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Support Your Health with Elderberries

For centuries, European elder (Sambucus nigra), also known as black elder, has been valued in North America and Europe as a healing remedy. Traditionally, all parts of the plant were used -- the leaves went into making ointments for treating bruises and wounds, the roots were used as a diuretic, the flowers were known for their astringent properties, and the berries were used for rheumatism.


Today, elderberries are known primarily for their beneficial effects on the immune system and for relieving symptoms of colds and the flu. Scientific evidence finds elderberries to have powerful anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.

Packed with Nutrition

Elderberries are an excellent source of fiber and vitamin A, and they’re high in infection-fighting vitamin C. They also contain iron, potassium, vitamin B6, and beta carotene. Elderberries are packed with flavonols, phenolic acids, and anthocyanins, antioxidant plant compounds that can help reduce damage from oxidative stress in the body and reduce inflammation.

For Colds & Flu

One study suggests that elderberry extract could shorten the duration of the flu by up to four days. Another study of 60 people with the flu found that those who took 15 ml of elderberry syrup four times a day showed an improvement in flu symptoms in two to four days, while the control group took seven or eight days to improve.

Other research shows that elderberry improved flu symptoms including fever, headache, muscle aches, and nasal congestion after just 24 hours. Elderberries help reduce swelling in mucous membranes like the sinuses to help relieve nasal congestion, making it helpful for both colds and the flu.

Support Heart Health

Elderberries’ potent antioxidant effects may also have a positive impact on heart health. The anthocyanins they contain have been found to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, and studies suggest that elderberries may reduce the level of fat in the blood and lower cholesterol.

Animal studies find that the polyphenols in elderberries lowered blood pressure, and the animals were less susceptible to organ damage caused by high blood pressure. Elderberry can also increase insulin secretion and improve blood sugar control. Since type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for heart and vascular disease, this is important for preventing these conditions.

Choosing a Supplement

Elderberries are available in a variety of forms, from syrup to gummies and capsules. Look for an elderberry supplement containing organic elderberries that were grown without the use of toxic pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides. When choosing elderberry syrup, opt for a formula that does not contain added sugars.

Some doctors recommend avoiding elderberries if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, so talk to your health care practitioner before taking an elderberry supplement if you’re an expectant or new mom.


© 2018 GeniusCentral

Depression, Alzheimer's Might Be Part of Same Process in Some Aging Brains: Study

Posted August 16, 2019


MONDAY, Aug. 12, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- New research is untangling the complex relationship between symptoms of depression and losses in memory and thinking that often emerge together with Alzheimer's disease.


In fact, the new data suggests that "depression symptoms themselves may be among the early changes in the preclinical stages of dementia syndromes," explained study lead author Dr. Jennifer Gatchel. She works in the division of geriatric psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.


In the study, researchers examined brain scans and other data gathered over seven years from 276 older adults enrolled in the Harvard Aging Brain Study. All of the participants were still living independently in the community at the beginning of the study and were considered healthy.


However, the analysis revealed a significant link between worsening depression symptoms and mental decline over two to seven years, and both of these trends seemed to be linked to a buildup of amyloid protein in brain tissue.


The slow accumulation of amyloid has long been known as a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.


"Our research found that even modest levels of brain amyloid deposition can impact the relationship between depression symptoms and cognitive [thinking] abilities," Gatchel said in a hospital news release.


The new insight that depression symptoms might be part of the Alzheimer's process could further research into the prevention or treatment of the illness, she added.


It "raises the possibility that depression symptoms could be targets in clinical trials aimed at delaying the progression of Alzheimer's disease," Gatchel said, so "further research is needed in this area."


The researchers stressed that not all older adults with depression and amyloid buildup will have memory and thinking declines, however. That suggests that other factors -- for example, brain metabolism, or the volume of the brain's memory center, the hippocampus -- could link depression and mental decline.



Other mechanisms -- including brain degeneration caused by the protein tau (another protein long associated with Alzheimer's), high blood pressure and inflammation -- might play a role and need to be investigated.


Overall, the findings suggest that depression could have multiple causes and might also "work synergistically with amyloid and related processes to affect cognition over time in older adults," Gatchel said.


Two experts in brain health agreed that the study could further dementia research and treatment.


"This is very helpful research in that it identifies behavioral manifestations that may precede a diagnosis of dementia," said Brittany LeMonda, a clinical neuropsychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "It may alert providers to look into mood changes and depression as early symptoms of an underlying dementia and may allow patients to be diagnosed earlier," she added.


"Whereas in the past, depression and dementia were viewed as separate conditions that could co-occur in the same individual, we have learned now that mood and cognitive symptoms may actually be symptoms of the same underlying condition with shared pathology," LeMonda explained.


Dr. Gayatri Devi is a neurologist and psychiatrist who specializes in memory disorders at Northwell Health in New York City. She said that "depression has long been known to be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, but one question that clinicians contend with is whether depression is a symptom of cognitive loss or whether it is the cognitive impairment that leads to depression."


The new research gets closer to solving that puzzle, Devi said, "and underscores that not only is it important to treat late-life depression, physicians should also be alert to, and evaluate for, cognitive loss in such persons and address that separately, as well."


The new research was published online Aug. 9 in JAMA Network Open.


-- Robert Preidt


Copyright © 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Obesity and 'Spare Tire' Raise Hispanics' Odds for Early Death

Posted August 16, 2019


By Serena Gordon

HealthDay Reporter


MONDAY, Aug. 12, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Excess weight, especially a "spare tire" around the middle, increases the risk of an earlier death for Hispanics, a large new study suggests.


The study found that for every 5 point increase in body mass index above 25, the risk of dying prematurely went up by 30%.


Body mass index (BMI) is an estimate of a person's fat levels based on height and weight. BMI that falls between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. Anything over 30 is obese. So if you jump from overweight to obese, the study found that your risk of dying during the study period went up by 30%.


This study's findings run counter to some past research that suggested that unlike other population groups, Hispanics didn't appear at risk of obesity's most serious effect -- dying prematurely. This phenomenon was dubbed the "Hispanic paradox."


But the researchers explained that findings from some past research may have been skewed if they didn't take into account the rapid weight loss that can be caused by certain chronic diseases, such as diabetes.


"There is no Hispanic paradox. Overweight and obesity are major causes of death in Hispanic populations, just as they are in non-Hispanic populations," said study author Jonathan Emberson. He's an associate professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.


Dr. Joel Zonszein is director of the clinical diabetes center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. He wasn't involved in the current research but summed up the study's findings: "Fat is bad, no matter what type. People who have obesity are at a very high risk of cardiovascular disease events and premature deaths."


Zonszein agreed there is no Hispanic paradox. He said excess fat in anyone can increase the risk of early death, especially fat carried around the middle.


There are a number of ways a higher BMI can be linked to an increased risk of premature death.


"Among other things, higher BMI increases the risk of developing diabetes, increases blood pressure and blood cholesterol and damages the kidneys, all of which increase the risk of premature death," Emberson explained.


He added that fat around the middle is a significant problem because it can surround some of the major internal organs like the liver and kidneys, affecting their ability to work normally.


The study included more than 115,000 people from Mexico City. They were 35 to 75 years old when recruited. The researchers followed their health for up to 14 years.


The study excluded anyone with a diagnosis of diabetes or a blood test result indicating diabetes. The researchers also excluded anyone with known chronic diseases.


In addition to height and weight measurements to calculate BMI, the researchers also measured the volunteers' waist circumference and their waist-to-hip ratio. These measurements help doctors know how much abdominal fat someone has.


The average BMI was 28 in men and 29.6 in women -- overweight, but not obese.


The association between BMI and risk of death during the study period was higher (40%) for people 40 to 60 years old. For those 60 and over, a 5 point increase in BMI above 25 was tied to a 24% increase in death risk, the findings showed.


The researchers said that waist measurements were also associated with a similarly increased risk of dying. And even when the researchers controlled for BMI, a larger waistline was still linked to a higher risk of premature death.


Emberson said this finding suggests "that central obesity is particularly harmful."


Findings from the study were published Aug. 12 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.


Copyright © 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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