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  • Keep Aging Eyes Sharp

    Wednesday, January 22, 2020
    Keep Aging Eyes Sharp

    According to the American Optometric Association, people in their early to mid-forties may begin to lose their ability to see clearly at close distances. This condition, known as presbyopia, is the result of the lens inside the eye becoming less flexible. In short, your 20/20 vision may not stand the test of time. Luckily, there are several things you can do that may help keep you out of the dark. Here are a few tips:

    • Get your vitamin A. Vitamin A supports retina function, as well as dim-light and color vision, and may help reduce inflammation in the eyes and prevent age-related macular degeneration. Actual vitamin A is called retinol, and while beta-carotene and other carotenoids are not actually vitamin A, they can be converted into vitamin A in the body. Retinol is found in animal products such as liver, shrimp, salmon, beef, eggs, and whole milk. Carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, are found in dark leafy greens, and other colorful fruits and vegetables such as carrots and apricots. Some supplements, such as multivitamins, can also give you a vitamin A boost.
    • Turn the lights down low. Use floor lamps and low-intensity light bulbs instead of fluorescent lighting in your home and office.
    • Revamp your computer. Make sure your computer has an LCD screen. Position it a little lower than eye level and about an arm’s length away. Reduce glare with an anti-glare monitor or by pulling the blinds down when you’re working on your computer.

    Source: Washington Post

  • Sleep Shortages May Increase Type 2 Diabetes Risk in Kids

    Friday, January 17, 2020
    New Science
    Sleep Shortages May Increase Type 2 Diabetes Risk in Kids

    Getting the kids to bed on time can feel like a losing battle, but, according to research associating inadequate sleep with an increase in risk markers of type 2 diabetes, parents should keep fighting the good fight. Published in Pediatrics, the study looked at data from 4,525 multiethnic UK children, aged nine to ten. Participants self-reported their actual bedtimes and waking times, and researchers tested for several type 2 diabetes risk markers, including HbA1C and fasting glucose, insulin, and lipid levels. They also measured participants’ height, weight, blood pressure, and body fat. After adjusting for factors including gender, age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, researchers found:

    • The average sleep time was 10.5 hours, and longer sleep was associated with a lower likelihood of obesity and lower type 2 diabetes risk markers.
    • Specifically, one additional hour of sleep was associated with a 0.19 reduction in BMI, a 0.03 kg/m5 reduction in fat mass index, a 2.9% lower insulin resistance assessment score, and a 0.24% lower fasting glucose level.
    • Sleep duration was not associated with HbA1C, blood pressure, or lipid levels.

    This study adds to a growing body of observational evidence indicating a relationship between sleep and type 2 diabetes risk, and suggests that the metabolic harms of too little sleep may begin in childhood. It also highlights something that parents already know: children need a certain amount of sleep to stay happy and healthy. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the amount of sleep children need every day changes as they age. They recommend daily sleep times of 12 to 16 hours for 4- to 12-month-olds, 11 to 14 hours for 1- to 2-year-olds, 10 to 13 hours for 3- to 5-year-olds, 9 to 12 hours for 6- to 12-year-olds, and 8 to 10 hours for 13- to 18-year-olds. If your child is having trouble getting their Zs, there are things you can do to help, such as establishing a consistent bedtime, ensuring they get enough exercise, and limiting screen time before bed. Your child’s pediatrician can also be a great resource for sleep-promoting ideas.

    Source: Pediatrics

  • Time Your Exercise Right to Improve Memory

    Wednesday, January 15, 2020
    New Science
    Time Your Exercise Right to Improve Memory

    Prepping for a presentation? A properly timed workout could be crucial to your success. Research has found that exercising four hours after performing a memory-related task may help people better retain information. Published in Current Biology, the study assigned 72 people to memorize 90 picture-location associations in about 40 minutes, and then tested them on their recall ability. Immediately after this test, researchers assigned the participants to three groups: the “immediate exercise” group performed 35 minutes of interval training on an exercise machine, followed by a four-hour period of quiet activity (watching nature documentaries); the “delayed exercise” group did the same thing but the order was reversed, the period of quiet activity came before the interval training; the third, “no exercise,” group didn’t perform any exercise. Forty-eight hours after the first recall test, the participants took the same test while receiving an MRI so researchers could understand how the exercise/no exercise intervention had affected their memory retention and brain activity. The researchers controlled for the time of day the tests were performed and other confounders and found that:

    • Memory retention was higher in the delayed exercise group than in the other two groups.
    • Memory retention was the same in the immediate exercise and no exercise groups.
    • Brain activity in the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with memory, was stronger in the delayed exercise group than in the other two groups.

    This study is exciting because it suggests the timing of activities may play an important role in sealing memories: taking a quiet break and then exercising may be the best way to hold on to newly learned information. It also supports other research that has connected exercise with increased brain function; for example, one animal study associated exercise with increased hippocampal neurons in mice, and another human study found resistance training twice a week may promote brain health during aging. So, don’t forget to take some quiet time after studying and then get some exercise—it may help you remember!

    Source: Current Biology

  • Adequate Childhood Vitamin D Levels May Lower Type 1 Diabetes Risk

    Friday, January 10, 2020
    New Science
    Adequate Childhood Vitamin D Levels May Lower Type 1 Diabetes Risk

    While previous research examining the link between vitamin D and type 1 diabetes has been inconclusive, a study published in Diabetes has found evidence suggesting vitamin D may play a role in lowering the risk of islet autoimmunity—the condition that underlies type 1 diabetes, in which the immune system attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The study included data from 8,676 children with a genetic predisposition to developing type 1 diabetes who were participating in the Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young study. Every three months from ages 3 to 4, the children had blood drawn to determine their vitamin D levels and the presence of islet autoimmunity. When researchers compared data from a subgroup of 376 children who did develop islet autoimmunity with data from 1,041 matched children who didn’t develop islet autoimmunity, they found:

    • Higher vitamin D levels were associated with a lower risk of islet autoimmunity.
    • Every 5 nmol/L increase in vitamin D was correlated with a 7% decreased risk of developing islet autoimmunity.
    • Specific gene variations affecting vitamin D receptors were also correlated with islet autoimmunity risk.

    These findings suggest vitamin D and vitamin D receptors may be joint factors in the development of islet autoimmunity in children with an increased genetic risk for type 1 diabetes. Ensuring your child has adequate vitamin D levels is important, regardless of your child’s genetic makeup, as vitamin D deficiency can lead to bone disorders like rickets and other health problems. Although our bodies make vitamin D when we’re exposed to sunlight, sometimes extra sources are needed. Foods that can help top up our vitamin D levels include fatty fish and fish oil, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products, juices, alternative milks, and cereals. Vitamin D supplements may also be a good choice, but be sure to talk with your child’s pediatrician before adding any supplements to their regimen.

    Source: Diabetes

  • Migraine-Prevention Dietary Strategies

    Wednesday, January 08, 2020
    Migraine-Prevention Dietary Strategies

    Migraine sufferers may want to look for triggers on their dinner plate, according to a press release from the University of Cincinnati (UC). After reviewing over 180 studies on diet and migraines, Vincent Martin, MD, professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the UC College of Medicine, found that certain foods may spur migraines and certain eating patterns may help prevent them. His findings, published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, outlined these two migraine-mollifying approaches:

    • Eliminate trigger foods. While skipping your morning coffee could bring on headaches, so could drinking too much coffee. Dr. Martin recommends migraine patients drink no more than 400 mg of coffee daily—a typical cup contains 125 mg. He also recommends replacing processed foods with fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats to help eliminate two other potential triggers: MSG, a flavor enhancer used in some processed foods, and nitrates, a preservative found in certain processed meats. And for those who enjoy liquid libations, cutting out alcohol could also help—vodka and red wines with high histamine contents are especially troublesome.
    • Adopt a headache prevention diet. Another way to mitigate migraines may be to adopt an eating pattern that has been shown to prevent headaches. Dr. Martin recommends low-fat diets, low-carbohydrate diets, and diets that boost your omega-3 fatty acid intake while reducing your omega-6 fatty acid intake. Omega-3s are found in foods like flaxseed, salmon, halibut, cod, and scallops, and omega-6s are found in foods like polyunsaturated vegetable oils (corn, sunflower, safflower, canola, and soy), peanuts, and cashews. Dr. Martin concludes, “Ultimately a healthy headache diet excludes processed foods, minimizes caffeine and includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, fish and lean meats.”

    Source: University of Cincinnati

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.