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Playing Sports Improve School Grades

Kids Sports

A new Michigan State University study adds to growing evidence that participating in recreational sports not only can help improve grades while attending college, but it also can help students return for another year.

Among nearly 1,800 recent freshmen at MSU, students who played intramural sports averaged a 3.25 grade point average at the end of their first year compared to a 3.07 GPA for those who didn’t play.

But it’s more than just better grades. Those who participated in recreational sports were less likely to drop or fail any classes their first year and were 40% more likely to move onto sophomore status. They also were 2.5 times more likely to come back to the university.

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The findings are published in the Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory and Practice.

According to the researchers, the sweet spot seems to be anywhere between four to seven different activities throughout the year, which is new data discovered in another soon-to-be-published study led by Vasold and Pivarnik.

“Don’t go crazy. Don’t join 20 teams,” Pivarnik said. “Grab some friends, find a moderate number of activities and get involved in something different. The four-to-seven range seems to be effective and is linked to a higher GPA.”

Read more about how “Can Recreational Sports Make You A Better Student?” from ScienceDaily.

Food Influences Mental Health

Happy Eating

An analysis of data from almost 46,000 people has found that weight loss, nutrient boosting and fat reduction diets can all reduce the symptoms of depression.

Dr Joseph Firth, an Honorary Research fellow at The University of Manchester and Research Fellow at NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University, says existing research has been unable to definitively establish if dietary improvement could benefit mental health.

And the study provides convincing evidence that dietary improvement significantly reduces symptoms of depression, even in people without diagnosed depressive disorders.

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Dr Firth said: “The overall evidence for the effects of diet on mood and mental well-being had up to now yet to be assessed.

“But our recent meta-analysis has done just that; showing that adopting a healthier diet can boost peoples’ mood. However, it has no clear effects on anxiety.”

“The similar effects from any type of dietary improvement suggests that highly-specific or specialized diets are unnecessary for the average individual.

“Instead, just making simple changes is equally beneficial for mental health. In particular, eating more nutrient-dense meals which are high in fibre and vegetables, while cutting back on fast-foods and refined sugars appears to be sufficient for avoiding the potentially negative psychological effects of a ‘junk food’ diet.” said Dr Firth

Read more about how “Healthy Diet Can Ease” from ScienceDaily.

Early Menopause Can Indicate Early Rheumatoid Arthritis

Female Doctor

A recent study published in Rheumatologysuggests that women with rheumatoid arthritis suffer a greater decline in physical function following menopause. After studying 8189 women with rheumatoid arthritis, researchers found that pre-menopausal women experienced a slower physical decline than those that were post-menopausal.

Physical function is an important aspect of study in patients with rheumatoid arthritis as it impacts their quality of life. Women experience rheumatoid arthritis at a rate three times greater than men, and also have more severe decline and increased disability, yet the sex-based differences in the condition remain poorly understood.

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Similarly, women who experience early menopause are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis compared to those who experience normal or late menopause.

Given these connections between hormonal or reproductive life events and rheumatoid arthritis in women, researchers conducted an observational study to investigate the association of menopause with functional status in women with the disease

Read more about how “Menopause Found To Worse” from ScienceDaily.

Protein And The Elderly

Protein

Recently, a research team focused their attention on learning whether eating more protein could contribute to helping people maintain independence. Their study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Protein is known to slow the loss of muscle mass. Having enough muscle mass can help preserve the ability to perform daily activities and prevent disability. Older adults tend to have a lower protein intake than younger adults due to poorer health, reduced physical activity, and changes in the mouth and teeth.

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To learn more about the health benefits of adequate protein intake in older adults, the researchers examined the impact of protein intake on the increase of disability over five years.

Participants who ate more protein at the beginning of the study were less likely to become disabled when compared to people who ate less protein.

Dr. Nuno Mendonca, the principal author of the study, said: “Our findings support current thinking about increasing the recommended daily intake of protein to maintain active and healthy aging.”

Older adults should aim to eat about 1.0 to 1.2 grams of protein for every 2.2 pounds of body weight. For example, for a person who weighs 160lbs should consume around 73.6 grams of protein per day. A chicken breast of average size is usually between 25 to 35 grams of protein to give a frame of reference.

Read more about how “For Older Adults, Does Protein…” from ScienceDaily.

Liver Disease Lowers With Physical Activity

Walking

Chronic liver disease is increasing, partly due to the obesity epidemic, and currently there are no guidelines for the optimal type of exercise for the prevention of cirrhosis-related mortality. Researchers hope these findings will help provide specific exercise recommendations for patients at risk for cirrhosis and its complications.

“The benefit of exercise is not a new concept, but the impact of exercise on mortality from cirrhosis and from liver cancer has not yet been explored on this scale,” said Tracey Simon, MD, lead researcher on the study and instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. “Our findings show that both walking and strength training contribute to substantial reductions in risk of cirrhosis-related death, which is significant because we know very little about modifiable risk factors.”

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Researchers observed that adults in the highest quintile of weekly walking activity had 73 percent lower risk for cirrhosis-related death than those in the lowest quintile.

“In the U.S., mortality due to cirrhosis is increasing dramatically, with rates expected to triple by the year 2030. In the face of this alarming trend, information on modifiable risk factors that might prevent liver disease is needed,” said Dr. Simon. “Our findings support further research to define the optimal type and intensity of physical activity to prevent adverse outcomes in patients at risk for cirrhosis.”

Read more about how “Walking And Strength Training May Decrease The Risk…” from ScienceDaily.

Which Diet To Follow?

Diets

The researchers agreed that no specific fat to carbohydrate ratio is best for everyone, and that an overall high-quality diet that is low in sugar and refined grains will help most people maintain a healthy weight and low chronic disease risk.

“This is a model for how we can transcend the diet wars,” said lead author David Ludwig, professor in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School and a physician at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Our goal was to assemble a team with different areas of expertise and contrasting views, and to identify areas of agreement without glossing over differences.”

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High consumption of fat causes obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and possibly cancer, therefore low-fat diets are optimal.

Processed carbohydrates have negative effects on metabolism; lower-carbohydrate or ketogenic (very low-carbohydrate) diets with high fat content are better for health.

The relative quantity of dietary fat and carbohydrate has little health significance — what’s important is the type of fat or carbohydrate source consumed.

Read more about how “Which Diet Is Better?” from ScienceDaily.

Brain Games

Brain Games

The struggle is real for all of us. Everyone has had that thought run through their head, should I go to the gym today?

We all know that exercise is good for us and our body wants to move, but what is slowing us down? The brain, that thing that controls the human body.

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“Conserving energy has been essential for humans’ survival, as it allowed us to be more efficient in searching for food and shelter, competing for sexual partners, and avoiding predators,” said Boisgontier, a postdoctoral researcher in UBC’s brain behavior lab at the department of physical therapy, and senior author of the study. “The failure of public policies to counteract the pandemic of physical inactivity may be due to brain processes that have been developed and reinforced across evolution.”

The research used participants who controlled a avatar in a computer game. They were instructed to move the avatar towards images/depictions of activity vs inactivity. The participants were also monitored for brain activity during the game.

The results were everyone moved towards the activity image compared to the inactivity; but the brain had to “work” harder to move towards the activity image. This suggests the body and brain know that activity is good and should be done, but the brain feels like it has to work harder to get there; thus we may self-convince our self that today is not the day to workout.

Read more about how “Hardwired For Laziness?” from ScienceDaily.

Leg Muscles Influence Brain

Running

The researchers in this study wanted to look at the role the leg muscles play in health. Researchers noticed that disease or chronic condition patients that had no use of their legs, often had lower health markers across the board. The study was looking at the response of the body when inactive of the legs sets in.

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“Our study supports the notion that people who are unable to do load-bearing exercises — such as patients who are bed-ridden, or even astronauts on extended travel — not only lose muscle mass, but their body chemistry is altered at the cellular level and even their nervous system is adversely impacted,” says Dr. Raffaella Adami from the Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy.

When we use our legs to walk, run, bike, jump, etc we’re using the muscles to move the skeleton (resistance) and our brain is informed. The brain receives signals from the leg muscles that help produce healthy neural cells, essential both for brain and nervous systems. When the leg muscle’s do not get worked, the brain begins cutting back the development of new nerve cells. This is a real case of use it or lose it, but it effects more than just your pant size.

Read more about how “Leg Exercise Is Critical To Brain” from ScienceDaily.

Avocado Keeps You Full

Avocado

A new study released by the Center for Nutrition Research at Illinois Institute of Technology suggests that meals that include fresh avocado as a substitute for refined carbohydrates can significantly suppress hunger and increase meal satisfaction in overweight and obese adults.

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“For years, fats have been targeted as the main cause of obesity, and now carbohydrates have come under scrutiny for their role in appetite regulation and weight control,” said Britt Burton-Freeman, Ph.D., director of the Center for Nutrition Research at Illinois Tech. “There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to optimal meal composition for managing appetite. However, understanding the relationship between food chemistry and its physiological effects in different populations can reveal opportunities for addressing appetite control and reducing rates of obesity, putting us a step closer to personalized dietary recommendations.”

The research found that meals including avocado not only resulted in a significant reduction in hunger and an increase in how satisfied participants felt, but also found that an intestinal hormone called PYY was an important messenger of the physiological response.

Read more about how “Avocado, A Substitution For Carbs” from ScienceDaily.

Irregular Sleep Leads To Problems

Sleeping

A new study has found that not sticking to a regular bedtime and wakeup schedule — and getting different amounts of sleep each night — can put a person at higher risk for obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, high blood sugar and other metabolic disorders. In fact, for every hour of variability in time to bed and time asleep, a person may have up to a 27% greater chance of experiencing a metabolic abnormality.

The results of the study, which was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health, appear today in the journal Diabetes Care.

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“Many previous studies have shown the link between insufficient sleep and higher risk of obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders,” said study author Tianyi Huang, Sc.D., epidemiologist of the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. “But we didn’t know much about the impact of irregular sleep, high day-to-day variability in sleep duration and timing. Our research shows that, even after considering the amount of sleep a person gets and other lifestyle factors, every one-hour night-to-night difference in the time to bed or the duration of a night’s sleep multiplies the adverse metabolic effect.”

“Our results suggest that maintaining a regular sleep schedule has beneficial metabolic effects,” said study coauthor Susan Redline, M.D., senior physician in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “This message may enrich current prevention strategies for metabolic disease that primarily focus on promoting sufficient sleep and other healthy lifestyles.”

Read more about how “Irregular Sleep Patterns” from ScienceDaily.