Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Eating plenty of fruit and veg DOES help us live longer - by keeping our immune system young

Eating fruit and vegetables has a vital role in keeping a key part of the immune system young, scientists have found.

The thymus gland is located in front of the heart and creates T-cells which help the body fight infections.

It is quite large in children and adolescents, but as we grow older it shrinks faster than any other tissue in the body.

Its decay puts older people at much greater risk of infection.

Now research has found that antioxidants such as vitamin C can keep this vital organ healthy by stopping the damage in its tracks.

Experiments showed that antioxidants – found in fruits and vegetables – stopped the thymus from shrivelling.

In mouse studies, animals given vitamin C and another antioxidant used in human medicine experienced significantly less age-related deterioration of the thymus.

Lead scientist Dr Howard Petrie, from the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, California, said: ‘The thymus ages more rapidly than any other tissue in the body.

'It diminishes the ability of older individuals to respond to new immunologic challenges, including evolving pathogens and the vaccines that may otherwise offer protection from them.

‘We provide, for the first time, a link between antioxidants and normal immune function, opening new avenues for potential treatment strategies that could improve immune defences in the ageing population.’

T-cells are continuously lost and replaced throughout life. But from about the time of puberty onwards, the thymus rapidly shrinks and its T-cell generating ability diminishes.

Why this happens has been unclear. A leading theory is that sex hormones such as testosterone play a role, but this fails to explain why the thymus seems to age so much faster than other organs and tissues.

The new research highlights the unique damaging effect hydrogen peroxide - best known as a bleaching agent but also a natural by-product of metabolism - has on the thymus.

Hydrogen peroxide can be compared with dangerous waste from a nuclear reactor. It is produced by all cells as a result of the process that converts food into energy using oxygen, but is highly destructive.

Oxidative damage inflicted by hydrogen peroxide and other 'reactive oxygen species' (ROS) chemicals can tear apart cell membranes and scramble DNA.

Antioxidants, some of which are produced naturally in the body, help to block the devastating effects of chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide.

The Scripps scientists found that one natural antioxidant, an enzyme called catalase, is especially important in the thymus.

As the organ aged, it became deficient in catalase, allowing the damage caused by hydrogen peroxide to go unchecked.

In genetically engineered mice with raised levels of the enzyme, the thymus was preserved as they aged.

And the addition of two other antioxidants - vitamin C and the chemical n-acetylcysteine - to the drinking water of normal mice also protected the thymus.

N-acetylcysteine is used in medicine to treat the effects of paracetamol overdose and certain lung conditions.

After 10 weeks, the thymuses of mice given the antioxidant supplements were ‘significantly larger’ than those of untreated animals, the research published in the journal Cell Reports showed.

The scientists concluded: ‘We propose that irreversible thymic atrophy represents a conventional ageing process that is accelerated by catalase deficiency.’

The findings suggest that oxidation rather than hormones is chiefly to blame for age-related thymus damage.

Dr Petrie said: ‘Our study shows that the fundamental mechanism of aging in the thymus, namely accumulated metabolic damage, is the same as in other body tissues.

‘However, the process is accelerated in the thymus by a deficiency in the essential protective effects of catalase, which is found at higher levels in almost all other body tissues.’

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Experts tell doctors they should prescribe olive oil, vegetables and nuts before turning to pills

Eating a healthy Mediterranean diet could be better than statins at cutting the risk of an early death, a major study has found.

Leading experts said people with cardiovascular disease should be prescribed a diet high in olive oil, vegetables and nuts before doctors consider turning to pills.

The findings, presented in Rome at the world's biggest heart conference, found that people with cardiovascular disease who followed the diet were 37% less likely to die than patients who did not. Doctors said the study offers a simple way for people with heart disease to boost their survival chances – with no risk of side effects.

The Mediterranean diet is already known to protect healthy people from developing heart problems, diabetes and cancer.

But the new study is the strongest evidence to date that it could also be a powerful treatment for people who already have cardiovascular disease. These patients are nearly always prescribed statins, which reduce levels of cholesterol, and are proven to save lives. The medication cuts the chance of early death among people with cardiovascular disease by 18%, according to a 2013 review involving 200,000 patients.

Some experts say statins are priceless. But many GPs and patients are concerned about over-prescription of the pills. A Mediterranean diet is typically rich in fruit and vegetables, fish, and olive oil. It usually involves low levels of carbohydrate, sugar and processed food – but people who follow it do not usually count calories or watch their fat intake.

Experts think the diet has such a strong impact on heart patients because it is high in protective fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids and mono-unsaturated fatty acids.

The Italian team looked at the diet of nearly 1,200 heart patients and tracked them for seven years.

In that time 208 patients died. After taking into account other factors such as diabetes, smoking, cholesterol levels and age, they calculated that those who most closely followed the 'ideal' Mediterranean diet were 37% less likely to die during the study period than those whose eating patterns were the farthest from the Mediterranean diet.

Scientists warned that people prescribed the drugs should not stop taking them without speaking to their doctor. But they said people with heart disease – whether they are taking statins or not – could significantly improve their life expectancy if they changed their eating habits.

Researcher Professor Giovanni de Gaetano, of the IRCCS Neuromed Institute in Pozzilli, Italy, said: 'First of all doctors should consider diet before drugs.

'It could allow patients to get the benefits of statins but without the side effects.'

Presenting his data at the European Society of Cardiology Congress, Professor de Gaetano said statins remained important. But he added if more doctors advised patients to change their diet, statin use might be reduced. He suggested Government subsidies would make it easier for people to follow the Mediterranean diet. 'The problem is that the NHS pays for drugs, but it does not pay for vegetables and fruit.'

London cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, who has long advocated a diet-driven approach to maintaining health, said the results were 'extraordinary'.

He added: 'The Mediterranean diet is more powerful than any drug at reducing death rates in patients with cardiovascular disease.

'It's the powerful anti-inflammatory effects of foods such as olive oil, nuts, oily fish and vegetables where the benefits lie, and unlike cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, come without side effects. It's time for the NHS to embrace lifestyle medicine to save it from the collapse being predominantly driven by diet-related disease.'

Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, added: 'It is good to know that even if you already have a history of cardiovascular disease, adhering to a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of death.'

Pensioners who spend little more than half an hour a day pottering in the garden reduce their chance of dying from a heart attack or stroke by half, researchers have found.

Light exercise such as walking, fishing or gentle cycling for four hours a week was associated with a 54% reduction in deaths from heart conditions over the next 12 years, with a 31% drop in heart attacks and strokes, according to researchers at the University of Oulu in Finland.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Regular exercise in old age could keep the mind young

Evidence is growing that fitter people have bigger brains and better memories.

Keeping fit may even trigger the growth of new cells in the brain’s memory hub – helping protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

British experts say that what is good for the heart is also good for the head – and that even brisk walking is beneficial.

The latest evidence for that exercise boosts the brain as well as the body is in a special edition of the journal NeuroImage.

It includes a study from the University of Kentucky in the US, in which 30 men and women in their 50s and 60s were put through heart and lung tests while running on a treadmill.

They also underwent brain scans.

The results showed blood flow to the brain – and so the supply of oxygen and vital nutrients – to be higher in those who were fitter.

Another study, by US government scientists at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, compared the brains of mice kept in cages with wheels with those housed without any exercise equipment.

Zeroing in on part of the hippocampus, the brain’s memory hub, and one of the first areas to be destroyed by Alzheimer’s, revealed that the mice with the wheels had up to three times as many new brain cells.

Study co-author Henriette van Praag told the Sunday Times: ‘For most people, physical health and brain health once seemed to have little connection.

‘This has been changed by discoveries in rodents that wheel-running increases producing of new neurons in the hippocampus.’

Other recent research has shown that even going for a brisk walk can help the brain grow.

The work, from the University of Pittsburgh in the US, found that going for a stroll three days a week boosted the size of the hippocampus and other key brain regions by up to 2 per cent.

While this might not sound like much, it is equivalent to taking two years off the brain’s age – an ‘enormous’ effect.

In contrast, the same brain regions shrunk away in people who swapped going for walks for a stretching routine.

In an introductory article to the latest research on exercise in NeuroImage, Oxford University Neuroscientist Heidi Johansen-Berg said: ‘Studying how physical and cognitive activity affects brain structure and function is particularly pressing given the growing global health burden of age-related cognitive and brain decline.’

Other experts also back exercise as a way to stay mentally fit.

Professor Linda Clare, an Exeter University expert in ageing and dementia, said walking, running and cycling ‘can all give the brain the boost it needs to stay healthy for longer.’

Professor James Goodwin, chief scientist at Age UK, which as part of the Global Council on Brain Health is compiling advice on how to best keep the brain sharp,added: ‘Brain deterioration is seen as inevitable and unpreventable.

‘But that is wrong – your lifestyle is intimately linked to the health of your brain.’

Dr Clare Walton, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘We know that what is good for the heart is good for the head and people who are physically active throughout their life have a reduced risk of developing dementia.

‘Of all the lifestyle factors known to impact your risk of developing dementia, taking regular exercise seems to be one of the best things you can do.

‘You don’t need to hit the gym to keep fit, try anything that gets your heart rate up for 30 minutes or more, like taking a brisk walk, a game of tennis or a dance class.

‘If you’ve not been active for a while, speak to your GP to find out which kinds of activities would be best to get you started again.’

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

New wave of trendy superfoods that will revolutionize your diet

The benefits of 'superfoods' such as blueberries, kale and pomegranate have become so popularized that they are readily available in any grocery store.

But experts claim a new generation of superfoods - many of which are found in exotic locations such as the Amazon rainforest, the Andes or the freshwater lakes of China - are set to push healthy eating to a 'whole other level'.


Taken from the male spore of a pine tree, pine pollen has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. 

Its benefits are said to include strengthening the immune system, energizing, hormonal support and an aphrodisiac.  

Los Angeles-based raw food chef Sophie Jaffe says it is good for 'longevity' as well as 'whole body function, metabolism and immunity.'

She said she also uses it as an aphrodisiac, admitting: 'Sometimes I'll drug my husband by making him an amazing pine pollen smoothie.' 


The pods, found on mesquite trees found in Mexico and parts of the US, are ground into a powder to form a rich source of calcium, zinc, iron, fiber and potassium. 

'It's high in protein and high in iron which is pretty rare when it comes to vegetables,' said Sophie. 

The pods, which were traditionally used by Native Americans, can be mixed into smoothies, stews or porridge, used in baking or added to desserts. 


Fresh water pearls, most often found in China, are more commonly thought of as a luxury jewel than a food. 

But fans of pearl powder claim it also has superfood benefits including reducing wrinkles, blemishes and scarring and restoring skin and nails. It has also been linked to helping treet anxiety.

Sophie said it is a 'really strong amazing mineral' and that it is popular in Los Angeles at the moment. 

'A lot of people are using it now in my world for beauty, skin, nails to rebuild,' she said.

To use it, Sophie said the pearl is ground up and then can be 'pinched' into a potion or a smoothie. Alternatively, it is also sold as capsules. 


Made from deactivated yeast and non-leavening, nutritional yeast is said to be a 'great source of protein and fiber'. 

Dr Silverman said it is also one of the only vegan-friendly sources of vitamin B12.

Also known as 'nooch', its cheese-like flavor has made it a popular substitute for those who do not or cannot eat dairy.

Most people sprinkle it onto savory foods or into sauces.

Nutritionist Dr Silverman said: 'Not to be confused with brewer's yeast, it's a great source of protein, B12, especially for vegans, no gluten. 

'Some people cook with it but the best way is to sprinkle it over, like people do with cinnamon.'  


Found on shrubs in the Amazon rainforest, these berries are said to boost immunity and contain more vitamin C than any other individual food on Earth - making it a 'big' superfood according to Sophie. 

It also contains amino acids - helpful for recovery and muscles - vitamin B and minerals.  

The powder can be blended into a smoothie or served with fruit or sprinkled onto yogurt or salads.


The black fungus, known as the 'king of medicinal mushrooms', grows on birch trees. It is said to enhance the immune system and can be drunk as a tea.

It is popular in Russia and in some parts of Europe, but the mushroom has only recently started getting attention in the US.

Sophie said its medicinal properties are 'catching on' in the US and that it has been 'used for years for building immunity.' 

It grows in northern Asia, Canada, northern and eastern Europe and in some parts of the US. 


The Ethiopian 'supergrain' has been hailed as the 'new quinoa' and celebrity fans are said to include actress and Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow. 

The ingredient has a nutty flavor and can be ground into a flour to make gluten-free bread, eaten as a porridge or stew and is a great source of iron, fiber and protein. 

Dr Silverman said: 'It's high in iron, tastes really great and believe it or not it's been called Hollywood's new superfood...  

'It's great for celiac support, good for bone health, fabulous for diabetes control, good for heart health.

'It's probably the best gluten-free grain out there. Without any doubt it's the new quinoa.'   


Maca comes from a root grown in the Andes, Peru, where it is a centuries-old food and medicine. 

It contains antioxidants, amino acids and fiber and it can be drunk as a coffee-alternative or consumed in a smoothie or in food.

Dr Silverman said: 'It boosts energy, endurance and libido.'  

Also read:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Can supplements REALLY make us more beautiful?

Experts reveal exactly which supplements will change our looks... and which ones are actually pretty useless.

The market for OTC anti-aging 'beauty' nutritional supplements is growing but can you really expect to pop a pill and see the results in the mirror? 

All beauty pills contain active ingredients that they say have a positive effect on the skin. Ones you may expect to work – like those containing collagen for example – are actually pretty useless when taken by mouth since they don't survive the digestive process. Others may surprise you, like those which have lycopene in their ingredients list, which is quite effective. 


This is a powerful antioxidant which is known to help protect the skin and may be involved in promoting new collagen production.

But there is some debate how much of the active ingredient in a pill makes it to the skin at all. 

Dr Thomas Ha, a consultant dermatologist based in Cambridge, said: 'Vitamin C can be very unstable and break down easily, for example in the presence of ultraviolet light.

'It needs a stabiliser, like vitamin E, which is why you often see these two vitamins together.

'It has been shown taking vitamin C at 500-1000mg can protect against harmful UV rays which does most of the damage in skin.'


Omega 3, an essential fatty acid, is one of the most popular health supplements and is vital for the effective functioning of all cells in the body, including the skin. 

Fatty acids are not manufactured by the body so have to be taken though the diet. 

Omega 3 helps keep the membrane of the cell working optimally, allowing wastes to leave and nutrients to enter. 

The claim that fish oils help to boost collagen levels in the skin are not proven.


This vitamin, specifically D3, has been getting quite a lot of attention because of its ability to reduce inflammation in the skin, which can hasten the effects of aging. 

Vitamin D is made by the body in the presence of sunlight, but many people are actually deficient in this vitamin. 

A study carried out by researchers at Kings College London has found people with higher levels of vitamin D appeared to age more slowly. 

Doctors recommend people, especially in northern climates, take between 400 to 1,000 mg of vitamin D, especially during the winter.


These are potent substances which help to mop up damaging free radicals in the blood, and hence reduce the signs of wrinkles and premature aging. 

Lycopene, extracted from tomatoes, is considered one of the most promising antioxidants for skin, although the jury is still out whether it has any rejuvenating effect. 

14 mg, three times a day has been shown to reduce effects from sun damage.

But what about the controversial supplements?


This powerful humectant, which attracts and keeps moisture in the skin, is already used in lots of topical creams, and in supplement pills. 

Most experts agree, when taken orally, hyaluronic acid supplements may not be readily absorbed by the body. 

Dr Nicholas Lowe, a consultant dermatologist based in London, said: 'There is no proven value of oral hyaluronic acid.'


Dr Ha said: 'Taking collagen pills is probably completely ineffective, since the collagen, which helps maintain skin suppleness and elasticity, will be broken down in the stomach and intestines and will never reach the skin itself.'


This vitamin, in various forms, is known to work as a cream and helps to boost the skin's ability to make its own collagen. 

However, taken as an oral supplement, it has too many side effects and can even be toxic to the liver and the brain. 

Safe levels of vitamin A vary by age and pregnant women should avoid taking supplements altogether since too much can harm the developing baby.

Also read:

Monday, August 22, 2016

Aging may slow when certain cells are killed

Killing off certain aging cells in the body may lead to a longer life, suggests a new study done in genetically engineered mice.

Researchers used a drug to kill these "aging" cells in mice around the time the animals reached midlife. Those mice lived longer, on average, than mice in which the cells had not been removed, the study found.

However, more research is needed to see whether and how these results could be applied beyond these mice. The mice in the study had been genetically engineered so that the aging cells, and only those cells, would be killed by injecting the drug.

The drug that the researchers administered to the mice only worked because the mice were transgenic, and researchers "can't make transgenic humans," noted Christin Burd, an assistant professor of molecular genetics at The Ohio State University, who was not involved in the new study. In other words, it not clear whether the finding would hold true in people.

Nonetheless, the new results do suggest that if researchers can one day find a way to get rid of these cells in humans, "it can have some really huge impacts on health care," she said.

The "aging," or senescent, cells that the researchers investigated in the study are dysfunctional cells that have stopped dividing, and whose presence has been linked to age-dependent diseases.

In the study, the researchers developed the genetically engineered mice. Then, when the mice were 12 months old (midlife for the rodents),the scientists started injecting the animals with a drug to kill off these cells. The researchers also included a group of control mice that were not injected with the drug, but were instead injected with a placebo solution.

The results showed that the mice whose senescent cells had been killed lived longer. Their median life spans were increased by 24 to 27 percent, compared with those of the mice in the control group, according to the study, published today (Feb. 3) in the journal Nature.

The researchers also found that the mice who were injected with the drug were slower to develop certain conditions related to aging, such as cataracts and deterioration of the kidneys and heart function, compared with those animals in the control group.

The results suggest that during a normal aging process, the presence of senescent cells shortens the life spans of mice and the period of life during which the animals are generally healthy, the researchers said.

These findings "demonstrate that the removal of senescent cells does indeed delay aging and increase healthy life span," Jesus Gil and Dominic Withers, both professors of clinical science at Imperial College London who were not involved in the study, wrote in a related editorial published in the journal.

But Gil and Withers also noted that senescent cells are involved in certain important processes such as wound healing. Although the new study suggests that the removal of these cells has limited side effects overall, "any future senescence-based therapies must take care to control for possible detrimental consequences," Gil and Withers wrote.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Latinos age much slower at molecular level than other ethnicities

Latinos DO age slower than anyone else - and their genes 'hold the key to prolonging youthfulness'. 

A UCLA study is the first to show that Latinos age at a slower rate than other ethnic groups. The findings, published in the current issue of Genome Biology, may one day help scientists understand how to slow the aging process for everyone.

"Latinos live longer than Caucasians, despite experiencing higher rates of diabetes and other diseases. Scientists refer to this as the 'Hispanic paradox,'" said lead author Steve Horvath, a professor of human genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Our study helps explain this by demonstrating that Latinos age more slowly at the molecular level."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Latinos in the U.S. live an average of three years longer than Caucasians, with a life expectancy of 82 versus 79. At any age, healthy Latino adults face a 30% lower risk of death than other racial groups, reports a 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health.

The UCLA team used several biomarkers, including an "epigenetic clock" developed by Horvath in 2013, to track an epigenetic shift linked to aging in the genome. Epigenetics is the study of changes to the DNA molecule that influence which genes are active but don't alter the DNA sequence itself.

Horvath and his colleagues analyzed 18 sets of data on DNA samples from nearly 6,000 people. The participants represented seven different ethnicities: two African groups, African-Americans, Caucasians, East Asians, Latinos and an indigenous people who are genetically related to Latinos. Called the Tsimane, the latter group lives in Bolivia.

When the scientists examined the DNA from blood-which reveals the health of a person's immune system—they were struck by differences linked to ethnicity. In particular, the scientists noticed that, after accounting for differences in cell composition, the blood of Latinos and the Tsimane aged more slowly than other groups.

According to Horvath, the UCLA research points to an epigenetic explanation for Latinos' longer life spans. For example, the biological clock measured Latino women's age as 2.4 years younger than non-Latino women of the same age after menopause.

"We suspect that Latinos' slower aging rate helps neutralize their higher health risks, particularly those related to obesity and inflammation," said Horvath, who is also a professor of biostatistics at the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA. "Our findings strongly suggest that genetic or environmental factors linked to ethnicity may influence how quickly a person ages and how long they live."

The Tsimane aged even more slowly than Latinos. The biological clock calculated the age of their blood as two years younger than Latinos and four years younger than Caucasians. The finding reflects the group's minimal signs of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity or clogged arteries.

"Despite frequent infections, the Tsimane people show very little evidence of the chronic diseases that commonly afflict modern society," observed coauthor Michael Gurven, a professor of anthropology at UC Santa Barbara. "Our findings provide an interesting molecular explanation for their robust health."

In another finding, the researchers learned that men's blood and brain tissue ages faster than women's from the same ethnic groups.

The discovery could explain why women have a higher life expectancy than men.

Horvath and his colleagues next plan to study the aging rate of other human tissues and to identify the molecular mechanism that protects Latinos from aging.

Also read:

The wonderful benefits of Maca

Maca, a root that belongs to the radish family, is most commonly available in powder form. Grown in the mountains of Peru, it has been called “Peruvian ginseng.” Maca’s benefits have been long valued, and has recently been popularized as a supplement and food ingredient. 

Maca is rich in vitamin B vitamins, C, and E. It provides plenty of calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and amino acids.

Sexual function and Fertility
Traditionally, Maca has been regarded as a potent aphrodesiac among the native Peruvian population. More recently Maca has been very successful in increasing the libido of both men and women. At the same time it balances your hormones and increases fertility. One study also has shown that Maca can help men overcome erectile dysfunction. Black Maca in particular has shown to increase sperm count and volume. And Red Maca has been shown to balance female hormones and ovulation cycles. These effects may be related to the presence in Maca of active aromatic isothiocyanates. 

Hormone balance
Maca contains a variety of amino acids, which are the building blocks of hormones. Research has shown that taking Maca regularly can balance hormones within both men and women. Maca does not contain hormones, but the building blocks from which the body can create them.  Because hormones affect various aspects of health, having a balanced and healthy endocrine system can lead to numerous perceived benefits. 

Women’s health and mood
Maca relieves menstrual issues and menopause. It alleviates cramps, body pain, hot flashes, anxiety, mood swings, and depression. If you are pregnant or lactating you should avoid taking maca.

Inca warriors are said to have consumed Maca before battle to increase their prowess. 

Within days of using maca your energy level may increase. It is also known for increasing stamina. More recent studies have shown that Maca improves stamina in distance racing and helps to build muscle. Many athletes take maca for peak performance. If you find yourself tired most of the time, experiment with maca to see if it helps. Just a small amount could be exactly what you need for a boost!

General health
Maca helps your overall health in a number of ways. It supplies iron and helps restore red blood cells, which aids anemia and cardiovascular diseases. Maca keeps your bones and teeth healthy and allows you to heal from wounds more quickly. When used in conjunction with a good workout regime you will notice an increase in muscle mass.

But be very cautious if you have a cancer related to hormones like testicular and ovarian, among others. If you have liver issues or high blood pressure you should ask your doctor before taking maca.

Many people take maca for skin issues, as for some people it helps to clear acne and blemishes. Another benefit for your skin is that is decreases sensitivity. In hot or cold weather, maca may help your skin withstand extreme temperatures.

Mood balance
If you find yourself overcome with anxiety, stress, depression or mood swings, maca may help alleviate these symptoms. Taking it regularly, Maca works to elevate emotional mood. This is most likely a function of the dense nutrition within the root combined with it’s hormone balancing properties and unique nutrients called macamides. Recently, in two studies, Maca was shown to reduce the scores in self assessment depression and anxiety tests.

Focus and memory
Due to Maca’s energizing and uplifting effects, it also supports mental clarity as well as the ability to focus. 

Experimental studies have shown that the Black variety of Maca has beneficial effects on learning and memory in experimental animal models. Black Maca improved learning and memory more than the other colors of Maca. Maca is safe for both children and adults and is a great addition to any student’s diet.

Curves, buttocks and muscles
Although Maca has been used for over 2000 years stretching all the way back to Incan warriors who took it in training and preparation for battle, it only became known outside of Peru in the 1980s. Since then natural bodybuilders and athletes have used it in their training.

Taking a regular dose of Maca can enhance the butt as long as you combine it with appropriate exercise. Several bodybuilders say that Maca has indeed worked to help them create bigger muscles. Could it be that all of the gains are due to exercise and not Maca? It’s certainly possible, but Maca can absolutely help.

  • A daily serving of Maca contains 4 grams of bio available protein. This 100% natural vegetable protein is easy for the body to digest and assimilate and is one reason it is often found in natural bodybuilding supplements.
  • Maca is well known to be a natural “anabolic.” Anabolic foods contain compounds that are helpful in building muscle fiber. Of course, it only works if you actually exercise the muscles you want to build. If you do that, Maca supports their healthy growth.
  • Since the butt contains the largest muscles in the body (the gluteus maximus) it follows that using Maca combined with a consciously designed exercise program will help you achieve a “bigger buttocks.”
  • One of the many benefits of Maca is that it helps balance hormones. That means that it supports a healthy level of estrogen, which is clearly related to enhancing female curves.

Also read:

Monday, August 15, 2016

Does your skin age actually match your real age?

Apparently our skin can be a different age to our biological one. 

Many of us may fixate on the odd wrinkle or age spot, and we all know that certain things like smoking and excessive tanning can speed up the aging process. But do you actually know whether what you see on your face correlates to your actual age?

There’s a quick and simple test you can do to yourself to find out – and the results may give you a surprise.

To test your ‘skin age’ simply flip your hand over and then pinch a little bit of the skin using your thumb and forefinger.

Hold the skin for five seconds.

Once you let go, count how long it takes for your pinched skin to go back to its normal flat position.

The quicker your skin goes back to flat the younger your skin is, according to dermatologist Dr Alexis Abramson, who shared the skin age test with Metro.

If it takes between one and two seconds, your skin’s age is under 30, between three and four seconds means it’s aged between 30 and 44, five to nine seconds means it’s 45-50 and if it takes longer than ten seconds to go back to normal, you’re skin’s age is over 60.

If you're not happy with your results, there are a few ways to increase your skin elasticity. 

More than the beauty products you apply, your skin's general health is greatly influenced by what you feed it. The amount of water you drink and the types of food you consume every day can say a lot about you and your skin. 

So what should you be munching on for more youthful skin?

Pomegranate seeds contain ellagic acid and punicalagin, which has been shown to preserve collagen and protect against free radical damage. Pomegranates are also high in vitamin C, which helps with collagen production and the high levels of zinc they contain also assist with wound healing. 

Spinach contains beta-carotene and lutein which is good news for your skin as, according to research published in the Journal of Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, these two nutrients have been shown to improve skin elasticity.

Watermelon is rich in vitamin C to assist in collagen cross linking and wound healing. It’s also high in the carotenoid lycopene which helps to improve circulation which helps to keep your skin glowing and radiant. 

Also read:

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Longevity secrets from the Grand Masters of Chinese Medicine

Tietao Deng, 95 years old, tenured professor of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine.

1. Don’t compete for fame, and let nature take its course; 2. Adjust diet and lead a regular life. 3. Do regular exercise, do Eight Pieces of Brocade every morning.

He suggested,” I have a secret bath prescription. Alternate hot and cold bath and they are relatively cold and hot alternation, which will make the blood vessels contraction and relaxation just like massaging the vessels.”

Liangchun Zhu, 94 years old, a famous TCM doctor in Jiangsu Province, he is an expert of TCM for cancer treatment.

Since a long time ago Dr. Zhu eats a special kind of “Yang Sheng congee,” made by “green been 50g, pearl barley 50g, lotus seed 50g, lentils 50g, dates 30g, lycium barbarum (goji berries) 10g, astragalus membranaceus 250g (30g for regular persons daily). Wash the first 5 and put them into a boiling casserole and add the water from astragalus membranaceus. Cook on high flame until it boils then change to low flame for 40 min. Then add goji berries into it and continue for 10 more min.  Have 1/5 of the amount daily -dividing the dosage into taking half of it before breakfast and the other half after dinner.

Dexin Yan, 91 years old, the leader of Chinese Medicine in Shanghai, the master of balancing Qi and blood. 

Longevity and aging are closely related to qi and blood balance. Smooth qi and Blood circulate the whole body and adjust the functions of internal organs to promote longevity.

“The main supplements I have are some Chinese herbals for Spleen, adding qi and increasing Blood circulation including red flowers, walnuts and so on. I suggest taking these herbals with water and empty stomach only once every morning not twice per day.”

Guangxin Lu, 84 years old, Professor at Chinese Academy of Chinese Medicine, expert in TCM theory.

Dr. Lu advises chewing and swallowing slowly, it may take a while for him to eat just an egg.

Dr. Lu always says “Eating should be with an enjoyable attitude.”

He eats 2 eggs every day and he believes that eggs contain a lot of lecithin which helps fight against aging. Getting up early every day, he rubs his ears and belly to make meridian vessels and blood circulates well. In addition, a foot bath before going to bed will let you sleep better.

Zhizheng Lu, 91 years old, a famous TCM doctor in Beijing.

Dr. Lu eats ginger after getting up in the morning. He believes eating ginger with dates and brown sugar promotes health and wellbeing. However, he advises only to eat ginger in the morning but not at night.

Dr. Lu is in the habit of massaging and rubbing his face in the morning and having a foot bath before going to bed. The foot bath will pull the blood down and it is assists the brain in getting into sleep mode.

Zhongying Zhou, 84 years old, former president of Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine.

Dr. Zhou sees patients for 5 half-days every week. It is his greatest pleasure to see and help patients. His lifestyle and routine is very regular, and he never stays up late at night.

“Desire is the source of suffering; less desire leads to stronger mind.” People should live with low-desire, and with a lot of calmness and tolerance.

Youzhi Tang, 85 years old, worked for Chairman Mao as a TCM doctor. 

According to Dr. Tang, the secrets of longevity are: “A nurturing life needs a nurturing mind; an open mind leads to happiness. Keep a hospitable and peaceful mind. He sees patients in clinic twice a week and is willing to accept new things.

He enjoys thinking which keeps the brain working. In addition, he recommends making sure you have enough sleep, at least 7 hours a day, and take time for a lunch nap.

Zhenghua Li, 87 years old, the former president of Henan College of Chinese Medicine. 

Dr. Li practiced Chinese medicine for more than 60 years. He emphasizes nourishing the Stomach and Spleen, adjusting diet and never engaging in binge eating.

He recommends paying attention to exercise and taking a walk after a meal. He walks in the living room for 15 min in the winter when he can’t go outside.

He writes in calligraphy (handwriting with special pen) to nurture life and taking care of the temperament.

Qi Zhang, 90 years old, chief expert of Chinese medicine on kidney diseases.

Dr. Zhang longevity secrets are keeping your spiritual aspect pleasurable and free from worry and anxiety.

Ignore rumors and burdens that make you unhappy, instead just laugh at them.

Eating and diets should follow the natural way, neither eating too much nor eating to light. He prefers a balanced diet and does not agree with avoiding foods with cholesterol. He says it is undesirable to eat only vegetables and be on diets to lose weight.

Peiran Qiu, 97 years old, a tenured professor of Shanghai University of Chinese Medicine. He is a famous educator and doctor of TCM.

One of Master Qiu’s favorite students explaines his secret of longevity as following:

Eat less. It means on one hand eat a meal until you’re about 80% full; on the other hand, don’t wait until too hungry.

Act less. Dr. Qiu believes that cultivating Shen (Spirit) is the most important practice for longevity.

Control your desires and be indifferent to fame and wealth.

Do what you like. Dr. Qiu enjoys reading, writing poetry and making friends. It’s natural to find pleasure mentally and physically when indulging in the things that spark your interest. Similarly for Master Qiu, to see and help patients and treat difficult miscellaneous diseases can also bring him great pleasure.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Benefits of prickly pear oil

Prickly pears have an unique composition of nutrients, including high levels of vitamin C, B- family vitamins, magnesium, potassium, calcium, copper, and dietary fiber. In terms of organic compounds, prickly pears have high levels of flavonoids, polyphenols, and betalains, all of which have a positive impact on human health.

Some of the health benefits of prickly pear include its ability to lower cholesterol levels, improve the digestive process, decrease the risk of diabetes, boost the immune system, stimulate bone growth, strengthen blood vessels, prevent certain cancers, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, aid in weight loss attempts, and eliminate inflammation throughout the body.

Prickly pear oil benefits the skin with it’s exceptional hydrating, and anti-aging properties:

Prickly Pear contains the most Vitamin E of any beauty oil on the market (150% more than Argan oil), and the highest percentage of unsaturated fatty acids (88%) Omega 6 and 9 – making it an incredibly powerful oil for skin health.

It’s also rich in amino acids, which stimulate collagen production to promote faster cell turnover. And finally, it also contains vitamin k, which brightens under-eye dark circles and also promote your skin’s elasticity.

Prickly pear seed oil fatty acid composition: 

Oleic Acid           20.6%
Linoleic Acid      60.5%
Stearic Acid        3.2%
Palmitic Acid     13.9%
Tocopherol     895 mg/kg (almost 150% more than Argan oil)

Prickly pear oil benefits: 

It is quickly absorbed by the skin 
The essential fatty acids in Prickly Pear oil – namely it’s high (60 %) Linoleic Acid content make it absorb wonderfully into our skin. It penetrates deeply without leaving behind a greasy residue.

It restores elasticity and brightens the complexion 
High antioxidant activity stimulates cell renewal, leaving you with fresh, new skin. This oil reduces redness and hyper-pigmentation.

Nourishes, moisturizes and softens the skin
This oil intensely hydrates the skin, it is suitable for all skin types but works particularly well on dry, mature skin.

A high Linoleic acid content soothes even the most driest skin. It is deeply penetrating – you will not find another oil that leaves your skin softer.

Tightens pores
Essential fatty acids in Prickly Pear oil keep the collagen layer of your skin moist and healthy, this keeps your pores tight.

Brightens dark spots
This oil is unparalleled in its ability to brighten the skin and get rid of dark spots. Vitamin K helps lighten dark under-eye circles and minimize spider veins.

Slows skin aging
Contains the highest levels of Betelains of any known plant (more than Acai, Pomegranate, Blueberries, Gogi and Beets). Betelains are super antioxidants with powerful anti-aging effects.

Prevents wrinkles 
Prickly Pear oil has an immense Vitamin E content, 895mg/kg (150% more than Argan oil). Vitamin E is a free radical scavenger and increases cell renewal. The high fatty acid content plumps the skin, reducing wrinkles and adding firmness, as well as intercepting free radical damage.

It will not clog your pores 
Having a high (60%) Linoleic Acid content and a low (20%) Oliec Acid content makes this oil absolutely non-comedogenic meaning it will not clog your pores and lead to breakouts.

Great for sensitive skin
This oil is non-irritating, deeply nourishing and soothing. It calms inflammation and hydrates the skin.

Great also for hair 
Prickly pear seed oil deeply moisturises and conditions dull, dry or lacklustre hair. Regular use of our pure oil will bring back the shine, strenth and manageability to you hair. Simply apply a few drops every night and leave in for about 10 to 15 minutes before washing out.

And nails
Regularly massaging nails with this oil strengthens them, making them less brittle and prone to breaking.

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Monday, August 8, 2016

10 Reasons why Yoga is not for you

Yoga has a dark side. There are some legitimate reasons why someone may want to consider avoiding starting or maintaining a practice. In order to save you from any pain or suffering, here is the list of reasons why you should skip practice.

1. It will ruin your food cravings

When you have a regular asana practice, you are going to notice the effects that the foods you eat have on your body on a whole new level.  If you are a foodie, and love biting into that load of cheesy pizza and other stomach inducing foods that ultimately give you stomach aches, you might as well stay clear of the yoga mat.

2. Your late nights won't seem as fun as it was

Starting off your morning on a yoga mat after a late night is not appealing. You might actually love the idea of early to bed and early to rise and make this a habit you don’t fancy compromising on.

3. Love drama? skip Yoga

If you are someone who loves that element of drama- both in you life and in other people’s life, you might find that yoga makes you a different person altogether; so much that you actually start looking for peace everywhere.

4. Taking up responsibility

The mat is generally a mirror for people, and this means you are going to notice all the places you are blaming other people for the things that are going on in your life – and you may discover that it is not really their fault at all.

You may even come to the conclusion that you have the power to stand up and make the changes in your life that will make you happier. If you really like blaming others, yoga may not be that great for you.

5. It takes away the fun out of judging people

Again, where pointing out the faults of others used to be kinda fun, now it just feels mean. You are most likely going to want to spend more of your time talking about all the amazing things the people in your life are doing – which may be a bummer for some of your friends out who still enjoy a gossip fest.

6. It may make you cry in public

If you are not comfortable breaking down in front of other people, you should steer away from yoga.

7. It ruins your wardrobe

There is a chance that all those fancy dresses and suits might be replaced by yoga pants!

8. It makes you more aware of yourself

Getting in touch with your body means you will get more in touch with your mind, which inevitably is going to lead to your emotions. If you are someone who wants to run from how you feel, you should most likely run from yoga.

9. Softens you inside out

Yoga makes you softer, both on the outside and the inside. If you’re a person who is shielding yourself constantly because you’re very sensitive, then think again about doing yoga.

10. Will destroy self-destructive behavior

And yes, this includes even the fun, self-destructive things. You are going to connect in with yourself, and start to notice how all your habits are affecting you. This may just ruin all your desires to drink, smoke, swear, stay up late, eat fast food and drive really fast. If you love your life the way it is now, then don’t take up yoga.

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Is young blood the secret to eternal youth?

The blood of young people may hold compounds that benefit the brains of older people with Alzheimer's disease, so scientists are now looking at whether transfusions may help people with the condition.

Research in animals has shown that the blood of the young may counter some of the effects of aging in older brains. For instance, it might help to improve learning and memory, as well as generate new brain cells. Now, the scientists want to see if the benefits hold true in people.

"The possibility that one or many proteins in young human blood can rejuvenate a diversity of organs [including the brain] is a tantalizing one that should spur further research," Tony Wyss-Coray, a professor of neurology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and colleagues wrote in the Aug. 3 issue of the journal JAMA Neurology.

In experiments, researchers connected the blood vessels of young and old mice, so that two animals shared a blood supply. They found that, following an injury, the older mice saw greater improvements in the repair of muscle and bone compared with older mice not connected to younger mice.

Later experiments showed that older mice that were exposed to young blood saw an increase in the number of new brain cells in a part of the brain linked with memory.

In addition, a 2014 study found that injecting blood plasma from young mice into older mice for three weeks improved their learning and memory. (Plasma is the liquid portion of blood — it is devoid of blood cells, but contains proteins and other molecules.) In the experiments, the older mice that were given young blood were more easily able to find a hidden platform in a water maze, compared with mice given older blood.

Researchers speculated that "messengers" in the blood, such as hormones and growth factors, may be responsible for some of the rejuvenating effects seen in these mouse studies. 

Young blood contains more of the compounds that are involved in the repair and maintenance of tissues than older blood does, Wyss-Coray said.

"We think when we treat an old organism … with young blood, we give it a boost of these young messengers, and that this recharges the old brain, and possibly other organs, and makes them function like younger ones again," Wyss-Coray said in a talk at the World Economic Forum.

In fact, a protein called CCL11, which is more common in older mice, has been shown to impair memory and brain cell generation when it is given to younger mice. In contrast, a growth factor called GDF11 increases brain cell generation in older mice.

Researchers still have a lot to learn about the effects of young blood, and it's not clear if humans will benefit at all from the treatment.

Still, "with no current treatment for debilitating diseases like Alzheimer disease, and given the relative safety of blood plasma products, an appealing approach may be to supply older patients with young plasma to repair damage wrought by the disease," the researchers wrote in their article.

A study testing blood plasma transfusions in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease began last year. The participants are receiving transfusions from young blood donors once a week, and will be examined for improvements on several cognitive tests.

Dr. Marc L. Gordon, chief of neurology at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Queens, New York, said the new article "raises some intriguing questions" but that these ideas "need a lot more research to see if they would bear fruit."

First, researchers don't know if the findings in mice will translate to people, Gordon said. And even if factors in blood can help generate new neurons in older brains, this may not have an effect on a person's thinking ability, Gordon added.

There is also a concern that factors that promote cell growth and differentiation could lead to cancer in people, Gordon said, so it will be important to test the safety of the treatment.

Wyss-Coray co-founded a biotechnology company called Alkahest Inc. to conduct trials of young blood on Alzheimer's patients.


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