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Tuesday
Jul152014

Why Peaches and Watermelon Could Be Really Good for You

Who doesn’t love a juicy fresh peach or a chilled slice of watermelon? New research suggests that both may benefit health in important ways. In a study with mice, polyphenols from peach extract proved to slow the growth and spread of breast cancer. Researchers at Texas A&M AgriLife Research gave the peach extract to mice that had been implanted with breast cancer cells. After 12 days the researchers observed less tumor growth than in control animals. In addition, there was also a paucity of the blood vessel formation that helps cancer spread and less evidence of enzymes involved in cancer spread in the mice fed high levels of the polyphenols. The investigators suggested that eating two to three peaches daily might help to slow or stop breast cancer spread in humans and might even help prevent the disease. As for watermelon, a 12-week study with 13 obese adults with high blood pressure demonstrated that a daily dose of four grams of the amino acid L-citrulline and two grams of L-arginine, both from watermelon extract, led to significantly improved blood pressure when the study subjects were under stress, as well as lowering the participants baseline blood pressures at rest.

Eating Anti-Inflammatory Made Simple
Take the guesswork out of a healthful diet with Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging. Our shopping and eating guides, over 300 recipes, tips and videos follow Dr. Weil's recommended anti-inflammatory principles for promoting better health, from head to toe. See what it's about - start your free trial today and save 30% when you join!

Sources:
Luis Cisneros-Zevallos et al, “Polyphenolics from peach (Prunus persica var. Rich Lady) inhibit tumor growth and metastasis of MDA-MB-435 breast cancer cells in vivo,” The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2014.03.001

Arturo Figueroa et al, “Effects of Watermelon Supplementation on Aortic Hemodynamic Responses to the Cold Pressor Test in Obese Hypertensive Adults,” American Journal of Hypertension, doi: 10.1093/ajh/hpt295

Monday
Jul142014

Optimism Wins Again

Optimistic women have better luck adopting healthy eating habits than women with a more negative outlook on life. But optimism itself isn’t what makes the difference, according to a new study from the University of Arizona, Tucson. Instead, researchers found that the behavioral skills that tend to accompany optimism led to success. These skills include being aware of your own behavior as it is unfolding, monitoring your eating habits by making a mental note of what you’ve eaten or keeping track of your food intake in a journal, and finding a healthy way to cope with unpleasant emotions or stress (instead of smoking or reaching for junk food). For the study, the researchers analyzed information from 33,500 women between the ages of 50 and 79. Among the data gathered were responses to a questionnaire that evaluated optimism levels and a survey of the healthfulness of the participants' diets when the study began and a year later. Overall, the researchers found that the most optimistic one-third of the women improved their diets the most.

My take? We know that optimism can benefit health by positively influencing the immune system, lowering production of the stress hormone cortisol and even reducing the risk of chronic disease. Rather than this trait simply being self-fulfilling, however, I believe optimism can be learned. The trick is remaining mindful enough to identify habitual thoughts and images that make you feel sad or anxious, and substituting positive ideas for negative ones, as well as spending more time with the optimists among your friends and family.

It's the Journey Not the Destination
Make each day count, with an outlook that both serene and inspired. Dr. Weil's website, Spontaneous Happiness, has everything you need to get on the path to emotional well-being. From exclusive videos and interactive tools to simple and effective methods that promote well-being, we can help you make each day a little brighter. Learn more - start your 10-day free trial today and save 25% when you join.

Sources:
Melanie Hingle et al, “Optimism and Diet Quality in the Women's Health Initiative,” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, published online February 21, 2014.

Saturday
Jul122014

Are Grapes Good For Your Heart?

Want to promote heart health? Look to the grapevine!

Whether you eat the fruit, seeds or skin; drink the juice; or sip on red wine, grapes can help reduce the risk of heart disease. These bright fruits are rich in polyphenols (naturally occurring plant compounds known to have antioxidant activity and other health benefits) including resveratrol, phenolic acids, anthocyanins, and flavonoids, which help to:

  1. Slow or prevent cell damage caused by oxidation, which is an important step in deterring the development of atherosclerosis.
  2. Reduce blood clotting and abnormal heart rhythms.
  3. Lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension.

Choose the darker colored varieties of grapes for the most polyphenol benefits and opt for eating the fruit or skins over juice when able.

Eating Anti-Inflammatory Made Simple
Take the guesswork out of a healthful diet with Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging. Our shopping and eating guides, over 300 recipes, tips and videos follow Dr. Weil's recommended anti-inflammatory principles for promoting better health, from head to toe. See what it's about - start your free trial today and save 30% when you join!

Friday
Jul112014

How Much Does Smog Affect You? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed air pollution and how smog affects your health: What's So Bad About Smog? Check out the article and let us know how much smog and air pollution affect your daily life and health.

Thursday
Jul102014

How Lifestyle Can Affect Your Vision

Being physically active and having an occasional alcoholic drink both seem to reduce the risk of developing vision problems as you age. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin noted that visual impairment in the U.S. population is projected to increase by 70 percent between the year 2000 and 2020. They attributed most of these projected changes to the expansion of the aging population and the prevalence of age-related eye diseases. The investigators looked at the relationships between the incidence of visual impairment and smoking, drinking alcohol and staying physically active in an ongoing study of nearly 5000 adults aged 43 to 84. They found that only two percent of physically active participants developed visual impairments compared to 6.7 percent of those who were sedentary. After adjusting for age, the researchers found that physically active study participants had a 58 percent reduced risk of developing eye problems. And here’s a surprise: only 4.8 of study participants who drank alcohol occasionally (defined as having consumed alcohol in the previous year, but averaging less than one drink a week) developed visual impairment compared to 11 percent of non-drinkers. Heavy drinkers and smokers also had a higher risk of vision impairment than study participants who never drank heavily and never smoked, but the association was not statistically significant.

Want To Age Gracefully?
It's not about the lines on the face - it's about the wisdom behind them. Don’t lament the passing of the years, celebrate all you have achieved, learned and earned, for your benefit and the benefit of others. Begin today - start your 14-day free trial of Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging now, and save 30% when you join!

Sources:
Ronald Klein, et al, “Relation of Smoking, Drinking, and Physical Activity to Changes in Vision over a 20-Year Period,” Ophthalmology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2014.01.003

Wednesday
Jul092014

Choosing High-Quality Olive Oil (Video)

Olive oil comes in a variety of forms, but Dr. Weil explains what makes a good-quality olive oil. The best olive oil is extra virgin, organic and cold pressed. It is important to protect olive oil because the compounds (polyphenols) in the oil break down when exposed to light and air, decreasing the health benefits it provides.

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

Tuesday
Jul082014

Chemicals Endanger Male Fertility

Phthalates, chemicals used to make plastics flexible and lotions spreadable, are now found in everything from packaging, textiles, and detergents, to time-release capsules, and may contribute to male infertility. A study published online on February 14 in Fertility & Sterility found that women who use cosmetics often have higher levels of phthalates in their bodies, but concluded that the chemicals are a contributor to infertility only in men. Researchers from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NCHHD) followed 501 couples trying to conceive, and investigated the association between phthalate exposure and infertility. Earlier research has suggested that the chemicals can interfere with the workings of testosterone and other hormones, leading to changes in testicular development, sperm quality and to malformations of the male reproductive system. Fortunately, it is easy to lower phthalates levels quickly: avoid personal care products listing phthalates on their labels, don’t use plastic food containers for heating food and drink, and drink from a glass, not a plastic bottle. A reduction in phthalate levels can often be measured in urine samples within a few days after making these changes.

Want To Age Gracefully?
It's not about the lines on the face - it's about the wisdom behind them. Don’t lament the passing of the years, celebrate all you have achieved, learned and earned, for your benefit and the benefit of others. Begin today - start your 14-day free trial of Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging now, and save 30% when you join!

Sources:
Germaine Buck Louis et al, “Urinary bisphenol A, phthalates, and couple fecundity: the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) Study,” Fertility and Sterility, DOI: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2014.01.022

Monday
Jul072014

News About Exercise and Breast Cancer

Over the years, a number of studies have shown that regular exercise can help protect women from breast cancer. And now a review and analysis of 37 studies performed between 1987 and 2013 involving more than four million women worldwide has found that exercise is protective regardless of a woman’s age or weight. The only exception to the new finding applies to women who are on hormone replacement therapy, which may offset the positive effects of physical activity. All told, the review found that women who exercise for more than an hour a day could cut their breast cancer risk by 12 percent compared with women who don’t exercise at all. The report didn’t specify the type of exercise or the intensity required, but the lead researcher mentioned walking and biking as options. Results of the analysis also suggested that the exercise benefit extended even to aggressive types of breast cancer and held true regardless of where the women lived. The report was presented at the 9th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-9).

My take? We have ample evidence that regular physical activity can reduce the risk of breast cancer, although findings often have been limited to women who began to exercise when they were young. These new findings are surprising in that the protective effect of exercise encompassed women who were overweight or obese. In the past, we’ve thought that exercise is protective because it helps reduce fat stores where estrogen is produced. A German study published in 2008 may have foreshadowed these new findings – it also showed that the protective effect was independent of body mass index or weight, but that study showed that exercise specifically reduced the risk of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer and found little protective effect for other types of breast cancer. An earlier study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in September 2003 concluded that even women who don’t begin exercising until later in life can lower their breast cancer risk by 20 percent and that a brisk, half-hour walk five days a week will do the trick.

Sources:
Mathieu Boniol et al, “Regular physical activity reduces breast cancer risk irrespective of age." The European CanCer Organisation (ECCO). "http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140320100816.htm, accessed March 21, 2014

Abstract no: P102, “Physical activity, hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies”, Wednesday 19 March 12.30 – 13.30 hrs, poster session, poster area.