Whole Life Magazine

August/September 2012

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Page 18 of 51

By Elizabeth Barker Secrets of the Strawberry Scientists from the University of Warwick have shed new light on strawberries' disease-fighting power. In laboratory research, the scientists discovered that strawberry extracts can turn on a substance called Nrf2—a protein in your body that boosts antioxidant activity and helps rev up your defense against ev- eryday damage to your cells, organs and blood vessels. Since Nrf2 is also known to drive down levels of cholesterol and harmful blood fats, the study's authors suggest that strawber- ries may help protect against the development of major health problems, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Organic Packs More Antioxidants Going organic may grant you greater protection against health-harming free radicals, a recent study suggests. Focusing on 34 different kinds of an- tioxidants, University of Barcelona researchers found that organic tomatoes delivered higher lev- els of antioxidants than the conventionally grown variety. "Organic farming doesn't use nitrogenous fertilizers," explains study author Anna Vallverdú Queralt. "As a result, plants respond by activat- ing their own defense mechanisms, increasing the levels of all antioxidants." Antioxidants found in tomatoes include lycopene, Rock Body Fewer Zzzzs a compound linked to reduced risk of prostate, ovarian, pancreatic and lung cancers in a number of population studies. Although it's too soon to tell whether opting for organic could strengthen your cancer defense, the study's authors note that the antioxidants found in organic tomatoes could offer an array of health benefits. Skip the Soda, Curb Your Cravings For help in taming your cravings for sugary, salty and fat-laden foods, try staying away from soda. In a new study from the University of Southern California, researchers found that sip- ping a fructose-laced drink increased hunger and desire for un- healthy foods. The study involved 13 women between the ages of 15 and Noting that 50 grams of fructose is equivalent to what's found in a can of soda, the study's authors suggest that cutting back on fructose may help lessen cravings and protect against overeating. 25 in a population at high risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes, all of whom were obese. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, researchers scanned the participants' brains twice during the viewing of pictures of high-calorie foods (such as hamburgers and cakes) and low-calorie foods (such as fruits and vegetables). Halfway through the viewings, study members sipped 50 grams of glucose (in the first experiment) and then 50 grams of fructose (in the second experiment). At the end of each viewing, study members rated their hunger and desire for sweet or savory foods on a scale from one to 10. Analyzing their findings, the study's authors found that fruc- tose seemed to trigger more intense cravings than glucose did. corded stroke risk factors, stroke symptoms, and a range of health behaviors in 5,666 adults. Review- ing those data, the researchers found that normal- weight study members who regularly slept six hours or fewer had a significantly increased incidence of stroke symptoms. Among overweight and obese participants, however, there appeared to be no link between insufficient sleep and stroke risk. "We speculate that short sleep duration is a = Higher Stroke Risk Snoozing for fewer than six hours each night may make you more likely to suffer a stroke, the third leading cause of death in the United States. That's the finding of a recent University of Ala- bama at Birmingham study, which suggests that skimping on sleep could be a top risk factor for stroke among people of a healthy weight. Over the course of three years, researchers re- precursor to other traditional stroke risk factors, and once these traditional stroke risk factors are present, then perhaps they become stronger risk factors than sleep duration alone," notes study au- thor Megan Ruiter, Ph.D. One of the main risk factors for stroke is high blood pressure—in fact, the American Heart As- sociation names blood pressure management as the number-one strategy for lowering stroke risk. While the recent study did not focus on blood pressure, previous research indicates that poor sleep may raise your risk of hypertension. August/September 2012 19 your

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