Friday, September 25, 2009

Breastfeeding Can Help Women Prevent Heart Disease!

For years, scientists and researchers have known that breastfeeding is important for babies’ health, and now a new study has furnished evidence on the importance for mothers’ health as well.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences reported that postmenopausal women who have breastfed a child have a lower risk of heart attacks, stroke and cardiovascular disease. Their findings were published on April 21, 2009 in the May issue of 'Obstetrics and Gynecology.'

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study was carried out under the United States Federal government's Women's Health Initiative study on chronic disease launched in 2004.

After studying 139,681 postmenopausal women, the researchers found that those participants who breastfed for at least one month had lower blood pressure, better cholesterol and less frequent diabetes. It also appeared that the longer the mothers breastfed, the more apparent cardiovascular benefit.

Women who performed breastfeeding for more than a year had their cardiovascular risk reduced by 10 percent. In fact, the longer a mother nurses her baby, the better for both of them.

According to the researchers, the study also provided another good reason for corporations to implement policies for encouraging women to breastfeed their infants.

High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol level and diabetes are all known risk factors for heart disease, which is also crowned as the leading cause of death for women. As such, it is paramount for women to aware that what they can do to protect themselves.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Is Calorie-burning Fat Just a Myth?

Have you ever heard about “calorie-burning fat”? If not, you may wonder does it really exist or just a science fiction.

In reality, adults do have small blobs of metabolism-regulating “brown fat”, which scientists believe it exist only in babies and children. Such finding was announced in a study conducted by researchers from the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, Massachusetts.

The paper, published on in April 9, 2009’s issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that the brown fat or so-called good fat differs from white fat that makes up most body fat in such a way that the brown fat is active in burning calories and using energy. They also showed that the brown fat subsisted in adult humans and demonstrated, for the first time, that it is metabolically active.

According to the study, brown fat may have a role in regulating body weight metabolism. Therefore, by stimulating brown fat growth to control weight and improve glucose metabolism, the researchers believe that obesity, Type-2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders could be treated. Meanwhile, higher levels of brown fat might also help protect against obesity linked with aging.

By analyzing a database of 1,972 patients who had nuclear (PET) or X-ray (CT) imaging scans during a 3-year period for a variety of reasons, the researchers discovered that significant brown fat deposits in 7.5 percent of female patients and in over 3 percent of male patients. Most of the brown fat deposits were found in the patients' necks.

In the study, the tissue of 2 patients showing brown fat concentrations in their necks were tested and it was found that the cells had the protein UCP-1, which is unique to brown fat.

The study also found that the amount of brown fat presence depends on a variety of factors like age, glucose levels and, most importantly, level of obesity. For example, younger and thinner patients who had normal blood glucose levels had more brown fat, while brown fat was more active in cold weather as it helps in burning energy to produce heat.

It has been known that obesity, Type-2 diabetes and other disorders associated with obesity or overweight could eventually lead to heart disease. Such new discovery not only helps treat people with obesity but also helps them prevent heart disease.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Is There An Easier Way To Test Diabetes?

American Diabetes Association (ADA) reported that nearly 24 million American have diabetes, which can eventually develop heart disease and kidney disease, and cause blindness and force amputations. The majority of the diabetics are of Type-2 that is linked with a lack of exercise and poor diet.

Most doctors use one of two prevailing tests to diagnose diabetes. These are fasting plasma glucose and the oral glucose tolerance test. Both tests are considered clumsy, as they require the patient to prepare either by fasting or by drinking a sugary solution.

On June 5, 2009, researchers from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital announced at a meeting in New Orleans that a simple blood test, known as A1C test, that can indicate average blood sugar levels over the past several weeks has become the best way to diagnose diabetes. The new test, which the American Diabetes Association, International Diabetes Federation and European Association for the Study of Diabetes agree, does not require fasting.

What the new test does is to measure the damage to hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the stuff that makes blood red that is done by consistently high blood sugar levels. A hemoglobin A1C level of 5 percent is considered normal, while a level of 6.5 percent or higher should lead to a diagnosis of diabetes.

The A1C test needs only a small sample of blood. It is considered more convenient and easier for patients as they no longer need to perform a fasting or oral glucose tolerance test.

According to the American Diabetes Association, all adults who are overweight and have additional risk factors such as a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, or abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels, should go for screening for diabetes. In fact, even people without any of these risk factors should go for the test beginning at the age of 45.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Why Do People Prefer Wine?

With hot and humid climate in Singapore, people used to have an ice-cold beer in pub, party or in their own home with friends, colleagues, or family members. However, the choice has gradually shifted to wine instead. Just look at the statistical figures. In 2006, Singapore imported some US$136 million worth of wine, which was an increase of US$25 million over 2005.

You may wonder why people give up the relatively cheaper beverage choice? Is it because wine is a trendy choice or is there any other reason behind this?

Numerous studies have pointed out that the beneficial qualities of wine are somehow good for our health. The cardio-protective properties of red wine can help prevent heart disease, while the antioxidants in white wine would improve lung function. Israeli researchers had even developed a way to increase white wine’s antioxidant content to raise its health benefits.

By making use of the health benefits revealed, wine producers are able to boost their sales. Ask yourself, do people really choose wine because it is a healthy alternative, or otherwise? Perhaps, researchers might want to conduct study to find out more on this.

Nevertheless, judging from the huge quantity of red, white or rose wine consumed, are people drinking too much of the alcoholic beverage in such a way that it might just cause more harm than good to the body? Remember this, too much alcohol consumed can only damage the organs especially liver inside the body, as already proven by research in the past.

Because of allergy problem, I cannot consume alcohol, not even a can of beer. After learning the health benefit of wine, I however started consuming wine since early last year. Strangely enough, I no more have the skin allergy, as I did when I drank cognac, whisky or even beer. I cannot figure out the rationale. Maybe the quantity I consume is rather small or my body does not reject wine any more.

Drinking a small glass of wine after dinner with my wife while sitting in front of the television seems creating a very relax and pleasant atmosphere for us. We drink just a small glass once or twice a week. If you ask me if there is any health benefit, frankly I cannot see any yet. Perhaps time will tell.