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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:50 am 
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Spider venom to be tested as cancer cure

Queensland scientists are investigating the possible use of spider venom as a cure for breast cancer.

Researchers at James Cook University in Cairns are to study the medicinal properties of funnel-web spider and tarantula venom.

Queensland Science Minister Ros Bates said the research was on the back of international studies that suggested certain toxins in spider venom could block cancer-causing enzymes.

"They are looking at ways in which the venom may be able to block or kill breast cancer cells - so it could actually lead to a cure," Ms Bates told AAP on Friday.

"It's very early days, but it's fairly ground-breaking research."

The research is being jointly funded by the state government, the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Breast Cancer Foundation.

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/health/85178 ... ancer-cure


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 5:20 am 
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A Choice review finds the nutritional benefits of coconut water are often exaggerated

COCONUT water might not be all it is cracked up to be. A consumer group has found the nutritional benefits are often exaggerated.

A Choice review hasn't found little evidence supporting claims the trendy drinks - which cost as much as $4 a bottle - assist with rapid hydration, weight loss and digestion.

It branded them a waste of money, saying the health-conscious were better off drinking plain water and eating fruit and vegetables.

Coconut water has received a lot of media attention as being a wonder health drink

Choice spokesman Ingrid Just said some coconut waters were marketed as good sources of nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium, but in reality contained little. A banana generally had the same amount of potassium.

Some coconut waters also were sold as an alternative to sports drinks but were not as effective for hydration.

Ms Just said there were "better and alternative ways to go".

"It is a fashionable drink at the moment and it probably gives you the sense you are projecting a healthy image and that is fine," Ms Just said.

Lady Gaga cools off with coconut water on Melbourne visit

"But if you are drinking it for specific health benefits like rehydration and potassium then there are probably better and alternative ways to go about getting those nutrients."

Choice had dietitians and a consumer expert review a range of coconut waters on the market.

Associate Professor Catherine Itsiopoulos, of the Dietitians Association of Australia, said coconut was a better option than soft drinks because of its low sugar and calorie content.

But minerals and antioxidants were best found in fresh food and calcium in milk.

"Coconut water has received a lot of media attention as being a wonder health drink," Assoc Prof Itsiopoulos said.

"It is certainly not a harmful product - it is naturally sourced. But it is an expensive way to achieve hydration."

http://www.news.com.au/money/money-matt ... z24D5MkfJj


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 7:43 am 
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Vegemite ingredient may fight superbugs

AN ingredient found in Vegemite may be able to help combat some antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" that kill thousands, a study suggests.

But consuming jars of the popular yeast extract before your next hospital visit isn't the answer to warding off potentially deadly staph infections.

Researchers said their results were achieved by administering megadoses of nicotinamide, more commonly known as niacin or vitamin B3, far beyond what any normal diet would provide.

The research, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, found high doses of the vitamin increased by 1000 times the ability of immune cells to kill staph bacteria.

"Antibiotics are wonder drugs, but they face increasing problems with resistance by various types of bacteria," said Associate Professor Adrian Gombart from Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute.

"This could give us a new way to treat staph infections that can be deadly, and might be used in combination with current antibiotics," he said.

Assoc Prof Gombart warned people against taking high doses of the vitamin because there was no evidence normal diets or vitamin B3 supplements could prevent or treat bacterial infection.

Australian Professor Lyn Gilbert, the director of the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, said the study was plausible, but it would be a difficult and expensive task to test the findings in human trials.

However, she said it was good science that explained the mechanisms at work to eliminate the infectious organisms from the blood.

The researchers used laboratory animals and human blood to show that megadoses of vitamin B3 increased the numbers and effectiveness of neutrophils, a particular type of white blood cells that can kill harmful bacteria.

One of the most serious staph infections, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, was part of the study.

Researchers said the widespread use of antibiotics had boosted the emergence and spread of MRSA.

When used in human blood, clinical doses of vitamin B3 wiped out the staph infection in just a few hours.

"This vitamin is surprisingly effective in fighting off and protecting against one of today's most concerning public health threats," said senior co-author Dr George Liu, an infectious disease expert at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaki ... 6459478787


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2012 5:34 am 
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Healer 'infected 16 with HIV'

A SWISS acupuncturist allegedly drugged his patients then deliberately infected them with HIV.
The self-styled healer has been indicted by a Swiss court on charges that he intentionally infected 16 people with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in cases going back more than a decade, authorities said.

The unidentified man was indicted by a five-judge panel in Bern-Mitelland regional court on charges of intentionally spreading human disease and causing serious bodily harm, offenses that carry maximum penalties of five to 10 years respectively, said the regional prosecutor's office in Bern, the Swiss capital.

The office said in a statement that most of the victims attended a music school that the man operated.

A spokesman for the prosecutor, Christof Scheurer, said the man also practiced as an unlicensed, self-styled acupuncturist - a trade which he is believed to have used between 2001 and 2005 as a pretext to prick and infect some of his victims with blood that was infected with AIDS.

HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood, semen or breast milk.

The police investigation concluded that the man had used various pretexts to prick his victims, but it remained unclear exactly what objects he had used.

In other cases, the investigation found, the self-described healer - who is not HIV-positive - had served his victims drinks that made them pass out so he could infect them.

"The defendant denies everything that is alleged," the prosecutor's statement added.

The cases apparently came to light when Bern hospital Inselspital began to investigate similar complaints of infections in connection with a so-called healer.

Prosecutors say the probe, which was launched after one alleged victim filed a criminal complaint in early 2005, has finally been completed, but that it took years because of a number of difficulties ranging from the use of genetic testing to identifying victims while adhering to protections for patient privacy.

Proceedings against a second suspect in the case have been permanently closed, the statement said, because his involvement could not be confirmed.

http://www.news.com.au/news/swiss-acupu ... z259cAcHms


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 5:51 am 
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Study finds computer, television screen time directly linked to childhood obesity

SCREEN time has overtaken exercise as the most important factor in childhood obesity and should be limited, a South Australian study has found.

The UniSA study looked at 2200 children aged between nine and 16 years and found the length of time they spent in front of television and computer screens was a more likely indicator of being overweight or obese than the amount of exercise they did.

Study co-author and UniSA researcher Dr Carol Maher said screen time now made up about one quarter of waking time for the age group.

"In the past two decades, young people's physical activity behaviour has been the subject of scores of interventions but, in comparison, interventions aimed at reducing screen time have been relatively uncommon," she said.

"Our findings suggest that screen-time reduction may be a more effective target behaviour for intervention studies aimed at reducing overweight and obesity among children."

The study found there were about two and a half times as many obese study subjects classed in the category of high-screen-time and low-exercise (10.7 per cent), as in the low-screen-time and high-exercise category (4.3 per cent).

Dr Maher said the value of physical activity also should not be underestimated.

"Increased likelihood of a young person being overweight or obese was more strongly and consistently associated with high screen-time than with low physical activity," she said.

"Findings underscore the need for interventions targeting screen behaviour in young people."

Dr Maher said the study, published in the latest edition of Acta Paediatrica, was carried out because there was debate in the scientific community about which factor had the stronger association with obesity.

The children's behaviour over 24-hour periods was studied and they were divided into groups based on high and low activity, as well as on high and low screen use, according to national guidelines.

Low-activity children exercised for less than 60 minutes each day and high screen-time children failed to meet national guidelines.

"Increased likelihood of overweight or obese was often associated with high screen time, but only sometimes and less strongly associated with low ... physical activity," Dr Maher said.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/nation ... 6463979076


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 5:27 am 
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New age 'medicine' of Serge Benhayon leaves trail of broken families

AN alleged new-age cult, run by a former bankrupt who claims to be Leonardo da Vinci reincarnated, is expanding its multimillion-dollar enterprise with the help of Brisbane's medical mainstream.

Universal Medicine, whose practitioners offer controversial treatments to ward off cancer including "esoteric breast massage", is drawing a growing number of clients to its Brisbane clinic via referrals from eye and lung surgeons, rheumatologists and GPs.

UniMed Brisbane is based in a historic $1.75 million, 10-room former Fairfield homestead from the 1860s, now co-owned by Universal Medicine founder Serge Benhayon.

The one-time tennis coach founded the group, which has 2000 mainly female followers, after emerging from bankruptcy over an unpaid lease on a Sydney tennis centre in 1998.

He now boasts interests in property worth $7.4 million and an enterprise that turns over at least $2 million a year, extending from its NSW base in Goonellabah to north Queensland and Europe.

Mr Benhayon's supporters include Kenmore dentist Rachel Hall, whose "holistic" clinic, dotted with da Vinci illustrations, attracts Universal Medicine followers from as far as the UK and Germany.

Universal Medicine, which teaches followers to avoid the "negative energy" in everything from cheese and alcohol to sleeping late, sells merchandise from books to pillow cases, holds concerts, Vietnam retreats and "relationship workshops" that gross up to $36,000 a session.

But the group has come under fire from family members of devotees, who say Mr Benhayon holds a Svengali-like sway over members' patterns of diet, sleeping, exercise, the music they listen to and sexual behaviour.

They claim Universal Medicine has led to the breakdown of at least 42 relationships.

One man said his wife had spent $50,000 on Universal Medicine in the past three years, another said his wife had spent $40,000 in four years.

A Brisbane father blamed his marriage breakdown on radical changes in his wife's behaviour encouraged by Universal Medicine, and was concerned about its influence on his daughter, 7.

"There is absolutely no question it's a cult," he said.

"She used to come home from the workshops like she was on drugs."

Cult Counselling Australia director Raphael Aron said the number of marriage breakdowns, if true, was "probably unique in my experience in relation to the history of organisations, be they cults, sects or sub-sects, in Australia".

"That's an absolutely devastating figure, catastrophic," Mr Aron said. "We have parents, husbands, coming to us concerned about the wellbeing of their wives, and certainly about the wellbeing of their children."

Mr Aron said CCA had also counselled breakaway UM followers, who were still "battling" to withdraw emotionally from the group.

Mr Benhayon told The Courier-Mail it was absurd to suggest Universal Medicine was a cult and his students were not compelled to do anything. He said the reported 42 marriage breakdowns "if accurate, is terribly disappointing" but Universal Medicine was not to blame.

"I'm not causing the divide, the divide is being caused by the situation (which) as far as I know, factually, has always been there," he said.

Dr Hall said there were "no grounds for saying it's a cult" and that media scrutiny of Mr Benhayon "feels like a witchhunt". She knew of "a few" couples who split after joining the group as lifestyle changes were "very confronting" for some partners.

"But were there cracks in the relationship beforehand?" Dr Hall said. "Maybe the woman decides she's feeling more confident to go ... the other rejected party feels hurt and blames (Universal Medicine).

"A lot of them hide behind Serge. They play 'Serge said'. I've known Serge for eight years and he's never said 'stay' or 'leave'."

THE BELIEFS

* System of ‘healing, health and wellbeing’ devised by a former tennis coach with no medical qualifications
* Followers told to avoid dairy food, gluten, caffeine, alcohol, drugs and most modern forms of music, except for Universal Medicine’s in-house music as it has ‘negative energy’
* Sleep recommended 9pm to 3am
* Treatments include ‘craniosacral massage’, ‘esoteric connective tissue therapy’, and ‘esoteric breast massage’. All lack mainstream medical endorsement
* After breast massage, clients told to use Universal Medicine cream to deter bad energy, and to not allow their partners to touch them without permission

http://www.news.com.au/national/new-age ... 6467645378


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:35 am 
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Biological Implausibility Aside, Acupuncture Works

While in China as a correspondent for the New York Times, journalist James Reston underwent an emergency appendectomy. The entire process, which he described in a 1971 feature, was unsurprisingly foreign, but more curious -- and intriguing -- was his doctor's method of relieving his post-operative pain:

Li Chang-yuan, doctor of acupuncture at the hospital, with my approval, inserted three long, thin needles into the outer part of my right elbow and below my knees and manipulated them in order to stimulate the intestine and relieve the pressure and distension of the stomach.

That sent ripples of pain racing through my limbs and, at least, had the effect of diverting my attention from the distress in my stomach.

With these words, acupuncture began its ascent to the American mainstream. Accepted as perhaps more credible than other forms of alternative medicine, it's nonetheless been unable to rise above the inevitable suspicion to which all holistic treatments are subject: that they are, at best, nothing more than fancy ways of invoking the placebo effect and, at worst, scams.

The main argument in support of acupuncture echoes Reston's own account: at a certain point, all that really matters is that the pain goes away. And in fact, there is evidence to suggest that acupuncture can be an effective way of relieving lower back pain, kneeosteoarthritis, and migraines. However, most of these studies also show that sham acupuncture -- being poked with randomly with needles, or even just being tricked into thinking you've been poked -- is just as effective. The general consensus has been that a placebo effect , albeit one bolstered by 2000 years of history, is indeed the main mechanism behind acupuncture's ability to provide pain relief. In an Atlantic article on alternative medicine last year, Steven Salzberg, a researcher at the University of Maryland at College Park told David Freeman that "Acupuncture is just a 3,000-year-old relative of bloodletting."

But new, large study out of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, cautiously suggests that there is indeed something more to acupuncture. A meta-analysis of 18,000 patients from 29 randomized controlled studies, it found that the treatment was more effective than controls in relieving back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, and shoulder pain. Significantly, it also found that real acupuncture was more effective than shams.

Putting their results into context, the authors of the study explain that for a pain rating of 60 on a 100-point scale, follow-up scores decreased to around 43 for those had received no treatment, 35 for those who had received fake treatment, and 30 for those who received acupuncture. This translates into a 50 percent reduction in pain for the acupuncture patients, and only 30 and 42.5 percent reductions for the control and placebo groups, respectively.

It is impossible to measure pain objectively (Radiolab did a great piece on this last week), and the difference in pain reduction between sham and true acupuncture, though statistically significant, was small. But the authors' methodical elimination of biases, coupled with their massive sample size, give weight to their findings. And, as Freedman wrote last year, even a small boost in effectiveness over placebos is acceptable by Western standards:

"Mainstream medicine uses the placebo effect all the time," says Ted Kaptchuk, a Harvard researcher who studies the impact of placebos. "Doctors don't tell you the drug they're giving you is barely better than a placebo. They all spin." To be approved by the FDA, a drug has to do better than a placebo in studies--but most approved drugs do only a little better, and for many drugs the evidence is mixed.

The bigger trouble, if acupuncture's effectiveness can't be explained by the placebo effect, may be that we don't have a good alternative for how it might work. The authors of this new study acknowledge that a lot of the controversy surrounding acupuncture comes from "its lack of biological plausibility, and its provenance in theories lying outside of biomedicine." Attempts have been made to look beyond traditional Chinese concepts of balanced qi and body channels to theories about triggering the release endorphins and the anatomic locations of loose connective tissues, but no robust evidence exists for any of the proposed "plausible" explanations.

The lack of a physiologic rationale may be enough to stop some doctors from referring their patients to an acupuncturist. And the treatment can get pricey, especially in cases that require multiple sessions, and it is not currently covered by Medicare or Medicaid. But in an accompanying editorial, Dr. Andrew Avins points out that compassionate care is also associated with improved health outcomes in ways that we don't fully understand. He asks, "Should the lack of biological plausibility lead us to reject compassion and empathy as a means to help improve our patients' health?"

As for the new information this study gives us, its authors point out that "the clinical decision made by physicians and patients is not between true and sham acupuncture but between a referral to an acupuncturist or avoiding such a referral," and it is here that their results most strongly support acupuncture's effectiveness. Even if there are a lot of placebo-like factors influencing the success of true acupuncture, it did, after all, help the pain go away.

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archi ... ks/262224/


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:52 am 
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A-Z of healthy eating

Are you eating healthy?

Follow our alphabetical guide and make lifestyle changes to a longer, healthier life.

Feeding your body what it needs is as easy as ABC, so take the fi rst bite towards feeling – and looking – your best. Brought to you by Bupa.

A...is for alcohol in moderation

Having too much alcohol on a regular basis increases your risk of liver and heart disease as well as some cancers. Guidelines recommend that adults have no more than two standard drinks (200ml wine in total) a day. It may also help to have two alcohol-free days a week.

B...is for breakfast

Breakfast is essential as it kick-starts your metabolism. body+soul nutritionist Lisa Guy recommends one that combines wholegrains, protein and either fruit or veg, such as muesli with yoghurt and berries or eggs on wholegrain toast with baby spinach and grilled tomato.

C...is for calories versus kilojoules

They are both measuring the same thing – energy in food – but in different ways, says Bupa dietitian Gemma Cosgriff. There are approximately 4.18 kilojoules to a calorie. Online conversion tools are available at bupa.com.au/health

D...is for digestion and bowel health

Poor digestive and bowel health is sometimes caused by intolerances or health problems, but often the culprit is not enough fibre and water. Eat more fruit and veg as well as wholegrains, and drink plenty of water every day.

E...is for eating around exercise

Eat some protein and healthy carbs within an hour after exercise and you'll be helping your muscles to repair and recover from their workout, and giving your body some much-needed energy. A glass of low-fat milk and a piece of fruit is perfect.

F...is for fruit and veg

Eating more fruit and veg has multiple health benefi ts: you're lowering your risk of chronic diseases, cancer and obesity. Aim for two pieces of fruit and five serves of veg a day. Not wanting to count serves? Fill half your plate with nonstarchy vegetables, Cosgriff says.

G...is for green drinks

Want to cut down on your caffeine? Try a green drink instead. Green tea, for example, contains much less caffeine than coffee and black tea. Or you can whip up a green smoothie made of green veg such as spinach, lettuce, celery and cucumber and one piece of fruit.

H...is for H2O

Water really is the perfect drink. For zero calories, water hydrates us, helps the body to function well and keeps bowels and kidneys in good working order. If you find water bland, try adding lemon or mint for flavour, or have a cup of non-caffeinated herbal tea.

I...is for iron-rich foods

Many women don't have enough iron in their diet, leaving them fatigued and at risk of developing anaemia. While you may need a supplement to help boost your iron absorption, ironrich foods are also essential. Try lean beef or lamb, eggs, spinach, tofu or lentils, and pair with vitamin C-rich foods to aid iron absorption.

J...is for journal keeping

A food diary may sound laborious, but research suggests this is one of the best ways to change your eating habits and lose weight. You'll need to record everything you eat, including the portions of the food, so keep the journal with you at all times, or use your smartphone.

K...is for know your portions

"Imagine your lunch or dinner plate as a circle – one half should be filled with vegetables, one quarter with protein and the other quarter with some form of carbs," Cosgriff says. She adds that a serve of lean red meat should be no bigger or thicker than your palm.

L...is for low-fat animal products

Saturated fat clogs our arteries and raises our cholesterol levels, and dairy and meat are two of the main sources of it in our diets. Switching to low-fat dairy and lean meat massively reduces your intake, so make your next latte a skim.

M...is for mono- and poly- unsaturated fats

Reducing saturated fats is only half the fat story – you also want to replace them with healthy fats, which actually help lower your cholesterol. Opt for olive, sunfl ower and canola oils when cooking, and eat avocados, seeds and nuts regularly.

N...is for nuts and other healthy snacks

A great snack is one that is high in fibre, low in added sugar and is about 400kj, Cosgriff says. She recommends a handful of unroasted, unsalted nuts; a piece of fresh fruit; a tub of lowfat natural yoghurt or a cup of minestrone soup.

O...is for omega-3 fatty acids

These have been proven to help reduce inflammation in the body and protect you from heart disease and stroke, and they appear to be important for brain function. Sources include oily fish such as salmon and tuna, as well as canola oil and flaxseeds.

P...is for protein with each meal

"Protein helps to stave off hunger pangs, so you're less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks," Guy says. She recommends protein sources from plants and animals. Try legumes, tofu and quinoa as well as yoghurt, cheese, fish and lean meat.

Q...is for quick & healthy dinners

We're a nation in love with takeaway food, but it's not doing our bodies any favours – fast food is high in fat, sugar and salt. You only need 15 minutes to make a tasty, healthy dinner. Consider a chicken and vegetable stir-fry with rice or a grilled fish fillet with mixed pea, mint and fetta salad.

R...is for read the labels

Forget about the health claims that foods make and go straight to the nutrition panel. Many show the kilojoules, fat and nutrients in a serve as a percentage of your daily intake, which makes it easier to figure out if it's loaded with sugar or a good source of fibre.

S...is for salt and sugar

If you want to cut down on these two nasties, avoid deli meats and sauces as well as cakes, biscuits and junk food, Cosgriff says. It's also wise to look for foods with less than 120mg of sodium per 100g and cereals with less than 25g of sugar per 100g. Smartphone apps such as FoodSwitch can help you find healthier options.

T...is for treats

"You don't have to cut out any food, as long as you're controlling the intake," Cosgriff says. She says a square or two of chocolate a day, for instance, is okay, as long as you have the strength to stop there. If you don't, have it less frequently.

U...is for unprocessed foods

Whether you want to lose weight, protect your body or just have more energy, the key is to eat mostly unprocessed foods. They're generally higher in nutrients and fibre and lower in salt, sugar and unhealthy fats. So make friends with your grocer, butcher, baker and fishmonger.

V...is for variety

Just as opting for unprocessed foods leads to healthier choices, so does eating a variety of foods. Aim to eat 20 different foods a day, including fruit and veg in a rainbow of colours. Sound too hard? You can do that with a bowl of muesli, a salad sandwich, some fruit and yoghurt, and a stir-fry.

W...is for wholegrains

Wholegrains are high in fibre and they have a low glycaemic index (GI), meaning they don't cause a big spike in blood-sugar levels and keep you fuller for longer. Great wholegrain options are rolled oats, wholegrain breads and cereals, brown rice and pasta, and even natural unsalted popcorn.

X...is for xylitol and natural sweeteners

Want to reduce your added sugar intake but still like a sweet taste? Consider using natural sweeteners such as xylitol or stevia. They are very sweet but with a fraction of the calories.

Y...is for yo-yo dieting

This is when there are repeated losses and regains of body weight. It is not recommended, as it can raise the risk of diabetes and stroke and make the body more prone to infection. Experts agree it's better to lose weight gradually over time.

Z...is for zinc for an immunity boost

Along with vitamin C, zinc keeps your immunity system in top shape. Many people don't get enough zinc, however. Good sources include red meat, seafood, wholegrain foods, nuts, tofu and legumes.

http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/food+diet ... ting,19819


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:23 am 
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Coconuts: all they're cracked up to be?

A new study showing that coconut oil prevents tooth decay has added to the recent enthusiasm for all things coconut – not that Miranda Kerr, who is a committed devotee, needs reminding.

The model last year piqued public interest in virgin coconut oil when she revealed that she will not go a day without it.

"I personally take four teaspoons per day, either on my salads, in my cooking or in my cups of green tea" she said.

Coconut oil gets the thumbs-up from Miranda Kerr, who says she eats it every day.

But, as much as many have flocked to health-food shops with the hope of tapping into Kerr’s secret weapon, do new health claims about the once-maligned coconut oil and its trendy sibling, coconut water, stand up to scrutiny?

Researchers at the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland say coconut oil treated with enzymes attacks Streptococcus bacteria – a major cause of tooth decay.

"Incorporating enzyme-modified coconut oil into dental hygiene products would be an attractive alternative to chemical additives," Dr Damien Brady last week told the Society for General Microbiology conference at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England.

The study also found that enzyme-modified coconut oil was active against the yeast Candida albicans, which can cause thrush and other health problems.

After decades of warnings about its alleged artery-clogging properties, recent studies suggest that coconut oil may in fact be heart friendly and could have many other health benefits.

"For more than 60 years, health officials and the media have warned that saturated fats are bad for your health and lead to a host of negative consequences, including high cholesterol, obesity, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease," says best-selling author and Huffington Post blogger, Dr Joseph Mercola.

"It may surprise you to learn that the naturally occurring saturated fat in coconut oil is actually good for you and provides a number of profound health benefits, including improving heart health, supporting your immune system, boosting your thyroid and improving your skin.

"Nearly 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is of a type rarely found in nature called lauric acid, a ‘miracle’ compound that your body converts into monolaurin, which has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties," says Dr Mercola.

Thomas Brenna, a professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University, agrees. He told The New York Times: "Most of the [earlier] studies involving coconut oil were done with partially hydrogenated coconut oil, which researchers used because they needed to raise the cholesterol levels of their rabbits in order to obtain certain data".

Partial hydrogenation creates harmful trans fats and destroys many essential fatty acids and antioxidants present in virgin coconut oil, says Dr Brenna.

"Virgin coconut oil, which has not been chemically treated, is a different thing in terms of health perspective," says Dr Brenna.

A recent study by Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research (GIMR) found that a diet rich in coconut oil reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by protecting against “insulin resistance” and avoiding the buildup of body fat.

"These findings are important because obesity and insulin resistance are major factors leading to the development of Type 2 diabetes," say GIMR researchers Dr Nigel Turner and Associate Professor Jiming Ye.

"Coconut oil has dragged itself out of the muck of vast misrepresentation over the past few years but still rarely gets the appreciation it truly deserves," according to Sayer Ji, founder of US natural medicine database GreenMedInfo.com.

"Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, analgesic and fever-reducing properties, is an exceptional healing agent and is fat-burning," says Ji.

While coconut oil and coconut milk are extracted from the kernel or meat of mature coconuts harvested from the coconut palm, coconut water is the liquid found inside young green coconuts.

The coconut water craze - backed by celebrity investors including Madonna, Demi Moore and Matthew McConaughey - has snowballed in the US and Europe with sales doubling to $US265 million last year and expected to double again this year.

More than 15 brands have been launched on the Australian market in the past 12 months and bottles, cans and Tetra Paks of coconut water are increasingly visible on supermarket shelves.

"There are few beverages on this planet as biocompatible to the human body and its hydration needs as coconut water,” says Ji, who notes that coconut water has even been used for intravenous hydration of critically ill patients in remote areas.

"While some are concerned about the sugar content of this slightly sweet beverage, recent research shows that it actually exhibits blood sugar lowering properties," Ji says.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson and dietician Andrea Giancoli explains: "The big deal about coconut water is that it packs a potassium punch, and potassium is important for heart health, regulating blood pressure and other body systems".

But coconut water is not "magical," Giancoli told National Public Radio, "and there’s plenty of potassium in a healthy diet."

New industry body Coconut Water Australia says coconut water is "the purest liquid second only to water itself…choc-full of electrolytes, calcium, potassium, magnesium: everything that is good for you for only around 60 calories per serve."

However, consumer rights group Choice remains unconvinced by what it describes as "the latest health fad."

"While the marketing on the packages claims coconut water is a nutritional goldmine," Choice found that dietary consultants believed very differently: "…the only real goldmine is for those selling the product."

Dietician Tania Ferraretto told the watchdog that coconut water has been promoted as a source of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorous, "but it only contains small amounts of these and other nutrients."

Instead, Ferraretto recommends plain water: "It’s the best drink to hydrate the body and it’s free, unlike coconut water, which can cost up to $4 a bottle."

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-an ... z26kyDWoSb


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:14 am 
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Healthy Choices Linked With Outlook On Life Study Claims

Attitude really is everything.

A new study shows that having a healthy, "can-do" attitude is linked with good-for-you lifestyle choices like healthy eating, exercising and abstaining from smoking.

"Understanding the psychological underpinning of a person’s eating patterns and exercise habits is central to understanding obesity," study researcher Deborah Cobb-Clark, director of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, said in a statement.

The study included information from 3,412 men and 3,901 women between ages 15 and 69 who were part of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey between 2003 and 2010.

The researchers found a strong correlation between a person's take-charge outlook on life -- whether they thought they had control over their own life outcomes -- and actually living the healthier lifestyle, compared with people who perceived life as more "up to fate."

They also found that men and women had different perceptions on what it means to be healthy: men were more likely in the study to want to see a physical result of their healthy lifestyle, whereas women were more likely to just enjoy the everyday benefits of living healthily.

The study was released as a "discussion paper" and has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed study; therefore, its findings should be considered preliminary.

Every little thing that could promote a healthy lifestyle -- even if it is just attitude! -- adds up. A recent study in the British Medical Journal showed healthy habits (exercising, eating right, not smoking) pay off even in elderly age. Karolinska Institute researchers were able to show these activities were linked with five extra years of life among elderly women, and six extra years of life among elderly men.

Another study in the journal Aging showed that having a positive attitude (not to mention a good sense of humor, and low levels of neuroticism) was a shared character trait among centenarians -- suggesting that these could be vital factors to living a long life, ABC News reported.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/1 ... 90635.html


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