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healthbriefs


More Sleep Helps Shed Pounds E


njoying more zzz’s is not usually associ- ated with weight loss, but a growing number of epidemiological studies suggest that insufficient sleep may be linked to a greater risk of weight gain. The latest results from a study presented at the 2012 annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior points out that sleep be- havior influences body weight by affecting not only how many calories we consume, but also how much energy we expend. When researchers at Tübingen and Lübeck universities, in Germany, and Up-


psala University, in Sweden, investigated the effect of short-term sleep deprivation on hunger, physical activity and energy levels, they discovered that insufficient sleep increased the participants’ sensations of hunger by raising the level of the “hunger hormone”, ghrelin. The less sleep a person had, the hungrier they felt. After only one night of disrupted sleep, the volunteers moved around less and burned off fewer calories in their resting state than their counterparts that enjoyed a good night’s sleep.


Yoga Reduces Depression in Pregnant Women P


S


MAY IS ASPARAGUS MONTH


ometimes referred to as the aristocrat of vegetables,


asparagus has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years. It was prized by ancient Greeks and Romans for its taste and reputed medicinal qualities, and 19th-century French bridegrooms, believing it was an aphrodisiac, frequently ate several help- ings on the eve of their nuptials. The crop reaches its peak during April and May. Packing a fiber-filled punch of vita-


mins A and C, this princely veggie also delivers significant helpings of folate and rutin, which help to strengthen blood vessels. Its delicate flavor is best pre- served by stir-frying or light steaming.


Source: FruitsAndVeggiesMatter.gov


regnancy hormones are known to cause myriad physical and emotional symptoms, including unexplainable mood swings. The fluctuations are more serious for one in five expectant moms because they also experience major depression. Now, a groundbreaking study by the University of Michigan offers new hope. Pregnant women identified as psychiatrically high-risk that participated in a 10-week mindfulness yoga intervention experienced significant reductions in their depressive symptoms. Mothers-to-be also reported stronger attachment to their babies in the womb.


WORKING OUT HOT FLASHES O


T


THE EXERCISE ADVANTAGE


aking a brisk walk or bike ride may stave off


cognitive decline better than reaching for the dai- ly crossword puzzle, says a new study published in the journal Neurology. Researchers at Scotland’s University of Edinburgh


reviewed the medical records of more than 600 Scots born in 1936 that were given MRI scans at age 73. “People in their 70s that participat-


ne of the most common and uncomfortable symp- toms of menopause may respond positively to a simple, no-cost measure. Health researchers at Penn State report that menopausal women that exercise may experience fewer hot flashes in the 24 hours following physical activity. In this first-time study of objective versus subjective, or self-reported, hot flashes, the Pennsylvania re-


searchers studied 92 menopausal women for 15 days. natural awakenings


ed in more physical exercise, including walking several times a week, had less brain shrinkage and other signs of aging in the brain than those that were less physically active,” says study author Alan J. Gow, Ph.D. Surprisingly, the study showed that participating in mentally and socially stimulating activities, such as visiting family and friends, reading or even learning a new language, did little to ward off the symptoms of an aging brain. Study participants will undergo a second MRI scan at age 76, and researchers plan to compare the two scans to see if the links between exer- cise and better brain health hold up.


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