Category Archives: Health News

Can Skipping Breakfast Impact Your Health?

breakfast, egg, vegetable, whole grain, fruit, milkDo you skip breakfast? Does your busy schedule make it hard to eat in the morning? Are you just not hungry in the early hours of the day? You may have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Recent research has found that this may be true. Skipping your morning meal can deprive your body of many important nutrients vital to overall health.

Health benefits linked with eating a morning meal include better focus, more energy, lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, among other things. However, a 2011 study found that it is not just important that you eat breakfast, but what you eat at breakfast.

What is a healthy breakfast?

A 2011 study by the Institute of Health and Society in Worcester, UK found that it is lower glycemic and higher protein foods at breakfast that will provide the most health benefits. Therefore, swap out your coffee cake or sugary cereal for more nutrient-dense foods. Recommended morning breakfast protein sources include eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, and poultry. Also, protein from soy, hemp, and pea protein powders can provide a great non-dairy source of protein.  In addition, cottage cheese and protein-rich Greek yogurt are great morning meal options. It is suggested that 30 grams of protein should be eaten at your morning meal to provide an adequate energy source.

Along with protein, you should balance out your morning meal with complex carbohydrates for fiber.  Such fiber-rich foods may include high-fiber cereals such as bran or oatmeal. Other fiber-rich carbohydrates may include low-glycemic fruits such as berries, grapes, or citrus fruits.  Also, you could add non-starchy vegetables to your breakfast such as peppers, onions, or leafy green vegetables in your omelette. You could also add spinach leaves, kale, or carrots to your morning smoothie with a scoop of plant-based protein powder and some berries.

Recent research

A more recent study in the British Journal of Nutrition has found that those young people who skipped breakfast were more likely to be low in nutrients such as folate, calcium, iron, and iodine. Nearly a third of students who skipped breakfast had low iron intake versus 4-percent who did eat in the morning. Similar findings were found for calcium intake. One-fifth of students who did not eat breakfast had low calcium intake versus 3-percent of those who did eat a morning meal.

The Centers for Diseases Control have found that students who eat a morning meal have improved performance in school. Students who eat breakfast tend to have better focus, attendance, grades, and memory compared to those who skip.  It is likely that adults would have the same benefits from eating breakfast. However, more studies would need to be done in such age groups to confirm this theory.

Filling in the Nutrient Gaps

If you find that you are not getting a morning meal in each day, here are some ways to ensure you are getting all of your nutrients during the day.

  • Have healthy snacks available with you at all times. Fiber-rich nuts and seeds, protein-rich jerky and protein bars, as well as freeze-dried fruit are healthy snacks that do not need refrigeration. Keep these snacks in your car, purse, backpack, or at work to make sure you always have nutritious sources of energy on hand.
  • Carry an emergency protein shake with you on-the-go. Pre-prepared protein shakes and waters can provide portable nutrition.  If you don’t have time to sit down and eat a solid meal in the morning, you can at least sip your meal while sitting in traffic or during your morning class or meeting. There are many non-dairy sources of protein drinks for those who may have a dairy intolerance.
  • Take a multivitamin daily to fill in the nutrition gaps. Ask your doctor to test for such important vitamins as B12, vitamin D, and iron.  If you are low in any of these vitamins, taking supplements may be necessary to get your health up to speed.  In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to take a multivitamin daily. A great multivitamin choice is Zestia by VitaSciences.  Zestia contains a comprehensive vitamin profile, 45 fruits and vegetables, a superfood complex, and probiotics to help support optimal health.

written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control (May 2014) “Health and Academic Achievement” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4017414/

Kamada, I., et al. (2011) “The impact of breakfast in metabolic and digestive health.” Gastroenterology and Hepatology from Bed to Bench, 4(2):76-85.

Medline Health News (August 17, 2017) “Young Breakfast Skippers Lack Vital Nutrients” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167879.html

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Could the Solar Eclipse Injure Your Eyes?

With the excitement of the solar eclipse looming, many people are planning on viewing vision, glasses, eclipse, retina, safetythis spectacular event.  However, just as important as where you will be viewing the eclipse is HOW you will be viewing it.  It is important to have the proper eye gear and eye health awareness to prevent the eclipse eye injury.

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse is when the moon moves between the sun and the Earth. This moon movement casts a shadow on the Earth. When the moon completely covers the sun, you will see a glowing ring of light peeking out from around the moon. This ring of light is called the corona. It is the corona that can cause damage to your eyes if looked upon without eye protection.

How can the eclipse hurt my vision?

Looking at the corona unprotected can cause damage to cells in the retina. The retina is in charge of sending signals to the brain. Therefore, damage to these retinal cells can cause permanent vision changes.  Such vision changes can range from altered color vision, to distorted vision, to central vision changes. The central vision changes are also known as solar retinopathy or “eclipse blindness.” Eclipse blindness vision changes can include graying of vision as well as permanent blurriness.

The only time you can safely look at the eclipse is when it is in its total state. However, this is usually not for a long period of time. Therefore, as soon as you start to see a glimmer of sun, be sure to put your protective eye gear back on to prevent any retinal damage. You can get a pair of protective eye wear for free at many eye centers and other retailers.

How can I keep my eyes healthy?

If you feel like your vision is changing and you are not sure why, always check with your eye care provider.  Also, there are several other things you can do to make sure you keep your eyes at their healthiest.

  • Know your family’s eye history. You may be at risk for vision problems and not know it.  If you are at risk, you may need more regular visits to the eye doctor to prevent or treat vision issues.
  • Eat a eye-healthy diet. Fruits and veggies such as leafy greens and brightly colored fruits and veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes are great for eye health.  These foods contain beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A. Vitamin A, among other things, helps protect the surface of the eye. Along with vitamin A, healthy fats are important for eye health too. Healthy fats like those from nuts, seeds, avocado, and fatty fish have been shown to protect vision.
  • Protect your nerve health. You can protect your vision by protecting your nerve health too.  Nerve health can be damaged by diabetes as well as by smoking.  Uncontrolled diabetes can increase risk of vision loss and glaucoma.  On the other hand, smoking can increase risk of macular degeneration and can constrict blood vessels, which can harm the optic nerve.
  • Keep your eyes clean and protected.  If you wear contact lenses, be sure to use hand hygiene and clean your lenses often to prevent infection of the eye. Also, be sure to wear sunglasses whenever you are outside to protect your eyes from damage. Finally, be sure to limit screen time to prevent drying of the eyes over time. If you work in front of a computer all day, try to take a look away from the screen every 20 minutes to give your eyes a rest.
  • Take eye health supplements.  Supplements such as Ocutain by Vita Sciences can help support eye health. Ocutain contains beta-carotene as well as lutein, which have both been shown to be important nutrients in vision health.

Visit prevention, blindness, vision for more information on how you can protect your eyes.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

All About Vision (March 2017) “Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene: Eye Benefits” http://www.allaboutvision.com/nutrition/vitamin_a.htm

Centers for Disease Control (October 30, 2012) “Eye Health Tips” https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basic_information/eye_health_tips.htm

National Eye Institute (July 24, 2017) “Safely Viewing a Solar Eclipse” https://www.nei.nih.gov/content/safely-viewing-solar-eclipse

Prevent Blindness (accessed August 14, 2017) “Solar Eclipse and Your Eyes” https://www.preventblindness.org/solar-eclipse-and-your-eyes

 

 

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Blindness Rates Predicted to Increase Over Time

You may not realize over 36 million people in the world are blind. In addition, over 200 million more people have moderate to severe vision loss.  A recent study has found that  blindness rates may triple by the year 2050. Therefore, better vision treatment is necessary to prevent theseeye, vision predictions from coming true.

A study from The Lancet Global Health journal looked at vision statistics from 1990 to 2015. Those older adults in sub-Sahara Africa and Southeast Asia have the highest rates of blindness. Although the percentage of the world’s population that is blind fell from .75 to .5-percent from 1990 to 2015, rates are expected to rise.  Aging is the leading cause of blindness in the world.  Since most of the world’s population is reaching older adulthood, rates of blindness are expected to increase.

More funding in vision treatment may prevent many cases of blindness, researchers suggest.  From 1990 to 2010, rates of blindness went down as investments went up in vision treatment.  Outside of funding for vision care, there are many ways you can help protect your eye health. Besides seeing your eye doctor on a regular basis, you can do the following to lower your risk of going blind as you age.

  • Stop smoking or don’t start since smoking constricts blood vessels and can prevent healthy blood flow in the body. This can increase risk of cataracts, glaucoma, and dry eye, among other eye conditions.
  • Eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables that can support eye health. Foods rich in beta-carotene help to improve vision. This is because beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A, which is vital to preventing cataracts and macular degeneration.  Leafy greens like spinach and kale or brightly colored vegetables such as carrots contain beta-carotene. Eating healthy also helps to lower risk of diabetes, which in turn can lower risk of glaucoma.
  • Take eye healthy supplements such as Ocutain by Vita Sciences.  Ocutain contains eye healthy compounds such as bilberry, beta-carotene, as well as lutein. Lutein has shown to help increase density of the pigment in the macula, or center of the retina. This in turn protects the retina from macular degeneration.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

 

Sources:

All About Vision (June 2016) “How Smoking Harms Your Vision” http://www.allaboutvision.com/smoking/

Medline Plus (August 3, 2017) “As World’s Population Ages, Blindness Rates Likely to Grow” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167592.html

Prevent Blindness (accessed August 6, 2017) “Healthy Living, Healthy Vision” http://www.preventblindness.org/healthy-living-healthy-vision

Your Sight Matters “Do Carrots Really Improve Your Eyesight?” http://yoursightmatters.com/carrots-really-improve-eyesight/

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Could Estrogen Help Depression?

Every once in a while, you may feel a bit gloomy, disappointed, or stressed. However, depression is much more than just having a bad day. Depression is a serious mood disorder that can make simple tasks such as eating, working, and sleeping much more sad, anxiety, depression, menopause, mental healthdifficult. A recent study has found that low estrogen levels in some women may be linked to depression.

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), depression occurs when you have several of the following symptoms for more than two weeks.

  • persistent sad mood
  • hopelessness
  • loss of interest in things that were once enjoyable
  • decreased energy
  • trouble focusing or making decisions
  • appetite or weight changes
  • thoughts of taking one’s own life
  • aches or pains with no clear cause

Also, a person may be at higher risk for depression if they have a family history of the condition. Major life changes or chronic health problems may also increase their risk. Most recently, a study in Menopause showed that a lack of estrogen exposure may put women at higher risk for depression.

The study looked at 1300 women and their level of estradiol exposure related to their depression risk. It was found that those with higher levels of estradiol exposure from the onset of menstruation to menopause had lower levels of depression.  Also, those women who had longer term use of birth control had a lower risk of the condition.  It is important to know that the number of pregnancies and use of breastfeeding did not impact these results.

There is no cause and effect of low estrogen and depression, but these study results are still important.  This is because those with earlier menopause, more frequent hot flashes, and less frequent periods all were at higher risk for depression.  Hormone changes are likely to blame for this. During such times during and after menopause, women are at much higher risk for depression than others.

Therefore, if you feel you may be dealing with depression, there are many resources for help.  There is no one treatment that will help everyone. First of all, let your doctor know if you are feeling depressed. Your doctor may be able to provide medicines that may make dealing with your depression easier to deal with. Also, they could test your hormone levels and provide hormone supplements that may reduce symptoms. Other resources for depression are listed below.

  • Talk therapy with a licensed health care provider can help you talk about your feelings. Such counseling can help you manage your stress better and cope with life issues in a healthy way.
  • Being more active through walking, running, gardening, or other exercises. The fresh air from nature and the “feel good” hormones released during exercise can help improve mood.
  • Spending time with other people such as family, friends, or support groups can improve your mood. Talking with others that care about you and your health can help you see that you are not alone in dealing with life’s issues.
  • Setting realistic goals for yourself can make life easier to deal with. Taking small steps towards your goals can make life seem less overwhelming. You should celebrate each small victory and don’t be afraid to ask others for help along the way.
  • Ask your doctor about trying certain supplements such as Estrosa by Vitasciences.  Estrosa contains compounds such as Black Cohosh that have been found to help relieve the hot flashes, weight gain, bloating, and mood swings related to menopause. For both women and men, Elevia by Vitasciences helps boost serotonin levels which can improve mood and calm the mind.

Also, foundations such as Hope for Depression provide valuable resources to help those depression, foundationwith depression learn more about the condition. Also,  this foundation helps support research efforts to find better treatments for those with depression.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Medline Plus (July 21, 2017) “Estrogen May Influence Women’s Depression Risk” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167353.html

National Institute of Mental Health (October 2016) “Depression” https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

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Could You Be at Risk for Diabetes?

Could you be one of the nearly 30-percent of people with diabetes that are not diagnosed? Symptoms may not always be present if you are at risk for diabetes.  A diabetes, prediabetes, blood glucoserecent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that over 100 million people in the United States have diabetes or prediabetes.

Know Your Number

Your hemoglobin A1C level, or HgA1C, measures your diabetes risk. You may have never heard about it if it has been in normal range so far.  However, this number is one that can slowly creep up over time, so it is important to track.

So what does this test mean? Your HgA1C is your average blood glucose level from over the past three months.  A healthy HgA1C level is 5.6% or less, whereas 5.7% to 6.4% means that you have prediabetes.  If you have a HgA1C over 6.5%, you may have diabetes.

Recent Stats

A recent report states that nearly one in four people do not know they have diabetes. Just as alarming, over 80-percent of people who have prediabetes do not know that they have it. Untreated prediabetes can lead to diabetes within five years. Also, diabetes can lead to later problems with heart health, vision, and nerve function. Therefore, you should take steps to try and prevent this disease.

Small Steps for Health

Losing just 7-percent of your body weight can help lower your risk of diabetes by nearly two-thirds. Other ways to lower your risk include:

  • Staying active at least 30 minutes a day for most days of the week. This does not mean you have to go to boot camp or run. Walking, gardening, swimming, and climbing stairs can be great ways to stay active.
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet. A balance of lean protein and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables is important for overall health.  On the same note, you should eat mostly whole, fresh foods. Also, you should limit intake of high-sodium, high-sugar processed foods.
  • Visiting your doctor often to make sure your health is on track.  You should visit your doctor at least once a year no matter what your health status.  If you have a condition such as diabetes or heart disease, you should visit the doctor more often.
  • Keeping track of your numbers such as blood glucose, HgA1C, and blood pressure can help prevent or treat chronic disease. These numbers can be checked when you visit your doctor.
  • Taking supplements such as Glucarex by Vita Sciences. Glucarex contains vanadium and cinnamon.  Research shows that these compounds can support healthy blood glucose levels.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Diabetes Association (November 21, 2016) “Diagnosing Diabetes and Learning About Prediabetes” http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diagnosis/?loc=db-slabnav

CDiabetes (September 5, 2016) “Strategies for Balancing Blood Sugar Levels” http://cdiabetes.com/strategies-for-balancing-blood-sugar-levels/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (May 15, 2015) “2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report” https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics/2014statisticsreport.html

Medline Plus (July 18, 2017) “More Than 100 Million Americans Have Diabetes or Prediabetes: CDC” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167270.html

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Can Eating Healthy Lengthen Life?

Many diet programs claim to help you lose weight, prevent chronic disease, and improve your overall well-being. However, could eating a healthy diet lengthen your life? A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine reveals that healthy eating can extend life.hypertension, heart, blood pressure

Nutrition affects overall health in many ways. For example, those with diabetes must control intake of sugar. Therefore, natural sugars from fruits, veggies, and dairy products should be eaten versus processed sugars from colas, candy, and other sweets. On the other hand, those with high blood pressure should have a lower sodium diet. You can lower sodium in your diet by eating less processed food products such as deli meats, fast foods, and canned soups.

Vitamins and minerals from the food you eat help keep your body alive. Calcium and vitamin D keeps bones strong, while vitamin C provides immune protection.  Also, magnesium helps the body to use glucose efficiently, while potassium helps produce energy and nerve impulses.

A recent study looked at 74,000 people over 12 years, during which 10,000 of them died. The review of the study looked at the dietary habits of the people in the previous 12 years of their life before the study. Those who added more fiber-rich fruits, veggies, and whole grains had a lower risk of death than those whose diets stayed the same.

The Alternate Healthy Eating Index, Alternate Mediterranean Diet Index, and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet Index set the score of the diets reviewed. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, and other whole foods got higher scores.  On the other hand, unhealthy processed, fatty and sugary foods got lower scores. A minor 20-percent change in diet helped decrease risk of death by about 8 to 17-percent. You could exchange a serving of red meat with a plant-based bean protein for such a change.

Other ways to make sure you have a healthy diet include the following:

  • Limit sugary foods like candy, cola, and ice cream. If you have a sweet tooth, find lower-calorie options like fruits, low sugar dairy products, or flavored teas.
  • Cooking foods with dry cooking methods such as steaming, baking, broiling, or grilling. These dry cooking methods reduce the amount of fat added to foods.
  • Fill most of your plate with plant-based foods such as fruit, veggies, legumes, and whole grains. These foods are lower in fat and higher in fiber than most meat and dairy-based foods.
  • Add in a multivitamin like Zestia from Vita Sciences to fill your nutrition gap. If you are feeling tired, low on energy, or feel like your diet is lacking, a multivitamin can make sure your body gets the nutrition it needs to be its best. Zestia not only contains a full profile of vitamins, but also contains probiotic and Superfood compounds.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

MedLine  Plus (July 12, 2017) “Better Diet, Longer Life” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167146.html

Texas Heart Institute (August 2016) “Minerals: What They Do, Where to Get Them” http://www.texasheart.org/HIC/Topics/HSmart/mineral1.cfm

World Health Organization (accessed July 16, 2017) “Diet, Nutrition, and the prevention of chronic diseases”  http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/publications/trs916/summary/en/

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Could your job be causing your vitamin deficiency?

vitamin D, vitamin, deficiencyDo you spend most of your time indoors?  Does your job involve sitting at a desk all day seeing only the light from your desk lamp? If you do work indoors often, do you find yourself getting easily tired, maybe having joint aches and pains, or trouble controlling your blood glucose levels?  A recent study has found that your office job could be robbing you of the sunshine vitamin D and may be in turn causing a vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin seen in very few foods such as:

  • salmon
  • tuna
  • dairy products
  • egg yolks
  • fortified cereal products

Therefore, most of the vitamin D your body absorbs is likely coming from sunlight or from supplements.  However, if you are mostly indoors during your day, you may be missing out on the health benefits of vitamin D. Some of the functions of vitamin D include bone strength, immune function, and reduction of inflammation.  Therefore, when you do not have enough vitamin D in your body, you may have increased risk of chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. This is because such chronic diseases stem from inflammation in the body.

A recent study in the journal BMC Public Health looked at 71 previous studies and found vitamin D deficiency in over three-fourths of shift workers and indoor workers. In addition, over two-thirds of health care students were vitamin D deficient. Furthermore, even nearly half of outdoor workers had vitamin D deficiency. They think that use of sunscreen and limited outdoor time may be causing such a high rate of vitamin D deficiency. However, researchers also warn people of the risks of skin cancers from too much exposure to sunlight. Therefore, vitamin D supplements are an option for those who are low in vitamin D. Most adults should get around 600 IU vitamin D daily. Your doctor however may suggest more if they feel you may be more at risk for low vitamin D.

Another way you can get vitamin D is through a supplements such as Osteovent from Vita Sciences. Osteovent not only contains vitamin D3, but also bone health calcium and magnesium.  This formula, which also contains vitamin K and boron, has been shown to promote bone strength.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Medline Health News (June 22, 2017) “Could Your Job Rob You of Vitamin D?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_166833.html

National Institutes of Health (February 11, 2016) “Vitamin D” https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

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Could Heartburn Meds Lessen Life Years?

It may be like second nature popping a heartburn medicine at the first sign of acid reflux. However, what may seem like a habit could be shaving years off of your life. A recent study has found that long-term use of heartburn medications could lessen life years.

Gastroesophageal reflux, or acid reflux, occurs when your stomach contents come back through your esophagus. Furthermore, heartburn occurs when acid from your stomach lining comes back through the esophagus. GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux, is when acid acid reflux, heartburn, GERDreflux occurs for twice a week for more than a few weeks. Uncontrolled GERD can lead to respiratory problems or conditions such as esophagitis, which is an inflammation of the esophagus.

A recent study in the British Medical Journal Open looked at the medical records of thousands of people who use proton pump inhibitors (PPI). PPI’s include such medications like Nexium, Prilosec, or Prevacid.  The study found that those who used the drugs for more than a year had a 51-percent increased risk of premature death as compared to those who did not take them.  Short-term use of 90 days or less did not reveal any health risk.

PPI’s work by blocking the system that produces stomach acid. In turn, long term use of such medicines can increase risk of kidney disease, heart disease, pneumonia, bone fractures and dementia. This is not to say that such medicines are not useful. PPI’s can aid people with acid reflux. However, use of this medicine should be supervised by a healthcare professional. In addition, use of such medicines should not be used longer than truly needed for treatment of acid reflux.

Here are some ways you can naturally lessen your risk of getting heartburn:

  • Eating smaller meals throughout the day versus larger meals. A lot of pressure can be placed on the stomach when eating a lot of food at one sitting. This can cause food particles to be pushed back up through the esophagus.  This can throw acid from the stomach into your esophagus, thus causing heartburn. Therefore, eat more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day to allow time for your body to fully digest your food, and to prevent any stomach acid from causing discomfort.
  • Wear looser clothes. Wearing tight fitting clothes can place pressure on your digestive system, which can increase risk of acid reflux.  Therefore, if last year’s jeans are feeling a bit snug, stop by the store to invest in a looser pair.
  • Exercise more often.  Staying active can help improve digestion and can also lead to better weight management, which both can assist in preventing acid reflux.  Therefore, find ways to get your steps in everyday. Walking, water aerobics, biking, or gardening are just a few ways to stay active. Every movement is one step closer to improved health.
  • Start taking a probiotic such as Biovia 30 by Vita Sciences. Biovia 30 contains a blend of probiotic strains that help to support improved digestive health. This particular probiotic helps to build good bacteria and rid of bad bacteria that may be wreaking havoc on your digestive system.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Medline Health News (July 3, 2017) “Can Your Heartburn Meds Shorten Your Life?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167005.html

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (November 2014) “Symptoms and Causes of GER & GERD”

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Can Yoga Soothe Back Pain?

Yoga may bring images of flexible lean figures bending their bodies in all different directions. Therefore, yoga may not come to mind when it comes to a solution for back pain.  yogaHowever, research shows that yoga can soothe back pain as well as physical therapy.

According to the National Institutes of Health, yoga is a mind and body practice that involves physical postures, breathing techniques, as well as methods of meditation and relaxation.  Yoga is good for improving muscle tone and strength, improving respiration, and reducing weight, among other things.

A recent study at Boston Medical Center looked at 320 patients that had persistent back pain for 12 weeks. The patients were assigned to either 12 weekly yoga classes, 15 physical therapy sessions, or  a book on how to manage back pain.  Nearly one-half of those who took yoga classes had “clinically meaningful” improvement. Also, 37-percent of physical therapy patients and 23-percent of book group patients, respectively felt similar improvement. The difference between the yoga and physical therapy results was not considered significant.

The lead researcher noted that both the yoga and physical therapy patients had pain relief for 12 months. However, he also suggests that not all forms of yoga are appropriate for those with back pain. The gentle yoga used in the study offered chairs and props. Therefore the study yoga was easy on the joints versus other types of yoga.

Yoga, however, is not effective for everyone with pain issues.  Acupuncture, massage, or natural supplements such as Vita Science’s Relocane can also help relieve pain.  Relocane contains natural ingredients such as turmeric and ginger that can decrease inflammation and help relieve minor aches, pains, and muscle cramps.  Use this supplement by Vita Sciences as part of your daily health regimen to feel your best. However, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement or exercise program.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Osteopathic Association (accessed June 26. 2017) “The Benefits of Yoga” http://www.osteopathic.org/osteopathic-health/about-your-health/health-conditions-library/general-health/Pages/yoga.aspx

Medline Plus (June 19, 2017) “Yoga Soothes Back Pain” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_166742.html

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (August 26, 2016) “Yoga” https://nccih.nih.gov/health/yoga

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Are healthy fats as effective as statins in lowering cholesterol?

High cholesterol is a common risk factor for heart disease. Over 31 million Americans have high cholesterol. The common treatment for this condition has been medicines known as statins. However, a recent study by the American Heart Association has found that eating foods containing cholesterol, statin, healthy fatshealthy fats may work to lower cholesterol as well as statins.

You may think if you lower cholesterol in your diet, then you can lower blood cholesterol. However, it is saturated fat intake that has an impact on your cholesterol levels. There are two main types of cholesterol: High-density lipoproteins (HDL) and Low-density lipoproteins (LDL). The HDL, or “good” cholesterol, carries LDL, the “bad” cholesterol away from the heart to the liver to be broken down and used by the body for energy.  Also, LDL  can build up in the arteries causing plaques. This in turn can increase risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

Statins work to lower cholesterol by preventing cholesterol from forming in the liver. Therefore, this reduces the amount of cholesterol that circulates in the blood.  Furthermore, statins also work to increase HDL cholesterol in the blood. Recent studies have shown that consuming healthy fats in the diet can provide these same benefits.

The American Heart Association has found that replacing saturated fats with healthier plant-based fats in the diet can be just as effective in lowering cholesterol as statin drugs. These healthy fats, or unsaturated fats,  help improve cholesterol.  Fatty fish like salmon or trout, nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, and olive oil contain such healthy fats.  In particular, clinical trials have found that replacing saturated fats in the diet with healthier polyunsaturated fats can reduce cholesterol by 30-percent.  It is important to note that this reduction is similar to the effect of statins on cholesterol levels.

Therefore, in order to lower cholesterol, swap out saturated fat foods such as fried foods, fatty meats, and processed food products with healthier fat options.  This small swap can make a world of difference in your heart health.

In addition to diet changes, you can add in a supplement such as Vita Sciences’ AlestraAlestra contains heart-healthy compounds such as niacin, plant sterols, and garlic. These compounds have been found to support healthy cholesterol levels and promote heart health. However, be sure to ask your healthcare provider before adding any new supplements to your routine.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Heart Association (April 2017) “HDL (Good), LDL (Bad) Cholesterol and Triglycerides,” “The Skinny on Fats” &”Cholesterol Medications” http://www.heart.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (March 17, 2015) “High Cholesterol Facts” https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/facts.htm

Medline Plus (June 15, 2017) “Healthy Dietary fats Help Beat High Cholesterol” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_166625.html

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