islamabad - According to a new study, a healthy heart may also lead to a healthy brain by protecting against age-related cognitive decline.

Led by Hannah Gardener, of the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami in Florida, the study found out that as we are unable to stop the aging process in order to protect cognitive functioning, previous studies have suggested that healthy lifestyle habits, such as regular physical activity, can help. The Life’s Simple 7 incorporates regular physical activity, a healthy diet, weight management, tobacco avoidance and good control of blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.  The team found that participants who had better measures of cardiovascular health at study baseline also had better brain processing speed at that time point, and this association was strongest for non-smokers and adults with an ideal weight and blood glucose levels.

At follow-up, the researchers found that participants who had more cardiovascular health factors at baseline experienced less decline in brain processing speed, memory and executive function - associated with time management, attention and planning and organization - than those with fewer cardiovascular health factors.

Commenting on the implications of these findings, Gardener says:

“Achieving the health metrics of Life’s Simple 7 is associated with a reduced risk of strokes and heart attacks, even among the elderly. And the finding that they may also impact cognitive or brain function underscores the importance of measuring, monitoring and controlling these seven factors by patients and physicians.”

“In addition,” says Gardener, “further study is needed to identify the age ranges, or periods over the life course, during which cardiovascular health factors and behaviors may be most influential in determining late-life cognitive impairment, and how behavioral and health modifications may influence cognitive performance and mitigate decline over time.”

Five ways to stay healthy this rain

This rain is definitely charming and taken as a bounty but it could become the reason for a bout of flu or some other infection. Here are a few ways to stay healthy in this rain,

Bacteria and viruses come alive during the rainy season and you can come into contact with them just by crossing the road or holding on to an infected railing or bench.

Wash your hands as frequently as you can with soap and warm water.

The flu virus commonly enters our body through the eyes, nose and mouth.

Resist the urge to scratch your eye or wipe your sweaty forehead. Bring a clean napkin or handkerchief instead.

Clogged gutters and dirty puddles are a common sight during rainy season. Unfortunately, they are sources of water-borne diseases like diarrhea, influenza, cholera and fungal skin infections. Covering up is the best way to protect yourself from these diseases and still maintain your active life. Aside from a jacket, invest in a good pair of rain boots. Many commuters prefer wearing rubber slippers because, unlike most closed shoes, they dry fast and are easy to move around in.

But they leave your feet contaminated.

While the sizzling, hot pakoras sold in the streets sound like a good idea any time of the year, the rainy season is when you should stay away from them. Food cooked and sold in the open air are likely to come in contact with airborne and waterborne diseases and bacteria.

Better to eat fresh, home-cooked meals.

The mosquito population grows during the rainy season because stagnant water their choice breeding ground becomes more common.

When you eat as important as what you eat: Study

Mitochondria - the tiny power centers inside cells that burn nutrients like sugar to make energy - are tightly controlled by the body’s biological or circadian clock. Consequently, there is an optimum time when sugar-burning is most efficient.

The researchers say their findings may explain why people who sleep and eat out of phase with their body clocks are more likely to become overweight and obese and develop chronic diseases, such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Study leader Dr. Gad Asher, who heads a lab at the Weizmann Institute explained that “In a sense it’s like a daily calendar, telling the body what to expect, so it can prepare for the future and operate optimally.”

In the study, he and his colleagues identified hundreds of proteins in the mitochondria of mice and measured their levels at different times of day and night. They found that 40% of the mitochondrial proteins peak once a day - although not necessarily at the same time.

The researchers found that most of the circadian proteins in the mice’s mitochondria peaked 4 hours into the daylight part of their cycle.

Of these circadian proteins, there was one - an enzyme - that appeared to be particularly important for controlling the rate of burning sugar for energy. This enzyme peaked 4 hours into daylight, suggesting the mitochondria’s optimum time for sugar use was also around this time.

The researchers checked this by giving mitochondria sugar at various times of day and found, indeed, that 4 hours into daylight was the time when respiration - the intake of oxygen needed for burning the sugar - and glucose use were at their highest.

They found that the protein that lets fatty acids into the power centers peaks at a different time to the protein that controls the rate of sugar-burning. And again, they found fat-burning was most efficient at this time.

Dr. Asher says the results support previous findings where they showed if mice only eat at night, when they are active, they eat the same amount of calories as mice that also eat during the day, but their lipid levels (e.g. blood cholesterol) are 50% lower. He concludes:

He concluded that “In other words, the outcome depends not only on what you eat but also on when you eat it. If we could be more aware of the timing of our cellular activities, we might be able to take advantage of various nutrients in a healthier way.”