How physical exercise protects the brain from stress-induced depression.

badminton-player-isolated-on-white-background-100204162For years, exercise has been recognized as an effective way to prevent stress-induced depression, yet until now the mechanism had not been understood. It was initially believed that trained skeletal muscle produced a substance protective towards the brain. However, researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden shared their findings using mice models showing something different. Instead of generating a protective substance in the body, the exercised skeletal muscle produces an enzyme that helps to excrete damaging, stress-related substances from the blood. Depression remains to be a widely misunderstood disorder, but this research reinforces the importance of exercise in its treatment and could provide insight into novel therapies.  What other non-pharmacological interventions do you recommend to patients who experience stress-induced depression?

 

 

For additional information, please visit ScienceDaily.

 

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NIH and VA address pain and related conditions in U.S. military personnel, veterans, and their families: Research will focus on nondrug approaches.

medicine-100176550Chronic pain and associated conditions have increasingly become a problem in the United States, especially in those who are currently serving or have served military time for our country. Thirteen research projects, which are to be funded $21.7 million within the next five years by the U.S. Veteran’s Affairs, National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and National Institute on Drug Abuse, will investigate non-pharmacological treatments for these conditions. Due to the current increase in opiate prescribing and abuse, alternative options are to be further explored. The research will investigate skills which can better manage symptoms of their conditions and prevent their progression. This is expected to help more appropriately treat these patients while driving down healthcare costs and curbing the overuse or misuse of opiate medications.

What do you think about the current opiate prescribing practices in this patient population? How do you currently manage patients with pain and related conditions?

 

For additional information, please visit NIH.

 

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Soda Producers Set Goals on Cutting U.S. Beverage Calories

colaRecognizing that they are a part of the obesity problem in the United States, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola Co, and Dr.Pepper Snapple Group have come to an agreement with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to pledge to cut calories consumed by beverages by 20% by the year 2025. Their plan is to create smaller portion sizes, as well as promote water and non-calorie options more effectively. Due to a cap on sugary drink portions now in effect in New York, a soda ban in schools, and a possible tax on these soft drinks in San Francisco in the near future, this may be their attempt to stay appealing to customers. Since the peak of soda sales in 1998, the amount of calories consumed by Americans from sugary drinks has decreased by 23 percent due to an increased concern with our health. As the general population has become more conscious of disease states such as diabetes, they have started to opt for healthier options, including water and beverages that do not contain aspartame. Still, experts agree that more needs to be done in order to decrease obesity rates.

How do you feel about more aggressive government-instituted restrictions on these products?  How comfortable would you be with instituting potential penalties on these companies if they cannot fulfill their promise by 2025?

To read more, please visit WSJ.

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Low vitamin D ‘boosts dementia risk’

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A 6 year research lead by Dr. David Llewellyn and his team at the University of Exeter Medical School, concluded that low levels of vitamin D in older people are linked to the risk of developing dementia. Vitamin D can be found in foods, such as oily fish, supplements, or exposure to sunlight, however elderly people have less efficient skin and must be supplement in other ways. The team found that in 1,169 subjects with sufficient levels of vitamin D, there is a 1 in 10 chance of developing dementia. In 70 subjects with deficiency, there was a 1 in 5 risk of getting dementia. They cannot say that low vitamin D causes dementia but it is worthwhile to continue studying the connection. What are your thoughts on the association of dementia risk with low vitamin D?

 For additional information, please see BBC News.

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Complementary and Integrative Health Practices in the Real World

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The Director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Josephine Briggs, MD shares her thoughts on a recent publication in the journal Headache by Robert Cowan, MD. Both are trying to raise awareness of what patients visiting clinicians might be utilizing in terms of conventional and complementary approaches. There are more Evidence-Based resources available to conventional practitioners on CAM than ever before. What are your thoughts on Dr. Briggs commentary?

 

For additional information please see, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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Nutrition Basics Help Fight Child Obesity

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The Food and Drug Administration just released Nutrition Basics reminder to help parents look at nutrition facts labels (ingredients, percent daily value, nutrients, and serving size) before buying food for their children. The main goal of this program is to fight childhood obesity with better food choices. How often do you discuss food labeling with your patients?

For additional information, please see the FDA Consumer Update .

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Western moms lead the U.S. in breastfeeding, southeast lags

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Some states such as California, Oregon and Vermont have the highest rates of breastfeeding, but some southern states are still lagging behind. It is possible that the attitude toward breastfeeding and support is different based on the region of the country. Breastfeeding can help to fight against infections, diabetes, and leukemia in babies and is also be beneficial to mothers. How often do you educate pregnant patients and new mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding?

 

For additional information, please see the Washington Post.

 

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Fist bumps are determined to be a healthier alternative to handshakes

successful-businessmen-shaking-hands-100223938While hand shakes are the traditional professional greeting, a recent study published in the American Journal of Infection Control says that it is also a great way to transfer bacteria. The researchers dipped latex gloves in Escherichia Coli, and then either shook hands, gave high-fives, or fist bumped. According to the results, a fist bump transferred the least amount of bacteria between gloves, and the hand shake transferred the most. Firmer handshakes, longer fist bumps and high-fives were also determined to be better ways of transferring bacteria. This could mean a change in the way health care professionals greet each other, especially in hospitals where bacterial resistance has become a problem. What measures do you take to reduce bacteria transmission?

Find out more from The New York Times

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Probiotics might help lower blood pressure

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A new review published in the journal Hypertension evaluated results of multiple trials concluding that daily consumption of probiotics can reduced blood pressure levels by 2 to 3 mm Hg. Even though this is not a significant reduction, probiotics in general have multiple  benefits. What are your favorite sources of probiotics?

For additional information, please see Reuters Health.

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Natural hormone shows “promise” in IVF, say scientists

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A single injection of the natural hormone, kisspeptin might replace the need for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone in in-vitro fertilization. Ten of 53 women in a recent study gave birth, with 2 women giving birth to twins. The hCG triggers egg maturation but can overstimulate the ovaries, but kisspeptin is broken down more quickly resulting in less overstimulation. Five adverse effects reported were 2 ectopic pregnancy, 2 miscarriages, and 1 heterotopic pregnancy. How do you feel about the use of kisspeptin as an alternative to hCG therapy?

For additional information, please see Journal of Clinical Investigation.

 

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