Monday, June 24, 2013

Is Bariatric Surgery Good For The Heart?

Every year, more than 2.6 million people die because of being obese or overweight. A person who is obese or overweight could be high-risk victim of many chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke, hypertension (high blood pressure), Type-2 diabetes and even certain kinds of cancer.

When diet and exercise fail to lower the extra weight in the body, bariatric surgery is usually done especially when serious health problems arise because of the weight. The purpose of such surgery is to help lose weight by limiting how much one can eat or by reducing the absorption of nutrients, or both.

According to a study published on October 17, 2012 in journal ‘Heart’, bariatric surgery not only helps the obese cut the weight but also reduces risks of heart disease and stroke within a short period of time.

 from the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, picked up and analyzed 73 previous studies, covering nearly 20,000 people, which recorded weight and other health issues before and after bariatric surgery. 3 out of 4 of the patients were women, whose average age was 41.

They found that after the operation, participants lost on average 54 percent of their excess weight. 63, 73 and 65 percent of the patients showed improvement in high blood pressure, diabetes and blood cholesterol respectively.

The researchers also selected and reviewed a further 18 studies, covering 713 other patients, and found that bariatric surgery did lead to improvements in the heart function, like its ability to pump out and refill with blood.

Nevertheless, the review did have some limitations. For instance, it did not look at the same operative techniques or share the same criteria for measuring improvements, and there were also no follow-up or monitoring patients for a long time after their operation.

Yet according to the researchers, their analysis indicated that bariatric surgery is not just a cosmetic procedure but also a potentially life-saving alternative for the appropriate patients.

A word of caution is that bariatric surgery is a major procedure that could pose serious risks and side effects. Statistics show that there is a 0.3 percent risk of death, a 5 percent risk of intestinal obstruction and an 8 percent risk of an ulcer.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hypertension Might Be Curbed By Egg White!

Eggs supply all essential amino acids for humans (a source of complete protein), and provide several vitamins like A, B2, B9, B6, and B12 and minerals including choline, iron, calcium, and potassium. Eggs are also a source of CoQ10 depending on how they are prepared.

Only 27 percent of the fat in egg is saturated fat that contains LDL cholesterol. The egg white consists primarily of water (87 percent) and protein (13 percent). There is no cholesterol and little, if any, fat found in the egg white.

Egg yolk is often tied with high bad cholesterol, and that is why general population, especially those who are on a low-cholesterol diet, is advised not to consume too many eggs. High bad cholesterol is often linked to heart disease, stroke, and hypertension (high blood pressure).

Nevertheless, scientists have found that a component of egg might have another beneficial effect in reducing blood pressure.

At the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans, United States held between April 7 and 11, 2013, researchers from Jilin University in China and Clemson University reported that a substance in egg white has a powerful ability to inhibit or block the action of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), a substance produced in the body naturally to raise blood pressure.

The substance is a peptide, which is one of the building blocks of proteins. In the experiments on rats with hypertension, this peptide called RVPSL did not show any toxic effects and it lowered blood pressure by amounts comparable to those achieved by a low dose of a high blood pressure drug.

RVPSL used in the experiment was heated to almost 200 degrees Fahrenheit during preparation, which is slightly lower than the temperatures at which eggs are typically cooked. Past research had shown that egg whites have positive effects on blood pressure even after they are fully cooked.

For instance, a study published in the ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, indicated that fried egg protein had greater capacity of lowering blood pressure than eggs cooked at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

Researchers thought that egg white peptides could become valuable as a supplement to blood-pressure drugs, and the study could add to recent restoration of eggs’ reputation. But they cautioned that hypertensive patients should check with their doctors before making any adjustments to their diet.

Recently, many other studies have found that most people could include eggs in their diet without increasing their blood cholesterol levels, while benefiting from eggs’ low-cost protein, vitamins and other nutrients.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Bacteria Could Cause Obesity!

A number of things could lead to overweight or even obesity, for instance, high fat diet, lack of physical activities, genes, or lack of sleep. Researchers in Shanghai, China recently reported that obesity could be caused by bacterial infection.

In a paper published on 13 December 2012 by ‘Journal of the International Society for Microbial Ecology’, researchers from Shanghai Jiao Tong University found that mice bred to be resistant to obesity even when fed high-fat foods became excessively overweight when injected with a kind of human bacterium and fed with a rich diet.

After following an 8-year search by scientists around the world to explain the association between gut bacteria and obesity, the Chinese researchers identified a human bacterium that caused obesity. The bacterium, which is also known as enterobacer, encourages the body to make and store fat, and prevents it from being used by deregulating the body’s metabolism-controlling genes.

Enterobacter also release chemicals, called endotoxins, which cause insulin resistance and a slower uptake of glucose from the blood after eating. Patients tend to eat more since they take longer to feel full.

As part of the experiment, mice were injected with the bacterium that was found in high quantities in the gut of a morbidly obese human volunteer for up to 10 weeks. Their weight gain was compared with mice without feeding with the bacterium. The latter did not become obese despite being fed with a high-fat diet and being prevented from exercising. Results of the experiment showed that the bacterium might causatively contribute to the development of obesity in humans.

The study also found that the human volunteer, who was prevented from doing any exercise, lost 29 percent of his body weight in 23 weeks after being placed on a special diet that cut the bacterium's presence in his gut to undetectable levels. The volunteer also recovered from diabetes, high blood pressure and fatty liver disease.

Diet used in the trial, including whole grains, traditional Chinese medicinal foods and non-digestible carbohydrates, changed the pH in the gut that limited the bacterium’s activity.

Since 1980, obesity worldwide has more than doubled, according to the World Health Organization (WTO). Overweight or obese people are at a higher risk of suffering from heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.

According to other heath experts not involved in the study, it is possible that the bacteria could be infectious and picked up from some unknown environmental factor, or a parent, and it might not be behavioral after all. The new findings could highlight a way to intervene in obesity and could allow new drugs to be developed for treatment.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Can Mobile Phone Help Smoker Quit?

Smoking is bad for the health as it harms almost all organs of the body. It will lead to many diseases including lung cancer, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), heart disease and stroke. The secondhand smoke from smokers’ cigarettes can also cause many of these diseases to people around them.

Governments around the world have been actively finding means and ways to suppress smoking rate by educating smokers as well as implementing smoking bans (or some called smoke-free laws).

According to a New Zealand’s study, text and video messages that appeared on mobile phones and designed to help people quit smoking almost doubled the success rate for attempted quitters, comparing with people who did not have such assistance.

The findings, which were published on November 14, 2012 in ‘The Cochrane Library’, reported that 9 percent of intended quitters stopped smoking for at least 6 months when reminded and encouraged through mobile phone messages, compared to 5 percent who did not have such service.

Mobile phone programs involved a text message or video conveying motivation and advice sent to smokers every day for several weeks to prepare them for the designated quit day. After the quit day, multiple messages were often sent to intended quitter each day for weeks. The messages offered encouragement, tips on getting through cravings and additional resources to quit again after a relapse.

Researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand and other institutions reviewed 5 studies and compared mobile phone messaging to no extra help.

A total of 9,100 smokers were tracked for 6 months. Among 4,730 participants assigned to a text or video messaging program, 444 managed to kick the habit. On the other hand, 240 out of the 4,370 participants who did not receive any additional services stopped smoking for 6 months.

Quit smoking requires a great deal of effort and most people require few attempt to quit. Many of the intended quitters still continue smoking even if they have tried a texting program. Nevertheless, the mobile texting programs are automated and easy to scale up for widespread use. It is important to offer smokers as many tools as possible to help them quit smoking.