Weight Loss, Obesity and Calorie Intake

Standard scientific opinion has blamed weight gain on an excess of calories which is due to burning fewer than taken in. In opposition to this viewpoint, the carbohydrate-insulin model shows that the quality of diet matters more than calorie intake for weight loss. The model’s position is that eating processed carbohydrates and starchy foods leads to changes in hormone and insulin levels which results in an increase in fat deposition.

The increase in fat storage leads to hunger and the consumption of more foods rich in calories which then leads to obesity. This model has suggested that staying away from starchy and sugar rich foods might be necessary for losing weight instead of calorie restriction.

The WHO says that the worldwide prevalence of obesity and overweight has increased during the past 10 decades. There is an important consensus in the scientific community that the easy availability of these detrimental foods and also a sedentary lifestyles have contributed to the increase in obesity rates. However, there is a lot of disagreement as to how these environmental factors contribute to the problem.

According to the predominant EBM (energy balance model) eating more calories than those that are burned will result in weight gain due to a positive energy balance. The EBM has suggested that successful weight loss will require the reduction of total calorie consumption which means fewer calories and an increase in physical activity.

The CIM (carbohydrate insulin model) postulates that the quality of food eaten plays an important and critical role in management of body weight rather than the total caloric intake.

The EMB regards all calories in the exact way regardless of the their source. The problem is that the consumption of starchy and processed carbohydrates causes an increase in blood glucose which results in fat storage. As a result increased fat accumulation starts a feedback loop which results in increased hunger and the consumption of more foods rich in calories.

According to CIM it is the increased fat storage due to the consumption of processed carbohydrates and not the increased consumption of calories that actually leads to weight gain and is mostly responsible for elevated rates of obesity. Hormonal and metabolic changes which will occur due to eating specific foods are the main cause of weight gain with the excess calories being the outcome.

Reducing caloric intake tends to cause weight loss only in the short term. The is because the body adapts to the lower intake of calories which results in increased hunger and a lower metabolic rate.

The CIM postulates that food quality plays a more important role in the weight gain than the overall intake of calories. The intake of of carbohydrates has increased since the 1980’s and is likely because of the perception that eating fat causes weight gain.

The GI (glycemic index) rates carbohydrates due to how rapidly they increase blood glucose levels after consumption. The glycemic load is also a measure that can provide more comprehensive information about the surge in blood sugar levels.

The consumption of starchy and highly processed foods that have rapidly digestible carbs result in a blood glucose level surge. Foods with a high glycemic load such as potato products, refined grains and other foods high in starch are turned rapidly into free sugars.

As a contrast, proteins and fats have a minor impact on blood sugar level. Minimally processed grains, nuts, legumes, whole fruits and non-starchy vegetables typically have a moderate or low glycemic load.

A rapid surge of the glucose level after eating high glycemic foods will result in insulin secretion which regulates blood sugar and helps the liver, muscles, and fat tissue absorb glucose. At the same time, eating carbs that are rapidly digestible suppresses the level of glucagon, a hormone. The pancreas will secrete glucagon to counteract low  blood sugar which occur between meals. The secretion of glucagon which is stored in the liver raises blood glucose levels.

In the course of the first 3 hours following the consumption of high glycemic foods, low glucagon and high insulin lead to glucose and fat storage. As a result, the body absorbs nutrients that are present in high glycemic foods in the first 3 to 4 hours and the low glucagon and insulin levels persist.

The hormonal state then slows down the breakdown of energy stored in the liver and adipose tissue which is required to fuel other critical body tissues. That causes low levels of fatty acids, glucose, and a variety of metabolites in the blood which resembles a fast-like state.

This drop in blood metabolites signal the brain that tissues are being deprived of energy. When the brain distinguishes the fast-like state, it evokes hormonal changes that lead to craving and hunger for foods that are high energy such as the foods that are high on the GI.

In animals it has been shown that all calories are not alike and that weight gain and obesity can also develop without an increase food intake. There is not yet proof of this in humans.

The CIM theory of weight gain has created a sizable amount of controversy which includes how carbs and insulin affect weight gain. There is a lot of individual variability in the changes and physiology that occur in individuals as they develop obesity. There could be some role for insulin, but there could be a lot of other factors. This makes it more challenging to identify the causes and then the potential treatments to help to prevent weight gain and obesity.

The implications of counting calories then subtracting those that may have been burned with physical activity, has challenges in terms of accuracy. This can be easily gamed so that a person thinks they are doing the right thing, but in fact they are not really accurately assessing the two components which can lead to poor results.

It is suggested that adhering to a diet that consists of low GI foods can lead to weight loss through increasing energy levels and reducing hunger. An important strategy is to replace high glycemic foods with high fat foods and allowing for a moderate consumption of whole fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains and non-starchy vegetables.

To view the original scientific study click below:
The carbohydrate-insulin model: a physiological perspective on the obesity pandemic

Stem Cell Research to Treat Muscle Related Conditions

Researchers who have previously discovered a method that turns skin cells into primitive like muscle cells that can be left in a lab indefinitely without losing their potential to turn into mature muscle, have now discovered how this method works and also what molecular changes it prompts within cells.

MyoD gene expression that was added and exposed to 3 chemicals may cause skin cells to turn into primitive progenitors and maintained in a lab indefinitely. Later they can be coaxed into turning into mature muscle cells that can be used to treat muscle related diseases. Skin derived muscle progenitors are molecularly the same as muscle tissue stem cells. Muscle cells which are obtained by these progenitors tend to be more mature and stable than muscle cells that have been converted directly from skin cells.

The study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hosp. (MGH) could let clinicians generate muscle cells matched to patients to help treat a variety of muscle diseases and injuries such as muscle degeneration due to aging, muscular dystrophy and injuries to the muscles.

It is already known that the MyoD gene expresses muscle regulatory and can directly change skin cells into mature muscle cells. However, muscle cells that are mature do not self-renew and divide and cannot be propagated for purposes clinically. To tackle this shortcoming, the team developed a system a few years ago to to convert skin cells into self-renewing muscle stem like cells they coined induced iMPCs (induced myogenic progenitor cells). Their system utilizes MyoD combined with 3 chemicals they had previously identified as promoters of cell plasticity in other situations.

With the latest research the team uncovered the details as to how this combination converted skin cells into iMPCs. They discovered that while MyoD expression alone allows skin cells to become mature muscle cells, by adding the three chemicals caused the skin cells to acquire a more primitive stem cell like state. IMPCs are molecularly highly like muscle tissue stem cells and muscle stem cells from iMPCs are more mature and stable than muscle cells that have been produced with MyoD expression alone. Mechanically, they showed that MyoD and the three chemicals aid in removal of certain marks on DNA called DNA methylation. DNA methylation will typically maintain the identification of specialized cells and the team shows that its removal was key for acquiring an identity of a muscle stem cell.

The team’s findings may be applicable to a variety of other tissue types besides the muscles that have different regulatory genes. Through combining the expression of these genes with the three chemicals that were utilized in this particular study could help future research bring about different types of stem cells that closely bare resemblance to a variety of body tissues.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Dissecting dual roles of MyoD during lineage conversion to mature myocytes and myogenic stem cells

Eat Walnuts to Improve Cholesterol Levels

width="250"Following a two year study of participants who ate a handful of walnuts every day showed lower levels of LDL(low density lipoprotein) cholesterol when compared with the participants levels at the start of the study. They also showed a reduced total cholesterol. The study was assisted from a grant by the Calfornia Walnut Commission.

An increasing body of scientific study has suggested that walnuts which happen to be high in omega 3 fatty acids may also protect against heart disease.

Throughout the years much study has researched whether eating walnuts might decrease cardiovascular disease risk factors. A 2019 meta analysis linked higher consumption of walnuts with a decreased cardiovascular disease mortality of disease which included coronary heart mortality and heart disease incidence and lower atrial fibrillation.

A recent study has investigated whether adding walnuts to the daily diet for two years specifically influences cholesterol levels. This study focused mainly on older adults.

The researchers discovered that adding walnuts to the diet did decrease total cholesterol and modestly decreased lower levels of LDL cholesterol which is referred to as the bad cholesterol.

They researchers measured the participants subclasses of LDL cholesterol and one of the subclasses known as small dense LDL particles, are more often linked with atherosclerosis which will occur when deposits of fat build up in the arteries.

In this study they discovered that eating walnuts daily decreased both the number of small LDL particles and total LDL particles.

The team studied the benefits of consuming walnuts for many years. They always found good results in regards to lower cholesterol (standard lipid profile), reduced blood pressure, improved endothelial fuction and anti-inflammatory effects.

Dr. Ros,the senior editor of the study, sings the praises of eating walnuts and has included them in his daily diet. Walnuts have a vital composition of bioactives and nutrients including large amounts of alpha-linolenic, omega 3 fatty acids which are the highest polyphenol content of all the nuts.

This research in this study shows that consuming walnuts will lower LDL cholesterol and also improve LDL particle quality which will render them less prone to enter the arterial wall and therefore, build up atherosclerosis which is the basis of cardiovascular diseases. And this will happen without unwanted gain of weight although they are high in fat which is healthy fat.

The study included 636 participants from 63-79 years of age all residing in Spain, Barcelona or Loma Linda, CA. 67% were female and all participants were healthy cognitively and also had no major health conditions.

Almost half of the participants were taking medicine for high blood pressure which is typical of this older population. 32% were taking statins.

The team had one group of the participants not consume any walnuts at all. The other group of participants added one-half cup of walnuts to their daily diet. The participants were monitored by health practitioners who were watching for how well the participants were following each diet and also any weight changes on an every other month time frame. Within the group of participants who ate walnuts, LDL cholesterol changes did differ by sex. In the females LDL fell by 2.6% and in the males it fell by 7.9%.

While not a game changer, the study already has shown what researchers know about the heart and diet. It is already known walnuts are great for a person’s health. It is appreciated that the study was over two years and not just a study over two weeks.

The study participants only showed a modest drop in LDL cholesterol. The reduction does not rise to the level of what a person gets from taking stains. Therefore, people who are at an increased risk who already have heart disease or at risk of developing heart disease, should not substitute nuts for statins. They should add walnuts to their diet along with their statins but not replace them.

In the future Dr. Ros would like to study the impact of adding walnuts to the diet of people at risk of experiencing cardiovascular diseases. Also, he does not support downing a bag of walnuts each day but adding no more than a handful or one-half a cup.

It has also been pointed out that this study was not blinded – the participants knew they were in the group consuming the walnuts. Also the study was not held in a feeding setting that was controlled but in individuals who were able to choose their daily diet, therefore, it was not an equally active intervention. And there was also an increase in fat intake and energy in the group who consumed the walnuts which could have influenced the results.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Effects of Walnut Consumption for 2 Years on Lipoprotein Subclasses Among Healthy Elders: Findings From the WAHA Randomized Controlled Trial

Getting Active Later In Life Has Its Benefits

Recent research involving more than 30,000 heart patients has shown that becoming active in later life can be almost as beneficial to surviving as ongoing activity.

The findings which are very encouraging show how people with coronary heat disease could benefit by adopting or preserving a physically active way of life. The current research explored levels of activity over time and the relationship to death risk in people with heart disease.

Ongoing physical activity is recommended for people with heart disease. However, these recommendations are mostly based on research that used either an average of levels of activity looked at over time or a single assessment. However, people can modify the exercise amount they do, but it will remain unclear if these changes are related to their survival.

The meta-analysis involved 33,576 people with coronary heart disease from 9 long-term cohorts. The average age was 62.5 and 34% of them were females. The midian follow-up was at 7.2 years. Their activity was analyzed at baseline and a follow-up was used to validate questionnaires. The participants were then put in classes of inactive or active at 2 different time points (baseline and 7.2 years later). Definitions of inactive and active across the studies varied, however, they were in line for recommendations for healthy people with at a minimum of 150 minutes per week of activity that was moderate, or 75 minute per week of activity that was vigorous, or a combination of the two.

The participants were put into four groups based on their activity level as baseline and then follow-up. The groups designated were inactive over the time, increased activity over the time, and decreased activity over the time. All the studies defined increased activity over time as going from the inactivity level to the active level and decreased activity over time as going from the active level to the inactive level.

The research looked at the risks of death of all causes and death from cardiovascular disease according to the four groups that had been established. When compared to patients who were in the inactive group, the risk of death from all causes was 50% lower in the group who remained active over time, and 45% lower in the participants who had been inactive but then became active. It was 20% lower in those who were initially active but then became inactive.

The same results were noticed for death because of cardiovascular disease. When compared to those who stayed inactive, their risk for mortality due to cardiovascular disease was 51% lower with the participants who stayed active and 27% lower for the participants who increased their activity. Mortality from cardiovascular disease was not statistically different for the participants who decreased their activity over time, when compared to those participants who stayed inactive.

The team says the results of their study show that continuing a lifestyle that is active throughout the years is linked with the longest longevity. However, people with heart disease are able to overcome earlier years of inactivity and, therefore, obtain surviving benefits through beginning an exercise program later in life. However, the benefits of this activity can be lost or weakened if the activity isn’t maintained. The findings show the benefits to people with heart disease of being active no matter their previous habits.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Physical Activity, All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality, and Cardiovascular Disease

Make Fewer Mistakes with Meditation

If you are someone who makes mistakes or are forgetful when you are in a hurry, a recent study from Michigan State Univ. has discovered that meditation could help in becoming less prone to error. The team tested how meditation that focuses awareness on thoughts, feelings and sensations or open monitoring meditation, alters brain activity in such a manner that has suggested increased error recognition.

People’s interest in mindfulness and meditation is greater than what science can prove when it comes to benefits and effects. The team was surprised to see how amazing it is to be able to see how just one session of a meditation that is guided can produce changes to activity in the brain in non-meditators.

Their findings have suggested that different types of meditation will have different neurocognitive effects. There is little research about how open monitoring will impact error recognition.

Some types of meditation have a person focus on a single object which is commonly a person’s breath, however open monitoring is a little different. It has a person tune in and then pay attention to what is going on in the body and mind. This goal is to sit very quietly and then pay close attention to a place the mind travels without getting fascinated with the scenery.

More than 200 participants were recruited to see how meditation with open monitoring affected how people respond and detect errors. All the participants had never meditated and were worked through a 20 minute exercise using open monitoring medication to see how they detected and responded to errors.

The team measured their brain activity through EEG. They then completed a distraction test that was computerized. The EEG measures brain activity at the millisecond level so the team was able to get measures that were precise of neural activity after correct responses compared to mistakes. A certain signal that is neural will occur half a second following an error which is known as the error positivity which is associated to conscious error recognition. The team discovered that the signal strength is increased relative to controls to the meditators.

Although the participants did not show immediate improvement to task performance, the team’s findings offered a promising window to the potential of sustained meditation.

The findings indicate that there is strong demonstration of just what 20 minutes of meditation do to magnify the ability of the brain to pay attention to and detect errors. It makes the researchers more confident in just what mindfulness meditation could be capable of for daily functioning and performance right in the moment.

Although mindfulness and meditation have driven more interest recently, the team is still among a very small group of researchers that are willing to take meuroscientific approach to assessing their performance and psychological effects.

The next phase of the team’s research is to include a larger group of participants and test a different variety of mediation and see whether changes in activity in the brain can translate with more long-term practice into behavioral changes.

They are excited in people’s enthusiasm for mindfulness, however there is still research of from a scientific perspective to be accomplished to better understand the benefits and also just as important, how it works.

To view the original scientific study click below:
On Variation in Mindfulness Training: A Multimodal Study of Brief Open Monitoring Meditation on Error Monitoring

Some Cognitive Functions Improve With Age

A new study has challenged what scientists in general believe about cognitive function including executive function, reasoning skills, and attention decline as people age. The new study has suggested that executive functioning and orienting actually improve with age.

Research has shown that by training the brain we may be able to help with cognitive function improvement.

Most research for the past years has shown that the older population across the board experience a decrease in brain functioning. The new study’s team however, has suggested that may not be true.

Cognitive function is the performance of the processes of mental learning, perception, memory, reasoning, understanding, intuition, judgment and language. It also includes executive functions such as working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control.

Researchers have thought for a very long time that there is a time when people will stop making cognitive function and then a decline begins. Some of the experts believe memory in older people to be one of the most affected brain functions. Those being the most noticeable associated with age are declines in performance on attentional tasks that are complex such as divided or selective attention.

The recent study shows a much less negative picture than previous studies. This new research shows that the older population may be able to improve in some areas. People have just assumed that executive function declines with age even despite some intriguing data from smaller scale studies that have raised questions in regards to these assumptions.

The recent research studied 702 people who were in the age group of 58 to 98. They were tested for the three cognitive functions – orienting, alerting, and executive inhibition. All three processes are used constantly. As an example, when driving a car being alert at intersections is important. Orienting will occur when your attention is shifted to a movement that is unexpected such as a pedestrian and executive function will allow a person to inhibit distractions such as billboards so that they stay focused on their driving.

The team tested the participant’s functioning using the computerized Attention Network Test (ANT). This tests tells how well the participants will respond to targeted stimulus which is shown on a computer screen. The test will measure the efficiency of all three of the networks.

The team discovered that only the alerting abilities decreased. The other two networks – executive inhibition and orienting improved. The results were considered amazing and have significant consequences for how aging should be viewed. The results from the large study show that critical elements of the abilities actually will improve with aging. This is most likely due to simply practicing these skills throughout one’s lifetime.

Cognitive functioning can be improved through engagement with diverse and multiple activities. Examples are learning a new language, attending courses, learning a musical instrument and social interaction. However, the team made it clear that these interventions are promising however, more data is needed.

Evidence has shown that executive inhibitory function may improve with things such as online programs and apps although it is unclear how much any improvements broadly generalize what is trained in the programs.

Researchers need to conduct more study to fully understand what activities can help people keep their brains working optimally over the years.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Evidence that ageing yields improvements as well as declines across attention and executive functions

Even Small Changes in Diet Can Help Live Healthier and Sustainably

Consuming a hot dog could actually cost a person 36 minutes of living a healthy life, while consuming a handful of nuts could help a person gain 26 minutes of an extra healthier life. A study looked at more than 5,800 foods and ranked them by the nutritional disease that can burden humans by their consumption and also the impact they make on our environment.

The study discovered that 10% of a daily caloric consumption from processed meat and beef to a mix of nuts, vegetables, fruits, select seafood and legumes could possibly reduce a person’s dietary carbon footprint by up to 1/3 and help people gain healthy minutes of 48 per day.

Generally speaking, diet recommendations lack actionable and specific direction to help motivate people to think about changing their behavior and rarely do these recommendations even address their impact on the environment.

The study was built on a new epidemiology based index of nutrition (HENI) which the team devised in collaboration with nutritionist from Nutrition Impact and LLC. HENI calculates the net detrimental or beneficial burden of health in just minutes of a healthy life linked with a serving of a particular food that has been consumed.

The index was adapted from the Global Burden of Disease. This adaptation looks at disease morbidity and mortality linked to a single food a person chooses. The team used risk factors of 15 disease burdens and disease estimates and then combined the results with the nutritional profiles of foods that are eaten in the U.S. based on the database in What We Eat in America by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Foods that showed positive scores add minutes of healthy life while those foods that showed negative scores are linked to outcomes of health that are harmful.

In order to evaluate food impact on the environment, the team utilized IMPACT World+, a method that assesses the impact of food’s life cycle (processing, production, preparation, cooking manufacturing, waste and consumption). They added water use improved assessments and health damages to humans from the fine particulate matter formation. They then gave scores for environmental indications in a group of 18 keeping account for detailed food recipes and also anticipated waste food.

They then grouped the foods into three zones of color – green, yellow and red based on their combined environmental and nutritional performances.

The green zone showed foods that are recommended in order to increase a person’s diet and includes foods that have a low impact on the environment and are beneficial nutritionally. These are foods such as legumes, nuts, vegetables grown in the field, whole grains, nuts, fruits and some seafood.

The Red zone included food that has either substantial impact on the environment or nutrition and should definitely be decreased or even avoided in a person’s diet. These were foods such as processed meats and were driven by environmental or climate impacts such as beef and pork.

The team does acknowledge that their range for all indicators varies considerably and also say that food that are beneficially healthy may not always show the lowest environmental impact and vice versa.

Earlier studies have very often lessened the findings to an animal based vs. plant based food discussions. The team finds that foods that are plant based typically do perform greater but there are a lot of variations within foods that are animal based and foods that are plant based.

From their findings, the team recommends:
Decrease consumption of food that have the most negative effect on the environment and health which includes highly processed meats, shrimp, beef, lamb, pork and vegetables grown in greenhouses.
Increase consuming foods that are nutritionally beneficial such as fruits and vegetables grown in fields, nuts, legumes and seafood that has a low impact on the environment.

The team’s findings show that even small substitutions can offer a powerful and feasible strategy for achieving substantial environmental and health benefits and do so without requiring considerable shifts in diet.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Small targeted dietary changes can yield substantial gains for human and environmental health

Drink Plenty of Water to Improve Your Heart Health

A new study has shown that by staying very hydrated throughout your lifetime, you could be reducing your chance of developing heart failure. The study has suggested that keeping great hydration can possibly prevent or at the very least slow down changes that reside in the heart that ultimately lead to heart failure.

Their findings show that people need to be more aware of the total amount of fluids they consume every day. And then drink more if not drinking enough to keep well hydrated.

Daily fluid recommendations are different indicating anywhere between 1.6 to 2.1 liters for females and two to three times that for males. Unfortunately, most people do not consume even the lowest ends of the ranges for men and women.

The precise measure of a person’s hydration status is serum sodium. When a person drinks less fluids, serum sodium concentration increases. When that happens the body will then attempt to preserve water which activates processes which are known to add to heart failure development.

We may think it’s natural that serum sodium and hydration would change from day to day dependent on how much a person drinks every day. However, concentration of serum sodium over long periods stay within a narrow range. This is most likely linked to constant consumption of fluids.

The particular study examined if concentration of serum sodium in middle age, as their measure of habits of hydration, will predict heart failure development 25 years later. The also looked at the connection linked between wall thickening of the heart’s left ventricle or main pumping chamber which is known as left ventricular hypertrophy which is known as a forerunner of the diagnosis of heat failure.

The study included 15,792 adults in the (ARIC) (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities) study. The participants ranged in age from 44 to 66 when recruited and then had an evaluation over 5 visits until the 70 to 90 years of age.

The participants were put into four groups which were built on their concentration of serum sodium at the study visits of one and two which were done in the first three years: 135-139.5, 140-141.5, 142-143.5 and 144-146 moll/l. For each of the serum sodium groups the team analyzed the amount of participants who did develop left ventricular hypertrophy and failure of the heart at their fifth visit which was at 25 years later.

Higher concentrations of serum sodium in middle age was linked to both left ventricular hypertrophy and failure of the heart at 25 years. Serum sodium did remain especially linked to left ventricular hypertrophy and failure of the heart even after adjusting for factors which are related to heart failure development such as blood pressure, age, blood cholesterol, kidney function, body mass index, sex, smoking status and blood glucose. Every 1 moll/l increase in the concentrations of serum sodium in middle age was linked to 1.20 and 1.11 odds increase in the development of left ventricular hypertrophy and failure of the heart respectively at 25 years.

The risks of both failure of the heart and left ventricular hypertrophy at ages 70 to 90 started increasing when serum sodium was more than 142 moll/l in middle age.

The results have suggested that great hydration throughout a person’s lifetime might decrease the risk of developing either disease. Also, the findings that serum sodium more than 142 moll/l did increase the risk of negative effects in the heart could help identify people who would see benefit from an evaluation of what their level of hydration is. This level is in the normal range and would not be marked as abnormal in laboratory test results might be useful for physicians when conducting regular physical exams to help identify patients whose normal intake of fluids should be looked at.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Drinking sufficient water could prevent heart failure

Make Your Brain Quicker With 8 Weeks of Meditation

According to a new study from Binghamton Univ., just practicing meditation studies for eight weeks can make a person’s brain quicker. People all around the globe look for mental clarity by practicing meditation inspired by and/or following the age old Buddhism practices.

While anecdotally, people who do meditate believe it helps recenter their thoughts, calm their minds and work through the noise to show them what matters most. However, scientifically proving the effects of practicing meditation for the human brain has shown to be somewhat tricky.

The recent study followed how practicing meditation for even just 2 months changed 10 student’s brain patterns in the Scholars Program at the University’s Thomas J. Water College of Eng. And Applied Science.

The beginnings of the research came from a chat between two Professors at the University. One is a longtime practitioner of meditation whose wife just happened to have a North American seat at the personal monastery of the Dalai Lama.

The couple developed many close friendships with some of the monks. They hung out and he even was given instruction from some of Dalai Lama’s teaching staff. He took classes, read a lot and also earned a certification of 3 years in Buddhist studies.

The other professor has studied biomedical image processing and brain mapping while working on her PhD and tracked people with Alzheimer’s Disease using MRI scans.

She was interested in research of the brain with the goal of seeing how people’s brains are functioning and also how a variety of diseases affect the brain. She has zero training in the medical field but she picked up all the background and knowledge from reading literature and speaking with experts.

The two professors had side by side offices and had a conversation on a particular day about their personal backgrounds. It was mentioned that one of the professors had been asked if he would teach a semester on meditation for the Scholar’s Program.

Meditation can have a transforming effect on the brain. It was suggested that perhaps even in a short amount of time they could possibly be able to quantify something through modern technology.

Grant funding was obtained and the collaboration began. At the beginning of the semester participants were given MRI scans of each of their brains. The students then learned just how to meditate and were told to practice 10 to 15 minutes 5 times per day and were asked to journal their practice. The class also included a syllabus with other lessons in regards to the cultural transforming and wellness application of meditation.

Binghamtom Univ. Scholars have to be high achievers who will do things they are not typically assigned to do and also do well with them. So the students do not need much prompting to practice a regular routine of meditation. In order to guarantee the reporting was objective, the students would report their experiences directly to the professor in regards to how often they practiced.

The final results showed that training in meditation showed a faster switching between the two general states of consciousness of the brain. One state is known as the default mode network that is active while the brain is not focused on the world outside but in a wakeful rest. This would be mind wandering or daydreaming states. The other state is the dorsal attention network that engages for tasks that demand attention.

The findings show that meditation will enhance the brain within and among these two states of the brain network. This indicates the effect medication has on switching fast between focusing attention and mind wandering and also when in the attentive state maintaining attention.

A term known as mental pliancy is used by the Tibetans when referring to the switching between the two brain states. The also believe the achievement of concentration is one of their fundamental self growth principles.

The two professors are still engaged in going through the data from the 2017 MRI scans so they still need to test other students of the Scholar Program. Due to the fact that autism and Alzheimer’s Disease may be due to problems with the dorsal attention network, they are in the process of making plans for continued research caused by issues with the dorsal attention network. They are in the process of putting together plans to continued research that could possibly use meditation to alleviate these problems.

They are considering an elderly population since the current study was young students. They want to gather a group of healthy older people and also another group who have mild cognitive impairment or early Alzheimer’s Disease. They want to see if meditation causes changes in the brain and can therefore enhance performance cognitively.

They are very convinced in regards to the basis of science in practicing meditation following this study, although once skeptical.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Longitudinal effects of meditation on brain resting-state functional connectivity

Flavonoids Could Slow Down Cognitive Decline

It has been discovered through a recent study that people who consume 6-00 milligrams or 0.02 ounces of flavonoids each day had approximately a 20% decreased risk of cognitive decline over those who only consumed 150 milligrams or 0.005 ounces each day.

A 3.5 ounce serving of strawberries contains approximately 180 milligrams or 0.006 flavanoids. An apple has about 113 milligrams or 0.003 ounces of flavonoids the study found.

Flavonoids are compounds in a variety of series that have strong antioxidant capabilities and are mostly found in vegetables and fruits.

Damages to the brain’s blood supply are important contributors to cognitive decline.. The anti-inflammatory characteristics of flavonoids can help protect the brain’s blood supply which will therefore slow down cognitive decline. Cognitive decline can can result in diseases such as Alzheimer’s’ and dementia.

The research was conducted over 25 years and had approximately 75,000 participants. At the start of the study the average age was 50 and the participants are now in their 80’s and 70s. Brain function begins to decline when we reach our 20’s and 30’s, However, it usually isn’t noticed until the age of 70. Consuming foods which are abundant in flavonoids could possible make this downward trend less steep.

The participant’s diet was tracked over 20 years. The the participants answer a particular questionnaire many times over 4 years to discover cognitive decline. Each participant’s cognitive decline was figured with six no or yes questions such as having trouble remembering a short list of things similar to a shopping list. Or having trouble with remembering things one second to the next one.

Since the study was over decades, the results are considered more valid than previous studies that are over just a couple of years.

Cognitive decline is something that happens slowly so when studying it researchers can pick up even subtle changes over a long place in time.

The team says there isn’t a specified number of flavonoids a person should consume daily and they don’t need to be measured or counted. And consuming flaovnoids plays just a small role in possibly slowing down the cognitive decline. People also need to live with good health in mind which includes not smoking and physical activity on a regular basis.

The Mediterranean Diet is a diet that shows effective in preserving cognitive decline because many of the food in this diet have lots of flavonoids. Nutrition has a key role in cognitive decline and choices that are made today in regards to the foods we consume do have a large role in life for protecting our brain.

Fruits that are high in flavonoids include blueberries, strawberries, oranges. Vegetable that are high in flavonoids include celery and peppers.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Long-term Dietary Flavonoid Intake and Subjective Cognitive Decline in US Men and Women