Health Briefs


Santa Fe New Mexican - Healthy Living - - NEWS - BY STEPHANIE NAKHLEH

Is cau­li­flower the new kale?

Like hem­lines, veg­eta­bles are prone to trendi­ness. Un­like hem­lines, veg­eta­bles are al­ways good for you. And while kale is so 2015, cau­li­flower is now hav­ing its shin­ing cru­cif­er­ous mo­ment. What’s be­hind the trend? Mostly the ready adapt­abil­ity of the some­what bland veg­etable as a high-fiber, low­car­bo­hy­drate, nu­tri­ent-dense re­place­ment for starches. Dr. Atkins rec­om­mended mashed cau­li­flower as a sub­sti­tute for mashed pota­toes way back in 1998, but it wasn’t un­til some ge­nius came up with the idea of riced cau­li­flower that the cau­lias-starch swap re­ally took off. Cau­li­flower “rice” in par­tic­u­lar is now seen in vir­tu­ally ev­ery gro­cery store; peo­ple also make their own by sim­ply run­ning raw cau­li­flower flo­rets through a food pro­ces­sor. Not only can cau­li­flower rice re­place rice in cur­ries and soups, it can also be used in tacos, pizza crusts, cous­cous and tab­bouleh. For those who like their cau­li­flower un­riced, the in­ter­net is full of recipes for turn­ing reg­u­lar cau­li­flower flo­rets into hearty low-starch meals. Named as a “pow­er­house veg­etable” by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, cau­li­flower has earned its place in the spot­light — and on the ta­ble.

Chang­ing peanut but­ter guide­lines for chil­dren

For decades, par­ents have been ad­vised to in­tro­duce peanuts to their chil­dren as late as pos­si­ble. Af­ter ev­i­dence showed that this ad­vice may have in­ad­ver­tently caused an uptick in peanut al­ler­gies, the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health did an about­face and be­gan rec­om­mend­ing that par­ents ac­tively in­tro­duce peanut-con­tain­ing foods to in­fants. “In 2015, pub­li­ca­tion of the land­mark LEAP [Learn­ing Early About Peanut Al­lergy] study shifted a decades-old par­a­digm that peanuts should be with­held from young chil­dren at high risk for peanut al­lergy,” said al­ler­gist Dr. James Suss­man, who prac­tices in Santa Fe and Los Alamos. The par­a­digm shift be­gan, Suss­man said, when a Lon­don physi­cian noted the very high rate of peanut al­lergy in Jewish chil­dren there, “while in a ge­net­i­cally sim­i­lar group of Is­raeli chil­dren, this was vir­tu­ally un­heard of. In Is­rael it is com­mon to give in­fants a peanut-based snack food, while in Eng­land young chil­dren did not eat peanuts.” This ob­ser­va­tion led to sev­eral stud­ies con­firm­ing that early ex­po­sure to peanut but­ter ac­tu­ally re­duces risk of peanut al­lergy in chil­dren. “The Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Pe­di­atrics guide­lines now rec­om­mend in­tro­duc­ing peanut but­ter as early as four months for at-risk in­fants and when in­tro­duc­ing solid foods to those not at risk,” Suss­man said. “If there is any ques­tion of peanut al­lergy, it is crit­i­cal that the child have an eval­u­a­tion by a board­cer­ti­fied al­ler­gist prior to the first peanut-but­ter in­ges­tion. Whole nuts should never be given be­fore age four due to chok­ing haz­ard.” See the NIH guide­lines at ni­aid. for more in­for­ma­tion.

The myth of break­fast

In more “ev­ery­thing you know is wrong” news, break­fast is no longer con­sid­ered the most im­por­tant meal of the day. A 2014 study pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal Nu­tri­tion showed that whether sub­jects were or­dered to eat break­fast, to skip it or to con­tinue with their pre­vi­ous break­fast habits, their weight was un­af­fected. A dif­fer­ent study ob­served other health mea­sures (choles­terol lev­els, rest­ing meta­bolic rates, blood sugar lev­els) and sim­i­larly found no im­pres­sive ef­fects re­lated to whether or not some­one ate break­fast. Break­fast skip­pers can feel vin­di­cated. Those who do like their break­fast may want to stick with protein though — a 2008 study in the In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal of Obe­sity found that di­eters who ate eggs for break­fast lost more weight than di­eters who ate bagels, even when the break­fasts con­tained the same calo­ries.

Pump­ing iron af­ter 60

Sar­cope­nia — the loss of mus­cle mass dur­ing the ag­ing process — is a nat­u­ral part of life, but it’s not in­evitable. Stud­ies have shown that older adults can re­gain lost mus­cle mass, but it will take ex­tra work. “We con­clude that older adults re­quire a higher dose of weekly load­ing than the young to main­tain [mus­cle mass through strength train­ing], yet gains in spe­cific strength among older adults were well pre­served and re­mained at or above lev­els of the un­trained young,” a re­port from the Cen­ter for Ex­er­cise Medicine at the Univer­sity of Alabama at Birm­ing­ham says. Re­gain­ing lost mus­cle strength has ben­e­fits be­yond look­ing good: more mus­cle mass means fewer falls, and falls are one of the main rea­sons se­niors end up hos­pi­tal­ized. To build mus­cle safely, ex­perts rec­om­mend start­ing off slowly and find­ing a good per­sonal trainer.

Are the chem­i­cals in nail pol­ish harm­ful?

Be­ware that pretty pink on your nails — it may con­tain toxic chem­i­cal com­pounds. A 2015 study by re­searchers at Duke Univer­sity and the En­vi­ron­men­tal Work­ing Group found that en­docrine dis­rupters from nail pol­ishes had leached into the bod­ies of the two dozen women stud­ied. En­docrine dis­rupters ad­versely af­fect the neu­ro­log­i­cal, re­pro­duc­tive and im­mune sys­tems; they are also as­so­ci­ated with breast can­cer. Other stud­ies have found a trio of known car­cino­gens in many nail pol­ishes — even ones la­beled “toxin free.” Chil­dren and those who work in nail sa­lons are most likely to be ad­versely af­fected. The safest brands are listed in the En­vi­ron­men­tal Work­ing Group’s data­base at skindeep.

Ex­er­cise and weight

First, let’s get this out there: Ex­er­cise is good for you. It helps pre­vent can­cer, it im­proves blood pres­sure and choles­terol lev­els, it helps sleep, it builds mus­cle, it sta­bi­lizes mood. But it does not appear to do the main thing we as­so­ciate with it: con­trol weight. Ac­cord­ing to the Jan­uary 2017 Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can, stud­ies clearly demon­strate that all hu­mans, whether gym rats or couch pota­toes, burn about the same amount of en­ergy. Why? Be­cause basal meta­bolic rate, some­thing we have al­most no con­trol over, ac­counts for the big­gest por­tion of our en­ergy ex­pen­di­ture. Our brains use a good deal of our en­ergy; the hu­man brain is so huge that even when we’re in­do­lent, we’re burn­ing hun­dreds of calo­ries just to keep the nog­gin go­ing. Ac­tual ex­er­cise, the sci­en­tists found, ac­counts for only a mi­nor per­cent­age of our en­ergy ex­pen­di­ture. Fur­ther­more, stud­ies have found that af­ter ex­er­cise, peo­ple tend to move a bit less and eat a bit more, un­con­sciously keep­ing the en­ergy in­put-out­put bal­anced. “You still have to ex­er­cise,” the re­port cau­tions. “This ar­ti­cle is not a note from your mom ex­cus­ing you from gym class.” The ben­e­fits of ex­er­cise are over­whelm­ing. Just make sure to rely on diet, not ex­er­cise, for weight con­trol.

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