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Health & Wellness Insight Alert Archive

Have a look at some of our recent alerts. These give broad coverage of the industry - if you want something more specific create your own here.

<<567891011121314>> Total issues:151

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July 01, 2013, to July 15, 2013

Genes That Regulate Heart Health Are Severely Impacted By Cigarette Smoke

Researchers who looked at why mainstream and sidestream smoke increases the risk of heart disease among obese people have found a genetic answer. Sidestream smoke – from the burning end of a cigarette, cigar, etc. – inhibits the activity of genes that protect the heart and lungs, and activates genes associated with an increased risk of heart disease. The U.S. study in mice is the first to examine how the heart responds to cigarette smoke in the context of a high-fat diet and obesity, and provides a first step toward finding a molecular basis for the damage to the heart and lungs caused by tobacco smoke inhalation.

Artificially-Sweetened Drinks Can Be Harmful To Health, Too

Dieting Americans who are aware of the adverse health effects of sugar-sweetened beverages often turn to low- or no-cal sweeteners as the more healthy choice. But recent studies in humans have shown that artificial sweeteners are also associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. One 12-ounce serving of an artificially-sweetened drink is enough to boost the risk of health problems. According to opinion article author Susan Swithers of Purdue University, “the current public health message to limit the intake of sugars needs to be expanded to limit intake of all sweeteners, not just sugars."

Vitamin D Is Essential To Maintain Calcium Levels, Reduce Bone Fracture Risk

The bone-aging process common among older adults speeds up when there is a deficiency of vitamin D in the blood, a new U.S. study finds. Vitamin D is required by the body to absorb calcium, which is needed to maintain bone health. Normally, the body synthesizes vitamin D in the skin following exposure to sunlight. But when vitamin D serum concentrations drop, the body starts removing calcium from bone to maintain normal calcium blood levels. That hampers the mineralization process required for the formation of new bone. The researchers suggest that physicians check vitamin D levels regularly and make sure they are at well-balanced levels to lower the risk of fractures as people age.

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June 15, 2013, to July 01, 2013

Labeling Food As “Low Fat” Is A Powerful Inducement For Consumers

In a study involving 175 female college students, researchers at the University of Hawaii found that the label “low fat” on candy (M&M's) conveyed an impression that the food was not only healthier but better tasting than regular M&M's. (All of the M&M's in the study were regular versions.) They also found that participants significantly underestimated the caloric content of candy labeled as low fat. Those who did not know the calorie content underestimated the calories of supposedly low fat M&M's by an average of 71 calories, and  overestimated the caloric value of regular M&M's by an average of 38 calories. “The study findings may be related to the ‘health halo’ associated with low fat foods,” the researchers concluded.

Food Addiction Associated With Consumption Of Highly-Processed Carbohydrates

There is a definite connection between food intake and the dopamine-containing pleasure centers of the brain, according to a new brain imaging study that supports the idea of food addiction. U.S. researchers measured blood glucose levels and hunger in 12 overweight or obese men, while also using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to observe brain activity during the four hours after a meal. That crucial time period influences eating behavior at the next meal. They found that consumption of highly-processed carbohydrates causes blood sugar levels to rise quickly, then drop sharply soon after, sparking food cravings. The drop in blood sugar was associated with intense activation of a critical brain region involved in addictive behaviors.

Cocoa Reduces Obesity-Related Inflammation

A study by Penn State researchers has found that obese mice fed cocoa along with a high-fat diet experienced less obesity-related inflammation than mice not fed cocoa. The mice were fed the human equivalent of 10 tablespoons of cocoa (about four cups of hot cocoa) each day for 10 weeks. The cocoa-fed mice had about 27 percent lower plasma insulin levels, an indicator of diabetes. The cocoa-fed mice also had 32 percent lower levels of liver triglycerides, an indicator of fatty liver disease, inflammation and diabetes.

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June 01, 2013, to June 15, 2013

Study Finds No Reason To Worry About Consuming Vegetable Oils

A new U.S. study debunks claims that daily intake of linoleic acid-rich vegetable oils – e.g., soy, corn and canola – might be harmful to a person’s health. The researchers reviewed 15 clinical trials that studied nearly 500 adults as they consumed various forms of fats, including vegetable oils. They found no link between vegetable oil consumption and indicators of inflammation in the blood that are often associated with heart disease, cancer, asthma and arthritis. Earlier animal studies had found that a diet rich in linoleic acid (LA) boosts inflammation, but humans do not respond to LA in the same way.

Study Finds Link Between Vegetarian Diet And Lower Death Rates

Many studies have associated vegetarian diets with a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and heart disease. Now a new U.S. study based on data collected from more than 70,000 Seventh Day Adventists has found a link between vegetarian diets and lower mortality rates. The researchers acknowledged that vegetarian groups tend to be older, better educated, and more likely to be married, to drink less alcohol, to smoke less, to exercise more and to be thinner.

Eating Cheese May Be A Good Way To Prevent Cavities In Children, Adolescents

A U.S. study conducted among 68 children ages 12 to 15 finds that eating cheese significantly lowers the risk of dental cavities by lowering the acidic environment in the mouth. The researchers looked at the dental plaque pH in the children’s mouths both before and after eating cheese, milk and sugar-free yogurt. A pH value lower than 5.5. (acidic) puts the teeth at risk for cavities, while a high pH lowers the risk. Drinking milk and eating yogurt had no effect on pH values, but eating cheese rapidly raised pH levels, suggesting that cheese has anti-cavity properties.

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May 15, 2013, to June 01, 2013

Modifying Tomatoes With Anthocyanins Produces Fruit Less Susceptible To Softening, Rot

British researchers have modified purple tomatoes with the natural pigment anthocyanin, resulting in a doubling of the shelf life of the popular fruit from an average of 21 days to 48 days while maintaining flavor. The new variety of tomatoes solves a serious problem for growers and grocers: post-harvest losses due to rotting. Current methods of preventing rot – e.g., picking the fruits when green then ripening them using ethylene gas – result in loss of flavor. The researchers found that anthocyanins not only retards the over-ripening process that leads to rotting and softening, it retains flavor and makes them less susceptible to gray mold caused by the fungus Botrytis cinerea.

Cinnamon Compounds Prevent Neuron Abnormalities That Lead To Alzheimer’s Disease

Two compounds found in the common aromatic spice cinnamon seem to prevent the development of the filamentous plaque found in the brain cells that characterize Alzheimer’s disease, according to new U.S. research. The protein tau plays a large role in the structure of the neurons: it is responsible for the assembly of microtubules in a cell. In Alzheimer’s, however, tau starts clumping together, forming insoluble fibers in neurons. The compound cinnamaldehyde prevents the tau knots. Epicatechin, a powerful antioxidant found in cinnamon, interacts with cysteines on the tau protein in a way similar to the protective action of cinnamaldehyde.

Australian Company To Provide Certification Process For GMO-Free Products

A food product certification/accreditation company in Australia has established a subsidiary that will focus solely on guaranteeing that foods are genetically modified organism-free (GMO-free). GMO-ID, a unit of HACCP International Pty Ltd, will use the “Cert ID Non GMO” (Cert ID) certification system in Australia and the Pacific region. Farmers, growers, manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and foodservice businesses will be able to use the Cert ID system for certification; they will also be listed on the GMO-ID Web site. The creation of a GMO-free certification system reflects the growing demand for assurances that foods – particularly dairy products – and drinks are not tainted by genetically engineered ingredients.

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May 01, 2013, to May 15, 2013

Intense Interval Training Works Wonders On The Body – In Seven Minutes

An article by Canadian researchers in a health fitness journal describes an intense – but very short, fairly easy and scientifically sound – exercise program that produces beneficial molecular changes in muscles comparable to those induced by hours of running or biking. The 12 familiar exercises – pushups, lunges, jumping jacks, squats, etc. – are performed in intervals: 30 seconds of intense exercise followed by a 10-second rest, followed by 30 seconds of exercise, and so on. Exercises alternately target upper body and lower body muscles, allowing worked muscles to recuperate. “The upside is, after seven minutes, you’re done,” says New York Times blogger Gretchen Reynolds.

Scientists Confirm Heart-Healthy Benefits Of Walnuts

Scientists have known for some time that eating walnuts in a heart-healthy diet reduces cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. Now a new U.S. study explains what component of walnuts is responsible. For the study, 15 participants with high cholesterol levels were fed one serving of whole walnuts, defatted nutmeat, walnut skin or walnut oil. Biochemical and physiological tests were conducted before, during and after. The one-time consumption of walnut oil improved vascular health. Eating whole walnuts helped HDL (good cholesterol) and helped the body effectively transport and remove excess cholesterol from the body. The researchers suggested that the beneficial effects come from the alpha-linolenic acid, gamma-tocopherol and phytosterols in walnut oil.

A Simple Formula: Walk 5,000 Steps A Day, Save 20 Percent On Health Insurance

A fitness program that tied participation to health insurance premium discounts got people off their duffs and walking, according to a U.S. study. More than 6,500 obese people insured by Blue Care Network in Michigan were offered a choice: pay 20 percent more for their insurance or participate in a computerized pedometer-based wellness program that involved walking 5,000 steps a day (about 1.2 miles) in a three-month period. After a year, 97 percent of the enrollees met or exceeded the average goal, even those – about a third of participants – who felt the program was “coercive”.

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April 15, 2013, to May 01, 2013

Type 2 Diabetes Risk Up By 22 Percent From Drinking One Sugary Drink A Day

British researchers who analyzed data from nearly 29,000 European participants in a cancer and nutrition study – about 12,000 of whom had type 2 diabetes – found that drinking one 12-ounce sugar-sweetened beverage a day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 22 percent. The risk dropped to 18 percent when total energy intake and body mass index were taken into account. The increased risk of diabetes from sugary drinks in Europe is similar to that found in a meta-analysis of studies conducted mostly in North America that found a 25 percent increased risk. Little or no association with diabetes risk was found among drinkers of artificially sweetened drinks or pure fruit juice and nectar (diluted fruit juice) drinks.

Vitamin E Relieves Symptoms Of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

An accidental discovery in mice by researchers at Case Western Reserve University finds that the essential nutrient vitamin E can alleviate symptoms of liver disease brought on by obesity. The researchers were originally studying the effect of vitamin E deficiency on the central nervous system, using liver tissue to practice surgical techniques. They were surprised to find that the mice were in the advanced stages of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and were deficient in vitamin E. Supplementation with vitamin E averted most of the disease symptoms, confirming the relationship between vitamin E deficiency and liver disease.

Three Studies Provide Evidence That Tree Nuts Are A Very Healthy Addition To The Diet

Researchers recently presented three studies associating tree nuts with a better nutrient profile, better diet quality, lower body weight, lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome, and a decrease in cardiovascular risk factors. Nuts included in the studies were almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. One study involving 803 adults found that eating one ounce (one serving) of tree nuts weekly was associated with a seven percent lower risk of metabolic syndrome. Another study showed that nut consumption was associated with a decrease in total cholesterol, LDL or "bad" cholesterol, blood pressure, and coronary heart disease risk.

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April 01, 2013, to April 15, 2013

White Muscle In Diabetics Is Not Harmful, But In Fact A Sign Of Sugar Control

Researchers in the U.S. confirm that white muscle that increases with weight lifting, age, and diabetes is not harmful as once thought, but actually helps keep sugar in check. Mammals have a range of muscles: red, white and in between. White muscle is more prevalent in weight lifters and sprinters, who need short, intense bursts of energy. In mouse research, the scientists determined that a protein called BAF60c acts as a sort of "zip code" mechanism that tells the cells when and how to express certain genes, including genes for white muscle. Obese mice with BAF60c – and more white muscle – were found to be much better at controlling blood glucose, a key problem in diabetes.

As Long As Energy Expenditure Is Comparable, Running And Walking Are Just As Beneficial

U.S. researchers who looked at self-reported energy use data from 33,060 runners and 15,045 brisk walkers discovered that if the same energy was used in their activity, runners and walkers experienced the same health benefits. The study found basically that the more runners ran and walkers walked, the more health benefits – lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, reduced risk of diabetes – accrued. Among the interesting statistics gathered through questionnaires: running reduced first time coronary heart disease 4.5 percent, while brisk walking reduced it by 9.3 percent. Similar results were found for hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol levels.

Why Is Congress Protecting Big (Genetic Engineering) Business, Ignoring Consumer Concerns?

Despite the fact that transgenic (or genetic) engineering in agriculture has proven disappointing, writes N.Y. Times blogger Mark Bittman, big corporations like Monsanto have gotten Congress to protect the use of the technology – most recently in the funding bill that President Obama signed. A “disgraceful” rider in the huge piece of legislation bars the USDA from stopping production of any GE crop once it’s been planted, even if evidence suggests it could be harmful. With so many questions about the usefulness and potential dangers of GE in farming, Bittman wonders, why is Congress protecting big corporations instead of the public interest?

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March 15, 2013, to April 01, 2013

Compound Derived From Cod Inhibits The Spread Of Cancer In Lab Study

Following the trend of researching natural dietary products that could have anti-tumor potential, a U.S. study in lab animals has found that a peptide (protein) found in Pacific cod seems to inhibit the metastasis of prostate cancer. Polar fish, such as northern cod, express glycoproteins rich in an antigen that protects them from freezing. Using a special form of the antigen purified from Pacific cod, the researchers observed that it  prevents cancer cells from attaching to vessel walls – inhibiting spreading – and suppresses T-cell death, boosting the immune response. They said an understanding of how the antigens work could lead to development of foods that act as cancer therapeutics and agents for immunotherapy.

Genetically Engineered Tomatoes Produce A Compound That Reduces Harmful Inflammation

U.S. scientists have genetically engineered tomatoes to produce a compound that provides the same health benefits as high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good cholesterol”. The engineered tomatoes produce 6F, a small peptide that mimics the action of apoA-1, the chief protein in HDL. Mice in the study lacked the ability to remove low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad" cholesterol) from their blood and ate a high-fat “Western-style” diet. Those that ate the peptide-enhanced tomatoes had significantly lower levels of inflammation; those not fed the tomatoes developed inflammation and atherosclerosis. The researchers said human consumption of genetically modified foods containing apoA-1-related peptides could someday help improve chronic conditions associated with harmful inflammation.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods Can Reduce The Risk Of Chronic Disease

A University of Alabama professor of personal health says the body’s natural response to injury – inflammation – is a good thing until it becomes chronic and out of control. That’s when it can lead to all sorts of health problems, including cardiovascular disease. Lauren Whitt says inflammation caused by obesity can be controlled through weight loss and eating the right kinds of foods. Among the anti-inflammatory foods she recommends: citrus fruits high in antioxidant vitamins C and E; dark, leafy greens high in vitamin K; tomatoes rich in the potent antioxidant lycopene; and wild-caught salmon, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. She also advised eating more foods straight from the farm and fewer processed and fried foods.

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March 01, 2013, to March 15, 2013

Wrigley’s Enters Energy-Boost Market With Caffeinated Chewing Gum

With demand for chewing gum on the decline, and interest in energy-boosting foods and drinks on the rise, Wrigley’s, maker of the Juice Fruit and Doublemint gum brands, is introducing a new product packed with caffeine. Alert Energy Caffeine Gum will begin hitting shelves in convenience stores, supermarkets and mass retailers in April, even as concern grows among consumer groups and regulators about the safety of energy products, especially among teenagers. Wrigley says its target market for the caffeinated gum is consumers aged 25 and older, and its marketing plan will avoid associating it with other brands in its product line better known among kids and teens.

Sports Nutrition Emerges As Major Growth Category In Retail Food

Sports nutrition has emerged from the shadows of bodybuilding, steroids, banned substances, etc., into mainstream retail, according to researcher Euromonitor. The impact of this transformation on the category has been significant – growth is expected to approach 40 percent by 2017. Producers are developing products that appeal to non-traditional users with worry-free formulations, third-party certifications of safety and purity, convenient formats, emphasis on general fitness, and greater accessibility in supermarkets and other retail channels. Retailers have embraced sports nutrition by creating their own brands. Key example: Walgreen, whose larger stores now feature separate sports nutrition sections in the supplement aisles, offering for example two separate lines of protein powders, one of which is a store brand.

Short Bursts Of Exercise Have A Positive Impact On Higher Brain Functions

A Dutch meta-analysis of 24 studies on the impact of exercise on memory and other higher brain functions found that brief spurts of intense exercise positively affect self control among children through adults aged 35. Nineteen of the studies involving 586 participants analyzed the impact of short bursts of exercise, while five studies with 358 participants looked at the ieffect of  regular exercise. Regular exercise didn't have the same effect on higher brain functions, but the researchers acknowledged there were too few of them and the results were too inconsistent  to lead to firm conclusions. The higher brain functions include memory, concentration, planning, and decision-making.

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February 15, 2013, to March 01, 2013

Mediterranean Diet Supplemented With Nuts, Olive Oil, Reduces Risk Of Cardiovascular Death

The Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts reduces the risk of a heart, attack, stroke or heart-related death, according to a long-term U.S. clinical study involving 7,447 people in Spain. After five years, scientists proved that participants who followed either of two types of Mediterranean diet – supplemented with either nuts or with olive oil – showed a substantial reduction in risk of suffering a cardiovascular event. The findings prove that a high-vegetable fat diet is healthier at a cardiovascular level than a low-fat diet. The diet is characterized by a high intake of olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables, and cereals; a moderate intake of fish and poultry; a low intake of dairy products, red meat, processed meats, and sweets; and wine in moderation, consumed with meals.

Study Determines Why Aspirin, Omega-3s Do A Body Good

U.S. researchers have figured out how low-dose aspirin and omega-3 fatty acids confer so many anti-inflammatory health benefits. Aspirin, they found, triggers the production of molecules called resolvins that are manufactured naturally by the body from omega-3 fatty acids. The resolvins – especially resolvin D3 – shut off the inflammation that is linked to destructive conditions like inflammatory lung disease, heart disease and arthritis. The researchers hope that investigators will now be able to study the pro-resolving and anti-inflammatory actions of resolvin D3 in other systems and eventually be able to tell which inflammation-associated diseases might be treated with D3.

Report Finds Widespread Mislabeling Of Fish In Markets, Restaurants, Sushi Bars

Nonprofit ocean protection group Oceana reports that about a third of 1,215 fish samples purchased in the U.S. between 2012 and 2012 were mislabeled, in apparent violation of federal guidelines. Samples in the study were bought at restaurants, markets and sushi bars in 12 areas of the country. Of 120 samples labeled red snapper, 28 different species were found, including 17 that were not in the snapper family. The study has implications for public health, as well. In New York, tilefish, which are known for their mercury content, was sold as red snapper, which the report called “one of the most egregious swaps”.
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