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Can we keep our cognitive abilities sharp by playing computer games such as the Nintendo Brain Age, Mindweavers’s MindFit or the Brain Fitness Program from Posit? The manufacturers are convinced we can, and have carried out several studies to try and prove the point.

In one study of 465 people aged over 65 years, the Brain Fit Program – mainly available in the US – helped the participants improve their auditory memory over an eight to 10 week period.

In a separate study of 121 elderly volunteers, the Mindfit game seemed to generally help cognitive abilities after 24 sessions compared to a standard computer game.

Both these studies are unpublished, and doctors who specialise in dementia are not convinced. Instead, they see mental decline as multi-factorial, with exercise, good health and an interest in life as being important ways of keeping it at bay.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2008; 336: 246-8).
Published by Joan2007 on Feb 10, 2008
Vitamin E could be the ‘X factor’ in determining how long and well we live. People with low levels of the nutrient decline more rapidly, researchers have found.

In a study of 698 men and women aged over 65, those with low serum levels of vitamin E showed a decline in physical abilities over a three-year period compared with those with higher levels.

It was the only vitamin that seemed to make a difference to physical decline. Lower levels of folate, vitamin D, iron or the B vitamins didn’t affect physical ability.

Researchers believe that the vitamin, an antioxidant, prevents damage to our DNA, muscles and neurones.

Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds, and corn and olive oil.

(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2008; 299: 308-15).
Published by Joan2007 on Feb 9, 2008
Several outbreaks of ciguatera fish poisoning have been confirmed in consumers who ate fish harvested in the northern Gulf of Mexico, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.

The FDA said that fish such as grouper, snapper, amberjack and barracuda represent the most significant threat to consumers. They feed on fish that have eaten toxic marine algae. The toxin is stable in the tissue of living fish and does them no harm. But larger carnivores have higher concentrations of the toxin in their tissues. As a result, the greatest risk of poisoning for humans comes from the largest fish.

Symptoms of ciguatera poisoning include nausea, vomiting, vertigo and joint pain. In the most serious cases, neurological problems can last for months or even years. Several outbreaks of the illness were confirmed in Washington, D.C., and St. Louis, the FDA said. Overall, there have been at least 28 reported cases across the country, with the first case being reported in late November.
Published by Irene on Feb 7, 2008
Take a moment and consider this logic: 1. Fat-free foods are healthy. 2. Skittles are fat-free. 3. Therefore, Skittles are healthy. Make sense? Of course not. But it's exactly the type of reasoning that food manufacturers want you to use.

You see, in our example, we started with a false premise. That's because the term "fat-free" is often code for "high-sugar" — an attribute that makes a product the opposite of healthy. Case in point: Johns Hopkins University researchers recently determined that high blood sugar is an independent risk factor for heart disease. So high-glycemic foods — those such as sugars and starches that raise your blood sugar dramatically — are inherently unhealthy. (See Skittles, above.)

Unfortunately, faulty food logic is far less obvious when you're shopping outside the candy aisle. Why? Because making healthy choices isn't as simple as knowing that beans are packed with fiber, or that fruits are loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants. After all, manufacturers often add ingredients, such as sugar, that can instantly turn a good snack bad. As a result, many of the products that you think are wholesome are anything but. And that's why we've created our list of the dirty dozen: 12 "healthy" foods that you can — and should — live without.
Published by Caroline on Feb 5, 2008
Drinking a couple of cups of coffee a day has long been considered safe during pregnancy, but a new study finds that even this modest amount of caffeine could double a woman’s risk of miscarriage.

Doctors are split on what this means for pregnant women, with some advising avoiding caffeine altogether and others saying buzz-inducing beverages are still safe in moderation.

Previous studies have linked caffeine to an increased risk of miscarriage, but they have focused on higher doses and the connection has been controversial, with some experts arguing that the research didn't account for morning sickness. The nausea and vomiting of morning sickness, caused by elevated hormones, is generally a sign of a reduced risk of miscarriage — and also can lead women to stop drinking their usual coffee or other caffeinated drinks. The concern was that the cutback in caffeine among these women could make it appear caffeine was associated with miscarriage.
Published by MollyDD on Feb 2, 2008
BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission proposed simplified food labels Wednesday highlighting fat, sugar and salt contents in an attempt to contain the spread of obesity and junk food in the 27-nation EU.

Under the proposals, six content elements will have to appear on packages: energy, total fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sugar and salts.

The labels, which must be clear enough so consumers can make quick decisions, will also indicate what percentage of advisable daily intake they represent.
Published by Art99 on Feb 1, 2008
The movement to ban artery-clogging trans fats from food has a new venue: cooking schools.

The places that train the people who will someday be feeding the rest of us are cutting back or eliminating artificial trans fats from their classrooms, saying they have a responsibility to teach students how to cook healthy foods.
Published by Irene on Jan 31, 2008
Meat and milk from cloned animals is as safe as that from their counterparts bred the old-fashioned way, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday — but sales still won’t begin right away.

The decision removes the last big U.S. regulatory hurdle to marketing products from cloned livestock, and puts the FDA in concert with recent safety assessments from European food regulators and several other nations.

“Meat and milk from cattle, swine and goat clones are as safe as food we eat every day,” said Dr. Stephen Sundloff, FDA’s food safety chief.
Published by Caroline on Jan 30, 2008
Concerns about the safety of eating sushi were raised this week after reports surfaced over the high levels of mercury in tuna and swordfish. Lab tests commissioned by the New York Times found so much mercury in tuna in 20 Manhattan restaurants and stores that eating six pieces a week would exceed acceptable levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency, the newspaper reported.

On Friday, the group that conducted the tests, the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, in Piscataway, N.J. told TODAY that the findings would likely be similar in other cities around the country.

The report generated a strong response from the seafood industry. TODAY’s Matt Lauer quoted a statement from the National Fisheries Institute, saying “The public deserves to have all the facts about the benefits of eating fish, and that is why scaring consumers with misinformation is so irresponsible.”
Published by Margo on Jan 29, 2008
When we speak about food that has plenty of health benefits, Garlic is one thing that tops the charts. Everyone knows about its benefits for a healthy heart, but there's more to this stinking(or should I say fragrant!)spice than what meets the eye. Garlic has long been considered a herbal "wonder drug", contributing to cures of everything from the common cold to the Plague...It has also been used extensively in herbal medicines. So here's a comprehensive list of some well-known and some less-known facts about Garlic. After reading this, I think you'd appreciate it more than just for the "garlicky flavour" that most of us love in our food!!…
Published by Irene on Jan 28, 2008