Author Archives: Sapientia Book

Research finds being overweight makes brain ‘10 years older’ than if you are slim

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Diet & Aging

Diet & Aging: Being overweight in middle-age makes the brain age by 10 years, research by the University of Cambridge has found. The study, which scanned 473 brains, found changes in the brain structure of overweight people which are normally seen in those far older. The volume of white matter – the tissue that connects areas of the brain and allows information to be communicated between regions – shrunk far more in those with a Body Mass Index above 25.

Shrinkage of parts of the brain is associated with a higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia. The Cambridge Study found no differences in cognitive skills when participants underwent IQ tests.  But the men and women will be scanned as they get older, to check for changes which indicate mental decline. Human brains naturally shrink with age, but scientists are increasingly recognizing that obesity – already linked to conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease – may also affect the onset and progression of brain ageing.

In the study of people aged between 20 and 87, researchers looked at the impact of obesity on brain structure across the adult lifespan. Researchers divided the groups into two categories: lean and overweight, depending on whether their BMI was above or below 25. They found striking differences in the volume of white matter. Overweight individuals had a widespread reduction in white matter compared with lean people.

Freedom

The team then calculated how white matter volume related to age across the two groups. They discovered that an overweight person at 50 had a comparable white matter volume to a lean person aged 60. Researchers only observed these differences from middle-age onwards, suggesting that brains may be particularly vulnerable during this period of ageing. Candidates were recruited by the Cambridge Center for Ageing and Neuroscience and the results are published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.

Lead researcher, Dr Lisa Ronan from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, said: “We found that those who were overweight had significantly smaller volume of white matter compared with their lean counterparts – amounting to a difference of 10 years.” Scientists expected to see differences in cognitive abilities, but these were not shown in the tests, which will be repeated as participants get older.

“As our brains age, they naturally shrink in size, but it isn’t clear why people who are overweight have a greater reduction in the amount of white matter. We can only speculate on whether obesity might in some way cause these changes or whether obesity is a consequence of brain changes.” Professor Paul Fletcher, from the Department of Psychiatry, said: “We’re living in an ageing population, with increasing levels of obesity, so it’s essential that we establish how these two factors might interact, since the consequences for health are potentially serious.”  –Telegraph

Turin mayor wants entire Italian city to go vegetarian

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Turin

Italian city wants to turn vegetarian: The mayor of Turin, the northern Italian city of 870,000 that hosted the Winter Olympics in 2006, has made a controversial new pitch: local citizens should give up their bollito and carne cruda in favor of a vegan or vegetarian diet. Chiara Appendino, who was sworn in as mayor last month, unveiled her plan for the city yesterday, and one major platform was promoting a plant-based diet for Turin’s residents.

“The promotion of vegan and vegetarian diets is a fundamental act in safeguarding our environment, the health of our citizens and the welfare of our animals,” Appendino wrote in the proposal. She detailed a plan for the next five years—the length of a mayoral term—to work toward this veggie-friendly utopia. “Leading medical, nutritional, and political experts will help promote a culture of respect in our schools, teaching children how to eat well while protecting the earth and animal rights,” the plan continued.

While the mayor’s plan could be seen as grandstanding, it appears that Italy’s food culture is shifting. Younger Italians are more open to trying new foods, and immigrants have brought different cuisines with them from around the world. (Roughly 30 vegetarian or vegan restaurants have opened in Turin, Italy’s fourth-biggest city by population, within the past few years.) Appendino herself belongs to the relatively young Five Star movement, which was founded by the Italian comedian-turned-political activist Beppe Grillo, an outspoken vegetarian who is one of the major names leading the conversation about food culture in the country. Italian parliament member Luigi Di Maio, who also belongs to the Five Star party, even had a vegan cake at his birthday this year.

Yet food as social activism isn’t new in this part of Italy: the “slow food” movement, which encourages people to use locally-grown food over chain restaurants and fast food, began in the nearby town of Bra. Still, despite some shifts in the area’s food scene, many people are opposed to Appendino’s plan. Turin resident Elena Coda complained to The Local that losing meat from the area’s cuisine was a metaphor for losing local Piedemontese culture. “Great foods like wild boar ragu and Chianina steak are already disappearing from the menu once famed for its meats, wines, and cheeses,” she said. The good news? Wine is (almost always) vegan.  – Condé  Nast Traveler, by Lilat Marcus

Study finds working in the office for 8 hours a day is as bad as smoking

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Office Work

Office work bad for your health: Office work is the new smoking, helping to kill millions of people because of increased physical inactivity, a new study has found. The study, which appeared in the Lancet journal, said sitting for at least eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60% and was posing as great a threat to public health as smoking. Inactivity, the study said, was linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers and was associated with more than five million deaths a year. Increased physical activity lowers the risk of at least 13 cancer types.

The researchers analyzed data from more than a million people in 16 studies, and warned that too little was being done to tackle the pandemic of physical inactivity. The good news is doing at least an hour of physical activity a day such as walking or cycling can eliminate this increased risk of death. “For many people who commute or have office jobs, there is no way to escape sitting for prolonged periods of time. For these people in particular, we cannot stress enough the importance of getting exercise, whether it’s getting out for a walk at lunchtime, a run in the morning or cycling to work.

An hour of physical activity a day is ideal, but if this is unmanageable, then doing some exercise each day can help reduce the risk,” said lead author Ulf Ekelund of the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences. “This lack of physical activity is the new smoking,” said Jonathan Broomberg, CEO of Discovery Health, who added that fast-rising numbers of people with diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease caused by an unhealthy lifestyle were taking a toll on medical aids.  –Times Live

Walking meetings increase physical activity and improve bodily health

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Walking

Walking for Health: Is it time to rethink traditional work meetings? Replacing a seated work meeting with a walking meeting can increase workers’ physical activity and lead to positive health effects, according to researchers from the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine. As part of a study, the researchers recruited 17 workers who led weekly meetings. The workers agreed to wear an accelerometer to track their physical activity at work during a three-week period. They also adhered to guidelines for conducting meetings and note-taking while walking. The protocol included following a set route and walking for at least 30 minutes per meeting.

Results showed that, by the third week, participants had increased their moderate-vigorous physical activity to 117 minutes – up from 107 the first week and 114 the second week. Walking meetings and other interventions to increase physical activity are necessary to “counter the negative health effects of sedentary behavior,” Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, the study’s principal investigator and assistant professor of public health sciences, said in a press release.

Brisk walking for as little as 15 minutes per day can increase a person’s life expectancy by up to three years, researchers said. “Walking is known to have tremendous health benefits,” Hannah Kling, lead study author and project director, said in the release. “Having sedentary, white-collar workers consider walking meetings feasible suggests that this intervention has the potential to positively influence the health of many individuals.” The study was published June 23 in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.  –Safety & Health

Starting Over: Paul McCartney battled depression after the break-up of the Beatles

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Beatles

Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.” -George Sheehan

Determination to be successful, despite setbacks 

The cost of success is firm resolution, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that you will win no matter the outcome. You have to apply the best of yourself to the challenge. Everyone must choose the path that they will walk. Failure is taking the path that everyone else does; success is making your own path. Success is determined by how resolute you are to succeed. Everyone experiences tough times. It is a measure of your determination and dedication, how you deal with them and finally come through them. You will always be challenged in life to see if you’re truly ready for ultimate victory. It is critical to have determination in order to capture the objective, and fulfill your eventual purpose.

The secret to success is to form superior habits. It will make all the difference in being successful, or failing. Be willing to put the same indomitable spirit into making your dreams come true as you would in facing a life or death situation. Do not wallow in your pity and blame others for your failures. No one wants to listen to a chronic complainer. Live as if you were to die tomorrow.

“It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energ y and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.” – Theodore Roosevelt

The entrepreneur works a one hundred hour week, in order to not have to work forty hours for someone else. We enjoy the fruits of our labor. We want to win at all costs. We have our life to live, and it is our choice to accept the risks of being an entrepreneur. It is not glory that we seek. When the company prospers and we see the final product, and our clients are ecstatic with a job well done, that is what we live for. The f reedom to make our decisions right or wrong is the freedom that our country gives us. But there are times when it is not an easy road, when the accounts receivables grows beyond our control, when the government continues to burden us with excessive intrusion and taxes, when the gas prices go through the roof, and we still have to make payroll and persevere. At this point, it is determination and faith that help us to survive and then thrive. The strong will endure, the diligent will flourish, those of faith will see miracles, and those who are determined will triumph over all obstacles.   –Thomas Cronin

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Mastertapes, Sir Paul McCartney said he had been at a loss when the band fell apart in acrimony in 1970. “It was difficult to know what to do after The Beatles. How do you follow that?” he told John Wilson. “I was depressed. You would be. You were breaking from your lifelong friends. So I took to the bevvies.”

 “The business thing split us apart,” said Sir Paul, adding that all the “heavy meetings” were “doing my head in.” He became so depressed that he did not know “whether I was still going to continue in music.” Eventually, he moved to Scotland – partly to make himself unavailable for the business meetings – and hit the bottle. “It was Linda who said, ‘you’ve got to get it together…’ and that led to Wings.”  –BBC