Topic 2

  1. Is an Oreo Cookie Addictive?

    The real reason you love Oreos

    Some unhealthy snacks taste so good they're almost addictive.

    And in some cases, you can take the "almost" out of the equation -- because new research shows that some junk foods really might be addictive, especially an Oreo cookie.

    You know the Oreo cookie. They've been around for 100 years now, and for 100 years people have pulled them apart, eaten the creamy white filling and then crunched away on the chocolate cookies... before quickly reaching for another.

    When that happens, it's not just because you're hungry for more cookies. It's because the Oreo  cookie itself is igniting the pleasure centers of your brain in much the same way as addictive drugs like cocaine, according to the new study on rats.

    In one experiment, rats were trained to get rice cakes from one side of a maze and Oreo cookies from the other. Then, they were set loose and allowed to pick which side they would go to for food.

    Do I need to tell you which one they picked?

    In a second experiment, another set of rats was injected with saline at one end of the maze and addictive drugs such as cocaine and morphine at the other. Once again, they were set loose and allowed to choose.

    They picked the addictive drugs, of course. In fact, the rats on cocaine and the rats on Oreos behaved in remarkably similar ways.

    "I haven't touched an Oreo since doing this experiment," researcher Joseph Schroeder was quoted as saying.

    I don't blame him... but it's not just for the Oreo cookie. We know from other studies that junk foods in general and sugary foods in particular can activate the pleasure centers of the brain in the same way as addictive drugs.

    Yes, "junk-food junkie" isn't just a figure of speech. It's a real addiction.

    The best way to kick your own snack habit is to go cold turkey. Don't buy the junk, don't keep it in your home and you won't be tempted by it.

    Instead, try healthier snacks including fresh fruits and even chocolate. Chocolate can actually help protect your heart and brain when eaten in moderation. Just be sure you stick to real chocolate -- ideally the dark variety -- and not chocolate-flavored cookies with a creamy white filling.

  2. Signs of high blood sugar harm memory

    Signs of High blood sugar harms memory

    If you don't have diabetes, it's pretty easy to ignore your blood sugar levels. After all, even without diabetes, you've probably got enough other health concerns to worry about, right?

    Well, ignore those numbers at your own risk -- because signs of high blood sugar can damage your brain, harm your memory and set you up for dementia, and not just in the long term.

    It could be hurting you right now, as new research finds older adults with even slightly elevated blood sugar levels do far worse on memory tests than older adults with normal blood sugar levels.

    The study even shows why: As your blood sugar levels rise, even just a little nit, your hippocampus can shrink -- and that's the part of the brain you need for memory and learning.

    What's most alarming of all is that none of the 141 older adults in the study were diabetic. They weren't even pre-diabetic. They weren't heavy drinkers, they weren't overweight and they weren't suffering from any overt signs of memory loss or cognitive decline.

    They were, by most mainstream measures, healthy -- with some of them at the high end of the "normal" range, or just beyond it, for blood sugar.

    Clearly, it's time to stop considering those levels to be normal or healthy, and this study isn't the only reason why. Other studies have also shown how even slight bumps or signs of  high blood sugar can set you up for memory loss and dementia.

    And a growing body of evidence shows that blood sugar plays a central role in your overall health and longevity -- and signs of high blood sugar can cause serious damage even at levels not high enough to be considered diabetes or pre-diabetes.

    Mainstream guidelines say to keep your total blood sugar below 100, but my guidelines are a little stricter. Aim for 90 or less.

  3. Everyday exercise tips can save your life

    Chores and other activities can protect your heart and even ward off death.
  4. Cut your risk of death by 30 percent

    A diet rich in the polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables can slash your risk of an early death by nearly a third.
  5. Best ways to improve memory

    Giving your brain a workout can improve your memory and cut your risk of dementia.
  6. Oral bacteria one of the causes of dementia

    The same germs responsible for gum disease could play a role in dementia and Alzheimer's disease, according to new research.
  7. Too much sleep could kill you

    Everyone knows missing sleep is unhealthy. But most people don't realize that too much sleep could be just as bad, and maybe worse.
  8. Flu shots don’t work for flu prevention

    The government's own numbers prove that flu shots are barely effective, if at all.
  9. Fruits and veggies can help your heart and mood

    Studies find the more fruits and vegetables you eat the lower your heart risk and the happier you're likely to be.
  10. Magnesium benefits reduce disease risk

    Essential mineral magnesium could reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by 50 percent and your colon cancer risk by 11 percent or more.
  11. Essential fatty acids cause telomeres to grow

    The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can stop one of the key markers of aging on the cellular level.
  12. Too much body fat = too much risk

    Body fat is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke and heart disease -- even if you maintain a normal weight and BMI.
  13. Beat depression with the benefits of acupuncture

    Acupuncture can work against depression as well as counseling and perhaps even better than meds, according to the latest research.
  14. Exercise beats drugs for heart & stroke patients

    Exercise is as good as or even better than drugs for patients fighting stroke, heart attack and heart disease, according to new research.
  15. Losing weight can ease signs of sleep apnea

    Weight loss is the single best treatment for sleep apnea, according to new research.
  16. Side effects of antidepressants cause diabetes

    Common antidepressants used by millions can increase your risk of diabetes, according to new research.
  17. Staying positive can help fight heart disease

    A positive outlook can help you to win the battle against heart disease, according to the latest research.
  18. Stop limited mobility in seniors

    Two simple questions can predict physical decline in seniors -- but asking them now can help you take action to prevent that decline.
  19. Vitamin D plus grapes can boost immune system function

    A combination of vitamin D and the resveratrol found in red grapes can boost a critical immune system gene.
  20. Sugary drinks raise gout risk

    Drinking soda can increase the risk of gout -- even in people who have a gene that protects them from the disease.

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