Whole Life Magazine

October/November 2012

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Page 16 of 43

By Elizabeth Barker may help boost mood and stave off mood swings. Happy Snacks Compounds found in berries, tea and chocolate might help lift your mood, suggests a study presented at a recent national meeting of the American Chemical Society. For the study, scientists explored the chemi- cal structures of more than 1,700 substances available in commonly consumed foods. Their findings revealed that molecules in chocolate, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and tea closely resemble valproic acid (a chemical widely used in mood-stabilizing prescription drugs) and Fertility Food Munching on a few handfuls of walnuts each day could enhance fertility in healthy men, according to new research from Biology of Reproduction. In a study involving 117 males ages 21 to 35, switching to a walnut-enriched diet appeared to improve sperm's ability to reach and penetrate the egg (a quality referred to as "sperm motility"). For about three months, all study members followed a Rock Body Western-style diet. During that time, 59 of the participants ate about 2.65 ounces of walnuts a day, while the remain- ing participants avoided all tree nuts. By the end of the study period, those who had eaten walnuts showed sig- nificant improvement in sperm motility, vitality and morphology (the size and shape of sperm). What's more, members of the walnut-fed group had fewer chromosomal abnormalities in their sperm after chang- ing up their diets. Although it's not yet known how walnuts might strengthen sperm health, the study's authors note that walnuts serve as a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (or PUFAs, a type of healthy fat con- sidered crucial for sperm function). Other top sources of PUFAs include flaxseed and oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring. Don't iPad Yourself For a better night's sleep, shut down your iPad a few hours be- fore you hit the sack. In a recent study, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute researchers found that two hours of exposure to tablet computers turned to their brightest settings seemed to suppress melatonin (a hormone essential to the regulation of your body's sleep-wake cycles). In an experiment involving three types of tablet comput- eral hours of bedtime, try keeping your melatonin levels in check by including such melatonin-rich foods as almonds, sunflower seeds, oats, barley, cherries and bananas in your daily diet. In addition to avoiding use of tablets, laptops and other light-emitting electronic devices within sev- ers (the iPad, the iPad 2 and the Asus), one hour of expo- sure didn't seem to have a significant impact on participants' melatonin levels. But after two hours of using tablet comput- ers, the study members' melatonin levels dipped by up to 22 percent—a decrease that could throw off your body clock and keep you from sleeping soundly. Chronic melatonin suppression has also been linked to increased risk for obesity and serious diseases such as diabetes and breast cancer in other recently published studies. The Antibiotics-Obesity Link Children given antibiotics in the first few months of life may be more likely to pack excess pounds by the time they reach age 3. That's the finding of a recent study from the New York University School of Medicine, which sized up the use of antibiotics among more than 11,500 children. In their research, the study's authors deter- mined that children treated with antibiotics when they were five months old or younger had a 22 percent greater chance of being overweight at 38 months of age (compared to kids who weren't given antibiotics in that same time period). On the other hand, children exposed to antibiotics from ages six months to 14 months didn't have a significantly higher body mass index than those who weren't treated with antibiotics at that age. It's too soon to tell how early-life antibiotic use might set children up for being overweight. Still, the study's authors theorize that antibiotics could mess with biochemistry in babies. "We typi- cally consider obesity an epidemic grounded in unhealthy diet and exercise, yet increasingly, stud- ies suggest it's more complicated," explains lead author Leonardo Trasande, M.D. "Microbes in our intestines may play critical roles in how we absorb calories, and exposure to antibiotics, espe- cially early in life, may kill off healthy bacteria that influence how we absorb nutrients into our bodies, and would otherwise keep us lean." October/November 2012 17 your

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