Turmeric as well as one of its main ingredients, curcumin, are well-known for their anti-inflammatory activity. A new study from the journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluates curcumin’s ability to reduce inflammation in people with metabolic syndrome. In this randomized controlled clinical trial 117 participants, who had already been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, were split in half to either receive one gram of curcumin or placebo for 8 weeks. The researchers measured levels of three inflammation blood markers at the beginning and end of the study. They found the participants who took curcumin had improved blood levels of all three inflammatory biomarkers as well as reduced fasting blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c, a measure of long term blood sugar levels. “The findings of our studies, along with clinical findings reported by other groups, indicate the usefulness of daily use of curcumin supplement for the prevention and treatment of several diseases,” the study’s senior author states. Curcumin has strong antioxidant and antiinflammaotry properties which give the compound its therapeutic effects. The authors advise that even at high doses curcumin is a very safe natural supplement, but should be avoided in pregnant and lactating women. How do you incorporate curcumin and turmeric into your diet?
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There seems to be some good news coming from the recent Arctic blast of cold air. Brown fat cells (the “good” fat cells) are activated every time the body feels the icy cold wind. Full of mitochondria, brown fat cells are responsible for protecting vital organs. During the winter, that calls for burning extra glucose the body stores as white fat (the “bad” fat) cells for heat. Researchers found that men who slept in 66 degree temperatures for a month saw an increase of brown fat cells by 30-40%. On the other hand, brown fat cell levels fell below baseline when they slept in rooms where the temperature was above 80 degrees. This led to the question of whether stimulating these fat cells would help in obesity and type 2 diabetes. A study led by Dr. Hei Sook Sul of the University of California, Berkeley, showed that when mice were fed high fat diet, those who were exposed to transcription factor Zfp516 (the protein critical to brown fat cell formation) gained 30% less weight than those mice who were not exposed. While the exact time one has to be outside is unknown, Sul recommends giving it a try at a safe exposure. How do you feel about recommending colder sleeping environment? What other recommendations would you be comfortable to provide based on the results of this research?
For additional information please visit the Washington Post.
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A new study has revealed that eating eggs does not have bad effects on cholesterol level in people with type 2 diabetes. In contrast, egg-rich diet has more benefits than harm. The study, conducted in Australia and presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes 2014 Meeting, has found that eating 2 eggs per day for 6 days per week for 3 months did not show a significant change in the cholesterol level comparing to eating less than 2 eggs a week for the same period. On the other hand, the high-egg group showed a trend toward HDL improvement. Moreover, egg-rich diet was reported to be more enjoyable and hunger-fulfilling. What are your favorite egg recipes?
For additional information, please visit WebMD.
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Gestational diabetes, a common pregnancy complication, has been found to be possibly related to eating fried foods on a regular basis. The research published in the journal Diabetologia discovered 13% increase in gestational diabetes among pregnant women who eat fried foods one to three times per week comparing to ones who eat once a week. The percentage escalates to 31% and more than 50% for those who eat four to six times and seven or more times per week, respectively. However, the cause-effect relationship has not been yet established in this study, and more evidence is needed. How do you typically counsel your pregnant patients about healthy nutrition? What are some of the recommendations that you make?
For more information, please visit WebMD.
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Recognizing 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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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 .
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.
Several research studies have come to the same conclusion that sitting for long hours may lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular events, worsening mental health and risk of being disabled even with a consistent exercise regimen. Furthermore, results of a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, reported study participants who sat for more than 11 hours daily were at highest risk of mortality during the 12- year follow up. Sitting can lead to an increase in appetite and reduced muscle movement; thus the article suggests to break up sitting time about every half hour at work or home. How much time do you spend sitting daily? What are some methods you would recommend to your patients on how to reduce sitting time?
The article can be found at WebMD
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Laziness 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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The 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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