April 2009 Newsletter

Probiotics Keep Bad Bacteria Under Control
Probiotics, which means 'for life', have been used for centuries as natural components in health-promoting foods. Many experiments and studies have linked probiotics to aiding a range of ailments, such as lactose intolerance, colon cancer, lowering of cholesterol and blood pressure and, most importantly, improving immune function.
A study just published by scientists at London's Imperial College, published in Molecular Systems Biology, adds more weight to the argument for probiotic bacteria, demonstrating the measurable affect they have on gut flora. It revealed that when probiotics are consumed, the bile acids that break down fat in the gut are affected, possibly helping them to work more effectively. In theory, this could mean more fat passing undigested through the body - rather than being absorbed - although the study does not prove this.
Professor Jeremy Nicholson, who led the project, says: "Our study shows that probiotics can have an affect and they interact with local ecology and talk to other bacteria. We're still trying to understand what the changes they bring about might mean, in terms of overall health, but we have established that introducing 'friendly' bacteria can change the dynamics of the whole population of microbes in the gut.
"The gut naturally contains these beneficial bacteria which keep levels of disease-causing bacteria under control, but they are increasingly compromised by chemically-laden, over-processed foods, drink and medicines we ingest and the poilluted air we breathe. Supporting and boosting these good bacteria helps to restore optimum levels, aiding the immune system to detoxify the body and maintain a healthy digestive system, as well as providing a useful boost of sustained energy and even physical benefits. Anecdotal evidence ranges from improved eye sight to thicker, shinier hair."
Increasingly, research supports the health benefits of live bacteria (probiotics) to treat a variety of intestinal disorders and reduce staphylococcal growth during antibiotic treatment.
Professor Glenn Gibson, School of Biosciences at Reading University, recommends taking probiotics before, during and after a course of antibiotics and says: "Nobody could overdose on it, because probiotics can only contribute to gut and oral health."
Traveling with Crohn's Disease
Although Crohn's Disease is a difficult disorder, it should not keep you from traveling. A few precautions may be necessary.

1. Locate a doctor in the area you will be visiting. There are several organizations available to utilize in your search or you can simply ask your doctor for referrals.

2. If you are taking prescription medication, be sure to take plenty for the duration of your trip. You should also keep it with you when you travel on the plane to avoid it being lost.  Always keep your medication in its original container and a typed statement from your doctor regarding what medications you are taking and what they are for.
3. A common ailment suffered by travelers to less developed countries is known as "traveler's diarrhea". This can be especially difficult for sufferers of Crohn's Disease. Special care should be taken to avoid it from occurring. Be very careful about what you eat or drink; do not drink water unless you boil it; avoid drinks made from tap water, like tea or juices that may have been mixed from concentrate; use bottled water to drink and to brush your teeth with; avoid ice, ice cream, and uncooked fruits, vegetables, and meat.

Also avoid diary products as they may not be pasteurized; and do not eat any questionable food. If you become affected with traveler's diarrhea, take loads of probiotics, avoid inflammatory causing foods like grains and refined sugars. Take in plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
6 Important Tests for Women
Here are 6 tests that can help keep tabs on heart health:

1. Cholesterol
A blood test that breaks down your HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol. The goal is total cholesterol under 160, with LDL under 100 and HDL above 60. Your normal range does increase as you age, but problems will show up by your 20s if you're genetically predisposed; check your family history.

2. Blood pressure
A cuff inflated around your upper arm allows for a reading of how the heart pushes blood through your arteries. Normal blood pressure is less than 120 over 80, yet a little higher or lower likely isn't a problem. Ask your doctor what's baseline for you and keep track of it.

3. Electro-cardiogram (ECG or EKG)
Advised if you have several risk factors or symptoms of heart disease. Electrodes connected to your chest arms, and legs record the rhythm and strength of the heart. Symptoms such as palpitations, skipped beats, a racing heart, fainting, shortness of breath, or chest pain may be signs that an ECG is needed.

4. Stress test
Advised for those who have several risk factors or symptoms of heart disease. You walk on a treadmill, and your heart activity is evaluated by ECG. Women tend to have more false-positive stress tests, possibly due to hormones.

5. CT scan
Advised for those who have symptoms or a strong family history of heart disease. Images of the heart are taken to detect the severity of symptoms. One scan contains the radiation of 200 X-rays and can increase your risk of breast cancer in a small but significant way.

6. High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP)
This is blood test that checks your level of C-reactive protein, which is a marker of inflammation. A new, breakthrough study recommends this test in addition to cholesterol and blood pressure checks.

Source: Health.com
Contaminated Phones in Hospitals
Researchers from the Faculty of Medicine at the Ondokuz Mayis University, Turkey, tested the telephones of physicians and nurses in hospital operating rooms as well as intensive care units. They found that about 95% were contaminated with bacteria of different types, including the 'superbug', MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), thus potentially causing infections ranging from relatively minor skin complaints to life-threatening illness. Only 10% of staff regularly cleaned their phone.

The authors say, "Our results suggest cross-contamination of bacteria between the hands of healthcare workers and their mobile phones. These mobile phones could act as a reservoir of infection which may facilitate patient-to-patient transmission of bacteria in a hospital setting".

Did You Know ???
  • Almonds and pistachios have impressive cholesterol-lowering powers. In separate studies at the University of Toronto and Penn State University eating two handfuls a day dropped subjects' bad LDL by 9.4% and 11.6%, respectively.

  • Nuts protects against added pounds.  According to a recently published study in the journal Obesity, Mediterraneans who ate nuts at least twice a week were 31% less likely to gain weight than those who rarely or never ate them.
  In this Issue:
Probiotics Keep Bad Bacteria Under Control
Traveling with Crohn's Disease
6 Important Tests for Women
Contaminated Phones in Hospitals
Did you know?
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