The Pulse: Recent findings for a healthier body
The Pulse shares their research and findings on how you can achieve a healthier body just by changing some simple habits at home.
Housework for your heart
For this study, researchers measured the physical activity of over 5400 American women who were aged 63 to 97 and who did not have heart disease at the start of the study. Subjects wore a research-grade accelerometer for up to seven days to get accurate measures of how much time they spent moving and, importantly, the types of common daily life behaviors that result in movement and are not often studied. Prior studies typically focused on activities like running and brisk walking, while this study measured smaller movements at varying intensity during activities like cooking. Compared to women with less than two hours per day of daily life movement, those women with at least four hours of daily life movement had a 43 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease, 43 per cent lower risk of coronary heart disease, 30 per cent lower risk of stroke and a 62 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease death.
Source: Journal of the American Heart Association
Prunes for your bones
In new research, data was analysed from 16 preclinical studies in rodent models, 10 preclinical studies and two clinical trials. Across the studies, the researchers found evidence that eating prunes helped reduce inflammation and oxidative stress and promoted bone health. For example, the clinical trials found that eating 100 grams of prunes (about 10 prunes) each day for one year improved mineral density of bones and decreased signs of bone turnover. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weak or brittle and can happen to anyone at any age, but is most common among women over the age of 50. It can be caused by multiple factors including inflammation and oxidative stress. The researchers said one potential mechanism for the effects is prunes triggering a change in the gut microbiome that then lowers inflammation in the colon, which may then lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body.
Source: Advances in Nutrition
Unsweetened chocolate is healthy but is too bitter for most people to enjoy, so researchers have experimented with roasting treatments to modify the flavour. Findings show that chocolate makers who want to develop products containing 100 per cent chocolate and no sugar can reduce bitterness and optimise flavour by roasting cocoa beans longer and at higher temperatures.
Source: Current Research in Food Science
Exercise for your memories
Episodic memory is the kind that deals with events that happened to you in the past. It’s also one of the first to decline with age. Exercise that gets the heart pumping has shown promise in increasing brain health, and experiments in mice show that it improves memory, but studies looking at the same link in humans have shown mixed results. To dig further into this, researchers analysed data from 36 studies that included more than 3000 subjects. They specifically focused on episodic memory, which is supported by a part of the brain that is known to benefit from exercise. The analysis showed that there were greater improvements in memory among those who are aged 55 to 68 years compared to those who are 69 to 85 years old, and that the greatest effects of exercise were in those who hadn’t yet experienced any cognitive decline, and in studies where participants exercised consistently several times a week.
Source: Communications Medicine
Media for your sleep
New research published in the Journal of Sleep Research has examined how sleep might be impacted by media use before bed such as watching television, YouTube videos, browsing the Internet or listening to music. In the study, 58 adults kept a diary that recorded information related to time spent with media before bed, location of use and multitasking. Electroencephalography (EEG) monitors that detect electrical activity of the brain captured parameters such as bedtime, total sleep time and sleep quality. The results showed that media use in the hour before sleep was associated with an earlier bedtime. If the before-bed use did not involve multitasking and was conducted in bed, it was also associated with more total sleep time. However, a long use of media was associated with later bedtime and less total sleep time. Keep your media use short and sweet before bed and your sleep should not be negatively affected.
Source: Journal of Sleep Research