PART OF THE BRAIN STAYS “YOUTHFUL” INTO OLDER AGE
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton: 7-Aug-2014 11:00 AM EDT
Citations 12th International Cognitive Neuroscience Conference Newsroom: University of Adelaide
Newswise — At least one part of the human brain may be able to process information the same way in older age as it does in the prime of life, according to new research conducted at the University of Adelaide.
A study compared the ability of 60 older and younger people to respond to visual and non-visual stimuli in order to measure their “spatial attention” skills.
Spatial attention is critical for many aspects of life, from driving, to walking, to picking up and using objects.
“Our studies have found that older and younger adults perform in a similar way on a range of visual and non-visual tasks that measure spatial attention,” says Dr Joanna Brooks, who conducted the study as a Visiting Research Fellow with the University of Adelaide’s School of Psychology and the School of Medicine.
“Both younger (aged 18-38 years) and older (55-95 years) adults had the same responses for spatial attention tasks involving touch, sight or sound.
“In one task, participants were asked to feel wooden objects whilst blindfolded and decide where the middle of the object was – participants’ judgements were significantly biased towards the left-hand side of the true object centre. This bias is subtle but highly consistent,” Dr Brooks says.
“When we think of aging, we think not just of the physical aspects but also the cognitive side of it, especially when it comes to issues such as reaction time, which is typically slower among older adults. However, our research suggests that certain types of cognitive systems in the right cerebral hemisphere – like spatial attention – are ‘encapsulated’ and may be protected from aging,” she says.
Dr Brooks, who is now a Research Fellow in Healthy Aging based at the Australian National University, recently presented her results at the 12th International Cognitive Neuroscience Conference in Brisbane. Her project is part of an international collaboration with scientists at the University of Edinburgh and Queen Margaret University in Scotland to better understand spatial attention in the human brain.
“Our results challenge current models of cognitive aging because they show that the right side of the brain remains dominant for spatial processing throughout the entire adult lifespan,” Dr Brooks says. “We now need to better understand how and why some areas of the brain seem to be more affected by aging than others.”
Dr Brooks’ research could also be helpful in better understanding how diseases such as Alzheimer’s affect the brain.
IS FRUCTOSE THE NEW TOBACCO?
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Posted August 9, 2014 By Stone Hearth News
Newswise — A new study suggests uric acid may play a role in causing metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Uric acid is a normal waste product removed from the body by the kidneys and intestines and released in urine and stool. Elevated levels of uric acid are known to cause gout, an accumulation of the acid in the joints. High levels also are associated with the markers of metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by obesity, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and high cholesterol. But it has been unclear whether uric acid itself is causing damage or is simply a byproduct of other processes that lead to dysfunctional metabolism.
Published Aug. 7 in Nature Communications, the new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests excess uric acid in the blood is no innocent bystander. Rather, it appears to be a culprit in disrupting normal metabolism.
“Uric acid may play a direct, causative role in the development of metabolic syndrome,” said first author Brian J. DeBosch, MD, PhD, an instructor in pediatrics. “Our work showed that the gut is an important clearance mechanism for uric acid, opening the door to new potential therapies for preventing or treating type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.”
Recent research by the paper’s senior author, Kelle H. Moley, MD, the James P. Crane Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and her collaborators has shown that a protein called GLUT9 is an important transporter of uric acid.
DeBosch, a pediatric gastroenterologist who treats patients at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, studied mice to learn what happens when GLUT9 stops working in the gut, essentially blocking the body’s ability to remove uric acid from the intestine. In this study, the kidney’s ability to remove uric acid remained normal.
Eating regular chow, mice missing GLUT9 only in the gut quickly developed elevated uric acid in the blood and urine compared with control mice. And at only 6-8 weeks of age, they developed hallmarks of metabolic syndrome: high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, high blood insulin and fatty liver deposits, among other symptoms.
The researchers also found that the drug allopurinol, which reduces uric acid production in the body and has long been used to treat gout, improved some, but not all, of the measures of metabolic health. Treatment with the drug lowered blood pressure and total cholesterol levels.
Exposure to uric acid is impossible to avoid because it is a normal byproduct of cell turnover in the body. But there is evidence that diet may contribute to uric acid levels. Many foods contain compounds called purines that break down into uric acid. And adding to growing concerns about fructose in the diet, evidence suggests that fructose metabolism in the liver also drives uric acid production.
“Switching so heavily to fructose in foods over the past 30 years has been devastating,” Moley said. “There’s a growing feeling that uric acid is a cause, not a consequence, of metabolic syndrome. And now we know fructose directly makes uric acid in the liver. With that in mind, we are doing further research to study what happens to these mice on a high-fructose diet.”
This work was supported by the Pediatric Scientist Development Program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), grant 5K12HD000850-27, DDRCC grant P30DK52574, and R01HD040390-07; the German Ministry of Education and Research; and the State of Brandenburg. The Washington University Mouse Diabetes Model Phenotyping Core is supported by DRTC grant P60 DK020579. Mass spectrometry was performed in the Metabolomics Facility at Washington University (P30 DK020579).
DeBosch BJ, Kluth O, Fujiwara H, Schurmann A, Moley KH. Early-onset metabolic syndrome in mice lacking the intestinal uric acid transporter SLC2A9. Nature Communications. Aug. 7, 2014.
6 HAPPY WAYS TO LOSE SOME WEIGHT
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton August 10, 2014 By Stone Hearth News
Let us face it: Trying to eat healthier and move more can sometimes feel like a drag. Change your mindset with these six tricks.
Set the table
A beautifully dressed table allows you to really cherish what you are eating. So use the nice silverware, buy flowers, light candles, and bust out your place mats and cloth napkins. Even if you are reheating leftovers or having a healthy frozen entree, take it out of the container, put it on a nice plate and savor each bite by candlelight as you listen to your favorite music. Using a knife and fork to cut each bite in to small pieces also makes you slow down and eat less. It takes 20 minutes for our bellies to register that we are full, so the slower, the better.
Dining al fresco can be so much fun. As you enjoy the fresh air and the people-watching, notice how you slow down, stay present, and really taste each yummy morsel of food you eat. When my husband and I went on our honeymoon in Italy we ate outside for many meals and I always took my time and enjoyed the scenery just as much as the food I was eating. Yes, vacations are special occasions but you can easily appreciate your patio or back yard—even a park bench.
Brighten your plate
Add splashes of colors and shapes and use a variety of healthy vegetables, plus lean protein and a small portion of carbohydrates. I notice my 1-year-old son gets such a kick out of all of his different sized mixed vegetables. He will pick up a pea and roll it around a few times before eating it, then he grabs a little carrot, next a green bean, then a piece of corn. He is visually stimulated and interested in the textures, tastes, and colors of his food. Following that cue as adults can help us savor our meals.
Go out for a fancy lunch
Not only will you save calories—lunch portions are generally smaller and you are less likely to drink alcohol mid-day—but you will also save money! One of my favorite things to do is go out to lunch during restaurant week in NYC with friends. We have a little salad, a nice meal, and a small but tasty dessert. I am usually satisfied until dinner and often only want something light for my last meal of the day.
Share your creation
Show off your pretty meal by snapping a photo for Instagram before you eat. You might just appreciate it more if you treat it like an Insta-artwork. You can also share by saving a bite or two on your plate for your partner, friend, or child to try. I give my son Timothy a taste of everything I am eating at each meal. I automatically save a few calories by letting him sample a bit of my salmon and veggies or PB&J.
Hold a competition with your office colleagues, group of friends, fellow moms or even your spouse. When you have others to share in a goal with you, it makes slimming down more fun…and who does not love a friendly competition? If you are too shy to involve others, buy a tracking device and have a competition with yourself and the online community. Every day you can add more steps to your log or shave off a few unwanted calories.
Kristin McGee leading yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. ACE certified personal trainer who regularly trains celebrity clients in New York and Los Angeles. Contributing fitness editor at Health.
See you Monday. Jeanne