Plant-Based Amino Acids Linked To Low Blood Pressure

August 28, 2015 7:20 am 0 comments

We can thank researchers at East Anglia University298x232-WL_low_fat_diets_ST2-298x232_WL_low_fat_diets_ST2  for some good news about the healthful effects of amino acids. When the researchers looked at the influence of seven amino acids on cardiovascular health among almost 2,000 women with a healthy BMI, they found that more amino acids from plant-based sources was associated with lower blood pressure, and more from animal sources was associated with lower levels of arterial stiffness–both good things. Actually, all seven amino acids, –arginine, cysteine, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, leucine, and tyrosine– were associated with low blood pressure, but the plant-based proteins seemed to be more potent. (Glutamic acid, leucine, and tyrosine are found in animal sources.)  How potent were they? The researchers found that amino acids influence blood pressure as much as salt, physical activity and alcohol consumption. For arterial stiffness, the association was similar to not smoking. More about which foods provide which amino acids.

Smartphones Are Depressing, Literally

August 27, 2015 8:11 am 0 comments

imgres-1Looking for a lift from depression in the virtual world? That’s virtually a bad idea. A news release from Michigan State University tells us that researchers at the school examined two pathways for habitual use of a smart phone: To either pass the time or entertain, or to alleviate feelings of sadness or depression by seeking out others. Guess which one does more harm than good. Right. The researchers found that seeking relief from depression in the virtual world often made things worse. If you want help, the researchers say, get from a real person.

The Dangers Of Drinking Too Much–Water

August 26, 2015 8:10 am 2 comments

Yes, it’s important for athletes to stay hydrated, but as Gretchen Reynolds warns in the New York Timesimgres, hydration can easily go too far, and over hydration is often much more dangerous than dehydration. That’s because drinking too much water can lead to potentially fatal condition called hyponatremia, or water intoxication, in which the body is unable to rid itself of so much fluid and cells literally swell. Reynolds quotes Kevin Miller, an associate professor of athletic training at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Mich., and co-author of a new report on the dangers of overhydration, advising us that athletes should drink when they feel thirsty — not before and not after they feel sated. Miller warns that “You do not need to ‘stay ahead of your thirst.” Reynolds points out that “other studies have found that being dehydrated does not increase athletes’ susceptibility to heat problems, and that athletes who collapse from heat illness often are quite well-hydrated. Instead, both cramping and heat problems seem to result from athletes pushing themselves too hard.” The bottom line: drink when you’re thirsty.

Gender Equality Helps Couples With Exercise And Sex

August 25, 2015 7:45 am 0 comments

images-1That’s right, exercise and sex, although not necessarily at the same time. In one recent study reported in the Wall Street Journal, researchers found that men and women who see themselves as equal partners in a relationship are more likely to participate in frequent recreational exercise compared with those in less egalitarian unions. People in relationships they regarded as totally gender-equal were two to three times as likely to engage in daily exercise as those in unions perceived as low in equality. In another study, cited in Science Daily, researchers found that when men assume more child-care duties, splitting them equally with their female partners, heterosexual couples have more satisfaction with their relationships and their sex lives. Wait, there’s more: when men do the majority of the child care, their female partners had the highest overall satisfaction with their sex lives, but men had the lowest overall satisfaction with their sex lives.

Fitness Bands: How Accurate Are They?

August 24, 2015 7:47 am 0 comments

imgresThey’re pretty good when it comes to measuring calories burned, but with strength training, fitness bands need to do some work. That’s the verdict from researchers at Iowa State University, who tested four consumer fitness trackers – Fitbit Flex, Nike+ FuelBand SE, Jawbone UP 24 and Misfit Shine – to see how well they measured sedentary, aerobic and resistance activity. Two research monitors – the BodyMedia Core and Actigraph GT3X+ – were also included in the study. An Iowa State news release reports that the top performer, with an error rate of 15.3, was the BodyMedia Core.  The Misfit Shine was the least accurate with a 30.4 percent error rate. See how their performance stacked up below.

Overall results for each monitor:
BodyMedia Core 15.3 percent
Actigraph GT3X+ 16.7 percent
Fitbit Flex 16.8 percent
Nike+ FuelBand SE 17.1 percent
Jawbone UP24 18.2 percent
Misfit Shine 30.4 percent
Results for sedentary activity:
BodyMedia Core 15.7 percent
Misfit Shine 18.2 percent
Nike+ FuelBand SE 20.0 percent
Fitbit Flex 29.4 percent
Jawbone UP24 29.4 percent
Actigraph GT3X+ 45.2 percent
Results for resistance activity:
Nike+ FuelBand SE 20.0 percent
BodyMedia Core 29.2 percent
Fitbit Flex 31.6 percent
Misfit Shine 36.8 percent
Actigraph GT3X+ 45.2 percent
Jawbone UP24 52.6 percent
Results for aerobic activity:
BodyMedia Core 17.2 percent
Nike+ FuelBand SE 18.5 percent
Actigraph GT3X+ 22.1 percent
Jawbone UP 24 30.0 percent
Fitbit Flex 34.7 percent
Misfit Shine 60.1 percent


Early Breast Cancer Treatment Is Questioned

August 20, 2015 8:43 pm 0 comments

imagesFirst came questions about the wisdom of treating low-grade prostate cancer. Now comes a major epidemiological study–one that followed 100,000 women for 20 years– that raises similar questions about the effectiveness of  treating very early stage breast cancer, known as ductal carcinoma in situ, or D.C. I. S.  The New York Times reports that researchers found that women whose early cancer was treated with lumpectomies or mastectomies had a chance of dying of breast cancer in the two decades after treatment of 3.3 percent, no matter which procedure they had, and they also had about the same as an average woman’s chance of dying of breast cancer. How can that be? D.CI.S. has long been believed to be a precursor of  potentially deadly cancer. But wait, the researchers argue, if deadly breast cancers started out as D.C.I.S., the incidence of invasive breast cancers should have plummeted with rising detection rates, and it did not. Does that mean that tens of thousand of women are undergoing painful, traumatic and sometimes disfiguring surgeries that are unnecessary. More research, lots of debate, and possibly the re-education of many surgeons, are needed. Read the study here. Read commentary on the study here.

Long Hours Jack Heart Risk

August 20, 2015 9:01 am 0 comments

images-1Want to lower your risk of heart attack? Work fewer hours. Researchers at the University College London are convinced that people who work more than 55 hours a week have a 33 percent greater risk of stroke and a 13 percent greater risk of coronary heart disease than those working standard hours. Yikes! The New York Times reports that the researchers analyzed work and health data of more than 600,000 people in a study that controlled for smoking, physical activity and high blood pressure and cholesterol, and, importantly, was not designed to draw conclusions about what caused the increased risk. According to the Times, earlier studies have linked heart attacks to long hours, but not stroke.


And Now, A Libido Pill For Women

August 19, 2015 8:25 am 0 comments

imgresIn one trial of Addyi, the newly approved prescription drug to enhance women’s sex drive, those who took the drug had an average of 4.4 “satisfying sexual experiences” a month, compared with 3.7 for women getting a placebo and 2.7 before the study began. Wait, there’s more, or less: The New York Times reports that the drug did not increase desire more than a placebo when measured by a daily diary, but did do so modestly when measured by a monthly questionnaire. As a consequence of that test and others like it, Addyi was rejected by the FDA not once but twice, in 2010 and in 2013. FDA reviewers were concerned not just about the drug’s effectiveness, but about side effects, which can include low blood pressure, nausea, and sleepiness. The Times reports that the drug was finally approved after a full-press lobbying effort by a coalition, whose members include the National Council of Women’s Organizations, the Black Women’s Health Imperative and the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. And yes, the campaign was partially underwritten by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the drug.  According to one survey cited by the Times, about 10 percent of women suffer from hypoactive sexual desire disorder.

Exercise Won’t Get The Weight Off

August 18, 2015 8:37 am 1 comment

While the Coca-imgresCola Company is claiming that America’s obesity problem is less a calorie-related issue than a lack-of-exercise issue, researchers at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine have a different opinion: they say exercise does not help us lose weight. Science Daily reports that the researchers, writing in the International Journal of Epidemiology, detailed the evidence that physical activity is not key to losing weight. Here we go:

• It’s often argued that low obesity rates in Africa, India and China are due in part to strenuous daily work routines. But the evidence does not support this notion. For example, African Americans tend to weigh more than Nigerians. But studies have found that when corrected for body size, Nigerians do not burn more calories through physical activity than African Americans.

• Numerous clinical trials have found that exercise plus calorie restriction achieves virtually the same weight loss as calorie restriction alone.

• Observational studies show no association between energy expenditure and subsequent weight change.

• Extremely small proportions of the U.S. population engage in levels of energy expenditure at a sufficiently high level to affect long-term energy balance.

Yikes! Who to believe? Loyola researchers or Coca-Cola? Here’s a clue: the New York Times reports that an analysis published in PLOS Medicine found that studies financed by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, the American Beverage Association and the sugar industry were five times more likely to find no link between sugary drinks and weight gain than studies reporting no industry sponsorship or financial conflicts of interest.

To Lose Body Fat, Cut Dietary Fat First, Carbs Later

August 17, 2015 8:51 am 0 comments

Contrary to popular dieting dogma, the CachedImagebest way to lose body is to restrict dietary fat, not carbs. How do they know that? Because researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases monitored every morsel of food eaten by 19 people for two two-week periods. Science Daily reports that during the first period, 30 percent of baseline calories were cut through carb restriction alone, while fat intake remained the same. During the second period the conditions were reversed. Each day, the researchers measured how much fat each participant ate and burned and used this information to calculate the rate of body fat loss. Ready? The envelope please….The researchers found that body fat lost with dietary fat restriction was greater compared with carbohydrate restriction, even though more fat was burned with the low-carb diet. Wait, there’s more, and it’s complicated. The researchers point out that over prolonged periods the model predicted that the body acts to minimize body fat differences between diets that are equal in calories but varying widely in their ratio of carbohydrate to fat.

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