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Archive for the ‘Health News’ Category

Agave Sweetener May Help With Diabetes and Weight Loss

April 10, 2014

Is a sweetener that actually lowers blood sugar levels too good to be true? The American Chemical Society presented research showing that agavins, a sweetener derived from the agave plant that tequila is made from, doesn’t cause blood sugar levels to rise, which is good news for diabetics.

Agavins actually spike natural insulin production, lower blood sugar and in the study helped obese mice lose weight. This type of sweetener cannot be metabolized and absorbed by the body, which is why they do not elevate blood glucose levels. They also boost a peptide known as GLP-1 which causes the body to produce insulin, thus helping the body to regulate and control blood sugar levels. Agavins are also a type of fiber, which helps people to feel fuller and reduce appetite.

Agavins can be used as a light sweetener since they are classified as a sugar, highly soluble, are low on the glycemic index and have a neutral flavor.


Agavins vs. Other Sugars

Agavins are fructans, a long-chain type of fructose that they body cannot use. Agavins are not similar to agave nectar or syrup which are natural sweeteners used as sugar substitutes. Agave nectar or syrup can be broken into fructose to raise blood sugar and add calories. Agavins do not since they are not metabolized by the body.

Fructans also boost levels of helpful probiotics like lactobacillus and bifidus. Lactobacillus is a bacteria live in the digestive, urinary, and genital systems that help with regulation. Bifidus helps ease digestive problems and helps to reduce the risk of heart disease.

While certain aspects of agavins sound promising as a sweetener that would be helpful for diabetics, since it helps the body produce insulin and lowers overall blood sugar levels, more research is needed. The current study focused on mice, so tests on humans needs to confirm these findings before agavins become a widely accepted sweetener.


Diabetes Screenings

About 26 million Americans are living with diabetes, and more are diagnosed every year. Type 2 diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases, and screenings that detect risk is extremely important. We offer type 2 diabetes screenings  that involve a simple blood test to measure blood glucose levels. To learn more about the screening, disease risk factors and symptoms check out our type 2 diabetes page.


Gene Linked to Heart Attack Risk

April 3, 2014


Researchers from the University of Michigan and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology conducted a study  that used gene scanning processes to detect genes variations that are connected to certain diseases. The approach involved observing how variations influenced the way proteins act, and because of this method they were able to discover a gene that directly relates to heart attack risk.

The study used information from 5,600 Norwegians who had health information stored in a biobank. The focus of the researchers was on variations in genes that cause a change in protein function. The end result was cataloging 80,000 variants. From these variants, they narrowed the results down to 10 which had previously been related to blood lipid levels and cholesterol.

Honing in on a specific DNA strand that is controls blood lipid levels, they discovered gene TM6FS2. A percentage of study participants who carried a variation of the gene had healthier blood lipids and a lower overall risk for heart attack. If the gene is overexpressed or completely silent, heart attack risk increases.


Other Heart Attack Risks

Another recent study  conducted by researchers at Harvard showed that a heart attack risk is higher after an anger outburst for 2 hours after the episode. After an outburst the risk of a heart attack increases 5 times, risk of stroke raises by three times in addition to abnormal heartbeat or ventricular arrhythmia. (The risk per person also depends on how often anger outbursts occur, and their own personal risk factors.)

Other risk factors for heart attack and heart disease include family history, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, diabetes and elevated C-reactive protein levels.


 Reducing Your Risk

The first step to reducing your risk for heart attack and heart disease is to know where you currently stand. We offer five different heart disease screenings to assess specific risk factors. Look up screening events near you, or schedule an appointment online today.

Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle are also recommended to reduce risk factors. Incorporate at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, with some muscle strengthening exercises. Cut out saturated fats and foods that are high in sodium, as they negatively impact health.


Study: Certain Exercises Linked to Lower Women’s Diabetes Risk

February 20, 2014

As if we need another reason to get moving at home or at the gym, a new study shows a correlation between resistance and muscle-strengthening exercises with a lower risk for developing Type 2 diabetes for women.

The study published in the journal PLOS Medicine  followed 99,316 women with ages varying from 36 to 81. At the end of the eight year period for the study, 3,491 women developed Type 2 diabetes. However, women who participated the most in resistance training and lower intensity muscle conditioning had the lowest overall risk of developing diabetes.

Researchers explain that this is caused by an increase in lean body mass from these types of exercises that are associated with lowered diabetes risk, without changing body weight. So, the next time you visit the gym try to incorporate more resistance exercise, yoga, stretching, and toning activities to lower your risk of diabetes.


Type 2 Diabetes Prevention

Diabetes affects approximately 25.8 million people in the United States, with estimates that 79 million are pre-diabetic, making it one the fastest growing disease in the country. And while it may not be completely possible to prevent type 2 diabetes, controlling risk factors reduces your chances for developing the disease. Here are some helpful tips for lowering your risk:

  • Stop smoking
  • Lose weight (if you are overweight or obese)
  • Limit your intake of sugary foods
  • Eat whole grains in place of processed carbs
  • Decrease your intake of red meat
  • Avoid saturated and trans fats
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes per day

These activities will help to increase the effectiveness of insulin in your body. While genetic factors can affect the likelihood of being diagnosed with diabetes, lifestyle and behavioral factors are what largely attribute to the disease.

We offer screening services to check for type 2 diabetes, and screenings are recommended for anyone who has risk factors, is age 45 and over, or an adult with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels and should be taken every three years. If you suspect that you have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, take advantage of the power of prevention and schedule a health screening today.

New Blood Test May Detect Patients at Risk of Heart Attack

February 6, 2014

What if it was possible to know ahead of time if you were going to suffer a heart attack? A new “fluid biopsy” technique has been developed by researchers at Scripps Research Institute in California that can do just that. Using biomarkers in the bloodstream, the test helps to identify patients who are at a high risk for heart attack.

Published in Physical Biology, the procedure has been named High-Definition Circulation Endothelial Cell (HD-CEC) assay and tests patients for levels of endothelial cells in their blood. These cells line artery walls and are pushed into the bloodstream as plaque builds up and ruptures. Eventually these cells and others clump and block up the heart, causing a heart attack. Because endothelial cells are not found in the blood of healthy individuals, researchers believe that detecting them in the blood is an indicator of high heart attack risk.

The study was conducted on 79 patients who had recently suffered a heart attack along with 25 healthy patients. The HD-CAC test required a small blood sample and proved that only the patients who had experienced a heart attack had elevated levels of endothelial cells in their blood stream.

Due to its high success rate, researchers hope that the test will become highly predictive of heart attacks in the future, since in its original testing it correctly identified healthy patients from the heart attack patients 100% of the time.


Early Heart Attack Detection

Tests such as this are extremely helpful when it comes to early detection of heart attack risks. We believe that the power of prevention is essential to a long and healthy life. While we do not currently use this blood test as a part of our heart disease screening, here is a list of what our screening entails:

  • Complete Lipid Panel Screening (High Cholesterol)
  • C-reactive Protein Screening
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening
  • Glucose Screening
  • High Blood Pressure Screening

If you have any warning signs or if you know that you have some of the risk factors associated with an increased risk of heart problems, you may want to consider heart disease screening.  If you are unaware of potential risk factors please read the list here.

Life Line Screening provides preventive health screenings for heart disease to help those at risk detect problems before they lead to life-threatening consequences. Learning where you stand with your heart health is the best way to work towards a healthier life.

Study: Antidepressants May Increase Diabetes Risk

January 13, 2014

See if you can answer this question: what is the leading cause of disability among Americans ages 15 to 44? If you guessed heart disease, diabetes, or even cancer, you guessed wrong.

The correct answer is depression.

Depression affects about 14.8 million American adults over age 18 every year – or 6.7 percent of the population. There is a higher usage of antidepressants (medications prescribed to treat depression) now than ever before. Approximately 11 percent of Americans are taking some form of antidepressant and this number continues to increase.

One new study found, however, that taking antidepressants could increase risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Diabetes screening and glucose screening are recommended for those taking such medication whether it is for a short or long period of time.

The studies indicate that not everyone who takes antidepressants will end up with diabetes. Antidepressants do not share a causal relationship with diabetes. However, there are specific drugs that are linked to increased risk, including Tricyclic Antidepressant (TCA) and Selective Serotorium Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI). Some doctors may feel it necessary to take these two drugs together which tends to increase the chances of developing diabetes.

Because antidepressant can cause weight gain, and weight gain is a major risk factor for diabetes, the link between the two arises. In most cases, a person suffering from depression may need help from their doctor. This typically leads to taking antidepressants on a daily basis to help maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Adults and children who face depression are in most cases taking antidepressants to avoid further health issues. This type of medication helps balance levels of neurotransmitters that are natural chemicals in the brain.

Individuals with depression who do not seek help or take the proper medication may face problems such as continuous health issues, personal and professional problems, and in severe cases, death. About two thirds of those struggling with depression are not getting help for it. The recent conclusion that antidepressants are linked to increased diabetes risk should not prevent individuals from discussing their situation with their doctor and getting help.

If you’re worried about your risk for type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor or consider a diabetes screening.  Life Line Screening is here to help give you the tools you need to be proactive with your health.


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