Happy Walk Can Lift Our Mood

October 20, 2014 8:16 am 0 comments

You can sing hallelujawalkingh, come on get happy, or you may be able to get happy just by walking a happy walk. That, at least, is the suggestion of research conducted recently at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. How do they know? Because when researchers asked subjects to walk in a more depressed style, with less arm movement and their shoulders rolled forward, those subjects reported being in a worse mood than subjects who were asked to walk a spritely happy walk. A CIFAR news release reports that the researchers showed subjects a list of positive and negative words, such as “pretty,” “afraid” and “anxious” and then asked them to walk on a treadmill while they measured their gait and posture. A screen showed the subjects a gauge that moved left or right depending on whether their walking style was more depressed or happier. But the subjects didn’t know what the gauge was measuring. Researchers told some subjects to try and move the gauge left, while others were told to move it right. The subjects were then told to write down as many words as they could remember from the earlier list of positive and negative words. Those who had been walking in a depressed style remembered many more negative words. Yes, the difference in recall suggests that the depressed walking style actually created a more depressed mood. The researchers think that just walking a happy walk may lift some people to a more pleasant place. Could be true.

Sugar-Sweetened Soda Makes Your Body Older Faster

October 17, 2014 7:58 am 1 comment

imagesWe’ve known for years that drinking lots of sugar-sweetened soda can make you fat; now comes research from UC San Francisco suggesting that it can also make you old. It’s true. A news release from UCSF reports that when researchers at the school measured telomeres from 5,309 people between the ages of 20 and 65, they found that the amount of sugar-sweetened soda they drank was associated with telomere length, and not in a good way. The telomeres — the protective units of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes in cells — were shorter in the white blood cells of those who reported drinking more soda. Yes, that’s a bad thing, because short telomeres are associated with the development of chronic diseases of aging, including heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. Based on the way telomere length shortens on average with chronological age, the UCSF researchers calculated that daily consumption of a 20-ounce soda could lead to 4.6 years of additional biological aging. That’s comparable to the effect of smoking, or to the effect of regular exercise in the opposite, anti-aging direction.

Age vs Fitness Age, And Why It Matters

October 16, 2014 7:35 am 0 comments

There is your chronological age, imagesand there is your fitness age, which can allegedly be calculated with a formula that researchers have been tweaking for decades. Now comes the latest version, based on a new study published in June in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, and whose formula is built into new How Fit Are You, Really?website. Writing about the site in the New York Times, Gretchen Reynolds reports that the new calculations are based on data from more than 55,000 Norwegian adults who had completed extensive health questionnaires beginning in the 1980s. The scientists used the volunteers’ answers to estimate each person’s VO2max and fitness age, and they also looked at their death records. Reynolds tells us that the researchers found that if VO2max was 85 percent or more below the average for their age, people had an 82 percent higher risk of dying prematurely than those whose fitness age was the same as or more youthful than their actual age. The study’s authors are convinced that fitness age may predict a person’s risk of early death better than some traditional risk factors like being overweight, having high cholesterol levels or blood pressure, and smoking.

Mediterranean Diet With Nuts and Olive Oil Reverses Metabolic Syndrome

October 15, 2014 8:23 am 1 comment

oliveoil_couttesy_net_efekt_creativeCommonsWe’ve all read about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, and now we are about to read about a strange one: the diet doesn’t seem to prevent metabolic syndrome, but it does reverse it.  Science Daily reports that Spanish researchers studied the influence of variations of the diet on more than 5,800 people with metabolic syndrome and a high risk of heart disease, who were randomly assigned to one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts, or a low-fat diet as the control. After a median follow up period of 4.8 years, the researchers found that people in the two Mediterranean diet groups decreased their central obesity and blood glucose levels and 958 participants (28.2 percent) no longer met the criteria of metabolic syndrome. But, the researchers wrote: “Mediterranean diets supplemented with olive oil or nuts were not associated with a reduced incidence of metabolic syndrome compared with a low-fat diet; however, both diets were associated with a significant rate of reversion of metabolic syndrome.” Yes, strange.

Worried About Ebola Yet?

October 14, 2014 8:04 am 0 comments

imgresAre you worried about Ebola yet? At least one out of four American are, according to a new Harris Poll/HealthDay survey. And the most disturbing thing about the poll is that it was taken more than a week ago, before a nurse in Dallas who had treated an Ebola patient became sick, compelling the CDC to rethink the preparedness of U.S. medical workers to deal with the crisis. HealthDay reports that the online poll of more than 2,000 adults, taken between Oct. 2 and 6, found that the number of people who consider Ebola a “major threat” to the United States jumped from 13 percent in mid-September — before the nation’s first diagnosed case of Ebola appeared in Dallas on Sept. 28 — to 27 percent during polling last week. The survey found that 55 percent of people now view Ebola as some level of public health threat to the United States, up 15 percentage points from the mid-September survey. According to HealthDay, respondents also came out strongly in favor of increased screening of new arrivals to America from the West African nations of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the main countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. Nine out of 10 people said they agree with screening of people entering the country from those nations, and two-thirds said they agree strongly. Yes, more to come.

How To Turn Bad Fat Into Good Fat: With Cold

October 10, 2014 8:04 am 0 comments

OK, first of all, it’s not actually brown fat, it’s more beige, but what credible researcher would take “beige fat” seriously? Brown fat is good fat, the kind of fat that burns calories for body heat, rather than converting them to white fat, yes, the bad fat. Now come researchers at the University of Kentucky who think they have found one influence that can tell the body to turn white fat to brown fat: cold. Yes, cold. HealthDayimages-1 reports that when the researchers compared belly fat taken from 55 people during the summer and the winter, the found that the belly fat taken from people in the winter had higher levels of two genetic markers for brown fat than belly fat collected in the summer. Wait, there’s more. When they examined thigh fat collected from 16 people after they held an ice pack on their skin for 30 minutes they found that the fat taken after people placed an ice pack on their skin also had higher levels of three genetic markers linked with brown fat.  What’s up with that?  Hard to day, but that other research has shown that brown fat prevents obesity in rodents, and several studies have suggested that cooler temperatures may help burn calories in humans. Very cool.

Fast Food Is Now Slightly Less Bad For You

October 9, 2014 4:25 pm 0 comments

21185-leadFirst the good news: fast food is more healthful than it has been in years. And now the bad: it’s still a long way from healthful. The Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University reports that a survey of calorie counts at fast food restaurants shows that this year’s core offerings contain 60 fewer calories (or 12 percent fewer calories) than their traditional menu selections in 2012 and 2013. How did they make unhealthful food healthful? OK, they didn’t do that, exactly, but they did add a lot of more healthful foods, like salads. When the researchers, who analyzed data from MenuStat, looked at menu options in 66 of the 100 largest U.S. restaurant chains for 2012 and 2013 they found that newer, lower-calorie items fell into the categories of main course, beverages and children’s menus. The researchers remind us that on a typical day, 33 percent of young children, 41 percent of adolescents and 36 percent of adults, eat at fast-food restaurants, with an average intake of 191 calories, 404 calories, and 315 calories, respectively. So will 60 calories make a difference?  Lead study author Sara Bleich says yes, “the impact on obesity could be significant.”

Grapefruit Juice Cuts Weight Gain 18 Percent

October 9, 2014 7:47 am 0 comments

Yes, it’s true that drinking grapefruit juice can decrease the weight you gain from fatty foods by 18 percent, but perhaps only if you are a mousegrapefruit410. A news release from the University of California at Berkeley reports that researchers at the school found that mice fed a high-fat diet gained 18 percent less weight when they drank clarified, pulp-free grapefruit juice compared with a control group of mice that drank water. Juice-drinking mice also showed improved levels of glucose, insulin and a type of fat called triacylglycerol, compared with their water-drinking counterparts. At the end of the study period, the mice that ate the high-fat diet and drank diluted grapefruit juice not only gained less weight than their control counterparts, they also had a 13 to 17 percent decrease in blood glucose levels and a threefold decrease in insulin levels. Readers, hold your applause. The study did not find as big an impact on mice that ate a low-fat diet. Those that drank the grapefruit juice saw a two-fold decrease in insulin levels, but there was no significant change in weight. And yes, the research was funded by the California Grapefruit Growers Cooperative.

Repeat Knee Injuries: What Are The Odds?

October 8, 2014 8:43 am 0 comments

imagesEver wonder what the odds are that you’ll re-injure a knee after an ACL repair? Now we know, and the answer is: it depends how old you are.  If you’re in high school, and if you are reading this you are probably not in high school, you’ve got a 17 percent chance of re-injury. That sounds scary until you read the full report from researchers at the University of North Carolina, which claims a 20 percent chance of injury on the knee that wasn’t operated on for high school students. If you’re in college, you’re much better off. The researchers found a 1.9 percent re-injury rate in the repaired knee and an 11 percent injury rate for the other knee. Wait there’s more: a UNC news release reports that the return to play rates were almost identical in both groups:  athletes in the precollegiate group used 78 percent of their total playing eligibility after injury while athletes in the intracollegiate group used 77 percent. How do they know? The researchers reviewed the medical charts of all UNC athletes from 2000 to 2009 who had ACL surgery: 89 men and women. Thirty-five had ACL reconstruction as precollegiates while 54 had ACL surgery during college.

The Fatter Your Dinner Company, The More You Eat

October 7, 2014 8:23 am 2 comments

Want to eat less? Find a slim dinner companion. Researchers at Cornell’s Food and Brand lab are convinced that the heavier your dinner company, the more you eat. How do they know? HealthDay imagesreports that the researchers evaluated how much food people ate when they ate with an actress who wore a fat suit that made her 50 pounds heavier and when they ate with the same person without her fat suit. To do that, they invited 82 college students to eat a spaghetti and salad lunch on four different occasions. For two of  the four meals, the actress wore the fat suit. One time, she ate more salad than pasta; the other time she ate more pasta than salad. On two other occasions, she did not wear the fat suit. Again, one time she picked more salad than pasta and another time she ate more pasta than salad. The envelope please….People eating with a person who is notably overweight ended up eating about 32 percent more pasta and about 43 percent less salad. Why? More research is needed.

 

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