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BAD RAP?

We’re eating more tree nuts than ever…and they may have FEWER calories than we thought.

 

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BACKSTORY

  • BACKGROUND: The USDA and most food manufacturers rely on a century-old formula (1 gram of protein = 4 calories; 1 gram of fat = 9 calories) to calculate a given food’s calorie content.
  • RECENT: That formula might not apply when it comes to certain tree nuts because they aren’t broken down (digested) like other foods, and therefore our bodies don’t absorb as much energy (calories).
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About The Studies

  • 2011: USDA researchers began studying how almonds, walnuts, & pistachios are digested in human “waste.”
  • Using those samples, researchers calculated how much fat, protein, carbohydrates, & calories were absorbed by the participant.
  • Results: Nuts had fewer *digestible* calories vs. calorie counts on labels: almonds (-32%), walnuts (-21%) & pistachios (-5%).
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WHY?

“If they’re not digested, then maybe the calorie content is not correct.”

Dr. David Baer, one of the USDA researchers involved in the studies.
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Also Worth Noting

  • Researchers found the more the nut is cooked (or processed), the more calories digested. Example: Almond butter has more calories than roasted almonds, but roasted almonds have more calories than raw almonds.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service unit conducted the studies. Nut producers and organizations contributed funding.
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BIG PICTURE

“We can create synthetic DNA and clone animals but we still know incredibly little about the stuff that keeps us alive.”

Prof. Tim Spector, Kings College in London, on nutrition science: "No other field of science or medicine sees such a lack of rigorous studies." Food manufacturers create their own nutrition labels. Research has raised questions about accuracy of labels & whether counts can be "one-size-fits-all."
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Kind Bars recently announced it's cutting the calorie counts of its nut bars by 10-30 calories per bar because of the new research. Are chocolate-covered nuts next? DON'T COUNT ON IT! Mars, which owns a share of Kind, isn't planning on lowering its calorie counts for M&M’s with almonds.

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MASKS: ON OR OFF?

How To Stay Healthy

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BACKGROUND

  • “Coronavirus” ~ a family of viruses causing a range of illnesses from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
  • *New* coronavirus detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
  • Spread to at least 24 countries.
  • World Health Organization declared a global health emergency.
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Coronavirus: China

  • Reported cases has multiplied rapidly.
  • Number of deaths in China has already exceeded suspected deaths during the SARS outbreak.
  • Passengers arriving in the U.S who traveled to China within the last two weeks are diverted to 11 airports where they are screened, and if necessary quarantined.
  • The State Dept. and Centers for Disease Control advise against travel to China.
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Coronavirus In U.S.

  • Declared a public health emergency.
  • Twelve people infected (most, if not all are travel-related & their spouses) in six states (AZ, CA, IL, MA, WA, & WI).
  • More than 300 suspicious cases tested negative; 60+ cases still pending (representing people in 37 states).
  • CDC: “…it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.”
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DO YOU NEED A MASK?

“There really is no need to wear a mask right now…Exactly what you do to protect against influenza, applies to protecting against coronavirus – and that does not include wearing a mask.”

Nat'l Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases Dir. Dr. Anthony Fauci
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Something To Consider:

  • Majority of respiratory illnesses spread either through tiny airborne germs or droplets.
  • Airborne germs can easily spread simply by being in close proximity with someone who is ill, like the measles.
  • Right now, the CDC believes the new coronavirus is spread via droplet; touching infected surfaces, or having someone sneeze/cough near you from 3-6 ft may spread the disease.

 

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Practical Advice

“Wash your hands really well. Use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door. Use your elbow to touch an elevator button and try not to touch high-traffic surfaces…All those things that help protect us from the flu, will also help protect us from the coronavirus.”

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD MBA, author of "Mom Hacks."
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For context: the CDC estimates 10,000 people have died from the flu since October, and 180,000 were hospitalized (comparable to past years). The CDC just announced coronavirus diagnostic test kits are now available to doctors & will provide results in 4 hrs.

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The “New” Pneumonia?

A first-of-its-kind case of a deadly virus in America.

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“It’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people.”

CDC announcing the first case of a new coronavirus infection in a man who traveled back to Washington state last week from China. The virus first surfaced in an animal market in Wuhan, a central Chinese city, in December. The "Wuhan coronavirus" is blamed for at least 6 deaths in China and hundreds sick across Asia.
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“Coronavirus”

  • Virus causing respiratory illness.
  • Coronavirus = an umbrella virus family causing a range of illnesses from common cold symptoms to SARs.
  • “Wuhan” coronavirus symptoms: fever, cough, difficulty breathing, can lead to pneumonia.
  • Victims with this new strain show varying degree of illness; the CDC calls the man hospitalized in Washington state “very healthy.”
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“The enemies are in the dark, and we don’t know them.”

Linfa Wang, virologist at Duke-National University of Singapore, speaking about the unknowns of this illness - specifically how it's spread, making it difficult to strategize about containment. There's heightened concern about the Lunar New Year this weekend, when many people across Asia will travel.
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The CDC is now screening for the illness in some major U.S. international airports: San Francisco (SFO), Los Angeles (LAX), NY (JFK) and now additionally Atlanta (ATL) and Chicago (ORD). The last time such efforts were made? 2014 over concerns for Ebola.

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Why the CDC calls this flu season “unusual” as cases spread nationwide.

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The Basics

Flu activity: increasing & “elevated.”

  • Est. of *at least* 2.6M flu illnesses, 1,300 deaths, incl. 10 pediatric deaths.
  • Nearly half of all U.S. states have flu activity.
  • States with highest activity: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, & Washington.
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A Unique Season

“Activity is being caused mostly by influenza B/Victoria viruses, which is unusual for this time of year.” CDC

  • 2 dominate flu strains: Influenza A & B.
  • Both can impact any age but influenza B tends to be more common in little children & young adults.
  • Influenza B usually peaks late in the year but this year America has more B cases reported than A. No one knows why.
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Context

  • Flu activity is higher and more widespread NOW than it was last year at the same time.
  • However, hospitalization rates remain about the same compared to other recent seasons.
  • One theory why? More Americans have Influenza B strain, which more often impacts the young. Young adults tend to avoid hospitalizations more than the elderly.

 

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“When my kids come home from school I have them take off all of their clothes and wash their hands to their elbows and wash their faces.”

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, ER room physician and author of “Mom Hacks” with one way she tries to keep her two children healthy during flu season. She says often the flu vaccine will be more effective against Influenza B strains, because other strains tend to mutate rapidly, making effective immunizations especially challenging.
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According to CDC forecasting it is more likely the flu will peak in late December instead of January or February. Is this year's vaccine a good "fit" for this year's flu? We'll know in coming weeks. Doctors say early indications point to "yes" but we won't know for sure until AFTER flu season.

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“State of Emergency”

An island paradise, an American territory, thousands of miles from “the mainland” in midst of a major measles outbreak.

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What To Know

Samoa: Independent island nation in the South Pacific with population of approx. 200,000. A measles outbreak since mid-October has killed more than 70 (mostly children), infected nearly 4,900.

American Samoa: Neighboring island, a U.S. territory about the size of Washington D.C. with population of around 50,000. Officials recently declared a measles outbreak.

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“You have scores of people dying, and the society is paralyzed,”

Dr. Paulus Tsai, a Hawaiian-based surgeon who traveled to Samoa as part of a group of health professionals to help administer a mass vaccination. Experienced doctors say they have never seen anything like this - with hospitals overcapacity.
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What Happened

  • Low inoculation rates led to a vulnerable population.
  • Last year two nurses caused the deaths of two infants by mixing the measles vaccine incorrectly. Vaccination rates, already trending lower, dropped further over safety concerns.
  • Most victims who have died: Children under 5-years-old. Those who survive suffer from pneumonia and other complications.
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What’s Next

  • As victim numbers continue to rise, schools, public gatherings, government agencies have been shutdown.
  • Medical teams have responded from all over the world.
  • CDC sent personnel, vaccines to region. Reminder: An outbreak is defined by CDC as 3 or more cases. 10 “mainland” U.S. states have reported measles outbreaks this year.
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Why It Matters: America has the highest number of measles cases in more than 25 years - with most cases concentrated in New York State. No deaths have been reported. Samoa/American Samoa serves as an interesting test cases for what can happen to isolated communities with low vaccination rates.

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Will Red Or White Meat Make You “Blue”?

 

New study shows white meat is no healthier than red meat when it comes to your cholesterol.

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About The Study:

  • Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
  • 113 participants split into two groups: diets high or low in saturated fats & spent a month eating red (lean beef or pork), white (chicken or turkey) and nonmeat (plant-based) proteins with regular diet periods in btwn.
  • Periodic blood tests measured cholesterol levels.
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“When we planned this study, we expected red meat to have a more adverse effect on blood cholesterol levels than white meat, but we were surprised that this was not the case – their effects on cholesterol are identical when saturated fat levels are equivalent.”

Dr. Ronald Krauss, study author, director of atherosclerosis research at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, and professor at the University of California at San Francisco.
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The Takeaways:

  • Of the three diets examined in the study, only the plant-based diet was associated with healthy blood cholesterol levels.
  • Eating red or white meat impacted LDL (bad) cholesterol the same, even when all groups ate equal levels of saturated fat.
  • Fish, processed meats, & grass-fed beef not included in study.
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This small study challenges gov't dietary guidelines promoting white meat as a healthier option to red meat. Red meat consumption has declined in recent years in connection with health concerns.

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Can Man’s Best Friend…
Save Us From Cancer?

 

 

 

Hundreds of dogs are testing a cancer vaccine in the largest clinical trial of its kind.

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What’s Happening:

  • Prof. Stephen Johnston, Arizona State Univ. Center for Innovations in Medicine, has worked on a cancer vaccine for over a decade.
  • Human trials = very expensive & difficult to get approved.
  • Johnson partnered w/a veterinarian (Colorado State Univ).
  • 800+ dogs are testing a vaccine that aims to prevent or delay a variety of cancers.
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“Cancer is actually the leading cause of death in adult dogs. They develop these tumors spontaneously as a result of old age in a way that’s very, very similar to the way humans do.”

Veterinarian & cancer survivor, Dr. Doug Thamm, Colorado State University's Flint Animal Cancer Center. Dogs get cancer at nearly the same rate as humans. If this vaccine lowers cancer rates or delays the onset in dogs, it could be a promising sign in the quest to vaccinate against cancer in humans.
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Other cancer drugs have been tested successfully on dogs before humans. However, a vaccine is different than a typical drug - it works to help the human immune system identify a potential danger and fight it. Cancer is notoriously tricky to identify.

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The average American drinks more than 1 cup each day, according to the most USDA recent information. A venti ice coffee from Starbucks is 24 ounces -- that's three cups.

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TIPPING THE SCALE?

New study shows most parents underestimate how much their child weighs (and so do their doctors).

Why This Matters

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THE NEW STUDY

  • Researchers looked at data focusing on nearly 25,000 children between 0-19 years old.
  • RESULTS: 55% of parents underestimated how overweight their child was; more than 1/3 of children did the same.
  • Physicians *appeared* to have a “tendency” to also underestimate, according to researchers.
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“Identifying weight problems in childhood & adolescence is a unique window of opportunity to have a lifetime impact on health.”

Lead researcher Abrar Alshahrani, University of Nottingham, UK who says parents used words like "big boned" or "solid" to describe their children to avoid using a term like "overweight" or "obese."A Researchers say not having frank conversations about weight could lead to a lack of treatment.
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Why It Matters:

  • Overweight or obese children have increased worldwide.
  • Nearly 1 out of 5 children in the U.S. are obese. Obesity readings differ by age groups, but a higher percentage of children qualify as obese as they get older.
  • Impact of obesity isn’t just physical. New research shows a link between obesity in children to anxiety & depression.
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Does this study sound familiar? It did to us too. Turns out we covered a story about pet owners in America ignoring obesity in their pets! Researchers in both studies don't explain WHY we don't have accurate images.

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THE NEW MARIJUANA?

 

 

 

Why some cities (and states) want to make “magic mushrooms” easier for their citizens to consume.

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Word To Know:

“psilocybin”

  • hallucinogenic ingredient in some mushrooms.
  • federally banned “controlled substance” like peyote & heroin.
  • Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Initiative – would decriminalize the use of “magic mushrooms.”
  • Iowa, California, & Oregon have or will consider similar laws.
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Why?

  • Supporters make similar arguments to those advocating for easier access to marijuana: potential health benefits, and saves police (& therefore, taxpayers) time & money arresting people for non-violent drug offenses.
  • Opponents say there’s too many unknowns, for the well-being of the individual and the community.
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“It’s really unprecedented in medical history to see effects for depression that are caused by a single medication.”

Matthew Johnson, Ph.D, who found a single dose of psilocybin can benefit someone suffering from depression or anxiety for months. However, he also believes medical supervision is necessary, saying "bad trips...can lead to dangerous behavior when out in the wild."
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Even if states or cities vote to decriminalize mushrooms, like marijuana, it remains a federal crime. Denver's initiative, which appears likely to fail, wouldn't technically make "shrooming" legal, but it would make crimes of use and possession a low priority for police.

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FEELING STRESSED?

Scientists discover a 20-minute treatment they say will significantly improve your well-being.

And it’s free.

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“NATURE PILL”

“Nature Pill” = a dose of nature.

  • Univ. of Michigan researchers started with this thought: We know nature can decrease stress levels, but how much nature do you need to make a difference?
  • Study: 36 people took *at least* a 10-min “nature pill” anytime they wanted 3x a week for 8 weeks.
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WAIT A SECOND…

  • How do you measure stress? Saliva samples allowed researchers to check cortisol (“stress hormone”) levels.
  • What determines “nature”? No hard fast rule. Anything that gave participants a “sense of nature.”
  • A Catch! Sitting on a park bench & texting didn’t count! No reading, social media, internet, phone calls or aerobic exercise (walking = ok).
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“Thirty minutes is the ideal time for the greatest stress reduction. But 20 minutes is sufficient. Start with five minutes and see where it takes you.”

Dr. MaryCarol Hunter, lead study author and associate professor at the University of Michigan, who said the study provides the first ever evidence of how nature can improve our stress levels during our regular routine.
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Researchers said they hope this study provides a catalyst for more research on how to prescribe "nature pills" based on age, gender, or even the season.

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“Forced” Vaccinations?

In a rare move, NYC requires vaccinations in one neighborhood plagued by measles, as the nation hits the second-highest number of cases in nearly 20 years.

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Important Context:

  • What is an aoutbreaka? CDC defines it as 3 or more cases.
  • 7 active outbreaks – linked to outside travelers visiting areas with low vaccination rates.
  • As of Monday, there are 465 cases in 19 states.
  • 2019 = the second-highest number of measles cases in America since disease thought eradicated in 2000.
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“There’s no question that vaccines are safe, effective and life-saving.a

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio declaring a public health emergency in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, requiring vaccinations for those who live and/or work in a predominately Orthodox Jewish neighborhood where a measles outbreak started in October and has yet to be contained. Williamsburg has 228 confirmed cases of measles since October; 26 cases over the last week.
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aI donat think itas up to the city to mandate anything. We all have constitutional rights.”

A local Brooklyn mother in the area impacted giving only the name of "Gitty" to the New York Times for fear of retaliation. The NY Civil Liberties Union criticized the city's "forced vaccinations." While public officials are not physically forcing anyone to be vaccinated, those without vaccination records may face penalties/fine. There are no federal laws on vaccinations. States set vaccination requirements.
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Rockland County, NY recently declared a public health emergency outlawing those unvaccinated from visiting public places; A judge temporarily halted the order. Officials worry about further spread of measles as Jewish families gather next week to celebrate Passover.

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