What's the buzz

What's the buzz

Consuming cocoa can boost brain function


A daily dose of chocolate could improve the brain function and help keep dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay, a new study has claimed. Researchers found that consuming cocoa every day helped improve mild cognitive impairment – a condition involving memory loss which can progress to dementia or  Alzheimer’s – in elderly patients.

The study involved 90 people aged 70 or older diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment who were split into three groups of 30 and given either a high, medium or low dose of a cocoa drink daily, a American Heart association statement said. The drink contained flavanols – chemicals associated with a decreased dementia risk which are found in a variety of foods, including cocoa products such as dark chocolate.

The participants’ diet was restricted to eliminate other sources of flavanols, such as tea or red wine. 

Their cognitive function was examined using tests of factors including working memory and processing speed.

Researchers found those who consumed high and medium doses daily had significantly better cognitive scores by the end of the eight-week study in a number of categories, including working memory, the statement said.

Those given the higher doses of the flavanol drink improved far more than those given the lowest dose, the study, published in the journal ‘Hypertension’ said.

Fresh water from rivers and rain can intensify hurricanes  

When hurricanes blow over ocean regions swamped by fresh water, the conditions can unexpectedly intensify the storm, according to an analysis of tropical cyclones. 

Although the probability that hurricanes will hit such conditions is small, ranging from 10 to 23 percent, the effect is potentially large: Hurricanes can become 50 per cent more intense, the researchers said.  These results might help improve predictions of a hurricane’s power in certain regions. Such conditions occur where large river systems pour fresh water into the ocean, such as by the Amazon River system, the Ganges River system, or where tropical storms rain considerably, as in the western Pacific Ocean. 

“Sixty percent of the world’s population lives in areas affected by tropical cyclones,” said ocean scientist Karthik Balaguru at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. 

Most hurricanes passing over the ocean lessen in strength as the ocean water cools off due to mixing by the strong winds under the cyclone: this pumps less heat into them. 

“A 50 percent increase in intensity can result in a much larger amount of destruction and death,” said Balaguru. 

Doctors urged to treat lack of exercise as medical condition

Physical inactivity itself should be treated as a medical condition because it is the root cause of many of the common problems that we have, argues a Mayo Clinic physiologist.
 A sedentary lifestyle is a common cause of obesity and excessive body weight and fat in turn are considered catalysts for diabetes, high blood pressure, joint damage and other serious health problems.  Physical inactivity affects the health not only of many obese patients, but also people of normal weight, such as workers with desk jobs, patients immobilized for long periods after injuries or surgery, and women on extended bed rest during pregnancies, among others, said Mayo Clinic physiologist Michael Joyner.

Prolonged lack of exercise can cause the body to become deconditioned, with wide-ranging structural and metabolic changes: the heart rate may rise excessively during physical activity, bones and muscles atrophy, physical endurance wane, and blood volume decline.

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