Tag Archives: European Food Safety Authority

Abdominal fat or belly fat

As people go through their middle years, their proportion of fat to body weight tends to increase. Extra pounds tend to park themselves around the midsection. At one time, we might have accepted this as an inevitable fact of aging. But we’ve now been put on notice that as our waistlines grow, so do our health risks. Abdominal, or visceral fat is of particular concern because it’s a key player in a variety of health problems. The good news is that visceral fat yields fairly easily to exercise and diet, with benefits ranging from lower blood pressure to more favorable cholesterol levels.

Though the term  abdominal fat  or belly fat might sound dated, “middle-age spread” is a greater concern than ever. As people go through their middle years, their proportion of fat to body weight tends to increase — more so in women than men. Extra pounds tend to park themselves around the midsection.
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At one time, we might have accepted these changes as an inevitable fact of aging. But we’ve now been put on notice that as our waistlines grow, so do our health risks. Abdominal, or visceral fat is of particular concern because it’s a key player in a variety of health problems — much more so than subcutaneous fat, the kind you can grasp with your hand. Visceral fat, on the other hand, lies out of reach, deep within the abdominal cavity, where it pads the spaces between our abdominal organs.

Visceral fat has been linked to metabolic disturbances and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In women, it is also associated with breast cancer and the need for gallbladder surgery.

Are you pear-shaped or apple-shaped?…….CLICK & SEE….

Fat accumulated in the lower body (the pear shape) is subcutaneous, while fat in the abdominal area (the apple shape) is largely visceral. Where fat ends up is influenced by several factors, including heredity and hormones. As the evidence against abdominal fat mounts, researchers and clinicians are trying to measure it, correlate it with health risks, and monitor changes that occur with age and overall weight gain or loss. .

The good news is that visceral fat yields fairly easily to exercise and diet, with benefits ranging from lower blood pressure to more favorable cholesterol levels. Subcutaneous fat located at the waist — the pinchable stuff — can be frustratingly difficult to budge, but in normal-weight people, it’s generally not considered as much of a health threat as visceral fat is.

Research suggests that fat cells — particularly abdominal fat cells — are biologically active. It’s appropriate to think of fat as an endocrine organ or gland, producing hormones and other substances that can profoundly affect our health. Although scientists are still deciphering the roles of individual hormones, it’s becoming clear that excess body fat, especially abdominal fat, disrupts the normal balance and functioning of these hormones.

Scientists are also learning that visceral fat pumps out immune system chemicals called cytokines — for example, tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6 — that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. These and other biochemicals are thought to have deleterious effects on cells’ sensitivity to insulin, blood pressure, and blood clotting.

One reason excess visceral fat is so harmful could be its location near the portal vein, which carries blood from the intestinal area to the liver. Substances released by visceral fat, including free fatty acids, enter the portal vein and travel to the liver, where they can influence the production of blood lipids. Visceral fat is directly linked with higher total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, and insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance means that your body’s muscle and liver cells don’t respond adequately to normal levels of insulin, the pancreatic hormone that carries glucose into the body’s cells. Glucose levels in the blood rise, heightening the risk for diabetes. Now for the good news.

Exercise and dieting can help you get rid of belly fat:

So what can we do about tubby tummies? A lot, it turns out. The starting point for bringing weight under control, in general, and combating abdominal fat, in particular, is regular moderate-intensity physical activity — at least 30 minutes per day (and perhaps up to 60 minutes per day) to control weight. Strength training (exercising with weights) may also help fight abdominal fat. Spot exercising, such as doing sit-ups, can tighten abdominal muscles, but it won’t get at visceral fat.

Diet is also important. Pay attention to portion size, and emphasize complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) and lean protein over simple carbohydrates such as white bread, refined-grain pasta, and sugary drinks. Replacing saturated fats and trans fats with polyunsaturated fats can also help.

Scientists hope to develop drug treatments that target abdominal fat. For example, studies of the weight-loss medication sibutramine (Meridia), have shown that the drug’s greatest effects are on visceral fat.

For now, experts stress that lifestyle, especially exercise, is the very best way to fight visceral fat.
Source: Harvard Health Publication

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Equisetum

Botanical Name:  Equisetum
Family: Equisetaceae
Genus: Equisetum
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Equisetopsida
Order: Equisetales

Synonyms:   Shave-grass. Bottle-brush. Paddock-pipes. Dutch Rushes. Pewterwort.

Common Names:horsetail, snake grass, puzzlegrass, Arvense and  Hyemales

Habitat :The flora of the riverside contains species that trace their lineages back to the Carboniferous or the Age of Amphibians, over 300 million years ago. These plants, known as horsetails or scouring rushes, are members of the genus Equisetum. This genus consists of 25 species and is the only living representative of what was once a large and significant component of the coal age or Carboniferous swamp forests.  They are chiefly distributed in the temperate northern regions: seven of the twenty-five known species are British, the most frequent being Equisetum arvense, E. sylvaticum, E. maximum and E. hyemale. E. arvense, the CORN HORSETAIL, is a very troublesome weed, most difficult to extirpate from cultivated land. Many of the species are very variable. The genus Equisetum is near-cosmopolitan, being absent only from Antarctica.

Description:
They are perennial plants, either herbaceous and dying back in winter as most temperate species, or evergreen as most tropical species and the temperate species rough horsetail (E. hyemale), branched horsetail (E. ramosissimum), dwarf horsetail (E. scirpoides) and variegated horsetail (E. variegatum). They typically grow 0.2-1.5 m tall, though the “giant horsetails” are recorded to grow as high as 2.5 m (northern giant horsetail, E. telmateia), 5 m (southern giant horsetail, E. giganteum) or 8 m (Mexican giant horsetail, E. myriochaetum), and allegedly even more
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Equisetum is a “living fossil” as it is the only living genus of the entire class Equisetopsida, which for over one hundred million years was much more diverse and dominated the understory of late Paleozoic forests. Some Equisetopsida were large trees reaching to 30 meters tall. The genus Calamites of the family Calamitaceae, for example, is abundant in coal deposits from the Carboniferous period.

A superficially similar but entirely unrelated flowering plant genus, mare’s tail (Hippuris), is occasionally misidentified as “horsetail”.

It has been suggested that the pattern of spacing of nodes in horsetails, wherein those toward the apex of the shoot are increasingly close together, inspired John Napier to discover logarithms

In these plants the leaves are greatly reduced and usually non-photosynthetic. They contain a single, non-branching vascular trace, which is the defining feature of microphylls. However, it has recently been recognised that horsetail microphylls are probably not ancestral as in Lycopodiophyta (clubmosses and relatives), but rather derived adaptations, evolved by reduction of megaphylls.    They are, therefore, sometimes actually referred to as megaphylls to reflect this homology.

The leaves of horsetails are arranged in whorls fused into nodal sheaths. The stems are green and photosynthetic, and are distinctive in being hollow, jointed and ridged (with sometimes 3 but usually 6-40 ridges). There may or may not be whorls of branches at the nodes.

Spores:
The spores are borne under sporangiophores in strobili, cone-like structures at the tips of some of the stems. In many species the cone-bearing shoots are unbranched, and in some (e.g. field horsetail, E. arvense) they are non-photosynthetic, produced early in spring separately from photosynthetic, sterile shoots. In some other species (e.g. marsh horsetail, E. palustre) they are very similar to sterile shoots, photosynthetic and with whorls of branches.

Horsetails are mostly homosporous, though in the field horsetail smaller spores give rise to male prothalli. The spores have four elaters that act as moisture-sensitive springs, assisting spore dispersal after the sporangia have split open longitudinally.

Medicinal uses;

The astringent, healing stems check bleeding in wounds, nosebleeds, and heavy menstruation. A strong diuretic for urinary tract and prostate disorders, they also tonify the urinary mucous membranes, can control bed-wetting, and help with skin problems. The other main use is for deep-seated damage in lung disease. Horsetail absorbs gold dissolved in water better than most plants, as much as 4 ounces per ton of fresh stalks. The amount of gold in a cup of horsetail tea is quite small, but small amounts of gold are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and the Chinese used horsetail for this.

Ellingwood suggests the following uses: dropsy, lithaemia, haematuria, gonorrhoea, gleet, irritable bladder, enuresis in children, prostatis, and the ashes for acid dyspepsia. It is often combined with Hydrangea in the treatment of prostate troubles.

This is one of the silica-containing plant drugs where the silica is largely in a water-soluble colloidal form. It is primarily a connective tissue drug, but is also considered a diuretic, though this is true only within limits. The silica is not responsible for a certain diuretic effect, which clearly is not very great and is probably due to saponins. A search has been made for other constituents that might explain the diuretic effect. A close relative of the common horsetail, Equisetum palustre. Animal experiments designed to demonstrate the diuretic properties of the horsetail came up with widely differing results. Some investigators obtained completely negative results, others noted an increase in urinary output by up to 68% in rats, and called the horsetail one of the most powerful diuretics.. Reports on the use of this plant with normal subjects and patients are similarly contradictory. The diuretic effect does not appear to have been very great in this case. Horsetail has the advantage that no harmful effects have been reported.

A more important property of this plants is the general metabolic stimulation it achieves, above all increasing connective tissue resistance. As connective tissues are also involved in rheumatic conditions, this explains the usefulness of the drug in this field. In the use of this plant, emphasis should be placed not so much on the diuretic effect, as has been generally assumed so far, but the antidyscratic and humoral actions. The key indications are therefore more in the metabolic spehre. E.g. edema of the legs tdue to metabolic causes and in many cases of rheumatoid arthritis and arthrosis. Sitz baths with equisetum extract are indicated for functional pelvic disease in women where there is no inflammation such as adnexitis or parametritis, but primarily muscular tensions and changes in muscle tone in the small pelvis that are autonomous in origin.

The silica is relatively easily dissolved out of the herb by making a decoction, 2.0g of the dried herb boiled for three hours in 200ml of water. Extraction is even better if a little sugar is added. The resulting decoction contains 55.5mg of SiO2 and is remarkably stable. Silica greatly accelerates blood coagulation, and horsetail is our best silica drug.
In China, E. hyemale is used mainly to cool fevers and as a remedy for eye inflammations, such as conjunctivitis and corneal disorder
The plant has a long history of medicinal uses, although modern sources include cautions with regard to its use. The European Food Safety Authority issued a report assessing its medicinal uses in 2009. Equisetum telmateia may be a useful source of antioxidants

Known Hazards:Some species of horsetail can be poisonous to grazing animals, including horses. The toxicity appears to be due to thiaminase enzymes, which can cause thiamine deficiency. People have regularly consumed horsetails. The young plants are eaten cooked or raw, but considerable care must be taken. Horsetail is dangerous for individuals with edema. For example, the fertile stems bearing strobili of some species are cooked and eaten like asparagus (a dish called tsukushi) in Japan. The people of ancient Rome would eat meadow horsetail in a similar manner, but they also used it to make tea as well as a thickening powder. Indians of the North American Pacific Northwest eat the young shoots of this plant raw.[18] The plants are used as a dye and give a soft green colour. An extract is often used to provide silica for supplementation. Horsetail was often used by Indians to polish wooden tools. Equisetum species are often used to analyze gold concentrations in an area due to their ability to take up the metal when it is in a solution.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horsetail
http://www.bio.umass.edu/biology/conn.river/equisetm.html

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_FGH.htm

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Omega-3 Boosts Brain Function in Boys

The omega-3 fat DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) may alter the function of the brain associated with working memory, according to results of a new study with healthy boys.
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Scientists showed, for the first time using neuro-imaging, that supplementation with DHA alters the functional activity in cortical attention networks in humans.

The study follows hot on the heels of backing from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for DHA-related brain and eye health claims for infants. EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) said DHA levels of 100 mg of per day were appropriate for 7-24 month-old infants, along with 200 mg per day for pregnant and lactating women.

Additionally, supplements of omega-3 fats, vitamins and minerals for prisoners may reduce the number of violent and aggressive episodes, according to another recent study.

Nutritional supplements containing vitamins, minerals, omega-3 and omega-6 fats were associated with a 34 percent reduction in violent incidents, according to findings of a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial with over 200 young adult offenders.

Meanwhile, there was a 14 percent increase in the number of reported violent incidents in participants in a placebo group.

Resources:
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition February 3, 2010 [Epub ahead of print]
Aggressive Behavior March 2010; 36(2):117-26

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Try to Avoid 7 Foods Experts Won’t Eat

1. Canned Tomatoes.….. 
The expert: Fredrick vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A

The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Acidity — a prominent characteristic of tomatoes — causes BPA to leach into your food.

2. Corn-Fed Beef….

The expert: Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of books on sustainable farming

Cattle were designed to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. A recent comprehensive study found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

3. Microwave Popcorn….

The expert: Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group

Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize — and migrate into your popcorn.

4. Nonorganic Potatoes…

The expert: Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board

Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes they’re treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting.

5. Farmed Salmon..

The expert: David Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany

Nature didn’t intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT.

6. Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones….

The expert: Rick North, project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility

Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers.

7. Conventional Apples…

The expert: Mark Kastel, codirector of the Cornucopia Institute

If fall fruits held a “most doused in pesticides contest,” apples would win. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides with Parkinson’s disease.

Source: Yahoo Shine November 24, 2009

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Health Spreads Really do Lower Heart Risk

The makers of two leading brands of spreads have been cleared to carry on claiming their products can reduce cholesterol.
Benecol and Flora pro.activ contain plant ingredients which EU health watchdogs now agree can help lower the risk of coronary heart disease….click & see

It is Britain’s biggest killer, with 110,000 victims a year.

Some two in three adults in Britain have raised cholesterol, which leads to clogged arteries and is a factor in heart disease.
The vital ingredients work with the body by partially blocking the entry of cholesterol into the bloodstream. It is claimed they lower bad cholesterol, known as LDL, by up to 15 per cent when used every day as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Currently, millions of people rely on statin pills, prescribed by GPs, to reduce cholesterol. However, these can have side-effects, such as muscle pain.
Dietician and nutrition expert Helen Bond said: ‘People concerned about cholesterol need to have access to reliable, evidence based claims that will help them make wise food choices.

‘Dietary and lifestyle advice is always recommended as the first step for reducing cholesterol. Obesity, diabetes, raised cholesterol and a lack of physical activity are major risk factors for coronary heart disease.

‘This decision by the European Food Safety Authority will help people find the foods that will make a real difference.’
The manufacturers hailed the move to allow their so-called disease risk reduction claims as an important breakthrough.
Benecol products using the cholesterol reducing ingredients, called plant stanol esters, include drinks, yoghurts, spreads and cream cheese.
Benecol spokesman Esther van Onselen said: ‘Approval of the disease risk reduction claim is a really exciting step in helping consumers make an informed choice about which foods are proven to have a positive impact on their health.

‘There are more than 50 independent clinical studies which prove the cholesterol-lowering benefits of plant stanol esters.’
Flora pro.activ is made by Unilever, whose spokesman, Caroline Banquet, said: ‘We are delighted that the EU has now formally granted approval of our disease risk reduction claim.

‘Consumers can continue to be reassured that they can confidently trust our cholesterol-lowering health claims, in the knowledge that the science underpinning them has gone through rigorous and independent expert scrutiny.’
Unilever has carried out research into the cholesterol-lowering properties of plant ingredients since the 1980s. It first introduced Flora pro.activ spread in 2001, followed by yoghurt mini-drinks and milk drinks

Source:Mail Online, 23rd. Nov.’09

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