Sunday, April 19, 2009

Diabetic Study Shows Laughter is Good for the Heart

Laughter has been studied as a way to better health. Laughter Yoga clubs have been gaining popularity worldwide. Diabetes is associated with an increased risk for heart disease, and a new study shows that laughter is literally good for the heart. Laughter can reduce heart disease risk among diabetics. The study showed that regular laughter lowered all markers of inflammation among the diabetics studied, resulting in a lower risk of heart disease.

Laughter induces the release of beta-endorphins, improving mood. Laughter also releases the beneficial hormone HGH (human growth hormone), necessary for optimal cellular function.

Diabetics who chose funny videos to watch for twelve months were compared to diabetics who received standard medical care alone. Both groups of diabetics received medication for diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure management throughout the study.

Researchers Lee Berk, DrPH, MPH, a preventive care specialist and psychoneuroimmunologist, of Loma Linda University, and Stanley Tan, MD, PhD an endocrinologist and diabetes specialist at Oak Crest Health Research Institute found that the diabetics, who regularly engaged in laughter from watching self-chosen humorous videos, were able to raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels, and lower stress hormones after two months.

After twelve months, the diabetics who regularly laughed had a twenty-six percent increase in HDL cholesterol. C-reactive protein levels (a marker of inflammation) was lowered by sixty-six percent as the result of laughter. Compared to the diabetics who received standard medical treatment alone, and not prescribed a regular regimen of laughter, the scientists saw a three percent rise in HDL, and a twenty-six percent reduction in C-reactive protein.

The study builds on previous research about the beneficial health effects of laughter. Dr. Berk, a pioneer of laughter studies beginning in the 1980’s says, “The best clinicians understand that there is an intrinsic physiological intervention brought about by positive emotions such as mirthful laughter, optimism and hope.
"Lifestyle choices have a significant impact on health and disease and these are choices which we and the patient exercise control relative to prevention and treatment,” sats Berk.

Regular laughter, combined with a positive outlook is now shown to be good for the heart – seen in the newest study that included twenty high-risk diabetics who lowered their risk of heart disease as a result of regular laughter.

Enjoy a heart healthy laugh:


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rejection Teaches us to Spot a Phony Smile

Can you spot a phony smile? If so, you may be feeling rejected.

Last year Psychological Science published a study (October 2008), showing that social rejection improves one’s ability to recognize a phony smile.

Psychologist Michael J. Bernstein and his colleagues from Miami University set out to see how well rejected individuals could identify a phony smile. The researchers asked a group to think about a time they felt isolated socially. Another group was asked to think about a time when they were included in social activities, and felt accepted. As a control, a third group was asked to merely think about what they did the previous morning.

The group of psychologists then showed movies to the study participants. Some movies contained people smiling genuinely, while others displayed fake smiles. The results showed that socially rejected people were better able to spot a phony smile.

The researchers concluded that rejected people are more motivated to sniff out disingenuous behaviors, like a phony smile. Conversely, detecting genuine smiles might mean a chance for acceptance.

“It seems essential to detect legitimate signs of positivity that indicate possible reaffiliation with other people. Otherwise, rejected individuals could miss out on new chances for acceptance or 'waste' affiliation efforts on people who are not receptive."

Feelings of social acceptance lead to better overall physical and mental health. Avoiding people with phony smiles should simply make us all feel better.

Can you spot a phony smile?


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Help Cancer Patients Maintain Muscle Mass

A new study shows that omega 3 fatty acids can prevent loss of muscle mass and preserve body composition in patients who undergo surgery for esophageal cancer.

Scientists from Dublin conducted a randomized double-blind study to find astonishing effects of omega 3 fatty acids for helping cancer patients maintain muscle mass following lengthy and usually debilitating major surgery for cancer of the esohagus.

Lead researcher John V. Reynolds, Professor of Surgery at Trinity College Dublin and St James’s Hospital and colleagues compared nutritional supplements given to cancer patients before and after cancer surgery. The study showed that a purified form of EPA from Omega 3 fatty acids, given orally in liquid form, resulted in preservation of muscle mass. Patients who were given a nutritional boost without omega 3 fatty acids experienced weight loss comprising 100% loss of muscle mass.

Dr. Reynolds explains, “The surgery is a serious operation lasting several hours and can take weeks to recover from surgery and up to six months to recover pre-illness quality of life. Weight loss is extremely common both before and especially after this type of surgery, and any approach that can preserve weight, in particular muscle weight and strength, may represent a real advance”.

Dr. Reynolds suggests that omega 3 fatty acids, given five days before any major surgery, immediately after, and for three weeks thereafter, could help any patient having major surgery recover more quickly. Maintaining muscle mass after major surgery led to fewer complications, less inflammation and fever, quicker recovery among the group who received omega 3 fatty acids. The purified EPA from omega 3 fatty acids used in the study was more expensive, but in the end, the researchers say omega 3 fatty acids, used as nutritional support for surgery patients, could save health dollars.

For the study, the researchers used two types of nutritional supplements with the same amount of calories, protein and other nutrients, beginning five days before the patients were scheduled for surgery for esophageal cancer. One group took the omega 3 fatty acid supplement.

For fourteen days after cancer surgery of the esophagus, nutrition was given to the patients through a feeding tube. Both groups continued nutrition for three weeks after surgery. The patients given omega 3 fatty acids maintained body composition, but the control group had severe weight loss after esophageal cancer surgery, losing an average of four pounds of muscle mass.

Dr Aoife Ryan PhD, a research dietitian at St James’s Hospital, Dublin says the benefits seen from omega 3 fatty acids among the cancer patients are significant.

“The results were extraordinary in the sense that no previous nutritional formulation had revealed such an outcome, with supplemented patients maintaining all aspects of their body composition in the three weeks following surgery. Patients given the standard supplement without omega 3 lost a significant amount of weight comprising 100% muscle mass. In fact, 68% of patients suffered ‘clinically severe’ weight loss post surgery in the standard group (without omega 3) versus only 8% in the omega 3 group. The significant finding was that the patients did not lose just fat, as one would expect with weight loss, but instead they depleted their muscle stores significantly. Research has shown that a loss of 5lbs of weight produces significant effects on quality of life and a patient’s ability to mobilise and perform simple activities of daily living. Losing 4 lbs of muscle is even more significant”.

The researchers would like to see more studies to determine whether nutritional supplementation with omega 3 fatty acids, given throughout cancer treatment should be considered. He says the findings are unlikely to be unique to patients who undergo cancer surgery. Any patient in need of major surgery for problems unrelated to cancer might benefit from the added nutritional provided by omega 3 fatty acids including liver transplantation or major cardiac surgery.

Source: Trinity College Dublin

You can buy essential fatty acids from: Good Health USA, including Krill oil, Eskimo oil, and Hemp oil. Omega 3 fatty acids have many benefits including promotion of good cholesterol levels. Omega 3 fatty acids control inflammation in the body. Omega 3 fatty acids also reduce the risk of heart disease, and may also help protect men from developing advanced prostate cancer.

Never take nutritional supplements that can interfere with bleeding or other medications without your doctor's knowledge. ◦

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sports Drinks not so Healthy for Teeth

According to a new study, from NYU dental researchers, sports drinks that are widely consumed as healthy alternatives to soda may not be so healthy for your teeth.

The study shows that the citric acids in sports drinks weaken tooth enamel, leading to a condition known as erosive tooth wear. The more sports drinks you consume, the greater the risk of tooth erosion, and soft teeth.

Dr. Mark Wolff, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Cariology & Comprehensive Care at New York University College of Dentistry says this is the first study performed to measure the effect of sports drinks and dental health. It might be the citric acid in sports drinks responsible for tooth erosion.

The scientists used cow’s teeth to study the effect of the sports drinks on tooth enamel, cutting the cow’s teeth in half, then submerging one-half in water, and the other half in a sports drink. The tooth soaked in the sports drink showed a significant amount of enamel erosion, probably from the citric acid in the sports drink.

“To prevent tooth erosion, consume sports drinks in moderation, and wait at least 30minutes before brushing your teeth, to allow softened enamel to re-harden," says Dr. Wolff. Limit consumption of sports drinks to keep your teeth healthy, avoiding erosion of tooth enamel now associated with sports drinks.

Sports drinks may be healthier than soft drinks for your body, but not for the health of your teeth. Acid-neutralizing remineralizing toothpaste might protect from erosive tooth wear associated with sipping sports drinks, and can be discussed at the dentist's office.