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Health Talk Recommends: What’s so bad about gluten?

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If you’ve visited a grocery store or restaurant lately you’ve undoubtedly seen an increase in the amount of gluten-free food options available to you. The gluten-free food industry is exploding now, too, and according to a recent article in The New Yorker, by 2016 the gluten-free product industry will exceed $15 billion.

The article explains that gluten is one of the most commonly and heavily consumed proteins on earth, and has been for thousands of years. Gluten is created when two molecules, glutenin and gliadin, come into contact and form a bond. For the one percent of the American population with celiac disease, even the slightest exposure to gluten can trigger a violent immune system reaction that can damage the small intestine.

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Make a plan, but consider balance when it comes to Halloween candy

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One of the biggest candy days of the year is upon us, and parents and kids alike are trying to strike an accord on how much candy will be consumed in the coming days.

How much, really, is too much? And is there a magic formula families should follow to ensure the Halloween stash doesn’t lead to bigger problems later on?

According to pediatric dietician Laura Gearman, M.S., R.D., L.D., with the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, it’s a good idea to make a plan ahead of time and discuss it as a family but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to Halloween candy consumption.

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Health food movement stops short of vending machines

Photo courtesy Flickr user tkraska

Hungry and seeking a nutritious snack, vending consumers often find themselves struggling to locate a suitable selection. The lack of healthy options in vending machines has raised concerns among schools, public interest groups and public health researchers.

According to a recent article published in the Star Tribune, the health food movement stopped short of vending machines in public facilities. About 75 percent of items found in vending machines analyzed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest consisted of candy, cookies and chips. Similar trends are seen in beverage vending machines as 56 percent of the drinks are soda, and an additional 20 percent of drinks are energy or artificial fruit drinks.

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Research snapshot: Evidence based medicine applications can be applied to well-established interventions

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In science and medicine, doctors utilize many kinds of evidence when making health care decisions. Known within the medical community as evidence based medicine (EBM), one of the primary goals is to improve overall decisions by the individual physicians and care team. In a previous study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers argued that some things are so obvious that they do not require ongoing research and even ridiculed the practice of evidence-based medicine.

The example they provided was not needing to judge the effectiveness of a parachute when jumping out of an airplane.

And while that may seem logical because everyone “knows” a parachute helps to improve your chances of survival when jumping from an airplane, EBM can more accurately prove this to be true.

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Drug design for Parkinson’s disease starts here

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Were drug design a road, it would surely be a Minnesota street fraught with potholes, ice and gravel.

Even the best ideas can fall by the wayside somewhere between the lab and your corner pharmacy in the process of drug discovery and development.

Recently, University of Minnesota Center for Drug Design member, organic chemist and assistant professor Liqiang Chen, Ph.D., published a paper in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry outlining the discovery of a potent and selective protein-inhibitor. Blocking the protein, Sirtuin 2 (SIRT2), also has the potential to block a primary contributor to Parkinson’s disease from causing harm.

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U of M expert: Vaccination rates are good but we can do better

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released the latest vaccination numbers for more than 4.2 million kindergarteners across 49 states and the District of Columbia. The vaccination rate remains relatively high, but there are still pockets across the U.S. where vaccination rates are lower than they should be, leaving young unvaccinated children vulnerable to preventable, dangerous and potentially deadly diseases.

In a statement, the CDC said vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks can still occur where unvaccinated persons cluster in schools and communities.

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