Not-So-Forbidden Foods

[choc]As young adults, we’ve been told to stay away from certain foods and beverages. Skip dessert most of the time: it’s only empty calories and lots of sugar. Watch the alcohol intake, because usually, three drinks are plenty. These messages have been drilled into the minds of typical college students: first by cautious parents, then by seemingly wiser peers and persuasive advertisements. However, the flip side of these messages has finally surfaced: forbidden foods, including dark chocolate, dark beer and red wine, may actually provide health benefits.
Try this chocolate, Charlie
Eating chocolate produces serotonin, the chemical of pleasure, inside the brain. It also triggers a dopamine release inside the brain, creating an effect similar to opium. And now, researchers have discovered it is a rich source of flavonoids and gallic acids, ingredients to prevent heart attacks and strokes. And best of all, many will attest to the notion that chocolate is delicious.
Earlier this month, researchers at Johns Hopkins University examined how long participants’ platelets took to clot. A platelet is a small blood cell needed for normal blood clotting. The results proved the platelets of chocoholics clump up seven seconds slower than those who steer away from chocolate indulgences. When platelets take longer to clot, people are better protected against heart attacks and stroke. Platelets also are important for wound healing, clotting the blood at the site of an injury. John Hopkins University researchers aren’t the only ones finding dark chocolate to be highly beneficial. In Chicago, on Nov. 15, 2006, the American Heart Association agreed with JHU findings.
Some MSU students have already caught on to the phenomenon of dark chocolate, receiving the benefits whether or not they realize it. Political science senior Alessa Thomas has favored dark chocolate since childhood. “My mom used to buy dark chocolate chips instead of regular ones,” said Thomas. “She’s a chemistry teacher, so she knows how that goes. It grows on you.” In high school, Thomas studied the mental and physical health effects of dark chocolate. She now makes sure to eat a miniature piece of dark chocolate daily.
Before rushing out to buy a super-sized bag of Hershey\’s dark chocolate, remember that idea that chocolate is fattening? Two-thirds of the fat in chocolate come in forms of saturated fat called stearic acid. However, unlike most saturated fats, stearic acids do not raise the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. LDL has been commonly called “the bad cholesterol,” as it is often linked to heart disease. Eating relatively large amounts of dark chocolate could actually lower LDL levels.
Red, red wine
Dark chocolate isn\’t the only guilty pleasure with health benefits. Lately, many researchers have been debating the benefits of red wine. Scientists at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Biology studied lab mice by observing their endurance. A typical mouse would run for one kilometer before collapsing from exhaustion. However, when the mice were given reservatol, a minor component of red wine, they could run twice as far.
[wine3]But don’t rush to the Napa vineyards quite yet. The scientists, from Illkrich, France, said the mice were injected with enough reservatol to equal the human equivalent of drinking hundreds of glasses of red wine a day. But industry experts expect that consumers will ignore this key factor and stock up on wine instead.
Oddly enough, you won’t be seeing health benefits listed on the sides of wine bottles. Since the passage of prohibition laws in 1933, strict rules have been placed upon wine companies restricting them from advertising the positive effects of wine drinking.
Make it a dark one
If wine isn\’t your thing, what about a dark, smooth Guinness? Since 2003, researchers have been slowly discovering that platelets clot in the same slow manner after people consume another guilty pleasure – dark beer. Dr. John D. Folts said that dark beer is rich in flavonoids, which have intense antioxidant effects. Folts said the presence of flavonoids also explains why red wine is more heart-friendly than white wine and dark grape juice is more beneficial than white grape juice. “It’s about color: you can see the flavonoids in products on the shelf,” Folts said.
Communication senior Lucas Fowler prefers to drink dark beers for their more complex flavors. \”Nothing beats watching a Guinness settle in a pint glass and then enjoying the first sip,\” he said. He had been enjoying dark beers long before he discovered the extra bonus that some dark beers have similar tannins and antioxidants to those found in red wine. \”Most of my consumption is done in a smokey bar while eating a basket of french fries, so somehow I think the benefits are canceled out,\” Fowler said.
Moderation is key
Many nutritionists are concerned the amount needed to receive the benefits would result in the intake of a high number of calories. The end result would be obesity, which also would lead to cardiovascular problems. In addition, drinking dark beer in large amounts would obviously create intoxication. Researchers advise against having more than two alcoholic beverages per day.
A diet of strictly dark chocolate, red wine and dark beer clearly would not alleviate all health concerns. Although these kinds of research results give red wine drinkers a little bit of breathing room, consumers should adopt another common life adage: the concept of moderation. As most students have been taught, a balanced diet and moderate physical exercise is probably the best way to go in terms of staying healthy. But then again, dark chocolate tastes much better.

Posted in Sex & HealthComments (0)

Not-So-Forbidden Foods

[chocolate]As young adults, we’ve been told to stay away from certain foods and beverages. Skip dessert most of the time: it’s only empty calories and lots of sugar. Watch the alcohol intake, because usually, three drinks are plenty. These messages have been drilled into the minds of typical college students: first by cautious parents, then by seemingly wiser peers and persuasive advertisements. However, the flip side of these messages has finally surfaced: forbidden foods, including dark chocolate, dark beer and red wine, may actually provide health benefits.
Try this chocolate, Charlie
Eating chocolate produces serotonin, the chemical of pleasure, inside the brain. It also triggers a dopamine release inside the brain, creating an effect similar to opium. And now, researchers have discovered it is a rich source of flavonoids and gallic acids, ingredients to prevent heart attacks and strokes. And best of all, many will attest to the notion that chocolate is delicious.
Earlier this month, researchers at Johns Hopkins University examined how long participants’ platelets took to clot. A platelet is a small blood cell needed for normal blood clotting. The results proved the platelets of chocoholics clump up seven seconds slower than those who steer away from chocolate indulgences. When platelets take longer to clot, people are better protected against heart attacks and stroke. Platelets also are important for wound healing, clotting the blood at the site of an injury. John Hopkins University researchers aren’t the only ones finding dark chocolate to be highly beneficial. In Chicago, on Nov. 15, 2006, the American Heart Association agreed with JHU findings.[st]
Some MSU students have already caught on to the phenomenon of dark chocolate, receiving the benefits whether or not they realize it. Political science senior Alessa Thomas has favored dark chocolate since childhood. “My mom used to buy dark chocolate chips instead of regular ones,” said Thomas. “She’s a chemistry teacher, so she knows how that goes. It grows on you.” In high school, Thomas studied the mental and physical health effects of dark chocolate. She now makes sure to eat a miniature piece of dark chocolate daily.
Before rushing out to buy a super-sized bag of Hershey\’s dark chocolate, remember that idea that chocolate is fattening? Two-thirds of the fat in chocolate come in forms of saturated fat called stearic acid. However, unlike most saturated fats, stearic acids do not raise the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. LDL has been commonly called “the bad cholesterol,” as it is often linked to heart disease. Eating relatively large amounts of dark chocolate could actually lower LDL levels.
Red, red wine
Dark chocolate isn\’t the only guilty pleasure with health benefits. Lately, many researchers have been debating the benefits of red wine. Scientists at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Biology studied lab mice by observing their endurance. A typical mouse would run for one kilometer before collapsing from exhaustion. However, when the mice were given reservatol, a minor component of red wine, they could run twice as far.
[wine2]But don’t rush to the Napa vineyards quite yet. The scientists, from Illkrich, France, said the mice were injected with enough reservatol to equal the human equivalent of drinking hundreds of glasses of red wine a day. But industry experts expect that consumers will ignore this key factor and stock up on wine instead.
Oddly enough, you won’t be seeing health benefits listed on the sides of wine bottles. Since the passage of prohibition laws in 1933, strict rules have been placed upon wine companies restricting them from advertising the positive effects of wine drinking.
Make it a dark one
If wine isn\’t your thing, what about a dark, smooth Guinness? Since 2003, researchers have been slowly discovering that platelets clot in the same slow manner after people consume another guilty pleasure – dark beer. Dr. John D. Folts said that dark beer is rich in flavonoids, which have intense antioxidant effects. Folts said the presence of flavonoids also explains why red wine is more heart-friendly than white wine and dark grape juice is more beneficial than white grape juice. “It’s about color: you can see the flavonoids in products on the shelf,” Folts said.
Communication senior Lucas Fowler prefers to drink dark beers for their more complex flavors. \”Nothing beats watching a Guinness settle in a pint glass and then enjoying the first sip,\” he said. He had been enjoying dark beers long before he discovered the extra bonus that some dark beers have similar tannins and antioxidants to those found in red wine. \”Most of my consumption is done in a smokey bar while eating a basket of french fries, so somehow I think the benefits are canceled out,\” Fowler said.
Moderation is key
Many nutritionists are concerned the amount needed to receive the benefits would result in the intake of a high number of calories. The end result would be obesity, which also would lead to cardiovascular problems. In addition, drinking dark beer in large amounts would obviously create intoxication. Researchers advise against having more than two alcoholic beverages per day.
A diet of strictly dark chocolate, red wine and dark beer clearly would not alleviate all health concerns. Although these kinds of research results give red wine drinkers a little bit of breathing room, consumers should adopt another common life adage: the concept of moderation. As most students have been taught, a balanced diet and moderate physical exercise is probably the best way to go in terms of staying healthy. But then again, dark chocolate tastes much better.

Posted in Sex & HealthComments (0)

HPV and U

[women]
Genital human papillomavirus.
It\’s a mouthful, but thanks to a new vaccine, HPV is being talked about.
In June 2006, the Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to recommend Gardasil, the first vaccine to protect against diseases caused by HPV, including cervical cancer. The vaccine is for girls and women ages 9-26. For many women, Gardasil is being welcomed with open arms. Freshman Sarah Berendsohn heard about the vaccination over the summer. She didn’t think twice before getting vaccinated. “If I don’t have to worry about being infected with HPV, then I don’t have to worry about transmitting it, either,” said Berendsohn, who plans on going home to get the vaccination before December.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the U.S. The vaccine is made up of the outer coat of the HPV virus and protects against four different strains of HPV types. These four strains, HPV 6, 11, 16 and 18, have caused 70 percent of cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts. The American Cancer Society estimates cervical cancer will be diagnosed in 9,700 women nationwide and that 3,700 will die. While not every form of HPV transforms into cervical cancer, most do.
HPV exists in more than 40 forms. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), some of the strains of HPV are called \”high-risk\” types and show abnormalities in Pap smears. Strains can evolve to cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus or penis. Others are called \”low-risk\” types, and they may cause mild Pap smear abnormalities or genital warts. Genital warts are single or multiple growths that appear in the genital area and are sometimes cauliflower shaped.
“We base our knowledge off of pap smears,” said Elizabeth Neal, a family practice physician from the Mid Michigan Regional Medical Center. “If there are irregular cells on a woman’s cervix, then we test for HPV. But there is never a way to know which of the many types of HPV she may have.” Women should receive a pap smear each year once they turn 18 or become sexually active. This simple test can be given at any hospital or health center, including Olin Health Center.
The price at Olin is currently $156 for each of the three doses of the vaccine. In rare cases, side effects include pain, swelling, itching, and redness at the injection site and fever. The vaccination only protects against the four most common strains of the virus. If a doctor doesn’t know which form of HPV the patient has, giving the vaccine becomes more difficult, as the vaccine does not assist in the deletion of any current HPV or genital warts. Even girls with one type of HPV can get protection against other strains since it is possible to have multiple strains of HPV.
Both men and women can contract the disease; however women in their late teens to early \’20s are most susceptible to HPV. In rare cases, HPV contracted by men caused penile cancer. There is currently no vaccination to protect men against the disease. [gross]
A bipartisan group of female Michigan lawmakers are trying to pass a bill requiring girls to receive the vaccination in sixth grade. However, the lawmaking hopefuls cannot pass this bill until next year, leaving out the current preteen to college population whom are at their most vulnerable point for infection. Another factor is the price of the vaccine, since according to the FDA, the retail price of the vaccination is $360 and comes in a series of three. MSU’s Olin Health Center does carry the vaccination, but reportedly the total charge of the three visits runs around $450. Since the vaccine is new, not all insurance and health care providers have yet issued coverage. The ACIP recommends getting all three injections, as studies have not been done on the results of only getting one or two.
Child development freshman Elizabeth Dewey says that she’d be more likely to get the vaccination if it was less expensive. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to make the vaccination so expensive,” said Dewey. “For those of us who don’t want our parents paying for it, or knowing that we’re getting it, it’s a high price to come up with ourselves.”
In June 2006, The Food and Drug Administration and the ACIP approved the vaccine for use in girls as young as nine. The length of the Gardasil vaccination is unknown, which gives reason to medicate girls at an early age. Recipients of the vaccine have been medically studied for five years and are still protected against the four main strains of the virus. Since the vaccine is not recommended for women after the age of 26, college-age women are at a prime age for the vaccine. By the age of 26, 80 percent of women have been exposed to HPV, meaning the virus has at some point passed through the body. HPV manages to sometimes rest in the body without symptoms, and some strains even disappear without the assistance of medication.
Some girls are not as confident in the vaccination as Berendsohn. “I feel like my parents would be like, ‘Why do you need that?’” said Dewey. “I don’t even know what it is exactly. I don’t think it’s been covered well enough in the media, for being the medical breakthrough it actually is.”
[hpv]While the controversy is similar to the development of birth control, some girls don’t think they have the same excuses for their parents to obtain the vaccination. “To regulate periods” or “to help the skin” are excuses that are actually invalid for getting Gardasil. Many MSU women do not know enough information about the vaccine to risk parental disapproval.
According to Neal, it is a misconception that HPV cannot be transmitted if one stays abstinent. She described one instance of a college patient who lived in the dorms. “One girl used her roommate’s razor which her roommate had been using for her pubic hair. From that she contracted warts on her shin.”
However, the types of HPV that cause genital warts are usually different from those that cause warts on other body parts, such as the hands or feet, so touching a wart on the hands or feet will not cause genital warts.
With awareness being raised, education is the first weapon used to help both women and men protect themselves from the threat of HPV. “I think it’s the smart move for not only my own wellbeing, but that of anyone I’m romantically involved with in the future,” said Berendsohn.
Neal thoroughly believes that college-aged women should protect themselves against HPV. She adds, “Get checked, what do you have to lose?”

Posted in Sex & HealthComments (0)