Thursday, August 27, 2009

Yoga Promotes Mindful Eating

Source: (ScienceDaily)

Want to shed, and keep off, those extra pounds? Give yoga a try.


According to the latest findings from a four-year study, now published in the August edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, regularly practicing yoga can help prevent weight gain that can lead to obesity, and can help shed excess pounds in overweight or obese individuals. Yoga not only delivers a calorie-burning workout in and of itself, but it also incorporates meditation, which is what the researchers suspected was behind the weight control and maintenance found in individuals who regularly practiced yoga.


The researchers have come to the conclusion that the weight loss benefits of yoga are primarily thanks to the fact that individuals are taught to meditate and focus on their bodies, which teaches them to really pay attention to the foods that they consume. These individuals, they say, are more sensitive to hunger and appetite as they are more aware of their bodies.


Really interesting stuff! Find out more by reading the whole article, called "Regular Yoga Practice Is Associated With Mindful Eating", on ScienceDaily (Aug. 16, 2009).

Triathlons for Children: The Latest Trend

Source: (New York Times)

This is no joke, folks. If you want to be the coolest parent on the block you should sign your kids up for a triathlon this year - that is, if you can get them a spot in the competition.


Triathlons in general have been gaining popularity in the past few years (remember when JLo participated in the Malibu triathlon? After giving birth to twins, no less...) but children's triathlons are slowly taking over as the thing to do for kids. In fact, many of them are full before some kids can even sign up for the race. In 2008, USA Triathlon stated that it had 25,000 members under the age of 18, which had increased by 35% from 2006.


As an example of what a kid's triathlon entails, children 6 and under in the Silicon Valley Kids Triathlon swam 25 yards, biked one mile, then ran a quarter of a mile. Older kids might swim 200 yards (four laps in the pool), bike 6 miles, then run 1.25 miles (five laps around the track) all consecutively.


Do you think you could keep up? What do you think of these 'kid's triathlons'? To find out more, check out the article in it's entirety, entitled "See Jane Run, Bike and Swim" at from the New York Times, (August 26, 2009).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Low-Carb, High-Protein Diets linked to Heart Disease

Source: (ScienceDaily)

Low-carb, high-protein diets may play a role in a cascade of events that can result in higher incidences of cardiovascular disease, a new study suggests.


The study, published in the online version of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), explains that mice placed on modified diets which were lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein showed a marked increase in the buildup of plaques on their arteries, known as atherosclerosis, which is a leading cause of heart attack and stroke. In addition, these mice had an impaired ability to form new blood vessels in damaged, oxygen-starved tissues, such as those found in heart attack patients.


The exact mechanism by which these types of diets affect the heart and blood vessels is not yet known. The findings are rather unusual being that the mice in the study actually lost weight (and indeed most individuals do) and their cholesterol levels were not changed on this diet. The results are striking, nonetheless, but more investigation is necessary.


To find out more, check out the full details in the article called "Low-carb Diets Linked To Atherosclerosis And Impaired Blood Vessel Growth" from ScienceDaily (August 25, 2009)

Expanding Waistlines lead to Smaller Brains

Source: (HealthDay)

According to new research out of UCLA, for every excess pound of weight a person carries around on their frame, their brains get a little bit smaller.


The authors of the study explain that the mass of brain tissue in elderly individuals who were obese or overweight was markedly reduced compared to normal weight individuals. In fact, the brains of the overweight or obese individuals resembled those of individuals far older than they were, up to a whopping 16 years older, with significant tissue loss, especially in the frontal lobes which are responsible for decision making and memory functions.


Dr. Mitchell Roslin, chief of obesity surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, warns that this can have many serious and frightening consequences including the prospect of Alzheimer's disease. He explains, "Obesity affects every system in your body. The body can't be splintered. It's completely linked. We are what we eat and we eat too much,". "The bottom line is that an obese, sedentary person is going to have a breakdown of every organ system, and that includes a greater chance of impotence and infertility and other things that people don't generally think are directly related to obesity."


Read the entire article "As Waistlines Widen, Brains Shrink" from HealthDay (August 26, 2009)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Little Physical Activity Better than None

Source: Reuters Health

We've all used the excuse that we're too busy to exercise, but a new report in the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise may lead some to tighten their laces and get moving.


It's long been known that physically active individuals tend to lead longer lives, but according to this new report, little or no physical activity actually shortens the lifespan; being active allows us to live longer lives because of the health-promoting and disease-fighting role of physical activity regardless of our current weight or health complications.


The study, of nearly 4,400 healthy U.S. adults, found that the roughly 20 percent with the lowest physical fitness levels were twice as likely to die over the next nine years as the 20 percent with the next-lowest fitness levels. Even modest amounts of physical activity, such as 30 minutes of brisk walking, 5 days per week is enough to make a difference.


Get the whole scoop by reading the article "Even modest fitness may extend lifespan" from Reuters Health, Friday, August 21, 2009.

Average American Consumes 22 Teaspoons of Sugar per Day

Source: (MSNBC.com)

How much is too much when it comes to sugar? 22 teaspoons, maybe. Or perhaps it's 34? According to the American Heart Association, that's what the average american adult and teen is consuming on a daily basis, respectively.


One might not readily believe that they're consuming a whopping half a cup of sugar or more per day, so what is the source of all this cavity- and disease-promoting sugar? Primarily soft drinks, the group has stated. That's an estimated additional 335 calories per day!


To find out how much sugar is considered acceptable and how you can monitor and cut your sugar intake, read the full article entitled "Cut back, way back, on sugar, says heart group" at MSNBC.com from Monday, August 24, 2009.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bacon: Not Just For Breakfast

Source: (MSNBC.com, The Globe and Mail)


What would happen if we married bacon and chocolate? You don't have to search any further than here for the answer. You see, a new craze is sweeping the nation - chocolate covered bacon. Don't adjust your monitor - this is the real deal.


I suppose sweet and savoury have been paired for as long as desserts have existed - sea salt taffy and salted caramels are other examples.


According to Karen Page, author of The Flavour Bible, chefs are becoming increasingly creative as they look for new flavour combinations and new ways to serve, present and prepare foods; they are literally playing with their food. The result? Oftentimes, seemingly unorthodox combinations, such as your soon-to-be best friend chocolate-covered bacon.


You can find the entire article here - "Bacon makes everything better, even... chocolate?" from MSNBC.com, August, 2009. Or watch a video from The Globe and Mail, August 13 2009 here.

The Fountain of Youth in a Pill

Source: (NYTimes.com)

Imagine a 'magic pill' that could make us live longer. Thanks to a new discovery out of Massachusetts, we may now be closer than ever to creating a drug that could free us of the negative effects of aging such as degenerative diseases and other negative health complications.


The idea is based on the beneficial effects of a calorie-restricted diet, without the burden of actually having to restrict one's calories. Researchers have come up with a number of candidate drugs that may replicate the same biochemical pathways that are triggered with calorie-restriction.


When mice are placed on a calorie-restricted diet, with approximately 30% fewer calories than a normal diet but still healthy and nutritious, they live markedly longer than their 'normal diet' counterparts. They are also healthier on the whole and suffer from fewer diseases associated with the ageing process.


Read the full article "Tests Begin on Drugs That May Slow Aging" at NYTimes.com, August 17, 2009.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Antioxidants in Cereal and Popcorn?

Source: (ScienceDaily)

Yes - and in 'surprisingly large' amounts, too! According to new findings presented at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), whole-grain foods and snacks such as cereals and popcorn have been shown to register very high on the antioxidant scale since they are loaded with polyphenols.


Polyphenols have received a great deal of publicity for their disease-fighting properties and are most commonly found in foods such as dark chocolate, fruits and vegetables, and in beverages such as green tea and red wine. Now you can add whole grains to that list.


Researchers have long thought that the health-promoting benefits of whole grains had everything to do with their fibre content, but it may soon be discovered that the polyphenols have more to do with this than anyone had previously imagined.


Read "Whole Grain Cereals, Popcorn Rich In Antioxidants, Not Just Fiber, New Research Concludes" to get the whole scoop at ScienceDaily (Aug. 19, 2009)

Does Sugar Feed Cancer?

Source: (ScienceDaily)

Do cancer cells use sugar as fuel? It's long been known that cancer cells require a lot more glucose than regular cells, due to their accelerated rate of replication and growth, and now new research out of Utah has uncovered new pieces to the 'cancer-sugar link' puzzle.


Researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah have found a link between glutamine (an amino acid) and cancerous cells' ability to uptake glucose for fuel. In cases where glutamine was restricted, cancer cells were not able to utilize glucose and grow.


According to one of the researchers, "Essentially, if you don't have glutamine, the cell is short circuited due to a lack of glucose, which halts the growth of the tumor cell".


Read up on all of the details in the article entitled "Does Sugar Feed Cancer?" on ScienceDaily (Aug. 18, 2009)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Excessive Exercise Can Be as Addictive as Drugs

source: (ScienceDaily)

According to new research, excessive exercise can produce withdrawal symptoms similar to those typically associated with drug use.

The authors of the study noted that exercise releases "feel-good" neurotransmitters such as dopamine and other endorphins, which are involved in the reward pathway. The researchers believe that based on these findings, moderate amounts of exercise could be used to wean individuals off of drugs.

Although the research was done with rats, effects silimar to those found in humans in terms of eating disorders were found. In humans, the findings may shed light on a condition known as anorexia athletica, where individuals exercise excessively to burn off calories.


Check out the full article "Excessive Exercise Can Be Addicting, New Study Says" at ScienceDaily (Aug. 18, 2009)

Monday, August 17, 2009

More evidence that fish aids the brain

(Source: Reuters)

Older adults in developing countries who regularly eat fish seem to have a lower risk of dementia, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that among nearly 15,000 older adults living in China, India or one of five Latin American countries, the odds of having dementia generally declined as fish consumption rose.

For each increase in participants' reported fish intake -- from never, to some days of the week, to most or all days of the week -- the prevalence of dementia dipped by 19 percent.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, mirror evidence from some studies in developed nations.

Check out the full article "More evidence that fish is brain food" at Reuters (August 14, 2009).


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin

(Source: TIME.COM)

As I write this, tomorrow is Tuesday, which is a cardio day. I'll spend five minutes warming up on the VersaClimber, a towering machine that requires you to move your arms and legs simultaneously. Then I'll do 30 minutes on a stair mill. On Wednesday a personal trainer will work me like a farm animal for an hour, sometimes to the point that I am dizzy — an abuse for which I pay as much as I spend on groceries in a week. Thursday is "body wedge" class, which involves another exercise contraption, this one a large foam wedge from which I will push myself up in various hateful ways for an hour. Friday will bring a 5.5-mile run, the extra half-mile my grueling expiation of any gastronomical indulgences during the week.

Check out the full article by John Cloud "Why Exercise Won't make you thin" in Time Magazine (August 9, 2009)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mediterranean diet wards off Alzheimer's

(Source: MSNBC)

Video: Eating a diet rich in fruits and whole grains and keeping active is good for your mind, new research suggests.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Study: Organic foods not more nutritious


A new study from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine brings us the news that organically grown food bears no relevant nutritional differences from conventionally grown food. The real news is that anyone might have ever thought otherwise.

When you buy organic, you are plucking a single variable out of a dizzyingly large matrix of environmental, economic and ecological characteristics. What you are paying for is a guarantee that no synthetic pesticides, chemical weed-killers, pre-emptive antibiotics, or soluble mineral salts were used in the production of that food. Such a choice sounds appealing. But it does not guarantee that your food will be, in any way, better-tasting or healthier. It certainly does not guarantee that its production was more energy-efficient. Indeed, it is likely to be much less so.

Check out the full article "More natural doesn't mean more healthy" in the National Post (August 01, 2009)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Study: Cholesterol levels tied to increased risk for dementia

(Source: CNN)

People as young as 40 with borderline or high cholesterol levels are at increased risk for developing Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia, said a Kaiser Permanente study released Tuesday.

Researchers tracked nearly 10,000 people for four decades, starting when the participants were between 40 and 45. After controlling for weight, hypertension and diabetes, researchers discovered a significant link between borderline-high cholesterol and dementia, according to the study. Although previous studies have linked heart and brain health, researchers said this study is the first to examine the association between borderline cholesterol levels and dementia.

Read the full article by Caitlin Hagan "Study: Cholesterol levels tied to increased risk for dementia" at CNN.com (August 4, 2009).

Experimental 0besity drug showing promise

(Source: MSNBC)

Orexigen Therapeutics Inc. said Monday that its obesity-drug candidate Contrave met its main goals in three late-stage clinical trials, and also surpassed a Food and Drug Administration requirement for effectiveness.

Patients who took Contrave had significantly greater weight loss than those who took a placebo, and the drug also reduced other risk factors like waist circumference, the company said. For diabetes patients, the drug also reduced blood sugar levels.

Check out the article "Experimental obesity drug showing promise" at MSNBC (July 20th, 2009).

Monday, August 3, 2009

'Brilliant Blue' Food Dye Halts Spinal Cord Damage after Injury

I love reading about stuff like this. Naturally, my first reaction when I saw the words 'blue dye in M&M's and Gatorade' was to assume that the news would be nothing but negative. I figured the story would go on to say that stuff was linked to cancer or some other horrible illness. Imagine my surprise when I found out that there could actually be some positive uses for blue food colouring.

Let me explain. According to a recent study published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the dye, called Brilliant Blue G (or BBG for short), can actually stop the cascade of molecular events that starts with a spinal cord injury. If this series of molecular events can be halted, it can prevent the spreading of damage to the injured area and can help prevent more serious paralysis from occurring.


During spinal cord injury, a compound called ATP (a vital source of energy in cells) pours out into the area surrounding the injury, killing off other healthy cells and making matters even worse. One way to stop the spilling of ATP is to inject oxidized ATP into the area, but this is difficult, tricky and disconcerting for patients who have just injured their spinal cords. In light of this difficulty, the search for another compound that can deliver the same results sans spinal cord injection has somehow led researchers to our beloved BBG.


With an IV injection of BBG, the damage to the spinal cords of injured rats was significantly reduced and the rats were actually able to walk again, albeit with a limp. Oh yeah and they kind of turned blue for a little while but I guess that part isn't so important considering the bigger picture.


Hey, I bet you never thought that those blue M&M's and Gatorade were good for anything other than pure indulgence but look who's laughing now!