In order to make the e-newsletter more interactive and responsive to needs of our readers, we’re starting a new section called “Readers Want to Know.” The process is simple. Click on the link below and post your question(s). We’ll try to find a relevant article or a statement from someone in our community who has some expertise on the subject. Then you’ll see it in one of our e-newsletters. So scratch your heads a little, come up with a good question or two, and let’s go. Click here…
ISSUE 24 E-NEWSLETTER
The Agony of the Feet as You Get Older
U.S.News.com – by Stacey Colino, Contributor
While people often pay attention to how their feet look once sandal season comes around, they give their feet little TLC the rest of the year. Meanwhile, we pound our feet on the pavement or place three to four times our body weight on them when we jog. And we often subject our feet to tight or poorly fitting shoes or precarious heels. Given these stresses and strains, it’s a wonder the human foot – with its 26 bones, 33 joints and complex matrix of ligaments, tendons and muscles – doesn’t launch a full-scale rebellion.
But sometimes it does, especially as we get older. Indeed, a study in a 2016 issue of Maturitas found that foot pain affects 1 in 4 adults after age 45, and it’s at least somewhat disabling in two-thirds of those cases. Even worse, foot pain in older adults is associated with a 62 percent increased risk of recurrent falls, according to a study in a 2017 issue of Gerontology. “As we get older, our muscles and tendons lose elasticity, which can contribute to foot pain,” says Beth Gusenoff, a podiatric surgeon and clinical assistant professor in the department of plastic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
It’s important to make your foot health a priority, especially as you get older because “a healthy foot is a catalyst for mobility and a healthy lifestyle,” Gusenoff says. “Your feet really are your base of support.”
Here are six things you may not know about your aging feet – but should.
Obesity can increase your risk of suffering from foot pain. A study in a 2017 issue of the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice found that as people’s body mass index, or BMI, increases from the normal range to obesity, so do the odds that they will have foot pain as they get older; this is true for men and women. With excess weight on the body, “the foot can’t handle the mechanical load that’s being put on it,” Gusenoff says.
Unfortunately, the obesity issue can create a vicious cycle, whereby obesity increases the risk of foot pain, which makes people less likely to engage in weight-bearing physical activities, which can lead to more weight gain, and so on, notes Dr. Clifford Jeng, medical director of the Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. Consider this extra incentive to shed excess pounds. (source)
ISSUE 24 E-NEWSLETTER
Why You Feel Tired All the Time
Medical News Today – by Hannah Nichols
Do you often ask yourself, “Why am I so tired all the time?” If so, this article may be the perfect read for you; we have compiled a list of some of the most common reasons for tiredness and what you can do to bounce back into action.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 15.3 percent of women and 10.1 percent of men regularly feel very tired or exhausted in the United States.
Tiredness can cause an array of problems. For example, around 1 in 25 adult drivers report falling asleep at the wheel each month. About 72,000 crashes and 44,000 injuries each year are a result of drowsy driving, and that’s not to mention the estimated 6,000 fatal crashes caused by drowsy drivers.
Everyone feels tired at some point in their lives – whether it’s due to a late night out, staying up to watch your favorite TV show, or putting in some extra hours at work. Often, you can put your finger on the reason you’re not feeling your best, but what about those times when you can’t pinpoint the cause of your tiredness? What makes you feel tired then?
Medical News Today has researched the possible explanations for why you could be feeling so drained and the steps that you can take to feel re-energized.
1. Lack of sleep
A lack of sleep may seem an obvious reason for feeling tired, yet 1 in 3 U.S. adults are consistently not getting enough of it.
Tiredness increases the risk of accidents, obesity, high blood pressure, depression, and heart disease.
People aged between 18 and 60 years need 7 or more hours of sleep every day to promote optimal health, according to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.
Getting under the recommended hours of sleep each night is not only associated with fatigue, impaired performance, and a greater risk of accidents, but it also has adverse health outcomes. These include obesity, high blood pressure, depression, heart disease, stroke, and an increased risk of death. (source)
The Germs That Love Diet Soda
The New York Times – by Moises Velasquez Manoff
There are lots of reasons to avoid processed foods. They’re often packed with sugar, fat and salt, and they tend to lack certain nutrients critical to health, like fiber. And now, new research suggests that some of the additives that extend the shelf life and improve the texture of these foods may have unintended side effects – not on our bodies directly, but on the human microbiome, the trillions of bacteria living in our guts.
These substances may selectively feed the more dangerous members of our microbial communities, causing illness and even death.
Consider the rise in deadly cases of clostridium difficile, or C. diff, a terrible infection of the gut. The bacterium tends to strike just after you’ve taken antibiotics to treat something else. Those antibiotics kill your native microbes, allowing C. diff to move in. Nearly half a million people develop the infection yearly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and around 29,000 die, sometimes after long bouts of painful, bloody diarrhea. By one estimate, deaths linked to C. diff increased fivefold between 1999 and 2007.
One reason the bug has become more virulent is that it has evolved antibiotic resistance and is not as easily treatable. But some years ago, Robert Britton, a microbiologist at Baylor College of Medicine, discovered something else about C. diff: More virulent strains were out-competing less virulent strains in the gut. (source)
ISSUE 22 E-NEWSLETTER
Exercise Alters Our Microbiome. Is That One Reason It’s So Good For Us?
The New York Times - by Gretchen Reynolds
Exercise may change the composition and activity of the trillions of microbes in our guts in ways that could improve our health and metabolisms over time, a new study finds.
The results provide novel insights into how exercise can affect even those portions of our bodies that seem uninvolved in workouts, perhaps providing another nudge to stick with our exercise resolutions this year.
I think we all have heard by now that each of us contains a pulsating little universe of bacteria within our guts. This microbiome includes countless different species of microbes in varying proportions that interact, compete and busily release various substances that are implicated in weight control, inflammation, immune responses and many other aspects of health throughout our bodies. (source)
ISSUE 22 E-NEWSLETTER
How Stress Can Affect Your Blood Sugar Levels
by Dr. Mercola
Stress does not act as a singular force on your body but rather acts like a snowball rolling down a mountain, gradually building in size and speed until it’s virtually impossible to control. As stress builds in your body, it influences everything from your mood and brain function to your heart health and risk of both acute illness and chronic disease, including cancer.
When you become stressed your body also secretes cortisol and glucagon, both of which affect your blood sugar levels as well. On a metabolic level, when you’re stressed and your body enters “fight or flight” mode, glucose is released in order to give your muscles the energy needed to run and escape whatever is threatening you. In the modern day, there’s a good chance that threat is more mental than physical, however, which means you won’t need that extra energy after all.
The end result is that your body must produce more insulin to keep your blood sugar levels in check, and when you’re stressed out, your blood sugar levels will probably stay elevated much longer than they would otherwise, ultimately promoting weight gain and Type 2 diabetes. (source)
ISSUE 22 E-NEWSLETTER
The Tyranny of Convenience
The New York Times - by Tim Wu
Convenience is the most underestimated and least understood force in the world today. As a driver of human decisions, it may not offer the illicit thrill of Freud’s unconscious sexual desires or the mathematical elegance of the economist’s incentives. Convenience is boring. But boring is not the same thing as trivial.
In the developed nations of the 21st century, convenience – that is, more efficient and easier ways of doing personal tasks – has emerged as perhaps the most powerful force shaping our individual lives and our economies. This is particularly true in America, where, despite all the paeans to freedom and individuality, one sometimes wonders whether convenience is in fact the supreme value.
As Evan Williams, a co-founder of Twitter, recently put it, “Convenience decides everything.” Convenience seems to make our decisions for us, trumping what we like to imagine are our true preferences. (I prefer to brew my coffee, but Starbucks instant is so convenient I hardly ever do what I “prefer.”) Easy is better, easiest is best. (source)
ISSUE 21 E-NEWSLETTER
Fiber is Good for You. Now Scientists May Know Why.
The New York Times – by Carl Zimmer
A diet of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, reduces the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Indeed, the evidence for fiber’s benefits extends beyond any particular ailment: Eating more fiber seems to lower people’s mortality rate, whatever the cause.
That’s why experts are always saying how good dietary fiber is for us. But while the benefits are clear, it’s not so clear why fiber is so great. “It’s an easy question to ask and a hard one to really answer,” said Fredrik Bäckhed, a biologist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
He and other scientists are running experiments that are yielding some important new clues about fiber’s role in human health. Their research indicates that fiber doesn’t deliver many of its benefits directly to our bodies.
Instead, the fiber we eat feeds billions of bacteria in our guts. Keeping them happy means our intestines and immune systems remain in good working order.
In order to digest food, we need to bathe it in enzymes that break down its molecules. Those molecular fragments then pass through the gut wall and are absorbed in our intestines.
But our bodies make a limited range of enzymes, so that we cannot break down many of the tough compounds in plants. The term “dietary fiber” refers to those indigestible molecules.
But they are indigestible only to us. The gut is coated with a layer of mucus, atop which sits a carpet of hundreds of species of bacteria, part of the human microbiome. Some of these microbes carry the enzymes needed to break down various kinds of dietary fiber.
The ability of these bacteria to survive on fiber we can’t digest ourselves has led many experts to wonder if the microbes are somehow involved in the benefits of the fruits-and-vegetables diet. Two detailed studies published recently in the journal “Cell Host and Microbe” provide compelling evidence that the answer is yes. (Source)
ISSUE 21 E-NEWSLETTER
Trying the Feldenkrais Method for Chronic Pain
The New York Times – by Jane Brody
After two hour-long sessions focused first on body awareness and then on movement retraining at the Feldenkrais Institute of New York, I understood what it meant to experience an incredible lightness of being. Having, temporarily at least, released the muscle tension that aggravates my back and hip pain, I felt like I was walking on air.
I had long refrained from writing about this method of countering pain because I thought it was some sort of New Age gobbledygook with no scientific basis. Boy, was I wrong!
The Feldenkrais method is one of several increasingly popular movement techniques, similar to the Alexander technique, that attempt to better integrate the connections between mind and body. By becoming aware of how one’s body interacts with its surroundings and learning how to behave in less stressful ways, it becomes possible to relinquish habitual movement patterns that cause or contribute to chronic pain.
The method was developed by Moshe Feldenkrais, an Israeli physicist, mechanical engineer and expert in martial arts, after a knee injury threatened to leave him unable to walk. Relying on his expert knowledge of gravity and the mechanics of motion, he developed exercises to help teach the body easier, more efficient ways to move.
I went to the institute at the urging of Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, author of the recently published book Crooked that details the nature and results of virtually every current approach to treating back pain, a problem that has plagued me on and off (now mostly on) for decades. Having benefited from Feldenkrais lessons herself, Ms. Ramin had good reason to believe they would help me. (source)
ISSUE 20 E-NEWSLETTER
Up to 40 Percent Decrease of Nutrients in Our Food
-Generations of farming reliant on the use of chemicals has rendered American farm ground sterile and literally lifeless, unable to hold either nutrients or water, a problem the U.N. says is a grave threat to human health.
-Soil experts are realizing that bare ground between rows of crops increases not just topsoil erosion, but fertilizer and other chemical runoff into water supplies, while others are examining the implications of C02’s role in declining nutrition.
-Researchers have begun fighting harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, by spreading bacteria on crops as a way to prevent regular outbreaks of food poisoning from tomatoes grown on the East Coast.
-Three recent historical food composition data studies found that as much as 40 percent and even more of minerals in plant-based foods have been depleted by substandard soil.
Politico tells about a young generational farmer, Jonathan Cobb, who’d made the difficult decision to quit farming. Using increasing amounts of chemical herbicides and fertilizers, “planting row upon row of corn on 3,000 acres … was becoming rote and joyless.”1
While job hunting one day, he happened to stop at the local U.S. Department of Agriculture office in his Texas town to pick up paperwork. The staff there happened to be conducting a training session and doing a demonstration on healthy and unhealthy soils. The side-by-side comparison contrasted the startling difference:
“A clump of soil from a heavily tilled and cropped field was dropped into a wire mesh basket at the top of a glass cylinder filled with water. At the same time, a clump of soil from a pasture that grew a variety of plants and grasses and hadn’t been disturbed for years was dropped into another wire mesh basket in an identical glass cylinder.
The tilled soil – similar to the dry, brown soil on Cobb’s farm – dissolved in water like dust. The soil from the pasture stayed together in a clump, keeping its structure and soaking up the water like a sponge.”
Cobb realized he was seeing not just an exhibit on soil types, but the potential for a new farming philosophy and made the instant decision to stay on his farm “and be part of that paradigm shift.” Trending in agriculture today is a new viewpoint that may be turning from a push for productivity to one that emphasizes the environment and human health. (read more)