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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A recently concluded study published in the British Journal of Medicine compiled and evaluated 343 peer-reviewed studies that focus on the nutrient differences between organic and non-organic foods. The evaluation concluded that the organic food had a higher concentration of antioxidants, and lower levels of cadmium and pesticide residues. Antioxidants are known to play a part in reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, and cadmium, in high levels, is a potential neurotoxin. What this translates to for consumers is a possible protective health benefit. How familiar are your patients with Environmental Working Group Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen? How often do you discuss organic vs non-organic foods with them?
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In a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that participants who consumed more added sugar in their diet were more likely to die of heart disease. Of the 31,000 U.S. adults surveyed between 1988 and 2010, an average of 15 to 17 percent of their daily calorie intake was from added sugars. This is greater than the recommended amount set by the American Heart Association of 100 calories of added sugars per day for women and 150 calories for men and the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 10 percent as the limit. The results showed that participants who consumed between 10 and 25 percent were at a 30 percent increase for cardiovascular disease death and those who consumed 25 percent or more were twice as likely. What tips do you have for patients to minimize added sugar intake?
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In an analysis of the trial recently published in Lancet, more than 9300 patients with impaired glucose tolerance and cardiovascular disease or risk factors from 40 countries were given a pedometer and followed for the next 6 years. The ambulatory activity or walking was inversely associated with risk of cardiovascular events. What types of pedometers or similar devices have you tried yourself or recommended to your patients to encourage a more active lifestyle?
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A study published online today in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at the lifespan of many nut-eaters. By observing around 120,000 men and women who regularly consumed nuts over 30 years, they hoped to evaluate the effect of nut consumption in relation to mortality. It was seen that eating nuts was associated with lower levels of cholesterol, insulin resistance, inflammation, hypertension and even colon cancer. The results also showed lowered death rates from heart disease and cancer. The study did not look at how nuts were prepared (salted, roasted, raw) before consumption but it would be wiser to chose options lower in sugar and salt. What are your thoughts on these new findings? Do you believe this research strengthens your current recommendations of switching from a bag of chips to a handful of nuts?
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A panel of experts who assess current scientific evidence for preventative medications focused on vitamins and other dietary supplements in their recent review. According to the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF), there is unclear evidence when taking nutrients (as vitamins or supplements) to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and/or cancer. The report also advises against taking beta-carotene and vitamin E for the prevention of these two conditions due to lack of evidence. Instead, the panel suggests that a well-balanced diet would be more beneficial for the body, helping it to absorb nutrients in their most natural form. What are your thoughts on these recent recommendations? How do you counsel your patients to achieve this well-balanced diet? For more information, click here
According to a study published in British Journal of Sports Medicine, older adults can cut their risk of heart attack and stroke and reduce their risk of death by as much as 30% by being generally active. Researchers followed 4,232 Swedish adults aged 60+ for 12 years and evaluated lifestyle parameters including range of daily life activities such as gardening, home improvement, car maintenance, and blackberry picking. The study discovered that individuals who were more active on a daily basis had a much lower cardiovascular risk profile than individuals who were generally sedentary, irrespective of how much formal exercise they took. Authors suggested that these findings are important for older adults because it is difficult to achieve recommended exercise intensity level this population.
What are some other physical activities you recommend for older adults? How else can we promote and encourage active lifestyle to reduce risk of heart disease?
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Recent study published in British Journal of Sports Medicine found that long hours of TV watching and sedentary life style in general can damage your arteries. The study included adults in their 30’s who filled out questionnaires regarding their TV watching and exercise habits. The results showed that participants who watched longer hours of TV had stiffer arteries a few years later. The changes can increase the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, exercise did not reverse the effects from a sedentary life style. The research recommends no more than 2 hours of sitting in front of the TV or laptop. What activities can you incorporate while watching TV? Have you evaluated if your lifestyle is sedentary?
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In a recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), researchers found that people exposed to loud aircraft noise were at an increased risk of experiencing fatal cardiovascular events. The residents who lived closer Heathrow Airport (London) where the aircraft noise was the loudest had higher rates of hospital admissions and/or death from cardiovascular events. Dr. Anna Hansell, one of the researchers, suggests that it may be the startling aspect of the noise that may be negatively affecting health by raising blood pressures and disturbing sleep. The authors reminded readers that the aircraft noise is definitely not a top offender for cardiovascular events compared with smoking, diet, and low exercise activity. How often do you discuss disease risk factors related to the living environment with your patients? How can we minimize these disturbances?
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We’ve all been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and a recent study published in the journal Circulation re-affirms this saying. This prospective cohort study enrolled 26,902 American men without heart disease or cancer from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and eating habits were assessed using a questionnaire every 4 years. During 16 years of follow-up, 1,527 men developed heart disease and men who did not eat breakfast had a 27% increased risk of heart disease. It is important to note that many other confounders can increase risk of heart disease and further research is needed to confirm the findings of this study. How often do you skip breakfast? Will the results of this study change your eating habits?
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