Exercise, Health and Lifestyle Factors May Affect Memory, Even in Young Adults

A recent study published in PLOS ONE found that lifestyle factors and health issues may contribute to memory complaints, even in younger adults. Researchers at UCLA examined known risk factors for dementia, including depression, lower education levels, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and smoking. They found that depression, low levels of education, physical inactivity and high blood pressure increased the likelihood of memory complaints in younger adults (ages 18-39), middle-aged adults (40-59) and older adults (60-99). In all age groups, depression was the strongest single risk factor for memory complaints. Regardless of age, even just one risk factor significantly increased the frequency of memory complaints. Memory complaints rose when the number of risk factors increased. This is just another reason to eat well, exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle and decrease stress.

Decrease Stress to Stay Slim

Chronic stress can have both negative physical and negative mental effects. A new study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology showed a direct link between chronic stress and the body’s metabolic response. The study showed that women who ate the same high fat and sugary foods  had more weight gain, fat deposit, and  insulin resistance when their chronic stress was elevated.  Therefore, these women were more prone to  health risks than low-stress women who ate the same food. There is no magic pill to decrease stress levels, but exercise, meditation, yoga and deep breathing techniques can help. Get adequate sleep and eat a diet filled with nutrients to help combat disease.

New Tool Calculates Belly Fat

Most Americans know that unwanted weight and obesity have negative health consequences, especially if the weight is centered around a person’s midsection. A new tool, called “A Body Shape Index” or ABSI, calculates your relative risk of premature death based on your belly fat and age. If you go to www-ce.ccny.cuny.edu/nir/sw/absi-calculator.html and put in the required information you will determine your risk. Less than 1 indicates less risk, 1 is average risk and over a 1 is a greater risk. If you score greater than a 1, it might be time to hit the gym and start a healthy balanced diet!

Exercise Beneficial to Pre-diabetics

Healthcare tends to focus on treating diseases and conditions rather than preventing them.  Most people are aware that chronic diseases increase the risk of death. In fact, research has shown that people with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to die from cardiovascular disease. On a positive note, exercise and diet changes have been shown to decrease all chronic diseases by 80%.

A new study decided to examine whether people with PREdiabetes had benefits from diet and exercise.  The findings showed that those who changed their lifestyle decreased their risk of dying by almost half of those that did not engage in lifestyle changes. So don’t wait to start eating better and getting healthy! Start today!

Running in Moderation May Be Better than Excess!

It is common knowledge that physical activity is good for your health.  Exercising is good for weight maintenance and heart health, and health professionals advocate physical activity in moderation. But how much is too much? There is a growing body of research that has found that excessive endurance exercise may actually be just as bad as being sedentary.  A new study at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation looked at long term marathon and ultra-marathon runners and found that  plaque buildup in their coronary arteries was 62% higher than those who were sedentary.  Don’t take this as an excuse to stay on the couch! Being sedentary is unhealthy; the best long term benefits appears to come from regular, moderate exercise.

Agavins, the Newest Sugar Substitute

There are many sugar substitute on the market, such as Splenda, Equal, and Sweet N Low.  People use sugar substitutes instead of sugar to assist in weight loss and to help control blood sugar levels.  Currently, agavin, which is a new sugar substitute from the agave plant, is now being studied.  Agavins should not be confused with agave nectar or syrup; agavins are not absorbed into the bloodstream and therefore do not raise blood sugar levels or add calories, while agave nectar and syrup do.  The research on agavins is promising; agavins are natural, soluble, and have a low glycemic index. Agavins also may aide in weight loss; they are a type of fiber that increases satiety, and they may increase insulin production and lower blood sugar. However, studies have only been conducted in mice and more research is needed to see if agavins are a viable sugar alternative.

Another Reason to Decrease Sugar

Americans consume far too many processed and packaged foods and eat a diet very high in added sugars. These added sugars put us at risk for obesity and diabetes, and now research shows that it may increase your risk of death from cardiovascular disease.  A new study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that people who consumed 21% of their calories from added sugar had double the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease, while those who consumed over 25% tripled their risk!  It is important to try to limit added sugar to no more than 10% of your caloric intake, to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and to exercise in order to achieve optimal health.

High Protein Diets – More Harm Than Good?

It seems like a new weight loss diet is on the market every day.  A lot of research has shown success from diets that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates; further, these diets have been linked to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. However, two new recent studies in Cell Metabolism suggest there is a risk to eating too much protein. They found that high protein diets did indeed promote weight loss; however, it also increased the risk for cancer and overall mortality for those aged 50-65.

In general, most Americans do not consume enough protein in their diet and eat too much processed food and starches. The take home message is that too much of one thing – as with anything in life – may not always be beneficial. Make sure to eat plenty of vegetables on a high protein diet and avoid starches.  Moderation and a varied diet are always best!

Evening Exercise Will Not Affect Slumber

People who exercise regularly plan the timing of their workouts based on their work schedule, kids, social engagements, level of exhaustion etc. Time of day has frequently played a factor in creating an exercise regimen; people try to squeeze workouts in during lunch, before work, and after work, depending on a host of issues in their lives. Many exercisers have been hesitant to start working out too late in the evening, since it is commonly recommended to avoid exercising before bed because it may affect sleep patterns. However, a new study found that individuals who exercised in the evening reported sleeping just as well as those who did not exercise before bed. However, people who exercised in the morning reported the best sleep, so the timing of exercise may still play a factor in slumber. Everyone is different, so trial and error is important to determine what works best for you.

Acne Linked to Diet

It seems the old adage “You are what you eat,” has even more merit.  New research published in The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has linked a high glycemic diet and dairy products to acne. Acne, which affects 17 million Americans – especially adolescents and young adults – can be socially debilitating. It may cause depression, social withdrawal, and negatively impact quality of life.  Recently, food was not thought to have an impact acne, but two recent studies have shown that frequent dairy products and foods with a high glycemic load aggravate, but not cause, the condition.  The glycemic load is how much a particular food will raise a person’s blood sugar after eating it; basically, it is how much carbohydrate is in the food and how much each gram of the food raises blood sugar.  Once again, this study shows how what we eat impacts our health and well being. It is important to become educated and eat properly to be the best you can be!