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Researchers seeking the elusive fountain of youth are shining the spotlight on protein. Eating more protein may reduce seniors' risk of disability and help them remain independent longer, a new British study suggests. Dietary protein slows the age-related loss of muscle mass, helping to preserve the ability to do everyday tasks, the researchers said. "Our findings support current thinking about increasing the recommended daily intake of protein to maintain active and healthy aging," said principal author Nuno Mendonca,

The "hygiene hypothesis" holds that early exposure to a variety of microorganisms may decrease the risk for chronic inflammatory diseases, like asthma. Two Swedish studies that tracked 650,000 children found that exposure to farm animals and even dogs can have this kind of beneficial effect. Living on a farm cut kids' asthma rate by half. Just having a dog in baby's first year was linked to a 13 percent lower risk of asthma later on, the