Monday, August 13, 2018

Probiotics Can Reduce Bone Loss

Probiotics found in supplements, yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and miso have shown a  positive benefit to the GI tract by improving intestinal function and maintaining  integrity of the intestinal lining. Research is showing the GI track plays an important role in proper digestion, nutrient absorption, removing harmful pathogens from the body, and immunity. A wide range of studies support regular consumption of probiotics as treatment for a variety of conditions including chronic constipation, antibiotic associated diarrhea, IBS, IBD, UTI’s, eczema, and modestly reducing blood pressure and cholesterol.

A new study from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden found women who took a daily probiotic supplement to promote healthy bacteria in the GI track also experienced less bone loss compared to women taking a placebo.

A double-blind, randomized study of 90 women aged 76 and older consumed a probiotic supplement or a placebo daily over the course of 1 year. Measurements of the women’s bone mass were taken with a CT scan at the start of the study and a year later to compare results. Researchers found in women taking the probiotic supplement, bone loss was halved compared to women taking the placebo.

Previous studies have suggested healthy intestinal bacterial benefit the skeleton in mice, but this is the first study to show probiotics reduce bone loss in humans.  Researchers are optimistic probiotics can have a number of health benefits to both men and women while being safe with few side effects.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Could Meditation Win Wars?

Scientists from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and University of North Texas collaborated to develop a data processing technique to monitor the state of the brain based on heart rate variability. The new technique gives a better view of how the heart responds to external disturbances, such as stress.

Using the new technique it was determined that Yoga meditation was more effective in reducing stress over Chi medication, and that long-term meditators displayed better    cognitive abilities, better ability to carry out goal-oriented behavior, and better use of complex mental processes. It has also been found that when yoga integrates meditation and breathing techniques it can relax the mind, increase body awareness, and sharpen concentration.

Psychological warfare describes actions intended to reduce an opponent’s morale. Used since prehistoric times by many including the Persian Empire, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Hitler, and today on social media, getting into an opponents psyche is nothing new. Military historians believe  battles and possibly wars have been won or lost based on    warrior’s mindset, before physical combat ever begins. Developing techniques to accurately measure stress are important to quantify how effective different types of meditation interventions are, and how they can be harnessed to benefit  soldiers.

The U.S. Army also states a long term goal of identifying meditation interventions to reduce post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Currently the new technology is being utilized to measure the efficacy of mindfulness meditation interventions.

Many health professionals recognize how damaging stress can be physically and mentally on someone's health. Meditation can be an effective intervention to promote optimal well-being.