Monday, August 31, 2009

Rye Bread and Feelings of Fullness

Recently I read how the Swedes had been conducting clinical trials on rye and that they had discovered that eating rye bread in the morning led to feelings of satiety and that it held this feeling of fullness for several hours afterwards.

I've always gotten up in the morning before my spouse and had breakfast. Then, when she is awake and in the kitchen, I'd make the coffee for her and sit down to talk, along with a second breakfast. This "two breakfast" routine had led over the years to a weight gain which I was eventually able to get rid of with some dieting. But I was never able to completely shake my desire to have those two breakfasts.

Now, after reading about the Swedish trials, I have been experimenting with rye bread myself and it works just as described in the literature. The most recent Journal of Nutrition describes how Swedish researchers learned about rye's benefits when compared to wheat products in the morning. “The results show that rye bread can be used to decrease hunger feelings both before and after lunch when included in a breakfast meal,” said the researchers. “Rye bran induces a stronger effect on satiety than the other two rye fractions used when served in iso-caloric portions,” they concluded.

I found a wonderful rye bread product produced by French Meadow Bakery of Minnesota, made without salt and with only organic ingredients. I highly recommend it -- it is simply delicious, and after eating a slice of this rye toast with a light layer of cream cheese or some butter, I am not hungry again until lunch. My "two breakfasts" problem has been solved.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Low Levels of Vitamin D and Cardiovascular Diseases in Diabetics

It's been determined that low levels of vitamin D are known to nearly double the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with diabetes, and researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis now think they know why.

It appears that diabetics deficient in vitamin D can't process cholesterol normally, so it builds up in their blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. The new research has identified a mechanism linking low vitamin D levels to heart disease risk and may lead to ways to fix the problem, simply by increasing levels of vitamin D.

This is great news to anyone who has diabetes, because supplementation with D is inexpensive and readily available. "There is debate about whether any amount of sun exposure is safe, so oral vitamin D supplements may work best," says the lead author, "but perhaps if people were exposed to sunlight only for a few minutes at a time, that may be an option, too.".


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Severe Brain Degeneration Shown in Obese People

In the current online edition of the journal Human Brain Mapping, Paul Thompson, senior author and a UCLA professor of neurology, and lead author Cyrus A. Raji, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, compared the brains of people who were obese, overweight, and of normal weight, to see if they had differences in brain structure.

These researchers discovered that obese people had 8 percent less brain tissue than people with normal weight. (Overweight people had 4 percent less tissue). According to Thompson, who is also a member of UCLA’s Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, this is the first time anyone has established a link between being overweight and having what he describes as “severe brain degeneration.”

This could be a scary thought for the nation's millions of obese people. “That's a big loss of tissue and it depletes your cognitive reserves, putting you at much greater risk of Alzheimer's and other diseases that attack the brain,” said Thompson, who went on to say that the risk for Alzheimer's is greatly reduced if one eats healthily and keeps body mass under control.

In looking at both grey matter and white matter of the brain, they found that the people defined as obese had lost brain tissue in the frontal and temporal lobes (areas of the brain critical for planning and memory) and in the anterior cingulate gyrus (attention and executive functions), hippocampus (long term memory) and basal ganglia (movement is controlled here).

"The brains of obese people looked 16 years older than the brains of those who were lean," says Thompson. This research shows another reason for the extremely high cost to society of the ever-increasing obese population.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Daily Probiotics Regimen Reduces Colds, Fevers in Children

A new study from probiotics producer Danisco shows that daily supplement of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains may reduce the incidence of cold and flu-like symptoms in children by 50 per cent. Further, a combination of the two strains has been linked to reductions in fever incidence by 73 per cent, a reduction in the occurrence of runny noses by 59 per cent, and drop in the incidence of coughing by 62 per cent, according to findings published in the journal Pediatrics.

“Daily probiotic dietary supplementation during the winter months was a safe, effective way to reduce episodes of fever, rhinorrhea [nasal issues], and cough, the cumulative duration of those symptoms, the incidence of antibiotic prescriptions, and the number of missed school days attributable to illness,” wrote the authors, led by Gregory Leyer, an R&D scientist for Danisco in Madison, Wisconsin.

This research showed that L acidophilus alone was effective, but also indicated a trend for a broader protective effect when it is combined with Bifidobacterium.

Indeed, used by itself, L. acidophilus cut the fever incidence by 53 per cent, the occurrence of runny noses by 28 per cent, and the incidence of coughing by 41 per cent.

Leyer and his co-investigators from Tongji University (Shanghai), the University of Texas (Houston), and Sprim USA recruited 326 children aged between three and five in a child care centre in China. The children were randomly assigned to one of three groups, and received twice a day for six months the single L. acidophilus NCFM strain, the combination of the strains, or a placebo.

In addition to the reductions in the incidence in fever, coughing, and runny noses, the researchers noted a reduction in the use of antibiotics in children either of the probiotic interventions, while these children also missed fewer days of child care.

“Although the reduced incidence of antibiotic prescriptions for all indications noted in an earlier study was confirmed, this study is the first to indicate a trend toward more-significant results with a combination versus single strain preparation,” wrote the authors.

I think it is important to note here that getting a good dose of probiotics into a child means something more than just eating some yogurt. (In fact, one major yogurt manufacturer is being sued because their claims for probiotic content are so overblown.) Always check the amount of "CFU's" (colony-forming units) in your probiotics product and go for those that show billions and not millions of these good bugs.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

High Blood Pressure Linked to Memory Problems

New research published in the August 25, 2009, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, shows how high blood pressure is linked to memory problems in people over age 45.

The study found that people with high diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of a blood pressure reading) were more likely to have cognitive impairment, or problems with their memory and thinking skills, than people with normal readings. For every 10-point increase in that bottom number, the odds of a person having cognitive problems was seven percent higher. The results were valid after adjusting for other factors that could affect cognitive abilities, such as age, smoking status, exercise level, education, diabetes or high cholesterol.

This was a very large study and it involved nearly 20,000 people age 45 and older across the country who had participated in a study about stroke, and who had never had a stroke. A total of 1,505 of the participants, or 7.6 percent, had cognitive problems, and 9,844, or 49.6 percent, were taking medication for high blood pressure.

“It’s possible that by preventing or treating high blood pressure, we could potentially prevent cognitive impairment, which can be a precursor to dementia,” said study author Georgios Tsivgoulis, MD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

The reason that high blood pressure issue appears to be linked to memory could be that research has shown high diastolic blood pressure leads to weakening of the small arteries in the brain; this weakening of arteries can actually result in the development of brain damage in small, random areas that contain memories.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Overblown Claims and Unethical Marketing Games in the "Berry" Business

There were lawsuits filed recently by Harpo Inc, producers of The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Dr Oz Show, targeting manufacturers of acai berry products among others.

“Consumers should be aware that neither Oprah Winfrey nor Dr Oz are associated with nor do they endorse any acai berry product, company or online solicitation of such products, including MonaVie juice products,” reads a statement on Winfrey’s website. Harpo attorneys are also pursuing marketers of resveratrol products who have taken the same liberties with Oprah's and Dr. Oz's names.

I'm happy to see the alleged deceptive practices of these companies exposed. I'm sure Britney Spears will follow with her own lawsuits -- the same "berry" manufacturers are using images of the young star on their obnoxious Internet popup ads.

“The acai berry supplement sales programs are among the most aggressive that we have seen using misleading sales tactics to scam consumers,” said one of those involved in the Oprah lawsuits. I agree -- I've never seen anything like the sleazy tactics used by these acai berry marketers. While its true that the antioxidants in acai are indeed quite powerful, the difference between them and other berries just doesn't merit this kind of crazy push. It's a fad-- pyramid marketers and even stores are going to be left with cases and cases of acai berry and other "miracle" berry products before the year is out.

“Consumers should always be skeptical and educate themselves instead of blindly believing any endorsement claims. Also, consumers need to be very wary of weight loss and health claims that sound too good to be true" warn those involved with the Harpo case.

As these lawyers and state officials are now discovering, the "acai berry revolution" turns out to be just another great, big Internet marketing scam.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Economic Downturn May Leave Major Health Problems in its Wake

The current economic downturn, most specifically the nation’s home foreclosure epidemic, appears to be taking its toll on Americans’ health as well as their wallets. A study was done of those people undergoing foreclosure which reported that nearly half of them showed serious signs of depression. A full 37 percent met clinical screening criteria for major depression.

This study was done by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and was published online this week in the American Journal of Public Health. Many of those studied also reported an inability to afford prescription drugs; many also described poor eating habits, including skipping meals.

“The foreclosure crisis is also a health crisis,” says lead author Craig E. Pollack, MD, who conducted the research while working as an internist at Penn. “We need to do more to ensure that if people lose their homes, they don’t also lose their health.”

In addition to the high number of participants reporting depression symptoms, the study of 250 Philadelphia homeowners undergoing foreclosure also shed light on other health care problems that may be spurred by difficulties keeping up with housing costs. The authors say that the data collected in Philadelphia may be only the tip of the iceberg when compared to other cities that have experienced a sharp spike in housing foreclosures.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Friendly Gut Bacteria Aid Immune System in Fighting off Infection

Research published by scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center has found that bacteria present in the human gut help initiate the body’s defense mechanisms against Toxoplasma gondii, a nasty parasite responsible for toxoplasmosis. While generally considered to be mild, a T gondi infection can have serious and potentially fatal effects in pregnant women, their fetuses and anyone else with a weakened immune system.

How it is that the body first senses the presence of this parasite has been somewhat of a mystery for a long time. But in this new UT Southwestern study (appearing online and in the Aug. 20 issue of Cell Host & Microbe), researchers suggest that instead of activating receptors directly, T gondii’s first interaction in the human gut is with the helpful bacteria that live inside us. Those bacteria then release signaling molecules, alerting the human host to the invader.

What an important role this is for those friendly, probiotic gut bacteria that we need to have living inside of us! This is why it is a travesty that antibiotics are so overprescribed and that we so often casually knock out our entire flora for no good reason at all.

“While this is very early data, our results suggest that looking at the bacteria present in each patient’s gut could help physicians understand their susceptibility to infectious diseases,” said Dr. Felix Yarovinsky, assistant professor of immunology at UT Southwestern and senior author of the paper. “It also suggests the possibility of developing novel probiotic strategies for treating parasitic infections."

T gondii affects more than 1 billion people worldwide. The protozoan parasite can infect most warm-blooded animals, but the primary host is the house cat. Animals are generally infected with T gondii by ingesting contaminated meat, water or the feces of a cat that has recently been infected; however, the parasite also can be passed from mother to fetus.

Toxoplasmosis is often passed to humans through contaminated cat feces; therefore, pregnant women are encouraged to keep all house cats indoors and recruit someone who is not pregnant to clean the litter box daily. Once a person is infected, the parasite penetrates the intestine and spreads throughout all organs.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Popcorn loaded with antioxidants?

Every time we go to the movies, my wife makes a snide comment about my popcorn eating habit. (Usually, the large size popcorn bag is empty about the time the trailers end . . .). Now, thanks to some new research being reported on in NutraIngredients, I can tell her that I am eating a health food.

It turns out that certain cereals and snacks like popcorn may be healthier than previously thought thanks to their unusually high antioxidant content. At a meeting of the American Chemical Society, scientists from the University of Scranton (Pennsylvania) indicated these items have “surprisingly large” amounts of antioxidants called polyphenols.

According to the poster presentation at the ACS, whole grains are responsible for the polyphenol content, which is high enough even after baking to rival established antioxidant sources such as fruit and veggies.

Lead researcher Joe Vinson, a chemist at the University of Scranton, said the research revealed higher polyphenol levels than previous studies because it looked at the total antioxidant content rather than just focusing on free antioxidants, which are the ones not bound to sugar. Cereals made with oats were found to have the highest antioxidant content with corn in second place and wheat coming third.

Certain snack foods made from corn are over-processed, which removes all the antioxidant possibilities. This would include corn chips or Tortilla chips, as one example. Popcorn, however, is indeed full of antioxidants!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Headache Risk in Children

A German scientist, Dr. Jennifer Gassmann (and her coauthors) has done a recent study on risk factors for childrens' headaches -- she and her team have determined that it is family quarrels and a lack of free time which seem to promote these health problems in children. This work appears in the current issue of the Deutsches Ă„rzteblatt International.

This investigation was a component of a large-scale study entitled “Children, Adolescents, and Headaches” in which data were collected in four annual “waves” from 2003 to 2006. Up to 30% of all children around the world complain of headache symptoms arising at least once per week. It can be heartbreaking when you hear your child complain regularly of headaches -- because it appears there is nothing you can do.

Now, it does indeed look as if there are some family changes that can help these kids. Boys who experienced more than one family quarrel per week had a 1.8 times higher risk of developing headaches. The amount of free time available to them seemed to be even more important: boys who only sometimes had time to themselves had a 2.1 times higher risk of developing headaches.

Parents’ behavior when their child complains of headache also seemed to play a major role. Either positive or negative reinforcement from the parents teaches the child that he or she can gain certain advantages from headache symptoms. The parents’ responses had a particularly strong effect on the frequency of symptoms in girls: reinforcing parental responses raised their risk of recurrent headaches by 25%.

The sexes also differed with respect to the frequency of headache. Twice as many girls as boys had their symptoms at least once a week. The children’s age, however, seemed to have no more than a minor effect on headache manifestations.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Wine Shows Protection for Cancer Radiation Therapy

There's been a lot written about the benefits of drinking red wine. Recently, a new scientific study came out of Italy that is fascinating, because it shows how drinking wine while undergoing radiation treatment for breast cancer may reduce the incidence of skin toxicity in these patients. This work was recently published in the August issue of the official journal of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).

Radiation therapy-induced side effects, as anyone who has undergone radiation knows, are a nightmare. Reducing or eliminating them is an important part of a patient’s cancer treatment management. While there are currently several medications available to help protect healthy organs from the effects of radiation, they are often expensive. Even worse, they have side effects of their own.

Researchers at the Department of Oncology at Catholic University in Campobasso and in Rome, Italy, working with the Italian National Research Council, conducted this study to determine if the natural antioxidants in wine would provide a protective effect in preventing acute skin toxicity in patients undergoing radiation therapy after conservative surgery for breast carcinoma.

The study consisted of 348 patients divided into three groups based on the dose/fractionation scheme used. Patients consuming wine had a lower incidence of Grade 2 or higher acute toxicity than those who did not consume alcohol. Patients who drank just one glass of wine per day had a 13.6 percent incidence of skin toxicity versus a 38.4 percent incidence in patients who did not drink wine.

“If wine can prevent radiotherapy-induced toxicity without affecting antitumor efficacy, as we observed, it also has the potential to enhance the therapeutic benefit in cancer patients without increasing their risk of serious adverse effects,” said Vincenzo Valentini, M.D., a radiation oncologist at Catholic University in Rome, Italy. “The possibility that particular dietary practices or interventions can reduce radiation-induced toxicity is very intriguing.”


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Avian Flu Virus tied to Parkinsons, Alzheimers RIsk

Luckily, the H1N1 ("Swine Flu") virus, while pandemic, does not appear to have some of the side effects of other possibly pandemic strains. Researchers are now showing that at least one strain of the H5N1 ("Bird Flu") avian influenza virus leaves survivors at a significantly increased risk for Parkinson’s disease and possibly other neurological problems later in life. This is according to new research from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

In the August 10 online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers reported that mice which survived infection with the avian flu strain were more likely than uninfected mice to develop brain changes associated with neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s involve a loss of brain cells crucial to a variety of tasks, including movement, memory and intellectual functioning. The study revealed the H5N1 flu strain caused a 17 percent loss of the same neurons lost in Parkinson’s as well as accumulation in certain brain cells of a protein implicated in both diseases.

“This avian flu strain does not directly cause Parkinson’s disease, but it does make you more susceptible,” said Richard Smeyne, Ph.D., associate member in St. Jude Developmental Neurobiology and the paper’s senior author.

“Around age 40, people start to get a decline in brain cells. Most people die before they lose enough neurons to get Parkinson’s. But we believe this H5N1 infection changes the curve. It makes the brain more sensitive to another hit, possibly involving other environmental toxins,” Smeyne explained.

Should the avian flu virus mutate to a pandemic variety including human-to-human transmission it could possibly leave a huge increase of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's cases in its wake.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Antibiotic Overuse Leads to Resistant Tuberculosis

Fluoroquinolones are one of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics in the U.S. and are used to fight a number of different infections such as pneumonia, and they include brand names Cipro, Floxin, Avelox and others. Often, they are prescribed for relatively minor issues, such as sinusitis. As you will see in many mentions on this blog, antibiotic overuse has led to many health concerns for our population.

The problem is that these same antibiotics are our first line of defense against TB (Tuberculosis) infections that show drug resistance. Now, research shows that the widespread general use of fluoroquinolones (for issues like sinusitis) may be creating a strain of fluoroquinolone-resistant TB. This general overuse of a common antibiotic may be undercutting the same drug's utility as our major defense against a terrible disease.

The results are published in the August 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

“While fluoroquinolone resistance in TB strains has been reported since the mid 1990’s, to our knowledge no one had investigated the direct causes of it,” said Dr. We wanted to determine whether and to what extent clinical practices were having an effect of creating that resistance,” said Rose A. Devasia, M.D., clinical instructor of Vanderbilt University.

To investigate the causes of the small but growing proportion of fluoroquinolone-resistant TB cases, Dr. Devasia and colleagues analyzed the records of every newly diagnosed patient with TB who was also enrolled in Tennessee’s Medicaid program, TennCare between January 2002 and December 2006. Using the TennCare pharmacy database, they were able to obtain information on the patients’ use of fluoroquinolone for the 12 months prior to their TB diagnosis. They used M. tuberculosis isolates taken from each patient to test for fluoroquinolone resistance in each case. Researchers found a linear association between previous fluoroquinolone exposure and fluoroquinolone resistance.

Overall, patients who had used fluoroquinolones within 12 months of diagnosis were almost five times as likely to have a fluoroquinolone-resistant strain of TB than those who had not used fluoroquinolones, and there was a linear association between length of fluoroquinolone use and fluoroquinolone resistance.

“For now, we all need to be more careful when considering the use of these drugs un the community setting and limit the use of prolonged or repeated courses of fluoroquinolones, or even avoid them altogether, in patients who are risk of having active TB,” they wrote in an accompanying editorial in the same issue of the journal.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Aspirin Reduces RIsk of Death from Colorectal Cancer

Investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital (all in the Boston area) are reporting that regular use of aspirin after colorectal cancer diagnosis may reduce the risk of cancer death. In the August 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study's authors say that the aspirin-associated survival advantage was seen primarily in patients with tumors expressing the COX-2 enzyme, a characteristic of two-thirds of colorectal cancers.

"While previous studies by our group and others showed that aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer, this study is the among the first to show that aspirin can also improve survival in patients who have already been diagnosed with colorectal cancers. Moreover, the benefit appeared to be especially strong among patients with cancers that express COX-2," says Andrew Chan, MD, the study's lead author. "This is an important first step toward developing targeted approaches to improving patient outcomes."

Many previous studies have shown that regular use of aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs reduces the risk of developing colorectal cancer. The current study focused on 1,279 study participants who were diagnosed with stage 1, 2 or 3 colorectal cancer during their participation in the studies for whom data was available on aspirin use before and after diagnosis. The benefit was especially strong among patients who began using aspirin after diagnosis. In contrast, patients who were aspirin users before diagnosis did not appear to benefit as much from continuing aspirin use after diagnosis. As expected, the survival benefit appeared restricted to patients with COX-2-positive tumors.

"We believe our results could lead to improvements in the therapy of patient with colon cancer," says Charles Fuchs, MD, of Dana-Farber, the study's senior author. "We're now following up this observational study with a randomized trial to evaluate adding the COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib -- which is less likely to have the gastrointestinal side effects of aspirin -- to standard chemotherapy."


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Decreased Sleep May Lead to Diabetes

According to a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, the short sleep times experienced by many individuals may contribute to the development of insulin resistance and reduced glucose tolerance. This in turn may increase the long-term risk of diabetes for these poor sleepers.

One increasingly common aspect of the Western lifestyle is a night of poor sleep, which is often aggravated by physical inactivity and overeating. Many Americans sleep fewer than six hours each night and individuals who report such short sleep times have in previous studies demonstrated an increased risk of developing diabetes. This new study examined whether reduced sleep duration itself may increase the risk of developing diabetes when combined with physical inactivity and overeating, and you guessed it -- it does.

Researchers in this study subjected a group of healthy middle-aged men and women to two controlled 14-day periods of sedentary living with free access to food and 5.5 or 8.5 hour bedtimes. When the subjects had their bedtimes decreased from 8.5 hours to 5.5 hours they showed changes in their response to two common sugar tests, which were similar to those seen in people with an increased risk of developing diabetes.

“Our findings raise the possibility that when the unhealthy aspects of the Westernized lifestyle are combined with reduced sleep duration, this might contribute to the increased risk of many overweight and sedentary individuals developing diabetes,” said Plamen Penev, MD, PhD, of the University of Chicago, a senior author of the study.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Honeybee Antioxidant Protects Athletes from Overheating

Propolis, a compound from honeybees that bees use to seal their hives, may protect against heat stress in athletes, according to an article in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists.

Widely used as a folk medicine, honeybee propolis (sometimes called "bee glue") has an active biocompound known as caffeic acid phenethyl ester, or CAPE. CAPE has a broad spectrum of biological activities including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiviral uses. Heat stress, hyperthermia, is considered to be the main factor underlying the early fatigue and dehydration seen during prolonged exercise in the heat. “Since hyperthermia and free radical generation are related to exercise-induced physical damage, it is reasonable to test whether an antioxidant can prevent or reduce hyperthermia-induced free radical generation and damage,” says lead researcher Yu-Jen Chen of Chinese Culture University in Taiwan.

Researchers examined blood from 30 competitive cyclists who engaged in endurance training for two to four years prior to the investigation. None participated in any competitions or intensive training or had any clinical illness or medical or surgical treatments for four months prior to the study. It turned out to have a very positive effect on these cyclists.

“CAPE rescued mononuclear cells from hyperthermia-induced cell death,” writes Yu-Jen Chen. “This implies that CAPE might not only promote athletic performance but also prevent injury secondary to endurance-exercise-induced hyperthermia.”


Monday, August 3, 2009

Are You Exercising Your Brain?

According to a new study published in the August 4, 2009, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, those who engage in activities that exercise the brain (reading, writing, card games, etc.) may delay the rapid memory decline that occurs if they later develop dementia.

The study involved 488 people age 75 to 85 who did not have dementia at the start of the study. They were followed for an average of five years; during that time 101 of the people developed dementia. (That's a scary thought -- more than 20%.)

Before beginning the trial, researchers asked the participants how often they participated in six leisure activities that engage the brain: reading, writing, doing crossword puzzles, playing board or card games, having group discussions, and playing music.

The researchers then looked at the point when memory loss started accelerating rapidly for the participants. They found that for every additional activity a person participated in, the onset of rapid memory loss was delayed by 0.18 years.

“The point of accelerated decline was delayed by 1.29 years for the person who participated in 11 activities per week compared to the person who participated in only four activities per week,” said study author Charles B. Hall, PhD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY.

The results remained valid after researchers factored in the education level of the participants. “The effect of these activities in late life appears to be independent of education,” Hall said. “These activities might help maintain brain vitality. Further studies are needed to determine if increasing participation in these activities could prevent or delay dementia.”

The study was supported by the National Institute on Aging.