Processing speed, the measure of how our brains absorb and respond to information, seems to be especially hard hit as we age. The fraying of white matter, the specialized cells of the brain that communicate messages between neurons, are greatly affected after age 40. A study conducted at the University of Illinois and published in “the Frontiers of Aging Neuroscience” showed a difference in brain scans of older, healthy yet sedentary adults before and after they had incorporated dancing into their lifestyle. Participants were divided into three groups. One group was assigned brisk walking, another stretching and balance training and the final group intricate choreography in country dancing. After six months, the three groups were retested and the group that was assigned to learn new dancing techniques had a remarkable increase in the density of the white matter. It seems that the choreography, which involved fluid lines and squares along with continually changing partners was responsible for the increase in processing speed. New activities that include movement and socializing seem to be the key in retaining mental acuity.
Plant life possesses special chemicals that may have a tremendous impact on our quality of life. They have been given a special classification called phytochemicals. These are chemicals that are responsible for giving a plant its protective coloring, its unique odor and special taste. Vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds are rich sources of these phytochemicals. These chemicals have a tremendous effect on the chemicals in our body. Scientists are now attributing plant chemicals with the power to prevent one in five cases of cancer. Studies are finding that they are powerful in stimulating the immune system against fighting off bacteria and viruses. They can reduce inflammation, block environmental carcinogens, trigger death of damaged cells as well as regulate hormones. As far back as the early 1900s scientists started questioning why people who ate a diet rich in plant food had lower rates of cancer. It was then discovered that certain plants such as broccoli had sulforaphane which seemed to stop cells from becoming cancerous. However, not all of these chemicals have been named or classified. Some of the more commonly known are lycopene in tomatoes, resveratrol in grapes, curcumin in turmeric, beta-carotene in sweet potatoes and the list goes on and on. Supplements have now been made available for many of these chemicals. However, they are not as effective and, in some cases, have even proven to be toxic if taken in large amounts. Phytochemicals are best absorbed if taken in combination with their original food source. Some questions remain to be answered. What quantity is sufficient for maximum health, how long does their protection last, how do they react with each other and to what extent does cooking affect them? Until all of these questions are answered it can’t hurt to sit down and enjoy a colorful plate of mixed fruits and vegetables.
Myopia (nearsightedness) is a condition that has steadily increased since the 1970s. According to the National Eye Institute, 90% of high school graduates now have this condition. With Myopia there is an elongation of the eyeball changing the angle in which sunlight hits the eyeball in turn making it difficult to focus on distant objects. The condition has been attributed to the many hours young people spend on technology. A new study in Jama Ophthalmology is attributing Myopia to many hours spent indoors and the lack of sunshine. The London school of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine examined 3,100 older Europeans. All factors were considered from careers to hours spent reading. Those that had been exposed to UVB radiation from the sun, between ages 14 and 19, were 25% less likely to have developed Myopia by middle age. Caution should still be taken as to avoiding sun exposure during peak hours.
A study published by the Journal Chemosphere found that Manhattan neighborhoods that had the highest blood lead levels in children also had high levels in pigeons that inhabited the same region. Rebecca Calisi of Bernard College conducted the study. Data from 825 pigeons was examined. There was a direct correlation between pigeons and children in both Soho and Greenwich village according to statistical analysis by the New York City Health Department and data from the Wild Bird Fund. Pigeons are easy to study because they live in close proximity to humans, eat the same food and spend most of their lives in a square mile. This information could prove invaluable in detecting areas of the city that might pose a potential risk for lead poisoning and therefore prevent health problems before they arise. The benefits of using pigeons could extend outside the city limits where they could be useful in monitoring heavy metals, pesticides and fire retardants.
1) It was once very rare and sought after. It has even been recorded that it was priced higher then gold at one time. 2) It is an interesting addition to tomato sauce. A stick of cinnamon will add a hint of sweetness. 3) Ancient Egyptians used it to make their mummies. It has a preservative quality about it due to its ability to inhibit bacterial growth. Cinnamon can be used as a food preservative. 4) Cinnamon contains polyphenols which has the ability to regulate blood sugar levels. This makes it a great spice to start off your day. Add it to your oatmeal or morning shake. 5) As far as cost, taste tests proved no difference in brands that were priced at $1 as opposed to those priced at $4.50 6) This spice possesses very high anti-inflammatory properties because of its ability to increase blood circulation.
Most of us are familiar with the word antihistamine and its ability to block the release of histamine from certain cells. Taking an antihistamine can be life-saving to a person who is having a severe reaction to an overproduction of histamines in the body. What exactly are histamines? Do they serve any purpose? Histamines play a role in starting our digestive process, controlling appetite, regulating metabolism and keeping our immune system awake by helping white blood cells fight infections in infected tissues. A certain cell type, mast cell, produces histamine and are numerous in the nose, mouth and blood vessels where they can defend the body against invading pathogens. While a histamine reaction can have a devastating effect on certain people, avoiding certain foods may have a good deal to do with preventing the over production of histamines in the body. However, the list of foods that contain different levels of histamines is quite long. It includes certain alcoholic beverages, seafood, fermented foods, seeds, nuts, teas, coffee, fruits and a whole range of baked goods that are made with yeast. Is it beneficial to cut out high histamine producing foods while so many of them are of high nutritional value? Since it is almost impossible to avoid ingesting histamine producing foods, researchers are exploring whether blocking histamine production is as important as why the body is overproducing it. They are looking into the possibility of how our gut is handling the influx of histamines once they are within the small intestine where most of our digestion takes place. If a person’s digestive tract is not operating correctly certain bacteria can convert histidine, an amino acid found in food, to histamine which is one possibility for overproduction. A second possibility is the lack of the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO). This particular enzyme is responsible for the breakdown of histamine before it is allowed to enter the bloodstream. Certain teas such as green and black as well as energy drinks and medications have been connected with suppressing this important enzyme. In reality very few people are actually histamine intolerant. Healthy individuals can metabolize histamine without any problem. Check with your doctor and explore carefully the condition of your gut. You can do this by keeping a careful diary of reactions to certain foods and environmental allergens.
Data was collected on 2,745 children by Canadian researchers. The children selected were between ages 1 to 5 and a main factor was their height and weight. They collected blood samples and information on whether the children drank 1%, 2% or whole milk. The conclusion of the experiment was that the children who drank whole milk had a higher Vitamin D level and that the body mass index (B.M.I.) of these children was lower. The results were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Although the reason is not yet clear, it has been suggested that Vitamin D is better absorbed with a higher content of fat which is found in whole milk. On the other hand, low-fat may leave a child hungrier for other foods that are much more calorie dense.