Category Archives: Nutrition

No More Pricks: Trading blood tests for tear tests?

Here at A4M, we are all about moving forward into the future of medical care. How many years have we been drawing blood to detect health and nutritional deficiencies in our makeup?
Too many.

We are actually starting to see that this may now change. We may have figured out that we may not need to be pricked by a needle to get tested.
A study now suggests that tears could be considered an alternate source of diagnostic fluid for testing for nutritional deficiencies.

Researchers from Michigan Technological University in partnership with UP Health System -Portage in Michigan have determined that tears are not only easier to produce than blood, but tears are also easier to work with when analyzing as a fluid.

Maryam Khaksari, study author and research specialist at Michigan Tech, said studies show that people with nutritional deficiencies blink more than those without deficiencies. “We hypothesized that nutrients are transferred to the living cells of your cornea through your tears,” Khaksari said. “We would like to translate the information we have for blood to tears. In this paper, we did show that there are correlations between vitamin concentrations in tears and blood – so it’s possible.”

The researchers involved in this study retrieved samples of both tears and blood from 15 different families that each had a four-month-old child. The samples taken from a child and a parent were then compared between tears and blood, infants and their parents, and against self-reported dietary intakes.

Multiple vitamins were all detected in both the tears and blood, and although Vitamin A was only found in the blood samples, researchers claim this is only the beginning. This project is the first step which proved vitamins are detectable in tears, and that they do correlate with blood levels. “Our goal was to seek the viability of establishing measurable vitamin concentrations in tears for nutritional assessments,” Khaksari said. “Your body cannot manufacture vitamins, and vitamins reflect available food sources in your body. That’s what makes them good indicators of nutritional health.”

We fully understand that this is only the start of the discussion regarding the trade of blood for tears, but we are very excited to follow this research and report back to all of our followers that there may be a day where we don’t have to have a needle draw blood to determine everything!

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Nutrition Education in Medical School

Recent statistics show that more than two-thirds of Americans are considered to be overweight or obese. With diabetes and obesity on the rise, in addition to spikes in other lifestyle-related diseases, it has become critical to highlight the necessity of self-care and healthy living habits. Yet while physicians are generally considered to be reliable sources regarding nutrition, more than 50% of graduating medical students continue to rate their knowledge as ‘inadequate,’ and only one in eight patients receives counseling from their doctors on dietary health benefits.

A study designed to quantify the required number of hours of nutrition education at U.S. medical schools, in addition to an investigation regarding the types of courses offered, reaffirmed the supposition that medical students receive an inadequate amount of nutrition education. Only 27% of surveyed schools required a course dedicated to nutrition; on average, U.S. medical schools only offer 19.6 hours of nutrition education—across four years of medical school.

A 2016 study in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health assessed the basic nutritional knowledge of fourth-year medical and osteopathic school graduates entering a pediatric residency program. On average, the incoming interns were only able to answer 52% of the 18 questions correctly. Marion Nestle, a renowned professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, chalks much of this up to the fact that there is a primary focus on treating–rather than preventing–diseases.

Throughout the past several decades, there has been a push towards improving the medical nutrition education that students receive. With suboptimal knowledge about dietary habits, future physicians are selling both themselves and their patients very short. It is imperative to equip health practitioners with the necessary tools and information that they can utilize in their practices, ultimately addressing the root causes of real, pervasive problems.

Learn more about our Fellowship in Metabolic & Nutritional Medicine, which offers a new form of medicine that is personalized, preventive, and predictive. Begin your journey to a new standard of medical education rooted in wellness and health.

Earn up to 24 CME credits, live or online, with our Module dedicated to nutrition and exercise.

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The Power of Ginger

A new review published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences assesses findings of 60 studies surrounding ginger—as a supplement, or ingredient in food and drink. Although experts have not yet determined a specific dosage for preventive purposes, the review concludes that ginger consumption is medically sound and helpful.

The studies “have built a consensus that ginger and its major constituents exert beneficial effects against obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and related disorders,” wrote authors from China Agricultural University. The researchers focused their studies on the different aspects of metabolic syndrome—a combination of three or more risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Metabolic syndrome now affects almost a quarter of the world’s population: a growing health problem that has reached reportedly pandemic proportions.

Scientists have researched potential strategies in order to both prevent and treat metabolic syndrome, specifically non-pharmaceutical options. As ginger has a long history of treating a variety of ailments and illnesses, due to its phytochemicals and antioxidants, the general consensus is that there are several mechanisms behind ginger’s ‘superfood powers.’ The paper details the ways in which the spice plays a significant role in fat burning, carbohydrate digestion, and insulin secretion; ginger has also demonstrated an ability to inhibit oxidative stress—a form of cellular aging—in addition to anti-inflammatory properties.

During a study in which ginger was fed to rats, ginger significantly reduced body weight and systemic inflammation, while simultaneously lowering cholesterol and blood sugar. The accumulation of studies suggest that consuming ginger can also enhance calorie burn and reduce feelings of hunger, likely associated with weight loss in overweight adults. Associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University Marie-Pierre St-Onge states that while the field is still developing in terms of assessing the impact of various spices, on humans, “The research is very promising.”

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