“Adding a daily serving of green leafy vegetables to your diet may be a simple way to help promote brain health,” says nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, ScD, who led a study group at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Morris and her team asked 960 older people, none of whom had dementia, to fill out questionnaires on how often they ate green leafy vegetables. Participants were assigned to five groups depending on how much leafy greens they ate in a day.
The volunteers’ thinking and memory skills were tested yearly. Over a 10-year followup period, those who ate the most greens experienced slower brain aging; the difference between the highest- and lowest-consumption groups was equivalent to an 11-year age difference. Those results remained valid even after the researchers accounted for such factors as alcohol consumption, smoking, high blood pressure and obesity.
The study was published in the journal Neurology.
Spinach, kale and other green leafies are rich sources of calcium, fiber, iron, the B vitamin folate, magnesium and potassium, along with health-promoting phytonutrients.
Cancer: Some Good News
Drop in overall cancer deaths, 1991–2015 (mostly driven by better detection and
treatment, and less smoking)
Drop in prostate cancer deaths, 1989–2015
Drop in breast cancer deaths, 1989–2015
SOURCE: ACS, CANCER FACTS & FIGURES 2018
Vitamin D’s Expanding Scope
The list of benefits associated with vitamin D keeps expanding, as shown in three recent studies.
Researchers from Ohio University found that vitamin D was able to promote release of nitric oxide, which helps increase circulation by widening blood vessels. The sunshine vitamin was also able to reduce levels of oxidative stress within the cardiovascular system, according to the International Journal of Nanomedicine.
Vitamin D may help people with inflammatory skin disorders, according to a review article in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology. Scientists in Qatar, after analyzing previously published trials, wrote that these studies suggest a “beneficial effect of vitamin D” in atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.
In another review article, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitamin D was found to help people with irritable bowel syndrome. British researchers, after noting that a number of people with IBS had low levels of D, found clinical trials showing that supplementation helped reduce patients’ symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Exercise Help for Cancer Survivors
As important as fitness is for everyone, it’s especially crucial for cancer survivors: Exercise has been linked with reduced risk of recurrence and better overall quality of life. But for someone facing all the other consequences of cancer and its treatment, starting a workout program can feel overwhelming.
Fortunately, there are exercise specialists specifically certified for work with cancer survivors. These trainers help their clients improve general well-being and deal with specific issues, such as range-of-motion limits.
To find a certified specialist, go to the Cancer Exercise Training Institute’s website at thecancerspecialist.com and click on the Cancer Patients tab for a directory.
SKINprotect for Skin Rejuvenation
SKINprotect is a daily pill containing powerful plant-based antioxidants to help protect your skin against daily exposure to harmful UV sun rays that can cause wrinkles, thickening and dark spots. SKINprotect also helps preserve the skin’s fibroblasts that build and restore elasticity and collagen, and promotes collagen production for more youthful- looking skin.
Among the ingredients in SKINprotect are calaguala, a tropical fern native to Central America; amla extract, also known as Indian gooseberry and a staple of Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years that is rich in vitamin C, amino acids and minerals; gotu kola, a small, perennial plant from the wetlands of Asia that stimulates blood flow to skin cells; and camu camu, tiny berries packed full of essential amino acids, leucine and vitamin C that grow in the Amazon rainforest and have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries.
To locate a store near you, either visit biomed-health.com or call 800-355-9969.
Iodine Deficits Can Hurt Female Fertility
Although best known for helping to promote proper thyroid functioning, iodine has also been found to play a crucial role in helping women become pregnant.
A study team led by the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development tested the urine of 467 women who were attempting to conceive. The volunteers were questioned about other possible risk factors related to infertility, such as age and a history of smoking, and used fertility monitors over the following 12 months to determine ovulation, the optimal time for conception.
Women with moderate-to-severe iodine deficiency were 46% less likely to become pregnant during each menstrual cycle than women whose iodine levels were deemed sufficient. What’s more, even a mild deficiency made conception more difficult.
“Women who are thinking of becoming pregnant may need more iodine,” said lead author James Mills, MD. Study results were published in the journal Human Reproduction.
What surprised the study team was the extent of the problem; nearly a quarter of all urine samples showed significant deficiency. Previous research had found that 30% of women of childbearing age have iodine blood levels below the target of 100 micrograms per liter.
Iodine is crucial for proper fetal brain and nervous system development and helps regulate the baby’s metabolism. A deficiency during pregnancy can also cause the mother to suffer from an underactive thyroid, marked by fatigue, cold sensitivity and other symptoms.
The best dietary sources of iodine include seafood, yogurt, milk and eggs; it is also often added to salt. Besides poor thyroid function, iodine deficiency has been linked to fibrocystic breast disease, a noncancerous condition in which breasts feel tender and lumpy, and to skin inflammation.
Training the Brain for Self-Fulfillment
Maintaining a powerful memory and keen cognition are the first things that come to mind when you think about brain health. But there’s more to the brain than that, argues Due Quach, author of Calm Clarity (TarcherPerigee). She says your brain provides a path to alignment with your higher self—a route you can consciously choose.
Quach’s own path took her from Vietnamese refugee to Harvard grad to management consultant. However, she writes, childhood experiences led to post-traumatic stress disorder, which turned critical when she was in college. In desperation, Quach “decided to learn what science could tell me about the brain.”
The result is what Quach calls Calm Clarity, which she now teaches in settings that range from inner-city schools to executive boardrooms. According to Quach, people operate in one of three states: fearful Brain 1.0, grasping Brain 2.0 and wise, joyful Brain 3.0. Calm Clarity is all about getting to that sweet spot.
Quach learned a lot from her study of neuroscience, especially how the nervous system becomes overly stimulated under conditions of stress and trauma. But Calm Clarity didn’t come together until Quach was able to combine the hardcore science with what she learned from spiritual experiences that led to “the rediscovery of my Higher Self,” the part of all of us that connects to a greater purpose beyond the needs of daily life.
Part 2 of Calm Clarity, which Quach calls a “mind-hacker’s guide,” is designed to help the reader shift mindsets through a series of meditations and exercises covering such topics as developing focused attention and learning to breathe mindfully. (Recordings of each meditation are available at calmclarity.org.) Quach admits that it isn’t easy—“I still get triggered into Brain 1.0 and Brain 2.0 every single day”—but believes that it’s worth the effort.
“Trauma doesn’t have to be a life sentence,” Quach writes. “We always have a choice to empower ourselves.” Calm Clarity provides a roadmap to that empowerment.