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Plant City Observer Thursday, Mar. 22, 2018 6 months ago

Focus on Fitness: Boosting memory and avoiding obesity

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This week, we cover two topics that many of you have asked about.
by: Columnist Columnist

I love receiving reader questions because it tells me what’s on your mind. There are several I’ve recently gotten that I’d like to share this week, as they cover topics we should all be aware of.

 

Memory and brain

“How can I boost my memory?”

“I don’t want to lose my mental ability as I age, what can I do?”

“Is dementia inevitable if it runs in my family?”

 

Scientists at UCLA worked with 40 volunteers, age 50 through 90, who all had memory loss complaints. Their study, published in January in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, found using curcumin twice a day for 18 months improved memory and mood tests, as well as brain scans.

Curcumin is the active ingredient in the Indian spice turmeric. Besides cooking applications, turmeric has been used by ancient cultures for brain health for many centuries. Turmeric gives Indian curry its color and flavor. Manufacturers often use turmeric to color cheese, butter and prepared mustard. Known as a powerful antioxidant, curcumin scavenges free radicals in the human body to stop cell membrane damage. Curcumin lowers inflammation by reducing the enzymes that cause it. Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine systems also use turmeric to treat digestive and liver conditions as well as wounds and skin diseases. If you decide to take curcumin vitamin capsules, select a quality product from a reputable manufacturer.

Another study, from the University College of London, reports activity after retirement is important to maintaining brain function. Over 3,400 participants’ cognitive and brain functions were monitored over a 30-year period. Researchers report staying active physically and mentally decreases mental decline. Scientists encourage you to do something you have never done before. Take up a musical instrument or a new language as a way to boost the brain function. Above all else, interact with other people. It sounds like a tai chi or yoga class at the local YMCA would be perfect for your long-term mental well-being.

 

Obesity and weight management

“How can I control my weight without the torture of dieting?”

“The more I exercise, the hungrier I get. What can I do?“

“Everyone around me has gained weight—is obesity contagious?”

 

Belly fat, brain fog, fatigue and food cravings are not caused by the busy American lifestyle, according to Harvard-trained Sara Gottfried, M.D. Her studies show the hormone leptin normally signals the natural hunger feelings to stop and start according to the needs of the body. When leptin production and response get out of whack, the body confuses itself with extra hunger signals. As we eat more, we also feel hungrier. Caught in a cycle, the body puts on weight and still calls for more food.

Resetting the leptin function of the body is easy enough. Intermittent fasting, the practice of consuming all calories in an eight-hour period and fasting the remaining 16 hours of the day, re-establishes the natural leptin levels. This “mini-fast” approach encourages fat burning during the 16 hours away from food. Another benefit, the thyroid is also revitalized at the same time. The correct levels of leptin normalize appetite and decrease fat storage.

A recent study from the University of Southern California indicates there might be something to the idea that obesity is contagious. Over 1,500 individuals in the U.S. military participated in this study, published Jan. 22 in JAMA Pediatrics, to compare their weight loss/gain with each relocation. The results? The weight loss/gain tracked with the weight characteristics of where they relocated. The heavier the population where they moved, the more weight the military personnel put on. If the new assignment locale had low obesity rates, the military personnel weights dropped as well. It seems our weight might be influenced by the company we keep.

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