Use of artificial sweeteners skyrocketing in the U.S.
A cross-sectional study using U.S. NHANES data from 2009-2012 found kids consumption of artificial sweeteners--aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and others--has skyrocketed. In 1999 less than 9% of children consumed low-calorie sweeteners (LCSs). By 2012 that number had grown to 25%, an almost 200% increase. These LCSs are increasing in use among adults as well. Evidence is accumulating that these sweeteners may pose some health risks, but more research is needed.
PositiveTip: Drink water instead of soda, and use a little fresh fruit to sweeten your yogurt.
Eighty percent of current smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.
Smoking is responsible for about 6 million deaths per year globally at an estimated associated cost of $1 trillion. An international report projects that by 2030, smoking-related deaths will rise to over 8 million a year! While smoking in the U.S. has fallen to a record low of 15.!% of adults, it has been countered by rising numbers of smokers concentrated among the poor and other vulnerable groups. Just five tobacco companies account for 85% of global cigarette production.
PositiveTip: Fully support all reasonable efforts to control tobacco use!
Increasing physical activity in grade school may reduce the incidence of depression.
Almost 800 children in Norway were assessed for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) at ages 6, 8, and 10 years old. Researchers found those with higher levels of MVPA at 6 and 8 years old experienced fewer symptoms of depression 2 years later. Each hour of MVPA per day resulted in about 0.2 fewer depression symptoms, similar to the results obtained by psychosocial intervention programs.
PositiveTip: Encourage your schools to make certain each day includes time set aside for MVPA.
Walking the dog or going for a hike may positively influence behavior!
Harvard researchers found in a randomized control trial of 103 students at a therapeutic day school that aerobic exercises yielded significant behavioral improvements. Those who engaged in cybercycling (stationary bike exercise enhanced by virtual reality) experienced 32-51% lower chances of poor self-regulation and disciplinary time-outs compared to those who did not do cyercycling. There was also evidence of a carry-over effect to days they did not get this specific exercise.
PositiveTip: Behavior in all youth (and adults) would probably benefit from physical activity goals every day!
OA patients improve with 45 minutes of activity per week.
Study participants were placed in one of five quintiles of gait speed and function and followed for 2 years. Those engaging in 45 minutes a week or more of moderate to vigorous activity (highest quintile) saw significant improvement in knee and hip pain (34-38% better). These findings were independent of sex, BMI, and age. This is less stringent than the U.S. federal government recommendation of 150 minutes per week.
PositiveTip: If you have lower limb joint problems you should begin by engaging in 45+ minutes per week of moderate to vigorous exercise.
Misinformation and fear prevent many from the protection vaccines offer.
For those open-minded and curious, Medscape published a very thorough article on the five most common myths associated with vaccinations. Take the time to read the references as you work your way through it.
PositiveTip: Inform yourself of the facts. Then protect yourself from potentially fatal diseases.
Nuts may lower the overall glycemic load of the diet.
Pooled research from 12 clinical trials of 450 participants with type 2 diabetes, found those eating an average of 2 ounces of tree nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts or cashews) conveyed improved glycemic control. They experienced significantly lower levels of fasting glucose and HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar over time). It may be that the healthy nut fats convey this benefit.
PositiveTip: Substitute calories from foods with questionable nutrition for a small handful of tree nuts each day.
Pistachios nuts daily may lower diabetes risk in prediabetics.
Spanish researchers tested the effects of pistachio nuts in the diets of 54 adults with prediabetes. The participants were randomly assigned to consume a daily handful of pistachios, or to the control group, with added olive oil instead, to keep the calories the same. After 4 months those eating the pistachios showed lower blood sugar and insulin levels, and a drop in biomarkers for inflammation. Neither group grained significant weight.
PositiveTip: Include a small handful of tree nuts in your diet daily.
Marijuana use associated with less abstinence in alcohol treatment program.
Associations were examined between marijuana use and outcomes of treatment for alcohol dependence in about 1200 participants in an 18 week treatment program and a 1 year follow-up. Any use of marijuana resulted in lower abstinence from alcohol. Each day of cannabis use was associated with 4-5 days less abstinence from alcohol. This observation does not prove it causes more alcohol use, though.
PositiveTip: Avoid marijuana use during treatment for alcohol dependence.
In your quest for health, don't reach for products--reach for a lifestyle.
On the last day of this year, you may be thinking about making resolutions to will improve your health. Dr. Max Hammonds shares three absolute rules for reaching success:
- There are no magic pills--none. Quick-fixes don' exist and are a waste of time.
- One size does not fit all. Find what works for you.
- It takes time to heal. Never start programs that end in just a few weeks.
PositiveTip: Carefully follow Dr. Hammonds nine simple steps to good health. Happy New Year!