Wellness Article

ISSUE 27 E-NEWSLETTER
Can CBD Really Do That? 
How one molecule from the cannabis plant came to be seen as a therapeutic cure-all.
New York Times – by Moises Velasquez-Manoff

When Catherine Jacobson first heard about the promise of cannabis, she was at wits’ end. Her 3-year-old son, Ben, had suffered from epileptic seizures since he was 3 months old, a result of a brain malformation called polymicrogyria. Over the years, Jacobson and her husband, Aaron, have tried giving him at least 16 different drugs, but none provided lasting relief. They lived with the grim prognosis that their son – whose cognitive abilities never advanced beyond those of a 1-year-old – would likely continue to endure seizures until the cumulative brain injuries led to his death.

In early 2012, when Jacobson learned about cannabis at a conference organized by the Epilepsy Therapy Project, she felt a flicker of hope. The meeting, in downtown San Francisco, was unlike others she had attended, which were usually geared toward lab scientists and not directly focused on helping patients. This gathering aimed to get new treatments into patients’ hands as quickly as possible. Attendees weren’t just scientists and people from the pharmaceutical industry. They also included, on one day of the event, families of patients with epilepsy.

The tip came from a father named Jason David, with whom Jacobson began talking by chance outside a presentation hall. He wasn’t a presenter or even very interested in the goings-on at the conference. He had mostly lost faith in conventional medicine during his own family’s ordeal. But he claimed to have successfully treated his son’s seizures with a cannabis extract, and now he was trying to spread the word to anyone who would listen. (full story)

Wellness Article

ISSUE 27 E-NEWSLETTER
Taking Care of Yourself When You Become the Caregiver
SparkPeople – by Ellen G. Goldman, Health and Wellness Coach

As I sat across the cafe table from my dearest friend, Margie, I was struck by how tired and drawn she looked. This was the first time we had seen in each other in months. Before, we had made a point to meet for lunch or coffee once a week. Now that she had moved her folks close by to help with her father’s care after his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, there never seemed to be time.

I listened quietly as she shared what life was like for her these days. After putting in a full day of work as a teacher, many afternoons she drove 25 minutes to the assisted-living facility to handle the day’s crisis or just to give her mother a break. Margie feared her mother was showing signs of being clinically depressed, so she planned to accompany her to a psychological evaluation on Saturday.

Admitting to her intense feelings of anger-at the situation, at her sister who lived on the other side of the country, at her husband who couldn’t understand when she felt too tired to go out on a Saturday night-she felt guilty for feeling angry. Having abandoned her own exercise program, she now had flare-ups of chronic back pain from lifting and moving her dad when he refused to do it himself. I could see her disappointment in the many pounds that she had gained, after working so hard the year before to lose them.

Margie is certainly not alone in experiencing the burden and stress of the caregiver role. I reflected back on my own experience caring for my folks the year my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and my mother fell, breaking her arm, while visiting him in the hospital. That was a long, hard winter for my siblings and me, as we traveled back and forth to Florida to help them set up the ongoing care they would need when we were not around. (full story)

Wellness Article

ISSUE 27 E-NEWSLETTER
6 Ways to Maintain Your Brain Health -  
How your lifestyle affects your most powerful organ
Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic

Your brain’s health is easy to take for granted. But brain-healthy behaviors should begin
in childhood and continue throughout your entire life.

Brain health activities increase your “brain reserve” and reduce the risk for many diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and the effects of traumatic brain injury. Learn more about the “6 Pillars” which have been identified as key to maintaining brain health and creating a brain span that matches our lifespan. (full story)

Wellness Article

ISSUE 26 E-NEWSLETTER
Eating ‘Ultraprocessed’ Foods Linked with Early Death
Live Science – by Rachael Rettner, Senior Writer

They may be tasty, but so-called ultraprocessed foods are not what the doctor ordered. Yet, these foods – which are high in salt, sugar and other additives – are an increasingly large part of people’s diets. And now, a new study from France suggests that ultraprocessed foods may increase the risk of early death.

The research showed that increased consumption of ultraprocessed foods was associated with a higher risk of death over a 7-year period. The subjects must provide health measurements at the outset, learn the proper poses, continue to do them regularly for years and be regularly evaluated.

It’s important to note that the study found only an association and does not prove that ultraprocessed food consumption causes premature death. But the researchers hypothesized that these foods could contribute to a shorter life span in a number of ways – for example, by increasing a person’s risk of heart disease, cancer and other diseases. [7 Tips for Moving Toward a More Plant-Based Diet]

“Ultraprocessed foods consumption has largely increased during the past several decades and may drive a growing burden of noncommunicable disease deaths,” the authors wrote in their study, which was published online yesterday (Feb. 11) in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. (“Noncommunicable” diseases are those that aren’t infectious and can’t be spread from person to person.)

Ultraprocessed
Acording to the study, ultraprocessed foods are those that “contain multiple ingredients and are manufactured through a multitude of industrial processes.” Besides sugar, salt, fat and oil, these foods include additives such as flavors, colors, sweeteners and emulsifiers. (full story)

Wellness Article

ISSUE 26 E-NEWSLETTER
How Genetics Are Partly to Blame for Your Food Cravings
Certain genetic markers can influence your preferences for sweet vs. salty, but you can’t blame them entirely for poor eating habits. Life – by Erica Sweeney

Growing up, my sister liked to eat the salt that gathers at the bottom of bags of pretzels. She still craves salty foods, and so does her 3-year-old son. On the other hand, I’ve had a lifelong sweet tooth, like our dad.

My family’s sweet and salty food cravings raise a curious question: Could genetics play a role in our flavor preferences? A growing body of research suggests a possible link.

Nanette Steinle, a University of Maryland School of Medicine associate professor of medicine and endocrinology and the diabetes section chief at the Maryland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, has studied the relationship of genetics with taste preferences and food choices.

“There are specific receptors that regulate salt taste versus sugar taste,” she said. “There aren’t large, robust studies looking at this question, but for those that are available, we do suspect that there could be a genetic component for preferences for salt, bitter, sweet.”

Steinle co-authored Genetics of Eating Behavior: Established and Emerging Concepts, a 2011 study that examined the role of genetics and the five taste profiles: sweet, bitter, salty, sour and umami. It identified some genes that can influence preferences for sweet and umami and others linked to bitter taste receptors. There are also proteins that regulate salt and water absorption in the body and are connected to salt preferences, she said.

Many researchers believe that along with taste receptors, many factors affected by genetics – including body mass index, metabolism, the brain’s reward center and the hormones involved in feeling hunger and satiety – influence food cravings. Health and nutrition experts caution, however, that genetically influenced preferences shouldn’t be viewed as excuses for poor eating habits. (full story)

Wellness Article

ISSUE 25 E-NEWSLETTER
Even a Little Weight Training May Cut the Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke - The New York Times – by Gretchen Reynolds
Despite the muscle-building, flab-trimming and, according to recent research, mood-boosting benefits of lifting weights, such resistance exercise has generally been thought not to contribute much to heart health, as endurance workouts like jogging and cycling do. But a study published in October in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise provides evidence for the first time that even a little weight training might reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. People appear to gain this benefit whether or not they also engage in frequent aerobic exercise.

The study drew from an invaluable cache of health data gathered at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, where thousands of men and women have been undergoing annual checkups, which include filling out detailed questionnaires about their exercise habits and medical history. More than 12,500 records were anonymized for men and women, most of them middle-aged, who had visited the clinic at least twice between 1987 and 2006. The subjects were categorized according to their reported resistance exercise routines, ranging from those who never lifted to those who completed one, two, three or more weekly sessions (or whether they lifted for more or less than an hour each week). Another category was aerobic exercise and whether subjects met the standard recommendation of 150 minutes per week of brisk workouts. This exercise data was then crosschecked against heart attacks, strokes and deaths during the 11 years or so after each participant’s last clinic visit.

The findings were dramatic: The risk of experiencing these events was roughly 50 percent lower for those who lifted weights occasionally, compared with those who never did – even when they were not doing the recommended endurance exercise. People who lifted twice a week, for about an hour or so in total, had the greatest declines in risk. (Interestingly, the subjects who reported weight training four or more times per week did not show any significant health benefits compared with those who never lifted, although the researchers believe this finding is probably a statistical anomaly.)

“The good news,” says Duck-chul Lee, an associate professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University and co-author of the study, “is that we found substantial heart benefits associated with a very small amount of resistance exercise.” (full story)

Wellness Article

ISSUE 25 E-NEWSLETTER
“Readers want to know” article – KH
12 Minutes of Yoga for Bone Health
The New York Times - by Jane E. Brody
Yoga enthusiasts link the practice to a long list of health benefits, including greater flexibility and range of motion, stronger muscles, better posture and balance, reduced emotional and physical stress, and increased self-awareness and self-esteem.

But definitively proving these benefits is challenging, requiring years of costly research. A pharmaceutical company is unlikely to fund a study that doesn’t involve a drug, and in any event, the research requires a large group of volunteers tracked over a very long time.

The subjects must provide health measurements at the outset, learn the proper poses, continue to do them regularly for years and be regularly evaluated. No one knows these challenges better than Dr. Loren M. Fishman, a physicist at Columbia University who specializes in rehabilitative medicine. For years, he has been gathering evidence on yoga and bone health, hoping to determine whether yoga might be an effective therapy for osteoporosis.

The idea is not widely accepted in the medical community, but then, researchers know comparatively little about complementary medicine in general. So in 2005, Dr. Fishman began a small pilot study of yoga moves that turned up some encouraging results. Eleven practitioners had increased bone density in their spine and hips, he reported in 2009, compared with seven controls who did not practice yoga. (full story)

Wellness Article

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)

Wellness Article

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)

Wellness Article

ISSUE 23-ENEWSLETTER
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)