Saturday, May 15, 2010

Piece of cheese each day 'helps protect the immune system of the elderly'

I am prepared to believe anything good about cheese but must perforce note that this is mostly theory. See the rubric below

A piece of cheese a day could keep the doctor away, research has found. Scientists say cheese can boost the immune system of the elderly by acting as a carrier for so-called 'good' bacteria.

Tests have found that eating probiotic varieties of cheese can tackle age-related deterioration in the immune system - leading to a healthier old age.

Probiotic cheese is available in health shops, and is marketed in the same way as probiotic yoghurt. Some forms of aged cheeses are also naturally teeming with probiotic bacteria.

A team from Finland's Turku University concluded that a daily portion of probiotic cheese can slow the degeneration of our bodies known as immunosenescene, which makes it much harder to fight infections and respond to vaccinations.

The researchers asked volunteers aged between 72 and 103 to eat one slice of either placebo or probiotic Gouda cheese with their breakfast for four weeks.

Tests found that those eating the probiotic cheese had a dramatically increased number of white blood cells - which help fight infection.

Lead researcher Dr Fandi Ibrahim said in the journal Immunology & Medical Microbiology that regular probiotic cheese was an innovative way to boost the immune system. 'The intake of probiotic bacteria has been reported to enhance the immune response through other products and now we have discovered that cheese can be a carrier of the same bacteria.'

This deterioration means the body finds it much harder to kill tumour cells and reduces the immune response to vaccinations and infections. Infectious diseases, chronic inflammation disorders and cancer are hallmarks of immunosenescene.

To tackle immunosenescene, the team targeted the gastrointestinal tract, which is the main entry for bacteria cells into the body through food and drink - and is also the site where two thirds of vital 'immunoglobin' antibodies are secreted.

Blood tests were carried out on volunteers to discover the effect of probiotic bacteria contained within the cheese on the immune system. The results revealed a dramatic increase in the number of white blood cells which are key in the body's fight against infection.

However, there was no follow-up to test whether the elderly people in the study had fewer illnesses. And there is no suggestion that the cheese could help against cancer.

Dr Ibrahim said: 'The aim of our study was to see if specific probiotic bacteria in cheese would have immune enhancing effects on healthy older individuals in a nursing home setting.

'We have demonstrated that the regular intake of probiotic cheese can help to boost the immune system and that including it in a regular diet may help to improve an elderly person's immune response to external challenges.'


Want to live to see 100? Then be nice to friends and family

This seems reasonable enough as far as it goes but it must be noted that there are many factors influencing longevity, with genes being hard to trump. Note this study, for instance

A study of centenarians has revealed that developing close friendships and family ties is key if you want to live to 100. The researchers quizzed 188 centenarians on the secrets of their staying power. They found that most classed themselves as sociable, open-minded and optimistic.

Only two of the men and women studied were smokers, although 28 per cent were former smokers. Almost all drank alcohol, although only in moderation. Many were still physically active, with 60 per cent going on regular walks or taking other forms of exercise.

Researcher Robyn Richmond said genetics accounts for just 20 to 30 per cent of a person's chances of living to 100, meaning personality and lifestyle have a major impact.

'Social contact with family and friends is very important,' she said. 'Centenarians have built up strong solid relationships, seeing family, friends and neighbours regularly. 'If they don't have children, if they have very strong connections with their friends or if they are living in a nursing home that gets them doing interesting things with others who live there, they are more likely to live to 100.'

Professor Richmond, of New South Wales University in Sydney, which led the survey, said: 'Low neuroticism is a personality trait. 'They are not prone to negative emotions, so they are not hostile to others, not angry or guilty, not anxious or depressed.

'Centenarians are open to change. They have lived through trials and tribulations. They also tend to be extraverts. 'They are conscientious, which means they follow doctors' advice about a healthy lifestyle.

'Half have a drink each day but none a risky level of alcohol consumption. 'It means even if you have got bad genes but you live a healthy life and stay positive, you could still have a very long life.' [Improbable. What does "living a healthy life" mean? Despite much bright-eyed optimism, there is no strong evidence that diet, for instance, has ANY effect on longevity. Abstaining from illegal drugs, however, would undoubtedly have a beneficial effect]

Advances in healthcare and healthier lifestyles means one in eight Britons turning 50 this year is predicted to reach 100.



Anonymous said...

You are a beautiful human being.


jonjayray said...

Go easy on those substances, Nik