Learn the Most Important News in Holistic & Integrative Health

Fall holistic and integrative health newsWith school now in full swing, and the autumn festivities underway, you may have missed some important headlines in holistic and integrative health in order to take advantage of more family fun or to just have some downtime. Well, good for you! Seriously!

This week, on my Saratoga.com blog, I highlighted the importance of making sleep, rest, and rejuvenation a priority. I feel it’s one of American’s major deficiencies, maybe even more than Vitamin D!

To kick off our Top Holistic Health Reads, here’s a few more fun excerpts that I wanted to share at the start to give you a good excuse to nap and get out in nature.


Napping for Heart Health

The investigators looked at how an hour-long siesta at noon affected blood pressure among nearly 400 middle-aged people with high blood pressure. The result: those who napped saw their systolic blood pressure reading (the number on top of the standard blood pressure ratio) drop an average of 5 percent over the course of the day, compared with patients who didn’t rest. (Health Day, August 31, 2015)

Sleep Better with Nature

More than 255,000 adults from across the United States were surveyed about their quality of sleep in the previous month. Most said they slept poorly fewer than seven nights during the month. But those who said they slept poorly on 21 to 29 nights were less likely to have access to green spaces or other natural areas than those who said they slept poorly on fewer than seven nights. (Health Day, September 21, 2015)


More News to View

Below, I’ve also compiled what I consider September’s top media headlines in health, nutrigenomics, and medication updates for your skimming pleasure. These “Cliff Notes of Top Reads” provide you with some of my favorite and noteworthy abstracts or article summaries for the beginning of fall 2015 (in the Northern hemisphere).


A Few  Updates

Kara and Team







Before I summarize the headlines below, I have a few announcements!


Look at those lovely doctors and practitioners, who wouldn’t want to talk to them?!

Dr. Kara Fitgerald (middle) is one of my colleges, teachers, mentors, and someone I have had the privilege of working with on a few projects. (You can catch my interview with her on the Clinical Rounds Podcast here.) Dr. Kara and her team are offering a 6 day healthRESET program.

The team will take you through a gentle and simple mini-cleanse that will leave you revitalized and refreshed. They also arm you with knowledge for Healthy Eating and Healthy Living that you can choose to continue to apply even after the program has ended. Any of my current clients may want to check this out if you are looking for some safe and gentle cleansing options alongside our current work.

This is not a program that will leave you feeling hungry or deprived! We provide options for three meals per day plus snacks if needed. Omnivore and vegetarian/vegan options included.

Sign up here.


2. Consult Update

I also wanted to give you all an update on consults, since some of you have been asking! I’m settling back officially in NYS at the end of this month. It’s been great re-starting my consults with some of you and I look forward to extending my availability to work with more of you sooner. Stay tuned for more updates on this and some exciting news!





PageLines- forms-icon.png

  • Cleaning Up Food
  • How Reliable Are Medical Studies?
  • The Cost of Breast Cancer Genetic Testing
  • Is Too Much Social Media Bad for Teens Health?
  • Mapping Out a New Way To Predict Healthy Aging

Heart Health Headlines

  • Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability As Important Health Predictors
  • The Age of Your Heart Is Probably Older Than You
  • Diabetes Takes a Toll on Women’s Heart
  • Pollution Hurts Health Heart Too!
  • Childhood Adversity Linked to Heart Health Later in Life
  • More on Phthalates and Miscarriage
  • The Science of Mind Reading
  • Messed Up or Missed Diagnosis
  • Learning From Mishaps in Elders’ Safety
  • Thinking Yourself Fat
  • Genes and Environment- Happy or Sad, Depends on History
  • Grandma, Don’t Smoke or Your Grand kids Lungs Could Suffer



PageLines- forms-icon.png

  • A New Superfood for Mood
  • Cutting Calories May Help or Hurt Health- A Human Study
  • Microbiome, Cholesterol, Weight, and You
  • Melatonin and MS
  • Nutritional Supplement Sales Up in 2014
  • Calcium Takes a Hit for Bone Health
  • Are Dietary Guidelines Are Flawed?



PageLines- forms-icon.png

  • Antibiotics Linked to Type 2 Diabetes
  • FDA Approves 2nd New Cholesterol Drug
  • FDA Warns of Joint Pain with Diabetes Drugs
  • FDA Raises Warning of Fracture Risk for Drug
  • New Aspirin Guidelines
  • Study Re-examined: Paxil Not Safe for Teens
  • Treatments More Dangerous than Errors in Medications, New Study
  • Backing Off on Beta Blockers
  • Male Contraceptive on the Way?





Cleaning Up Food

THURSDAY, Sept. 10, 2015 (HealthDay News) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced new steps Thursday to improve the cleanliness of food manufacturing plants in the wake of a string of lethal foodborne illness outbreaks.



Garbage-To-Plate, Maybe the Next Food Movement?


The Cost of Genetic Breast Cancer Screening

FRIDAY, Sept. 11, 2015 (HealthDay News) –– Screening all women for gene mutations that increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer is too costly to be feasible, a new study suggests.


How Reliable Are Medical Studies?

Psychologists have completed a major review of the findings of 100 psychology studies. Less than half could be reproduced. (Science Daily, August 27, 2015)


Too Much Social Media Is Bad for Teens Health?

FRIDAY, Sept. 11, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Teens who feel a round-the-clock compulsion to participate on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter may pay a price in lost sleep. They may also face a higher risk for depression and anxiety, new research suggests.


Mapping Out a New Way to Predict Aging

A ‘gene signature’ that could be used to predict the onset of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, years in advance has been developed by scientists. The study aimed to define a set of genes associated with ‘healthy aging’ in 65 year olds. Such a molecular profile could be useful for distinguishing people at earlier risk of age-related diseases. (Science Daily, September 7, 2015)


Heart Focused Headlines

heart flip

Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability Important Health Predictors

Researchers examined data on more than 5,800 people, aged 70 to 82, who had risk factors for heart disease. The investigators compared resting heart rate and heart rate variability — the beat-to-beat variation in heart rate — with the ability to perform basic daily activities such as grooming, walking and using the toilet. They also looked at more complicated tasks such as doing housework, shopping and taking medicines as prescribed. Over an average follow-up of three years, seniors with the highest resting heart rate had a nearly 80 percent increased risk of decline in their ability to do basic daily activities, and a 35 percent increased risk of decline in their ability to do more complicated daily tasks. Those with the lowest heart rate variability had a 25 percent increased risk of decline in both basic and more complicated daily tasks, according to the study. The results were published Aug. 31 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. (Health Day, August 31, 2015)

Your Heart May Be Older Than You Are

Your “heart age” is based on a risk profile that includes blood pressure, smoking history, diabetes and body mass index.

“Half of U.S. men and nearly half of U.S. women have a heart age that’s five or more years older than their chronological age,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a media briefing. (Health Day, September 1, 2015)


Diabetes Takes a Toll on Women’s Heart

MONDAY, Sept. 14, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Diabetes may be harder on women’s hearts than it is on men’s. Two new studies have found an increased risk of heart problems, such as heart attack and chest pain, in women with diabetes compared to men with the blood sugar disorder. In one of the studies — a review that included almost 11 million people — the risk was about 40 percent higher.


Link Between Air Pollution and Increased Deaths from Heart Disease Affirmed

In a report on the findings, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives online Sept. 15, the scientists conclude that even minuscule increases in the amount of these particles (by 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air, for example) lead to an overall increased risk of death from all causes by 3 percent — and roughly a 10 percent increase in risk of death due to heart disease. For nonsmokers, the risk increase rises to 27 percent in cases of death due to respiratory disease. (Eurekalert, September 15, 2015)


Childhood Adversity and Heart Effects

Stress and psychological distress are known powerful, modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) (15), yet we know little about when or how the processes underlying this relationship begin. Indeed, prospective lifespan research that connects childhood experience with subsequent CVD-related outcomes to inform development of appropriate early interventions has been lacking. Using data from the 1958 British Birth Cohort Study, Winning et al. (6), in this issue of the Journal, thoughtfully address this gap by providing evidence suggesting that early distress, as reported in childhood, contributes independently to cardiometabolic risk (CMR) decades later in middle adulthood, even when individuals report experiencing little distress as adults. These findings are on the basis of data collected over a 45-year period from 6,714 individuals who were part of a 1-week birth cohort from Great Britain in 1958. Although differential attrition analysis revealed that males with lower socioeconomic status and cognitive ability scores and higher distress at age 7 were more likely to drop out of the study over time, it is important to note that this pattern of attrition suggests that the findings are conservative estimates of the distress-CMR association. When considered in the broader research literature addressing psychological impacts on the development of CVD, this paper is highly relevant with clear implications for research and clinical practice. (J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;66(14):1587-1589. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2015.08.026 )


Phthalates and Miscarriage

This study aimed to explore the relationship between the urinary concentration of phthalate metabolites and the risk of clinical pregnancy loss. A total of 132 women who underwent clinical pregnancy loss (cases) and 172 healthy pregnant women (controls) were recruited from Beijing, China. Eight phthalate metabolites in urine were determined by ultraperformance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC–MS/MS). Five phthalate metabolites, monomethyl phthalate (MMP), monoethyl phthalate (MEP), monoisobutyl phthalate (MiBP), mono-n-butyl phthalate (MnBP), and mono(2-ethlyhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), were detected in at least 95% of the urine samples, with the highest median concentration of 51.0 ?g/g of creatinine for MnBP of all participants. … We concluded that exposure to MEP, MiBP, and MnBP was associated with an increased risk of clinical pregnancy loss.. (Environ. Sci. Technol., 2015, 49 (17):10651–10657)


The Science of Mind Reading!

The telegraph. The telephone. The Internet. All innovations in communication that have changed the world. But the silent exchange of information using brain-to-brain communication? Surely the power to read minds remains the stuff of science fiction.

Perhaps not. A team of researchers from the University of Washington now contends that it’s possible to link up the brains of two separate individuals, in two separate spaces, so that one person can figure out what the other is thinking.

How? By digitizing the electrical nerve activity tied to a person’s thoughts, translating that activity/thought into a specific signal, and transmitting that signal over the Internet in patterns that can be understood by another person’s brain. (Health Day, September 23, 2015)


Messed Up or Missed Diagnosis?

A new report commissioned by the U.S. government contends that most Americans will encounter at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime, sometimes with severe consequences for their physical and mental health. (Sept. 22, 2015 (HealthDay News)

Consequently, authors conclude in the new report released today that, “most people will experience at least one diagnostic error (inaccurate or delayed diagnosis) in their lifetime, sometimes with devastating consequences.”

The report, Improving Diagnosis in Health Care, from the IOM, a division of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), cited these statistics among the impetus for urgent action:

  • 5% of US adults who seek outpatient care each year experience a diagnostic error.
  • Diagnostic errors contribute to approximately 10% of patient deaths.
  • Diagnostic errors account for 6% to 17% of hospital adverse events.
  • Diagnostic errors are the leading type of paid medical malpractice claims, and are almost twice as likely to have resulted in the patient’s death compared with other claims. (Medscape, September 22, 2015)


Learning From No-Fault Treatment Injury Claims to Improve the Safety of Older Patients

New Zealand’s treatment injury compensation claims data set provides an uncommon no-fault perspective of patient safety incidents. Analysis of primary care claims data confirmed medication as the leading threat to the safety of older patients in primary care and drew particular attention to the threat posed by antibiotics. For most injuries there was no suggestion of error. The no-fault perspective reveals the greatest threat to the safety of older patients in primary care to be, not error, but the risk posed by treatment itself. To improve patients’ safety, in addition to reducing error, clinicians need to reduce patients’ exposure to treatment risk, where appropriate. (Ann Fam Med September/October2015; 13(5): 472-474.)


Thinking Yourself Fat?

(Reuters Health) – People who perceived themselves to be overweight were at greater risk of gaining weight in recent studies from the U.S. and the U.K. This was true whether or not their perceptions were correct.

They also were more likely to overeat in response to stress, which explained a large part of the weight gain, researchers found. In the past, it was assumed that if people considered themselves to be overweight, they would have greater motivation to change their diet or level of exercise, the researchers write in the International Journal of Obesity, online August 7.

However, they point out, feeling overweight can also be risky, as past studies have shown that people who feel discriminated against because of their weight are more likely to gain weight. (Medscape, September 23, 2015)


Genes and Environment- Happy Or Sad, Depends on History

People with a certain type of gene are more deeply affected by their life experiences, a new study has revealed. The findings challenge traditional thinking about depression, showing what might be considered a risk gene for depression in one context, may actually be beneficial in another. (Science Daily, September 22, 2015)


Grandma, Don’t Smoke or Your Grand kids Lungs Could Suffer

Blame your grandma?? It seems smoking of grandma affected little ones asthma risk, 3rd hand smoking? Shows epigenetics passes down generations! (Health Day, September 29, 2015)




 photo 2 (3)






A Superfood for Mood

  • Chlorella vulgaris extract (CVE) is an antioxidant-rich algal product.
  • This study tested the effects of CVE supplementation in patients with depression.
  • Six-week CVE supplementation improved anxiety, and physical and cognitive symptoms of depression.
  • CVE was safe and well-tolerated during the study. (Complement Ther Med. 2015 Aug;23(4):598-602. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2015.06.010.)


Cutting Calories May Help Health or Hurt It- Human Study

The people in the calorie restriction group didn’t have any of the changes in metabolism that were seen in previous animal studies. But they did have significant improvements in several predictors of heart disease, including a 6 percent decrease in total cholesterol, a 4 percent fall in blood pressure, and increased levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.

Calorie restriction also led to a 47 percent decrease in levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation linked to heart disease. Reduced insulin resistance, a risk factor for diabetes, was also seen. Levels of a marker of thyroid activity fell by more than 20 percent. Some studies have suggested that lower thyroid activity may be associated with longer life span.

However, some of the people in the calorie restriction group developed temporary anemia. Some also had larger-than-expected decreases in bone density, the study found. These findings highlight the importance of medical monitoring during calorie restriction, according to the study authors. (Health Day, September 1, 2015)


Microbiome & Diet Interactions

New research enables “tailored” diet advice — based on our personal gut microbiome — for persons who want to lose weight and reduce the risk of disease. Systems biologists have, for the first time, successfully identified in detail how some of our most common intestinal bacteria interact during metabolism.

  • Chalmers University of Technology. Your stomach bacteria determines which diet is best for weight reduction. ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150910091400.htm
  • Quantifying Diet-Induced Metabolic Changes of the Human Gut Microbiome. Cell Metabolism, 2015; 22 (2): 320 DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2015.07.001

 BugsHow Bacteria Effect Your Cholesterol

Studying 893 people who provided fecal and blood samples, Fu and her team genetically sequenced the microbial material to get a better sense for which bacterial populations occupied the gut. They found 34 unique bacterial sequences that were linked to body mass index (BMI, a measure of height and weight) and blood lipid levels. Then they calculated how much variation in these groups of bacteria affected BMI and lipid levels. (Time. September 10, 2015. http://time.com/4030145/bacteria-microbiome-cholesterol-levels/)




Melatonin May Explain MS Flares

Seasonal flare-ups in patients with multiple sclerosis are caused by plummeting levels of melatonin in the spring and summer, according to research published September 10 in Cell. The study reveals that relapses in patients with this autoimmune disorder are much less frequent in the fall and winter, when levels of the so-called darkness hormone are at their highest, but the reverse is true in the spring and summer seasons.

Moreover, treatment with melatonin improved clinical symptoms in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis by restoring a healthy balance of immune cells called T lymphocytes. The findings, which resulted from a collaboration between American and Argentinian scientists, could potentially lead to the development of novel treatments for a broad range of autoimmune disorders. (Medical Xpress. September 10, 2015)


Herbal Dietary Supplement Sales in U.S. Rise 6.8% in 2014

Sales of herbal dietary supplements in the U.S. increased by 6.8% in 2014, reaching an estimated total of more than $6.4 billion. These statistics and other herbal sales figures are included in a new market report published in the current issue of HerbalGram, the peer-reviewed quarterly journal of the non-profit American Botanical Council (ABC), Austin, TX. (Nutraceuticals World, September 2015.)


Calcium Takes a Hit in Bone Health

Calcium wasn’t a total washout if you look at the actual study, a 1% difference in bone mineral density in the first year in a comparison of studies, so the press is a little off….but still doesn’t translate to a big change for bone health. Why?

This is because important to also be controlling inflammation, balancing hormones, and balancing a lot of other nutrients, such as protein and minerals. (Calcium Supplements Aren’t Doing Your Bones Any Good, Studies Say. Time. September 2015)


What’s the Science Behind the New Dietary Guidelines?

The expert report underpinning the next set of US Dietary Guidelines for Americans fails to reflect much relevant scientific literature in its reviews of crucial topics and therefore risks giving a misleading picture, an investigation by The BMJ has found. The omissions seem to suggest a reluctance by the committee behind the report to consider any evidence that contradicts the last 35 years of nutritional advice. (BMJ 2015;351:h4962 .http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h4962)

Retraction Watch; Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process: Following criticism, BMJ “clarifies” dietary guidelines investigation









Antibiotics Linked to Type 2 Diabetes

Antibiotic use was associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes in a new population-based, case-control study.

The findings were published online August 27, 2015 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism by Kristian Hallundback Mikkelsen, MD, a PhD student at the Center for Diabetes Research, Gentofte Hospital, University of Copenhagen (Hellerup, Denmark) and colleagues. (Medscape. August 27, 2015)


FDA Approves 2nd Cholesterol Drug in New Class

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved a second drug that’s part of a potent new class of medications that sharply cut levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. Repatha (evolocumab), an injectable drug, works by blocking a protein that interferes with the liver’s ability to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood. (Health Day, August 27, 2015)


Are Your Blood Sugar Drugs Giving You Joint Pain?

Use of a class of widely prescribed medications for type 2 diabetes is tied to severe joint pain in some patients, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned on Friday. The drugs — sitagliptin (Januvia), saxagliptin (Onglyza), linagliptin (Tradjenta) and alogliptin (Nesina) — come from a newer class of medications called DPP-4 inhibitors. (Health Day, August 28, 2015)

Canaglifozin and Fracture Risk

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strengthened its warning for canagliflozin (Invokana, Invokamet, Johnson & Johnson/Janssen) related to the increased risk for bone fractures. (Medscape, September 10, 2015)


New Aspirin Guidelines

Based on new evidence, the task force concluded there’s insufficient evidence to recommend low-dose aspirin to prevent heart disease in people younger than 50, or 70 and older. The draft recommendations also noted for the first time that aspirin taken to prevent heart disease also appears to decrease risk of colon cancer. However, the task force is not recommending that aspirin be used solely to prevent colon cancer, Owens added. (Health Day, September 14, 2015)


Paxil Not Safe For Teens- Trial Findings Re-examined

Neither paroxetine nor high dose imipramine showed efficacy for major depression in adolescents, and there was an increase in harms with both drugs. Access to primary data from trials has important implications for both clinical practice and research, including that published conclusions about efficacy and safety should not be read as authoritative. The reanalysis of Study 329 illustrates the necessity of making primary trial data and protocols available to increase the rigour of the evidence base. (Restoring Study 329: efficacy and harms of paroxetine and imipramine in treatment of major depression in adolescence. BMJ 2015; 351. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h432_ )


Male Contraceptive on the Way?

The results are based on male mice, and results of animal studies don’t always apply to humans. But Ikawa’s team was able to render the animals infertile — temporarily — by blocking a specific protein that is also present in human sperm.

The protein is called calcineurin. Researchers had suspected that it plays an important role in male fertility, but the protein exists in different forms, and it hadn’t been clear which form might affect fertility.

For the study, Ikawa’s team first looked at the effects of “knocking out” two genes believed to exist only in calcineurin in sperm. The researchers found that blocking the genes resulted in less-flexible sperm that could not fertilize eggs.

The researchers then turned to two existing drugs — cyclosporine A and tacrolimus (also known as FK506) — that are known to inhibit calcineurin. When they treated the mice with the drugs, it took four to five days to render the animals’ sperm infertile. A week after the drugs were stopped, however, fertility returned. (Health Day, October 1, 2015)


Don’t forget to check out the sleep blog on Saratoga.com.