Monthly Archives: August 2010

Cave man diet is a menu from the old, old days

Our Stone Age ancestors lived in an uncomfortable world, spending their 30-year life spans hunting and gathering without air conditioning or heat. But some say the cave men ate better than we do, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune.

That’s the premise behind the Paleo diet, a health and weight-loss trend that encourages people to eat modern-day versions of Paleolithic food.

Several weeks ago, one group of health-conscious Californians took on the Paleo diet and planned to spend nine weeks eating like cave men. That means consuming only animals, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and mushrooms, said Rick Larson, co-owner of CrossFit West Sacramento, the gym running the challenge.

“A lot of people at our gym were getting good workout results, but I knew they weren’t supporting it with their diets,” Larson said.

Like any diet, the hardest thing about the Paleo diet is what you can’t eat. Out is anything that humans began eating after the agriculture and animal husbandry revolutions, meaning no dairy, beans, grains or starches and absolutely nothing processed.

The idea of the Paleo diet has been around since the 1980s, but it was popularized in the 2002 book “The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to Eat” by Loren Cordain, a professor at Colorado State University.

Twenty years ago, Cordain read about the diet in a scientific journal and decided to try it.

Following the diet is tough. Larson holds weekly social support sessions with participants. On a recent Tuesday, Larson told the group they are allowed to have two vices: tea and coffee.

“But not sweetened, and with no dairy,” he said.

He points to himself. He’s been doing the Paleo/Zone diet for 11 weeks, and his body fat percentage is 2.7, he said.

Santinia Pasquini, 33, said she has tried everything from Weight Watchers to diet pills, and in the week she’s been doing the Paleo/ Zone diet, she has lost 8 pounds. There was no mentioned whether that loss was typical of other group members.


Misaligned eyes may have negative social effect

By age 6, children with visible eye disorders begin to experience discrimination by their peers, according to new research showing that youngsters with misaligned eyes are invited to fewer birthday parties than children with normally centered eyes.

As a result, the researchers suggest that corrective surgery be performed no later than age 6, when the negative social consequences might arise, according to the study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology and reported in the Chicago Tribune.

The eye condition known as strabismus — which includes a squint, crossed or wandering eyes — has been shown to cause social problems for adults. Studies show adults with misaligned eyes tend to have psychological problems, trouble finding a job and difficulty with relationships. In addition, the condition can cause double vision in an older child or a loss of vision in a younger child.

To find out when children start to discriminate based on looks, Swiss researchers digitally altered photographs of six children from six identical twin pairs to create misaligned eyes.

They then asked 118 Swiss children between the ages of 3 and 12 which of the identical twins they would invite to a birthday party.

Children under age 6 didn’t distinguish between the twins with a squint and those with normally aligned eyes, likely because younger children cannot see the whole face at once — they view it in pieces — and may not realize the two eyes are not aligned, the researchers said.

But children age 6 and older were significantly less likely to invite the child with the misaligned eyes, the researchers found.

“Our results fit very well with studies showing holistic face recognition begins around age 6,” said lead study author Stefania Margherita Mojon-Azzi of Switzerland’s University of St. Gallen. It’s possible, she added, that children in other countries might behave differently.

Strabismus can be caused by an imbalance in the pull of muscles that control the position of the eyes or by poor vision in one eye.

Antibiotics now recommended before C-section

Pregnant women about to undergo a cesarean delivery should be given antibiotics right before the procedure to help prevent infections, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now recommends.

Infection is the most common complication of cesarean delivery and occurs in 10 percent to 40 percent of women who have the procedure, compared with 1 percent to 3 percent of women who deliver vaginally, according to the college.

Typically, antibiotics were only given after a cesarean delivery because it was believed that if they were given prior to birth, they would make their way into the baby’s blood and interfere with newborn lab tests or lead to antibiotic-resistant infections in the newborn.

“Based on the latest data, prophylactic antibiotics given to pregnant women before a cesarean significantly reduce maternal infection and do not appear to harm newborns,” Dr. William H. Barth, Jr., chair of the ACOG’s Committee on Obstetric Practice, said in a college news release.

“We’re recommending that all women who undergo cesarean get a preventive course of antibiotics before the surgery starts. Ideally, this should happen within 60 minutes of surgery,” he added.

Women who require an emergency cesarean should be given antibiotics as soon as possible, according to the new recommendation.

For more information, go online at

Drinking water prior to a meal may reduce hunger, weight gain

There is a school of thought that says drinking two cups of water before a meal can promote weight loss. Fill up on no-calorie water so you’ll naturally eat less, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune.

But, so far, there hasn’t been much scientific evidence to back this popular theory. Some research is promising, however. A study published in the journal Obesity showed that people consumed between 75 to 90 fewer calories per meal if they drank two cups of water prior to eating.

The study was the first randomized controlled trial looking at water consumption and weight control, said lead author Brenda Davy, an associate professor of nutrition at Virginia Tech.

The researchers asked 48 adults to follow a low calorie diet for 12 weeks. Half of the volunteers were randomly assigned to the “water” group and drank two cups before the main meal. They lost about 5 pounds more than the group that did not consume water.

The water group was also able to keep the weight off after 12 months, said Davy, who presented new long-term data from the study on Monday at the American Chemical Society Conference.

“It’s a simple way to facilitate weight management,” Davy said.

It’s not known exactly how water consumption might help with weight loss. The volunteers in the study reported feeling more full and less hungry, “so we think a feeling of fullness is part of it,” Davy said.

Americans also suck down about 400 calories a day in beverages.

“The folks in the water group appeared to be substituting water for the beverages they normally consumed,” Davy said.

Catching up on emails after vacation puts the grind back in work

On your first day back from work after a delightful two-week vacation, were you instantly stressed out by unanswered email?

The transition back to work can quickly wipe out the positive effects of a much-needed break, said Dr. Paul J. Rosch, president of the American Institute of Stress, in a story in the Chicago Tribune.

Heart attacks and strokes are said to occur more often on Mondays due to the stress of returning to work after having a weekend off, he said. “But getting back to the grind after two weeks of a relaxing vacation could be a greater health hazard.”

Rosch admits there’s no easy answers to whether — or how — you should disconnect yourself from the office. Checking email can make your return to work less stressful, but staying connected makes it hard to relax. He suggests setting some ground rules for yourself depending on your responsibilities and leaving an out-of-office email telling people the dates you’re gone.

Does smoking in a movie deserve an ‘R’ rating?

If a character drops too many f-bombs in a movie, the film is likely to get bumped up to an “R” from a “PG-13” rating. Many public-health groups would like to give similar treatment to onscreen smoking, saying it boosts the probability kids will take up the habit, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.

That case was made this week in a paper published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The study actually showed that number of tobacco-use “incidents” (almost all of which involved smoking) in top-grossing movies declined steadily between 2005 and 2009 after zig-zagging in previous years.

Still, the researchers, led by Stanton Glantz, a UCSF professor of medicine who directs the Smoke Free Movies Project, calculated there were still 1,935 movie tobacco incidents in 2009. The most famous onscreen user that year was Sigourney Weaver’s character, environmental scientist Grace Augustine, in the superduperblockbuster “Avatar.”

Glantz and others leapt on her cigarette habit after the movie came out, claiming it imbued the movie with a pro-smoking message. Cameron responded to the criticism in a New York Times Arts Beat blog post, saying he used cigarettes to define Augustine’s initially “off-putting and even unpleasant” character.

Glantz and his co-authors write that cutting tobacco’s onscreen appearances even further “could lead to less initiation of smoking among adolescents,” citing previous epidemiological research, including one study (of which Glantz was an author) that found the more a young adults was exposed to onscreen smoking, the more likely he or she was to smoke.

The authors recommend the implementation of “effective methods to reduce the potential harmful influence” of tobacco use in films. An editorial note accompanying the paper cites four such methods:

• An “R” rating for movies that include smoking or other tobacco use.
• Requiring “strong anti-tobacco ads” before movies that include tobacco use.
• Not allowing tobacco products used in movies to show a visible brand.
• Requiring producers of movies that include tobacco use to certify that no consideration was paid to include the depiction.
“There’s a very strong scientific evidence base … that [seeing] smoking onscreen causes kids to smoke,” Glantz said in a telephone press conference about the study. If directors want their characters to smoke, they should have them do it in movies not marketed to kids, he said.

Study: Tai chi may give relief to fibromyalgia sufferers

The ancient Chinese practice of tai chi may be effective as a therapy for fibromyalgia, according to a study published on Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine, according to a story in the New York Times.

A clinical trial at Tufts Medical Center found that after 12 weeks of tai chi, patients with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition, did significantly better in measurements of pain, fatigue, physical functioning, sleeplessness and depression than a comparable group given stretching exercises and wellness education. Tai chi patients were also more likely to sustain improvement three months later.

“It’s an impressive finding,” said Dr. Daniel Solomon, chief of clinical research in rheumatology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who was not involved in the research. “This was a well-done study. It was kind of amazing that the effects seem to carry over.”

Although the study was small, 66 patients, several experts considered it compelling because fibromyalgia is a complex and often-confusing condition, affecting five million Americans, mostly women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since its symptoms can be wide-ranging and can mimic other disorders, and its diagnosis depends largely on patients’ descriptions, not blood tests or biopsies, its cause and treatment have been the subject of debate.