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Wed, 13 Dec 2017
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Health & Wellness

Heart - Black

Pollution wipes out the benefits of exercise, calling for stricter air quality limits

Exercise and pollution
Pollution wipes out the benefits of walking, a new study suggests. Researchers from Imperial College London found that the toxic air in built-up city centers prevents the positive effects on the lungs and heart which are usually gained from exercise.

Although the experiment was carried out in the over 60s, the scientists say the effects could apply to other groups, and have called for stricter air quality limits, and greater access to green spaces.

To determine the impact of pollution on exercise, researchers asked 119 people to take a two-hour stroll through London's Hyde Park and also Oxford Street, a busy shopping area.

Levels of black carbon, nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter in Hyde Park are typically well within healthy boundaries but air in Oxford Street regularly breaches dangerous pollution levels, as defined by the World Health Organisation.

Comment: See also:


Why private, capitalistic health care leads to deteriorating health in the US and why the publicly funded EU system is doing the opposite


The US political and economic elites have always bragged that capitalism is far superior to socialism in terms of providing people's personal welfare. They claim that citizens live longer, healthier and happier lives under capitalism.

The debate between the supporters of the US Affordable Care Act or 'Obamacare' and its most vehement opponents under President Trump is not part of any larger system debate since both 'sides' base their vision and plans for medical care on private, for-profit corporate insurance schemes. This source of funding would 'harness market forces' to deliver quality medical care...in a marketplace of 'free competition', in which every American, even the most fragile, cancer-ridden patient, would be an engaged stakeholder, weighing a huge menu of free choices...

The real comparison of how these economic systems provide basic health care should be based on showing which provides the best population outcomes, personal satisfaction and community security across national boundaries. National health systems top the chaotic private system in these parameters.

On the other hand, the US tops all European countries in terms of the percentage of workers and family members who avoid necessary trips to the doctor because they fear financial ruin from the inflated costs of their private health care. In other words, majorities of people, dependent on private for-profit insurance schemes to provide health care, cannot afford to visit a medical facility, doctor or clinic even to treat a significant illness. The type of economic system funding health services determines the likelihood of a patient actually going to seek and receive important medical care that will preserve life, one's ability to work and enjoy some level of satisfaction.

This essay will include a brief discussion of the social and political conditions, which gave rise to the socialized, and clearly more effective, health care system. And we will touch on the consequences the two health systems in terms of people's life expectancy and quality of life.


Researchers put diabetics on starvation diet and watch their disease reverse

© Molly Cranna
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects 422 million people worldwide. For decades, doctors have treated it with medications designed to keep blood sugar levels down.

But in a paper published in the Lancet, researchers in the UK describe a landmark study in which people with diabetes went into remission-just by losing weight.

Nearly half of people in the study who were given a six-month diet plan and lost an average of 30 pounds went into remission and no longer had diabetes. None took any medications during that time to control their disease and relied on weight loss alone.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by the body's in ability to break down sugars from the diet. Normally, cells in the pancreas work to release insulin, a hormone that can process sugar and either send it to cells that need it for energy or store it as fat for future energy needs. Cells in the liver are responsible for clearing insulin from the circulation. But excess fat in the pancreas and liver can start to shut down these insulin-producing cells, leading to spikes in blood sugar levels. Diabetes medications can bring sugar levels down but do not address the compromised insulin machinery.

Comment: It's quite likely that being on such a low calorie diet re-sensitized the cells to the effects of insulin and weight loss was just a side effect of this process. At any rate, the study has some value in that it highlights the fact that diet can reverse diabetes, something that researchers and individuals have noted for years. However, embarking on a near-starvation liquid diet is not necessary when a carbohydrate restricted diet can yield the same results.

Idiotically Dangerous Diet "Reverses Diabetes" but So Does Moderate Carb Restriction Without Calorie Restriction


Time for an intervention? Is government addicted to banning natural substances?

The government has a substance problem and it's time for an intervention.

Federal Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb recently released a statement expressing concerns over the dangerous public health effects of the herb commonly known as kratom, the dried and ground leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa tree native to parts of Southeastern Asia. The herb is currently legal and sold as a dietary supplement and is usually consumed in powder form mixed in beverages or ingested via capsule.

Comment: Perhaps the govenment doesn't like competition?


Sugar: Linked to brain shrinkage, Alzheimer's and other types of dementia

Sugar lips
The shrinkage is linked to developing Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia.

Excess sugar in the diet could lead to brain shrinkage, a study suggests.

A smaller brain is also linked to problems in old age, such as dementia.

All of the 249 people in the study had blood sugar levels in the normal range.

However, those with higher blood sugar levels were more likely to have less brain volume in key areas in the hippocampus (memory) and amygdala (emotion and cognition).

Microscope 2

Researchers discover how to turn off "hunger alarm system", leading to hopes for obesity sufferers

overweight soccer player
© Daniel Becerril / Reuters
A player is pictured during his "Futbol de Peso" (Soccer of Weight ) league soccer match
A team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania has demonstrated how to turn off a so-called hunger alarm system that becomes active when you're hungry, leading to hopes for obesity sufferers worldwide.

Being hungry can have an adverse effect on everyone, some become irritable, others downright crazy. The mere sight or smell of food can alleviate hunger cravings for a time and researchers have shown why this is the case.

Contained within the brain are neurons responsible for the drive to eat. These neurons, known as AgRP neurons, remain active until they receive a signal from the stomach telling the brain that food has been ingested.

"When these neurons are firing, they're basically telling you, 'You'd better go get food; you're starving,"Penn State biology professor, J. Nicholas Betley, said. "They're a sensitive alarm system. And what this study conclusively demonstrated is that nutrients are the primary regulators of this alarm system."

Life Preserver

More good news for ketogenic diet in epilepsy

foods ketogenic diet
The ketogenic diet (KD) appears to be just as effective as corpus callosotomy (CC) and vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) in reducing seizures and improving behavior and quality of life in children with drug-resistant epilepsy, new research shows.

Comment: And without the "lobotomy" nor the mechanical implantation of a vagal pacemaker in the body.

In patients not responding to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), "clinicians tend to just keep pouring on more medicines" instead of considering palliative techniques, study investigator Dave F. Clarke, MD, director, Clinical Epilepsy, Texas Children's Hospital, and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, told Medscape Medical News.

"We suggest that once a patient is deemed pharmaco-resistant, so having failed two to three medicines, then you should start thinking outside the box."

Comment: The other option is to do something about it before resorting to multiple drugs.

The findings, along with results of other research on the KD, were presented here at the American Epilepsy Society (AES) 71st Annual Meeting 2017.

Comment: See also:


Rusty brains: Lowering iron levels in the brain could slow or prevent Alzheimer's

Iron levels brain

A stylised image of a brain MRI using Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping (QSM) showing in red the increase in iron levels found in those with Alzheimer’s pathology compared to controls.
Cleaning out 'rust' from the brain could be a way to slow and even prevent the degenerative disease Alzheimer's, according to new research that pinpoints iron as its so-far elusive potential driver.

Previous research has long linked Alzheimer's to a build-up in amyloid protein fragments in the brain that are normally broken down in healthy brains. But efforts to treat Alzheimer's by using drugs that reduce amyloid levels have so far failed, leading to speculation that something else is driving the disease.

New research from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and the University of Melbourne has found that iron might be the culprit. Iron has a special property that allows it to exchange electrons, which is crucial in allowing our bodies to generate energy from oxygen and fuels such as sugars. But it can also damage neurons in the same way that iron metal rusts in the presence of oxygen.

Comment: While modern medicine often minimizes the effects of diet and exercise as they search for a pharmaceutical magic bullet, lifestyle modifications have shown to bring significant improvements in symptoms of Alzheimer's:

Life Preserver

Exercise changes your gut microbiome

2 exercise bikers
© University of Turku
Two new studies led by researchers at the University of Illinois have delivered the first clear evidence that the composition of gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone. Designed to isolate the effects of exercise from other factors that could influence gut bacteria, these dual studies build on an increasing body of evidence affirming the role of exercise in determining the makeup of a person's gut microbiome.

The first study, focusing on a mouse model, took fecal samples from sedentary mice and exercised mice then transplanted that material into germ-free sedentary mice to analyze the effects of the different gut flora.

The results were significant, with the mice that received the exercised gut bacteria displaying an enhanced microbial diversity and a higher volume of butyrate-producing microbes. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid (STFA) known to be vital to colon health, energy production and thought to protect against colon cancer.

Comment: See also: Dr. Justin Sonnenburg: Is a disrupted gut microbiome at the root of modern disease?

Life Preserver

Vitamin D's flawed recommended daily allowance

vitamin D
While it's great that the FDA requires supplement and food labels to contain percentages of daily recommended values, these numbers can often be misleading. Vitamin D is one of the most important substances in regard to supporting good health and also happens to have one of the most misleading Recommended Daily Allowances.

If you look at the label on the back of food or supplement packaging, you'll see a list of nutrients that specifies the amount of each nutrient contained in a single serving of the product and what percentage of the recommended Daily Value that this amount represents. The FDA requires food and supplement manufacturers to include this information on the labels of their products to help you determine how much of your daily recommended allowance you're consuming.

Comment: See also: