Monday, September 26, 2016

Eating raw apple or lettuce may help reduce garlic breath


Garlic -- consumers either love or hate the taste, but one thing is for certain, no one likes it when the scent of it sticks around on their breath. Now, garlic lovers may have a new solution to their halitosis problem. A study published in the September issue of the Journal of Food Science found that eating raw apple or lettuce may help reduce garlic breath.

Researchers from the Ohio State University gave participants three grams of softneck garlic cloves to chew for 25 seconds, and then water (control), raw, juiced or heated apple, raw or heated lettuce, raw or juiced mint leaves, or green tea were consumed immediately. The volatiles responsible for garlic breath include diallyl disulfide, allyl mercaptan, allyl methyl disulfide, and allyl methyl sulfide. The levels of volatiles on the breath after consumption were analyzed by selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry.

Raw apple and raw lettuce and decreased the concentration of volatiles in breath by 50 percent or more compared to the control for the first 30 minutes. Mint leaves had a higher deodorization level compared to raw apple and raw lettuce for all volatile compounds measured. Apple juice and mint juice reduced the levels of volatiles, but not as effectively as chewing raw apple or raw mint. Both heated apple and lettuce produced a significant reduction of volatiles. Green tea had no deodorizing effect on the garlic compounds.

According to the researchers, foods deodorize garlic breath through two mechanisms. First, enzymes in the raw foods help to destroy the odors, and then, phenolic compounds in both the raw and cooked foods destroy the volatiles. This is why raw foods were generally more effective because they contain both the enzymes and the phenolic compounds.


Yoga may not count toward 30 minutes of daily physical activity, but may have other benefits


Hatha yoga is an increasingly popular form of physical activity and meditative practice in the U.S. It is important to understand the calorie cost and intensity of yoga in relation to the national physical activity guidelines, such as those recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA). These guidelines encourage 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week.

This study was a systematic review that evaluated published research investigations that have directly measured the calorie cost of yoga and calculated the metabolic intensity (METS) of individual yoga poses including a popular sequence called "sun salutations."

Based on ACSM/AHA classification, the intensity of holding most poses and of full yoga sessions ranged from light (less than 3 METS) to moderate-intensity (3-6 METS), with the majority classified as light-intensity.

A few sequences/poses, including the sun salutations, met the criteria for moderate-intensity activity. The health benefits of yoga, however, should not be discounted. The regular practice of yoga may also increase strength, balance and flexibility, calm the mind and reduce stress.

Physical activity lowers the risk of urinary tract infections



The risk of viral infections is known to be affected by physical activity, but little information is available regarding the more serious infections caused by bacteria.


In this study, the investigators examined the relationship between leisure-time physical activity and suspected bacterial infections during a one-year follow up.

Suspected bacterial infections were determined based on prescriptions for antibiotics. Via the use of Denmark's unique civil registration number (an identification number assigned to all citizens at birth), it was possible to link health survey information with information from nationwide registries.

Results showed that compared with sedentary behavior, low leisure-time physical activity was associated with a 10 percent lower risk of any suspected bacterial infection.

Further, low and moderate levels of leisure-time physical activity were associated with a 21 percent and 32 percent reduction of suspected cystitis (urinary tract bacterial infections), respectively -- compared with individuals classified as sedentary. Suspected respiratory tract bacterial infections, however, were not associated with physical activity level.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Low concentration of fish oil in the blood and lack of physical activity contribute to the high levels of depressed mood


Low concentration of fish oil in the blood and lack of physical activity may contribute to the high levels of depressed mood among soldiers returning from combat, according to researchers, including a Texas A&M University professor and his former doctoral student.

In a study titled "Fatty Acid Blood Levels, Vitamin D Status, Physical Performance, Activity and Resiliency: A Novel Potential Screening Tool for Depressed Mood in Active Duty Soldiers," researchers worked with 100 soldiers at Fort Hood to identify which factors affected moods in returning soldiers.

The research was conducted by Major Nicholas Barringer when he was a Texas A&M doctoral student under the direction of Health & Kinesiology Professor and Department Head Richard Kreider, in collaboration with several current and former members of the U.S. Army, and colleagues at Texas A&M.

"We looked at how physical activity levels and performance measures were related to mood state and resiliency," Kreider says. "What we found was the decrease in physical activity and the concentration of fish oil and Omega-3s in the blood were all associated with resiliency and mood."

Kreider says fish oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids that help to boost brain function. He says studies also show that fish oil acts as an anti-inflammatory within the body -- helping athletes and soldiers manage intense training better. Fish oil content is especially important for soldiers due to the consistent training and physical regiments performed in and out of combat and risk to traumatic brain injury.

The study originated from research conducted by Colonel Mike Lewis, M.D. who examined Omega-3 fatty acid levels of soldiers who committed suicide compared to non-suicide control and found lower Omega-3 levels in the blood were associated with increased risk of being in the suicide group.

Barringer says he believes these findings to be significant toward addressing some of the issues many soldiers face.

"The mental health of our service members is a serious concern and it is exciting to consider that appropriate diet and exercise might have a direct impact on improving resiliency," Barringer notes.

In order to properly measure soldiers physically, Kreider and Barringer developed a formula they say has the potential to assist in effectively screening soldiers with potential PTSD ahead of time. The formula measures a number of factors including: fitness and psychometric assessments, physical activity, and additional analysis.

"By improving resiliency in service members, we can potentially decrease the risk of mental health issues," Barringer says. "Early identification can potentially decrease the risk of negative outcomes for our active service members as well as our separated and retired military veterans."

"The military is using some of our exercise, nutrition, and performance-related work and the findings may help identify soldiers at risk for depression when they return from combat tours," Kreider notes. He says that by working to identify such high-risk issues faced by soldiers, it can set a precedent that will benefit not only military leadership, but also the general public.

"The public must realize that our soldiers need support before, during, and after their service," Kreider explains. "There needs to be a time for soldiers to transition, become re-engaged within a community, and stay engaged in that community."


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Early menopause: increased risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease mortality, all-cause mortality



In a study published online by JAMA Cardiology, Taulant Muka, M.D., Ph.D., of Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues evaluated the effect of age at onset of menopause and duration since onset of menopause on certain cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes and all-cause mortality.


As many as 10 percent of women experience natural menopause by the age of 45 years. If confirmed, an increased risk of CVD and all-cause mortality associated with premature and early-onset menopause could be an important factor affecting risk of disease and mortality among middle-aged and older women. To examine this issue, the researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 32 studies (310,329 women) that met criteria for inclusion in the study.

Outcomes were compared between women who experienced menopause younger than 45 years and women 45 years or older at onset. The researchers found that overall, women who experienced premature or early-onset menopause appeared to have a greater risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), CVD mortality, and all-cause mortality but no association with stroke risk. Women between 50 and 54 years at onset of menopause had a decreased risk of fatal CHD compared with women younger than 50 years at onset.

Time since onset of menopause in relation to risk of developing intermediate cardiovascular traits or CVD outcomes was reported in 4 observational studies with inconsistent results.

"The findings of this review indicate a higher risk of CHD, cardiovascular mortality, and overall mortality in women who experience premature or early-onset menopause when younger than 45 years. However, this review also highlights important gaps in the existing literature and calls for further research to reliably establish whether cardiovascular risk varies in relation to the time since onset of menopause and the mechanisms leading early menopause to cardiovascular outcomes and mortality," the authors write.


Monday, September 19, 2016

A diet that includes plenty of green, leafy vegetables may lower the risk of glaucoma




A healthy lifestyle, consisting of balanced nutrition, moderate exercise, and appropriate rest is an important part of your overall health and well-being and can help prevent illness too.

The best way to ensure that you're getting all of your essential vitamins and minerals is to eat a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables -- they are a primary source of carotenoids, which can have overall benefits for vision health. Certain fruits and vegetables with higher vitamin A and C content have been shown to reduce glaucoma risk as well. Some of the most helpful fruits and vegetables for healthy vision are: collard greens, cabbage, kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, celery, carrots, peaches, radishes, green beans, and beets.

Because oxidative stress is associated with damage to the optic nerve in glaucoma, antioxidants may help to prevent further injury. Dietary sources of antioxidants include pomegranate, acai berries, cranberries, dark chocolate, black and green tea, bilberry, lycopene (from tomato products), dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, and flax seeds.

Any specific nutritional deficiencies in your diet can be addressed with supplements that include Vitamins A, B-complex, C, and E as well as the minerals Magnesium, Calcium and Zinc. However, there is no convincing data that vitamin supplements help to prevent glaucoma. I recommend that patients take a general multivitamin if they are uncertain whether their daily nutritional needs are met.

While good nutrition plays a role in disease prevention and overall health, it is not a treatment for glaucoma. Certain herbs such as ginkgo and bilberry may even increase the risk of bleeding with glaucoma surgery. Given the breadth of nutritional supplements available over-the-counter, it is important to discuss with your eye doctor all prescription, herbal, vitamin, mineral, and over-the-counter remedies you currently take. Talk to your doctor about any other questions related to glaucoma and your diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Laughter + physical activity could improve older adults' mental health, aerobic endurance


Incorporating laughter into a physical activity program that is focused on strength, balance and flexibility could improve older adults' mental health, aerobic endurance and confidence in their ability to exercise, according to a study led by Georgia State University.

In this study, older adults residing in four assisted-living facilities participated in a moderate-intensity group exercise program called LaughActive that incorporates playful simulated laughter into a strength, balance and flexibility workout. In simulated laughter exercises, participants initially choose to laugh and go through the motions of laughing. The exercises facilitate eye contact and playful behaviors with other participants, which generally transition the laughter from simulated to genuine.

Simulated laughter techniques are based on knowledge that the body cannot distinguish between genuine laughter that might result from humor and laughter that is self-initiated as bodily exercise. Both forms of laughter elicit health benefits, researchers said.

For six weeks, study participants attended two 45-minute physical activity sessions per week that included eight to 10 laughter exercises lasting 30 to 60 seconds each. A laughter exercise was typically incorporated into the workout routine after every two to four strength, balance and flexibility exercises. Because laughter is scientifically demonstrated to strengthen and relax muscles, the laughter exercises often involved physicality in the muscles being worked in strength, balance and flexibility exercises to prepare the body for exercise and help it recover.

The study found significant improvements among participants in mental health, aerobic endurance and outcome expectations for exercise (for example, perceived benefit of exercise participation), based on assessments completed by the participants. When surveyed about their satisfaction with the program, 96.2 percent found laughter to be an enjoyable addition to a traditional exercise program, 88.9 percent said laughter helped make exercise more accessible and 88.9 percent reported the program enhanced their motivation to participate in other exercise classes or activities. The findings are published in the journal The Gerontologist.

Despite the health benefits of physical activity and the risks of physical inactivity, many adults don't engage in sufficient physical activity to achieve health benefits. Maintaining the motivation to adhere to regular physical activity is a challenge for many older adults. Adults should participate in a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days per week to achieve desirable health outcomes, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines.

These health benefits include lower mortality and a reduced risk of a number of chronic conditions, including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, colon cancer, breast cancer, anxiety and depression. Regular physical activity also reduces the impact of age-related declines in aerobic endurance, the incidence of falls and hip fracture and the degenerative loss of muscle mass, quality and strength. All of these benefits are crucial in older adults maintaining their ability to perform activities of daily living.

The pleasant associations with laughter may add enjoyment to an exercise program and keep older adults motivated to work out.

"The combination of laughter and exercise may influence older adults to begin exercising and to stick with the program," said Celeste Greene, lead author of the study and a master's degree graduate from Georgia State's Gerontology Institute. "We want to help older adults have a positive experience with exercise, so we developed a physical activity program that specifically targets exercise enjoyment through laughter. Laughter is an enjoyable activity and it carries with it so many health benefits, so we incorporated intentional laughter into this program to put the fun in fitness for older adults."

Simulated laughter may be an ideal way for older adults with functional or cognitive impairment to achieve the health benefits of laughter, which include improved physiological and psychological functioning. Participants simply choose to laugh and initiate laughter as bodily exercise. There is no need to rely on cognitive skills to "get the joke" because there is no joke. Further research is needed to better understand the underlying mechanisms of laughter, the effect of different levels of exposure to laughter and its associated health benefits.

This research is one of few studies to evaluate the potential of simulated laughter in improving health outcomes among older adults, and it's the first evaluation of a dedicated physical activity program that incorporated simulated laughter, said Dr. Jennifer Craft Morgan, second author of the study and Greene's thesis adviser.