Health and Fitness

WFP Has Reached 600,000 Haitians With Food Voucher Plan

On Thursday, a food distribution voucher campaign that launched last Sunday, "hit all 16 fixed distribution points around the capital" of Port-au-Prince, CNN reports. "So far, 600, 000 people affected by the devastating January 12 earthquake have been able to collect food under this plan, said Marcus Prior, spokesman for the United Nations World Food Programme [WFP]. 'We're encouraged by the way the system is working to get food out into the city to those in need, but still have a long way to go, ' Prior said" (Basu, 2/5). Even though the distribution of food to earthquake survivors has improved, it has "not stopped badly needed food aid from falling into the hands of black-market sellers, " Reuters reports. "In one Port-au-Prince neighborhood where 12, 000 people live in tents made of bedsheets in a valley below their collapsed hillside slum, vendors at makeshift stands sell cups of rice from food-aid bags for about 22 gourdes (55 cents) each." Prior said, "It is too early to say how much ends up on the black market.

Blueberries Counteract Intestinal Diseases

It is already known that blueberries are rich in antioxidants and vitamins. New research from the Lund University Faculty of Engineering in Sweden shows that blueberry fibre are important and can alleviate and protect against intestinal inflammations, such as ulcerative colitis. The protective effect is even better if the blueberries are eaten together with probiotics. The project originated as an attempt to see whether various types of dietary fibre and health-promoting bacteria, so-called probiotic bacteria such as lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, can help alleviate and prevent the risk of ulcerative colitis and colorectal cancer. "But new knowledge of this field is also of interest to those who don't believe they run the risk of developing any intestinal diseases. In recent years the research world has been realizing that our health is governed to a great extent by what happens in our large intestine, " explain Camilla BrГ nning, a PhD in Applied Nutrition and Asa Hakansson, a doctoral candidate in Food Hygiene at the Division of Applied Nutrition and Food Chemistry.

Measuring Up - Leading Health Groups Recommend WHO Growth Charts To Track Babies' And Children's Growth

Four leading national health professional associations have collectively recommended the adoption of the World Health Organization (WHO) Growth Charts for monitoring the growth of Canadian children in all primary health care and clinical settings. The Collaborative Statement - Promoting Optimal Monitoring of Child Growth in Canada - Using the New World Health Organization [WHO] Growth Charts - is supported by Dietitians of Canada (DC), Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS), The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) and Community Health Nurses of Canada (CHNC). The statement is an update to an earlier version released in 2004 that supported the use of growth charts developed by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Advantages of the WHO charts include: - The WHO Growth Standards for children 0-5 years of age are based on a population of infants and children nurtured under optimal health conditions, including breastfeeding for at least four to six months. These charts show how children should grow rather than how they do grow.

Drinking Beer Could Be Good For Your Bones, Study

A new study suggests that beer is a significant source of dietary silicon, a key ingredient for increasing bone mineral density. Researchers from the Department of Food Science & Technology at the University of California, Davis studied commercial beer production to determine the relationship between beer production methods and the resulting silicon content, concluding that beer is a rich source of dietary silicon. Details of this study are available in the February issue of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the Society of Chemical Industry. "The factors in brewing that influence silicon levels in beer have not been extensively studied" said Charles Bamforth, lead author of the study. "We have examined a wide range of beer styles for their silicon content and have also studied the impact of raw materials and the brewing process on the quantities of silicon that enter wort and beer." Silicon is present in beer in the soluble form of orthosilicic acid (OSA), which yields 50% bioavailability, making beer a major contributor to silicon intake in the Western diet.

Avoiding Food, Drink During Labor Holds 'No Benefit' For Women, Review Says

There is no evidence to support the widespread practice of not allowing women in labor to eat or drink, according to a systematic review published last week by the Cochrane Collaboration, the New York Times reports. For many years, women have been told not to eat or drink, regardless of the length of time they are in labor, to reduce the risk of Mendelson's syndrome. The syndrome can occur if the contents of the woman's stomach are drawn into the lungs while she is under general anesthesia. Mendelson's can be fatal, but the use of general anesthesia during labor and delivery today is rare. Caesarean sections typically are performed using regional anesthesia. Joan Tranmer, associate professor of nursing at Queen's University in Ontario and author of the review, said, "With improved anesthetic techniques, we don't do general anesthesia a lot anymore, " adding that even when anesthesia is necessary, the techniques have improved, making the risk for Mendelson's "very, very low.

Helpful Yeast Battles Food-Contaminating Aflatoxin

Pistachios, almonds and other popular tree nuts might someday be routinely sprayed with a yeast called Pichia anomala. Laboratory and field studies by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant physiologist Sui-Sheng (Sylvia) Hua have shown that the yeast competes successfully for nutrients--and space to grow--that might otherwise be used by an unwanted mold, Aspergillus flavus. A. flavus and some other Aspergillus species can produce troublesome toxins known collectively as aflatoxins. Hua has received a patent for use of the yeast as an eco-friendly way to protect tree nuts, as well as corn, from becoming contaminated with aflatoxins. Standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration help prevent sale of aflatoxin-contaminated food and feed. In tests conducted in a California pistachio orchard, Hua and colleagues found that spraying the trees with the yeast inhibited incidence of A. flavus in pistachios by up to 97 percent, compared to unsprayed trees. The yeast can also be sprayed on the harvested or stored crop instead of on trees before the harvest, according to Hua, based at the ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif.

Fruit And Vegetable Consumption Improved By Online Programs

Online programs that provide information and tips about fruits and vegetables may be the key to getting more Americans to eat healthier, say researchers at Henry Ford Hospital. Researchers found that when given access to an online program about fruits and vegetables, participants increased their daily fruit and vegetable intake by more than two servings. Many of the participants continued using the program after the study concluded, and even reported their family members became involved in the program. "People already know the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, but they often don't know how to incorporate them into their diet, " says study senior author Christine Cole Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., chair of Henry Ford's Department of Biostatistics and Research Epidemiology. "That's why our study worked. Using online programs, we were able to offer study participants practical and easy tips to increase their daily fruit and vegetable intake." Results are published in this month's issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Sweet! - Sugar Plays Key Role In Cell Division

Using an elaborate sleuthing system they developed to probe how cells manage their own division, Johns Hopkins scientists have discovered that common but hard-to-see sugar switches are partly in control. Because these previously unrecognized sugar switches are so abundant and potential targets of manipulation by drugs, the discovery of their role has implications for new treatments for a number of diseases, including cancer, the scientists say. In the January 12 edition of Science Signaling, the team reported that it focused efforts on the apparatus that enables a human cell to split into two, a complicated biochemical machine involving hundreds of proteins. Conventional wisdom was that the job of turning these proteins on and off - thus determining if, how and when a cell divides - fell to phosphates, chemical compounds containing the element phosphorus, which fasten to and unfasten from proteins in a process called phosphorylation. Instead, the Johns Hopkins scientists say, there is another layer of regulation by a process of sugar-based protein modification called O-GlcNAcylation (pronounced O-glick-NAC-alation).

What Determines Breastfeeding Rates In The UK?

Ethnicity and number of previous births are factors that can predict the length of time a woman will breastfeed her child. A new study published in the open access journal BMC Pediatrics has examined the effects of maternal factors and hospital infant-feeding practices on breastfeeding. This is particularly important since the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates worldwide. The UK Government recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life based on World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Yet, in 2000, the UK ranked the second lowest among 32 countries in a WHO report, with a breastfeeding rate at 6 months of just 21%. Arpana Verma, Gabriel Agboado and colleagues from The University of Manchester and East Lancashire Primary Care Trust set out to determine the reasons for this. The group examined the effects of maternal socio-demographic factors, maternal obstetric factors, and hospital feeding practices on breastfeeding discontinuation in mothers supported by a peer-support programme.

USDA Announces Food Safety Initiatives For School Lunch And Other Food And Nutrition Assistance Programs

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced several new initiatives to assure the safety and quality of food purchased by USDA for the National School Lunch Program and other food and nutrition assistance programs. "Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our Nation's school children, " said Vilsack. "We must do everything we can to ensure that our kids are being served safe, high quality foods at school. Today's announcement demonstrates our commitment to constantly improving the safety and quality of foods purchased by USDA." The initiatives announced today are a combined effort of five USDA agencies - the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Secretary Vilsack announced the following initiatives by these agencies: - AMS will implement new food safety purchasing requirements for its beef suppliers as a result of a review of the beef purchase program conducted by FSIS and ARS.

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