Newsbriefs: Tea Benefits; Sleep Problems; Eating Disorders; Supplements; Memory Recall

Tea Found to Lower Risk of Heart Attack.

When consumed as part of a heart-healthy diet, tea may slow the progression of coronary artery calcium (CAC) and reduce the risk of heart attack, a study in the American Journal of Medicine (Sept. 15, 2016) has found. The finding is based on the eating habits of 6,500 individuals ages 44 to 84 in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Almost 30 percent of participants reported drinking less than one cup of tea a day, and 13 percent drank one or more cups a day. Over time, those who drank one or more cups of tea a day had lower levels of CAC, meaning less atherosclerosis, and less CAC progression than those who drank no tea. Tea drinkers also had fewer heart attacks than tea non-drinkers. Almost 51 percent of participants drank one or more cups of coffee a day, and 24 percent drank less than one cup per day.  Those who drank less than one cup a day had a higher rate of cardiovascular events than people who drank no coffee.

Sleep Problems Related to Cardiovascular Diseases.

It has long been known that sleep apnea—sleep interrupted by periods when breathing stops—is a risk factor for heart disease. But according to the American Heart Association, so is insomnia. Like sleep apnea, regularly sleeping fewer than seven hours a night significantly increases the risk of arrhythmias, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, heart failure and stroke, as well as elevated cholesterol, hypertension, obesity and diabetes. Getting too much sleep isn’t healthy either: Those who sleep more than nine hours a night are at risk for obesity, hypertension and diabetes. (Circulation, published Sept. 19, 2016 online.)

Why Women are More Susceptible to Eating Disorders.

About 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from eating disorders, 20 million of them women. A study, published in the journal Cerebral Cortex online Oct. 13, 2016, showed that women are more likely than men to have negative feelings about their bodies. When observing their “obese” bodies—using a virtual reality headset—participants in the study experienced brain activity in the parietal lobe, the area of the brain associated with body perception, and activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, the brain area associated with processing subjective emotions, such as fear and anger. The research pinpoints the link between body perception and our emotional responses regarding body satisfaction, said lead author Dr. Catherine Preston, department of psychology, York University, UK.

Rising Trends in Consumption of Specific Supplements.

American adults have increased their consumption of supplements such as vitamin D and fish oil, fueled in part by widespread media attention focused on those products, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Oct. 11, 2016. Intake of fish oil increased from 1.3 to 12 percent between 1999-2000 and 2011-2012; vitamin D use increased from 5.1 percent in the earlier period to 19 percent in 2011-2012. Data were obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, based on responses from nearly 38,000 U.S. adults between the periods 1999-2000 and 2011-2012. Researchers found that 52 percent of respondents reported using supplements in 2011-2012, the same number reported between 1999 and 2000. Highest use of supplements was among non-Hispanic white adults (58 percent vs. 29-52 percent of other ethnic groups), among women (58 percent vs. 45 percent of men), and highly educated people vs. those with less than a high school education (65 vs. 37 percent, respectively). Supplement intake also rose significantly with age; 72 percent of people over age 65 take supplements compared to 40 percent of people between ages 20 to 39.

Exercise Four Hours After Learning to Improve Memory Recall.

A recent study involving 72 people showed that adults who exercised four hours after completing a learning task had better recall two days later, compared to those who exercised immediately after the task or not at all. Researchers said it’s possible that exercise increased catecholamine levels, chemical compounds that can improve memory consolidation. (Current Biology June 16, 2016.)

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