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Health & Wellness

Fruit Drinks For Children May Have Too Much Sugar, Says Study

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Fruit juice boxes flood the groceries and parents are unaware that these boxes of liquid sweetness don’t really provide their kids with healthy doses of vitamins, but instead load them up with unacceptably high dose of sugar.

Fruit juice is camouflaged and is not always as it seems even if it’s labeled as “100% pure” because the production undergoes a process wherein most of the flavor has been removed. This then leads the manufacturer to add “flavor packs” to restore the flavor lost during the processing.

Researchers from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society assessed sugar content of several fruit juice drink, 100% natural juices, and smoothies marketed specifically to children. According to the findings of the study as reported in a news release, close to 50 percent of the fruit juice products already contains at least 19 grams of sugar, which is already the daily recommended sugar consumption of a child.

In addition, while the fruit juice boxes were labeled safe according to European law, the information is applicable to adult females with average built and active lifestyles. As a result, the nutrient content in these products may not be suitable for kids.

Likewise, since fruit juice is high in calories and sugar, obesity and cavity problems may arise in children. Being in liquid form, it can also give a feeling of fullness to children, so they become less likely to feel hunger for more nutritious foods and beverages.

Details of the study are published in the journal BMJ Open.


Health & Wellness

Roughly Half of California Residents Found With Prediabetes, Says Study

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This bit of news doesn’t sound good for people of California: A new study says that about 13 million people in the state have prediabetes.

This figure represents about 46 percent of California’s population, according to a news report on a study from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. In addition to this statistic, about 9 percent — or 2.5 million people — are diagnosed with diabetes. “This is the clearest indication to date that the diabetes epidemic is out of control and getting worse,” according to the center’s executive director Dr. Harold Goldstein.

The study involved a review of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, particularly on fasting plasma glucose and hemoglobin A1c. This was combined with data from the California Health Interview Survey involving more than 40,000 people.

Results showed that about 33 percent of the young adult population (i.e. between age 18 and 39) have prediabetes. In addition, the rate of prediabetes in Pacific Islanders was highest on record at 43 percent of the population, followed by African Americans and American Indians at 38 percent each.

What’s more disturbing is that getting tested for prediabetes is not included in standard insurance policies, especially for people under 45 years old. “There are significant barriers not only to people knowing their status, but getting effective help… A simple blood test for diabetes should be covered by all insurers, as should the resources and programs that can make a real difference in stopping the progression of this terrible disease,” said lead study author Dr. Susan Babey.

Despite the seemingly grim findings, it’s not too late to fight diabetes. “If there is any hope to keep health insurance costs from skyrocketing, health care providers from being overwhelmed and millions of Californians from suffering needlessly from amputations, blindness and kidney failure, the state of California must launch a major campaign to turn around the epidemic of type 2 diabetes,” Goldstein added.


Health & Wellness

Breast Cancer Risk Heightened By High Sugar Consumption

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Aside from the direct effect of high sugar consumption on diabetes and obesity, a new study also links this to breast cancer.

This was revealed by a team of researchers from the MD Anderson Cancer Center of the University of Texas, who wanted to delve further into earlier studies on a potential link between sugar intake and breast cancer development. The study used lab mice to check whether feeding them with either sucrose, fructose or starch could lead to signs of breast cancer. The diet prepared for each mouse was based on a standard Western meal, which has lots of refined sugars and fat, and less fruits and vegetables.

Results revealed that mice given a diet rich in sucrose or fructose had a higher risk of developing breast cancer. In terms of percentages, 30 percent of mice in a starch-rich diet were found with breast tumors. Meanwhile, close to 60 percent of those in sugar-rich foods had tumors. In addition, these mice also exhibited faster metastasis, based on tumors found in the lungs. “We determined that it was specifically fructose, in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, ubiquitous within our food system, which was responsible for facilitating lung metastasis and 12-hydroxy-5Z,8Z,10E,14Z-eicosatetraenoic acid (12-HETE) production in breast tumors,” said study co-author Lorenzo Cohen in a news item.

The researchers discovered that sugar intake has a definite impact on cancer development. “This study suggests that dietary sucrose or fructose induced 12-LOX and 12-HETE production in breast tumor cells in vivo… This indicates a possible signaling pathway responsible for sugar-promoted tumor growth in mice. How dietary sucrose and fructose induces 12-HETE and whether it has a direct or indirect effect remains in question,” Cohen added.

The study and its findings were published in the journal Cancer Research.


Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Natural Human Hormone Affects Affinity to Alcohol and Sweets

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The holidays provide the perfect opportunity to bond with family and friends over dinner, but this is also the time when people tend to eat a lot of sweets and drink alcohol. This recent discovery by researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center might provide some help.

A compound known as fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is a naturally occurring liver hormone that has a role in the body’s response to stress such as extreme temperature and nutritional changes. The research team, which includes Dr. Steven Kliewer and Dr. David Mangelsdorf, looked into the hormone’s effects on dietary preferences.

The study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, involved lab mice with high levels of FGF21 and investigated the animals’ response to water laced with sweetener and alcohol. The results clearly showed that the rodents with high levels of FGF21 had less preference for alcohol and sweets. “This is the first time a hormone made in the liver has been shown to affect sugar and alcohol preference in mammals,” Kliewer said in a news release.

The effect of the liver hormone also included a reduction in the level of dopamine, which is linked to the body’s natural reward system. “Our findings raise the possibility that FGF21 administration could affect nutrient preference and other reward behaviors in humans, and that the hormone could potentially be used to treat alcoholism,” Kliewer added.

The researchers believe that their study could provide significant information on how to reduce the tendency to prefer sweets and alcohol, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes and alcohol abuse. “These findings suggest that additional studies are warranted to assess the effects of FGF21 on sweet and alcohol preference and other reward behavior in humans,” Kliewer expressed.


Health & Wellness

Risk of Heart Disease Increased By Drinking Sweetened Beverages

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As the U.S. celebrates American Diabetes Month this November to raise awareness on one of the leading diseases in the world, a new study revealed that drinking sweetened beverages on a regular basis not only worsens the risk of diabetes but also of cardiovascular diseases.

A Swedish study conducted by Dr. Susanna Larsson and colleagues at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm involved close to 49,000 males who were asked about their diet, physical activity, lifestyle, and health status. After filtering out those with existing health issues such as heart ailments or cancer, the remaining 42,400 respondents were monitored for about 12 years.

From the survey and continuous monitoring, researchers discovered that “men who consumed at least two servings per day of sweetened beverages had a 23% higher risk of heart failure, compared with non-consumers,” as reported in a news item.

Aside from diabetes, cardiovascular diseases remains one of the top causes of death, affecting roughly 23 million people around the world.


Early Disease Detection

About Half of Asian and Latino Diabetes Sufferers Remain Undiagnosed

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More than half of Asian Americans and almost half of Hispanic Americans who have diabetes remain undiagnosed, according to the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Using newly available data from 2011-2012, the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers were able to quantify diabetes prevalence for Asian Americans for the first time and found that they have the highest proportion of diabetes that was undiagnosed among all ethnic and racial subgroups studied, at 51%. Diabetes was also common in Asian Americans, at 21%. Hispanic Americans had the highest prevalence of diabetes at nearly 23%, with 49% of that undiagnosed.

The results were published Sept. 8 in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The data also found that Asian Americans often develop type 2 diabetes at a lower body mass index (BMI). The NHANES data showed the average BMI for all Asian Americans surveyed was under 25. For the U.S. population overall, the average BMI was just below 29. A BMI of 25 to under 30 is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese. The American Diabetes Association recommends Asian Americans get tested for diabetes at a BMI of 23 or higher, a lower BMI threshold than the general population.

“The large proportion of people with undiagnosed diabetes points to both a greater need to test for type 2 diabetes and a need for more education on when to test for type 2 diabetes, especially since populations such as Asian Americans may develop type 2 at a lower body mass than other groups,” said the study’s senior author, Catherine Cowie, Ph.D., director of diabetes epidemiology programs at the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

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Health & Wellness

Drinking Sweet Beverages Leads To Higher Risk of Fatty Liver Disease

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A team of researchers discovered a link between regular consumption of sugar-containing drinks and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Study lead author Jiantao Ma, Ph.D. of Tufts University’s Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging explained the significance of their research. “Our study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that sugar-sweetened beverages may be linked to NAFLD and other chronic diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” Ma said in a news release.

The research was conducted through a survey of more than 2,600 enrolees of the Offspring and Third Generation cohort study of the National Heart Lunch and Blood Institute Framingham Heart Study, asking them about their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, which include colas and fruit-based drinks. The respondents were checked for the amount of liver fat via CT scan.

Results showed a higher risk of developing the liver disease when drinking more than one sweet drink a day. However, there was no link found between NAFLD and consumption of diet sodas.

The researchers have not determined a cause-and-effect relationship, though. “The cross-sectional nature of this study prevents us from establishing causality. Future prospective studies are needed to account for the changes in beverage consumption over time as soda consumers may switch to diet soda and these changes may be related to weight status,” said study senior author Nicola McKeown, Ph.D.


Health & Wellness

World Diabetes Day on November 14: Interesting Facts

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The global recognition of World Diabetes Day November 14 allows people around the world to understand and gain more awareness about the disease. The annual event is being carried out by the World Health Organization and the International Diabetes Federation as a way to make people aware of diabetes and to address the increasing risk of the disease.

Diabetes continues to be one of the most prevalent diseases globally. In 2013, more than 380 million people were diagnosed with diabetes, with most of the cases having Type 2 Diabetes. Projections estimate the cases to increase to almost 600 million by the year 2035. It has also become one of the leading causes of death, which is probably the reason why world governments spend a lot of money on diabetes treatment and studies.

As we recognize World Diabetes Day today, here are some interesting facts about the awareness campaign:world diabetes day logo

  • November 14 is the birthday of Canadian scientist Frederick Banting who discovered insulin (together with colleague Dr. Charles Best) as a treatment for diabetes.
  • The first World Diabetes Day was celebrated in 1991 as a response to the increasing risk of the disease.
  • The event’s simplistic logo is a blue circle, which is considered the global symbol for diabetes. The circle shape signifies life, health and unity. The color blue is aligned with the color of the United Nations flag.
  • The World Diabetes Day focuses on a different theme every year. This year will focus on “healthy living and diabetes”, particularly on eating healthy. Key messages to be used in this year’s campaign are the following: “Make healthy food the easy choice,” “Healthy eating: make the right choice,” and “Healthy eating begins with breakfast.”
  • The International Diabetes Federation has more than 230 member associations across 160 nations.
Health & Wellness

Anti-Parasite Medicine May Help Diabetics

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In the fight against type 2 diabetes, it may be a parasite-fighting medication that helps diabetics the most. diabetes in older adults

New research led by Victor Shengkan Jin from Rutgers University, and published in the journal Nature Medicine, shows that a modified version of the drug niclosamide, which is used to kill intestinal parasites, can also attack diabetes at its source. 

Jin and his colleagues managed to eliminate fat in the liver of lab mice using the modified form of niclosamide, called niclosamide ethanolmine salt (NEN). This “improved the animals’ ability to use insulin correctly and reduce blood sugar,” Jin said.

Essentially, type 2 diabetes occurs when excessive fat accumulates in the liver and muscle tissue, rendering the body unable to effectively use insulin to metabolize blood sugar in the body. As a result, glucose remains in the bloodstream, damaging tissue and causing blindness, kidney damage, heart disease, and other health problems.

With this new drug able to rid the liver of excessive fat, it is hoped that it will be able to make it possible for the body to start using insulin effectively again. The drug burned excess fat through a process called mitochondrial uncoupling, which Jin likened to an automobile.

“The cell is like a car and the mitochondria are the engine,” Jin said in a statement. “What we’re doing inside cells is like putting the car’s transmission into neutral by uncoupling it from the transmission. Then you step on the gas so the engine runs full throttle but the car doesn’t move. If too much of the fuel in the cell is fat, you keep burning it until the fuel gauge reaches empty. Without the interference of fat, you hope that sugar will then enter the cell normally.”

Jin theorized that once the fat from the liver and muscle tissues are cleared, the cells will be able to respond to insulin, enabling them to interact with glucose, and reversing diabetes entirely.

The drug hasn’t been tested on humans yet, but its results in mice are seen as highly encouraging.


Health & Wellness

Scientists hopeful that human gut cells can create insulin

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Scientists from Columbia University Medical Center in New York City are hopeful that cells residing inside the human gut can be retrained to produce insulin.diabetes in older adults

For people with type 1 diabetes, their body’s natural insulin-producing cells, known as pancreatic beta cells, are destroyed by their immune system, meaning they cannot produce their own insulin.

Insulin-producing cells have been created before using stem cells, but these cells do not yet fully function like natural insulin-producing cells, the Columbia research team explained.

However, by simply turning off a particular gene, the Columbia scientists were able to convert cells in the human gut into cells that make insulin. They said the findings suggest that it may be simpler to reeducate existing cells than to replace the cells lost in type 1 diabetes using stem cell technology.

“People have been talking about turning one cell into another for a long time, but until now we hadn’t gotten to the point of creating a fully functional insulin-producing cell by the manipulation of a single target,” study senior researcher Dr. Domenico Accili, a professor of medicine at Columbia, said in a university news release.