Rounding up science's latest discoveries
LEAFY GREENS LOWER RISK OF GLAUCOMA
You might have heard that carrots help improve one's vision?
Well, forget carrots, scientists from Harvard are saying that eating green leafy vegetables is linked to lowering the risk of glaucoma by 20 per cent or more over many years.
Glaucoma is a serious eye condition that damages the optic nerve, resulting in vision loss and blindness. It usually develops when fluid increases in the front part of the eye and causes pressure that damages the nerve.
During the 28-year study of almost 105,000 participants, nearly 1,500 developed glaucoma.
In glaucoma, doctors believe there is an impairment of blood flow to the eye.
Green leafy vegetables contain nitrates, which are precursors to nitric oxide, an important substance that regulates blood flow to the eye.
The researchers looked at the consumption of green leafy vegetables among the participants.
Those who ate the most leafy greens had about one-and-a-half servings a day.
HAVING MORE KIDS SLOWS AGEING
A recent study by Simon Fraser University suggests that having more children helps women stay young.
Published in journal Public Library of Science One, the study of 75 women in Guatemala found that those who had more children, had longer telomeres.
Telomeres are protective tips at the ends of DNA strands that shield cells from harm. The longer the tip, the healthier the cell - keeping signs of ageing away.
This may be due to production of the female hormone, oestrogen, which functions as a "potent antioxidant" and protects against telomere shortening.
Social environment is also a factor. "The women we followed were from natural fertility populations where mothers who bear numerous children receive more social support from relatives and friends," said author-professor Pablo Neomnaschy.
"Greater support leads to an increase in metabolic energy that can be allocated to tissue maintenance, slowing down ageing."
This is the first study to look at the direct relationship between the number of children and telomere shortening over time.
POOR SLEEP, POOR BRAIN HEALTH
A new study suggests a link between quality of sleep and brain health in seniors.
Researchers from the University of Toronto examined the autopsied brains of 315 people - average age 90, seven in 10 women - who had undergone at least one full week of sleep quality assessment.
Those with the highest levels of sleep fragmentation - repeated awakenings - were 27 per cent more likely to have hardening of the brain blood vessels.
Hardened blood vessels in the brain could raise risks of a stroke.
Among study participants, sleep was disrupted an average of nearly seven times an hour.
For each additional two arousals during one hour of sleep, there was a 30 per cent increase in the likelihood of having visible signs of oxygen deprivation in the brain, researchers say in American Heart Association's journal Stroke.
While the findings suggest that sleep monitoring could help identify seniors at risk for stroke, further research is needed to establish a causal link.