooth scaling in the past year, while the rest had not.

Over the next seven years, 1.6 percent of the tooth-scaling group suffered a heart attack and 8.9 percent had a stroke.

In the comparison group, 2.2 percent had a heart attack and 10 percent had a stroke.

The researchers then weighed some other factors, like whether people had chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease. It turned out that a deep tooth cleaning was linked to a 31 percent reduction in the risk of a future heart attack, and a 15 percent dip in the odds of a stroke.

People who got deep cleanings more than once every two years during the follow-up period had even lower risks of cardiovascular “events.”

But the study also had a number of limitations. An important one, Chen said, was that the researchers had no information on people’s smoking habits, weight, diet habits or family history — all prime factors influencing the risks of heart attack and stroke.

It’s also impossible for the study to determine whether people who get regular dental cleanings might also have a healthier lifestyle in other ways.

For now, the researchers recommended taking care of your oral health for the sake of your oral health — with the possibility of benefiting your heart health as well.

“Bad dental hygiene is detrimental to our health, so it’s very important to take care of your teeth,” said Chen, who presented some of his team’s results last November at the American Heart Association meeting.

SOURCE: bit.ly/IlKu8h American Journal of Medicine, online April 5, 2012 / Reuters.com


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Tooth cleaning leads to fewer heart problems: study

ORLANDO, Florida | Sun Nov 13, 2011


(Reuters) – Regular visits to the dentist for tooth cleaning may provide more than just a brighter smile.

According to data compiled by researchers in Taiwan, people who had their teeth professionally scraped and cleaned had a 24 percent lower risk of heart attack and 13 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who never had a dental cleaning.

Poor oral hygiene has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

The researcher who presented the findings of the multi-year study at the American Heart Association scientific meeting in Orlando on Sunday surmised that professional tooth cleaning appears to reduce inflammation-causing bacterial growth that can lead to heart disease.

“Protection from heart disease and stroke was more pronounced in participants who got tooth scaling at least once a year,” said Dr. Zu-Yin Chen, a cardiology fellow at Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, who presented the findings.

The analysis of more 100,000 people beginning in 2007 was based on data in the Taiwan National Health insurance data base. None of the study subjects had a history of prior heart attack or stroke, but the analysis did not adjust for risk factors such as smoking or obesity.

Researchers said a higher frequency of professional tooth cleaning led to a greater reduction in heart risk. They defined higher frequency as at least two visits to the dentist for a cleaning in two years.

(Reporting by Bill Berkrot, editing by Bernard Orr)

source: Reuters