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  • Oats Don’t Contain Gluten, So Why Are They Labeled Gluten Free?

    Wednesday, April 18, 2018
    Advice
    Oats Don’t Contain Gluten, So Why Are They Labeled Gluten Free?
    ×

    While the grocery store has become a friendlier place for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities, it’s also become more confusing. Products made with wheat and other grains containing gluten, such as farro, spelt, rye, and barley, are now available in gluten-free versions. But some products, like oats, which don’t naturally contain gluten, also sport gluten-free labels. To help clear up this grainy situation, the New York Times asked experts in celiac disease to explain the nuances of gluten-free labeling:

    • Gluten cross-contamination. Oats are particularly at risk for being cross-contaminated when they are manufactured or transported along with gluten-containing grains. Avoiding cross-contamination is important for people with celiac disease because eating even trace amounts of gluten could cause health issues.
    • Gluten-free regulations. All products regulated by the FDA, including those that don’t naturally contain gluten, may carry the gluten-free label, as long as the product’s gluten level is less than 20 parts per million. Since the label is voluntary, some gluten-free products may not be labeled as such.
    • Manufacturing gluten-free oats. To earn a gluten-free label, products like oats need to be grown, transported, and milled in gluten-free facilities. Alternatively, they can be sorted to remove any gluten-containing grains.

    It’s true that not all gluten-free products really need the label (gluten-free water, anyone?), but some product labeling is helpful for those wishing to avoid gluten. And while the US does not currently have a program that tests product’s gluten levels; experts say that, generally speaking, you can trust the labels.

    Source: New York Times

  • Should You Exercise When You’re Sick?

    Tuesday, April 17, 2018
    Advice
    Should You Exercise When You’re Sick?
    ×

    Exercising regularly could help you beat a cold faster if you get sick, according to previous research. But what if you’re already sick? Should you keep exercising? Some experts say the answer depends on your symptoms: when you have a mild cold, light exercise could be just fine; but if you’re really sick, you may be better off in bed. Here are two rules of thumb, published in the LA Times, to help you decide whether you should grab your gym shorts or your jammies:

    • Green light, go! Use the “above the neck” rule: if your symptoms are above your neck, like a sore throat or the sniffles, you should be fine engaging in light to moderate exercise. While the research isn’t clear on whether this exercise will help you feel better, if you go slow—making sure you can carry on a conversation during your workout—it shouldn’t make you feel worse.
    • Red light, rest! If you have the flu or symptoms below your neck, like chills, body aches, fever, or nausea, you need to take it easy. Exercise will strain your already stressed body, which could put you at risk for catching another illness. Rest up so you can get well to exercise another day.

    Source: LA Times

  • Can Seniors Boost Their Immune System with Zinc?

    Monday, April 16, 2018
    New Science
    Can Seniors Boost Their Immune System with Zinc?
    ×

    As we age, our immune systems tend to quiet down, leaving us more vulnerable to infections and other health problems. Luckily, a study found supplementing with zinc may elevate low serum zinc concentrations (a measure of zinc in the blood), and increase the number of important immune cells known as T cells, in seniors. Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the double-blind study included 31 seniors with low serum zinc concentrations (below 70 micrograms per deciliter) living in a nursing home. For three months, the seniors received either 30 mg of zinc per day or a placebo containing very small amount of zinc (5 mg per day). When researchers measured the participants' serum zinc concentrations and immune cell activity at the beginning and end of the study, here is what they found:

    • Average serum zinc rose 16% in participants taking the zinc supplement compared with those taking the placebo.
    • The number of T cells also rose significantly more in participants taking the zinc supplement.

    While these findings suggest zinc supplements could be beneficial for seniors with low serum zinc concentrations, larger, long-term studies will help us understand if zinc supplementation, with its apparent benefits for the immune system, actually helps reduce the risk of infection in seniors. It is known, however, that zinc is an essential mineral linked to normal immune function, healthy reproductive function, and growth and development in children. While this study focused on zinc supplements, you can also get zinc from foods such as oysters, eggs, black-eyed peas, pumpkin seeds, and tofu.

    Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

  • Is Your Body Getting the Complete Protein It Needs?

    Friday, April 13, 2018
    Advice
    Is Your Body Getting the Complete Protein It Needs?
    ×

    What makes a protein “complete?” It must contain an adequate amount of all the nine essential amino acids our bodies need from food to build and repair muscle. Most foods that meet this standard are animal foods (meats, eggs, dairy, and fish), although a few plant foods are complete protein sources, like quinoa and chia seeds. Since those on plant-based diets probably don’t want to eat quinoa and chia seeds for every meal, some have turned to planning meals with complementary protein sources: two or more foods that, together, contain the full set of essential amino acids. Those of us who aren’t so organized can rest assured that our bodies have complex mechanisms for keeping the right amounts of necessary amino acids available to our cells and tissues. This means the best way to ensure your body gets all the amino acids it needs is to eat a variety of protein-rich foods throughout the day, especially if your diet is strictly plant-based. If you’re at a loss for which foods to eat, check out these well-balanced snacks and mini-meals shared in TIME:

    • Prepared oats with shredded kale or zucchini, sliced fresh fruit, and nuts or seeds.
    • Cooked and chilled quinoa layered with hummus and eaten with raw vegetables.
    • Nut butter mixed with fruit and rolled oats or toasted quinoa, formed into balls and covered with chia seeds.
    • Garden salad topped with cooked and chilled black beans and wild rice.
    • Buckwheat soba noodles and veggies tossed with almond butter, ginger, garlic, and chili pepper.
    • Lentil or veggie soup garnished with chopped pecans or walnuts.
    • Fruit and veggie smoothies with chickpea flour and sprouted pumpkin seeds thrown in.
    • Oven-roasted veggies with tahini or pesto.

    Source: TIME

  • Connecting the Dots: Atopic Dermatitis and Vitamin D

    Friday, April 13, 2018
    New Science
    Connecting the Dots: Atopic Dermatitis and Vitamin D
    ×

    Dry, red, and itchy skin patches and rashes are typical symptoms of atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema. Research has suggested vitamin D plays a protective role, but, depending on your location, diet, and the season, your vitamin D levels may fluctuate and could influence the importance of vitamin D supplementation. To explore the possible relationship between vitamin D and atopic dermatitis, researchers conducted a review of the literature on this subject and reported that:

    • People living in higher latitudes, who produce less vitamin D due to lower sun exposure, have been found to have a higher risk of developing atopic dermatitis.
    • The majority of the evidence suggests insufficient or deficient vitamin D levels are a risk factor for atopic dermatitis in adults and children, and lower vitamin D levels have been correlated with more severe symptoms.
    • Clinical trials have shown vitamin D supplementation can improve the severity of symptoms in people with atopic dermatitis.
    • Treatment with vitamin D has led to improvements in certain markers of inflammation in the blood and skin of people with atopic dermatitis.

    These snapshots from the research are encouraging; however, it’s important to note that, while the vast majority of the evidence is consistent, there have been a few conflicting findings: at least one study found no connection between vitamin D levels and atopic dermatitis, and another found vitamin D intake during infancy increased atopic dermatitis risk. So, although it may be too soon to say for sure whether vitamin D can benefit those with atopic dermatitis, we can say with certainty that vitamin D is important for overall health and is especially important for bone health. If atopic dermatitis is getting the best of you, speak with your healthcare practitioner to see if adding a vitamin D supplement to your health regimen is a good idea.

    Sourc: Skin Pharmacology and Physiology

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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.