A community for people who want to remain as healthy as possible as we age.

Walking as good as running for health

(UPI) Walking briskly is as good as running to lower the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, U.S. researchers say…
The study found over the six-year study period the same energy used for moderate intensity walking and vigorous intensity running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and possibly coronary heart disease.
"Walking and running provide an ideal test of the health benefits of moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running because they involve the same muscle groups and the same activities performed at different intensities," [principal study author Paul T.] Williams said in a statement.
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Walking Improves Cancer Outcomes

(John L. Marshall, MD, Medscape) [I]nvestigators identified 2300 people [with invasive, nonmetastatic colorectal cancer] and measured how much exercise they got before and after their diagnosis. This is fascinating data, showing that those people who were more physically active both before and after their diagnosis of colon cancer had much better outcomes.
These patients needed only … the equivalent of 150 minutes a week of physical activity -- basically, walking. So, I often prescribe a dog for patients because they will have to walk their dog. Insurance won't cover that, by the way. We have tried.
If you engage in that much physical activity before and after [a colon cancer diagnosis] the risk reduction [in all-cause mortality] is 0.58. That is better than any chemotherapy we have ever given to anyone…
I think the same type of data is available in breast cancer.
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Smart app gives tips for an active lifestyle

(Eindhoven University of Technology) Getting enough exercise is a big challenge for a lot of people. The solution: an app that provides personal activity tips at the right times. That concludes Yuzhong Lin in her doctoral research at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). She has developed a mobile phone app that gives users tips on ways they can get more exercise, based on their location and lifestyle. Test subjects said they felt much more active after using the app…
"The research shows that this technology has the potential to change people's behavior", said Lin's supervisor prof.dr.ir. Bauke de Vries. "It's true that there are already apps on the market that help users follow a healthy lifestyle, but this is the first that gives them tips matched to their location and schedule. Further research with a larger number of text subjects is now needed to find out exactly how many more people take exercise with this."
Community: You can see a demonstration of the app here. No word on when it might be available commercially.
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No longer seeing results from exercise? Reboot your routine with these tips.

(NIHSeniorHealth, via email) After you’ve been active for a while, you may need to adjust your routine to keep seeing benefits. Here are tips to help you continue to see results.
For more on getting over the exercise plateau, visit Go4Life® the exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging at NIH.
The information on Exercise: How to Stay Active was provided by NIHSeniorHealth and developed by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at NIH.
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More Tips and Research on Fitness and Exercise

(Reuters) Zeus the pit bull helps his owner slog through interval training and military crawls, Goldie and her master enjoy Tai Chi together and Izzie the three-legged shih tzu can't hike up the mountain but she acts as a hand weight for her owner's bicep curl… "Unlike humans, their motivation never peters out. Dogs don't drop off one by one, like other fitness buddies," said Dr. Marty Becker, an Idaho-based veterinarian and author of "Fitness Unleashed: A Dog and Owner's Guide to Losing Weight and Gaining Health Together."
(Jacinta Francis, Ph.D., Psychology Today) Compared to men, women are not only less frequent users of parks and public open space, but less likely to use these spaces for vigorous physical activity.  One of the reasons for this disparity is women’s concern over personal safety, despite knowing their concerns may be less real than perceived. Other studies have found that in contrast to men, women are less likely to walk if they believe their local environment is unsafe.  Women also tend to have a lower preference for remote natural settings, and a higher preference for visibly managed spaces containing rangers and wardens 
Community: All the more reason to exercise with others, especially since exercising outdoors can be so beneficial.
(Observations, Scientific American) Since 2000, the number of cars on the road in New York City went up, along with rates of unsafe driving. In 2012, 60 percent of fatal pedestrian and bicyclist crashes were caused by illegal driving behavior such as speeding and distracted driving. New York City cyclists site driver behavior and traffic as the most common reasons they don’t bike to work. But New York City law enforcement officials have not responded with more traffic monitoring; in fact, in 2011 police issued four times as many tickets for tinted windows as for speeding.
(Reuters Health) For those who are able, exercising once or twice more weekly may alleviate some symptoms of a chronic pain condition without making joints feel worse, according to a new study.
(MyHealthNewsDaily) Depression may dampen some of the benefits of exercise and other healthy behaviors, a new study suggests. In the research, people who were physically active generally had lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation in the body. But this link was not found in people with symptoms of depression — exercise did not affect their CRP levels. Previous studies have shown that high CRP levels are a risk factor for heart disease.
Community: But exercise helps improve mood, even for those already depressed.
(MedPage Today) Exercise doesn’t trigger inappropriate implantable cardioverter-defibrillator shocks in most heart failure patients, a subanalysis of the HF-ACTION trial showed. The proportion of patients who got a shock over more than 2 years of follow-up in the trial was no higher among those randomized to aerobic exercise training than among controls (20% versus 22%), Jonathan P. Piccini, MD, MHSc, of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, and colleagues found.
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Beef and Vegetable Potpie
Brimming with chopped zucchini, carrot, and mushrooms, this meat-lover's potpie packs in a hearty serving of vegetables. Cook the filling in a skillet on the stove top, then spoon it into a baking dish. Finish the casserole in the oven to brown the breadstick-dough topping.
Roast Leg of Lamb, Cauliflower & Shallots
Even though lamb is available year-round, it’s traditionally associated with spring. Here we slather this vernal meat with a tarragon-and-parsley rub and roast it with shallots and cool-weather-loving cauliflower. Experiment with colored varieties of cauliflower to wow guests or try it with romanesco—the striking spiral-covered relative of broccoli and cauliflower.
Cooking Light:
Washington Post:
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5 steps to better eating on World Health Day

(The Progressive) April 7 is World Health Day, and one crucial way to recognize it is to change the way we eat…
The Organic Center reports that adding four more fresh fruits and vegetables to the average daily diet, and dropping just 10 calories, can limit weight gain and increase overall nutrient values by between 68 percent and 79 percent.
Here are five steps for healthier, more nutritious diets.
1.    Support family farmers…
2.    Choose whole grains…
3.    Eat out less…
4.    Buy and grow organic…
5.    Eat close to home.
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Number of Americans eating a diet low in saturated fat no longer increasing

(UPI) From the 1970s to 1994, U.S. adults eating a diet low in saturated fat rose from 25 percent to 41 percent, but little changed through 2010, officials say…
Each year, more than 2 million Americans suffer from acute cardiovascular events that account for about one-fourth of the total cost of inpatient hospital care. Control of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol has been shown to substantially reduce cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. High LDL can be managed with lifestyle changes, medications, or a combination of these approaches, the study authors reported.
A diet low in saturated fat is recognized as one of the most effective lifestyle changes to decrease high LDL, they said.
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Federal limits on arsenic in food and beverages still not in place

(Consumer Reports) How much progress have federal officials made in taking steps to reduce Americans' exposure to arsenic in everyday foods such as rice and apple juice? Not as much as we'd hope to see. While there is an arsenic standard for drinking water, no federal limit exists for arsenic in most foods.
It's been more than a year since Consumer Reports started publishing test results that found worrisome levels of arsenic in juices and in rice products such as rice crackers and rice cereals. We urged that you consider limiting consumption of some juices and some kinds of rice products. Meanwhile, the wheels are turning slowly as various agencies weigh in on proposed arsenic rules.
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Non-dairy calcium seen to lower kidney stone risk

(Reuters Health) Getting plenty of calcium from foods has been shown to lower the likelihood of kidney stones in those most at risk, but a new study makes clear the benefit isn't just linked to milk products…
Although most stones that form in the kidneys are made of calcium oxalate, people should not be afraid of consuming calcium in foods, [lead study author Dr. Eric] Taylor told Reuters Health…
The real culprit is oxalate, not calcium. Oxalate is found in many foods including fruits, vegetables, nuts and chocolate, and calcium binds to it avidly.
The more calcium in the digestive tract, [said Dr. Lynda Frassetto , who was not involved in the study], the more oxalate it can bind and take out of the body before the oxalate is absorbed into the bloodstream and ends up in the kidneys and bile duct.
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For first time, majority of Americans favor legalizing marijuana

(Reuters Health) For the first time, a majority of Americans back legalizing marijuana, marking significant changes in public opinion toward the drug, especially among the young, a survey by the Pew Research Center showed on Thursday.
In a large new analysis, men and women who consumed the most dietary calcium from foods had about 20 percent lower risk of developing kidney stones than peers who consumed the least calcium…
Although most stones that form in the kidneys are made of calcium oxalate, people should not be afraid of consuming calcium in foods, [lead study author Dr. Eric] Taylor told Reuters Health.
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Fecal Microbial Transplantation Found to Be Possible Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis

(Science Daily) A Spectrum Health clinical trial has found that fecal microbial transplantation (FMT) has resulted in the improvement or absence of symptoms in most pediatric patients with active ulcerative colitis…
FMT is a process that involves infusion of human stool from a healthy donor into the intestine of the patient in an attempt to restore healthy microbial flora in the intestines of the patient…
"FMT has been proposed as a promising new treatment option for recurrent C. difficle infection and possibly for ulcerative colitis as well," said Sachin Kunde, MD, MPH…, and lead investigator. "We believe that the procedure may restore 'abnormal' bacteria to 'normal' in patients with ulcerative colitis. Our short-term study looked at the safety and tolerability of FMT for these patients."
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Are Immune System B-Cells to Blame for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

(Discover Magazine) Myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome, is a perplexing disorder that may seem more like a voodoo hex than an illness. Patients might lie bedridden in dark rooms, in chronic pain, often with multiple neurological symptoms like muscle pain, sweating and dizziness. 
Doctors have targeted various causes, from herpes viruses to retroviruses to depression. But a surprising new explanation suggests that the disorder is an autoimmune disease of the nervous system caused by overactive B-cells, which are normally responsible for churning out pathogen-killing antibodies…
This study marks just one more step in a growing body of research focusing on the role of B-cells in autoimmune disease. While they’re essential for helping the body fend off attacks, if something goes awry, B-cells can generate antibodies that attack healthy tissues.
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Insurers' Efforts To Delay Health Law Compliance Could Affect Millions

(Kaiser Health News) Regulators in some states are trying to prevent insurers from getting around the health law by extending potentially cheaper, but more limited policies for another year, but other states are giving the firms leeway.
At issue are rules that take effect Jan. 1, which require insurers to cover a set package of benefits, such as prescription drugs, maternity care and hospitalizations, and which limit or bar their ability to vary premiums on age, illness or gender. To avoid those rules – and possibly, rate increases that could occur because of them -- some insurers are seeking to move up renewal dates for current policies to the end of December, so those policies could be extended through 2014.
How many insurers are pursuing the strategy is unknown. But if a significant number extend their old policies, it could affect the cost of health insurance and scope of benefits for millions of people who buy their own policies rather than getting them through their jobs. If enough relatively healthy people hold onto those policies, the practice also has the potential to drive up insurance costs for those buying coverage in new online insurance marketplaces beginning next year.
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Obama to Propose $400 Billion in Medicare Savings

(MedPage Today) About $400 billion of savings in President Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal will come from Medicare and other health programs, according to media reports.
The money would come in the form of reduced payments to pharmaceutical companies and asking wealthier seniors to pay higher premiums, the news reports, citing a leaked budget briefing document, said Friday.
Obama is set to unveil the full fiscal 2014 budget proposal to Congress on Wednesday.
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MedPAC Debates Better Pay for Advanced Practice RNs, Physicians' Assistants

(MedPage Today) Some members of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission suggested Medicare take stronger steps to recognize and reward the work of advanced practice RNs and physician assistants.
Medicare payments generally follow along with states' scope-of-practice laws for APRNs and PAs, which vary widely in what they allow the lower-level providers to do and, hence, can bill Medicare for.
If a particular state allows an APRN to operate independently of a physician, Medicare will pay the APRN 85% of what a doctor would receive for providing that service. But if the APRN must work under a physician, that doctor receives 100% of the payment for that service -- at the regular physician fee schedule rate -- even if the doctor didn't provide it.
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Scientists angry about budget cuts come out of the lab and onto the streets

(McClatchy) To the ranks of civil rights and anti-war activists who’ve marched on Washington, get ready to add white-frocked scientists.
Thousands of prominent cancer and other medical researchers will rally in the nation’s capital Monday to protest federal funding cuts that began several years ago and were accelerated by additional forced reductions beginning to take effect under the congressionally mandated process of sequestration…
Influential scientists say the United States has fallen to 10th place in medical research spending as a percentage of its total economy, at a time when China, Britain, Singapore, India and other countries are increasing their investments. They say the pace of breakthroughs in lifesaving treatment of cancer, HIV/AIDS and other major diseases will be slowed unless the decline is reversed.
“The cuts in federal funding as they’re being put into play are unraveling one of the greatest biomedical-research enterprises in the history of the world,” said Edward J. Benz Jr., head of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School. “These kinds of draconian, across-the-board cuts are really cutting into the meat of what we do.”
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Money, Medicine and Myopia

(David Katz, M.D., Yale Prevention Research Center) [W]e have too little evidence to support the real-world utility of lifestyle-as-medicine approaches. That's true -- but it is a symptom of our medical myopia, not an excuse for it…
It's not just that we reimburse for surgery while neglecting non-medical approaches that could work as well or better. It's that our entire system of biomedical advance, and the investments that underlie it, favor the... well, biomedical.
What I mean is that the somewhat more than $30 billion annual budget of the National Institutes of Health is overwhelmingly directed at promoting basic science advances and clinical intervention trials. Another huge sum of money is provided by pharmaceutical and device companies to study -- you guessed it -- drugs and devices.
A vanishingly tiny portion of the NIH budget is allocated to figuring out how to turn what we already know into what we routinely do. Since what we already know would allow us to eliminate fully 80 percent or more of all chronic disease -- heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, dementia -- that seems a potentially serious oversight.
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How to Stop Diabetes From Starting

(Tamara Duker Freuman, MS, RD, CDN) [T]here are several established ways to delay—if not entirely prevent—the onset of diabetes in people with prediabetes… Here's how:
• Very moderate exercise… Research suggests that 2 1/2 hours per week of even leisurely physical activity—like brisk walking—is enough to significantly improve glucose tolerance…
• Very modest weight loss. Evidence suggests that it only takes about a 5 to 7 percent weight loss to delay by several years the onset of diabetes among overweight people with prediabetes…
• Curcumin supplements. Recent research out of Thailand … suggested that supplementing curcumin—the active ingredient in the bright yellow, anti-inflammatory spice turmeric—may be protective against diabetes among people with pre-diabetes.
Community: From The People’s Pharmacy : “The Proof about Cinnamon and Diabetes.” And there are many other practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize type 2 diabetes.
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Diet Improves Type 2 Diabetes, Not Bariatric Surgery

(Science Daily) Patients with type 2 diabetes who consume a diet identical to the strict regimen followed after bariatric surgery are just as likely to see a reduction in blood glucose levels as those who undergo surgery, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.
"For years, the question has been whether it is the bariatric surgery or a change in diet that causes the diabetes to improve so rapidly after surgery," said Dr. Ildiko Lingvay, assistant professor of internal medicine and first author of the study published online in Diabetes Care. "We found that the reduction of patients' caloric intake following bariatric surgery is what leads to the major improvements in diabetes, not the surgery itself."
Community: As we’ve seen. And there’s this, too: “Bacteria find is 'key to treating obesity without surgery'.” Also, there are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize type 2 diabetes.
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Our Internal Clocks Can Become Ticking Time Bombs for Diabetes and Obesity

(Science Daily) new research … used mice to show that proper sleep patterns are critical for healthy metabolic function, and even mild impairment in our circadian rhythms can lead to serious health consequences, including diabetes and obesity.
"We should acknowledge the unforeseen importance of our 24-hour rhythms for health," said Claudia Coomans, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work…
"The good news is that some of us can 'sleep it off' to avoid obesity and diabetes," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "The bad news is that we can all get the metabolic doldrums when our normal day/night cycle is disrupted."
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize type 2 diabetes.
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Decreased Melatonin Linked to Higher Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

(Science Daily) With previous evidence suggesting that melatonin may have a role in glucose metabolism, researchers have found an independent association between decreased secretion of melatonin and an increased risk for the development of type 2 diabetes, according to a study…
Women in the lowest category of melatonin secretion had an estimated diabetes incidence rate that was more than double that of women in the highest category…
"It is interesting to postulate from these data, in combination with prior literature, whether there is a causal role for reduced melatonin secretion in diabetes risk. Further studies are needed to determine whether increasing melatonin levels (endogenously via prolonged nighttime dark exposure or exogenously via supplementation) can increase insulin sensitivity and decrease the incidence of type 2 diabetes," the authors conclude.
Community: Melatonin is available as a dietary supplement. I take it as a sleep aid, so maybe it’s helping me stave off diabetes, too. And there are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize type 2 diabetes.
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More Recent Research on Diabetes

(Science Daily) The authors … found [a] higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome among women affected by breast cancer in postmenopause compared to healthy women. In the new study the scientists confirm their previous findings and expand on by zooming in the contribution of insulin resistance. When tissues become resistant to the action of insulin -- which occurs often in obese people -- a balancing mechanism further increases insulin production… [I]nsulin not only regulates glucose metabolism but has more functions such as stimulating cell proliferation and survival. Therefore the continuous activation of insulin pathways can contribute to cancer development by fuelling cancer cell growth.
(MedPage Today) Chronic kidney disease (CKD) may go undiagnosed in many patients with type 2 diabetes, researchers reported… Diabetes is a major risk factor for the development of CKD, but it often goes undiagnosed in primary care, despite recommendations to screen for markers of renal impairment, [Beth Piraino, MD] explained.
(MedPage Today) Vitamin D supplementation lessened the risk of complications with vascular access among dialysis patients with type 2 diabetes, researchers reported… In a retrospective study, treatment with ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) was associated with a significantly reduced risk of vascular access dysfunction in this population…, Karina Vasquez, MD, … and colleagues reported during a poster session at the National Kidney Foundation meeting here.
(Reuters Health) Computer and mobile phone programs that provide tailored advice and support to people with diabetes may not do much to improve their health and quality of life, a new report suggests… On average, people who used the programs saw a small improvement in their blood sugar levels compared to those without access. But other results - including effects on weight, cholesterol levels and quality of life - were more mixed.
(AP) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a first-of-its-kind diabetes drug from Johnson & Johnson that uses a new method to lower blood sugar—flushing it out in patients' urine. The agency cleared J&J's Invokana tablets for adults with Type 2 diabetes. The once-a-day medication works by blocking the kidneys from reabsorbing sugar, which occurs at higher levels in patients with diabetes than in healthy patients. Regulators highlighted the drug as the first in a new class of medications that could help address the growing U.S. diabetes epidemic.
(MedPage Today) An antibody against the cytokine interleukin-1 beta was safe, well tolerated, and had "modest" benefits in patients with type 2 diabetes, researchers reported. The findings, from an industry-sponsored phase II study, suggest that blocking the activity of the cytokine "holds promise" as an adjuvant therapy for diabetes, according to Joanne Sloan-Lancaster, PhD, of Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, and colleagues. But larger and longer studies will be needed to establish that promise as a therapeutic option, Sloan-Lancaster and colleagues cautioned.
(Science Daily) Bringing scientists a step closer to new treatments for diabetes, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and The Mount Sinai Medical Center have discovered a novel mechanism that regulates the replication of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas… Regenerating beta cells to restore insulin production has moved to center stage in the quest for therapies for both Type 1 and 2 diabetes, said lead author Nathalie Fiaschi-Taesch, Ph.D.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize type 2 diabetes.
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Halibut with Red Curry Sauce
Serve this Thai-inspired halibut dish for a quick and easy dinner in minutes. Soak up the delectable coconut-red curry sauce with a side of seasoned rice and bok choy.
Chipotle-&-Orange Grilled Chicken
Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce contribute a rich smokiness to this quick orange-infused barbecue sauce.
Cooking Light:
Cooking with Quinoa: 20 Recipes
High in protein and fiber, quinoa is not only versatile, it also tastes wonderful and has a nice crunch. Find 20 delicious recipes for cooking with this ancient whole grain.
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Hearty Alternative Whole Grains

(The Supermarket Guru) Whole grains, or foods made from them, contain all the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. They provide fiber, vitamin E, and minerals such as iron, zinc and magnesium.
The outer skin of the seed contains B vitamins, antioxidants and fiber-rich bran; the germ holds the protein, minerals and healthy fats; and the endosperm (the main part of the grain between the bran and the germ) contains protein, carbohydrates and smaller quantities of vitamins and minerals. The bran and germ contain 25 percent of the protein in whole grains and the majority of the nutrients. When highly processed, these valuable nutrients and proteins are lost - not to mention healthful fiber.
Some stellar examples of alternative whole grains include quinoa, sorghum, amaranth, teff, buckwheat, and millet.
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Verifying That Sorghum Is a New Safe Grain for People With Celiac Disease

(Science Daily) Strong new biochemical evidence exists showing that the cereal grain sorghum is a safe food for people with celiac disease, who must avoid wheat and certain other grains, scientists are reporting. Their study … includes molecular evidence that sorghum lacks the proteins toxic to people with celiac disease…
[The researchers] describe evidence from an analysis of the recently published sorghum genome, the complete set of genes in the plant, and other sources, that verify the absence of gluten proteins. The authors also report that sorghum has high nutritional value. "Food-grade sorghums should be considered as an important option for all people, especially celiac patients," the report concluded.
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Prebiotics, the Key to Probiotic Success

(The Supermarket Guru) We’ve all heard a ton about probiotics (more here), especially those found in yogurt (with live and active cultures), and how consuming foods with probiotics can help replace and replenish these good bacteria, but we haven’t really heard much about prebiotics which are essential to the proper functioning of probiotics.
Prebiotics are the substances in foods that promote the growth and feed the healthy bacteria. The most prevalent forms of prebiotics are soluble fibers. Our bodies cannot digest prebiotics, but the good (lactic acid) bacteria in our gut can digest them for energy. Once digested, the products are used to support the intestinal walls as well as the growth of beneficial bacteria. Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are prebiotics widely available in plant foods.
They are found in many fruits and vegetables, including: broccoli, kale, green cabbage, onions, leeks, garlic, artichoke, bananas, oranges, whole wheat, oats, barley, rye, chicory root, flax, and berries.
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More Support for 'Less Salt, More Potassium'

(MedPage Today) The idea that reducing salt intake -- and increasing potassium intake -- can lower blood pressure and improve disease outcomes has received additional support from three systematic reviews.
In a Cochrane review, modestly reducing salt intake was associated with an average blood pressure reduction of 4.18/2.06 mm Hg…, as reported by Feng He, MBBS, PhD, … and colleagues.
That finding was consistent with the results of another review … reported by Nancy Aburto, PhD, of the United Nations World Food Program, and colleagues, which showed that reduced salt intake was associated with an average blood pressure reduction of 3.39/1.54 mm Hg, as well as lower risks of stroke and mortality from stroke and coronary heart disease.
And in a third review, also for the WHO by Aburto's group, greater potassium intake was associated with an average blood pressure reduction of 3.49/1.96 mm Hg, though the relationship was significant only among hypertensive individuals.
Community: Finally, researchers are beginning to consider potassium intake when they talk about salt intake.
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Which States Have the Highest Hypertension Rates?

(MyHealthNewsDaily) One-third of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, but the rate varies widely from state to state, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The state with the highest percentage of adults who said they have high blood pressure is Mississippi, with 35.9 percent. Minnesota has the lowest rate, with 20.9 percent of respondents saying they had high blood pressure. In general, states in the South had the highest rates, and states in the West had the lowest rates.
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Vaccination: Protect yourself, protect others

(HHS HealthBeat) Be a friend and get vaccinated. How is that friendly? Well, when you get vaccinated, you’re protecting others from disease. Not just kids. Adults need vaccines too.
Dr. Bruce Gellin is the Director of the National Vaccine Program Office at HHS.
“The more people who are protected by a vaccination in a community, the less any disease can take off. By vaccinating yourself, not only are you protecting yourself, but you are protecting your family and your neighborhood.”
The HealthMap Vaccine Finder makes it easy for you to identify which vaccines you need and where you can find them. You can find the finder on vaccines.gov, where you’ll also find trustworthy information on vaccines.
Vaccines.gov is a good place to go to get started. It can refer you to sources that we rely on.”
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Shanghai closing all live poultry markets as China avian flu toll rises to 6

(CNN) Chinese authorities have killed more than 20,000 birds from a live-poultry trading zone in Shanghai after an unusual strain of bird flu that has so far killed six people in the country was found in pigeons on sale in the city, state-run media outlet Xinhua reported Friday.
Details of the slaughter of chickens, ducks, geese and pigeons come as the city prepares to temporarily close all its live poultry markets. It wasn't clear how long the market closures -- announced Friday on the Shanghai Municipal Government's microblog account -- would last.
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Wild Mice Have Natural Protection Against Lyme Borreliosis

(Science Daily) Springtime spells tick-time. Lyme borreliosis is the most common tick-borne disease in Switzerland: around 10,000 people a year become infected with the pathogen. The actual hosts for Borrelia, however, are wild mice. Like in humans, the pathogen is also transmitted by ticks in mice.
Interestingly, not all mice are equally susceptible to the bacterium and individual animals are immune to the pathogen. Scientists from the universities of Zurich and Lund headed by evolutionary biologist Barbara Tschirren reveal that the difference in vulnerability among the animals is genetic in origin…
The researchers discovered that mice with a particular variant of the antigen receptor TLR2 were around three times less susceptible to Borrelia. "The immune system of mice with this receptor variant recognizes the pathogen better and can trigger an immune response more quickly to destroy the Borreliain time," says Tschirren. Infected mice exhibit similar symptoms to humans -- especially joint complaints. Consequently, in the wild infected mice probably do not survive for very long and weakened animals soon fall victim to foxes and birds of prey.
Community: This discovery may help in finding a vaccine.
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Sequester Blues

(Medicare NewsGroup) When the budget ax swung Monday, hospitals, doctors, insurers, prescription drug plans, graduate medical education and other health care providers were on the chopping block… Providers face 2 percent cuts, known as sequester, to their Medicare reimbursements. The cuts will reduce Medicare payments by $11 billion a year, the White House estimated.
(The Hill) The Obama administration is about to face a deluge of intense, bipartisan pressure to reverse Medicare cuts that are threatening cancer patients’ access to treatment. About 50 congressional offices, from both parties, have already offered to lobby the administration over cuts to cancer treatment clinics. The cuts … were imposed this week as part of the automatic spending reductions known as sequestration.
(Scientific American) Deep federal budget cuts, which kicked in on March 1 after Congress failed to reach a budget compromise, are already forcing scientists to scale back their research and look elsewhere for funding. Fewer dollars will mean fewer research projects, layoffs among scientists and cuts to equipment, all of which could influence scientific and medical advances and ultimately affect patient care.
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Senator finds hospitals profit from discounted drugs

(UPI) U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said hundreds of U.S. hospitals receive deep discounts on outpatient drugs under the rapidly growing federal program 340B, which requires drug manufacturers to cut prices to hospitals treating large numbers of low-income patients.
Grassley told The Charlotte Observer as part of his inquiry he found last year Duke University Hospital purchased $65.8 million in drugs via the discount program, which saved $48.3 million, but then sold the drugs to patients for $135.5 million, for a profit of $69.7 million…
"These numbers paint a very stark picture of how hospitals are reaping sizable 340B discounts on drugs and then turning around and up-selling them to fully insured patients ... in order to maximize their spread," Grassley wrote in a letter last week to the administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, the federal agency that oversees the drug program, the Observer reported.
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Immigrant Docs Help Ease California's Primary Care Shortage

(Kaiser Health News) A quarter of U.S. doctors are foreign-born, mostly from countries like India that focus on training ­­medical students to work in the U.S.  Many other immigrant physicians never become American doctors, particularly those who come from Latin American countries…
But a program at the University of California is seeking to change that, while at the same time helping to address the shortage of primary care doctors in the state. The UCLA International Medical Graduate Program offers Latino doctors a stipend along with board preparation classes, mentorship and references to help them find a good residency slot in primary care. In return, the doctors pledge to work in an underserved area of California for two or three years.
The program at UCLA was founded by Dr. Patrick Dowling and Dr. Michelle Bholat to help address the shortage of primary care doctors in the state, and a particular shortage of doctors of Latin American heritage. Though about 40 percent of the state’s population is Hispanic, only 5 percent of its doctors are.
Community: As one of my favorite economists, Dean Baker, has long advocated.
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Why Walgreens' Decision To Provide Primary Care Is A Glimpse Into The Future Of U.S. Health Care

(ThinkProgress) On Thursday morning, Walgreens became the first-ever chain retailer to announce that it would become a direct provider of primary care services, moving beyond the pharmacy’s current practice of administering vaccinations to diagnosing and treating Americans with asthma, diabetes, and high cholesterol. The decision holds particular promise for Americans suffering from chronic conditions by giving them an easily-accessible “medical home” for managing illnesses that require preventative or ongoing care — and it might just herald the future of the American health care industry.
Walgreens has been planning something along these lines for some time now. In January, the company announced that it would be launching its own take on Obamacare’s Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) — coordinated arrangements in which normally stratified health workers collaborate to provide better patient care while lowering costs — in an effort to become “care extenders” that implement the plans drawn up by physicians…
The cynically-minded may point out that there’s a financial motivation to all this, as Walgreens’ main revenue source is its pharmacies, where the costs of generic versions for prescription drugs are considerably higher than at independent, online, and wholesale retailers. Still, this shift would provide substantially added value to purchasing those drugs at Walgreens chains by eliminating the need for a hospital trip, and the idea of an ubiquitous source of cheap primary care should excite health reform advocates, as the planned coordination model is exactly the sort of innovation that reformers and Obamacare are hoping will take root.
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Will Allergies Be Worse in 2013?

(MyHealthNewsDaily) As the weather warms and plant pollination begins this spring, allergy sufferers are likely to feel worse than in past years. Unfortunately, a number of environmental factors are likely to keep the pattern of worsening allergies around in the coming years.
Experts say that an earlier arrival of spring and a longer growing season, along with increased precipitation and humidity from storms, will all potentially contribute to the increased presence and persistence of allergens.
"For the year 2020, it looks realistic to say pollen counts will increase by 20 percent," said Dr. Leonard Bielory, an allergy specialist.
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