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Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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This Beverage Reversed Normal Age-Related Memory Loss in Three Months

Drinking this could reduce your brain age twenty years in just three months.

Cocoa flavanoids — like those contained in a cup of cocoa — can reverse age-related memory loss in older adults, a new study finds.

This is the first direct evidence that an important component of memory decline that comes with age can be improved with a simple dietary change.

Typically, normal age-related memory declines are noticeable to people in their fifties and sixties: things like forgetting where the keys are or having trouble recalling a name or word.

These changes are much less severe than those which typically occur as a result of devastating dementias like Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, published in Nature Neuroscience, found a high-flavanol diet could restore aspects of older people’s memory back to that of a typical 30- or 40-year-old (Brickman et al., 2014).

The changes were clearly visible in brain scans, as Dr. Adam M. Brickman, the study’s lead author explained:

“When we imaged our research subjects’ brains, we found noticeable improvements in the function of the dentate gyrus in those who consumed the high-cocoa-flavanol drink.”

The image below shows the dentate gyrus in green (this is part of the hippocampus).

Previous research has shown that it is changes in this area of the brain that are associated with normal age-related memory loss.

dentate_gyrus

Participants in the study were 37 healthy people aged between 50 and 69.

They were randomised into two groups, one of which was given a high-flavanol diet (900mg of flavanols per day) and the other given a low-flavanol diet (10mg per day).

At the end of the three-month period of the study, participants on the high-flavanoid diet showed improvements on memory tests.

Professor Scott A. Small, one of the study’s authors, explained the results:

“If a participant had the memory of a typical 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, after three months that person on average had the memory of a typical 30- or 40-year-old.”

Flavanols are also found in tea leaves, and certain fruits and vegetables, although the exact amounts and forms vary widely.

The researchers cautioned that people should not eat more chocolate as the critical flavanoids are not present at the required levels — the dietary supplement used in the study was specially formulated.

Naturally, this is only a small trial, but the results are promising and the researchers are planning a larger study.

source: PsyBlog


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3 Tasty Foods That Protect The Brain From Ageing

Some foods can keep your brain young.

Blackberries, blueberries and strawberries all reduce cognitive decline related to age, research finds.

All three fruits contain high levels of flavonoids.

Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that can also help reduce inflammation in the brain and body.

The research was carried out on data from 121,700 women, who were followed up over decades.

Dr Elizabeth Devore, the study’s first author, said:

“As the U.S. population ages, understanding the health issues facing this group becomes increasingly important.
Our study examined whether greater intake of berries could slow rates of cognitive decline.”

The results showed that high berry intake was linked to a delay in cognitive ageing equivalent to 2.5 years.

In other words: berries made their brains work as though they were 2.5 years younger.

Dr Devore said:

“We provide the first epidemiologic evidence that berries may slow progression of cognitive decline in elderly women.
Our findings have significant public health implications as increasing berry intake is a fairly simple dietary modification to test cognition protection in older adults.”

Berries are also one of the central components in the ‘MIND’ diet, which is linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Blueberries in particular seem to have a powerful effect on the brain.

One recent study looked at the effects of concentrated blueberry juice:

“Concentrated blueberry juice improves cognitive function in older people, new research finds.
Those who drank the juice also had better blood flow and activation in their brains as well as improvements to working memory.
The boost to brain power is likely down to the flavonoids in blueberries.”

Strawberries also have other research backing up their protective effects, as do walnuts.

The study was published in the journal Annals of Neurology (Devore et al., 2012).

source: PsyBlog


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Natural Ways to Boost Testosterone

Add Zing to Your Meals

Onions and garlic are your allies in the kitchen and in the bedroom. They help you make more and better sperm. Both raise levels of a hormone that triggers your body to make testosterone. And both have high levels of natural plant chemical called flavonoids, which safeguard your li’l swimmers against damage.

Pile on the Protein

Lean beef, chicken, fish, and eggs are some of your options. Tofu, nuts, and seeds have protein, too. Try to get about 5 to 6 ounces per day, although the ideal amount for you depends on your age, sex, and how active you are. When you don’t eat enough of these foods, your body makes more of a substance that binds with testosterone, leaving you with less T available to do its job.

Go Fish

Fatty kinds like salmon, tuna, and mackerel are rich with vitamin D. It’s a natural testosterone booster because it plays a crucial role in hormone production.

More Magnesium

This mineral blocks a protein from binding with testosterone. The result? More of the usable man-stuff floating around in your blood. Spinach is packed with magnesium. Almonds, cashews, and peanuts are good sources, too.

Order Oysters

There’s a reason why these mollusks are known for being great for fertility. They have almost five times your recommended daily dose of zinc. This mineral helps your body make testosterone. You can also get it in beef and beans. And it’s often added to breakfast cereal.

Bonus: Zinc boosts your immune system.

pomegranate-juice

 

Pick Pomegranate

Start your day with a glass of this ancient seedy fruit’s juice instead of OJ. It lowers levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, which helps raise levels of sex hormones including testosterone. And it can lower your blood pressure and put you in a better mood!

Diet Down

A Mediterranean-style diet can help keep your weight in check and protect you from insulin resistance, which is related to lower T levels. And when your testosterone is low, your fat levels go up, which can lead to your body not using insulin well. You can break this cycle.

Trade saturated fats for healthier ones such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts. Choose lean meats and whole grains. Eat lots of veggies and fruits.

Back Off the Beer

It takes only 5 days of regular drinking for your testosterone level to drop. Alcohol may throw off many parts of your body’s hormone system. Heavy drinkers can have shrunken testes, thin chest and beard hair, and higher levels of the female hormone estrogen.

Use Glass, Not Plastic

Be careful about what you store your leftovers in. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical found in some plastics, cans, and other food packaging. It can mess with your hormone-making process. After 6 months, men who worked around BPA every day had lower testosterone levels than men who didn’t.

Build Your Strength

Focus your workouts on your muscles. Hit the weight room at the gym, or get a trainer to help you with a routine on the exercise machines. Cardio has its benefits, but it doesn’t boost your testosterone like strength training can.

Be careful to not overdo it. Too much exercise can take your T level in the other direction.

Get Enough ZZZs

Your body turns up the testosterone when you fall asleep. The levels peak when you start dreaming and stay there until you wake up. But daytime testosterone levels can drop up to 15% when you get only 5 hours of sleep. Aim for 7 or 8 hours every night, even if it means a shift in your schedule or a limit to your late-night plans.

source: www.webmd.com


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Flavonoids in Fruits and Veggies May Help Fight Weight Gain With Age

BY LISA RAPAPORT   Thu Feb 25, 2016

(Reuters Health) – Eating lots of fruits and vegetables rich in flavonoid molecules might help adults minimize weight gain as they age, a recent study suggests.

Most plants contain different flavonoids in varying concentrations. Some scientists believe these naturally occurring compounds have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that could help explain some of the health benefits associated with diets rich in fruits and vegetables.

“We found that increased intake of fruits like apples, berries and grapes was associated with less weight gain and these are high sources of some types of flavonoids,” said lead study author Monica Bertoia of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

Not all types of flavonoids, however, were linked to reduced weight gain once researchers accounted for how much fiber people ate, Bertoia added by email.

“The goal of this research is to determine which fruits and vegetables may be best for weight maintenance in order to refine dietary guidelines that currently recommend eating more fruits and vegetables but don’t clearly specify which fruits and vegetables are better than others for the prevention of obesity,” Bertoia said.

To examine the connection between flavonoids and weight, Bertoia and colleagues analyzed survey data on about 124,000 U.S. health professionals collected between 1986 and 2011.

They excluded people with chronic diseases and individuals who were obese at the start of the surveys, and also temporarily dropped data on women when they were pregnant.

Participants reported their weight every two years and completed dietary questionnaires every four years.

Based on what people said they ate, researchers used U.S. Department of Agriculture data on flavonoid content in specific foods to determine how much of these compounds participants consumed.

Across all the studies, half of the participants consumed at least 224 milligrams to 247 milligrams of flavonoids a day.

fruit & vegatables

Over each four year period, people gained an average of 2.2 to 4.4 pounds.

But people with higher than average flavonoid consumption tended to gain slightly less weight, researchers report in The BMJ.

The difference amounted to about one-tenth to three-fifths of a pound over four years for each standard deviation above the average amount of flavonoid consumption.

For example, consuming 7 milligrams more flavonols – a subtype of flavonoids found in tea and onions – than average each day was associated with gaining roughly one-sixth of a pound less weight over four years.

To measure the impact of all flavonoids, researchers adjusted for a wide variety of factors that can influence weight including age, gender, exercise, smoking, alcohol, caffeine, sleep and sedentary television time. They also accounted for other things people consumed, such as juices, fried foods, whole versus refined grains, full-fat versus low-fat dairy, sodas, processed versus non-processed meats, trans fats and seafood.

After adjusting for fiber consumption, which may influence weight gain by decreasing how much fat people absorb, only three types of flavonoids were associated with reduced weight gain in the study – anthocyanins, which came mainly from blueberries and strawberries in participants’ daily diets; flavonols and flavonoid polymers, which came mostly from tea and apples.

Other limitations of the study include its reliance on survey participants to accurately report what they ate and how much they weighed, the researchers note. Food questionnaires used in the surveys also may not have captured every dietary source of flavonoids.

Still, the findings suggest that choosing high flavonoid fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, berries and peppers may help with weight control, the authors conclude.

It’s also possible, however, that people who eat more fruits and vegetables may have an easier time with weight management because they consume a healthier diet and eat fewer calories, noted Samantha Heller, a registered dietician and exercise physiologist affiliated with New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City.

“When we frontload our diet with plant based foods such as berries and peppers, we crowd out less healthy options like French fries and burgers,” Heller, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “It could also be that these people are more health conscious than others.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/1ORjhga     The BMJ, online January 28, 2016.     Reuters


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The Dried Fruit That Could Prevent and Reverse Bone Mass Loss

by Shubhra Krishan       Follow Shubhra at @eskrishan

Think prunes and the first word that pops into the mind is probably something along the lines of “digestion.” For centuries, grandmas have encouraged us to eat prunes for keeping things smooth and regular. Besides, this dried and wrinkled avatar of plums is quite delicious, too.

But their ability to strengthen bones should make you reach out for prunes more often.

A research study conducted at the Florida State University in Tallahassee studied the effect of eating prunes on postmenopausal women. It found that women who ate prunes every day for a year did not suffer loss of bone mass in the spine and forearm. The key ingredients that make prunes so effective in preserving bone health are phenolic and flavonoid compounds, both known to improve bone mass. Prunes are also a rich source of boron, potassium and Vitamin K, each of which is beneficial for bones.

prunes

Fifty-eight postmenopausal women not on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) were randomly assigned to consume either 100 g dried plums or 75 g dried apples daily for 3 months. Both dried fruit regimens provided similar amounts of calories, fat, carbohydrate, and fiber. Serum and urinary biochemical markers of bone status were assessed before and after treatment.

The result? Women who consumed dried plums significantly increased the bone mineral density of ulna and spine in comparison with dried apple.

The results of this study suggest that prunes could go beyond preventing bone loss–they could, in fact, reverse loss of bone mass as well. Arjmandi BH, who led the research, points out that “Loss of bone volume accompanied by loss of trabecular connectivity is generally believed to be an irreversible process, but our observations suggest that dried plum improves trabecular microstructure of tibia after losses have already occurred may exert positive effects on bone in postmenopausal women.”

Not looking to eat prunes every day? Other foods that are great for bone health include leafy greens, seeds, nuts and beans.


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What is a Flavonoid?

These star ingredients in fruits and veggies are potent disease fighters.

By: Jennifer Nelson     Tue, Nov 06, 2012

Flavonoids are plant-based compounds with powerful antioxidant properties found in many fruits and vegetables like blueberries and grapes. They serve a variety of functions such as protecting blood vessel walls in people who have heart disease or diabetes, alleviating allergies, protecting brain health against dementia and even preventing some cancers.

Flavonoids or bioflavonoids — another word for the same compounds — have medicinal properties that include the ability to defend against cancer, viruses, not to mention anti-microbial, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory characteristics.

Where to find the flavonoids?

“The best ones are blueberries, chocolate and green tea,” says Dr. Laurie Steelsmith, a naturopathic physician and author of “Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine.”

“Blueberry and pomegranate open blood vessels and help circulation, which helps with everything from diabetes to heart disease and even improves libido.”

Blueberries: Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants that can help support blood vessel walls and play a role in protecting the brain from oxidative stress, which is important in treating the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and many other conditions. Blueberries also contain a compound known as D-mannose, which can help prevent urinary tract infections by interfering with the ability of bacteria to adhere to the walls in the urethra and bladder. On top of all that, the tannins found in blueberries can help reduce inflammation in the stomach and intestines.

 Tea

Green tea: Another flavonoid favorite is green tea, which contains compounds called polyphenols (wine has them too) that have potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. “Green tea may help women who have abnormal Pap smears due to human papilloma virus (HPV), help prevent breast and ovarian cancer, and have potential benefits for weight management,” says Steelsmith. Studies show compounds in green tea (namely caffeine, theanine, and catechin) may help increase metabolism, which in turn helps you drop pounds.

Chocolate: Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate. Along with antioxidant properties, flavanols have other potential benefits to vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot. But that’s not a license to overindulge in the sweet confection. One ounce of dark chocolate a day will do. Plus, these plant chemicals aren’t only found in chocolate. You can find them in cranberries, apples, peanuts and onions, which are especially good for allergies.

Bilberry: Another noteworthy herbal star full of flavonoids is bilberry (part of the vitamin C complex). Studies show these flavonoids can help strengthen blood vessel walls and can help prevent eye disorders such as diabetic retinopathy. Cherries and blackberries also are good sources.

Vegetables: The USDA Flavonoid Database lists the flavonoid content of 58 veggies. Among those with the highest marks: Broccoli, kale, yellow, red and spring onions, hot peppers, rutabaga, spinach and water cress. Interestingly, mushrooms have no detectable flavonoids, so you can skip the fungi when looking for the richest antioxidant veggie sources.

What’s the ideal way to consume flavonoids?

The best way to get your fill of flavonoids is by eating loads of fresh fruit and vegetables daily. Steelsmith recommends four servings of fruit and five servings of veggies. The more deeply hued the fruit or veggie, the richer the flavonoid content. Women should only consume one glass of wine daily, while men can have two; meanwhile, chocolate should be limited to a one-ounce portion, but you can drink unlimited green tea unless you are caffeine-sensitive.

If you have a specific condition, you might try a flavonoid supplement, but dosages vary widely and may be higher than what you’d receive from a healthy, balanced diet. Researchers have yet to determine exactly what levels of flavonoids are optimally beneficial, or even whether flavonoids are harmful at high doses. As with all supplements, flavonoid supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The most positive thing you can do for both your overall health and to treat specific conditions is to eat more fruits and vegetables that contain a wide variety of antioxidant-rich flavonoids, adding chocolate, wine and tea in moderation.

source: www.mnn.com


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Healthy Reasons To Enjoy Chocolate Every Day

BY MICHAEL T. MURRAY    JUNE 10, 2013

Is there such a thing as a guilt-free pleasure when it comes to food? Absolutely, and chocolate is one of them. This delectable, seemingly addictive food is produced from the beans of the cacao tree, whose official name is Theobroma cacao. Its scientific name reflects our long-standing love of chocolate that’s endured for millennia (theobroma is the Greek word for “food of the gods”).

Here are a few scientifically proven health benefits of consuming moderate amounts of heavenly, high-quality chocolate.

1. It improves your mood.

Chocolate has long been associated with love, and now scientists have discovered a possible chemical connection. Chocolate contains a compound known as phenylethylamine (PEA), a brain chemical that’s released during moments of emotional euphoria. In addition to PEA, controversial findings suggest that chocolate contains pharmacologically active substances with the same effect on the brain as marijuana. The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, isn’t found in chocolate, but another neurotransmitter called anandamide is. Like THC, anandamide is naturally produced in the brain and binds to the same receptors as THC, which may help explain why, while eating chocolate will not make you high, it’s likely to engender some pleasant feelings or at least make you feel more relaxed and less anxious.

2. It’s good for your heart.

One of the key areas of research into the benefits of chocolate consumption is its effect on cardiovascular disease.  A growing amount of recent research suggests that:

  • Chocolate is a rich source of flavonoid antioxidants that are especially important in protecting against damage to the lining of the arteries.
  • Chocolate flavonoids prevent the excessive clumping together of blood platelets that can cause blood clots.
  • Unlike the saturated fats found in meat and dairy products, the saturated fats found in chocolate do not elevate cholesterol levels.
  • Frequent chocolate consumption is associated with a nearly 40% reduced risk for heart disease and a 30% reduced risk for a stroke.
  • Chocolate can provide significant amounts of arginine, an amino acid that’s required in the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps regulate blood flow, inflammation and blood pressure.

 

A is for Antioxidants



3. It’s associated with weight loss.

A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that frequent chocolate consumption was associated with lower body mass index (BMI) — a ratio of height and weight that’s used to measure obesity. The authors used data from 972 patients who answered the question, “How many times a week do you consume chocolate?” Their data indicated that chocolate consumption frequency was associated with lower BMI, even after adjusting for total calorie intake, exercise activity, and saturated fat intake.

These results are extremely promising. The researchers believe the benefits are once again related to the antioxidant flavonoids in chocolate. They do caution that the benefits of chocolate are only apparent with moderate consumption, and that consuming large quantities of chocolate would obviously be counterproductive to losing weight.

How much and what kind?

Since dark chocolate is higher in flavonoids, it offers the greatest health benefits. Most experts agree that the recommended “dose” of dark chocolate is approximately 30g to 60g/day (roughly 1 to 2 ounces).

In order to provide the most healthful choices of chocolate products, here are some suggestions:

  • For the biggest flavonoid bang for your caloric buck, choose high-quality dark chocolate. Limit daily intake to 1-2 ounces. The darker, the better.
  • Unsweetened dark cocoa powder is great for you, because it has no fat or sugar, and it’s high in antioxidants.
  • Avoid chocolate candies and treats made with hydrogenated fats or refined flour, neither of which promotes health.
  • Also pass on products labeled “artificial chocolate” or “chocolate flavored.” These imitations are not even close to the real thing in flavor, texture or health benefits.

In the right form, chocolate is a true super food. Of all the foods available on planet Earth, chocolate is perhaps the most magical and maybe one of the best health foods around. Fortunately, it’s also one of the most delicious, so enjoy it in good health.