Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Dirty Little Secret of Exercise

Lose Big with Jillian Michaels
Moderate exercise may be good for your health, but if you're exercising to lose weight, you could be in for a big disappointment. TIME magazine reports that obesity experts agree that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week is not enough to make a real difference in body weight.

Here's the dirty little secret of exercise: If you want that workout on the treadmill or in the pool to result in weight loss, you had better keep at it for at least an hour a day, according to a study from the Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh.

The study: Led by John Jakicic, the team followed about 200 overweight or obese women ages 21 to 45 during a weight loss program that lasted two years. Average body weight was 193 pounds. Each participant was given a free treadmill to use at home, as well as regular group meetings and telephone pep talks. They were told to eat between 1,200 and 1,500 calories a day. Each person was randomly assigned to one of these four exercise groups:
--Burn 1,000 calories a week through high exercise intensity.
--Burn 1,000 calories a week through low exercise intensity.
--Burn 2,000 calories a week through high exercise intensity.
--Burn 2,000 calories a week through low exercise intensity.

The results: More than half the women lost at least 10 percent of their body weight in the first six months; but six months after that, most had relapsed and started gaining the weight back. The women who were able to successfully keep the weight off for two years exercised twice as long as the typical recommendation of 30 minutes a day most days a week. They expended more than twice as many calories as the women who weren't able to lose weight.

How much exercise is needed? Those who lost the most weight exercised on average 68 minutes a day, five days a week. That was about 55 minutes a day more than they had been exercising before the study so they burned an extra 1,848 calories a week. Although exercise was more strongly associated with weight loss than any other factor, including diet, it only worked when the women exercised an hour or more a day. The study findings were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
source: Netscape.com

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Most Heart Attacks Happen at THIS Time

Although heart attacks can and do happen any time of the day or night, the most dangerous time for a cardiovascular emergency, which includes not only sudden cardiac death, rupture or aneurysm of the aorta, but also pulmonary embolism and stroke, is during the last phase of sleep and right after you wake up.

Roberto Manfredini, professor of internal medicine at the University of Ferrara in Italy told TIME magazine that the risk was specifically estimated by a group of Harvard University researchers, who concluded that, on average, the extra risk of having a heart attack between 6 a.m. and noon is 40 percent. If you count only the first three hours after waking up, the relative risk is threefold!

Why? Blame it on circadian rhythms, those physiological changes that repeat at about 24-hour intervals. Most of our cardiovascular functions exhibit circadian changes. A heart attack happens when there is an imbalance between a greater need for oxygen in the heart and a decreased supply of oxygen to the heart--or both. When we wake up, we need more oxygen support to our heart as we begin physical activities and our blood pressure and blood sugar levels rise. "All those factors lead to an increase of oxygen consumption but at the same time contribute to the constriction of vessels. So you have reduced vessel size and reduced blood flow to the coronary vessels," Manfredini tells TIME. Basically, the one time you need the most blood flow, you actually have less.

Healthy people can adjust to this just fine. If you have plaque in the coronary vessel and these changes occur at the same time and then peak at the same time, you have a far higher risk of having a heart attack during the first three hours after waking up. The risk is also high just before waking up in the last stage of sleep, called REM, or rapid eye movement, sleep. "...When you dream, you have a dramatic increase of activity of the autonomic nervous system--even more than when you are awake," Manfredini told TIME. "Probably each of us can remember waking up in the morning sometimes feeling very tired. That's because during that stage of dreams, we were running or facing some danger. Your heart was running, so it was consuming oxygen. And for similar reasons to those when you're awake, that activity is risky if you don't have a good vessel system."

You can't minimize the effect by just waking up later. The pattern holds no matter the exact time you awaken because the risk is linked to activities.
source: Netscape.com

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Friday, September 26, 2008

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

5 Ways to Tell If You Have Bad Breath

Nearly one-third of us suffer from bad breath. Even though you might be one of them, chances are your family, close friends and even your spouse will never let on. But what is too embarrassing for them to tell you could leave you at a real disadvantage. After all, if you don't know you have bad breath, how can you solve this very common hygiene problem?

Dr. Geoffrey Speiser comes to the rescue! This expert on halitosis and the founder of the Australian Breath Clinic, has devised a personal breath checklist to help you determine if you're suffering from bad breath, reports News.com.

Ask yourself these five questions and be brutally honest in your answers:

1. Do you practice good oral hygiene yet never really feel fresh?
Bad breath isn't caused by the onions you ate for lunch. Rather, it's an imbalance in the bacteria lining the mouth, tongue, throat and nasal passages. Even people who have sparkling clean mouths and are in good health can be afflicted with halitosis. Essentially, bad breath is an infection of the oral cavity, and odor is the only clinical sign.

2. Do you often feel unsure about your breath?
Try to smell your own breath. Can't do it? Then pay attention when you are around other people for negative reactions through nonverbal cues. If they back away or put a hand to their face, covering their nose, you need to take action.

3. Do others give you lots of space?
Halitosis is comprised of three gases: hydrogen sulphide, which is a lot like the smell of rotten eggs; methyl mercaptan, which resembles the smell of feces; and dimethyl sulphide, which can smell like cabbage or gasoline. If your mouth is emitting these gases, people will turn away or step back quickly as soon as you open your mouth.

4. Do you frequently have a dry mouth or feel as if your tongue is coated?
Almost all cases of bad breath are caused by a protein breakdown by undesirable bacteria that live on the back of the tongue. The byproducts of this protein breakdown produce those foul smelling gases, and that makes your breath smell foul.

5. Do you take medication for chronic illnesses?
When the natural balance of the mouth changes, bad breath can result. This is especially common for those who suffer from a chronic illness or take medications for high blood pressure, indigestion and allergies.

(Source: Dr. Geoffrey Speiser, Australian Breath Clinic)

If you suspect you have bad breath that can't be cured by brushing your teeth and using mouthwash, it's time to call your dentist for a professional consultation.
--From the Editors at Netscape

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Just-Discovered Side Effect of Viagra

It turns out that Viagra and other impotence drugs not only help men achieve an erection, but also make them want to cuddle by boosting levels of a hormone linked with feelings of love, say researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Reuters Health reports that the drugs, which have the generic name of sildenafil, raise levels of oxytocin in rats by affecting the part of the brain that controls the release of this hormone. And it probably does the same in humans.

Oxytocin is released in abundance during childbirth and during the let-down of milk in breastfeeding mothers, as well as during orgasm and feelings of sexual pleasure. "This is one piece in a puzzle in which many pieces are still not available," lead study author and physiology professor Meyer Jackson said in a statement. "But it raises the possibility that erectile dysfunction drugs could be doing more than just affecting erectile dysfunction."

Jackson said this could give Viagra and related drugs additional uses, perhaps to promote social bonding. While he hopes that other scientists will read about his study and test it in other animals and humans, he cautioned Reuters, "I hope that this doesn't cause some wild orgy of inappropriate recreational use."

Viagra can have fatal side effects if used with certain types of other drugs and should never be used without a doctor's prescription.

The study findings were published in the Journal of Physiology.
--From the Editors at Netscape

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Shocking News About Diet Soft Drinks

1-2-1 Online Nutritional ConsultationIf you're chugging diet soft drinks in an attempt to keep your weight in check, put the soda can down now. People who drink diet sodas have a very high chance of becoming overweight or obese.

Researchers with the long-term San Antonio Heart Study at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio have come up with a puzzling paradox for which they have no good explanation: Over a 26-year study period with 622 normal-weight participants aged 25 to 64, they determined that those who drank diet sodas were more likely to be overweight. Specifically, the risk of being overweight or obese increased 65 percent more with each diet drink per day, reports The Associated Press.

The numbers breakdown is bewildering indeed:

  • Over the course of the study, 32.7 percent of all participants became overweight or obese.
  • Of those who had two or more regular soft drinks a day, 47.2 percent became overweight or obese.
  • Of those who had two or more diet soft drinks a day, 57.1 percent became overweight or obese.
Huh? The researchers are just as puzzled as you are and admit the findings raise more questions than they answer. They emphasized that drinking diet soft drinks does not cause people to gain weight, although they are missing out on healthier beverages. Still, for some reason drinking diet soda in middle age does seem to be linked to a dramatic increase in the chance of gaining weight later.

"I want to be very clear, our findings do not prove that diet soft drinks cause people to gain weight," the study's lead author, Sharon Fowler, an associate faculty member at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio told The Houston Chronicle. "Right now we don't have any clear public message here. This just raises an interesting question."

So what is it then that causes weight gain if it's not the diet drinks? One theory is that someone who drinks diet soda may think it's OK to consume more calories. That is, it's fine to have that giant burger and super-sized fries as long as you wash them down with a Diet Coke.

The study findings were presented at the annual scientific meeting of the American Diabetes Association.
Source: Netscape.com

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Monday, September 15, 2008

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Friday, September 12, 2008

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

You Won't Believe What Makes Us Hungry

No wonder we're all fat! Thinking makes us hungry. That's the word from researchers at Laval University in Quebec City, Canada, who concluded that just using our brains for intellectual activities makes our tummies growl. The harder the intellectual task, the hungrier we get, reports LiveScience.com.

The study: Fourteen college students were divided into three groups. For 45 minutes, each of the three groups did one of the following activities:
--Relaxed in a sitting position.
--Read and summarized a text.
--Completed a series of memory, attention and vigilance tests on a computer. Blood samples to measure glucose were taken before, during and after these tasks. Once the 45 minutes was up, the students were invited to a meal and told they could eat as much as they wanted.

The results: Though the study involved a very small number of participants, the results were striking. The students who performed the more rigorous tasks taking the computer tests ate 253 more calories--or 29.4 percent more--than the couch potatoes. Those who read and summarized a text ate 203 additional calories than the students who just rested. The blood samples revealed that intellectual work causes big fluctuations in glucose levels, compared to rest periods, likely due to the stress of thinking. Lead researcher Jean-Philippe Chaput thinks our bodies react to those fluctuations by demanding food so that glucose, which is the brain's fuel, can be restored to normal levels. Glucose is found in carbohydrates and is supplied to the brain via the bloodstream. Brain cells, which can't make their own glucose, need twice as much energy as other cells in the body.

Even if you're hungry and eat because your brain is demanding it, you'll get fat if you don't balance all that food intake with exercise. "Caloric overcompensation following intellectual work, combined with the fact that we are less physically active when doing intellectual tasks, could contribute to the obesity epidemic currently observed in industrialized countries," Chaput told LiveScience.com. "This is a factor that should not be ignored, considering that more and more people hold jobs of an intellectual nature," the researcher concluded. The study was published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.
source: Netscape.com

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Eat This Before Dinner. Lose Weight?

Sip some chicken soup or any other fatty soup before dinner as an appetizer, and you could reduce the amount of food you eat by a stunning 20 percent.

That's the word from two separate studies at Duke University and Penn State. And this little trick works for everyone--skinny and obese.

In the first study, which was conducted by Duke's D.D. Chen, 12 normal-weight individuals and 12 obese people were each given a bowl of soup before sitting down to an all-you-can-eat pizza meal. The soup contained about 160 calories. Both groups ate about 20 percent less after consuming the fatty soup. However, when the experiment was repeated with a protein-based soup made from eggs with no fat, it had no effect on their appetites, reports HealthDay News.

In a totally separate study, researchers from Penn State University led by doctoral student Julie Flood gave a low-calorie soup made of chicken broth, broccoli, potatoes, cauliflower, carrots and butter to volunteers before they ate a lunch entrée. Health24.com reports that the diners consumed 20 percent fewer calories when they had both the soup and the entrée compared to when they did not have soup. Even when the researchers changed the recipe while still using the same ingredients--altering the soup so it was broth with separate vegetables, chunky vegetable soup, chunky-pureed vegetable soup, and pureed vegetable soup--it still filled them up before they ate the main course.

"Consuming a first-course of low-calorie soup, in a variety of forms, can help with managing weight, as is shown in this research and earlier studies. Using this strategy allows people to get an extra course at the meal, while eating fewer total calories," Flood said in a prepared statement.

The takeaway: Eat a bowl of soup before lunch or dinner so you'll consume less food and lose weight. But make sure you choose a low-calorie, broth-based soup with some fat in it that is between 100 and 160 calories per serving. Do avoid high-calorie, cream-based soups that could actually increase your total caloric intake for the meal.
--From the Editors at Netscape

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Trick to Consume Fewer Calories

Sit down at the table, fold your napkin in your lap and chew slowly. Very, very slowly. If you do this, you will not only enjoy the meal more, but also eat less and lose weight.

That's the promise of researchers from the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, who have confirmed what your mother always knew: Wolfing down your food isn't good for your waistline or table manners.

The study: Reuters reports that on two separate occasions, 30 young women were given a lunch of pasta, tomatoes and cheese. During the first lunch, the women were told to consume the meal as fast as they could eat comfortably, taking no pauses between bites. During the second meal, they were told to take small bites, put their spoons down between bites and chew each mouthful of food a total of 20 to 30 times.

The results: When the women ate the meal slowly and thoroughly chewed their food, they consumed, on average, 70 fewer calories than when they ate the meal quickly. Multiply that times three meals a day and you could lose weight without even breaking a sweat on the treadmill! Best of all, the women said they felt more full and satisfied after eating slowly since they spent more time savoring the meal's flavors, textures and aromas.

Although it's a long-recommended weight-loss tactic, there was little scientific evidence that eating slowly reduces calorie intake--until now. Lead study author Ana M. Andrade told Reuters that dining leisurely gives the body enough time for its natural signals of fullness to kick in, including stomach distension and changes in several appetite-related hormones. If you eat too fast, this doesn't happen, making it easier to overeat and not even realize it.

The study findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

'Potter' Actor Reveals Brain Disorder

Daniel Radcliffe, star of the "Harry Potter" films and soon-to-be Broadway star for his role in "Equus," has revealed he suffers from a neurological disorder called dyspraxia. Radcliffe has a mild form of the impairment that affects coordination and is sometimes mistaken for sheer clumsiness, reports E! Online.

"Yes, Dan Radcliffe does have dyspraxia," his representative confirmed to Britain's Daily Mail. "This is something he has never hidden. Thankfully, his condition is very mild and at worst manifests itself in an inability to tie his shoelaces and bad handwriting." Radcliffe has a good attitude about it, joking to the Mail about his difficulty tying his shoes. "Why, oh why, has Velcro not taken off?"

In fact, Radcliffe credits the disorder for his acting career. Because dyspraxia made school difficult for him, his parents encouraged his desire to act since it increased his confidence. "I was having a hard time at school in terms of being crap at everything, with no discernible talent," he said. Acting changed his life. Radcliffe's Broadway run in "Equus" begins September 5 and concludes February 8.
source: Netscape.com

If you're interested in knowing better this disorder, here's a list of books about dyspraxia:

Dyspraxia : The Hidden Handicap

This informative and very practical book is intended to help parents and teachers equip children with dyspraxia, or developmental coordination disorder, with the strategies that will enable them to live as normal a life as possible with this hidden handicap. Examining the developmental path of the child through the early years at home, at nursery school, grade school, high school, and into adulthood, it offers special tips on how to encourage children with dyspraxia to improve their social skills and develop a strong self-esteem. Included is information about the causes and symptoms of dyspraxia, characteristics of the condition, diagnostic procedures, and a glossary of terms.

Author Biography: Dr. Amanda Kirby is a general practitioner and runs the Healthcall Dyscovery Centre, a clinic for children and adults with coordination difficulties. She broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio and writes a weekly health column syndicated in 42 newspapers.

Can't Play Won't Play : Simply Sizzling Ideals to Getting the Ball Rolling for Children with Dyspraxia

Learning to roller skate or ride a bike should be an enjoyable experience, but for a child with developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD, also known as dyspraxia), these activities can lead to frustration and failure. Can't Play Won't Play is full of practical information, tips and hints to enable children with DCD to access and enjoy activities that other children take for granted.

Whatever game you choose to try with your child, this book will offer handy hints for developing the necessary skills to make it a fun and rewarding experience. From football and rugby to swimming, skipping and skating, the advice covers all the regular childhood activities as well as games to improve physical organization and social skills. The authors provide useful equipment lists and safety tips, and include photographs and diagrams to demonstrate the activities. The delightful illustrations add to the book's appeal, making it a friendly and accessible guide to dip into when you are in need of inspiration.

Can't Play Won't Play is an essential resource for parents, teachers and all those working with children with DCD.

Dyspraxia 5-11 : A Practical Guide

Following on from the author's Dyspraxia in the Early Years, this book takes a very practical view of dyspraxia in children aged 5 to 11 and considers ways of helping teachers and parents to understand this complex condition. The text is based on a developmental framework and areas covered include making friends, coping with the curriculum and boosting the child's self-esteem. It will provide advice and guidance on how to ensure that the most effective support is given to the child in school.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sprinkle This Seasoning on Food. Get Fat?

Watch how you season your food. People who use monosodium glutamate, or MSG, as a flavor enhancer in their food are more likely than people who don't use it to be overweight or obese--even though they have the same amount of physical activity and total calorie intake, according to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health study published this month in the journal Obesity.

Researchers at UNC and in China studied more than 750 Chinese men and women, between the ages of 40 and 59, in three rural villages in north and south China. The majority of study participants prepared their meals at home without commercially processed foods. About 82 percent of the participants used MSG in their food. Those users were divided into three groups, based on the amount of MSG they used. The third who used the most MSG were nearly three times more likely to be overweight than non-users.

"Animal studies have indicated for years that MSG might be associated with weight gain," said Ka He, M.D., assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the UNC School of Public Health. "Ours is the first study to show a link between MSG use and weight in humans." Because MSG is used as a flavor enhancer in many processed foods, studying its potential effect on humans has been difficult. He and his colleagues chose study participants living in rural Chinese villages because they used very little commercially processed food, but many regularly used MSG in food preparation. "We found that prevalence of overweight was significantly higher in MSG users than in non-users," He said. "We saw this risk even when we controlled for physical activity, total calorie intake and other possible explanations for the difference in body mass. The positive associations between MSG intake and overweight were consistent with data from animal studies."

As the percentage of overweight and obese people around the world continues to increase, He said, finding clues to the cause could be very important. "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other health organizations around the world have concluded that MSG is safe," He said, "but the question remains--is it healthy?"
source: Netscape.com

Here are some best-seller cookbooks that can help you prepare healthy meals for your heart:

No-Salt, Lowest-Sodium Cookbook : Hundreds of Favorite Recipes Created to Combat Congestive Heart Failure and Dangerous Hypertension

Donald Gazzaniga, diagnosed with congestive heart failure, was headed for a heart transplant - the only effective medical treatment. Urged by his doctor to keep his sodium intake "under 1,500-2000 mg. a day," Don headed for the kitchen and went to work. Aware that cutting out table salt is the barest beginning of a true low-sodium diet, Don devised recipes for delicious low-sodium dishes that added up to less than 500 mg. daily, 70% lower than those in other low-sodium cookbooks. The result? Don's name has been removed from the transplant list and his doctors believe that his diet played a significant role.

The No-Salt, Lowest-Sodium Cookbook contains:
* Hundreds of good tasting, easy-to-make recipes
* An introduction by Dr. Sandra Barbour of the Kaiser Permanente Foundation
* Advice on finding low-sodium prepared foods, eating in restaurants, etc.
* Accurate sodium content of every ingredient and of the total servings
* A twenty-eight-day low-sodium menu planner by Dr. Jeannie Gazzaniga, Ph.D., R.D.

No-Salt, Lowest-Sodium International Cookbook

When a serious heart problem caused Don Gazzaniga to give up his career in communications, he was warned to keep to a diet with very little salt or other sodium. Undaunted, he discovered a way to continue enjoying the meals he loved and still keep his sodium level far below what most cardiologists feel they can expect from their patients.

The idea has led to three published books found on the kitchen shelves of thousands of grateful families dealing with congestive heart failure. First came a large general cookbook. It was followed by a baking book, and then a book of recipes for light meals and snacks. What could be next?

Before Don’s illness, he and his wife, Maureen, traveled a lot. Don’s job took him all over the globe. And wherever they went, they sought out that country’s traditional dishes. When the light-meals book was finished, Don was looking for yet another low- sodium cookbook idea. He and Maureen pulled out their collection of recipes, did their magic of making them very low on sodium, and voilà! A delicious and healthy treat for the entire family.

The No-Salt, Lowest-Sodium Baking Book

Readers of that first book have kept in touch with Don via his Web site, and have written him letters asking for more. What they most often ask for is a book with more bread recipes, more recipes for cakes and cookies and muffins and tea breads, more of all those great baked things—in short, for the book you now hold in your hands. Don teamed up with his daughter, professional nutritionist Dr. Jeannie Gazzaniga Moloo, to fill The No-Salt, Lowest-Sodium Baking Book with recipes that are as healthy and delicious as possible. As in the previous book, they tell you just how much sodium is in each ingredient. They provide satisfactory substitutes for flavorings that patients with congestive heart failure and high blood pressure shouldn’t have. All easy to make and delicious to eat. Go for it!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

One Factor Doubles Odds of Living to 100

If your mother was under 25 years old when you were born, your odds of living to 100 or beyond just doubled when compared to people whose mothers were older at the time of their birth.

HealthDay News reports that research from the Center on Aging at the University of Chicago suggests that society's oldest members are most likely to be born to its youngest members.

This latest study is one of the most rigorous ever conducted on the subject and may clear up a mystery created by an earlier study by the same research team. It found that being the first-born child in a family boosted longevity, but no one knew why birth order had such a stunning impact. That mystery may have been solved since it's far more likely a first-born will be born to a woman under 25 than will subsequent children. "It turns out that the whole phenomenon of first-born order and longevity is driven by young maternal age," study co-author Leonid Gavrilov told HealthDay News.

The study: Nearly 200 centenarians from across the country were selected for the research. Their ages were verified using every form of documentation available. The researchers then compared the centenarians' histories to those of their siblings in an attempt to explain the "first-born effect."

The results: Two theories were proved to be flat-out wrong:

  • First-borns are better protected from childhood illnesses because they are not surrounded by disease-bearing siblings.
  • First-borns reap many benefits by having a young, strong and productive father.
What they did find out, though, is having a young mother showed a direct correlation with longevity and completely accounted for the so-called first-born effect. "It is very rare in science that you have such clear-cut results. But here, when we saw the results, we went 'Wow,'" Gavrilov told HealthDay News.

Why? "At this point all we have are hypotheses," Gavrilov said. "One is biological--that maybe the eggs are different in their quality, and the best ones, the most vigorous eggs, go first to fertilization." Another thought is that young mothers don't have the latent, chronic infections that might afflict an older woman and could somehow affect the long-term health of her children, interfering with normal development. "So, when the children are born they are superficially healthy, but maybe they are not really strong enough to survive to 100," he told HealthDay News.

The study was funded by the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Society of Actuaries and was presented at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America in Los Angeles.
source: Netscape.com

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Want More Brain Power? Just Do THIS!

You're not the only one who can't find your keys. Memory decline begins early--around age 30 for most adults. That's the bad news. But the good news is that it's actually pretty easy to boost your memory and even build new brain cells. How? Exercise.

When we get our bodies moving and the sweat dripping it not only builds muscle, but also new brain cells in the part of the brain associated with memory and memory loss, according to research from Columbia University Medical Center in New York and the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California.

The study: In this study of mice and men, 11 healthy adults participated in a three-month aerobic exercise program. Each volunteer's overall fitness was assessed through measurements of oxygen volume before and after the training program. In addition, magnetic resonance imaging scans of their brains were taken before and after.

The results:

  • When the mice exercised, they grew new brain cells in the dentate gyrus, a part of the brain's hippocampus that is affected in age-related memory decline.
  • In humans, exercise generated blood flow to the dentate gyrus. As each person improved his or her fitness level, the MRI detected even greater blood flow.
"The remarkable similarities between the exercise-induced cerebral blood volume changes in the hippocampal formation of mice and humans suggest that the effect is mediated by similar mechanisms," wrote Dr. Scott Small, a neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, and brain expert Fred Gage of the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

That is, the researchers found the same patterns in mice and people, which suggests that human beings, just like the mice, grow new brain cells when they exercise.

This finding is significant because it was accomplished via the first-ever observation of neurogenesis, the growth of neurons, within a living brain. Using an MRI imaging technique developed at Columbia, the researchers were able to identify neurogenesis within the dentate gyrus region following exercise. Previously, researchers were only able to prove neurogenesis upon postmortem exam in animal studies. "No previous research has systematically examined the different regions of the hippocampus and identified which region is most affected by exercise," said Small.

What kind of exercise is best for improving your brain power? They're working on that. "Our next step is to identify the exercise regimen that is most beneficial to improve cognition and reduce normal memory loss, so that physicians may be able to prescribe specific types of exercise to improve memory," Small said.
--From the Editors at Netscape

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

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Monday, September 1, 2008

The Best Way to Boost Memory--Fast

If you want to remember where you put your keys, the details from yesterday's business meeting and the name of your new colleague, go to bed. A good night's sleep may be the best way to boost your memory, according to a study from the University of Geneva in Switzerland. The BBC News reports that researchers found sleep appears to have a dramatic impact on the way the brain functions the next day, strengthening connections between nerve cells in the brain in a way that is key to both learning and memory.

The study: A group of 32 volunteers were taught a new skill, such as following a moving dot on a computer screen using a joy stick or shown images they were asked to remember later. One group was allowed to sleep normally for eight hours, while the rest of the volunteers were either completely deprived of sleep or only permitted to take a nap. The next day, they were each asked to repeat the tasks or recall the images while researchers scanned their brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

The results: Not surprisingly, the volunteers who slept eight hours performed far better with the learning and memory tasks, which was also reflected in their brain activity. "Our results revealed that a period of sleep following a new experience can consolidate and improve subsequent effects of learning from the experience," lead researcher Dr. Sophie Schwartz told the BBC. "This improvement comes from changes in brain activity in specific regions that code for relevant features of the learned material." She explained that sleep helps the brain consolidate learned experiences and strengthens weak memories that otherwise might fade in time.

"Sleep is not just a waste of time. It is a very active time, and we need it for things like memory and learning," Dr. Neil Stanley, a sleep expert at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital who was not involved with the Swiss research, told the BBC. "During the day we acquire information, but at night we sort that information. People complain about sleep deprivation, but now with the 24/7 society and information overload we need our sleep more than ever." This University of Geneva study was presented to a Federation of European Neuroscience Societies conference.
source: Netscape.com

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