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Friday
Sep262014

Do You Warm Up and Cool Down When You Exercise? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed whether a cool down is necessary and beneficial after a workout: Cooling Down After Exercise? Check out the article and let us know whether you warm up or cool down, or both, while exercising.

Thursday
Sep252014

Too Cynical for Your Own Good?

Cynicism has been linked to heart disease and other health problems, and now research from Finland suggests that it may also be a risk factor for dementia. The research team tested 1,449 people with an average age of 71 for dementia, and also asked them to respond to a questionnaire that has proved reliable in determining levels of cynicism. The study participants were asked to agree or disagree with statements such as "I think most people would lie to get ahead," "It is safer to trust nobody," and "Most people will use somewhat unfair reasons to gain profit or an advantage rather than lose it." Based on their scores, participants were classified as possessing low, moderate or high levels of cynical distrust. After the investigators adjusted for other dementia risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking, they observed that of the 164 people with high levels of cynicism, 14 developed dementia. This rate was about double the incidence of dementia compared to nine of 212 people with low levels of cynicism. Eventually, these findings, if confirmed by further studies, may lead the way toward addressing attitude as part of preventive health care.

Sources:
Anna-Maija Tolppanen et al “Late-life cynical distrust, risk of incident dementia, and mortality in a population-based cohort”, Neurology, http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000000528

Tuesday
Sep232014

Melatonin for More Sleep and Better Bones

Melatonin might not be the entire solution for women prone to thinning bones, but at least the hormone seems to have strengthened the skeletons of elderly rats, suggesting that it might be an approach to osteoporosis prevention in humans. Researchers at the McGill School of Dentistry found that giving 22-month-old rats (about age 60 in human years) melatonin for 10 weeks (the equivalent of six human years) led to an increase in bone volume, bone density and bone flexibility compared to rats of the same age that didn’t receive melatonin. The rationale behind this study is that osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone, are active at night, while bone-building osteoblasts are active during the day. Since humans tend to sleep less well as they get older, osteoclasts become more active in the time they operate, speeding bone breakdown. Melatonin, known to regulate circadian rhythm, seems to have boosted bone building in the rats, but the researchers still need to determine if the supplement prevented bone breakdown or actually promoted repairs of damage bones. More research and clinical trials are now needed to find out exactly how melatonin influences skeletal health. Stay tuned.

Sources:
Faleh Tamimi et al, “Melatonin dietary supplement as an anti-aging therapy for age-related bone loss,” Rejuvenation Research, doi:10.1089/rej.2013.1542.

Monday
Sep222014

Can Tai Chi Slow Aging?

A new study from Taiwan suggests that the ancient system of movement known as tai chi can slow the aging process. Researchers conducted a yearlong study comparing the effects of the practice to those of brisk walking or to no exercise at all among a group of volunteers under the age of 25. Study co-author Shinn-Zong Lin explained that his team used young volunteers because “they have better cell-renewing abilities than the old population, and we also wanted to avoid having chronic diseases and medications as interfering factors." The researchers compared CD34+ cells in the three groups of volunteers and found that those in the tai chi group had counts “significantly higher” than the brisk-walking group. These cells are important “cluster markers” for blood stem cells that are involved in cell self-renewal, differentiation and proliferation changes that amount to rejuvenating and "anti-aging" effects, the researchers said. They also noted that tai chi has been confirmed to benefit patients with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease and fibromyalgia, and cited tai chi’s possible advantages for pain reduction, fall prevention, balance improvement, aerobic capacity, blood pressure, quality of life and stress reduction.

My take? Tai chi is a practical and enjoyable form of mental and physical stimulation and is beneficial for overall health. Like yoga, tai chi is an effective method of stress reduction and relaxation, and it promotes flexibility, balance, and improved body awareness. It is pleasant to watch and perform, and may be particularly helpful for the elderly, as it reduces risk of injury from falls. While it certainly has potential to improve longevity, we’ll need more studies to determine if it can actually reverse the effects of aging.

Sources:
Shinn-Zong Lin et al, “Tai Chi Intervention Increases Progenitor CD34+ Cells in Young Adults. Cell Transplant. 23(4-5):613-620; 2014.

Saturday
Sep202014

Good News About Nuts

You’ve heard it dozens of times - nuts are good for you, but don’t eat too many because they are full of fat and calories. However, research indicates that the reality is somewhat more complex – and that’s good news for nut-lovers who are watching their weight. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that while a handful (about 22 kernels) of almonds contains 170 calories, only 129 calories are actually absorbed by the body. The rest are passed, because the protein and fat in them are relatively hard to digest. Even better news – after one daily handful of almonds, three percent of the calories you consume for the next 24 hours are rendered indigestible. That means if you eat 2,000 calories in a day, the almonds you ate in the morning will remove about 60 calories from that total. The effect probably applies to other kinds of nuts, although only almonds have been rigorously studied. So enjoy your nuts – their monounsaturated fat content appears to lower cardiovascular risk. And of course, they’re delicious!

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!

Friday
Sep192014

What Supplements Do You Take? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed nutrients and minerals necessary for vision and eye health: What Nutrients Can Help Protect Vision? Check out the article and let us know what supplements you take as part of your daily routine.

Thursday
Sep182014

Strange But True: Cell Phone Allergy

Unexplainable itchy rash on your face? A recent investigation indicates the possibility that you – and your kids – may be allergic to the metal in your cell phones. A literature overview published in the peer-reviewed journal Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonology, reports that many cell phones release low levels of metals. Mobile phone users have potential exposures to nickel and chromium, both of which can cause allergic contact dermatitis (ACD), which typically presents as red, itchy rash in adults and children. The review states that nickel sensitization is common in kids and that the rash can appear on the face, neck, hands, breast, or anterior thighs, which the investigators note are often exposed to cell phones. Nickel release from mobile phones appears to be common and has been reported in both cheap and expensive mobile phones, the reviewers reported. However, they also commented that nickel can be released from a wide variety of items we use every day including jewelry, belt buckles, zippers, buttons, snaps, glasses, coins, and keys. In addition to mobile phones, nickel sensitization – and ACD - can come from the metals in laptop computers, video game controllers, and other technology accessories, according to the reviewers.

Sources:
Jacob Thyssen et al, “Mobile Phone Dermatitis in Children and Adults: A Review of the Literature,” Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonology, doi: 10.1089/ped.2013.0308.

Tuesday
Sep162014

Prudent Diet to Prevent Prostate Cancer

The latest word on this subject comes from researchers at Duke University who found that men whose diets were high in complex carbohydrates and fiber had a risk of prostate cancer that was 70 percent lower than men whose diets were lowest in complex carbs. These findings were applicable to both the African-American and Caucasian men in the study, and spoke to the risk of both low-grade and high-grade prostate cancer. The researchers also reported that high fiber intake was linked to a “significant reduction” in the risk of high-grade prostate cancer, noting that men whose fiber intake was highest had a 50 percent lower risk of high-grade prostate cancer. The findings were presented at a meeting of the American Urological Association. The research team additionally reported that carbohydrate foods with a high glycemic index might increase the risk of prostate cancer among African-American men. The report was derived from an ongoing study at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center and included data on 156 men with diagnosed prostate cancer and 274 without prostate cancer.

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:
Charles Bankhead, “Carbs May Lower Risk of Prostate Cancer,” Medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage, http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/AUA/45911 accessed May 23, 2014