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Memory, fitness, sugar, and fructose: How they're all linked

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Here’s another reason to drop that doughnut and hit the treadmill: A new study suggests aerobic fitness affects long-term memory, according to a new study, "Poorer aerobic fitness relates to reduced integrity of multiple memory systems," which appears online March 2014 in the research journal Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience.

Michigan State University researchers tested 75 college students during a two-day period and found those who were less fit had a harder time retaining information. “The findings show that lower-fit individuals lose more memory across time,” said Kimberly Fenn, according to a May 2, 2014 news release, "Out of shape? Your memory may suffer." Fenn is co-author of the study and assistant professor of psychology.

“The findings show that lower-fit individuals lose more memory across time,” said Kimberly Fenn, study co-author and assistant professor of psychology. The study is one of the first to investigate young, supposedly healthy adults. Previous research on fitness and memory has focused largely on children, whose brains are still developing, and the elderly, whose memories are declining.

Participants studied related word pairs such as “camp” and “trail.” The next day, they were tested on the word pairs to evaluate long-term memory retention. Long-term memory is anything remembered more than about 30 seconds ago. Aerobic fitness was gauged by oxygen consumption derived from a treadmill test and factored with the participants’ weight, percent body fat, age and sex.

The findings speak to the increasingly sedentary lifestyles found in the United States and other Western cultures. A surprising number of the college students in the study were significantly out of shape and did much worse at retaining information than those who were extremely fit, Fenn said, according to the news release. Her co-authors included kinesiology researchers Matthew Pontifex and Karin Pfeiffer. You may also wish to check out the research, "Timing matters: Temporal dynamics of stress effects on memory retrieval." Or the study, "Biases of attention in chronic smokers: Men and women are not alike."

In another study, different researchers found that high blood sugar is linked to memory loss, according to research

You may wish to check out the article, "High Blood Sugar Leads to Memory Loss:." Or see, "High blood sugar levels linked to memory loss - Medical News Today."

Higher blood sugar levels may increase the risk of memory problems, even in people who have blood sugar (glucose) levels within the normal range, a new study suggests. So on one hand, there are soldiers with severe heart disease, and on the other, there's a high sugar diet on top of exercise for some people.

You may wish to check out the site, "Special: How One Deck of Cards Has Shown to Improve Memory." New research suggests that people with high blood sugar levels, even those who do not have diabetes, may have an increased risk for developing cognitive impairment. This is according to a study published in the journal Neurology. And then there's the studies on fructose. See, "This is your brain on sugar: UCLA study shows high-fructose diet sabotages learning, memory." Also see the study appearing online August 15, 2012 in the Journal of Physiology, "Does too much sugar make for lost memories?"

A May 15, 2012 article explains eve to college students cramming between midterms and finals that binging on soda and sweets for as little as six weeks may make you stupid. Yet boxes of candy and cookies are sent to the troops stationed overseas. The 2012 UCLA rat study is the first to show how a diet steadily high in fructose slows the brain, hampering memory and learning — and how omega-3 fatty acids can counteract the disruption. The peer-reviewed Journal of Physiology published the findings in its May 15, 2012 edition.

People with lower blood sugar levels did better on the memory tests

For example, in another study, on a test where participants were asked to recall a list of 15 words 30 minutes after hearing them, those with lower blood sugar levels remembered more of the words than those with higher blood sugar levels. The researchers also found that hippocampus size was larger in people with lower blood sugar levels than in those with higher levels, according to a study published online November 12, 2013 in the journal Neurology. See, Higher glucose levels associated with lower memory and reduced hippocampal microstructure.

Sweet treats instead of super foods are still being served to the military during appreciation month

May is National Military Appreciation Month. It's the 15th Annual Military Appreciation Month in May of this year. For those in Sacramento, you may wish to check out the May 2, 2014 Sacramento Bee article, "Farrell’s offers free sundaes to military throughout month of May." If you're not military, the special sundae also can be purchased by Farrell’s customers for $7.99.

Notice how few restaurants or eateries in Sacramento are offering super foods (healthiest foods) to military personnel, and how many are offering sweets to hook young people further on sugar, milk, meat, cheese, or white bleached wheat flour. You don't see many vegan restaurants or other eateries offering a super food meal, functional foods, or a dessert made without added sugar, added salt, or added white flour free to the military for one day during military appreciation month?

Usually, it's some type of ice cream treat around the country....milk and sugar, cream and sugar, and various sweet toppings and fixings. Milk and sugar reminds the brain of breast milk that offered security and freedom from starvation as a vulnerable infant. It's a comfort food that can rot the teeth by creating an imbalance between calcium and phosphorus in the blood.

Not many salad bars are offering a free salad with all the vegan choices. No, you won't see functional foods, super foods, and any green vegetable juices not mixed with sweeteners offered, no smoothies not mixed with sugary smoothie mixes....lots of ice cream, though. In fact, in Sacramento, several vegetable salad buffet places sold out and were replaced by other restaurants not devoted to lots of salad fixings, and few to organic vegetable and fruit choices for entrees or desserts such as mangoes pureed with coconut milk, celery, apples, flax seeds, and coconut water frozen into a delicious sorbet. Nobody's offering that, yet at least as of today. So what's happening in Sacramento for National Military Appreciation Month?

The Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour Restaurant at 1625 Watt Ave. in Sacramento is among a half-dozen California Farrell’s outlets offering a free ice cream sundae to military members and veterans throughout the month of May.

What's on the sundae is ice cream in the shades of red, white and blue. The red starts with a cherry that's topped with an American flag at the peak and flows out with of strawberry topping the represent the red colors in the flag. The white is two scoops of vanilla ice cream. And the blue is made of blueberry compote. The motto for the chain is “All American Red, White and Blue Thank You Sundae." Just don't eat the American flag on top of the cherry.

If you're military and go in for the free sundae, you don't have to buy anything else, but the deal cannot be combined with any other special or offer. A valid military ID is needed to show you're really in the military. What you need to bring into the store is an accepted military identification. That could be any of the following: A U.S. Uniform Services ID Card (for active, reserve or retired personnel), a current leave and earnings statement, a photograph of yourself in uniform, a card from a veterans organization (such as the American Legion or VFW) and DD214 or discharge papers. The big picture is military appreciation month.

Looking for more events to organize? You may wish to check out the Events Page for how to organize an event in your community during the month of May to celebrate National Military Appreciation Month. For businesses focusing on the health of military people, how about offering a free healthy foods meal featuring lots of fruits and vegetables without serving foods that add a whopping amount of table sugar, high amounts of fat, or other foods that may taste good for the moment, but as far as the long-term health of the individual, may not be well, super foods for people who really need to stay healthy.

Dentists often send candy to the troops

Dentists send the candy to Operation Gratitude or other Military support groups. On the other hand, today's soldiers are fitter than those were in the past. See, "Today's U.S. Soldiers Fitter Than Decades Ago: Report." But notice that on holidays, it's candy and cookies or cake being sent to soldiers stationed overseas. That article mentions that studies in the past showed that almost 9 percent of those soldiers autopsied had some degree of atherosclerosis (or "hardening") of their coronary arteries, which can lead to heart disease, this was far lower than seen in soldiers who died in Vietnam or Korea, according to researchers.

That article also mentions similar studies that revealed 77 percent of soldiers in the Korean War and 45 percent in the Vietnam War had atherosclerosis, according to that article. Since soldiers are supposed to more fit and trained in exercise than the rest of the population, are their diets any different than in the past?

The article explains that the numbers found in the survey of today's troops "are probably lower than those seen in the general U.S. population. The article refers to the research from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. You might wish to check out another article from CNN.com, "PTSD linked to hardened arteries."

Educating more people about what foods are healthiest and also taste good

Does education matter when a person chooses healthy foods even though tastes can be addictive, such as the taste of sugar, chocolate, milk, cheese, or meat? You may wish to check out the article, Dr. Zorba Paster: Researchers discover links between heart disease, military, and education. That article explained that when Army researchers performed autopsies on Korean War soldiers who died in the line of action, what they found astounded them and radically changed our view of heart disease.

Nearly 77 percent of these young men showed some sign of arteriosclerosis. These weren't 60-year-olds, these were 20-year-olds in the prime of their life, says that article. During the 1950s, young men thought only older adults had heart disease. And women weren't really studied as much either in those days. A doctor may tell you that what you're eating was bad for you, or doctors making house calls in the early 1950s might simply prescribe medicine without mentioning diet. If you were sent to a specialist, they might have handed you a sheet of paper with foods to avoid, but sometimes the foods mentioned weren't the right foods to avoid.

Later, soldiers were told to stop smoking, start exercising, eat right, lose weight

The big picture is about what eating right really means. Notice that around holiday time, excess candy collected by kids or boxes of fatty, sugary cookies made with bleached white wheat flour gets shipped off to the troops stationed overseas.

As the years passed, more young people were put on more medications — including high blood pressure meds and cholesterol pills — and cardiac procedures such as stents and bypass surgery were done on young and middle-aged athletes who thought that running or other fitness workouts would stop their arteries from being calcified prematurely. Few were taught about what vitamins might direct the calcium into bones and teeth instead of being used to patch up damaged, inflamed, or torn arteries. All of this has added nearly 10 years to our average longevity.

More recent articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that heart disease is still prevalent in our young men and women serving in the military.

You might wish to check out the abstracts of studies or articles such as, "Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Autopsy-Determined Atherosclerosis Among US Service Members, 2001-2011" (December 26, 2012 ) and "Myopericarditis Following Smallpox Vaccination Among Vaccinia-Naive US Military Personnel."

Between 2001 and 2011, researchers performed autopsies on nearly all U.S. soldiers who died in combat or from unintentional injuries during the Iraqi wars of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. That included 4,000 men and women whose average age was 26.

Findings include the that one out of eight military personnel had undiagnosed hardening of the arteries. Now, compared to Korean war troops who were autopsied in the 1950s, the overall arteriosclerosis had dropped to 12 percent, far lower than Korea.

On the other hand in more recent times, between 2001 and 2011, the Iraqi war U.S. soldiers who died in combat and were autopsied still had 2.3 percent of those young people suffering from severe heart disease

What were they eating that were so adverse to what would have been healthier foods tailored to their genes that could have reversed those clogged arteries at such a young age? These were people who had been exercising and doing hazardous work. Yet they still had heart disease with no symptoms that could only be found when they were autopsied, after they were killed in combat.

The one risk factor? Did the soldiers smoke? Were they overweight? Smokers and those overweight were more at risk, but the one risk factor that stood out. The soldiers who were high-school dropouts had the higher risk. So did the soldiers who came from poor families. And what do poor families usually eat? Food that's cheapest (unless they grow their own vegetables).

Then why did the high-school dropouts have a higher risk than those who had one or two years of post-high school education, in college or tech school? The soldiers with some post-high school education had lower risk. Education is the one factor that stood out separating those at higher or lower risk for heart disease.

So education seems to form a protective shield against heart disease

What did these soldiers learn after high school in higher education or technical training that helped to protect them? Did someone show them a video on super foods? Or did they watch a video or read material on how smoking damages the tiniest chambers of the heart?

Or did they read how runners died while running, not knowing they had heart disease with no symptoms and hardened arteries...perhaps because they paid little attention to tailoring nutrition to individual metabolism, body chemistry, and in recent times, genes as revealed by various blood and other tests? Other abstracts of noteworthy studies include, "Chronic Multisymptom Illness Affecting Air Force Veterans of the Gulf War" and "Risk of Exposure to Q Fever Pathogen Boosted by Travel in Iraq or Netherlands." Or see, "Soldier Suicide Rates Continue to Rise." Of interest also is "Financial Relationships Between Medical Communication Companies and Industry."

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