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Common Questions

Health News

  • Milk–Mucus Connection May Be a Myth

    Friday, October 19, 2018
    New Science
    Milk–Mucus Connection May Be a Myth

    It’s time to wipe away the long-held belief that milk increases mucus production: the New York Times reported that researchers haven’t found strong ties between milk and a runny nose. For example, in a ten-day study, researchers infected 60 volunteers with the common cold who then drank zero to eleven glasses of milk daily. It turned out that there were no significant differences in measurements of cold symptoms, including cough, congestion, or nasal secretions, between milk-drinkers and non-milk drinkers.

    So, is dairy worthy of its reputation? According to at least one study, it might not be the only beverage that triggers the sensation of increased mucus. The randomized study assigned 169 participants to drink either a chocolate-mint flavored cow’s milk or a similarly flavored soy milk. Participants couldn’t distinguish between the drinks, and said both milks made their saliva thicker and increased the coating on their tongue and in their mouth and throat. The researchers concluded that the sensation was not specific to cow’s milk.

    While milk may not be to blame for overabundant mucus production, that doesn’t mean you have to start chugging it when you have a cold. If eliminating cow’s milk (or soy milk, for that matter) helps you feel better, don’t drink it, says Dr. Sonali Bose, assistant professor at Icahn School of Medicine. Just be aware that eliminating certain foods from your diet may cause nutritional gaps. Milk, for example, is a good source of protein and calcium, so if you want to cut it out of your diet, make sure you replace it with other protein- and calcium-rich foods.

    Source: New York Times

  • Vitamin D May Help Children with Winter-Related Skin Disease

    Wednesday, October 17, 2018
    New Science
    Vitamin D May Help Children with Winter-Related Skin Disease

    A study found that vitamin D supplementation helped alleviate winter-related atopic dermatitis (AD) in children. AD is an inflammatory skin disorder characterized by dry, scaly, and itchy skin. Published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the study divided 104 children with winter-related AD into two groups: one group supplemented with 1,000 IU of oral vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) daily for 4 weeks, while the other received a placebo. Here’s what the researchers discovered:

    • Compared with the placebo group, children taking vitamin D had clinically and statistically significant improvements on the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI), an index used to measure AD symptoms.
    • Parental assessments of AD symptoms in the children receiving vitamin D also improved.
    • There were no adverse side effects associated with the vitamin D supplementation.

    The study did have a few limitations; researchers were unable to measure the children’s starting levels of vitamin D, and only six children had severe AD. Nevertheless, the findings are consistent with another small randomized, controlled trial investigating vitamin D and winter-related AD in children, as well as with the known skin-protective functions of vitamin D.

    Source: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

  • Large Trial Shows Probiotics May Help Prevent Colds

    Friday, October 12, 2018
    New Science
    Large Trial Shows Probiotics May Help Prevent Colds

    A large, placebo-controlled trial found that Bifidobacterium bifidum, a type of probiotic bacteria, helped reduce the incidence of colds or the flu in college students. Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, the study involved 581 students. Each received a placebo, or a probiotic supplement containing one of three probiotic strains (Lactobacillus helveticus, Bifidobacterium longum ssp. infantis, or Bifidobacterium bifidum), daily for six weeks. The experiment took place during fall semester finals, a time when students are particularly stressed and researchers could expect that some of them would contract a cold or the flu. Here’s what the researchers discovered:

    • The percentage of students reporting a day or more of cold or flu symptoms was significantly lower in the Bifidobacterium bifidum group than in the placebo group. The other two probiotic strains did not lower the incidence of colds or the flu compared to the placebo.
    • However, after adjusting for stress levels and hours of sleep, the proportion of students reporting a cold or the flu on any given day was lower in both the Bifidobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium longum ssp. infantis groups at weeks two and three compared to the placebo.

    This research adds to the growing body of evidence showing that probiotics may help prevent or reduce the duration of some infections.

    Source: British Journal of Nutrition

  • Milk, But Not Yogurt or Cheese, Linked to Higher Mortality and Fracture Risk

    Wednesday, October 10, 2018
    New Science
    Milk, But Not Yogurt or Cheese, Linked to Higher Mortality and Fracture Risk

    A study casts doubt on the idea that drinking milk is good for bones and health, finding that high milk consumption is associated with greater mortality and fracture risk and increased inflammation. Published in the BMJ, the study tracked milk intake in 61,433 women (aged 39-74 initially) for about 22 years and 45,339 men (aged 45-79 initially) for about 13 years. Adjustments were made in the final analysis for several variables, including age, smoking status, and physical activity, among other things. Here’s what the researchers found:

    • Women who drank three or more cups of milk per day had almost twice the risk of dying compared with women who drank one cup or less per day.
    • Women who drank three or more cups of milk per day increased their risk of fractures, with a noticeable increased risk for hip fractures.
    • Men who drank three or more cups of milk per day had a slightly higher risk of dying compared with men who drank a cup or less per day, and no increased risk of fracture.
    • Milk consumption was also associated with higher levels of oxidative stress and inflammation markers in a smaller group of study participants.
    • Fermented dairy products, however, such as yogurt and cheese, did not raise mortality or fracture risk; in fact, they were associated with a lower risk of fracture and mortality in women.

    Researchers suggest that one explanation for the findings is that milk, but not fermented dairy, is a significant source of D-galactose; in animal studies D-galactose has been shown to lead to inflammation and oxidative stress in even small amounts. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the science is somewhat conflicting—other studies have not found an association between milk intake and increased risk of death and fracture.

    Source: Medscape

  • Study Questions Benefits of Low-Glycemic Foods

    Friday, October 05, 2018
    New Science
    Study Questions Benefits of Low-Glycemic Foods

    A study found that eating low-glycemic foods did not result in substantial health benefits for people without diabetes who already had a healthy diet. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study investigated the effects of following four different diets, for five weeks each, on risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The study enrolled 163 overweight and obese individuals with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension. Each diet was designed to be healthy—with plenty of vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish, beans, and grains. The diets differed in the amount of carbohydrates they contained and the glycemic index of those carbs; the glycemic index measures how quickly a particular food causes a rise in blood sugar. High-glycemic foods (like white bread) cause a sharper blood sugar spike than low-glycemic foods (like whole grains). The researchers were primarily interested in comparing the effects of switching between low-glycemic and high-glycemic foods when the amount of carbs stayed roughly the same. Here’s what they discovered:

    • With a diet high in carbs, switching to low-glycemic foods did not benefit HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, or blood pressure. In fact, the low-glycemic, high-carbohydrate diet increased LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and decreased insulin sensitivity.
    • With a diet low in carbs, switching to low-glycemic foods also did not benefit HDL cholesterol, blood pressure, or insulin sensitivity. It did result in a small decrease in triglyceride levels.
    • However, switching to a diet that was lower in carbohydrates, irrespective of the glycemic index of those carbs, substantially lowered triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels, and slightly lowered diastolic blood pressure.

    While the study suggests that reducing overall carbohydrate intake may be more important than eating low-glycemic foods, the findings are limited to people without diabetes. However, there is evidence that suggests eating low-glycemic foods does help with blood sugar control in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, it's possible that eating low-glycemic foods is a healthy choice for everyone, but that the results would only show up over a period of time longer than five weeks.

    Source: Journal of the American Medical Association

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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 2018.