Thursday, February 26, 2009

Eat Carbs Protein and Fat but Watch the Calories for Weight Loss

A new study shows that we can eat what we want, as long as we watch our calories. The results of a new study show that people given their choice of one of four diets all lost an average of 13 pounds in six months, sustaining weight loss after two years.

Emphasis on the diet consumed by study participants either focused on high fat high protein, high fat, average protein, low fat, high protein, or low fat, average protein.

A clinical trial led by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Pennington Biomedical Research Center of the Louisiana State University System, made a comparison of study participants who were overweight, following them for two years. The results showed that it did not matter whether the diet was low carb, high protein, low fat, or other, as long as calorie intake was controlled. The study also showed that dietary counseling helped those in the study group maintain weight loss.

Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) says, "These results show that, as long as people follow a heart-healthy, reduced-calorie diet, there is more than one nutritional approach to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.”

The study appears in the February 26, 2009 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, and included 811 men and women from minorities and various ethnic groups. The results also showed that the study participants had lower triglyceride and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and increased HDL (good) cholesterol as the result of losing weight by following a calorie restricted diet.

The combination of regular moderate exercise, and reducing calories helped everyone lose weight in the study. The group was also able to sustain weight loss. The results are encouraging when sifting through which diet works best for you. Remember to include fiber into your diet, to promote heart health and help with weight loss goals.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Scientists Warn of Staph and MRSA Risks from Marine Waters

Researchers from the University of Miami warn us of the risk of Staph and MRSA exposure from marine waters. MRSA (methicillin resistant staph aureus) has evolved from staphylococcus aureus bacteria that become over colonized and cause serious infections in animals and humans, and are resistant to treatment with methicillin.

Infections from MRSA have caused more deaths than HIV/and AIDS this year. Scientists continue to explore the health risks and sources of MRSA exposure. Researchers now warn of the health risks of Staph and MRSA, confirmed by cultures taken from a large public beach, and other marine water recreational areas to find sources of Staph and MRSA outside of hospital and community settings.

The study authors write, “Infections by MRSA are now the most common cause of skin and soft tissue ailments in people who go to the nation’s emergency rooms for care. As infections with these organisms increase, the search for all the sites or sources where they may survive and be shared among individuals is paramount”.

The hypothesis that recreational swimming might contribute to the spread of MRSA led the researchers to investigate 1303 adults for signs of staph infection and/or MRSA, comparing results between two groups randomly assigned as bather or non-bather.

The study results found a 37% association between staph infections, and a 2.7% association of contracting MRSA from other bathers at the beach. Dr. Lisa Plano, associate professor of pediatrics and microbiology and immunology at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine says, "Our study found that if you swim in subtropical marine waters, you have a significant chance -- approximately 37 percent - of being exposed to staph -- either yours or possibly that from someone else in the water near you."

In addition, the researchers confirmed that children in diapers, sand, and other bathers are also a source of Staph aureus and MRSA in small and large swimming areas using marine water.

Wash before and after swimming to reduce your risk of spreading and contracting MRSA or other staph skin infections. Be wary of swimming in public pools if you have open wounds or sores.

The study concluded, “These findings support our hypothesis and demonstrate that human health risks occur in non-point source recreational marine beaches,” from exposure to staph and MRSA.

Source: ◦

Friday, February 6, 2009

Zen Meditation Reduces Pain Sensitivity in Study Group

Researchers have discovered that Zen meditation reduces pain sensitivity in and out of meditation, when compared to others who do not meditate. The study, published in the January edition of Psychosomatic Medicine, explored the difference in pain perception brought about by the centuries old practice.

According to Joshua A. Grant, a doctoral student in the Department of Physiology, co-authored the paper with Pierre Rainville, a professor and researcher at the Université de Montréal, “While previous studies have shown that teaching chronic pain patients to meditate is beneficial, very few studies have looked at pain processing in healthy, highly trained meditators. This study was a first step in determining how or why meditation might influence pain perception."

The researchers enrolled thirteen skilled Zen meditators with at least 1,000 hours of Zen meditation practice. The participants underwent a pain test that was then compared to thirteen non-meditators. Ten women and sixteen men between ages of 22 to 56 were involved in the Zen meditation and pain study.

The pain test involved applying heat to the calves of the study group intermittently, and at various temperatures. The researchers observed lower pain sensitivity in the Zen meditators, both in and out of meditation, compared to those who did not meditate.

The authors say, “Slower breathing certainly coincided with reduced pain and may influence pain by keeping the body in a relaxed state. While previous studies have found that the emotional aspects of pain are influenced by meditation, we found that the sensation itself, as well as the emotional response, is different in meditators.”

Grant says, “If meditation can change the way someone feels pain, thereby reducing the amount of pain medication required for an ailment, that would be clearly beneficial.”

The study showed that Zen meditation may be a useful adjunct for treating chronic and acute pain. Zen meditation reduced pain intensity by eighteen percent even when the participants were not meditating.

Study finds Zen meditation alleviates pain