Dark Chocolate Helps in Improving Memory and Reducing Stress
Findings from two studies, presented at the experimental biology 2018 annual meeting in San Diego, show that consumption of dark chocolate that has a high concentration of cacao (minimally 70% cacao, 30% organic cane sugar) has positive effects on stress levels, inflammation, mood, memory and immunity, as it is a major source of flavonoids. This is the first time the effect has been studied on human subjects to determine how it can support cognitive, endocrine and cardio-vascular health and improve other brain functions. The data represents the first human trials examining the impact of consumption of dark chocolate.
 
This is the first time that studies have looked at the impact of large amounts of cocoa in doses as small as a regular-sized chocolate bar in humans, over short or long periods of time, and are encouraged by the findings. These studies show that the higher the concentration of cacao, the more positive the impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity and other beneficial effects. The flavonoids found in cacao are extremely potent anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, with known mechanisms beneficial for brain and cardio-vascular health.
 
This study assessed the electro-encephalography (EEG) response to consuming 48gm (grams) of dark chocolate (70% cacao) after 30 and 120 minutes, on modulating brain frequencies. The findings show that this super food of 70% cacao enhances neuro-plasticity for behavioural and brain health benefits. The research requires further investigation, specifically to determine the significance of these effects for immune cells and the brain in larger study populations. 
 
Weight Loss? Vegetarian Diet Is as Good as Mediterranean Diet
According to the research published in Circulation, vegetarian diet (VD) is said to be just as effective for weight loss as the famous Mediterranean diet (MD). The study discovered this by randomly assigning overweight omnivores with a low-to-moderate cardio-vascular risk profile a low-calorie VD compared with a low-calorie MD, each lasting three months.
 
 
Clinically, 107 healthy participants (18-75 years of age) with a low-to-moderate cardio-vascular risk profile were recruited and the eligibility criteria included being overweight along with the simultaneous presence of the following criteria: total cholesterol levels >190 mg/dL, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels >115 mg/dL, triglyceride levels >150 mg/dL, and glucose levels >110 but <126 mg/dL. The aim was to compare, in a population of omnivorous individuals living in a low-risk (for cardio-vascular disease) European country, the effects of a three-month period of being on a low-calorie VD, compared with being on a low-calorie MD on several markers of cardio-vascular disease risk. The participants spent half of that time consuming an MD before switching to a VD. While the former advocates lean proteins, nuts and whole grains, the latter excludes meat and fish but permits dairy and eggs. 
 
Following final examinations, the research concluded that both diets were as effective in reducing body weight, fat mass and body mass index, with the average participant losing 1.88kg on VD and another 1.77kg on MD. They also examined the effect both diets had on participants’ cardio-vascular health and found that both were equally effective in different ways. Both, VD and MD, were effective in reducing body weight, body mass index, and fat mass, with no significant differences between them. However, VD was more effective in reducing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels known as ‘bad’ cholesterol for its propensity to build-up in the arteries and potentially causes a stroke or a heart attack, whereas MD led to a greater reduction in triglyceride levels or fatty acids, which can be similarly detrimental to heart health when a build-up occurs.

 

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What Is the ‘Normal’ Blood Pressure Level?
Anybody who has followed the frequent changes in these guidelines in the recent few months is bound to get confused. The 2013 guidelines of the joint national committee-VIII (JNC-VIII) on prevention, detection, evaluation and treatment of high blood pressure (BP)comes from some of the best brains on the committee which declared, after due consideration, that the normal pressure levels should be at least 159 systolic and 99 diastolic for adults and 140/90 for a diabetic. This looks very reasonable scientifically. For reasons best known to them, they withheld this revelation for a good four years and released them for public consumption only in 2017. Immediately after this came a rebuttal from a group of super-intelligent American hypertensionologists who argued that it would be prudent to lower the blood pressure to 130/80 for all.
 
Way back in 2005, when JNC-V had suggested simple diuretics as the first line of treatment for hypertension, there was a huge hue and cry saying that diuretics are not the ideal drugs and the better drugs are alpha blockers and ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors, by a group of self-declared super specialists, although the JNC-V was headed by an eminent specialist who is one of the best in the world. What on earth is the scientific basis for this recent guideline of 130/80 as an ideal blood pressure? In the US, guidelines are mandatory as the so-called modern medicine has got legal monopoly on sickness-care.
 
There are no studies to support these varying claims at different times. The recommendation is subjective personal opinion, based on some statistical data which do not apply to individual patients. Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT) study did throw some indirect light on the subject by showing that the lower the blood pressure reading, the better are the mortality and morbidity rates. But without any cut-off level, this statistic is not reliable. Moreover, there is no evidence in the MRFIT data to show the drug-induced lowering of blood pressure is good for health. The data shows the normal blood pressure levels in the society and not drug-induced blood pressure levels. So, this data does not give credence to the claims that we should lower the blood pressure to 130/80 to get better results than keeping them at 140/90. Now, it is clear, in retrospect, that all these guidelines which keep changing frequently, are based on individual opinions which have no documented scientific basis.
 
Meanwhile, more and more drug companies have come out with expensive new BP-lowering drugs without any long-term experiential wisdom. Obviously, the various changes in BP guidelines would have come because of drug company pressures; it is now known that many ‘experts’ are under the influence of drug companies. As a researcher in the area, for the past half a century, I fail to understand any scientific basis otherwise. May God help our hapless patients who swallow these drugs faithfully!
 
An anecdotal story will illustrate the situation. Two close friends who were classmates from school became doctors. One settled in America as a professor and the other in India as professor in medical college. At the  of 50 years, both had what is called elevated BP which some guideline thought war-ranted drug therapy. While the Indian friend opted for lifestyle change and yoga, the American friend opted for drugs, as he believed in the American system. He was put on powerful ACE inhibitors and ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers). Today, after nearly 30 years, the American friend is on daily dialysis as he developed chronic kidney disease, while his counterpart is still not on anti-hypertensive drugs. Though this anecdote does not support any one view, it gives us a better insight into how un-reliable these linear statistical data are, in real-life situations. 
 
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COMMENTS

Nilesh Parikh

8 months ago

This hypertension issue heading in the same direction as the Cholesterol causes heart attack diathesis, that is, on the verge of collapse. But they are giving small doses of relaxation in criteiras, which is easily understandable.

Ramesh Poapt

9 months ago

good one again.
indians must reduce stress to be safe..

Pattabiraman Av

9 months ago

Ultimately what is the real advuce for indian BP patients who arenin 140/90. Range; should they take advanced costly medicines or just ugnore. BP reading

SUBHASH CHATTERJEE

9 months ago

Question is without any 100% sure shot proof,our intelligent brain is not able to accept the simple answers to complex questions and this is what then happens to us.Same for drugs too. We always think Europeans/Americans are the absolute truth and what ever they say is the ULTIMATE and so pay the price

Raul Verma

9 months ago

Sir,
In case a person has already started on medications like ACE inhibitors can he/ she withdraw now and institute lifestyle changes without any adverse effects?

Merchant M S

9 months ago

Sir, are there any study on Indian patients? If so please give a reference.

Drug Abuse: Campaign against Unnecessary Medication
Doctors and academics are increasingly speaking up against patients being given unnecessary medication—such as statins, blood pressure pills and glucose-lowering drugs for type-2 diabetics which have no effect and burn holes in the pockets of the people. They leave many people suffering further, due to side-effects, or cause excess deaths. A Cambridge University study found half of over-65s take at least five drugs a day. Taking up to five drugs a day increased the dangers of premature death by an estimated 47%, researchers warned. Over-prescribing medications is now the third most common cause of death, after heart disease and cancer.
 
The European Parliament, in Brussels, heard experts talk about such cases of over-prescriptions. Heading the panel was award-winning celebrity British cardiologist Dr Assem Malhotra; accompanying him were: Dr Richard Thompson, personal physician to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth from 1984 to 2005 and past president of the Royal College of Physicians; endocrinologist Dr Carl Heneghan, Oxford University professor of evidence-based medicine; and Dutch diabetes professor at Leiden University Dr Hanno Pijl.
 
The panellists called for an urgent Europe-wide campaign to reduce the amounts of drugs people are taking. They discussed the need for an inquiry into biased information being issued by Big Pharma on medicines that is harming millions of patients. Between 2009 and 2014, GlaxoSmithKline was charged $13 billion in fines for criminal behaviour which included hiding data on the side-effects of the drugs and manipulating results.
 
According to Dr Malhotra, poor quality research, influenced by vested interests, has resulted in an epidemic of misinformed doctors and misinformed patients leading to poor clinical outcome. Dr Malhotra further blames an ‘epidemic of misinformation’ over dietary advice which he believes has driven the consumption of refined carbohydrates and added sugars.
 
Sir Richard Thompson has argued against the use of statins, the cholesterol-lowering drug, which are only effective in people who already have heart disease; yet, millions of people who are not at risk take them. According to a 2014 study of Imperial College, beta-blockers have resulted in 800,000 excess patient deaths in Europe over the past eight years.
 
Junk Food Advertising and Children’s Health
Children are exposed to twice as much discretionary (unhealthy) food advertising as healthy food advertising, according to Lisa Smithers, associate professor at the University of Adelaide. A new funded research, led by Heart Foundation, shows that junk food ads are shown more frequently on TV when children are watching. The frequency and duration of junk food advertisements is 2.3 times higher each hour than for healthy foods. The research, published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, also found that children view more than 800 junk food ads each year, if they watch 80 minutes of television per day.
 
 
Prof Smither’s team built a TV monitoring system which was believed to be the first of its kind in the world. The team was able to capture an entire year’s worth of television and ads from one free-to-air commercial TV network in South Australia. It is the largest dataset ever used by health researchers for examining food advertising in Australia and, probably, the world. Most research in this area is based on only a few days of data, says Prof Smithers.
 
Some countries, like Canada and Norway, have banned junk food ads on children’s channels. In France, advertisers are required to publish healthy eating messages when unhealthy foods are advertised. In Australia, all advertising during children’s TV programmes is covered by the Children’s Television Standards but there is also no routine, independent monitoring of children’s exposure to food advertising. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), food marketing influences the types of foods that children prefer to eat, ask their parents for and, ultimately, consume. 
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COMMENTS

Lerusha Pitts

8 months ago

My father had ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) for 3 years His first symptoms were weakness in his hands and losing his balance which led to stumbling and falling. He never lost the ability to swallow or breathe. His one hand, then his legs, were affected first; then his arms. The Rilutek (riluzole) did very little to help him. The medical team did even less. His decline was rapid and devastating. The psychological support from the medical centre was non-existent and if it were not for the sensitive care and attention of his primary physician, he would have died . There has been little if any progress in finding a cure or reliable treatment. So this year his primary physician suggested we started him on Natural Herbal Gardens ALS Herbal mixture which eased his anxiety a bit,We ordered their ALS herbal treatment after reading alot of positive reviews, i am happy to report this ALS herbal treatment reversed my dad condition. His quality of life has greatly improved and every one of his symptoms including difficulty in walking and slurred speech are gone. Their official web site is ww w. naturalherbalgardens. c om He will be 74 soon and can now go about his daily activities

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