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Tue, 26 Sep 2017
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Health

Chronic constipation is on the rise

For most people, an occasional bout of constipation is a minor aggravation. However, this is not the case for the nearly 15 percent of the U.S. population suffering from chronic constipation.1 This means 63 million people have difficulty passing hard, dry, lumpy stool, suffer from feeling bloated, have abdominal pain or feel as if there is something stuck in their rectum or intestines.2

For many, the topic of their bowel movements is a private matter. This makes understanding and learning about the actual mechanics of how stool is produced and eliminated difficult, as many don't find it a topic they want to discuss, even with their physicians.

The number of stools you have each week is closely linked to the types of food you eat, the amount of exercise you get and your hydration status. While many people may have a bowel movement once a day, the normal amount ranges between four times each week to several times a day.3 What differentiates infrequent stools and constipation is the consistency of the stool, the difficulty in passing it and other symptoms you may experience, such as bloating or feeling full.

Unfortunately, the number of people who suffer from chronic constipation is rising, leading to a characterization of the condition as a "silent epidemic" as those who suffer often suffer in silence.

Health

Nine day sugar-free diet cut fatty liver in children by 20 percent

In a nine-day experiment, researchers from Touro University and UC San Francisco found that a diet with reduced sugar cut liver fat by more than 20 percent.

Cutting out the sort of sugar commonly found in soft drinks, fruit juices and processed foods reversed the buildup of liver fat in children and adolescents, a condition closely tied to diabetes and heart disease.

Fatty liver disease in youth has more than doubled in the past two decades, leading to increased insulin resistance. That, in turn, reduces a person's ability to control blood sugar, which leads to Type 2 diabetes. The findings were published in the journal Gastroenterology.

Said lead author Jean-Marc Schwarz: "Our study clearly shows that sugar is turned into fat, which may explain the epidemic of fatty liver in children consuming soda and food with added sugar. And we find that fatty liver is reversed by removing added fructose from our diet."

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Bacon n Eggs

Largest-ever epidemiological study (PURE) shakes up nutritional field: High fat intake beneficial

© Lancet
A new study of dietary habits in 135,000 people around the world is set to shake up the nutrition field, with results showing high fat intake-including saturated fat-was associated with a reduced risk of mortality.

The PURE study, which followed participants from 18 countries for 7 years, also found that high carbohydrate intake was associated with an increased risk of mortality, although the data do not discriminate between processed and unprocessed carbohydrates.

While the study found a beneficial effect of increasing consumption of fruit, vegetables, and legumes on mortality, the maximum benefit was seen at three to four servings a day (equivalent to 375-500 g/day), with no additional benefit with higher intakes. The benefit from fruit, vegetables, and legumes was greater if they were eaten raw rather than cooked.

There was no association of either fat (total or saturated) or carbohydrate intake or fruit/vegetable/legume intake with major cardiovascular-disease events.

Biohazard

Major Lancet study finds low-fat diet filled with refined sugars can lead to early death

© GUILLAUME SOUVANT
Butter has been demonised, some heart experts say
Low-fat diets could raise the risk of early death by almost one quarter, a major study has found.

The Lancet study of 135,000 adults found those who cut back on fats had far shorter lives than those enjoying plenty of butter, cheese and meats.

Researchers said the study was at odds with repeated health advice to cut down on fats.

Those doing so tended to eat far too much stodgy food like bread, pasta and rice, the experts said, while missing out on vital nutrients.

Participants eating the highest levels of carbohydrates - particularly refined sugars found in fizzy drinks and processed meals - faced a 28 per cent higher risk of early death.

Ambulance

LGB older adults more likely to suffer chronic health conditions than heterosexuals, study finds

© Thomas Geyer / Quad City Times / Via qctimes.com
Lesbian and bisexual older women are more likely than heterosexual older women to suffer chronic health conditions, experience sleep problems and drink excessively, a new University of Washington study finds.

In general, lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) older adults were found to be in poorer health than heterosexuals, specifically in terms of higher rates of cardiovascular disease, weakened immune system and low back or neck pain. They also were at greater risk of some adverse health behaviors such as smoking and excessive drinking. At the same time, however, findings point to areas of resilience, with more LGB adults engaging in preventive health measures, such as obtaining HIV tests and blood pressure screening.

The study is the first to use national, population-based data to evaluate differences in health outcomes and behaviors among lesbian, gay and bisexual older adults. Using two-year survey data of 33,000 heterosexual and LGB adults ages 50 and older from a probability-based study of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers from the UW School of Social Work report noticeable health disparities between LGB and heterosexual adults.

The findings were published in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Smoking

Clinical trial to use nicotine patches to treat chronic lung disease

Doctors believe there is some good to be found in nicotine, the highly addictive drug in tobacco products. Lung experts at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center are testing whether nicotine can help people with a chronic inflammatory lung disease called sarcoidosis.

"It's tricky because it mimics other diseases. It's frequently misdiagnosed. Sarcoidosis can look like lung nodules, pneumonia, scar tissue, even lung cancer. It can involve other vital organs, and it differs from one person to the next," said Dr. Elliott Crouser, a pulmonologist specializing in sarcoidosis. Left untreated, the disease can cause severe lung damage and even death. Unlike most lung diseases, the main symptom isn't shortness of breath, but debilitating fatigue. Current treatments such as steroids often have side effects harsher than the symptoms of the disease itself. "We can't use the medications for very long before these side effects occur. They can be severe, such as the development of osteoporosis, cataracts, diabetes or high blood pressure and complications related to those," Crouser said. "We need better, more tolerable options."

So Crouser is leading a clinical trial at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center to test nicotine patches, normally used to help people stop smoking, as a potential treatment for sarcoidosis. A small initial study of the patches showed some benefit, and now Crouser is conducting a larger, randomized trial. The Cleveland Clinic is also participating in the study.

"Why nicotine? Around 2000, we learned two things. There was new evidence that nicotine is an anti-inflammatory, and from other studies we discovered smokers were less likely to get sarcoidosis," Crouser said. "So we're testing whether nicotine can be a solution. We hope people will actually get a secondary benefit - not only will their lung disease get better, but they'll feel more energized and have better quality of life."

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Coffee

Major study: Four cups of coffee a day could decrease your chances of early death


Britons consume around 55 million cups of coffee each day
Drinking four cups of coffee a day could slash the chance of early death, a major study suggests.

Research on 20,000 middle-aged men and women found that those who drank it regularly had mortality rates almost two thirds lower.

Previous studies have found that coffee can improve liver function, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.

The new study suggests that it could reduce the chance of early death from all causes - by as much as two thirds.

Every extra two cups were associated with a 22 per cent drop in mortality - rising to 30 per cent among older patients in the study. And those drinking four cups had a 64 per cent lower death risk, compared with those who never or rarely consumed coffee.

Comment: Well, if the added caffeine doesn't upset your sleep cycles - sip away!

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Footprints

Dancing is more effective at turning back the clock on aging than regular exercise


Dancing may be the best form of physical activity for seniors. Those who dance regularly show greater benefits than those who exercise just as frequently, a new study finds.
Forget about all the supplements, holistic treatments, and superfood smoothies. Seniors who want to turn back the clock when it comes to aging and keep both their bodies and their brains healthy need only to take a trip to their local ballroom dance hall.

That's because a new study finds that while regular exercise helps keep us strong physically and mentally, dancing may be the most valuable form of physical activity - so much so that it actually has certain anti-aging effects more substantial than the benefits of general fitness.

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Health

What are terpenoids and how can they benefit your health?

Traditional medical practitioners have known for millennia that plants have the power to prevent, treat or otherwise improve a number of medical conditions. Plants contain bioactive phytochemicals, such as tocopherols, polyphenols and ascorbic acid, which perform important functions in both plants and humans.

Terpenoids (aka isoprenoids) are another beneficial phytochemical - one that many people haven't heard of before. Out of the seemingly countless compounds in plants, terpenoids represent the largest and most diverse class of beneficial chemicals.1 More than 40,000 individual terpenoids exist, and new ones are discovered every year.2

Plants use terpenoid metabolites to support basic functions like growth, repair and development. However, according to research published in Advances in Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology, they "use the majority of terpenoids for more specialized chemical interactions and protection."3

Among humans, terpenoids have long been valued for medicinal purposes in traditional Indian and Chinese medicines, and they've also been used for food, pharmaceutical and chemical purposes. The cancer drug Taxol and the antimalarial drug artemisinin are both terpenoid-based drugs,4 but the plant compounds are perhaps most well-known for being the main constituents of the essential oils in many plants.

Because they're responsible for the wide variety of plant flavors and aromas - from flowery and fruity notes to woody undertones - they're a sought-after commodity by the flavor and fragrance industries.5 Further, as noted by a study in the journal Recent Patents on Food, Nutrition & Agriculture:6

Sun

Anti-inflammatory effects of vitamin D can prevent heart failure

More trials are needed to test vitamin D supplementation for the prevention of heart disease, say researchers behind a new study showing heart failure among the elderly is strongly associated with vitamin D deficiency.

In the absence of Vitamin D from sunlight, disease increases more than 1000 percent. Experts suggest that the chances of getting vitamin D from your diet are very low. And if you are a vegetarian, it is all the more difficult to gain vitamin D. What they repeatedly suggest is exposure to sunlight is the best source of vitamin D. Humans spend less time in the sun today than at any point in human history -- which is why more than 1 billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient.

Humans make 90 percent of our vitamin D naturally from sunlight exposure to our skin -- specifically, from ultraviolet B exposure to the skin, which naturally initiates the conversion of cholesterol in the skin to vitamin D3.

Researchers have also discovered specific molecular signaling events by which vitamin D prevents inflammation. In their experiments, they showed that low levels of Vitamin D, comparable to levels found in millions of people, failed to inhibit the inflammatory cascade--a series of rapid biochemical events which propagates and matures the inflammatory response. However, levels considered adequate did inhibit inflammatory signaling.

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