Train for Your Brain

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Give Your Neurons a Workout
Give Your Neurons a Workout

Physical activity reduces risk for cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Need another reason to exercise?  Turns out it’s a workout for your brain as well.

Two recent studies looked at exercise and mild cognitive impairment (MCI).  MCI typically involves memory impairment, but can also affect language, attention, reasoning, judgment, reading and writing.

In the first study participants who reported moderate exercise during midlife or later life were less likely to have MCI.   The authors suggest this may be due to production of nerve-protecting compounds, greater blood flow to the brain or other neuronal and cardiovascular benefits.  Although people who are more physically active could also “show the same type of discipline in dietary habits, accident prevention…compliance with medical care and similar health-promoting behaviors.”

The second study followed 29 participants (average age 70) with MCI.  Those randomly assigned to an exercise group, completed 4 days per week of 45 to 60 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity.  The control group did stretching exercises, but maintained low heart rates.

The vigorous exercisers showed improved cognitive function compared to the control group.  The authors point out that this would be a cost-effective practice to improve cognitive performance without the adverse effects of many drug therapies.

Seemingly simple, exercising consistently is difficult for many Americans.  If you’re looking for ideas, AICR offers tips on starting and maintaining a physical activity program.

If you’re already a regular exerciser, how do you manage to fit it in?  Let us know.


    Green Tea May Help Prevent Lung Cancer

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    Over the years, a lot of research has looked at the health benefits of green tea — with varying findings. The latest green tea study came out today, and it involves lung cancer. A study of over 500 Taiwanese people suggests that at least one cup of green tea per day may lower the risk of lung cancer, particularly for smokers.Tee Brennessel - tea nettle 02

    The study was presented at a major conference on lung cancer; you can read a report on it here.

    Among smokers and people who never smoked, the more green tea people drank, the more protection was seen. And the protection was greatest among people carrying specific genes.

    Of course, the best way to prevent lung cancer  — and many other health issues — is to stop smoking. With New Year Resolutions, there’s no time like now. And this is only one study; scientists say more research is needed. But green tea is delicious on a cold winter’s day, and if you want more reasons to enjoy tea — of any color — this month’s AICR eNews looks at other possible health benefits of tea.


      Go Stir(-Fry) Crazy

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      New American Plate One-Pot MealsYou’ll find proof that a stir-fry keeps vegetables tasty and crisp in this week’s AICR Health-e-Recipe.

      Brown Rice Pilaf with Squash and Chicken is low in calories, cooks in minutes and fills you up with hearty brown rice, cancer-fighting vegetables and healthy protein. Wondering about the egg? A traditional ingredient in high-fat fried rice, it binds this dish into a savory treat that’s lower in fat than restaurant versions. You can find more easy, one-pot recipes in our free brochure.

      Click here to receive free weekly Health-e-Recipes emailed to you from AICR’s Test Kitchen.