Our New Years Resolution Survey for 2015

Here in the Chums office we’ve all been making our New Years Resolutions for 2015, and we started to wonder whether there would be any difference between the older and younger generations in the sort of resolutions they make. As well as this, we figured that one group would be more likely to stick to their resolutions for longer than the other – but which one? We conducted a survey of 1,000 people from different age ranges and the findings are below.

Chums New Years resolutions study 2015

December’s Health Tips


Image Credit: Sara Marlowe

Spice up your life this Christmas – herbs and spices enhance heart health as well as flavour

A well-stocked spice rack could improve more than just the quality of your cooking, says new research from the US, which highlights the impact of various spices on cardiovascular health.

Rich in antioxidants, spices and herbs can alter levels of triglycerides in the body. These usually rise after eating a high-fat meal, which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. But if a special high-antioxidant spice blend is incorporated into the meal, triglyceride levels may be reduced by as much as 30%.

Experts recruited six overweight men aged 30 to 65 years, took blood samples and split them into two groups. Half ate a meal of a dessert biscuit, coconut chicken and cheese bread. The others had the same meal with an added spice blend of black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, garlic powder, ginger, oregano, paprika, rosemary, and turmeric.

Blood samples were taken after the meal and every 30 minutes until eight samples were collected.

Cholesterol levels and glucose levels were not affected by the spice blend. But insulin and triglyceride levels were, and antioxidant activity in the blood increased by 13%.

The team looked at other research papers that focused on the effects that spice blends, cinnamon and garlic have on cardiovascular disease risk.

Cinnamon was shown to help people with diabetes by reducing cholesterol and other blood fats, but it did not seem to have an effect on people without diabetes.

The garlic studies showed there was an 8% decrease in total cholesterol with garlic consumption, and it was associated with a 38% decrease in risk of heart problems in 50-year-olds. The researchers comment:

“We live in a world where people consume too many calories every day. Adding high-antioxidant spices might be a way to reduce calories without sacrificing taste.”

Source: Jump Start magazine


Mentally taxing jobs may protect memory in later life


Image Credit: Vanessa Pike-Russell

‘It’s a busy time for Santa Claus, who would certainly score highly on memory and thinking tests.’

People with complex jobs may end up having better memory in old age. A study of 1,066 Scottish 70-year-olds found that those who had had jobs that involved dealing with data or mentoring staff scored better on memory and thinking tests than those who had done less mentally intense jobs.

Could it be that those with complex jobs have higher thinking abilities in the first place? The researchers took into account the scores they had achieved in the Scottish Mental Survey in 1947, when they were 11 years old.

“Factoring in people’s IQ at age 11 explained about 50% of the variance in thinking abilities in later life, but it did not account for all of the difference,” explains Dr Alan Gow who is involved in the study. “That is, while it is true that people who have higher cognitive abilities are more likely to get more complex jobs, there still seems to be a small advantage gained from these complex jobs for later thinking skills.

“Our findings have helped to identify the kinds of job demands that preserve memory and thinking later on.”

Source: Memory in Mind magazine


Run… to slow down the ageing process as well as shift those Christmas pounds!

Running Shoes

Image Credit: Robert S Donovan

Running several times a week when you’re older can allow you to walk as efficiently as those in their twenties, says exciting research published in PLOS ONE.

“The bottom line is that running keeps you younger, at least in terms of energy efficiency,” enthuses Prof Rodger Kram, who is involved in the work.

A total of 30 healthy people aged on average 69 years (15 males and 15 females) who either regularly ran or walked for exercise took part. They had all been walking or running at least three times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes per workout for at least six months.

The volunteers were asked to walk on a treadmill at three speeds (1.6mph, 2.8mph and 3.9mph while their oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production were recorded. Data from younger and older sedentary adults was also recorded.

Older people who walked for exercise were found to spend the same amount of energy walking as older, sedentary adults, and use up to 22% more energy walking than younger people. But those who ran for exercise were found to walk as efficiently as those who were much younger.

The authors believe that mitochondria are involved as these tiny structures make energy that powers our muscle fibres. People who exercise regularly tend to have more mitochondria in their cells. Owen Beck, also involved in the study comments:

“The take-home message of the study is that consistently running for exercise seems to slow down the aging process and allows older individuals to move more easily, improving their independence and quality of life.”

Source: Arthritis Digest magazine


Time to leave town? City living changes the stress response

Urban upbringing alters the activity of one of the body’s major stress response systems researchers report in Psychosomatic Medicine. City living is known to have a significant impact on mental health for some people, but it isn’t clear why.

A big part of the body’s stress system is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) – it controls levels of cortisol and other important stress hormones.

So experts did three experiments involving 248 people in which they measured the changes in cortisol in response to different stress tasks.

Blood pressure was not affected by urban upbringing. And current city living was not associated with any changes in the stress response. But urban upbringing was associated with raised cortisol responses to acute stress.

“Our findings suggest that urban upbringing changes the (re)activity of the HPA axis,” the researchers say. “Given that changes in HPA axis regulation have been associated with several psychiatric disorders, this may represent a mechanism that contributes to the increased risk for psychopathology in urban populations.”

Source: Memory in Mind magazine