September 18, 2015

Health Grab Bag: Coffee and Parkinson’s Risk, “Old People Smell,” Exercise for Brain Health

Occasionally, I’ll combine several recent stories that caught my attention in a general “health update.” Here’s one today.

Coffee Lowers Parkinson’s Risk
If you drink coffee, your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease is lowered by 31 percent, according to a meta-analysis presented at the First Congress of the European Academy of Neurology in Berlin this past June.

As reported in a recent article in Medical News Today, Dr Filipe Brogueira Rodrigues and his team at the Instituto de Medicina Molecular in Lisbon conducted a systematic review of 37 studies from all over the world. “Men and women benefit equally from the effects of caffeine,” he said.

While there are still many possible explanations, the researchers think that coffee’s caffeine interacts with the neurotransmitter adenosine. According to Brogueira Rodrigues, "This may have neuroprotective effects on specific brain regions which play an important role in relation to Parkinson's."

The good news about coffee’s positive health benefits wasn’t especially surprising, since the popular drink has already been linked with reduced risks for type 2 diabetes, stroke, depression, Alzheimer’s, liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Prof Kailash Bhatia from the Institute of Neurology, UCL, London, said, “Better understanding of environmental factors which reduce or increase the risk of developing Parkinson's disease is crucial to safeguard against developing this disorder.”

He urged continuing study to more clearly understand the link between caffeine in coffee and its association with reduced risk of Parkinson’s.

Old People DO Smell Different
And it’s all about “Nonenal,” a component of body odor that develops in men and women after about age 40. Maybe you’ve smelled it in nursing homes or other elder care facilities.

Here’s how an article at described the formation of Nonenal:
As the skin grows weaker, its natural oils become oxidized more quickly; this is caused by fatty acids, which are secreted by the sebaceous glands and react to the oxygen in the air to form Nonenal. Because it isn't water soluble, Nonenal can remain on the skin despite washing, even remaining after intense scrubbing. Therefore, the smell caused by Nonenal persists, even in extremely clean environments.

There are “healthy lifestyle” strategies for reducing “old people smell,” including:
  • exercising regularly
  • avoiding stress
  • not smoking
  • drinking alcohol in moderation
  • eating a clean diet
  • getting enough rest 

Sounds like good advice for anyone.

In addition, persimmon extract and Japanese green tea are both thought to combat Nonenal.

The aroma lingers, even with excellent personal hygiene. Currently, most popular soaps in the United States include deodorants to eliminate odors such as ammonia (caused by urine), trimethylamine and sulfide oxygen (caused by feces and urine), acetic acid (caused by sweat) and isovaleric acid (created by feet).

As millions of Baby Boomers enter their senior years, maybe we’ll see some new products on the market soon that address the Nonenal problem.

A Quick Brain and Memory Fitness Program
Alzheimer’s & Dementia Weekly is one of the many publications that regularly pop into my inbox. A recent edition featured a five-minute exercise program developed by the Brain and Memory Foundation. The article highlighted several reasons to give it a try:
  • Wakes up brain cells by exercising major muscle groups
  • Low impact
  • Takes only five minutes each day
  • Customizable for your own specific needs
  • Not strenuous
  • No special clothes
  • Not a weight loss program, but an energy booster
  • Like all exercise, a boon to memory function

 Take a look. Maybe it will work for you.

No comments: