Sep
01
2005

Dark Chocolate For Lower Blood Pressure

Chocolate, as long as it is consumed in moderation, can be good for you. The beneficial ingredients are the bioflavonoids, the same substances that are also found in fruit and vegetables.
Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, at Tufts University in Boston reported about a study, where 20 adults with hypertension (high blood pressure) were asked to eat white chocolate or dark chocolate for 15 days. Blood pressure was reduced by an average of 12/9 mmHg with the dark chocolate. White chocolate had no effect, as blood pressures stayed the same. Dark chocolate also caused a dip in the LDL cholesterol and lowered insulin resistance.
The reason for the benefits lies in the bioflavonoids content: dark chocolate is rich in bioflavonoids, whereas milk chocolate contains little, and white chocolate the least of the three.
For all chocoholics this is not a ticket for a box of Belgian dark chocolates or an assortment of candy bars in one sitting.

Dark Chocolate For Lower Blood Pressure

Dark Chocolate For Lower Blood Pressure

Moderation is still the key, and you may consider consuming cocoa, perhaps as a Mexican chocolate drink without the fat and without the sugar.

References: The Medical Post, August 9, 2005, page 19

Last edited December 7, 2012

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Aug
01
2005

Tight Blood Sugar Control In Diabetics Cuts Heart Disease

Successful treatment of type 1 diabetes in the past usually meant compliance in taking insulin shots and paying attention to a diabetic diet. Since the arrival of specific lab tests like the HbA1c levels, patient education has become more sophisticated: it is not enough to just be on shots, eat sensibly and otherwise hope for the best. As a result, it is a must for patients to monitor their glucose levels closely.
Research that was presented at the American Diabetes Association during the 65th annual scientific session spelled out the benefits very clearly: strict control of glucose levels helps patients with type 1 diabetes to decrease the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease by 57%!

It has been known that tight glucose control helped to reduce diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease) and diabetic retinopathy (eye disease) in diabetics, but this is the first time that controlling glucose levels has been associated with cardiovascular disease, reports the main investigator, Dr.David Nathan from, director of the diabetes center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He also reported that every 1% reduction in HbA1c (glycosated hemoglobin) correlated with a 20% reduction in cardiovascular risk for the diabetes type 1 patient.

These findings are significant, as the risk reduction is larger than seen in any other trials, like administering medication (statins) or placing stents.

Tight Blood Sugar Control In Diabetics Cuts Heart Disease

Tight Blood Sugar Control In Diabetics Cuts Heart Disease

A similar risk reduction may also occur in patients with type 2 diabetes, but at this point no specific research on this group is available. In the meantime it is of great importance to any patient with type 1 diabetes.

More information about:

1. Diabetes treatment: http://nethealthbook.com/hormones/diabetes/type-2-diabetes/treatment-type-2-diabetes/

2. Heart attacks: http://nethealthbook.com/cardiovascular-disease/heart-disease/heart-attack-myocardial-infarction-or-mi/

Reference: The Medical Post, July 5,2005,page1, 58.

Last edited October 29, 2014

Jul
01
2005

Tooth Implants For Better Health

Missing teeth are often just ignored -why bother? There are still all the others around to assume the necessary functions! The truth is different: missing teeth can affect us in the way we eat, speak, rest, and appear. They can influence our behavior and overall functioning. A missing tooth can also compromise the dental health of its neighbor.
In the past the only options for missing teeth was either dental bridges or dentures. Bridges and dentures still have their place now, but the benefits for dental implants are significant.
-They help to preserve remaining natural bone structure.
-They reduce the need to cut out adjacent teeth for a bridge.
-They eliminate the need for removable partials or dentures and the sores that may go along with them.
-The roof of the mouth does not need to be covered by removable partials or complete dentures.
-They look, feel and work just like natural teeth.
-They support face shape, smile and provide confidence when eating and speaking.
-A few exceptions apply: people who smoke and people who have diabetes, particularly when uncontrolled and severe, have much less success with implants, as healing is impaired. However, you may consider quitting smoking and diabetes may be able to be controlled better with the help of a specialist. Other patients who have pacemakers, artificial heart valve replacements or other implanted devices may have to stay away from implants and they may have to stick to more conventional methods such as bridges and dentures.
The dentist will do a thorough examination to decide, whether you are a candidate for dental implants. Each tooth will be examined and a medical and dental history will be taken. Special x-rays (panoramic and tomograms) are needed to determine whether there is enough bone available. This helps to decide whether the implants can be placed directly, or whether grafting more bone will be necessary. This step is very important. It also helps the dentist to identify important structures, like nerves, sinuses and adjacent tooth roots. You will discuss all the treatment options with your dentist, which also helps to clarify expectations about the final results. This comprehensive treatment plan can be compared to building the foundation of a house. The foundation has to be solid, so the final structure holds up. A properly done dental implant should be a one-time job.

Tooth Implants For Better Health

Tooth Implants For Better Health

The procedure itself is done in the dental office or in a surgical suite under a local anesthetic, and over-the-counter pain medication may be needed after the surgery. The time it takes to heal can be variable. It may take up to six months, but it is important that healthy bone develop around your implant, which is the strong bond that is needed to hold the implant in place. Once the healing is complete, your dentist takes a final impression, which is needed by the dental laboratory to create the permanent teeth.
Once the permanent teeth are placed you will receive care and a dental hygienist will instruct you in dental hygiene. Special plastic cleaning instruments are used to avoid scratching the titanium surface of the implant. Just as with natural teeth, implant-retained teeth need to be cleaned daily and need to be regularly checked by a dentist.
Looking at the overall picture it is clear, that the dental health and function of our teeth closely relates to every facet of our overall health, from speech to the function of our digestive tract and proper nutritional status, which affects cardiovascular health as well. A tooth implant involves a lot of detail work and effort, but its benefits are far reaching.

Reference: Family Health, Vol. 21, No.2, Summer 2005 (June), page 9-13; published by The College of Family Physicians of Canada

Other links re dental implants:

Association of Prosthodontists of Canada

American College of Prosthodontists

Last edited December 7, 2012

May
01
2005

Inflammation Connected To Sudden Heart Death

It is a well-known fact that certain diseases go together, for instance diabetes and heart disease. Every effort has to be made for this reason to control a disease in order to minimize the risk for other associated illnesses.
New research from rheumatologist Dr. Sherin Gabriel at the Mayo Clinic points to another health condition. Patients affected by rheumatoid arthritis have a higher risk of early death than others, and these deaths are mostly due to cardiovascular disease. The relationship between these two diseases is complex, reports Dr. Gabriel, and the common denominator between heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis seems to be systemic inflammation.

Research from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, has been published in March, and it was found that inflammation documented by laboratory tests such as an erythrocyte sedimentation rate of over 60mm per hour increased the risk for heart disease by a factor of two. Rheumatoid arthritis vasculitis increased the risk to 2.4, and RA lung disease showed a risk increase of 2.3. Traditional risk factors for heart disease like smoking, alcohol, obesity and diabetes were accounted for, yet the more dramatic risk factor in the population with RA (rheumatoid arthritis) was the aspect of inflammation. The results of this research are based on data from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, in which 603 persons with rheumatoid arthritis were followed over 15 years. In this time span 364 of these patients died, and heart disease was the primary cause of death in 176 of them. The subjects of this group were three times as likely as an age-matched population to have been hospitalized for a heart attack and had five times the risk of having an unrecognized heart attack. This group is also more vulnerable, because patients with rheumatoid arthritis suffer of joint pains, receive painkillers, and often chest pain can be masked by pain medication and go unrecognized.

Inflammation Connected To Sudden Heart Death

Inflammation Connected To Sudden Heart Death

Co-author Dr. Hilal Maradit points out that rheumatoid arthritis remains a multifactor problem, and one factor alone does not explain the entire story, but in the meantime the link of inflammation in RA to cardiovascular disease is an important step closer to early recognition and successful control.

More info about:

Rheumatoid arthritis: http://nethealthbook.com/arthritis/rheumatoid-arthritis/

Gingivitis: http://nethealthbook.com/dentistry/gingivitis/

Heart attacks: http://nethealthbook.com/cardiovascular-disease/heart-disease/heart-attack-myocardial-infarction-or-mi/

Reference: National Review Of Medicine, April 15, 2005, page 3

Last edited October 28, 2014

May
01
2005

Burgers, Fries and High Healthcare Costs

“Everything in moderation” and “A little bit cannot harm” are the deceptively soothing terms that can lull consumers into the belief, that fast foods cannot be so bad after all. A study, called the” Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults” however gives us the facts, that paint a more realistic picture: the “little bit” actually has fairly serious consequences!
In this U.S. study a wide cross section of young adults were followed in four U.S centers: Birmingham, Ala., Chicago, Minneapolis and Oakland Calif. 3031 people in the age of 18 to 30 years were recruited in 1985 and followed until 2001.

Lifestyle habits, such as smoking, watching TV and intake of other foods were recorded, and insulin resistance was measured. In addition there were detailed studies of weight, height, waist size and other body measurements. Some interesting facts emerged: women ate fast foods less frequently than men. Fast food intake was associated with lower education, more TV watching, lower physical activity, high intake of trans fats and alcohol intake. In short: fast foods and other unhealthy lifestyle choices were correlated.

Dr. Mark Pereira, PhD of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, who is one of the authors of the study, points out that it is extremely difficult to eat in a healthy way in a fast foods restaurant. The menus still include foods high in fat, sugar and calories and low in fiber and nutrients. Dr. Arne Astrup from the RVA University in Copenhagen found the same issues: besides the fact that serving sizes have increased two to five fold over the past fifty years, the energy density is twice as high in fast foods as compared to food in healthy diets. Dr. Astrup also points out in his publication, that humans have only a weak innate ability to recognize foods with high energy density and then down-regulate the amount eaten to meet and not exceed energy requirements.

Burgers, Fries and High Healthcare Costs

Burgers, Fries and High Healthcare Costs

If a person ate more than 2 fast food meals per week, which would be a modest increase of the control group that ate less than 1 fast food meal per week, the 2 meals per week group was about 5 kg heavier after 15 years, as opposed to 11 kg in the control group. The insulin resistance increased by an alarming 230 %. This finding is of significance, as insulin resistance (=metabolic syndrome) promotes the occurrence of cardiovascular disease and cancer, especially breast and colorectal cancers. The data are showing that even a modest increase has a unique effect in increasing the risks for these disease patterns, and the message is, that health care costs will only come down, if the root cause of disease is attacked at the societal and lifestyle level.

More information about the metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance): http://nethealthbook.com/hormones/metabolic-syndrome/

Reference: The Medical Post, March 8, 2005, page 20

Last edited October 28, 2014

Feb
01
2005

Public Strategies Help Quit Smoking

Quitting to smoke has been a New Year’s resolution for many, and in view of the health care dollars spent for diseases related to smoking and the approximately 440,000 deaths in the United States per year alone, it should be a priority to implement comprehensive tobacco-control programs.
Smoking was more common among men (an average of 24.8 % nationally), whereas a national average of 20.3% of women lit up. There are also considerable differences between various states. In Kentucky 33.8% of men and 28.1% of women were smokers. Utah had the lowest prevalence with 14% men and 9.9% women. The national health objective is a goal for 2010 is to reduce the numbers to 12% smokers, which underscores the need for increased efforts to reduce tobacco use. Strategies include a clean air act to ensure clean indoor air laws, media campaigns, telephone support quit lines, insurance coverage for cessation counseling and pharmaceuticals are effective, but there are substantial variations across the states. In addition there are significant differences in the cost of cigarettes. It comes as no surprise, that Kentucky, which has the lowest price at $3.10 per pack, also has the highest number of smokers. Telephone support lines are available in the majority of states, but in 2002 only 2 states offered Medicaid coverage for medication treatment or counseling, and only six states (California, Conneticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York) have comprehensive statewide smoking bans in effect on indoor workplaces and public places.

Public Strategies Help Quit Smoking

Public Strategies Help Quit Smoking

Too few states have public smoking bans in effect. Only four states (Arkansas, Delaware, Maine, and Mississippi) were investing at least the minimum per capita amount that the CDC recommends for tobacco-control. There is obviously the need to expand efforts and resources, to achieve the goal to reduce the smoking habit to 12% in the population by 2010.

Reference: Journal Of The American Medical Society, December 22/29,2004,Vol.292, No.24

Remarks on Nov. 7, 2012: The smoking rates have not declined in 5 years according to this article in 2010

Last edited December 7, 2012

Jan
01
2005

Doctor Recommended Diet Against Obesity

After overindulging over the holidays, new years resolutions often have diets and life style choices high on the list.
These concerns are not something new. Doctors have had concerns about heart disease, diabetes, bulging waistlines and elevated cholesterol. For over three decades there have been concerns that elevated insulin levels may be associated with heart disease, and the constellation of symptoms was called “syndrome X” and later the “insulin resistance syndrome”.

Most recently the evils that are associated with body fat have been called the “metabolic syndrome”.The problem has assumed epidemic proportions: by 2001, 30% of US adults were considered obese with a body mass index of over 30, and 50% were overweight with a body mass index over 25. The form of type 2 diabetes (the adult onset of the disease) is predicted to double in the next 20 years. Physicians are reporting that they are seeing increasing numbers of children who are obese and suffer of type 2 diabetes. The major concern with an accumulation of body fat is the area of the abdomen (think of the “apple shape” with fat around the abdomen). This visceral fat tissue is not just innocently sitting there stopping you from closing buttons and zippers. It is very metabolically active and the substances it releases are a threat to your health. These fat cells secret pro-inflammatory substances called “cytokines.”

They also form substances that influence blood-clotting, factors that increase insulin resistance, substances like angiotensin, which are signing responsible for high blood pressure as well. Among the host of damaging substances is also the C-reactive protein, which is recognized as a risk factor for heart disease.

Doctor Recommended Diet Against Obesity

Doctor Recommended Diet Against Obesity

There is only one solution: to reduce the risk, excessive weight has to be shed. A sensible diet to achieve that goal has to contain less saturated fat, more fiber, and low glycemic index carbohydrates. Proper dietary habits are only one part. The other as important measure is life style intervention, which includes 2.5 to 3 hours of moderate exercise per week.
Many of the current diets promise weight loss without compromising health. All of them promote weight loss, provided they are strictly adhered to.
The high protein diets (Atkins, Protein Power Plan) are useful for rapid initial weight loss, however due to the overload of protein long term use is highly questionable. Kidney dysfunction as a consequence is a threat to health and no benefit at all!
Moderate carbohydrate diets, moderate fat, as well as moderate protein will remain the answer for long-term life style changes. It is also of significance that the glycemic index of carbohydrates plays a major role. Food intake, which favors carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, is associated with less heart disease. It has also been documented that insulin levels are more stable. Low glycemic carbohydrates include most vegetables, beans, lentils, as well as fruit like apples, pears and oranges. In contrast, high glycemic carbohydrates result in a fast insulin release, which ultimately leads to insulin resistance. Among these items are potatoes, crackers and other flour products, rice, puffed or flaked breakfast cereals, and tropical fruit (papayas, pineapple, melons).

For short-term dieters, it is an option to embark on any of the current diets without deleterious effects, no matter whether they are high-carb or low-carb. But at this point only the diets with moderate carbohydrates have shown to have some benefits on heart health.
Ultimately the wiser choice is to consume foods with a low to moderate glycemic index, by increasing the intake of vegetable proteins and oils and by choosing increased servings of vegetables and fruit instead of highly processed items. So, when you next walk through your supermarket, remember that most of the good stuff is in the periphery, namely the area where all the fresh, unprocessed or minimally processed foods are found.

More info about Mediterranean diet: http://nethealthbook.com/news/mediterranean-diet-benefits-us-workers/

Reference: Metabolic Syndrome Rounds, Oct. 2004, Vol. 2, Issues 8, St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto/On/Canada

Last edited October 27, 2014

Nov
01
2004

Flax Seed A Source Of Omega 3

Prevention has been gaining more momentum for public health as well as for the health conscious individual. Instead of looking at salvation from a slew of diseases like arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, and the complications from diabetes in the form of super pills, prevention looks a lot more promising.
Flax seed has been around for several thousand years, but it has been making a name for itself as part of healthy eating.

Its most important components are its fiber content, the alpha-linoleic acid, and the lignans. Eating flax seed helps to mop up cholesterol in the bowel, and studies have shown a drop in the “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. Duke University is publishing results that show flax seed to be helpful in blocking prostate cancer. A publication going back to August 2001 in the Archives of Ophthalmology point out the fact, that the omega-3 fatty acids, which are contained in flax seed, reduce the risk of macular degeneration. The same omega-3 fatty acids also have a favorable influence in the glucose response after a meal, a fact that is important for the prevention of diabetes.

It has to be mentioned at this point, that flax seed oil does not have all the benefits, as the fiber has been removed, and some of the benefits get lost as a result of the temperature used with processing. Also, just eating a spoon full of flax seeds will not be the answer, as flax seed is not fully used during digestion (the seeds are simply excreted in a bowel movement). To unlock the benefits it is best, to grind the seed.

Flax Seed A Source Of Omega 3

Flax Seed A Source Of Omega 3

A coffee mill does the job well enough, and freshly ground seeds are better than the pre-ground variety that has been sitting around in the bin of a store for some time. Two teaspoons of ground flax seed mixed with some yogurt and fruit makes for a good starter in the morning or an easy evening snack. A slice of flax seed bread does not give you the benefits; remember that heat during cooking or baking destroys the key components.
The nice part about flax seed is the fact, that it is inexpensive, plentiful, has no adverse side effects*, and it is the ounce of prevention which is readily available to you.

More info on Omega-3: http://nethealthbook.com/news/inflammation-extinguished-omega-3/

Reference: The Medical Post, October 12, 2004, page 13

* Comments (added Aug.28, 2005): Despite the Duke University study cited above there are disturbing news from a 14 year follow-up prospective study that has been confirmed by other studies showing that there are side-effects. This study showed that in males there is a 2-fold risk of developing invasive prostate cancer when flax seed was the supplement used. As flax seed contains alpha-linolenic acid (=ALA) and fish oil contains eicosapentaenoic acid (=EPA), there are striking differences of action that have not yet been defined in more detail. The same study showed that over 14 years EPA (when mixed with DHA) lowered the risk of getting invasive prostate cancer by 26%. Until it is known more how flax seed works, it likely is wiser to to take a molecularly distilled EPA/DHA supplement daily as this also reduces the cardiovascular risk, but at the same time prevents cancer.

Last edited October 27, 2014

Nov
01
2004

Weight Gain After Quitting Smoking A Myth

The fear of gaining weight after quitting to smoke tends to be a fear among a number of smokers, but a study presented at the annual congress of the European Respiratory Society in Glasgow in 2004 may very well put these fears to rest.
Dr. Audrey Lynas, a respiratory specialist at Sunderland Royal Hospital reported a study on 622 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (a late effect of smoking). The body mass index was not different from those who continued to smoke than those who were ex-smokers. Both groups had a BMI of 26, and five years down the line, they still haven’t put on any weight, reported Dr. Lynas.

According to a 2002 survey in Britain, 30% of female smokers and 14% of male smokers said, that they would not try to quit, as they were afraid of gaining weight. Even patients with COPD (the previously mentioned chronic obstructive lung disease) may be influenced by this fear, even though it is crucial for them to quit in order to stop the progression of their lung disease.

It seems logical, that quitting the cigarette habit is not associated with weight gain. However, if nibbling becomes a substitute for smoking, frequent snacks lead to an overload of calories.

Weight Gain After Quitting Smoking A Myth

Weight Gain After Quitting Smoking A Myth

Weight gain will be the consequence of the additional munching. Stop smoking is not the culprit for weight gain.

More on weight loss here: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/weight-loss-and-diet/

Reference: The Medical Post October 5, 2004, page 7

Last edited Oct. 27, 2014

Oct
01
2004

Studies Show Ginseng Works

As early as 25 A.D. a medical journal praised ginseng “the imperial herb” because of its nontoxic and rejuvenating properties. In the meantime 16-31% of Americans have consumed ginseng in the hope to increase their health and wellness. It is mostly the root of ginseng, which is used for medical purposes, and it is sold either whole, as a powder, or as a water- or alcohol based extract.
Among the many medically active ingredients, the ginsenosides are the most intensely studied substances.
There are well designed clinical studies which have tested ginseng’s ability to modulate diabetes, heart disease, mental function and physical performance. In the meantime there is enough evidence, which shows that Panax quinquefolius (its botanical name) can reduce blood glucose in individuals with and without type 2 diabetes.
Another study examined ginseng and its influence on blood pressure readings. Patients with type 2 diabetes (adult onset diabetes) who received a dosage of 3 grams daily over a period of 8 weeks achieved a reduction in their blood pressure readings, making it safe to take and also as an adjunct in the management of blood pressure.

Cognitive performance may be influenced positively by ginseng, however it is dependent on the dose, which is used. A lower dose of 200 mg reduced the mental performance, whereas a dose of 400 mg significantly improved accuracy in a demanding test.
Ginseng has not found to be effective to improve physical performance or be a weapon against fatigue.
In a 12- week trial patients received ginseng as a general supplement together with multivitamins or multivitamins alone. Ginseng significantly improved the quality of life, which could not be achieved with multivitamins alone.

Studies Show Ginseng Works

Studies Show Ginseng Works

Taking all the findings together, it is evident, that ginseng has beneficial properties for patients with diabetes, and it is also useful to improve cognitive function. Ginseng may reduce blood pressure readings, but more studies are needed. The blood pressure reducing effect seems marginal and ginseng, if taken for this purpose, should be used only as an adjunctive treatment along with the regular medication. As far as physical performance is concerned, it seems to be of little use. It does not show any interaction with prescription drugs, and for this reason it can be considered safe for general use.

More info on:

Diabetes: http://nethealthbook.com/hormones/diabetes/type-2-diabetes/

Heart disease: http://nethealthbook.com/cardiovascular-disease/heart-disease/

Alzheimer’s disease: http://nethealthbook.com/neurology-neurological-disease/alzheimers-dementia-and-delirium/

Reference: The Whitehall-Robins Report, September 2004, Vol.13,No.3

Last edited Oct. 27, 2014