Health and Disease, Rx to Wellness, Uncategorized

Fatty Diets Tied to Leading Cause of Vision Loss in Seniors

Health and Wellness Associates

Fatty Diets Tied to Leading Cause of Vision Loss in Seniors

 

News Picture: Fatty Diets Tied to Leading Cause of Vision Loss in SeniorsDiets heavy in red meat and fatty foods could help spur a leading cause of vision loss in older Americans, new research suggests.

The study found that people who ate more typical Western diets were three times more likely to develop an eye condition that robs you of your central vision — late-stage age-related macular degeneration.

“What you eat seems to be important to your vision, and to whether or not you have vision loss later in life,” said study lead author Amy Millen. She’s an associate professor in the department of epidemiology and environmental health at the University at Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions, in Buffalo, N.Y.

“People know that diet influences cardiovascular risk and the risk of obesity, but the public may not know that diet can affect vision loss,” Millen said.

Age-related macular degeneration occurs when a part of the eye called the macula is damaged. Sometimes this happens when deposits called drusen grow on the macula. Or it can occur when new blood vessels keep forming and leak blood, scarring the macula, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Genetics and smoking are known risk factors for age-related macular degeneration.

The study included almost 1,300 people from a nationally representative sample. Most did not have macular degeneration. There were 117 who had early AMD, and 27 had late.

All of the study participants completed surveys about their diets twice during the 18-year study.

The researchers sorted the foods into 29 categories to measure the quality of the diet.

They found that people who ate a more Western diet were much more likely to develop late-stage AMD. Foods linked to a higher risk included:

  • Red and processed meats
  • Fats, such as margarine and butter
  • High-fat dairy
  • Fried foods.

“Diet is one way you might be able to modify your risk of vision loss from age-related macular degeneration,” Millen said, especially if you have a family history of the disease.

She noted that since the study was observational, it couldn’t prove that eating healthy foods would reduce the risk of AMD, but she said it did show the foods you probably don’t want to eat often.

Dr. Avnish Deobhakta, an ophthalmologist at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai in New York City, wasn’t involved with the study, but said he wasn’t surprised by the findings.

“This study shows what we’ve suspected. A diet high in fatty foods, processed meats and refined grains makes the more severe form of macular degeneration more likely,” Deobhakta said.

Both Millen and Deobhakta said inflammation caused by a less healthy diet and stress on the cells in the eyes (oxidative stress) are likely behind the increased risk.

“The eyes are a sentinel for the rest of the body. In the tiny blood vessels of the eyes, even small changes that you would not otherwise notice in other organs, you will notice in the eyes,” Deobhakta said.

So can you make up for a lifetime of eating poorly? That’s not known. But both experts said that a healthy diet — full of vegetables (especially dark, leafy greens) and fruits and fatty fish — contains important nutrients for eye health, including lutein and zeaxanthin.

“It’s difficult to switch the way you eat overnight, but this is almost certainly a decades-long process, so try to slowly move toward more virtuous behavior with food. Try to supplement your current diet with more leafy vegetables and increase your consumption of fish,” Deobhakta said.

And both experts strongly advised no smoking.

The study was published in the December issue of the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

 

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Diets and Weight Loss, Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Are You Drinking Enough During Winter Months?

Health and Wellness Associates

Are You Drinking Enough During Winter Months?

Remembering to drink enough water is easy during the summer, when higher temperatures and outdoor activities drive the point home. But staying adequately hydrated is just as important during the winter.

Environmental humidity plays a role, said Stavros Kavouras, who directs the Hydration Science Lab at Arizona State University in Phoenix. Central heating causes drier interior environments during the winter, which can lead to increased water loss simply from breathing.

That’s not the only challenge. In cold environments, the kidneys actually excrete more urine, said Joseph C. Watso, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine in Dallas.

“It’s a small change that could potentially make a difference,” he said. “If you’re not sweating, you might forget to drink adequate water.”

Dehydration sets in when the body loses more water than it takes in.

Even minor dehydration – the level at which people begin feel thirsty – is linked to difficulty concentrating, poor memory and bad moods. And studies have shown people who chronically consume a low amount of water seem to be at higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease, kidney stones and urinary tract infections. “High urine flow seems to be protective,” Kavouras said.

News Picture: AHA News: Are You Drinking Enough During Winter Months?  Kavouras and his colleagues found mild dehydration impaired the function of cells that line blood vessels almost as much as smoking a cigarette. Dehydration also has been linked with inflammation, artery stiffness, blood pressure regulation and other factors that can raise the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Research also has linked poor hydration to diabetes. “Diabetes is a lifestyle disease that’s associated with what we eat, what we drink and how physically active we are,” Kavouras said. “Hydration seems to be part of this recipe.”

Exactly how much water people need can vary.

“Our water needs change from day to day based on factors such as environmental temperature and activity level,” Kavouras said. “If you are an Ironman athlete who trains four hours per day, your water needs are higher than somebody who is sedentary.”

In general, the federal Institute of Medicine suggests women take in 2.7 liters and men 3.7 liters of water per day. That might sound like a lot, but because food contributes about 20% of the daily water total, women should drink 8, 8-ounce glasses and men 12, 8-ounce glasses.

“It’s underappreciated that many fruits and vegetables are 90 to 95% water,” Watso said. “Eating more fruits and vegetables can certainly help you stay hydrated.” Soup, an old winter standby, also counts. “Just be sure to avoid soups with very high amounts of sodium.”

Watso recommends people keep a refillable water bottle with them and sip on it all day. “Your body can only process water at a certain rate, and if you drink too much too (quickly), the excess will be excreted,” he said.

Experts say fluid from tea and coffee – even that eggnog latte – counts toward hydration. Even soda and juices technically contribute to one’s daily fluid intake, although experts do not recommend them because of their high sugar content. Alcohol, however, doesn’t make the cut.

Kavouras advised people to pay attention to how often they use the bathroom. Adults should urinate six or seven times per day. Dark yellow or orangish urine is a sign to drink up.

“Drinking water throughout the day is one of the most effective things you can do to improve health and well-being.”

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Rx to Wellness, Uncategorized

Obesity Might Skew Blood Tests in Kids

Health and Wellness Associates

 

Obesity Might Skew Blood Tests in Kids

 

News Picture: Obesity Might Skew Blood Tests in KidsIf your child is obese, new research suggests that those extra pounds can alter the results of routine blood tests.

“We performed the first comprehensive analysis of the effect of obesity on routine blood tests in a large community population of children and found that almost 70% of the blood tests studied were affected,” said study first author Victoria Higgins, from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and the University of Toronto.

Higgins’ team looked at more than 1,300 healthy children and teens in and around Toronto and found that obesity affected 24 routine blood tests, including those for liver function, inflammation markers, lipids and iron.

The study was published Dec. 17 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

“As clinical decisions are often guided by normative ranges based on a large healthy population, understanding how and which routine blood tests are affected by obesity is important to correctly interpret blood test results,” Higgins explained in a journal news release.

It’s unclear if obesity’s impact on blood tests are a sign of early disease, but doctors should be aware of these findings when interpreting several types of blood tests in children, the researchers advised.

“We hope our study results will assist pediatricians and family physicians to better assess children and adolescents with different degrees of overweight or obesity,” Higgins said.

There’s been a sharp rise in overweight and obesity among U.S. youngsters in the past three decades, and the childhood obesity rate is now about 18.5%.

— Robert Preidt

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