Almonds, as well as being high in vitamin E and other minerals, are also thought to have other health benefits, such as reducing cholesterol. Recently published work by the Institute of Food Research has identified potential prebiotic properties of almonds that could help improve our digestive health by increasing levels of beneficial gut bacteria.
Our digestive system maintains large population of bacteria that live in the colon. Prebiotics are non-digestible parts of foods that these bacteria can use to fuel their growth and activity. These ‘good’ bacteria form part of our body’s defense against harmful bacteria and play a role in the development of body’s immune system. The prebiotics work by stimulating the growth of these bacteria. However, in order to get to where they are needed prebiotics must be able to get through the upper part of the intestine without being digested or absorbed by the body.
Funded by the Almond Board of California, IFR scientists first used the Model Gut, a physical and biochemical simulator of the gastro-intestinal tract, to subject almonds to the same conditions experienced in the stomach and small intestine. They then added the digested almonds to an in vitro batch system to mimic the bacterial fermentation in the large intestine and monitored its effect on the populations of intestinal bacteria.
The study, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, found that finely ground almonds significantly increased the levels of certain beneficial gut bacteria. This effect was not seen when the fat content was removed from the almond preparation, suggesting that the beneficial bacteria use the almond lipid for growth, and this is the basis for the prebiotic effect of almonds.
Previous studies have shown that the amount of available lipid is reduced if the almonds are not processed, for example by grinding as in this study or by chewing. The length of time the almond spends in the digestive system also affects the amount of available lipids and proteins. More detailed studies on the digestibility of almonds are now required, and the prebiotic effect of almond lipids needs to be tested in human volunteers.
Health benefits of taking probiotics
Bacteria have a reputation for causing disease, so the idea of tossing down a few billion a day for your health might seem — literally and figuratively — hard to swallow. But a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that you can treat and even prevent some illnesses with foods and supplements containing certain kinds of live bacteria. Northern Europeans consume a lot of these beneficial microorganisms, called probiotics (from pro and biota, meaning “for life”), because of their tradition of eating foods fermented with bacteria, such as yogurt. Probiotic-laced beverages are also big business in Japan.
Enthusiasm for such foods has lagged in the United States, but interest in probiotic supplements is on the rise. Some digestive disease specialists are recommending them for disorders that frustrate conventional medicine, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Since the mid-1990s, clinical studies have established that probiotic therapy can help treat several gastrointestinal ills, delay the development of allergies in children, and treat and prevent vaginal and urinary infections in women.
Self-dosing with bacteria isn’t as outlandish as it might seem. An estimated 100 trillion microorganisms representing more than 500 different species inhabit every normal, healthy bowel. These microorganisms (or microflora) generally don’t make us sick; most are helpful. Gut-dwelling bacteria keep pathogens (harmful microorganisms) in check, aid digestion and nutrient absorption, and contribute to immune function.
The best case for probiotic therapy has been in the treatment of diarrhea. Controlled trials have shown that Lactobacillus GG can shorten the course of infectious diarrhea in infants and children (but not adults). Although studies are limited and data are inconsistent, two large reviews, taken together, suggest that probiotics reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea by 60%, when compared with a placebo.
Probiotic is a nondigestible supplement. a dietary supplement in the form onondigestible carbohydrate that fthe growth of desirablemicroflora in the large bowel.
Probiotic is a substance containing beneficial microorganisms: a substance containing live microorganisms that claims to be beneficial to humans and animals, e.g. by restoring the balance of microflora in the digestive tract.
Probiotic therapy may also help people with Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Clinical trial results are mixed, but several small studies suggest that certain probiotics may help maintain remission of ulcerative colitis and prevent relapse of Crohn’s disease and the recurrence of pouchitis (a complication of surgery to treat ulcerative colitis). Because these disorders are so frustrating to treat, many people are giving probiotics a try before all the evidence is in for the particular strains they’re using. More research is needed to find out which strains work best for what conditions.
Probiotics may also be of use in maintaining urogenital health. Like the intestinal tract, the vagina is a finely balanced ecosystem. The dominant Lactobacilli strains normally make it too acidic for harmful microorganisms to survive. But the system can be thrown out of balance by a number of factors, including antibiotics, spermicides, and birth control pills. Probiotic treatment that restores the balance of microflora may be helpful for such common female urogenital problems as bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, and urinary tract infection.
Many women eat yogurt or insert it into the vagina to treat recurring yeast infections, a “folk” remedy for which medical science offers limited support. Oral and vaginal administration of Lactobacilli may help in the treatment of bacterial vaginosis, although there isn’t enough evidence yet to recommend it over conventional approaches. (Vaginosis must be treated because it creates a risk for pregnancy-related complications and pelvic inflammatory disease.) Probiotic treatment of urinary tract infections is under study.
Probiotics are generally considered safe — they’re already present in a normal digestive system — although there’s a theoretical risk for people with impaired immune function. Be sure the ingredients are clearly marked on the label and familiar to you or your health provider. There’s no way to judge the safety of unidentified mixtures.
In the United States, most probiotics are sold as dietary supplements, which do not undergo the testing and approval process that drugs do. Manufacturers are responsible for making sure they’re safe before they’re marketed and that any claims made on the label are true. But there’s no guarantee that the types of bacteria listed on a label are effective for the condition you’re taking them for. Health benefits are strain-specific, and not all strains are necessarily useful, so you may want to consult a practitioner familiar with probiotics to discuss your options. As always, let your primary care provider know what you’re doing,
Killer Stairs? Taking The Elevator Could Be Worse For Your Body
For years, scientists have been proclaiming the benefits of exercise. Studies showing that regular exercise benefits human health have exploded in number, examining many health problems ranging from cancer and diabetes to arthritis and pre-mature death. Now, a University of Missouri researcher has found direct evidence to support the claim of the Centers for Disease Control that a reduction in daily physical activity is an actual cause of many of the risk factors for chronic diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The research team also found that it only takes about two weeks of reduced activity for individuals to start noticing the effects. “A low level of daily physical activity not only doesn’t help your current health status, it could be the reason you got sick in the first place,” said Frank Booth, professor of biomedical sciences in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. “Our study looked at what happened when a group of individuals reduced their daily physical activity. Our findings indicated that if there is a lack of normal physical activity, a person greatly increases the chances of developing a chronic disease. Previously, we thought that not exercising just wasn’t healthy, but we didn’t think that a lack of activity could cause disease. That assumption was wrong.”
Booth and researchers at the University of Copenhagen conducted two different studies in Copenhagen. In the first study, participants were asked to reduce the amount of steps they took per day from 6,000 to 1,400 for three weeks. instead of walking or taking the stairs, participants were instructed to use motorized transportation, such as a car or elevator, in every situation possible. The second study asked participants who were more active, averaging 10,000 steps per day, to reduce their activity to 1,400 steps per day for two weeks.
The number of steps the average American adult takes per day is 7,473, although Americans who are inactive typically take about 2,100 steps each day. At the end of each study, participants were administered a glucose tolerance test or a fat tolerance test, or both. These tests measure how fast the body is able to clear glucose or fat from the blood stream. The researchers found that after two weeks of no exercise and very little activity, participants had much higher levels of glucose and fat and took a much longer time to clear the substances from their blood streams than before. The longer it takes the body to clear the blood stream of the substances, the higher the likelihood that a person will develop diabetes or other chronic diseases.
“We used to think that it is healthy to be physically active, but this study shows that it is dangerous to be inactive for just a couple of weeks,” said Bente Klarlund Pedersen, coauthor and lead investigator of the study and professor of internal medicine and director of Centre of Inflammation and Metabolism at the University of Copenhagen. “After 14 days of reduced stepping, subjects experienced accumulation of the dangerous abdominal fat, while also developing elevated blood-lipids, a sign of -prediabetes and cardiovascular disease. If you choose the passive mode of transport and abstain from exercise, than your risk of chronic disease is likely to increase markedly.”
“When the doctor says to go and exercise, they are not just telling patients to do that to improve their health; increasing daily stepping could actually reverse a cause of chronic disease,” Booth said. “When extra fats and sugars (glucose) don’t clear the bloodstream, they go where we don’t want them and cause problems for our bodies’ typical metabolic functions.”
The researchers also found that the total skeletal and muscle mass in the body decreased when activity decreased. Booth says that longer studies are needed to help answer more questions about the detrimental effects of long-term physical inactivity.
The study is being published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) the week of March 18
Maintaining aerobic fitness through middle age and beyond can delay biological ageing by up to 12 years and prolong independence during old age, concludes an analysis published ahead of print in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Aerobic exercise, such as jogging, improves the body’s oxygen consumption and its use in generating energy (metabolism). But maximal aerobic power starts to fall steadily from middle age, decreasing by around 5 ml/[kg.min] every decade. When it falls below aound18 ml in men and 15 ml in women, it becomes difficult to do very much at all without severe fatigue. In a typical sedentary man, the maximal aerobic power will have fallen to around 25 mil/[kg.min] by the age of 60, almost half of what it was at the age of 20.
But the evidence shows that regular aerobic exercise can slow or reverse the inexorable decline, even in later life. Research shows that relatively high intensity aerobic exercise over a relatively long period boosted maximal aerobic power by 25%, equivalent to a gain of 6 ml/ [kg.min], or 10 to 12 biological years. “There seems good evidence that the conservation of maximal oxygen intake increases the likelihood that the healthy elderly person will retain functional independence,” says the author. The other positive spin-offs of aerobic exercise are reduced risks of serious disease, faster recovery after injury or illness, and reduced risks of falls because of the maintenance of muscle power, balance, and coordination.
What are Amino Acids and why we need them?
Amino Acids are the building blocks of the body. Besides building cells and repairing tissue they fare involved in our immune system to fight infections. They are also the building blocks of the proteins. When protein is broken down by digestion the result is 22 known amino acids.
As the building blocks of protein, amino acids are vital to our wellbeing. Next to water, amino acids in the form of proteins make up the greatest portion of our body weight. They comprise tendons, muscles and ligaments; organs and glands; hair and nails; important body fluids, and are necessary part of every cell in your body.
The amino acids are separated into two categories Essential and Nonessential. Essential amino acids are those that cannot be manufactured by our body, hence, it is essential that you obtain tem from your diet. Our body can manufacture non-essential amino acids, however, it must have the correct combination of essential amino acids and supporting nutrients to optimize healthy protein maintenance, so supplementation may be desirable. 20 amino acids are needed to build the various proteins used in growth, repair and maintenance of body tissue.
Dieters and anyone consuming an inadequate number of calories may not be consuming adequate amounts of amino acids. In these cases, the body will break down the protein in muscle tissue and use those amino acids to meet the needs of more important organs or will simply not build more muscle mass despite increasing exercise.
Unlike carbohydrates and fats the body does not store protein to any significant degree and, it must be consumed on a daily basis.Drinking more than one soft drink daily — whether it’s regular or diet — may be associated with an increase in the risk factors for heart disease, Framingham researchers reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
“We were struck by the fact that it didn’t matter whether it was a diet or regular soda that participants consumed, the association with increased risk was present,” said a senior author of the Framingham Heart Study. “In those who drink one or more soft drinks daily, there was an association of an increased risk of developing the metabolic syndrome.”
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk factors including excess waist circumference, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, low levels of highdensity lipoprotein (HDL “good” cholesterol) and high fasting glucose levels. The presence of three or more of the factors increases a person’s risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Prior studies linked soft drink consumption to multiple risk factors for heart disease. However, this study showed that association not only included drinking regular calorie-laden soft drinks, but artificially sweetened Make no mistake- It does not matter if the soda is regular or diet! diet sodas as well, researchers said.
The Framingham study included nearly 9,000 person observations made in middle-aged men and women over four years at three different times.
In a “snapshot in time” at baseline, the researchers found that individuals consuming one or more soft drinks a day had a 48 percent increased prevalence of the metabolic syndrome compared to those consuming less than one soft drink daily.
In a longitudinal study of participants who were free of metabolic syndrome at baseline (6,039 person observations), consumption of one or more soft drinks a day was associated with a 44 percent higher risk of developing new-onset metabolic syndrome during a follow-up period of four years.
Diet and regular soft drinks linked to increase in risk factors for heart disease.
The researchers also observed that compared to participants who drank less than one soft drink daily, those who drank one or more soft drinks a day had a:
- 31 percent greater risk of developing new-onset obesity (defined as a body mass index [BMI] of 30 kilograms/meter2 or more)
- 30 percent increased risk of developing increased waist circumference
- 25 percent increased risk of developing high blood triglycerides or high fasting blood glucose
- 32 percent higher risk of having low HDL levels
- A trend towards an increased risk of developing high blood pressure that was not statistically significant.
Researchers then analyzed a smaller sample of participants on whom data on regular and diet soft drink consumption was available from food frequency questionnaires. Participants who consumed one or more drinks of diet or regular soda per day had a 50 to 60 percent increased risk for developing new-onset metabolic syndrome. It didn’t matter whether it was a diet or regular soft drink.
Results also were not driven by the dietary pattern of soft drink users, i.e, by other food items that are typically consumed along with soft drinks,” The researchers adjusted the analyses for saturated fat and trans fat intake, dietary fiber consumption, total caloric intake, smoking and physical activity, and still observed a significant association of soft drink consumption and risk of developing the metabolic syndrome and multiple metabolic risk factors.”
There are number theories as to what is the cause for this observation. Future studies will be needed to identify the causal relationship between soda consumption and its associated health issues.
For a free brochure about the American Heart Association’s diet and nutrition recommendations called “Making Healthy Food and Lifestyle Choices: Our Guide for American Adults,” call 1-800-AHA-USA1.
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Moderate Exercise Yields Big Benefits
Moderately strenuous exercise, about 30 minutes a day, can lead to enormous benefits in terms of your mood, health, weight and the ability to live an independent and fulfilling life. The exercise doesn’t need to be athletic or difficult. Studies have shown that simply walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes or more on most days can lead to significant health improvements. Add simple strengthening exercises two or three times a week and the benefits are even greater. The January issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter lists some of the benefits of 30 minutes of exercise a day:
- Lower blood pressure: A reduction of 5 to 10 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) is possible. In some cases, that’s enough to prevent or reduce the need for blood pressure medications.
- Improve cholesterol: Exercise often increases the concentration of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good” cholesterol in the blood), especially when accompanied by weight loss. Exercise also helps reduce triglyceride levels.
- Prevent or manage type 2 diabetes: Exercise helps insulin work better, lowering blood sugar.
- Manage weight: Coupling exercise with a healthy diet is the best way to shed fat and maintain a healthier body composition.
- Prevent osteoporosis: Exercise may increase bone density and protect against bone mass decline, especially if weight-bearing activities are involved.
- Prevent cancer: Exercise has been shown to strengthen the immune system, improve circulation, reduce body fat and speed digestion. Each has a role in preventing cancer, particularly cancers of the colon, prostate, uterine lining and breast.
- Maintain mental wellbeing: Exercise may help reduce stress, improve mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety, improve sleep and boost moods.
- Increase energy and stamina: A lack of energy often results from inactivity, not age.
Moderate Exercise Can Improve Sleep Quality Of Insomnia Patients
An acute session of moderate aerobic exercise, but not heavy aerobic or moderate strength exercises, can reduce the anxiety state and improve the sleep quality of insomnia patients, according to a research abstract that will be presented on June 11 at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).
The study, authored by Giselle S. Passos, of Federal University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, focused on 36 patients (eight men and 28 women) with primary chronic insomnia, who were divided into three experimental groups (moderate aerobic exercise, heavy aerobic exercise, and moderate strength exercise) and a control group.
According to the results, after the exercise session, reductions were shown in sleep onset latency (54 percent) and wake time (36 percent) in the moderate aerobic exercise group, while increases were shown in total sleep time (21 percent) and in sleep efficiency (18 percent). A significant increase in the total sleep time (37 percent) and reduction in the sleep onset latency (40 percent) were observed in the sleep log of volunteers of the moderate aerobic exercise group. Finally, a significant reduction (seven percent) in the anxiety state was also observed after moderate aerobic exercise session.
“These findings indicate that there is a way to diminish the symptoms of insomnia without using medication,” said Passos. “This study is the first to look at the importance of using physical exercise to treat insomnia, and may contribute to increased quality of life in people with one of the most important kind of sleep disorders around the world.”
Insomnia is a classification of sleep disorders in which a person has trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early. It is the most commonly reported sleep disorder. About 30 percent of adults have symptoms of insomnia. It is more common among elderly people and women.
The above articles were from www.sciencedaily.com