Spreading Good Health

March 22, 2010 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Several years ago I was thinking about my life and wondered whether there was a simple activity I could perform everyday that would contribute something positive to the world. In the past I would visit natural health forums and do my best to answer questions posed by other visitors. Now I try to do my part by writing this daily blog and using HungerSite.com as my homepage. This is a cost-free way of benefiting a variety of charities. You just click on a button and it donates a small amount to non-profit organizations that address the needs of animal shelters, the hungry, literacy groups and even rainforest preservation. This is all well and good, but I want to try to do more and I need your help.

Beginning this Monday, I’m starting a new series of columns entitled “Your Weekly Five”. Once a week, I’ll briefly highlight five studies that focus on natural health topics that have the potential to improve the health and quality of life of large segments of society. But like every other piece of useful information, its utility only extends as far as its actual reach. That’s where you are come in. I’m officially asking you to share at least one of these items with someone in your sphere of relationships. It might be your boss, a fellow commuter, your priest or rabbi or even your spouse. Please take a chance and share something new and positive with the people you see every day – something they might not otherwise hear or read about it.

  • Green Tea for Healthy Teeth and Gums – The April 2010 edition of the journal Preventive Medicine examined a Japanese population consisting of 25,078 older men and women (aged 40 to 64). The objective of the research was to establish whether there was a link between green tea consumption and oral health. Researchers from the Division of Epidemiology at Tohoku University determined that as little as 1 cup of green tea daily conferred an 18% reduced risk of tooth loss in the study group. The men and women who regularly consumed 5 or more cups a day exhibited even greater protection – a 23% decline in tooth loss. (1)
  • Astaxanthin Lowers Inflammation and Supports Immune Function – Astaxanthin is an antioxidant pigment, a carotenoid, typically found in krill, lobster and salmon. Preliminary animal and human research suggest that it “modulates immune response, inhibits cancer cell growth, reduces bacterial load and gastric inflammation, and protects against UVA-induced oxidative stress”. A newly published study in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism provided a group of healthy young women with either a placebo, 2 mg of astaxanthin or 8 mg of astaxanthin per day over the course of 8 weeks. Various measures of antioxidant status, inflammation and immune function were measured throughout the course of the experiment. Both dosages of this rare carotenoid were found to decrease DNA damage (plasma – OHdG) and inflammation (C-reactive protein) while improving several markers relating to immune function (natural killer cell cytotoxic activity, B and T cell subpopulations and mitogen-induced lymphoproliferation). The authors of the study remarked that, “Taken together, the immunomodulatory, antioxidative and anti-inflammatory activity of astaxanthin will likely influence the etiology of cancer and inflammatory diseases”. (2)
  • Carotenoids and Heart Attack Risk – Other members of the carotenoid family of pigments, beta-cryptoxanthin and lutein, were recently found to confer a protective effect on myocardial infarctions. This finding is based on an analysis of 63,257 Chinese men and women with ages ranging from 45 to 74. Over the course of 5 years of monitoring, 280 heart attacks were reported in the group. Blood tests that examined the relative levels of carotenoids and Vitamin A (retinol) established a significant difference between the healthy study subjects and those who presented acute myocardial infarctions. The adults with the highest levels of plasma beta-cryptoxanthin were 33% less likely to have a heart attack. The “odds ratio” for lutein determined that those with the highest blood levels of this carotenoid were afforded up to 42% protection vs. those with the lowest levels. A few of the richest food sources of beta-cryptoxanthin include cilantro and red bell peppers. Lutein can found in select whole foods such as eggs, kale and spinach. Please note that dietary carotenoids are best absorbed when consumed along with healthy fats. (3)
Dietary Factors and Cancer Chemoprevention
Source: J Postgrad Med 2009;55:45-54 (link)
  • Dietary Fiber and Nuts Protect Against Breast Disease – Proliferative Benign Breast Disease (BBD) is a well-established “marker of increased breast cancer risk”. New evidence from Harvard Medical School suggests that eating a diet rich in fiber and nuts may be an effective way to minimize BBD incidence. The current investigation followed 29,480 young women who provided information about their eating habits in a “high school diet questionnaire”. A total of 682 of the participants were identified as having BBD. However the young women who consumed the largest amount of dietary fiber exhibited a 25% lower hazard ratio than those in the lowest quintile of fiber intake. Furthermore, those who ate at least 2 servings of nuts per week were found to have a 36% lower risk of BBD as compared to those who ate less than one serving per month. The conclusion of the study states that, “These findings support the hypothesis that dietary intake of fiber and nuts during adolescence influences subsequent risk of breast disease and may suggest a viable means for breast cancer prevention”. (4)
  • The Dairy Prostate Cancer Link – A new population study conducted at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy is the latest to point an accusatory finger at dairy in relation to prostate cancer risk. In the most current evaluation, a more than “twofold increased risk of prostate cancer” was associated with increased intakes of dairy products in general. However a more detailed analysis of the evidence revealed that milk was the only form of dairy that appeared to increase the risk of PC incidence. On the other hand, certain other foods were found to offer a protective effect – fish, legumes, nuts and Vitamin E rich foods. (5)

I’m confident that at least one of these items affects someone you know. Perhaps you have a friend who has chronic dental problems or a colleague who’s always feeling achy and getting sick. Then there’s breast + prostate cancer and heart disease – there isn’t a person alive that shouldn’t be proactively trying to avoid these all too common conditions. The bottom line is that if you’re reading this right now, you have the ability to assist the people around you to live happier, healthier lives.

Be well!

JP


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Posted in General Health, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements, Women's Health

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