Living Well on God's Green Earth
Here are some health tips from recent science research.
Organic really is better: A new study reported by Nature agrees that organic produce tends to have more nutrients and less pesticide residues. This represents a shift in opinion. “Existing evidence suggests there are no real health benefits from eating organic food compared to conventionally grown produce,” the report says. “Now a review of the scientific literature concludes that organic consumers may be getting their monies worth; it claims that organic food is more nutritious than conventionally grown fodder.” As usual, there are skeptics of the report. Tip: products need to be “certified organic,” though, because the term “organic” like “all natural” is subject to abuse by some unscrupulous sellers.
Antioxidants may not be better: Contradicting a long-standing truism comes news reported on Science Daily that antioxidants may be a false hope to prevent cancer and other health problems. In fact, they might accelerate cancers, the article claims! Antioxidants from supplements and food apparently do not accumulate in the parts of the cell where they can provide any benefit in stopping runaway tumor growth. The researchers from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory suspect that ingesting more antioxidants may actually do more harm than good.
Probiotics can cure some diseases: Live Science lists four conditions that probiotics have been shown to treat: antibiotic-associated diarrhea, infectious childhood diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, and pouchitis. Another Live Science article addresses probiotics myths, and a third Live Science article provides safety tips for probiotics use. But what happens when good gut bacteria get sick? Medical Xpress talks about that. For those able to handle the squeamishness of the idea, some serious gut problems like C. difficile infections have been completely cured by the relatively new concept of fecal transplants (Science Daily).
Short intense workouts: Science Daily added new information to the trend in short, intense workouts. A new study from the Scripps Institution campus in Florida finds that the benefit apparently derives from a protein named CRTC2 that “integrates signals from two different pathways — the adrenaline pathway and the calcium pathway, to direct muscle adaptation and growth only in the contracting muscle.”
Build exercise into your routine: Health experts at Queensland University of Technology confirm what we all know: exercise is the best medicine. Science Daily says that the researchers, dealing primarily with women, think that doctors should prescribe exercise just like the prescribe medicine. “What we are saying is that high-intensity exercise is not only good for your physical health but also your brain health,” they say. “Doctors should be developing exercise programs that are home-based and easy to incorporate as part of everyday activities.”
Farms as healthy environs: Want to reduce by half your kids’ chances of developing irritable bowel disease? Have them grow up on a farm with livestock, Science Daily says. Farm kids had far less incidence of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, researchers found. One expert said, “It is extremely exciting that we can now see that not only allergic diseases, but also more classic inflammatory diseases appear to depend on the environment we are exposed to early in our lives.”
Send the kids out the door: Are your kids getting 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) each day? That’s what the World Health Organization recommends, according to Science Daily. New research published in the Journal of Pediatrics “confirmed that time spent outdoors after school was positively associated with MVPA.” So it’s OK to tell the young ones, “Go play outside.”
Avoid unnecessary antibiotics: Despite the known risks, doctors continue prescribing antibiotics at an alarming level, Medical Xpress warns, much of them unwarranted. These are leading to “superbugs,” antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Medical Xpress is concerned that we may be approaching the end of the antibiotic era. Be very cautious about letting your doctor prescribe antibiotics for you unless absolutely necessary, if no other options exist. They also take a big toll on your healthy gut flora.
Straight talk on gluten: Is the low-gluten craze for you? New Scientist gives some advice about who needs the gluten-free diet, and how much is unsupported hype.
Keeping healthy food fresh: PhysOrg presents some natural ways to make produce last longer.
Always take health tips with a grain of salt. We say that metaphorically, because salt is an example of a substance that experts can never agree on. One decade it’s bad, now it’s good again. Expert opinion about salt, caffeine, gluten and other things seesaws back and forth over years. Some found out recently that the government’s “food pyramid” taught to a generation of schoolkids did not have good science to support it. None of the above reports should be considered the last word on the subject.
When it comes to specific foods, supplements, or types of activity, what works for others may not work for you. General principles, though, have stood the test of time: stay active, eat a variety of foods and nothing to excess, and keep your weight at an acceptable level for your body type. Your body is a masterpiece that will likely serve you well on God’s green earth if you do your part.