Maximum amount of time you can sit before harming your heart

A new large-scale study has revealed what researchers believe to be the maximum time an individual can sit each day before sedentary time starts to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease, stroke and heart attack.

Although many previous studies have shown that too much sedentary time increases the risk of a variety of diseases, including type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, as well as contributing to an increase in waist measurement and an increased mortality risk.

Until now there was no number attached to the amount of time an individual could be sedentary for before it begins to have a negative effect on health.

To look at an association between the number of sedentary hours and the risk of cardiovascular disease, a team of researchers from several institutions throughout the USA analyzed data from the EMBASE and MEDLINE databases.

The data spanned an 11-year period and 720,425 participants in total who together had a mean age of 54.5 years.

Researchers also included lying down in their definition of sedentary time.

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The Importance of Silence

In 2011, the Finish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sort to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

 A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice. The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

“We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.”

When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

As Herman Melville once wrote, “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

Silence relieves stress and tension.

It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

“This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.

Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.

Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise. 

Summation

Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

Source: lifehack.org

Eating less may lead to longer life, says aging expert

 Eat less and live longer is the simple message from an expert in the natural process of ageing. His advice has nothing to do with dieting, it is research that hints at greater longevity for those who reduce their calorie intake.

The possibility that going around hungry all the time might help you live longer first emerged 80 years ago and has been under scrutiny ever since, said Prof Steven Austad of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“For the longest time it was the one tool we had for investigating ageing,” said Prof Austad, distinguished professor of biology and a biogerontologist at the university.

“It was a way we could actually slow ageing and understand what was going on with ageing. It has been there since the 1930s but we still don’t understand how it works,” he said.

Mystery

Why it happens might be a mystery but calorific restriction has shown to extend lifespan in some species. It has been tested in monkeys and mice, fruit flies and worms, with calories cut from between 10 and 40 per cent yielding a life extension of between 10 to 30 per cent.

The record holder is actually a microscopic worm which enjoyed a 50 per cent longer life. Does it work in humans? That isn’t clear and no researcher would win ethical approval to run a human trial where you basically starve subjects for years on end.

Ethics have been taken out of the equation by the Calorie Restriction Society. These are people who come together to enjoy the apparent health benefits of cutting down on your victuals. Prof Austad said: “One thing that came out of studies of them is cardiovascular risk factors. These people are not going to die of heart disease.”

Prof Austad is giving a talk in Dublin this evening hosted by UCD’s Earth Institute entitled: “Can we starve our way to better, longer health?” Tickets are sold out.

Drinking 7 glasses of water can cut 200 calories off daily intake

A US study has found that drinking just 1% more water can reduce total daily calorie consumption, in particular the intake of sugar, sodium and cholesterol. In fact, drinking seven glasses of water per day could cut total daily intakes by up to 200 calories.

Current guidelines recommend drinking 1 to 1.5 litres of water per day. There’s nothing new or revolutionary about that advice, especially for dieters or detoxers looking to flush out the body’s toxins.

However, new research, published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, has found that a few extra glasses of water can increase the feeling of “fullness” and reduce daily calorie consumption.

The researchers studied the dietary habits of more than 18,300 people between 2005 and 2012. Continue reading

People aged 65 to 79 ‘happiest of all’, study suggests

Sixty-five to 79 is the happiest age group for adults, according to Office for National Statistics research.

The survey of more than 300,000 adults across the UK found life satisfaction, happiness and feeling life was worthwhile all peaked in that age bracket, but declined in the over-80s.

Those aged 45 to 59 reported the lowest levels of life satisfaction, with men on average less satisfied than women.

That age group also reported the highest levels of anxiety.

Researchers said one possible reason for the lower happiness and well-being scores among this age group might be the burden of having to care for children and elderly parents at the same time.

The struggle to balance work and family commitments might also be a factor, they said.

For full article, click here.

Antibiotic resistance: World on cusp of ‘post-antibiotic era’

The world is on the cusp of a “post-antibiotic era”, scientists have warned after finding bacteria resistant to drugs used when all other treatments have failed.

Their report, in the Lancet, identifies bacteria able to shrug off colistin in patients and livestock in China.

They said that resistance would spread around the world and raised the spectre of untreatable infections.

Experts said the worrying development needed to act as a global wake-up call.

Bacteria becoming completely resistant to treatment – also known as the antibiotic apocalypse – could plunge medicine back into the dark ages.

Common infections would kill once again, while surgery and cancer therapies, which are reliant on antibiotics, would be under threat.

For the full story, click here.

Interrupted sleep worse than not getting enough sleep

Being interrupted during sleep is likely to affect your mood more than not getting enough sleep, a study suggests.

Researchers at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, USA studied 62 men and women and split them into three experimental conditions.

One group were subject to “forced awakenings” during sleep, others went to bed late and the last group went to sleep uninterrupted.

The study analysed the participants over three days and published their research in the journal Sleep.

The group who were regularly woken displayed a “low positive mood” after the first night, however after the second had a reduction of 31 per cent in positive mood.

Click here for the complete report.

Blindsight: The strangest form of consciousness

This article is written by David Robson.

When Daniel first walked into London’s National Hospital, ophthalmologist Michael Sanders could have had little idea that he would permanently alter our view of human consciousness.

Daniel turned up saying that he was half blind. Although he had healthy eyes, a brain operation to cure headaches seemed to have destroyed a region that was crucial for vision. The result was that almost everything to the left of his nose was invisible to him. It was as if he were looking out of a window, with the curtains drawn across half of his world.

And yet, as Sanders began testing him, he noticed something very strange: Daniel could reach out and grab Sanders’ hand, even when it must have fallen right behind his blind spot. It was as if some kind of “second sight” was guiding his behaviour, beyond his conscious awareness.

Intrigued, Sanders referred Daniel to the psychologists Elizabeth Warrington and Lawrence Weiskrantz, who confirmed the hunch with a series of clever tests. They placed a screen in front of Daniel’s blind spot, for instance, and asked him to point at a circle, when it appeared in different places. Daniel was adamant that he could not see a thing, but Weiskrantz persuaded him to just “take a guess”. Surprisingly, he was almost always right. Or Weiskrantz and Warrington would present a single line on the screen, and Daniel had to decide whether it was horizontal or vertical. Again, Daniel was adamant that nothing had appeared before his eyes, yet his accuracy was around 80%, much more than if he had been guessing randomly.

For the full article, click here.

How Doctors Want to Die

Dr. Kendra Fleagle Gorlitsky recalls the anguish she used to feel performing CPR on elderly, terminally ill patients.

“I felt like I was beating up people at the end of their life,” she says.

It looks nothing like what people see on TV. In real life, ribs often break and few survive the ordeal.

Gorlitsky now teaches medicine at the University of Southern California and says these early clinical experiences have stayed with her.

“I would be doing the CPR with tears coming down sometimes, and saying, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, goodbye.’ Because I knew it very likely was not going to be successful. It just seemed a terrible way to end someone’s life.”

Gorlitsky wants something different for herself and for her loved ones. And most other doctors do too: A Stanford University study shows almost 90 percent of doctors would forgo resuscitation and aggressive treatment if facing a terminal illness. Continue reading

Sleeping posture could affect brain health, study shows

Sleeping on your side rather than your back or stomach might play a role in helping reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases, according to a new study.

Side sleeping opens a passage in the brain called the glymphatic pathway that dispels waste and other chemicals, say the researchers from Stony Brook University in the US.

“It is interesting that the lateral sleep position is already the most popular in human and most animals – even in the wild – and it appears that we have adapted the lateral sleep position to most efficiently clear our brain of the metabolic waste products that built up while we are awake,” says Dr Maiken Nedergaard of the University of Rochester.

For the complete story, click here.