Can Meditation Help Counter Alzheimer’s?

Researchers have found differences in the brains of people who’ve meditated for years and believe it may be one way to prevent losing cognitive function as we get older. Also, tune a piano, tune your brain…

The study, led by Dr Florian Kurth of the University of California, Los Angeles, noted a difference in brain volume between those who meditated and those who didn’t. According to Dr Kurth, ‘We expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating.

Tune A Piano, Tune Your Brain

Researchers at Newcastle University and University College London have found that professional piano tuners’ brains undergo structural changes in the hippocampus – the part of the brain that controls memory and navigation.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the physical structure of subjects’ brains, revealed similar changes to those previously observed in London taxi drivers who learn to navigate city streets by memory alone. The paper’s authors believe this shows that piano tuners ‘navigate’ sounds in a way that is similar to spatial navigation.

Get Moving!

If you prefer lazing on the sofa to hitting the gym, new research may persuade you to get up and move around more.

As well as being bad for your waistline, a sedentary lifestyle is also bad for your brain. Researchers from Boston University looked at the fitness levels of more than 1,200 adults, over two decades, and also monitored their brain functions. At the start of the study, the 40-somethings were asked to exercise on a treadmill so their fitness levels could be assessed.

Then when they hit their 60s, the participants completed a number of cognitive tests and brain scans. The researchers found that those who were most fit in their younger days went on to perform best in mental tests as they aged.

A Curved Glass Could Make You Drink Faster

With binge drinking and other concerns about how drinking alcohol can affect our wellbeing, a new study by the University of Bristol has concluded that people drink beer more quickly from curved glasses than from straight glasses. Apparently it is more difficult to estimate how much is left in a partially-filled beer glass when the glass is curved. As a result, you are less able to judge how quickly you are drinking so cannot pace yourself. Presumably manufacturers now need to develop square tankards?

Easy to stay fit work from home

Working at a standing desk helps you burn between 20 and 50 more calories per hour than if you were sitting on an office chair.

There is an easy way for family members who work from home to exercise and burn off an additional 52,000 calories during a single year – the equivalent to running 20 marathons!

You just have to make one simple change – stand while you work on your home computer to avoid the dangers of sitting for eight hours a day.

Working at a standing desk helps you burn between 20 and 50 more calories per hour than if you were sitting on an office chair. Researchers from the University of Iowa, for example, found that people who used sit-stand desks, stood for 60 minutes a day compared to their sitting counterparts. They also walked an additional six minutes per day while at work. The study also found that employees who used sit-stand desks burned up to 87 more calories a day. If you use a standing desk alone, and sit as little as possible, you could become significantly fitter and slimmer.

Standing rather than sitting is a bit more work, but brings considerable long-term benefits. Sitting for long periods of time increases your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity, which is where standing desks come into their own. While you’re standing, you’re exercising. Your muscles are still working to maintain your posture and support your body.

Usual advice is to break up your sitting time throughout the day. That isn’t always possible when you work on a computer. That’s why, in some countries such as Denmark, companies now have to offer workers the option of a ‘standing’ desk by law.

In the UK, researchers are looking at the benefits of spending more time standing too. A pilot study at Grove house primary school in Bradford, found beneficial effects from asking pupils to have lessons while standing up. Teachers noticed that children were concentrating better and becoming fitter as they burned more calories.

Switching to a standing desk can be tiring, initially, so start by standing a bit then sitting and slowly increase the length of time you spend on your feet. If you still only have a sitting desk, use proper ergonomic aids and stand every 20 minutes to move around – walk to the printer, go for a glass of water, stand for a meeting, and take the stairs when visiting other floors in your office building, rather than using the elevator.

A standing desk is also great for children and teens to use when preparing homework, after sitting in lessons at school or college all day.

Using Exercise For Pain Management

Tai chi – often called ‘moving meditation’ – is effective for pain management as it helps you relax, eases pain and stiffness, as well as promoting sleep.

Exercise can hurt, so to suggest to anyone living with chronic pain that they should exercise may bring a curt response.

However, tai chi – often called ‘moving meditation’ – is effective for pain management as it helps you relax, eases pain and stiffness, as well as promoting sleep.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have even referred to tai chi as ‘medication in motion’. In addition to preventing falls and reducing the pain of arthritis, the school found that tai chi was helpful for a number of medical conditions including low bone density, the side effects of breast cancer, heart disease, hypertension,
Parkinson’s disease and stroke. While living with pain can limit your exercise options, tai chi is one workout that really helps.

Antibiotics From Your Beard

The unlikely explanation is that beards help to fight skin infections.

A study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection announced that, when the faces of 408 hospital staff were swabbed, clean-shaven staff were more likely than bearded men to carry methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) – the bacteria responsible for many hospital infections.

The unlikely explanation is that beards help to fight skin infections. Dr Adam Roberts, a microbiologist based at University College London, also discovered that in a few of the petri dishes, bacteria from beard swabs were dying.
It seems that in order to compete in the jungle of the human beard, some microbes such as Staphylococcusepidermidis, were using‘antibiotics’ to kill other species – including a particularly drugresistant form of Escherichia coli.

The mechanism isn’t yet clear, but it raises the possibility that beards could be a fruitful testing ground for new antibiotics.

Microbes May Cause Dementia

There is incontrovertible evidence that Alzheimer’s disease has a dormant microbial component…

A team of researchers have claimed there is ample evidence implicating a virus and two types of bacteria as major causes of Alzheimer’s disease – but they can’t obtain funding for clinical trials because the evidence is deemed controversial.

According to Professor Douglas Kell of The University of Manchester’s School of Chemistry and Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, there is incontrovertible evidence that Alzheimer’s disease has a dormant microbial component, and that this is linked with iron imbalances.

Others believe that microbes may trigger inflammation which is also characteristic of Alzheimer’s. Watch this space – if funding is found, it could be that specific antimicrobial treatments might make this form of dementia a thing of the past!

Can Beer And Cheese Kill Cancer?

Next time someone tells you to cut down on dairy or beer…

Tell them that booze and cheese fries could be life savers.

Okay, that’s probably not true, but research at the University of Michigan shows that Nisin, a food preservative derived from the bacterium Lactococcus lactis, which is commonly added to cheese and beer effectively kills bacteria.

No bacteria have yet been found that are resistant to Nisin, and now researchers have found that Nisin can eradicate 70% to 80% of tumour cells, too.

High doses are needed, so just drinking beer and eating cheese probably won’t work says Jessica Fishman Levinson, a dietitian and founder of Nutritioulicious. However, it is an exciting possibility for the development of future chemotherapy treatments.

Can You Fall Asleep In Just One Minute?

Having a good night’s sleep helps to regulate your blood pressure, but sleeplessness affects many people.

One survey found that more than 50% suffer from insomnia and most blame stress. Stress switches on your body’s fight or flight response so your muscles tense, heart rate rises, blood pressure increases and your breathing quickens in anticipation of action.

While this may be useful at times during the day, it’s counter-productive when trying to get to sleep. A simple exercise known as the 4-7-8 breath technique can switch off the stress response and help you drift off more quickly. It works on the principle that breathing influences physiology and thought processes, including moods. Done at least twice a day, the results improve with practice.

Simply breathe in for four seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds and exhale completely to a count of eight. Repeat up to four times. Some users have reported being able to get to sleep within a minute using the technique.

The benefits of basil

Basil is a delicious and versatile herb that has been cultivated all over the world for thousands of years.

Native to India, it was revered as a sacred plant, often planted around temples and placed in graves. Basil can be used in a variety of ways.

The leaves and ground seeds may be added to food, and the leaves used to make tea. It is believed to confer health benefits, such as reducing stress and helping to lift depression. Rubbing the leaves on an insect bite relieves itching and it has antiseptic properties.

It’s easy to grow, so if you want to keep fresh basil on hand, keep a pot on a sunny windowsill and pick the leaves as and when you need them.

The Importance Of Pilates Principles

Concentrating or ‘being mindful’ in each and every moment and understanding and executing the Pilates principles in each and every exercise.

This will ensure both maximum physical gains and enjoyment, leading to improvements in overall well-being and happiness !

There were six main principles of Pilates:

Concentration

You cannot ensure correct muscle activation and exercise execution for maximum gain and minimum injury risk, if you do not pay attention to your own body and its capabilities.

Centering
Both in mind and in body, centering refers both to the connection of the central stabilising muscles and a steadying of the mind in preparation for movement.

Control
Each exercise requires consideration in order to balance the muscles and protect other areas of the body from becoming overused and fatigued.

Breathing
A deep exhalation initiates contraction of the deep, stabilising abdominal muscles, which then makes it easier for you to connect with them and maintain the connection whilst executing an exercise.

Precision
From the tips of your fingers to the tips of your toes, every muscle should be conscious and in balance in order to ensure fluidity and functionality to each exercise.

Flow
Initially, this referred to flow within each exercise. That is, each series of exercises should be executed smoothly and with grace. In more recent years the concept of ‘flow’ has been further added to the choreography of transitions between exercises.

Mindfulness extends from only thinking about the present time and not the future, to the very action one is taking in that present moment i.e. making a cup of tea or eating a chocolate. Mindfulness teaches us to appreciate the present moment because once that moment has passed you can never get it back. Enjoy the sounds made by the kettle boiling, notice smells and noises; enjoy the texture and flavour of your chocolate and so on. It’s almost meditative, in the sense that in that moment; you are only focussed on the one ‘thing’, your mind cannot be occupied by stresses and worries.