Fish to avoid
Per the all-knowing Dr. Weil, here's a list of 3 types of fish to avoid and why. Read on peeps!
If you've ever had a loved one or neighbor with Alzheimer's Disease, you know how debilitating it can be. Alzheimer's Disease is characterized by a progressive and terminal loss of brain function that leaves people without the ability to form new memories or function independently.
But now research is showing that you can stave off this awful disease by increasing your physical activity levels, not smoking and addressing depression (if you suffer from it). Isn't that great news??? Seriously, you cut your risk in HALF by being healthy and active! No drugs, no gimmicks, just a better mind during your later years...personally, I think that's marvelous! Read below for the full blurb and go for that jog you're body has been craving! : D
From the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) Headlines newsletter:
"About half of the risk factors for Alzheimer's disease are potentially changeable, and reducing them could substantially decrease the number of new cases of disease worldwide, according to a study being presented July 26 at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference and released that day on the website of the journal Lancet Neurology.
According to the authors from the University of California, San Francisco, physical inactivity is the biggest changeable risk factor in the U.S., accounting for 21% of the risk for Alzheimer's, followed by depression and smoking. Added together, the three factors account for about 50% of the risk and, if decreased by just 10%, about 184,000 Alzheimer's cases in the U.S. and 1.1 million cases worldwide could be prevented, according to the research. A reduction of 25% on all seven risk factors—also including diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and low educational levels—could prevent nearly half a million cases in the U.S. and more than three million worldwide, the analyses showed.
The study is the first known analysis intended to quantify and compare how risk factors are associated with Alzheimer's. It is based on mathematical modeling and the assumption these risk factors cause Alzheimer’s, which has not been scientifically proven. The next step in this work is to conduct prevention trials to try to modify these risks to see if they can actually stave off Alzheimer's, says the study’s lead author."
Prevent CANCER with DIET! And how that's related to my new Fellowship program :D
Dr. Weil writes, "A healthy diet can help the body in its efforts to heal itself, and in some cases, particular foods can lessen the risks of serious illness. To help reduce your risk of some types of cancer, try the following:
These guidelines are fundamental and obvious to those attempting to prevent cancer through good diet. So what about the rest of the population who doesn't see these tidbits as useful pieces of advice? (You know who you are...) Why do so few people heed the advice of doctors, public health officials and other health care professionals??
The answer is multi-factorial and ranges from cultural norms (nobody wants to be the one not eating cake at a birthday party) to lack of provider (healthcare provider) guidance on how to go about achieving true health to the feeling of being overwhelmed with the task of change.
The fellowship I just began (Integrative Medicine at Stamford Hospital's Tully Health Center) aims to change ALL of these obstacles by providing comprehensive, holistic and thorough patient care. The Center offers intensive nutrition counseling by a PHYSICIAN (Dr. Joseph Feuerstein, who is well-known in the Stamford community as the "Diet Guru"); stress reduction through Jon Kabat-Zin's Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, a Mindfulness-Based Stress EATING program and hypnosis; and comprehensive natural pain management through acupuncture, trigger point injections and hypnosis.
These three components target the obstacles that lay before people attempting to improve their dietary habits and have proven to be extremely effective over the last 2-3 years since the Center opened. I am extremely proud and honored to be able to work with such an amazing group of caregivers and cannot wait to get my learn on some more! Just in case you're wondering, I plan to bring my skills back to Houston to help as many people as possible control their weight, improve their life and their sense of well-being...in whatever form I can.
Thanks for reading and Happy Monday!
Dr. M :D
Here's a super interesting article on a study done on pregnant moms to see if taking a prenatal vitamin (high in folic acid which prevents neural tube defects in babies) is associated with the incidence of an autistic spectrum disorder (ASDs - these disorders range the gamut from Asperger's Syndrome to full autism). An association between an adequate or high folate level and the decreased incidence of ASDs would greatly impact the field as folic acid is readily available in many foods we eat and as a cheap dietary supplement. Unfortunately, this association would not explain the cases that occur despite adequate folic acid intake by the mom. It appears that autism is a multifactorial problem - can be caused by genetics, environmental toxins (the science is still out on this) and possibly now by diet (or lack thereof). Read on for more info and have a fabulous weekend!
"Taking prenatal vitamins around the time of conception decreased the risk of autism in the children by almost half, finds a study of mom/child pairs from California. Mothers with specific genetic variants that hinder the breakdown of nutrients important to early brain development – like folate – were further at risk if they didn't take prenatal vitamins. The results – published in the journal Epidemiology – indicate that proper prenatal nutrition may be especially important for susceptible individuals and may help prevent autism overall.
What did they do? Researchers used data from the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study – a population-based case control study of preschool children from California. In CHARGE,children are considered "cases" if they had received services for an ASD from one of the state's regional centers of the California Department of Developmental Services.
Children aged two to five years old participated in the study. Autism was confirmed in the children based on results from two standardized clinical assessments. The controls were children without autism who were identified from state birth certificates.The controls were matched to the cases based on age, sex, and area of California where they lived.
Mothers were asked questions about their use of prenatal vitamins, multivitamins, other nutritional supplements and dry cereal to measure their intake of nutrients like folate that are important in early neurodevelopment.
Samples of DNA were collected from both the mothers and the children. The researchers examined 10 functional genetic variants – parts of genes that work to make proteins in the body – key to carbon one metabolism, which is primarily responsible for the breakdown and uptake of folate in the body.
The authors looked to see if moms and their children who had genes that did not work as well as other mom/child pairs to break down folate were at additional increased risk for autism if the mother did not take a prenatal vitamin or consume fortified foods to provide the vitamins important for brain and nerve development. They compared the risk of autism when taking prenatal vitamins before conception, later in pregnancy and regularly during pregnancy.
What did they find? Mothers who took prenatal vitamins during the three months before and the first month of pregnancy – called the peri-conceptional period – had nearly half the risk of having a child with autism when compared to mothers who did not take prenatal vitamins during this pregnancy stage. Later in pregnancy, there was not a detectable difference in risk between mothers who did and did not take prenatal vitamins.
The mothers who took prenatal vitamins more regularly during pregnancy had a lower risk of having a child with autism than those who didn't. The researchers found that those who reported taking a prenatal vitamin daily or taking one at least four days a week were the least likely to have a child with autism.
No change in autism risk was found for standard multivitamin use. Prenatal vitamins typically
contain more iron, vitamins B6 and B12 and twice as much folic acid – which are needed for proper brain and nerve development.
The results show genetic factors play a role as well. Mothers with gene variants that decreased their ability to metabolize nutrients were two to four times as likely to have a child with autism if they also did not take prenatal vitamins. One genetic variant identified in the child increased the risk of autism by seven times if the mother did not take prenatal vitamins.
What does it mean? Prenatal vitamins may help prevent autism, particularly when women take the supplements up to three months prior to conception and during the first month of pregnancy. In particular, taking a daily prenatal vitamin may be most beneficial for women who are planning to become pregnant to help decrease the risk of autism.
The study is the first to look at the relationship between prenatal vitamins and the risk of autism, according to the authors. The findings show prenatal vitamins taken before conception and daily throughout pregnancy can reduce the risk of the disorder.
Use of these supplements may also be more important among genetically susceptible individuals who may not be as able to metabolize important nutrients like folate.
While the underlying causes of autism and the biology which makes the disorder occur have not been deciphered, studies such as this one are important steps to understanding prevention of autism.
Future research on maternal diet throughout pregnancy and mechanisms by which this may work – like epigenetic effects – may help understand the findings of this study. Replication in other samples is also needed to support these findings and address small samples present when looking for gene-environment interactions.''
Source: Environmental Health News
Original article: Schmidt, RJ, RL Hansen, J Hartiala, H Allayee, LC Schmidt, DC Tracredi, F Tassone and I Hertz-Picciotto. 2011. Prenatal vitamins, one-carbon metabolism gene variants and risk for autism. Epidemiology http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/EDE.0b013e31821d0e30.
I just stumbled across this interesting article (sure to make headlines) on whether or not water is being pushed down our throats too much by health advocates. Do we drink eight 8 oz glasses of liquid a day or can we get away with just drinking when thirsty? The authors of this study claim that there is no evidence to recommend drinking 64 oz of water a day. They also note that there is no evidence against it...meaning it is not harmful to drink this much water. Most health care practitioners know (and many a mentor has taught me), too much or too little of anything can be bad.
So what, as health care practitioners and patients, do we make of these findings? Personally, I will continue to encourage my patients to drink as much unsweetened liquids (minus diet drinks) as they feel they need (likely around 6-8 glasses a day) to help flush the body of toxins and to maintain skin hydration. Unbeknownst to many, dehydration is actually a common cause for admission to the hospital, especially in people who work outside in hot climates. Obviously in those conditions, it is recommended by everyone to drink 2-3 times your normal intake...use common sense.
Unfortunately though, many people, in their busy, hectic lives ignore their thirst and in doing so, often end up dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to headaches, constipation, fatigue or nausea and in severe cases, electrolyte imbalances, passing out or death. So, bottom line, stay hydrated at the level that you feel comfortable. If you're like me, that means carrying a water bottle (BPA-free) around constantly. If you're like many of my colleagues who go around all day without drinking anything...I'd say make a conscious effort to stop every few hours for something to drink (even if it's at a water fountain or sink). Everyone else, use common sense.
All the best and stay cool!
This is not surprising as we all now big cities are more stressful to live in. But now researchers are starting to tease out the mechanisms behind these findings. Read on for more...
Source: City living marks the brain. Published online 22 June 2011 | Nature 474, 429 (2011) | doi:10.1038/474429a
"Epidemiologists showed decades ago that people raised in cities are more prone to mental disorders than those raised in the countryside. But neuroscientists have avoided studying the connection, preferring to leave the disorderly realm of the social environment to social scientists. A paper in this issue of Nature represents a pioneering foray across that divide.
Using functional brain imaging, a group led by Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg of the University of Heidelberg's Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany, showed that specific brain structures in people from the city and the countryside respond differently to social stress. Stress is a major factor in precipitating psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.
The work is a first step towards defining how urban life can affect brain biology in a way that has a potentially major impact on society — schizophrenia affects one in 100 people. It may also open the way for greater cooperation between neuroscientists and social scientists. "There has been a long history of mutual antipathy, particularly in psychiatry," says sociologist Craig Morgan at the Institute of Psychiatry in London. "But this is the sort of study that can prove to both sides that they can gain from each others' insights."
Meyer-Lindenberg works on risk mechanisms in schizophrenia, and previously focused on the role of genes. But although a dozen or so genes have been linked to the disorder, "even the most powerful of these genes conveys only a 20% increased risk", he says. Yet schizophrenia is twice as common in those who are city-born and raised as in those from the countryside, and the bigger the city, the higher the risk.
So Meyer-Lindenberg set out to study how city life might increase the risk of mental illness. The team scanned the brains of 32 student volunteers while they performed arithmetic tests. At the same time, the students received negative feedback through headphones. "We'd tell individuals they were performing below average, and suggest impatiently they hurry up a bit, so they'd feel they were failing," he explains.
This 'social stress' activated many brain areas, two of them specifically correlated with the volunteers' history of urban living. The amygdala, which processes emotion, was activated only in people currently living in a city. And the cingulate cortex, which helps to regulate the amygdala and processes negative emotions, responded more strongly in those brought up in cities than in those who grew up in towns or rural areas.
The initial experiment showed such clear associations that Meyer-Lindenberg didn't think anyone would believe them. So he did a similar experiment on another 23 subjects, this time adding visual feedback that allowed participants to see the investigators' frowns. He found the same sturdy associations.
He now plans to repeat the work in the general population, where urban–rural differences are likely to be even stronger than in students. He also plans to study how other risk factors identified by social scientists — such as being an immigrant — affect stress processing. "We will use tools from social scientists to help us quantify things like perceived discrimination, social support networks, or stigma," he says.
Yet he has had trouble interesting his social-science colleagues in setting up joint projects. Such lack of sympathy across the cultural divide is common, says Ernst Fehr, an economist at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and a pioneer in the field of neuroeconomics, which studies the neurological basis of economic decisions. "But social problems have neurobiological effects, which, in turn, may exacerbate the social problems," he says.
The social sciences have as much to gain from crossing disciplinary boundaries as the biological sciences, says Morgan. "Sociologists and epidemiologists establish associations that are plausible — like immigrants may suffer more mental illness because of social isolation — but they are validated when neuroscientists demonstrate a robust biological mechanism."
For his future investigations, Meyer-Lindenberg is seeking urban planners who can help him to tease out how variables such as green space and population density contribute to the neurobiological impact of city living. Hans Wirz of the urban planning office in Basel, Switzerland, says that it took decades to integrate knowledge about the biomedical effects of the cityscape into his profession. 'But when it comes to mental health we haven't a clue.'"
Fascinating stuff. Have a great, calm and peaceful weekend.
Per Environmental Health News
"NEW YORK – Even by this city's standards, the Garment District is an imposing place to ride a bike.
A never-ending parade of delivery trucks rumbles along 8th Avenue between 34th and 42nd streets, leaving a wake of gritty exhaust for cyclists to feel, smell and breathe.
After riding in the Garment District, Robert "Rocket" Ruiz, a 13-year veteran of the bike messenger business, would often look into the bathroom mirror and see his face covered in grime.
"I remember having to wash my face three or four times a day," said Ruiz, now the head dispatcher for Quik Trak Messenger Service. "There's nothing but tar and smoke on your face." Ruiz, a star on the Travel Channel's bike messenger show "Triple Rush," said he once had to miss a day of work to see a doctor because of exhaust burning his eyes.
Pedaling behind pollutant-spewing cars and trucks may not seem as scary as being hit by one, but scientists say it can pose invisible dangers.
Now, for the first time, cycling in heavy traffic has been linked to a heart health risk, Canadian researchers reported last month. A new study found cyclists in Ottawa, Ontario, had heart irregularities in the hours after their exposure to a variety of air pollutants on busy roads.
Pedaling behind pollutant-spewing cars and trucks may not seem as scary as being hit by one, but scientists say it can pose invisible dangers."Our findings suggest that short-term exposure to traffic may have a significant impact on cardiac autonomic function in healthy adults," the scientists from Health Canada, Environment Canada and the University of Ottawa wrote in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
The study does not suggest that bikers would be better off driving, experts say. Rather, the findings intensify the scrutiny on cyclists' pollution exposure, and point to simple solutions for a cleaner ride, such as avoiding busy roads like 8th Avenue whenever possible.
"It's something that actually concerns a lot of people that do cycle," said Michael Brauer, a cyclist and atmospheric scientist at the University of British Columbia who was not involved in the new study. "People want to understand their risk. They're just thinking all the time, 'Is this good for me? Is this bad for me? I'm doing my part, but there's this car that's throwing this exhaust in my face.' "
For the study, 42 healthy, non-smoking cyclists wore heart monitors before, during and after cycling for one hour on high- and low-traffic roads between May and September last year. Instruments on the bikes' panniers measured exposure to air pollution.
Brett IsraelStudy results point to simple solutions for a cleaner ride, such as avoiding busy roads whenever possible.Short-term exposure to heavy traffic significantly decreased heart rate variability in the cyclists for up to three hours after they finished cycling. Experts say reduced heart rate variability is associated with a higher risk of heart attacks.
"A very healthy person is like a Ferrari," said Arden Pope, an expert in the health effects of air pollution and professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. "Step on the gas and it really goes fast. Step on the brakes and it really slows down. The human heart, you want it to be like that too."
But with lower heart rate variability, the heart is behaving more like a minivan than a Ferrari, Pope said, meaning that it is less able to respond to stress.
Researchers are not sure how air pollution alters heart rate variability, Pope said. One idea is that particles in the lungs cause inflammation, which throws off the body's ability to carry out its automatic functions.
No respiratory effects were found in the cyclists. The researchers did not find any significant changes in their lung function, probably because all the cyclists were healthy, and most had no asthma or other respiratory problems.
Around the world, researchers have found that whenever fine particles increase in the air, deaths and hospitalizations from asthma, heart attacks and other cardiopulmonary problems increase, too.
Hours to weeks of exposure to particles that are smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, which peak during rush hours, can trigger cardiovascular effects, according to the American Heart Association.
Researchers are not sure how air pollution alters heart rate variability. One idea is that particles in the lungs cause inflammation, which throws off the body's ability to carry out its automatic functions.For the Canadian cyclists, when their exposure to certain pollutants, including ultrafine particles, nitrogen dioxide or ozone, increased, their heart rate variability decreased, according to the study.
Sheer proximity to tailpipes is one reason why cyclists have a high exposure to the tiny particle pollutants, which are emitted by vehicles along with thousands of other chemicals. Diesel buses and trucks are among the worst offenders.
"The closer you are to the source of the fresh exhaust, the worse it is," said Patrick Ryan, an environmental epidemiologist at the University of Cincinnati, who studies the health effects of traffic-related pollution.
Near the tailpipe, these particles are small enough to lodge deep in the lungs, triggering heart attacks and hospitalizations from lung diseases such as asthma. Tiny particles can also cross the blood-brain barrier, potentially harming the nervous system. Farther away from the tailpipe, these particles clump together, growing too large to lodge deeply, Ryan said.
That's why even a small separation from cars, created by physical barriers to traffic – something that's missing for most of 8th Avenue – is important for cyclists.
Two white stripes of paint, with a few feet of cycling space between them, is all that is reserved for bikers on this crowded street. Trucks commonly idle on the bike lane. Heavy traffic creates a wind tunnel that traps pollution on the road, according to a study by the California Air Resources Board.
A 2010 study of cyclists in the Netherlands showed that hard-pedaling, deep-breathing cyclists on busy roads inhale more of this dirty air. In many cases, they also spend more time exposed to it compared to someone driving the same distance.
"Those things add up and they give cyclists that cycle in traffic a high exposure," Brauer said.
Todd Mecklem/flickrCyclists brave not only traffic, but rain and oil-slicked roads in Portland, Ore.But whether that exposure ups a cyclist's risk for heart or breathing problems has been less well established. One small study of Netherlands cyclists found a weak link between exposure to ultrafine particles and soot and airway inflammation.
The new study of Canadian cyclists does not mean that people should lock up their bikes and hop back into the driver's seat, said Brauer. Another study has shown that drivers have higher respiratory problems than cyclists because of their higher exposure to volatile organic chemicals in vehicle exhaust.
"In stop-and-go traffic, [drivers] have more exposure than a cyclist who stays 15 feet or more from the tailpipes," said Rebecca Serna, executive director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, a cycling advocacy group.
The health benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks from air pollution and traffic collisions relative to car driving, according to one estimate by researchers in the Netherlands, where cycling is king. Taking cars off the road also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and traffic accidents.
"In general, you're better off cycling than not," Brauer said. "The physical activity benefits outweigh negative impacts. But you'd like there to be no impacts."
Exposure to dirty air adds to the perception problem that cycling is unsafe, said C.H. Christine Bae, an urban planner at the University of Washington in Seattle, who specializes in how bike facilities affect air pollution exposure.
The Canadian study authors have a simple solution. Avoid busy streets.
"In general, you're better off cycling than not. The physical activity benefits outweigh negative impacts. But you'd like there to be no impacts." – Michael Brauer, cyclist and atmospheric scientist, University of British Columbia"When possible it may be prudent to select cycling routes that reduce exposure to traffic and/or to avoid cycling outdoors or exercise indoors on days with elevated air pollution levels," the research team wrote.
"Our recommendations to cyclists would be to avoid busy as streets as much as possible," said Dimitri Stanich, a spokesman for California's Air Resources Board.
Of course, cyclists might want to avoid busy streets for a number of reasons – fewer distracted drivers being one. But the busiest streets also have the dirtiest air, with ultrafine particle and soot exposure highest on busy roads, according to a recent study.
Bike routes should aim to minimize time spent on these high-traffic roads, the Canadian researchers wrote. This would reduce exposures of riders who may be more susceptible to the immediate health risks of traffic-related air pollution, such as the elderly, children, and pregnant mothers.
A study of bike lanes in Portland, Ore., showed that lanes separated by planters, not just by white paint, actually decreased cyclists' air pollution exposure. A Belgian study of traffic pollution found that cycling as little as several feet off the road gave measurable differences in exposure.
Getting cyclists out from behind the cars helps, too. In Portland, when traffic stops at a red light, cyclists have a designated area at the front of the line of cars, called a bicycle box, which helps them navigate turns and flee the tailpipe fumes.
Spacing MagazineSolutions like this bicycle box in Portland help cyclists flee tailpipe fumes."Little things like that can help a lot to reduce exposure to cyclists," Bae said.
If a little is good, more is better. Brauer says the preliminary results of his lab's work suggest that bike lanes are best when built one block from a major traffic artery. Despite the emerging research, Bae said that she does not know of any cities that consider cyclists' pollution exposure when designing bike lanes.
Including Vancouver, where Brauer cycles, many of the cities that built bike lanes one block away from a major road thought about cost, not pollution.
"Most were done by accident, because they were cheaper," Brauer said. "But they actually give you an air pollution benefit."
Dr. Maltz earned a Medical Degree and Master in Public Health from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, TX. She completed a combined Internal and Preventive Medicine Residency at UTMB in June, 2011. She then completed a 2-year Integrative Medicine Fellowship at Stamford Hospital in Stamford, CT, during which she simultaneously underwent an intensive 1000-hour curriculum created by The University of Arizona Integrative Medicine Program founded by Dr. Andrew Weil.