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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

A spinach omelette can sharpen your reflexes

Posted: 17 Feb 2014 08:25 PM PST

A study shows how a nutrient found in certain foods can help with improving one's reflexes.

A nutrient found in spinach and eggs could help sharpen reflexes and therefore improve road safety.

So says a team of researchers from Leiden University and the University of Amsterdam, who conducted a study on the impact of intake of tyrosine, a nutrient found in foods including spinach, eggs, cheese and soy.

For their research, scientists tested the reaction times of participants on a computer screen. Whenever a green arrow appeared, they were instructed to press the corresponding button as quickly as possible. Buttons had to match direction of the arrow – either left or right. When a red arrow appeared, participants were instructed to do nothing.

Sessions were divided into two tests: On one occasion, participants were given a tyrosine-enriched orange juice before the task, and on the other, a glass of orange juice that contained a placebo.

Results showed that candidates showed improved reflexes after drinking the orange juice with tyrosine.

Researchers hypothesise that increased intake of tyrosine-rich foods and supplements could have implications on road safety, improving drivers' reaction times to braking for children or pile-ups.

Low levels of tyrosine are also linked to lower levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which can lead to depression and apathy.

The findings were published in the journal Neuropsychologia.

The research comes from the same university that published a study on the psychological effects of tryptophan, also found in soy, eggs and spinach in addition to fish. The paper theorised that the amino acid increased people's levels of trust in one another. — AFP Relaxnews

Watch a video presentation of the study and how tyrosine work:

Could this pill make you smarter?

Posted: 15 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

A TEAM of US scientists has created a pill packed with powerful antioxidants they claim could help make older adults smarter.

In a University of South Florida study, the supplement, made from blueberry and green tea extracts, as well as vitamin D3 and amino acids, was found to improve cognitive processing speeds and mental function in older adults.

Developed by a team of neuroscientists and gerontologists, the polyphenol-rich pill was designed to work as a moderator of age-related oxidative stress and inflammation.

For their research, scientists enlisted older adults between the ages of 65 and 85. After a two-month test period, the group of 52 participants who took the pill demonstrated improved cognitive function based on a battery of tests that measured their memory, processing speed, verbal ability, working memory, executive functioning and complex speed.

Compared to the placebo group (53 volunteers), those on the supplement posted improved performances on processing speeds.

"Processing speed is most often affected early on in the course of cognitive ageing," explained co-author Brent Small in a statement. "Successful performance in processing tasks often underlies more complex cognitive outcomes, such as memory and verbal ability."

The findings were published in the journal Rejuvenation Research.

Though the supplement is packed with high concentrations of some of nature's most powerful antioxidants, it's been well established that eating foods like blueberries, green tea and fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids in their unprocessed form can also act as dietary brain boosters. – AFP Relaxnews


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