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Health Tips #6 ~ [Issue 0100-2]  Wellness Weekly
 Jan 11, 2000 13:22 PST 

The National Cancer Institute recommends we eat at least five to nine
servings of fruits and vegetables every day. The nutrients they
contain - vitamin C, fiber, vitamin E, folic acid, all kinds of
phytonutrients, plus potassium and magnesium - may also help reduce
our risk of heart disease and stroke. On days when it is hard to fit
them into meals, focusing on eating them as snacks is of great health benefit.


Whole-grain foods are more nutritious than products made with
processed flour, and they are more closely linked to a lower risk of
colon cancer. At breakfast, switch to whole-grain cereals like
oatmeal. Eat whole-grain breads rather than white. Whole grains like
buckwheat, millet, spelt, rye, and bulgur are better for you than
processed grains. Whole-wheat and spelt pasta is a delicious way to
improve the quality of nutrition in your diet. And do not forget that
whole-grain (brown) rice has not been stripped of its nutrients as
has the more popular bleached white rice.


Most pediatricians recommend not bathing babies every day, yet most
dermatologists do. Recently, a study funded by the Proctor and Gamble
Company and undertaken by Dr. Anne W. Lucky of Children's Hospital of
Cincinnati was completed to settle the debate. Forty-one babies were
evaluated, all of them younger than eight weeks old. Then, children
from six to thirty-six months old were included. They were divided
into different groups and their skin was evaluated on a continuous basis.

It was found that daily cleansing with a mild cleansing bar actually
improved the infant's skin. This proved true for those with atopic
dermatitis as well as for those with healthy skin. In fact, skin
hydration actually improved, mainly in those infants who had
previously had skin problems. Additionally, Dr. Lucky commented that
daily bathing has benefits beyond skin improvement, providing, for
example, a very nice bonding time for parents and their children.


Over the last two or three years, there has been a lot of interest in
the levels of a substance named homocysteine in the blood. It has
been thought by several researchers that higher levels of this amino
acid may be involved in some way with heart disease relative to lower
levels of vitamin B6 in our bloodstream. The prevalence of
homocysteine in the blood has been considered by some doctors as an
indicator of the probability of developing heart disease. However, in
a recent study, researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical
School in Minneapolis reported, in Circulation: Journal of the
American Heart Association, that they did not find a definite
relationship between homocysteine levels and heart disease.

The researchers evaluated blood samples from 759 people who were
between 45 and 64 years old during the three year period from 1987 to
1989, then again between 1990 and 1992, and a third time between 1993
and 1995. During the period, 232 developed heart disease. But their
findings demonstrated a stronger association between high blood
levels of vitamin B6, which has been shown to reduce homocysteine
levels, and lowered risk for heart disease.

In fact, the study showed that people with the highest blood levels
of vitamin B6 had about one third the risk of developing heart
disease compared with people having the lowest vitamin B6 levels. A
weak correlation between vitamin B6 and homocysteine makes it
impossible to predict whether people with low vitamin B6 levels have
high homocysteine and therefore an increased risk for heart disease.
Considering this newer information, however, it may be rational to
supplement with B6 to help make sure your levels are kept up to par,
or at least have your levels checked.
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