Monday, April 29, 2013

Why High Salt Consumption Is Undesirable For Kids?

Human needs salt (sodium) to control the amount of water in the body, maintain the normal pH of blood, transmit nerve signals and help muscular contraction. Too much salt intake can, however, lead to many medical disorders including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and kidney disease.

In the United States, the recommended daily salt intake should not exceed 2,300 mg for normal adults, or 1,500 mg for people age 51 or older, or have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. Babies and children should consume less salt than adults. According to Institute of Medicine, the suggested salt intake for children age between 1 and 3 is 1000 mg, between 4 and 8 is 1200 mg, and between 9 and 50 is 1500 mg. High salt intake in babies can be especially dangerous because their kidneys cannot cope with large amount of salt.

A study, which was published on September 17, 2012 in the science review ‘Pediatrics’, reported that children in the United States consume too much salt. Conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the study found that kids age between 8 and 18 consumed an average of 3,387 mg a day.

After monitoring diets of 6,235 youngsters, the researchers found that their sodium intake was about the same as that of adults, with more than three-quarters of the salt coming from processed and fast foods.

Consuming too much salt can eventually lead to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and many other medical disorders. The risk of high blood pressure was particularly high among overweight and obese youths.

While high blood pressure is used to be an adult illness, it is now affecting more young people because of high salt diets and increasing obesity. Though the new nutrition standards for school meals are helping, the progress is slow. As indicated in the study, it is necessary to move faster because the kids are on an early path to heart disease and stroke.

DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), a dietary pattern promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in the United States, has been shown to lower blood pressure in both teens and adults. Some studies even showed that it could help reduce weight or even lower risk of diabetes.

The experts, therefore, recommend that kids should be encouraged to adopt DASH diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods; includes meat, fish, poultry, nuts and beans; and is limited in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, red meat, and added fats.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Can Beans Benefit Type-2 Diabetics?

Type-2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It occurs when body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin that is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy.

If not managed appropriately, Type-2 diabetes could lead to many other complications including heart disease, stroke, and blindness. Fortunately, most of the Type-2 diabetic patients can control their conditions with medications, regular exercises and healthy diet.

According to a Canadian study, eating a cup of beans or lentils daily might help control blood sugar and possibly cut the risk of getting heart attack and stroke for Type-2 diabetics.

The findings, which were published on November 26, 2012 in the ‘Archives of Internal Medicine’, showed that people getting a daily dose of legumes had small drops in their blood sugar as well as in blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Legumes, including beans, chickpeas, and lentils, are believed to be good source for proteins that tend to dampen the blood glucose response and lower blood pressure.

Researchers from St Michael's Hospital in Toronto and their associates found that the estimated 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease for the 121 study participants had fallen from 10.7 to 9.6 percent after 3 months on bean diet.

In the study, participants were divided into 2 groups: one was asked to increase their intake of cooked legumes by at least a cup a day while the other one was instructed to eat more whole wheat products to raise their fiber intake.

3 months later, the hemoglobin A1c levels were found to drop from 7.4 to 6.9 percent for people eating beans, compared with people eating extra whole wheat, the hemoglobin A1c levels had fallen from 7.2 to 6.9 percent.

The A1C test is a common blood test used to gauge how well diabetics managing their diabetes. It reflects the average blood sugar level for the past 2 to 3 months. It is determined by measuring the percentage of glycated hemoglobin or HbA1c in the blood.

When it comes to blood pressure, it was found that no reduction for participants with extra whole wheat. But for participants assigned to legumes group, the systolic blood pressure reading was reduced from 122 to 118 points, and the diastolic blood pressure reading dropped from 72 to 69. Blood pressures readings of no more that 120 over 80 are considered normal.

Based on lower blood pressure, the researchers calculated that diabetics getting a daily dose of beans would cut their 10-year risk of heart attack or stroke by less than 1 percent comparing to people who ate whole wheat.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Why Soda Makes Us Fat?

We are always told not to consume too much sugar because this would make us fat! Once we are overweight or obese, the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke is getting higher.

But do we really know why sugary stuffs can make us fat? Believe it or not, bacteria living in the gut can have a significant impact on our weight.

According to a paper published online on November 5, 2012 in ‘Obesity Review’, consuming high amounts of fructose, artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols (a type of low-calorie sweetener) could cause the gut bacteria to adapt in a way that interferes with satiety signals and metabolism.

The researchers explained that when bacteria in the gut process food, they release byproducts called short-chain fatty acids. These acids are supposed to be beneficial and serve as energy in the body. However, as the sweetener-adapted bacteria become more efficient at processing high amount of high sugary food, they also produce more and more short-chain fatty acids, which would lower satiety signals.

This might cause disruption in our feeling full and so prevent us from stopping to eat when we should. This could also partly explain why drinking diet soda could cause overweight. Perhaps people drink more diet soda because they are trying to lose weight. What they do not realize is that the calorie-free sweetness might confuse the brain into craving more sugar.

Also, the short-chain fatty acids can cause inflammation in the lining of the gut, though scientists have yet to find out how. But one thing the scientists are sure is that inflammation can damage gut tissue and result in leaky gut syndrome. And so bacteria leak through that damaged gut tissue into the blood stream and cause further inflammation there. This is serious since it can lead to insulin resistance and an higher risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and Type-2 diabetes.

We should, therefore, consume sugary products and even diet sweeteners in moderation, and drink more plain water instead. We should eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to make our gut flora to thrive.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Should Heart Disease Patients Have Intense Workout?

Intense workout has been found to have greater cardioprotective effects than moderate level of exercise, and higher levels of physical activity is believed to be effective in lowering cardiovascular events. But it is also known that intense exercise could raise the risk of sudden cardiac arrest and myocardial infarction (heart attack) in some persons.

So when a person recovers from heart attack or heart surgery, he or she is usually asked to do moderate level of exercise. However, a new study, carried out by researchers from Norway, found that high intensity workout might be a safe option, too. Their findings were published online in journal ‘Circulation’ on August 9, 2012.

Researchers tracked 4,846 patients with coronary heart disease at 4 Norwegian cardiac rehabilitation centers. The cardiac rehab involves follow-up medical and lifestyle care to help people recover from a heart attack, heart failure or a heart surgery. All patients in the study participated in moderate-intensity training and organized high-intensity interval exercise training.

The moderate-intensity workout included one hour of walking or other exercise that resulted in exertion at about 60-70 percent of people's maximum heart rate.

For intense workout, people trained with repeated 4-minute intervals: 4 minutes of high impact exercise, such as cycling, jogging or cross country skiing, to get the heart rate up to 85-95 percent of maximum exertion, followed by 4 minutes of a more relaxed activity, such as walking.

It was found that a total of 129,456 hours were spent on working out at moderate intensity with one person died from cardiac arrest and 46,364 hours at high intensity with 2 cardiac arrests but survived.

Apparently, the findings indicated that the risk of a cardiovascular event is low after both high-intensity exercise and moderate-intensity exercise in a cardiovascular rehabilitation setting.

Nevertheless, the differences in the number of cardiac arrests during moderate and intense exercise were too small to conclude that the intense workout is as safe as the moderate workout.

As such, it is not recommended for cardiologists to broadly prescribe intense workout for heart disease patients. People should still stick to their prevailing guidelines by doing moderate workout until more data showing that intense workout are safe.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Watch Out Your Belly Fat!

Overweight or obese persons might be likely victims of heart disease. But normal weight people who carry extra fat around their belly could have a higher risk of dying from heart disease than the obese. Fat around stomach and abdomen is called visceral fat. An excess of visceral fat is known as abdominal obesity or central obesity.
At the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Munich on August 27, 2012, researchers from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota warned that there is no assurance that a person with a norma
BMI would have a low risk of heart disease. It all depends on where the fat is distributed on the body. BMI stands for body mass index, which is considered as a crude measure of both fatness and fat distribution. It is calculated by dividing the weight in kilos by the square of the height in meters.
12,785 American adults, who participated in a national survey, were involved in the study. These participants were followed for an average of 14 years. Within that period, 2,562 participants died, including 1,138 from heart disease.
The participants were classified as ‘normal weight’ if BMI was between 18.5 and 24.9, ‘overweight’ if BMI was between 25 and 29.9, and ‘obese’ if BMI was above 30. Waist-to-hip ratio was used to determine the amount of weight they carried around their waist.
They were divided into 6 groups based on which of the BMI groups they were in and whether they had a normal or high waist-to-hip ratio. Men with waist measurement that is 90 percent or more of their hip measurement were considered to have a high waist-to-hip ratio. For women, if the waist measurement is 85 percent or more of their hip size, they are said to have a high waist-to-hip ratio
It was found that participants of normal BMI but with a high waist-to-hip ratio had the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and they also had the highest risk of dying from any causes among the 6 groups. These participants were 2.75 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 2.08 times more likely to die from any causes than those of normal-weight with normal waist-to-hip ratio.
According to researchers, the higher risk of death could be related to a higher visceral fat accumulation, which is associated with insulin resistance and other risk factors.