Category Archives: Studies

Diet Study: The Top 250 U.S. Movies Depict Unhealthy Foods & Drinks (Stanford)

Stanford researchers examined the 250 top-grossing American movies of recent decades and found the on-screen foods and beverages largely failed U.S. government nutrition recommendations and U.K. youth advertising standards.

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Health: Three Exercise Benefits For The Brain

Memory

Many studies suggest that exercise can help protect our memory as we age. This is because exercise has been shown to prevent the loss of total brain volume (which can lead to lower cognitive function), as well as preventing shrinkage in specific brain regions associated with memory. For example, one magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan study revealed that in older adults, six months of exercise training increases brain volume.

Another study showed that shrinkage of the hippocampus (a brain region essential for learning and memory) in older people can be reversed by regular walking. This change was accompanied by improved memory function and an increase of the protein brain-derived neutropic factor (BDNF) in the bloodstream.

Blood vessels

The brain is highly dependent on blood flow, receiving approximately 15% of the body’s entire supply – despite being only 2-3% of our body’s total mass. This is because our nervous tissues need a constant supply of oxygen to function and survive. When neurons become more active, blood flow in the region where these neurons are located increases to meet demand. As such, maintaining a healthy brain depends on maintaining a healthy network of blood vessels.

Regular exercise increases the growth of new blood vessels in the brain regions where neurogenesis occurs, providing the increased blood supply that supports the development of these new neurons. Exercise also improves the health and function of existing blood vessels, ensuring that brain tissue consistently receives adequate blood supply to meet its needs and preserve its function.

Inflammation

Recently, a growing body of research has centred on microglia, which are the resident immune cells of the brain. Their main function is to constantly check the brain for potential threats from microbes or dying or damaged cells, and to clear any damage they find.

With age, normal immune function declines and chronic, low-level inflammation occurs in body organs, including the brain, where it increases risk of neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease. As we age, microglia become less efficient at clearing damage, and less able to prevent disease and inflammation. This means neuroinflammation can progress, impairing brain functions – including memory.

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Infographic: Exercise For ‘Claudication’ (BMJ Study)

Exercise training is a safe, effective and low-cost intervention for improving walking ability in patients with IC. Additional benefits may include improvements in QoL, muscle strength and cardiorespiratory fitness. Clinical guidelines advocate supervised exercise training as a primary therapy for IC, with walking as the primary modality.

However, evidence is emerging for the role of various other modes of exercise including cycling and progressive resistance training to supplement walking training. In addition, there is emerging evidence for home-based exercise programmes. Revascularisation or drug treatment options should only be considered in patients if exercise training provides insufficient symptomatic relief.

Abstract

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is caused by atherosclerotic narrowing of the arteries supplying the lower limbs often resulting in intermittent claudication, evident as pain or cramping while walking. Supervised exercise training elicits clinically meaningful benefits in walking ability and quality of life. Walking is the modality of exercise with the strongest evidence and is recommended in several national and international guidelines. Alternate forms of exercise such as upper- or lower-body cycling may be used, if required by certain patients, although there is less evidence for these types of programmes. The evidence for progressive resistance training is growing and patients can also engage in strength-based training alongside a walking programme. For those unable to attend a supervised class (strongest evidence), home-based or ‘self-facilitated’ exercise programmes are known to improve walking distance when compared to simple advice. All exercise programmes, independent of the mode of delivery, should be progressive and individually prescribed where possible, considering disease severity, comorbidities and initial exercise capacity. All patients should aim to accumulate at least 30 min of aerobic activity, at least three times a week, for at least 3 months, ideally in the form of walking exercise to near-maximal claudication pain.

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Study: “Anti-Inflamatory” Diet Of Vegetables, Fruits, Coffee & Tea Lowers Heart Disease And Stroke Risks

Dietary patterns with a higher proinflammatory potential were associated with higher CVD risk. Reducing the inflammatory potential of the diet may potentially provide an effective strategy for CVD prevention.

Background

Inflammation plays an important role in cardiovascular disease (CVD) development. Diet modulates inflammation; however, it remains unknown whether dietary patterns with higher inflammatory potential are associated with long-term CVD risk.

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Healthy Longevity: ‘The Science Of Aging’ (Salk Institute Video)

“Aging is such a profound part of not only the human experience but all life on Earth,” says Salk Vice President/Chief Science Officer Martin Hetzer. “It’s one of the big, untapped opportunities in biomedical research, particularly around questions on what role exercise, nutrition and cognitive stimulation play in staying healthy throughout life. It is important not to forget that getting older also comes with benefits; we want to take a holistic view of human health at all ages and understand it from all angles.”

Scientists want to answer intriguing questions: Why are some people able to “age well,” trekking up mountain ranges or rafting through white water in their nineties, while others live just as long, disease-free, but grow inexplicably frail decades sooner? Worse yet, why does advanced age sometimes diminish cognitive ability or even lead to dementia?

In numerous diseases, age itself is the major risk factor. Cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and many other afflictions become profoundly more likely the older we get. Aside from extending our life spans, scientists want to know how we can also extend our health during advanced age. What is emerging from research is that aging–loosely defined as a systems-wide deterioration of our cells, organs and genetic material that results in disease or damage–is a collective and complex process in the body.

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Health Studies: 80% Of Married Couples Share Heart Disease Risks, Poor Health Lifestyles (JAMA)

OCTOBER 26, 2020

In this cross-sectional study of 5364 couples consisting of employees and spouses (or domestic partners) undergoing an annual employer-sponsored health assessment, 79% of the couples were in the nonideal category of a CV health score. This within-couple concordance of nonideal CV health scores was associated mostly with unhealthy diet and inadequate physical activity.

The study included 10 728 participants (5364 couples): 7% were African American, 11% Hispanic, 21% Asian, and 54% White (median [interquartile range] age, 50 [41-57] years for men and 47 [39-55] for women). For most couples, both members were in the ideal category or both were in a nonideal category.

Concordance ranged from 53% (95% CI, 52%-54%) for cholesterol to 95% (95% CI, 94%-95%) for diet. For the CV health score, in 79% (95% CI, 78%-80%) of couples both members were in a nonideal category, which was associated mainly with unhealthy diet (94% [95% CI, 93%-94%] of couples) and inadequate exercise (53% [95% CI, 52%-55%] of couples). However, in most couples, both members were in the ideal category for smoking status (60% [95% CI, 59%-61%] of couples) and glucose (56% [95% CI, 55%-58%]).

Except for total cholesterol, when 1 member of a couple was in the ideal category, the other member was likely also to be in the ideal category: the adjusted odds ratios for also being in the ideal category ranged from 1.3 (95% CI, 1.1-1.5; P ≤ .001) for blood pressure to 10.6 (95% CI, 7.4-15.3; P ≤ .001) for diet. Concordance differed by ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and geographic location.

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Infographic: ’12 Dementia Risk Factors’ (The Lancet)

Executive summary

The number of older people, including those living with dementia, is rising, as younger age mortality declines. However, the age-specific incidence of dementia has fallen in many countries, probably because of improvements in education, nutrition, health care, and lifestyle changes.

Overall, a growing body of evidence supports the nine potentially modifiable risk factors for dementia modelled by the 2017 Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention, and care: less education, hypertension, hearing impairment, smoking, obesity, depression, physical inactivity, diabetes, and low social contact.

We now add three more risk factors for dementia with newer, convincing evidence. These factors are excessive alcohol consumption, traumatic brain injury, and air pollution. We have completed new reviews and meta-analyses and incorporated these into an updated 12 risk factor life-course model of dementia prevention. Together the 12 modifiable risk factors account for around 40% of worldwide dementias, which consequently could theoretically be prevented or delayed.

The potential for prevention is high and might be higher in low-income and middle-income countries (LMIC) where more dementias occur. Our new life-course model and evidence synthesis has paramount worldwide policy implications. It is never too early and never too late in the life course for dementia prevention. Early-life (younger than 45 years) risks, such as less education, affect cognitive reserve; midlife (45–65 years), and later-life (older than 65 years) risk factors influence reserve and triggering of neuropathological developments.

Culture, poverty, and inequality are key drivers of the need for change. Individuals who are most deprived need these changes the most and will derive the highest benefit.

Read full Dementia Study and Report

Covid-19 Infographic: ‘Exercise Is Medicine’ (BMJ)

There are over 35,000,000 reported cases of COVID-19 disease and 1 000 000 deaths across more than 200 countries worldwide.1 With cases continuing to rise and a robust vaccine not yet available for safe and widespread delivery, lifestyle adaptations will be needed for the foreseeable future. As we try to contain the spread of the virus, adults are spending more time at home. Recent evidence2 suggests that physical activity levels have decreased by ~30% and sitting time has increased by ~30%. This is a major concern as physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour are risk factors3 for cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, bone and joint disease, depression and premature death.

To date, more than 130 authors from across the world have provided COVID-19-related commentary on these concerns. Many experts4 have emphasised the importance of increasing healthy living behaviours and others5 have indicated that we are now simultaneously fighting not one but two pandemics (ie, COVID-19, physical inactivity). Physical inactivity alone results in over 3 million deaths per year5 and a global burden of US$50 billion.6 Immediate action is required to facilitate physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic because it is an effective form of medicine3 to promote good health, prevent disease and bolster immune function. Accordingly, widespread messaging to keep adults physically active is of paramount importance.

Several organisations including the WHO, American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine have offered initial suggestions and resources for engaging in physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Expanding on these resources, our infographic aims to present a comprehensive illustration for promoting daily physical activity to the lay audience during the COVID-19 pandemic (figure 1). As illustrated, adults are spending more time at home, moving less and sitting more. Physical activity provides numerous health benefits, some of which may even help directly combat the effects of COVID-19. For substantial health benefits, adults should engage in 150–300 min of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity each week and limit the time spent sitting. The recommended levels of physical activity are safely attainable even at home. Using a combination of both formal and informal activities, 150 min can be reached during the week with frequent sessions of physical activity spread throughout the day. Sedentary behaviour can be further reduced by breaking up prolonged sitting with short active breaks. In summary, this infographic offers as an evidence-based tool for public health officials, clinicians, educators and policymakers to communicate the importance of engaging in physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Infographic: ‘Functional Neurological Disorder’ – Signs & Symptoms (BMJ)

What you need to know

  • Functional neurological disorder (FND) is associated with considerable distress and disability. The symptoms are not faked
  • Diagnose FND positively on the basis of typical clinical features. It is not a diagnosis of exclusion
  • FND can be diagnosed and treated in presence of comorbid, pathophysiologically defined disease
  • Psychological stressors are important risk factors but are neither necessary nor sufficient for the diagnosis

Functional disorders are conditions whose origin arises primarily from a disorder of nervous system functioning rather than clearly identifiable pathophysiological disease—such as irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and functional neurological disorder (FND)—they are the second commonest reason for new neurology consultations.1 FND is common in emergency settings,2 stroke,3 and rehabilitation services.4 It causes considerable physical disability and distress, and often places an economic burden both on patients and health services.5 Many clinicians have had little formal clinical education on the assessment and management of these disorders, and patients are often not offered potentially effective treatments.

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Health: ‘Diabetes And Chronic Kidney Disease’ – New Guidelines (OCt 2020)

Comprehensive care in patients with diabetes and CKD

Management of CKD in diabetes can be challenging and complex, and a multidisciplinary team should be involved (doctors, nurses, dietitians, educators, etc). Patient participation is important for self-management and to participate in shared decision-making regarding the management plan. (Practice point).

We recommend that treatment with an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEi) or an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) be initiated in patients with diabetes, hypertension, and albuminuria, and that these medications be titrated to the highest approved dose that is tolerated (1B).

Lifestyle interventions in patients with diabetes and CKD

We suggest maintaining a protein intake of 0.8 g protein/kg)/d for those with diabetes and CKD not treated with dialysis (2C).

On the amount of proteins recommended in these guidelines, they suggest (‘recommend’ becomes a ‘suggest’ at this level of evidence) a very precise  intake of 0.8g/kg/d in patients with diabetes and CKD. Lower dietary protein intake has been hypothesized but never proven to reduce glomerular hyperfiltration and slow progression of CKD, however in patients with diabetes, limiting protein intake below 0.8g/kg/d can be translated into a decreased caloric content, significant weight loss and quality of life. Malnutrition from protein and calorie deficit is possible.

Physical activity

We recommend that patients with diabetes and CKD be advised to undertake moderate-intensity physical activity for a cumulative duration of at least 150 minutes per week, or to a level compatible with their cardiovascular and physical tolerance (1D).

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