Friday, February 20, 2009

How to protect the eyes, brain, bones and heart in later life

Eating the correct food, kicking the butt and getting enough exercise are the keys to a long healthy life, says a new report.
The report says that foods rich in vitamin B12 such as fish, eggs, milk and fortified breakfast cereals plus Omega 3 found in oily fish are all good for the brain, reports the Daily Express.

Calcium-rich food such as milk, cheese and yoghurt is important to keep bones strong and healthy and cut the risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin D, found in
healthy long life
sunlight, oily fish and some breakfast cereal, is also good for bones and muscle.

Nutrients for a healthy heart include Omega 3, fibre, folate, vitamin B12 and potassium.

Eating oily fish, leafy vegetables, beans, fruit and nuts will boost the chances of getting enough of these nutrients. Even the eyes can be kept healthier for longer by eating the right food. Kiwi fruit, grapes, spinach, broccoli and red peppers are sources of nutrients, which protect the eyes. Activities such as walking, dancing and even gardening reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers.

The report was compiled by experts from universities including Oxford, Surrey and Newcastle.

Tea, Coffee may cut stroke risk ..

Patients with existing heart disease or blood pressure problems are unlikely to benefit by drinking more coffee

The odds of having a stroke may be lower for tea drinkers and coffee drinkers.

A study involving more than 80,000 women over a period of more than 20 years showed those who consumed several cups a day were much less likely to suffer a clot on the brain.
The finding came as a surprise to researchers who had originally set out to investigate reports that the beverage increased the risk of a stroke.

In a report on their findings, published in the journal Circulation, they said: "Long-term coffee consumption was not associated with an increased risk of stroke in women. In contrast, it may modestly reduce the risk."

Although the study was carried out in women, it is thought that the benefits would probably apply to men too.

Experts are not sure why coffee has its protective effect but say it could be due to the antioxidant content of the drink.

Researchers stressed that the protective effect of coffee is only found in those who are already relatively healthy.

Patients with existing heart disease or blood pressure problems are unlikely to benefit by drinking more coffee, they said.

Tea study:
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) pooled data from 10 studies of clot-related strokes that mentioned tea consumption.

The key finding: Strokes were 21% less common among people from any country who drank three cups of tea per day, whether that tea was green tea or black tea.

Coffee study:

Scientists at UCLA and the University of Southern California reviewed national health survey data from nearly 9,400 U.S. adults aged 40 and older.

Participants reported their typical daily coffee consumption and whether a doctor had ever told them that they had had a stroke. Strokes were reported by 5% of the group.

The key finding:
The more cups of coffee participants drank, the less likely they were to report ever being diagnosed with a stroke. For instance, among people who reported drinking one to two cups of coffee per day, 5% reported a history of stroke, compared to 3.5% of people who reported drinking three to five daily cups of coffee and about 3% of people who said they drink six or more cups of coffee per day.

Researchers in Spain found drinking at least two cups of coffee a day for years can lower the risk for stroke. The catch is - you can't have a cigarette with your coffee.

A large, long-term study called the Nurses' Health Study found healthy non-smokers who drank coffee had a 43 percent reduction in stroke risk. Compare that to just a three percent risk reduction in smokers.

Experts think antioxidants found in coffee are key.

Weather Really Affect Our Mood... is it true?

Invite a child to draw two pictures—one on a rainy day and a second in the sunshine—and you beautiful much know what to be expecting. In the first, as blue raindrops fall from the top of the page, the stick figure behind the window is frowning. When a yellow sun beams from the corner, the stick man is smiling, with his scrawny arms in the air and colorful flowers at his feet. Even his stick dog wears a grin.

That rain is shade and sunshine happiness is symbolic rather than scientific, though it rings true because we humans are naturally feeling to our environment. But we are not its victims. Barring a mood disorder, our emotions are not casualties of the weather. The rain can be guilty by association, but not causation.

Why? Because we are f to make choices that either better our temperament or degenerate it.

Temperament vs. temperature
Since the early 1970s, around the time B. J. Thomas sang "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," researchers have sought to confirm a relationship between weather and temperament. Predictably, the lion's share of studies correlate a low mood—episodic depression, lack of vigor—with high humidity and limited exposure to sunshine. Spirits tend to rise with increased time in the sun and higher barometric pressure.

More recently, in October of 2008, a group of European researchers examined the impact of six different daily weather factors—temperature, wind, sunlight, precipitation, air pressure, and length of day—on more than 1,200 participants from Germany, most of them women.

Contrary to most prior research, the study's central conclusion was that the average effect of "good" weather on positive mood was minimal. Windy, cool, and darker days seemed to have just a slight negative effect on mood, with many subjects reporting that they felt tired or sluggish.

Though the study is ambitious and offers a new perspective on research on weather's relationship to mood, it strains to draw a consensus. From the range of responses the study's subjects recorded in their journaling, the researchers determined in the end that "people differ in their sensitivity to daily weather changes."

Sunny day, dreaming the clouds away
Some people's emotions are simply more vulnerable to weather changes than others. Someone prone to a low mood on dark, cold days will likely experience a depressive winter when there's a prolonged string of like-weathered days. This propensity is the basis of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

However, most people are no more emotionally powerless against the weather than they are unable to put on a hat.

Ani Kalayjian, Ed.D., R.N., professor of psychology at Fordham University in New York, advises that we "can and should take proactive steps to strengthen the [brain's] system" against weather-driven mood changes.

"We encourage people to take charge of their feelings," says Dr. Kalayjian. Her self-help recommendations for SAD sufferers are applicable to anyone who wants to put a little sunshine in his or her step.

"Do things that make you feel good, like listening to uplifting music or reading a good novel. Look at pictures from a vacation—and if you can, take a vacation to a warm place." All of the tried-and-true methods of mood improvement and stress management apply as well, including getting regular exercise, moderating alcohol intake, and meditating.

"Feelings are transient; we can change them, transform them into positive," concludes Dr. Kalayjian. You may not be able to will the sun to break through overcast skies, but you can empower yourself to break through an emotional cloud.

A prescription for seasonal moodiness

In terms of psychology, grey skies fall into a grey area. Physiologically, though, we do reckon with weather conditions—sunlight, in particular—in direct and measurable ways.

Research on SAD has been focused on the brain's response to darkness and light, as the condition has been linked to the shortened daylight hours of winter.
When our eyes detect darkness, a small gland in the brain called the pineal releases melatonin, which establishes sleep cycles. When we detect light, melatonin production subsides and its cheerier hormonal sibling, serotonin, takes over to promote wakefulness and help elevate mood. (The word serotonin is rooted in serum + tonic, so it's like an elixir for happiness. Melatonin is the mel or "black" tonic, for darkness.)

For most of us who aren't suffering from SAD, the prescription for moodiness is straightforward.

What does natural melatonin do in the body?
Your body has its own internal clock that helps regulate your natural cycle of sleeping and waking hours (or circadian rhythm) in part by controlling the production of melatonin. Normally, melatonin levels begin to rise in the mid- to late evening, remain high for most of the night, and then decline in the early morning hours.