How vitamin D delivers on cardio health
University of South Australia, December 6, 2021 Free from the sun, vitamin D delivers a natural source for one of the hormones essential to our bodies, especially the bones. But when you're down on this essential nutrient, it's not only your bones that could suffer, but also your cardio health, according to new research from the University of South Australia. In the first study of its kind, researchers from the UniSA's Australian Centre for Precision Health at SAHMRI have identified genetic evidence for a role of vitamin D deficiency in causing cardiovascular disease. The study, which is published in European Heart Journal today, shows that people with vitamin D deficiency are more likely to suffer from heart disease and higher blood pressure, than those with normal levels of vitamin D. For participants with the lowest concentrations the risk of heart disease was more than double that seen for those with sufficient concentrations.
Sleep technique improves creative thinking
A team of researchers working at Sorbonne Université, reports that people may be more creative if awoken just after falling asleep. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes experiments they conducted with sleeping volunteers. Thomas Edison and Salvador Dali were both known to use a certain sleep technique to increase their creativity. It involved thinking about a problem or set of circumstances and then placing an object in their hand as they lay down for a nap. As they drifted off, their hand relaxed and allowed the object to fall to the floor rousing them from their sleep. It was at that point, they both claimed, that inspiration came to them. In this new effort, the researchers tested this idea. Prior research has shown that in addition to REM sleep and deep sleep, most people experience a type of sleep known as N1—the short interval between being fully awake and fully asleep, a sort of twilight zone. It was this interval that the researchers set out to test. They recruited 103 healthy people who promised they had little difficulty falling asleep given the chance.
Link between intestinal inflammation and microbiome
Kiel University, November 30, 2021 Around 500 to 1,000 different types of bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms colonize our intestines. All of them together form the intestinal microbiome. As we now know, these microbes play an important role in maintaining health. This is especially evident when the composition of the microbiome becomes unbalanced, as is the case in people with chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. PD Dr. Felix Sommer and his team from the Cluster of Excellence Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation (PMI) are trying to better understand the complex interactions between the host and their microbiome. While doing so, they encountered an enzyme called hexokinase 2 (HK2). The HK2 enzyme is produced in greater quantities in the event of inflammation and is regulated by the microbiome. "We were able to show in the animal model that by administering the short-chain fatty acid butyrate, the HK2 levels in intestinal epithelial cells were lowered and inflammation was ameliorated. The protective effect of the fatty acid butyrate produced by bacteria was absent in animals where the HK2 enzyme was removed," explained Sommer, head of the Functional Host-Microbiome Research working group at the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB) at Kiel University (CAU) and the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Campus Kiel. The results of the study have been published in the renowned scientific journal Cell Metabolism.
Cognitive aging: Work helps our brain
University of Padua (Italy), December 9, 2021 A recent study shows that work plays an active role in keeping our brains healthy. "We have demonstrated the role of working activity on cognitive performance". Professor Raffaella Rumiati says. From our analysis it emerges that the type of work activity also contributes to the differences in normal and pathological cognitive aging”. The analysis surprisingly shows that occupation is a good predictor of participants' performance in addition to age and education, two factors that have been already studied.
Dementia risk reduced by eating grapes, according to UCLA researchers
University of California at Los Angeles, December 12, 2021 Evidence has emerged that ordinary grapes – one of the most loved (refreshing) snacks – can be a powerful ally against dementia. Researchers found that grapes can have significant effects on preventing cognitive decline in older adults – and may even help prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease. In a placebo-controlled study published in January in Experimental Gerontology, men and women with mild cognitive decline were given either freeze-dried grape powder or a placebo daily for six months. PET scans were used to evaluate cognitive performance and changes in brain metabolism, both before and after treatment.
A diet rich in plant-based products reduces the risk of cognitive impairment in the elderly
University of Barcelona (Spain), December 9, 2021 A diet rich in plant products reduces the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia in the elderly. This European study, part of the Joint Programming Initiative "A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life" (JPI HDHL), was carried out over 12 years with the participation of 842 people aged over 65 in the Bordeaux and Dijon regions (France). The study analyses the relationship between the metabolism of dietary components, intestinal microbiota, endogenous metabolism and cognitive impairment.
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