- Is Sprouted Food Actually Healthier?
- 4 Reasons Why Your Hair Is Turning Gray
- Older Moms May Live Longer
- Do You Need Both a Gynecologist and a Primary Care Doctor?
Posted: 18 Nov 2016 09:06 AM PST
All kinds of items at the health food store seem to have suddenly “sprouted”, including whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and chickpeas. But are they really more nutritious than non-sprouted plant foods? Read on to learn the basics about the trend.
Every sprouted food is a type of seed
When you think of seeds, you probably think of sunflower, pumpkin and chia seeds. But pulses—like chickpeas, split peas and black eyed peas—are also seeds. Technically, quinoa, oats and nuts qualify as well. All of these seeds can be sprouted. But what exactly does that mean?
Whether or not you have a green thumb, you’re probably familiar with how seeds work. They contain the raw materials that grow into a new plant when temperature and moisture conditions are just right. Sprouted foods are essentially just that: Seeds that have started to grow. To stop those baby plants from growing even more, the seeds are either dried or mashed and added to other products.
Health.com: 10 Healthy Chia Seed Recipes
Sprouted foods come in many forms
There are dried foods like sprouted almonds, and breads made with sprouted grains, seeds and beans. Sprouted grains are also mashed and rolled into tortillas and wraps. You can even find powders to add to smoothies or oatmeal. And while plenty of processed sprouted products are on the market (such as pretzels and cereal), be sure stick to ones that contain only natural ingredients.
They may be extra-nutritious
Seeds contain compounds that keep them from sprouting until conditions are right. But once a seed sprouts, those compounds are canceled out by a surge in enzymes. Those same enzymes make the nutrients in the seed more available, so the baby plant has the energy it needs to grow. The theory is that when we eat sprouted foods, their nutrients are more bio-available to us as well, and easier to digest.
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The research to date is promising
There aren’t a ton of studies on sprouted foods, but the ones that exist seem to support the idea that they pack an extra nutritional punch. Research has shown that sprouting boosts the antioxidant levels of brown rice, amaranth and millet, for example. And a study published in the journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition discovered that the fiber content of various types of brown rice increased by 6 to 13% after sprouting.
DIY sprouting can be risky
There are a lot of videos online that teach you how to sprout at home. But DIY sprouting may be dangerous unless you really know what you’re doing. For example, some seeds are treated with harmful chemicals, which get broken down in sprouting conditions. What’s more, the conditions required for sprouting happen to also be ideal for growing bacteria that can make you very ill, like salmonella, E. coli, and listeria. If you do experiment with DIY sprouting, I recommend cooking the final product (think sprouted lentil soup, or sprouted chickpea burgers). Otherwise, I advise sticking with brands like Food for Life and Go Raw, which have safe sprouting techniques down pat.
Posted: 18 Nov 2016 07:47 AM PST
Hate to break it to you, but someday, you’re going to start sprouting white hairs (that is, if you haven’t already). Most people spot their first silvery strands in their 30s, but when exactly you go gray boils down to your ethnicity—Caucasians tend to do so earlier than African Americans, for example—and your family history.
If you’re already seeing white hairs in your 20s, that’s not too unusual—especially if your mom or dad reached silver-fox status early, as well. However, if your locks start to lose pigment earlier than others in your family, there may be some environmental and lifestyle factors at play. We spoke with Marie Jhin, MD, a board certified dermatologist and director of Premier Dermatology in San Francisco, to explore the surprising reasons you could be going gray in your 20s.
You’re super stressed
Experts have debated the connection between stress and gray hair, but some research does show a link. A 2013 New York University study published in Nature Medicine, for example, found stress can cause the depletion of stem cells from the base of hair follicles in mice.
There isn’t tons of research to back up the theory that stress impacts hair, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence, says Dr. Jhin. Just look at these photos of how presidents aged in office for some not-so-scientific proof.
Health.com: How to Kick Stress in 20 Minutes or Less
You have a medical condition
In rare cases, premature graying may be triggered by health issues like thyroid disease or problems with the pituitary glands. Autoimmune diseases that attack the skin and hair, such as alopecia or vitiligo, can also cause grays. “Autoimmune means your own cells are attacking your body,” says Dr. Jihn. “So if your body is attacking your hair cells, you can go gray as a result.”
You’re vitamin deficient
Another possibility for your silvery strands is a vitamin B12 deficiency, says Dr. Jhin. There’s a number of factors that put you at greater risk, like being a vegetarian or vegan, taking birth control pills or having GI issues. But if your early grays are linked to B12, it’s most likely due to pernicious anemia, a decrease in red blood cells caused when intestines can’t absorb enough vitamin B12.
Health.com: 19 Signs Your Thyroid Isn’t Working Right
You’re a smoker
“Smoking is of the worst things you can do for your skin and hair,” says Dr. Jihn. In fact, research has shown an association between cigarette smoking and the onset of gray hair before age 30. “If you look at smokers, you can see the wrinkles in their skin,” she says. “You may not be able to see wrinkles on the scalp, but it’s still affecting all the follicles.”
All that said, Dr. Jihn still emphasizes that all of these factors have much less of an impact on your hair color than your genes. “But if you notice you’re getting premature graying and it doesn’t run in your family,” says Dr. Jihn, “then you should see your doctor to check if your thyroid is okay, your vitamin levels are fine, and that you don’t have anemia.”
Posted: 17 Nov 2016 01:00 PM PST
It’s more and more popular for women to delay childbearing for all kinds of reasons, as they pursue education and career goals. Later pregnancies are linked to more complications, but in a new study of more than 28,00 women, researchers found that delaying childbirth is associated with longer life.
Aladdin Shadyab, a post doctoral fellow in family medicine and public health at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, and his colleagues studied women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), a multi-year study of post-menopausal women in the U.S. Of the nearly 28,000 women, around half survived to reach age 90. What distinguished these women, says Shadyab, was that they were slightly older when they had their first child. Compared to women who weren’t yet 25 when they first gave birth, women who were older than 25 were 11% more likely to live to 90. Furthermore, women who had two to four children were more likely to live longer than those who had one—however, this relationship was only true among white women and not black women.
“Previously studies have looked at some reproductive events and their relationship to death, but not to longevity per se,” says Shadyab, who reported the results in the American Journal of Public Health. “Our study is the first to look at age at first childbirth and parity [number of children] in relation to survival to very advanced age.”
He and his team accounted for a number of factors that could affect longevity or reproductive choices, including mother’s age, race, education, income, marital status, BMI, smoking, alcohol consumption and contraceptive use. Even after these adjustments, the relationship between older age at first childbirth and longevity remained significant.
They study was not designed to delve into why the association existed, but previous data suggest some potential reasons. First, it’s possible that the women who had two to four children were generally healthier overall than women who had one child; the fact that they were able to have several term pregnancies may simply be an indication of their overall better health and therefore higher chances of living to old age.
Second, it’s possible that social factors such as income and education may be markers for women’s access to health care. Women who have babies later in life tend to delay childbirth because they are pursuing higher levels of education; since education and income tend to pair together, women having children later may just have more access to healthcare, which allows them to live longer.
For women who choose to have children later, the findings should be reassuring. “Our findings definitely do not suggest that women should delay childbearing,” Shadyab says; having children later in life is associated with considerably more health risks for both the mother and child. “But they do provide a foundation for future research to look at how important reproductive events are for aging women and longevity. Our findings may help to identify targets for future public health interventions among women in the pre-conception and family planning stages, so they may improve their healthy aging long term.”
One question that additional studies will have to answer is whether the women who have children later and live longer are also healthier as they age. So far, the WHI studies suggest that they do, with fewer chronic diseases linked to aging like heart problems and diabetes.
Posted: 17 Nov 2016 10:50 AM PST
I generally recommend having both, but it comes down to personal preference and your own needs. If you don’t have any major medical problems, you may be OK visiting your ob-gyn as your regular doctor. Any good gyno will be happy to talk to you about overall health. Although ob-gyns give guidance first and foremost on women’s health and issues related to the reproductive organs, plenty offer services outside of that purview (cholesterol screenings, say).
Health.com: 4 Times Your Vagina Needs to See a Doctor ASAP
Even so, an annual physical exam by a primary care provider (PCP) will probably cover a lot more ground, including metabolic, respiratory and digestive health, for starters. Also, some gynos may feel more comfortable referring you to another specialist for ailments that a PCP would handle herself. For example, if you have a rash, your ob-gyn may encourage you to get a dermatologist’s opinion, while a PCP may be able to treat it in one stop.
Ultimately, it all depends on the doctor. If you have a great relationship with your gyno and feel she gives you the 360 medical assistance you need, fine. Just alert her that she’s the only doctor you visit routinely. This way, she knows to give you comprehensive checkups or send you to another MD when necessary.
Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.
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