Health scan
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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: May 11, 2013 23:15 IST

Pets do it! So own one
Owning a pet may help to decrease a person’s risk of suffering from heart disease and is linked with lower levels of obesity, blood pressure and cholesterol, said a scientific statement issued by the American Heart Association (AHA).

“Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is probably associated with a decreased risk of heart disease,” said Glenn N. Levine, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

A study of more than 5,200 adults, cited by the AHA, showed dog owners were more physically active than non-owners because they walk their pets.

Research has shown that the loyalty and love pets display can reduce stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness in their owners and increase their sense of well-being and self-esteem. Other research has revealed the calming effects of pets, which are used in animal-assisted therapy programmes.

Clenching fists boosts your memory
Clenching your fist could be enough to help you get a grip on your memory. Balling up the right hand and squeezing it tightly actually makes it easier to memorise lists, suggests a new research.

Later, when it is time to retrieve the information, it is the left hand that should be clenched. Researchers believe that the movement of clenching the right fist activates a brain region that is involved in storing memories, while squeezing the left hand triggers an area that is key to retrieving information.

The American researchers suggest those who are short of a pen and paper should try the trick when attempting to commit a shopping list or phone number to memory.

Dark chocolate, a calming tool
Here is a solution to keep your temper in check — bite into a piece of dark chocolate regularly. Polyphenols found in it increase the feeling of calmness and contentedness.

A known mood enhancer, polyphenol is found naturally in plants and is a basic component of the human diet.

It is known to reduce oxidative stress which is associated with many diseases, and it is also known to have beneficial psychological effects. Not necessarily it has to be in solid form, a rich cocoa drink once in a day can also be equally beneficial.

Eat peppers to lower Parkinson’s risk
Eating peppers (green, yellow and red capsicum and chillies) twice a week could help reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by up to a third. Scientists found individuals who ate foods containing an edible form of nicotine, which also includes tomatoes, potatoes and aubergines, gained a degree of protection against the condition.

The research adds to evidence linking a reduced risk of the disease with smoking and the use of nicotine patches. Vegetable consumption in general was not found to affect Parkinson’s risk.

Herbal medicines are often unsafe, says report
Herbal supplements aimed at improving men’s sexual abilities often contain the active ingredients in erectile dysfunction pills such as Viagra, report researchers in Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Some of these over-the-counter herbal remedies contained more of the ingredient than is allowed.

Although 57 of the 58 products claimed to be “all natural,” 81% contained the tadalafil or sildenafil (marketed as Cialis and Viagra in the US, respectively) or similar ingredients that are not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The products also had labelling problems, like expiration dates or lot numbers were missing or manufacturers could not be identified.

First Published: May 11, 2013 23:13 IST