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America’s Potassium Problem

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
September 9, 2011
File under: Childrens Health, Diet, Health Concerns, Illness Prevention, Natural Health, Nutrition

America’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is truly a masterpiece of nutritional science.

Once a decade, NHANES publishes a comprehensive guide to what Americans eat, broken down by age, gender, race, and geographical location. This data helps guide public policy and research agendas over the upcoming decade.

The newest NHANES data, gathered from 2003 to 2006, are just starting to seep out into the research world, and if you are an advocate for food-as-medicine, the results aren’t pretty. …read more of America’s Potassium Problem here

 
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Pregnancy Stress Can Have Life-Long Effects on a Child

By Lara Pizzorno, MDiv, MA, LMT
August 31, 2011
File under: Health Concerns, Medical Care, Pregnancy

What happens during a woman’s pregnancy can have life-long (or potentially life-shortening) effects on her child.

When 94 healthy young adults were tested, those whose mothers had experienced severe stress during their pregnancy (for example, the death or sudden severe illness of an immediate family member, loss of their home) were found to have much shorter telomeres than those whose mothers had had a healthy, uneventful pregnancy.

Why does telomere length matter?

Telomeres are like a string of little protective beads that cap off the ends of the chromosomes in our cells, protecting them — and the DNA of which they are composed — from damage. …read more of Pregnancy Stress Can Have Life-Long Effects on a Child here

 
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Poor Food Safety Practices: Do They Put School Children At Risk?

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
August 9, 2011
File under: Childrens Health, Diet, Health Concerns, Illness Prevention, Nutrition

Do you think you are making a healthy choice by preparing your child’s lunch ahead of time, and sending it with them to school? Think again, according to a study published this week in the journal Pediatrics.

It turns out that over 90% of the lunches tested reached temperatures that would potentially foster the growth of bacteria responsible for food-borne illness. And since the temperatures were measured an hour and a half before lunch, foods were potentially sitting at these temperatures for a long time.

Do you think that cold pack you included in the lunch will prevent this issue? Wrong again. …read more of Poor Food Safety Practices: Do They Put School Children At Risk? here

 
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If They Won’t Believe the Scientists, Maybe They’ll Believe the Actresses

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
August 1, 2011
File under: Childrens Health, Health Concerns, Illness Prevention

Actress Amanda Peet is in the news this week promoting the Every Child By Two vaccination campaign. In this news article, she talks about a scary experience she had last year when her daughter contracted pertussis (whooping cough), a serious disease that has been making a comeback as vaccination rates drop.

This is not the first time Ms. Peet has been in the news for her pro-vaccine statements. In 2008, she stirred up a hornets nest of anti-vaccine sentiment when she referred to parents who don’t vaccinate their children as “parasites.” Ironic, then, that two years later her daughter (who was too young to have completed the vaccine schedule) contracted the condition that is the center of the firestorm.

My intention here is not to rehash the evidence in favor of vaccinations. It has been done more thoroughly and snarkily than I could manage to do it on such a tight deadline. Rather, my concern is about what has happened to our trust for science in this country. …read more of If They Won’t Believe the Scientists, Maybe They’ll Believe the Actresses here

 
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A New Life For an Old Idea

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
July 5, 2011
File under: Diet, Health Concerns, Illness Prevention, Natural Alternatives, Natural Health, Nutrition, Sustainable Food, Uncategorized

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In the same way that a broken watch is right twice a day, every once in a while the nutrition beliefs of the natural health community and the academic community line up in unexpected ways. This is the case with the reanimated recommendation of Meatless Monday.

The concept of a Meatless Monday as a means of conserving scarce resources is nearly 100 years old. It was developed in response to food shortages during World War I, and was revived during World War II. But once peacetime rolled around, the programs were placed in the same mothballs as the Send Over Smokes program and the Liberty Bond.

In 2003, as part of the Healthy Monday series of campaigns, the guy responsible for the advertising catch-phrase “don’t squeeze the Charmin” revived the Meatless Monday program. …read more of A New Life For an Old Idea here

 
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Can You Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
June 28, 2011
File under: Diet, Health Concerns, Natural Health, Nutrition

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People with type 2 diabetes can not only normalize their blood sugar, but can undo some of the tissue damage that leads to the disease, according to a provocative new study published this month in Diabetologia.

Previous research trials have demonstrated that you can go into remission from type 2 diabetes, but conventional wisdom has been that the hormonal changes leading to diabetes are progressive, and only go in a single direction – getting worse.

In this study, a group of 11 recently diagnosed (< 4 years ago) type 2 diabetics under the age of 65 ate a 600 calorie diet for 8 weeks. This diet was largely made up from a liquid nutrition product called Optifast, but also included 3 servings of vegetables per day. …read more of Can You Reverse Type 2 Diabetes? here

 
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USDA Rearranges the American Plate

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
June 13, 2011
File under: Diet, Health Concerns, Nutrition

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Last week, the United States Department of Agriculture replaced the long-standing food pyramid icon with a new visual image based around a standard meal plate. This new graphic is the centerpiece of a dramatically reworked set of dietary recommendations that began to emerge this past February.

To understand why this is such an upgrade, let’s start with a bit of history. The original Food Pyramid was released in 1992.While it was an easily understood image, it was hardly a document geared toward controlling a trend toward obesity. It heavily emphasized grains, and provided little help with choosing grain-based foods wisely. It also emphasized meat and dairy in a way that seems in retrospect to be overly food industry-friendly and calorie-dense.

In part due to these criticisms, the USDA released the …read more of USDA Rearranges the American Plate here

 
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Learning More About Niacin

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
June 7, 2011
File under: Health Concerns, Illness Prevention, Medical Care, Supplements

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A major clinical trial that added niacin to statin treatment for people with a history of heart disease was closed early due to lack of clinical benefit, according to a news release from the American Heart Association. These results are being interpreted as a disappointment in some early media reports.

The trial was based on a belief that simultaneously lowering bad LDL cholesterol (with a statin class medication) and increasing good HDL cholesterol (with niacin) would be superior to simply increasing LDL alone. This combination treatment has been associated with promising outcomes in previous studies, including one published just over a year ago in the New England Journal of Medicine. …read more of Learning More About Niacin here

 
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Dietary Sodium – A New Controversy About an Old Intervention

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
June 3, 2011
File under: Diet, Health Concerns, Illness Prevention, Natural Health, Nutrition

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Salt restricted diets have been a mainstay of treatment for high blood pressure therapy for over 100 years. A study published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association challenges this view, purporting to link higher salt intakes with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

In this new study, the authors collected the urine of about 3600 European adults over a single day period, and analyzed the content of sodium. This group was then followed over a period of about six years, and statistics were kept on cardiovascular events (like heart attack and stroke) and blood pressure.

There were a number of controversial findings in this study, …read more of Dietary Sodium – A New Controversy About an Old Intervention here

 
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A New Class of Antidepressants Looks Like an Old Dietary Supplement

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
May 24, 2011
File under: Health Concerns, Medical Care, Natural Alternatives, Natural Health, Supplements

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An article scheduled for publication in the next issue of the Lancet looks at the efficacy of a new class of antidepressant. This medication class includes a number of new melatonin-like molecules, none of which are currently approved for therapeutic use in the United States.

But melatonin is widely available over-the-counter in this country. Would melatonin supplements potentially have the same therapeutic effect as the pharmaceutical versions? Maybe, but let’s take a little detour first.

For the past 50 years, drug therapies for depression have focused on a group of neurotransmitters called monoamines. In particular, serotonin has been the major therapeutic target, so much so that many modern theories about the cause of depression focus on disruptions in production of this chemical. …read more of A New Class of Antidepressants Looks Like an Old Dietary Supplement here

 
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