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Health Capsules: Feb. 6

Heart benefits of healthy eating are easily lost, easily regained

Those who fail to stick to a healthy eating plan can regain lost healthcare benefits by restarting it, according to recent research.

For many of us, sticking to our New Year’s resolutions to eat healthy every day may be short-lived, and some many believe that they’ve already failed in keeping them. But there’s hope for those who fall off the healthy diet wagon, or whose diet tends to follow a “yo-yo” pattern.

Purdue University researchers recently found that the cardiovascular benefits gained from healthy diets can be measured in the body fairly quickly. When poor eating habits kick back in, those benefits are also rapidly lost; however, resuming a diet will again result in similar health gains.

The Purdue researchers analyzed two studies in which participants followed one of two eating plans: a Mediterranean diet or a Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension [DASH] diet. Both are rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

After they followed one of these diets for five or six weeks, scientists determined their cardiovascular risk by measuring a range of parameters, including blood pressure and levels of fats, glucose and insulin in the blood. They then returned to their pre-diet eating patterns for an additional four weeks. Finally, they were restarted on the DASH or Mediterranean diets for five to six more weeks, producing a ‘rollercoaster’ effect.

The analysis showed that their cardiovascular markers improved when the participants stuck to the diet. When they returned to less healthful eating, the biomarkers became less favorable again.

Then, once the healthy diets were restarted, the metabolic markers once again improved.

“These findings should encourage people to try again if they fail at their first attempt to adopt a healthy eating pattern,” said Professor Wayne Campbell of Purdue. “It seems that your body isn’t going to become resistant to the health-promoting effects of this diet pattern just because you tried it and weren’t successful the first time.”

More research will be needed to explore whether yo-yo dieting has an impact on long-term health, Campbell added.

Is there danger in your dental floss?

Using certain brands of dental floss may be exposing you to a potentially harmful chemical.

Using certain brands and types of dental floss may contribute to increased levels of toxic substances known as PFAS chemicals in the body, recent research suggests.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of man-made chemicals which have been manufactured and used in the U.S. since the 1940s. These water- and grease-proof substances that have been linked with numerous health problems including kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, low birth weight, decreased fertility, and effects on the immune system.

In a recent study, researchers measured 11 different PFAS chemicals in blood samples taken from middle-aged women enrolled in the Public Health Institute’s Child Health and Development Studies, and also interviewed the women about nine behaviors that could lead to higher PFAS exposure. They found that women who flossed with Oral-B Glide tended to have higher levels of a certain type of PFAS compared to those who did not.

To better understand this connection, the researchers tested 18 dental flosses for the presence of fluorine, which is a marker of PFAS. All three Glide products tested were positive for fluorine, as were two generic-brand flosses labeled “compare to Oral-B Glide” and one product described on its label as a “single strand Teflon fiber.” This is consistent with previous reports that Glide is manufactured using Teflon-like compounds, the researchers said.

“This is the first study to show that using dental floss containing PFAS is associated with a higher body burden of these toxic chemicals,” said lead author Katie Boronow, a staff scientist at the Silent Spring Institute. “The good news is, based on our findings, consumers can choose flosses that don’t contain PFAS.”

The research provides new insight into how these chemicals end up in people’s bodies, and how consumers can limit their exposure by modifying their behavior, Boronow said.

On the calendar

BJC offers free Know Your Numbers health screenings on Friday, Feb. 8 from 7:30-9:30 a.m. at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, 10 Hospital Drive in St. Peters, in Suite 117 of Medical Office Building 1. These screenings for adults include fasting glucose, cholesterol, lung function, blood pressure and BMI measurements. To register, visit bjcstcharlescounty.org/Events.

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BJC sponsors a Family and Friends CPR class on Tuesday, Feb. 19 from 6:30–9 p.m. at Progress West Hospital, 2 Progress Point Parkway in O’Fallon, in Conference Room B. This class is designed for parents, grandparents, babysitters [ages 10–15 if accompanied by an adult] and childcare providers. It is taught by a registered nurse using the American Heart Association’s curriculum. The fee is $25 per person. Advance registration is required by calling (636) 344-5437.

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BJC offers free Diabetes Self-Management Education Services for adults with prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes on Tuesday, Feb. 19 from 4-7 p.m. at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, 10 Hospital Drive in St. Peters, in Suite 117 of Medical Office Building 1. Individual consultations are also available for adults with gestational, Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. A physician order and advance registration are required. To register, call (636) 928-9355 or visit bjcstcharlescounty.org/Events.

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Mid Rivers Mall hosts a Lifesaver CPR and Health Screenings event on Saturday, Feb. 23 from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at Center Court of the mall, located at 1600 Mid Rivers Mall Drive in St. Peters. Learn hands-only CPR and choking relief skills from SCAAD paramedics; the training is fast, free and open to all ages. BJC nurses will also offer free health screenings including blood glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides.

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