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Health News You Can Use | Vol. 25 No. 6 | Sep-Oct 2015

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MARIJUANA, NO FRIEND OF TEENAGERS

A recent study from Pakistan had found that boys who smoked marijuana had lower levels of growth hormones and higher levels of hormones associated with puberty, such as testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH). By the age of 20, non-smoking boys were on average 4 kg heavier, and 4.6 inches taller than their smoking counterparts. Levels of the stress hormone cortisol were also notably higher in marijuana users. Besides the health risks of higher cortisol, an earlier onset of puberty increases the chances of substance addiction, as the critical period of adolescence is entered at a less emotionally mature age. “Smoking marijuana may cause early puberty and stunts growth in boys,” www.alphagalileo.org, May 18, 2015.

TAKE A WALK IN NATURE

Is life in the city getting you down? A growing body of evidence suggests a link between urban lifestyles and a higher incidence of anxiety, depression, and other psychological problems. Volunteers in a recent study who walked through a lush, green area were happier and more attentive than those who had spent the same amount of time walking near heavy traffic. It seems that walking in nature results in less activity in the part of the brain connected to brooding and negative thinking. While more research is needed on this topic, it seems safe to say that if you’re feeling stressed and anxious with life, a walk in a park or elsewhere in nature could do you good. “How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain,” New York Times, well.blogs.nytimes.com, July 22, 2015.

AVOID WIDE SWINGS IN BLOOD PRESSURE

Those who experience wide fluctuations in blood pressure are at higher risk of heart failure and stroke, concludes a recent study. The blood pressures of 2600 people were monitored for several doctor’s visits for up to 28 months. Those who had variations more than 15 mmHg in their systolic blood pressure (the top number) showed a 30 percent higher risk of heart failure and a 46 percent higher risk of stroke. Their overall risk of premature death from any cause increased by 58 percent.

A widely fluctuating blood pressure could be a sign of increasing damage to the arteries. Researchers strongly recommended maintaining a consistent blood pressure with a systolic below 140 and a diastolic below 90. “Big Swings in Blood Pressure Could Spell Trouble,” HealthDay Reporter, consumer.healthday.com, July 15, 2015.

Looking for a way to control blood pressure without the unwanted side effects of medication? A plant-based diet low in salt and fat, coupled with moderate aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, has been demonstrated to be one of the most effective ways to maintain a healthy blood pressure. “Non-Drug Treatments for Hypertension,” The Washington Post, www.washingtonpost.com, July 8, 2013.

THE PLANT ADVANTAGE

Looking for a no-nonsense way to stay healthy and productive throughout your life? What you need is the plant advantage! In the United States, 1 in 3 adults suffer from high blood pressure, placing them at higher risk of heart disease and stroke. A Harvard study found that people who ate an average of 8 servings or more of fruits and vegetables per day had a 30 percent lower risk of a heart attack or stroke, compared to those who ate fewer than 1.5 daily servings.

Plant-based diets can also help you maintain a leaner body composition and can prevent and even reverse type 2 diabetes. People who eat a plant-based diet find they have lower cholesterol levels and more normal blood sugar values. Plant foods contain important vitamins and minerals, which aid in digestion, eyesight, and skin quality, with a host of other benefits—too many, in fact, to list here. Bottom line—the more plants we put into our diets, the better. “7 Reasons to Choose a Plant Based Diet”, U.S. News, health.usnews.com, January 6, 2015.

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