Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


Leave a comment

Could a Daily Vitamin Curb Smog’s Health Effects?

Small study suggests vitamin B might help, but reducing pollution levels remains the priority

There’s a lot of evidence to show that breathing in dirty air can harm your heart. But a small new study suggests that daily vitamin B supplements might counteract that effect.

While two hours of exposure to concentrated air pollution had a negative effect on heart rate and levels of illness-fighting white blood cells, “these effects are nearly reversed with four-week B-vitamin supplementation,” according to study co-author Dr. Andrea Baccarelli. He’s chair of environmental health sciences at Columbia University in New York City.

One lung health expert was cautiously optimistic about the findings.

“It is interesting that pretreating with B vitamins may prevent some of the deleterious effects of exposure to this pollution,” said Dr. Alan Mensch, senior vice president of medical affairs at Northwell Heath’s Plainview Hospital in Plainview, N.Y.
“It must be kept in mind, however, that since this study only included 10 healthy patients, it might not be applicable to an entire population,” he added. Plus, preventing air pollution in the first place “takes precedent over developing methods to prevent its deleterious effects,” he said.

The new research involved 10 healthy nonsmokers, aged 18 to 60, who took a placebo for four weeks before being exposed to fine-particulate air pollution for two hours.

The “fine particulates” – microscopic specks – were 2.5 micrometers in diameter, the researchers said.

Inhalable particles that are “2.5 micrometers or smaller are potentially the most dangerous form of air pollution due to their ability to penetrate deep in the lungs and adjacent bloodstream,” Mensch explained. Once inhaled, “they can travel to various organs throughout the body,” he added, causing inflammation and ill effects on cardiovascular health.

“Populations exposed to high particulate-associated air pollution have increased heart attacks, lung cancer, DNA mutations, and premature births and deaths,” Mensch said.

Overall, fine-particle pollution contributes to 3.7 million premature deaths worldwide each year, mainly through harm to the cardiovascular system. This type of air pollution is believed to be the most common trigger for heart attack, the study authors noted.

But could a simple daily vitamin supplement help curb this smog-linked damage?

To find out, Baccarelli’s group gave the 10 participants vitamin B supplements for four weeks before again exposing them to the fine-particle air pollution for another two hours.

This time, the vitamin B supplements were linked to a near-reversal of the negative effects of the pollution on the volunteers’ cardiovascular and immune systems, the researchers said. This included healthy changes in each person’s heart rate and their white blood cell levels.

Baccarelli stressed that preventing pollution should always be the first measure in safeguarding people’s health, however.

“Pollution regulation remains the backbone of public health protection against its cardiovascular health effects,” he said in a university news release. “Studies like ours cannot diminish — nor be used to underemphasize — the urgent need to lower air pollution levels to — at a minimum — meet the air-quality standards set forth in the United States and other countries.”

Another lung expert agreed that the vitamin supplements could help blunt the health effects of dirty air.

The new study is “evidence that vitamin B provides benefits against the development of atherosclerosis in healthy adults who are exposed to air pollution,” said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

While it remains unclear just how the supplement works in this regard, “this finding recommends vitamin B, which is of course safe and has no side effects, as a buffer against coronary artery disease,” Horovitz said.

The study was published online recently in the journal Scientific Reports.

 
By Robert Preidt       HealthDay Reporter       FRIDAY, April 14, 2017
Sources: Alan Mensch, M.D., senior vice president of medical affairs,  Northwell Health’s Plainview and Syosset Hospitals, N.Y.;  Len Horovitz, M.D., pulmonary specialist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Columbia University, news release, April 12, 2017        WebMD News from HealthDay  


2 Comments

Are Eggs Healthy?

In some ways, eggs are very good for you.

First of all, they are a nutrient-dense food. They contain high-quality protein, meaning eggs offer all nine essential amino acids that can’t be made by humans and therefore must come from our diets. Protein in eggs can help build and preserve muscle as well as boost satiety, both of which are important for weight control.

Eggs are also one of the few food sources of vitamin D and a source of the nutrient choline, which may help protect against birth defects in infants. They contain vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin (B2) and the antioxidant selenium, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, which help keep our eyes healthy.

Most of an egg’s calories, vitamins and minerals are found in the yolk.

But what about the cholesterol in eggs? It’s true that eggs are high in dietary cholesterol, which is also found in the yolk, but they’re low in saturated fat, which is the bigger culprit when it comes to raising blood cholesterol levels. Because of this, eggs get the green light according to the government’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

In fact, one recent meta-analysis found that higher consumption of eggs (up to one egg per day) is not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke. And a 2016 Finnish study involving more than 1,000 men concluded that egg or cholesterol intakes are not associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease, even in those who are genetically predisposed to experience a stronger effect of dietary cholesterol on blood cholesterol.

What is more likely to affect your health is how eggs are prepared, as well as which other foods you combine with them. One large poached egg has 71 calories and 2 grams of saturated fat, and an omelet made with spinach and one yolk is also a lean choice. But a serving of eggs Benedict with bacon and Hollandaise sauce has about 800 calories and 26 grams of saturated fat.

So feel free to enjoy eggs, but watch how you eat them. And balance eggs with other healthy fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

By Lisa Drayer, CNN     Fri April 14, 2017
 
Lisa Drayer is a nutritionist, author and health journalist.
 
source: www.cnn.com


Leave a comment

Link Between Vitamin D Treatment and Autism Prevention

Giving vitamin D supplements to mice during pregnancy prevents autism traits in their offspring, researchers have discovered. The discovery provides further evidence of the crucial role vitamin D plays in brain development.

In human studies, researchers recently found a link between pregnant women with low Vitamin D levels and the increased likelihood of having a child with autistic traits.

Giving vitamin D supplements to mice during pregnancy prevents autism traits in their offspring, University of Queensland researchers have discovered.

The discovery provides further evidence of the crucial role vitamin D plays in brain development, said lead researcher Professor Darryl Eyles, from UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute.

“Our study used the most widely accepted developmental model of autism in which affected mice behave abnormally and show deficits in social interaction, basic learning and stereotyped behaviours,” Professor Eyles said.

“We found that pregnant females treated with active vitamin D in the equivalent of the first trimester of pregnancy produced offspring that did not develop these deficits.”

In human studies, QBI researchers recently found a link between pregnant women with low Vitamin D levels and the increased likelihood of having a child with autistic traits.

Autism – or autism spectrum disorder – describes lifelong developmental disabilities including difficulty or inability to communicate with others and interact socially.

Sun exposure is the major source of vitamin D – which skin cells manufacture in response to UV rays – but it is also found in some foods.

Dr Wei Luan, a postdoctoral researcher involved in the study, said vitamin D was crucial for maintaining healthy bones, but the active hormonal form of vitamin D cannot be given to pregnant women because it may affect the skeleton of the developing fetus.

“Recent funding will now allow us to determine how much cholecalciferol – the supplement form that is safe for pregnant women – is needed to achieve the same levels of active hormonal vitamin D in the bloodstream,” said Dr Luan.

This new information will allow us to further investigate the ideal dose and timing of vitamin D supplementation for pregnant women.

It was previously thought vitamin D had a protective anti-inflammatory effect during brain development, but the study didn’t find this to be the case.

New funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council will allow researchers to continue to study how vitamin D protects against autism.

 
Source: Materials provided by University of Queensland. 
Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Journal Reference:
Stephanie Vuillermot, Wei Luan, Urs Meyer, Darryl Eyles. 
Vitamin D treatment during pregnancy prevents autism-related phenotypes 
in a mouse model of maternal immune activation. 
Molecular Autism, 2017; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s13229-017-0125-0
MLA    APA     Chicago
University of Queensland.       ScienceDaily.    17 March 2017


Leave a comment

Vitamin D Can Protect Against Colds, Flu, Study Suggests

Taking extra vitamin D can protect against colds, flu and other respiratory infections, said a study Thursday which reopened a debate on the usefulness of over-the-counter supplements.

A review of 25 clinical trials in 14 countries, some with conflicting results, yielded “the first definitive evidence” of a link between vitamin D and flu prevention, researchers claimed in The BMJ medical journal.

The effects were strongest for people with very low levels of the nutrient which is found in some foods and can be synthesised by the body when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet light.

Many people, especially in grey, cloudy climes, do not have enough vitamin D.

Scientific studies over the years have delivered contradictory conclusions on the topic.

Some have shown that low levels of the vitamin increase the risk of bone fractures, heart disease, colorectal cancer, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and death.

Others said there is no evidence of a link to disease risk.

For the new study, researchers from the Queen Mary University of London conducted the biggest-ever survey of trials involving nearly 11,000 people.

Sunshine
Vitamin D is found in some foods and can be synthesized
by the body when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet light.

And they found clues as to why supplements seem to work in some trials but not in others.

“The bottom line is that the protective effects of vitamin D supplementation are strongest in those who have the lowest vitamin D levels, and when supplementation is given daily or weekly rather than in more widely-spaced doses,” lead researcher Adrian Martineau said in a statement.

‘Undeniable’

Vitamin D is thought to protect against respiratory infections, including bronchitis and pneumonia, by boosting levels of antibiotic-like peptides in the lungs, said the team.

This fits with an observation that colds and flu are more common in winter and spring, when vitamin D levels are lowest.

It may also explain why vitamin D seems to protect against asthma attacks, they said.

In an editorial published with the study, experts Mark Bolland and Alison Avenell said it should be viewed as a hypothesis in need of scientific confirmation.

Louis Levy, head of nutrition science at Public Health England, shared their caution.

“This study does not provide sufficient evidence to support recommending vitamin D for reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections,” he said via the Science Media Centre in London.

Other observers were more optimistic.

The case for universal vitamin D supplements, or food fortification, “is now undeniable,” concluded Benjamin Jacobs of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.

AFP     Thursday, February 16, 2017


3 Comments

How To Stop a Cold Before It Starts

Natural preventatives and some common sense will keep you from getting sick — or staying that way for long.

It’s a double-whammy: getting sick during the winter combines feeling crummy with many people’s less-than-favorite time of year. And if you do have to go outside when you have a cold, you’re probably going to be even more uncomfortable.

Getting sick at least once during the winter is, arguably, inevitable. With more and more of us crowded onto planes, buses, trains and offices, the likelihood of contracting a virus is high. But the suggestions below can help you shorten the length of a cold, avoid a repeat or avoid a worsening (a cold-related cough that turns into bronchitis, for example).

Sleep: If you need a concrete reason to turn off the tube or close the computer and get to bed (beyond that it’s “good for you”) then consider this: Dr. Diwakar Balachandran, director of the Sleep Center at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston told WebMD, “A lot of studies show our T-cells go down if we are sleep deprived, and inflammatory cytokines go up. … This could potentially lead to the greater risk of developing a cold or flu.” And naps count! If you can’t get all your zzz’s in at night, consider a midday snooze — even 20 minutes can make a difference.

Vitamin C: While some physicians say that vitamin C has a negligible effect on a cold’s duration, there are plenty of studies (and anecdotal evidence) that regular doses of ascorbic or calcium ascorbate can affect a cold’s strength, and may even prevent them by supporting the body’s immune response. Vitamin C is inexpensive, and it’s practically impossible to overdose on the stuff, so it’s not a big risk to work it into your winter routine. Chewable vitamins and drink mixes like Emergen-C make it easy to incorporate this into your meals or snacks.

Fruit

Echinacea and Goldenseal: The medical jury is still out on whether these two long-used immune-boosting herbs actually help control the duration and intensity of colds (there are studies that go both ways), but natural health practitioners swear by them. They are most effective when used at the first signs of illness, not once you are already sick. Check with your doctor if you are taking any medications (herbs can interact with some of them), but if kept on hand, a liquid tincture — the capsule forms of these herbs are thought by many to be less effective — taken when you have that “uh oh, I feel like I’m coming down with something” feeling might help keep your illness at bay, or be much milder.

Relaxation and stress reduction: Stress is known immune suppressant, so the more often you are stressed out, the less energy your body has to fight disease. Yoga, qigong, tai chi and meditation — or even a night in with the TV and computer off and just a good book and a cup of tea can help your body take the energy it needs to fight off disease.

Exercise: Also fairly well documented is the connection between a strong immune system and regular, heart-pumping exercise. Walking is great, but if you can, make part of your walk brisk. Participation in extreme sports and pushing yourself beyond your limits actually has an immune-damping effect, so the idea here is moderation.

Teetotaling: It’s boring but true: alcohol and other drugs decrease immunity. It’s no coincidence that it’s this time of year, when we are encouraged to indulge the most, that we tend to get sick. A great tactic is to say yes to a glass of wine or a cocktail — but sip it slowly and savor it. You’ll be good to drive, avoid illness and keep the pounds off, too. Or choose just one night to have “too many” drinks — like Christmas Eve or New Year’s, instead of drinking away Thanksgiving through Jan 1.

 by STARRE VARTAN     source: www.mnn.com    November 7, 2011


2 Comments

The Case for Cashews

Two handfuls of cashews each day may keep depression at bay. A growing body of research has found that in lieu of taking a prescription drug, some people can turn to foods that are high in tryptophans, like cashews. Depressive episodes are often triggered when the body drops in serotonin and tryptophans can boost it again, but people tend to turn to nutrition as a last resort. One more natural source of tryptophan is cashews. “Several handfuls of cashews provide 1,000-2,000 milligrams of tryptophan, which will work as well as prescription antidepressants,” says Dr. Andrew Saul, a therapeutic nutritionist and editor-in-chief of Orthomolecular Medicine News Service. The body turns tryptophan into serotonin, a major contributor to feelings of sexual desire, good mood, and healthy sleep.

The high levels of magnesium and vitamin B6 found in cashews may also help to stabilize mood. Approximately five ounces of cashews a day will provide a middle-aged man with his daily-required magnesium intake, a nutrient that, when low, can trigger mild depression. Vitamin B6 lends a hand to converting tryptophan into serotonin and helps magnesium enter into the body’s cells. It’s likely a trio of nutrients that help with depression. “You don’t want to think that one individual nutrient is the magic bullet,” says Saul.

By  Marykate Marley
 
cashews

Nutrition

         Cashews, raw

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 553 k cal (2,310 kJ)
Carbohydrates 30.19 g
Starch 0.74 g
Sugars 5.91 g
lactose  0.00 g
Dietary fiber 3.3 g
Fat 43.85 g
Saturated 7.783 g
Monounsaturated 23.797 g
Polyunsaturated 7.845 g
Protein 18.22 g

Vitamins

Vitamin A 0 IU
Thiamine (B1) (37%) 0.423 mg
Riboflavin (B2) (5%) 0.058 mg
Niacin (B3) (7%) 1.062 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5) (17%) 0.86 mg
Vitamin B6 (32%) 0.417 mg
Folate (B9) (6%) 25 μg
Vitamin B12 (0%) 0 μg
Vitamin C (1%) 0.5 mg
Vitamin D (0%) 0 μg
Vitamin E (6%) 0.90 mg
Vitamin K (32%) 34.1 μg

Minerals

Calcium (4%) 37 mg
Iron (51%) 6.68 mg
Magnesium (82%) 292 mg
Manganese (79%) 1.66 mg
Phosphorus (85%) 593 mg
Potassium (14%) 660 mg
Sodium (1%) 12 mg
Zinc (61%) 5.78 mg

Other constituents

Water 5.20 g

Units    μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams   IU = International units       
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.                 
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

In a 100-gram serving, raw cashews provide 553 Calories, 67% of the Daily Value (DV) in total fats, 36% DV of protein, 13% DV of dietary fiber and 11% DV of carbohydrates (table).[15] Cashews are rich sources (> 19% DV) of dietary minerals, including particularly copper, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium (79-110% DV), and of thiamin, vitamin B6 and vitamin K (32-37% DV) (table).[15] Iron, potassium, zinc, and selenium are present in significant content (14-61% DV) (table).[15] Cashews (100 grams, raw) contain 113 mg of beta-sitosterol.[15]
source: wikipedia.org


Leave a comment

How to Naturally Increase Testosterone in Men

Testosterone is a hormone that is secreted in both men and women. It is responsible for sex drive, as well as protein processing for muscle mass development and strength. Testosterone declines with age, illness and poor nutrition in both genders, though this change may be more marked in men. Synthetic hormone replacement therapy can cause adverse side effects. A natural way to raise the body’s testosterone levels safely include supplementing the diet with specific nutrients and physical exercise.

Step 1

Take a B-complex vitamin supplement that includes folic acid, vitamin B5, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 to increase testosterone production. These nutrients are important in protein and fat metabolism for the manufacture of this hormone. Eat foods that contain these vitamins, including avocados, eggs, fish and wheat germ.

Step 2

Increase the mineral zinc in your diet to raise testosterone levels and sperm production in the body. Take a daily zinc supplement according to the dosage on the label. Eat foods like shellfish, prawns and oysters that are high in this mineral.

Step 3

Take a 500 mg of fish oil once or twice every day, as recommended by your doctor. Fish oil contains omega 3 fatty acids and other nutrients which help to decrease sex hormone binding globulin, or SHBG. SHBG is a protein that captures or binds to testosterone in the blood, lowering availability of the hormone.

Step 4

Get regular strenuous exercise, such as resistance training, weight lifting and endurance running to increase testosterone levels. Decreasing excess body fat helps to decrease estrogen and raise testosterone production in men. As little as 20 minutes of physical activity, four times a week can improve hormone production.

Step 5

Eat foods that increase testosterone production. These include eggs, tomatoes, red peppers, cruciferous vegetables, alfalfa sprouts, apples and pineapples.

Step 6

Reduce saturated fat, sugary and processed foods from your diet. These foods reduce testosterone levels in the body, leading to low libido, loss of muscle mass and other effects.
Warnings

Lower than normal levels of testosterone production may be an indication of a disorder. If levels of this male hormone do not improve with natural methods, a blood test by your doctor can help determine whether there is an underlying cause.

Additionally, fish oil and other supplements may not be beneficial in all cases.

Tips

Ensure that you get adequate restful sleep each night. Sleeping less than the recommended 6 to 8 hours per night increases stress hormones, which lowers testosterone production. Additionally, learn to manage stress levels in healthy ways to naturally increase testosterone. Hormone replacement therapy may be required for some men with low testosterone levels. Consult your physician about treatment options.

NOREEN KASSEM   Aug 16, 2013