Smart living, healthy aging

From the research world comes more incentive to stay active — or become so — as you age.

From the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University comes “preliminary evidence” that keeping your brain sharp can help you physically. Einstein researchers took a group of 20 “frail” seniors (age 70 or older who walk less than a meter per second) and divided them into two groups. Ten went about their normal routines, 10 participated in the MindFit brain fitness program: For 45 to 60 minutes a day, three days a week for eight weeks, they carried out tasks that honed their cognitive abilities: focusing, planning, organizing, problem solving. After eight weeks, the MindFit folks walked slightly faster, but their ability to walk and talk at the same time improved significantly.

Lead study author Dr. Joe Verghese cautioned that the study size was small and that a larger clinical trial still needs to be conducted, but “the results suggest that brain fitness programs show promise for helping the frail elderly walk better.”

Read more at ScienceDaily.

Also suggesting that active agers are happy agers are mice whose nerve cells have been genetically engineered to glow in fluorescent color. What those groovy, glowing nerve cells showed, according to a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is that exercise and “caloric restrictions” can rejuvenate connections between nerves and muscles, thereby delaying some of the debilitating effects of growing old.

According to researchers, for a healthy neuromuscular synapse to occur our nerve endings and their corresponding muscle fiber receptors need to match perfectly. Over time, though, those connections deteriorate. According to researcher Joshua Sanes, professor of molecular and cellular biology and director of the Center for Brain Science at Harvard: “With calorie restriction, we saw reversal of all aspects of synapse disassembly. With exercise, we saw a reversal of most, but not all.”

Again, researchers caution, more research needs to be done to understand the relationship between exercise, diet and healthy synapses.

Read more at Science Daily.

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In an unrelated study, more evidence that drinking water will do you well: In this case drinking two cups of water before a meal will help you lose weight.

In a study of 48 adults between 55 and 75, those who drank two 8-ounce cups of water before their three squares lost 5 pounds more than their non-drinking counterparts over a 12-week period during which all were put on similar diets. The drinkers, according to the study consumed from 75 to 90 calories fewer than the non-drinkers. The reason may seem obvious: The drinkers, with 16 ounces of liquid already sloshing around in their belloes, entered the meal feeling more full.

Read more at Medical News Today.

Photo: Mighty Mouse, a celebrated fitness buff and life-long adherent to a diet strong on dairy, is still going strong at 68. It is unknown whether his nerve cells glowed in the dark.

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