This is default featured slide 1 title
This is default featured slide 2 title
This is default featured slide 3 title
This is default featured slide 4 title
This is default featured slide 5 title
 

Monthly Archives: February 2018

Pill Bottle Warnings Often Go Unnoticed

Those colorful warning labels on vials of medication don’t always capture a patient’s attention, especially if the patient is older, researchers found.

When groups of older and younger participants were tested on their ability to notice information on medication vials, just 54 percent of the older group fixed their gaze on the prescription warning labels, compared with 91.8 percent of the younger participants, according to Laura Bix, PhD, of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., and colleagues.

And that means that many older patients simply fail to remember their contents and act on them, Bix and colleagues argued online in PLoS ONE. The finding may help to explain why older patients — who often take several medications — are at greater risk for adverse drug events.

The researchers tested two age groups — 15 volunteers ages 20 to 29, and 17 volunteers ages 51 to 77 — for their ability to notice the information on the vials, using eye-tracking technology to see what parts they examined.

In addition, they were tested on how well they remembered what they had looked at, Bix and colleagues reported.

The vials had different-colored warning labels, a white pharmacy label, and a cap with opening instructions.

The color of the label had no effect on the probability that participants would notice it.

As was the case with noticing the warning labels, a similar difference between older and younger patients was seen for the vial cap — 2.4 percent of the older population and 24.4 percent of the younger group looked at it.

On the other hand, 100 percent of both groups looked at the white pharmacy label.

To test recall, participants were presented with a sheet of 10 warning labels and asked which had been on the five vials they had examined, Bix and colleagues reported.

Recognition differed significantly between age groups, with a probability of correctly identifying the warning labels of 68.5 percent for the younger group and 53.6 percent for the older participants.

But when the researchers analyzed the results using a model that included whether participants had actually fixed their gaze on the colored warning labels, the effect of age disappeared.

The volunteers were significantly more likely to recognize the labels if they had fixated on them first. Specifically:

  • When participants fixated on the warning labels, recognition rates were 61.7 percent for young adults and 54.0 percent for the older group.
  • When they failed to fixate on the labels, rates were low — 23.9 percent for the younger group and 9.5 percent for the older volunteers.

In other words, Bix and colleagues argued, the differences in recall appear to be a result of differences in paying attention to the labels in the first place.

Interestingly, that lack of attention was common — when handed five vials in succession, only half of the volunteers fixated on all five warning labels and 22 percent did not fixate on any, the researchers reported.

They concluded that the first step in getting warning messages across is to design labels that will attract attention, and only after that should wording and content be tweaked.

6 foods that can damage your metabolism

Soda

One of the main reasons soda gets a bad rap is because it’s sweetened with a little something known as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS, a sweetener found in many of America’s highly processed foods and soft drinks, is as damaging as it is cheap. It has been argued that Fructose consumed in the same quantities as other sugar has more damaging effects on the metabolism (making it an even more sinister commodity).  A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutritionfurther explained the link between HFCS and obesity. HFCS may lead to obesity because of its negative effects on the metabolism. In fact, consuming high fructose corn syrup can cause something called “metabolic syndrome,” which is basically a group of risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Therefore, drinking a glass of soda can directly hurt your metabolism.

Margarine

Fortunately most sources of trans fat are off the market, but they can still be found in stick margarine and baked goods. The trans fats in the margarine can wreak havoc on your metabolism because they can lead to insulin resistance (which is when the body can’t use insulin effectively). Insulin is a hormone used in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, and insulin resistance results in slower metabolism and weight gain, especially around the abdomen, as it causes our bodies to store fat more easily.

White Bread

White bread and other simple carbohydrates are easily broken down by the body because the fiber (which slows digestion) has been removed during processing. The body does not have to burn any extra calories to try to break down these easy-to-digest-foods, leaving your metabolism operating at a slower level. Foods that are high in fiber like whole wheat bread ramp up your metabolism due to the extra work required to try and break down the indigestible fiber.

Farmed Beef (vs. Grass-Fed)

Conventionally farmed beef can hurt our metabolisms. Conventionally farmed beef has more antibiotics than grass-fed beef. For years, we were unaware what deleterious effects the antibiotics would have on our health. One study published inFront Public Health explained the harm antibiotics have on the good bacteria in the gut of consumers. This change in bacteria in the gut is correlated with an increase in weight gain, as it changes and negatively affects the way we process food. Simply stated, consuming antibiotics from meat can make us gain weight. Our recommendation is to choose grass-fed meat as much as possible.

Conventional (non-organic) apples

Organic fruits are more expensive for more reasons than one. One study published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology showed the toxic effects of pesticides from fruits and vegetables actually caused metabolic changes (by increasing the rate at which fat cells were made) in mice, causing them to gain weight. This means the mice were eating “healthy” fruits and vegetables in the same quantities as the organic control group and were STILL gaining weight. This illustrates the metabolic changes in the mice directly from the pesticides. To limit exposure to pesticides, when it comes to the “Dirty Dozen,” (the fruits and vegetables which are most likely to soak up pesticides and bad bacteria) buy organic. To further limit pesticide exposure be sure to wash all fruits and vegetables well after purchase.

Canola/Vegetable oil

Although previously touted as a health food, canola oil is actually quite the opposite. That’s because it’s a major source of omega-6 fatty acids, which may lead to a slower metabolism.  Whereby the American diet used to be balanced in both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, a push towards higher processing has left our country filled with vegetable oils and hydrogenated fats (high sources of Omega-6), which are pro-inflammatory, and the consumption of these are correlated with obesity. A review published in the journal Nutrients explained that “A high omega-6 fatty acid intake and a high omega-6/omega-3 ratio are associated with weight gain in both animal and human studies, whereas a high omega-3 fatty acid intake decreases the risk for weight gain.” The review further explains that omega-6 fatty acids promote insulin resistance (where our body turns too much of our carbohydrates into fat) and leptin resistance (leptin is the hormone which tells us when we are full; if we are resistant, we never feel full). To limit omega-6s in your diet, switch canola oil out for olive oil.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Researchers found that people with the highest blood levels of these essential fatty acids — found in fish such as salmon and tuna — were more likely to perform well on tests of mental functioning and to experience less age-related brain shrinkage.

“We feel fatty acid consumption exerts a beneficial effect on brain aging by promoting vascular health,” said study lead author Dr. Zaldy Tan, an associate professor in the Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and the division of geriatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles. This might include reducing blood pressure and inflammation, he added.

Previous research linked dementia risk with the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in blood plasma, which reflects how much people had eaten in the past few days. But in the current work, researchers could estimate the amount of omega-3s that participants had consumed in the past several months by looking at how much had built up in their red blood cells.

“This represents their average intake of fatty acids, not just a snapshot,” Tan said.

The study, published in the Feb. 28 issue of the journal Neurology, did not prove that omega-3 fatty acids prevent mental decline, merely that there may be an association between consumption of fatty acids and brain health.

For the study, researchers measured the red blood cell level of fatty acids in 1,575 dementia-free people whose average age was 67. About three months later, participants underwent mental-functioning tests and MRI scans that examined brain size and blood supply in the brain.

The participants were in the Framingham Offspring Study, which is predominately white. Whether the association would apply to other ethnic and racial groups needs to be explored, the authors said.

The researchers found that those with the lowest levels of omega-3s had worse scores on tests of visual memory, attention and abstract thinking than people who ranked in the top 75 percent for fatty acid levels.

Adults in the bottom 25 percent also tended to have smaller brains overall. The decrease in brain volume was enough to make their brains appear two years older than those of people in the top three quarters for fatty acid levels.

Brain scans also showed signs of less blood supply in the brains of people with the lowest omega-3s levels. This suggests they may play a role in promoting general vascular, or blood vessel, health in the brain, similar to how they are thought to help heart health, rather than acting on just one brain area, Tan said.

The researchers took into account various health and lifestyle factors, including age, education and weight, to explore whether other differences among the people with low levels of omega-3s could help explain their more rapid brain aging.

But after controlling for those risk factors, “the difference [in brain aging] is still there so we conclude that omega-3 fatty acids likely explain them,” Tan said.

However, Tan added that it remains possible that factors they did not control for, such as fruit and vegetable consumption, are really responsible for the brain benefits. Another possibility is that the slight mental decline that the people in the older brain group were experiencing caused them to eat less healthy omega-3 rich foods, instead of vice versa.

“This is a strengthening of the argument that people with less [omega-3 fatty acids] have higher risk of dementia,” said Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas, associate professor of neurology at Columbia University in New York City.

But questions remain over whether fatty acid levels really influence changes in brain size, Scarmeas added. A clinical trial comparing high and low intake of omega-3s in relation to brain imaging would help answer those questions, he said.

In the meantime, fish is “a good prescription for other things and we have a hint it might be helpful for the brain,” Scarmeas said.

That the current study reported a difference in brain health between people with omega-3 fatty acid levels in the bottom 25 percent and top 75 percent suggests that there is a threshold level of consumption to attain brain gains.

A previous study in which participants filled out food surveys found decreased risk of vascular brain problems among those who ate at least three servings of fish a week.