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Knowledge Update

Eating cheese may lower high blood pressure

​New York, Nov 7 (IANS) Consuming sodium in the form of a dairy product, such as cheese, may protect against some of sodium's effects on the cardiovascular system, such as high blood pressure, researchers say.

According to researchers, the protection comes from antioxidant properties of dairy proteins in cheese.

The results suggest that when sodium is consumed in cheese it does not have the negative vascular effects that researchers observed with sodium from non-dairy sources.

"We found that when participants ate a lot of sodium in cheese, they had better blood vessel function -- more blood flow -- compared to when they ate an equal amount of sodium from non-dairy sources -- in this case, pretzels and soy cheese," said Anna Stanhewicz, post-doctoral fellow at the Pennsylvania State University.

"The novel finding may have implications for dietary recommendations. Newer dietary recommendations suggest limiting sodium, but our data suggest that eating sodium in the form of a dairy product, such as cheese, may be protective," added Lacy Alexander, Associate Professor at the Pennsylvania State University.

For the study, the researchers fed participants dairy cheese, pretzels or soy cheese on five separate occasions, three days apart.

They then compared the effects of each food on the cardiovascular system using a laser-Doppler, which shines a weak laser light onto the skin.

Further, the study revealed soy served as an additional control to match the fat, salt and protein content from a dietary source that is not dairy-based.

Participants who had more nitric oxide-moderated dilation after eating dairy cheese, compared to after eating pretzels or soy cheese, the researchers observed, in the paper reported in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Early dinner may help you lose weight

New York, Nov 7 (IANS) Struggling to shed those extra kilos? Worry not, as a new study suggests eating dinner early by mid-afternoon and following it by an 18-hour daily fast or until breakfast the next morning may help with losing weight.

The new research revealed that eating a very early dinner, or even skipping dinner, may reduce swings in hunger, alter fat and carbohydrate burning patterns, which may help in losing weight.

"The study found that eating between 8.00 a.m. and 2.00 p.m. followed by an 18-hour daily fast kept appetite levels more even throughout the day, in comparison to eating between 8.00 a.m. and 8.00 p.m.," said lead author Courtney Peterson from Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana, US.

"Eating only during a much smaller window of time than people are typically used to may help with weight loss," Peterson added.

The body has a internal clock, and many aspects of metabolism are at their optimal functioning in the morning.

Therefore, eating in alignment with the body's circadian clock by eating earlier in the day can positively influence health, the researchers explained.

The study showed that although the early time-restricted feeding (eTRF) strategy did not affect the amount of calories burnt by participants, it reduced daily hunger swings and increased fat burning during several hours at night.

It also improved metabolic flexibility, which is the body's ability to switch between burning carbs and fats. Whether eTRF helps with weight loss or improves other aspects of health is still unknown.

"These preliminary findings suggest for the first time in humans what we've seen in animal models -- that the timing of eating during the day does have an impact on our metabolism," said Dale Schoeller, Professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, US.

The findings were presented at The Obesity Society Annual Meeting at the ObesityWeek 2016 in Louisiana.

Sleeping time linked to poor self-regulation among teens

​New York, Nov 6 (IANS) Poor self-regulation among teens is strongly associated with when one sleeps in relation to their body's natural circadian rhythm, finds a study.

According to the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, daytime sleepiness and being a night owl appear to be more strongly associated with poor self-regulation.

"The results of this study suggest it is not how long you sleep that has the biggest impact on self-regulation, but when you sleep in relation to the body's natural circadian rhythms and how impaired you are by sleepiness," said Judith Owens, Director of the Sleep Center at Boston Children's Hospital, US.

The researchers analysed 2,017 surveys completed by 7th to 12th graders from 19 middle and high schools, where students completed questionnaires about sleep and self-regulation, including cognitive aspects, behavioural aspect and emotional aspects.

Nearly 22 per cent of the students reported sleeping less than seven hours on school nights.

Sleep duration, daytime sleepiness and chronotype were clearly interconnected -- night owls slept less on school nights and were subsequently sleepier in the daytime, as were those who slept for fewer hours.

But when the researchers examined all three aspects of sleep and adjusted for age, socio-demographic factors and mental health conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression and anxiety, it was daytime sleepiness and "night owl" tendencies that independently predicted impaired self-regulation -- while sleep duration did not.

Sleepier adolescents reported significantly worse self-regulation, as did teens who tended to be "night owls" rather than "morning larks".

The findings held for all types of self-regulation but were most robust for cognitive and emotional aspects.

"The misalignment or mismatch between early school start times and teens' circadian rhythms -- which normally shift later with puberty -- may worsen self-regulation or so-called executive functioning," Owens added.

Fitness may guard you against stress related health issues

​London, Nov 3 (IANS) If you are physically fit and in good shape, you may be well-guarded against the health problems that arise when you feel particularly stressed at work, a study says.

The findings showed that a high fitness level offers particularly effective protection for professionals who experience a high degree of stress in the workplace -- known as psychosocial stress.

Psychosocial stress is one of the key factors leading to illness-related absences from work. This type of stress is accompanied by impaired mental well-being and an increase in depressive symptoms.

It also raises the likelihood of cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and an unfavourable blood lipid profile.

Conversely, a high fitness level is associated with fewer depressive symptoms and fewer cardiovascular risk factors, the researchers said.

"The study is significant because it is precisely when people are stressed that they tend to engage in physical activity less often," said Markus Gerber, Professor at the University of Basel in Switzerland.

Further, in the individuals who were stressed showed particularly large differences between those with a high, medium, and low fitness level.

For example, when stress levels were high, the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol -- or the bad cholesterol -- values exceeded the clinically relevant limit in employees with a low fitness level, but not in those with a high fitness level.

By contrast, where the exposure to stress was low, far smaller differences were observed between fitness levels.

To promote a physically active lifestyle, a high priority should be attached to the systematic measurement of cardiorespiratory fitness and the provision of theoretically sound and evidence-based physical activity counselling, the researchers stated.

In addition, the study also has direct implications for the therapy and treatment of stress-related disorders, Gerber said.

It therefore pays to stay physically active, especially during periods of high stress, the researchers noted in the paper published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (MSSE).

An egg a day can reduce risk of stroke

​New York, Nov 2 (IANS) Consuming an egg -- nutrient-rich source of high quality protein -- per day may lead to a 12 per cent reduction in risk of stroke, a new research shows.One large egg boasts six grams of high-quality protein and antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, found within the egg yolk, as well as vitamins E, D, and A, the study said.

"Eggs do have many positive nutritional attributes, including antioxidants, which have been shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. They are also an excellent source of protein, which has been related to lower blood pressure," said lead researcher Dominik Alexander of the EpidStat Institute, Michigan, US.

For the study, the team conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies dating back between 1982 and 2015.

They evaluated relationships between egg intake and coronary heart disease in 2,76,000 participants and stroke in 3,08,000 participants.

"The study underscores prior research, showing the lack of a relationship between eggs and heart disease and now suggests a possible beneficial effect of eating eggs on risk of stroke," added Tia M. Rains, Interim Executive Director of the Egg Nutrition Center -- the scientific research arm of the American Egg Board.

The findings were published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Regular exercise and healthy diet can help you stay sharpvvvvv

​Toronto, Nov 2 (IANS) People who engage in regular physical activity and consume plenty of fruits and vegetables are likely to stay sharp even in their old age, suggests new research.

"Factors such as adhering to a healthy lifestyle including a diet that is rich in essential nutrients, regular exercise engagement, and having an adequate cardiovascular profile all seem to be effective ways by which to preserve cognitive function and delay cognitive decline," said one of the researchers Alina Cohen from York University in Toronto, Canada.

This study examined cross-sectional data from 45,522 adults, 30 years of age and older, from the 2012 annual component of the Canadian Community Health Survey.

Cognitive function was assessed using a single six-level question of the Health Utilities Index, which assessed mental processes, such as thinking, memory, and problem solving.

Participants were analysed by their age, level of physical activity, body mass index and daily intake of fruit and vegetables.

Using general linear models and mediation analyses, researchers assessed the relationship between these factors and participants' overall cognitive function.

The results, published in the Journal of Public Health, showed that higher levels of physical activity, eating more fruits and vegetables, and having a body mass index (BMI) in the normal weight (18.5-24.9 kg/m2) or overweight range (25.0-29.9 kg/m2) were each associated with better cognitive function in both younger and older adults.

Treadmill running with heavier shoes may slow you down

​New York, Oct 29 (IANS) Love to notch up the race numbers on the treadmill each day? Be careful, as running with heavier shoes may slow your race times, researchers have found.

The study found that running times slows when shoe weight is increased, even if only by a few ounces.

For the study, the researchers from the University of Colorado-Boulder in the US brought 18 runners, measured energy consumption and 3,000-metre race times in runners wearing shoes of various weights.

To measure running economy, each participant ran on a treadmill using three pairs of nearly identical shoes, with subtle differences.

Unknown to the runners, the researchers added small lead pellets inside the tongues of two of the three pairs of shoes to be used by each runner.

While one pair was normal, each shoe of another pair was made 100 grams heavier and a third pair was loaded with 300 grams of lead pellets per shoe.

Each of the runners ran treadmill tests in which oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production were measured with all three differently weighted shoe pairs.

The results showed that energy costs of the runners rose by about 1 per cent with each extra 100 grams of shoe weight.

On the other hand, when shoe mass is reduced, by compromising with cushioning for example, it doesn't mean you will run faster, said lead author Wouter Hoogkamer, postdoctoral student at University of Colorado-Boulder, adding "Lighter is not always better."

Prior studies have also shown that proper cushioning also reduces the energetic cost of running.

So when selecting footwear, be aware of this trade-off between shoe mass and cushioning, concluded the researchers in the paper published online in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise

Smartphone app may help you avoid a visit to dentist

New York, Oct 28 (IANS) Your smartphone may soon be able to help you avoid an unnecessary trip to the hospital in case of a dental emergency, thanks to a new app developed by researchers in the US.

The novel mobile application enables smartphones to capture and transmit images from inside the mouth, along with details on the dental emergency, to provide the information dentists need to make a decision on what -- and how urgently -- care is needed.

The new app, called DentaCom, guides individuals with real or suspected dental emergencies through a series of questions designed to capture clinically meaningful data via familiar smartphone functions.

"There are many challenges here that our app can help with," said study senior author Thankam Thyvalikakath from Indiana University.

"It is a challenge for the patient to get the dental emergency appropriately managed, and not just treated by painkillers in a busy hospital ER by a clinician who is not a dental specialist. It is also a challenge for the dentist to get details of the problem," said Thyvalikakath, who was at the University of Pittsburgh at the time of the study.

In the study, all participants were able to complete a guided report on their dental emergency and take photos of the problem region within four minutes.

All clinical information was successfully entered by prospective patients via DentaCom, said the study published in The Journal of the American Dental Association.

Dental emergencies frequently occur when dental offices are closed. Patients often turn to hospital emergency departments or urgent care centres.

But most patients who go to these facilities are simply treated for their pain and referred to their dentist for proper care during office hours. Valuable time may be lost before actual treatment is received, and the patient is billed for the emergency or urgent care visit in addition to whatever dental fees will be incurred.

The new app can help patients avoid these problems.

Social media competition may push people to exercise more

​New York, Oct 27 (IANS) Want to exercise more? Start competing with your peers on online health programmes, researchers say.

Their study found that social media competition can dramatically increase people's fitness.

"Framing the social interaction as a competition can create positive social norms for exercising," said lead author Jingwen Zhang, Assistant Professor at the University of California, Davis.

Social competition among people may go beyond exercise, to encouraging healthy behaviours such as medication compliance, diabetes control, smoking cessation, flu vaccinations, weight loss, and preventative screening, as well as pro-social behaviours like voting, recycling, and lowering power consumption.

On the other hand, friendly support make people less likely to go to the gym less than simply leaving them alone, the study said.

"Supportive groups can backfire because they draw attention to members who are less active, which can create a downward spiral of participation," added Damon Centola, Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the US.

In the competitive groups, people frame relationships in terms of goal-setting by the most active members.

"These relationships help to motivate exercise because they give people higher expectations for their own levels of performance," Centola said.

In a competitive setting, each person's activity raises the bar for everyone else. Social support is the opposite: a ratcheting-down can happen. If people stop exercising, it gives permission for others to stop, too, and the whole thing can unravel fairly quickly, the researchers explained.

For this study, the team recruited nearly 800 graduate and professional students from the University of Pennsylvania to sign up for an 11-week exercise programme all managed through a website the researchers built.

Competition motivated participants to exercise the most, with attendance rates 90 per cent higher in the competitive groups than in the control group.

The study was published in the journal Preventative Medicine Reports.

Air pollution may cause damage in blood vessels

​New York, Oct 26 (IANS) Increased exposure to air pollution may cause damage and inflammation to blood vessels among young and healthy adults and thus raise the risk of cardiovascular disease and other related deaths, say researchers, including one of Indian-origin.

The study revealed how air pollution actually affects the blood vessels to increase the risk of disease, which was previously unknown.

The researchers found that periodic exposure to fine particulate matter was associated with several abnormal changes in the blood that are markers for cardiovascular disease.

As air pollution rose, they found small, micro-particles indicating cell injury and death significantly increased in number, levels of proteins that inhibit blood vessel growth increased, and proteins that signify blood-vessel inflammation also showed significant increases.

"Although we have known for some time that air pollution can trigger heart attacks or strokes in susceptible, high-risk individuals, the finding that it could also affect even seemingly healthy individuals suggests that increased levels of air pollution are of concern to all of us, not just the sick or the elderly," said Aruni Bhatnagar, Professor at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, US.

"These findings suggest that living in a polluted environment could promote the development of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke more pervasively and at an earlier stage than previously thought," Bhatnagar added.

Healthcare providers should consider the cardiovascular effects of air pollution on all patients, not just those who are ill or elderly, the researchers suggested.

For the study, investigators analysed the component of air pollution known as fine particulate matter (PM2.5) -- the tiny pieces of solid or liquid pollution emitted from motor vehicles, factories, power plants, fires, and smoking in 72 healthy, non-smoking, adults.

The results were published in the journal Circulation Research.