STUDY: GOING GLUTEN-FREE MAY HARM YOUR HEART

People are always interested in trying new diets in hope of improving their overall health, but some stick around longer than others. The gluten-free diet is one that celiac disease patients have to adhere to in order to maintain their overall well-being, but what about everyone else? Should we consider going without gluten?

New research suggests that there may be health risks involved in avoiding gluten. Researchers from the Columbia University Medical Center recently looked at what a low-gluten diet entails for people who don’t have celiac disease – a medical condition that warrants staying away from the ingredient. 

They discovered that maintaining a low-gluten diet does not provide any health benefits to individuals who do not have celiac disease. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it may actually be doing more harm than good.

“In fact, it may cause some harm if they follow a low-gluten diet that is particularly low in whole grains because those grains appear to have a protective effect against heart disease,” lead author Benjamin Lebwohl told Men’s Fitness.  

This goes back to the age-old question – if you don’t have a diagnosed medical problem, what’s the point of drastically altering the way you eat? Even if you are looking to shed a few pounds, there are a few things you need to know about altering your diet.

Ideally, you should speak to your doctor about your health before you hop on any diet bandwagon. If you don’t know your “ideal weight,” there’s no better time to have the conversation.

“No one really knows the precise answer, so this is something you want to negotiate with your physician,” says Richard Weil, weight loss program director at the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center. “If you’re middle-aged, have been overweight for a long time, and your doctor says you ought to get to the weight you were in high school, that might not be realistic.” 

You may also have to take existing medical conditions into account. Even something as simple as a vitamin deficiency may play a role in whether your doctor suggests adhering or avoiding a diet.


DIGITAL HEALTH: COMPARING APPLES & GOOGLES

With more and more clever devices like smart watches hitting the market, it’s becoming easier to track everything from our daily steps to the weather. Technology is paying off in the healthcare field as it evolves, and everyone wants to be a part of the journey. With companies like Apple and Google getting in on the action, what does this mean for the medical field as a whole?

Patients and Data Tracking

Whether it’s a Fitbit, Jawbone or a smartphone app, patients are using it. The “Tracking for Health” study released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that 69 percent of adults track a health indicator for themselves or others.

In turn, this means that medical professionals are meeting more patients who have a ton of personal information at their fingertips. When people walk into the doctor’s office, they are prepared to discuss their latest health concerns, thanks to technological advances. They may already know their blood pressure, heart rate or sleeping patterns as a result of these tools.

Apple Taps into the Potential

Apple proved that it was serious about its dive into the healthcare field when it debuted HealthKit with iOS 8. In short, HealthKit allows individuals to bring together all of the data from their health and fitness apps and store it in the Health app – one neat, tidy place.

This also creates a tighter connection between physicians and their patients. Through the technology, individuals can send data directly to their doctors via apps. This can save valuable time in the actual doctor’s office and hone in on any underlying health problems.

“Heart rate, calories burned, blood sugar, cholesterol — your health and fitness apps are great at collecting all that data,” Apple writes on its website. “The new Health app puts that data in one place, accessible with a tap, giving you a clear and current overview of your health.”

Finding a Niche in Hospitals

Since HealthKit launched, it’s made its way into hospitals, and physicians are seeing numerous benefits. In U.S. hospitals, more doctors are utilising Apple’s technology to keep tabs on their patients remotely, according to Reuters.

The news source contacted 23 top hospitals across the country, and 14 stated that they had rolled out a pilot program of Apple’s HealthKit service. The technology allows medical professionals to monitor chronic conditions, such as diabetes, from afar. In turn, this reduces overall healthcare costs and the number of hospital admissions.

Apple has said that more than 600 developers have integrated HealthKit into their health and fitness apps.

The Unveiling of ResearchKit

In addition to launching HealthKit, Apple developed ResearchKit, and it may be a glimpse into the future of medicine.

ResearchKit is a software framework that was specifically created for medical research. It’s open source, which means that users can collaborate, regardless of their physical location. This gives researchers the ability to work alongside each other in a virtual space. Massachusetts General Hospital, the American Heart Association, the University of Oxford and Stanford Medicine are just some of the many organisations already using ResearchKit.

Individuals who own an iPhone can use ResearchKit to participate in medical studies and submit their data to researchers. However, users maintain control over how much information is shared – researchers can only access the data that is selectively shared, which helps iPhone users maintain privacy.

The information that is shared via ResearchKit eliminates handwritten surveys and forms, as well as the need for data entry and storage. Instead, medical professionals can access study data directly from their iPhone, which allows them to focus more on research.

“ResearchKit gives the scientific community access to a diverse, global population and more ways to collect data than ever before,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of operations.

Google Joins the Party

As Apple garners more attention for its developments in healthcare, Google has moved in to steal the show. Google Fit arrived with the debut of Android 5.0 Lollipop, it appeared to have some of the same features as Apple Health.

Data tracking is the one big feature that it has in common with Apple’s technology. Google Fit allows individuals to track their activity, weight and heart rate over time. The Web interface is accessible from anywhere, and it comes preloaded onto Android Wear items.

That being said, Google Fit still has additional plans in the works – plans that could make it a more versatile asset for medical professionals. Google Fit will aggregate data through open APIs, and the company eventually intends to partner with other wearable device makers, according to Forbes.

However, it’s Google Fit’s basic features that may make it more appealing to the average technology owner. For example, Android smartphone users can view their health data in a convenient chart via Google Fit. It’s this type of simplicity that could eventually boost its use and popularity.

The Adoption of Patient-Oriented Technology

In order for medical professionals to reap the benefits of these innovations by companies like Apple and Google, patients need to use the technology. Now the question is whether individuals will buy into the idea of tracking – and sharing – their personal health data.

The “Wearable Technology and Preventative Healthcare” report by TechnologyAdvice has found that about 43 percent of adults do not have any concerns surrounding the use of these assets. However, 60 percent of them said that they did not specifically use a device or an app to track their healthcare data. Nearly 43 percent said they did not have a specific reason for not tracking their health, which indicates that there is still underlying potential.

About 14 percent said that they intend to start using a device or app in the near future, which could pave the way for companies other than Apple and Google to enter the field. As the general population becomes more interested in healthcare, the medical industry is bound to evolve in the coming years.

One thing’s for sure – the gap between patients and doctors will continue to close as more innovations pop up on the scene.

[As seen on PharmiWeb Solutions]


THIS NEWLY DISCOVERED DINOSAUR FLAWLESS IS NEARLY PERFECT

When archaeologists stumble upon a new dinosaur fossil, they never know what they’ll turn up. In some cases, they are fragmented remains that are difficult to analyze. In other instances, the fossils are in impeccable condition. Needless to say, researchers always hope for the best, and that’s exactly what they recently found in Montana. 

Researchers from the Royal Ontario Museum were working in the Judith River Formation in northern Montana when they stumbled upon the remains of a new species of ankylosaurine dinosaur, now named the Zuul crurivastator. The researchers called it an “exceptionally complete and well-preserved skeleton.” It was the first ankylosaruin skeleton to come with a complete skull and tail club. Furthermore, it was the most complete ever discovered in North America.

“The presence of abundant soft tissue preservation across the skeleton, including in situ osteoderms, skin impressions and dark films that probably represent preserved keratin, make this exceptional skeleton an important reference for understanding the evolution of dermal and epidermal structures in this clade,” the authors wrote in their report.

Interestingly, ankylosaurians are not typically known for originating from the Judith River Formation. When they are, they are only traced back to the area through isolated teeth and bones. Now that researchers have a more complete fossil, they are looking forward to better understanding how the creature evolved over time.

Zuul…The Villain?

If the name Zuul sounds familiar, it’s because the dinosaur was named after the villain from the “Ghostbusters” film.

“Me and my co-author David Evans were batting around ideas for what to name it, and I just half-jokingly said, ‘It looks like Zuul from Ghostbusters,’” paleontologist Victoria Arbour told CBC. “Once we put that out there we couldn’t not name it that.” 

Finding a Dinosaur “On Accident”

Believe it or not, the dinosaur – better known to researchers as ROM 75860 – was discovered by accident back in 2014.

“ROM 75860 was discovered accidentally on 16 May 2014 during overburden removal for a scattered tyrannosaurid skeleton, when a skid-steer loader encountered the tail club knob,” the researchers wrote in their report. “It was found approximately 10 m from the edge of the exposure, and beneath more than 12 m of overburden.”

Considering it was subject to more recent surface erosion before it was found, the archaeologists were shocked by its pristine condition.

But the discoveries didn’t stop there.

“The quarry also produced the remains of numerous other taxa, including turtles, crocodilyforms, theropods, hadrosaurids, invertebrates and plants,” the authors note. “Like ROM 75860, these fossils also represent some of the best preserved and most complete examples of their respective taxa from the Judith River Formation and will be described in future publications.”


WAKE UP! SLEEPING IN MAY BE INCREASING YOUR RISK OF A STROKE

It always seems like there isn’t enough time in a day to get everything done, and when it comes down to the wire, sleep is often the first thing to go. This much-needed period of rest is essential to keeping you going during the day, but what happens when you get too much?

A new study conducted at the University of Cambridge has revealed that people who sleep for more than eight hours per day are significantly increasing their risk of fatal and non-fatal stroke. Researchers looked at 10,000 people between the ages of 42 and 81 to compose their findings. The participants were analyzed over the course of 9.5 years.

Elders, females and inactive individuals were the main subjects who typically received less than six hours of sleep a night. Seven out of 10 participants claimed that they slept between six and eight hours per evening.

Approximately 346 participants were affected by a stroke during the period of the study. People who slept for longer than eight hours a night had a 46 percent increased risk of having a stroke. Those who received six hours or less had an 18 percent risk.

Too little sleep can make you feel fatigued, but too much of it appears to lead to an increased stroke risk. What’s the real deal on sleep?

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE EXPERTS

The National Sleep Foundation updated its recommended guidelines on sleep in the beginning of February 2015. The results, which were published in Sleep Health: The Official Journal of the National Sleep Foundation, showed that sleep recommendations now vary according to age group. This means that if you’re between the ages of 14 and 17, between eight and 10 hours of sleep is sufficient. However, you can get by with seven to nine hours of sleep as an adult between the ages of 26 and 64.

“This is the first time that any professional organization has developed age-specific recommended sleep durations based on a rigorous, systematic review of the world scientific literature relating sleep duration to health, performance and safety,” said Charles Czeisler, chairman of the board of the National Sleep Foundation, chief of sleep and circadian disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine at the Harvard Medical School.

However, these recommendations still don’t answer one key question: “What can sleep do for me?”

In truth, researchers still don’t quite understand why humans need sleep, according to the Division of Sleep Medicine at the Harvard Medical School. However, the general theory is that sleep can “restore” what is lost in the body while we’re awake. Think of it as recharging your phone battery.

Whether the risk of stroke specifically applies to your health is up for a medical professional to determine. Seeing a doctor about any issues regarding sleep can help you find out how it impacts your overall well-being.

[read here]


DOG SALIVA: 5 FAST FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW

Many of us don’t think twice about the saliva that comes out of our dog’s mouth when we lean in for a slobbery kiss. Affection between humans and their pets is not uncommon. However, what is common is the lack of education surrounding animal saliva, its bacteria, and how it impacts both humans and pets. Here are five fast facts about dog saliva that can change the way you think about your pet and its mouth.

Dog saliva helps prevent canine cavities. The saliva found in the mouths of dogs is better suited to prevent cavities, in comparison to human saliva.

“[Human saliva] has a PH of 6.5 to 7,” says Dr. Colin Harvey, emeritus professor of surgery and dentistry at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “The saliva of dogs and carnivores in general is slightly alkaline, around 7.5 to 8. The significance of that difference is that dogs do not get dental cavities nearly as frequently as humans. The slightly alkaline nature of dog saliva buffers the acids that are produced by some bacteria that are the cause of the enamel of the tooth being eroded away.”

Saliva helps dogs with digestion, but not in the way you think. “There are no digestive enzymes present in the saliva of dogs,” Harvey says. “It is purely designed to get the food down into the stomach so the digestive process can start.

In fact unlike people, dogs don’t have to chew their food to mix in the saliva and start the digestive process. A dog’s stomach and intestines can do all the necessary work. The pure, simple function of dog saliva is to move food down the esophagus.

Dog saliva is antibacterial. “Dog saliva does contain chemicals that are antibacterial and it’s very unlikely that saliva by itself would be a direct cause of infection,” says Harvey. “You often see dogs licking wounds and that is a cleansing action and an antibacterial action to promote the healing of a superficial wound.” Of course licking won’t cure all superficial infections in dogs, so veterinary visits are still often necessary.

Dog “kisses” may transfer bacteria to humans. Just because dog saliva has antibacterial properties does not mean that dog “kisses” are clean and humans should let their guard down. Dr. Edward R. Eisner, the first veterinarian to become a board-certified specialist in Veterinary Dentistry in Colorado, notes that it’s possible for bacteria to be transferred from pets to humans. One study published in Oral Biology in 2012 found that there can be a transmission of periodontopathic species of bacteria between dogs and their owners.

Dog saliva may produce allergies in humans. While many people believe that pet fur is the culprit of allergic reactions to dogs, many of these allergies actually stem from proteins found in dog saliva. According to a study published in the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, dog saliva contains at least 12 different allergy-causing protein bands. When dogs lick their fur, the saliva dries, and these proteins become airborne. Researchers who conducted the study concluded that dog saliva has greater potential as an allergen source than dog dander.

Tips for Preventing Periodontal Disease

Dr. Eisner notes that despite the cavity-preventing nature of dog saliva, periodontal disease will still occur without active prevention.

“Saliva coats our teeth,” says Dr. Eisner. “If it’s not brushed off by tooth brushing, it becomes plaque, which further traps the bacteria.” As the condition progresses, the bacteria can cause bone destruction in the tooth-supporting structures of the mouth.

“When a dog or even a person has a mouth that hasn’t been cared for, every time they eat, they get bacteria in the bloodstream,” Eisner says. “It’s a 20-minute transit through the bloodstream, and our immune systems, spleens and livers helps clean the blood. It’s no harm for the very healthy with a good immune system. But young animals and pets with serious medical conditions or autoimmune diseases are more susceptible to circulating bacteria.”

Dr. Eisner recommends annual dental care for dogs. A puppy should have his first exam at eight weeks of age. Dogs that have periodontal disease may need to visit their vet more frequently to monitor the progress of the condition.

[As seen on: PetMD]

As seen in PetMD, PharmiWeb Solutions, and more.

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