As if smoking per se weren’t bad enough, now, it turns out that smoking significantly worsens COVID-19, according to a new analysis by UC San Francisco of the association between smoking and progression of the infectious disease.
In a meta-analysis of studies that included 11,590 COVID patients, researchers found that among people with the virus, the risk of disease progression in those who currently smoke or previously smoked was nearly double that of non-smokers. They also found that when the disease worsens, current or former smokers had more acute or critical conditions or death. Overall, smoking was associated with almost a doubling of the risk of disease progressing.
If you are on the lookout for healthy snacks that you can munch on instead of potato chips, chocolate or other not-so-nutritious foods, check out cherries.
Recently, a guy I know bought cherries to satisfy that need without consuming a lot of empty calories. He ended up demonstrating that even natural healthy snacks have their limits. You need to use your brain when snacking and don’t overdo it, no matter whether it’s Cheetos or cherries.
Twice in recent weeks, this guy ate about a pound of cherries at one sitting. Eating that quantity of food at one sitting is just not smart any way you look at it, even a good healthy natural food like cherries.
Searching online for information about the problems he was having, he learned that everyone should limit their intake of cherries at one sitting to a cup at most.
Researchers have found a way to design an antibody that can identify the toxic particles that destroy healthy brain cells – a potential advance in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
Their method is able to recognize these toxic particles, known as amyloid-beta oligomers, which are the hallmark of the disease, leading to hope that new diagnostic methods can be developed for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
The team, from the University of Cambridge, University College London and Lund University, designed an antibody which is highly accurate at detecting toxic oligomers and quantifying their numbers. Their results are reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
A universal sign of motherhood is the lullaby. The world over, mothers sing to their babies, whether Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, their favorite song from the radio, or even random notes. This universality makes the simple lullaby a great window into the human mind. In a new study, cognitive neuroscientists found that lullabies soothe both moms and babies simultaneously, while playsongs increase babies’ attention and displays of positive emotion toward their mothers.
The behavioral implications of music are vast, says Laura Cirelli of the University of Toronto Mississauga, who is presenting the new work on maternal singing at the 25th meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS) in Boston today. “Infant brains must be able to track auditory events in a predictive manner to make sense of music,” she explains, and many complex things are going on in their brains to make that possible.
From infancy to old age, music demands much from the human brain. Learning more about how we process music is helping scientists better understand perception, multisensory integration, and social coordination across the lifespan. Technological advancements – for example, more portable electroencephalography (EEG) and electrophysiology set-ups and- are allowing cognitive neuroscientists to study music in a variety of situations, from mother-child interactions to live concert halls.
Fermented foods may be the oldest “new” food trend around. The process is as old as civilization itself, and fermented foods are consumed in nearly every culture in the world. While researchers attempt to tease out how the changes caused by fermentation actually impact health, many not-fully-substantiated health claims are being made. Let’s take a look at what we know, and don’t know, about these promising (and tasty) foods.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear masks in public. Because N95 and surgical masks are scarce and should be reserved for health care workers, many people are making their own coverings. Now, researchers report in ACS Nano that a combination of cotton with natural silk or chiffon can effectively filter out aerosol particles — if the fit is good. Continue reading →
The COVID-19 pandemic could inflict long-lasting emotional trauma on an unprecedented global scale, leaving millions grappling with debilitating psychological disorders, according to a new study commissioned by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Case Western Reserve University.
“There are some valid concerns that this coronavirus pandemic could cause emotional trauma and PTSD at a level we’ve never seen before,” said Megan Holmes, an associate professor of social work and the founding director of the Center on Trauma and Adversity at the university’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. Continue reading →
What makes SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19, such a threat? A new study, led by Jose Ordovas-Montanes, PhD at Boston Children’s Hospital and Alex K. Shalek, PhD at MIT, pinpoints the likely cell types the virus infects. Unexpectedly, it also shows that one of the body’s main defenses against viral infections may actually help the virus infect those very cells. Findings were published April 21 by the journal Cell.
The peer-reviewed study, published as a preprint, will help focus efforts to understand what SARS-COV-2 does in the body, why some people are more susceptible, and how best to search for treatments, the researchers say.
Multiple research models
When news broke about a new coronavirus in China, Ordovas-Montanes and Shalek had already been studying different cell types from throughout the human respiratory system and intestine. They also had gathered data from primates and mice.
As the COVID-19 pandemic toll continues to grow, the advice is even more relevant.
“We don’t have a proven vaccine, and we don’t have proven treatments,” said Garrett-Price, a family practice physician with Baylor Scott & White Health System in Dallas. “So, our immune system is our first line of defense.”
Although a strong immune system is helpful, he and other health experts stress the guidelines in place to battle the coronavirus’s spread remain crucial: social distancing, frequent hand-washing, avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, and staying at home as much as possible to avoid getting COVID-19 in the first place. Continue reading →
Advancing age (65+) is associated with a loss of muscle mass, which is due to physical inactivity and the selective loss of Type II (fast-twitch) muscle fibers. This reduction in muscle mass is directly related to a loss of muscle strength and power.
Resistance training has the potential to offset this age-related decline in the following ways:
Increases muscle strength
Increases muscle endurance
Increases muscle mass
Increases muscle fiber size
Increases muscle metabolic capacity
Increases resting metabolic rate
Decreases body fat
Increases bone mineral density
Increases physical function
Although the aging process is associated with several undesirable changes in body composition, older men and women maintain their ability to make significant improvements in strength and functional ability. Both aerobic and resistance exercise are beneficial for older adults, but only resistance training can increase muscle strength and muscle mass.
Before participation in an exercise program, seniors should be…
Older adults who have surgery with general anesthesia may experience a modest acceleration of cognitive decline, even years later. But there’s no evidence of a link to Alzheimer’s disease, according to new research from Mayo Clinic.
The research, published in the British Journal of Anaesthesia, examined brain scans from 585 patients, ages 70 to 91 ― 493 of whom had at least one surgery with general anesthesia. The analysis found cortical thinning in cerebral areas but no significant evidence of deposits of amyloid protein, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. The cortex is the outermost layer of the brain’s nerve cell tissue, and thinning of that tissue is associated with diminished cognitive functions. Continue reading →
I have written repeatedly about the benefits of walking, calling it the ‘Cinderella of the exercise world.’ Now, according the the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it seems that quantity equals quality in walking.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Americans were told that eating less fat would reduce risk for cardiovascular disease and obesity. Why didn’t it work? Essentially, reducing total fat led to intake of more refined carbohydrates and less healthy fats, and both of these changes had negative health impacts.
Evolving Guidelines: Dietary advice on fat intake has evolved over the years. Based on strong evidence that diets high in saturated fats and cholesterol were associated with high blood cholesterol levels and a greater risk of heart attack, the 1980 U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommended Americans “avoid too much fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.” The 1990 Dietary Guidelines added risk for obesity to the list of reasons to cut back on fats. (Since a gram of fat has more than twice the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrate, reducing fat intake is the fastest way to reduce calorie intake.) But, soon thereafter, data began to emerge that low-fat diets were not having the expected results. “The 2000 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee noted the adverse effects of low-fat diets, and for the first time since their inception changed the guidance from low fat to moderate fat,” says Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, a member of that committee who is now a senior scientist at Tufts’ HNRCA and executive editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter. From 2000 on, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommended consuming a diet moderate in total fat that keeps saturated fat intake to under 10 percent of calories. The 2015 DGA emphasizes consuming foods rich in polyunsaturated fat. Some scientists feel that even this moderate fat restriction goes too far. Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, dean of Tufts’ Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and editor-in-chief of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter sites evidence that a higher proportion of calories from fat is not harmful for either cardiovascular disease (CVD) or obesity, and in fact can lower risk if healthy (poly- and mono-unsaturated) fats replace refined starches and sugars. Continue reading →
Even as government officials warn us to “stay home, stay safe” during the coronavirus pandemic, some people are flocking to parks, trails and sidewalks to walk and bike away their cabin fever.
That might seem like a total contradiction. But according to health experts, it can be a healthy choice – as long as you exercise caution while exercising outdoors.
An old photo on the Chicago Lakefront with my dog. The mayor has since closed the Lakefront to ALL activities in the face of the virus.
“Since most people don’t have a treadmill, outdoor exercise makes it a heck of a lot easier to meet the physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes a week of moderate activity, like walking, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity, like running,” said Dr. Jeffrey Harris, professor and chair of the University of Washington’s department of health services in the School of Public Health. Continue reading →
This is my April Fool’s Day post. I wanted to write one, but in view of what we are all experiencing with ‘stay at home’ orders and the like, it didn’t feel right. Then I happened upon this post by one of my favorite bloggers. I can’t remember reading one of Jules’s posts that didn’t have me laugh out loud. Here, I think she plays an April Fool’s joke on the coronavirus. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.