Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Increased Dietary Fiber Consumption Dramatically Lowers Risk of First Stroke Event

Incidence of stroke in the US and western cultures continues to grow at a staggering rate as it takes the lives of nearly 150,000 Americans each year, making this debilitating illness the fourth leading cause of preventable death. Closely aligned with heart disease and other vascular disorders, stroke is the result of several key modifiable lifestyle factors including smoking, lack of regular exercise and poor dietary choices that promote arterial hardening and blood clots that circulate until they reach a narrowed artery, wreaking permanent disability or death.

Dietary Fiber Improves Blood Lipids and Removes Excess Fats to Lower Stroke Risk
A research team from the University of Leeds in the UK has published the result of a study in the American Heart Association journal, Stroke that explains how taking steps to include more fiber in your diet could help to protect you from suffering a stroke. The study team leader, Dr. Diane Threapelton noted “Most people do not get the recommended level of fiber, and increasing fiber may contribute to lower risk for strokes… we must educate consumers on the continued importance of increasing fiber intake and help them learn how to increase fiber in their diet.

The recommended daily intake for fiber is currently set at 25 grams, yet most people eat less than 10 grams due to the high number of calories consumed from an increasingly refined diet. Food processing removes most nutrients and fiber from foods, while fortifying with added sugars, fats and flavorings to prompt immediate taste satisfaction. Dietary fiber (soluble and insoluble) comes from plants, a critical food source that is grossly lacking in many western diets.

Dramatically Lower Stroke Risk by Including Ten Daily Servings of Fiber
Scientists focused on eight large-scale studies published over a 22 years span that assessed the impact of diet on both ischemic (caused by a blood clot) and hemorrhagic (caused by blood vessel leakage) stroke. After adjusting for risk variables such as smoking and age, the researchers found that for every seven gram increase in fiber consumed daily, risk of first time stroke goes down by seven percent. You would need to consume 6 to 8 servings of grains and 8 to 10 servings of vegetables and fruits daily to yield 25 grams of fiber.

Dr. Threapelton concluded Greater intake of fiber-rich foods such as whole-grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts are important for everyone, and especially for those with stroke risk factors like being overweight, smoking and having high blood pressure. Top sources for dietary fiber include nuts and seeds, legumes, oats, the pulp of some fruits, broccoli and carrots. Eliminating refined convenience foods will allow you to incorporate sufficient fiber from natural sources to significantly lower the risk for a first stroke event.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Seven Lifestyle Habits that Significantly Lower Both Cancer and Heart Disease Risk

The incidence and etiology of many forms of cancer and the development of cardiovascular disease run on a parallel course as they are both the result of lifestyle habits that are well within our control. It comes as no big surprise that scientists have created a list of seven healthy practices that can dramatically lower the risk of developing either one of these illnesses that account for more than half of all deaths in the US each year. Many of these identified lifestyle habits fall within the realm of common sense, yet millions of men, women and children fail to regularly follow more than one or two habits, placing them at considerable risk for future disease and early mortality.

Lifestyle modifications slash chronic disease risk by lowering inflammation and improving health biometrics
A group of researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago have published the results of a study in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation that explains how following the American Heart Association's Life's Simple 7 steps to reduce your risk for heart disease can also help prevent cancer. Lead study author, Dr. Laura J. Rasmussen-Torvik said “We were gratified to know adherence to the Life's Simple 7 goals was also associated with reduced incidence of cancer… this can provide a clear, consistent message about the most important things people can do to protect their health and lower their overall risk for chronic diseases.”

The team identified the seven critical lifestyle habits that promote a healthy heart as: being physically active, keeping a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, keeping blood pressure down, regulating blood sugar levels and not smoking. To assess the impact of these habits on cancer risk, the researchers analyzed the health records of 13,253 men and women who were involved in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, which tracked the seven risk factors and the participants’ health outcomes since 1987.

Dramatically Lower Your Risk for Developing Chronic Life-Threatening Diseases
The participants were interviewed at the outset of the study to establish how closely they followed the established heart disease lifestyle risk factors. After a period of twenty years, researchers reviewed hospital records and cancer registries and discovered that 2,880 of the participants were diagnosed with cancer of the lung, colon, rectum, prostate or breast. Scientists found that the incidence of cancer closely paralleled following fewer lifestyle habits, as compared to participants that did not develop the illness.

The team determined that people who followed six of the seven health metrics had a 51 percent lower cancer risk than the participants who did not meet any of the steps. When smoking was removed as a factor, participants who followed five to six of the health steps had a 25 percent lower cancer risk. Dr. Rasmussen-Torvik concluded This adds to the strong body of research suggesting that it is never late to change, and that if you make changes like quitting smoking and improving your diet, you can reduce your risk for both cardiovascular disease and cancer.” Health-conscious individuals already follow the identified healthy lifestyle practices, but it certainly makes sense to ensure that each of these habits is at the core of your daily regimen to dramatically lower risk of heart disease and cancer.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Scientists Explain Mechanism to Explain How Vitamin E Helps Prevent Cancer

Past bodies of research have suggested that vitamin E is an important nutrient in the age-old battle against many forms of cancer. A number of poorly constructed studies over the past five years have concluded that supplementation with vitamin E not only provides no health benefits, but may actually increase the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. As a result of the mainstream media’s desire to trumpet any type of negative information regarding natural compounds to prevent disease, many people remain cynical and avoid supplementing with the correct form of this crucial nutrient.

Vitamin E Influences Enzyme Action to Help Thwart Cancer Development
A team of researchers from Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center, publishing in the journal Science Signaling have identified an elusive anti-cancer property of vitamin E that has long been presumed to exist, but has been effectively buried under volumes of bad scientific evidence. Researchers working with prostate cancer cell lines demonstrated that one form of vitamin E inhibits the activation of an enzyme that is essential for cancer cell survival. The loss of the enzyme, called ‘Akt’, led to tumor cell death.

Lead study author, Dr. Ching-Shih Chen explained “This is the first demonstration of a unique mechanism of how vitamin E can have some benefit in terms of cancer prevention and treatment.” Chen and his team reviewed many past studies based on synthetic forms of vitamin E that concentrated a dominant isomer of the nutrient, Alpha-tocopherol. There are eight total isomers or mirror forms of vitamin E that are required in natural ratios to be effective against cancer development. Many of the prior studies were doomed to failure before they started because they used synthesized compounds instead of balanced vitamin E isomers.

Consume Nuts and Seeds Regularly and Supplement with a Full-Spectrum Vitamin E Source Daily
The research team, using a mouse model known to replicate human cell metabolism, tested different tocopherols and tocotrienols and found the gamma isomer of vitamin E exhibited the most potent anti-cancer activity. Gamma-tocopherol was found to be twenty times more effective than other forms of the vitamin in reducing the size of prostate cancer tumors.

This research suggests that gamma-tocopherol, working in concert with the full complement of vitamin E forms could help prevent and treat numerous types of cancer, especially those associated with a mutation in the PTEN gene, a fairly common cancer-related genetic defect that keeps the Akt enzyme active. Dr. Chen concluded “This is a new finding. We have been taking vitamin E for years but nobody really knew about this particular anti-cancer mechanism.” Sunflower seeds, almonds, pine nuts and spinach are all excellent food sources of vitamin E. Health-minded individuals may also want to supplement with 200 to 400 IU of a full-spectrum form daily to take advantage of the cancer fighting benefits of this misunderstood vitamin.