Author

Leslie Ann Berg, MSPH

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Gum. Whether it’s serving a purpose as a hunger suppresser, an outlet for nervous energy, breath freshener, or a sweet treat after a savory meal, there’s one underlying question we are often asked – is gum beneficial or detrimental to gut health? There are two sides to every story. On one hand, some sources point out the following benefits of chewing gum on the digestive system: Gum can stimulate bowel movements, as it increases the production of gastric juices. This can be beneficial in those who’ve had surgery, or who have just given birth, and don’t want to or aren’t able to eat right away.Post-meal gum chewing can stimulate the release of bile, digestive enzymes, and acids, all components needed to properly digest foods, and may help avoid indigestion after a large meal. Chewing gum can aid in soothing acid reflux. When you chew gum, your saliva becomes more alkaline, and…

While many of us are concerned about keeping our skin youthful and our bodies agile, what about our minds? Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is on the rise, affecting more individuals each year – a beautiful mind (along with glowing skin and a healthy body!) might be just the place to focus our anti-aging efforts these days. Based on the Alzheimer’s Association 2019 annual report, Alzheimer’s Disease Facts & Figures, 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, with it being the 6th cause of death in the U.S. Probably the most shocking statistic is that 1 in 3 American seniors dies with dementia. That’s one third of the senior population! AD costs $305 billion dollars each year; by 2050, dementia related costs are predicted to rise to as much as $1.1 trillion. The majority of primary care doctors believe that the healthcare system is not prepared for the exponential rise in…

As we’re hunkered down at home, some of us have seen an influx of processed foods creeping into our kitchens… and mouths! Well, here’s some incentive to get the COVID junk out of the house once and for all. Researchers at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain found that ultra-processed foods (think pastries, processed meats, and ice cream) accelerate the aging process. The scientists involved in the study conducted a cross-sectional study in 866 individuals, aged 57 to 91 years, and looked at the relationship between diet and telomere length, a marker for aging. Telomeres are short nucleotide sequences found on the end of chromosomes that protect genetic information. They shorten with each cell division, which creates the process of aging. So shorter telomere length means increased aging, and this shortening (aka aging) can be accelerated with environmental factors, including the daily consumption of ultra-processed foods. Processed food intake…

Could quarantining put you at a higher risk for disease? Studies and data analysis show that the best way to protect yourself and others from coronavirus is isolation. But could the practices of self-isolation, quarantining, and extreme social distancing put you at a higher risk for health conditions over the long term? The surprising answer is it may. Not only has the pandemic increased our over-sanitization, the very thing that, over the last century, has so dramatically (and negatively) affected the beneficial microbes that are essential to our health, but it has also brought on a complete change of lifestyle for most of us – less exercise, more unhealthy foods, added stress and the anxiety of juggling dwindling finances, job loss, homeschooling, and a lack of childcare, as well as inadequate sleep quality and quantity. All of these factors create a perfect storm for weight gain, increased disease risk, and…

Raw milk, by definition, is milk from grass-fed cows that is both unpasteurized and un-homogenized (the pasteurization process is a high heat treatment that kills any bacteria and potential pathogens in the milk, while the homogenization process is a mechanical process that distributes the fat particles evenly throughout the milk so that it’s blended uniformly). And because it doesn’t go through these nutrient-degrading processes before human consumption, it’s marketed as containing all of the “healthy” stuff that are destroyed in conventional milks during the pasteurization and homogenization processes, such as natural enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and beneficial bacteria for the gut. Yet, a recent study found that raw milk might not be the super food some health circles believe it is. The study, published this summer in Microbiome Journal, looked at 2,304 pasteurized and unpasteurized milk samples across 5 states. Results showed that raw milk contains little to no…

C-section births significantly increase the risk of adulthood obesity and type 2 diabetes in female offspring. Researchers conducted a prospective study analyzing data in 33,226 mothers born between 1946 and 1954. Out of those analyzed, 1,089 women were born via C-section. In the cohort 36.6% of children born were found to have obesity and 6.1% were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in adulthood. Results found that adult women had a 46% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and an 11% higher risk of developing obesity when compared to adult women born vaginally. Adjusting for breastfeeding did not change the correlation of risk for obesity or diabetes. JAMA Network Open Takeaway: Scientists who conducted the research conclude that if these findings are replicated in subsequent studies, they point to an incredible need to decrease C-section birth rates. In the United States, the average C-section rate is approximately 30% – a…