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Tuesday
Nov042014

Surprising News About Your Eyes

The more educated you are, the greater the odds that you’re nearsighted. German researchers came to this interesting conclusion after checking the eyes of 4,685 men and women ages 33 to 74. They found nearsightedness (myopia) among 60.3 percent of those who graduated from the 13-year German secondary school system compared with 41.6 percent of those who spent only 10 years in school, 27.2 percent of those who graduated after nine years, and 26.9 of those who didn’t graduate. They also reported that the percentage of nearsighted people was higher among university grads in general than among graduates of vocational schools or those who had no professional training. The investigators concluded that the effect of education on nearsightedness was much greater than that predicted by genetics, and hypothesized that environmental factors play a much bigger role in myopia than previously thought. They reported that the strong association between nearsightedness and education remained even after they adjusted for age, gender and variation in DNA sequences associated with myopia.

Want To Age Gracefully?
It's not about the lines on the face - it's about the wisdom behind them. Don’t lament the passing of the years, celebrate all you have achieved, learned and earned, for your benefit and the benefit of others. Begin today - start your 14-day free trial of Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging now, and save 30% when you join!

Sources:
Alireza Mirshahi et al, “Myopia and Level of Education.” Ophthalmology, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ophtha.2014.04.017

Monday
Nov032014

Good News About Organic Fruits and Vegetables

Aside from the fact that they enable you to avoid pesticides used on conventionally grown produce, a new review has found that organic fruits and vegetables often provide higher levels of health-protective antioxidants. While the authors haven’t claimed that organic fruits and vegetables are necessarily better for your health than conventionally grown produce, they did point out the antioxidants have been linked to a lower risk of cancer and other diseases in previous studies. This contradicts the results of earlier reports that found no nutritional advantage to organic fruits and vegetables. The new investigation is a statistical “meta-analysis” of the findings from 343 previously published studies. It concluded that overall, organic crops contained 17 percent more antioxidants than conventionally grown crops and that levels of flavanones (a nutrient abundant in citrus fruits) were 69 percent higher in organic produce. Surprisingly, the review also found that organically grown foods, particularly grains, were lower in cadmium, a toxic metal that sometimes contaminates conventional fertilizers.

My take? While this review's authors made no claims for the health benefits of organic foods, their conclusions illuminate the potential differences between organic and conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. We haven’t had many studies that directly compared organic and conventionally grown foods and found that that one is better than the other. We know there is evidence of pesticide residues in 71 to 90 percent of conventionally produced foods, however, compared to 13 to 23 percent of organically grown foods, and pesticides are definitely not good for you.

Eating Anti-Inflammatory Made Simple
Take the guesswork out of a healthful diet with Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging. Our shopping and eating guides, over 300 recipes, tips and videos follow Dr. Weil's recommended anti-inflammatory principles for promoting better health, from head to toe. See what it's about - start your free trial today and save 30% when you join!

Sources:
Carlo Leifert et al, “Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses.” British Journal of Nutrition, June 2014 26:1-18. [Epub ahead of print]

Friday
Oct312014

What Flavor Do You Prefer? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed how food flavor affects our health, specifically bitter flavor: Bet on Bitter? Check out the article and let us know what flavor your prefer the most.

Thursday
Oct302014

Can You Dance Away Pain?

If arthritis is cramping your style, dancing might help you feel better. A new study from St. Louis University found that a group of seniors was able to walk faster and reported less pain after completing several months of dance therapy. The 34 participants in the small study were mostly women whose average age was 80. They all reported pain or stiffness in their knees and hips that was primarily due to osteoarthritis. The researchers divided the participants into two groups. The 19 volunteers in one group danced for 45 minutes once or twice a week; the other 15 volunteers did not receive dance therapy but participated in other, similar physical activities. After the 12-week study ended, the participants who performed the dance therapy were able to walk faster. There was enough of a change, in fact, to enable them to cross a street quickly and get to the bathroom faster than they might have before the dance therapy. Another bonus: those who had dance therapy were able to reduce the prescriptions they were taking by 39 percent, while those who didn’t dance actually increased their medication use by 21 percent.

Sources:
Jean Krampe et al, “Does dance-based therapy increase gait speed in older adults with chronic lower extremity pain: A feasibility study.” Geriatric Nursing, 2014; DOI:10.1016/j.gerinurse.2014.03.008

Wednesday
Oct292014

Mustard - Spices in the Kitchen (Video)

Dr. Weil discusses mustard seeds and the various types available for culinary use. There are three species for mustard that are most-commonly used: black, white, and brown. Black mustard is the most pungent and originated in the Middle East. Brown mustard is used to make Dijon mustard and is native to the Himalayas. White mustard is the mildest, native to the eastern Mediterranean, and is used to make traditional yellow mustard. Medicinally, mustard is used to treat gastrointestinal issues as well as joint-related aches and pains.

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Tuesday
Oct282014

Menopause Can Give You a Headache

Here’s some news that will vindicate every woman who blames menopause for migraine headaches. A new investigation suggests that the headaches can begin or worsen in the years just before menopause and, according to the researchers, can now be considered a symptom of menopause, right up there with hot flashes. The monthly decline of estrogen before menstruation has long been blamed for menstrual migraines. Now, the low estrogen typical of menopause, as well as other hormonal fluctuations as menopause approaches, may be the trigger for migraines that occur at this time of life in some women. The migraine and menopause investigation was part of the larger American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention Study, a survey of 120,000 U.S. households. The researchers gathered data on 3,603 women ages 35 to 65 who have migraines, and classified them based on headache frequency and on whether the women were premenopausal, peri-menopausal or postmenopausal. The question now, the researchers said, is how to best treat these menopause migraines. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Headache Society annual meeting in Los Angeles.

Sources:
Mary Mcvean, “Women: You are having more headaches around menopause, researchers say.” Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2014, http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-women-headaches-around-menopause-20140627-story.html, accessed July 5, 2014

Monday
Oct272014

Less Sleep, Faster Brain Aging

This troubling finding comes from a Singapore-based study showing that losing sleep with advancing age elicits changes in a region of the brain that is a marker for faster cognitive decline. The 66 Chinese seniors who participated had MRIs to measure their brain volume in conjunction with an evaluation of their cognitive function every two years. They also reported how many hours they typically slept. The researchers, from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore, reported that study participants who slept fewer hours showed evidence of brain ventricle enlargement and declines in cognitive performance. This study was the first to look at the effect of sleep on brain ventricle enlargement, a known sign of cognitive decline. The investigators cited research elsewhere as showing that seven hours of sleep is associated with the best cognitive test scores in more than 150,000 adults, but noted that it is not yet known whether seven hours is optimum for overall physiology and long term brain health.

My take? This study adds a serious risk to the list of dangers posed by sleep deprivation throughout life. We know that lack of sleep increases the risk of accidents caused by fatigue and that not getting enough sleep is a risk factor for weight gain, perhaps by disrupting production of the appetite regulating hormones ghrelin and leptin. Sleep deprivation can also disrupt the body's regulation of blood sugar, which can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. And laboratory studies suggest that not getting adequate rest may also elevate levels of stress hormones, boost blood pressure, and increase inflammation - all changes that may lead or contribute to health concerns later in life. If you’re not getting enough sleep, the sooner you establish new habits, the better for the long-term health of your mind and body. Here are my recommendations for getting optimal sleep.

Want To Age Gracefully?
It's not about the lines on the face - it's about the wisdom behind them. Don’t lament the passing of the years, celebrate all you have achieved, learned and earned, for your benefit and the benefit of others. Begin today - start your 14-day free trial of Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging now, and save 30% when you join!

Sources:
June C. Lo et al, “Sleep Duration and Age-Related Changes in Brain Structure and Cognitive Performance.” SLEEP, 2014; DOI: 10.5665/sleep.3832

Friday
Oct242014

How Do You Store Your Food? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed the health concerns and safety of using food packaging to store food: How Safe is Food Packaging? Check out the article and let us know what you use when storing food.