Alpha-linolenic acid associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease

New study finds alpha-linolenic acid associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease                                Source: PR Newswire   

November 23, 2012 — A meta-analysis published in the recent issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluates how the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) offers protective effects on cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

The study found ALA to be associated with a lower risk of CVD, particularly coronary heart disease (CHD) death. These findings support the potential heart health benefits of ALA and suggest consumers should obtain adequate amounts of ALA in their diets.

Walnuts1 are a key source of ALA and the only nut that provides a meaningful amount of the essential plant-based omega-3 fatty acid offering 2.5 grams of ALA in a mere handful.

This systematic review incorporated 27 original studies and included 251,049 individuals and found that overall ALA exposure was associated with lower risk of CVD. In fact, in the pooled dietary analysis, each 1 gram per day increment of ALA intake was associated with a 10 percent lower risk of CHD death. Previously, the majority of research funding of omega-3 fatty acids have been directed towards marine sources, however recently increased attention has been given to its plant-based counterpart ALA, and has been suggesting that ALA consumption also offers cardiovascular benefits.

The researchers believe that there may be a direct or indirect antiarrythmic effect of ALA that could partially explain why ALA appeared protective against CHD. Previous studies have found ALA consumption may lower cholesterol levels, positively affect thrombosis, improve endothelial function and decrease inflammation.

The type of omega-3s found in walnuts and other plant sources are different from the type of omega-3s found in fish. According to Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, professor of nutrition at The Pennsylvania State University, consumers need to understand the nutritional benefits of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. She notes that “research is showing that the effects of ALA may have unique and independent benefits important to our well-being.”

Cardiologist Dr. James Beckerman finds this study extremely noteworthy and suggests people include more ALA rich food sources into their diet to promote heart health and potentially lower the risk of fatal cardiac events. “Given that plant sources of ALA are cheaper and more accessible to many people as compared to omega-3 fatty acids from fish, this study expands our arsenal to fight heart disease with safe and well tolerated dietary interventions that are easy for people to incorporate into their lifestyles,” notes Beckerman.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM), which establishes nutrient requirements, recommends that people should consume 1.1 to 1.6 grams a day of ALA which can easily be attained. “Eating a handful of walnuts, for example, is a great way to boost your ALA intake. In just a handful, or ounce of walnuts you get well over the amount of ALA recommended by the IOM, not to mention a whole host of additional nutrients,” states Dr. Kris-Etherton. In addition to ALA, walnuts have high antioxidant content, along with numerous micronutrients that Dr. Kris-Etherton thinks may work together synergistically.

Source: PR Newswire

 

Smart Exercise

Source: Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health

January 7, 2013 — Despite the importance of physical activity, many people feel they don’t have enough time to exercise. An active lifestyle that includes engaging in physical activity for less than 10 minutes multiple times a day can have the same health benefits as more structured exercise, finds a new study in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

“There were little differences in levels of health outcomes between those who received moderate to intense levels of physical activity in 10 minute bouts or longer compared to those who were physically active in shorter bouts of activity,” said lead author Paul D. Loprinzi, PhD, assistant professor in the department of exercise science at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky. “This suggests that shorter bouts of about activity of 150 minutes a week may be just as beneficial as engaging in fewer bouts of longer duration.”

The researchers pulled data from a national survey of 6,321 people between 18 and 85 years old whose activity levels were measured along with blood pressure, glucose, and total cholesterol levels. With the exception of body mass index, people who engaged in a so-called active lifestyle, with multiple bouts of moderate to vigorous physical activity lasting less than 10 consecutive minutes had similar improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, and other health measures as people who engaged in structured exercise for longer periods.

“This research demonstrates the same findings I regularly see in my practice,” said Laura Pady-Porter, MS, a clinical exercise physiologist at the University of Wisconsin Health Center in Madison, Wis. “As healthcare providers, we are still telling our patients to exercise for 30 minutes daily and are not taking into account busy schedules, health concerns or general deconditioning levels.”

 

She added that both consumers and healthcare professionals need to be informed that even 10 minute bouts of physical activity, preferably several times a day, are just as advantageous as 30-minute minimum bouts a day.

 

“I continue to be amazed when patients say they have never been informed that 10-minute bouts of physical activity can be just as beneficial as ‘suffering’ through 30 minutes of consecutive exercise,” said Pady-Porter. “Once I explain the option of several 10 minute sessions, I see better compliance.”

 

Regular exercise not only benefits a person’s health, it can improve their overall quality of life. But one of the biggest barriers to getting people moving is their attitude about exercise.

 

“A person’s attitude or beliefs can hold them back from being active,” said Loprinzi.  “Our findings are particularly informative as an individual who perceives him or herself to be too busy to be active may still be able to enhance their healthy by adopting an active lifestyle approach.”

 

 

 

 

 

Reduce Migraine and Headache Pain with Acupuncture

Reduce Migraine and Headache Pain with Acupuncture                                                                                                                    By: Acufinder Staff Writer

Are you plagued by chronic headaches?

Do you or someone you know suffer from headaches or migraines?  

More than 45 million Americans (one in six) suffer from chronic headaches, 20 million of whom are women. Scientific research shows that acupuncture can be more effective than medication in reducing the severity and frequency of chronic headaches.

The pain that headache and migraine sufferers endure can impact every aspect of their lives.  A widely accepted form of treatment for headaches, acupuncture can offer powerful relief without the side effects that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause.

Headaches and migraines, as well as their underlying causes have been treated successfully with acupuncture and Oriental medicine for thousands of years.  Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be used alone in the management and treatment of headaches, or as part of a comprehensive treatment program.

Oriental Medicine does not recognize migraines and chronic headaches as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of of techniques such as acupuncture, tui-na massage, and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, your diagnosis and treatment will depend on a number of variables including:

  • Is the headache behind your eyes and temples, or is it located more on the top of your head?
  • When do your headaches occur (i.e. night, morning, after eating)?
  • Do you find that a cold compress or a darkened room can alleviate some of the pain?
  • Is the pain dull and throbbing, or sharp and piercing?

Your answers to these questions will help your practitioner create a treatment plan specifically for you. The basic foundation for Oriental medicine is that there is a life energy flowing through the body which is termed Qi (pronounced chee). This energy flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs.  According to Oriental medical theory, illness or pain arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced. Acupuncture stimulates specific points located on or near the surface of the skin to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions that cause aches and pains or illness.

The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary. Typical treatments last from five to 30 minutes, with the patient being treated one or two times a week. Some headaches, migraines and related symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.

Headaches Dramatically Reduced by Acupuncture.

Since the early seventies, studies around the globe have suggested that acupuncture is an effective treatment for migraines and headaches.  Researchers at Duke University Medical Center analyzed the results of more than 30 studies on acupuncture as a pain reliever for a variety of ailments, including chronic headaches. They found that acupuncture decreases pain with fewer side effects and can be less expensive than medication.  Researchers found that using acupuncture as an alternative for pain relief also reduced the need for post-operative pain medications.

In a study published in the November 1999 issue of Cephalalgia, scientists evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of migraines and recurrent headaches by systematically reviewing 22 randomized controlled trials. A total of 1,042 patients were examined. It was found that headache and migraine sufferers experienced significantly more relief from acupuncture than patients who were administered “sham” acupuncture.

A clinical observation, published in a 2002 edition of the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, studied 50 patients presenting with various types of headaches who were treated with scalp acupuncture. The results of this study showed that 98 percent of patients treated with scalp acupuncture experienced no headaches or only occasional, mild headaches in the six months following care.

In a case study, published in the June 2003 Issue of Medical Acupuncture, doctors found that acupuncture resulted in the resolution or reduction in the frequency and severity of cluster headaches, and a decrease or discontinuation of pain medications. It was concluded that acupuncture can be used to provide sustained relief from cluster headaches and to stimulate the body’s natural production of adrenal cortisol to aid in discontinuing corticosteroids.

According to the July 2005 issue of the British Medical Journal, a randomized controlled trial in Germany found that acupuncture cut tension headache rates almost in half.  Researchers divided 270 patients who reported similarly severe tension headaches into three groups for the study. Over the project’s eight-week period, one group received traditional acupuncture, one received only minimal acupuncture, and the third group received neither treatment. Those receiving the traditional acupuncture reported headache rates of nearly half that of those who received no treatments, suffering 7 fewer days of headaches. The minimal acupuncture group suffered 6.6 fewer days, and the non-acupuncture group suffered 1.5 fewer days.  The improvements continued for months after the treatments were concluded, rising slightly as time went on.

 

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