Category Archives: Body & Mind Connection

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

Standard

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

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

Standard

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

Standard

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

Precocious kids becoming vegan over growing awareness of animal cruelty

Standard

Vegan Kids

DIET & HEALTHWhen her parents left her with Grandpa and Grandma for a weekend last October, Morgan Greenfield was an adorable 7-year-old who happily devoured ice cream and pizza. They came home to an avowed chicken-finger-shunning vegan. “Morgan just decided, ‘I’m not eating anything that has to do with animals anymore,’ ” says a gobsmacked Felicia of her vigilant second-grader. “It wasn’t gradual. She was, ‘No, I’m done.’”

In 2009, just 1 percent of the US population classified themselves as vegans and vegetarians. Now 5 percent do, and the trend is trickling down to the sandbox set. Long before they hit puberty, precocious local kids are going vegan of their own volition, influenced by social media and a growing awareness of animal cruelty.

“Young people are tuned in to this issue more than ever,” says longtime vegan Gene Baur, co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, a livestock protection organization in upstate New York. “We’re connected to animals and we’re eating these animals.”

To hear Morgan tell it, her come-to-Jesus moment was one of profound clarity, though she can’t recall if there was something — a TV show, a book or a Facebook post — that inspired it. “Something popped up in my mind that said, ‘Don’t hurt the animals, no dairy or eggs,’ ” says the youngster, who admits she misses M&Ms. Morgan’s parents are struggling to keep up with her new diet, and that of her sister, Danielle, 10, who went vegan a few months after Morgan.

Their mother, Felicia, worked with a vegan coach for six weeks to learn to cook plant-based meals. “I thought, ‘Oh boy, I have to teach her to eat her veggies, and I don’t even know that much about it,’” says the Upper East Side mom, who wasn’t much of a cook and had previously served her kids lunch meats and hot dogs.  –NY Post

Fit For Life

Gifted Children: personality traits to describe precocious children

Standard

Dakota Fanning

“There’s been two people I’ve met that’s amazed me. One was Angelina Jolie, and the other was Dakota Fanning. I’m convinced this child has the soul of a 40 year old person.” -Denzel Washington, discussing his film Man on Fire  

 

Precocious Children“Getting into everything,” “stubborn” and, sometimes, “a pain in the neck” are just a few of the ways precocious children are described. Many personality traits associated with precocious children stem from their advanced language and reasoning abilities. Unfortunately, this makes it that much harder to trick your toddler into believing that his fish “went swimming” down the toilet or that the hair dryer only works when it’s held by an adult. Understanding these personality traits can make it easier to handle those “memorable” situations.

Empathy

When she was 2 years old, your precocious little one sobbed seeing a bird eating a live worm, and by 5 she’s contemplating a vegan lifestyle. A lot of precocious children decide to become vegetarians. Early on in life, they may develop a heightened awareness of the treatment of animals and may decide they want to become vegans or vegetarians. Precocious kids often have a highly developed sense of morality and emotional understanding, notes Linda Silverman, Ph.D., in “Early Signs of Giftedness.” Such children are often described as sensitive and caring by their classmates and peers, even during situations that would leave her peers unfazed.

Persistence

Precocious children are often dogged in their pursuit of solving a challenge; like that cell phone back you thought was so securely in place. Their ability to think of alternative solutions combined with the desire to learn means precocious children may spend long periods trying to solve a challenging puzzle or building a difficult block tower. This trait may be misinterpreted as being stubborn, given that a precocious child may become so relentless in his pursuits that he resents interruption for other necessary activities.

Creativity

The creativity of a precocious child doesn’t necessarily end with the recent “mural” she drew on the dining room wall. A precocious child often finds several different ways to reach the same end-point, whether it’s solving a shape puzzle or figuring out how to lasso the cookie tin with a dress sash. Her work habits may appear unconventional or non-conforming, which can make her seem uncooperative or uncontrollable since she’s always figuring out new ways to accomplish a task or access prohibited items.

Curiosity

Curiosity can equate to asking “why” every five minutes or wanting to talk about connections he’s making. For example, a precocious toddler listening to a story about a magic scarf might ask lots of questions about how the magic scarf was made, where it came from and the material, rather than simply accepting that the scarf was magical. One-sentence answers rarely satisfy a precocious child’s curiosity, and it can feel overwhelming to keep up with the barrage of questions. As noted in “Education of Gifted and Talented Children,” by Gary Davis et al., it’s important to stimulate his curiosity by searching for the answer together.  –Our Everyday Life

Science proves: positive thoughts, faster recovery

Standard

Smile

Body & MindPositive thinking really can make you healthy, it seems. An optimistic attitude can do wonders for patients’ recovery, according to researchers who reviewed 16 studies that looked at patients’ attitudes toward health. The studies spanned 30 years and looked at patients’ attitudes after surgery. The review appears in a recent issue of Canadian Medical Association Journal. “In each case the better a patient’s expectations about how they would do after surgery or some health procedure, the better they did,” said author Donald Cole, of the Institute for Work and Health in Toronto.

The review says that the power of positive thinking is real, said ABCNEWS’ Medical Correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman on Good Morning America today. “This mind-body connection that we have been toying with for the past couple of decades really does have hard science behind it,” Snyderman said. Across a wide range of clinical conditions, from lower back pain to heart surgery, patients who felt they would do well in recovery did, according to Cole. Patients who were scared or pessimistic about their recovery did not recover as quickly as the optimists or as well.

“Less pain [after surgery] was directly associated with better expectations, positive expectations,” Cole said. Cole says the findings suggest several things that employers as well as physicians and family members can do to help a person’s recovery. “If an employee is going off for surgery it could be helpful to ask that employee, ‘What do you think is going to happen to you?’” said Cole. “If a person has fears or is feeling pessimistic then it is time to think, ‘We better deal with those fears.’” Dealing with those fears not only helps a person recover but also means a healthier work environment and the ability of that person who is going to surgery to come back to work quicker, said Cole.

“Clinicians should talk to their patients and find out what their hopes and fears are before a procedure,” Cole said. “If this were part of the process, recovery expectations could be talked about and then, according to the results of this study, at least, recovery could be better.” But can you decide or make a person have a positive attitude? Can a pessimist become an optimist? “You can’t blame people for their diseases,” Snyderman says. “But how you go through your life with the grit and determination to make it through, that you do have control over and that makes a difference.” –ABC News

3 Rules for Happiness Sapientia