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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Foods, Uncategorized

Apple Cardamom Bread Pudding

Apple Cardamom Bread Pudding

 

Every time I make bread pudding, I chastise myself for not making it more often! Maybe it’s because I don’t always have extra bread around, or perhaps it’s because I’m never quite sure if bread pudding is supposed to be for breakfast or dessert. The last time I made this fall-flavored Apple Cardamom Bread Pudding, I realized something: I don’t have to have a plan for it! It’s delicious hot out of the oven for breakfast, and the leftovers can be served for dessert later in the day.

This hearty dish is perfect for cold fall and winter days. When the days start to get shorter and the air crisps up a bit, I find myself craving sweet, rich food. That doesn’t always work out too well for my waistline, though. Luckily, with recipes like this Apple Cardamom Bread Pudding, I can have my cake and eat it, too! You see, most bread pudding recipes are loaded up with excess sugars. It takes a lot of sugar to sweeten something as savory as whole-wheat bread. But, we found a brilliant workaround. Want to know how we did it?

You might be surprised to learn that cinnamon and cardamom aren’t exactly sweet on their own. They sort-of trick our taste buds into thinking they’re a sweet spice. That’s because baking recipes almost always pair them with sugar. If you were to taste a pinch of them on their own, you’d find that they’re super pungent, slightly spicy, and a touch earthy.

But, when you combine them with something sweet, these spices really bloom. They actually help fill out our palates, allowing us to really taste any sweetness in the dish. Using these spices is part-one of our super-secret hack to make this Apple Cardamom Bread Pudding recipe more healthy. Part two: applesauce!

Instead of using a ton of processed sugar, we swapped in applesauce instead. It gives the bread pudding extra body while allowing the naturally sweet apples to shine.

Apple Cardamom Bread Pudding

Ingredients

  • 6 slices whole-wheat bread , using gluten free works too
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-fat coconut milk (or, milk of your choice)
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup peeled, cored, and chopped apples

options:  raisins, cranberries, nuts all work well

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Grease an 8×8 baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Cut your bread into 1-inch cubes and place them in the prepared baking dish.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the coconut milk, eggs, applesauce, cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Beat the mixture with a whisk until everything is well combined.
  4. Fold the apples into the mixture before pouring the contents over the bread cubes. Press the cubes down into the mixture to make sure each one soaks up the liquid.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes, until the pudding is set and no longer jiggles when you shake the pan. You can also insert a knife into the middle of the pudding to make sure it comes out clean.
  6. Allow the pan to cool on a baking rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
  7. This pudding can be served hot or cold. Store it in the refrigerator (covered) for up to two days.

 

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Foods, Uncategorized

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Chicken

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Chicken

 

At a party over the holidays, someone informed me that spinach and artichoke dip is no longer “in.”

I had no idea that food, especially near-universally crowd-pleasing food, could fall so easily out of vogue.

Then again, this came from my sister, the same one who has insisted for years that no one gets acrylic nails anymore. All I can say is last time I went in for a full set, I was in line behind plenty of other ladies waiting to get plastic glued to their fingertips.

Likewise, my sister imparted this sage wisdom over none other than a spinach and artichoke dip that she herself had made. So whether or not it’s still “in,” we all still love it.

 

Ingredients

  • 6 ounce fat-free cream cheese
  • 1 (15 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup baby spinach, cooked and liquid squeezed out
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fat-free shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 (6 ounce) boneless and skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whip the cream cheese on high until fluffy. Add the artichokes, spinach, garlic, cheese, half the salt, and half the pepper. Mix on low speed just until combined.
  3. Carefully cut open the side of the chicken breast to create a pocket. Stuff each with the cream cheese mixture. About 3 to 4 tablespoons per chicken breast.
  4. In a large oven safe skillet, heat the olive oil. Once the oil is very hot, add the chicken carefully so the filling does not fall out. Cook each side about 1 to 2 minutes or until each side golden brown. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for about 10 more minutes or until the chicken is cooked though.
  5. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

 

Yields: 4 servings | Calories: 389 | Total Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 139mg | Sodium: 806mg | Carbohydrates: 16g | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 4g | Protein: 54g | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 4

 

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Health and Disease, Uncategorized

5 Triggers to Autoimmune Diseases

I couldn’t believe what the consultant was telling me.  He couldn’t see anything on the MRI scan that could be accounting for my pain, but as it was December he wanted to help me throug…Autoimmune diseases are increasingly common. About 50 million Americans are suffering from a least one kind.

If you have an autoimmune disease, it means that your body is basically attacking itself. Your immune system goes into overdrive and sees everything as a threat. Trying to protect you from this perceived danger, it starts fighting and attacking its own tissues and cells, mistaking them as hazards. This can lead to pain, discomfort, and all kinds of issues depending on the autoimmune condition you have.

So what are the top 5 triggers common in almost all autoimmune diseases?

 

5 Autoimmune Disease Triggers 

1. Sugar.  Processed sugar is a common offender for anyone’s health. It leads to inflammation and can trigger autoimmune symptoms. Use organic honey and eat dates, fruits, and root veggies for sweetness.

2. Quinoa.  Though it is gluten-free and a trendy protein-rich pseudo grain, in large amounts, it can actually provoke your immune system. Limit your quinoa consumption and stick to other gluten-free products instead.

3. Gluten. Gluten is a well-known offender of health. People with Celiac disease know to stay away from it, however, it is destructive to anyone with any other autoimmune condition as well. Switch to gluten-free to stay safe.

4. Dairy.  Due to molecular mimicry, casein in dairy can act like gluten in your body. It can cause your immune system to go haywire and trigger your symptoms. Switch to plant-based alternatives.

5. Milk chocolate.   It may be yummy, but all the refined sugar, dairy, unhealthy fats, and possible artificial ingredients make milk chocolate the enemy. Switch to dairy-free, extra dark chocolate, raw cacao, and carob products. If you need sweetness, fruit and root veggies are your best options.

 

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Foods, Uncategorized

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli

This under 30-minute Olive Garden Copy Cat Pasta Fagioli Recipe is amazing. A delicious and hearty soup recipe made with meat, pasta, and vegetables! #valentinascorner #soup #pastafagioli #fagioli #recipe #copycat

This traditional pasta and white bean soup is an Italian classic that makes a wonderful supper!

Be sure to cook the pasta until just al dente, keeping it a bit chewy or “toothsome.” It makes a wonderful supper when served with a large tossed salad of romaine lettuce with red peppers, olives and sliced cucumbers and a dessert of plump dried fruit and roasted almonds.

Food as Medicine

Like all legumes, white beans are high in dietary fiber, with almost 50 percent of the Daily Value in just one cup. Soluble fiber binds with cholesterol-containing bile and escorts it out of the body. A global study of 16,000 middle-aged men found those who consumed the most legumes reduced their risk of heart disease by 82 percent. This recipe is also beneficial for blood sugar control: a substance in onions known as allyl propyl disulfide has been shown to lower blood glucose levels.

Ingredients

1 cup dried or canned small white or red  beans

1 pound of hamburger, optional
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
10 cups water or vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1 cup small pasta, such as orzo or small shells
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Additional extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

I add a large can of crushed tomatoes, and oregano

Instructions

  1. Wash the beans. In a large pot, cover them with cold water. Soak for 8 hours. Drain into a colander.
  2. In the same pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, add the onion and garlic, and sauté until soft.
  3. Add the beans and water or stock. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Reduce heat to low, add the rosemary, and simmer 2 hours or until the beans are tender.
  5. Raise heat to high, add the pasta, and cook until al dente.
  6. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper, garnish with the chopped parsley.
  7. Serve accompanied by grated Parmesan cheese and the optional drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

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Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Stroke: Know These 6 Signs And Take Action

 

Signs of A Stroke

 

Knowing the signs of stroke is crucial, as prompt treatment is necessary to help reduce the damage that can be caused by sudden interruption of the brain’s blood supply. Be aware of these classic stroke symptoms:

  1. Sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes
  2. Weakness or numbness on one side of the body, including the face
  3. Difficulty speaking
  4. Sudden disorientation, confusion or memory loss
  5. Dizziness, loss of balance or loss of coordination
  6. Severe headache that comes on suddenly with no apparent cause

Stroke is an emergency medical condition that occurs when the blood flow to the brain is cut off. Without blood intake, brain cells will die. This can cause a series of fatal complications, from permanent paralysis to death. There are more than one type of stroke. The most common are ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke. #ischemicstroke #hemorrhagicstroke #stroke #healthThe American Stroke Association suggests that anyone can identify a person having a stroke by checking for the signs of facial weakness, arm weakness and speech problems. As a bystander, you can help to determine if someone is having a stroke by asking them to perform three simple actions:

  1. Ask the person to smile
  2. Ask the person to raise both arms above his or her head
  3. Ask the person to speak a simple sentence

If the person has any problems completing any of these steps, call 911 immediately, noting the exact time of onset if possible and describe the symptoms.

 

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Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Could MS Have Links to the Herpes Virus?

Could MS Have Links to the Herpes Virus?

 

A variant of a common herpes virus may play a role in the development of multiple sclerosis (MS), Swedish researchers say.

They analyzed the blood of about 8,700 MS patients and a control group of more than 7,200 people without MS. They were looking for antibodies against proteins of two variants (A and B) of human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), which has been linked with MS.

MS patients were 55% more likely to have antibodies against the HHV-6A protein than the control group.

The researchers also looked a sub-group of almost 500 people who did not have MS. The risk of developing MS more than doubled for those who’d had a HHV-6A infection. The younger they were when the virus was found in their blood, the greater their future MS risk.

The findings suggest that HHV-6A may play a role in the development of MS, according to the authors of the study published Nov. 26 in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.

News Picture: Could MS Have Links to the Herpes Virus?MS is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, causing weakness, movement problems and tremors. Its cause is unclear, but one theory is that a virus tricks the immune system to attack the body’s own tissue.

Though previous research linked HHV-6 with MS, it couldn’t distinguish between the 6A and 6B variants. Researchers in this new study were able to do that.

“This is a big breakthrough for both the MS and herpes virus research,” said study co-senior author Anna Fogdell-Hahn, an associate professor of clinical neuroscience at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

“For one, it supports the theory that HHV-6A could be a contributing factor to the development of MS,” Fogdell-Hahn said in an institute news release. “On top of that, we are now able, with this new method, to find out how common these two different types of HHV-6 are, something we haven’t been able to do previously.”

It’s believed that as many as 80% of children are infected with the HHV-6 virus before they’re 2 years old, and many have antibodies against it for the rest of their lives.

“Both HHV-6A and 6B can infect our brain cells, but they do it in slightly different ways. Therefore, it is now interesting to go forward and attempt to map out exactly how the viruses could affect the onset of MS,” Fogdell-Hahn said.

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Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Balanitis (Inflammation of the Head of the Penis)

Balanitis (Inflammation of the Head of the Penis)

 

What is balanitis (inflammation of the head of penis)?

Balanitis treatment depends on the underlying cause.
Balanitis treatment depends on the underlying cause.

Balanitis is an inflammation of the skin of the head of penis (glans penis). If the foreskin is involved as well, it is referred to as balanoposthitis.

What are the signs and symptoms of balanitis? Is it painful?

Usually, most common signs and symptoms of balanitis are:

  1. Redness or mild swelling
  2. Iitching
  3. Rash
  4. Irritation or pain on or around the penis

An odorous discharge can accompany these symptoms.

What causes balanitis?

 

  • Balanitis is usually found in uncircumcised males. Poor hygiene can contribute when the area under the foreskin is not washed regularly and bacteria, skin, and sweat accumulate. Some underlying medical conditions can also increase the risk of balanitis, especially diabetes mellitus.
  • Allergies to certain chemicals can cause an allergic balanitis. This could be chemicals in soaps or other products in touch with the glans of the penis.
  • Certain infections (especially yeast infections) can cause a balanitis. Reactive arthritis (formerly Reiter syndrome) is associated with inflammation around the head of the penis (circinate balanitis).
  • Balanitis is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD); however, it can have similar symptoms (for example, itching and redness).
is balanitis contagious, balanitis causes, men's health

Is Balanitis Contagious?

It may depend on the causes

Balanitis, also referred to as inflammation of the head of an uncircumcised penis, may or may not be contagious if it’s caused by:

  1. Bacteria
  2. Viruses
  3. Fungus
  4. Skin irritants

 

How is balanitis diagnosed?

A health care professional will usually be able to diagnose balanitis based on asking the patient questions (history) and physical examination. No additional tests are usually necessary. If a doctor suspects that the balanitis is caused by an underlying medical condition, the patient might require blood tests.

 

Which medications treat balanitis?

 

 

First, the underlying cause is determined and the treatment directed against the reason for the condition. If there is an infection, the appropriate antifungal medication can be used. If it is a hygiene issue, daily habits are changed. Young boys may require instruction on how to retract and clean their foreskin.

The optimal medications will depend on the underlying cause of the balanitis. For examples, doctors will prescribe a topical antifungal cream if Candida infection is present, or an antibiotic if a cellulitis is suspected. In refractory or repeated situations, the doctor might suggest circumcision as a possible way to prevent further infections by eliminating the overlying foreskin.

 

Which home remedies or OTC medications soothe pain and treat balanitis?

 

Switching soaps or other possible offending irritants can be helpful. Other times, the doctor will prescribe oral or topical medications.

 

What is the prognosis for balanitis? Can it be cured?

The prognosis of balanitis is generally good.

 

Can balanitis be prevented?

The risk of balanitis can be reduced with proper hygiene, but not all balanitis can be prevented depending on the underlying cause. Circumcision has been advocated as a way of preventing or reducing the risk of balanitis in patients who had multiple episodes.

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