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Beyond genes and environment, random variations play important role in longevity

A new model of aging takes into account not only genetics and environmental exposures but also the tiny changes that randomly arise at the cellular level.

University Professor Caleb Finch introduced the “Tripartite Phenotype of Aging” as a new conceptual model that addresses why lifespan varies so much, even among human identical twins who share the same genes. Only about 10 to 35 percent of longevity can be traced to genes inherited from our parents, Finch mentioned.

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Finch authored the paper introducing the model with one of his former graduate students, Amin Haghani, who received his PhD in the Biology of Aging from the USC Leonard Davis School in 2020 and is now a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA. In the article, they propose that the limited heritability of aging patterns and longevity in humans is an outcome of gene-environment interactions, together with stochastic, or chance, variations in the body’s cells. These random changes can include cellular changes that happen during development, molecular damage that occurs later in life, and more.

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High emotional intelligence ‘can help to identify fake news’ – Study

People with high levels of emotional intelligence are less likely to be susceptible to ‘fake news’, according to research at the University of Strathclyde.

The study invited participants to read a series of news items on social media and to ascertain whether they were real or fictitious, briefly describing the reasons for their answers. They were also asked to complete a test to determine their levels of emotional intelligence (EQ or emotional quotient) and were asked a number of questions when considering the veracity of each news item.

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Researchers found that those who identified the types of news correctly were most likely to score highly in the EQ tests. There was a similar correlation between correct identification and educational attainment.

The study, by researchers in Strathclyde’s School of Psychological Sciences & Health and School of Government & Public Policy, has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Dr Tony Anderson, Senior Teaching Fellow in Psychology at Strathclyde and partner in the research, said: “Fake news on social media is now a matter of considerable public and governmental concern. Research on dealing with this issue is still in its infancy but recent studies have started to focus on the psychological factors which might make some individuals less susceptible to fake news.

“Previous research has shown that people can be trained to enhance their own EQ levels. This should help them to discern with a greater degree of accuracy which news is reliable and which is misleading.”

Participants were presented with real and fabricated news stories on issues including health, crime, wealth inequality and the environment. Fictitious items featured aspects including emotive language, brief information and a lack of attributed sources.

Comments from people who incorrectly believed fabricated stories were real included: “I have personal experience of this”; “My kids are in this position so I completely get this”; “The graph shows it all” and “The commenter on the post has the same thoughts as me.” Those who correctly identified fictitious stories made comments including: “There is emotive/condescending language in the blurb”; “Fearmongering article with no data”; “The source is not an official scientific or governmental source” and “Comes across as more of a rant.”

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Stronger brain activity after writing on paper than on tablet or smartphone – Study

Isn’t it interesting to learn that the disruptor technologies that we have come to rely on aren’t always better than that which they replaced?

A study of Japanese university students and recent graduates has revealed that writing on physical paper can lead to more brain activity when remembering the information an hour later. Researchers say that the unique, complex, spatial and tactile information associated with writing by hand on physical paper is likely what leads to improved memory.

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“Actually, paper is more advanced and useful compared to electronic documents because paper contains more one-of-a-kind information for stronger memory recall,” said Professor Kuniyoshi L. Sakai, a neuroscientist at the University of Tokyo and corresponding author of the research recently published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. The research was completed with collaborators from the NTT Data Institute of Management Consulting.

Contrary to the popular belief that digital tools increase efficiency, volunteers who used paper completed the note-taking task about 25% faster than those who used digital tablets or smartphones.

Although volunteers wrote by hand both with pen and paper or stylus and digital tablet, researchers say paper notebooks contain more complex spatial information than digital paper. Physical paper allows for tangible permanence, irregular strokes, and uneven shape, like folded corners. In contrast, digital paper is uniform, has no fixed position when scrolling, and disappears when you close the app.

“Our take-home message is to use paper notebooks for information we need to learn or memorize,” said Sakai.

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Eating for a Healthy Colon – Rush

Just as diet can have a positive or negative impact on heart, brain and bone health, your colon’s overall health can be affected by what you eat.

The colon is a crucial part of the digestive system, and many different conditions can cause it to work improperly. Some of these include inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s diseasediverticular diseaseirritable bowel syndrome; and colorectal cancer, according to Rush University Medical Center.

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Treatment for these conditions includes diet and lifestyle modifications, medications and/or surgery.

Colorectal cancer is one of the most serious colon diseases. Risk factors for colon cancer include age (risk increases over age 50); race (Blacks have the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the U.S.); family history; previous polyps; inflammatory bowel disease; smoking; physical inactivity; and heavy alcohol use.

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Weekend funnies …

Here’s hoping you had a safe and sober St. Patrick’s Day celebration. I am writing this from my home in Chicago where St. Patrick’s Day has no sober celebrations.

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CBD reduces plaque, improves cognition in model of familial Alzheimer’s

Because of the dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease that have affected my family on both sides, I remain acutely aware of developments in addressing cognition in the aging population. So, this study reported in Science Daily resonated with me.

A two-week course of high doses of CBD helps restore the function of two proteins key to reducing the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, and improves cognition in an experimental model of early onset familial Alzheimer’s, investigators report.

The proteins TREM2 and IL-33 are important to the ability of the brain’s immune cells to literally consume dead cells and other debris like the beta-amyloid plaque that piles up in patients’ brains, and levels of both are decreased in Alzheimer’s.

The investigators report for the first time that CBD normalizes levels and function, improving cognition as it also reduces levels of the immune protein IL-6, which is associated with the high inflammation levels found in Alzheimer’s, says Dr. Babak Baban, immunologist and associate dean for research in the Dental College of Georgia and the study’s corresponding author.

There is a dire need for novel therapies to improve outcomes for patients with this condition, which is considered one of the fastest-growing health threats in the United States, DCG and Medical College of Georgia investigators write in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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Key tips to a healthy lifestyle

One picture us worth a thousand words. In this case, I think the infographic counts for even more. I hope this is all old news to you and you are living it fully. As an 81 year old I can tell you that I am certainly glad to have adopted my healthy lifestyle for the past 10 years. It’s never too late. The body is an organic machine which means there is constant regeneration going on. Use it to your advantage.

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Green Tea for St. Patrick’s Day… and Every Day

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

If this looks familiar it’s because I ran it last year on St. Patty’s Day.

gif-st-patrick-188.gif“BETTER to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one.”
Ancient Chinese proverb.


If that really is an ancient Chinese proverb it must be referring to green tea. Don’t know about green tea? You are in for a treat.

About.com reports that in 1994 the Journal of the National Cancer Institute had a study showing that green tea drinking cut the risk of esophageal cancer in Chinese men and women by nearly 60%.

Nadine Taylor wrote an entire book on it – Green Tea: The natural secret to a healthy life.gif-st-patrick-192.gif

Green tea, beautiful benefits

HealthMad lists 10- benefits of green tea.

1 Used to treat Multiple sclerosis
2 Cancer treat/prevent
3 Stop Alzheimer’s/Parkinson’s
4 Raises metabolism and increases fat oxidation
5 Reduces risk of heart diseases and attacks by cutting…

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Happy Pi Day

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

Thought I would join in the Pi Day fun with this info-graphic. Since this is a special day seems a shame not to cerebrate.

I hope you enjoy a Byte or two.

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If you insist on getting serious about it, check out Steven Strogatz’s Why Pi Matters in this back issue of TheNew Yorker. Here is just a snippet- “So it’s fair to ask: Why do mathematicians care so much about pi? Is it some kind of weird circle fixation? Hardly. The beauty of pi, in part, is that it puts infinity within reach. Even young children get this. The digits of pi never end and never show a pattern. They go on forever, seemingly at random—except that they can’t possibly be random, because they embody the order inherent in a perfect circle. This tension between order and randomness is one of the most tantalizing aspects of pi….”

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Simple, but not so easy …

Simple, but not so easy, at least for some of us …. The following infographic is from the National Institute on Aging. While it doesn’t tell you anything you don’t already know, I think it is worthwhile to see these items enumerated to impress our minds – and bodies – what gives us the best chance of having a long and healthy life.

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Spring Forward and Change Your Clocks

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

At 2:00 o’clock tomorrow morning you need to set your clock one hour ahead – spring forward – to participate in Daylight Savings Time. Some explanations for this practice include to help the harvest for farmers by providing more daylight working hours.

gplus-1994256672Actually, you are springing forward, but I couldn’t resist this wonderful pun.

But, what does it mean to the rest of us non-agrarian folks?

Well, tomorrow morning if you are on a schedule, like catching an airplane or something, you lost an hour of sleep, so you may be somewhat sleep-deprived the rest of the day. It being Sunday, maybe you just slept in. If that is the case, you will start your day an hour later, but otherwise, no harm, no foul.

Later, however, we all will experience the magic of moving an hour of daylight from the morning to the afternoon – Daylight Savings. If you…

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The important role of music in neurorehabilitation

Music-based interventions have become a core ingredient of effective neurorehabilitation in the past 20 years thanks to the growing body of knowledge. In this theme issue of Neurorehabilitation, experts in the field highlight some of the current critical gaps in clinical applications that have been less thoroughly investigated, such as post-stroke cognition, traumatic brain injury, and autism and specific learning disabilities.

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Neurologic Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions by a credentialed professional. Research in the 1990s showed for the first time how musical-rhythmic stimuli can improve mobility in stroke and Parkinson’s disease patients. We now know that music-based interventions can effectively address a wide range of impairments in sensorimotor, speech/language, and cognitive functions.

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Weekend funnies …

Wherever you are, I hope you are enjoying some spring weather now. We Chicagoans went through an incredible siege of winter weather here. Hopefully, these will help you smile some.

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Brain’s ‘wiring insulation’ as major factor of age-related brain deterioration – Study

A new study led by the University of Portsmouth has identified that one of the major factors of age-related brain deterioration is the loss of a substance called myelin.

Myelin acts like the protective and insulating plastic casing around the electrical wires of the brain – called axons. Myelin is essential for superfast communication between nerve cells that lie behind the supercomputer power of the human brain.

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The loss of myelin results in cognitive decline and is central to several neurodegenerative diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. This new study found that the cells that drive myelin repair become less efficient as we age and identified a key gene that is most affected by ageing, which reduces the cells ability to replace lost myelin.

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Stroke affecting eye requires immediate treatment, can signal future vascular events

While most people think of strokes affecting the brain, they can also affect the eye. Central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO) is a rare form of acute ischemic stroke that occurs when blood flow is blocked to the main artery of the eye. It typically causes painless, immediate vision loss in the impacted eye, with fewer than 20% of people regaining functional vision in that eye.

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The American Heart Association published a new scientific statement, “Management of Central Retinal Artery Occlusion,” in Stroke, an American Heart Association journal. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons Cerebrovascular Section affirms the educational benefit of the scientific statement, and it has been endorsed by the North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society, the American Academy of Ophthalmology Quality of Care Secretariat and the American Academy of Optometry.

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Outdoor recreation during the pandemic linked to improved well-being for teens

A study from North Carolina State University found outdoor play and nature-based activities helped buffer some of the negative mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic for adolescents.

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Researchers said the findings, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, point to outdoor play and nature-based activities as a tool to help teenagers cope with major stressors like the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as future natural disasters and other global stressors. Researchers also underscore the mental health implications of restricting outdoor recreation opportunities for adolescents, and the need to increase access to the outdoors.

“Families should be encouraged that building patterns in outdoor recreation can give kids tools to weather the storms to come,” said Kathryn Stevenson, a study co-author and assistant professor of parks, recreation and tourism management at NC State. “Things happen in life, and getting kids outside regularly is an easy way to build some mental resilience.”

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