Obesity in Teen Years Tied to Colon Cancer Risk in Adulthood

August 18th, 2017

Obesity even in adolescence may raise the odds for colon cancer in adulthood, a large new study finds.

For rectal cancer, obesity — but not overweight –was tied to more than double the risk for girls, and 71 percent higher odds for boys, compared to normal-weight teens.

“This study is additional evidence that risk factors for colon cancer operate through the life course,” said Dr. Andrew Chan, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. The findings “highlight the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight even in childhood,” added Chan, who wasn’t involved in the study.

According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosis in U.S. men and women, excluding skin cancer.

About 95,500 new cases of colon cancer, and nearly 40,000 new cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year.

With so many young Americans overweight or obese, concerns have been growing about the effect of excess weight on chronic disease, including cancer, later in life. “When you are young, obesity is a disease that puts you at risk for many medical problems,” said Dr. David Bernstein, chief of hepatology at Northwell Health’s Center for Liver Diseases in Manhasset, N.Y.

“We know about diabetes, we know about arthritis, and now we know about colon cancer,” said Bernstein. “There is a well-documented link between obesity and colon cancer in adults,” said Bernstein. “It makes sense that if you are obese when you are young, then you are going to have more problems when you are older.”

Bernstein said it takes years to develop cancers, so it’s not surprising that the effects of obesity in adolescents are seen in adulthood.

For more information, please call your Gastroenterologist at 281.480.6264 or visit our website at Bay Area Gastroenterology

 

 

Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis News

August 15th, 2017

Diverticulosis is a disease characterized by the development of open “pockets,” called diverticula, in the colon wall. This happens frequently with old age, affecting half of Americans by age 60. The simple presence of these pockets is referred to as diverticulosis, and when that is accompanied by pain and inflammation, it is called diverticulitis.

The “pockets” that occur with diverticulosis are actually areas where the lining of the colon bulges outward. Researchers aren’t sure why this occurs, but the prevailing theory is that a lack of fiber in the diet, related to consumption of heavily processed food, is one of the major causes of the disease. Low fiber intake can lead to constipation and muscle straining to pass stool, and the straining can cause diverticula to form. If the stool or bacteria get caught in the “pockets,” that could result in diverticulitis.

Symptoms of Diverticulosis

People with diverticulosis sometimes have no symptoms; others may experience some mild abdominal pain, bloating and constipation. About 10 to 25 percent of people with diverticulosis get diverticulitis, which is characterized by increased pain, vomiting, nausea, fever, chills and changes in bowel habits. Over time, diverticulitis can lead to rectal bleeding, perforation and blockage of the colon.

Prevention and Treatment

To prevent diverticulosis or treat mild cases of the illness, the primary recommendation is to add fluid and fiber to the diet. This can be accomplished by eating more beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Supplemental fiber in pill or powder form may also be an option where needed, but it’s best to ask a health care provider about this.

Diverticulitis may require a treatment of pain relievers, oral antibiotics, bed rest and a liquid diet for a few days until the consumption of food can resume. Severe cases may require a hospital stay and IV treatments, and some cases may require surgery to treat the diverticulitis.

For more information, please call your Gastroenterologist at 281.480.6264 or visit our website at Bay Area Gastroenterology

Diet Mistakes That Steal Your Energy

August 8th, 2017

What’s wrong with skipping breakfast (or any other meal) if I’m not hungry?

When you wake up in the morning you’ve probably gone about 11 hours without eating,

and since your body uses calories as fuel, you’ll need to refill your tank right away. While it’s tough for your body to get going when you’re running on empty, skipping breakfast is even harder on your brain. Most of the cells in your body can store energy up for lean times, but your brain cells need a constant supply of carbohydrates to function, and your reserves are certain to be low after an all-night fast. Lunch and dinner are just as important. Without food in your system, stress hormones will kick in to keep you going but at a high cost–you’ll be exhausted later. And when you make a habit of missing meals, your body starts conserving calories and your metabolism slows down. Not surprisingly, you end up feeling sluggish.

Why do I feel sleepy after a big lunch?

Large meals force your body to use precious energy stores for the huge task of digestion. Blood rushes to your gut, robbing the rest of your body of oxygen and nutrients. Afterwards, you may not feel like eating again for several hours. If you wait too long for dinner, you’re more likely to overeat again. Soon you’re stuck in a cycle of feast or famine in which your cells, like your body, are always either overloaded or starving, leaving you constantly fatigued. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can keep your digestive system humming along steadily and your energy level consistent.

What kind of snack is best for a quick boost?

Eat snacks that contain members of different food groups. Pretzels and crackers may be convenient, low-fat snacks, but they won’t get you very far when you’re feeling poky. These processed carbohydrates are broken down almost instantly, giving you the same brief blood sugar spike that candy does. Fiber, protein, and fat take longer to digest, evening out your metabolism and protecting you from those energy highs and lows. Nuts have all three; they’re the perfect mini-meal. Fruit and yogurt are other good choices. Also try adding a slice of cheese to a whole-wheat cracker or dipping a carrot stick in peanut butter.

Try to stay away from coffee and candy, though. Neither one will give you sustained energy. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system, but it doesn’t contain calories, which are your body’s fuel. And sugar breaks down quickly in your system, giving you only a brief pick-me-up.

For more information, please call your Gastroenterologist at 281.480.6264 or visit our website at Bay Area Gastroenterology

Gastritis Health News

August 7th, 2017

Gastritis occurs when the stomach lining becomes inflamed, causing the body to produce less acid and enzymes to break down food. Though it sometimes causes no symptoms, someone with gastritis can often experience loss of appetite, pain and tenderness in the stomach and even nausea and vomiting.

There are two types of gastritis — acute and chronic. Acute gastritis typically refers to severe and sudden inflammation, whereas chronic gastritis can be present for a long time if not treated. If gastritis is more severe or lasts for a long time, it can become erosive gastritis. This means that it will ultimately break down the lining of the stomach and lead to ulcers and other complications.

Causes of Gastritis

The main cause of gastritis throughout the world is a type of bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). This is seen frequently in third world nations but also in the United States. Overuse of over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or aspirin can also contribute to gastritis, as can use of alcohol, cocaine and radiation therapy. Sometimes gastritis is related to autoimmune disorders, in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. Injuries, burns or major surgeries can contribute to a form of gastritis called stress gastritis.

Treatment

If a case of gastritis is related to an infection caused by H. pylori bacteria, it’s important to treat the condition with antibiotics. Left untreated, H. pylori can lead to many complications, including ulcers or cancer. Otherwise, the symptoms of gastritis are typically treated with a variety of over-the-counter or prescription medications, including antacids, proton pump inhibitors and histamine 2 blockers.

For more information, please call your Gastroenterologist at 281.480.6264 or visit our website at Bay Area Gastroenterology

 

Seniors and Hemorrhoids

August 4th, 2017

In Turkish, they’re known as “bottom tulips”; in Dutch they’re called “anus berries.” But to many who have hemorrhoids, they are simply — well, a pain in the you-know-what!

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins either inside the anus or rectum or around the outside of the anus. Women often develop them during pregnancy or while in labor. Anyone can get them, in fact, but hemorrhoids are more common as people age. By age 50, about half of men and women have them. Although they’re sometimes painful, they’re rarely dangerous.

What causes hemorrhoids?

Constipation, which is increasingly common as people age, is the primary cause of hemorrhoids. Difficulty in evacuating stool leads to straining, which in turn puts pressure on the veins in the rectal area, causing the veins to enlarge. Heredity may also play a role in developing hemorrhoids, as can obesity and diseases of the liver.

How do you know if you have them?

Internal and external hemorrhoids show up in different guises. Internal hemorrhoids are often painless unless they protrude outside the anus. If they do, they can develop blood clots, which are painful but not dangerous. Look out for the following signs and symptoms:

  • Anal pain
  • Anal itching
  • A purplish lump around the anus
  • A reddish mass of tissue around rectum
  • Bright red blood on toilet tissue, in the stool, in the toilet bowl, or on undergarments
  • Mucous on undergarments
  • Feces on undergarments

Symptoms of hemorrhoids resemble those of certain other disorders, such as anal fissures (small skin tears around the anus) or even diseases like colorectal cancer. The best way to check for more serious conditions is to ask your doctor for an exam.

How does my doctor test for hemorrhoids?

The doctor will begin by examining you for external and internal hemorrhoids, as well as other growths or abscesses. If there’s pain or sensitivity, the physician uses a numbing agent in order to give a proper examination without pain. Sometimes internal hemorrhoids are not detected by the initial digital exam, and your doctor may use an anoscope, a proctoscope, or a sigmoidoscope. These are flexible lighted tubes that allow your doctor to see the inside of your anus and rectum. If there is bleeding, your doctor may also want you to have other tests.

How are they treated?

If you have pain from hemorrhoids, your doctor may recommend a combination of treatments. This could include warm baths (not hot ones), followed by an ice pack three to four times a day. Hemorrhoid creams or hydrocortisone suppositories often provide relief, and very gentle cleansing of the area can help relieve irritation as well.

For more persistent or painful hemorrhoids, your doctor may suggest the CRH O’Regan Hemorrhoid Treatment. This treatment is a rubber band ligation procedure that uses rubber bands to cut off the circulation of the hemorrhoid until it withers away and falls off. It is fast, painless, does not require a bowel prep or sedation, and is done in an outpatient setting.

Speak with your Bay Area Gastroenterology healthcare provider to discuss specifics regarding the CRH O’Regan System, and to determine if it is an appropriate option for your condition.

How can I keep from getting hemorrhoids?

You can avoid developing hemorrhoids by eating healthy food and getting plenty of exercise. But if you already have them, you can keep them from becoming bothersome by making some changes in your lifestyle.

Because constipation is one of the major culprits, you will likely want to talk to your doctor about any medications you take that may cause it. Your physician may be able to give you other drugs that don’t have that side effect.

Usually, constipation can be alleviated by eating a diet rich in fiber (found in whole grain foods, fresh fruits, and vegetables) and drinking at least six glasses of fluids a day (not counting alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you). This sort of diet softens and adds bulk to stool to help push it through the intestine. In addition, cut down on your intake of refined or processed foods like cakes, chips, and candy. They may taste good, but they can create a traffic jam in your digestive tract, adding to the strain on those veins.

Constipation may also be caused by a lack of exercise — that is, too much sitting! If you don’t have any physical limitations, try walking more or finding another physical activity that you enjoy. Even if you do have some medical problems, there are undoubtedly at least a few appropriate exercises for you. Chances are, you’ll not only feel better and stronger, but will suffer less from those annoying hemorrhoids. (Just remember to consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen or overhauling your diet.)

Good bowel habits are also important in preventing hemorrhoids or keeping them from becoming a complete nuisance. Heed the urge to defecate, but don’t read the whole newspaper while you’re on the toilet. Remember, sitting on the toilet for long periods of time can also put pressure or strain on the veins around the anus or rectum. Also, gently cleansing the anus after a bowel movement often helps keep the area from becoming irritated.

Hemorrhoids may actually be a sort of wake-up call, urging you to eat better, drink more fluids, and get some regular exercise. And if you’re able to respond to that call, your body will have done its duty.

For more information, please call your Gastroenterologist at 281.480.6264 or visit our website at Bay Area Gastroenterology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walnuts may promote health by changing gut bacteria

July 31st, 2017

A new study led by Lauri Byerley, PhD, RD, Research Associate Professor of Physiology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has found that walnuts in the diet change the makeup of bacteria in the gut, which suggests a new way walnuts may contribute to better health.

“Walnuts have been called a ‘superfood’ because they are rich in the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linoleic acid and fiber, and they contain one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants,” notes Dr. Byerley. “Now, an additional superfood benefit of walnuts may be their beneficial changes to the gut microbiota.”

Working in a rodent model, the research team added walnuts to the diet of one group. The diet of the other group contained no walnuts. They then measured the types and numbers of gut bacteria in the descending colon and compared the results. They found that there were two distinct communities of bacteria in the groups. In the walnut-eating group, the numbers and types of bacteria changed, as did the bacteria’s functional capacity. The researchers reported a significant increase in beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus.

“We found that walnuts in the diet increased the diversity of bacteria in the gut, and other non-related studies have associated less bacterial diversity with obesity and other diseases like inflammatory bowel disease,” says Byerley. “Walnuts increased several bacteria, like Lactobacillus, typically associated with probiotics suggesting walnuts may act as a prebiotic.”

Prebiotics are dietary substances that selectively promote the numbers and activity of beneficial bacteria.

“Gut health is an emerging research area, and researchers are finding that greater bacterial diversity may be associated with better health outcomes,” adds Byerley.

The researchers conclude that the reshaping of the gut microbe community by adding walnuts to the diet suggests a new physiological mechanism to improve health. Eating walnuts has been associated with reduced cardiovascular disease risk, slower tumor growth in animals and improved brain health.

For more information, please call your Gastroenterologist at 281.480.6264 or visit our website at Bay Area Gastroenterology

 

Gastroenteritis (“Stomach Flu”)

July 28th, 2017

What is gastroenteritis?

Many people blame “the stomach flu” whenever they fall ill with nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting. But stomach flu is actually a misnomer: The viruses that cause the “real” flu (influenza) usually don’t affect the stomach. When doctors speak of stomach flu, they’re usually referring to a popular name for a condition in which the digestive tract becomes irritated and inflamed. However, they are more likely to use the medical term for this condition: gastroenteritis.

Whatever you call it, gastroenteritis is a very common problem. Up to 100 million cases occur each year in the United States alone. For most healthy people, the condition is a minor illness on a par with the common cold. However, without treatment it can be deadly to the very young, the very old, or the sick and frail. In developing countries, prolonged bouts of diarrhea brought on by gastroenteritis are a leading cause of death.

What causes gastroenteritis?

Most cases are caused by viruses, but not by the same viruses that cause influenza. A leading culprit is rotavirus, a common germ that is easily spread through physical contact, such as shaking hands or sharing eating utensils. Rotavirus is especially likely to show up among young children and in daycare centers.

About one in five people with “stomach flu” has a bacterial infection, often acquired through food poisoning or drinking untreated water. Common bacterial sources of the disease include SalmonellaE. coli, and Campylobacter.

Other possible causes of gastroenteritis include parasites (organisms larger than viruses or bacteria), toxins from tainted shellfish, and reactions to medications (including antibiotics and laxatives). It’s also linked to chronic diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

Because disease-causing bacteria and viruses thrive in areas with poor civic sanitation, gastroenteritis often strikes travelers to developing countries. That’s why between 20 and 50 percent of the people who travel abroad come back with a form of gastroenteritis called traveler’s diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Domestic travelers should also be wary. Tiny parasites that attack the stomach also live in cold climates in the U.S., and they can be picked up if you drink water while swimming in or camping near rivers and lakes.

What are the symptoms of gastroenteritis?

The main symptom is diarrhea. (The term “stomach flu” owes much of its popularity to the fact that people don’t like to say they have diarrhea.) If caused by an infection, the diarrhea usually begins within a day or two of picking up the germ and lasts up to 10 days. Nausea, vomiting, headache, or abdominal pain often accompanies diarrhea, which doctors define as having more than two loose bowel movements in a day.

When should I see the doctor?

Most cases of gastroenteritis aren’t serious enough to warrant a trip to the doctor. However, you should call your doctor if you notice any of the following signs of trouble:

  • Blood in your stool or vomit
  • High fever
  • Severe, localized stomach pain. You should be especially concerned about pain in the lower right abdomen, a possible sign of appendicitis.
  • An inability to keep food or liquids down, or losing fluids faster than you can replenish them orally
  • Vomiting that becomes more violent or lasts for more than 48 hours
  • Signs of dehydration (dry mouth, dry skin, thirst, no urination for six hours)

What can a doctor do to treat the illness?

Before doing anything else, your doctor will try to confirm the diagnosis by checking your symptoms and conducting a physical. If you’ve recently eaten something that might have spoiled or you’ve visited a place with poor sanitation, be sure to mention it. It would also be good to tell your doctor if you’ve been traveling recently or if you’ve been in contact with someone who has similar symptoms.

Once the condition has been diagnosed, your doctor can start treating the symptoms.

Doctors may suggest a bland diet (although the scientific data to suggest this is sparse), and frequent small amounts of fluids, possibly including rehydrating fluids to treat dehydration. Rehydrating fluids are a special mix of water, sugar, and salts available in pharmacies that replace the water you lost. In extreme cases, the fluid may be given intravenously.

If you have severe diarrhea, your doctor may advise you to take an over-the-counter drug that slows down intestinal function and prescribe an anti-nausea drug as well. If you have been experiencing the symptoms for only a few days and the symptoms are relatively mild, your doctor will most likely suggest you try to treat the symptoms and avoid antibiotics.

If the illness is severe or lingers for more than a couple of weeks, your doctor may want to collect a stool sample to pinpoint the exact cause of the distress.

What should I do if I have the condition?

Most people with gastroenteritis just need to rest for a few days. If vomiting is a problem, you have to avoid certain solid foods for a while. As soon as you feel up to it, sip small amounts of clear liquids such as tea or broth every 15 minutes. As your stomach starts to settle down, you can move on to solid food.

Because children with diarrhea can get dehydrated very easily, they may need special care. Give sick children plenty of liquids — offering a small amount of liquid every few minutes or so, even if they are vomiting. Infants who seem restless or unusually thirsty should be given an oral rehydration solution, water mixed with a packet of salt and carbohydrates; they are also sold in bottles (e.g. Pedialyte and Ricelyte). These packets and rehydrating liquids are widely available in supermarkets and drug stores and are even sold in popsicle form. Don’t give children carbonated beverages or sports drinks. A child who needs to take these liquids for more than a day or two should probably see the doctor to be sure that he or she is not getting dehydrated.

Can the condition be prevented?

Because most cases are caused by bacteria or viruses, you can prevent much misery by taking a stand against germs. First and foremost, make sure everyone in your house washes his or her hands regularly, especially after using the bathroom and before touching food. Hand washing becomes even more important when someone in the house is having a bout of gastroenteritis.

You should also take steps to prevent food poisoning. Keep your kitchen clean, carefully watch expiration dates on food, and don’t leave perishable food at room temperature for more than two hours. Be extra careful with raw chicken, a major source of Campylobacter, or any raw meats or eggs, for that matter. Clean any surfaces and kitchen tools that you use to handle raw chicken with soap and hot water before preparing another dish.

Before you leave on a trip, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor to talk about what you can do to prevent problems with diarrhea when you are traveling in areas with poor sanitation. Among other things, you can get immunized against typhoid, hepatitis A, and other illnesses. Your doctor may also advise you to travel with Pepto Bismol, which has some antibacterial activity. Or he may recommend an antidiarrheal medication that can help you if you’re stuck on a long bus ride in with no bathroom readily available or suggest prophylactic antibiotics in case you are somewhere without a doctor.

And if you’re traveling to an area with poor sanitation, don’t trust the water. Simply brushing your teeth with tap water or tossing a couple of ice cubes in a drink can be enough to make you sick. In many areas, the only safe beverages are boiled or bottled water, canned or bottled sodas, tea and coffee made with boiled water, beer, and wine. If it’s not possible to boil your water, you may have to use chemical disinfectants such as iodine or chlorine.

Keep in mind that the food can be as risky as the water. You should be especially suspicious of salads, garnishes, uncooked vegetables, unpasteurized milk, raw meat, shellfish, and any foods sold by street vendors. In general, fruits that you peel yourself and hot meals are safer choices. (Some restaurants in developing countries that cater to tourists disinfect their lettuce and other vegetables before making them into salads, but salads sold on the street may not be.)

Since 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended a rotavirus vaccine for all infants. Two vaccines given orally, not by a shot, are licensed for use in the United States: RotaTeq (RV5) is given in 3 doses at ages 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months; Rotarix (RV1) is given in 2 doses at ages 2 months and 4 months.

In general, if you want to help keep “stomach flu” at bay, soap and water is one of the best defenses. Use them often. Your stomach will thank you.

For more information, please call your Gastroenterologist at 281.480.6264 or visit our website at Bay Area Gastroenterology

Onions: Health Benefits, Health Risks & Nutrition Facts

July 26th, 2017

Turns out that onions are nothing to cry over — these flavorful bulbs are packed with nutrients.

“Onions are super-healthy,” said Victoria Jarzabkowski, a nutritionist with the University of Texas at Austin. “They are excellent sources of vitamin C, sulphuric compounds, flavonoids and phytochemicals.”

Phytochemicals, or phytonutrients, are naturally occurring compounds in fruits and vegetables that are able to react with the human body to trigger healthy reactions. Flavonoids are responsible for pigments in many fruits and vegetables. Studies have shown that they may help reduce the risk of Parkinson’s diseasecardiovascular disease and stroke.

A particularly valuable flavonoid in onions is quercetin, which acts as an antioxidant that may be linked to preventing cancer. “It also might have heart health benefits, though more studies need to be done,” said Angela Lemond, a Plano, Texas-based registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Quercetin has a host of other benefits, as well reducing the symptoms of bladder infections, promoting prostate health and lowering blood pressure.

Other important phytochemicals in onions are disulfides, trisulfides, cepaene and vinyldithiins. They all are helpful in maintaining good health and have anticancer and antimicrobial properties.

Partly because of their use in cooking around the world, onions are among the most significant sources of antioxidants in the human diet. Their high levels of antioxidants give onions their distinctive sweetness and aroma.

“Foods that are high in antioxidants and amino acids allow your body to function optimally,” said Lemond. “Antioxidants help prevent damage, and cancer. Amino acids are the basic building block for protein, and protein is used in virtually every vital function in the body.”

Sulfides in onions contain necessary amino acids. “Sulfur is one of the most common minerals in our body that assists with protein synthesis and building of cell structures,” said Lemond.

“I like to recommend eating onions because they add flavor without salt and sugar,” Jarzabkowski said. Onions are low in calories (45 per serving), very low in sodium, and contain no fat or cholesterol. Furthermore, onions contain fiber and folic acid, a B vitamin that helps the body make healthy new cells.

Onions are healthy whether they’re raw or cooked, though raw onions have higher levels of organic sulfur compounds that provide many benefits. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that there is a high concentration of flavonoids in the outer layers of onion flesh, so you’ll want to be careful to remove as little of the edible part of the onion as possible when peeling it.

Health benefits:

Cancer

A 2015 meta-analysis found that intake of allium vegetables, including onions, were associated with reduced gastric cancer risk. According to World’s Healthiest Foods from the George Mateljan Foundation, eating between one and seven servings of onions per week may help reduce the risk of colorectal, laryngeal and ovarian cancer. Eating several servings of onions a day may help decrease the risk of oral and esophageal cancer.

Quercetin may be a powerful anti-cancer agent, according to Jarzabkowski. The University of Maryland Medical Center said that quercetin may especially inhibit cancer cells in “breast, colon, prostate, ovarian, endometrial, and lung tumors.”

The National Onion Association discussed a recent study showing that people who ate onions absorbed twice as much quercetin as those who drank tea, and more than three times as much quercetin as those who ate apples, which are other high-quercetin sources. Red onions are especially high in quercetin, according to the association. Shallots and yellow onions are also good options. White onions contain the least amount of quercetin and other antioxidants.

Onions may help with some side effects from cancer treatments, as well. A study published in Integrative Cancer Therapies found that consuming fresh yellow onion helped lessen insulin resistance and hyperglycemia in breast cancer patients undergoing a form of chemotherapy known to cause insulin resistance.

Digestion

The fiber in onions promotes good digestion and helps keep you regular. Additionally, onions contain a special type of soluble fiber called oligofructose, which promotes good bacteria growth in your intestines. One study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that oligofructose may help prevent and treat types of diarrhea. The phytochemicals in onions that scavenge free radicals may also reduce your risk of developing gastric ulcers, according to the National Onion Association.

Regulating blood sugar

The chromium in onions assists in regulating blood sugar. The sulfur in onions helps lower blood sugar by triggering increased insulin production. One study in the journal Environmental Health Insights revealed that this might be especially helpful to people with people with diabetes. People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes who ate red onions showed lower glucose levels for up to four hours.

meta-analysis in the journal Nutrition found that patients with Type 2 diabetes saw more normalized liver enzymes and lower glycemic levels when consuming sliced onions.

Heart health

According to Jarzabkowski, onions encourage a healthy heart in many ways, including “lowering blood pressure and lowering heart attack risk.” A study in the journal Thrombosis Research suggested that sulfur acts as a natural blood thinner and prevents blood platelets from aggregating. When platelets cluster, the risk for heart attack or stroke increases.

Recently, health researchers have noticed a relationship between messaging molecules called oxylipins and high cholesterol management. A 2016 study in the journal Redox Biology found that consuming onions increases oxylipins that help regulate blood fat levels and levels of cholesterol.

The quercetin in onions may also help prevent plaque buildup in the arteries, which reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. But since most of the studies in this regard have focused on animals, more research is needed to understand the effects in humans.

Anti-inflammatory

Onions’ sulfurs may be effective anti-inflammatory agents. Quercetin has been found to relax the airway muscles and may provide relief of asthma symptoms, according to a study in the American Journal of Physiology.

Immune system

“The polyphenols in onions act as antioxidants, protecting the body against free radicals,” said Anne Mauney, a dietitian based in Washington, D.C. Eliminating free radicals can help encourage a strong immune system. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the quercetin in onions also reduces allergic reactions by stopping your body from producing histamines, which are what make you sneeze, cry and itch if you’re having an allergic reaction.

Bone density in older women

study in the journal Menopause found that daily consumption of onions improves bone density in women who are going through or have finished menopause. Women who ate onions frequently had a 20 percent lower risk of hip fracture than those who never ate onions.

Health risks:

While not especially serious, eating onions can cause problems for some people. The carbohydrates in onions may cause gas and bloating, according to National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Onions, especially if consumed raw, can worsen heartburn in people who suffer from chronic heartburn or gastric reflux disease, according to one study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Eating a large amount of green onions or rapidly increasing your consumption of green onions may interfere with blood thinning drugs, according to the University of Georgia. Green onions contain a high amount of vitamin K, which can decrease blood thinner functioning.

It is also possible to have a food intolerance or an allergy to onions, but cases are rare, according to an article in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. People with onion allergies may experience red, itchy eyes and rashes if an onion comes into contact with the skin. People with an intolerance to onions may experience nausea, vomiting and other gastric discomfort.

Lastly, Jarzabkowski encouraged people to make sure their onions are fresh. “Onions keep for a long time,” she said, “but they still spoil.” Onions spoil much faster if they are chopped or sliced. If you cut up your onions for later use, be sure to refrigerate them in a closed container. Studies found that unrefrigerated yellow onions showed potential growth of E.coli and salmonella, though refrigerated ones did not.

For more information, please call your Gastroenterologist at 281.480.6264 or visit our website at Bay Area Gastroenterology

How Much Do You Know About Hepatitis C?

July 24th, 2017

The virus that causes hepatitis C wasn’t even discovered until 1989, but it has quickly earned a place among the most dangerous germs on earth. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 4 million Americans have been infected with the virus, which can cause a life-threatening illness. How much do you know about hepatitis C? Take this short quiz to find out.

1. A hepatitis C infection usually causes severe symptoms that are impossible to ignore.

True

False

2. Unlike other forms of hepatitis, hepatitis C is usually chronic (long-lasting).

True

False

3. Hepatitis C can take very different courses in different people.

True

False

4. Which of the following people is LEAST likely to develop hepatitis.

a. Someone who has regular, unprotected sex with one partner

b. Anyone who has used dirty needles to inject drugs

c. Anyone who received a blood transfusion before 1992

d. Babies born to infected mothers

5. Many cases of hepatitis C occur for no apparent reason.

True

False

6. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, and there probably won’t be for years to come.

True

False

Your Results:

1. A hepatitis C infection usually causes severe symptoms that are impossible to ignore.

The correct answer is: False

Hepatitis C is usually a silent disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 80 percent of people with the condition have no symptoms at all. When symptoms do occur, they are often mild and easily overlooked. Symptoms to watch out for include fatigue, stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, and jaundice (a yellowish tint to the skin).

2. Unlike other forms of hepatitis, hepatitis C is usually chronic (long-lasting).

The correct answer is: True

Once the hepatitis C virus makes a home in the liver, it rarely leaves. According to the CDC, 75 to 85 percent of all infections become chronic. About 60 to 70 percent of people with long-lasting infections will develop chronic liver disease.

3. Hepatitis C can take very different courses in different people.

The correct answer is: True

Some people with a chronic hepatitis C infection quickly develop serious complications (such as cirrhosis), some suffer complications decades down the road, and some escape liver damage entirely. According to the NIH, hepatitis C tends to be especially severe in heavy drinkers and people who have other viruses that can cause hepatitis. If you’re diagnosed with hepatitis C, you can protect your liver by eliminating alcohol and getting vaccinated for hepatitis A and B.

4. Which of the following people is LEAST likely to develop hepatitis C?

The correct answer is: a. Someone who has regular, unprotected sex with one partner.

According to the NIH, people rarely catch the hepatitis C virus through sex, especially if they have just one partner. In contrast, the virus can spread quickly when drug users share dirty needles. Anyone who received a blood transfusion before 1992 — before donated blood was screened for the virus — is also at risk. Babies born to infected mothers should be checked for the virus between 12 to 18 months of age.

5. Many cases of hepatitis C occur for no apparent reason.

The correct answer is: True

As reported by the NIH, about 30 percent of chronic hepatitis C infections can’t be easily explained. The virus evidently found an unusual path into the body, perhaps through a small cut or a surgical incision.

6. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, and there probably won’t be for years to come.

The correct answer is: True

With no vaccine in sight, common sense is the best protection. Not sharing dirty needles is by far the most important thing a person can do to avoid hepatitis C.

For more information, please call your Gastroenterologist at 281.480.6264 or visit our website at Bay Area Gastroenterology

 

GASTROINTESTINAL INFORMATION…..how much do you know?

July 21st, 2017

The term “gastrointestinal” refers to the body’s stomach and intestines, which are parts of the digestive system. Along with other organs in the digestive system, these parts of the body aid in the digestion of food and the elimination of waste.

What Happens in the Gastrointestinal Organs

Once food and liquid pass through the mouth and the esophagus, they reach the stomach, where three distinct actions occur. First, the stomach stores the food and liquid consumed, and it’s able to expand in order to do so. Second, it produces digestive juices and mixes them with the food and liquid to begin the digestion process. Finally, the stomach slowly releases the digested material into the small intestine.

Once in the small intestine, digestion of these materials continues. Juices from the liver, pancreas and intestine aid in this process. At this stage, the digested nutrients pass through the intestinal walls, where they enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. Other portions of the digested material continue through the intestinal tract as waste. The waste passes from the small intestine to the large intestine and ultimately is removed from the body with a bowel movement.

Problems With the Gastrointestinal Organs

A wide variety of problems can affect the gastrointestinal tract. They range from mild annoyances like flatulence or acid reflux to life-threatening conditions like stomach or colon cancer. Some people develop inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, which cause symptoms such as abdominal pain and diarrhea. Ulcers are another problem that can frequently impact the stomach, and constipation is also commonly related to problems in the gastrointestinal tract. Treatment for gastrointestinal problems vary widely, depending on the cause and severity of the problem.

For more information, please call your Gastroenterologist at 281.480.6264 or visit our website at Bay Area Gastroenterology