Exercise Your Brain to Improve Cognition

Dementia, a chronic neurodegenerative condition that impairs memory and thinking, affects millions worldwide. Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent form of dementia. Although treatments can help manage symptoms, a cure for dementia remains elusive. Extensive research is being conducted to comprehend dementia pathology, develop treatments, and explore the impact of lifestyle interventions on dementia risk and cognition. Studies are investigating the effects of activities like reading and solving crossword puzzles on dementia risk and cognition.

In a recent study, researchers examined the impact of cognitive skills in childhood, education level, and leisure activities on cognitive reserve. Over the course of their lives, 1,184 individuals from the UK were closely observed until the age of 69, when they underwent a cognitive test scoring up to 100.

The findings revealed that individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree achieved an average score of 1.22 more points than those without a formal education. Additionally, those who participated in 6 or more leisure activities, including volunteer work, education classes, and social activities, scored an average of 1.53 additional points when compared to those that engaged in only 4 activities.

In the study, individuals with professional or intermediate level jobs consistently scored higher on cognitive tests compared to those with partly skilled or unskilled jobs. Participants that had higher reading abilities showed a slower decline in cognitive function compared to those with lower reading abilities. These findings highlight the importance of intellectual engagement in maintaining and optimizing brain health.

Experts unanimously acknowledge the significance of cognitive reserve in maintaining and safeguarding our mental faculties. However, it is essential to recognize that there are limitations to the extent to which “mental exercises” can enhance this reserve. While individuals with higher IQs tend to fare better against dementia due to their greater cognitive reserve, once the degenerative process sets in, cognitive tasks such as crossword puzzles alone cannot overcome it. Nonetheless, these activities may contribute to slowing down the process to some extent. It is crucial to understand that stimulating the brain through puzzles alone does not necessarily improve cognitive abilities or reduce the risk of dementia. Rather, we must consider our entire vascular system as a unified entity, rather than focusing solely on individual components.

While memory loss may already be a part of your life, don’t underestimate the immense benefits of acquiring new knowledge. By actively challenging your mind, you can drastically improve memory retention, attention span, and critical thinking abilities, ultimately boosting your overall quality of life. The benefits of exploring new experiences and encountering unfamiliar sights extend far beyond simple enjoyment. Our brains have an inherent proclivity for novelty, making it crucial to select activities that strike the perfect balance – not too easy, yet not overwhelmingly difficult.Just as our physical bodies can become unfit, our brains can also lose their peak performance if not regularly exercised.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Cognitive Activity and Onset Age of Incident Alzheimer Disease Dementia

Keep Your Arteries Clean by Eating Carotene Rich Foods

Exciting scientific research from Spain suggests that having abundant carotene levels in your blood might hold the key to keeping your arteries in optimal condition. Carotene, a pigment found in foods like carrots, has been found to have a significant association with lower fat levels in these vital blood vessels. Discover how a simple dietary tweak could potentially benefit your cardiovascular health.

Atherosclerosis is the accumulation of fat in blood vessels, specifically in the arteries’ inner walls. This build-up, known as plaque, results in the narrowing of the vessels. Consequently, blood circulation becomes more challenging. Additionally, these plaques can rupture and create blood clots, severely blocking blood flow and increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The impact of diet on cardiovascular disease is well-established. However, this study specifically examines the significance of carotene in preventing the development of this condition. Carotene, found in various orange, yellow, and green fruits and vegetables, has been linked to potential protective effects against atherosclerosis. These include carrots, tomatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, broccoli, bell peppers, papayas, mangoes, pumpkins and apricots. Previous research has hinted at the potential of carotene to protect against atherosclerosis.

Discovering the benefits of a healthy diet for heart health, the IDIBAPS primary healthcare research group conducted a study with 200 individuals aged 50 to 70. They examined their carotid artery using ultrasound imaging, and analyzing their blood for carotene levels. They found compelling evidence that including a variety of fruits and vegetables in one’s diet can effectively protect against heart disease.

According to the study, higher levels of carotenes in the blood are associated with a lower risk of atherosclerosis. This finding emphasizes the importance of incorporating carotene-rich diets into our lifestyle for improved cardiovascular health.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Total carotene plasma concentrations are inversely associated with atherosclerotic plaque burden: A post-hoc analysis of the DIABIMCAP cohort

Living Near a Busy Road Can Increase Depression

Recent research reveals that living in proximity to heavy traffic is associated with an increased probability of depression in elderly individuals. The correlation between polluted air and mental well-being, particularly on a broader population scale, presents significant concerns as urbanization continues to expand worldwide. Almost 9 million individuals in the United States participated in the survey, with over 1.5 million ultimately suffering from depression. The outcomes revealed that those who were exposed to heavier concentrations of pollutants emitted from traffic and industrial sources were more vulnerable.

Late-life depression deserves as much attention from the public and researchers as Alzheimer’s and other neurological conditions. The potential risks of air pollution are significant, as there is no clear threshold for exposure. Evidence indicates a harmful correlation between air pollution and neurodegenerative diseases among older adults, but the impact on late-life mental health disorders like geriatric depression remains poorly understood.

This research identifies a harmful link between long-term exposure to air pollution and an increased risk of this mental health condition. A link between higher rates of depression and exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), fine particulate matter also identified as PM2.5, and ozone (O3) was observed. Primary sources of NO2 and PM2.5 include engines, factories, wood-burning stoves, and agriculture, whereas O3 is a byproduct of their interaction with sunlight during warm summer days.

In this decade-long study involving participants over the age of 64, the team utilized insurance claims to determine diagnoses of depression. The study confirms that exposure to three distinct pollutants raises the risk of acquiring depression. To accurately measure the level of pollution a person is exposed to, the team used computer models and considered variations in residential locations across the years. The correlation between air pollutants and depression highlights the importance of addressing environmental factors in promoting mental health.

Previous research conducted on mice has indicated that inhalation of air pollutants via the nose can potentially result in inflammation in the brain, ultimately leading to activation of stress hormones that are linked to cognitive illnesses. This includes depression. Additionally, the aging process can worsen these effects by releasing pro-inflammatory chemicals. While our knowledge of the consequences on mental disorders in later life, such as geriatric depression, is limited, we have discovered that prolonged exposure to air pollution presents harmful associations with an increased risk.

This study calls for deeper exploration of environmental risk factors, including air pollution and living conditions, to combat geriatric depression. By establishing significant correlations between depression and modifiable factors like air pollution, we can implement population-based solutions, such as air quality regulation, emission control, and greener urban planning, to prevent this condition. The findings serve as a scientific imperative to prioritize mitigating environmental risks in geriatric mental health.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Association of Long-term Exposure to Air Pollution With Late-Life Depression in Older Adults in the US

Longevity Lessons from The Blue Zones

The term ‘Blue Zones’ identifies geographical regions where people live the longest and healthiest lives. As a result they have the highest percentage of centenarians. These regions are found in Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Coasta Rica; and Loma Linda, California, USA. After extensive research, scientists have determined that lifestyle habits shared among Blue Zone communities contribute to their longevity. This includes their diet, exercise regimen, spiritual beliefs, and daily practices. Interestingly, many Blue Zone centenarians consume their most substantial meal of the day in the morning and smaller meals later in the day. They prefer whole foods mostly from plants, such as beans, vegetables, oatmeal, fruit, and nuts, while avoiding refined carbohydrates, added sugars, and processed foods. Through these dietary practices, many of them have been able to avoid chronic diseases well into their early 90s.

The individuals with the longest lifespan do not engage in traditional physical fitness routines nor track their daily steps. Rather, their environment naturally encourages them to remain active, constantly in motion. They engage in manual labor such as tending to their gardens and performing household chores without assistance or the aid of modern technology. Their days are filled with a multitude of tasks, resulting in a high level of physical activity and calorie expenditure.

They exhibit a notable sense of direction and motivation. Scientific research has shown that the mere act of harboring a sense of purpose in life can add up to a considerable 7-year increase to overall life expectancy. Residents of the Blue Zones adopt a social environment of belonging. A significant number of centenarians surveyed were members of faith-based communities. Research has proven that attending faith-based meetings at least four times per month significantly elevates the prospects of living longer, regardless of the denomination.

Though inhabitants of Blue Zones do experience stress, but what sets them apart is they possess the knowledge of coping with it effectively. While Okinawans honor their ancestors on a daily basis, Adventists utilize prayer, Ikarians indulge in napping, and Sardinians utilize happy hour to reduce their stress levels. While we all have our preferred method to alleviate stress, engaging in such activities regularly appears to be a powerful tool in combating its adverse effects.

Scientific research reveals that centenarians follow a pattern of eating until they are 80% full. This 20% gap is crucial as it determines whether one gains or loses weight. Their diets are predominantly plant based foods that are rich in nutrients and minerals.. Embracing such dietary habits may be a recipe for a healthy and longer life. Increased consumption of plant-based foods has been linked to a reduction in inflammation, thus contributing to the extended lifespan observed in Blue Zone populations.

In the Blue Zones, the majority of individuals consume alcohol in moderation. This entails drinking 1 to 2 glasses per day while socializing or nourishing themselves, but never to an excessive degree. It is intriguing to note that individuals who drink moderately tend to live longer than those who do not drink at all, a finding that has been supported by previous research.

The traditions of the Blue Zones dictate keeping elderly relatives close to home while investing time and love into children and maintaining a lifelong commitment to a partner. This creates a culture of mutual support that promotes the overall well-being of the family unit at all stages of life. They also prioritize their health and gravitate towards supportive social circles that can play a crucial role in promoting longevity and healthy behavior.

Through the study of the world’s longest-living individuals, we may gain insight into how to enhance our own longevity and achieve greater satisfaction in life.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Blue Zones

Strength Training Shown to Lower High Blood Pressure

In a recent study conducted by Brazilian researchers, it has been discovered that incorporating strength training exercises, such as weightlifting, into your weekly workout routine can effectively lower high blood pressure. This finding could have a crucial impact on the 120 million American adults suffering from hypertension.

After analyzing over 21,000 scientific articles, the study found that incorporating weightlifting into a moderate-to-vigorous workout routine two or three times a week can effectively lower high blood pressure. The results were quite promising. After 8-10 weeks of consistent strength training, participants experienced a remarkable decrease in their blood pressure. On average, their systolic pressure dropped by 10 mmHg and diastolic pressure decreased by 4.79 mmHg.

Earlier research has predominantly explored the effects of aerobic exercise in reducing blood pressure, leaving the benefits of strength training relatively understudied. The research sample group consisted of 253 participants averaged 59 years old with hypertension. There responses were specifically examined to controlled studies for a period of 8 weeks or longer. By focusing on both quantitative data and expert analysis, this research provides valuable insights into the role of strength training as a complementary approach to aerobic exercise in preventing and treating hypertension.

The findings showed a notable decrease in blood pressure after around twenty sessions, with the positive effects lasting for approximately 14 weeks following the end of training. This study emphasizes that strength training might be an effective non-drug format for people that have high blood pressure, taking into consideration important factors like intensity, volume, and frequency.

The analysis investigated how age, intensity, load, and frequency impact the effectiveness of strength training in lowering blood pressure. The results showed that strength training is most beneficial when done with the load intensity being moderate-to-vigorous, twice a week, and for at least 2 months. This means lifting an amount over 60% of a person’s maximum weight. The participants in the study were mostly 60-68 years old.

These findings highlight the potential benefits of incorporating strength training into your fitness regimen, particularly for those dealing with high blood pressure. By dedicating just two or three sessions a week to lifting weights, you can make a positive impact on your overall health and well-being.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Strength training for arterial hypertension treatment: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials

Morning Physical Activity is Good for the Heart

Recent research has revealed that engaging in physical activity in the morning can significantly decrease the risk of stroke and heart disease. This study highlights that individuals who allocate their workouts during early hours are in a favorable position. The benefits of exercise on one’s cardiac health have already been established, but this novel study specifically pinpoints morning activity as the most advantageous.

The study was conducted using a sample of 86,657 adults aged between 42 to 78, all without pre-existing cardiovascular illness, and having worn an activity tracker for seven continuous days. The participants’ incidents of cardiovascular disease were carefully monitored, including hospital admissions and deaths connected to coronary artery disease or stroke.

Following age and sex adjustments, the study revealed that individuals who engaged in high levels of physical activity during the early or late morning had significantly lower risks of developing coronary artery disease. Specifically, their risk was reduced by 11 to 16 percent. Additionally, those who were most active during the late morning presented a decreased risk of stroke of 17 percent compared to a control group. When gender was analyzed as a separate factor, the association between physical activity and decreased risk of disease was more pronounced in women than in men.

As an observational study, they were unable to decisively determine why the linkages were more pronounced in women. Nevertheless, the results contribute to the growing body of evidence supporting the positive effects of physical activity on health. Specifically, engaging in physical activity during the morning hours – particularly later in the morning – may offer the greatest advantages.

During a 6-8 year follow-up period, approximately 2,911 individuals developed coronary artery disease and 796 had a stroke. Comparing activity times across participants, those who demonstrated a peak activity period between 8 and 11 a.m. displayed the lowest risk for both heart disease and stroke.

These findings suggest a positive correlation between morning physical activity and cardiovascular health, particularly in women.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Morning physical activity is associated with the lowest risk of heart disease and stroke

Longevity is Based Mainly on Lifestyle and Diet Not Genetics

Scientific studies are building evidence that our environment and lifestyle greatly impact our health and lifespan. Have you ever worried about inheriting a family history of disease? The question of whether our genetics predestine our health outcomes has long been debated. However, while genetics may seem like an undeniable influence, a recent study reveals that our behaviors have a stronger influence on length of life than our DNA. These findings highlight the profound impact our choices have on our longevity.

This study aimed to investigate the link between physical activity and sedentary behavior and their impact on mortality in post-menopausal women aged 63 years or older. The study involved 5,446 participants who were divided into three groups based on their genetic risk factors. Using a select few single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which are known to affect longevity, researchers measured the participants’ genetic risk factors. SNPs are crucial in forecasting someone’s response to certain drugs, their vulnerability to environmental hazards like toxins or industrial waste, and their likelihood to develop specific illnesses.

This research study has definitively proven that engaging in higher levels of physical activity can significantly decrease one’s risk of mortality. Conversely, those who exhibit a higher degree of sedentary behavior are at a greater risk of dying during a follow-up period of over six years on average. These results underline the crucial significance of engaging in regular physical activity and avoiding prolonged periods of inactivity for minimizing mortality risk among older women, regardless of their genetic disposition towards longevity.

The science of human longevity is a complex interplay between genetics and lifestyle, according to an article published in Immunity and Aging in 2016. Family studies reveal that genetic factors account for 25% of variation in healthy aging. However, intriguingly, research indicates that caloric restriction, epigenetic factors, genetics, and lifestyle also influence longevity. Epigenetics is the study of how our environment and behavior can exert an effect on gene function. While genetic changes are irreversible, epigenetic changes are reversible as they do not impact DNA. Understanding the complex interplay of genetics and lifestyle is key to unlocking the secrets of healthy aging.

This scientific study provides valuable insights into the correlation between genetic risk factors, physical activity, and sedentary behavior, all of which can play a significant role in determining mortality rates in older women.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Associations of Accelerometer-Measured Physical Activity and Sedentary Time With All-Cause Mortality by Genetic Predisposition for Longevity

Successful Aging Includes Social Interaction

A recent study tracked the health of over 7,000 middle-aged and older Canadians for three years, investigating whether increased social activity led to better long-term health outcomes. The study found that individuals who engaged in leisure activities and volunteer work were more likely to maintain excellent health and less likely to experience cognitive, physical, emotional, or mental illnesses. To qualify as successfully aging, participants had to be free of any serious conditions that hindered daily activities while also reporting high levels of happiness and good health. Only individuals who qualified at the beginning of the study were monitored to determine if social participation played a role in maintaining their excellent health.

Findings from the study show that engaging in volunteer or recreational activities has a significant impact on successful aging. After three years, 72% of those who participated in such activities remained were aging successfully. In contrast, only two-thirds of those who abstained from such activities were found to not age gracefully by the end of the study. These results still hold true even after adjusting for sociodemographic factors. In fact, those who engaged in volunteer or charity work were 17% more likely to maintain excellent health, while those who participated in recreational activities were 15% more likely to do so.

While the study’s observational approach precludes definitive conclusions regarding causation, a clear connection seems to exist between social activity and thriving in old age. Maintaining social connectedness is vital regardless of age. It elevates mood, decreases feelings of loneliness and isolation, and positively impacts mental and overall well-being.

As a non-pharmacological intervention, medical professionals are embracing the concept of “social prescribing” to integrate primary care with services in the community. This approach can encourage older adults to engage in volunteer work and recreational activities, thus supporting their cognitive, mental, physical, and emotional well-being as they age. These findings are significant and valuable for older adults and their families who may assume that decline is a natural part of growing old. Therefore, to secure a healthy and vibrant future for older adults, it is essential for families, healthcare providers, policymakers, and researchers to work collaboratively towards creating an enabling environment.

Ultimately, the data highlights the importance of staying active and engaged in volunteer or recreational activities for successful aging.

To view the original scientific study click below:
A Profile of Social Participation in a Nationally Representative Sample of Canadian Older Adults: Findings from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging

A Simple Exercise to Improve Metabolic Health

Recent experiments conducted at the Health and Human Performance Lab at the University of Houston have unveiled a groundbreaking discovery in the field of metabolic health. By using a muscle in your lower leg, this exercise can regulate blood sugar better than traditional methods like weight loss, diet, and low- to moderate-intensity daily exercise. Called the “soleus pushup”, this metabolism-boosting technique can be performed while sitting, making it a perfect option for those who spend a considerable amount of time sitting. Considering that the average American spends 10 hours a day in a sedentary position, this exercise is a simple yet effective way to combat the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

Located on the posterior lower leg, the soleus muscle is essential for maintaining balance while standing and is also involved in walking and running. What distinguishes this muscle from others is its unique method of obtaining energy. Unlike many muscles that rely on glycogen stores, the soleus utilizes a combination of glucose and lipoproteins from the bloodstream. Additionally, the soleus can sustain elevated oxidative metabolism for an extended period of time when activated properly, serving as an intriguing area for further exploration in the study of metabolism.

A team of researchers at the University of Houston conducted a study on sedentary participants who engaged in the soleus pushup after consuming glucose. The results indicate that the blood glucose levels can decrease by approximately 52% through just one session of soleus muscle contractions. Additionally, the study has discovered that the exercise decreased insulin release from the pancreas by 60%. These findings offer valuable insights into blood sugar regulation through physical exercise.

The intensity of activation witnessed is comparable to the aftermath of exercise and other therapies. No known therapeutic method can surpass the elevation of metabolic rate achieved by persistent activation of the soleus muscle, even the most powerful pharmaceuticals. Moreover, maintaining the activation of the soleus muscle resulted in a two-fold increase in fat metabolism and a decline in blood triglyceride levels.

Utilizing the soleus pushup is a simple yet effective exercise. Anytime you are sitting such as while watching television or using a computer you can do this exercise at the same time. Begin by sitting with your feet flat on the ground and your body comfortably at ease. With the front of your foot planted firmly, elevate your heels to their maximum range of motion before easing them back down to the floor. Continue to perform this movement.

In order to obtain the most benefits from the movement, wearable technology and expertise are used. Nevertheless, researchers are developing guidelines to teach accurate technique without special equipment. This research highlights the untapped potential of targeting small, highly oxidative muscles to improve blood sugar control in those who have a sedentary lifestyle. It is akin to finding a new organ – it exists and we are beginning to understand how it can be used to promote optimal health.

To view the original scientific study click below:
A potent physiological method to magnify and sustain soleus oxidative metabolism improves glucose and lipid regulation

Late Night Eating Can Lead to Obesity

Late night eating can have a significant impact on three key components of body weight regulation, including calorie intake regulation, calories burned, and molecular changes in fat tissue. Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers have found that this can increase the risk of obesity, which affects approximately 42 percent of adults in the United States and an estimated 650 million globally.

It is imperative to understand the risks associated with obesity, which include an increased vulnerability to developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and Covid-19. Although reducing dietary intake and exercising regularly has been the traditional approach towards tackling obesity, recent findings have suggested that these measures offer only short-term benefits.

In pursuit of understanding the connection between late eating and obesity, a study was conducted to examine the underlying mechanisms. Building on prior research, which linked late eating to heightened obesity risk, greater body fat, and reduced success in losing weight, the study sought to delve deeper into the root causes of these phenomena. The findings showed that even delaying meals by as little as four hours can markedly impact hunger levels, calorie burn, and fat storage, all of which may contribute to increased obesity risk.

During the course of this clinical investigation, 16 test subjects whose body mass index (BMI) fell in the overweight or obese range were each subjected to two distinct regimens. One regimen entailed an early meal schedule while the other regimen involved identical meals that were scheduled approximately four hours later in the day. During the course of the study, researchers collected blood samples and fat tissues from participants, measured their energy expenditure levels, and had them document their hunger and appetite.

The findings of this study indicate that consuming food late at night can negatively affect the hormones responsible for regulating our appetite and hunger. Late eaters were discovered to have a reduced ability to burn calories, indicating a propensity towards fat tissue production. This is due to genetic shifts that promote fat creation whilst inhibiting fat breakdown. Additionally, participants who ate later had decreased levels of the hormone leptin, responsible for signaling fullness, compared to those who ate earlier in the day. These results suggest that the timing of our meals could play a crucial role in controlling appetite and promoting weight management.

Despite adjusting for factors such as calorie consumption, exercise, sleep, and light exposure, the study’s findings showed that meal timing may still impact these variables. We must take into account how other environmental and behavioral factors impact the biological pathways related to obesity risk, particularly in larger studies where control over all variables may not be feasible. It is crucial to recognize how these factors interact and their influence on the outcomes of research in this field.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Late isocaloric eating increases hunger, decreases energy expenditure, and modifies metabolic pathways in adults with overweight and obesity