Health & Wellness


Air pollution kills 3.2 million people around the world every year


A new study has estimated that outdoor particulate air pollution (pictured, Shanghai shrouded in smog) results in around 3.2 million premature deaths from heart attack, stroke, lung cancer and other illnesses, each year
Air pollution kills more people every year than Aids and malaria combined, warns new research.

Scientists say meeting global air quality guidelines could prevent 2.1 million deaths per year.

They developed a global model of how changes in outdoor air pollution could reduce health problems, including heart attack, stroke and lung cancer.

And their findings reveal outdoor particulate air pollution results in 3.2 million premature deaths each year - more than the combined impact of HIV-Aids and malaria.

By meeting the World Health Organisation's (WHO) particulate air quality guidelines, the team of environmental engineering and public health researchers estimate 2.1 million early deaths could be prevented.


Glycine - Improving sleep quality

© Unknown

Sleeping can be complicated business! Those individuals with no difficulty achieving healthy, regular sleep would think it the simplest of physiologic phenomena. Roughly 30% of the population suffers from insomnia, however,[1] which has real and important health consequences, in addition to affecting quality of life. Even short-term sleep disruption is associated with metabolic problems, insulin insensitivity, poor bloodsugar control, increased body mass index (BMI), increased pain and inflammation levels, and even increased mortality.[2] And pathogenic sleep disruption may be a hallmark of or contribute to both psychiatric [3] and neurodegenerative disorders.[4]

If you're among the thousands of individuals who suffer from sleep difficulties, you might be aware that modern science still has a relatively tenuous grasp on the complicated relationships between diet, hydration, emotional/spiritual health, environmental contributors, and brain chemistry related to sleep. This is an area that is receiving considerable attention in scientific study at present, and the findings are having far-reaching implications. Glycine's role in sleep regulation is an excellent example.

Comment: See also: Why Broth is Beautiful: Essential Roles for Proline, Glycine and Gelatin

Blue Planet

Green spaces make kids smarter

A new study finds that vegetation around schools cuts down on air pollution and boosts memory and attention.

When I lived in L.A., I reported on a school near Long Beach in which nearly a fifth of the students had asthma. One culprit seemed to be the school's unfortunate geography: About 500 trucks passed by its grounds every hour, and according to a study released at the time, at least 9 percent of childhood-asthma cases in the area were attributable to road traffic. The air near the school, which sometimes smelled rotten or rubbery, contained nearly twice the normal level of elemental carbon, a marker of diesel particles.

Asthma is just one of the health problems linked to air pollution exposure. Sniffing exhaust all day also contributes to everything from stroke to premature death.

Comment: Green space is an important factor in childhood and an excellent way to relieve stress for both parents and kids!
"Nature stimulates that sense of wonder," says UW Health psychologist Katie Watermolen. "When kids are outside, they are less anxious, more creative, more relaxed. All that leads to improved mental health."

Alarm Clock

Synchronizing all the body's circadian clocks important for normalizing metabolism

© Shutterstock
If you struggle with excess weight, insulin resistance, and/or diabetes, getting more sleep may be of significant importance.

According to recent research,1,2 poor sleep and/or lack of sleep can have a significant bearing on metabolic disorders such as these, and addressing your sleeping habits may be key for both the prevention and treatment of them.

The answer as to why sleep is so important for normalizing your metabolism has to do with its effects on your body's circadian clocks—and yes; you have a number of circadian clocks, not just one. As noted in the featured report by NPR:3
"[I]n recent years, scientists have made a cool discovery: We have different clocks in virtually every organ of our bodies — from our pancreas to our stomach to our fat cells.

'Yes, there are clocks in all the cells of your body,' explains Fred Turek, a circadian scientist at Northwestern University. "'It was a discovery that surprised many of us.'

We humans are time-keeping machines. And it seems we need regular sleeping and eating schedules to keep all of our clocks in sync."

Comment: The importance of obtaining adequate quality sleep cannot be overemphasized. Your brain's ability to function, your overall health as well as your emotional well-being depends on it.

See also:


How to survive a swarm of angry bees

Even though bee colonies have been collapsing in droves in recent years, people still manage to disturb their hives on a frequent basis. Whether you're on a hike in the wilderness, or just clearing brush on your property, running into a bee hive can prove disastrous for your health, or at the very least, ruin your day.

Just last week a man from Kingman Arizona was nearly killed by a swarm of bees as he was working in his yard. He managed to run to his car, but in that short distance he was stung between 500 and 1000 times. He had to be rushed to the hospital, but is in stable condition. It just goes to show you how fast you have to think and act if you ever raise the ire of these insects. And just like dealing with any other type of dangerous animal, there's a few things you should know ahead of time before you encounter them.


Antibiotic use linked to diabetes

Antibiotics can kill infectious bacteria and have helped to a certain extent save lives. But now there is disturbing evidence that they may be contributing to the disease--in other words, certain antibiotics may increase the risk of developing diabetes.

The connection is the ecosystem of bacteria in our gut that scientists call the microbiome. It affects digestion and immunity, and an unhealthy microbiome has been linked to diseases as diverse as obesity, certain cancers, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis and...diabetes. Several studies have shown that type 2 diabetes, the kind that affects most people, is more common in people who have microbiomes with altered or low bacteria diversity. What we eat and drink changes the composition of the bacteria, and so can the medication we take...especially antibiotics.

Trillions of bacteria are hostile and can cause disease, while many others are friendly and have established a symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship with us over the millennia. These friendly bacteria have also been referred to as "probiotics" and are being used increasingly by mainstream clinicians for both preventive and therapeutic purposes.

Comment: See also:

Repeatedly taking antibiotics may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes

Antibiotics Promote Obesity, Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome


The birth control trap

Blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks: the serious negative side effects of hormonal contraceptives are undeniable.

Last month saw the release of a new study that makes the connection, not for the first time, between newer birth control pills and the risk of serious injury or death. Researchers from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom revealed that a woman using a brand of oral contraceptive with a more recently created formulation has 4 times the risk of developing a blood clot when compared to a woman who is not taking any brand of birth control pills. These pills contain newer synthetic progestins with the names drospirenone, desogestrel, gestodene, and cyproterone. Women using older formulations with older progestins still have a risk that is 2.5 times the risk of non-users. Even when the researchers took into account other contributing factors such as obesity and smoking, the connection was still stark.

New formulations of the birth control pill are created partly in response to the side effects experienced with older types, but also partly so that new patents can be purchased, allowing for the higher profits of bringing "new," "improved," and often more expensive products, to the market. This study may be new evidence, but it's not exactly "news". The makers of the drospirenone-containing Yaz and Yasmin brands, which were the top selling oral contraceptives for some time, have had to settle thousands of cases of women injured or killed by deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, strokes and heart attacks out of court, with a cost of $1.7 billion dollars.

Those in the media that report these findings are often accused of scare mongering. Women are encouraged to keep taking the pills, consult with their doctor, and then ask about switching brands to lower, but not remove, the risk. These days we also see the suggestion that women should instead use the hormonal IUD device, implant or the shot. However, all of these other delivery systems hold their own set of side effects and risks. The blood clot risk might not be as high, but the danger to a woman's health and wellbeing does not disappear when we replace one hormonal contraceptive with another.


Bigpharma collateral damage: Yaz birth control pills blamed for 23 deaths from blood clots

The Dark Side of Birth Control: The Pill Still Has Many Adverse Affects Glossed Over By Big Pharma


Emulsifiers: Colitis for breakfast

After sweeteners last year ended up being the suspects as the possible cause of glucose intolerance, now the evidence is piling up that emulsifiers have a role of partial responsibility in the huge increase in inflammatory diseases in recent decades.

Scientists were able to show in a recent study on mice that emulsifiers can promote metabolic syndrome, obesity and chronic inflammation in the intestine. Doctors working under Andrew Gewirtz and Benoit Chassaing of Georgia State University suspect that the increasing use of emulsifiers in the food industry and the increase of inflammatory diseases in recent decades are closely linked, as they write in the journal Nature. This is because both metabolic syndrome and chronic inflammatory bowel disease accompany change in the composition of intestinal flora.

"Despite the human genome's unchanging state these diseases have increased dramatically. The suspicion that an environmental factor is very likely instrumental in it acquires probability", says Chassaing. He adds: "What we eat has a direct impact on our intestinal flora, therefore we examined whether modern food additives alter intestinal bacteria such that they increasingly promote inflammation".

In their experiments, the scientists tested the effects of two common emulsifiers, polysorbate 80 and carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) on the intestinal flora of mice. They added the substances to the drinking water of mice at a concentration at which they also occur in food (1%).


Reasons why gluten intolerance may be even more serious than celiac disease

Recent news stories have downplayed the significance of non-celiac gluten sensitivity, even going as far as suggesting that it doesn't exist. But a growing body of evidence has proven that gluten intolerance is not only real, but is potentially a much larger problem than celiac disease.

About a year ago I wrote an article called "Is Gluten Sensitivity Real" which critiqued a spate of news reports suggesting that nonceliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) doesn't exist. These news stories referred to a study indicating that some people who believed they were reacting to gluten were actually reacting to a class of poorly absorbed carbohydrates (which include wheat, among many other foods) called FODMAPs.

You can read the full article above for details, but the takeaway was that the study those stories were based on in no way disproved the existence of NCGS, nor did it overturn the large body of evidence that links it to a variety of health problems ranging from type 1 diabetes, to allergies, to schizophrenia, to autism spectrum disorders. There is little doubt among those who are familiar with the scientific literature that NCGS is a real condition.

Comment: For more on this slow and quiet destroyer of good health see:

Stop eating gluten immediately if you exhibit these ten signs

The long list of hidden gluten: Unsafe ingredients for gluten sensitivity

Sensitivity To Gluten May Result In Neurological Dysfunction; Independent Of Symptoms

Book Review: Gluten Toxicity - The Mysterious Symptoms of Celiac Disease, Dermatitis Herpetiformis, and Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance


FDA to ban trans fats by 2018

© Reuters/Yves Herman

Comment: One has to wonder what took the government this long to realize the harmful effects of hydrogenated oils? If, as the FDA says, they are "committed to the heart health of all Americans", why did it take decades before they finally realized how harmful vegetable oils are? It's unlikely their scientific methods suddenly took a leap forward in 2013, when the FDA declared partially hydrogenated oils unsafe for consumption.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced its final decision to outlaw partially hydrogenated oils, the primary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, by June 2018.

The agency said that its decision is based on scientific review of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) which has indicated that they are not "generally recognized as safe" for human food consumption.

"The FDA's action on this major source of artificial trans fat demonstrates the agency's commitment to the heart health of all Americans," said Stephen Ostroff, the FDA's acting commissioner. "This action is expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year."

Trans fats boost risk of coronary disease given they raise "bad" cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Removing PHOs from processed foods could prevent up to 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 coronary deaths a year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.