Research reveals: Rounding up science's latest discoveries

Research reveals: Rounding up science's latest discoveries
PHOTO: Research reveals: Rounding up science's latest discoveries

OBESITY CUTS YEARS OF LIFE

Piling on the kilos can knock years off your life - eight, one study says.

The study published in renowned medical journal The Lancet also shows that when overweight individuals develop diabetes or heart disease earlier in life, the excess weight could rob them of nearly 20 years of healthy life.

Scientists from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, Canada, used data from the Canadian National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (from 2003 to 2010). The age at which the excess weight gained was an important factor and the worst outcomes were in those who gained their weight when they were younger, the study said.

So, despite this being the season to indulge, a little restraint is in order.

STAY YOUNG BY THINKING

While the body ages and slows down, the things that really matter to us - vitality, libido, memory, and brain power - do not have to change.

University of California neuroscientist Michael Merzenich found that when the brain is rejuvenated, it refreshes everything from skin and organ function to capacity for pleasure and energy. The aim then is to "fatten" the brain so the body does not atrophy.

So do not make things easy for the brain. Stop using a GPS and study road maps instead, to force yourself to remember where you are going and the details around you. Or try complex subjects you might not be good at, such as re-learning maths.

PROTECT YOUR HEAD

Injuries to the head can disrupt the way the brain removes waste, resulting in degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

A new study out in the Journal of Neuroscience shows that trauma to the brain early in life impairs its ability to clear waste, allowing a sticky protein known as "tau" to spread and reach toxic levels throughout the brain, say researchers from the University of Rochester in New York.

The trauma causes large amounts of tau to be shaken free. These drift in the space between the brain's cells and, over time, form increasingly larger "tangles" that can impair brain function.

The findings provide new insights that are changing the way scientists understand brain and nerve disorders.

juditht@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Dec 14, 2014.
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