Study Finds Shark Meat Contains High Levels of Neurotoxins Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

It appears that even food products of fish caught in the ocean can cause us problems.

In a new study, University of Miami (UM) scientists found high concentrations of toxins linked to neurodegenerative diseases in the fins and muscles of 10 species of sharks. The research team suggests that restricting consumption of sharks can have positive health benefits for consumers and for shark conservation, since several of the sharks analyzed in the study are threatened with extinction due to over fishing.

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Photo – Neil Hammerschlag, Ph.D.

Fins and muscle tissue samples were collected from 10 shark species found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans for concentrations of two toxins—mercury and β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA).  “Recent studies have linked BMAA to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS),” said Deborah Mash, Professor of Neurology and senior author of the study.

Researchers at the UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and UM Miller School of Medicine detected concentrations of mercury and BMAA in the fins and muscles of all shark species at levels that may pose a threat to human health. While both mercury and BMAA by themselves pose a health risk, together they may also have synergistic toxic impacts.

“Since sharks are predators, living higher up in the food web, their tissues tend to accumulate and concentrate toxins, which may not only pose a threat to shark health, but also put human consumers of shark parts at a health risk,” said the study’s lead author Neil Hammerschlag, a research assistant professor at the UM Rosenstiel School and UM Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy.

Shark products including shark fins, cartilage and meat are widely consumed in Asia and globally in Asian communities, as a delicacy and as a source of traditional Chinese medicine. In addition, dietary supplements containing shark cartilage are consumed globally.

Recently scientists have found BMAA in shark fins and shark cartilage supplements. The neurotoxic methyl mercury has been known to bioaccumulate in sharks over their long lifespans.

About 16 percent of the world’s shark species are threatened with extinction. The shark species sampled in this study range in threat status from least concern (bonnethead shark) to endangered (great hammerhead) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

“Our results suggest that humans who consume shark parts may be at a risk for developing neurological diseases.” said Mash.

“People should be aware and consider restricting consumption of shark parts.  Limiting the consumption of shark parts will have positive health benefits for consumers and positive conservation outcomes for sharks, many of which are threatened with extinction due in part to the growing high demand for shark fin soup and, to a lesser extent, for shark meat and cartilage products.” said Hammerschlag.

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Alzheimer’s is a common contributor to death

Regular readers know that I have a vested interest in Alzheimer’s Disease information having lost an aunt to it as well as two other family members to dementia. According to research by Rush University Medical Center the disease is responsible for far more deaths that are reported.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Alzheimer’s as the cause of about 70,000 deaths in 2010, making it the sixth greatest cause of death (heart disease and cancer hold a firm grip on the top two spots). However, when related conditions are considered, the number actually is about 500,000, according to a research study authored by Bryan James, PhD, an epidemiologist with the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center and assistant professor in Rush’s Department of Internal Medicine.

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Many people with the illness succumb to related conditions rather than Alzheimer’s itself. The most common are pneumonia and falls, according to Raj Shah, MD, a researcher with the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center and an associate professor in the Rush Department of Family Medicine.

“They may be listed as the causes on a death certificate, but the person wouldn’t have had that fall or pneumonia without Alzheimer’s,” Shah says. Continue reading

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How much longer to live – Infographic

Since the object of this blog is to live past 100, I thought this infographic with the obstacles in our way causes of death might be useful.

This infographic displays data from the World Health Organization’s “Projections of mortality and causes of death, 2015 and 2030.” The report details all deaths in 2015 by cause and makes predictions for 2030, giving an impression of how global health will develop over the next 14 years.

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Source: Medigo.

Tony

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Time Magazine cover story – Exercise

It’s really thrilling to see stuff we write about here pop up in the popular press. Time has a cover story on exercise in its latest, 12 Sep 2016, issue. Please buy it! I guarantee you will learn valuable information on this important subject.

Mandy Oaklander does a bang up job and it is well worth the cover price if you are not already a Time subscriber.

Before quoting from it, I want to direct you to my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits).

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I loved the following: “Eating alone will not keep a man well,” Hippocrates famously wrote. “He must also take exercise.”(my emphasis)

Following is the conclusion of the Time piece:

“Everyone knows exercise is healthy. Now scientists are understanding exactly why. Here are some of the amazing things that happen to a body in motion.

“Increased blood flow to the brain creates new blood vessels. Exercise also triggers the release of chemicals that dull pain and lighten mood.

“Exercise revs up blood flow to the skin, delivering nutrients to the epidermis and helping wounds heal faster.

“The body is better able to burn fat for energy instead of carbs, causing fat cells to shrink.

“Moving quickly makes the heart pump more blood to the body’s tissues, including the muscles. That extra oxygen helps muscles better withstand fatigue.

“Repeated weight-bearing contractions make muscles grow and put pressure on the bones, increasing their density.

“Exercise may protect telomeres, the tiny caps on the ends of chromosomes. This appears to slow the aging of cells.”

Tony

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Fun fitness facts …

I didn’t find a lot of jokey fitness pics this week, but there were some excellent thoughts put forward. I hope you will find them useful.

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If the pup looks familiar, she is Gabi, my dog. Clearly, very intelligent.

 

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Last, but not least, some humor …

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Tony

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What happens when a smoker quits?

This is the yang post to yesterday’s yin which was all about the negative effects that smoking has on your body. Today the focus is on the positive. Look at all the good things that happen when a smoker quits. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving.

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Tony

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50 Reasons to stop smoking today – Infographic

I truly hope that none of you regular readers are still smoking. I have put up a Page on the subject – Please check it out for more reasons – How many ways does smoking harm you?

Surely one of these 50 reasons will hit home with you …

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Remember, smoking damages every organ in your body.

Tony

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Age-related declines start early … WSJ

As a 76-year-old, I am totally aware of the age-related declines in my body. For starters, I don’t hear so well, I need bigger print to read comfortably and my hair gets thinner by the day. The list goes on…

When I was younger, I didn’t pay much attention to age-related changes going on. Probably because I was having too much fun.

But, it turns out that the aging decline starts much earlier than we are aware.

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Einstein enjoyed his bike riding for many years

The Wall Street Journal says, “Age-related hearing starts going downhill at 25, though it isn’t noticeable until decades later. We start losing bone mass as early as our 30s. And a recent study by Duke University researchers found that some types of physical decline—particularly lower-body strength and balance—often begin in the 50s.” Continue reading

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The Portion Plate – Size Does Matter

I stumbled on this a while back. The Portion Plate looks kind of like a kid’s plate with the illustrations on it, playing cards, a cassette a CD, a baseball, but it is for adults. The Portion Plate gives graphic demonstrations of how big a serving should be. I think it is a great idea in this world that bombards us with super-sized servings of everything and totally distorting idea of proper portion sizes. This group sees portion sizes as “contributing to the obesity epidemic and putting roughly one-third of Americans at risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and some cancers…”

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Diet plus exercise can reduce Alzheimer’s protein build-ups, UCLA study shows

Regular readers know that I have a particular interest in Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia as I have lost several family members to them. I am 76 years old and want to maintain my mental faculties through my senior years. That’s one of the reasons I stress exercise and its positive influence on the brain so often on the blog. See my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits)  for more.

So I was thrilled to learn that UCLA has some positive news on that front.

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A study by researchers at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior has found that a healthy diet, regular physical activity and a normal body mass index  can reduce the incidence of protein build-ups that are associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. (my emphasis) Continue reading

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Fitness Quiz – do’s and don’ts – Web MD

I am passing this along and recommending it for a couple of reasons. First, As a guy who doesn’t use a personal trainer, I have had injuries as a result of my do it yourself techniques. Second, I love that folks want to exercise to keep themselves healthy and fit. I hope some of the facts in this quiz will help you to avoid injuries in your pursuits. Nothing is worse than an injury you get exercising. It seems to me the bitterest irony.

WebMD offers this quiz which tests your Fitness IQ. Good luck!

Here are a couple of examples, to consider: By the way, WebMD also gives explanations for its answers.

No pain, no gain –  True or False?

Do your cardio exercises before your strength training – True or False?

Water is always better than sports drinks? – True or False?

You can target specific parts of your body to lose weight – True or False?

Good luck!

Tony

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5 Myths about your eyes – Harvard

Here’s something  you haven’t seen here before, information about your eyes. And, yet, our eyes are arguably our most important sense.

Harvard Healthbeat says, “Of your five senses, which one are you most afraid of losing? If you’re like most people, your answer is your ability to see. Because our eyesight is so precious, it’s no wonder that myths abound about what can damage our eyes — and what can protect them. Here, we debunk five common myths — and tell you how to truly keep your eyes healthy.

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Myth: Doing eye exercises will delay the need for glasses.
Fact: Eye exercises will not improve or preserve vision or reduce the need for glasses. Your vision depends on many factors, including the shape of your eyeball and the health of the eye tissues, neither of which can be significantly altered with eye exercises. Continue reading

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Low blood pressure diet also cuts risk of kidney disease – Johns Hopkins

People who ate a diet high in nuts and legumes, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and low in red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened beverages and sodium were at a significantly lower risk of developing chronic kidney disease over the course of more than two decades, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research suggests.

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The diet, known as DASH for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, was designed to help reduce blood pressure, but research has shown it to be effective in preventing a series of other chronic illnesses including cardiovascular disease. The findings, published online in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, suggest that kidney disease now can be added to that list.

“In addition to offering other health benefits, consuming a DASH-style diet could help reduce the risk of developing kidney disease,” says study leader Casey M. Rebholz, PhD, MPH, MS, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Bloomberg School. “The great thing about this finding is that we aren’t talking about a fad diet. This is something that many physicians already recommend to help prevent chronic disease.”

Researchers estimate kidney disease affects 10 percent of the U.S. population — more than 20 million people. Less than one in five who have it are aware that they do, however. (my emphasis)
Continue reading

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7 Foods That Might Be Making You Anxious

Some useful ideas here if you are looking to eat healthy.

Please check out my Page – What’s wrong with soft drinks? for more on them.

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Tony

Our Better Health

A lifelong friend of mine suffered from debilitating anxiety for years. It was hard to watch her have panic attacks, knowing that people did not understand her behavior. Although anxiety disorders are the most common mental health illness in the United States, only about one-third of affected individuals receive some form of treatment.

From a young age, I read books every chance I got. Taking a particular interest in the human brain, it was only natural that I would go on to study psychology and neuroscience at a university. Focusing on both mental health and nutrition, I quickly realized how one’s diet influenced brain health and overall well-being  — my attention shifted and this connection has been the focal point of my research ever since.

Anxiety and food — what’s the connection?

Anxiety disorders are complex and although various factors play a role, chemical imbalances within the brain cannot be…

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Mayo Clinic – What is Nonexercise Activity Thermogenesis?

The Mayo Clinic Health Letter asks if something as simple as getting out of your chair can improve your health? Surprisingly, it can.

It’s based on the concept of nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). NEAT is all of the calories (energy) you burn simply by living, rather than through exercise. This includes carrying in groceries, playing charades or sitting less. NEAT activities can lead to reduced body fat, improved cholesterol levels, a healthier heart and reduced risk of common weight-related conditions. (my emphasis)

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Consider working at a standing desk …

The movements you make throughout the day may not provide the benefits of regular exercise. But if you struggle to fit exercise into your day or if you have a sedentary lifestyle, increasing your daily NEAT can provide a boost in your physical activity.

To include more NEAT in your day:
•    Stand while on the phone
•    Walk around the house during TV commercials
•    Park in the farthest spot in a parking lot
•    Dance around the house while cooking and cleaning
•    Tackle yard work — water plants, pull weeds, clear rocks and sticks
•    Tend a garden
•    Invest in a movement-based video game system such as a Wii
•    Wash your car by hand
•    Organize your closets
•    Use a standing desk
•    Take up a new craft
•    Volunteer — set up or take down an event, greet at the door, serve a meal

Want more useful health information? Visit the store now to see the latest products from Mayo Clinic doctors, specialists and editorial staff.

Must confess that while I never heard if the term NEAT, I love the principle. This fits right in with eat less; move more; live longer – the mantra of this blog.

I would just like to add that my Page Do you know the dangers of too much sitting? fits right in here.

Tony

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Meditation may lead to less age-related gray matter atrophy in the brain

I feel strongly about the benefits of exercise in keeping our bodies and brains strong as we age. There is an entire Page – Important facts about your brain – (and exercise benefits) that you can check out. However, it is nice to know that we also have mental methods to preserve our aging brains.

Since 1970, life expectancy around the world has risen dramatically, with people living more than 10 years longer. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that starting when people are in their mid-to-late-20s, the brain begins to wither — its volume and weight begin to decrease. As this occurs, the brain can begin to lose some of its functional abilities.

So although people might be living longer, the years they gain often come with increased risks for mental illness and neurodegenerative disease. Fortunately, a new study shows meditation could be one way to minimize those risks.

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Brain scans of meditators and non-meditators. Areas of the brain affected by aging (in red) are fewer and less widespread in people who meditate.

Building on their earlier work that suggested people who meditate have less age-related atrophy in the brain’s white matter, a new study by UCLA researchers found that meditation appeared to help preserve the brain’s gray matter, the tissue that contains neurons. Continue reading

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