Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 18, 2017
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Nutritional news bites

Headaches and migraines

A study in Norway suggests that people with occasional headaches were more likely to consume high amounts of caffeine, while sufferers of chronic headaches consumed low amounts. Researchers couldn’t identify a reason and, as with other studies on headaches, migraines and food, results were inconclusive.

It has been thought that tyramine in red wine and aged cheeses and phenylethylamine in chocolate play a role in dilating and constricting the blood in the head and neck. However, when migraine sufferers were challenged in trials, the offending foods didn’t cause headaches.

One exception: aspartame, which did cause headaches, but at a dose equal to 12 diet soft drinks a day. Other research suggests that supplements of riboflavin, coenzyme Q10 and magnesium are linked to a decrease in headaches and migraines.

Diabetes

When rats were given the supplement carnitine, their cells burned fuel more efficiently and their blood-sugar levels returned to normal. Researchers also tested carnitine on human muscle cells with the same results. Researchers think that age and weight may contribute to lower levels of free carnitine, which can lead to a reduction in the cells’ ability to burn glucose and fat. They hope to start a clinical trial on seniors suffering from glucose intolerance.

Heart disease

A study at the University of Texas Health Science Center shows that some Chinese herbal medicines used for centuries to treat heart disease produce nitric oxide which relaxes blood vessels.

Another study suggests that low levels of vitamin D increase the risk of heart disease in diabetics. Women with type-2 diabetes have about a 30-percent higher chance of having low levels of vitamin D than non-diabetic counterparts, which puts them at risk of developing CVD.

A nutritional index

Efforts are underway to help North Americans make healthier choices. Listen for more about nutrition profiling. One such proposed classification system, the Nutrient Rich Foods Index (NRF Index) is being validated by scientists at the University of Washington.

In other calorie-related news, a new study that looked at what healthy-weight individuals eat showed that a diet containing between 47 to 64 percent of calories from carbohydrates was associated with the lowest risk for weight gain. This is similar to studies from the National Weight Control Registry, which suggests that people who maintain the weight that they lost are usually consuming approximately 50 percent of their calories from carbohydrates.

Another new study, by researchers at Harvard University, has shown that mice on a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet had a significant increase in atherosclerosis while showing no change in cholesterol levels. Maybe this will put a nail in the coffin of the low-carb craze?!

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