Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Drinking hot chocolate could prevent ALZHEIMER'S by boosting blood flow to the brain
This is a short-term study of a small group so should not be taken too seriously but it should be noted that normals did not benefit and that anti-oxidants made no difference!
Scientists have come up with an indulgent way to stave off dementia. Drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day may boost memory in pensioners by almost a third. It is thought chocolate’s ability to boost blood circulation is the reason.
'We're learning more about blood flow in the brain and its effect on thinking skills,' said lead author Dr Farzaneh Sorond, from Harvard Medical School.
'As different areas of the brain need more energy to complete their tasks, they also need greater blood flow. This relationship, called neurovascular coupling, may play an important role in diseases such as Alzheimer's.'
The study, published in the journal Neurology, involved 60 people with an average age of 73 who did not have dementia.
Each volunteer drank two cups of hot cocoa a day for a month and did not consume any other chocolate during the study.
Both their memory and thinking skills were examined, while they also had ultrasounds to measure the blood flow to the brain during the tests.
Almost a third of participants had impaired blood flow at the start of the study, but saw an 8.3-per cent improvement in flow to the working areas of the brain by the end of the study.
This group with impaired blood flow also experienced improved times after taking a test of working memory, with scores falling from 167 to 116 seconds by the end of the month.
In both instances, there was no improvement for those who started out with regular blood flow.
Half of the study participants received hot cocoa that was rich in the antioxidant flavanol, while the other half received flavanol-poor hot cocoa. There were no differences between the two groups in the results.
'More work is needed to prove a link between cocoa, blood flow problems and cognitive decline,' said Dr Paul Rosenberg, from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. 'But this is an important first step that could guide future studies.'
Previous research has found that lovers of dark chocolate - with at least 60-70 per cent cocoa - benefit from a protective effect against high blood pressure and the risk of diabetes.
And scientists say it can even benefit those who are already at high risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The beneficial effects have been shown only for dark chocolate which is at least 60-70 per cent cocoa. Milk or white chocolate does not provide the same benefits.
It is rich in flavonoids which are known to have heart protecting effects. Sceptics say the high calorie content of chocolate tends to offset the benefits.
Another study found that eating chocolate reduces blood pressure and improves insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of diabetes.
Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said: 'This small study adds to a wealth of existing evidence linking vascular problems and poorer cognition. A cocoa-based treatment would likely be very popular, but it's too soon to draw any conclusions about its effects.
'Dementia is one of the greatest medical challenges we face today, and it's vital that we invest in research to find ways to prevent the condition.
‘Poor vascular health is a known risk factor for dementia, and understanding more about the links between vascular problems and declining brain health could help the search for new treatments and preventions.'
The unhealthy generation who could die before their parents: Millions of British children risk heart disease by shunning vegetables and watching too much television, campaigners warn
"Campaigers" is right. They are not scientists. There is no evidence for their assertions. People are in fact living longer as time goes by and diet "worsens"
Millions of British children are shunning vegetables and watching too much television, creating a generation who will die younger than their parents will, researchers have warned.
The majority of five to 15-year-olds – some 80 per cent – are not eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, according to the study.
However half of children in this age group indulge in soft drinks, chocolates or sweets every day, researchers found.
The researchers called for a return to traditional outdoor activities as they revealed on a typical Saturday or Sunday a quarter of children aged two to 15 spend at least six hours being inactive.
Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation which conducted the study with the University of Oxford, said the findings were ‘simply unacceptable’.
‘These figures are a warning that many of our children are in grave danger of developing coronary heart disease in the future if they continue to live the same lifestyle,’ he said.
Teenagers seem to be worse than younger age groups, with around two in five 13-year-olds – 39 per cent of girls and 43 per cent of boys – drinking a soft drink every day.
Almost half of boys and over a third of girls aged 13 also go without breakfast, as do almost a third of 11-year-olds.
This figure is even higher among 15-year-olds, with 57 per cent of girls and 38 per cent of boys going without breakfast.
Most girls and boys aged 13 do not do the recommended one hour of physical activity a day, compared with 20 per cent of 11-year-olds. And almost three-quarters of 13-year-olds watch at least two hours of TV on a weekday, as do 60 per cent of 11-year-old girls and 64 per cent of 11-year-old boys.
The rise of this unhealthy generation will leave Britain unable to compete with other countries, the Prime Minister has warned.
Mr Gillespie told the Times: ‘The healthier a nation is, the more efficient it is.’
He said he has seen some cases of high cholesterol in teenagers that ‘you would expect to see in a stereotypical sedentary truck driver eating a cooked breakfast every day’.
Deaths from heart disease have fallen sharply in recent years, but Mr Gillespie said: ‘We’ve got a generation growing up which will buck that trend and potentially they will be the generation that live less long than the generation above them.
‘It really is as stark as that. If that isn’t a wake-up call, then what is?
‘Our expectations of what childhood is have to change,’ he said. ‘When I was a child the expectation was that you would be outside. It’s not a question of turning back the clock, it’s a question of regaining that balance. We almost have to reset what we regard as moderation — moderation is not cutting down from two burgers a day to one, it’s cutting down to two burgers a week.’
Posted by jonjayray at 12:22 AM