Category: Health

Is coconut a superfood that can prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s?

CAN this humble, hairy fruit prevent heart disease and Alzheimer’s? A growing band of supporters – including scientists – are singing the healing and restorative praises of coconut. They cite research and evidence to back their arguments and claim this humble, hairy fruit contains properties that can prevent, or even cure, a wide range of ailments from heart disease to Alzheimer’s. They haven’t convinced everyone: the Heart Foundation strongly disputes their claims and says coconut oil in particular is an unhealthy saturated fat and should be avoided. But retired CSIRO scientist and honorary research fellow at the University of Queensland, Mike Foale, says the Heart Foundation has got it wrong. Foale has been studying the coconut palm for more than four decades and believes coconut is a superfood. “There is both scientific and abundant anecdotal evidence of great health benefits, including increased energy, weight loss, natural antibiotic activity, cholesterol reduction and insulin stabilisation,” Foale says. While the popularity of bottled coconut water could be described as a fad, Foale is a devotee of the oil. “Coconut oil is a staple for millions of tropical coastal people worldwide and those people do not suffer from heart disease while on their traditional diet,” he says. THE CASE FOR COCOUNT “Coconut oil is the healthiest oil on earth,” says Dr Bruce Fife, who runs the Coconut Research Center in the US. While...

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4 ways to keep yourself young

Everyone wants the secret to living longer. But, guess what? There isn’t just one way to prevent aging. Here are some tips that may help keep you young. 1. Always wear sunscreen. Applying it daily will reduce the sun’s harmful effects on your skin – and make you appear younger. Use a product that has UVA and UVB protection. This will ensure you are blocking out both the cancer-causing and aging rays. 2. Try to eat a Mediterranean diet. Consuming vegetables, olive oil, fish and wine – in moderation – has been shown to slow an aging mind. This type of nutrition is also linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. 3. Exercise in order to stay sharp. Doing crossword puzzles, reading and catching up with friends will work your brain muscles. Don’t forget to incorporate some physical activity into your day as well. 4. Reduce stress. Deep breathing exercises, such as yoga, or even a change of pace, can help. Keeping your anxiety at bay will ward off signs of aging. If you are stressed, you will look and feel much older....

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Brisk walking can cut risk of heart-related conditions as much as running

Washington: Brisk walking can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as much as running, a new study has revealed. Researchers analyzed 33,060 runners in the National Runners` Health Study and 15,045 walkers in the National Walkers` Health Study. They found that the same energy used for moderate intensity walking and vigorous intensity running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and possibly coronary heart disease over the study`s six years. “Walking and running provide an ideal test of the health benefits of moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running because they involve the same muscle groups and the same activities performed at different intensities,” Paul T. Williams, Ph.D., the study`s principal author and staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Life Science Division in Berkeley, California said. Unlike previous studies, the researchers assessed walking and running expenditure by distance, not by time. Participants provided activity data by responding to questionnaires. “The more the runners ran and the walkers walked, the better off they were in health benefits. If the amount of energy expended was the same between the two groups, then the health benefits were comparable,” Williams said. “Walking may be a more sustainable activity for some people when compared to running, however, those who choose running end up exercising twice as much as those that choose walking. This is...

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Nurses trained as life coaches for teenage mothers

TEENAGE mothers are to be given their own personal nurses to act as mentors for up three years advising them on everything from breast feeding to keeping their boyfriend. A new class of family nurse, earning up to £40,000 a year, is to be trained to offer relationship and family planning advice and even career support to 16,000 teenage parents from deprived backgrounds. They will combine elements of the role currently served by community midwives and health visitors with more specialist one-on-one advice ranging from teaching them how to cook for their children to helping them give up smoking and drugs. The Government hopes that the £17.5 million project will prevent child abuse and domestic violence and reduce the chances of babies themselves growing up to become troubled youths. It is based on a scheme in the US which, according to studies, had a dramatic impact on the levels of child abuse and crime. Following a pilot scheme, the “Family Nurse Partnership” is to be almost doubled in size with almost 1,000 specialist nurses....

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Indian neem tree could hold promise for cancer patients

Washington: Neem tree, which has been used for centuries to treat inflammation, fever and malaria in India, could help kill cancer cells, according to scientists at the Georgia Regents University Cancer Center. Cancer cells typically avoid death by hijacking molecular chaperones that guide and protect the proteins that ensure normal cellular function and then tricking them into helping mutated versions of those proteins stay alive, said Dr. Ahmed Chadli, a researcher in the Molecular Chaperone Program at the GRU Cancer Center and senior author of the study. Drug development has focused on the chaperone Hsp90 (heat shock protein 90) because it plays a key role in assisting mutated proteins, making it an attractive cancer drug target. However, the clinical efficacy of Hsp90 inhibitors has been disappointing. Most current small molecules targeting Hsp90 have inadvertently resulted in the expression of proteins that protect cancer cells from programmed cell death and compromise the Hsp90 inhibitors in the clinic. In this study, however, Chaitanya Patwardhan, a graduate student in Dr. Chadli`s lab, found that gedunin, a compound extracted from the Indian neem tree (Azadirachta indica), attacks a co-chaperone, or helper protein, of Hsp90 called p23. “This compound binds directly to p23, leading to inactivation of the Hsp90 machine-without production of anti-apoptotic proteins-thus killing cancer cells,” explained Dr. Chadli. “The idea here is that this will open a door for new ways of...

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Five point increase in BMI `raises heart risk by 23 pc in women`

London: Each five-unit increase in BMI raises incidence of heart disease in women by 23 per cent, a study has claimed. A team of researchers from Oxford University followed the health of 1.2 million women in England and Scotland with an average age of 56, over the course of a decade. They found that on average, one in eleven lean, middle aged women with an average BMI of 21 are going to be hospitalised or die of heart related disease between the ages of 55 and 74, the Telegraph reported. The study also found that as women`s BMI increased, so did the risk of heart disease reaching one in six for obese women, whose BMI was 34 on average. According to the World Health Organisation , a “normal” BMI is between 18.5 and 25 but the research found that even within this range, the risk of developing heart disease grew steadily higher as BMI increased. The risk of dying from heart disease was lowest at BMIs between 20 and 25, then increased steadily until 32.5 when it began to accelerate much more rapidly. Dr Dexter Canoy, who led the study, said that the risk of developing CHD was raised even with small incremental increases in BMI, and this is seen not only in the heaviest but also in women normally not considered obese. He said that small changes in...

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Tomatoes, grapes may help cure sunburn

Melbourne: In a new study, Australian researchers will determine if extracts from tomatoes and grapes can bolster the skin’s ability to fend off UV damage and improve its ability to repair following UV exposure. The study is being launched by the Australasian Research Institute, the research arm of the Sydney Adventist Hospital, according to News.com.au. “UV damage is a big problem in Australia. If we can improve your repair process we can limit the number of mutations that can be potentially carcinogenic,” the site quoted research scientist Olivia Szeto as saying. Grapes and tomatoes were selected because they contain carotenoids and polyphenols, which have been shown to have powerful antioxidant properties. According to Szeto, the researchers are hopeful results would be available early next year. Earlier a UK study had found that lycopene – an anti-oxidant that causes the red pigment in tomatoes and other vegetables – was the key to tomatoes’ anti-ageing qualities and could guard against sunburn....

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Morning smoking may up cancer risk: study

Smoking a cigarette immediately after waking up in the morning may increase the risk of developing lung or oral cancer, a new study has warned. “We found that smokers who consume cigarettes immediately after waking have higher levels of NNAL – a metabolite of the tobacco-specific carcinogen NNK – in their blood than smokers who refrain from smoking a half hour or more after waking, regardless of how many cigarettes they smoke per day,” said Steven Branstetter, assistant professor of biobehavioural health in Pennsylvania State University. According to Branstetter, other research has shown that NNK induces lung tumours in several rodent species. Levels of NNAL in the blood can therefore predict lung cancer risk in rodents as well as in humans. In addition, NNAL levels are stable in smokers over time, and a single measurement can accurately reflect an individual’s exposure. Branstetter and his colleague Joshua Muscat, professor of public health sciences, examined data on 1,945 smoking adult participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey who had provided urine samples for analysis of NNAL. These participants also had provided information about their smoking behaviour, including how soon they typically smoked after waking. The researchers found that around 32 per cent of the participants they examined smoked their first cigarette of the day within 5 minutes of waking; 31 per cent smoked within 6 to 30 minutes of...

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Papaya could help lower heart attack risk

Karachi: A group of students from University of Karachi has explored health benefits of papaya and discovered some facts about the delicious tropical fruit, including its usage in lowering chances of heart attack and controlling diabetes. During the research, final year students of BS, Agriculture and Agribusiness Department, KU – Mariam Naseem and Muhammad Kamran Nasir – also discovered numerous advantages of papaya seeds. Naseem explained that juice of papaya seeds is every essential to protect kidney from becoming dysfunctional because seeds contains flavonoids and phenotic, which provides prevention from germs of such diseases. Besides this papaya seeds can also protect from number of infections and could also be used to clean intestines insects, she added. She cited that in Nigeria, 76.7 percent children got rid from intestines insects by drinking juice of papaya seeds in seven days. People in Japan also believed that liver could be protected from diseases with usage of one teaspoon of papaya seeds, Naseem said. It seeds can be used with milk to avoid typhoid disease and it can also cure from hemorrhoids-kind diseases. Papaya seeds also contain a special compound, which helps to stop formation of tumor, Naseem added. Nasir, the other researcher, said papaya contain huge amount of vitamin C, potassium, calcium, iron, thiamin and magnesium. He noted that enzyme papain in papaya gives relief from indigestion and gastric problems, and added...

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Vitamin D important during pregnancy

Low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy are associated with an increased risk of complications in mothers-to-be and low birth weight in their newborns, a new study finds. The research shows an association but doesn’t prove that insufficient vitamin D causes complications. Still, taking vitamin D supplements may help reduce these risks, the researchers noted. Researchers examined data from 31 studies published between 1980 and 2012. The studies had between 95 and 1 100 participants. The analysis revealed that pregnant women with low levels of vitamin D were more likely to develop gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) and preeclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in the urine). They were also more likely to have a low birth weight baby. The findings are “concerning” given recent evidence that low levels of vitamin D are common during pregnancy, particularly among vegetarians, women with limited sun exposure and those with darker skin, the researchers said. The body makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Other sources include supplements and certain types of foods, such as fish. Milk is usually fortified with vitamin D. While the study identified a significant association between low vitamin D levels and an increased risk for pregnancy complications, further research is need to determine whether programmes to boost vitamin D levels in pregnant women would reduce those risks, the researchers at the University of Calgary...

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