Mediterranean style diet may prevent dementia

The Mediterranean diet is easy to find in the grocery store, contains nutrients that are known to enhance longevity and has other health benefits that are backed by peer-reviewed, scientific studies. Broccoli makes the list because it's one of nature's most nutrient-dense foods, with only 30 calories per cup. That means you get a ton of hunger-curbing fiber and polyphenols -- antioxidants that detoxify cell-damaging chemicals in your body -- with each serving.

(CNN)Meals from the sunny Mediterranean have been linked to stronger bones, a healthier heart and longer life, along with a reduced risk for diabetes and high blood pressure.

Now you can add lowering your risk for dementia to the ever growing list of reasons to follow the Mediterranean diet or one of its dietary cousins.
New research being presented at the International Alzheimer’s Association conference in London this week found healthy older adults who followed the Mediterranean or the similar MIND diet lowered their risk of dementia by a third.
Mediterranean diet linked to lower risk of heart attack, stroke

Mediterranean diet linked to lower risk of heart attack, stroke
“Eating a healthy plant-based diet is associated with better cognitive function and around 30% to 35% lower risk of cognitive impairment during aging,” said lead author Claire McEvoy, of the University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine.
McEvoy stressed that because the study was conducted in a nationally representative older population “the findings are relevant to the general public.”
“While 35% is a greater than expected decrease for a lifestyle choice, I am not surprised,” said Rudolph Tanzi, who directs the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and recently co-authored a book with Deepak Chopra on genes and aging called “Super Genes.”
“The activity of our genes is highly dependent on four main factors: diet, exercise, sleep and stress management,” said Tanzi, who was not involved in the study. “Of these, perhaps diet is most important.”
Eating the Mediterranean diet may lead to a longer life
McEvoy’s study investigated at the eating habits of nearly 6,000 older Americans with an average age of 68. After adjusting for age, gender, race, low educational attainment and lifestyle and health issues — such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, depression, smoking and physical inactivity — researchers found that those who followed the MIND or Mediterranean diet had a 30% to 35% lower risk of cognitive impairment.
The more people stayed on those diets, said McEvoy, the better they functioned cognitively.
Those who marginally followed the diet also benefited, but by a much smaller margin. They were 18% less likely to exhibit signs of cognitive impairment.

What are the Mediterranean and MIND diets?

Forget lasagne, pizza, spanakopita and lamb souvlaki — they are not on the daily menu of those who live by the sunny Mediterranean seaside.
The true diet is simple, plant-based cooking, with the majority of each meal focused on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and seeds, with a few nuts and a heavy emphasis on extra virgin olive oil. Say goodbye to refined sugar or flour and fats other than olive oil, such as butter, are consumed rarely, if at all.
Meat can make a rare appearance, but usually only to flavor a dish. Instead, meals may include eggs, dairy and poultry, but in much smaller portions than in the traditional Western diet. Fish, however, are a staple.
The MIND diet takes the best brain foods of the Mediterranean diet and the famous salt-reducing DASH diet, and puts them together. MIND encourages a focus on eating from 10 healthy food groups while rejecting foods from five unhealthy groups.
MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, with DASH standing for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
MIND was developed by Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center in the US.
Is the Mediterranean diet good for kids, too?

Is the Mediterranean diet good for kids, too?
Those who follow MIND reject butter and stick margarine, red meats, cheeses, fried or fast food and sweets. Instead, they eat at least six servings a week of green leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale, and at least one serving a day of another vegetable. Three servings a day of whole grains are a must.
They also add in at least three servings of beans, two or more servings of berries, two servings of chicken or turkey, and once serving of fish each week. Olive oil is their main cooking ingredient, and they drink a glass of wine a day.
Morris has some powerful stats behind her diet.
In 2015, she studied 923 Chicago-area seniors and found those who say they followed the diet religiously had a 53% lower chance of getting Alzheimer’s, while those who followed it moderately lowered their risk by about 35%. Follow-up observational studies showed similar benefits.
Morris and her colleagues are currently recruiting volunteers for a three-year clinical study to try to prove the link.

Additional evidence

A second study presented at the conference also examined the impact of the MIND diet. Researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine followed 7,057 women, average age 71, over almost 10 years and found those who most closely followed the MIND diet had a 34% reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
High-fat Mediterranean diet, not low-fat one, is how you lose weight

High-fat Mediterranean diet, not low-fat one, is how you lose weight
A third study at the conference looked at the dietary habits of 2,223 dementia-free Swedish adults over six years who followed the Nordic Prudent Dietary Pattern (NPDP) diet, which avoids sweets and fatty and processed foods. Instead, the diet emphasizes eating non-root vegetables, apple/pears/peaches, pasta/rice, poultry, fish, vegetable oils, tea and water, and light to moderate wine intake.
Swedes who stuck to the diet at a moderate or higher level preserved their cognitive function better than those who ate more processed and fatty foods.
Lastly, a fourth study examined MRI brain scans of 330 cognitively normal adults, with an average age of 79, and found eating foods that raise inflammation in the body — such as sweets, processed foods and fried and fatty foods — raised the risk for a shrinking “aging” brain and lower cognitive function.
That comes as no surprise to neurologist Rudy Tanzi.
“Foods that keep blood pressure normal, provide us with antioxidants, and maintain healthy bacteria in our gut, or microbiome, will serve to help keep chronic inflammation in check in the brain and entire body,” said Tanzi.
Despite the similarities of the results, experts point out that all of this research is observational, meaning that it is based on reports by individuals as to what they eat. To prove the connection between diet and dementia risk, said McEvoy, researchers will need to move to scientifically controlled experiments.
“I think the studies, taken together, suggest a role for high quality dietary patterns in brain health and for protection against cognitive decline during aging,” said McEvoy. “Diet is modifiable, and in light of these studies we need clinical trials to test whether changing diet can improve or maintain cognition.”
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Until that definite proof is available, say experts, there’s no harm in using this information to makes changes in your diet and lifestyle that could help protect your brain.
“Although the idea that a healthy diet can help protect against cognitive decline as we age is not new, the size and length of these four studies demonstrate how powerful good dietary practices may be in maintaining brain health and function,” said Keith Fargo, Alzheimer’s Association Director of Scientific Programs and Outreach.
Tanzi agrees. “It’s about time we started placing a greater emphasis on what we eat as we strive to have our ‘healthspan’ keep up with our increasing ‘lifespan’.”

Surface Book Toast Wood cover review: Protect your laptop in style


Only two kinds of electronic devices exist in this world: the kind that have been scratched and the kind that are gonna get scratched.

A scratch or nick on your budget laptop may not bug you, but on your pristine $1,900 brushed-aluminum Microsoft Surface Book… that hurts.

Enter Toast’s custom wood covers. Long available for most models of Apple laptops, as well as the Surface Pro line, Toast’s covers now also fit the Surface Book.

The Toast covers come in walnut, ash, and “ebony” wood veneers, as well as bamboo. And if you care about such things, the company says the wood is sourced from responsibly managed forests in North America, while the bamboo is from sustainable sources in Asia.

A full kit for the Surface Book can cover the top, the bottom, the sides, and the keyboard deck. Toast sells the pieces separately, which may seem annoying if you expect a full set, but it means you can buy replacement sections, too. (Amazon sells all the parts together for $105).


Gordon Mah Ung

The Surface Book kit I installed included a top, bottom, and keyboard deck cover.

The wood and bamboo sticks to your laptop using a super-strong 3M adhesive. Different sections appeared to use different strengths of adhesive—I’m guessing because some parts may be more prone to detachment. Should you choose to remove part of the cover, tiny holes punched into the adhesive make that possible. You just need to first heat up the attached cover with a hair dryer.


Gordon Mah Ung

Don’t be disturbed by the little holes in the adhesive backing—they’re there to make removal possible.


If you’re the kind of person who drinks 10 cups of coffee a day and never, ever successfully put the decals on your model battleship, this process may not be for you. You need fairly steady hands, patience, and maybe 30 minutes so you can relax while doing the job.

Before you apply the cover, you’ll want to clean the entire laptop. Toast includes two alcohol wipes for this, but to me that seems like wishful thinking. Unless your laptop is brand-new, it’s likely covered with fingerprints and strawberry-jam smears, and may need more intensive cleaning than two tiny wipes can handle. I ended up digging into my own stash of alcohol wipes and burning four of them as well before I was satisfied that I had removed enough of the grime. This is an important step, especially on the smaller sections, as fingerprint oils will prevent the adhesive from bonding to the surface.


Here’s the Surface Book before applying the Toast wood cover.

From there, you simply follow the instructions laid out by Toast. For the Surface Book, the top cover goes on first. It’s best not to touch the adhesive, but if you get some of its stickiness on your hands, that will help keep the cover from slipping out of your hands. Dropping a section onto a dust-covered floor could be fatal. It’s unlikely you’d ever get floor grit off the adhesive, and grinding that into the aluminum of a laptop is probably worse than not having a cover.

Again, you need steady hands for the job, as there are tiny little pieces like the power button and volume rocker keys to install. The side covers and the hinge are particularly scary to install, since they look and feel very delicate, but those dainty parts survived. (I did, too.)


You won’t be installing these with ease if you’re a 12-cups-of-coffee-per-day person.

While installing, don’t be afraid to peel back the cover a little if it’s not going on perfectly straight. Lining things up just right is important, as the entire Toast kit is cut with extreme precision.


Gordon Mah Ung

The precision of the Toast wood cover kit is amazing.

The result

After installation, I’d have to admit I was pretty impressed by the fit and finish of Toast’s wood cover kit.


Gordon Mah Ung

The Toast cover for the Surface Book blends in well on my hardwood floors.

The Surface Book is probably one of the most unique (if not the most unique laptop) today. It has a lot of weird curves and angles to account for, and this particular cover handles them well. In the photo below, you can see how this cover fits the edges of the Surface Book.


One of the more difficult installation challenges on the Surface Book is its crazy hinge. For that, you’ll need to install multiple thin strips across the length of it and bend delicate pieces over the corners. One concern I have about the tiny little pieces of wood is they will eventually rub or break off. However, Toast does sell the individual pieces, so at least replacing them won’t be a big deal.


Gordon Mah Ung

Not all of the hinge gets covered, though.

My other concern, particularly with the Surface Book, is heat retention. The Surface Book packs a lot of hardware in the super-thin tablet section, so heat dissipation is key to keeping the fan quiet. Normally some of the heat generated by internal hardware can be radiated through the aluminum chassis—aluminum, after all, is a relatively good heat conductor. But when you slap a layer of adhesive and piece of wood on there, you’re basically insulating it.

heatmap black

Thermals with the Toast cover on the Surface Book are slightly concerning, but is extra fan noise worse than protection?

Since the Surface Book is actively cooled by a fan, it won’t overheat, but it could mean the fan will kick on a little earlier than it might have without the Toast cover in place. But hey, it is called Toast, right?


Gordon Mah Ung

Microsoft’s Surface Book has formally been admitted to the pretentious cafe crowd.


I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I’d be impressed by Toast’s wood cover. After I’d applied it, though, I could appreciate the precision the company puts into each part. It has to be installed with military exactness. And being an adhesive cover, you won’t get a build-up of dust underneath it that could eventually scratch the Surface Book’s aluminum surface, like you might with a snap-on cover.

The only real negative—provided you don’t mind that there are only wood options—is the price. The basic kit is $69. That gets you just the tablet portion, the sides, and the hinge. The bottom cover is an oddly separate $30. The price keeps going up if you want more thorough coverage: The keyboard tray runs another $20, and the Windows logo cutout is another $5. If you want to protect just about every surface of the Surface Book, the total outlay will be $124.

That’s a hell of a lot of money to shell out for a laptop cover. Sure, it’s not some extruded plastic cover or faux carbon-fiber sticker, but that’s a pretty penny for what some will see as wood paneling for your laptop.

Still, its laser-cut precision and distinctive look can’t be denied, and for what you’re getting, it’s worth it when you consider the material and fit.


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Dune Case mimics Mac Pro style for build-your-own PCs


A new desktop PC case aims to combine the style of a Mac Pro with the flexibility of a custom Windows rig.

Dune Case is a $200 PC enclosure with a cylindrical design. It supports Mini-ITXmotherboards, along with a standard ATX processor, Mini-ITX graphics card, and SFX power supply. The case, which comes in metallic black or gold, weighs 5.7 pounds, and measures 10 inches tall by 8.5 inches in diameter.

Aside from just looking more impressive than a boxy desktop, the Dune Case’s design supposedly improves circulation. Cool air comes in from the bottom, where the power supply mount splits air into separate CPU and GPU chambers. A case fan blows out hot air through a lid at the top.


Other specs for the case include dual 2.5-inch hard drive mounts, four USB 3.0 ports, two 3.5mm audio ports (for mic and speaker), dual HDMI or DisplayPort 1.2 outputs, and ethernet.

Now for some words of caution: This is a Kickstarter project, which is aiming to raise $130,000 by March 16. (As of this writing, it’s a little under halfway there.) While the makers claim to have stress-tested their design with four prototypes and computer simulations, they haven’t actually shown any video evidence of a fully working PC. They also provide no information about past product experience, except that their team includes “a professional designer and quality manufacturing partner.”

In other words, one might be skeptical about stuffing hundreds of dollars of PCcomponents into this case without a little more evidence of it working. If you’re undeterred, the makers of Dune Case claim they’ll start delivering the product in July to Kickstarter backers.

Why this matters: Assuming the product does work as advertised, it would be a refreshing alternative to the often dull array of Mini-ITX cases. While we’ve seen somePC makers crack the mold with fully built systems—MSI’s recently-announced Vortexbeing one example—the cost savings that come from custom builds could help take the sting out of the case price itself.

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