I think sleep may be the most under-appreciated aspect of living a healthy life. Diet and exercise and well-known if not often followed, but sleep is often thought of as an intrusion in our busy lives. I know that back when I was in the working world, I certainly thought of it that way.
Scientific data suggests that all animals probably do sleep—including the most unexpected creatures, such as fish, birds, worms, and flies. Sara Aton, University of Michigan ssistant professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, can attest to dozing cats, mice, and even cuttlefish, all of which she’s studied as they snoozed. She marvels that biologists once thought bugs and birds and worms never slept.
“I think there’s this pervasive misconception that your brain is just turning off when you go to sleep, because there’s no obvious output. Outside of a coma, you can’t think of a less interesting behavior to study than sleep, right?” Aton says. “Sleep is something that, as humans, we spend a third of our life doing. And yet biologists and the neuroscience community didn’t have a lot of interest in it.” (my emphasis)
But now that we know better, new questions arise: Do animals all rest for the same reasons?
After studying sleep for the past decade, Aton is convinced that it matters—a lot. “I’m much more protective of, for example, my son’s sleep than I would have been had I not been in this field,” she says.
As a big fan of coffee in general and the mocha drink in particular, this study struck a positive chord with me.
Deep down, we always knew it, but science is proving that cocoa and caffeine are indeed the best marriage ever. Clarkson University researcher Ali Boolani recently completed a study that explores the powers of these two dark delights.
The assistant professor of physical therapy and physician assistant studies teamed up with colleagues at the University of Georgia to examine the “acute effects of brewed cocoa consumption on attention, motivation to perform cognitive work and feelings of anxiety, energy and fatigue.” Continue reading
There is a ton of good information in this. Read it and reap!
I have posted previously on:
How important is a good night’s sleep?
Super tools for handling stress
Our Better Health
Anxiety seems to be a near-universal condition. In the United States alone, approximately 40 million adults – or 18 percent of the population – suffer from an anxiety disorder.
And these numbers represent only the diagnosed (i.e. reported). The actual number is likely to be significantly higher.
The truth is that society is somewhat to blame (not to negate our own sense of responsibility.) We’ve managed to build a 24/7 “constantly connected” infrastructure that has permeated into schools, businesses and elsewhere. Many people are under constant pressure to succeed; most ironically by leveraging this very infrastructure. This only exacerbates the problem.
“Prevention is the best cure” is a universal axiom within the medical community, including within the mental health sphere. Understanding what “triggers” certain symptoms or condition can – in some instances – drastically reduce the likelihood of a symptom or episode.
Here, we focus on ten established “triggers” that…
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Eat less; move more; live longer is the mantra of this blog. I am always thrilled to run across studies that underscore those concepts. This one adds nutritional supplementation for additional benefits.
A study of the combined effect of exercise and nutrition intervention on muscle mass and function in seniors finds that exercise has a positive impact, with some possible additive effect of dietary supplementation.
Although sarcopenia, progressive muscle loss, is a natural part of aging, it is generally identified when muscle mass and muscle function falls below defined thresholds. Sarcopenia’s impact can be enormous as it affects mobility, balance, risk of falls and fractures, and overall ability to perform tasks of daily living. Given the aging of populations worldwide, public health and clinical recommendations to prevent and manage sarcopenia are urgently needed.
The new systematic review ‘Nutrition and Physical Activity in the Prevention and Treatment of Sarcopenia’  summarizes the results of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing the effect of interventions combining physical activity and dietary supplements on muscle mass and muscle function in subjects aged 60 years and older. Continue reading
A new study suggests that substituting whole grains for refined grains in the diet increases calorie loss by reducing calories retained during digestion and speeding up metabolism. This research is published in tandem with a study on the effect of whole grains on gut microbiota. Both studies are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Epidemiology studies have suggested health benefits of whole grains and high dietary fiber intake, including for glycemic control and insulin sensitivity. There has been controversy, however, about whether whole grains and fiber are beneficial for weight regulation, partially because there hasn’t been data from controlled metabolic studies. This new study provided food to participants for eight weeks and may help explain how whole grain consumption is beneficial for weight management.
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.
But, what does it mean to the rest of us non-agrarian folks?
Well, this 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. This 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 want to enjoy the outdoors, you now have an extra hour of daylight to do so. Continue reading
Regular readers know how much I follow developments in the study of the brain. Here is some fresh fascinating info from Johns Hopkins.
Summary: Researchers report orthostatic hypotension could cause lasting damage to the brain because it can reduce blood flow to the brain.
Middle-aged people who experience temporary blood pressure drops that often cause dizziness upon standing up may be at an increased risk of developing cognitive decline and dementia 20 years later, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research suggests.
The findings, being presented March 10 at the American Heart Association’s EPI|LIFESTYLE 2017 Scientific Sessions in Portland, Ore., suggest that these temporary episodes – known as orthostatic hypotension – may cause lasting damage, possibly because they reduce needed blood flow to the brain. Previous research has suggested a connection between orthostatic hypotension and cognitive decline in older people, but this appears to be the first to look at long-term associations. (my emphasis)
A new UCLA study could change scientists’ understanding of how the brain works — and could lead to new approaches for treating neurological disorders and for developing computers that “think” more like humans.
The research focused on the structure and function of dendrites, which are components of neurons, the nerve cells in the brain. Neurons are large, tree-like structures made up of a body, the soma, with numerous branches called dendrites extending outward. Somas generate brief electrical pulses called “spikes” in order to connect and communicate with each other. Scientists had generally believed that the somatic spikes activate the dendrites, which passively send currents to other neurons’ somas, but this had never been directly tested before. This process is the basis for how memories are formed and stored.
Scientists have believed that this was dendrites’ primary role.
But the UCLA team discovered that dendrites are not just passive conduits. Their research showed that dendrites are electrically active in animals that are moving around freely, generating nearly 10 times more spikes than somas. The finding challenges the long-held belief that spikes in the soma are the primary way in which perception, learning and memory formation occur.
“Dendrites make up more than 90 percent of neural tissue,” said UCLA neurophysicist Mayank Mehta, the study’s senior author. “Knowing they are much more active than the soma fundamentally changes the nature of our understanding of how the brain computes information. It may pave the way for understanding and treating neurological disorders, and for developing brain-like computers.”
The research is reported in the March 9 issue of the journal Science.
Scientists have generally believed that dendrites meekly sent currents they received from the cell’s synapse (the junction between two neurons) to the soma, which in turn generated an electrical impulse. Those short electrical bursts, known as somatic spikes, were thought to be at the heart of neural computation and learning. But the new study demonstrated that dendrites generate their own spikes 10 times more often than the somas.
Mayo Clinic researchers have uncovered three new agents to add to the emerging repertoire of drugs that aim to delay the onset of aging by targeting senescent cells – cells that contribute to frailty and other age-related conditions. A recent study of human cell cultures shows that the drugs, fisetin and two BCL-XL inhibitors – A1331852 and A1155463 – cleared senescent cells in vitro. Findings appear online in Aging.
“Senescent cells accumulate with age and at sites of multiple chronic conditions, such as in fat tissue in diabetes, the lungs in chronic pulmonary diseases, the aorta in vascular disease, or the joints in osteoarthritis,” says James Kirkland, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging. “At Mayo Clinic, we discovered the first senolytic drugs – agents that selectively eliminate senescent cells while leaving normal cells unaffected. These senolytic agents alleviated a range of age- and disease-related problems in mice. We used the hypothesis-driven approach that we used to discover the first senolytic drugs, two published in early 2015 and another later in 2015, to discover these three new senolytic drugs.” Continue reading
I have been retired for 17 years, since I turned 60, and my health has improved dramatically since then. I have lost around 20 pounds and I exercise regularly. I must confess that I got careless the first few years. There’s a dangerous ‘freedom’ you experience when you first retire that takes some getting used to. It turns out that I’m not the only one to encounter that situation.
Healthy lifestyle adherence among retired, late middle-aged adults may be more challenging than originally thought. New research, from West Virginia University,
published this week in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, sought to compare the rates of healthy lifestyle adherence among retired, late middle-aged adults to those who were still working. Continue reading
When it comes to trends in body weight, there are no easy answers.
A new study by by Vanderbilt University researchers reveals new nuances in the links between a person’s weight and the socioeconomic status of the people close to them, and suggests that gender plays a significant role in that relationship. The study, Does Your Body Know Who You Know? Multiple Roles of Network Members’ Socioeconomic Status for Body Weight Ratings, appears online in the Journal of Sociological Perspectives. (my emphasis)
Though in the West high socioeconomic status is associated with slenderness, the relationship between status and weight is actually more nuanced than that. Using nationally representative data from the 2004 U.S. General Social Survey, Lijun Song, professor of sociology, and graduate students Philip Pettis and Bhumika PiyaSong analyzed the relationship between an individual’s weight as measured by a visual evaluation, the socioeconomic status of the people they’re close to as measured by their educational attainment, lifestyle as measured by self-reported athleticism, and gender.
While Song and her colleagues found no direct link between an individual’s weight and the socioeconomic status of their personal network, they did find an indirect one through lifestyle. Continue reading
Lifestyle patterns, including regular exercise and staying slim, are associated with a risk of overall heart failure but are more strongly associated with the heart failure subtype HFpEF, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Before getting into the study, I want to reiterate the mantra of this blog: eat less; move more; live longer. Certainly words to live by.
Heart failure is a medical condition defined by the inability of the heart to meet the demands of the body, particularly during exertion. Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) is a subtype of heart failure that involves the heart and other organs and is characterized a stiff heart muscle that is unable to fill adequately with blood, resulting in fluid backing up into the lungs and body.
Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction accounts for up to 50 percent of heart failure cases and is associated with poor outcomes. It has also proven to be resistant to available therapies, leading to prevention being a critical part of controlling the growing burden of this disease.
“We consistently found an association between physical activity, BMI and overall heart failure risk,” said Jarett D. Berry, MD, associate professor in the department of internal medicine and clinical sciences and director of cardiac rehabilitation at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and the study’s senior author. “This was not unexpected, however the impact of these lifestyle factors on heart failure subtypes was quite different.”(my emphasis)
As a person who has lost three family members to dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, this new information on the subject knocked me out.
Please see my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits) for more.
New research finds the microbes in your gut may play a major role in escalating the chronic brain disease. A raft of recent studies has shown that the microbiome is a factor in the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, asthma, and cardiovascular disease. Now, we can add Alzheimer’s disease to the list. A new […]
via Can Gut Bacteria Affect Alzheimer’s Disease? — Our Better Health
Don’t feel bad for harboring any confusion about just how healthy or unhealthy eggs are in your diet. There has been a lot of information and, it turns out, some misinformation about the little chicken nuggets over the years. So, to put it eggs-actly straight here is the latest from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Long-vilified for their high cholesterol content by well-meaning doctors and scientists researching heart disease, eggs now seem to be making a bit of a comeback. So what changed?
While it’s true that just one egg yolk has 200 mg of cholesterol—making it one of the richest sources of dietary cholesterol—eggs also contain additional nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease. In addition, the moderate amount of fat in an egg, about 5 grams, is mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. It’s also crucial to distinguish between dietary cholesterol and cholesterol in the blood, which are only weakly related. The focus on dietary cholesterol alone was de-emphasized as more attention was placed on the influence of saturated and trans fat on blood cholesterol. Accordingly, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 removed the prior recommendation to limit consumption of dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day.
Here are some visual treats that you can enjoy without fear of cramming extra calories into your system. Enjoy!
I seriously doubt that I have many teenagers checking out my posts. However, I am sure that there are moms, dads and other loved ones who do. As if there weren’t enough reasons for kids to lighten up on booze, this study adds a biggie.
Repeated binge drinking during adolescence can affect brain functions in future generations, potentially putting offspring at risk for such conditions as depression, anxiety, and metabolic disorders, a Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine study has found.
“Adolescent binge drinking not only is dangerous to the brain development of teenagers, but also may impact the brains of their children,” said senior author Toni R. Pak, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
The study by Dr. Pak, first author AnnaDorothea Asimes, a PhD student in Dr. Pak’s lab, and colleagues was presented at Neuroscience 2016, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. Continue reading