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Monday
Oct212013

What Eating Grapes Says About Your Diet

Grape consumers had increased intake of vitamins A, C and B6, fiber, calcium and potassiumIf you or your kids snack on grapes or raisins and sip 100 percent grape juice, your diet is likely to be healthier than most. A new analysis of the diets of more than 21,800 children and adults suggests that grape eaters have a pretty healthy all-around diet – in general they eat more vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds than those who don’t eat grapes, and they consume less added sugar, total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. The report was based on data gathered from the 2003 to 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It showed that grape consumers had increased intake of vitamins A, C and B6, fiber, calcium and potassium. In other news about grapes, an animal study at the University of Michigan showed that eating grapes can reduce heart failure associated with chronic high blood pressure by increasing the activity of several genes responsible for antioxidant defense in the heart tissue.

My take? The only downside to the news that eating grapes is a marker for good nutrition is the fact that grapes perennially make the Environmental Working Group’s list of the “Dirty Dozen Plus” - a ranking of fruits and vegetables that have high pesticide loads. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat grapes – they are good for you - but it does mean that they’re one of the fresh produce items you should always buy organic.

Sources:
Carla R. McGill et al “Improved Diet Quality and Increased Nutrient Intakes Associated with Grape Product Consumption by U.S. Children and Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003 to 2008 (pages A1–A4),” Journal of Food Science, first published online: June 21, 2013 | DOI: 10.1111/1750-3841.12066

E. Mitchell  Seymour et al, “Diet-relevant phytochemical intake affects the cardiac AhR and nrf2 transcriptome and reduces heart failure in hypertensive rats,” Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, March 22, 2013

Friday
Oct182013

What's Your Favorite Vegetarian Protein? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed various types of vegetable protein you can include in your diet: Which Vegetable Protein Is Best? Check out the article and let us know which vegetarian protein you enjoy most!

Thursday
Oct172013

Omega-3s for Strong Bones

Omega-3 fatty acids may protect against bone lossPostmenopausal women who are increasing their consumption of omega-3 fatty acids for heart health may get a big bonus: protection against hip fractures. Researchers at Ohio State University analyzed blood samples from postmenopausal women and found that those with higher levels of omega-3s (from both fish and plant sources) were less likely to have broken a hip compared to women whose blood samples were low in omega-3s. The researchers also looked at levels of omega-6 fatty acids and found that hip fracture risk increased as the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s went up. Omega-6s (from linoleic acid found in corn, soybean, safflower and sunflower oils) are more plentiful in our diets than omega-3s. The ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s should be no higher than four to one and ideally closer to two to one, but it is generally much higher, the investigators noted. Because this study was observational in nature – it showed only an association between omega-3s and lower risks of hip fracture - it did not prove cause and effect. But researcher Tonya Orchard, assistant professor of human nutrition, said the findings “add a little more strength to current recommendations to include more omega-3s in the diet."

Source:
Tonya Orchard and Rebecca Jackson et al, “The association of red blood cell n-3 and n-6 fatty acids with bone mineral density and hip fracture risk in the women's health initiative”, Journal of Bone Mineral Research, March 2013  doi: 10.1002/jbmr.1772.

Wednesday
Oct162013

Dr. Weil Speaking at the Tucson Festival of Books (Video)

Dr. Weil speaks about Spontaneous Happiness at the Tucson Festival of Books.

Looking for more videos? Check out Dr. Weil's YouTube channel for a great selection.

Tuesday
Oct152013

Can’t Sleep? Blame the Moon

It may sound far-fetched, but Swiss researchers have published a study demonstrating that the quality of sleep can change with lunar cycles. Investigators at the University of Basel analyzed the sleep of more than 30 volunteers in two age groups in the sleep lab. While study participants were asleep, the research team monitored brain patterns, eye movements and measured hormone secretions. After reviewing all the data, the study team concluded that both the subjective and objective perception of sleep quality changed with the phase of the moon. Of note, they found that around the time of a full moon, brain activity in areas related to deep sleep decreased by 30 percent and that participants took five minutes longer to fall asleep, and slept for 20 minutes less than usual. Tests also showed lower blood levels of the sleep regulating hormone melatonin when the moon was full. Modern life and electric lights may routinely mask the moon’s influence on us, but in the controlled environment of the laboratory, the effects of the moon become visible and measurable, the investigators concluded. The study was published online on July 23, 2013 in Current Biology.

Source:
Christian Cajochen et al, “Evidence that the Lunar Cycle Influences Human Sleep,” Current Biology, July 23, 2013, doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.06.029. [Epub ahead of print]

Monday
Oct142013

Women and Heart Disease: A Shocking Update

Coronary artery disease is responsible for more deaths among womenA newly published review reveals that even though more women die of heart disease than men, not enough women understand and appreciate their risks. The analysis also confirms that doctors still aren’t treating women with known heart problems as aggressively as they do men. The reviewers, from Ohio State University, note that coronary artery disease is responsible for more deaths among women than breast cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, Alzheimer's disease, and accidents combined. Despite those grim statistics, women are still less likely to receive preventive treatments that are routinely recommended for men (such as drugs to lower cholesterol, aspirin to help prevent blood clots that can lead to heart attacks, and lifestyle advice to lower risks. Heart attacks in women may not cause the crushing chest pain men report. Published in Global Heart, the journal of the World Heart Federation, the review observes that CT scans and other imaging techniques used to evaluate cardiac problems reveal that women generally have narrower coronary arteries than men, their symptoms are more likely to be due to blockages of smaller blood vessels, which might be missed. The reviewers also report that after heart attacks, women are 55 percent less likely to participate in cardiac rehabilitation than men are.

My take? We’ve known about the discrepancies in treatment between men and women with heart problems for a decade or more. I’m disappointed that this review suggests that nothing much has changed. Despite recognition that heart disease is more of a threat to women than it is to men, many women still don’t appreciate their risks and many doctors apparently don’t either. The only good news in this review is the fact that the number of American women surveyed who actually know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for their gender increased from 30 percent in 1997 to 54 percent in 2009.

Source:
Kavita Sharma and Martha Gulati, “Coronary Artery Disease in Women: A 2013 update,” Global Heart , doi:10.1016/j.gheart.2013.02.001

Friday
Oct112013

How Often Do You Have Headaches? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed the possible connection of obesity with migraine headaches: Does Obesity Cause Migraines? Check out the article and let us know how often you experience headaches!

Thursday
Oct102013

Walnuts for Prostate Health

Walnuts appear to protect against prostate cancerEating walnuts daily appears to protect against prostate cancer, at least in mice. A new study from the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio showed that after researchers injected the animals with human prostate cancer cells, tumors started to grow. But of the 19 mice that received a walnut-enriched diet, only three developed tumors compared to 14 of 32 mice whose diets did not include walnuts. What’s more, the average size of the prostate tumors that grew in the walnut-fed mice was about one fourth the average size of the tumors that occurred in the mice on the “control” diet that contained no walnuts. The amount of walnuts (pulverized into a fine powder) the mice consumed was equivalent to a human serving of about two ounces or two handfuls a day, reported study senior author Russel Reiter, Ph.D., professor of cellular and structural biology. The study was published in the July 2013 issue of Cancer Investigation.

Source:
Russel Reiter et al, “A Walnut-Enriched Diet Reduces the Growth of LNCaP Human Prostate Cancer Xenografts in Nude Mice,” (doi:10.3109/07357907.2013.800095)