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Whole Grains: Good for the Heart

Consuming whole-grains has a protective effect against CHD.

A meta-analysis involving almost 500,000 people found those who consumed the highest amounts of whole-grain experienced over 20% less coronary heart disease (CHD) when compared to those who consumed the lowest amount of whole-grain intake. 

PositiveTip: Choose your grains wisely as they do have a significant benefit on your heart health.

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Healthy Diet Lowers Risk for COPD

Smokers with the healthiest diets are less likely to get COPD.

Most people know that smoking is hazardous to health. It is the main cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Could diet influence this risk? In a study of 120,000 health professionals, researchers found dietary quality did influence COPD risk. Those consuming the healthiest diets had one third lower risk! The healthy diet consisted of whole grains, healthy fats, nuts and lower intakes of red or processed meats, refined grains, and sugar-sweetened drinks.

PositiveTip: Eat a healthy, protective diet to preserve lung health.

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Church Issues Vaccination Guidelines

The majority of people who get measles are unvaccinated.

During 2014, the U.S. experienced a record number of measles cases (644). If current trends continue, 2015 will be even higher. The relatively small number of anti-vaccine advocates have created a big stir, many who claim religious objections. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has reaffirmed it's position on vaccinations. While the guidelines support individual conscience, the church does not support those who claim a religious exemption.

PositiveTip: Vaccinate now to prevent the spread of measles and other preventable diseases.

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The Halo Effect of 13 Vitamins

Are vitamins really a salve against the uncertainty of mortality?

They were first named "vital amines" by Polish biochemist Kazimierz Funk around 1912. Other suggestions of the time were "food hormones" or "food accessory factor." Would parents today insist their children get food hormones? Vitamin supplements are taken by half the American population--even though scientists have debunked this idea over and over. (A fascinating history of vitamins is available in Vitamania by Catherine Price.)

PositiveTip: Get your vitamins from the foods in a healthy diet. It is the best way!

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Modifiable Risk Factors for Back Pain

Simple steps may prevent acute back pain.

Brief exposures to a variety of modifiable physical (handling heavy loads or awkward positioning, moving live people or animals, moderate to intense activity, sexual activity, and slipping/tripping/falling) and psychosocial (alcohol use, distraction, fatigue) factors increases risk for acute back pain. All physical triggers were significantly associated with increased risks, with manual tasks involving awkward positioning, objects not close to the body, and unstable or unbalanced objects carrying the greatest risks. Distraction during a task increased risk, but alcohol and sexual activity showed no association.

PositiveTip: Think carefully before lifting or moving heavy objects--it could prevent acute back pain.

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How You Eat Affects the Earth’s Future

Diets that “add about a decade to our lives can also prevent environmental damage”

Here is a new perspective: a recent ecological study found if populations switched from omnivore diets to either Mediterranean, pescatarian (no meat except fish) or vegetarian diets, it could improve life span, reduce diabetes by 25%, cancer by 10% and heart disease by 20%. Furthermore, food production greenhouse gas emissions would reduce in amounts equal to what all cars, trucks, plans trains and ships currently emit.

PositiveTip: Model healthy eating and reduce food consumption that taxes our planet.

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Dietary Nitrates May Lower Blood Pressure

Drinking beet juice daily may help control hypertension.

Inorganic nitrates found in beet juice are converted to nitric oxide, a vasodilator. In a randomized, double-blind trial, researchers fed subjects 250 mL beet juice or beet juice with the nitrates removed (placebo) daily for 4 weeks. Those getting the regular beet juice saw their mean systolic and diastolic BPs significantly reduced. No changes were observed in  the placebo group. Longer studies are needed to demonstrate long-term benefits.

PositiveTip: Eating beet juice or soup may be a natural way to help control hypertension.

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Change is Blowing in the Wind for Dietary Guidelines

Dietary cholesterol may not be a nutrient of concern anymore.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (U.S.) is proposing to remove the limits on dietary cholesterol in the 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This has been a mainstay since the 1960s. Evidence suggests that while serum cholesterol is still a risk factor, dietary cholesterol may not play as important a role as once thought. Read the most recent report of the Advisory Committee yourself.

PositiveTip: It is probably still wise to not overdo on high-fat, high-cholesterol foods!

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How to Cause a Measles Epidemic

The current outbreak of measles should be a wake-up call to all.

Much is being written about the current measles outbreak in the U.S.--from both sides. Paul Marantz MD, MPH, an epidemiologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine says there are five easy steps to cause a measles epidemic:

  1. "Raise a generation ignorant about science
  2. Allow [irrational] belief to rule the day 
  3. Let distrust of government override good judgment
  4. Put our faith in quacks who share our worldviews
  5. Value personal liberty at the expense of public health"

PositiveTip: Powerful trends in society may be dangerous to our health.