6 Health Discoveries Straight From the Lab

March 12, 2011 - 0:0
Cutting-edge health tips: Your doctor no doubt has plenty of great tips and advice on living a healthier, happier life. But much of his wisdom actually comes from the research results of veteran laboratory scientists and researchers. So why not cut out the middleman or woman? Here are some surprising lessons directly from the very experts who have performed cutting-edge studies—and you won't believe the lengths to which researchers go to test them! - Sleep well starting tonight The researcher: Patricia Murphy, PhD, clinical researcher and associate director, Laboratory of Human Chronobiology, Weill Cornell Medical College The lesson: Nap without guilt. ""It's ingrained that dozing during the day may mess up sleep at night, but there's no experimental evidence that says so. We've studied hundreds of napping subjects and found that if the start time is before 2 pm, you can nap for up to 2 hours without impacting your sleep. So take a nap—it helps your brain recharge."" Try melatonin to sleep better. ""We learned this supplement causes body temperature to drop, which is necessary to fall asleep. We're also trying to figure out if it suppresses luteinizing hormone—higher levels of LH are linked to hot flashes, a common sleep disrupter. If you occasionally have trouble falling asleep, take up to 3 mg of melatonin 30 minutes before bed; if you can't stay asleep, look for time-release formulas. Stop taking it and see your doctor if there's no change after 2 months."" - Be savvy about buying organic The researcher: Will Daniels, vice president of quality, food safety, and organic integrity, Earthbound Farm The lesson: Organic salad greens stay fresher longer than conventional. ""We've done extensive side-by-side shelf life testing and found that the quality of organic greens usually lasts longer, meaning you're less likely to throw them out and more likely to use what you paid for. And for like baby lettuces and arugula, the price point is now nearly identical to that of conventional versions."" - Avoid preventable forms of cancer The researcher: Mary McHugh, MD, FCAP, Mount Carmel Health System, Columbus, OH The lesson: Get Pap tests after menopause too. ""The average age for cervical cancer diagnosis isn't 35—it's about 50. Too many women wrongly assume they can stop screenings if their Paps are normal after their childbearing years. I had a 45-year-old patient who skipped her tests for 6 years; in the interim, she developed a high-grade precancerous lesion. It struck me that it was entirely preventable. Keep getting tested as directed by your gynecologist."" - Boost immunity The researcher: David Nieman, DrPH, Human Performance Lab director, North Carolina Research Campus The lesson: Cranberries, green tea, and fish oil can boost your immune system. ""I've done about 50 studies on marathon runners—who are 6 times more likely to get sick after a race—and learned that immune cells functioned abnormally for a day or so after extreme exertion. We found that a combination of quercetin (an antioxidant in cranberries and red onions), the green tea extract EGCG, and fish oil helped combat oxidative stress, thus warding off illness. For the average person, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, green tea, and fish should keep the immune system in shape."" - Speed up weight loss The researcher: Catrine Tudor-Locke, PhD, walking behavior researcher and associate professor, Pennington Biomedical Research Center The lesson: Use a pedometer to count steps, not calories burned. ""This is especially true if you're watching your weight. Calculations for energy expenditure are often based on a formula in the pedometer's microprocessor that is not tailored to the individual, so take the calorie number with a big grain of salt. A healthy goal: Work up to 10,000 steps a day."" - Get gorgeous hair The researcher: Michael Jutt, chemical engineer and director of product development, Frédéric Fekkai & Co. The lesson: Use conditioner before shampoo on occasion. ""While researching an experimental styling material, we discovered that none of our shampoos removed it from hair very well. Some materials from products adhere very tightly to follicles and can build up over time. One day, someone in the lab accidentally used conditioner to wash; she corrected it then by washing with shampoo—and to our surprise, the hair ended up much cleaner. Why does it work? The built-up material gets trapped in the conditioner, then you wash away both with shampoo."" (Source: Health.yahoo.net)