Monthly Archives: February, 2014

Girls’ growing brains ‘more resilient’, study suggests

dream designsAutism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is seen more in boys than girls. Research from the American Journal of Human Genetics suggests more severe DNA errors must occur in girls to cause neurodevelopmental conditions. Girls with ASD had a greater number of harmful genetic mutations compared to males, but females tolerated a higher threshold of bad mutations before developing ASD. Although more research is needed to support these findings, current data suggests resilience in brain development is higher in females. A likely explanation for this may be the fact that since females have two X chromosomes rather than one in males, the other X chromosome may compensate for damage in the other. What are your thoughts about this research?  What typical recommendations do you provide to patients with ASD/ADHD?

For additional information, please see BBC News Health.

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Food Serving Sizes Getting a Reality Check

rakratchada torsapThe Nutrition Food Label is undergoing an update in the near future. The aim of the new Nutrition Food Label is to bring serving sizes and calories closer to what people are actually eating today. The current 1993 Nutrition Facts Label was based on food consumption in the 1970s and 80s. The proposed label would prominently display, in bold and larger font size, the number of calories and servings per container. The new label would also change “Amount Per Serving” to “Amount Per (Serving Size) and require listing of added sugars. Ice cream and soft drinks are two food products that will undergo change from the new Nutrition Food Label proposals. What are your opinions regarding the proposed Nutrition Food Label updates? What strategies can you suggest for your patients in order to help them understand the right serving size to consume based on current nutrition labels?

For additional information, please see FDA.

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Mediterranean Diet May Reduce Diabetes Risk in Older People

Serge Bertasius PhotographyThe Mediterranean Diet has shown to be beneficial in reducing the incidence of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in elderly patients. The PREDIMED (Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea) cardiovascular prevention trial was a multicenter trial in Spain involving 3,451 participants, aged 55-80 years old, who were randomized into three groups: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts, or a control diet low in fats. The participants were asked not to increase their physical activity and were also given food advice from dieticians on which foods to eat. Median 4.1 years follow-up showed people eating a Mediterranean diet supplemented with EVOO had a relative reduction of 40% in diabetes risk compared with the control group, while people eating a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts had a relative reduction of 18%. How often do you discuss Mediterranean diet with your patients? What other chronic conditions benefit from the Mediterranean diet based on the recent research?

For additional information, please see JAMA.

Image Courtesy of [Serge Bertasius Photography]/


There is Not Enough Evidence in Using Vitamins and Supplements to Prevent Heart Disease and Cancer

spoon-with-colorful-vitamin-medicine-pills-10036718The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has published its recommendations in the latest issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (draft released in November of 2013.) The recommendations suggests that there is not enough evidence to show if there is benefit or harm in taking multivitamins to prevent heart disease and cancer, aside from two exceptions. They recommend against the use of vitamin E and beta-carotene in preventing heart disease and cancer. People who are at a high risk of lung cancer, such as smokers, had a higher chance of developing lung cancer when using beta-carotene. The task force focused only on heart disease and cancer and there are no recommendations on taking vitamins and supplements for overall health and wellness or for filling nutrition gaps.

What do you usually take and recommend vitamins and supplements for? What are your thoughts on these recommendations?How would this change the way you take or recommend vitamins?

For additional information please visit  WebMD

Image Courtesy of [ Kittikun Atsawintarangkul]/

CDC: 1 dead, 7 others sickened by listeria traced to cheese

zole4The CDC reported a listeria outbreak via infected ‘Hispanic-style’ cheese in at least eight people (5 adults and 3 babies) of Hispanic descent living in Maryland and California. Health inspectors traced the source back to Roos Foods as the manufacturer, a company based in Kenton, Delaware.  Listeria spreads through the consumption of unpasteurized milk and cheeses, soft cheeses, ready-to-eat meats and smoked seafoods, and authorities warn not to purchase products under brand names of Santa Rosa de Lima, Amigo, Mexicana, Suyapa, La Chapina and La Purisima Crema Nica. What advice do you provide to your patients on how to protect themselves from food poisoning?

For additional information, please see CNN Health.

Image courtesy of [zole4]/

American Meat Plants Said to Face Shortages of Inspectors

ID-100232301The Department Agriculture is suffering from a shortage of inspectors which could increase the possibility that contaminated products could reach consumers. A week ago a recall was made for beef processed at the Rancho Feeding Corporation in Petaluma, California after it was distributed to about 1,000 retailers. Stan Painter, president of the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals and a meat inspector said that the recall may be due to the lack of inspectors available to properly examine the meat. Due to the shortage, the department of Agriculture has started a new program that allows poultry plant employees to inspect their own processing line and Agriculture inspector does the final check on meat before it is shipped. How often do you recommend to your patients to consider switching to local and/or organic meat, poultry and dairy?

For additional information please see New York Times.

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US food industry wages bitter fight over sweeteners


A fight wages on between US sugar and corn companies where tens of millions of dollars have been spent to influence public opinion and capture market share. The Corn Refiners Association, the producers of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), has campaigned to change HFCS name to “corn sugar” claiming HFCS as a natural product that is equivalent to sugar. The FDA denied the change in name from HFCS to ‘corn sugar’ since dextrose-a solid, dried, crystallized pure glucose product has already coined the term ‘corn sugar’, while HFCS is an aqueous mixture of glucose and fructose. Also ‘corn sugar’ has been used for individuals who have an intolerance to fructose therefore the name change from HCFS to ‘corn sugar’ would put individuals at risk for health concerns. The Sugar Association urges food industries to replace HFCS with sucrose due to adverse effects like diabetes, elevated triglycerides and obesity stemming from the introduction of HFCS to the market in the 1970s. What are your thoughts about possible false and misleading campaigns used by the food industry to capture market share? What recommendations do you have for your patients in terms of sweeteners?

For additional information please see BMJ.

Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles]/

Training Videos Seem to Boost Brain Activity

ID-100237232Watching training videos have shown a 11 fold increase in improvement in motor activity by boosting brain structure and increasing the size of brain portions related to motor control and visual processing. A study of 36 healthy adults underwent 10 training sessions over two weeks where half watched training videos before performing simple motor tasks while the other half watched videos of landscapes. The training group showed an increase in cognitive function as well as better motor control and visual processing. Evidence suggests watching these videos can benefit rehabilitating stoke patients and patients with multiple sclerosis. What are your thoughts about this therapeutic intervention helping with motor deficit? What other recommendations to improve brain activity do you provide to your patients?

For additional information please see WedMD Health.

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Plain cigarette packs spur quit-line calls: study

ID-10015306In October 2012 a new legislation was implemented in Australia requiring packaging of every cigarette brand to be changed to plain olive with a large quit-smoking helpline number prominently displayed. The study, conducted by Jane Young at the Sydney School of Public Health, compared call volume to helpline before and after enforced packaging change and showed a 78% increase in calls from 363 to 651 calls a week. The standardized packaging decreases the visual appeal while displaying the warning. How do you feel about other countries following Australia’s example by passing a similar legislation?  What possible obstacles do you foresee?

For additional information please see Reuters.

Image Courtesy of [Salvatore Vuono]/

Cycling is Far More Likely to Increase Your Life Expectancy

bicycle-in-the-park-100148071The researchers from the Medical Research Council, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University College London looked at the cycle for hire scheme for a course of one year and found that the benefits from physical activity outweighed the negative impact of injuries and air pollutions in people age 45-59.Men benefited the most in terms of reduction of heart disease, while women had most benefit in terms of reduction in depression. Would you consider switching to bicycling as your main means of transportation if the system was available in your area? Would you cycle more as an exercise?

For additional information, please see BBC News Health.

Image courtesy of [feelart]/