The Simple Treatment That Slows Brain Aging And Cognitive Decline

A common complaint that increases brain aging, unless treated.

High blood pressure, at any age or for any duration, accelerates brain aging, a study finds.

People with high blood pressure are at greater risk of memory problems and difficulties concentrating and talking fluently.

Around half of all Americans have high blood pressure, which is simply treated with a combination of lifestyle changes and medication.

The cut-off for high blood pressure is around 120 to 130 mmHg (this is the top number on the reading).

Sometimes this range is known as ‘prehypertension’, but the study still found this level damaging to cognitive skills over time.

High blood pressure is problematic for young and old, explained Professor Sandhi M. Barreto, study co-author:

“We initially anticipated that the negative effects of hypertension on cognitive function would be more critical when hypertension started at a younger age, however, our results show similar accelerated cognitive performance decline whether hypertension started in middle age or at older ages.

We also found that effectively treating high blood pressure at any age in adulthood could reduce or prevent this acceleration.

Collectively, the findings suggest hypertension needs to be prevented, diagnosed and effectively treated in adults of any age to preserve cognitive function.”

The conclusions come from an analyses of over 7,000 people in Brazil who were tracked for almost four years.

The results showed that people’s cognitive skills declined if their blood pressure was over 121 mmHg and they did not take medication.

People with uncontrolled hypertension showed the worst declines in thinking skills.

Professor Barreto said:

“In addition to other proven benefits of blood pressure control, our results highlight the importance of diagnosing and controlling hypertension in patients of any age to prevent or slow down cognitive decline.

Our results also reinforce the need to maintain lower blood pressure levels throughout life, since even prehypertension levels were associated with cognitive decline.”

The study was published in the journal Hypertension (Teles De Menezes et al., 2020).

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How To Encourage Your Partner To Change Themselves

Empathy for certain emotions helps couples have difficult discussions about change, research finds.

Direct communication is the best way to get your partner to change, research finds.

Whether it is getting them to lose weight, spend less money or change life goals, being more direct is the best approach.

Naturally, these sorts of discussions are fraught with difficulty.

The emotional tone of the communication is vital.

Be empathetic

One key to having difficult discussions is empathy.

Research shows that people with stronger relationships tend to be better at reading the emotions of embarrassment, shame and sadness in their partner.

Couples who perceived these softer negative emotions more clearly tended to be more satisfied with their relationships.

In contrast, those who were better at spotting stronger negative emotions, like anger and contempt, had weaker relationships.

Dr Bonnie Le, the study’s first author, explained the reason:

“If you are appeasing with your partner — or feel embarrassed or bashful — and your partner accurately picks up on this, it can signal to your partner that you care about their feelings and recognize a change request might be hurtful.

Or if your partner is angry or contemptuous — what we call dominance emotions — that signals very different, negative information that may hurt a partner if they accurately perceive it.”

Reading embarrassment and shame

The study included 11 couples who had dated for an average of three years.

They were asked to discuss what aspects of their partner they wanted to change.

Naturally, this raised some strong emotions which the researchers asked the couples about after the discussion.

This procedure simulates a common way of dealing with relationship conflict: by asking your partner to change.

The results showed that couples able to read emotions like sadness, embarrassment and shame had stronger relationships.

This is probably because being able to read these emotions helps difficult discussions — like those requesting change — to go more smoothly.

However, reacting more strongly to anger and contempt likely derails difficult discussions early on.

Professor Stéphane Côté, study co-author, said:

“We think reading emotions allows partners to coordinate what they do and say to each other, and perhaps that is helpful when appeasement emotions are read, but not when anger emotions are read.

Anger seems to overpower any effect of reading emotions, which is consistent with lots of research findings on how anger harms relationships.”

Direct communication is the best way to get a partner to change.

It must be done sensitively, though, said Dr Le:

“It’s not bad to feel a little bashful or embarrassed when raising these issues because it signals to the partner that you care and it’s valuable for your partner to see that.

You acknowledge that what you raise may hurt their feelings.

It shows that you are invested, that you are committed to having this conversation, and committed to not hurting them.

And the extent to which this is noted by your partner may foster a more positive relationship.”

The study was published in the journal Psychological Science (Le et al., 2020).

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3 Fascinating Signs Of High IQ: From Bedtime To Sense Of Humour

How your sense of humour, what time you go to bed and your curiosity reveal your intelligence.

Being curious, staying up late and having a dark sense of humour are all signs of a high IQ, psychological research finds.

People who are curious ask lots of questions, look for surprises, seek out sensations and make time to search out new ideas, a study finds.

Intelligence, along with curiosity and some personality factors, predicts successful performance in many areas.

Night owl

Being a night owl, meanwhile, is linked to stronger reasoning and better analytical and conceptual thinking.

Night owls prefer to stay up late at night and rise later in the morning.

Around one-third of the population are night owls, with one-quarter preferring to rise early.

The remainder fall somewhere in between, being neither early risers nor late sleepers.

Dark humour

Liking dark humour is a sign of higher intelligence, research finds.

Dark humour, the study’s authors write, is:

“…a kind of humour that treats sinister subjects like death, disease, deformity, handicap or warfare with bitter amusement and presents such tragic, distressing or morbid topics in humorous terms.

Black humour, often called grotesque, morbid, gallows or sick humour, is used to express the absurdity, insensitivity, paradox and cruelty of the modern world.

Characters or situations are usually exaggerated far beyond the limits of normal satire or irony, potentially requiring increased cognitive efforts to get the joke.”

Surprisingly, though, people who like dark humour feel the least aggressive towards others.

In other words, it is not aggressive people who like sick jokes.

Dark humour, it seems, is more difficult to enjoy without higher intelligence.

The study was published in the journals Perspectives on Psychological Science, Personality and Individual Differences & Cognitive Processing (Díaz-Morales & Escribano, 2013; von Stumm et al., 2011; Willinger et al., 2017).

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A High-Fat Food That Reduces Blood Pressure

Two servings a day of this high-fat food could lower diabetes risk and reduce high blood pressure.

Eating more whole fat dairy is linked to a lower incidence of diabetes and hypertension, a study has found.

Having dairy products twice a day in your regular diet reduces the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, the risk factors of Metabolic syndrome.

Diabetes, hypertension, and obesity together will lead to metabolic syndrome, a disorder that puts people at higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

Past studies suggest that higher consumption of dairy products  reduces the odds of high blood pressure, diabetes, and so metabolic syndrome.

This study suggests that full-fat dairy foods but not low-fat dairy have the strongest effect on lowering the incidence of metabolic syndrome and its related risk factors.

To test if this is true for populations in different countries, researchers included 21 countries on five continents.

Participants were between 35- and 70-years-old and the average follow-up was over nine years.

Dairy intake was either low-fat (1–2%) or whole-fat, including mixed dishes prepared with dairy ingredients, milk, yogurt, cheese, yogurt drinks, butter, and cream.

Average diary intake was 179 grams (g) per day, with whole-fat dairy intake counting almost twice as much as low-fat.

The standard serving and portion sizes were used, for example, 5 g for one teaspoon of butter, 15 g for a slice of cheese, and 244 g for a cup of yogurt or a glass of milk.

Compared with eating no dairy, two servings a day of dairy foods reduced the risk of metabolic syndrome by 24 percent and for whole-fat diary by 28 percent.

The likelihood of developing diabetes and hypertension was reduced up to 12 percent.

The risk was reduced to 14 percent with a dairy intake of 3 servings per day.

The authors concluded:

“If our findings are confirmed in sufficiently large and long term trials, then increasing dairy consumption may represent a feasible and low cost approach to reducing [metabolic syndrome], hypertension, diabetes, and ultimately cardiovascular disease events worldwide.”

The study was published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care (Bhavadharini et al., 2020).

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Longer Life: 30-Minute Activity Reduces Common Disease Risk 20%

Thirty minutes per week of this activity lowers the risk of early death, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

People who do muscle strengthening activities for 30 to 60 minutes per week, are at a 10 to 20 percent lower risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and early death.

Muscles, or more precisely, skeletal muscles are important for energy production, body movement, and generally the quality of human life.

Adults’ skeletal muscle health greatly benefits from regular muscle strengthening activities such as heavy gardening, digging and shovelling, cycling, hill walking, resistance band exercises, lunges, sit-ups, push-ups, squats, and lifting weights.

Past studies have found that muscle strengthening exercises are associated with longevity, but the optimal dose was unknown.

For this reason, a research team analysed data from sixteen studies on associations between muscle strengthening activities and health outcomes in adults.

They found that muscle strengthening activities reduced diabetes, lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and death up to 17 percent.

People who performed muscle strengthening activities for 30 to 60 minutes per week benefited most as the risk of CVD, cancer and all causes of death was reduced up to 20 percent.

The risk of diabetes remarkably went down with 60 minutes muscle strengthening once-a-week  activities were carried out.

However, combination of muscle strengthening and aerobic exercises seem to offer maximum risk reduction.

These two activities together reduced risk of death for CVD by 46 percent, all-causes by 40 percent, and cancer by 28 percent.

The authors concluded:

“The combination of muscle strengthening and aerobic activities may provide a greater benefit for reducing all-cause, [cardiovascular disease], and total cancer mortality.

Given that the available data are limited, further studies—such as studies focusing on a more diverse population—are needed to increase the certainty of the evidence.”

The study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (Momma et al., 2022).

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The Very Popular Food Linked To Brain Shrinkage

The Very Popular Food Linked To Brain Shrinkage post imageThe Very Popular Food Linked To Brain Shrinkage post image

The shrinkage is linked to developing Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.

Excess sugar in the diet could lead to brain shrinkage, a study suggests.

A smaller brain is also linked to problems in old age, such as dementia.

All of the 249 people in the study had blood sugar levels in the normal range.

However, those with higher blood sugar levels were more likely to have less brain volume in key areas in the hippocampus (memory) and amygdala (emotion and cognition).

Shrinkage in both of these areas is also linked to developing Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.

Dr Nicolas Cherbuin, the study’s first author, said:

“Numerous studies have shown a link between type 2 diabetes and brain shrinkage and dementia, but we haven’t known much about whether people with blood sugar on the high end of normal experience these same effects.”

The researchers controlled for other factors that might have affected the relationship including smoking, high blood pressure and alcohol use.

Dr Cherbuin said:

“These findings suggest that even for people who do not have diabetes, blood sugar levels could have an impact on brain health.

More research is needed, but these findings may lead us to re-evaluate the concept of normal blood sugar levels and the definition of diabetes.”

The study was published in the journal Neurology (Cherbuin et al., 2012).

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How Social Media Use Affects Depression & Anxiety Symptoms In Children (M)

Many people assume that social media is partly to blame for worsening mental health among young people — but is it really?


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The Tasty Food That Protects Against Heart Disease

Indulge in this tasty food once a week to reduce your risk of heart disease.

Eating chocolate more than once a week has been found to lower the chance of heart disease, a review of 50 years of studies shows.

The research suggests that chocolate consumption benefits heart health, particularly improving blood pressure and the functions of the endothelium (the inner lining of the heart and blood vessels).

Dr Chayakrit Krittanawong, the study’s first author, said:

“Our study suggests that chocolate helps keep the heart’s blood vessels healthy.

In the past, clinical studies have shown that chocolate is beneficial for both blood pressure and the lining of blood vessels.

I wanted to see if it affects the blood vessels supplying the heart (the coronary arteries) or not.

And if it does, is it beneficial or harmful?”

Researchers analysed six studies on 336,289 participants with a follow-up of nearly nine years.

People who ate chocolate more than once a week had a reduced coronary artery disease risk of 8 percent when compared to those who ate chocolate less than once a week.

During the nine year follow-up, 4,667 participants had a heart attack and there were 14,043 cases of coronary artery disease (CAD).

CAD is the most common type of heart disease, which occurs when the arteries become narrowed and hardened and so they can’t supply blood to the heart muscle properly.

If CAD advances, the blood flow to the heart will suddenly become clogged and cause a heart attack.

Dr Krittanawong said:

“Chocolate contains heart healthy nutrients such as flavonoids, methylxanthines, polyphenols and stearic acid which may reduce inflammation and increase good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol).”

Dr Krittanawong pointed out that the study didn’t investigated what amount of chocolate and what type of chocolate can boost heart health.

“Chocolate appears promising for prevention of coronary artery disease, but more research is needed to pinpoint how much and what kind of chocolate could be recommended.

Moderate amounts of chocolate seem to protect the coronary arteries but it’s likely that large quantities do not.

The calories, sugar, milk, and fat in commercially available products need to be considered, particularly in diabetics and obese people.”

The study was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology (Krittanawong et al., 2020).

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This Common Drink Reduces Memory Loss Risk 70%

The common drink may help to delay dementia.

Drinking coffee is linked to a reduction in memory loss risk of up to 70%, research finds.

Three or more cups of coffee a day is associated with better memory over time than drinking only one cup.

Women over 80-years-old were 70% less likely to develop dementia if they drank three or more cups of coffee a day.

Those over 65 saw a drop in risk of 30% if they drank three or more cups.

The study included 7,017 people who were followed for four years.

Their cognitive performance was tested, along with their caffeine consumption.

The protective effect against memory loss was only seen in women in this study.

Dr Karen Ritchie, the study’s first author, said:

“Women may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

Their bodies may react differently to the stimulant, or they may metabolize caffeine differently.”

However, other studies have since shown neuroprotective effects in men as well.

Dr Karen Ritchie, the study’s first author, cautioned:

“While we have some ideas as to how this works biologically, we need to have a better understanding of how caffeine affects the brain before we can start promoting caffeine intake as a way to reduce cognitive decline.

But the results are interesting — caffeine use is already widespread and it has fewer side effects than other treatments for cognitive decline, and it requires a relatively small amount for a beneficial effect.”

While coffee seemed to have a neuroprotective effect, the rates of dementia were the same in people who drank coffee as those who did not.

This suggests caffeine may help to delay dementia, rather than preventing it.

Dr Ritchie said:

“We really need a longer study to look at whether caffeine prevents dementia; it might be that caffeine could slow the dementia process rather than preventing it.”

The study was published in the journal Neurology (Ritchie et al., 2007).

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The Sleep Pattern Linked To Being Smarter

Half the people in the study, though, slept about an hour less than the recommended amount.

Sleeping between 7 and 8 hours a night is best for the brain, research concludes.

More or less sleep than this is linked to lower cognitive performance.

Half the people in the study, though, slept about an hour less than the recommended amount.

The brains of people who slept four hours or less were nine years older, cognitively.

Over-sleeping was also linked to worse cognitive performance.

Professor Adrian Owen, the study’s first author, said:

“We really wanted to capture the sleeping habits of people around the entire globe.

Obviously, there have been many smaller sleep studies of people in laboratories but we wanted to find out what sleep is like in the real world.

People who logged in gave us a lot of information about themselves.

We had a fairly extensive questionnaire and they told us things like which medications they were on, how old they were, where they were in the world and what kind of education they’d received because these are all factors that might have contributed to some of the results.”

The results come from over 40,000 people around the world who completed a survey and cognitive tests.

Lack of sleep — or too much — was bad for the brains of young and old just the same.

Dr Conor Wild, study co-author, said:

“We found that the optimum amount of sleep to keep your brain performing its best is 7 to 8 hours every night and that corresponds to what the doctors will tell you need to keep your body in tip-top shape, as well.

We also found that people that slept more than that amount were equally impaired as those who slept too little.”

The study was published in the journal Sleep (Wild et al., 2018).

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