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Spicing up foods may aid diabetics’ health

BY Melissa Valliant

ALEXANDRIA, Va. A recent study in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that the majority of spices and herbs seem to contain antioxidants that help lower inflammation caused by high blood sugar.

Twenty-four herbs and spices were tested and appear to be capable of preventing tissue damage and inflammation. Cloves, cinnamon, marjoram, sage, thyme, allspice, apple pie spice and pumpkin pie spice were among the most effective, though other spices and herbs still made an impact.

The researchers initially gained interest in such a study because of the high amount of antioxidants in herbs and spices. Between these antioxidants, the ability to inhibit tissue damage and their inexpensive prices, these food products prove they are an easy way to add a healthy element to meals.  

The study did not study the direct effect of herbs and spices on diabetics, and researchers are unsure how much is necessary for significant effects. “I say add as much herbs and spies as your taste buds and tummy can take,” Lona Sandon, national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association said. “Their potential for promoting health outweighs any risks, unless, of course, you have an allergy to a particular spice.”

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Fiber-packed foods on rise

BY Michael Johnsen

Got fiber?

It seems that more Americans are getting the message; fiber’s good for them and they just don’t get enough of it in their diets.

Sales of the top three fiber supplements—Metamucil, Benefiber and Citrucel—totaled $106.9 million across food, drug and mass (minus Wal-Mart) outlets for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 7, representing growth of 5.2 percent, according to Information Resources Inc.

And it’s not just the laxative benefits that are driving sales of fiber supplements; there have been quite a few promotional messages around the health benefits of fiber, beyond its use as a natural laxative. The American Heart Association, for example, cited the cholesterol-lowering benefits of fiber.

Kellogg in the past year has parlayed its success in promoting heart-healthy breakfast foods into a line of good-for-you meal-replacement bars. Most of those bars are positioned in the meal-replacement section of pharmacy operators, but at Wal-Mart, some of those fiber-fortified bars are being sold in the digestives aisle alongside Meta-mucil, Benefiber and Citrucel.

And GlaxoSmithKline recently sponsored a sampling event at select Wal-Marts in which the company’s Citrucel fiber supplements were offered to customers walking past Wal-Mart’s health-and-wellness area along with some literature on fiber health. GlaxoSmithKline was promoting its new fiber soft chew, a new delivery system for fiber supplements, available in chocolate and caramel flavors, according to the company. GlaxoSmithKline suggested consumers take four fiber chews per sitting.

Novartis Consumer Health also recently introduced a new delivery system to the fiber category—a stick-pack format, making it more convenient for on-the-go consumers to take up to 3 grams of fiber with their bottled water. The new fiber stick pack, part of the Benefiber family of products, is flavored cherry-pomegranate.

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Steal this column

BY DSN STAFF

I routinely take shots at politicos and policy wonks who I believe just don’t get it as it relates to the issues that matter to community pharmacy. So, it was refreshing to hear some of our country’s leaders talk about what e-prescribing could do to transform health care from the highly fragmented, robust and rapidly growing sector of the nation’s economy, as Leavitt noted during his opening comments, to a system where key stakeholders actually communicate.

Detractors have pointed to the privacy issue. That’s kind of silly, as Leavitt, and Carcieri before him, pointed out—granted, I am paraphrasing a bit here because that’s what it sounded like to me. The privacy issues around e-health are, in a word—one Carcieri actually used—solvable.

How can he be so sure? Every day billions of people use ATM cards in machines all over the world that are not part of the banks that hold their money, with a reasonable expectation that no one else will see their banking records.

While the overarching purpose of the event was no doubt to promote physician adoption of e-prescribing software, sometime during the course of the event it occurred to me that the real opportunity to drive e-prescribing is to get the consumer on board.

The reality, as Paul Cotton, a senior lobbyist for AARP, explained, is that “when consumers start to learn about it, they want it.” According to a recent survey of AARP members, 9-out-of-10 older Americans want e-prescribing to enable their doctors to:

But it’s more than just telling consumers the positive story about what e-prescribing means for them; I believe Americans need to understand the negative implications of not moving forward with widespread physician adoption as soon as possible and what it means as an important first step to the creation of a national healthcare information technology infrastructure—and what it means for America to continue to limp along without one.

Because as it stands right now, their personal health records and medical histories are captured in countless manila folders in the filing cabinets of every physician that has ever treated them. And guess what? They can’t talk to each other, and, as a result, each one is an incomplete record. Carcieri believes he has 30 or more manila folders of his own stored in doctors’ offices across Rhode Island.

That means if you got hit by a bus tomorrow, it is likely the ER would know nothing about you by the time you got there. “Meanwhile, FedEx can tell you where a package will be anywhere in the world three hours from now,” Carcieri said.

Tell that story to as many consumers as you can and see what happens with e-prescribing over the next few years. You can steal this column if you need to.

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