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Potatoes Don’t Pack on Pounds
December 2015

Popular Misconception Mashed

potatoResearch from scientists at the University of California, Davis has mashed the notion that potatoes cause weight gain. The researchers tested 90 overweight people divided into three groups, with all of them eating five to seven servings of potatoes each week over a three-month period.

Two groups reduced their calorie intake by 500 calories per day, with one group eating low-glycemic index (GI) foods and the other group eating high-GI foods. The third group had no calorie restrictions. Despite the increased potato consumption during the study period, all three groups showed slight weight loss and reduced body mass index.

The researchers concluded, “Potato intake did not cause weight gain.”

 
Spirituality is Beneficial for Cancer Patients
December 2015

Strong Belief System Aids the Ill

spirituality-cancer-patientsAccording to a new review of research published in the journal Cancer, a strong religious or spiritual belief system may improve a cancer patient’s prognosis physically, emotionally and mentally.

Researchers from Florida’s H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and North Carolina’s Wake Forest School of Medicine reviewed clinical studies that included more than 44,000 cancer patients. The first review focused on physical symptoms and found that patients with stronger religious and spiritual beliefs reported fewer cancer symptoms and better physical health. They also showed enhanced capabilities in managing their daily  lives.

“These relationships were particularly strong in patients that experienced greater emotional aspects of religion and spirituality, including a sense of meaning and purpose in life, as well as a connection to a source larger than oneself,” states Heather Jim, lead author of the first review.

The second review focused on mental health and found reductions in anxiety, depression and distress among those with greater spirituality. Lead author Dr. John Salsman comments, “Also, greater levels of spiritual distress and a sense of disconnectedness from God or a religious community were associated with greater psychological distress or poorer emotional well-being.”

In the third review, the researchers found that patients with a stronger spiritual well-being reported better social health, as well.

 
Yoga Boosts Brain Gray Matter
September 2015

Regular Practice Improves Mental Health

yogaResearch from the Brain Imaging and Analysis Center at Duke University Medical Center has found that a regular hatha yoga practice increases gray matter within the brain, reversing the loss found among those with chronic pain. The researchers tested seven hatha yoga meditation practitioners and seven non-practitioners. Each of the subjects underwent tests for depression, anxiety, moods and cognition levels, along with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans.

The scientists found that the brains of the yoga meditation practitioners contained significantly greater gray matter by volume in key brain regions, including the frontal, temporal and occipital cortices, plus the cerebellum and the hippocampus, compared to the non-yoga subjects.

The yoga meditation practitioners also had more gray area in the prefrontal cortex regions that are involved in decision-making, reward/consequence, control and coordination.

 
Chamomile Tea Helps Us Live Longer
September 2015

Herbal Beverage Can Extend Life

chamomile-teaIn a study of 1,677 Mexican-American men and women over the age of 65 from the Southwestern U.S., researchers have found that drinking chamomile tea decreases the risk of earlier mortality by an average of 29 percent.

Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch followed the study population for seven years. Among those tested, 14 percent drank chamomile tea regularly. These were primarily women, and those women that drank chamomile tea experienced a 33 percent reduced mortality during the study period. The small group of men that drank the chamomile tea regularly did not register a significant difference in mortality.

Chamomile also has a long history of use in folk medicine and is primarily used to settle digestion and calm the mind. It is a leading natural herbal tea in many countries and contains no caffeine.

While various species may be used, chamomile tea is traditionally made by infusing the flowers of either German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) or Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) into hot water. In Spanish-speaking regions, chamomile tea is often referred to as manzanilla tea—consumed in Mexico and other Spanish cultures for centuries.

 
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