|Diet and Exercise
|Fruits, Vegetables & Memory
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables not only makes you healthier but
may also help keep your memory strong, says a study. A team of researchers
led by Heidi Wengreen at the Utah State University tested the memory of
over 5,000 seniors up to four times over an eight-year period. The group
of seniors with the highest intake of fruits and vegetables, five or more
servings a day, scored higher on the test than the rest of the participants.
Moreover, those who nibbled on plenty of veggies and fruits were able to
maintain their memory over time. Higher intake of fruits and vegetables
may protect memory. Eating more fruits and vegetables in your later
years offers benefits to both body and mind. Earlier the same research group
also found that taking daily vitamin E and C supplements cuts the risk of
Fish, the Toxic Risk on Your
Supermarkets throughout the Chicago area are routinely selling seafood
highly contaminated with mercury, a toxic metal that can cause learning disabilities
in children and neurological problems in adults, a Tribune investigation
has found, in one of the nation's most comprehensive studies of mercury in
commercial fish. Testing by the newspaper showed that a variety
of popular seafood was so tainted that federal regulators could confiscate
the fish for violating food safety rules. The testing also showed that
mercury is more pervasive in fish than what the government has told the public,
making it difficult for consumers to avoid the problem, no matter where they
shop. Full Story at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/specials/chi-mercury-3-story,0,4192281.story.
For young children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and women who could
get pregnant--some fish might do more harm than good. Mercury can damage
the central nervous system of children, causing subtle delays in walking
and talking as well as decreased attention span and memory. Adults
can experience headaches, fatigue, numbness in the hands and feet, and a
lack of concentration. Some studies suggest that men also face an increased
risk of heart attacks. No one knows how many people in the U.S. have been
harmed by mercury in fish. But a recent government study estimated 410,000
babies are born each year at risk for mercury poisoning because of high levels
in their mothers' bodies.
Mercury is a metallic element (Hg) that occurs naturally in rock and soil,
and is released into oceans by underwater volcanoes. It also is released
into the environment from the burning of fossil fuels, including coal. Bacteria
in water convert the metal into a toxic form known as methylmercury, which
becomes more concentrated and dangerous as it moves up the food chain. Cooking
does not remove mercury from fish because the metal is bound to the meat.
For example, a piece of tuna will have the same amount of mercury whether
it is eaten raw as sushi or cooked on the grill.
Because mercury passes easily through the placenta and can harm the developing
central nervous system, fetuses and young children are most vulnerable to
its effects. So pregnant women, nursing mothers, women of childbearing age
and young children should not eat large fish
Shopping at supermarkets, health food stores and gourmet fish shops is
not safer. Because mercury is ubiquitous in the world's oceans, and once
it gets into fish it cannot be removed, it likely does not matter who catches
the fish, processes it or sells it. There is no evidence that buying premium
brands helps. Whole Foods Market, which bills itself as the world's leading
retailer of natural foods, said its seafood likely has as much mercury as
fish sold elsewhere. "It's a global problem," said spokeswoman Ashley Hawkins.
Mercury does not stay in the body forever. It takes about six months to
a year to leave the bloodstream once exposure stops. However, mercury
can permanently damage the nervous system in children.
The symptoms of mercury poisoning:
For small children:
Subtle decreases in learning abilities
Delays in walking and talking
Decreases in attention or memory
Numbness in hands and feet
Loss of concentration, coordination or memory
Sources: EPA, FDA, California Office of Environmental Health
Hazard Assessment, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Dr. Jane Hightower
and Chicago Tribune
The tea, discovered in China nearly 5,000 years ago, has long been thought
to have health benefits. A few cups of tea every day may lower the risk of
ovarian cancer, finds a Swedish study published in the Archives of Internal
Medicine. Women who reported drinking two or more cups of
tea per day were 46% less likely to develop ovarian cancer compared to women
who never drank tea. Women who drank less than two cups of tea also saw
a benefit, although it was not as great. Tea type was not specified, but
most of the subjects reported drinking black tea. There could
be factors other than tea itself that affected the women's ovarian cancer
risk, such as tea drinkers could have had healthier lifestyles than the other
If you suffer from gum disease, you may find that eating grapefruit significantly
reduces bleeding. Researchers from the Friedrich Schiller University, Germany,
discovered that people with gum disease experienced much less bleeding (of
the gums) if they ate two grapefruits a day for two weeks. Smoking is associated
with a much higher incidence of gum disease. It was advised not to brush
teeth immediately after consuming the grapefruits. This is because citrus
fruits are acidic and can weaken tooth enamel making it susceptible to erosion.
You can read about this study in the British Dental Journal. www.nature.com/bdj/index.html
Diabetes, Obesity and Alzheimer's
A team at the University of California, San Diego found eating lots of fat
blocks production of an enzyme key to the production of the hormone insulin.
Details are published in the journal Cell.
The number of people with diabetes has soared to over two million in the
UK. Of these, the vast majority - about 1.7 million - have the type
2 diabetes, which is associated with obesity. Morinaga Milk Industry has
announced the results of its latest research on aloe barbadensis leaf. The
company has conducted a trial that covers 70 people who are diagnosed as
borderline diabetic. The trial results indicate that a regular intake
of aloe barbadensis gel has helped reduce the levels of fasting blood sugar
and glycated hemoglobin. Accordingly, the company concludes that aloe barbadensis
leaf may play a role in preventing and improving diabetes. Details
of the research will be presented at the 40th Annual Meeting of the
Japan Society of Adult Diseases to be held in January 2006.
If heart disease and diabetes aren’t bad enough, now comes another reason
to watch your weight. According to a study just released, packing on too
many pounds can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
A team led by researchers at the Farber Institute for Neurosciences at Thomas
Jefferson University in Philadelphia and Edith Cowan University in Joondalup,
Western Australia has shown that being extremely overweight or obese increases
the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s. They found a strong correlation
between body mass index and high levels of beta-amyloid, the sticky protein
substance that builds up in the Alzheimer’s brain and is thought to play
a major role in destroying nerve cells and in cognitive and behavioral problems
associated with the disease.
A compound isolated from a cyanobacterium, a type of blue-green algae known
as Nostoc, shows promise of becoming a natural drug candidate for fighting
Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases, according to an in vitro
study by researchers in Switzerland. It is believed to be the first time
that a potent agent against Alzheimer's has been isolated from cyanobacteria,
commonly known as 'pond scum.' The study was published in the
Dec. 26 issue of the Journal of Natural Products.
A daily dose of vitamin D could cut the risk of cancers of the breast, colon
and ovary by up to a half, a 40-year review of research has found. The evidence
for the protective effect of the "sunshine vitamin" is so overwhelming that
urgent action must be taken by public health authorities to boost blood levels,
say cancer specialists. A growing body of evidence in recent years
has shown that lack of vitamin D may have lethal effects. Heart disease,
lung disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, schizophrenia and multiple
sclerosis are among the conditions in which it is believed to play a vital
role. The vitamin is also essential for bone health and protects against
rickets in children and osteoporosis in the elderly.
The findings from America are controversial because very high doses of Vitamin
D can have serious side-effects. More than 2,000 IU - 50 micrograms - a day
can lead to the body absorbing too much calcium, possibly damaging the liver
and kidneys. Dark-skinned people may need more exposure to produce adequate
amounts of vitamin D, and some fair-skinned people shouldn't try to get any
vitamin D from the sun because of the danger of skin cancer. The easiest
and most reliable way of getting the appropriate amount is from food and
a daily supplement. The findings have been published in the American Journal
of Public Health, published on-line December 27, 2005 and to be printed in
the February 2006. To learn more about vitamin D, visit the National Institutes
Exposure to ultraviolet B (UV-B) light was associated with an increased risk
of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma skin cancers, but not
melanoma, new research suggests. The study appears in the Dec. 21 issue of
the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Alcohol Causes Bone Loss
Bone loss is an often-overlooked consequence of drinking, but recent research
has illuminated how alcohol takes a toll on the bones, according to a new
report. In a review of cell, animal and human studies, Dr. Dennis A.
Chakkalakal of the Omaha VA Medical Centre in Nebraska describes how drinking
leads to bone loss, higher risk of fractures and slower healing of bone breaks.
The main problem appears to be that alcohol inhibits the normal formation
of new bone, Chakkalakal reports in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical
& Experimental Research.
Bickering in Marital Life is Unhealthy
A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that
spouses in hostile relationships had consistently elevated stress levels
that affected wound healing. Researchers looked at married couples, primarily
white, well-educated spouses, age 22 to 77, who had been married an average
of 13 years. The researchers found that blisters healed more slowly following
argumentative conversations than after supportive discussions. The researchers
created blisters on the arms of each spouse, then removed the wounded skin
and covered the sores to measure healing. During the first session, the couples
were asked to participate in supportive discussions, while during the second
they discussed topics designed to provoke arguments. The sessions were videotaped
and analyzed for hostility, and the couples also answered questionnaires
on hostility levels and marital satisfaction. The couples' sores healed more
slowly after the argumentative session than the supportive one, the researchers
found, and the couples with a more all-around hostile relationship healed
more slowly in general than happier couples. Highly hostile couples, i.e.,
the couples who got along least, had healing rates that were only 60 percent
those of less hostile couples. Blood tests also revealed higher levels of
pro-inflammatory cytokines in couples following conflicts. Cytokines are
linked to a higher risk for a variety of health problems. The researchers
say their findings suggest that both short- and long-term stress in relationships
can negatively affect partners' health. There is a clear physiological cost
to chronic bickering that could have negative long-term consequences.
A new study finds that women who sleep well and have good friends have
low blood levels of a rather nasty molecule called interleukin-6, elevated
levels of which have been linked to diseases ranging from Alzheimer's disease
to rheumatoid arthritis to cancer. It's been known that poor sleep
quality is associated with higher levels of IL-6, which in turn are associated
with higher death rates. The findings appear in The Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences.
A large study of men age 55 and older adds to evidence that erectile dysfunction
(ED) can be a warning sign for heart disease. Men with ED were more
likely than other men to experience chest pain, a heart attack or a stroke
during the next seven years, the study found. The results suggest that
men who see their doctors for impotence drugs also should consider getting
screened for heart disease.
Cures Back Pain
Lower back pain is a common condition for which usual treatments (drugs
such as NSAIDs, pain-killers and muscle relaxants, and exercise) are only
modestly effective. The first major study of yoga for back pain, published
in Annals of Internal Medicine, shows that yoga is a viable option for reducing
pain. The yoga group in the study was supervised by a trained instructor
attuned to low-back pain and that successful treatment also requires that
patients practice regularly at home. Study finds that a yoga program was
more effective in treating lower back pain than another exercise program
or reading a book about low back pain. At 12 weeks, the yoga group
had better back function than the other exercise group or the education group,
although all reported about the same levels of pain. At 26 weeks, the yoga
group reported better back function and less pain than the other two groups.
The research study used Viniyoga, a type of gentle yoga with fairly simple
poses adapted for the individual, and attention to breathing.
A new study by a Cambridge team has found that passive smoking or living
with a smoker for five years can double the risk of the disease and regular
smoking can triple it, reported in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.
Mammalian Pheromones, the Sex Attractants
Male Asian elephants are famed for their annual bouts of heightened sexual
activity and aggression, called "musth", during which they produce a notoriously
pungent cocktail of chemicals to advertise their mating status. The researchers
found that more mature males impress females by including a balance of different
versions of a particular pheromone called frontalin, which exists in two
molecular "mirror-image" forms. The scientists found that the frontalin
is released by the elephants in specific ratios that depend on the animal's
age and stage of musth. Whether humans have the ability to communicate using
pheromones or not, the research into elephants is considered a significant
step forward in the understanding of this signaling in mammals. The aggressive
sexual activity of Asian elephants could be a key to understanding the human
sex sense, according to new research to be published in the international
science journal Nature.
Your Ancestry and Migration
In one project, spearheaded by National Geographic Society and IBM, participants
buy a kit for $99.95, scrape some skin cells from the inside of their cheek,
and send the samples in for analysis. Once the DNA is processed, participants
learn their haplogroup -- the specific branch on the tree of early human
migrations and genetic evolution that their maternal or paternal ancestors
belong to. They'll also get a map of the migration routes of those deep ancestors.
For more: http://www.technologyreview.com/BioTech/wtr_16085,312,p1.html
Early Puberty in American Girls
The age at which girls in the U.S.A. reach puberty is continuing to dip,
with heavier weights and changing national demographics playing important
roles, according to a new study. Research over the years has documented
a gradual decline in the average age at which U.S. girls have their first
menstrual period - from the age of 12.75 in the 1960s to about 12.5 in the
early 1990s. The new findings, published in the Journal of Pediatrics,
show that the trend has continued. National data for the years 1999 through
2002 put the average age at menarche - the first menstrual period - at just
over 12.3 years, researchers at Tufts University in Boston found. Exactly
why girls are reaching puberty earlier is unclear, but many experts find
it concerning for a number of reasons. For one, early menarche is linked
to an increased risk of breast and uterine cancers later in life, possibly
due to the greater lifetime exposure to estrogen. Then there are the questions
about what's causing the trend - including whether exposure to chemicals
that act as hormone "disruptors," such as PCBs and certain pesticides, is
involved. Researchers also suspect that the national jump in obesity and
excess weight is playing a role, as it's thought that body fat is important
in triggering and maintaining a woman's menstrual cycle.
Young women with type 1 or insulin-dependent diabetes are apt start menstruating
later than young women without diabetes, a study suggests in Journal of Clinical
Endocrinology and Metabolism, December 2005. The study also suggests a link
between increased levels of total glycosylated hemoglobin (GHb), a measure
of blood glucose control, and increased age at first menstruation (i.e.,
menarche). Better control of blood glucose levels in young women with diabetes
might bring the age of first menstruation in line with non-diabetic women.
Passion fruit Swirl
Ingredients: 300g / 2-1/2 cups, raspberries, 2 passion fruit /raspberries,
400g 1-2/3 cups low fat fromage frais, 30ml /2 tbsp caster sugar, raspberries
and sprigs of mint to decorate.
Direction: Mash the raspberries in a small bowl with a fork, until the
juice runs Scoop out the passion fruit pulp into a separate bowl with the
fromage frais and sugar and mix well. Spoon, alternate spoonfuls of
the raspberry pulp and the fromage frais mixture into stemmed glasses or
one large serving dish stirring lightly to create a swirled effect.
Decorate each dessert with a whole raspberry and a sprig of fresh mint Serve
Sauteed Spinach with Mushrooms
Ingredients: 1 tsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil, 1 1/2 cups sliced
mushrooms, 1 Vidalia onion, thinly sliced, 2 cloves garlic, sliced, 1 pkg.
(10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry 1/2 tsp. minced
ginger, 2 tsp. soy sauce.
Direction: In medium saucepan over low heat, warm olive oil and sesame
oil. Add mushrooms, onions and garlic. Sauté 15-20 minutes or until
onions and mushrooms are soft. Add spinach, ginger and soy sauce. Cover
and cook 10 minutes or until spinach is hot.
Ingredients: 8 servings ( 1 cup per servings ), 3 tablespoons canola oil,
4 leeks ( white part only ), washed well and chopped, 1/2 pound asparagus
cut into 1/2 inch pieces, 1/2 small yellow squash cut into 1/2 inch pieces,
4 ounces snow peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 4 cups of water,
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, 1 teaspoons freshly grated lemon peel.
Direction: Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add leeks and cook 2 minutes, until
softened stirring occasionally. Add asparagus and cook 2 minutes until color
brightens. Add squash and pea pods and cook 2 minutes or until squash begins
to soften. Add salt, pepper and water bring to a boil . Reduce heat
to low and simmer 5 minutes until vegetables are tender. Just before serving
stir in parsley and lemon peel.
The High Cost of Waiting
The biggest mistake you can make is assuming you don't have any money
to save. If you earn an income, it's simply a matter of how you're spending
it. You can put some money aside each month — if you make saving for your
future a priority. The longer you wait the more money you will need to save
each month to make up for lost time. See for an example: http://ww4.primerica.com/public/high_cost.html.
If you begin saving for your retirement early in your life, you'll have
to put aside much less money each month. If you wait until you're nearing
retirement, the amount you'll need to save each month could be near impossible.
The illustration at right shows you how time really is money. See for an
is an "interest-only" loan?
This material contains only general descriptions
and is not a solicitation to sell any insurance product or security, nor
is it intended as any financial, tax, medical or health care advice. For
information about specific needs or situations, contact your financial
agent or physician.
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|Source: The primary
sources cited above, New York Times
(NYT), Washington Post (WP), Mercury
News, Bayarea.com, Chicago Tribune, USA
Today, Intellihealthnews, Deccan Chronicle
(DC), the Hindu, Hindustan Times, Times
of India, AP, Reuters, AFP, womenfitness.net