Healthy Snacks Can Be Smart Part of a Diabetes Diet

Healthy Snacks Can Be Smart Part of a Diabetes Diet

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WEDNESDAY, Dec. 28, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Healthy snacks are a part of managing diabetes, and it’s best to avoid the vending machine, says the American Diabetes Association.

There are plenty of energy-boosting snacks that aren’t loaded with sugar, salt and fat, the group advises.

For someone with diabetes, choosing the right foods and controlling portion sizes can help avoid unhealthy spikes in blood sugar levels and weight gain, the association explains.

Doctors generally advise people with diabetes to limit the carbohydrates they eat. That’s because carbohydrates make blood sugar levels rise.

Here are some healthy snack suggestions from the ADA listed according to their carb content. The following snacks contain less than 5 grams of carbohydrate, the association says:

  • 15 almonds
  • 3 celery sticks with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 5 baby carrots
  • 5 cherry tomatoes with 1 tablespoon ranch dressing
  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • 1 cup cucumber slices with 1 tablespoon ranch dressing
  • cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup salad greens with 1/2 cup diced cucumber and a drizzle of vinegar and oil
  • 1 frozen sugar-free popsicle
  • 1 cup light popcorn
  • 2 saltine crackers
  • 10 goldfish crackers
  • cup sugar-free gelatin
  • 1 string cheese stick
  • 8 green olives
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin or sesame seeds
  • whole avocado

These healthy snacks contain about 10 to 20 grams of carbohydrates, according to the association:

  • cup dried fruit and nut mix
  • 1 cup chicken noodle soup, tomato soup (made with water), or vegetable soup
  • 1 small apple or orange
  • 3 cups light popcorn
  • 1/3 cup hummus with 1 cup raw fresh cut veggies, such as green peppers, carrots, broccoli, cucumber, celery or cauliflower
  • cup cottage cheese with cup canned or fresh fruit
  • 1 cheese quesadilla (made with one 6-inch corn or whole wheat tortilla, 1 ounce shredded cheese and cup salsa)
  • 2 four-inch rice cakes with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 5 whole wheat crackers and 1 stick of string cheese
  • turkey sandwich (made with one slice whole wheat bread, 2 ounces turkey and mustard)
  • cup tuna salad with 4 saltines

People looking to consume 30 grams or more of carbohydrates before exercise should consider the following snacks, the association says:

  • peanut butter sandwich made with 1 slice whole wheat bread and 1 tablespoon peanut butter. You can wash this down with 1 cup of milk.
  • 6 ounces light yogurt with cup berries, such as blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.
  • 1 English muffin with 1 teaspoon low-fat tub margarine.
  • 3/4 cup whole-grain cereal with cup fat-free milk.
  • 1 medium banana with 1 tablespoon peanut butter.

Stocking up on these healthy snack foods can help curb hunger and resist the temptation to fill up on fatty, sugary snacks, the association says.

But even healthy foods should be enjoyed in moderation. If you have diabetes, measure your food portions with measuring cups and spoons, the group says.

Also, remember that snacking in front of the TV or while reading or driving can lead to mindless eating.

— Mary Elizabeth Dallas

Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: American Diabetes Association, news release

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Did Cavemen Use Toothpicks?

Did Cavemen Use Toothpicks?

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TUESDAY, Dec. 27, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Researchers say they’ve found evidence that ancient human relatives used toothpicks.

Wood fibers were found on a tooth in a 1.2-million-year-old hominin jawbone discovered at an excavation in northern Spain. The fibers were found in a groove at the bottom of the tooth, suggesting they came from regular tooth picking.

Previously, the oldest known example of this type of dental cleaning was from the 49,000-year-old remains of a Neanderthal.

The researchers also found tartar (hardened plaque) on all the teeth in the jawbone except one. An analysis of the tartar revealed that these ancient people ate a balanced diet of meat and starchy foods, and ate their food raw.

The study appeared recently in the journal The Science of Nature.

Some of the starch granules found in the tartar suggest that grass seeds may have been part of the hominin’s diet.

“It is plausible that these ancient grasses were ingested as food. Grasses produce abundant seeds in a compact head, which may be conveniently chewed, especially before the seeds mature fully, dry out and scatter,” said study leader Karen Hardy. She’s with the Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies and the Universtat Autonoma de Barcelona in Spain.

The tartar also contained conifer pollen grains, suggesting that the hominin lived near a forest.

The intact starch granules and uncharred fibers found on the teeth show that these hominins did not know how to use fire to cook food. Also, the teeth were worn down and had signs of heavy use, suggesting they were used to grip and chew raw materials, the researchers said.

“Our evidence for the consumption of at least two different starchy plants, in addition to the direct evidence for consumption of meat and of plant-based raw materials suggests that this very early European hominin population had a detailed understanding of its surroundings and a broad diet,” Hardy said in a journal news release.

— Robert Preidt

Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: The Science of Nature, news release, Dec. 15, 2016

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Does Santa's Diet, Lifestyle Earn Him a Stocking Full of Coal?

Does Santa's Diet, Lifestyle Earn Him a Stocking Full of Coal?

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SUNDAY, Dec. 25, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Santa might want to put a ho-ho-hold on some of his potentially damaging lifestyle habits, such as eating millions of cookies on Christmas Eve.

Concerned family doctor Dr. Jennifer Caudle also pointed out that every Dec. 24, Santa zips around in an open sleigh without wearing a seatbelt, stays out all night, and sneaks in and out of strangers’ homes. These behaviors might just earn Saint Nick a lump of coal from his own doctor.

However, “by all accounts, he is over 550 years old and still very active, so maybe there’s more to his health habits than immediately meets the eye,” said Caudle, an assistant professor at Rowan University, in Glassboro, N.J.

It’s likely that Santa follows a workout regimen throughout the year that enables him to be “quick and lively” when it counts, Caudle suggested.

“Carrying all those toys requires strong bones and muscles, which also helps prevent falls, especially in older individuals, like Santa,” she said in a Rowan news release.

Caudle also noted that the Jolly Old Elf has abandoned a particularly dangerous behavior.

“Years ago, images of Santa often showed him smoking a pipe, but he seems to have kicked that habit,” she said.

“Tobacco use is still the single most preventable cause of death and disease in America. No matter how long an individual smokes, quitting has both immediate and long-term health benefits,” Caudle explained.

But Santa’s eating habits may still put his health at risk.

“Even though he appears to have slimmed down a bit, Santa’s body mass index still seems to be quite high,” said Caudle, who noted that obesity is a leading cause of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

“Those sugary snacks he enjoys at each stop on Christmas Eve can contribute to unhealthy weight gain. Children can help Santa stay healthy by leaving healthier choices, like carrot sticks or apple slices with peanut butter. These are good snacks for parents and children to share, too,” Caudle said.

Another factor in Santa’s favor: Mrs. Claus.

“By all accounts, Santa and Mrs. Claus have been married for a long time, and some studies have indicated that married couples enjoy several health benefits, including being more likely to follow their health care provider’s advice,” Caudle said.

Santa’s reindeer may also give him a health boost.

“According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, having pets can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, which are important for heart health. Plus, a pet often encourages healthy exercise, like walking, and can open the door to opportunities for social interaction with other pet owners,” Caudle said.

— Robert Preidt

Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: Rowan University, news release, Dec. 19, 2016

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New MS Drug Shows 'Breakthrough' Promise for Advanced Disease

New MS Drug Shows 'Breakthrough' Promise for Advanced Disease

News Picture: New MS Drug Shows 'Breakthrough' Promise for Advanced DiseaseBy Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 22, 2016 (HealthDay News) — A new drug slows the progress of multiple sclerosis, including an advanced form of the degenerative nerve disease for which there currently is no treatment, according to a pair of new clinical trials.

One MS specialist called the intravenous drug, ocrelizumab, a “breakthrough.”

Ocrelizumab reduced the advance of MS-related disability by 24 percent in people with primary progressive MS compared to a placebo, results from one clinical trial show.

Researchers compared ocrelizumab against a placebo, or dummy drug, because there’s no approved treatment available for primary progressive MS. This form affects about 15 percent of MS patients, said Dr. Stephen Hauser, chair of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco.

“It does represent new hope for people with progressive MS,” said Hauser, who worked on both reports.

Ocrelizumab also proved superior in treating people with relapsing multiple sclerosis, the most common form of MS, compared with other available medicines, the other clinical trial found.

“The data are really quite dramatic,” Hauser said. “They show by MRI that new areas of inflammation in the brain were reduced by 95 percent compared with the current treatment.”

Ocrelizumab, under the brand name Ocrevus, is awaiting approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA had been set to approve the drug this month, but recently extended its review into March.

“We’re very hopeful the drug will be available in the spring,” said Dr. Aaron Miller, medical director of Mount Sinai’s Corinne Goldsmith Dickinson Center for Multiple Sclerosis in New York City. “I expect it will get widespread use.”

Hauser explained that multiple sclerosis occurs when the immune system attacks the protective sheath that covers nerve fibers, which is composed of a fatty substance called myelin.

Ocrelizumab treats MS by depleting the immune cells that produce antibodies to attack the myelin, Hauser said.

Initially, multiple sclerosis features inflammation that crops up as the immune system actively attacks the myelin. In this phase, known as relapsing multiple sclerosis, patients alternate between active MS attacks followed by periods of remission, Hauser noted.

But, after the myelin sheath has been destroyed, some MS patients will settle into a lengthy degenerative phase known as primary progressive multiple sclerosis. Instead of having attacks of the disease, patients experience a slow and progressive worsening of their motor function, Hauser said.

MS affects an estimated 2.3 million people around the world, including about 400,000 people in the United States, the study authors said in background notes.

Although there’s no cure for any form of MS, multiple treatments are available for relapsing MS to ease symptoms. The clinical trial involving this form of the disorder compared ocrelizumab against the drug interferon beta-1a, which is a current standard-of-care medication.

Ocrelizumab reduced new inflammation, and also produced up to a 47 percent reduction in relapses and a 43 percent reduction in disability compared to interferon, the clinical trial reported. Hauser served as scientific steering committee chair for this trial.

Miller said that the drug also showed itself to be the first real ray of hope for people with progressive MS, slowing the disorder’s advance in a limited but meaningful way.

“We have never had any adequate treatments for primary progressive MS. In that respect, this is a breakthrough,” Miller said. “Obviously one would like to see higher levels of greater reduction, but this is definitely a very significant finding for appropriate patients.”

The drug also was very well-tolerated by patients, Hauser and Miller said.

About one-third of patients suffered a reaction to the infusion of the drug, but other medications helped treat these symptoms with no long-term effects, Hauser said. Only 1.3 percent of patients developed a serious infection, compared to 2.9 percent of those treated with interferon.

Both clinical trials were sponsored by the drug’s manufacturer, F. Hoffmann-La Roche. The results were published Dec. 21 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Stephen Hauser, M.D., chair, department of neurology, University of California, San Francisco; Aaron Miller, M.D., medical director, Mount Sinai’s Corinne Goldsmith Dickinson Center for Multiple Sclerosis, New York City; Dec. 21, 2016, New England Journal of Medicine

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Daily Low-Dose Aspirin May Cut Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Daily Low-Dose Aspirin May Cut Pancreatic Cancer Risk

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TUESDAY, Dec. 20, 2016 (HealthDay News) — There’s evidence that daily low-dose aspirin may decrease the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a new study.

The Chinese-based study couldn’t prove cause-and-effect. However, “the balance of evidence shows that people who use aspirin to reduce risk for cardiovascular disease or colorectal cancer can feel positive that their use likely also lowers their risk for pancreatic cancer,” said study lead author Dr. Harvey Risch.

He’s professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health and Yale Cancer Center in New Haven, Conn.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year, and almost 42,000 will die from the disease. Pancreatic cancer is often a “silent killer” because symptoms do not emerge until the tumor is advanced.

The new study tracked 761 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in Shanghai from 2006 to 2011, and compared them to 794 people who didn’t have the cancer.

All the participants were asked about whether they took low-dose aspirin on a regular basis. Almost all who said they took it did so on a daily basis.

Eighteen percent of the non-cancer patients reported regular use of low-dose aspirin compared to 11 percent of the pancreatic cancer patients.

After adjusting their statistics so they wouldn’t be thrown off by various factors, the researchers estimate that aspirin may reduce the already small risk of pancreatic cancer by 46 percent.

However, Risch’s team stressed that the study doesn’t prove that aspirin directly produces a lower risk, and the participants may not have precisely remembered their aspirin intake.

An analysis of other studies found similar results. The researchers examined 18 other studies that had investigated aspirin use and pancreatic cancer risk over the past two decades and found that as aspirin use increased, the risk of pancreatic cancer significantly decreased.

“Pancreatic cancer is relatively rare — just 1.5 percent of U.S. adults will be diagnosed with it at some point during life — and regular aspirin use can cause appreciable complications for some,” Risch said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research. “Therefore, a person should consult his or her doctor about aspirin use.”

One oncologist who reviewed the data said Americans should be cautious in interpreting the results.

“This is an interesting study that suggests that regular aspirin use may reduce the incidence of pancreas cancer — in people living in China,” said Dr. Tony Philip, an oncologist at Northwell Health Cancer Institute in Lake Success, N.Y.

“Anything more than that cannot be extrapolated from this study,” he said. “We know the genetics of people in one part of the world is very different from other parts. In addition, we don’t know what else these patients were doing, for example, taking herbal medicine, their family history, or access to medical care.”

Philip said that he wouldn’t suggest daily low-dose aspirin to his patients based on this data alone. But the findings “can be the basis for further work” researching this issue, he added.

The study was published Dec. 20 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

— Randy Dotinga

Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Tony Philip, M.D., medical oncologist, Northwell Health Cancer Institute, Lake Success, N.Y.; American Association for Cancer Research, news release, Dec. 20, 2016

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