Latest News & Research: 20 February 2018

This week: Ditch the fizzy if you’re getting busy… • The lift is out of order, take the stairs • Running protects memory and fights stress + more.

Ditch the fizzy if you’re getting busy…

Unless you live with your head buried in the sand, you’ll know that carbonated soft drinks have about as much place in a healthy diet as a staffer has in a politician’s love life.

Pretty much bereft of nutritional value other than the initial thirst quenching (hey – try water!), heavy consumption is often linked to obesity and overweight. In fact, in the US, one-third of sugar consumed is in the form of (often galactic-sized) soft drinks. Now new research has also found a link between daily consumption of sugary sodas and reduced fertility, in both women and men.

The study of almost 5,000 people, predominantly women, found that women who drank one soft drink a day had a 25% lower probability of conception, while men with the same habit had a 33% lower chance.

Lead study author Elizabeth Hatch, a professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health, said ‘Couples planning a pregnancy might consider limiting their consumption of these beverages, especially because they are also related to other adverse health effects.’

More evidence for exercise in fighting Alzheimer’s

We’ve reported on several previous studies that have found positive correlations between physical activity and the decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and now new research has strengthened this school of thought.

US researchers have found that people with lower fitness levels experience faster deterioration of nerve fibres in the brain, which can lead to cognitive decline.

Commenting on the research, study author Dr Kan Ding, a neurologist from UT Southwestern's O'Donnell Brain Institute, said ‘This research supports the hypothesis that improving people's fitness may improve their brain health and slow down the ageing process.’

Dr Rong Zhang of UT Southwestern, said ‘Evidence suggests that what is bad for your heart is bad for your brain. We need studies like this to find out how the two are intertwined and hopefully find the right formula to help prevent Alzheimer's disease.’

The lift is out of order, take the stairs

Any physical activity is good for you (unless you’re running into a wall perhaps), but as we know, not every demographic finds it easy to work out – either due to physical, psychological or social reasons. Often, post-menopausal women are a case in point, feeling both physical and social discomfort when it comes to exercising in public. The answer. However, could be in everyone’s own home or apartment block.

New research analysis of a Korean study found that stage 2 hypertensive postmenopausal women who climbed 192 steps, two-to-five times a day for four days a week, experienced reductions in blood pressure and arterial stiffness as well as increases in leg strength.

Dr JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of The North American Menopause Society said ‘This study demonstrates how simple lifestyle interventions such as stair climbing can be effective in preventing or reducing the negative effects of menopause and age on the vascular system and leg muscles of postmenopausal women with hypertension.’

Running protects memory and fights stress

New research has found that pulling on your runners and hitting the streets can lessen the negative impacts of chronic stress on the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory, the hippocampus.

Researchers found that the brains of ‘exercising mice’, that had undergone a four-week regime of regular exercise and were then exposed to stressful scenarios, retained normal synaptic strength levels – associated with good memory function. The brains of mice that did not exercise, and also experienced the same stressful scenarios, did not fare so well.

Lead study author Jeff Edwards, associate professor of physiology and developmental biology at BYU, said ‘The ideal situation for improving learning and memory would be to experience no stress and to exercise. Of course, we can't always control stress in our lives, but we can control how much we exercise. It's empowering to know that we can combat the negative impacts of stress on our brains just by getting out and running.’