The Pope’s Declining Health and More Health News

Plus: Physical activity decreases dementia risk; healthy restaurants gain huge profits; and more health news.

Health experts are lauding Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down, pointing to clues about his declining health, like difficulty walking and his honesty about an inability to fulfill responsibilities as he ages. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh recommend that clinicians assess well-being among older adults by examining walking speed. Faster walking is associated with living longer and the slow moving Benedict was recently advised to discontinue trans-Atlantic flights due to an increased risk for thrombosis of the legs. The Vatican stresses that no specific medical condition prompted his decision, but in recent years, the pope has slowed down significantly, cutting back his foreign travel and limiting his audiences. [USA Today]

There are more reasons to love red wine and green tea, the antioxidant EGCG may fight Alzheimer’s, according to a new study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Researchers identified the process that may cause Alzheimer’s that allows harmful clumps of protein to latch on to brain cells, causing them to die. Then they used purified extracts of EGCG and it interrupted the process, suggesting that EGCG may stop the cells from dying. [Science Daily]

Restaurants that sell healthy items have more sales, according to a new study that will be published tomorrow by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and conducted by the Hudson Institute, a policy-research organization. The analysis of 21 fast-food and sit-down restaurant chains between 2006 and 2011 found that lower-calorie food and beverages helped fuel growth. [Wall Street Journal]

Staying physically fit throughout life can decrease your risk for dementia, according to a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Researchers found that compared with those in the lowest 20 percent for fitness in midlife, those in the highest 20 percent had a 36 percent reduced risk of dementia. [New York Times]