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  • Smart Hacks to Keep Cool During Summer Workouts

    Friday, May 24, 2019
    Smart Hacks to Keep Cool During Summer Workouts

    Summer is almost here, and kudos to people who keep up their workout routines when the heat hits. But if you’re someone who abandons their weekly exercise for a poolside iced tea, research may provide the chill pill you need to stay on track. The study, published in the Journal of Sports Sciences, found that taking a cool bath before exercise or spritzing water on your face during exercise could help keep you cool and improve your performance. For the study, researchers recruited nine trained male runners to perform three timed 5K running trials in a heated environment (91°F) on non-motorized treadmills. Two of the trials included cooling methods: The first trial was preceded by a 30 minute cool (73 to 74°F) bath and the second trial misted water on the men’s faces while they ran. The third trial didn’t include any cooling methods. During all three trials, researchers monitored the men’s temperatures, cardiac and respiratory function, muscular activation, and perceptual responses to the cooling methods. They found that:

    • The men had significantly faster performance times in both of the cooling trials compared with the non-cooling trial.
    • Both cooling methods significantly reduced forehead temperatures and heat perception, and increased muscle activation, compared with no cooling.
    • The cool bath reduced rectal temperatures and sweat rates compared with misting and no cooling, suggesting that this was the more effective method for keeping the core body temperature down during exercise in the heat.

    These findings suggest that summer heat doesn’t have to put a halt on your fitness goals. To put these tips into action, take a cool bath or a dip in the pool before going on your run. Or, just bring a spray bottle along the next time you head to the track. In addition to these cooling practices, it’s also important to take a few safety precautions while exercising in high temperatures: Wear light clothing and sunscreen with adequate SPF, and drink plenty of water.

    Source: Journal of Sports Sciences

  • Artificially Sweetened Drinks: Not So Sweet for Diabetes Risk

    Wednesday, May 22, 2019
    New Science
    Artificially Sweetened Drinks: Not So Sweet for Diabetes Risk

    If you want to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, replacing sugar sweetened drinks with artificially sweetened ones might sound like a good place to start. Consuming excessive amounts of sugar can lead to insulin resistance and other negative metabolic and hormonal changes associated with diabetes. But a new meta-analysis—research that combines data from multiple studies—casts doubt on the logic behind switching to artificially sweetened drinks: it found that artificially sweetened beverages are also associated with an increased risk for diabetes. Published in the medical journal BMJ, the study looked at data for 38,253 people from 17 separate study populations, and examined the link between the risk of type 2 diabetes and sugar sweetened beverages, artificially sweetened beverages, and fruit juice. After taking into account various types of bias and lifestyle factors, such as obesity, here is what the researchers found:

    • Sugar sweetened beverages were associated with an 18% increased risk of type 2 diabetes. When researchers took into account the body weight of the participants, there was still a 13% increased risk, suggesting that sugar sweetened drinks may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes, regardless of one’s weight.
    • Artificially sweetened beverages were associated with a 25% increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and an 8% increased risk when body weight was taken into account.
    • Fruit juice was also associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, although the findings were not statistically significant.

    Researchers warned, however, that the findings pertaining to artificially sweetened drinks and fruit juice were likely based on studies involving bias, and should be viewed with caution. Nevertheless, they concluded that these types of drinks were still unlikely to be healthy alternatives for people with, or at risk for, type 2 diabetes. Artificial sweeteners have been implicated in causing other negative metabolic changes in the body, and fruit juice may still be a significant source of sugar. So, what should you drink if you’re concerned about developing type 2 diabetes? Water—though not as exciting as some other drinks—is never a bad idea.

    Source: BMJ

  • Vegetarian Diet May Lower Colon Cancer Risk

    Friday, May 17, 2019
    New Science
    Vegetarian Diet May Lower Colon Cancer Risk

    A 2015 study found vegetarians had significantly lower rates of colon and colorectal cancers than non-vegetarians. Published in JAMA, the study looked at data from 77,659 people participating in The Adventist Health Study 2, which was designed to investigate the generally healthy habits of Adventist followers and to address a variety of questions about diet and nutrition. Researchers categorized the participants into five groups according to their diet: vegans who abstained from all animal products; lacto-ovo-vegetarians who ate eggs and/or dairy; pescatarians who ate fish and seafood but avoided other meats; semi-vegetarians who ate meat less than once weekly; and non-vegetarians who ate meat at least once weekly. After tracking the participants for around seven years, and taking into account various lifestyle factors, the researchers discovered:

    • Vegetarian diets were associated with a 22% reduced risk of colorectal cancer compared with non-vegetarian diets.
    • Pescatarian diets were associated with the greatest reduction (43%) in colorectal cancer risk, followed by lacto-ovo-vegetarian (18%), vegan (16%), and semi-vegetarian (8%) diets.

    These findings are of potential public health importance—colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the US. In addition, even though the study was only observational and therefore can’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, it is consistent with past research which has shown associations between eating red meat and higher risks of colorectal cancer, and between eating fiber-rich foods and lower risks of colorectal cancer.

    Source: JAMA

  • Cocoa Flavanols May Improve Sun-Damaged Skin

    Wednesday, May 15, 2019
    New Science
    Cocoa Flavanols May Improve Sun-Damaged Skin

    Research from 2015 found that cocoa flavanols may help improve and combat photo-aging—skin damage caused by sun exposure. The study was published in the Journal of Nutrition and included 62 women from Korea who were between the ages of 43 and 86 and had visible facial wrinkles. The women were randomly divided into two groups: one group drank a cocoa beverage containing 320 mg of cocoa flavanols every day; the other group drank a placebo beverage every day. Researchers measured the women’s skin for roughness and wrinkles, elasticity, and hydration at the beginning of the study, after 12 weeks, and after 24 weeks. Here's what they found:

    • Skin roughness improved by an average of 8.7% in the cocoa group, while skin roughness only improved by an average of 1.3% in the placebo group.
    • Skin elasticity also improved more in the cocoa group than in the placebo group.
    • The two groups showed no differences in changes in skin hydration and in the skin’s ability to act as a protective barrier.

    It’s important to remember that the cocoa product used in this study was “high-flavanol” and that other cocoa products may not contain similar levels of flavanols. Since cocoa flavanols are mostly found in cocoa solids, it may come as no surprise that cocoa powder (especially unprocessed, or “unDutched” cocoa powder) and dark chocolate typically have higher flavanol content than chocolate syrups and milk chocolate. Because of variations in processing methods, an ounce of dark chocolate may have anywhere from 30 to 200 mg of cocoa flavanols. So, when you’re out chocolate shopping, look for products with the highest percentage of cocoa to get the most flavanols for your buck—and your skin.

    Source: Journal of Nutrition

  • In Mice, A High-Fiber Diet Reduces Food Allergies

    Wednesday, May 08, 2019
    New Science
    In Mice, A High-Fiber Diet Reduces Food Allergies

    With the rise in reported food allergies, scientists have become increasingly interested in finding the cause of this major public health issue. An animal study published in Cell Reports that has identified a link between diet, gut bacteria, and the development of food allergies, could shed some light on this issue.

    In one part of the study, mice on a long-term, high-fiber diet, which was designed to promote the growth of healthy intestinal bacteria, were less likely to have an allergic reaction when exposed to a peanut extract than mice on a zero-fiber diet. The high-fiber diet was found to alter the make-up of the bacteria living in the mice’s intestines and to increase the bacterial production of short-chain fatty acids, which are known to support the health of the large intestine’s lining. The high-fiber diet also shifted immune system activity, favoring immune cells that regulated inflammation. In other experiments described in this study, the researchers found that the anti-allergy effect of the high-fiber diet relied on both the proper use of short-chain fatty acids and the increased activity of regulatory immune cells, as well as adequate amounts of vitamin A. Furthermore, they showed that peanut tolerance (the opposite of a peanut allergy) could be induced by transplanting bacterial colonies from the high-fiber-fed mice into the zero-fiber-fed mice whose intestines had no bacteria of their own.

    In short, the results of these experiments suggest that healthy gut bacteria are crucial for preventing food allergies and that a high-fiber diet is essential for growing and maintaining healthy gut bacteria. One of the study’s co-authors, Laurence Macia, said of the findings, “My theory is that the beneficial bacteria that predominate under [the] consumption of fiber promote the development of regulatory T cells, which ensures the bacteria have a healthy, anti-inflammatory system to thrive in.” Although these intriguing results may not apply to humans, the researchers expressed cautious optimism that their findings will someday prove to be useful in developing allergy prevention and treatment strategies.

    Source: Cell Reports

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2019.