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What Flavor Do You Prefer? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed how food flavor affects our health, specifically bitter flavor: Bet on Bitter? Check out the article and let us know what flavor your prefer the most.


Can You Dance Away Pain?

If arthritis is cramping your style, dancing might help you feel better. A new study from St. Louis University found that a group of seniors was able to walk faster and reported less pain after completing several months of dance therapy. The 34 participants in the small study were mostly women whose average age was 80. They all reported pain or stiffness in their knees and hips that was primarily due to osteoarthritis. The researchers divided the participants into two groups. The 19 volunteers in one group danced for 45 minutes once or twice a week; the other 15 volunteers did not receive dance therapy but participated in other, similar physical activities. After the 12-week study ended, the participants who performed the dance therapy were able to walk faster. There was enough of a change, in fact, to enable them to cross a street quickly and get to the bathroom faster than they might have before the dance therapy. Another bonus: those who had dance therapy were able to reduce the prescriptions they were taking by 39 percent, while those who didn’t dance actually increased their medication use by 21 percent.

Jean Krampe et al, “Does dance-based therapy increase gait speed in older adults with chronic lower extremity pain: A feasibility study.” Geriatric Nursing, 2014; DOI:10.1016/j.gerinurse.2014.03.008


Mustard - Spices in the Kitchen (Video)

Dr. Weil discusses mustard seeds and the various types available for culinary use. There are three species for mustard that are most-commonly used: black, white, and brown. Black mustard is the most pungent and originated in the Middle East. Brown mustard is used to make Dijon mustard and is native to the Himalayas. White mustard is the mildest, native to the eastern Mediterranean, and is used to make traditional yellow mustard. Medicinally, mustard is used to treat gastrointestinal issues as well as joint-related aches and pains.

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Menopause Can Give You a Headache

Here’s some news that will vindicate every woman who blames menopause for migraine headaches. A new investigation suggests that the headaches can begin or worsen in the years just before menopause and, according to the researchers, can now be considered a symptom of menopause, right up there with hot flashes. The monthly decline of estrogen before menstruation has long been blamed for menstrual migraines. Now, the low estrogen typical of menopause, as well as other hormonal fluctuations as menopause approaches, may be the trigger for migraines that occur at this time of life in some women. The migraine and menopause investigation was part of the larger American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention Study, a survey of 120,000 U.S. households. The researchers gathered data on 3,603 women ages 35 to 65 who have migraines, and classified them based on headache frequency and on whether the women were premenopausal, peri-menopausal or postmenopausal. The question now, the researchers said, is how to best treat these menopause migraines. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Headache Society annual meeting in Los Angeles.

Mary Mcvean, “Women: You are having more headaches around menopause, researchers say.” Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2014,, accessed July 5, 2014


Less Sleep, Faster Brain Aging

This troubling finding comes from a Singapore-based study showing that losing sleep with advancing age elicits changes in a region of the brain that is a marker for faster cognitive decline. The 66 Chinese seniors who participated had MRIs to measure their brain volume in conjunction with an evaluation of their cognitive function every two years. They also reported how many hours they typically slept. The researchers, from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore, reported that study participants who slept fewer hours showed evidence of brain ventricle enlargement and declines in cognitive performance. This study was the first to look at the effect of sleep on brain ventricle enlargement, a known sign of cognitive decline. The investigators cited research elsewhere as showing that seven hours of sleep is associated with the best cognitive test scores in more than 150,000 adults, but noted that it is not yet known whether seven hours is optimum for overall physiology and long term brain health.

My take? This study adds a serious risk to the list of dangers posed by sleep deprivation throughout life. We know that lack of sleep increases the risk of accidents caused by fatigue and that not getting enough sleep is a risk factor for weight gain, perhaps by disrupting production of the appetite regulating hormones ghrelin and leptin. Sleep deprivation can also disrupt the body's regulation of blood sugar, which can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. And laboratory studies suggest that not getting adequate rest may also elevate levels of stress hormones, boost blood pressure, and increase inflammation - all changes that may lead or contribute to health concerns later in life. If you’re not getting enough sleep, the sooner you establish new habits, the better for the long-term health of your mind and body. Here are my recommendations for getting optimal sleep.

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June C. Lo et al, “Sleep Duration and Age-Related Changes in Brain Structure and Cognitive Performance.” SLEEP, 2014; DOI: 10.5665/sleep.3832


How Do You Store Your Food? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed the health concerns and safety of using food packaging to store food: How Safe is Food Packaging? Check out the article and let us know what you use when storing food.


Having Baby “Late” in Life May Signal Longevity

Here’s some good news for women who have had babies after the age of 33: odds are they’ll live longer than women whose last child was born before they reached 30. The age at last childbirth can indicate the rate of biological aging, according to a study of families with members who lived exceptionally long lives. “The natural ability to have a child at an older age likely indicates that a woman’s reproductive system is aging slowly, and therefore so is the rest of her body,” researcher Thomas Perls, M.D., M.P.H. explained in a press release. The genetic variants that allow women to have babies naturally after age 33 might also be responsible for exceptionally long life spans, the study suggested. The findings came from an analysis of data from the Long Life Family Study (LLFS)—a biopsychosocial and genetic study of 551 families with multiple members who attained exceptionally old ages. The researchers determined the ages at which 462 women had their last child, and correlated that age with their longevity. They found that women who had their last child after the age of 33 years had twice the odds of living to 95 years or older compared with women who had their last child by age 29. Earlier data from this study showed that women who gave birth naturally after age 40 were four times more likely to live to 100 than women who had their last child earlier in life.

Thomas T. Perls et al, “Extended maternal age at birth of last child and women's longevity in the Long Life Family Study.” Menopause, The Journal of the North American Menopause Society, June 23, 2014


Nutmeg - Spices in the Kitchen (Video)

Dr. Weil discusses the spice nutmeg and its natural health benefits. The egg-shaped nutmeg is the seed of the nutmeg tree, a tree native to Indonesia. Traditionally, nutmeg has been used orally for digestive issues such as flatulence, nausea and diarrhea. Topically, nutmeg has been use to treat mouth sores and toothache. Ground nutmeg is often used in baked goods due to its pungent and sweet taste.

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