Trans fat has been shown to have a negative effect on cardiovascular health and, according to a new study from Oregon Health and Science University, it can also affect cognition in older individuals. The research tested 104 people with an average age of 87 using a newly developed blood test. The results found people with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B, C, D, and E scored highest on cognitive tests, while trans fat was shown to negatively impact cognitive ability. The study’s author, Gene Bowman, said trans fats are known to be bad for the heart, so it’s not a stretch to think they’re also bad for the brain. According to Bowman, research shows that a brain-healthy diet includes nuts, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while processed foods, dairy products, and fatty meats have a negative effect on the brain. More here.
Stress can have a significant impact on health. It can also trigger gastroesophageal reflux disease or acid reflux. Surveys have shown a majority of people who suffer from acid reflux site stress as a trigger. Mitchell Cappell, MD, PhD, chief of gastroenterology at Beaumont Hospital, says patients who are under a lot of psychological stress suffer more severe symptoms, without necessarily having more severe reflux. And, though that doesn’t mean stress-related reflux is merely psychological, it is common for highly stressed people to become more aware and more sensitive to their symptoms. According to Cappell, stress can affect many gut functions and heartburn, in these stressful times, is incredibly common. More here.
An adult’s normal resting heart rate should be between 60 and 100 beats per minute. And, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, increases in your resting heart rate over time may mean a greater risk of dying of heart disease. The study looked at 30,000 men and women without any known heart disease and measured their resting heart rate over a 10-year period. The participants whose heart rate was less than 70 beats per minute at the first measurement and more than 85 beats per minute at the next measurement were more likely to die from heart disease or other causes after 12 years of follow-up. Ulrik Wisloff, the study’s lead author, says healthy adults should have a resting heart rate of about 70 beats per minute. If it increases more than 10 beats, it may be time to talk to a doctor. More here.
Whether it’s pistachios, walnuts, or peanuts, eating nuts can greatly benefit your health by reducing cholesterol and the risk of many diseases. New research from the University of Toronto found that eating 2.4 ounces of any kind of nut could lower LDL cholesterol by up to 7.0 percent and total cholesterol by up to 5.0 percent. People who eat nuts regularly were also shown to have reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 74 percent when compared to people who ate them less often. Among the other findings, almonds were responsible for lowering insulin resistance and pistachios, in addition to improving HDL cholesterol levels, may help reduce the risk of lung cancer. More here.
According to the latest study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, older Americans not only expect to work longer, many don’t expect to retire at all. In 2006, 1.7 percent of workers over the age of 50 said they planned to retire by age 80. By 2010, that percentage had risen to 5.2 percent and the number of those workers that said they never planned to retire reached 16.3 percent. Sudipto Banerjee, EBRI research associate and author of the study, said the general trend shows that older Americans are expecting to retire later. But, according to Banerjee, the most striking statistic is that nearly 20 percent expect to never stop working and an additional 15 percent said they don’t know when they would be able to retire. The EBRI study looked at data from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Survey during the period between 2006 and 2010. More here.
Though vitamin D has been linked to numerous health benefits, including everything from prevention of bone fractures to staving off the common cold, new research reviews published in the Annals of Internal Medicine say there is little evidence behind some of those claims. The reviews found, for example, that vitamin D alone was not sufficient protection against bone fractures, though when combined with extra calcium there was more evidence that it helped prevent broken bones in the elderly. The reviews also found, with respect to cancer, that the vitamin may have a positive effect in lowering risk of colon cancer but there was less evidence that it would protect against other forms of cancer. In short, there are indications that taking vitamin D supplements may produce a number of positive health benefits but there is insufficient scientific evidence to back up the number of health benefits linked to the vitamin. More here.
According to a paper written for the National Academy on an Aging Society by John W. Rowe, professor at Columbia University, shifting focus away from the negative aspects of aging and toward the positive potential of older Americans would benefit society as a whole. Rowe writes that aging should be seen as an issue affecting everyone, not just the elderly. The overwhelming attention paid to Social Security and Medicare leads to a perception that older Americans are taking resources from younger generations rather than emphasizing the contributions seniors can offer to society. According to Rowe, shifting how aging is viewed in America can lead to a cohesive and productive society rather than one where there are increasing gaps in quality of life and opportunity and an inability to provide the goods and services necessary for a progressively older population. More here.
Choosing a diet rich in raw vegetables, fruits, and berries may be able to reduce the risk of heart disease, even in people who have a common genetic trait known to nearly double their risk. James C. Engert, a genetic epidemiologist at McGill University in Montreal, said the effects of diet on heart attack have been well known for a long time but how a good diet can actually lower your susceptibility to these diseases is not well understood. Engert’s study looked at the records of 3,820 people who suffered heart attacks between 1999 and 2003 and compared them to 4,294 healthy people. The research found that people who reported eating the healthiest diets were half as likely to develop heart disease as those eating a diet high in fats and carbohydrates, even in those who had the dangerous genetic variation. The study suggests that people eating a healthy diet can reverse the effects of a genetic predisposition to heart disease. More here.
Widely used to help prevent heart attacks and strokes, aspirin may also be an effective treatment for repeat blood clots. Venous Thromboembolism, or VTE, are blood clots that often occur in the legs and, if they travel to the lungs, can be fatal. According to recent research, however, a low dose of daily aspirin can reduce the risk of the recurrence of VTE. Cecilia Becattini, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Perugia in Italy, said VTE occurs in nearly 800,000 people in North America each year and taking aspirin, after six to 12 months of anti-clotting drug treatment, can reduce the risk of a repeat clot by 40 percent. The study gave 100 milligrams of aspirin each day to 205 patients who had VTE and a placebo to an additional 197 patients. All the patients had completed 6-12 months of anticoagulant therapy. Patients taking the placebo had almost twice the amount of repeat clots than those taking aspirin. More here.
A new drug, developed by the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, may be the first to improve memory and prevent brain damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease. The compound, named J147, showed promise when tested on mice and could be tested for humans in the near future. David Schubert, head of Salk’s Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory, said J147 enhances memory in both normal and Alzheimer’s mice and protects the brain from the loss of synaptic connections. The compound’s ability to protect nerve cells may mean it could also be an effective treatment for Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders. The National Institutes of Health estimate that there are 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease. More here.