Mushrooms may be good source of vitamin D

Vitamin D has many known benefits. A new study shows that there may be a natural and tasty way for individuals to get this nutritional supplement.

Finding a means beside sun exposure to attain sufficient levels of vitamin D may be helpful. The American Academy of Dermatology notes that ultraviolet radiation from the sun can cause skin cancer to develop. Therefore, finding an alternative source of the vitamin that is part of a healthy diet could be advantageous.

Mushrooms may be a vitamin D source
Boston University Medical Center found that eating mushrooms with vitamin D2 may effectively help increase vitamin D levels as much as taking a supplement of vitamin D2 or vitamin D3.

Researchers claim that mushrooms absorb vitamin D similarly to how human skin does – by being exposed to ultraviolet light. Therefore, any mushrooms that grow under the sun likely attain this nutrient. Additionally, according to the study, these mushrooms produce vitamin D3 and vitamin D4 when exposed to UVB rays.

During the study, researchers surveyed 30 healthy adults. Different members of the study group either took capsules with 2000 International Units of vitamin D2, 2000 IU of vitamin D3 or 2000 IU of mushroom powder. This mushroom extract contained vitamin D2. The participants took these pills once a day.

The results showed that all the participants, whether taking a regular nutritional supplement or a mushroom-based pill, had the same vitamin D levels. In all three groups, the vitamin D levels increased gradually then remained level after seven weeks. Five weeks later, the participants maintained these vitamin levels.

“These results provide evidence that ingesting mushrooms which have been exposed to ultraviolet light and contain vitamin D2, are a good source of vitamin D that can improve the vitamin D status of healthy adults,” Michael Holick, Ph.D., lead investigator of the study, said.

Vitamin D may benefit women
Beside the general health benefits of vitamin D, the nutrient may help women reduce their risk of getting uterine fibroids. The National Institutes of Health recently published a study noting that women who maintained adequate levels of vitamin D decreased their chance of developing fibroids – benign tumors on the uterus – by 32 percent.

“This study adds to a growing body of literature showing the benefits of vitamin D,” Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences said.

By potentially maintaining substantial levels of vitamin D through a healthy diet that includes mushrooms, individuals may be able to experience these health benefits.

Mediterranean diet may provide health advantage

The Mediterranean diet may offer even more benefits than previously thought, according to a report by the Gerontological Society of America. The “MeDiet” may reduce the risk of hyperuricemia in individuals who adhere to it.

Hyperuricemia is a metabolic disorder characterized by an excess of uric acid in the blood.

Following a Mediterranean diet to inhibit hyperuricemia
The Gerontological Society of America explains that hyperuricemia is associated with a number of health issues including hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular morbidity and chronic kidney disease.

Marta Guasch-Ferre, registered dietician, conducted a five-year study with 11 other researchers to determine if the MeDiet would have benefits for people with hyperuricemia. Over 7,000 elderly participants were in the study group. Men 55 to 80 years old and women 60 to 80 years old followed one of three diets, two of which were Mediterranean-based. The participants either had type 2 diabetes mellitus or a risk of heart disease.

Mediterranean diets, according to the study, consist mainly of fruits and vegetables. Additionally, they are based on nuts, legumes, dairy and poultry. The diet also calls for an optional moderate consumption of wine. Individuals should not consume high quantities of red meat, creams and pastries, but they shouldn’t cut these items out entirely.

The diet has high amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory elements. These properties may contribute to reducing the amount of uric acid in the blood, according to researchers. Therefore the diet may be beneficial in deterring hyperuricemia.

Overall, the results of the study showed that those participants who closely adhered to the MeDiet had an increase in reversion of hyperuricemia. Researchers found that eating legumes specifically inhibited the condition.

Other studies note the benefits of the Mediterranean diet 
According to a recent Newsmax Health report, the New England Journal of Medicine unveiled research suggesting that adhering to a Mediterranean diet may also prevent cancer and heart disease.

“…what we’re finding out is that these people live longer, they have a lower incidence of heart disease, they have a lower incidence of cancer. And this is a very basic diet, one that probably most of us would have followed if we had lived 300 years ago,” Chauncey Crandall, M.D., head of preventive medicine and cardiology services at the Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic, told the source.

Choosing a Mediterranean diet may therefore be an easy way for individuals to avoid a number of health risks.

Balancing exercise with making a good dinner

A recent study from Ohio State University showed that Americans are not likely to both make dinner and engage in daily physical exercise. According to the study’s lead author, Rachel Tumin, an OSU student, preparing food for 10 minutes daily caused a lower probability of exercising for those 10 minutes.

The study looked at both men and women, single and married, with or without children.

“As the amount of time men and women spend on food preparation increases, the likelihood that those same people will exercise more decreases. The data suggest that one behavior substitutes for the other,” Tumin said.

The 112,000 adults participating in the survey reported their activities from the previous day. Overall, the survey showed that the average individual, regardless of sex, spent less than an hour both preparing food and exercising everyday.

In the results, 12 percent of women had engaged in some form of cardiovascular activity and 16 percent of men did. Women spent about nine minutes a day doing this activity while men did so for approximately 19 minutes a day. On average, women spent 44 minutes preparing food during the day while men spent 17 minutes doing so.

By looking at statistical models, Tumin and her colleagues saw that a substitution occurred within the participants. Given only a certain amount of time say, after their work-day, Americans have to choose to spend it exercising or preparing dinner.

“If we assume, for example, that adults have 45 minutes of free time to allocate to health-promoting behaviors, maybe we need to look at that holistically and determine the optimal way to use that time,” Tumin said.

The study found that these activities are time-consuming. Therefore, instead of doing both, individuals often can only do one. In theory, exercise and food preparation could go hand-in-hand. For example, an individual might go on a run for 20 minutes and prepare a healthy dinner afterward. The survey showed that for many, there may not be enough time in the day for this.

Finding a balance
Preparing good food and having a healthy diet are important. King 5 News noted that in response to these findings, doctors might remember that a patient only has a certain amount of time every day. These medical specialists may therefore provide tips on squeezing in daily diet and exercise.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 47 percent of adults met the CDC’s Physical Activity Guidelines in 2010. If people can find time to do this exercise and eat well by preparing good dinners, they may benefit health-wise.

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Walking has increased benefits

A recent study shows that walking may have the same or greater benefit as running in terms of reducing an individual’s risk of heart problems and diabetes, according to a report from the American Heart Association.

There are advantages to walking
The report explains a study led by Paul Williams, Ph.D., which looked at participants in two groups: Individuals from the National Runners’ Health Study and people from the National Walkers’ Health Study. The energy used by walkers was equal to that of runners, and both groups similarly reduced their risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and coronary heart disease through the exercise.

The specific results also showed that walking may have been more beneficial than running. The individuals reported their energy expenditure through walking or running and researchers compared this to their medical records.

While running reduced the risk of hypertension by 4.2 percent in individuals, walking did so by 7.2 percent. In terms of reducing high cholesterol and coronary heart disease, walking had almost double the effectiveness in patients than running. The reduced risk of diabetes was about the same between the two groups.

“Walking and running provide an ideal test of the health benefits of moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running because they involve the same muscle groups and the same activities performed at different intensities,” said Williams, quoted by the AHA.

Running may be more efficient
As they both reduce the risk of heart problems, individuals can choose between walking and running in their daily routines.

A report published by MedPage Today explains the intensity differences between walking and running. Walking is grouped in the “moderate intensity” category while running falls in the “vigorous” group.

Those individuals who run, according to Williams, can expel double the energy that walkers do in an hour. When a runner and a walker cover the same distance, they use equal amounts of energy. However, the time it takes for the runners to do so is vastly less than that of the walkers. This makes running more efficient.

Nonetheless, for many, walking may be the option that works, simply because it isn’t so vigorous. “Walking may be a more sustainable activity for some people when compared to running,” said Williams.

Heart health is a major concern in the United States. According to a 2009 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 600,000 Americans die from heart disease yearly. Knowing that activity, whether walking or running, amounts to better cardiovascular health may get more people to put their sneakers on and get moving.

Linking weight loss to sleep

Diet and exercise may help those looking to manage their weight and promote cardiovascular health, but adequate sleep could be just as crucial.

Many may know that ravenous feeling that can happen during the day following a sleepless night. These cravings emerge because an individual’s internal clock is linked to their metabolism, according to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Therefore, getting a full and undisturbed sleep may be significant in avoiding weight gain.

Mice show the danger of disturbed sleep
Researchers from the FASEB studied mice to procure their results. Keeping the mice in an area with constant light exposure made the rodents’ sleep cycles irregular. They continued disrupting the mice until their internal clocks became worn down, similarly to when specimens get older.

This disruption carried over to the metabolic function of the mice. The rodents lost energy metabolism and insulin sensitivity.

Essentially, when light disturbed their sleep clocks, the mice’s daily metabolic rhythm went off kilter.

By having undisturbed rest, this rhythm may go on without disturbance.

“The good news is that some of us can ‘sleep it off’ to avoid obesity and diabetes. The bad news is that we can all get the metabolic doldrums when our normal day/night cycle is disrupted.” Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, said in the release.

Though sleep helps keep these metabolic rhythms in tact, it should not be completely relied on to manage weight.

Sleep is just a part of the package
As the FASEB suggests, sleep may help to prevent obesity. Other sources have concluded the same: A 2012 release by the Canadian Medical Association Journal claims that sleep deficiency actually stimulates the body to want food.

That being said, diet and exercise may also be necessary for those looking to to lose weight.

“Sleep should be included as part of the lifestyle package that traditionally has focused on diet and physical activity,” Jean-Phillippe Chaput, Ph.D., of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, said in the release.

With people’s lives as busy as they are, it may be hard to get a full sleep each night. According to a 2011 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35.3 percent of an adult study group reported that they got seven hours of sleep or less within a 24-hour period.

Though getting enough sleep so that one’s internal clock remains undisturbed may be difficult, for those concerned about their weight, doing so could be integral.

Vitamin D is a source of strength

Some people may overlook the power of vitamin D, especially in the context of physical strength and endurance.

This oversight could lead to cases of deficiency. According to a 2011 brief by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2001 and 2006, about 8 percent of the American population was in danger of having a vitamin D deficiency.

Recent studies suggest that for those, including athletes, who want to maintain both muscle and bone strength, vitamin D may be essential.

New research for vitamin D
The consequences of a lack of vitamin D show its potential power as a supplement. For example, a study recently found that those with a vitamin D deficiency may experience physical fatigue.

Researchers from Newcastle University studied individuals with vitamin D deficiencies after they performed leg exercises, analyzing their phosphocoreatine recovery. Phosphocoreatine is an energy source in muscles: The scientists wanted to discover how quickly it is replenished following muscle use.

After studying the patients in their deficient state, researchers treated them with vitamin D supplements. Once they took the vitamin dose, patients had significantly better phosphocoreatine recovery. Additionally, patients felt less fatigued after the supplementation.

“Patients with vitamin D deficiency often experience symptoms of muscle fatigue. Our findings in a small group of patients with very low vitamin D levels show that muscle efficiency significantly improves when vitamin D status is improved,” Akash Sinha, M.D., leader of the study, said, reported by the news source.

Those looking for increased muscle strength might take heed of these findings and implement vitamin D to stay in shape.

Vitamin D is essential in athletics
A recent Miami Herald article cited the importance of vitamin D on the sports scene.

Following the Florida Panthers, the news source explains that many players with muscle or bone injury did not have a full recovery, or else experienced reinjury. The team doctors overseeing these injuries believe the underlying problem for these athletes may be vitamin D deficiency.

“Five years ago if you went to a sports medicine meeting you wouldn’t hear anything about vitamin D. But recently there’s been a lot of attention on how it relates to muscle and bone health and healing,” said Gautam Yagnik, M.D. one of the doctors for the Panthers, as reported by the Herald.

By upping the use of vitamin D, as emphasized by recent studies, the athletic world may see fewer injuries and better recoveries.

How food affects hair and nails

Everything you put into your body can have an impact on your appearance – and your skin and hair are no exception. There are a variety of foods and even supplements that can improve the vibrancy of skin and hair, and a couple of sources have already elaborated on the subject.

The Huffington Post recently indicated that some foods may not be the best choices for people who want to keep skin and hair in tip top shape, while other foods could enhance the condition of hair and nails. At the start of the Post’s article, dermatologist Jessica Wu. M.D. told the news provider that hair and skin may be more significant indicators of good health than many people realize.

“Both are a barometer of how well (or how poorly) you’re feeding the body, as well as your overall health.” she said, according to the news provider.

In light of her advice, here are a few lesser-known tips for keeping up hair and nail health.

Make sure you’re getting enough minerals
Pointing to a report from Reader’s Digest, Huffington Post says zinc is often lacking in the diets of individuals who are finding white flakes under their nails. While some people assume these flakes are calcium deposits, the source states that this is not so. In fact, these white flakes may be the result of not getting enough iron and zinc, both of which are frequently found in certain types of fish.  Wu also told the source that protein may be essential to the growth of healthy hair and nails, as the two sometimes fashionable parts of the body are comprised mostly of protein.

Ditto for omega-3s
While the Huffington Post advises against consuming too much fish with a high-mercury content, ​the website Healthy Food makes the opposite case for many other types of fish. The healthy fatty acid in fish oil – especially as it appears in salmon, sardines and tuna may have positive effects for a person’s “dermatitis” and “psoriasis,” which are scientific terms for hair and nails.

Vitamin C and vitamin A
The Huffington Post also points out that too much vitamin A could actually harm hair. However, Healthy Food points out that a small amount of vitamin A could help keep hair, skin and nails shiny. In addition, vitamin C adds to the creation of skin-supporting collagen, and also been said to have antioxidant effects.

Some diet additions that may help prevent inflammation

A new study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham shows that certain foods may be able to help lessen inflammation – a natural bodily defense mechanism for injuries, which could lead to illnesses if it becomes excessive.

Furthermore, Andrew Weil, M.D., points out that inflammation – which could lead to conditions pertaining to heart health, as well as cancer and and problems affecting brain health such as Alzheimer’s – can be characterized by a body part or joint getting warmer and swelling, even to the point of being painful.

A statement from the researchers notes that poor weight management – specifically, obesity and being overweight – increases the amount of inflammation in the body, and could also damage cardiovascular health.

“The inflammation process has one goal: to respond immediately to detect and destroy the toxic material in damaged tissues before it can spread throughout the body,” said the Employee Wellness director and adjunct professor of personal health at the university and lead study author, Lauren Whitt, Ph.D. “The trouble with inflammation occurs when the defense system gets out-of-control and begins to destroy healthy tissue, causing more damage than the original issue.”

Foods that may reduce inflammation
When it comes to specific foods that may help with inflammation, Whitt advises readers to try eating more citrus fruits that contain vitamin C and E for their antioxidant content. Tomatoes may be useful in the same way. In addition, she recommends consuming wild salmon, a great source of omega-3 fatty acid, which has been indicated as a major preventive substance against inflammation.

Whitt notes that consuming more of these types of foods on a daily basis shouldn’t be difficult, and decreasing inflammation could stop a person from having to purchase inflammation-lowering medications down the line. So even if foods that could prevent inflammation seem a little more expensive now, they might save money in the long run.

Weil’s advice is similar to Whitt’s, but he has a few more bits of advice to add to the variety. A large variety of foods may help reduce inflammation, and processed foods – particularly those from certain fast food establishments – are certainly not thought to help inflammation symptoms.

The expert also recommends drinking plenty of water or diluted fruit juice or sparkling water can have similar anti-inflammatory effects. He also recommends taking a daily fish oil supplement if regular fish isn’t available, and he also encourages ginger and turmeric if those aren’t already a regular part of the daily diet.

Some supplements to consider for digestive health

You can never underestimate the importance of staying “regular” as the old expression goes. If you’re coping with chronic bouts of constipation, diarrhea or even more serious digestive problems, you may want to change your diet.

Health magazine and other sources have put together comprehensive lists of the worst foods for digestion. Some of them aren’t too surprising, as they’re also said to be detrimental to cardiovascular health. These include foods that are high in fat, especially those that are of the deep-fried variety. Jessica Anderson, R.D., from the Texas A&M Health Science Center Coastal Bend Health Education Center noted that foods containing an excess of the wrong kind of fat can contribute to heart burn and acid reflux. Spicy foods – specifically chili peppers – and alcohol can both have a similar effect when it comes to heartburn. The magazine also links caffeine to some stomach problems – including cramping and diarrhea.

Some research – particularly an almost decade-long Swedish study cited by Women’s Health magazine – showed that chocolate may have benefits for heart health, Health magazine points to a different 2005 study, which indicates that chocolate my not be the best thing for people with irritable bowel syndrome on ongoing constipation. Although, the source also points out that this may be related to the diary content of chocolate, which could be problematic for those who are lactose intolerant.

On the other hand, there are also foods that could improve digestive health. LifeScript encourages people who are having some tummy troubles to eat more yogurt for its probiotic content. The bacteria in yogurt, which the source describes as “good bugs” help the bacteria that’s already in your stomach move digestion along. However, the site suggests avoiding yogurt that’s high in sugar, and sticking to yogurt that contains “active” or “live” bacteria cultures. Whole grains, fruits and vegetable are also pointed out by multiple sources as beneficial for digestion.

But as far as supplements go, here are a few that appear on more than one experts’ list as the best for digestion.

Fiber has been known for its ability to keep materials moving through the digestive track, and is said to help keep the bad kind of bacteria and other potentially harmful substances from staying in your system for too long according to the Digestive Food Guide. Meanwhile, The Mayo Clinic describes fiber as “essential” for keep digestive systems in tip-top shape. Not only can fiber go a long way toward preventing constipation, it also has been known to aid with weight management and reduces the odds of developing diabetes.

Vitamin B
An unabashedly well-rounded nutrient, different varieties of vitamin B are cited by Everyday Health as having some particular benefits for the digestive system. While B1, B2 and B6 are noted for their ability to help digestion, B3 may be the most significant for deconstructing food, according to the source. B3 – also called niacin – is pointed out as having abilities to help process alcohol, carbohydrates and fats.

Vitamin D and vitamin C
Everyday Health also explains that, while vitamin C and vitamin D may not have direct benefits to digestive health, they could help improve many indirectly related factors – such as dental health. After all, being able to thoroughly chew your food only makes it easier to digest, and strong teeth may be linked to consuming plenty of vitamin C and vitamin D. In addition, vitamin C makes it easier to absorb iron, while getting the recommend amount of vitamin D – which one billion people on earth don’t do, according to the source –  can reduce the odds of developing colon cancer.