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Archive for the ‘Health News’ Category

New Internal Device for Vital Sign Monitoring

Modern Electrocardiogram Monitor Device DisplayIf the idea of having a tiny robot in your body makes you a bit squeamish, this new device may not be for you!

While it sounds very science fiction, a new pill-sized device, which can measure vital signs from within the body, was just successfully tested in pigs. These animals have bodies that are closely related to ours and by that token, often success in pigs yields successful results in humans as well.

Inventor Albert Swiston sent his new digital information collectors on a journey to gather vital signs from within six Yorkshire pigs. While similar devices have been created, this one multitasks and contains a microphone, thermometer and battery that will last from ingestion to excretion.

On it’s journey through the digestive system, the device records the sounds of the heart and lungs from within. These sounds are transmitted to a device that records pulse and respiration rates.

For those with extreme trauma, this hands-off vital check option can be extremely beneficial. It’s also been said to be a great way to monitor athletes without requiring them to wear bulky devices.

The current cost to manufacture the device is about $70 and the device simply paces through the body like food naturally would.

This igestible, as they are called, could also be beneficial for monitoring members of the military as well. It seems there will be many more similar devices to choose from in the coming years.

Diabetes Risk is Lowered by Eating Home-Cooked Meals

Man in kitchen cooking lunch - Focus on food

Stock your pantry shelves and fire up the stove, if you want to reduce your diabetes risk you can start my cooking more meals at home. Currently there are roughly 30 million Americans suffering from diabetes and the majority of these cases are type 2 which happens when the body is no longer able to handle large amounts of sugar.

The obesity epidemic, as it has been coined by the media, can be blamed on many people, places and things but one thing we know for sure is that the restaurant industry definitely plays a part in obesity and diabetes.  Tourists from different parts of the world are often entertained and left in awe of the American portion size that is served at the majority of restaurants across the country. It’s these same heaping portions that are consumed too often and lead to diabetes and obesity in not just adults, but in children as well.

By cooking at home, you know exactly what you will be consuming and can cut out a lot of the processed ingredients that are in food produced for the masses. Studies have shown that those who eat two to three meals at home are at a reduced risk of diabetes when compared to their peers who dine out daily.

If you are at risk of developing diabetes already, try making the switch to daily home-cooked meals and your body (and insulin levels) will thank you.

Belly Fat Can Cause Issues Even if You Aren’t Obese

Woman measuring her belly fatMost of us put on a few pounds around this time of year but chalk it up to a little holiday weight gain. A new study, however, may have you looking at your weight in a different light. You may believe if you are not obese, your weight isn’t impacting your health, but guess what? A new study shows that normal weight people who carry excess fat around their bellies are at an even greater risk of death than those who are overweight, or obese.

The culprit is known as visceral fat. This fat that is stored around the midsection is associated with insulin increase and inflammation. This is one of the main reason that visceral fat is so dangerous, it causes an increased risk for heart issues and other health problems that can increase the chance of death.

This may answer the question of why many obese people actually outlive otherwise seemingly healthy individuals. Of course, this in no way means that those who are obese are completely out of the woods. There are a variety of other health risks that come with being obese.

Recent studies have shown yet another flaw in using the BMI as a complete measure of healthy weight. It appears that where your fat is distributed has more to do with your health than what your BMI reflects.

Additional research is still needed on the subject but for those of us who identify as “skinny fat,” exercising and good eating patterns may be even more important than we ever thought.

Pain Reduction Through Meditation – New Study Backs the Idea

meditationLately meditation and mindful thought are nearly everywhere we look. It’s this idea that lead Dr. Fadel Zeidan to question how much of the benefits of mindfulness are simply a placebo effect and how much is real. In order to test the theory of mindfulness reducing pain, the assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy found 75 healthy and pain free people to take part in his study.

The study began by scanning all the subjects brain with an MRI while they experienced pain from a 120 degree thermal probe.

Next the participants were sorted in to groups of four to undergo four days of training. They were all under the ruse that they were receiving the real mindfulness training but not all actually were.

One group was given a cream that they were told reduces pain over time (it was petroleum jelly). Throughout their four days, the participants rubbed the jelly on their legs and tested the back of their leg against the thermal probe. What was happening unbeknownst to them however was that the researchers were bringing the heat down each day so the people actually believed the cream was starting to work.

The second group were taught a fake sort of mindfulness for 20 minutes which essentially just told them to breath deeply without giving them any type of direction. The third group listened to 20 minutes of a “very boring” book on tape.

The real mindfulness group sat with straight posture for 20 minutes and listened to the instructor’s guidance for how to let thoughts and emotions pass through them.

Once it came time for results, researchers found a clear winner in pain reduction.

All participants from the four groups were once again put through the MRI and thermal probe test. The following are there results:

  • The phony cream group saw an 11% decrease in pain sensation and a 13% reduction in emotional unpleasantness of pain.
  • The fake mindfulness group saw 9% reduction in pain and a 24% reduction in emotional unpleasantness.
  • The actual mindfulness group saw the biggest results with 27% reduction in pain and 44% reduction in emotional pain.

When compared to the impact of morphine on physical pain, these numbers are astonishing. Morphine has shown to reduce pain by only 22%.

Study Finds Brain Stimulation May Impact Eating Patterns

wired in‘Tis the season for two months of food-loving commercials followed by all the “lose the holiday pounds” ads in January. What if you could lose weight not just by will power and the latest workout fad but by brain stimulation?

Sounds pretty futuristic, right?

A recent small scale study suggests that perhaps brain stimulation could help treat those with obesity in the future.

Researchers followed nine obese adults to test the impact of transcranial direct current stimulation on hunger and appetite. This low current is painlessly delivered to a targeted area of the brain through small electrodes. Levels of activity in the portion of the brain (the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) have been previously linked to body weight. For those with lower levels of brain activity in this region, obesity has been proven more likely. This is also the same area of the brain that is linked to reward processing, regulating behavior and taste.

This small study placed participants on a a five-day weight maintenance diet. These adults were then given either fake or real stimulation in the lower portion of the brain. They were then allowed to eat and drink whatever they would like from a vending machine.

While the study was small and still requires more research, the results showed that those who received the real stimulation lost a small amount of weight and consumed fewer calories than their peers who received the fake current stimulation.


Gonorrhea Showing Signs of Antibiotic Resistance

Get testedWhen it comes to antibiotic use, one of the biggest fears we have as a society is the possibility of antibiotic resistant bacteria. When used repeatedly, science has shown that antibiotics may become less effective and now, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one popular treatment for gonorrhea is now losing it’s efficacy. The good news is that there are other antibiotics available, but it raises some potential concern for the future.

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection that can cause serious health issues if left untreated. One of the trickiest parts of this STI is that it often has no initial symptoms, so if you aren’t regularly getting tested, it could potentially cause damage while left undetected in the body.

The CDC reports that the antibiotic cefixime began losing it’s effectiveness in 2014. Typically the guidelines for treating gonorrhea include a ceftrixone-based combination therapy that is still effective.

Researchers will continue to monitor the decrease in effectiveness so further plans for treatment can be made in the future.

What Bacon Really Might Be Doing To Your Health…

Bacon fryingIt seems we have become a nation obsessed with bacon. We have bacon candy, bacon cookies and basically bacon-anything-you-can-imagine, but a new report now shows a link between processed meats and cancer.

For years there has been worry that bacon causes certain health concerns but it hasn’t seemed to slow down the nationwide obsession, now there is more concrete evidence that this meat may be causing our bodies some serious harm. The World Health Organization has recently announced that the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified processed meats as carcinogenic.

It’s not entirely known why this connection occurs but it appears that signs point to nitrates, a preservative found in processed meats, as the possible source of the problem.

According to a TIME Health article on the issue, the controversy surrounding nitrates and processed food isn’t all that new. In fact, it began in the early 70s with Ralph Nader pointing out the dangers of unlisted chemicals (like nitrates) in processed meats. Research continued into the late 70s when the U.S. Assistant Agriculture Secretary for Food and Consumer Services ordered that nitrate amounts be reduced in meats due to a possible cancer link.

So how is it possible we still have nitrates in meat today?

In the 80s, those supporting the billion dollar nitrate industry produced another study which suggested the previous cancer-link was not accurate. It now seems that there may have been some truth to the original research…

So what does this latest announcement mean? Well, bacon lovers, unfortunately you might want to consider the chemicals, and not just the meat, that you are consuming.

Repeated Antibiotic Use in Children May Impact BMI

Prescription pillsDoctors have warned about the complications associated with frequent antibiotic use for years – mainly when it comes to the fact that with repeated use comes resistance. The latest report, however, outlines something that many of us may not know.

It appears that when taken frequently as children, antibiotics can cause weight gain and a higher BMI.

Essentially children who were on long term antibiotic doses (or were prescribed the medication frequently) saw an increase in weight gain anywhere from 1.6 pounds to 3.3 pounds during childhood. While this might seem like a small amount, some research also suggests that there could be a lasting impact on these children which could lead to further weight gain later in life.

So how is there a correlation between antibiotics and weight?

It likely comes down to intestinal microbes. When antibiotics enter the system, they don’t know what bacteria is “good” vs. “bad.” This means that the good bacteria needed for proper digestion in our gut is also wiped out. For this reason, many doctors recommend that patients taking antibiotics also supplement with probiotics, which help replenish the good bacteria.

With the kids back in school and germs running wild, it can be hard to know when to take antibiotics. If you or your children are concerned that you are taking them too often, speak to your physician or pharmacist about the other potential issues you face when using them frequently.

Study Finds Mindfulness Connected to Lower Belly Fat Percentage

Yoga woman meditating at sunset. Female model meditating in serene harmony

Being mindful, or aware of one’s own mental and physical processes, has been previously connected to an improvement in overall health and wellness. A new study has found yet another benefit – those who are mindful are less likely to be obese and less likely to have belly fat.

This research was recently published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. Study researchers looked at data of nearly 400 men and women around 50 years of age who were part of a long-term study following them since their mother’s pregnancy. In order to rate mindfulness, researchers had participants complete the standard for testing which is called the Mindful Awareness Scale. In addition, researchers looked at participants body fat and weight.

After gathering all the necessary info, the authors discovered that those with lower mindfulness scores had a 34% increased prevalence of obesity when compared to their mindful peers.

When you think about potential reasons for this difference in body weight, it makes sense. Those who are more aware of their physical and mental health are less likely to engage in mindless eating and might enjoy the way their body feels when being active.

For those who would like to be more mindful, it is something that can be learned. Many people turn to the ancient practice of meditation to become more connected with their mind and bodies.

Lamar Odom Collapse Possibly Related to ‘Herbal Viagra’

Most of us know that we are taking a gamble if we decide to take a non-regulated generic, unfortunately former NBA player Lamar Odom might have learned this the hard way.

News of his collapse at a Nevada brothel hit the country this week and fans of both his NBA career and the wildly popular reality show ‘Keeping up With the Kardashians’ (Odom is still technically married to Khloe ) were shocked. Odom’s former drug use has been made public over the years and, to some, the news of his demise might not have been that surprising. Conclusions were immediately drawn about what caused his critical medical state but one drug that may have played a part might surprise you: ‘herbal Viagra.’

Currently, there is no generic or “herbal” Viagra approved by the FDA. This hasn’t stopped people from trying it anyway. The ‘herbal Viagra’ Odom is rumored to have been taking is called Reload and the FDA has warned anyone with the pills to refrain from using them. Prior to falling unconscious, it’s believed that Odom took up to 10 tabs of Reload in the days leading up to his medical emergency.

Reload is marketed as an energy herbal supplement that counteracts erectile dysfunction. It is not, however, FDA approved so these claims have not been investigated and may contain harmful ingredients.

While much investigation still needs to be done, perhaps Odom’s situation will serve as a reminder that non-FDA approved ED drugs can be very dangerous, especially when mixed with other substances.

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