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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: Jul 24, 2011 01:07 IST

Antioxidants make sperm healthy
Antioxidant-fuelled sperm swim faster. Men who consume antioxidant-rich foods like carrots, sweet potatoes and mangos have healthier sperm, reports the journal Ecology Letters. The best defence against sperm damage is the combination of vitamin E and beta-carotene, it says. This means that eating orange- and yellow-coloured foods such as carrots, apricots, pumpkin and mangos, along with vitamin E-rich almonds, soybean oil and broccoli maintain healthy sperm in men.

The Cochrane Library had reported earlier this year that men with low counts or sperm mobility who took oral antioxidants like vitamin E, zinc and magnesium improved their chances of fatherhood.

Painkillers can control dementia symptoms
Simple painkillers work as well as anti-psychotic drugs to cut aggression and agitation in dementia patients. Agitation, a common dementia symptom, is often treated with antipsychotic sedatives that can worsen symptoms and increase the risk of stroke or death.

The British and Norwegian study, published in British Medical Journal, said that the behaviour can also be caused by pain, which patients were unable to express in other ways. They found that giving painkillers with every meal for eight weeks reduced agitation symptoms by 17%, which is greater improvement than treatment using anti-psychotics. If the pain is properly managed, the study argues, doctors could reduce the number of prescriptions for anti-psychotic drugs.

Soy protein, low fat dairy to lower blood pressure
Replacing a portion of carbohydrates in your diet with soy protein or low-fat dairy can help decrease blood pressure in hypertensive people, a new study suggests. A study of people with mild hypertension on three regimens of daily supplements containing soy protein, milk protein, and complex carbohydrates showed that those on soy and milk protein registered a drop in their systolic blood pressure by about two points.

Decreases in blood pressure were modest in individuals, but at a population level, it would lower annual deaths from heart disease and stroke by 6%.

Raising good cholesterol to control diabetes
A drug used to raise heart-protecting good cholesterol also helps control blood sugar in diabetics who are on cholesterol-lowering drugs. Researchers stumbled on this finding while analysing data from a clinical trial on the drug torcetrapib, a cholesterol ester transfer protein inhibitor that raises levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDLs, or 'good' cholesterol), reports the Journal of the American Heart Association.