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Archive for the ‘Health News’ Category

Fructose May Trigger Food Cravings

Ripe apple with leaf

By Emily Murray

Not all types of sugar affect the body in the same way, this according to a new small study in the journal PNAS. Apparently fructose, a sugar which is found in many products including fruit, may trigger a desire for more sweets and increase hunger levels.

The study took place in Southern California and was composed of 24 participants and tested the results of glucose versus fructose on appetite. The participants were given a cherry-flavored, sweetened drink but were not told whether it was fructose or glucose. The surveyors than asked them to rate their level of hunger. In addition to these questions, the participants were also shown pictures of tempting foods, alternated with “neutral” foods, while undergoing a brain scan.

Days later the process was repeated using a different sweetener type than the test beforehand.

The result showed that when people drank fructose sweetened drinks their brain scans showed that they reacted more strongly to the appearance of food photos than those who had glucose sweetener.

It’s important to note that both fructose and glucose are similar when it comes to calorie content but where they differ is how the body breaks them down.

While this is certainly no reason to stop eating fruit, it is a reminder to pay attention to what types of sugar you put in your body and recognize your cravings as a result.


Exercise Leads to Longer Life, According to New Study

Running on the beachBy Emily Murray

It’s no surprise that exercise is good for us, but what many may not realize is that it can actually lead to a longer life. New research shows that “vigorous exercise” is responsible for preventing chronic disease and early death. When it comes to defining exactly what constitutes as “vigorous” there has been much debate.

This recent study was conducted by researches for James Cook University and the University of Sydney. More than 204,000 participants were tracked, all over 45 years of age, for six and a half years. These participants were then divided in to groups based on the intensity of exercise. One included those who took part in moderate activity (household chores, swimming, social tennis games), the next group was divided by those who took part in vigorous exercise (think jogging, competitive tennis or aerobics) up to or more than 30% of the time.

The results proved that those who fell in to the category of vigorous exercise 30% of the time had a 9% lower risk of death and those who exercised vigorously reportedly more than 30% of the time actually had even greater results by lowering their risk by 13%.

According to an article on the study, the standard guidelines show that two minutes of moderate activity are about equal to one minute of vigorous exercise.

If you are interested in stepping up your work out routine, check with your doctor first to assure that your body is healthy enough for vigorous exercise.

Organic Produce Carries Lower Risk of Pesticide Exposure

By Emily Murray

Health nutrition means a healthy youWe’ve all been faced with that tough choice in the produce aisle – do we cough up the extra 50 cents to buy organic or do we save a little on the regular veggies and call it a day?

The raging debate about whether to ‘go organic’ has revolved largely around whether organic items are better for us nutritionally than their chemically grown counterparts but thanks to a new study. we have another fact to consider. If given the option for chemical exposure or not, most of us would go with the ‘not.’ So perhaps that’s the main reason that spending that extra money is well worth it. Let’s take a closer look at the study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal and you can be the judge.

While we are largely under the impression that pesticides are “bad,” few studies have actually looked in to the correlation between poor health and pesticide exposure. This recent research however took this very approach.

Here is a list of the most common crops treated with pesticides:

Green Beans
Sweet Potatoes

OPs (or organophosphates) which are used for treating crops have been identified as toxic for the nervous system if a person is directly exposed. When we eat produce treated with this, washing and peeling the vegetables does reduce much of the residue – but not all. The grey area for us is largely figuring out how much exposure we are getting through food grown in these treated crops and how it is impacting us. That’s were the new research comes in.

After studying data from a two year range of nearly 4500 participants, researchers discovered that those who ate non-organic fruits and vegetables had higher concentrations of OP metabolites in their urine. While research is still being conducted on long term health effects, one thing is for sure. The level of OPs you are exposed largely depends on whether you eat organic or chemically grown produce. The study leader concluded with the advice that eating fruits and veggies daily is important for overall health regardless of whether they are organic or not. Until we have further evidence on the impact of OPs, it’s up to you to choose whichever option you feel most comfortable with.

Ebola Vaccination Ready for Testing in West Africa

Microscopic view of Ebola VirusBy Emily Murray

Since the Ebola threat in the U.S. appears to have subsided substantially in the last few months, it’s easy to forget that it is still claiming life after life in West Africa. Our national news has taken a step back from reporting as it is no longer impacting us but Ebola is a very real part of life for many people. Fortunately, this incurable virus is now on the verge of being combated preemptively with vaccines and there efficacy will be tested by the end of the month.


Two leaders in the pharmaceutical field (GlaxoSmithKline and Merck & Co) have joined forces to create vaccinations with the potential to save lives. Representatives of WHO (World Health Organization) have stated that testing in Liberia is set  to begin the end of this month and is also set for next month in Sierra Leone and Guinea.

This could finally give health officials the upper hand on fighting the outbreak which has now killed 8,259 people.

Ebola Facts

*Currently there is no cure for Ebola

*The largest outbreak area is West Africa

*An estimated 50% of those infected will survive

* The most common symptoms include body aches, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea and fever

*The virus responsible for Ebola is called RNA and comes from infected animals (commonly by ingesting them)




3 Ways to Boost Your Immune System for the Holidays

Green BowBy Emily Murray

With the holidays upon us, we are all busy preparing for family and festivities. While it is one of the most loved times of the year, there are some not-so-fun things that tend to come with it. Crowded shopping malls, full flights and lots of travel time expose us to lots of people and regrettably, lots of viruses and germs. While there is no way to guard yourself completely from sickness this season, there are several ways to prepare your body for the influx of germs.

Here are 3 ways to boost your immunity this season.

1. Wash your hands regularly 

Sure, it’s something we have been told to do since we were children but proper hand washing is just as important in adulthood. If you are traveling this season, be sure to wash often so you rid yourself of the germs that are often found at rest stops and airports.

2. Manage your blood pressure

With the stress of shopping, bills and entertaining, it’s easy to see way your blood pressure elevates.  Unfortunately, high blood pressure can result in a weakened immune system. Try and handle stress in the healthiest way you can. If this means taking a walk, writing in a journal or talking to a friend – take the time t release the stress from your system.

3. Don’t fall behind on sleep

Holiday parties and late nights are simply a part of the season but if you are going to be out late, make sure you are still getting plenty of rest. For the most part your immune system does a great job of protecting you but inadequate sleep can give germs the edge on your body.

Flu Virus Mutation Renders Vaccine Less Effective

注射器とワクチンBy Emily Murray

If you haven’t gotten your flu vaccine yet, you might want to take a look at this new information.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced yesterday that the current flu virus has mutated, making this year’s vaccination less effective. As a result, medical professionals are gearing up for a potentially busy flu season.

While most adults can recover from the flu, aging adults, those with compromised immune systems or young children can suffer the full impact of the virus, sometimes ending in death. These are typically the groups of people that the CDC recommends should get the vaccine.

So how do they know the virus has mutated? The CDC found that  52% of the 85 influenza virus samples that were collected between October 1 and November 22 were different from those included in the vaccine this year. This is a clear indicator that once again the virus is changing.

So far, influenza A is the most common strain being reported this season.

So if you haven’t received a flu shot yet, should you still get one? Most medical professionals are still advising that those high risk groups still receive it since it can protect against the many other strains of the virus which are currently circulating as well. As far as the idea of coming out with a new vaccine this late into the season, it’s just not possible.

Gut Microbes to Blame for Fatness or Fitness

Colony of bacteriaBy Emily Murray

The idea that our natural stature has something to do with our genetics is really nothing new but the fact that our gut microbes could be to blame? That’s something many of us have never considered.

It seems with the growing obesity concern, more and more tests and studies have recently been conducted to understand why some people seem to have no trouble remaining fit and others cannot seem to get in shape…even when literally their life depends on it. One of these studies was recently conducted in London and concluded that microbes in our gut influence whether we will be thin or overweight.

Researchers studied 416 pairs of twins and from more than 1000 fecal samples, they were then able to identify the type of bacteria most commonly associated with lower body weight.

The study of course must be conducted on a larger scale before the findings can impact treatments for obesity but researchers and health professionals remain hopeful that this new information can be used to help fight the obesity epidemic.

Store Receipts: The Latest Toxin to Avoid?

Supermarket. paper check receipt bill in hand.While many of us are believers in the old idea of “retail therapy,” or shopping to overcome stress, break-ups, work issues etc. a new study reveals that toxic chemicals on store receipts may actually pose a danger to your health.

The toxic chemical responsible for this news is bisphenol A (more commonly known as BPA). Even in small levels, BPA (a synthetic estrogen ) is linked to issues in the endocrine system. Some of the most common health issues include cancer, infertility, diabetes, early puberty, obesity and behavioral disruptions in children. Some health officials and researchers have begun to question whether the widespread use of BPA in products could be leading to the current obesity issue in America.

While many of us understand we will come in contact with germs while shopping, using hand sanitizer to combat this may actually increase the absorption of BPA chemicals from receipts.

The vast majority of the population is just hearing about this now but it was 2010 when the Environmental Working Group first reported that BPA was present on cash register receipts.

The American Chemistry Council however has attempted to squash concerns by saying “…the most relevant data shows very little BPA exposure under conditions most representative of real-life contact with thermal receipt paper.”

Additionally the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also declared that BPA is safe for use “in food contact materials.”

What do you think? Will you be more cautious about coming in contact with cash register receipts? 

New Tactic for Getting Kids off the Soda Bandwagon

hand holds cola with ice in glass isolatedBy Emily Murray

It comes as no surprise these days that soda is not healthy. Even for those drinking the diet versions, blood sugar is known to still spike from the artificial sweeteners, which can lead to sugary sweet cravings and snacking.

Regardless of this insight, soda continues to be largely consumed by the teenage population. While states like New York have attacked the soda industry by limiting the serving sizes of containers, a new study has revealed a perhaps more well-received tactic.

According to a study which was published in the American Journal of Public Health, when kids and teens learn the length of a walk that would be required to burn off all the calories consumed, the message that soda is not healthy finally hits home.

In order to come to this conclusion, researchers analyzed more than 3,000 soft drink purchases made by children ranging in age from 7 to 18 in a store located in a lower income area of Baltimore. In this area, it was determined that soda purchases accounted for 98% of all beverages purchased by children.

In order to test their theory, researchers placed signs that reported calorie amounts and discovered that one sign that mentioned it would take a five-mile walk to burn off the calories was most effective. The researchers feel that posting calorie amounts on the side of the can or bottle is not enough to help people make a good decision. Until those numbers are attached to a tangible act, they mean nothing.


Mediterranean Diet Reduces Risk of Heart Disease

olive branch and a spoon full of oilBy Emily Murray

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, or so the adage goes, but in light of new research perhaps we should be taking a closer look at morphing to a Mediterranean diet.

Researchers studied the impact of a Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, on heart health and discovered that this eating habit actually reduced the risk of developing heart disease. Participants (all 5800) were between the ages of 55 and 80 and were a mix of both men and women.

These participants were then split in to the following three groups:

1.  Those with a Mediterranean diet rich with virgin oil

2. Those with a Mediterranean diet with nuts

3. Those with a low fat diet

Researchers noted that those eating the Mediterranean diet had a decrease in obesity and have lower blood sugar levels. Additionally, preliminary tests conducted prior to the start of the experiment found that 64% of those participating had metabolic syndrome. After being on the healthier diet, more than half no longer showed signs of the syndrome. With obesity skyrocketing in our country, there was other great news surrounding the Mediterranean diet. While eating this way, participants were less likely to gain fat around their waist and therefore less likely to have diabetes.


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