Author Archive: patriciajang

Keep low-calorie foods close to choose them more often

zirconicussoLaziness can be a factor for bad food choices.  By putting healthy foods closer to you within reach, laziness can be used as an advantage for healthier eating. Privitera, a psychology researcher at Saint Bonaventure University, conducted a study with 56 men and women with an average age of 19 years old and in good health (20 healthy weight, 21 overweight, 15 obese). Participants were seated at a kitchen table with a bowl of apple slices and a bowl of popcorn, one within arms’ reach and the other twice as far away. The control group sat where the apples and popcorn were placed at the same distance away. Those who sat closer to the apples ate about 1.5 ounces of apple slices, those who sat closer to the popcorn ate 0.2 ounces of apple, and the control group ate 1 ounce of apple. People tend to grab what is most convenient even though it may not be a healthy option. Setting up a food environment with healthy food choices, such as fresh fruits on the counter in close reach, can reduce the amount of unhealthy foods we eat. What foods do you recommend your patients as a healthy snack?

For additional information, please see Reuters.

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Protein May Hold the Key to Who Gets Alzheimer’s

dream designsCognitive decline and memory problems of Alzheimer’s disease may be related to a failure in the brain’s stress response system. The protein (REST) is found in the brains of developing fetuses and regulates by switching off genes to keep fetal neurons in an immature state until enough development is needed for proper brain function. REST is the most active gene regulator in elderly brains and appears to protect neurons in healthy older people from age-related stresses. People with Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive impairment, and other types of dementia have a depletion of REST in the key brain regions associated with memory. Dr. Yankner, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and lead author, and his team discovered REST switches off genes that promote cell death, protects neurons from normal aging, inflammation and oxidative stress. The researchers analyzed the brains of young adults ages 20 to 35 and found they contained little REST, while healthy adults between ages 73 to 106 had plenty. Possible development of new drugs for dementia may be seen in the future once more research and findings are established for REST protein. What are your thoughts about this research?

For additional information, please see The New York Times.

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Probiotic Eases Ills in Children

arztsamuiTaking daily doses of probiotics can help reduce episodes of diarrhea and respiratory tract infections in children at day care centers. This randomized, double-blinded trial published in Pediatrics evaluated 336 healthy children, aged 6 months to 3 years old, whom half received Lactobacillus reuteri (probiotic) and half received an identical placebo. During the 3 month study, there were 69 cases of diarrhea in the placebo group versus 42 cases in the supplement group. The placebo group also had 204 cases of respiratory tract infections with subjects spending an average of 4.1 days on antibiotics, while the L. reuteri group had 93 cases of respiratory tract infections and subjects spent an average of 2.7 days on antibiotics. Follow-up continued for 3 months after the trial without any supplements of probiotics. There seems to be a beneficial effect for children taking daily doses of L. reuteri to have a significant reduction in episodes of diarrhea as well as respiratory tract infections. What are your thoughts on giving infants and children probiotics to prevent possible illnesses?

For additional information, please see The New York Times.

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States Urge Retail Giants With Pharmacies to Stop Selling Tobacco Products

Grant CochraneLetters were sent from more than twenty attorneys general representing 28 states and territories to five of the country’s largest retailers: Rite Aid, Walgreens, Kroger, Safeway, and Walmart, encouraging retailers to discontinue selling tobacco products in stores that contain pharmacies. The leaders of the group of attorneys general, Eric T. Schneiderman and Mike DeWine, are urging the other retailers to follow the example CVS Caremark set forth in February to stop selling tobacco products. Drugstores and pharmacies are marketing themselves as a place for providing community health care and services, by selling tobacco products retailers are contradicting their own message. What are your thoughts about retailers discontinuing the sale of tobacco products to promote better health?

For additional information, please see The New York Times.

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Seven tips for a stress-free vacation – Have a great Spring Break!

winnondVacation may become another source of stress for some people. Here are seven tips to keep in mind if you are traveling or vacationing for spring break.

1. Plan ahead. Plan excursions, travel and accommodations ahead of time.

2. Craft a budget. Figure out how much you want to spend prior to leaving therefore you can enjoy the vacation and not think about budget.

3. Choose your companions wisely. Vacation with family and close friends to minimize frustration.

4. Allow time to unwind. Be able to incorporate room for some down time between activities.

5. Try new things. Experiment with something new mentally and physically, like taking a walk down the beach.

6. Remember to refuel and stay hydrated.

7. Take a deep breath. Unexpected delays or miscommunication may arise, instead of feeling miserable, relax and enjoy your time away.

What strategies do you typically recommend your patients to unwind stress-free?

For additional information, please see Fox News.

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Cardiac Screening before Participation in Sports — Polling Results

cooldesignThere has been debate whether high school students participating in organized sports should be screened for cardiac conditions before they participate in sports. Those who favor screening advocate use of an electrocardiography (ECG) while others recommend only a thorough history and physical examination. The Clinical Decisions series presented a case of whether to initiate screening in high school athletes and a panel of physician experts presented their views. Readers were allowed to join the debate by voting and posting comments on NEJM.org. The case was also presented by the same four physicians at the American Heart Association (AHA) in November 2013. Online polls received 1,266 votes from 86 countries. 18% opposed cardiac screening, 24% favored screening with history and physical examination only and 58% favored screening with ECG, history and physical examination. U.S. voters preferred screening with only a history and physical exam. Many of the comments pointed to the lack of evidence that screening prevents death, the unfavorable cost-benefit of screening, who would be paid to read and interpret millions of ECGs, as well as what recommendations should be given to children with abnormal ECG readings. Europe is recommending ECG screening for all young athletes while currently the AHA and American Academy of Family Physicians recommend screening with only a history and physical examination. What are your thoughts regarding whether screening for cardiac conditions should be expanded to include ECG along with a history and physical examination?

For additional information, please see NEJM.

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Angry people ‘risking heart attacks’

imagerymajesticPeople with hot tempers may be at an increased risk for having a heart attack or stroke. Within the two hour period following an angry outburst, the risk of a heart attack is increased by five-fold while the risk of a stroke is increased by three-fold. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health calculated that five angry episodes a day would result in 158 heart attacks per 10,000 people with a low cardiovascular risk per year, and increase to 657 heart attacks per 10,000 people with a high cardiovascular risk per year. Even though having an acute cardiovascular event is relatively low with a single angry outburst, temper-prone individuals will be at a higher risk. What are some possible suggestions for your patients to help them cope with stress and anger? What dietary recommendations can be beneficial for your patients dealing with stress?

For additional information, please see BBC News Health.

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Infant Sleep Machines at Maximum Volume Reported as Hearing Risk

tungphotoInfant sleep machines that produce white noise to drown out disturbances to a baby’s sleep can be damaging to their hearing if set at maximum volume. Researchers at the University of Toronto evaluated 14 brands of sleep machines at maximum volume and found that when placed 30 centimeters from an infant, 3 brands exceeded 85 decibels, the safety limit for adults on an eight-hour work shift determined by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. A newborn’s brain is learning to distinguish pitches and sounds while during sleep, therefore, if the newborn is accustomed to white noise, they may not be as responsive to soft speech and other noises. Dr. Blake Papsin, the author and the chief otolaryngologist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, suggests putting the sleep machine farther away, using it at a lower volume, and for a shorter duration of time will deliver less sound pressure to the baby and reduce the risk for hearing impairment. What recommendations do you offer your patients to help their babies sleep well?

For additional information, please see New York Times.

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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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