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For August 14, 2020

  • Melatonin-Aging
    Melatonin-Aging

    Contrary to popular belief, melatonin levels probably do not decline with age, according to a new study. Many advertisements for melatonin supplements target older people and encourage them to take these supplements to restore amounts of the hormone said to be lost with aging. Older Americans who follow this advice, however, have responded to a false sales pitch, according to the new study that contradicts the popular notion that melatonin levels in older people decline with age.

    The study led by Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, studied 34 healthy older men and women ranging in age from 64 to 81. It found that their nighttime melatonin levels did not differ significantly from those of 98 younger men ages 18 to 30. As part of the their participation in the study, each person spent three days and three nights isolated under carefully controlled conditions in a sleep laboratory at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Participants maintained their normal sleep schedules, and scientists took blood samples in order to assess melatonin production. Participants had to forego alcohol, caffeine and nicotine, and were also asked to keep a sleep journal.

    ``In our analysis, we did not find any statistically significant difference in nighttime melatonin concentrations between younger and older subjects,'' said Czeisler. ``This means that in most healthy people, concentrations of melatonin in plasma probably do not decline with aging.''

    The study appears in the November issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

    Read More...
  • The Supermeal
    The Supermeal

    Remember how Mom always used to warn you "Skip breakfast and you're asking for a tidal wave of neuropeptide Y two hours after lunch"? Okay, maybe she didn't put it so technically. But she undoubtedly said that breakfast is the most critical meal of the day.

    Nutrition researchers, of course, reached the same conclusion long ago. Skipping breakfast, they found, can slow your metabolic rate. In fact, studies from the Mayo Clinic show that breakfast eaters burn up to 150 more calories per day than do those people who don't eat breakfast. Also, "eating breakfast is a good way to short-circuit after-lunch cravings," says Dr. Wayne Callaway, a nutritionist at the Mayo Clinic. Researchers have found that when underfed lab rats are finally given a meal, levels of neuropeptide Y -- the neurotransmitter that triggers the snacking impulse -- skyrocket, causing the animals to binge even though they're full. And studies of schoolkids have shown that skipping breakfast can turn your thinking to mush. Breakfast truly is, as the Zulus call it, indlakusasa, or the "strength meal." Here are some simple ways to maximize its benefits.

    Follow the 25 percent rule. Breakfast should account for at least a quarter of your daily calories, says Callaway. Some men do better by dividing the day's allotment into thirds, while others prefer a breakfast-lunch-dinner ratio of 30-40-30. No matter which pattern works best for you, he says, if you can adhere to it for three weeks, your appetite will naturally "lock on" to the routine. How much food are we talking about? Consider this example: If a 30-year-old man weighs 160 pounds, stands 5 foot 10, and works out regularly, he'll burn about 2,640 calories a day. He could eat 2 pieces of whole-grain toast with a teaspoon of margarine and 2 tablespoons of honey (322 calories); 1 cup of Wheaties with a half-cup of skim milk (144 calories); 5 strips of bacon (163 calories); 1 banana (116 calories); 1 cup of coffee with whole milk (20 calories); and 4 ounces of orange juice (56 calories). The total: 821 calories, or 31 percent of his daily fuel requirement.

    Eat carbs first. When you sleep, your body is in a fasting state; to fuel metabolism and brain function, it uses carbohydrates stored as glycogen. So when you wake up, "your body still has plenty of fat to burn, but what you don't have is very many carbohydrates," explains James Hill, Ph.D., the associate director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado in Denver. Refuel with a breakfast that is high in carbohydrates -- whole-grain cereal and toast or a bagel, plus a piece of fruit. Choose whole grains. High-fiber, whole-grain carbohydrates contain more nutrients than refined, processed ones do, and they'll make you feel fuller for longer periods. Select whole-wheat toast, hot oatmeal, or a cold cereal, such as bran flakes or shredded wheat, with at least five grams of fiber per serving.

    Have some java. Caffeine increases the production of dopamine and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters involved in mental acuity, says Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., a cognitive-science researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Wurtman, the author of Managing Your Mind & Mood Through Food, calls caffeinated beverages "probably the most potent mind-alerting component of breakfast." Just a cup or two should do the trick.

    Catch a protein lift. Wurtman believes that a breakfast delivering at least an ounce of protein can enhance mental function by providing the brain with tyrosine, a chemical necessary for alertness. You can get that from one cup of yogurt or from a two-egg omelet.

    By: Jim Thornton

    Originally featured in Men's Journal

    Read More...
  • The Supermeal
    The Supermeal

    Remember how Mom always used to warn you "Skip breakfast and you're asking for a tidal wave of neuropeptide Y two hours after lunch"? Okay, maybe she didn't put it so technically. But she undoubtedly said that breakfast is the most critical meal of the day.

    Nutrition researchers, of course, reached the same conclusion long ago. Skipping breakfast, they found, can slow your metabolic rate. In fact, studies from the Mayo Clinic show that breakfast eaters burn up to 150 more calories per day than do those people who don't eat breakfast. Also, "eating breakfast is a good way to short-circuit after-lunch cravings," says Dr. Wayne Callaway, a nutritionist at the Mayo Clinic. Researchers have found that when underfed lab rats are finally given a meal, levels of neuropeptide Y -- the neurotransmitter that triggers the snacking impulse -- skyrocket, causing the animals to binge even though they're full. And studies of school kids have shown that skipping breakfast can turn your thinking to mush. Breakfast truly is, as the Zulus call it, indlakusasa, or the "strength meal." Here are some simple ways to maximize its benefits.

  • Follow the 25 percent rule.
  • Breakfast should account for at least a quarter of your daily calories, says Callaway. Some men do better by dividing the day's allotment into thirds, while others prefer a breakfast-lunch-dinner ratio of 30-40-30. No matter which pattern works best for you, he says, if you can adhere to it for three weeks, your appetite will naturally "lock on" to the routine. How much food are we talking about? Consider this example: If a 30-year-old man weighs 160 pounds, stands 5 foot 10, and works out regularly, he'll burn about 2,640 calories a day. He could eat 2 pieces of whole-grain toast with a teaspoon of margarine and 2 tablespoons of honey (322 calories); 1 cup of Wheaties with a half-cup of skim milk (144 calories); 5 strips of bacon (163 calories); 1 banana (116 calories); 1 cup of coffee with whole milk (20 calories); and 4 ounces of orange juice (56 calories). The total: 821 calories, or 31 percent of his daily fuel requirement.

  • Eat carbs first.
  • When you sleep, your body is in a fasting state; to fuel metabolism and brain function, it uses carbohydrates stored as glycogen. So when you wake up, "your body still has plenty of fat to burn, but what you don't have is very many carbohydrates," explains James Hill, Ph.D., the associate director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado in Denver. Refuel with a breakfast that is high in carbohydrates -- whole-grain cereal and toast or a bagel, plus a piece of fruit.

  • Choose whole grains.
  • High-fiber, whole-grain carbohydrates contain more nutrients than refined, processed ones do, and they'll make you feel fuller for longer periods. Select whole-wheat toast, hot oatmeal, or a cold cereal, such as bran flakes or shredded wheat, with at least five grams of fiber per serving.

  • Have some java.
  • Caffeine increases the production of dopamine and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters involved in mental acuity, says Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., a cognitive-science researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Wurtman, the author of Managing Your Mind & Mood Through Food, calls caffeinated beverages "probably the most potent mind-alerting component of breakfast." Just a cup or two should do the trick.

  • Catch a protein lift.
  • Wurtman believes that a breakfast delivering at least an ounce of protein can enhance mental function by providing the brain with tyrosine, a chemical necessary for alertness. You can get that from one cup of yogurt or from a two-egg omelet.

    From Mensjournal.com, by Jim Thornton

Read More...
  • Study: Snoring Device Helps Couples
    Study: Snoring Device Helps Couples

    Gadget May Help More Wives Get Quality ZZZ�s

    (MSNBC Health) � ROCHESTER, Minn., Oct. 4 1999 � Research published Monday backs up what many wives have said for years � while their partners snore away, they�re left counting sheep. But a new device may offer some relief.

    INVESTIGATORS AT the Mayo Clinic studied 10 married couples in which the husband was being checked for obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing recurrently stops and starts as someone snores. Scientists monitored the sleep of patients and their spouses simultaneously, measuring the number of disordered breathing episodes in the patient and the number of sleep interruptions of the partner. They also checked the percentage of time each person spent sleeping.

    Results showed that when the husbands were fitted with an oxygen mask-like device that stopped snoring and irregular breathing episodes, wives on average got more than one hour extra sleep. �As we suspected, the spouses experienced significant improvements in sleep quality when their husbands were treated with the device,� said John Shepard, medical director at the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center and senior author of the study. �The average percentage of time that spouses spent sleeping increased from 74 percent to 87 percent, which adds more than an extra hour of sleep per night.�

    The research, published in the October issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, noted that obstructive sleep apnea is considered serious because it raises blood pressure and strains the cardiovascular system. It also makes uninterrupted sleep impossible for patients and bed partners, the article said.

    There are several other possible cures for snoring, but none are considered 100 percent effective. One such contraption consists of a molded mouthpiece to pull the lower jaw and tongue forward, opening the airway.

    The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

    Read More...
  • Blueberries: An anti-aging boost for the body?
    Blueberries: An anti-aging boost for the body?

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- A secret of youth may be as close as a nearby farm or the supermarket shelves: blueberries.

    Elderly rats fed the human equivalent of at least half a cup of blueberries a day improved in balance, coordination and short-term memory, a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience said. A cup of blueberries is a normal serving.

    Like other fruits and vegetables, blueberries contain chemicals that act as antioxidants. Scientists believe antioxidants protect the body against "oxidative stress," one of several biological processes that cause aging.

    People "are told that once you're old, there's nothing you can do. That might not be true," said Barbara Shukitt-Hale, who co-authored the study at the Agriculture Department's Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.

    Improving balance and coordination

    Blueberries, strawberries and spinach all test high in their ability to subdue molecules called oxygen free radicals, which are created when cells convert oxygen into energy. In normal amounts, free radicals help rid the body of toxins, but they can also harm cell membranes and DNA, which results in cell deaths.

    The Tufts study said strawberry and spinach extract produced some improvement in memory, but only blueberry extract had a significant impact on balance and coordination.

    Other studies have suggested that antioxidants in fruits and vegetables could prevent cancer and heart disease. Previous research by the Tufts scientists indicated that antioxidants slowed down the aging process in rats that started taking the dietary supplement at 6 months of age. Their latest study was the first to show antioxidants can actually reverse age-related declines, they said.

    The blueberry advantage

    They don't know why blueberries were more effective than strawberries and spinach or exactly how the chemicals work in the laboratory animals.

    "Fruits and vegetables in general are very good for you. That's without question ... It's another thing to know why," said Marcelle Morrison-Bogorad, who directs the neuroscience and neuropsychology program at the National Institute of Aging.

    Clinical trials need to be done to see whether humans could benefit, she said. The institute, which helped finance the Tufts research, already is sponsoring studies to test the effect of vitamin E, another antioxidant, aspirin and B vitamins on the mental processes of older women.

    The rats used in the Tufts study were 19 months old, the equivalent of 65 to 70 years in humans.

    Mice and mazes

    They begin losing motor skills at 12 months. By 19 months, the time it takes a rat to walk a narrow rod before losing its balance drops from 13 seconds to 5 seconds. After eating daily doses of blueberry extract for eight weeks, the rats could stay on the rod for an average of 11 seconds.

    They also performed better in negotiating mazes, as did those fed strawberry and spinach extracts, which signals improved short-term memory. But the subjects on the strawberry and spinach diet were no better at staying on the rod than rats who got no fruit extract.

    The scientists believe the antioxidants improve cell membranes so that important nutrients and chemicals can flow through more easily.

    James Joseph, one of the Tufts scientists, starts his day by mixing a handful of berries in a protein drink. "Motor behavior is one of the first things to go as you age," he said.

    Read More...
  • Values of the VersaClimber vs. a Stair Machine
    Values of the VersaClimber vs. a Stair Machine

    How Does a VersaClimber Compare to a Stair Machine?

    (MSNBC Health, September 14 1999) � Both a VersaClimber and a stair machine provide an excellent cardiovascular workout and will tone muscles and increase endurance. However, the VersaClimber � a machine with two pedal platforms and two handgrips that coordinate as you step up and down, like climbing a ladder � works the upper body in addition to the legs. It also requires more strength and coordination because it uses the upper body and legs at the same time.

    The VersaClimber is a challenging machine to use, even for the very fit. By comparison, a stair climber has no arm attachments and is easier to use. It won�t tire you out as easily.

    If you have the coordination and strength, the VersaClimber could burn more calories for you in the same amount of time that you spend on a stair machine � but you�ll need to use either one consistently to reap the benefits.

    Read More...
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