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Health Scan

A snapshot of the current thinking in medicine, fitness and lifestyle trends that impact your life.

health and fitness Updated: Jan 19, 2013 23:54 IST

A snapshot of the current thinking in medicine, fitness and lifestyle trends that impact your life.

Berries cut heart attack risk in women
Women who ate at least three servings of blueberries and strawberries per week had fewer heart attacks. The diet reduces the risk by as much as one-third. Blueberries and strawberries contain high levels of heart-protecting compounds called dietary flavonoids, which are also found in grapes, blackberries, eggplant, among others. A specific sub-class of flavonoids, called anthocyanins, dilate arteries and counter the build-up of plaque that impede blood.

Meditation lowers chronic inflammation
People suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma - in which psychological stress plays a major role - benefit from meditation. Mindfulness-based stress reduction, a form of meditation originally designed for patients with chronic pain, consists of continuously focusing attention on the breath, bodily sensations and mental content while seated, walking or practicing yoga. Such behavioural interventions reduce emotional reactivity and also benefit people with chronic inflammatory conditions. Other pluses are that meditation is no-cost, complements standards treatment and can be practiced easily.

Walking cuts chance of early death in older people
A short walk just four times a week can reduce the risk of early death in older people by a staggering 40%. According to a recent study, each walk only needs to be a 15-minute stroll in the open air to give older people a better chance of extending their life by a few years.

Walking is an easier form of exercise for older people to take up but it also has the effect of holding back heart disease, stroke and other likely causes of death. The fresh air and exercise makes the immune system robust, strengthens bones and lowers obesity. It also improves flexibility and balance, which in turn reduces risk of injuries from falls.

Coffee adds to incontinence
Men who have about two cups of coffee a day, or the equivalent amount of caffeine, are more likely to have urinary incontinence or a 'leaky bladder' than men who drink less or none at all, report US researchers in The Journal of Urology.

While several studies have already established a link between caffeine intake and leaky bladder in women, the evidence for such a link in men is limited. For their study, the researchers used national survey results about food and drink intake of over 5,000 American men aged 20 and over. The study concluded that people having problems with urinary incontinence should cut back on their caffeine intake.

Twitter helps you shed weight
People who use the social networking website Twitter are more likely to lose weight than those who don't. Apart from dieters encouraging each other along the way with motivational posts, the study found that the more status updates people read relating to healthy eating and exercise, the more weight they were likely to lose.

The study, published in the journal Translational Behavioral Medicine, found that people struggling with their weight are able to get advice and support from others on Twitter as they endeavour to beat the bulge. On average, for every 10 Twitter updates read, they lost on average 0.5% of their body weight.