Harmful effects of being overweight may be underestimated

December 8th, 2017

The harmful effects of being overweight have been underestimated, according to a new study that analyzed body mass index (BMI), health and mortality data in around 60,000 parents and their children, to establish how obesity actually influences risk of death.

Previous studies have suggested that the optimum BMI, at which the risk of death is minimized, appears to be above the range normally recommended by doctors, leading to claims it is good for health to be mildly overweight. However, scientists suspect these studies do not reflect the true effect of BMI on health, because early stages of illness, health-damaging behaviors, such as cigarette smoking, and other factors can lead to both lower BMI and increased risk of death. This makes it difficult to estimate how BMI actually influences risk of death (the causal effect), as opposed to the observed association between BMI and risk of death. This aim of this study was to assess the causal link between BMI and risk of death.

Because BMI of parents and their offspring is related, due to genetic factors, offspring BMI is an indicator of the BMI of the parents. The BMI of adult children is not influenced by illness among the parents, therefore using offspring BMI avoids the problems inherent in simply relating the BMI of the parents to their risk of death.

The health records of around 30,000 mother and child pairs and 30,000 father and child pairs were assessed to examine the extent to which BMI may influence mortality risk in a situation that is not biased by “reverse causation” — illness leading to low BMI rather than BMI influencing illness.

The team found that when offspring BMI was used instead of the parent’s own BMI, the apparent harmful effects of low BMI were reduced and the harmful effects of high BMI were greater than those found in the conventional analyses. Importantly, the results suggest that previous studies have underestimated the harmful effects of being overweight.

The current advice from doctors to maintain a BMI of between 18.5 and 25 is supported by this study, and the widely reported suggestion that being overweight may be healthy is shown to be incorrect.

“This study demonstrates that correlation is not causation and that when it comes to public health recommendations we need to be cautious interpreting data based on associations alone. We found that previous studies have underestimated the impact of being overweight on mortality and our findings support current advice to maintain a BMI of between 18.5 and 25.”

Dr David Carslake, the study’s lead author and Senior Research Associate from the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (IEU) at the University of Bristol, said: “An alarming increase in obesity levels across the world which have risen from 105 million in 1975 to 641 million in 2014, according to a recent Lancet study, create concern about the implications for public health

If you are struggling with obesity let Ideal Protein at Bay Area Gastroenterology help you get your weight and health under control.

Ideal Protein is a medically developed, scientifically based, supervised weight loss, weight management, and lifestyle counseling program for dieters.

For information about this exclusive program, please contact our wellness coach, Morgan, at 281-258-4280.

 

 

 

Exercise changes gut microbial composition independent of diet, team reports

December 5th, 2017

Two studies — one in mice and the other in human subjects — offer the first definitive evidence that exercise alone can change the composition of microbes in the gut. The studies were designed to isolate exercise-induced changes from other factors — such as diet or antibiotic use — that might alter the intestinal microbiota.

In the first study, scientists transplanted fecal material from exercised and sedentary mice into the colons of sedentary germ-free mice, which had been raised in a sterile facility and had no microbiota of their own. In the second study, the team tracked changes in the composition of gut microbiota in human participants as they transitioned from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active one — and back again.

“These are the first studies to show that exercise can have an effect on your gut independent of diet or other factors,” said Jeffrey Woods, a University of Illinois professor of kinesiology and community health who led the research with former doctoral student Jacob Allen, now a postdoctoral researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The work with mice was conducted at the U. of I. and with scientists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who develop and maintain the germ-free mice. The work in humans was conducted at Illinois.

In the mouse study, changes in the microbiota of recipient mice mirrored those in the donor mice, with clear differences between those receiving microbes from exercised and sedentary mice.

“That proved to us that the transplant worked,” Woods said.

Recipients of the exercised mouse microbiota also had a higher proportion of microbes that produce butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that promotes healthy intestinal cells, reduces inflammation and generates energy for the host. They also appeared to be more resistant to experimental ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease.

“We found that the animals that received the exercised microbiota had an attenuated response to a colitis-inducing chemical,” Allen said. “There was a reduction in inflammation and an increase in the regenerative molecules that promote a faster recovery.”

In the human study, the team recruited 18 lean and 14 obese sedentary adults, sampled their gut microbiomes, and started them on an exercise program during which they performed supervised cardiovascular exercise for 30-60 minutes three times a week for six weeks. The researchers sampled participants’ gut microbiomes again at the end of the exercise program and after another six weeks of sedentary behavior. Participants maintained their usual diets throughout the course of the study.

Fecal concentrations of SCFAs, in particular butyrate, went up in the human gut as a result of exercise. These levels declined again after the participants reverted to a sedentary lifestyle. Genetic tests of the microbiota confirmed that this corresponded to changes in the proportion of microbes that produce butyrate and other SCFAs.

The most dramatic increases were seen in lean participants, who had significantly lower levels of SCFA-producing microbes in their guts to begin with. Obese participants saw only modest increases in the proportion of SCFA-producing microbes. The ratios of different microbes in the gut also differed between lean and obese participants at every stage of the study, the researchers said.

“The bottom line is that there are clear differences in how the microbiome of somebody who is obese versus somebody who is lean responds to exercise,” Woods said. “We have more work to do to determine why that is.”

 

A Pantry Makeover for a Healthier Diet

December 1st, 2017

You know about buying no- and low-fat dairy and lean cuts of meat. But your pantry might also need a makeover to help you get the most nutrients from your foods and stick with a healthy diet plan.

Start by replacing white flour with whole-wheat flour, according to the Simple Cooking With Heart Grocery Guide from the American Heart Association. The varieties “white whole wheat” and “whole wheat pastry flour” work well in baked goods. Switch from regular pasta to whole-wheat varieties, and buy brown and wild rice rather than white.

Expand your whole-grain selections for side dishes with couscous, barley and kasha — they taste great and don’t need butter.

Clear out bottled sauces and dressings with added fat and sugar. Buy canned low-salt tomatoes and tomato paste to use as a base for soups and sauces. Flavor foods with different vinegars or a squeeze of citrus, like lemon or lime.

Build a collection of nut- as well as plant-based oils, like hazelnut and walnut to go alongside olive and safflower oils. A few drops are all you need to add pizzazz to a dish.

Get creative with spices and herbs. There are dozens to try, from thyme and rosemary to sage and dill. Grow your own on a windowsill or use dried varieties. Add Asian and Indian influences for zest and deeper flavor without any calories.

For added inspiration, put a few new healthy-eating cookbooks on your shopping list, too.

Let’s make 2018 our “healthy year resolution”!!

 

 

Three to four cups of coffee a day may be linked to longer life.

November 27th, 2017

Three or 4 cups a day confers greatest benefit, except in pregnancy and for women at risk of fracture

Evidence from over 200 studies find that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day is associated with a lower risk of death and getting heart disease compared with drinking no coffee. Coffee drinking is also associated with lower risk of some cancers, diabetes, liver disease and dementia.

However, they say drinking coffee in pregnancy may be associated with harms, and may be linked to a very small increased risk of fracture in women.

The included studies used mainly observational data, providing lower quality evidence, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, but their findings back up other recent reviews and studies of coffee intake. As such, they say, excluding pregnancy and women at risk of fracture, “coffee drinking appears safe within usual patterns of consumption” and they suggest that coffee could be safely tested in randomized trials.

Coffee is one of the most commonly consumed beverages worldwide and could have positive health benefits. But existing evidence is of lower quality from observational research and randomized controlled trials are needed to strengthen the evidence of benefits.

To better understand the effects of coffee consumption on health, a team led by Dr Robin Poole, Specialist Registrar in Public Health at the University of Southampton, with collaborators from the University of Edinburgh, carried out an umbrella review of 201 studies that had aggregated data from observational research and 17 studies that had aggregated data from clinical trials across all countries and all settings.

Umbrella reviews synthesize previous meta-analyses and provide a high-level summary of research on a particular topic.

 Drinking coffee was consistently associated with a lower risk of death from all causes and from heart disease, with the largest reduction in relative risk of death at three cups a day, compared with non-coffee drinkers. Increasing consumption to above three cups a day was not associated with harm, but the beneficial effect was less pronounced.

Coffee was also associated with a lower risk of several cancers, including prostate, endometrial, skin and liver cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes, gallstones and gout. The greatest benefit was seen for liver conditions, such as cirrhosis of the liver.

Finally, there seemed to be beneficial associations between coffee consumption and Parkinson’s disease, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

There was less evidence for the effects of drinking decaffeinated coffee but it had similar benefits for a number of outcomes.

Many of the included studies may have adjusted for factors that may be associated with both the health outcome and with coffee drinking, such as smoking. This was not comprehensive and varied from study to study. The authors can therefore not rule out the effect of such factors on the apparent harmful or beneficial associations.The authors conclude that coffee drinking “seems safe within usual patterns of consumption, except during pregnancy and in women at increased risk of fracture.” And they call for robust randomized controlled trials “to understand whether the key observed associations are causal.”

In a linked editorial, Eliseo Guallar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says, although we can be reassured that coffee intake is generally safe, doctors should not recommend drinking coffee to prevent disease — and people should not start drinking coffee for health reasons.

As this study shows, some people may be at higher risk of adverse effects, he writes, and there is “substantial uncertainty” about the effects of higher levels of intake. Finally, coffee is often consumed with products rich in refined sugars and unhealthy fats, “and these may independently contribute to adverse health outcomes,” he adds.

However, even with these caveats, “moderate coffee consumption seems remarkably safe, and it can be incorporated as part of a healthy diet by most of the adult population,” he concludes.

Eat Well, Age Well

November 17th, 2017

A healthy diet may translate into a healthier old age, researchers report.

Scientists followed close to 1,000 men and women in England, who were born in March 1946, throughout their adulthood. Those who ate more fruits, vegetables and whole-grain cereals — and fewer highly processed foods — throughout adulthood did better on three tests of physical function in their early 60s than those with less healthy eating habits.

The study also found that those whose eating habits improved during adulthood did better on two of the tests, chair rise speed and standing balance time. The third test was timed up-and-go speeds.

“Improving the quality of your diet can have a beneficial effect on health, whatever your age,” said study author Sian Robinson, a professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of Southampton.

“However, this study suggests that making good dietary choices throughout adulthood — by cutting down on highly processed foods and incorporating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains into your diet — can have a significant beneficial effect on strength and physical performance later in life, helping to ensure a much healthier old age,” Robinson said in a university news release.

While the study didn’t prove cause and effect, Cyrus Cooper, director of the university’s Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, said, “The link between dietary patterns and frailty in older people will open the door to effective interventions against the age-related decline in musculoskeletal function, which is such a growing cause of disability in aging populations worldwide.”

There is help for those trying to lose weight and live a healthier life style. If you are trying to get your weight and health under control, please contact our Wellness Coach (Morgan at 281-258-4280) to learn more about our medically designed weight loss method.

Schedule your appointment today and get on the right track to being a healthier you!

Acid Reflux: GERD Can Masquerade As Persistent Cough Or Even Chest Pain

November 15th, 2017

Many people may not realize that symptoms such as chronic cough or chest pain can be caused by acid reflux into the esophagus, because they do not experience classic heartburn symptoms or acid regurgitation. Two new studies presented at the 72nd ACG Annual Scientific Meeting highlight the little known connection between gastroesophageal reflux and seemingly unrelated problems.

Researchers at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston studied patients in emergency rooms who complained of serious chest pain. They measured and recorded pH levels in the esophagus of 31 patients for two days to determine whether excessive acid caused their chest pain. Researchers found more women than men were being rushed to the emergency room with chest pain that was not related to the heart.

Abnormal reflux of acid that would fit the diagnosis of GERD was seen in 57 percent of patients. There are two types of acid reflux, supine, which occurs when the patient is sleeping, and upright which occurs when the patient is awake. In this study, men had more upright reflux, while women experienced both reflux during sleep and while they were awake.

According to lead investigator Dr. Julia J. Liu, “Often the role of acid reflux has been overlooked as a potential factor in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with serious chest pain. But, it is important for patients never to assume their chest pain is caused by GERD until they have been thoroughly evaluated by a physician to rule out heart disease. If they experience persistent chest pain, they should seek emergency medical care.”

Esophageal Acid Testing

GERD is one of the most common causes of chronic cough. While persistent cough can be caused by acid reflux, in some cases, the cough could result from the reflux of non-acidic stomach contents. Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston studied a group of patients with persistent cough who took acid-suppression therapy (proton pump inhibitors) over a period of three years to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of MII-pH, a device that can detect reflux without depending on the acidity of the contents that refluxes into the esophagus. Unlike conventional pH monitoring, which measures acidity, this new technique can detect non-acid reflux.

Researchers used a cost-utility analysis to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of this diagnostic intervention among patients on high dose PPI therapy with chronic persistent cough who might be candidates for anti-reflux surgery, such as laparoscopic fundoplication. Researchers included costs of medication use, physician visits and surgery in their model.

According to Dr. Deepika Koya, “The use of MII-pH testing in patients who experience reflux of non-acid stomach contents is cost-effective by helping clinicians determine which patients would benefit from anti-reflux surgery and excluding those for whom surgery may have no benefit. This warrants further evaluation of widespread application of MII-pH testing in the diagnosis of patients with persistent chronic cough on adequate medical therapy.”

About GERD

GERD is caused by the regurgitation or reflux of gastric fluid into the esophagus. The most common symptom of GERD is frequent or persistent heartburn two or more times a week. Other symptoms of GERD include chest pain, coughing, wheezing, difficulty swallowing, and an acidic or sour aftertaste in the mouth or throat. Each year, GERD accounts for up to 60 percent of patient visits to the emergency room with chest pain not related to the heart, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians.

If you experience severe abdominal pain or chest discomfort, you should seek immediate, emergency medical treatment. By seeing your doctor early, the physical cause of GERD can be treated and more serious problems avoided.

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

 

Fiber-Rich Diet Boosts Survival From Colon Cancer

November 3rd, 2017

A diet rich in fiber may lessen the chances of dying from colon cancer, a new study suggests.

Among people treated for non-metastatic colon cancer, every 5 grams of fiber added to their diet reduced their odds of dying by nearly 25 percent, said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Chan. He is an associate professor in the department of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“What you eat after you’ve been diagnosed may make a difference,” Chan said. “There is a possibility that increasing your intake of fiber may actually lower the rate of dying from colon cancer and maybe even other causes.”

Chan cautioned, however, that the study does not prove that the additional fiber caused people to live longer, only that the two were associated.

Fiber has been linked to better insulin control and less inflammation, which may account for better survival, he suggested. In addition, a high-fiber diet may protect people from developing colon cancer in the first place.

The greatest benefit was attributed to fiber from cereals and whole grains, according to the report. Vegetable fiber was linked to an overall reduction in death, but not specifically in death from colon cancer, and fiber from fruit was not linked to a reduction in death from any cause.

Fiber from foods, not supplements, was linked to better survival, said Chan, who is also an associate professor of gastroenterology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Fiber is beneficial for everyone, not just people with colon cancer, said Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center in New York City.

“Americans are getting an ‘F’ for fiber intake,” she said. “In fact, less than 3 percent of Americans are getting the recommended fiber intake of 25 to 38 grams per day.”

Fiber is critical for optimal health and disease prevention, Heller explained.

The fiber found in food keeps the gastrointestinal (GI) system moving, improves satiety, aids in weight management, fights cancers and feeds the trillions of beneficial microbes living in the gut and intestines, she said.

“Plant fiber is the food of choice for these GI microbes,” Heller noted. “Research is suggesting that when we feed them well, they keep us healthy, fight diseases — such as cancer, heart disease, diverticulosis and multiple sclerosis — and may even help reduce depression and other mental illnesses.”

Dietary fiber is found in plant foods, such as beans, whole grains, nuts, vegetables and fruits. “When you eat more plants you are loading up on fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants,” she said.

To get more fiber in your diet, Heller suggests having a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole-grain bread for lunch, and snack on roasted edamame or hummus and broccoli florets.

Including two vegetable sides with every dinner, eating whole-grain crackers and cereals like shredded wheat, and swapping white rice and French fries for quinoa, barley, oats and faro also would help, she advised.

For the study, Chan and his colleagues collected data on 1,575 men and women who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, and who had been treated for colon or rectal cancer that had not spread beyond the colon.

Specifically, the study looked at total fiber consumption in the six months to four years after the participants’ cancer diagnosis. The researchers also looked at deaths from colon cancer and any other cause. In an eight-year period, 773 participants died, including 174 from colorectal cancer.

The study’s conclusions are limited, indicating an association but not proof, because participants self-reported how much fiber they ate and where it came from, which means the data could have been skewed by people’s memories and the tendency to tell researchers what they think they want to hear.

For more information, please contact your gastroenterologist at Bay Area Gastroenterology at 281.480.6264

Good Lifestyle Choices Add Years to Your Life

October 23rd, 2017

Certain behaviors, many associated with various genes, were linked to longevity in large study

Change your lifestyle, change your life span!

That’s the claim of a new study that found not smoking, watching your weight and continuing to learn new things could help you live longer.

And genes play a part in the lifestyle choices people make, according to researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

“The power of big data and genetics allow us to compare the effect of different behaviors and diseases in terms of months and years of life lost or gained, and to distinguish between mere association and causal effect,” researcher Jim Wilson said in a university news release. But this study didn’t prove that lifestyle choices cause life span to shorten or lengthen.

For the study, scientists analyzed genetic information from more than 600,000 people in North America, Europe and Australia to determine how genes affect life span.

For example, certain genes are associated with increased alcohol consumption and addiction, the study authors explained.

Smoking and traits associated with lung cancer had the greatest effect on shortening life expectancy. The researchers determined that smoking a pack of cigarettes each day over a lifetime leads to an average loss of seven years of life.

But the good news was that smokers who quit the habit lived as long as people who never smoked, according to the report.

The investigators also found that body fat and other factors linked to diabetes reduce life expectancy. For every excess 2.2 pounds a person carries, life expectancy is cut by two months, the findings showed.

People who are open to new experiences and who have higher levels of learning also tend to live longer, the researchers said. Every year spent studying beyond school added almost a year to a person’s life span.

Wilson and colleagues also found that differences in a gene that affects blood cholesterol levels can reduce life span by around eight months, and differences in a gene linked to the immune system can add about half a year to life expectancy.

Need help losing weight?  Book your appointment today to meet with our Wellness Coach, and learn more about the Ideal Protein weight loss method. You can reach Morgan at 281.258.4280, and get started today!

 

Excess belly fat increases older women’s risk of some cancers, new research suggests

October 11th, 2017

Researchers followed nearly 5,900 Danish postmenopausal women for up to 12 years and found that abdominal fat was a bigger factor than body weight when it came to the risk of lung and gastrointestinal cancers.

The findings highlight the need for weight management priorities for older women, who are prone to abdominal weight gain, according to study author Line Maersk Staunstrup, a doctoral student at Nordic Bioscience ProScion in Denmark.

“The average elderly women can very much use this information, as it is known that the menopause transition initiates a shift in body fat towards the central trunk area. Therefore elderly women should be especially aware of their lifestyle when they approach the pre-menopause age,” she said in a society news release.

Commenting on the study, Dr. Andrea De Censi, director of medical oncology at Galliera Hospital in Genoa, Italy, said the findings confirm the role that obesity, and particularly insulin resistance, play in several cancers.

“Increases in insulin, resulting from overconsumption of simple carbohydrates such as potatoes, wheat, rice and corn, result in fat accumulation that is specifically visceral and abdominal,” he said.

Insulin also has a harmful effect on hormone production, and excess fat boosts chronic inflammation throughout the body, another risk factor for several cancers, he said.

This data opens the door for physicians to initiate a number of interventions in obese patients, and contribute to cancer prevention.

For a medically designed weight loss program, please contact us to learn more about the Ideal Protein weight loss method. Book your appointment today to meet with our wellness coach and begin your journey to a healthier you!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What You Need to Know and How You Can Help

October 5th, 2017

Thanks to earlier detection –through screening and increased awareness— and better treatments, a woman’s risk of dying of breast dropped 38 percent between the late 1980s and 2014, translating into 297,300 fewer breast cancer deaths during that time.

However, there’s much more to be done. Breast cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer death in women. Only lung cancer kills more women each year. And there remains a large racial gap in mortality, with African-American women having 42 percent higher death rates compared to whites. The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is about 1 in 37 (about 2.7 percent).

If you or someone you love is concerned about developing breast cancer, have been recently diagnosed, are going through treatment, or are trying to stay well after treatment, the American Cancer Society can help you find the answers you need.

The Facts:

The American Cancer Society’s estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2017 are:

  • About 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
  • About 63,410 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 40,610 women will die from breast cancer.
  • While black and white women get breast cancer at roughly the same rate, black women are more likely to die from it.

At this time, there are more than 3.1 million people with a history of breast cancer in the United States. (This includes women still being treated and those who have completed treatment.)

Risk factors:

  • Limited but accumulating research indicates that smoking may slightly increase breast cancer risk, particularly long-term, heavy smoking and among women who start smoking before their first pregnancy.
  • Obesity increases the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Risk is about 1.5 times higher in overweight women and about 2 times higher in obese women than in lean women.
  • Growing evidence suggests that women who get regular physical activity have a 10%-25% lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who are inactive, with stronger evidence for postmenopausal than premenopausal women.
  • Numerous studies have confirmed that alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast cancer in women by about 7%-10% for each one drink of alcohol consumed per day on average. Women who have 2-3 alcoholic drinks per day have a 20 percent higher risk of breast cancer compared to non-drinkers.

What You Can Do to Help

There’s more to awareness than just wearing pink!

Be aware of breast cancer risks, the value of screening and early detection, and treatment options available to women and men who are diagnosed with one of the many forms of breast cancer.

 

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