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Daily Archives: October 22, 2016

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Right-Handedness Might Go Back Almost 2 Million Years

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THURSDAY, Oct. 20, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Human’s preference for using the right hand may have developed earlier than thought, a new study suggests.

Striations on teeth in a 1.8-million-year-old Homo habilis jaw found in Tanzania offer the earliest fossil evidence of right-handedness, according to researchers.

The striations on the lip side of the upper front teeth mostly veer from left down to right, suggesting they were made when a stone tool held in the right hand was used to cut food held in the mouth while pulling with the left hand.

Those marks suggest that this Homo habilis was right-handed and is the first potential evidence of right-hand dominance in pre-Neanderthal humans, according to the study. It was published online Oct. 20 in the Journal of Human Evolution.

“We think that tells us something further about lateralization of the brain,” said study author David Frayer, a professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Kansas.

“We already know that Homo habilis had brain lateralization and was more like us than like apes. This extends it to handedness, which is key,” he said in a university news release.

“Handedness and language are controlled by different genetic systems, but there is a weak relationship between the two because both functions originate on the left side of the brain,” Frayer said.

“One specimen does not make an incontrovertible case, but as more research is done and more discoveries are made, we predict that right-handedness, cortical [outer brain] reorganization and language capacity will be shown to be important components in the origin of our genus,” he said.

Ninety percent of people are right-handed, while the ratio is closer to 50-50 in apes.

More information

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has more on human evolution.

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Mediterranean Diet, Caffeine May Be Good for Your Eyes

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THURSDAY, Oct. 20, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Eating a Mediterranean diet and consuming caffeine may lower your chances of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness, according to a new study.

Previous research has shown that a Mediterranean diet—high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, healthy fats and fish—benefits the heart and lowers cancer risk. But there has been little research on whether it helps protect against eye diseases such as AMD, the researchers noted.

Using questionnaires, the researchers assessed the diets of 883 people, aged 55 and older, in Portugal. Of those, 449 had early stage AMD and 434 did not have the eye disease.

Closely following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a 35 percent lower risk of AMD, and eating lots of fruit was especially beneficial.

The researchers also found that people who consumed high levels of caffeine seemed to have a lower risk of AMD. Among those who consumed high levels of caffeine (about 78 milligrams a day, or the equivalent of one shot of espresso) 54 percent did not have AMD and 45 percent had the eye disease.

The researchers said they looked at caffeine consumption because it’s an antioxidant known to protect against other health problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

However, the study did not prove that consuming coffee and following a Mediterranean diet caused the risk of AMD to drop.

The findings were to be presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), in Chicago.

“This research adds to the evidence that a healthy, fruit-rich diet is important to health, including helping to protect against macular degeneration,” lead author Dr. Rufino Silva, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Coimbra, in Portugal, said in an AAO news release.

“We also think this work is a stepping stone towards effective preventive medicine in AMD,” Silva added.

Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Eye Institute has more on age-related macular degeneration.

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7 Health Truths We Wish We Knew in Our 20s

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Your 20s aren’t exactly a breeze. Most quarter-lifers are just starting to live on their own, figure out a career path, and look for a life partner, all at the same time. As a result, good-for-you habits don't always feel like a top priority—but some really do matter. That’s why we tapped our editors over 30 to share the health truths they wish they’d known in their younger years. Read on if you still think instant ramen is a well-balanced meal…

RELATED: How to Survive a Quarter-Life Crisis and Find Your True Purpose

Make friends with fat

"Fat is not the enemy. It's an essential nutrient, important for so many major functions in the body, and essential for brain health. Eat more fat!" —Beth Lipton, food director 

Listen to your body

"I wish I had known to take better care of my joints and not to ignore the signs something was wrong. I never thought about the importance of mobility exercises, stretching, foam rolling, or recovery, because I could easily go running or do CrossFit classes without feeling much pain or discomfort. It never occurred to me that maybe someday I wouldn’t be so invincible. Then, at the ripe old age of 28, everything started to hurt all the time—especially my right hip. To make a long story short, I now have permanent damage to that joint because I had ignored a lot of warning signs that I was injured. These days, I am much more diligent about foam rolling before and after every workout, warming up and cooling down properly, and generally just treating my body in a way that will ensure I’ll be able to stay active and fit for the rest of my life." —Christine Mattheis, deputy editor 

Lather up 

"Wear sunscreen every day. Seriously, every day. I apply SPF on my face and neck and whatever’s left over, I put on the back of my hands. Also, self tanner is your bff." —Tomoko Takeda, acting beauty director

RELATED: What You Can Do in Your 20s and 30s to Prevent Physical Decline in Your 50s and 60s

Eat right

"One big thing I have learned since my 20s concerns nutrition/diet and basic eating sense. I had very little nutritional literacy in my 20s, very little idea about what made up a balanced, healthy diet, and very little consciousness about how food choices affected energy levels, mindset, and a general sense of well being. I might get a bad night's sleep, then eat a Big Mac or a giant Italian hoagie for lunch the next day, each loaded with refined carbs, and then be mystified about why I would hit a carb crash and slip into a food coma for the next two hours. It wasn’t until years later (and in part by starting to work at Health!) that I picked up some basics about nutrition, cooking, creating balanced meals that gave me energy. Now my number one prerogative when I eat lunch is what will keep me feeling as energized and alert as possible, and I know the ingredients to put into the meal that will help me do this." —Michael Gollust, research editor

Strengthen, strengthen, strengthen

"I wish I had done more strength training in my 20s! I was all cardio, all the time, not realizing that you can strengthen your bones up to age 30, but after that it tends to decline. You might say I wished I stashed more in my 'bone bank' when I was younger. It's not impossible to 'save up' after age 30, but it's harder." —Theresa Tamkins, editor-in-chief, Health.com

Just do you

"Stick to what feels right for you, regardless of what a friend or a significant other is doing. At times I gave into eating or drinking in ways that didn't feel right for me because I didn't want to be different from friends, or to go along with what my partner wanted to do. You know, that social eating/drinking pressure. As I got older I realized that wasn't necessary. I can be with a friend and have a water during happy hour if I don't feel like drinking, or say no if my hubby wants to split an order of fries. It's not at all about depriving myself (in fact, looking back I felt like I was depriving myself of feeling good when I gave in); it's about knowing and honoring what feels right for you in that moment. Splurging sometimes is great, even important, but do so on your own terms." —Cynthia Sass, contributing nutrition editor

Love yourself

"This isn’t really a health truth, but more a life truth: I wish every woman in her 20s knew how beautiful she was! I look at pictures of myself in my 20s, when I often felt gawky and unsure, and wish I’d realized that I was actually so lovely—not because I think I’m such hot stuff, but because there’s this vibrant energy that you have when you’re that age that’s really wonderful and attractive. Everyone has it! Women in your 20s, own it!" —Jeannie Kim, executive deputy editor

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