Celiac Disease, Exercise to Sleep, Omega-3s for a Healthy Baby, and More!

Small two year old baby girl sleep in a bassinet on a airplane

credit: iStock @Nick_Thompson

National Sleep Foundation Poll Finds Exercise Key To Good Sleep

“Exercise is great for sleep. For the millions of people who want better sleep, exercise may help.” – David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation (NSF)

Have you ever told someone how you ‘slept like a baby’ after a tough workout, or a long day of physical exertion? Well, it turns out you don’t have to climb Mount Kilamonjaro to get a good night’s rest. The results of the National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 Sleep in America® poll show just how beneficial exercise can be to a good night’s sleep:

  • Exercisers say they sleep better – Among people who sleep roughly the same amount each night, exercisers reported better sleep than non-exercisers. “If you are inactive, adding a 10 minute walk every day could improve your likelihood of a good night’s sleep,” says Max Hirshkowitz, PhD, poll task force chair.
  • Vigorous exercisers report the best sleep – Vigorous exercisers are almost twice as likely as non-exercisers to report “I had a good night’s sleep.” More than two-thirds of vigorous exercisers say they rarely have sleep problems such as waking up too early and difficulty falling asleep, while one-half of non-exercisers experienced these problems.
  • Non-exercisers are the sleepiest and have the highest risk for sleep apnea – Participants were evaluated on how ‘sleepy’ they were using a standard excessive sleepiness clinical screening measure. The poll found that non-exercisers had a high sleepiness level about twice as often as exercisers. Here’s an interesting finding: non-exercisers reported having trouble staying awake while driving nearly three times the rate of those who exercise. Non exercisers were more than two times as likely to have symptoms of sleep apnea (a serious medical condition in which a person stops breathing during sleep) than vigorous exercisers.
  • Less time sitting is associated with better sleep and health – How much data have we seen lately showing how much sitting is ruining our lives? This study also found that people who sit for less than eight hours a day are twice as more likely to say they have “very good” sleep quality than those who sit for eight hours or more. The same comparison is seen in overall health: non-sitters were twice as likely to report having ‘excellent health’.
  • Exercise at any time of day appears to be good for sleep – But when is the best time to exercise? As far away from bedtime as possible, right? Not exactly. According to the study, those who report exercising close to bedtime and earlier in the day do not demonstrate a difference in self-reported sleep quality. For most people, exercise at any time seems to be better for sleep than no exercise at all.

“Exercise is beneficial to sleep. It’s time to revise global recommendations for improving sleep and put exercise—any time—at the top of our list for healthy sleep habits.” – Dr. Barbara Phillips, poll task force member.

Read the full article here.

credit: iStock @marekuliasz

credit: iStock @marekuliasz

What Really Causes Celiac Disease?

Are we entering into a period where people start paying more attention to the role microbes and bacteria have in our health? This is an interesting piece on new studies and thoughts about what the more recent rise of celiac disease and gluten intolerance might stem from.


  • Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where gluten proteins in wheat, barley and rye cause the body to turn on itself and attack the small intestine. Complications range from diarrhea and anemia to osteoporosis and, in extreme cases, lymphoma.
  • Roughly 30 percent of people with European ancestry carry genes for celiac disease, but more than 95 percent of the carriers tolerate gluten just fine. So what else needs to be in place to cause intolerance?
  • Scientists use the presence of certain self-directed antibodies to predict celiac disease. They have analyzed serum stored since the mid-20th century and compared it to serum from Americans today. Today’s serum is more than four times as likely to carry those antibodies.


Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet

If you could cut your risk of dying from heart disease by 30%, would you do it? A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests that switching to a Mediterranean diet can do just that. For those of you unfamiliar with the foods associated with this diet, it consists of: a high intake of olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables, and cereals; a moderate intake of fish and poultry; a low intake of dairy products, red meat, processed meats, and sweets; and wine in moderation, consumed with meals.

The study focused on endpoints: how many people actually had heart attacks and strokes, or died as a result of heart-related ailments? Here are the main take-aways from the study:

  • Scientists randomly assigned 7,447 people in Spain who were overweight, were smokers, or had diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease to follow the Mediterranean diet or a low-fat one.
  • Most participants didn’t stick strictly to the ‘low-fat’ diet, so that became more of the traditional modern diet, with its regular consumption of red meat, sodas and commercial baked goods.
  • The researchers were careful to clarify that while the diet clearly reduced heart disease for those at high risk for it, more research is needed to establish its benefits for people at low risk.
  • Among persons at high cardiovascular risk, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events.
credit: iStock @batteriesnotincluded

credit: iStock @batteriesnotincluded

Omega-3s Make For A Healthier Pregnancy

There are numerous benefits to omega-3 fatty acids, including reduced risk of heart disease and managing inflammation. Apparently, omega-3s are the gift that keeps on giving! A recent double-blind study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that pregnant women who took daily supplements of DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid, had longer gestations, bigger babies and fewer early preterm births.

Here are the highlights:

  • 154 healthy women were assigned to take 600 milligrams of DHA during the last half of pregnancy; 147 took a placebo.
  • Babies of mothers who took supplements were almost a half pound heavier. They were slightly longer with larger head circumferences.
  • Almost 5 percent of mothers who took the placebo gave birth at 34 weeks’ or less. For those who took DHA, this went down to only 0.6 percent.
  • The placebo group’s statistics aligned with low birth weight and short gestation period rates in the general population, while the omega-3 takers had dramatic reductions.
credit: iStock @pixelbrat

credit: iStock @pixelbrat

In Five Years, America Spends Forty-One Percent More On Diabetes

“The cost of diabetes is rising at a rate higher than overall medical costs with more than one in 10 health care dollars in the country being spent directly on diabetes and its complications, and more than one in five health care dollars in the U.S. going to the care of people with diagnosed diabetes.” – Robert Ratner, MD, Chief Scientific & Medical Officer, American Diabetes Association.

Despite more and more Americans becoming ‘health-conscious’ and adopting this workout fad or that latest diet craze, it seems like diabetes isn’t going anywhere. The American Diabetes Association recently released new research estimating the total costs of diagnosed diabetes have risen to $245 billion in 2012 from $174 billion in 2007. That’s an increase of 41%! The study includes a detailed breakdown of costs along gender, racial and ethnic lines, and costs on a state-by-state basis.

The complete study will be published in the The American Diabetes Association‘s April issue of Diabetes Care. Until then, find out more about the study here.

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.