Testing It Up » July 2012

Monthly Archives: July 2012

Health & Wellness

High Carb Diet in Elderly Bad for the Brain

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A balanced diet include food rich in carbohydrates. Although there are already way too many fitness regimens and programs that cut back on carb intake, we cannot dismiss the fact that we need carbohydrates to supply energy for the body processes. For the physically active people, high carb is an important element of their diet, but for the older ones too much carbs may not be a good idea for the brain.

A recent study examined the types of calories elderly people were eating — fats, carbs and proteins –- then tracked the people to see how diet related to risk of dementia. At the beginning of the study, 937 elderly people who did not have any signs of mild cognitive impairment or dementia were asked to complete a questionnaire about their typical food intake. The researchers then calculated the amount of calories the respondents got from carbohydrates, proteins and fats. About 200 people developed mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Those who got the highest percentage of their calories from carbohydrates were found to have higher risk of developing dementia.

“A dietary pattern with relatively high caloric intake from carbohydrates and low caloric intake from fat and proteins may increase the risk of MCI or dementia in elderly persons,” concluded by the researchers in their abstract.

Though the study did not outline the reasons that a high carb diet may increase risk of dementia, the researchers suggest that more research still need to be done to fully establish the link between high carb diets in elderly and the development of cognitive problems.


Health & Wellness

7 Walnuts a Day Could Help Keep the Doctor Away

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Walnuts may be one of the most familiar nuts that consumers have ever known, but people are not eating plenty of them. In fact, there are people who don’t eat them at all; thus, missing the health benefits they offer.

According to Joe Vinson of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, walnuts contain high quality of antioxidants and it takes only about seven walnuts a day to get the potential health benefits. “A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut,” he said in a statement.

Vinson also noted that the antioxidants in walnuts were 2 to 15 times as potent as vitamin E — known for its role in preventing inflammation, preventing the clumping off platelets and strengthening of the immune system.

Over the years, the nutritional benefits of walnuts have been the subject of many studies.  Researchers, including medical experts, are convinced that eating walnuts helps lower the person’s risk to heart disease, diabetes, certain kinds of cancer, and other health problems.

Walnuts are rich in unsaturated, fatty acids, iron, and B vitamins. They also contain numerous heart-healthy compounds, including potassium, calcium, and magnesium.


Social Media May Reduce Risk of Depression in Elderly

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A study conducted at the University of Alabama found that Internet and social media users over the age of 50 may have lower risk of depression compared to people who do not engage in the same activity.

Sociologist Shelia Cotton, author of the study, analyzed survey results from 8,000 men and women over the age of 50 and found that those using the Internet and social media are less likely to suffer from depression. Although it wasn’t the first study to evaluate the mental health issues of older people using the Internet and social media, Cotton’s findings demonstrated how social media helps reduce the feelings of social isolation in elderly.

According to a separate research from the Pew Research Center, the use of social media and the Internet has significantly increased in three years, and of the Internet users over the age of 65, about 6% are using Twitter. Through social media and the Internet, older adults, particularly those with impaired mobility, are able to stay in contact with friends and family, as well as expand their social circles.

Depression can adversely affect the course and outcome of common chronic conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. In the United States alone, an estimated 1 in 10 adults report depression, and people aged 45-64 are said to be among the most vulnerable in developing the illness.

The new study, to be published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, also revealed that lack of knowledge of the Internet and/or access to the Internet is the main reason other adults are not participating in social media websites or surfing the web.

Early Disease Detection

1 in 10 Deaths Caused by Physical Inactivity

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A series of five studies released in British medical journal The Lancet reveals that 1 in 10 deaths worldwide is caused by physical inactivity. The lack of activity in individuals caused over 5.3 million deaths in 2008, from diseases such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and colon cancer.

Harvard researchers say getting the rates of physical inactivity down by just 10% to 20% could save from half-million up to 1.3 million lives each year.

The study series was released days before the start of the 2012 Olympics in London, as people prepare to witness athletes competing in different physical events. Harvard researcher Dr. I-Min Lee wrote: “This summer, we will admire the breathtaking feats of athletes competing in the 2012 Olympic Games. Although only the smallest fraction of the population will attain these heights, the overwhelming majority of us are able to be physically active at very modest levels, which bring substantial health benefits.”

The first of the five studies revealed that one third of adults and almost 80 per cent of adolescents in the world increase their risk of disease due to physical inactivity. The second study focused on possible reasons why certain people get enough exercise while others do not. The third study looked into programs and types of programs that are effective in promoting physical activity. The fourth study found how techonology could be a key to helping people achieve healthy levels of physical activity. The final study proposed considering physical inactivity as a global pandemic.

Health & Wellness

How to Prevent a Common Cold from Becoming Bronchitis

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Bronchitis is a respiratory ailment wherein the lung airways, the bronchi, are inflamed. It is often preceded by a common cold or flu and can either be acute or chronic. Among the symptoms of acute bronchitis are coughing, chest pain, and fever; whereas, symptoms of chronic bronchitis are usually more severe and may include breathing problems, wheezing, and exhaustion.

Giving your body the support it needs, through vitamins and minerals, is an important start to fight the diseases. There are a number of commercially available supplements and herbal remedies that can nourish your immune system. Likewise, a balanced diet will give your body the nutrients it require to combat common health problems.

Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as beta-carotene and zinc are all good for the body. Vitamin A and beta-carotene are crucial for lung health, while Vitamin C is an antihistamine and supports your immune system.

When you’re having a cold or flu, you’d typically take medications to suppress symptoms like coughing. Although some over-the-counter drugs can be helpful, taking natural remedies are better. Peppermint tea, for instance, is an excellent way to soothe your cough. Similarly, ginseng tea can help eliminate infection and help soothe coughing fits.

Maintaining good hygiene and avoiding tobacco smoking are also helpful in preventing bronchitis. Smoking, in particular, is considered one of the prominent causes of bronchitis. If you’re a non-smoker, steer clear from people who do.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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It is normal to feel anxious at times, especially during stressful periods in one’s life. However, excessive, uncontrollable and irrational worry without a proportionate reason for the behavior may interfere with daily activities and may indicate having Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

As with several other mental health conditions, the exact cause of GAD is not fully understood. There are certain conditions that seem to contribute to its existence. Some of these are genetics, brain chemistry, gender (females have a higher risk of developing GAD), personality and substance abuse, as well as life experiences and environmental factors, including stress and trauma.

Physical health conditions, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heart disease, hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, and menopause, also appear to be associated with its development.

Individuals with GAD often exhibit physical symptoms, even though the condition mainly affects the way a person thinks. Physical symptoms include fatigue, frequent headaches, nausea, muscle tension, excessive sweating, trembling and fidgeting, difficulty in breathing, restlessness, rashes, insomnia, and irritability. It is also common for people with GAD to suffer from other mental health concerns, such as phobias, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression.

People with GAD should see a psychiatrist or a psychologist, who can effectively diagnose and plan treatment. Often, treatment includes medication and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Health & Wellness

Foods That Help Combat Sleep Deprivation

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It seems that life today has become so busy and overly complicated that getting enough quality sleep has become more of a luxury than a necessity. Teenagers and adults alike have become easy target of sleep deprivation because of too much emotional distractions and social interactions. What many folks are missing, though, is that lack of sleep is blamed for a number of health problems, including muscle pains, irritable moods, increased blood pressure and stress, abnormal weight fluctuations, weakened immune system, poor concentration, and inefficiency at work — to name a few.

If counting sheep or reading a boring book doesn’t work for you, perhaps the food you eat will. Here are some snooze-inducing bedtime snacks you might want to grab the next time you visit the supermarket.

Cherries: They do not only make a sumptuous pie fillings, they also contain melatonin that plays a part in healthy sleep. Eat them as is or relish with a turkey sandwich.

Calcium-fortified Soy Milk: It boasts two sleep-boosting nutrients, tryptophan and calcium. Tryptophan increases the snooze-inducing serotonin in the brain, while calcium — aside from being good for your bones — aids your body in using the tryptophan to manufacture melatonin.

Decaffeinated Tea: A perfect example is chamomile tea which is traditionally used as a sleep-time herb. Decaf tea can soothe and relax you. You can even add honey and lemon for variety and not get worried about staying up late. Another alternative is mint tea.

Unsalted Cashew Nuts: In one study, researchers found that people with low levels of magnesium have more trouble falling asleep. If you’re one of them, snack on cashew nuts which are known to be a rich source of magnesium.


Celebrity Substance Abuse

Celebrity Rehab’s Dr. Drew Faces Allegations of Drug Pushing

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Celebrity Rehab Dr. Drew Pinsky is currently in the hot seat after being accused of promoting Wellbutrin, an antidepressant drug, on his popular radio show, Loveline, in exchange for $275,000.

The celebrity addiction specialist was named in a $3 million guilty plea by drug manufacturing giant GlaxoSmithKline following admission of bribing doctors across the United States with money, gifts, tickets to sports events and vacation trips.

Though doctors talking about a specific drug on TV is nothing new, the Loveline host’s case is drawing attention because of his failure to disclose getting paid to talk about the antidepressant.

In his email statement, Dr. Drew said “In the late ’90s I was hired to participate in a two-year initiative discussing intimacy and depression which was funded by an educational grant by Glaxo Wellcome.” Pinsky also adds that his comments “were consistent with my clinical experience.”

Wellbutrin is an antidepressant drug for the treatment of sexual dysfunction, bulimia, ADHD, and obesity. It was being pitted against Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, which are among the popular antidepressants at the time Wellbutrin was apparently being promoted by the doctor.

As of now, no further comments are coming from Dr. Pinsky, as well as from GlaxoSmithKline. Likewise, there is no formal charges filed against the celebrity doctor.

Substance Abuse

Budget Cuts Affect Anti-Tobacco Campaigns

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It seems that previous initiatives aimed to control tobacco use have been quite successful as smoking rates have dropped year after year. However, Worcester Department of Public Health representative Karyn Johnson fears that what her department has achieved may be jeopardized.

The population at present is at 181,000 with more than 31,000 smokers. In 1998, the budget set for anti-tobacco programs reached $350,000. This amount has been cut down to $135,000. This is why Johnson and the rest of the people in her department are worried. In a time when tobacco use is once again at a slow but steady increase, budget cuts will not be good and tobacco use will instead go up after many years of decline.

Johnson and five full-time staff see to it that tobacco retailers are following laws and regulations especially on the selling of such products to minors. In 2000, the group was able to visit 600 stores and checked on their compliance, but today they have enough budgets to cover only 300 stores in their area.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Tom Frieden explained that what is happening in Worcester is part of a study done all over the country to see how financial adjustments affect public health initiatives in America. He said: “The big picture is that tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. But there was a combination of fiscal crises, and states choose to do other things than tobacco cessation.”

For Worcester public health director Derek Brindisi, departments such as his are always given lesser priority, thus accomplishments made over the decades can be easily side-stepped, even if they have brought down smoking rates in the United States significantly.

Substance Abuse

CDC Report Attributes One in Three OD Deaths to Methadone

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A report form the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that nearly one-third of deaths due to prescription painkiller overdose may be attributed to the synthetic opioid methadone.

The CDC study consisted of an analysis of national data on prescription sales and deaths due to overdose from 1999 until 2010. The report also included an analysis of data on deaths from methadone and other opioids, such as Oxycontin, Vicodin, and heroin, from 13 states covered by the Drug Abuse Warning Network, for the year 2009.

The analysis showed that despite the fact that only 2 percent of prescriptions for opioid painkillers are for methadone, the drug accounts for nearly one in three of overdose deaths due to prescription painkillers. In 2009, it was found that six times as many people died due to overdoses related to methadone, when compared against data from a decade earlier.

In addition, the report indicated that about 4 million prescriptions for methadone are written annually for the management of pain, and that it causes about 5,000 deaths due to overdose each year. A significant 40 percent of deaths involving a single drug in 2009 could be attributed to methadone – despite the fact that most cases of overdose involve a cocktail of several drugs.

CDC director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden issued the following statement: “Deaths from opioid overdose have increased fourfold in the past decade, and methadone now accounts for nearly a third of opioid-associated deaths.”

The CDC director also delivered the following statement during a press teleconference held on Tuesday: “We’re not talking about methadone maintenance treatment in this data… All of the evidence suggests that the increase in methadone related deaths is related to increased use of methadone to treat pain.”

Methadone is a drug normally used for the treatment of addiction, and has been used as such since the 1960s. Recently, however, there has been an increase in its prescription for pain management, despite warnings from federal health officials against its use as a pain reliever of choice.