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For February 16, 2019

  • Vitamin C Can Lower Blood Pressure
    Vitamin C Can Lower Blood Pressure

    CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) � Heart patients with high blood pressure may receive substantial benefit from a daily dose of vitamin C - something researchers said could be an inexpensive alternative to prescription drugs.

    A dose of 500 milligrams each day lowered blood pressure by up to 9 percent, a level comparable to expensive prescription drugs, according to researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine and the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.

    "It may provide a way to bring their blood pressure back within acceptable levels without the cost or possible side effects of prescription drugs," said Balz Frei, director of the Linus Pauling Institute and one of the lead researchers.

    He was quick to caution, however, that more study is needed and that vitamin C is not a substitute for medication.

    "It's not an alternative therapy," Frei said. "We certainly don't want people to discontinue their medication."

    Others said the study was far too small to be conclusive. "I think it would be unfortunate if people with hypertension went out and started taking extra vitamin C on the basis of a single study," said Alice Lichtenstein, spokeswoman for the American Heart Association and a nutrition professor at Tufts University in Boston.

    Still, other researchers said the study published this week in the British medical journal Lancet shows promise.

    "This is one of the best studies to date," said Dr. Kenny Jialal at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. "When you get 500 milligrams of vitamin C you clearly show a reduction."

    The study divided a group of 39 patients with mild to moderate hypertension into two groups. About half took daily doses of 500 milligrams of vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, while the others took a placebo.

    After one month, the average blood pressure of patients who took vitamin C dropped 9.1 percent, significantly more than the patients in the placebo group, who averaged a 2.7 percent decline.

    Both groups continued to take their regular medication for hypertension during the vitamin C study.

    Frei said vitamin C may improve the way the body synthesizes nitric oxide, a compound important for keeping blood vessels relaxed. The vitamin also may work to improve anti-hypertension medication, he said.

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  • Wrap it Up: Delicious Ways to Save Time and Cut Calories
    Wrap it Up: Delicious Ways to Save Time and Cut Calories

    Meal Makeover

    (Prevention, September 1999) � Wraps are the latest sandwich sensation -- all thanks to health-conscious Californians, who have turned eating on the go into an art form. So, next time you go for a boring, condiment-heavy sandwich for lunch, reach for a wrap instead.

    The availability now of a variety of soft flatbreads such as tortillas, lavosh (or lavash), naan and others is key. These unleavened breads are often made with whole grains and are turning up in savory flavors like spinach, sun-dried tomato, chipotle chili and garden herb. With fewer calories than two pieces of traditional sandwich bread, tortillas are thin and pliable. For the recipes that follow, we've used large wrappers (about 10 inches for the tortillas) to make one sandwich per serving. If you prefer, you can use smaller wrappers and make two apiece.

    Use these recipes as starting points for your own creations. Once you master the art of wrapping, you'll appreciate how ideal these fast-fix sandwiches are for satisfying meals in a snap.

    Here is one example of a great wrap recipie:

    Sunshine Burritos

    Frozen potatoes, jarred salsa, and jalapenos make this a super-easy breakfast dish. For variety, spread prepared guacamole on the tortillas in place of the salsa or add some sliced avocado when assembling the wraps. Fat-free liquid egg substitute works fine for the filling; use about 1 cup and eliminate the milk.

    2 c frozen Potatoes O'Brien
    2 eggs
    2 egg whites
    2 tbsp skim milk
    1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
    1/4 tsp pepper
    1/2 c prepared salsa
    2 lg whole wheat tortillas
    2 Boston lettuce leaves
    1/2 c chopped tomatoes
    2 tbsp pickled jalapeno pepper slices

    1. Coat an 8-in. nonstick frying pan with vegetable cooking spray. Add 1 c potatoes and saute until lightly browned.

    2. In a sm bowl, beat together eggs, egg whites, and milk. Stir in cilantro, pepper, and 1/4 c salsa. Pour half of the mixture over the potatoes. Cook over med-high heat until eggs are set; use a spatula to let any uncooked egg reach the bottom of the pan.

    3. Spread 1 tortilla with 2 tbsp of remaining salsa. Slide eggs onto tortilla. Top with half of the lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers. Roll tightly and serve immediately.

    4. Repeat to make a second burrito. Serves 2.

    Diet Exchanges: Milk 0.1; Vegetable 0.4; Fruit 0; Bread 3.3; Meat 1.4

    Nutritional info: Cal 314; Fat 8.2 g (23% of cal); Sat fat 1.6 g; Chol 213 mg; Fiber 9.8 g; Pro 16.9 g; Carb 53.1 g; Sodium 770 mg

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  • Canadian study offers new evidence of exercise's benefits
    Canadian study offers new evidence of exercise's benefits
    By Nelle Nix Exclusive to SHN

    September 17 -- A University of Calgary study is one of the first to indicate that fibromyalgia patients may benefit from an exercise program that includes strength training.

    Published in the June 1996 issue of The Journal of Rheumatology, the study found that a short-term exercise program led to a decrease in both the number of tender points and the degree of muscle tenderness. Also, it improved aerobic fitness levels. The program combined strength training, aerobic activity, and flexibility training.

    Thirty-eight subjects completed the study. Eighteen fibromyalgia patients were in the exercise group, and 20 fibromyalgia patients were in a comparison relaxation group. For six weeks, the exercise group met for an hour three times a week to participate in equal amounts of aerobic walking, flexibility training, and strength training. The comparison group met on the same schedule to participate in hour long relaxation sessions that included yoga and visualization training.

    By the end of the study, the exercise group's number of tender points had decreased by an average of 2.5, and muscle tenderness had improved by about 32 percent. The exercise group did indicate more fatigue at the end of the study. Researchers attributed that finding to the sedentary lifestyle led by a majority of the group's members before participating in the study. The relaxation group inexplicably showed decreased aerobic fitness.

    This short-term study supports previous findings about the benefits of exercise. Only further research can determine the long-term effects of exercise in the treatment of fibromyalgia.

    As the study's authors noted any fibromyalgia patient wishing to begin an exercise program should seek out an instructor familiar with fibromyalgia who can design an appropriate individualized program.

    Source: "An exercise program in the treatment of fibromyalgia," by L. Martin, et al, The Journal of Rheumatology, Vol. 23, No. 6, pages 1050-1053.

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  • Orange juice raises "good" cholesterol
    Orange juice raises "good" cholesterol

    ATLANTA (Reuters Health) -- Drinking three glasses of orange juice a day increases high density cholesterol (HDL), the so-called "good" cholesterol, and lowers the ratio between HDL and low density cholesterol (LDL) -- the "bad" cholesterol, according to a study presented at an American Heart Association meeting.

    A team at the University of Western Ontario, London, Canada, asked 16 men and 9 women with high blood cholesterol levels (ranging from 213 to 325 mg/dL) to drink one glass of orange juice a day for 4 weeks, then two glasses a day for 4 weeks, and then three glasses a day for 4 weeks. This was followed by a 5-week washout period, during Dr. Elzbieta M. Kurowska told Reuters Health that once the subjects were drinking three glasses of orange juice a day, their HDL levels increased 21% and the LDL/HDL ratio dropped 16%. Orange juice also resulted in an increase in folate levels, which are known to cause a drop in homocysteine levels. Cardiologists are finding that high homocysteine levels appear to be a risk factor for heart disease.

    "The (cholesterol) effect was still there after the washout period," Kurowska said. While vitamin C levels dropped back down after the end of the study, the improvements in cholesterol persisted, she said. "Maybe these (orange juice) compounds have a prolonged effect," she said.

    The researcher added that none of the subjects reported weight gain, "even though this was a considerable increase in sugar (intake)... The subjects compensated by changing their diets in other ways."

    Kurowska attributes the effects of orange juice on cholesterol to the flavenoid hesperidin found in oranges. She would next like to study the effects of grapefruit juice on cholesterol. "The primary flavenoids in grapefruit juice are different from those in orange juice," the Canadian researcher noted.

    Source: Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association 1999;100:1958-1963.

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  • Study Finds It's Harder For Women To Quit Smoking
    Study Finds It's Harder For Women To Quit Smoking

    December 20, 1999 The Medical Tribune

    New findings might help explain why women have a harder time quitting smoking than men. Apparently women tend to become more psychologically dependent on smoking.

    According to a study led by Thomas Eissenberg, of Virginia Commonwealth University's Department of Psychology and Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies, in Richmond, women find greater relief than men from withdrawal symptoms of smoking, including restlessness and difficulty concentrating.

    The study, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, looked at the subjective and physiological effects of smoking on a group of men and women who were experienced with tobacco products. Findings are reported in the December issue of Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

    Physiologically, men and women experienced similar effects of smoking, including increased heart rate and blood pressure and a decrease in skin temperature. These effects are usually attributed to the nicotine in cigarettes.

    Subjectively, however, smoking had a more profound effect on women, and it may be harder for them to quit. After each of the two cigarettes that subjects smoked in the study, women reported that their desire to smoke was decreased compared with men, and their relief from withdrawal symptoms decreased significantly more than their male counterparts. This means that women may be getting more relief and feelings of satisfaction from smoking than men, which helps to explain why past studies have shown that women have more difficulty quitting smoking.

    The most common withdrawal symptoms that differed in ratings substantially between men and women were the desire to smoke, the urge to smoke, difficulty concentrating and restlessness.

    Eissenberg commented on the findings: ``It's a little-known fact that soon after smokers have had a cigarette, their reports' of various withdrawal symptoms will start to increase.'' Eissenberg reported that these effects are sometimes evident as soon as 10 or 15 minutes after smoking a cigarette.

    Another curious finding in the study was that compared to men, women take shorter, smaller puffs when smoking. There is no evidence, however, that this means female smokers receive less nicotine than their male counterparts.

    ``I'd certainly be able to entertain the hypothesis that women were receiving less nicotine, and that would mean that they have a lower level of physical effects as far as the response of the body to repeated administrations of the drug,'' said Eissenberg. ``But that doesn't mean that their psychological dependence is less. In fact, it may be more.''

    Eissenberg added: ``It seems to me and it's going to take more work that this study might be telling us that the response to nicotine is the same for men and women, but there are some other effects of smoking to which women are more sensitive.''

    Dr. Sheila B. Blume, clinical professor of psychiatry at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, said she was ``delighted that the research is going on in this area. When I started in this field in 1962,'' she explained, ``we had no idea how addiction worked at all. But now, due to modern methods of neuroscience, it's understood that addictive substances share a final common pathway to the brain, probably to the part that nature put there or that evolved there to assure that we repeat the kinds of behaviors that keep us alive, such as finding food and water, and that give us a kind of pleasure.'' Substances such as nicotine stimulate this same area of the brain, said Blume.

    Eissenberg said that further study on the topic is needed. He added that he hopes to see enhancements of the popular nicotine replacement products, such as patches, gum, sprays and inhalers. Eissenberg emphasized that relapse prevention is another key area to address when researching the best ways to help people quit smoking.

    Blume, too, stressed the significance of quitting smoking and added that due to its obvious addictive effect, it should be done with medical or group support assistance: ``When women are ready to quit, they should get some help with it. Don't try it on your own.''

    Nicotine & Tobacco Research (1999;1: 317-324)

    Copyright 1999 Medical PressCorps News Service. All rights reserved.

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  • Take short-term steps for long-term SUCCESS.
    Take short-term steps for long-term SUCCESS.

    By Kevin Davis

    There's a good reason why most people fail at keeping their New Year's resolutions.

    "Most people don't plan to fail, but fail to plan," says Harold Shinitzky, Psy.D., a psychologist in the department of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "You should plan long-term goals with short-term steps."

    If your year 2000 goal is to quit smoking, for example, take the first small step by getting information about how to quit. Call the American Cancer Society or American Lung Association for pamphlets. Sign up for a smoking cessation class. Talk to your doctor about the health implications, possible withdrawal symptoms, and quitting options and strategies. Then come New Years Day, you'll be better prepared to throw away the smokes without the ire.

    Dr. Shinitzky says most people make resolutions without understanding that changing behavior is a process, not a once-a-year activity. "Most people tend to be outcome-focused rather than process-focused," he says. "People tend to use the same unhealthful negative behaviors with the goal of achieving some positive outcome. The reality is that change is difficult. You haven't figured out the steps. You have to figure out how to get there. By implementing certain behavioral steps, we can increase the likelihood of achieving our goal."

    Being process-focused means understanding that you will not miraculously reach your goal by wishing for it or making a half-hearted effort without planning ahead. "You have to figure out what are the behaviors that will lead to that outcome," says Dr. Shinitzky. "When you just declare a goal, you're not looking at the process."

    For instance, if your New Year's resolution is to lose weight, the first step is to set a goal with an appropriate amount within an appropriate time � medically speaking, about one pound per week. If you want to keep it off, you have to change your behavior and eating habits � the process. You have to reduce your caloric intake, cut down on fats and sweets, and exercise more. You don't have to do it all at once. Make small changes, like walking two or three days a week, cutting out desserts � things you can achieve without much trouble, says Dr. Shinitzky. "If you set up goals you can achieve, it reinforces a positive feeling that helps you go on. And we know that success breeds success."

    With that in mind, Dr. Shinitzky has developed what he calls the SUCCESS plan, a series of steps to help people reach their goals.

    S=Set Your Goals. Decide what changes you want to make, keeping in mind that you should be specific and realistic. "Lose weight," is a broadly defined goal. A more specific and realistic goal would be, "Lose 10 pounds within two months." Write down your goals and let others know about it, which will increase the likelihood that you'll follow through and get support when you need it. This step allows you to list many goals. The brainstorming is a good starting point.

    U=Understand Your Passions. Know what really makes you feel good, what you like to do and use that to help guide you to your long-term goals. If you want to be fit, or to become a better athlete, focus on what it will take, such as increasing your cardiovascular workouts or weight training. This step requires you to narrow your focus to one or two goals. Which goals do you value most? These will become your priorities.

    C=Critically Plan Your Steps. Determine small steps that will lead to the larger one. If your goal is to become more fit, you can join a gym and/or schedule a workout three times a week. If you want to drop 10 pounds, map out a diet to cut out 500 calories a day to lose the weight in one- or two-pound increments per week. If you want to quit smoking, try cutting down a predetermined number of cigarettes each day within a timetable until you quit completely.

    C=Challenge Youself Through Adversity. That means work hard, push yourself and feel a little discomfort if it means helping you reach your goals. Realize that if you want to lose weight, you might feel a little hungry sometimes or feel a little pain at the gym while working out. Realize and acknowledge that change is not easy. If it was, you would have already accomplished your goal. When it gets difficult, we tend to revert back to previous behaviors. However, now is the time to develop those new lifestyle behaviors.

    E=Evaluate Your Progress. Are you making headway? If not, why? Adjust your plan to meet your long-term goal. Are you meeting your weekly or monthly weight loss goals? If not, determine what might be the problem. Add another half hour of walking each week or cut out second helpings.

    S=Stay Focused. That means not being deterred by obstacles. "Obstacles are things you see when you lost sight of your goal," says Dr. Shinitzky. Are you invited to a great party where there's lots of food? Look past the buffet table and envision yourself as the fit and trim person you want to be. That should help you control yourself. Remember, "if it's meant to be, it's up to me."

    S=Savor Your Accomplishments. Reward yourself for reaching small goals along the way. If you lose weight, buy yourself some new clothes. Quit smoking? Treat yourself to your favorite food, the flavors of which you will likely taste more fully.

    Last updated December 06, 1999

    From Discovery Health

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