Sunday December 8, 2019

Here’s How a Healthy Diet Slows Down Development of Memory Problems

Healthy diet may slow development of memory problems

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Improve memory
A healthy diet and exercise can slow down memory problems. Pixabay

A heart-healthy diet and aerobic exercise may slow development of memory problems, a new study suggests.

Cognitive impairment without dementia (CIND), or mild cognitive impairment, is a condition that affects your memory and may put you at risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, the researchers said.

For the study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers from the Duke University examined two potential ways to slow the development of CIND based on what we know about preventing heart disease.

The research team had a theory: That the healthy lifestyle behaviours that slow the development of heart disease could reduce heart disease risk and also slow cognitive decline in older adults with CIND.

healthy diet for memory
A diet with a higher nutritional value can sharpen your memory. Pixabay

These behaviours include regular exercise and a heart-healthy diet, such as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.

In order to investigate their theory, the researchers designed a study titled “Exercise and NutritionaL Interventions for coGnitive and Cardiovascular HealTh EnhaNcement” (or ENLIGHTEN for short).

The goal of the study was to examine the effects of aerobic exercise and the DASH diet on cognitive functioning in older adults with CIND. The study examined 160 adults 55-years-old or older.

The study participants were older adults who didn’t exercise and had memory problems, difficulty thinking, and making decisions. They also had at least one additional risk factor for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or other chronic conditions.

Participants took a number of tests to measure their heart disease risk factors and cognitive ability.

Researchers also assessed participants’ dietary habits and ability to perform daily activities.

The participants were then randomly assigned to one of four groups: a group doing aerobic exercise alone, a group following the DASH diet alone, a group doing aerobic exercise and following the DASH diet combined, or a group receiving standard health education.

Exercising for memory
Exercising everyday can help improve your memory. Pixabay

At the conclusion of the six-month intervention and assessment, participants were free to engage in whatever activity and dietary habits they desired, with no restrictions.

The results of the research team’s study showed that exercise improved the participants’ ability to think, remember, and make decisions compared to non-exercisers, and that combining exercise with the DASH diet improved the ability to think, remember, and make decisions, compared to people who didn’t exercise or follow the diet.

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The researchers concluded that their findings are promising proof that improved ability to think, remember, and make decisions can last one year after completing a six-month exercise intervention. They suggested that further studies would be needed to learn more. (IANS)

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Women Taking Oral Contraceptives have Smaller Brain Region: Study

Brain region smaller in birth control pill users

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Brain contraceptives
Researches found a smaller hypothalamus volume in women consuming oral contraceptives. Pixabay

Researchers have found that women taking oral contraceptives, commonly known as birth control pills, had significantly smaller hypothalamus volume, compared to women not taking the pill.

Located at the base of the brain above the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus produces hormones and helps regulate essential bodily functions including body temperature, mood, appetite, sex drive, sleep cycles and heart rate.

Structural effects of sex hormones, including oral contraceptive pills, on the human hypothalamus have never been reported, according to the researchers.

This may be in part because validated methods to quantitatively analyse MRI exams of the hypothalamus have not been available.

“There is a lack of research on the effects of oral contraceptives on this small but essential part of the living human brain,” said Michael L. Lipton, professor of radiology at the Gruss Magnetic Resonance Research Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in US.

Contraceptives
Structural effects of sex hormones, including oral contraceptives, on the human hypothalamus have never been reported. Pixabay

“We validated methods for assessing the volume of the hypothalamus and confirm, for the first time, that current oral contraceptive pill usage is associated with smaller hypothalamic volume,” Lipton said.

Oral contraceptives are among the most popular forms of birth control and are also used to treat a host of conditions, including irregular menstruation, cramps, acne, endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome.

According to a 2018 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, from 2015 to 2017 approximately 47 million women aged 15-49 in the US reported current use of contraceptives. Of those, 12.6 per cent used the pill.

For the this study, the researchers recruited a group of 50 healthy women, including 21 women who were taking oral contraceptives.

All 50 women underwent brain MRI, and a validated approach was used to measure hypothalamic volume.

“We found a dramatic difference in the size of the brain structures between women who were taking oral contraceptives and those who were not,” Lipton said.

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“This initial study shows a strong association and should motivate further investigation into the effects of oral contraceptives on brain structure and their potential impact on brain function,” Lipton added.

The study was presented at the 105th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America-RSNA 2019. (IANS)