HEADLINES / TRENDS l STATS l RESEARCH l MEDIA l PEOPLE

February 2012

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Women with Celiac Disease More Depression-Prone

In “Goodbye Gluten” (January), we saw how a sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains, can lead to celiac disease in people who are genetically susceptible. This disorder, which affects more than 2 million Americans, is marked by symptoms that can include constipation,
diarrhea, bloating, gas, indigestion and nausea. Intestinal damage may occur; this can result in a failure to absorb nutrients properly, which in turn can lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Digestive distress isn’t the only sign of gluten-related trouble. Researchers have found that women with celiac disease are more likely to suffer from depression. In fact, 37% of the 177 women in one study matched the clinical definition of depression as measured by the 20-item Center for Disease Studies Depression Scale. Even those women on a gluten-free diet were more likely to suffer from low mood than members of the general population. What’s more, the women also tended to worry excessively about weight and body shape issues and to suffer from disordered eating patterns.

“What we don’t know is what leads to what and under what circumstances. It’s likely that the
disease, stress, weight, shape and eating issues, and depression, are interconnected,” says lead study author Joshua Smyth, PhD, professor of biobehavioral health and medicine at Penn State University. This study appears online in Chronic Illness.

However, Smyth points out that sticking to a gluten-free diet does help improve overall well-being
and reduce stress levels.

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NUMBERS

One Nation
Under Stress

39%
Americans who say they’re good at managing stress

44%
Those who say their stress has increased over the past five years;
only 27% report decreasing stress

6.0
Average stress level, on 1-10 scale, of people who are obese
(5.2 for the general population)

6.3
Average stress level for people who are depressed

 

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WORD

MYOCARDIAL
INFARCTION (MI)

The technical term for a heart attack;
occurs when blood flow to the
heart muscle is blocked, which can kill muscle
cells if circulation is not restored quickly enough.

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Açai, Omega-3 May Protect Nerves

Nerve injuries and disorders can be among the most challenging health issues one can face because they can be so difficult to treat. But in two separate studies, omega-3 fatty
acids and the açai berry have shown neuroprotective potential.

An international research team found that mice nerve cells enriched with omega-3, which has been found to play a key role in proper nervous system development, were protected against both physical injury and harm caused by free radicals. What’s more, mice suffering from nerve damage recovered more fully and quickly, and with less muscle weakness, when their bodies contained high amounts of omega-3.

The team said their findings showed that omega-3 “can protect damaged nerve cells, a critical
first step in successful neurological recovery” in their study report, which was published in the Journal
of Neuroscience.

In another investigation, scientists at the Tufts University Human Nutrition Research Center on
Aging in Boston pretreated mouse BV-2 microglial cells, immune cells in the brain that protect neurons, with açai pulp. The treated cells were less likely to produce inflammatory, neuron-damaging substances when stressed by a toxin known as lipopolysaccharide.

The study report, which appeared in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, concluded that açai consumption “may contribute to ‘health span’ in aging, as it is able to combat some of the inflammatory and oxidative mediators of aging at the cellular level.”

Açai, a berry native to the Amazon rainforest, contains a high level of free radical-fighting antioxidants.

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Rocky Mountain High on
Eco-friendly Building

The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program
certifies buildings for their green design,
construction and operation.

Colorado, Illinois and Virginia round out the top three of the US Green Building Council’s 2011 list of top 10 states for LEED-certified commercial and institutional green buildings per capita, based on the US 2010 Census.

Among notable LEED-certified buildings the USGBC pointed to are the LEED-Platinum Casey Middle School in Boulder, Colorado; the iconic Wrigley Building in Chicago; Frito-Lay in Lynchburg, Virginia, with LEED Gold; the LEED Silver Hard Rock Café in Seattle; Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland; Yawkey Distribution Center of The Greater Boston Food Bank in Massachusetts; the LEED Gold Austin Convention Center in Texas; SFO's LEED Gold Terminal 2 in San Francisco; the LEED Platinum Hotel Skylar in Syracuse, New York; and the LEED Platinum Marquette Plaza in Minneapolis. More than 44,000 commercial projects participate in the LEED program.

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He Plowed Ahead After Cancer


Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. Such was the case 10 years ago when Mark Noonan, then working in financial services, was diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct, a type of cancer that he says could have developed into pancreatic cancer if not caught.

Noonan, now 52, gets restless when idle so he returned to work 15 days after his surgery. He wanted to return to a normal routine around the house, too. So he invented the Snow Wolf, a snow shovel that rests on a wheel which serves as a movable fulcrum and employs Archimedes’ principle of leverage.

The device allows hardy souls who risk back pain and heart attacks while shoveling snow to exert less energy. And unlike a snow blower, Noonan’s invention simplifies snow removal without leaving a carbon footprint.

Noonan’s New Canaan, Connecticut-based company, NooTools, has since introduced other products to simplify work around the house. The Leaf Loader, for instance, twists into a four-foot wide funnel for easily loading leaves into a garbage can or leaf bag.

“They’re definitely low tech, and sometimes they look a little funny, but they’re a new take and new design for eliminating everyday problems,” Noonan, now cancer-free, says of his products.

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MEDIA

Sweet Danger


A powerful thirst for soft drinks helps explain our national obesity problem. But excess weight is only one hazard. “The glut of liquid sugar consumed without the fiber of whole fruit hits the bloodstream running, causing a suppressed immune system and eventually disease,” says Nancy Appleton, PhD, author (with G.N. Jacobs) of Killer Colas: The Hard Truth About Soft Drinks (Square One.)

Appleton, a nutritionist, first took aim at the sweet stuff in her 1985 book, Lick the Sugar Habit (Avery). Her latest volume finds connections between intake of sugary sodas and health hazards ranging from acid reflux to cancer. What’s more, Appleton says soda is addicting—and provides advice on how to break free.

If you sip soda too often for your own good, Killer Colas may provide the push you need to put that can down once and for all.

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