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When you're on a diet, there are generally a lot of rules. So many rules, in fact, that it can be difficult to tell which ones you really ought to be following. You're working hard to achieve results, so make sure that you're not falling victim to these common dieting mistakes.

Mistake # 1: Banishing favorite foods

It's hard to stick to a diet where you are never able to eat your favorite foods. Suddenly those foods become extra tempting and before you know it, you're "cheating" on your diet and feeling like you failed. By allowing yourself to indulge once in a while (savoring those foods and not feeling guilty), you can find a healthy balance that really works in the long run.

Mistake # 2: Ditching whole categories of foods

There's a reason that carbs, fat and protein are called macronutrients: Your body needs them in large quantities. A diet plan that tells you to completely eliminate any of these big categories could cause problems in the long term. For instance, the fat-phobic '90s gave rise to a host of sugar-filled refined carbs and Americans gained weight in epic numbers.

Mistake # 3: Expecting too much too soon

Many experts agree that for healthy, lasting weight loss, you should expect to lose no more than one to two pounds per week. If you are expecting the pounds to slide off more rapidly than that and they don’t, you may get discouraged. But slow and steady wins the race, so stay in it! 

Mistake # 4: Skipping meals

Skipping meals may seem like a good way to skimp on calories, but it actually can lead you to eat more later on. If you don't eat lunch, for instance, you might overcompensate at dinner thinking you deserve the extra calories. Eat when you're hungry (but not ravenous) to keep hunger and portions in check.

Mistake # 5: Eating too little

If you're looking for rapid weight loss, it might be tempting to go really low on calories, but watch out. Diets too low in calories often don't offer all the nutrients you need. Make 1,200 calories your absolute minimum daily calorie goal. With proper planning, you can get a balanced intake of food for that amount.

Mistake # 6: Eating because the plan tells you to

On the flip side, if your plan tells you to eat every two or three hours, yet you're not hungry, that's not necessarily a good thing either. For a healthy weight, it's important to learn to recognize your internal hunger cues and respond to them; so if you're hungry, eat — but if you're not, don’t.

Mistake # 7: Thinking exercise gets you a pass

Exercise and dieting go hand-in-hand when you're trying to lose weight, but the key is to ramp up exercise (calorie burn) while decreasing calorie intake. It's easy to overestimate how much you burned during an exercise session and then eat too much to compensate, sabotaging your goal. Stick to the rule of thumb that unless you exercised for a hard hour or more, all you really need to replenish yourself after exercise is water.


Food Allergics Beware: Herbal Products May Contain Surprise Ingredients

New research for the University of Guelph shows that the majority of herbal products on the market contain ingredients that are not listed on their labels.
The study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, used DNA barcoding technology to assess the components of 44 herbal products from 12 companies. They found that 60% of the products contained plant species that were not listed on the label, and 20% used fillers like rice, soybeans, and wheat which were also not divulged on the bottles.
For instance, products sold as St. John’s wort supplement, which is sometimes used to treat depression, contained Senna alexandrina, which is a plant that spurs laxative symptoms. Other products contained Parthenium hysterophorus (feverfew), which is known to cause swelling and mouth numbness. One ginkgo product contained Juglans nigra (black walnut), which should not be consumed by people with nut allergies — but this warning was not noted on the label.
“It’s common practice in natural products to use fillers such as these, which are mixed with active ingredients. But a consumer has a right to see all of the plant species used in producing a natural product on the list of ingredients,” lead author Steven Newmaster, an integrative biology professor at the Guelph-based Biodiversity Institute of Ontario said in a statement.


Study: Vitamin D Supplements Don’t Protect Against Fractures

Keeping bones strong may take more than popping a few pills, according to the latest research.
Scientists from the University of Auckland in Auckland, New Zealand reviewed 23 studies involving 4,082 healthy volunteers with an average age of 59 and report that those who took vitamin D supplements for about two years did not have significantly greater bone density or lower risk of osteoporosis than those who didn’t take them.
That confirms what the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found earlier this year in its review of the data — that adding 400 IU of vitamin D and 1000 mg of calcium to a healthy diet did not lower the risk of fractures for post menopausal women. Because vitamin D pulls calcium, a building block of bone, from the intestines, doctors have long assumed that urging the elderly to take supplements would help them to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D, which tend wane with age. And data suggesting that about 57% of American adults are deficient in the vitamin only gave the advice more urgency.
But all of that additional D doesn’t seem to be making bones any stronger, say the researchers, who published their findings in the Lancet. For healthy individuals, at least, who are not suffering from osteoporosis, adding more vitamin D to what they are getting from their daily diet — or from sunlight, which the skin transforms into active forms of D — isn’t necessary. Recent studies have also suggested that estimates of vitamin D deficiency may have been misleading, since scientists measured different forms of the vitamin in the body. “Our data suggest that targeting low-dose vitamin D supplements only to individuals who are likely to be deficient could free up substantial resources that could be better used elsewhere in health care,” study author Ian Reid said in a statement. To maintain strong bones, for most adults it’s enough t to take in at least 600 IU of vitamin D daily, from foods such as fatty fish and dairy products. and for the elderly to consume around 800 IU of vitamin D a day.


Malaria vaccine protects children for up to 18 months

Results from a large-scale Phase III African trial of an experimental malaria vaccine by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) shows that it continued to protect young children up to 18 months after vaccination.
Malaria kills 660,000 people a year, mostly children living in sub-Saharan Africa.
The news about the trial results raises hopes that the first protective shot against the mosquito-borne disease will be available in 2 years.
GSK says the data from the trial supports their plan to apply to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for regulatory approval in 2014.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says if the vaccine candidate gets a positive scientific opinion from the EMA, then it is possible that a policy to recommend the vaccine will be issued as early as 2015.
The latest trial result showed that over 18 months of follow-up, GSK's candidate malaria vaccine RTS,S reduced cases of clinical malaria by 46% in young children aged 5-17 months after first vaccination, compared with children immunized with a control vaccine. Babies aged 6-12 weeks after first vaccination had 27% fewer cases of clinical malaria.
Comparing the 28-month results with the trial's results at 12 months, shows that the vaccine's overall efficacy declines with time. At the 12-month point, the efficacy was 56% reduction in cases in the 5-17 month age group and 31% in the 6-12 week age group.
The vaccine is continuing to show an "an acceptable safety and tolerability profile" during the 18-month follow-up, says GSK.

Potential for 'significant public health impact'

RTS,S works by triggering the immune system to defend against the malaria parasite when it first enters the human bloodstream, or when it infects liver cells.
The result is the parasite stops infecting, maturing and multiplying in the liver, thus preventing the next stage where it leaves the liver and goes back into the bloodstream to infect red blood cells, causing disease.
In the Phase III trial, the vaccine has been delivered in three doses, 1 month apart.
Next year, the trial investigators expect to reveal more data from 32 months of follow-up, plus the impact of a fourth booster dose that is given 18 months after the initial three doses of RTS,S.
Eleven research centers in seven African countries are conducting the trial, together with GSK and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI), which receives funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dr. Halidou Tinto, Principal Investigator from the Nanoro, Burkina Faso, trial site and member of the committee overseeing the Phase III trial, says:
"Many millions of malaria cases fill the wards of our hospitals. Progress is being made with bed nets and other measures, but we need more tools to battle this terrible disease."
Dr. Tinto says it appears that the vaccine has the potential to make a significant public health impact. Preventing significant numbers of malaria cases means a community will have fewer hospital beds filled with sick children, and:
"Families would lose less time and money caring for these children and have more time for work or other activities. And of course the children themselves would reap the benefits of better health."
In an August 2013 issue of Science, researchers reporting results of an early-stage clinical trial of an unusual experimental malaria vaccine say it may provide 100% protection against malaria infection in healthy adults.
Written by Catharine Paddock PhD

Copyright: Medical News Today

Beware Of Deadly New Virus, CDC Warns Officials

State and health officials have been warned about a deadly virus which has so far killed 8 of 14 infected people in the Middle East and the United Kingdom. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) explained that this virulent coronavirus is part of the same family of viruses as the common cold and SARS.

Experts believe this new coronavirus comes from the Middle East. Of the four confirmed infections in the United Kingdom, three occurred among people who had travelled to the Middle East, one of whom was a family member of an infected person, he had no history of recent travel and had never been to the Middle East. This means that it has become human-transmissible; infected humans can pass it on to other people.

One of the family members, the one who had not travelled, died. According to UK authorities, the patient had an underlying condition that may have increased susceptibility to respiratory infections.

The novel virus is a coronavirus, part of the same virus family as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and the common cold. During the SARS epidemic of 2003/2004, 10% of infected people were killed. This new coronavirus has a death rate of over 50% (8 out of 14 infected people have died).

"Corona" is Latin for "crown" or "halo". Coronaviruses have halo-like projections on their surfaces.

Coronaviruses 004 lores
Coronaviruses viewed under an electron microscope, with their crown-, or halo-like (corona) appearance

Scientists working at the Health Protection Agency, UK, say that the new coronavirus (N-CoV) is not the same as SARS-CoV (the virus that causes SARS), but is similar to it. N-CoV is similar to a coronavirus found in bats.

According to the CDC, no cases of infection with the new coronavirus have been reported in the USA.

The first case of the novel coronavirus infection was diagnosed Qatar, the patient was taken to the United Kingdom for treatment in September 2012.

According to Professor John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at Britain's Health Protection Agency:
"The routes of transmission to humans of the novel coronavirus have not yet been fully determined, but the recent UK experience provides strong evidence of human-to-human transmission in at least some circumstances.

The three recent cases in the UK represent an important opportunity to obtain more information about the characteristics of this infection in humans and risk factors for its acquisition, particularly in the light of the first ever recorded instance of apparently lower severity of illness in one of the cases. The risk of infection in contacts in most circumstances is still considered to be low and the risk associated with novel coronavirus to the general UK population remains very low. The HPA will continue to work closely with national and international health authorities and will share any further advice with health professionals and the public if and when more information becomes available."

The CDC is advising doctors and health care authorities in the USA to be watchful for any patients who have been to the Middle East during the past 10 days with unexplained respiratory infections.

The CDC has set up a Coronavirus Website with infection updates.

What are the signs and symptoms of novel coronavirus infection?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the following signs and symptoms were reported in the confirmed cases of human illness:
  • acute severe respiratory illness
  • breathing problems
  • fever
  • shortness of breath
Virtually all patients develop pneumonia. In some patients there is kidney failure.

WHO and the HPA emphasize that with only 14 cases to go by, the features of the infection may change.

Novel coronavirus less human transmissible than SARS

Experts from the UK and WHO say that although the signs and symptoms of N-CoV are similar to those found in S-CoV (the virus that causes SARS), the novel coronavirus is much less human transmissible.

Nobody knows how widespread N-CoV is. Except for one person - the patient in the UK who caught the infection from a family member - how the others became infected is still a mystery. Health authorities do not know whether N-CoV infection resulted from close contact with infected animals or people.

In an official communiqué in February 2013, WHO asked all Member States to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections and to carefully review unusual patterns. Patients with unexplained pneumonias should be tested, as should those with unexplained severe, progressive/complicated respiratory illness who do not respond to treatment.

WHO, the HPA and the CDC do not advise screening people at points of entry, or implementing any travel or trade restrictions.

Written by Christian Nordqvist
Copyright: Medical News Today

New target found for drugs against brain cell death

A major pathway leading to brain cell death in mice has been blocked by an orally administered drug-like compound, successfully preventing neurodegeneration in the animals.
While this particular compound also resulted in unacceptable weight loss, the finding provides a new target for future drugs to treat neurodegenerative disorders in humans, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, found that the compound, originally developed by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline for a different purpose, was able to enter the brain from the bloodstream and halt a neurodegenerative disease throughout the whole brain.
The mice had prion disease - from a family of rare progressive neurodegenerative disorders known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, of which Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is an example in humans.
Previous work by the researchers, from the Medical Research Council's (MRC) toxicology unit at the University of Leicester, found that the "build-up of mis-folded proteins in the brains" of mice with prion disease caused the over-activation of a natural defence mechanism in cells, switching off the production of new proteins.
This protein production - key to the survival of brain cells - would normally switch on again, but the build-up of misshapen protein prevented this and led to brain cell death.

Brain cell death pathway switched off

That previous discovery, published in the journal Nature in 2012, led to the scientists' idea that this pathway could be switched off.
Professor Giovanna Mallucci, the MRC scientist who led the team of researchers, says: "Our previous study predicted that this pathway could be a target for treatment to protect brain cells in neurodegenerative disease. So we administered a compound that blocks it to mice with prion disease."
Prof. Mallucci adds:
"We were extremely excited when we saw the treatment stop the disease in its tracks and protect brain cells, restoring some normal behaviours and preventing memory loss in the mice."
However, the researchers say that despite protecting the brain, the compound also produced weight loss in the mice and mild diabetes due to damage to the pancreas, calling a halt to further investigation in the animals.
"We're still a long way from a usable drug for humans - this compound had serious side effects," Prof. Mallucci says. But she remains optimistic:
"The fact that we have established that this pathway can be manipulated to protect against brain cell loss - first with genetic tools and now with a compound - means that developing drug treatments targeting this pathway for prion and other neurodegenerative diseases is now a real possibility."
Prof. Mallucci's colleague Professor Hugh Perry, chair of the MRC's neuroscience and mental health board, added his thoughts on the importance of the new research.
"Misshapen proteins in prion diseases and other human neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, also over-activate this fundamental pathway [that controls] protein synthesis in the brains of patients," Prof. Perry says, who is also professor of experimental neuropathology at the UK's University of Southampton.
"Despite the toxicity of the compound used, this study indicates that, in mice at least, we now have proof-of-principle of a therapeutic pathway that can be targeted," Prof. Perry adds.
"This might eventually aid the development of drugs to treat people suffering from dementias and other devastating neurodegenerative diseases."
Treatment of diseases such as Parkinson's is not the only challenge - effective diagnosis is, too. There is no biological test for Parkinson's disease, but research published in the journal Neurology earlier in October 2013 found that a biomarker for the disorder may lie just under the skin.
Written by Markus MacGill

Copyright: Medical News Today

Peanut butter helps diagnose Alzheimer's disease

A dollop of peanut butter and a ruler can be used to confirm a diagnosis of early stage Alzheimer's disease, University of Florida Health researchers have found.
Jennifer Stamps, a graduate student in the University of Florida (UF) McKnight Brain Institute Center for Smell and Taste, and her colleagues reported the findings of a small pilot study in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences.
Stamps came up with the idea of using peanut butter to test for smell sensitivity while she was working with Dr. Kenneth Heilman, one of the world's best known behavioral neurologists, from the UF College of Medicine's department of neurology.
While shadowing doctors in Heilman's clinic, she noticed that patients were not tested for their sense of smell. The ability to smell is associated with the first cranial nerve and is often one of the first things to be affected in cognitive decline.
"Dr. Heilman said, 'If you can come up with something quick and inexpensive, we can do it,'" Stamps says.
She thought of peanut butter because, she said, it is a "pure odorant" that is only detected by the olfactory nerve and is easy to access.

Widespread problem

According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's disease affects 5.2 million people in the US and will cost the nation $203 billion in this year alone.
Peanut butter on teaspoon
Researchers found that by placing a dollop of peanut butter on a ruler, they could identify early stages of Alzheimer's disease, based on patients' ability to detect the odor at certain distances.
The Association estimates that one American develops Alzheimer's every 68 seconds, and they expect to see this figure rise to one American every 33 seconds by 2050.
In the study, patients who were coming to the clinic for testing also sat down with a clinician, who was armed with 14 grams of peanut butter - which equals about 1 tablespoon - and a metric ruler. The patient closed his or her eyes and mouth and blocked one nostril.
The clinician opened the peanut butter container and held the ruler next to the open nostril while the patient breathed normally. By moving the peanut butter up the ruler 1 cm at a time during the patient's exhalation, they were able to measure the distance at which the patient could detect the odor.
The distance was recorded and the procedure repeated on the other nostril after a 90-second delay.
The clinicians running the test did not know the patients' diagnoses, which were not usually confirmed until weeks after the initial clinical testing.

Sense of smell loss

The scientists found that patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease had a dramatic difference in detecting odor between the left and right nostril - the left nostril was impaired and did not detect the smell until it was an average of 10 cm closer to the nose than the right nostril had made the detection in patients with Alzheimer's disease.
This was not the case in patients with other kinds of dementia; instead, these patients had either no differences in odor detection between nostrils or the right nostril was worse at detecting odor than the left one.
Of the 24 patients tested who had mild cognitive impairment, which sometimes signals Alzheimer's disease and sometimes turns out to be something else, about 10 patients showed a left nostril impairment and 14 patients did not.
The researchers said more studies must be conducted to fully understand the implications.
Stamps explains:
"At the moment, we can use this test to confirm diagnosis. But we plan to study patients with mild cognitive impairment to see if this test might be used to predict which patients are going to get Alzheimer's disease."
Stamps and Dr. Heilman point out that this test could be used by clinics that do not have access to the personnel or equipment to run other, more elaborate tests required for a specific diagnosis, which can lead to targeted treatment.
At UF Health, the peanut butter test will be one more tool to add to a full suite of clinical tests for neurological function in patients with memory disorders.

Non-invasive, early stage test

One of the first places in the brain to degenerate in people with Alzheimer's disease is the front part of the temporal lobe that evolved from the smell system, and this portion of the brain is involved in forming new memories.
"We see people with all kinds of memory disorders," Heilman said. Many tests to confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease or other dementias can be time-consuming, costly or invasive. "This can become an important part of the evaluation process."
The UF study could help by detecting a person's likelihood of developing the disease at a much earlier stage, with a non-invasive test.
The Alzheimer's Association acknowledge that at the moment, there is no cure for the disease, nor can current Alzheimer's treatments stop Alzheimer's from progressing. They can, however, temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms. This improves the quality of life for both sufferers and their caregivers.
As Stamps says:
"If we can catch it at that early stage, we can start treatment more aggressively at the early stage and you can possibly prevent a lot of the progression."
Medical News Today reported in July this year that taking certain lifestyle measures, including taking regular exercise and eating a balanced diet, could reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's.
Written by Belinda Weber

Copyright: Medical News Today