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healthbriefs


Sprinkle Cinnamon to Avert Alzheimer’s C


innamon is known as an excellent antioxidant that improves fasting blood sugar levels and prevents heart disease. Now new research offers yet another benefit and reason to add this potent spice to our daily diet. Researchers at the University of California,


Santa Barbara, have confirmed that cinnamon helps protect against Alzheimer’s disease. They found that the cinnamon compounds cinnamaldehyde and epicat- echin help stop the formation of “tangles” of tau protein in the brain, hallmarks of the memory-robbing neurodegenerative disease. The study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, says these powerful antioxidants that give cinnamon its potent flavor and scent defend mental function in a unique way. “Take, for example, sunburn, a form of oxidative damage,” explains Roshni Graves, of the university’s Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. “If you wore a hat, you could protect your face and head from oxidation. In a sense, this cinnamaldehyde is like a cap,” protecting against tau proteins.


The findings suggest that sufficient cinnamon consumption might stop the progression of Alzheimer’s or even prevent it.


Cocoa Calms Inflammation F


T


MEDITATION HELPS HEAL TRAUMATIZED VETERANS


ranscendental Meditation (TM) has a dramatic healing effect on people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and can also result in lower blood pressure, according to two new studies.


TM—a technique to avoid dis- tracting thoughts, decrease stress and promote a state of relaxed aware- ness—reduced PTSD symptoms in combat veterans by as much as 50 percent in just eight weeks, according to a study from Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C., published in the journal Military Medicine. The veterans also reported decreased depression and improved quality of life, with a greater ability to come back to their civilian lives after returning from duty. Vietnam War vets randomly


ew can say no to a cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter’s night. “Enjoy!” say Penn State


researchers. They have found that a little bit of cocoa may be a powerful diet aid in helping to control inflammation and ameliorate re- lated diseases, including diabetes. Numerous current studies link obesity to inflammation in the body.


Cocoa, although a common ingredient of chocolate, by itself has low-calorie, low- fat and high-fiber content. The researchers fed laboratory mice the human equivalent of 10 tablespoons of cocoa powder—about four or five cups of hot cocoa—along with a high-fat diet for 10 weeks. The control group ate the same diet without the cocoa. Lead researcher Joshua Lambert, Penn State associate professor of food science, says the study results surprised the team,


which did not expect the “dramatic reduction of inflammation and fatty liver disease” associated with obesity. Although the animals lost no weight, the cocoa powder supplement reduced liver triglycerides by 32 percent and plasma insulin levels by 27 percent, indicating it might be a powerful obesity-fighting tool. But there is a catch: Adding sugar, an inflammatory substance in itself, to healthy cocoa will likely neutralize the benefits. Try stevia as a sweetener in- stead; it’s been used for decades to lower blood sugar.


10 Hudson County NAHudson.com


assigned to TM sessions at a Denver Veterans Center also experienced greater reductions in alcohol usage, insomnia and depression than those in conven- tional counseling. At the conclusion of a landmark three-month study, 70 percent of the meditating veterans felt they no longer required the services of the center. A separate American Heart


Association report on the general U.S. population showed that the practice of TM generally reduced systolic blood pressure in subjects by five points and diastolic by three points, enough to put many of them into normal range. Previ- ous clinical trials have shown that lower blood pressure through TM practice is associated with significantly lower rates of death, heart attack and stroke. TM is usually


practiced for 15 to 20 minutes twice a day by sitting comfortably and focusing on an indi- vidually selected word or series of words.


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