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

How Coffee, Citrus And Nuts Help Cut The Risk Of Diabetes

(The Salt, NPR) As we've reported, recent studies have found that people who drink coffee regularly are at lower risk of depression, and perhaps Alzheimer's too.
Now, there's further evidence that coffee also helps cut the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. In the most recent meta-analysis, researchers found that drinking two or more cups of coffee per day was associated with a 12 percent decreased risk of developing the disease. And even decaffeinated coffee seemed to cut the risk, though not as much as the caffeinated kind…
But man cannot live on coffee alone. So what other foods may help decrease risk of Type 2 diabetes — or help people manage the condition if they've already been diagnosed?
The American Diabetes Association has a list.
Not surprisingly, beans and leafy greens are at the top of the list. In addition to being a cheap source of protein, beans contain key nutrients such as potassium and magnesium, which has been shown to help regulate blood sugar.
Also on the list are citrus and berries, which are loaded with polyphenols and fiber. Nuts, as we've reported, can help control appetites and also are a good source of magnesium. Sweet potatoes make the list. Compared to white potatoes, sweet potatoes contain lots of vitamin A and fiber.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the effects of diabetes.
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Higher Dietary Acid Load Increases Risk of Diabetes, Study Says

(Science Daily) A study of more than 60 000 women has shown that higher overall acidity of the diet, regardless of the individual foods making up that diet, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes…
A western diet rich in animal products and other acidogenic foods can induce an acid load that is not compensated for by fruit and vegetables; this can cause chronic metabolic acidosis and lead to metabolic complications. Most importantly from a blood-sugar control perspective, increasing acidosis can reduce the ability of insulin to bind at appropriate receptors in the body, and reduce insulin sensitivity. With this in mind, the authors decided to analyse whether increased acidosis caused by dietary acid loads increased the risk of type 2 diabetes…
[The authors] conclude: "We have demonstrated for the first time in a large prospective study that dietary acid load was positively associated with type 2 diabetes risk, independently of other known risk factors for diabetes. Our results need to be validated in other populations, and may lead to promotion of diets with a low acid load for the prevention of diabetes. Further research is required on the underlying mechanisms."
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the effects of diabetes.
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6 Things To Know About Type 2 Diabetes and Dietary Supplements

(National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) Diabetes is a group of chronic diseases that affect metabolism—the way the body uses food for energy and growth. Millions of people have diabetes, which can lead to serious health problems if it is not managed well.
Conventional medical treatments and following a healthy lifestyle, including watching your weight, can help you prevent, manage, and control many complications of diabetes. Researchers are studying several complementary health approaches, including dietary supplements, to see if they can help people manage type 2 diabetes or lower their risk of developing the disease; however, there is currently not enough scientific evidence to suggest that any dietary supplements can help prevent or manage type 2 diabetes.
Here are 6 things you should know about taking dietary supplements for type 2 diabetes.
A healthy diet, physical activity, and blood glucose testing are the basic tools for managing type 2 diabetes…
Some dietary supplements may have side effects, including interacting with your diabetes treatment or increasing your risk of kidney problems…
Chromium (an essential trace mineral found in many foods) has been studied for preventing diabetes and controlling glucose levels, but research has found it has few or no benefits…
There is no evidence that magnesium helps to manage diabetes; however research suggests that people with lower magnesium intake may have a greater risk of developing diabetes…
There is no strong evidence that herbs and other dietary supplements, including cinnamon and omega-3s, can help to control diabetes or its complications…
Talk with your health care provider before considering any dietary supplement for yourself, particularly if you are pregnant or nursing, or for a child.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the effects of diabetes.
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Diabetes: Risk Factors, Prevention, and Management

(USA.gov Team, via email) More than 8% of Americans have diabetes and about 35% of American adults have prediabetes. Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal. Without healthy lifestyle changes, those with prediabetes may develop diabetes.
To protect your health, get information about:
Risk Factors - Family history, blood pressure, and other factors can affect your chances of developing diabetes. Take a quick test to learn your level of risk.
Prevention - The onset of Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be prevented or delayed through moderate weight loss, good nutrition, and exercise.
How to Manage Diabetes - If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, learn how to stay healthy and keep the disease under control.
Statistics - Get some basic facts, including the prevalence of Type 1 versus Type 2 diabetes.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the effects of diabetes.
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More Information and Recent Research on Diabetes

The world is losing the battle against diabetes as the number of people estimated to be living with the disease soars to a new record of 382 million this year, medical experts said on Thursday… The latest estimate from the International Diabetes Federation is equivalent to a global prevalence rate of 8.4 percent of the adult population and compares to 371 million cases in 2012. By 2035, the organization predicts the number of cases will have soared by 55 percent to 592 million.
(Science Daily) The list of complications from type 2 diabetes is long: vascular and heart disease, eye problems, nerve damage, kidney disease, hearing problems and Alzheimer’s disease. Physicians have long thought of osteoporosis as another outcome. Based on a Mayo Clinic study…, that’s confirmed: You can definitely add skeletal problems to that list.
(Science Daily) Diabetic patients treated in the emergency department who were enrolled in a program in which they received automated daily text messages improved their level of control over their diabetes and their medication adherence, according to a study…
The text messaging program, called TExT-MED, included daily motivational messages such as "Having diabetes can lead to a heart attack or stroke -- but it doesn't have to" and "Eat more fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains and less salt and fat." In addition, it provided three medication reminders per week, two healthy living challenges per week and two trivia questions per week, designed to build diabetes awareness (sample: "Trivia" Eating too much sugar and other sweet foods is a cause of diabetes. A. True. B. False.").
(National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) [We are] each other’s best resource. Preventing type 2 diabetes and managing diabetes involves the entire family. Cook a balanced meal. Share a brisk walk. Talk with your family about your health and your family’s diabetes risk. Schools, work sites and places of worship can also be part of the diabetes prevention and management solution. What we can do alone to fight diabetes and its consequences, we can do so much more effectively together.
(MedPage Today) Treatment with the weight-loss drug Qsymia appeared to help pre-diabetic and diabetic patients shed pounds and improve dysglycemia, researchers said… After 56 weeks of treatment with extended-release phentermine/topiramate (Qsymia), obese/overweight individuals, with and without diagnosed type 2 diabetes, experienced a mean percent weight loss ranging from 6.8% to 8.9% with a low-dose regimen, and 8.8% to 11% with a high-dose regimen…
Also, among type 2 diabetes patients, there was an average 1.6% decrease in glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) from baseline to week 56 of treatment compared with a 1.2% reduction for patients on placebo.
(Science Daily) In recent years, the link between type 2 diabetes and dementia has become widely recognized. Older individuals with diabetes develop Alzheimer’s disease at an earlier age, and are more likely to develop vascular dementia than people who do not have diabetes. Now, a small proof-of-concept study … show[s] that a single dose of intranasal insulin can help improve cognitive function in patients with diabetes.
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Split-Pea Soup
This split-pea soup is a hearty meal that satisfies on chilly nights.  Serve with crusty, buttered bread.
Slow-Cooker Black Bean-Mushroom Chili
Black beans, earthy mushrooms and tangy tomatillos combine with a variety of spices and smoky chipotles to create a fantastic full-flavored chili. It can simmer in the slow cooker all day, which makes it perfect for a healthy supper when the end of your day is rushed.
Mediterranean Foods Alliance:
Savory Sun Dried Tomato Bread Pudding
This savory bread pudding satisfies the desire for a stuffing or dressing on the table, but packs a Mediterranean punch with the addition of sun dried tomatoes.
Pan-Seared Sirloin Steaks with Fiery Pepper Sauce
This quick dinner is sure to draw rave reviews. After the steaks are cooked to the desired doneness (we suggest medium-rare), they're topped with a spicy, cumin-scented sauce made with cilantro, scallions, and smoky chipotle chile in adobo. Serve the steaks with a big tossed salad and some steamed vegetables.
Cooking Light:
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You Can Help Cut Acrylamide in Your Diet

(FDA.gov) Cutting down on certain fried foods can also help you cut down on the amount of acrylamide you eat. That's a good thing because high levels of acrylamide have been found to cause cancer in animals, and on that basis scientists believe it is likely to cause cancer in humans as well.
FDA chemist Lauren Robin explains that acrylamide is a chemical that can form in some foods—mainly plant-based foods—during high-temperature cooking processes like frying and baking. These include potatoes, cereals, coffee, crackers or breads, dried fruits and many other foods. According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, acrylamide is found in 40 percent of the calories consumed in the average American diet…
[H]ere are some steps you can take to help decrease the amount of acrylamide that you and your family consume:
·         Frying causes acrylamide formation. If frying frozen fries, follow manufacturers' recommendations on time and temperature and avoid overcooking, heavy crisping or burning.
·         Toast bread to a light brown color rather than a dark brown color. Avoid very brown areas.
·         Cook cut potato products such as frozen french fries to a golden yellow color rather than a brown color. Brown areas tend to contain more acrylamide.
·         Do not store potatoes in the refrigerator, which can increase acrylamide during cooking. Keep potatoes outside the refrigerator in a dark, cool place, such as a closet or a pantry.
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Higher Prices, Plain Labeling Cut Soda Sales

(MedPage Today) Increasing the price and labeling "high-calorie" beverages as such decreased sales of sugar-sweetened, high-calorie drinks, a researcher reported…
A 1-cent increase per ounce in the cost of high-calorie beverages led to a 16% decrease in sales of these non-nutritious drinks, which was accompanied by a 26% increase in sales of noncaloric beverages over a 3-month period, said Jason P. Block, MD…
In a press release, Patrick O'Neil, PhD, … commented, "This study suggests that small adjustments in presentation or pricing may have an outsize positive effect on consumer behavior." "We need more research like this to provide an evidence base for health advocates and policymakers, among many others who are working to encourage healthier choices," said O'Neil
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Menu Site Makes It Easy To Compare Restaurant Fat Stats

(The Salt, NPR) New York City became a leader in pushing restaurants to be more transparent when it required calorie counts on menus in 2006. Now the city's health department has developed a new tool for those who'd like even more detailed information about restaurant food.
MenuStat, launched Thursday, aggregates information about the calories, fat, sodium and more in over 35,000 menu items at major chain restaurants like KFC, Pizza Hut and Qdoba. It also allows users to compare items from different restaurants and see how they have changed, nutritionally, over time.
The concept isn't new. MenuStat pulls its information from data on 66 restaurant websites that's already publicly available. (Sites like Eat This Not That and MyFitnessPal already do this, too.)
But Christine Johnson, acting assistant commissioner for the department's Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention and Tobacco Control, says the tool is unique in that it tracks how the top 100 restaurants by sales change their dishes year-to-year.
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Enrollment in SNAP Does Not Substantially Improve Food Security, Dietary Quality

(Science News) Millions of families in the United States struggle to provide nutritionally adequate meals due to insufficient money or other resources. To combat food security issues, over one in seven Americans currently rely upon the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the largest federal nutrition program, to provide monetary support for nutrition.
In the past, SNAP has been shown to reduce poverty among the poorest Americans and generate economic activity. However, according to a new study from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health…, SNAP benefits alone may not be enough to provide its beneficiaries with the long-term food security or dietary quality they need.
"After participating in SNAP for a few months, a substantial proportion of SNAP participants still reported marginal, low, or very low food security, which suggests that SNAP could do more to adequately address the problem of food insecurity," according to lead investigator, Dr. Eric Rimm… "Although one might hypothesize that the provision of SNAP benefits would result in the purchase and consumption of healthy foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, whole grains), there was no appreciable improvement in dietary quality among SNAP participants after the initiation of benefits."
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

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Allergy Control: Vitamin B Benefits

(Sharecare.com) Could better allergy control come from a vitamin bottle?
Maybe. A new study suggests vitamin B9, also known as folate, may help improve your immune system's ability to stand up to common allergens.
A national health survey of over 8,000 people revealed that higher blood levels of folate were often coupled with less severe reactions to common allergens.
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Putting the Brakes on Immunity

(Science Daily) The immune system is a double-edged sword. While its primary role is to fight infections, it can also become overactive, leading to problems like allergies and autoimmune diseases…
Now a study … has found a mechanism that pushes eosinophils to die before they get into the blood and wreak havoc. The discovery is a breakthrough in science's understanding of the immune system and suggests powerful new treatments for eosinophilic diseases such as asthma.
"We've discovered an important and powerful pathway that works to kill eosinophils," says Dr. [Ariel] Munitz. "The fundamental knowledge we have gained may one day yield even bigger results and therapies."
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Academics linked to drug industry 'exaggerated' swine flu risk

(Medical News Today) New research published in the BMJ has suggested that academics with links to the pharmaceutical industry were more likely to give increased risk assessments of the swine flu pandemic of 2009/10 when talking to the media, compared with academics who were not linked to the pharmaceutical industry…
Of the 61 academics who were quoted, 18 (30%) were found to have competing interests.
The academics made 74 risk assessments in the articles. Of these, almost 60% were higher than risk assessments made by official agencies, such as the Department of Health, within the same article.
The analysis revealed that 35 of these academic risk assessments were made by individuals with competing interests.
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The High Cost of Terminal Illness: Big Pharma Cashes In on Hope

(Kevin R. Campbell, MD, FACC) This week in the New York Times, I was troubled by a story touting the release and FDA approval of a new drug for the treatment of a particular type of aggressive blood cancer known as mantle cell lymphoma.  Mantle cell carcinoma has a very poor prognosis and is very difficult to treat.  This new drug has been shown to help treat the disease but offers no cure.  Most patient who start therapy with the drug see 1.5 years of good results but then no longer respond.  For cancer patients time is everything–however the issue with this particular drug is the shiny new price tag–$120K annually…
Doctors who specialize in the treatment of cancers are concerned about the astronomical prices…  It seems to me that for pharmaceutical makers the cost is based on what the market will bear–given no limits for cost, they are free to charge whatever they like.  It is disturbing that those that make potentially life changing (and potentially life extending) therapies profit from the hopelessness and desperation of those suffering with a terminal illness such as rare and advanced cancers.  To me, it is reminiscent of the carpetbaggers after the Civil War. 
Why is it that physician payments are dictated by bureaucrats–Medicare, Medicaid, CMS and the insurance companies?  Why is it that hospital reimbursement  is dictated by the same?   In the same breath, politicians and others allow pharmaceutical makers to dictate their own terms as to the cost of their product.  Are there hands reaching into deep pockets?
Community: Follow the money.
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How We Can Stop Hospitals From Over-Billing

(David Belk, M.D.) On Sept. 3, 2012, Jeff Kortan was involved in a bicycle accident and was taken by ambulance to Mercy San Juan Hospital in Sacramento, Calif. Fortunately, he wasn't seriously injured. He was treated in the emergency room, where he got a CT scan, a tetanus shot and five stitches for a cut on his scalp then was sent home. His emergency room visit lasted just under an hour.
As is often the case, the problems really began for the Kortans about two months later when they received a bill from Mercy San Juan's ER for $31,613. That was just the ER bill. The ambulance and the emergency room doctor billed them separately. The Kortans don't have insurance, so they were responsible for the full bill. After a year of haggling with Mercy San Juan, they managed to have that bill reduced to about $18,000 -- for a one-hour emergency room visit and five stitches.
Stories like this shouldn't be new to anyone by now…
Hospitals over-bill. And because hospitals routinely over-bill people's worlds can be upended over the "cost" of treating a simple cut. An insurance company would almost never be held to such an outrageous charge. In fact, much of what health insurance companies offer now isn't payment for services, but rather "protection" from over-billing.
We frequently hear of these horror stories and think, "isn't there some way to stop this?" Well, as it turns out, there is. In one state -- Maryland -- it's already been stopped, and it's been stopped for nearly 40 years now. In 1971, the State of Maryland established a Health Services Cost Review Commission. This commission has put a cap on how much Maryland hospitals can bill for any of the services they provide since 1977…
For years now there's been a huge national debate, and little agreement, about how we can pay for all of our skyrocketing health care costs. I think there's one thing everyone should agree on though: No matter how we end up paying for our health care, we can afford a lot more of it once we stop being overcharged so much for what we're getting.
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Nearly 1,500 Hospitals Penalized Under Medicare Program Rating Quality

(Kaiser Health News) More hospitals are receiving penalties than bonuses in the second year of Medicare’s quality incentive program, and the average penalty is steeper than it was last year, government records show.
Medicare has raised payment rates to 1,231 hospitals based on two-dozen quality measurements, including surveys of patient satisfaction and—for the first time—death rates. Another 1,451 hospitals are being paid less for each Medicare patient they treat…
The bonuses and penalties are one piece of the health care law’s efforts to create financial incentives for doctors and hospitals to provide better care. They come at a tumultuous time as the technical problems of the healthcare.gov insurance portal and premium prices are stoking questions about the law’s viability. The incentives are among the law’s few cost-control provisions that have kicked in, but it is too early to tell how effective they will be in making hospitals operate more efficiently.
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Affordable Care Act News

(UPI) The U.S. health insurance Marketplace -- HealthCare.gov -- was stable all week, with no unscheduled outages, President Obama's adviser said.
(Consumer Reports) In the first month of operation of the state Health Insurance Marketplaces, nearly 400,000 visitors learned they were eligible for free or nearly-free health coverage from one of these government-funded programs. About 183,000 managed to learn this by going through HealthCare.gov, the troubled (but improving, the government says) site that handles enrollment for 36 states that declined to set up their own marketplaces. The number includes many people who have been eligible for these programs all along but didn’t know it.
(Kaiser Health News) President Barack Obama's one-year plan to allow insurers to keep Americans on plans previously cancelled under the health law's new standards faces several questions in implementation: Will insurers, customers and state regulators will go along? Also, The Wall Street Journal reports that the move could pave the way for the insurance plans to be extended beyond 2014.
Community: Fine. Extend them indefinitely. More and more people will investigate alternatives, and some will find out what Wendell Potter’s friend found out, below. These substandard plans will disappear for lack of participation.
(Wendell Potter, former CIGNA executive) My heart sank when I got an email late last month from my friend Robert, who has been battling multiple sclerosis for the past decade. He wrote to tell me that he was among the many Americans who in recent weeks received letters from their insurance companies saying that their policies won’t be available next year… He decided to call an insurance agent and talk to a real live human being about his options for next year.
He could barely believe what he heard: he could get better coverage than the policy being discontinued — and pay less — thanks to Obamacare… Robert is among many who are losing their current coverage but in the end will be better off. In fact, considering that many folks buying coverage on the individual market have at least one pre-existing condition — which insurers can no longer take into consideration when pricing their policies — it’s likely that more people will get more for their insurance buck next year than less.
(ThinkProgress) Republicans used a technicality on Friday to prevent the House of Representatives from considering a measure that would have extended additional consumer protections to beneficiaries who remain in their existing individual health care plans.
(Kaiser Health News) Florida's insurance commissioner said he will allow insurers to adopt President Obama’s plan to extend current policies.
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To Reduce Stroke Risk, Take a Hike

(MedPage Today) Older men who want to reduce their risk of stroke should add a long walk to their daily routine, a new study found.
Among community-dwelling elderly men, the research showed a weak, nonsignificant inverse association between total leisure time physical activity and stroke, but a strong inverse, dose-response relationship between time spent walking and stroke risk.
The association was independent of walking pace, activity level and established and novel stroke risk factors, Barbara J. Jefferis, PhD, … and colleagues, wrote…
Men who walked eight to 14 hours each week had about a one-third lower risk of stroke compared to men who walked no more than three hours a week or did not walk at all, and the risk was about two-thirds lower for men who walked more than 22 hours a week.
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Exercise May Allay Anxiety, Depression

(MedPage Today) Exercise may have modest benefits as a treatment for patients suffering from anxiety or depression, researchers reported…
In a review of meta-analyses and tens of thousands of patient data, exercise was shown to have a small effect on anxiety … and a modest effect on depression…, according to Henning Budde, PhD, … and colleagues. "Exercise training induces similar processes, as they were observed, with medical treatment," Budde said…
Previous research on the link between exercise and depression has been mixed.
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Aerobic Exercise Improves Memory, Brain Function

(Science Daily) A new study … found that engaging in a physical exercise regimen helps healthy aging adults improve their memory, brain health and physical fitness. This finding is significant considering that among adults 50 and older, "staying mentally sharp" outranks social security and physical health as the top priority and concern in the United States.
"Science has shown that aging decreases mental efficiency and memory decline is the number one cognitive complaint of older adults," said Sandra Bond Chapman, Ph.D., … lead author of the paper. "This research shows the tremendous benefit of aerobic exercise on a person's memory and demonstrates that aerobic exercise can reduce both the biological and cognitive consequences of aging."…
"Physical exercise may be one of the most beneficial and cost-effective therapies widely available to everyone to elevate memory performance," Chapman said. "These findings should motivate adults of all ages to start exercising aerobically."
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When to Exercise: Timing Is Everything

(Paul Spector, M.D.) Exercise after the largest meal of the day will give the most bang for the buck. Light physical activity for 30 minutes after eating has been shown to have an acute blood glucose reducing effect similar in magnitude to diabetes medications.
It is important to make clear however that this will not suffice. Exercise, as we know it, (even a daily one hour bout of a mix of aerobic and strength training) does not prevent prolonged sitting from causing disease. Unfortunately, it's what we do the other 23 hours of the day that make the difference.
Therefore, regular brief activity breaks throughout the day are necessary to maintain insulin sensitivity and prevent hyperglycemic damage. Walking for as little as one to two minutes every half hour has been shown to achieve this.
This should come as good news. You don't need money. You don't need a gym. You don't need equipment. You don't need another person. For a remarkably small investment of time you can dramatically lower your risk for the most common diseases of our time.
Community: Any amount and timing of exercise, however, is better than none at all.
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More Information and Recent Research on Exercise and Fitness

(Reuters Health) Older adults who exercise are less likely to fall, but if they do, they're also less likely to get hurt, a new analysis suggests.
(Alexis Abramson, Ph.D.) Menopause can be a difficult time in a woman's life -- both emotionally and physically. Fortunately, a program consisting of regular exercise can help enhance your life and improve your overall well-being.
(MedPage Today) Individuals who vigorously exercise significantly reduce the odds that they will have high levels of C-reactive protein -- a marker of inflammation in the body, researchers reported… If a person exercised vigorously less than 500 MET (metabolic equivalents) per week, there was a 27% reduction in the odds of having elevated C-reactive protein levels … when compared with non-exercisers, said lead author Michael Richardson, BSH.
(NBC News) Running, walking and other forms of activity can help people shake off the symptom of depression. Now, a new study … suggests that exercise may prevent the disorder later in life.
(Reuters Health) Some doctors caution people with heart failure against pushing themselves too hard physically. But a new analysis of past studies suggests heart patients may actually benefit more from relatively intensive exercise.
(Science Daily) Hippocampal atrophy seen in MS is linked to the memory deficits that affect approximately 50% of individuals with MS. Despite the prevalence of this disabling symptom, there are no effective pharmacological or behavioral treatments. "Aerobic exercise may be the first effective treatment for MS patients with memory problems," noted Dr. [Victoria] Leavitt… "Moreover, aerobic exercise has the advantages of being readily available, low cost, self-administered, and lacking in side effects." No beneficial effects were seen with non-aerobic exercise.
(LiveScience) If exercise isn't your idea of fun, maybe you should invite some friends: A new study suggests people enjoy physical activity more when they're with others.
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Chicken and Bacon Roll-Ups
Made hearty with shredded chicken, these easy sandwiches can be endlessly adapted to suit any taste. Substitute chopped fresh basil or chives for tarragon, use flavored wraps, or try an applewood-smoked bacon for a smoky punch
General Tso’s Chicken
In this healthy version of a General Tso’s Chicken recipe, we cut the fat and sodium in half from the original version by not frying the chicken and by using half as much soy sauce in this Chinese-takeout favorite. Serve with steamed baby bok choy or sautéed spinach and steamed brown rice.
Baked Salmon with Spinach and Couscous
In this one-dish meal, which takes just 25 minutes to make, salmon fillet and fresh baby spinach bake on a bed of gluten-free brown rice couscous. Seasoned with tarragon and fresh lemon juice, this simple dinner is sure to become a family favorite.
Appetite for Health:
Roasted Butternut Squash and Israeli Couscous
This wonderful holiday side-dish combines a trio of all-natural superfoods–butternut squash, Swiss chard and pomegranates–with the orzo-like Israeli couscous.  Not only is this recipe good-for-you, it’s delicious and will be sure to impress your family or guests.
Cooking Light:
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Probiotics Reduce Piglet Pathogens

(Science Daily) Piglets fed probiotic Enterococcus faecium showed reduced numbers of potentially pathogenic Escherichia coli strains in their intestines, according to a team of German researchers. The research is important, because in 2006 the European Union prohibited the feeding of antibiotics to livestock as growth promoters. Therefore, the research team sought to investigate whether probiotics could substitute for antibiotics, by reducing pathogen populations in the intestines, says first author Carmen Bednorz…
Antimicrobials are thought to promote growth in industrially grown livestock because without them, the rationale goes, in such close quarters, a surfeit of pathogens would slow growth. "Our data suggest that the feeding of probiotics could substitute for antimicrobials as growth promoters," says Bednorz. "This could help to reduce the burden of antimicrobial resistance," she adds.
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Are Probiotics a Promising Treatment Strategy for Depression?

(Science Daily) Probiotics are live bacteria that help maintain a healthy digestive system. The development and marketing of products that contain live bacteria has flourished as there is a growing perceived interest in the ingestion of 'natural foods' that might promote health.
Many of the numerous health-improvement claims have yet to be supported scientifically, but these micro-organisms do exert positive effects in intestinal tracts, particularly when used to counteract the effects of antibiotics, which kill both 'bad' and 'good' bacteria…
The authors of a new review…,Timothy Dinan and his colleagues…, define a psychobiotic as "a live organism that, when ingested in adequate amounts, produces a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illness."
They review the evidence that these bacteria, when ingested in adequate amounts, offer enormous potential for the treatment of depression and other stress-related disorders…
Some psychobiotics have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. This is important because depression and stress are both associated with inflammation in the body.
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3 Dietary Changes to Make Before You Start an Antidepressant

(Kelly Brogan, M.D.) You feel at the end of your rope -- foggy, tired, irritable, flat, and constantly worried. About. Everything. It seems like the world is coming at you, every pixel of it, at 1 million miles per hour, and you just need to press pause, but you can't. Your internist recommends that you see a psychiatrist, you make an appointment, and after 45 minutes, you leave with a Lexapro prescription. Before you walk it over to CVS, try these three dietary changes for 2-4 weeks. See what happens:
1. Eliminate GMOs
Genetically-modified foods are chemical/biological products that are laced and saturated with complex toxic herbicides, and because they are largely unstudied by objective researchers, we are only now beginning to understand how they do their damage, and the relevance of the gut to mental health…
2. Eliminate Gluten
The neurologic effects of gluten intolerance include depression, seizures, headaches, multiple sclerosis/demyelination, anxiety, ADHD, ataxia, neuropathy as discussed here and here
3. Eliminate Sugar
We simply were not built to manage the 22 teaspoons daily that many of us ingest daily, and the havoc wreaked on our immune systems and hormones is evidence of its toxicity. Clinically, dysglycemia or sugar imbalance can look like depression, panic disorder, and even bipolar.
These are my top three brain sabotaging concerns, and there are more where these came from. Do not underestimate the power of your diet to influence your mental health and to lead you down a path of psychiatric care you may struggle to return from.
Community: I’m not sure the evidence is conclusive that GMOs are harmful, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to eliminate them.
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The High Cost of Cheap Food

(Ryan Andrews, MA, MS, RD, Appetite for Health) One of my favorite things in 1996: The 99 cent burritos at Taco Bell. Early in high school I could get three of those and be set for lunch. Three dollars for lunch is cheap.
But wait, was it really?
Let me paraphrase Michael Pollan here: Cheap food is an illusion, there’s no such thing. The real cost is paid somewhere. If we don’t pay at the cash register, we pay with our health, the environment, the animals, or the farm workers.
The more I experience in the world of nutrition, the more I understand this idea. The .99 cent burrito at Taco Bell is indeed cheap…at the cash register. But I’m quite confident that there is a price being paid somewhere.
·         Were field laborers who harvested the fresh produce in my meal paid a fair wage?
·         Did ingredients present in my meal come from places where mass deforestation has taken place to produce crops for mass consumption?
·         How much fertilizer was used to grow the crops and did it run-off into our lakes, rivers and streams? synthetic fertilizers that degrades topsoil
·         What type of feed and treatment did the animals receive?
Are you starting to get it?  There is no such thing as “cheap” food; the costs are just winding up somewhere else along the food chain.
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Cholesterol News

(Bloomberg) Millions of Americans going for an annual checkup in 2014 will come away from the doctor’s office with a new prescription to lower their cholesterol, a move cardiologists say will avert heart attacks and strokes.
(Science Daily) Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) is a relatively common cause of high cholesterol. Between one and 13 percent of patients with high cholesterol are thought to have hypothyroidism. Current guidelines recommend that patients newly diagnosed with high cholesterol should have a TSH blood test done to make sure they do not have hypothyroidism.
From The People’s Pharmacy:
(Reuters) Members of an experimental class of cholesterol-lowering drugs could get U.S. regulatory approval based on their ability to lower "bad" cholesterol, and may not need to show that they reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, the Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday. The statement eased industry concerns that the agency would require more onerous "outcome" studies before approving the drugs, known as PCSK9 inhibitors.
(Science Daily) RUCLA researchers report that tiny amounts of a specific type of lipid in the small intestine may play a greater role than previously thought in generating the high cholesterol levels and inflammation that lead to clogged arteries. The team also found they could reduce the negative effects of these lipids in mice by feeding the animals a new genetically engineered tomato being developed at UCLA that is designed to mimic HDL ("good") cholesterol.
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