Today’s Headlines: The Initial Signs of Dementia, the Amount of Exercise That May Lower Disease Risk, and How Yoga May Help Stress

Evidence suggests that the first symptom of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease might not be memory loss. While memory loss is definitely a warning sign, research has shown that other issues may be more telling early on. “Researchers…outlined a syndrome called ‘mild behavioral impairment’ that may be a harbinger of Alzheimer’s or other dementias, and proposed a checklist of symptoms to alert doctors and families, including: losing interest in favorite activities, getting unusually anxious, aggressive or suspicious, and suddenly making crude comments in public. ‘Historically, these symptoms have been written off as a psychiatric issue, or as just part of aging,’ said Dr. Zahinoor Ismail of the University of Calgary, who presented the checklist at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Toronto.” Other symptoms included anxiety about routine, increased apathy, and loss of impulse control. (CBS)

You may need to exercise more than you think. Daily physical activity is encouraged by doctors and other experts but new research suggests that you may need to exercise more in order to lower your risk for disease. “Researchers [in the United States and Australia]…conducted a meta-analysis of 174 studies published between 1980 and 2016 that examined the effect of exercise on five chronic diseases: breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Study authors observed that, to a certain point, the more a person exercised, the lower his or her risk of all five conditions. But the sweet spot for health gains occurred when individuals had a total activity level of 3000-4000 metabolic equivalent (MET) minutes a week, according to a news release…MET measures express the energy cost of physical activity, which is calculated by the number of calories an activity can burn multiplied by the number of minutes a person is engaged in said activity.” The researchers said that 3000-4000 METs a week can be achieved by always staying active. Examples included taking the stairs for 10 minutes, running for 20 minutes, and going on a bike ride for 25 minutes. (Fox)

A small study showed that yoga may significantly lower stress. Practicing yoga on a regular basis may help relieve high levels of stress. “…Researchers in Australia looked at 116 adult women who reported experiencing moderate to very high levels of stress for at least a month. The women who practiced yoga had lower levels of psychological distress as well as less perceived stress compared to the women who did not practice yoga. Women in the yoga group also had higher levels of more positive emotions and moods. The women also experienced lower waist size and more flexibility. The researchers didn’t see a difference in blood pressure levels, mindfulness, well-being, and negative moods.” The study was too small for strong conclusions to be made, but it supports the idea that yoga is beneficial in a variety of ways. (Time)

6 Foods You Don’t Have to Refrigerate

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Many fruits and vegetables are perishable and require refrigeration to guard against bacterial and foodborne illnesses such as E. coli or listeria, but not all produce needs to be chilled before you cook or eat them. In fact, some foods can deteriorate if kept in cold conditions or are fresher or taste better at room temperature. Here are six foods that are best stored on your countertop or in your cool, dark pantry instead.

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Watch The Voice Awards Live

The 2016 Voice Awards recognize leaders in the film and theater industry who portray people with behaviorial health conditions in a powerful and meaningful way, including showing the support system around them. Watch the show live below, including the presentation of the SAMHSA Special Recognition Award to Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell.

Today’s Headlines: The Link Between Pollution and Lung Cancer, How Meal Planning Can Help You Eat Healthier, and Evidence That Reading May Increase Longevity

If you have lung cancer, living in a polluted area can accelerate the disease’s progression. New research suggests the further damage it can cause in cancer patients. “Researchers examined cancer registry data on more than 350,000 people diagnosed with lung cancer in California and found patients who lived in communities with higher than average levels of air pollution typically died sooner than their peers who lived in places with cleaner air…Air pollution appeared to have the greatest effect on survival for people diagnosed with early-stage adenocarcinoma, the most common type of lung cancer and the form that often afflicts non-smokers. In particular, patients diagnosed with early-stage disease had average survival times of about 2.4 years with high exposure to fine particulate matter, compared with 5.7 years with low exposure, the researchers report.” The study is important because it shows a correlation between pollution and lung cancer and calls for a solution to pollution problems. (Reuters)

Choosing the foods you eat in advance can help you stick to your healthy diet. Recent research shows the benefit and significance of picking what you eat ahead of time. “…when there was a significant delay between the time a person ordered their food and the time they planned on eating it, they chose lower-calorie meals…’If a decision is going to be implemented immediately, we just care about the immediate consequences, and we discount the long-term costs and benefits,’ Dr. VanEpps [a post-doctoral student involved with the research] said. ‘In the case of food, we care about what’s happening right now – like how tasty it is – but discount the long-term costs of an unhealthy meal’…On the other hand, when you order a meal in advance, ‘you’re more evenly weighing the short-term and the long-term costs and benefits’…You still care about the taste but you’re more able to exert self control.” Additional studies and research support this theory that meal planning can help you improve your diet. (NYT)

Reading may increase your longevity. Reading helps stimulate your brain and can have other beneficial anti-aging effects. “Study authors found that those who reported reading books for up to three and a half hours each week were 17 percent less likely to die over the 12-year follow-up period, while those who spent more than three and a half hours reading each week were 23 percent less likely to die.” People who read in general survived two more years on average than people who did not read. (Fox)

Today’s Headlines: Heart Disease Risk in Pre-Menopausal Women, How Weight Gain May Affect Your Brain, and Why Surgery May Be Unnecessary in Some Cases

Pre-menopausal women are at a greater risk for heart disease. Doctors have commonly believed that heart disease risk increases in the beginning of menopause, but new research shows that may not be the case. “In the latest research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers say that risk for heart disease actually starts to peak in the years before menopause, and the risk is especially great for African-American women. Among African American women, these risk factors steadily increased in the years prior to menopause at a greater rate than for white women, suggesting that African-American women may be more vulnerable to the changes occurring prior to menopause.” If you are concerned about your heart disease risk, consult your doctor and follow heart-healthy lifestyle tips like managing and monitoring your weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure. (Time)

Extra weight may cause your brain to age faster than normal. A new study compared the decline of white matter in the brain between people who were lean and participants who were overweight. “Those in the overweight group had much less white matter than their thinner counterparts. The difference was only evident from middle-age onwards, suggesting that our brains may be particularly vulnerable during this period of ageing. However there was no difference in how the groups fared in tests of knowledge and understanding, so the researchers say more work is needed to follow people and see who develops conditions such as dementia.” While more research needs to be done, it is unclear whether or not this brain aging can be reduced if people lose weight. (BBC)

Surgery may not always be the best or only solution to your health problem. The New York Times discussed the unnecessary need for having both spine and knee surgery to improve wellbeing. “Take what happened with spinal fusion…The conclusion: Surgery was no better than alternative nonsurgical treatments, like supervised exercise and therapy to help patients deal with their fear of back pain. In both groups, the pain usually diminished or went away…many doctors have been genuinely uncertain about which is better — exercise and physical therapy or surgery. That, in fact, was what led Dr. Katz and his colleagues to conduct a clinical trial comparing surgery with physical therapy in middle-aged people with a torn meniscus and knee pain. The result: The surgery offered little to most who had it. Other studies came to the same conclusion, and so did a meta-analysis published last year of nine clinical trials testing the surgery. Patients tended to report less pain — but patients reported less pain no matter what the treatment, even fake surgery.” If you are considering surgery for a health issue, discuss different therapy and treatment options with your doctor that may improve your quality of life. Changing your lifestyle, exercising, or physical therapy are all examples of alternatives that can be beneficial in a variety of situations. (NYT)

Staying Hydrated With Fruits and Vegetables

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Drinking water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated every day. About 20 percent of your daily water intake comes from fruits and vegetables. Eating fruits and vegetables with a high water content can help you reach your hydration goals and meet your recommended nutrient intake simultaneously – an easy, win-win situation! The amount of water you should drink every day is influenced by various factors including the environment, how much physical activity you perform, and how much food you eat. If you’re a generally healthy person, drinking too much water isn’t much of a concern. The important point to remember is to drink enough water throughout the day to keep your body functioning optimally. To help you along the way, add these nutritious fruits and vegetables to your diet on a regular basis.

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Today’s Headlines: More Benefits of Fish Oil, The Food That Might Be Hurting Your Kidneys, and New Research on Why You Shouldn’t Smoke

Fish oil may help your heart heal after a heart attack. While omega-3 fats are generally recommended as a way to prevent heart disease, new research has found that it could help after a heart attack too. “Normally after a heart attack, part of the heart is starved of oxygen, and that portion never recovers. The remaining healthy tissue starts to compensate for the compromised tissue, but has to work harder to maintain the heart’s normal pumping function. Over time, this overworking can lead to scar tissue and start to restrict even the healthy tissue’s ability to do its job. Kwong and his team found that people taking the high dose of omega-3 fats showed 6% less of this decline in heart function…[and] the people who showed the highest blood levels of the omega-3 fats …showed the greatest reduction in scarring — 13% — compared to those with the lowest levels.” While the study was only done on 360 participants, the results look promising. (Time)

Eating red meat may be silently hurting your kidneys. A recently-released study suggests a correlation between consuming red meat and a higher risk of kidney disease. “The study team found that participants who ate the largest amount of red meat had about a 40 percent greater risk of developing kidney failure compared with people consuming the lowest amounts of meat. However, the researchers didn’t find any associations between kidney health and intake of poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products or legumes. In fact, they calculated that substituting some other source of protein for one daily serving of red meat reduced the risk of kidney failure by up to 62 percent.” The study did not directly prove that red meat causes kidney problems but the researchers emphasized moderate red meat consumption. (Reuters)

The development of a brain hemorrhage could be high if you’re a woman who smokes heavily. A 65,000-person study found that the risk for “subarachnoid hemorrhage — bleeding inside the lining of the brain” is high in smokers. “The researchers tracked participants [every five years since 1972] until the end of 2011. During that time, there were 492 subarachnoid hemorrhages, 266 of them among women. Smokers were more likely to suffer a hemorrhage, especially women. Compared with nonsmokers, women who smoked more than 20 cigarettes per day were eight times as likely to suffer a brain hemorrhage, and men who smoked that much were almost three times as likely to suffer a hemorrhage. Former smokers had lower hemorrhage risk than current smokers.” The study contributes to ongoing research that shows how dangerous smoking can be for the body. (Washington Post)

Today’s Headlines: Exercising Can Help Lower Risk of Heart Disease, How to Undo the Damage of a Sedentary Lifestyle, and What May Be Causing Your Gluten Sensitivity

Exercising for two and a half hours per week may decrease your risk of heart disease. Women under the age of 50 can lower their risk by about 25 percent if they maintain an active lifestyle. “Regardless of body weight, women who reported doing moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking had lower risk of heart disease than those with little or no exercise. Overall, women who spent a total of 2.5 hours per week being moderately active were about 25 percent less likely to be diagnosed with coronary heart disease than those who were not active at all. Though apparent benefits were seen even in overweight and obese women, researchers found the greatest benefit among normal-weight women. Those who were active for 2.5 hours a week had half the heart disease risk of obese, inactive women.” The intensity of the exercise did not seem to matter; only the amount – researchers agreed that any exercise, whether light, moderate, or vigorous, could help the heart if done on a regular basis. (Fox)

There may be a way to undo the damage caused by sitting too much. A sedentary lifestyle has been associated with an increased risk of health problems and a lower life expectancy in many different studies. “It comes down to fitting in an hour of walking or other physical activity a day. It doesn’t have to be a super-intense fitness routine to offer benefits, say the authors of a new study…The increased risk of death linked with sitting for eight hours a day was eliminated for people who were physically active for at least one hour a day. What’s more, the eight-hour-a-day sitters who exercised had a significantly lower risk of death compared to people who sat for fewer hours a day but weren’t active, the authors found.” If you sit for a majority of the day at your job, make sure to add an hour of exercise into your day to improve your overall health. (CBS)

The reason people are sensitive to gluten may have been discovered. A new study from Columbia University, in conjunction with the University of Bologna, has found a possible cause for gluten sensitivity. “The team…found that patients who experience various gastrointestinal symptoms in response to wheat ingestion may be suffering from a body-wide inflammatory immune reaction not seen in patients with celiac disease. The inflammation, researchers said, is due to a weakened gut, and the condition is referred to as non-celiac gluten or wheat sensitivity (NCWS). Symptoms of NCWS include intestinal problems, as well as fatigue, cognitive difficulties, or mood disturbances. The study did not extend to those with celiac disease, a more serious condition involving gluten, but the researchers are hoping that further studies will help them find more answers involving both issues. (Fox)