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Cycling, walking in nature may improve your mental health

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People who commute — walking or cycling — through natural environments are more likely to develop better mental health than those who commute less, according to a new study.

Natural environments included all public and private outdoor spaces that contain ‘green’ and/or ‘blue’ natural elements such as street trees, forests, city parks and natural parks/reserves and all types of water bodies.

“Mental health and physical inactivity are two of the main public health problems associated with the life in urban environments. Urban design could be a powerful tool to confront these challenges and create healthier cities. One way of doing so would be investing in natural commuting routes for cycling and walking,” said Mark Nieuwenhuijsen from the University of Barcelona.

 

For the study, published in the journal, Environment International, the research team examined nearly 3,600 participants who answered a questionnaire about their commuting habits and their mental health.

The findings showed that respondents commuting through natural environments on a daily basis had on average a 2.74 point higher mental health score compared to those who commuted through natural environments less frequently.

This association was even stronger among people who reported active commuting, the team said.

“From previous experimental studies we knew that physical activity in natural environments can reduce stress, improve mood and mental restoration when compared to the equivalent activity in urban environments,” said first author Wilma Zijlema from the varsity.

“Although this study is the first of its kind to our knowledge and, therefore, more research will be needed, our data show that commuting through these natural spaces alone may also have a positive effect on mental health.”


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Health

Can Garlic Help In Controlling Cholesterol? Our Expert Has The Answer

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High levels of bad cholesterol or LDL cholesterol in your blood can increase risks of heart disease. It is thus important to ensure that your cholesterol levels are under control at all times. Low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL) are the two kinds of cholesterol , where the former is referred to as the bad cholesterol and the latter as good cholesterol. While cholesterol is made in the liver, there are certain foods that can increase cholesterol levels. These foods are primarily those high in saturated and trans fat. Similarly, there are foods that lower your cholesterol levels, and one such food item is garlic.

Garlic is a spice which is popular for its benefits on digestion, high blood pressure and inflammation to name a very few. However, there are some studies which talk about cholesterol improving properties of garlic as well.

WebMD says that garlic may reduce total cholesterol in the body by a few percentage points. This however, may only be for the short term. It further adds that garlic may prolong bleeding and blood clotting time. Thus, intake of garlic should be avoided before surgery or intake of any blood thinning drugs.

 

We ask clinical nutritionist Dr Rupali Datta about garlic and its cholesterol-reducing properties. She says, “Allicin is the active compound in garlic, which may be contributing to lowering cholesterol. However, it is more effective in controlling heart diseases vis a vis blood thinning and its anti-inflammatory properties. There are some studies which have talked about minor effect of garlic on cholesterol,” she says.

Foods that help in lowering cholesterol

1. Legumes:

Legumes are rich in minerals, fibre and protein. Some studies say that including legumes in your diet can lower bad cholesterol in the body.

2. Vegetables:

Healthline mentions that some vegetables contain soluble fibre that can help in reducing cholesterol levels in the body. Vegetables like eggplants, carrots and potatoes can all be included in your diet to keep cholesterol and weight under control. They are good for heart health.

3. Berries and fruits:

Fruits are rich in soluble fibre that help in lowering cholesterol levels in the body. Berries and grapes contain plant compounds that can increase good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol in the body.

4. Almonds and walnuts:

Including nuts in your diet can be good for heart health. Nuts contain monounsaturated fats. Walnuts contain omega 3s and almonds contain L-arginine, which is an amino acid that helps the body make nitric oxide. This helps in regulating blood pressure.

5. Fatty fish:

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and tune are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3s are good for heart health as they reduce inflammation and stroke risk, and increase levels of good cholesterol in the body.

(Dr Rupali Datta is Consultant Nutritionist at Fortis Escorts)

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Health

Most hip and knee replacements ‘last longer than thought’

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Eight out of 10 knee replacements and six out of 10 hip replacements last as long as 25 years, said a large study from the University of Bristol.

This is much longer than believed, the researchers said, and the findings will help patients and surgeons decide when to carry out surgery, BBC reported.

To date, there has been little data on the success of new hips and knees.

 

But this Lancet research looked at 25 years’ worth of operations, involving more than 500,000 people.

Hip and knee replacements are two of the most common forms of surgery in National Health Service (NHS), but doctors often struggle to answer questions from patients on how long the implants will last.

Nearly 200,000 of the operations were performed in 2017 in England and Wales, with most carried out on people between 60 and 80 years old.

Dr. Jonathan Evans, orthopedic registrar, lead study author and research fellow at Bristol Medical School said, “At best, the NHS has only been able to say how long replacements are designed to last, rather than referring to actual evidence from multiple patients’ experiences of joint replacement surgery.

“Given the improvement in technology and techniques in the last 25 years, we expect that hip or knee replacements put in today may last even longer.”

As the aging population grows, and life expectancy rises, this becomes even more important, Evans added.

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Health

Chronic inflammation can lead to memory problems: Study

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Acute inflammation, that results from injury and does not heal or is recurring, might lead to thinking problems, say experts. The report, which has been published in Neurology, further states that psychological stress and nagging infection can also trigger chronic inflammation.

In order to arrive at this result, blood tests on 12,336 men and women who were of the average age of 57, were conducted. These reports were then segregated and given a “inflammation composite score” based on factors like clotting, white blood cell count, and other tests. The cognitive facilities of the participants were also assessed through routine tests of verbal fluency, memory and processing speed. The study has been quoted in The New York Times.

After controlling for factors like age, blood pressure, heart disease, education, and many others, it was deduced that more the number of inflammatory factors, greater the chance of cognitive decline over 20 years of follow-up. Decline in memory seems to be strongly associated with inflammation.

 

“We know that dementia starts earlier than the appearance of symptoms,” Keenan A Walker, lead author and a postdoctoral researcher at Johns Hopkins said. “We’ve shown that levels of inflammation matter for dementia risk. Reducing chronic inflammation involves the same health behaviors that we already know are important for other reasons — regular exercise, healthy diet, avoiding excessive weight gain and so on,” Walker added.

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