The Amazing Healing Powers of This Fruit

It’s great when a food is not only healthy but also delicious. Such is the case with kiwifruit. This tasty fruit has become a well-known staple in North American grocery stores — which is a lucky thing for you! Kiwis are full of super- charged nutrients. They’re high in vitamins C and E, flavonoids, and carotenoids, as well as other beneficial compounds. Continue reading

Turmeric Fights Tumors

Turmeric, the spice that makes mustard yellow, has medical folks making plans for a new weapon in the war on cancer. An extract of the turmeric root contains the phytochemical curcumin, which has been shown to eliminate cancer cells from the body. And it costs as little as $8 to administer at levels that rival the effects of chemotherapy.

Turmeric, a perennial herb prized in Ayurvedic medicine, is also known as the gold-colored Indian spice used to make curry. Now, it’s winning renown as nutritional chemotherapy.

Growing Popularity

This low-cost, natural substance is taken by countless people every day to prevent cancer — and at chemotherapy levels to treat cancer in early and advanced stages without side effects.

Curcumin is one of hundreds of natural chemicals Continue reading

Depression Leads to Protein Linked to Heart Disease

BLOOMINGTON – Depression leads to elevated inflammatory proteins in the human body, according to researchers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Led by Dr. Jesse Stewart, researchers found that depressive symptoms are associated with increases over time in interleukin-6, an inflammatory protein that predicts cardiovascular events.

On the other hand, levels of interleukin-6 were not linked to subsequent increases in depressive symptoms.

The new study is the first to examine both directions of the depression-inflammation connection and to measure the physical symptoms of depression, such as fatigue and sleep disturbance, in addition to the cognitive-emotional symptoms, such as pessimism and sadness.

While many previous studies have linked depression to increased inflammatory protein levels measured at the same time, but they couldn’t speak to which is the cause and which is the effect.

“There is two-way communication between the brain and the immune system, so we had to determine whether activation of the body’s immune system sent a signal to the brain to affect mood and behavior or whether the depression activated the immune system,” said Dr. Stewart.

The participants in the study consisted of 263 healthy men and women aged 50-70 years at the start of the study.

They were tested at baseline and again six years later to determine their levels of depressive symptoms and interleukin-6.

Levels of C-reactive protein, another inflammatory protein, were also measured but were not related to depression.

Stewart said that the strength of the association of depression with future heart disease is similar to that of traditional risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol.

“Promotion of inflammation may be one pathway through which depression may ‘get under the skin’ to negatively influence cardiovascular health. The link to cardiovascular disease demonstrates that there may be physical as well as mental health reasons to treat depression,” said Stewart.

The study has been published in the latest issue of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

Large Thighs May Protect Heart

COPENHAGEN – Men and women with thighs over 60cm (23.6in) in circumference have a lower risk of heart disease and early death, a study of 3,000 people suggests.

The relationship remains even when body fat, smoking and blood cholesterol are taken into account, a Danish team says.

Those with narrow thighs may not have enough muscle mass to deal with insulin properly, raising the risk of diabetes and, in turn, heart disease, they say.

Experts cautioned that the research needed corroborating.

Some said it was too early to change current advice on eating and exercise for heart health, but the researchers said thigh size could be used as a marker for at-risk patients.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, followed men and women in Denmark for more than 10 years.

They were measured for height, weight and thigh, hip and waist circumference and their overall percentage of body fat was calculated.

It’s a very simple, very crude measure but it seems to have an individual effect. And it may be a way for doctors to assess risk

The thigh measurement was taken just below the gluteal fold, which is the crease caused by your buttocks.

Researchers also looked at the activity levels of the participants, whether they smoked, their blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

They then monitored incidence of heart disease over 10 years and death rates over 12-and-a-half years.

During this time, 257 men and 155 women died, 263 men and 140 women developed cardiovascular disease and 103 men and 34 women suffered from heart disease.

The team at the Copenhagen University Hospital found that those with the smallest thighs – below 55cm – had twice the risk of early death or serious health problems.

Professor Berit Heitmann, who led the research, said: “The increased risk was independent of abdominal and general obesity and lifestyle and cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure.

“Additionally we found that the risk was more highly related to thigh circumference than to waist circumference.

“It’s a very simple, very crude measure but it seems to have an individual effect. And it may be a way for doctors to assess risk.

“The nice thing is that if you have a small thigh you can do something about it through exercise.”

Previous studies have suggested that a waist circumference of over 35in (88.9cm) for a woman and 40in (101.6cm) for a man indicated a high risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.

Professor Heitmann‘s team says the risk of narrow thighs could be associated with too little muscle mass.

They say this can lead to the body not responding to insulin properly, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and, in the long-run, heart disease.

Too little fat can also lead to adverse changes in the way the body breaks down food.

British Heart Foundation senior cardiac nurse Judy O’Sullivan said: “There is insufficient evidence to confirm that a low thigh circumference affects a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

“However, low muscle mass is associated with low levels of physical activity which is an established risk factor for developing heart disease.”

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, agreed that the research needed further corroboration, saying: “This is a very interesting and slightly counter-intuitive piece of work but it has to be respected because of the numbers looked at and the duration of the research.

This must be great news for people with larger thighs. What I find fascinating is that researchers are now going back to the drawing board and looking for every possible way of mitigating obesity.”

Calorie Restriction Reduces Disease and Extends Life

In literally thousands of experiments, on a wide range of animals (almost certainly to include humans!), calorie restriction has greatly extended maximum and average lifespans and improved disease resistance, including resistance to many cancers. There is still uncertainty about why calorie restriction has these desired effects. Two important reasons proposed for the benefits of calorie restriction are: 1) fewer calories mean that there will be a reduction in the accumulation of oxidant and free-radical damage, and 2) fewer calories alter fat deposition, obesity, and hormones. The practical effect of this is improve the immune response of calorie-restricted (hereafter CR) animals.

There are numerous reputable websites to learn more about the underlying animal studies (preliminary corroborative results are now coming out on the rhesus monkey experiments currently underway). Indeed, there are already convincing studies demonstrating the health benefits (and, no doubt, the longevity benefits…though not enough time has passed to observe these!) in humans.

For present purposes, that CR—with adequate or optimal nutrition (the first controversy)–is good for your prospects for a long, healthy life will be taken as a given. The science is unambiguous and the life extension benefits have been known (surprisingly) since 1935. The interesting questions revolve around related issues.

What is Calorie Restriction?

You might (in an ideal world) want to get an extensive blood test, so that you can verify for yourself the benefits of CR as they occur. Also, in an ideal world, you would want to calculate how many calories you are currently eating. This will add some useful precision, if others are to learn from your experience with CR—remember that you are a pioneer and that leaving a record is a good thing. But, unfortunately, I did not do the latter, so I have only a loose understanding of what percentage of CR I am engaged in at any particular time.

The range of recommended calorie restriction levels is from 10% to 25% from the unrestricted diet (Walford believes most people should start CR with 1,800 to 2,200 calories per day). But, you don’t want to lose too much weight and you don’t want to lose it too fast! A number of ways of thinking about CR have emerged. If you feel weak, lightheaded, or are overly tired and sleep a lot, you are either losing too fast or not getting enough nutrition with your reduced caloric intake—you should feel better, not worse, if things are going right.

To give a reference, it would be difficult for most people to lose more than a pound a week of true weight (ignoring water) in a healthy way. Since a pound loss (3500 calories, roughly) in a week breaks down to 500 calories per day, that is a quite substantial restriction (16.7% CR if one is initially at 3,000 calories a day, which is plenty of food). Note that the “Percent Daily Values” on all of the food packages these days refer to a 2,000-calorie diet, with gram numbers also being given for the 2,500 calorie diet. If you were eating at those levels before restriction, losing one pound a week would be 25% and 20% CR respectively.

So, you are “safer” to take six weeks to lose 6 pounds, though this, too, is likely to vary with the individual. When I lost 12 pounds in that time (2 per week), I felt very bad, but Ray (another CR Society member) lost 15 pounds in 6 weeks and felt fine. The key is to be guided by how you feel–you are supposed to feel better, not worse. If you feel worse, lose more slowly. Remember that when you are losing fat you are also losing muscle along with that fat; you may also be releasing toxins stored in fat too rapidly.

Also, and especially if you are moderately to very active, you will find your fat percentage declining steadily as you lose weight. Walford believes that you should not let that fall below 6-10% for men and 10-15% for women. This is not terribly likely to happen for most people on CR—the 1990 mean values for males between 40 and 75 years old varied from 25.3 to 26.8% while the female means were 34.9 to 39.0% for those age groups! For men between 40 and 75, a 13 to16% body fat will put you in the lowest 5% of the nation, while for women, a 25 to 28% body fat will also make them leaner than 19 out of 20 people!

And, we’ve gotten a bit fatter since 1990. So, it’s not too likely that you will acquire a dangerously low fat percentage. Despite Walford’s warning, having quite low body fat percentages may not be so terribly undesirable at least for particular individuals (Frank Shorter was estimated to be only 1-3% fat when he won the Olympic marathon in 1972!).

A rough measure of how fat people are is the Body Mass Index or BMI. This can be calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms (2.2 pounds to a kilogram) by the square of your height in meters (39.4 inches to a meter). Thus, if you weigh 150 lbs. (68.2kg) at a height of 5’9″ (69″ or 1.75m) tall and weigh 150 lbs., your BMI is 68.2kg/3.0625 = 22.3. Traditional nutrition/health sources say that the BMI for “normal” men and women should be in the range of 20-27, which roughly corresponded to the 10th and 75th percentile values in 1971-74. For a flavor of where you stand, from 1990 data (we’ve gotten fatter since then!)

Women generally have lower BMIs, except among the very obese, where there are more women than men. The reconciliation of these BMI data with the earlier data that indicated that women have higher fat percentages (true at every BMI) than men comes via the greater amount of lean body mass among men. I would guess that the average BMI of the members of the CR Society (a newsgroup on the web) would be well under 21, with many as low as 17. A recent study has indicated that those with lower BMIs are much healthier and less prone to disease and premature death than those with high BMIs.

While perhaps a depressing revelation for many, it turns out that you do not get CR’s health benefits by losing weight via increased caloric expenditure. It is true that a typical person could lose 1 pound a week either by restricting calories an average of 500 per day or by running 5 miles every day (losing an average of 100 calories per mile more-or-less regardless of speed) and eating the original number of calories.

The reason exercise does not give CR benefits even if it gave equivalent CR weight stems from how CR is hypothesized to work. Food is the source of 90% of the oxidants or free radicals in the body—reducing food reduces oxidative damage. Exercise, ironically, actually contributes to free radical formation by burning that food faster. These negative effects are for most people (the non-CRers) more than offset by the health benefits of exercise, so that average lifespan is certainly increased by exercise. [Probably the oxidative damage is more than offset by positive effects of improved fat deposition, reduced obesity, and improved hormone status.] But a number of rodent experiments indicate that exercise doesn’t add anything to the maximum lifespan and fairly little to the average lifespan when animals are already calorie restricted.

It is the CR that gives the benefits—exercise to feel better and to maintain independence in old age, but don’t exercise as a substitute for calorie restriction. Note, too, that while CR won’t make you stronger, it will make you relatively stronger—you’ll be able to do more push-ups and chin-ups, for example, just because you have less weight to lift! These benefits will be manifest in everything you do as you move around in your lighter body throughout the day.

Comprehensive Eating Disorders Dictionary for Parents Launched by F.E.A.S.T.

Comprehensive Eating Disorders Dictionary for Parents Launched by F.E.A.S.T.

F.E.A.S.T. has launched a free online dictionary for parents that explains the complex terms and concepts used in the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders, eating disturbances and a wide range of co-existing conditions.

 An international eating disorders organization has launched the world’s first comprehensive dictionary on eating disorders for parents and caregivers.

The F.E.A.S.T. Eating Disorders Glossary  provides definitions and explanations for more than 400 terms and concepts used in the eating disorders field. F.E.A.S.T. (Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders Treatment) is an international non-profit organization supporting parents and caregivers of children suffering from eating disorders.

The new free online reference — http://glossary.feast-ed.org — contains entries for 35 different eating disorders and disturbances, along with 25 disorders or conditions that often are associated or co-exist with a clinical eating disorder. In addition, detailed explanations are provided for hundreds of terms used in the modern science of eating disorders, including diagnosis, psychological and therapeutic approaches, medical management of symptoms and complications, biology, pharmacology and clinical research.

The aim of the glossary is to give parents facing an eating disorders crisis an authoritative, easy-to-use reference that will help them quickly “get up to speed” on the technical terms and concepts they will encounter as they consider various treatment options for their child or adolescent, said Laura Collins, executive director of F.E.A.S.T.

“The eating disorders field is filled with arcane vocabulary and very complex concepts,” Ms. Collins said. “Parents need to understand these terms and concepts so they can understand what their doctors are telling them. This will enable them to ask the right questions and will ultimately empower them to play a productive role as a key member of the treatment team they put together to manage their child’s recovery.”

Though edited for a lay public, the F.E.A.S.T. eating disorders dictionary may also prove useful to non-specialist professionals and general practitioners, Ms. Collins said, noting that many nutritionists, psychologists and generalist doctors have not received formal training in the modern science of eating disorders.

Among the eating disorders explained in the glossary are: Anorexia Nervosa, Binge eating disorder, Bulimia nervosa , Compensatory Behaviors, Compulsive or compensatory exercise, Compulsive Overeating , Diabulimia, Eating Disorder not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS), Extreme exercising, Feeding Disorder of Infancy or Early Childhood , Female Athlete Triad , Food avoidance emotional disorder, Food refusal , Functional dysphagia, Hyperphagia, Marasmus , Muscle dysmorphia (also called Reverse anorexia or Bigorexia), Night Eating Syndrome (NES), Obesity, Orthorexia, PANDAS , Pathorexia, Pervasive refusal syndrome, Pica, Picky eating, Prader Willi syndrome (PWS), Purging disorder, Restrictive eating, Rumination disorder, and Selective eating.

The Cause and Treatment of Heart Disease

The Cause and Treatment of Heart Disease

The cause of heart disease is not animal fats and cholesterol but rather a number of factors inherent in modern diets, including excess consumption of vegetables oils and hydrogenated fats; excess consumption of refined carbohydrates in the form of sugar and white flour; mineral deficiencies, particularly low levels of protective magnesium and iodine; deficiencies of vitamins, particularly of vitamin C, needed for the integrity of the blood vessel walls, and of antioxidants like selenium and vitamin E, which protect us from free radicals; and, finally, the disappearance of antimicrobial fats from the food supply, namely, animal fats and tropical oils. These once protected us against the kinds of viruses and bacteria that have been associated with the onset of pathogenic plaque leading to heart disease.

While serum cholesterol levels provide an inaccurate indication of future heart disease, a high level of a substance called homocysteine in the blood has been positively correlated with pathological buildup of plaque in the arteries and the tendency to form clots—a deadly combination. Folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and choline are nutrients that lower serum homocysteine levels. These nutrients are found mostly in animal foods.

The best way to treat heart disease, then, is not to focus on lowering cholesterol—either by drugs or diet—but to consume a diet that provides animal foods rich in vitamins B6 and B12; to bolster thyroid function by daily use of natural sea salt, a good source of usable iodine; to avoid vitamin and mineral deficiencies that make the artery walls more prone to ruptures and the buildup of plaque; to include the antimicrobial fats in the diet; and to eliminate processed foods containing refined carbohydrates, oxidized cholesterol and free-radical-containing vegetable oils that cause the body to need constant repair.