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Sep 09, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- GRAINS ARE GOOD FOR YOU

Mayo Clinic researchers point out that grains -- in all shapes, sizes and serving styles -- are good for your health. From large kernels of popcorn to small quinoa seeds, grains, or cereals, are the widely varied seeds of grasses cultivated for food. They provide you with complex carbohydrates, fiber and various vitamins and minerals -- without risking your cholesterol count since they are naturally low in fat. Grains can be eaten alone, ground into flour, grown as sprouts or roasted to provide a tasty garnish. Mayo nutrition experts offer these tips for selecting, storing and preparing whole grains: Choose whole-grain breads, cereals, rice and pasta over refined products; choose items with at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving; store whole grains in airtight containers and in a cool, dry place; cook most grains in a liquid; cook grains until tender; consider ways to incorporate whole grains into every meal every day.


Contrary to commonly held conceptions, the aging brain retains its distinctive patterns of cognitive strengths and weaknesses. American and Australian researchers say if numbers had you scratching your head as a youth, they will be no easier to calculate in your senior years. On the other side of the aging coin, you will retain your strong suits as you grow old. The findings, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, come from a study of 1,823 70-to-84-year-olds. The results failed to confirm the popular theory of "dedifferentiation" -- that for any given person, varied cognitive skill levels start to merge late in life, perhaps due to brain changes. Rather, the researchers found that, for example, participants who, at age 72, were low on verbal skills but high on processing speed retained that difference at age 83. It appears in normal cognitive aging, people will maintain the relative strengths and weaknesses of their youth, scientists said.


Two studies show dry eye is a common and at times debilitating problem among middle-age and older women. One Harvard University study of nearly 40,000 women suggests some 3.2 million American women past age 50 -- or 1 in 12 -- have dry eye syndrome. The prevalence and severity appear to increase with age, the authors said in the American Journal of Ophthalmology. Symptoms include itching, burning, irritation, redness, blurred vision that improves with blinking, excessive tearing and increased discomfort after periods of reading, watching TV or working on a computer. The problem increases with age because as our bodies grow older, they produce less oil, especially in women who tend to have drier skin then men. With less oil to seal the watery layer, the tear film that lubricates the eyes evaporates faster, leaving dry areas on the cornea. Untreated, the condition can lead to infection and visual impairment, doctors said. In a second study, patients with moderate to severe dry eye said their condition was as debilitating as angina, or chest pain. Doctors say the key to preventing serious problems is early diagnosis and treatment.


Sept. 16 has been declared a national Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day, a good time to be screened for potentially life-threatening diseases. Many disorders can be treated or prevented with early detection, say doctors at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. "Preventive medicine is looking at health in a different way," said Dr. Greg Schneider, assistant professor of family practice and community medicine. "It's emphasizing that we can have an impact on health long before a problem sets in. Screening can have a very big impact on the ultimate outcome." Diseases that can be managed with early detection include: high blood pressure, which affects an estimated one in four American adults, can bring on heart attacks and strokes and can be controlled with mediation; flu, which can be prevented with an annual flu shot; glaucoma, a blinding disease of the optic nerve caused when there is too much pressure on the inside of the eye and which can be detected through an eye exam; breast cancer, which can make itself known in a mammogram; osteoporosis, a bone disease particularly prevalent in older women; prostate cancer, which strikes one in six men, is treatable when caught early and can be detected through an annual blood test; vascular disease, which affects all the body's arteries and remains little-known and rarely diagnosed. "A lot of people are walking around with these conditions, and they don't know it, and their doctors don't know it," said Dr. Patrick Clagett, chief of vascular surgery.

(Editors: For more information about GRAIN, call 507-284-2511. For AGING, Kaarin Anstey at 61-2-6125-8140 or For EYE, Elizabeth McHenry at 212-891-0425 or For DOCTOR, Staishy Siem at

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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