July 30, 2014

The Feel Good Report

The latest in health, fitness and beauty.

FIGHTING TOOTH DECAY

One of Florida’s natural resources—coconuts—might just be a key ingredient in the fight against tooth decay. Coconut oil, a natural antibiotic when digested, seems to destroy the bacteria that cause tooth decay. A recent study found that when the digestive enzymes were added to coconut oil, it combated streptococcus mutans, the bacteria that produce teeth-decaying acids. It should be noted that undigested coconut oil had no impact. So what does this mean? The digestive enzyme could likely be added to coconut oil, which, in turn, would then be added to dental products. “The key word is ‘likely,’ says Dr. Alan Rembos, a dentist with offices in Naples, Fort Myers and Sanibel. “Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, and that’s key to the study. Fifty percent of the fat in pure coconut oil is lauric acid, which is very rarely found in nature. In fact, it contains the most lauric acid of any substance found on earth … This has a lot potential.”

ATTENTION, CYCLISTS

Weather and topography: two reasons this area is a mecca for cyclists. But there are limits to just how much speed and endurance you can generate without springing for a cycling coach. But iBike’s Dash+Power uses all the computing power of your iPhone or iPod touch to give you insight into just how well you’re doing. In addition to the normal stuff such as speed, distance, time, maps and weather, it can also break down just how much power you’re putting out via pre-programmed fitness tests, interval training and goals from its Powerhouse app. You can then download that info to your computer to figure out where you need improvement. Just mount the Dash+Power to your handlebars and pedal your way to the best cycling you’ve ever done. ibikesports.com

SCORE ONE FOR CARDIO

If you are looking to lose weight, it turns out that the well-accepted notion that weight lifting is the better long-term option versus cardio is incorrect. While it’s still beneficial to have some weight training incorporated into your workout (muscles are sexy, after all), for purely weight-loss results, cardio is the hands-down winner. A recent eight-month study followed 200 overweight, middle-aged folks and split them into three different exercise programs: 45 minutes of pure cardio, 45 minutes of pure weight-lifting or a combination of both for a total of 90 minutes. While the weight lifters did build muscle, their weight/fat loss was negligible— surprising experts. The study found that cardio produced better results, losing more fat and weight and required just half the time of the combination workout. I guess it’s time to think about jogging.

SOFT DRINKS AS DOWNER?

If you’ve ever caught yourself singing, “I’d like to buy the world a Zoloft and keep it company,” you may be a soda drinker. A recent study of more than 260,000 people has found a link between soft drinks and depression. Researchers followed their consumption of various beverages over a 10-year span and discovered those who drank more than four servings of soda each day were 30 percent more likely to develop depression than those who drank no soda at all. But don’t think that switching to low-calorie versions make things any better. The study found that low-calorie sodas, iced teas and fruit punches were even worse off. The researchers say the artificial sweetener aspartame might be the culprit. Then again, if you drink more than four glasses of soda each day, you may have other reasons to be depressed.

 COFFEE COULD CUT SKIN CANCER RISK

OK, so if soda isn’t great for you, perhaps you should consider coffee. A new report in the journal Cancer Research suggests that drinking more caffeinated coffee might lower your risk of developing basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer. Researchers analyzed data of more than 112,000 people. Twenty-five percent of that group had developed basal cell carcinoma over a 20-year period. It seems that the more caffeinated coffee someone drinks, the lower the risk for developing this form of cancer. Scientists believe that caffeine is the key factor, as tea, cola and chocolate (all with caffeine) also seemed to reduce risks.

 THE BRAIN AND EXERCISE

We already know that exercising helps boost both the functionality and structure of the human brain, enhancing everything from mood to memory. But until now we didn’t know if those benefits were long-term or only lasted until your derriere hit the couch. Two recent studies on rats (they’re so generous with their time) tracked newly created neurons in the brains of animals that exercised regularly and those that did not. In one study, the rats’ memories were tested in a maze over the course of several weeks. Those who exercised were then precluded from activity. After one week of inactivity, the exercisers were much faster and had twice as many neurons as the inactive group. But over the coming weeks, those advantages faded. Another test had similar results studying stress and anxiety. The lesson is clear: Keep active and keep sharp.

 

 

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