Monday, May 27, 2013

Eat Fish Might Prolong Your Life!

Eating fish is good for health. As recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA), people should consume every week two 3.5-ounce servings of fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and tuna, that are high in omega-3 fatty acid.

In a paper that was published on April 1, 2013’s in the journal ‘Annals of Internal Medicine’, researchers from Harvard School of Public Health reported that people aged 65 and older who eat fish might live an average of 2 years longer than people who do not consume the omega-3 fatty acids.

The study also showed that people with higher level of omega-3 fatty acids had 27 percent lower overall risk of dying and 35 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease, comparing to those who had lower levels of omega-3 fatty acid.

To determine whether there is any link between fish eating and risk of death, researchers scanned 16 years of data on about 2,700 American adults aged 65 or older. Those taking fish oil supplements were eliminated to avoid confusion over the use of supplements or dietary differences. During the 16-year of follow up, 1625 people died including 570 from cardiovascular disease.

Participants with highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood had the lowest risk of dying from any cause, and they lived an average of 2.2 years longer than those with low levels.

3 forms of omega-3 fatty acids were identified in the study. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) was most strongly associated with a lower risk of death from coronary heart disease, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) was strongly related to a lower risk of non-fatal heart attack, and DPA (docosapentaenoic acid) was most strongly linked to a lower risk of dying from a stroke.

Nevertheless, the researchers stressed that their study noted an association without establishing a cause-and-effect relationship. They could not determine if the omega-3 intake was directly responsible for the reduced risk of death or just a marker for a healthier lifestyle.

For example, people having the highest level of omega-3 also had consumed more fruit and vegetables than those having a lower level of omega-3. This also suggested that simply taking a fish oil supplement might not produce the same effect.

Those who are currently not fish eaters need not worry because they can always start some intake of fish and should be able to get most of the benefit for their blood level, according to researchers.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Can Fiber Prevent Stroke?

When a person has a stroke, his or her brain function is losing rapidly because of disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia (lack of blood flow) caused by blockage or a hemorrhage (rupture of a blood vessel or an abnormal vascular structure). About 87 percent of strokes are caused by ischemia.

Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide. As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 800,000 people in the United States suffer stroke that causes 1 out of every 18 deaths, or 130,000 deaths each year.

But stroke is preventable. According to researchers from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, people who have more fiber intake are less likely to suffer from a stroke.

Results of 8 studies, conducted between January 1990 and May 2012 in the United States, Japan, Europe and Australia involving around 500,000 participants, were pulled together into one analysis. Researchers spent between 8 and 19 years following those people who reported on their dietary fiber intake.

Analysis showed that the risk of getting the first stroke decreased by 7 percent for every 7-gram increase in the reported fiber consumption each day. Those who had the most fiber intake had the lowest risk of getting stroke. Even just 2 or 3 grams of fiber per day might affect the stroke risk. The findings were published online on March 28, 2013 in the journal ‘Stroke’.

The study neither proved that eating fiber could directly prevent stroke nor why fiber would be linked to a lower risk of stroke. But it is possible that food high in fiber tends to be low-calorie and helps keep a healthy weight, which in turn lowers stroke risk. In addition, fibrous food has vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including polyphenols and flavonoids that might make blood vessels more elastic.

In the United States, an average woman consumes 13 grams of fiber and average man gets 17 grams each day. Apparently these are not enough. Institute of Medicine recommends 35 grams for men and 24 grams for women aged 50 and below, and 30 grams and 21 grams for men and women aged above 50 respectively.

It is hoped that the new findings would encourage people to eat more fiber so as to reach the daily-recommended amount. Getting 7 grams of fiber is not really difficult: people just need to eat 2 slices of whole wheat bread and a serving of fruit.

Monday, May 13, 2013

How Can Psoriasis Raise Diabetes Risk?

Being a lifelong condition, psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease that affects the skin. People with psoriasis will have their skins filled with thick silvery scales and feel itchy, dry and sometimes painful. Psoriasis is, however, not contagious.

There are 5 types of psoriasis namely, plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular, and erythrodermic. The most common form is plaque psoriasis. More than 3 percent of adults in the United States have psoriasis, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

For some people, psoriasis is just a nuisance. However, a review, which appeared in January 2013 in the ‘Archives of Dermatology’, reported that patients with psoriasis had up to an almost 4-fold higher risk of developing Type-2 diabetes than those without the skin condition.

Researchers from the University of California, Davis reviewed results of 27 past observational studies from around the world and found that people with psoriasis were 59 percent more likely to have Type-2 diabetes than control participants. In particular, those with severe psoriasis were almost twice as likely to have diabetes. In the 5 studies that tracked diabetes-free people, those with psoriasis were 27 percent more likely to develop diabetes than others without the skin disease.

Health experts believe that the chronic, body-wide inflammation behind psoriasis might also be responsible for raising a person's risk of diabetes, as well as heart disease and stroke. Past research has already associated psoriasis with higher risk of having heart disease or suffering a heart attack or stroke. However, they are not sure how psoriasis is linked to these diseases.

The review also indicated that people with psoriasis tend to be heavier, more depressed and less physically active than those without the condition, which could increase their underlying diabetes risk.

Currently, there is no cure but various treatments can help control the symptoms. For example, lifestyle measures, such as using a nonprescription cortisone cream and exposing the skin to small amounts of natural sunlight, can improve psoriasis symptoms. As psoriasis has been linked to an increased risk of stroke, treating high blood lipid levels might also lead to improvement.

In another study of more than 500,000 people in the United Kingdom, which was released in June 2012, also linked severe psoriasis with a 46 percent increased risk of diabetes.

As people with psoriasis may not know about the risks they are facing, the researchers recommended extra diabetes screening and education about these risks for people with the skin condition.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Keep Slim By Cutting Down Fat Without Dieting!

In order to lose weight or keep slim, people would normally go on dieting by deliberately selecting specific food to consume. But a study conducted by WHO (World Health Organization) reported on December 6, 2012 in the ‘British Medical Journal’ that swapping fatty foods for low-fat alternatives can actually keep people slim.

33 trials involving 73,589 men, women and children in America, Europe and New Zealand were reviewed. It was found that choosing low fat foods without dieting helped people lose about 1.59 kilos, reduce waistlines and cut bad cholesterol.

According to researchers who conducted the study, the weight reduction was remarkably consistent in almost every trial. Those who reduce more on fat intake lost more weight. The study looked at people who did not aim to lose weight and continued consuming a normal amount of food. Yet these people did lose weight with reduced BMI (body mass index) and slimmer waists. The lower fat eaters also kept their weight down over at least 7 years.

There were varying ages and states of health among all participants. After comparing those eating less fat than usual and those eating their usual amount of fat, the researchers measured the effect on weight and waistline after at least 6 months.

Their analysis showed that eating less fat had their body weight reduced by 1.6 kilos, BMI cut by 0.56 kg/m and waist circumference slimmed by 0.5cm. Moreover, statistically significant reductions in cholesterol and blood pressure were also found, suggesting that a lower fat diet could be beneficial.

Cutting down on fat is not a difficult task. For instance, people can opt for low-fat yoghurts, skimmed milk and reduce intake of butter, cheese and fatty snacks like crisps and cakes.

As the study was commissioned by the WHO's Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group, its findings are likely to become part of global recommendations on nutrition.

BMI is the ratio of weight (kilo) to the square of height (meter). A person is said to be overweight if the BMI is more than 25 kilo/m2 and obese if the ratio is more than 30 kilo/m2. In Europe, more than half of the population is obese or overweight, and in America more than 35 percent of adults and almost 17 percent of children are qualified as obese.

Being overweight or obese will raise the risk of many diseases including cancer, heart disease and stroke. As indicated by WHO, more than 17 million people died of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, which are the biggest killers worldwide.