Category: Health

Black Tea May Be Able to Help Lower Cholesterol

Posted on May 29, 2015 by No Comments

I recently had blood work done and to my dismay, I’ve joined the ranks of those with high cholesterol. For now, I’m opting to get it under control with diet rather than taking drugs that can damage my liver.

Eating less and losing some weight will be part of that, but I’m also looking into things that I can add to my diet that might help. Among those is black tea. It turns out that the “habitual intake of black tea has been associated with relatively lower serum cholesterol concentrations in observational studies” (Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics).

Results from clinical trials have been mixed on evaluating the effect of black tea, but according to the journal, that can be explained on things like the rest of the diet consumed by participants which could confound the results. So they performed a double-blind, randomized crossover clinical trial that was diet controlled.

It showed a positive “effect of black tea flavonoid consumption on cholesterol concentrations in 57 borderline hypercholesterolemic individuals” (total cholesterol between 190 and 260 mg/dL). Key conditions were tightly controlled for the duration of this study which was conducted in Minneapolis, MN, from April 2002 through April 2004.

The participants ate a controlled, low-flavonoid diet and drank 5 cups of black tea or tea-like placebo each day during two 4-week treatment periods. Both beverages tasted and looked the same but the results of drinking them showed a little difference.

Those who actually drank the tea showed slightly lower total cholesterol levels but did not alter the lipid profiles of participants significantly.

However, I’m thinking since that was for a couple of four-week treatments and it showed slight improvement, I’m going to add it to my diet for now and see what happens when I go back to have my cholesterol checked.

Photo credits: wikimedia

Exercise Not Enough to Fight Obesity

Posted on May 27, 2015 by 2 Comments

I can’t lose weight if I don’t exercise and eat right. If I eat what I want and exercise, I’m lucky to maintain my weight. If I diet and don’t exercise, weight comes off so slowly that I get discouraged.

For example, there was a period a couple of years ago where I walked for an hour a day at least 5 days a week, but I ate what I wanted. I didn’t lose a single pound.

Now, a recent study by a team of British cardiologists explains why this is so. Researchers who published their findings in the May issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine have said it’s time to “bust the myth” that regular exercise is the way to fight obesity.

What the study shows is that regular exercise reduces the risk of developing a number health issues including: heart disease, dementia, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers, but it doesn’t “promote” weight loss.

The study concludes that obesity has “rocketed” over the past 30 years while there has been little change in the level of physical activity during that time. Findings conclude that “this places the blame for our expanding waist lines directly on the type and amount of calories consumed.”

In other words, poor diet leads to overweight and more. According to the study, poor diet generates more disease than physical inactivity, alcohol, and smoking combined!

Many of us (up to 40 percent) with normal body mass index have metabolic abnormalities that are typically associated with obesity such as high blood pressure, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease, and dyslipidaemia.

I think back to my own experience. When I eat healthy, I do lose, just slower than I want, even if I don’t exercise. I’m currently just a little overweight, and went and had some bloodwork done. Cholesterol is high. That’s diet.

As much as we want to eat what we want, when we want, that’s the thing that’s making us sick. Exercise is good for us but we need to eat for health if we really want to fight obesity.

Photo credits: pixabay

What Happens to that Half-Used Hotel Shampoo?

Posted on May 26, 2015 by No Comments

Hotels offer complimentary shampoos, conditioners, soup, and lotions which come in handy when traveling. Depending on how thick your hair is and how many people are sharing the room, it is usually enough for at least a couple of trips in the shower.

Then when it’s time to pack up, I’ve often packed up the unused portions because I figured they’d just get thrown away. It turns out all that changed about six years ago for many hotels.

A sales executive by the name of Shawn Seipler who stayed in about 150 hotels a year thought about all the half-used hotel shampoo bottles he left behind. He decided to ask one of the hotels what happened to the soap he used once and the shampoo that was still half full and he was told that all leftover shampoo bottles and opened bars of soaps were thrown out.

This gave Seipler and idea. Instead of just throwing all that soap and shampoo away, why not find a way to make it accessible to the 2.7 billion people around the world who don’t have access to basic sanitation? And so he launched “Clean the World” in 2009.

Clean the World works with hotels across the world to collect soap and other bottled amenities, recycles them, and then sends them to children in need.

While not every hotel has joined this mission, Clean the World has formed partnerships with Hilton Worldwide, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International, IHG, Best Western, Hyatt, Walt Disney World, Las Vegas Sands, and Caesars Entertainment.

Clean the World has three big recycling centers where they process the donated products. Soap goes through a disinfecting process and is melted and repackaged as fresh new soap bars.

Since its inception in 2009, Clean the World has donated 25 million bars of soap to more than 99 countries. Not only that, but according to Seipler this recycling effort has diverted 7 million pounds of waste from North American and Asian landfills!

Photo credits: Daniel Morrison

Ginger Shown to Help Fight Breast Cancer Stem Cells

Posted on May 25, 2015 by No Comments

As a kid I didn’t like ginger; not even ginger ale. But gradually I’ve learned to incorporate it into recipes for a little extra zip.

Now I’ve learned it also makes the list of cancer fighting foods according to a study published in BioMed Research International. In fact, researchers have found that ginger kills 75 percent of breast cancer stem cells.

This is a really important find because breast cancer stem cells are extremely hard to kill. In fact, they often survive chemotherapy and then often go on to create new cancer cells which leads to a recurrence of the cancer.

What’s ginger’s secret? Researches point to the main phenolic compound (6-Shogaol) found in this root which is exceptionally toxic to breast cancer stem cells. In the study, this Shogaol compound is what is credited with killing up to 75 percent of the stem cells outright.

Aside from this benefit, ginger is known for its unique and potent antioxidants and has been used for thousands of years in other cultures to treat headaches, colds, nausea, high blood pressure, and even cancer. Currently it is being tested in clinical trials for the prevention of colon cancer and in the fight against fatty liver disease.

For me, the real test is figuring out how to add it to my diet in ways that I actually like. Currently I’ve learned to incorporate it in many of my stir fry and curry recipes and some casseroles. A good number of my friends enjoy it with sushi but I just can’t do that. I’m a wasabi girl when it comes to sushi.

Other ideas include adding ginger to salads, or baked in cookies or cakes. For maximum benefit, it is recommended that you actually eat the ginger, not just use it to flavor a tea or tincture. I’d love to hear ideas from others out there for how you add ginger to your diet.

Photo credits: wikimedia

Mom Finds Toddler’s Eye Cancer with Cell Phone Pic

Posted on May 20, 2015 by No Comments

You know how you feel when you think something might be wrong with your child but you’re not sure what? That’s how it was for Illinois mom Julie Fitzgerald. She noticed something in the back of her toddler son Avery’s eye and did what many of us do … she went to the Internet for answers.

In her research, she pulled up an article about a woman who talked about how she saw a “white eye” rather than “red eye” in an overexposed picture. It turned out to be cancer. With dread, Fitzgerald picked up her cell phone and clicked a pic of Avery to take a closer look.

“I took a picture and I did not want to take the picture because I had this dreaded feeling in the pit of my stomach and I took the picture and boom. His whole pupil was just white and that’s when I knew.” Julie Fitzgerald via WREX-TV

The picture prompted her to visit a specialist who confirmed Avery had multiple tumors covering 75 percent of his left eye. In the end, the little boy’s eye was removed along with the retinoblastoma.

It turns out that Fitzgerald had discovered the cancer just in time. If they hadn’t removed the eye when they did, the cancer would have spread to his blood and to his brain. Fitzgerald advises other parents to “Trust a momma’s gut.”

Retinoblastoma is usually fatal if the early warning signs go unnoticed. In this case, Julie Fitzgerald sensed something was wrong, and it saved her little boy’s life. She said, “Our lives went from normal to cancer to a cancer survivor in three weeks. It turned out to be our worst nightmare but it saved our son’s life.”

So take a closer look at those photos you take. A “white eye” is not necessarily a definitive indicator of cancer but it isn’t something to be ignored. It’s better to have an exam and learn everything is normal than to ignore it and find out it is cancer.

Photo credits: CHECT UK

Breast Cancer Predicted to Rise by 50 Percent in 15 Years

Posted on May 18, 2015 by No Comments

According to a new study by the National Cancer Institute, it looks like breast cancer could be rising by as much as 50 percent over the next 15 years.

Part of the higher number is due to the fact that there will be more women between the ages of 30 and 84. Based on that increase, there will be approximately 441,000 new breast cancers diagnosed while the number in 2011 was 283,000.

That means the 50 percent increase doesn’t really reflect more cancer as much as it signifies more people on the planet and people who are living longer. As we grow older, our cancer risk increases with age. The estimated numbers include both invasive breast cancer and “in situ” conditions which are considered pre-cancerous.

If you break it down by age, in 2011, breast cancers in women 70 – 84 accounted for 24 percent of all breast cancer cases. But if the findings of this recent study hold true, that number will grow to 35 percent in 2030.

Breast cancers in women ages 50 to 69 is expected to drop by 44 percent. (Researchers assumed levels of screening will remain about the same as they are currently.)

While these numbers sound high, the study does estimate there will be fewer estrogen-fueled breast tumors which rank among the difficult-to-treat types of breast cancer. In fact, the proportion of these “ER-negative” breast cancers is expected to drop from 17 percent in 2011 to 9 percent by 2030.

Reasons for this decrease aren’t clear, but the researchers believe it may be related to more women breastfeeding.

Philip Rosenberg, a senior investigator in the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), who presented the findings at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research said, “Knowing more about why ER-negative breast cancers are declining may provide researchers with clues about how to prevent this type of breast cancer.”

Researches came up with these new estimates by analyzing data from the NCI and took into consideration U.S. Census Bureau population projections. With all that number crunching it comes down to cancer risk increasing with age and the fact that we are living longer. Plus there are lifestyle factors that figure in.

Those of us who breastfed decreased our chances of breast cancer, but those who had children early and did not breastfeed increased their risk.

I’m not sure saying “cancer will rise by 50 percent” is the clearest way to say there will be more of us, and more of us getting older, so there will be more cancer. Either way, Rosenberg said, “Managing this clinical burden will present a huge challenge.” With that I agree.

Photo credits: Paul Falardeau

Is Knuckle Cracking Bad for You?

Posted on May 15, 2015 by No Comments

The sound of knuckle cracking makes me cringe. It’s right up there with people who gnaw on their fingernails. So why do those sounds bug me so much? I think it’s because of what I was taught as a kid.

Knuckle cracking, I was told, is bad for your knuckles – make them big – gives you arthritis. As for biting your nails, it was about all the germs found under the human fingernail. While the germ thing is right, the tales surrounding knuckle cracking are still debated upon scientists.

In a recent study, researchers actually settled the issue of what happens inside our knuckles when we pop them. It is caused by the rapid formation of a gas-filled cavity within a slippery lubricant found between our finger bones. This substance is called synovial fluid.

For this study, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) was used and revealed knuckle-cracking happens in less than 310 milliseconds. Researchers also noted that immediately before the familiar popping noise a white flash occurred, apparently from water rushing together.

Popping Knuckles

Richard Thompson, University of Alberta biomedical engineering professions said, “Rapid imaging with MRI was ideal for these studies because it allowed clear visualization of the bones and fluids surrounding them, and critically, the formation of the air cavity.”

That tells me why the sound happens, but it didn’t address whether or not it is harmful. While past studies have disagreed on the topic, there is one man who has proven it doesn’t cause arthritis like I was told.

This man cracked his knuckles on only one hand for 60 years. And after 60 years, he has no more arthritis in one hand than in the other. As a one man study, he has made his point. So I guess the only harm it does is in annoying people around you.

Some people like the sound of knuckle cracking and others don’t. Which side are you on?

Photo credits: Vox

Link Round-up: Recipes, Detox for Bladder Health, Connect with Your Partner, and More

Posted on May 14, 2015 by 1 Comment

Today’s link round-up has recipes, a detox for bladder health, ways to connect with your partner, and more.

Confessions of an Overworked Mom shared information about a cranberry juice detox water for bladder health.

Cupcakes and Cashmere shared the beauty advice she has for her daughter.

Idealist Mom offered a few ways to connect with your partner.

link ru spring roll salad

A Beautiful Mess shared a recipe for a spring roll salad with spicy peanut dressing.

Mind Body Green shared why facials and massages aren’t just for pampering yourself.

The Spring Mount 6 Pack told us how to treat bee stings.

Peas and Crayons shared a recipe for cheesy chicken and broccoli stuffed peppers.

Photo credit: Confessions of an Overworked Mom and A Beautiful Mess

New Health Benefit Attributed to Chamomile Tea

Posted on May 13, 2015 by No Comments

I’ve used chamomile tea as a natural sleep aid for years. It’s not really made of tea leaves, but the herb chamomile that looks like a little daisy.

It’s an herb that’s been used in folk and traditional medicine and is known for its health, cosmetic, and nutritional benefits. Now, according to a recent study, it has one more benefit to add to that list. It may lower the risk of thyroid cancer.

This study was conducted by researchers in Greece. They took a closer look at cancer rates and the dietary habits of 113 patients who were admitted to hospital for thyroid cancer between 1990-1993, and then compared them to 138 people without thyroid cancer, who were either healthy or had some unrelated condition, and also compared them to 286 people with benign thyroid disease.

They found that people who drank more chamomile tea over longer periods of time were less likely to develop thyroid growths whether malignant or benign, compared to those who didn’t drink it.

Up until now, it has been believed that chamomile tea is good for hyperthyroidism, but these findings take the benefits toward a healthy thyroid even further with some saying its consumption lowers the risk of thyroid cancer.

Not everyone is ready to go that far, but these findings do add to the growing body of evidence that the Mediterranean diet which is common in Greece, in combination with the tea, offers potential health benefits.

“The finding was not surprising to me because many aspects of the Mediterranean diet have been shown to be protective towards cancer in general.” – co-author Dr. Athena Linos (an environmental health researcher at Prolepsis in Greece)

To put it into perspective, 1.6 out of every 100,000 people in Greece are diagnosed with thyroid cancer each year, a much lower ratio than the average 13.2 and 5.2 per 100,000 people in the U.S. and Europe, respectively.

Linos points to her findings “suggesting that it may be something in the Greek diet – such as tea – which accounts for this difference.”

The benefits showed up in people who drank chamomile tea two to six times a week. They were about 70 percent less likely to develop thyroid abnormalities. People who drank the tea for thirty years or more reduced their risk by about 80 percent.

But it is important to note, it’s not just drinking the tea that made a difference. It’s drinking the tea and eating a healthy Mediterranean style diet.

Photo credits: Nicola Sapiens De Mitri