Thursday, April 20, 2017

Do you want a 'younger' brain? Drink beetroot juice before exercising

Combining the drink with exercise strengthens certain regions of the brain, making it appear more youthful and potentially preventing the organ's decline.

This finding could help people who are at risk of brain deterioration to remain functionally independent, such as those with a family history of dementia.

Beetroot juice's power likely lies in its nitric oxide content, which both increases blood flow to the brain and improves exercise performance. 

Study author Professor Jack Rejeski, said: 'Nitric oxide is a really powerful molecule. It goes to the areas of the body which are hypoxic, or needing oxygen, and the brain is a heavy feeder of oxygen in your body.

'Compared to exercise alone, adding a beetroot juice supplement to exercise resulted in brain connectivity that closely resembles what you see in younger adults.'

Scientists from Wake Forest University, North Carolina, studied 26 men and women aged 55 and older who did not exercise and had high blood pressure.

Some participants were given beetroot juice one hour before walking for 50 minutes on a treadmill, while others did the same exercise but without the drink. This was repeated three times a week for six weeks.

Those who drank the juice had healthier brains, including the regions involved in movement, emotion and cognitive function.

The scientists also found higher levels of nitrate and nitrite in those who drank the juice. 

Beetroot contains nitrate, which is first converted to nitrite and then nitric oxide in the body. 

This comes after researchers from Queen Mary University of London found one daily glass of 250ml beetroot juice substantially lowers blood pressure.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Just 4 minutes of intense cycling can stop cells from aging quickly, study reveals

High-intensity interval training for just four minutes at a time can stop the aging process.

Short bursts of super-intense exercise, used in spinning classes, have been found to reverse damage to cells which decline with age.

Many people may think long bike rides are the best exercise, or at least a half-hour session pedaling at the gym. But a US study found just four minutes of all-out cycling, followed by three easier minutes, are needed 12 times a week, along with another 90 minutes walking on a treadmill.

High intensity interval training, as it is known, works better than longer cycling sessions and weightlifting to halt the damage to the cells' 'batteries' which may kickstart the aging process.

Fixing defects in the DNA of these batteries, the mitochondria, is believed to help people live longer before falling ill with diseases of old age like heart failure and cancer.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota found short bursts of exercise improve fitness, cut body fat and can ward off diabetes, as well as tackling cell aging.

They signed up 72 men and women aged 18 to 30 and 65 to 80 for high-intensity training, resistance training using weights, and combined training with longer bouts of cycling and fewer weights sessions.

In good news for time-poor office workers, senior author Dr Sreekumaran Nair, concluded the short bursts were the best.

He said: 'Based on everything we know, there's no substitute for these exercise programs when it comes to delaying the aging process. These things we are seeing cannot be done by any medicine.'

High intensity interval training works to burn more fat by producing 'excess post-oxygen consumption'. Four minutes cycling at close to maximum effort, before collapsing red-faced on the handlebars, leaves someone's resting metabolic rate elevated for longer after exercise.

The latest study shows it also works particularly well in causing cells to make more proteins for their energy-producing mitochondria. This ability is lost as people grow older.

The study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, took biopsies from the participants' thigh muscles and compared the molecular makeup of their muscle cells to samples from sedentary volunteers.

The younger volunteers in the interval training group saw a 49 percent increase in their mitochondrial capacity, and the older volunteers saw an even more dramatic 69 percent increase.

Some of these reversed the decline in mitochondria caused by age, and the decline in proteins needed for muscle-building, which makes people increasingly frail as they get older.

These people did four minutes of high-intensity cycling, followed by three minutes of easier pedaling with no load, repeated only four times. The cycling sessions, on three days of the week, were coupled with two 45-minutes walks at a lower intensity on a treadmill.

It was better for aging than resistance training, involving lower and upper body weightlifting repeated eight to 12 times on four occasions twice a week. It also beat five days a week of cycling for half an hour at a lower intensity, plus four days of weightlifting with fewer repetitions.

However, interval training was less effective at improving muscle strength, which typically declines with aging.

Dr Nair, whose participants did not regularly exercise before joining the study, said: 'If people have to pick one exercise, I would recommend high-intensity interval training, but I think it would be more beneficial if they could do three to four days of interval training and then a couple days of strength training.'

The team hope a drug could be developed to mimic the effects of exercise in warding off old age. 

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Every hour you run adds 7 hours to your lifespan

Every hour you run extends your life span by seven hours - no matter how slow you go, a new study has revealed.

Scientists say that running just one hour a week is the most effective exercise to increase life expectancy. This holds true no matter how many miles or how fast you run, the researchers claim.

For those that take this advice to heart and run regularly, they say you can extend your life span by up to three years.

The study, conducted at Iowa State University, reanalyzed data from The Cooper Institute, in Texas, and also examined results from a number of other recent studies that looked at the link between exercise and mortality.

Scientists found that the new review reinforced the findings of earlier research.

At whatever pace or mileage, a person's risk of premature death dropped by 40 percent when he or she took up running.

This applied even when researchers controlled for smoking, drinking or a history of health problems such as obesity.

Three years ago, the same team conducted a study that analyzed more than 55,000 adults, and determined that running for just seven minutes a day could help slash the risk of dying from heart disease.

They followed participants over a period of 15 years, and found that of the more than 3,000 who died, only one-third of deaths were from heart disease.

Co-author Dr Duck-chul Lee, a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University, told The New York Times that after this study was released, the team was hounded with questions wondering if other activities, such as walking, were as beneficial.

High-mileage runners also questioned if they were overperforming and if, at some point, running would actually contribute to premature mortality.

After analyzing the data in the new study, scientists determined that hour for hour, running statistically returns more time to people's lives than it consumes.

In The Cooper Institute study, participants reported an average of two hours running per week. 

The amount ran over the course of 40 years would add up to fewer than six months, but it could increase life expectancy by more than three years.

The researchers also determined that if every non-runner who had been part of the reviewed studies took up the sport, there would have been 16 percent fewer deaths over all, and 25 percent fewer fatal heart attacks. 

Other types of exercise were also found to be beneficial. Walking and cycling dropped the risk of premature death by about 12 percent. 

Dr Lee says scientists remain uncertain as to why running helps with longevity. But he says it's likely because the sport combats many common risk factors for early death, including high blood pressure and extra body fat, especially around the middle. It also raises aerobic fitness, one of the best-known indicators for long-term health.

Running, however, does not make you immortal and the life expectancy rates don't increase beyond three years.

Improvements in life expectancy generally plateaued at about four hours of running per week, Dr Lee said. But they did not decline.  

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Monday, April 10, 2017

The super trio: How olive oil, nuts and avocado can help you live forever

The magic potion for a long and healthy life could be in your cupboard - in the form of olive oil. A form of fat found in the staple kitchen ingredient may help people to reach 100 years old, scientists claim.

Animals given the healthy compound, which is also found in avocado and nuts, were found to live longer. Experts believe the findings may also be relevant to humans as we apparently share similar qualities with the animals.

Stanford University School of Medicine researchers believe the fat helps to protect cells from the signs of aging. They also said it allows the body to quickly access energy from foods in the study published in the journal Nature.

Lead author Professor Anne Brunet said: 'We have known for some time metabolic changes can affect lifespan, but we expected the long-lived animals in our study would be thinner.

'Instead, they turned out to be fatter. This was quite a surprise.'

It may also explain why southern Europeans, who frequently eat olive oil in their Mediterranean diet, live longer and have lower rates of heart disease, despite consuming more fat.

In the study, roundworms were fed mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are already known to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Not only did the roundworms become obese, but they also lived two days longer on average than their svelte counterparts. Their average lifespan is a fortnight.

Research has previously shown roundworms that lack a complex of proteins called COMPASS live for 30 per cent longer than their peers. 

Tests later found blocking COMPASS helped convert unhealthy polyunsaturated fats in the animals' guts into mono-unsaturated fats. This came as a surprise as severe calorie restriction has also been shown to extend the lifespan of worms and many other animals.

The researchers are now working to understand how the mono-unsaturated fatty acid accumulation might work to extend lifespan.

Humans with diets rich in mono-unsaturated fats have been shown to have a reduced risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Some studies have even shown that centenarians store more mono-unsaturated fat than non-centenarians. 

Commenting on the study, London-based nutritionist Rob Hobson said 'it has many health benefits' mainly supporting the heart.

Healthspan's head of nutrition added: 'It contains unique anti oxidants that reduce inflammation such as oleocanthal.

'Like all healthy foods it’s energy dense so by that although good for you you still need to eat in moderation.' 

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Harvard scientist claims NMN drug has knocked 20 years off his age, and given his 77 year old father the energy of a 30 year old

A professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School has spent two decades investigating how to ‘cure’ aging and believes NMN is by far the best prospect of providing the answer.

His fountain of youth is actually a specialised variant of vitamin B3 that is found in many foods, including broccoli, cucumber and avocado, that helps our cells repair damaged DNA. The latter is believed to be a major cause of natural aging.

In the body, NMN is converted into a related chemical called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which is found in every cell of living organisms and is essential for life. NAD is crucial in fuelling the seven different genes in our body that govern aging. However, our NAD levels decline by about 50 per cent as we age, turning off the body’s defenses against aging and age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Experiments on mice by Professor Sinclair and his team showed that after just a week of being fed NMN dissolved in their drinking water, the cells of aging mice were indistinguishable from those of young mice. Their muscles looked and behaved like those of a young mouse, too.

In human terms, it was the equivalent of a 60-year-old’s cells and muscles transforming into those of a 20-year-old. According to the team’s paper in the international journal Science, the mice suffered no negative side-effects.

Often what works brilliantly in lab mice doesn’t translate to the more complex systems of humans. However, Professor Sinclair says no one has ever tried to replace our dwindling NAD before.

‘NAD is a naturally occurring molecule in the body, so we’re really just replenishing what’s been lost over time,’ he says. ‘That’s different to other strategies that have introduced a foreign molecule from a bacterium or a plant, which could have all sorts of side-effects.

‘This is the closest we are to a safe and effective anti-ageing drug that’s perhaps only three to five years from being on the market if the trials go well.’

The first tests on humans will soon begin in Boston in the U.S., focusing first on safety and then on whether the treatment can actually reverse aging in people, too. They will be monitored closely by the U.S. space agency NASA, which is interested in using the drug during future missions to Mars to stop the accelerated aging process that affects astronauts exposed to radiation in space.

Professor Sinclair is so convinced of his pill’s safety that not only has he been taking it himself, so has his 77-year-old father.

The results certainly sound encouraging. Before he started taking a 500mg NMN pill every morning, 47-year-old Professor Sinclair had his blood tested and was told his body had a biological age of 58.

After consuming NMN for three months, he was tested again and his biological age was 32.

As for his father, he’s recently been out-pacing the professor’s younger brother on mountaineering expeditions in their native Australia.

‘He’s as vigorous as he was in his 20s and 30s, and he seems to be getting more energetic,’ says Professor Sinclair.

The manufacturing process of the NMN pill is complicated and expensive, and it currently costs Professor Sinclair more than $1,000 (£797) a month to buy it just for himself. Large-scale manufacturing would bring the cost down, but he says that ultimately it won’t be cheap. Of course it won’t — if it lives up to the hype, then it really is the long-sought-after elixir of youth.

We each have our own image of what it might entail, and taking a pill with my Bran Flakes is certainly not what I had in mind.

I mention Ursula Andress bathing in mystical cold flames that kept her forever young and gorgeous in the 1960s film version of the H. Rider Haggard story She.

Professor Sinclair remembers it, too. Nothing like that is quite on the cards, he admits… at least not yet.

For a start, what his NMN pill cannot do is rejuvenate our exterior appearance — especially if we’re already old.

The fact that Professor Sinclair, a father of three young children, still has no grey hairs and very few wrinkles seems a miracle in itself, but he suggests it isn’t because of his pills.

Hair loss, grey hair and wrinkled skin are not yet reversible, he says, although if you start taking NMN young, it may delay visible aging, as it’s much easier to prevent hair loss and grey hair than reverse it.

‘I don’t think people will go from 80 to looking like they are 20, although a person who started taking it in their 40s could stay looking in their 40s for longer.

‘What I am expecting is that their body’s internal workings will function better and people will be better protected against diseases as they get older,’ he explains.

And yet all is not lost for Ursula Andress wannabes. Stem cell replacement — the field that could rejuvenate skin and hair — is still in its infancy, but is looking hopeful, he says.

Professor Sinclair mentions Samumed, a California research company whose backers include the venture capitalist arm of IKEA and which claims considerable success in reversing the cosmetic aspects of aging.

By reprogramming genes to be younger, it is developing molecules that could restore hair and hair colour and remove skin wrinkles.

Another drug could even regenerate cartilage in the knees of arthritis patients.

Professor Sinclair, a molecular biologist by training who sold his first research company to British drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline for $720 million and who was in Time magazine’s 2014 list of the world’s 100 most influential people, is certainly not a lone voice.

There’s a growing scientific consensus that ageing is not inevitable.

There’s considerable disagreement, however, over to what extent the inevitable can be put off. A minority, so-called ‘immortalists’ — who are big on imagination but short on serious scientific credentials — believe we can avoid death indefinitely.

They include Aubrey de Grey, a British technology expert and thinker who reckons we can live for 1,000 years.

Then there’s the American futurist, Ray Kurzweil, who believes that humans will eventually physically merge with artificial intelligence and transcend our biological limitations.

Finally, there’s Martine Rothblatt, a transgender woman and one of America’s highest-paid chief executives, who intends to grow new organs from people’s DNA.

She has already commissioned a ‘back-up version’ of her own wife — a robot which has been uploaded with the real woman’s thoughts, memories and even feelings.

Aging science is a world full of quacks and charlatans, but that hasn’t stopped Silicon Valley billionaires and celebrities terrified by the thought of death from plunging vast sums into scientifically dubious projects.

A recent Los Angeles meeting to discuss the latest theories brought together the actress Goldie Hawn, pop star Moby and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who has talked of ‘curing death’.

More serious scientists, including Professor Sinclair, are relatively modest in their ambitions: they speak of adding at most a few extra decades to our lifespans. But what’s possibly more important, they say, is improving our ‘health-spans’.

For what’s the use of having another 50 years to live, if you have to spend it in a wheelchair, crippled by arthritis?

Professor Sinclair has strong personal reasons for devoting his career to unlocking the secrets of aging.

He was in the middle of studying for his PhD when his mother contracted lung cancer. And he vividly recalls his sense of outrage watching his once vibrant grandmother grow old, enfeebled and pass away. It’s a tragic story being played out in everybody’s family, so why aren’t we up in arms about aging, he asks.

The answer, he knows, is because we regard aging as inevitable. In fact, everyone believed that until scientists identified genes that control DNA repair, and therefore the ageing process, in the Nineties.

It was known that strenuous exercise and a low-calorie diet put stress on our cells, prompting them to produce more NAD and so build up their defences against the sort of damage that will age us.

But we learned that over-exercising and starving ourselves is damaging, too, especially for older people — and so scientists intensified their search for a drug that could mimic their effect.

It was Professor Sinclair who initially identified a possible candidate in resveratrol, an antioxidant found in tiny amounts in red wine and in cocoa which reversed aging in mice.

Complicated to manufacture, difficult to administer and of limited effectiveness, resveratrol was not the miracle it had appeared. And so his search for a far more powerful substance led him to NMN.

As to what exactly it may do for us, he mentions strengthened endurance and fitness, enhanced energy, and muscles and organs such as the liver that will function more like they did when we were much younger. (If DNA damage is repaired or minimised, our organs don’t have a shelf life as such.) An increased metabolism might lead to weight loss, too.

Serious aging researchers are wary of being too specific on how many extra years their discoveries may give us, but given what it’s done for mice, Professor Sinclair’s estimate that NMN could buy us an extra five or ten years of healthy life sounds a little disappointing.

But it’s only a start, he insists. Combined with other research that scientists are doing around the world, our age span could be extended by half again.

‘I’ve stated before that the first person to live to 150 has already been born, and that’s me projecting where we’ll be [scientifically] 50 years from now,’ he says.

‘I don’t think we’re going to be immortal, but there’s no law of biology that says we can’t live for 200 years.’

What are these other areas of research? Professor Sinclair mentions two more promising drugs. One is metformin, a drug used to treat diabetes, which has been found to help some diabetics live longer than non-diabetics.

The other is rapamycin, derived from a fungus found on Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean and used to prevent organ transplant rejection. Tests have shown it suppresses the onset of cancer in mice. Both of these drugs, like NMN, trick our body into upping its defences against diseases and negative effects of aging.

The market for an effective anti-aging drug has been estimated at $26 billion a year.

However, Professor Sinclair and his team must first convince regulators to accept that aging is a treatable condition — essential if they want NMN officially approved as a drug — before the floodgates can open to the millions who may want to buy it.

In the meantime, many may ask whether we want to live until we’re 150 and — just as important — whether the world can cope if we do.

Critics of extending human lifespans warn that it will impose a crippling burden on healthcare and the global economy. But Professor Sinclair believes the opposite, arguing that it’s economically essential that we find a way of keeping the elderly healthy and productive.

‘We’re talking about people in their 90s playing tennis and educating their great-grandkids,’ he says.

‘It’ll be a totally different world where your 80s and 90s will be the equivalent of your 60s and 70s now.’

And from work with laboratory mice and observations of the very elderly, it seems death when it comes will be much more rapid, possibly after a short illness such as pneumonia. Scientists call this phenomenon the ‘compression of morbidity’.

Professor Sinclair says he thinks about the ethics of his work every day. What bothers him most is the idea that he could be sentencing people in unpleasant, unrewarding jobs to decades more misery as they struggle towards a far later retirement.

In the developed world, we’re well past the Bible’s approximation of the human lot of threescore years and ten — even without molecular tinkering.

Advances in medical and pharmaceutical technology, and improving lifestyles, mean that lifespans will continue to extend for much of the world’s population.

The prospect of a pill to boost longevity further still is a very good reason for our children, at least, to start looking forward to that 120th birthday party.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The secret anti-aging properties of bone broth

Bone Broth – a centuries old superfood

Although bone broth is only now getting all the hype like most other superfoods, it’s been consumed for ages in many traditional cultures around the world.

The broth is made by simmering bones that still have connective tissue and skin in water with a dash of vinegar, which is said to help draw out minerals, for several hours. Vegetables and herbs can be added to improve the taste. You can find such bones at the local butcher’s or wherever they sell meat. Make sure to buy from organic grass-fed sources. 

Why is bone broth one of my most powerful clinical tools? First, it's packed with anti-aging nutrients. Here are just some of them:

  • Collagen. This structural protein builds strong skin, protecting against aging and wrinkling. While expensive collagen skin creams work temporarily, dietary collagen is far more potent because it mainlines collagen to your cells. In addition, the gelatin derived from collagen heals your digestive tract, helping to prevent inflammation that leads to aging.
  • Glycine. Your body is bombarded all day long with toxins that age you. Glycine helps your liver get these toxins out of your body, re-energizing and de-aging your cells.
  • Minerals including calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Bone broth is a fabulous source of these anti-aging minerals, and its chemical composition makes them highly bioavailable.
  • Glycosaminoglycans, including glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. These nutrients help keep your joints young and flexible.
  • Iodine. Fish bone broth is rich in this nutrient, which protects against a sluggish thyroid — a major cause of weight gain, thinning hair, and energy loss as you age.

Bone broth skin benefits:

1. Delays wrinkles
Ditch the expensive collagen creams and take dietary collagen in the form of bone broth instead for youthful skin! Bone broth is super rich in collagen, which is broken down to form gelatin. Gelatin heals inflammation that leads to aging, reduces skin roughness, improves skin elasticity and keeps skin supple and wrinkle-free.

2. Promotes hair growth
Consuming bone broth will give you a healthier head of hair with lustrous locks and a moisturized scalp but did you know that it also promotes hair growth!

3. For healthy nails & cuticles
The gelatin in bone broth helps promote healthy and moisturized cuticles and nails. It also promotes nail growth and strengthens them. If you have weak, brittle and soft nails, no need to take supplements! Simply include bone broth as well as eggs, fatty fish and nuts like almonds in your diet.

4. Get rid of cellulite
Yes, bone broth will help you get rid of cellulite and attain smooth & flawless skin! Contrary to popular belief, cellulite does not come because of excess fat – even slender people can have cellulite! Cellulite is brought about by lack of enough connective tissue as well as build-up of toxins/clogged up lymphatic system. Bone broth not only increases the skin’s collagen but also helps flush out toxins which all help reduce cellulite.

5. Heals skin inflammation
Inflammatory skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis, acne inflammation, rosacea and others can be reduced and naturally healed by drinking bone broth. The amino acids found in bone broth are powerful anti-inflammatory agents, which will soothe the inflammation, make it appear less noticeable as well as speed up healing.

6. Prevents stretch marks
As you already know, bone broth contains a lot of collagen, which is broken down into gelatin in the cooking process. Collagen is what keeps our skin elastic and it helps maintain our skin’s structural integrity. Eating collagen-rich foods like bone broth boost collagen production and prevent and fade away stretch marks.

7. Prevents & lifts sagging skin
The high levels of natural collagen help boost the skin’s collagen and improve the skin’s elasticity thereby keeping it taut and firm.

8. Treats acne
If you’ve tried changing your diet, all the anti-acne creams on the planet, et cetera, et cetera, and you’re still plagued by acne then maybe it’s time to start drinking bone broth. One major cause of acne is poor gut health including constipation, IBS, leaky gut and slow digestion. Clear your gut issues by consuming nutrient-rich and easy to digest bone broth! Gelatin in bone broth heals leaky gut and IBS as well as regulating bowel movements and flushing out toxins that pop out of the body as pus-filled acne.

9. Heals blemishes & scars
Collagen is necessary for healing scars and blemishes. A diet lacking in collagen and protein can delay healing of scars which is why some people have scars that can take years to completely heal. Protein – mostly from animal sources, is necessary for repairing worn out tissue as well as damaged skin cells. Glutamine and argine are two important amino acids found in animal protein that help in collagen formation in the body. Bone broth contains all these nutrients so drink up for a blemish-free face and speedy scar-healing!

10. Healthier looking skin
Do you have dark spots, flaky skin, acne scars, dark marks and an uneven complexion? The nourishing nutrients in bone broth, including hyaluronic acid – found in bone cartilage, coupled with collagen contribute to healthy looking skin by preserving moisture in cells.

11. Stronger teeth
Healthy, white and shiny teeth naturally enhance beauty and make a person look attractive! Keep your teeth strong, healthy and free from cavities by consuming calcium, magnesium and phosphorus-rich bone broth.

Bone broth reverses signs of aging better than any powder, pill or serum. And unlike expensive creams and prescription medications, bone broth costs next to nothing. So give it a try, and see what happens. I drink one cup of bone broth every day. You will see less inflammation, more glow and more toned skin. It repairs, strengthens, rejuvenates and heals. Within days, you'll start to see a difference — and within weeks, you'll start to look years younger.

Also read:

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Scientists discover a protein that can make old blood young again

A protein that can make old blood young has been discovered by scientists, once again sparking hopes of eternal life.

Many have longed for a magic potion to reach triple figures, but until now medical breakthroughs had been scarce. 

However, German researchers now claim that they have pinpointed exactly how blood can be kept young - pointing to an array of health benefits. And they are working towards creating a drug containing levels of a protein that they believe could encourage blood to behave more youthfully.

Study author Dr Hartmut Geiger, of the University of Ulm, said: 'If we can translate this into a treatment, we can make old blood young again.'

In a study of the bone marrow of mice, they found older rodents tended to lack levels of osteopontin, New Scientist reports.

They noticed how quickly blood stem cells without the protein aged when they were injected into mice, according to the study published in EMBO journal.

But they also found that when the older stem cells were mixed in with the protein, they began to behave like their younger counterparts. Specifically, they were able to produce white blood cells quicker - an ability known to worsen with older blood.

Both red and white blood cells are made by stem cells that are created by 'mothers' in the bone marrow. Scientists know that these cells often deplete in old age, and this has previously been linked to the world's leading killer. 

It comes straight from the pages of a gothic horror novel, but the Dracula-esque transfusion of younger blood has long been linked to health benefits.

So-called 'vampire therapy' can repair muscle tissue, as well as the liver and brain after only 24 hours.

The US scientists found, while young blood does appear to benefit health, it does not improve brain cells used for memory and learning.

A Harvard study has previously found an 'anti-aging' protein, GDF-11, which depletes in the blood as mice age.

This could explain the rejuvenation seen in older animals given young blood, although scientists are still searching for more clues. 

However, blood from someone else can be rejected by the body, running the risk of organ failure and casting doubt on whether the mouse experiment would work in people.  

Also read:

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Could artificial blood soon be on tap?

Artificial blood grown in the lab could one day be available on tap thanks to a new scientific breakthrough. Researchers used early-stage stem cells, known as immortal cells, to grow billions of red blood cells in the lab.

The new technique could one day be used to help patients with rare blood types, the researchers said.

Artificial production traditionally relies upon a type of stem cell that usually manufactures red blood cells in the human body. But researchers from the University of Bristol discovered a new method of producing blood using 'immortal' stem cells.

The researchers created 'immortal' cells by manipulating stem cells in a way that 'traps' them in an early stage of development. When stem cells are in an early stage, they can frequently divide to create an unlimited number of cells.  In contrast, the stem cells traditionally used can only make 50,000 red blood cells before dying off. A typical bag of blood used in hospital contains around a trillion red blood cells.

Dr Jan Frayne, from the University of Bristol, said: 'Previous approaches to producing red blood cells have relied on various sources of stem cells which can only presently produce very limited quantities.

'By taking an alternative approach we have generated the first human immortalised adult erythroid line (Bristol Erythroid Line Adult or BEL-A), and in doing so, have demonstrated a feasible way to sustainably manufacture red cells for clinical use from in vitro culture.'

'Globally, there is a need for an alternative red cell product. 

'Cultured red blood cells have advantages over donor blood, such as reduced risk of infectious disease transmission.'

But although the researchers have the 'biological tools' need to produce blood on tap, they are yet to develop a cheap and large-scale manufacturing process. NHS Blood and Transplant needs to collect 1.5 million units of blood each year to meet the needs of patients across England and the ongoing need for life saving blood donations remains.

It could still be many years before manufactured cells could be available on such a large scale, the researchers said.

They added that small-scale production could be developed to support those with rare blood types. 

Professor Dave Anstee, director at the National Institute for Health Research Blood and Transplant Research Unit, said: 'Scientists have been working for years on how to manufacture red blood cells to offer an alternative to donated blood to treat patients.

'The first therapeutic use of a cultured red cell product is likely to be for patients with rare blood groups because suitable conventional red blood cell donations can be difficult to source.

'The patients who stand to potentially benefit most are those with complex and life-limiting conditions like sickle cell disease and thalassemia, which can require multiple transfusions of well-matched blood. 

'The intention is not to replace blood donation but provide specialist treatment for specific patient groups.'

The first trials of manufactured blood transfusion will take place later this year. But these trials will use artificial blood developed in the traditional method rather than the technique used in the current study.

The research was published in Nature Communications. 

Also read:

Friday, March 24, 2017

Age-reversing pill that Nasa wants to give to astronauts on Mars will begin human trials within 6 months

Scientists have made a discovery that could lead to a revolutionary drug that actually reverses aging.

The drug could help damaged DNA to miraculously repair and even protect Nasa astronauts on Mars by protecting them from solar radiation.

A team of researchers developed the drug after discovering a key signalling process in DNA repair and cell aging. During trials on mice, the team found that the drug directly repaired DNA damage caused by radiation exposure or old age.

'The cells of the old mice were indistinguishable from the young mice after just one week of treatment,' said lead author Professor David Sinclair.

Human trials of the pill will begin within six months.

'This is the closest we are to a safe and effective anti-aging drug that's perhaps only three to five years away from being on the market if the trials go well,' said Professor Sinclair.

The work has drawn the attention of Nasa, which is considering the challenge of keeping its astronauts healthy during a four-year mission to Mars. Even on short missions, astronauts experience accelerated aging from cosmic radiation, suffering from muscle weakness, memory loss and other symptoms when they return.

On a trip to Mars, the situation would be far worse: Five per cent of the astronauts' cells would die and their chances of cancer would approach 100 per cent.

Professor Sinclair and his colleague Dr Lindsay Wu were winners in NASA's iTech competition in December last year.

'We came in with a solution for a biological problem and it won the competition out of 300 entries,' Dr Wu said.

Cosmic radiation is not only an issue for astronauts. We're all exposed to it aboard aircraft, with a London-Singapore-Melbourne flight roughly equivalent in radiation to a chest x-ray.

In theory, the anti-aging pill could mitigate any effects of DNA damage for frequent flyers.

The other group that could benefit from this work is survivors of childhood cancers.

Dr Wu says 96 per cent of childhood cancer survivors suffer a chronic illness by age 45, including cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and cancers unrelated to the original cancer.

'All of this adds up to the fact they have accelerated aging, which is devastating,' he said.

'It would be great to do something about that, and we believe we can with this molecule.'

The experiments in mice, from a team at the University of New South Wales, suggest a treatment for these issues is possible through a new drug.

While our cells can naturally repair DNA damage - such as damage caused by the sun - this ability declines with age.

The scientists identified that the call signalling molecule NAD+, which is naturally present in every cell in the body, has a key role in protein interactions that control DNA repair. Treating mice with an NAD+ 'booster' called NMN improved their cells' ability to repair DNA damage caused by radiation exposure or aging.

For the past four years, Professor Sinclair and Dr Wu have been working on making NMN into a drug substance with their companies MetroBiotech NSW and MetroBiotech International.

The human trials will begin this year at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in Boston.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

US regulators CONFIRM breast implants cause rare form of cancer

Breast implants can cause a rare and hard-to-treat form of cancer, the FDA has confirmed in a landmark update to its guidelines. It comes after the federal agency received reports from 359 women claiming a link between their implants and their diagnosis of anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

As of February 1, 2017, nine of those women have died.

The update marks something of a triumph for US medical researchers, six years after the World Health Organization first warned of the potential link.

Last year French regulators became the first to acknowledge the 'clearly established link', ordering manufacturers to prove the safety of their products or face them being banned. 

The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is still analyzing the French and American reports, and has yet to acknowledge the 'clearly established link'.

Breast enhancements are the second most-popular form of plastic surgery in the US, with more than 300,000 procedures performed a year. Under scrutiny are implants with a textured surface – the most common type in the US, accounting for 99 percent of all used.

The regulators assured patients the cancer is easily treatable by removing the implants. 

'All of the information to date suggests that women with breast implants have a very low but increased risk of developing ALCL compared to women who do not have breast implants,' the FDA said in a statement released on Tuesday.
'Most cases of breast implant-associated ALCL are treated by removal of the implant and the capsule surrounding the implant and some cases have been treated by chemotherapy and radiation,' it said.

The agency said the update has come amid a recent surge in circumstantial evidence showing a link. 

'As of February 1, 2017, the FDA has received a total of 359 medical device reports of breast-implant-associated ALCL, including nine deaths,' it said.

'Breast implants approved in the U.S. can be filled with either saline or with silicone gel. They come in different sizes and shapes and have either smooth or textured surfaces (shells).

'There are 231 reports that included information on the implant surface. Of these, 203 were reported to be textured implants and 28 reported to be smooth implants.' 

Some research has suggested bacteria on the outer shell introduced during implantation leads to immune system changes that trigger the cancer. However, this is not proven.

British body the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has not revised its guidance since 2014. A spokesman said: 'We will closely monitor the results of the investigation by the French Regulatory Authority and will take appropriate regulatory or safety action if needed.'

In most cases of BIA-ALCL, women are successfully treated with surgery alone, but chemotherapy and radiotherapy may also be needed.

There has been growing concern among the medical community about BIA-ALCL since 2011, when US health chiefs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the MHRA, and the World Health Organisation issued alerts to doctors and urged them to report cases.

Since then, doctors registered with the British Association of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgeons BAAPS, who represent all cosmetic surgeons working in the NHS, have warned patients of BIA-ALCL.


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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Latest treatment for acne and eczema? Rubbing good bacteria into your skin

Many people take them to boost gut health, but now probiotics — or ‘friendly’ bacteria — are being put in creams and sprays to treat skin conditions such as eczema and acne.

It’s well known that our guts harbour millions of bacteria, but our skin is host to huge numbers, too, which are all thought to contribute to skin health.

‘There are about 100,000 bacteria per square centimetre on the surface of the skin, and these are made up of 200-300 different types of bacteria,’ says Richard Gallo, a professor of dermatology at the University of California San Diego, and a leading researcher in this field. ‘The theory is that when the skin is diseased, there is less diversity of bacteria — as happens with the gut.’

This can lead to an imbalance in the bacteria population, or microbiome.

‘Treating’ the problem with good bacteria reduces the number of harmful bacteria possibly linked to skin complaints. Professor Gallo is currently testing an eczema cream that contains good bacteria taken from a patient’s own skin.

He developed it after discovering people with eczema had lower levels of bacteria that combat Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), a type of bacterium known to aggravate eczema. People with healthy skin had higher levels of the protective bacteria, known as S. epidermidis and S. hominis.

In a study reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine last month, he and his team isolated samples of these protective bacteria from the arms of five volunteers with eczema and mixed them into a cream. This cream was then rubbed onto the patients’ skin. Professor Gallo found that adding back these beneficial bacteria via the cream ‘drastically’ reduced the levels of S. aureus. He is now running larger trials.

But Professor Gallo stresses that this doesn’t mean the bacteria is the sole cause of eczema.

‘We think that atopic dermatitis is caused both by genes [that make the skin more prone to flare-ups] and by the balance of bacteria,’ he says.

It may be that the skin of people prone to eczema doesn’t encourage the growth of the beneficial bacteria, so the S. aureus is able to take hold. Such findings are very significant, says Dr Miriam Wittmann, an associate professor of inflammatory skin diseases at the University of Leeds, where the role of topical probiotics in eczema is also being researched.

‘I think the potential for this kind of treatment is not a cure per se, but once you have stabilised the skin, it might help prevent flare-ups,’ she says.

‘That is useful as flare-ups can lead to the need for treatment with antibiotics — yet there is a growing issue of antibiotic resistance, so the less we use them the better. Another option for a severe flare-up is immunosuppressants, but these can have side-effects.

‘Using someone’s own bacteria, on the other hand, is much safer.’

Probiotics are also being investigated as a treatment for acne. A paper in the Journal of Cosmetic Science in 2012 found that applying a solution of 5 per cent lactobacillus (a bacteria often found in yoghurt) to the skin helped combat mild acne.

And U.S. firm AOBiome is carrying out trials of a good bacteria spray to treat mild acne. Sold under the name Mother Dirt, it is already on sale in the U.S., but the company hopes to be able to sell it in Europe later this year.

Dr Carsten Flohr, of the British Association of Dermatologists and consultant dermatologist at London’s Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital, says similar probiotic-based treatments work differently depending on the skin complaint.

‘Whereas with eczema we think the bacteria might have a preventative role, with acne, the bacteria play a different role.

‘The inflammation that occurs with acne is partly due to the presence of bacteria and the skin overreacting to that. However, there are other factors — such as hormonal changes in adolescence that increase the amount of oils produced in the skin.’

He points out that these treatments have to be more sophisticated than simply smearing yoghurt on your face.

‘The skin is a very complex environment,’ he says. ‘And the balance of bacteria that live there is very well suited to that environment, which is why it is better to use bacteria that normally exist on the skin rather than introducing different types.

‘The use of bacteria to help with these skin complaints is definitely realistic,’ he adds.

But since a balance of bacteria can help our skin, should we be avoiding frequent washing of our hands and face?

Professor Gallo says not, as studies show ‘standard hygiene doesn’t alter the microbiome’.

‘The microbiome of the skin is so important. We would not have evolved so that when you jumped into a lake you washed it off.’


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Friday, March 17, 2017

13 scientifically-proven tips to improve your sleep

Sleep makes you feel better, but its importance goes way beyond just boosting your mood or banishing under-eye circles. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more. 

Here are 13 scientifically-proven tips to improve your sleep.

1. Get your napping right

If napping makes you more tired, you're not doing it right, says Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, a physiologist specializing in sleep and author of Fast Asleep, Wide Awake: Discover the secrets of restorative sleep and vibrant energy.

'The key is to take controlled naps which can revive you,' she explains. 

'For example, a power nap of five to 20 minutes unloads the brain and could make up for a small sleep debt from the night before, making you feel more recharged'.

Here's what happens: during sleep, your brain produces different kinds of waves which correspond to how deeply you sleep. After 20 minutes, the brain may move into its deeper slow-wave sleep, leaving you groggy when you wake up. 

'If you're only napping for 20 minutes and still feeling tired and unrefreshed afterwards, you may be chronically exhausted,' says Ramlakhan. 

'If you stick with it, napping only for five-20 minutes you could eventually begin to feel better. The key is not to be tempted to sleep for longer or you will disturb your sleep in the evening.'

Set an alarm so you don't oversleep, suggests Ramlakhan. 

'Don't get too comfortable or you won't wake up – an armchair or sofa is great – and take with you some lavender or a cushion you associate with sleep to help trigger your brain to relax.' 

Try and not nap after 3pm though as this is when your body's levels of the sleep hormone melatonin begin to rise. This signals to the brain that it's time to wind down and prepare for evening and napping after this time could interrupt your night's sleep. 

If you feel tired during the day but too 'wired' to nap, Ramlakhan recommends yoga nidra, a guided yogic sleep done for about 25 minutes. 

'Even if you don't actually fall asleep it deeply relaxes the body so you come out of it feeling relaxed but recharged.' There are many different versions that do a similiar thing, download one from iTunes or follow one on You Tube. 

2. Go to bed and wake up at the same time 

A staggering 40 percent of us don't get the recommended six to nine hours sleep a night, research by The Sleep Council has found. 

The long weekend lie-in is a tempting antidote but while it may reduce sleepiness and stress, it won't help your ability to concentrate, research published in The American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology found. 

In fact, sleep deprived subjects in the study showed impaired concentration even after their 'recovery sleep' at the weekend.

'Lie ins and long naps at the weekend disrupt our body clocks which could disrupt our sleep in the long term by making it harder to sleep at night during the week,' says Professor Colin Espie, a sleep specialist at the University of Oxford. 

'The brain's need for sleep is due to 'sleep pressure' which accumulates during the day and becomes greater the longer we're awake,' he explains. 'Sleeping in for long periods confuses this process.'

If you miss some sleep one night, you can catch up the next night with little problem, says Dr Neil Stanley, a medic and independent sleep expert. 

'But after about two nights of not sleeping enough, you're in sleep debt and lie ins at the weekend can't make up for that'. 

If you make no other change to your sleep, he suggests waking up at the same time every day, even at the weekend. 'This trains your body to use the time it has to sleep most efficiently.' 

Professor Espie has a website, a clinically proven course based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help people with sleep issues of any kind establish a set routine and overcome their sleep problems.

3. Tackle the temperature 

Temperature is an aspect of sleep that often gets overlooked,' says James Wilson, a leading sleep expert. 

'But after light, it has the greatest impact on our circadian rhythms (our bodies' wake/sleep cycles), and our bodies are very sensitive to it; it only takes a change in core body temperature of 0.5 degrees Celsius for our bodies to start waking up. On a physiological level sleep is simple. 

'To produce melatonin (the sleep hormone) we need a drop in heart rate and a drop in core temperature. If both of these things happen than our body will produce melatonin most efficiently.'

So, what room temperature is optimal for sleeping then? 

'When it comes to room temperature we should be looking for somewhere between 16-20 degrees Celsius (60.8- 68 degrees fahrenheit), as it is that melatonin production is more efficient between 16-20 degrees,' says Wilson. 

'It is preferable for the bedroom to be cooler than the rest of the house to encourage a drop in core temperature'.

If you find it hard to wind down, having a bath or shower can trick the body. Getting really warm then really cold quickly triggers the melatonin production, Wilson asserts. Doing this half an hour before bed gives the best effect.

When it comes to duvets, tog rating is a measurement of heat retention. 'If you have a synthetic or feather/down duvet they are designed to trap moisture in and it is this moisture heating up which makes your environment warm', Wilson explains. 

'If you use materials like Alpaca fleece (this is my top choice) bamboo, wool or silk your body is allowed to breathe and the moisture disappears, which can make you less likely to be hot. 

'In addition to this you can add bamboo bedding rather than cotton or or synthetics as it is more breathable and adds to the impact of the duvet. 

4. Take magnesium tablets 

This mineral is often called nature's tranquilizer because of its calming properties and because it can help the body relax and unwind at the end of the day. 

You can eat it in foods such as kale, spinach, broccoli, nuts and seeds and pulses which are great before bed. 

'Magnesium is necessary for normal energy metabolism,' says nutritionist Robert Hobson. 

But food surveys show that about one in ten women are not getting adequate amounts of magnesium from their diet – it's found green leafy vegetables, wholegrain cereals, eggs and nuts.

'One of the early indicators of low magnesium levels is tiredness and fatigue so increasing you magnesium intake may be useful,' he says. 

If you're tired, try supplementing with magnesium. Taken before bed it can have a relaxing effect on the mind and muscles and help promote sleep, he says. Try taking one Healthspan Magnesium and B Complex an hour before bed.

5. Use magnesium on your skin 

Studies have shown that magnesium taken transdermally, – through skin – can have an even more instant and calming effect on sleep than tablets. 

You can bathe in magnesium, use a foot soak, enriched body oil and/or moisturiser, allowing it to be absorbed transdermally through the skin. 

Sleep expert James Wilson, recommends Better You's Trandermal Magnesium range. I recently tried this for a full week for a 21 days of sleep remedies blog that I am doing for National Sleep Month and the results have been astounding. The sedative effects of using the three products together relaxed me quickly and help me get a more restful, quality sleep. I am hooked. 

Is there science behind it? Research from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Cambridge has shown that there is a relationship between our cells' magnesium levels and the body's ability to follow its sleep cycle efficiently. 

'Basically, having the right levels of magnesium in the body means we find it easier to fall asleep and wake up at the right time,' says Wilson.

'Magnesium helps the body relax by ensuring the GABA receptors in our brain and nervous system are working as efficiently as possible,' explains Wilson. 

'GABA receptors help the brain switch off and without it, our minds would continue to race. It's also essential for allowing your muscles to relax, particularly after stress or exercise.'

Using magnesium transdermally – on the skin – instead of taken it internally as supplements offers better absorption to tablets and capsules, says Wilson. 

Applied directly to the skin; magnesium will be absorbed directly into the skin tissue, entering cells immediately replacing magnesium lost through the stresses of modern life, he explains.

6. Try the Indian herbal fix 

Ashwagandha is one of the most widely prescribed herbal Ayurvedic medicines in India recommended to address sleep problems, stress and anxiety. The anti-stress benefits of ashwagandha have been widely researched in a number of published studies.

For example, one study that was carried out on 64 adults who were suffering chronic stress were given capsules of ashwagandha for 60 days, and the other half took a placebo. 

Neither the participants nor the researchers knew which they were taking until after the trial.

After 60 days, those who took the ashwagandha had much lower scores for perceived stress, insomnia, anxiety and depression than the placebo group. 

What's more, their average cortisol level (a stress hormone that is often too high in people who suffer with insomnia) fell by 28 percent per cent but dropped by only eight per cent in the placebo group – a good indication that this remedy can benefit those who struggle to sleep well at night. 

7. Exercise. Period. 

Lots of people think exercising in the evening might keep them awake. In fact, research shows that even vigorous exercise before bedtime doesn't cause problems sleeping for many people and in some cases, it might even be beneficial. 

Indeed, people who exercised for at least 30 minutes 5-6 times a week – regardless of what time of day they exercised – were also the least likely to take sleep medication, found The Sleep Council research. 

'Some studies suggest time spent in the deeper stages of sleep increases after exercise,' says Professor Espie. 

A 2011 study found adults with insomnia who ran on a treadmill three times a week either in the morning or at 6pm saw their insomnia improve including taking less time to fall asleep, waking up less and feeling better in the mornings.

'As long as you wind down, exercising in the evening shouldn't affect your sleep,' says Dr Ramlakhan. 

This could be anything that relaxes you such as a hot Epsom salts bath or a few downloading yoga moves. 

8. Know your sleep type 

Some people like Margaret Thatcher, Gandhi and Winston Churchill may have famously thrived on less sleep but they're a rarity. 

In fact, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco discovered a gene mutation in people that predisposed them to needing about 20 per cent less sleep than the rest of us. But they estimate those 'short-sleepers' only comprise around five per cent of the population. 

'Sleep is like height, it's genetically determined,' says Dr Stanley. So if your mum or dad were short sleepers you may be too. But while the amount of sleep you need can vary from three to nine hours, most people need 7-8.'

'The best gauge is how you feel during the day,' says Dr Ramlakhan. 

'The signs you're not getting enough sleep are cravings for sweets, caffeine and carbohydrates, wanting to go back to sleep as soon as you wake up and thinking about sleep during the day'. 

Conversely, she says if you wake up without an alarm clock at the same time everyday – whether it's for work, at the weekend or on holiday – with only 4-5 hours sleep you could be among the lucky few genuine 'short-sleepers'. Find your your sleep type here 

9. Stop worrying about waking up 

Most people have experienced the fear that they are going to wake up several times resulting in a disturbed nights sleep but in reality it is natural to wake up during the night.

'Sleep studies show that the average human being wakes approximately 10 times during the night. The theory is that this sleep-wake cycle evolved for our survival and safety: we come into a semiconscious state to check that all is well and we are safe and then slide back into sleep,' says Dr Ramlakhan.

It isn't abnormal for someone to wake up at 4 in the morning, asserts James Wilson. 

'This is when our body is at its coolest, it is often when our bladders want to empty and psychologically we worry that we only have a few hours until our proper wake up time and begin to worry.

'As someone who has had insomnia this was and sometimes still is my issue,' says Wilson. 'What I do is if I haven't got back to sleep I get up and try and use the sleep deprivation to get better quality sleep thenext night and I try not to worry about it!'

10. Turn your clock the other way 

Checking the time in the middle of the night can be very disruptive as it can often lead you to work out how many hours you've slept so far and how much sleep you have left before your alarm goes off. Then you start overthinking about tomorrow – it's a vicious cycle.

It's this kind of brain activity that could lead to you to lying awake for ages. This turns on your sympathetic nervous system (the part that deals with problem solving and focus) instead of your parasympathetic nervous system (the one you need on when you're sleeping as it promotes rest).

Turn your alarm clock to face the other way and don't be tempted to check it if you wake up, just lie there feeling cosy and you'll be most likely to fall back to sleep. If you don't try these relaxation tips from James Wilson:

The 'The' Technique

Close your eyes and imagine a bright light at the end of a long tunnel. Focus on the light and as you do breathe in and out slowly in a yogic style. 

Doming your stomach out as you breathe in and pulling your stomach back into your ribs as you breathe out While you do this repeat the word 'The' over and over again. This prevents thoughts popping into your head such as school issues, relationship problems or just worrying about what is happening tomorrow.

One Line from a Song

Take a line from a song, a song with positive memories and repeat it over and over again.

11. Give up on sleep. Seriously 

It seems we're resigned to insomnia, with a third of us getting by on 5-6 hours sleep a night, kept mostly awake by worry and stress. 

Yet one survey found that 38 per cent of us think the answer to insomnia is going to sleep earlier when in fact it could be just the opposite. You need to build up your 'sleep pressure' says Professor Espie, which is simply about being awake and active enough to make yourself tired. 

Experts recommend that people with insomnia go to sleep later, waiting until they are truly sleepy before getting into bed.

Go to sleep an hour later than you normally would to ensure you're more tired than usual and actively 'give up on sleep'. 

Worrying about getting back to sleep, how little you're sleeping or how ruined you will be tomorrow is paradoxically keeping your mind in the kind of stressed, survival mode in which sleep is the last thing it wants to do.

The less you care about sleep, the more likely it is to happen. 

This focusing less on sleep is part of a therapy called 'Paradoxical Intention Therapy' recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in which you forget your preoccupation with sleep and simply go to bed when you are tired, even if that means you only get four hours sleep (eventually your body should get tired earlier and earlier and adjust). 

12. Get some morning light 

'Morning light is the most effective at setting our body clocks,' says Russell Foster, professor of circadian neuroscience at the University of Oxford and author of The Rhythms Of Life: The Biological Clocks That Control the Daily Lives of Every Living Thing (Profile £6.99) explains.

Our body clocks are set to the external world as a result of the light/dark cycle because cells on the eye called photosensitive retinal ganglion cells, which form part of the optic nerve, pick up light signals and convey that light/dark information to the body's 'master' clock in the brain. 

This sends signals to every cell in the body's organ systems all of which have their own internal 24 hour clocks, to help regulate our systems. 

Most of that process is determined by our exposure to natural light, Prof. Foster explains. 

'If you want to be more focused maximise your exposure to natural morning light as it's also good for elevating alertness and lowering your predisposition towards depression.'

If you can't get outside, have your morning cup of coffee or tea next to a bright window.

13. Use proven herbal help (not benzodiazepines) 

Fact: Benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax only take two weeks' continuous use to develop a dependency so avoid them at all costs. 

But don't underestimate the power of high quality herbals. 

The most well researched are valerian, hops and passionflower in combination. One randomised double blind placebo controlled study found valerian and hops together had a far superior effect as a natural sedative to valerian alone. Meanwhile, the evidence for passionflower shows that it can help manage anxiety without morning drowsiness.

'I am a herbalist I recommend products that have a combination of botanicals as I believe that these work better than those formulas that rely on a single botanical,' says Rick Hay, herbalist and nutritionist. 

'Valerian, hops and passionflower are important herbs to use if your nervous system is under pressure and while evidence is mounting about their efficacy in scientific terms, their use traditionally for centuries show their effectiveness.'

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