Monday, October 31, 2016

9 Proven Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea

The tea comes from the shrub Aspalathus Linearis, which is only found on the slopes of Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. Locals have been drinking this tea for hundreds of years, and it’s quite popular in Japan, Germany, Holland and England. 

It has a mild and aromatic taste; however, most drink it for its plethora of health benefits. According to WebMD, the tea has 50 times more antioxidants than green tea. These antioxidants are known to thwart free radicals in the body that can damage cells and cause cancer. It’s also rich in Vitamin C, low in tannins and may ease digestive problems. Other studies have shown the tea may help strengthen the bones and teeth preventing osteoporosis, fractures and other related illnesses. Many women in Japan drink this tea for its positive effect on the skin and hair. It has been known to clear skin of acne and prevent wrinkles. Because it’s caffeine free, it may be drunk without limit and won’t affect sleep cycles or cause insomnia as with some other popular teas. Finally, locals have even used it as a substitute for milk in colicky babies.

Give the Body a Boost
Anyone who has ever suffered from asthma, skin issues, eczema, insomnia, bone weakness or hypertension may want to consider drinking rooibos tea. The United States Department of Agriculture has confirmed many of the health benefits of drinking rooibos tea including its ability to reduce the risk of various types of cancer, heart disease and premature aging. It’s also a great tea to drink when suffering from stomach cramps or other digestive problems. Furthermore, the tea is rich in minerals that may help boost the immune system and keep the body healthy. It contains calcium, iron, potassium, copper, fluoride, manganese, magnesium, zinc and alpha hydroxy acid.

These compounds also encourage healthy skin and hair, which is one of the many reasons its such a popular choice in Japan. According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the tea has been shown to display the same activity as xanthine oxidase. This compound has been shown to reduce uric acid production in the body and is typically used to treat the symptoms of gout. Furthermore, the flavonoids found in rooibos tea are famous for their cancer fighting and preventing qualities according to Better Nutrition. Finally, the tea is currently being studied for its possible HIV/AIDS fighting properties according to one study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry. Read on to find out the top ten reasons for drinking rooibos tea.

Roobios tea is rich in polyphenols including aspalathin and nothofagin, which are two polyphenol antioxidants. These antioxidants help protect the body by fighting free radicals or unstable cells that attack healthy cells to stabilize themselves. The polyphenols in rooibos tea have anti-inflammatory properties, which assists in preventing heart related illnesses. Finally, the antiviral properties of polyphenols provide an added boost to the immune system, which helps protect the body from common colds, viruses and the flu.

Relieves Hypertension
Rooibos tea is a natural remedy to help relieve and prevent hypertension. It works by lowering the blood pressure. Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, occurs when too much blood is forced against the artery walls within the body. This may lead to health issues including heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about one-third of Americans suffer from hypertension. As a result, many people may benefit from drinking rooibos tea to assist with their hypertension.

Aids the Respiratory System
Rooibos tea is a bronchodilator. A bronchodilator is a substance that dilates the bronchi and bronchioles, and in doing so, it increases airflow to the lungs making breathing easier. With the decrease of resistance in the respiratory airway, drinkers of rooibos tea will get the added boost of preventing common cardiovascular diseases including atheroschelorsis and heart attacks. It may also help combat the symptoms of asthma.

Good for the Bones and Teeth
Rooibos tea is rich in several minerals including manganese, calcium and fluoride. These minerals promote healthy bones and teeth. As a result, drinking rooibos tea may help prevent common health conditions including joint pain, osteoporosis and arthritis. Manganese works by stimulating enzymes in the body used to help build more bone mass and repair damage. Fluoride is important when maintaining healthy teeth and is even found in most toothpastes and mouthwashes. Finally, calcium is important for healthy, strong bones and teeth.

Boosts the Digestive Tract
Rooibos tea is also rich in antispasmodic agents that activate potassium ions in the body. These agents help ease stomach cramps, abdominal pain and aid digestion. The tea may also be used as a natural remedy to irritable bowel syndrome. The antispasmodic agents help the digestive tract by smoothing out muscles in the gut. To get the most out of this effect, sufferers should drink a cup of this tea about 30 minutes prior to a meal they believe may trigger digestive problems.

Improves the Skin
The tea is also rich in alpha hydroxy acid and zinc. Both of these nutrients are great for the skin and may help alleviate several skin problems including acne, pimples, sunburns and uneven skin. Alpha-hydroxy acids are also found in many upscale cosmetic products because it helps reduce the signs of aging including wrinkles. It’s a common ingredient in chemical peels because it can revitalize the skin and leave an illuminating glow. Because healthy skin starts from within, the tea is a great way to improve the skin in a natural way. Zinc is also important and necessary for clear skin. The nutrient assists with building the structure of cell membranes, healing wounds, protects against UV rays and has anti-inflammatory properties. Scientific studies have shown that the consumption of zinc may reduce acne.

Helps Prevent Type II Diabetes
Rooibos tea contains aspalathin, which has a hypoglycemic effect on the body. Aspalathin is a rare type of antioxidant that helps balance blood sugar and improves insulin resistance in the body. It may also promote glucose absorption in the muscles. These effects may help prevent drinkers from developing type II Diabetes. This is because the nutrient prevents the spikes in blood sugar that may cause type II Diabetes. Those with a family history of diabetes may especially benefit from drinking this type of tea.

Promotes Healthy Hair
Rooibos tea is rich in several important minerals required for hair growth. This includes zin, calcium, copper and potassium. Regularly consuming rooibos tea may help increase hair growth and strengthen hair fibers, so hair grows healthy and strong. The tea may also help prevent hair loss, as its active ingredients help remove dead skin cells that may block hair follicles and prevent hair from growing. Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory effects of the tea may help relieve the symptoms of dandruff by soothing the scalp. The tea is rich in polyphenols, and these ingredients promote shiny, soft hair and protect against sun damage.

Improves Blood Circulation
Many Americans suffer from poor blood circulation, which may lead to serious health issues including a heart attack. Roobios tea contains chrysoeriols, which is a flavonoid with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This compound aids blood circulation and has been linked to reducing cholesterol. It does this by preventing the activity of certain enzymes that are known to trigger cardiovascular diseases.

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Why you might be 20 years older than your actual age

It is said that time waits for no man, but biologically speaking some people are barely aging at all while others are speeding through their lives at the rate of three years every 12 months, scientists have found.

For the first time researchers have developed a test which reveals not only biological age but how fast people are growing old.

And the results are startling. In a group of 38-year-olds, the scientists discovered that some had the same physiology as a 30-year-old while others were closer to 60.

The researchers from a range of institutions including Kings College London and Duke University in the US, believe it could explain why some people look far older than their years, while others appear to hardly age from year to year.

“We are now at a point where we can quantify biological aging in young people, “ said Dr Andrea Danese, Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychobiology and Psychiatry at Kings College London.

“And for the first time we can see how fast they are aging. The people who had the oldest biological age were growing old the fastest.

“If we know that we can think about changing diets or making lifestyle changes when it is early enough to do something about it.

“With these tests we could detect premature aging before young people being to develop heart disease, diabetes or dementia so we could treat them.”

To discover what biological markers in the body could show the rate of growing old, the scientists have been following more than 1,000 people who were born in 1972-73.

Just as hair goes grey and wrinkles appear, all parts of the body slowly deteriorate with age, and that can be measured to work out a person’s true biological age. Someone who has never smoked, exercised regularly and eaten a healthy diet may have protected themselves against much of the ravages of time, whereas a person who lives an unhealthy lifestyle will speed up the process.

The researchers looked at 18 indicators of health including kidney and liver function, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and the length of telomeres – the protective caps at the end of chromosomes which prevent DNA damage.

They carried out the tests when participants were aged 26, 32 and 38 to see how they were changing over time. Although most people were around their real age, and were aging at a rate of 12 months in one year, some were aging as fast as three years per chronological year while others were not aging at all.

Photographs of the volunteers were also handed out to students at Duke University who were asked to assess their age. Those who were biologically older invariably appeared older to the students.

The scientists claim that most of the difference in aging rates are down to environmental factors rather than genes, and so could be altered. It is though that just 20% of differences in aging is genetic.

“There is a great deal of environmental influence,” said lead author Dan Belsky, assistant professor of geriatrics at Duke University’s Centre for Aging.

“As we get older our risk grows for all kinds of different diseases. To prevent multiple diseases simultaneously ageing itself has to be the target. Otherwise it’s a game of whack-a-mole.”

The researchers are hopeful that in future doctors would be able to test people when they are in their 30s to determine how fast they are aging so that they could offer health advice or medication.

Professor Terrie Moffitt, of Duke University added: “It is indeed likely that individual patients will be able to get a number for their own biological age, by asking their family doctor. Most of the 18 biomarkers we used in our research are used routinely in clinical practice already, nothing mysterious.

People can already go to the internet to calculate their “heart age”, entering their blood pressure, height, weight, and whether or not they smoke, and so forth. But our measure of the pace of aging is a bit different, as it is based on aspects of organ function that are “hidden” inside young people who still feel and look healthy; it does not rely on observable behaviours such as smoking.

One goal we need to meet next is to determine which are the fewest biomarkers needed to accurately estimate a person’s biological age."

The research was published in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Broccoli could reverse the signs of aging

Physical signs of aging could be slowed down by a compound found in broccoli, cabbage and avocado, scientists claim.

It slowed down the deterioration of liver and eye function, bone density and the metabolism, a new study found.

While it was found to prevent laboratory mice from gaining weight as they aged - despite consuming more food. 

Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) compensated for the loss of energy production, which experts believe is a key driver of the body's ageing process.

Researchers tested the compound on older mice to see if it helped to slow their physical aging signs.

They were also keen to find out if it could alter their metabolism to one expected in younger animals.

Study author Professor Dr Shin-ichiro Imai, from Washington University, St Louis, said: 'We have shown a way to slow the physiologic decline that we see in aging mice.

'This means older mice have metabolism and energy levels resembling that of younger mice.

'Since human cells rely on this same energy production process, we are hopeful this will translate into a method to help people remain healthier as they age.'

With age, the body is known to lose its ability to make a key element required for producing energy - known as nicotinamide adenine dinulceotide (NAD).

Previous research has shown NAD levels decrease as mice age and it is not effective when given directly to mice. To boost levels, the researchers had to go one step backwards in the supply chain to find NMN. 

When dissolved in drinking water and given to mice, the compound appears in the bloodstream in less than three minutes. This is quickly converted to NAD in multiple tissues, scientists found. But researchers warned the compound was only beneficial to older mice and it showed no promise to younger animals.

Co-author Dr Jun Yoshino said: 'When we give NMN to the young mice, they do not become healthier young mice

'NMN supplementation has no effect in the young mice because they are still making plenty of their own NMN.

'We suspect that the increase in inflammation that happens with ageing reduces the body’s ability to make NMN and, by extension, NAD.'

The study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism. 

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ovary transplants could make women live longer and look younger

Secret to 'eternal youth' is an OVARY transplant: Swapping older organs for young ones can slow the aging process.

Researchers say swapping older ovaries for young ones in mice can cut the risk of age-related health problems, including heart disease, arthritis, immune, brain and liver function, as well as increasing longevity.

The discovery holds out the possibility of not only a longer life but old age free of the infirmities that afflict post-menopausal women.

Lead researcher Professor Jeffrey Mason, of Utah State University, said: "It is amazing and very exciting. In our study mice didn't look old when they were old."

Ovaries produce and release eggs into the female reproductive tract at the mid-point of each menstrual cycle and also produce the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone.

Professor Mason believes it might one day be possible to take a small clump of cells from a woman before the menopause and grow new ovaries.

He said: "I certainly believe that if the cells were taken from a woman in her twenties you could grow a new set of ovaries that could later replace her existing ovaries.

"Our goal is to make people healthy through their lifespan and have people playing soccer with their great grandchildren.

"I think this research is moving so fast it is a real possibility and I cannot see any major roadblocks."

Professor Mason, whose work was presented to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Utah, removed the ovaries of 10 mice that were 12 months old and had gone through oestropause, a transition similar to the human menopause.

He replaced these with ovaries taken from 60-day old mice - roughly equivalent to people in their early twenties in comparable ageing.

Four months later, he tested the immune systems and metabolisms of the 10 mice and found their systems were similar to those of younger mice.

He and his team also discovered mice transplanted with young ovaries in middle age live about 40 per cent longer than their peers, and have healthier looking hearts.

When the hormone producing cells were removed from the young ovaries before transplantation into older mice, the same benefits were seen.

He thinks other cells inside the ovary might be responsible for the rejuvenation.

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Is young blood the secret to eternal youth?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Have scientists actually found way to turn off aging?

Scientists have discovered a key cellular protein that controls the aging process – a breakthrough that could lead to advances that slow down or even stop the aging process.

Researchers believe that the discovery of a protein called carbonic anhydrase could be the first step in developing medicines that slow the progression of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

University of Nottingham scientists found larger amounts of the protein in the brain and muscle cells of older mice than in younger mice. However, young mice with prior mental degeneration also had higher amounts of the protein within their cells’ mitochondria, known as the powerhouse responsible for converting oxygen into energy.

To determine if the protein was detrimental, rather than a byproduct of the body’s efforts to protect itself against degeneration, researchers tested its effects on one millimeter long nematode worms.

Feeding the worms carbonic acid was found to reduce their lifespan.

Lead researcher Lisa Chakrabarti of the University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science said, “What’s really exciting about this development is that we have been able to surmise that the function of this protein is playing a role in the ageing process within the cell.”

“This gives us a very promising start in working out how we can best target this protein within the mitochondria to slow the effects of aging in the body while limiting other unwanted side effects on the body.

“It could potentially offer a significant new avenue in both tackling degenerative illnesses and the general effects of aging on the body,” she explained.

The study, which is the result of a three year project, was published in the academic journal, Aging.

Researchers are now trying to identify chemical compounds known as inhibitors that might successfully reduce the levels of carbonic anhydrase.


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Friday, October 21, 2016

5 Plants for your bedroom that will cure insomnia

We could all use a little more sleep during the week. In fact, over 40 million Americans admit to having a sleeping problem such as insomnia, sleep apnea and night terrors. 

But now there's a simple step you can take to help your body get the best rest possible!

All you need to do to help you mind rest at ease and your body relax completely is to store one (or all) of these five different type of plants in your bedroom!


For centuries, lavender has been known to help reduce anxiety and stress, as well as slow your heart rate. This calming property is what draws people to use lavender essential oils for a great bedtime routine. But having the plant in your room will keep you calm all night long!

Aloe Vera

Studies have shown that aloe plants release a ton of oxygen at night. This pop of oxygen in the air can help fight insomnia and will help your body stay peaceful as you dream.

Snake Plant

Just like aloe, the snake plant also releases more oxygen at night than during the day! This improves your room's air quality and can make breathing easier on your body.

English Ivy

Ivy is one of the best (and easiest to grow) plants for bettering the quality of the air. The ivy soaks up toxins in the air and emits healthy, helpful oxygen! In fact, English Ivy can reduce airborne mold by up to 94% - you'll breathe easy with this plant in your room.

White Jasmine 

Not only does jasmine smell great in your room, but its powerful scent has several natural healing properties. Jasmine has been used for thousands of years to help with sleep and reduce your anxiety!

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

The health dangers of artificial nails

If you don’t have the patience to grow out your nails naturally, artificial nails will give you long, well-proportioned nails quickly. But could these beautiful nails come at a price to your health? – the side effects can be scary.

As we can see by the success of the artificial nail industry, women are not only willing to shell out big money for gel and acrylic nails, they're also sometimes willing to compromise their health.

As with most things cosmetic, the side effects of artificial nails are something you may want to consider seriously before engaging your manicurist in the art and science of these two severely synthetic nail treatments.

What's the big deal?

Like our skin, nails are porous, absorbing chemicals and compounds right into them. Each time acrylic nails are applied, women are exposed to the chemicals put directly on the nail beds and skin. Acrylic nails contain harmful chemicals that enter your blood stream every time you have your nails done. These chemicals, such as formaldehyde and the resin used to apply acrylic nails, have been linked to cancer. Women who apply acrylic nails on a regular basis can be at risk of significant exposure to these dangerous chemicals. 

Also, an artificial and natural nail has a much stronger bond than the one between a real nail and nail bed. If the nail rips from the nail bed, that gap, or space, provides a rich, moist, warm environment for bacteria and fungi (e.g., an infection) to grow. Prolonged time on the nail allows infections to worsen. With acrylics, the opposite – drying out of natural oils – can occur, which can cause damage and splitting. Rigidly adhered acrylics may also lead to serious nail breaks, infection and loss of the natural nail.

Allergic reactions have also been reported with acrylic nails, resulting in serious inflammation and thinning of the beds. The healing time, resulting in pain and sensitivity, can last more than a year.

Food for thought: Some hospitals don't allow employees to wear artificial nails due to the risk of infection to patients. What's even more eye-opening? Several deaths of premature infants in the late '90s were blamed on an acrylic nail infection transmitted by a nurse!

Also beware, some disreputable nail salons are using a poisonous and illegal substance called MMA in their nail adhesives. MMA (Methyl Methacrylate) can cause serious damage to the lungs as well as permanent damage to your natural nails.

MMA is an ingredient sometimes found in liquid monomers used to make artificial nail enhancements. MMA is considered a safe ingredient for dental prostheses but a health hazard in the salon.

Clients must be warned of the risks associated with MMA including severe allergic reactions, permanent loss of sensation in the fingertips, nail damage, deformities and respiratory problems with eye, nose and throat irritation.

The FDA classifies MMA as "a poisonous and deleterious substance" and has deemed it unsuitable for salon use. Even with this knowledge, some salons still use liquid monomers containing MMA.

Dermatologists at the University of Texas are calling for further investigations into the safety of UV nail lamps. The UV nail lamp is most commonly used to cure gel nails but is also used to cure acrylic nails and dry traditional nail polish.

A 48-year-old woman in good health needed repeated surgery to remove several cancers from her right hand after having UV light treatment at nail salons eight times in one year. A second woman, aged 55, also developed a tumour on her right hand after using UV lamps twice a month for 15 years.

In both cases, the tumour involved was a squamous cell carcinoma, a less harmful strain than deadly malignant melanoma. Although they can be removed with surgery, in around four per cent of cases the cancer spreads to other parts of the body.

In a report on the two cases, Dr Deborah MacFarlane from the University of Texas Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, said: 'Exposure to UV light is a major risk factor for the development of skin cancer.' 

'We know that overexposure to artificial sources of UV radiation, such as sunbeds, can increase the risk of skin cancer - so there is no reason to believe that nail lights won't pose a similar risk.'

I'm sticking with natural!

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

This natural nail soak will make your nails grow like crazy

Do you want your nails to grow faster naturally? Well there is an all natural nail soak that is supposed to make your nails grow like crazy. Ela Gale posted a video to her Youtube channel showing you exactly how to make this nail soak.

All you need is an orange, crushed garlic and olive oil. 

Ela used the nail soak on one hand twice a week for two weeks, and she shows viewers the difference. Her nails have grown so much on the hand where she used the nail soak. She says that if you do the nail soak for even a week, you should see results.

What you need to do is squeeze the juice from the orange, mix in a clove of crushed garlic, and let your nails sit in the mixture for ten minutes.

Then you let your nails dry for about fifteen minutes, and soak your nails in ¼ cup of olive oil for another five minutes.

If you do this nail rinse twice a week, you should notice that your nails are longer and stronger. The amazing results are due to the vitamin-packed recipe that are enriching your nails.

Ela says ‘the thing that I really love about this is that I have began to realize how much softer it makes your skin as well.’

This is definitely worth a try if you want longer, stronger nails. The best part is you probably already have these ingredients in your pantry.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Why GARDENING is the best fitness for elderly women

Gardening is the best form of exercise for elderly women, a new study claims. Just two sessions a week drives weight loss, improves stamina, and reduces depression.

Most pensioners spend 80% of their day sat down. But new research shows just two 50-minute sessions of potting plants and watering flowers dramatically improves endurance, dexterity, and brain function.

After just seven weeks, all of the participants in the study by the American Society for Horticultural Science had lost weight around their middle.  

Over that same period, elderly women who did not garden regularly experienced significant declines in their mental and physical health. 

To investigate benefits of engaging in gardening, the researchers studied 24 elderly women at an old people's home who participated in the 15-session gardening intervention.

An additional 26 elderly women at another senior community center (the control group) did not participate in any gardening during the study. 

Health assessments were done for both groups before and after the gardening intervention, which involved twice-weekly sessions for an average duration of 50 minutes per session.

Intervention participants did gardening tasks such as garden design and planning, making furrows in the plots, making name tags for garden plots, planting transplants, garden maintenance (e.g., fertilizing, weeding, watering, harvesting), and other activities such as flower arrangement and garden parties.

Activities were selected for the study to represent low- to moderate-intensity physical activities that would yield similar health improvements or maintenance.

Following the 15-week program, women in the gardening intervention group exhibited a significant decrease in waist circumference, while the waist circumference of women in the control group showed a tendency to slightly increase. 

Women in the gardening intervention group maintained their lean mass, but women in control group lost lean mass over the period.

Women's aerobic endurance was also affected; the intervention group showed increased scores in an aerobic endurance test; the control group showed no improvement in a step test for aerobic endurance. Women in the intervention group also demonstrated improvements in hand dexterity.

The women in the gardening intervention experienced benefits to cognitive and psychological functions as well. 

Assessments revealed that women in the intervention group showed 'significant improvement' in cognitive function. 

Interestingly, women in the control group exhibited a 'significant increase' in scores for depression, with symptoms progressing from normal before the intervention period to moderate depression symptom at the end of the study. 

'Meanwhile, the depression scores of elderly women in the gardening intervention group did not change during this period,' the authors said.

The researchers said their results demonstrate that the gardening intervention improved the physical and psychological health conditions of the elderly women who participated. 

'Moreover, satisfaction with the gardening intervention as a leisure time physical activity for health conditions of elderly women was very high,' they said.

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Want to live longer? Get a dog! Bonding with a canine makes people happier and healthier

If the thought of unconditional love, hours of happy companionship and unwavering loyalty was not enough to persuade you to get a pet dog, this research might swing it.

A new study shows that having a dog makes people healthier and ultimately live longer. 

A group in the US has found older people who look after dogs benefit from the exercise of regular walks, giving them a lower body mass index (BMI) and making them visit their doctor less.

'Our study explored the associations between dog ownership and pet bonding with walking behavior and health outcomes in older adults,' said Rebecca Johnson, a professor at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine.

The researchers, at the University of Missouri, looked at data from the 12th wave (2012) of the Health and Retirement Study, a panel study that surveys a representative sample of approximately 20,000 people in America over the age of 50 every two years.

The study used data about human-animal interactions, physical activity, frequency of doctor visits and health outcomes of the participants. 

'Our results showed that dog ownership and walking were related to increases in physical health among older adults,' said Professor Johnson.

'These results can provide the basis for medical professionals to recommend pet ownership for older adults and can be translated into reduced health care expenditures for the aging population.' 

Dog walking was found to be linked with lower BMI, fewer doctor visits, more frequent exercise and an increase in social benefits.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults of all ages should engage in 150 or more minutes of moderate physical activity per week. 

Among adults 60 years of age or more, walking is the most common form of leisure-time physical activity because it is self-paced, low impact and does not require equipment. 

The study also determined older adults who also are pet owners benefit from the bonds they form with their canine companions.

Retirement communities should also be encouraged to incorporate more pet-friendly policies including dog walking trails and dog exercise areas so that their residents could have access to the health benefits, Professor Johnson said.

Having access to a garden, living near a park or within reach of the countryside also helps people live longer, according to another study conducted by Harvard University.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

You can control your DNA with mindfulness meditation

A study published in Cancer suggests that our minds have a great influence on our bodies — more specifically on our DNA. Lead investigator Dr. Linda E. Carlson and her colleagues found that support group involvement and mindfulness meditation are associated with preserved telomere length in breast cancer patients.

Telomeres are the protective structures at the end of chromosomes. While their disease-controlling properties are not fully understood, we know that shortened telomeres are associated with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high stress levels, and cell-aging, whereas longer telomeres are thought to prevent disease. In other words, we want our telomeres to maintain their length and strength. Deterioration is not ideal.

Apparently, meditation and support groups work against that deterioration.

"We already know that psychosocial interventions like mindfulness meditation will help you feel better mentally, but now for the first time we have evidence that they can also influence key aspects of your biology," said Carlson, in a press release.

For the study, 88 emotionally-distressed breast cancer survivors were divided into three groups. The first group was randomly assigned to an 8-week, Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery group; the second to a 12-week Supportive Expressive Therapy group in which they were encouraged to share their feelings; and the third was a control group in which they only received a 6-hour stress management course. The researchers analyzed the women's blood for telomere length before and after the sessions had been completed.

They found that telomere length was maintained in both treatment groups but shortened in the control group. However, they don't know how lasting the effects are. Carlson said that there is a need for further research is to see if the psychosocial interventions have a positive impact beyond the three-month study period.

"The meaning of the maintenance of telomere length in this study is unknown. However, I think that processing difficult emotions is important for both emotional and physical health, and this can be done both through group support with emotional expression, and through mindfulness meditation practice," Carlson told Scientific American.

One of the study's participants, Allison McPherson, who underwent a full year of chemotherapy and numerous surgeries, agrees with Carlson. She was placed in the mindfulness group. "I was skeptical at first and thought it was a bunch of hocus-pocus," she said, "But I now practice mindfulness throughout the day, and it's reminded me to become less reactive and kinder toward myself and others."

The therapeutic possibilities of the mind-body connection are now common knowledge. People use meditation to treat pain, sleep problems, and headaches, among countless other conditions. This study is groundbreaking because it brings our DNA into the picture. It supports the idea that while we can't control the genes we inherit, we can protect them — and possibly extend our lives — by altering our lifestyles.


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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Are pomegranates a fountain of youth?

The humble pomegranate may old the secret to a long and healthy life. Scientists say the Middle Eastern fruit contains a ‘miracle’ ingredient that strengthens aging muscles and extends life.

With experiments in worms and mice producing results that ‘are nothing sort of amazing’, they are now testing the fountain of youth supplement on people.

Even something as simple as keeping muscles young could reduce the number of falls among the elderly and increase independence, allowing people to live in their own homes for longer.

The Swiss scientists said: ‘We believe this research is a milestone in anti-ageing efforts.’

Their excitement centres on the pomegranate’s ability to keep mitochondria, the tiny 'battery packs' that power our cells, charged up.

Normally, mitochondria run down with age, making them less effective or even toxic and, it is thought, leading to muscle weakening and frailty. However, chemicals in pomegranates are turned into a compound called urolithin A by the bugs that live in the gut. The urolithin A then helps the body recycle these drained battery packs, recharging cells and holding aging at bay.

In one experiment, worms given urolithin A lived almost 50% longer. In another, elderly mice were able to run 42% further after just six weeks of treatment. Trials in people are underway and, given that the supplement works in species as diverse as worms and mice, the researchers are very hopeful they will be a success.

Pomegranates are already credited with a host of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and strengthening bones and its juice is a popular breakfast drink.

One of the world's oldest fruits, the pomegranate has been a symbol of fertility, death and eternity. Some believe the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was a pomegranate rather than an apple.

But, before you rush out and stock up on the cartons of juice or bags of pomegranates, you should be aware that they will not necessarily hold back the hands of time. This is because the amount of urolithin A made after eating a pomegranate varies widely, depending on which bugs someone has in their gut. And some of us just don’t make any at all.

With this in mind, the researchers, from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have founded a company that makes urolithin A capsules.

Human trials are underway, with 30 people taking one a day with breakfast.

If successful, the capsules could be marketed as a supplement to keep muscles strong in those aged 50-plus.

Researcher Patrick Aebischer said: ‘It's a completely natural substance, and its effect is powerful and measurable.’

Co-author Johan Auwerz said: ‘The nutritional approach opens up territory that traditional pharma has never explored.

‘It’s a true shift in the scientific paradigm.’

Those who are willing to take a gamble, but don’t like pomegranates, should know that walnuts, raspberries and blackberries all contain the miracle ingredient, just in lower amounts. 

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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Is artificial lighting making us sick?

You may eat healthily and exercise regularly, but you should add turning out the lights to your list of healthy habits, according to a new study.

Research has shown that being exposed to constant levels of light by having lamps on at night, can have some negative negative health effects.

Based on an experiment in which mice were kept under conditions of constant light for months, it warns constant exposure to light can lead to frailty.

'Our study shows that the environmental light-dark cycle is important for health,' said Johanna Meijer of Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands.

'We showed that the absence of environmental rhythms leads to severe disruption of a wide variety of health parameters.'

Those factors included the inflammatory response by the immune system, muscle loss, and early signs of osteoporosis. The researchers said the physiological changes they observed were all indicative of 'frailty' as is typically seen in people or animals as they age.

However, the study, published in the journal Current Biology includes some encouraging news.

Dr Meijer said: 'The good news is that we subsequently showed that these negative effects on health are reversible when the environmental light-dark cycle is restored.'

To investigate the relationship between a loss of the light-dark cycle and disease, Dr Meijer her and colleagues exposed mice to light around the clock for 24 weeks and measured several major signs of health. Readings showing the animals' brain activity revealed constant light exposure reduced the normal rhythmic patterns in the brain's central circadian pacemaker - the suprachiasmatic nuclei - by 70%. The disruption to normal light and dark patterns and the circadian rhythm also led to a reduction in the animals' skeletal muscle function when the researchers measured their strength.

Worryingly, their bones showed signs of deterioration, and the animals entered a pro-inflammatory state normally observed only in the presence of pathogens or other harmful triggers of disease. But after the mice were returned to a standard light-dark cycle for two weeks, the brain cells rapidly recovered their normal rhythm, and the animals' health problems were reversed.

The findings suggest more care should be taken in considering the amount of light exposure people get, particularly those who are ageing or vulnerable.

It's estimated 75% of the world's population is exposed to light during the night and 24-hour lighting is common in nursing homes and intensive care units, with patients, doctors and nurses exposed to it around the clock.

'We used to think of light and darkness as harmless or neutral stimuli with respect to health,' Dr Meijer said.

'We now realise this is not the case based on accumulating studies from laboratories all over the world, all pointing in the same direction.

'Possibly this is not surprising as life evolved under the constant pressure of the light-dark cycle.

'We seem to be optimized to live under these cycles, and the other side of the coin is that we are now affected by a lack of such cycles.'

While the researchers are certain that 'light exposure matters,' they are planning more in-depth analysis of the influence of distorted light-dark cycles on the immune system and would like to investigate possible health benefits to patients exposed to more normal conditions of light and dark.


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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Reading books is linked to longer life

Reading novels is linked to living longer, a study has found.

Book readers lived an average of two years longer than those who did not read at all – with just half an hour a day lengthening life.

Those who read for more than three and a half hours a week were 23% less likely to die in the study over 12 years, researchers revealed.

Reading newspapers, magazines and periodicals was also associated with longer lifespan, but the link was not as strong, they added.

The study did not explain why reading books is linked to an extended lifespan. 

The researchers, from Yale University, used data on 3,635 people who were age 50 or over. They were taking part in a study about their health but also answered questions on their reading habits.

The team divided them up into three groups: those who didn’t read books, those that read up to three and a half hours a week, and those who read for longer than this every week.

They found the most avid bookworms tended to be women who were university-educated and had high incomes. But even when they adjusted the study to account for employment, age, race, health, depression and whether the person was married, there was still a link between reading and living longer.

Book readers lived for an average of 23 months - nearly two years - extra than those who didn’t read.

The study’s author, Professor Becca Levy, of Yale University, said: ‘People who report as little as a half-hour a day of book reading had a significant survival advantage over those who did not read.

‘And the survival advantage remained after adjusting for wealth, education, cognitive ability and many other variables.’

Writing in the paper, she added: ‘These findings suggest that the benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them.’

The study was reported in the journal Social Science and Medicine.

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