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Health Scan

health-and-fitness Updated: Oct 27, 2012 22:30 IST

Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

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

Eating cheese may harm a man's fertility
Young men who eat more than three slices of cheese a day may be risking their chances of becoming father because even in small amounts, full-fat dairy food dramatically impairs fertility in men.

The sperm quality was found to be 25% poorer in people who had more than three portions a day compared to those who had less. One portion includes 28gm of cheese, a teaspoon of cream, a scoop of ice cream or glass of full-fat milk. Female hormones found naturally in milk could be interfering with men's ability to reproduce, say researchers, or it could be impaired by pesticides which find their way in to dairy products.

Exercise protects your brain
The brains of older people who exercised regularly showed less shrinkage and damage over three years than those who did not, found a European study. Greater brain shrinkage is linked to problems with memory and thinking and these findings suggest that exercise is one way of maintaining a healthy brain, both in terms of size and reducing damage.

Working out to keep fit is also more effective at protecting the brain than cognitive challenges such as games and puzzles, reported the journal Neurology. Physical activity on a scale from "moving only in connection with necessary (household) chores" to "keep-fit/heavy exercise or competitive sport several times per week."

Scientists recommend weight-lifting, walking and balance exercises, as those who used weights showed the most improvement.

Skipping breakfast makes junk food appealing
Skipping breakfast makes fatty, high calorie foods appear far more attractive later in the day, making people who skip the morning meal more likely to gorge on unhealthy food. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brain showed that skipping breakfastcreated a bias in the brain in favour of high calorie foods making people eat more fattening food at lunch. Nutrition experts say breakfast is known to take the edge off appetite. However, researchers were curious about what happened inside the brain to alter the food people choose to eat.

Insomnia can make you gain wait
Even partial lack of sleep can make you gain weight, reports the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Sleep deprivation often results from lifestyle factors such as work-related stress, prolonged light, television or computer exposure, though at times it can be caused by medical conditions such as insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea. Chronic lack of sleep leads to certain hormonal imbalances inside the body that can trigger weight gain. The hormones include ghrelin, leptin, insulin, glucose, and cortisol.

Most weight-loss plans include lifestyle changes focusing on diet and exercise, but very few focus on altering sleep behaviours to help manage weight. One in four people sleep fewer than six hours a night.

Cellphone users at higher risk of infections
Cellphones typically carry as many germs as the handle of a bathroom door. It puts you at a greater risk of various diseases as the device acts as dangerous breeding ground for bacteria.

A combination of a cellphone's bacteria-loving warmth and close proximity to the ears, nose and mouth means people are exposing themselves to germs that are harmful to their health.

Common illness that can be caught include the flu, diarrhoea and eye infections. The type of germs found on your cellphone can also be found on other everyday devices but the risks are greater from cellphone usage.