In the News: Updated Alzheimer’s Definition Could Lead to Faster Diagnosis, Yoga in School Helps Young Children with Anxiety, One Gene Can Make You Increase Sugar Intake While Decreasing Body Fat

Scientists are leaning towards using biological methods to diagnosis Alzheimer’s 15-20 years sooner. Rather than waiting until cognitive decline reveals itself in a patient to start testing and diagnosing Alzheimer’s, doctors can diagnose the disease using objective and biological evaluations from brain scans. Dr. Clifford R. Jack Jr. of the Mayo Clinic led a few of his fellow experts to change the guidelines in The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association to include these objective brain characteristics in the signs of the disease, meaning that a lot more people will be correctly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 20 years sooner than they otherwise would have been. These brain scans haven’t been approved in the mainstream treatment of Alzheimer’s, only in studying it, but this evaluation tactic has huge implications. This disease currently has no cure, only treatments that temporarily and slightly ease symptoms, and experts believe it is because the disease is often caught too late, similarly to cancer. Because doctors can now use this improved, objective definition of the disease to identify it and study patients before symptoms develop, they may be able to develop treatments to prevent the eventual cognitive decline. Stock up on these anti-Alzheimer’s foods to further stave off this condition. (NBC)

Study finds yoga and mindfulness activities greatly improves well-being in third-graders. Researchers from Tulane University worked with a public school in New Orleans to add yoga and mindfulness activities to the curriculum for an experimental group of children, while a control group continued regular care such as counseling and interaction with the school social worker. The researchers chose to do the study with third-graders because previous child studies have already found this to be a significant year for increased academic challenges and related increased stress and anxiety for kids. Before and after the changed curriculum, researchers evaluated the children’s quality of life; kids who underwent the intervention using yoga and mindfulness while at school saw significantly improved psychosocial and emotional quality of life scores after eight weeks, and teachers confirmed a noticed difference in the well-being of students in this group. The larger implications are that mindfulness and related activities are extremely valuable at any age for improving quality of life and that the stress or anxiety in young people in your life should not be underestimated. Check out Dr. Oz’s favorite yoga moves here. (SD)

In an enormous UK study, researchers find one gene that makes people eat more sugar without increased body fat. Researchers in the UK recently studied the biological data of 451,099 people; this size study lends itself to concrete confidence in their findings, which included the conclusion that there is one gene that many of us may call the “lucky gene.” Called FGF21, it makes people who have it want and need to intake a higher level of sugar than anyone else, while also increasing metabolic rate, resulting in lower body fat levels than most people. However, they also looked at the effects of this gene on people’s diets, body compositions, and blood pressures, concluding that people with this gene aren’t entirely lucky: their bodies hold more fat in their upper body, which increases the risk of high blood pressure and compromised heart health. They also are more likely to drink more alcohol, due to their taste for sugar. Researchers hope to use this information to explore potentially treating diabetes with the manipulation of this gene. However, the largest takeaway is that, while you likely don’t know if you have this gene, a healthy diet is important for anyone, regardless of whether there is evidence of risk on the scale! (MNT)