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Friday, 21 August 2015

Research from Harvard and Johns Hopkins shows surge in journal articles on yoga therapy

IMAGEDuring the last 10 years, the number of articles in peer-reviewed journals worldwide about clinical trials of yoga therapy to alleviate disease-related symptoms increased 3-fold. This large-scale analysis of published research studies spanning 46 years, 29 countries, and more than 28,000 study participants is published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine website until September 17, 2015.
Pamela Jeter, PhD, Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD) and Maryland University of Integrative Health (Laurel, MD), Sat Bir Khalsa, PhD, Harvard Medical School (Boston, MA), and coauthors found that yoga therapy was most often used for the treatment of mental health, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease. They report their findings in the article "Yoga as a Therapeutic Intervention: A Bibliometric Analysis of Published Research Studies from 1967 to 2013." This study was supported in part by the Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust (PYP USA).

Harvard Study Reveals What Meditation Literally Does To Gastrointestinal (Bowel) Disorders

The hits just keep on coming when it comes to the health benefits of meditation. Research is now emerging that would justify implementing this practice within hospitals and schools (some already do) as well as including it in treatment recommendations for various diseases.
highlighted colonNot long ago, an eight week study conducted by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) determined that meditation literally rebuilds the brains grey matter in just eight weeks. It was the very first study to document that meditation produces changes over time in the brain’s grey matter. Now, they’ve released another study showing that meditation can have a significant impact on clinical symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  The study showed that elicitation of the relaxation response (a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress) is a very big help.
The study comes out of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). This is the very first study where the use of the “relaxation response” was examined in these disorders, and the first to investigate the genomic effects of the relaxation response in individuals with any disorder. The report was published in the journal PLOS-ONE. (source)
Given the two studies cited above, and all of the other documented health benefits of meditation, this should open the door for more studies to examine the benefits of meditation for a wide range of diseases.
“Our results suggest exciting possibilities for further developing and implementing this treatment in a wider group of patients with gastrointestinal illness. Several studies have found that stress management techniques and other psychological interventions can help patients with IBS, at least in the short term; and while the evidence for IBD is less apparent, some studies have suggested potential benefits. What is novel about our study is demonstration of the impact of a mind/body intervention on the genes controlling inflammatory factors that are known to play a major role in IBD and possibly in IBS.” – Brandon Kuo of the gastrointestinal unit in the MGH Department of Medicine, co-lead author of the report. (source)
For those of you who are unaware, IBS and IBD are chronic conditions that produce similar symptoms which include; abdominal pain, and changes in bowel function, like diarrhea. IBD also includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which leads one to suffer from severe inflammation in all or part of the gastrointestinal tract. Science has shown us that stress intensifies these symptoms, which is why this study regarding meditation and these diseases holds a great deal of importance.
The relaxation response has been subject to several studies that clearly show that its regular practice (induced by meditation) directly affects physiologic factors such as oxygen consumption, heart rate, blood pressure and again, stress and anxiety. It was first described over 40 years ago by Herbert Benson, director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute and co-author of the paper presented in this article.
The study had 48 adult participants, with 19 of them being diagnosed with IBS and 29 with IBD. There was weekly relaxation response training, as well as in their home for 15 t0 20 mintues each day.
The study enrolled 48 adult participants — 19 of whom had been diagnosed with IBS and 29 with IBD — who participated in a nine-week group program focused on stress reduction, cognitive skills, and health-enhancing behaviors. Each of the weekly sessions included relaxation response training, and participants were asked to practice relaxation response elicitation at home for 15 to 20 minutes each day. Along with aspects featured in other group programs offered at the Benson-Henry Institute, this program included a session specifically focused on gastrointestinal health.
“Both in patients with IBS and those with IBD, participation in the mind/body program appeared to have significantly improved disease-related symptoms, anxiety, and overall quality of life, not only at the end of the study period but also three weeks later. While there were no significant changes in inflammatory markers for either group of participants, changes in expression were observed in almost 200 genes among participants with IBS and more than 1,000 genes in those with IBD. Many of the genes with altered expression are known to contribute to pathways involved with stress response and inflammation.” (source)
Meditation And How To Do It
A common misconception about meditation is that you have to sit a certain way or do something in particular to achieve the various benefits that it can provide. All you have to do is place yourself in a position that is most comfortable to you. It could be sitting crosslegged, lying down in a bed, sitting on a couch etc, it’s your choice. That being said, I do not doubt that sitting in a certain position allows energy to flow more freely through you body, but above all (in my opinion) comfort is of utmost importance.
It’s not about trying to empty your mind, and as the first study cited in this article states, it’s about the “non-judgmental awareness of sensations, feelings and state of mind.” Let the thoughts, feelings and emotions that pop up present themselves, don’t judge them, and let them pass. Make peace with whatever you are experiencing.
I also believe that meditation is a state of being/mind. One can be engaged in meditation while they are on a walk, for example, or the time they have right before they sleep. Throughout the day, one can resist judging their thoughts, letting them flow until they are no more, or just be in a constant state of peace and self awareness. Contrary to popular belief, there is more than one way to meditate.
For more articles from Collective Evolution on meditation you can click HERE.
All sources are highlighted throughout the article.

Watch lecture :How Meditation Can Reshape Our Brains by Sara Lazar

Neuroscientist Sara Lazar's amazing brain scans show meditation can actually change the size of key regions of our brain, improving our memory and making us more empathetic, compassionate, and resilient under stress.

Do you know the science behind power nap & why they are so good for you.!!

nap85% of all mammalian species sleep more than once a day, and scientists are not completely clear if humans are naturally monophasic as opposed to polyphasic. Has modern society conditioned us to be so, just as it has influenced so many other aspects of our health?
If we examine the topic from a historical perspective, the work of historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech is a good start. In 2001 he published a paper that included over 15 years of research. It cited an overwhelming amount of historical evidence which reveals that humans used to in fact sleep in two separate blocks of time. You can read more about that (and access the paper) here.
Regardless of our historical sleep habits, however, it’s quite clear that many human beings suffer from a lack of sleep for various reasons, one of which very well may be that we don’t take time out during the day to have a nap.
Various studies have clearly outlined the many health benefits associated with napping. For example, a 2008 study showed that naps are better than caffeine for improving verbal memory, motor skills, and perceptual learning.
 A NASA study from 1995  looked at the beneficial effects of napping on 747 pilots. Each participant was allowed to nap for 40 minutes during the day, sleeping on average for 25.8 minutes (which is just about right). Nappers “demonstrated vigilance performance improvements from 16% in median reaction time to 34% in lapses compared to the No-Rest Group.”
In a study carried out in Greece, researchers found that adult males who took an afternoon nap at least three times per week were 37% less likely to die from a heart related disease compared to men who never take a short afternoon nap.
The health benefits of napping are clear and substantial
Below is a great TEDx talk by Dr. Sara Mednick, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside. Her work on sleep research continues to shape the way we understand the importance of healthy sleep hygiene. In her talk, she argues for everyone to take a break.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Newly discovered cells restore liver damage in mice without cancer risk

The liver is unique among organs in its ability to regenerate after being damaged. Exactly how it repairs itself remained a mystery until recently, when researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health discovered a type of cell in mice essential to the process. The researchers also found similar cells in humans.
When healthy liver cells are depleted by long-term exposure to toxic chemicals, the newly discovered cells, known as hybrid hepatocytes, generate new tissue more efficiently than normal liver cells. Importantly, they divide and grow without causing cancer, which tends to be a risk with rapid cell division.
"This is the first time anyone has shown how liver cells safely regenerate," said William Suk, Ph.D., director of the Superfund Research Program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH.
The researchers studied liver function in mice following long-term exposure to carbon tetrachloride, a chemical commonly associated with Superfund sites. The scientists were able to isolate the hybrid hepatocytes after observing how the tissue regenerated. They then exposed healthy mice to three known cancer-causing pathways and watched the hybrid hepatocytes closely. Liver cancer never originated from these cells.
The research team, led by Michael Karin, Ph.D., distinguished professor of pharmacology and pathology at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine and a member of the prestigious National Academy of Medicine, conducted the research at the UCSD Superfund Research Center.
"The entire program at UCSD is focused on the effects of toxicants on liver metabolism and functionality," said Suk.
One of the goals of the Superfund Research Program is to better understand how toxic chemicals affect human health. The liver plays an essential role in this process by helping to remove toxicants from the body.
"Hybrid hepatocytes represent not only the most effective way to repair a diseased liver, but also the safest way to prevent fatal liver failure by cell transplantation," noted Karin.

More evidence supports that kids' headaches increase at back-to-school time

Findings from Nationwide Children's Hospital physicians demonstrate that headaches increase in fall in children, a trend that may be due to back-to-school changes in stress, routines and sleep. Although it may be difficult for parents to decipher a real headache from a child just wanting to hold onto summer a little longer and avoid going back to school, there is a variety of other common triggers including poor hydration and prolonged screen time that could contribute to a child's discomfort.
"When we saw many of our families and patients in clinic, the families would report that their child or teenager's headaches would increase during the school year," said Ann Pakalnis, MD, lead researcher, attending neurologist and Director of the Comprehensive Headache Clinic at Nationwide Children's. "So, we decided to go back and look at emergency department visits for that time period and see if there were more visits here at certain seasonal variations during the year."
The research, conducted by Pakalnis and fellow neurologist Geoffrey Heyer, MD, is rooted in a retrospective analysis of about 1300 emergency department visits from 2010-2014. Results concluded that when monthly emergency department visits are grouped seasonally, there is an increase in headaches in the fall in children ages five to 18-years-old.
"We see a lot of headaches in young boys, from five to nine years of age, and in boys they tend to get better in later adolescence," said Dr. Pakalnis, also a professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Neurology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. "In teenage girls, migraines oftentimes make their first presentation around the time of puberty and unfortunately tend to persist into adulthood."
The two types of primary headaches seen most often by physicians are tension headaches and migraines. While migraines are less common in children, they are far more severe in regards to the pain that children experience. Migraines are generally associated with nausea and vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound and smell. Contrarily, tension headaches tend to feel more like tightening around the head, and children can continue with their normal day despite the discomfort.
The increase in fall headaches may be attributed to a number of factors, including academic stressors, schedule changes and an increase in extracurricular activity. Other common headache triggers include lack of adequate sleep, skipping meals, poor hydration, too much caffeine, lack of exercise and prolonged electronic screen time.
These results support previous research done by Dr. Pakalnis by confirming that lifestyle issues are important in managing headaches and migraines, and minimizing stressors will decrease headache and migraine frequency.
"Your brain is like your cell phone," said Howard Jacobs, MD, a headache specialist at Nationwide Children's. "If you don't plug your cell phone in, it doesn't have energy, it doesn't work well. If you don't plug your brain in by providing energy, it doesn't work well and that causes headaches."
According to Dr. Jacobs, headaches can often be prevented by eating three meals a day, getting enough sleep at night without napping during the day, drinking enough liquids, and working to remove the stresses in a child's day. Pain medicines such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen can also be helpful, but they can make headaches worse if taken too often. Parents should work with their child's doctor to manage and prevent headaches.
"A sudden, severe headache or a change in the headache sensation from previous, what we call 'first or worst' headaches should be evaluated," said Dr. Jacobs, also a clinical associate professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University. "Another good rule of thumb is that if the headaches are interfering with a child's normal routine, then it is time to get them evaluated, so therapy can be instituted to return your child's life to normal."

Granulated Brazil Nuts Show Tremendous Potential in Reducing Hypertension and Lipids

A daily dose of fibers, vitamins and minerals are not the only reasons you should consume nuts! Just a few nuts in your daily diet can boost your general health and well-being.he creamy Brazil nut which is actually a seed, is high in calories, but packed with loads of health benefits such as vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Most of the health benefits of Brazil nuts are due to its selenium content. Selenium (Se) is a mineral known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, shielding our body from the harmful effects of free radicals, thus protecting us against many cardiovascular diseases. 

Brazil nuts are also rich in protein and fiber, which help control hunger and lose weight. It also plays an important role in the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. 

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) production is part of the human metabolism process which is taken care of by the antioxidant system of the body. Lipoxygenases are responsible for catalyzing the oxygen incorporation in polyunsaturated fatty acids, thus considered a main production source of ROS. Increase in ROS vascular production could be a risk factor foratherosclerosis

Studies have demonstrated that hypertension is not only associated with increase in oxidative stress, but is also a major risk factor for peripheral artery disease, myocardial infarction, heart failure, stroke, amongst others. Increase in oxidative stress is also linked to hyperlipidemia. 

A study was undertaken to evaluate the beneficial effects of the various bioactive compounds in Brazil nut on hypertensive and dyslipidemic patients. One hundred and twenty five hypertensive and dyslipidemic patients were included in the randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover trial after a thorough screening process at the Clinic of Atherosclerosis and Cardiovascular Disease Prevention of the National Institute of Cardiology, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil. 

Patients were given 13 gms per day (~227.5 μg/day of selenium) of partially defatted granulated Brazil nut or 10 gms daily of placebo for a period of twelve weeks with a 4 week wash out interval. Granulated Brazil nut was preferred over Brazil nut kernel, since it has high Se content comparatively. 

Only 91 patients reportedly completed the study and it was found that a larger part of this study group was elderly population (about 57.1 %). At baseline, anthropometric, laboratory and clinic characteristics were evaluated. At the beginning and end of each intervention, plasma selenium (Se), plasma glutathione peroxidase (GPx3) activity, total antioxidant capacity (TAC), oxidized LDL levels were also measured. 

No change was found in anthropometric and clinical parameters after 12 weeks of placebo and Brazil nut dietary interventions, as the diets were similar at the beginning or the ending periods. 

The study also revealed a significant increase in HDL-c in both intervention groups (diet + placebo group: 38.96 ± 13.30 to 41.17 ± 12.82; p < 0.05 and diet + granulated Brazil nut group: 38.66 ± 11.91 to 40.82 ± 14.73; p < 0.05). An overall increase in plasma selenium concentrations were also observed in patients taking Brazil nuts by 119%, however part of it could be due to the carry over effect after the wash out period. 

An increase in GPx3 activity by 24.8% was observed in granulated Brail nut group along with a modest reduction in oxidized LDL by 3.2%. However for total plasma antioxidant capacity and 8-epi PGF2α, no statistical difference was found in the two groups. 

An inverse relationship was seen between GPx3 and oxidized LDL levels after supplementation with GBN by using a simple model (β -0.232, p = 0.032) and after the adjustment was done for the following factors: gender, age, diabetes and BMI (β -0.298, p = 0.008). 

The present study showed that the partially defatted granulated Brazil nut (13 g/day, providing 227.5 μg selenium) in a serum lipid and blood pressure reduction diet for dyslipidemic and hypertensive patients, increased antioxidant status and reduced oxidative stress. Thus, granulated Brazil nut can be recommended as part of a healthy diet for the heart, since it has the potential to increase plasma selenium, increase enzymatic antioxidant activity of GPx3 and to reduce oxidation in LDL in hypertensive and dyslipidemic patients. 

The study had some limitations such as a relative short intervention period, heterogeneity of the patient population and also the carry-over effect with respect to the plasma selenium concentrations. 




Low-Fat Diet More Effective For Weight Loss Than Low-Carbohydrate Diet

A diet low in fat seems to beat a diet low in carbohydrates for body fat loss, says a new research.

The findings of the study are from a small US National Institutes of Health (NIH) investigation that tracked 19 obese adults and their approach to weight loss.

"These results counter the claims of the popular theory that has been influencing many people to adopt low-carb diets," said study lead author Kevin Hall, a senior investigator with the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Bethesda. 

"That theory focuses on the notion that carb-cutting triggers a decrease in insulin levels, while cutting fat does not. The hormonal plunge should, in turn, boost fat-burning and increase fat loss," explained Hall. 

"[But] while all of these things happened during the reduced carbohydrate diet," Hall added, "the reduced fat diet also led to loss of body fat and at a greater rate than the reduced carb diet, despite being equal in calories and having no observable effect on insulin production."

The study participants, 10 men and nine women had an average body mass index (BMI) of nearly 36. They participated in a two-week low-fat diet, followed by a two-week low-carb diet. 

The first five days of each diet consisted of a "baseline" menu made up of 50 percent carbs, 35 percent fat, and 15 percent protein. Next, either carbohydrate intake or fat intake was cut by 30 percent for the remaining six days of each session. Both restriction menus were composed of 30 percent fewer calories than the baseline menus.

The researchers found that low-carb diet led to a loss of 53 grams of body fat daily. The low-fat diet prompted a body fat loss of 89 grams daily. 

However, the people on the low-carb diet lost slightly more weight than those on the low-fat diet about 4 pounds verses 3 pounds. 

The researchers said that the differences could be due to differences in the amount of water lost. They also said that the weight loss afforded by cutting carbs appeared to dissipate over time, with total caloric restriction being more important to weight loss than the type of calories consumed. 

"In the real world, people couldn't possibly control or monitor their food intake as carefully as was done in our study. Therefore, it is likely more important to choose a diet that leads to a reduction in calorie intake that can be sustained for long periods of time," said Hall. 

In other words, total calories are the primary driver of fat loss, he added. 

Lona Sandon, a registered dietitian and an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, agreed.

"Reducing calories, no matter the source, [whether] carbs or fats, is most important for weight loss overall. If you decrease fat to create a calorie deficit, the body will use stored carbs for energy until those stores are used. Then it will take from fat stores. If you reduce carbs for a calorie deficit, the body will use up the stored carb energy and then tap into fat sources," said Sandon.

"But that does not mean people should not pay attention to the type of calories they are getting. Quality calories from nutrient-rich foods are still the best," added Sandon. 

The current study debunks the incorrect notion that all carbs are bad for weight control, said Susan Roberts, professor of nutrition and psychiatry, and senior scientist and director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.

"The whole question of whether low-carb diets are helpful for weight or not is a toxic swamp of commercial interests and bad science, and this new study is finally providing some sanity," she said.

"Do you have to eat low-carb to lose weight, because if you eat carbs, that prevents fat release from fat cells? The answer is clearly no from this study. If you cut calories, even if that diet is high in carbs, you will lose fat."

Source:The study was published in Cell Metabolism. 


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