Tag Archives: Healthy Lifestyle

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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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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Brain Research: 40% Of Dementia Cases Prevented With Lifestyle Changes

Dementia Risk Reduced by Lifestyle factors - USC Keck Medicine Infographic

“We are learning that tactics to avoid dementia begin early and continue throughout life, so it’s never too early or too late to take action,” says commission member and AAIC presenter Lon Schneider, MD, co-director of the USC Alzheimer Disease Research Center‘s clinical core and professor of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences and neurology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

LOS ANGELES — Modifying 12 risk factors over a lifetime could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases, according to an updated report by the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention and care presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC 2020).

Twenty-eight world-leading dementia experts added three new risk factors in the new report — excessive alcohol intake and head injury in mid-life and air pollution in later life. These are in addition to nine factors previously identified by the commission in 2017: less education early in life; mid-life hearing loss, hypertension and obesity; and smoking, depression, social isolation, physical inactivity and diabetes later in life (65 and up).

Schneider and commission members recommend that policymakers and individuals adopt the following interventions:

  • Aim to maintain systolic blood pressure of 130 mm Hg or less from the age of 40.
  • Encourage use of hearing aids for hearing loss and reduce hearing loss by protecting ears from high noise levels.
  • Reduce exposure to air pollution and second-hand tobacco smoke.
  • Prevent head injury (particularly by targeting high-risk occupations).
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than 21 units per week (one unit of alcohol equals 10 ml or 8 g pure alcohol).
  • Stop smoking and support others to stop smoking.
  • Provide all children with primary and secondary education.
  • Lead an active life into mid-life and possibly later life.
  • Reduce obesity and the linked condition of diabetes.

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Heart Health: “Statins” Are Beneficial Only With Healthy Diets & Lifestyle

Taking a statin helps keep your cholesterol levels in check. How can that be?

Mayo Clinic LogoDr. Stephen Kopecky explains that some people ask to be put on a statin. That’s because statins, while important and effective, are just one part of the whole heart-healthy picture. When you combine a statin with regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling stress, not smoking and eating foods based on the Mediterranean diet, you can improve your heart health.

Dr. Kopecky says if you work in lifestyle changes slowly over time, you’ll be on your way to better heart health.

Statins are drugs that can lower your cholesterol. They work by blocking a substance your body needs to make cholesterol. Statins may also help your body reabsorb cholesterol that has built up in plaques on your artery walls, preventing further blockage in your blood vessels and heart attacks.

Several statins are available for use in the United States. They include:

  • atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • lovastatin (Altoprev)
  • pitavastatin (Livalo)
  • pravastatin (Pravachol)
  • rosuvastatin (Crestor)
  • simvastatin (Zocor)

Sometimes, a statin is combined with another heart health medication. Examples are atorvastatin/amlodipine (Caduet) and simvastatin/ezetimibe (Vytorin).

Increasing evidence suggests that statins do more than just lower bad cholesterol. Research has found that the medicines can safely prevent heart disease in certain adults ages 40 to 75. But the benefits aren’t entirely clear for the elderly. And doctors still want to know more about the side effects of statins.

New Study: “Five Healthy Habits” For Diet, Exercise, BMI, Smoking & Alcohol” Lower Chronic Disease, Raise Lifespan (Harvard)

From a BMJ online article:

We derived a healthy lifestyle score based on information on five lifestyle factors—diet, smoking, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and body mass index (BMI).

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health LogoOur findings suggest that promotion of a healthy lifestyle would help to reduce the healthcare burdens through lowering the risk of developing multiple chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, and extending disease-free life expectancy. Public policies for improving food and the physical environment conducive to adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle, as well as relevant policies and regulations (for example, smoking ban in public places or trans-fat restrictions), are critical to improving life expectancy, especially life expectancy free of major chronic diseases.

The average life expectancy in the world has increased substantially in the past few decades. The aging of the population has led to a high prevalence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Although people live longer, older individuals often live with disabilities and chronic diseases. People with chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes have a shorter life expectancy than do their peers without these chronic conditions. Estimates of the loss in life years due to these chronic conditions range from 7.5 to 20 years, depending on the methods used and the characteristics of the study population.

Life Expectancy In Men and Women with Five Healthy Habits BMJ Study Harvard Medical 2020
Estimated life expectancy at age 50 years with and without cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and/or type 2 diabetes among participants of Nurses’ Health Study (women) and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (men) according to levels of individual lifestyle risk factors. Estimates of multivariate adjusted hazard ratios (sex specific) for morbidity and mortality associated with low risk lifestyles compared with people with zero low risk lifestyle factors adjusted for age, ethnicity, current multivitamin use, current aspirin use, family history of diabetes, myocardial infarction, or cancer, and menopausal status and hormone use (women only). AHEI=Alternate Healthy Eating Index; BMI=body mass index; F=fifth. *Cigarettes/day. †Hours/week. ‡Grams/day

Modifiable lifestyle factors including smoking, physical activity, alcohol intake, body weight, and diet quality affect both total life expectancy and incidence of chronic diseases. Studies have shown that smoking, inactivity, poor diet quality, and heavy alcohol consumption contribute up to 60% of premature deaths and 7.4-17.9 years’ loss in life expectancy. Nevertheless, little research has looked at how a combination of multiple lifestyle factors may relate to life expectancy free from the major diseases of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

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Trends In Healthy Living: Copenhagen, Denmark Is The “Global Exemplar Of Bicycle Culture”

From a New York Times online article:

Copenhagen Cyclists Betina Garcia for The New York TimesCopenhagen’s legendary bicycle setup has been propelled by all of these aspirations, but the critical element is the simplest: People here eagerly use their bicycles — in any weather, carrying the young, the infirm, the elderly and the dead — because it is typically the easiest way to get around.

Copenhagen’s status as a global exemplar of bicycle culture owes to the accommodating flatness of the terrain and the lack of a Danish auto industry, which might have hijacked the policy levers. Trouble also played a role.

Nearly half of all journeys to school and work in Copenhagen take place on bicycles. And people like it that way.

The global oil shock of the 1970s lifted the price of gasoline, making driving exorbitantly costly. A dismal economy in the 1980s brought the city to the brink of bankruptcy, depriving it of finance to build roads, and making bicycle lanes an appealingly thrifty alternative.

To read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/09/world/europe/biking-copenhagen.html

Dementia Studies: Healthy Sleep, Diet And Exercise Changes Boost Cognition

From a Wall Street Journal online article:

Alzheimer's & Dementia JournalMr. Chambers, a 48-year-old physical therapist in Jersey City, N.J., modified his sleep, diet and exercise routines. Eighteen months later, his performance on a battery of cognitive tests improved, particularly in areas like processing speed and executive function, such as decision-making and planning.

Most surprising, says Dr. Isaacson, is that the MCI patients who followed at least 60% of their recommendations showed cognitive improvement. However, MCI patients who followed less than 60% of the recommendations experienced cognitive declines similar to the control groups, he notes.

Mr. Chambers is among 154 patients in a study, published Wednesday in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, that doctors say shows encouraging results. Among healthy patients, people who made changes in nutrition and exercise showed cognitive improvements on average. People who were already experiencing some memory problems also showed cognitive improvement—if they followed at least 60% of the recommended changes.

To read actual study: https://els-jbs-prod-cdn.literatumonline.com/pb/assets/raw/Health%20Advance/journals/jalz/JALZ_2985-1572445934507.pdf?mod=article_inline

To read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the -link-between-diet-exercise-and-alzheimers-11572427802

 

Research: UC Berkeley Announces First Large Scale Study Of Healthy Lifestyle On Aging Brains

From a Berkeley News online article:

UC Berkeley Helen Wills Neuroscience“A healthy diet and lifestyle are generally recognized as good for health, but this study is the first large randomized controlled trial to look at whether lifestyle changes actually influence Alzheimer’s disease-related brain changes,” said Susan Landau, a research neuroscientist at Berkeley’s Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, and principal investigator of the add-on study.

UC Berkeley was awarded a five-year grant expected to total $47 million from the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA) to incorporate advanced brain imaging into an Alzheimer’s Association-led study to explore whether lifestyle changes can protect memory in those at risk of developing dementia.

The expanded study will be the first large-scale investigation of how lifestyle interventions, which include exercise, diet, cognitive stimulation and health coaching, affect well-known biological markers of Alzheimer’s and dementia in the brain.

To read more click on following link: https://news.berkeley.edu/2019/07/29/47-million-grant-to-explore-how-a-healthy-lifestyle-changes-the-aging-brain/