ISLAMABAD – Children who regularly drink milk are physically fitter in old age, according to new research.

Researchers from Bristol University found that elderly people who a milk started a milk drinking habit as a child were able to walk faster and were much less likely to suffer problems with balance. About one glass of milk a day in childhood was linked to a 5 percent faster walking time and 25 percent lesser chance of poor balance in older age, the study found.

The team of British researchers used historical diet records from two large studies to assess the childhood habits of more than 1,500 men ages 62-86. They measured the impact of diet, specifically milk, protein, calcium and fat intake, on current performance and mobility in follow-up.

Elderly participants were put through a series of activities, including walking, get-up-and-go, and balance tests. Childhood calcium, protein and milk intake were all associated with advantages in mobility later in life.

The researchers also found that childhood milk drinkers were also likely to be adult milk drinkers, emphasizing the benefits of establishing lifelong healthy habits.

Among the many health habits to begin at a young age, experts recognize the importance of beginning the day with breakfast.

Babies who eat fish `lower risk of asthma`

Babies who are made to eat fish between the age of six and 12 months may have a lower risk of developing asthma, a new study has found. But eating fish outside of this window may not have the same effect, the Dutch authors of the study said.

Those who ate fish before six months or after their first birthdays did not seem to gain the same protective effect against symptoms such as wheezing, the Daily Mail reported. The results, based on more than 7,000 children in the Netherlands, support one theory that early exposure to certain fatty acids in fish protects against the development of asthma.

Concern over seafood allergies prompts some parents and doctors to delay introducing fish into babies’ diets. However, research has found that a mother’s fish consumption during pregnancy, or the baby’s consumption of it early on, may lower the risk of asthma.

Using health and diet information from a group of 7,210 children born between 2002 and 2006 in Rotterdam, the researchers led by Jessica Kiefte-de Jong, of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, found that 1,281 children ate fish in their first six months of life, 5,498 first ate fish in the next six months, and 431 did not eat fish until after age one.

The researchers then looked at health records for when the children were about four years old, and how many parents reported that their children were wheezing or short of breath.

Between 40 percent and 45 per cent of parents of children who did not eat fish until after their first birthdays said their children wheezed, compared to 30 percent of children who first ate fish when they were between six and 12 months old.

That, according to the researchers, works out to about a 36 percent decreased risk of wheezing for the children who first had fish between the ages of six months and one year. Children who first had fish before six months of age were at similar risk to those who were introduced to it after their first birthdays.

Meditation can stave off cold, flu: Study

Meditation can be extremely effective at preventing winter ailments like cold and flu, according to a new research. Adults who meditated or did moderately intense exercise, such as a brisk walk, for eight weeks suffered fewer colds than those who did nothing, according to a study from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Previous research has found that mindfulness meditation may improve mood, decrease stress, and boost immune function. Some of the earliest references to meditation are found in the Hindu Vedas. Around the 6th to 5th centuries BCE, other forms of meditation developed in Taoist China and Buddhist India.

The new study divided 149 people into three groups. One performed mindful meditation, a type of meditation that essentially involves focusing the mind on the present, the Daily Mail reported. Another group jogged regularly for eight weeks while the third group did nothing.

The researchers then followed the health of the volunteers through the winter from September to May, although they didn`t check whether or not people carried on exercising or meditating after the eight?week period. The participants were observed for cold and flu symptoms such as a runny nose, stuffiness, sneezing, and sore throat. Nasal wash samples were collected and analysed three days after the symptoms began.

The study, found that meditators missed 76 per cent fewer days of work from September through to May than those who did nothing. Those who had exercised missed 48 per cent fewer days during this period.

In addition, mindful meditation can reduce the duration or severity of acute respiratory infections such by up to 50 per cent, and exercise by up to 40 per cent.

According to the website Scientific America, those who had exercised or meditated suffered for an average of five days; colds of participants in the control group lasted eight.

In addition, tests confirmed that the self-reported length of colds correlated with the level of antibodies in the body, which indicate the presence of a virus.

“Nothing has previously been shown to prevent acute respiratory infections,” said lead author Dr Bruce Barrett, a family medicine doctor and associate professor at the University.

“A lot of previous information suggested that meditation and exercise might have prevention benefits, but no high-quality, randomised trial had been done,” Barrett said.

“Flu shots are partially effective, but only work for three strains of flu each year. The apparent 40 to 50 per cent benefit of mindfulness training is a very important finding, as is the apparent 30 to 40 per cent benefit of exercise training. If this pans out in future research, the impact could be substantive indeed,” Barrett said.