Luckily, in addition to the heady, clinical, and highly technical research that goes on in Israeli institutions, there are also some simple and doable everyday changes we can make to our lifestyles that can have a big impact on our health and happiness.
According to Israeli researchers, simple choices like eating three dates daily lowers triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood without raising the blood sugar. Breastfeeding your child appears to lessen the development of ADHD in children. And using a new, enhanced “talking” version of an application adapted for Android-based smart phones can allow vision-impaired users to hear all of the same phone functions as their fully sighted counterparts.
Students at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology developed the phone app, and Prof. Michael Aviram from the Rambam Medical Center and the Technion, along with Dr. Hamutal Borochov-Neori from the Southern Arava Agricultural Research and Development Station in Hevel Eilot, collaborated on the date study. Dr. Aviva Mimouni-Bloch from Tel Aviv University conducted the baby-nursing study.
The date research, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, would seem to be the simplest intervention with some of the biggest payoffs.
Aviram’s research group looked for vegetables and fruits that had “highly active antioxidants.”
According to their results reported in May 2013, out of the nine types of dates found in Israel, the most beneficial varieties were the Bar, Deri, Medjool, and Halawi. These varieties showed the most promise in delaying cholesterol oxidation, the leading cause of atherosclerosis and related cardiovascular diseases, including stroke and heart attacks.
Aviram’s team also found that dates flush excess cholesterol from the walls of arteries, which could potentially stop the accumulation process, possibly reverse it, or, at the least, slow it down. Date extracts were also found to contain highly effective and concentrated antioxidants that cleanse the body of free radicals.
This past spring, Dr. Aviva Mimouni-Bloch of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and head of Tel Aviv University’s Child Neurodevelopmental Center at Loewenstein Hospital found that children who were not breastfed at 3 months old and beyond developed Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder at three times the rate of children who were. The results of her research have been published in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine.
Mimouni-Bloch compared the breastfeeding histories of three groups of children between the ages of 6 and 12 years old at Schneider’s Children Medical Center in Israel.
One group was already diagnosed with ADHD, a second group was made up of the siblings of ADHD patients, and a third control group included children who were in the clinic, but who hadn’t been diagnosed with any neurobiological or ADHD-related problems.
“One of the unique elements of the study was the inclusion of the sibling group,” Dr. Mimouni-Bloch told TAU staff. “Although a mother will often make the same breastfeeding choices for all her children, this is not always the case. Some children’s temperaments might be more difficult than their siblings’, making it hard for the mother to breastfeed.”
As part of the study, parents were asked to answer an extensive questionnaire detailing the medical and demographic histories of their breastfeeding habits that are commonly associated with the development of ADHD.
They were also asked to provide a narrative that outlined their child’s breastfeeding history during their first year of life.
After three months, researchers found that in the ADHD group, 43 percent were breastfed, while 69 percent of the sibling group and 73 percent of the control group were breastfed.
After six months, 29 percent of the ADHD group was breastfed, compared to 50 percent of the sibling group, and 57 percent of the control group.
Researchers are not sure why breastfeeding produces this effect, but they speculate it could be the nutrition in the breast milk itself or the bond created between mother and child.
Finally, it took six months, eight students, help from Samsung Corp., and a purpose that focused on solving problems for others to turn a class computer science project at the Technion into a free Android app that helps sight-challenged would-be customers operate all the same functions on their phone that most everyone else takes for granted.
Because touchscreens are virtually useless to a person with low sight capability, in June 2013 Amir Mizrachi, Roman Gurevitz, Amir Blumenthal, Olivia Hoffman, Meital Messing, Amit Yaffe and Yaron Oster developed software that voices each function the user is selecting.
“The uniqueness of the application the students developed is that it is designed for any Android cell phone, it is available free of charge, and it requires no changes to the phone itself,” said the student’s supervisor and professor, Yossi Gil.