Why Eggs, But No Bacons

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As the Washington Post put it, the move by the nation’s top nutrition advisory panel “could undo almost 40 years of government warnings” about eating foods high in cholesterol, like eggs and shellfish.

A preliminary report by the panel, released in December, stated for the first time that “cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for over-consumption” — meaning, you don’t have to worry about cholesterol in your food.

This represents a sea change in thinking among health experts who have admonished Americans for decades that overeating foods rich in cholesterol would cause the cholesterol in their bloodstream to increase, leading to heart disease.

But while eggs, shrimp and lobster may be off the no-no list, foods high in saturated fat like butter, cream and fatty meats (sorry, bacon) may not be so lucky. The panel still thinks saturated fat should be restricted, noting that overconsumption “may pose the greatest risk to those over 50 years old.” Saturated fat — a type of fat that’s solid at room temperature — is thought to raise the level of “bad,” or LDL, cholesterol in the bloodstream.

So why the shift away from warnings about cholesterol in food? Criticism of the assumption that cholesterol in the diet results in cholesterol buildup in our arteries has been going on for years, but recent research may finally have gotten more attention.

“There have been multiple analyses and meta-analyses now looking at intake of dietary cholesterol and the risk of heart disease,” Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., dean of the school of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University, told Time.com. “In the general population, there’s really not any strong evidence for a link.”

Other experts agree it was time for nutrition policy to catch up to research. Steven Nissen, M.D., chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, told USA Today, “It’s the right decision. We got the dietary guidelines wrong.”

As for why it took so long, Gary Taubes, author of “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” a history of the science behind the low-fat diet craze, thinks health authorities have harped on cutting cholesterol in the diet all these years because they wanted to stick with a simpler consumer message than the research indicated.

“Some of the most reliable facts about the diet-heart hypothesis have been consistently ignored by public health authorities because they complicated the message, while the least reliable findings were adopted because they didn’t,” he wrote in an email. It’s easier to tell people to “avoid egg yolks” instead of telling them “they should worry about cholesterol in their blood, but not in their diet.”

Keep in mind that the proposed recommendations are talking about an egg or so a day being OK for healthy people. If you already have heart disease or elevated cholesterol, talk to your health care provider.

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How Meditation May Change the Brain

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Scientists say that meditators may be benefiting from changes in their brains. The researchers report that those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress

M.R.I. brain scans taken before and after the participants’ meditation regimen found increased gray matter in the hippocampus, an area important for learning and memory. The images also showed a reduction of gray matter in the amygdala, a region connected to anxiety and stress. A control group that did not practice meditation showed no such changes.

But how exactly did these study volunteers, all seeking stress reduction in their lives but new to the practice, meditate? So many people talk about meditating these days. Within four miles of our Bay Area home, there are at least six centers that offer some type of meditation class, and I often hear phrases like, “So how was your sit today?”

Britta Hölzel, a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and the study’s lead author, said the participants practiced mindfulness meditation, a form of meditation that was introduced in the United States in the late 1970s. It traces its roots to the same ancient Buddhist techniques that meditators follow.

“The main idea is to use different objects to focus one’s attention, and it could be a focus on sensations of breathing, or emotions or thoughts, or observing any type of body sensations,” she said. “But it’s about bringing the mind back to the here and now, as opposed to letting the mind drift.”

Generally the meditators are seated upright on a chair or the floor and in silence, although sometimes there might be a guide leading a session, Dr. Hölzel said.

Of course, it’s important to remember that the human brain is complicated. Understanding what the increased density of gray matter really means is still, well, a gray area.

“The field is very, very young, and we don’t really know enough about it yet,” Dr. Hölzel said. “I would say these are still quite preliminary findings. We see that there is something there, but we have to replicate these findings and find out what they really mean.”

It has been hard to pinpoint the benefits of meditation, but a 2009 study suggest that meditation may decrease blood pressure in patients with coronary heart disease. And that meditators have a longer life span.

Previous studies have also shown that there are structural differences between the brains of meditators and those who don’t meditate, although this new study is the first to document changes in gray matter over time through meditation.

Ultimately, Dr. Hölzel said she and her colleagues would like to demonstrate how meditation results in definitive improvements in people’s lives.

“A lot of studies find that it increases well-being, improves quality of life, but it’s always hard to determine how you can objectively test that,” she said. “Relatively little is known about the brain and the psychological mechanisms about how this is being done.”

In 2008, researchers found that when meditators heard the sounds of people suffering, they had stronger activation levels in their temporal parietal junctures, a part of the brain tied to empathy, than people who did not meditate.

“They may be more willing to help when someone suffers, and act more compassionately,” Dr. Hölzel said.

“Can I Drink Alcohol If I Am Pregnant”

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How much alcohol is too much during pregnancy?

The basic question which comes to mind is that how much alcohol is safe in pregnancy. but the thing is alcohol and pregnancy never mix up! You never know even smallest amount of alcohol could have damaging effect on developing baby. All public health officials in the United States recommend that pregnant women, as well as women who are trying to conceive, play it safe by steering clear of alcohol entirely.

What effects could alcohol have on my baby?

When you drink alcohol, it travels through your blood and reach the baby. baby is unable to break down alcohol as fast as you can do so the baby end up with even higher level of alcohol.

Some common problems faced by mothers who take alcohol during pregnancy are

* stillbirths

*miscarriage

*low birth weight babies

*neurological and motor problems in babies

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

“Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders” (FASD) is the term experts use to describe the range of problems related to alcohol exposure before birth. The most severe result of alcohol use is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), a lifelong condition characterized by poor growth (in the womb, after birth, or both), abnormal facial features, and damage to the central nervous system.

Babies with FAS may also have abnormally small heads and brains, as well as heart, spine, and other anatomical defects. The central nervous system damage may include intellectual disability, delays in physical development, vision and hearing problems, and a variety of behavioral problems.

Frequent drinking (seven or more alcoholic drinks per week, including liquor, wine, and beer) or binge drinking (four or more drinks on any one occasion) greatly increases the risk that your baby will suffer from FAS. Even babies whose mothers drink less can also develop this syndrome. Babies exposed to alcohol before birth – even if they don’t have the full spectrum of FAS – may still be born with some of these birth defects or later exhibit a number of mental, physical, or behavioral problems.

What about “nonalcoholic” beer and wine?

The term “nonalcoholic” is a bit misleading when it comes to the supposedly alcohol-free versions of beer and wine. In fact, all “nonalcoholic” beers and many “nonalcoholic” wines do contain some alcohol, typically less than half a percent.

Drinks labeled “nonalcoholic” can contain trace amounts of alcohol, while those labeled “alcohol-free” can’t. However, researchers have found that some drinks contain greater amounts of alcohol than claimed on their labels – even some labeled “alcohol-free.”

While few would say that the trace amount of alcohol in an occasional glass of “nonalcoholic” beer is going to harm your baby, it’s something to be aware of – especially if you drink these beverages often or in large amounts. So before you drink up, read labels carefully and remember that “nonalcoholic” and “alcohol-free” aren’t interchangeable terms.

What if I had a few drinks before I knew I was pregnant?

If you had a drink or two before your period was due, don’t panic. It’s not likely that it harmed your baby. The most important thing to focus on is staying as healthy as you can from now on – and that should include swearing off alcohol for the rest of your pregnancy.

How to get help

Whether you have a severe drinking problem or a more moderate one, if you find yourself unable to completely give up alcohol, it’s vital to get help as soon as possible. If you need help, here are some options:

  • Talk to your healthcare provider about counseling and treatment.
  • Call your local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), listed in the white pages of the phone book and on the AA website.
  • Call a local crisis intervention helpline (listed in the yellow pages under “crisis intervention”).
  • Find a substance abuse treatment facility near you on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.

“Why You Should Do Yoga”

You-Are-What-You-YOGA-for-Daily-Cup-of-YogaI saw an image recently of a big bowl of fresh fruits and vegetables, which had the following caption:

You Are What You Eat

So Don’t Be Fast, Cheap, Easy, or Fake

Pretty wise advice that gets right to the point in a clever way, and it got me thinking: The same thing applies when we step onto our yoga mats!

You Are What You Yoga

So slow down, don’t cheat yourself, take it easy, and stand in your truth.

Don’t be fast. You have the rest of your day to ride in the fast lane. Why not let the time you spend practicing yoga be all about decelerating? Slow down; take your time on your mat. The slower your breath, the deeper your practice. Don’t be in a rush to get into the poses. Instead, take the time to set up proper alignment first. Try stopping after each sun salutation to take a few breaths and savor it rather than rushing off to the next one.

Don’t be cheap. Be generous. Be generous with your breath and your energy, sharing it with the other people you practice with if you go to a yoga class. If you are practicing at home, don’t skip the time for savasana. Don’t cheat yourself out of a minute on your yoga mat by letting your thoughts drift to your to-do list. Stay present and grounded. Don’t be cheap in rewarding yourself; give yourself the gift of the time to reconnect with your spirit, fully present.

Don’t be easy. B.K.S. Iyengar would say that once you think you know everything there is to know about a yoga pose, that is when you stop practicing yoga. I think what he was trying to teach is don’t take the easy road. Always find new ways to challenge yourself on the yoga mat, new ways to explore the pose, to notice your body and your breath, to quiet your mind. I have done thousands of downward dogs, to the point where this pose should be easy, or even boring, but I’ll never get tired of the thrill of getting my heels a little closer to the floor, marveling at how far I’ve come on my yoga journey.

Do not aim low; you will miss the mark. Aim high, and you will be on a threshold of bliss.”
B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life

Don’t be fake. Your yoga practice should belong to you, not the person next to you. Stop trying to stack up to some picture you have in your mind of what a flexible yogi should look like. Don’t worry if you can’t touch your toes, and please don’t try to force yourself into doing so! Honor yourself. Stand tall in your truth. And be ok with modifying a pose to fit your body, or taking a resting pose when you need to take a break.

You are what you yoga, so slow down, be generous, keep growing on your journey, and be true to yourself.

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A Simple Solution for Remembering Names

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You’ve probably heard the tips. Visualize something about the person that will remind you of the name: Rose — the woman wearing the pink sweater. Spike — the guy with the hair. Repeat the name either mentally or out loud.

But that doesn’t always help. Maybe you’re at a business meeting with new clients. They’re all dressed alike. They all look alike, for that matter. Who’s who? What did he say? Or a cocktail party. Even social chatter can be uncomfortable if you can’t hear the person’s name

Senior moment? Maybe. Symptoms of what we call normal age-related hearing loss can be alarming but are generally not indicative of serious decline. If you sometimes forget a name, occasionally have to search for a word, misplace your keys, you probably shouldn’t worry. If these things happen on a regular basis and seem to be increasing in frequency, you should have a test to see if you might have MCI, mild cognitive impairment, which can be a precursor to Alzheimer’s.

But if your problem is failing to remember the names or occupations or interests of people you meet, the cause may be much simpler and easily corrected. Perhaps you are just not hearing them.

If you have to work to hear, which is the case with even mild hearing loss in a noisy environment — at a party, an office gathering, on the street — your cognitive energies are focused on deciphering what is said. You’re introduced to someone whose name you don’t get. You ask him to repeat it. You still don’t quite get it. The conversation goes on from there, and within a couple of minutes you’ve lost track of the subject. You’re guessing at responses, making noncommittal replies, smiling and nodding your head. And then when you walk away you have no idea who you were talking to, or what you were talking about

Hearing better can make those social and business encounters less stressful. More important, hearing better may help stave off cognitive decline. Hearing clearly leaves greater cognitive reserve for remembering, responding, analyzing and even thinking.

Consolidating Regulatory Authority Over Food Safety

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The fragmented nature of regulatory authority over food in the United States is well known. More than a dozen federal agencies are responsible for the safety of the nation’s food supply. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) have the lion’s share of responsibility, together overseeing over 80 percent of the nation’s food safety.

Generally, the USDA regulates meat, and the FDA regulates everything else, but overlaps, exceptions, gaps, and therefore examples of resulting absurdities abound: the FDA regulates frozen pizza, unless it has pepperoni. The FDA regulates seafood, unless it’s catfish. The USDA has jurisdiction over packaged open-face meat sandwiches, but if the sandwiches are closed, authority shifts to the FDA.

This division in regulatory authority is neither planned nor rational. It is instead a historical accident, originating in the early twentieth century. When the Pure Food and Drug Act and Meat Inspection Act were passed on the same day in 1906, both targeting the adulteration of the food supply, their oversight was assigned to different departments within the USDA. The fissure widened when the FDA was moved out of the USDA in 1940. This divided regulatory framework is not the only reason for the fragmentation of regulatory authority over food in the US, but it is a main driver.

The President’s Proposal for a Single Food-Safety Agency

The President’s 2016 Budget, released last week, attempts to put the pieces back together and consolidate control over food safety. It proposes a new agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that will incorporate the food safety functions of the FDA and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the USDA.

This agency “would be charged with pursuing a modern, science-based food safety regulatory regime,” and would provide “centralized leadership … and clear lines of responsibility and accountability.” The amount of money that would be needed to implement this reorganization is not clear. Although the budget designates a total of $1.6 billion to food safety, the budget schedules for HHS and the USDA reflect food-safety functions “in their current alignment.”

The budget proposal bears certain similarities to a bill introduced earlier this year by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut and Senator Richard Durbin from Illinois, which would create a single food safety agency. The Safe Food Act of 2015 (SFA) is much more detailed than the President’s proposal, but there are several apparent differences.

The DeLauro-Durbin Bill would create an independent agency, whereas the President’s agency would lie within HHS; the legislators’ SFA explicitly includes labeling functions and includes the Center for Veterinary Medicine in its consolidation, which we do not see in the President’s version. The SFA also includes a citizen-suit provision which would allow private citizens to sue for violations of food safety standards, an option that is currently unavailable under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The President’s proposal for a single food safety agency is also similar to numerous other proposals that have been introduced over the last seventy years. In a 2000 article about the feasibility and wisdom of consolidating food-safety functions, Richard A. Merrill and Jeffrey K. Francer identified sixteen proposals since 1949. These run the gamut. Some propose moving the FDA’s duties into the USDA, others advocate the opposite, and still others would create an independent agency. The one element all have in common is that they recognize the dysfunction of the current system.

Is this the moment, then? We have two strong proposals for a single food safety agency in a little over a month. Is the time finally right?

A Broader Vision of Food Safety

The answer is no. A single food safety agency will not be created—because of money, politics, and inertia—and moreover it is not at all clear that a single food safety agency should be created. The dysfunction resulting from the division of regulatory authority is obvious, but behind it are broader problems with our nation’s food systems and the regulatory regime, that simply consolidating authority or creating a new agency will not fix.

Why is the actual creation of such an agency a long shot? Because, not so long ago in 2010 Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The sweeping food safety bill marked the biggest expansion of the FDA’s food-safety regulatory authority since the passage of the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act in 1938. FSMA shifted the FDA’s approach to food safety from a reactive to a preventative stance, while bringing the FDA’s food safety oversight more in line with that of the USDA.

At this point, the FDA, and the affected food industry, is focused on implementing this Act. Indeed, the President’s new budget includes $301 million for implementation of FSMA. Indeed, commodity leaders, such as the Northwest Horticultural Council and Western Growers (which represents half of the U.S. produce industry), have come out strongly in opposition to the President’s proposal, citing the ongoing implementation of—and their members’ investment in—FSMA controls. The beef industry also opposes the reorganization, noting the likelihood of disruption and an increased burden on industry. The resistance of these commodity leaders will make the creation of a single agency unpalatable for Congress.

Even if the reorganization could happen, it probably should not — for two reasons. First, the costs of such a massive bureaucratic consolidation will outweigh the potential benefits. Second, a single food safety agency would not address some of the more fundamental dysfunctions of the regulation of our nation’s food system.

The main criticisms of the fragmented food safety regulatory regime are inefficiency (regulatory overlaps), ineffectiveness (regulatory gaps), diffuse political accountability, and a failure of communication that leads to a misallocation of resources. While some of these problems may be fixed by a unified agency, others may remain. Here, as New York University’s Marion Nestle puts it, the devil is in the details. Will a new agency administer a new and unified statute? Will the combined agency’s separate divisions be integrated, or exist alongside one another?

Merrill and Francer point to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a unified agency that has failed to integrate control over the various spheres it oversees. Similarly, an importation of the USDA’s FSIS and the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) into a single department, with no change in statutory authority and no new mechanism for melding the divisions, may result in a superficial shift. The current fissures could remain.

To be sure, communication may improve between divisions if food-safety functions were brought together, and as Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack pointed out, this is a much more real possibility than it would have been before FSMA. With the implementation of FSMA’s safety controls, the FDA and the USDA are beginning to speak the same food-safety language.

Going forward, however, communication may be improved more simply and cheaply by just doing it — improving communication. A robust executive mechanism for coordination and communication, building on a body like the Food Safety Working Group, established in 2009 by President Obama, may be as effective as full reorganization.

Moreover, and more significantly, a reorganization of food-safety authority maintains the narrow view of “safety” that entrenches some of the deeper problems with our nation’s food systems. The prevention of foodborne pathogens and foodborne illness is only one facet of food safety (albeit an important one).

Other critical issues include meat production practices that lead to an increase in pathogens, the growth of antibiotic resistance linked to the use of antibiotics in animal feed, the contamination of our water and air by certain agricultural practices, which are often exempt from environmental laws, and governmental subsidies that support crops conducive to the production of processed foods. As Georgetown Law’s Lisa Heinzerling writes, “one of the great problems of the food system in the United States is its failure to understand and embody the unity of the health of the environment in which food is grown and the wholesomeness of the food itself.”

Advocating for a holistic approach to food safety does not mean abandoning attempts to improve the discrete pieces of the regulatory apparatus. We shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It is not, however, clear that the President’s proposal for a single food-safety agency meets even that lower standard.

Hello world!

hy folks. i am a student of a prestigious medical college and i am really interested in writing about common problems and myths in medical sciences plus some important topics related to health.

I will try my best to write about the problems or ideas that are most beneficial to our society. your response will mean a lot to me.

For any suggestions, do comment.

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