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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.


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Popular Diets May Waste Your Time

Fad diet evidence is inconsistent and regaining the weight is common.

The American Heart Association systematically reviewed the impact of several popular diets on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factors:

  • Weight Watchers data showed modest weight loss in year one, but people regained weight later
  • Atkins data was inconsistent
  • South Beach was ineffective after 12 months
  • Comparing all 4 diets found minimal differences in improving cardiovascular risks.

PositiveTip:  Invest in a sustainable lifestyle rather than fad diets; healthy, tasty food and regular, enjoyable exercise is a sustainable, weight-losing “diet for life”.

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Weighty Impact of Working Mothers

Children of working mothers may be heavier, primarily because of less sleep.

Researchers investigating the links between a preschooler’s weight and their mother’s work schedule found sleep was a primary factor for weight regulation. Children of full time working mothers slept less and had higher BMI’s than children whose mothers worked less than 20 hrs/week. Children’s sleep patterns may mirror mom’s by staying up later for quality time and rising when mom gets ready for work.

PositiveTip: As you juggle home and work life, aim to allow 11-12 hours of sleep for your preschooler.

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Are Supplements Really What They Claim?

Nutrition supplement distributors accused of marketing fake substances.

The Attorney General (AG) of New York has filed a criminal complaint against several distributors of nutritional supplements, claiming they are not what they claim to be. According to the NY AG St. John's wort, Gingko biloboa, Echinacea, Ginseng, and other supplements are nothing more than rice, wheat, mustard, garlic and other common food products. This complaint confirms what many have suspected. Even if these are pure and unadulterated there is little proof they would be beneficial.

PositiveTip: Avoid illusions and rationally choose what you purchase and consume.

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Run So You Won’t Stand Still

Seniors that jog regularly can also walk as efficiently as young adults.

Researchers studied adults over 65 who either jogged or walked a minimum of 30 minutes, 3 times a week. The joggers could walk up to 10% more efficiently than those who only walked. In fact, when walking, those who usually jogged burned energy like young adults in their 20’s. The energy required to walk increases with age, leading to decreased mobility and function.

PositiveTip: Boost your exercise output now to maintain your energy and mobility longer down the road of life.

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Evidence that Love Does Conquer Fear

Remembering that you’re loved can reduce your brain’s threat response.

Everyone faces stressful times, but new research shows one way to mentally fortify yourself beforehand. Researchers found that if subjects are shown brief images of people receiving love and support just prior to seeing threatening images, the brain`s threat monitor (the amygdala) doesn`t fire. The love reminder helps shield and restore nerves during stress, particularly for anxious people.

PositiveTip: For peak mental health, meditate on the love of others and remember that God’s “perfect love casts out fear”.

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The Health Benefits of Walking Groups

Group walking can boost health by reducing BP, body fat, and cholesterol.

Are you having trouble sticking to a regular program of physical activity? Researchers in the U.K. found that a walking group may provide you the support you need, along with lower blood pressure, lower resting heart rate, lower body fat, and lower cholesterol. This meta-analysis of 42 studies demonstrated the dramatic improvement in health walking groups bring--with almost no adverse effects. The walking ranged from low to high intensity.

PositiveTip: Gather friends and neighbors together and walk for better health!