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Thursday
Oct092014

Exercise for a Better Microbiome

Exercise could boost the diversity of the microbes in your gut, and eating a lot of protein might help, as well. A diverse “microbiome,” as this population of microbes is called, is necessary for optimal functioning of our immune systems, and supports overall health. By examining blood and stool samples, researchers in Ireland were able to compare the microbial diversity of professional rugby players with those of healthy men, some of normal weight and some overweight. They found that the athletes, overall, had greater gut diversity than the other men, which they attributed to the players’ strenuous exercise and diets that were higher in protein (22 percent of calories) compared to 15 to 16 percent of calories from protein the other men consumed daily. The athletes’ microbiomes were not only more diverse, the researchers reported that they were more populous than those of the other men in the study, and included higher levels of a species of bacteria associated with lower rates of obesity and obesity-related disorders. Whether exercise or protein or both were responsible for the diversity of the rugby players’ microbiomes remains to be confirmed by future studies, but this investigation certainly showed an intriguing association.

Sources:
Siobhan Clark and Orla O’Sullivan, et al, “Exercise and associated dietary extremes impact on gut microbial diversity,” Gut, doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2013-306541

Wednesday
Oct082014

Paprika - Spices in the Kitchen (Video)

Dr. Weil discusses the health benefits of this paprika, a popular spice known for its distinct smoky flavor. Paprika comes from sun-dried peppers and has been traditionally used for treating digestive issues, circulatory issues, cramps and fever. As a topical applicant, it has been used for reducing arthritis pain, muscle spasms, and even shingles. Paprika adds color to many foods and is used in a wide variety of dishes.

Want new videos from Dr. Weil? Subscribe to his YouTube channel for weekly videos!

Tuesday
Oct072014

Less Red Meat for Less Breast Cancer

The less red meat a woman eats, the lower her risk of breast cancer. That conclusion comes from data on almost 89,000 women between the ages of 26 and 45 participating in the 20-year Nurses Health Study. Results of the analysis showed that the risk of breast cancer began to rise when women ate 1.5 servings of red meat a week. Just that extra half serving bumped up breast cancer risk by 22 percent, the study found. Each additional daily serving of red meat seemed to increase the risk by another 13 percent. The review also showed that replacing a daily serving of red meat with fish, legumes, nuts, poultry or a combination of those foods appeared to lower the breast cancer risk by 14 percent. Switching from a serving of red meat to one of poultry cut the risk by 17 percent overall and by 24 percent among postmenopausal women. This study doesn’t prove that eating red eat causes breast cancer. Rather, it shows an association between eating red meat (or not eating it) and breast cancer risk.

Sources:
Maryam Farvid et al, “Dietary protein sources in early adulthood and breast cancer incidence: prospective cohort study,” BMJ 2014; 348 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g3437 (Published 10 June 2014)

Monday
Oct062014

Walk Away from Knee Arthritis

If arthritis in your knees is slowing you down, walking more, rather than less, may help keep you on the go. For those that are multitasking, part of the solution may be a pedometer (or cell phone app) that counts your daily steps. When they add up to 6,000, arthritis in the knee begins to improve, and the risk of disability declines, according to a new study from Boston University. Every step you take throughout the day counts toward your 6,000, the study found. Author Daniel White, a research assistant professor in the department of physical therapy and athletic training, says that when most people walk, they average 100 steps per minute, which means that if you were to do your 6,000 steps all at once, you would spend an hour walking. The research included 1,800 adults who had knee arthritis or were at risk of the problem and were already participating in an ongoing osteoarthritis study. White explained that the investigation was aimed at determining the fewest daily steps that would help people with knee arthritis remain mobile. If you're not in good shape, he suggests setting an initial goal of 3,000.

My take? In combination with daily exercise (walking counts), losing at least 10 percent of your weight, if you're overweight, can help go a long way toward relieving the pain of knee arthritis and improving mobility. In addition to weight loss and exercise, I recommend making some specific dietary changes to help reduce the inflammation and pain of osteoarthritis. Research has shown that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and the spices ginger and turmeric may be especially beneficial. And foods rich in antioxidants - plentifully found in most vegetables and fruit - may help reduce tissue damage from inflammation.

Sources:
Daniel K. White et al, “Daily walking and the risk of incident functional limitation in knee OA: An observational study,” Arthritis Care & Research, doi: 10.1002/acr.22362.

Friday
Oct032014

What Time Do You Typically Exercise? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed when the best time is to exercise: Best Time for Exercise? Check out the article and let us know when you typically exercise during the day.

Thursday
Oct022014

Hidden Risk of Being a Night Owl

Going to bed really late and getting not quite enough sleep can cramp your exercise style. A new study has concluded that night owls are more sedentary than the rest of us and have a harder time sticking to an exercise routine. “Waking up late and being an evening person were related to more time spent sitting, particularly on weekends and with difficulty making time to exercise,” said study leader Kelly Glazer Baron, Ph.D., associate professor of neurology and director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. For the study, the researchers examined 123 healthy adults who reported that they slept at least 6.5 hours per night. The team measured sleep variables for seven days with wrist monitors that track motion and rest, and had each participant keep a sleep diary. The researchers also evaluated self-reports of physical activity and attitudes toward exercise from specially designed questionnaires. The night owls in this study averaged only 83 minutes of vigorous activity per week, and even those who exercised felt that being an evening person made it difficult to find time to work out, the study found.

Sources:
Kelly Glazer Baron et al “Early To Bed, Early To Rise Makes Easier To Exercise: The Role Of Sleep Timing In Physical Activity And Sedentary Behavior,” SLEEP abstract supplement 2014 http://www.journalsleep.org/ViewAbstractSupplement.aspx

Wednesday
Oct012014

Coriander & Cilantro - Spices in the Kitchen (Video)

Cilantro comes from the leaves of the coriander plant while the spice that we know as coriander comes from the seeds of the plant. Coriander seeds exhibit anti-inflammatory properties as well as cholesterol-lowering properties. Cilantro is used as a garnishment on foods and often in Mexican dishes and salsas. Some people experience an unpleasant soapy or metallic-like taste with cilantro due to a genetic discrepancy in people.

Want new videos from Dr. Weil? Subscribe to his YouTube channel for weekly videos!

Tuesday
Sep302014

Smoke Gets In Your Ears?

New research from Britain has tied smoking to hearing loss. If you smoke, your odds of hearing loss are 15 percent higher than that of nonsmokers, the study found. And the researchers came up with an even bigger surprise: if you’re exposed to smoking, your risk of hearing loss is 28 percent higher than non-smokers.

A team from the University of Manchester looked at nearly 165,000 adults in the UK age 40 to 69 who took hearing tests when they joined a national project to improve health. “We found the more packets you smoke per week and the longer you smoke, the greater the risk you will damage your hearing,” said Piers Dawes, Ph.D. of the University of Manchester’s Centre for Human Communication and Deafness. The cause of the connection between hearing loss and smoking isn’t clear, Dr. Dawes said, adding that “we are not sure if toxins in tobacco smoke affect hearing directly, or whether smoking-related cardiovascular disease causes microvascular changes that impact on hearing or both.”

The increased risk among passive smokers -- higher than that for smokers -- could be the result of the study design. Smokers were compared to both complete non-smokers and passive non-smokers, but passive smokers were only compared to complete non-smokers, the researchers said.

Sources:
Piers Dawes et al, “Cigarette Smoking, Passive Smoking, Alcohol Consumption, and Hearing Loss”, Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s10162-014-0461-0