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)

Potassium Protects the Heart

People often eat bananas, avocados, and leafy greens for various health benefits. New research adds another benefit: These and other potassium rich foods may help prevent heart disease, ScienceDaily.com reports. Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that a high-potassium diet makes arteries more flexible, and thus could reduce the risk for atherosclerosis, or “hardening of the arteries.” For the study, the researchers fed mice with a genetic susceptibility to heart disease a diet with low, normal, high levels of potassium. The mice on the low-potassium diet had more severe narrowing and hardening of the arteries than those with adequate potassium intake. High potassium diets had the opposite effects, suggesting that potassium rich foods – which also include potatoes, spinach, carrots, and artichokes – could also help prevent heart disease in people.   Mineral Depletion. Too little potassium, calcium or magnesium in your diet can contribute to leg (Read More)

Fast Food and Infertility

Women trying to get pregnant should steer clear of fast foods and eat more fresh fruit instead. That’s the conclusion of a new study that followed the diets of nearly 5,600 women in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and the U.K. Researchers found that participants who ate meals at fast-food restaurants at least four times a week took nearly a month longer to conceive than those who rarely ate fast food. And while women who rarely or never ate fast food had an 8 percent risk of infertility—defined as not being able to get pregnant after a year of trying—the risk was 16 percent among regular fast-food eaters. Meanwhile, women who ate fruit at least three times a day got pregnant two weeks faster on average than women who ate fruit less than once a month. “It shows that healthier foods support conception,” study leader Jessica Grieger tells NBCNews.com. Researchers note that (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)

Sluggish? Tired? Foggy? Iodine May Hold The Key

Maybe it’s time to rejuvenate your thyroid – that master of metabolism. When your thyroid is functioning at less than optimum, you can bet that you will feel sluggish, tired and foggy. It is estimated that as high as twenty percent of all adults have hypothyroidism that has not been clinically diagnosed. And when the condition is diagnosed, the drugs used to combat it often yield little or no results. You see, the thyroid produces four different hormones and the drug addresses only one of these by replacing it. If you had four bad tires on your car, would you only replace one? Even worse, the “hormone replacement” drug actually depresses the thyroid from producing any hormones because it begins to feel as if “someone else” is doing its job, so why work?

Diet Linked to Arthritis

Having a bad diet may increase your chances of developing osteoarthritis. Scientists have long thought the condition was tied to obesity and excessive stress placed on the joints, reports MedicalDaily.com. But in a new study, a team from the University of Rochester Medical Center found that a high-fat Western diet caused mice not only to gain weight but also to develop systemic inflammation and an imbalance in their gut microbiome: Their colons had high levels of harmful bacteria and hardly any beneficial “probiotic” bacteria. When the researchers tore cartilage in the rodents’ knees to trigger osteoarthritis, the disease progressed more rapidly in the obese mice. When they then treated these mice with a probiotic to restore their gut microbiome, the rodents had less inflammation and their joint health improved. Study author Eric Schott says his team’s findings “set the stage to develop therapies that target the microbiome and actually treat (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)

Some of the Things They Said Were Good For Us… and Some of the Things We Were Told to Avoid

Some of the things they said were good for us… Nature Walks can make you healthier and happier by driving out obsessive, negative thoughts. A Stanford University study found that strolling in a natural setting decreases activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, a brain region particularly active during rumination. “It was pretty striking that a 90-minute walk had this much of an impact,” says author Gregory Bratman. For people with a tendency to brood, interrupting an endless stream of negative thoughts reduces the risk for depression and other mental illnesses. Green spaces may also make kids smarter. A separate study of roughly 2,600 fourth-graders in Barcelona found that those with greater exposure to nature were more attentive and experienced a 5 percent increase in working memory. Awe-inspiring experiences can help you live longer. Gazing out over the Grand Canyon or beholding an artistic masterpiece can trigger positive emotions with immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory effects (Read More)

Americans’ Shortened Life Spans

The life expectancy of Americans is lower than that of people living in other high income countries, and a new study explains why: We’re inflicting earlier death on ourselves with self-destructive behavior. Car accidents, gun violence, and drug overdoses kill 100,000 people in the U.S. each year, which helps explain why American men and women die about 2.2 years earlier than residents of Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, according to a new study by the National Center for Health Statistics. American men and women have a life expectancy of 76.4 and 81.2 years, respectively, compared with the 78.6 and 83.4 years of their peers abroad. “It seems staggering that we get two fewer years of life just for living here,” study author Andrew Fenelon tells the Associated Press. Gun deaths, car crashes, and overdoses are responsible for half that (Read More)

Cutting Calories for Longevity

Eating less may help people live longer, reports CNN.com. Scientists at Louisiana State University tested the effects of calorie restriction on 53 healthy men and women between 21 and 50 years old. For two years, one-third of the volunteers ate their normal diet, while the rest cut their caloric intake by 15 percent. Unsurprisingly, those who consumed fewer calories lost weight—about 20 pounds on average. But they also saw another benefit: Their metabolic rate, which governs the amount of energy the body requires to sustain normal daily functions, slowed by about 10 percent during sleep. “It’s important because every time we generate energy in the body, we generate byproducts,” explains lead author Leanne Redman. These so-called free radicals accumulate and cause damage to cells and organs; this damage has been linked to diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other age-related diseases. Previous studies have shown that reducing calories can extend life in rodents (Read More)