Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Health & Wellness

Does Drinking Water Before Meals Help In Weight Loss?

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The long-recognized practice of drinking water before meals to suppress appetite has recently been confirmed by a study that looked into its impact on weight loss.

According to a research team from the University of Birmingham in the UK, drinking 500 mL of water 30 minutes before taking a meal resulted to a more significant weight loss in people diagnosed with obesity. Study co-author Dr. Helen Parretti believes that this could help people lose weight and keep it that way. “The beauty of these findings is in the simplicity. Just drinking a pint of water, three times a day, before your main meals may help reduce your weight,” Parretti said in a news item.

The study, published in the journal Obesity, monitored 84 obese individuals who were placed in either of two groups: one group was required to drink 500 mL of water half an hour before their scheduled meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner); while the other group was asked to imagine that they are already full prior to taking the meals. Both groups were provided consultations on how to manage their weight and keep themselves physically active.

Results were clear: those who drank water prior to meals lost an average of 1.3 kg more than the control group. In terms of absolute amounts, participants preloaded with water lost 4.3 kg on the average during the 12-week observation period, compared to only 0.8 kg by those who didn’t drink before meals.

The researchers are confident that this practice can drastically improve the way people manage their weight. “When combined with brief instructions on how to increase your amount of physical activity and on a healthy diet, this seems to help people to achieve some extra weight loss – at a moderate and healthy rate. It’s something that doesn’t take much work to integrate into our busy everyday lives,” Parretti added.

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Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Lack of Vitamin D May Cause Multiple Sclerosis

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Lack of vitamin D may be a direct cause of multiple sclerosis, a new study has found.

MS, a potentially disabling auto-immune disease that damages nerve fibres, tends to be more prevalent in places that get less sunshine and sunshine triggering a chemical reaction in the skin is the primary source of vitamin D.

While previous studies have suggested an association between lower vitamin D levels and a higher risk of MS, this latest study has demonstrated a genetic correlation that points strongly to a causal link.

Scientists checked the DNA of nearly 34,000 people and identified variants in the genetic code that were closely associated with a vitamin D blood marker.

A comparison between thousands of MS sufferers and healthy individuals found that people whose genetic makeup was associated with a lack of vitamin D  were at least twice as likely to have multiple sclerosis.

Writing in the online journal Public Library of Science Medicine, the authors, led by Dr Brent Richards from McGill University in Canada, wrote: “The identification of vitamin D as a causal susceptibility factor for MS may have important public health implications, since vitamin D insufficiency is common, and vitamin D supplementation is both relatively safe and cost-effective.

“The importance of these findings may be magnified in high-latitude countries, which have disproportionately higher rates of MS and also higher rates of vitamin D insufficiency.”

The finding provided “strong evidence in support of a causal role of vitamin D in MS susceptibility”, said the scientists.

They added: “Whether vitamin D sufficiency can delay or prevent multiple sclerosis onset merits further investigation in long-term randomized controlled trials.”

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Health & Wellness

Diabetes Drug Helps Patients Lose More Weight, Study Says

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Many Type 2 Diabetes patients have been able to maintain their health condition using the diabetes drug liraglutide. A recent study discovered that the medication may also help in weight loss management.

This new study, which supports an earlier research about the peptide-1 (GLP-1) mimetic, was conducted on a larger scale with close to 850 diabetes patients who were either overweight or obese. According to study author Melanie J. Davies of the University of Leicester in the U.K., the study aims to address the difficulty of weight loss management in Type 2 Diabetes patients. “Weight loss is especially challenging for individuals with type 2 diabetes, who often experience a reduced response to weight-management pharmacotherapies compared with individuals without diabetes,” Davies mentioned in a news article.

Similar to the earlier study, test respondents were given either a placebo (control) or either of two dosages of liraglutide (1.8 mg or 3.0 mg). The treatment was conducted once a day for 56 weeks, and the patients were monitored for an additional 12 weeks to check if the treatment produces any long-term effects. The patients were also urged to follow a strict low-calorie diet and increased physical movement throughout the treatment period.

Results revealed a six percent drop in the weights of patients who took 3-mg doses of the diabetes drug. The lower dose of 1.8 mg led to a loss of 4.7 percent, while the control group lost only 2 percent. It was also discovered that a weight loss of 10 percent or higher was observed in more than 25 percent of the patients who took 3.0 mg of liraglutide. “This is the first study specifically designed to investigate the efficacy of liraglutide for weight management in patients with type 2 diabetes and also the first study to investigate liraglutide at the higher 3-mg dose in a population with type 2 diabetes,” Davies said.

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Health & Wellness

10 Great Things to Do With Your Dog on National Dog Day Aug. 26

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Aug. 26 is National Dog Day and to help you celebrate, TestCountry has drawn up a list of 10 things to do with your pooch. It is your dog’s day, after all.

So, grab your canine companion and try one of these wonderful activities:

  • Take your dog to a dog beach: If there is a dog beach in your area, why not treat your pet to a day in the sun and surf?
  • Visit a doggie play resort or a doggie spa: Yes, they’re a thing and your dog will love it.
  • Find out your mixed breed dog’s ancestry: Ever wonder what kind of dog breeds are in your mixed-breed canine? Now you can with a simple dog DNA test.
  • Buy your dog some doggie ice cream: New toys are fun and all, but your dog will flip for this unique treat.
  • Buy a new collar and leash for your dog: They’ll be just as fashionable as you.
  • Give your dog an at-home health check up: You don’t need to visit the vet to give your pooch a check up. A simple at-home health and wellness test for dogs can do just that.
  • Bake your dog some homemade dog biscuits: Find a recipe and indulge your culinary side for your pooch’s sake.
  • Take your dog for some portraits: Make the doggie magic last longer with these wonderful momentos.
  • Take your dog to your local dog park: A classic!
  • Adopt a dog from a shelter: It’s the perfect day for adopting a brand new friend.

[Photo courtesy of Rob Swystun on Flickr]

Health & Wellness

New Analysis Reveals Americans are Dealing with Major Pain

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A new analysis from existing health data shows that an astonishing number of Americans are living with some kind of pain, including ongoing chronic pain.

The analysis comes from data provided by the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). It found that an estimated 25.3 million adults (11.2%) experience chronic pain, defined as pain every day for the preceding three months. Nearly 40 million adults (17.6%) experience severe levels of pain and those with severe pain are also likely to have worse health status.

“The number of people who suffer from severe and chronic pain is striking,” said Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., director of NCCIH. “This analysis adds valuable new scope to our understanding of pain and could inform the National Pain Strategy in the areas of population research and disparities. It may help shape future research, development, and targeting of effective pain interventions, including complementary health approaches.”

Pain is among the leading reasons Americans turn to complementary health approaches such as yoga, massage, and meditation, which may help manage pain and other symptoms that are not consistently addressed by prescription drugs and other conventional treatments. For this reason, NCCIH research priorities include the study of complementary approaches to determine their effectiveness for treating symptoms such as pain.

The analysis was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and was published in The Journal of Pain.

 

testcountry banner[Photo courtesy of Ryan Weisgerber on Flickr]

 

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Top 5 Health Hazards Of Excessive Alcohol Consumption

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Alcohol remains to be one of the most abused substances, bringing health hazards to millions of people in the world. Consumption of alcohol comes in all shapes and sizes, but one hazardous way of ingesting the substance is through chronic heavy drinking.

Excessive alcohol consumption — whether in the form of binge drinking or chronic alcoholism — has long been proven to cause detrimental effects on the human body. Although the body can metabolize alcohol in moderate amounts, excess of this tolerable level goes to the bloodstream, where it is brought to the different parts and organs of the body. This distribution causes slight alterations in bodily functions and natural metabolic processes.

Medical News Today has recently released the most common diseases and health problems caused by chronic heavy drinking. The top five health hazards due to alcoholism are the following:

  1. Liver disease
  2. Pancreatitis
  3. Cancer
  4. Gastrointestinal issues (including ulcers)
  5. Dysfunction of immune system

The effects of excessive alcohol intake may differ from one person to other, depending on several factors such as age, gender, body mass index, genetics, and health status. On a general perspective, heavy drinking may be defined as consumption of more than 8 alcoholic beverages per week in women, and above 15 drinks for men.

Excessive alcohol consumption is considered to be one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.

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Health & Wellness

Study: Listening To Music May Help People With Epilepsy

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Despite the rise in popularity of medical marijuana for epilepsy, a news study suggests that music may be able to alleviate the disorder.

Scientists from the The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center discovered that listening to music affects the brainwave activity in epileptic patients, leading to a potential treatment in preventing epileptic seizures. According to a news release, the study involve collection of data from 21 epilepsy patients at the medical center from September 2012 to May 2014. Music was played to the patients who were hooked up to an electroencephalogram, a device that monitors brainwave activity. Songs used in the test were My Favorite Things by John Coltrane, Andante Movement II K.448, and Mozart’s Sonata in D Major. The experiments were conducted in people with and without epilepsy.

Results showed increased brainwave activity in all test subjects when the music was played. A more significant development was observed in epileptic patients, as their brainwave patterns were in sync with the music that they were listening to. “We hypothesized that music would be processed in the brain differently than silence. We did not know if this would be the same or different for people with epilepsy,” said study co-author Christine Charyton, PhD.

The researchers believe that their findings will lead to a new kind of treatment for epilepsy patients who want to prevent seizures from happening. “We believe that music could potentially be used as an intervention to help people with epilepsy,” Charyton added.

Majority of epilepsy cases come in the form of temporal lobe epilepsy, wherein the brain’s temporal lobe produce the seizures. A portion of the temporal lobe — called the auditory complex — processes music and sound.

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Health & Wellness

New Study Finds No Link Between Transgender and Hormone Imbalance

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Transgendered youth are not suffering from hormone imbalances a new study has claimed.

“We’ve now put to rest the residual belief that transgender experience is a result of a hormone imbalance,” study author Dr. Johanna Olson of the Center for Transyouth Health at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) said. “It’s not.”

Olson and colleagues conducted the study to assess the safety and effectiveness of treatments that would help transgender patients bring their bodies closer in alignment to their gender identity. It has long been theorized that transgender youth might just be suffering from some kind of hormone imbalance that caused them gender confusion.

The researchers studied 101 transgender young people, ages 12 to 24. More than 50 percent of the participants were assigned male at birth, and 48 percent were assigned female at birth.

After measuring a number of physiological parameters, the researchers discovered that the participants’ hormone levels were in line with the normal ranges of the same assigned sex nontransgender youth population.

According to the researchers, the average age that participants discovered a gender discrepancy was the age of 8, but they did not tell their families about this until reaching, on average, the age of 17.

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Health & Wellness

New Fat Blocker Foreseen As Antiobesity Drug

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Micelle sequestrant polymers. Remember that term because this might hold the key towards addressing the long-standing problem on obesity.

The term describes a specific group of compounds that aim to prevent the absorption of fat particles. These fat-blocking compounds could be the potential answer to uncontrolled weight gain, according to a research team led by Cory Berkland of the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy. The researchers explained in a news release that the polymers bind with intestinal fat globules — called micelles — and prevent them from getting absorbed through the intestinal tract. The bind complex is instead excreted from the body.

Initial trials were conducted on lab mice, which were found to have up to ten times the amount of fat in their fecal matter than the control group. The researchers believe that this class of compounds could pave the way for more long-term methods for treatment of obesity. Antiobesity drugs currently in the market are known to have major side effects such as depression and heart ailments.

The study was published in Biomacromolecules, a journal by the American Chemical Society.

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Health & Wellness

Americans Want Medicare to be Able to Negotiate Better Drug Prices: Poll

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Americans want Medicare to have the ability to negotiate for lower drug prices, according to a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The poll found that 87% of people surveyed want Medicare to have the authority to press drugmakers for greater discounts.

“People don’t understand why these drugs cost so much, and they don’t understand why, in America, you can’t negotiate for a better price,” said Mollyann Brodie, executive director of public opinion and survey research at Kaiser Family Foundation.

Currently, it is against the law for Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices.  Drug manufacturers say their prices reflect the billions of dollars they spend in research and development. This includes treatments that are approved and many more that fail.

Drug prices are a top priority for Americans, as a June poll revealed 73% of participants thought prescription drug prices were unreasonable, with over three-quarters of those people saying they believe it’s because manufacturers set prices too high.

Public dissatisfaction has been on the rise since a controversy last year over Gilead Sciences Inc’s novel hepatitis C cure, Sovaldi, which came with a list price of over $80,000, or $1,000 for a single pill.

Insurers and state health officials warned that treating a majority of U.S. hepatitis C patients could cost several hundred billion dollars and bankrupt local budgets. When a competing medicine from AbbVie Inc was approved late last year, private health insurers pressured both companies to lower prices significantly.

“Sovaldi got people so up in arms about pricing where you even have Republican members of Congress saying it’s ridiculous,” said Ipsita Smolinski, managing director of healthcare consulting firm Capitol Street.

The latest Kaiser poll was conducted between April 23 to May 31 among 1,849 adults, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

For nearly 50 years, Medicare has provided insurance coverage for Americans from age 65 and the disabled. Medicaid, a joint state and federal program, helps people with low incomes. Combined, they provide coverage for over 111 million people.