You Wanted to Know: High-Protein Diets

5-041-Greek-Yogurt-MEDIA-720_0

With so many diets out there, I understand why it can be hard to figure out where to start when you want to lose weight. It can be especially challenging to figure out what the pros and cons of each plan are which then makes it hard for you to compare diets to each other. I’m guessing this is where Michelle’s question came from:

High protein Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: Dairy, Mini Stomachs and Political Leanings

Milk consumption related to increased fracture risk. If you’re a woman, you’ve probably been told many times to get enough milk to keep your bones strong into old age. But a massive study out of Sweden has found that advice may be woefully incorrect. “A team of scientists in Sweden examined the dietary habits of 61,400 women in 1987-1990 and 45,300 men in 1997 and then monitored their health for years afterwards…. In the 20-year follow-up period in which the women were monitored, those who drank more than three glasses, or 680 ml, of milk a day were more likely to develop fractures than those who had consumed less. The high-intake group had a higher risk of death too.” But dairy isn’t all bad. “When fermented milk products such as yoghurt were considered, the opposite pattern was observed–people who consumed more had a lower risk of fractures. The authors think this could be due to sugars in milk, which have been shown to accelerate ageing in some early animal studies.” (BBC)

Researchers have made mini stomachs for research. While the stomach might not seem like an overly complex organ, it’s been hard to replicate its microscopic structure in the lab. That’s because many different types of cells are involved in the digestion of your food. “These mini-stomachs aren’t exactly tiny versions of the organ that digests your food, but they’re a big step in the right direction. In fact, the organoid is basically like a stomach you’d find in a very developed fetus, or perhaps in a newborn baby. It’s not quite fully developed.” The development is a first step in allowing “researchers to better study illnesses of the stomach, like those that cause ulcers and even cancer. The tissue may even be used as a treatment in and of itself by way of tiny grated patches that would grow over ulcerated stomachs.” While the research is exciting, it still has its limitations. “Those stomach-like organoids grow from stem cells in around a month, but they don’t get past an embryonic stage of development.” (Washington Post)

Your brain reveals your political leanings. While many of us think we have well-thought-out reasons for our political leanings, it may have more to do with the nuances of how your brain is wired. “A team of scientists who studied the brains of liberal, moderate and conservative people found that they could tell who leaned left and who leaned right based on how their brains responded to disgusting pictures.” The researchers used MRI to look at at how the brains of participants responded to pleasant, neutral and disgusting pictures. “When shown a disgusting image–particularly one of a mutilated animal body–the conservatives’ brains reacted more strongly and in different ways, compared with the liberals’ brains. Although our results suggest that disgusting pictures evoke very different emotional processing in conservatives and liberals, it will take a range of targeted studies in the future to tease apart the separate contribution of each brain circuit. The difference between the two groups was stark in spite of the fact that, oddly enough, these neural responses didn’t match the conscious ratings that participants gave those pictures.” The research shows much more goes into why we hold out political ideas than just reasoned argument. (LA Times)

As Many as 20% of Schizophrenia Cases May Be Related to Toxoplasmosis

woman with cat

Most have only heard of the little parasite Toxoplasma gondii in the context of cats and pregnant women. If you’ve been pregnant, you may have heard your doctor tell you to steer clear of the kitty litter.  This is because Toxoplasma, which infects cats, can pass to humans through cat feces and infect the developing fetus. That infection can lead to a host of problems like hearing loss, vision problems, jaundice and low birth weight. Read more  »

Does Cancer Grow More Aggressively at Night?

woman-sleeping-at-night

Scientists studying relationships among different types of cells have encountered some new and potentially important information about how—and when—cancerous tumors grow most aggressively. According to a new study cancerous tumors may grow faster at night, during the hours typically taken up by sleep. Their discovery may point the way toward new, sleep rhythm-aligned strategies for treating cancer.

Researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science have found evidence that some cancers may grow more quickly during nighttime, resting hours than during the waking day. Read more  »

How the Fall Can Spice Up Your Mundane Meals

Spices and herbs

As fall moves into full swing, I always love to break out a variety of spices to get my meals into the spirit of the season. The holiday season brings with it a number of tastes and aromas, from allspice to cinnamon and cloves, that transform even the most mundane foods. While many think of fall food as full of temptation, the spices of the season can be used to make healthy food tasty as well. Here are few tips you can use to transform your health while also doing your taste buds a favor. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: Heart Failure, Chocolate and the Body Clock

Gut microbes may play a role in heart failure. We’ve heard a lot lately about how the bacteria in and on our bodies can affect our health, but it looks like these microscopic passengers are responsible for a wider variety of disease than we thought. “In a new study, a team of researchers found that high-fat, high-cholesterol foods put some people at higher risk of developing heart failure because of the microbes in their body that are part of the digestive process. People with these microbes may also be at risk for more severe consequences from heart failure, including death. Since people have different levels of these microbes and the products they release into blood, a simple blood test may be able to tell us who’s at greater risk.” The researchers still say that maintaining a healthy diet is the best way to avoid heart disease, but their research brings us one step closer to understanding exactly how diet influences our health and figuring out who needs special attention. (Fox)

Chocolate may help with your memory. A key component of many delicious desserts, dark chocolate is also rich in healthful antioxidants and flavanols that can help stave off a variety of diseases. New research is showing it may also help with memory. “After three months of consuming a special cocoa concoction, someone with the typical memory of a 60-year-old improved their memory to that of a 30- or 40-year-old, the researchers reported.” But they point out you shouldn’t run out and buy that chocolate bar just yet. “Flavanols are found in many types of foods, including tea leaves, fruits and vegetables, as well as raw cocoa. However, the manner in which most consumer chocolate products are produced renders them flavanol-free. The study therefore relied on a process developed by the food company Mars Inc. that could specifically preserve and isolate the flavanol in powder form, before being mixed into either water or milk for consumption.” The research shows that what we eat may have an important effect on how our brain works, but more research is needed to understand exactly how this occurs. (CBS)

The internal body clock drives many cellular processes. Most of us notice our body clock only when dragging ourselves out of bed after a late night or when making an international flight. Now new research is showing that our internal body clock determines more than just when we go to bed and wake up. “Researchers investigated the impact of the time of day on the way DNA functions in experiments on mice. Every two hours they looked at samples from the kidney, liver, lung, adrenal gland, aorta, brainstem, cerebellum, brown fat, white fat, heart, hypothalamus, lung and skeletal muscle. They showed that 43% of genes, sections of DNA, involved in protein manufacture altered their activity throughout the day. Two major windows of activity were observed in the study – dawn and dusk.” The research builds on observations that certain drugs work better at certain times of the day. “Heart disease, for example, is driven by artery-clogging cholesterol, which is mostly made in the liver at night. Taking statins in the evening makes them more effective.” The findings of the research could help doctors better understand when certain medications may be most effective as treatment for certain conditions. (BBC)

Human Growth Hormone Is a Growth Industry, but Should You Try It?

hgh-injection

There I was, heading undercover again for Dr. Oz to see how doctors present the pros and cons of human growth hormone as an anti-aging and body-sculpting treatment. The boss types sprang this one on us last minute so my team and I were worried about whether we’d even be able to get doctor’s appointments in time to make air for the show. Silly me! With no trouble at all, I soon had appointments at—count ‘em—five medical facilities that all offered HGH injections, ranging from simple doctors’ offices to swanky anti-aging clinics. Read more  »