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Fish Oil Improves Chemotherapy Outcomes

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
March 10, 2011
File under: Health Concerns, Natural Alternatives, Natural Health, Supplements

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A new study published this month in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer journal offers some of the most definitive evidence yet that high doses of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil offer significant benefits during cancer chemotherapy.

In this new study, lung cancer patients taking fish oil had a stronger tumor response to treatment, maintained their weight better, and were more likely to survive longer than people taking placebo.

For this research trial, the authors recruited 15 people treated with carboplatin-based chemotherapy regimens for locally-advanced or metastatic lung cancer. Each of these patients took 2.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil every day. They were compared to 31 similar patients taking a placebo medication. …read more of Fish Oil Improves Chemotherapy Outcomes here

 
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Dietary Potassium – One Good Reason for Eating your Fruits & Veggies

By Joseph Katzinger ecomii.com
March 7, 2011
File under: Diet, Illness Prevention, Natural Health, Nutrition

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In my last blog I emphasized the importance of dietary fiber, particularly from whole grains, for reducing the odds of dying from several causes (including cardiovascular, respiratory, and infectious etiologies). I mentioned that fiber from other sources, such as fruits and veggies, was not found to have the same benefit. But wait…before you toss that tomato in the trash, read on….

A couple of studies caught my attention this week related to the benefits of dietary potassium, which is nearly synonymous with fruit and vegetable intake. The first was the largest meta-analysis of dietary potassium and cardiovascular outcomes to date, with results  pooled from over 11 studies and 250,000 individuals. …read more of Dietary Potassium – One Good Reason for Eating your Fruits & Veggies here

 
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Weight Loss Diets – Still Focusing on the Trees Over the Forest

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
March 4, 2011
File under: Diet, Natural Health, Nutrition

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The second week of February probably means different things to different people, but for anybody in academia, it almost certainly means midterms week. Because my midterms always cover diabetes prevention and weight loss, the second week in February serves as a yearly reminder of how popular high-protein / low-carbohydrate diets are in the treatment of obesity.

Low-carbohydrate diets often go by the name of either the Atkins Diet (a very low carbohydrate program) or the Zone Diet (a more balanced program). There are many popular diet books that present variations on these two themes, but the idea remains largely the same – replace carbohydrate calories with protein and fat rich foods.

There is an emerging body of evidence suggesting that these carbohydrate restricted diets work as a weight loss strategy. In fact, some studies have suggested that the weight loss seen with carbohydrate restriction is quicker than that seen with more traditional low-fat strategies. …read more of Weight Loss Diets – Still Focusing on the Trees Over the Forest here

 
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Dietary fiber has some surprising benefits

By Joseph Katzinger ecomii.com
March 1, 2011
File under: Diet, Illness Prevention, Natural Health

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An important new study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine last week, adding to the documentation of the significant benefits associated with dietary fiber. Although the results of this study weren’t entirely unexpected, some of the specific findings were quite surprising.

This study was a very large cohort (almost 220,000 men and 170,000 women) and prospective trial, with participants aged 50-71 and healthy at the beginning of the study and followed on average for over 9 years. As might be expected from previous data, dietary fiber intake was inversely associated with the total number of deaths  among men and women.

Specifically, it reduced the risk by 22% when comparing those consuming the most dietary fiber to those consuming the least (by quintile). It reduced the risk of cardiovascular death by 24-34% among men and women respectively, as well as the risk of cancer death by 17% in men only.

These are especially compelling findings – it’s much more important to reduce cardiovascular death by than to improve disease markers (e.g. cholesterol) which may or may not translate into actual benefit.

So what was so surprising about this study? …read more of Dietary fiber has some surprising benefits here

 
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Are Diet Sodas Safe?

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
February 25, 2011
File under: Diet, Health Concerns, Natural Alternatives, Natural Health, Nutrition

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A new study reported at the American Stroke Association’s annual meeting has reached a provocative conclusion. Based on the dietary patterns of over 2500 New York residents followed for nearly a decade, they correlated regular diet soda intake with increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

After correcting for the effects of obesity, smoking, and other critical risk factors, diet soda consumption was associated with a nearly 50% increase in risk.

This type of research cited here makes for better headlines than clinical guidance. Demonstrating a correlation between dietary patterns and health problems in a smaller study like this is really a first step toward building a hypothesis, and certainly doesn’t prove anything. …read more of Are Diet Sodas Safe? here

 
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Treating and preventing the common cold with zinc

By Joseph Katzinger ecomii.com
February 18, 2011
File under: Childrens Health, Health Concerns, Illness Prevention, Supplements

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As I write this blog, my entire family is getting over a cold, so in between coughs and sneezes I’m paying close attention to any research that might help speed up the process. As luck would have it, the Cochrane Collaboration (an international independent network which reviews health-care related issues) has just released their latest review of over 15 randomized trials of zinc for both the prevention and treatment of the common cold.

While it may seem like a minor inconvenience, the authors of the review point out that the common cold costs the US economy at least $20 billion for cold-related work loss, as well as billions more for doctors’ visits and symptomatic treatments. It also can lead to more serious complications, such as ear, sinus, and lower respiratory tract infections. Before I dive into their conclusions, I think it’s important to note that Cochrane reviews are usually fairly conservative, often concluding that it is difficult to confirm or deny benefit for the treatment in question. Also, no single treatment has found wide acceptance as a proven treatment for the common cold (despite a plethora of cold remedies on the market), so a positive finding is really quite a big deal.

What was the conclusion of this review?  …read more of Treating and preventing the common cold with zinc here

 
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Do Foods Trigger ADHD?

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
February 16, 2011
File under: Childrens Health, Diet, Food Allergies, Health Concerns, Natural Health, Nutrition

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A new study published this month in the Lancet asked a question that has troubled parents and doctors for many years – do foods trigger the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? The way the researchers went about trying to answer the question, however, leaves us almost as confused as we were before.

In this research trial, 100 children in the Netherlands were scored on measures of hyperactivity, impulse control, and other measures of ADHD. After this, half of them were placed on a restricted elimination diet for a period of five weeks, while the other half received instruction on healthy eating with no food restrictions. At the end of this five week period, the children on the elimination protocol were scored to see if their symptoms got better.

According to the scoring used, 64% of the children derived benefit from the elimination diet. These children who appeared to benefit then underwent blood tests looking for antibody markers of allergy to over 200 particular foods. Then, the researchers tracked symptoms as foods with high or low levels of allergic antibodies were reintroduced into the diet. …read more of Do Foods Trigger ADHD? here

 
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How Can I Reduce My Dietary Salt Intake?

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
February 14, 2011
File under: Diet, Health Concerns, Natural Health, Nutrition

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This is part two of a discussion of the new dietary sodium guidelines, and strategies to help comply. Here’s part one, if you missed it.

Before we dive into strategies to reduce dietary salt, I’ll need to come clean. This is probably the single worst thing about my diet, so I’ll be trying to make these changes even as I write about them.

As we discussed earlier, the average American male eats about 4000 mg of sodium per day, or nearly three times the amount recommended in the new American Heart Association position paper. Women are doing a bit better, but are still well over the goal. …read more of How Can I Reduce My Dietary Salt Intake? here

 
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New Federal Guidelines on Salt Intake

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
February 9, 2011
File under: Diet, Health Concerns, Natural Health, Nutrition

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The American Heart Association issued a call to action this month regarding dietary salt intake. The AHA is signing on to the new US Dietary Guidelines Committee recommendation to reduce dietary sodium intake to no more than 1500 mg per day.

This is a 35% reduction from the previous upper bound of 2300 mg per day. For the sake of comparison, 1500 mg of sodium is about 2/3 tsp of table salt, and about one large fast-food cheeseburger.

If followed, these guidelines represent a big change, as the average adult US male eats about 4000 mg of sodium per day. About 75% of that total comes from prepared and/or restaurant foods. …read more of New Federal Guidelines on Salt Intake here

 
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USDA Makes Dramatic Change to Dietary Guidelines

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
February 1, 2011
File under: Diet, Food Allergies, Health Concerns, Natural Alternatives, Natural Health, Nutrition

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Well, this is unexpected. The USDA today issued their 2010(?!?) Dietary Guidelines for Americans update. For the first time, this report tells Americans to eat fewer calories.

The new guidelines also specifically target added salt and sugar, dietary cholesterol, and what they refer to as solid fats. In addition, the guidelines suggest reducing land animal foods in favor of seafood.

To anybody who has followed the politics of the Food Pyramid over the past three decades, this is a welcome surprise, as it represents complete reversal from previous versions. …read more of USDA Makes Dramatic Change to Dietary Guidelines here

 
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