Trends to Watch, March 2019
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Surprising Way to Clean Baby Pacifiers
When parents suck pacifiers to clean them, their children are less likely to develop allergies or asthma, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “We believe the effect may be due to the transfer of health-promoting microbes from the parent’s mouth,” says study coauthor and allergist Edward Zoratti, MD. Exposure to certain microbes in infancy stimulates development of the immune system.
Vital Brain Nutrients Identified
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have identified top brain nutrients for older people by using unusual techniques. Rather than asking study participants to recall what they ate, which can be unreliable, they tested blood for markers of various nutrients. And rather than giving people mental quizzes or memory tests, scientists used magnetic resonance imaging to evaluate how efficiently participants’ brains were functioning.
In a group of 116 healthy adults between the ages of 65 and 75, the researchers found these nutrients to be especially important for good brain function: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, carotenoids, lycopene, riboflavin, folate, vitamin B, and vitamin D. These appear to work together synergistically, and are all plentiful in a Mediterranean diet full of fish, seeds, nuts, and a variety of different colored vegetables.
Spirulina Enhances Exercise Benefits
Spirulina, a type of blue-green algae, can boost the effects of exercise. In a study of 52 sedentary men who were overweight or obese, researchers tested the effects of a six-week exercise program, with and without spirulina. By itself, exercise reduced body fat and improved cardiovascular fitness, but the benefits were greater with spirulina, and the supplement enabled men to exercise longer. The biggest effect of the supplement was seen in men who were obese. The tested dose of spirulina was 4.5 grams per day.
An average Zumba class burns about 369 calories, according to a study at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The dance-style fitness classes are popular as a fun way to exercise to music, but they also fulfill the key elements of effective cardiovascular exercise. Because Zumba includes high- and low-intensity movement, the study found, it works much like structured interval training with high-intensity spurts, which has been proven to be more effective than jogging or other exercise at a steady pace. And, researchers were surprised to find that regardless of fitness level, everyone in a Zumba class works at a level that improves cardiovascular health.