Top 5 Natural Health News ItemsJanuary 12, 2010 Written by JP [Font too small?]
One of most common problems that writers have is a nagging inability to self edit. It may seem odd, but it’s much easier for many scribes to write articles, novels or screenplays that are too long rather than too short. When I compose my daily column, I find that I generally have an over abundance of information to share. Therefore, I need to carefully pick and choose among my source information. But even so, I still end up with blog entries that tend to be lengthier than desired. This is especially problematic because I very much want to provide clear and concise resources on this site. One possible solution I’m currently toying with is the use of occasional lists. Instead of writing columns that are comprised of densely constructed paragraphs, I’ll simply select 5 noteworthy studies or topics and briefly describe their relevance as I see it.
My first foray into the list style of writing will focus on a broad array of health issues. One advantage of bullet point writing is that it allows for readers to pick and choose what they want to read. I’d love to think that you’re all reading every word I write, but I understand all too well that mental energy and time are two of the most precious commodities. I hope this “buffet style” of writing will allow for a more individualized way of benefiting from this site.
“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”. That sage piece of advice applies to food selection now more than ever before. There are a greater number of dietetic foods and snacks on the market than at any point in the past. We can find them at convenience stores, drive-thrus and super markets – in virtually ever corner of the world. The trouble with some of these items is that what’s inside the packaging is often not the same as what nutritional labels claim. The latest example is presented in the January 2010 edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. This new report examined the caloric content of 29 fast food and “sit-down restaurant” menu items and determined that they averaged 18% more calories than the labels claimed. An analysis of 10 commercial frozen meals likewise found a caloric overshoot of 8%. Here’s the worst part: The US Food and Drug Administration actually permits food manufacturers up to 20% excess calories in products than what is stated on nutritional labels. In other words, all of these foods with higher than reported calories are technically not breaking any rules or laws. But try telling that to your scale when you weigh yourself. (1)
84 patients with “acute hemorrhoidal attacks” were enrolled in a controlled, randomized study using a patented pine bark extract known as Pycnogenol. Within 48 hours of symptom onset, the participants were instructed on how to administer oral and topical Pycnogenol or a similar looking placebo over the course of 7 days. The severity of symptoms were recorded prior to treatment, directly after treatment and one week following treatment cessation. Those receiving the oral pine bark extract demonstrated significantly decreased symptom scores. A subset of the group that received Pycnogenol supplements and a topical Pycnogenol ointment found even faster relief. The biggest benefit noted was a complete absence of hemorrhoidal bleeding in the Pycnogenol users. (2)
There are many supplements and, even, medications that are intended to boost testosterone levels in men. However, ensuring adequate Vitamin D concentrations may be an even safer and more natural way to ensure optimal hormonal status. 2,299 men were tested to determine levels of D, testosterone and available/free testosterone. The male participants with D concentrations of more than 30 mug/l had significantly higher levels of available and total testosterone. These same men had lower levels of SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin), a glycoprotein that binds to testosterone and renders it inactive. The authors of this study also found that the men had higher concentrations of male hormones during the sunniest month of the year, August. The conclusion of the trial states that, “Androgen levels and 25(OH)D levels are associated in men and reveal a concordant seasonal variation”. (3)
This month’s issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry reports that eating a whole food based, traditional diet can decrease the likelihood of anxiety and depression in women. A total of 1,046 women of all ages (20 – 93) were randomly chosen to take part in this investigation. Food frequency questionnaires and a psychological index were used to examine connections between diet and mental health. The determination was that, “a ‘traditional’ dietary pattern characterized by vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, and whole grains was associated with lower odds for major depression or dysthymia (chronic, mild depression) and for anxiety disorders”. A menu plan consisting of beer, fried foods, refined grains and sugar was linked to a higher incidence of all of the previously stated mental disorders. (4)
A trial conducted at the Tianjin Women and Children’s Health Center in China has found an important connection between sleep duration and hyperglycemia – defined as having a fasting glucose level above 100 mg/dL. 1,236 kindergarten students were the basis for this examination. About half of the group was classified as normal weight and the remainder was labeled as obese. A few key findings came to light during the evaluation period: a) the obese children were more likely to sleep less than 8 hours a night and; b) the children who slept for 8 or less hours per night had a much higher incidence of hyperglycemia than those who slept 9 or 10 hours nightly. (5)
One of the downsides of working with lists is that each of the items above don’t contain much commentary or context. I think one way in which I can address this is to use these “bare bone” issues as a springboard for future, more in depth topics. My current thinking is to intersperse this new format with the variety of columns that you’ve come to expect here. Now that you’ve seen an example of what I’m considering, I would appreciate receiving your feedback. Please feel free to e-mail me directly or leave a note in the comment section at the bottom of this page. I’m always interested in knowing your thoughts. Thank you!
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
Tags: Pycnogenol, Sleep, Vitamin D
Posted in Children's Health, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements