BAD DIET = BAD HEALTH…EVEN FOR CHILDREN!

As scientists around the world continue their pursuit of knowledge of the human body and how it works, the evidence supporting the connection between poor diet and disease continues to mount.

One new area of research that’s sounding an ominous alarm is the increasing occurrence of “age-onset” diseases of the elderly occurring more and more in the young. The fact is that disease conditions that used to be exclusive to the elderly are now being discovered for the first time in children.

This trend has health experts across the globe calling for immediate action to correct the dietary disasters known to be the cause. The most recent discovery that has the global medical community abuzz is the increasing diagnosis in children of Metabolic Syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that point to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including obesity, high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose and LDL cholesterol, and low HDL cholesterol.

Writing in the December 2006 edition of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, researchers state, “Unfortunately, as the population becomes less active and more obese, we’re seeing a rise in this constellation of risk factors for cardiovascular disease.” It is currently estimated that as much as 25% of the adult population suffers from Metabolic Syndrome. The fact that it is occurring at all in children is an indication that something is very wrong. The problem, according to this research, is too little activity coupled with poor diet.

The solution therefore is to not only get ourselves but our children active and take control of our weight by reducing the fat content and “glycemic load” in our diets. Avoid fast, processed, calorie dense foods and eat a healthy diet – one that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish and in order to ensure the daily abundance of vital nutrients without all the calories, we must look to whole food-derived supplementation.

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Onion compound linked to lower blood pressure

A new study, published in the Journal of Nutrition (November 2007, Volume 137, Pages 2405-2411) titled “Quercetin Reduces Blood Pressure in Hypertensive Subjects”, is said to be the first to report the blood pressure-lowering activity of this flavonol. The study found that a supplement of quercetin (naturally occurring component of onion) led to significant reductions in the blood pressure of 22 people with high blood pressure.

Red Onions contain quercetin a flavonol found to lower high blood pressure

The randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, considered to be the gold-standard for experimental interventions, adds to an ever-growing body of reported health benefits for quercetin. The flavonol was previously linked to reduced risk of certain cancers. Building on science from animal studies reporting a potential hypotensive (blood pressure lowering) role for the flavonol, researchers from the University of Utah recruited 19 men and women with pre-hypertension (average BP 137/86 mmHg) and 22 hypertensives (average BP 148/96 mmHg). The subjects were randomly assigned to receive a daily supplement of quercetin or a placebo for 28 days. Lead author Randi Edwards and co-workers report that the hypertensives receiving the quercetin supplement experienced reductions in systolic and diastolic BP of 7 and 5 mmHg, respectively, compared to placebo. No BP changes were observed in the pre-hypertensives as a result of either intervention.

Specific whole foods of the allium family such as onions and garlic have a long history of being associated with cardiovascular benefits. This new evidence further clarifies one way onions support heart health by working to lower elevated blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.

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Garlic and Vitamin-C: Good for your blood pressure.

Publishing in the journal Nutrition Research scientists showed that a combination of garlic and vitamin-C are effective in helping those with marginally elevated blood pressure to get it down. They reported that while garlic alone provided some benefit, vitamin-C alone did not. But when the two are combined a significant reduction in blood pressure was noted. They pointed out that the blood pressure of their subject decreased when garlic and vitamin-C were delivered together and increased when the supplements were taken away. (Nutrition Research; Volume 27, Issue 2, pages 119-123, March 2007)

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Lutein and zeaxanthin – new links to cardiovascular health!

Foods rich in highly colored pigmens of red, orange, and yellow are rich sources of carotenoids

Lutein is a yellow-to-orange pigment or phytochemical found mostly in plants and works as an antioxidant in your body to reduce the damage done by free radicals. Lutein is a carotenoid and is related to vitamin A. Other carotenoids include beta carotene, alpha carotene and zeaxanthin.

The first research to show a positive connection between the carotenoid lutein to heart health came in a 2001 issue of Circulation (vol. 103, pp. 2922- 2927). Now researchers from Sweden have found yet another strong link. Publishing in the February 2006 issue of Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease (doi: 10.1016/numecd.2006.02.2006) the researchers pointed out that people suffering from coronary artery disease are consistently found to have low levels of the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and beta cryptoxanthin. Conversely, they found that the healthy persons in the control group had significantly higher levels of these carotenoids in their blood. They think it’s connected to immune function because of higher levels of natural killer cells (NK cells) in the people with higher levels of these carotenoids. “This finding suggests a specific link between certain carotenoids, oxidative stress, and immune perturbation imbalance in Cardiovascular Disease,” said lead researcher Caroline Lidebjer from the University Hospital at Linkoping, Sweden.

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Don’t overlook minerals on “Your Heart Health plan!”

Though the research on whole foods – including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish – may and their relevance to cardiovascular health currently overshadow studies on minerals, new research on minerals is happening. Here are some examples:

Magnesium: Is it an anti-inflammatory mineral?

Research published in the journal Nutrition Research (vol. 26, pp 193-196) indicates that it is. Using a blood chemistry marker associated with heart disease and inflammation known as C-reactive protein (CRP) researchers showed that magnesium has anti-inflammatory actions in the body. Elevated C-reactive protein CRP is a consistent indicator of chronic inflammation because it is one of the bodies “signalling molecules.” The higher and longer the inflammation exists, the higher the CRP values. “Previous research has indicated that dietary magnesium may be a key component in the association between diet and inflammation” proffers lead study author and Medical University of South Carolina professor Dana King. “The key finding in this study is that magnesium intake from supplements has an impact on the likelihood of having elevated C-reactive protein.” People with dietary magnesium intake below the required daily allowance (RDA) were found to have a 40% higher risk of elevated CRP.

Zinc is an anti-inflammatory mineral too!

Because zinc has long been known as an important building block of natural antioxidant enzymes made in the body, such as glutathione, peroxidase, and super oxide dismutase, it is thought of as a “protector mineral.” Two recent studies further support zinc’s critical importance. The September 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutrition (vol. 135, pp 2114-2118) reported that zinc deficiency was associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease through inflammation. New research published online in the March 2006 issue of the journal Free Radical Biology in Medicine (doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2006.03.017) further supports the oxidation/inflammation risk of deficiency.

Depleted soils and industrialized farming have combined to reduce the mineral content of many foods previously rich in essential minerals. Minerals are a key link in the Chain of Life and assuring deficiencies don’t exist is a smart health move for all.

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High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy

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Although many pregnant women with high blood pressure have healthy babies without serious problems, high blood pressure can be dangerous for both the mother and the baby. Women with pre-existing, or chronic, high blood pressure are more likely to have certain complications during pregnancy than those with normal blood pressure. However, some women develop high blood pressure while they are pregnant (often called gestational hypertension).

The effects of high blood pressure range from mild to severe. High blood pressure can harm the mother’s kidneys and other organs, and it can cause low birth weight and early delivery. In the most serious cases, the mother develops preeclampsia – or “toxemia of pregnancy”–which can threaten the lives of both the mother and the baby.

What Is Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a condition that typically starts after the 20th week of pregnancy and is related to increased blood pressure and protein in the mother’s…

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Calcium: a possible key regarding hypertension and pre-eclampsia risk during pregnancy

A large scale review of studies of calcium intake and risk of hypertension and pre-eclampsia during pregnancy suggests this is an important discussion for women to have with their obstetrician. The review, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2006, issue 3), quotes lead author Dr. G. Justus Hofmeyr, “The findings of the review are that calcium supplementation reduces the risk of hypertension for pregnant women who have inadequate dietary calcium.” In support of these findings, independent pre-eclampsia expert Dr. John Repke, Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Penn State University College of Medicine commented “Calcium supplementation may be of some benefit in reducing morbidity (death) associated with pre-eclampsia and it does no harm.”

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