Tuesday, March 03, 2015

The cranberry juice cure for UTIs

The New Scientist tackled the issue of drinking cranberry juice to stop or prevent urinary tract infections.

The theory is that the red stuff contains proanthrocyanides, which have an anti-adhesive effect on bacteria in the bladder.

Apparently bacteria can stick to the bladder wall and bury themselves in goo, so antibiotics cannot kill them. They then can come out after a round of antibiotics and start the infection again.

This works for some people, not for others.

One reason it seems to work might be that if people know about cranberry juice they may already be eating a more healthy diet. Or the placebo effect may be in action here.

But all this is far from settled. Some people say a couple dozen glasses a day would be needed--obviously not practical. Those cranberry capsules contain the amount in a few cranberries.

So this varies from person to person. There is basically no science.

But cranberry and vodka--hey, you can forget the pain of the infection, anyway.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Do you consider yourself healthy?

Health and nutrition maven Jane Brody, NYT, Mar 2, 2105, says she always answers questionnaires saying she is healthy--despite a double knee replacement 10 yrs ago, breast cancer 16 yrs ago, a bad back, tinnitus, and high cholesterol.

She says this is OK because she can still walk three miles a day and swim three-quarters of a mile. She shovels, sweeps, cooks, and chases her dog around. She still writes a weekly column at age 74.

The World Health Organization describes health as a stage of complete physical, mental, and social well-being--not just the absence of disease or infirmity."

But what about all that well-being WITH infirmity? Is that health?

Most people--she points out--live longer and age with chronic ailments.

Some scientists says being functional is more important than disease-free.

Yet--we constantly try to find medical problems or head them off--all this preventive stuff. You could spend your life going from test to test--or you could live your life.

The idea that ALL risks can be lowered leads to more risks.

Many scientists also believe it's better to fix a problem than to manage it.

And yet another assumption--that early detection before symptoms is lifesaving--is challenged by some.

Sometimes this turns people into patients years or decades sooner than they would be otherwise.

And--get this! Now researchers think income, education, a safe physical environment, social support, and genetics--among other factors have more effect on "health" than chasing down every risk factor and trying to "fix" it.

Me, I would say my health is fair. I still typed this, didn't I?

As for Brody's breast cancer--if it had not been detected, would she be writing? See? Not simple. You have to decide for yourself.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Maybe take some of your fruit in juice form?

The Univ of Washington Center for Public Health, as published in the online Nutrition Journal, says Americans eat just under one cup of fruit a day. This should be 1.5 to 2 cups! This according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

Typically, the scientists found, this came in two parts of whole fruit to one part 100% juice.

Kids and adolescents drank less than half a cup of 100% juice a day, adults less than a third of a cup.

Adding more 100% juice did not displace other whole fruit servings.

Low income or minority adults were least likely to eat whole fruit.

Adding 100% juice is a cheaper way to get the fruit onboard.

I don't eat much fruit--do you? I do drink a cup of 100% cranberry juice from frozen concentrate, when we remember to buy it.

I could do better.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Music may confuse the older worker

There used to be a show on a radio station in DC called ELEVATOR MUSIC FROM HELL. They would take big hits and dim them down into Muzak. Ironical, what?

Now, though, Georgia Tech has found that older adults cannot work as well--they forget names for one thing--in an office with background music trilling on all day.

The music did not seem to affect the younger participants in the exercise. But both groups said the music was distracting.

This info would be good in offices, but also in retirement homes. Don't play the Elevator Music From Hell during explanation of activities.

Things like that.

But what about the grocery store--there is always blah music going there.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Losing weight and keeping it off is hard

Well, duh! I have been "the fat one" in my family all my many years. I have lost, regained, lost, regained, lost...finally I gave up and tossed the scale at age 40.

Now--researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, have looked hundreds of weight and obesity studies from the last decade--and I am not alone.

90 studies on preventing obesity among children: Small improvements in weight outcomes. The programs that worked best were in school diet and exercise, and lasted 12 weeks to a year.

Prevention of obesity in adults. Almost no studies on helping normal weight adults maintain normal weight. A single, small study in 1980 showed benefits from a 12-month education and incentive program.

Treating obesity among adults. 68 studies. Doing some activity is better than doing none. Adults in some form of treatment had an average of 7-pound greater loss. Weight loss results, overall, did not differ whether the treatment involved diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, or drugs. Drugs had side efx.

The researchers also found studies showed that a 5-10% loss could positively impact health--I guess meaning measurably.

As for keeping weight off: Eight studies since 2011 found doing SOMETHING to keep weight off, can help at least during the short term. There were no studies involving the long term.

Use of drugs can also maintain a loss of 5% of body weight--no effect on keeping a 10% loss from returning.

So...that was discouraging. All that.