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healthbriefs


Nature’s Own Sports Drink I


f Mother Nature chose an ideal sports drink for light-to-medium exercise, it might be coconut water, the clear liquid found most abundantly in- side young, green coconuts. That’s the conclusion reached by Indiana University Southeast lecturer Chhan- dashri Bhattacharya, Ph.D., in pre- senting his research to the American Chemical Society.


“Coconut water is a natural


drink that has everything your average sports drink has and more,” says Bhat- tacharya. “It has five times more potassium than Gatorade or Powerade. When- ever you get cramps in your muscles, potassium will help you get rid of them.” A 12-ounce serving of coconut water may also help balance the typical American diet, which is too low in potassium and too high in sodium derived from excess salt; individuals consuming such diets tend to have twice the risk of death from heart disease and a 50 percent higher risk of death from all disease- related causes. Coconut water is also high in healthful antioxidants.


Why Corn Syrup is Worse than Sugar


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hy is it important to choose natural sugars instead of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)? Dr.


Vanessa Bundy, a pediatric resident at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences University, remarks, “Fructose is metabolized differently than other sugars and has some byproducts [that are] believed to be bad for us.” Children and adolescents that consume many foods containing pure fructose, such as sodas and energy drinks, kids’ cereals and sugary snacks, are at special risk. The researchers’ analysis of 559 adoles- cents, ages 14 to 18, correlated high-fructose diets


with higher blood pressure, fasting glucose levels, insulin resistance and inflamma- tory factors that contribute to heart and


vascular disease. Heavy consumers of the mega-sweetener also tended to have lower levels of cardiovascular protectors such as HDL (good) cholesterol and adiponectin, a protein hormone that regulates the body’s metabolism of lipids (fats and oils) and glucose (a simple sugar and universal source of energy). Bundy explains, “The overall amount of fructose that is in HFCS is not much different than the amount in table sugar, but it’s believed there’s some- thing in the syrup processing that plays a role in [producing] the bad byproducts of metabolism.”


www.NAHudson.com


Wondrous Watermelon


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n a hot summer day, a cool, juicy slice of watermelon offers enticing refresh- ment. The treat offers surprising health benefits, too—it may help keep weight off and arteries clear, according to a recent study involving mice with high cholesterol by University of Kentucky researchers. One group sipped watermelon juice; the control group, water. After eight weeks, the mice that imbibed the juice had a lower body weight due to a decrease in fat mass; lean muscle mass was unaffected. These same mice also experienced reduced atherosclerotic lesions—associated with hardening of the arteries—and lower concentrations of cholesterol in their blood.


“This pilot study has found… in- teresting health benefits in the mouse model of atherosclerosis,” says lead investigator Dr. Sibu Saha, a cardio- thoracic surgeon. “Our ultimate goal is to identify bioactive compounds that would improve human health.”


The Lowdown on Low Iron


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ow levels of iron in the blood not only cause fatigue, but also may be linked to more serious health risks, including dangerous blood clots. Iron deficiency is widespread, and thought to affect at least 1 billion people worldwide, mostly women. Alleviating such deficiencies is a preventive measure.


Source: Imperial College, London natural awakenings July 2013 9


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