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Monday
Aug222016

Exercise in Dr. Weil's Life (video)

Throughout his life, Dr. Weil has practiced various types of exercises. From running and hiking to biking and swimming, see which ones he enjoyed in his youth and middle age - and which he chooses now.

Friday
Aug192016

Why You Should Add Fennel To Your Summer Herb List

Want to add a Mediterranean twist to your summer vegetables? Try fennel! This aromatic herb is part of the Umbellifereae family and native to areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea and the Near East. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is related to parsley, carrots and dill, with a taste similar to that of anise or licorice. The bulb, stalks and green leaves are all edible, as are fennel seeds that come from the yellow flowers it produces.

Fennel offers a variety of nutrients - it:

  • Has a unique combination of phytonutrients including the flavonoidsquercetin and rutin
  • Is an excellent source of vitamin C, making it a good way to support a healthy immune system
  • Is a good source of fiber, folate and potassium.

Fennel has also been used to address backache, low libido, loss of appetite, and as a natural way to treat infantile colic. It is a well-known remedy for flatulence and other gastrointestinal issues as well. Topically, fennel has also been used to treat snakebites.

Since fennel can quickly lose flavor, it is best to eat it right after purchase. However, refrigeration in the vegetable crisper can preserve its taste for up to four days. You can extend the freshness of dried fennel seeds by storing them in an airtight container away from light and moisture for up to six months.

Try this light and delicious fennel recipe: 
Strawberry, Fennel, And Arugula Salad

Tuesday
Aug162016

Thumbs Down On Low-Fat Diets

Low-fat diets have been losing their luster for some time, and now an analysis from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School has shown that they don't lead to more weight loss than low-carb or more palatable Mediterranean diets. The researchers reviewed the results of 53 studies containing data on 68,128 adults and saw no difference between the average weight loss due to low-fat diets and higher fat diets. In fact, they concluded that reduced-fat diets led to weight loss only when compared to no diet at all, and resulted in less weight loss than low-carb plans (the review team pointed out that differences in weight change were only about 2.5 pounds). The low-fat diets included in the studies analyzed ranged from those that permitted only 10 percent or fewer calories from fat, to those allowing 30 percent or fewer fat calories. Because fat contains more than twice the calories per gram as carbohydrates and protein, the rationale for low fat diets has been that "reducing fat intake will naturally lead to weight loss," said research leader Deidre Tobias, noting that the evidence from the investigation "clearly suggests otherwise."

Saturday
Aug132016

Pesticides and Diabetes

Exposure to pesticides may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 64 percent, according to a new analysis of 21 studies by researchers in Greece and England. Another investigation reported that women who had elevated blood levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) during the first trimester of pregnancy were more than four times more likely than normal to develop gestational diabetes. While the researchers who conducted the analysis said that their results don’t prove that pesticides cause some cases of diabetes, they maintained that the findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that environmental contaminants play a key role in the development of the disease. After reviewing the studies, which included data on nearly 67,000 people, the researchers concluded that the increased risks seen were associated with the organic pollutants DDT, dieldrin, heptachlor, and HCB.  Most of the studies included in the review identified pesticide exposure via urine and blood analyses, methods that are considered very accurate. The authors of both analyses said that while diet, weight and exercise factors are also key to diabetes’ risk, the role of chemicals cannot be ignored. Animal and laboratory studies have shown that endocrine-disrupting chemicals can provoke precursors to diabetes and even diabetes itself. Results of both new analyses were presented at the September 2015 meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

Thursday
Aug112016

Drinking Beer and Women’s Hearts

First, the good news: drinking a beer or two per week could reduce the risk of heart disease in women by 30 percent. The bad news, however, is that drinking spirits (rather than beer or wine) could raise a woman’s risk of dying of cancer by 50 percent. These new findings come from a 32-year long Swedish study that included 1,500 women who were age 38 to 60 when they enrolled in the investigation. Over the course of 32 years, the women reported on their consumption of beer, wine or spirits, and the researchers tracked the participants’ medical concerns, including heart problems and cancer. Analysis of the data showed a reduced risk of developing heart disease in those women who drank a beer or two per week compared to women who didn’t drink alcohol at all and those who were heavy drinkers. However, the study did not confirm the results of previous results from other investigators suggesting that moderate wine consumption can lower the risk of heart disease. That outcome will have to be confirmed in a follow-up study, according to lead researcher Dominique Hange. The investigators, from the University of Gothenburg, also reported an apparent higher risk of dying of cancer among women who drank spirits more than once or twice a month over the course of the study compared to women who drank spirits less often than that.

Tuesday
Aug092016

New Clues to Breast Cancer Recurrence

A team of British researchers has identified genetic clues that may help reveal which cases of breast cancer are more likely to recur. The new findings could enable doctors to determine which patients are at high risk of recurrence when their disease is first diagnosed and then target the genes that drive relapses in order to prevent the cancer’s return. The investigators, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, discovered that the genetic contributors underlying breast cancer recurrences are different from the ones seen in cases that don’t return. The team estimated that one in five patients with breast cancer experiences a recurrence, either in the same place as the original tumor or elsewhere in the body. They analyzed genetic data from 1,000 breast cancer patients, including 161 samples from cases that recurred. The investigators found differences in mutations that were linked to recurrence. They reported that some of these genetic changes were acquired when the cancers returned and began to spread. A subset of the mutations are “relatively uncommon among cancers that do not relapse”, said study leader Dr. Lucy Yates, adding that “some of these genetic alterations are potentially targetable with drugs”. The results of the British study were presented at the European Cancer Congress’ September 2015 meeting.

My take? The findings from this study are welcome news. At present, we have limited therapeutic interventions that are focused on preventing breast cancer recurrence, and nothing as powerful as targeting the responsible genetic mutations would be. The researchers explained that if individual cancers can change genetically over time, treatments that target a particular mutation may also have to change as the disease progresses. Therapies would have to be guided by taking regular samples of cancer tissue, rather than basing treatment only on samples taken when the cancer is first diagnosed. We’re not there yet, but if these study findings prove their promise, we could be on the road to developing effective strategies aimed at preventing breast cancer recurrences.

Sunday
Aug072016

Coriander: Summer Spice Of The Week

Derived from the seeds of the coriander plant (Coriandrum sativum), coriander is a culinary spice that is part of the parsley family. 

Coriander is notable for many health benefits, including:

It has also been used around the world to treat a variety of health concerns including digestive disorders, heatstroke, anxiety and insomnia. Nutritionally, coriander is a very good source of dietary fiber and calcium.

Depending on the form it is in, coriander can be kept for up to a year. Ground coriander should stay fresh for six months, but whole seeds should last about a year. Make sure that both coriander seeds and powder are stored in a tightly sealed glass container away from heat and light. Before grinding the seeds, consider soaking them in cold water for about ten minutes to help revive the essential oils.

Here are some delicious recipes with coriander to try: 
Chickpea & Broccoli Masala Curry
Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

Friday
Aug052016

Blueberry Extract To Fight Gum Disease

Here’s a novel approach that may help prevent gum inflammation caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and creates an environment that can damage gums and cause tooth decay. Gingivitis, the earliest form of gum disease, can lead to periodontitis, which is more severe and a may require treatment with antibiotics. Recently, dental researchers at Quebec’s Université Laval have found that wild blueberry extract could help prevent formation of plaque by inhibiting one of the main species of bacteria linked to periodontitis. When they tested wild lowbush blueberry extracts against the target bacteria, Fusobacterium nucleatum in the lab, they found that it successfully inhibited the growth of the organism as well as its ability to form harmful biofilms. The researchers reported that the blueberry extract, which is rich in polyphenols (antioxidant compounds), also blocked a molecular pathway involved in inflammation, which is key to gum disease. They are now working on an oral device that could slowly release the blueberry extract after deep cleaning to help treat periodontitis.