Sugar May Harm Brain Health

Sugar May Harm Brain Health
High levels of blood glucose are linked to memory impairments
Scientific American Mind 25, 14 (2014)

Reconsolidation Allows Fear Memory to Be Updated to a Less Aversive Level through the Incorporation of Appetitive Information
Neuropsychopharmacology (2015) 40, 315–326
Josue Haubrich

‘Safe’ levels of sugar harmful to mice
Diet comparable to that of many Americans left animals struggling to reproduce and to compete for territory.
Brian Owens
13 August 2013

Cutting calories may improve memory
Elderly people benefit from caloric restriction.
original paper:
Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 106, 1255–1260 (2009)
Witte, A. V., Fobker, M., Gellner, R., Knecht, S. & Flöel, A.

Delaying retirement & Your Health

Could Delaying Retirement Be Great For Your Health?
September 25, 2015

A study published Thursday in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease finds that working in one’s 60s and 70s is associated with better physical and mental health.

“There’s something about the aging process — that if you stay working, then you stay hardy,” says University of Miami epidemiologist Alberto Caban-Martinez, who contributed to the study.

Caban-Martinez and his colleagues analyzed survey data from more than 85,000 adults age 65 and older. (The mean age was around 75.) In general, people who kept working were nearly three times as likely to report being in good health than those who had retired.

original paper:
Health Status of Older US Workers and Nonworkers, National Health Interview Survey, 1997–2011
Volume 12 — September 24, 2015

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors

‘When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors’ To Best Avoid Lightning’s Pain
July 17, 2015

Most people who are injured or killed by lightning, it turns out, are not struck directly — instead, the bolt lands nearby.

while most people assume lightning strikes cause burns, brain injuries are more common.

Lightning strikes can damage nerves in a way that causes nerves to misfire, sometimes for the rest of the survivor’s life, she says, and the brain reads that misfiring as chronic pain.

“In the case of a thunderstorm, lightning can strike up to 10 miles away,”

IOM. Smart Snack

Guess What Makes The Cut As A ‘Smart Snack’ In Schools? Hot Cheetos
March 28, 2015

These aren’t just any Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. They’re a reformulated version with less fat, less salt and more whole grains. But is that really what the scientists at the Institute of Medicine had in mind when they wrote the recommendations that would become the Smart Snack rules?

In Chicago, schools get a 20 percent commission on all sales.

You need motivational support to turn knowledge into action

Behavior Change Techniques in Top-Ranked Mobile Apps for Physical Activity
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 46(6): 649–652, June 2014
David E. Conroy, PhD, et al.

Top-ranked apps (n=167) were identified on August 28, 2013, and coded using the Coventry, Aberdeen and London–Revised (CALO-RE) taxonomy of behavior change techniques during the following month.

Behavior change techniques are not widely marketed in contemporary physical activity apps.
Based on the available descriptions and functions of the observed techniques in contemporary health behavior theories, people may need multiple apps to initiate and maintain behavior change.

journalistic version:
Most Fitness Apps Don’t Use Proven Motivational Techniques
May 06, 2014
“You need motivational support to turn that knowledge into action,” says David Conroy, a kinesiology professor at Penn State who led the study


4 Proven Ways to Increase Your Motivation to Exercise
July 2016

CT Scans & Kid’s risk for cancer

The Use of Computed Tomography in Pediatrics and the Associated Radiation Exposure and Estimated Cancer Risk
Diana L. Miglioretti, PhD, et al.
JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(8):700-707.

Importance  Increased use of computed tomography (CT) in pediatrics raises concerns about cancer risk from exposure to ionizing radiation.

Objectives  To quantify trends in the use of CT in pediatrics and the associated radiation exposure and cancer risk.

Participants  The use of CT was evaluated for children younger than 15 years of age from 1996 to 2010, including 4 857 736 child-years of observation. Radiation doses were calculated for 744 CT scans performed between 2001 and 2011.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Rates of CT use, organ and effective doses, and projected lifetime attributable risks of cancer.

Results  The use of CT doubled for children younger than 5 years of age and tripled for children 5 to 14 years of age between 1996 and 2005, remained stable between 2006 and 2007, and then began to decline. Effective doses varied from 0.03 to 69.2 mSv per scan. An effective dose of 20 mSv or higher was delivered by 14% to 25% of abdomen/pelvis scans, 6% to 14% of spine scans, and 3% to 8% of chest scans. Projected lifetime attributable risks of solid cancer were higher for younger patients and girls than for older patients and boys, and they were also higher for patients who underwent CT scans of the abdomen/pelvis or spine than for patients who underwent other types of CT scans. For girls, a radiation-induced solid cancer is projected to result from every 300 to 390 abdomen/pelvis scans, 330 to 480 chest scans, and 270 to 800 spine scans, depending on age. The risk of leukemia was highest from head scans for children younger than 5 years of age at a rate of 1.9 cases per 10 000 CT scans. Nationally, 4 million pediatric CT scans of the head, abdomen/pelvis, chest, or spine performed each year are projected to cause 4870 future cancers. Reducing the highest 25% of doses to the median might prevent 43% of these cancers.

Conclusions and Relevance  The increased use of CT in pediatrics, combined with the wide variability in radiation doses, has resulted in many children receiving a high-dose examination. Dose-reduction strategies targeted to the highest quartile of doses could dramatically reduce the number of radiation-induced cancers.

journalistic version:

related paper:

You don’t need cognitive stimulation

John Zeisel on ‘hopeful aging’
Jul 7, 2013

Creative means discovery, creative means learning, creative means invention, creative means comprehension.
We’re always in search of understanding.

You can’t learn, be innovative, discover, be creative with banality.
Playing bingo isn’t going to cut it. It’s not interesting enough.
Looking at a Matisse and saying, “What is this painting about?” — that’s interesting enough.

Sudoku, crossword puzzles — mental exercise is not what I’m talking about.
It doesn’t do it. The term that’s used for those is ‘cognitive stimulation.’
You don’t need cognitive stimulation. You have to have meaning in your life. If it’s meaningful, it will stimulate you.

Is there anything else we can do to help our brains age well?
The basic three are sleep, diet and exercise.

The second level of intervention is stress reduction and creative endeavors: the arts, learning. The learning can be anything. It can be based on aptitudes and skills you already have, or you can also learn new skills. All kinds of learning are as essential as stress reduction.

The biggest misconception is that people with dementia can’t learn.
There are four learning systems in the brain.
One is called episodic learning: there’s an event in my life and I remember what happened.
The second is semantic learning, like learning a word out of context.
Then there’s emotional learning, which revolves around relating to others.
Then the final one is procedural learning, which we learn by repetition, by doing something. It’s how you learn to ride a bike or sign your signature.

People with dementia lose some ability with the first two, but they do not lose their abilities for emotional and procedural learning.

To Keep Your Brain Nimble As You Age, Stretch It