HEADLINES / TRENDS l STATS l RESEARCH l MEDIA l PEOPLE

October 2015

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UPDATE


Take Gratitude to Heart

In our February story “The Angry Heart,” we learned that emotions such as anger, hostility and resentment can cause disordered heart rate, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular dangers. As one of the experts interviewed put it, stewing in anger is “like taking a dose of some slow-working poison every day of your life.”

Fortunately the opposite appears to be true: Adopting a more positive outlook can improve cardiac health. That insight has been reinforced by the results of a recent American Psychologial Association study.

A team led by the University of California, San Diego recruited 186 men and women in a stage of heart failure after the development of structural damage but before symptoms occur. The volunteers were questioned about their levels of gratitude and spiritual well-being as well as the presence of depression and poor sleep, and how well they responded to various types of situations.

According to results published in the journal Spirituality in Clinical Practice, spiritual well-being—specifically gratitude—was linked to better mood and sleep patterns.

The study team then asked some of the volunteers to record three things for which they were grateful most days of the week. Both groups received standard clinical care.

After two months, the patients who kept gratitude journals showed improvements in inflammation and heart rate factors.

“It seems that a more grateful heart is indeed a more healthy heart, and that gratitude journaling is an easy way to support cardiac health,” said lead author Paul Mills, PhD.

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Vitamin D May Ease Children’s Asthma

It can be frightening for parents to watch their child wheeze and cough during an asthma attack, or exacerbation. However, one study suggests that supplemental vitamin D may help children stave off such attacks.

Researchers from several institutions in the Chinese province of Anhui analyzed results from seven clinical trials. They found a 74% reduction in the risk of asthma exacerbation among children who were taking vitamin D supplements. Writing in the British Journal of Nutrition, they noted that “such supplementation may benefit children previously diagnosed with asthma.” The review included clinical studies conducted in Afghanistan, India, Japan, Mongolia and Poland.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 235 million people worldwide—many of them children—suffer from asthma, in which the airway becomes inflamed and narrowed.

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N U M B E R S

 

Saying No to Produce


13%

Americans who eat the

recommended 1 1/2 to

2 cups a day of fruit

 

9%

Those who eat the

recommended 2 to 3 cups

of vegetables

 

Source: CDC

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VISIONARIES

 

Lee Wattenberg:

Finding Cancer Fighters in Food

Today, thousands of researchers at dozens of institutions around the world are studying the cancer-battling power of phytonutrients. But it hasn’t always been this way; at one time scientists would have laughed off the idea that plants could help forestall cancer development.

The reason for this change lies in the groundbreaking work of Lee Wattenberg, MD, who died last year at age 92. He published his first paper on plant-based cancer prevention in 1966 in the journal Cancer Research, laying “the framework of understanding how these compounds work,” according to his New York Times obituary.

A Manhattan native who graduated from the City College of New York in 1941, Wattenberg earned his medical degree from University of Minnesota, where he would eventually spend 60 years as a professor. Before then he was a junior biologist on the Manhattan Project and served in the US Army during the Korean War as a researcher at Walter Reed General Hospital.

Wattenberg theorized that certain substances found in plants were able to help the body fend off cancer through a number of mechanisms. For example, the glucosinolates found in broccoli and other crucifers are now believed to not only inactivate cancer-causing agents and defend cells from DNA damage but also inhibit tumors from developing their own blood vessels, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Known as the “father of chemoprevention,” Wattenberg served as president of the American Association for Cancer Research from 1992 to 1993. Upon his death the current AACR chief executive, Margaret Foti, PhD, MD, said, “Because of Lee Wattenberg’s dedication to and belief in the promise of cancer prevention, the field has taken its rightful place as one of the most important areas of cancer research.”

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HEALTHY TRAVELER

 

Luxury, Nature’s Beauty

Meet at Hotel Mousai

 

Few destinations offer opportunities to rough it with hikes in tough jungle terrain and to surround yourself in luxury and uniquely indulgent amenities. And few offer the choice of making your stay either a decadent culinary excursion or a waist-watching retreat with abundant healthful fare, like green smoothies, quinoa salads and sushi, all presented like works of art.

The Hotel Mousai, a AAA Five-Diamond rated property in Puerto Vallarta, on Mexico’s west coast, manages to offer the best of all experiences. Entering the golden gates of the property, the Buddha-lined path leading to the hotel offers a hint that both body and spirit will be attended to. Awash in light contemporary hues, floor-to-ceiling glass windows and open-air terraces, Hotel Mousai was designed to bring nature in. Indeed, it’s difficult to walk more than 20 paces without catching views of the expansive Banderas Bay to the east and the lush hillside jungle of the Sierra Madre Mountains, on which the hotel sits, to the west.

Hotel Mousai can afford its open spaces; it sits on the same latitude as Hawaii and enjoys an inviting balmy climate year-round. We checked in for the hotel’s June Wellness retreat, an annual event featuring morning meditations, yoga and other activities built around mindfulness, the personal philosophy of the program’s creator, Karroll S. Gonzalez.

Whether or not you visit for the wellness retreat, you will have a healthy detoxifying escape by virtue of Hotel Mousai’s year-round amenities and features. A visit to the 18th-floor Rooftop infinity pool, for instance, is a meditation in itself, as are a few hours at the property’s plush Spa Imagine, featuring skilled therapists and an unsurpassed open-air oceanfront common area where an array of spouts stream water to soothe and massage you as you relax in oversize hot tubs.

There’s basketball, tennis and racquetball at the sports center, and just steps away from the property’s luxurious environs, you can navigate jungle paths, some challenging enough that rope supports have been installed along some of the trails. The hike, led by a competent guide from the hotel, offers alluring views of the ocean and exotic birds like the Yellow-winged Cacique, named for the bright yellow feathers that adorn its brilliant black body.

You’d shortchange yourself if you didn’t experience all that Hotel Mousai offers, but you can find satisfaction even if you never left your suite. Each suite features curtains and lighting controlled from an iPad, Italian porcelain floors and terraces that boast a hammock, gold-tiled hot tub and a priceless view of the Pacific. Visit HotelMousai.com.

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HEALTHY TRAVELER

 

NY Travelogue is Also a Cookbook

 

Autumn brings to mind apple picking, and New York State is one of the best places to engage in that delightful activity. New Yorkers, however, do not live by apples alone. That is made clear in the engaging book I Love NY: Ingredients and Recipes (Ten Speed) by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, the chef and general manager, respectively, of Eleven Madison Park, which they transformed from a French brasserie into a fine dining restaurant, then refashioned into a showcase for New York’s food artisans. I Love NY is at once a biography of those artisans, a cookbook with their delectable recipes and a travelogue of this beautiful state’s farms.

Consider the farm that fifth-generation farmer Jim Barber is running on land that once fed George Washington and his troops. Barber’s story is also the story of the area’s cauliflower crops, with accompanying recipes.

At more than 500 pages, I Love NY offers plenty to sink your teeth into.

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MEDIA


Planning for What’s Next

One of medicine’s triumphs over the past several decades has been the increase in people who have stared down cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, only half of those diagnosed in the 1970s survived at least five years. Today two out of three hit the five-year mark; there are more than 14 million cancer survivors in the US alone.

Surviving is one thing—but living is another. Unlike cardiac problems, for which rehab protocols have been developed, cancer “is still treated as though it is a bolt of lightning out of the sky,” say the authors of After Cancer Care (Rodale). The trio of doctors—Gerald Lemole, MD, Pallav Mehta, MD, and Dwight McKee, MD—note that for many cancer patients, after the inital joy of finally ending treatment wears off, the fear begins: What if I have a recurrence? The advice they offer is designed to help a survivor do everything in his or her power to keep that frightening possibility at bay.

As you may expect, After Cancer Care explains how to bolster your body’s cancer defenses through a diet that focuses on whole foods and an exercise plan that includes cardio, resistance training and stretching. The authors also stress the need to avoid toxins, including those found in such household items as food containers, cooking utensils and cleaning supplies.

In addition to supplementation for specific complaints such as chemo-induced nerve problems, the authors provide a chapter of lifestyle protocols for specific cancers that include appropriate supplements. For example, colon cancer patients are advised to consider adding probiotics to their regimens: “While probiotic therapy for colorectal cancer treatment is not well established, microbiota are thought to influence mutiple pathways by which cancer develops and progresses.”

Addressing physical health is only the first step. After Cancer Care also addresses the need for emotional and spiritual well-being; topics addressed include stress reduction and creating a support system. The authors also dedicate an entire chapter to the idea of finding balance, noting that the better balanced someone is, “the better they are able to move forward and engage in happy and satisfying lives.”

“By maintaining a positive attitude, eating right and exercising effectively, you can optimize your chances for survival and take control of your health,” say Lemole, Mehta and McKee. After Cancer Care provides a comprehensive roadmap to that goal.

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WORD

 

Adaptogen

An herb that helps the body adapt to

physical and/or mental stress.

(To learn which herbs can help older people fight stress and other problems,
see "Defying Age With Herbs.")

 

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