Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Appetite for Life

Nutrition experts from the UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute in Kannapolis will give host a series of free seminars in February and March.

Here are the dates, speakers and topics in the "Appetite for Life Academy":

Feb. 7: Dr. Steven Zeisel, director of the Nutrition Research Institute, "Diet and the Risk of Cancer." Zeisel specializes in how the nutrient choline affects brain development.

Feb. 13: Melanie Spencer, NRI researcher, "Gut Microbes: A Trillion Tiny Friends for Life." How the many microbes in the gastrointestinal tract influence everything from immunity to nutrient absorption.

Feb. 21: Philip May, a research professor at the NRI, "Prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders." Up to 5 percent of U.S. children may suffer cognitive and behavioral problems caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol.

Feb. 28: Andrew Swick, director of obesity and eating disorders at NRI, "Obesity: It Is Not Easy Being Lean." His research shows why it's difficult for some people to lose weight and maintain weight loss.

March 6: Karen Corbin, registered dietitian and research assistant professor at NRI, "Why Diets Don't Work: Myths, Mysteries and Truths." Learn how nutrients, genetics and other factors can make your ideal diet less of a mystery.

All seminars are from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Events Room at the David H. Murdock Core Laboratory Building, 201 N. Main St., Kannapolis. Seating is limited. Online registration is required at: uncnri.org/appetite_form.asp
Or call 704-250-5000.

Eating on a food stamp budget

What can you eat on a food-stamp budet of $3 a day?

Filmmaker Yoav Potash and his nutrition educator wife, Shira, tried to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet on that food-stamp budget and filmed their experience in an hourlong documentary, "Food Stamped: Is It Possible To Eat Healthy On A Food Stamp Budget?"

It will be one of the films shown this year in the free Learn and Live Film Series at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis.

"Food Stamped," which includes interviews with members of Congress, food justice organizations, nutrition experts and people living on food stamps, will be shown Feb. 20.

The documentary has won awards at multiple film festivals around the country. Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, has said: “Food Stamped is a warm, delightful, and entertaining film with a serious message: it’s really difficult to eat healthfully on food stamp benefits even if you are educated, savvy, live near a decent grocery store or farmers’ market, have plenty of time and energy, and are a great cook. Everyone should see this film, especially those who complain about how low-income people use their benefits.”

A second film, "Living Proof," will be shown April 16. It is based on the 1998 book, "HER-2: The Making of Herceptin, a Revolutionary Treatment for Breast Cancer," by Robert Bazell, the chief science and health correspondent for NBC News. The 2008 movie stars Harry Connick Jr. as Dr. Dennis Slamon, a UCLA oncologist and researcher who helped develop the breast cancer drug Herceptin from 1988 to 1996.

Both films will be shown at 7 p.m. in the Events Room of the David H. Murdock Core Laboratory Building, 201 N. Main St., Kannapolis. Each will be followed by a discussion led by NCRC scientists and community partners.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Scratch that itch

How good does it feel to scratch an itch?

It depends on where you're scratching.

That's the finding of Dr. Gil Yosipovitch, a dermatologist and researcher at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem.

Characterized in the medical center's news release as a "world-renowned itch expert," Yosipovitch has done previous studies which have shown that itching is pleasurable.

His latest study focused on which of three body sites -- sorry, no buttocks or genitals included -- feel the best when scratched.

Relief was felt most intensely at the ankles and on the back when compared to the forearms. And “the pleasurability of scratching the ankle appears to be longer lived compared to the other two sites,” Yosipovitch concluded.

He induced itching for 18 study volunteers by rubbing them with Mucuna pruriens, a tropical legume that is known to cause intense itching.

What's the point of all this?

Yosipovitch said his research will lead to a better understanding of itch and how to relieve it for people who have skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis.

“If we could translate this to a treatment that induces a pleasurable relief sensation without damaging the skin, we may be able to help itchy patients,” he said.

The study was supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease. It was published online this month in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Is yoga safe?

"How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body" -- that was the provocative headline on a New York Times article earlier this month. It caused a stir in yoga circles, where instructors and practitioners are passionate about their poses.

"The article...misrepresented information and used extreme situations to make sweeping statements," said Grace Morales, who opened Charlotte Yoga 10 years ago. "As a 15-year teacher, many of the examples did not add up.

"To say you should not practice yoga because you could get hurt is the same as don't run, don't lift weights, give up on movement. That is not the answer...That said there was also a lot of truth. The article exposed dangerous physical alignment, poor choice of postures and a disconnect that can ignore good sense. I have observed the good and bad over the years and the positive health benefits have far outweighed the negative.

"Continuing education is the a large piece of the puzzle. I was taught alignment that was not optimal in my first few trainings, but new research showed a better way. This happens all the time in the health profession, better information leads to new protocol...A certified yoga teacher would be able to respond to this article's sighting of injuries with anatomically sound alternatives, current information and resources. If not, it is time to get more training."

Nancy Nicholson, an instructor who specializes in "gentle yoga," said that much of the yoga taught in America today "puts students at risk due to untrained teachers, teachers who encourage students to push beyond their comfort and safety zone, and due to the lack of mindfulness and attention during practice...

"I teach many older students, up to age 96, and I tell them, just like my younger students, to be aware, to back off if there is discomfort, especially if they don't really know their limits...Yoga means 'the union of mind, body and spirit,' and that union is what keeps us safe, without injury."

Here's a link to the Times' article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1

Monday, January 9, 2012

Paper towels or hand dryers?

I've never known for sure which is better.

Hand dryers produce less waste, but unless they're very powerful, they don't really dry your hands. I'd always rather have paper towels in a public restroom.

Here's a discussion on the topic by Dr. Ben Chapman, an assistant professor and food safety extension specialist at N.C. State University.