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Tips on Complementary Health Practices

What are the five things you should know about dietary supplements? You can learn the answer to that question and more in a new monthly series of "Time to Talk" tips. The easy-to-read information is meant to encourage people to talk with their health provider if they are considering using complementary medicine. Products and practices that are not part of standard care are considered complementary medicine — herbal medicine and acupuncture are examples. NIH's National Center on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) created the "Time to Talk" campaign. The monthly tips can be found on the "Time to Talk" web page at http://nccam.nih.gov/timetotalk.

Remember This:  Nutrients in Fish May Boost Memory

If you want to stay sharp as you age, eat a diet with omega-3 fatty acids. That's a type of fat found in most fish, especially fatty fish like salmon and herring. Researchers from the Framingham Heart Study say a diet low in omega-3 fatty acids may cause your brain to age faster and lose some of its memory. The team reached that conclusion after studying more than 1,500 people with an average age of 67. People with low levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood scored lower on tests that measured memory and thinking ability than people with higher levels. Researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles led the study. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute on Aging at NIH helped fund the work.

Diet Linked to Form of Diabetes Seen During Pregnancy

A recent study finds that a diet high in animal fat and cholesterol may affect a woman's pregnancy. Researchers found that women who ate a lot of animal fat and cholesterol before becoming pregnant were at increased risk of developing gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes seen during pregnancy. "Our findings indicate that women who reduce the proportion of animal fat and cholesterol in their diets before pregnancy may lower their risk for gestational diabetes during pregnancy," said senior author Cuilin Zhang, MD, MPH, PhD, of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Two other NIH Institutes funded the research, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Suffering Sinuses: Antibiotics May Not Help Most Infections

Taking antibiotics for a basic sinus infection probably won't help. That's the conclusion of a new study. In it, people who took antibiotics did not recover faster or have fewer symptoms than people who took dummy pills. Researchers suggest health providers hold off on prescribing antibiotics for a sinus infection. Instead, they suggest treating pain, cough, congestion and other symptoms, and waiting to see if more action is needed. Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis conducted the study. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH funded the research.

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Walking Speed, Grip Strength May Predict Risk of Stroke, Dementia

Testing a person's walking speed and grip strength when they are middle-aged may help predict their risk of dementia and stroke. In the Framingham Heart Study, more than 2,400 men and women with an average age of 62 were tested and followed for up to 11 years. Preliminary findings showed that those who were fast walkers were less likely to develop dementia than those with a slower pace. A stronger grip was associated with a lower risk of stroke, but only for people in the study who were 65 and older. Three NIH Institutes funded the research: The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the National Institute on Aging.

A Taste for Salt May Start Very Young

New research provides something to think about when feeding your infant. The foods a baby eats in the first few months of life can shape his or her flavor preferences later in childhood, and even as an adult. Researchers took a close look at salt because past studies have shown too much salt is bad for our health; they found that babies exposed early to starchy, salty food developed a greater preference for salty taste by as early as six months of age. This preference for salt continued into pre-school. NIH's National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders funded the work, which was done by the Monell Chemical Senses Center.

NIH-Funded Study Recognized as a Breakthrough of the Year

An NIH-funded study on HIV prevention was named the 2011 Breakthrough of the Year by the journal Science. The study found that a type of medicine, called antiretroviral, can both treat HIV and prevent it from being spread between men and women. People infected with HIV who took the medication when they were relatively healthy, rather than when the disease has advanced, were 96 percent less likely to pass the virus to their uninfected partner. This study followed heterosexual couples in the United States and eight other countries. Investigators with the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill led the research. NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases funded the scientific breakthrough.

New Website Has Easy-To-Read Info on Drug Abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has launched a new Web site for people who read at an eighth-grade level or below. The web site has information about preventing and treating drug abuse. It's written in plain language, has a simple design, large text, videos and other features that make it easy to read and use. Go to www.easyread.drugabuse.gov

Spring 2012 Issue: Volume 7 Number 1 Page 27-28