Friday, January 27, 2017

Lack of sleep WILL make you sick

Sleep deprivation cripples the immune system, a new study has revealed - explaining why so many of us get sick without good rest. 

Researchers at the UW Medicine Sleep Center examined 11 pairs of identical twins with different sleep patterns, taking blood samples from each. 

They found overwhelmingly that the twin who got less sleep had a more depressed immune system compared with their sibling.

It is one of the first studies to employ 'real world' conditions to confirm how lack of sleep hampers white blood cells, which are essential to keep up our immunity. 

'What we show is that the immune system functions best when it gets enough sleep. Seven or more hours of sleep is recommended for optimal health,' said lead author Dr. Nathaniel Watson.

The team elected to examine twins, since studies show genetics accounts for up to 55 percent of our sleep behaviors. 

They focused specifically on immune response, rather than the more commonly examined factors - such as inflammation. 

It builds on previous studies that show when sleep deprived people are given a vaccine, there is a lower antibody response.

Other reports have shown that sleep deprived people are far more likely than their rested peers to get the rhinovirus if they are exposed to it.

But, the researchers warn, data from the Centers for Disease Control show that Americans are now sleeping an estimated 1.5 to two hours less than they did a century ago.

About one-third of the working population sleeps less than six hours per night.
'Modern society, with its control of light, omnipresent technology and countless competing interests for time, along with the zeitgeist de-emphasizing sleep's importance, has resulted in the widespread deprioritization of sleep,' the authors wrote. 

Dr Watson added: 'This study provides further evidence of sleep to overall health and well-being particularly to immune health.' 

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Is coffee the key to a long life? Scientists believe they've found the answer - and it's to do with caffeine

Scientists have long wondered why coffee drinkers tend to have longer lives.

Now researchers at Stanford University believe they may have hit on a reason why a having a coffee or tea break is so good for us.

Caffeine, the ingredient that gives coffee, tea and some fizzy drinks a lift blocks chemicals in our blood that promote inflammation.

Inflamed blood vessels are more likely to become stiffer – a risk factor for heart disease. Inflammation also plays a key role in many other diseases, the research study said.

Tests on the blood of people fewer of the chemicals linked to inflammation – were found to have more caffeine in their bloodstream.

Further investigation revealed that they, as might be expected, drank more coffee than their peers.

A chemical found in chocolate, theobromine, was also found to have an anti-inflammatory effect, although not as pronounced as caffeine.

David Furman of the Stanford University’s Institute for Immunity, Transplantaion and Infection said: ‘More than 90 per cent of all noncommunicable diseases of aging are associated with chronic inflammation.’

Dr Furmann added: ‘It’s also well known that caffeine intake is associated with longevity. Many studies have shown this association. We’ve found a possible reason for why this may be so.’

His colleague Mark Davis added: ‘Our findings show that an underlying inflammatory process, which is associated with aging, is not only driving cardiovascular disease but is, in turn, driven by molecular events that we may be able to target and combat.’

The authors found that in an ongoing study following participants aged 20-30, and another group of people aged 60, those who ‘tended to drink more caffeinated beverages’ had lower levels of inflammatory compounds in their blood.

Further tests in the laboratory in human cell cultures found that caffeine had an active role in combating the chemicals that trigger inflammation.

The key chemical combated by caffeine is called Interleukin-1-beta.

When injected into mice, IL-1-Beta led to ‘massive systemic inflammation, along with high blood pressure’. It also led to immune cells – white blood cells that fight infection and – clogging the animals kidneys. It also found more platelets platelets, which make blood more likely to clot.

Dr Davis said: ‘That something many people drink — and actually like to drink — might have a direct benefit came as a surprise to us’.

‘What we’ve shown is a correlation between caffeine consumption and longevity. And we’ve shown more rigorously, in laboratory tests, a very plausible mechanism for why this might be so.’

The study was published in Nature Medicine.


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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A sniff of rosemary can boost your memory because it helps the chemicals in the brain

The key to a better memory could be right under your nose. The smell of rosemary boosts our ability to recall past events and remember what to do in the future, research claims.

It is thought a compound that gives the herb its distinctive smell –1,8-cineole – aids a brain chemical which is the key to memory.

The same brain chemistry is targeted by Alzheimer's medicines, and researcher Dr Mark Moss, head of psychology at Northumbria University, says the plant has a 'drug-like effect'.

Volunteers did memory tests while sitting in a room infused with rosemary oil. Others sat the tests in a lavender-fragranced room, or in one with clean air.

Rosemary boosted long-term memory and the ability to do simple sums. It also improved 'prospective memory' – used to carry out plans, such as remembering to post a letter – and improved recall by about 15 per cent in men and women of all ages, an International Fragrance Association conference heard.

Dr Moss said healthy people may gain from regularly burning rosemary oil and inhaling.

He said: 'People think it might be really good for their brain if they do more exercise or reading or brain training puzzles... but you can sit and watch the telly and use aromas.'

While he doesn't think it would help those who have dementia, rosemary helps healthy brains stay young for longer. 'There's no guarantee of benefits but I would be cautiously optimistic,' he said.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Steps you can take to naturally slow aging

1. Vitamins B6/B12: Take 100 to 200 milligrams each of vitamins B6 and B12 daily to reduce cortisol and increase levels of serotonin, a chemical in the body that helps ease depression and anxiety.

2. Broccoli: Broccoli contains the highest amount of isothiocyanates, a cancer-fighting compound, of all the crunchy vegetables. Isothiocynates work by turning on cancer-fighting genes and turning off others that feed the disease. You don’t need to eat large amounts of these veggies to take advantage of their health benefits, either. Studies have shown men who eat more than one portion of cruciferous vegetables a week are at lower risk of prostate cancer.

3. Lavender: Lavender, a natural relaxant, helps keep cortisol levels stable and smells terrific. Put this essential oil in the bath or rub it onto your face and body, or tuck a sachet of the dried flower under your pillow.

4. Teas: Anti-oxidant rich teas like green tea, white tea, oolong tea, rooibos tea, and black tea contain antioxidants called polyphenols that protect your cells from free radical damage.

5. Wild-caught fish: Provide anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats to slow the aging process. Wild Alaskan Salmon contains high levels of Vitamin D and astaxanthin. Both vitamin and astaxanthin are powerful antioxidants that help fight the signs of aging. Read more: Science-based benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

6. Whey protein: Whey has been shown to increase your body’s stores of the antioxidant glutathione, or GSH. Glutathione is known to increase the integrity of telomeres. Telomeres are bundles of DNA found in every cell, and they shorten with age. Researchers suspect telomeres shorten due to damage by free radicals. Free radicals play a role in DNA mutations, and there is evidence that mutations in your telomeres can cause larger chunks than normal to be lost during cell division. The best way to increase and maintain your GSH levels is to make sure your diet includes foods (such as animal foods and eggs) rich in the sulfur amino acids your cells need to synthesize glutathione.

7. Green leafy vegetables: Kale, swiss chard, beet greens and spinach provide important nutrients to support bone health, eye health, and even prevent cancer. Spirulina provides high levels of anti-oxidants including polythenols. This super anti-oxidant is a powerhouse weapon against pre-mature aging.

8. Frankincense: Essential oils like frankincense and myrrh, sandalwood are great anti-aging remedies. They are high in antioxidants and contain compounds that naturally balance hormones and reduce cellular damage. Taking frankincense internally 2 drops daily in water can slow the aging process as well as using this homemade natural anti-aging serum before bed.

9. Blueberries: A study published by Tufts University showed that anthocyanins in blueberries (the pigments that give them their deep color), appear to combat oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is one of the main causes of aging. Anthocyanins also aid your brain in the production of dopamine, a chemical that is critical to coordination, memory function, and your mood. Blueberries are low in sugar, but it’s still best to eat them in moderation to keep your insulin levels from spiking. And as with all fruits and vegetables, try to buy organic. Other varieties of berries like cherries, acai, black raspberries, strawberry and cranberry also have powerful healing and disease-prevention properties.

Things you must stop doing to naturally slow aging

1. Stop drinking sodas. All colas, whether diet or regular, contain phosphates, or phosphoric acid, a weak acid that can lead to heart and kidney problems, muscle loss, and osteoporosis, and one study suggests it could trigger accelerated aging. The study, published in a 2010 issue of the FASEB Journal, found that the excessive phosphate levels found in sodas causes lab rats to die a full five weeks earlier than the rats whose diets had more normal phosphate levels. Read more: Drinking soda makes your cells age faster

2. Wear less makeup. A 2013 study appearing in the journal ‘Environmental Health Perspectives’ found that paraben chemicals commonly used in personal care products and pharmaceuticals act as estrogenic hormone disruptors, throwing normal female fertility into a premature aging process. Women with higher urine levels of parabens experienced changes in ovarian functioning on par with accelerated aging of eggs. 

3. Stop sugar. A lifetime of over indulgence in sugar may eventual show up on your face in the form of early wrinkles. The culprit is the natural process called glycation, where sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins to form harmful new molecules called advanced glycation end products, known in short, ironically, as AGEs. Eating more sugar—straight up added sugars like the tablespoons you dump into your coffee every morning, or secret sugars hiding out in ‘healthy’ salad dressing and sweeter-than-candy-bar yogurt—causes more AGEs to build up and beat up nearby proteins. Most vulnerable to damage are the protein fibers collagen and elastin, which keep skin firm and elastic. Once they’re damaged, these fibers go from springy and resilient to dry and brittle, leading to wrinkles and sagging. These age-related changes to the skin start at about age 35 and increase rapidly after that, according to a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

4. Stop smoking. Cigarette smoke is one of the most potent aging products out there, thanks to its 4,000 potentical toxicants. Chronic exposure is linked to a slew of age-related diseases, including hardening of the arteries, pulmonary fibrosis, and other diseases.

5. Don’t swap traditional smokes for e-cigarettes. Resist the temptation to ease off of traditional cigarettes using electronic cigarettes. The aerosol devices are under Food and Drug Administration scrutiny for various health threats. E-cigerettes often spew benzene, the same aging compound emitted from most scented candles. Plus, carcinogens and reproductive toxins like formaldehyde, lead, cadmium, and nickel have also been detected in e-cig aerosols.

6. Stop burning scented candles. Researchers from Trends in Molecular Medicine have discovered several probable “gerontogens,” environmental factors that speed up the aging process. Your favorite scented candle could be making you age faster than normal. Most scented candles are made with paraffin wax and scented with synthetic fragrances, both of which are derived from petroleum. By burning paraffin wax or scented soy wax candles inside of a house, various cancer-causing, age-accelerating chemicals like benzene (dubbed a gerontogen) and toluene are released. Toxic candle soot can linger for extended periods of time all around your house, even accumulating in your air filter. To avoid this, skip candles and simply open windows to fill your home with fresh air. When you do burn candles, make sure they are made of 100 percent beeswax with cotton wicks for much cleaner burning.

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