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Health News You Can Use | Vol. 24 No. 2 | Jan-Feb 2014

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ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS BAD FOR DIABETES

Diabetics must avoid sugar, but many may think it’s safe to sweeten their coffee or tea with Sucralose (Splenda). However, studies are showing that this artificial sweetener can cause an insulin and glucose response. In a study, 17 obese people, who were not diabetic and did not regularly consume artificial sweeteners, were each given either water or sucralose, and then received a glucose test. Those who consumed the sucralose saw higher blood sugar levels and a 20% higher insulin level. If this response occurs enough times it can lead to type 2 diabetes. Environmental Nutrition, September 2013.

CAR VENTILATION SETTINGS CAN REDUCE POLLUTION EXPOSURE

You may want to think about what car ventilation settings you use, especially if you live in a big city. When a wide range of car types under various operating conditions were studied, it was found that putting the ventilation settings to “recirculate” reduced exposure to all types of vehicle-related pollution.

“Otherwise, an hour-long commute to work or school can double your daily exposure to traffic-related particulate air pollutants,” said study author Scott Fruin, assistant professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California.

Researchers found that, when compared to ventilation settings that bring in outside air, the “recirculate” setting reduced in-vehicle small-particle pollution from 80% to 20%, and from 70% to 30% for larger particles.

Windows were completely closed for these studies, and researchers warn that driving with windows down in polluted areas quickly raises pollution exposure. Using newer cars and driving on less-crowded roads (as opposed to highways) also reduces pollution exposure. Pollution levels on highways are 10 times higher than in other locations. Health Day, “Car Ventilation Settings May Reduce Exposure to Pollution,” www.nlm.nih.gov, September 13, 2013.

DIRT BOOSTS YOUR MOOD

Want happier children? Send them outside to play, and don’t worry if they get dirty! Want to boost your own mood? Start digging in the garden! An oncologist experimented with a bacteria found in dirt called mycobacterium vaccae, hoping it would help her patients’ immune systems. It did more than that, it was found to have antidepressant qualities as well, improving the patient’s emotional health and cognitive abilities. Other studies on mice showed the same results.

Mycobacterium vaccae increases serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the body, which directly affect mood.

Neuroscientist Dr. Christopher Lowry says, “[These studies] leave us wondering if we shouldn’t all be spending more time playing in the dirt.” Yahoo Shine, “Mood-boosting Bacteria Found in Dirt,” shine.yahoo.com, January 31, 2012.

HALF OF PEOPLE WITH HYPERTENSION ARE UNAWARE

You may need to check your blood pressure more frequently. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is the leading cause of heart disease today, and far too many people are unaware that they have this risk factor. McMaster University’s Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) and Hamilton Health Sciences examined data on 154,000 adults, ages 35 to 70, from 17 different countries that had no history of heart disease or stroke. The countries varied in economic resources, ranging from poor countries to wealthy, developed countries. The study found that only 46.5% of those with high blood pressure were aware of their condition, and only 32.5% of those aware of their high blood pressure were effective in keeping their blood pressure under control. Researchers say that this indicates a need for early diagnosis, treatment, and education about hypertension. Health Day, “Half of People With High Blood Pressure Don’t Know It,” www.nlm.nih.gov, September 3, 2013.

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