Archive for December, 2017

To prevent Alzheimer’s, play Pac-Man

The results of the ACTIVE study—Advanced Cognitive Training in Vital Elderly—have been released and contain groundbreaking findings.

It’s not news that cognitive exercise, such as learning a new language, solving riddles and puzzles, playing a new musical instrument, reading, etc., improves memory and the ability to process information. Observational studies, i.e., the sort of studies that can suggest associations but cannot establish cause-effect relationships, have suggested that cognitive exercise is associated with reduced potential for dementia. (Comparing, for example, two people with similar quantities of brain atrophy and beta-amyloid plaque accumulation in the brain, the person who engaged in lifelong learning will show less dementia than the person who did not engage in lifelong learning.)

A fire, thick socks, and prebiotics to keep you warm

Here’s an interesting speculation: The microbes in bowel flora are metabolically active, generating heat. There are so many microbes inhabiting the human intestine that it is estimated that up to 70% of human heat (at rest) is generated by bowel flora.

In support of this argument, antibiotics have been found to reduce body temperature. Animals raised to have sterile intestines free of microorganisms also have lower body temperature. The pound or so of human bowel flora is therefore a virtual heat factory.

What Spirits Are Safe?

Spirits are a mixed bag, but you are likely to find at least several that you can enjoy without provoking health problems. Beware of flavored varieties of vodka or rum, as they are loaded with sugar and/or high-fructose corn syrup. In general, simple unflavored spirits are safest.

Here’s a short list to help you navigate through your holiday cocktail parties and toasts without exposing yourself to the harmful effects of grains.

The Six Worst U.S. Health Disasters of the Last 50 Years

Up until the first half of the twentieth century, large-scale health disasters were mostly due to natural causes (earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, etc.) or infections (e.g., smallpox, influenza epidemics, cholera). But something peculiar happened as we entered the second half of the century: Health disasters due to natural causes became dwarfed by large-scale health disasters that are man-made.