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Sleep Habits Linked to Fat Gain in Younger Adults

James Hetfield.
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Researchers found that among adults younger than 40, those who typically slept for five hours or less each night had a greater accumulation of belly fat over the next five years.
……..CLICK & SEE
But those who logged eight hours or more in bed each night also showed a bigger fat gain, although it was less substantial than that seen in “short sleepers.”

On average, short sleepers showed a 32 percent gain in visceral fat, versus a 13 percent gain among those who slept six or seven hours per night, and a 22 percent increase among men and women who got at least eight hours of sleep each night.

A similar pattern was seen with superficial abdominal fat. Even when the researchers considered factors like calorie intake, exercise habits, education and smoking, sleep duration itself remained linked to abdominal-fat gain.

The study does not prove that too little or too much sleep directly leads to excess fat gain. But the findings support and extend those of other studies linking sleep duration — particularly a lack of sleep — to weight gain and even to higher risks of diabetes and heart disease.
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Reuters March 1, 2010
Sleep March 1, 2010 :

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Wine, Veg & Meat: Key to Long Life

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Want to know the perfect recipe for a long and healthy life? Drinking a goblet of red wine as well as eating adequate fruit, vegetablesand a small portion of red meat  everyday all add up to it, says a new study.
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Previous research has found that sticking to the diet can protect the brain against developing Alzheimer’s and other memory problems, cut the chances of developing heart disease and even reduce the risk of being diagnosed with cancer.

The latest study, which followed 23,000 people, found that those who adhered most closely to a typical Mediterranean diet were 14 per cent more likely to still be alive at tView Posthe end of eight years, ‘The Daily Telegraph‘ reported.

“The analysis suggests that the dominant components of the Mediterranean diet are moderate consumption of alcohol, mostly in the form of wine during meals, low consumption of meat and meat products, and high consumption of vegetables, fruits and nuts, olive oil and legume,” said lead researcher Dimitrios Trichopoulos of Harvard School of Public Health.

Drinking wine had the most benefit on life span the findings suggest, followed by reducing meat consumption and then eating high numbers of fruit, vegetables and nuts.

Source: The Times Of India

 
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Coffee Can Lower Stroke Risk for Women

Women who enjoy drinking coffee may be lowering their risk of suffering a stroke, a new study suggests.
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Women who drank five to seven cups of coffee a week were 12% less likely to have a stroke than were those who downed just one cup a month, the study among 83,000 American women revealed.

The survey was carried out over a 24-year period by Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and the findings published in the March issue of the journal Circulation.

According to the German experts on stroke prevention in Berlin, the benefit does not appear to come from caffeine. Those who drank tea and other caffeinated drinks did not experience the same reduction in stroke risk, said Martin Grond of the German Stroke Society.

It seems the positive health effects of coffee-drinking come from antioxidants in the beverage which lower inflammation and improve blood vessel function.

Taking into consideration factors such as cigarette and alcohol consumption, researchers found that healthy women who drank two to three cups of normal caffeinated coffee a day had, on average, a 19% lower risk for any kind of stroke than did women who drank less than one cup a month. Drinking four or more cups a day lowered the risk by 20%.

At the same time, the study confirmed that the beneficial effects of coffee only apply to otherwise healthy people. Those with complaints such insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure and cardiac complications should be aware that coffee consumption was likely to worsen their condition, said Grond.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Weighing the Value of Organic Foods

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Food produced without most conventional pesticides or fertilizers are perceived to be more healthful, but scientists have yet to offer proof.

With the recession breathing down our necks, many people are looking for ways to cut the household budget without seriously compromising family well-being. So here’s a suggestion: If you buy organic fruits and vegetables, consider switching to less pricey non-organic produce instead.

Hold the e-mails and hear me out: There really is no proof that organic food, which costs about a third more, is better than the conventionally grown stuff.

It may seem, intuitively, that crops grown without pesticides should be better for us and that food grown the old-fashioned way, by rotating crops and nurturing the soil naturally, would be superior to food that is mass-produced and chemically saturated.

Many people feel that way. Annual sales of organic food and beverages grew from $1 billion in 1990 to well over $20 billion in 2007, according to the Organic Trade Assn., an industry group.

But the truth is that, from a hard-nosed science point of view, it’s still unclear how much better — if at all — organic food is for one’s health than non-organically grown food.

“Organic” means food grown without most conventional pesticides or fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website (usda.gov). To carry the “organic” seal, a product must be certified as having been produced according to federal regulations. Small farmers are exempt.

Prepared food made with organic ingredients also tends to be processed more gently, with fewer chemical additives, said Charles Benbrook, an agricultural economist who is chief scientist at the Organic Center. The nonprofit research group is based in Boulder, Colo., and is supported by the organic food industry.

But the word “organic” has not been designated as an official health claim by the government. Such a designation is used only when there is evidence of significant health benefits — and so far, that evidence is lacking for organic food.

It’s clear, however, that conventionally grown food has remnants of pesticides on it. A 2002 study in the journal Food Additives and Contaminants showed that there were more pesticide residues on conventional than organically grown food, even after the food was washed and prepared. There’s also clear evidence that pesticides can enter the body in other ways, a major reason that Environmental Protection Agency regulations exist to keep farm workers from entering recently sprayed fields.

A study by Emory University researchers and others published in 2006 in Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed journal published by the National Institutes of Health, showed that when children were fed a conventional diet, their urine contained metabolic evidence of pesticide exposure, but that when they were switched to an organic diet, those signs of exposure disappeared.

All of which raises the question: How much harm do pesticides cause?

A number of studies suggest that, at high doses, organophosphate chemicals used in pesticides can cause acute poisoning and that even at somewhat lower doses, they may impair nervous system development in children and animals. But at the amounts allowed by the government in the American food supply? That’s where many nutritionists and environmental scientists seem to part company.

“We don’t have any good proof that there is any harm from fruits and vegetables grown with the pesticides currently used,” said Dr. George Blackburn, a nutritionist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and associate director of the Division of Nutrition at Harvard Medical School. The real issue is to get people to eat more fruits and vegetables, whether they’re grown conventionally or organically, he added.

“Keeping herbicide and pesticide levels as low as possible does make sense, although there is no clear evidence that these increase health risks at the levels consumed currently in the U.S.,” said Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

What is of concern, he said, is the meat industry’s increasing use of growth hormones in animals. (The “organic” label on beef means, among other things, that the cattle it came from were raised without antibiotics and hormones. Some non-organic beef is also raised without hormones or antibiotics, as noted on its label.)

Even if we don’t yet have all the evidence that organic produce might be desirable, Benbrook of the Organic Center said it’s time to change the notion that there’s nothing wrong with a little pesticide for breakfast. Over the last two years, he said, “nearly every issue of Environmental Health Perspectives has had at least one new research report” on how pesticides can harm a child’s neurological growth, particularly on brain architecture, learning ability and markers for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. While this falls short of incontrovertible proof that properly washed conventional produce can harm people, it does raise red flags, environmentalists say.

Weighing the value of organic foods also means looking at nutrition, not just the dangers of pesticides — and there is disagreement over whether organic food supplies more nutrients.

Researchers at UC Davis did a 10-year study, published last year, in which a particular strain of tomatoes was grown with pesticides on conventional soil right next to the same strain grown on soil that had been certified organic. All plants were subject to the same weather, irrigation and harvesting conditions.

The conclusion? Organic tomatoes had more vitamin C and health-promoting antioxidants, specifically flavonoids called quercetin and kaempferol — although researchers noted that year-to-year nutrient content can vary in both conventional and organic plants.

Other research has also shown nutritional advantages for organic food, according to the Organic Center, which reviewed 97 studies on comparative nutrition. Benbrook, the center’s chief scientist, says that although conventionally grown food tends to have more protein, organic food is about 25% higher in vitamin C and other antioxidants.

Yet a recent Danish study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture showed no vitamin and mineral advantage to organic food.

So, what to eat? ………… Side with the nutritionists who urge people to eat more fruits and vegetables, regardless of how they’re grown. Common sense, though not necessarily science, would seem to favor organics, if you can afford them. But if you want, split the difference — buy organic for fruits and vegetables that are thin-skinned or hard to wash or peel, and go conventional for those, such as bananas, that peel easily.

Sources: Los Angles Times

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Is Red Meat’s Bad Name Justified?

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The news for red meat seems to be getting worse and worse.

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In December, a survey of more than 494,000 people by the National Institutes of Health found that men who ate more than 5 ounces of red meat each day and women who ate more than 3 ounces had a 51% greater risk of esophageal cancer, 61% of liver cancer and 24% of colorectal cancer than those who ate less than an ounce of red meat daily

In October 2007, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, two charities that fund research on the effects of diet and activity on cancer risk, declared that the evidence linking red meat consumption and colorectal cancer was “convincing.”

And though previous reports for breast cancer have been contradictory overall, findings published in July from a Harvard study of more than 39,000 young nurses suggested that the risk of getting breast cancer before menopause goes up for every extra daily serving of red meat a woman ate as a teenager, a time period that had not been studied before.

Add the numerous studies linking red meat to other cancers, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease, and it sounds like the hamburger you had for lunch might as well have been laced with rat poison.

In fact, there is a place for red meat in a healthful diet, scientists say, but they recommend choosing smaller portions of lean cuts and cooking them well but not at high temperatures.

The question is which meat components are responsible for the observed health risks. Scientists have several theories, though none seems to tell the whole story.

Red meat can contain a lot of saturated fats and cholesterol, known contributors to cardiovascular disease. “We know that dementia is strongly related to vascular disease, so it’s likely we’ll find a relationship there as well,” says Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Contributing factors
Meat from commercially raised livestock also contains a high amount of omega-6 fats, which have been associated with poor cardiovascular health, but a low amount of omega-3 fats, which may be protective.

Another potential culprit is the iron in meat. Iron is essential for health, but iron from meat comes in a different form than that from vegetables and legumes, one that is absorbed whether the body needs it or not. “This type of iron can cause oxidative damage to all the components of the cell — the protein, lipid, DNA, RNA,” says Al Tappel, professor emeritus of food science at UC Davis.

Many of the studies that found an association between meat consumption and health risks did not differentiate between unprocessed meat, such as a steak, and processed or cured meats such as salami, bacon, pepperoni, bologna and hot dogs. Chemicals in processed meats may account for some of the cancer risk.

Finally, high-temperature cooking methods, such as grilling over charcoal, can cause the formation of known carcinogens such as heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs.

Mary Young, a registered dietitian from the Centennial, Colo.-based National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn., says that a study it commissioned on the science of red meat reached a very different conclusion (the study has not yet been published). “Red meat does not cause cancer,” she says. “Beef is really one of the most underappreciated nutrient-rich foods out there” — rich in protein and eight other nutrients, including B vitamins and zinc.

Some scientists, too, think that the risk of red meat has been overplayed. “The proof is not as strong as some people would like to think,” says Iowa State University animal science professor Don Beitz. “Cancer is such a multifactorial [problem]. I don’t see how one can just pin it on certain pollutants or nutrients.”

Rock-hard conclusions require carefully controlled, long-term, well-defined studies of many people. Each one of these requirements can be difficult to meet, so scientists rely heavily on epidemiological studies in which the normal habits of large numbers of people are tracked, often pooling the results of multiple studies.

But unlike lab rats, humans don’t live in a perfectly controlled environment, which makes it difficult to determine if it’s meat or something else in the diet or environment that leads to an observed cancer risk. Also, some studies ask people to recall what they ate years ago, and many studies don’t even define red meat the same way.

Even when a correlation between meat consumption and illness is found, the effect can be significant but small. In the December 2007 study, for example, high meat consumption resulted in only a 50% increased risk of developing esophageal cancer — by way of comparison, smoking can increase a person’s risk of developing lung cancer by 1,000% or more.

But to dismiss all risks because of inconsistencies in the research is unreasonable, Willett says. “That’s exactly the same argument used by cigarette manufacturers to say that smoking is not harmful. . . . The perfect study will never be done. The next best thing will be epidemiology.”

Scientists generally agree that lean red meat has a place in a healthful diet — in moderation. Studies showing increased cancer risks have mostly focused on high meat intake; the greatest risk increases are for those eating far more than the USDA-recommended limit of 18 ounces per week.

“One approach is to treat red and processed meat as a treat and not a regular staple,” said Dr. Michael J. Thun, vice president of epidemiology and surveillance research at the American Cancer Society

Moderation, it appears, is not the American way. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2006 the average American consumed 95 pounds of beef and 64 pounds of pork — about 7 ounces of red meat a day.

To sidestep some health concerns without giving up steak, some consumers have turned to grass-fed beef, which studies have shown to contain a heart-healthier ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.

Meanwhile, scientists are looking to make beef more healthful via selective breeding.

The amount of specific nutrients in steaks from two animals of the same breed can vary by a factor of two or three, Beitz says. He and others in a group of researchers known as the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium hope to find genetic markers for a host of nutrients, including omega-3 and other beneficial fats, zinc and vitamins B6 and B12. The research, sponsored by Pfizer Animal Science, would help animal breeders look at animals’ genetic profiles to select ones with the best nutritional composition.

“In a way, we’re trying to allow people to indulge themselves to a greater extent than to moderate,” said James Reecy, an Iowa State geneticist also involved in the project.

The same technique could be used to limit the unhealthy components of meat as well, such as specific saturated fats. Cattle breeders have already begun doing this, Reecy says.

Willett isn’t convinced that these efforts will eradicate the health risks that come from consuming red meat. “You may make it healthier in one way, but you’re unlikely to fix all the problems at the same time,” he says.

Click to see:->Red Meat Does and Doesnot

Sources:Los Angles Times

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