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Warning about Powdered Caffeine

A teaspoon of caffeine powder is equal to 28 cups of coffee.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued warning letters to five producers of pure powdered caffeine. Consumer groups have been urging this be done due to the very small differences between a safe dose and one that is toxic. Last year two healthy young men died after consuming too much. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that in its pure form is nearly impossible to accurately measure with common kitchen tools.

PositiveTip: Avoid pure powdered caffeine in all forms!

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Short Sleeping Equals More Colds

Not enough sleep increased the risk of getting a cold 4 fold.

Your mother may have told you that if you don't get enough sleep you will get a cold. Now researchers have found that sleeping less than 6 hours per night does increase your risk of developing a cold when exposed to rhinovirus (the virus responsible for most colds). After adjusting for confounders, those who slept less than 6 hours had 4 times greater risk than those who slept more than 7 hours. 

PositiveTip: Adequate sleep is essential for the health of body and mind.

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Exercise and Cognition in Seniors

A lifetime of physical activity is what really counts.

A group of 1635 seniors were randomly assigned to receive either a structured, moderate-intensity program of physical activity (walking, flexibility, resistance training) or health education workshops and upper-body stretching for two years. Researchers did not find any significant difference between the groups in either cognitive improvement or less mild cognitive impairment. This two-year study should not be understood to suggest a life-long program of good physical activity is without considerable value.

PositiveTip: Regular physical activity throughout life is important for maintaining mental and physical health.


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Nutritional Supplements and Cognitive Function in Seniors

Nutritional supplements may not improve cognition in older adults.

Seniors were followed for 5 years to determine if nutritional supplements might impact cognitive function. Study participants were randomized to receive long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplements (omega-3s) and/or lutein/zeaxanthin, or a placebo. Over the course of the study the annual change in cognition did not differ significantly between groups. Nutritional supplements are not food, and short-term studies over a wide range of issues have failed to show benefits.

PositiveTip: Adherence to a healthy, plant-based diet for a lifetime appears to benefit cognitive function in the elderly.

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Global Life Expectancy Increases by Six Years

We are living longer but not necessarily better.

Based on data from 190 countries between 1990-2013 life expectancy increased by 6 years to 71.5 years. However, the time spent living in good health did not keep the same pace, increasing only 5.4 years. Japan had the highest healthy life expectancy (HALE) of 73 years and Lesotho had the lowest at 42 years. U.S. men had a HALE of 66 years and women of 69 years.

PositiveTip: Healthy lifestyle choices combined with good healthcare help prevent disability and support healthy years of living.

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A Stroke Impacts Spouse's Health, Too

Strokes have long-term impact on spouse health.

Swedish researchers report caring for a spouse who had a stroke may negatively impact their mental and physical health for years to come. The two most important predictors of the caregiver spouse's quality of life was the extent of the spouse's stroke disability and their own age. Even when stroke survivors impairment was relatively mild the caregivers reported decreased mental health for several years after the event when compared to control spouses.

PositiveTip: Family and community help is essential in long-lasting support for the spouse of a stroke survivor.

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Long Work Hours Associated with Stroke Risk

Adults who put in long work hours face increased risk for stroke.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 600,000 adults free of coronary heart disease, and almost 530,000 free of stroke at baseline. They found those working 55 hours or more week had a 33% increased risk of stroke. Risk for heart disease increased by 13%. This data came from 25 prospective studies followed for 7-8 years.

PositiveTip: Balance the activities and priorities of your life for maximum quality of life.

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Vaping Seems to Lead to Smoking

Vaping increases the risk of teens later becoming smokers by four-fold.

Researchers following a group of high school students found using e-cigarettes significantly predicts future cigarette or other smokable tobacco product use. E-cigarette users were 4.27 times (P>0.001) more likely to use "combustible tobacco products" (cigarettes, tobacco hookah, and cigars) and 2.65 times (P>0.001) more likely to become cigarette smokers than those never using e-cigarettes. Vaping has tripled in U.S. middle and high school students in the last year!

PositiveTip: Inhaling an addictive substance is not good for anyone. Support swift regulation of these dangerous products.

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Good News: U.S. Consuming Less Added Sugar

Knocking out sugar-sweetened beverages makes a difference!

In the past decade, U.S. citizens cut their added sugar intake by almost 25%. Analysis of government data shows per capita consumption dropped from 100 grams per day (25 tsp.) to 77 grams (19 tsp.). That is a big drop and most can be attributed to decreased soda consumption. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommends no more than 50 grams (12 tsp.) daily of added sugar.

PositiveTip: Avoid low-nutrient foods like cookies, candy, cake and other "indulgence" foods to reduce added sugars.

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Greater Fat Loss by Cutting Fats

Cutting fat resulted in more body fat loss than cutting carbs.

A small study of body fat loss found cutting dietary fat lead to significantly more loss than cutting carbohydrates. All participants were fed a 5-day energy-balanced diet, then randomized to the two dietary groups for 6 days. Following a washout period, each group was crossed over to the other diet for 6 days. The low fat diet resulted in 89 g/day fat loss vs. 53 g/day in the reduced-carb diet. The investigators noted these differences might diminish over time.

PositiveTip: Cutting fat calories may significantly help in weight loss.