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Red Deer surgeons call on province to lift cap on joint replacements

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Doctors in Red Deer say their patients face unnecessarily long waits and are suffering needlessly because of a cap on funding for hip and knee replacements.

“Patients are so frustrated and dismayed by wait times here in central [Alberta],” said Red Deer orthopedic surgeon Dr. Keith Wolstenholme, whose patients wait an average of two years from the time they are referred to the time they get their joint replacements.

“That’s just too long.”

According to Wolstenholme, the long wait list is driven, in large part, by a limit on the number of joint replacements that are  publicly funded in the province of Alberta. There is no cap on other orthopedic surgeries.

“It’s not fair and its not equal access to care,” he said. “What we end up having is essentially discrimination based on diagnoses. So patients with hip and knee arthritis have a longer wait list than patients with other orthopedic complaints.”

That disadvantage is aggravated, he says, by an uneven distribution of dollars, with Red Deer getting less per capita funding for these procedures than Calgary and Edmonton.

Dr. Keith Wolstenholme says patients waiting for hip and knee replacements wait much longer than those needing other orthopedic surgeries because of the funding cap. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

According to the Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institute, during the 2017-2018 year, 678 non-emergency hip and knee replacements were performed at Red Deer Regional Hospital, which serves roughly half a million central Albertans. Calgary hospitals performed 3,821 and Edmonton hospitals completed 3,582.

Cap based on ‘need and capacity’

In a response emailed to CBC News, an Alberta Health spokesperson said 194 additional hip and knee surgeries for south and central Alberta were funded through the 2018 provincial budget. The spokesperson did not say how many of those went to Red Deer.

While the larger pool of funding comes from the provincial health department, the number of joint replacements each zone is allowed to perform annually is set out by Alberta Health Services (AHS).

“Volumes are based on need and capacity,” said the Alberta Health spokesperson in the emailed statement.

“Capacity is determined by available resources, including staffing, OR [operating room] space and equipment. AHS prioritizes surgeries provincially based on need, ensuring the ability to address and decrease wait times for all procedures including hips and knees.”

That explanation doesn’t sit well with those on the front lines.

“We don’t understand why the cap is there,” said Dr. Bryce Henderson, an orthopedic surgeon in Red Deer who regularly sees patients struggling with severe pain as they wait.

“People who have paid taxes their entire lives no longer seem to have coverage for the health services that they’ve already paid for,” he said. “They’re angry. They’re frustrated.”

Out of desperation, Henderson says, patients often go to Calgary or Edmonton, where they can get the surgery more quickly.

Or they go out of province — even out of the country — in search of relief.

Dr. Bryce Henderson, a Red Deer orthopedic surgeon, says he’s had patients go as far away as Mexico to get their hip or knee replacements because the waits in Red Deer are so long. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

‘I was done. I was finished’

Bradley McEwen knows what it’s like to wait for months on end: unable to work and housebound. Intense pain left the Red Deer man struggling both physically and mentally.

“[It] was to the point where I couldn’t get up the stairs. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t sit. I couldn’t lay. I couldn’t do anything. I was done, I was finished,” he said.

McEwen gave up waiting for his hip replacement when a family member offered to pay roughly $20,000 so he could have his surgery done at a private clinic in Laval, Que.

“And I walked away — no pain. As soon as they do the surgery, the pain stops.”

Bradley McEwen says he was unable to sleep, work or walk up and down stairs prior to getting his hip replaced at a private clinic in Quebec. The pain was so intense it was impacting his mental health. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

Five months later, McEwen can now shovel his walk and navigate stairs with no trouble. And he’s adamant other patients shouldn’t be forced to wait.

“There shouldn’t be a cap. I mean, people are walking around in pain, critical pain, and they’ve paid their taxes for years now — and there’s a cap? ‘Oh no, you can’t have yours done now because we’ve done too many this year?'”

Calls for change

To put an end to the frustration, the Red Deer surgeons are calling on health officials to immediately increase the number of joint replacements funded in central Alberta.

“Pain, suffering and illness shouldn’t be worth any more or any less in Fort McMurray, Red Deer, Calgary or Medicine Hat. It should all be the same,” said Henderson.

According Wolstenholme, doctors could perform up to 200 more joint replacements a year in Red Deer — at no extra cost — with the operating rooms, beds and staff already in place.

Those operating rooms are not sitting idle just because Red Deer has hit its quota for hip and knee replacements. The doctors say — because other surgeries are not capped — patients with different orthopedic problems are getting earlier access to OR time than they would otherwise get.

“All we’re asking as surgeons is the ability to control our own wait lists,” said Wolstenholme. 

“We should be able to prioritize our patients. We should be able to at least offer them equal access. But right now we can’t. We know that the patients that need hip and knee replacements have to wait longer because of the cap.”

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Researchers warn about the severe psychological distress caused by eating junk food

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(Natural News) Does junk food make you sad? While the current state of the American food industry is more than enough to make anyone feel depressed, new research from Loma Linda University demonstrates a link between junk-laden diets and psychological distress. Based on their findings, it appears that what you eat can and does affect your mental health — and that the prepackaged garbage peddled as “food” can have a seriously deleterious effect on your emotional well-being.

Even after adjusting for other external factors, the scientists found this relationship held steady: The more junk food a person ate, the more distress they reported feeling. When you consider the physiological effects junk food has on the body, it is no wonder that people report feeling like they are more distressed: They are in distress, they just don’t know it’s because of what the “food” they’re eating is doing to them on the inside.

Estimates suggest that the average American gets 60 percent of their daily calories from processed or junk food. Junk food consumption is a widespread problem here in the United States. Now, there are questions about whether or not junk food is a driving force in the plague of insanity (and stupidity) striking the U.S.

Scientists link junk food to poor mental health

Published in the journal International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition in early 2019, a study from Loma Linda University scientists finds a link between poor diet and poor mental health. Even after adjusting for external factors such as gender, age, education and income level, the association between junk food intake and mental illness remained.

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Study leader Jim E. Banta, Ph.D., MPH, an associate professor at the school, says that their conclusions support the findings of previous research. To conduct their study, Banta and his team looked at data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). The scientists used 240,000 phone surveys conducted by CHIS between 2005 and 2015, and included data on socio-demographics, health status and health behaviors.

“This and other studies like it could have big implications for treatments in behavorial medicine,” Banta said of the findings.

“Perhaps the time has come for us to take a closer look at the role of diet in mental health, because it could be that healthy diet choices contribute to mental health. More research is needed before we can answer definitively, but the evidence seems to be pointing in that direction,” he added.

The fact that scientists in the 21st century are only now just beginning to even consider the possibility of a relationship between nutrition and mental health is truly disturbing. Natural health practitioners have long been aware of the importance of good nutrition for total well-being, including mental state.

Is poor nutrition turning America insane?

Vitamin D deficiency is a well-known cause of depression. B vitamins, iron, selenium and magnesium also support good mental health and deficiencies in these nutrients can also cause depression and anxiety. There is a growing body of research which strongly supports poor nutrition as a causative factor not only in depression, but in other mental illnesses — including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, OCD and more.

For example, Dr. Banta notes that some research has linked high sugar consumption to bipolar disorder, while fried foods and processed grains are linked to depression. There is no ignoring the link between diet and disease — whether it is of the body or of the mind makes no difference.

Nearly 60 percent of the American population’s diet comes from disease-causing food, and it is hard not to wonder if obesity, heart disease and death aren’t the only problems being caused by junk food diets.

Are the increasingly insane leftists just running around in a nutrient-deprived, sugar-spiked frenzy? Whether you’re talking about the inanity of “social justice” score-keeping or the rapid acceptance of censorship to silence conservatives, it’s clear that the far left is missing a few bolts upstairs. A diet of GMOs, pesticides and toxic food additives will do that to you, though.

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Eat healthier to improve your physical and mental well-being

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(Natural News) The physical health and mental well-being of a person depend a lot on nutrition and the food that he eats. Diet also influences the risk of developing chronic diseases. While the relationship between physical health and diet is well-understood, little is known about how diet and its quality influence the development of mental disorders. In a recent study, researchers from the University of Regensburg in Germany investigated the behavioral effects of a Western diet on pattern separation – the process of keeping items distinct in memory. They discovered that a diet consisting of increased amounts of sugar and saturated fatty acids, reduced levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and an increased ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids (Western diet) harms memory. The results of their study were published in the journal Food Science and Human Wellness.

The Western diet impairs pattern separation

In this study, researchers investigated the utility of spatial separation – a behavioral process associated with the hippocampus – in the assessment of dietary interventions and the behavioral effects of the transgenerational administration of a Western diet on pattern separation. Pattern separation is the process of keeping items distinct in memory and is mediated by the hippocampus. Previous studies have suggested that there is a relationship between hippocampal function and diet quality in both humans and animals.

To examine the association between them, the researchers used rats, feeding over seven generations a diet containing increased amounts of sugar and saturated fatty acids, reduced levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and an increased ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids. This diet composition is characteristic of a diet known as the Western diet. The researchers administered it transgenerationally because previous studies have shown that interventional diets need to be implemented over several generations to induce behavioral effects.

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They compared the spatial pattern separation (or local discrimination) performance of these animals with that of rats fed a standard diet. For the test, they presented the rats two locations and allowed them to learn across trials to respond to the correct location. During spatial discrimination training, they designated a location as the correct one and rewarded the rats if they touched the correct location. They reversed the correct and incorrect locations every time the rats successfully got the correct ones nine times out of 10 trials.

The researchers found a separation-dependent difference between the standard and Western diet groups in the number of discriminations performed in the pattern separation task. The rats fed with a Western diet performed fewer discriminations. Rats with lesions in the dorsal hippocampus showed impaired pattern separation when the locations were close together but not when they were far apart. The researchers associated this impairment with hippocampal dysfunctioning. Their results align with previous studies which demonstrated that consumption of a Western diet impaired cognitive functions, damaged brain regions, and contributed to the occurrence of neurodegenerative diseases. Their results confirmed that pattern separation could be negatively affected by transgenerational administration of a Western diet.

The researchers concluded that spatial pattern separation can help detect the effects of dietary interventions and that the Western diet can impair pattern separation.

How to make your diet healthier

A healthy diet can provide many benefits, the most important of which is the prevention of chronic diseases. Here are some things that you can do to make your diet healthier:

  • Eat slowly
  • Choose whole grains
  • Add probiotics to your diet
  • Increase your protein intake
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid frying food and eating fast food
  • Take vitamin and mineral supplements
  • Try new and healthy recipes
  • Eat vegetables first before every meal
  • Eat fruits instead of drinking them
  • Exercise regularly
  • Stop drinking sweetened beverages
  • Get adequate sleep

Eating healthier and becoming aware of your nutritional needs will not only improve your physical health, but these will also benefit your mental and emotional well-being.

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Apples: Eat them to keep the doctor away – and boost stem cell therapy

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(Natural News) There is some truth behind the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples are superfoods, and they are good sources of antioxidants that protect cells from oxidative damage and boost the immune system. They also contain dietary fiber, which is good for digestion and the maintenance of gut microbiota. But there is more to apples than just being healthy, antioxidant fruits. In a recent study published in the journal Nutrition Research, researchers from Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea showed the beneficial effect of apple extracts on the proliferation of adult stem cells. They also identified the possible molecular mechanisms underlying apple’s pro-proliferative effects.

Apple ethanol extracts can enhance the proliferation of stem cells useful for tissue regeneration

Tissue regeneration using adult stem cells (ASCs) has significant potential in the treatment of many degenerative diseases. It also provides a promising means of repairing chronic tissue or organ failure due to injuries, congenital defects, and aging. Stem cells are essential in regenerative medicine because they can be used directly in cell replacement therapies. However, studies on their application in clinical settings suggest that age negatively affects the proliferation status and differentiation potential of ASCs. This presents a possible limitation in their therapeutic use.

In the hopes of addressing this limitation, researchers turned their attention to the pro-proliferative activity of apples. Apples are rich sources of valuable phytochemicals that are known to be beneficial to human health. They possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and even anticancer activities. These antioxidants can help maintain human cells and protect them from harmful oxidation products. In addition, apples contain metabolites that could ensure longevity and increase the number of human cells in culture. (Related: Apples could hold key for increasing lifespan.)

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Because of this, researchers hypothesized that apple extracts might exert beneficial effects on ASCs. They obtained apple extracts using ethanol as the extraction solvent and tested these on human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADSCs) and human cord blood-derived mesenchymal stem cells (CB-MSCs). They also used 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide and Click-iT 5-ethynyl-2?-deoxyuridine flow cytometry assays to evaluate the pro-proliferative effects of the extracts.

The researchers found that treatment with apple extracts promoted the proliferation of ADSCs and CB-MSCs. Apple extracts also induced the stepwise phosphorylation of p44/42 MAPK (ERK), mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), p70 S6 kinase (p70S6K), S6 ribosomal protein (S6RP), eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF) 4B, and eIF4E in ADSCs. p44/42 MAPK (ERK) is a signaling pathway involved in the regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation. Inhibition of this pathway results in cell apoptosis. mTOR is a key signaling node that coordinates cell cycle progression and cell growth. p70S6K is a cytokine that regulates cell growth by inducing protein synthesis. eIFs, on the other hand, are proteins or protein complexes involved in translation and protein biosynthesis.

The researchers also reported that apple extracts significantly induced the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in both ADSCs and CB-MSCs. VEGF is a potent angiogenic factor, which means it promotes the formation of blood vessels. VEGF also plays a role in other physiological functions, such as hematopoiesis, wound healing, and development. IL-6 is a promoter of proliferation. The researchers further confirmed that the apple extract-induced proliferation of ADSCs under serum-free conditions is mediated by ERK-dependent cytokine production because when they pre-treated cells with PD98059, a specific ERK inhibitor, it inhibited the phosphorylation of the mTOR/p70S6K/S6RP/eIF4B/eIF4E pathway.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that extracts from apples are potent pro-proliferative agents, and the beneficial effect of apple extract on the proliferation of ASCs may overcome the limitation in their therapeutic use in tissue regeneration.

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