- How This Broccoli Enzyme Can Slow Aging
- Stop Trying to Fix Your UTI With Cranberry Juice
- 11 Underrated Salad Greens And How to Eat Them
- Teen Depression and Anxiety: What Parents Can Do
- The Forgotten Side of Cancer Care
- Read a Novel: It’s Just What the Doctor Ordered
- Teen Depression and Anxiety: Why the Kids Are Not Alright
- Average American Seafood Intake Increased by a Pound Last Year
- These Common Chemicals Are Linked to Type-2 Diabetes: Study
- ‘Patient Zero’ Not the Source of HIV in the U.S., Study Finds
Posted: 27 Oct 2016 09:27 AM PDT
The quest for the Fountain of Youth is getting a boost from an international team of researchers who appear to have stumbled upon an enzyme that appears to make cells act younger than they are—at least in mice.
In a paper published in Cell Metabolism, researchers led by the Washington University School of Medicine reported that they found a compound that can balance out what happens in aging cells to essentially make them behave as they would in a younger mouse. That compound, as it turns out, is also found in a number of natural foods, including broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage and edamame.
The enzyme, called nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), is involved in producing another compound that is critical for energy metabolism. When they gave normal aging mice infusions of NMN, they made more of that energy-fueling compound and some of the biological problems associated with aging went away. The NMN-treated animals did not gain as much weight, they were able to convert food into energy more efficiently, their blood sugar was better—even their eyesight improved. The mice receiving NMN were also able to prevent some of the genetic changes associated with aging.
Most lab mice live just several years, so the researchers started the NMN treatments at five months, and continued them for a year. The study did not track whether the mice actually live longer, but with lower rates of age-related disease, that’s the assumption.
“If you do the math, it wouldn’t say it’s impossible entirely but probably very difficult to get the whole amount [you need] simply from natural foods,” says Dr. Shin-Ichiro Imai, professor of developmental biology and medicine at Washington University and senior author of the paper.
The results are encouraging enough that part of the team, based at Keio University in Tokyo, is launching an early study on people — using supplements of NMN in pill form. “It’s clear that in humans and in rodents, we lose energy with age,” says Imai. “We are losing the enzyme NMN. But if we can bypass that process by adding NMN, we can make energy again. These results provide a very important foundation for the human studies.”
The findings are also in line with other anti-aging compounds that have shown promise in animal studies, including things like the diabetes drug metformin, rapamycin and sirtuins, all of which are also involved in energy-making process. “All of these pathways cross-talk with each other,” says Imai. “We don’t know the precise details of how, but they are communicating with each other.”
The hope is that the human studies will add provide even more information about how to keep cells young — and maybe halt, or at least hold off, the diseases that typically creep in as cells get older and lose their function.
Posted: 27 Oct 2016 08:00 AM PDT
There’s a certain conventional wisdom that has emerged about urinary tract infections (UTI) that says using cranberry products to treat urinary tract and bladder problems can work. It dates back to the native Americans, and in modern days, has been picked up by naturopaths—and the cranberry industry.
But the science supporting the role cranberries can play in fighting off bacteria in the urethra is less than conclusive. Some studies—one sponsored by cranberry juice maker Ocean Spray—supported the role that 10 oz of cranberry cocktail can play in lowering rates of UTIs, especially among older nursing home residents who often experience infections. Some research also pointed to a tannin found in cranberries that can inhibit certain bacteria from attaching to the bladder and establishing an infection, but other studies haven’t shown any benefit. The studies among younger women are equally conflicting, but many women still think that drinking cranberry juice can treat their UTI.
In the latest study, published in JAMA, researchers led by Dr. Manisha Juthani-Mehta, an associate professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine, and her colleagues, wanted to address some of the limitations of the previous studies that might have contributed to their conflicting results.
For her study, Juthani-Mehta used cranberry’s most potent components in capsule form, which would allow half of them women to take the equivalent of 20 oz of cranberry juice a day. The other half took a placebo. The two were followed over a year, and had their blood and urine tested every two months for presence of bacteria associated with UTI.
The capsules did not seem to do much for either reducing the amount of bacteria in the women’s urine, or for lowering the number of UTIs during the study; both the women taking the cranberry capsules and the placebo had similar rates of both.
The findings should, says Juthani-Mehta, put to rest whether cranberry products should be part of medical strategies for lowering UTI rates. “My findings point in the direction that cranberry products, when studied scientifically, are not able to show real benefit for UTI.” She acknowledges, however, that some women may feel it helps lower their risk of symptoms or infection, and says “I don’t see much down side, even if I don’t think the scientific evidence is convincing.”
Juthani-Mehta says that the results should prevent people on fixed incomes from spending money on cranberry products that may not help them; antibiotics are effective in treating UTIs, and ensuring that their resources are spent in seeing a doctor and getting the proper tests to verify a UTI would be more useful.
Posted: 27 Oct 2016 07:28 AM PDT
Salad greens are nutritional all-stars: They’re packed with vitamins (including A,B, and K) and are rich in minerals your body needs (like potassium, iron, calcium, and magnesium). Salad greens’ pigments, known as carotenoids, can lower cancer risks and keep your bones strong. Also, a cup of greens can clock in at less than 10 calories. Show-offs!
Not only can we vote them most likely to succeed in your diet, but salad greens are also super versatile; they make a healthy base for your salad, they can give your sandwich a crunch, they can be snuck into stir-fry or pasta dishes, and even replace a burger bun.
Since you should be eating more greens (your mom agrees with us), there’s no reason to limit yourself to the usual suspects. And while we love kale, there are other options that are so low on the nutritional totem pole (ahem, iceberg lettuce!) that we insist you try a green you don’t usually stick your fork into. These lesser-known leafy greens are worthy of a dinner invite.
1. Mustard greens
You don’t need to season your mustard greens because they naturally come with a built-in punch of pepper. Mustard greens count as a cruciferous veggie, says Jackie Newgent, RDN and author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook. That means the greens have anti-inflammatory and cancer-preventive properties.
“You can actually enjoy these greens like you might spinach, but when you want more of a peppery kick,” Newgent says. “They’re best when prepared with olive oil or another healthy fat and a pinch of salt to balance the sharp-tasting ‘bite.'”
2. Swiss chard
Popeye, if you get tired of spinach, give Swiss chard a try. Same goes for anyone who is on the hunt for a good source of iron. Swiss chard is in the same family as spinach and is hearty enough to be sautéed. Plus, it’s naturally loaded with polyphenol antioxidants, including syringic acid (which may help manage blood sugar levels) and kaempferol (which can play a heart protective role in the diet), Newgent explains. Her suggestion: Shred or finely chop it as a salad green, then pair it with a dried fruit, nut, and cheese. Think Swiss chard with dried cranberries, roasted pistachios, and goat cheese, plus a vinaigrette of choice.
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3. Butter lettuce
Mmm, butter. Trust us, this green isn’t trying to dupe you, either, with its indulgent name. Butter lettuce has a soft, creamy texture (for lettuce, that is!) and is almost sweet, says Tara Coleman, clinical nutritionist. It’s also high in vitamin A, which helps you maintain healthy, glowing skin, she says. A one cup serving packs more than half of your daily requirements of vitamin K, which helps maintain healthy bones.
“Butter lettuce is small in size, which makes it a great topping for sandwiches and easy to shred for salads,” Coleman says. “However, its shape and flexibility make it a perfect candidate for lettuce wraps. Its creamy flavor complements a saltier dish and it holds up much better than the other crunchier lettuces.”
4. Beet greens
Tell your other greens to just “beet it.” While the beetroot itself has amazing health benefits, beet greens actually have a higher nutritional content than the root, says Jaime Anton, a certified plant-based nutrition consultant. “The greens have a higher percentage of iron than spinach, as well as providing huge doses of vitamin A, which can help reduce free radicals and strengthen the immune system,” she says. Beet greens also pack a healthy amount of vitamin K, which works with calcium to boost bone strength. “You can mix beet greens in with your salad, or use them in soups for an extra nutrient boost,” Anton suggests.
5. Dandelion greens
You may have had dandelion greens in a purifying tea or nutrient powder before. Move them up to the big leagues and put them in your salad bowl! Dandelion greens are one of the 20 Natural Diuretics and is a blood purifier, too. “In fact, arguments have been made that eating dandelion greens regularly may help reduce cancer risks as well as liver disease,” Anton says. “These greens have a higher calcium content than kale and are loaded with iron and vitamin K.”
Beware, though: Dandelion greens can be a bit bitter. Anton suggests adding them to salads mixed with less bitter greens like spinach or romaine. “Adding to soups and teas is also a great way to get your dose of these amazing greens,” she says.
Escarole holds no grudges: It’s far less bitter than other family members in the endive family. But it still promotes the benefits of bitter foods and is a natural way to improve digestion, according to Bastyr University. (Psst! Endive lettuces ranked higher than kale on a list of 47 superfoods, according to a William Patterson University study.)
So go ahead, drizzle escarole with some olive oil or even pair it with some fish that has healthy fats. Researchers at Purdue University found that by adding at least three grams of monosaturated fat, your body will better absorb the veggies’ do-good carotenoids.
Eat This, Not That!: 25 Easy Ways to Lose 10 Pounds
Radicchio: She’s not just a looker; she’s full of substance. “The lovely, white-veined red and purple hues of this low-calorie, nutritious superfood is a giveaway that this leafy variety of the chicory class of vegetables is an extraordinary antioxidant powerhouse,” says nutrition and fitness expert Janet Brill, author of Blood Pressure Down. Bonus: Lactucopicrin, which makes radicchio bitter, can serve as a natural painkiller.
And radicchio is game not just for cold salads; it can hold its own on the grill, too. “Try grilling chunks, seasoned and flavored with extra virgin olive oil,” Brill suggests. Radicchio’s bitter taste mellows out when it’s grilled or roasted.
Sounds worldly, yes? Well, this green is popular in France and is kind of fancy-schmancy with its curly greens. A member of the chicory family, frisee is also slightly nutty. It could be a lifesaver, too; a single cup of frisee contains 235 mg of antioxidant-rich polyphenols, which can help you live longer. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that those who eat 650 mg of polyphenols have a 30 percent greater chance at living longer than those who consume less.
Pro tip: Grill your frisee to bring out its sweetness and hide the bitterness, or tame it with a tangy vinaigrette.
9. Collard greens
Consider collard greens the Southern gentleman you want at your dinner table. Collard greens are a member of the cancer-fighting Brassica family of veggies, like cauliflower and kale, says Brill. “Low in calories, yet packed with impressive amounts of protein, fiber, and tons of other vital nutrients, this traditional Southern side dish should make an appearance on all Americans’ plates for better health.”
You can eat collard greens raw with salads, pairing with a dijon mustard dressing. Or, Brill suggests seasoning and sautéing the greens in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and with fresh tomatoes.
This dark green leaf with narrow white stalks also goes by the aliases California Peppergrass and Spider Mustard. One cup of the stuff will deliver about two-thirds of the vitamin C you need for the day, according to Jessica Crandall, RD, and nutritionist with the Denver Wellness Center. Mizuna is a little bit spicy, with a mild peppery flavor—so once you get enough of it in salad form, Crandall suggests adding it to a miso soup or any vegetable soup toward the end of the cooking time.
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The cutesy, dark green leaves of cress are often used as garnishes. But they’re begging to be put in a salad. You’ll get your daily dose of vitamin A and 90 percent of your vitamin C from just 1 1/2 cups of cress, according to Crandall. It has a hint of tangy flavor and you can eat cress like you would sprouts—on soups, salads or sandwiches. You can also throw it in a salad with mixed greens, add it to a stir fry, or give your other leaves a leave of absence from the blender and toss cress into your next green smoothie.
Posted: 27 Oct 2016 04:05 AM PDT
If you’re worried about an adolescent and aren’t sure what to do, you can this advice from Fadi Haddad, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and the author of Helping Kids in Crisis. To read more about adolescents, depression and anxiety, check out our cover story, The Kids Are Not All Right.
Talk about the real stuff
Sometimes conversations between parents and teens can be all about achievements, schedules and chores. Go beyond that. Find out what keeps them up at night, and ask, “What’s the best part of your day?” Become attuned to their emotional world so that you understand what their dreams are, what they struggle with and how their life is going.
Give them space, but pay attention
Give teens space to grow and separate from you, but also watch for changes in behavior. Are they giving up activities they used to enjoy? Are they staying up all night or eating differently? Is your outgoing kid now withdrawn? If you’re worried, say so. Show interest in their internal life without judgment.
Resist getting angry
When parents learn a teen has been hiding something or is having behavior issues, the response is often anger or punishment. Instead, see what’s going on. If a kid is acting out or doing things like self-harming, skipping school, respond with compassion first. Say, “It seems like you’re having trouble, I’m here to help. Tell me what’s happening with you.”
Don’t put off getting help
If you’re worried about an adolescent, talk to a school counselor, therapist or doctor. It’s better to get help early, rather than when trouble has firmly taken hold.
Treat the whole family
When a kid is in crisis, many times it’s not enough to treat the child—you have to change the family dynamic. It’s possible that something about the home environment was causing the child stress, so be open to acknowledging that and getting family counseling if needed.
Learn more about adolescent mental health, including where to find help.
And, for the teenage perspective on mental health, check out this short film.
To see what depression looks like through the eyes a teenager, have a look at this award-winning short film written and directed by Faith-Ann Bishop, the subject of TIME’s recent cover story on teens, depression and anxiety. She wrote the film when she was 15 as part of a program called Project AWARE in partnership with Acadia Hospital, both based in Maine. More than 30 other teenagers participated in the project. Bishop is now 20 years-old and a film student in Los Angeles.
Posted: 27 Oct 2016 03:29 AM PDT
It’s well-established science that reading boosts vocabulary, sharpens reason and expands intellectual horizons. But the latest round of research on the benefits of literature focuses on how it improves not our IQ, but our EQ.
Book lovers profess a deep emotional bond with books, and scientists are increasingly looking to explain just what it is about fiction that improves our mental health. Three years ago, researchers at the New School for Social Research found a link between what psychologists call “theory of mind”–basically, the ability to know what another person is thinking or feeling–and reading a passage of literary fiction (distinguished from popular fiction). Participants who read passages from short stories were found to score better on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET), an assessment that asks participants to look at photos of subjects’ eyes and identify what they’re feeling (for instance: arrogant, annoyed, upset or terrified). Headlines proclaimed that reading even a few pages of a short story could instantly improve your ability to empathize with your fellow man.
Turns out, that might be a bit of a stretch: in September, researchers tried to replicate that study and found no significant connection between reading a short passage and increasing empathy. But they did find a link between high theory of mind and a lifelong relationship with literature. Study participants who scored higher on the RMET were more likely to score high on the Author Recognition Test, which asks participants to check names on a list of 130 authors, half of which are bogus. Researchers subtract the number of fake authors identified by the participant from the number of real authors identified to gauge how familiar the person is with novelists, and therefore how well-read they probably are. So reading a few pages of a short story might not make you more empathetic, but being a devoted reader of literary fiction could.
Of course, correlation does not prove causation, and one of the lead authors, Maria Eugenia Panero of Boston College, says it’s “hard to know whether reading literary fiction increases theory of mind or if people who naturally have higher theory of mind are just more drawn to literary fiction.” It’s also possible that high empathy and a high interest in literary fiction feed off each other.
Being able to understand what other people are feeling is critical for building social relationships. So even though reading is a solitary activity, it could improve your social life. Another recent study, from the University of Münster, identified a separate social aspect of reading. “Heavy book users”–those who get through at least 18 books per year–flaunt their books in public or on living-room bookshelves as a way of communicating something about themselves in an effort to “shape identity and self-expression,” the authors wrote. This can take the form of differentiating oneself from others or relating to members of the same in-group.
Reading can also create an actual social bond between the reader and the characters–studies have found that fans of any fictional enterprise (not just books but TV series too) can feel real grief when a favorite character dies. The friendship is imaginary, but the emotional attachment is real–and it can have real-life implications. A 2012 study at the Ohio State University had registered undergraduates read different versions of a story in which the protagonist overcomes challenges in order to vote–like car troubles, bad weather and long lines. Those who read a version that led them to identify strongly with the character were more likely to vote in the real election a few days later–65% of them said they voted, compared with 29% who read a less relatable version of the story. In a small way, at least, reading affected their behavior.
At the School of Life in London, a cohort of bibliotherapists want to help people use fiction to change their lives on a more profound level. Bibliotherapy–more art than science–involves the prescription of novels “to cure life’s ailments,” says Ella Berthoud. Berthoud, an artist, and her friend Susan Elderkin, a novelist, met while studying at Cambridge and got into the habit of leaving books in brown paper bags outside each other’s dorm rooms to help them deal with the crisis of the week–romance problems, work stress and so on. They carried on the tradition for years and eventually decided it would be a useful service for others.
Berthoud, Elderkin and their associates are not trained as actual therapists, but their clients shell out £100 ($125) to spend 50 minutes with them, either in person or on a Skype or phone call. Besides a few devotees who come back again and again, most people use it as a one-time session–and frequently purchase a session for friends or relatives as a gift. Clients fill out a long questionnaire about what they like to read and what’s going on in their personal lives, then meet with the bibliotherapist to discuss in further detail. The bibliotherapist makes an “instant prescription” at the end of the session, then sends a list of six to eight books and the reasons for their recommendation a few days later. They say the feedback is 99% positive.
The prescriptions are primarily for fiction, and the advice contained therein is meant to be more emotional than technical. “Inhabiting a novel can be transformative in a way that using a self-help book isn’t,” says Berthoud. “There are certain books that have been really life-changing books for me,” says Elderkin, “and it’s generally a matter of luck whether you hit on the right book at the right time of your life, which can open a door and help you to see something in a new way, or just give you that next leap up into new maturity.”
Elderkin and Berthoud’s clients are frequently at a career crossroads: for this, they might prescribe Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, about siblings for whom a career change would be almost impossible. “It’s a lovely, lighthearted, this-guy-has-it-much-harder-than-you-and-he-still-manages-it type of kick up the backside,” Elderkin says. For women weighing whether to have children, they like The Accidental by Ali Smith. “It helps you think, Mmm, actually, this is making me think I’m really glad that I’m fancy-free and don’t have kids, or the opposite, as in, This is making me want to go for it while I can,” Berthoud says. For those struggling with a divorce, they suggest Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, which features one woman’s series of marriages, some more successful than others. Those in so-so relationships are sometimes prescribed Elizabeth von Arnim’s The Enchanted April, about two women in unhappy marriages who take a villa together in Italy. It “actually is great for almost everybody as an encouragement to not look outside for the problem and the blame,” says Elderkin, “but to see if you can come up with a constructive new energy level.”
Of course, all these novels speak to far more than just a single topic–Their Eyes Were Watching God, for instance, is a 20th century masterpiece that has much to say about not just love but also religion, race, feminism and folklore, in addition to being a practically perfect work of art. But it is exactly because these books are not reducible to a single theme or lesson that readers can get so much out of them. A truly great novel, Berthoud says, “gets into your subconscious and actually can change your very psyche from within.”
The science behind reading for mental health is limited, but researchers like Panero are eager to continue exploring the benefits. “I think we all have some sort of intuitive sense that we get something from [fiction],” she says. “So in our field, we’re interested in saying, ‘Well, what is it that we’re getting?'”
Even the greatest novel cannot, by itself, cure clinical depression, erase posttraumatic stress or turn an egomaniac into a self-denying saint. But it might ease a midlife crisis or provide comfort in a time of grief. As more science comes in, Elderkin says, it’s natural for readers to find it “satisfying when people come up with ‘proof’ of something which they’ve always felt to be true.”□
This appears in the November 07, 2016 issue of TIME.
Posted: 27 Oct 2016 03:25 AM PDT
Posted: 26 Oct 2016 04:14 PM PDT
The average American consumed 15.5 pounds of seafood last year, nearly a pound more than in 2014, according to a new government report.
Average fish consumption has fluctuated in recent decades, but the jump represents the most significant year-over-year increase in more than a quarter century. Researchers attributed the increase at least in part to a spike in consumption of canned fish products, particularly salmon.
The research, conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), reports that in total U.S. fishermen brought 9.7 billion pounds of seafood with a value of more than $5 billion to shore last year.
An increase in fish consumption should be encouraging to public health experts who have called on Americans to consume more seafood. The most recent dietary guidelines issued by the U.S. government recommend that adults consume 8 or more ounces of seafood each week (equivalent to 26 pounds annually).
Read More: Why Half of Edible Seafood Is Wasted
At the same time, fisheries will face a number of challenges—from overfishing to climate change—in the coming decades that researchers have suggested could lead many marine fisheries to disappear within a few decades. Researchers say that oversight and carefully constructed management plans could help prevent that decline—and perhaps even lead to an increase in fish production. NOAA has implemented management and rehabilitation plans in areas it oversees.
Posted: 26 Oct 2016 03:30 PM PDT
Common household chemicals found in a wide range of products from carpets to cleaning products can alter hormones and contribute to type-2 diabetes—likely costing Europeans billions of dollars annually, according to new research.
Scientists behind the study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, looked at data from seniors in the Swedish city of Uppsala on how exposure to chemicals known to disrupt the endocrine system, like phthalates, PCBs, pesticides and perfluoroalkyls, contributes to obesity and diabetes. Researchers used those findings to study the effects of chemical exposure on Europeans more broadly.
A 25% reduction in exposure to the chemicals studied would result in a 13% drop in cases of diabetes among seniors, according to the research. That would mean 150,000 fewer cases of diabetes and a savings of nearly $5 billion dollars annually.
The study, led by New York University researcher Leonardo Trasande, joins a growing list of research demonstrating the devastating effects of chemicals humans are exposed to on a daily basis. Endocrine disrupting chemicals are found in a wide array of everyday products including furniture, receipts and canned food, to name a few, and can disrupt many different bodily functions.
Read More: You Asked: Can My Couch Give Me Cancer?
Another paper published by Trasande last week suggests that household chemicals lead to $340 billion annually in treatment and lost productivity in the U.S. That figure is more than $100 billion lower in Europe, in large part to a different regulatory scheme, but significant problems remain.
Posted: 26 Oct 2016 02:35 PM PDT
Scientists using genetically-sequenced blood samples from people infected by HIV have exonerated the man known as “patient zero,” who was blamed for setting off the AIDS epidemic.
A genetic analysis of stored blood samples found that HIV came to the U.S. from a pre-existing epidemic in the Caribbean, which arrived in New York in the early 1970s and then spread westward a few years later, after infecting people in the city. Among the samples analyzed, one belonged to Gaëtan Dugas, a Canadian flight attendant who became known as ‘Patient Zero,’ in the book chronicling the AIDS epidemic And the Band Played On.
Researchers from the University of Arizona found that blood belonging to Dugas, who was long thought the source of the outbreak in North America, contained a viral strain of HIV already infecting men in New York before he visited gay bars in the city while working for Air Canada in 1974.
“We…found neither biological nor historical evidence that he was the primary case in the U.S.,” the researchers wrote in the study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
According to the researchers, Dugas was not originally referred to as ‘Patient Zero’; early studies of HIV called him ‘Patient O’ to signify that he was from “outside Southern California,” where the study originated. The ‘O’ was later misread as a zero, making it seem as though Dugas originated the epidemic, since ‘Patient Zero’ is commonly used to indicate the initial case in an outbreak.
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