This month's bulletin offers studies that point us in the right direction on our journey to stronger bones and a fuller and more satisfying life.
First, we'll look at a report that linked processed “junk” food to poor mental health days. Researchers suspect this problem is widespread wherever Western diets are the norm.
Then, you’ll discover how to extend your life in just 10 minutes a day. A study on people aged 85 and older isolated a simple and enjoyable activity that should be on everyone's daily planner.
Finally, we'll look at a massive meta-analysis that considered more than 2 million participants to gauge the impact of different types of leisure activities on the chance of developing dementia. Maintaining high cognitive function might be more relaxing than you ever expected.
Processed Food Consumption Linked To Depression And Anxiety
Researchers at Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine have found a link between consuming highly processed “junk” foods and increased frequency of depression and anxiety.
To establish this link, the researchers analyzed data from a nationally representative sample of 10,359 adults who participated in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They compared the dietary habits of participants to the number of days they reported symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Participants who ate the most processed foods also had the highest number of poor mental health days.
“People who regularly eat junk food were also far less likely to have zero “mentally unhealthy days” and zero “anxious days.” The team believes their findings apply to people living throughout the United States as well as people living in other “Western” countries which share a similar diet.
“The ultra-processing of food depletes its nutritional value and also increases the number of calories, as ultra-processed foods tend to be high in added sugar, saturated fat and salt, while low in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals,” says corresponding author Eric Hecht, M.D., Ph.D., an affiliate associate professor in FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine, in a university release.”1
This result is a double-whammy for anyone seeking to improve the strength and quality of their bones. Not only are processed foods bad for bone health in numerous ways, but poor mental health also takes a toll on your body's ability to build and maintain new bone.
Depression and anxiety can act as a barrier to regular exercise, healthy eating, and active living. Simultaneously, high levels of the stress hormone cortisol impede the bone remodeling process and cause muscle loss.
A study of 10,359 US adults found that the participants who consumed the most processed food also experienced the largest number of poor mental health days. Since processed food and symptoms of anxiety and depression both negatively impact bone health, it's doubly important to avoid processed food.
Extend Your Life By Walking 10 Minutes A Day
South Korean scientists found that walking for a total of one hour over the course of a week correlated to an increased lifespan in people aged 85 and older. Researchers analyzed data from about 7,000 older adults who participated in the Korean National Health Screening Program between 2009 and 2014.
A questionnaire asked participants how long they spent walking in a week at a slow pace or doing moderate or high-intensity exercise. The researchers received the following responses:
One-third of the participants who walked at a slow pace each week also engaged in moderate or vigorous-intensity physical activity.
The researchers compared this information about participants' activity levels to records of their health outcomes.
“Compared to inactive 80-year-olds, those who walked at least one hour per week had a 40-percent and 39-percent lower risk of all-cause and cardiovascular death, respectively.
“Walking was linked with a lower likelihood of dying in older adults, regardless of whether or not they did any moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity. Identifying the minimum amount of exercise that can benefit the oldest old is an important goal since recommended activity levels can be difficult to achieve. Our study indicates that walking even just one hour every week is advantageous to those aged 85 years and older compared to being completely inactive. The take home message is to keep walking throughout life,” Dr. Jin concludes.”2
Walking is a form of weight-bearing exercise, so it stimulates the growth of new bone. That makes walking, even at a slow pace as described in this study, a tool for building stronger bones.
A study of 7,000 older Korean adults found that those who walked for one hour each week had a 40% reduced risk of early death. Walking is an effective way to maintain health and stimulate new bone growth.
Relaxing Activities Can Protect Your Cognitive Function
A study published in the journal Neurology has drawn a link between some leisure activities and a reduced chance of cognitive decline.
The researchers cross-examined the results of 38 different studies that followed a combined two million participants for at least three years each. The participants did not have dementia at the beginning of the studies. The researchers in each study observed which participants developed the disease, and gathered information about their behavior, choices, and health histories.
This meta-analysis checked those results for a relationship between developing dementia and different mental, physical, and social leisure activities.
“Engaging in mental pastimes had the best impact, with people 23 percent less likely to experience dementia onset. These hobbies include reading or writing for pleasure, watching television, playing games or musical instruments, and making crafts.
Physical activities, such as walking, dancing, running, swimming, and cycling lowered the risk of dementia by 17 percent. Chatting with others, attending a social club or a class, seeing family and friends all fell into the social activities list and they reduced the likelihood of dementia by seven percent.”3
The researchers noted that previous studies have associated these sorts of leisure activities with a reduction in the risk of cancer and heart disease. They've now added dementia to that list.
This is an excellent example of how lifestyle choices play a role in our physical and mental health. Diet and exercise are foundational, but they are not the only factors that influence our well-being. That's why the Save Institute takes a holistic approach to preventing and reversing osteoporosis.
A meta-analysis of studies with a combined two million participants found that those who regularly engaged in mental, physical, and social leisure activities were less likely to develop dementia.
What This Means To You
Eat unprocessed natural food, go for walks, and enjoy some engaging leisure activities. Who would have guessed that pursuing a long and healthy life could be so enjoyable?
The Osteoporosis Reversal Program has from the very beginning extolled the pleasures of bone-healthy living. When you're energized by delicious whole foods and regular physical exercise, the possibilities of life are at your fingertips, and you're ready to live them fully.
Be sure to spend that time and energy on activities you enjoy– the enjoyment is part of your fight for stronger bones.