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Salmon and Leek Baked in Parchment

Ingredients

4 sheets parchment paper
4 salmon fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each
1 bunch leeks, washed well and sliced thin
dry white wine
olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bunch chervil or other fresh herb, chopped
melted butter

Method

  1. Heat oven to 350°.
  2. Fold a large sheet of parchment paper in half and cut out a heart shape about 3 inches larger than fish fillet.
  3. Place the fillet near the fold, and place a handful of leeks next to it. Drizzle the fish with the wine and olive oil, and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and chervil.
  4. Brush edges of parchment paper with melted butter, fold paper to enclose fish, and make small overlapping folds to seal the edges, starting at curve of heart. Be sure each fold overlaps the one before it so that there are no gaps.
  5. Brush the outside of the package with melted butter. Repeat with rest of fillets.
  6. Put packages on a baking sheet and bake until paper is puffed and brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: What to Have for Dinner

Hormone: Testosterone

Testosterone is a hormone that is responsible for many of the physical characteristics specific to adult males. It plays a key role in reproduction and the maintenance of bone and muscle strength.

What is testosterone?

Testosterone is produced by the gonads (by the Leydig cells in testes in men and by the ovaries in women), although small quantities are also produced by the adrenal glands in both sexes. It is an androgen, meaning that it stimulates the development of male characteristics.

Present in much greater levels in men than women, testosterone initiates the development of the male internal and external reproductive organs during foetal development and is essential for the production of sperm in adult life. This hormone also signals the body to make new blood cells, ensures that muscles and bones stay strong during and after puberty and enhances libido both in men and women. Testosterone is linked to many of the changes seen in boys during puberty (including an increase in height, body and pubic hair growth, enlargement of the penis, testes and prostate gland, and changes in sexual and aggressive behaviour). It also regulates the secretion of luteinising hormone and follicle stimulating hormone. To effect these changes, testosterone is often converted into another androgen called dihydrotestosterone.

In women, testosterone is produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands. The majority of testosterone produced in the ovary is converted to the principle female sex hormone, oestradiol.

How is testosterone controlled?

The regulation of testosterone production is tightly controlled to maintain normal levels in blood, although levels are usually highest in the morning and fall after that. The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland are important in controlling the amount of testosterone produced by the testes. In response to gonadotrophin-releasing hormone from the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland produces luteinising hormone which travels in the bloodstream to the gonads and stimulates the production and release of testosterone.

As blood levels of testosterone increase, this feeds back to suppress the production of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone from the hypothalamus which, in turn, suppresses production of luteinising hormone by the pituitary gland. Levels of testosterone begin to fall as a result, so negative feedback decreases and the hypothalamus resumes secretion of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone.

What happens if I have too much testosterone?

The effect excess testosterone has on the body depends on both age and sex. It is unlikely that adult men will develop a disorder in which they produce too much testosterone and it is often difficult to spot that an adult male has too much testosterone. More obviously, young children with too much testosterone may enter a false growth spurt and show signs of early puberty and young girls may experience abnormal changes to their genitalia. In both males and females, too much testosterone can lead to precocious puberty and result in infertility.

In women, high blood levels of testosterone may also be an indicator of polycystic ovary syndrome. Women with this condition may notice increased acne, body and facial hair (called hirsutism), balding at the front of the hairline, increased muscle bulk and a deepening voice.

There are also several conditions that cause the body to produce too much testosterone. These include androgen resistance, congenital adrenal hyperplasia and ovarian cancer.

The use of anabolic steroids (manufactured androgenic hormones) shuts down the release of luteinising hormone and follicle stimulating hormone secretion from the pituitary gland, which in turn decreases the amount of testosterone and sperm produced within the testes. In men, prolonged exposure to anabolic steroids results in infertility, a decreased sex drive, shrinking of the testes and breast development. Liver damage may result from its prolonged attempts to detoxify the anabolic steroids. Behavioural changes (such as increased irritability) may also be observed. Undesirable reactions also occur in women who take anabolic steroids regularly, as a high concentration of testosterone, either natural or manufactured, can cause masculinisation (virilisation) of women.

What happens if I have too little testosterone?

If testosterone deficiency occurs during fetal development, then male characteristics may not completely develop. If testosterone deficiency occurs during puberty, a boy’s growth may slow and no growth spurt will be seen. The child may have reduced development of pubic hair, growth of the penis and testes, and deepening of the voice. Around the time of puberty, boys with too little testosterone may also have less than normal strength and endurance, and their arms and legs may continue to grow out of proportion with the rest of their body.

In adult men, low testosterone may lead to a reduction in muscle bulk, loss of body hair and a wrinkled ‘parchment-like’ appearance of the skin. Testosterone levels in men decline naturally as they age. In the media, this is sometimes referred to as the male menopause (andropause).

Low testosterone levels can cause mood disturbances, increased body fat, loss of muscle tone, inadequate erections and poor sexual performance, osteoporosis, difficulty with concentration, memory loss and sleep difficulties. Current research suggests that this effect occurs in only a minority (about 2%) of ageing men. However, there is a lot of research currently in progress to find out more about the effects of testosterone in older men and also whether the use of testosterone replacement therapy would have any benefits.

Source: Society for Endocrinology

Weight Gain and Loss May Worsen Dementia Risk in Older People

Older people who experience significant weight gain or weight loss could be raising their risk of developing dementia, suggests a study from Korea published today in the online journal BMJ Open.

Dementia is an important health problem especially with increasing life expectancy and an ageing population. In 2015, there were an estimated 46.8 million people diagnosed with dementia.

Meanwhile, the global prevalence of obesity, which is closely related to cardiometabolic diseases, has increased by more than 100% over the past four decades.

There is existing evidence of a possible association between cardiometabolic risk factors (such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels) and dementia. However, the association between body mass index (BMI) in late-life and dementia risk remains unclear.

Therefore, a team of researchers from the Republic of Korea set out to investigate the association between BMI changes over a two-year period and dementia in an elderly Korean population.

They examined 67,219 participants aged 60-79 years who underwent BMI measurement in 2002-2003 and 2004-2005 as part of the National Health Insurance Service-Health Screening Cohort in the country.

At the start of the study period, characteristics were measured including BMI, socioeconomic status and cardiometabolic risk factors.

The difference between BMI at the start of the study period and at the next health screening (2004-2005) was used to calculate the change in BMI.

After two years, the incidence of dementia was monitored for an average 5.3 years from 2008 to 2013.

During the 5.3 years of follow-up time, the numbers of men and women with dementia totaled 4,887 and 6,685, respectively.

Results showed that there appeared to be a significant association between late-life BMI changes and dementia in both sexes.

Rapid weight change – a 10% or higher increase or decrease in BMI – over a two-year period was associated with a higher risk of dementia compared with a person with a stable BMI.

However, the BMI at the start of the period was not associated with dementia incidence in either sex, with the exception of low body weight in men.

After breaking down the figures based on BMI at the start of the study period, the researchers found a similar association between BMI change and dementia in the normal weight subgroup, but the pattern of this association varied in other BMI ranges.

Cardiometabolic risk factors including pre-existing hypertension, congestive heart failure, diabetes and high fasting blood sugar were significant risk factors for dementia.

In particular, patients with high fasting blood sugar had a 1.6-fold higher risk of developing dementia compared to individuals with normal or pre-high fasting blood sugar.

In addition, unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking, frequent drinking and less physical activity in late life were also associated with dementia.

This is an observational study, so can’t establish cause, and the researchers point to some limitations, including uncertainty around the accuracy of the definition of dementia and reliance on people’s self-reported lifestyle habits, which may not be accurate.

However, the study included a large amount of data and reported various modifiable risk factors of dementia in late life.

As such, the researchers conclude: “Both weight gain and weight loss may be significant risk factors associated with dementia. This study revealed that severe weight gain, uncontrolled diabetes, smoking and less physical activity in late-life had a detrimental effect on dementia development.

“Our results suggest that continuous weight control, disease management and the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle are beneficial in the prevention of dementia, even in later life.”

Source: EurekAlert!

Walking and Strength Training May Decrease the Risk of Dying from Liver Disease

Physical activity, including walking and muscle-strengthening activities, were associated with significantly reduced risk of cirrhosis-related death, according to research presented at Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) 2019. Chronic liver disease is increasing, partly due to the obesity epidemic, and currently there are no guidelines for the optimal type of exercise for the prevention of cirrhosis-related mortality. Researchers hope these findings will help provide specific exercise recommendations for patients at risk for cirrhosis and its complications.

“The benefit of exercise is not a new concept, but the impact of exercise on mortality from cirrhosis and from liver cancer has not yet been explored on this scale,” said Tracey Simon, MD, lead researcher on the study and instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. “Our findings show that both walking and strength training contribute to substantial reductions in risk of cirrhosis-related death, which is significant because we know very little about modifiable risk factors.”

Dr. Simon and her team prospectively followed 68,449 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 48,748 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, without known liver disease at baseline. Participants provided highly accurate data on physical activity, including type and intensity, every two years from 1986 through 2012, which allowed researchers to prospectively examine the association between physical activity and cirrhosis-related death.

Researchers observed that adults in the highest quintile of weekly walking activity had 73 percent lower risk for cirrhosis-related death than those in the lowest quintile. Further risk reduction was observed with combined walking and muscle-strengthening exercises.

Previous research has been limited to studies that assessed physical activity at just one point in time, or studies with very short-term follow-up. This was the first prospective study in a large U.S. population to include detailed and updated measurements of physical activity over such a prolonged period, which allowed researchers to more precisely estimate the relationship between physical activity and liver-related outcomes.

“In the U.S., mortality due to cirrhosis is increasing dramatically, with rates expected to triple by the year 2030. In the face of this alarming trend, information on modifiable risk factors that might prevent liver disease is needed,” said Dr. Simon. “Our findings support further research to define the optimal type and intensity of physical activity to prevent adverse outcomes in patients at risk for cirrhosis.”

Source: Digestive Disease Week


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