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Lifestyle briefs — Feb. 16

Risk of heart fatalities
grows with sugary diet

Eating sugary foods, researchers have found, increases the risk of dying from heart disease.

Researchers analyzed data from a nationally representative sample of 31,147 adults, gathered in a larger 20-year study of health and mortality. The study was posted online in JAMA Internal Medicine.

All participants received physical exams and took a food questionnaire. The scientists calculated “added sugar” — that is, all sugar not found naturally in fruits and fruit juices, but instead in sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts and other foods — as a percentage of total calorie intake.

Most adults, they found, get 10 percent or more of their calories from added sugar. After adjusting for age, smoking, sex, BMI, physical activity and other factors, they found that compared with people whose calories were less than 10 percent from added sugar, those whose intake was 10 to 25 percent added sugar had a 30 percent increased risk of cardiovascular death. Those whose diet was more than 25 percent added sugar almost tripled their risk.

— Nicholas Bakalar

New York Times

Hints from Heloise:

Skirt hangers in closet
can clip hotel curtains

Claire D. writes via email: On a recent trip, the hotel-room curtains would not stay closed to keep the light from outside from coming through. I went to the closet and got one of the skirt hangers with the clips. After clipping it to the curtains, I could finally rest peacefully!

— King Features

Mentally and physically,
vacations are good idea

A recent white paper concludes that travel is good for you.

The benefits are both mental and physical, the result of “physical activity, cognitive stimulation and social engagement,” according to the study, commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association, the Global Commission on Aging and the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

The report quotes previous studies concluding that women who vacation twice a year have a significantly reduced chance of heart attacks or coronary death. Similarly, “men who did not take an annual vacation were shown to have a 20 percent higher risk of death and about a 30 percent greater risk of death from heart disease,” the report says.

Even accounting for the likelihood that people who can afford travel also have access to better health care, researchers have concluded that “vacationing is a restorative behavior with an independent positive effect on health.”

Paul Nussbaum, a clinical neuropsychologist and adjunct professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, said the mental benefits are clear and can help stave off such diseases as Alzheimer’s.

New and challenging situations cause the brain to sprout dendrites that grow the brain’s capacity, he said.

Even the stress that comes with travel and being thrown out of routines can be helpful. “Some stress, some anxiety is good because it positions the brains to be more attentive and more engaged,” he said.

— Josh Noel

Chicago Tribune


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