Research briefs

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Below are summaries of 3 recent research studies that have practical implications for taking care of your health.

Dental hygiene and your heart
Healthy gums make healthy hearts.  Researchers from Columbia University have shown toothbrush-with-toothpaste-2-by-gustavorezendethat improving gum health can slow the progression of atherosclerosis, the narrowing of arteries which is associated with heart disease and strokes.   It’s been widely accepted that the bacteria responsible for producing periodontal disease also contribute to atherosclerosis; the good news from this study is that improving gum health can actually reverse the progression of heart disease.  To reduce harmful bacteria in your mouth, it is recommended you brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily in addition to making regular visits to a dentist.  Read more: Dr. Weil’s Daily Health Tips or Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

Improving HDL effectiveness with weight training
WhileTwoDumbbells we’ve heard that high levels of HDL (good cholesterol) can protect against heart disease, new research is showing that how well the HDL functions is even more important.  UCLA researchers looked at the effects of weight training on HDL effectiveness, and they found that regular weight training contributed to better-functioning HDL, regardless of participants’ overall weight (overweight participants’ HDL was just as effective as lean participants’).  Dr. Andrew Weil, founder of the integrative medicine movement, says, “This suggests that physical fitness may be the best measure of healthy HDL function and, by extension, the risk of heart disease.”  Participants in this study engaged in resistance training 4 days a week.  Read more: Dr. Weil’s Daily Health Tips or Science Daily.

Mindfulness exercises can reduce blood pressure
About 30% of adult Americans have prehypertension, a condition where their blood Silhouette_yogapressure is higher than normal but doesn’t yet require medication management.  In a study out of Kent State University, researchers looked at the effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) training on prehypertension.  Results showed that participants who participated in an 8-week series of three types of MBSR- yoga, body scan exercises, and sitting meditation– had statistically significant lower blood pressure readings at the end (there was a decrease in both the systolic and diastolic readings).  Such an improvement in blood pressure for prehypertension patients could mean delaying or even preventing the need for medications as well as a reduction in risk of heart attacks and strokes.  Read more: Dr. Weil’s Daily Health Tips or Medical News Today.

-Katie Huffman, inspired by Dr. Weil’s Daily Health Tips blog

First image courtesy of OpenClipArt user Gustavaorezende; second and third images courtesy of wikipedia; all via CreativeCommons.

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About Katie Huffman

Katie is a Wellness Advocate with the Clergy Health Initiative. She has an undergraduate degree in History and French and a Masters degree in Gerontology; prior to her current position, Katie worked as a social worker in a retirement community in Chapel Hill. Outside of work, she enjoys gardening, spending time outdoors, baking, and hanging out with her husband, Noah, their daughter, Ada, and two kitties, Grady and Gracie.

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