Did You Know?

French Paradox

  • Health scientists have long been puzzled by the so-called French Paradox -- the perplexing fact that the French consume at least as much fat and cholesterol as Americans do, smoke more cigarettes, and yet have far lower rates of coronary heart disease. After a thorough consideration of the two peoples' lifestyles, researchers have isolated yet another distinction between the French and the Americans. The French drink much more wine than do Americans, typically consuming it at meals.
  • These facts, combined with numerous studies conducted over the past twenty years, point to the fact that light to moderate consumption of alcohol, especially red wine, reduces the rate of heart disease dramatically. Research shows that men and women who drink a glass of wine a day exhibit a 20 to 50 percent lower risk of heart disease, and recent studies suggest that tempered consumption of alcohol reduces the risk of stroke.
  • Alcohol increases concentrations of HDL, the 'good' cholesterol that lowers the likelihood of heart disease and decreases platelet aggregability: it makes the blood less sticky and less likely to clot, thus decreasing the risk of a heart attack. With its many antioxidant components, including tannins, phenols, resveratrol, and quercitin, in addition to alcohol, red wine appears to be especially protective.

Commitment To Fitness

  • One study tracked exercisers for a year to see how long they followed through on their commitment to get in shape. Seventy-five percent of those who exercised in the morning were still exercising a year later. Half of those who worked out at noontime stayed with the program, but only 25 percent of those who exercised in the evening maintained their exercise regimen.

Conclusion: Mornings are best, and then you can rest.

Youthful Anger; Early Heart Disease

  • A study from Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, 48 years in the making, confirms that young men who reacted with anger to stress were three times as likely to suffer from heart disease before the age of 55 than their peers who said they let stressful situations roll off their backs. A recent North Carolina study of 256 men and women heart attack victims, published in the May edition of the AHA's (American Heart Association) Circulation, shows that those prone to anger were also three times more likely to have a heart attack than those least prone to anger. The North Carolina researchers say the findings were true for individuals with normal blood pressure levels. Anger could thus lead to heart attacks especially among middle-aged men and women with normal blood pressure, the researchers add.

Fighting Cavities One Of Coffee's Perks

Thinking of kicking your coffee habit? Have another cup instead. Research has come up with a startling discovery. Drinking coffee can help prevent tooth decay.

  • Italian researchers from the University of Ancona, Italy, led by Gabriella Gazzani, PhD, tested samples of green and roasted Arabica and Robusta coffee. They concluded that every sample of the roasted coffee had the unique ability to inhibit some microorganisms, especially Streptococcus mutants, from binding to tooth enamel, the hard outside surface of our teeth. S mutants bacteria produce acid, which breaks down the enamel, causing cavities. Trigonelline, a component of coffee responsible for its aroma and bitter taste, is the anti-adhesive that prevents dental caries from forming.
  • "All coffee solutions have high anti-adhesive properties due to both naturally occurring and roasting-induced molecules," says Dr. Gazzani. The study concluded that coffee from green, unroasted beans was only somewhat protective, coffee prepared from roasted beans was more protective, and instant coffee provided the greatest protection. The degree of protection was unrelated to the amount of caffeine.

What's in Your Cigarette?

  • Cigarette smoke contains over 4700 chemical compounds, including 60 which cause cancer. Many toxic agents are also in cigarettes, some of which are manufactured during the smoking process itself. A lit cigarette generates more than 150 billion tar particles per cubic inch, making up the visible portion of cigarette smoke. According to chemists at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, cigarette smoke is 10,000 times more concentrated than the automobile pollution at rush hour on a freeway. Visible smoke, however, contributes only 5%-8% to the total output of a cigarette. What you can't see are the so-called vapors or gases in the cigarette smoke. That is, besides nitrogen and oxygen, toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, acrolein, hydrogen cyanide, and nitrogen oxides. There are countless more.

How to look and feel years younger?

  • A University of Chicago study of 11 healthy men aged 17 to 27 found that when their sleep was restricted to four hours a night for six nights in a row they started to show physical and mental characteristics usually associated with people 60 and older. Among these were increased hypertension, diabetic symptoms and memory loss. Luckily, the participants were able to turn the clock back to their true age after a few nights of 12-hour slumber. Similar effects are predicted in women. "Beauty sleep earned its name for a reason," says Dr. Jaliman. "That's when tissues restore themselves."
  • University of California, San Diego researchers revealed that those who sleep six to seven hours a night live longer than those who sleep eight or more hours or those who get less than four hours sleep.

Five Ways to Keep Your Mind Sharp

"USE IT OR LOSE IT" definitely applies what you've got upstairs. "Your brain is like a muscle that withers with disuse," says Duke University neurobiologist Lawrence C. Katz, Ph.D. To keep your mind agile, Dr. Katz suggests the following exercises:

  • Get dressed or dial a phone with your eyes closed. "Your brain has to kick into gear to be aware of your surroundings," Dr. Katz says.
  • Create an ongoing chess game with family and coworkers.
  • Take a different route to work occasionally.
  • Awoken your senses at an ethnic or farmers' market.
  • Switch places at the dining table. "You'll see both your family and dining room differently," says Dr. Katz.

Entertain Yourself!

  • Those who read regularly or attend movies, plays, concerts or sporting events were nearly 20 percent less likely to have died during the course of a nine-year study of 12,000 Swedes. Why? As reported in British Medical Journal, such diversions awaken the immune system. Socializing may also cut your risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, according to Columbia University study. Of the 1,770 adults studied, "those with high leisure activity had thirty -eight percent less risk of developing dementia," says lead study author Yaakov Stern, Ph.D.
Exercise-Induced Brain Power
  • According to recent studies conducted at Duke University and at Nihon Fukushi University in Japan, individuals consistently scored higher on intellectual tests after embarking on a running program. The study at Duke University, which involved seniors embarking on a 4-month exercise program, showed significant improvement in memory and other mental skills. The study in Japan had seven healthy young people initiate a jogging regimen that lasted for 12 weeks. Like the case with Duke counterparts, their scores on a series of complex computer-based tests significantly increased by the end of 3-month program. Although it is unclear exactly how exercise may strengthen mental acuity, research suggests that maintaining a healthy flow of blood and oxygen protects the brain. It is clear, however, that you must continue to jog to reap the rewards - cognitive improvements in study participants went down once they stopped jogging.
  • Older people who are sleepy during the day could be at risk for developing memory loss or other types of cognitive impairment. Yet simple community activities can help keep the mind healthy and prevent boredom, say researchers at Stanford University.
How Much Water Do You Need?
  • (Health Scout News) -- Recent reports have said it's a myth that everyone should drink eight glasses of water a day. That may have left many people wondering how much water you really need.
  • The Mayo Clinic has some guidelines that might help. First, it's important to note food contains some of the water you need. In general, the average man needs about 12 cups of water a day, and the average woman, nine cups, from all sources.
  • One way to tell if you are getting enough water is by noting the color of your urine. If it is pale, you are probably doing OK. However, if it's darker and has a stronger odor, you probably need to drink more water.
  • The clinic adds there is some evidence that drinking plenty of water can reduce your chances of getting certain diseases. One study suggested that it can reduce a woman's risk of getting colon cancer.

Another Great Reason To Suck Up To Vitamin C

  • Vitamin C recently added a new notch on its belt. The vitamin helps reduce both the physical and psychological effects of stress on people. People who have high levels of vitamin C do not show the expected mental and physical signs of stress when subjected to acute psychological challenges. What's more, they bounce back from stressful situations faster than people with low levels of vitamin C in their blood.
  • In one recent study, German researchers subjected 120 people to a sure-fire stressor -- a public speaking task combined with math problems. Half of those studied were given 1,000 mg of vitamin C. Such signs of stress as elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol and high blood pressure were significantly greater in those who did not get the vitamin supplement. Those who got vitamin C reported that they felt less stressed when they got the vitamin.
  • The researchers believe that vitamin C should be considered an essential part of stress management. Earlier studies showed that vitamin C abolished secretion of cortisol in animals that had been subjected to repeated stress. Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Once it gets into the bloodstream, it is responsible for relaying the news of stress to all parts of the body and mind.
  • Cortisol is the hormone, for example, that triggers the “fight or flight” response to stress. That allows us to spring into action when we sense danger. But like many emergency-alert systems, the stress response comes at a considerable cost. Among other effects, frequent exposure to high levels of stress hormones exhausts the body’s physical resources, impairs learning and memory, and makes people susceptible to depression.
  • Vitamin C is present in fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits and red and green peppers. One eight-ounce glass of fresh orange juice provides 97 milligrams of the vitamin. It’s also found in papayas, cantaloupes, strawberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, asparagus and parsley. There’s no vitamin C in animal food, and a small amount in raw fish. But buyer beware. An unstable substance, vitamin C is destroyed by cooking and exposure to light.

Intense Exercise Cuts Heart Risk

Study finds jogging, rowing, lifting weights are best

(Health Scout News) -- Want to improve your heart health? Run if you can, don't walk. Row in the water rather than wade in it.

  • A new study adds a new twist to the "no pain, no gain" theory by finding that increased intensity of exercise significantly lowers the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in men. The research appears in tomorrow's Journal of the American Medical Association.
  • "We all know that physical activity is good for heart disease. This is the first time we've shown that intensity of exercise over and above the amount of energy expenditure makes a difference," says Dr. Frank Hu, senior author of the study and an associate professor of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. "If the exercise is suitable for the person, I think people should aim for more rigorous exercise given the amount of energy expenditure."
  • The association between aerobic activity and reduced risk for CHD was expected. More surprising were results documenting a similar risk reduction with weight training. "This is the first study to directly look at the relationship between weight training and risk of CHD, and this is the first evidence that resistance training is beneficial for heart disease," Hu says.
  • The study looked at a group of 44,452 male dentists, optometrists, pharmacists, podiatrists, osteopaths and veterinarians enrolled in the Health Professionals' Follow-up Study who were interviewed at two-year intervals between 1996 and the beginning of 1998.
  • Men who ran for an hour or more each week had a 42 percent reduced risk for CHD compared with men who did not run. Men who trained with weights for 30 minutes or more per week had a 23 percent reduced risk of CHD compared with those who did not. Rowing for one hour or more per week was associated with an 18 percent reduced risk. A half-hour or more of brisk walking each day was also associated with an 18 percent reduction in risk for CHD. The faster you walked, the bigger the reduction.
  • The physically active men in the study also tended to have lower body mass indexes, lower total fat intake, higher intakes of fiber, and lower incidences of smoking and high blood pressure.
  • Aerobic activity, we know, has a direct effect on heart muscle, can raise "good" and lower "bad" cholesterol, and can lower blood pressure. Weight training does not have a direct effect on the muscles of the heart, but it can have a beneficial effect on insulin resistance and body fat, which in turn can have an effect on heart disease.
When The Blues Are Good
  • Blueberries, that is. Rich in multiple antioxidants, blueberries added to your everyday diet limit the memory loss that comes with age. Further, they actually stimulate the growth of new nerve cells in areas of the brain essential for memory.

 

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