Researchers have discovered a variety of components in foods that are essential to health but are low in quantity in most diets. One of these is a set of compounds called polyamines. Researchers explain what they are, how they work, and how people can replace those that are needed in the diet.
Colorectal cancer rates have increased among people under the age of 50 and that’s why the American Cancer Society is now recommending adults undergo screening starting at age 45, rather than 50. The rate of colorectal cancer among people younger than 50 has risen 51 percent since 1994 yet doctors are struggling to pinpoint the reason. Colorectal cancer is the fourth-most-common cancer among adults, and about 50,000 americans are expected to die of the disease in 2018.
For years, public health experts have been encouraging women to take folic acid supplements to prevent birth defects but a study in the American Journal of Public Health shows many women still don’t take them. The study shows fewer than five percent of low-income urban mothers take daily folic acid supplements before getting pregnant. Previous studies prove that use of these prenatal vitamins can prevent 50 to 70 percent of neural tube defects in newborns. Experts suggest all women of reproductive age take folic acid since many pregnancies are unintended.
The belief that exercise can slow cognitive decline in older people with dementia has gained popularity. Yet new research shows that’s not true. A study in the journal BMJ says moderate to high intensity exercise can improve physical fitness but experts say it does not improve cognitive impairment, daily activities, behavior, or health-related quality of life.
And finally, everyone knows soda isn’t good for you. But it may be even worse than you think. A study in the journal Obesity Reviews shows that “a calorie isn’t just a calorie” but that some are worse than others, and soda may be one of the worst. Even if soda doesn’t make you gain weight, it can markedly increase the risk of other health-related issues.
Chemicals called PFC’s are used to make non-stick pans, stain-resistant carpets and water-repellent jackets. They’re already linked to a variety of diseases. Now a new study finds that PFC’s may also make it much easier for people to regain weight after a diet. The study in the journal PLOS Medicine followed more than 600 people during and after being on a diet. The average subject gained back about half what they’d lost but those with the highest blood PFC levels regained an average of five pounds more. Researchers say resting metabolism rates were much slower in those with high PFC levels leading to easier weight gain.
We’ve reported on bullying and incivility in America’s offices recently and we noted that women report more incivility against them than men. But the source of most of that incivility may surprise you—other women. A study in the Journal of Applied Psychology shows that the queen bee syndrome is alive. Women reported that other women were more likely than men to put them down, make demeaning remarks or ignore them in a meeting.
And finally, when it comes to living past age 90, which is more important to partake in—exercise or alcohol? The answer–drink up. A study presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science shows that 15 to 45 minutes of exercise per days cuts your risk of premature death by 11 percent. But two glasses of beer or wine per day cuts that risk by 18 percent.
Dr. Robert Lustig, pediatric endocrinologist, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at University of California, San Francisco, President of Institute for Responsible Nutrition, and author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease explains that generally people believe that obesity is a calorie problem: people eat too much and exercise too little. But, he states that there is something else at play here–the enormous increase in the consumption of dietary sugar across the country.
However, it is hard to place the blame on a lack of self-responsibility. Dr. Lustig explains that evidence shows sugar is addictive and it is capable of exciting the brain in a similar way that other substances of abuse do, too. Dr. Lustig believes there are two reasons sugar has become so prevalent in the human diet: first, sugar became cheaper, and second, the food industry put an emphasis on “low-fat”and “fat-free” diets that encouraged people to eat these foods that are higher in sugar.
The negative effects of sugar are not only seen through the increase in obesity, but also in the rise of diabetes which is increasing at a far quicker pace. Dr. Lustig states that this growth in diabetes is not just affecting those who are obese, it is affecting all people who consume sugar at a high rate. He further explains that diabetes is not about obesity, but that it’s about how our bodies metabolize what enters it and the damages that these bad foods cause in the process. In order to decrease the number of people being affected by diabetes and obesity, sugar consumption must go down.
Dr. Robert Lustig, pediatric endocrinologist, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at University of California, San Francisco, President of Institute for Responsible Nutrition, and author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease
Fiber is an important part of a daily diet, but many people do not know what fiber does for the body. Dr. Hannah Holscher, Assistant Professor of Nutrition at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, explains that fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate that is found in plants which human enzymes cannot break down, so the body relies on microbes.
But why is fiber so important for the human body? According to Dr. Andrew Gewirtz, Professor of Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, fiber helps nourish beneficial bacteria in the intestine that is needed to aid digestion, keep the immune system strong, and block potential pathogens. Without fiber in your diet, this bacteria becomes malnourished, decreasing the number of them present. Dr. Gewirtz explains that discoveries from experiments on mice show that this decrease in bacteria can lead to a number of health issues.
It is important to maintain a high fiber diet in order to ensure proper nourishment of these beneficial bacteria. However, many people stick to one type of fiber rather than trying a few. People should eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other high-fiber foods to give their bodies more than one kind of fiber. While it can be difficult to consume the suggested amount of fiber everyday, the positive health benefits are worth it.
Dr. Hannah Holscher, Assistant Professor of Nutrition at University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
Dr. Andrew Gewirtz, Professor of Biomedical Sciences at Georgia Sate University
The ozone layer is coming back. After many decades of depletion, NASA scientists say the protective ozone layer of the atmosphere is recovering and a hole in the ozone over Antarctica is filling in. Phasing out of chlorofluorocarbon chemicals is getting the credit, according to the study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The ozone layer absorbs more than 97 percent of the dangerous ultraviolet radiation reaching earth.
Eating a diet high in fresh tomatoes and apples may help slow the natural aging of your lungs, and may even restore some of the lung damage caused by smoking. The study in the European Respiratory Journal shows that lung function is strikingly better in ex-smokers who follow such a diet. However, tomato sauce and processed foods containing fruits and vegetables did not contribute a protective effect. Researchers say the lungs start to decline in most people around age 30.
And finally whether a person is a spendthrift or a tightwad may be set by age five. A study in the Journal of Behavioral Decision-Making shows that children form emotional reactions to spending and saving money between age five and 10, and they translate into the child’s eventual spending behaviors. Researchers say tightwads experience emotional pain connected to spending but spendthrifts don’t have those emotional brakes. Rhose attitudes develop independently of their parents’ spending habits.
This flu season is officially “moderately severe,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and it’s likely to get worse. It’s a result of this year’s predominant flu strain—an H2N3 virus that’s much stronger than the virus that dominated last year. Vaccines are also less effective against H2N3 viruses. Some experts estimate that this year’s vaccine is about 30 percent effective at best. That’s still markedly better than the vaccine did in Australia during winter there six months ago when officials said it was only 10 percent effective.
If you want to cut down on sugar and carbs get more sleep. A study in the “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” shows that when people increase their sleep time they don’t have as much of a sweet tooth. A group of study subjects received advice on how to sleep better and increased their sleep time by as much as 90 minutes a night. They ended up making better nutritional choices–cutting down the sugar in their diets by as much as 10 grams a day and also ate fewer carbs.
And finally, to increase strength and power in your workout, swear out loud. A study in the “Journal of Psychology of Sports and Exercise” finds that cursing increases power while riding a stationary bike by nearly five percent and increases hand grip strength by more than eight percent. Researchers can only speculate why it occurs, but they know that swearing is handled by brain regions that don’t normally process language.