US and European studies show that tobacco smoking increases risk of psoriasis, as does frequent consumption of alcohol. These correlations appear to be stronger in men than in women. Keratinocytes, the skin cells that produce the characteristic scaling of psoriasis, have receptors for nicotine.
Many people who end up in doctors' offices have nutritional deficiencies, including deficiencies in protein, B vitamins, and magnesium that markedly impact their overall health status. These deficiencies are easily reversed, if only physicians would think about them.
Linoleic acid and other polyunsaturated "good" fats can inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori, the bug that contributes to development of peptic ulcers. The research suggests that reducing saturated fat and increasing polyunsaturates may be a good way to control ulcers.
The return to breast-feeding in the US has had an unintended consequence: Rickets. This skeletal disease, which arises from vitamin D deficiency, is on the rise, and Centers for Disease Control experts attribute it to a combination of breast-feeding (breast milk is very low in vitamin D) and melanoma prevention efforts that encourage parents to keep their kids out of the sun.
Parental concerns about their own fat intake should not necessarily define diets for their children. While childhood obesity is clearly a major public health problem, it is important to remember that young children need certain amounts of dietary fat. Forcing children to adhere to adult weight loss regimens is not necessarily the best way to address the childhood obesity problem.
Researchers have figured out a way to get a healthful omega-3 fatty acid into eggs, by feeding chickens with omega-rich marine algae. Gold Circle Farms was the first to market the DHA-rich eggs as an alternative for health conscious but fish-phobic consumers. Four of these eggs give as much DHA as a 3.5-ounce chunk of salmon.
A small but growing number of gastroenterologists are starting to look seriously at botanical medicines, probiotics, nutritional interventions, and Asian therapies like acupuncture for the management of chronic, difficult-to-treat digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, and ulcers. Robert Greenlaw, MD, an Illinois gastroenterologist, shares his clinical experiences.
Despite a growing mountain of research indicating that increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, the FDA backed away from a firm recommendation, citing lack of "significant scientific agreement."
Diabetes is characterized by chronic overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system, and concurrent loss of parasympathetic balance. This results in high heart rates and low heart rate variability, which increases risk of heart attack. Omega-3 fatty acids, from seafood and supplements, appear to reverse these risk factors.
Heart disease and diabetes were virtually unheard-of among Alaskan Eskimos, until the 1970s, when they abandoned their hunting and fishing lifestyle, and their marine diet. They began eating a lot of processed foods and saturated fats, and living in more sedentary ways. Thirty years later, these diseases are rampant. Dr. Sven Ebbeson is working with Eskimo communities to reverse these deadly trends.