Is the Flu Just a Simple Deficiency of Vitamin D?

There has been an age old question that scientists could not answer: Why is the flu most prevalent in winter? The conventional wisdom has always been that the flu occurs in the colder months because viruses flourish in the colder weather. Not so! The evidence has been around for many years, but, as with so many truths, no one was willing to give it credence until they were willing to look at another theory. Dr. R. Edgar Hope-Simpson, a British M.D., did some record keeping and connected flu outbreaks with the shortest day in the year, which varies depending on how far, north or south you are. In the tropics, the shortest days are usually in their rainy season with overcast skies. He postulated:  Is it possible that the lack of sunshine caused a shortage of vitamin D, which was connected to a vulnerability to the flu? A fascinating new theory (Read More)

The Cost of Skipping Breakfast

When it comes to heart health, breakfast really may be the most important meal of the day. New research shows that people who have only coffee or juice in the morning are twice as likely to develop atherosclerosis, or “clogged” arteries, reports The Guardian (UK). After examining the diets of 4,052 healthy, middle aged men and women, researchers found that those who generally ate a light breakfast or skipped the meal entirely had more plague in their arteries than those who are a hearty breakfast. There were also more likely to be overweight, smoke, and have high blood pressure. Co-author Valentin Fuster, from Mount Sinai Heart in New York, says missing the first meal of the day can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythms and trigger hormone imbalances, leading people to overeat later in the day. “Skipping breakfast in the morning by itself is not the problem,” he explains. “The problem (Read More)

Less Sleep, Bigger Belly

People who don’t get enough sleep could be adding inches to their waistline, a new study has shown. Researchers at the University of Lees in the U.K. examined the association between sleep, diet, weight, and overall metabolic health among more than 1,600 adults, who tracked their diet and how long they slept each night. The researchers measured each person’s waist  circumference; factored in variables including age, ethnicity, smoking, and income; and checked the participants’ blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugar, and thyroid function. They found that the waistlines of those who slept an average of six hours each night were about 1.2 inches larger than the waistlines of those who managed nine hours. The participants who slept less also had lower levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol that helps reduce the risk for heart disease, reports ScienceDaily.com. The importance of sleep should not be underestimated, researcher Laura Hardie said, adding, (Read More)

Settling the Egg Debate

You can safely eat a dozen eggs a week—or possibly more—without increasing your risk of heart disease, according to new research. Like butter and red meat, eggs are high in dietary cholesterol, and for decades many physicians advised patients to cut back on such foods to keep their heart healthy. To test the health effect of eggs, researchers at the University of Sydney put 128 people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes—a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease—on two different diets for a year. One group ate 12 eggs a week and the other ate two eggs or fewer a week. At the end of the study, the researchers found no adverse changes in cardiovascular risk factors in either group, including in blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol and blood-sugar levels, MedicalDaily.com reports. “Our research indicates people do not need to hold back from eating eggs,” study author Nick Fuller says, “if this (Read More)

Vitamin C Deficient? The Numerous Benefits Of Vitamin C

Health Benefits of Vitamin C Vitamin C is rapidly finding new applications in protecting against endothelial dysfunction, high blood pressure, and the blood vessel changes that precede heart disease. Additional research is discovering that vitamin C can be helpful in preventing asthma, protecting against cancer, and supporting healthy blood sugar levels in diabetics. While often taken for granted, vitamin C is a critical supplement in your program to improve cardiac health and avoid degenerative diseases. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. Unlike most mammals and other animals, humans do not have the ability to make ascorbic acid and must obtain vitamin C from the diet and supplementation. Signs of Vitamin C Deficiency Minor bleeding, such as nose bleeds, or easy bruising. Dry, split hair due to inadequate collagen. Slow wound healing. Vitamin C promotes collagen development in scar tissue. Iron deficiency. Vitamin C promotes iron absorption, so low vitamin C and low iron levels often coexist. Fatigue (Read More)

The Perils of a Wealth Shock

Suffering a major financial loss could lead to an early death, a new study suggests. Researchers at Northwestern University analyzed the financial history and health records of nearly 9,000 Americans between ages 51 and 61, from 1994 to 2014. During that period, about 25 percent of the subjects experienced a negative “wealth shock,” measured as a minimum 75 percent drop in their net worth over a two-year period. The median net-worth decrease was just over $100,000. The researchers found that the people who lost their nest egg were 50 percent more likely to die than their peers during the study period, and had the same risk of premature death as those who were poor or in debt. “This is something millions of people go through,” lead researcher Lindsay Pool tells Time.com. “It’s not really a rare event.” Pool and her team say a sudden reversal of fortune can lead to depression, (Read More)

Grilling Causes Inflammation

Regularly eating grilled, broiled, or roasted meat, chicken, or fish may increase the risk for high blood pressure, a new study shows. Harvard researchers came to this conclusion after analyzing the diet and cooking methods of more than 86,000 women and 17,000 men who were followed for up to 16 years. They found those who ate foods cooked by high heat more than 15 times a month were 17 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure than those who ate them less frequently. The people who preferred their meats well-done were also 15 percent more likely to become hypertensive, reports Reuters.com. “The chemicals produced by cooking meats at high temperatures induce oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance in animal studies, and these pathways may also lead to an elevated risk of developing high blood pressure,” says the study’s lead researcher, Gang Liu. Lowering the heat could help reduce these health (Read More)

Healthy Heart, Sharp Mind

Americans are constantly advised to lead “heart healthy” lives, and for good reason: Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. But cardiovascular health is also a boon to the brain, new research reveals. The study examined the habits and lifestyles of more than 1,000 people who were an average age of 72. Specifically, they assessed how many of the American Heart Association’s goals the participants achieved—keeping physically active; main tain ing a healthy weight and eating regimen; not smoking; and keeping blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels under control. The participants also completed cognitive tests when the study began and again six years later. As it turned out, people who more closely adhered to a heart-healthy lifestyle showed fewer signs of age-related mental decline, reports TechTimes.com. University of Miami neurologist Hannah Gardener, who led the study, suggests more research is needed to pinpoint the age ranges (Read More)

How to Slow Brain Aging

Rigorous exercise may do more than protect the heart, trim the waistline, and keep bones strong. New research suggests strenuous physical activity can slow brain aging by as much as 10 years, the Los Angeles Times reports. Scientists followed 876 older adults for five years, tracking their physical activity and testing their memory and thinking skills. MRI scans also enabled researchers to assess their brain health. Repeat tests conducted five years later revealed the participants’ brain function was closely tied to how physically active they were. Those who opted for moderate to strenuous exercise, such as running and aerobics, had the highest scores and lowest risk for memory loss and decline in executive function. Less intense activities, including walking and yoga, produced only modest benefits. The brains of those who were sedentary, on the other hand, looked a decade older than the brains of their very active peers. They also had higher (Read More)

The Benefits of Calorie Cutting

Even if you’re not seriously overweight, there’s a lot to be gained by cutting back on calories, including sounder sleep, a better sex life, and more overall happiness, new research suggests. Researchers asked a group of 218 people with generally healthy weights to either reduce their caloric intake or continue to eat as they normally would for a period of two years. During that time, the participants completed detailed questionnaires about their quality of life. Those who ate normally experienced virtually no weight change, but the people who curbed calories (by 12 percent, on average) not only lost an average of 17 pounds but also reported brighter moods, better sleep, friskier libidos, and an improved quality of life. Lead author Corby Martin tells CBSNews.com that calorie restriction produces a wide range of “positive biological and physiological changes,” including lower blood sugar and improved cholesterol and blood pressure.