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Category: Quality of Life (Page 1 of 3)

White noise apps meant to help us sleep better, may lead to more disrupted sleep

Linda Geddes, writing in The Guardian »

“Whenever we’re exposed to sounds and noise, the inner ear is translating that into nerve signals that are then interpreted by the brain,” he said. “It is an active process, which generates metabolites, some of which have been shown to be harmful to the inner ear. You probably want to have a period where the auditory system can wind down, regenerate and prepare for the next wake period.”

Colin Espie, a professor of sleep medicine at the University of Oxford, agrees the research quality of studies on continuous noise and sleep is poor. “Even the idea is a very limited one conceptually,” he said. “The main concern to overcome in poor sleep is the busy or racing mind. People can’t switch off mentally. White noise is just like any other monotonous stimulation, which has been tried many times in many ways over decades, and the evidence [for it working] is poor.”

Want the immune system of a 20-year-old when you’re 80? Increase your endurance workouts!

Marc Beaulieu » CBC »

UK researchers have found that elderly people who get plenty of exercise seem to be staving off the expected decline of their immune systems… by about 60 years. Data yielded from 125 long-distance cyclists, many of whom were in their 80s, showed that they had the high-functioning, infection-thwarting immune systems of 20 year olds. Feel free to hop on the stationary bike that’s been collecting dust in your basement as you read the rest of this.

Professor Janet Lord, study co-author and director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham, explains that “the immune system declines by about 2-3% a year from our 20s, which is why older people are more susceptible to infections, conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and, potentially, cancer.” But her data shows that the steadily weakening immune response that would normally leave us increasingly vulnerable as we age is far from a fate we must all simply accept. So long as exercise is a priority. “Because the cyclists have the immune system of a 20-year-old rather than a 70 or 80-year-old, it means they have added protection against all these issues,” says Lord.

The health boon for the ageing endurance cyclists studied, explain researchers, hinges on the production of a lymphocyte (or white blood cell) known as a T cell. Side note: endurance cycling events typically range from 100 km to 300 km rides. For context, 100 klicks on a bike will likely take you about 3 hours — so do ease in slowly if you’re inspired but it’s been a long winter of sofa comas.

Fergus Walsh » BBC »

Prof Norman Lazarus, 82, of King’s College London, who took part in and co-authored the research, said: “If exercise was a pill, everyone would be taking it.

“It has wide-ranging benefits for the body, the mind, for our muscles and our immune system.”

Steve Harridge, co-author and professor of physiology at King’s College London, said: “Being sedentary goes against evolution because humans are designed to be physically active.

“You don’t need to be a competitive athlete to reap the benefits – or be an endurance cyclist – anything which gets you moving and a little bit out of puff will help.”

Related Study » Major features of immunesenescence, including reduced thymic output, are ameliorated by high levels of physical activity in adulthood

 

Over 40% of American adults are obese. Nearly 1 in 10 are morbidly obese.

More than 4 in 10 Americans are now obese.

Key findings from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study »

  • In 2017–2018, the age-adjusted prevalence of obesity in adults was 42.4%, and there were no significant differences between men and women among all adults or by age group.
  • The age-adjusted prevalence of severe obesity in adults was 9.2% and was higher in women than in men.
  • Among adults, the prevalence of both obesity and severe obesity was highest in non-Hispanic black adults compared with other race and Hispanic-origin groups.
  • The prevalence of severe obesity was highest among adults aged 40–59 compared with other age groups.
  • From 1999–2000 through 2017–2018, the prevalence of both obesity and severe obesity increased among adults.

This research corresponds to earlier studies that suggest half of adult Americans will be obese within 10 years.

More » Associated Press

Mediterranean diet increases good gut bacteria which is linked to healthy living

Half the participants were asked to eat more vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, olive oil, and fish – and less red meat and dairy.

Paul O’Toole, University College Cork

Since our everyday diets have such a big affect on the gut microbiome, our team was curious to see if it can be used to promote healthy ageing. We looked at a total of 612 people aged 65-79, from the UK, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Poland. We asked half of them to change their normal diet to a Mediterranean diet for a full year. This involved eating more vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, olive oil and fish, and eating less red meat, dairy products and saturated fats. The other half of participants stuck to their usual diet.

We initially found that those who followed the Mediterranean diet had better cognitive function and memory, less inflammation, and better bone strength. However, what we really wanted to know was whether or not the microbiome was involved in these changes.

[…]

Many of the participants were also pre-frail (meaning their bone strength and density would start decreasing) at the beginning of the study. We found the group who followed their regular diet became frailer over the course of the one-year study. However, those that followed the Mediterranean diet were less frail.

The link between frailty, inflammation, and cognitive function, to changes in the microbiome was stronger than the link between these measures and dietary changes. This suggests that the diet alone wasn’t enough to improve these three markers. Rather, the microbiome had to change too – and the diet caused these changes to the microbiome.

[…]

Future studies will need to focus on what key ingredients in a Mediterranean diet were responsible for these positive microbiome changes. But in the meantime, it’s clear that the more you can stick to a Mediterranean diet, the higher your levels of good bacteria linked to healthy ageing will be.

Paul O’Toole, Professor of Microbial Genomics, School of Microbiology and APC Microbiome Institute, University College Cork

This excerpt is from an article published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

We need sleep to keep our brains healthy and guard against cognitive decline

Brain & Life »

How well we sleep impacts how we think and feel, as well as our alertness, memory, and concentration. “Sleep quality and quantity are directly related to the health of the brain,” says Beth A. Malow, MD, MS, FAAN, professor of neurology and director of the sleep disorders division at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. Several studies have demonstrated an association between sleep disturbances such as insomnia, fragmented sleep, sleep apnea, and even excessive napping and an increased risk of cognitive decline over time, says Brendan P. Lucey, MD, assistant professor of neurology and director of the sleep medicine section at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

In 2009, a series of studies on mice conducted at Washington University were among the first to suggest that chronically sleep-deprived subjects develop higher levels of harmful amyloid beta and tau proteins—considered, along with neurofibrillary tangles, to be hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. “Think of tau and amyloid as the waste produced by typical nerve function,” says Charlene Gamaldo, MD, FAAN, associate professor of neurology and medical director of the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center. “Normally, the brain clears these metabolic waste products away.”

And it may clear away these proteins during sleep, according to a landmark 2013 rodent study in Science by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center, who showed that during deep sleep, when neural activity quiets down, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) bathes the brain, washing away excess amyloid beta and tau proteins. A more recent study, published in the November 2019 issue of iScience, provided further insight into CSF’s function. MRI scans taken while subjects were sleeping showed that during deep sleep, blood flow in the brain diminished as pulsing waves of CSF flushed out excess amyloid beta and tau, presumably girding the brain against cognitive decline. So while it has been known that sleep has some value for survival, these reports seem to put sleep front and center in terms of protecting us from cognitive decline.

Read the whole article to learn why and how to get adequate sleep »

People who frequent art galleries, museums, attend the theatre, concerts may live longer

Vishwadha Chander, Reuters »

Even after accounting for a wide range of other health and social factors, researchers from University College London found that people over 50 who regularly engaged with arts activities were 31% less likely to die during a 14-year follow-up than peers with no art in their lives.

Those who took part in arts-related activities only once or twice a year still had 14% lower odds of dying during the study.

“These findings support previous statistical analyses and anthropological work suggesting there may be benefits of the arts to individuals as they age,” said Daisy Fancourt, an associate professor of psychobiology and epidemiology at University College London and co-author of the study.

Alcohol-related deaths in the US have more than doubled in the past 20 years

Vanessa Romo and Allison Aubrey, NPR »

Some of the greatest increases were found among women and people who were middle-aged and older.

[…]

Overall, researchers found men died at a higher rate than women. But when analyzing annual increases in deaths, the largest increase was among white women.

“With the increases in alcohol use among women, there’s been increases in harms for women including ER visits, hospitalization and deaths,” Aaron White, who authored the paper, told NPR.

The research shows that in 2017, alcohol proved to be even more deadly than illicit drugs, including opioids. That year there were about 70,000 drug overdose deaths — about 2,300 fewer than those involving alcohol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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