Monday, December 26, 2011

Coffee Consumption Lowers Depression by Twenty Percent in Women

Depression is a chronic andrecurrent condition that affects twice as many women as men, includingapproximately one of every five U.S. women during their lifetime. Loss ofproductive work hours has become a significant problem in the workplace makingthe development of strategies to prevent the debilitating condition a priorityfor research scientists.

The result of a peer-reviewedjournal study publishedin the Archives of Internal Medicineexplains that consumption of caffeinated coffee can reduce the symptoms ofdepression in women in a dose dependent manner. This is an important finding becausecoffee is a popular beverage already consumed by many. Just three to four cupsof java each day may just help lift your spirits and improve feelings ofmelancholy.

Four Cups of Coffee Consumed Daily Found to Lower Depression Symptom by20%
The authors of the study notedthat 80% of worldwide caffeine consumption is in the form of coffee, the mostcommonly used CNS (central nervous system) stimulant. The research leader, Dr.Michel Lucas and his team set out to determine if the consumption of coffee or otherdrinks containing caffeine might be linked to depression risk. To conduct the study theygathered data on 50,737 women with an average age 63 years. It was determinedthat none of them had depression when the study began.

The participants were part of theNurses' Health Study and were asked to complete a detailed questionnairedetailing their caffeine and coffee consumption over a 24 year period. Theresearchers determined how often they consumed caffeinated and non-caffeinatedcoffee, non-herbal teas, caffeinated sodas (sugared or low calorie) and alltypes of caffeine-free soft drinks as well as chocolate intake. For the purposeof this study, depressionwas defined as having a diagnosis of clinical depression and being prescribedregular antidepressants during the previous two years.

Coffee Found to Lower Depression in Women in a Dose Dependent Manner
During the course of the studyanalysis, 2,607 new cases of depression were recorded among the participants.From the data collected, researchers found that women who consumed two to threecups of caffeinated coffee per day were 15% less likely to develop depressioncompared to those who drank a maximum of one cup of caffeinated coffee perweek. Further they determined women who drank at least 4 cups per day had a 20%lower risk than the females consuming only one cup per day.

Interestingly, the consumption ofdecaffeinated coffee had no impact on depression risk, an indicator that asynergistic link exists between chemical compounds in coffee and caffeine toproduce the risk-lowering effect. Study authors concluded "In this large prospective cohort of older women free of clinicaldepression or severe depressive symptoms at baseline, risk of depressiondecreased in a dose-dependent manner with increasing consumption of caffeinatedcoffee." Drinking two to four cups daily of a caffeinated coffeebeverage may provide significant depression-lowering benefits in women.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Vitamin B12 Increases Brain Volume and Improves Memory and Cognition

Many people are aware thatvitamin B12 status declines during aging, as millions of seniors fall prey to adecline in this critical nutrient. Vitamin B12 circulating in the blooddeclines in the elderly due to absorption problems in the digestive tractleading to poor uptake by body tissues, especially the brain.

Researchers publishing in the journal Neurology have established a definitivelink between poor vitamin B12 levels and brain shrinkage, a hallmark ofcognitive decline and Alzheimer`s dementia. Supplementation with thebiologically active form of the B vitamin may help prevent shrinkage andpreserve learning capabilities and memory functions as we age.

Vitamin B12 Deficiencies Linked to Shrinking Brain Volume and CognitiveDecline Among Elderly
The study involved 121participants from the Chicago Health and Aging Project who underwent magneticresonance imaging (MRI) scans over a period of four and a half years.Additionally, each member of the study had blood drawn to measure levels of vitaminB12 and B12-related markers that can indicate a B12 deficiency. The samesubjects took tests measuring their memory and other cognitive skills.

MRI scans were analyzed tomeasure total brainvolume and look for other signs of brain damage. The tests included sevenmeasures of episodic memory, two measures of visual spatial ability andperceptual organization, two measures of perceptual speed, two measures of semanticmemory, and three measures of working memory. Stored blood samples wereanalyzed for vitamin B12 and homocysteine, a byproduct of metabolism associatedwith dementia, cognitive decline and coronary artery disease.

Vitamin B12 Levels Improve Cognitive Abilities and Can Help PreventStroke
Researchers determined that havinghigh levels of four of five markers for vitamin B12 deficiencywas associated with having lower scores on the cognitive tests and smallertotal brain volume. Indicators of vitamin B12 insufficiency contributed to poorglobal cognitive test scores and a decrease in brain volume revealed by MRIfindings compared to those with better B12 status. Higher levels of the vitaminB12 markers were linked to decreased total brain volume. Elevated homocysteinelevels were indicative of greater white matter volume and elevated risk ofcerebrovascular events.

Lead researcher, Dr. ChristineTangney concluded"Our findings suggest that … vitaminB12 deficiency, may affect cognition by reducing total brain volume whereas theeffect of homocysteine on cognition may be mediated through increased whitematter hyperintensity volume and cerebral infarcts." Vitamin B12deficiency among the elderly is a significant cause for concern and may verywell be a key contributor to the explosion of Alzheimer`s disease cases overthe past 50 years. Nutritionists recommend supplementing with the bioactiveform of B12 known as methylcobalamin (1 to 5 mg per day taken sublingually) toregulate circulating levels of this critical brain nutrient.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dietary Fruits and Vegetables Reduce Colon Cancer Risk

Health-minded individuals arewell aware that a diet high in natural fruits and vegetables equate to vibranthealth and dramatically lowered risk of many chronic diseases. The result of anew studypublished in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association provides details on how specific fruit andvegetable consumption lowers the incidence of many types of colon cancer, thethird most prevalent form of the disease.

Foods such as apples, broccoli and cauliflower each lower the risk of cancerinitiation in different parts of the colon while high sugar, fiber-void fruitjuices are shown to increase risk of the illness. Nutrition scientists fromAustralia provide important documentation to confirm the importance of eating acolorful selection of fruits and vegetables to lower colon cancer risk.

Diet Packed With Vegetables and Fruits Shown to Lower Multiple ColonCancer Risk Factors
Nutrition researchers havedesigned studies to examine the effect of healthy diet on colon cancer risk inthe past, but the protective effect has been debatable as they do not providespecific results for different foods on the key regions or subsites of thecolon. Professor Lin Fritschi, PhD, head of the Epidemiology Group at theWestern Australian Institute for Medical Research and her research team set outto investigatethe link between fruit and vegetables and three cancers in different parts ofthe bowel: proximal colon cancer, distal colon cancer and rectal cancer.

The controlled study included 918participants with a confirmed colon cancer diagnosis and compared them with1021 individuals with no history of the digestive disease. All participantscompleted extensive nutritional and demographic questionnaires to account forpotential conflicts such as socioeconomic status. Analysis of the data showedthat specific fruit and vegetables from similar varietal families affect riskfor colon cancer in different portions of the digestive tract.

Broccoli, Cabbage and Sprouts Lower Most Common Type of Colon Cancer
With respect to different fruitand vegetable consumption, the researchersfound a reduced rate of proximal colon cancer was linked to eating brassicaslike broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. In addition, bothtotal vegetable intake and total vegetable and fruit intake were linked to alower risk of distal colon cancer. And finally a significant reduction indistal colon cancer risk was linked to dark yellow vegetables and apples.

There should be no doubt thatnatural fruits and vegetables consumed raw or minimally cooked to retain theactive enzymes is a critical factor in digestive health to dramatically lowerthe risk of colon cancer and other chronic conditions as well. This studyconveys the important nature of eating a wide variety of different coloredfruits and vegetables, high in phytonutrient content to provide a protectiveshield at different colon subsites and throughout the body.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Omega-3 Fats Help Lower Premature Death Risk by Eighty Percent

Many people make the potentiallyfatal presumption that aging, chronic diseases and premature aging are naturalevents that come with advancing years. A plethora of current research studiesconfirm that nothing could be farther from the truth. In addition tosuper-nutrients such as resveratrol, curcumin and vitamin D optimization,researchers publishingin the American Journal of ClinicalNutrition and Clinical Cardiologyprovide documented evidencethat beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids from dietary sources and supplementationslash the overall risk of an early death.

The long-chain fats DHA and EPAelicit a profound effect on the heart and brain to ameliorate chronic diseasesthat bring an early demise to millions of unsuspecting individuals each year. Health-mindedindividuals today are used to hearing about the myriad of benefits associatedwith eating fish and supplementing with Omega-3 fats.

Omega-3 Fat Supplementation Slashes Risk of All-Cause Mortality in Half
A wealth of peer-reviewed studiesprovide solid evidence that the DHA and EPA fatty acids help to prevent heartdisease and sudden death from a heart attack, lower depression incidence andreduce stroke and dementia risks as well. New research shows that optimalOmega-3 blood levels lower the risk of dying from all causes by 85% in highrisk patients who had suffered a prior heartattack.

Intrigued by the result of thisresearch, scientists wanted to understand if mortality was affected inindividuals with no evident heart disease. A group of men aged 64 to 76 yearswere supplemented with Omega-3 fats (2.4 grams per day) for a period of 3years. During that time, the participants showed a 47% reduction in risk ofdying from any cause compared to a placebo group. Women experienced a 44% lowerrisk of death in a similar study.

Omega-3 Fats Lower Systemic Inflammation and Balance Omega-6 Ratios
Researchers from the AmericanHeart Association journal Strokecommented on the ground-breaking conclusions of multiple Omega-3 studies, “Evidence from prospective secondaryprevention studies suggests that EPA+DHA supplementation ranging from 0.5 to1.8 g/d (either as fatty fish or supplements) significantly reduces subsequentcardiac and all-cause mortality.” Omega-3 enriched foods and supplements helpto improve the critical balance with Omega-6 fats to lower systemicinflammation. This provides the primary risk-reduction mechanism associatedwith the long-chain fat.

In addition to fatty fish(salmon, snapper, scallops and shrimp), non-meat food sources of Omega-3’sinclude walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, raw tofu and cooked soybeans. The bodydoes not efficiently process EPA and DHA fats from vegetarian sources, thoughstrong evidence exists that these food sources still provide exceptional healthbenefits. To be certain you achieve optimal Omega-3 blood saturation levels asreferenced in these studies, nutrition experts recommend supplementing with 2.4grams per day of combined EPA and DHA (read package labels to ensure properdose). When supplementing, check that the fish oil (krill oil is also anexcellent option) is molecularly distilled to avoid contamination.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Zinc is Essential to Improve Brain Communications and Improve Memory

Zinc is an essential mineralknown to improve skin tone, aid wound healing, fight cancer and shorten the lengthof the common cold. Researchers publishing in the journalNeuron now identify the crucial rolethis super-nutrient plays in support of memory formation and cognitivestability. Additionally, they have found that zinc may also play a part incontrolling the devastating occurrence of epileptic seizures.

For the first time, scientistshave been able to watch zinc in action as the nutrient regulates communicationsbetween neurons and the hippocampus to improve memory and learningcapabilities. Ensuring proper intake of zinc is an important step towardoptimal brain function and may prevent cognitive decline as we age.

Zinc Improves Communication between Neurons to Improve Cognition
Researchers at Duke UniversityMedical Center and chemists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology collaboratedto study the effects of zincon brain function. Scientists experimenting with mice used a chemical thatbinds with zinc to eliminate it from the brain of the test animals. They foundthat in the absence of the mineral, communications between neurons wassignificantly diminished and that zinc is vital for controlling the efficiency between nerve cells in the hippocampus.

For more than a half century,scientists have understood that high concentrations of zinc are depositedwithin nerve cells, called vesicles that package the transmitters which enablenerve cells to communicate. The highest concentrations of brain zinc are foundamong the neurons of the hippocampus that control the high functions oflearning and memory.

Researchers Find Zinc Levels in the Brain Control Memory and LearningFunctions
By artificially regulating thelevel of zinc in the brain of the test animals, researchers were able toconfirm that eliminating zinc from the neural vesicles also prevented enhancedcommunication. By increasing levels of the mineral, they were able tosignificantly restore enhanced communications in the hippocampal region toimprove learning and memory capabilities.

The results of this studyconducted using mice can be extrapolated to humans because zinc is known toplay a similar role in the brain of both species. Zinc deficiency in the typicalwestern diet is rapidly becoming a serious problem that threatens human health.Due to poor farming practices and the abundance of nutrient-deprived processedfoods, many children and adults suffer from a chronic insufficiency of themineral.

Over time, lack of zinc from dietarysources can result in immune system depression, decline in sexual health andincreased risk of dementia and cognitive decline. Ideal dietary sources of zincinclude liver, beef and lamb. Vegetarians can include nuts, seeds and peas toobtain the micronutrient. Alternatively, zinc supplements are available (30 to50 mg per day) to help maintain healthy systemic levels that improve memory,learning and cognition.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Olive Oil and Nuts Lower Heart Disease Risk Better Than Pharmaceuticals

More vindication for a naturalMediterranean-style diet including plenty of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) andnuts was released in an advanced study published by the prestigious journalAtherosclerosis. Early results from aSpanish study with more than 7500 participants’ demonstrates that highquantities of dietary EVOO and a variety of different species of nuts is moreeffective in managing and preventing a heart event than traditional drugtherapy.

Many physicians place theirpatients on the standard prescription of beta blockers and ACE inhibitors in adesperate effort to prevent advancing heart disease, even though repeatedstudies prove these drugs are detrimental to long-term health. Include copiousamounts of EVOO and nuts in your diet to dramatically lower heart disease riskand avoid the need for risk drugs.

Study Provides Proof of Natural Diet over Drugs in the Fight againstHeart Disease
To conduct the study, researchersplaced the participants into one of three groups following either aMediterranean style diet receiving 15 liters of EVOO over a 90 day period, a nutgroup consuming 30 grams per day of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts or a standardlow-fat diet. Among those participants over the age of 55, the scientists foundthat carotid artery thickness was significantly reduced in the EVOO and nutgroups for individuals with already thickened arterial walls.

Researchers commented,“A modification in the entire dietpattern managed to achieve in just one year, results that pharmaceutical drugsdid not – even after two years of treatment.” Lead study author, Dr. MiguelAngel Martinez-Gonzalez was impressed that a diet concentrated on natural foodsources high in beneficial fats improved cardiovascular risk outcomes more thanPharma options. The study also found that the traditional low-fat (highcarbohydrate) diet frequently prescribed by physicians and dieticians today hasno health benefits and allows for heart disease to progress unabated.

Monounsaturated Fats From EVOO and Nuts Improve Vascular Elasticity
Most alternative healthpractitioners understand that a dramatic reduction of wheat-based carbohydratescoupled with increased monounsaturated fats and Omega-3 sources can provide forvascular elasticity to lower risk of heart disease and stroke. No drug can makethe same claim, despite billions of dollars spent to market and promoteunnecessary pharmaceutical options to millions of unsuspecting patients.

Dr. Martinez-Gonzalez concluded “We thus observed… a significant improvementand regression of lesions having taken place in those cases that had followed aMediterranean diet enriched with virgin olive oil or nuts.” After just 90days of EVOO or nut consumption, lipoprotein ratios improved enough to deliversignificant improvement in heart disease risk for both men and women followingthe diet. To lower your risk of heart disease, adopt a Mediterranean-style eatingpattern and be certain to include a healthy dose of EVOO (unheated) and unprocessednuts (not roasted, cooked or heated).

Sunday, December 4, 2011

White Fleshed Fruits and Vegetables Cut Stroke Risk in Half

Stroke is the third leading causeof death in America, affecting nearly one million people and taking the livesof 150,000 each year. Researchers publishing in the American Heart Association journalStroke have found that increasedconsumption of white fleshy vegetables and fruits such as apples and pears leadsto a dramatic decline in both incidence and death from a stroke.

This study is the first todifferentiate between different colors in fruits and vegetables and the riskfor developing a specific disease or illness. Beneficial phytochemicals such ascarotenoids and flavonoids found in the white flesh and skin of apples andpears can dramatically lower your risk of suffering the devastating physical damagecaused by a stroke.

Apples and Pears Can Cut Stroke Risk by More Than Fifty Percent
Nutrition scientists have longknown that the brightly colored skin and flesh of fruits and vegetables conferthe health benefits normally associated with eating these foods. To furtherexamine this link, researchers examined the relationship between fruit andvegetable color group consumption and contrasted with 10-year stroke incidencein a cohort of 20,069 adults, with an average age of 41. Participants weredisease free at the outset of the study and were asked to complete a 178-itemfood frequency questionnaire detailing foods consumed over the past year.

Fruit and vegetable consumptionwas broken into four distinct groups,based on pigment color: Green, including dark leafy vegetables, orange/yellow,mostly citrus fruits, red/purple, mostly red vegetables and white, of which 55percent were apples and pears. Follow up proceeded for a period of ten yearsduring which time 233 strokes were confirmed. Green, orange/yellow andred/purple varieties of fruits and vegetables were found to have no correlationto stroke incidence.

Fruits and Vegetables of All Colors Needed to Lower Disease Risk
White fleshed fruits andvegetables demonstrated a 52% lower incidence of stroke over the ten-yearperiod when those consuming the highest amounts were compared to the group withthe lowest intake. The researchers found that each 25 gram per day increase inwhite fruits and vegetable consumption was associated with a 9 percent lowerrisk of stroke (the average apple is 120 grams).

The lead study author fromWageningen University in the Netherlands concluded“To prevent stroke, it may be useful toconsume considerable amounts of white fruits and vegetables… For example,eating one apple a day is an easy way to increase white fruits and vegetableintake.” Apples and pears are high in a nutrient known as quercetin andfiber that may convey part of the stroke risk reduction. It`s critical to eat adiet packed with fruits and vegetables of all colors to take advantage of theunique disease-fighting characteristics to be uncovered for a multitude ofdifferent carotenoids and flavonoids in future research studies.

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