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Scientists Link Processed Foods To Autoimmune Disease

The modern diet of processed foods, takeaways and microwave meals could be to blame for a sharp increase in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, including alopecia, asthma and eczema.

A team of scientists from Yale University in the U.S and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, in Germany, say junk food diets could be partly to blame.

'This study is the first to indicate that excess refined and processed salt may be one of the environmental factors driving the increased incidence of autoimmune diseases,' they said.

Junk foods at fast food restaurants as well as processed foods at grocery retailers represent the largest sources of sodium intake from refined salts. 

The Canadian Medical Association Journal sent out an international team of researchers to compare the salt content of 2,124 items from fast food establishments such as Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Subway. They found that the average salt content varied between companies and between the same products sold in different countries. 

U.S. fast foods are often more than twice as salt-laden as those of other countries. While government-led public health campaigns and legislation efforts have reduced refined salt levels in many countries, the U.S. government has been reluctant to press the issue. That’s left fast-food companies free to go salt crazy, says Norm Campbell, M.D., one of the study authors and a blood-pressure specialist at the University of Calgary.

Many low-fat foods rely on salt—and lots of it—for their flavor. One packet of KFC’s Marzetti Light Italian Dressing might only have 15 calories and 0.5 grams fat, but it also has 510 mg sodium—about 1.5 times as much as one Original Recipe chicken drumstick. (Feel like you’re having too much of a good thing? You probably are.

Bread is the No. 1 source of refined salt consumption in the American diet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just one 6-inch Roasted Garlic loaf from Subway—just the bread, no meat, no cheeses, no nothing—has 1,260 mg sodium, about as much as 14 strips of bacon.

How Refined Salt Causes Autoimmune Disease

The team from Yale University studied the role of T helper cells in the body. These activate and ‘help’ other cells to fight dangerous pathogens such as bacteria or viruses and battle infections.

Previous research suggests that a subset of these cells - known as Th17 cells - also play an important role in the development of autoimmune diseases. 

In the latest study, scientists discovered that exposing these cells in a lab to a table salt solution made them act more ‘aggressively.’

They found that mice fed a diet high in refined salts saw a dramatic increase in the number of Th17 cells in their nervous systems that promoted inflammation.

They were also more likely to develop a severe form of a disease associated with multiple sclerosis in humans.

The scientists then conducted a closer examination of these effects at a molecular level.

Laboratory tests revealed that salt exposure increased the levels of cytokines released by Th17 cells 10 times more than usual. Cytokines are proteins used to pass messages between cells.

Study co-author Ralf Linker, from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, said: ‘These findings are an important contribution to the understanding of multiple sclerosis and may offer new targets for a better treatment of the disease, for which at present there is no cure.’

It develops when the immune system mistakes the myelin that surrounds the nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord for a foreign body. 

It strips the myelin off the nerves fibres, which disrupts messages passed between the brain and body causing problems with speech, vision and balance.

Another of the study’s authors, Professor David Hafler, from Yale University, said that nature had clearly not intended for the immune system to attack its host body, so he expected that an external factor was playing a part.

He said: ‘These are not diseases of bad genes alone or diseases caused by the environment, but diseases of a bad interaction between genes and the environment.

'Humans were genetically selected for conditions in sub-Saharan Africa, where there was no salt. It's one of the reasons that having a particular gene may make African Americans much more sensitive to salt.

'Today, Western diets all have high salt content and that has led to increase in hypertension and perhaps autoimmune disease as well.'

The team next plan to study the role that Th17 cells play in autoimmune conditions that affect the skin.

'It would be interesting to find out if patients with psoriasis can alleviate their symptoms by reducing their salt intake,' they said.

'However, the development of autoimmune diseases is a very complex process which depends on many genetic and environmental factors.'

Stick to Good Salts

Refined, processed and bleached salts are the problem. Salt is critical to our health and is the most readily available nonmetallic mineral in the world. Our bodies are not designed to processed refined sodium chloride since it has no nutritional value. However, when a salt is filled with dozens of minerals such as in rose-coloured crystals of Himalayan rock salt or the grey texture of Celtic salt, our bodies benefit tremendously for their incorporation into our diet.

"These mineral salts are identical to the elements of which our bodies have been built and were originally found in the primal ocean from where life originated," argues Dr Barbara Hendel, researcher and co-author of Water & Salt, The Essence of Life. "We have salty tears and salty perspiration. The chemical and mineral composition of our blood and body fluids are similar to sea water. From the beginning of life, as unborn babies, we are encased in a sack of salty fluid." 

"In water, salt dissolves into mineral ions," explains Dr Hendel. "These conduct electrical nerve impulses that drive muscle movement and thought processes. Just the simple act of drinking a glass of water requires millions of instructions that come from mineral ions. They’re also needed to balance PH levels in the body."

Mineral salts, she says, are healthy because they give your body the variety of mineral ions needed to balance its functions, remain healthy and heal. These healing properties have long been recognised in central Europe. At Wieliczka in Poland, a hospital has been carved in a salt mountain. Asthmatics and patients with lung disease and allergies find that breathing air in the saline underground chambers helps improve symptoms in 90 per cent of cases.

Dr Hendel believes too few minerals, rather than too much salt, may be to blame for health problems. It’s a view that is echoed by other academics such as David McCarron, of Oregon Health Sciences University in the US.

He says salt has always been part of the human diet, but what has changed is the mineral content of our food. Instead of eating food high in minerals, such as nuts, fruit and vegetables, people are filling themselves up with “mineral empty” processed food and fizzy drinks. 

Posted on Sunday, March 10th 2013

Source nature.com

Harvard: Giving thanks can make you happier

November kicks off the holiday season with high expectations for a cozy and festive time of year. However, for many this time of year is tinged with sadness, anxiety, or depression. Certainly, major depression or a severe anxiety disorder benefits most from professional help. But what about those who just feel lost or overwhelmed or down at this time of year? Research (and common sense) suggests that one aspect of the Thanksgiving season can actually lift the spirits, and it’s built right into the holiday — expressing gratitude.

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia , which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. They can apply it to the past (retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of childhood or past blessings), the present (not taking good fortune for granted as it comes), and the future (maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude). Regardless of the inherent or current level of someone’s gratitude, it’s a quality that individuals can successfully cultivate further.

Research on gratitude

Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.

One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

Another leading researcher in this field, Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories. When their week’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.

Of course, studies such as this one cannot prove cause and effect. But most of the studies published on this topic support an association between gratitude and an individual’s well-being.

Other studies have looked at how gratitude can improve relationships. For example, a study of couples found that individuals who took time to express gratitude for their partner not only felt more positive toward the other person but also felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship.

Managers who remember to say “thank you” to people who work for them may find that those employees feel motivated to work harder. Researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania randomly divided university fund-raisers into two groups. One group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations in the same way they always had. The second group — assigned to work on a different day — received a pep talk from the director of annual giving, who told the fund-raisers she was grateful for their efforts. During the following week, the university employees who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not.

There are some notable exceptions to the generally positive results in research on gratitude. One study found that middle-aged divorced women who kept gratitude journals were no more satisfied with their lives than those who did not. Another study found that children and adolescents who wrote and delivered a thank-you letter to someone who made a difference in their lives may have made the other person happier — but did not improve their own well-being. This finding suggests that gratitude is an attainment associated with emotional maturity.

Ways to cultivate gratitude

Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.

Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis.

Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.

Thank someone mentally. No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.

Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you’ve received each day.

Count your blessings. Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.

Pray. People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude.

Meditate. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Although people often focus on a word or phrase (such as “peace”), it is also possible to focus on what you’re grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.).

Posted on Wednesday, November 23rd 2011

Source health.harvard.edu

A healthy Thanksgiving?

Friends, 

We know that Thanksgiving can be a challenging holiday when you are watching what you eat and, most importantly, what you don’t eat. If you are brining some dishes to a family celebration or cooking yourself, we suggest that you take a look at these great ideas from Mark Bittman over at the New York Times. Although we would suggest staying away from the desserts, you might surprise your family with some healthy dishes like a beet or butternut squash salad. 

You can check out the cooking videos here.

Our team at Talita Kum Clinic wishes you all a great and healthy Thanksgiving!

Sincerely, 

Talita Kum Clinic

Posted on Tuesday, November 22nd 2011

Source The New York Times

A mayor consumo de frutas y verduras, menor riesgo de fibroides

Por Genevra Pittman NUEVA YORK (Reuters Health) - En un estudio sobre más de 20.000 afroamericanas de Estados Unidos, las consumidoras de dos o más porciones diarias de frutas eran menos propensas a desarrollar fibroides uterinos que las que apenas probaban esos alimentos.

Los fibroides no siempre producen síntomas, pero pueden causar dolor o hacer que el período sea más prolongado y abundante. En algunos casos, pueden causar complicaciones en el embarazo y la fertilidad.

Las afroamericanas son hasta tres veces más propensas que las blancas a desarrollarlos.

El equipo de Lauren Wise, de la Boston University, estudió a un grupo de mujeres de 30 años durante más de una década para determinar si el consumo de frutas y verduras influía de alguna manera en la probabilidad de desarrollar esos crecimientos no cancerosos en el tejido uterino.

"Muchas mujeres asumen que tener fibroides, y sus síntomas, es algo que no se puede evitar", dijo la doctora Elizabeth Stewart, de la Clínica Mayo, en Rochester, Minnesota, y que no participó del estudio.

"Aunque no queda demostrado que modificar la alimentación reduzca el riesgo de desarrollarlos, sí revela una relación entre la dieta y los fibroides. Una alimentación saludable, rica en frutas y verduras es buena para la salud general y podría serlo para (evitar) los fibroides", agregó.

Los resultados del estudio surgen de las participantes del ensayo Black Women’s Health Study que desde 1995 informaron con qué frecuencia ingerían distintos alimentos. Los cuestionarios anuales registraron también cuántos diagnósticos recibían las participantes.

Según las respuestas, al 29 por ciento de las 23.000 mujeres se les diagnosticaron fibroides uterinos entre 1997 y el 2009.

Las consumidoras de por lo menos cuatro porciones diarias de frutas y verduras eran un 10 por ciento menos propensas a desarrollar fibroides que las que ingerían menos de una porción diaria.

Cuando el equipo analizó por separado el consumo de frutas y verduras, observó que las que ingerían dos o más porciones diarias de frutas, por ejemplo, eran un 11 por ciento menos propensas a decir que habían desarrollado fibroides que las que consumían dos porciones semanales, según publica el equipo en American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

El equipo no halló relación entre la cantidad de vitamina C o E, folato o fibra consumida y el riesgo de desarrollar fibroides, pero los resultados sugieren que ingerir más vitamina A de productos lácteos también estaría asociado con una reducción del riesgo de tener fibroides.

Wise sugirió que los antioxidantes de las frutas reducirían ese riesgo quizás al influir en la función de los esteroides sexuales, como el estrógeno del organismo.

"Nuestro estudio sugiere que (la prevención de) los fibroides uterinos ya se puede sumar a la lista de efectos potencialmente beneficiosos para la salud de un mayor consumo de frutas y verduras", indicó.

Por su parte, Stewart dijo: “La genética de los fibroides podría variar según la etnia. Además, hay otros factores que influyen en la aparición de los fibroides que sí dependen de la etnia (…) Pero, hasta ahora, nadie pudo explicar la gran brecha en la prevalencia y los síntomas”.

FUENTE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, diciembre del 2011

Posted on Tuesday, November 22nd 2011

Source nlm.nih.gov

¿Tiene hipertensión? El kiwi podría ayudar

Un pequeño estudio halló que tres kiwis al día reducían los niveles más que una manzana al día MARTES, 15 de noviembre (HealthDay News) — Una manzana al día no necesariamente garantiza no tener que ir al médico, pero quizás tres kiwis ayuden, al menos según un pequeño estudio que ha mostrado que la peluda fruta marrón podría ayudar a reducir los niveles de presión arterial.

Los hombres y las mujeres con hipertensión leve que comieron tres kiwis al día durante ocho semanas tenían niveles de presión arterial sistólica 3.6 milímetros de mercurio más baja que los voluntarios que comieron una manzana al día. La presión arterial sistólica es el número superior en una medida de la presión arterial.

Los kiwis son pequeños, pero su verde carne es muy nutritiva. Son ricos en luteína, un potente antioxidante, y quizás eso sea responsable de sus poderes para reducir la presión, dijeron investigadores liderados por Mette Svendsen del Hospital Universitario de Oslo, en Noruega. El estudio fue presentado el martes en la reunión anual de la American Heart Association en Orlando, Florida.

Los cardiólogos advirtieron rápidamente que no hay un solo alimento o ingrediente mágico que sea la clave de la salud cardiaca, pero todos concurrieron en que el kiwi podría tener un lugar en las cinco porciones diarias de frutas y verduras que actualmente se recomiendan como parte de una dieta saludable para el corazón.

El nuevo estudio incluyó a 50 hombres y 68 mujeres con una edad promedio de 55 años que se asignaron al azar a comer tres kiwis o una manzana al día durante ocho semanas. Al inicio del estudio, los participantes tenían una presión arterial en el rango ligeramente elevado de 128/85. Una presión arterial inferior a 120/80 se considera ideal. No cambiaron nada en la dieta excepto añadir la fruta. Los investigadores midieron la presión arterial mediante monitorización ambulatoria las 24 horas del día, que se cree es una forma más precisa de medición que en un solo momento del día.

El Hospital Universitario de Oslo financió el estudio.

"Tres kiwis al día mejoraron la presión arterial de 24 horas más que una manzana al día", concluyeron los investigadores.

Entonces, ¿es el kiwi la nueva fruta “milagrosa”?

"Es biológicamente verosímil, pero no correré a comer tres kiwis al día", señaló el Dr. Nehal Mehta, cardiólogo preventivo del Hospital de la Universidad de Pensilvania, en Filadelfia. "No son tan fáciles de encontrar como otras frutas".

La moderación es la clave con los kiwis o cualquier otra comida, apuntó. “Tres kiwis al día o 21 kiwis por semana no parece moderación, así que aconsejaría no comer tantos”, enfatizó.

El nuevo estudio “llama la atención sobre los kiwis”, comentó. “Cuando aconsejamos comer más fruta fresca, comemos la tradicional o cualquier cosa a la que se le pueda quitar la cáscara y agarrar con la mano, pero estos hallazgos sugieren que un kiwi puede ser parte de una dieta sana para el corazón”, apuntó.

Además, el estudio observó toda la fruta, no nutrientes individuales. No comience a tomar luteína como complemento basándose en estos resultados, anotó.

La Dra. Suzanne Steinbaum, cardióloga preventiva del Hospital Lenox Hill en la ciudad de Nueva York, estuvo de acuerdo. “El kiwi no es una fruta milagrosa, pero ciertamente añadirla a la dieta puede ayudar a reducir los niveles ligeramente elevados de presión arterial”.

El Dr. Elliott M. Antman, profesor de medicina de la Facultad de medicina de la Universidad de Harvard en Boston, dijo que aunque es promisorio, el nuevo estudio es pequeño. “No cuente con que esto sea la respuesta completa a la hipertensión”, dijo. Haga lo que haga, “no deje de tomar antihipertensivos sin hablar con el médico”, añadió.

Debido a que este estudio se presentó en una reunión médica, sus datos y conclusiones deben ser considerados como preliminares hasta que se publiquen en una revista revisada por profesionales.


Artículo por HealthDay, traducido por Hispanicare

Posted on Tuesday, November 22nd 2011

Source nlm.nih.gov