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Skipping meals risks fat bellies, diabetes
Skipping meals risks fat bellies, diabetes
May 21, 2015

Eating smaller meals is a way to lose weight, but skipping meals altogether has been linked to increased abdominal fat because of the way it confuses the body's metabolic systems and can put people at risk of developing diabetes.

Mice put on a restricted diet and mice who were free to eat all day both lost weight in a new study, but the mice on the restricted diet consumed all their food at once and then effectively fasted all day. The mice on the restricted diet showed signs of extra fat around the middle of their bodies -- similar to human belly fat.

The extra belly fat was credited by researchers to a confused metabolic process in the mice's bodies.

After eating, the pancreas produces insulin to help process glucose from food. At times when there is too much insulin in the blood, the liver produces glucose to balance the system.

Because the mice were gorging themselves on food, their pancreases did not produce enough insulin to process glucose from their food. The result was extra glucose in the system that was eventually stored as fat.

"Under conditions when the liver is not stimulated by insulin, increased glucose output from the liver means the liver isn't responding to signals telling it to shut down glucose production," said Martha Belury, professor of human nutrition at The Ohio State University, in a press release. "These mice don't have type 2 diabetes yet, but they're not responding to insulin anymore and that state of insulin resistance is referred to as prediabetes."

"This does support the notion that small meals throughout the day can be helpful for weight loss, though that may not be practical for many people," she said.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Is sleep apnea a risk factor for depression?
Is sleep apnea a risk factor for depression?
May 21, 2015

Sleep problems are often a symptom of depression, but a new study raises the possibility that they could cause depression as well.

In a sample of nearly 2,000 Australian men between the ages of 35 and 83, those with excessive daytime sleepiness were 10% more likely to be depressed than those without, according to researchers from the University of Adelaide and the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health. The relationship held up even after taking other risk factors into account.

None of the men had been diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea when they entered the study, but 857 of them were assessed for the condition after joining. Those who were found to have it were 2.1 times more likely to be depressed than those who didn't have the sleep disorder.

Some of the men had both severe sleep apnea and excessive daytime sleepiness. They were 4.2 times more likely to be depressed compared with men who had no sleep issues, the researchers found. Those with both conditions were also 3.5 times more likely to be depressed than men with only one of them.

All of the men in the study were evaluated for depression twice, with the second test occurring about five years after the first. That allowed the researchers to see whether sleep problems could be linked to a recent diagnosis of depression.

And indeed, the men who had severe sleep apnea that was discovered during the study were 2.9 times more likely to become depressed during those five years.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Our attention span is now less than that of a goldfish, Microsoft study finds
Our attention span is now less than that of a goldfish, Microsoft study finds
May 14, 2015

Humans have become so obsessed with portable devices and overwhelmed by content that we now have attention spans shorter than that of the previously jokingly juxtaposed goldfish.

Microsoft surveyed 2,000 people and used electroencephalograms (EEGs) to monitor the brain activity of another 112 in the study, which sought to determine the impact that pocket-sized devices and the increased availability of digital media and information have had on our daily lives.

Among the good news in the 54-page report is that our ability to multi-task has drastically improved in the information age, but unfortunately attention spans have fallen.

In 2000 the average attention span was 12 seconds, but this has now fallen to just eight. The goldfish is believed to be able to maintain a solid nine.

"Canadians [who were tested] with more digital lifestyles (those who consume more media, are multi-screeners, social media enthusiasts, or earlier adopters of technology) struggle to focus in environments where prolonged attention is needed," the study reads.

"While digital lifestyles decrease sustained attention overall, it's only true in the long-term. Early adopters and heavy social media users front load their attention and have more intermittent bursts of high attention. They're better at identifying what they want/don't want to engage with and need less to process and commit things to memory."

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Handshake strength 'could predict' heart attack risk
Handshake strength 'could predict' heart attack risk
May 14, 2015

The strength of your handshake could signal the chance of a future heart attack, a major study in The Lancet suggests.

The research found the vigour of a person's hand-grip could predict the risk of heart attacks and strokes - and was a stronger predictor of death than checking systolic blood pressure.

Experts said a grip test could be a simple, low-cost way to predict the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The international study, involving almost 140,000 adults in 17 countries found weak grip strength is linked with shorter survival and a greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

It also found that grip strength is a stronger predictor of death than systolic blood pressure.

The researchers suggest that it could be used as a quick, low-cost screening tool by doctors to identify high-risk patients among people who develop major illnesses such as heart failure and stroke.

Reduced muscular strength, which can be measured by grip strength, has been consistently linked with early death, disability, and illness. But there has been limited research on whether grip strength could be used to indicate heart health.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Healthy Eating May Shield the Aging Brain
Healthy Eating May Shield the Aging Brain
May 7, 2015

People who eat plenty of fruits and veggies may preserve more of their memory and thinking skills as they grow old, a new large study suggests.

The findings, published online May 6 in the journal Neurology, add to a growing body of evidence linking healthy eating habits to a lower risk of dementia.

Researchers found that among nearly 28,000 older adults from 40 countries, those who scored in the top 20 percent on a "healthy eating" scale were less likely to show declines in memory, attention and other mental skills over the next five years.

Compared with older adults who favored foods like red meat and sweets, the risk of mental decline for the healthiest eating group was about one-quarter lower. Among the people with the healthiest diet, about 14 percent showed declines in thinking, compared to about 18 percent of those with the least healthy diets.

The study does not prove that diet, by itself, confers the benefit, said lead researcher Andrew Smyth, a fellow at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

But he said his team accounted for some other explanations -- including the fact that people with healthy eating habits may be more educated, thinner, get more exercise or be less likely to smoke.

And diet scores were still tied to people's mental sharpness.

All things considered, Smyth said, "our study suggests that healthy eating may reduce the risk of cognitive decline."

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Sleep Apnea Treatment May Help Lower Diabetes Risk for Some
Sleep Apnea Treatment May Help Lower Diabetes Risk for Some
May 7, 2015

Treating sleep apnea may help people with slightly elevated blood sugar levels lower their risk of developing diabetes, according to a new study.

"Assessment of sleep apnea should be considered in patients at high risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, since our study shows that treatment of sleep apnea can reduce these risks," the study's senior author, Dr. Esra Tasali, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, said in a university news release.

People with higher-than-normal blood sugar levels who don't yet have diabetes are considered to have pre-diabetes. This condition affects about 57 million Americans, according to the researchers.

Many people with pre-diabetes also have untreated sleep apnea -- a sleep disorder that causes the upper airway to close repeatedly during the night, disrupting sleep and temporarily reducing oxygen levels. Like diabetes, sleep apnea is common among overweight and obese people. It's also linked with greater risk for heart disease and diabetes, the researchers said.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

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