Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Few Things Learned in 2011 by Science

Here are some interesting facts learned in 2011, through real Science:

Fat in moderation is good for you.
You need some fat in your diet, even if you're trying to lose weight. The Institute of Medicine recommends that it make up 20 to 35% of your calories. It's the kind of fat that counts. Limit saturated fats, and avoid trans fats in your diet (both kinds can cause health problems), but find a spot for some monounsaturated fats--MUFAs (pronounced MOO-fahs), for short. MUFAs come from the healthy oils found in plant foods such as olives, nuts, and avocados, and may boost metabolism. A report published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a MUFA-rich diet helped people lose small amounts of weight and body fat without changing their calorie intakes. Another report found that a breakfast high in MUFAs could boost calorie burn for 5 hours after the meal, particularly in people with higher amounts of belly fat. 

You get more than just a little help from your friends. 
You get good health, too, if you have the right ones, finds a new Brigham Young University study. A strong social network, especially if it's stacked with healthy pals, improves your chance of living longer by 50%. It doubles your odds of surviving cancer and wards off colds. Friends may even reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, says lead study author Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD. And not having close bonds can be as bad for you as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. Be sure to make spending time with the friends who lift you up a priority: It's good for your mood and your health. 

Weight Lifting beats a diet any day. 
Lifting weights could make you lighter-without making any changes to your diet! It's important to incorporate strength training into your routine so you burn calories at an optimal rate all day long, and using heavier weights could help maximize your efforts. Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that working out with heavy weights even for as few as 3 to 6 repetitions increased exercisers' sleeping metabolic rate--the number of calories burned overnight--by nearly 8%. That's enough to lose about 5 pounds in a year, even if you did nothing else! 

Fight memory loss with more walks.
Misplacing your keys more than usual these days? Take more walks. Just 40 minutes 3 days a week can help prevent and even reverse memory loss and other effects of aging. That's because moderate exercise increases BDNF, a protein associated with improved memory and learning. Plus, exercise can actually increase brain volume, while non-exercisers experience shrinking-a contributing factor in memory loss and Alzheimer's disease. In fact, 21% of Alzheimer's cases are linked to too little physical activity. 

Happiness could be the fountain of youth
"Although medicine is becoming increasingly high-tech and our ability to prevent, diagnose and treat illness continues to grow, there remains a huge mystery around longevity," says contributing editor Holly Phillips, MD. "What is that intangible 'it factor' that makes some people live to 101, and other seemingly healthy people pass away much earlier?" 

Dr. Phillips points to new research that helps us quantify an important but illusive contributor to our overall health: happiness. In a study of 3,853 people ages 52 to 79 years old, those who were the most upbeat were 35% less likely to die in the next five years-even when taking into account socioeconomic status and pre-existing health conditions, according to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Experts aren't exactly sure how happiness can help extend your life exactly, but speculate one reason may be that positive mood lowers the overall level of stress hormones in your body (stress hormones such as cortisol have been linked with speeding the aging process). 

Sources: yahoo, prevention

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