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Blog posts of '2012' 'November'

Sound Body Equals Sound Mind


Sound Body Equals Sound MindPhysical exercise has a far bigger impact on supporting brain health in older people than previously thought. While seniors have been encouraged for years to do “brain activities” such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and reading to support cognitive function and memory, a new study points out that it’s physical exercise that helps protect aging brains from shrinking.

Brain Size Affects Cognitive Health

Brain shrinkage is typical with age and scientists have linked various degrees of shrinkage to its effects on memory and cognitive function.

In the study, which was published in the journal, Neurology, 700 people living in the UK were questioned about the leisure and physical activities they engaged in. When their brains were scanned three years later, those who were more physically active had larger volumes of gray and white brain matter. By comparison, those who engaged in nonphysical activities still showed signs of brain shrinkage despite engaging in their hobbies regularly. Regular physical activity also reduced the incidence of white matter lesions, which have been found to adversely affect memory and thinking.

Similar Study Supports Findings

A similar study showed that aerobic exercises—such as walking or jogging—were also more beneficial than nonaerobic exercises like stretching and toning. In this study, 120 individuals were split into two equal groups, with one group performing 30-45 minutes of moderate, aerobic exercise three times a week while the other group did stretching and toning exercises. MRI scans a year later revealed that the nonaerobic exercise group showed signs of shrinkage in a region of the brain known as the hippocampus whereas the hippocampus was larger in the exercise group. If you’ve been resting on your laurels waiting for yet another reason to start exercising for your overall health, the evidence above should hopefully convince you. So get up and start moving!



BPA Linked to Thyroid Hormone Changes


BPA Linked to Thyroid Hormone ChangesBisphenol A, or BPA, the chemical compound that has gathered a lot of negative attention over the years due to its effects on neural health, has now been linked to changes in thyroid level hormones. The UC Berkeley study is one of the first to analyze the effects of BPA on pregnant women and newborn boys, and the results were alarming, to say the least.

BPA Affects Neural Health

Previous studies have linked BPA to blocking the conversion of folic acid into its active form called 5-MTHF, which is essential to neural health and supporting a healthier mood, concentration, and memory. For this reason, folic acid supplementation is highly encouraged in pregnant women to support the health of developing children. This latest study shows that increased BPA levels in pregnant women correspond to a decrease in their levels of thyroid hormone T4. Incidentally, the higher the BPA levels in the mothers, the more active were the thyroids in newborn boys. Thyroid hormones are crucial to brain development in young children as well as other aspects of growth such as metabolism, which is why it’s important for thyroid function to be neither overactive nor underactive to support proper growth and development.

More Manufacturers Cutting Back on BPA Use

The use of BPA in plastics manufacturing is so commonplace that up to 90% of American women have traces of BPA in their system. Up till recently BPA was used in everything from microwavable plastic containers to water bottles to sales receipts. Even dental sealants and the preservative lining of canned foods have BPA. In July, 2012, the Food and Drug Administration prohibited the use of BPA in manufacturing plastic baby bottles and cups. Some states, such as California, are also enforcing tougher restrictions on how much BPA can be used in manufacturing plastics. These tougher restrictions have led to certain manufacturers, such as Campbell’s soup, to completely ban the use of BPA in their products. With increasing awareness on the dangers of BPA to health, and more manufacturers stepping up and admitting the potential dangers of this chemical, younger generations can hopefully look towards a future where BPA will no longer be used in any items associated with food or drink.