News beyond the pandemic — January 29

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The coronavirus pandemic dominated the headlines and our daily lives for most of the past year. Medical News Today have covered this fast-moving, complex story with live updates on the latest news, interviews with experts, and an ongoing investigation into the deep racial disparities that COVID-19 has helped unmask.

However, this hasn’t stopped us from publishing hundreds of fascinating stories on a myriad of other topics.

This week saw the launch of MNT‘s latest evidence-backed information hub, all about women’s health, and that’s where we begin this edition of the Recovery Room. It’s a comprehensive resource with dozens of articles covering every aspect of the topic, with fresh content added continually.

Next, a hugely popular article on exercise, which will be useful for beginners as well as people looking to take their weight loss and muscle gains to the next level. We also cover cerebral pursuits, thanks to our evidence-backed guide to exercising your brain.

Along the way, we look at research into the phenomenon of “clairaudience,” how to follow a nutritionally-complete vegan diet, and why frying food is particularly bad for the heart.

We also have exciting news of possible treatments for two neurodegenerative diseases that could treat millions of people. Scientists say further research and development are needed, but identifying a protein linked to Parkinson’s disease looks promising.

We highlight this research below, along with other recent stories that you may have missed amid all the COVID-19 fervor.

This week saw the launch of MNT‘s latest collection of evidence-backed resources, this time focusing on women’s health.

You’ll find over 70 articles on topics as diverse as nutrition, exercise, mental health, menopause, cancer, hormones, and sexual health. They include eight features that unravel the myths and misconceptions around women’s health, as well as our recommendations for products and programs.

Click below for science-backed information and advice to help you live your strongest, healthiest life.

Learn more here.

This week’s most popular new article is all about losing weight and gaining muscle through exercise. Starting with pointers on choosing a workout, we explore the evidence for how often we should work out to lose weight or gain muscle.

Personal fitness goals determine which workouts to follow, so this article includes a range of beginner, intermediate, and advanced exercises that target all the body’s major muscle groups.

This article has attracted over 137,000 sessions since Monday, making it this year’s most popular so far.

Learn more here.

Some people claim to hear the voices of the dead, an experience called “clairaudience.” This week, MNT reported new research into this type of religious and spiritual experience and how it relates to auditory hallucinations in people with mental health conditions.

The United Kingdom study involved more than 200 people with varying spiritual beliefs. The researchers asked them to complete a survey measuring how absorbed they become in music, movies, or their own thoughts, as well as questionnaires relating to hallucinations, paranormal beliefs, and identity.

What did the researchers find? And how do people who experience clairaudience differ from the general population? Click below to discover more.

Learn more here.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is known to play a vital role in learning, memory, and maintaining brain flexibility, or “plasticity.”

A low-level form of BDNF, called mature BDNF (mBDNF), is linked with depression, while a high level of its precursor, proBDNF, is associated with inflammation and nerve degeneration, and may even trigger depressive symptoms. Existing blood tests have been unable to differentiate levels of these two forms.

However, MNT reported this week on a new test that can distinguish between the two forms more accurately. Researchers have since found that people with depression or bipolar disorder have significantly lower levels of mBDNF in their blood than control group participants without these conditions.

Learn more here.

A recent Recovery Room featured an article on myths about vegetarian and vegan diets. This week, we followed up with advice on avoiding nutrient deficiencies that may occur when following a vegan diet.

The article looks at which nutrients and minerals, such as vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, are most likely to be lacking in these diets. It includes tips on how to boost levels of these nutrients through specific foods and supplements.

For a detailed explanation of the nutrients to target on a vegan diet, click below.

Learn more here.

Regardless of whether your diet is plant-based or includes meat and dairy, a new meta-analysis, reported in MNT this week, serves as a reminder of the danger of frying foods. Researchers analyzed 19 studies and found that people who ate the most fried foods had a 37% increased risk of heart failure.

Studies have already established correlations between consuming fried food and developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, and hypertension, but this research marks the first definitive evidence of a link with heart failure.

The article also looks at why frying food is so harmful compared to other cooking methods.

Learn more here.

We could be one step closer to developing a new treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Scientists have identified a protein that can slow or even halt the progression of the condition in mice.

The protein is a “neurotrophic factor” – a type of molecule that supports the survival and development of nerve cells – that may protect the dopamine-producing neurons that become damaged in Parkinson’s disease. It may even restore their function.

The researchers are now seeking an industry partner to assist in the development of this discovery. They hope their findings will pave the way for new treatments for some of the estimated 1 million people in the United States with Parkinson’s disease.

Learn more here.

We also reported on a discovery relating to another chronic neurological condition, multiple sclerosis (MS). Researchers have found that people with this condition have low levels of oleic acid in their fatty tissues, which may lead to autoimmune reactions and inflammation that causes damage to the central nervous system. Symptoms of MS include fatigue, vision loss, and muscle weakness.

This article explores the role of oleic acid in the behavior of regulatory T cells that may have links with the progression of MS and other autoimmune conditions. However, further research is now needed to determine whether a diet rich in oleic acid can help treat MS.

Learn more here.

According to estimates, up to 22% of people gained weight over the past year of lockdown restrictions due to COVID-19.

But how has the pandemic led to such widespread weight gain? This article looks at the possible causes, as well as recommending strategies for losing weight during lockdown. And while exercise and nutrition are important, it’s also a good idea to consider your mental health and well-being.

Learn more here.

This week’s Recovery Room features articles that focus on keeping the body in shape, but what about giving the brain a workout too?

Our editors have compiled a list of exercises that could boost brain function and protect against age-related deterioration. There’s a varied selection to choose from, including meditation, playing games, learning a language, dancing, and of course, sleeping.

We also delve into the evidence of each activity’s benefits, with an abundance of links to related MNT articles offering more in-depth analysis. Plenty to keep your brain busy into the weekend and beyond.

Learn more here.

We hope this article offers a taste of the stories that we cover at MNT. We’ll be back with a new selection next week.

We publish hundreds of new stories and features every month. Here are some upcoming articles that may pique our readers’ interests:

  • Could intermittent fasting reduce breast cancer risk in obesity?
  • Mouse study reveals a mechanism of LSD on prosocial behavior
  • How do binge eating and drinking impact the liver?

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