Category Archives: Nutrition and Fitness

How to Boost the Immune System in Times of Global Epidemic

There have now been over 290 cases of confirmed novel coronavirus in the United States and a total of 14 deaths related to the disease. The number of infected individuals outside of mainland China – the epicenter of the virus – is quickly rising and increasingly becoming a cause of global public health concern. As the epidemic continues to spread worldwide with no current solution, worries of a pandemic are profound; hand sanitizer and facial mask supplies are being depleted by anxious individuals hoping to protect themselves from exposure in this still uncontrolled situation.

External protection including virus protection masks may have the opposite of their intended effect, increasing the risk of infection instead. Frequent and proper hand-washing is consistently proving to be the most effective method of preventing the disease, while reducing exposure to COVID-19 is imperative – as is fortifying the body’s natural defense system.

Protecting the Immune System

With the number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases escalating, now is the time to focus on boosting the immune system to naturally protect the body from the evolving epidemic and effectively fight off the infection.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle – by following good-health guidelines – is vital to naturally keep the immune system strong and functioning at its optimal capacity. Individuals hoping to protect their immune system or boost its strength should employ healthy living strategies such as: regular exercise, weight management, conscious nutritional choices, limited alcohol consumption, and adequate sleep patterns. Further, it is important to minimize stress levels as cortisol overproduction can impair immune functioning; ensuring a healthy work-life balance, taking breaks when necessary, and incorporating meditation along with other stress-reduction techniques can help support both physical and emotional wellbeing.

Boosting Immunity

While there are no quick tips to immediately boost the health of the immune system, there are several practices that can help promote optimal immune functioning over time. For example, eating foods rich in antioxidants – such as berries, garlic, and onions – can reduce the risk of virus infection as well as consuming anti-inflammatory foods on a daily basis – such as fresh vegetables and fruits – which lower body-wide inflammation, supporting systemic functions, and combating age-related chronic diseases.

Ensuring quality sleeping patterns is essential to rebuilding a struggling immune system as is the avoidance of toxins. Minimizing exposure to chlorinated drinking water, pesticides, aromatic hydrocarbons, heavy metals, pollution, and food additives can help protect against the negative effects of common toxins on the body’s immunity.

Due to its systemic nature, the immune system is challenging to boost with a singular solution. Therefore, following a holistic, healthy lifestyle, avoiding noxious elements, and reducing stress levels can have a profound impact on immune functioning. Although none of these solutions are “quick-fixes” to staying healthy in the face of a global epidemic, improving current lifestyle habits can greatly boost both physical and mental long-term health, making the body less susceptible to viruses and diseases while minimizing their severity if they do occur.

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Can a Healthy Lifestyle Reduce Genetic Risk for Dementia?

A combination of genetic and lifestyle factors can play a role in determining an individual’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Although most cases occur in older adults in whom multiple genes influence overall risk, high levels of LDL cholesterol, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and other health factors can further elevate risk. While some risk factors may be difficult to mitigate, others are easily modifiable – for example, weight and lipid management through a combination of lifestyle changes.

A growing body of evidence suggests that individuals who lead a healthy lifestyle – avoid smoking tobacco, engage in regular physical activity, and consume a health diet – have a lower risk of developing dementia. Previous research has investigated the impact of lifestyle factors on many other health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, however, the extent to which these variables can influence dementia risk is unknown. A new study published online in JAMA, uses data from a large population-based cohort to investigate whether adherence to a healthy lifestyle can offset existing genetic risk for dementia.

Association of Lifestyle Habits with Dementia Risk

Led by Ilianna Lourida, PhD from the University of Exeter Medical School, a team of researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study of nearly 200,000 European adults aged 60 and above to investigate whether a healthy lifestyle is associated with a reduced risk of dementia – regardless of genetic factors. At baseline, none of the participants had cognitive impairment or dementia. The main outcome was the incidence of all-cause dementia identified through hospital records.

Researchers calculated a polygenic risk score comprised of common genetic variants linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia risk, as well as a weighted healthy lifestyle score – which included smoking status, physical activity levels, dietary patterns, and alcohol consumption.

Healthy Lifestyle May Reduce Dementia Incidence

A total of 196,383 participants with a mean age of 64.1 were followed for a median of 8 years, during which there were 1,769 cases of incident all-cause dementia. Overall, over 68% of the cohort had followed a healthy lifestyle, 23.6% followed an intermediate lifestyle, and 8.2% followed an unfavorable lifestyle. Researchers found that 20% of individuals had high polygenic risk scores, 60% had intermediate-risk scores, and 20% had low-risk scores.

Of those with a high genetic risk, 1.23% developed dementia, compared with 0.63% of participants with low genetic risk. Meanwhile, participants with both a high genetic risk and unfavorable lifestyle developed dementia at a rate of 1.78% compared with 0.56% of participants with low genetic risk and a favorable lifestyle. Researchers found no significant interaction between genetic risk and lifestyle factors. Among individuals with high genetic risk, 1.13% of those leading a healthy lifestyle developed dementia, in comparison with the 1.78% with unfavorable lifestyle.

Risk Reduction

Dr. Lourida and her team found that an unfavorable lifestyle coupled with high genetic risk was significantly associated with a higher risk for developing dementia in older adults without pre-existing cognitive impairment. Meanwhile, a healthy lifestyle was associated with a lower dementia risk even among participants with a high genetic risk. While there was no significant interaction between genetic risk and a healthy lifestyle, a favorable lifestyle was associated with reduced dementia risk regardless of genetic factors.

Overall, the authors found an absolute risk reduction for dementia among the high genetic risk group of 0.65% associated with leading a favorable lifestyle.

The study’s authors acknowledged the trial’s limitations. Firstly, the lifestyle score used in calculations was not independently validated to indicate a high-risk lifestyle outside of trial conditions. Furthermore, there was a possibility of unmeasured confounding and reverse causation. In addition, lifestyle factors were self-reported and some cases of dementia might not have been recorded in medical records or death registers. Nonetheless, the study expands on current knowledge of neurodegenerative diseases and their connection to lifestyle choices.

“This risk reduction implies that, if lifestyle is causal, 1 case of dementia would be prevented for each 121 individuals per 10 years with high genetic risk who improved their lifestyle from unfavorable to favorable,” authors wrote. Aside from the many mental and physical health benefits associated with leading a health-conscious lifestyle, doing so may also contribute to lowering dementia risk by reducing oxidative damage, having anti-thrombotic and anti-inflammatory effects as well as increasing cerebral blood flow. Thus, it is important to encourage patients to follow a favorable lifestyle and support lifestyle interventions when necessary, especially in cases of high genetic risk.

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Emerging Topics You Can’t Miss at the 27th Annual World Congress

With burgeoning research in the field of longevity and anti-aging medicine, as well as a growing understanding of disease pathophysiology, integrative medicine has witnessed many recent developments; from advances in sirtuin therapy to novel combinatorial regenerative applications of stem cells, the field continues to evolve at lightning speed. Staying clinically current and abreast of all of the latest education is imperative for clinicians looking to maintain an advantage and deliver optimal patient care. At the largest event in Anti-Aging Medicine, the 27th Annual World Congress, experts and industry leaders will delve into the most recent clinical data, newly discovered therapies, and emerging scientific advances. Providing a comprehensive anti-aging industry update, the three-day event will focus on delivering world-class education opportunities for physicians leading the mission to redefine modern medicine.

From the latest cannabidiol guidelines to new updates in peptide and hormone therapy strategies, attendees will have the opportunity to explore the latest topics in integrative medicine through an expertly curated agenda covering the latest developments within the field.  Attendees of the 27th Annual World Congress will experience a combination of unique programming, a diverse audience of thousands of fellow medical professionals, and a collaborative learning environment through which to learn how to implement the latest education into practice and help enhance the landscape of modern medicine.

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