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health briefs

I’ve always looked at baking soda as that simple, inexpensive product that has so many uses. We use it in baking; it’s great for cleaning teeth; it acts as a safe, chemical-free cleaner (move over Comet); it’s found in antacids; and it can even be used to raise the pH in pools. But now, based on a study from the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) at Augusta University, a daily dose of baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, may help reduce the destructive inflammation of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, and celiac disease. An autoimmune disease is a condition arising from an atypical immune response to a normal body part; essentially, the body is responding abnormally to something going on in the body—sometimes good and sometimes bad. There are at least 80 types of autoimmune diseases that we know of affecting approximately 24 million people in the United States (7 percent of the U.S. population). This research is some of the first evidence of how this cheap, over-the-counter antacid can encourage our spleen to promote an anti-inflammatory environment that could be therapeutic in the face of inflammatory disease. The MCG scientists report in the Journal of Immunology that when rats or healthy people drink a solution of baking soda, it becomes a trigger for the stomach to make more acid to digest the next meal, and for the little-studied mesothelial cells sitting on the spleen to communicate to the spleen that there is no need to mount a protective immune response. Mesothelial cells line body cavities, like the one that contains our digestive tract, and they also cover the Jonathan Richter, DDS exterior of our organs to quite literally

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keep them from rubbing together. About a decade ago, it was found that these cells also provide another level of protection. They have little fingers, called microvilli, which sense the environment and warn the organs they cover that there is an invader and an immune response is needed. Drinking baking soda, the MCG scientists think, tells the spleen—which is part of the immune system, acts like a big blood filter and is where some white blood cells, like macrophages, are stored—to go easy on the immune response. The conversation, which occurs with the help of the chemical messenger acetylcholine, appears to promote a landscape that shifts against inflammation, they report. You are not really turning anything off or on, you are just pushing it toward one side by giving an anti-inflammatory stimulus—in this case, away from harmful inflammation. It’s potentially a really safe way to treat inflammatory disease. Source: Jonathan Richter, DDS, FAGD, of Cariodontal (310 E. Shore Rd., Ste. 101, Great Neck). For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 516-282-0310 or visit Cariodontal.com. See ad on back cover.

People that Don’t Slight Sleep Eat Better Those that sleep more than seven hours a night are likely to eat better the following day, according to researchers from King’s College London. In the study, 21 people known to typically sleep fewer than seven hours increased their sleep time by 47 minutes after receiving tips on sleep hygiene such as drinking less caffeine and going to bed neither too hungry nor too full. The following day, they consumed almost 10 fewer grams of sugar in food and drinks on average and also consumed less fat and fewer carbohydrates than a control group.

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